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West Delhi school kids move NGT for more green cover

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aggrieved by the poor air quality due to industries and lack of green cover that is affecting their health, six teenagers from Mundka-Kirari suburbs in West Delhi have moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to seek an increase in green cover and to oppose proposed expansion of industrial activity. The six teenagers — aged between 12 and 16 years — attend schools in the Mundka-Kirari industrial belt and their petition was admitted by the Tribunal last week.The industrial belt in question is spread across eleven municipal wards of Mundka, Nangloi Jat West, Nilothi, Pratap Vihar, Nithari, Kirari Suleman Nagar, Prem Nagar, Sultanpur Majra, Sultanpuri South, Pooth Kalan and Nangloi East. The petition claimed that pollution emitted from industries in this belt is severely affecting the health of “more than 1 lakh children studying in these schools,” and that several students are suffering from breathing problems, especially during winters.Quoting results from the Centre for Science and Environment pollution test of the area, the petition said that PM 2.5 level for 24 hour average was found to be 556 µg/m3, which was 3.8 times higher than rest of Delhi. The petitioners point out that even as the area is already facing poor air quality, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation has proposed to use 147 acres of vacant land for more industrial activity.“Of the 4,626 acres of land in 11 municipal wards, a mere 1 per cent is green whereas 1,400 acres or more than 30 per cent is an industrial area, 62 per cent is a residential area and rest is commercial area. As the area is already highly polluted… it is submitted that no further development of industries should be permitted in the area until existing pollution levels are brought down to permissible levels,” the petitioners prayed.Local residents also approached the Delhi Chief Minister’s office and the Delhi Development Authority with 5,000 signatures to convert the 147 acres into a biodiversity park, the petition claimed. Dewan Singh, a member of the Mundka Kirari Harit Abhiyan, Spoke to DNA said, “There are more than 50 schools in this area and whenever children go out for recreation, they are affected by the industrial pollution.”

SC slams PIL opposing Justice Khehar’s elevation as Chief Justice of India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court termed as “virtually infructuous” a petition filed by a group of lawyers opposing the elevation of Justice J S Khehar as next the Chief Justice of India, observing that the President of India has already issued a notification in this regard.Since the notification appointing Justice J S Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India has already been issued, the petition has virtually become infructuous,” a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and L Nageswara Rao said.”There is nothing left in this petition as the President of India has issued the notification appointing Justice Khehar as the next CJI. Nothing is left in this now. If you want, we can allow you to withdraw the petition,” the bench said.However, the brief hearing witnessed an altercation among the members of the lawyers’ body as its vice president urged the apex court to list the matter for hearing on December 30, while the others urged the bench for liberty to file a plea afresh. To this, the bench observed, “You are fighting among yourselves”. The vice president of the petitioner, National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms, requested the bench that there was something which they wanted to argue and he would call for a general body meeting of the members to decide on these aspects.”But nothing remains in this petition now,” the bench said. Some members of the lawyers’ body told the bench that there was no denial that the petition has become infructuous, so they should be given a liberty to file a fresh plea. The bench noted in its order that the notification appointing Justice Khehar as the next CJI has been issued on December 19.On December 19, President Pranab Mukherjee had cleared the name of Justice Khehar as the next CJI. The present CJI Justice T S Thakur demits office on January 3 next year.In its plea, the lawyers’ body has said that instead of Justice Khehar, Justice J Chelameshwar, who is now the fourth senior-most judge in the apex court, should be elevated as he had given a dissenting view when the National Judicial Appointments Commission was struck down by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Khehar.

Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala Natarajan to be party’s next Gen Secy: AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>J Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan, who remained a wall of support for the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister through thick and thin, will be the new chief of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AlADMK), the party said.”It is clear that Chinnamma (Sasikala) will be the next Gen Secretary of party,” AIADMK Spokesperson C Ponnaiyan told ANI.Several AIADMK functionaries from various districts had earlier urged Sasikala to lead the party on the path shown by Jayalalithaa.After Jayalalithaa’s death, 59-year-old Sasikala was seen prominently by her stand, intermittently standing up and touching Jayalalithaa’s face at Rajaji Hall where the late chief minister’s body was kept in state. Sasikala also performed the last rites at the Marina Beach where Jayalalithaa was buried beside her mentor MGR. Last week, strongly backing Sasikala, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had said she should become general secretary and lead the AIADMK.
ALSO READ Petition filed in SC seeking Centre to probe Jaya deathHe said Sasikala shared Jayalalithaa’s grief, she lived with her as her trusted aide and was like a sister. He said that she imbibed the thoughts and working style of Jayalalithaa by being with her for over 30 years. She lived like Jayalalithaa’s shadow “till Amma’s death,” he added.

Petition challenging PM Modi’s election from Varanasi quashed by HC

Allahabad: The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.

Single judge bench of Justice Vikram Nath allowed the preliminary objection raised by Modi’s counsel and rejected the petition of Ajay Rai, Congress MLA who had lost in the elections in 2014.

“No material has been placed on record to make the petition triable,” the judge said. The court was of the view that the petition was “half-hearted” and termed as “vague and bald statements, based on media reports” the allegations by Rai about the expenditure on Modi’s campaign being far in excess of permissible limits.

Rai, who had finished third and forfeited his deposit in the nearly one-sided electoral battle, had alleged in his petition that “more than Rs 50 crore” had been spent on Modi’s election campaign.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

He had also claimed that a number of posh hotels in the ancient temple town had been booked for the purpose “for the period between 24 April, 2014 and 12 May, 2014 (the date of voting in Varanasi)”.

Rai had also claimed that “more than 400 vans” had been plied for the purpose of canvassing and popularizing slogans like “Har Har Modi Ghar Ghar Modi” and “Abki Baar Modi Sarkar”.

However, the court concurred with the submission of Modi’s counsel and Additional Solicitor General of India Satyapal Jain that “the petitioner has failed to place any material on record to establish that these expenses were made directly by the candidate or by his supporters upon his directions”.

“While making an allegation that more than Rs 50 crore were spent, the petitioner has failed to specify who made these payments and to whom and what was the mode of payment. There is a lack of specific pleadings and the allegations are merely vague and bald statements based on media reports,” the court remarked.

Dictation of the order by the judge began on Monday and concluded on Wednesday.

Earlier, the court had also turned down the petitioner’s other contention that by writing “not known” in columns meant for assets and liabilities of his wife Jashodaben, Modi had failed to provide details in his nomination papers as required under law.

Pointing out that laws relating to elections were “highly technical”, the court stated that “it was mandatory on part of the petitioner to establish that Mr Modi was in full knowledge of the assets and liabilities of Jashodaben and yet he did not disclose the same in his papers”.

“However, no such thing was stated by the petitioner.This does not make the petition a case fit for intervention,” the court added.

Rai, who had filed the petition in June, 2016, less than a month after results for the Lok Sabha polls were declared, represents Pindra in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. Starting off as a BJP MLA in the 1990s, he parted ways with the party during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls wherein he contested unsuccessfully as a Samajwadi Party candidate from Varanasi. The seat was bagged by BJP heavyweight Murli Manohar Joshi.

He then joined the Congress ahead of the 2012 assembly polls and impressed the party by winning the newly carved out seat.

He was fielded from Varanasi in the 2014 general elections with the party hoping that as a “local” he would be able to make a mark in the high-voltage electoral battle which had become centred around Modi and Aam Aadmi Party’s Kejriwal.

However, Rai finished a distant third and lost his deposit even as Modi went on to win the seat, beating Kejriwal – his nearest rival – by a margin of more than 3.71 lakh votes.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 18:58 IST

Delhi HC seeks Centre’s response on plea to bar MPs, MLAs from poll

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court asked the Centre on Wednesday for a response on a plea that sitting Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies should not participate in poll campaigns for their parties.A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice VK Rao said that the issue needs consideration and, therefore, the government should file a counter affidavit with regard to the averments made in the petition.The bench fixed March 8, 2017, for further hearing on the issue.The petition has contended that ministers, MPs and MLAs are public servants and under the law, public servants are prohibited from participating in elections except to the extent of casting their vote.Petitioner Mohan Singh Sharma, a retired sub-inspector, has said that after MPs and MLAs take oath, “it should be presumed that they will only work for the nation and not for any political party during their tenure”.

Bengaluru steel flyover: NGT stay has bought us time to gear up for legal battle, say petitioners

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday restrained the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) from proceeding with the steel flyover project for four weeks because it had not got any environmental clearance. This has bought the campaigners and petitioners time to re-group and get their papers to gear up for the next legal and political phase of the battle.

The petition against the steel flyover was filed by the Citizens Action Forum (CAF), a decade-old non-profit civil society organisation, which has been bringing into notice several civic issues faced by Bengaluru.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The petition raised the point that the project has been implemented without obtaining environmental clearance under the EIA Notification, 2006; the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. Furthermore, the project did not consult public which is mandatory. The state authorities, too, failed to address the concerns raised by the urban planning experts and concerned citizens.

The citizens’ campaign against the Rs 1,791-crore steel project gathered support from several citizens’ organisations, including CAF. Considered to be the longest flyover at a 6.72 km stretch, it was expected to be completed in 24 months. The project was given to Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) and Nagarjuna Ltd, with the BDA overseeing it. The BDA was to acquire around one acre for the project. The steel flyover would have involved the destruction of three flyovers, two skywalks and one magic box underpass and the chopping of 812 trees, intrinsic to the spirit of Bengaluru. The Karnataka government had given a go ahead for the project and the BDA had even issued a letter of acceptance to L&T on Wednesday, as they felt that highway projects did not need any environmental clearance.

Firstpost reached out to the founder president of CAF, NS Mukunda to gather further details on their petition and the NGT stay.

FP: What has the NGT stay benefited you?

Mukunda: We filed the petition a couple of days ago and our lawyers informed us that we had got a stay for one month. Now, we can sit across the table with the government and ask it to reconsider the project, talk technicalities and functionalities of the project and discuss alternate proposals. I don’t have the details yet, the NGT order will probably come after the Diwali holidays.

FP: Why do you think the government was so adamant to go ahead with the project despite so much opposition from the citizens?

Mukunda: It’s purely a political issue, it had become the Congress vs the others.

FP: Also, how did the BDA go ahead with the project without environmental clearance?

Mukunda: The BDA felt that highway projects don’t need environmental clearance, but now that NGT has ordered a stay they cannot wiggle out of this. They must acquire environmental clearance.

FP: What does this mean for the steel flyover “beda” campaign now? Where do you go from here?

Mukunda: It only strengthens our case. As far as the legal battle is concerned, we now have time to collect more documents and papers that have been written by Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and other bodies on traffic-related issues to support our case. The stay has also bought us time to work on the political front. Plus, we need to address the issues that the “Beku” group is raising with concrete ideas on why the steel flyover is a flop. They have genuine concerns – we need to create more awareness among them about the alternate solutions to their immediate traffic congestion issues.

We have to also form core groups to tackle the legal, technical and political fronts.

FP: Will you be reducing the public mobilisation campaign now?

Mukunda: No, we have already begun setting up social media groups with key volunteers in every area to channelise the ground-level support we got for this campaign. We need the participation of citizens in all major and key issues concerning the city in the future too.

FP: So, what are your alternative proposals to the steel flyover?

Mukunda: The steel flyover is not a long-term solution. Even after a year, we will be facing the same traffic congestion. Erecting the flyover would have only been a short-term solution at an astronomical cost of Rs 2,000 crores. There are enough studies to show that airport passenger traffic will cross 35 million in 10 to 12 years, from the 17 million today. This means that about 6.5 lakhs vehicles will be passing through the Kempegowda International Airport route on a daily basis. The steel flyover wouldn’t work in this situation.

One of the cost-effective and long-term alternative solutions can be to develop two alternate roads and revive the commuter rail links to the airport. Right now, 40 percent of the air traveller traffic comes from Krishnarajpuram, Whitefield and Hosekote. Another 30 percent comes from Electronic City and Athibele and the rest comes from Central Business District (CBD) and other areas in Bengaluru. All these converge on the Hebbal flyover, creating traffic congestion.

Part A of the alternate proposal is to segregate this traffic. Strengthening the existing alternate roads through road widening and improvements so that all commuters don’t have to use the Hebbal flyover. CBD and other areas can continue to use the Hebbal flyover, but travellers from the other two regions can use these two alternate roads.

Part B is to develop the commuter rail links. One circuit can run from Whitefield to Devanahalli KIA and another from E-city to Devanahalli. The rail link will ease 25 percent of the traffic. Unfortunately, unlike other countries, Indian air travellers prefer private vehicles over the rail link to reach the airport. That’s why the proposal allocates only 25 percent traffic to the rail link. But the other 75 percent traffic can be taken care of by the three roads.

Of course, all this will take two years, but the steel flyover would also have taken two years. Here we have a long-term solution which will cost only Rs 2,500 crores. It will have no environmental pollution and will not disrupt regular airport traffic as the steel flyover project would have done.

FP: What are the other issues undertaken by CAF?

Mukunda: We get involved with most problems concerning Bengaluru, be it water, traffic, building violations and garbage. Our motive is to get citizens involved in decisions that affect our day to day life in the city.

In 2008, we won the property tax petition where the government wanted to impose tax on capital value of a property, we got it done on the annual rental value of a building instead. This was our major victory.

We have also taken up the issue of Cauvery water supply to Bengaluru. We have research on our side to prove that we have enough water to cater to Bengaluru’s drinking water needs and we don’t need Cauvery water. We need to interconnect Arkavathy to all the lakes; revive 217 lakes in Bengaluru; and make all the catchment areas in these lakes work. We have enough rainwater, but most of it goes into stormwater drains and gets mixed with sewage. It is estimated, that every person needs 135 litres of water, but 65 litres of this precious Cauvery water that has been pumped up to Bengaluru gets flushed down the toilets. Through a four-pronged program, we can create enough water for the city and if we do this, Cauvery water can be used as a buffer.

Our fourth area of work is traffic issues and the steel flyover comes under this.

Writ Petition Steel Flyover by Firstpost on Scribd

Bombay HC allows US couple to make representation to Govt on embryos

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Wednesday allowed a US couple to make a representation to the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and Department of Family Welfare of the Centre to allow them to take back to their country eight embryos kept by them in a hospital following a recent ban by India on commercial surrogacy.A division bench headed by Justice Shantunu Kemkar allowed the couple to make a representation to the respondents and asked the Centre to decide on it within three weeks. The bench gave liberty to the respondents to file an affidavit in case they decided to reject the representation. The lawyer of the US couple Ashutosh Kumbhkoni made a request on their behalf to the bench urging that they may be allowed to submit a representation to the DGFT and the concerned Ministry through the lawyer of the respondents.Since Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh is appearing on behalf of the Centre, the representation to the government would be forwarded through him. Kumbhkoni also informed that the embryos had to be kept at a low temperature in cold storage at their (US couple’s) own cost every day and thus they had to incur expenditure on this. Almost a week ago, the same bench had directed the US couple to make DGFT and Ministry of Family Welfare as party respondents to their petition.The Judges were of the view that import and export regulations are governed by DGFT and it should be made a party. Moreover, the petition concerned embryos and hence Family Welfare department should be heard in this matter. Kumbhkoni had argued that the government should not adopt an adversarial approach and must find out a solution to the problem.”These are our embryos and what will the government do with them. We had brought them to India in accordance with the laws of this country and after seeking permission of the authorities. Now that surrogacy is banned in India, we want to take them back,” the couple’s lawyer had argued.Earlier, hearing a petition filed by the American couple, the court had served notices to the respondents and asked them to spell out the government policy on the issue.During the hearing of petition last month, the bench had asked the couple how they could file this petition because the Constitution gave such right only to Indian citizens. However, Kumbhkoni argued that Article 21 of the Constitution gave such a right to every person, even to foreign nationals.”This is because right to life includes right to have a baby and hence the couple has a right to file such petition in the high court,” the lawyer had argued.The petition said the couple tried to have a baby for many years but failed. The doctors had advised them surrogacy. Accordingly, the American doctors, with the help of the couple’s sperms and eggs, created the embryos and advised them to get a surrogate mother. The couple sent the embryos to India by a special courier (in a frozen state). All the embryos are currently lying in a hospital at Powai in Mumbai. The couple had also obtained surrogacy visa and came to India by following the procedure.In April 2015, the Indian Council for Medial Research had given no objection certificate to the couple to import their frozen embryos from USA. Accordingly, they were sent to India.Meanwhile, in November 2015, the Centre announced a change in policy and banned surrogacy for foreign couples. The couple then asked the hospital authorities to return their embryos but they refused to part with the embryos saying that import and export of embryos was banned in India as per the new policy rules. Thereafter, the couple approached the Indian government which also refused to allow them take back the embryos saying that while banning surrogacy it had also banned import and export of foetus also.The couple argued that taking back their embryos did not amount to exporting them and the authorities should not interpret or make policy decisions that were against the basic tenets of fairness, law and human rights. Their lawyer had submitted that technically taking back the embryos was not an export because they were seeking to restore them back to the place from where they had originated.

Police now intervenes in Ashoka University matter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police has initiated action against those who were a part of a petition in Ashoka University, supporting plebiscite in Kashmir. Haryana police has sought details about the email through which the petition was circulated and those who were involved in signing of the petition. The alumni member who initiated the petition is also being kept a watch over by the police. The police officials from Haryana’s Sonepat district visited the campus recently and submitted a letter to the Vice Chancellor seeking a report on the issue. “We have sought information on what was the e-mail that has been circulated and the action that has been taken on the students on the basis of the mail. Once we get the reply to the mail, we will take further action on its basis,” a senior police officer from Sonepat district said. “An ex-student had started the petition. We are keeping a watch on the student and those who are related to him,” the official added. A petition signed by 88 members of the university, addressed to the J&K government and the central government that condemned the violence after militant Burhan Wani’s death got circulated on social media. Following this, two members of the administrative staff quit the university, even as they cited personal reasons for this, the petition was being cited as the reason. Meanwhile, amidst fears of a clampdown of free speech in the university, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Rudrangshu Mukherjee in an internal communication to the students and faculty members reiterated: “Ashoka University is committed to free speech and the question of diluting this commitment does not arise”. “I would like to clarify that no staff or faculty have been dismissed for expressing their opinion by signing a petition,” he added. He also added that the “Kashmir petition’’ expressed the views of a very small group within the Ashoka community.

Fadnavis govt dragged to Bombay High Court for keeping Advocate General post vacant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dragging the Devendra Fadnavis government to Bombay High Court on the issue of vacant post of Advocate General, the Congress Legislator Sanjay Dutt on Friday submitted a writ petition seeking cancellation of the appointment of the “Acting Advocate General” Rohit Deo who has been handling the charge since erstwhile Advocate General Sreehari Aney had put in his papers in March.Challenging the constitutional validity of the Fadnavis government due to the absence of Advocate General (AG), Dutt in his petition also sought direction from the Court declaring that the post of ‘Acting Advocate General’ as unconstitutional.The petition is expected to be heard in mid-November when the Court opens after Diwali vacation.“As long as the Advocate General’s post is lying vacant, the Government cannot be said to have been properly formed. The government cannot operate without appointing an Advocate-General as mandated by the provisions of Article 165 of the Constitution,” says Dutt’s petition seeking immediate hearing of the matter which is of “national importance”.Challenging the appointment of Acting AG, the petition says, “Any other lawyer appointed under Article 162 of the Constitution, and designed in any manner as the Government deems fit, is not authorised to perform any constitutional and statutory functions of the AG.” Stating that the constitution has no provision for the post of Acting Advocate General, Dutt has sought the Court’s direction to the Fadnavis government to withdraw the charge given to the “Acting Advocate General” till the pendency of this case.Petition points out that acting AG Deo is also working as a full time Associate Advocate General and as the Additional Solicitor General at Nagpur. In addition to these two full time, serious and heavy responsibilities, the State Government has given him an appointment of “Acting Advocate General’ for more than 7 months.“It is humanly impossible to discharge effectively the responsibilities and duties of these three posts simultaneously by one individual, keeping in view the volume of work occupant of each of these posts is expected to discharge, that too by constantly travelling between Bombay and Nagpur,” reads the petition.“How come Maharashtra which contributes 25% of industrial output, 23% of the GDP and has given the nation great scholars like Dr. B.R Ambedkar, sports and film icons, cannot find and appoint an AG?” asks Petition.“I was forced to approach Court after the failure of the Government in making a regular appointment of an Advocate General, in spite of the fact that I have on two occasions raised the same issue in the Legislative Council. An incorrect answer was by the government to justify the post of acting AG. The CM in the Upper House had cited the precedence of 24 times when acting AG was appointed. What he didn’t tell that all these were during British period.”To back his case, Dutt has also highlighted the crucial duties, status and powers of the AG. “The AG being a constitutional post is at par with that of the Chief Minister. He is the trustee of the general public. The AG is the only non-elected individual who is entitled to address the Houses of Legislature.”Dutt had earlier approached the Supreme Court last month raising the same issue. However, the Apex Court has asked him to seek recourse in the High Court first.While his move is being dubbed as a political one, Dutt justifies, “The present Petition has been filed for the simple reason that one of the most important constitutional offices of the state government is lying vacant despite requests in the Legislature. I was left with no other option but to approach the Court.”Dutt also clarifies that he was not casting any aspersions on the abilities and character of the incumbent who is in charge of the post of the Advocate-General of the state of Maharashtra. Therefore, he has not been made as a party to the case.

Love child gets passport after mother moves Bombay High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a long legal battle, a child born to an unmarried woman has received passport. The woman had moved the Bombay High Court after passport authorities rejected the application of her minor girl child, contending that it was mandatory that the name of the child’s biological father be mentioned in the application form.The passport authorities informed the court on Wednesday that since the passport has now been issued to the child, the petition has become infructous. Accordingly it was withdrawn.In her plea, the woman stated that she was lured into a relationship by a man on the pretext of marriage. He also promised her that he will take care of her family. Believing the assurances to be true, she entered into a relationship with him and conceived soon. The child was born on October 19, 2010.Gradually, the man stopped visiting her and the child. She later found out that the man was already married and has a child. The woman eventually got married to another man and the couple had a boy. Things turned sour, however, when the girl’s father sought her custody. A family court heard the matter and granted access to the biological father.The HC stayed that decision, according to the petition, which further stated, “When the woman filled an application with her husband’s name in the column where father’s name has to be mentioned, the passport official demanded biological father’s name. ” Aggrieved by the authorities’ stand, the woman moved the court, seeking directions to the passport authorities to issue a passport in the name of her husband.A division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and BP Colabawala allowed the petition to be withdrawn and asked the passport authorities to observe caution in future, so that the authorities were not used by estranged couples to settle scores, using their minor children.

Supreme Court dismisses petition seeking ban on WhatsApp

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking a ban on WhatsApp on the ground that the messaging platform’s end-to-end encryption gives terrorists a means of communication that is impossible to intercept.The petition was filed by a Haryana-based right-to-information (RTI) activist Sudhir Yadav.The petition said WhatsApp has from April started to enable its every message with 256-bit encryption that cannot be broken into.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Even if WhatsApp was asked to break through an individual’s message to hand over the data to the government, it too would fail as it does not have the decryption keys either,” reported IANS quoting petition.Seeking a ban on WhatsApp in India, Yadav said any terrorist or criminal can safely chat on WhatsApp and make plans to harm the country and the Indian intelligence agencies would not be able to tap into their conversations to take necessary actions.Before filing the petition, Yadav had written letters to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Ministry of Communications and IT, but received no reply.

Dadri lynching: Court to hear plea against Mohammad Akhlaq’s family

A court in Noida will on Thursday hear the petition seeking registration of an FIR against the family members of Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched nine months ago on suspicion that his family stored and ate beef at their house.The police had earlier filed its report in the court stating that ‘no FIR’ on charges of cow slaughter and animal cruelty had been lodged against Akhlaq’s family.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petitioner had urged the court to direct the police to register an FIR against Akhlaq’s family members on charges of cow slaughter and animal cruelty.The petition claims that on September 29 last year, two villagers from Bisada, Ranvir and Jatan, saw Akhlaq and his son Danish beat up a calf. Akhlaq allegedly told them that since the calf was attacking the people, he was going to tie up the animal at his brother Jaan Mohammed’s house.The petition said another villager Prem Singh while passing by Akhlaq’s house saw the latter holding the calf down while his brother Jaan Mohammad was slitting the animal’s throat.According to the petitioner, Akhlaq was on September 28 night stopped near Bada transformer by some residents, while others reached his house and found a vessel with remains of some animal and meat.The petitioner claimed the mob got out of control and beat up Akhlaq and his son Danish. Akhlaq was beaten to death.The petitioner had also cited forensic report by the Mathura forensic lab, which said the meat samples sent by the police was of an animal of the cow progeny.

Delhi assembly panel may summon Lt Guv Jung over scams from Congress’ rule: Dy Speaker

Hours after AAP wrote to Lt Governor on Wednesday demanding that he and ACB chief be made “co-accused” in four cases pertaining to alleged scams during the Sheila Dikshit government, Delhi Assembly Deputy Speaker Rakhi Birla said Najeeb Jung might be summoned by Petition Committee of the House for questioning, if required.Birla, who is chairperson of the nine-member Petition Committee of Assembly, said the committee has called its meeting on Thursday where a decision on whether to summon the LG will be taken.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An AAP functionary claimed the committee has power to quiz Lt. Governor. The Committee looks into complaints received from the general public.”We have called a meeting of Petition Committee tomorrow to take a decision on summoning Lt Governor. We have sought legal opinion from the Government’s Standing Council and if required, the LG will be summoned for questioning in connection with the alleged scams,” Birla, who is AAP MLA from Mangolpuri, said.The development comes hours after the AAP wrote to the Lt Governor saying he and ACB chief M K Meena should be made “co-accused” in the four alleged scams, including the one related to the pricing of gas from the KG basin.Ealier in the day, 12 AAP MLAs went to Raj Niwas, the LG’s residence, around 11.30 AM with the demands. They later claimed that Jung “refused” to meet them.The LG Secretariat, however, said Jung’s schedule was already prepared for the day and procedures have to be followed for seeking an appointment. The ruling party legislators then approached Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel and gave him complaints pertaining to the alleged scams.Goel forwarded the letters of Bharti and another AAP MLA Rajendra Pal Gautam, along with complaints received from common public, to the Petition Committee of the House. The development came days after ACB Chief had said Chief Minister Kejriwal may also be quizzed apart from Dikshit in the tanker “scam” case after an FIR was lodged.”You (LG) have been protecting Smt Dikshit in these four FIRs through your inaction. Shri Meena, imposed by the Union government as ACB chief, has also colluded with you in this criminal activity. Kindly forward my letter to ACB with a direction that Shri Meena and yourself should be made co-accused in these four FIRs,” a letter signed by AAP MLA Rajendra Pal Gautam said.

Dawood call logs: Hacker files plea in Bombay HC for CBI probe against Eknath Khadse

A Gujarat-based person, who claims to have hacked the call records of Dawood Ibrahim, on Monday filed a petition in Bombay High Court seeking protection for himself and CBI probe against Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse for alleged calls between him and the underworld don. The HC, however, said there was no urgency for a vacation bench to hear the petition. Vadodara-based hacker Manish Bhangale’s advocate mentioned the petition today before the vacation bench of justices B R Gavai and B P Colabawalla and sought urgent hearing while claiming that the petitioner has been receiving death threats. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench, however, said there was nothing urgent in the petition. It directed the petitioner to mention the petition before the regular bench once the high court resumes after vacation on June 6. Bhangale claims to have hacked the authentication process of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd in April this year from which he acquired the telephone records of underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim.According to Bhangale’s petition, the information also includes alleged phone calls between Dawood and Maharashtra Revenue Minister Khadse. According to the petition, Bhangale then tried to get in touch with the Prime Minister’s office and the office of National Security Advisor, but in vain. “After media broke the news, I was approached by Mumbai Police’s crime branch which took all information from me but till date there has been no case registered or action taken,” the petition states.The petition alleges that Bhangale fears all the information he has provided to the police may be sabotaged. “Instead of recording statements and perusing evidence, the state government and police have shown haste in giving clean chit to the minister. The global data of telephone numbers gathered by me (petitioner) from the telephone bills of Dawood Ibrahim has the potential of exposing his financial empire ranging from films to cricket betting,” the petition claims. Bhangale has requested the HC to constitute a special team of CBI to probe the matter and submit periodical reports to the court. He has also sought protection for himself as he fears a threat to his life.The Aam Aadmi Party had recently demanded ouster of Khadse, alleging that calls were made from Dawood’s residence in Karachi to his mobile phone, a charge the minister rubbished as “baseless” saying the phone number was not in use for last one year.

Kerala HC directs CBSE board to not infringe on Muslim girls’ rights

On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court, directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to allow female Muslim candidates who wanted to wear their head-scarf and long-sleeved dress in accordance with their religious practice to sit for the All-India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT) – 2016. A report in The New Indian Express states that the court asked these students should be at the exam venue 30 minutes prior to the exam so that a woman invigilator if required, could search their body. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Justice A Muhammad Mushtaq issued the order on the petition filed by Amnah Bint Basheer of Pavaratti, Thrissur. Basheer had challenged the dress code which had been prescribed by the CBSE for candidates who wanted to write this exam on May 1. In the bulletin issued by the CBSE, candidates were asked to ‘wear light clothes with half-sleeve, without large buttons brooch/badge/flower etc., with salwar/trouser’. Basheer in her petition stated that she practised Islam and as per the Quran, women should ‘cover their body, except face, with loose garments, and should not appear in public in the company of non-blood related men’.In her petition, she reportedly said, “The dress code set by the CBSE has violated the fundamental right of the petitioner to practise religion, including wearing of the dress prescribed by her religion. As per Article 25(1) of the Constitution, every citizen has been guaranteed the fundamental right to profess and practise his/her religion.” Basheer also added that the CBSE had been implementing their dress code strictly and that candidates were allowed into the exam hall only if their instructions were followed. In her petition, she wrote, “Therefore, unless instruction on the dress code is quashed, there is every possibility of the CBSE prescribing the dress code in future. If the real intent of the CBSE is to ensure a free and fair examination, the same could be achieved by frisking, instead of setting arbitrary and unreasonable conditions.”

Allow atheists to take oath in the name of Constitution: PIL

Two Pune residents have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court (HC), seeking directions to lower courts and its staff to allow atheists to take oaths while deposing in court by keeping their hands on the Indian Constitution.Sunil Mane and wife Laxmikanta Mane, in their petition, cited two court incidents, in Bhiwandi and Pune, where two government officers had wanted to take oath by putting their hands on the Constitution, but were not allowed to do so.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the Oaths Act of 1969, which is still in force, a witness can swear by Universal God without referring to any religious denomination, the petition said.The format prescribed is: “I do swear in the name of God, solemnly affirm that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”Further, it says that inside courts ‘the Constitution of India’ is the only holy book. The petitioners wish to assert that the Constitution is, in fact, the only modern sacred book and the democratic values in the society are real progressive thought of religion to be followed. A person of any religion cannot object to taking oath on the Constitution as it is our duty to abide by the Constitution. This will help in unnecessary flaring of communal thoughts, and also not create problems for people who are atheists.The petition states that cases like those of the two public servants are happening in various courts, but in the absence of any legal provision, the courts are not allowing the witnesses to depose.People who are not believers but have full faith in the Indian Constitution are being denied permission to depose during judicial proceedings at various levels in Maharashtra when they request that they will administer oath in the name of the Indian Constitution.The liberty of thoughts, expression, belief and faith is inclusive of not keeping any belief on concept of God and all such persons also have the right to follow their belief and faith.The petition, which will come up for hearing in due course, prays for directions from the court to declare that those, who are not willing to take oath in the name of God or by putting their hands on any religious book, shall be allowed to take oath in the name of Indian Constitution. Guidelines are issued to all courts in Maharashtra with respect to The Oaths Act 1969 and Indian Constitution. All courts in Maharashtra are given instruction on taking suo moto action proactively against the people giving false affidavits

Maharashtra drought: Mumbai student bats for saving water, launches online petition

Following the controversy over watering grounds to host IPL matches in Maharashtra which is facing a drought, a city-based college student has launched an online petition for judicious use of water and has received over 6,000 signatures so far.City-based Rushabh Mamania, who started this petition on Change.org, said, “I was inspired by people’s response to waterless holi in the wake of drought in Maharashtra. Many people are not aware of the wastage of water in the IPL so I thought to make them aware by filing the online petition.” A total of 6,041 people have signed the petition that would be submitted to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, requesting him to take steps to avoid water wastage and shift the IPL matches out of the state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How can we remain insensitive to the continuing farmers’ tragedy in our own state? Can you turn a blind eye to the sufferings of our farmers, who are the ‘annadatta’ (provider of food),” his petition reads. Rushabh’s petition is co-addressed to BCCI president Shashank Manohar and Mumbai Cricket Association president Sharad Pawar. His petition has a picture of a farmer looking up in the sky with his hands folded in prayer, in what is evidently an emotional appeal to the rain gods.Explaining the amount of water required to prepare a ground to host a cricket match in the state, Rushabh said, “A standard cricket/football oval requires a minimum of 80,000 to 1,00,000 litres of water per application. Approximately 2 to 3 applications are required per week (1,60,000 to 3,00,000 litres per week) to maintain turf growth and repair damaged areas. More water is needed in hot windy conditions and less in cooler conditions.”This year’s IPL starts in Mumbai from April 9. A total of 19 matches will be played in Maharashtra’s three cities- Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur.”Thus, in the 19 Matches to be played in Maharashtra more than 70 lakh litres of water will be used to maintain the cricket grounds. When our state is affected by drought will it be wise to waste 70 lakh litres of water?” he asked.

Bharat Mata slogan row: Man who filed PIL against Owaisi gets threat letter

Pune-based activist Hemant Patil has received a threat letter asking him to withdraw his PIL in Bombay High Court against AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and party MLA in Maharashtra Waris Pathan for refusing to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.”I have filed a complaint at Vishrantwadi police station in Pune under section 507 IPC (criminal intimidation) against an unknown person and will take up the matter with the High Court when the public interest litigation comes up for hearing,” Patil told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Police Inspector P N Supekar confirmed that a non-cognisable complaint has been filed and investigations are underway.The letter, written in Marathi language on a postcard by an unidentified person, asked Patil to take back the petition he had filed in high court against Owaisi. It also says that Owaisi is “like God to Muslims and anything against him would not be tolerated”.The letter further said, “Hemant Patil, we will kill you, if you pursue the matter in the high court.” The PIL had urged the court to order an inquiry into speeches made by Owaisi and Pathan recently in which they had allegedly dishonoured the country by making some remarks.The petition had contended that the speeches made by them amounted to spreading communal disharmony and hurting national integrity and unity of the country. Such remarks are anti-national and have the tendency to break the social fabric of the society and divide the people on the basis of religion and parochial issues, said Patil, who heads the NGO Bharat against Corruption.The petition, which is slated to come up for hearing in due course, also demanded a ban on All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), saying that remarks made by the duo amounted to violation of Representation of the People’s Act and were against the basic principles of Constitution.The PIL further sought a direction to the Maharashtra government, Director General of Police and Secretary of Home department to call for the records in respect of speeches delivered by Owaisi at a public rally in Latur and Pathan’s utterances in the state Legislative Assembly that they would not say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.The petition had alleged that Owaisi and his partymen were continuously engaged in delivering speeches which spread communalism and endanger national integration.

Shani temple row: PIL challenges ban on women’s entry

A public interest litigation has been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the century-old tradition of prohibiting entry of women inside the core shrine area of Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.The PIL, filed by two women activists Vidya Bal and Nilima Varta, seeks directions to the state government and temple authorities to ensure that the prohibition is set aside and women are given entry not just inside the temple but also in the sanctum sanctorum. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petition claims that the prohibition is arbitrary, illegal and violative of the fundamental rights of a citizen. Besides, such a prohibition also encourages gender disparity, the petition said.Women, as per an over century-old tradition, were not allowed to enter the Shani temple till 2011. However, after rationalists carried out mass awareness campaigns, women were allowed to enter the temple but are prohibited from the core shrine area. Today, women are not permitted to climb up the ‘chauthara’ (platform) where the rock idol of Lord Shani is installed.On January 26, around 400 women activists, who tried to head for Shani Shinganapur temple in Ahmednagar district defying prohibitory orders to worship the deity, were detained at Supa village, about 70 kms from the temple and later released.This came after a woman apparently in ignorance -stepped onto to the unlocked platform last year and a purification process was performed by villagers, angering women activists and several sections of the society. The petition will come up for hearing in due course before a bench of Justices N H Patil and A A Sayed.

‘Appoint IIT to upload state Acts on govt website’, HC directs Maha

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed Maharashtra government to appoint Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here as an agency to submit a project report on uploading state Acts and amendments on the government website.

A bench, headed by Justice Abhay Oka, hearing a petition, also directed that the IIT should design a comprehensive programme to upload bare Acts on government website immediately after it is passed or an amendment is carried out.

The IIT has been asked to carry out the task as expeditiously as possible.

Representational image of IIT-B. IBNLiveRepresentational image of IIT-B. IBNLive

Representational image of IIT-Bombay. IBNLive

The bench also directed that all the existing state Acts should be uploaded on government website in six months.
As per existing rules, the government has to invite tenders for carrying out a project costing over Rs 3 lakhs.

However, in this case, the high court directed that the state can ignore the tender process and straight away appoint the IIT as the agency to submit a report on uploading Acts on its website.

The high court also made it clear that in future when a new Act is framed or an amendment carried out in any Act, it should be uploaded on the website in two days.

The bench also said that the state should make available a copy of the Act or the amendment to the High Court library.
The high court named the Joint Secretary of Law and Judiciary department as the officer responsible for implementing the process of uploading Acts on government website.

It was hearing a petition filed by High Court administration seeking certain facilities for the courts.

On behalf of the High Court administration, senior counsel S R Nargolkar argued that copies of the Acts published by the government are often not available in the courts and the judges cannot rely on privately-published Acts because they may contain mistakes. Hence it is necessary to upload the provisions of the Acts on government website, he argued.

The petition also seeks separate enclosures in courts for the minors who are examined under Protection of Children from
Sexual Offences Act.

Currently, a minor witness/victim has to depose while facing the accused. This can put the child under pressure and inhibit him or her from telling the truth, Nargolkar said.

The petition also demands round-the-clock security in every court, saying that documents and seized evidence material stored in courts must be guarded.

The government said steps were being taken to provide 24-hour security. CCTV cameras were installed in Bandra court here and there was a proposal to provide them in other courts all over the state.

The next hearing would be on March 2.


After lawyer-student scuffle, SC agrees to urgently hear JNU’s Kanhaiya Kumar’s sedition case tomorrow

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to give an urgent hearing on Wednesday to a plea seeking action against those involved in thrashing journalists and JNU students and teachers in the Patiala House court complex where a student union leader was to be produced.


Supreme Court of Inida. AFP

The petition filed by N D Jaiprakash, an alumnus of JNU, who was hurt in the violence on Monday, sought action against the people involved in the violence and over “inaction” on the part of Delhi Police.

The petition, which was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief J T S Thakur by senior advocate Indira Jaising, also demanded that the security measures in the court complex should be such that no person becomes victim of violence.

The petition said the violence witnessed in the court not only endangered the life of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested in a case of sedition, but also prevented journalists from carrying out their work of reporting court proceedings. It said the Kanhaiya will be produced in court again on expiry of his police remand.

The petition also sought a direction to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Delhi Police to take all preventive action so that no such violence takes place either inside the court room or within the court complex as such type of activities in the court complex put the life of the accused in peril.


‘Ashamed to refer to the institution as alma mater’: TERI alumna slams Pachauri reinstatement

In light of the latest developments in the RK Pachauri case, a growing number of former students at TERI University and employees at TERI have been speaking out. The following is a letter from a TERI University alumna who is concerned about the message TERI is sending out by reinstating Pachauri despite the grave allegations against him:

I am an alumna of TERI University. It is the place where I, as a Masters student of Natural Resource Management way back in 2008, was exposed to inspiring teachers and a wonderful peer group. It is where I explored my own interests as a young woman and budding researcher. TERI University served me well and I have proudly watched it expand. Today, TERI alumni hold important posts in prestigious organisations, tackling some of the most critical problems of our generation — from climate change to energy access, from disaster management to environmental policy.

File image of RK Pachauri. AFP

File image of RK Pachauri. AFP

And so, the events of the past year sadden and anger me deeply. What actually happened? In mid-February, 2015, a young female employee of TERI lodged an FIR against Dr RK Pachauri on charges of sexual harassment amounting to molestation and criminal intimidation. Despite these charges, he continued to be the Director-General of TERI and the complainant quit the organisation, frustrated with inaction within TERI. Despite being removed as IPCC chief and remaining under investigation, Dr Pachauri was recently appointed as a vice-chairman with executive powers at TERI.

As an alumna and (until now) proud member of the TERI community, this development is a significant letdown. Over this week, alumni across batches have united to demand the governing council to reconsider its decision to reinstate Dr Pachauri. Several others have taken to social media to put pressure on the GC.

The key points about which we, as alumni, are concerned are as follows:

-Continued silence from the governing council, all of whom are eminent public intellectuals and leaders in their fields, and must surely realise that Dr Pachauri’s appointment empowers him to continue to intimidate witnesses of the case, legitimately.
-The message TERI is sending out to their employees and TERI University students by creating an environment of fear and intimidation — where people may feel persecuted for raising their voices against injustice, misconduct, malpractice, discrimination — or in the fear that the alleged accused will be back in a more powerful position.
-The precedent this sets for the wider discourse of gender discrimination and sexual harassment at workplaces in India.

TERI is an internationally renowned organisation — one that has nurtured a wonderful cohort of intellectuals and practitioners. However, the GC’s apathy, Dr Pachauri’s continued appointment, and the complainant’s year-long fight makes me wonder if TERI deserves the stoic support its alumni has always given it. Across batches, alumni are unitedly saying that they are ashamed to refer to the institution as their alma mater. As professionals and individuals committed to safe and fair workspaces, they are asking the TERI GC to reconsider its decision and reinstate the trust of all its employees, student and alumni in the institution once again.

For without its people and their passions, any institution, no matter how tall, is hollow.

Chandni Singh,
MSc Natural Resource Management (TERI University’s batch of 2008)

Here is the petition signed by a number of TERI alumni:

Cover Letter TERI

Fake currency PIL: High Court removes PM, FM and HM as respondents

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday issued notices to Home Ministry, RBI, CAG and others on a public interest litigation on the issue of fake currency notes but deleted the names of Prime Minister, Union Finance Minister and Home Minister as respondents.”We have perused the petition and in our view it is not proper and required to have them (PM, FM and HM) as party respondents in this petition,” a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court had last week come down heavily on the petitioner, RTI activist Manoranjan Roy, for arraigning the Prime Minister of the country as a respondent.The court had warned that it will impose heavy cost on the petitioner but on Tuesday took a soft stand and said it was deleting the names.The bench on Tuesday issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs, RBI, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd and posted the petition for hearing after four weeks.The court, however, noted that even after perusing the petition it has not clearly understood the petitioner’s grievance.Earlier this week, the court had said, “What does the Prime Minister of this country have to do with the issue of fake currency notes? You (petitioner) should have added the concerned ministry as respondent. Such type of frivolous PILs cannot be entertained. You deposit Rs 10 lakh first to prove your bonafide, then we will hear your petition.” “He is the Prime Minister of this country and not some Congress leader or BJP leader. Such PILs are filed just to harass,” the court had observed.

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