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Jung not over? LG Anil Baijal non-commital on fixing relationship with Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former bureaucrat Anil Baijal took over as 20th Lt Governor of Delhi and struck a cautious note on where the LG’s office will stand in repairing the fractured relationship between the Centre and AAP government which had hit rock bottom under his predecessor. 70-year-old Baijal, who had served in a number of key positions at the Centre including as Union Home Secretary, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, 10 days after Najeeb Jung’s abrupt resignation as the LG.Baijal said addressing key challenges like women’s safety, pollution, traffic congestion and strengthening infrastructure will be his priority areas.The oath ceremony was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Delhi Chief Secretary MM Kutty, leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta among others.On being asked about tussle between previous LG Jung and the city government on a range of issues including administrative control over the bureaucracy, Baijal said, “This is speculative. I don’t know why and how the relationship will improve. We will sit and talk and then you will get to know.”Welcoming Baijal’s appointment, Kejriwal said he was hopeful that under the new LG, governance in the national capital will see new momentum overcoming the past hurdles.”I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for overall development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to a standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said at an event at Delhi Assembly complex.Baijal said he will put his best efforts in improving law-and-order situation, women’s safety, traffic congestion besides strengthening infrastructure and civic amenities in the city.”Delhi is a megapolis which has several problems like women safety, law and order, huge population, infrastructure, civic agencies and congestion. We all know about these problems. We will work with elected government to solve them,” he told reporters. Baijal also thanked President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him the responsibility. A 1969-batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries.He was actively associated with the designing and countrywide roll-out of Rs 60,000-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Urban Development Secretary. He had served as vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority and is known to be well versed with the city administration.The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including NSA Doval.Baijal, known to follow the rule book, will have to take a series of important decisions including on the report of Shunglu committee, set up by Jung to examine over 400 files pertaining to decisions taken by the AAP government in the last two years.The Shunglu committee has reportedly pointed out “irregularities” in some of the Kejriwal government’s decisions.His immediate task will also include appointing a new chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which has been headless since November after the appointment of incumbent Krishna Saini was turned down by Jung.Jung and the AAP dispensation had clashed over a range of issues including transfer and posting of bureaucrats, setting up of enquiry commissions and among others.There was a running battle between L-G office and Kejriwal government with the latter constantly challenging the former’s supremacy in the city administration.Jung had won the court battle as the Delhi High Court had stamped the primacy of Lt Governor in the affairs of Government of NCT.However, AAP government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court verdict and during a recent hearing in the case, the apex court had said the elected government should have some powers.

When even Sushma Swaraj couldn’t help an individual

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday expressed inability in helping a British woman charity worker of Iranian origin who has been sentenced to one year imprisonment by a court in Odisha on charges of causing death of a tribal child due to negligence.Swaraj had sought a report from Odisha government on the case involving 28-year-old Narges K Ashtari.She said she cannot help the woman due to the court order. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif earlier this week has said that Iran will use all its capacity to secure Ashtari’s release. “I have received the report from Government of Odisha. The trial court has convicted Narges K Ashtari to one year imprisonment and Rs 3,00,000/- fine.”She has filed an appeal before Sessions Court which is pending. The appellate court has released her on bail pending appeal. This is a judicial order and the matter is sub judice.Therefore, I am unable to help in this case @BorisJohnson @JZarif,” Swaraj said in a series of tweets. She also tagged Zarif as well as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in her tweets. Ashtari, who runs an orphanage through her NGO Prishan Foundation in Rayagada district of Odisha, was found guilty by a court in the case relating to causing death to a child due to negligence. She faced the charges after the disappearance of the child in 2014, who is feared drowned.An online petition by social activists has recently sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in seeking justice for Ashtari saying she has dedicated her life in serving orphan and abandoned children around the world. Earlier this week, the Iranian Foreign Minister had said “The Foreign Ministry considers it its duty to protect Iranian nationals residing abroad, including students, elites and businessmen… and will use all its capacity to support them and restore their rights.”He said the Iranian Foreign Ministry and Iran’s embassy in New Delhi are following up on her case though diplomatic, consular and legal channels. Born in Isfahan, central Iran, Ashtari’s parents moved to the UK when she was four years old.

Pakistan seeks US support on Indus Waters Treaty

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has sought the support of United States on the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) with India.US Secretary of State John Kerry had a telephone conversation with Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday. Kerry said that the World Bank President had recently informed him about Pakistan’s complaint against India on the subject of Indus Waters Treaty. Kerry urged for an amicable solution of the dispute between the two countries. “The US would like to see an amicable solution to this issue,” he was quoted as saying.Dar said that the Indus Waters Treaty is an international commitment and it is the responsibility of the World Bank to make sure that India honours this treaty and the water rights of hundreds of millions of people of Pakistan are protected. He said that the Court of Arbitration is a legal requirement and appointment of the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration must be fulfilled by the World Bank.Dar said that the World Bank President had been in touch with him in writing and also on telephone during the current month. He indicated that Washington’s support on the principles and legal position of Pakistan would be greatly appreciated. Kerry also appreciated the improvement in the economic indicators of Pakistan and congratulated Dar on the economic recovery brought about by Islamabad.Dar said that the government after having achieved macro-economic stability is now focused on achieving higher sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Kerry also recalled his association with Senator Ishaq Dar went back to the days when he was Leader of Opposition in the Pakistan Senate.The Finance Minister also warmly acknowledged his association with Secretary Kerry.

RBI’s refusal of details sheer arrogance, sets dangerous precedent: Activist Shailesh Gandhi

The most shocking aspect of the decision to demonetise the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes by NDA government is the lack of transparency. The government and the RBI, the monetary authority, have not yet revealed the exact reason why the decision was taken or even about the current status of the economy and cash supply. There have even not been regular press releases or statements from the authorities through out the last 51 days.

The country’s central bank remained silent in the initial days of the demonetisation when the citizens had a harrowing time with cash crunch at banks and ATMs coupled with long queues that also led to even a few deaths of senior citizens. The role of the Reserve Bank of India and its new governor Urjit Patel has come for severe criticism.

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi's Facebook pageShailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi's Facebook page

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi’s Facebook page

Shailesh Gandhi, former Information Commissioner with the Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, filed a complaint with the CIC over the RBI’s refusal to answer queries under Right to Information Act by a non-disclosure policy put up on its site on November 30. In a conversation with Firspost, Gandhi explains why the RBI is on the course to setting a dangerous precedent by its refusal to answer queries and setting up its list under its non-disclosure policy which goes against the exemptions laid under the RTI Act, passed by the Supreme Court.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Your take on RBI’s unwillingness to respond to RTI queries.

This is sheer arrogance on the part of the RBI. Almost everyone in power dislikes transparency for themselves, be it the courts, bureaucrats, the RBI and even the media for that matter. Arrogance weighs with everyone who will say that in theory the RTI is good but when asked to release information, will remark: I am not corrupt. I am honest and clean and why should any ordinary citizen question me. Even the honest dislike the RTI and are happy to tell others to be transparent. It takes time to get used to being questions. It is 11 years since the RTI Act came into force.

What the RBI is doing by refusing to answer queries under RTI is denying citizens their fundamental rights. There are ten exemptions under the RTI. These do not include what the RBI is stating as exemption for itself. The central bank has also not given any reason for its actual rejection to the questions posed to it under the RTI.

Our RTI Act is the best in the world and we now rank at number 4 in terms of provisions of law and at 66 with regard to implementation. The Act is grossly misrepresented. The courts also have not been very enthusiastic about it.

You have filed a case against RBI’s refusal with the CIC

Yes, I have filed a complaint with the CIC on 16 December that the RBI is arbitrarily claiming exemption and have spread the net very wide in the garb of following the law and are actually defying the law. I did that because the RBI could set a bad precedent which is dangerous that could lead other public authorities to follow it, which could lead to increase in the load on the CIC. Everyone will compile their own non-disclosure list like the RBI has done and the CIC will not be able to penalise them. I hope the Supreme Court and the CIC takes cognisance of it.

The RBI has in its Disclosure Policy on its site on 30 November said that the list of information which shall not be given is justified by the proclamation that: ‘While compiling the ( nondisclosure) list, it has been the Bank’s endeavour to attain the objectives of the RTI Act, without jeopardizing the financial stability and economic interests of the State.’ Effectively it means that RBI arrogates to itself the right to lay down exemptions to disclosure of information in line with the objectives of the Act. This is the sole prerogative of Parliament which has provided the exemptions to disclosure in Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. The RBI’s disclosure policy is actually a non-disclosure. They are the masters and the judges themselves.

What are the 10 areas that are exempted under the RTI Act?

1) To give information, disclosures which would affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence; 2) information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court; 3) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature; 4) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; 5) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; 6) information received in confidence from foreign government; 7) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; 8) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; 9) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; 10) information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

When Supreme Court orders are not being adhered to by the RBI, can no action be taken on the institution?

When you defy SC orders, the CIC cannot do anything. The commission has the authority and power to say that the list you put up is too wide ranging and can’t be accepted. That’s all.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 12:24 IST

Religious revolutions of ’16

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the passing year witnessed greater disputes over various laws, people also came out disagreeing with beliefs and customary practices that had been kept on a pedestal. Not only did women come out protesting against age old traditions barring them from being as devotional as others. They also opposed religious personal laws demanding a better quality of life, denying being a victim of things which don’t hold relevance in the 21st century.While 2016 might go down in history as one of the worst years for a few, it did have some redeeming qualities. It was a good year for many a believers who received a huge return on their spiritual investment.The greatest of all victories was when the Shani Shignapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra finally agreed to let female worshippers in after 400 years. This was the result of a long-drawn-out battle spearheaded by the Bhumata Brigade, led by the firebrand Trupti Desai. The women waged a pitched battle for their right to worship and questioned age old patriarchal practices. Not stopping here, the group of feisty women are taking their battle to other temples like the Sabrimala in Kerela where women of a menstruating age are forbidden from entering and offering prayers.The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) led by Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz, pitched a similar battle to enter the inner sanctum of Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. The ban that was just instituted four years ago, prohibited women from entering the inner sanctum of the dargah. In August this year the Bombay High Court held that the ban against women entering the inner sanctorm of the dargah contravenes Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution of India. The court ordered the Dargah Trust to lift the ban. Though the matter went to the Supreme Court, the women emerged victorious finally entering the shrine on November 30. It was indeed a moment of pride for the Christians across the world as well, as they rejoiced at Mother Teresa being granted ‘sainthood’. The Catholic nun who had devoted her life to caring for the dying and the destitute on the streets of Kolkata, was officially canonized at the Vatican this year and rechristened Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Pope Francis. From rationalists debating over the importance given to ‘miracles’ and amid the constant accusations of conversions, no one can doubt that the Missionaries of Charity have given hope and dignity to some poorest and most miserable people in the city.Meanwhile, Pope Francis also revealed a more inclusive face of the Roman Catholic Church by asking Christians to stop hate crimes and discrimination against the LGBT community. He said that the church must apologise to gay people for marginalising them. While he did not budge from the church’s stand on marriages as being an exclusive heterosexual privilege and did not endorse same sex marriages, this has been seen as a big step forward in making the church more rainbow friendly. Mumbai’s Cardinal Oswald Gracious too asserted that gay people were not criminals and all Christians must be welcomed by the church. With the rising debate over triple talaq and the growing demand to revise the Article, the Law Commission of India released a questionnaire in October on Uniform Civil Code (UCC) asking citizens for their suggestions. With the possible introduction of UCC giving rise to a heated debate across the country many fear that the law is actually a tool to erase cultural practices and religious identities. However, the UCC, at least prima facie, is merely a uniform law that would subvert all religion based personal laws in matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance. Different faiths see UCC as a way to do away with mysogistic practices like triple talaq in Islam, polygamy in both Islam and Hinduism (permitted in Goa) and the practice of ‘maitri karar’ or ‘friendship agreement’, a practice in Gujarat that legally allows a man to have another women in his life apart from his wife. Women also hope matters related to mehr and dowry become clear. It remains to be seen how the UCC plays its part in bringing about greater gender justice.

Pune: CBI arrests income tax officer for accepting bribe of Rs 1 lakh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested an Income Tax Officer from Pune for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from the complainant.A case was registered under section 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on a complaint against Income Tax Officer (ITO), Ward 2(2), Income Tax Office, Swargate, Pune.It was alleged that the ITO, demanded bribe of Rs 2 lakh from the complainant to pass favourable orders in connection with his tax liability.The CBI laid a trap and caught the ITO red handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from the complainant.Searches have been conducted at the office and residential premises of the accused which led to recovery of incriminating documents relating to tax assessment of the complainant; cash of Rs. 5,04,030/-(approx); jewellery i.e 4 Gold biscuits weighing total 350 grams (approx); two flats in Pune and 4 acres land at Solapur, 9 Bank accounts and one bank locker (yet to be operated).The arrested accused is being produced on Friday before the Court of Special Judge, CBI Cases, Pune.

SC rejects plea challenging Justice JS Khehar’s elevation as CJI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A plea by a group of lawyers challenging the elevation of Justice J S Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India (CJI) was dismissed today by the Supreme Court which asserted that there was “no question” of him being considered ineligible for the post.The apex court rejected the arguments that Justice Khehar, while heading a five-judge constitution bench that had struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), had benefitted himself as the judgement had revived the collegium system for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary.While disapproving the grounds for entertaining the PIL, a bench of Justices R K Agrawal and D Y Chandrachud noted that there were averments in the petition praising the “quality” of the judge who is to be sworn as CJI on January 4.”Since the petitioners have praised the quality of Justice J S Khehar, there is no question of him being considered ineligible for being appointed as the Chief Justice of India,” the bench said.”So far as this allegation is concerned, it is sufficient to mention that collegium not only consist of the CJI but also four other senior-most judges of the Supreme Court,” the bench said.The apex court also said that as far as correctness of the NJAC case judgement is concerned, “we are of the opinion that petitioner has the right to apply for review or file curative petition”.”We do not find any merit in the petition and the same is dismissed,” the bench said while rejecting the plea filed by National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms.Advocate Mathews J Nedumpara, appearing for the lawyers’ body, argued that the issue of judiciary’s independence and appointment of judges was important and it was “painful” for them to approach the apex court with such a petition.He claimed that judges in the higher judiciary were coming from “a few families only” and “it cannot be the exclusive domain of some persons”.”This court has to listen to the critics. Democracy is all about criticism,” he said, adding that Justice Khehar should refuse to become the next CJI.

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking the quashing of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar’s appointment as the next Chief Justice of India.

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

The vacation bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed as “without merit” the petition by the National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms and others.

President Pranab Mukherjee on 19 December appointed Justice Khehar as the 44th Chief Justice of India. He will be sworn-in on 4 January, 2017. The incumbent Chief Justice TS Thakur retires on 3 January.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:20 IST

Sasikala takes over Amma’s mantle, nominated gen secy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VK Sasikala, who was denied a party post all along by Jayalalithaa, was on Thursday unanimously nominated as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary in the name of the departed Amma.Her nomination will be followed by a formal election at a general council (GC), but the die has been cast. Party seniors do not expect any other nomination for the post.The general council, which met at Vanagaram in suburban Chennai, was attended by over members, and nominated Sasikala as the interim leader till she is formally elected.Sasikala, as was expected, did not attend the meeting. Chief minister O Panneerselvam, who, along with senior leaders handed over the resolution to Sasikala, said she had accepted the request of the party.The council resolved that Jayalalithaa should be given the Bharat Ratna, the Magsaysay Award, and that her statue should be unveiled in Parliament. However, the focus was not on Jayalalithaa but her aide, Sasikala.Party presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan and former minister C Ponnaiyan were among those who spoke briefly on the resolutions. Ponnaiyan said there will be no contest for the post of general secretary.The elevation of Sasikala has come as a well-orchestrated puppet show, with her family members pulling all the strings in her favour. The Poes Garden will continue to be a power centre in Tamil Nadu, Amma or no Amma.At the moment, Sasikala is sitting pretty, having assumed all the powers of the general secretary. The next few steps would now be easier for her now that she is in full control of the party apparatus.With all district units, ministers and MLAs supporting her election, it is clear that her writ will run.However, on the day of her elevation, a shocker came from the Madras High Court, as a Bench observed that there were many unanswered questions surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa, which was a “mystery”. “The state government has failed to clear the doubts even after her death. Should her body be exhumed to know the truth?” they asked.Justice S Vaidyanathan and V Parthiban were hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking the appointment of a commission comprising three retired Supreme Court (SC) judges to probe into the “mysterious” death of Jayalalithaa.The Bench ordered notice to the Centre, the Prime minister’s Office and the Tamil Nadu government, and censured the Union government for not revealing any information on the ”mystery” surrounding her death.”Representatives of the central government visited the hospital. Counsel for the Union government claims to know the details of the incidents. But still the authorities have not conveyed or brought out anything to the people, for reasons best known to them,” the petition of PA Stalin, a primary member of the AIADMK, said.He referred to the precedent of the Calcutta High Court in 1999, directing the constitution of a one-man commission of a retired apex court judge to probe into the death of Netaji Subhash ChandraBose.Stalin also wanted the court to pass interim order to the state authorities and the Apollo Hospitals calling for all official and other relevant records and documents in connection with the death.The judges referred to doubts mentioned in the media over the death of Jayalalithaa.”After the demise, everybody has a right to question. I personally have a doubt,” Justice Vaidyalingam said, adding, “One day it was told that she is walking, another day you said that she will come out and suddenly what happened. Even with regard to the health of late Chief Minister MGR, a video was released,” Justice Vaidyanathan said.When a special mention was made by senior counsel K M Vijayan, advocate general Muthukumaraswamy said there was no mystery in the death. The Bench referred the PIL to the Chief Justice to list the plea in an appropriate Bench.On a day when Sasikala assumed control of the party, the observations of the bench must have come as a shock to the Sasikala family.

13,000 beer bars in Maharashtra to close down from May 1

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Supreme Court’s (SC) judgment of banning liquor shops within 500 metres of state and national highways, in Maharashtra, 13,000 beer bars will be shut down from May 1.According to a Maharashtra excise department circular, the government will not give permission to open liquor shops adjoining state and national highways. “The earlier permissions for liquor shops at highways will be valid up to May 2017. After that, there will not be any renewal of liquor shops. This order will also be applicable for the liquor shops whose adjoining road goes through villages, towns and districts,” stated the circular. The copy of the circular is with DNA.The circular also reads that the advertisements which contains liquor signs and pictures will not be permitted to be displayed along state and national highways. “If there are any such advertisements, they have to be removed immediately. People should not see any liquor shop near the highways. Liquor shops will not be permitted within 500 metres of service road of highways. Besides, one day permits will not be given to hold parties and functions,” stated the circular.Senior government officials said that the apex court has said that more than revenue, the life of the person is most important. “Maharashtra annually earns over Rs 20,000 crore from the sale of liquor. More than 50 per cent revenue is generated from highways only. We may lose Rs 10,000 crore if the SC order is implemented in totality,” said a senior government official.Arrive Safe, an NGO had filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in SC with the aim of ending drunk driving. In its December 15 order, the SC gave the judgment that no liquor shops on national or state highways from April 1and existing licences of liquor shops won’t be renewed after April 1.”We will lose our livelihood with the implementation of this apex court order. The 60 per cent wine and other licences will get affected. We are trying to explore the legal remedy,” said Dilip Giyanani, Chairperson of the Maharashtra Wine Merchant Association.

Shahabuddin case: Slain journalist’s wife lodges FIR for threats to withdraw case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slain journalist Rajdeo Ranjan’s wife Asha Ranjan has lodged an FIR alleging threats received asking her to back out from pursuing a case against RJD strongman and former Siwan MP Mohammad Shahabuddin in connection with the killing of her husband who was a working with a prominent vernacular newspaper.Rajdeo, who was the Siwan bureau chief of the newspaper, was shot dead on May 13 at a busy fruit market near Siwan railway station.Mufassil police station SHO Vinay Kumar Singh said Asha filed the FIR on Wednesday where she alleged receiving a phone call from Dubai, threatening her to withdraw the case against Shahabuddin in the Supreme Court in connection with the killing of her husband.
ALSO READ SC to hear plea seeking Shahabuddin’s transfer to TiharShe stated in the FIR, “I got a call from +671 at 12:28 am (on the intervening night of December 26-27). The caller asked me if I knew Shahabuddin. Once I replied in the affirmative, he said a lot of drama has been done and now, I should withdraw the case filed in the Supreme Court against Shahabuddin.”I should stop pursuing the case failing which they (Shahabuddin’s henchmen) would chop us into pieces, so that it would be difficult for anyone to recognise us. I am terrified. Please help me as we have repeatedly been getting threat calls. Even the security provided to our family is only on paper.”
ALSO READ Case against Shahabuddin: BJP questions Nitish Kumar government’s seriousnessThe widow of the scribe had moved the apex court seeking transfer of the probe and trial of her husband’s murder case to Delhi from Siwan as she feared that a free-and-fair trial against Shahabuddin was not possible if he was lodged in a Bihar jail.Shahabuddin is currently lodged in Siwan jail after the apex court had, on September 30, cancelled his bail after hearing the two petitions filed by the Bihar government and lawyer Prashant Bhushan on behalf of the slain scribe’s family.The Bihar government had, on May 16, within three days of the murder, handed over the probe to the central agency.

Struggling since four years, Nirbhaya’s parents await justice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The parents of December 16 gang-rape victim on Thursday expressed their anguish over the country’s justice system and said it is extremely unfortunate that tough legal action has not yet been initiated against the convicts despite four years after the incident.”We have been struggling for four years, but still the convicts are alive,” said Asha Devi, the victim’s mother, while hoping that the Supreme Court would very soon pronounce a favourable judgement.She also expressed her ire at the BJP-led NDA Government for renaming the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ as ‘Sakhi’.”It was announced that Nirbhaya crisis centre would be set up in every district with the funds collected so far, but now we get to know that the name of this fund has been changed to Sakhi,” she added.She urged Union Women and Child Development Minister Meneka Gandhi not to change the name of this fund named in honour of her daughter.”I will not get anything from the crisis centre, but the government by doing so is actually suppressing the voices of the rape victims. I want to ask the government why the name ‘Nirbhaya’ has been removed,” she said.The victim’s mother further called for a change in mindset to ensure that such unfortunate incident never ever takes place with any ‘Nirbhaya’.”We all must join hands to bring a change in society for the better. We all must learn to respect women,” she added.

J&K HC orders release of hardline Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam Bhat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered release of senior hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masarat Alam Bhat who has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015. Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Bhat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds. “By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said in its order.Bhat has been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla. According to the order, Bhat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities. The order was passed on the basis of Bhat’s meeting on August 11 this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla. The persons had requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani. The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, they met Bhat, who allegedly advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the turmoil. A case was registered against Bhat at police station Baramulla on August 30, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.”Even otherwise, record would show statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded.Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Barrack No.7, whereas (Bhat) was lodged in Barrac No.8.”The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.The court also rendered the detention order illegal for the reason that the bail application of Bhat had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in state custody. The detaining authority, in this situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Bhat) being released on bail. The Court said, “democratic society not only swears but lives by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings”. Bhat was released after four-and-half years of detention soon after the PDP-BJP government took charge in March last year. However, he was re-arrested on April 17, 2015 and detained under the PSA for alleged anti-national activities during a rally to welcome Geelani home from Delhi.

Jammu and Kashmir: Masarat Alam’s detention held illegal, HC orders release of hardline Hurriyat leader

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered release of senior hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masrat Alam Bhat, who has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Masarat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds.

“By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said in its order on Wednesday.

Bhat has been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla. According to the order, Masarat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities.

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

The order was passed on the basis of Masarat’s meeting on 11 August this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla. The persons had requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani.

The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, they met Masarat, who allegedly advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the turmoil. A case was registered against Masarat at police station Baramulla on 30 August, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.

“Even otherwise, record would show statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded.Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Barrack No.7, whereas (Masarst) was lodged in Barrac No.8.

“The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.

The court also rendered the detention order illegal for the reason that the bail application of Masarat had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in state custody.

The detaining authority, in this situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Masarat) being released on bail.

The Court said, “democratic society not only swears but lives by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings”.

Masarat was released after four-and-half years of detention soon after the PDP-BJP government took charge in March last year.

However, he was re-arrested on 17 April, 2015 and detained under the PSA for alleged anti-national activities during a rally to welcome Geelani home from Delhi.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:07 IST

Watch: Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer attacked outside party office

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer was attacked outside the party office in Chennai on Wednesday afternoon.According to initial reports, the attack took place when four lawyers from Pushpa’s team had gone to AIADMK headquarters to submit a letterOn December 18, Pushpa had moved Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation by an apex court judge into the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.In her petition, Pushpa alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was “suspicious” as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything, from her hospitalisation to her death, “was kept under wraps”. Meanwhile, though the Madras High Court rejected Pushpa’s bail plea, the Supreme Court gave her protection from arrest and on September 26, directed her to join the police investigation.A case was recently registered against Pushpa and some of her family members for alleged sexual harassment of their maids in 2001. The domestic servants, who reportedly worked at Pushpa’s house in Tamil Nadu, had filed a police complaint alleging that they were tortured.

Nine months after Sreehari Aney’s resignation, Maharashtra Cabinet approves Rohit Deo as next advocate general

Mumbai: The BJP-led Maharashtra government has chosen acting Advocate General Rohit Deo as its next Advocate General, nine months after his predecessor Sreehari Aney quit the post following a huge row triggered by his espousal of statehood for the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

A meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, recommended elevation of Deo to the AG’s post to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, a senior official said.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Aney had courted controversy by advocating statehood for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, which was vehemently opposed by the ruling partner Shiv Sena.

The Sena had then seized on the issue to target the BJP, which, as matter of policy, favoured smaller states, despite Fadnavis asserting that bifurcation of Maharashtra was not on his government’s agenda.

The government had recently filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, saying the post will be filled by the end of this month.

The Division Bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt, urging the court to direct the state to appoint an A-G under Article 165 of the Constitution.

The court had criticised the state for not complying with the deadline of 23 December and had adjourned the matter to 9 January.

It had earlier observed that constitutional and statutory functions were suffering due to the non-appointment of the AG and has hurt the cause of justice.

On 18 November, 2014, Sunil Manohar was appointed as the AG, but he resigned on 9 June, 2015. On 11 June, 2015, additional Solicitor General Anil Singh was given the additional post of acting A-G. On 14 October, 2015, Aney was appointed as the AG, and he resigned on 22 March, 2016.

Reacting to the decision, Dutt claimed that the government was compelled to take a decision on the matter after he moved the high court.

In a tweet, Dutt said, “The government has conceded my demand and finally appointed Acting AG as AG.”

“However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis needs to answer why he waited for nine months to appoint Acting AG as the new AG,” said Dutt.

“Maharashtra Chief Minister speaks of good governance but his indecisiveness reflects lack of governance! If acting AG Rohit Deo only was to be made the AG, why the government had waited for 280 days?” he asked in another tweet.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 14:07 IST

‘Sahara-Birla’ papers: Why is PM shying away from independent probe, asks Sheila Dikshit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Toeing the party line, Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi wondering why he was shying away from an independent probe into the ‘Sahara-Birla’ papers relating to pay-offs, days after her comments questioning autheticity of the documents put Congress on the backfoot.The Congress’ CM candidate in Uttar Pradesh also debunked speculation that she was distancing herself from the campaigning in the poll-bound state in the wake of the controversy.”Why is @PMOIndia shying from an independent and a thorough probe into the #BirlaSaharaPapers?,” Dikshit tweeted.Dikshit, whose name allegedly figured in the ‘Sahara diaries’ along with many other politicians, had trashed it, putting party Vice President Rahul Gandhi in a tight spot as he had charged Modi with taking money from corporate houses based on the document.”I have said what I had to. The ball is in the court of the @PMOIndia & others now. Will he respond and come out clean? #SaharaBirlaDiaries (sic),” Dikshit said in another tweet.With BJP targeting it following Dikshit’s comments, Congress maintained that it wanted an independent and thorough probe into the “Sahara diaries” corruption issue.There was speculation that Dikshit may not remain Congress’ chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh following the controversy.Rejecting the speculations, Dikshit also junked reports that she has suspended her scheduled programmes in Aligarh.”I am amused to see ‘Sheila distances herself from UP’ speculation in media. Aligarh was not on my schedule. I will be in Barabanki tomorrow,” she said.The former Delhi Chief Minister’s name purportedly figured in the list that Congress had put out in a tweet two days back as proof of its allegations against Modi which upset her.On Sunday reacting strongly to the allegations, Dikshit had vehemently denied any wrongdoings calling the charges “all hearsay”. He had said the Supreme Court had already made observations on the diaries, comments that appeared similar to BJP’s argument in defending Modi.

Indus water dispute: Pakistan’s FM talks to World Bank chief, objects to pausing arbitration process

Islamabad: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called Pakistani Finance Minster Ishaq Dar on phone to discuss the Pakistan-India water dispute, an official said on Tuesday.

The phone call on Monday was in relation with the latest dispute concerning two hydroelectric power plants — Kishan­ganga and Ratle — that India is building on the Indus river system, Dawn online reported.

Dar earlier wrote to Kim requesting him to help settle the water dispute between the two neighbouring nations.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

He said that delaying arbitration would seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty which was signed in 1960.

The letter explained that Pakistan was not withdrawing its earlier request to the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration and since this process had already been “inordinately delayed”, Islamabad wanted the bank to appoint the chairman as soon as possible.

Pakistan believes that further delay would hurt the country’s interests as India was working on completing the two projects. Dar said that once the projects are completed, it will be difficult to undo them.

The treaty distributed the Indus basin rivers between the two countries, giving India control over the three eastern rivers of Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, while Pakistan has the three western rivers of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

The treaty empowers the World Bank to arbitrate any water dispute between India and Pakistan.

Last week, Kim in a letter to the Finance Ministers of India and Pakistan, said he had decided to “pause” the bank’s arbitration and urged the two neighbours to decide by the end of January how they wanted to settle the dispute.

Pakistan asked the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration while India demanded the appointment of a neutral expert.

Kim said he was “pausing” arbitration to protect the Indus Waters Treaty, which has successfully resolved previous disputes between the two neighbours.

Tension over the water dispute intensified in November when Prime Minister Narendra Modi post the Uri attack which claimed the lives of 19 soldiers, said: “Blood and water cannot flow at the same time.”

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 14:35 IST

Indus water dispute: Pakistan FM gets a call from World Bank President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim has called Pakistan Finance Minster Ishaq Dar to discuss the latter’s request to help settle the Indus water dispute, sources said.The development comes after the Pakistani Minister wrote a letter to Kim on December 23 urging him to move ahead with the appointment of a chairman of the Court of Arbitration, reports the Dawn.The letter written by Dar was in response to the World Bank President’s letter of December 12 and their decision to pause the process of empanelment of the Court of Arbitration.Dar, said in his letter, that this decision of the World Bank will seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960. The letter said that the matter of appointment of a chairman of the Court of Arbitration has been inordinately delayed.It urged the World Bank to execute its obligations under the Indus Waters Treaty. The Finance Minister noted that the pause proposed by the World Bank President will merely prevent Pakistan from approaching a competent forum and having its grievances addressed.Earlier this month, the World Bank asked both India and Pakistan to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements over the Indus Water Treaty Dispute 1960.The bank said it is temporarily halting the appointment of a neutral expert as requested by India, and the chairman of the Court of Arbitration, as requested by Pakistan, to resolve issues regarding two hydroelectric power plants under construction by India along the Indus Rivers system.

‘National Herald’ case: Subramanian Swamy loses battle for documents in court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A trial court on Monday dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s request for documents claiming it to be “nothing but a fishing enquiry which is not permitted under the law.” Metropolitan Magistrate Loveleen dismissed the application a year after Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were summoned to court in the National Herald case.The court added that by seeking the financial documents Swamy seemed to “enlarge the scope of the present proceedings.”The court observed that documents sought from the Income Tax department were not relevant to the proceedings and hence could not be ordered to be summoned. With respect to the documents sought from the Congress party—at least 10 types of documents, the court rejected the claim observing that Swamy had not yet submitted his list of witnesses in the case whom the BJP leader proposed to examine in the pre-charge stage.While requesting for documents Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), primarily to check the legality or otherwise of the loan taken from the Congress Party and to check whether the AJL was complying with the provisions of the Companies Act at the relevant time, Swamy used the terms ‘verify’, ‘see’, ‘investigate’. The court observed, that by using these terms, Swamy himself was “not aware of the contents of the said documents.”The court however, allowed Swamy a last opportunity to submit the list of his witnesses in this case and fixed the matter for February 10 to hear arguments on framing of the charges.In a complaint filed by Swamy, the BJP leader has alleged that Sonia, Rahul and others conspired to cheat and misappropriate funds. Swamy accused the Gandhis of misappropriating Congress party funds by paying Rs 50 lakh through which Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIPL) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore from Associate Journal Private Limited (AJPL). This, Swamy felt was fraudulent not only to the party donors but also to the State Exchequer by claiming tax exemptions.The defence led by senior advocates RS Cheema, and Rebecca John along with Ramesh Gupta among others argued that the complainant is under an obligation to file a list of witnesses and examine them before seeking documents. The defence further submitted that Swamy was trying to collect and prepare an archive of documents through the present application. The application was omnibus in nature and the documents sought to be summoned were neither relevant nor necessary.

Daman and Diu: Bombay HC orders UT to pay compensation to scribe who was handcuffed, paraded

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has directed the Union Territory of Daman and Diu to pay a compensation of Rs four lakh to a journalist who was handcuffed by the police and paraded on the streets after he was arrested on the charge of extortion in 2009.

“The Administration of the Union Territory has violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution by illegally handcuffing and parading him on 2 July, 2009,” said the High Court in its ruling on 22 December.

Bombay High Court. News18Bombay High Court. News18

Bombay High Court. News18

A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and AA Sayed directed the Union Territory to pay the compensation to Satish Sharma within two months. Sharma had moved the HC questioning police’s action of handcuffing and parading him. It was illegal and violated the right to personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution, he said.

Maintaining that he was an honest journalist and the whole episode had tarnished his reputation, Sharma demanded a compensation of Rs five crore.

The HC said that while it was ordering the administration to pay Sharma Rs four lakh, he was free to file another suit to demand additional compensation. The Administrator of the Union Territory can take steps for recovery of the compensation amount from the erring officers through a due process of law, the judges said.

The court also ordered the Union Territory to pay an additional Rs 25,000 to Sharma towards litigation cost. Further, the Administrator of the UT shall initiate inquiry for fixing the responsibility for the illegal action of police, the court said.

Sharma, editor of the daily Savera India Times, was arrested by the police in Daman after a case of extortion and criminal intimidation was filed against him.

He alleged it was a vindictive action as his newspaper had exposed misdeeds of the then Administrator of the Union Territory, other officials and the police. The Administrator had filed a police complaint against him.

Sharma was arrested in Diu, brought to Daman by police in a bus, and forced to walk while handcuffed to the police station through a crowded market, according to the petition.

The Press Council of India had ordered an inquiry by a sessions judge into Sharma’s allegations. The judge confirmed that he was indeed handcuffed and paraded by the police.

Advocate MK Kocharekar, petitioner’s lawyer, cited several Supreme Court decisions to argue that handcuffing was illegal and amounted to a gross violation of fundamental rights.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 20:49 IST

Jessica Lall case: AAP government to take a call on Manu Sharma’s parole

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the AAP government to decide in three days the parole plea of Manu Sharma, undergoing life term for killing model Jessica Lall in 1999. “The government of National Capital Territory of Delhi is directed to dispose of the application/representation of the petitioner (Sharma) within three days from the date of receipt of this order,” Justice Pratibha Rani said.The court said the order passed by the government should be communicated immediately to the petitioner and his counsel through the jail superintendent. The direction came on plea by Sharma, who sought three months’ parole to enable him appear for LLB second semester exams from December 31, attend his Personal Contact Programme and re-establish social ties.Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for Sharma, said three month was required as the convict has to appear before the Registrar in Chandigarh on January 19 next year for registration of his marriage. Sahni said the government has not yet taken any decision on the application since October this year.Additional Standing Counsel Sanjay Lao, appearing for the government, then said the application filed by the petitioner seeking parole shall be disposed of expeditiously. The court noted that the parole application was sent to the competent authority only on December 7, which has not yet been decided.The convict, who has been given parole six times since September 2009, has completed a post-graduate diploma in Human Rights and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s in Law course from Annamalai University, Chennai.Sharma, son of former Union Minister Venod Sharma, was awarded life imprisonment by the high court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lall in 1999. The trial court had acquitted him, but the Delhi High Court had reversed it and the Supreme Court had upheld the life sentence in April 2010. Lall was shot dead by Sharma after she had refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in South Delhi’s Mehrauli on the night of April 30, 1999.

National Herald case: After setback in Delhi Court, Swamy to move SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday said that he would file an appeal in the Supreme Court in connection with the National Herald case.Swamy’s assertion came after a Delhi Court dismissed his plea seeking documents from the Congress Party in connection with this case. “I will appeal to the Supreme Court on Patiala House Court’s order. The law is very clear that I am entitled to ask the court and summon the documents in possession of certain institutions,” he said.Rejecting Swamy’s plea, the Patiala House Court earlier in the day observed that the order was passed without giving any notice or opportunity of hearing to the opposite side. The court also directed Swamy to move the trial court again with a similar plea. Swamy alleged that the National Herald took lots of benefits from the then government.Swamy has accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi of allegedly conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs. 50 lakh through which Young Indian obtained the right to recover Rs. 90.25 crore that the Associated Journals Ltd owed to the grand old party. Besides the Congress president and her son, party leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian are accused in this case.The court has now put up the matter on February 10 for pre-charge proceedings.On Swamy’s plea, the trial court in its January 11 and March 11 orders had sought documents from Ministries of Finance and Urban Development, Department of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department and 2010-11 balance sheet of the Congress party in the case, which were submitted by the INC and AJL on April 8. However on July 12, Delhi High Court had set aside both the orders of the trial court saying they were passed in a “casual manner” and “without application of mind”.Swamy then filed a fresh application before the trial court seeking summoning of certain documents while the Congress leaders and AJL sought the return of documents including its balance sheet, which had been submitted in the court. In this application, Swamy had sought documents relating to a loan given by the Congress to the AJL, the holding firm of the National Herald, saying these were necessary for the purpose of trial.During the hearing on December 9, the counsel appearing for the accused had told the court that Swamy was seeking a “fishing and roving enquiry” in the case by calling for documents from the party and the AJL as he wanted to make out a “new case” against them. Swamy, however, had termed the allegation as baseless and said his demand was legitimate.The court had on June 26, 2014, summoned Sonia, Rahul, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda as accused in the case besides YI. It had on December 19, 2015, granted bail to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes and Dubey, who had appeared before it pursuant to summons. Pitroda was granted bail on February 20 when he had appeared in the court. Sonia, Rahul, Vora (AICC Treasurer), Fernandes (AICC General Secretary), Dubey and Pitroda were summoned for alleged offences under section 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

VVIP Chopper scam: Ex-Air Force Chief SP Tyagi gets bail, can’t leave Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal (retired) SP Tyagi in the AgustaWestland chopper scam case.The Court granted bail to Tyagi on a surety of Rs 2 lakh. However, the court directed him not to leave Delhi NCR and not to tamper with evidence.The judicial custody of Sanjeev Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan’s will continue as the court will hear the bail plea on January 4.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) counsel earlier on December 23 requested the court not to disclose evidences to anyone saying that if the evidence gathered will be disclose, there would be implication on future investigation.Commenting on the bail issued to all the three accused related to the scam, the investigating agency had said they are on pre-charge sheet stage and a very crucial time of investigation is going on.Counter attacking the CBI’s plea, SP Tyagi’s counsel said, “CBI isn’t showing or telling evidence against him and if he (SP Tyagi) tries to prove his innocence, they will accuse him of non-cooperation since he’s not incriminating himself.”Tyagi’s counsel hjad also alleged that CBI in the last four years has never been able to establish any evidence against ex-air chief regarding receipt of any bribe.Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief.He has, however, repeatedly denied the allegations.

Bribery case: Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat not to appear before CBI today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat who was summoned by the CBI on Monday in the alleged sting CD case will not appear before the investigation agency.The Uttarakhand High Court had set aside the Chief Minister’s plea seeking a stay on his appearance before the CBI.Rawat had made an oral plea before the bench to allow him for the time being, not to make an appearance before the CBI as a petition challenging the justification of the CBI probe into the alleged sting CD is already pending before the court.Setting aside the plea, the court decided that the next date of hearing would be January 7 as fixed earlier.The CBI had summoned Rawat earlier on December 23.It had registered the preliminary inquiry on April 29 to probe the video purportedly showing Rawat offering bribes to rebel Congress MLAs in exchange for their support in the assembly floor test.Rawat had dismissed the video as being faked after it was released by rebel Congress MLAs but later admitted that he was in the clip.The CBI had earlier summoned the chief minister on May 9, 2016 but he had sought more time.After Rawat’s victory in the floor test, the state cabinet on May 15 withdrew the notification recommending a CBI probe and decided to set up a special investigation team to go into the case.

Bengal turns communal tinderbox, thanks to CM Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal is slowly, but steadily, heading back to its gory past when Hindus and Muslims were at daggers drawn and communal clashes and riots were frequent.Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s blatant minority appeasement is not only causing acute heartburn among Hindus, but has also emboldened attacks against them at many places. These have been mostly unprovoked with the motive of driving away Hindus from their hearth and homes.Her administration has been playing the role of a passive onlooker and the state police have been venturing into riot-torn areas only after the damage is done.In the latest such riot that broke out in a village at Howrah’s Dhulagarh area last week, according to reports, a procession complete with loudspeakers blaring Hindi film music was taken out on 13 December to celebrate Eid-e-Milad (the birthday of Prophet Mohammed), which fell on 12 December, a public holiday. On 13 December, Hindus at Dhulagarh village were observing Margashirsha Purnima.Hindus requested that the volume be lowered since the music was interfering with some rituals. This incensed a section of those in the procession and they started attacking Hindu homes and shops. According to local people, the attackers were non-locals. Hindu houses and shops were looted and then set ablaze while, as the Zee News report says, police who reached the village were attacked by bombs and prevented from stopping the rioters.Locals and leaders of Hindu Samhati (a Hindu social organisation) claim the attack on Hindus at Dhulagarh, like many others are increasing with regularity all over Bengal and were pre-planned. “Why would people participating in a procession to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet carry sticks, choppers and other lethal weapons as well as bottles filled with acid (which they hurled at shops), kerosene and diesel (which were used to set Hindu houses and shops ablaze after they were looted) and country-made bombs (that were hurled at the police)? Why was the procession taken out a day after Eid-e-Milad? And why were non-locals in the procession?” asked Hindu Samhati leader Prashanta Sen.In October this year, communal riots broke out in 12 places all over the state over Durga Puja immersions and Muharram tazia processions. The seed was sown by Banerjee when she banned immersion of idols of Goddess Durga on Dashami on the ground that the immersion processions would coincide with Muharram processions. She wanted immersions to take place before 4 pm on the day of Dashami or two days after that.The Calcutta High Court came down heavily on this and said: “There has been a clear endeavour on the part of the state government to pamper and appease the minority section of the public at the cost of the majority section without there being any plausible justification… the state government has been irresponsibly brazen in its conduct of being partial to one community, thereby infringing on the fundamental rights of people worshipping Ma Durga.” The High Court also warned the state that it would be dangerous to mix politics with religion.But by the time the Calcutta High Court delivered its stinging criticism, the damage had already been done. The state government’s restrictions ignited anger among the Hindus of the state and triggered tension between the two communities. This ignited into full-scale riots when those in the Muharram processions attacked the Durga immersion processions.“At all the places, the immersion processions or Durga Puja mandaps were attacked by those taking part in the Muharram processions. And there seemed to be a clear intention to create trouble. Some mischief makers burst a firecracker in the midst of a Muharram procession at Malda and shouted that the procession had been attacked with bombs. In no time, swords, daggers, choppers and lathis came out and Hindu homes, shops and temples were attacked. It was pre-planned,” a state home department officer who did not want to be named said.Hindus were angry because of unreasonable restrictions on Durga Puja immersions, and also over other such anti-Hindu and pro-minority actions of the government. For four years, her government has been denying permission to 300 Hindu families of a village in the state’s Birbhum district to organise a Durga Puja because 25 families would be offended.In 2012, she started giving monthly stipends of Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 to imams and muezzins of the 32,000-odd mosques in the state. This is perceived as blatant minority appeasement. She has also allowed hardline Muslim organisations a free hand. The hanging of 1971 war criminals in Bangladesh triggered massive protests in Kolkata and rallies calling for Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina’s death.Last month, a massive rally that brought Kolkata to a halt demanded a steep hike in the stipends to the imams and muezzins to Rs 20,000 and Rs 10,000 per month respectively. A few months ago, another massive protest rally against preacher Zakir Naik brought the city to its knees. Another against the Uniform Civil Code (the biggest such in the country till date) was held last month in Kolkata. Kolkata is emerging as the hub of hardline Muslim activism.West Bengal has also become a safe haven for Islamists hounded out of Bangladesh. “Hundreds of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists accused of heinous crimes like killings of secularists and bloggers have taken shelter in West Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee administration has turned a blind eye to their presence. The Khagragarh blast was an eye-opener. Many such Bangladeshi criminals and terrorists sheltered in West Bengal have been planning attacks on targets in Bangladesh,” said a Central Intelligence Officer.The fallout is steady Hindu-Muslim polarisation. “This polarisation has been triggered by what Hindus perceive is the blatant appeasement of minorities… anger has reached tipping point,” warns sociologist Dibyajyoti Goswami.West Bengal is no stranger to communal riots: more than 5,000 were killed and tens of thousands displaced in the Calcutta riots of 1946. The 1964 riots were a reaction to the pogrom against Hindus in erstwhile East Pakistan, the 1992 riots, the 2013 riots in Canning, and many more.Whatever be the failing of the erstwhile Left Front government, the lid was kept firmly on communal tensions.This article is reprinted with permission from Swarajya magazine.

New Delhi: Court acquits two men of charges of waging war against country

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A city court has acquitted two persons of charges of waging war against the country in an over ten-year-old case registered by Delhi Police which had claimed that they were members of a banned militant outfit.Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh absolved Bihar residents, Irshad Ali and Maurif Qamar, who were allegedly picked up by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in 2005.The case was later transferred to CBI following directions of the Delhi High Court. After probing the matter, CBI had filed a closure report in the case claiming that the two men were informers of the special cell and Intelligence Bureau.According to the FIR, the police apprehended Ali and Qamar from Mukarba Chowk bus stand in north west Delhi on February 9, 2006. It was alleged that both were members of banned outfit Al-Badr and were carrying arms and ammunition including pistols, live cartridges and detonators.Thereafter, an FIR under section including 121 (waging war against Government of India) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC, and under several provisions of the Explosive Substance Act and the Arms Act was registered.The accused, however, approached the high court and sought a CBI inquiry in the case alleging that both were illegally picked up by Delhi Police in December 2005 from the city and that they were the informers of the agency’s special cell and Intelligence Bureau, advocate Sufian Siddiqui, the counsel for the accused, said.The high court directed a CBI probe in the matter and the agency filed a closure report.The trial court, however, rejected the CBI’s report against which the accused again approached the high court. The high court asked the city court to consider CBI’s report.The special cell, however, had approached the Supreme Court against the high court order. The apex court in December 2012 directed the trial court to take the call and, if needed, ask the agency for re investigation in the matter.The trial court then ordered framing of charges without considering CBI’s closure report, the counsel said.The accused again approached the high court challenging the city court order for trial in the case. Thereafter, the high court again asked the trial court to consider all the aspects before passing the order which has now resulted into the acquittal of the accused. The accused were on bail since July 2009.

Maha govt tells Bombay HC it will fill up AG post by Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Putting an end to the controversy surrounding the appointment of a new Advocate General, the Maharashtra Government told the Bombay High Court that it would fill up the coveted post by December 30.The post of Advocate General has been lying vacant since March this year after Srihari Aney resigned as AG. In his place, Rohit Deo was appointed as acting AG and he continues to represent the government in high court in this capacity.Deo today informed a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka that the state government would take a decision on the appointment of AG by December 30. Taking the statement of Government on record, the bench deferred it to January 9 next year a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt seeking appointment of a new Advocate General. The High Court had pulled up the state government early this month for its failure to appoint the Advocate General and had set a deadline of December 23 for the state to inform when it would fill up the coveted post. Today, the government said it would fill up this post by December 30 this year.Neeraj Dhote, legal adviser and joint secretary, law and judiciary department, had filed an affidavit on December 8 assuring the court that “the state would appoint AG in accordance with the provisions contained in Article 165 of the Constitution of India, by the end of December 2016.” The bench had earlier remarked “it is high time that the government appointed a new Advocate General to represent the state. Many constitutional and statutory functions (of the government) are suffering due to the non-appointment of AG and it affects the cause of justice as well as the public.” Seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to appoint a regular Advocate General in place of the current acting Advocate General, Dutt’s petition submitted that the post of ‘acting Advocate General’ was unconstitutional. It demanded that the appointment of Advocate General should be made only as per the provisions of Article 165 of the Constitution.Dutt clarified that he was not questioning the integrity and professional capability of acting Deo, but said he wanted a direction to the state government to follow the constitutional provisions.Deo was functioning as an acting AG since March, while under the Constitution no post of ‘acting AG’ exists, he submitted.Dutt had also raised the issue in the state Legislature earlier, the petition said.Deo was appointed as acting AG after previous Advocate General Srihari Aney was forced to resign. Aney’s open support for separate Vidarbha had incurred him the wrath of political parties, including the ruling ally Shiv Sena, which are opposed to the idea of statehood for the region.

Delhi HC allows Ajay Chautala to attend son Dushyant’s marriage functions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>INLD leader Ajay Chautala, who is serving a 10-year jail term in a teachers’ recruitment scam case, was today allowed by the Delhi High Court to attend the marriage function of his son and MP Dushyant Chautala.The leader, who was on parole since November 28 and was restrained from moving out of the national capital, has sought modification of the order, saying he be allowed to attend his son’s ‘roka’ ceremony at Sirsa in Haryana on December 25. The application came up for hearing before Justice Vipin Sanghi who allowed the leader’s plea to attend two ceremonies to be held at different locations in Sirsa and Gurgaon.Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for the convict, said the ‘ring’ ceremony was scheduled on January 3 next year and sought permission to the petitioner to leave the territory of Delhi to “enable him to attend and perform the customs on both the dates”.Allowing the plea, the court asked the leader to surrender before the jail authorities on January 5 next year, the date already fixed. On November 28, the court had granted a month’s parole to Ajay for maintaining “social ties” but restrained him from taking part in political activities. The court had restricted Ajay’s movement while directing him not to leave Delhi without permission from the authorities concerned.The Supreme Court on August 3 last year had dismissed the appeals of Ajay and his father O P Chautala challenging the high court’s verdict upholding their conviction and sentence of 10 years awarded by a trial court in the junior basic trained (JBT) teachers recruitment scam case.The high court had on March 5, 2015, upheld the 10-year jail term awarded to Chautalas and three others, saying, “The overwhelming evidence showed the shocking and spine-chilling state of affairs in the country.”The father-son duo and 53 others, including two IAS officers, were among 55 persons convicted on January 16, 2013 by the trial court for illegally recruiting 3,206 JBT teachers in Haryana in 2000.

SC dismisses plea challenging Justice Khehar’s Appointment as next CJI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the plea filed by a lawyers? body seeking not to make Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India.A bench of the Apex Court headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and also comprising Justice L Nageswar Rao, while dismissing the plea, said that the plea was ‘infructuous’ after the notification was issued by President Pranab Mukherjee on December 19th.The lawyers’ body- National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms- had moved the apex court seeking a stay on the appointment of next CJI, Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar.In a civil writ petition filed in the Supreme Court, the lawyers’ organisation have stated that Justice J Chelameshwar, who is senior to Justice Khehar, be appointed as the 44th CJI.The NCJTR’s petition before the apex court lays down their disagreement with Justice Khehar’s appointment and suggests Justice Chelameshwar as an alternative.The petition also argues that Khehar is harsh on the smallest of mistakes by lawyers and openly favors high-profile lawyers.

Sixteen years since LeT attacked Red Fort: All you need to know about the terror attack

From Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic “At the stroke of midnight” speech on India’s independence day in 1947 to Narendra Modi‘s fiery “India will not bow before terrorism” address, Delhi’s Red Fort has always been witness to the greatest moments in Indian history. It has borne the marks of time and watched centuries of change sweep through the country.

But 16 years ago, it was on this day that the premises of the majestic fort were shaken up by gunshots, as Lashkar-e-Taiba militants shelled the military shelter inside the fort, killing two soldiers and one civilian.

The historic Red Fort is pictured in the old quarters of Delhi, India. Reuters

The historic Red Fort in the old quarters of Delhi, India. Reuters

The assault and the conspiracy

On a winter evening on 22 December, 2000, LeT militants sneaked into the Red Fort on the pretext of watching the light-and-sound show that retells the tale of the historic structure. According to a report in The Hindusix militants, with their arms hidden under leather jackets, entered the Red Fort around 7 pm through the Lahore Gate, the main entrance to the historic structure. They headed to watch the show scheduled for 7:30 pm. However, they later sneaked into the military shelters under the cover of darkness and fog.

According to another report in The Times of India, around 9 pm, the militants started firing indiscriminately on the guards of seventh battalion of Rajputana Rifles, killing two soldiers and a civilian guard. The militants then escaped through the Fort’s rear wall.

According to the report, the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan and funded by top LeT operatives. The report further states that funds were transferred to terrorists through a Delhi-based hawala account operator, who was later nabbed by the Delhi police.

The Hindu report states that the prime accused, Ashfaq Ahmed, set up his base in India and opened a computer centre in Gaffur market as a cover for his activities. He then contacted five other terrorists — Abu Samal, Abu Sadd, Abu Sakhar, Billal and Haider, and set them up at a rented house in Delhi’s Batla House area. The terrorists did a recce of the Red Fort, it being a prominent tourist spot.

Ashfaq was later nabbed by the Delhi police based on some notes recovered from behind the Red Fort, according to the report.

The militants, the report states, had come to India on the behest of Pakistan’s intelligence wing ISI in 2000. The prime accused Ashfaq Ahmed, lodged at Tihar jail since 2000, came to India and married Rehmana Yousuf Farooqui, a girl of Indian origin. Rehmana was also arrested as she was reportedly in full knowledge of Ashfaq’s plan and assisted him. Another militant was later killed in an encounter on 26 December.

The legal battle

The Delhi police, after conducting an enquiry in the matter, finally filed a chargesheet against Ashfaq and 21 others in February 2001. However, the special sessions court hearing the matter framed charges only against 11, including Ashfaq and Rehmana, according to a report in Hindustan Times. The court sentenced Ashfaq to death, while his four accomplices, including his wife, were give seven years in prison. Two more militants convicted in the case were given a life term.

Ashfaq later approached the Delhi High Court against the verdict. The high court, however, upheld the lower court’s verdict and ruled that life sentences should be awarded to Ashfaq for waging a war against the country and murdering three people.

In a rare move, the Supreme Court put Ashfaq’s death sentence on hold in April 2014, according to Live Mint. Ashfaq appealed in the apex court that he has already served 13 years in prison, and the death sentence awarded to him would therefore be akin to a double punishment for one crime. He also petitioned that he had been suffering mentally and physically due to the long delays in judicial proceedings.

The apex court’s move was deemed rare as it had, in August 2011, upheld the sentence awarded by the sessions court and termed the attack on Red Fort as a “brazen and arrogant assault to overawe India”.

However, the Supreme Court in January 2016, took cognisance of Ashfaq’s appeal and has admitted his plea for a hearing. The Constitutional bench led by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, hearing the matter, emphasised the finality of the death sentence and agreed to an open court hearing on why his punishment should be reversed, according to a report in The Indian Express.

As of now, Ashfaq is lodged at Tihar, and is awaiting the Supreme Court’s order on his fate.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 21:04 IST

Ex-coal secretary HC Gupta, others put on trial in coal scam case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Coal Secretary HC Gupta, facing prosecution in coal scam cases, was on Thursday put on trial by a special court along with four others including two public servants for alleged offences of cheating and criminal conspiracy in the JICPL case.Besides Gupta, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar also framed charges against senior public servants K S Kropha and K C Samria, JAS Infrastructure Capital Pvt Ltd (JICPL) and its Director Manoj Kumar Jayaswal for the alleged irregularities in the allotment of ‘Mahuagarhi Coal Block’ in Jharkhand to a private firm.After the charges were framed, the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial in the case.The court has put up the matter for further hearing on April 17, 2017.While ordering to put the accused on trial, the court had on December 7, said, “The facts of the present case prima facie show that accused H C Gupta, K S Kropha and K C Samria entered into a criminal conspiracy with company M/s JICPL and its director Manoj Kumar Jayaswal so as to procure allotment of a coal block in favour of M/s JICPL”.”The acts alleged against the accused public servants Gupta, Kropha and Samria are such that if questioned they cannot claim that they were acting in discharge of their official duties,” the court had said.In a surprising move, the former Coal Secretary had on August 16, told the court that he intended to “face trial from inside the jail” and withdraw his personal bond to secure bail due to financial issues. However, he later withdrew his plea.The court said prima facie charges for alleged offences under sections 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act are made out against the accused. Around eight different charge sheets have been filed against Gupta and proceedings are going on individually. The Supreme Court had recently dismissed his plea seeking joint trial in all these cases.Some of the cases in which Gupta was summoned as accused by the court include those relating to alleged irregularities in allocation of Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block to accused firm Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) and allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal’s Raniganj area to Vikash Metal and Power Ltd.He is also accused in a case of alleged irregularities in the allotment of the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to two companies of Jindal group and allocation of Brahmapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to accused firm Pushp Steels and Mining Pvt Ltd (PSMPL).The court had on July 31 last year issued summons to the accused after taking cognisance of CBI’s final report. The court had earlier refused to accept the probe agency’s closure report filed in the case and had directed it to further investigate the matter.It had noted that it was prima facie clear that officers of the Ministry of Coal or the screening committee had acted in a manner which was “detrimental” to public interest and they had allowed JAS Infrastructure and Power Ltd (JIPL), now known as JICPL, to “misappropriate” nationalised natural resources.The agency had earlier filed a closure report in the case in which it had lodged an FIR against the firm, Jayaswal and others for alleged irregularities by JIPL in acquiring the coal block.The FIR was lodged on the allegation that the company had not disclosed to the Ministry of Coal that it was already in possession of a coal block.

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

Ex-IAF chief Tyagi sent to judicial custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Submitting that the investigation was at a crucial stage and more than two lakh records needed to be perused, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sought time till Friday to present his arguments opposing former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi’s bail. Mehta further added that from what he had already read, a serious case was emerging in the pre-chargesheet stage.The former ACM, his cousin Sanjeev aka Julie, and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who were arrested in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper scam, were remanded to judicial custody till December 30 on Saturday.However, despite the CBI’s reluctance to continue the trial, special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar at the Patiala House court allowed the defence counsels to present their arguments for bail. Over the course of the afternoon, the defence team made its arguments in front of a full court.Right off the bat, Menaka Guruswamy, representing the former air chief, submitted that given the chargesheet was supposed to be filed sometime this year, the CBI was inconsistent in its statements, and her client was languishing in jail over an unwarranted arrest.Guruswamy stressed that the charges were economic in nature, the documents had already been investigated by the CBI. She claimed that the only charge against her client was vague, and that the CBI had based their allegations on the judgment from an Italian court of appeals. Incidentally, the Italian Supreme Court accepted the plea and ordered a re-trial of Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, who were convicted for bribing Indian government officials for a 560 million Euro deal involving the sale of 12 helicopters.Pleading for release, Guruswamy informed the court that, “All evidence in the nature of bank and account statements which are documentary, have been seized by the CBI. My client’s bank accounts have been frozen by the CBI. He has never evaded summons of the CBI, nor has the agency alleged non-cooperation.” Alleging that there is no more evidence to be given by SP Tyagi, she concluded her submission by saying “Please let me go home.”Tyagi’s counsel also acknowledged the veterans who had come to support Tyagi, Guruswamy said “Colleagues have come for each of the hearings and they have also signed a petition expressing their anguish and demanded his (SP Tyagi’s) release.”PK Dubey, representing Khaitan, similarly sought for compassion for his client.In his defence, Manav Gupta, Julie Tyagi’s lawyer, attempted to prove that CBI’s claim stating that the money his client got was the only consultancy fee he had ever received was wrong. “I will prove that there are at least 16 other clients over the years who have paid me more money than the Italian national as consultancy fees,” Gupta submitted for Julie.Despite what can only be perceived as stalling tactics by the CBI, support for ACM Tyagi has increased. An online petition, that includes an open letter to the prime minister and also demanding Tyagi’s release, has already garnered more than 1500 signatories in 24 hours. Many among the veteran community believe that Tyagi is a fall guy, a scape goat, and also perhaps a political diversion for reasons best known to the government. “The current procedures are so complicated and cumbersome that it is all but impossible for ACM Tyagi to have influenced any kind of deal,” a veteran said. “Deals of these kinds are hardly ever done by sitting high-level officers and it is often carried out by the bureaucracy,” he added.

PM Modi should follow Advani’s lead and resign: Kejriwal after Rahul’s Sahara-Birla bribe allegations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi step down till his name is cleared of alleged charges of graft and sought a probe into the allegations by a Supreme Court monitored committee. The Supreme Court should take “suo motu” cognizance of the matter, Kejriwal told a press conference here, hours after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi alleged that Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had taken money from Sahara and Birla groups.Kejriwal, who had levelled similar charges against Modi in November in the Delhi Assembly, said the Congress was only “following” the Aam Aadmi Party in this regard and also in terming demonetization as a “scam”.”The Prime Minister should resign till his name is cleared of the charges. The matter should be probed by a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team. Agencies like CBI are in any case controlled by Modi and Amit Shah,” Kejriwal said.The AAP chief said BJP patriarch LK Advani had set the “right example” by quitting when his name had surfaced in the Hawala scam.”Narendra Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister whose name has cropped up in raw print. This is a very grave matter but it is being suppressed and has been suppressed over the last two years by attaching officers of their convenience to the case,” he said.Kejriwal wondered why the PM was “evading a probe” if he was innocent. The country has been “cheated against”, he said.The Delhi Chief Minister said he will send the “Income Tax appraisal reports” in this regard to Prashant Bhushan who has filed a petition in the Supreme Court. These documents have not yet been submitted in the Court, Kejriwal said, displaying few voluminous reports.”We had raised the same issue on November 15 in the Delhi Assembly.It is good that whatever we are doing the Congress is following. We had termed demonetization a scam, then a month later Rahul said the same thing and today he finally mustered the courage to raise this issue,” he said.Kejriwal also sought to know the reason behind Rahul’s delay in making the allegations after promising an announcement. “Was he trying to strike a bargain? Congress and BJP have setting. In fact, all the leaders who figure in the papers should be probed,” Kejriwal said. The Left parties today demanded a thorough probe into Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s allegations that Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had taken money from Sahara and Birla groups. Targeting Modi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the “personal-political corruption” charges against the Prime Minister while he delivers “sermons” on combating black money and corruption is his “trademark hypocrisy”.”Sahara Diaries and the allegations against Modi, when he was Gujarat CM, are very serious and must be investigated,” he said.”Whether Vyapam, Lalit Modi, GSPC or now Sahara Diaries, they reveal the sleazy, crony capitalism of BJP state govts.Thorough probe needed (sic),” he tweeted.CPI too demanded high-level probe into Gandhi’s allegation.”It’s a case which deserves high-level probe so that people get to know the truth,” CPI national secretary D Raja said in Hyderabad where the party is at present holding its three-day national council meeting.Earlier in the day, the Congress vice president alleged that Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had taken money from Sahara and Birla groups and demanded an independent inquiry into it.Addressing a rally in Mehsana in the Prime Minister’s home state, he alleged that in the I-T records there are notings of Sahara officials’ claims that they had paid nine times to Modi between October, 2013 and February, 2014.Similarly, as per documents with Income Tax department, the Birla group also paid Rs 12 crore to Modi when he was Chief Minister, Gandhi added.

Modi-Sahara bribery allegations: SC yet to probe documents, says Prashant Bhushan

New Delhi: Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who has filed a petition in the apex court demanding a probe into bribery allegations against Narendra Modi from the time he was Gujarat chief minister, said the court has not yet examined many documents.

Prashant Bhushan. PTI file imagePrashant Bhushan. PTI file image

Prashant Bhushan. PTI file image

Rejecting the corruption charges levelled by Congress vice-president against Prime Minister Modi as “baseless, shameful, and mala fide”, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had said “even the Supreme Court has observed that these are no allegations”.

Reacting to these remarks, Bhushan said he has procured more documents following the the apex court observations to come up with “better material” to support the allegations.

“The douments recovered by the Income Tax department are a part of its appraisal report. The Supreme Court has not seen many documents presented by us. There are more documents that we have got subsequently,” Bhushan said.

Bhushan has filed a PIL in the apex court seeking a probe by an SIT into alleged recovery of documents by the IT department in connection with raids on two business houses here in 2013-14 which purportedly showed computerised inventories containing designations of top people allegedly having received money.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 20:58 IST

Sasikala vs Sasikala: AIADMK files a petition to quash former MP’s petition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK filed a petition in the Madras High Court on Wednesday seeking quashing of the plea by expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa and her husband to restrain the ruling party from appointing former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala as party General Secretary. The petition was filed by AIADMK Presidium Chairman E Madhusudanan.Justice K Kalyanasundaram adjourned the case to December 23 and directed Rajya Sabha member Sasikala Pushpa and her husband Lingeswara Thilagan to file their counter in the matter. Sasikala Pushpa and her husband had on December 16 filed the plea seeking an interim injunction from the court from appointing Sasikala against the backdrop of a chorus by partymen in her support for the top party post.Referring to reports in the media that “few party members” wanted Sasikala, called “Chinnamma” by her party people, to assume the top party post, the counsel for the MP submitted that the primary eligibility to contest the election for the General Secretary is that the contestant must have been a primary member of the party continuously for five years as per the AIADMK bye-laws.Sasikala was expelled from the party by the then General Secretary Jayalalithaa in December 2011. It was only in March 2012 that she was again given the primary membership. So far, she has not completed the mandated five years, and hence, was ineligible to contest, counsel for Sasikala Pushpa had contended on December 16. KM Vijayan, counsel for the MP, had submitted that AIADMK bye-law under Section 20 (2) says that the General Secretary should be selected by all the primary members of all party units. He further submitted that AIADMK proposed to amend the party bye-laws to facilitate appointment of Sasikala as General Secretary.Assuming the rule of “continuous five-year membership” was amended, still the “basic structure” for selection of the General Secretary by all primary members of all party units cannot be amended, he said. Also, as per the Societies Registration Act, a minimum of 21 days notice has to be served on the members for attending the General Council, the counsel said.AIADMK counsel B Kumar had then submitted that Sasikala Pushpa was expelled from the party on August 1 this year. “She has not challenged her expulsion. She has no locus standi to comment about the activities of AIADMK.” He had said AIADMK, a recognised political party by the Election Commission, was not registered under the Societies Registration Act. AIADMK was registered as a political party under Representation of the People (RP) Act with the EC, he had submitted.

Sheena Bora murder: CBI court reserves order on Indrani Mukherjea’s bail plea

Mumbai: A special CBI court on Wednesday reserved its order on the interim bail sought by Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, to conduct post-death rituals of her father.

The CBI on Wednesday opposed her visit to Assam to conduct rituals of her father, Upendra Kumar Bora, who died there on 15 December.

In its reply to the court, the CBI also annexed an e-mail written by Indrani’s son Mikhail to the agency saying that he doesn’t want her to visit Guwahati.

Mikhail, an important witness in the case, has said that his grandfather had been bed-ridden since the last one year and he had been looking after both his grandparents for the last three years without any financial and mental support from Indrani.

He has said that his grandparents had legally adopted him as their son and he has already commenced the funeral rituals.

File image of Indrani Mukerjea. News 18

File image of Indrani Mukerjea. News 18

“Indrani has been accused of murdering my elder sister Sheena Bora and ruining my family. Therefore, it is my utmost plea to you sir that I don’t want Indrani to come to Guwahati and visit me as this will create chaos and unnecessary disturbance in my life due to media and other persons, and will hamper commencing post-death rituals of my grandfather,” Mikhail said in the mail to CBI.

In its reply to the court, the central agency has said that Indrani has filed the application in order to move out of jail and with intention to influence prosecution witness as the trial is to commence shortly.

It also said that safety and security of Indrani is required to be looked into with regard to the proposed journey to Guwahati. “There is always a possibility that she may escape from the custody,” the CBI said.

It has also said that Indrani’s mother Durga Rani died on 1 October last year, but Indrani mentioned in her plea thatshe died in November and this doesn’t reflect Indrani’s closeness with her parents.

Special public prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil told the court that the funeral was already over and Mikhail has conducted the rituals.

“The Brahman bhojan (ritual) is kept on 27 December, while priests can be called in jail and all the rituals can be performed in the prison itself,” Badami told the court.

However, Indrani’s lawyer requested the court that if not Guwahati, she must be allowed to do the rituals in Nashik, Haridwar or Mumbai itself.

“Indrani wants to mourn. When her mother passed away she was not told about it. She needs to observe mourning, perform Sharad and offer food to Bhramins,” her lawyer said.

The court is likely to pass order on her bail application tomorrow. The court is at present hearing arguments on framing of charges.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:57 IST

JNU missing student case: Police concludes campus search, to quiz Nejeeb’s roommate

New Delhi: Delhi Police on Tuesday concluded its massive search in JNU campus without any success and will be conducting a lie-detector test on Najeeb Ahmed’s roommate Mohd Qasim on Wednesday as it stepped up efforts to get clues regarding the mysterious disappearance of the student since 15 October.

Police have so far served notices to six people, including family members of Najeeb as well as the students with whom he was allegedly involved in a brawl at his hostel a night before he vanished, said a senior police officer.

Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

The police, represented by senior standing counsel for Delhi government Rahul Mehra, had told Delhi High Court that four students, who are suspected of beating up Najeeb, would be put to lie-detector tests to get leads or clues about his disappearance and whereabouts.

“We have served notices to six people and after their consent, we will be carrying out the tests. Qasim gave his consent and he will be put to a lie-detector test tomorrow (Wednesday),” said the officer.

Many of the students have gone to their homes for vacations, which is hindering investigation, he said. Meanwhile, more than 600 Delhi Police personnel assisted by sniffer dogs concluded their search of the sprawling JNU campus but could not find any clues of the missing student.

Police team began its search around 9 AM today under the supervision of DCP (Crime Branch) G Ram Gopal Naik and finished by 3 PM. The search had begun yesterday and almost 60-70 percent of the campus was covered while the remaining campus was scanned on Tuesday.

All agencies of Delhi Police including Special Cell, Special Branch and the local police, pooling more than 600 personnel scanned the interiors and residential areas, the official said.

Najeeb has been missing since October 15 after an alleged scuffle at his hostel with ABVP students on the night of 14 October. A reward of Rs 10 lakh has been announced by Delhi Police on any information about Najeeb.

The massive search was mounted following a Delhi High Court order last week directing the police to scan the entire JNU campus including hostels, classrooms as well as rooftops of the buildings with help of sniffer dogs.

After scanning the campus, the police is likely to ask JNU administration to beef up its security.

“We have observed that the forest area is quite dense and students go there even late in the night. We will request JNU authorities to increase security inside the campus for the safety of students,” said an officer.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 21:54 IST

Delhi HC to hear Arvind Kejriwal’s plea on Feb 16 in defamation case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court on Tuesday decided to hear Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea seeking quashing of a defamation complaint filed against him by former Union Minister Kapil Sibal’s lawyer son Amit Sibal in February.Kejriwal’s counsel referred to the November 17 order of the Supreme Court, which had remanded the matter back to the Delhi High Court asking it to decide on the plea, and told Justice I S Mehta that the high court would now have to hear the matter on merits.”Now the high court will have to hear the matter on merits and decide the issue,” Kejriwal’s counsel said after which the court directed that the matter be listed for hearing on February 16 next year. The counsel also informed the court that trial in the matter was going on before the trial court.The apex court, while remanding back the matter to the high court to decide the plea of Kejriwal and others seeking discharge in the case, had made it clear that the trial court proceedings in the defamation complaint would continue.The clarification regarding continuance of the trial court proceedings was made when Sibal’s lawyer had expressed apprehension that Kejriwal and others may use the order for remanding the case back to the high court to seek a stay on the pending proceedings before the Patiala House courts in New Delhi.Amit Sibal had filed the defamation complaint against Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan for alleging conflict of interest on his part.The high court had in its order on January 16, 2014 asked the trial court to consider the pleas of Kejriwal and others seeking discharge from the defamation case. It had also refused to quash the defamation proceedings against them.Kejriwal had held a press conference on May 15, 2013, alleging conflict of interest on part of Sibal, saying he had appeared in the court for a telecom firm when his father was the communications minister. Following the accusation, Amit Sibal had filed the defamation complaint. The trial court had then issued summonses to them on July 24, 2013.

Madras HC’s order declaring Sharia courts illegal is a start; Supreme Court must follow suit

The Madras High Court order of 19 December that declared Sharia courts functioning from mosques across Tamil Nadu as illegal is of far-reaching consequences. The court said, “If a place of worship — whether it be temple, mosque or church — is used for purposes other than prayers, and more specifically to create extra-constitutional forums, certainly the authorities are duty-bound to take action against them.” The order, delivered by a bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar, shows a ray of hope for the Indian republic because India has recently seen the birth of parallel courts being run by Islamic groups — many of them funded by Saudi money.

This might also be the first time that the higher judiciary has made it clear that “extra-constitutional forums” like Sharia courts are illegal and unacceptable. The order came on a petition challenging the extra-constitutional role of Chennai-based Makka Masjid Shariat Council, which has been engaged in administering justice in Muslim family disputes. The high court order also clarifies that mosques, churches and temples can only be used as a place of worship — a point with which no religious group should have any disagreement. The order is not specific to Muslims and empowers police and administrative officials in Tamil Nadu to close down any extra-constitutional court whether run by Muslims, Christians or Hindus.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

However, it is not clear if the 19 December order applies only to those Sharia courts that function from mosques, or also to those which operate from madrassas and non-religious places. A large number of Sharia courts — managed by imams (prayer leaders) and Islamic scholars associated with mosques, madrassas and religious organisations — operate from places that are not mosques. Therefore, there will be a need for further legal clarification on this subject. Otherwise, these Sharia courts in Tamil Nadu will simply move away from the mosques to non-religious places in order to skirt the high court order.

In July 2014, the Supreme Court of India had declared that the Sharia courts run by Islamic clerics have no legal basis, and their orders are not binding and can be challenged in a court of law. The Supreme Court order effectively meant that government officials and police officers are free to close down extra-constitutional institutions like Sharia courts. However, the Madras High Court order is clear in that it makes the operation of Sharia courts illegal. But this order applies on to the state of Tamil Nadu. Ultimately, the Supreme Court too will need to deliver such a clear judgment that outlaws parallel courts across the country.

As the world is witnessing the rise of jihadi groups worldwide, India too has seen the emergence of radicalisation among Muslim youths in favour of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. India is at present surrounded by two countries where jihadi forces are strong: Bangladesh and Pakistan. Within India, a number of new Islamic organisations and NGOs are being formed whose funding comes from Saudi Arabia and other West Asian countries. Between 2011 and 2014, around 25,000 Wahhabi preachers reportedly visited India.To counter jihadism, both courts and government officials in India need to have a clear thinking that the modern Indian State cannot allow a parallel legal system to continue to function in the country.

In this context, it is a matter of concern that a number of Islamic clerics and religious organisations are running Sharia courts across the country. Such courts are known by many names such as Dar-ul-Qaza (House of Justice) and Dar-ul-Ifta (House of Fatwas). They deliver fatwas that are supposed to be juristic opinions but carry more weight than the law. Almost all major religious groups, mosques and madrassas such as Darul Uloom Deoband run such parallel Sharia courts.

Two Islamist organisations engaged in running aparallel Sharia-based legal system are prominent: the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan (BMMA), both of which run Sharia courts. While the role of AIMPLB in running Sharia courts and promoting an orthodox version of Islam across India is well known, the BMMA has got some legitimacy in the press for the reason that it is opposed to the practice of instant triple talaq. Due to this, BMMA is seen as a legitimate organisation by women’s rights groups but for all practical purposes, it is a Sharia group out to promote the same religious orthodoxies that its male counterparts in the AIMPLB do. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan announced last July that it is training 30 women judges in Quranic law.

India is a hugely diverse country that was divided in 1947 in the name of religion, not by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is to the credit of the framers of the Indian Constitution that they did not come under the influence of the communal nature of the Partition, and despite the Muslim-Hindu bloodshed that was raging at the time, delivered an authentic secular Constitution to the people of India. The Madras High Court order reminds us that Indians must not accept parallel courts and religious organisations like the AIMPLB and the BMMA which ultimately sow the seeds of partition from the country’s mainstream.

The author is a former BBC journalist and is presently executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He tweets @tufailelif

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:55 IST

Supreme Court to examine whether courts can add ‘rigorous’ to life terms

New Delhi: Can the word ‘rigorous’ be added by courts when they award life imprisonment? The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question whether courts are statutorily empowered to make life imprisonments tougher for the convicts by adding “rigorous” (harsh) to life sentence as the law does not provide for this. A bench headed by Justice PC Ghose considered a submission which said that neither the penal provision dealing with the offence of murder, nor the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provide that the term “rigorous” can be added by courts while awarding life sentence to convicts.

Supreme Court Of India. AFPSupreme Court Of India. AFP

Supreme Court Of India. AFP

“Let notice be issued in the matter limited to the question whether life imprisonment could be coupled with the condition that such imprisonment has to be rigorous imprisonment, returnable after four weeks,” the bench, also comprising Justice UU Lalit, said.

Senior advocate Parmanand Katara, appearing for convict Ram Kumar Sivare, who has been awarded rigorous life term in a murder case, has contended that the judgement pronounced by the courts below was “unconstitutional and ultra-vires” as penal and procedural laws do not empower them to qualify the life sentence with the term “rigorous”.

“The award of rigorous life imprisonment by the lower court and the Chattisgarh High Court is violative of Article 21 (protection of life and liberty) and 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution,” the lawyer said. The apex court was hearing the appeal filed by Sivare, who is serving rigorous life term at a Chattisgarh jail, challenging the High Court verdict in a murder case.

The High Court had upheld the trial court judgement convicting and awarding life term to Sivare and Bhuneshwar Prasad for stabbing to death one Anil Bhoyar on 5 January, 2010 near a government hospital in Durg district of Chattisgarh following a tiff over a minor issue.

The trial court had acquitted the third accused Manoj, which was upheld by the High Court.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:32 IST

JS Khehar appointed new Chief Justice of India: What you need to know about the 44th CJI

The President on Monday appointed Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar as the 44th Chief Justice of India from  4 January, 2017.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on 6 December recommended to the government that Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar be appointed his successor when he demits office on 3 January, said informed sources.

Justice Khehar happens to the senior-most judge after the CJI and should succeed to the post on the principle of seniority. As Chief Justice, he will have a tenure of over seven months as he would be retiring on 28 August, 2017.

High profile cases

File image of Justice Khehar Twitter/ @airnewsalertsFile image of Justice Khehar Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

File image of Justice Khehar Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to pre-pone the assembly session from January 2016 to December as it directed restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government. But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

He was also a part of the bench which sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, Khehar was instrumental as he presided over the constitution bench that junked the National Judicial Appointment Commission as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of judiciary.

The government had sought to replace the existing collegiums system for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary by the NJAC mechanism through the enactment of Constitution’s 99th amendment that had put in place NJAC and the NJAC Act, 2014.

Justice Khehar also appeared as counsel for M Krishnaswamy, an MP from the Arani constituency in Tamil Nadu, in defence of Justice V Ramaswami constituted to investigate the grounds on which the removal of Justice V. Ramaswami was sought. He was also a member of the Judges Inquiry Committee for investigating the grounds for removal of PD Dinakaran when Dinakran was the Karnataka High Court Chief Justice.

Background

Having done LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Justice Khehar was awarded Gold Medal for securing first position in the university in LL.M examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh on February 8, 1999, Justice Khehgar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from August 2, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as Chief Justice of Uttrakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later he was transferred as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Justice Khehar was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

With inputs from IANS

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 09:12 IST

Indrani Mukerjea breaks down after learning about father’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, broke down on Monday outside the court here after learning about her father Upendra Kumar Bora’s death on December 15.Indrani, her husband and former media baron Peter Mukerjea and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna were produced in the court today for arguments on framing of charges. After the special prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil finished the arguments, CBI’s investigating officer informed Indrani about her father’s demise in Assam. Indrani, through her lawyer, told the special judge H S Mahajan that CBI had been insensitive. She was informed only today when her father had died on Thursday, she told the court.”It’s very insensitive,” her lawyer said, adding that neither the CBI nor the jail officials informed her, and action should be taken against them for this lapse. The judge said he would warn the CBI officer at the hearing tomorrow. While coming out of the court, Indrani broke down. She was heard saying to the investigating officer, “You didn’t do the right thing. You should have told me earlier. You hadn’t told me about my mother’s death too (back in October 2015).” Indrani, her driver Shyam Rai (who has now turned approver in the case) and Khanna are accused of killing her daughter Sheena inside a car here in April 2012.Peter Mukerjea is accused of being a party to the conspiracy.

Gujarat HC starts hearing appeals in Naroda Patiya riot case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat High Court on Monday started hearing appeals in the 2002 Naroda Patiya case, including those filed by former BJP minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi.Defence lawyers started arguments before the division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehia. While Kodnani, Bajrangi and other convicts have challenged the verdict of the trial court, the Supreme Court- appointed Special Investigation Team has filed appeals against acquittals of 29 accused. It has also sought enhanced punishment for some of the convicts.The hearing is likely to be conducted on a daily basis. Last month, Justice Akil Kureshi had recused himself after which the case was transferred to the present bench. Before that, Justices M R Shah, K S Jhaveri, G B Shah, Sonia Gokani and R H Shukla had recused themselves from the matter. Also, in April 2015, the apex court had stayed the proceedings after SIT complained that Justice R R Tripathi of the high court was hearing only Kodnani’s appeal expeditiously. Tripathi retired and the case went to another division bench.97 people belonging to the minority community were killed by a mob during a riot in Naroda Patiya area of Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 karsevaks died. The trial court had on August 30, 2012 awarded life imprisonment to Kodnani and 29 others, and “imprisonment till death” to Bajrangi. It had acquitted 29 others.

Delhi police opposes perjury proceedings against Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU professor

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>City police opposed in Delhi High Court a plea seeking initiation of perjury proceedings against former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and a JNU professor on Monday, saying there was no material to substantiate the allegation that they had filed false affidavits along with the bail plea of the student leader in a sedition case.Justice SP Garg was informed by the investigating officer (IO) that the court on August 11 had already dismissed pleas to cancel interim bail of Kanhaiya in the sedition case on the ground that nothing was shown that the student leader had made any anti-national speech after his release. “Perusal of petition, under reply, lacks materials and the contents/averments made therein are vehemently denied and, in view of the order dated August 11, 2016 of this court, the petition deserves to dismissed,” the affidavit filed by the Delhi Police said.The reply of the police came in the backdrop of a court notice issued to it on a plea claiming that a JNU professor had “deliberately” filed a false affidavit in the high court along with the bail petition of Kanhaiya in the case. The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on February 23 next year.In his plea, petitioner Prashant Kumar Umrao has contended that the professor had wrongly vouched on oath that Kanhaiya was not involved in any “anti-national activity” and that he was a man of proper conduct. Advocate RP Luthra, appearing for the petitioner, had said the professor should have been aware that the student leader was fined for inappropriate conduct on campus a year ago and there was nothing to show that he was not involved in any anti-national sloganeering. On March 2, Kanhaiya was granted six month interim bail by the high court. He was later granted regular bail by the trial court in connection with the case relating to an event inside JNU campus on February 9 in which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.While the court at first had felt that since the student leader had been granted bail nothing remained in the petition seeking perjury proceedings, the petitioner however convinced the court that it had nothing to do with him being released on regular bail. Kanhaiya was arrested on February 12 this year on charges of alleged sedition. Two other students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, were later arrested in connection with the case and they were granted interim bail.A trial court had on August 26 granted regular bail to the three accused.

Was detained at airport in violation of court order, says meat exporter Moin Qureshi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi on Monday told Delhi High Court that he was detained at the airport on his return to India and “whisked away” by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in violation of a judicial order staying the lookout circular against him.Qureshi made the submission in an application filed before Justice A K Pathak, who issued notice to the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance, ED and Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) seeking their replies to his plea in which he has claimed that no money laundering case is made out against him.The court asked the authorities to file their replies before the next date of hearing on January 6 next year.
ALSO READ ED grills Moin Qureshi for over seven hoursIn his application, Qureshi said the court had on October 26 this year stayed the lookout circular (LC) against him till November 22, despite which he was detained and his passport impounded by ED when he arrived in India on November 21. He said he was to appear before ED only the next day.He contended that since the authorities have not replied to his main petition seeking quashing of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) lodged against him by ED, their right to file a reply should be closed.Qureshi has claimed that the respondents were avoiding filing their reply to the writ petition as they were aware that no case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act is made out against him. He has also sought directions to ED to supply him with a copy of the ECIR, saying it is mandatory under the law and would also help him understand the allegations against him.The Delhi-based meat exporter contended that since he arrived in the country, he has been appearing before ED on each date that he has been summoned except on two occasions.The court on October 26 had told Qureshi “not to behave like Vijay Mallya” and directed him to return to India by mid -November. It had said it was not going to restrain the ED from taking any “coercive steps” against Qureshi, who had managed to go abroad despite a LC issued against him.On October 15, when Qureshi was stopped at IGI Airport on following issuance of the LC, he had shown a trial court order obtained in an income tax case in which he was granted bail and had left for Dubai.ED had registered a case under the PMLA last year against Qureshi, who has been under scanner of probe agencies for alleged tax evasion and hawala-like dealings. In his petition, he had stated that ED had conducted search at his premises under FEMA and probing allegations in which he and others were called for questioning on various occasions and they had appeared.

Justice JS Khehar set to be next Chief Justice of India after President clears appointment

Justice JS Khehar is set be the next Chief Justice of India after President Pranab Mukherjee formally gave his nod to his appointment. He will succeed CJI TS Thakur as the 44th Chief Justice of India after the latter demits office on 3 January.

The Chief Justice of India, the highest authority in the judiciary, is traditionally appointed on seniority basis, on the recommendation of the incumbent Chief Justice. As Justice Khehar was the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice TS Thakur, his name was recommended to the government on the principle of seniority. As Chief Justice, Khehar will have a tenure of over seven months as he would be retiring on 28 August, 2017.

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar will be the first Sikh to occupy the highest office. However, as a report in Live Mint states, his appointment assumes importance as doubts were raised that Justice Khehar might be superseded by the government. A group of prominent lawyers had, earlier this month, urged the government to overlook Justice Khehar’s seniority, citing his verdict on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case.

Justice JS Khehar was heading the five-judge constitution bench that junked the National Judicial Appointments Commission for the appointment of judges as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of judiciary.

Incidentally, Justice Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the assembly session from January 2016 to December 2015, as it directed restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government. But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

Having done LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Justice Khehar was awarded gold medal for securing first position in the university LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh on February 8, 1999, Justice Khehgar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2 August, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as Chief Justice of Uttrakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later, he was transferred as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Justice Khehar was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 21:46 IST

JNU missing student: Sniffer dogs enter campus to help trace Najeeb

Delhi High Court had last week directed Delhi police to “scan” the entire campus, including hostels, classrooms and rooftops, of the varsity using sniffer dogs. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Police teams scanned the JNU campus on Monday with sniffer dogs to search for clues that could help them trace student Najeeb Ahmed, who has been missing for over two months now, police said.The Crime Branch team that is probing the case after it was transferred to them reached the campus this morning with sniffer dogs and the search is currently underway, police said. Concerned over disappearance of the JNU student, Delhi High Court had last week directed police to “scan” the entire campus, including hostels, classrooms and rooftops, of the varsity by using sniffer dogs.The directions had come on a Habeas Corpus plea by Najeeb’s mother, Fatima Nafees, who has moved court to trace her son. Najeeb went missing on October 15 following an on-campus scuffle allegedly with ABVP members the night before. The case was transferred from South District Police to Crime Branch last month.

Madras High Court bans illegal ‘Sharia courts’, asks Tamil Nadu govt to ensure they don’t function

Mon, 19 Dec 2016-05:15pm , Chennai , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madras High Court on Monday banned all unauthorised ‘Sharia’ courts functioning from mosque premises in the state of Tamil Nadu.The court has also directed the Tamil Nadu Government not to allow such unauthorised courts and file a report within four weeks, making it clear that religious places and other places of worships are meant for religious purposes only.A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by an England based NRI Abdur Rahman who had earlier approached one of such courts with the hope to reunite with his wife, but instead was forced to sign a letter of divorce or talaq and was made to pronounce the same.The Supreme Court had earlier declared such Sharia courts running from the mosque premises as illegal which have so far dealt with such disputes that run in hundreds. Shariat is a set of law derived from the Quran and the Hadiths and have a binding on the followers of Islamic faith.

BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list of states with highest atrocities against SC/ST; UP close second

New Delhi: BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre on Monday flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases.

Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held in New Delhi on Monday.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Reuters

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Reuters

Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3 percent of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7 percent of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction.

“In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3 percent), Gujarat (3.1 percent), Karnataka (3.5 percent), Maharashtra (7.6 percent), Odisha (4.3 per cent), Tamil Nadu (7.5 percent), Telangana (7.5 percent) and West Bengal (3 percent), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.

The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases.

During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.

However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.

Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.

The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:44 IST

DYFI activist murder: Double life imprisonment for 11 RSS activists

Mon, 19 Dec 2016-01:16pm , Thiruvananthapuram , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Additional Sessions Court in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday announced double life sentence for 11 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists in Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activist Vishnu’s murder case.One of the accused got life imprisonment and the 15th accused in the case got three years imprisonment for helping the accused to hide after committing the crime.According to the prosecution, the accused armed with swords, iron rods and other weapons attacked Vishnu and killed him at Kaithamukku.Out of the total 16 accused in this case, one died in 2008 and another was acquitted by the court on Friday while one is still absconding.

Writer from Kerala charged with sedition for allegedly insulting national anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Malayalam writer and theatre artist was on Sunday charged with sedition for allegedly showing disrespect to the national anthem, police said.Kamal C Chavara, alias Kamalsy Prana, was taken into custody on charges of insulting the national anthem in a Facebook Post. A case was registered against him by police at Karungapally in Kollam a few days ago following a complaint from Yuva Morcha activists.The case under 124 A (sedition) has been registered against the writer, police said. As per the complaint filed by the Yuva Morcha activists, Kamal had posted some excerpts from his novel “Smasanangulude Nottupusthakam” on Facebook, which they alleged was an insult to the national anthem.
ALSO READ Kerala: Six people arrested for not standing during national anthem, later released Police said Kamal would be handed over to their counterparts at Karunagapalli.The incident comes close on the heels of the arrest of 12 persons earlier this month for not standing up when the national anthem was being played before the screening of a film at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram.
ALSO READ Chennai: Three youths beaten up for not standing during national anthem in theatreThe Supreme Court had recently directed that cinema halls across the country must play the national anthem before the screening of a film and people should stand up as a mark of respect. The ruling, however, has received mixed reactions from legal experts with a few terming it as “judiciary’s over-enthusiasm” and others saying playing it and respecting it won’t cause any harm.

PDP-BJP govt allowing step-by step erosion of Article 370: Omar Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Supreme Court held that Jammu and Kashmir has “no vestige” of sovereignty outside Indian Constitution and its own statute which is subordinate, Omar Abdullah on Sunday hit out at PDP-led government saying its “weak” legal defence of state’s special status was “alarming” as it was allowing “step-by-step erosion” of Article 370.Asking the state government to come clean on the issue, the NC leader targeted the PDP, alleging that it seems it has decided to facilitate the “long-cherished desire” of its alliance partner BJP “to circumvent and subvert the Constitution of the state” and attributes of Article 370.”The state government’s weak legal defence of various sensitive attributes of the state’s special status is alarming. The deliberate callousness shown by the state government indicated the tacit connivance of PDP in allowing the step-by-step erosion of Article 370 through a series of politically patronised cases and litigation. The PDP-BJP Government should come clean on its stand on this vital issue that could have far reaching implications for the State,” the former Chief Minister said in Srinagar.
ALSO READ Sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir within Constitution of India: Supreme CourtThe opposition National Conference (NC) working president said the state government’s counsel in the Supreme Court has made it evident that the state government prima facie “does not oppose” the application of the SARFAESI Act in Jammu and Kashmir.”This has far reaching implications as the application of the SARFAESI Act to J-K was debatable in the context of Article 370 of the Constitution of India as also the provisions of the J-K Transfer of Property Act. Instead of highlighting these arguments and points of view, the state government’s counsel virtually conceded before the SC that Parliament was competent to extend SARFESI Act to J-K,” Omar said, alleging this “implicates” the state government in a visible pattern of such incidents that “are aimed at undermining” the state’s Constitution and Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
ALSO READ J&K residents are ‘first and foremost’ citizens of India, state’s sovereignty within Indian Constitution: SCOmar was reacting after the apex court held that provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) are within the legislative competence of Parliament and can be enforced in Jammu and Kashmir.The bench set aside the verdict of Jammu and Kashmir High Court that had held that any law made by Parliament, which affects the laws made by state legislature, cannot be extended to Jammu and Kashmir.”The State of Jammu & Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India,” a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman has said.”It is therefore wholly incorrect to describe it as being sovereign in the sense of its residents constituting a separate and distinct class in themselves. The residents of Jammu & Kashmir, we need to remind the High Court, are first and foremost citizens of India,” it has said.

Robert Vadra land deal issue: Congress terms it a ‘vendetta and witch-hunt’ by BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the issue of Robert Vadra’s controversial land deals haunted the Congress again, the party on Saturday termed as “vendetta and witch-hunt” the summoning of a company linked to the son-in-law of its president Sonia Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate.Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed officials of Skylight hospitality have visited ED numerous times and supplied them whatever documents required but they have not been able to find anything either against Vadra or his company or associates.”As part of further vendetta and witch-hunt, BJP government proceeded to refer the matter to ED. Even ED has not been able to find anything,” he claimed.The reaction came after the Rajasthan High Court ordered last evening that the representative of Skylight Hospitality will have to appear before ED but allowed the presence of his lawyer “at a reasonable distance” during questioning.The order came after the company representative had moved the high court challenging the summons issued by the ED to him earlier this year in connection with a land deal in Bikaner, Rajasthan.Congress claimed that the company has been given “appropriate relief” by the court.”On account of consistent harassment and persecution, a petition for quashing was filed in which appropriate relief has been given to skylight.”This is one more instance of venal vendetta and severe campaign that BJP continues to unleash guided by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,” Surjewala said.He claimed Skylight hospitality has supplied every document asked by it right “from inception of company as also completely unrelated things on purchase of land”.He also claimed that the land of Mahajan Firing Range was allotted by BJP government in its last tenure when Vasundhara Raje was the Chief Minister. That land was sold twice during the tenure of BJP government and all mutations have been properly entered.Out of this land, an extremely small portion was purchased by Skylight, which is a third buyer, he said.This lease was finally cancelled as wrongfully allotment by the current BJP government of Vasundhara Raje, he said, adding that two years ago an FIR was lodged by Rajastan Police after investigation.”The challan has been presented. Neither Robert Vadra nor Skylight, nor anyone associated with him is an accused in the case,” he said.However, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal, who hails from Rajasthan, said, “The law will do its job. I just want to say if a common man would have liked to buy those lands, I am sure they wouldn’t be allowed to do so.” Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “Whenever there is been an attack on BJP on their misdoings, they just say ‘this has happened’, and ‘that had happened.’ They are enquiring about it (Vadra) for so many years why are they not able to find anything?.”The (ED) had issued the notice to the firm under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Is rape sentencing in India a joke? Judgments based on stereotypes have played pathetically important part

By Ila Ananya

In 1983, the Supreme Court (SC) delivered what it considered a progressive, gender-sensitive judgment in Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai versus State of Gujarat. The case involved the sexual abuse of two 10-year-old girls — one of whom had been raped — by their friend’s father in Gandhinagar. It became a landmark judgment when the SC declared (much to everyone’s surprise after its horrifying acquittal of the accused in the Mathura rape case) that the survivor’s sole testimony was enough to convict the accused.

This judgment would have actually been an important one had the SC stopped here. Instead, evidently feeling the need to justify its decision, it went on to explain why it believed that an Indian woman (as opposed to women from the “western world”) wouldn’t falsely accuse someone of rape. Predictably, and among other things, the court said that Indian women would not want to admit “any incident which is likely to affect her chastity had ever occurred”. It said this would mean risking the loss of “love and respect of her own husband and near relatives”, that she would be ostracised, and that “she would have to brave the whole world”. Perhaps it was unintentional, but with this, the SC successfully constructed the stereotype of the rape survivor.

This and other soul-crushing factors about the legal system makes Mrinal Satish’s new book absolutely mandatory reading for those interested in justice for victims of sexual violence.

Mrinal Satish, Associate Professor of Law, and Executive Director of Centre for Constitutional Law, Policy and Governance at the National Law University, Delhi, strongly argues in his latest book that such stereotypes have not only influenced the prosecution of rape cases, but also their sentencing. His book, Discretion, Discrimination and the Rule of Law: Reforming Rape Sentencing in India, looks at sentencing by High Courts (HC) and the SC in more than 800 rape cases between 1984 and 2009. It provides solid evidence for what we have suspected all along — that rapes by acquaintances rather than by strangers invite lighter sentences; that courts impose lower sentences on defendants when the raped woman is unmarried and sexually active; or that the absence of injuries on her results in a lower sentence on the defendant.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Keeping the SC’s Bharwada judgment in mind, Satish argues that the sentencing stage of a rape case is further impacted by the same stereotypes that influenced it during its prosecution stage — where virginity is considered to be of utmost importance to a woman.

“The most surprising finding was the extent of impact that medical examination had on the adjudication process,” says Satish about his findings. In cases where the two-finger test was performed, or where the woman’s sexual history had been considered in court, sexually active, unmarried women saw lighter sentences being imposed on the accused. In his book, Satish then goes on to give the example of the SC noting the “pitiable” state (“there is no monsoon season in her life,” in the court’s words) of the rape survivor who remained unmarried in the case of Madan Gopal Kakkad versus Naval Dubey. According to Satish, men who had raped unmarried virgins got higher sentences because the courts considered the survivor’s loss of virginity an irreparable damage.

Another stereotype that Satish points to in his book is the perception of the survivor’s protestations. An infuriating example of a rather singular approach to consent is the SC’s acquittal of the two policemen accused in the Mathura rape case. It was pointed out that because the 16-year-old had not raised an alarm and there were no marks of injury on her body, she was a “liar” habituated to sexual intercourse. The data, argues Satish, can be seen as the absence of injuries leading to lighter sentences — all of which the Delhi HC conveniently ignored in the case Mohd. Habib vs. State, when it acquitted the accused because he didn’t have any injury marks on his penis, even though the 7-year-old child he had raped had injuries on her body.

In August 2015, RAHAT, a programme that provides socio-legal support for rape survivors, published a report according to which, in a whopping 91 percent of cases, the rapists were known people, as opposed to the 9 per cent of cases where the accused were strangers. While these figures themselves take some time to sink in, looking at them in the light of Satish’s findings becomes even more depressing. As Satish writes, “Literature on rape suggests that juries and judges consider rape by a stranger as being the most traumatic form of rape.” It’s no wonder then that known people, whether relatives or neighbours (it was sometimes even assumed that the rape survivor and accused were in a relationship even if the former stated otherwise), all got lower sentences than strangers did.

Such prejudicial sentencing has arguably led to India’s high rates of sentence reversals when the convictions were challenged in higher courts. In many cases, these sentence reversals often were even below the minimum sentence. A court has the right to impose a sentence lower than the minimum if it has “adequate and special reasons” for doing so, a reasoning that is implemented in as vague a manner as it sounds.

In his book, Satish provides us with statistics that put all of this into perspective — on appeal, HCs have overturned guilty verdicts in 44 per cent of rape cases, and 37 per cent of gang rape cases. The SC has also overturned guilty verdicts given by Trial Courts in 36 per cent of the cases, and have overturned guilty verdicts given by HCs in 53 per cent of the cases (in cases of gang rape, this number is at 48 per cent).

The solution, as Satish suggests, is to develop a consistent policy for sentencing in India, perhaps by setting up a body to do just this. In most cases, along with the rape stereotypes at play, the courts consider other mitigating factors — even those like the defendant losing his employment because of the conviction — that really don’t need to be taken into consideration in his sentencing. The existence of a body that drafts sentencing guidelines could ensure that these “unwarranted disparities”, as Satish calls them, can be done away with to a large extent, if not entirely.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine delivering fresh and witty perspectives on politics, culture, health, sex, work and everything in between.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 17:15 IST

VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi, 2 others sent to judicial custody till Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patiala House Court has sent ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi and two others to judicial custody till December 30 in AgustaWestland chopper case on Saturday. All three accused had filed bail applications in the Patiala House Court. The court will hear bail matter on December 21.Tyagi along with other accused in the AgustaWestland chopper case was produced before the Patiala House court as their Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody ends.Earlier, the CBI had moved court seeking a 10-day custody to interrogate Tyagi and the other accused in the case. Last Friday, the CBI had arrested Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev and lawyer Gautam Khaitan.The Rs 3600-crore deal to supply 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland came under the scanner after Italian authorities claimed that the company paid bribes. Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief, however, he has repeatedly denied the allegations. CBI said that they have received ‘incriminating documents’ from Italy and Mauritius against the formet IAF chiefWith agency inputs.

Triple talaq denies equality of law to Muslim women in India: Kerala High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala High Court said equality before law has been denied to Muslim women in India in the matter of triple talaq. Disposing of three cases involving divorced Muslim women including change of name in spouse in passport for a person who had ended his marriage by triple talaq, the high court urged the need for codified law with regard to divorce.In its 60-page judgement, the court said entire exercise is to alert the state that justice has become elusive to Muslim women and remedy lies in codification of law of divorce.Delivering the judgement, Justice A Muhamed Mustaque observed that it is for the lawmakers to formulate the law relating to divorce through the process of legislation.The court asked the registry to forward the copy of judgement to the Law Ministry and Law Commission of India. The state is committed to respect the promise of dignity before law and it cannot shirk its responsibility by remaining mute spectator of malady suffered by Muslim women in the name of religion, the court said. The court also urged the need for a state legislation to regulate triple talaq.The court added that the Quran nowhere approves triple talaq in one utterance and on the other hand promotes conciliation as best method to resolve marital discord. Even Islamic countries like Egypt, Iraq and UAE have totally derecognised the concept of triple talaq. One has to wonder how equality before law has been denied to Muslim women in India, the court said.State, as a measure, must strive to achieve meaningful action to sustain equilibrium towards national oneness in character of society while giving freedom to remain as one group, the court said.The need for common civil code, though it is debated at different levels, still remains as mirage for want of agreement among different groups, it said.It is possible to have a common code at least for marriage laws in India, the court said.The judgement concluded quoting verses from the Quran. “It is for the state to consider formulation of codified law to govern the matter. Therefore, I conclude drawing attention of those who resist any form of reform of the divorce law of Muslim community in India to the following verses of Holy Quran (Chapter 47:2);”And those who believe and do good works and believe in that which is revealed unto Muhammed- and it is the truth from their Lord-He riddeth them of their ill deeds and improveth their state”;”Thus we display the revelations for people who have sense” (Chapter 30:28).”

Demonetization | Fulfil commitment of Rs 24,000 withdrawal per week: SC to govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has refused to extend the use of demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in government utility centres like hospitals, railway tickets etc. It has asked the government to fulfil the commitment of Rs 24,000 withdrawal per week to the extent possible. All matters pertaining to various HCs have been stayed. The apex court also said that it won’t interfere in the government’s decision and would refer petitions challenging November 8 notification on demonetization to five-judge Constitution bench by framing nine questions for adjudication. The bench will explore constitutionality of the demonetization.The Supreme Court also accepted the assurance of AG that Rs 8,000 crore collected by district cooperative banks between November 11 to 14 will be allowed to be exchanged. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal had said earlier today that the use of demonetized Rs 500 notes has come to an end and some order needed to be passed.On Thursday, the court had said that the Centre should adhere to its notification that allowed withdrawal of Rs 24,000 per week from bank accounts after demonetization of high-value currency notes.

Supreme Court to pass order on use of demonetized Rs 500 notes

Fri, 16 Dec 2016-01:40pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court said that it may pass some orders on Friday on a plea seeking that demonetized Rs 500 currency notes be allowed to be used for some more time at places like hospitals and petrol pumps.”We will see whether we can pass some orders today,” a bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud said when senior advocate Kapil Sibal sought an interim order on the issue. Sibal said that the use of demonetized Rs 500 notes has come to an end and some order needed to be passed.Yesterday, the court had said that the Centre should adhere to its notification that allowed withdrawal of Rs 24,000 per week from bank accounts after demonetization of high-value currency notes.

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