Supreme Court refuses interim bail to principal of BRD Medical College Gorakhpur

The Supreme Court today refused to grant interim bail to a former principal of a medical college and hospital in Uttar Pradesh where scores of children had died last year allegedly due to shortage of oxygen supply.

Dr Rajeev Kumar Mishra of Gorakhpur’s BRD medical college and hospital told the top court that he has been in jail for more than ten months and the children had died due to Japanese Encephalitis disease and not for shortage of oxygen.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and M M Shantanagoudar issued notice to Uttar Pradesh government on the plea of Mishra and listed the matter for June 6.

More than 60 children, mostly infants, had died at the government-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur within a week in August 2017. There were allegations that the deaths occurred due to disruption in oxygen supply over unpaid bills to the vendor.

At the outset, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Mishra, said he was arrested on August 29, 2017 and has remained in jail for over ten months.

“Chargesheet has been filed in the case. The co-accused in the case including one doctor Kafeel Khan, who was the head of the Encephalitis ward, and the Oxygen gas supplier Manish Bhandari have already got bail. I should be granted at least interim bail till the petition is disposed of,” Rohatgi said.

When the bench asked him what was in the chargesheet filed against his client, the senior lawyer said it has been alleged that Mishra had not cleared the bills for supply of oxygen, due to which the gas supply to the hospital was cut.

To this, the bench said, “then what do you expect, that you will not clear the bills and the vendor will keep supplying the gas”.

Rohatgi said “oxygen gas was not the issue, as the children had died due to a disease called Japanese encephalitis”.

He said at least interim bail should be granted till the petition is disposed of as over ten months have gone by.

The bench, however, refused the plea and sought response from the state government.

Mishra had approached the apex court challenging the order of Allahabad High Court dated April 30, by which it had denied bail to him. He has been booked for criminal negligence and offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The state government had told the High Court that due to the alleged role of Misra, the oxygen supply got halted in the hospital as he had stopped payments to the supplier to allegedly force the company to pay him kickbacks.

On April 9, the top court had granted bail to the proprietor of a firm which supplied oxygen to the hospital saying he had spent seven months in jail for an offence which entailed maximum punishment of three years imprisonment.

Supreme Court to hear plea on June 1 against culling of stray dogs in UP

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on Friday a plea against alleged rampant culling of stray dogs in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh following deaths of several children in the area over the past few months.

The plea was mentioned for urgent hearing before a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and M M Shantanagoudar which said it would hear the matter on June 1.

The petition has sought a direction to Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no more killings of community dogs take place in the state as an after-effect of death of 13 children in the past seven months in the Sitapur district unless it was established that dogs were behind such attacks.

The plea said that subsequent investigations had pointed towards attacks on children by wild animals and not stray dogs.

It has alleged that there was “indiscriminate and inhuman killing” of stray dogs in Sitapur on the mere assumption that the deaths were being allegedly caused by dog attacks.

The plea claimed that “owing to lack of proper and timely efforts by the district administration to contain the number of attacks and the reason behind the same, the attack increased drastically which has as per the reports has led to death of 13 children”.

The petition, filed by advocate Gargi Srivastava, has claimed that the magnitude of the problem grew this month when unconfirmed reports of attacks being carried out by stray dogs appeared in the media after statements by the district magistrate of Sitapur.

“Following such newspaper reports, indiscriminate and brutal killing of community dogs by hanging them alive, burying them alive, hitting them with ‘lathis’ (wooden stick), leaving them to bleed to death in a pile of garbage and shooting them point blank started,” the plea said.

“This rampant massacre led to over 150 community dogs being brutally killed over a span of few days by not only the local people but also under orders of the village panchayats, police officials as well as the officers from district administration,” it claimed.

“The applicant herein is conscious of the plight of the families of the victims and cannot even imagine their grief but the approach of the government and the administration in brushing aside this issue and leading to culling of numerous dogs in the area is nothing but a failed attempt to cover up their inactions as per earlier orders of this court in the instant matter,” the plea said.

It alleged that the top court, in its November 18, 2015 order, had categorically directed all local authorities and panchayats not to kill stray dogs.

The plea said that animal welfare groups had constituted a committee which visited Sitapur and found that massacre of dogs was allowed by the district administration and the police. It alleged that according to the local people, the district administration had hired people to catch and kill dogs and they were being paid Rs 600 per dog.

It has sought a direction to the state government to take immediate action and lodge FIRs against individuals who were involved in aiding and abetting the killing of stray dogs without following the due process of law and also initiate inquiry against erring officials of district administration of Sitapur. Supreme court earlier and Animal Welfare Board of India should be directed to ensure that animal welfare laws in the country were diligently followed.

Supreme Court no to urgent hearing on plea on pollution from Tuticorin plant

The Supreme Court today refused to urgently hear a plea seeking direction to Tamil Nadu government to file a status report on its efforts to control arsenic and cadmium pollution in the ground water around the Sterlite Copper’s smelting plant at Tuticorin.

At least 13 persons were killed and hundreds injured in the recent police firing at Tuticorin on thousands of protesters demanding closure of the Vedanta Group-run Sterlite Industries for allegedly polluting the area causing severe health problems for the local residents and depletion of the water table.

The fresh plea has demanded a status report regarding the steps taken to remove the copper sludge deposited by the company that the petitioner alleged had polluted the ground water across Tuticorin.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and M M Shantanagoudar said the petition will come up in due course in July after the summer vacation and refused to list it for an urgent hearing.

The plea filed by social activist P Shiv Kumar, through advocate N Rajaraman, also sought filing of a status report for implementation of the guidelines of the National Human Rights Commission for registration of information regarding the deaths in an encounter between a police and others in a register in so far as the death of 13 people in the Tuticorin police firing on May 22 and 23.

Last week, a separate petition was filed in the top court by an advocate G S Mani seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into the deaths of protesters during the anti-Sterlite rally in Tamil Nadu.

The plea has also sought registration of an FIR for the alleged offence of murder against Tuticorin Collector, Superintendent of Police and other police officials.

The petition has termed as inadequate the compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of those killed during the protest. It has sought compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the families of those killed and Rs 25 lakh to those seriously injured in the firing.

SC dismisses five petitions challenging CBSE’s retest decision

The Supreme Court today dismissed five petitions challenging the CBSE’s decision to conduct a re-examination of the Class 12 economics paper after an alleged leak.

The top court said it is the discretion of the Central Board of Secondary Education to conduct the re-examination and can’t be challenged in the court.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao asked the students who had challenged the CBSE’s decision to appear in the examination if conducted.

Several petitions were filed before the apex court after the CBSE said on March 28 that the Class 10 maths and Class 12 economics paper had allegedly leaked.

The CBSE said yesterday that it has found after assessment there was no impact of alleged paper leak of Class 10 maths paper and no re-examination would be held.

Besides challenging the CBSE’s decision, the petitioners also wanted a CBI probe into the alleged paper leak, saying several incidents were reported from various states and Delhi Police was not competent to hold the nation-wide probe.

Besides seeking an independent probe into the leak, one of the petitioners, 15-year-old Rohan Mathew, also sought a direction to the CBSE to declare the results on the basis of the examinations already conducted.

The CBSE, on March 30, had announced that it would re-conduct the examination for economics for Class 12 throughout the country on April 25.

Mathew and two others have moved the top court seeking quashing of the CBSE’s decision to re-conduct the Class 10 mathematics examination on several grounds, including violation of their fundamental rights.

Earlier, another plea was filed in the apex court by Reepak Kansal, a resident of Shakarpur here, challenging the decision of the CBSE to cancel and re-conduct the two papers.

“It is to be noted that this year, 16,38,428 students are appearing for the Class 10 and 11,86,306 students for Class 12 in the CBSE examinations.

“And therefore, to penalise the student community for an incident which is under investigation and without completion of that investigation/enquiry and issuing a notice on March 28, 2018 (for re-exams), affects the fundamental rights of students which is arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional,” the plea said.