Providing safety and security measures in stations as sought in PIL: Railways to Delhi HC

The Indian Railways on Friday told the Delhi High Court that it has put in place safety and security measures like baggage scanners, hand-held metal detectors and CCTV cameras in stations as sought in a PIL.

The court granted the railways time till May 15 to file an affidavit and asked it to indicate the steps taken by it and the future road map with regard to safety and security measures in its stations.

“Whatever they (petitioner) have asked for, we are already providing or are in the process of doing so,” the Railways’ lawyer told a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar and sought time to file an affidavit containing details of the steps taken.

The bench was hearing the petition by a lawyer, Kush Kalra, seeking safety and security measures like baggage scanners, hand-held metal detectors and CCTV cameras at all railway stations in the country.

Kalra, in his plea, has alleged there is a lack of safety and security measures, including anti-collision devices, at majority of the stations in the country.

He has contended in his petition that he had brought to the attention of the Indian Railways the lack of safety measures at various stations, yet it has not taken any steps to rectify the situation.

The plea has also claimed that railways have in replies to Right to Information (RTI) queries admitted that it has received huge budgetary allocations for providing safety and security measures at all of its stations.

“Despite the availability of resources, the respondent (railways) has failed to implement and take necessary steps towards making railway stations safe and secure through installation of the desired safety and security mechanism,” the petition has contended.

Kalra has also claimed that railway stations are soft targets for terror attacks as such incidents have occurred in the past and have led to huge casualties.

“Some safety and security measures are already existing in some railway stations while being completely absent from the others. The respondent cannot adopt a pick and choose method and decide in its own wisdom to identify railway stations for installation of safety and security measures to the exclusion of the others,” he has said.

The petition has further said that while the stations and trains now have state-of-the-art amenities and modern facilities, the railways has failed to improve upon its safety and security mechanisms commensurate with the amenities being provided to its passengers.

Delhi High Court bids Farewell to Justice G.S. Sistani.

The Delhi HC on Friday bid farewell to Justice G.S. Sistani, the 2nd senior most judge, whose retirement brings down the total number of judges in the court to 33 as against the sanctioned strength of 60.

The HC organised a farewell for Justice Sistani, who will retire on Mar 10, on Friday owing to the Holi break on Mar 9 & 10.

Once Justice Subramonium Prasad, transferred to New Delhi from the Madras HC, takes charge as an additional judge, the strength would go up to 34.

Earlier in the day, when Justice Sistani was part of a Bench headed by Chief Justice D.N. Patel, as is the practice on the last day of a judge before he retires, lawyers in the courtroom expressed their gratitude & respect for him.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya & Central govt standing counsel Anil Soni said even adverse orders against them “did not pinch” because of the smile on Justice Sistani’s face.

The same view was echoed by others present in the courtroom. In response to it, Justice Sistani said nobody ever shouted in his court so he never had to shout back either.

A farewell was also organised for him by the Delhi High Court Bar Association where large number of lawyers gathered to bid him goodbye.

Justice Sistani enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1982 & he was appointed as an additional judge of the Delhi HC with effect from May 29, 2006, & was confirmed as a permanent judge a year later on Aug 29, 2007.

 

HC dismisses plea seeking voting rights for prisoners.

The Delhi High Court has dismissed a PIL seeking voting rights for prisoners, saying the facility was provided under the law and it can be taken away by law.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said the Supreme Court has held that the right to cast vote was neither a fundamental right nor a common law right and was only provided by a statute.

The bench noted the right to vote provided under the statute Representation of the People Act was subject to restrictions imposed by the law, which does not allow prisoners to cast vote from jails.

The high court said in view of the apex court rulings and the statutory position, it saw no reason to entertain the plea, and dismissed it.

The decision came on a plea by three law students Praveen Kumar Chaudhary, Atul Kumar Dubey and Prerna Singh seeking voting rights for all persons lodged in jails across the country.

The petition challenged the constitutionality of Section 62(5) of the RP Act, which deprives prisoners of their right to vote.

The Election Commission opposed the plea, saying prisoners do not have voting rights under the Act and it has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The panel told the court the right to vote is a statutory right under Section 62 of the RP Act and “being a statutory right (it) is subject to restrictions prescribed in the RP Act”.

The panel referred to a 1997 judgment of the Supreme Court, which held that the effect of sub-section (5) of Section 62 of the Act is that any person confined in prison while serving a sentence or is in lawful confinement in a prison or in a police custody for any reason is not entitled to vote in an election.

But this restriction does not apply to a person subjected to any kind of preventive detention, the apex court judgment said.

Investigation into Jamia violence at crucial stage and Centre tells Delhi HC

Investigation into the incident of violence at Jamia Millia Islamia during the anti-citizenship law protest was at a crucial stage, the Centre told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday.

The submission before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar was made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta while seeking more time to file a report regarding the probe.

Taking note of the submission, the bench granted the Centre time till April 29 to file a reply.

During the hearing, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for some students of Jamia, said 93 students and teachers filed complaints about alleged attacks on them by police but no FIR has been filed against the agency till date.

The other lawyers for the petitioners alleged that the government has not complied with the court order to file a response within four weeks of the last date of hearing on December 19.

The bench, however, declined to pass any interim order and granted time till April 29 to the government to file a reply.

The high court had on December 19 asked the Centre, the AAP government and the police to respond to several PILs seeking setting up of a judicial commission to look into the violence at Jamia University protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The court was hearing six petitions, moved by lawyers, students of JMI, residents of Okhla, where the university is located, and the Imam of Jama Masjid mosque opposite Parliament House. They also sought medical treatment and compensation for the students.

Besides, they sought action, including registration of FIRs, against the erring police officers.

In the petition filed by advocate Rizwan, it has been contended that according to medical reports of the injured students treated at AIIMS, one of them almost lost his life and another has lost his vision.

The petition had alleged that treatment provided to the injured students was “inadequate”, FIRs have been lodged against them and they were being hounded like criminals.

The petitions had said the force used by the police was “disproportionate”, even if it was required, and “brutal” and expressed concern over the “unregulated and unwarranted arrest and detention of students”.

Free travel on cluster buses without any notification would be “bad” action: HC

The Delhi High Court Monday said if free travel for women was being implemented in cluster buses running in the city without a notification then such action would be “bad”.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar made it clear however that the action would not make the notification, which makes the scheme applicable on DTC buses, illegal.

The observations by the bench came while declining to entertain a plea challenging the notification providing free travel for women on buses operated by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) in the national capital.

“The notification does not say the scheme is applicable on cluster buses. We cannot believe it on your statement. It does not talk of cluster buses. If they (Delhi government) have made it applicable on cluster buses, then the notification is not bad, their action is.

“Then you challenge that before a single judge. File a better petition,” the court said to the lawyer appearing for the petitioner organisations which represent small time public transport operators who run mini buses, ‘gramin sewa’, ‘phat phat sewa’ and rural transport vehicles.

Sensing that the bench was going to dismiss the matter, the lawyer for the petitioner organisations sought permission to withdraw the plea.

The court granted the permission and said, “Dismissed bas withdrawn”.

The petition challenged the Delhi government’s October 28, 2019 notification by which a provision was added in the Delhi Transport Corporation (Free and Concessional Passes) Regulation of 1985 to make travel free for women on DTC buses.

The petition contended that the scheme and the regulation were contrary to the Motor Vehicle Act and impermissible under the Constitution.

It also said that due to free travel for women on DTC and cluster buses, small time operators were getting fewer passengers making their respective businesses financially unviable.

Delhi HC directs police to look into traffic restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the city police to look into traffic restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch, which has been closed for nearly a month due to protests against the amended Citizenship Act, while keeping in mind the larger public interest.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the police to look into the issue while also keeping in mind maintenance of law and order.

The court passed the order while disposing of a PIL filed by advocate and social activist Amit Sahni seeking a direction to the Delhi Police Commissioner to lift restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh Stretch and Okhla underpass, which were closed on December 15, 2019 for ongoing protests against CAA and National Register of Citizen (NRC).

It was a temporary measure but has been extended from time to time.

The Kalindi Kunj stretch is vital as it connects Delhi, Faridabad (Haryana) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh) and commuters are forced to take the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) Expressway and Ashram, which is causing hours of traffic jams and wastage of time and fuel, it said.

Delhi High Court declines to stay AAP govt’s minimum wage notification.


The Delhi High Court has declined to stay the AAP government’s decision taken in October last year to enhance the minimum wages to be paid to workers in the city.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said there was no need for the Delhi government to presume any stay against the notification of October 22, 2019 merely because notice was issued in the petition and applications challenging it.

“It cannot be said that till the notice is made returnable, the respondent-government shall deem as if stay is granted by this court. In other words, there is no need for the respondents to presume any stay against the impugned notification,” the bench said while dismissing an application of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of NCT Delhi.

The organisation had filed the application seeking a stay on the notification in its main petition, seeking to set aside the Delhi government’s decision to enhance the minimum wages for unskilled workers to Rs 14,842 per month, Rs 16,341 per month for semi-skilled workers and Rs 17,991 per month for skilled workers.

The court further said when notice was already issued in the main petition and an earlier application for stay, and when stay was not granted, another plea for the same relief was not maintainable.

The bench also said, “It ought to be kept in mind that when this court had already issued notice in the earlier stay application and not granted any stay, the petitioner has no option but to follow the impugned notification and cannot avoid doing so by filing repeated stay applications.

Plea moved in HC for recovery of damages for property destroyed in anti-CAA protests

A plea was moved in Delhi High Court on Tuesday seeking directions to the authorities to recover damages for destruction of public and private property during anti-CAA protests from those responsible.

The matter was mentioned before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who urged the court to either take up the issue on its own or to permit him to file an application on the same.

The court while declining any urgent hearing on the issue raised by Upadhyay, said he was free to file an application which shall be listed in the normal course.

Upadhyay, also a lawyer, told the court that thousands of crores of property, including public transportation, has been damaged in the protests and the amounts be recovered from those responsible as it was being done in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

There have been several protests in the national capital since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has come into force and police has detained and arrested several persons involved in the agitations.

HC declines to entertain plea claiming telecom services illegally stopped during protests in Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea which alleged that telecom services were disrupted in various parts of the national capital during the anti-citizenship law protests in violation of rules.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar refused to entertain the PIL after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, told the court the disruption was only for four hours on December 19 and was no longer continuing.

There were protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 19.

ASG Jain further said no rules were violated in issuance of the direction for prohibition of telecom services as contended by the petitioner.

The court, while declining to entertain the matter, said the petitioner can file a suit for damages if it has suffered any loss due to the disruption.

The petition contended that the order for prohibition of telecom services in Delhi was issued by a Deputy Commissioner of Police and not the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) who is the competent authority to issue such a direction under the relevant rules.

Chopper scam: ED moves HC to cancel Ratul Puri’s bail in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday moved the Delhi High Court seeking cancellation of bail granted by a trial court to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in the AgustaWestland money laundering case.

The plea by the ED was mentioned before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, which allowed it to be listed for hearing on Friday.

In its petition, filed through central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, the agency has sought setting aside of the bail granted to Puri on December 2 by a trial court.

The ED, in its plea, has claimed that the trial court has not appreciated all the documents put on record while granting relief to Puri.

While granting him the relief, the trial court had directed Puri, who was in the ED custody since September 4, not to “tamper with evidence” or “try to contact or influence the witnesses”.

In the present VVIP chopper scam case, Puri was named as an accused in the sixth chargesheet filed by the ED.

The trial court had noted that the “co-accused having similar or greater role than the role of present accused have already been enlarged on bail.”

According to the ED, the role of Puri was that his foreign entities received proceeds of crime directly from Interstellar Technologies Ltd, a co-accused in the case, and that he had received funds from both the chains of money laundering involved in the present matter.

The ED had filed the supplementary prosecution complaint (ED’s equivalent to a chargesheet) against Puri and Jaspreet Ahuja in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

In January 2014, India had scrapped a contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary, AgustaWestland, for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore being paid to secure the deal.