The Gujarat High Court today issued notices to the state government and others on a PIL against alleged commercialisation of a Christian cemetery in Valsad.
A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi issued notices to the government, Valsad Collector and First District Church of the Brethren (FDCB).
FDCB was charging money for burial without any authority, the petitioner Dharmesh Thakor said.
Thakor, himself a Christian, said the site was handed over to the community by the district Collector in 1950 to whom it still legally belonged.
Members of the local Christian community managed the site, but FDCB took it over in 2015 and started charging Rs 5,000 for every burial, the PIL said.
FDCB and some others were also alleged to have commercialised the place by allowing advertisement hoardings and a mobile tower to come up, the PIL said, demanding that the burial ground be returned to the locals.
The Gujarat High Court today held that various reserved category candidates availing of age relaxation cannot claim a place in the general category merit list for the government jobs.
The division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi gave this ruling on a plea by the Gujarat Public Service Commission that challenged a single-judge bench order of the court which had allowed inclusion of two backward classes candidates in the general category merit list.
Two Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) candidates Nirav Makwana and Dharmendra Patel had approached the single-judge bench of Justice K M Thaker earlier challenging the GPSC’s merit list for 2014.
They had contended that the GPSC did not consider SEBC candidates in the general category even when their scores in the examination for the posts of assistant conservator of forests and range forest officer were higher than the cut-off point.
The petitioners said they had got more marks than the last candidate in the merit list of general category.
They wanted jobs in the general category so that other SEBC candidates could make it to the merit list of the reserved category, the petitioners said.
The GPSC had countered their arguments before Justice Thaker saying said as per the government’s policy, they can’t claim a place in the open category after availing of the concession in the age limit given to the reserved category candidates.
Justice Thaker had given the decision in 2015 in favour of the petitioners following which the GPSC had moved the division bench in appeal.
The Gujarat High Court today reserved its order on a plea seeking compensation to the Surat hooch tragedy victims after the government refused payout on the ground that consuming liquor is a punishable offence in the dry state.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi reserved the order after hearing submissions made by the two parties.
The government insisted that the question of compensation does not arise because as per the prohibition law, consuming liquor is a punishable act and providing financial help to the victims will tantamount to encouraging the offence.
The government said it has already taken action against those responsible for the tragedy and suspended police personnel for negligence of duty and transferred some other officials. Also, seven accused were arrested.
The petition was filed by one Chagan Mewada, who had sought compensation for those who had died after drinking hooch, saying they were poor people.
As many as 26 people had died after consuming adulterated liquor in September last year in Surat.
The Gujarat High Court has dropped rape charge slapped against a retired police official by his live-in partner.
The court while hearing the matter also expressed concern over “adultery, divorce and remarriage being treated casually” these days.
Justice J B Pardiwala in his judgement on February 27 also observed that “prenuptial contracts” are becoming a popular way to take out economic insurance against a likely future divorce.
A retired police official Bhavjibhai Chavda had moved the court seeking quashing of FIR under sections 376 (rape), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 506(2)(criminal intimidation) of the IPC registered against him by his live-in partner of 16 years.
The court dropped rape charge while allowed continuation of probe in other charges against the accused.
“Many people today consider marriage solely in terms of biology, sociology or culture,” he said.
“One result is that the premarital sex, trial marriage, and cohabitation are a commonplace today. Adultery, divorce, and remarriage are treated casually.
“Prenuptial contracts are becoming a popular way to take out economic insurance against a likely future divorce,” Pardiwala said in his judgement, while partly quashing FIR on offence of rape against him.
The complainant, a mother of two had told the police that she developed friendship with Chavda who promised to buy a house for her and gold jewellery, and transfer a land in the name of his wife in her name if she took divorce.
While she took divorce from her husband to stay with her live-in partner, he eventually refused to marry her and instead forged her signature to sell a property to a third party, she said.
Her counsel while opposing Chavda’s petition had submitted before the court that the police should be allowed to complete investigation in accordance with law to make picture clearer.
Chavda’s lawyer, on the other hand, submitted that even if her allegations are true, none of it constitutes rape, is an abuse of the process of law, and allegations of forgery is also baseless.
The court further observed in his judgement that “If the person is able to prove that a clear actionable wrong is done, claim for damages is maintainable. Merely because the parties had illicit cohabitation would not make the legal and valid cause of action illegal and immoral.
“It is well-settled that breach of promise to marry is actionable and damages and compensation for such breach can be awarded.
The Gujarat High Court today directed the state government to submit its report on police’s investigation after lodging of an FIR against social activist Teesta Setalvad for allegedly posting objectionable pictures of Hindu deities in 2014.
During a brief hearing on Setalvad’s plea to quash that FIR, Justice N V Anjaria sought to know from the state government whether the police have done any investigation in the case after the FIR was lodged.
The high court further asked the government whether it wishes to share that report with the court.
Responding to the court’s query, public prosecutor Mitesh Amin informed the judge that police has done its investigation and the government is willing to share the report with the court.
The high court directed the government to submit the report by March 1, when next hearing would take place.
Ghatlodia police station here is probing the case against Setalvad after the FIR was filed against her in August 2014 by local VHP leader Raju Patel.
Setalvad had allegedly tweeted a photo-shopped picture of an ISIS terrorist having morphed heads of Hindu gods killing an American journalist James Foley, drawing parallel between gods and goddesses and ISIS extremists.
Setalvad had, however, later removed the posts from her Twitter account after people objected to it.
She was charged with Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 153(a) for promoting enmity between two religious groups and section 205(a) for committing a deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting religion or religious beliefs along with sections of IT Act.
The high court had in August 2015 exempted Setalvad from appearing in person before Ghatlodia police station every month while granting her anticipatory bail in connection with the FIR.
The Gujarat High Court has sought response from the Centre and RBI on a PIL challenging the legality of demonetisation and exclusion of district cooperative bank account holders from exchanging or withdrawing currency notes.
A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi sought the response on a PIL moved by farmers’ body Gujarat Khedut Hitrakshak Samiti, and kept the matter for hearing on December 5, together with another PIL on the same issue by Bhavnagar District Cooperative Bank that was heard yesterday by the high court.
The petitioner raised the question on legality of Centre’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, saying it cannot be carried out merely on the basis of a gazette but an Act is required to be passed through Parliament.
Citing the example of demonetisation carried out in 1978, the petitioner said the then Morarji Desai government had issued an ordinance and passed an Act in Parliament to make currency notes of Rs 1000, Rs 5000 and Rs 10,000 illegal.
“According to section 26 (2) of the RBI Act, only a certain series of currency notes of particular denominations can be demonetised, and not entire currency notes,” the petitioner said, adding that the government’s order is illegal and unconstitutional.
The petition also challenged the limitation imposed on bank account holders from limitation on withdrawals, saying that the Centre has no right to pass such an order.
It further said that DCCBs are on par with nationalised or private banks as all these banks registered with the RBI are guided by the same Act.
“All the banks have been registered under the same section of the RBI Act and hence, RBI cannot discriminate among them.
Rights taken away from the DCCBs to allow their account holders from withdrawing or exchanging currency notes are illegal,” the petitioner said.
The Gujarat High Court today acquitted 14 persons out of 31 convicted by a lower court and confirmed life sentence of 17 others, in the 2002 post-Godhra Sardarpura massacre case in which 33 people were burnt alive.
A division bench of Justices Harsha Devani and Biren Vaishnav confirmed the life imprisonment of 17 persons.
However, 14 of the 31 convicted by the lower court were acquitted by the high court due to lack of evidence and contradiction in witnesses account.
In all, 76 accused were arrested in Sardarpur case by police, out of whom two died during pendency of trial, while one was a juvenile.
The court had framed charges against 73 accused in June 2009 and initiated trial in the case.
Besides the conviction of 31, the lower court had acquitted 42 others. The SIT later challenged in high court the acquittal of 31 persons out of these 42.
However, the HC today upheld the Mehsana district court order acquitting 31 out of these 42.
Meanwhile, the 17 were convicted by high court for murder, attempt to murder, rioting and other sections of IPC.
The HC also upheld the decision of lower court to not accept the “conspiracy theory” put up by the prosecution, which had alleged that the attack on minority community was pre-planned and a conspiracy was hatched following the Godhra train burning incident.
Thirty one persons were earlier awarded life sentence along with a fine of Rs 50,000 each in the verdict passed by special SIT court judge S C Srivastava while hearing the matter on November 9, 2011.
As many as 73 people were made accused in the case, in which 33 people of minority community were burnt to death at Sardarpura in Vijapur taluka of Mehsana district on the night of February 28, 2002, to avenge the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 people, mainly karsevaks, were burnt to death on February 27, 2002.
This was one of the nine post-Godhra riot cases probed by Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).
A mob of hundreds of people had surrounded a lane, called ‘Sheikh Vaas’, in Sardarpura on the intervening night of February 28 and March 1, 2002, where minority population of the village used to live.
The people of minority community took shelter in a ‘pucca’ house of one Ibrahim Sheikh. However, the mob torched the house after pouring petrol on it, in which 33 people, including 22 women, were charred to death.
The Gujarat High Court today asked the state government to furnish details of the contractual appointment of two retired police officers who are accused in Ishrat Jahan and other alleged fake encounter cases after a PIL challenged their appointment.
A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi asked government pleader Manisha Luvkumar to seek instructions from the government over the appointments of N K Amin and Tarun Barot, both accused in encounter cases, for a tenure of one year on contractual basis after their retirement.
The court, while hearing the PIL filed by retired IPS officer Rahul Sharma, rejected the petitioner’s request to grant interim stay against their appointments, and kept the matter for further hearing on November 16.
Sharma said in his petition that the two officers have “criminal antecedents, and their appointment to senior positions in the police force is not conducive to general public interest.”
Amin was chargesheeted in two alleged fake encounter cases–one of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kauserbi, and Tulsi Prajapati, and the other of Ishrat Janah, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillay, Amjadali Akabarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar– the petitioner said.
He was arrested in both the cases and served eight years in jail since August 2007, and was discharged in the first case, while the Ishrat Jahan case against him is still pending before the trial court, Sharma said.
After getting bail in August 2015, the state government posted him as SP Mahisagar, and after he superannuated on Aug 31, 2016, he was reappointed on contractual basis as SP of Mahisagar, “against the existing rules,” Sharma said.
Barot, also an accused in two alleged fake encounter cases of Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal, was charge sheeted and arrested in both the cases and released on bail in June 2015, the petitioner said.
He superannuated in 2014 while still in jail, the petitioner said, but the government appointed him on October 13, 2016 as DSP Western Railway, vadodara, for a year on contractual terms.
“The aforesaid contractual appointments of retired police officers with criminal antecedents is not in the interest of a healthy police administration…they are against the provisions of the Gujarat Police Act as also contrary to the directions issued through various circulars of the government of Gujarat,” the petitioner claimed.
The Gujarat High Court today issued notice to the state government, Gujarat Waqf Board and Central Waqf Council on a PIL challenging the state Waqf Board’s move to grant “unauthorised and illegal” sale permit of Waqf properties.
Another related petition also challenged the functioning of the Waqf Board saying the tenure of the members ended on February 21 this year, and sought the court’s direction for the appointment of a new Board.
Both the PILs have been filed by a body called Save Waqf Properties and are being heard by a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi.
Notices in connection with both the PILs were issued to the state government, Gujarat Waqf Board and Central Waqf Board.
In its PIL challenging the “illegal” sale of Waqf properties, the petitioner said that the amended Waqf Act of November 2013, section 51 (1)(A) prohibits “gift, sale, exchange or mortgage” of the Waqf properties after the amended act came into effect.
Waqf Board chairman A I Saiyed himself granted permission for the sale of Waqf properties with CEO Gulam Mustufa Khan raising no objection, it said, adding that the sale was “illegally perpetrated”.
In response to a query by the Central Waqf Council about the same, the Board said it granted permission to sell 26 properties, but this was before the notification came into effect, it said.
“When the petitioner approached the state government in May this year, it said that the sale permission has been stalled, and said action will be taken, but no action has been taken so far to protect illegally sold Waqf properties or to retrieve such properties,” it said.
The petition sought the court’s direction for investigation into illegality by an independent agency, and quashing and setting aside all such permissions.
On the appointment of the Waqf Board, the second petition said the members of the Board “illegally continue to discharge powers, jurisdictions and functions as chairman and members of the board,” despite 5-year-term of the Board ending on February 21 this year.
It sought the court’s order to restrain Chairman and members and constitute and notify a legal and functional board.
PIL has been filed in the Gujarat High Court against developers of the location-based augmented reality game Pokemon Go, alleging it hurts religious sentiments of certain communities by showing eggs in places of worship.
Filed by Alay Anil Dave, the PIL is likely to be heard tomorrow by a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul Pancholi.
As per the plea, among other things, the image of eggs shown in the augmented reality game appear in places of worship of different religious groups.
The petitioner has said eggs are considered as non- vegetarian food, and it is blasphemous to carry non-vegetarian food inside a place of worship of Hindus and Jains.
“People playing the game get their points in the form of eggs which generally appear in the places of worship of different religious groups. To find eggs in temples of Hindus and Jains is blasphemous, and therefore my client has sought ban on the game from the country,” petitioner’s lawyer Nachiket Dave said.
Among other points raised against the game are that it infringes upon the privacy, and it poses threat of life and limbs to the players, who have to walk around to score a point.
San Francisco-based developer of the game, Niantic, Inc., and Central and state governments have been made the respondents.