Supreme Court sets aside Himachal High Court order denying relief to IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi

The Supreme Court has set aside a high court order that had declined to interfere with a plea made by Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi seeking a stay on a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhary.

An supreme court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra found that the Himachal Pradesh High Court order had not adverted to any aspect nor addressed the submissions of the petitioner and sent the matter back to it for passing a reasoned order.

“On a perusal of the order passed by the high court, we find that the learned judge, except stating that he is not inclined to interfere in the petition seeking quashing of the complaint, has not adverted to any aspect. Be it noted though the submissions has been referred to in the impugned order, the same have not at all been addressed,” the apex court said.

In view of the aforesaid, it is appropriate to set aside the impugned order and remand the matter to the high court for fresh consideration and pass a reasoned order in accordance with law, it said.

Vineet Chawdhary, a 1982-batch IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre and former deputy director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences-Delhi, had filed a complaint against Chaturvedi in April 2016, alleging defamation for making public his vigilance profile.

He had also alleged that Chaturvedi made public a confidential letter written by the latter on August 16, 2014 in his capacity as the chief vigilance officer of AIIMS to the then chief secretary, Himachal Pradesh, giving information about pending corruption/departmental inquiries/proceedings against Chawdhary.

Chawdhary had alleged that this letter was circulated to ‘defame’ him and ‘malign his reputation’.

On Chawdhary’s complaint, a court in Shimla had issued summons to Chaturvedi on November 24, 2016.

Chaturvedi approached the Himachal Pradesh High Court seeking quashing of this order and also the complaint filed against him, and submitting that he has been summoned to face trial without there being any mandatory sanction of prosecution from government nor there being any evidence of his involvement in leaking the confidential letter.

On April 6, the high court refused to interfere with the local court order saying that it was open for the petitioner to approach the court concerned; enter appearance and take all such pleas at an appropriate stage.

“It is not that petitioner is remediless and as such must first take recourse to the remedies in accordance with law,” the order passed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol read.

It was against this order that Chaturvedi had moved the Supreme Court.

In his petition before the Supreme Court, Chaturvedi stated that being the chief vigilance officer of AIIMS, he had investigated instances of corruption allegedly involving Chawdhary, who was then the deputy director at the premier medical institution, and that being a public servant, no criminal proceedings can be initiated against him without prosecution sanction of the government.

In April this year, the Delhi High Court had issued notices to the central government on a petition filed by an NGO alleging illegal closure of cases involving Chawdhary and some other senior officials of AIIMS.

SC sets aside HC order on strictures against judicial officer

 The Supreme Court has set aside an order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court by which action was recommended against a judicial officer for granting bail to an accused within four days of rejection of his pre-arrest bail by a higher court.

The high court had termed the action of the magistrate as “judicial impropriety” and “gross indiscipline” and recommended the chief justice to take appropriate action on the administrative side.

It had set aside the order of magistrate and cancelled the bail plea of an accused, arrested for allegedly giving fake educational degrees to students for money.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the approach of the high court was “erroneous in law” and set aside the order of single judge of the high court.

“Merely, because an application for anticipatory bail preferred by the appellant was rejected, it could not be said that thereafter the magistrate was precluded from even considering the application for grant of regular bail,” the bench said.

The top court said, “The grounds for grant of anticipatory bail are altogether different from that of regular bail.”

“No doubt, anticipatory bail was rejected on August 26, 2016 and within four days thereafter regular bail was granted.

However, the high court could not have cancelled the bail, only on the ground that the anticipatory bail was rejected,” it said.

It said that the high court was also wrong in observing that in the circumstances the only remedy for the accused was to approach the high court alone “as if he was precluded from filing an application for regular bail before the magistrate”.

Advocate D K Thakur, appearing for the Himachal Pradesh government, claimed that the accused had threatened the complainant immediately after coming out on bail.

The top court said it was an event that occurred after the accused came out on bail and could be a ground which could be raised by the complainant before a trial court for cancellation of bail.

An FIR was lodged at Dharamshala police station of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. The accused Chander Kant was charged with the offences of forgery, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and other sections of IPC.

After registration of the FIR and when the probe was pending, the accused had moved high court seeking anticipatory bail, which was dismissed on August 26, 2016.

Thereafter, the accused was arrested and taken into police custody. After his police remand got over, he moved a regular bail application, which the judicial officer allowed and enlarged him on bail on August 30, 2016.

The complainant challenged the order of magistrate granting bail to the accused before the high court, which on June 2, 2017, after seeking explanation, passed various strictures against the judicial officer.

The judicial officer in her explanation to the high court had said there were “direct or indirect directions to grant bail liberally. Taking into consideration that anticipatory bail has been rejected but now as the accused remanded to custody and opportunity was given to police for custodial interrogation and recovery, I considered it to be a changed circumstance”.

However, the single judge in his order said, “To my mind, the action of the magistrate is clearly subversive to judicial discipline and amounts to gross impropriety because so long the order passed by this court was in force, the magistrate could not have entertained the application for bail much less granted the bail.”

The high court said, “Judicial discipline requires decorum known to law which warrants that the appellate directions should be followed in the hierarchical system by the court which exists in this country.”

“It is necessary for each lower tier to accept loyally the decisions of the higher tier. The judicial system only works if someone is allowed to have the last word and if that last word, once spoken, is loyally accepted,” the bench had said.

It had said that once the judgement rendered by the high court was absolutely clear and the bail granted to the accused had been rejected by a detailed order, then judicial comity, discipline, concomitance, pragmatism, poignantly point, per force to observe constitutional propriety and adhere to the decision, so rendered by the high court.

Source : PTI

HC directs CBI to file case against 2 cops, drug peddler

HC directs CBI to file case against 2 cops, drug peddler
HC directs CBI to file case against 2 cops, drug peddler

The Himachal Pradesh High Court observed that there was merit in allegations of a youth from Haryana that he was falsely implicated in a case by two police officials and a drug peddler, and directed the CBI to register a regular case against them.

The CBI had registered a Preliminary Enquiry in October after a complaint was lodged by the victim, Ravi Kumar, and his father.

The PE concluded that the victim was called to Mandi in Himachal Pradesh where he was allegedly detained for 2-3 days by ASI Ram Lal and Constable Pradeep Kumar and implicated in a case under the NDPS Act.

He had alleged that there was a nexus between the police officials and drug smuggler Manjeet, who had called him to the state.

The policemen allegedly kept him under illegal confinement in hotels, a gurdwara and other places for 2-3 days. Later, Manjeet blackmailed the victim’s father to pay Rs 20 lakh but when he refused, Ravi Kumar was booked under the NDPS Act, it alleged.

Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan observed that though earlier inquiries had given a clean chit to police officials, he found it difficult to accept these reports on face value.

He said the reports appeared to be based on conjectures and were perfunctory, without any real attempt to find the truth into the allegations levelled by the father and the son.

Chauhan posted the matter for hearing on December 7.

( Source  – PTI )

Himachal HC gives 2 wks to CBI to complete Kotkhai case probe

Himachal HC gives 2 wks to CBI to complete Kotkhai case probe
Himachal HC gives 2 wks to CBI to complete Kotkhai case probe

The Himachal Pradesh High Court today expressed dissatisfaction over the probe in the Kotkhai rape-murder case and the custodial death of an accused and asked the CBI to complete the investigation within two weeks.

The orders were passed by a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma.

The bench also served notice to members of Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by DGP in individual capacity and impleaded them as respondents in the case and asked them to appear in person in the court tomorrow.

The CBI which submitted the final status report in the case in a sealed envelope had asked for four weeks time and also requested the court not to make the report public as the case was very sensitive.

The court opened the report and perused it and expressed unhappiness over the progress of investigations.

The CBI had filed the first status report on August 2 and sought three months time but the court gave two weeks for filing the final status report.

The case was handed over to the CBI by the high court on 19 July on the state government’s plea amid public outburst against the state police and the CBI filed two FIRs on July 22.

The 16-year-old girl had gone missing after school hours on July 4 from Haliala forest in Kotkhai area of Shimla district.

Her bare body was found in the forest on July 6 and the postmortem report confirmed rape.

The DGP constituted the SIT headed by an officer of IG rank which arrested six persons and one of the accused was killed while in police custody in Kotkhai police station.

This trigerred protests across the state and the government then handed over the case to the CBI.

( Source – PTI )

Why can’t a woman live in peace in this country:SC

Why can't a woman live in peace in this country:SC
Why can’t a woman live in peace in this country:SC

Why can’t women live in peace in this country, a Supreme Court bench, apparently exasperated over growing crimes against women, has observed.

The observation came when a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra was hearing an appeal filed by a man who was sentenced to seven years in jail by the Himachal Pradesh High Court for allegedly teasing and compelling a 16-year-old girl to take the extreme step of committing suicide.

“Why can’t women live in peace in this country,” the apex court said while reserving its verdict on the appeal.

Maintaining that no one can force a woman to love someone as she has her own independent choice, the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, said “a woman has a choice to love or not to love a person. No one can force her to love somebody. There is a concept of love and man has to accept it.”

During the arguments, the counsel, appearing for the man, raised doubts over the girl’s dying declaration, saying that as per the medical report, she was unable to speak or write after being hospitalised.

“The doctors said that she was 80 per cent burnt and it was not possible for her to write dying declaration. She was unable to speak also. Her both hands were burnt. This dying declaration has to go. She was not in a position to say or write anything,” the counsel said.

To this, the bench told the man that as per her dying declaration, “you had created a situation which had compelled her to commit such act.”

The man was initially acquitted by the trial court in July 2010 after which the state had approached the high court.

According to the police, the girl’s father had lodged an alleged kidnapping and rape case against the man in which he was subsequently acquitted.

It had alleged that the accused used to threaten and eve-tease the girl and in July 2008, she set herself ablaze when her parents were not at home. She was taken to a hospital where she died during treatment.

The high court, while convicting the man, had relied on the dying declaration as well as evidence placed before it and had said that the accused had abetted commission of suicide by consistently teasing the deceased.

( Source – PTI )

Imposing only fine on woman convict in serious case unfair: SC

Imposing only fine on woman convict in serious case unfair: SC
Imposing only fine on woman convict in serious case unfair: SC

The Supreme Court has held that imposing only a fine in serious offences, which entail award of jail terms and fine both, on women convicts would lead to “unfair” and “unjust” consequences.

Observing this, the apex court set aside the Himachal Pradesh High Court verdict imposing only a fine on a woman, who was convicted of drugging and taking part in robbing a man, and said leniency cannot be shown beyond what has been allowed in the statutory scheme.

A bench, comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, who wrote separate but concurring verdicts, said the convict was already shown leniency by the trial court on the ground that she has three minor kids. The trial court awarded her a two-year jail term and a fine of Rs 6,000.

The High Court raised this fine to Rs 30,000 and allowed the woman to walk free.

Justice Sikri said “In the present case, two mitigating circumstances which are pressed into service by the respondent (accused) are that she is a woman and she is having three minor children. This has to be balanced with the nature of crime which the respondent has committed.

“As can be seen, these circumstances were taken into consideration by the trial court and on that basis, the trial court took a lenient view by awarding imprisonment for two years in respect of each of the offences under Sections 307, 328 and 392 of the IPC, which were to be run concurrently.

“There was no reason to show any further mercy by the High Court. Further, as found above, removing the element of imprisonment altogether was, in any case, erroneous in law,” the judge said.

Justice Bhushan was harsher in his observations and said, “Appellate Court cannot exercise its power under 386(b)(iii) to alter the sentence of the imprisonment and fine into a sentence of only a fine, which shall be contrary to the statutory scheme.

“In event, such power is conceded to Appellate Authority to alter a sentence of imprisonment and fine with sentence only of a fine, the consequences will be unfair and unjust.”

Justice Sikri, however, said though gender is not a mitigating circumstances in awarding sentence, in Indian context, a woman can be shown leniency in some cases as the impact of jail term on her kids cannot be lost sight of.

“Insofar as Indian judicial mind is concerned, I find that in certain decisions of this Court, gender is taken as the relevant circumstance while fixing the quantum of sentence. I may add that it would depend upon the facts of each case, whether it should be treated as a relevant consideration and no hard and fast rule can be laid down,” he said.

The verdict came on an appeal against the High Court order which modified the trial court order and imposed the fine only on her.

It was alleged that the woman had helped a man rob another of Rs 27,000 by administering drinks laced with sedatives in August 2000 in Himachal Pradesh.

A Chamba trial court had convicted her and awarded two- year jail term, besides fine. Thereafter, she approached the High Court of Himachal Pradesh against the trial court order.

( Source – PTI )

Himachal HC restrains govt from regularising illegal buildings

Himachal HC restrains govt from regularising illegal buildings
Himachal HC restrains govt from regularising illegal buildings

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has restrained the state government from initiating any further action on regularising illegal buildings.

Issuing a notice to the state government, the court stopped it from compounding deviations under the HP Town and Country Planning Regularization Amendment Act.

A division bench comprising Justices Sanjay Karol and Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed the orders yesterday on a petition challenging the Act which provides for regularisation of all illegal constructions on ‘as is, where is’ basis.

The bench restrained the authorities from taking any final decision on the applications submitted for regularizing their buildings.

The Assembly had given a nod to the HP Town and Country Planning (HPTCP Amendment) Bill, 2016 on August 28, 2016 which was brought to give a chance to the public to regularise their buildings.

The Act included the provision to regularise all construction on “as is, where is” basis.

However, no structurally unsafe building would be regularised in the state as per the condition imposed by the Act.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on April 17.

( Source – PTI )

Remove encroachments on roads to Kalka, Dharamshala:HC to govt

Remove encroachments on roads to Kalka, Dharamshala:HC to govt
Remove encroachments on roads to Kalka, Dharamshala:HC to govt

Himachal Pradesh High Court today directed the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and PWD Engineer-in-Chief to provide manpower to the authorities concerned to remove encroachments on the national highways connecting Kalka and Dharamshala to state capital.

The court also directed the Centre and state governments to file fresh status report in the matter and sought the details of the encroachment already removed so far.

The Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, passed the order after it suo motu took up as public interest litigation a news report, in vernacular paper in 2014, on illegal encroachment on the road side on national highways.

The state government had filed status report in the matter, in which, the details of all the encroachers at Barog and all the National Highways was given.

The court listed the matter on September 5 for further hearing.

(Source : PTI)

HC issues contempt notice to HPU officials

HC issues contempt notice to HPU officials
HC issues contempt notice to HPU officials

Himachal Pradesh High Court today issued notices to Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) Vice Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Registrar and Deputy Registrar for “knowingly, deliberately and willfully” violating its earlier orders to regularise the services of three research associates of Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies (IIHS).

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Sandeep Sharma issued notice to HPU Vice Chancellor Professor ADN Bajpai, Pro-Vice Chancellor Rajinder Singh Chauhan, Registrar Pankaj Lalit and Deputy Registrar Susheel Kumar as to why the contempt proceedings should not be initiated against on the contempt petitions filed by Dr Bhawani Singh, Dr Rattan Singh and Dr Sanjiv seeking regularisation of their services.

The bench referred to the violation of court orders of April 2012 in civil writ petitions and similar petition in August 2015.

The petitioners had filed civil writ petitions seeking regularisation of their services as they were appointed as Research Associates with the IIHS, a project undertaken by the HPU under the University Grants Commission (UGC) scheme.

In the petition, the respondent varsity authorities initially took a stand that the services of the petitioners cannot be regularised as they are not the employees of HPU.

However, during the pendency of the petitions, High Court was informed that IIHS would remain as a permanent multi- disciplinary research institute of the HPU.

The High Court on such assurance directed the HPU to consider the petitioners case for continuation of the IIHS as a permanent multi-disciplinary research institute of the HPU and also consider issue of their continuance/ absorption/ regularisation with all consequential benefits.

After its order was not complied with by the varsity, the petitioners filed a contempt petition and taking a lenient view, the HC again directed the University to comply with its order, but in vain.

The petitioners alleged that the University, in order to defeat the right of the petitioners was deliberately not implementing the judgment of High Court.

The high court examined the entire record and observed that vindictive attitude of the respondents (HPU) clearly reflects from the noting given on the file pertaining to the release of revised pay scale with regard to petitioners.

In this, the HPU Registrar stated that “till and so long the contempt petition is not taken, the regularisation/joining of the petitioner will not be notified.”

The Court added that much more is contained in the contempt petition, which is suggestive of defiant and autocrat/dictatorial attitude of the officials of the university therefore it is fit case to issue show cause notice to contemnor officials of University.

(Source : PTI)

HC summons HRTC MD, transport Comm over accidents due to bad

HC summons HRTC MD, transport Comm over accidents due to bad
HC summons HRTC MD, transport Comm over accidents due to bad

Himachal Pradesh High Court today directed the Managing Director of state road transport corporation and transport Commissioner to appear before it in a matter related to bad condition of the roads causing bus accidents in the state.

A Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Sandeep Sharma passed the order on a petition filed by Ajay Siphayia and directed Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) MD to file fresh status report in the matter.

The petitioner prayed that several cases of bus accidents were reported from all over the state and they were no signs of it stopping, also no effective deterrent action appears to have been taken in spite of various statements given by the Transport Ministry.

On previous hearing, the court had directed the respondent to report whether bus-stops have been earmarked enabling the passengers to disembark and embark on or before the next date of hearing.

Today, the petitioners have filed status report regarding traffic congestion along with photographs.

The Advocate General told the court that the concerned authorities have been informed to do the needful and sought three weeks time to file the reply, which was granted by the high court.

HRTC also brought to the courts notice that all its vehicle were being parked in the parking zone but the petitioner said that it was not factually correct.

(Source : PTI)