Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Act on Mudgal report and disqualify CSK from IPL, SC observes

The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that action should be taken on the Mudgal Committee's probe report on the IPL spot-fixing scam and team Chennai Super Kings should be 'terminated without further enquiry' from the IPL tournament.

"In the face of so many irregularities, isn't it easier to disqualify? SC asked, after the Mudgal probe report had indicted Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of suspended BCCI president N Srinivasan, for betting.

The apex court also asked for details of the shareholding of suspended BCCI chief N Srinivasan and the company India Cements the owners of CSK, along with the compositions of its board members. Srinivasan is the managing director of India Cements.

The court observed that there was a 'conflict of interest' for Srinivasan as CSK owner on one hand and as BCCI chief on the other.

The Supreme Court said those under investigation must be kept away from cricket body BCCI's elections, suggesting Srinivasan could be barred from the polls. Srinivasan is seeking a clean chit from the Supreme Court to contest the BCCI elections and win another term as president.

Rape of an innocent child was destruction and devastation of social trust-Supreme Court

Rape of a child as “an anathema to the social balance” and an offender as a “menace to the society”, the Supreme Court Wednesday handed down death penalty to a man, convicted of raping and murdering a four-year-old girl in 2008.

A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra threw out the appeal of Vasanta Sampat Dupare, 51, and held that the convict deserved nothing but the capital punishment for exhibiting the “gratification of pervert lust and brutish carnality,” and making an infant girl “the prey of such degradation and depravity”.

It was last in 2012 when the court had upheld the death penalty to a convict in a rape and murder case. This case also involved commission of crime against a minor.

Dupare had in April 2008 raped and killed the minor after luring her to have chocolates in Nagpur, Maharashtra. He had crushed her head with heavy stones and hid her body. Testimonies of various witnesses along with other scientific and circumstantial evidence had brought home the guilt of the accused.

Discussing the quantum of punishment, the bench, also comprising Justices Rohinton F Nariman and U U Lalit, said the entire case was replete with aggravating circumstances and that there was nothing on record to mitigate the gravity of the offence or to suggest that Dupare could be reformed.

“The rape of a minor girl child is nothing but a monstrous burial of her dignity in the darkness. It is a crime against the holy body of a girl child and the soul of the society and such a crime is aggravated by the manner in which it has been committed. The nature of the crime and the manner in which it has been committed speak about its uncommonness. The crime speaks of depravity, degradation and uncommonality. It is diabolical and barbaric,” held the court.

Underlining the manner in which Dupare took the victim away and killed her in cold blood after raping her, it said there was no doubt that the crime was committed in an inhuman manner and the convict deserved punishment befitting the nature of the crime.

Sending Dupare to the gallows, the court noted that rape of an innocent child was not only betrayal of an individual trust but destruction and devastation of social trust.

“It is perversity in its enormity. It irrefutably invites the extreme abhorrence and indignation of the collective. It is an anathema to the social balance. In our view, it meets the test of rarest of the rare case and we unhesitatingly so hold,” said the bench.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TV actor Ahwaan Kumar accused of indecent behaviour

A rape complaint filed by his alleged girlfriend, TV actor Ahwaan Kumar was arrested by the Oshiwara police. A report in Mid-day quotes a source as saying that Ahwaan lured the actress into a relationship under the pretext of marrying her but asked her to abort the foetus when she told him about her pregnancy and also ended the relationship soon after. The report further states that the actress had tried to register a complaint on two earlier occasions but the actor's industry friends threatened her with dire consequences.
The report also states that the FIR report states that the actress and Ahwaan had met on the sets of a television serial in 2011. Ahwaan proposed to her and gradually, they entered into a relationship. On February 12, 2012, Ahwaan got her admitted to a nursing home in Andheri, where she underwent the abortion. Hospital records have Ahwaan's name listed as her 'husband'. The complainant alleges in her statement that Ahwaan had promised to marry her and also met her parents.
When she got pregnant and asked him to go for a court marriage, he started threatening and torturing the actress. The actor also forced her to abort the child and asked her to concentrate on her career instead. Later, he informed her that since their kundalis (birth charts) did not match, a marriage wasn't possible. When the actress started pressurising him to marry her, he started abusing her as well as her family. On November 22, 2014, the Oshiwara police registered an FIR under sections 376 (rape) and 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In the report, Subhash Bele, senior police inspector of Oshiwara police station, was quoted as saying that the accused was in their custody and they were conducting a background check on the facts and records, and a proper investigation would follow.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

300 Delhi lower-court judges under probe in laptop scam

300 Delhi lower-court judges are under the scanner of the high court for alleged financial irregularities in purchase of computers and laptops from funds provided by the Delhi government and Delhi high court in 2013.

A high-level panel comprising three HC judges has been set up by chief justice of Delhi high court Justice G Rohini to look into how the money was spent by each of these judges. The panel will scrutinize documents submitted by the judges on purchase of these items.

Under the scheme, each judge was sanctioned Rs 1.1 lakh for upgrading their computer infrastructure. The idea was to give the judges the freedom to opt for computers, laptops or iPads so that their efficiency in disposal of cases improves.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Insurance firm asked to pay compensation for deficiency

Vohra and Rs 54,000 after deducting 10 per cent of the Insured Declared Value for the motorcycle. 

In its order, the forum rejected the firm’s contention that Vohra had failed to take reasonable care of his bike. 

“We… Are of the opinion that there was no want of reasonable care on the part of the complainant in the present case,” the forum’s panel members said, adding that “repudiation of the claim by the firm was not justified.” 

While holding the firm deficient in rendering services, the forum asked it to pay Vohra Rs 54,000 after deducting 10 per cent of the IDV on account of depreciation, Rs 20,000 as compensation for pain and agony suffered by him and Rs 5,000 as the cost of litigation. 

Vohra had told the forum that his motorcycle, insured by the firm, was was stolen in June 2010. 

When he filed an insurance claim with the firm, it denied him the same saying he had failed to take reasonable care of the motorcycle, his complaint said.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

HC moved over Shahi Imam anointing son as deputy

The PIL (public interest litigation) filed by one Suhail Ahmed Khan said that Jama Masjid is a property of the Delhi Wakf Board and Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari (Shahi Imam) as its employee can’t appoint his son as Naib Imam.
Bukhari’s decision to anoint his 19-year-old son, Shaban Bukhari, as the Naib Imam or the “Deputy Imam”, is wrong as there is no provision under the Wakf Act for hereditary appointment of the Imam of a mosque, it said.

“Despite knowing that Imam is an employee of the Wakf Board and its the Board which has the right to appoint an Imam, he (Bukhari) has declared his 19-year-old son to be a Naib Imam and is holding a dastar bandi ceremony for the said purpose, which is purely anti-Islamic,” the plea said.

Jama Masjid is India’s largest mosque built during the Mughal era in the 17th century, facing the Red Fort.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw would hear the plea Wednesday.

It also asked the court to declare invalid the appointment of Bukhari as the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid.

The plea filed against the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Delhi government, Delhi Wakf Board (DWB), MCD, DDA, city police and Bukhari also alleged that there is “complete anarchy and misuse of power” by the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid.

Alleging illegal construction within the Masjid premises the plea sought a CBI probe into the accounts, affairs, misuse of premises of Jama Masjid and the area in the vicinity by the Shahi Imam.

It also sought directions for DWB to take over the affairs of Jama Masjid and appoint an Imam. The plea also asked the ASI and the government to declare Jama Masjid a protected monument. Bukhari had recently sparked off a controversy by announcing that he had invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the ceremony but did not feel the need to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sant Rampal - Followers bathed him in milk, then used it to make kheer-prasad

Followers said Rampal was bathed in milk which was later used to make kheer for prasad. This ritual, they claimed, was key to the “miracles” he performed.

“The kheer is made from milk which is poured on him… the kheer is given to us as prasad,” said Manoj, 45, a follower who had come for a satsang at the ashram.

Other followers differed. They said the kheer wasn’t made from milk that was poured on Rampal, but from milk that dripped on him from a pipe in the ceiling.

Bombay HC rejects CBI plea to drop Ashok Chavan's name as accused in Adarsh case

In a major setback to former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, the Bombay high court on Wednesday rejected a plea by the prosecuting agency CBI to drop him as an accused in the Adarsh housing society case. 

Justice M L Tahaliyani pronounced the verdict via video conference from the Nagpur bench of the high court where he is now presiding. The judge, however, stayed the order for four weeks to enable an appeal. 
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had moved the HC after the special trial court judge declined a similar plea earlier. 

Justice Tahaliyani while pronouncing the judgment did not give details or the reasoning. The detailed text of the ruling would be available later. Chavan, a Congress MP now, had stepped down as the CM late 2010 after the Adarsh controversy erupted in the media. 

The CBI plea is based on the Maharashtra governor's refusal last December to grant sanction to prosecute Chavan for criminal conspiracy and cheating among other offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Since there is no evidence of conspiracy against Chavan, there remains no basis for the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act that he was also charged with, said the CBI counsel Hiten Venegaonkar. The HC seemed satisfied with the counsel's submission that no prior sanction is required for the corruption charges since Chavan was not an MLA or a public servant when the case was registered against him in 2011. 

The judge heard the CBI and Chavan's counsel Amit Desai on the procedural law under which the plea was filed and appropriateness of provisions under which it is filed. 

The CBI had informed the judge that section 321 of the criminal procedure code which deals with the prosecutor's power to withdraw an accused from prosecution with permission of the court at any time before the final judgment, is not applicable in this case since the trial court had yet to take cognizance of the chargesheet. Desai concurred and the judge had said he would record this statement.

Monday, November 17, 2014

HC upholds dismissal of judge charged with corruption

Gujarat high court has upheld dismissal of a judge that was found indulged in corrupt practices by asking the parties to give just Rs 100 to Rs 200 to pass order in their favour.

Upholding dismissal for corrupt practice, the HC observed, "The Judges, at whatever level may be, represent the State and its authority. Unlike the bureaucracy, judicial service is not merely an employment nor the Judges merely employees. They are holders of public offices of great trust and responsibility. If a judicial officer 'tips the scales of justice its rippling effect would be disastrous and deleterious'. Dishonest judicial personage is an oxymoron."

In this case, a civil judge C H Upadhyay was posted as JMFC during 1999 and 2002 at Upaleta, where members of local Bar association complained that Upadhyay created disharmony in the function of the court by passing discriminative orders or by causing inordinate delay in giving verdicts.

The Bar association complained, "Upadhyay damaged impression of judicial department by adopting corrupt practice, while pressurizing advocates to get favourable orders by paying money as per his demands. His such corrupt practice was a talk of the town that he was getting Rs 100 to 200 for cancellation of warrants while exercising corrupt practice in court cases... He had also directly demanded money for passing orders in favour of the advocates of Upleta Bar Assocation and by that way he used to directly collect money from the litigant for passing the orders."

The Bar association also passed two resolutions in 2000 expressing its grievance about his rude and insulting behaviour. He would not pass any order, if he was not paid the money as per his demand, the Bar said.

Besides, Upadhyay was also charged with corruption for deciding cases to favour accused persons, when he allegedly acted in nexus with a local police officer.

The HC ordered two different inquiries against Upadhyay in 2000 and in 2004. After conducting the inquiry, the HC administration punished him by dismissing him in both the cases - in 2009 and 2011. Upadhyay filed two petitions before the HC bench, and the petitions were heard simultaneously. The division bench upheld the outcome of inquiry and punishment of dismissal awarded to the judge.

Friday, November 14, 2014

MLA guilty of electricity theft on power reforms panel

The appointment of BJP MLA Suresh Halvankar, who had been convicted in a power theft case, as chairman of a committee on reforms in the power loom and textiles sector has raised eyebrows. 

The conviction and jail term have been stayed by the high court, but the move clouds people's perception of the BJP government which came to power on the promise of a "clean" administration, coming as it does close to a vote of confidence that many believe was not above dubious. 

"Halvankar's appointment to the crucial committee reflects the state of affairs in the BJP government. In the Centre too, Narendra Modi has appointed tainted ministers. Under such circumstances, one cannot expect appointment of clean persons in the state,"- Congress .

The cooperation and textiles department led by senior BJP leader Chandrakant Patil on Friday issued an order appointing Halvankar, the Ichalkaranji MLA and a power loom factory owner, as chairman of the high-level committee.

HC sets aside Hooda govt's quota policy in promotion

Scheduled caste (SC) employees of Haryana government, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday set aside the state government's reservation policy pertaining to promotion to Class III and IV posts.

The bench headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal has directed the government to revert all SC employees promoted since 2006 on the basis of this policy to their original posts within three months.

The policy issued on March 16, 2006, was set aside by the HC in the Prem Kumar Verma case in August 2012, but the Haryana government had not withdrawn the benefits granted to some of the employees on its basis. HC has also issued notice to the then chief secretary, asking why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against him for promoting employees of SC category after 2006 in the state.

"It is evident that the 2013 policy was issued by the then chief secretary despite being in the knowledge of the judgment of the Supreme Court in M Nagaraj's case and this court in Prem Kumar Verma case, I deem it appropriate to initiate proceedings for contempt against him," the HC observed.

The orders have come in the wake of a bunch of petitions filed by Rajbir Singh and others challenging the instructions issued by the Haryana government on February 28, 2013, providing 20% reservation for SC employees in promotion to Class-III and Class-IV posts.

Observing that the 2013 instructions have been issued totally in violation of the Supreme Court judgment, HC ordered that the benefits of accelerated promotion granted to all the members of reserved categories will also have to be reverted.

Bombay HC stays Maharashtra govt's decision to give 16% reservation to Marathas

The Bombay high court on Friday stayed Maharashtra government's decision to give 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in public service and educational institutions.

The HC also stayed state's decision to provide 5 per cent reservation to Muslims in public service, but allowed them reservation in education.

The HC bench headed by chief justice Mohit Shah was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations (PIL) filed against the reservation on the ground that they were not constitutional.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Centre likely to make Aadhaar card mandatory for early passport

The NDA government is planning to make Aadhaar card mandatory for issuance of passports in a month’s time. In another bold step, the Centre is likely to do away with “police verification” prior to the issuance of a passport, if the applicant has a Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number, and conduct it later.

The Ministry of External Affairs, in a note sent to the Home Ministry, has said, “The government is making Aadhaar card as a mandatory requirement for issue of passports. The MEA is working with The UIDAI to implement it and the process is expected to be completed by the end of this month. If the applicant is not in possession of Aadhaar card, the enrolment number can be produced.”

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be roped in to establish a system for validation of criminal antecedents of the applicant.

After Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), making Aadhaar mandatory for passports will be another push by the NDA government for the unique identification scheme, which was launched by the UPA government.

“Once the NCRB sets up its database, the criminal antecedents of the applicants for all categories will be verified before the passport is issued,” it said.

A senior official said PM Narendra Modi recently attended a meeting where the issue of delay in issuance of passports due to police verification was discussed. He added that a large number of complaints were being received at the PMO from applicants regarding police verification.

“The MEA is of the view that when an applicant already has an Aadhaar card or has applied for, his identity to a major extent is established — this needs to be confirmed by the UIDAI. Therefore, based on the NCRB validation and the applicant’s self declaration on the aspects of citizenship, criminality antecedents, criminal proceedings, summons or warrants etc, the passport can be issued on post police verification basis,” the note said.

It also said that when the passport is handed over to the applicant, the address of the concerned police station will also be given so that the “applicant can pursue and complete the process of police verification before travelling abroad”.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Woman paraded naked on donkey, 30 arrested

Members of a community panchayat in a tribal area of Rajsamand district blackened a 45-year-old woman's face, stripped her and paraded her on a donkey's back on Saturday evening. The panchayat members accused the woman of killing her nephew and held a meeting in which the shocking punishment was meted out to her. 

As the matter came to light after the victim's husband lodged an FIR, the police on Sunday arrested 30 persons, nine of them from the victim's family. Senior police officers said that the woman has been shifted to a shelter home for the time being and she was being counseled. 

The incident was reported from Thurval village, some seven km from Charbhuja town in Rajsamand district. "One Vardi Singh had died on November 2. The circumstances of his death are not known because the villagers cremated his body and didn't inform the police," said SP, Rajsamand, Sweta Dhankar. 

The officer said that Vardi Singh's wife suspected that his aunt killed him. 

"She approached the local community panchayat which decided to hear the case publicly. A meeting was held in the village in which it was declared that she had committed the crime, so she must be punished," said the officer. 

The officer added that the woman was stripped at a place in the middle of the village. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bombay high court refuses to give a surname to Laxmibai

A Pune resident recently approached the Bombay high court, protesting against the use of "Jhansiwali" at the end of Rani Laxmibai's name, etched on a statue in the heart of Pune; he sought to change it to "Newalkar", her supposed matrimonial surname.

But a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ajay Gadkari refused to let the court be dragged into the controversy and rejected the plea. "We find that the petitioner wants this court to decide on the disputed question of what should be the surname of Maharani Lakshmibai, who died in 1858. In writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, this is not a fit case to go into the disputed questions of fact in relation to the issue of the correct surname of Rani Lakshmibai," said the court. "Writ jurisdiction is not a proper remedy to decide on the said issue. Therefore, we decline to entertain the petition. Other remedies, if any, available to the petitioner are kept open."

The petitioner Vivek Tambe, who claims to be a freelance journalist and an author of a book on Rani Laxmibai, said the Pune Municipal Corporation had mentioned the queen's surname on a statue as "Jhansiwali", which was wrong as after her marriage, it changed to "Newalkar". He further claimed though her adopted son, after the 1857 war, did change his surname to "Jhansiwali", there was no record of Rani Laxmibai ever using it. The municipal corporation said the statue was erected in 1957 and it did not have any records about the queen's surname.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Supreme Court junks HC order on caste-based census

The Supreme Court on Friday rescued the Centre from the prospect of carrying out a caste-based census an exercise that could have led to a controversial reworking of quotas for other backward classes (OBCs).

The HC had two years ago in a service matter ordered fresh caste-based census, more than 80 years after it was last conducted in 1931. The SC set aside that order, terming it "exceptionally cryptic" and a "colossal transgression of power of judicial review".

Given the potential for social strife in a caste-based census, the Centre had rushed to the SC challenging the HC order. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra, R F Nariman and U U Lalit upheld its contention and said the central census notification mandated collection of information only relating to SCs and STs and not other castes.

Appearing for the Centre, senior advocate R S Suri had argued that "policy stipulates for carrying out the census which includes SC and ST, but not other castes". He had said other HCs had dismissed similar petitions and that even the SC had declined to interfere in census modalities. As of now, the census quantifies the population of only SC and ST communities.

Justice Misra, writing the judgment for the bench, said, "In such a situation, it is extremely difficult to visualize that the high court, without having a 'lis' (subject matter) before it, could even have thought of issuing a command to the census department to take all such measures towards conducting caste-wise census in the country so that social justice in its true sense...could be achieved,"

This was clearly beyond the HC's jurisdiction, the SC ruled. "The HC had not only travelled beyond the list in the first round of litigation, but had really yielded to some kind of emotional perspective, possibly paving the adventurous path to innovate. It is legally impermissible," it said.

Act on complaint against TV show: Gujarat HC

Gujarat high court (HC) has directed the city police commissioner to ensure that the city police act upon the complaint filed by one Kaleem Siddiqui against a media house for showing "anti-Muslim programme" that hurt religious feelings.

Siddiqui filed a petition last month and requested the HC to direct the city police commissioner to ask the Bapunagar and Shahpur police to register an FIR on basis of his complaint against Mahamandaleshwar Naval Kishor Das, for his comments against Muslims and on Quran. Siddiqui had also filed a complaint against the television channel for airing the programme that provided platform to people to make adverse comments against the religion and its followers.

The Bapunagar police did not take any action. Siddiqui went to the HC and claimed that the police in Gujarat do not take action against those who hurt religious feelings of the minority community. On the other hand, cops are prompt in taking actions against those who allegedly make comment against the Hindu religion and divinity.

After hearing his case, Justice J B Pardiwala asked the commissioner to see that the Bapunagar and Shahpur police take a decision on Siddiqui's complaints in two weeks' time and act as per the law.

RBI makes SMS alerts for cheques mandatory

 Banks will now start sending SMS alerts to both payer and drawer in cheque transactions as soon as the instruments are received for clearing. Expressing concern over the rise in cheque-related fraud cases, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made SMS alerts mandatory for such transactions.

RBI has also asked banks to alert a customer with a phone call and obtain confirmation when dealing with suspicious or high-value cheques. Until now, SMS alerts were mandatory only for card transactions.

"The rise in the number of cheque-related fraud cases is a matter of serious concern. It is evident that many of such frauds could have been avoided had due diligence been observed at the time of handling and/or processing the cheques and monitoring newly-opened accounts," RBI said in a circular to all banks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bombay high court upholds rule that CISF staff on duty can carry only Rs 20

The Bombay high court has upheld a 2007 circular of the Central Industrial Security Force allowing its personnel to keep only up to Rs 20 with them while on duty. 

A division bench of justices NH Patil and RV Ghuge agreed that the measure was a step towards curbing illegal gratification and possible security breach at various sensitive locations in the country that CISF personnel guard. The court said the office order/circular of August 23, 2007, cannot be a substitute to a rule or service condition but "keeping in view the object and purpose for which the CISF has been brought into existence, we are of the opinion that the office order needs to be given due importance". 

The ruling came on a plea by constable Ram Tiwari, 41, who was found on August 3, 2008, with Rs 500 while on duty at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Navi Mumbai. On April 10, 2009, he was held guilty of illegal gratification and removed from service. On September 8, 2009, "keeping in mind his unblemished service record of 16 years", CISF authorities replaced the punishment with "compulsory retirement" with full pension. 
The chargesheet said an inspector saw Tiwari counting money and directed a sub-inspector to frisk him. While removing Tiwari's belt, notes worth Rs 500 fell near his leg. Tiwari denied the money belonged to him and claimed the inspector implicated him due to an animosity. 
CISF advocate Vinod Joshi argued that the Rs 500 found on Tiwari could only have come by way of bribes as he had declared before duty he had only Rs 20. The possibility of CISF personnel indulging in illegal gratification from container drivers cannot be ruled out and to curb such acts the circular allowed "CISF personnel on duty to keep only Rs 20 on their person as pocket money". Earlier, the amount permitted was only Rs 10. Joshi said if the punishment is set aside, it will send a wrong signal and "seriously affect the discipline maintained in the CISF". 

The judges concluded that the charge of keeping excess money had been proved against Tiwari. Moreover, violation of the circular would not only amount to disobedience, but was tantamount to an act subversive of discipline on duty. "Nevertheless, we are not convinced that punishment of removal from service which amounts to civil death of an employee could be said to be commensurate to the seriousness of an act of disobeying an office order," they said, giving Tiwari partial relief. 

Agreeing with Tiwari's advocate Sandeep Marne that the charge of illegal gratification was not part of the chargesheet or proved in the disciplinary inquiry, the court directed Tiwari's reinstatement without back wages (from date of his compulsory retirement). The unpaid back wages shall "amount to a punishment" to Tiwari for violating the circular, the court added. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

SC says women can be make-up artists

The 59-year-old practice in the Indian film industry that bars women from being classified as make-up artists is set to end with the Supreme Court stating on Monday that it would not allow this “constitutionally impermissible discrimination” to continue.

In the film industry, only men are allowed to become make-up artists while women are classified as hairdressers. The trade unions say this is to ensure that the men are not deprived of work.

“How can this discrimination continue? We will not permit this. It cannot be allowed under our Constitution. Why should only a male artist be allowed to put make-up? How can it be said that only men can be make-up artists and women can be hairdressers? We don’t see a reason to prohibit a woman from becoming a make-up artist if she is qualified,” said a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit.

“You better delete this clause on your own. Remove this immediately. We are in 2014, not in 1935. Such things cannot continue even for a day,” the court told the Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association (CCMAA). The court said the film industry, as a unit, could not be allowed to prolong this “gender bias”.

The court was hearing a petition by Charu Khurana and other women make-up artists, who were rebuffed by the CCMAA when they sought make-up artist cards. Khurana qualified from the Cinema Make-up School, California, but her application for membership was rejected by the CCMAA in 2009 because she is a woman.

The bench directed the body to come back with a “positive response” within a week. Khurana’s counsel, Jyotika Kalra, complained that Maharashtra’s union refused to delete the clause even after a state government order. “Don’t worry. If they don’t do it this time, we will order deletion,” assured the bench.

It also expressed its displeasure at the Centre’s counsel asking for more time to collect information from across the country on this issue. The court said that besides Mumbai, only Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad have film industries and all the regional federations bar women from the job.

“There are industries only in a few states and the government should have taken a stand by now. But we will do it ourselves now,” said the bench, turning down the government’s request to grant additional time.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Judges can't demand respect through contempt power: SC

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that "no one can be a judge in his own cause". This principle brings fairness to the justice delivery system and upholds equality of all before law.

It also lays down a sound ground rule for adjudication, decision and punishment. It bars anyone from becoming a complainant, investigator and also the judge, all rolled into one.

Against this backdrop, newspapers last week published an interesting news item. An MLA in Uttar Pradesh had barged into a school to slap a Class V student. The boy allegedly had a brawl with the MLA's son. Taking his son's complaint against his classmate, the father took it upon himself to punish the alleged aggressor. Since he was the local MLA, he thought he had the sanction to punish the alleged wrongdoer.

He executed the punishment without bothering to hear the classmate's version of the story.
A similar story got enacted in Delhi high court last month. A magazine published a report alleging that an HC judge's son had a stake in a hotel where the dance floor remained open much beyond the scheduled closure time. It also alleged that police turned a blind eye because the stakeholder was an HC judge's son.

The Supreme Court has barred anyone from becoming a complainant, investigator and also the judge, all rolled into one.

The publication came to the judge's notice. He inquired from his son, who told him that he had no connection with the hotel. On completing the inquiry with his son, the judge came to the conclusion that the report was published to tarnish his image and also to bring disrepute to the judiciary. He also termed it an attempt to shake the public's confidence in judiciary, which would impede administration of justice.

He took up the case for hearing and issued contempt of court notice to the magazine's entire editorial staff, from the editor in chief to the subeditor and photographer. Importantly, he also directed the Delhi Police commissioner to seize all copies of the magazine, which contained the 'baseless' story, from its offices across the country.

These two incidents show that aberrations continue despite repeated pronouncements by the SC cautioning everyone, including judges of the higher judiciary, against donning the dangerous 'judge in his own cause' robe.

In 2010, the apex court in Mohd Yunus Khan vs UP had referred to its own judgments in AU Kureshi vs High Court of Gujarat [2009 (11) SCC 84] and Ashok Kumar Yadav vs State of Haryana [1985 (4) SCC 417]. In both, the court had held that no person should adjudicate a dispute in which he or she has dealt with in any capacity.

The Supreme Court of India.

"The failure to observe this principle creates an apprehension of bias on the part of the said person. Therefore, law requires that a person should not decide a case wherein he is interested. The question is not whether the person is actually biased but whether the circumstances are such as to create a reasonable apprehension in the minds of others that there is a likelihood of bias affecting the decision," it had said in the 2010 judgment.

More than 60 years ago, the Supreme Court had laid down the parameters for contempt of court proceedings in Rizwan-ul-Hasan vs Uttar Pradesh [1953 SCR 581].

It had said, "The jurisdiction in contempt of court is not to be invoked unless there is real prejudice which can be regarded as a substantial interference with the due course of justice. The purport of this court's action is a practical purpose and the court will not exercise its jurisdiction upon a mere question of propriety."

In 2007, the court in Rajesh Kumar Singh vs High Court of Madhya Pradesh had elaborated and expanded the contempt ground rule laid down in 1953.

Justice John Marshall of US supreme court had warned that the power of judiciary lies not in deciding cases, not in imposing of sentences, not in punishing for contempt, but in the trust, confidence and faith of the common man."

It had said, "This court has repeatedly cautioned that the power to punish for contempt is not intended to be invoked or exercised routinely or mechanically, but with circumspection and restraint. Courts should not readily infer an intention to scandalize courts or lower the authority of court unless such intention is clearly established. Nor should they exercise power to punish for contempt where mere question of propriety is involved."

Expressing anguish at the invocation of contempt jurisdiction by some judges at the drop of a hat, the court had said, "Of late, a perception that is slowly gaining ground among public is that sometimes, some judges are showing over-sensitiveness with a tendency to treat even technical violations or unintended acts as contempt. It is possible that it is done to uphold the majesty of courts, and to command respect."

What it then said is worth its weight in gold. "Judges, like everyone else, will have to earn respect. They cannot demand respect by demonstration of power. Nearly two centuries ago, Justice John Marshall of US supreme court had warned that the power of judiciary lies not in deciding cases, not in imposing of sentences, not in punishing for contempt, but in the trust, confidence and faith of the common man."