DU gets notice over four-year undergraduate programme

A notice has been issued by the High court to the University of Delhi on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging its proposed four-year undergraduate programme with multiple degrees in its present form.

A division bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Jayant Nath sought a response from the university by May 15.

The proposed course, if introduced in present form, will cause “irreparable loss” to students with impaired vision, advocate Pankaj Sinha, appearing for the petitioner NGO Sambhavana, according to the court.

The Delhi University is to implement the four-year undergraduate programme from its next academic session in July this year.

Sambhavana, which works for the welfare of disabled students, said: “If the four-year undergraduate programme with multiple degree is introduced in present form, the students with vision impairment will suffer irreparable loss as they shall not be able to participate in the mainstream education system.”

“Students with visual impairment are presently exempted from studying science and maths after Class 8 in some cases and after Class 10 in most of the cases,” the NGO pointed out.

“In case the existing approved programme is implemented, such students shall not be able to meet the requirements of the foundation course in the first year of the four-year undergraduate programme which contains a bouquet of 11 courses, including Building Mathematical Ability and Science and Life as mandatory,” mentioned in the petition.

It asked the court to direct Delhi University to introduce a “bridge course programme” for maths and science for students with vision impairment so they could also be given a level-playing field to pursue the foundation course as prescribed in the first year.

The petition said: “A large number of students with vision impairment seek admission in Delhi University every year. They cannot be deprived of studying the foundation course on an equal basis with other students. Therefore, a provision of the bridge course should be followed by the foundation course in second year of the said programme.”

“The four-year undergraduate programme with multiple degree does not take into consideration the concern of the students with vision impairment, therefore, the same is arbitrary and illegal, hence discriminatory,” according to it.

Saradha scam: WB Govt submits an affidavit in Calcutta HC

An affidavit has been submitted by the West Bengal government to Calcutta High Court, stating the progress of investigation into the chit fund crisis, generated by Saradha Group.

Government lawyer Asoke Banerjee explained the stand of the state government on the crisis placing the affidavit before the bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishara and Justice Joymalya Bagchi.

The bench had ordered for an affidavit on a public interest litigation filed by resident of the city Anindya Sunder Das, seeking a CBI probe into the chit fund crisis.

Subrata Mukherjee, petitioner’s lawyer, argued before the court that the government had not sent affidavit to the opposition as it was deliberately trying to delay the process of hearing of the suit to avoid CBI inquiry.

Government lawyer Mr Banerjee contested the argument saying the government’s was being tarnished and ‘ the government has no intention to divert attention of the court or delay the process of investigation ‘.

CBI, however, informed the court that it was prepared to take up the investigation in the chit fund scam that had wiped away savings of thousands of depositors.

Delhi HC issues notice to Delhi Govt, L-G on PIL to amend RTE Act

Notice to the Lt Governor and Delhi government has been issued by the Delhi High Court on a PIL seeking amendment in nursery admission procedure.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Jayant Nath (appointed yesterday) issued notice to the Lt Governor and Delhi Government on a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO and asked them to reply by July 17.

The petitioner has sought to amend clause 14 of the recognised schools (Admission Procedure for pre-primary class) order 2007 to bring it on the lines of section 13 read with section 2(O) of the RTE Act 2009 which clearly prohibits screening of children for admission into schools.

The petitioner said allowing private schools to formulate their own guidelines for admission of children to nursery/pre nursery is contrary to the Section 13 read with 2(0) of the Right to Education Act and frustrates its entire objective to give education to children.

The petitioner argued that since most of the schools admit children to pre-nursery and nursery classes at the entry level and then promote them to the elementary classes therefore the clause should be amended so that a uniform pattern can be adopted during admissions to schools by all alike.

The petitioner argued that since the RTE Act is not applicable on children below the age of six years there should be separate criteria for admissions of children of 0- 14 years.

The High Court had also held on February 2 last that the Delhi Government should consider the lacuna that children between 0-14 have not been covered under the Right to Education Act and some provisions should be made so that these children are not left out.

The petitioner asked the court to intervene so that a uniform policy is enacted for the purpose of giving admission to the reserved category of poor and under-privileged children in nursery or pre-nursery classes at the entry level itself.

Will make guidelines to regulate sale of junk food – Centre to Delhi HC

Union Government has been informed by the Delhi High court that guidelines on  regulating junk food and aerated drinks to be sold in and around schools will be soon be completed and will be out by July-end this year.

Appearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Jayant Nath, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeeve Mehra said private firm AC Nielsen QRG-MARG Pvt Ltd is in the process of framing of guidelines to regulate the sale of foods and carbonated drinks within a vicinity of 500 yards of the school area.

Mr Mehra said the draft guidelines will be completed by July 21 and will be placed before the court. The work of framing guidelines to regulate the prohibition of junk food will involve a major question as to what is the definition of junk food, therefore the food processing companies will have to be consulted before the final draft is prepared, the ASG said.

The Delhi Government counsel told that the Lt Governor will issue directions to the vendors and other junk food sellers only once the guidelines on this issue are finalised.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on July 22. The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by one Rakesh Prabhakar, a lawyer for NGO Uday Foundation, seeking to ban junk food and aerated drinks in and around the schools as it poses health problems.

The HC had last year granted six months’ time to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) asking them to frame guidelines on banning the sale of junk food in and around the schools and other educational institutions.

The court had directed FSSAI to consult the All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA) and restaurant associations for framing the guidelines.

AIFPA, in its application, had said it deals with processing of fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, milk and milk products and also the manufacturers of biscuits and confectionery products. The AIFPA also said a special category defining as to what comes under the junk food category will have to be made.

Supere Court sets up special team to examine contents of Radia tapes

A six-member special team comprising five from the CBI and one from the Income Tax department was constituted by the Supreme Court to examine the contents of tapped telephonic conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with politicians, corporate honchos and others.
A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said the working of the team will be supervised by two officers of the CBI who will report to Superintendent of Police, CBI dealing with the 2G matter.

The bench told that the overall supervision will be under the Deputy Inspector General, CBI who is looking after the case.

The bench told that the team shall submit its report in four months from today.

The apex court on February 13 had sought names of officials of CBI, IT department and the Enforcement Directorate for setting up of a team to enquire into the tapped telephonic conversations of Radia with others to ascertain element of criminality.

The court had earlier said that it had gone through some of the tapped conversations and some of them were “innocuous” and hence, the voluminous transcripts were needed to be “scrutinised” to find out elements of “criminality” in them.

It had also made clear that the scrutiny would be limited to those conversations which pertain to criminal element and relating to interest of justice.

Earlier, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Ratan Tata, had submitted that “utmost secrecy” be maintained in the scrutiny of transcripts.

He was referring to various conversations that took place between Tata and Radia which are allegedly personal in nature.

“There are some conversations in public domain and those are hardly personal in nature. They relate to illegality and shed significant light on how government decisions are being influenced and how institutions run in the country,” Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had said.

Excerpts from the tapes earlier leaked in the media had sparked a political storm with the conversations bringing out the nature of corporate lobbying and also its purported impact on politics.

The income tax department placed transcripts of 5,800 tapped telephone conversations in 50 sealed envelopes.

The conversations were recorded as part of surveillance of Radia’s phone on a complaint to Finance Minister on November 16, 2007 alleging that within a span of nine years she had built up a business empire worth Rs 300 crore.

The government had recorded 180 days of Radia’s conversations–first from August 20, 2008 onwards for 60 days and then from October 19 for another 60 days. Later, on May 11, 2009, her phone was again put on surveillance for another 60 days following a fresh order given on May 8

Allahabad High Court dismisses PIL against Shinde for ‘Hindu terror’ remarks

A petition filed by Vishwa Hindu Parishad against Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s “Hindu terror” remarks was dismissed by the Allahabad high court today.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice Dilip Gupta dismissed in limine the Public Interest Litigation which had sought to make Shinde, the Cabinet Secretary and the Union Home Secretary respondents.

Significantly, the Home Secretary had, barely a few days after Shinde accused BJP and RSS of running training camps for terrorists, stated that there was “evidence” to suggest that a number of terror accused in the country had links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The statements have caused much consternation among the Sangh Parivar outfits, including the BJP which is the main opposition party.

In the PIL, it had been alleged that the January 20 statement of the Union home minister was “scandalous”, “provocative”, “against the soul of the Constitution” and had “adversely affected national harmony and social structure, putting national security and sovereignty in danger”.

The PIL had prayed for issuing directions to the Centre to frame rules with regard to issuing statements besides demanding an “independent judicial inquiry into the truth of the statement”.

However, Additional Solicitor General of India K C Kaushik, appearing on behalf of the Centre, contended that the PIL was “misconceived” and liable to be “dismissed as not maintainable”.



Ration cards can be linked with Aadhar: Maha to HC

The Maharashtra government on Monday told the Bombay High Court that though ration cards could be linked with the newly introduced Aadhar cards, it was not possible to appoint a nodal agency to supervise the verification process.
A division bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and KK Tated was hearing a public interest litigation filed by one Jayprakash Unecha two years back on the issue of bogus ration cards.

The court had on the last hearing directed the government to consider linking ration cards with Aadhar cards so as to weed out bogus and duplicate ration cards in the state.

Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai today told the court that linking ration cards and Aadhar cards was possible and is under consideration of the state government.

“Since the data process entry of Aadhar cards is still on, it is possible to verify such entries with ration cards. But it is not possible to appoint a nodal agency to do so,” according to her

Issuing notice to the additional solicitor general of India Kevic Setalvad for assistance in the case, the court adjourned the hearing till February 15.


Interest of small traders should not be affected by FDI

The Supreme Court told that interest of small retail traders should not be affected due to foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail sector and sought response from the Centre on how it intends to safeguard their interests.
A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha asked the Centre to file its response within three weeks.

“What checks are there to ensure that free trade is not affected, particularly the interest of small traders,” the bench said while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL).

“Apprehension is there in the mind of people that small traders’ interest would be affected,” According to the bench, adding, “Some regulatory measures should be there.”

High Court notice to city govt on PIL

A notice has been issued by the Delhi High Court to the city government and its transport department on a fresh plea for scrapping 5.7-km-long bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor here on the alleged ground that it violated Master Plan 2021.

Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Ltd (a joint venture firm of Delhi government and the IDFCBSE -0.45 % foundation) has also been asked by the bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indermeet Kaur , to respond to the Public Interest Litigation plea and fixed the matter for further hearing on April 18.

NGO Nyaya Bhoomi, whose earlier PIL and subsequent review petition were dismissed by the high court on the issue, filed a fresh one saying it had been granted the liberty to move the court again if the BRT corridor from Ambedkar Nagar to Moolchand violated Master Plan 2021.

Another bench of the court had dismissed on November 21 last year the NGO’s plea to review its earlier order by which its PIL against the the BRT corridor had been dismissed.

“Suffice would it be to state that in the writ petition, there is no challenge that BRT corridor does not conform to the Master Plan norms and thus, we think that petitioner cannot even attempt to urge anything with reference to the MPD norms being violated,” the bench had said.

In its fresh PIL, the NGO has sought a direction to scrap the BRT corridor and declare it to be “in gross violation of the Delhi Master Plan 2021 and against the interest of public at large.”

It has also sought “removal of bus stops and the bus lane created with concrete structure and other obstacles from Moolchand flyovers towards Defence Colony …”.

The plea had pointed out that most of the time the bus lane remains free with the situation on other lanes, meant for cars and other vehicles, turning chaotic and the people getting stuck in jams for hours.

Noida builders restrained from using groundwater

All the builders in Noida and Greater Noida has restrained by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for extracting any quantity of underground water for the purposes of construction or otherwise till January 24.

The tribunal passed the order in response to a public interest litigation(PIL) filed by environmentalist Vikrant Kumar Tongad expressing concern over depleting ground water level in Noida and Greater Noida.

A bench headed by newly appointed NGT Chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar fixed the next hearing date for January 24 as concerned authority officials could not be present due to a board meeting.

The tribunal stated that the authority shall be responsible for strict compliance and ensuring implementation of the interim injunction passed.

“We make it clear that it shall be their obligation to inform all the builders and even to take necessary action and steps against the defaulting builders or persons besides bringing the same to the notice of this tribunal.”
The Tribunal also observed that the underground water utilised for the purposes of construction hardly re-percolates into the earth for the fact that it is a tree-free zone, has concrete base and the water largely is wasted as it flows into the drains.

Before passing the order, the Tribunal noticed that the guidelines that have been duly notified by the Central Ground Water Authority have been violated with “impunity”.