Colors dragged to court for vulgarity, ‘fake’ wedding on ‘Bigg Boss’

A civil court here has served notice to the chief executive officer (CEO) of Colors TV channel for showing vulgar content on reality show “Big Boss” and cheating the audience by organising the wedding of an already married couple.

“The court of class two judge Suresh Srivastava served notice to the CEO of Colors TV and told him to be present on November 19,” Yawar Khan, advocate of the petitioner said Saturday.

Shamshul Hasan, a local resident, filed the petition Friday, saying that apart from showing vulgar content, the channel cheated viewers by organising the wedding of participants Sara Khan and Ali Merchant, who are already married.

The wedding has been mired in controversy after the brides parents claimed that Sara and Ali had married two years back.

“The issue is over and we have nothing to say,” Saras mother Seema Khan told when contacted Saturday.

Plan to settle all pending cases within three years: Moily

The central government has taken initiatives to dispose of all pending cases in various courts across the country within three years, union Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily said here Saturday.

 “The union government, besides taking steps for judicial reforms, is also modernising court administration across the country with the latest information technology,” Moily said after inaugurating a new building of the Agartala bench of the Gauhati High Court.

“To settle all pending cases at lower levels within six months, the ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ (rural courts) along with a mobile court system was introduced in October last year across India,” he said.

“The setting up of ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ and introducing mobile courts were significant steps to reduce arrears of legal disputes. The new systems are likely to reduce around 50 percent of the pending cases in subordinate courts,” the minister said.

The union government has taken a series of steps to provide speedy justice to people living in Maoist-ravaged areas, he said.”The centre in association with the state government has taken a number of initiatives to give speedy justice to poor, tribal and economically backward litigants living in the Maoist-devastated areas and states,” the law minister said.

To the applause from lawyers, legislators, bureaucrats and people, the law minister said that necessary process has been initiated to set up a full fledged high court in Tripura within the next few months.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who heads the state’s law department, said that the rampant corruption in judiciary must be checked.

Gauhati High Court Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur said that the latest information technology to be used in the Agartala bench of the high court would be the first of its kind in the country.

Judges appointed without transparency: Delhi high court ex-chief justice

Appointment of judges in India is bereft of transparency and judicial benches need to be more diverse, former Delhi high court chief justice Ajit Prakash Shah said Saturday.

‘Our current appointments system is out of step with democratic culture, primarily because it lacks transparency, and provides for no oversight,’ Shah said.

Known for his outspoken judgments, including the landmark July 2009 verdict de-criminalising homosexuality, Shah was speaking at a seminar ‘Strengthening Democracy: Role of Judiciary’ organised here.

‘At present, choosing judges is based on undisclosed criterion in largely unknown circumstances, reflecting an increasing democratic deficit. We can learn from systems elsewhere,’ Shah said.

‘International consensus seems to favour appointments to the higher judiciary through an independent commission. There should also be a consensus to bring more diversity on the bench,’ he said, adding that less than five percent of judges were female.

Pro-industry tribal groups move court for Vedanta project

At least eight pro-industry tribal groups Friday moved the Orissa High Court against the central environment ministry’s order disapproving the London-listed Vedanta’s refinery expansion in the state citing violations, a lawyer said.

The public suits were filed by residents of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts on behalf of their groups, lawyer Partha Mukherji told.

‘Most of the petitioners are tribal. According to them, the livelihoods of the millions of tribals and residents of the area like them are at stake after the central environment and forests ministry denied the permission for expansion,’ he said.

‘They want restriction imposed by the ministry on the Vedanta expansion project be immediately quashed,’ Mukherji said.

‘In the last three months, most of the shops and markets have been closed. Our people have again started migrating to other states,’ Sridhar Pesina one of the petitioners said.

Last month, the central environment and forests ministry refused to allow Vedanta Aluminium Limited expand its one million tonne per annum refinery in Lanjigarh area in Kalahandi district to six million tonne and the captive power plant to 300 megawatts from 75 megawatts.

However, it allowed the company to continue operations of its one million tonne refinery. The company said it has not violated any laws.

‘Barbaric’ murder of wife deserves noose: Apex court

Crimes against women are ‘social crimes’ and ‘disrupt the entire social fabric’, the Supreme Court Friday noted and asked a man convicted of murdering his wife why his life imprisonment should not be enhanced to death sentence.

The ‘brutal and barbaric’ murder of a wife that ‘outrages the modern conscience’ belongs to the rarest of rare category deserving death sentence, the court noted.

‘In our opinion, the crimes of the nature which has been committed in the present case outrage the modern conscience, and they belong to the rarest of rare category deserving death sentence,’ said the apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra in their order.

Referring to a recent judgment of the apex court, the order said that crimes against women are not ordinary crimes committed in a fit of anger or for property.

The order noted that crimes against women call for harsher punishment.

The court said this while issuing notice to one Sukhdev Singh as to why his life sentence should not be enhanced to death sentence. The court said that Sukhdev Singh would be at liberty to argue the case on merit.

In the instant case, Sukhdev’ wife Daljit Kaur was first strangulated and thereafter burnt. The medical report said that some of the bones of her neck were fractured and there was bleeding on the neck.

‘In our prima facie opinion, these could clearly not be self inflicted injuries. Also, there are burns all over the body,’ the order said. The court also noted that at the time of Daljit’s death her husband Sukhdev Singh was also present in the house.

The court noted that there was evidence Daljit Kaur was being ill-treated by her husband and was often beaten by him. Sukhdev Singh was convicted under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for committing the murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The conviction and sentencing was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court by its impugned order of July 21, 2010.

Now the apex court has issued notice to Sukhdev Singh as to why his life sentence should not be enhanced to death.

Sacking of Haryana Public Service Commission chief upheld

The Supreme Court Friday upheld the Haryana government’s decision to sack former Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) chairman Mehar Singh Saini as well as members Santosh Singh and Ram Kumar Kashyap and declared them ‘guilty of misbehaviour’ on various counts.

They ‘failed to maintain the required standards of integrity and rectitude in performance of their institutional duties expected to be maintained by the holder of such a coveted office’, said an apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar while answering the presidential reference on the issue.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Kumar said that of the nine charges against Mehar Singh Saini, Santosh Singh and Ram Kumar Kashyap, six stood established, two were beyond the scope of the presidential reference and one could be not be proved by the state.

In December 2004, then chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s government appointed Mehar Singh Saini as HPSC chairman and Santosh Singh, wife of a former chairman, as well as Ram Kumar Kashyap as members of the commission. This was just before the model code of conduct came into play ahead of the 2005 assembly elections.

They were accused of committing various irregularities and illegalities, including the acts of favouritism, discrimination and violation of rules/regulations. The state government conducted vigilance inquiries; first information reports (FIRs) were also registered against them.

On Dec 18, 2006. Haryana chief secretary requested the governor to refer the matter to the president of India at the earliest for removal of the chairman and members of the commission under Article 317(1) of the constitution.

Article 317(1) provides the procedure for the removal of the State Public Service Commission chairman or its members by the president, who would take steps after obtaining the opinion of the apex court.

According to Friday’s judgment, there were justifiable grounds for their removal from their respective offices in terms of the article.

The judgment said this while positively answering six of the nine references made by the president to the apex court. ‘Resultantly, the Reference, made by the President of India to this Court, is answered in the affirmative to the above extent.’

The establishment of Public Service Commissions both at the centre and in the states is an important facet of the constitutional scheme, the judgment read.

‘Public Service Commissions are expected to adopt a fair and judicious process of selection to ensure that deserving and meritorious candidates are inducted to the services of the State. This should not only be done but also appear to have been done’, the judgment said while answering the Presidential reference.

‘Great powers are vested in the Commission and therefore, it must ensure that there is no abuse of such powers. The principles of public accountability and transparency in the functioning of an institution are essential for its proper governance,’ it stated.

It further said, ‘The necessity of sustenance of public confidence in the functioning of the Commission may be compared to the functions of judiciary in administration of justice…’

Ishrat Jahan case: apex court upholds special probe team

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by the Gujarat government challenging the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the killings of Ishrat Jahan and three others’ in a suspected fake shootout by the state police.

The Gujarat government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the state high court order to set up SIT to probe the killings.

The appeal was dismissed by an apex court bench of Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjer.

Ishrat Jahan, a college student from Mumbai, was allegedly gunned down by Gujarat police in Ahmedabad June 15, 2004. The state police claimed she was linked with a terror outfit.

Family size can be basis for subsidised food quota: Court

The Supreme Court Thursday asked the central government to consider if the distribution of food grains under the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) for below poverty line (BPL) people could be based on the number of members in a family holding a ration card.

‘You can’t give 35 kg of food grains to a family of 10 members and the same amount of food grains to a family of two,’ said the apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma.

The court told Attorney General G. Vahanvati that if the government wanted to universalize the public distribution system (PDS) then it should consider capping income limit on the beneficiaries who are above poverty line (APL).

The court said that maximum pilferage of food grains happened in the APL category as they were not interested in picking up their entire allocation of ration.

The court wanted the government to answer the question if it was considering computerizing the entire PDS. Computerization of the PDS was recommended by court while pointing to huge corruption in the entire chain culminating in sale at retail.

The court asked the government to consider if state warehousing corporations could be entrusted with the PDS responsibility instead of the existing system of individual shopkeepers running the food grains distribution outlets.

The court asked the government to respond if it could keep the PDS shops open for five to six days in a week instead of existing practice of opening PDS shops for five to six days a month.

The court said that it would help people pick up their allocation of ration as and when they want.

The court asked the Attorney General Vahanvati to respond to its above queries and fixed Dec 1 as next date of hearing.

Responding to earlier court queries, the government told the court that it was taking all the steps for augmenting the storage capacity for food grains.

Eliminate beggary in humane manner, states told

All states have been asked to develop a data base on the extent of beggary and to eliminate it rapidly, but in a ‘humane’ manner, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment D. Napolean said Thursday.

In a written reply, Napolean told the Rajya Sabha that union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik has sought the elimination of beggary, through three main ways.

One is through ‘vigorous implementation of schemes of skill development, employment, food and social security, healthcare’.

Secondly, if the state already has a law to deal with beggary, then ‘review its effectiveness, amend it to the extent necessary and implement it vigorously’.

‘If the state does not have a law presently, enact a new law on priority, to eliminate beggary in a humane manner,’ the minister said, quoting the letter.

The minister has also sought information like the estimated number of beggars in every state, number of rehabilitation homes for them and existing anti-beggary laws in place.

2G spectrum allocation flawless, government tells apex court

The government Thursday told the Supreme Court that the department of telecommunication (DoT) acted in public interest and in pursuance of its policy decision while allocating 2G spectrum licences to telecom operators in 2008.

In an affidavit filed Thursday, the government opposed a plea of petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) that either the court should monitor the investigation into 2G Spectrum matter by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the matter should be investigated by a special investigating team (SIT).

“The allotment process in 2007-08 (of 2G spectrum) was correct as per law and in keeping with the extant policy and procedures,” the affidavit asserted.

The affidavit filed by Sita Ram Meena, assistant director general, DoT, said monitoring of investigations by the court was done in rare and extraordinary circumstances where there was a definite material to show that the investigation was not being carried out in a proper manner.

The government said that pricing of the 2G spectrum fell under the policy making powers of the executive, in which the scope of judicial review was “highly restricted”.

The affidavit described as “wholly incorrect” that the licences in 2G spectrum were issued in disregard to the advice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The prime minister by his letter of Nov 2, 2007, raised certain issues which were replied by the telecom minister on the same day, it said.

The government said that by a letter of Nov 27, 2007, the union finance secretary raised certain queries regarding the entry fee and the telecom secretary replied to these Nov 29, 2007.

“Thereafter, no further reference or communication was received and there was no difference of opinion between the two ministries,” said the affidavit.

Replying to the allegation that 2G spectrum licences were allocated to ineligible companies, the affidavit said the licences were allocated according to the guidelines issued Dec 14, 2005.

The government said that the applicant companies gave an undertaking that if any information furnished by them was found to be incorrect, their application was liable to be cancelled including the licence, if granted.

If any misrepresentation of facts is brought to the notice, necessary action could be taken as per due procedure under the relevant rules, the affidavit said.