Four persons were today sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment by a local court for the gangrape of a woman in the city in 2013.
The court of District and Sessions Judge A I Sheikh sentenced Samir Hussain Sheikh, Md Sharif Badshah, Kabir Sheikh and Imtiyaz Ali Sheikh after considering a set of evidences, including FSL reports of semen and their body abrasions, as well as examination of 17 witnesses.
The woman was gangraped in the afternoon of November 29, 2013, at her house in Vatva locality here when her husband was away. The culprits were known to the woman and resided in the same area.
The gangrape was committed in front of victim’s 10-year- old daughter, who was considered as an additional witness by the court though her statement was not taken.
The court also considered medical evidences such as the FSL report of semen sample matching with that of the accused, and medical examination of the accused which showed abrasions on their bodies.
While delivering the sentence, the court also took into account the fact that the FIR was filed immediately after the incident.
The High Court today quashed an ordinance issued by it to pave way to delay local bodies polls, terming it as “unconstitutional”, and directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to “conduct polls before the expiry of their terms.”
The court also came down heavily on the Gujarat SEC for using government ordinance to postpone local bodies polls for three months, saying its act was “illegal” and its attitude regarding timely conduct of polls was “negative”.
The ordinance amending section 7(a) of Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 8(A) of Municipality Act and 257 of Panchayat Act “is unconstitutional and void and hence quashed and set aside,” HC division bench of acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice N V Anjariya said.
The government had amended three laws by way of ordinance on October 3 which allowed it to advice SEC to delay local bodies poll in case of law and order problem.
On the same night, the SEC had issued a notification postponing local bodies polls for three months, citing law and order situation in the wake of Patel quota agitation.
The notification stated that elections to six municipal corporations, 56 municipalities, 230 taluka panchayats and 31 district panchayats were expected to be held between October and November this year as the term of these bodies is expiring in the period, but now they will take a call on it after three months.
“Action of the State Election Commission (to postpone the local body polls) is illegal and thus it is set aside and quashed,” the High Court said today.
“The State Election Commission must begin the programme of elections prior to 45 days of completion of terms of all the local bodies,” the HC further said.
The court observed that “the action of the state and SEC is against the spirit of the Constitution”.
“Prima facie the State Election Commission was not ready to hold elections,” the HC said observing that the reply of the SEC with regard to holding the local body polls was “negative”. .
On the state’s proposed action to appoint an administrator after completion of terms of local bodies in place of elected representatives, the court noted, “The term of ‘administrator’ is unknown to the Constitution. So there is no room for administrator and administrator has no power.
Appointment of administrator is against the spirit of Constitution.”
“Power of appointment of administrator making any statute on account of delay of election is unknown to Constitution,” the court further observed.
“The Election Commission submitted that power of holding elections is reserved with the SEC and this court has limited power of judicial review. That is why we exercised judicial review,” the judges said in their order.
The court also directed the state to assist the SEC to hold timely elections.
On the current law and order situation in the state for holding elections, the HC said, “SEC does not need to test impossibilities, it cannot be said circumstances were beyond the control of human.”
The High Court also held that the state cannot compare the act of human as an act of God to postpone the elections.
Earlier, an election could be postponed only in case of natural calamities of huge magnitude.
A local court sent a professor of the Gujarat University to a one-day police custody here on Friday, in connection with a sexual harassment case, for allegedly writing obscene letters to three of his women colleagues.
Sarman Zala (56), who heads the political science department of the Gujarat University, was arrested yesterday for sexually harassing three women colleagues after he allegedly wrote obscene letters to them.
Metropolitan Magistrate B L Choithani remanded Zala to a one-day police custody after hearing the probe agency’s application which sought three days’ of police remand.
The Gujarat state police had contended before the court that it would need three days’ remand of the accused to find out if he wrote obscene letters to women professors and under what circumstances he wrote such letters.
The probe agency said in its remand application, that it would need the accused professor’s handwriting samples to match with the handwriting on obscene letters which were allegedly written by him.
Opposing the remand application, Defence Counsel Amit Nair told the court that no grounds have been put forward to substantiate the claim that the letters were written by Zala.
Nair argued that the alleged obscene letters are in the custody of the investigating agency and so there is no need to interrogate his client.
He told the court that whenever the police needed the accused in this case, he could be produced to co-operate in the investigation.
After hearing both sides, the metropolitan court sent Zala to police custody until 11 am tomorrow when a further hearing of the case is scheduled.
The sessions court had rejected Zala’s anticipatory bail after which he had surrendered at the Mithakhali-based women police station here yesterday.
According to the police complaint, Zala has been charged under Section 354-A (sexual harassment), Section 509 (insulting the modesty of women and Section 506 (criminal intimidation), which is applicable to his wife as well as an unidentified person.
The issue came to light when three women professors filed a police complaint on July 30 about anonymous letters in vulgar language being sent to them at their respective offices in the Social Science building.
These professors claimed that the letters, addressed to each of them and written in English, were either found in empty rooms or kept on their tables during April and May.
After finding out that Zala is behind writing such obscene letters, the three women professors finally lodged an FIR against him and his wife, as well as an unidentified person on August 3.
A notice to state government and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has been issued by the Gujarat High Court following a PIL seeking information on what measures have been taken to mitigate drought situation in Saurashtra and Ahmedabad.
A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala issued notices and asked state government and AMC to file their replies on affidavits within two weeks when further hearing will take place.
The PIL, filed by advocate KG Pandit, has sought instructions from the court to the authorities to properly utilise Rs 320 crore annual fund for water supply allocated by Central government.
It has also sought information on measures taken by the state and civic authorities for supplying water in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, which are minority-dominant areas and in those districts in Saurashtra region which are facing drought-like situation.
Pandit, in his petition, has claimed that, “there is no system of water supply and drainage line in the outskirts of Ahmedabad and every summer people living in these areas face grim water situation, despite the fact that the AMC levys taxes on residents of this area for providing these amenities.”
“The AMC knowingly doesn’t supply water to these areas and if pressure is applied on the authorities through local councillors water will be supplied through tankers and that too twice or thrice in a week,” he had alleged.
“The situation is same in Saurashtra region where people in districts like Amreli, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Rajkot are facing severe drinking water woes inspite of central government allocating Rs 320 crore annual fund for water supply,” he claimed.
Granting additional time to CBI for investigating the Ishrat Jehan fake encounter case of 2004, the Gujarat High Court told it would now monitor the probe.
The court has asked the agency to submit a progress report by March 15.
A division bench of justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari observed that progress in investigation of the Ishrat case was only ‘to the extent of 30-40 per cent’.
According to the bench, “Looking at the case diaries submitted along with the report, it seems that investigation has not reached the crucial stage… We would require to monitor the investigation.”
CBI, which was directed to probe the case by the high court on December 1, 2011 had filed an application seeking direction to the Gujarat government to extend the services of IPS officer Satish Verma for six more months.
While hearing the application on December 10, the court had asked the agency to submit a progress report in investigation.
Even when CBI submitted its report on December 27, the court had expressed its disappointment.
“After going through the status report submitted before us, prima facie it looks like nothing substantial has been done by CBI,” the court had observed and directed the agency to prepare a detailed and datewise report, which was submitted yesterday.
Mumbai girl Ishrat Jehan(19), Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana were shot dead by Ahmedabad city crime branch officers between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar on June 15, 2004.
Earlier SIT, formed by the high court, had concluded that the encounter was staged, and death of the four had taken place before the encounter.
Gujarat police, at that time, had claimed that all the four were Laskar-e-Taiba operatives and had entered the city to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The Gujarat High Court Thursday refused to interfere in a sealing and demolition drive by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation against illegal constructions but offered relief for some buildings that faced action.
The high court bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi came down heavily on officials of the state government and the civic agency for not complying with its earlier order and sought to know why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them.
The drive was launched on the court’s order in a public interest litigation (PIL), which alleged that most of the complexes violated the fire-safety, parking and user norms.
The court Thursday allowed the opening of law firms, lawyers’ offices, banks, post offices and government institutions sealed by the civic agency during action against unauthorised constructions in the C.G. Road area of Ahmedabad.
The state government and the civic agency have identified 165 commercial complexes that were violating these norms.
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said that an action plan had been made and it was being implemented. Counsel for the civic agency also submitted an action taken report to the court.
The chief justice sought to know from an association of shopowners from the area as to what it wished to propose as corrective measures if it did not want demolition of the buildings.
The chief justice said that violation of parking norms in the area was completely unacceptable and intolerable.
The court sought to know from the government authorities about violation of such norms on other roads of the city and what actions they proposed to take.
‘Can we see from Monday that any car parked illegally on roads and streets has been towed and taken away?’ the court said.The court also sought to know from the shopowners as to why they should be allowed running their businesses in a residential zone where commercial activities were not allowed.The court said they can approach the government but it will not direct the state to regularise or convert the land use of the residential zone.’The shops and offices have been running illegally for more than a decade and cannot be allowed by this court to continue. You may approach the government,’ the bench said.’If they change the act and do it, then it’s a different thing but as of now no act is superseding the high court’s order,’ the chief justice said.
The Gujarat High Court Friday dismissed a petition challenging the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation election process as violating the constitution.
A division bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi, while pronouncing its reserved order, said that the provisions implemented by the state authorities were valid.
The bench noted that the state rules and the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 were in harmony with the constitutional provisions.
Petitioner Pankajsinh Waghela had filed a public suit challenging the arrangement of having multi-member wards in the civic body.
He stated that in election of any governance body, the respective constituency is represented by an individual and the rule of ‘one member one vote’ is followed. However, in today’s scenario in the Ahmedabad city, there are 192 seats which are bifurcated into 64 wards.
The petitioner submitted that three people are elected as the representative of one single territorial constituency and hence three votes are cast by one person for election of three people in a single ward and sought that only one representative should be elected from one constituency.
While interpreting the constitutional provisions, the judges noted: ‘It is true that clause (4) of Article 243R is worded in such a way that it refers to wards of the municipalities having a single representative. However, Clause(2) of Article 243S permits the state legislature to make laws making provisions with respect to composition and territorial area of the Wards Committee and the manner in which the seats shall be filled.’
‘It is, therefore, for the state legislature to make suitable legislation providing for composition of the Wards Committee and the manner in which the Wards Committee of a multi-member wards shall elect its chairperson. In any case, we are of the view that such difficulties in working out the provisions of Article 243S in case of multi-member wards cannot govern the interpretation of Article 243R of the Constitution,’ the bench noted.
The court noted that interpretation of Article 243S cannot govern the provisions contained in Article 243R.
‘The constitutional provisions do not prohibit multi-member wards and as already noted the state legislature is competent to make laws with respect to election to the municipalities. Therefore, providing for multi-member wards through validly formulated state legislation, in our view is not impermissible.’
The court ruled that mone of the provisions contained in the BPMC Act or the Delimitation Rules of 1994 which were challenged in the petition violate constitutional provisions.
‘We have already held that state is competent to make laws with respect to municipal elections. Thus when we find that state neither lacks competence nor in our view any of the statutory provisions are in conflict with Article 243R or 243S of the Constitution or any other provision, challenge to the vires of said provisions must fail,’ it said.