Court questions Uttar Pradesh on police station death

Raising questions over the Uttar Pradesh police report on the murder and alleged rape of a teenaged girl in a police station, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court Monday sought more details on the case from the state government by July 8, a lawyer said.

While hearing a petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the killing of the 14-year-old girl in Lakhimpur Kheri district, a division bench of the court said it was not at all satisfied with police investigations and their report in the case.

The police report submitted before the court blamed constable Atiq Ahmad for the minor girl’s death. It, however, ruled out that the girl was raped – an allegation made by the victim’s family which is demanding a CBI inquiry into the case.

“As the court was not satisfied with the police report, it asked the state government why the case should not be handed over to the CBI. The court has fixed July 8 as the next date of hearing,” Prince Lenin, counsel for an NGO which moved the petition seeking a CBI probe into the case, told reporters here.

The body of the 14-year-old girl was found hanging from a tree June 10 inside the Nighasan police station premises in Lakhimpur Kheri, around 200 km from Lucknow.

The death was initially dismissed by police as suicide but a second autopsy confirmed the girl was strangled.

“The court made strong observations over the differences in autopsy reports and wondered whether an impartial inquiry had been conducted by police in the case,” added Lenin.

In a press conference held here Sunday, Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh said the constable killed the girl after she raised an alarm, resisting a rape bid.

“Atiq Ahmad has also confessed his crime,” he said.

Court questions Delhi University on semester system

Delhi High Court Thursday issued notice to the Delhi University vice chancellor, the University Grants Commission and the central government on the implementation of the semester system in the varsity’s arts stream for 2011-12.

The division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjeev Khanna said: “Issue notice to all the respondents. The matter will be heard on May 11.”

A group of university teachers approached the Delhi High Court challenging the university’s April 19 notification for implementation of the semester system in the arts stream for 2011-12.

The teachers’ union also demanded quashing of the notification.

As of now, there are 13 courses, including physics, chemistry, botany and zoology, which follow the semester system in the university.

Court questions police on ‘wrongdoing’ in orphanage

The Delhi High Court Thursday asked Delhi Police whether they would investigate alleged trafficking of minor children from an orphanage here.

 Justice Ajit Bharihoke said: ‘Delhi Police are directed to clarify their stand whether or not they are inclined to investigate into the functioning of Bal Vihar Orphanage Centre from the angle of the trafficking of children.’

 ‘Delhi police will have to file a written response clarifying their stand within four weeks,’ said the court.

 The court was hearing a petition where it was mentioned that March 10, 2008 a statement was made on behalf of the orphanage that they had around 150 inmates (minor children of different age groups), while a government inspection four months later found the inmate strength to be 77.

 ‘It has also been recorded that on Aug 5, 2008 the number of inmates increased to 108,’ the petition said, adding that this sudden rise and fall in the number of inmates raised suspicion of wrongdoing.

Apex court questions government on telecom firm’s licence

The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the government to reveal what happened between March 5, 2010, when telecom company S Tel’s second generation (2G) licences were cancelled, and April 15, 2010, when they were restored.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly sought the details after studying the documents that were presented by the government.

The court had summoned the documents after it was alleged Tuesday that S Tel was forced into submission and told to withdraw its plea from the apex court seeking grant of 2G licences in certain circles.

Due to the advancing of the cut-off date from Oct 1, 2007 to Sep 25, 2007 through two press releases issued Jan 10, 2008, S Tel did not get licences in circles where it had applied after Sep 25, 2007.

S Tel, which had been allotted licences in some circles prior to Sep 25, 2007, challenged the advancing of the cut-off date. On March 5, 2010, it was abruptly told that all these licenses had been cancelled.

The company later withdrew its plea before the apex court on the grounds of changed market conditions. After the withdrawal of the plea, the company’s existing licences were restored April 15, 2010.

Appearing in person, petitioner and Janata Party president Subramainian Swamy told the court that all the 2G licences which were granted in pursuance of two press releases issued Jan 10, 2008 stood automatically cancelled after a Delhi High Court order.

Kasab questions permission to NIA to quiz him

Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole survivor out of the 10 Pakistani gunmen in the 26/11 attack, Monday filed an application witghn e Bombay High Court seeking to know how had the Maharashtra government given permission to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to interrogate him.

The application was filed Monday – the first day after the hearing on the confirmation of Kasab’s death sentence resumed after Diwali – on the basis of report in a Mumbai newspaper two days ago.

In his application, Kasab contended that the news report mentioned that an independent case had been filed by the NIA against him and the agency sought permission to interrogate him. The permission was subsequently granted.

Kasab claimed that these developments meant that the investigations into the Nov 26-29, 2008, Mumbai terror attack, in which he was convicted and sentenced to death were either ‘incomplete’ or that a fresh investigation was on the anvil.

This, he said in the application, would amount to double jeopardy and also directly interfere in the confirmation case pending before the Bombay High Court, according to Kasab’s government-appointed lawyer Amin Solkar.

In the application, Solkar has demanded to know on behalf of Kasab whether the NIA was authorised to conduct the 26/11 probe and also file a charge sheet, whether the investigation of all the 12 cases pertaining to 26/11 was assigned to Mumbai Police Crime Branch or the NIA, and hence, whether the Crime Branch’s probe and the subsequent trial was legal.

Kasab also questioned the legal provisions under which the state government permitted the NIA to interrogate him.

He sought to know whether his death sentence could be suspended when the confirmation of the sentence was pending and whether the NIA could register an independent case against him at this stage.

The court, while observing that it could not go by a newspaper report, directed the prosecution to file its reply by Nov 18 (Thursday) in the matter.

Court questions government on vaccines

The Delhi High Court Wednesday questioned the central government on allegations of vaccines being introduced into the public health system without proper medical studies.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan asked the government to study the incidents of diseases for which the vaccines are being developed and whether these vaccines are efficient enough.

The bench asked the government to study the side effects of vaccines and the cost factor involved in preparing them. The next hearing will be Dec 8.

The court was hearing a petition alleging that irrational vaccines were being introduced in the public health system by the government under the influence of vaccine manufacturers and international agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) without medical studies.

‘We just want to highlight how in the absence of a rational vaccine policy, newer and newer vaccines are being pushed by the government into the national immunization programme,’ said petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan.

‘Vaccines which are either of little utility or which are not required at all are being introduced and promoted by the government at the behest of vested interests,’ he said.

‘At a time when the government has utterly failed to ensure that every child receives these vaccines and the country is facing a shortage of these vaccines, new vaccines of questionable utility and efficacy are sought to be introduced in an arbitrary and irrational manner and at huge cost,’ said Bhushan.

Court questions DDA on closure of sports complex for Games

The Delhi High Court Friday questioned the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna over the Siri Fort Sports Complex being closed to its members due to the Commonwealth Games

Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mool Chand Garg issued notice and asked the DDA to submit before it the files containing details of the order regarding the closure of the complex, ahead of Games events.

Before taking up the matter, Justice Nandrajog informed counsel for the petitioner and the DDA that he was a member of the complex, to which no objection was raised by either of the parties.

He informed that he has not been visiting the complex for the last seven years. The next date of hearing in the matter is Sep 13.

On three earlier occasions, various benches of the high court refused to take up the matter on the grounds that judges on the bench were themselves members of the complex.

Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice Valmiki Mehta refused to hear the matter Wednesday as one of the sitting judges was a member of the sports complex. Before it, a division bench last week refused to take up the matter on the same grounds and transferred the case to another bench.

On Aug 31, a division bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Reva Khetrapal transferred the matter to another bench as counsel Ruchi Sindwani, appearing for the Lieutenant Governor, was related to one of the sitting judges.

The petition was moved by the members of the sports complex in South Delhi challenging the decision of its secretary to close it down from Aug 16 for the coming Commonwealth Games. The complex is supposed to host events like badminton and squash during the Oct 3-14 Games.

Atul Wadhera, a Supreme Court lawyer who filed the petition, alleged that the move was unjustified on the part of the secretary. It denied hundreds of members the facilities of the complex.

‘There are only two events to be held for the Commonwealth Games and there are about 29 activities in the complex due to which people come here on a daily basis,’ Wadhera said in the petition.

The decision has affected not only retired people but even children as they have been denied entry to play in the children’s park.

‘People are not allowed to jog and play football or engage in other activities. For the sake of two events, you are stopping people from availing facilities and participating in other activities,’ said the petition.

It also sought immediate opening of the complex as an interim measure allowing people to use the jogging tracks, for children to use the park, and youngsters the football ground. More then 70 percent of the members are retired, elderly people.

Apex court questions Uttar Pradesh on Lucknow park

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file an affidavit listing the construction activities it was undertaking at a 195-acre eco-park located on Lucknow’s Jail road. The park is being developed on the land where the old jail of Lucknow city existed earlier.

The land for the park was made available after the old jail was shifted to new premises set up at Mohanlal Ganj on the outskirts of the city.

An apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Anil R. Dave issued the direction to the state government on an application filed by Sangamlal Pandey.

Pandey alleged that in the name of constructing a boundary wall, entrance and public convenience, the state government was undertaking huge construction in the green area.

The court said that the affidavit, to be filed by a senior officer of the state, should indicate the construction activities being undertaken at the park.

The court said that from the huge amount of construction material dumped at the eco-park it appears that the state intends to build a huge structure there.

Sohrabuddin killing: Court questions Amin’s co-accused

The Gujarat High Court Wednesday issued notices to eight accused in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout case who challenged co-accused and former police official N.K. Amin’s plea to turn an approver.

Justice Akil Kureshi ordered the notices to be issued after a designated Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Aug 26 referred suspended deputy superintendent of police Amin’s plea to the high court to decide its constitutional validity.

Amin’s co-accused challenged the jurisdiction of the CBI court to accept his plea to turn an approver.

CBI court Judge A.Y. Dave referred the issue to the high court, stating that the designated court did not have the powers to decide the constitutional validity of Amin’s plea.

Opposing Amin’s bargain plea seeking pardon, the other accused’s lawyer S.B. Vakil said that the CBI court did not have the jurisdiction to record Amin’s statement.

Judge Dave said that further hearing would take place in the case after the high court’s ruling.

Eight co-accused, including suspended Indian Police Service officers D.G. Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh M.N. raised objections to Amin’s application.

Amin was serving in the city crime branch before being arrested in 2007 in connection with Sheikh’s killing.