NCDRC allows shipping firms’s insurance claim of Rs 1.93 cr

The apex consumer commission has directed an insurance company to pay over Rs 1.93 crore to a shipping firm for repair of one of its vessels which was damaged while sailing in bad weather.

The New India Assurance Private Company Ltd, with whom the vessel is insured, had rejected the firm’s plea on the ground that the ship’s log book was not produced.

Disagreeing with the insurance company’s stand, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) asked it to pay Rs 1,93,39,965.45 to Ceyaki Shipping Private Limited whose vessel MV Comorin Pride’s main deck and the upper deck got damaged during its voyage from Tanzania to Cochin in Kerala.

“Failure of the complainant to produce the original log book and to explain the absence of date on the photocopies is not sufficient to reject the claim which otherwise has been verified by the surveyor appointed by the insurer who had access to the log book of the vessel,” a bench headed by Justice V K Jain said.

The commission said that the report of the surveyor needs to be accepted unless it is shown to be a wholly arbitrary, preverse or untenanble.

“In the absence of evidence to the contrary from the insurer, the cause of the damage accepted by the surveyor cannot be faulted with and needs to be accepted,” it said.

According to the complaint filed by the shipping firm, its vessel encountered bad weather on July 15, 2007 while sailing from Tanzania to Cochin and suffered damage.

The crew had noted substantial deck-side electrical and steel damage on July 17, 2007 but had continued its voyage to the UAE after unloading containers at Cochin.

The vessel was inspected by the surveyor firm appointed by the insurance company.

The insurance company had rejected the claim primarily due to non-availablity of the log book, saying in the absence of this document there was no proper evidence of the exact date of bad weather which caused the damage.

The commission did not accept the insurance company’s argument and noted that in the opinion of the surveyor the damage could be reasonably attributed to the alleged cause.

“The surveyor did not dispute the cause of the damage given by the insured. The surveyor approved what was found to be fair and reasonable cost of repair agreed between the owners of the vessel and the repairers,” it said

Source: PTI

ICICI Bank asked to pay over Rs 1L for negligence in services

iciciICICI Bank Ltd has been asked by an apex consumer commission to pay a compensation of over Rs. one lakh to a Punjab-based family for charging interest on home loan at much higher rates, saying it was “negligent in rendering services”.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), presided by Justice V K Jain, asked the bank to pay Rs. 1.05 lakh to Dutta family, residents of Mohali, who had availed the loan from the bank in 2005.

“Since admittedly, the bank charged interest higher…it was clearly negligent in rendering services to complainants and, therefore, the order passed by the state commission does not call for any interference,” the bench said.

Dattas had availed the home loan of Rs. 13, 35,100 from the bank in 2005 and further an additional loan of Rs. three lakh.
In their complaint, they had said that instead of charging interest at the agreed rate, the bank had charged the same at much higher rate.

Aggrieved by this, they filed a complaint before district consumer forum, alleging deficiency in the service provided to them by the bank.
The bank, however, had contended before the forum that the loan was sanctioned on the floating rate of interest, which could be enhanced as per the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India and in accordance with the agreement between the parties.
The forum, however, had directed bank to charge interest from the complainant at the previous rate. Being aggrieved by the forum’s order, the bank filed an appeal before the Chandigarh State Consumer Commission.
The state commission though permitted the bank to vary the rate but held that it had enhanced it on wrong parameters and asked the bank to pay Rs. one lakh to the complainant, along with cost of litigation amounting to Rs. 5,000.
Thereafter, the bank approached NCDRC against the state commission’s order.

Provide writers for disabled students

delhi-high-courtThe Delhi High Court Monday directed the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to prepare a panel of writers to assist disabled students in appearing for the chartered accountancy examinations that it conducts.

The court has asked that the panel be constituted within six months.

Justice V.K. Jain said that for preparing the panel of scribes to assist disabled students, the institute should either itself empanel appropriate people to function as scribes, or engage the panel prepared by other universities such as Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University. Both these universities maintain a panel of scribes to assist students with disability, especially those visually impaired, in taking examinations.

The court’s order came on a PIL filed by a visually impaired chartered accountant student Reena Bhatia, who sought a direction to the institute to prepare a panel of competent scribes who could assist disabled students in taking examinations.

The ICAI had told the court that it has not maintained its own panel of scribes as it had no campus of its own and conducted examinations at as many as 377 centres spread over 96 cities across the country, as well as in four cities abroad.

On this, the court directed ICAI to prepare a panel of scribes to assist differently abled people at least in the “major cities where examinations are held by it”.

“The respondent no.1 (ICAI) shall prepare, at least in major cities, its own panel of scribes/writers, to be provided to the differently abled persons on receipt of a written request from them. For this purpose, ICAI may either itself empanel appropriate persons to function as scribes/writers or it may adopt the panel of scribes/writers, if any, prepared by other universities/institutions,” the court said in its order.

It further added that the candidates will have to arrange their own scribes at places where ICAI was not able to prepare a panel of scribes.

The court also said that ICAI will pay the fee of the scribes, whether the writer is arranged by the candidate or by the university.

“The ICAI shall prepare, within three months, a schedule of charges to be paid to the scribes/writers who assist differently abled persons in the examination conducted by it and it shall pay to the scribes/writers from the panel or reimburse the candidates, wherever candidates are permitted to engage their own writers/scribes, as per the rates approved by the ICAI in this regard,” the order stated.


Court not to stay proceedings against Jwala

Jwala GuttaThe Delhi High Court Friday refused to stay the inquiry proceedings by a committee set up by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) against India’s top doubles player Jwala Gutta for her alleged indiscipline.

Justice V.K. Jain, who had Oct 10 asked BAI to allow Jwala to take part in national and international tournaments, said no interim order is required as she had already been given relief by the court and allowed the committee to go ahead with its proceedings.

The court, however, said that if she is aggrieved by any decision of the committee, she can approach the court.

Gutta moved the high court challenging the notice issued to her by the committee Oct 14 and also sought a stay on its proceedings against her.

However, the court granted two weeks’ time to her to respond to the committee’s notice.

After BAI’s disciplinary committee recommended a life ban on Gutta on charges of indiscipline, a three-member committee was constituted earlier this month to evaluate the report and the committee was to submit its report within a month.

Gutta’s counsel urged the court to grant a stay on the composition of this newly-constituted committee and that it should not take any final decision against her till the final disposal of her plea in this court.

She had earlier this month moved the high court challenging the life ban on her recommended by the disciplinary committee of the BAI.


Child labour: High Court summons senior police officer

The Delhi High Court summoned a top police officer and the Labour Commissioner for the failure to implement its order asking them to take steps for eliminating the menace of child labour.

A bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain expressed its displeasure over the non-filing of status report in the matter by the Delhi government and the police.

Joint Police Commissioner and the Labour Commissioner has been asked by the Delhi High court to appear along with their respective status reports on March 6, the next date of hearing.

According to the court, “Delhi police and state government was directed to file status report in the case, but no report has been filed so far. Concerned Joint Commissioner of Police as well as Secretary/Commissioner of Labour Department will remain present along with the status report on next date of hearing.”

The direction came on a PIL filed by NGO Save the Child Foundation alleging the government agencies do not have any plausible reason for not implementing the July 15, 2007 directions of the court by which 500 child labourers have to be rescued every month.

The plea has alleged that the authorities adopted a “lackadaisical approach” in implementing the court’s order for elimination of child labour.

Earlier, the high court had sought the response of the Centre, Delhi government and the police for their failure in implementing its order.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka had attempted to connect the PIL on child labour with that of a juvenile facing proceedings in the December 16 gang-rape case, claiming ” he was also a victim of such abuse.”

The NGO, in its plea, said that failure to comply with the court directions have resulted in child labourers growing up as “anti-social elements”.

The high court in its July 2007 judgement had accepted an action plan for elimination of child labour in the capital by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and other government departments and had issued directions in the case.

The PIL told if the Delhi government in compliance with the court’s order had rescued 500 child labourers every month, till now over 18,000 victims would have been saved.

It has told that till now only 3,500 children have been rescued in Delhi since July 15, 2007.

According to it, “For these 18,000 rescued child labourers, more than Rs 36 crore ought to have been recovered, as per the direction of the high court and also the Supreme Court, and such money would have been adequate to ensure the rehabilitation of rescued child labourers and their education. However, in reality, none of this has happened.”

High Court restrains HPCL from operating oil depot in village

The Delhi High court has restrained the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) from operating its oil depot, built near a village, till the safety measures are complied with by the company.

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation has been asked by the bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain to inform it about the steps taken by it on the suggestions made by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and fixed the matter for further hearing on March 20.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by residents of Tikri Kalan village where the oil depot has been built by HPCL. The villagers, in their plea seeking the shifting of the storage unit, alleged the oil depot would be a risk to their lives and properties. Advocate Indira Unninayar, appearing for the villagers, contended the oil depot will endanger their lives as it has been built ignoring the requisite safety norms.

The villagers also alleged the PSU, while planning the depot, did not maintain the necessary distance from the populated area. However, the PSU’s counsel argued HPCL has taken all safety measures and the depot is half a kilometer away from the village.

He also told the storage unit is ready and pleaded with the court to permit initiation of operations. The villagers also alleged the oil depot has been built by HPCL “dangerously close” to their where they live. The villagers in their plea also charged the depot would expose them to various risks from fire, explosion and accident and had cited the recent fire outbreak at the Hazira plant of Indian Oil Corporation in Gujarat on January five which had caused loss of lives and properties.

High Court disposes plea for probe against team Anna & NGOs

A plea seeking CBI probe has been disposed by the Delhi High Court which was against Team Anna members and some NGOs affiliated to them for allegedly receiving funds illegally from foreign organisations.

A bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain disposed of the plea after the Centre informed the court that while some of the NGOs affiliated to anti-graft activist Anna Hazare’s team had received foreign funds, which were utilised irregularly, it does not warrant any criminal investigation.
The bench was also not pleased with the fact that the petitioner, advocate M L Sharma, had not appeared before it on the last three hearings of the case.

According to the bench, “It (Sharma’s absence) happened on December 5, 2012 January 16. Status report has been filed by the respondent (Centre), we are disposing of the plea.”

The Centre, in its affidavit, said that NGOs Navjyoti Indian Foundation and India Vision Foundation, run by Kiran Bedi, and NGO Kabir, run by Manish Sisodia, had received foreign funds but the same was not used for any political activity or India Against Corruption (IAC) movement.

It has also said that “inspections were carried out in August and also in November 2012 under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and FCR Rules and some irregularities were found. These irregularities are not serious enough at this stage to warrant a criminal investigation.

“During inspection no documentary proof in the records of the association was found to show the use of the fund in any such political activity or in India Against Corruption (IAC) movement or agitation.

High Court restrains PTU admissions in distance courses

The Punjab Technical University (PTU) has been restrained by the Delhi High Court from admitting students in its distance education programme courses till IGNOU accords approval on the issue for the current academic year.

A bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain told “We direct the second respondent university not to admit any student pursuant to the advertisement made on December 3, 2012 without specific approval from respondent No. 6 Distance Education Council of IGNOU.”

The court’s order came on a petition filed by one Tilak Singh, a resident of Delhi, alleging that the University was inviting applications despite the fact that it’s plea for extension for running the distance education programme courses was pending with IGNOU.

“Vide communication dated October 12, 2012, the Distance Education Council (of IGNOU) has also directed the Punjab Technical University not to admit any student till the application for extension/approval of recognition is pending.

“In spite of the above communication, it appears that the University in question has published advertisement…Calling for applications of the students. Now, in our opinion, in the absence of of any recognition or approval, the University cannot make any admission and that too when the it has been specifically told by the Council concerned that the students should not be admitted,” the court said.

The court has asked the PTU and others to file their responses to the petition and fixed the matter for hearing on March 11.

During the hearing, the counsel for Singh said the PTU was playing with the career of lakhs of students and have duped them to the tune of crores of rupees

Court to hear plea against oil depot Jan 23

The Delhi High Court will hear Jan 23 a plea from villagers opposing the building of a petroleum depot near their homes in west Delhi alleging it would expose them to risks.

Appearing before Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain, advocate Indira Unninayar demanded that the matter be heard urgently as the people of Tikri Kalan village faced danger.

According to her that after the Jan 5 fire at the Hazira plant of Indian Oil Corp in Gujarat, urgent steps needed to be taken immediately to shift the petroleum storage installation from the village.

The court had earlier issued notice to Hindustan Petroleum Corp and the National Disaster Management Authority.

The petition by Tikri Kalan villagers sought direction to government agencies not to allow the storage depot, alleging it would expose them to risks in case of fire, explosion or accident.

The villagers alleged that the petroleum company had ignored the safety norms.

According to them, the petroleum storage tanks of Hindustan Petroleum are located only 1,440 feet (440 metres) from their houses.

Accusing Hindustan Petroleum and the authorities of “merely paying lip service regarding safety”, the petition said the oil company had ignored the safety steps proposed by the M.B. Lal Committee.

The Lal Committee was set up by the petroleum and natural gas ministry to probe a fire at Indian Oil’s storage depot in Jaipur in October 2009.

Criminal record of juveniles should be obliterated over time: Delhi High Court

The criminal past of a juvenile should be “obliterated” after a period of time and not be allowed to stand in the way of his future life, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

A division bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice V.K. Jain, citing previous judgments given by the court, observed: “The intention of the legislature is absolutely clear in that so far as juveniles are concerned, their criminal record is not to stand in their way in their future lives.”

The court said it had arrived at the conclusion on the basis of provisions of Section 19 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The court’s observation came on a plea filed by the city police commissioner against the order of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) dismissing his order cancelling the candidature of Vijay Kumar Malik for the post of sub-inspector in Delhi Police because of his criminal past when he was a juvenile.

The city police moved the high court contending that Malik, while a juvenile, was involved in a case of murder and conspiracy and “such a candidate had no place in a disciplined force and law-enforcing agency like police”.

The bench in its judgment opined that criminal records of a juvenile should be “obliterated” after a specified period of time.

“We had noted that even where a juvenile is found to have committed an offence, he shall not suffer any disqualification and even the records are to be obliterated after a specified period of time,” the bench said.

Malik in the year 2011 had applied for the post of sub-inspector (executive) male in Delhi Police. However, his candidature was cancelled by the police department on the ground that he was involved in a criminal case pertaining to murder and criminal conspiracy and an FIR had been filed against him on Aug 20, 2005, at the Sonepat (Haryana) police station.

While applying for the police post Malik had disclosed his involvement in the case in both the application form and the attestation form. Malik had already been acquitted of all charges on Oct 17, 2006, by the Juvenile Justice Board.

The division bench, pronouncing the order last month, said: “Since the respondent (Malik) was a juvenile, it was all the more necessary for the petitioner (Commissioner of Police) to have ignored the fact of the alleged involvement of the respondent in the said criminal case.”

“As such, the candidature of the respondent could not have been cancelled in law. The Tribunal, having held in favour of the respondent Vijay Kumar Malik, has proceeded in terms of law and in view of the various decisions of the Supreme Court as also of this Court. Consequently, the same cannot be faulted,” the bench said while dismissing the plea of police.