HC disappointed by officials’ apathy towards upkeep of Gandhi memorial

New Delhi: Pained by the “apathy” of officials towards the upkeep of Rajghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.

“It is painful to see such apathy on the part of the officials tasked to deal with the issue of maintaining Rajghat, a memorial to the Father of the Nation,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said.
The court also termed as “serious” and unfathomable that the authorities were unable to produce the original drawings and plan of the Rajghat samadhi.
“We are unable to fathom how they are not available,” the bench said and directed the secretary, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) to draw up an inventory of the important buildings in the national capital and ensure the availability of the original drawings and plans of such structures.

The court said necessary directions should be issued by the secretary, MoUD, to ensure that the drawings and plans were collected and preserved on an urgent basis.
It then listed the matter for further hearing on August 6.

Delhi HC: PIL to frame norms on police probe into Marital rows

New Delhi:  A senior citizen, who was accused of rape by his daughter-in-law and discharged from the offence two years after the incident, has moved the Delhi High Court seeking framing of guidelines on how police should handle probes into cases arising out of marital rows.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Delhi Police and sought its stand on the plea in which the senior citizen has claimed that the agency colluded with his daughter-in-law, who had also accused her mother-in-law of aiding in the alleged sexual assault.

The plea has claimed that the petitioner, Shashi Kumar Mahajan, was immediately arrested on registration of FIR which was lodged nearly a month after the alleged incident and without any preliminary investigation.

According to the petition the woman had lodged the complaint on May 21, 2014 alleging that her father-in-law raped her on April 21, 2014 with the aid of her mother-in-law while her husband was not present at home.

The father-in-law, a diabetic and heart patient, had to spend two months in Tihar Jail before he was granted bail and a sessions court had later discharged him of the charge of rape only in April 2016 by saying the offence was not made out, the petition has said.

The couple parted ways in 2014 after the arrest of the father-in-law, the plea has said.

It has claimed “abuse of power” by police officers who were investigating the woman’s complaint and has sought initiation of disciplinary action against them.

The PIL, filed through advocate Ashok Mahapatra, has contended,”There is no provision and due process to achieve and secure objectivity and accountability in the investigation, which leads to arbitrary probe and abuse of power and authority in many cases, as in the present matter.”

It said that in the instant case the police officers investigating the case did not obtain any document from the woman to corroborate her allegations regarding demand of dowry made against her husband and in-laws.

The joint plea, also by the woman’s husband and mother-in-law, claimed that the police lodged an FIR a month after the alleged incident of rape and the offence was included in the charge sheet without even carrying out a medical examination of the complainant.

The petition has contended that a “new trend has emerged of foisting alleged rape cases against in-laws, which has become rampant, so that senior citizens are incarcerated in jail”.

The petitioners have claimed that had their mobile phone locations been examined, it would have shown their innocence.

However, the police did not examine this aspect, despite their repeated requests, their plea said.

Apart from the PIL, the petitioners have moved a separate plea in the high court seeking lodging of an FIR against the woman for levelling false allegation of rape against the father-in-law.

In his plea, the senior citizen has claimed that the police instead of hearing his side of the story, “blindly” proceeded on the complaint filed by his daughter-in-law.

He has alleged in his plea that the police of the area was in cahoots with the woman and no fair and impartial investigation was conducted.

The high court is likely to hear the matter next on September 10.

HC rejects as infructuous Sasan Power’s plea to mine excess coal

New Delhi: The High Court today termed as infructuous a plea by Sasan Power Ltd, a Reliance Power subsidiary, seeking permission to extract excess coal from two mines in Madhya Pradesh, saying that the Centre was already examining the issue.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and C Hari Shankar also noted that an inter ministerial committee had severely criticised the mining being conducted by Sasan Power Ltd (SPL) holding that there was high moisture content in the coal due to water not being properly pumped out.

It also said that SPL was asked to improve the quality of mining.

The committee, led by the chairman, Central Electricity Authority, was formed to examine the issue of requirement of coal for Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (Sasan UMPP)and give its recommendation.

“In any case, the respondents (Union of India and Ministry of Coal) are examining the requests for increase in the variations in the mining cap on behalf of the petitioner (SPL) on the basis of factual disclosures made by them. The application is therefore, dismissed as infructuous,” the bench said.

It passed the order on the application of the company seeking permission to mine at least 19 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of coal from Moher and Moher Amlohri Extension coal mines in Madhya Pradesh during the financial year 2017-18.

“We also find that so far as the request of the petitioner to permit increase of the cap for the coal mining is concerned, the Ministry (of Coal) has been taking considered decisions,” it said.

The company had earlier sought permission to mine coal from its two mines in excess of the 17 MTPA cap to enable it to run the 3,960-megawatt Sasan UMPP in the state.

In an affidavit, the coal ministry had told the court that through a letter of February 26 this year, it had permitted Reliance Power, as an interim one-time measure, to extract 18 MTPA in excess of the 17 MTPA cap.

The company was granted the permission to produce additional one million tonne for the financial year ending March 31, 2018.

SPL, in its application, had contended that the mining of 17 MTPA of the mineral allowed from its Moher and Moher Amlohri blocks was not enough to carry out operations till the end of the financial year 2017-18.

The firm had claimed that if it was not allowed to mine another two MTPA, that is up to 19 MTPA, in 2017-18, it would not be able to meet the requirements of Sasan UMPP that supplies electricity to 14 discoms in seven states, including Delhi.

It had submitted that in such a situation, the threat of a shutdown was looming large over the operation of the power project.

According to the company, it supplied electricity under a 25-year-long power purchase agreement on a tariff of Rs 1.196 per kWh to 14 discoms across the states of Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The application was filed in the main writ petition by Reliance Power and Sasan challenging the Centre’s May 7, 2015, decision to cancel one of the three coal blocks allocated to Sasan UMPP.

The government had justified the cancellation, saying the unit’s coal requirement could be met by the other two mines, Moher and Moher-Amlohri extension.

The integrated power plant-cum-coal mining project at a single location involved an investment of over Rs 27,000 crore, the petition said.

Plea to declare disputed area of Ayodhya as national heritage

New Delhi: A petitioner who sought that the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri masjid site at Ayodhya be declared a national heritage was today asked by the Delhi High Court to file a representation in this regard before the Centre.

A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar did not issue notice on the PIL and instead asked petitioner advocate Anu Mehta to make a representation before the Union Ministry of Culture in this regard.

The bench said that the Centre may consider the representation and take a decision within three months.

The PIL has sought a direction to the government to notify and acquire the disputed site and the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act and declare it as the national heritage.

It further sought a direction to the Centre to preserve and protect the site, take necessary action “to preserve the monuments — the ancient temple as well as the mosque — independently”.

“If there was a requirement to separate the superstructure from the original structure, i.e., the entire monument at the site, the sanctity of both monuments should be maintained,” the plea said.

It said that the disputed site was of archaeological importance and had “ancient monuments, antique artefacts and antiques which constitute our national heritage”.

“As per the Act, duty is cast upon the State to preserve ancient monuments and sites and accordingly the said site/monument ought to be accorded place and status of national importance, acquired from private owners and preserved by the state for sake of historical and cultural preservation of the country,” the plea said.

High Court disapproves of dumping garbage on roads as mark of protests

Expressing disapproval over the practice of dumping garbage on roads as a mark of protest, the Delhi High Court has said it was “completely intolerable”.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar was referring to the recent agitation by New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) contractual sanitation workers who dumped garbage outside prominent buildings, like Shastri Bhavan and Rail Bhavan in Lutyen’s Delhi, demanding regularisation of jobs and better wages.

The protesting workers on May 24 had also dumped garbage outside NDMC’s Convention Centre.

The garbage dumps had affected traffic in some areas.

Referring to the incident, the high court said,”This is no way of protesting. It is completely intolerable. It is also a public health issue.”

This is not the first time that municipal staff have resorted to this manner of protest.

A few years back sanitation workers of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) had dumped garbage on roads and even prevented private players, temporarily hired by the civic body, from cleaning it up.

They were protesting against non-payment of wages for several months.

The high court had to step in and issue directions to ensure cleanliness in the areas under EDMC control.

High Court asks govt: Should we ask monkeys not to procreate

Should we ask monkeys not to procreate or bite people till the government comes out with a method to sterilise them, the Delhi High Court asked today.

It also pulled up the Centre for importing oral immune-contraception vaccines for testing on the simians without getting approvals for carrying out the sterilisation trials.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar noted that the vaccine imported from the United States was primarily used to sterilise horses and have not been used on monkeys anywhere in the world.

“Why did you import the vaccine if the permission for trials has not been received,” the court asked the government.

“Till the time you (Centre) get the permissions, shall we ask the monkeys not to procreate and tell them not to bite people,” it asked.

The bench said the issue of controlling the monkey population was pending since 2001 and the Centre was yet to develop a mechanism to reduce their numbers. Agriculture activities in northern India has been stopped and even central Delhi has become increasingly unlivable.

It was hearing a PIL filed in 2001 by advocate Meera Bhatia seeking directions to the authorities to take steps to deal with the menace of monkeys and dogs in the city.

The bench noted that even the Delhi government and a committee set up on court orders to develop an action plan to control the simian population, have not taken any steps.

It directed the committee to hold a meeting in a day and come out with a time line within which it would take steps to sterilise the monkeys.

The court said a member each from NGO Wildlife SOS and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) would be part of this panel, which will also draw up a project estimate for sterilisation of the monkeys and will forward it to the central government.

The WII was directed to ensure that it applied for all requisite permissions within three days and the central agencies were asked to process these applications within four weeks.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on May 31.

During the arguments, Wildlife SOS told the court it had successfully carried out surgical sterilisation by laproscopy of 500 monkeys in Agra and said it could replicate the results in the national capital too if it received the cooperation of the authorities.

The Delhi government, on the other hand, said that surgical sterilisation was ruled out as it was found to be invasive.

Wildlife SOS also told the court that monkey population rapidly increases in urban areas due to the easy access to food, especially in garbage, as compared to forest areas where they have to forage for food.

High Court asks: How will pvt schools implement pay panel without hiking fees

How would private unaided schools in the national capital implement the 7th Pay Commission recommendations without hiking their fees, the Delhi High Court asked the AAP government today.

The query was posed to the Delhi government by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar while asking it to file a status report on the implementation of the pay panel recommendations in private unaided schools.

The court said the government will have to monitor the implementation of the recommendations and should not wait for teachers’ complaints to take any action.

The Delhi government told the bench that it had issued an order in August last year asking all private unaided schools to implement the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission and added that it has not received any complaint from teachers saying this was not being done.

“Why should you wait for complaints? You have to monitor the implementation of your order. Here you cannot take the excuse that the central government is not giving you funds,” the bench said and directed the Delhi government to file a status report in eight weeks.

The court, which listed the matter for further hearing on September 25, was hearing a PIL by an NGO seeking directions to the city government and the three municipal corporations to ensure implementation of the recommendations regarding the teaching and non-teaching staff of the private unaided schools.

The petition by NGO Social Jurist, filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal, has also sought appropriate action against the erring private schools.

The plea has said that the recommendations should be implemented to bring the pay, allowances and other benefits of private school staff in conformity with the employees of corresponding status in the schools run by the government and the three municipal corporations of Delhi.

It has also said the pay scales have not been revised in accordance with the recommendations with effect from January 1, 2016 and the arrears also not been paid.

“Not only are the unaided private schools blatantly flouting the statutory mandate prescribed under the DSE Act, the authorities by not taking any action against the erring schools, appear to be absolutely apathetic towards the plight of over two lakh teaching and non-teaching employees working in the unaided private schools of Delhi,” it has said, adding that this was encouraging the “recalcitrant attitude” of the schools.

High Court orders action against illegal water cooling plants in Delhi

The Delhi High Court today directed the local municipal bodies to take action against water cooling plants which are illegally operating in the national capital in violation of the master plan.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the three MCDs and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) seeking their response to a plea by an NGO which has alleged that the water cooling plants are operating from notified commercial streets in “flagrant violation” of Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021.

NGO Society for Holistic Approach and Development, in its plea filed through advocates Kamlesh Kumar Mishra and Sanjay Baniwal, has claimed that orders for punitive action against such units by the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and other senior officials have been “disregarded” by its own officials.

The plea has said that “despite the orders having been passed and the water cooling plants in the notified commercial streets being illegal and unauthorised, no action has yet been taken.”

Taking note of the submissions, the court directed the EDMC to take action as ordered by its MHO and listed the matter for further hearing on September 19.

The other two corporations were directed to physically inspect such units in their areas and all of them were asked to file their respective status reports on the action taken.

High Court asks: Is IAF protecting its land on Yamuna banks from sand mining

The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre whether the Indian Air Force (IAF) was protecting its land on the banks of the Yamuna, where the Tilpat station of Western Air Command is located, from illegal sand mining.

The query was posed by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar while issuing notice to the Ministry of Defence and IAF on a PIL seeking a CBI probe into alleged collusion by officials of the local authorities and the air force with the sand mafia.

The court said it will decide whether to order a CBI probe after seeing what the IAF has done to protect its land. “We will ensure that IAF protects its land,” the bench said.

Central government standing counsel Anurag Aluwahlia said that 90 per cent of a wall around the site has been completed.

The court was hearing a plea filed by a man, claiming to be a whistle blower, alleging that illegal sand mining was going on at defence land located at the Tilpat Ranges 1 and 2 on the banks of Yamuna in Faridabad (Haryana) and Noida, which falls in the Gautam Budh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh.

The petitioner has said he had made representations to various authorities including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had forwarded it to the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force. He has claimed that the illegal activities have caused a loss of over Rs 29 crore to the exchequer.

The plea has also sought a direction to the CBI to enquire into the serious offences of corrupt practices in compliance with a letter issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in October 2016.

According to the petition, the whistleblower had earlier filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the illegal mining activities of sand mafias on the defence land and the tribunal had in 2013 prohibited mining activity which was being carried out in Faridabad.

The man had earlier approached the high court seeking his relocation to the national capital from Haryana where he was allegedly facing threat to his life for raising the issue of illegal sand mining.

Supreme Court asks HCs to form anti-sexual harassment panels in all courts within 2 months

The Supreme Court today asked chief justices or acting chief justices of all high courts to set up anti-sexual harassment committees in courts across the country within two months in accordance with a 2013 law.
It also requested Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal of the Delhi High Court to constitute the panel in the high court and in all district courts in the national capital within a week.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was hearing a petition filed by a practising woman advocate who alleged that she had been assaulted by some lawyers observing a strike at the Tis Hazari district court complex here.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, asked the woman lawyer and the Bar leaders to amicably settle their disputes and directed that advocates from both sides should not be arrested in connection with the two cross FIRs filed by them against each other.

The bench asked the crime branch of Delhi Police to investigate the cross complaints filed by the lawyers.

The bench transferred the trials, which would arise from the two cross FIRs, to the Patiala House district court in New Delhi and asked the Bar leaders not to interfere with the administration of justice.

The bench then disposed of a writ petition filed by the lady lawyer against the advocates and some members of Delhi Bar Association for allegedly assaulting her.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 requires every workplace to set up committees to probe sexual harassment complaints.