CBI’s shield against transparency law challenged

The government’s decision to exempt the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from the purview of the country’s transparency law was challenged in the Delhi High Court Wednesday.

‘After admitting the public interest litigation, the court posted the hearing on it on July 6,’ said petitioner Sitab Ali Chaudhary.

He challenged the June 9 government notification exempting the CBI, the NIA and the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), a proposed centralised data system for quick access to information on terror suspects, from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

‘Hiding information sought under the RTI Act is unconstitutional,’ he said.

‘The petition has been filed for the benefit of citizens incapable of accessing the court themselves,’ said the petitioner.


Ketan Desai’s election to Gujarat University senate challenged

The Supreme Court Monday issued notice on a petition by an NGO challenging the election of Ketan Desai, a former president of the Medical Council of India (MCI), to the Gujarat University senate.

The petition was filed by People For Better Treatment (PBT) president Kunal Saha.

Desai was removed from the MCI last year over allegations of “professional misconduct” and corruption. His medical registration was also suspended by the MCI.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly issued notice after it was told that Desai could not be elected to the university senate on a post reserved for a registered medical practitioner.

The court said it would appoint a lawyer to assist it in the case.

The petitioner has challenged a Gujarat High Court order dismissing his plea on the ground that being a non-resident Indian (NRI) he was not entitled to move the court and invoke public interest.

The high court also imposed a cost of Rs.10,000 on petitioner Saha. His NGO is based in Kolkota and he is settled in America.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani told the court that if Saha’s stakes in the matter were in question then the court could appoint a lawyer to decide the controversial election of Desai to the Gujarat University senate.

The high court while dismissing Saha’s petition said he has not established his credential or bonafide for pursuing the case.

The high court held that Saha had not shown how he was associated with the field of medical education.

The petitioner told the apex court that Desai was caught by the CBI for allegedly taking a bribe April 23, 2010. Subsequently, the MCI with its 100 members and Desai as its president was dissolved and replaced by a six-member board of governors.

Desai was elected president of MCI in 2009.

Ayodhya verdict challenged in Supreme Court

The Allahabad High Court’s Sep 30 verdict on the Ayodhya dispute was Monday challenged by a petitioner in the Supreme Court.

The appeal was filed by Mohammad Siddiq alias Hafiz Mohammad Siddiq on behalf of 90-year-old organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH). Siddiq is the general secretary of the JUH, which had taken part in the country’s independence struggle.

The appeal raised 33 questions of law and facts seeking to be addressed by the apex court.

A three-judge special bench of the high court had ordered division of the disputed 90 ft x 120 ft Ayodhya plot of land where the Babri Masjid once stood into three parts – one to Ram Lalla deity, one to the Nirmohi Akhara and one to the Sunni Waqf Board .

The JUH questioned whether the high court while deciding the case travelled beyond the pleadings of the parties because in none of the suit there was any prayer for the partition of the site.

It has also asked whether the high court could have taken the support of a report of the Archaeological Survey of India which had no evidentiary value.

The petition said that the high court judgment said that the structure in question was a mosque. Merely because in some portion of that structure Hindu prayers were being performed did not change the ownership status, it said.

The petition also raised the question whether the high court could have re-written history while delivering the judgment substituting its role from an adjudicatory body on law to that of historians.

The two certainly had different spheres and different fields, meaning thereby the established history had to be applied in consonance with the facts contained therein, it said.

The petition said that the high court fell in serious error by passing decree on the basis of faith and belief.

The judgment and decree could not have proceeded since the law did not recognize the “faith” or “belief” for the purpose of a determination of issues between two or more litigating parties.

The petition said that the belief that Lord Ram was born on the site of Babri Masjid was not the same as that Lord Ram was the king of Ayodhya and son of King Dashrath.

Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its senior leader L.K. Advani, the petition said that the high court failed to take into account motives and vested political interests in nurturing such beliefs.

The petition said that the Ramjanmabhoomi movement of the 1980s-90s was aimed at political gains.

This agitation created a communal divide between Hindus and Muslims, it said.

The petition expressed its surprise over a high court judge having “castigated and passed extremely uncharitable remarks against some of the expert witnesses of history/archaeology produced by Muslims”.

While no such comments were made against the so-called expert witnesses produced by the Hindus related to the construction of the disputed building and giving much more self-contradictory statements, it said.