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1993 Bombay blasts case: HC refuses furlough to convict Rubina Menon

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has rejected the plea of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Rubina Suleman Memon, seeking her release on furlough.

“We are not inclined to release the petitioner (Rubina) on furlough as she had been convicted by a TADA court for her involvement in terrorist activities,” said a bench of Justice VK Tahilramani and AM Badar in a recent judgement.

Rubina is also sister-in-law of Tiger Memon, believed to be living in Pakistan and one of the prime conspirators of the serial blasts that had rocked the city in March, 1993, claiming 257 lives and injuring more than 700 others.

Rubina was sentenced to life imprisonment along with three other family members by a Mumbai TADA Court in 2006, while her husband Sulieman was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Her brother-in-law Yakub was sent to the gallows on terror charges.

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

Rubina, currently lodged in Pune’s Yerwada prison, had applied to jail authorities for furlough leave on 22 January 2015. However, her plea was rejected on 15 January 2016. Aggrieved, she filed an appeal which was dismissed in May this year. Thereafter, she moved the High Court by a writ petition seeking furlough leave, which was rejected last week.

Rubina’s lawyer Farhana Shah argued that the three co-accused, who have also been convicted under TADA in the same case, have been released from jail temporary on leave.

They are Sardar Shahwali Khan, who was released on furlough on 9 June 2014, Nasir Abdul Kadar, who was given furlough leave on 27 June 2014 and Isa Abdul Razak Memon, who was also released on furlough on 10 June 2016, Farhana said.

As the three co-accused, who were similarly placed with Rubina in the 1993 bomb blast case, had been given furlough leave, the petitioner should also be given the same facility, i.e furlough leave, Farhana argued.

Additional Public prosecutor HJ Dedia submitted that Rubina’s application for furlough was rejected under Rule 4(4) of the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959.

This Rule states that prisoners whose release is not recommended by Commissioner of Police or District Magistrate on the ground of public peace and tranquility, shall not be granted furlough.

The prosecutor said that in the order jail authorities rejecting Rubina’s furlough, it was stated that the petitioner is wife of brother of Yakub Memon. She will spend her period of furlough in Mahim area in Mumbai, where people of all communities reside.

“If she is released on parole people will turn up to meet her in large numbers and there would be a law and order problem, particularly in view of the fact that during the funeral of Yakub Memon, a huge crowd had turned up,” the order stated.

The prosecutor also pointed out that as Rubina has been convicted under TADA hence under Rule 4(13) of Prison Tules, she would not be entitled to be released on furlough, as this rule states that prisoners who are convicted for terrorist crime shall not be released.

The prosecutor argued that admittedly, the petitioner (Rubina) is convicted under TADA, hence, she is not entitled to be released on furlough. He pointed out that the Bombay High court in two decisions has held that sub rule 13 to Rule 4 is not ultra virus.

Accepting the prosecutor’s argument, the high court rejected the furlough leave petition of Rubina Memon.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:10 IST

Asif Karadia to return to Pakistan? After spending 49 years in India, he might be deported

Asif Karadia, a 51-year-old Pakistani national, was denied long-term visa extension by the Bombay High Court on Wednesday. Karadia, whose parents are India, is not a tourist in the country, but has been living in India for the last 49 years.

File image of Bombay high court. IBNliveFile image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

According to Mumbai Mirror, Karadia was born in Karachi, and his mother is a naturalised Indian. Karadia had applied for an Indian passport in 2012, but the authorities rejected the application and asked Karadia to apply for a long term-visa. This was extended twice and it was valid till last December.

Karadia, 51, could face deportation after having lived in the country for 49 years as the court said that it would not be able to decide on renewing his visa. Karadia’s case has been postponed to 17 January and he has been denied interim relief by the division bench comprising of AS Oka and Anuja Prabhudesai.

Abbas Karadia, his father, was quoted by Mumbai Mirror saying: “We never thought this would become such a big issue…Asif has never been to Pakistan again and doesn’t want citizenship of that country.”

An Asian Age report claims that the court rejected Karadia’s application on grounds that Karadia did not have a Pakistani passport and a visa couldn’t be issued without a passport. According to a report in Hindustan Times, the court ordered a probe into how the central government had been issuing Karadia long-term visas for so many years without Karadia possessing neither an Indian not a Pakistani passport.

Karadia’s father Abbas and his wife Zaibunnisa were born in India. Karadia’s mother Zaibunnisa migrated to Pakistan with her family in 1947, therefore becoming a Pakistani national, but almost twenty years after that, she came back to India and married Abbas. Karadia was born in Karachi because his mother went to Pakistan for the delivery and at the time there was no system to issue a passport to the infant.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 11:23 IST

Mumbai rail woes: Not possible to run trains from Churchgate to Central suburbs, says WR

The Western Railway on Thursday said that it would not be possible to run trains from Churchgate to Central Railway suburbs such as Thane, Dombivali and Ambarnath because of lack of space to lay down additional tracks for this purpose.

Western Railway officials said so at a high-level meeting called by the Bombay High Court to discuss ways to cope with 80 lakh commuters who travel daily by suburban trains on the Western and Central Railway routes. The meeting also discussed safety measures to be undertaken to prevent accidents on railway tracks.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The meeting was called as a result of a PIL filed by activist Samir Zaveri regarding deaths due to overcrowding in suburban trains, The Indian Express reported. A high court bench, headed by Justice VN Kanade was hearing the PIL.

On the problem of overcrowding in Mumbai local trains, DNA quoted the court as observing, “Around 80 lakh passengers travel daily by the suburban railways. This could equal the average population of a European country”.

According to the report, the court also observed that while Mumbai is the country’s financial capital, “a girl residing along the Western Railway line is hesitant to marry a potential groom living along the Central line, due to overcrowding on trains”.

The Western Railway authorities also made a presentation on deaths related to overcrowding in trains and explained the court that casualties came down from 4,319 in 2015 to 3,641 till November 2016 on the Central line. The report prepared by the railway authorities added that most victims are between the age group of 21 and 40 years, The Indian Express added.

Interestingly, the court proposed a potential solution to the problem, directing the Western Railways to draw a circular timetable for Virar-bound trains from Churchgate during peak hours, the DNA report added.

And while the issue of safety of passengers was raised by the Bombay High Court, the Maharashtra government is pondering on a decision to withdraw all the ambulances provided to the suburban stations, a Mumbai Mirror report said on Friday.

According to the tabloid, the government has cited under-utilisation of the ambulances and lack of funds as the reasons behind its likely decision. If the move is approved, this will be in contravention of a 2015 Bombay High Court ruling which directed the railways to provide emergency medical services at all suburban railway stations.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 12:44 IST

Bombay HC seeks reply from Finance Ministry, RBI on deadline for exchanging old notes

Nagpur: The Bombay High Court has sought response from the Finance Ministry and Reserve Bank of India on a PIL seeking extension of deadline for exchanging the demonetised notes.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A division bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Vinay Deshpande issued the notices yesterday while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

The petitioner, Urmila Wasudeo Kowe, said in her PIL that there should be more time to exchange old high denomination notes. The earlier deadline of November 24 to change the now defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has expired and many in rural areas and those from working class, could not change their hard earned money. For such segment, the time limit should be extended.

The Central government demonetised the old high currency notes with effect from 8 November midnight and granted time till 24 November to exchange old notes.

The labour, working class and migrant workers also have old notes and they are unable to deposit the same as many of them do not have bank accounts. It is not possible for them to reach to RBI and such persons should be allowed to exchange old notes from nationalised banks, the PIL said, while seeking such a direction to the RBI and the Centre.

Advocate Ashwin Ingole appeared for the petitioner.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 14:26 IST

Maharashtra govt takes back World Trade Center in Mumbai for lease norm violations

Convinced after an enquiry that the World Trade Center (WTC) at Cuffe Parade in Mumbai has violated lease norms, the Maharashtra government on Thursday ended the lease of the iconic WTC in Mumbai and took the property under its custody.

World Trade Center in Mumbai. Screenshot from WTC websiteWorld Trade Center in Mumbai. Screenshot from WTC website

World Trade Center in Mumbai. Screenshot from WTC website

The WTC, which is officially known as the M Visvesaraya Industrial Research and Development Centre (MVIRDC), had entered into a lease agreement in 1970 with the purpose of giving a boost to trade and commerce.

In October, a Mumbai Mirror piece listed out the major lease violations in the 30-story building.

“Among the major violations found by the collector denying the state its dues – it is supposed to share 50 per cent of its earnings, after deducting all expenses, with the state; allotting space to a restaurant in the refuge area, construction of offices and shops without permission, setting up of as many as eight mobile phone towers on government land, and financial irregularities.”—the report said.

However, MVIRDC gave the building on sub-lease to Worle Trade Centre over a decade ago in violation of the original lease norms. Soon after the Worle Trade Centre took over the 48025 sqm complex it further sub-leased it to different national and international firms.

It has been alleged that the WTC has not paid dues from 2012 amounting upto Rs 20 crore.

The hearing was on for last three months under City Collector Ashwini Joshi, who informed the state government of the ongoing irregularities following which the government acted on his report on Thursday after the nod from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The state government has also filed a caveat in the Bombay High Court on Thursday to this effect. A copy of the order to the WTC is available with Firstpost.

Former Union minister Kamal Morarka and industrialist Vijay Kalantri looks after the affairs of the WTC.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 23:15 IST

High court issues notice to those discharged in 2006 Malegaon blasts case

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notices to eight persons who were discharged earlier this year from the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts case, seeking a response to a petition filed by the Maharashtra government against their discharge.

The state has moved the high court in appeal against the order of sessions court discharging the eight accused, all Muslims.

In April, the sessions court here discharged these men of all terror charges after the National Investigation Agency submitted that the blasts were the handiwork of a Hindu extremist group.

The state government, however, urged the high court to set aside the order.

The division bench of justices RV More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi issued notices to the eight persons and sought their replies in four weeks.

In its appeal, the government said the sessions court’s order was illegal and unjust and was contrary to the evidence on record.

The state claimed the trial court’s conclusion that Muslims would not plant bombs inside a mosque was wrong and had no legal basis.

The serial bomb blasts outside a cemetery near Hamidia mosque at Malegaon, near Nashik, on 8 September 2006, claimed 37 lives and injured over 100 people.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 21:57 IST

No satisfactory material to declare Sanatan Sanstha a terror outfit: Centre tells Bombay HC

Mumbai: The central government on Wednesday informed the Bombay High Court that till date it has not found any satisfactory material to declare right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha as a “terror outfit” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and ban it.

A division bench of Justices NH Patil and PD Naik was hearing a petition filed by one Vijay Rokade seeking a ban on the organisation, members of which are alleged to have carried out terror activities in Panvel and Thane.

Three cases regarding bomb blasts have been registered against Sanatan Sanstha. Reuters.

Three cases regarding bomb blasts have been registered against Sanatan Sanstha. Reuters.

The petitioner informed the court that the Maharashtra government, based on a report and material submitted by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), had forwarded a proposal to the Union government in 2012 recommending ban on the group.

The Union government, however, has till date not taken any decision on the proposal.

The Union government’s lawyer told the high court that it had verified the state government’s proposal but was not satisfied with the material submitted by it, and had hence, asked the state government to submit further material in support of its proposal.

“Show us the communication between the Union and state governments. All this cannot be orally stated. Submit before us all the letters sent and received by the Union and state governments within four weeks,” the bench directed.

The court also sought to know under which law or provision can the Union government ban an organisation or trust that is governed by a state government Act. The petitioner’s advocate said under the provisions of

The petitioner’s advocate said under the provisions of the UAPA, the Union government can recommend the ban on any organisation or group.

In April 2012, the state government had filed an affidavit in the case claiming that the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) had addressed a letter to the Director of Union Home Ministry informing it that three cases regarding bomb blasts have been registered against Sanatan Sanstha.

“The government of Maharashtra has reached the conclusion that Sanatan Sanstha organisation is liable to be banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,” the affidavit had said.

Maratha quota: Congress plans no-confidence motion against Maharashtra CM Fadnavis

Mumbai: Building pressure on the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena coalition in Maharashtra on reservation for the Maratha community, the state Congress on Tuesday said it will table no-confidence and breach of privilege motions against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Narayan Rane said the motions will be brought up during the winter session of the assembly in Nagpur in December.

“He is misleading. The state government failed to file an affidavit in the Bombay High Court on the issue,” Rane told the media here.

“The Chief Minister is telling lies and cheating the Maratha community. We demand his resignation,” Rane added.

He said on 13 October, during a hearing of a public interest litigation on the issue, the state government’s counsel had sought additional time till after Diwali vacations for collecting more information and filing its affidavit.

A file photo of Devendra Fadnaivs. AFPA file photo of Devendra Fadnaivs. AFP

A file photo of Devendra Fadnaivs. AFP

“However, a short while later, Fadnavis told media persons that the government had not sought more time. This is lying and misleading the Maratha community. The state failed to file its affidavit since 14 November, 2014. This government is not serious about giving reservations to Marathas,” the Congress leader said.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party rejected Rane’s demands outright and blamed the erstwhile Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine for messing up the Maratha reservation issue.

“The CM has not spoken any lies. As chairman of the Maratha Reservation Committee, I personally briefed him about the outcome in the High Court,” said Education Minister Vinod Tawde.

He said it would been appropriate if Rane had studied the matter properly before making the allegations.

Tawde reiterated the government’s commitment to providing reservation to the Maratha community.

The development came against the backdrop of the series of ongoing silent processions of the Marathas across Maharashtra for the past one month or so, demanding reservation in jobs and education, besides other issues.

Women, non-adults can now be tried under Domestic Violence Act, rules Supreme Court

New Delhi: In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has widened the scope of the Domestic Violence Act by ordering the deletion of the words “adult male” from it, paving the way for prosecution of women and even non-adults for subjecting a woman relative to violence and harassment.

The apex court has ordered striking down of the two words from section 2(q) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which deals with respondents who can be sued and prosecuted under the Act for harassing a married woman in her matrimonial home.

A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman ordered the deletion of the words

A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman ordered the deletion of the words “adult male” from the statute book saying it violated right to equality under the Constitution. AFP

Referring to earlier verdicts, the apex court said, “The microscopic difference between male and female, adult and non-adult, regard being had to the object sought to be achieved by the 2005 Act, is neither real or substantial nor does it have any rational relation to the object of the legislation.”

Section 2(q) of the Act reads: “‘respondent’ means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under DV Act.”

A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman paved way for prosecution of any person irrespective of gender or age under the DV Act, ordered the deletion of the words “adult male” from the statute book saying it violated right to equality under the Constitution.

The bench said that the words “adult male person” were contrary to the object of affording protection to women who have suffered from domestic violence “of any kind”.

“We, therefore, strike down the words ‘adult male’ before the word ‘person’ in Section 2(q), as these words discriminate between persons similarly situated, and far from being in tune with, are contrary to the object sought to be achieved by the 2005 Act,” it said.

The major verdict came on an appeal against the Bombay High Court judgement, which had resorted to the literal construction of the term ‘adult male’ and discharged four persons, including two girls, a woman and a minor boy, of a family from a domestic violence case on the ground that they were not “adult male” and hence cannot be prosecuted under the DV Act.

The bench, in its 56-page judgement, said the remaining part of the legislation has been kept untouched and would be operative.

“We, therefore, set aside the impugned judgment of the Bombay High Court and declare that the words ‘adult male’ in Section 2(q) of the 2005 Act will stand deleted since these words do not square with Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

“Consequently, the proviso to Section 2(q), being rendered otiose (superfluous), also stands deleted. We may only add that the impugned judgment has ultimately held, in paragraph 27, that the two complaints of 2010, in which the three female respondents were discharged finally, were purported to be revived, despite there being no prayer in Writ Petition…for the same,” the court said.

Dealing with the term ‘adult’, the bench said “it is not difficult to conceive of a non-adult 16 or 17-year-old member of a household who can aid or abet the commission of acts of domestic violence, or who can evict or help in evicting or excluding from a shared household an aggrieved person.

“Also, a residence order which may be passed under Section 19(1)(c) can get stultified if a 16 or 17-year-old relative enters the portion of the shared household in which the aggrieved person resides after a restraint order is passed against the respondent and any of his adult relatives…”.

The bench said that the term “adult male” contained in the Act was “discriminatory”.

Adarsh scam: Bombay HC asks CBI to conduct further probe on tainted society’s benami flats

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed CBI to conduct further probe into the ‘benami’ flats in the scam-tainted Adarsh building even as the agency said it has already completed the investigation and submitted its charge sheet two years back.

A division bench of Justices AS Oka and AA Sayed was hearing a public interest litigation by activist Pravin Wategaonkar alleging that senior bureaucrats and politicians held ‘benami’ (proxy) flats in the Adarsh residential building, which was a quid-pro-quo for clearing files related to the society in violation of several norms.

The Adarsh building . Image courtesy: CNN-News18

The Adarsh building . Image courtesy: CNN-News18

The high court had earlier refused to accept two reports submitted by the CBI giving out details on what their probe has revealed.

“From the two reports submitted earlier (by the CBI) we find that there has been no application of mind by the investigating officer of CBI. It is suffice to say that we are not satisfied with the manner in which investigation has been carried out. We therefore deem it appropriate to direct CBI to carry out further probe on specific allegations levelled in the petition,” the court directed.

The bench directed the CBI to submit a fresh probe report on 16 December.

As per HC’s earlier direction, Joint Director CBI (Western Region) Amrit Prasad was present in the court on Wednesday.

When the HC today asked the senior officer if CBI was willing to carry out further probe considering the fact that the court was not satisfied with the earlier reports, Prasad said CBI has already completed its investigation into the benami flats and transactions, and submitted its charge sheet before the CBI court in July 2014.

Prasad, however, said if the high court feels further probe is required, the agency can be directed to do so.

The court today further observed that another bench of the high court had in April this year, while directing demolition of the 31-storey Adarsh building in south Mumbai, said that the Union and state government shall consider initiating criminal or civil proceedings against ministers, bureaucrats and politicians for misuse of official positions.

“This finding of the court is enough for the CBI to carry out further probe. As an investigating agency it was the CBI’s duty to probe,” the court said.

Wategaonkar has sought disclosure of names of two top officers of the then Maharashtra government who had dealt with Adarsh files and allegedly obtained ‘benami’ flats.

He claimed that when CBI arrested one of the promoters of Adarsh society, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani in 2011, it “claimed in the remand papers that they needed Gidwani’s custody because he held benami flats for political leaders”.

Gidwani, a Congress leader, and his family members owned a total of 10 flats in Adarsh. His sons owned three flats while in respect of other flats, the source of money and real ownership was not clear, the PIL has said.

It has alleged that two of these flats were meant for high-profile members of the then government who helped clear the Adarsh files, and two others for prominent politicians. Gidwani passed away in 2012.

Adarsh scam: Bombay HC reproaches CBI for silence on ‘benami’ flats in second report

Mumbai: Expressing dissatisfaction with the report submitted by CBI in connection with its probe into benami flats in the scam-tainted Adarsh building, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday the document was silent on the points specifically raised by the court during the last hearing.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and A A Sayed was hearing a public interest litigation by activist Pravin Wategaonkar alleging that senior bureaucrats and politicians held ‘benami’ (proxy) flats in the Adarsh building, which was a quid-pro-quo for clearing files related to the society in violation of several norms.

The court had on 2 September this year refused to accept a report submitted by CBI and had said the agency has not applied its mind in respect to issues raised in the PIL.

It had then directed the agency to submit another report and also ordered CBI Western Region’s Joint Director to remain present in court on Wednesday (September 28).

While the Joint Director was not present on Wednesday, the Deputy Inspector of General Police was present and he submitted a second report.

The bench after perusing the report said it was not satisfied.

“We are not satisfied with this report. It is silent on very specific queries raised by us and the petition on the last hearing,” Justice Oka said.

“We had also asked the Joint Director to remain present today. We expect him to appear before us on the next date of hearing. We also want the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) to appear in the case next time,” the court directed and posted the petition for further hearing on 5 October.

Wategaonkar has sought disclosure of names of two top officers of the Maharashtra government who had dealt with Adarsh files and allegedly obtained benami flats.

He claimed that when CBI arrested one of the promoters of Adarsh society, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani in 2011, it “claimed in the remand papers that they needed Gidwani’s custody because he held benami flats for political leaders.”

Sheena Bora murder case: Bombay HC seeks CBI’s response on Peter Mukerjea’s bail plea

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday asked CBI for its response on the bail plea of former media baron Peter Mukerjea, arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder of his wife Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.

Justice Revati Mohite Dere who issued notice to CBI, posted Peter’s application for hearing on 7 July.

He has approached the high court seeking bail after the sessions court rejected his plea on two occasions.

Peter, who was arrested in November last year by the agency, in his bail application on Saturday assailed the lower court orders rejecting his petition, and said there is nothing incriminating against him in the chargesheet.

Bombay High Court. News18Bombay High Court. News18

Bombay High Court. News18

Others who were arrested in the case were Indrani, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyamvar Rai, who has been made an approver and granted pardon.

In his plea, Peter has questioned the lower court’s refusal to grant him bail on the ground that the probe was still on.

It said a further probe, once the chargesheet has been filed, has no fixed deadline, and merely mentioning that the investigation was still was not a fair ground to keep a man in custody indefinitely.

He was arrested on the day CBI filed its first chargesheet in the court against Indrani, Khanna and Rai, who were arrested last August.

“There is still not an iota of evidence against Peter, and he has been kept behind bars only on suspicion. An arrest on mere suspicion based only on calls at odd hours is extremely tenuous,” the application said.

According to the prosecution, Sheena was murdered on 24 April, 2012, but the crime came to light after the arrest of Rai in another case in August 2015.

Key accused Indrani, Khanna and Rai had allegedly strangled Sheena (24), Indrani’s daughter from an earlier relationship, inside a car. Sheena’s body was found in a forest in Raigad. The crime, which came to light in August last year, is allegedly linked to certain financial dealings.

According to CBI, Peter was part of the murder conspiracy.

While Peter and Khanna are lodged in Arthur Road prison, Indrani (43) is in Byculla jail.

Beef ban: Activists urge CM Devendra Fadnavis to approach apex court

Mumbai: A month after Bombay High Court struck down two sections of Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act which criminalised possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside the state, some activists have urged Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to challenge the decision in the apex court.

File image of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

File image of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

The high court had last month struck down two sections – 5D and 9B – of the Act, which criminalised possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside Maharashtra, while upholding the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks in the state.

Soon after the court order, Fadnavis had said that if required, the government will approach Supreme Court against the high court decision of striking down the “unconstitutional sections” of the Act.

Animal rights activist Siddh Vidya, in an email to the CM, on Wednesday urged him to move the apex court. “Please take a very serious note of the fact that with the removal of the said two sections from the statute book, the entire Act has become toothless,” she said in the email.

“Removal of section 5D from the statute would provide cover to offenders who would slaughter cow progeny in Maharashtra and defend themselves with an excuse that it was slaughtered outside the state,” she said. She pointed out that when the onus to prove the offence is on the state, it would be difficult for the prosecution to ascertain as to when and in which part of the country, a cow and its progeny were slaughtered and all the offenders would go unpunished.

“Hence, the state must challenge the order before the apex court,” she said. Activist Rajendra Joshi said, “I have followed up this issue with the government. We have prepared a draft to challenge the order in Supreme court and sent it to state
legal department.”

Another animal rights activist Chetan Sharma said he has also requested the chief minister to act on the issue at the earliest.

Courting controversy: The curious case of ‘Udta Punjab’ and the missing judges

The well-deserved roasting of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) by the Bombay High Court may never have come to pass had it not been for the absence of the subordinate Appellate Authority, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal – which is conveniently vacant till 15 June – a day before the film is slated for release, depriving Phantom Films (the company that made Udta Punjab) their right to appeal. The normal rule is that you can’t invoke the High Court’s Writ jurisdiction unless all other remedies have already been exhausted. Incidentally, under the rules the government could’ve nominated someone temporarily, but it apparently didn’t.

Happily, this was of little inconvenience to the makers of Udta Punjab, financially sound enough to engage the best lawyers to canvas their case before the Bombay High Court. Within days, their appeal had been withdrawn and a writ had been filed in the High Court. Indeed, even the relatively small community of filmmakers who may have to periodically litigate before the CBFC and the FCAT may have found such an inconvenience trifling, at best.

'Udta Punjab' poster'Udta Punjab' poster

‘Udta Punjab’ poster

But far greater injustice was caused to ordinary litigants who faced a similar quandary only last year. A vacancy for over six months, due to the poor health of the chairperson of the Mumbai Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal caused major inconvenience to thousands of litigants. Just around the time the High Court was approached to remedy the situation, the Central Government brought out a notification permitting the filing of Mumbai Appeals before another bench – in Chennai. Imagine the plight of a debt-ridden litigant from Maharashtra who may not even be familiar with Tamil in having to arrange for airfare and legal counsel in another state.

Some litigants lost their homes as banks grabbed them in the absence of any Appeal Court to grant stays. The situation was only remedied somewhat in April 2016 when the High Court asked the Solicitor General why two benches of the DRAT could not be set up. Meanwhile, a chairperson brought in from the Allahabad DRAT bench would visit Mumbai every alternate week.

Such stories are par for the course in subordinate courts. Litigants routinely travel from far off places to attend to their matters only to be told that the judge is on leave, or won’t be coming till 3 pm. Perversely, their cases are sometimes dismissed for default if they or their lawyers miss attending on a given court date (such cases comprise a respectable chunk of Appellate litigation).

Although long vacations for courts have been criticised for years, the real issue facing the judiciary is a shortage of judges. In fact, the issue of pendency of cases in our courts is inexorably tied to the availability of competent men and women to judge them. We have an abysmally low judge to population ratio. While the government seems to be happy with sanctioning more posts for judges, it seems less keen on actually filling them – as the deadlock between the Supreme Court and Parliament over NJAC clearly demonstrates.

Meanwhile, the Central Government continues to enact statutes for Special Courts – the latest being the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 while failing to realise that these statutes are only good if they’re backed by the manpower necessary to enforce them, and – pun intended – do them justice.

SC declines to stop water supply to breweries in drought-hit parts of Maharashtra

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to direct the Maharashtra government to completely cut water supply to distilleries and breweries in the drought-hit regions of the state.

A vacation bench of Justices P C Pant and D Y Chandrachud pulled up the petitioner for approaching the apex court for a complete ban on water supply to the liquor manufacturers, saying the Bombay High Court has already passed an interim order in this regard.

“Why are you coming against an interim order of the High Court? The High Court has already allowed 60 per cent, now what do you want? These are all policy decisions. There has to be a balance,” the bench said.

File photo of Supreme Court. ReutersFile photo of Supreme Court. Reuters

File photo of Supreme Court. Reuters

The counsel appearing for petitioner Sanjay Bhaskarrao Kale, said the entire region is severely drought-prone and there is a policy in this regard.

To this, the bench said these are all policy decisions and the court’s interference will be like taking over governance.

The apex court dismissed the petition as withdrawn after the counsel agreed to withdraw the plea. The court, however, granted the petitioner the liberty to approach the High Court.

The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court had recently asked the state government to curtail water supply to the liquor industry by 60 per cent from 10 May, an order which will be operational till 27 June.

The plea filed in the apex court had sought that instead of a curtailed water supply, there should be no supply at all as the entire region is facing acute water shortage.

The petition had said that people were dying in the region due to the shortage of water and there is a limited water stock available.

The counsel for the petitioner had said people were being deprived of drinking water as it is being given to the liquor industry.

Earlier, the Bombay High Court had also asked the Maharashtra government to cut supply to other industrial units in Marathwada by 25 per cent after 10 May.

Arun Jaitley’s outburst is justified: The Supreme Court is playing God

There is no one better than Arun Jaitley to call a spade a spade.

Two days ago, the Finance Minister minced no words in saying that the judiciary was trampling all over the constitution’s basic mosaic of the separation of powers. Angry about the judiciary’s repeated lunges into executive and legislative terrain, Jaitley said it all in one sentence: “Step by step, brick by brick, the edifice of India’s legislature is being destroyed”.

It’s a strong statement, and one that the Supreme Court should heed.

The Constitution gave the legislature, the executive and the judiciary primacy in their own domains, but the courts have been stomping all over legislative and executive territory, making laws rather than just interpreting them. And these interventions are not one-offs, occasional transgressions that may be necessitated by circumstances. It seems ‘The Brethren’ want to see themselves in the headlines almost daily, as if to prove they are the only worthies capable of running the country.

Friday’s newspapers tell us that the Supreme Court has ordered a special investigation team to probe charges of wife-swapping among navy officers. Pardon me, but isn’t this the job of the police? So tomorrow if someone is beating his kids, we go straight to the Supreme Court with a public interest litigation (PIL)? If garbage is piling up in front of my house, I go to court again?

Thursday’s newspapers found the Supreme Court ordering the Centre to create a new policy on handling drought, and set up a new disaster relief fund.

File image of the Supreme Court of India. AFP

File image of the Supreme Court of India. AFP

Excuse me, but can the courts order governments to decide what to do with their budgets and how? This bit of court meddling had Jaitley fuming: “We have the National Disaster Response Fund and the State Disaster Response Fund and now we are being asked to create a third fund. The appropriation bill is being passed. Now outside this appropriation bill, we are being told to create this fund. How will I do that? India’s budget-making is being subject to judicial review,” he was quoted as saying.

Yes, it is possible to argue that when governance standards are poor in states and even at the Centre, someone has to step up to render justice. But, surely, the answer is to strengthen governments and their ability to enforce the law, not weaken it further by sidelining elected governments through judicial processes? How often can courts order the police or bureaucrats to operate under court orders? How far can this process continue without a complete breakdown of the constitutional order? Why would the police listen to anybody, when the courts inject themselves into the power equation?

And while we are discussing a lack of governance, whatever gave the judiciary the idea that it is well-governed itself? With over four crore cases piling up in various courts, surely the judiciary is no paragon of competent governance. And when a Shanti Bhushan makes an allegation in open court that eight of the last 16 Supreme Court chief justices were corrupt, the only thing the court did was give an embarrassed shrug and move on.

So much for being the conscience-keeper of the nation.

If there is a case for judicial interference in the legislative process, the failure of the judiciary on multiple fronts is equal reason for the executive to poke its collective nose into judicial turf.

To prove that the judicial over-reach is not an occasional thing, let’s look at the kind of orders the judiciary has been passing of late.

A few days ago, the Supreme Court wanted licences for dance bars in Maharashtra to be issued in two days. Are dance bars a priority even for the apex courts?

The court has been trying hard to reform the Board for the Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), when this is a private body doing its own thing. Why should cricket get so much time from the court when over 60,000 cases are pending before it?

Towards the end of last month, the court ordered the Reserve Bank of India to set up a panel to chase bad loans. After probing black money, will the court decide how banks should collect their dues?

Then the court decided that allowing religious structures to encroach on public spaces is an “insult to God”. One supposes the Supreme Court knows God’s mind better than the faithful. It is, after all, playing god in India.

The Supreme Court, in its avatar as protector of the environment, drove non-CNG cabs off the road in Delhi a few weeks ago before modifying its orders a bit on wiser counsel. Earlier it banned diesel SUVs above a certain size from being registered in the capital, taking on the role of a pollution expert. That it did little to lower Delhi’s ambient pollution levels did not deter the court.

The court also found time to pontificate on the need to connect backward states with air links, and asked Air India, already bleeding due to excessive political meddling in commercial operations, to indicate whether or not if it will fly to Shimla.

Then the court rapped states for non-implementation of the food security law. It never asked itself if this reluctance may have been caused by the foolishness of the law itself. And, of course, it gave the Centre notice on the implementation of the rural job creation scheme, MNREGA.

The court also wanted a human rights body for Delhi — no doubt, helping a few brother judges to find post-retirement jobs.

More recently, the Supreme Court effectively told the Speaker of the Uttarakhand Assembly how to do his job, including the counting of votes in the trust-vote. So the Speaker’s domain has been breached, too. When the Arunachal Pradesh crisis was going on, the Supreme Court directly violated the Constitution by issuing a notice to the governor — something that is forbidden under Article 361 of the Constitution. It was only when the attorney-general pointed this out that the court withdrew the notice reluctantly, but decided it would examine the governor’s actions anyway.

Given that the Supreme Court has been setting such a bad example on judicial restraint, high courts have also been busy throwing their weight about.

The Bombay High Court asked the IPL to shift its matches outside the state after April in view of the water shortage in many parts of the state. As if the use of recycled water on Mumbai’s cricket pitches would otherwise be available to thirsty people in Marathwada.

Then it wanted the Maharashtra government to ensure that the weight of school bags was reduced as per its orders.

Every year, the High Court also orders the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to repair potholes.

A Delhi High Court judge, after receiving a poor response to calls to 100 (the police), got the Chief Justice to convert his experience into a formal PIL.

To top it all, the Chief Justice of India announced the other day that the time had come to audit the government’s performance. One wonders if he has not read the Constitution, which says the people will audit the government’s performance once in five years through an election. Does the judiciary want to usurp even the sovereignty of the voter?

As things stand, the only pillar of our democracy that stands unaccountable to anyone is the judiciary, which appoints itself, decides how others should behave, and even makes the law wherever it thinks it ought to.

It is worth noting that the laundry list of court interventions mentioned above pertain to just the last two or three months. One can only surmise what damage one Supreme Court and 25 high courts can do over an entire year.

The courts are not supposed to make the law.

In doing so repeatedly, they have become an impediment to doing business smoothly. If a court can ban diesel vehicles, why blame only the government for not doing enough to improve the ease of doing business? The courts may be undoing the work done by the government.

Now, anyone claiming to represent the public interest can file a petition to change the law, damage corporate profits, and then someone else can file another PIL saying the loan given to company so-and-so has gone bad, and now this must also be the court’s duty. Many of the loans now gone bad are the result of court verdicts in many cases.

The Supreme Court should then maybe fix the problem it has created itself.

Let’s bury the Constitution.

Maha govt to declare drought in over 29,000 villages

Mumbai: In the wake of acute water shortage in various parts of Maharashtra, the state government has informed the Bombay High Court that it would declare drought in over 29,000 villages in the state and all relief prescribed in the Drought Manual, 2009 would be provided.

The government in its reply to a batch of PILs on water shortage issue, has told the court that it would issue a corrigendum and clarify that wherever reference is made to a ‘drought-like situation’ and ‘drought-affected areas’, the same should be read as ‘drought’.

The affidavit said last week the government was strictly implementing various schemes and taking various measures to mitigate the water scarcity in drought-hit areas and more particularly in Marathwada and Vidharbha regions.

Bombay High Court. News18Bombay High Court. News18

Bombay High Court. News18

The court also took note of the contention of Acting Advocate General Rohit Deoit that it would not be possible for the government to supply drinking water daily to all districts but it would be supplied on a regular basis.

Deo assured the court that potable water would be supplied to all districts affected by drought regularly till the onset of the monsoon.

The government had earlier told the high court, which is hearing the PILs, that it had declared ‘drought-like situation’ in over 29,000 villages in Maharashtra.

One of the petitioners, Sanjay Lakhe Patil had alleged last week that the government has failed to implement the Drought Manual of 2009 as well as the Drought Management Plan, 2005.

He had submitted that the state government has deliberately not declared drought in Maharashtra or in the
actually affected areas.

“This was done in order to ensure that additional relief which is normally given to villages which are declared as drought-hit villages is not given and these villages have been avoided,” Patil had argued.

After perusing the affidavit, the court had noted, “Prima facie we are satisfied that the government has given a serious thought and has considered this issue in detail and is taking immediate steps for the purpose of ensuring that in the month of May and part of June this year all adequate measures as mentioned in the Drought Manual are being undertaken.”

The court posted the petitions for hearing on 24 May to ensure that the government is implementing the provisions under the manual.

Won’t resort to strikes, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors assures Bombay HC

Mumbai: Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) on Wednesday, assured the Bombay High Court that henceforth it would not resort to strike to fulfill the demands of resident doctors in the state, and would instead demonstrate their protest in a peaceful manner.

The statement was made by a lawyer of MARD before a division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka, which had asked the Association to file an affidavit declaring its stand on the strike resorted by the doctors recently.

The doctors had gone on strike to demand transfer of Dr TP Lahane, Dean of state-run J J Hospital, for not allowing doctors to perform surgeries.

File photo. PTI.File photo. PTI.

File photo. PTI.

However, MARD said it wanted the state government to take adequate security measures for protecting resident doctors who are frequently attacked by relatives of patients who die in hospitals.

The bench then asked acting Advocate General Rohit Dev what measures the state government proposes to take to protect the resident doctors from the attacks by the kin of patients who pass away during treatment of their diseases in hospitals.

The high court asked the acting AG to file an affidavit on or before 10 June on these lines.

In an affidavit, MARD said it had withdrawn its strike after the grievances redressal committee was reconstituted by the High Court to include a retired judge as the head of this panel.

MARD further said that under the Constitution of the country, they had a right to protest peacefully in support of their demands.

Till now, the state has not been able to take steps to give protection to doctors despite repeated requests. In the past one year, there have been five incidents in which doctors have been beaten up by the kin of patients, MARD added.

The state government also needs to improve the working conditions of doctors as they often contact diseases while treating patients, it said adding that instances of tuberculosis is on the rise among doctors.

MARD also said that the issues raised by doctors were not attended to by the state government and hence the doctors were forced to go on strike although they never intended to.

However, the Association added that it would not resort to strike hereafter.

The high court had last month reconstituted a 7-member grievances redressal committee headed by retired high court judge VC Daga to probe the allegations of MARD against Lahane for not allowing doctors to perform surgeries.

Adarsh should go: The message to the corrupt has to be strong, unequivocal

The headlines in morning papers are depressing indeed.

‘Bombay HC orders demolition of 31-storey Adarsh society building’  

‘Court orders trial of UPA minister Rao, ex-CM Koda, Jindal in coal block case’

‘Agusta probe hits high gear, CBI, ED summon IAF ex-chief’

‘If they arrest me, India won’t get any money, says Vijay Mallya

If you follow the news and are particularly interested in the shenanigans of the power elite in the country, it is possible you are aware of the circumstances and course of individual cases. Still, the spread and depth of corruption in the country as evident in the headlines is likely to leave you disconcerted.

Adarsh building. IBNLive image

Adarsh building. IBNLive image

In the case of the Adarsh building in posh South Mumbai’s Colaba, every rule that could be bent, twisted and broken was bent, twisted and broken. Initially proposed for defence personnel only, the cooperative society went on to house politicians and bureaucrats; the property was allowed to be built without Coastal Regulatory Zone clearance from the Union government; it went up to a height of 100 metres when CRZ rules allow only a third of that; the society received liberal additional FSI, which is nearly impossible for other societies in a city with such a severe space crunch; and it went against the security stipulations  of the defence establishment.

In the coal block allocation case, the court’s order points to an elaborate criminal conspiracy involving a Union minister, a former chief minister and an industrialist in the allocation of the Amarkonda coal block in Jharkhand in 2008. A facade of various companies was created to cover up the payoff of Rs two crore to the Union minister, it added.

The AgustaWestland chopper controversy involves a former chief of the Air Force, top bureaucrats,  powerful political people and, if the documents available so far are to be believed, some in the media too. Vijay Mallya could be justified in claiming that his was a case of business failure, this however, does not take the attention away from the way he leveraged his influence with politicians and banks to secure loans.

It’s no secret that corruption has been a huge industry in the country but come as they from several sectors at the same time, the magnitude of it appears striking. As is evident, corruption at the top involves all — politicians, bureaucrats, players in the business sector and defence personnel too, and it thrives because of an elaborate network of patronage, quid-pro-quo arrangements and codes of secrecy. All the scandals that have surfaced so far make it amply clear that the powerful operate with the confidence that they can manipulate the system any way they want and can get away with it.

The sad reality in India is that they can.

Don’t be misled by all that noise in the media over big-ticket corruption and high-profile exposés. Television anchors will not stop reminding you that they are doing a magnificent job of exposing scandals involving the high and the mighty, but in how many big cases have we seen a conclusion? What we have from the media is the perception of criminal conduct by the big players. But perception is not reality; it’s only noise without substance.

It is only a subjective judgment.

Perhaps the only way an ordinary Indian would be convinced that something positive is happening on the corruption front is when he sees the members of the notorious power elite get convicted and put in jail like other criminals. That’s something real; the way the demolition of Adarsh in Mumbai would be. If the demolition goes through, it would send a strong message across the network of the powerful and the corrupt. There would be unintended victims but in view of the bigger intent, the demotion should go ahead.

Finally, all the noise on television and in print mean nothing if no one ends up being punished for criminal action.

Complainant cheers HC verdict in Adarsh case, but fears dilution of laws

Reacting to the Bombay High Court’s scathing judgment directing the demolition of the Adarsh housing society in Cuffe Parade, an activist who helped expose the alleged scam said that the verdict is a very positive one.

Simpreet Singh of the National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), said, “The Adarsh society has irregularities and illegalities on several fronts. The environmental issues involved are very important. We had been demanding the demolition of the society for several years, and I am very happy with the court’s order.”

The Adarsh building . Image courtesy: IBNLiveThe Adarsh building . Image courtesy: IBNLive

The Adarsh building . Image courtesy: IBNLive

In August 2008, the NAPM had filed a complaint with the department of defence, government of Maharashtra, Union environment department and Mumbai civic authorities alleging irregularities in 31-storey Adarsh society structure in the plush Cuffe Parade area in Mumbai. Subsequently, Simpreet Singh had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, demanding that it should supervise investigation of the case. The plea was part of a group of petitions which were jointly heard by the high court.

Speaking to Firstpost, Singh said, “The Environment Protection Act, 1986 provides for both civil compensation as well as criminal proceedings for people responsible for causing ecological damage. At present, the FIR in the Adarsh case deals with the aspects of fraud. However, the people responsible for the environmental damage also need to be taken to task.”

In its judgment, the Bombay High Court recorded its appreciation for Singh, saying that if it weren’t for him, the ‘gross violation’ by the Adarsh society would not have been detected.

However, to a question whether the Adarsh case would lead to better compliance with environmental regulations, Singh said, “The present government is trying to dilute the very laws which are aimed at protecting ecology. The present environment minister takes pride in stating how many projects he cleared in how many days, rather than how he has taken steps to protect the environment. This is very unfortunate and in such a scenario, I am not very hopeful.”

The Adarsh housing society is mired in controversy for alleged environmental violations, conflicts of interest, a dispute over ownership of land and benami transactions.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul? BCCI’s alternate venues to host IPL are also hit by drought

With the Bombay High Court asking Indian Premier League (IPL) matches to be held outside Maharashtra, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has asked cricket grounds at Kanpur, Ranchi and Indore to be on standby mode. Sources close to the BCCI top brass have, according to a report in CNN-IBN, asked the Kanpur, Ranchi and Indore authorities to ensure their grounds are ready as alternate options. It is understood that Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants will play their matches at these venues, while the Kings XI Punjab, which was supposed to play three matches in Nagpur, will now play all their seven home matches at their original home ground, at Mohali.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

However, one does wonder about the rationale behind choosing these particular venues as alternate options. Each of the cities chosen as back-up options is battling crippling drought currently. Ranchi has been hit especially badly, even declaring a water emergency. The state government declared drought in December last year, among the 11 states in India to do so. Ranchi, a city of 11 lakh people, needs 45 million gallons of water a day. But one of the three dams supplying water to the city is almost dry, while water levels in the other two are below the average for this time of the year. According to NDTV, only half of Ranchi’s total water requirement is met. “Rainfall has been scanty. That’s why water is being rationed out of the Hatia dam. We are treating this as an emergency,” said state water resources minister Chandra Prakash Chaudhary.

The situation isn’t much better in Uttar Pradesh either. If Kanpur is to host an IPL match, it would require 40 lakh litres of water per day. And given the drought the state is experiencing, it’s water it cannot afford to spend on cricket. The news comes just one day after the Uttar Pradesh state government said that it would take all possible steps to ensure there are no starvation-related deaths. “It’s being ensured that nobody dies due to hunger under any circumstance. All measures are being taken for it. In case of death due to hunger, the district magistrate would personally be held responsible,” relief commissioner Ashok Kumar had said. Certainly not conducive environment for holding the IPL.

The third venue chosen by the BCCI, Indore, is also not very well off. Madhya Pradesh is also staring at acute water shortage following deficit rainfall last year, the second year in a row that the rains failed MP. A report in the Times of India said the drought has affected 48 lakh farmers in 228 tehsils, while an area of 44 lakh hectares has also been hit by arid conditions. Apart from Rs 2,400-crore compensation to be extended to farmers for crop damage, the state has also sought an additional Rs 300 crore from the Centre for drinking water supply in various districts. “Water shortage may turn worse in the coming months as wells are drying up and underground water sources are limited. We have identified worst-hit areas and are making arrangements on a war footing,” state agriculture minister Gaurishankar Bisen told the newspaper.

The cricket board hasn’t given any rationale for choosing these particular venues as alternatives, but one thing is for sure — the venues chosen as back-ups in place of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur aren’t doing much better as far as the drought situation is concerned.

Maharashtra gives green signal to dance bars but legal problems are far from being over

On Monday, the Maharashtra Cabinet approved a bill on dance bars, permitting their reopening, albeit with certain restrictions on their functioning. According to a report by Zee News, the bill is likely to be tabled in the state Assembly on Tuesday.

According to a report by NewsX, some of the restrictions placed by the cabinet are: not allowing these establishments inside residential buildings, maintaining a minimum distance of at least one km from schools and places of worship, prohibiting alcohol in bar rooms and an attempt to put in place a check on vulgarity.

The bill has also put in place guidelines on the clothing of women performing in dance bars. It prohibits sexually suggestive dance moves and obscenity.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Earlier the Maharashtra government had issued certain guidelines for dance bar owners to issue identity cards and arrange for pick and drop for the dance bar workers and issued an order for imposing fine of Rs 50,000 and a jail sentence for those in the audience who touched the dance performers.

The state had initially proposed to place CCTVs in dance bars. Defending the rule in the Supreme Court, the government had said that the cameras would help to maintain the dignity of the dancers and provide them with a sense of security, as reported by The Hindu. The government had pointed out that most of the dancers are from the poor strata of society and that most of them entered the profession out of compulsion. However, the judges hearing the case were not convinced by the government’s contentions.

This was not the only occasion on which the Supreme Court turned the Maharashtra government’s arguments on dance bars. In February 2016, a division bench had described the stipulation restriction the number of dancers to four as ‘absurd’. The state government had asked hotel owners to preserve CCTV footage for 30 days, as reported by The Times of India.

History of dance bars in Maharashtra

Dance bars have a long and convoluted history in Maharashtra, and have been the subject of much controversy in the past decade. Bars that hosted dancing performances first came up in the early 1980s. The first such establishments came up in the town of Khalapur, a town between Mumbai and Pune, according to IANS. With the rise of the underworld in the 1980s and 1990s, dance bars acquired a reputation for being sites which provided tip-offs for the police from informers, as pointed in an article in Caravan.

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, in 2005, the then Maharashtra home minister RR Patil first imposed a ban on dance bars, saying that they ‘corrupt the younger generation and threaten the cultural fabric of the country.

However, the three-star and five-star establishments were exempted from the restriction.

This discrepancy, which created a separate class of three-star and five-star establishments, did not pass the judicial test. The Bombay High Court had observed, “The object of the legislation was prohibition of dances which were obscene or vulgar… That being the object, can the restriction be said to be in the interest of the general public? Women can still dance in the exempted establishments, women can still participate in tamashas and laavnis. Women can still work as waiters or any other allied jobs in the prohibited establishments.”

On 12 April 2006, the Bombay HC went on to quash the ban, declaring the provision as unconstitutional saying that it is against Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution (which deals with the freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business). However, the Maharashtra government obtained a stay on the order, which meant that the dance bars still remained shut.

The next judicial verdict on the issue came on 16 July, 2013, when the Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court’s judgment.

The government failed to convince the Supreme Court that its restriction on dance bars was legally valid (see The Indian Express report here.) and it seemed that dance bars would become a part of the city’s night life again. However, there were more difficulties in the way, as dance bar owners found it difficult to get back permission to run their establishments. As reported by The Times of India, as many as 40 licences needed to open a dance bar in Mumbai. With such steep requirements, it was no wonder that the Supreme Court’s order did not exactly open the floodgates for dance bar permissions.

Meanwhile, the court’s verdict did not deter the Maharashtra government. Subsequent to the apex court’s order, the Maharashtra government passed an amendment to the Maharashtra Police Act on 13 June 2014. This law addressed the discrepancy between the rules for three-star hotels and five-star hotels, and put the same restrictions for both categories. However, the restriction did not extend to family parties in pubs and discotheques, or to orchestras, according to a report in The Times of India.

However, the government had to face yet another roadblock. The Supreme Court stepped in and stayed the amendment to the Maharashtra Police Act related to dance bars.

The Morality debate

The dance bar issue has various moral and immoral repercussions for the community. Explaining the difference between ‘sex work’ and ‘trafficking for sex’, The Wire argued that people engaged in work that involves performing sexual acts does not always mean that they have been exploited.

The government has been pursuing the issue under the fear that women are being exploited. In fact, according to the report in The Wire, it is working on a legislation to ban dance bars in a way that it is not rendered unconstitutional. But a blanket rule to impose a ban could do more harm than good, because according to a recent research, women are in the business of dance bars, either because of their economic conditions, or because they like the profession over manual labour.

According to a report by The Hindu, the ban had left nearly 75,000 women unemployed, who then flooded into other sectors like domestic work, rag picking, factory work, shops, etc.

Given the long-drawn legal battle on this issue that has ensued between the judiciary and the Maharashtra government, it would appear that the final word has not been spoken yet.

Tea without sugar more effective than IPL ban: There are better ways of saving water in Maharashtra

By Yogesh Upadhyaya

Mumbai can save 150 per cent more water by drinking tea without sugar for a day than can be saved by banning a season of Indian Premier League (IPL)—India’s professional cricket tournament—matches in three Maharashtra stadia, our calculations reveal.

The Bombay High Court suggested that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) reconsider its decision to hold IPL matches in Maharashtra because of a widespread drought (read IndiaSpend drought reports here, here and here), but refused to stay the first match to be played at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on Friday.

Maharashtra’s three stadia–at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur–would use 6 million litres of water for the twenty matches, according to the petitioner, an advocacy called the Loksatta Movement.

While this seems like a lot of water, there are more effective ways of saving water than not watering cricket grounds, if we use the concept of embedded water–the water used in production of a product.

Agriculture consumes almost 85 per cent of water consumed in India, according to India Infrastructure Report 2011. We consume water for drinking, bathing, cooking and even washing cars, but we consume much more water through food. This is because large quantities of water are used to grow and process that food. For example, this estimate by National Geographic says more than 1,500 litres of water are used to produce half a kg of chicken, and nearly 1,000 litres to produce a bottle of wine.

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“(The real culprit) is the state’s policy that encourages production of the water-guzzling sugarcane,” Sunil Jain wrote in this column in the Financial Express.

National Geographic also tells us that more than 1,500 litres of water is used to produce a kg of sugar. Now, even if we assume that approximately 20 per cent of Mumbai’s population, or 2.5 million people, drink a cup of tea every day with a teaspoon of sugar, that comes to nearly 10,000 kg of sugar.

This sugar has 15 million litres of water embedded–meaning, it has cost us 15 million litres of water to produce this much sugar. That is 2.5 times the water to be used in the three IPL venues in Maharashtra.

Of course, this calculation has many approximations. For one, estimates of how much water is embedded in different foods vary widely, and can be different in different places. For another, we have no way of knowing how many cups of tea (or coffee or cold coffee or milk or aerated drinks) are consumed every day in the city. However, the calculation is an indication that intuition may not serve us well when it comes to issues such as water conservation.

One may point out that not consuming sugar for a day will only reduce the demand for sugar infinitesimally, and will most probably not reduce the production of sugar even next year. Obviously, it will not have any impact on the water situation in Marathwada today. But then, so wouldn’t using less water in Wankhede stadium. After all, the water not used in Wankhede would not be transported more than 400 km away to Latur in the crisis-ridden Marathwada region in Maharashtra.

The High Court probably knows this, but its intention is to focus the attention of people on what is happening to fellow citizens. Focusing on sugar consumption is a much better way of doing that because unlike cricket, growing sugarcane is a significant part of the water problem in large parts of Maharashtra and India.

Sugarcane uses a disproportionately high amount of water, this Current Science study explained.

Of 650 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water available for irrigation nationwide, 15 per cent, or 100 BCM of water, is used by sugarcane (the crop uses water from reservoirs as well as groundwater), which is planted on no more than 2.5 per cent of India’s farmland, as IndiaSpend recently reported.

In the Marathwada region, the number of sugar mills has gone up from 40 in 2009-10 to 52 in 2014-15.

Agriculture and other sectors compete for the same water, and overuse, as with sugarcane, affects Indians in many other ways, such as shortage of drinking water, electricity generation, etc. Enabling farmers to grow alternative crops has to be part of the solution, as many experts have explained.

Additional research: Abhishek Waghmare

India-Spend11India-Spend11

(IndiaSpend.com is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit)

By coming down heavily on BCCI for holding IPL in drought-hit Maharashtra, high court has shown it cares

Entire tankers full of water are currently being pressed into service to ensure cricket grounds in Maharashtra are in a position to host Indian Premier League (IPL) matches. But all the tankers in the state still can’t quench the parched throats of Marathwada.

Groundsmen water the pitch at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. PTI

And though the water, which came from local sources in urban areas, can’t be sent to rural Marathwada, the BCCI could well afford to send several tankers of water to the region’s drought-hit districts.

A cartoon in The Hindu eloquently explains the issue. It shows a family from the rural countryside, perhaps Marathwada, looking out for a tap. Any tap would do, even one with just a trickle of water flowing down. Meanwhile, a pair of suited-up gentlemen collect what appears to be cash flowing out of a tap. The pitch is the IPL, the taps are the stumps. The context is trying to draw a direct link between villagers dying of thirst and simultaneous wastage of water.

By the cricket board’s admission, about 40-60 litres of water would be used up for watering the pitches and the grounds, three of which are in Maharashtra. The Bombay High Court has expressed its displeasure with the BCCI for this wanton wastage of precious water, even though the BCCI contended that the water it uses for watering the grounds aren’t potable or drinking water. This argument is untenable. When drought its you, it means total and absolute unavailability of water, even non-potable water. The non-potable water can also be of great use at drought-affected areas.

The crisis has not overtaken state capital Mumbai yet, but water has become scarce. Neighbouring Thane district has begun feeling the pinch, an understatement considering there are 60-hour spells of continuous water cuts here.

The other argument is that pitches have already been made and only require maintenance, which is also silly, because, despite being aware of the looming crisis, the grass has been laid in the stadium.

The way bodies like BCCI look at issues like drought in Maharashtra is an indication of the disregard they have for citizens’ concerns. It is like refusing your maid a canister of water to take home even as you luxuriate under the shower. During Wednesday’s hearing at the high court, expressions like criminal waste of water were used, and at one point, the bench even suggested shifting matches to venues outside Maharashtra. Where, hopefully, water was available in plenty.

Both IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur indicated that shifting the matches outside the state would not be an easy task. This response indicates that they have no contingency plan in place, which means they had not thought of the water issue at all.

This disconnect between the victims of acute, perhaps even unprecedented, water scarcities across an entire region, and those who have access to water in abundance, is disquieting. The latter category would not understand what it is like to not have water at the turn of a tap. People in Marathwada are actually migrating, hospitals in Latur are not performing surgeries, and even water that comes in through tankers could be of questionable quality.

While the Bombay High Court was asking tough questions, the Supreme Court was hearing petitions on why the Centre didn’t activate the drought manual of its own authorship. These should come as music to the ears of the drought-stricken villagers. However, they should be aware, being frequent victims of the vagaries of nature, that whatever governments do, relief will not be immediate.

The only relief would be when monsoon brings good, timely rains and fills up rivers from bank to bank and each and every reservoir, including the village ponds. They await that, but the questions that the court asked should make them aware that even if not the government, the courts are aware of their plight.

‘Is IPL more important than people?’ HC raps BCCI, suggests matches be shifted out of drought-hit Maharashtra

Mumbai: Rapping the BCCI and cricket associations in Maharashtra over water wastage at a time when the state is reeling from severe drought, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday that Indian Premier League (IPL) matches should be shifted elsewhere, ideally a place where there is no water crisis.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Only if water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand,” the court observed.

The court also told the state that it is ultimately the government’s responsibility and duty to do something about the water wastage and impose some kind of restraint.

It also asked the state to spell out by Thursday the steps it plans to take on the issue. “How can you (cricket associations and BCCI) waste water like this? Are people not more important than your IPL matches? How can you be so careless? Who wastes water like this? This is criminal wastage. You know what the condition is in Maharashtra?” asked a division bench headed by justices VM Kanade and MS Karnik, while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Loksatta Movement.

“Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other state where water is in abundance,” the court observed.

The high court had sought responses from all other respondents, including the MCA stadium in Pune, Vidarbha Cricket Association, the Maharashtra state government and the civic bodies of Mumbai and Nagpur.

The PIL has challenged the usage of nearly 60 lakh litres of water to maintain pitches at three stadiums in the state, which will hold IPL matches.

The court asked the Mumbai Cricket Association how much water would be used at Wankhede stadium, to which MCA’s advocate said they would be using over 40 lakh litres for the seven IPL matches to be held there. To this, the court said it is a huge number. The petitioner then said that pending hearing of the PIL, the court should grant an interim order restraining all cricket associations in Maharashtra from using water to maintain the pitches.

The high court said it will consider the interim relief sought by the petitioner, during the next hearing on Thursday. The court also asked state acting advocate general Rohit Deo to appear for the state government in the matter.

Shani Shingnapur row: Let society peers and religious seers decide matters of religion, says Shiv Sena

Mumbai: Against the backdrop of the Bombay High Court’s ruling giving women the equal right to pray in places of worship, the Shiv Sena on Monday urged courts to keep off religious issues.

“Matters of religion should not be dragged to and decided by the courts but should be resolved amicably by mutual discussions by society peers and religious seers,” an editorial in the Sena mouthpiece Saamna said.

Shani Shinganarpur temple. Image courtesy: shanishinganapur.comShani Shinganarpur temple. Image courtesy: shanishinganapur.com

Shani Shinganarpur temple. Image courtesy: shanishinganapur.com

It pointed out that even today there was a debate on whether the revered saint Saibaba of Shirdi in Maharashtra was a Hindu or a Muslim but the courts cannot decide this as it was a matter of faith.

Similarly, the courts cannot say with finality that Lord Ram was indeed born in Ayodhya and this should be decided by the elders in the society.

In the same vein, the Sena urged that the the issue of whether women should be permitted to go up to the deity at the Shani Shingnapur temple at Ahmednagar in Maharashtra should be left to the temple trustees, the villagers and the devotees.

Referring to the high court ruling, the Sena questioned whether this would also applicable to women fighting for similar rights in Muslim places of worship.

The Sena said the courts must speak up with conviction that equal rights must be given to all women – since that would help the cause of women’s empowerment.

In this context, the Sena pointed out how Maharashtra has always been at the forefront in the campaign for women’s equality and great social reformers like Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and Maharishi Dhondo Keshav Karve were even ex-communicated because of their efforts.

German bakery blast: Bombay HC awards life term to convict, cites lack of evidence

Mumbai: In a reprieve to the lone convict Himayat Baig in 2010 Pune German Bakery blast, the Bombay High Court on Thursday quashed the death sentence awarded to him due to lack of evidence and the prosecution’s failure to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

A division bench of Justices NH Patil and SB Shukre while pronouncing the judgement in the blast case that came as an embarassment to the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), however, confirmed 35-year-old Baig’s conviction and life sentence imposed on him for possession of explosives (RDX).

According to the prosecution, the investigating agency had recovered around 1,200 kg of RDX from Baig’s Latur residence after his arrest in September 2010.

The High Court quashed and set aside Baig’s conviction under various sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), under sections 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC, and under some sections of the Explosive Substances Act.

File photo of the German bakery after the bomb blast. ReutersFile photo of the German bakery after the bomb blast. Reuters

File photo of the German bakery after the bomb blast. Reuters

Baig’s conviction under Section 5 (b) of the Explosive Substances Act for possession of explosives was confirmed by the High Court on Thursday. He was sentenced to life under this section by the trial court in Pune.

The High Court also confirmed Baig’s conviction under section 474 of IPC, for submitting forged documents while procuring mobile phone SIM cards. He was awarded a seven-year sentence by the trial court under this section.

The High Court also confirmed his conviction under sections 465 (forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security) and 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) of IPC.

Dressed in a black shirt and blue jeans, Baig was present in the court when the judgement was pronounced.

The court said the period already undergone by Baig in prison from his arrest till date shall be considered as part of the sentence.

The High Court further said that it need not pass any order on the applications filed by two witnesses in the case, as it has acquitted Baig of the charges.

When Baig filed his appeal in the High Court challenging the death penalty, two witnesses in the case had also filed an application seeking for their evidence to be recorded again as their statement was taken under duress.

Baig, who the ATS said was a member of the terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen, was arrested in September 2010 for involvement in the blast at German Bakery, a popular eatery in Pune’s Koregaon Park area, which killed 17 persons and injured 58, including some foreign nationals.

In 2013, a sessions court in Pune convicted him and awarded him the capital punishment. Under UAPA, Baig has been acquitted under sections
16(1)(a) (terrorist act which results in death of persons), 10(a) (member of unlawful association), 10 (b) (committing act to promote unlawful association), 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang), 18 (punishment for conspiracy), 13(1)(b) (abetting unlawful activity) and 13(2) (assisting unlawful activity).

Under IPC, Baig has been acquitted under Section 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), Section 302 (murder), Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 453 (punishment for trespassing) and Section 153 (a) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race).

Under Explosive Substances Act, Baig has been acquitted under sections 3(b) (unlawfully causing explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to a person) and 4 (a) (b) (attempt to cause explosion).

There are total eight accused in the case, of whom six are wanted.

Besides Baig, another accused Qateel Siddiqui was also arrested, but he died in Pune’s Yerawada jail following a scuffle with other inmates.

The other wanted accused in the case are: IM operatives Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhary, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Ismail Bhatkal, Fayyaz Kagzi and Sayyad Zabiuddin Ansari.

According to prosecution, the bomb used in the blast was assembled at Baig’s internet cafe. Thereafter, he travelled to Pune by bus with Mohsin Choudhary and planted the bomb.

However, Baig’s lawyer Mehmood Pracha had earlier argued that Baig was not even present in Pune at the time of the blast, and that he was attending a wedding in Latur.

According to Pracha, it was Qateel Siddiqui who along with Yasin Bhatkal went to Pune.

Former journalist Ashish Khetan had also earlier filed a PIL, alleging that Baig was falsely implicated and the case should be probed afresh by NIA.

PTI

Hema land row: Fadnavis bats for new policy on land allotment at current rates, Khadse unaware

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has ordered cancellation of its 1983 resolution allowing allotment of state-owned plots at cheaper rates and announced framing of a new policy to give land at contemporary rates, amid a row over handing over of land to BJP MP Hema Malini at “throwaway” price for her dance academy.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTIMaharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

“I have given orders to cancel the 1983 GR (government resolution) and to come out with a new policy to give land
based on the current rates,” Fadnavis told PTI on Friday.

The chief minister said he has given the orders and the department concerned will put up a fresh cabinet note before its next meeting.

He said the orders were issued two days back.

When asked if new orders will apply retrospectively or otherwise, the chief minister merely said, “The Cabinet will decide on the issue.”

However, revenue department, headed by senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, is apparently unaware about the chief minister’s order.

Sources in revenue ministry contended that no such decision on scrapping the GR has been taken.

The development comes days after the matter reached the Bombay High Court where former journalist Ketan Tirodkar filed a PIL seeking direction to the Mumbai Police Commissioner to file case of cheating and forgery against Malini and Khadse on the charge of illegally allotting land for her dance academy at a nominal price.

The BJP-led government had announced allotment of the plot in suburban Oshiwara to Malini in December last year.

However, an RTI activist had last month claimed that the plot valued in crores was being given to the actress for mere Rs 70,000, triggering a huge controversy.

Congress and other opposition parties in the state have dubbed allotment of land to Malini for her Natyavihar Kala
kendra Charity trust as an act of “favouritism.”

PTI

Islam does not bar women to enter graveyards, time we know the truth, says Zeenat Shaukat Ali

By Smita Deshmukh 

A professor of Islamic studies and a well-known global scholar on the subject of Islam, Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali has authored several books explaining what the Quran says about Muslim women.

At the forefront of the campaign to allow Muslim women to enter the Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai, Ali believes that all traditions banning women in the heart of religious shrines and temples depicts our society’s deep-rooted women-phobia. Firstpost interviewed Ali, here are a few excerpts:

How do you look at the traditions that ban women to enter the sanctum sanctorum in all religious places?

The Shani Shingnapur temple and Haji Ali dargah issue reflects the misogynistic attitude and patriarchal assertions of male domination. It is surprising to see this in a secular democracy like India, where the Constitution gives equal rights to all.

Haji Ali dargah has recently barred women (from 2012) from entry, reverting its earlier stand. Perhaps visiting graves was not held permissible for men and women alike in early Islam as attachment and supplication to the dead were widespread and in Islam worship is meant only for God.

Haji Ali Dargah. IBNLive.Haji Ali Dargah. IBNLive.

Haji Ali Dargah. IBNLive.

But once the teachings of Islam were well-established, visitation to the graveyards was recommended and encouraged by the Prophet. Women were not excluded from this approval.

This is because the concept and wisdom of visiting graveyards was said to be twofold – one, the reminder of the inevitability of the death and accountability for actions in the Hereafter; two to offer prayers for mercy and forgiveness for departed ones.

Men are, by no means, more in need of this reminder than women. There is no authentic prohibitory order forbidding women to enter graveyards. Many scholars like me hold it permissible for women to visit graves.

Is there enough evidence to show women clearly visited graveyards after it was permitted?

Yes. There are many incidents. Hazrat Ayesha lived in the Masjid-Un-Nabi wherein lies the grave of the Prophet and prayed to Allah. Fatima, the daughter of Prophet used to visit the grave of her grand uncle and would pray there.

Does that mean there is a systematic attempt to undo the social changes that took place in this century that altered the status of women in the society?

Of course! Just look at the way the Prophet treated women. The Quran clearly shows how the Prophet gave material, spiritual, marriage, divorce and above all – leadership rights to women.

It states that whoever – man or woman – is intelligent must rule. The Quran extols the leadership of Queen Bilques as “a woman ruling over them provided with every requisite.” Her qualities of leadership are not measured by her gender but by her capacity to fulfill the requirements of her office, her political acumen, the purity of her faith and her independent judgment.

The Quran does not uphold or assert conceptions of female inferiority nor can a woman be judged as less rational, more emotional or less competent than men on the basis of divine law. It is clear from many sunnah that the Prophet consulted women and weighted their opinions seriously.

My book Empowerment of Women in Islam which came 10 years ago specifies all steps taken by the Prophet to give women their rightful place. But today, there is a clear attempt to turn the clock in the name of traditions and superstitions. This needs to be challenged.

Even during the menstrual cycle days, the focus is on hygiene – not to stress and avoid fasting. But this is turned into superstition. Banning women into the sanctum sanctorum of a dargah goes against the spirit of equality granted to women in Islam.

The Haji Ali dargah matter is reaching the Supreme Court, what do you make of it? 

Yes. Politicians are afraid to take stand on religious issues, they are too cautious when it comes to personal laws. I wish the SC listens to scholars than religious heads and activists. It is an important matter to women in India and here I’m giving all evidence. I’ve heard Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also intervening in the issue. It is a positive step. But the Constitution is supreme and clearly speaks of no discrimination on the basis of religion, caste or gender. And Islam endorses this Constitutional clause.

Don’t Muslim women in other parts of the world visit shrines?

The negative implication in the contemporary Muslim world where women are barred from entry to sanctum sanctorum is not witnessed in several Muslim countries.

In Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Iran and other countries, both men and women visit Sufi shrine and tombs alike. In India, without fuss, men and women of every faith visit the celebrated shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Mohinuddin Chisti and several others.

I recently visited Afghanistan and saw so many women in their Parliament – they are modern and educated. Such a contrast in a country where there is Taliban. Out here, we are still unable to bring 33 per cent women reservation!

Coming to Section 377 debate, you have been emphatic that Islam does not endorse homosexuality, are you open to having a debate? 

It says complete no to homosexuality. Islam looks at marriage as a pact between a man and woman and procreation (family) is an important aspect.

I agree whatever happens between two people in their private space is their personal matter. In the changing world, we need a healthy, open debate on the issue of decriminalising section 377.  I’m for it. At the same time, we must discuss the issue of child abuse and trafficking also.

In the run up to the Presidential elections in the US, a lot has been said about Muslims by Donald Trump, how do you see those narratives? 

In whatever he says, Donald Trump belittles the US. He is merely playing it to the gallery, taking advantage of the troubled times we live in.  Daesh (I refuse to call them Islamic State because they do not represent anything that represents Islam) – a group of orthodox, violent, misinformed people are creating problems for the whole world.

They have created a climate of vengeance, though the Quran clearly states to win over your enemies with peace. In the vicious cycle, wars are fought everywhere, arms are supplied in abundance. It has nothing to do with religion. But it is projected as one. This confuses everyone and Donald Trump adds to that confusion.

Smita Deshmukh is a senior journalist and communications expert based in Mumbai. You can follow her on twitter @smitadeshmukh

Murud beach tragedy: With no system in place how does govt propose to avoid such incidents, asks HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday rapped Maharashtra government and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) for failing to implement a Government Resolution on measures to be taken to keep beaches secure.

“It is shocking that 14 students, of which 10 were girls, died after drowning two days back at the Murud-Janjira beach. There is no system in place. There were no warning signals, no lifeguards and no watchtowers,” a division bench of justices NH Patil and GS Kulkarni said.

Representational image. Image courtesy: @ibnlive/TwitterRepresentational image. Image courtesy: @ibnlive/Twitter

Representational image. Image courtesy: @ibnlive/Twitter

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Janhit Manch on the issue of beach safety.

In 2006, the high court had passed certain directions following which on 8 September, 2006, the government issued a resolution on the issue.

“The government is yet to implement the resolution. You (government and civic body) have a resolution directly on the issue but still nothing has been done. Ask the city collector why the resolution has not been implemented,” the court said.

“There are so many beaches in the city itself like Juhu beach, Gorai beach, Aksa beach and so on. There is so much crowd in these places especially children. With no system in place how does the government propose to avoid such incidents (drowning),” the bench said.

Giving the example of how Goa has deployed beach police also known as coastal police at their beaches, the court said the Maharashtra government should also consider the same.

The court posted the petition for hearing on 12 February and asked both government and corporation to say why the resolution has not yet been implemented.

PTI

Odd-even emulation? Bombay HC seeks reply on plea seeking implementation in Mumbai

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PIL in Bombay HC seeks odd-even traffic rule in Mumbai

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Bombay HC directs molestation accused to sweep streets in return for quashing charges

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Bombay HC pulls up Karnataka CID for not cooperating on Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi murders

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Obituary: Even a fracture couldn’t keep workaholic Justice SH Kapadia away from work

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HC slams govt for ‘shocking inaction’ after officials fail to find out how foreigner was issued PAN card

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