Depute expert to ascertain if Najafgarh Lake is water body: NGT to Gurgaon Dy Commissioner

The National Green Tribunal has asked the Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner to appoint an expert to ascertain whether Najafgarh Lake is a water body or not.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said in the report filed by Haryana and Delhi governments, there is doubt that it is a private land and not a wetland/lake.

“This assertion is based on the revenue record of the year 2005. As against the said revenue record, there is a 1983 gazette notification showing the area to be a lake,” the bench said.

“To reconcile the situation, it will be appropriate that the earlier revenue records particularly before the settlement are checked. Let the deputy commissioner, Gurgaon, depute an expert of the department to look into the revenue record. Further, an action-taken report be filed before the next date,” it said.

The order came after NGO Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) claimed even though two years have passed since the Haryana government assured the tribunal that it will declare the lake a water body, steps have not been taken to check encroachment and construction.

The NGO sought direction to Delhi and Haryana governments to declare Najafgarh Lake, which is partly in Delhi and partly in Haryana’s Gurgaon, a water body/wetland.

According to the applicant, there is a serious threat to the water body on account of continuous encroachment and construction in the submergence zone.

After claiming there was no natural lake in Najafgarh, the Haryana government had taken a U-turn by telling the NGT it had been accepted as a water body.

INTACH had alleged that large-scale construction done in the floodplain of the Najafgarh nallah and the lake had drained the area.

It claimed that sectors 106, 107 and 108 of Gurgaon were being constructed in the “high flood level” area of the lake, while construction was also on in areas falling in Delhi.

Emission fiasco: NGT slaps Rs 500-crore fine on Volkswagen

The National Green Tribunal Thursday slapped a fine of Rs 500 crore on German auto major Volkswagen for damaging the environment through the use of “cheat device” in its diesel cars in India.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the carmaker to deposit the amount within two months.

The green panel on November 16, 2018 had said use of ‘cheat device’ by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India led to the inference of environmental damage and had directed it to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

It had also constituted a joint team of representatives of the CPCB, Ministry of Heavy Industries, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, which had recommended Rs 171.34-crore fine on Volkswagen as “health damages” for causing air pollution in Delhi due to excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

The tribunal was hearing pleas filed by Ailawadi, a school teacher, and a few others seeking ban on the sale of Volkswagen vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.

The company said it will challenge today’s order before the apex court, reiterating that its cars were compliant with the emission norms as defined in India.

“The Volkswagen Group in India reiterates that all cars from the group are compliant with the emission norms defined in India. The group awaits the copy of the order of the NGT. The Volkswagen Group will challenge the order of the NGT before the Supreme Court,” the automobile company said in a statement.

Green tribunal asks poll panel and government to consider banning campaign material made of plastic

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Election Commission, the Centre and the Central Pollution Control Board to convene a meeting to consider whether to ban the use of campaigning material made of plastic during elections.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the Election Commission, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and CPCB to convene a meeting at the earliest, preferably within one week.

The tribunal passed the directions on a petition seeking a direction to the MoEF&CC and the states to prohibit the use of short-life PVC (polyvinyl chloride), synthetic plastic polymer and chlorinated plastic which includes banners, hoarding, etc for promotion and advertising during the poll campaign.

The petition, moved by W Edwin Wilson through advocate Sanjay Upadhyay, claimed that campaigning material made of plastic are used during election and later discarded as waste, which was detrimental to the environment.

The petition also claimed that a letter was sent to the Secretary, MoEF&CC, seeking directions to all state governments and the Election Commission for imposing complete prohibition of PVC hoarding/ banners/flexes by implementing and complying with the environmental norms, but no response was received.

“In view of the above that while it may not be necessary for the tribunal to go into the merits at this stage, the matter may first be considered in a joint meeting of representatives of Election Commission, MoEF&CC and CPCB at the earliest, preferably within one week, in such manner as may be found viable.

“The CPCB will be the nodal agency for compliance and coordination. A copy of this order be sent to CPCB by e-mail. The application is disposed of,” the bench said.

SC asks AG to assist on poor facilities in jails

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today took note of lack of facilities in jails, leading to delayed trials and prolonged incarceration of under-trial prisoners, in the country and sought assistance of the Attorney General in issuing directions to deal with the situation.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, on its own, initiated the judicial proceedings after taking note of reports on deficiencies at the Faridabad jail in Haryana and expanded the scope of the case to the entire country.
Placing reliance on a report of the District and Sessions judge of Faridabad, the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said there were several infrastructural and operational deficiencies like lack of video conferencing and transportation facilities in prison.

“A report has been submitted by the District and Sessions judge of Faridabad and the judge has mentioned various causes for delayed trials and long incarceration of under trial prisoners in jail,” it said.

“Having perused the report, we are of the view that such a situation cannot be confined to the jail at Faridabad,” the bench said, adding lack of facilities have been posing impediments in speedy trial.
The bench then asked Attorney General K K Venugopal to assist the court in the matter and said that making all the states and union territories (UTs) parties to the case would cause delay in passing directions.
The court appointed advocate Gaurav Aggarwal as an amicus curiae, friend of the court, and asked him to help the Attorney General deal with the case.
The bench considered the note on the prevailing situation at Faridabad jail of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, since retired, who had visited the prison on June 3 this year.

It also considered the orders passed by the Bombay and the Rajsathan High Courts on the lack of facilities in prisons in Maharashtra and Rajashtan before taking cognizance of the matter on its own.

SC seeks reply from UP govt in Convict’s appeal against death penalty

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has sought the Uttar Pradesh government’s response on a plea by a death-row convict challenging the Allahabad High Court’s judgement upholding the capital punishment awarded to him for burning alive his son and two brothers.

A vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the state on the appeal and called for the original records of the case.

The counsel representing convict Irfan requested the apex court to stay the execution of sentence.

“When the appeal is pending before us, nobody is going to be executed,” the bench observed.

“Intimation of this matter be sent to the concerned jail authority,” the bench noted in its order.

Irfan challenged the April 25 verdict of the high court which had upheld the death penalty awarded to him by a trial court in Bijnor district.

Fifty-year-old Irfan was convicted by the trial court for offences under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including murder.

According to the police, Irfan had set the room, in which his son and two brothers were sleeping, on fire by pouring inflammable substance and bolted the door from outside on the intervening night of August 5-6, 2014.

It had said that injured persons — Irshad, Naushad and Islamuddin — were rushed to a hospital in Delhi where they died during the treatment.

The police had also said Islamuddin opposed his father’s second marriage leaving Irfan annoyed.

Irfan had assaulted his son two days prior to the incident and Irshad and Naushad had mediated between them, the police said.

Following the incident, a complaint was lodged by Irfan’s father-in-law.

During the trial, Irfan alleged that he was falsely implicated in the case by some of his relatives so as to deny a share in their ancestral property.

Government not debarred from reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees: Supreme Court

In a major relief to the Centre, the Supreme Court today allowed it to go ahead with reservation in promotion for employees belonging to the SC and ST category in “accordance with law”.

The top court took into account the Centre’s submissions that entire process of promotion has come to a “standstill” due to the orders passed by various high courts and the apex court had also ordered for “status quo” in a similar matter in 2015.

A vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan said that the Centre was not “debarred” from making promotions in accordance with law in the matter.

“It is made clear that the Union of India is not debarred from making promotions in accordance with law, subject to further orders, pending further consideration of the matter,” the bench said.

The government said there were separate verdicts by the high courts of Delhi, Bombay and Punjab and Haryana on the issue of reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees and the apex court had also passed different orders on appeals filed against those judgement.

“We will say you (Centre) can go ahead with promotion in accordance with law,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, representing the Centre.

During the hearing, the ASG cited the case laws on the issue of quota in promotion in government jobs and stated that the apex court’s 2006 judgement in M Nagaraj case would be applicable.

The M Nagaraj verdict had said that creamy layer concept cannot be applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for promotions in government jobs like two earlier verdicts of 1992 Indra Sawhney and others versus Union of India (popularly called Mandal Commission verdict) and 2005 E V Chinnaiah versus State of Andhra Pradesh, which dealt with creamy layer in Other Backward Classes category.

Singh said the petition before the bench was the Centre’s challenge to the Delhi High Court’s August 23 last year verdict quashing government’s order extending reservation in promotion to employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes beyond five years from November 16, 1992.

At the outset, the ASG referred to orders passed by the apex court earlier, including a reference made to a five-judge constitution bench, and contended that one of the orders says there would be “status quo” as far as reservation in promotion to SC/SC employees was concerned.

He referred to a May 17 order passed by a bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph in a similar matter in which it was said that pendency of petition before it shall not stand in the way of the Centre taking steps for the purpose of promotion.

“How the promotion is taking place as of now,” the bench asked.

Responding to the query, the ASG said, “They are not. It is all standstill. This is the problem.”

“I am the government and I want to give promotion as per constitutional mandate,” he told the bench and urged that he was seeking a similar order as passed on May 17.

He said that another bench of the apex court had earlier said that a five-judge constitution bench would examine the issue as to whether the M Nagaraj judgement, which dealt with the issue of application of the ‘creamy layer’ for reservation to SC and ST categories in promotion in government jobs, was required to be re-looked at or not.

He also referred to Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, which enables state to provide for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST which in its opinion were not adequately represented in the services.

“That is the enabling provision,” the bench observed.

It said that according to Article 16 (4A), state would have to make out a case for providing reservation in promotion to SC/ST based on quantifiable data.

The provision also says that the data should be based on factors like backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall efficiency.

The bench has tagged the Centre’s appeal with pending matters.

Earlier on November 15 last year, a three-judge bench of the apex court had agreed to consider whether its 11-year-old judgement in M Nagaraj case was needed to be re-visited.

The top court had referred the matter to a constitution bench while it was hearing a batch of petition which arose from a Bombay High Court verdict quashing two state government notifications terming them as ultra vires to Article 16(4A) of the Constitution.

The Delhi High Court, in its August 23, 2017 verdict, had set aside an August 1997 office memorandum issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on the issue of reservation in promotion to the employees belonging to SC/ST.

The high court had also restrained the Centre from granting reservation in promotion without first collecting the data on inadequate representation.

The nine-judge bench of Supreme Court had, in the Indira Sawhney case in 1992, permitted reservation for the SCs and STs in promotion to continue for a period of five years from November 16, 1992.

Teesta’s fund embezzlement case: SC extends arrest protection

The Supreme Court today extended by four weeks the interim protection from arrest granted to Teesta Setalvad and her husband in a case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots.

A bench comprising Justices A R Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel said the interim protection from arrest will continue till October 15.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the issue on behalf of the couple, saying the interim order was expiring on September 15.

Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand have challenged the order of the Gujarat High Court denying them anticipatory bail in the case.

The High Court order was stayed by the apex court and has been pending to be heard by a three-jteestaudge bench.

The apex court had on April 16 constituted a three-judge bench to hear afresh the anticipatory bail plea of Setalvad and her husband as a two-judge bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Adarsh Kumar Goel on March 19 had referred it to a larger bench and extended its interim order protecting them against arrest till the larger bench takes up the matter.

The couple have denied all charges levelled by the Gujarat Police, which in an affidavit in July had alleged that they had misappropriated funds meant for charity for personal expenses buying items ranging from wine to mobile phone, besides tampering with evidence.

Teesta and her husband, who have been fighting for justice for the victims of the riots, have denied all allegations contending that they have been implicated in the case and were victims of political vendetta.

Source:PTI

Justice Khehar to head the Constitution bench

Justice J S KheharSetting at rest issues, the Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the decks for commencing the hearing on the validity of the new law on appointment of judges with a Constitution Bench rejecting demands for recusal of judges.

“Justice J S Khehar will not recuse himself from hearing,” Justice J Chelameswar said on behalf of the five-judge bench which overruled the objection on Justice Khehar heading the bench. Justice Chelameswar said the reasons for the non-recusal of Justice Khehar will be delivered later.

The bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel, besides Justices Khehar and Chelameswar, said it will commence the hearing on April 27 to examine the validity of the new law–National Judicial Appointments Commission Act–which has been notified. It replaces the two-decade-old collegium system of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. The court issued notices to the Centre, all state governments and union territories asking them to be ready with the matter which “purely involves the questions of law”.

The bench also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to take instruction from competent authority about the judges, particularly about additional judges in high courts whose tenure is coming to an end in the immediate future when the matter will be pending before the court. It said it will hear the matter tomorrow and after knowing the stand of the Centre. It will pass an interim order as this is a matter of concern and their fate cannot be kept in limbo.

Justice Khehar made it clear that the bench headed by him would like to complete the hearing and dispose of the matter in a particular time frame. 14 working days, starting from Monday onwards, would be sufficient to conclude the arguments and if required a day or two will be used during the summer vacation, he said.

A consensus was evolved that the petition filed by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA), in which senior advocate Fali S Nariman is appearing, will be the lead case among the batch of petitions challenging the validity of Constitution (99th amendment) Act 2014 and the NJAC Act, 2014, which pushes out the two-decade old collegium system of appointment of judges by the judges.

 

Asaram doesn’t need any surgery

Self-styled ‘godman’ Asaram, who is in jail since his arrest in August, 2013 in a rape case, does not need any surgery and his aliments can be managed through medicines, a report submitted by a panel of AIIMS doctors to the Supreme Court said today.

A bench of justices T S Thakur and Adarsh Kumar Goel, referring to the findings of the panel, said, “The opinion of half-a-dozen doctors of AIIMS is that at present, any surgical intervention is not required. He can be treated in OPD. Now what remains?”

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Asaram, however, sought some time to go through the report.

The bench then fixed the matter on January 20 for hearing and asked its Registry to supply the copies of the report to the parties, including the accused.

It also asked the counsel for Asaram to ensure that the expenses incurred by the Rajasthan police in getting him examined at AIIMS here are paid.

Earlier, the jailed ‘godman’ was brought to Delhi by the Rajasthan police to undergo various tests at AIIMS to ascertain veracity of his claim that he was unwell and be granted bail on medical ground.

During the previous hearing, the bench had said that there was no medical urgency to grant bail to him and he cannot be given special treatment.

It had refused to pass any order on how 72-year-old Asaram is to be brought from Jodhpur jail to the national capital, saying that it is for the state government to decide on it.

The apex court had on October 15 directed AIIMS Director to set up a medical board to review medical reports and if required clinically examine Asaram to ascertain whether interim bail should be granted to him in the Jodhpur rape case.

Charges have been framed against Asaram for rape, criminal conspiracy and other offences by a Jodhpur court in connection with alleged sexual exploitation of a minor girl in his ashram in Jodhpur.

The District and Sessions Court had retained all the charges slapped by the police, except Section 26 of Juvenile Justice Act related to child labour against Asaram and his aides and co-accused Sanchita Gupta alias Shilpi and Sharad Chandra.

Charges have been framed under sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 354A (sexual harassment), 370(4) (trafficking), 376(2)f (rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509/34 and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of IPC

Police aspirants must have impeccable character& integrity: SC

he Supreme Court has held that a person with criminal antecedents should not be allowed to enter the police force, even if he or she is acquitted or discharged.

A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur said, “Persons who are likely to erode the credibility of the police ought not to enter the police force.”

“Even if he is acquitted or discharged, it cannot be presumed that he was completely exonerated,” the bench said, adding that a person having criminal antecedents will not fit in the category.

“It is clear that a candidate to be recruited to the police service must be worthy of confidence and must be a person of utmost rectitude and must have impeccable character and integrity,” the bench also comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.

The bench allowed the appeal filed by Madhya Pradesh government against High Court’s order asking it to consider the case of one Parvez Khan for appointment in police service within three months on compassionate grounds.

Khan had applied for police job on compassionate grounds following the death of his father Sultan Khan, who served in Madhya Pradesh police.

During police verification it was found that Khan was involved in two criminal cases – one pertaining topolice aspirants assault and criminal intimidation, and the other of house trespass and dacoity.

In the first case Khan was acquitted while in the second case he was discharged on account of compounding of offence.

The apex court held that, “Even after acquittal, basis of order of the court has to be gone into by competent authority. Even after order based on compromise or lack of evidence may render a candidate ineligible.”

Taking into account the report of Superintendent of Police, who held Khan ineligible for appointment in police force, the bench said in the present case ‘Superintendent of Police is the appointing authority’ and there was ‘no material to show that Khan was falsely implicated’.

Setting aside the order of division bench of the High Court, the apex court said, “Refusal by competent authority to recruit the respondent (Khan) on the ground of criminal antecedents is not liable to be interfered with.”