High Court asks cricket body if it will seek extra water for IPL pitches, ground

The Bombay High Court today sought to know from the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) if it would seek additional water supply from the Pune civic body for ground and pitch maintenance for six IPL matches shifted to that city from Chennai.

The MCA stadium at Gahunje in Pune will host the remaining six ‘home’ matches of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) after these were shifted from the southern city following protests over the Cauvery water-sharing issue in the Tamil Nadu capital.

A division bench of justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla sought the MCA response while hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Loksatta Movement in 2016.

Opposing holding of IPL matches in Maharashtra, the NGO had raised concerns over water usage for ground management at a time when the state was reeling under drought.

The bench was today informed by the petitioner’s lawyer that while originally 11 matches were to be played in Maharashtra during the ongoing IPL, six games, which were to be played in Chennai, have now been shifted to Pune.

The lawyer argued that the Pune city and rural areas of the district were already facing water shortage.

The judges then sought to know from the MCA, which manages the stadium, if it would be seeking more water than what is being already supplied to it by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Last week, the high court had posed the same query to the Mumbai Cricket Association, which manages the Wankhede stadium, another IPL venue.

The court had asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) if it would supply additional water to the stadium in South Mumbai.

The BMC today filed an affidavit, saying no special water supply would be given to the stadium.

The court posted the petition for further hearing on April 18.

The M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was the home ground of the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK. The IPL franchise played its first home match on April 10 against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Political parties and other groups in Tamil Nadu had demanded that all the IPL matches scheduled in Chennai be cancelled till the Centre forms the Cauvery Water Management Board. They held protests in support of their demand.

The Supreme Court had on February 16 pronounced its verdict on the Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

“The matches had to be shifted out of Chennai as police had said that they were unable to provide security in the prevailing situation” IPL Chairman Rajv Shukla had said on April 12.

Supreme Court junks plea to nationalise rivers

The Supreme Court today junked a plea seeking nationalisation of all the rivers and dams in the country and handing over their operation and control to the Centre.

A bench of Chief Justice Diak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud dismissed the plea, saying it cannot nationalise all the rivers and order interlinking of rivers just because some states are fighting over it.

The plea seeking nationalisation of all the rivers and water resources had been made to the apex court by Tamil Nadu Centre For Public Interest Litigation.

“Direct the state and the Union Territories where all water resources like rivers, dams administrative operation, control and maintaining be done by Union of India and not by the state governments,” the plea said

Fitness certificate to vehicle without independent test illegal: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court today said the Maharashtra government’s practice of issuing fitness certificates to private vehicles without conducting an independent test was illegal and in breach of its previous orders.

Therefore, the state government must take a decision on amending its rules and circulars on the issue and inform the court of its decision, a bench of justices A S Oka and R I Chagla said.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Shrikant Karve, a Right to Information (RTI) activist from Pune.

Karve alleged that officials at various regional transport offices (RTOs) across the state had been granting fake fitness certificates, or registration certificates, to private as well as transport vehicles without subjecting the vehicles to mandatory fitness tests first.

On a previous hearing, another bench led by Justice Oka had held that since under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the registration of vehicles is treated as valid only if it had a valid certificate of fitness, such vehicles that did not have a fitness certificate must be deemed as unregistered, and thus, not permitted to be driven at all.

However, the court was informed recently that the Maharashtra government had been granting registration to new vehicles without the fitness certificate.

The state’s counsel, Abhinandan Vagyani, had told the court that this was being done since all new vehicles were already checked for fitness by the manufacturers before delivery.

The bench, however, held today that the state’s stand was contrary to provisions of the law, and hence, illegal.

A fitness certificate is an official document certifying that the holder’s vehicle is fit for being driven in public places.

As per the Motor Vehicles Act, a vehicle must have a fitness certificate issued by the manufacturer, and also, another fitness certificate issued by the state RTO authorities after the inspection of its condition, its pollution certificate, tax, insurance, and other such details.

“Since under the Act, the registration of vehicle is treated as valid only if it has valid certificate of fitness from the manufacturer and the inspecting authority, the state’s stand that a vehicle can be granted registration merely on the basis of the date of its manufacture is illegal,” the high court said.

“It (the state’s stand) is also in breach of the law and the previous orders of this court,” it further said.

The bench held that in granting new registration certificates without proper fitness certificates and merely on the basis of the manufacturers’ certificates, the state was harming the interest of several people.

The court has now directed the state to take a decision on amending its current practice in view of its observations, by April 25 this year.

CBI Director dragged into another controversy in SC on 2G scam

CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was today at the centre of a controversy with an NGO telling the Supreme Court that entry register of his residence portrays a “very disturbing” and “explosive material” coming in the way of administration of justice in 2G spectrum allocation scam.

The issue was raised by the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), one of the PIL petitioners on whose plea 122 licences for 2G spectrum were cancelled by the apex court.

The apex court stopped the NGO’s counsel from reading out his note on the issue after CBI counsel raised objections to making the content of the register public in open court and agreed to hear it on Thursday.

“If you can give the copy of the material to us, CBI and Director’s counsel, we can take up the matter day after tomorrow,” a bench comprising Justices H L Dattu, S A Bobde and A M Sapre said.

CPIL’s counsel Prashant Bhushan started the submission by stating that after disturbing development of keeping the DIG Santosh Rastogi out of the invvestigation of 2G spectrum which was rectified on apex court’s intervention and during the pendency of an application seeking recusal of Sinha from the spectrum matter, another “very disturbing” thing has happened.

“Last night I came across very disturbing and explosive material. The entry register of Director’s residence,” Bhushan said and referred to a news report which claimed that top executives of a company indicted in 2G scam met CBI Director at his residence in the last 15 months.

While CPIL counsel was reading his note, senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI intervened and asked the bench to pass an order that all materials be placed before the court in a sealed envelope.CBI Director Ranjit Sinha

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who was appearing in a 2G related matter for DMK MP Kanimozhi, one of the accused in the scam, came to the defence of CBI Director by saying that “he is performing his duty well but all kinds of allegations are being levelled.”

Sinha deputed senior advocate Vikas Singh, who said allegations are being made and it appears that attempts are being made to destroy CBI as an institution.

Jethmalani said everytime Bhushan comes out with notes the CPIL should be asked to make its submission through affidavit.

The bench asked CPIL to make its submission by way of affidavit and posted the hearing on Thursday when it will also hear the NGO’s application seeking recusal of Sinha from all 2G matters allegedly for trying to protect some influential accused in the scam.

The NGO alleged that the “Director has made serious attempts to derail the investigation and prosecution being carried out by the CBI”.

SC seeks EC reply on plea against ward-wise vote count

supreme courtThe Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of the Election Commission (EC) on a plea seeking stoppage of ward-wise counting of votes on the ground that the declaration of result of every polling booth strikes at the root of right to privacy attached to voting.

A bench comprising justices Dipak Mishra and N V Ramana issued notice to the EC and sought its reply by May 21 on a proposal that the result of every parliamentary constituency be declared as a whole and not through ward-wise counting of votes of every electronic voting machine (EVM).

The petition said, “The result of every EVM must not be disclosed.”

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Punjab-based advocate Yogesh Gupta submitting that “the uniform way of declaration of result for the entire constituency as a whole would bring balanced growth and balanced funding and it would also reduce cases fuelled by political vendetta, ill will and hatred”.

The petition, which has come four days ahead of the counting of votes for ongoing Lok Sabha election, said the result is again going to be declared by announcing the outcome of every EVM which would lead to adverse impact on the voters as the political parties would harass the electorate in areas where it has not received the votes.

(Source: PTI)


PIL seeks probe in Congress, BJP’s foreign funding

PILA public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a probe into foreign contributions made to the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was Wednesday filed in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court (HC).

The petition was filed by social activist and a member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Nutan Thakur.

Welcoming the probe ordered by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde into AAP’s foreign contribution accounts, she demanded similar exercise for other politicial parties as well.

“Ordering the probe when the process of Delhi assembly polls is underway is extremely suspicious and one-sided,” Thakur told IANS.

She also said that in October 2012 she had sent a complaint to the home ministry seeking probe into the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 by the Congress and BJP in receiving donations of about Rs.5 crore each from Vedanta Group subsidiaries and Sesa Goa, but no action was initiated in these complaints.


PIL against subsidised liquor to defence personnel

A public interest litigation (PIL) was Friday filed before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court against supply of heavily subsidised alcoholic drinks to defence and paramilitary forces.

In the PIL, social activist Nutan Thakur and her husband Amitabh Thakur said while they welcome provision of subsidised food items and household goods to these people, they oppose grant of subsidised liquor at the cost of the public exchequer.

“It hardly seems to be based on any functional requirement and also has detrimental effect on them other than misuse of public money,” Nutan Thakur told IANS.

The petition also questions the rank-based grant of liquor where subordinate staff get four bottles per month while officers are entitled to 10 and 14 bottles, depending on seniority.

The duo said this discriminatory grant of liquor makes it clear it is not based on any functional utility but is an additional unwarranted perk.

The two have hence prayed that a high-level committee study the issue and stop all unwarranted provision of liquor.

(Source: IANS)

Court notice to centre; Reliance on gas price

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre, Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) on a public interest litigation petition challenging the government’s decision to double the price to $8.4 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) for gas produced from the KG basin.

A Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi also issued notice to the Petroleum Ministry, NIKO Resources Ltd and BP Exploration (Alpha) Limited on the plea filed by CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta and the former Power Secretary, E.A.S. Sarma.

Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, said the decision to raise gas price should be reviewed as the Minister had overruled the opinion of senior officers of his ministry and his predecessor. When Justice Sathasivam wanted to know “why the parties can’t go for arbitration,” counsel pointed out that the Minister had given a statement that he wanted to junk arbitration and that the government would not proceed with the process.

Counsel alleged that the Minister “bats for Reliance” and had overruled the decision of the Director-General of Hydro Carbons to impose a fine on it.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Reliance Industries, however, said, “We want arbitration to go on. We will file an application for appointment of the third arbitrator.”

Justice Sathasivam told counsel “It [PIL petition] requires examination. When a Member of Parliament comes and makes an assertion it cannot be decided at the admission stage. We are not expressing any opinion at this stage.”

“Illegal, mala fide’

The petitioners said the government had acted illegally, unreasonably, irrationally and with mala fide in granting excessive benefits to the respondents, thereby virtually bankrupting the exchequer and adversely affecting the Indian economy as a whole. The contractors allegedly incurred investment costs for the full capacity of 80 MMSCMD and recovered all these costs and perhaps more from the government through the sale of gas priced at $4.2 per mmbtu. Simultaneously, the contractors deliberately reduced production, thus holding the country to ransom at a time when gas demand far outstripped supply. By June 2013, only 9 out of 18 wells were in production and gas sales were only 18% of the target of 80 MMSCMD. The reduction was done in anticipation of a price rise and this was confirmed by government’s announcement that from April 2014 the price would be increased to $8.4 mmbtu.

“RIL, which had gone in for arbitration, had already recovered this amount from the sale of natural gas. They appointed Justice S.P. Bharucha as their arbitrator. The government appointed Justice V.N. Khare as its arbitrator. Both judges met and were in the process of appointing the third arbitrator in October 2012 but could not do so.” RIL would be sitting pretty if the arbitration was not proceeded with. “It is the government which stands to lose up to $ 2.4 billion by the end of the current year, by not proceeding with the arbitration. The Petroleum Ministry is deliberately not proceeding with arbitration to allow RIL to get away without paying penalties for the shortfall in production.”

The petitioners sought a direction to RIL and NIKO to forthwith relinquish those areas of the KG basin as recommended by CAG; to appoint a third arbitrator (umpire) and to proceed with arbitration expeditiously and complete it within six months; to fix the price of domestically produced gas in rupees, and not in dollars or any other currency, and to stay the doubling of the gas price.

(Source: IANS)

Court notices to centre, Reliance on gas price

Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the centre and Reliance Industries on a public interest litigation seeking review of the recent government decision to hike from 2014 the gas prices from $4.2 to $8.4 million British thermal unit (mmBtu).

The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam issued notice on the PIL by CPI leader and senior parliamentarian Gurudas Dasgupta contending that the government decided to hike the gas prices without taking into account its disastrous consequences on the country’s economy, particularly power and the fertilizer sector.

Mr. Dasgupta has contended that the price hike was decided even when five cabinet ranking ministers had opposed the move.

The PIL sought the enforcement of relinquishment laws by which government should reclaim 80 percent of the KG Basin gas field that has not been utilised by Reliance.

Directing the listing of the matter Sep 6, senior counsel Harish Salve accepted notice on behalf of Reliance. Notices are returnable in four weeks.

(Source: IANS)

SC dismisses PIL seeking curbs on sale of Ranbaxy drugs

The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed a petition for prohibiting Ranbaxy from producing and marketing its alleged “adulterated” medicines in the Indian market in the wake of reports of the pharma major having sold misbranded drugs in the US.

A bench of Justice A.K.Patnaik and Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by advocate M.L. Sharma, asking him to produce the material to show that drugs being marketed by the pharma major were substandard.

Holding that the courts could not be used for publicity, the court said: “You can’t rely on newspaper reports. What is a relevant material in USA can’t be relied upon in India.”

“You show us some material to show that the drugs produced by Ranbaxy are misbranded, spurious or adulterated and they are harmful to people in India,” the court said.

Justice Patnaik said: “Unless you show these materials, we can’t interfere on PIL based on newspaper reports for the sake of publicity.”

Dismissing the PIL, the court, however, granted liberty to Sharma to move a fresh petition if he gets new material to support his contention.

When the court took up the matter for hearing June 10, it had sought proof that the alleged adulterated drugs that were sold in US were being marketed in India too and were part of same consignment.

In the wake of Ranbaxy’s $555 million out-of-court settlement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for falsifying data and selling substandard drugs, Sharma moved the apex court seeking direction to the central government to prohibit the production and marketing of substandard drugs by Ranbaxy in India.

(Source: IANS)