Madras HC seeks status of missing fishermen

Madras HC seeks status of missing fishermen
Madras HC seeks status of missing fishermen

The Madras High Court today directed the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to inform it about the fate of 551 fishermen from Kanyakumari region who are reported missing in the aftermath of cyclone Ochki.

Issuing notices on a petition filed by a resident of Kanyakumari district, which bore the brunt of the cyclone fury, justices R Subbiah and A D Jagadish Chandra ordered the two governments to submit their replies by December 22.

Petitioner Anto Lenin submitted that thousands of fishermen had ventured into the sea on November 29-30 from Kanyakumari district when the cyclone hit southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala coast.

He contended that both the central and state governments failed to issue cyclone warning to the fishermen. Those involved in deep sea fishing were not aware of the cyclone and got trapped.

He also alleged the governments did not take steps to trace them using helicopter immediately after the cyclone. Had they pressed in the helicopters on the next day of the cyclone, the fishermen in deep sea could have been rescued, he argued.

The petitioner claimed that according to a survey conducted between December 3-11, it was found that 551 fishermen were missing.

The fishermen’s families are anxious about their fate, he said and sought the court’s direction to the governments to trace and them.

( Source – PTI )

SC to pronounce order on mandatory linking of Aadhaar tomorrow

SC to pronounce order on mandatory linking of Aadhaar tomorrow
SC to pronounce order on mandatory linking of Aadhaar tomorrow

The Supreme Court today reserved its interim order for tomorrow on a batch of pleas seeking a stay on the government’s decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various welfare schemes, as the Centre extended the deadline up to March 31 next year.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the final hearing on the petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme itself would commence from January 17 next year.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, said the government was willing to extend the deadline up to March 31 next year for mandatory linking of the national biometric identifier to avail the benefit of various services and welfare measures.

Venugopal, however, told the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, that the Aadhaar should be allowed to remain mandatory for opening of new bank accounts.

The government had yesterday issued a notification to extend till March 31 the deadline for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar and Permanent Account Number (PAN) for bank accounts and certain financial transactions. However, there is no word on extending the February 6, 2018 deadline for linking mobile SIM cards with Aadhaar.

On the issue of linking of Aadhaar card with mobile services, the Attorney General said that the deadline of February 6 next year was fixed in pursuance of an apex court direction and the constitution bench may consider extending this deadline also.

On November 27, the apex court had said it may consider setting up a constitution bench to hear the pleas challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for availing various services and benefits of welfare schemes.

Recently, a nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had claimed it violated privacy rights.

The Centre had on October 25 told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive benefits of government schemes has been extended till March 31, 2018 for those who do not have the 12-digit unique biometric identification number and were willing to enrol for it.

The Attorney General had told the court that no coercive action would be taken against those who do not have the Aadhaar card but are willing to enrol for. He had said such people would not be denied the benefits of social welfare schemes till March 31.

Some petitioners in the top court have termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as “illegal and unconstitutional”.

They have also objected to the CBSE’s alleged move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for students appearing for examinations, a contention denied by the Centre.

( Source – PTI )

Place rules on registration numbers of VVIP cars: HC to govt

Place rules on registration numbers of VVIP cars: HC to govt
Place rules on registration numbers of VVIP cars: HC to govt

The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre and the AAP government to place before it the rules regarding display of just the State Emblem of India on the cars of the constitutional authorities and dignitaries, such as the President, instead of their registration numbers.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed both the governments to check the position and inform it before the next date of hearing, December 20.

“There must be some protocol/rule with regard to the issue raised in the writ petition. Please ascertain the exact position and inform this court,” the bench said.

The court’s directions came on a plea seeking to enforce the display of registration number on cars of constitutional authorities and dignitaries.

The petition, filed by an NGO, claimed that the practice of displaying the state emblem, the four lions, instead of the registration numbers, make the cars conspicuous and the dignitaries become easy targets for terrorists and anyone with malicious intent.

“The practice of replacing the registration mark with the State Emblem of India, instead of displaying them both is arbitrary and symptomatic of the desire to rule rather than to serve,” the petition has alleged.

The plea, filed by NGO Nyayabhoomi, also sought direction to the Delhi government and Delhi Police to seize the cars used by the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Vice President, Raj Niwas and Protocol division of the Ministry of External Affairs for not being registered under the Motor Vehicles Act.

The plea referred to an RTI response by the Ministry of External Affairs saying that none of its 14 cars maintained by its protocol division were registered.

On the other hand, the plea claimed that the Rashtrapati Bhawan refused to supply the registration numbers of its cars on the ground that disclosure of this information would endanger the security of the state and life and physical safety of the President.

It said a person meeting with an accident involving such a car cannot bring any claim against it as due to the absence of any identification mark, the vehicle’s ownership cannot be known and the citizens get the message that if a dignitary could disobey the law and get away with it, so could they.

It also sought prosecution of the owners of cars being used by such dignitaries in a time-bound manner and sought a direction to the ministries of home affairs and external affairs to register the cars used by the dignitaries and obtain their insurance policies.

( Source – PTI )

Centre willing to extend deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhar

Centre willing to extend deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhar
Centre willing to extend deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhar

The Centre today informed the Supreme Court that it was willing to extend till March 31 next year the deadline fixed for mandatory linking of Aadhaar for availing various services and welfare schemes.

The Supreme Court now will be setting up a five-judge Constitution Bench next week to hear several pleas seeking an interim stay on the Centre’s decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal that the Centre was willing to extend the deadline of December 31 to March 31 next year for linking of Aadhaar with various services and schemes.

The Attorney General, however, made clear that February 6 next year would remain the deadline for linking Aadhaar for availing uninterrupted mobile services as it had been mandated by the apex court.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for those who are opposed to Aadhaar scheme told the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, that the central government should give an undertaking that no coercive steps would be taken against those fail to link their Aadhaar with various services.

The apex court on October 30 had said that a Constitution Bench would commence hearing on the clutch of petitions against Aadhaar scheme from the last week of November.

Recently, a nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had claimed it violated privacy rights.

The Centre had on October 25 told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive benefits of government schemes has been extended till March 31, 2018 for those who do not have the 12-digit unique biometric identification number and were willing to enrol for it.

The Attorney General had told the court that no coercive action would be taken against those who do not have the Aadhaar card but are willing to enrol for. He had said such people would not be denied the benefits of social welfare schemes till March 31.

Some petitioners in the top court have termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as “illegal and unconstitutional”.

They had also objected to the CBSE’s alleged move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for students appearing for examinations, a contention denied by the Centre.

One of the counsel representing the petitioners had earlier said that final hearing in the main Aadhaar matter, which is pending before the apex court, was necessary as the government “cannot compel” citizens to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or cell phone numbers.

( Source – PTI )

SC allows Centre to withdraw force from Darjeeling hills

SC allows Centre to withdraw force from Darjeeling hills
SC allows Centre to withdraw force from Darjeeling hills

The Supreme Court today permitted the Centre to withdraw four of the eight companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) from strife-torn Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal for deployment in poll-bound Gujarat.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud agreed to the Centre’s plea to relocate half of the remaining paramilitary forces from the state’s strife-torn districts to the poll-bound state.

The apex court had earlier on October 27 permitted the Centre to withdraw seven of the 15 companies of CAPF from Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts for deployment along the borders of Jammu and Kashmir and in the north-eastern states and to the poll-bound states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

The Calcutta High Court had earlier stayed the withdrawal of CAPF from Darjeeling hills, the scene of unrest over the statehood demand, till October 27 after the state government approached it opposing the Centre’s decision.

( Source – PTI )

Pollution in poultry farms: NGT notice to Centre

Pollution in poultry farms: NGT notice to Centre
Pollution in poultry farms: NGT notice to Centre

A plea highlighting environmental pollution caused by the improper waste disposal and unregulated use of antibiotics in poultry farms has prompted the National Green Tribunal to seek a response from the Centre and others.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and sought their reply in three weeks.

The matter was listed for hearing on January 9 next year.

The tribunal was hearing the plea filed by animal activist Gauri Maulekhi seeking quashing of the CPCB’s 2015 guidelines exempting commercial poultry farms from the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and delegating the power to local authorities.

As per the guidelines, farms which have more than one lakh birds are required to take clearance under the section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, while poultries with 5,000 birds have to register themselves with the local authorities.

The plea claimed that the poultry farms caused extensive pollution in the surrounding areas as they have thousand of birds in intensive confinement, resulting in huge accumulation of waste.

“This huge quantum of waste is seldom disposed scientifically. The poultries impact the ecology and the living of those who surround the farm. Pests which are attracted to the farms make it difficult for the people living in the vicinity.

“In order to keep thousands of birds alive in such intensive confinement and unclean surroundings it becomes important to administer non-therapeutic antibiotics on a regular basis. The administration of these antibiotics adversely affects the health of those who live around the farms and those who consume the birds or eggs,” the plea said.

It has also sought directions to regulate the use of antibiotics in the poultry farms so that these drugs are not administered indiscriminately.

( Source – PTI )

Delhi HC asks Centre, WB Govt if Mukul Roy was being monitored

Delhi HC asks Centre, WB Govt if Mukul Roy was being monitored
Delhi HC asks Centre, WB Govt if Mukul Roy was being monitored

The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre and the West Bengal government to “unambiguously” inform whether politician Mukul Roy, who recently joined BJP, was being monitored or his calls being intercepted allegedly by the state police.

The court’s direction came when it was hearing the former Trinamool Congress MP’s plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged surveillance and tapping of his phone by the West Bengal police.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued notices and asked the ministries of Home Affairs and Information and Broadcasting, West Bengal government and police, CBI, MTNL and Vodafone to file their responses in a sealed cover in two weeks.

“Notice issued. Respondents to file counter affidavits unambiguously stating whether the petitioner (Roy) is being monitored or his calls are intercepted by any of the agencies.

If so, they should also file the affidavits with reasons in sealed cover,” the court said and listed the matter for hearing on December 7.

It also said that it was open for the authorities to take all legal grounds in the affidavit, including the issue of jurisdiction.

During the hearing, senior advocate Arvind Nigam, appearing for Roy, said they have made a representation before the Centre and added “let them (Union and the state) say on an affidavit that they are not tapping my calls.”

Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan opposed the petition and questioned the jurisdiction, saying if at all any cause of action arises, it should be at a court in West Bengal.

The lawyer said no monitoring was done without following due process and the politician’s claim was only that he apprehended that he was under surveillance.

“Today it is one petition that the petitioner apprehends surveillance and if it is entertained, tomorrow 20,000 such pleas will come. Where is the cause for apprehension,” he argued.

Senior advocate Dinesh Mathur, appearing for the West Bengal government and police, questioned Roy’s move of filing the petition in Delhi and not in Kolkata and claimed it was a fishing and roving enquiry.

To this, the court asked the Centre and state government to make a statement on record that Roy’s claim was incorrect and it will close the matter.

“Everything has checks and balances. Those checks and balances are subject to judicial review. They are public figures and not criminals,” it said.

The plea has also sought directions to Roy’s telecom service providers MTNL and Vodafone to produce the orders, if any, issued by the Centre or the state government to intercept telegraphic messages originating from or received by the leader or any of his relatives.

Advocate Kumar Dushyant Singh, who filed the petition on behalf of Roy, has said the CBI should be asked to investigate the “interception of telegraphic messages originating from or received by the petitioner or any of his relatives”.

He said that in case any such order was issued, the court should direct the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to investigate any violation of the ‘License Agreement for Unified License’ by Roy’s mobile service providers.

Roy has alleged that while he was in West Bengal, he always found that the local police were monitoring his movements.

The plea has claimed that similar apprehensions were put on record by several other persons including Union minister Babul Supriyo, who does not belong to the ruling party in West Bengal.

( Source – PTI )

Jantar Mantar bungalow never alloted to Agnivesh, NGO: Centre

Jantar Mantar bungalow never alloted to Agnivesh, NGO: Centre
Jantar Mantar bungalow never alloted to Agnivesh, NGO: Centre

The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that its records show a bungalow on Jantar Mantar Road in the heart of the national capital was allotted to the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Smarak Trust and was not allocated to either activist Swami Agnivesh or his NGO.

The response of the Ministry of Urban Development to a query under the Right to Information Act said the records suggested that as on April 30, 1977, bungalow number 7 at the Jantar Mantar Road was in the name of the trust.

“As per records the property is not allocated to Bandhua Mukti Morcha at any point of time. As per the records, the property was not allocated to Swami Agnivesh in the past,” the ministry said.

The RTI response said that there was no complaint with regard to the property during the 2010-2015 period.

“No such complaint indicating illegal possession and misuse is found in the records of property no. 7, Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi,” it said.

The RTI reply was referred to before a bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru which was hearing a plea filed by activist Ajay Gautam against an October 2016 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC).

The CIC had denied him the information sought on the ground he was not a lessee of the property.

Agnivesh, however, said that his NGO Bandhua Mukti Morcha is operating from the bungalow.

The court considered the response of the Centre and disposed of the plea of Gautam.

Gautam, in an RTI application, had sought information whether the bungalow was ever alloted to Bandhua Mukti Morcha or its national president Agnivesh.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Land and Development of Delhi had failed to provide the information, according to him.

( Source – PTI )

Madras HC direction to Centre on transgenders bill

Madras HC direction to Centre on transgenders bill
Madras HC direction to Centre on transgenders bill

Voicing concern over the plight of transgenders, the Madras High Court today directed the Centre to inform it whether a follow up action would be taken to make the transgender bill pending in the parliament a statute.

Giving the direction on a petition filed by two trangenders, Justice N Kirubakaran said a decision on the passage of the bill should be taken at the earliest because the transgenders were suffering.

He directed the central government that it has to inform the court whether the follow up action would be taken to make the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 a statute.

He noted that the Lok Sabha referred the bill to the parliamentary standing committee on social justice and empowerment on September 12, 2016, for examination and the committee submitted its report on July 21 this year.

“They (transgenders) are unable to even use public facilities like washroom for their convenience. If any right is given under the proposed act, it will definitely address this problem also,” the judge said.

The judge also directed the Centre to inform the court why it introduced its own bill in the Lok Sabha when already a private member bill “The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014” was passed unanimously by the Rajya Sabha on April 24, 2015, and subsequently came to the lower House.

He was referring to a submission by the counsel for the Centre in this regard.

Taking a serious view of the Tamil Nadu government’s failure in implementing the court’s earlier direction on reservation to transgenders, the judge said a decision shall be taken on or before November 27 failing which the health secretary, and the secretary, Social Welfare Department have to appear in the court.

A bench of the high court had directed the state government to take a decision on the reservation for the transgenders within six months.

“The period of six months has already expired and even today it is stated that the decision is being considered,” he noted in his order.

They could not postpone the issue of making reservation to transgenders indefinitely, the judge said.

( Source – PTI )

SC notice Centre,states on plea to curb pollution in Delhi-NCR

SC notice Centre,states on plea to curb pollution in Delhi-NCR
SC notice Centre,states on plea to curb pollution in Delhi-NCR

With the air quality in Delhi and the national capital region worsening, the Supreme Court today asked the Centre, the AAP government and states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana about remedial steps that can be taken to curb the rising pollution.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra issued notice to the Centre and the governments of Delhi, UP, Haryana and Punjab and sought their responses to a PIL which has sought emergent steps to improve the air quality in the region, especially in the national capital.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, however made it clear that the proceedings on the other pleas relating to air pollution, before any court or forum, would not be put on hold.

The apex court said it will deal with the issue to find a long term solution the problem of air pollution.

Apart from preventing stubble burning and cleaning dust from the roads, the plea by lawyer R K Kapoor has also suggested promoting use of solar energy and electric vehicles.

The petitioner, however, was not in favour of the odd- even scheme of car rationing saying it was “not productive” in controlling the air pollution in the city.

The petition has claimed that the rise in dust particles on roads, stubble burning in Delhi’s neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab and UP have led to an alarming rise in the pollution levels in the NCR and its adjoining areas.

Kapoor, in his plea, has contended that breathing such polluted air could result in asthma and cancer.

The petition has called for incentivising the use of alternate sources of energy like solar, besides developing projects to prevent stubble burning, which the Delhi High Court had recently termed as the “main villain” behind the poor air quality in the national capital.

The petitioner also told the court that pollution due to dust can be controlled by sprinkling water on the roads.

( Source – PTI )