‘ Court should take liberal view on delayed appeals of convicts in custody ‘ : High Court

New Delhi : Courts should take a liberal approach when appeals against convictions are filed with some delay by those in custody, the Delhi High Court has said.

The high court said delay does not work to the advantage of an incarcerated person and people who are in custody do not have the advantage of approaching a counsel and taking legal advice at their own free will, which a free person has.

“Courts cannot adopt a hyper technical approach, while considering an application seeking condonation of delay filed against conviction by a person in custody,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said.

The court’s order came while setting aside a sessions judge’s order, which had dismissed a man’s appeal in a robbery case solely on the ground that it was filed after a delay of 220 days.

It condoned the delay and restored the appeal to the court of an additional sessions judge and said the matter be listed before the trial court in July.

The high court noted the man had filed an appeal after he had surrendered before the court concerned to serve three-year jail term in the robbery case and said the delay in filing the appeal would not have benefitted him.

“Any delay in filing an appeal would be detrimental to a person who is in custody. Clearly the order of the appellate court in rejecting the appeal of the petitioner (man) is erroneous and the finding that sufficient cause was not shown by him in approaching the appellate court is not sustainable,” it said.

The high court held, “Courts have to take a liberal approach, when appeals against conviction are filed, with some delay, by persons who are in custody. Delay does not work to the advantage of the person incarcerated. People who are incarcerated do not have the advantage that a free person has, of approaching a counsel and taking legal advice at one own free will.”

It added that “we live in a society where families of a poor person in custody and families of those coming from remote areas of the country are not even aware of their legal rights and even if aware, may not have the capacity or resources to approach a counsel for legal advice or approach courts for legal aid”.

The man stated in his plea before the high court that he was a poor and incarcerated person and his wife was also uneducated and not in a position to arrange for funds to engage a counsel.

He said his wife was previously not aware that she could approach legal aid for filing the petition. Later, she approached the legal aid and the petition was filed before the high court through legal aid after a delay of 319 days.

Protests at JNU indicate something is wrong somewhere: HC

The large number of student protests at JNU only indicates “there is something wrong somewhere”, the Delhi High Court told the varsity today while allowing the students to agitate near the admin block.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva made the observation after the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said that in the past nine months there have been 92 protests in the campus and these were disrupting the functioning of the varsity.

While directing the students that varsity functioning should go on, the court allowed them to protest in the front garden and pavement of the administrative block with the conditions that the exit and entry routes to the building be not blocked and the decibel levels are kept low.

To this extent, the court modified its earlier order of March 9 restraining the students from protesting within 100 metres of the block.

It did not accept the JNU’s request for continuing with the earlier order, saying, “What would be the purpose of the protest if it was not visible and was held at some remote corner.”

While modifying its order, the court said it was looking to protect bonafide students of JNU and stressed that no outside organisation or association be allowed to dictate how the varsity or its students should function.

During the hearing, the court asked whether the JNU has ever introspected as to why so many protests, almost 10 every month, were being held there only and not in any other university.

“Why so many protests are happening there only and not in other universities? There is something wrong somewhere. We have to look at the root cause. All the reasons for the protests may not be frivolous,” it said.

The court also said “who would want to agitate if other means are available” and asked the JNU to evolve a mechanism to differentiate between genuine and frivolous grievances of the students and to resolve these by way of dialogue.

It said, “Educational environment should revive in the JNU, but it is not happening.

Memo against Mehra’s appointment before LG: HC

The memorandum against the appointment of Rahul Mehra as senior standing counsel for the city government is being considered by the Lieutenant Governor (LG), the Delhi High Court was told today.

“The file pertaining to the issue raised in the petition is pending for consideration before the LG, who will take his decision soon,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva was informed.
The counsel for the LG office also informed the court that after the judgement of the high court making it clear that the LG is the administrative head of the Union Territory of Delhi, the file seeking approval of the city government’s decision to appoint Mehra as senior standing counsel (civil) is being examined by LG Anil Baijal.

The LG office response came in the backdrop of the plea by advocate Chetan Dutt, who sought setting aside and quashing of the appointment of Mehra from the post.

The plea has termed the appointment as “illegal” on the ground that the post of senior standing counsel “doesn’t exist in the eyes of the law”.
Taking note of the submissions made on behalf of the LG

office, Justice Sachdeva said, “When the authority concerned (LG) is already acting upon the matter, why should the court intervene.

“The courts can only intervene when the authorities are not acting,” the judge said.

The matter was listed for further hearing on March 23 by when the LG is expected to take his decision on the issue.

The petition, which sought quashing of the notification issued by the Delhi government with regard to the appointment of Mehra and other panel counsel of the Delhi government, has said that it was “bad in law as the same is in violation of the Constitution of India”.

“The Department of Law, Justice and Legislative Affairs issued a notification appointing Rahul Mehra as senior standing counsel for all matters of Delhi….

“No advertisement for the post, no terms and conditions for appointment, no criteria, no eligibility were made. No sanction was obtained from the LG of the National Capital Territory of Delhi,” the petition has said.

It has said that judicial review of the notification was mandatory and required in law.

Zakir Naik, IRF indulging in unlawful activity: HC

The Delhi High Court today upheld the Centre’s decision to immediately ban Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), saying the organisation and its president and members were indulging in “unlawful activity”.

Turning down the foundation’s claim that the Centre has not given reasons for its order, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said that there is material to establish that the “immediate action appears to have been taken in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India and public order”.

“The activities which the petitioner organisation and its president and members are alleged to have indulged in, would clearly come within the purview of unlawful activity and since petitioner organisation and its members are alleged to have been indulging in the said activities it would come within the definition of unlawful association,” the court said.

Producing the contents of the order by which the ban was imposed on the IRF, the court noted that as per the notification the foundation, its members and particularly founder — Naik — was encouraging and aiding its followers to promote the feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities and groups.

“Thus, it cannot be held that the notification insofar as it relates to, the exercise of power under proviso to section 3(3) of the Act and the declaration of petitioner association to be an unlawful association with immediate effect, is an arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of power.

“Not only is the material available on the record of the Central Government but the reasons for exercise of the said power have been disclosed in the notification,” it said.

The IRF had moved the court challenging the November 17, 2016 notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which had imposed an immediate ban on Naik’s organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Holding that Naik’s foundation’s plea against the Centre’s decision has “no merit”, the court said the decision of the government was “not arbitrary and illegal”.


HC refuses to stop Gillete razor ad starring Deepika Padukone

EnvironmentThe Delhi High Court has refused to stop a Gillette razor advertisement starring Deepika Padukone on a plea by Reckitt Benckiser which claimed the ad disparages its hair removal cream and was affecting its business.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to Procter and Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Ltd and Gillette India Ltd and sought their responses on Reckitt’s petition challenging a single-judge order refusing to grant it any interim relief.

The bench listed the matter for hearing on November 20, a day after Reckitt’s plea is to be taken up for hearing by the single judge.

The single judge had on November 3 issued notice on Reckitt’s plea and listed it for hearing on November 19 while refusing to pass any interim order staying the advertisement.

Reckitt has claimed that Gillette’s advertisement ‘Venus Razor’ disparages the reputation of its product — Veet hair removal cream — as the video terms its product as “same old”.

It said the video shows its trademark spatula, to be used with the cream, and sought that if the video’s telecast cannot be stayed then at least the spatula be masked or blurred.

It said there was “complete rejection” of its product in the video starring Padukone.

Reckitt claimed it is currently the leader in the hair removal business with a 60 per cent market share and the advertisement would seriously harm its business if allowed to go on.

The division bench, however, refused to pass any interim order as sought by Reckitt, saying “let the other side be here first”.

Have preventive attitude to check diseases like dengue: HC

dengue-mosquitoDelhi High Court has asked the civic agencies in the national capital to have a “preventive” attitude, and not curative, in order to contain spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria.”Attitude should be preventive and not curative,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said, adding that proper cleaning of drains could prevent spread of such diseases.The court also questioned what the civic agencies and other local authorities were doing as it had to intervene to ensure that people of the national capital get CCTV cameras for safety, proper policing, clean drains and garbage-free streets.”What are the authorities doing? We are working to provide CCTVs, police, cleaning of drains and garbage, for the people who are up in arms,” it said.It directed the Public Works Department (PWD) of Delhi government to file a status report indicating the manner and times at which the drains are cleaned and listed the matter for further hearing on October 28.The court’s observations came during the hearing of a PIL pertaining to cleaning up of various colonies in different districts of the capital.The bench was also referring to another matter it was dealing with regarding the installation of CCTV cameras in the city as well as induction of additional personnel in the Delhi Police.It also wondered “why does it not strike” the municipal corporations to provide proper gear to their employees engaged in cleaning of the ‘dhalaos’ (garbage dumps).It also suggested devising another method of cleaning the dumps, instead of people manually collecting the garbage and putting it in trucks.



Illegal buildings disasters waiting to happen during quakes: HC

earthquakeDays after the killer earthquake in Nepal, the Delhi High Court today said unauthorised constructions and colonies in the city are “disasters waiting to happen” in case of a similar temblor here and asked the municipality whether it has devised any action plan.A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva observed that if there is an earthquake in Delhi like the one in Nepal, all the unauthorised buildings, constructed “on one brick” and without following regulations, will go.

It also said each government has been extending the date till which illegal constructions are protected from punitive action as it is “looking for votes”.

“If people die, then who will vote,” the court asked.

“They are disasters waiting to happen. Are you (municipal corporation) taking strict action? Are you coming out with an action plan,” the bench questioned while hearing a batch of petitions on unauthorised constructions in the city.

Under the recent amendment to the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) unauthorised constructions up to June 1, 2014 would be protected from punitive action. Under the earlier law, unauthorised constructions up to February 8, 2007 were protected.

In response, the municipal corporation said it was coming out with an action plan.
The court, thereafter, said it will take up the matter of seismic stability of structures in the national capital in some other appropriate matter.

Land vandalised as govt grabbed it without use for it: HC

ddaThe Delhi High Court today said lot of land in the city has been “vandalised” as the government “grabbed” it without having a use resulting in it being encroached upon.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva made the observation while directing the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to file a detailed affidavit indicating the extent to which the land acquired by it has been utilised under various schemes.

It gave the direction while noting that the affidavit filed by DDA was “general” in nature and only indicated the amount of land acquired by it and taken possession of and transferred for use under various schemes, like residential or industrial.

“Affidavit on behalf of DDA is a general one indicating the extent of land acquired and taken possession of and land transferred for use under various schemes. However, no details are available. DDA shall file a detailed affidavit indicating exact extent of land used under the various schemes,” it said.

The court also said “it is clear” that out of the 90407.02 acres of land acquired by it, the authority only took possession of 77090.27 acres which implied that it has not taken over the remaining approximately 13000 acres.

“They (DDA) grab land without having a use for it. Then it is encroached upon. So much land has been vandalised this way,” it said.

It also noted that while DDA claims to have paid Rs 4242 crore as compensation to Land and Building Department, “it is not clear” in respect of how much land the amount has been paid.

The affidavit was filed by the authority pursuant to the court’s July 23, 2014 order directing DDA to indicate the lands in respect of which acquisition have been completed, possession has been taken and compensation paid.

DDA was also directed to indicate how much land they had received and what use they have put it to.

Court was hearing a PIL initiated by it in 2005 on news reports that due to DDA’s failure in taking possession of over 40,000 acres of land acquired by it, mafia and slum-dwellers had encroached upon it.

Pvt firm drags Centre to high court on supply of condoms

Accredited Social Health ActivistsA condom manufacturer has dragged the Centre to Delhi High Court, expressing apprehension that it may be deprived of a contract for supply of over 100 million pieces of male contraceptives despite edging out others in the tender process.

Pending the matter in which the private company cited the government’s previous year’s decision to involve a PSU by ignoring its “successful bid” to supply condoms, the high court in its interim order directed the Centre not to cancel the tender process for supply of male contraceptives which are to be distributed by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

It said the interim order would not come in the way of awarding of tender.
The court was hearing a petition filed by private company MHL Healthcare Ltd (MHL) expressing apprehension that like last year, the Centre may cancel the entire process.

“This is petition filed by the petitioner on the apprehension that each time a tender is floated and he is L1, subsequently the tender is cancelled. This time also apprehending that the tender will be cancelled, he is before the court. Till the next date of hearing of the matter no cancellation order should be passed,”  a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said.

It also asked the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to file its counter affidavit on the plea within two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on July 14.
The bench issued notice to HLL Lifecare Ltd (a government of India undertaking) which was awarded the order by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for supply of condoms after the tender was cancelled last year.

Appearing for MHL, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan said the last time also the government had awarded tender for supply of condoms to a state-run agency at a “higher price” than what the private company had offered.
MHL said that last time also after it became the “top bidder” for the supply of contraceptives, the ministry had cancelled the tender and had placed an order with HLL Lifecare Ltd for 200 million pieces of condoms at a price of Rs 180.77 per 100 pieces.
The bench, however, said that it will hear the matter on merit after all respondents file their counter affidavits on the petition.
Earlier, on November 7, last year, Centre had informed the court that it has scrapped its tender for supply of male contraceptives and fresh process has been initiated.