A deterrent punishment is vital in fatal road accident cases so that persons plying vehicles bear in mind that they will face serious consequences, a Delhi court has said while upholding a truck driver’s two-year jail term for crushing a man under the wheels.
Refusing to sympathise with the convict, Additional Sessions Judge Suresh Kumar Gupta said “a person who plays with fire cannot complain of burnt fingers”.
The court’s observations came while rejecting the appeal of driver Rashid Ali against his conviction and sentence for the offence of causing death by negligence under section 304A of the IPC.
“One person has lost his life. The deterrent punishment is more important in road accident cases so that persons who ply vehicles on road must bear in mind that they will have to face serious consequences including conviction and imprisonment in case of fatal accident.
“The appellant (driver) cannot claim sympathy because a person who plays with fire cannot complain of burnt fingers.
Leniency in such cases will do injustice to family members of the deceased. A stern message has to be given to the society.
To my mind, trial court has rightly passed the sentence,” the judge said.
The court, however, acquitted him of the charge of holding a fake driving licence saying there was no evidence on record to prove the same.
Ali had moved the sessions court against the March 22, 2017 verdict of a trial court here sentencing him to two years rigorous imprisonment.
In his appeal he claimed that the trial court had passed the judgement on the basis of surmises and conjectures and there was no evidence that he was driving the offending truck.
The sessions court upheld the order of the trial court and said the entire evidence showed that the driver was driving the truck in rash and negligent manner and hit the victim’s motorcycle and then ran over him.
According to the prosecution, on the night of September 18, 2012 victim Hari Shankar and his brother were going home on separate motorcycles and when they were near Badarpur, a rashly driven truck hit Shankar due to which he fell down.
Before his brother could pick him up, the front wheel of the truck ran over the victim’s head, killing him on the spot, it said.
The Delhi High Court today stayed a trial court order imposing a fine of Rs 50 lakh on a Kolkata-based iron and steel company in connection with a coal scam case.
Justice Anu Malhotra put on the hold till January 22, the next date of hearing, the special CBI court’s order to deposit the fine.
The high court’s interim order came on the appeal of the company, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd’s (VISUL), which has sought waiver of the costs.
The high court also sought response of the CBI on the company’s plea seeking setting aside of the trial court’s December 16 order convicting it in the coal scam case.
“The trial court order is stayed on parity with the other convict’s appeal,” the court said.
The company, in its plea, has said that the special court had wrongly found them guilty of the alleged scam.
The high court on December 20 had sought response of the CBI on an appeal by former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda’s close aide Vijay Joshi against the trial court’s order awarding him three years jail term in the case.
While admitting his appeal against conviction and jail term, the court had suspended the sentence of Joshi till the pendency of his appeal and had granted him bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs one lakh and a surety of the like amount.
Koda, ex-coal secretary H C Gupta, A K Basu, former Jharkhand chief secretary, and Joshi were awarded jail terms of three years for indulging in corrupt practices and hatching a criminal conspiracy in the allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to the Kolkata-based company.
While confirming his bail, the high court had directed Joshi not to leave the country during the entire pendency of his appeal.
It had also stayed till January 22, the next date of hearing, the payment of the Rs 25 lakh fine imposed on Joshi by the special court.
The trial court had directed the convict to deposit by January 3 the fine amount and had suspended his sentence till February 18 to enable him to appeal before the superior court.
Advocate Tarannum Cheema, appearing for the CBI, gave a list of orders in the coal cases where the convicts were directed to deposit the fine and said the time to deposit the money was not extended.
While sentencing the convicts, the special court had said “white collar crimes” were more “dangerous” to the society than ordinary crimes.
It had imposed fines of Rs 50 lakh, Rs 25 lakh and Rs 1 lakh on VISUL, Koda and Gupta respectively in the UPA-era coal scam. Rs one lakh fine was also imposed on Basu.
The convicts were granted statutory bail for a period of two months to enable them to file appeals in the Delhi High Court.
So far, four out of 30 coal block allocation scam cases have been decided by the special court, including this order, and 12 people and four companies have been held guilty.
The convicts were tried for offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
While the offence of cheating carries a maximum punishment of seven years jail term, criminal breach of trust by public servants entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The CBI had said that the firm had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007.
It had said that although the Jharkhand government and the steel ministry did not recommend VISUL’s case for coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm.
The CBI had said that Gupta, who was chairman of the screening committee, had concealed facts from then prime minister Manmohan Singh, who at that time headed the coal ministry too, that Jharkhand had not recommended VISUL for allocation of a coal block.
The Delhi High Court today sought the response of the Centre and the AAP government on a PIL seeking framing of guidelines to regulate the functioning of personnel in police stations and ensure the safety of the complainants and the accused.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Delhi government and the police seeking their stand on the plea by April 19, the next date of hearing.
The petition has alleged that the number of complaints of crime and corruption lodged against personnel posted in police stations was higher as compared to those in other departments of the police.
Petitioner Ajay Gautam has sought directions to the MHA and the Delhi government to lay down the duties and functions that must be performed by a personnel posted in a police station to ensure safety of the complainant and the accused in instances where no FIR was registered.
The Delhi High Court today directed the CBI to trace the whereabouts of the founder and spiritual head of a north Delhi-based ashram, being probed by the agency for allegedly confining women and girls like “animals in a cage”.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said Virender Dev Dixit, the founder of the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya in North Delhi’s Rohini area, to be present before it on January 4, the next date of hearing.
The bench also issued a show-cause notice to a woman staying at the ashram, asking why contempt action would not be initiated against her for assaulting the court-appointed committee when it went there to inspect the place.
The court directed the CBI to proceed in accordance with law and ensure that the truth comes out.
It asked the Delhi Police and the AAP government to extend their full cooperation and render every assistance and logistics required by the CBI’s special investigative team (SIT) which is investigating the allegations against the ashram and its founder.
The bench also asked the committee appointed by it to inspect eight other similar centres being run by Dixit in the national capital after the existence of these places was brought to the court’s attention.
It directed that the committee, comprising Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal and advocates Ajay Verma and Nandita Rao, be provided protection by the police and ordered the people running the centres to cooperate and not obstruct the inspection.
The court also sought a report from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) on the age verification tests it will carry out on 41 girls “rescued” from the ashram in Rohini yesterday.
During the hearing, the court also questioned the spirituality imparted at the ashram and the claim of its lawyer that the women and girls were there on their own free will.
“It is a strange setup where hundreds are lodged in closed confines. Where is the concept of free consent or spirit when you are not allowed to meet family or friends or wear what you want to or cannot go out when you want to?
“What kind of spirituality is it when people are kept confined as animals in cages? We do not understand it,” it said.
The bench also noted that the ashram or vidyalaya, which it claimed to be, did not appear to have any legal status as it is neither a registered society as per the law nor a trust or company.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment, which informed the court that several minors and women were allegedly being illegally confined at the “spiritual university” here and were not allowed to meet their parents.
Taking note of the “seriousness and the sensitivity of the matter”, the bench had asked the CBI director to forthwith constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to take charge of all the records and documents pertaining to the case.
The SIT will also investigate the FIRs lodged against the ashram and its founder as well as various allegations against them, the court earlier said.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear today itself a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court order which quashed the government regulation that packets of tobacco products must carry pictorial warning covering 85 per cent of packaging space.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul considered the submission for urgent hearing on the appeals filed against the high court verdict and said it would hear the plea at 3.30 PM.
Several petitions including the one filed by NGO Health for Millions Trust have challenged the high court verdict.
The high court had on December 15 struck down the 2014 amendment rules that mandated pictorial health warnings to cover 85 per cent of tobacco product packaging space, holding that they violated Constitutional norms.
The high court had, however, made it clear that the 40 per cent pictorial health warning rule, which existed prior to the amendment rules, would remain in force.
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014 (COTPA) came into effect from April 1 last year.
In May last year, the Supreme Court had transferred all petitions against the 85 per cent rule filed in various high courts to the Karnataka High Court and asked it to hear and dispose of them.
Passing its orders, the high court had held that the Union Health Ministry does not have any jurisdictional power to make such rules.
From the perspective of tobacco growers, such a rule violated the Right To Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution because there was no connection between the images and the warnings, the high court had observed.
The petitioners, the Tobacco Institute of India and others, had challenged enforcement of the COTPA which required printing of pictorial health warnings covering 85 per cent of tobacco product packages.
The petitioners argued the rules were impractical and would boost smuggling of imported cigarettes.
The tobacco industry had said there was no evidence to show smoking causes the diseases depicted in the “extremely gruesome and unreasonable” pictures.
The bench observed that the rules cannot be made to scare people but to issue notifications.
The industry also said the global average size for graphic health warnings (GHWs) was only about 30 per cent of the principal display area.
The Gauhati High Court today termed as illegal the detention of RTI activist and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi under the National Security Act (NSA).
Justice Achintya Malla Bujar Barua passed the judgment on Gogoi’s detention and that accordingly he was entitled for immediate release if not arrested in any other case.
Gogoi was arrested on September 13 on charges of sedition and 11 days later he was booked under the NSA.
While addressing a rally in Moran town on September 12, Gogoi had allegedly said if Hindu migrants from Bangladesh were forced upon Assam people from the state would be compelled to take up arms. He was arrested the next day.
The detention was challenged before the High Court in a writ petition.
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader has been lodged in Dibrugarh jail since his arrest.
Gogoi has been leading an agitation against the government’s handling of the farming crisis in Assam, the building of dams, land mafia and corruption in public life.
Giving a body blow to the CAG’s and CBI’s estimation of huge loss in grant of 2G licences, a special court today held that some people “artfully” arranged few selected facts and created a scam “when there was none”.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report that created an uproar when the UPA was in power, had estimated that the 2G scam had caused an astronomical loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer.
The CBI had alleged in its charge sheet that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of licences for 2G spectrum, which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who today acquitted former telecom minister A Raja and others in three separate 2G cases, observed that due to various “actions and inactions” of the government officials concerned of the Department of Telecom (DoT), a huge scam was seen by everyone in the entire case.
“However, on account of the various actions and inactions of the officials, as noted above, nobody believed the version of DoT and a huge scam was seen by everyone where there was none. These factors compelled people to conjecture about a big scam,” the court said in its 1,552-page verdict in the CBI’s case involving Raja and others.
“Thus, some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels,” Saini said.
The special judge also said that policy decisions of the DoT were “scattered” in different official files and were thus, difficult to trace and understand.
“These are only a few examples of how policy issues are strewn around here and there in a disorderly manner. Because of this, it becomes very difficult for outside agencies and institutions to understand issues in proper perspective, leaving scope for controversy,” the court noted.
It said that files in the DoT were opened and closed too quickly in an “haphazard manner” even for a small issue and there was no systematic way of dealing with issues in one file in a sequential manner at one place.
It observed that documents relating to one issue were placed or inserted whimsically in any file without any regard for relevance of the issue and it was very difficult to know as to how many files were opened for dealing with a particular issue and why.
“When documents are not traceable easily and readily and policy issues are scattered haphazardly in so many files, it becomes difficult for anyone to understand the issues,” it said.
“Non understanding of issues in proper perspective led to a suspicion of grave wrongdoing, where there was none, at least as per record of the court. This factor greatly contributed to the controversy in the instant case as the DoT could neither effectively communicate the issues to others nor others could understand the same,” the judge said.
Saini said lack of clarity in policies and guidelines also added to the confusion and guidelines were framed in such technical language that meaning of many terms was not clear even to the DoT officers.
The court said when DoT officers themselves did not understand the departmental guidelines and their glossary, how could they blame companies and others for their violation.
“The worst thing is that despite knowing that the meaning of a particular term was ambiguous and may lead to problems, no steps were taken to rectify the situation. This continued year after year,” it said.
The Essar Group today welcomed the judgement of the special court acquitting its promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia in a case arising out of the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
“We are thankful to the court for the judgement as it vindicates our stated position and the court has appreciated it,” an Essar spokesperson said in a statement.
Besides Ruias, the court also acquitted Vikash Saraf, one of the Essar Group Directors, Loop Telecom Promoters I P Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan, three companies– Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile (India) Ltd and Essar Teleholdings Ltd.
While the court had earlier charged them with the offence under section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 420 (cheating) of IPC, substantial charge of cheating was made out against Saraf.
The CBI had named them in its charge sheet on December 12, 2011, alleging they had cheated the Department of Telecommunication by using Loop Telecom as a “front” to secure 2G licences in 2008.