HC seeks civic bodies’ reports on status of kids’ parks

kids' parksIt is an intervention that might finally give Delhi’s kids better parks to play in. A Supreme Court judge’s letter expressing anguish at the dysfunctional state of children’s parks in the city prompted the high court to issue notices to various civic agencies on Wednesday.

Treating the judge’s letter as a PIL, a division bench of acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice S Mridul directed the city’s municipal bodies, DDA, PWD and urban development ministry to file status reports, with pictures, within two weeks on the children’s parks being run by them.

“Give us a report on all children’s parks in Delhi, whether they have slides, swings and other facilities along with photographs,” the bench added.

(Source: PTI)

Delhi HC seeks report on question paper leak

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court on Monday directed the central government and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to submit a detailed status report on the leak of the Class 12 physics question paper for the 2014 senior secondary examinations in Manipur.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul, posting the matter for April 16, said it would hear the issue of conducting re-examination for other states, except Delhi.

The CBSE in its interim report told the court that the leak of the All India Senior Secondary Certification Examination question paper was not ‘widespread’.

Filing an interim report, CBSE said that a four member committee comprising CBSE secretary and joint secretary has been formed to look into the issue.

‘The committee’s interaction with school, general public, custodian of question paper and information gathered brought it to the conclusion that the matter of leakage came to the knowledge of public at large only through the newspaper report and that the students of local schools remained unaware of the leakage prior to the newspaper reached there,’ the report said.

It added that the leakage was confined at limited areas of Imphal city and neighbouring areas of the state and ‘it appears that other states of the country are not affected’.

‘Therefore keeping in view of the overall situation and to maintain the sanctity of the examination, CBSE may reconduct the AISSCE 2014 physics paper in the whole state of Manipur.

Simultaneously a formal complaint regarding the leakage may be lodged with police,’ it added.

HC sore about inadequate publicity of northeast helpline

delhi-high-courtExpressing displeasure over adequate publicity not being given to the helpline set up for northeast people to prevent offences against them, the Delhi High Court Wednesday directed police to widely publicise the number.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul asked Delhi Police why they have not publicised the helpline number 1093 on TV, radio and in print media for wider reach.

“With regard to our direction to give adequate publicity on the helpline number for northeast people, Delhi Police indicated that handbills have been displayed and notices pasted in police stations,” the bench observed.

“However, we think wider publicity is needed and it should use radio, TV, and print media to advertise the helpline number,” it said, seeking a status report on the issue.

It also asked police to file a status report on the “actual” steps taken on sensitisation of police personnel about problems faced by northeast people in the city.

On police complaints filed by northeast people, officials informed the court that with regard to 47 complaints received on the helpline, FIRs have been registered in 15 complaints.

In four cases, the suspects could not be traced, while in 28 complaints investigation is on.

The court earlier directed police to file a status report giving details of action taken by them on the 47 complaints received from northeast people on the helpline.

It also asked the centre to file a status report on its proposed move to seek policemen from the northeast to be posted on deputation with Delhi Police.

The court posted the matter for April 30.

The court was hearing a case where it took suo motu cognizance of the Jan 29 attack on Nido Tania, son of Arunachal Pradesh Congress legislator Nido Pavitra, by shopkeepers in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market following a row over his appearance and clothing. He died in a hospital the next day.


Delhi HC seeks poll panel’s response over MNS suspension

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Election Commission to respond to a plea for suspension of the recognition of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) as a political party over its alleged use of “hate language” against non-Marathis on its official website.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul directed the commission to examine the issue and come up with measures “to check political parties from promoting disharmony and feelings of enmity and hatred amongst people”.

The bench saw the MNS website in court and observed: “You (Election Commission) are not doing your job properly. This kind of hate language is going on unhampered every day.”

The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Mithilesh Kumar Pandey, seeking direction to the commission to withdraw recognition of the MNS as a registered party for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

During the hearing, the bench refuted the commission’s claim that it was a “law and order issue”.

The bench remarked: “This offending material is still on the website. When will you act against it?”

The MNS on its website says: “Maharashtra Navnirman Sena will fight to its last breath to eliminate the interference of the non-Marathi power-mongers from outside the state in the state’s politics and social life, thereby reinforcing the existence of Maharashtra for the Marathi Manus.”

The bench took strong objection to the offending material and said: “Nobody can claim to itself any territory which is part of India. Every citizen has equal rights over every part of the country.”

Asking the commission to give its response, the court posted the matter for March 28.

The plea, filed against the commission, the Maharashtra government, the MNS and party chief Raj Thackeray, said that MNS members have routinely made hate speeches against people from the northern states of India.

“They have disturbed communal harmony by making inflammatory statements against people belonging to different religions/region and distorted their impression of the Hindu religion/particular region and ideology.”

“Additionally members of the MNS have engaged in mob violence, with explicit support and sponsorship of their party leaders, by attacking innocent civilians merely because of their religion or region or at time even because of their refusal to converse in a particular language,” the plea said.

The plea also sought directions to the MNS and Raj Thackeray to disclose all financial contributions and income received by them along with the initiation of an investigation into the source of funding.

(Source: IANS)

Delhi HC extends stay on nursery admission

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Monday extended its stay on the nursery admission process till March 28, asking the city government to file updated data relating to the available number of seats and candidates seeking admission after the inter-state transfer category was scrapped.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul rejected the report of the education department with regard to nursery admission in the unaided recognised private schools.

The court also remarked that the government failed to anticipate and act on the number of applicants, which was far more than the number of available seats.

The bench was hearing an appeal filed by some parents challenging a March 6 single judge order asking the city government to conduct a fresh draw of lots in the nursery admission process for all seats. The judge had said all candidates with equal marks shall be considered equal by conducting a draw of lots.

The parents filing the appeal claimed that their wards were already declared selected for nursery admissions after the draw of lots and would have to repeat the process after the single judge’s order.

The dispute began after Lt Governor Najeeb Jung Feb 27 issued an order scrapping five points, out of 100 points, given to inter-state transfer cases.

(Source: IANS)

Delhi HC allows schools to collect fee for more than a month

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court on Thursday granted relief to unaided private schools in the capital, setting aside its last year’s direction restraining them from levying fee for more than one month at a time from students.

However, considering the grievance of some parents, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice V.K. Rao said each of them may individually make a request to the school authorities to allow them to pay the fee on a monthly basis.

‘When such requests are made, the principals will deal with them compassionately and reasonably so that no student is affected for non-payment of quarterly fee,’ the bench said.

The court’s directions came after the counsel appearing for the private unaided schools assured the court that the schools were willing to accept monthly fee from all those parents who find it financially difficult to make quarterly payment.

The private schools had approached the high court saying that the Delhi School Education (DSE) Rules, 1973 do not restrict them from collecting fee for more than one month at a time from students.

In April 2013, a single judge of the court had said that schools were not entitled to seek fee from parents for more than one month as per the DSE Rules.


HC seeks report from centre on question paper leak

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the central government and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to submit a detailed report on the leak of the Class XII physics question paper for the 2014 senior secondary examinations in Manipur.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul refused to accept the final report submitted by the government and the CBSE on the issue, which said the leak of the All India Senior Secondary Certification Examination question paper was not “widespread”.

“The report does not deal with the fact that the question paper was on the net,” the bench remarked, and directed the government to conduct a fresh inquiry on the extent of the leak with regard to other states.

Each year, the CBSE prepares three sets of question papers for Delhi, rest of India and outside India.

The petition filed by Rajiv Ranjan Dwivedi said the question paper set for the second category was leaked on the internet a day before the examination date.

“The question paper was leaked, downloaded on the internet, sold in the market,” the petition said, adding that the question paper was accessible in the market for Rs.3,000.

While the CBSE has decided to conduct a re-examination of the physics paper in Manipur April 2, the petition sought direction to the government to conduct re-examination for the rest of the country also.

The petition said that those who succeed in procuring the leaked question paper can certainly take advantage in the IIT JEE examination and getting admission in good colleges.

It said 40 percent of the marks obtained in the Class XII examination are considered in the IIT JEE exam.

Pulling up the government for failing to come out with proper data on the extent of the leak, the bench directed it to conduct a probe into the number of ‘hits’ the website received when it was hosting the leaked question paper.

“These things spread like wildfire. Have you done a survey as to how many hits that website received during that period. We will also have to consider that some students may have downloaded it and e-mailed it to others,” the bench said.

The court posted the matter for further hearing March 27.

(Source: IANS)

No funds to finance power subsidy, Delhi government to HC

delhi-high-courtThe city government Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that it has not made any provision in the budget for funds to finance the subsidy on electricity for people in the capital as promised by the erstwhile AAP regime.

Taking into note the submissions of the Delhi government, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul also continued its stay on the Aam Aadmi Party government’s decision to give 50 percent waiver on pending electricity bills of 24,036 consumers.

The Arvind Kejriwal government had taken a decision on waiver of pending power bills of those consumers who had stopped payment of their dues during AAP’s “bijli satyagraha”.

The bench posted the matter for May 22 for final hearing.

Filing an affidavit for the Delhi government, Madhu Sudan, deputy secretary of power, said: “The competent authority of the government has not made any provision in the budget for release of funds for the purpose.”

“And in the absence of the availability of funds, therefore, in the present circumstances, it is not possible to implement the decision of the cabinet for providing relief to the electricity consumers who stopped paying their bills anytime between October 2012 and May 2013 till December 2013.”

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Vivek Narayan Sharma, who also sought quashing the Delhi government’s decision to close power theft cases registered against 2,508 consumers last year.

The plea said that such an action of the government was like “sponsoring and abetting criminal/terrorism acts and acts against rule of law and constitution”.

Shortly after its formation, the AAP had launched a “bijli satyagraha” alleging that power bills in Delhi were inflated.

As part of the campaign, Kejriwal urged people of Delhi to stop paying their bills, the plea said.

A total of 24,036 consumers in Delhi stopped paying their power bills reportedly between October 2012 and December 2013.

During this period, the authorities disconnected 2,508 electricity meters for non-payment of bills, following which many people allegedly started stealing power. Numerous theft cases are pending in courts.

On Feb 12, the AAP government, two days before it resigned, had announced it would provide 50 percent waiver on the pending bills of the 24,036 people, and also decided to waive the penalties for default.

The plea said the AAP was enticing the public to follow no rules, and the estimated loss to public exchequer because of the move was around Rs.6 crore.


Delhi HC refuses to seize AAP accounts

aap partyThe Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to seize the accounts of the AAP on a plea seeking registration of a criminal case against party chief Arvind Kejriwal and others for allegedly receiving foreign funds.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul said it “cannot seize the accounts of Aam Aadmi Party without deciding the case”.

The bench said it has not decided the case yet and

“accounts cannot be seized like that”. The court’s observation came after advocate M L Sharma, who filed the plea, asked the court to seize the accounts of the AAP as it was still receiving foreign funds in clear violation of law.

The court also asked the centre to file its response and posted the matter for May 7.

The AAP had earlier told the court that it was the only party whose financial records and other details were open for public view and got donations of Rs.30 crore from Indian citizens only, out of which Rs.8.5 crore came from NRIs.

Earlier, the court had directed the central government to go through details of the money donated to the AAP since its inception.

(Source: IANS)

Inform Delhi residents about pesticide minimising measures: HC

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the city government to inform citizens on short-term measures to minimise the presence of pesticides in fruits and vegetables before consumption.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul ordered the authorities to widely publicise the recommendations of an expert committee, which had suggested various ways and means for consumers to clean the vegetables and fruits to bring down level of pesticides in food items.

The reports of expert committee pointed out the high content of pesticide residue in vegetables and fruits sold across the capital and also the government’s inability to check the poisonous trend.

The court remarking the authorities, including the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), have failed in their duty to protect the consumers against the harmful pesticides, ordered that periodic sample testing should be done in the city and reports submitted to it.

The bench also directed the Delhi government to set up a Pesticide Residue Management Cell (PRMC) under the control of food commissioner of the state which will be responsible for handling issues related to pesticide residue in food articles.

The court also directed the ministry of agriculture to come up with long-term measures to counter the issue by next date of hearing – April 16.

The court’s direction came after amicus curiae Sanjay Jain informed it that 5.3 percent of vegetables and 0.5 percent of fruits sold in Delhi had pesticide residue above the prescribed maximum residue limit (MRL).

The court noted that “by one calculation, the entire population of Delhi was consuming food items with pesticide residue beyond permissible limits”.

The report claimed pesticide components such as chlordane, endrin, heptachlor, ethyl and parathion are used in growing number of vegetables which have the potential to cause serious neurological problems, kidney damage, skin diseases, cancer and other diseases.

In the report, the expert committee had recommended ways and means to minimise pesticide level like using cloth towel or paper towel to clean dry produce, scrubbing firm fruits and vegetables like melons, carrots and potatoes, and washing in clean running, preferably drinking water, etc.

The high court had earlier taken suo motu cognisance on an NGO report that said the amount of pesticides used by farmers in India was as much as 750 times higher than European standards.

(Source: IANS)