Wealthy wife ordered to pay maintenance to husband

Invoking the principle of gender equality, the Delhi High Court Thursday upheld a lower court order asking a woman, who runs a business with an annual turnover of about Rs.1 crore, to pay monthly maintenance of Rs.20,000 to her estranged, unemployed husband.

Justice G.S. Sistani upheld the trial court order of 2009 that awarded maintenance to Rajeev (name changed).

‘He should also enjoy the same status as his wife,’ Justice Sistani said.

He directed Priya (name changed) to pay Rs.20,000 per month to Rajeev, in addition to a Maruti Zen Car.

‘Law is equal for both of them. When husband is unemployed then the wife, who is working, should maintain him,’ said the court.

Priya had challenged the trial court order, saying a monthly payment of Rs.20,000 was on the higher side.

The couple married in 1982 and have a son and a daughter aged 26 and 24 years respectively.

Rajeev’s lawyer Bhupendra Pratap Singh has alleged that Priya and his children threw his client out of their home in 2006 after accusing him of having an affair with another woman.

‘The court also rejected Priya’s plea that as she was already looking after their children, she should be exempted from paying her husband a monthly maintenance,’ Singh said.

The court considered Priya’s flourishing business of a hotel cum paying guest in Greater Noida while fixing the maintenance.

Singh said Rajeev had purchased the hotel in his wife’s name.

‘Priya tactfully named herself as the first party in the business and property and threw him out after levelling baseless accusations,’ he said.

Rajeev had filed for divorce in 2008 in the trial court on the grounds of desertion. He later filed a maintenance plea under section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act

More detailed pollution check ordered at Tuticorin plant

The Supreme Court Friday asked the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to carry out a ‘more detailed inspection’ of the pollution allegedly being caused by a Tuticorin-based copper smelting plant.

The smelting plant belongs to Sterlite Industries.

Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik asked NEERI to carry out detailed inspection with reference to its own earlier report and that of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

The court said the institute will carry out the inspection after notifying CPCB, TNPCB and the petitioner. The court, however, noted that the earlier report of NEERI was itself conflicting.

The apex court also ordered the inspection by NEERI after it observed that there were conflicting reports by CPCB and TNPCB.

When senior counsel C.S. Sundram argued against the TNPCB report and the assertion of the petitioner, the court observed: ‘One way could be to close the company for some time and see the effect.’

The apex court by its earlier interim order of Oct 1, 2010, had stayed the operation of Madras High Court order directing the closure of the Starlite Copper Smelting plant. The high court by it Sep 28, 2010 order had directed the immediate closure of the plant.

In the course of the hearing, CPCB contended that by increasing the height of the plant’s chimneys the harmful effect of the harmful gases could be taken care of.

Justice Raveendran asked the CPCB counsel how could that be done by increasing the height of the chimneys from 50 feet to 100 feet.

When the court was told that the findings by CPCB too were by experts, the court observed that ‘at times even experts do take sides’.

The apex court was also told that the emission of gases was seriously affecting the health of the people and the crop in the area.

Sundram pointed out that the sample tests revealed there was no copper in the residue of the copper ore.

The court then observed: ‘How can it be there you have extracted the entire copper from it.’

Tuticorn-based Sterlite Industries gets its copper ore from Australia which is smelted in Tamil Nadu for further use.

Justice Patnaik remarked: ‘New thinking in the Western world is not to have smelting or big industry in their own country and set them up in India.’

NGO ordered to pay Rs.75,000 for transparency law abuse

The Delhi High Court Wednesday imposed a cost of Rs.75,000 on an NGO which had sought an inquiry into the role of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) engineers in the alleged mismanagement of Commonwealth Games (CWG) projects.

The court dismissed the petition after the MCD submitted that the petitioner NGO, Pardarshita Public Welfare Foundation, had questioned the parentage of the engineers through a Right to Information (RTI) application.

Dismissing the petition, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan said the present petition amounted to abuse of law.

‘Seeking information about the parentage of a person and his medical history is unwarranted and uncalled for. (Such) information is bound to create a storm in anybody’s mind,’ said the bench.

The bench said that the RTI law was not enacted for abusing people and seeking personal details.

While dismissing the petition, the court directed the petitioner NGO to deposit the cost of Rs.75,000 within a period of four weeks.

In its petition, the NGO alleged engineers of the MCD indulged in corrupt practices in connection with the several projects of the Commonwealth Games.

It alleged that several MCD engineers misused public money for personal gains.

‘According to the NGO, several letters were written to the officials of the MCD but no action was taken. Allegations have been made against the officials but without any grounds,’ said the bench.

The court also took strong cognizance of the RTI application filed by Har Kishan Das Nijhawan, general secretary of the NGO, asking an MCD engineer about his parentage.

He also asked whether the civic agency’s engineers were suffering from any sexual disorders, whether they had carried out a DNA test for their mother, whether their mother was a surrogate mother or step mother, and also sought the name of their biological father and step mother.

‘It’s an abuse of provisions under the RTI Act. We cannot give any type of clean chit to the MCD engineer, but the information which has been asked by the petitioner exposes vindictive attitude,’ said the bench.

The petitioner defended his move and said that the engineers were blackmailing him and also used unparliamentary language against him, so he asked certain questions through his RTI application.

The court rejected the contention saying that the petitioner could have filed a complaint against such people instead of abusing the process of law.

Contempt proceedings ordered against Kerala CPI-M leader

The Kerala High Court Tuesday ordered contempt proceedings against senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader M.V. Jayarajan for his outburst against judges in July.

A three-member full bench comprising Chief Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice A.K. Basheer and Justice K.M. Joseph ordered this while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL).

Jayarajan, 50, while speaking at a public meeting in July, criticised high court judges for ruling that no public meetings should be held on roads.

The court Tuesday was hearing a PIL filed by P. Rahim demanding contempt proceedings against the CPI-M leader for his outburst against judges.

The court said that contempt proceedings will begin against Jayarajan and its order should be seen as a notice to him.

Jayarajan, who hails from Kannur, is a two-time legislator of the CPI-M.

The bench also said that this case would now be taken up in a division bench headed by Chief Justice Chelameswar.

Reacting to court’ ruling Tuesday, Jayarajan said that he is yet to get any notice to this effect.

“Once I get the notice, I will also seek legal advice and face the situation. All what I said was that I stand for the common man and his right to move freely on roads and also hold meetings which do not affect free movement of people,” said Jayarajan.

In July, top CPI-M leaders verbally attacked high judges on more than one occasion.

A division bench headed by the chief justice took strong exception to this and said that criticizing judgments was understandable but attacking judges personally did not augur well for democracy.