High Court sets January 15 deadline for meters recalibration

The Bombay High Court set a deadline till January 15 for the Maharashtra government to complete the process of recalibration of meters in autos and taxis across the city pursuant to the fare hike in October.
The state government faced flak from the High Court for poor implementation of calibrating meters, and basing its decision to hike fares on the report of a one-man committee.
A division bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Amjad Sayed was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO challenging the fare hike.
On the last hearing, the court was informed there are 60,000 autos and 16,000 taxis yet to be recalibrated.
Today, additional government pleader S S Shinde informed the court that in the past one week 13,000 autos and taxis have been recalibrated.
“This indicates if there is sufficient administrative will and desire to initiate action then the process of recalibration can be expedited. We expect the government to complete the process by January 15,” Justice Chandrachud said.
The state government also informed the court that by December 29, two additional centres to recalibrate meters will be set up, and by January 5, two-three more will be set up. At present, there are only three recalibration centres in Mumbai at Kandivli, Bandra and Byculla
PTI

Supreme Court forms panel on road mishap

The Maharashtra Government has been suggested by Bombay High Court to consider linking ration cards with the newly introduced Aadhar cards so as to ascertain bogus and duplicate ration cards in the state.

A division bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and R D Dhanuka took a serious view of the issue of bogus ration cards and questioned the inaction on the part of the authorities.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Jayprakash Unecha two years back.

“Aren’t two years enough to unravel the mystery of bogus ration cards?” the bench said, adding, the government was short of staff and vision.

According to Justice Khanwilkar, “Will it not be a prudent approach in the matter to make it compulsory to produce the Aadhar card for the issuance of a new ration card? Why is the government not considering this? Unless you put a verification process in place, you cannot track the duplicate or bogus ration cards.”

When additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai informed the court that the government was short-staffed, the bench said, “Link everything to the Aadhar card scheme and make one team to run it. No great changes need to be made. The state will have to only link both the cards via a software.”

Directing the government to consider the link between the two cards, the court adjourned hearing of the PIL till next week.

Supreme Court asks Manipur take on alleged extra-judicial killings

The Manipur government rapped by The Supreme Court for not filing a report on alleged extra-judicial killings in the state, saying “people are dying out there”.

A bench headed by justice Aftab Alam directed the government to file its response within two weeks and also asked the attorney general to assist the court in deciding the case.

When the counsel appearing for the state sought six weeks’ time to file the response, The bench said, “Do it quickly. People are dying out there. File your report by November 19,”

The apex court had on October 1 expressed concern over the spate of alleged extra-judicial killings in the state and issued notices to the Centre and the state government on a plea for an independent probe into around 1,500 such cases.

The court’s order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by an association of the families of the alleged victims, pleading with the apex court to set up a special investigation team and direct inquiry into all such cases.

The association said over 2,000 extra-judicial killings have taken place in the state, but no one has been held guilty till date.

The petitioner said innocent people with no criminal record had been killed by the security forces and no proper investigation had been carried out in such cases.

“Not only were there no criminal investigations and prosecutions of the guilty, even departmental inquiries were not conducted and no policemen or personnel of the security forces punished departmentally for their actions.

According to the petition, “The magisterial inquiries that took place sometimes were conducted by executive magistrates under cover of secrecy and most often without intimation to the eyewitnesses and members of the families. They were conducted as an eyewash”

The Supreme Court had on July 4 agreed to hear a similar plea for a probe into alleged extra-judicial killings by the Border Security force in the West Bengal border area.

In that case, petitioner Bangla Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, a Kolkata-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), had alleged that there were more than 200 cases in which BSF personnel had indulged in extra-judicial killings and torture in the border area and the cases were never probed by the state police.

The NGO had alleged that instead of registering FIRs (first information reports) against BSF personnel, they were registered against the dead and the cases closed.

Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking tightened EMF radiation norms

The Supreme Court dismissed a PIL seeking the tightening of electro-magnetic field (EMF) radiation norms and setting up of an independent regulatory body to monitor and enforce them.

A bench of Justice H.L.Dattu and Justice C.K.Prasad rejected the plea, but indicated the court could intervene later if the standards do not meet the purpose.

“The standards (notified Sep 1, 2012) are much better than 90 countries. Even the constitution has had several amendments. We are sure that these standards will also be changed,” said Justice Dattu.

“We have got to give executive and legislature a free hand at the initial stage. Later if they fail we can step in the interest of the health of the citizens,” he said thereby apparently suggesting that this was not the end of the road.

The PIL had sought the enforcement of the existing radiation norms by an independent regulatory agency instead of self-regulation by the telecom service providers.

The PIL petition said that though the new EMF radiation standards have lowered radiation emission level but yet they still 500 and 1000 times higher than the exposer limit of 0.001 W/m2.

Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioner, NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) said that all the scientific studies both nationally and internationally have established the serious problems being caused by the radiation. He was assisted by counsel Pyoli Swatija.

Bhushan told the court that all the cell phone towers were being indiscriminately put up in residential areas, hospitals schools and other places of human habitation. The PIL has urged the court to make environmental impact assessment mandatory prior to the installation of cell phone towers.

He told the court that the standards now being notified were lax and there was no independent authority to monitor and regulate them.

Giving the details of the health hazards being posed by the EMF Radiations, the PIL said that the international studies have established the hazardous effects of low frequency EMF radiation on human body and on nature.

The effects on human health, the PIL had said include childhood leukemia, brain tumours, breast cancer, miscarriage, infertility, DNA breakage, immune system deregulation, allergic and inflammatory responses, and cardiovascular effects.

The PIL further said that EMF radiation interference with other gadgets including pacemakers and neurological effects and neurodegenerative diseases such as headache, memory changes, dizziness, tremors, depressive symptoms, and sleep disturbance.

 

BY PTI

High Court of Delhi seeks report on steps taken to prevent dengue

The Delhi High Court sought a report from the central government on a petition seeking implementation of a long-term action plan to control outbreak of dangerous or epidemic diseases like dengue in the capital city.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw sought reply within three weeks from the health ministry and posted the matter for Dec 12.

Appearing for the central government, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeev Mehra submitted that the officials are taking steps on the issue and report on this would be filed soon.

Accepting the submissions of the ASG, the court granted the government three weeks’ time.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal asking the court to set up an independent committee to monitor implementation of a long-term action plan to combat the mosquito menace in the city.

The plea said: “Direct the respondents to constitute an independent committee to effectively monitor the implementation of the long-term action plan issued by the Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.”

“It is the duty of the respondents to effectively and properly implement the long-term action plan issued by the respondent No. 1 (central government) in a time-bound manner so that the dengue menace come to an end,” it said.

Citing the data on dengue cases in the city between the period 2007-2012, the petitioner said that the number of cases has gone up drastically this year as compared to previous years.

The plea also mentioned the widespread media reports on the increasing number of dengue cases, accusing the civic authorities and the health ministry of failing to act in time to prevent a dengue outbreak, and claimed that they wake up only after there is an acute shortage of blood and medicines in hospitals.

The PIL sought the court’s intervention and demanded a list of steps taken till now by the Delhi government, the municipal corporations, the New Delhi Municipal Council and the health department.

“There is a lack of coordination among the officials of the central, state government and the officials of the municipal authorities which results into the non-implementation of the long-term action plan issued”

 

By PTI

Court seeks government response on PIL against Vadra

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court Thursday asked the central government to respond to charges levelled against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, by India Against Corruption (IAC) member Arvind Kejriwal.

The court, which was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by activist Nutan Thakur, fixed Nov 21 as the next date for hearing.

The PIL sought a thorough probe into the charges levelled by Kejriwal and his colleagues. In her petition, Thakur told the court that she had also sent a letter to principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) but was sure that it would not be responded to.

Last week, Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan had alleged that Vadra had benefited immensely from a quid pro quo in deals with real estate giant DLF.

PIL in SC to restrain resumption of mining in Goa

A petition was filed today in the Supreme Court to restrain the resumption of iron and manganese ore mining in Goa amid a judicial commission estimating a loss of Rs 35000 crore to the exchequer due to illegal mining there since 2000.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, also sought setting up of a special probe agency to investigate the alleged loss to the state revenue, the illegalities committed in mining activities and the connivance of public servants in abetting the same.

The NGO, filing the petition through advocate Prashant Bhushan, referred to the report of Justice (Retd) M B Shah Commission and alleged that “iron ore worth Rupees 35,000 crores was plundered by the mining companies, committing theft of Government property.” It said the Commission’s report tabled in Parliament on September 7 stated that “illegal activities in mining were underway since the year 2000″ and that all the 90 mines in the state were functioning without the mandatory permission from the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) and 33 of these were within 1.5 kms of the wildlife sanctuaries, well inside the eco-sensitive zone notified by the NBWL. ”

The failure of the state to control the illegal mining has led to large-scale destruction of both the forest and non-forest land and as such has adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor,” the petition said. It said due to lack of co-ordination between Department of Mines and Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), the mines were set up in forest and eco-sensitive areas, close to the streams and rivers, causing severe air and water pollution, degradation of the environment and the loss of bio-diversity.

The NGO said the Directorate of Mines and Geology on September 10 this year had temporarily suspended all mining operations till October 2012, but the suspension did not affect the trade and transportation of ore already mined and existing in the lease hold area, in transit or stores or stocked on the jetties.

PIL in SC to restrain resumption of mining in Goa

A petition was filed today in the Supreme Court to restrain the resumption of iron and manganese ore mining in Goa amid a judicial commission estimating a loss of Rs 35000 crore to the exchequer due to illegal mining there since 2000.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, also sought setting up of a special probe agency to investigate the alleged loss to the state revenue, the illegalities committed in mining activities and the connivance of public servants in abetting the same.

The NGO, filing the petition through advocate Prashant Bhushan, referred to the report of Justice (Retd) M B Shah Commission and alleged that “iron ore worth Rupees 35,000 crores was plundered by the mining companies, committing theft of Government property.”

It said the Commission’s report tabled in Parliament on September 7 stated that “illegal activities in mining were underway since the year 2000” and that all the 90 mines in the state were functioning without the mandatory permission from the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) and 33 of these were within 1.5 kms of the wildlife sanctuaries, well inside the eco-sensitive zone notified by the NBWL.

“The failure of the state to control the illegal mining has led to large-scale destruction of both the forest and non-forest land and as such has adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor,” the petition said.

It said due to lack of co-ordination between Department of Mines and Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), the mines were set up in forest and eco-sensitive areas, close to the streams and rivers, causing severe air and water pollution, degradation of the environment and the loss of bio-diversity.

The NGO said the Directorate of Mines and Geology on September 10 this year had temporarily suspended all mining operations till October 2012, but the suspension did not affect the trade and transportation of ore already mined and existing in the lease hold area, in transit or stores or stocked on the jetties.

Explain allocation of 194 coal blocks, SC tells govt

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the government, asking it to explain whether it had followed its own policies and guidelines in the allocation of 194 coal blocks.

While issuing the notice, the apex court bench headed by Justice RM Lodha also asked the government to explain why it did not follow the bidding process laid down in a 2004 policy.

The notice has to be answered by the coal secretary in eight weeks.

The bench observed that it would look into the issue even if parliament’s Public Accounts Committee was examining the matter.

The court order came on a public interest litigation by advocate ML Sharma who sought the scrapping of the allocation of all 194 coal blocks and a probe into irregularities in the allocation.

Guj HC upholds extension of Nanavati Commission

Gujarat high court on Thursday dismissed a PIL challenging the state government’s decision to give further extension to Justice GT Nanavati Commission, inquiring the 2002 post-Godhra riots cases.   While dismissing the PIL, the division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala held that the state government was justified in granting extension to the commission.

The government had granted 18th extension to the commission in March earlier this year till December 31, 2012.

“Looking at the voluminous nature of the inquiry by the commission, the time limit for submitting the report has been extended from time-to-time,” the bench said.

Jignesh Goswami had filed the public interest litigation (PIL) in 2011, alleging waste of public money by extending the time limit of the commission.

The PIL sought that the commission be directed to submit its final report within a time frame and state government should not grant any further extension to it.

The court was of the opinion that it was not within its purview to issue direction to commission to conclude its inquiry and submit report in a given time.

While pronouncing the judgement today, the bench noted that the commission received voluminous evidences and its task was mammoth.

As per the affidavit filed by the under secretary of the home department, during the hearing, till June 2012 the commission had received 47,321 affidavits, examined 1,035 witnesses, organised 281 public hearings in 22 districts of the state and 4,274 offence cases were being inquired by it.