High Court to Maha: Find out vacancies in government-run hospitals

The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to conduct a survey to determine the number of vacancies for doctors and other medical staff across all government and civic-run hospitals.

In an order passed last week, a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni asked the state to conduct, on a priority basis, a special recruitment drive to fill up these vacancies.

It also directed the Maharashtra Public ServiceCommission (MPSC) to expedite the approval of all pending proposals for the appointment of senior doctors and head of departments, among other posts, in such hospitals.

The bench gave the directions while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a resident of Malegaon town in Nashik district.

The PIL alleged inaction on part of the Maharashtra public health department and the local civic body on filling vacancies for doctors and assistant medical staff at the Malegaon civic hospital for years.

The petitioner, Rakesh Bhamare, cited replies to his RTI queries to inform the court that the authorities had failed to sanction and fill such vacancies since 2012.

On a previous hearing in April, the bench had said it was the government’s duty to provide necessary infrastructure, medical staff, and funds for civic-run hospitals.

At the time, it had also directed the Maharashtra government to file a reply on the steps taken to implement the court’s previous orders on the issue.

During the hearing last week, the state filed its reply, informing the court it had already recommended filling up of some vacancies at the hospitals and that the same was pending before the MPSC.

The bench, however, directed the state to conduct a survey to assess the exact requirements of staff at all government and civic-run hospitals.

“The state will conduct a detailed survey, on a priority basis, in respect of vacancies for doctors, medical officers, and other staff at all government hospitals, and the hospitals attached to civic corporations.

“A recruitment drive must then be undertaken at the earliest to fill up such vacancies,” the Judges said.

The petitioner had also sought that contempt proceedings be initiated against officials concerned for failing to comply with the court’s order not just on the vacancies, but also with regard to a 2016 HC ruling directing the state to constitute a special committee to inspect and review the condition of municipal hospitals.

Such a committee was to meet every two months and take stock. By the states own admission in court, the committee had met only three times since its constitution in October 2016.

The bench directed the officials concerned to file their replies by June 15 to the prayer for initiating contempt proceedings.

Bhima Koregaon victim challenges Ekbote’s bail in Bombay High Court

A victim of the January 1 Bhima Koregaon violence in Pune has filed an application in the Bombay High Court challenging the bail granted by a local court to Milind Ekbote, the prime accused in the case.

Ekbote, who heads a right-wing organisation called the Samast Hindu Aghadi, was booked by the Pune Police in two separate FIRs on charges of inciting violence, as well as under sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

He was arrested in March after the local court in Pune, the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea.

However, a month after his arrest, he was granted bail by the Pune court.

This bail order of the sessions court has now been challenged by Sanjay Bhalerao, one of the victims in the case.

In his plea, filed through his counsel Nitin Satpute, Bhalerao claimed that the sessions court “erred” in granting bail to Ekbote for it failed to take note of the fact that the latter had been charged with a serious offence, and that he was a habitual offender.

Bhalerao cited police records in his plea to show that Ekbote had several cases lodged against him in the past. As per the police’s records, Ekbote has 17 cases of similar atrocities registered against him.

He said the police probe into the Bhima Koregaon violence showed that it was a pre-planned conspiracy.

The probe also showed that Ekbote enjoyed much clout in the local community, and therefore, it was likely that if released on bail, he would try to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence, Bhalerao said in his plea.

Thus, he urged the HC to cancel Ekbote’s bail.

While the plea was mentioned before the vacation bench of HC earlier this week, it would likely be taken up for hearing by a regular bench on June 5.

On January 1, violence had erupted at an event meant to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in which British forces defeated the Peshwa army on January 1, 1818.

The violence led to the death of one person, injuries to several others, including 10 policemen.

High Court tells Maha govt: List steps taken to tackle malnutrition

The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra government to list down the steps taken by it to implement previous orders of the court on tackling malnutrition in the state.

A bench of justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni earlier this week gave the directions while taking note of the information given by petitioners that over 300 children in the tribal areas across Maharashtra had died between September, 2017 and January, 2018 due to malnutrition and related causes.

The court also directed the state to file a status report on the medical facilities, including primary health care centres, and the number of doctors present in tribal areas like Melghat and Nandurbar.

Directing the government to take immediate steps to provide necessary medical aid to the residents, especially the children in such areas, the bench also directed its counsel to take instructions on how the funds allocated by the state and the Centre for tribal welfare were being used.

It also sought details of the packaged food and raw food grains that the state claimed to be providing for residents and children in these areas.

The court was hearing a bunch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) highlighting a rise in malnutrition deaths and illnesses among those living in Melghat region of Vidarbha and other tribal areas in Maharashtra.

Different benches of the Bombay High Court had passed several orders on the issue over the last two years, directing the government to ensure that people in the tribal areas get adequate nutrition, health care, sanitation and education facilities.

During the last hearing, the petitioners – some activists and NGOs – working in the tribal areas informed the bench that 318 children had died due to malnutrition and lack of medical care between September, 2017 and January, 2018 in Melghat and its neighbouring areas.

The government claimed before the court that the situation in these areas had “improved considerably” and that it was taking all possible remedial measures.

The bench, however, took note of the petitioners’ arguments that despite previous orders of the court, tribal areas in the state continued to grapple with inadequate medical facilities.

“318 children from Melghat and its nearby areas succumbed to various diseases and ailments, and for want of proper medical care and aid. The learned Assistant Government Pleader submits that the situation has considerably improved and the state is monitoring and providing necessary backup services to these areas,” the bench said.

“However, the petitioners inform that the tribal areas around Melghat and Nandurbar continue to face apathy and are still deprived of proper medical care and necessary infrastructure facilities,” it added.

“A status report be placed on record. And in the meanwhile, the state shall take immediate steps to provide necessary medical aid to the residents of the subject areas.

It must also focus its attention on the children,” the bench said.

It directed the state to organise medical camps, appoint doctors at least on contract basis, and arrange for vehicles to ensure that doctors and assistant medical staff reach these areas whenever necessary.

In October last year, a bench led by then chief justice of Bombay HC Manjula Chellur had rapped the state government over its failure to provide adequate nutrition and medical aid for the tribal children.

The bench had also passed a detailed order directing the state to inform the court of how the funds received for tribal areas were being utilised.

High Court tells Maha govt: List steps taken to tackle malnutrition

The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra government to list down the steps taken by it to implement previous orders of the court on tackling malnutrition in the state.

A bench of justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni earlier this week gave the directions while taking note of the information given by petitioners that over 300 children in the tribal areas across Maharashtra had died between September, 2017 and January, 2018 due to malnutrition and related causes.

The court also directed the state to file a status report on the medical facilities, including primary health care centres, and the number of doctors present in tribal areas like Melghat and Nandurbar.

Directing the government to take immediate steps to provide necessary medical aid to the residents, especially the children in such areas, the bench also directed its counsel to take instructions on how the funds allocated by the state and the Centre for tribal welfare were being used.

It also sought details of the packaged food and raw food grains that the state claimed to be providing for residents and children in these areas.

The court was hearing a bunch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) highlighting a rise in malnutrition deaths and illnesses among those living in Melghat region of Vidarbha and other tribal areas in Maharashtra.

Different benches of the Bombay High Court had passed several orders on the issue over the last two years, directing the government to ensure that people in the tribal areas get adequate nutrition, health care, sanitation and education facilities.

During the last hearing, the petitioners – some activists and NGOs – working in the tribal areas informed the bench that 318 children had died due to malnutrition and lack of medical care between September, 2017 and January, 2018 in Melghat and its neighbouring areas.

The government claimed before the court that the situation in these areas had “improved considerably” and that it was taking all possible remedial measures.

The bench, however, took note of the petitioners’ arguments that despite previous orders of the court, tribal areas in the state continued to grapple with inadequate medical facilities.

“318 children from Melghat and its nearby areas succumbed to various diseases and ailments, and for want of proper medical care and aid. The learned Assistant Government Pleader submits that the situation has considerably improved and the state is monitoring and providing necessary backup services to these areas,” the bench said.

“However, the petitioners inform that the tribal areas around Melghat and Nandurbar continue to face apathy and are still deprived of proper medical care and necessary infrastructure facilities,” it added.

“A status report be placed on record. And in the meanwhile, the state shall take immediate steps to provide necessary medical aid to the residents of the subject areas.

It must also focus its attention on the children,” the bench said.

It directed the state to organise medical camps, appoint doctors at least on contract basis, and arrange for vehicles to ensure that doctors and assistant medical staff reach these areas whenever necessary.

In October last year, a bench led by then chief justice of Bombay HC Manjula Chellur had rapped the state government over its failure to provide adequate nutrition and medical aid for the tribal children.

The bench had also passed a detailed order directing the state to inform the court of how the funds received for tribal areas were being utilised.

High Court: BMC needs to follow due process of law to take over park

The Bombay High Court today said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot take possession of the 20-acre Priyadarshini Park in south Mumbai without following the due process of law.
The park, situated on the Nepean Sea road, is being maintained since 1985 by the Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum.
In April last year, the civic body had passed an order, seeking to take possession of the park and to evict the forum.

The order was passed in accordance with a recent policy by which the BMC decided to take over all public parks and gardens, including those entrusted to private trusts for maintenance.

The Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum had approached the high court challenging the April 2017 order of the BMC.

After hearing arguments in the case, a division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla today opined that the impugned order was passed without following due process of law.

“The petitioner cannot be evicted in such a manner. The corporation will have to follow due process of law before passing such orders,” the court said.

The bench quashed and set aside the order and disposed of the petition.

BMC needs to follow due process of law to take over Priyadarshini park, says Bombay High Court

In a landmark decision, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot take possession of the 20-acre Priyadarshini Park in south Mumbai without following the due process of law.

The park, situated on the Nepean Sea road, is being maintained since 1985 by the Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum.

In April last year, the civic body had passed an order, seeking to take possession of the park and to evict the forum.

The order was passed in accordance with a recent policy by which the BMC decided to take over all public parks and gardens, including those entrusted to private trusts for maintenance.

The Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum had approached the high court challenging the April 2017 order of the BMC.

After hearing arguments in the case, a division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla today opined that the impugned order was passed without following due process of law.

“The petitioner cannot be evicted in such a manner. The corporation will have to follow due process of law before passing such orders,” the court said.

The bench quashed and set aside the order and disposed of the petition.

High Court rejects restaurateur’s bail plea: Kamala Mills fire

The Bombay High Court today rejected the bail plea of Yug Tuli, the co-owner of the Mojo’s Bistro restaurant and an accused in the December, 2017 fire incident at the Kamala Mills compound here, in which 14 people were killed.
Justice Ajey Gadkari dismissed Tuli’s bail application and said he would pass a detailed order later.

Tuli, who was arrested in mid-January, had approached the high court after his bail plea was rejected by the sessions court.

In his plea, Tuli had claimed that the tragedy occurred due to the “mistake” of the staff at “1 Above”, the other restaurant that was gutted in the blaze on the intervening night of December 28-29.

His counsel Shirish Gupte argued that while as per the police inquiry, the fire did start at Mojo’s Bistro, none of the guests at the restaurant was among the dead.

Prosecution lawyer Prakash Shetty, however, opposed the bail plea and said there was gross negligence on the part of Tuli and all the other accused.

Shetty told the court that as per the inquiry reports of the police as well as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the fire was caused by the flying embers emanating from a hookah being served illegally at Mojo’s Bistro.

Tuli claimed that he had no role in the day-to-day operations of the hookah parlour.

A total of 14 persons have been arrested in the case and booked under various sections of the IPC, including those related to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and causing death by negligence.

The accused include the owners of the Kamala Mills compound, Mojo Bistro and 1 Above and two BMC officials.

On the fateful night, a massive fire had swept through the two resto-pubs at the Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai, resulting in the death of 14 people.

High Court: Police to conduct checks of noise levels at 3 Mumbai metro sites

The Bombay High Court today directed the police to conduct checks at three spots where construction work for the Mumbai Metro III project is on to ascertain if noise pollution norms are being violated.

A division bench of justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla gave the direction while hearing a batch of petitions seeking strict implementation of the noise pollution rules.

One of the petitioners, Sumaira Abdulali, today told the court noise levels due to the construction of the third metro line (Colaba-Andheri-Seepz corridor) were very high.

Abdulali said she visited three spots – Churchgate and Cuffe Parade in south Mumbai and Mahim in western part of the metropolis – and found that noise levels at the metro sites in these areas were above the permissible limits.

The bench then directed the police stations of the three spots mentioned by Abdulali to visit the metro construction sites under their jurisdiction and ascertain the noise levels.

“A report shall be filed by each of the police station on their inspection by next week,” the court ordered.

The government today filed an affidavit in response to concerns raised by the high court on the last hearing regarding protection of the identity of persons who lodge complaints of noise pollution.

The affidavit said the government would, within a month, issue circulars to each police station asking them to not divulge the name, phone number and other details of the complainant.

The bench accepted the affidavit and fixed April 25 as the next date for hearing the petitions.

High Court allows NRI woman to record consent for divorce via Skype

The Bombay High Court has allowed an NRI woman to record her consent for a mutual divorce from her estranged husband via Skype or any other video calling technology.

Justice Bharati Dangre, earlier this month, set aside an order of the city’s family court which refused to register the US-based woman’s petition seeking divorce on the ground that she was not physically present to file it.

The woman had challenged the family court order’s in the high court.

Justice Dangre, in her judgement, permitted the woman’s father to act as the holder of her power of attorney to pursue the case.

The HC judge asked the family court to record the woman’s consent for mutual divorce via online video calling technology like Skype.

“Due to globalisation and since educated young persons are crossing the borders of India, it is not possible to remain present (to file petitions),” the HC said.

It also relied on another HC decision which permitted marriage counselling with the help of webcam.

“There is no legal lacunae in filing of the petition through a registered power of attorney. The family court will not insist on the presence of the parties before the court and would arrange for the consent terms to be recorded either through Skype or adopting any other technology,” Justice Dangre said in her order.

The couple got married in 2002 but had been living separately since 2016. The woman later settled in the US.

Last year, they approached the family court seeking divorce by mutual consent.

High Court asks cricket body if it will seek extra water for IPL pitches, ground

The Bombay High Court today sought to know from the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) if it would seek additional water supply from the Pune civic body for ground and pitch maintenance for six IPL matches shifted to that city from Chennai.

The MCA stadium at Gahunje in Pune will host the remaining six ‘home’ matches of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) after these were shifted from the southern city following protests over the Cauvery water-sharing issue in the Tamil Nadu capital.

A division bench of justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla sought the MCA response while hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Loksatta Movement in 2016.

Opposing holding of IPL matches in Maharashtra, the NGO had raised concerns over water usage for ground management at a time when the state was reeling under drought.

The bench was today informed by the petitioner’s lawyer that while originally 11 matches were to be played in Maharashtra during the ongoing IPL, six games, which were to be played in Chennai, have now been shifted to Pune.

The lawyer argued that the Pune city and rural areas of the district were already facing water shortage.

The judges then sought to know from the MCA, which manages the stadium, if it would be seeking more water than what is being already supplied to it by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Last week, the high court had posed the same query to the Mumbai Cricket Association, which manages the Wankhede stadium, another IPL venue.

The court had asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) if it would supply additional water to the stadium in South Mumbai.

The BMC today filed an affidavit, saying no special water supply would be given to the stadium.

The court posted the petition for further hearing on April 18.

The M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was the home ground of the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK. The IPL franchise played its first home match on April 10 against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Political parties and other groups in Tamil Nadu had demanded that all the IPL matches scheduled in Chennai be cancelled till the Centre forms the Cauvery Water Management Board. They held protests in support of their demand.

The Supreme Court had on February 16 pronounced its verdict on the Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

“The matches had to be shifted out of Chennai as police had said that they were unable to provide security in the prevailing situation” IPL Chairman Rajv Shukla had said on April 12.