High Court refuses to stay engineering exam results

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) results for the candidates, who appeared for it on two different occasions this month following paper leaks at several centres.

A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “At this stage we are not inclined to stay the result process.” The court will further hear the matter on May 20.

Earlier, the same Bench had rejected a plea for stay of the second phase of the examination, which was re-scheduled for May 11.

Meanwhile, the HRD Ministry and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) filed their replies, which will be considered by the court on next date of hearing.

Court refuses to interfere in Ahmedabad demolition drive

The Gujarat High Court Thursday refused to interfere in a sealing and demolition drive by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation against illegal constructions but offered relief for some buildings that faced action.

The high court bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi came down heavily on officials of the state government and the civic agency for not complying with its earlier order and sought to know why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them.

The drive was launched on the court’s order in a public interest litigation (PIL), which alleged that most of the complexes violated the fire-safety, parking and user norms.

The court Thursday allowed the opening of law firms, lawyers’ offices, banks, post offices and government institutions sealed by the civic agency during action against unauthorised constructions in the C.G. Road area of Ahmedabad.

The state government and the civic agency have identified 165 commercial complexes that were violating these norms.

Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said that an action plan had been made and it was being implemented. Counsel for the civic agency also submitted an action taken report to the court.

The chief justice sought to know from an association of shopowners from the area as to what it wished to propose as corrective measures if it did not want demolition of the buildings.

The chief justice said that violation of parking norms in the area was completely unacceptable and intolerable.

The court sought to know from the government authorities about violation of such norms on other roads of the city and what actions they proposed to take.

‘Can we see from Monday that any car parked illegally on roads and streets has been towed and taken away?’ the court said.The court also sought to know from the shopowners as to why they should be allowed running their businesses in a residential zone where commercial activities were not allowed.The court said they can approach the government but it will not direct the state to regularise or convert the land use of the residential zone.’The shops and offices have been running illegally for more than a decade and cannot be allowed by this court to continue. You may approach the government,’ the bench said.’If they change the act and do it, then it’s a different thing but as of now no act is superseding the high court’s order,’ the chief justice said.

The matter is now slated to come up Nov 23.

Court refuses to lift ban on sand mining

The Maharashtra government suffered a setback Thursday when the Bombay High Court refused to lift a ban on sand mining in the state – a day after the ruling Democratic Front proposed a draft policy on the issue.

A division bench of Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice U.D. Salvi refused to lift the stay on sand mining, which the court imposed earlier.

On Sep 24, a division bench comprising Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice Amjad Sayyed passed an interim order banning sand mining – including by those who had licences – observing that the activity was damaging river beds and increasing threats of flood.

The court’s order came in a public interest litigation petition filed by Sagar Shramik Hatpati Walu Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit, which alleged that sand extraction was causing major environmental degradation, especially in creeks and rivers.

On Wednesday, the state cabinet approved a new sand mining policy making it mandatory for all contractors to obtain permission of village panchayats for sand mining and extraction.

On Thursday, the state’s advocate-general Ravi Kadam made a plea in the high court to lift the stay, saying the government had already finalized a policy on the issue of sand mining.

The high court ruled that it would decide on vacating the stay only after the government submitted the government resolution on the issue before it, and adjourned the hearing till Oct 25.

Allahabad High Court refuses to defer Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid verdict

An effort for deferring the judgement in the 60-year-old title suit in the Ram Janmabhoomi -Babri Masjid dispute was Friday rebuffed by the Allahabad High Court, which will now pronounce its verdict on Sept 24.

Delivering its judgement on a petition filed by one Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, the three-judge special bench of the court opined that there was no merit in the application.

Tripathi – who is a low profile retired government employee- had filed an application for making another attempt to reach a solution to the dispute through reconciliation and deferment of the verdict.

The special bench, comprising Justice SU Khan, Justice DV Sharma and Justice Sudhir Agarwal asked the parties in the case whether they were interested in working out an out-of-court amicable settlement and none of them showed interest – both the Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Wakf Board want the verdict to be delivered.

 Following this, the court rejected the petition for deferring the judgement – the option of reaching an out of court settlement by the two sides’ still remains open.

The bench also imposed a heavy fine on Tripathi which would be announced later though Justice Agarwal proposed a fine of Rs. five lakh.

On September 24, the High Court will be addressing three issues. One, whether there was a temple at the disputed site, prior to 1538. Two, whether the suit filed by the Babri committee in 1961 seeking possession of the site is barred by limitation. And third, whether Muslims perfected their title through adverse possession.

Importantly, major political parties are saying that they will respect the court’s decision, but it is still unclear as to how the matter will play up after September 24.

The union government has made a strong appeal for communal harmony and peace ahead of the judgement.

Apprehensive that the verdict in the case could trigger tension, the government said if one community was aggrieved, further legal recourse would be open to it.

Apex court refuses to give relief to don Abu Salem

The Supreme Court Friday rejected the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts accused and don Abu Salem’s plea that he could only be tried for the offences for which he was extradited from Portugal in 2005 and allowed his trial for other lesser offences.

“Abu Salem can be tried for the offences for which he has been extradited” and in addition he can also be tried for “lesser offences”, said an apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice A.K. Ganguly in their concurrent but separate judgments.

He was extradited under International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.

The court said that “lesser offence” means an offence which is made out from the proved facts and provides lesser punishment, as compared to the offences for which the fugitive has been extradited.

Justice Ganguly in his concurring judgment said that as long as the facts submitted before Portuguese authorities “prima facie show the guilt of the extraditee (Abu Salem) in a foreseeable and logically consistent way, the said person can be tried on all such counts that can be conclusively proved against him or her”.

The court said that there was no violation of the assurance given by the Indian ambassador in his letter of May 25, 2003 to Portugal government regarding the trial of Abu Salem.

The court noted that the assurance said that Abu Salem would “not be prosecuted” for the offences other than for which his extradition has been sought and he would not be re-extradited to any other third country.

The judgment also cited a letter written by the then deputy prime minister and home minister L.K. Advani assuring that “if extradited by Portugal for trial in India, Abu Salem Abdul Qayoom Ansari and Monica Bedi would not be visited by death penalty or imprisonment for a term beyond 25 years”.

Advani’s letter of Dec 17, 2002, was addressed to then Portuguese foreign minister Antonio Martins Da Cruz.

The apex court upheld the designated trial court’s decision to separate Abu Salem’s trial in the blasts case from other accused.

The judgment said that Abu Salem’s plea that because of the separation of trial he would be deprived of the opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses who have already deposed had no basis.

The court noted that by its order of Aug 24, 2009, the designated trial court has already afforded him an opportunity to furnish the list of the witnesses he wanted to cross-examine.

“Hence, there is no basis in the apprehensions raised by the appellant (Abu Salem)”, the judgment said.

“We are of the view that the appellant has been charged within the permissible scope of section 21(b) of the Extradition Act and the designated court has not committed any illegality in passing the impugned orders,” the judgment said.

Dismissing all the appeals by Abu Salem, the court said that the trial in the bombings was pending since 1993 and directed the designated court to proceed with the trial expeditiously.

The court noted that all the other connected matter, related to this trial, have already been disposed.

In 1993, a series of 13 explosions took place 12 March, 1993 in Mumbai and left at least 250 dead and 700 injured.

Supreme Court refuses to take up Maudany’s plea

The Supreme Court Tuesday declined to entertain People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Abdul Nazir Maudany’s plea for anticipatory bail as it became irrelevant after his arrest for the 2008 Bangalore bombings earlier in the day.

Maudany, an accused in the July 25, 2008 Bangalore bombings in which one person was killed and 15 injured, was arrested Tuesday by a contingent of Karnataka and Kerala police in Kollam in Kerala.

An apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T.S. Thakur said Maudany could apply for regular bail in the trial court and that would also include scope for interim bail till an application for regular bail was decided.

The apex court said that the trial court was bound to hear his plea for interim bail on the same day.

The moment the bench took up the matter for hearing, standing counsel for Karnataka Sanjay Hegde informed the court that Maudany had been arrested in Kerala by Karnataka police.

Senior counsel Pinaki Mishra, who appeared for Maudany, said that his client was arrested half an hour ago just to frustrate the hearing of his plea for anticipatory bail in the apex court.

The apex court said that Maudany’s bail application in the trial court would be heard without being prejudiced by the earlier observation of Karnataka High Court while rejecting his plea for anticipatory bail.

When Mishra sought the directions that the bail application should be heard on the same day, the court asked how it could pass such an order. However, the court asked the trial court to hear the matter expeditiously.

Mishra said his client was barred from getting bail under the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act.

He also argued that the relevant provisions of the act were added after his client was made an accused in the case. The act could not be applied in Maudany’s case with retrospective effect.

The high court while rejecting Maudany’s plea for anticipatory bail Aug 3 observed that the Bangalore serial blasts were a “terrorists act”.

Rejecting Maudany’s plea the high court had also said that offences committed by him were squarely covered under the act.

On July 9, a fast track court rejected Maudany’s plea for anticipatory bail.