Delhi HC directs CS Anshu Prakash, 2 bureaucrats to appear before Assembly Panel

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today directed Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash and two other bureaucrats to appear before the committees of Delhi Legislative Assembly which had issued notices to them, warning them of contempt if they did not do so.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru warned the Chief Secretary and two other IAS officers that the court could issue contempt action against them if they failed to appear before the panels, saying they are officers and will have to appear before all the committees.
The order came after the counsel for Delhi Legislative Assembly, the Speaker and two panels informed the court that the three officers were neither appearing before the committees, nor giving reply to the information sought from them.

They were taking advantage of the court’s earlier order restraining the authorities from taking action against them, the counsels alleged. The high court had on March 9 asked the panels not to take coercive steps against the IAS officers.
The court today said, “it is clarified that the petitioners (bureaucrats) shall participate in the proceedings of the panels without prejudice to their rights and contentions.”

“It is the direction of this court that you will have to appear. If you fail to appear, forget about them (authorities), this court will issue contempt action against you”.

The court also made it clear that the committees will not take any coercive action against the bureaucrats till the pendency of petitions and directed that the proceedings of the panel meetings should be videographed.
The chief secretary was earlier served a notice by the Privileges Committee for skipping a meeting on February 20, which was scheduled a day after he was allegedly assaulted by two AAP MLAs — Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal.
The Privileges Committee had issued the notice after receiving a complaint against the Chief Secretary by the Question & Reference (Q&R) Committee.

The Q&R Committee had also served notice on two IAS officers — J B Singh, Registrar of Cooperative Societies, and Shurbir Singh, chief executive officer of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB).
The chief secretary and the two officers were called for the meeting by the Q&R Committee to examine issues in which a reply from the Department of Cooperative Society was found to be uncomplete and unsatisfactory. The issues related to the Delhi Nagrik Sahkari Bank Ltd.

Delhi HC to hear plea of 8 AAP MLAs against disqualification

A Delhi High Court judge will hear later in the day the plea of eight AAP MLAs against their disqualification for holding office of profit.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru said he will hear the pleas of the MLAs, challenging the Centre’s notification which had disqualified 20 legislators, after lunch.

Observing the crowd in his courtroom before taking up the matter, the judge said he was unable to conduct hearing of other matters.

The court was jam-packed with the eight AAP MLAs and their supporters and some senior members of the party besides scribes and counsel for the legislators.

On January 19, the poll panel had made the recommendation for the disqualification of the 20 legislators, which was given assent by the President.

On January 20, the Ministry of Law and Justice issued a notification that the President held that the 20 MLAs stand disqualified under Section 15(1)(a) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act.

The EC had made the recommendation while deciding a plea by advocate Prashant Patel, who had sought disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs for holding the office of parliamentary secretaries, which he had said amounted to office of profit.

The proceedings against Jarnail Singh were dropped after he resigned as the Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly polls.

MBBS: HC asks Centre to include student in waiting list as NRI

 The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to include a student, seeking admission to MBBS course through NEET as an NRI candidate though he appeared for the entrance exam as a resident candidate, in the waiting list for deemed universities.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru said that this would enable the student to approach the deemed universities directly and his counsel said this was acceptable to him.

The high court passed the direction after central government standing counsel Jasmeet Singh informed that all unfilled seats have been released to the deemed universities.

The only assistance that can be granted to the student is that his name can be included in the waiting list as an NRI candidate for onward transmission to deemed universities.

The court was hearing the student’s petition, filed through advocate Pradeep Kumar Arya, seeking direction to the Centre to consider and admit him as an NRI candidate for the admission in MBBS in pursuance to National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) conducted for year 2017-18 in the central list for deemed universities.

The student, who completed his class 12th last year from Saudi Arabia, said his father was a resident of Madhya Pradesh and his mother is a non-resident Indian as she had spent more than 180 days in the last financial year in Saudi Arabia.

He had applied under the NEET as a resident candidate and not as an NRI and could not be considered in the NRI category.

However, the Centre had issued a notification on July 21, informing all NRI candidates who had registered under UR/ Indian category at the time of registration for undergraduate MBBS/BDS seats and were eligible to be considered under NRI quota, to send their relevant documents supporting their status by July 25, for being considered under the NRI category, the plea said.

The student did not send any of the application or documents following the notification but claimed that he had made the request prior to July 21 and even after July 25, which should have been considered.

HC Refuses to Bar Delhi EC From Issuing Poll Notification

The Delhi High Court today refused to restrain the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) from issuing notification for the upcoming 2015 Delhi Assembly polls on the allegation of presence of bogus voters.

“We (the court and the petitioner) are here to solve the issue. I cannot injunct the whole electoral process. Let them (CEO) declare this. This process has to go on,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru said.

The court, which turned down the plea for stay of the notification till January 13, however, agreed to issue notice to the CEO’s office seeking its reply on the interim application of petitioner Naresh Kumar.

The notification is expected to be issued in a day or two.

The court is already hearing a petition filed by Kumar in which he has alleged presence of a large number of bogus voters in various Assembly constituencies of the national capital.

Kumar, who had unsuccessfully contested on a Congress ticket from Mundka in the 2014 Delhi Assembly polls, said today that during the course of hearing, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has admitted that there were various mistakes in the Delhi electoral rolls and that they were revising these.

“That even in the revised electoral rolls published on January 5 there are still 10,000 to 20,000 bogus voters in Mundka constituency…

“The presence of such large number of bogus voters will effect the electoral process and those who have manipulated the voter’s list by including large number of bogus voters may get undue advantage,” senior advocate Rakesh Tiku, appearing for Kumar, said.

Earlier, the court had pulled up the Election Commission here asking what action it has taken on the allegation about the presence of a large number of bogus voters in various Assembly constituencies of the capital.

Advocate Tiku, along with counsel O P Saxena, told the court that till date the poll panel has not made changes to sort out “discrepancies” pointed out by the court and in the Rajender Nagar Assembly constituency it has been found that a photo of a leading film star is pasted against some voter’s name in the constituency.

“… At least 58,000 cases of wrong photo image of the voters have been noticed by the ECI itself and the commission is taking steps to remove these names from the voter’s list. Thus it is admitted case that there are large number of bogus voters in the electoral rolls,” the plea said.

The petition further said that the large number of bogus voters illustrates failure of the poll panel in preparing a correct electoral rolls, “thus it would be in the interest of justice that the respondent (CEO) may be restrained from publishing the notification for election”.

“The present writ petition will become infructuous if the ECI notifies the election process,” it added.

Refusing to grant any interim relief to Kumar, the court said that it has asked the poll panel to revise the electoral rolls and has even asked about the reason for such errors.

The court also said the allegation that there are many people in the city who have numerous voter cards in their name but with different addresses needs to be sort out.

The plea has sought a direction to delete the names of the bogus voters in different constituencies, including Mundka here which itself has over 41,000 such forged card-holders.

The petitioner alleged that “in almost every constituency there are serious irregularities and a large number of fake and bogus names have been included intentionally and deliberately in the electoral rolls…”.

“The presence of a large number of bogus voters will have an adverse effect on the poll process and outcome,” it added.

HC asks AIIMS to treat minor

The Delhi High Court has directed AIIMS to provide immediate treatment to a 13-year-old boy suffering from spinal tuberculosis that can cause curvature of the backbone.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru asked All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) not to delay the poor child’s surgery by waiting for completion of formalities to get financial assistance from Delhi Arogya Nidhi/Kosh, to bear his treatment cost.

“In view of the statement that the patient requires an urgent surgery and fulfils the eligibility criteria for obtaining financial assistance, AIIMS is directed to furnish estimate certificate indicating the expenditure to be incurred without insisting on the production of income and birth certificates.

“It is also directed that if the attending doctors are of the opinion that a surgery is required to be urgently done, they shall forthwith do so without awaiting completion of formalities in regard to the petitioner seeking financial assistance,” the judge said.

The High Court was hearing a petition filed by the boy’s father Rajendra Kumar, an Uttar Pradesh resident, seeking directions to AIIMS to fill up the estimate certificate for his son, who was suffering from Pott’s Spine, so that the he can get financial assistance from Delhi Arogya Nidhi/Kosh.

The plea, filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal, sought that AIIMS be directed to not ask for production of income certificate and birth certificate of the petitioner as he does not have these.

While granting relief to Kumar and his son Ankit, the court said, “The petitioner is a 13-year-old minor suffering from Pott’s Spine and requires an urgent surgery. His counsel submits that his family income is less than Rs 1 lakh a year and he possesses a National Food Security Card.

“The counsel for the petitioner has fairly submitted that the petitioner does not possess birth certificate and income certificate which have been demanded by AIIMS for providing the estimate certificate.”

AIIMS had submitted that the documents required would have to be provided for availing the financial assistance, after which the counsel for the patient told the court that all necessary formalities shall be completed within eight weeks from December 24.

HC refuses to lift ban on Uber cabs services in Delhi

On the day a charge sheet was filed against a cab driver for allegedly raping a woman passenger, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi Government’s Transport Department to hear the representation of cab service provider Uber against the ban and blacklisting of its services. The Court refused to lift the ban on plying of Uber cabs in the cityuber

The cab service was blacklisted in Delhi after its driver Shiv Kumar Yadav was arrested on charges of raping a 27-year-old woman executive in his taxi on the night of December 5. The Court asked the petitioner, Uber India Systems Private Limited, to submit by Monday its representation to the Transport Department, which will pass a reasoned order within 10 days.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru of the High Court, who had set aside the Delhi Government’s ban on Ola Cabs on Tuesday, refused to grant the same relief to Uber while noting that the services provided by the latter were different.

The Court said the two cab services were not identical, as Uber collects money directly from the customer and gives it to the driver, while the person pays to the taxi driver in case of Ola. “You are providing the service,” the Judge remarked and said the Court was not issuing a stay in the matter.

In the Ola case, the Court had stated that the December 8 order of the Delhi Government had banned the operation of the web-based service without giving a hearing to the operator.

While keeping the writ petition pending and posting it for hearing on January 6, 2015, the Court said the Transport Department’s officer concerned would consider all the points raised by Uber and pass a speaking order.

The petition, moved through counsel Rajiv Nayar, stated that the December 8 public notice blacklisting Uber from providing transport service was issued without providing fair and proper hearing to the cab service provider.

HC sets aside order stopping OLA cabs from plying on roads

The Delhi High Court Tuesday set aside the order of city government prohibiting OLA Cabs from plying in the capital until a license obtained from the transport department.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru also asked OLA Cab, a mobile and web-based taxi service provider, to approach the government with their contention over the blanket ban on it and two others after the Uber cabs rape incident.

“Since the petitioner (OLA) have not been afforded any opportunity of being heard, I deem it appropriate to set aside the impugned order and direct that the petition be considered as a representation by the appropriate authority,” the order stated.

It added: “A final decision be taken within a period of 10 days from today (Tuesday) after affording the petitioner an opportunity of being heard.”

On Dec 8, the Delhi government had prohibited OLA Cabs from plying in the city until license/permission was obtained from the transport department under the radio taxi scheme, 2006.

It had directed OLA Cabs to cease its services as mobile app or web-based services were not recognized.

The government notification had said that only six radio taxi operators – Meru, Mega, Chanson, Yo, Air and Easy – are authorised to run radio taxi services in Delhi.

OLA Cabs contended that in some cases, traffic police and Delhi Police have been taking coercive action against the vehicles using OLA software.

During the hearing, senior advocates Sandeep Sethi and Khalid Arshad contended that “challans are being issued to the drivers operating OLA cabs and additionally the vehicles are being impounded”.

“OLA is used in around 25 cities across India. And have 20 lakh users. They have been operating in Delhi since 2012,” said the plea.

OLA contended that unlike radio taxis, they do not own the cabs which are provided to public. It further said that a detailed audit of the vehicles is organized by it periodically.

All vehicles have GPS installed in them, which allow all booked rides to be traced.

The government banorder came few days after a taxi driver contracted to international online cab firm Uber was detained on charges of raping a female passenger.

Medical reimbursement of SC judges exempted from RTI: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has held that reimbursements of medical expenses of the Supreme Court judges cannot be disclosed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, saying it does not serve any public interest.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru held that the Central Information Commission (CIC) was in error to direct the Supreme Court Registry to provide the information sought, saying

“medical records are not liable to be disclosed unless it is shown that the same is in larger public interest”.

“In the present case, the CIC has completely overlooked this aspect of the matter. Further, the extent of medical reimbursement to an individual is also, in one sense, personal information as it would disclose the extent of medical services availed by an individual.

“Thus, unless a larger public interest is shown to be served, there is no necessity for providing such information. Thus, a direction for maintaining records in a manner so as to provide such information is not warranted,” the court said.

The court made the observations in its judgement on the plea of the Supreme Court registry against CIC’s order directing the apex court to maintain details of medical reimbursement availed of by each of its judges in the last three years to be furnished to information-seekers.

The high court held CIC’s order as “erroneous”

Can’t deny passport for seeking political asylum abroad: HC

The Delhi High Court has held that a person’s decision to seek political asylum in a foreign country in the past can’t be a valid ground for denying him an Indian passport.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru said that applying for political asylum may result in bad publicity for a country “but that does not mean that same is prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India” and “said action cannot be considered as a ground for denying passports”.

The court made the observation in its judgement on the petitions of three men – Kulvir Singh, Inderdeep Chamber and Bhupinder Singh Nijjar – who had applied for political asylum in European countries while they were overseas.

They were thereafter, denied passports for five years on the ground that they “are likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India”.

While Kulvir and Bhupinder had sought asylum in Austria, Inderdeep had applied for political refuge in Germany.

“However depreciable the action of petitioners in applying for political asylum may be, the same does not fall within the scope of ‘activities prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India’.

“The the said action cannot be considered as a ground for denying passports to the petitioners,” the court said and directed the authorities to “process the applications filed by the petitioners for issuance of passports”.

It also clarified that the expression ‘activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India’, “must be read to mean activities that are derogatory to and/or could possibly result in affecting, the sovereignty and integrity of India”.

The court set aside the decisions of the Chief Passport Officer to deny passports to the three, saying “a passport cannot be denied as a punition for the past acts”.

MCD can’t levy charges for violation of outdoor ad policy: HC

The Delhi High Court has said that MCD does not have the right to levy any charge for violation of outdoor advertising policy as it set aside a penalty of Rs 7.36 lakh per month imposed on a retail outlet of sports wear company in 2010.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru passed the order on a plea by Sports and Leisure Apparel Ltd that manufactures sports apparel under the brand name of Lacoste opposing the charge levied upon it, saying the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is without authority of law.

MCD, however, had contended that the levy of penalty and regulatory fee for displaying advertisement are contemplated under the outdoor policy, which was framed pursuant to a Supreme Court directive that road safety is paramount for commuters and hazardous hoardings need to be removed.

The high court, however, refused to accept the contention of MCD saying, “The Supreme Court’s order of October 12, 2007, permitting MCD to proceed to implement the outdoor policy cannot be read to declare the said report as the law and that it delegates the legislative powers to levy the impugned charges to the MCD.

“The Supreme Court has not and perhaps could not have in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India authorised a levy of a tax/regulatory fee. Thus, the impugned charges and the circular are without authority of law.”

“In view of the aforesaid, the petition is allowed and impugned order is set aside,” the high court added.

It also set aside the 2010 circular issued by MCD laying down the terms of conditions for imposition of damages for violating the outdoor advertising policy.

The court observed that the circular “cannot be traced to any provision of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act” and added that even the legislation did not provide for any imposition of penalty or levy in respect of an unauthorised advertisement.

“The bye laws made under the DMC Act also do not support or authorise the levy of any damage charges,” the court said.