Delhi High Court dismisses plea to restrain Kejriwal from making full statehood promise for Delhi

The Delhi High Court Wednesday dismissed a PIL seeking to restrain Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from making “false” electoral promise of full statehood for Delhi in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The plea came up before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani which rejected it.

The plea also sought direction to the Election Commission to take appropriate action against Kejriwal and AAP for breach of provision of the Representation of the People Act.

The petition filed by Anil Dutt Sharma said that AAP and Kejriwal have been advertising the promise to get full statehood for Delhi despite knowing that even if they will, they cannot grant it.

“The respondents no. 1 (Kejriwal) and 2 (AAP) do not have powers to make Delhi a complete statehood as they represent and seek to represent on Delhi government while that required to be the ruling party with majority in both the houses of Parliament to grant Delhi full statehood. Admittedly, they are not contesting on sufficient seats to get them desired majority to amend the Constitution,” it said.

On April 25, Kejriwal had said “We will fulfil a 70-year-old demand of the people of Delhi by granting full statehood. Both parties, BJP and Congress, have not fulfilled their promise of giving full statehood to Delhi. If Delhi becomes full statehood, we will not require the Centre’s permission. The Anti-Corruption branch will be handled by the Delhi government again.”

In Delhi, polling will take place on May 12 in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections and the results will be announced on May 23.

Delhi High Court dismisses plea seeking restrictions on media from publishing allegations against CJI

The Delhi High Court Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking to restrain the media from publishing allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by a former Supreme Court employee.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Rajendra Menon dismissed the plea filed by an NGO and said the top court is already seized of the matter and no interference was needed.

“Go to the Supreme Court,” said the bench to NGO Anti Corruption Council of India, which had said publication of allegations against the CJI directly hit the Indian judicial system.

The petition had sought immediate restriction on the media from further telecasting or publishing the allegations till conclusion of the three-judge panel’s inquiry.

The allegations levelled by the former woman employee of the Supreme Court are being inquired into by a three-judge panel of the apex court which held its first proceeding on Friday last.

Besides electronic and print media, the plea had also sought directions for social media platforms.

The petition had arrayed as parties the Ministries of Law and Justice and Information and Broadcasting, the Delhi government, the Press Council of India and the Delhi Police Commissioner.

Directions had been sought for WhatsApp, Google, YouTube and LinkedIn Corporation and news website Scroll.in.

The plea had alleged that it suspects involvement of “anti-national elements” in this act and if publication of these allegations is not restricted, “people will lose faith in the Indian judicial system”, and the “vast damage” caused to the nation and its people would be “irreparable”.

Undertrial prisoners’ letters for speedy trial of their cases turned into PIL by Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court initiated a PIL on Friday on letters sent by undertrials lodged in the jails here seeking a speedy disposal of their cases, which were pending in the lower courts for years.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani issued notice to the Delhi government and sought its response on the plea by August 13.

The court initiated the public interest litigation (PIL) on its own by taking cognisance of five letters sent by seven undertrials facing trial for cases ranging from murder to drug possession and also under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Ujair Ahmed, one of the undertrials who wrote to the court, was arrested in 2013 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for various offences under the UAPA and is lodged in the Rohini jail here for over five years.

However, the case was yet to be put on charge, he has said in his letter, while claiming that he was falsely implicated in it.

Another undertrial, Imran Khan, who is lodged in Tihar Jail here since July 2016, when he was arrested by the NIA for offences under the UAPA, has said in his letter that the chargesheet in his case was filed in July 2016, but since then, there has been no progress.

Shahjahan, Mohammad Sajid and Sattar, lodged in Tihar Jail, are facing a drug possession and trafficking case lodged against them in 2014. They have written in their letter that the matter is pending trial in the lower court, which has till date examined only eight of the 26 witnesses.

They have also sought a speedy trial in their case.

Shahbuddin, an accused in a 2015 murder case and currently lodged in Tihar Jail, has prayed for a speedy trial of his case, in which the lower court has examined only eight of the 20 witnesses till date.

A similar plea has been made by Shankar, accused in a 2014 rape case, who is also lodged in Tihar Jail. He has contended that the trial court has examined only nine of the 17 witnesses in the case till date.

Delhi High Court dismisses National Herald publisher AJL’s plea against eviction order

The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed National Herald publisher AJL’s plea challenging a single judge order to vacate its premises at ITO here.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao rejected the appeal of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) in which it had challenged the Centre’s decision asking it to vacate the ITO premises.

“We have dismissed the appeal,” the bench said.

It also rejected the oral request of AJL’s counsel that they be granted two week’s time to vacate the premises.

AJL had appealed against the single judge’s December 21, 2018 order that directed it to vacate the premises at ITO within two weeks, after which eviction proceedings under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, would be initiated.

The single judge had also said that by transfer of AJL’s 99 per cent shares to Young India (YI), the beneficial interest of AJL’s property worth Rs 413.40 crore stands “clandestinely” transferred to YI.

In its order, the single judge had said that AJL has been “hijacked” by YI, in which the Gandhis are shareholders.

The December order had come on AJL’s plea challenging the Centre’s order to vacate the building.

The Centre had ended its 56-year-old lease and asked AJL to vacate the premises, saying no printing or publishing activity was going on and the building was being used only for commercial purposes.

During the arguments earlier, AJL, represented by senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, had said transfer of the company’s majority shares to YI would not make Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi the owners of the Herald building here.

He also contended that the Centre never raised the issue of lack of printing activity at the Herald building prior to June 2018, by when publishing of some of its online editions had already commenced.

The Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, had argued that the manner the shares were transferred, the court needs to “pierce the corporate veil” of AJL to see who owns the premises — Herald House — leased to it for running a printing press.

The government had contended that the land in question was allocated to AJL on lease for printing press and this “dominant purpose” was stopped several years ago.

The Centre had contended before the court that transfer of 99 per cent stake in AJL to YI, which bought over the Rs 90 crore debt for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh, led to a “virtual” sale of the Herald building at ITO.

The L&DO had ended the lease – entered into with AJL on August 2, 1962 and made perpetual on January 10, 1967 – asking the company to hand over the possession by November 15, 2018.

In its plea, AJL had also said the digital versions of English newspaper National Herald, Hindi’s Navjivan and Urdu’s Qaumi Awaz have commenced from 2016-17.

The weekly newspaper ‘National Herald on Sunday’ resumed on September 24, 2017, and the place of publication was the ITO premises, AJL said, adding the Hindi weekly newspaper Sunday Navjivan was being published since October last year from the same premises.

Remove bunds blocking flow of water into Yamuna: Delhi HC to Haryana

The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked Haryana to remove the bunds that, according to the Delhi government, were blocking flow of clean water into the Yamuna and was leading to an increase in pollution levels in the national capital’s water supply.

The direction by a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao came after the Haryana government stated in an affidavit that it will remove the bunds.

In its affidavit, the Manohar Lal Khattar government has said the bunds were put up in DD-8 canal to ensure that pollution from it does not flow into the Yamuna.

It also denied the Delhi government’s allegations in its recent application, that due to the bunds the water supply of the national capital was getting more polluted.

Haryana in its reply to the application has said that of the 1,000 million gallons per day (MGD) water requirement of the national capital, 500 MGD good quality raw water is supplied by it through canals and 440 MGD is sourced from the Ganga and tubewells.

Only the remaining 60 MGD water which is sourced directly from the Yamuna would contain high levels of ammonia, it has said and added that Delhi was the largest contributor to pollution in the Yamuna.

The Delhi Jal Board (DJB), represented by senior advocate Dayan Krishnan and advocate Sumeet Pushkarna, told the bench that they need to go through the affidavit and sought time to respond to it.

The court, thereafter, gave the DJB time till March 13 to respond to the claims made by Haryana in its affidavit.

Haryana, in its affidavit filed by the principal secretary of its water department, has claimed that the raw water supply from it to Delhi never gets affected or reduced even in the lean season.

It has also said that Delhi should take urgent steps to reduce its losses which are alleged to be 10 per cent during treatment and 30 per cent after that, as residents of Haryana suffer from dearth of water to ensure the national capital does not.

Haryana has contended that some losses during treatment are inevitable, “but losses to the extent as projected by DJB are unpardonable and can even be termed as criminal wastage of precious raw water.”

It has further said that “any deficiency in water supply to the citizens of Delhi is because of mismanagment and inaction on the part of the DJB”.

It has also said that at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, which is downstream of Delhi, the Yamuna water received is of much worse quality and therefore, that state has installed a water treatment plant (WTP) of much higher capacity.

Haryana has stated that the DJB should also consider setting up a WTP of higher capacity.

It has contended that the application filed by the DJB was not maintainable and was liable to be dismissed as Delhi was receiving more than its requirement of water from Haryana and the surplus can be used to dilute the ammonia levels in the Wazirabad reservoir.

The DJB, in its plea, had claimed that if urgent steps are not taken to remove the bunds it would adversely affect the water supply to central Delhi, including the Lutyens zone.

It had claimed that the DD-8 channel which supplies additional water to Yamuna to dilute its pollution levels has been blocked by Haryana and therefore, the water being received at Wazirabad was unusable for treatment as it had high levels of ammonia.

The application had said that water treated at Wazirabad is supplied to Central Delhi where all the major government offices, bungalows and the Supreme Court and the High Court are located.

It also sought directions to Haryana to control the pollutants that it was discharging into the Yamuna.

The DD-8 channel carries clean water from the Delhi Sub Branch Canal (DSBC) and the Munak canal into the Yamuna to ensure the reservoir at Wazirabad is always kept full, the application had said.

The application was moved by the DJB in a PIL by a lawyer, S B Tripathi, seeking sufficient water supply for the national capital.

The high court had earlier asked the Haryana government to ensure that it releases the entire quantity of water required as per the undertaking given by it to the court.

Haryana has to release 719 cusecs of water per day into Munak canal and 330 cusecs per day in DSBC, according to the undertaking and earlier court orders.

SDMC shifting responsibility to trap and translocate monkeys : Delhi High Court

The AAP government told the Delhi High Court Tuesday that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation was shifting the responsibility of trapping and translocating monkeys from the city.

The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) of Delhi government said the civic agency cannot abdicate its responsibility on the pretext of a letter which is not valid in respect of trapping the monkeys from habitation areas.

The CWW’s submission came in an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao which listed the matter for further hearing on March 6.

“The contention of SDMC about the local body being not empowered to catch monkeys is not valid,” said the affidavit, filed through Delhi government additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal.

“By making such application, it is a move by the municipal corporation to shift the responsibility of trapping and translocation of monkeys from the inhabited areas and the civic agency cannot abdicate its responsibility on the pretext of a letter which is not valid in respect of trapping monkeys from habitation areas of Delhi,” it said.

It also stated that the monkeys in the inhabited areas in Delhi are commensal in nature and not those found in the wild and these commensal monkeys have evolved by adapting themselves to live close to human habitations and sustain on food provided by the residents of the nearby areas.

The court was informed that in pursuance to earlier direction, a meeting of all the concerned authorities was held under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary (Urban Development) on January 23.

The Delhi government said officials of all the civic agencies in the national capital had participated in the meeting and action points, which are to be followed, were decided to implement the judgement of the high court in tackling monkey menace here.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Meera Bhatia for directions to the authorities to take steps to deal with the menace of monkeys in the city.

The court had earlier noted that the problem of increasing monkey population was “aggravating with each passing day” and that the increase in simian numbers would not wait for testing of the oral vaccine for sterilising them.

NGO Wildlife SOS had earlier told the court that monkey population is rapidly increasing 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.

The SDMC had earlier told the court that it “lacked the expertise” and was ill-equipped to catch monkeys.

Advocate Gaurang Kanth, appearing for the SDMC, had made the submission while seeking modification of the court’s 2007 direction to it to catch monkeys and relocate them in the Ridge area of the city.

The Delhi government, in the affidavit, added that that it had floated two tenders for catching and sterilising monkeys, but it found no takers.

It said it has been decided in the January meeting that in case the bid fails for the third time, the animal husbandry department may be assigned the job of earmarking at least one animal hospital within each MCDs and New Delhi Municipal Council to start the work of laparoscopic sterilisation of monkeys at least in four such identified hospitals.

The strength of doctors and other supporting staff may be enriched by the fund provided by Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), placed at the disposal of CWW, it said, adding that the animal husbandry department may strengthen infrastructure facilities for smooth process of sterilisation of simians.

The affidavit stated that entire cost of sterilisation and post sterilisation care would be met by the funds give by MoEF and there would not be any burden of Delhi government or civic agencies.

“The job of catching the monkeys, transporting them to animal hospital ear marked for sterilisation and then releasing them back to the same location would be done by the concerned civic agency under the supervision of enforcement committee headed by CWW,” it said.

It said that till the sterilisation process begins, the job of catching monkeys and releasing them in Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary will be continued by the civic agencies as per the high court’s order.

The high court had earlier asked the Delhi government to come out with an alternative plan to reduce the increasing monkey population in the national capital if it was not finding any bidders for its tenders to sterilise the simians.

Prisoners claim not paid for work done for outside agency: HC seeks prison stand

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has sought to know the stand of the Mandoli prison authorities on a letter sent by some inmates lodged there alleging they were not paid wages for work they did for an electronics firm that came to the jail to hire workers.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao asked the Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Gautam Narayan to seek instructions on the issue raised by the inmates and inform the court by the next date of hearing on January 28, 2019.

The court also issued notice to the firm, M/s Lord Krishna, and sought its response to the communication sent by six inmates from Central Jail No.14, Mandoli, Delhi.

The inmates have claimed in their letter to the high court that they were hired by the firm for cutting LED diffusers and housing for wages of 50 paise per piece.

They have alleged in their letter that together they had cut 30,000 pieces for which they were to receive Rs 15,000, but it was not paid to them.

The court on its own took up the communication as a public interest litigation (PIL).

Apart from seeking payment of the wages due to them for the work carried out, the inmates have also urged the court to order lodging of a cheating case against the electronics firm.

No insurance cover to persons suffering from congenital anomalies: High Court

The Delhi High Court has asked the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) to “explain the reasonableness” of not granting insurance cover to people suffering from congenital anomalies.
“What is the objection to giving insurance cover to them (people suffering from congenital anomalies),” a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao asked the IRDAI and sought its response before the next date of hearing on December 17.
“Give the justification for such exclusion,” the court said to the insurance regulator.
The bench also issued notices to the General Insurance Council and the Life Insurance Council, which represent the entities that carry on the business of general and life insurance respectively, and sought their stand on the issue before the next date.
The court was hearing a PIL seeking directions to the Centre, the IRDAI and insurance companies to remove congenital anomalies, like external or internal abnormality in the womb, from the list of general exclusions in the health or life insurance policies.
The petition, by Nipun Malhotra, has challenged the “arbitrary” and “illegal” mechanisms adopted by the IRDAI in denying the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) to seek insurance cover for themselves on the ground that their conditions are categorised under the scope of “congenital anomalies”, as defined under a July 29, 2016 circular by the regulator.
Congenital anomalies are also known as birth defects and could be caused by single gene defects, chromosomal disorders, multifactorial inheritance, environmental teratogens and micronutrient deficiencies.
Malhotra, a disability rights activist who suffers from locomotor disability from birth, has sought a direction to the IRDAI to remove the phrase ‘congenital anomalies’ from the standardised definition of the 2016 circulars.
He has also sought direction to take a relook at the exclusionary clauses in insurance contracts and ensure that insurance companies do not reject claims on the basis of exclusions related to congenital anomalies.
In his petition filed through advocate Jai Dehadrai, he has said the effect of the circular and regulations was that PwDs found it next to impossible to seek insurance cover, when undergoing any health related complications.

4,388 CCTVs installed in Delhi for women safety: Delhi Police to HC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court was told by the police that 4,388 CCTVs have been installed in vulnerable areas of the national capital to ensure safety and security of women. In an affidavit filed by Delhi police in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) moved in March this year by some lawyers for safety of women.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao, was also informed by the capital police  that self-defence training was being imparted to the women to empower them.

Public interest litigation (PIL) moved in March this year for women safety after a few women complained about “urine and semen-filled” balloons allegedly being hurled at them in and around North Campus of Delhi University.

The petitioner lawyers have sought formulation of guidelines to ensure safety of women during occasions such as Holi and New Year.

The cops informed the bench  regarding throwing of a “urine-filled balloon that the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) did not find any trace of semen on the complainant women’s clothes.

One person was arrested in March  in connection with the incident, later he was let off on bail.

HC tells authorities to Explore Possibility of Multi-level Parking at Karol Bagh to Ease Vehicular Congestion

NEW DELHI: A Delhi High Court bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao, asked the local authorities  to explore alternatives like multi-level parking to resolve the problem of vehicular congestion  in the Karol Bagh area.

The bench was hearing a PIL, filed by Neena Narang, a resident of the colony, claiming that due to excessive parking on the roads in Karol Bagh, only a single lane was left for traffic movement. The Bench directed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, which is responsible for Karol Bagh area to take strict action against the violators and also asked the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, to file a report indicating the status of its proposal to build multi-level parking lots at Shastri Park and Rajinder Nagar.

Later an application was moved by some traders’ associations of Karol Bagh claiming traffic congestion in the area due to excessive parking on the roads.