High Court seeks govt reply over plea on ‘discrimination’ against women in CISF

The Delhi High Court today sought the Centre’s response on a plea alleging “institutional discrimination” against women in recruitment for constables and drivers in the Central Industrial Security Force.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Centre and the CISF on the plea which alleged that in an advertisement, issued by the force, only male candidates were sought for “constable/driver and constable/driver-cum-pump operator for fire services” in the force.

The plea by Kush Kalra, filed through advocate Charu Walikhanna, said the human rights of women were inalienable and an integral and indivisible part of human rights.

“The respondents (Centre and CISF) are practising institutional discrimination, without any rationale basis depriving females the right to serve in the aforementioned posts. The state cannot enact any law which is inconsistent with/in derogation of fundamental rights and as a consequence thereof, respondents cannot frame any law/rules/bye laws/regulations for its functioning which is inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights,” the plea said.

The petition also said there was no rationale for not recruiting women for the posts of constable/driver and constable/driver-cum-pump-operator for the fire services in the CISF.

It also said that such discrimination by the Centre and the CISF cannot stand the test of “reasonable basis for treating equals differently” as laid down by the Supreme Court.

While seeking a direction to recruit women to the post in CISF on par with men, the plea also sought to know the steps taken by CISF towards gender equality.

“Direct respondents (Centre and CISF) to inform this Court as to what steps it has taken towards Gender Equality in all posts in CISF,” plea said.

High Court told: 81 unlicensed milk dairies in north MCD areas

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation today told the Delhi High Court that there were 81 unlicensed dairies in the areas under its jurisdiction and that action was taken against some of them by taking away their cattle.

The submission by the corporation was made before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar during the hearing of a PIL alleging violation of animal rights and laws in milk dairies in and around the national capital.

The civic body also told the court that only 18 licensed dairies existed in the area under its jurisdiction.

During the brief hearing, petitioner’s lawyer Gauri Maulekhi told the court that the number of unlicensed dairies might be higher than what the corporation was claiming.

The lawyer also urged the court to direct the corporation to strictly adhere to its registration and licensing policy.

However, as the stand of the other corporations and the Delhi government had not yet been filed, the bench decided to wait for their replies before passing any order.

The petition has alleged that the health and well-being of cattle were being severely compromised in dairies in Delhi’s municipal zones.

The PIL by Maulekhi, an animals rights activist, has alleged there was indiscriminate violation of animal rights and, due to lack of infrastructure, there is no proper space for animals who have to sit alternately.

“It’s not uncommon to inject these cattle with Oxytocin, a prescribed drug, to boost milk letdown and sometimes this is done 2-3 times a day,” the plea has claimed.

The plea has also sought closure and proper relocation of dairy units in Delhi.

It claimed that animals were kept in sheds with thatched roofs supported by bamboo sticks in east Delhi’s Ghazipur dairy, while they were forced to live under sheets in Masoodpur dairy near Vasant Kunj in south west Delhi.

PIL in High Court against new tender to empanel chemists under CGHS

The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Centre on a PIL challenging an e-tender issued for empanelment of authorised local chemists under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) for the national capital area.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and sought its reply to the plea by July 9, the next date of hearing.

The bench also said that the outcome of the tender process, for the financial years 2018-21, shall be subject to further orders on the writ petition.

The court said it was the government’s responsibility to notify all bidders about the petition and orders passed.

The petitioner, Inder Lal Marwah, has contended that the new tender, issued in January this year, has done away with the distance requirement as an eligibility criteria for empanelment of authorised local chemists for CGHS centres in Delhi.

Marwah, in his plea filed through advocate J C Vashista, has said that earlier there was a requirement that a chemist shop be located within five km distance of a wellness centre.

Later, the criteria was modified to the extent that the shop be located in the same zone as the wellness centre, the plea has said.

It has claimed that complete removal of the distance requirement “would adversely affect availability of emergency medicines required by wellness centre(s) or beneficiaries who are in dire need of said drug”.

The plea has also said that removing the distance criteria is “bound to increase mal-practices and sub-letting of the indented medicines drugs from empanelled chemists”.

“It will also increase the time limit for making available the emergency medicines/drug(s) which are not available at a wellness centre,” it has also said.

High Court to Rlys: Visually impaired need human assistance, not wheelchair

The Delhi High Court today wondered how a wheelchair provided by the railway authorities would help a visually-impaired person who requires human assistance in catching a train at a railway station.

The court said a visually or speech impaired person does not require a wheel chair as they walk themselves and need human assistance.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar made the observation while going through a status report filed by the railways that they were providing wheelchairs to differently-abled persons at the station.

The court hearing a PIL initiated on its own after coming across a report that the door of a special compartment for the disabled was shut and such a youth missed his MPhil test at the Delhi University in July last year.

Terming the report as an eye opener, the bench had remarked that even the Delhi University (DU) did not pay attention to the ordeal of the student, Vaibhav Shukla, and telling him that they cannot help him.

During the day, the court was informed by senior advocate S K Rungta rpt S K Rungta, who is assisting in the matter, that disabled persons were asked by the Railways to pay charges for availing wheelchair facilities and they were also not being providing human assistance.

“Why is no free assistance given to the person who needs a wheelchair? What is the purpose of having a wheelchair? If someone is travelling alone, how will they use wheelchair unless you provide them a motorised wheelchair.”

“A visually-impaired persons or a locomotive disabled cannot run around looking for your disability assistance officer. How will a visually impaired person reach the train? A visually or speech impaired person does not need wheelchair. They walk but they need human assistance. Where is human assistance,” it asked.

However, the counsel for Railways and a senior officer said their helpline provides all assistance and also called on the helpline number inside the court itself.

The court noted that though it was mentioned in the status report that services may be arranged on payment basis, railway was giving assistance free of cost along with human assistance to disabled persons, including visually or speech impaired, and senior citizens.

It also asked the authorities to give wide publicity to its ‘Yatri mitra sewa’ which has been introduced at major railway stations for the time being.

The bench was informed by the railways that they have formed a module and started imparting training for sensitising staff regarding differently-abled persons.

The court also asked them to place the roster through which the training module is being implemented and take the assistance of Nipun Malhotra, a disability rights activist who suffers from a locomotor disability, to impart training.

According to reports, the student had attempted to board the Gorakhdham Express operated by the North-Eastern Railway at the Unnao railway station in Uttar Pradesh on July 5 last year to appear in the entrance exam for the MPhil course conducted by the DU.

When he tried to board the coach reserved for disabled persons which was next to the engine, the persons occupying the compartment refused to open the door, it had said.

High Court raps DGCA for changing stipulated flight duty time limitations

Concerned over fatigued pilots and cabin crew posing a risk to passenger safety, the Delhi High Court today took to task aviation regulator DGCA for allowing airlines to change stipulated flight and duty time limitations (FDTLs).

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was going against its own Aircraft Rules by allowing such changes and questioned its power to do so.

“We cannot have regulations which go beyond the rules in order to cater to the market requirements of airlines. It is manifestly illegal and a threat to passenger safety. You have no power to permit variations (of FDTLs),” the court told the DGCA and added that if it wanted the power, it would have to get the Aircraft Act and Rules amended.

“You cannot undo what the legislature has consciously done,” the court said.

The bench said that the “prime requirement” was passenger safety and not whether pilots have complained.

The court said that lack of complaints by pilots or accidents were “not the answer” and asked the regulator how many times it carried out risk assessments regarding pilot fatigue before permitting the variations.

It also asked, “Why fix standards of maximum flying time and minimum rest period when you are going to vary them.”

The observations came after the DGCA said variations were being permitted as there have been no accidents because of that and also no pilot has complained of fatigue till date.

The court asked the regulator that if people die because it did not do its duty, then what it has done would amount to murder as was allegedly stated by the petitioner, Kerala-based lawyer Yashwanth Shenoy, in his emails to the DGCA.

The bench directed the regulator to disclose the number of changes it has permitted post amendment of the Aircraft Rules in 2016 when its power to make variations to FDTLs was taken away.

It also ordered the regulator to produce its original records of the requests received from the different airlines as well as a tabulation of the exemptions or variations that were granted before the amendment and were still in force.

The bench further directed the DGCA to state on affidavit that it has not granted any exemptions or variations after the 2016 amendment to the Aircraft Rules.

With the direction, the court listed the PIL, which raises issues of pilot and air crew fatigue, obstacles around the Indira Gandhi International Airport and passenger safety, for further hearing on April 18.

According to Shenoy, the maximum flying time is around 125 hours per week and this gets varied according to the requirements of an airline, each of which has a different FDTLs.

During the hearing, the bench on a lighter note said, “He (Shenoy) is right. If we hear the matter, we will stop flying.”

Earlier, the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), which operates the IGI, had told the court that there were 365 obstacles around the aviation hub that may pose a threat to aircraft safety.

Shenoy, in his plea, has recalled what set him off on this path was the 2010 Mangalore air crash. On May 22 that year, Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway on landing after which it caught fire, the plea has said. Of the 160 passengers and six crew members on board, only eight had survived.

He has claimed that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the Central lndustrial Security Force and the Delhi Police have not taken airport security seriously and buildings and hotels around the airport were operating without complying with the conditions imposed.

High Court raps media for disclosing Kathua gangrape victim’s identity

The Delhi High Court today issued notices to several media houses for disclosing the identity of the eight-year-old who was gangraped and killed in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and prohibited them from further revealing her identity.

The high court, which took up the matter on on its own after coming across the media reports, said it was “unfortunate” and “extremely distressing” that the victim’s photograph was also displayed in the print and electronic media.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notices to several media houses whose reports the court had come across and sought a response asking why action should not be taken against them.

“A whole media trial is going on,” it said.

The court directed media houses to not bring out any publication containing the girl’s name, photograph, name of school or any other details which could disclose her identity.

The court said the news reports “disrespected and violated” the privacy of the victim which “cannot be permitted under any circumstance”.

The bench said there are provisions in the penal law and under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act which prohibit any kind of reporting that affects reputation and impinges on the privacy of victims, including children, of sexual offences.

The eight-year-old had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir on January 10.

Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The state police Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed a main chargesheet against seven persons and a separate chargesheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.

The chargesheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

HC to Delhi govt: Ensure proper street-lighting in city

The Delhi High Court today directed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the civic bodies to ensure proper street-lighting in the national capital on a plea alleging that the LED lights on public roads and streets of south Delhi were not functioning.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar disposed of the petition after the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) informed it that according to a joint inspection by the civic bodies, the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), the manufacturer of the lights, the BSES and the petitioners, 97 per cent of the street lights were functioning.

“During the pendency of the matter, a joint inspection stands conducted. Parties have participated. Respondent 5 (SDMC) has submitted that 97 per cent of the lights were functional. Nodal officers from the Delhi government to look into the functioning of street lights and hold regular meeting with the petitioners. Ensure that proper street lights are provided. The petition is disposed of,” the bench said.

The petition was filed by south Delhi residents Manjeet Singh Chugh and Ravi Gopal Krishnan, alleging that the LED lights on the public roads and streets of south Delhi were either not working or not being maintained or replaced.

During the hearing, the petitioners had sought a third-party investigation into the condition of the nearly two lakh street lights.

“The street lights are improper. The illumination is inadequate and there is no proper earthing,” the petitioners had told the court.

They had also pointed out that several crimes were committed on the Delhi roads as they continued to be dark.

“There are electric poles and lights but they never work or are very dim. If they are properly maintained, many crimes can be averted,” the petition had said, adding that vast stretches of the roads remained dark, despite crores of rupees being spent on LED lighting.

Plea in High Court against CBSE decision not to hold Class 10 maths retest

The Delhi High Court today said it would hear a plea tomorrow challenging the CBSE’s decision not to hold a re-examination for the Class 10 mathematics paper, the contents of which were leaked recently.

The plea was mentioned before a bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar which listed it for a hearing tomorrow.

The CBSE had on April 3 decided not to conduct the retest in Delhi-NCR and Haryana, the two regions where the leak reportedly took place.

A day before the decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the high court had asked the board to inform it by April 16 about its plans, if any, for a re-examination.

The CBSE told the court it was ascertaining the extent of the leak before announcing the date for a fresh test.

The court had sought a response from the CBSE and the Centre on a plea for a court-monitored probe into the leaks of two papers — Maths for Class 10 and Economics for Class 12.

The CBSE has already announced that the Class 12 Economics retest will take place on April 25.

The earlier petition by NGO Social Jurist had sought that the Class 10 Maths exam be held in April, instead of in July as was being considered by the authorities.

High Court seeks ICMR’s assistance to control monkey’s population

The Delhi High Court today sought the assistance of Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for controlling the population of monkeys in the national capital.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar was informed that ICMR, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, has conducted a study on the issue of controlling the birth rate of monkeys.

It also sought a report from the Centre on constitution of a high-level committee to examine the issue of safety, security and efficacy of immune-contraception vaccine to control the population of monkeys in Delhi.

It was informed by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Kaur Acharya that a proposal has been moved for forming a committee to examine the issue of the contraceptive vaccine.

The bench, which observed it was concerned for human safety, noted that in Tamil Nadu monkeys were spreading an infection in humans which was dangerous.

Advocate Meera Bhatia, who has filed the PIL in 2001 seeking directions to the authorities to take steps to deal with the menace of monkeys and dogs here, said its been 17 years she has been fighting for this cause and the government has not done anything.

Regarding the menace of dogs in south Delhi, the court was informed by the corporation that they have contracted out to NGOs for sterilisation of canines.

Observing that there has been no effective result on dog’s population, the court called for videographing the sterilisation process.

It also formed a committee to check on the effectiveness of birth control measures.

The court had earlier directed the Wildlife Institute of India to expedite the conclusion of the National Institute of Immunology’s (NII) project to research and develop an immune-contraception vaccine to control the population of monkeys in the national capital.

In the PIL, an application has also been moved by residents of colonies and farmhouses surrounding the Asola sanctuary seeking directions to the authorities to stop relocating monkeys to the area.

Delhi HC voices concern over sale of refrigerated water through unlicensed water trolleys

The Delhi High Court today voiced concern over sale of refrigerated water through unlicensed water trolleys, and directed the municipal corporations along with the city police to stop the illegal activity at the earliest.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the police to provide requisite assistance to the all the municipal corporations in removing such unauthorised trolleys.

“The dirty water is a health hazard which can cause jaundice and diarrhoea. These people don’t even wash their hands. You go to ITO and see the people who sell fruit juice. They keep the ice on the pavements on which people have urinated. The water which is being used for ice formation is dirty,” the bench observed.

During the hearing, the lawyer appearing for the petitioner society argued that though the municipal corporations were taking action against the water trolleys, the police were not providing due cooperation in the drive.

The high court was hearing a plea filed by Refrigerated Water Licensees Association and others seeking action against illegal water trolleys selling refrigerated water.

The plea had claimed that the polluted water containing chemicals was being sold and the people were forced to drink contaminated water resulting in various water borne diseases.