Gauhati High Court asks CBI to probe land grab charge against former DGP

The Gauhati High Court has directed the CBI to probe an alleged case of land grabbing by former Director General of Police of Assam, Khagen Sarmah.

Justice S K Medhi in an order on Thursday observed that the investigation into the matter was conducted in an “unfair, partial and unethical manner by the police” and as such the CBI is ordered to conduct the probe.

The order was given on two writ petitions filed by family members of late Magni Devi Jain.

It was alleged in the petitions that a plot of land owned by Jain was sold in 2009 to Bandana Sarmah, wife of Khagen Sarma by fraudulent means by suspected land mafias.

The petitions also claimed that pressure had been exerted by the police to vacate the property.

The high court directed the government advocates to transfer all required documents and records to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) within 15-days.

The court also directed the CBI to ensure proper investigation into the case as a senior police officer was involved and as such the police did not conduct “proper investigations”.

Gauhati High Court reinstates Nagaon DSP Sabita Das

The Gauhati High Court on Friday set aside the suspension of Nagaon district Deputy Superintendent of Police Sabita Das, as Assam authorities failed to frame charges against her within the stipulated time in an alleged bribery case.

Justice N Kotiswar Singh reinstated the senior police official with her rank and post as the state government did not frame charges against Das within the three-month period.

“The court set aside the suspension order. Her salary and other components will remain as earlier. The detailed judgement is being drafted,” Additional Senior Government Advocate Dipankar Nath told PTI here.

Das had filed a writ petition on October 10 last year, after she was placed under suspension for an alleged bribery case in Nagaon district. She had claimed in the petition that she is a victim of departmental rivalry as she had raised questions over the “nexus of some of the police officials with criminals”.

Iftiquer Rafique, advocate of Das, said the government must serve notice and frame charges of any wrong doing by a public servant, who is facing disciplinary action, within the stipulated time.

“Forget framing of charges, even notice was not served to Das in these months. The government failed to show any step taken in this case. So, the suspension order was set aside by the court,” he added.

Earlier, the court had ordered that Das be paid subsistence allowances, but she claimed she had not received it yet.

The complaint was filed against eight parties and the high court had issued notices to the Assam government, home secretary, home and political secretary, Director General of Police, Additional DGP (Administration), Additional DGP (Law and Order), Nagaon Superintendent of Police and Nagaon Sadar Police Station Officer-in-Charge.

Das claimed in the petition that “she is a victim of departmental rivalry and the whole alleged complaint is an outcome of the intolerant attitude shown by the petitioner towards illegal activities of some of her subordinate officers, who are the blue-eyed boys of some of her superior officers”.

“The petitioner (Das) has every reason to believe that the complaint filed against her and the subsequent departmental inquiry is an outcome of the conspiracy done by some of the officials of her department,” the writ petition stated.

Das charged that the whole procedure of conducting the inquiry against her, based on which the suspension order was issued, was “arbitrary and adopted with malafide intention”, making it liable for setting aside and quashing.

“The petitioner through her inquiry reports… has raised questions over the nexus of some of the police officials with criminals, and also about undisciplined behaviour of some of her subordinate officers, but till date no action has been taken against those police officers,” she alleged.

The controversial incident took place in the midnight of August 31 last year, when Das picked up four youths for allegedly consuming alcohol in a car in Nagaon city, and they could not produce any documents for the vehicle as well as for their identities.

The youths were immediately handed over to the Nagaon Sadar Police Station for further action as per law and were released the next day afternoon, after routine paper work.

However, two days later on September 3, one of the four boys — Sourabh Hazarika — claimed that a home guard had allegedly sought a bribe of Rs 40,000 on behalf of Das and filed a complaint before the DGP.

A departmental inquiry was conducted by Additional DGP (Administration) against Das and the report was submitted on September 7, following which she was placed under suspension on September 17.

Das claimed in the writ petition that she was not even informed about the inquiry and her version was not recorded,

She came to know about it only after receiving the suspension order, the offficial said.

The DSP had even filed a complaint against Hazarika and Khound on September 5, but she claimed that no action has been initiated yet.

Gauhati High Court quashes criminal proceedings against Union minister Gohain in rape case

The Gauhati High Court Monday quashed criminal proceedings against Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain in a rape case.

After hearing the minister’s petition, Justice Suman Shyam set aside the order passed by the Nagaon Chief Judicial Magistrate on November 16 last year taking cognisance of the criminal proceedings.

An FIR had been lodged against the BJP leader alleging rape, and criminal proceedings were initiated against him.

The Union minister moved the high court challenging the criminal proceedings and subsequent passing of the November 16 order of the CJM.

Akhil Gogoi’s detention under NSA illegal: Gauhati HC

Akhil Gogoi's detention under NSA illegal: Gauhati HC
Akhil Gogoi’s detention under NSA illegal: Gauhati HC

The Gauhati High Court today termed as illegal the detention of RTI activist and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi under the National Security Act (NSA).

Justice Achintya Malla Bujar Barua passed the judgment on Gogoi’s detention and that accordingly he was entitled for immediate release if not arrested in any other case.

Gogoi was arrested on September 13 on charges of sedition and 11 days later he was booked under the NSA.

While addressing a rally in Moran town on September 12, Gogoi had allegedly said if Hindu migrants from Bangladesh were forced upon Assam people from the state would be compelled to take up arms. He was arrested the next day.

The detention was challenged before the High Court in a writ petition.

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader has been lodged in Dibrugarh jail since his arrest.

Gogoi has been leading an agitation against the government’s handling of the farming crisis in Assam, the building of dams, land mafia and corruption in public life.

( Source – PTI )

Liezietsu to face trust vote tomorrow, HC dismisses his plea

Liezietsu to face trust vote tomorrow, HC dismisses his plea
Liezietsu to face trust vote tomorrow, HC dismisses his plea

With the Gauhati High Court dismissing his petition today, Nagaland Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu will seek a vote of confidence at a special session of the assembly tomorrow.

Governor P B Acharya directed Speaker Imtiwapang Aier to summon the emergent special session of the assembly at 9.30 am tomorrow for the purpose.

Earlier in the day, the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court dismissed Liezietsu’s writ petition seeking stay on the governor’s directive to him to seek vote of confidence in the assembly by July 15.

The chief minister had filed the petition on July 14 and the court had issued an interim order stalling the governor’s directive till yesterday so that the matter could be taken up for hearing.

After the hearing, the court today dismissed the petition filed by Liezietsu and also vacated its July 14 interim order.

Acharya had on July 11 and July 13 directed Liezietsu, who is facing rebellion by 43 ruling Naga Peoples Front MLAs led by former chief minister T R Zeliang demanding change of leadership in the present house of 59, to seek vote of confidence on or before July 15.

Zeliang, who was forced out of office in February following large scale protests over holding of urban local bodies election with 33 per cent reservation for women, had staked claim to form the government saying he had majority support in the House.

( Source – PTI )

Wetland conservation: HC directs Assam govt to file affidavit

Wetland conservation: HC directs Assam govt to file affidavit
Wetland conservation: HC directs Assam govt to file affidavit

The Gauhati High Court today directed the Assam government and civic authorities here to file affidavits on protection and conservation of wetlands in the city.

A division bench of justices Hrishikesh Roy and Nelson Sailo, after hearing a public interest litigation filed by eminent journalist and author Homen Borgohain and three others, asked the state government, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority to file their affidavits and fixed the next date for hearing on March 23.

The PIL was filed for protection and conservation of wetlands in Guwahati city.

The director of the National River Conservation Department, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change, has filed an affidavit.

The Union Ministry has suggested to the state and Union Territories to accord high priority on their specified recommendations to constitute wetland authority on the integrated management on lakes and wetlands in each state.

After hearing the PIL, the court observed that the Assam government was yet to designate a wetland authority as was suggested by the Centre in November, 2013.

It was also recorded that Deepor Beel was one of the 115 identified wetlands for conservation, under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010, and the central government had released Rs 362 lakh so far to the state government for its upkeep.

The state government, however, is yet to submit utilisation certificate and physical progress report for Rs 50.34 lakh released during the last eight years.

( Source – PTI )

Addl sessions judges to try wildlife offences

Addl sessions judges to try wildlife offences
Addl sessions judges to try wildlife offences

Gauhati High Court has designated senior-most additional sessions judges in ten districts of Assam to preside on fast track courts for disposal of cases under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The HC has designated sessions judges for the courts where there are no additional sessions judge for expeditious disposal of cases under the Act and other cases of forest offences of the Act which are triable by the Court of Sessions, an official release said today.

The ten districts are Golaghat, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Cachar, Darrang and Udalguri and the order will come into force with immediate effect, the release said.

( Source – PTI )

Gauhati HC rescinds order issued post-Sept 22 mob violence

Gauhati HC rescinds order issued post-Sept 22 mob violence
Gauhati HC rescinds order issued post-Sept 22 mob violence

The Gauhati High Court today rescinded its order withdrawing all the judicial officers from south Mizoram’s Lunglei judicial district in the wake of the mob attack on the district court buildings, offices and residential quarters on September 22 last.

The order, issued by the Gauhati High Court Registrar General H K Sarma, said that District and Sessions Judge R Thanga, Additional District and Sessions Judge Helen Dawngliani and Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate First Class R Malsawmdawngliana should resume duty in Lunglei immediately.

The order also said that Senior Civil Judge-cum-Chief Judicial Magistrate of Lawngtlai district Laldinpuia Tlau would also now hold circuit court in Lunglei with immediate effect.

Tlau was instructed on September 22 not to hold circuit court in Lunglei district until further order.

Gauhati High Court Chief Justice Ajit Singh, who arrived in Lunglei last evening to take stock of the situation in the district, today issued a statement saying that he met church and NGO leaders as also the people in this southern town and appreciated their concern for the welfare of the people of Lunglei.

He said that he, therefore, deemed it fit to rescind the high court order issued on September 22 for the larger interest and restore the judicial officers in the district.

Justice Singh expressed the hope that the administration would cooperate to the fullest for the welfare of the people of Lunglei.

The Gauhati High Court had withdrawn all the judges in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district and attached them with the District and Sessions Judge, Aizawl district following mob violence in Lunglei district court premises on September 22.

The order came after an irate mob belonging to Zohnuai locality of Lunglei damaged district court buildings with stones and bricks on that day and also ransacked the official residence of the Civil Judge.

( Source – PTI )

Promotions of SCs, STs be done cadre-wise: Gauhati HC

Promotions of SCs, STs be done cadre-wise: Gauhati HC
Promotions of SCs, STs be done cadre-wise: Gauhati HC

In a landmark judgment, the Gauhati High Court has ruled that people representing SCs and STs would no longer be promoted in the Assam government services just because they belong to the backward classes as promotions should be done cadre-wise maintaining overall efficiency in the administration.

Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, giving the verdict in a writ petition filed by Equality Forum challenging reservation in promotion for STs and SCs in government services in the state, held that “What the one-man commission has done is that it has made a general statement about backwardness of SCs and STs and has not provided quantifiable data either on backwardness or on inadequacy of representation having regard to the promotional posts.”

The one-man commission was appointed by the state government to study the whole process of promotion in the state government services.

The court, however, made it clear that “the factum of SCs and STs being appointed/promoted against open/unreserved post in the state services is also a relevant factor to be considered while ascertaining both backwardness and inadequacy of representation”.

Justice Bhuyan further observed that “whether there is adequate representation or not has to be decided cadre-wise having regard to the service where the cadre is placed. Once it is found that in a particular cadre there is adequate representation of SCs and STs providing for representation to such communities in promotion too such cadre would not be justified.”

The court also held that “the concept of creamy layer is not acceptable to SCs and STs. However, having said that the court is of the considered opinion that the above factor would be relevant only at the time of initial recruitment”.

According to the court, “at the time of promotion, in the event, reservation is sought to be introduced, then an assessment of backwardness of the said communities having regard to their representation in the promotional cadre(s) would have to be carried out”.

The court observed that “the adverse impact on administrative efficiency due to the presence of reserve category candidate in the cadre because of accelerated promotion on account of reservation in promotion due to reservation is required to be assessed by applying objective measurable standard”.

“No doubt, it is a difficult task but nonetheless it has to be carried out if the State desires to provide for reservation in promotion,” the judge said.

( Source – PTI )

Gauhati HC bans bulbul bird fight in Assam’s ancient temple

Gauhati HC bans bulbul bird fight in Assam's ancient temple
Gauhati HC bans bulbul bird fight in Assam’s ancient temple

The Gauhati High Court has banned the traditional bulbul bird fight at the Hayagrib Madhab Mandir, an ancient pilgrim centre at Hajo in Assam.

Vacation bench judge Rumi Kumari Phukan passed the order yesterday after considering various provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.

The judge modified the earlier order passed on December 22 whereby the ban of bulbul fight imposed by Kamrup district administration was kept in abeyance. The application was filed by Animal Welfare Board of India.

The order triggered reactions in Hajo and across the state with the temple priests claiming the bird fight was part of a religious ritual in which obeisance to Lord Vishnu began with it.

The priests were also in dilemma as how to conduct the religious ceremony going on for centuries in view of the court order.

Those training the birds for the traditional ritual claimed there was no cruelty involved as no bird was hurt during the training process.

The birds were kept in open space and not in cages, while the string around their feet was tied loosely so that the bulbuls were in no way injured, they claimed.

( Source – PTI )