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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.

Demonetisation Day 50: Still too early to call it an ‘utter flop’ or ‘glorious success’

Maine sirf pachaas din maange hain… 30 December tak mujhe mauka dijiye…  Agar 30 December ke baad, koi meri kami rehjaye, koi meri galti nikal jaye, koi mera galat irada nikal jaye, aap jis chaurahe mein mujhe khada karenge, main khada hokarke desh jo saza karega, wo saza bhugatne ke liye taiyyar hoon (I have only asked for 50 days. Give me time till 30 December. After that, if any fault is found in my intentions or my actions, I am willing to suffer any punishment given by the country).

That’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Goa on 13 November five days after he demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. And three days before the 50-day period he sought was up, he delivered a judgement on himself when he said at an election rally in Dehradun on 27 December:

 “Through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld...

 In an interview with India Today this week, he went a step further when he said:

 “Black money has all been forced out into the open, whomsoever it may belong to — whether it is corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen or professionals.”

Modi wants us to believe that he has delivered what he promised in the 50 days, and that his “safai abhiyan” (clean-up campaign) will go on.

I have no problem in confessing that I am not an economist. But I am aghast at the way some, like Modi himself, have concluded that this demonetisation is a huge, rip-roaring success that will rewrite the economics textbooks. On one hand, we have those who are singing paeans to Modi in praise of his “bold” war against black money. On the other hand, there are others who, at the very first sight of a long queue before an ATM, rubbished the whole thing as the stupidest thing any prime minister had ever undertaken on the planet since the invention of currency.

Most of those who resorted to the premature song-and-dance were obviously the so-called bhakts of Modi.

And most of those who wrote a political obituary for the prime minister hardly a day or two after 8 November were bhakts of another kind: Left-leaning or Congress-supporting Modi baiters. It is likely that, if Modi hadn’t gone for demonetisation, they might have questioned why he hadn’t, to make good on his poll promise of ferreting out black money. If, after demonetisation, the ATMs functioned smoothly with a copious flow of the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes, they would have asked why there weren’t enough Rs 100 notes.

If Modi sneezed, they would ask why he wasn’t coughing. If Modi coughed, they would wonder why he wasn’t having hiccups. They are that sort of people. They must be disappointed that the ‘cash riots’ that they were hoping for, haven’t broken out on India’s streets.

On Friday, the two sides will once again deliver their predictable judgments, ignoring the fact that it is the last day for swapping old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency. With all its good and bad effects, the demonetisation churn will continue for some more time, and perhaps it will be several months or even a year before we can arrive at a considered judgment as to whether it did any good, and whether whatever good it did, was worth the terrible things that it has so far inflicted on the people and economy of India.

File iamge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File iamge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

So far, we have seen only the bad effects of it. Dozens have died in queues, and millions have lost jobs. Lack of cash led to a sharp fall in spending, which in turn led to a crash in business in virtually every sector. Fathers couldn’t get daughters married the way they wanted. In some places, farmers dumped their produce on the roadside because it was not worth selling at the rock-bottom prices.

In other places, farmers had no money to buy seeds to grow fresh crops. Not a day passed after demonetisation without a moving tale of woe being reported from one part of the country or another. The picture of a former jawan weeping in a bank that went viral summed up best the agony India went through.

All these problems of demonetisation were a direct result of the woefully slow process of remonetisation. The humongous goof-up in ensuring availability of enough cash after the scrapping of 86 percent of the currency (in value) in a country where 87 percent of the transactions are said to be in cash, is all too clear. Enough has already been said about it by friends and foes of Modi, and those who are neither.

Questions that Modi must answer now

The question upfront now is: What is the country getting in return for all that misery that India was made to go through?

It’s now reasonably clear from official data that the cash windfall that the government had expected from demonetisation — black money that hasn’t been swapped or deposited in the banks which would drop into the government’s kitty — will hover around Rs one lakh crore.

Of the total of Rs 15.4 lakh of cash in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were demonetised, Rs five lakh crore was estimated to be black. So if only some Rs one lakh remains unclaimed, what happened to the rest of the Rs four lakh crore? How much of it has been burnt by its holders? How much of it has been turned into white by illegitimate means? How much of it has been seized in income tax raids? And how much has been declared under the voluntary disclosure schemes?

These are questions that are not difficult to answer. So Modi must answer them.

This is not to suggest that the absence of a huge cash “windfall” in terms of “extinguished money” means that the demonetisation is a total, miserable failure. Despite claims by Modi baiters, the effect of scrapping the high-value notes on counterfeiters, terrorists, Maoists and drug-traffickers cannot be underestimated, at least in the short term. But the questions that will take more time to answer are the ones related to the expansion of the tax net, additional resources that will be available to the government for job-creating schemes and the effect on  GDP — key aspects that will determine the ultimate success or failure of Modi’s adventure. It will be a while before we can judge these after-effects.

Although you can depend on the Union Budget that will be presented on 1 February to throw up some real and artificial clues, Modi must answer all the questions that he can right now — without delay, and without hysterics and histrionics.

The author tweets @sprasadindia

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 13:27 IST

VVIP chopper scam: Singapore responds to CBI’s query on AgustaWestland

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Authorities in Singapore seem to have finally responded to queries which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had sent through official routes, seeking information related to the infamous AgustaWestland scam. The recent development comes a day after former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, an accused in the scam, was granted bail by a city court.The CBI now claims that the information it received from Singapore will aid its investigators to further the probe.The probe agency had sent eight Letters Rogatory (LRs), which are judicial requests, since 2013 and had received “partial information” from six countries. Two of the eight countries have not even sent partial information even after the probe agency registered an official FIR in March 2013.During its investigation, that will enter its fourth year in March next year, CBI sent LRs to Italy, Tunisia, UAE, Singapore, Mauritius, British Virgin Island, UAE and Switzerland. Excluding Singapore and UAE, six countries had sent a “partial execution report” which means that if the probe agency had sent 10 questions seeking information related to the AgustaWestland deal, only some of the queries received a response. Officials on Thursday, however, confirmed that Singapore had responded to the LR. “The new information is currently being examined by CBI and further action will be based on the probe findings,” a CBI official told DNA.In a major setback to CBI, a Delhi sessions court granted bail to former Air Force chief SP Tyagi on Tuesday. “During the arguments, the CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused and when it was paid,” Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar had noted.The CBI made its first arrests in the case on December 9 when it took into custody Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and advocate Gautam Khaitan in the case related to procurement of 12 AW VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime. According to the FIR, the CBI contended that in 2005, the former air chief abused his official position to change the consistent stand of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the service ceiling of the VVIP choppers from 6000 metres to 4500 metres.

Patriotism should not result in ‘blinkered’ approaches in interpreting history: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lamenting the “unfortunate tendency” to take umbrage at the expression of any view considered hostile, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the “freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute” must be protected.Mukherjee also said patriotism should not result in “blinkered” approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.Asserting that the greatest strength of India is its pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic diversity, he said the country’s traditions have always celebrated the “argumentative Indian and not the intolerant Indian.” The President made the remarks after inaugurating the 77th session of the Indian History Congress in Thiruvananthapuram.There has been an “unfortunate tendency” in the country from time-to-time to take umbrage at the expression of any view perceived to be hostile to our social or cultural institutions past or present, Mukherjee said.Similarly, critical appraisals of heroes and national icons of the past have been met with hostility or sometimes even violence, he pointed out. “Freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually must be protected as an essential pillar of democracy. Nothing should lie outside realm of discussion and argument and such freedom is vital for the progress in any field especially in a craft like history,” he said.In his address, the President asked historians to be as objective as possible in their approach to history.Advocating that reason and moderation should be the guide, Mukherjee said, “It is natural to love one’s country and see as much glory in its past as one can detect. But, patriotism should not result in blinkered approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.””No society is perfect and history must be also seen as a guide on what went wrong and what were the contradictions, deficiencies and weaknesses of the past,” he said.”An objective pursuit of history, such as our best historians have attempted, requires an impartial mind of a judge and not the mind of an advocate,” the President said.”We must keep our eyes open for unfamiliar ideas and be ready to consider a range of different inferences or assumptions,” he said. He also said there should not be any conflict or contradiction between the promotion of regional history and the pursuit of the country’s history as a whole.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that attempts were being made by vested interests to distort history to suit the present government at the Centre.Mukherjee released the first copy of the proceedings of the Congress by presenting it to the Chief Minister.

Madras High Court judge raises doubts on Jayalalithaa’s death, wants health records made public

There couldn’t have been a better timing for the Madras High Court to raise questions on the mysterious conditions under which former Tamil Nadu chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam head, J Jayalalithaa passed away earlier this month.

A file image of new AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala with J Jayalalithaa's body. PTI

A file image of new AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala with J Jayalalithaa’s body. PTI

On the day the AIADMK appointed Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala as the next general secretary of the party, a post held by Jayalalithaa before her death, the high court observed that there are many unanswered questions surrounding her death and that the details of it should be made public.

Expressing doubts over the circumstances leading to death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister, a Madras High Court judge indicated that he may order exhumation of the body after a plea before the court sought a probe by an inquiry commission or a fact-finding committee.

According to ANI, Justice Vaidyalingam, who was heading a two-judge vacation bench, pointed at the doubts raised by the media and said that the mysterious conditions under which she died should be probed.

His observations came when the bench, also comprising Justice V Parthiban, was hearing the PIL filed by an AIADMK worker PA Joseph seeking an inquiry commission or a fact-finding committee to probe the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa.

“After the demise, everybody has a right to question. I personally have a doubt,” Justice Vaidyalingam remarked 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, video was released,” Justice Vaidyanathan said.

When a special mention was made before the bench by senior counsel KM Vijayan who argued on the plea, Advocate General Muthukumaraswamy said there is no mystery in the death.
Justice Vaidyanathan asked the AG, “What is that you say. Right to live is a Fundamental Right. Public should know what has happened.” “Even relations were not allowed to see and they are also
not before the court now. I personally find in case if I have doubt I may order exhumation of the body of deceased and you have not told anything when she was alive,” the judge said.

Turning to counsel J Madanagopala Rao, who appeared on behalf of Union Government, the Judge said: “You went there. You have not reported anything. You know everything. But not reported anything for the reasons best known to you. You kept quiet.” The bench said, “We also saw in newspapers that the chief minister was recovering, and that she was eating, signing papers and even conducting meetings. And then suddenly she was dead.”

“At least after her death now, the truth should be revealed,” the bench added.

The bench then recorded the acceptance of notice by counsel for Union Government on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministries of Home, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and CBI and posted the matter for further hearing to 9 January.

According to CNN-News18, the high court judge also asked why her body was buried and not exhumed. The bench, it said, has issued a notice to the prime minister, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa was being treated regarding the same.

The PIL had sought a commission comprising retired Supreme Court judges to look into “questionable incidents”, including Jayalalithaa’s sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the cardiac arrest resulting in her death on 5 December.

The PIL listed the sequence of events since Jayalalithaa’s admission to Apollo Hospitals here on 22 September and claimed that the “secrecy” preceding her death gave rise to “grave doubts” in the minds of the people.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 12:23 IST

Victims can’t state facts like parrot, minor contradictions bound to happen: Court says in molestation case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Victims cannot be expected to state facts in a “parrot-like manner” and minor contradictions are bound to happen after a lapse of time, a Delhi court has said while sending four men to jail in a molestation and assault case after relying on the complainant’s statement.Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain sent the four men, all Delhi residents, to one year rigorous imprisonment for molesting, threatening and voluntarily causing hurt to the victim, a married woman, after forcefully entering her house when she was alone. “Facts and circumstances clearly show that all accused persons assaulted and used criminal force on her to outrage her modesty. “They gagged her mouth and tore her clothes,” the judge said while holding the accused guilty.Rejecting the argument about there being discrepancies in the woman’s testimony, the judge said, “Victim of such an incident cannot be expected to possess photographic memory and to state the facts in a parrot-like manner. “Minor contradictions are bound to happen if the witness is examined after a lapse of time. No credence can be given to these minor contradictions if they do not go to the root of the matter and create suspicion as to the veracity of the incident.”The court said there is enough direct and circumstantial evidence against the men to prove their complicity in the commission of the offence, adding that the complainant remained “consistent and cogent” and her testimony was of “sterling quality”. “Besides the jail term, the court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on each of the four convicts with a direction that out of the total amount, Rs 30,000 be given to the victim.” According to the prosecution, on the intervening night of September 14-15, 2014, the men — Tukun Das, Pawan Kumar, Vinod Kumar and Dev Kant Giri, who were the neighbours of the woman, entered her house when she was alone and abused her physically and verbally.It said there had been a quarrel between the woman and Vinod before this incident which resulted into registration of a complaint against him by the woman. After this, in order to “teach her a lesson”, Vinod along with three others, entered her house and used criminal force on her to outrage her modesty, it said.

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

AgustaWestland scam: SP Tyagi gets bail; court order on 2 other accused due on 4 Jan

The Patiala House Court on Monday granted bail to former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi, accused of receiving kickbacks in AgustaWestland helicopter deal. Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar granted the relief to SP Tyagi on a personal bond of Rs two lakh and one surety of like amount.

The court, however, imposed certain conditions on the accused and asked him not to try to influence the witnesses and hamper the probe. The bail applications of other two accused — Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan — are pending before the court which said it will decide both the pleas on 4 January. During the hearing of the bail plea, S P Tyagi’s advocate Maneka Guruswamy had said that her client “could not be deprived of freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete”.

In a sudden and first of its kind action, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev, and a lawyer on 9 December in the sensational Rs 450 crore bribery case in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-II government.

Seventy-one-year-old SP Tyagi, who retired in 2007, was called for questioning at CBI headquarters along with his cousin and Chandigarh-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who were taken into custody after nearly four hours of grilling, PTI had reported.

These were the first arrests in the case by CBI which came three years after it registered an FIR in 2013 to probe the allegations in the aftermath of the details of the scam emerging in Italy where the prosecutors levelled allegations of corruption in the deal against the chief of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.

On 23 December special CBI judge Arvind Kumar also reserved its order on the bail applications of SP Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan and posted the matter for 26 December for pronouncing the order.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

During proceedings, Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, had opposed the bail pleas of the accused, saying if set free, they might influence witnesses and hamper the “multi-layered probe by various agencies in more than one jurisdictions involving several countries”.

“The persons are of high ranking… The investigation is going on and we are getting support from other countries. If they get bail, they may influence witnesses, destroy evidences and hamper the ongoing probe which is at a very crucial stage.

“We have evidences where the meetings unofficially took place for the purpose of crime. At this stage, please do not entertain their bail pleas. Let the probe be completed,” he said, seeking dismissal of the bail pleas of all three accused and adding that the matter has “tarnished country’s name.”

However, the CBI also told the court that “it is not our argument that the accused may flee from justice.”

On the court’s query whether the CBI had any material regarding S P Tyagi receiving money, the agency said the former IAF chief had purchased several properties for which the sources of income were not disclosed by him and alleged that he had abused his official position.

Opposing CBI’s contention, S P Tyagi’s advocate Maneka Guruswamy said his client “could not be deprived from freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete”.

She claimed before the court that in the last four years since the FIR was registered, the CBI has never been able to confront Tyagi with any incriminating evidence till date.

“The CBI has not demonstrated anything more than a statement that my client recieved some cash. He is already retired and not going to influence the probe and there is no evidence to suggest that he tried to do so in the past,” the counsel said.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, appearing for Khaitan, also countered CBI’s argument, claiming that the agency was trying to sensitise the matter and there was no allegation that his client had not joined the probe or tried to influence it.

Dubey had told the court that “if they had to hamper probe, they would have done it in the past three years.”

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel Manav Gupta also opposed CBI’s contention saying there was no reason to claim that if granted the relief, his client would hamper the probe.

The accused persons have sought bail on the ground that the evidence was documentary in nature and has already been seized by CBI and they have cooperated with the probe agency.

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to the judicial custody till 30 December.

The accused have alleged that the “CBI was trying to extract the confession using force”. The defence counsel had also claimed that there was no apprehension of them fleeing from justice or tampering with evidence.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”. It had submitted that “one part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land.”

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 12:26 IST

Dutch woman claims child kidnapped by estranged husband, approaches Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Dutch woman in the process of getting a divorce from her Mumbai-based husband and fighting over the custody of their daughter has shared her story with the famous ‘Humans of Amsterdam’ Facebook page, about how her estranged husband has kidnapped their two-year-old.Her story has been shared thousands of times on the social media page, with several Indians tagging Minster of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, who is known for her quick response on social media platforms like Twitter, and has gained the goodwill of the people of resolving the issues of many Indians worldwide. Nadia Rashid, the woman in question in the story, met Shezad Hemani, her now-estranged husband in 2010 while volunteering at the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Amsterdam. “He seemed friendly and through the organisation, he got my phone number. He texted me, and every now and then we kept in touch. I don’t think you can call it a friendship but we were acquaintances,” she said.Rashid said Hemani told her that was a businessman from Mumbai who travelled a lot. In 2010, he visited her and immediately asked her to marry him. Since she barely knew him at the time, Rashid refused, she said, but he refused to give up. “He kept sending me messages and kept travelling to Amsterdam to come and meet me. He made me feel special and put me on a pedestal. He said he loved me and I started to fall in love with him. When he proposed again, I said yes. We got married in 2011 and that’s when everything changed,” said RashidThings changed from the wedding day, when Rashid said she noticed a change in his behaviour. “He changed from a loving man to a dominant husband. He told me that I dressed terribly and destroyed my self-confidence. He would not let me meet his friends, saying that they were the types that did drugs and cheated on their wives. I later found out that he told them that I was an abusive wife who married him for money,” she added.Things took a turn for the worse when Rashid was pregnant three years into the marriage. She alleged that Hemani was never there for the child and it felt like she was a single-mother raising their daughter. “I remember one night Insiya (their daughter) woke up in the middle of the night and we could hear her cry through the baby phone. He got really mad at me and when she woke up for the third time he said I had to go sleep in her room because he could not sleep.”Nadia Rashid’s story on Humans of Amsterdam: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5She also alleged that her husband abused her. “I never told anyone because I was too ashamed. He would then apologise and that it was his fault. He would tell me that I was the better person and that is why I would be able to forgive him,” she said.When Rashid decided to stop travelling to India, both she and Hemani agreed that the husband would visit Amsterdam every two weeks, she assumed that things would get better, but the violence continued.“Once when he was in India, he didn’t answer my calls or call me. Once when he did answer, he said that he was busy. But I could hear the cricket commentary in the background. I then told him that if he didn’t make us a priority, then we would do the same to him,” she said.After this, the husband sent a Facebook message to all her friends with the same message, where he asked them to meet so that they could talk about her. “I then texted him asking him what he was playing at. He responded by calling me a loser because I didn’t dare to file for a divorce and that he would sue me. He had written (to) my brother and said that I was going to pay for this and that he was going to shame my name. He said that he would tell everyone in Amsterdam and the rest of the world what a terrible woman I was. He ended his message with: ‘This game has just begun’”.Rashid filed for divorce, but ensured that he had time with their daughter. “One time, Insiya was sitting on his lap when he told me that he would send his friends over to have me killed. I took Insiya and ran to the police station to file a complaint against him, but the threats continued. He said that he would kidnap our daughter and that he would take her to India,” she said.She realised that her movements were being monitored and finally found a GPS tracker in her car. She then went to the police, following which both mother and daughter went into hiding. “The police attached an AWARE system to my body in case of an emergency. The following months he couldn’t see us because of the threats; we were legally not allowed to have direct contact,” she added.One day, two policemen knocked on her door because they spotted a suspected vehicle. Rashid saw her Hemani in the car that had a child seat in the back. “We had to go into hiding again until we were sure that he had left the country. He kept filing lawsuits but losing them. Finally, the judge gave me sole custody of our daughter.”On September 29, Rashid, who was living with her mother at the time, went to the grocery store. On her way, she got a call from her nephew, who was frantic. “Men! They took her, They took Insiya.” My heart stopped, Rashid said.In the complaint filed with the police, she said that a few men dressed as municipality workers came and kidnapped Insiya. They beat up her mother and shot her sister with a tazer gun. One of the kidnappers, however, was caught thanks to an alert neighbour.“As far as I know, she’s in Mumbai with her father who she barely knows. He has said that if I will go to India he will have me arrested. He is a wealthy and powerful man and he easily buys people off. He has hired one of the best lawyers of The Netherlands to defend him. Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch government we are trying our utmost best to get Insiya back. Every day from morning until night I am working on this. I will not stop until I can hold my daughter again,” Nadia said. (All the incidents described in this story are as per the Facebook updates posted on Humans of Amsterdam.)

No TDS on monetary benefits of nuns and priests working for Christian organisations: Madras HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Madras High Court has made it clear that no tax can be deducted at source from the salaries and other monetary benefits given to nuns and priests working in various teaching institutions established and administered by the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and similar Christian organisations.’The high court was deciding upon a batch of 74 petitions seeking quashing of an order of Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Chennai, and consequential circular insisting on the recovery of tax at source (TDS) from nuns, fathers and priests. Justice TS Sivagnanam, in his order, said, “The Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax who was bound by the circulars issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CTBT) in 1977 exempting the missionaries from payment of tax, has ignored and issued the above circular (which) has to be definitely set aside.”The judge cited various Supreme Court decisions and said the Income Tax Department was duty bound to examine as to whether such income reaches the nuns and priests as their income. “…the revenue cannot dispute the fact that on account of vows taken by the nuns and priests, especially the vow of poverty, the income has to reach the congregation to which they belong. Therefore, without considering such aspect merely by referring to the fact that the salary is paid to the individuals on account of their personal skills appears to be applying an incorrect test.”As pointed out in Sital Das/Tirtha Das (cases), there may be obligations in other cases but what is required to be seen as the nature of obligation which alone is the decisive factor. If this obligation is taken into consideration, it is clear that by virtue of the precepts of Canon Law, the salaries cannot be treated as income in the hands of the priests and nuns,” the HC said.The judge, while referring to another judgment of the apex court, said, “It was held that unless they received salary, the question of payment of contribution towards the employees provident fund would not arise.” The judge said, “Revenue (department) has not been ableto point out as to the incorrectness of the circulars issued by the CBDT nor it has been demonstrated as to how and in what manner it is conflict with any decided case.” “In such circumstances, the circulars issued by the CBDT are binding upon the authorities…as long as these circulars and clarifications having not been withdrawn or modified, these have to be followed by the officers subordinate to the Central Board.”For all the above reasons, all the writ petitions are allowed and it is held that no tax can be deducted at source from the salaries and other monetary benefits effected to persons who are the members of the religious congregation and it would be sufficient if the head of the institution concerned certifies the names of the staff members, who were members of the religious body and the period during which they have served and the designation of the post,” the judge said.

Former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy on solar scam: ‘Charges on role wrong; committed no crime’

Kochi: Holding his ground on the solar panel scam, which had rocked Kerala during the Congress-led UDF rule, former chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday said that he had not committed any crime. “I have already rejected all the charges. I am fully confident that I have not committed any crime,” he said while deposing before a judicial commission probing charges in the solar panel scam, allegedly linked to his staff.

In his second deposition before the commission, headed by retired High Court judge Justice Sivarajan, the senior Congress leader claimed that all the charges levelled against him were legally proved wrong.

“Many things which had been said targeting me (in the solar scam) have already been proved wrong legally as also in the minds of the public,” he said during the cross-examination.

The commission had directed Chandy to be present for the cross-examination today.

He was cross-examined by the commission in January last in Thiruvananthapuram, when he was the Chief Minister.

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

During his deposition today, Chandy maintained that he had not interfered in the police probe into the case when he was Chief Minister.

Noting that no changes were made in the police team probing the case by the newly formed LDF government, which came to power seven months ago, Chandy said this suggested that police had been carrying out a free and fair probe even during UDF rule.

“The new government has not expressed any doubts about the approach of the probe team (appointed by the then UDF government),” the former Chief Minister said.

“I have not interfered in any stage of the investigation. In this case and other cases also. I have never done so. Free and fair investigation should be carried out in all investigations,” he said.

On being asked whether he had received telephone calls from a lawyer representing main accused (in solar scam) Saritha S Nair during the peak of the controversy, Chandy said he had not attended any of his calls.

The state government had appointed Justice Sivarajan to head the one-man commission on October 23, 2013, to probe the scam pertaining to alleged duping of investors by one Biju Radhakrishnan and his partner Saritha S Nair, who allegedly collected crores of rupees for a solar power project.

The two had allegedly canvassed the business by using top-level names, including that of Chandy.

While Saritha was granted bail after remaining behind bars for about nine months, Radhakrishnan is still in jail in connection with the alleged murder of his wife.

Chandy also rejected allegations by his former gunman Salim Raj that solar scam prime accused Saritha S Nair and the former CM used to talk to each other using his mobile phones.

Deposing before the panel, Salim Raj, a controversial police officer who was part of Chandy’s security, had alleged that a majority of calls from Saritha to his two phones were to talk to the then Chief Minister.

Chandy also rejected Saritha’s allegations that he had taken a bribe from her to set up solar projects, and said he had not taken bribe from anyone in his 50-year-long public life.

During her deposition before the panel, Saritha had alleged that she had paid a bribe of Rs 1.90 crore to Chandy through his personal aides to set up mega power projects in Kerala.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:51 IST

Delhi court appearances: Arvind Kejriwal, Vijay Mallya and more made appearances in 2016

New Delhi: The year saw trial courts here dealing with high-profile cases involving Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and liquor baron Vijay Mallya while the attack on JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar by men in black robes also made news.

The image of the judiciary was dented when a woman judge was trapped by CBI for allegedly taking bribe for a deal in which her lawyer husband was also arrested.

Kumar, who was slapped with sedition charge for taking part in a controversial event in JNU campus where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, was roughed up by advocates inside the Patiala House court complex, with the incident leaving a black spot as Delhi Police failed to produce the student leader unharmed in the court.

Besides Kumar and some other students, sedition charge was also invoked against former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani, exonerated in the 2001 Parliament attack case, who was arrested for organising an event where too alleged anti-India slogans were raised days after the JNU incident.

The CBI was caught in a peculiar situation after top bureaucrat B K Bansal committed suicide along with his son just a month before his retirement, blaming the agency in the suicide note for harassing the family during investigation in the corruption case against him.

As the case was being heard in the court, Bansal, Director General (Corporate Affairs), took the extreme step days after his wife and daughter also committed suicide following his arrest.

Mallya, who is in UK, was not spared by the judiciary and in a double whammy, two non-bailable warrants were issued against him, with a judge observing that “he neither has any regard for law, nor any intention to return to India.”

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Names of famous Bollywood celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan also cropped up in the Delhi courts, where singer and music composer Mika Singh too made his appearance in a criminal case filed against him by a doctor.

Besides this, the city courts also dealt with terror-related matters including ones related to Indian Mujahideen’s key operative Abdul Wahid Siddibapa and Khalistani Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, while several other suspects were arrested for their alleged links with ISIS.

While the Kejriwal government and Delhi Police were at loggerheads on various issues including appointment of state prosecutors, several AAP legislators faced cases of heinous crimes ranging from rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, threat to women, attempt to murder and abatement of suicide of woman party worker during the year.

Though Kejriwal made headlines at regular intervals for criminal defamation cases lodged against him by Union minister Arun Jaitley, BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri and Amit Sibal, son of Congress leader Kapil Sibal, the AAP government was left embarrassed when one of its ministers Sandeep Kumar was sent to two months in jail after a CD containing alleged sex scandal surfaced. Kumar was immediately expelled by AAP and removed from the government.

The AAP government was also pushed to the backfoot after CBI arrested and named in a charge sheet Kejriwal’s close aid and principal secretary Rajendra Kumar in a graft case.

While AAP leader Somnath Bharti was slapped with domestic violence case, another party leader Alka Lamba and assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel faced cases of assault.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal was also named in a charge sheet in a special court by the Anti-Corruption Branch in a case of alleged irregularities in recruitment in the women’s panel.

While AAP leaders made news from all the six trial courts of Patiala House, Tis Hazari, Karkardooma, Dwarka, Saket and Rohini, Congress too had anxious moments when former IAF chief S P Tyagi, arrested in connection with the Rs 450 crore VVIP chopper bribery case, sought to drag the Prime Minister’s Office for the Rs 3,600 crore deal finalised in 2010.

BJP leader and former junior minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Dilip Ray, was also summoned as accused in a coal scam case.

Congress continued to battle in Patiala House Court the National Herald case with its top leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi securing a minor relief of exemption from personal appearance, but BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who is the complainant in the case, left no stone unturned as he resorted to all legal tactics.

The ghost of coal block allocation scam continued to haunt the Congress with some of its leaders like Naveen Jindal, Dasari Narayan Rao and Vijay Darda facing the heat of the special court, which concluded two cases of Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited and Rathi Steel and Power Ltd (RSPL) by convicting all accused awarding varying jail terms.

Congress also had an unpleasant moment when its 70-year-old leader from northeast, P K Thungon, was held guilty in a 22-year-old graft case and awarded three-and-a half year imprisonment.

Similar was the case of former Haryana Speaker and INLD leader Satbir Singh Kadian, who was awarded the maximum sentence of seven years in a 20-year-old Indian Farmers FertilisersIFFCO graft case.

Other bigwigs who had a tough time in various trial courts included DMK leader and former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his businessman brother Kalanithi Maran who were named in a charge sheet in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.

The recent amendment in the law allowing trial of children between 16-18 years as adults in cases of heinous offences was also heard by the court after a teenager allegedly ran over a 32-year-old marketing executive while rashly driving his father’s Mercedes.

Crime against women saw filmmaker of “Peepli Live” fame Mahmood Farooqui going to jail for seven years for raping a US national and death sentence to two killers — Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla — in the infamous Jigisha Ghosh murder case of 2009.

The trial court in Tis Hazari delivered life sentence till death to five vagabonds for raping a Danish national in 2014, with the judge making a hard-hitting observation that the incident brought “disrepute” and “shame” to the country. Even as decorated environmentalist and academician R K Pachauri struggled to defend himself in sexual harassment case.

The year-end saw the contentious demonetisation issue reaching the doors of the court as two Axis Bank managers and another person being arrested for their alleged role in a money laundering probe into purported illegal conversion of demonetised notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 16:26 IST

Sheena Bora murder case: Indrani denied interim bail, but can attend post-death rituals of father

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The special CBI court in Mumbai on Thursday rejected the interim bail application of Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, for conducting post-death rituals of her father in Assam. The court however allowed her to attend rituals anywhere in Mumbai, including at her residence, on December 27.Indrani’s father Upendra Bora died on December 15. Special judge HS Mahajan said Indrani shall be taken out of the Byculla jail in Mumbai in the morning under a police escort and brought back to jail by 7 PM. She shall not speak to the media during this time, the judge said.Indrani had sought interim bail for visiting Assam for the rituals, but CBI opposed her request. The agency produced an e-mail sent by Indrani’s son Mikhail to CBI, saying he did not want her to visit Guwahati. Mikhail, an important witness in the case, said in the mail that his grandfather was bed-ridden for the past one year and he was looking after both his grandparents for the last three years without any financial and psychological support from Indrani.
ALSO READ Sheena Bora murder case: Peter was part of conspiracy from start, says CBIHis grandparents had legally adopted him as their son and he has already commenced the post-death rituals, he said. “Indrani has been accused of murdering my elder sister Sheena Bora and ruining my family. Therefore it is my utmost plea 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 post-death rituals of my grandfather,” Mikhail said.CBI also said that Indrani’s intention was to influence prosecution witnesses and there was also a possibility that she might try to escape from custody. Indrani’s lawyer then said she may be allowed to conduct the rituals in Mumbai.

Thane judge asks cops to be child-friendly in dealing with juveniles

Wed, 21 Dec 2016-08:04pm , Thane , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior judge from Thane district has asked police officials to be “child-friendly” in dealing with cases involving juveniles.Principal District Judge S M Gavhane inaugurated a training programme for appointed child welfare officers and special child welfare police department officials in Thane on Tuesday.”Be child-friendly in dealing with cases involving juveniles,” Gavhane said at the programme, organised by the District Legal Aid Services Authority (DSLA).Gavhane also asked the officials to work within the frame work of law and ensure that there was no deviation of any kind. COR

Cyrus Mistry’s charges of weak governance mischievous: Tata Sons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tata Sons on Wednesday rebutted ousted chairman Cyrus P Mistry’s allegations of weak corporate governance at India’s largest conglomerate, calling it amalgam of half-truths and untruths.Reached for comments on Mistry’s claim in a petition before National Company Law Tribunal that the governance framework at Tata Sons is weak, a Tata Sons spokesperson expressed “surprise” at the assertion.”It is mischievous on the part of any Tata Sons executive to suggest the lack of a strong governance framework at Tata Sons, more so someone who has been associated with the company as a director since 2006. One can only call these allegations as an amalgam of half-truths and untruths,” he said.Stating that a strong governance framework exists at Tata Sons, the spokesperson said: “In line with the Tata Group’s ethos, Tata Sons has always gone over and beyond the requirement of the law on matters of corporate governance. In fact, over the years we have reinforced this formal governance framework.” He added that in 2012-13, the Tata Sons board and Mistry had given their explicit approval to an amended governance framework involving Tata Trusts and Tata Sons.”Mr Mistry willingly participated in this process and his entire family shareholding in Tata Sons voted upon to effect these amendments,” he said. Tata Sons were advised on this by Justice BN Srikrishna and former Attorney General of Maharashtra Darius Khambatta and the spokesperson said Mistry was himself present in several meetings on this matter. “We reiterate Mr Cyrus Mistry and his family holdings in 2013 had fully supported and approved the governance framework that is embodied in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons,” he added.Mistry, who was abruptly removed as chairman of Tata Group’s holding company on October 24, yesterday filed a petition before NCLT seeking replacement of Tata Son’s current board and appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as non-executive chairman. In a statement yesterday, Tata Sons had reiterated that it has followed the highest standards of corporate governance in its operations and views the petition filed by Mistry’s companies as an unfortunate outcome of the situation arising from his complete disregard of the ethos of the Tata Group and Jamsetji Tata.Despite Mistry’s recent assertions that it is not a personal issue, it is evident that it always has been for him a personal issue which reflects his deep animosity towards Ratan N Tata, said the statement.

AgustaWestland scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi seeks bail from special CBI court

New Delhi:  Former IAF chief SP Tyagi  on Wednesday sought bail from a special court on the ground that there was no apprehension of him fleeing from justice as all evidences in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case were documentary in nature and have already been seized by the CBI.

“Please let me (Tyagi) go home,” Tyagi’s counsel urged before the Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar who put up the matter for further hearing on 23 December.

The court heard the arguments from the counsel of Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, all three accused in the case, and adjourned the matter after the probe agency said it needed time to argue on the bail pleas.

While seeking relief, Tyagi’s advocate Maneka Guruswamy said “my client cannot languish in jail for an indefinite period for no reason. He has voluntarily cooperated to the best of his abilities. My client has appeared on every date (when he was) summoned by CBI and even without the summons.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

All evidences are documentary in nature and already in the custody of CBI.”

She also told the court that Italy’s top court has ordered retrial of ex-Finmeccanica executives in the chopper scam case which makes CBI’s stand weak in the current case.

“Even his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and her mother were called by the probe agency and interrogated even before his arrest,” the counsel said.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, appearing for Khaitan, also sought the relief claiming that the “allegations against me (Khaitan) is of money trail and that part is already being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). I cannot be put in jail twice for the same offence… They (CBI) have encroached my personal liberty for nothing.”

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel too sought bail, saying “if granted the relief, my client will not try to flee from the justice and tamper with the evidences.”

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to the judicial custody till 30 December.

71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on 9 December by the agency in connection with the case. The accused have alleged that the “CBI was trying to extract the confession using force”.

The defence counsel also claimed that there was no apprehension of them fleeing from the justice or tampering with evidence.

“My client is a 72-year-old decorated war hero. He suffers from heart and eye diseases and several other ailments. He has deep roots in the society after 44 years of distinguished career,” SP Tyagi’s counsel said.

The case relates to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”. It had submitted that “one part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land.”

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

CBI had alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position” and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made huge investments in land and other properties and had not disclosed the source his income.

It was also alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and how several firms through which the money travelled came into existence, while Sanjeev was known to the alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:17 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.

Ajay Chautala seeks transfer of DA case to another court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>INLD leader Ajay Chautala, who is serving a 10-year jail term in a teachers’ recruitment scam case, on Monday approached a Delhi court seeking transfer of a disproportionate assets case against him to another court.Chautala claimed he apprehends he would not get a fair trial if his case is continued to be tried in the court presided by a special CBI judge, raising questions about the conduct of the presiding officer.District Judge Ravinder Kaur after hearing the arguments on the transfer petition fixed the matter for January 6, 2017. Advocate Vaibhavi Sharma, who appeared for Chautala, said “Reasonable apprehensions exists with the applicant/accused that he would not get a fair trial and a fair opportunity to defend himself and prove his innocence” incase the trial is continued in the present case before the special judge.A similar transfer plea of co-accused Abhimanyu Singh is also pending before the district judge.The court is currently recording evidence in the DA case in which Ajay, son of former Haryana Chief Minister and INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala, are facing trial.Two other similar cases are pending before it against his brother Abhay and their father. The cases were filed on a complaint by Haryana Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala.Ajay is serving 10-year imprisonment awarded in January 2013 by another CBI court in the 1999-2000 junior basic trained (JBT) teachers recruitment scam.O P Chautala was also sent to 10 years in jail in the JBT case. The Supreme Court had dismissed the appeals of Chautala and Ajay and had upheld their jail term.CBI had chargesheeted Ajay in 2010 indicting him for possessing assets exceeding his legal income by 339.27 per cent. His legal income between May 1993 and May 2006 was Rs 8.17 crore, but had acquired assets worth Rs 27.7 crore, it had alleged.All the charges have been denied by Chautala and his sons.

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

Justice JS Khehar appointed 44th Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee

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

Indiscipline in armed forces to be viewed ‘seriously’: SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indiscipline on part of security force personnel must be “viewed seriously” and deserting work by disobeying orders of superior officers is an act of “gross misconduct”, the Supreme Court has ruled.A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur also said that past conduct of a delinquent employee can be taken into consideration while imposing a penalty on him.The court’s remarks came as it dealt with a plea filed by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) against the Delhi High Court’s August 2014 judgement directing reinstatement of a constable, Abrar Ali, who was dismissed from service due to his alleged acts of indiscipline and misconduct.In its verdict, the apex court held that though Ali was found guilty of deserting the force for a period of five days and not improving his conduct in spite of penalties imposed on him on three earlier occasions, the penalty of dismissal from service is “excessive and harsh” and “in our view, the penalty of compulsory retirement would meet the ends of justice”.The bench, which also comprised Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said “indiscipline on the part of a member of an armed force has to be viewed seriously. It is clear that the respondent (Ali) had intentionally disobeyed the orders of his superiors and deserted the force for a period of 5 days. Such desertion is an act of gross misconduct and the respondent deserves to be punished suitably.”The bench directed that Ali shall be entitled for notional continuity of service till the date of completion of minimum service required to make him eligible for pension but he will not be entitled for payment of salary and allowances for that period.Ali was appointed as a constable in CISF in September 1990 and in October 1999, an inquiry was proposed against him under the CISF Rules for allegations of misconduct and misbehaviour.According to the charges, he was posted at CISF unit in Dhanbad when he had disobeyed the orders of his seniors and was habitual of committing indiscipline. In November 2000, Commandant of CISF unit in Dhanbad held him guilty of all the charges levelled against him and he was ordered to be dismissed from service.Ali then filed an appeal to the Deputy Inspector General of CISF. While he was exonerated of the charges of maligning the image of the force, his appeal was rejected in 2001.After his revision plea against the order was dismissed by the Inspector General of CISF, Ali had approached the Delhi High Court which allowed his plea and asked CISF to reinstate him as constable with notional seniority in his rank.

Naval chief Sunil Lanba to visit Japan today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, is on an official visit to Japan on Monday.The visit aims to consolidate existing Maritime Cooperation initiatives as well as explore new avenues. The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilisational ties.India’s earliest documented direct contact with Japan was with the Todaiji Temple in Nara, where the consecration or eye-opening of the towering statue of Lord Buddha was performed by an Indian monk, Bodhisena, in 752 AD.In contemporary times, among prominent Indians associated with Japan were Swami Vivekananda, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, JRD Tata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Judge Radha Binod Pal. The Japan-India Association was set up in 1903, and is today the oldest international friendship body in Japan.Defence cooperation between India and Japan is robust and is primarily focused towards Maritime Cooperation. Our defence cooperation was institutionalised with commencement of the India-Japan Comprehensive Security Dialogue which was initiated in 2001.Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) has participated in the MALABAR exercise in 2007, 2009, 2014 prior to being included as a regular member in the exercise since 2015. JMSDF participated in MALABAR 15 and 16 held in the Bay of Bengal and Western Pacific respectively.In 2014, Japan has also been included as an observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a Maritime Cooperation construct conceptualised and pioneered by Indian Navy in 2008.Both navies also engage in Navy to Navy Staff Talks which commenced in 2008. The seventh Navy to Navy Staff Talks are scheduled to be held in 2017.JDS Matsuyuki participated in the International Fleet Review 2016 held at Visakhapatnam. The Chief of Staff of the JMSDF, Admiral Tomihisa Takei, will also attend the review. Indian Navy too participated in the International Fleet Review conducted by the JMSDF in October 15 at Sagami Bay, Yokosuka, Japan. JMSDF for the first time participated in the Admiral’s Cup Sailing Regatta conducted by the Indian Navy in 2016 at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala from December 5-11.Warships of both countries regularly visit each other’s ports.India and Japan share similar maritime challenges such as long coastline, extensive EEZ, coastal security, large coastal shipping and fishing fleet, wherein both navies have opportunities to learn from each other?s experiences. In addition common ground exists for cooperation on a number of issues common to both navies.During the visit, Admiral Sunil Lanba is scheduled to hold discussions with Chief of Staff, JMSDF, Minister of State for Defence, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff besides other Senior Dignitaries and Naval Officers.

Expelled AIADMK MP moves SC for CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death

Sun, 18 Dec 2016-07:00pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa has moved the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation by an apex court judge into the death of J Jayalalithaa.In her petition, Pushpa has 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”. The Rajya Sabha MP has sought directions to the Centre, the Tamil Nadu government and Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, to disclose details of her health report and treatment in a sealed cover to the apex court.A similar plea was filed this week in the apex court by Tamil Nadu Telugu Yuva Sakthi claiming that doubts have been raised over the circumstances of the AIADMK leader’s death and her medical reports needed to be examined by experts.

Kerala: 13 RSS workers found guilty in 2008 murder of CPI(M) activist

Sat, 17 Dec 2016-02:04pm , Thiruvananthapuram , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Additional Sessions Court in Thiruvananthapuram postponed the announcement of quantum of punishment in the 2008 case of DYFI leader Vishnu’s murder.The court had on Friday found 13 RSS activists guilty in the murder of the local CPI(M) worker on April 1, 2008. Additional Sessions Court judge TK Unnimol will pronounce the quantum of sentence on December 19.The case relates to the murder of Vishnu at Kaithamukku. According to the prosecution, the accused armed with swords, iron rods and other weapons attacked Vishnu and killed him. There were a total of 16 accused in the case. While one accused died in 2008, another was acquitted by the court on Friday and one is absconding. Charges against the accused include that of murder, conspiracy and unlawful assembly.

Demonetization: Supreme Court says it will not ‘interfere’ in govt’s decision

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Chief Justice of India signed off on his last working day by questioning the constitutional validity of the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and the legality of the implemented policies as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.A three-judge bench comprising of the chief justice along with Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud refused to “interfere” underlining that these were “matters of fiscal policies” and declined to issue any interim direction. The top court placed their faith in the government’s assurances that things would look up at the end of the 50th day on December 31. The apex court also stayed all ongoing petitions in the various high courts across the country and transferred them to a five-judge constitutional bench.The SC’s order came in response to a petition filed on November 10, against the government’s November 8 announcement of demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Two petitions were filed by Delhi-based lawyers Vivek Narayan Sharma and Sangam Lal Pandey, while two others were filed by individuals, S Muthukumar and Adil Alvi. All petitioners, seeking a stay on demonetization, had alleged that the sudden decision created chaos and harassment to the public at large.The top court further framed questions on law after extensively hearing the matter by understanding the matter from a legal and political point of view from the Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi and by hearing the pains suffered by the common man from advocate Kapil Sibal representing the petitioners who filed the PIL.Though there is no immediate relief to the common man, the court has however started a debate on the constitutionality of passing such notifications. The bench touched upon the various issues the common man was plagued with and made observations.Withdrawal limitThe denial of right to withdraw the prescribed amount of Rs 24,000 per week despite a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notification permitting the same was a cause of serious concern, the bench observed. Responding to complaints that banks are refusing to pay full prescribed amount on the ground of non-availability of enough volume of legal tender currency, it said the government was obliged to ensure that “its commitment made under the said notification is implemented without any exception.”Accepting the government’s claim that the old demonetized notes will be replaced by new legal tender notes in the form of Rs 500 and Rs 2000 progressively in right earnest, the court directed the authorities to fulfill their commitment, and to review the decision periodically, taking necessary corrective measures.Issue of secrecyThe top court agreed that the Centre’s call to maintain absolute secrecy before declaring Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes illegal was imperative to “unearth the black money or unaccounted money and to dry up the terror fund and defeat the attempt of circulation of large-scale counterfeit currency.”The bench accepted that to maintain secrecy, new currency notes could not be printed well in advance.District & co-op banksThe Bench accepted the Centre’s assurance that the RBI would credit the entire amount offered by the District Cooperative Banks for exchange after due verification in the form of demonetized notes, with the commensurate amount of legal tender notes.Exemption periodThe apex court hoped that the government would be “sensitive” to the needs of the common man observing that the decision to extend the exemption period to use demonetized notes at specified counters, even in case of emergency situation like hospitalization, travel by rail or air etc. was best left to the government. The Bench advised the government to take a “sympathetic” approach to the exemption of using the demonetized currency for emergencies.

Sahara-Birla raids: Prashant Bhushan irks SC by seeking recusal of Justice Khehar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday termed as “most unfair” the plea of lawyer Prashant Bhushan seeking recusal of senior-most judge Justice JS Khehar from hearing a PIL seeking an SIT probe into alleged recovery of documents in Income Tax raids on two business houses, Sahara and Birla, in 2012.The PIL makes bribery allegations against politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister. The court had on Wednesday questioned Bhushan whether aspersions could be cast against the prime minister without placing sufficient evidence. “You are talking about the highest court of the country. Do you think we can succumb to any pressure?” a bench comprising Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra said.The court was irked when Bhushan, representing NGO Common Cause which has filed PIL, sought recusal of Justice Khehar, whose name has been recommended by outgoing Chief Justice TS Thakur as his successor.”Though I have no doubt about the integrity, it is my duty, an unpleasant duty, as an officer of the court (to say) that this matter be heard by some other bench on reopening (after winter vacation),” Bhushan said, apparently hinting at the pendency of approval by the executive designating Justice Khehar as the next CJI.”Why should you say all this? it’s very unfair. You appeared twice, thrice before us but you didn’t say anything. Today you are saying things” the bench remarked. “If you had any problem you should have pointed out. It is very, very unfair. You are talking about the highest court. You are doubting a Constitutional functionary. Not fair,” the bench said.The top court bench also questioned the NGO and Bhushan for coming out with a plea without sufficient material and raising serious allegations against the highest constitutional functionary of the country.”This is the cheapest tactics and has never been done in the Supreme Court,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for centre, said adding that “This is more unfortunate as has been done in a PIL.”The bench, which was visibly upset, offered two solutions to AG and Bhushan saying either this matter be sent to the CJI for hearing by another bench or let the hearing be deferred to January till after the winter break. “I will agree with the second option,” Rohatgi said. Bhushan also agreed to the suggestion and said he will file a detailed affidavit in the matter.The apex court then deferred the hearing to January 11, 2017. The apex court had on December 14 made it clear that it is not going to entertain the plea of the NGO seeking SIT probe into alleged recovery of documents by the IT department in connection with the raids on two business houses unless it comes out with firm and relevant material. The apex court had said there was difficulty in going into the petition which deals with high functionaries as it was not supported by even smallest material.The NGO had moved an application seeking constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe “incriminating” evidence and details of “unaccounted” cash recovered allegedly during the raids by the Income Tax department and CBI on the two companies in 2013-2014. The NGO had alleged that the documents seized by CBI in its search operation in Mumbai reportedly revealed massive bribery of politicians and officials of various ministries over several years. The bench had said it does not want to keep the matter pending and asked the NGO to come out with firm material on the matter in two days.When Bhushan said the court was forcing him to bring the relevant material within two days, the bench had said, “it is not unreasonable as you are just casting aspersions”. The bench, while stressing on the need for relevant material, had said, “Give us any smallest material, we will deal with it. We have already told you that you are talking about conversation about persons on telephone. These are nothing. You are dealing with high functionaries.”On November 25, the top court had refused to go into the NGO’s plea seeking probe into alleged recovery of documents by the IT department in connection with raids on the two business houses here in 2013-14 which purportedly showed computerised inventories containing designations of top people having received money. The application had claimed that “actionable evidence” gathered during the raids on both the groups was given a “quiet burial” by IT department and CBI.

Cauvery row: Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till Jan 4

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the interim order of court on Cauvery Water Disputes would continue till January 4, 2017 and Karnataka would have to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu. Earlier on December 9, the top court upheld its constitutional power and right to hear appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal final award in 2007.A three-judge Bench headed by Supreme Court Justice Dipak Misra rejected the Centre’s stand that the apex court had no jurisdiction to hear the Cauvery river dispute. The Centre had argued that the parliamentary law of Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956 coupled with Article 262 (2) of the Indian Constitution excluded the Supreme Court from hearing or deciding any appeals against the Cauvery Tribunal’s decision. The Centre claimed the tribunal award was final.The Centre said it was left to the government to frame a scheme for implementation of the tribunal award, and the scheme, once prepared, would be placed before both Houses of the Parliament for approval.The tribunal in its final award had determined the usable quantum of water of the Cauvery at 740 tmcft. Karnataka is entitled to 270 tmcft, Tamil Nadu to 419 tmcft, Kerala 30 tmcft, Puducherry 7 tmcft, and 14 tmcft is meant for environmental purposes, the tribunal had said.All three states have opposed the Centre’s stand, contending that a parliamentary law cannot stop the Supreme Court from exercising its constitutional power to hear appeals.The bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar had on October 19 reserved its order on maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT).In its review petition, Karnataka said “grave miscarriage of justice” has been caused to it pursuant to the three apex court orders of September 20, 27 and 30, by which it was directed to release 6000 cusecs of water till October 6 and the Centre was to constitute the Board by October 4.

Hike in salaries of Supreme Court, High Court judges expected soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court and high court judges may soon get a fatter pay packet as the government is likely to bring a bill in this regard in the next session of Parliament. Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had recently written to the government seeking a hike in salaries of Supreme Court and high court judges.Sources in the government said the issue is under active consideration and a bill to amend The High Court and the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Act may come up in the Budget session of Parliament which may begin in the first week of February next.While the sources refused to share details of the quantum of hike sought by the CJI, they said to affect the pay hike, the Act has to amended. As the Winter session of Parliament is coming to an end on Friday, they said the bill would now come up in the Budget session. A Supreme Court judge at present gets Rs 1.5 lakh a month in hand after all deductions from salary and allowances. The CJI gets a higher amount than this, while the judges of the high court get a lesser amount. This amount does not include the rent-free residences provided to the judges while they are in service.After the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, the matter was already under the consideration of the government.

India court bans liquor shops on highways

India’s top court bans liquor shops along highways in a bid to curb drink driving and accidents.

IAF officers can’t grow beard on religious grounds: SC dismisses two Muslim men’s pleas

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday held that personnel working in the Indian Air Force cannot sport a beard based on religious grounds.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said that the Centre’s decision to prohibit personnel of a particular community from sporting beard does not infringe upon the fundamental rights.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The bench also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao dismissed the pleas filed by two Muslim personnel of IAF who had challenged the dismissal of their pleas by the Delhi High Court.

The apex court verdict came on two petitions filed separately by two personnel, Mohammed Zubair and Ansari Aaftab Ahmed, challenging the IAF authorities’ “confidential” order dated 24 February, 2003, prohibiting Muslim personnel from sporting a beard.

Zubair in his petition had contended that the order was in contravention of fundamental fights of the citizen and also a government letter issued through the Ministry of Home Affairs on 18 July,1990.

The said letter of the home minister permitted the uniformed Muslim/Sikh personnel to sport beard on religious grounds, provided prior permission was sought from the authorities, he said.

The Centre had said that the IAF order was in the interest of cohesiveness in a combat force and it also has security implications.

It had said that these policies are secular in character and have not been framed to govern the conduct of air force personnel of any particular religion.

The Centre has earlier told the court that IAF is undoubtedly a secular force having due regard for all religions and it is imperative that its personnel are guided by a sense of brotherhood without any distinction of caste, creed, colour or religion.

The petitioners had challenged the IAF order by way of a writ petition before the Delhi High Court and a single judge, citing certain Muslim religious texts, took the view that sporting beard was not compulsory and hence dismissed the plea.

They then approached a division bench which had also concurred with the order of the single judge and dismissed the plea following which the appeals were filed in the apex court.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 15:31 IST

IAF officers can’t grow beard on religious grounds: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday held that personnel working in the Indian Air Force cannot sport a beard based on religious grounds.A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said that the Centre’s decision to prohibit personnel of a particular community from sporting beard does not infringe upon the fundamental rights.The bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao dismissed the pleas filed by two Muslim personnel of IAF who had challenged the dismissal of their pleas by the Delhi High Court.The apex court verdict came on two petitions filed separately by two personnel, Mohammed Zubair and Ansari Aaftab Ahmed, challenging the IAF authorities’ “confidential” order dated February 24, 2003, prohibiting Muslim personnel from sporting a beard.Zubair in his petition had contended that the order was in contravention of fundamental fights of the citizen and also a government letter issued through the Ministry of Home on July 18,1990.The said letter of the home minister permitted the uniformed Muslim/Sikh personnel to sport beard on religious grounds, provided prior permission was sought from the authorities, he said.The Centre had said that the IAF order was in the interest of cohesiveness in a combat force and it also has security implications.It had said that these policies are secular in character and have not been framed to govern the conduct of air force personnel of any particular religion.The Centre has earlier told the court that IAF is undoubtedly a secular force having due regard for all religions and it is imperative that its personnel are guided by a sense of brotherhood without any distinction of caste, creed, colour or religion.The petitioners had challenged the IAF order by way of a writ petition before the Delhi High Court and a single judge, citing certain Muslim religious texts, took the view that sporting beard was not compulsory and hence dismissed the plea.They then approached a division bench which had also concurred with the order of the single judge and dismissed the plea following which the appeals were filed in the apex court.

Uphaar fire case: Supreme Court reserves order on pleas seeking review of 2015 verdict

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on pleas of CBI and the victims’ body seeking review of the 2015 verdict in the Uphaar fire tragedy case asking real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal to serve a two-year jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each as fine. The probe agency and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) have sought review of the apex court verdict, delivered on August 19, 2015, sending Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months. The convicts have already paid the fine.A three-judge bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel reserved the judgement on the review pleas after hearing two-hour-long arguments, advanced by counsel for CBI, AVUT and Ansal brothers. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for CBI, said the fines are imposed additionally and they cannot substitute “substantive” jail term awarded to convicts in a case. “Fine in lieu of conviction is alien in criminal jurisprudence,” he said, noting that while hearing the appeals against the high court verdict, the apex court had ordered “substantive conviction” by saying that the fine imposed can be “only be additional”.”Enhancement of sentence, subject to fine, is erroneous in law,” Salve said.Taking note of the submission, the bench said, “If you (Salve) are right in the first point we will not have to go any further.” Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Ansal brothers, said the core issue was the sentence which comprised both jail term and fine. “This long saga must come to an end. Four more months of jail term will not make much difference,” he said.Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for AVUT, said that the waiver of remaining jail term on payment of fines was not justified. 59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997. Over 100 were also injured in the subsequent stampede.

Nirbhaya gangrape: SC to resume hearing in appeals filed by four death convicts today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear appeals filed by the December 16 gangrape convicts, challenging a Delhi High Court order that ordered four of them to the gallows considering ‘the case rarest of rare’.The apex court is hearing the appeals filed by the four convicts – Mukesh, Pawan, Akshay and Vijay – on Monday’s and Friday’s every week.Last Monday, the Supreme Court declined the request by two amicus curiae – senior counsel Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay R Hegde – to withdraw from assisting the court in the hearing of the appeals by the convicts in the 16 December Delhi gangrape case.Asking both to continue assisting the court in the hearing of the appeals by the four accused convicted and sentenced to death, the three judge apex court bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan said: “We can appreciate the anguish expressed by the learned amici curiae.Six people gangraped a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in a moving bus and beat her and her male friend. After violently raping and attacking her, they threw the girl outside the vehicle, along with her male friend. The girl succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012. The incident led to large scale protests across the country, forcing the government of the day to make strict and punitive laws related to harassment of women.One of the accused Ram Singh, 33, hanged himself in prison, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August and will serve the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.Meanwhile, on December 3, Amicus Curiae Sanjay Hegde questioned the evidence produced by the prosecution in the Nirbhaya gangrape case.In a special hearing, Hegde came out with certain points putting a question on the merit of evidence. Hegde said that one of the convicts, Mukesh, was not with the prime culprit Ram Singh when the offence was committed. He further added that mobile locations of Mukesh and Ram Singh were found to be different on the night the offence took place.However, Delhi Police lawyer Siddhartha Luthra said they have evidence of a dying declaration, forensic evidence with regard to DNA blood samples and finger prints. He said that the evidence establishes the fact of the alleged persons’ involvement.Luthra further said there was no element of tutoring in the case, as was the point made by one of the defence lawyers.

National anthem: Can the Supreme Court also ask for CCTVs in movie theatres to ensure compliance?

Twelve persons, including two women, were detained by police for not standing up while the national anthem was in progress at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, said a report. That was a day after eight youths were beaten up in a Chennai cinema hall for not standing up during the anthem.

These are the first such instances since a recent Supreme Court interim order made it mandatory to play the national anthem in theatres before movies are screened. The Kerala and Tamil Nadu incidents would surely help to instill fear in the minds of anyone at a public place listening to the anthem either by choice or by accident. These would offer them one more valid reason to display their patriotism besides the feeling of patriotism itself — the fear of being prosecuted.

The Chennai incident gives us hope of the emergence of a new breed of vigilantes, let’s call this group, national anthem vigilantes. Remember those days, when self-appointed gaurakshaks went berserk, days when people were beaten up at several places for either eating beef or ‘harming’ the cow. Even tanners who made a modest living skinning abandoned dead cow carcasses weren’t spared. That uncomfortable phase prevailed for a while and of late one doesn’t hear much about cow vigilantes.

Can patriotism be checked? AFPCan patriotism be checked? AFP

Can patriotism be checked? AFP

But, that void will now be filled by a different kind of vigilantes. Here too, the mode of employment is self-appointment. The job profile is to guard the nationalist cause. The mandate is to beat up people who are found (to the discretionary power of vigilantes) to disrespect the national anthem. The places of their postings are theatres and international film festival venues. They have begun the job self-appointing themselves for the role after the Supreme Court order. It does not matter that you are at the air-conditioned, dark hall to unwind after a hectic week of work to watch that long-awaited film or even to watch your favorite adult movie, you are supposed to stand up first and remember your nationalist commitments.

Enjoyment later, patriotism first.

If not, you are likely to get heckled, abused and manhandled by the new breed of vigilantes. That’s what happened in Chennai when youths were assaulted for not standing up during the national anthem and even taking selfies. Let’s get one thing clear. There is no question about how we all should respect the mother nation, not just the anthem — all ideals it stands for. If the youths in question were taking selfies with the intention of insulting the nation, their action is questionable.

But, come on, they were students, who came for a movie — not to attend a republic day parade. Why in the world should someone be forced to show display of patriotism in a theatre of all places? Or, why only in theater, shouldn’t this be forced on people on bus stands, railway stations, offices and even bars (Why not?). If this brings on the true patriot in every Indian, shouldn’t this be done first in the august house of Parliament and state assemblies at the beginning of every day of Parliament session, where public representatives often behave worse than street thugs? But, then of course, there is a court order for cinema theaters. And you must follow the rule. No questions asked. But, of course, questions will keep coming. Questions that have been already asked and questions that will be asked again, till answers come. Here goes some of them.

One, should the feeling of patriotism come from within or forced upon by someone else? Should one do it fearing the crowd around? Two, how do citizen or police measure the feeling of patriotism in his fellow citizen? Three, how different is display of patriotism from the feeling of patriotism? Four, how does one decide the show of display is indeed a display of patriotism or a dishonest action? For instance, is someone technically standing up in a theater during the national anthem but makes a face, would they still be tagged as an honest patriot? And, how on earth would the vigilantes or police standing around him even know that he is making a face unless then cease to display their respect to the anthem and start looking at the subject in question? Unless a movie theatre fixes CCTVs all around the hall that capture the faces during the anthem and an ethics committee in theatres inspects the footage during the movie so that the fake patriots can be booked by the end of the show, implementing this rule isn’t possible.

Can we, thus, conclude that checking patriotism isn’t an easy task unless vigilantes turn out to be the investigators, the judge and the executioners? Last month, there was an incident reported from Goa where a wheelchair-bound man who couldn’t rise up during the national anthem was reportedly attacked at a multiplex. The Supreme Court later clarified that the disabled doesn’t need to stand up and the doors needn’t be bolted.

But, the Supreme Court order to make the national anthem mandatory alone is sufficient to embolden the self-appointed guardians of national anthem in cinema theaters. The Supreme Court order, though an interim one, lacked logic. Make it mandatory to respect the national anthem wouldn’t alone safe guard the symbols the constitution bestows respect. If Supreme Court is so determined to force patriotism on citizens, shouldn’t it also ask zoos in the country take out peacocks and tigers (national bird and animal) out of their confinements too. Aren’t we insulting the national symbols by putting them in cage?

Like mentioned earlier, as the next step, to ensure theaters do follow the rule, the Supreme Court should also ask theater owners to install CCTV cameras in all theaters and constitution of an ethics committee to ensure movie-goers pay real respect to national anthem. If these measures aren’t possible, the other way is to simply let the citizen use his individual freedom and discretion to fulfill his moral and constitutional responsibilities to the motherland.

Within us, each of us cherish being an Indian and feel lucky to be born here. Fear of prosecution shouldn’t necessarily be the motivating reason to bow to the mother and feeling of patriotism and fear of being watched and prosecuted shouldn’t come in the same breath.

Makes sense my Lord?

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 11:53 IST

Cauvery row: ‘Jayalalithaa’s efforts have been rewarded by SC,’ says TN PWD Principal Secretary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Supreme Court upholding the maintainability of appeals filed by states including Tamil Nadu against a 2007 tribunal verdict on Cauvery water sharing, the state government said on Saturday it was “grand victory for the untiring efforts” of former chief minister Jayalalithaa.PWD Principal Secretary SK Prabakar said the water dispute had been going on for a long time between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and recalled that the two states besides Kerala had earlier moved the apex court against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal on sharing the river water. He recalled the efforts by Jayalalithaa on the Cauvery issue, including “waging a legal battle” to get the 2007 final award published in a Central gazette in 2013, thus “upholding Tamil Nadu’s rights”.Her government had moved the apex court again in August, seeking direction to Karnataka to release Tamil Nadu’s share of water, following which it gave regular directions to the upper riparian state on this matter, he said. “Today, a three-judge bench had held all appeals maintainable, while holding that its interim order on releasing 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu continues till further orders,” he said in a statement. “This is a grand victory to the untiring efforts of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (Jayalalitha),” he added.
ALSO READ Cauvery water dispute: SC upholds maintainability of appeals by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, KeralaThe three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra had said all appeals filed by the south Indian states against the tribunal’s award were maintainable, though the Centre had asserted that the apex court had no jurisdiction to hear appeals against the award of the tribunal. “We hold all the appeals maintainable. Interim order to continue. List the matter for further hearing on December 15,” the three-judge bench had said.On October 18, the apex court had directed Karnataka to keep supplying Tamil Nadu with 2,000 cusecs of water till further orders. DMK welcomed the apex court holding that its interim order on releasing 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu will continue and expressed happiness over Supreme Court saying that the appeals against the 2007 verdict were maintainable. Party Treasurer and Tamil Nadu Opposition Leader MK Stalin urged the state government to press the Centre on immediately constituting the Cauvery Management Board.

Demonetisation: SC soughts Centre’s response on whether district cooperative banks can be allowed deposits in demonetised notes.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre’s response on issues like whether district cooperative banks could be allowed to accept deposits in demonetised notes with some stringent regulations and why banks are unable to allow minimum weekly withdrawals of Rs 24,000 to customers.

The hearing, in which the Centre accused some advocates of politicising the issue in the garb of the public interest litigation, also witnessed the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur expressing dismay over lawyers breaching decorum of the court by out-shouting each other.

While the high-decibel hearing was on, the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said though demonetisation has been carried with long term beneficial aims, its immediate concern was to ease the inconvenience of the people and asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to apprise it on 14 December on issues relating to district cooperative banks and the non-adherence to fixed weekly withdrawal limits by the banks.

Further the bench said it would like to know the government’s stand on the demand for extending the order for hospitals to accept the fees in demonetised notes.

Keeping in mind that the law under which the 8 November notification was issued for demonetisation has been challenged, the bench proposed to frame legal questions and told Rohatgi that since a detailed and long hearing would be required, he should ponder over whether the matter can be referred to a five-judge constitution bench.

The bench said it would take a decison on 14 December on the plea of the Centre that proceedings in various high courts on petitions relating to demonetisation be stayed and transferred either to the apex court or one of the High Courts for adjudication.

“Every day new petitions are being filed in the Supreme Court and in High Courts. The High Courts are adjourning the case for one day or two days… law officers are being asked to appear,” Rohatgi said and asked the bench to consider staying the proceedings in High Courts and transferring them either to the Supreme Court or to one high court.

The bench also considered submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of petitioners opposing the demonetisation, and the Attorney General in framing legal issues to be deliberated upon by it in future hearing.

“We can straightaway frame the questions. The first one can be: whether the 8 November notification is ultra-vires to the Section 26 (2) (power to demonetise) of the Reserve Bank of India Act,” the bench said.

Indicating that it was “open to the idea of sending the matters to a five-judge bench”, the bench said the second question could be whether the demonetisation “falls foul of” Article 300A which says that no person shall be deprived of his/her property without a provision in law.

Whether the decision is unconstitutional as it violates Article 14 (equality before the law) and Article 19(1)(g) (freedom to practice profession and occupation) under the Constitution, it said.

Accepting Sibal’s suggestion, the bench said the question that the restriction on withdrawal of “legitimate and taxed money” by the banks is violative of various fundamental rights.

“Whether district cooperative banks have been discriminated against by denial of the permission to accept deposits,” the bench posed.

Sibal said he has also challenged the validity of the RBI Act provision on the ground of “excessive delegation of power” to demonetise currency notes.

Then came the suggestion of the Attorney General who said that a question was “what is the scope of judicial review in the matters of fiscal/economic policy”. The bench accepeted the suggestion.

Raising the issue of CPI(M) filing the PIL in the instant matter, Rohatgi said another question would be “can a political party file the public interest litigation?”

The bench, during the hearing, asked Attorney General about the benefits and objectives of the demonetisation.

Supreme Court, AFP.

Supreme Court, AFP.

Referring to the 8 November notification, Rohatgi said it was for fighting blackmoney, ill-gotten money used for terror financing and curbing fake currency.

He said the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes constituted 86 percent of total currency and the move was kept secret to make demonetisation effective.

“It was not possible to print ten lakh crore currency in advance and re-calibrate all ATMs in advance. The cat would have been out of the bag. There is bound to have been some kind of inconvenience,” the Attorney General said.

He referred to the recent decision of the Centre to incentivise digital transcations and said that people would be benefitted if they pay for their rail and air tickets and other services digitally.

Rohatgi said around 12 lakh crore demonetised currency notes have come back to the banking system.

He submitted that economic policy decisions should not be judicially reviewed.

While Rohatgi was making submissions, senior advocate and former finance minister P Chidambaram said there are only four lakh crore new currency notes that have been pumped and since there are only four printing press of RBI and the Centre, it was not possible to substitute demonetised currency notes before six-to-seven months.

Chidambaram, Sibal and former foreign minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for different clients, were quite vocal and critical of the Centre’s move on demonetisation.

Chidambaram said that the government is “rationing” the currency distribution because the short fall is going to continue for quite sometime.

He raised the issue of district cooperative banks which have been barred from accepting deposits in old demonetised notes and said that lakhs of peoples, specially farmers, are suffering due this.

“I don’t see any farmers here. This is all bogey,” the Attorney General responded curtly.

When the bench sought to know about the feasibility of allowing cooperative banks to accept deposits with stricter regulations, Rohatgi said it cannot be done as there are several practical impediments.

Dealing with some of the impediments, he said accounts with the cooperative banks are not “KYC (know your customer) compliants” and as the societies are the account holders, it would be difficult to ascertain which individual member has deposited what amount.

Instead of RBI, these cooperative banks are being regulated by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and it is the matter of common knowledge as to who run these banks in various states, Rohatgi said.

As lawyers were trying to out-shout each other for being heard, the CJI expressed his dismay, saying, “I have served 23 years on the bench and never seen such an unruly behaviour from the advocates.”

The CJI said that he was in his last week as a judge and would be “going with a heavy heart” that lawyers behave in such a manner on sensitive issue like demonetisation. The bench then cited the example of Chidambaram waiting patiently for his turn and said that you all should look at him.

The Attorney General said that there are over one lakh societies in the country and “only God knows how many persons are behind them (societies).”

He refuted the submission of Chidambaram that farmers are at the receiving end saying “This is all in the air. They can go and deposit in a nearby State Bank branch or any other bank”.

When Sibal said that many farmers have no other bank accounts, Rohatgi said they can open now also.

The top court had on 2 December asked the Centre to spell out the measures taken to ease suffering of and inconvenience to the people in rural areas.

The Centre had on 24 November filed an affidavit in the apex court on demonetisation and had said that the “bold move” would eradicate black money and slush funds operating since Independence which cast a “parallel economy” hitting the poor and the middle class.

On 29 November , the apex court had agreed to hear pleas of 14 cooperative banks of Kerala seeking its nod to transact business like banks and others seeking demonetisation of any currency note higher than Rs 100 denomination.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 13:50 IST

Why banks are unable to allow minimum weekly withdrawals of Rs 24,000: SC seeks Centre’s reply

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre’s response on issues like whether district cooperative banks could be allowed to accept deposits in demonetized notes with some stringent regulations and why banks are unable to allow minimum weekly withdrawals of Rs 24,000 to customers.The hearing, in which the Centre accused some advocates of politicising the issue in the garb of the public interest litigation, also witnessed the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur expressing dismay over lawyers breaching decorum of the court by out-shouting each other. While the high-decibel hearing was on, the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said though demonetization has been carried with long term beneficial aims, its immediate concern was to ease the inconvenience of the people and asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to apprise it on December 14 on issues relating to district cooperative banks and the non-adherence to fixed weekly withdrawal limits by the banks.Further the bench said it would like to know the government’s stand on the demand for extending the order for hospitals to accept the fees in demonetized notes. Keeping in mind that the law under which the November 8 notification was issued for demonetization has been challenged, the bench proposed to frame legal questions and told Rohatgi that since a detailed and long hearing would be required, he should ponder over whether the matter can be referred to a five-judge constitution bench.The bench said it would take a decision on December 14 on the plea of the Centre that proceedings in various high courts on petitions relating to demonetization be stayed and transferred either to the apex court or one of the High Courts for adjudication. “Every day new petitions are being filed in the Supreme Court and in High Courts. The High Courts are adjourning the case for one day or two days… law officers are being asked to appear,” Rohatgi said and asked the bench to consider staying the proceedings in High Courts and transferring them either to the Supreme Court or to one high court.The bench also considered submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of petitioners opposing the demonetization, and the Attorney General in framing legal issues to be deliberated upon by it in future hearing. “We can straightaway frame the questions. The first one can be: whether the November 8 notification is ultra-vires to the Section 26 (2) (power to demonetize) of the Reserve Bank of India Act,” the bench said. Indicating that it was “open to the idea of sending the matters to a five-judge bench”, the bench said the second question could be whether the demonetization “falls foul of” Article 300A which says that no person shall be deprived of his/her property without a provision in law.Whether the decision is unconstitutional as it violates Article 14 (equality before the law) and Article 19(1)(g) (freedom to practice profession and occupation) under the Constitution, it said. Accepting Sibal’s suggestion, the bench said the question that the restriction on withdrawal of “legitimate and taxed money” by the banks is violative of various fundamental rights. “Whether district cooperative banks have been discriminated against by denial of the permission to accept deposits,” the bench posed. Sibal said he has also challenged the validity of the RBI Act provision on the ground of “excessive delegation of power” to demonetize currency notes.Then came the suggestion of the Attorney General who said that a question was “what is the scope of judicial review in the matters of fiscal/economic policy”. The bench accepted the suggestion. Raising the issue of CPI(M) filing the PIL in the instant matter, Rohatgi said another question would be “can a poltical party file the public interest litigation?” The bench, during the hearing, asked Attorney General about the benefits and objectives of the demonetization. Referring to the November 8 notification, Rohatgi said it was for fighting blackmoney, ill-gotten money used for terror financing and curbing fake currency.He said the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes constituted 86 per cent of total currency and the move was kept secret to make demonetization effective. “It was not possible to print ten lakh crore currency in advance and re-calibrate all ATMs in advance. The cat would have been out of the bag. There is bound to have been some kind of inconvenience,” the Attorney General said. He referred to the recent decision of the Centre to incentivise digital transcations and said that people would be benefitted if they pay for their rail and air tickets and other services digitally.Rohatgi said around 12 lakh crore demonetized currency notes have come back to the banking system. He submitted that economic policy decisions should not be judicially reviewed. While Rohatgi was making submissions, senior advocate and former finance minister P Chidambaram said there are only four lakh crore new currency notes that have been pumped and since there are only four printing press of RBI and the Centre, it was not possible to substitute demonetized currency notes before six-to-seven months.Chidambaram, Sibal and former foreign minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for different clients, were quite vocal and critical of the Centre’s move on demonetization. Chidambaram said that the government is “rationing” the currency distribution because the short fall is going to continue for quite sometime. He raised the issue of district cooperative banks which have been barred from accepting deposits in old demonetised notes and said that lakhs of peoples, specially farmers, are suffering due this.”I don’t see any farmers here. This is all bogey,” the Attorney General responded curtly. When the bench sought to know about the feasibility of allowing cooperative banks to accept deposits with stricter regulations, Rohatgi said it cannot be done as there are several practical impediments. Dealing with some of the impediments, he said accounts with the cooperative banks are not “KYC (know your customer) compliants” and as the societies are the account holders, it would be difficult to ascertain which individual member has deposited what amount.Instead of RBI, these cooperative banks are being regulated by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and it is the matter of common knowledge as to who run these banks in various states, Rohatgi said. As lawyers were trying to out-shout each other for being heard, the CJI expressed his dismay, saying, “I have served 23 years on the bench and never seen such an unruly behaviour from the advocates.” The CJI said that he was in his last week as a judge and would be “going with a heavy heart” that lawyers behave in such a manner on sensitive issue like demonetization.The bench then cited the example of Chidambaram waiting patiently for his turn and said that you all should look at him. The Attorney General said that there are over one lakh societies in the country and “only God knows how many persons are behind them (societies).” He refuted the submission of Chidambaram that farmers are at the receiving end saying “this is all in the air. They can go and deposit in a nearby State Bank branch or any other bank”.When Sibal said that many farmers have no other bank accounts, Rohatgi said they can open now also. The top court had on December 2 asked the Centre to spell out the measures taken to ease suffering of and inconvenience to the people in rural areas. The Centre had on November 24 filed an affidavit in the apex court on demonetization and had said that the “bold move” would eradicate black money and slush funds operating since Independence which cast a “parallel economy” hitting the poor and the middle class.On November 29, the apex court had agreed to hear pleas of 14 cooperative banks of Kerala seeking its nod to transact business like banks and others seeking demonetization of any currency note higher than Rs 100 denomination.

Justice Katju wants SC to hear contempt case before winter vacation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju moved the apex court on Friday seeking early hearing of a contempt case against him for allegedly using “intemperate” language and “scandalising” the judiciary. A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi agreed to look into the submission made by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, on behalf of Justice Katju, who mentioned the matter for early hearing, saying it should be listed before the winter vacation. To this, the bench said, “You file a proper application and we will look into it”. Dhavan said that he has already filed the application. On November 11, the apex court had issued contempt notice to Justice Katju after taking note of Katju’s statement in a blog and said that it constituted a serious assault on judges and not on the judgement. Justice Katju had appeared in the court following its October 17 direction asking him to be present and debate his Facebook post criticising an SC verdict by which the convict in Soumya rape case had escaped gallows as he was acquitted of the murder charge.It had asked him to appear before the court to point out the “fundamental flaws” in the case. The issue of contempt was raised after the bench had dismissed the review petitions filed by the Kerala government and the mother of Soumya challenging the acquittal of the convict of the murder charge.Justice Katju had protested against the decision to issue contempt notice and said the judges were threatening him and it was not proper for them to behave in such manner with a former judge of the apex court. He was summoned as he in his blog had claimed that there was “grave error” in the judgement acquitting the accused in the murder case and he was asked to assist the bench during the hearing of the review petition. Justice Katju, through his Facebook post on September 15, had criticised the verdict commuting to life the death sentence awarded to Govindachamy for raping 23-year-old sales representative Soumya on February 1, 2011, after she fell out a moving train in Kerala.While issuing notice to Justice Katju, the bench had also quoted the post which said, “It is regrettable that the court has not read section 300 IPC (culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death) carefully. The judgement needs to be reviewed in an open court hearing.”

Parliamentary panel recommends placing Executive on equal footing with Judiciary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking serious note of the strains that have come up between the government and Supreme Court on the issue of appointment of judges, a parliamentary panel has recommended establishing the original constitutional position that places the Executive on an equal footing with the Judiciary.“The judicial appointments are shared responsibility of the Executive and the Judiciary and to be exercised jointly with neither organ of the State having a primacy over the other,” noted the panel suggesting the government to take appropriate measures to reverse the distortion that has come in the original mandate of the Constitution due to judgements of the Apex Court in the Second Judgement and subsequent cases. Establishing Collegium System for appointment and transfer of judges in higher judiciary, a nine 9 judge bench of Supreme Court in 1993, known as the Second Judgement, had given primacy to the Chief Justice of India over the Executive.“The role of the CJI is primal in nature because this being a topic within the judicial family, the executive cannot have an equal say in the matter. Here the word ‘consultation’ would shrink in a mini form. Should the executive have an equal role and be in divergence of many a proposal, germs of indiscipline would grow in the judiciary,” it held.To make the appointment process transparent, the committee suggested making public the eligibility criteria, method of selection, manner of evaluation of merit, criteria of selection, number of vacancies while maintaining the confidentiality of names shortlisted. To allay apprehensions of government rejecting names approved by the Supreme Court Collegium under the veil of “national security” and in the “larger public interest” that could tantamount to exercising Veto, the panel recommended the government to define these two criteria in no ambiguous terms and list circumstances and antecedents which fall within their preview.The parliamentary standing committee report on “Inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies in the Supreme Court and High Courts” was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Headed by Rajya Sabha MP from Congress, Anand Sharma, the committee has nine members from the Upper House and 29 from the Lok Sabha. If the government decides the recommendations can be taken up for consideration for implementation.The panel, however, also recommended that glasnost (openness and transparency) in appointment of judges was the need of the hour and the Collegium or the government must specify reasons for rejecting a candidate.“The Committee observes that the government also rejects the names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium without furnishing cogent reasons. Such practices are against the principle of natural justice and leads to opaqueness in the appointment process,” the panel noted. In line with the global practice to gain from “enriched professional experience”, the panel has suggested raising the retirement age of Supreme Court judge from present 65 years to 67 and of High Court judge from 62 to 65 years.For tackling the mounting burden of cases in the High Courts that at last count was more than 44 lakhs, the panel suggested invoking Article 224A of the Constitution that allows chief justices to appoint retired judicial officers as ad hoc high court judges.The panel asked not to consider their appointment afresh (de novo) as there was “no merit” in repeating the same and “must give” the same status they were enjoying prior to the appointment. TheNames of 18 such ad hoc judges sent from the High Courts of Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Allahabad and Calcutta are already pending with the government.In order to avoid delay in filling up vacancies in constitutional courts the panel has recommended setting up a dedicated Cell in the Registry of the constitutional courts to assist initiation of the proposals in time for filling up various vacancies. “The Cell… may particularly ensure that the eligible persons from women, minorities etc. are also included so that the composition of higher judiciary becomes reflective of the diversity of the society,” the report said.

Triple talaq verdict highlights the plight of Muslim women entangled in battles they can’t win

The case of Mohammad Naseem Bhat vs Bilquees Akhtar heard by Justice Hasnain Masoodi is an infrequently told story of a Muslim wife’s claim for maintenance against her husband. The parties were married in August 2002 and had a daughter. The marriage failed and Bilquees started living separately with her daughter. In January 2006, she filed a claim for maintenance for herself and her daughter. She alleged that her husband ill-treated her, mainly because she had given birth to a girl child. The husband held that he had divorced her more than a month before the child was born, and hence she wasn’t entitled to any maintenance.

The lower court accepted the man’s divorce plea and rejected her claim of maintenance for herself. Thus, he was directed to pay a monthly amount only towards his daughter.

Representational image. Getty ImagesRepresentational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

The wife appealed against the judgment, and the first appellate court set aside the lower court’s decision, calling it “perverse, illegal and passed in a mechanical manner”. It also directed the lower court to fix a proper maintenance allowance. The husband appealed in the high court that the lower court’s decision be upheld. It was then that Justice Masoodi stated that under the Kashmir Shariat Act 2007, Muslims are to be governed by the Shariat law.

Today, when discussions on triple talaq have boldly resurfaced in drawing rooms and newsrooms alike, Supreme Court lawyer Shabnam Lone, who was appointed by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir as amicus on behalf of the lady in 2014, says that there is much to be learnt from this incident. “Many religious bodies, and even a retired high court judge and the bar filed a petition against the high court’s order. The application was filed under Section 94 of the Constitution of J&K for reviewing the order passed by the high court. Her own lawyer refused to represent her since the case was widely reported in local newspapers. I filed her power of attorney in open court. When she contacted me, she was worried but sure about going ahead. After the third or fourth hearing, she stopped coming to court. It was then that the court appointed me amicus on her behalf,” Lone said.

And whether she wasn’t allowed to show up or lost interest in the case is a reason best known to her, the fact of the matter is that in India, women are entangled in legal battles they aren’t even allowed to fight.

There are several cases to illuminate that a married Muslim woman’s rights change with the culture and class she comes from, but in every situation, she is denied.

Women’s rights activist and lawyer Abha Singh says it is as much an urban problem, and talks about two of her clients battling triple talaq in their own ways. In one case, the client comes from an upper middle class business family in south Mumbai, and because she spoke up against her in-laws, they urged their son to divorce her. She is a graduate and is seeking maintenance for her children under Section 125 of the CrPC. The second is a software professional who converted to Islam to marry her Muslim lover. He wants to divorce her and keep the child. She is fighting for the custody of her son, arguing she is better placed to take care of him.

“These are educated girls who feel they live with the fear of talaq looming over their heads all the time. They are now ready to spend on lawyers, install CCTV cameras to collect evidence against the husband and their in-laws. All this is done with the realisation that the Constitution guarantees basic rights which the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPL) cannot question or interfere with,” Singh says.

Singh points to the many Halala marriages that are prevalent in Lucknow. In this, in order to return to the first husband and children after talaq, a woman is made to marry another man and sleep with him. This humiliating exercise is undertaken each time he divorces her. In other cases, rich Sheikhs from the Middle East marry girls half their age, impregnate them, divorce them and fly back; where there is extreme poverty, there is no concept of maintenance.

Triple talaq has been banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and even Saudi Arabia, because as per Islam, there has to be a gap of one menstrual cycle between each time the man utters the word talaq. This ensures that divorce is not given in a fit of rage and the man has time to cool down and think rationally over his decision. While India has overlooked this aspect, it has embraced technology. Talaq can now be given via SMS or email.

Sharifa Khanam, who founded the STEPS Women’s Development Organisation in 1987, has some more scary stories to share. She pointed out that in the last 15 years, 80 Muslim women have died in South Indians towns like Pattikonda, Nagapattinam and Tirunelveli, and there is no reliable data to certify that these were suicides. “In most cases, the woman doesn’t complain because there’s risk of being ostracised by the Jamaat. In 1993, we conducted a survey in Tamil Nadu and found out that in every five families, there is at least one woman who is divorced, or physically and mentally tormented, handicapped or destitute. Not much has changed,” she said.

Khanam pointed out that there is no dowry in Islam and the cultural practice that has emerged in poor families in villages is that the boys’ family pay a mahr of Rs 500, and in turn demand dowry worth Rs 50,000. A dowry harassment case she noticed in Pudukkottai involved a girl who was harassed and burnt to death while the police refused to hear her mother’s plea and asked her to seek help from the jamaat. “In lower levels, the police refuse to interfere in Muslim matters for whatever reason,” Khanam added.

Rubina Patel, who runs the Rubi Social Welfare Society in Nagpur, brings to light some more shameful cases. In Teka in Nagpur, 18-year-old Shahnaz was given talaq without her knowledge. She was packed off to her mother’s house and was living in oblivion for months before she realised what has happened. Shahina, from the same place, was pregnant at 20. Her husband approached a Mufti who issued a fatwa. “When we asked the Mufti why he issued it, he said the talaq was decided according to the man’s neeyat (will). Then we asked him how can a pregnant woman be divorced, to which he said that the talaq will be implemented once the baby is born, like an advance talaq,” Patel said.

While the men are busy politicising personal laws, the women continue to fight peculiar battles, ones that they mostly lose.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 22:22 IST

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar: What you should know about the new Chief Justice of India

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, who led the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court which had struck down the controversial National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act for the appointment of judges, was on Tuesday recommended as the 44th Chief Justice of India.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Tuesday wrote a letter recommending the name of Khehar, who is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court to be his successor.

First CJI from the Sikh community

Justice Khehar, 64, will be the first Chief Justice from the Sikh community and he will succeed CJI Thakur who will be demitting office on 3 January, 2017.

File image of . Twitter @AarushianaSinghFile image of . Twitter @AarushianaSingh

File image of Justice Khehar. Twitter @AarushianaSingh

Having received his LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Khehar was awarded Gold Medal for securing the first position in the university in LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh on 8 February, 1999, Khehar 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 Uttarakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later he was transferred as chief justice of Karnataka High Court. He was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, lawyers and former judges of the Punjab and Haryana high court have described him as a hardworking and competent lawyer, a self-made person, who was destined to scale new heights.

Khehar, who will be sworn in on 4 January, will hold the tenure for over seven months until 27 August, 2017.

NJAC

Considered to be a strong judge, Khehar presided over the constitution bench that junked the NJAC as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of the judiciary.

The government had sought to replace the existing collegium 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.

President’s Rule, Subrata Roy and more

Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to prepone the assembly session from January 2016 to December as it directed the 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.

Khehar also headed a bench which recently gave a significant verdict holding that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.

Turf war between the judiciary and the executive

While the turf war between the judiciary and the executive over the appointment of judges for higher judiciary has intensified, Khehar on the occasion of Constitution Day on 26 November had responded to the tirade from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi by saying that the judiciary was working within its “lakshman rekha“.

“Judiciary is mandated to shield all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, against discrimination and abuse of State power. Liberty, equality and dignity of the citizen have flourished substantially in India due to the pro-active role of the judiciary in the country,” he had said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 12:47 IST

Fashion show under fire for Kashmir pellet makeup

Find out what’s buzzing in the social media world today.

Justice JS Khehar to be next Chief Justice of India

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Tuesday 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.

Supreme Court of India. ReutersSupreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Considered to be a strong judge, Justice Khehar 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 presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to prepone 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.

Having done LL.B and LL.M 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 twiuce 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 6, 2016 21:28 IST

Firecrackers ban: Firecracker Association challenges Supreme Court order

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Firecracker Association on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court, challenging its earlier order of banning firecrackers in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR).A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Tirath Singh Thakur and comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageshwar Rao is likely to hear the matter next week.After several petitions being filed by various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) due to thick smog engulfing Delhi-NCR just after Diwali for around 10 days, the apex court had on November 25 pronounced its verdict banning the sale of firecrackers in the region.The Supreme Court is also mulling on the decision of imposing a national ban on manufacture of fireworks. In tune with the same, the apex court has given three months to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file a report regarding ‘composition and content’of fireworks.The thick smog, formed by burning of firecrackers and emissions from other sources, enveloped the entire region to the extent of raising the level of air pollution 16 times than what is considered safe by the Indian Government.Last year, the plea regarding the same was rejected by the court with the view that the sudden ban would restrict citizens? rights.

Rajya Sabha members seek impeachment of Telangana High Court judge

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 60 Rajya Sabha members moved a petition on Monday seeking impeachment proceedings against a judge of the Andhra Pradesh/Telangana High Court alleging atrocities against a Dalit judicial officer. The Rajya Sabha Secretariat confirmed receiving the petition from 61 MPs and said a decision on its validity will be taken in the next two days after examining the matter.But experts said, under the Judges Enquiry Act, 1968, the petition is bound to be admitted. The petition, mainly signed by TDP and Left MPs, alleged that Justice CV Nagarjuna Reddy committed atrocities against a Dalit principal junior civil judge in Kadappa district to allegedly put pressure on him in a criminal case.As per provisions of the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968, if the motion is admitted, the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairman constitutes an investigation committee consisting of three members, including two judges. Hundred members of the Lok Sabha or 50 members of the Rajya Sabha have to sign the petition of impeachment.

Delhi HC reserves verdict on foreign publishers plea in book photocopy case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Monday reserved its judgement on a petition by leading foreign publishers against a single judge verdict allowing sale of photocopies of textbooks published by them by a shop located at the Delhi University (DU) campus.A bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Yogesh Khanna concluded hearing arguments in the matter during which the DU came out in support of the photocopier, saying public interest of students should be given priority over private interest. However, the publishers – Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press (UK), Cambridge University Press India Pvt Ltd, Taylor and Francis Group (UK) and Taylor and Francis Books India Pvt Ltd – sought reversal of the single judge September 16 order contending that sale of photocopies of books published by them affect their market share.Their submissions was opposed by senior advocate Aman Sinha, appearing for DU, on the ground that “object of Copyright Act is to increase knowledge and not to impede it”. “We are developing country with limited resources and huge population and public interest comprising of students, teachers, education has to be given priority over private interest of only handful of copyright owners for financial gains,” he told the bench.Sinha referred to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1957, and said language of the statute is “clear and unambiguous” and section 52(1)(i) has been specifically incorporated for the benefit of students. “Thus, a beneficial legislation has to be construed and interpreted in a manner which will benefit the students who are the purported beneficiaries of this legislation,” he said.Countering the submissions, senior advocate Pratibha M Singh and advocate Saikrishna Rajgopal, who appeared for the petitioners, said their clients also provide customised content and sale of photocopies of books published by them affect their market share. “The university, colleges and photocopiers should take a licence before xeroxing material published by petitioners,” Singh said, adding that petitioners are not just publishing textbooks but are providing content online and provisions of the Act have to be interpreted as per “digital exploitation” of the material. “Simply by arguing public interest, copyright cannot be trampled upon. The section 52(1)(i) of the Act has to be interpreted correctly in law,” she said.The publishers have approached the division bench against the September 16 order claiming Rameshwari Photocopy Service in DU was infringing upon their copyright over the text books. The order, which brought cheers to many students by rejecting the publishers’ 2012 plea against the sale of photocopies of their textbooks, said copyright in literary works does not confer “absolute ownership” to the authors.It also lifted a ban on the shop from selling photocopies of chapters from textbooks of foreign publishers to students. In their plea before the division bench, the publishers have contended “we seek assurance that copyright law in India will balance the interests of those creating learning materials here in India as well as globally, with those requiring access to them in a fair and sustainable manner”.

Uphaar fire case: Ansals assure SC they will not leave India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal on Monday assured the Supreme Court that they would not leave India till it commences hearing on the plea seeking review of the 2015 verdict in the Uphaar fire tragedy case asking them to serve a two-year jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each as fine.A bench comprising Justices JS Khehar and NV Ramana considered the submission of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) that there was a media report about the possibility of Ansals leaving the country in the absence of a restraint order from the apex court. Initially, the court said it would list the interim plea of AVUT for hearing tomorrow as a three-judge bench was not available today.However, the bench later asked the counsel representing Ansals to give an undertaking “on instructions from his clients” that they would not leave India till commencement of hearing on review pleas filed by AVUT and the CBI in the case.Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for AVUT, mentioned the plea for urgent hearing, saying “restrain respondents accused Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal from travelling abroad without seeking necessary permission of this court during the pendency of present review petition.” AVUT, through its President Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who had lost her two teenaged children in the blaze, cited a media report that convicts were “on the verge of fleeing the country”. “Grave prejudice and irreparable loss would be caused to the Applicant/Review Petitioner (AVUT) if the respondents accused, Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal travel abroad, without seeking necessary permission of this court,” the plea said.59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997. Over 100 were also injured in the subsequent stampede. Earlier, AVUT had mentioned the review plea for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur who said a new bench would be constituted to hear the review petitions filed by the CBI and Association.Prior to that, a bench headed by Justice A R Dave, now retired, had decided to hear in open court the petitions filed by CBI and the AVUT seeking review of the 2015 verdict. Following the judgement, Sushil and Gopal had deposited Rs 30 crore each to avoid the jail term. In its review plea, AVUT had said the apex court judgement “bestow an unwarranted leniency on convicts whose conviction in the most heinous of offences has been upheld by all courts including this court and sentences imposed on them have been substituted with fine without assigning any reason.” “The sentences of the convicts have been reduced to the period undergone without taking into account the gravity of their offence,” it had said.The CBI, in its review plea, had said the apex court did not give it time to put its views forth which resulted in “miscarriage of justice”. The agency has said, “Due to the paucity of time on the day on which this case was heard, the prosecution could not adequately put across the reasons why this court should not substitute jail sentence with a monetary fine. “This petition also seeks to raise issue of an apparent error of law in the judgement and order of this court which has occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice,” it said.CBI had also claimed that “callousness” of Ansal brothers led to 59 people being trapped and suffocated to death in the theatre. The apex court had, on August 19, 2015 sent Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they failed to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months.In a judgement on September 23, 2015, the bench had said the “magnitude” of the case “calls for a higher sentence” but the court has to limit itself to the choice available under the law. Earlier, a two-judge bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra (since retired) had in a March 5, 2014 order differed on the quantum of sentence for Ansal brothers.While Justice Thakur had retained the one-year jail term awarded by Delhi High Court in 2008, Justice Misra had pronounced the maximum punishment of two years with a rider that it can be reduced to the period already undergone behind bars on joint payment of Rs 100 crore as fine by them.The matter was later referred to a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dave (since retired) which enhanced the sentence to the maximum period of two years under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of IPC if they failed to pay the fine amount. While Sushil has spent over five months in prison, Gopal was in jail for over four months soon after the accident. The three-judge bench had also said that on the principle of parity, the case of Gopal will stand on the same footing as that of Sushil.

Never faced gender discrimination in TV, politics, says Smriti Irani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister and former actress Smriti Irani says she is extremely proud of the fact that she never came across any gender bias while working in TV or performing her job in day-to-day politics or government.Irani became a household name after playing Tulsi in her long-running and popular TV soap Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. She then quit TV and entered politics, where she joined BJP and later became a Union Minister.”Let me very proudly say that as a television actor, I never ever saw any gender bias. I’ve been in various roles in TV, writer, producer, associate director. In politics, during my organisational roles, I have never seen gender bias, within my organisation.” Irani says there are days when the slightest sexist remarks she gets is on the basis of being a woman or being called ‘an actor once upon’.”Today when I am a Minister, I think the best way to deride a woman is to say ‘oh you’re a woman’. If you can’t defeat them on the merit of the case, then I get it slightly that either I am a woman or an actor once upon.” Irani, 40, was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘No Tulsi in the Aangan – Changing gender roles in film’ at the Times LitFest, on Saturday evening.Irani says though a few people tried to demean her, people at large raised their voice against sexism. “One or two people who have tried, have got immense amount of negative feedback from people at large. Because the citizen does not support that kind of negative approach. I take a lot of pride in the fact that the people at the end of the day, who I serve as a Minister, judge an MP or a Minister on the basis of their work not because they’re a man or a woman.”The actor-turned-politician believes it is a huge compliment to the country that despite some people trying to pull down women, female leaders have held important positions. “It is a huge compliment to our country that we have a female speaker in the House, female Opposition leader, that we had a female Prime Minister and a President. That says a lot about our country.”

Nirbhaya case: No evidence to show conspiracy among accused, Amicus Curiae to SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The hearing in the infamous December 16 gangrape-cum-murder case in Supreme Court on Saturday saw a lawyer contending that the conviction of the accused was based on a wrong assumptions as the police had failed to show that there was a “conspiratorial relationship” among each one of them.A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra heard the matter on Saturday, even though it was a holiday, and recorded the submission of Amicus Curiae and senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who was appointed to assist the apex court in the case. “Thus, what is to be considered in this case by this court is to ascertain the ‘foreseeability’ with regard to the offence of murder by all the accused in the course of their alleged plan of merry-making. “The prosecution story lacks in evidence to show that the petitioners/accused were in conspiratorial relationship with each member, which would have made them to reasonably foresee the plan of merry-making turning into an offense of murder,” Hegde submitted.A 23-year-old paramedic, named by the media as Nirbhaya, was brutally assaulted and gangraped by six persons in a moving bus in South Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend on the night of December 16, 2012. She had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29. Hegde said there must be a meeting of minds resulting in the ultimate decision taken by conspirators regarding the commission of offence and the prosecution has to show that the circumstances give rise to a conclusive or irresistible inference of an agreement between two or more persons.”A few bits here and a few bits there on which the prosecution relies, cannot be held to be adequate for connecting the accused with the commission of the crime of criminal conspiracy,” he argued.The senior lawyer further said the Delhi High Court did not go into the question of whether the prosecution has discharged its burden to prove the existence of a criminal conspiracy at all. The apex court had appointed senior advocates Hegde and Raju Ramachandran as amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter.While Ramachandran would assist the court in the appeals of convicts Mukesh and Pawan, Hegde would assist in appeals of other two convicts, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh. Hegde said the trial court was correct in holding that the accused had a common object of “merry making” which in the course led to the rape of the girl but no evidence suggested that there was a common object to murder the victims.The senior advocate said the only evidence with regard to murder is that the victim’s friend had stated in his testimony that he had heard one of the accused saying “mar gayee, mar gayee (she is dead, she is dead)”. “This can be read only as an ex-facto statement of fact that the girl has died. It cannot be read as exhortation to kill the girl,” he said, adding that another evidence was that the accused tried to crush the victim and her friend under the wheels of bus.”It is the prosecution’s own case that the accused had first taken the victims to the back door of the bus. It was only when they were unable to open the backdoor that they threw the victims out of the front door. “The same establishes the absence of a conspiracy to murder the victims by crushing them under the bus. If the same were the case, the victims would have been taken to the front gate in the first instant,” Hegde said.The senior advocate said the death of the victim has been attributed to internal injuries caused due to the insertion of the rod and the lack of evidence with respect to the common object to cause death of any of the victims or the prosecutrix, weakens the prosecution’s case on conspiracy. He said the ability of the police to arrest accused Vinay and Pawan, two days after the incident after being “mere pointed out” by another accused Ram Singh, arrested a day before, “does not inspire confidence”.The hearing remained inconclusive and the bench posted the matter for December 5. On April 4, the court had commenced final arguments on the plea of Mukesh and Pawan. The four convicts in the case had approached the apex court against Delhi High Court’s March 13, 2014 verdict which had observed that their offence fell in the rarest of rare category and upheld the death sentence awarded to them by the trial court.The prime accused, Ram Singh, was found dead in a cell in Tihar Jail in March 2013 and proceedings against him were abated. On August 31, 2013, another accused, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted and sentenced to three years in a reformation home. He was released from observation home in December last year.

National Anthem: SC order on ‘closed doors’ sacrifices public safety for pop patriotism

In a bid to “instil committed patriotism and nationalism”, the Supreme Court appears to have overlooked the greater perils of its verdict on National Anthem. In its 30 November order, the Supreme Court ruled, “All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.”

While most lines of argument which criticises the Supreme Court order have concentrated around notions of patriotism, free will, freedom of speech and expression, the mandatory bolting of doors has raised a pertinent issue — that of public safety. Part of the Supreme Court’s order states:

“Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.”

According to experts, not only should this directive be “recalled”, it also needs further clarification. Reiterating the same sentiment, Alok Prasanna Kumar, a Bengaluru-based advocate and a senior resident fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said that if one goes by the Supreme Court’s directive, there is a huge disaster, like the Uphaar fire tragedy of 1997, waiting to happen. “I think by ‘disturbance’, the Supreme Court meant walking in and out of the theatre. But there are two things that need to be kept in mind: Firstly, this order is fraught with potential danger and harm to the public and secondly, the Supreme Court is violating its own earlier order in the Uphaar case where it had ordered that doors should never be bolted,” Alok told Firstpost.

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court’s directive on doors being shut raises the question: Is safety getting sacrificed at the altar of pop-patriotism?

While issuing safety guidelines in the aftermath of the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had stated that “under no circumstances, the entry door (which can act as an emergency exit in the event of fire or other emergency) should be bolted from outside”. The bench had noted that one of the doors in Uphaar cinema was bolted from outside and it prevented scores of victims from escaping the blaze.

The factors which constituted the direct and proximate cause of death of 59 persons and injury of 100 persons in Uphaar cinema were the installation of the DVB transformer in violation of law, faulty repair of the DVB transformer, presence of combustible material in the cinema building, parking of cars near the transformer room, alterations in the balcony obstructing egress, structural deviations resulting in closure of escape routes in the building at the time of the incident, bolting of the exit doors from outside and the absence of fire fighting measures and two trained firemen…”

The “close-door” order also clashes with the fire safety guidelines given to the fire department. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official from the Mumbai Fire Department told Firstpost that doors in cinema theatres cannot be bolted and that flouts fire safety norms. “I have not read the Supreme Court order, but doors in a cinema hall cannot be locked. Shutting of doors is against the rule and every theatre in Mumbai abides by it.” When told that the Supreme Court says that the doors should be locked and what that means for the safety of the public, the official bypassed the question and said, “Why should anyone move when the National Anthem is playing? You are supposed to stand in attention till the Rashtra Gaan is over.”

The Supreme Court not only violated its own earlier order, it also contradicts the Delhi Cinematography Act, which requires at least two exits to be open in the hall at all times. Rule 10 of Delhi Cinematograph Rules lays down that every auditorium must have two or more different thoroughfares or open spaces from which there is at all times free means of rapid dispersal. This rule also says that all doors through which the public have to pass on the way to open air shall be available for exit during the whole time that the public are in the building and during such time shall not be locked or bolted.

According to Alok, the Supreme Court ruling can be altered by submitting an “application of modification or recall of the order.” “Modification of this order is one way to ensure public safety otheriwse the tiniest spark or smoke can lead to mass panic and eventual casualties,” Alok said. Unfortunately, laws of physics cannot be suspended by a judicial order and if a fire breaks out, patriotism will not save scores from a horrible death in a closed space, Alok added.

Firstpost tried to reach multiplex and single-screen theatre owners to understand how will they ensure public safety with closed doors, but no one was available for a comment.

“There was no party present in the court to give the full picture to the Supreme Court. The fact that its current order violates its earlier one and which ends up exposing the safety issue of the public never entered anyone’s mind,” Alok further added.

The fact that the Supreme Court mandates upkeep of nationalist pride at the cost of public safety is something worth mulling. Aside from the totalitarian nature of the rule, a cinema hall is no place for the National Anthem to be played. In several citations, one such being the Ministry of Home Affairs in its “Orders related to the National Anthem”, it has been mandated that in order not to dilute the dignity of National Anthem, it should be played only on certain occasions.

“However, when in the course of a newsreel or documentary the Anthem is played as a part of the film, it is not expected of the audience to stand as standing is bound to interrupt the exhibition of the film and would create disorder and confusion rather than add to the dignity of the Anthem.”

That sentence says more than all the tweets, Facebook posts and article comments in the world combined ever could.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 15:20 IST

National Anthem verdict: Supreme Court order is only ‘interim’, there is hope yet

I am reminded of the slow-motion chopper landing sequence, filmed at the Siachen Glacier as Jana Gana Mana plays in the background, a regular feature in many theatres. Going by the examples given in the order (of the National Anthem being used as a tool to test the reactions of prospective job candidates), it is tempting to think that it is exactly this sort of contextual misuse of the National Anthem that the petitioner in the National Anthem case seeks to curtail: The kind that charges up our ever-willing keyboard warriors on Twitter and Facebook to wax eloquent about the sufferings of soldiers on our borders at every opportunity.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

But there is an insidiousness about the ‘interim measures’ issued by the Supreme Court that was not immediately apparent. Back in 2004, three judges of the Supreme Court, in Karan Johar versus Union of India, had observed: “the National Anthem which is exhibited in the course of exhibition of newsreel or documentary or in a film, the audience is not expected to stand as the same interrupts the exhibition of the film and would create disorder and confusion, rather than add to the dignity of the National Anthem.

The Supreme Court at the time was dealing with the challenge to an order authored by Justice Dipak Misra, penned in his usual verbose style. Misra was then a judge at the Madhya Pradesh High Court, and is currently in line to become the next Chief Justice of India. Unusually, the petitioner before the Madhya Pradesh High Court was the same gentleman who has now petitioned the Supreme Court — Shyam Narayan Chouksey.

Ordinarily, judicial discipline would call upon Misra to follow the earlier ruling in Johar’s case — especially since three judges decided that case while the present National Anthem case is being heard by a bench of two. But there is a catch: In 2006, following a Review Petition by Chouksey against the judgment in Johar’s case, the ‘issues of law’ raised in the matter were reopened for determination in an ‘appropriate case’. The earlier order was recalled.

It is rare for the Supreme Court to even hear Review Petitions — a remedy usually reserved for ‘errors apparent on the face of the record’, but the apex court appears to have done so in this case because not all the questions raised before the Madhya Pradesh High Court were covered by the original Supreme Court order.

After a 10-year wait — an ‘inordinate delay’ going even by our slow disposal rates — Chouksey had his ‘appropriate case’, and (most fortuitously) his ‘appropriate court’.

In all fairness, would such happenstance make this a fit case for recusal on the ground of subject bias? Judges are occasionally afforded the opportunity of overruling their own decisions; others prefer to simply recuse themselves and let another bench decide the case. Only time will tell what this court will do. There is hope yet that the unfortunate pontifications on nationalism in the order may be reconsidered at the final hearing stage. After all, the order is only an ‘interim measure’ and circumspection based on the current backlash may prompt a different view later on.

The author is a practicing lawyer at the Bombay High Court

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 08:56 IST

Nabha jailbreak: Palwinder Singh Pinda sent to 11-day police remand

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Palwinder Singh Pinda, who allegedly facilitated the escape of six prisoners from Nabha Jail, was sent to police custody for 11 days by a local court here.Patiala SSP Gurmit Singh Chauhan said Pinda, who was brought from Uttar Pradesh on transit remand, was produced before the Nabha court last night.The court of Judge Pamalpreet sent Pinda to 11 days police remand, the SSP said.Three other persons, including Assistant Jail Superintendent, who were arrested yesterday in connection with Nabha jailbreak would be produced before the court today, police said.Assistant Jail Superintendent Bhim Singh, Head warden Jagmeet Singh and a sweet shop owner Tejinder Sharma were arrested on the charges of abetment and criminal conspiracy in the Nabha jailbreak case.Six prisoners –Harminder Singh Mintoo, Kashmir Singh, two terrorists, and gangsters Amandeep Dhothian, Vicky Gounder, Gurpreet Sekhon and Neeta Deol were freed by a group of armed men who stormed the high-security jail at Nabha in Patiala district on Sunday.

Democratic system will fail if judiciary, govt won’t respect each other: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur and the Centre locking horns yet again over the prolonged matter of judges’ appointment, the Congress on Sunday issued a warning that if the judiciary and the executive don?t respect each other, then the nation’s democracy system will witness a collapse.Congress leader PC Chacko said that the current situation was unwelcome in a democratic setup as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was showing scant regard.”This issue has been pending for a long time. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Union Law Minister has ever come up with a satisfactory reply. The CJI requested the Prime Minister in public in a choked voice to fill up vacancies but the government seems to be unconcerned about it. It clearly shows how insensitive it is,” he said.Talking about Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s statement that everybody, including the judiciary, must recognise there is a ‘lakshman rekha’ that ought not to be crossed, Chacko stated that the former’s role was not to defend the government and its ministers on every statement made.”His role is to take a stand in favour of the government in the court. He is not the person to decide what the lakshman rekha is. If the CJI will not speak on this issue then who will?,? he added.The Congress leader further accused the Prime Minister of acting under the direction of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and said that a deliberate attempt was being made to scuttle the system. Earlier, CJI Thakur emphasised that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s attitude was lackadaisical from the very issue of filling vacancies to providing adequate infrastructure.Stating that there are 500 judges’ posts lying vacant in High Courts, Thakur said that courtrooms are lying vacant without judges. He further said that in principle, the judiciary was not against the formation of Tribunals because it would relieve court duties, but the problem arose from the lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the Tribunals. “Tribunals are not equipped and are lying empty. Today a situation has come that when no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I am pained to send my retired colleagues there. Government is not ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal,” Thakur said.Meanwhile, stating that he “respectfully” disagrees with Thakur, Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government has so far appointed 120 High Court judges, adding this is the second highest number of appointments in the history of the country’s judicial system.”We have got the highest regard for the CJI, but we respectfully disagree with him. This year we have made 120 appointments. This is the second highest after 121 were appointed in 2013. Since 1990 there had only been 80 appointments,” Prasad, who was also present at the event, told the media later. Prasad also said that the Supreme Court has failed to make the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), a document to guide appointment of judges to higher judiciary, more transparent and reasonable despite repeated requests from the government. “But for the larger issue of appointment is concerned, there is a Supreme Court decision of making the MoP more transparent, objective, reasonable, fair and the government’s stand is pending for more than three months and we are yet to hear from the Supreme Court,” he said.Responding to Justice Thakur’s claim that there is a lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the tribunals, Prasad said, “As far as infrastructure is concerned, it is a continuous process. So many tribunal courts are there. But we need to understand that every retired Supreme Court judge cannot be given the same bungalow of the same size, there is land constraint also.” (

Duty of judiciary to see that Govt organs don’t cross ‘Lakshman Rekha’: CJI Thakur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Chief Justice of India T S Thakur cautioned that no organs of government should cross the “lakshman rekha” and stressed judiciary has been given the duty to watch that all remain within its limit.Speaking at a function in the Supreme Court lawns to celebrate Constitution Day, earlier known as Law Day, he said judiciary has every right to set aside any law made by Parliament, if it is against the Constitution or beyond the limits granted by the statute book. “The Constitution tells us that what would be the works to be done by the government. It has fixed the duties and responsibilities for judiciary, executive and legislature. It has fixed their limits and ‘lakshman rekha’.”The judiciary has been given the duty to keep a watch that nobody crosses that limit. If Parliament has the power to make the laws, it should make only in the limits granted under the Constitution. If the State has the right to make laws, it should make only in the limits granted under the Constitution. “If they are making a law which is out of the limits granted under the Constitution or against the fundamental rights, the judiciary has every right to say that it was wrong.”Any order which is against the Constitution, judiciary can set it aside to maintain the rule of law,” CJI Thakur said. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there is a high respect across the globe for the Indian Constitution which does not distinguish between rich, big and poor.”People are convinced that they can unseat any political leader, howsoever big, from power. It can also replace any political party,” he said.Speaking on the occasion, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said “the delicate balance of the Constitution was disturbed in 70s. That balance must be restored.”The CJI also said that celebrating November 26 as Constitution Day was better than celebrating it as the Law Day.”The importance of this day is that the Constitution was adopted on this day. So, if we have to celebrate the adoption of the Constitution, it can only be celebrated as the Constitution Day. Celebrating it as Law Day was not important,” he said. Judiciary shouldn’t interfere with governance: Ravi Shankar Prasad Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said that judiciary must give directions to the executive but it should not interfere with the governance. ‘Court must give direction if executive fails, but governance must remain with those who are elected to govern. If those nuances are kept in mind then large number of problems that we encounter would be resolved,’ Prasad said. ‘I must remind that the Constitution has always given legislation with the legislature and that must be remain preserved with it,’ he added.Earlier in the day, stating he “respectfully” disagrees with Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, the Law Minister had said the government has so far appointed 120 High Court judges, adding this is the second highest number of appointments in the history of the country’s judicial system.”We have got the highest regard for the CJI, but we respectfully disagree with him. This year we have made 120 appointments. This is the second highest after 121 were appointed in 2013. Since 1990 there had only been 80 appointments,” Prasad, who was also present at the event, told the media later.Prasad also said that the Supreme Court has failed to make the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), a document to guide appointment of judges to higher judiciary, more transparent and reasonable despite repeated requests from the government.Responding to Justice Thakur’s claim that there is a lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the tribunals, Prasad said, “As far as infrastructure is concerned, it is a continuous process. So many tribunal courts are there. But we need to understand that every retired Supreme Court judge cannot be given the same bungalow of the same size, there is land constraint also.”Earlier, Justice Thakur had stated that there were 500 judges’ posts lying vacant in High Courts while adding that courtrooms are unable to function without judges.With inputs from agencies

Judges appointment row: Govt ‘respectfully’ disagrees with CJI, says its cleared 120 appointments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating he “respectfully” disagreed with Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said the government has so far appointed 120 High Court judges, adding this is the second highest number of appointments in the history of the country’s judicial system.”We have got the highest regard for the CJI, but we respectfully disagree with him. This year we have made 120 appointments. This is the second highest after 121 were appointed in 2013. Since 1990 there had only been 80 appointments,” Prasad told the media.Prasad also said that the Supreme Court has failed to make the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), a document to guide appointment of judges to higher judiciary, more transparent and reasonable despite repeated requests from the government. “But for the larger issue of appointment is concerned, there is a Supreme Court decision of making the MoP more transparent, objective, reasonable, fair and the government’s stand is pending for more than three months and we are yet to hear from the Supreme Court,” he said.Responding to Justice Thakur’s claim that there is a lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the tribunals, Prasad said, ?As far as infrastructure is concerned, it is a continuous process. So many tribunal courts are there. But we need to understand that every retired Supreme Court judge cannot be given the same bungalow of the same size, there is land constraint also.”Earlier, Justice Thakur stated that there were 500 judges’ posts lying vacant in High Courts while adding that courtrooms are unable to function without judges. He further said that in principle, the judiciary was not against the formation of Tribunals because it would relieve court duties, but the problem arose from the lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the Tribunals.”Tribunals are not equipped and are lying empty. Today a situation has come that when no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I am pained to send my retired colleagues there. Government is not ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal,” Thakur said.The Centre and the top court have been at war since the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, which was brought in to end more than 20-year-old practice of judges appointing judges under the collegium system, with government having no say in the process.Earlier, the Centre had conveyed to Supreme Court that it had returned to the collegium or its reconsideration of 43 of the 77 names recommended for the appointment of judges in various High Courts and that the remaining 34 have been appointed as judges.On October 28, the apex court had lashed out at the NDA government for failing to appoint judges in various High Courts despite the collegium clearing some of the names more than nine months ago, in which a livid Thakur told Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, “You can as well close down the courts. Close down justice.”

Judges appointment row: CJI TS Thakur lambasts Centre, says ‘courts lying vacant without judges’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking on the Centre for sitting over appointments of High Court judges, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Saturday asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s attitude was lackadaisical from the very issue of filling vacancies to providing adequate infrastructure.Stating that there are 500 judges’ posts lying vacant in High Courts, Thakur said that courtrooms are lying vacant without judges. He further said that in principle, the judiciary was not against the formation of Tribunals because it would relieve court duties, but the problem arose from the lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the Tribunals.”Tribunals are not equipped and are lying empty. Today a situation has come that when no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I am pained to send my retired colleagues there. Government is not ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal,” Thakur said.The Centre and the top court have been at war since the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, which was brought in to end more than 20-year-old practice of judges appointing judges under the collegium system, with government having no say in the process. Earlier, the Centre had conveyed to Supreme Court that it had returned to the collegium or its reconsideration of 43 of the 77 names recommended for the appointment of judges in various High Courts and that the remaining 34 have been appointed as judges.On October 28, the apex court had lashed out at the NDA government for failing to appoint judges in various High Courts despite the collegium clearing some of the names more than nine months ago, in which a livid Thakur told Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, “You can as well close down the courts. Close down justice”.”Today we have a situation where courtrooms are locked because there are no judges. For example, Karnataka where one floor is shut. Why don’t you lock the courts and lock out justice”. Executive inaction is decimating the institution,” the CJI had said.Addressing a joint conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts earlier in April, Justice Thakur had made an emotional plea to the government to help upgrade judicial infrastructure and start addressing the glaring problem of shortage of judges.The CJI broke down in front of the Prime Minister and said in a choked voice that he regretted ‘inaction’ on the government’s part in strengthening judicial infrastructure and increasing the judge-population ratio to tackle the ?avalanche? of cases.

2008 Mumbai Attacks: In idle moments, memories of attack haunt, says 26/11 survivor

Mumbai: Dr N P Vaswani, who stared the death in the face eight years ago, says he is so busy that he has no time to look back and this has kept him going. But when Vaswani, a survivor of Mumbai terror attack of November 2008, has time to think, the memory haunts him.

“By God’s grace I am so busy, that I don’t look behind. But when I sit idle I feel disturbed. Whole day I am busy with my patients, if I had been idle, I would have died. So, my work has kept me alive,” he told PTI as another anniversary of the attack which began on 26 November, 2008, approaches.

Not much seemed to have changed in terms of security post the attack, he said.

“I am still scared to sit in my clinic and the fear is still there. They should improve the security. What I’am seeing is not security. They have put up CCTVs, but nobody keeps a watch whether it’s working or not. CCTVs are not being utilised to the extent they should be. So the security is just on paper.”

Recounting his experience of the fateful night, he said, “I was face to face with a terrorist. I was fired upon, but I escaped….Somebody who came to protect me died on the spot.”

Reuters

Reuters

“I was in (Hotel) Taj. I had an appointment with a High Court judge at 10 pm, so I came down from the lift and saw everybody dead on the floor. Not a single soul was alive.

“There was a person in black dress who asked me not to venture out as some kind of gang-war was going on outside,” Dr Vaswani said.

“I said gangwar keeps on happening and stepped ahead, but this person jumped and tried to protect me. Seeing this, the terrorist shot at the person, leaving him dead. I got into lift and escaped upstairs to the room of my patient. I was in the room whole night and (next) whole day until commandos came and rescued me,” he said.

“I was the first person to be rescued because my patient was the mother of the President of Qatar. She was a VIP guest, so the External Affairs Ministry and all got involved,” he said.

Another survivor, Devika Rotawan, said, “I will never be able to forget that night (of November 26, 2008).”

Devika, who was only 13 years old then, said her family’s life changed in a big way in the aftermath of attack.

“There are both positive and negative changes in our lives. The positive change is I have got some award and people have appreciated me. But the downside is my father is jobless now and there is a financial crisis. His business folded up as people stopped dealing with him due to fear of terrorists,” she said.

“There is problem at our village too. People asked us not to visit there, fearing that terrorists might follow us to the village,” she added.

On the ill-fated night, Devika, her father Natwarlal and her brother Akash were waiting for a train at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) when Ajmal Kasab and other terrorists opened fire indiscriminately.

Shot in the right leg, Devika, who became the youngest eye-witness to depose in the court during Kasab‘s trial, had to use crutches for a long time.

The attack by Pakistani terrorists at multiple places across Mumbai left 166 people dead and several others injured.

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 10:45 IST

Supreme Court bans sale of fire crackers in Delhi-NCR to curb rising air pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday banned the sale of fire crackers in Delhi and NCR region until further notice in wake of the alarming air pollution in the region.The top court has asked the Central Pollution Control Board to file a reply within three months regarding harmful effects of fire crackers.Environmentalists were seeking courts intervention in passing orders for ban on sale of firecrackers due to considerable increase in level of pollution in the national capital.The sale of fire crackers will be enforce from today onwards till further order or any hearing by the apex court.The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Tirath Singh Thakur passed this verdict.Earlier, the bench had asked Arjun Gopal, one of the petitioners of the case to put all the materials on record with respect to extent of damage caused by the pollutants on health.In the wake of rising air pollution in the national capital earlier Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung also decided to ban use of firecrackers, except at religion functions.

Note ban: SC fixes hearing on all pleas challenging demonetisation on 2 December

The Supreme Court has fixed the hearing on a batch of pleas challenging demonetisation for 2 December, saying it will examine both the inconvenience aspect and constitutional validity of the 8 November notification in one go.

A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud initially said it would first hold a hearing on the inconvenience faced by the public and steps taken to address them and that the hearing on the validity of the note ban could take place later. But the apex court later agreed to hold hearing on both the aspects simultaneously.

The Centre, represented by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, had requested a stay on the proceedings against its 8 November decision to demonetise high denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, before various high courts and other courts apart from the apex court, saying it will create a lot of confusion. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea on 17 November, after initially refusing to stay the government’s demonetisation notification on 15 November.

The apex court had on 18 November dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea, even warning the Centre of the possibility of riots, according to a Hindustan Times report.

However, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 23 November, sought the response of all the petitioners, who challenged the demonetisation move in different high courts and a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur refused the Centre’s request to stay the proceedings, saying people may get “immediate relief” from them.

“We don’t want to stay it. There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts,” the bench also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The AG on Thursday informed the bench that the situation is “much better” and more than Rs 6 lakh crore has been deposited so far in the banks since the demonetisation move, and that there is a big surge in digital use of money transaction.

He had also said the demonetisation move was aimed at removing the 70 years of “slush money” and the government is monitoring the situation day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

And that the government has set up a committee which will take stock of the ground situation across the country on demonetisation move, after saying that the general rule is that the cash transactions in the market should not be more than four percent of the GDP but it is 12 percent in India.

The bench had questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre and asked why it had squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000, to which the AG said that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 adding that Rs 100 notes are in circulation.

A day before this crucial hearing, the Centre, had filed an affidavit on demonetisation, and said the decision on which a total secrecy was maintained, would now help in proper implementation of the ambitious ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ under which around 22 crore bank accounts for poor people have been opened as reports of unscrupulous elements using these accounts to convert their black money into white surfaced.

Further, demonetisation is seen as a check on the real estate sector where prices get pushed up artificially, reducing the availability of affordable housing for the poor and the middle class. Elaborating on several measures including the “thrust” given for increasing digital payments in the economy through credit and debit cards, internet banking, mobile apps and e-wallets, it said their use has seen a jump of nearly 300 percent in the last 10 days.

In its affidavit, the Centre also gave reasons for maintaining secrecy about the move which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just after 8 pm on 8 November and came into force from the midnight, saying “If elaborate prior arrangement for distribution of new currency notes were made prior to the announcement of the scheme, the very objective of the scheme would have been defeated. Further, the scheme impacts several sectors in the short-term but promises large benefits in the economy in the medium-term.”

Petitions have been filed by a number of people including Sitaram Yechury of the CPI-M, seeking to know what the government was doing to ensure that there was adequate supply of currency notes according to a News 18 report.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 13:35 IST

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