Madras HC reserves order on contempt petition by DMK

Madras HC reserves order on contempt petition by DMK
Madras HC reserves order on contempt petition by DMK

The Madras High Court today reserved its order on a contempt plea by the DMK against the Tamil Nadu State Election Commissioner and poll body secretary for not complying with a court order on holding local body polls and excused the officials from personal appearance.

The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, excused SEC M Malik Ferozh Khan and secretary S Rajasekar on an undertaking that they would appear in court whenever required.

Their counsel said there was a doubt whether to follow the census of 1991 or 2011 and when there were two reasonable interpretations, then there was no contempt.

Hence, the government brought out an ordinance, repealing certain provisions of the Acts in force in corporations for the purpose of carrying out delimitation, he said.

Citing the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, the counsel said that by virtue of repealing section 28A, 28AA and 28AAA, section 26 comes into play, as per which delimitation has to be done based on the 2011 census.

He said the delimitation process was being carried out by the Delimitation Commission, headed by the SEC.

Notwithstanding the ordinance, if the court gave a direction to follow the 1991 census, SEC would do so, he said.

Stating that SEC has tendered an unconditional apology, counsel prayed that the court discharge him and requested the court to take a lenient view in the matter.

Senior counsel P Wilson, appearing on behalf of DMK, submitted that if there was confusion, the SEC could have asked the government to issue a notification under section 28 of the Act, dividing the areas.

If the argument was that they could not implement the order because of the ordinance, then the government has to answer why they brought in the Ordinance and did not comply with the court order, he said.

Pointing out that the High Court has said it would not go into delimitation, Wilson sought to know where then was the question of doing delimitation based on 2011 census.

Irrespective of delimitation not being done, the election has to be conducted, he said.

The matter relates to the contempt petition filed by the DMK, represented by its organisation secretary R S Bharathi, seeking to punish the officials for not complying with the orders of the High Court which had earlier directed that the polls be completed by November 17.

In its September 4 order, the court had directed SEC to issue the notification for the polls on September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.

However, citing repeal of certain sections of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994 by the state government through an ordinance on September 3, the SEC had later moved the court, saying there was legal disability in conducting the polls as directed and sought to keep in abeyance the order.

DMK had questioned the urgency to issue the ordinance, and claimed that it showed “sheer abuse of power”.

The local body polls were originally slated to be held in October last year, but were cancelled by Justice N Kirubakaran on a petition by the DMK, seeking among others, appropriate reservation as per latest census and rotation of seats according to the norms.

( Source – PTI )

TN SEC offers unconditional apology in Madras High Court

TN SEC offers unconditional apology in Madras High Court
TN SEC offers unconditional apology in Madras High Court

Tamil Nadu State Election commissioner M Malik Ferozh Khan and its secretary S Rajasekar today tendered an unconditional apology in the Madras High Court on a contempt plea by the DMK over failure by the poll body to conduct the civic elections as directed by the court.

They submitted that preparatory steps have been taken by the State Election Commission (SEC) for conducting the civic polls as directed by the court.

“There is neither wilful nor wanton disobedience” on complying with orders of the court on conducting the local body elections”, they submitted and prayed to close the contempt petition.

When the contempt petition came up for hearing on November 10, first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar adjourned the matter to November 14 which meant the SEC had to appear on that day again.

The matter relates to the contempt petition filed by the DMK, represented by its organisation secretary R S Bharathi, seeking to punish the officials for not complying with the orders of the high court which had earlier directed that the polls be completed by November 17.

The SEC and the secretary had appeared in the court on November 6 and 7 also when their counsel made a plea seeking exemption from their further appearance, which was strongly opposed by the DMK’s senior counsel P Wilson.

The DMK counsel alleged then that the SEC was deliberately postponing the civic polls. The dispensation of the officials’ personal appearance was not a matter of right and they should continue to appear before the court till the disposal of the contempt petition, the counsel said.

Wilson argued that about 1.31 lakh posts in various local bodies, including corporations, and panchayats, to be elected by the people, were lying vacant for more than one year and the court’s order directing the SEC to complete the polls by November 17 was “brazenly defied”.

Quoting the high court contempt rules, the counsel submitted that both the officials should be sent to jail straight away as they “have not only committed contempt so far but also have no intention to obey the court’s order.”

In its September 4 order, the court had directed the SEC to issue the notification for the polls on September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.

However, citing repeal of certain sections of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994 by the state government through an ordinance on September 3, the SEC had later moved the court, saying there was a legal disability in conducting the polls as directed and sought to keep in abeyance the order.

The local body polls were originally slated to be held in October last year, but cancelled by Justice N Kirubakaran on a petition by the DMK seeking among others appropriate reservation as per latest census and rotation of seats according to the norms.

The first bench headed by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee on September 4 directed the SEC to publish election notification for all local bodies before September 18 and to conduct the election by November 17.

As the above order was not complied the original petitioner DMK has filed the contempt petition.

The contempt petition is scheduled to come for hearing tomorrow.

( Source – PTI )

TN SEC appears before HC in contempt plea

TN SEC appears before HC in contempt plea
TN SEC appears before HC in contempt plea

Top officials of the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission today appeared before the Madras High Court in connection with a contempt plea by the opposition DMK against them for not complying with a court order on holding local body elections.

State Election Commissioner M Malik Ferozh Khan and its secretary S Rajasekar appeared before the division bench of justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee.

A L Somayaji, counsel for SEC, sought for dispensation of further appearance of the two officials in the contempt matter, which was objected to by DMK’s counsel P Wilson.

Wilson submitted that the SEC was deliberately postponing the civic polls. The dispensation of their personal appearance was not a matter of right and also not automatic.

Till the disposal of the contempt petition, they should continue to appear before the court, he submitted.

The matter relates to the contempt petition filed by the DMK, represented by its organisation Secretary R S Bharathi, seeking to punish the officials for not complying with the orders of the high court which had earlier directed that the polls be completed by November 17.

In its September 4 order, the court had directed the SEC to issue the notification for the polls on September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.

The bench recorded the submissions and posted the matter to November 10 to decide on the plea to dispense with the personal appearance of the SEC officials.

( Source – PTI )

Special court defers hearing in 2G spectrum scam case

Special court defers hearing in 2G spectrum scam case
Special court defers hearing in 2G spectrum scam case

A special court today deferred hearing in the 2G spectrum scam cases in which former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi are among the accused.

Special Judge O P Saini, who is exclusively dealing with cases arising out of the 2G spectrum scam, also issued production warrants against Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and Bollywood producer Karim Morani, who were absent as they are in judicial custody in other cases.

While Chandra is in Tihar Jail in connection with several cheating cases against his real estate firm Unitech Ltd, Morani is in a Hyderabad jail in a rape case.

The other accused were present in the court.

The court — which has been hearing the three cases, two filed by the CBI and one by the Enforcement Directorate — has fixed November 7 as the next date of hearing when it is likely to decide the date of pronouncing the judgement.

In the first case filed by the CBI, those facing trial include Raja and Kanimozhi as well as former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Chandra and three top executives of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.

The directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar and Karim Morani are also accused in the case.

Besides these 14, three telecom firms — Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd — are facing trial in the case.

In October 2011, the court framed charges against them under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.

In its charge sheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, the CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in the allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.

The court has recorded the statements of 154 CBI witnesses — including Anil Ambani, his wife Tina Ambani and former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia — running into over 4,400 pages.

The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.

In the second CBI case, those facing trial are Essar Group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan and Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf.

Three firms, Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd (ETHL), have also been named in the charge sheet.

The ED had filed a charge sheet in April 2014 against 19 people, including Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani and Sharad Kumar, in connection with a money laundering case relating to the scam.

In its charge sheet, the ED also named DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal as an accused in the case, in which it alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by STPL promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.

The final report named 10 individuals and nine companies as accused in the case. The ED has charge-sheeted them for the offence of money laundering under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

( Source – PTI )

DMK moves HC for contempt against SEC, others

DMK moves HC for contempt against SEC, others
DMK moves HC for contempt against SEC, others

The DMK today moved the Madras High Court seeking contempt proceedings against the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission and state government officials for not complying with the court’s order on holding local body elections.

The DMK, represented by its organisation secretary R S Bharathi, sought contempt action against the officials for not implementing the court’s September 4 order directing the SEC to issue the notification for the polls on September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.

The court gave the order while delivering its judgement on an appeal by the SEC against the order of a single judge directing it to hold the local body polls before December 31, 2016 and connected petitions.

The local body polls were originally slated to be held in October last year, but cancelled by Justice N Kirubakaran on a petition by the DMK seeking among others appropriate reservation as per latest census and rotation of seats according to the norms.

A mention was today made by senior counsel P Wilson for the DMK about the contempt plea before the first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, which accepted to hear it on October 9.

The petitioner also referred to the ordinances issued by the state government on September 3, a day before the court was to deliver its verdict on the matter, repealing certain sections of Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994.

Questioning the urgency to issue the ordinance on a Sunday, the petitioner alleged this “shows sheer abuse of power and to overreach the court proceedings”.

Citing the repeal of the sections, the SEC had moved the court on September 18, saying there was a legal disability in conducting the polls as directed by the court and sought to keep in abeyance the September 4 order.

The acts of the respondents were certainly contemptuous and overreaching the court proceedings particularly when the matters were heard and reserved for orders, he alleged.

He also alleged that State Election Commissioner M Malik Ferozh Khan, a constitutional authority appointed specifically to conduct local body elections, was indulging in all acts for forestalling the same.

His actions and conduct amounted to breach of trust and faith the Constitution had reposed on him, the petitioner alleged.

Stating that authorities were bound by the orders of this court and constitutional mandates and cannot dance to the tunes of the political masters, petitioner sought maximum punishment for the officials.

( Source – PTI )

Madras HC allows Stalin to visit water body in TN CM’s constituency

Madras HC allows Stalin to visit water body in TN CM's constituency
Madras HC allows Stalin to visit water body in TN CM’s constituency

The Madras High Court today allowed DMK Working President M K Stalin to visit a tank in Edappadi taluk in Salem district, falling under Chief Minister K Palaniswami’s constituency, to monitor desilting work claimed to be carried out by DMK cadres.

Justice M Duraiswamy passed the order on a petition by DMK’s legal wing secretary MK Giririjan, claiming that the government was preventing Stalin from visiting water bodies which were being desilted by DMK cadres across the state.

The judge said, Stalin can visit the tank in Kacharayanpalayam after duly informing the Salem district Collector two days in advance.

The collector shall provide necessary police protection during his visit, he added.

The judge also directed Stalin to restrict the number of persons accompanying him to 25 during his visit.

The DMK in its petition wanted the court to restrain the state government from preventing Stalin from visiting any part of Tamil Nadu to inspect water bodies.

The main opposition party filed the petition after Stalin was detained in Coimbatore by police last month en route to Salem to visit the Kacharayanpalayam tank and also to participate in a human chain protest on the issue of all-India medical entrance examination NEET.

The state government had opposed the petition the ground that such a relief may lead to breach of law and order.

( Source – PTI )

Madras HC adjourns hearing on PIL on appointment of vigilance

Madras HC adjourns hearing on PIL on appointment of vigilance
Madras HC adjourns hearing on PIL on appointment of vigilance

The Madras High Court today adjourned to August 18 hearing on a PIL filed by DMK, challenging the appointment of the vigilance commissioner, to enable the Advocate General get instructions on the tenure.

Hearing the plea filed by DMK organising secretary R S Bharathi, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, adjourned the case to that date.

The petitioner sought a direction to quash the appointment of V K Jeyakodi as Vigilance Commissioner and a direction to the Chief Secretary to appoint a person after a fair, reasonable and transparent consultative process.

DMK counsel P Wilson submitted that when the transfer and posting of the Secretary is entirely left to the discretion of the council of ministers and the chief minister, it necessarily follows that officials in sensitive and high level positions would hesitate to act against their political bosses.

He submitted that appointing a secretary who was junior to the chief secretary and other secretaries as State Vigilance Commissioner (SVC) was arbitrary, unreasonable and colourable exercise of power.

He also contended that it was incumbent upon the government to appoint an independent person with an impeccable record while following directions of the Supreme Court.

The petitioner said the directions of the Supreme Court on the appointment, powers and functions of the Central Vigilance Commissioner must be extended to SVC also since the character and functions of the two are identical.

“An integrity institution is an institution created to supervise vigilance administration, which means the said institution is to be headed by a person from either the civil service or all India service and having experience in matters relating to vigilance, policy making and administration including police administration,” the counsel said.

In the present case, the person heading the Vigilance Commission was serving at the pleasure of the Chief Minister and cabinet ministers, the petitioner claimed.

The person would always be a ‘puppet’ in the hands of the political bosses and there cannot be any independent thinking nor would the appointee be allowed to function on his own, the counsel said.

Hence, the very intention of setting up the vigilance administrative machinery is rendered otiose (serving no practical purpose or result) if the person heading it was expected to be subordinate and subservient to ministers and other higher officials, the DMK’s counsel submitted.

( Source – PTI )

Special court reserves verdict in 2G scam case

Special court reserves verdict in 2G scam case
Special court reserves verdict in 2G scam case

A special court today reserved its verdict in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases involving former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others as accused, six years after the CBI filed the first charge sheet.

Special Judge O P Saini, who is exclusively dealing with the cases arising out of the 2G spectrum scam, fixed July 15 for pronouncement of the verdict in the three cases.

The court has been hearing the three cases — two filed by the CBI and the third by the Enforcement Directorate.

The court asked all the parties to file by July 5 any additional documents they wished to.

In the first case filed by CBI, those facing trial, besides Raja and Kanimozhi, are former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra, three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — are facing trial in the case.

Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case.

Besides these 14, three telecom firms — Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd — are also facing trial in the case.

The court had in October 2011 framed charges against them under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating,forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.

In its charge sheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.

The court has recorded the statements of 154 CBI witnesses, including Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani, his wife Tina Ambani and former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, running into over 4,400 pages in the case.

The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.

In the second CBI case, those who face trial are Essar Group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters, Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan and Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf.

Three firms, Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd (ETHL) are also chage sheeted.

The ED, in its case, had filed a charge sheet in April 2014 against 19 people, including Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani and Sharad Kumar in connection with a money laundering case relating to the scam.

In its charge sheet, ED also named DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal as accused in the case in which it alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by STPL promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.

The final report named 10 individuals and nine companies as accused in the case and the ED has chargesheeted them for the offence of money laundering under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

( Source – PTI )

DMK moves Madras High Court challenging trust vote

DMK moves Madras High Court challenging trust vote
DMK moves Madras High Court challenging trust vote

Opposition DMK today moved the Madras High Court seeking to declare Saturday’s vote of confidence in the Tamil Nadu Assembly null and void.

Counsel for DMK, R Shanmugasundaram, a former Rajya Sabha member, also sought an urgent hearing of the petition.

The bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice R Mahadeven posted the petition for hearing tomorrow.

E K Palaniswami had won the trust vote 122-11 in the 234-member assembly aided by the eviction of main opposition DMK and walkout by its allies, amid stormy scenes during which mikes were uprooted, chairs toppled and sheets of papers torn.

The division vote was taken up after two adjournments following tempestuous scenes during which the opposition MLAs insisted on a secret vote, which was rejected by Speaker P Dhanapal.

( Source – PTI )

Stalin moves Madras HC against removal of his PA

Stalin moves Madras HC against removal of his PA
Stalin moves Madras HC against removal of his PA

DMK treasurer and Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly MK Stalin has moved the Madras High Court, challenging the Assembly Secretary’s order, removing a Deputy Secretary-level officer who was appointed as his Special Personal Assistant.

When the petition came up for hearing before Justice R Subbaiah today, Advocate General R Muthukumaraswamy took notice on behalf of the Assembly Secretary.

Stalin submitted that the Leader of Opposition was entitled to have a Personal Assistant, a post created vide a December 12, 1970 Government Order (GO), and extended from time to time.

As per the GO, the appointing authority is the Secretary of the Assembly and the choice of the candidate for the post is made by the Leader of Opposition.

Accordingly, after Stalin became the Leader of Opposition earlier this year, M Athiseshan was appointed as his Special Personal Assistant by upgrading the post vide an order dated August 8.

In the backdrop of the en-masse suspension of DMK MLAs, including himself, on August 22 for a week, the Assembly Secretary repatriated Athiseshan back to his parent department by downgrading the upgraded post.

Stalin’s counsel submitted that the Assembly Secretary’s order was “illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and tainted with mala fide”.

Once the person was selected by the petitioner and appointed by way of deputation as a Special Personal Assistant, the Assembly Secretary had no authority to remove him unilaterally from the post or alter his conditions of service, he contented.

The counsel prayed for quashing of the order of repatriation of the Special Personal Assistant and placing him status quo ante.

( Source – PTI )