Court notice to Delhi government, MCD over poor conditions in schools

The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the city government and the MCD while taking cognizance of the postcards written by students narrating the allegedly poor conditions in their schools.

The court took suo moto cognizance of 181 postcards written by the students of government and MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) schools in Madanpur Khadar to the acting chief justice of the high court raising issues ranging from corporal punishment to infrastructure and quality of teaching.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajeev Sahai Endlaw asked the Delhi government and MCD to file their reply within four weeks and posted the matter for Nov 7.

The school children have alleged that they are “consistently abused and beaten up with fists, kicks, flinging shoes, sandals and canes. Some teachers fling shoes towards students for pointing out the teacher’s mistakes. Others are beaten up with shoe-blows for using teachers’ toilets, while students’ toilets are in an unusable state”.

The plea filed by Ashok Aggarwal summarised the content of the postcards.

“Some teachers play cricket in school instead of teaching. About 140-150 students are accommodated in one classroom having not more than 20-30 benches. Rainwater leaking through broken ceilings and collecting in classrooms and on walls give electric shocks,” the petition said.

“Some teachers abuse students for asking for a toilet break. Students are also beaten up if they ask for more food in mid-day meals. Some others assault them for asking questions while they do not explain anything by themselves,” it added.

The students of two government schools – Rama Krishna Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya and Sarvodya Kanya Vidyalaya – and two primary schools run by MCD wrote the postcards highlighting the problems faced by them.

Govt should ensure quality food in Rly

The Centre was today asked by the Delhi High Court to respond to a PIL seeking adequate measures by the government to ensure that hygienic and quality food is available at railway premises and also in moving trains.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued notice to the Railway Ministry, Chairman of Railway Board, Director General (Railway Health Services) and also the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on a PIL filed by Sardar Jagjit Singh, a retired Food Inspector with Railways.

The petitioner filed the PIL through counsel K C Mittal and said 23 million people travel by train in various parts of the country every day and “the petition focuses on the prevailing appalling conditions of sale and supply of adulterated food stuffs in Indian Railways.”

The lawyer also submitted a CD containing a news article from a television channel and said “the worst is the insensitivity and failure on the part of the respondents to take adequate steps to ensure sale and supply of unadulterated, wholesome and hygienic food to 23 million passengers who travel everyday (24X7) by trains in different parts of the country.”

Seeking a direction to various authorities to issue notifications in compliance the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, the PIL said, “…Establish prosecuting and adjudicating agency and Food Safety Appellate Tribunal, at micro level to monitor and check the food adulteration day and night at various Railway stations.”

It said the checking should be done in passengers and goods trains, pantry cars, other food outlets in Railway area operated by private contractors or IRCTC or food plazas including unauthorised vendors and canteens run by Railways.

The bench has now fixed October 31 for further hearing of the matter.

Alter master plan to operate bus depot near Yamuna: Court

The Delhi High Court Thursday granted six months time to the government to alter the city’s master plan in case it wants to continue to operate the Millennium Bus Depot on the banks of the Yamuna.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said that in case the government amended the master plan, the bus depot would continue to operate from the site. Otherwise, it would have to be relocated.

The depot was constructed by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) as a temporary arrangement ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games here.

“The petitions are accordingly disposed of by granting six months time to respondents (Delhi government) to take steps for the change in the master plan, if it is possible, thereby changing the land use and bringing it in conformity with the present land use,” the court said.

“In case, the master plan is amended in this manner, the natural consequence thereof would be that the bus depot would continue to operate from the given site,” the court said.

The bench said that in case the master plan was not amended by the government there would be no option but to re-locate the depot.

“In that event, it will be for the DTC to ask the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) to allot an alternative site,” the court said.

The court’s directions came on petitions filed by environmentalists seeking directions to demolish the depot, alleging that its construction was against the master plan and harmful to the river.

The petitioners said that use of concrete for depot’s parking area could badly affect the water recharge capacity of the area.

The government argued that the depot was not built on the river bed but on a site earlier used for dumping flyash.

“We are of the opinion that these petitions can be disposed of by permitting the respondents to take steps for amendment in the master plan, as per law, if permissible,” the court said.

“There is a specific procedure for effecting the change in the master plan, which includes notice to the public at large and inviting objections. Once this procedure is followed and objections are invited, it would be open to petitioners to file their objections and raise issue of ecology and environment which will have to be considered,” the court added.

The depot was inaugurated in September 2010.

HC’s fiat dashes Kalmadi’s hope to seek re-election

Controversial IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi was virtually barred from seeking his re-election as the sports body president with the Delhi High Court ordering today holding the polls for it strictly under the sports code that bars a person from seeking fourth term in the office.

The National Sports Development Code provides that a person, who has been the president of a sports body for 12 years (one term lasts four years) or has turned 70, will not be able to contest again.

Kalmadi, 68, who has been at the helm of IOA affairs for over last 18 years, cannot contest if the sports body follows the code in the election for its office bearers, scheduled to be held in October-November this year.

“The Indian Olympic Association is to hold the elections observing the National Sports Development Code,” said a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw.

The court’s order came on a PIL by lawyer Rahul Mehra, who sought judicial intervention to rid the sports bodies of the country of various alleged maladies.

During the hearing, Mehra said the polls for various posts of IOA is likely to be held in October this year and there was every likelihood that administrators like Kalmadi may flout the code to get re-elected.

The court, which was hearing a batch of applications filed by lawyer Rahul Mehra on the issue, has now fixed the matter for hearing on October 15.

On another plea, alleging irregularities in the election for the office bearers of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on April 14, the court asked the Union Sports ministry to take a “reasoned” decision within six weeks after considering the submissions of the lawyer and the AFI.

The court said measures like de-recognition of AFI may also be taken if the allegations of flouting of the Code is found to be correct.

The court, meanwhile, would hear tomorrow Mehra’s another plea for a direction to the Archery Association of India (AAI) to hold election for its office bearers on September 29 in accordance with the sports code.

The AAI is yet to file its reply. BJP leader V K Malhotra is presently holding the post of AAI president.

On March 21 this year, the high court had warned Kalmadi to either quit as Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president or face the court’s action against him.

The court had issued similar warnings to two other IOA officials Lalit Bhanot and V K Verma, who are facing trial in the CWG-related graft cases along with Kalmadi.

Kalmadi had quit as IOA president after he was arrested on April 25, 2011 in the case, but he resumed the office after securing bail.

(Source : PTI)

Make new rules for chess quota seats, court tells DU

The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed Delhi University to lay down fresh physical standard criteria for students who take admission under the sports quota for indoor games like chess.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: “Laying down a ll these standards is not the function of the courts, therefore, this court can only direct the University of Delhi to consider the matter in the light of our observation and after indepth deliberations come out with the physical standards which are required for” these games.

The court’s direction came on a plea filed by a student seeking the quashing of the university’s guidelines for a mandatory fitness test to seek admission under the sports quota, even for indoor games like chess and carrom.

Petitioner Chetna Karnani, a 17-year-old chess player who secured 72.5 percent in her Class 12 exams, had sought admission under the sports quota. In June, she failed in the fitness test because of her obese stature.

The court declined to grant any relief to Karnani saying that “unless the Delhi University prescribes fresh standards for games like chess, we cannot grant any relief to her”.

The university was directed to reformulate physical standards for games like chess which it could implement from the next academic year, said the court.

The court said the existing physical standard criteria was apt and justified for outdoor games and also indoor games like badminton and table tennis, in which physical activity was involved.

“It may not be entirely rational to have this criteria for games like chess,” the court said.

“No doubt it is the physical fitness which leads to mental fitness. However, it should be examined as to whether for a person playing games like chess a level of physical fitness is appropriate,” the court said.

The judges were of the opinion that different standards of physical fitness may be required for games like chess and carrom.

Karnani challenged the revised guidelines of the university and its sports council dated May 18 which mandated “general physical fitness test” for admissions under the sports quota.

She applied for B.A. (English) course in four colleges of the university under the sports quota for chess players.

The petitioner said that she had been pursuing the game of chess for more than seven years.

“Chess is an indoor game and it has nothing to do with the level of physical fitness a candidate must possess,” said the petition.

Ban uninsured vehicles, court urged

The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the central and Delhi governments and the Delhi Police commissioner on a plea seeking directions not to allow uninsured vehicles to ply on any road.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw sought their replies by Oct 13, the next date of hearing.

The petition was filed by family members of Dinesh Sehgal, 48, who was killed in a road accident Aug 22, 2011, caused by an uninsured tractor.

The plea sought directions to the central and Delhi governments and the police chief to “effectively” implement the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

It was also alleged that the respondents deliberately neglected the implementation of the provisions of the act by not prosecuting the owners or drivers of vehicles without third party liability insurance.

“The respondents permit the uninsured vehicles to ply on the road in breach of law and, thereafter, neither prosecute the owner or driver nor seize or auction the offending vehicle,” said the plea.

The petitioners sought directions to the central and Delhi governments and the police chief to compensate the victims of road accidents due to their alleged negligence.

The plea urged the court to ask the respondents “to explain the measures adopted by them since 2009 to curb the menace of uninsured vehicles plying on road, drivers without valid driving licence, fake driving licences and drunken driving”.

It said that the Supreme Court and the high courts had passed many directions asking the government to implement the Motor Vehicles Act.

In 2009, the police commissioner assured the Delhi High Court to strictly comply with the rules under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Delhi High Court dismisses plea against regularising illegal colonies

The Delhi High Court Wednesday dismissed a plea questioning the power of the central government, Delhi government and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) TO regularising the capital’s unauthorised colonies.

“We do not interfere WITH government decisionS. No interim relief can be granted. Application dismissed,” said a division bench of Acting Chief Justice A. K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw while refusing to stay the regularisation process.

The petition, filed by architect and town planner H. R. Suri, sought the court’s direction to the Delhi government stopping it from implementing its decision to regularise 917 unauthorised colonies in the national capital.

“Restrain all the respondents from making any declaration or pass any order or give any direction regarding regularisation of unauthorised colonies in the NCT (National Capital Territory) of Delhi in any manner and by any means during pendency of the petition,” the petitioner said.

Standing counsel of Delhi government Nazmi Wajiri, however, told the court that “it was necessary to regularise the colonies and the government did so under the directive principles of state policy (of the constitution).

Court notice on pre-primary classes in state-run schools

The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the central government on a plea seeking directions to the state government and civic agencies to start two years of pre-primary classes in their formal schools.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued notice Wednesday to the union human resource development (HRD) ministry and the social justice and empowerment ministry on a petition filed by NGO Social Jurist.

Social Jurist’s counsel Ashok Agarwal urged the court to direct the Delhi government to introduce two years of pre-primary classes in all state-run schools.

Agarwal told the court that there was a need for a uniform system of education in private and government schools.

“Almost all private schools have two years of pre-primary classes where children above three years of age are admitted but in case of the state-run schools, no such provisions are there,” counsel said.

He added that the children of poor families also deserved schooling at an early age of three years.

Agarwal said that the high court earlier issued notices to the Delhi government and the civic agencies in Delhi to file their response.

“Civic agency officials said that they followed the policy of the Delhi government in the matter of education. The Delhi government sought more time to file its response,” Agarwal said.

HC to hear tomorrow plea on regularisation of colonies

A day after the Capital’s 895 unauthorised colonies were approved for regularisation, the Delhi High Court today decided to hear tomorrow a plea for restraining the government from taking any final decision on the issue.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, before whom the matter was listed today, posted the matter for hearing tomorrow. “List the matter for hearing tomorrow as none appeared for respondents (Centre, Delhi government and the DDA),” the bench said, while hearing the plea of H R Suri, an architect and town planner, filed through counsel Anil Aggarwal. In his petition, Suri said, “This court is yet to decide his plea questioning the power of the Centre, the city government and the DDA to regularise the unauthorised colonies and the city government can not take a decision on a subjudice matter.”

The petition sought a direction to “restrain all the respondents from making any declaration or pass any order or give any direction regarding regularisation of unauthorised colonies in the NCT of Delhi in any manner and by any means during pendency of the petition.” The petition referred to a recent media report on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s promises to regularise 917 unauthorised colonies soon. ”

In case, the respondents succeed in their plans and designs to illegally regularise unauthorised colonies, not only this would perpetuate illegality but will also render the petition futile and will frustrate the endeavour of the petitioner,” the petition said.

The city Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna’s nod has come yesterday for regularisation of 895 out of 917 colonies. Following the LG’s direction, the Delhi government has asked all the three municipal corporations to take the help of professional architects to make layout plans.

Court issues notice to centre on filling UGC chairman seat

The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the central government to respond on a petition seeking direction to fill the seat of UGC chairman which has been lying vacant since February last year.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) and University Grants Commission (UGC) to respond on the plea within three weeks.

The PIL (public interest litigation) filed by C.S. Kalra, a retired professor, also pointed out that the seats of Secretary and Financial Adviser are lying vacant since 2005.

He alleged that the government was deliberately delaying the recruitment for the post.

Kalra also alleged that the present acting chairman of UGC, Ved Prakash, has been holding the post for more than three years in violation of the University Grants Commission Act.

“A major fraud has been perpetrated on the system by first selecting Prof. Ved Prakash as vice-chairman of the UGC from March 3, 2009 without giving any advertisement for the post,” Kalra said.

Kalra further alleged that the HRD ministry allowed Ved Prakash to continue as acting chairman for more than 14 months even though his tenure ended March 2, 2012.

The government counsel, however, said that Ved Prakash was allowed to further continue in the post to maintain continuity.