A court here has sentenced a 30-year-old man to three years’ rigorous imprisonment for molesting a teenaged girl last year.
Thane district judge R V Tamhanekar, in his order last Friday, convicted Nadeem Anwar Hussain Ansari, a mechanic from Bhiwandi town, under section 354 (molestation) of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The court also slapped a fine of Rs 7,000 on Ansari.
The prosecution told the court that the accused molested the girl, who was 17 years old then, on May 26, 2018, when she was on the way to her aunt’s house in Bhiwandi.
After the girl raised an alarm, some passers-by caught hold of the accused and handed him to police.
The counsel of the accused urged the court to show leniency and award him minimum punishment, saying Ansari was the sole earning member of his family, which includes his wife, children and aged mother, and they would suffer if he is sent to jail.
The counsel also said the accused regularly attended the court’s hearing and did not have any criminal antecedents.
After hearing both the sides, the judge said the offence against the victim was proven on merit.
“The offence is against the society at large and currently, such crimes are increasing in society. If leniency is shown to the accused, it would send a wrong message to the society,” he said.
Considering submissions of both the parties, the judge sentenced the accused to three years’ rigorous imprisonment, saying “it would meet the ends of justice”.
The Bombay High Court today constituted a two-member committee to look into the repair and maintenance of roads in Maharashtra, observing that despite its several orders, the civic authorities failed to fix potholes and bad roads.
Chief Justice Manjula Chellur said that while the HC did not wish to run the administration for the state government, it felt compelled to interfere in cases where the local authorities failed to discharge their duties.
The committee, comprising justices K R Sriram and G S Kulkarni of the Bombay High Court, will conduct special hearings, pass necessary directions for road repair, and also monitor the implementation of such orders, the bench led by Chief Justice Chellur said.
Despite several benches of the HC having passed detailed orders on improving the condition of roads in the city and elsewhere in the state, and on the urgent need to repair potholes ahead of each monsoon season, the civic bodies had done little to ensure their implementation, it noted.
The common man continued to suffer and each monsoon season brought along tales of civic apathy and public distress in the city, Chief Justice Chellur observed.
She also referred to the death of Dr Deepak Amrapurkar of Bombay Hospital in August this year, after he fell into an open manhole while wading through waterlogged roads to get back home from hospital.
“You (litigants and lawyers) ask for wonderful orders and we pass them too but what is the use if none of our orders are ever implemented.
“Despite one such detailed order (directing authorities to urgently repair potholes and improve the condition of roads in the city) the doctor still died,” Chief Justice Chellur said.
“Try to imagine the state of mind of the common man who is trying to reach home, or to take a loved one to the hospital in heavy rains. You can’t expect him to remember to be careful of potholes in such a situation, it is not easy. So the best thing is to avoid such circumstances and keep the roads in good condition,” she said.
The problem of potholes and bad roads was not limited to Mumbai but was common across the state, the bench said.
The Chief Justice said the local ward officers in each district of the state must identify all roads in need of repair and inform the secretary of the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority (MLSA) of the same.
The MLSA’s secretary in-turn will prepare a report on the condition of roads, the need for repair, steps taken by civic bodies concerned and submit the same before the two-member committee.
On the last hearing on August 3 this year, the high court had appointed the MLSA secretary as the nodal officer to receive grievances related to bad roads and potholes from the public and ward officers across the state.
The court was informed today that since the last hearing, the MLSA has only received 180 complaints from citizens.
The bench directed MLSA to publicise the formation of such a nodal authority and to encourage citizens to share their grievances and complaints of bad roads.
“I personally do not even commute on these roads that are potholed or in need of repair. But I have to take up the cause for the common man,” she said.
“It is the duty and the obligation of the local authorities to repair and maintain roads. But when they fail to discharge this duty, this court feels very unhappy and is forced to interfere,” she further said.
A court in Kalyan has rejected bail applications of the 12 accused in the multi-crore petrol pump fraud case, police said today.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) Mukund Hatote told PTI that the court on Friday rejected bail pleas filed by the 12 accused.
District and Additional Sessions Judge N M Waghmare also rejected anticipatory bail applications filed by the remaining 36 accused.
In June last year, the Crime Branch of Thane police unearthed the racket in dispensing of petrol at the pumps, which was done by tampering with dispensing machines.
The Thane police had also raided petrol pumps in 21 districts of Maharashtra and two petrol pumps in Odisha.
Police had then registered a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and The Motor Spirit and High Speed Diesel (Regulation of Supply, distribution and Prevention of Malpractice) order of 2005 and Essential Commodities Act 1955.
Subsequently 12 persons were arrested. They filed the bail applications, which were disposed of on Friday, the officer added.
Explaining the modus operandi, Hatota said the accused connived and tampered with dispensing machines at petrol pumps by converting the pulser card, mother board, control card, and keypad and dispensed less petrol and diesel to customers.
A Maharashtra court today deferred till October 27 framing of charges against Rahul Gandhi in the defamation case filed against him by an RSS worker regarding his alleged statement about Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, a lawyer representing the Congress vice president said.
Magistrate Tushar Vaze was likely to frame charges today, but the matter was adjourned as Rahul Gandhi could not appear.
The court in Thane accepted the Congress leader’s plea for exemption from appearance, the lawyer said.
Framing of charges is a stage before the start of trial.
Advocate Narayan Iyer, Rahul Gandhi’s lawyer, told the court that his client could not remain present today as a Parliament session is underway and he has to also attend a meeting in Chhattisgarh.
The court granted the Congress leader exemption today and adjourned the hearing to October 27, Iyer said.
The case against Rahul Gandhi was filed by a local RSS functionary, Rajesh Kunte, over the Congress leader’s speech at Bhiwandi in Thane district on March 6, 2014 in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
During the rally, Rahul allegedly said, “The RSS people had killed (Mahatma) Gandhi.”
He had said he was ready to face trial after the Supreme Court refused to interfere in the criminal proceedings at Bhiwandi court.
The Maharashtra government today assured the Bombay High Court that it was taking adequate steps to keep a check on private nursing homes and hospitals being operated without proper licenses across the state.
The government made this submission in its affidavit, filed today in response to a public interest lawsuit filed by Pune resident Atul Bhosale raising concerns over increasing number of illegal nursing homes and hospitals.
The government in its affidavit said random inspections are carried out in all nursing homes and hospitals in the state by a team of officers from departments of police, revenue, health and the food and drugs.
“The state health minister has issued letters to guardian ministers (of various districts), MLAs, MLCs, mayors and zilla parishad presidents for implementation of various activities to improve the sex ratio,” the affidavit said.
It stated the government is also giving publicity to its ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ programme.
As per the affidavit, an inspection of nursing homes and hospitals was launched for a month in March this year during which 3,795 private nursing homes and hospitals were found to be violating provisions of the various acts.
The affidavit said appropriate action will be taken against the errant hospitals and nursing homes.
On the incident of 19 foetuses found dumped in plastic bags in Sangli district early this year, the affidavit said appropriate action has been taken against the concerned hospital and its owners. It stated that FIR has been lodged and the accused persons have been arrested.
“The state authority has sealed Bharati Hospital premises owned by one Balasaheb Khidrapure. The minister of public health and family welfare, additional chief secretary of Public Health Department and Health Services director visited the area (Sangli) and have given further instructions to the Dean of the Civil hospital there to give all support to the police probe,” the affidavit said.
The Supreme Court today pulled up the governments of drought-hit states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka for not appointing state food commissions or making them operational.
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and N V Ramana, which had summoned the Chief Secretaries of ten states on the issue, directed that the state food commissions must be appointed as per the provisions of the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The apex court pulled up Madhya Pradesh government for not appointing the members of the commission so far and said the “state is following a new procedure for selecting members by way of advertisements”.
The bench’s observation came when the state’s chief secretary said they have issued a notification for appointment of the commission on April 11 and selection of its members through an advertisement.
“Under what provisions of law have you issued notification for selection of members of commission? Is it a new procedure Madhya Pradesh has been following or are you following the precedent? Do you issue advertisements for selection of Chief Secretary or other departmental secretaries or for that matter cabinet ministers,” the bench asked.
The Madhya Pradesh counsel said it was a matter of transparency and once the application from interested candidates are received, these will be sorted by a committee headed by Chief Secretary and then sent to the Chief Minister.
To this, the bench observed that it feels that the state was not serious about appointing the commission.
“There are ways to circumvent law and it is unfortunate that senior officials are doing this,” it said, directing the Chief Secretary to be present on the next date of hearing in July.
The order came on a plea filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking reliefs for farmers in drought affected states.
With regard to Maharashtra, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the state said they had appointed five members of the commission but two members from SC/ST are yet to be appointed.
“This is extremely unfortunate that the deprived sections of society are being treated this way. You are not able to find two appropriate persons from the SC/ST community in the entire state,” the bench asked and directed Maharashtra Chief Secretary to appear before it again in the next hearing.
The apex court also pulled up Bihar government for not appointing two members of the commission, asking whether it thought that food for the people was not important.
“You have made appointment of five members. Why have you not made appointment of other two members till now? Do you think people of Bihar do not need food or do you think food for the people of Bihar is not important,” the bench said.
Bihar Chief Secretary said the appointment of the two other members will be done in two weeks and it was not done so far as no suitable candidates were found by the selection committee.
The apex court was told by Andhra Pradesh that though the selection committee has been constituted after the notification was issued on April 17 and the members of the commission will be appointed in six months.
Dissatisfied by the response, the bench asked the AP Chief Secretary also to be present on the next date of hearing and inform on the status of the food commission there.
The Chief Secretary of Karnataka government, who failed to appear, was directed by the bench to appear before it tomorrow.
With regard to Haryana, the apex court directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court to expeditiously decide a plea pending with it.
The bench, granted exemption to Chief Secretary of Chattisgarh due to the recent Naxal attack in which 25 CRPF jawans were killed and recorded that the commission has been appointed.
The bench also took on record the statements of chief secretaries of Gujarat, Jharkhand and Telangana that appointments to the state food commission have been done.
The hearing remained inconclusive and the bench posted the matter for tomorrow for further hearing on issues like MNREGA, crop loss, loan restructuring in the drought-hit states.
The apex court had on March 22, summoned the Chief Secretaries of ten such states for failing to implement the NFSA. It had said that with regard to the statute, the state governments have to appoint the food commission and cannot give a “go by to the statute enacted by the Parliament”.
The court had also impleaded the Reserve Bank of India as a party to the case as the guidelines issued for loan waiver and loan restructuring of farmers of drought-hit areas were not being implemented by the banks.
The PIL has claimed that parts of 12 states– Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh — were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.
The petitioners had claimed before the court that the directions issued by it in the matter were not complied with by these states.
App-based car service provider Uber India has approached the Bombay High Court seeking Rs 12 crore in damages from taxi owners and drivers associations for harming its reputation and livelihood of drivers by protesting against the company.
In its suit, Uber India Systems Pvt Ltd also sought an injunction restraining the defendants from stopping Uber drivers to work, alleging that they were being “verbally abused, physically assaulted and threatened”.
The suit names Sangharsh Tourist Chalak Malak Sangh, an association of taxi owners and drivers, Action Committee of Maharashtra against Ola and Uber, Mumbai Vikas Foundation, All Drivers Welfare Association and Maharashtra Tourist Permit Union.
“The defendants are deliberately, unlawfully and wrongfully resorting to violence and intimidation under the garb of strikes and protests in Mumbai and thereby restraining drivers associated with the plaintiff’s mobile App from operating and pursuing livelihood,” the suit said.
It further alleged that the defendants have been engaged in “actively inciting” drivers of Uber to go on strike and protest against the company.
“The defendants have been hampering the legitimate business of plaintiffs (Uber) by interfering in their operations quite extensively across the city of Mumbai. They have been indulging in threats to the driver partners of Uber, in the event they wilfully continue to drive using the Uber App,” the suit alleged.
The suit referred to a protest held by the taxi owners and drivers associations at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai in March this year when several Uber cars were allegedly damaged and their customers and drivers were threatened with dire consequences.
“The mobile devices (with Uber App) of the driver partners of Uber were forcibly snatched and their vehicles were damaged. The defendants even forced the passengers out of the vehicles where trips were being taken through the Uber App, verbally abused, physically assaulted and threatened the Driver Partners of dire consequences,” the suit claims.
The company has also claimed that a total of 830 incidents have been reported wherein either the driver or the passengers have been harassed.
“As the magnitude of such protests are only increasing, the plaintiffs anticipate further losses. Hence the company seeks the court to grant injunction restraining the defendants from stopping Uber drivers to work,” the suit said.
“The plaintiffs further seek a direction to the defendants to pay a sum of Rs 12.41 crores as damages to business, reputation and goodwill of Uber,” the suit said.
The suit is likely to be heard by Justice S J Kathawalla in due course.
A policeman from Maharashtra, who was suspended for not adhering to no-beard policy of the state reserve force, has not agreed to the offer of the Supreme Court that it would revoke his suspension if he shaves.
Zahiroddin Shamsoddin Bedade had approached the top court in 2013 after the Bombay High Court did not find fault with the suspension order.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, while refusing an urgent hearing in the matter, said it felt sorry for him and will allow him to join back if he agrees to keep the beard only during religious periods.
“It’s your choice,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, said but the counsel for Bedade refused the offer saying there was no concept of temporary beard in Islam.
Bedade, who was appointed as a constable in the State Reserve Police Force, had applied for and was granted permission to grow his beard in 2012.
However, his permission was revoked in keeping with the new amendments made to the Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force’s policy.
The high court had said that he could keep the beard only during religious period and the force was a secular agency and discipline required him to stick to secular rules.
Challenging the high court’s order, he approached the apex court.
On December 15 last year, the apex court had also dealt with a similar petition filed by IAF official Mohammad Zubair in which it ruled that unless keeping a beard was an integral part of one’s religion such as in the Sikh community no personnel could be allowed to grow a beard.
The Bombay High Court today directed the resident doctors, who are abstaining from duty in various hospitals across Maharashtra for the last four days, to resume work immediately.
The high court said the issues and demands of the doctors can be amicably resolved with the state government.
The court also directed the government and the management of various hospitals not to take any punitive action against the doctors who were served notice yesterday for not resuming their duties.
Nearly 4,000 resident doctors are staying away from work since Monday, demanding enhanced security in the wake of a string of attacks on doctors by patients’ relatives at government hospitals across the state.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni was today hearing a petition filed by activist Afak Mandaviya seeking action against the protesting doctors.
“The doctors will have to first go and resume their duty. All other issues can be amicably sorted out gradually,” Chief Justice Chellur said.
“We understand that the doctors are working in strained and horrible conditions sometimes, but we request them to resume work immediately,” she said.
The bench said that the doctors can sit with the government and also the state-appointed committee and resolve their disputes.
State Advocate General Rohit Deo informed the HC that the government has decided to deploy an additional 1,100 armed police personnel from Maharashtra State Security Corporation in all the state and civic-run hospitals.
“The first lot of 500 police personnel will be deployed at hospitals in Mumbai on April 5. The remaining 600 will be deployed at hospitals across the state by April 30,” he said.
“This will be in addition to the already deployed policemen at the hospitals,” Deo said.
The court accepted this statement and asked the doctors to resume work.
“You (doctors) resume work and see if everything is done as assured by the government. We will hear the matter every fortnight and supervise the issue,” the judges said.
The high court further observed that in the past too the government had made assurances but still the doctors have gone on protest.
“There must be something amiss then. But the doctors should also not resort to such drastic steps. Some amicable solution needs to be arrived at,” Justice Kulkarni said.
The Bombay High Court today said Maharashtra’s progress and prosperity is pointless when 50 per cent of children in the state are malnourished and below the poverty line.
The court also observed that the government has not taken any serious steps to address the problem.
A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P R Bora was hearing a bunch of PILs highlighting increasing instances of malnutrition-related deaths and illness among those living in Melghat region of Vidarbha and other tribal areas.
“In our state, the children’s population must be over 40 crore. Out of this, 50 per cent children are below poverty line and suffering from malnourishment. What is the point of prosperity and progress in the state when this is the situation,” Justice Kanade observed.
The court further said the state government ought to make separate allocation of funds to address the issue in the upcoming budget session.
The court has posted the petitions for further hearing on March 1, when the secretaries of Women and Child Welfare department and the Tribal Welfare department will have to submit power-point presentations to HC on how they propose to tackle the problem and what measures will be undertaken.
The court had earlier too come down heavily on the government for failing to initiate steps to solve the problem, and had said the concerned ministers will have to take more interest.