NHAI, Gurgaon expressway operator settle dispute

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that it would withdraw a termination order issued to the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway’s concessionaire as they had sorted out their differences.

 The termination order was issued in February to the concessionaire for its failure to improve services at the 32-lane toll plaza of the expressway.

Justice S. Muralidhar said: “A memorandum of understanding (MoU) as agreed to by the NHAI, Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity (concessionaire) and Infrastructure Development Finance Company Ltd. (IDFC) and other plaintiffs (collectively referred as lenders) has been signed today.”

“With the signing of the MoU, it is understood by the parties that the termination notice dated Dec 7, 2011, and the subsequent termination order dated Feb 18 issued by the NHAI to the concessionaire stands withdrawn,” the court said.

The court earlier granted time to the NHAI and the DGSCL, operator of the expressway, to settle their differences and consider an out-of-court settlement.

The DGSCL approached the court after the NHAI issued a preliminary termination notice to it Dec 7 last year and a termination order Feb 18.

Disposing of the petition, the court said: “The parties will act in terms of the MoU and will be bound by the terms of the MoU and will perform their obligations mentioned thereunder.”

The NHAI earlier told the court that its board, having members from different central ministries, finalised the draft MoU and it was given to DGSCL.

Senior counsel for DGSCL Neeraj Kishan Kaul said that in response to the board’s terms and conditions the company had given five suggestions to the NHAI chairman.

DGSCL files contempt petition against NHAI

The Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL) Tuesday filed a contempt petition in the Delhi High Court, saying that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has refused to revise toll charges on the expressway on the ground that the contract had been terminated despite the court’s stay.

The court had earlier granted a stay on NHAI’s decision to terminate DGSCL’s contract to operate the expressway between the capital and the Haryana city.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for DGSCL, argued that the authority has not yet decided to hike the toll charges on the expressway, which has to be revised annually.

“Despite the stay order on NHAI decision to terminate contract with DGSCL, the highway authority has not taken a decision to revise the toll charges,” he said

Kaul said the DGSCL has sent the proposal to revise the user fee for each category of vehicle for the next financial year but NHAI said it would not take any decision as the contract has been terminated with the private developer.

“The NHAI’s termination order has been stayed by the court, it is their contractual obligation to revise the charges periodically and every year it comes in effect from April 1,” he argued.

Justice S. Muralidhar posted the matter for April 12 for further hearing.

On the court’s earlier direction asking NHAI to file its reply on the issue, the highway authority in its reply alleged that the Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) loaned public funds for private purpose in the garb of re-financing.

In its reply, the NHAI also said that the bank has no locus in opposing NHAI’s decision to scrap the expressway deal with the private concessionaire.

“Both the bank and DGSCL have indulged in fraud of the concession agreement”, said NHAI in the reply.

It claimed that the suit filed by IDFC, seeking to be heard as a party in the dispute between NHAI and the developer, is a collusive suit as the loan was approved behind the back of NHAI.

The IDBI bank had moved the court, stating that the termination of the contract to operate the toll plaza with DGSCL will cause a huge financial loss to it. The bank had provided credit facility to the tune of Rs.1,597 crore to DGSCL for its 28-km road project.

IDFC has contended that NHAI violated the tripartite agreement it had signed with the DGSCL and the government.

The court was hearing the plea filed by the DGSCL seeking direction to restrain the NHAI from taking any coercive action against it.

Relations between the two parties turned sour after the NHAI accused DGSCL of fraud in the form of re-financing the project without getting its approval.

The highways authority, while ordering termination of its deal with the private firm, had accused it of failure to improve services at the 32-lane toll plaza.

The DGSCL had approached the court after the NHAI had issued a preliminary termination notice to it on Dec 7 last year.

 

 

Court restrains NHAI on contract termination

The Delhi High Court Thursday extended the stay on the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) decision to terminate the Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd’s (DGSCL) contract to operate the expressway between the capital and the Haryana city.

A bench of Justice S. Muralidhar said that the court’s earlier order, restraining the NHAI from taking further action against DGSCL will remain till March 27.

The order of the court came on the plea of DGSCL seeking direction to restrain the highways authority from taking any coercive action against it.

The relation between the two parties turned sour after the NHAI accused DGSCL of fraud in the form of refinancing the project without getting its approval.

The highways authority, while ordering termination of its deal with the private firm, had accused it of failure to improve services at the 32-lane toll plaza.

The DGSCL had approached the Delhi High Court after the NHAI had issued a preliminary termination notice to it on Dec 7 last year.

Meanwhile, seeking stay on the termination notice, the Infrastructure Development Finance Company Bank, has moved the Delhi High Court, stating that the termination of the contract to operate the toll plaza with DGSCL will cause a huge financial loss to it.

The bank had provided credit facility to the tune of Rs.1,597 crore to DGSCL for its 28-km road project.

IDFC has contended that NHAI violated the tripartite agreement it had signed with the DGSCL and the government.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing March 27.

 

 

Court relief for Matrix Cellular

The Delhi High Court has directed telecom major Vodafone to restore services of international SIM card provider Matrix Cellular’s cell phone through which it provided services to 65,000 post-paid subscribers of Vodafone.

The interim relief to Matrix was given by Justice S. Muralidhar who ordered ensuring that a mutual agreement between Matrix Cellular and Vodafone remained in force for the next two months.

“Vodafone will forthwith restore services to mobile number 9811188888, which is in the name of Matrix, and make the same operational as it was on Oct 13,” the court said in its recent order.

Matrix Cellular offers telecom solutions to Indians visiting abroad, offers international SIM cards, international 3G data cards, student mobile services and wireless communication services.

It approached the court alleging that Vodafone Oct 14 terminated the agreement, entered between the two firms July 10, 2003, by serving a notice.

“The notice we received states that the agreement would stand terminated two months thereafter, which is illegal,” said Matrix Cellular in its plea.

The court said “the termination notice would be operative after” two months.

“Soon after the receipt of the said letter (termination notice) dated Oct 14, 2011, Matrix found that service calls being made to mobile number 9811188888, belonging to Matrix, by the consolidated post-paid subscribers were getting diverted to and being answered by Vodafone,” said the petition.

The court in its order gave a clarification that the number of hunting lines in relation to Matrix’s mobile number 9811188888 would be limited to 20.

“The representatives of Vodafone can remain present in the office of Matrix to monitor the calls on 9811188888,” said Justice Muralidhar.

Matrix Cellular gave an undertaking that it would abide by law and the terms of the agreement including access to the data base of Vodafone only in respect of 65,000 consolidated post-paid subscribers.

“Vodafone and Matrix will, within a week from Oct 20, address a joint communication to each of the 65,000 consolidated post-paid subscribers apprising them of the letter dated Oct 14, 2011 and the fact that the agreement dated July 10, 2003 between them will stand terminated on the expiry of two months from Oct 14,” the court said.

Court issues notice to Amod Kanth in 1984 medal case

The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to former police officer Amod Kanth and one of his colleagues on an appeal against the dismissal of a plea for stripping him of the police medal awarded for maintaining law and order during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots here.

 

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to Kanth and the then station house officer S.S. Manan of Paharganj police station seeking their reply by Dec 13.

 

Petitioners Amrik Singh Lovely and Trilok Singh moved the appeal after a single judge bench had rejected their plea April 7. They alleged that former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kanth and Manan were wrongly awarded the president’s police medals for gallantry.

 

The duo had implicated the Sikh community’s members during the riots which followed the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards Oct 31, 1984, the petitioners alleged.

 

The petition, seeking a direction to the union home ministry to withdraw the police medal for gallantry conferred on Kanth and Manan by a presidential notification on June 7, 1985, was dismissed by Justice S. Muralidhar.

 

Though the judge noted that the 1984 riots in Delhi have ‘left deep scars on the collective memory of the nation, and especially of the Sikh community’ and that the ‘role of the State machinery has come under critical scrutiny’, he said there was little scope for judicial review in the case.

‘It is arguable that in the context of a tragedy of such proportions, the state ought to display sensitivity to the feelings of the victim community and be circumspect in hastening to award gallantry medals to the officials of the law enforcement machinery soon after the events. Yet, the scope of judicial review in such matters is limited,’ he said while rejecting the petition.

Compensate migrant Indian worker wrongly deported: Court

The Delhi High Court has directed the external affairs ministry to pay compensation of Rs.50,000 to a Indian who was returning to his job in Spain but was detained by airlines staff at Brussels airport and deported to India despite having valid documents.

Ruling on the petition of Balwinder Singh, Justice S. Muralidhar said: ‘This court expresses its displeasure with the manner in which the respondents have violated the life and liberty of the petitioner.’

‘The petitioner has needlessly suffered hardship and trauma due to the arbitrary acts of the respondents. In the circumstances, this court considers it appropriate to direct that the respondents compensate the petitioner the sum of Rs.50,000 which will be paid by the Union of India in the Ministry of External Affairs to him within a period of four weeks from today,’ the judge said in the order given April 29 but only made available May 14.

‘The respondent, Union of India, will also pay to the petitioner litigation expenses of Rs.5,000 within a period of four weeks from today. The respondents will immediately return to the petitioner, if not already done, all the documents seized from him,’ said the court.

Singh, who wanted to work abroad, had applied for and got a job of a messenger with a company in Spain’s Jarona city in 2007.

The Spanish embassy October 2007 issued Singh a three-month work visa April 16, 2008 which was further extended till 2011.

Singh then went to Spain and took up the job. He had returned to India in Nov 2009 to meet his family.

On Feb 21, 2010, he boarded a flight from Indira Gandhi International Airport here to return to Spain, with one stoppage at Brussels airport. While in Brussels, when he was about to take the connecting flight to Spain, officials of the Jet Airways began questioning him in the English and Dutch languages.

Being illiterate, Singh could not understand or answer the queries. Although he informed the officials that he had a valid work permit, he was kept in illegal confinement at Brussels airport and was not allowed to fly at Spain. He was deported to India the next day.

His problems increased when he reached New Delhi. Instead of verifying the genuineness of his work permit from the Spanish embassy, officials at the airport kept him in illegal confinement till the evening of Feb 22, 2010, he claimed.

‘They took away all the personal documents of Singh, including his passport, the residential permit, medical cards, driving licence and bank card etc. Thereafter, he kept approaching the respondents for return of his documents but in vain,’ said Singh’s lawyer Ajay Kumar Pipaniya.

Finally, Singh filed a writ petition Aug 17, 2010 seeking direction to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and the Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Jalandhar, to release all the documents seized from him on Feb 22, 2010 and for them to make arrangements for his return to Spain.

Court awards Rs.10 lakh compensation to tycoon’s widow

The Delhi High Court Friday awarded compensation of Rs.10 lakh to Nina Pillai, wife of ‘Biscuit King’ Rajan Pillai, on her petition seeking compensation from the central government for his custodial death in Tihar Jail in 1995.

Delivering the judgment, Justice S. Muralidhar said: ‘In these circumstances, it is clear that the lack of medical personnel and the faulty system of Tihar Jail were responsible for the prisoner not being given medical treatment as soon as possible.’

He asked the Delhi government to pay Nina Pillai a compensation of Rs.10 lakh within four weeks, along with Rs.20,000 as litigation cost.

‘The petitioner will deploy the compensation amount in any charitable cause of her choice, as stated by the petitioner,’ the court said.

‘The government will, within a period of three months from today, ensure that the suggestions made by the Leila Seth Commission of Inquiry in its report for improvement of the system at Tihar be adopted,’ Justice Muralidhar added.

Controversial businessman Rajan Pillai, whose takeover of Britannia Industries earned him the title of ‘Biscuit King’, was arrested in New Delhi July 3, 1995, in an extradition-related case for an alleged corporate offence in Singapore.

While in judicial custody at Tihar Jail, he was shifted to the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital due to health problems, where he succumbed.

Earlier, the government argued that Pillai died due to excessive drinking and improper medical treatment, but not due to custodial torture as alleged.

In her petition, Nina Pillai claimed that her husband was a ‘sad victim of potent admixture of brutality, torture, atrocity, insensitivity, recklessness and negligence’ of the state.

Bar council to upload budding lawyers’ exam results

The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it will place on its website the statement of marks for candidates who appeared in the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) held on March 6.

The examination tests the skills and basic knowledge of those aspiring to practice law.

Justice S. Muralidhar was hearing a petition filed by Anoop Prakash Awasthi, who pleaded for uploading the exam result on the BCI website.

“The BCI has decided to place on its website the statement of marks in respect of the candidates who sat for the AIBE on March 6,” said the bar council.

Any law student graduating in academic year 2009-10 or later is required to appear in the AIBE (after enrolment as an advocate) in order to practice law.

This is the first time that a qualification examination for practicing law in India has been put in place and successfully conducted.

More than 22,000 law graduates had enrolled for the AIBE held on March 6 across 27 cities and 44 different test venues.