Court denies relief against arrest to ex-India cricketer

The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused interim protection against arrest to cricketer Jacob Joseph Martin, who represented India in ODIs in 1999, in a case of forging documents to facilitate illegal immigration.

Justice Hima Kohli directed Martin, and the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) and assistant commissioner of police (ACP) of Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport to appear before her April 4.

The court earlier sought a status report from police in the case against Martin, 38, accused of allegedly forging documents to facilitate illegal immigration.

Police told the court in their reply that Martin appeared neither before the DCP nor the ACP and they needed to arrest him.

Justice Kohli declined the plea of Martin, an Indian Railways batsman who played 10 one-day international matches for India, for an immediate direction to police not to arrest him as he would co-operate in investigation.

The court’s direction came on Martin’s plea challenging the trial court’s order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.

The cricketer, who made his debut against the West Indies in 1999, moved the high court after the trial court issued a non-bailable warrant against him and initiated proceedings to declare him a proclaimed offender for failing to join the investigation.

CBI files charges against tainted judge

The CBI today filed a chargesheet against Justice Nirmal Yadav and four others in the 2008 cash-at-judge’s-door scam, on a day when she is to demit office as a High Court judge.

The chargesheet was filed in the court of Special CBI Judge Ritu Tagore here under various sections, including 120B of the IPC relating to conspiracy and Sections 11 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The Special CBI court posted the matter for April 6 after the CBI filed the 25-page chargesheet against Justice Yadav, who is to demit office as a judge of the Uttarakhand High Court.

At the time of the scam, she was the judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The others named in the chargesheet are local advocate Sanjiv Bansal, Delhi businessman Ravinder Singh, Nirmal Singh and Rajiv.

The case had rocked the Punjab and Haryana High Court after Rs 15 lakh was wrongly delivered at the residence of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, another judge of the High Court here, on August 13, 2008 following which she reported the matter to the Chandigarh Police. The money was said to have been delivered there due to confusion over names.

Emaar-MGF moves court against DDA on bank guarantee

Emaar-MGF , the private firm which developed the Commonwealth Games Village moved the Delhi High Court against the central government’s direction to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to confiscate the company’s Rs.183 crore bank guarantee.

The guarantee was furnished by the builder before taking up the construction of 1,168 flats in the Village on a bank of the Yamuna river in east Delhi at a cost of over Rs.1,000 crore.

Asking the DDA to respond to the Emaar-MGF’s petition by Nov 11, the high court said that if the guarantee has not been encashed by the authority a status quo has to be maintained.

The DDA informed the court that Rs.90 crore has already been encashed by it and Rs.60 crore has been deposited in its bank account for clearance through cheque. The rest of the amount of Rs.33 crore is still to be encashed.

on hearing the DDA’s submissions, Justice Vipin Sanghi said that a status quo would have to be maintained in respect of Rs.33 crore out of the bank guarantee and Rs.60 crore which was still to be cleared through cheques.

Emmar-MGF through its plea submitted before the court that the DDA had given it a week’s time Oct 16 to explain why it delayed the construction of the Games Village flats and also sought damages worth Rs.80 crore.

The developer said the Village was built to the “highest standards of quality and design” and all the pertinent milestones were achieved as per the scope of work.

The company also said all deficiencies pointed out by the DDA or any other agency were duly rectified by it.

Defamation complaint against Rahul Gandhi for RSS remark

A defamation complaint was Monday lodged in a court in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi against Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for equating the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Asish Kumar Singh, a resident of Ranchi, lodged the complaint in a chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court.

Gandhi early this month in Bhopal had reportedly compared the RSS with the banned SIMI. The complainant has sought action against the Congress general secretary for passing such remarks.

The complaint has been lodged under penal provisions related to defamation and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.

Apex court stays anti-graft hearings against Chautalas

The Supreme Court Friday ordered an interim stay on the trial against Abhay Chautala and Ajay Chautala who have been charged with possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

The court also issued a notice to the prosecution asking why the anti-graft proceedings should not be stopped altogether.

Both Abhay and Ajay are sons of former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala. At present, Abhay is member of Haryana assembly.

Colors TV moves court against ‘Bigg Boss’ ouster from Lonavala

The Colors TV channel Friday moved the Bombay High Court against the Lonavala Municipal Councils (LMC) eviction orders to its reality show “Bigg Boss-4”.

A channel spokesperson said a writ petition has been filed with the Bombay High Court after the civic councils CEO Yogesh Godse served it a notice to stop the shooting of the show in Lonavala and vacate the premises.

The petition – in which the channel has sought a stay on the LMC order – is expected to come up for hearing later Friday, according to the channel spokesperson.

The LMC gave a jolt to Colors TV Thursday, ordering it to stop the shooting of “Bigg Boss-4” and move out of the premises as the channels documents were not in order.

In the notice, the LMC pointed out that despite repeated reminders, the channel had not submitted the requisite documents and maps of the property where the shooting is being done.

Accordingly, the permission and no-objection certificate for the shooting could not be granted, the notice added.

It ordered the channel management to immediately stop the shooting, failing it would initiate necessary legal proceedings.

“The channel has been told to pack up shooting today (Thursday) itself and move out of the hill station, as per our demands last week. We had objected to the presence of the two Pakistani celebrities on the show which has created a law and order problem here,” Prakash Porwal, Pune district treasurer of social worker Anna Hazares Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Nyas, told.

Porwal pointed out that the LMC had already issued permission and no-objection certificate to the channel for the shooting on the abandoned factory premises of Anti-Friction Bearings Company Ltd.

He claimed the civic councils move came after he served a notice to Yogesh Godse Oct 12, threatening to drag him to court for violating the provisions of change of user – by permitting the shooting for “Bigg Boss-4” – which goes against a Bombay High Court ruling.

“Some time ago, the Bombay High Court had ruled that change of user would not be permitted for any property in the towns jurisdiction. The venue where the shooting is being held is an old factory which has now been hired for commercial purposes. We have raised objections to this,” Porwal told.

Besides, Porwal added that the presence of the Bigg Boss team had shattered the peace and calm of the quiet hill-station, around 120 km from Mumbai.

The town has seen a shutdown, several protests by the Shiv Sena, and fortress-like security since more than a fortnight after the shooting for “Bigg Boss-4” started.

Muslim panel to appeal against Ayodhya verdict

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board Saturday said it had decided to appeal in the Supreme Court against the Ayodhya verdict given by a three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court last month.

The decision was taken at a closed-door gathering of the 51-member executive held at the Darul-Uloom, Nawa-tul-Ulema, popularly known as Nadwa here.

“The meeting felt that this judgment suffers from a number of infirmities. The executive committee of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) considers it to be the right and obligation of the Indian Muslims to challenge the judgment in the apex court and remove distortions introduced by the judgment in the basic values of the constitution and the established norms of jurisprudence,” the Board said in a press statement.

“Under these circumstances, the Board decides that this verdict be challenged in the Supreme Court of India,” it said.

Chaired by Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi, the rector of the Nadwa, the meeting was reportedly attended by prominent Islamic scholars and clerics from different parts of the country.

A Board source earlier said no consensus could be obtained on going for an amicable out-of-court settlement even though some members of the Board expressed their views in favour of such a settlement.

The meet follows the Sep 30 verdict of the Allahabad High Court that decided to divide the disputed 90 ft x 120 ft plot of land in Ayodhya into three equal parts – two to two separate Hindu parties involved in the case and one to the Sunni Central Waqf Board, representing Muslims.

Earlier, the Sunni Central Waqf Board had resolved to appeal against the order of the high court.

However, since the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is the highest decision-making body regarding religious rights of Muslims in the country, the final decision on the issue was left to the board.

Vodafone files petition against tax authorities move

Vodafone International Holdings BV filed a writ petition in the Bombay high court on Friday seeking to insulate itself from the income-tax department’s attempt to explore a second route to tax the company’s 2007 deal with Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd to buy the latter’s majority stake in Indian telecom company Hutchison Essar Ltd.

At present, Vodafone and the tax department are already engaged in a legal battle in the Supreme Court (SC), where the former has challenged Indian authorities’ jurisdiction over the deal.

Friday’s development was the outcome of a “tactical move” by the tax authorities in its battle against Vodafone, a person associated with the company’s legal defence said on condition of anonymity.

The tax authorities believe Vodafone is liable to pay withholding tax estimated at Rs12,000 crore on the deal.

“The tax office has now initiated a different process—treating Vodafone as an ‘agent’ of the seller,” an e-mailed statement of the company said. “To protect its position, Vodafone has today filed a writ with the Bombay high court defending itself against these new steps being taken by the tax office,” the statement added.

The origin of Friday’s development goes back to May when the tax department sent a report to Vodafone explaining why the deal fell within their jurisdiction. Along with a report, the tax department also sent the company a “show-cause” notice on why it should not be taxed as Hutchison’s agent (Section 163).

“This is a parallel issue,” said a senior tax official involved in the case, who did not want to be quoted. “There are two cases here.”

Friday’s writ was related to the case in which the tax department had asked Vodafone why it should not be treated as a representative assessee of Hutchison, the official said.

The case in SC was about Vodafone not having deducted withholding tax when it paid Hutchison in 2007, the official added.

The roots of the case go back to May 2007, when Vodafone bought Hutchison’s 66.98% stake in Hutchison Essar for $11.2 billion.

Hutchison controlled its Indian telecom subsidiary through a Cayman Islands firm called CGP. CGP’s shares were sold to Vodafone, which consequently became a majority owner of the Indian telecom firm. Vodafone’s contention all along has been that the existing Indian law does not give Indian tax authorities jurisdiction over an overseas transfer of the kind it did.

The tax authorities have so far disputed the contention and say Vodafone should have deducted tax at source before paying Hutchison. With Friday’s development they have introduced another reason on why Vodafone is liable to be taxed.

“While the core question of jurisdiction is now being considered by SC, the department has resorted to this different approach in order to recover the tax from Vodafone in relation to the same demand,” Nishith Desai, Vodafone’s special counsel, said in an e-mailed statement. “Therefore, a writ petition has been filed before the Bombay high court, which would hear the matter on 27 October 2010.”

Before that, SC will hear the next round of arguments between the lawyers of Vodafone and the tax department on 25 October.

According to two people associated with Vodafone, the immediate cause for Friday’s writ was a recent communication from the tax officer assessing Vodafone’s tax liability. In the communication, the officer asked the company’s representatives to present themselves for a hearing on the show-cause notice under Section 163.

Vodafone then chose to approach the Bombay high court with a writ as it expects SC may decide on whether the Indian income tax authorities have jurisdiction over the deal with Hutchison to begin with.

“I think that the (tax) department has chosen to proceed since SC refused to grant a stay (on) the Bombay HC (high court) order,” said Mukesh Butani, partner at BMR Advisors.

“One view is that SC rejected Vodafone’s plea for stay of Mumbai HC order. The other view is that SC will continue Vodafone’s plea in the next hearing,” Butani said, explaining the possible reason for the tax department’s attempt to move forward with the Section 163 notice.

Bombay high court’s verdict in September partially upheld positions of both sides and said tax authorities could unbundle different rights conferred through shareholding to tax aspects relevant to India.

Many Muslims against taking Ayodhya row to apex court

Many ordinary Muslims are against waging another prolonged legal battle in the Supreme Court over the Hindu-Muslim Ayodhya dispute although their religious leaders feel otherwise.

Though initially most Muslims did not appear to be favourably disposed towards the Sep 30 verdict of the Allahabad High Court on the much-debated Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, now many are hailing the judgment.

Even those who have reservations do not hesitate to appreciate the spirit behind the verdict.

In a path-breaking ruling, judges S.U. Khan, Sudhir Agrawal and Dharam Veer Sharma divided the 90×120 feet plot of land in Ayodhya into three — two parts going to two of the Hindu litigants and one to Muslims.

Alleging injustice, the influential Sunni Waqf Board has pledged to take the battle to the Supreme Court. And so have some Hindu groups, who do not want Muslims to have any share of the land.

Praising 90-year-old Hashim Ansari for trying to reach an out-of-court settlement to avoid a renewed court battle, many ordinary Muslims say such efforts could help bury the country’s communal politics too.

“I am aware that the first reaction of most Muslims in the country was quite averse to the judgment, because everyone felt that the existence of Babri Masjid could not be denied since it was a reality until Dec 6, 1992 when it was razed by violent mobs,” said Mansoor Hasan, who once headed the cardiology department at the King George’s Medical College here.

“But there is no denying that the verdict is well balanced. Above all, we need to move ahead in the larger interest of the nation,” he said.

“But that does not mean that we condone the act of those vandals who were responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid,” he added, referring to the incident that triggered widespread Hindu-Muslim violence in India.

Retired army officer Col. Fasih Uddin Ahmed asked: “Could the judgment have been more balanced?”

Praising Hashim Ansari, a Muslim litigant who lives in Ayodhya, he said: “Isn’t it time we learn this lesson of peace from an illiterate tailor from Ayodhya who was the first to talk about bringing the dispute to an end?”

He said: “It is highly commendable that the old man, the first Muslim to assert the right of Muslims for restoration of the 16th century mosque, is busy initiating a dialogue with Hindu parties to come to the negotiating table to thrash out a compromise formula.”

Former Allahabad High Court judge S.H.A. Raza, who holds the distinction of doing the longest stint of five years on the special Ayodhya bench (that saw 18 judges over 21 years), also feels that not much purpose will be served if the battle is taken to the apex court.

Said Raza: “Many Muslims may have their own reason to be disappointed with the verdict. But that disillusionment arose largely because they began to have too many undue expectations from Justice Khan, without realizing that a judge is a judge first, then anything else.”

Not only the Muslim intelligentsia, even the man on the street is seemingly happy with the verdict.

“I am glad the court has given some bit to both sides. At least that has saved us from rioting, that would have made our lives miserable,” remarked 51-year-old Salim, a furniture polisher.

Rickshaw-puller Badre Alam, 39, said: “I hope there won’t be any more trouble and no more curfews. Thank god, the court order has created room for both mandir and masjid. Now why don’t they sit and settle the issue without further delay.”

But Mohammad Aqeel, a 30-year-old teacher in a primary school, is not happy.

“How can Muslims accept a judgment which is totally one-sided and based entirely on ‘aastha’ and not on concrete facts and the principles of law?”

Mohammad Shakil, 47, who runs a ‘dhaba’ in Lucknow’s Lalbagh, confesses: “I am not happy with the verdict. But how can we blame anybody other than the lawyers who failed to establish their title over the land?”

“But there can be no denying that it is this verdict that prevented communal clashes in the state and the country, therefore it would not be a bad idea to accept it and conclude this unending tug of war.”

Khalid, 43, a foreman in Lucknow’s walled city, also terms the judgment as one “based on belief rather than law”.

“There is no doubt the judges have given a brilliant solution based on the doctrine of peaceful co-existence. So why not follow the court order in letter and spirit and have a mosque and temple together?”

Contempt proceedings ordered against Kerala CPI-M leader

The Kerala High Court Tuesday ordered contempt proceedings against senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader M.V. Jayarajan for his outburst against judges in July.

A three-member full bench comprising Chief Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice A.K. Basheer and Justice K.M. Joseph ordered this while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL).

Jayarajan, 50, while speaking at a public meeting in July, criticised high court judges for ruling that no public meetings should be held on roads.

The court Tuesday was hearing a PIL filed by P. Rahim demanding contempt proceedings against the CPI-M leader for his outburst against judges.

The court said that contempt proceedings will begin against Jayarajan and its order should be seen as a notice to him.

Jayarajan, who hails from Kannur, is a two-time legislator of the CPI-M.

The bench also said that this case would now be taken up in a division bench headed by Chief Justice Chelameswar.

Reacting to court’ ruling Tuesday, Jayarajan said that he is yet to get any notice to this effect.

“Once I get the notice, I will also seek legal advice and face the situation. All what I said was that I stand for the common man and his right to move freely on roads and also hold meetings which do not affect free movement of people,” said Jayarajan.

In July, top CPI-M leaders verbally attacked high judges on more than one occasion.

A division bench headed by the chief justice took strong exception to this and said that criticizing judgments was understandable but attacking judges personally did not augur well for democracy.