Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Google dips into CSR budget, ties up with Election Commission for voters’ registration

The Election Commission (EC) has  entered a key partnership with US-based internet giant, Google, to help it manage online voter registration and facilitation services ahead of the democratic exercise. Over the next six months, Google will offer EC its resources, including its search engine, to enable voters to check their enrollment status online and locate their polling station, complete with directions using Google Maps.

The "arrangement" between EC and Google is learnt to have been clinched late this month, and is expected to be "operational" by the second week of January. As part of the partnership, Google will put its worldwide network and resources at the Commission's disposal until June 2014 to help it manage online registration of new voters and allow the enrolled ones to check the address at which they are registered, and get directions to the polling station. With the new rolls with reference to January 1, 2014, slated to be out by January 6, the voters' queries on the Commission website are likely to be managed by Google starting from the second week of January.

Google will not charge the EC for these services, estimated to cost $50,000 (over Rs 30 lakh), and fund the same from its corporate social responsibility (CSR) budget.

"The EC is going ahead with the use of hi-tech and professional expertise to manage online enrolment of voters and search a voter's name in electoral rolls along with the polling station. "So, all that one needs to do now is to type his name/EPIC no and address on the Google Search engine, which will promptly generate results matching the voters' name with his assembly/Lok Sabha constituency, and pinpointing the location of his polling station...in fact, Google Maps will give exact directions to the voter on how to get to the correct polling station on the polling day," explained a senior EC official.

Google is offering similar services across 100 countries as part of its CSR obligations. The American firm had approached the EC some time ago to offer its expertise for better management of online services on the Commission's website, particularly voter enrolment and facilitation. The Commission, which felt that the management of its online interface with the voters left much scope for improvement, welcomed the offer from the "global leader" and the two signed on the dotted line recently.

EC is also exploring the option of using the worldwide network and servers of Google for dissemination of results for the 2014 general election likely to be held in May. EC had tied up with US-based IT firm Akamai for putting out results for the recent assembly polls in five states. The use of 272 servers of Akamai across the world to disseminate the results, as against barely two servers in use during the 2009 Lok Sabha poll, ensured that the ECI website could handle the millions of hits it received per minute on the counting day (December 8).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Encash cheque via phone in UK

People will be able to take pictures of cheques on their smartphones and send them to their bank to receive the money early, under a British treasury plan announced on Thursday.

The idea could give individuals and businesses access to payments by cheque in two days instead of six days as at present. It could also safeguard the long term future of the cheque in the age of internet banking.

Legislation allowing banks to process images rather than paper is one option being considered by the treasury. The technology is already widely used in the US and Barclays Bank plans to experiment with mobile cheque depositing in the UK in the new year.

The change could take effect by next Christmas. Customers without smartphones would be able to use similar technology at cashpoints or bank branches or continue to pay in paper cheques if they wished.

"Cheque imaging" does not require a hard copy of the cheque at every stage of the paying-in process. Saving the time spent transferring paper copies between different banks and central clearing depots means it also cuts costs.

Cheques with a value of almost £840 bn were processed in the UK in 2012 — 10% of all payments by individuals.

Some 23 million cheques were used as gifts because they are still the most trusted method of sending money through the post.

Businesses accounted for more than 370 million cheque transactions and a quarter of payments made by small businesses were by cheque.

Sajid Javid, the financial secretary to the treasury, said: "This government is determined to create a banking sector that works for consumers and serves businesses. We want to see more innovation so that customers see the benefits of new technologies."

John Allan, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Speeding up cheque payments into business accounts is to be welcomed as many find the current process frustratingly slow."

The treasury also announced a plan to boost lending to small firms by making it easier for the new "challenger" banks that are taking on the "Big Four" high street names to check the creditworthiness of potential business customers. It will consult on new rules requiring banks to share their credit data on small and medium-sized enterprises through credit reference agencies. At present, the Big Four banks control 85% of lending to these firms.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Gay sex verdict- Government moves Supreme Court for review

Government on Friday moved the Supreme Court with a review petition seeking re-examination of its verdict on Section 377 of IPC, reviving the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment.

The review petition contended that the December 11 judgment of the apex court setting aside the Delhi high court verdict decriminalizing sexual intercourse between same sex of consenting adults is "unsustainable".

The Centre's petition settled by attorney general G E Vahavati sought that oral arguments be heard in an open court before disposing of its review petition.

The review petitions are generally decided in chamber hearing.

In the petition filed through advocate Devdutt Kamath, the Centre has taken 76 grounds to contend that the judgment passed by Justice G S Singhvi (since retired) and Justice S J Mukhopadhaya "suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record, and is contrary to well-established principles of law laid down by this court enunciating the width and ambit of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution."

"The govt has filed the review petition on Section 377 in the Supreme Court today. Let's hope the right to personal choices is preserved, Union law minister Kapil Sibal tweeted on Friday.

The Supreme Court recently dealt a cruel blow to lakhs of homosexuals, many of whom had started living together after the Delhi high court decriminalized same-sex relationships four years ago, by making it a crime again, even if it is consensual and done between adults in private. The 'crime' will attract a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

The bench of Justices Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya reversed the Delhi HC's 2009 verdict and held that the 150-year-old Section 377, criminalizing gay sex, "does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality."

The bench said: "In the light of plain meaning and legislative history of the section, we hold that Section 377 IPC would apply irrespective of age and consent." It added that the section does not discriminate any group with a particular sexual preference, a stand that was diametrically opposite to that by the Delhi HC.

"It is relevant to mention here that Section 377 IPC does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation. It merely identifies certain acts, which if committed, would constitute an offence. Such prohibition regulates sexual conduct regardless of gender identity and orientation," Justices Singhvi said.

Monday, December 16, 2013

SC comes to the rescue of daughter of Rajasthan HC judge

The Supreme Court on Monday came to the rescue of the daughter of a sitting Rajasthan high court judge, allegedly restrained by him from marrying her boyfriend, by asking the state police to hand her over to her companion. 

"Keeping in view her welfare and the fact that she has already attained majority, we say that she is at liberty to take her own future decisions," a bench comprising justices H L Dattu and C Nagappan said after recording the statement of the girl who said she wanted to marry Siddharth Mukherjee. 

Mukherjee had filed the petition alleging that Justice 
Raghvendra Singh Rathore, a judge of the Rajasthan high court, was averse to his daughter's plan to marry him as he did not belong to their caste and had put his 30-year-old daughter under house arrest. 

The bench directed the authorities at 
Gandhinagar police station in Jaipur to hand over the girl to Mukherjee and gave them the liberty to approach the apex court in case any "inconvenience" is caused to them.

During the hearing, it said, "We informed her in the beginning that she is free to make a statement and assured her of the protection from the court. 

"She states (in the statement to the top court) that she does not have any ill will against anybody and wanted to marry the petitioner." 

The bench then disposed of the petition with a direction to the police to allow her to go to Mukherjee. 

Earlier, the court had issued a notice on the plea and asked the state police to produce the girl before it on December 16. 

The girl had last month written emails to Supreme Court and Rajasthan high court judges seeking help.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SC order shadow on red beacon status symbol

The Supreme Court banning the use of the ubiquitous "lal batti" on all vehicles except those used by dignitaries holding constitutional posts.

The state government has said it would begin the process of identifying eligible beacon users following the apex court's ruling, but the authorities have been drawing flak for failing to curb the misuse of beacons by those not entitled to use them.

On September 27, 2010, the state transport department had issued a notification identifying 25 categories of positions eligible for using red beacons and 19 for amber lights, but the department failed to crack the whip on the violators.

"Let's hope that the state government will now execute the Supreme Court order in true spirit because it has turned a blind eye to violators in the past," said Nishikant Mishra, a high court lawyer and secretary of Utkal Vidyarthi Abhiyan (UVA), a voluntary organization.

Mishra said the new law would only benefit those bearing constitutional posts such as governor, speaker, deputy speaker, chief minister, cabinet ministers, ministers of state, chief justice of high court and high court judges.

The UVA had several times in the past filed PILs in the high court, seeking to check the misuse of red beacons. The September 2010 notification came in response to the high court directive following UVA's petition.

"According to the Flag Code India, 2002, and Motor Vehicle's Act, the use of flashing red lights is restricted to flag-bearing cars, that is, only those dignitaries who have the privilege of flying the national flag on their cars," Mishra said.

"In Odisha, a large number of government officials from different departments, judiciary and local bodies, state government officials not connected with the police, police officers working in non-police departments like printing presses and OSRTC use red lights even though they are not authorized to do so," Mishra added. He said though the transport department serviced notices to nearly 110 'unauthorized' dignitaries to remove red beacons from their vehicles, not a single person complied with the order.

While the state government's notification restricted chairperson of the state commission for women (SCW) from using red or amber beacon, the vehicle of the chairperson is still fitted with the beacon.

Contacted, state transport secretary G. Mathivathan said: "We had written all district collectors, SPs and commissioners of police to enforce the law. We will now abide by the Supreme Court order and release a new list of the eligible red beacon users."

Homosexuality is an offence, Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the decision of the Delhi high court, which had in 2009 decriminalised sexual relation between persons belonging to same sex.

The apex court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code that makes anal sex a punishable offence.

LGBT activists, whose sexual relationships had been legalised by the Delhi HC, broke down inside the court room.

Parliament is authorised to remove Section 377, but as long as this provision is there, the court can not legalise this kind of sexual relationship, the SC bench observed.

"It is for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of the IPC," the apex court said.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya had reserved judgment on March 27 last year on a bunch of petitions, many arguing in support and some against the HC verdict, after hearing arguments on a day-to-day basis for over a month.

While pleading for decriminalisation of gay sex, the Centre had subsequently told the court that the anti-gay law in the country had resulted from British colonialism and the Indian society was much more tolerant towards homosexuality.

The Delhi high court had on July 2, in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence.

Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term.

Those in favour of the Delhi HC verdict and those opposed to it are divided on religious considerations. While liberal organizations, including NGOs advocating LGBT rights, are supporting the HC decision, those opposed to it are mainly from religious groups belonging to Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities.

Those who challenged the Delhi HC verdict, which came on a petition filed by NGO 'Naz Foundation', included BJP leader B P Singhal, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance.

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhagam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Married daughters entitled to job on father's death: HC

The Bombay high court has ruled that a married daughter is equally entitled to a government job on compassionate grounds on father's demise.

Giving job to unmarried daughters of government servants but denying the same benefit to married daughters violates the right to equality, equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and right to life which are enshrined in the Constitution, the court said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by 29-year-old Swati Kulkarni against Maharashtra Irrigation Department's decision to reject her claim for a job on compassionate grounds after her father's demise.

The department had cited a 1994 Government Resolution (GR) which said that only unmarried daughters would get this benefit.

The petitioner's father Ashok Kulkarni died while in service in 2008. Both her mother and younger sister did not wish to take the job, so Kulkarni herself staked claim.

Her name was put on waiting list. But when she got married, the name was struck off. Aggrieved, she moved the High Court challenging the October 1994 GR.

The division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite Dere yesterday quashed the Irrigation Officer's decision and ordered that Kulkarni's name be included in the waiting list.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Should 'juvenile maturity' be yardstick in trials?

 As the Centre prepares to deal with the public demand post-Nirbhaya case to limit the lenient trial process under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of those aged 16-18 years accused of heinous crimes, the Supreme Court on Monday touched on the maturity of juveniles as a yardstick in such cases.

Should not trial courts examine the 'level of maturity and understanding' of a juvenile before permitting his trial by a Juvenile Justice Board, especially in serious and heinous offences, asked a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde before seeking a response from the Union ministry of women and child development.

In the brutal gang-rape-cum murder of Nirbhaya, a 17-year-old accused was tried by a Juvenile Justice Board and remanded to three years in a reform home. Other adult co-accused were convicted by a criminal court and awarded death penalty.

Given the remorseless barbarity shown by the perpetrators of the heinous crime, there has been a clamour for revisiting the lenient provisions of the JJ Act that allow those involved in such serious offences to receive lighter punishment solely because they were under 18 years at the time of commission of the crime.

Nirbhaya's parents through counsel Aman Hingorani argued before Justices Chauhan and Bobde about the constitutional transgression effected by Parliament-enacted JJ Act, which took away the Indian Penal Code conferred jurisdiction on normal criminal courts to try a person accused of a crime.

Hingorani said the IPC had provided for exceptions - Section 82 saying nothing is an offence that is done by a child below 7 years of age; and Section 83 which says "nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under 12, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge of the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion".

He said the discretion vested in the court to test the maturity level of a child and co-relate it to commission of offence, as provided under the IPC, had been taken away by the JJ Act. The law warranted that a person accused of the crime, if he was below the age of 18 years, should be mandatorily tried by a JJ Board.

The bench clarified the petitioners' challenge to the constitutionality of the JJ Act might not stand judicial scrutiny as it was a special law enacted by Parliament keeping in view India's obligations under international treaties and agreements.

However, it agreed with Hingorani that it could be examined whether the JJ Act could have stripped normal criminal courts of the power conferred under Section 83 of the IPC to examine the maturity and understanding level of the juvenile aged 16-18 years and involved in a heinous offence.

It issued notice to the Union ministry of women and child development and sought its response within four weeks. However, it declined to seek response of the juvenile in Nirbhaya case for the time being.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ganguly named as ex-SC judge accused of molesting intern

Retired Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly on Friday faced the ignominious prospect of being made to stand in the dock after a three-judge panel investigating a young law graduate's allegation of having been harassed by a "recently retired judge" recorded that she has stood by her charge and named him as her tormentor. 

Justice Ganguly, who retired in February last year on a high after being part of the bench which monitored CBI investigations into the 2G spectrum scam, denied every charge made by the graduate from National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) and claimed that he was a "victim of circumstances". 

The three-judge inquiry panel of Justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai did a fast-track inquiry and submitted its report to Chief Justice P Sathasivam on Thursday, completing its work within 15 days of its first sitting on November 13, a day after TOI first reported the law graduate's charge. 

The ball is now squarely in the CJI's court as he, who had set up the panel, would be expected to decide the next course of action based on the findings in the report, which contain the girl's deposition, her three affidavits standing by her earlier statements and Justice Ganguly's denial. 

Interestingly, a writ petition filed by attorney general G E Vahanvati seeking expeditious inquiry into the "serious allegations" leveled by the NUJS graduate is still pending before a bench headed by Justice Sathasivam. 

The CJI two days back had assured, ironically in his speech during Law Day which is celebrated to mark adoption of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly, that "justice will be done in all respects" in the law intern's case. 

One of the options before the Justice Sathasivam-headed bench is to make the three-judge panel inquiry report public during the hearing on Vahanvati's writ petition. If he does so, then the law graduate and Justice Ganguly might be required to appear before the bench and defend their stands either personally or through their counsel. 

This is the first instance in the 63-year history of the Supreme Court that a retired judge was inquired by a CJI-appointed panel for sexual harassment charges. 

What saved the day for the judiciary at one of its most embarrassing moments was the CJI's alacrity in setting up an inquiry committee, expeditious fact finding by it, assuring the law graduate of complete confidentiality of proceedings, and the head of the judiciary's resolve to take the report to its logical conclusion. 

The official statement released by the Supreme Court read, "The committee constituted to inquire into allegations of sexual harassment leveled by a law intern against a former Supreme Court judge held its meetings on November 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27. The statement of the law intern was recorded. She has also submitted three affidavits. Statement of Justice (retired) A K Ganguly was recorded. That committee has submitted its report to the Chief Justice of India on November 28, 2013." 

The NUJS graduate had on November 6 first posted in her blog that a "recently retired judge", who was "old enough to be her grandfather", harassed her in a hotel room at a time when Delhi had erupted against the brutal gang-rape of Nirbhaya in December last year. 

After her blog post in the 'Journal of Indian Law and Society', she reiterated and further detailed her charges against the 'retired judge" on November 11 in an interview to the website 'Legally India'. She explained that she had "cowardly" decided not to wage legal battle against her alleged tormentor but decided to speak out "as I felt I had a responsibility to ensure that other young girls were not put in a similar situation". 

In her interview to 'Legally India', she said, "I have heard of three other cases (of sexual harassment) by the same judge and I know of at least four other girls who've faced harassment from other judges -- not perhaps as (bad as mine): most of them were in the chambers of the judge and other people around, so it never gets too bad. A girl I know faced continuous sexual harassment throughout and sexual advances, and actually faced troubles through her work because of it."

Vishaka and others V. State of Rajasthan and others

Thursday, November 28, 2013

If married man walks out of relation, live-in partner not entitled to relief -SC

Domestic Violence Act could not be invoked by a woman in a live-in relationship with a married man, especially if she knew his marital status.

A relationship between a woman and a married man could not be termed a 'relationship in the nature of marriage', the basic requirement for an aggrieved woman in a live-in relationship to take recourse to DV Act for action against her 'erring' partner, the court said.

After giving this interpretation to live-in relationship between a married man and an unmarried woman, a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose said if the married man walked out of such a relationship, the woman was not entitled to seek maintenance under DV Act from him.

On the contrary, it warned, the deserted woman ran a risk of being sued for damages by the man's wife and children for alienating them from the love and care of their husband/father.

But the bench was aware of the social reality of married men walking out of live-in relationships. Finding that in such situations, poor and illiterate women suffered the most, the apex court appealed to Parliament to take remedial measures through appropriate legislation.

One Indra Sarma had a live-in relationship with V K V Sarma, already married with two children. The man moved in with her, started a business enterprise with her and after several years, went back to his family.

After the live-in relationship ended, Indra moved a Bangalore court demanding from him a house, a monthly maintenance of Rs 25,000, reimbursement of her medical bills and Rs 3.50 lakh in damages.

The trial court found that the two lived together for 18 years. Finding the woman aggrieved, the magistrate directed the man to pay Rs 18,000 per month towards her maintenance under DV Act. The sessions court upheld the trial court decision.

But the Karnataka High Court set aside the trial court order saying the live-in relationship did not fall within the ambit of "relationship in the nature of marriage", a cardinal principle for one to invoke DV Act.

Upholding the HC order, Justices Radhakrishnan and Ghose said, "We are of the view that the appellant (Indra Sarma) having been fully aware of the fact that respondent (V K V Sarma) was a married person, could not have entered into a live-in relationship in the nature of marriage.

"Appellant's and respondent's relationship is, therefore, not a 'relationship in the nature of marriage' because it has no inherent or essential characteristic of a marriage, but a relationship other than 'in the nature of marriage' and the appellant's status is lower than the status of a wife and that relationship would not fall within the definition of 'domestic relationship' under Section 2(f) of the DV Act. Consequently, any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent in connection with that type of relationship, would not amount to 'domestic violence' under Section 3 of the DV Act."

But the bench noticed the deficiency in law to address such relationships in which women, especially poor and illiterate, suffer the most when their partners -already married men - just walk out. The court said it was for Parliament to take remedial legislative steps to plug this loophole in law.

The bench said, "We have, on facts, found that the appellant's status was that of a mistress, who is in distress, a survivor of a live-in relationship which is of serious concern, especially when such persons are poor and illiterate, in the event of which vulnerability is more pronounced, which is a social reality. Children born out of such relationship also suffer most which calls for bringing in remedial measures by Parliament through proper legislation."

Despite the concern, the bench decided to go by the law and said, "If any direction is given to the respondent to pay maintenance or monetary consideration to the appellant, that would be at the cost of the legally wedded wife and children of the respondent, especially when they had opposed that relationship and have a cause of action against the appellant (the woman) for alienating the companionship and affection of the husband/parent which an intentional tort."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Drunk Pakistan Airlines pilot jailed for nine months in UK

LONDON: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilot was today jailed for nine months by a British court for being over the legal alcohol limit when he was due to fly a plane with 156 people on board to Islamabad.

Irfan Faiz, 55, was held at Leeds Bradford Airport on September 18 as he underwent pre-flight checks in an Airbus 310 with 145 passengers and 11 crew.

He was about to pilot the PIA flight to Islamabad when he was asked to leave the cockpit due to concerns raised by security staff, who said he smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet.

The father of two was found to have three times the legal amount of alcohol in his blood, prosecutors told Leeds Crown Court in northern England. The legal limit for driving a car is 35 microgrammes but for flying in the UK it just nine.

Sentencing him, Justice Peter Coulson said Faiz had committed a "very serious offence".

He described as "extraordinary" that the rules in Pakistan only stated that there should be a 12-hour gap between "bottle and throttle", no matter how much the pilot had drunk.

"This is a very serious offence. If he had not been stopped, he would have flown the aircraft to Islamabad. That could have had potential catastrophic consequences," he said.

"Many people find flying a difficult and nervous ordeal at the best of times. They need to have absolute confidence in their safety and security."

Faiz told police that he had drunk three-quarters of a bottle of whisky but had stopped drinking at about 3:00 am, some 19 hours ahead of the planned take-off.

His barrister Paul Greaney told the court his client was not a heavy drinker but was under a lot of stress at the time because of a kidnap threat against his family. The court heard the defendant is from a prominent family in Pakistan.

Greaney told the judge that, despite being an experienced pilot, Faiz was not aware of the rules about drinking and flying in the UK.

Justice Coulson said he was "astonished" to hear pilots regularly flying out of the UK were not aware of the rules about alcohol consumption, which are based on the amount of alcohol present in the body.

In a statement, a PIA spokesperson said "further action" would be taken against Faiz once he had completed his sentence in the UK. "The maximum sentence is termination from service," he said.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

SC slams UP govt over riot compensation

 ‘How can relief be denied on ground of religion?’ 
A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi took serious exception to the notification and said, “In your relief operations, if your notification favours one community, then it is bound to backfire. How can relief and rehabilitation measures be denied on the ground of religion?” 
Senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan immediately assured the court that no one would be discriminated and that a corrigendum to the notification would soon be issued. “The team which visited the relief camps thought only Muslims wanted relocation. Now it will be extended to all, whoever wanted to relocate,” he said. 
However, the bench, after a brief deliberation, asked for the notification to be withdrawn. “We feel you have to recall this notification and issue a fresh one to include all riot affected families whosoever is eligible irrespective of their religious or community identity,” the judges said. 
Dhavan instantly gave the undertaking to the court that the state would immediately withdraw the ‘faulty’ notification and issue it afresh as soon as possible extending the relocation grant of Rs 5 lakh to riot victims without discrimination. Then the court issued notice on a writ petition filed by one Ravindra Kumar of Malikpur Majra Kawal village in Muzaffarngar district, who alleged the police investigation into the riots was biased. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Adultery justifies divorce: Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court has upheld a family court order granting divorce to a man after his wife failed to prove that her second child was the husband’s biological son and she refused to undergo a DNA test. 

“A single act of adultery is enough to grant decree of divorce and that there cannot be greater form of cruelty than this which can be meted out by a wife to her husband,” a division bench of judges VK Tahilramani and VL Achliya said on Monday. “This cruelty is such that it causes mental and emotional suffering.” 
According to the divorce petition, the couple was married in 2002 and the woman moved to her parents’ home when she contracted tuberculosis in June 2005. When she returned to her husband’s house in January 2006, she was three months pregnant although there had been no sexual contact between the two during the period. The husband said this amounted to mental cruelty and filed an application in family court for a DNA test to prove that he was not the biological father. The woman refused to undergo the test. 
The woman challenged the family court decision granting divorce and rejecting her plea for restitution of conjugal rights in the high court. She also sought permanent alimony and a monthly maintenance for the second child.
The high court stated that the woman was required to prove that the husband was the biological father by producing cogent, supportive and corroborative evidence, but this was not done. “There is no evidence to corroborate the case of the wife. We also find that her evidence is not trustworthy and reliable,” the judges stated. 
Noting that the woman had deserted her husband in 2007 and did not return to her matrimonial home despite repeated attempts, the judges said: “...the wife is voluntarily residing in the parents’ home by deserting the respondent (husband), she is not entitled to get maintenance. Further, the second child is not the biological child of the husband, so he is not legally liable to maintain him.” The court has stayed its order for eight weeks to allow the woman to appeal in Supreme Court.
The second child is not the biological child of the husband. So he is not legally liable to maintain him
A division bench of Bombay high court

'Porn sites cause crime against women' Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday said it wanted immediate steps taken to block websites with pornographic content, especially those featuring children.

The court asked the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) about the steps which can be taken in this regard. 

A bench headed by Justice B.S. Chauhan asked the Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, of which DoT is a part, to file its response within three weeks.

The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Kamlesh Vaswani, who pleaded that although watching obscene videos was not an offence, pornographic sites should be banned as they were one of the major causes behind crimes against women. 

States which watch the most porn

"The absence of Internet laws encourages people to watch porn videos and over 20 crore videos or clippings are freely available in the market, which have been directly downloaded from the Internet or copied from video CDs," the petition stated. 

Legal experts say the Information Technology Act does not make it illegal to view adult porn but watching child porn is an offence and the law applies to "whoever creates text or digital images, collects, seeks, browses, downloads'' child porn. 

Referring to Section 67B of the IT Act added in 2008, which prescribes punishment for involvement in sexually explicit online or electronic content that depicts children, cyber law expert Pavan Duggal said: "The problem is that this law has never been invoked yet and till date there has not been any conviction." 

The Centre had earlier told the SC that it was difficult to block international porn sites and sought time to consult various ministries in order to find a solution. 

The court criticised the Centre for taking such a long time in dealing with a serious issue, while granting it time to devise a mechanism to block such sites, particularly those containing child pornography. 

The petition pointed out that the sexual content that children are accessing today is far more graphic, violent, brutal, deviant and destructive, and has put the whole of society in danger as well as posing threats to public order in India.

Foreign donations to Congress, BJP matter of public interest-Allahabad HC

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Monday said that foreign funding of Congress, BJP and other political parties is a matter of public interest. The court converted the petition on foreign funding into public interest litigation (PIL) and has directed to list the matter on November 20 for hearing by the PIL bench.

The order came on a petition filed by social activist and member ofAam Aadmi Party (AAP) Nutan Thakur. Terming the decision of the Union home ministry to probe into the complaints of anomalies in foreign contribution to AAP as one-sided, the petition demanded probe into the foreign donations received by Congress, BJP and other political parties.

After hearing the petition, a division bench, comprising Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Ashok Pal Singh, said that this matter does not only relate to the petitioner but has a wider public realm and is hence a PIL. Thakur said that on October 26, 2012, when she was not a member of AAP, she had lodged a complaint with the Union home ministry on the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) by Congress and BJP. Both parties had received donations of about Rs 5 crore each from Vedanta Group subsidiaries — Sterlite Industries and Sesa Goa. She sent a reminder on June 5. However, no action has been taken so far.

Thakur said that her complaint was based on newspaper articles published on October 17, 2012. She said the Election Commission had also asked the central government to probe the matter. But since no action has been taken, Thakur said, she decided to approach the high court to seek a probe into foreign funding of all political parties, including Congress and BJP. The petition also states that the AAP has welcomed the inquiry on its funding ordered by the UPA government. However, it adds, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has made the announcement at a time when Delhi assembly elections are under way, which raises suspicion.

Friday, November 15, 2013

SURAJ LAMP & INDUSTRIES (P) LD.TR.DIR. v. STATE OF HARYANA & ANR. [2011] INSC 1034 (11 October 2011)




Suraj Lamp & Industries Pvt. Ltd. .....Petitioner 


State of Haryana & Anr. ....Respondents

R. V. Raveendran J. By an earlier order dated 15.5.2009 [reported in Suraj Lamp & Industries Pvt.Ltd. vs. State of Haryana & Anr. - 2009 (7) SCC 363], we had referred to the ill - effects of what is known as General Power of Attorney Sales (for short `GPA Sales') or Sale Agreement/General Power of Attorney/Will transfers (for short `SA/GPA/WILL' transfers). Both the descriptions are misnomers as there cannot be a sale by execution of a power of attorney nor can there be a transfer by execution of an agreement of sale and a power of attorney and will. As noticed in the earlier order, these kinds of transactions were evolved to avoid prohibitions/conditions regarding certain transfers, to avoid payment of stamp duty and registration charges on 2 deeds of conveyance, to avoid payment of capital gains on transfers, to invest unaccounted money (`black money') and to avoid payment of `unearned increases' due to Development Authorities on transfer.
2. The modus operandi in such SA/GPA/WILL transactions is for the vendor or person claiming to be the owner to receive the agreed consideration, deliver possession of the property to the purchaser and execute the following documents or variations thereof: (a) An Agreement of sale by the vendor in favour of the purchaser confirming the terms of sale, delivery of possession and payment of full consideration and undertaking to execute any document as and when required in future.
Or An agreement of sale agreeing to sell the property, with a separate affidavit confirming receipt of full price and delivery of possession and undertaking to execute sale deed whenever required.
(b) An Irrevocable General Power of Attorney by the vendor in favour of the purchaser or his nominee authorizing him to manage, deal with and dispose of the property without reference to the vendor.
Or A General Power of Attorney by the vendor in favour of the purchaser or his nominee authorizing the attorney holder to sell or transfer the property and a Special Power of Attorney to manage the property. (c) A will bequeathing the property to the purchaser (as a safeguard against the consequences of death of the vendor before transfer is effected).
3 These transactions are not to be confused or equated with genuine transactions where the owner of a property grants a power of Attorney in favour of a family member or friend to manage or sell his property, as he is not able to manage the property or execute the sale, personally. These are transactions, where a purchaser pays the full price, but instead of getting a deed of conveyance gets a SA/GPA/WILL as a mode of transfer, either at the instance of the vendor or at his own instance.
Ill-Effects of SA/GPA/WILL transactions
3. The earlier order dated 15.5.2009, noted the ill-effects of such SA/GPA/WILL transactions (that is generation of black money, growth of land mafia and criminalization of civil disputes) as under:
"Recourse to `SA/GPA/WILL' transactions is taken in regard to freehold properties, even when there is no bar or prohibition regarding transfer or conveyance of such property, by the following categories of persons:
(a) Vendors with imperfect title who cannot or do not want to execute registered deeds of conveyance.
(b) Purchasers who want to invest undisclosed wealth/income in immovable properties without any public record of the transactions. The process enables them to hold any number of properties without disclosing them as assets held.
(c) Purchasers who want to avoid the payment of stamp duty and registration charges either deliberately or on wrong advice. Persons 4 who deal in real estate resort to these methods to avoid multiple stamp duties/registration fees so as to increase their profit margin.
Whatever be the intention, the consequences are disturbing and far reaching, adversely affecting the economy, civil society and law and order. Firstly, it enables large scale evasion of income tax, wealth tax, stamp duty and registration fees thereby denying the benefit of such revenue to the government and the public. Secondly, such transactions enable persons with undisclosed wealth/income to invest their black money and also earn profit/income, thereby encouraging circulation of black money and corruption.
This kind of transactions has disastrous collateral effects also. For example, when the market value increases, many vendors (who effected power of attorney sales without registration) are tempted to resell the property taking advantage of the fact that there is no registered instrument or record in any public office thereby cheating the purchaser. When the purchaser under such `power of attorney sales' comes to know about the vendors action, he invariably tries to take the help of musclemen to `sort out' the issue and protect his rights. On the other hand, real estate mafia many a time purchase properties which are already subject to power of attorney sale and then threaten the previous `Power of Attorney Sale' purchasers from asserting their rights. Either way, such power of attorney sales indirectly lead to growth of real estate mafia and criminalization of real estate transactions."
It also makes title verification and certification of title, which is an integral part of orderly conduct of transactions relating to immovable property, difficult, if not impossible, giving nightmares to bonafide purchasers wanting to own a property with an assurance of good and marketable title.
4. This Court had therefore requested the learned Solicitor General to give suggestions on behalf of Union of India. This Court also directed notice to States of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh to give their views on the matter. The four states have responded and confirmed that SA/GPA/WILL transfers required to be discouraged as they lead to loss of revenue (stamp duty) and increase in litigations due to defective title. They also referred to some measures taken in that behalf. The measures differ from State to State. In general, the measures are: (i) to amendRegistration Act, 1908 by Amendment Act 48 of 2001 with effect from 24.9.2001 requiring documents containing contract to transfer for consideration (agreements of sale etc.) relating to any immoveable property for the purpose of section 53A of the Act, shall be registered; and (ii) to amend the stamp laws subjecting agreements of sale with delivery of possession and/or irrevocable powers of attorney in favour of non-family members authorizing sale, to the same stamp duty as deed of conveyance. These measures, no doubt, to some extent plugged the loss of revenue by way of stamp duty on account of parties having recourse to SA/GPA/WILL transactions, instead of executing deeds of conveyance. But the other ill-effects continued. Further such transaction which was only prevalent in Delhi and the surrounding areas have started spreading to other States also. Those with ulterior motives 6 either to indulge in black money transactions or land mafia continue to favour such transactions. There are also efforts to thwart the amended provisions by not referring to delivery of possession in the agreement of sale and giving a separate possession receipt or an affidavit confirming delivery of possession and thereby avoiding the registration and stamp duty. The amendments to stamp and registration laws do not address the larger issue of generation of black money and operation of land mafia. The four States and the Union of India are however unanimous that SA/GPA/WILL transactions should be curbed and expressed their willingness to take remedial steps.
5. The State of Haryana has however taken a further positive step by reducing the stamp duty on deeds of conveyance from 12.5% to 5%. A high rate of stamp duty acts as a damper for execution of deeds of conveyance for full value, and encourages SA/GPA/WILL transfers. When parties resort to SA/GPA/WILL transfers, the adverse effect is not only loss of revenue (stamp duty and registration charges) but the greater danger of generation of `black' money. Reducing the stamp duty on conveyance to realistic levels will encourage public to disclose the maximum sale value and have the sale deeds registered. Though the reduction of the stamp duty, may result in an immediate reduction in the revenue by way of stamp duty, in the long run it 7 will be advantageous for two reasons: (i) parties will be encouraged to execute registered deeds of conveyance/sale deeds without any under valuation, instead of entering into SA/GPA/WILL transactions; and (ii) more and more sale transactions will be done by way of duly registered sale deeds, disclosing the entire sale consideration thereby reducing the generation of black money to a large extent. When high stamp duty is prevalent, there is a tendency to undervalue documents, even where sale deeds are executed. When properties are undervalued, a large part of the sale price changes hand by way of cash thereby generating `black' money. Even when the state governments take action to prevent undervaluation, it only results in the recovery of deficit stamp duty and registration charges with reference to the market value, but the actual sale consideration remains unaltered. If a property worth `5 millions is sold for `2 millions, the Undervaluation Rules may enable the state government to initiate proceedings so as to ensure that the deficit stamp duty and registration charges are recovered in respect of the difference of `3 millions. But the sale price remains `2 millions and the black money of `3 millions generated by the undervalued sale transaction, remains undisturbed. 8
6. In this background, we will examine the validity and legality of SA/GPA/WILL transactions. We have heard learned Mr. Gopal Subramanian, Amicus Curiae and noted the views of the Government of NCT of Delhi, Government of Haryana, Government of Punjab and Government of Uttar Pradesh who have filed their submissions in the form of affidavits.
Relevant Legal Provisions
7. Section 5 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (`TP Act' for short) defines `transfer of property' as under: "5. Transfer of Property defined : In the following sections "transfer of property" means an act by which a living person conveys property, in present or in future, to one or more other living persons, or to himself [or to himself] and one or more other living persons; and "to transfer property" is to perform such act." xxx xxx Section 54 of the TP Act defines `sales' thus:
"Sale" is a transfer of ownership in exchange for a price paid or promised or part-paid and part-promised.
Sale how made. Such transfer, in the case of tangible immoveable property of the value of one hundred rupees and upwards, or in the case of a reversion or other intangible thing, can be made only by a registered instrument.
In the case of tangible immoveable property of a value less than one hundred rupees, such transfer may be made either by a registered instrument or by delivery of the property.
9 Delivery of tangible immoveable property takes place when the seller places the buyer, or such person as he directs, in possession of the property.
Contract for sale.-A contract for the sale of immovable property is a contract that a sale of such property shall take place on terms settled between the parties.
It does not, of itself, create any interest in or charge on such property."
Section 53A of the TP Act defines `part performance' thus : "Part Performance. - Where any person contracts to transfer for consideration any immoveable property by writing signed by him or on his behalf from which the terms necessary to constitute the transfer can be ascertained with reasonable certainty, and the transferee has, in part performance of the contract, taken possession of the property or any part thereof, or the transferee, being already in possession, continues in possession in part performance of the contract and has done some act in furtherance of the contract, and the transferee has performed or is willing to perform his part of the contract, then, notwithstanding that where there is an instrument of transfer, that the transfer has not been completed in the manner prescribed therefor by the law for the time being in force, the transferor or any person claiming under him shall be debarred from enforcing against the transferee and persons claiming under him any right in respect of the property of which the transferee has taken or continued in possession, other than a right expressly provided by the terms of the contract : Provided that nothing in this section shall affect the rights of a transferee for consideration who has no notice of the contract or of the part performance thereof."
8. We may next refer to the relevant provisions of the Indian Stamp Act, 1999 (Note : Stamp Laws may vary from state to state, though generally the 10 provisions may be similar). Section 27 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 casts upon the party, liable to pay stamp duty, an obligation to set forth in the instrument all facts and circumstances which affect the chargeability of duty on that instrument. Article 23 prescribes stamp duty on `Conveyance'. In many States appropriate amendments have been made whereby agreements of sale acknowledging delivery of possession or power of Attorney authorizes the attorney to `sell any immovable property are charged with the same duty as leviable on conveyance.
9. Section 17 of the Registration Act, 1908 which makes a deed of conveyance compulsorily registrable. We extract below the relevant portions of section 17.
"Section 17 - Documents of which registration is compulsory- (1) The following documents shall be registered, namely:-- xxxxx (b) other non-testamentary instruments which purport or operate to create, declare, assign, limit or extinguish, whether in present or in future, any right, title or interest, whether vested or contingent, of the value of one hundred rupees and upwards, to or in immovable property.
xxxxx (1A) The documents containing contracts to transfer for consideration, any immovable property for the purpose of section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (4 of 1882) shall be registered if they have been executed on or after the commencement of the Registration and Other Related laws (Amendment) Act, 2001 and if such documents are not registered on or after such commencement, then, they shall have no effect for the purposes of the said section 53A.
11 Advantages of Registration
10. In the earlier order dated 15.5.2009, the objects and benefits of registration were explained and we extract them for ready reference : "The Registration Act, 1908, was enacted with the intention of providing orderliness, discipline and public notice in regard to transactions relating to immovable property and protection from fraud and forgery of documents of transfer. This is achieved by requiring compulsory registration of certain types of documents and providing for consequences of non-registration. Section 17 of the Registration Act clearly provides that any document (other than testamentary instruments) which purports or operates to create, declare, assign, limit or extinguish whether in present or in future "any right, title or interest" whether vested or contingent of the value of Rs. 100 and upwards to or in immovable property.
Section 49 of the said Act provides that no document required by Section 17 to be registered shall, affect any immovable property comprised therein or received as evidence of any transaction affected such property, unless it has been registered. Registration of a document gives notice to the world that such a document has been executed. Registration provides safety and security to transactions relating to immovable property, even if the document is lost or destroyed. It gives publicity and public exposure to documents thereby preventing forgeries and frauds in regard to transactions and execution of documents. Registration provides information to people who may deal with a property, as to the nature and extent of the rights which persons may have, affecting that property. In other words, it enables people to find out whether any particular property with which they are concerned, has been subjected to any legal obligation or liability and who is or are the person/s presently having right, title, and interest in the property. It gives solemnity of form and perpetuate documents which are of legal importance or relevance by recording them, where people may see the record and enquire and ascertain what the particulars are and as far as land is concerned what obligations exist with regard to them. It ensures that every person dealing with immovable property can rely with confidence upon the statements contained in the registers (maintained under the said Act) as a full and complete account of all transactions by which the title to the property may be affected and secure extracts/copies duly certified."
12 Registration of documents makes the process of verification and certification of title easier and simpler. It reduces disputes and litigations to a large extent. Scope of an Agreement of sale
11. Section 54 of TP Act makes it clear that a contract of sale, that is, an agreement of sale does not, of itself, create any interest in or charge on such property. This Court in Narandas Karsondas v. S.A. Kamtam and Anr. [1976] INSC 315; (1977) 3 SCC 247, observed: A contract of sale does not of itself create any interest in, or charge on, the property. This is expressly declared in Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act. See Rambaran Prosad v. Ram Mohit Hazra [1967]1 SCR 293. The fiduciary character of the personal obligation created by a contract for sale is recognised in Section 3 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, and in Section 91 of the Trusts Act. The personal obligation created by a contract of sale is described in Section 40 of the Transfer of Property Act as an obligation arising out of contract and annexed to the ownership of property, but not amounting to an interest or easement therein."
In India, the word `transfer' is defined with reference to the word `convey'. The word `conveys' in section 5 of Transfer of Property Act is used in the wider sense of conveying ownership... ...that only on execution of conveyance ownership passes from one party to another...."
In Rambhau Namdeo Gajre v. Narayan Bapuji Dhotra [2004 (8) SCC 614] this Court held:
"Protection provided under Section 53A of the Act to the proposed transferee is a shield only against the transferor. It disentitles the transferor from disturbing the possession of the proposed transferee who is put in possession in pursuance to such an agreement. It has nothing to do with the ownership of the proposed transferor who remains full owner of the 13 property till it is legally conveyed by executing a registered sale deed in favour of the transferee. Such a right to protect possession against the proposed vendor cannot be pressed in service against a third party."
It is thus clear that a transfer of immoveable property by way of sale can only be by a deed of conveyance (sale deed). In the absence of a deed of conveyance (duly stamped and registered as required by law), no right, title or interest in an immoveable property can be transferred.
12. Any contract of sale (agreement to sell) which is not a registered deed of conveyance (deed of sale) would fall short of the requirements of sections 54 and 55 of TP Act and will not confer any title nor transfer any interest in an immovable property (except to the limited right granted under section 53A of TP Act). According to TP Act, an agreement of sale, whether with possession or without possession, is not a conveyance. Section 54 of TP Act enacts that sale of immoveable property can be made only by a registered instrument and an agreement of sale does not create any interest or charge on its subject matter.
Scope of Power of Attorney
13. A power of attorney is not an instrument of transfer in regard to any right, title or interest in an immovable property. The power of attorney is 14 creation of an agency whereby the grantor authorizes the grantee to do the acts specified therein, on behalf of grantor, which when executed will be binding on the grantor as if done by him (see section 1A and section 2 of the Powers of Attorney Act, 1882). It is revocable or terminable at any time unless it is made irrevocable in a manner known to law. Even an irrevocable attorney does not have the effect of transferring title to the grantee. In State of Rajasthan vs. Basant Nehata - 2005 (12) SCC 77, this Court held : "A grant of power of attorney is essentially governed by Chapter X of the Contract Act. By reason of a deed of power of attorney, an agent is formally appointed to act for the principal in one transaction or a series of transactions or to manage the affairs of the principal generally conferring necessary authority upon another person. A deed of power of attorney is executed by the principal in favour of the agent. The agent derives a right to use his name and all acts, deeds and things done by him and subject to the limitations contained in the said deed, the same shall be read as if done by the donor. A power of attorney is, as is well known, a document of convenience.
Execution of a power of attorney in terms of the provisions of the Contract Act as also the Powers-of-Attorney Act is valid. A power of attorney, we have noticed hereinbefore, is executed by the donor so as to enable the donee to act on his behalf. Except in cases where power of attorney is coupled with interest, it is revocable. The donee in exercise of his power under such power of attorney only acts in place of the donor subject of course to the powers granted to him by reason thereof. He cannot use the power of attorney for his own benefit. He acts in a fiduciary capacity. Any act of infidelity or breach of trust is a matter between the donor and the donee." An attorney holder may however execute a deed of conveyance in exercise of the power granted under the power of attorney and convey title on behalf of the grantor.
15 Scope of Will
14. A will is the testament of the testator. It is a posthumous disposition of the estate of the testator directing distribution of his estate upon his death. It is not a transfer inter vivos. The two essential characteristics of a will are that it is intended to come into effect only after the death of the testator and is revocable at any time during the life time of the testator. It is said that so long as the testator is alive, a will is not be worth the paper on which it is written, as the testator can at any time revoke it. If the testator, who is not married, marries after making the will, by operation of law, the will stands revoked. (see sections 69 and 70 of Indian Succession Act, 1925). Registration of a will does not make it any more effective.
15. Therefore, a SA/GPA/WILL transaction does not convey any title nor create any interest in an immovable property. The observations by the Delhi High Court, in Asha M. Jain v. Canara Bank - 94 (2001) DLT 841, that the "concept of power of attorney sales have been recognized as a mode of transaction" when dealing with transactions by way of SA/GPA/WILL are unwarranted and not justified, unintendedly misleading the general public 16 into thinking that SA/GPA/WILL transactions are some kind of a recognized or accepted mode of transfer and that it can be a valid substitute for a sale deed. Such decisions to the extent they recognize or accept SA/GPA/WILL transactions as concluded transfers, as contrasted from an agreement to transfer, are not good law.
16. We therefore reiterate that immovable property can be legally and lawfully transferred/conveyed only by a registered deed of conveyance. Transactions of the nature of `GPA sales' or `SA/GPA/WILL transfers' do not convey title and do not amount to transfer, nor can they be recognized or valid mode of transfer of immoveable property. The courts will not treat such transactions as completed or concluded transfers or as conveyances as they neither convey title nor create any interest in an immovable property. They cannot be recognized as deeds of title, except to the limited extent of section 53A of the TP Act. Such transactions cannot be relied upon or made the basis for mutations in Municipal or Revenue Records. What is stated above will apply not only to deeds of conveyance in regard to freehold property but also to transfer of leasehold property. A lease can be validly transferred only under a registered Assignment of Lease. It is time that an 17 end is put to the pernicious practice of SA/GPA/WILL transactions known as GPA sales.
17. It has been submitted that making declaration that GPA sales and SA/GPA/WILL transfers are not legally valid modes of transfer is likely to create hardship to a large number of persons who have entered into such transactions and they should be given sufficient time to regularize the transactions by obtaining deeds of conveyance. It is also submitted that this decision should be made applicable prospectively to avoid hardship.
18. We have merely drawn attention to and reiterated the well-settled legal position that SA/GPA/WILL transactions are not `transfers' or `sales' and that such transactions cannot be treated as completed transfers or conveyances. They can continue to be treated as existing agreement of sale. Nothing prevents affected parties from getting registered Deeds of Conveyance to complete their title. The said `SA/GPA/WILL transactions' may also be used to obtain specific performance or to defend possession under section 53A of TP Act. If they are entered before this day, they may be relied upon to apply for regularization of allotments/leases by Development Authorities. We make it clear that if the documents relating to 18 `SA/GPA/WILL transactions' has been accepted acted upon by DDA or other developmental authorities or by the Municipal or revenue authorities to effect mutation, they need not be disturbed, merely on account of this decision.
19. We make it clear that our observations are not intended to in any way affect the validity of sale agreements and powers of attorney executed in genuine transactions. For example, a person may give a power of attorney to his spouse, son, daughter, brother, sister or a relative to manage his affairs or to execute a deed of conveyance. A person may enter into a development agreement with a land developer or builder for developing the land either by forming plots or by constructing apartment buildings and in that behalf execute an agreement of sale and grant a Power of Attorney empowering the developer to execute agreements of sale or conveyances in regard to individual plots of land or undivided shares in the land relating to apartments in favour of prospective purchasers. In several States, the execution of such development agreements and powers of attorney are already regulated by law and subjected to specific stamp duty. Our observations regarding `SA/GPA/WILL transactions' are not intended to apply to such bonafide/genuine transactions. 19
20. We place on record our appreciation for the assistance rendered by Mr. Gopal Subramaniun, Senior Counsel, initially as Solicitor General and later as Amicus Curiae.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CJI forms panel to probe intern's sexual harassment charge against former SC judge

Chief Justice of India Justice P Sathasivam on Tuesday constituted a three-judge committee to inquire into a law graduate's sexual harassment charge against a recently retired Supreme Courtjudge.

The three-judge committee of Justice RM Lodha, HL Dattu and Ranjana P Desai will start inquiry into the alleged incident from this evening. CJI P Sathasivam revealed this in open court after attorney general GE Vahanvati moved a petition based on a TOI story reporting the charges by the law graduate.

"The committee will go into the whole affair and find out the facts and prepare the report," CJI said.

"Sexual harassment incidents can never be tolerated and I have assured the AG that the new committee of judges will go to the bottom of charges and submit a report as soon as possible,and we cannot take it lightly," CJI said.

"Action will be taken on the basis of the report submitted by the inquiry committee," he added.

"As the head of the institution, I am also concerned about the allegation and anxious whether the statement is true or not," the CJI remarked.

A young lawyer has alleged that she was sexually harassed last December by a Supreme Court judge she was interning with and who "retired recently".

The girl, who graduated from Kolkata-based National University of Juridical Sciences this year, said the judge, who was "old enough to be her grandfather", harassed her in a hotel room at a time when Delhi had erupted against the brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya. She made the sensational charge first in blog she wrote on November 6 for 'Journal of Indian Law and Society', and repeated it on Monday in an interview to the website 'Legally India'.

The NUJS graduate said she had "cowardly" decided not to wage legal battle against her allegedtormentor but decided to speak out "as I felt I had a responsibility to ensure that other young girls were not put in a similar situation".

Currently a fellow with 'Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment', the young woman said she kept mum because of the high position the judge enjoyed and that she was too stunned and surprised at the time to even react with anger.

In her interview to 'Legally India', she said, "I have heard of three other cases (of sexual harassment) by the same judge and I know of at least four other girls who've faced harassment from other judges -- not perhaps as (bad as mine): most of them were in the chambers of the judge and other people around, so it never gets too bad. A girl I know faced continuous sexual harassment throughout and sexual advances, and actually faced troubles through her work because of it."