MP HC admits plea against Sachin’s Bharat Ratna

 MP HC admits plea against Sachin's Bharat Ratna
MP HC admits plea against Sachin’s Bharat Ratna

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has admitted a petition seeking stripping of the Bharat Ratna awarded to cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar for allegedly using the “fame” of the honour in “earning money by endorsing commercial products.”

A high court bench comprising Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice K K Trivedi yesterday issued a directive to Assistant Solicitor General to find out if there are any Supreme Court guidelines (do’s and dont’s) for Bharat Ratna awardees and get back to it in a week’s time.

The petitioner V K Naswah, a resident of Bhopal, stated that Sachin is a popular figure as has accomplished many a world record in the game of cricket for the country.

Naswah accused Sachin of exploiting the “fame” of the highest civilian award to promote commercial products and earn money which he said was against the dignity, legacy, and tenets of the highest civilian award.

Naswah said that Sachin should return the award on moral ground and if he fails to do so the central government should strip him of the honour.

Sachin recommends more than 12 brands including Aviva Life Insurance, Boost (malt-based nutrition drink), MRF, Luminous and realtor Amit Enterprises. He retired from all forms of cricket last November.

Court notice to UGC over private varsities

himachal high courtTaking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has issued notice to the University Grants Commission (UGC), asking it about the steps it has initiated to implement regulations pertaining to establishment and operation of private universities in the state.
From the news item that has appeared in The Tribune, it transpires that the UGC is abdicating its authority bordering on non-performance and disregarding the violations committed by the private universities, a division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh observed last week.
The court observed that “this is polluting the environment of quality education to be imparted by the universities”. The high court Oct 19 set aside the State Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory) Act of 2010 that empowered a government regulatory commission to monitor universities. The court also directed the state through the chief secretary and the principal secretary (education) to file its reply on the issue.
It also sent a notice to registrars of all private universities to file their response pertaining to irregularities mentioned in the news item. The UGC, the state and the universities have been told to file their respective replies by Nov 13.
It was mentioned in the news item that the UGC seemed to be unconcerned about enforcing its regulations pertaining to the establishment and operation of private universities and till date it had conducted inspections of only five universities. After the judgment, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has made it clear that a regulatory body was required to maintain quality of education.
“We are considering to file an appeal against the high court judgment. We are taking legal opinion. A final decision in this regard will be taken only after that,” he told reporters here. The judgment to quash the State Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory) Act came on the petition of the Himachal Pradesh Private Universities Management Association, which was seeking setting aside of the act and quashing of notices issued to them.
The bench of Chief Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh had declared the act unconstitutional on the ground that the state legislature was incompetent to enact such a law on a subject covered by the field occupied by Entry 66 of the Union List.
Entry 66 of the Union List stipulates that a teaching university will not come within the purview of the state legislation on account of the specific nature of determination of standards in institutions for higher education being in the Union List for which parliament alone is competent to legislate.
“Accordingly, we may have to declare the Act of 2010 ultra vires and void ab initio,” they ruled. Official sources told IANS that the regulatory commission had played a crucial role in pointing out irregularities by the universities. These were: enrolling students even before the institution came into existence; admitting students even without fulfilling minimum qualification; filling more than approved number of seats and registering research scholars to Ph.D courses without UGC approval.
(Source: IANS)

HPCA row: Himachal writes to BCCI

Ahead of a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) meeting, the Himachal Pradesh government Wednesday clarified that the state cricket body, registered as a cooperative society, is subject to proceedings for alleged irregularities.

State registrar of cooperative societies R.D. Nazeem, in a missive to the BCCI, said the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) is registered under the Societies Act and subject to proceedings under its Section 41 over alleged irregularities.

Official sources said the letter was sent ahead of the BCCI meeting scheduled in Mumbai Sep 29.

The registrar of cooperative societies issued a show-cause notice to the HPCA Sep 7 over alleged irregularities in registering the sports body.

It has restrained the HPCA governing body from passing any order or resolution, or making any expenditure or investment or banking transaction or performing any other act concerning the affairs of HPCA without the approval of the additional deputy commissioner of Kangra district.

“The purpose of sending this communication is to point out the true facts about the state of affairs with regard to the HPCA, as per the facts gathered by the registrar and the media reports that the HPCA is claiming to be duly authorised body to attend the meeting of BCCI on Sep 29,” said the letter signed by Nazeem.

He further said: “There is substantial interest of the state government in proper functioning of the HPCA as the association has been given public largesse in the form of land and other facilities, being a registered society under the act, constituted for the purpose of development of cricket in most transparent manner”.
Interestingly, HPCA president Anurag Thakur told reporters in Dharamsala that the HPCA is not covered by the societies act.

In a setback to HPCA, the state high court Sep 19 directed Thakur to appear before the registrar of societies in Shimla.

Dismissing a petition filed by the HPCA and Thakur for quashing a notice issued to the cricket body by the registrar of cooperative societies, a division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh directed the petitioners to appear before the state registrar of cooperative societies Sep 30.

Thakur is also a joint secretary in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The court asked them “to submit objections and preliminary objections, which shall be decided by the registrar of societies”.

The HPCA had challenged the notice, saying it was converted to a not-for-profit company Oct 1, 2012, and hence it was not a registered society and the registrar of societies could not exercise any jurisdiction over it.

The state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau last month filed a cheating and misappropriation case against the HPCA over alleged wrong-doings in allotment of land to the sports body for constructing a residential complex for the players near its stadium in Dharamsala.

The land was allotted when the BJP government, headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal, was in power in the state. Thakur is Dhumal`s son.

(Source: IANS)

Court gets tough against encroachments in Shimla

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the municipal commissioner of Shimla to file an affidavit, within six weeks, about the number of encroachments in the markets, with explanation why each of these was not removed within a reasonable time.

A division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh passed the order on a public interest litigation of Neelam Sharma on encroachments in Lower Bazaar, Ganj Bazaar and other markets in the town, once the summer capital of the British.

It also directed the commissioner to personally examine the issue of encroachments as well as the explanation offered by the occupants before taking any coercive action against violators as well as corporation employees for ignoring these, the judges said in the order, made available to the media Thursday.

The bench clarified that the pendency of the petition would not be an impediment for the corporation to take action against the unauthorized structures already identified by it.

The court will next hear the matter Oct 28.

(Source: IANS)

Himachal court seeks list of ‘tainted’ officials

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked the state’s chief secretary for a list of government functionaries with doubtful integrity.

A division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh directed Chief Secretary Sudripta Roy yesterday to file an affidavit by Oct 1 listing the names of “tainted” officials and their postings.

The list may include officials who have been convicted in courts, awarded major penalty in departmental enquiries, against whom proceedings for a major penalty in a departmental enquiry have been started or who were facing trial.

The high court also sought details of officials who were prosecuted but got acquitted in trial courts on technical grounds.

The court would next hear the matter Oct 3.

The high court order comes on the plea of former drug controller Sher Singh Thakur, who was convicted in June 2011 for corruption, against the state to set aside the departmental proceedings against him.

Last September, while hearing the same petition, the high court asked the government to furnish a list of functionaries involved in corruption and moral turpitude over the past 10 years.

(Source: IANS)

Himachal court frowns on transfers on political grounds

Transferring government employees on political grounds is against public policy, the Himachal Pradesh High Court ruled Friday.

Setting aside the transfer order of four government employees, a division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh observed: “The transfer at the instance of a person, who has no role to play in the government, will not only be extraneous consideration but also against public policy.”

“It shakes the confidence of the people and creates an impression in the mind of the common man that the centre of power is somewhere else and not the government,” they said.

Public Works Department employee Sanjay Kumar, one of the petitioners, said he was transferred from Dharampur division to Sangrah division against a vacant post on political grounds.

He said he was transferred at the instance of Chander Sekhar, a Congress worker, and that 400 transfers were carried out at his behest.

“To curb this tendency and inspire confidence in the general public and more particularly in the employees, it is necessary that no one should get an impression that an employee can be transferred for asking at the instance of a person, who has no concern with the government,” the judges said.

“Issuing transfer orders at the instance of an outsider, who happens to be a party worker, cannot be a coincidence. Such action not only shakes the conscience of the court, but also inevitably impinges upon the validity of such orders as the same are the product of colourable exercise of power.”

The judges said the proposal for a transfer has not originated from the administrative department concerned but because of the direction received from the Chief Minister’s Office.

“The special secretary to the chief minister informed the head of the department concerned that the chief minister has approved the transfer of the incumbent from his present posting to the specified station against vacancy, with direction to take necessary action accordingly,” they said.

(Source: IANS)

Himachal’s hydro project again taken to court

Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) has again come under the purview of the state high court, with international hydropower equipment company Andritz Hydro Private Ltd alleging flawed evaluation of bids.

A division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice R.B. Misra directed HPPCL to reconstitute the evaluation committee and to once again look into the allegations made by the bidders in order to ensure that the tender evaluation is done strictly in accordance with law.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded project, the 450 MW Shongtong-Karchham hydropower project in Kinnaur district, has started running into trouble this time during the evaluation of the bids for the electro mechanical works, an HPPCL’s official told agency.

Two out of the four bidders, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Andritz Hydro, filed representations before HPPCL objecting to the evaluation process last month, he said.

The HPPCL in its letter dated May 16 dismissed the representations of both BHEL and Andritz Hydro. They later moved the high court seeking a declaration to the effect that the bid of Alstom India Ltd, to which this project was likely to be awarded, be proclaimed non-responsive.

During the hearing, the high court asked HPPCL how they could write such a letter and dismiss the representations made by the bidders before award of the bid.

After listening to the arguments made by Andritz, HPPCL and Alstom, the bench directed HPPCL to reconstitute the evaluation committee and once again look into the allegations made by the bidders.

Sources in HPPCL said BHEL, in a communication to HPPCL, had also raised serious objections through a letter regarding the tender process for the project.

In March this year, the state high court stayed the execution of this project.

At that time, the order of a division bench of Acting Chief Justice R.B. Misra and Justice V.K. Sharma came while hearing a petition of the central government and the Indian Army’s Western Command, who contended that the HPPCL went ahead with the project despite objections raised by the army from 2007 to 2013.

It said the hydro project is located in vicinity of an ammunition depot where project authorities are using explosives to construct a road.

The petition of the army is still pending in the high court, sources said.

The other hydropower projects the HPPCL has taken up include the 100 MW Sainj in Kullu district, Sawra-Kuddu hydroelectric project (111 MW) in Shimla district and Stage I, II and III of Kashang project (195 MW) in Kinnaur. 

(Source: IANS)