Delhi Govt directs Revenue Officials to hold Courts for general public grievances thrice a week

Delhi Government revenue officials will be available from 2.30 PM three days a week to hear citizens’ disputes that comes under the operation of Revenue Department.

Tehsildars, Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) and Revenue Deputy Commissioners have been directed to maintain fixed hours for organizing courts in their offices and to prioritize it over meetings and other engagements.

In an Official memorandum issued by the Delhi Govt, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays have been specified as the “mandatory court days” and the timing has been fixed from 2.30 PM till the end of office hours.

“All concerned authorities and departments are requested not to call the officers for any meeting, hearing, proceeding or inspection on the mentioned days and time,” read the memo.

“In Court hours, revenue officers are supposed to give time to the general public in their offices and try addressing their issues,” said a Senior Government Official. “In Delhi, the most common grievances relate to land disputes, demolition cases, documents such as certificates for income, caste, domicile, etc. It is a wide range of things.”

Currently, all revenue officers have their own court days and timings – the frequency and length of which often varies, said four SDMs.

They added that in some cases the rosters are prepared by each officer and circulated among subordinates. In other cases, the officials themselves decide their own court timings, keeping their superiors in the loop.

“But the Courts get disrupted – and often cancelled – when officers prioritise other engagements. Hence, it was important to direct other officials not to ring up or summon revenue officers for other engagements in the fixed hours. Also, the days were fixed for convenience of the public,” said a Sr Govt Official.

The office memorandum covers under its ambit revenue officers in the rank of Deputy Commissioners, District Magistrates, Additional Collectors, Additional District Magistrates, Revenue Assistants, Sub-Divisional Magistrates, Tehsildars and Executive Magistrates, Government Officials said.

The directions come months ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections likely to be scheduled for early next year.

Citizen welfare groups across the city have appreciated the move.

“It is a welcome initiative. Meeting revenue officers for grievances and disputes otherwise is a herculean task,” said Sunil Sareen, vice-president of a citizen forum in West Delhi’s Dwarka.

As per to Saurabh Gandhi, Secretary of a citizen forum that goes by the name United Residents of Delhi, said that inconsistent timings of Public Courts in revenue offices has been a big problem in Delhi. “And a bigger problem is frequent cancellation. This is a great move that way but one has to see if it can be implemented,” he said.

Harassment Alert at Air India: Airlines received 8 sexual-harassment complaints in first half of 2019

Air India received eight sexual harassment complaints internally during the first half of this year as compared to the total 10 complaints in 2018, sources said.

On May 16 this year, Airline’s Chief Ashwani Lohani told the employees through a text message that sexual harassment cases are “often” being witnessed in Air India and the airline needs to come down “very very heavily” on such offenders.

The Chairman and Managing Director’s message came after the airline announced on May 15 that it has set up a high-level inquiry to probe a sexual harassment complaint filed by a woman pilot against a commander.

A source told, “During 2018, 10 complaints of sexual harassment have been filed at Air India. Between Jan 1 and July 1 of 2019, eight complaints of sexual harassment have been received.”

Another source said on Sunday that Air India has been dealing with each such complaint in the “strictest manner possible”.

In May this year, the aforementioned high-level inquiry was initiated after the woman pilot filed a complaint, which stated that the alleged incident took place on May 5 at Hyderabad where she was being trained by the commander.

The commander was told on May 20 by the national carrier that he needs written permission to enter the airline’s offices till an inquiry into the complaint is over.

In a letter to the accused, Air India Regional Director (northern region) Abhay Pathak said that “pending (an) inquiry… during the period of suspension, you will not enter the premises of Air India Limited without written permission”.

“You will not leave the station (Delhi) without written permission of the undersigned,” Pathak added.

Supreme Court dismisses review plea seeking same-sex marriage, adoption, surrogacy for LGBTQ

The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea seeking review of its order which had rejected a petition seeking various civil rights such as same-sex marriage, adoption and surrogacy for the LGBTQ community.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana, in an in-chamber decision on July 11, dismissed the review plea filed by Tushar Nayyar which had sought grant of civil rights to the members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer) community.

“This review petition has been filed against order dated October 29, 2018 whereby the Writ Petition (of Nayyar) was dismissed.

“We have considered the review petition on merits. In our opinion, no case for review of order dated October, 29, 2018 is made out. Consequently, the review petition is dismissed on merits,” the bench, which also comprised Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said recently.

The top court, on October 29, 2018, had dismissed the fresh plea of Nayyar on issues pertaining to the LGBTQ members saying that a five-judge constitution bench headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had already dealt with the batch of petitions on homosexuality.

“We are not inclined to entertain this petition after the decision of this Court in Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India decided on September 6, 2018,” it had said.

The constitution bench, on September 6, 2018, had unanimously held that consensual sex among adult homosexuals or heterosexuals in private space is not a crime.

It had also struck down part of a British-era law, section 377 of the IPC, that had criminalised the consensual unnatural sex on the grounds that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.

Nayyar had filed the fresh plea saying that his petition was not limited to the issue of decriminalising the consensual gay sex only and had raised host of issues including the issue of “non-recognition of same-sex marriages” under the Special Marriages Act, 1954 and denial of adoption and surrogacy rights to the members of the LGBTQ community members.

However, the plea was dismissed on October 29, 2018 leading to filing of the review petition which has been dismissed.

The review plea had sought civil rights of the LGBTQ community as part of the basic human rights and said that these rights were not addressed in the apex court’s judgement on Section 377 of the IPC which had criminalised consensual gay sex.

It had sought recognition of their rights to same-sex marriages, adoption, surrogacy, IVF and directions so that the community can serve openly in the army, navy and air force.

“LGBTQ rights are not recognised as part of human rights. Non Recognition of same-sex marriages (Indian Special Marriages Act, 1954), availability of adoption, surrogacy, IVF (for LGBTQ only) is violative of Article 14, 15, 19, 21, 29. Discrimination solely on basis of sexual orientation violates Article 14, 15, 21 in relation to Army, Navy, Air force Act.

“Other instances of indirect discrimination are not addressed in the Navtej Singh Johar case. People in the military are not allowed to serve openly. Heterosexual people end up marrying LGBT people, end up consummating marriage with them, which harms heterosexual people most. Gay women have it worst,” the plea said.

The definition of marriage for LGBTQ had not been addressed in the apex court’s judgement of September 6, 2018, it said.

The plea said both heterosexuals in an opposite-sex relationship and homosexuals in a same-sex relationship are similarly circumstanced as the general nature of relationship is romantic and sexual one, either at the time of marriage as in a love marriage or is sought or hoped to be as in the case of arranged marriage.

Setting up of special courts to deal with rape cases likely to begin on Oct 2: Govt

The process of setting up of over 1,000 fast-track special courts across the country to deal with pending cases of rape is likely to begin on October 2, the Law Ministry has said.

The Department of Justice in the Law Ministry had proposed to set up 1,023 fast-track courts at a total budget of Rs 767.25 crore. The central support of Rs 474 crore for one year will be funded under the Nirbhaya Fund.

The fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder of a student in Delhi, to support the initiatives of governments and NGOs working towards safety of women.

In a letter to the Cabinet Secretariat on August 8, the Department of Justice has said after recommendation of expenditure finance committee on July 11 and approval of the law minister, the case has been forwarded to the finance minister for approval.

“Simultaneously, other connected actions are being taken as setting up of FTSCs is planned to start from 02nd October, 2019,” the department wrote.

A statement from the Women and Child Development Ministry had earlier said that in the first phase, 777 such courts may be set up in nine states, and in the second phase, 246 courts will be set up.

Parliament had recently approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The law deals with sexual abuse of children.

The changes to the law include enhancement of punishment to include death penalty for child sex abuse.

Ayodhya land dispute: Crucial day-to-day hearing of case in Supreme Court to enter 5th day

The crucial day-to-day hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case in the Supreme Court will entre the 5th day on Tuesday with the counsel for the deity, ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’, re-commencing arguments for claim over the entire 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya.

The hearing before a 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, assumes significance following its query on Friday as to whether anyone from the ‘Raghuvansha’ (descendants of Lord Ram) dynasty still resides in Ayodhya.

“We are just wondering if anyone from the ‘Raghuvansha’ dynasty is still living there (at Ayodhya),” the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, had said.

Though senior advocate K Parasaran, appearing for the deity, could not answer the query during the proceedings, BJP lawmaker Diya Kumari, a member of the erstwhile Jaipur royal family, claimed on Sunday that her family has descended from Lord Ram’s son Kush.

“The court has said where are the descendants of Lord Ram… Descendants of Lord Ram are all over the world, including our family who descended from his son Kush,” the MP from Rajsamand in Rajasthan said.

The lawmaker said that descendants of Lord Ram are all over the world and the dispute in Ayodhya should be resolved soon.

On the fourth day of the hearing, Parasaran had responded to the apex court’s query as to how the ‘Janmasthanam’ (birth place of deity) can be regarded as a “juristic person” having stakes as a litigant in the case.

“The idol is not necessary in the Hinduism for a place to be regarded as a temple,” he had said, adding “Hindus do not worship Gods in any definite form, rather they worship them as divine incarnation having no form.”

The top court, meanwhile, had made it clear that it would continue with the day-to-day hearing of the land dispute case and would consider granting mid-week breaks to senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for Muslim parties including litigant M Siddiq, for preparing arguments.

Earlier, the bench had asked the counsel for the deity as to how the birth place of Lord Ram can be regarded as a “juristic person” having stakes as a litigant in the case.

It had said that so far as Hindu deities are concerned, they have been legally treated as juristic person which can hold properties and institute, defend and intervene in lawsuits. However, it had asked as to how ‘Janamsthanam’ can file the case in the land dispute as party.

Parasaran had said that even the birth place of the deity can be considered as a juristic person.

The law suit filed by the deity in the Ayodhya case has also made the birth place of Lord Ram as co-petitioner and has sought claim over the entire 2.77 acre of disputed land at Ayodhya where the structure was razed on December 6, 1992.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.

High Court sets aside arrest warrant against BJP’s Roy Mukul

The Calcutta High Court has set aside an arrest warrant against BJP leader Mukul Roy in connection with the alleged recovery of unaccounted cash from a person.

Justice Rajasekhar Mantha set aside the warrant issued by a city court on a plea by the Kolkata Police to question him in connection with the alleged recovery of ₹19 lakh from a person in Burrabazar area of the city last year.

The High Court directed that the original proceedings pertaining to the alleged recovery of the sum will continue before the city court. The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Kolkata, had on July 29 issued the warrant against Roy on a prayer by the Burrabazar Police Station, alleging non-cooperation on his part in investigation into the case.

Appearing for Roy before the High Court, Senior Counsel Bikash Bhattacharya submitted that since the BJP leader has already been quizzed by police at his Delhi residence, there is no reason for the warrant to be in force.

Public prosecutor Saswata Mukherjee submitted before the Court that the purpose of the arrest warrant has been served since he has already been interrogated, but the main proceedings before the lower court with regard to the recovery of the sum should continue.

The Delhi High Court had on Aug 01 granted Roy protection from coercive action for 10 days, on a plea by the BJP leader challenging the notices issued to him by the Kolkata Police to appear before it for questioning in the case.

Delhi High Court while granting the relief to him, asked Roy to join the investigation into the case and be available for questioning. Roy was quizzed by officers of the Kolkata Police at his Delhi residence on Aug 02.

The case pertains to the recovery of ₹19 lakh from a person in Burrabazar area of Kolkata on July 31, 2018, leading to his arrest and a few others. Roy’s phone number allegedly featured in one of the arrested persons’ call list.

Delhi Police didn’t appreciate seriousness of orders to install CCTV cameras: High Court

The Delhi High Court on Friday said the police did not appreciate the seriousness of its past orders to ensure better street lighting and CCTV cameras in West Delhi’s Aman Vihar area, despite hundreds of cases of missing children and adults being reported from there.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar also noted that according to Delhi Police, 587 cameras were to be installed at 118 vulnerable locations in the city but the same was not done.

“It is misfortune of people living in Aman Vihar that not a single CCTV camera has been installed there by the respondent (police). It appears the seriousness of court orders has not been appreciated by the respondent. Enough is enough. Unnecessarily you people are not doing anything,” the court said.

It directed the Delhi Police commissioner to install CCTV cameras in the Aman Vihar area as well as the other vulnerable locations in the city “as early as possible and practicable” and preferably within six months from the date of receipt of the order.

The court told the top cop that if more than 587 cameras were required then more should be installed.

Court denies bail to drunk man who drove away with Traffic Police Official

A Sessions Court rejected the bail petition of Rajkumar Singh (34), who with two others, is accused of driving away with a Traffic Police constable while in an inebriated State.

The Court said Singh, a history-sheeter, might flee if released on bail.

On July 16, near Chedda Nagar in Chembur, the Police constable had asked the three, Singh, Viraj Shinde and Gurav Panjwani, dozing in a car on the middle of the road to move to the side.

The trio instead put the constable in their car and drove off, resulting in a 15-min chase that ended on the Eastern Express highway at Vikhroli.

Rejecting the petition, the Court said it saw substance in the prosecution’s apprehension that the accused may abscond.

Second Day of Ayodhya Hearing: ‘Present oral evidence, not statements’, CJI Gogoi to Rama Lalla’s Lawyer

The drama continued on the second day of most talked about Ayodhya Case hearing.

“Whether Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem… Has such a question ever arisen in any Court?” Supreme Court Judge, Justice S.A. Bobde, asked Senior Advocate K. Parasaran, lawyer for Ram Lalla Virajman, the deity in Ayodhya.

The struggle of faith and ownership in the Ramjanmabhumi cross-appeals filed by Hindus and Muslims contesting each other’s claims of ownership over the 2.77 acres in Ayodhya where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born in Tretha Yuga can be seen clearly.

The structure – Babri Masjid – which stood on the disputed land was demolished by ‘kar sevaks’ on Dec 6, 1992.

The Allahabad High Court attempted to resolve the decades-old dispute by giving joint possession of the disputed land to both Hindus and Muslims in a three-way partition among the deity, Nirmohi Akahara and the Sunni Waqf Board in Sep 2010. But the parties responded by filing cross-appeals in the Apex Court.

Mr. Parasaran submitted that references of disputed land is there in ‘Valmiki Ramayana’.

He said the usual strict codes of evidence should relaxed in this case as worshippers believe the spirit of Sri Ram pervades/resides in the Asthan. The unshakeable faith of the believers is itself evidence that the Asthan is the birthplace of Rama, he addressed the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi.

Mr. Parasaran argued, “The Asthan has become a personification of the deity. It has by itself become an object of worship for the Hindus.”

The case filed by the deity in 1989 was not hit by limitation as the installation of idols in the Babri mosque on the intervening night of Dec 22-23 of 1949 was not a “continuous wrong” as an interim injunction order was passed on Jan 19, 1950, which was again confirmed on Mar 3, 1951. The appeal against the injunction order was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court in April 1955.

A Hindu deity in law is treated as a juristic person with rights. The Ayodhya deity is an infant form of Lord Ram. The deity is deemed a perpetual minor. The law of limitation does not apply to minors. The Allahabad High Court had admitted the suit filed on behalf of Ram Lalla and appointed the next friend to represent the Lord. The suit in the name of the deity had sought a declaration that the Ramjanmabhumi belonged to the deities. It had also sought a judicial order prohibiting any obstruction in the construction of the new temple building in the disputed area.

The Court had asked Mr. Parasaran to commence his arguments after Nirmohi Akhara sought more time to produce oral, historical and documentary evidence to establish their claim over the entire area of the disputed Ramjanmabhumi.

The Court, which is on a tight schedule as the CJI has about 50 working days left before retirement in Nov, decided to hear the deity and gave the Akhara time to prepare the evidence.

When a lawyer protested the move from the back row of the courtroom, Chief Justice Gogoi gave him a dressing down, saying “the First Court of this country should remain the First Court of this country. Don’t try to make it anything else.”

Earlier, the court did not agree when senior advocate Sushil Kumar Jain, for Nirmohi Akhara, suggested reading the documentary evidence from the judgments of the lower Courts in the case.

“These would be just excerpts. We want the original documents,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, reacted.

Mr. Jain said documentary evidence like revenue records etc, to establish the Akhara’s claim of having managed and controlled the “temple” in the Ramjanmabhumi went missing in a “dacoity” in 1982.

But Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer seconded Justice Chandrachud, who asked Mr. Jain to at least present oral evidence, such as testimonies in court, before the Bench.

“Statements here and there will not do. Present us the oral evidence,” Chief Justice Gogoi asked Mr. Jain before giving him time to prepare and passing on to hear Mr. Parasaran.

High Court discharges Think Tank’s claim on ITO plot

Delhi High Court has allowed the recovery of a prime property at ITO that was alloted forty years ago to a Think Tank founded by late Prime Minister Chandrashekhar.

The 2,000 sq yards plot in Central Delhi was being run as a political party office, the land and development office (L&DO) had alleged, while cancelling the allotment.

The High Court upheld L&DO’s move to evict centre of applied politics from the plot at IP Estate.

The Court found that the plot had illegal constructions including temporary barrack-like structures.

Taking into account L&DO’s charge that unauthorised construction was raised on the land, which is being used for the work of a political party, it pointed,“Two photographs indicate that a photograph of a former Prime Minister has been prominently displayed on the land in question, indicating that the premises are connected with the political party to which he belonged [Samajwadi Janta Party(R)].”

While the society claimed it had never received the cancellation notice nor allowed a chance to explain before the land owning agency, the court noted that the organisation “has failed to comply with the conditions of the agreement for lease.”

The society claimed it was granted land in 1971 to undertake and promote studies (both theoretical as well as practical) in various fields, including political process/administration and diplomacy and the same was being done continuously.

But when the bench asked if the society has any faculty engaged in academic exercise or further research or if it has published any paper or book of academic significance, the think tank claimed that carrying on work of a political party is the practical side to the object of doing basic research and training in politics and political processes.

The Court thus dismissed the petition filed by the Society and discharged the Think Tank’s claim on ITO plot.

The judgement has been delivered by Judge VIBHU BAKHRU on 30-07-2019.