India, Australia can learn from each other

India, Australia can learn from each other
India, Australia can learn from each other

Noting that there are many similarities and differences in legal systems of India and Australia, Justice Michael Kirby, former judge of the High Court of Australia has said that lawyers of both the countries can learn from each other.

Kirby, who launched a book titled ‘Australia and India: A Comparative Overview of the Law and Legal Practice’ edited by Shaun Star, co-founder at Australia India Youth Dialogue, said, “This is an outstanding and timely book. It shines a light on a neglected relationship between judges and lawyers in India and Australia. There are similarities and differences in the legal systems of both the countries.”

“India is a wakening giant. With its strong commitment to constitutionalism, rule of law, parliamentary democracy, independent courts and economic growth, it promises enormous opportunities for Indian and Australian lawyers to get to know one another better. Our links of history, language, sport and friendships herald a new era to which this book will surely contribute,” he said.

At the launch, which was held at the Australian High Commission here, Chris Elstoft, Australian Deputy High Commissioner said, “This book is a timely and useful resource, especially given the fact that the Australia-India bilateral relationship continues to grow from strength to strength.”

Published by Universal Law Publishing, the book is a compilation of essays that cover commonality, convergence and actual potential interaction between India and Australia with forewords written by former Chief Justice of India Justice H L Dattu and the Chief Justice of Australia.

The books has been jointly contributed to by judges, barristers, partners of law firms and academicians, and allows the readers to clearly understand similarities and differences of legal frameworks in the two countries.

“It is my hope that this volume will be a useful resource for businessmen, academics, law students and corporate lawyers interested in India, Australia or the Australia-India relationship as well as those shaping policy in both jurisdictions. Both Australia and India can learn much from each other,” Shaun Star said.

( Source – PTI )

Two PILs in Bombay HC challenge rail fare hike

vvvTwo PILs filed in the Bombay High Court have challenged the steep hike in suburban railway fares announced by the Centre last week.

Former journalist Ketan Tirodkar has filed one petition while Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumers’ organisation, has filed the other.

Tirodkar’s PIL was today mentioned before the division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka which would hear it tomorrow. The other one would be mentioned tomorrow.

Both PILs seek a stay to the suburban fare hike which is expected to come into effect from June 25. The respondents are Union of India (through Principal Secretary, Ministry of Railways) and government of Maharashtra.

Tirodkar contends that local trains are a lifeline of people of Mumbai metropolitan region as over 70 lakh commuters travel by them every day.

According to the new rates, a Rs 85 monthly season ticket (II Class) will now cost Rs 150, while a Rs 190 monthly pass will be priced at Rs 480. The monthly season pass of Rs 795 for the first class will cost Rs 1,930. Likewise, a first class commuter with a monthly pass of Rs 1,740 will now have to shell out Rs 2,120 more for the same journey, it says.

It also points out that between 1996 to 2000, the fares for upper classes were hiked keeping 2nd class fares constant.

The new rates would force commuters either not to travel by train or to travel without tickets, it says.


2 BARC workers move HC to stop Bhabha’s house bid

vvvThe Bombay High Court today declined to stay the auction of the heritage bungalow belonging to the father of India’s atomic energy programme Homi Jehangir Bhabha.

The Court said even if the auction takes place before the next hearing, it can be revoked, if required.

Two employees of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) moved the Bombay High Court seeking to stop the auction of the bungalow.

The sprawling bungalow, Mehrangir, located in posh Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, is slated to go under the hammer on June 18.

The petition was mentioned before the bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sonak which posted the hearing for June 23 but refused to grant a stay on the auction.

The bungalow, having a built-up area of 13,953 square feet lies on a plot measuring 17,150 square feet. It is currently under the custody of National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). A reserve price of Rs 257 crore has been fixed for the auction.

BARC Employees Prakash Worlikar and Ram Dhuri, who are members of the National Federation of Atomic Energy Employees (NFAEE), have sought court’s direction to NCPA to stop the auction.

The petitioners also pleaded that the bungalow should be kept in tact by the state or the central government and house a nuclear exhibition centre or museum.

Worlikar pleaded “the government has preserved houses of national leaders like Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi. Similarly, Dr Homi Bhabha was the father of atomic energy and an asset of the nation. His house is great inspiration to the employees of BARC and we look forward to it being preserved or converted into a national museum,” he said.

The employees have even approached Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata group, to save the landmark three-storey bungalow from going under the hammer.

They have also started an online campaign to garner public support and prevent the auction.





Judges seek creation of All India Judicial Services

All India Judicial ServicesThe All India Judges Association today passed a resolution seeking creation of an all-India judicial services (AIJS) to reduce discrepancies in subordinate judiciary.

The meeting of executive body of the Association, which has nearly 15,000 judges from subordinate judiciary as members, was held at Gujarat Bhawan, where 16 resolutions were unanimously passed.

“In order to maintain the dignity and reduce discrepancies in trial judiciary, AIJS needs to be created, which is very much under the provisions of Constitution,” said Association’s president Justice Rajendra Prasad, a former Patna High Court judge.

“Association has passed the resolution to take steps for creation of AIJS, in the interest of the will of the people and under the provisions laid down in the constitution,” said Justice Prasad.

A resolution seeking filling up 50 per cent vacancies of High Court judges by elevation of members of district judiciary and 50 per cent from Bar was also passed by the association.

Another resolution advocated establishment of second National Judicial Pay Commission to resolve the discrepancies in pay scales, increments and judicial allowances for officers.

The Association also demanded that vacant posts in different cadres of district courts be filled for speedy justice and discrepancies in promotion and seniority be resolved.

Other resolutions passed include judicial officers who had completed seven years of practise as an advocate before joining the judicial services should also be considered for direct recruitment for higher judicial services and uniform recruitment rules for higher judicial services for entire country should be formulated.

“Adequate infrastructure to all the courts of subordinate judiciary should be provided to dispose of huge pendency of cases. Resolutions have been passed by the association without any expectation but to bring the issues to the notice of those who matters,” said Justice Prasad.

(Source: PTI)

HC restrains Centre from encashing bank guarantee

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court today stayed the Centre’s move to invoke the bank guarantee furnished by private firm Bhushan Steel Ltd in relation to de-allocation of a coal block in Chhattishgarh.

“The Union of India is restrained from invoking the bank guarantee till further orders. The petitioner (firm) is directed to keep alive the bank guarantee till further order of this court,” a bench of Justice Manmohan said.

Earlier, the court had said that prior to invocation of the bank guarantee, the Centre “shall give ten days prior written notice to the petitioner (private firm)”.

It had also granted the liberty to the firm to approach the court on receipt of a letter invoking the bank guarantee.

The private steel major today moved the court and said a letter, written on May 8, has been received and it said that the Centre proposes to encash the bank guarantee.

The firm has also alleged “the inter-ministerial group is not the competent authority to recommend invocation of bank guarantee as in the case of coal blocks, the Coal Controller is the only competent authority to invoke the bank guarantee.”

The Centre, however, has submitted, invocation of bank guarantees is “legal and proper as neither fraud nor irretrievable injustice has been pleaded in the petition.”

Earlier, the court had said that before the allocation of the coal block in favour of Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC), the private firm had entered into an agreement with CMDC.

“CMDC, in turn, had disclosed the said agreement to the central government and the central government had noted the said agreement while allocating the coal block. The documents on record also prima facie show that the bank guarantee has been furnished at the instance of the petitioner (Bhushan Steel),” the court had said.

“Prima facie, this court is of the opinion that the petitioner has a direct and substantial interest in the invocation of the bank guarantee…,” it had said.


CIC imposes Rs 25K fine on Delhi’s Bar Council secretary

Delhi's Bar CouncilTaking exception to non compliance of its order to appear before it and failure to provide information under RTI Act, the central information commission has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Delhi’s Bar Council secretary.

Expressing “shock” for non-implementation of the transparency law at Bar Council of Delhi, Chief Information Commissioner Sushma Singh asked the Bar Council of India to look into the matter and submit a report to the commission within one month.

The commission directed the chairman, Bar Council of Delhi to recover the penalty amount Rs 25,000 in five equal monthly instalments from Murari Tiwari, secretary Bar Council of Delhi.

“The amount of Rs 5000 per month may be deducted from the salary of Murari Tiwari and remit the same to the commission by demand draft,” said the commissioner in her order.

The commissioner added that Tiwari is fully responsible for not furnishing information regarding number of cases filed and disposed for professional misconduct against advocates in past 10 years as sought by a RTI applicant Arun Kumar Agarwal, who later filed a complaint before CIC.

Imposing penalty on Tiwari, CIC said that the Secretary failed to respond to its repetitive summon orders and for causing delay and obstruction for more than 10 months, without any reasonable cause.

The commission also took strong exception over the appointment of CPIO at Bar Council of Delhi saying that the CPIO appointed is not an officer but a supervisor, who is not competent to take independent decisions while dealing with RTI applications.

“It is sheer disobedience and disrespect of the statute by this public authority,” CIC said in its order.

It asked the chairman, Bar Council of Delhi to reconsider the appointment of CPIO in line with other such councils including Bar Council of India.

(Source: PTI)

India, Saudi Arabia discuss standard employment contract

bbIndian and Saudi Arabian officials discussed points of standard employment contract for Indian workers in the Saudi kingdom, media reported Friday.

The first meeting of the Saudi-Indian Joint Committee on labour issues concluded Thursday, the day celebrated as International Labour Day.

The meeting was a follow-up to an agreement that was recently signed for the recruitment of domestic workers between this Gulf nation and India.

The agreement was signed by Saudi Labour Minister Adel Fakeih and India’s Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi.

The Indian side for the joint committee meeting included R. Buhril, protector-general of emigrants, and Iqbal Singh Bains, joint secretary of the emigration policy in the overseas Indian affairs ministry.

The Saudi representatives were led by Ahmed Al-Fahaid, deputy labour minister for international affairs.

According to the members of the Indian delegation, both sides expressed satisfaction at the growing rate of cooperation between the two countries in multiple sectors, including labour, but no further details were given.

“Both sides discussed the provisions to be included in the text of standard employment contracts for Indian workers being recruited by the Kingdom,” the Arab News quoted an Indian delegate as saying.

Welfare of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia also came up for discussion.

“Action will certainly be taken against recruitment agencies who are found guilty of violating labour agreements,” an Indian delegate said.

The Indian side said that the phenomenon of unlicensed recruitment agencies and bogus recruitment schemes was being tackled.

“This is the first time that India has entered into an official agreement on labour cooperation,” another Indian delegate said.

“This is also the first step toward a comprehensive agreement on labour cooperation covering the entire spectrum of Indian workers in the Kingdom. We will implement such a scheme with other countries once we ensure that this accord has been successful.”

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.8 million expatriate Indians, many of whom are blue-collar workers.

(Source: IANS)

Indian doctors face manslaughter charge in Bahrain

bbTwo senior Indian doctors have appeared in a court in Bahrain in connection with the alleged manslaughter of a teenaged boy during a routine stomach operation.

Ali Sadiq Al Rahma, 16, was operated upon in an eight-hour emergency surgery in a private hospital in Bahrain’s Northern Governorate after he complained of “stomach ache” in February 2012.

The prosecution said the boy died following a botched-up operation by the two unnamed Indian doctors – an anaesthetist and a surgeon – who continued with the surgery despite the teenager suffering from side effects of the anaesthetics, the Gulf Daily News reported Tuesday.

A panel of medical experts, who examined the teenager’s post-mortem report, told prosecutors that both the defendants committed medical negligence which led to the boy’s death.

Both medics, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge before the lower criminal court in Bahrain Monday and requested the court to summon a medical panel for cross-examination.

The judge accepted the request and adjourned the trial until Sep 24.

The prosecution also claimed that the anaesthetist failed to follow proper medical procedures when administering the drug.

The victim’s father, in his statement, said: “I heard from other doctors that my son’s heart stopped beating after suffering from severe fever during the surgery, but the surgeon continued the operation.”

“His mother and I broke down in tears and were in shock because he did not suffer from a serious illness and had undergone a normal operation,” he added.

(Source: IANS)

Indian detainees in US end hunger strike

aaMore than 40 immigrants from India at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Texas have ended their hunger strike after a week of protesting their detention while seeking political asylum.

Immigration and customs enforcement officials at El Paso Processing Centre in Texas confirmed that all the protestors were eating their food as of Wednesday afternoon, local El Paso Times reported.

Medical staff at the centre medically cleared all of the Indian immigrants who were fasting until the last day of the protest. None of them had to be hospitalised, the daily said citing officials.

But North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) officials in California said that at least one protestor was reportedly taken to a hospital outside the ICE processing centre.

On April 8, 43 men began refusing to eat their food. As the days went by, the number of fasters started dropping, the newspaper said.

NAPA officials said the hunger strike was to protest the Indian immigrants’ “illegal” and “prolonged” detention at the centre.

Most of the protestors had entered the US last June and July through the Columbus, New Mexico port of entry, where they were detained and transferred to the centre in El Paso.

According to NAPA, the vast majority of them are from the Doaba region of Punjab, and a few from Malwa and Haryana in northern India.

El Paso Times said Dallas-based attorney John Lawit, who represents some of the men, had told it in a previous interview that the men, between the ages of 22 and 27, were active in a Sikh minority political party in India and were targeted for violent attacks.

Reports of violence to local police led to threats of arrest.
All the men had submitted documentation of relatives living in the US who are either citizens or permanent residents, according to the newspaper.

The daily cited ICE officials as saying that the Indian immigrants who went on hunger strike are still at the centre pending a court date with an immigration judge, who will decide if they can remain in the US.

NAPA executive director Satnam Singh Chahal said the association will fight for all of them to stay in the country.

The Sikh Coalition has joined hands with us and we are trying our best to get parole for all the detainees, he said in a statement.

(Source: IANS)

Devyani Khobragade re-indicted in US visa fraud case

DevyaniTwo days after a New York judge dismissed the visa fraud case against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, a US grand jury on Friday again indicted her and accused her of “illegally” underpaying and “exploiting” her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard.

An arrest warrant has been issued against Khobragade as US prosecutors re-indicted her.

“A grand jury has returned a true bill today on a two-count criminal indictment of Devyani Khobragade, said the office of US prosecutor Preet Bharara in an announcement on Friday.

In a letter to United States District Judge William Pauley, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara informed that Khobragade is “believed” to be in India and the court will be alerted if and when she is arrested, reports PTI.

“An arrest warrant was also issued today. The Government will alert the Court immediately upon the defendant’s arrest so that an appearance before Your Honor may be scheduled. At present, the defendant is believed to be in India,” Bharara said in the letter.

He said the indictment alleges that Khobragade made false statements to US authorities “to facilitate her exploitative employment of a household employee who was grossly underpaid and overworked.”

Bharara said Khobragade is unavailable because her “whereabouts are known but (her) presence for trial cannot be obtained by due diligence or (she) resists appearing at or being returned for trial.”

The new charges accused Khobragade of visa fraud and making false statements about the visa application of her maid Sangeeta Richard.

The 21-page indictment, filed by the office of India-born Bharara, states that the diplomat “knowingly made” multiple false representations and presented false information to US authorities in order to obtain a visa for a personal domestic worker. The fresh indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan also charges that Khobragade submitted to the US State Department an employment contract of her domestic worker which she knew contained “materially false and fraudulent statements.”

The indictment said that “Khobragade did not want to pay the victim the required wages under US law or provide the victim with other protections against exploitative work conditions mandated by US law”.

“Knowing that if the US authorities were told the truth about the actual terms of her employment agreement with the victim, Khobragade would not have been able to obtain a visa for the victim, Khobragade decided to make false statements to the US authorities,” it said.

Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges and for making false statements regarding the visa application of Richard.

She was strip-searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

The diplomat, who was transferred back to India and is now with the Ministry of External Affairs, has refuted the charges against her.

The re-indictment comes a day after 39-year-old Khobragade got relief from District Judge Shira Scheindl who said in her order “it is undisputed” that she acquired full diplomatic immunity at 5:47 pm on January 8 after the US State Department approved her accreditation as a counsellor to India’s mission to the UN.

The ruling had, however, left open the possibility that US prosecutors could bring a new indictment against Khobragade which was swiftly carried out today.

(Source: IANS)