High court relief for auto drivers

The Delhi High Court Tuesday stayed the Delhi government’s notification demanding Rs.15,000 from auto drivers plying in the national capital for installing GPS systems.

Justice Indermeet Kaur in an interim order stayed till May 27 the government’s decision to charge the money from each auto driver at the time of installing the system.

Justice Kaur also issued notice to the Delhi government seeking its reply within two weeks.

“The compulsion to pay the amount should be removed from the notification,” the court said, saying that auto drivers are daily wage earners it would harm their livelihood.

The court made it clear that the order would be applicable only on auto drivers who have approached the high court, which means the transport department cannot take action against the petitioner for plying the auto without GPS system till the court’s further order.

The government’s notification came into force April 16.

Filing a batch of petitions through counsel Praveen Aggarwal, about 200 auto drivers contended that the government’s decision was a violation of their fundamental right of livelihood.

The counsel Tuesday submitted before the court that the government has a vested interest in DIMTS (Delhi Integrated Multi-model Transit System), the company selling the GPS systems costing Rs.15,000. “We get the same product elsewhere for Rs.3,000-5,000. But the government is forcing us to buy the expensive model,” he said and sought the court to quash the notification clause which demands the money.

On March 17, the city government has issued a notification which authorized the government to collect the money for setting up a Control Centre Room for installing GPS/GPRS on the vehicle for better service, security and customer convenience.

The court fixed May 27 as the next date of hearing the matter

Court tells railways to pay Rs.5 lakh relief to Arunima

The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday directed the Indian Railways to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to national level volleyball player Arunima Sinha whose left leg had to be amputated after she was pushed off a running train last week, a lawyer said.

Arunima was pushed out of the general compartment of the Padmawati Express near Bareilly April 11 while resisting a chain-snatching attempt by some hoodlums while she was travelling from Lucknow to Delhi.

The court ordered the railways to pay the monetary assistance on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by lawyer Adarsh Mehrotra.

‘In the PIL filed Monday, I cited Arunima’s case and sought the court’s direction on ensuring safety and security of train passengers,’ Mehrotra told reporters here, sharing details about the relief ordered by the court.

‘I also stressed on the need of starting a helpline for redressal of emergent problems of the railway passengers,’ he added.

According to Mehrotra, the next hearing of the case would take place after two weeks.

Arunima, who is now in the orthopaedic department at AIIMS, was brought to the hospital’s Trauma Centre on Monday night after a serious infection was noticed in the amputated leg for which she underwent a second round of surgery at Lucknow’s prestigious King George’s Medical College — now renamed the Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University.

Court denies relief against arrest to ex-India cricketer

The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused interim protection against arrest to cricketer Jacob Joseph Martin, who represented India in ODIs in 1999, in a case of forging documents to facilitate illegal immigration.

Justice Hima Kohli directed Martin, and the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) and assistant commissioner of police (ACP) of Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport to appear before her April 4.

The court earlier sought a status report from police in the case against Martin, 38, accused of allegedly forging documents to facilitate illegal immigration.

Police told the court in their reply that Martin appeared neither before the DCP nor the ACP and they needed to arrest him.

Justice Kohli declined the plea of Martin, an Indian Railways batsman who played 10 one-day international matches for India, for an immediate direction to police not to arrest him as he would co-operate in investigation.

The court’s direction came on Martin’s plea challenging the trial court’s order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.

The cricketer, who made his debut against the West Indies in 1999, moved the high court after the trial court issued a non-bailable warrant against him and initiated proceedings to declare him a proclaimed offender for failing to join the investigation.

Apex court to hear plea to hike Bhopal gas victims’ relief

The Supreme Court Thursday said it would hear a petition of the central government seeking enhancement of compensation for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy to the tune of Rs.7,500 crore.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Altmas Kabir, Justice R.V. Raveendran, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice Aftab Alam passed the order after considering the government’s petition during the in-chamber hearing.

The court in its brief order said: ‘Place these petitions seeking enhancement in court along with curative petition in CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) vs Keshub Mahindra on Feb 28 at 2 p.m.’

The gas tragedy killed 3,000 people instantly and affected over 15,000 due to a leak of methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in the heart of Bhopal.

On Dec 3 last year, the 26th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, the central government moved a petition in the court seeking revised compensation for the victims and the consequent environmental degradation.

The government sought the enhancement of compensation, determined by the apex court in 1989, on the grounds that the settlement arrived in 1989 was based on the ‘assumptions of truth unrelated to realities’.

The petition said that the revised amount sought in 2010 was on account of devaluation of rupee, interest rate and purchasing power parity and inflation index.

At the time of calculating earlier compensation, the number of dead was taken to be 3,000, which subsequently turned out to be 5,295. Similarly the victims with minor injuries were taken as 50,000 which eventually turned out to be 527,895.

The total revised amount being sought in the petition is $1,241.38 million as per Aug 22, 2010 rates.

The basis for calculating this amount was that the compensation awarded in February 1989 was Rs.675.96 crore. When converted into dollars at the then prevailing rates it would have been equal to $442.67 million.

The petition contended that if the amount had remained invested in dollars on yearly basis and based on London interbank offered rate it would have become $1,241.38 million by Aug 22, 2010.

The amount of compensation to be paid in 2010 varies based on the parameters of calculating it. The compensation awarded in February 1989 is being claimed in 2010, the petition said.

The petition placed various options before the apex court for calculating the enhanced compensation. That included the levying of interest, calculating by taking inflation index in consideration and basing calculation on dollar value as prevailing today.

The petition also sought the recovery of Rs.1,743.15 crore which the central government and the Madhya Pradesh government spent in the aftermath of the tragedy for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims.

The petition said that this was the tax payer’s money, which could not be spent on the wrong committed by the Union Carbide.

Another component of the revised compensations was Rs.315.7 crore which, the petition said, was spent on the handling of the toxic waste left behind by the gas leak.

Salman gets relief in poaching case

Bollywood star Salman Khan Monday got a relief in the 1998 chinkara poaching case as the Jodhpur bench of the Rajasthan High Court allowed him to leave the country without informing it in advance.

The court had imposed the restriction on him before granting bail in the case in 2007. Following that, the actor had to inform the court before leaving the country in connection with movie shootings abroad.

“The court while hearing our application has exempted Salman from the necessity of giving information prior to leaving the country,” said Hastimal Saraswat, advocate for Salman.

Salman and seven others were accused of killing a blackbuck and chinkara in two separate incidents. One of the animals was killed at Bhawad on the outskirts of Jodhpur Sep 26, 1998, and the other at Ghoda Farms Sep 28, 1998.

At that time, they were shooting for the film “Hum Sath Sath Hain”.

Salman moved the high court in August 2007 appealing against a chief judicial magistrate’s order in April 2006 that sentenced him to five years’ rigorous imprisonment in connection with the poaching case.

The actor had to spend a week behind bars after he was granted bail by the high court. Before the court released him on bail, it had asked the actor to give it prior information before leaving the country.

Apex court grants interim relief to Amar Singh, Jaya Prada

The Supreme Court on Monday granted interim relief to former Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh and actor-turned politician Jaya Prada from being expelled as MPs even if they defy their party’s whip in the house.

The apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph granted the relief while referring their matter to a larger bench of the apex court. While Amar Singh is from the Rajya Sabha, Jaya Prada is a Lok Sabha member.

In their six points of references, the bench asked the larger bench to deliberate on the status of the members of parliament who have been expelled from their parties, as also the status of an unattached member.

Both Amar Singh and Jaya Pradha were expelled from Samajwadi Party for their alleged anti-party activities Feb 2.

Both of them were declared as unattached parliamentarians after their expulsion.

Under the existing provisions of the anti-defection law, both of them would forfeit their membership of the parliament if they defy their party’s whip or join any other party.

Both of them had filed a petition, saying that the application of the provisions of the anti-defection law in respect of them was violative of the basic structure of constitution.

Mahesh Bhupathi’s plea on tax relief dismissed

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition by Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi seeking tax relief on Rs.28,50,000 which he said his father spent on his training from 1989-90 to 1993-94.

Mahesh said that, as per the memorandum of understanding between him and his father C.G.K. Bhupathi, he has to pay annual installments of Rs.285,000 to return the money.

Metro accident victim moves court, seeks Rs.50 lakh relief

Twentytwo-year-old Mehjabi who lost her legs in a freak accident at a Metro station in March moved the Delhi High Court Thursday seeking a compensation of Rs.50 lakh from Delhi Metro and a government job.

In her petition, she demanded that the safety standards at Metro stations be improved.

Hearing the petition, Justice S. Muralidhar asked the Delhi Metro to file its reply by Jan 12, 2011.

Through her petition, she asked the court to pass directions to the Delhi Metro to provide a 24-hour ambulance service at busy stations and at all stations during the rush hour. She also demanded a government job.

‘Security personnel should be deployed at all stations to manage the surging crowds. The customer service staff and other personnel should be trained to deal with situations of emergency – a common feature of major metro stations across the globe,’ she said in her petition.

The Delhi Metro must install emergency help buttons which can be activated to report disturbances and to summon help during an emergency, said the petition.

She also said that the Delhi Metro must appoint a 24×7 doctor at the busiest metro stations to assist the needy in times of emergency.

‘The Metro must be directed to install passenger alarms at eye-level in carriages near the double doors and talk back facilities built into these alarms so that passengers can explain to trained staff the problem faced. Also adequate number of CCTV cameras must be installed,’ the petition said.

The petition said that the Delhi Metro must start a safety course for its employees so that that they are equipped with the necessary skills to deal with an accident.

‘Emergency stop plungers should be installed which can be used to stop an approaching train from entering the station. If the train is already at the platform, it will be prevented from moving off,’ said the petition.

In her petition, she alleged that the Metro employees who rescued her were not trained to handle a case of emergency.

‘The Metro employees who went to check on the petitioner (after she came under a train) were neither trained in the administration of first aid nor did they offer medication to stop bleeding,’ it said.

The 22-year-old was doing her journalism course in her hometown Dehradun, and was close to landing a job with a news agency when the incident occurred.

She received artificial limbs free of cost in May from an NGO.

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.

Relief for Congress MP from Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday gave relief to five-time Congress Lok Sabha member Kodikunnil Suresh by staying for three weeks a verdict annulling his election as MP from a constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes. Suresh had filed a petition asking the court to stay the verdict for a month so that he could approach the apex court.

Justice Sasidharan Nambiar granted him three weeks time, but made it clear that during this time he could only attend parliament session but not be eligible for allowances or take part in voting in the Lok Sabha.

The high court had Monday annulled his election as a Lok Sabha member holding that he was ineligible to contest from Mavelikara constituency in Alappuzha district.

Nambiar had ruled that Suresh was not qualified to be a candidate in the Scheduled Caste category and his nomination should not have been accepted. He was ruling on a petition filed by R.S. Anil of the Communist Party of India, whom Suresh defeated in 2009 by a margin of more than 40,000 votes, and two others.

Suresh had previously won four times (1989, 1991, 1996 and 1999) from the Adoor reserved constituency. The petitioners had informed the court that Suresh was born a Christian.