Educate Delhiites about grievances of northeast people: HC

nepeopleStating that people should “cultivate the ability to live together”, the Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the city government to “educate and sensitise” people about the grievances of people from the northeast residing in the capital. Expressing concern over the “disturbing trend” of violence against northeast people, a division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued certain directions for the central government, Delhi Police and the city government.

While passing the order, the bench said: “Today, when boundaries between countries and restrictions on movement internationally are disappearing, it is unfortunate that a small cross-section of society is attempting to put up barriers to movement within the country.” The high court ordered trial courts to expedite the hearing of 26 cases pending for 4-5 years and related to harassment of people from the northeast, so that conviction, if any, can act as a deterrent. Taking note of the recent attacks on people from the northeast in the city, the court said it was indicative of a “disturbing trend, which threatens the integrity of the country, of intolerance to movement of people within the country”.

“No native of any state of India can be allowed to, by harassing, offending and by other criminal acts, prevent people from another state to settle and carry on any business or vocation therein,” the court said. “There are bound to be cultural differences between people from different states of India. Such differences are the essence of humanity. The said differences, rather than becoming a sources of hatred or conflict and separating us, should be respected and harnessed to bring a collective strength that can benefit the entire country.” “If this country is to survive and be at peace, each of us has to respect the rights of others and cultivate the ability to live together. Tolerance is a requirement for survival. Mahatma Gandhi said ‘No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive’,” the court said. The bench further asked Delhi Police to identify discrepancies in delay in post-mortem reports and directed it to take steps to ensure that the reports reach the investigating officers immediately when furnished by hospitals. The city government was also directed to expedite the setting up of forensic labs. It also suggested the setting up such labs in hired accommodation. On setting up of separate helpline to prevent offences against northeastern people, Delhi Police was directed to immediately take steps for operationalisation of the helpline within six weeks. The bench also asked the centre to take steps to recruit people from the northeast in Delhi Police and publicise vacancies among all the northeastern states. It said posting of sufficient number of Delhi Police personnel from the northeastern states in the 11 districts of Delhi will increase the level of interaction with the public as well as investigation.

It will go a long way in building confidence in the people from the northeast in Delhi police and also in familiarising police personnel with the people and culture of the northeastern states, the court said in the order. It also asked the central and state governments to give thought to the possibility of bringing legislation for preventing natives of one state from harassing migrants from other states or from indulging in hate crimes against them.

The court asked the legal services authority of the city government to hold workshops to educate residents and sensitise them to the grievances of people from the northeast. The court also asked the governments to undertake a study to determine the cause of such attacks against people from the northeast. It took suo motu cognizance of an incident where Nido Tania, son of Arunachal Pradesh legislator Nido Pavitra, was allegedly beaten up by shopkeepers Jan 29 in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market following a row over his appearance and clothing. He died of his injuries in a hospital the next day. The court will now hear the matter March 5.


Delhi HC concerned over pesticides in vegetables

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Wednesday expressed concern over a report that said pesticide residues were found to be “beyond permissible limits” in vegetables and edible items sold across the country.

A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, taking note of a report filed by amicus curiae Sanjay Jain, issued notice to the central and city governments on the issue.

It sought response from the department of agriculture and cooperation, department of agriculture research and education, department of chemicals and petrochemicals, department of biotechnology, ministry of environment and forests, food safety and standards authority, and department of food safety.

The court will hear the case March 5.It said high content of pesticides in vegetables and fruits required a “pan-India” concerted effort.

Jain submitted a report and said pesticides are used in a “growing number of vegetables which have the potential to cause serious neurological problem, kidney damage, skin diseases, cancer and other diseases”.

Going through the report, the court said: “India is not a country to allow such type of chemicals to be used in vegetables and fruits. The central government has to make the effort. It has to be pan-India effort.”

Jain told the bench that the issue required efforts from all stakeholders, including various government departments.

Appearing for the Delhi government, advocate Zubeda Begum told the court that the Delhi Agriculture Marketing Board found “no pesticides residues beyond permissible limit” on 1,134 samples reviewed in a year, from January 2013 to January 2014.

The samples collected and tested by the government were very small and did not reflect the actual ground figures, said the amicus curiae, who was assisting the court in the matter.

He further said there was no effective public campaign to educate the farmers, despite the fact that ignorance of farmers was the fountainhead of the pesticide problem.

The high court had earlier taken suo motu cognizance on an NGO report that said the amount of pesticides used by farmers in India was as much as 750 times higher than European standards.

(Source: IANS)

Explain extra allowances to MPs: Court

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Thursday asked the central government to explain why extra allowances are being paid to MPs.

The Delhi High Court Thursday asked the central government to explain why extra allowances are being paid to MPs.

A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the central government to appraise it whether the MPs are getting double their travelling expenses while travelling on the railways.

It asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeeve Mehra to also inform it about the “rationale of travel expenses of MPs”.

Mehra told the court that he will seek details from the parliamentary affairs ministry on the issue.

The court’s direction came on a PIL seeking a direction that MPs not be allowed reimbursement of their travel expenses more than the actual amount they have spent.

“Are they getting double the travelling expenses,” asked the bench, adding that “even we judges are getting reimbursement of only the actual expenses incurred on travelling”.

The PIL was filed by B.N.P Singh, a retired air force officer and now general secretary of civil society group Veteran’s Forum for Transparency in Public Life, challenging some provisions of salary and allowances available to MPs.

During the hearing, advocate Sitab Ali Chaudhary told the bench that the railways had issued passes to MPs on which they can travel free of cost, “but they also get reimbursement of their rail travelling irrespective of class they travel”.

“MPs are getting double benefit. With the pass they can travel free and also they get reimbursement for same travelling (expenses),” he said.

While travelling by air, MPs get one-fourth extra allowance, the lawyer claimed.

The action on the part of the government allowing the MPs to seek reimbursement of more money than they actually spend (Rs.1.25 or more reimbursed on Re.1 spent) on their travel expenses was “most illegal, arbitrary and discriminatory”, the advocate added.

The plea claimed that even the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts are allowed reimbursement of only the actual expenses incurred by them on their travel and not in the ratio as MPs are getting.

The petition sought directions from central government to have travel allowance and dearness allowances of the MPs of both the houses audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The central government had earlier told the court it takes “due precautions and measures” while reimbursing the expenses of MPs, so that no unnecessary payment is made to them.

(Source: IANS)

Government, police told to ensure law and order in juvenile homes

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Friday, taking exception to the failure to control rioting by the juveniles in homes, directed the government and police to ensure maintenance of law and order in all the homes here.

A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan took suo moto cognizance of recent incidents of juveniles going on a rampage and observed that “hands-off attitude” of the officers will not serve any purpose and “power and responsibility has to be clearly defined”.

“Something is wrong. System is responsible for this, there can’t be lawlessness. We can’t allow rioting on daily basis, it means you are doing nothing,” the bench said during the hearing.

During the hearing the bench said that between August to now, there have been four incidents of rioting, fires and escapes at observation homes for juveniles, in conflict of law, run by the Delhi government’s women and child development department.

Department’s director Rajeev Kale, who was present before the court, said that his department had not been able to control the violence due to lack of standard operating procedures as well as multiplicity of authorities, such as the national child rights panel, the Delhi child rights panel, the supervision committee, NGOs and social activists.

“These multiple authorities have undermined the status as well as power of the officer-in-charge of the observation homes as they have frequently interfered in the administration of observation home,” he said, adding that certain hardened juvenile accused, convicted for murder, have recently been moved to the observation home.

Recording the submissions of the officer, the court said that keeping in view the emergent situation, it would make Kale as well as a senior officer of Delhi Police, not less than the rank of deputy commissioner of police, to be nominated by the police commissioner within 24 hours, personally responsible for maintenance of peace as well as law and order in all the homes.

The bench further said that the two officers will be at liberty to devise standard operating procedures forthwith as to how to deal with cases of rioting, fires, escapes ect. at observation homes.

“They are also given authority to deploy more staff and force in all the observation homes. They are also given option to segregate the juveniles according to their discretion,” the court said and posted the matter for Feb 5, 2014.

As per the news reports, on Dec 16, a group of minors had escaped from an observation home in Delhi’s Kingsway Camp after an eight hours of rioting, vandalism and arson.

The report added that two groups of juveniles started a fight in the centre in the afternoon. Though the authorities managed to intervene, some of the inmates were injured and had to be taken to a nearby government hospital.

Meanwhile, the juveniles inside the home again created a ruckus and began to fight. They snapped the power supply to the centre and some climbed up the terrace and managed to escape by jumping over the boundary wall of the centre.

The report said that they had set fire to the hall, bashed up the staff with iron rods and attacked them with knives. Most of the staff, fearing for their lives, fled from the home and police had to be called in.


Delhi HC notice on plea seeking free thalassemia treatment


ddThe Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the central and state governments on a plea by a couple seeking the court’s intervention to provide free treatment to their eight-year-old son suffering from thalassemia.

A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan asked the union ministry of health, Delhi government, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and the Indian Red Cross Society to reply by Thursday.

In a letter to the chief justice, which was converted by the court into a PIL, the couple – residents of Pitampura area – said their son has been suffering from thalassemia since the age of six months and his blood transfusion takes place once in a fortnight.

The letter said the parents were told by doctors that “bone marrow transplant is the only permanent cure for such disease” and the treatment was very expensive and beyond their financial capacity.

The father of the boy said in the letter: “I am working with a private limited company and my monthly emoluments do not allow me to make payments towards the procurement of blood on a regular basis and also to take care of the well being of my family.”

Seeking the court’s intervention to get their son’s bone marrow operation done free of cost, the couple said: “The government does not have any specific policy to provide for the blood transfusion requirement to patients of thalassemia.

“Therefore, such children are the sole responsibility of the parents and many children die in the process of their parents’ inability to arrange blood or insufficiency of funds to buy the requisite quantity of blood every fortnight.”

The child, whose blood group is O-negative, is undergoing treatment at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital at present and as his blood group is rare, the family is facing difficulty in getting blood every fortnight, the parents said.

(Source: IANS)

HC orders judicial inquiry into delay in autopsy

ddThe Delhi High Court Wednesday ordered a judicial inquiry into the delay in conducting the post-mortem examination of a prisoner who died of pneumonia while in custody last month.
A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan expressed displeasure over the incident, saying: “You stop giving medicines when people are alive. But at least do your job when they die.” “We direct the District Judge North West to conduct an inquiry…
We will fix the responsibility. Whether the negligence was on the part of police, health department or the judge, we will pass the order,” the bench said. The court order came on a PIL saying that on account of Muharram holidays that week in government offices and hospitals, the post-mortem examination of the body of a prisoner who died Nov 15 was not conducted till Nov 19, and the family did not get the body for four days.
Gaurav, 23, lodged in the city’s Rohini Jail in a murder case, died Nov 15 after he was admitted to the Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in a critical condition. His family alleged that none of them was informed by police or jail authorities about his medical condition.
The plea alleged that the post-mortem examination was not conducted because Muharram was followed by Sunday. Avadh Kaushik, the deceased man’s lawyer, filing the PIL in the high court, sought formulation of certain norms and guidelines in respect of ailing and sick prisoners and regarding immediate post-mortem examination of bodies of patients who expire in hospitals.
It also sought directions to jail authorities to make necessary provisions in the law in respect of providing immediate information to family members and relatives of the prisoners in the event of illness of the prisoner and particularly when he is admitted to hospital.
The family had sought the court’s intervention to probe the circumstances that led to Gaurav’s death in judicial custody and to ascertain whether there were lapses in his treatment. The police had earlier told the bench that it was the metropolitan magistrate who delayed in passing an order on conducting the post-mortem examination of Gaurav, not police.
In its response earlier the government also told the court that post-mortem examinations and medico-legal tests of prisoners who die in judicial custody will be conducted at 13 demarcated government hospitals, on Sundays and holidays too.

(Source: IANS)

HC restrains TRAI from action against TV channels over ads

bbThe Delhi High Court Tuesday restrained the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from taking coercive action against news broadcasters in a case related to advertising cap on TV channels. A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan also directed broadcasters to submit a weekly report to the TRAI on the duration of ads carried on their channels.
opopopopopThe court posted the matter for March 13, 2014. The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), a group of major national news channels that has been protesting the 12-minute advertising limit per programming hour mandated by the TRAI, moved the high court against the decision.
The NBA has as its members 26 leading news and current affairs broadcasting companies, which run 53 news and current affairs channels. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has dismissed petitions filed by the NBA against the TRAI’s 12-minute per hour cap on ads, following an order by the Supreme Court which said the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear any challenge to the regulation framed by the sectoral regulator.
The Supreme Court judgement added that the aggrieved parties could challenge the validity of the TRAI’s regulations in the high court. In August, the TRAI took several broadcasters to the trial court for ignoring the advertising limits notified by the regulatory authority in May 2012.
This led the broadcasters to appeal to TDSAT to question TRAI’s jurisdiction on limiting the ads. Several channel heads have in the past protested the limits set on advertising per programming hour, claiming it would force them out of business.(Source: IANS)

Delhi HC miffed at re-litigation of the same issue

The Delhi High Court has expressed its displeasure over the “unhealthy trend” of litigants who challenge orders that have attained finality by filing fresh petitions through a new set of litigants.


A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan said there was an “increasing tendency” today amongst the litigants to re-litigate the same issue which has already been tried and decided earlier.


If this “unhealthy trend” is not checked at the earliest it will be an abuse of the court process, they said.


“In our opinion, if an issue which has attained finality is sought to be re-litigated, it amounts to an abuse of the process of the court.


“In our view, frivolous or vexatious proceedings also amount to an abuse of the process of the court especially where the proceedings are absolutely groundless – like in the present case,” the bench said in a recent order.


The court’s remark came while hearing a petition of some villagers of Mundka, challenging the order by a single judge who had dismissed their plea of quashing the order of settlement officer (consolidation) dated April 4, 1983, directing shifting of a cremation ground to a new location on the outskirts of the extended Lal Dora.


The single judge had dismissed Dec 3, 2012 the plea of 20 villagers who had moved the court saying shifting the cremation ground would amount to taking away or abridging their fundamental right to freedom of religion.


The single judge had said that the settlement officer’s order, which was based upon the financial commissioner’s order of Oct 8, 1982 has attained finality and needs “no reiteration”.


The division bench hearing the case took note that the Gaon Sabha had also filed a petition challenging the order of the financial commissioner in 1995, and not only this, the petition was dismissed but also an appeal filed against the order of the single judge was dismissed by a division bench of this court in 2001.


The bench was miffed by the act of the petitioners. It observed that on this issue the petitions were already dismissed and now other litigants came with the same issue saying they were not party in the case earlier.


“If this unhealthy trend is not checked at the earliest, we are of the view that tomorrow another set of villagers shall approach this court challenging the previous and today’s decision of the division bench on the ground that they were not parties to either of the two proceedings,” the bench said.


HC orders CBI inquiry against man over PIL

PILTo ascertain whether a city-based businessman has any personal interest in a case, the Delhi High Court has ordered CBI to probe him after he filed a PIL challenging allotment of government land to private people.

A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary inquiry to find out the relationship of Ram Niwas Jain, who filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with the people named as accused in an FIR lodged with the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police concerning alleged fraudulent sale of a piece of land in south Delhi.

The bench also observed that a large number of “private interest litigations are being filed in the guise of public interest litigations”.

The court in an order passed Wednesday said: “Keeping in view the serious allegations that have been made as well as the fact that a large number of private interest litigations are filed in the guise of PILs to settle private lis (dispute), we direct CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry to the limited extent of finding out the relationship of the petitioner with any of the accused in the aforesaid FIR.”

The court’s order came on the PIL filed by Jain, alleging that wrongful allotment of government land is being made by officers of the land and building department of Delhi government and other officers working in the revenue department.

Filing an affidavit, Jain had said he has no personal interest in the outcome of the PIL and that the same has been filed in public interest.

However, an impediment application was filed in the matter by an intervener saying the PIL was an outcome of a personal dispute and intends to mislead the court.

Jain had sought directions to CBI to investigate the role of government officials involved in wrongful and illegal allotment of huge chunks of public land to private persons for monetary benefits by manipulating, forging and tampering with revenue record.

The court also directed CBI to investigate whether the PIL has been filed at the instance of any of the accused in the FIR.


Sexual harassment cases dealt with, AIR to HC

All India Radio (AIR)All India Radio (AIR) Wednesday informed the Delhi High Court that cases of sexual harassment that some radio presenters of FM Gold channel complained of have been dealt with. In an affidavit filed by the Director General (DG) of AIR, it was stated that the complaints have been dealt with as per Vishakha Guidelines, and from time to time, the organisation has been taking steps to ensure that full security is provided to female staff. The division bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana posted the matter for Dec 11, saying it will look into the affidavit before deciding the matter. The bench was hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to “stop the sexual harassment and exploitation” of female radio presenters of the FM Gold Channel of AIR. Social worker Meera Mishra in her PIL said that she came to know of the sexual harassment of employees of the FM channel through media reports. Vanit Sood, director-general of AIR, filing the affidavit, said: “AIR is alive to its responsibility of ensuring that no act of sexual harassment at the work place takes place. From time to time, it has been taking steps to ensure full security is provided to its women staff and that they can work in a safe, congenial and healthy environment.”

It further stated that AIR has also taken steps for streamlining procedures for safety of women, including provision of transport facilities for pick-up and drop from their doorstep at night and early morning. The affidavit also said that the petitioner had alleged that Vishakha Guidelines have not been implemented in AIR. However, they have been already fully implemented. The PIL had sought that Prasar Bharti implement the Vishakha Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, pertaining to sexual harassment at the workplace and sought that the ministry set up a committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Sood also told the court that the organisation has received certain complaints of sexual harassment from radio jokeys against two people. “Complaints of sexual harassment have been inquired into by a duly constituted committee in terms of Vishakha Guidelines, and thereafter, appropriate administrative action has been take,” the reply filed by AIR said. All India Radio Broadcasting Professionals Association (AIRBPA) had alleged that adequate measures to ensure the safety of the women employees on night shifts were not being taken by the department. AIRBPA had earlier filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women that they were facing sexual harassment at AIR FM Gold Radio Station. The AIRBPA alleged bias and unprofessional behaviour of programme executives at the radio station and specifically named the FM Gold director general for attacking the self-respect of women presenters, the plea said. AIRBPA had also alleged that the staff on duty was sometimes “intoxicated and misbehaved” with the women employees, but officials of AIR are not bothered. The complaint said that women were “forced to come to a certain point for the pick-up, and dropped far away from homes at odd hours”. Advocate Sugriv Dubey, filing the plea, had said that though these employees have been working with the channel for more than 15 years, they are sexually harassed and their services sometimes terminated without assigning any reason.