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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MeToo: Instagram account holder seeks time from HC to settle row with Subodh Gupta.

An Instagram account holder, who posted sexual harassment allegations by a woman against artist Subodh Gupta, told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that an amicable settlement of the dispute was being explored and sought a week’s time for it.

In view of the request made, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw listed Gupta’s defamation case against the account holder on February 11.

The court had on the last date of hearing asked the holder of Instagram account, ‘@herdsceneand’, whether she/he wants to represent the anonymous victim in the defamation case field by Gupta.

The victim has yet not been arrayed as a party in the case, while the identity of the person running the Instagram account, which published the allegations in the wake of #MeToo movement, has been kept secret on court’s directions.

The account holder had earlier said that she/he was only a “whistleblower”, a neutral platform which intended to bring out the instances of sexual misconduct and harassment in the art fraternity, as part of the #MeToo movement.

The account holder had also stated that in the absence of an internal committee to deal with such instances, the victims of sexual harassment wrote to it about their personal experiences, knowing that the anonymity would protect them from retaliation in the hands of influential members of the art fraternity.

Gupta had filed a defamation suit against ‘Herdsceneand’ and others last year, following the publication of anonymous sexual harassment allegations against him.

In the written statement filed before the court, ‘Herdsceneand’ has claimed that she/he has been a part of the arts fraternity for over 10 years, both in India and abroad, and “cared deeply about the space of women in this profession”.

Delhi High Court denies anticipatory bail to husband in dowry harassment case.

The Delhi High Court has denied anticipatory bail to a man, accused of harassing his wife, on the ground that he bluffed the court by making wrong allegations that his spouse was not capable of establishing sexual relations.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said in majority of such cases, the court has granted anticipatory and regular bail to the accused persons, but considering the conduct of the husband in this matter, it was inclined not to grant him the relief.

The man had sought anticipatory bail in the case filed by his estranged wife, alleging that she was harassed by him and his parents.

During pendency of the plea, the judge interacted with the estranged couple in his chamber where the man stated that he was in love with the woman for an year before marriage and thereafter they tied the nuptial knot in November 2016.

He claimed that neither before nor after marriage, they had sexual intercourse.

The woman, however, told the court that during their affair and after marriage, they have had sexual relations and she was capable of doing so.

When the court asked the woman whether she was willing to stay with her husband, she had replied in affirmative but the man said he cannot continue the relation as she was not capable of sexual intercourse.

The court directed the medical superintendents of AIIMS and RML Hospital to examine the woman in this regard and as per the medical reports, she was capable of having sexual intercourse.

On receipt of the report, the man agreed to stay with the woman and they lived together for 24 days, the court noted.

“The petitioner (man) is personally present in court today (January 14) and has admitted that during stay of 24 days, they had sexual relations.

“If the petitioner is admitting that they had sexual intercourse during aforesaid period, then this court cannot believe that the petitioner and respondent no.2 (woman) did not have sexual relations at least after marriage. Thus, he has bluffed and misled this court by making wrong allegations against respondent no.2,” the judge said, and declined to grant him anticipatory bail.

The man had sought anticipatory bail claiming that the FIR lodged by the woman was a counter of the divorce petition to pressurise him and his family.

He said his arrest would destroy his social status and he will also lose his job and added that he was ready to join the investigation as and when called by the police.

The woman had claimed that certain disputes arose between them after one year of the marriage and alleged that her in-laws used to make sarcastic remarks about the dowry items given in the marriage.

She alleged the man had insulted and slapped her and she was mentally and physically harassed by him and his parents. An FIR was lodged in the matter in December 2018 for alleged offences under Sections 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 406 (criminal breach of trust).

Shaheen Bagh protests : Police has power to control traffic in such areas.

The Delhi High Court Tuesday said the police has the power to control traffic wherever protests are going on and directed it to look into a plea against restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch which has been closed for a month due to agitations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said however that no direction can be issued by the court on how to handle an agitation or the place of protest and the traffic as it depends on the ground reality and the wisdom of police.

The court asked the police to look into the issue of traffic restrictions while also keeping in mind that law and order is maintained.

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

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

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

The court said: “We hereby direct the concerned respondent authorities (police) to look into the grievances ventilated by the petitioner in this writ petition… about the restrictions on usage of the road which is known as Kalindi Kunj- Shaheen Bagh Stretch, that is, Road No.13 A (between Mathura Road and Kalindi Kunj) as well as Okhla underpass, and will react in accordance with law, rules, regulations and the government policies applicable to the facts of the present case.”

It further said the authorities should keep in mind the “larger public interest” and also the maintenance of “law and order”.

The bench said it ought to be kept in mind that whenever any agitation or protest is going on, situation is like fluid, it keeps on changing looking to the temperament of the protestors and resistances by other people.

“Simultaneously, police has to maintain the law and order. Hence, the respondents have all power, jurisdiction and authority to control the traffic, wherever protests or agitations are going on, in the larger public interest.

“In such a situation, no specific writ, order or direction can be issued by this court as to how to handle the agitation or protest or the place of protest and the traffic. It all depends upon the ground reality and the wisdom of the police, where situation may keep on changing every 10 minutes,” the bench said.

The court refused however to direct the authorities to look into the issue in a time bound manner.

During the hearing, Sahni said the road closure is causing huge inconvenience to lakhs of commuters everyday and they are compelled to take different routes for last one month.

He said children, who take that route, are compelled to leave home two hours prior to school timing.

The petition claimed that the authorities have failed to take appropriate action to give relief to the residents of the locality and lakhs of commuters of Delhi, UP and Haryana.

It said the petitioner has given representation to the authorities on January 3 but no action has been taken till date.

Besides Delhi Police, the plea had made the Centre and the Delhi government as parties, seeking from them requisite assistance to the police in addressing the issue.

Due to the heavy traffic on alternative routes, it takes 15-20 minutes for people to cross just one traffic signal at Ashram, it said.

Citing several news reports, it said that on an average, Ashram Chowk is used by around 30,000 vehicles every day. With the Kalindi Kunj road closure, an additional 1 lakh vehicles are flowing through the intersection.

The high court, on January 10, had refused to entertain an application, in the form of letter, seeking directions for removal of demonstrators protesting the CAA at Shaheen Bagh here in order to clear road blockages that are causing traffic congestions at the DND route.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Nirbhaya case: Death row convict Vinay Kumar Sharma moves curative plea in SC

 In a last ditch effort to escape the noose, Vinay Kumar Sharma, one of the four men sentenced to death in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

A curative petition is the last legal remedy available to a convict.

On Tuesday, a Delhi court issued death warrants against Mukesh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and said they will be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.

In his curative plea, Vinay said his young age has been erroneously rejected as a mitigating circumstance.

“The petitioner’s socio-economic circumstances, number of family dependants including ailing parents, good conduct in jail and probability of reformation have not been adequately considered leading to gross miscarriage of justice,” the plea said.

It said the court’s judgment has relied on factors such as “collective conscience of society” and “public opinion” in deciding the sentence to be imposed on him and others.

“The impugned judgment is bad in law as subsequent judgments of apex court have definitely changed the law on death sentence in India allowing several convicts similarly placed as him to have their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment,” the plea said.

It further said that after pronouncement of the apex court’s judgment in 2017 there have been as many as 17 cases involving rape and murder in which various three-judge benches of the top court have commuted the death sentence.

The 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road.

She died on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

On July 9, 2018 , the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three convicts in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

The top court in its 2017 verdict had upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi High Court and the trial court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

HC junks PIL seeking advance declaration of intention to enter post-poll alliances

The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a PIL seeking directions to the Centre, AAP government and Election Commission (EC) to ensure there are no post-poll alliances by political parties to cobble a majority, as seen in Karnataka and Maharashtra, if such an intention has not been declared prior to the election.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said it was not going to entertain the petition moved by a registered society which had contended that political parties ought to declare beforehand whether they intend to go for post-poll alliances if they do not get an absolute majority.

The petition by Corruption Against Society had referred to the post-poll alliances in Karnataka and Maharashtra, saying a similar outcome was possible in the Delhi legislative assembly polls scheduled early next year.

It had sought directions to the authorities, including the EC, to ensure no post-poll alliances are entered into by political parties if a declaration about such an intention is not made in advance before the election.