Delhi bus corridor to stay: Delhi High Court

On Thursday the High Court of Delhi told that, dismissing a plea seeking the scrapping of the existing bus corridor, “Implementation of BRT (bus rapid transit) corridors in the city of Delhi is not an irrational decision”

The division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Manmohat Singh came out in favour of the controversial 5.8 km Ambedkar Nagar-Moolchand BRT corridor in south Delhi saying that it was capable of “better regulations and discipline”.

The court’s order came two days after the government gave approval to seven new BRT corridors.

 

The High court of Delhi also said. “In the area of road transport, if an existing system is sought to be replaced by a more organised system, capable of better regulations and discipline, then this is an urban transport philosophy, reflected in the decision of the government,”

Both the judges said that such a decision may have its merits and de-merits “but they are best left to the wisdom of the executive and in such matters of policy the accepted principle is that the court should not interfere”.

The court pronounced its judgment on a plea which was filed by NGO Nyaya Bhoomi seeking the scrapping of the BRT corridor, throwing open for cars a road lane reserved for buses

The judges declined the plea and said: “The journey time for cars would continue to increase even if there is no BRT because the number of cars and two-wheelers on the roads of Delhi is increasing by the day and unless BRT is accepted by the citizens of Delhi, the journey time for cars to cover the necessary distance would continue to increase.”

The petitioner’s plea that the buses on the BRT should ply on the left lane of the road was also rejected by the court.

The bench of judges said. “It is a matter of policy, we cannot issue any direction but would highlight that a BRT corridor would require the buses to ply on the central median side because of the right turns which the buses have to take at the crossings and the signals put in place”

They noted that the many of people using personal vehicles for transport had proportionately risen far more than those who used public transport buses.

“The argument in the writ petition that those who create wealth travel on the roads by cars and their time is precious… ignores that unless labour meaningfully participates hand in hand with the capital, by itself the capital would create no wealth. Interests or concerns, beyond what belongs to any one of the 160 million people of Delhi have to be adjudicated keeping in view the interest of all and not a few or a group.”

 

The order added. “Besides, these wealth creators, we are sure, would like to live in a developed country; and we remind ourselves that a developed country is not one where the poor own cars. It is one where the rich use public transport”

The bench also hoped and expected that as a responsible govt., it would look into the specific problem at Chirag Delhi crossing in south Delhi and would take all remedial measures necessary to decongest the traffic there.

Nyaya Bhoomi’s president B.B. Sharan alleged that the corridor was causing inconvenience to the public.

Sharan referred to a survey report of the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) on the functioning of the BRT and sought its scrapping on the ground that it was harassment for the commuters and a complete waste of public money.

During the hearing, the city government had defended the BRT system and criticised the CRRI report terming it “unconstitutional” and “irrational” as it ignored the rights of bus commuters.

The CRRI in its report, prepared after trial runs on the corridor as directed by the court, suggested that “No BRT” option yielded better benefits for this corridor with the given traffic conditions.

The BRT corridor in south Delhi was introduced in 2008 to make bus travel safer and faster, and encourage travel that did not involve cars.

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.

Stay on lawyers paying service tax

The Delhi High Court today issued stay on a notification of the central government regarding imposition of service tax on lawyers. Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjeev Khanna asked the government to file a reply within two weeks and listed the case for hearing on May 23. The notification was to be implemented from May 1.

Earlier on March 24, lawyers of Delhi High Court Bar Association had gone on strike protesting against the imposition of service tax on the lawyers in the new budget presented by the finance ministry as well as the Legal Practitioners Bill 2010 mooted by the Law Ministry.

Court allows 65 detained Pakistanis to stay in jail

A total of 65 Pakistani nationals, detained for staying in India without valid documents, will continue to stay in Tihar Jail as the Delhi High Court Tuesday directed the government not to decide on their deportation till April 28.

The court was hearing a plea to hand over the Pakistanis, detained in 2007, to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is yet to grant them refugee status.

Justice Hima Kohli said: “The union home ministry should not take a decision to deport 65 Pakistani nationals till April 28.”

The court gave its interim order while hearing the petition filed by Pakistani nationals Saifullah Bajwa and others seeking relief.

“Allow us to walk out on bail or else hand us over to the UNHCR,” said the petitioner.

Justice Kohli issued the notices to the central government, the Delhi government and the UNHCR and sought their replies by April 28.

The Pakistani nationals belonging to Gowhar Shahi sect, banned by the Pakistan government, have been under detention in Tihar Jail since April 23, 2007, after they staged a demonstration demanding asylum in India.

“Refusing to return to their homeland, they had during their protests burnt the Pakistani flag, their passports and visa papers,” said the petition.

A division bench of the court earlier directed the central government not to deport the Pakistanis till March 2011 on the ground that the UNHCR had completed their interviews and a final report about their refugee status was yet to come.

Niira Radia seeks stay on release of film based on her life

Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia Thursday approached the Delhi High Court which issued a notice to the producer of the film “Monica-the Politics of Murder” on her plea against the release of the movie on the ground that it depicts her private life in a “scandalous” manner.

Kush Bhargava, a Lucknow-based Congress leader, is the producer of the movie starring award winning actor Ashutosh Rana. It is scheduled to be released on Friday.

. “Issue notice to the respondent (Kush Bhargava) asking him to file a copy of the script of the film or a CD by the next date of hearing,” Justice V.K. Jain said.

Radia, Director of Vaishnavi Corporate Communications Private Ltd who has been in news after the leakage of her tapped conversations with corporate heads, journalists and political leaders, has filed the petition seeking “permanent injunction” against the release of the film.

“The plaintiff (Radia) has not assigned anyone the right to make a film based on her life or any film showing the the life of the petitioner, however, minuscule and the production of the film in such a brazen manner and public viewing of such film will tarnish or damage her image and reputation beyond repair which cannot be compensated,” Anip Sachthey, lawyer for the lobbyist, said.

The lawyer also cited a news report which said “the Congress leader Bhargava will release a film on the infamous telecom scam on March 25. Divya Dutta, the protagonist, will have shades of both Shivani Bhatnagar (the Indian Express journalist killed in 1999) and Niira Radia.”

The other actors of the film included Yashpal Sharma and Kittu Gidwani.

Before issuing the notice, Justice Jain, during the hearing, said “after all, it is the Censor Board which has given it a certificate after viewing it.”

After being argued that Radia was not a public figure and her right to privacy, guaranteed under the Constitution, be respected as it superseded the right to freedom of speech and expression. “If you speak to public figures and discuss matters, which relate to the affairs of the state, then you cannot claim that such things, if communicated, violate your right to privacy,” Justice Jain said.

Earlier, the courts have watched a movie based on slain bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi to ensure the rights of such persons are not infringed, Radia’s counsel reasoned. “In any case, neither the script nor the VCD of the film is before the court and without looking on them, how can an opinion be formed,” the court said, adding that the notice be served on the producer who is directed to bring either the VCD or the copy of the script.

Court declines stay on Andhra micro-finance ordinance

The Andhra Pradesh High Court Friday declined to stay an ordinance brought by the state government last week to regulate micro-finance institutions (MFIs) in the state.

A division bench of Chief Justice Nisar Ahmed Kakru and Justice Vilas Afzalpurkar asked the MFIs to register within a week as required by the government ordinance but directed the government to take action only against those MFIs violating the rules.

Dealing with a petition filed by the Micro-finance Institutions Network (MFIN) challenging the validity of the ordinance, the court issued interim directions to both the state government and MFIs.

MFIs have been allowed to collect repayments in the meanwhile, with the judges observing that they can collect their dues in accordance with the norms.

The state government was also asked not to file cases against the managers and employees of MFIs visiting the houses of the borrowers to collect repayments.

The MFIN and SKS Microfinance had challenged the ordinance on the ground that that the micro-finance players are under the regulatory purview of the Reserve Bank of India and that the ordinance had resulted in a standstill for micro-finance business in the state.

The petitioners had also challenged the mandatory registration of MFIs as prescribed by the ordinance.

The court adjourned the final hearing on the petition.

The government Oct 15 had issued an ordinance to regulate MFIs following public outcry over reported suicides of 45 borrowers in six weeks due to harassment by MFIs.

It provides for three-year imprisonment and Rs.1 lakh penalty for agents or working directors of MFIs harassing the borrowers.

Meanwhile, despite the ordinance the suicides by borrowers are continuing. Unable to bear the alleged harassment by collectors, a farmer committed suicide in Guntur district Friday.

Srinivas, who had taken a loan from a MFI, consumed pesticides at his home in Srirangapuram village.

Apex court extends stay on Sterlite’s shut down

The Supreme Court Monday extended the interim stay on the Madras High Court order closing down the Sterlite Industries copper smelter plant at Tuticorin In Tamil Nadu till the second week of December.

Hearing the special leave petition (SLP) filed by Sterlite against the High Courts order, the apex court extended the stay granted earlier and asked the company to file all the reports that were placed before the High Court.

Sterlite Industries, part of the Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Resources, had filed the SLP claiming that the high court did not give it a proper hearing and ignored its submissions.

“The court was upset as the company did not file the NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) report that was against it. It had submitted another NEERI report that was favourable,” S.M.Jadhav, advocate representing National Trust for Clean Environment (NTCE), told .

He said the court directed Sterlite to submit all the reports and also file an affidavit on the action taken on the undertaking it had given earlier on disposal of solid waste while praying for High Court orders stay.

“The court also directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to file a status report,” Jadhav said.

According to him, a notice has been issued to the environment and forest ministry on the subject.

Meanwhile, employees and workers at the smelter plant heaved a sigh of relief on the apex courts decision.

Last month the Madras High Court had ordered immediate closure of the copper smelter plant for violating environmental laws and causing pollution.

Delivering its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by NTCE and MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, a bench of Justice Elipe Dharmarao and Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar also said the employees were entitled to compensation under Section 25 of the Industrial Disputes Act.

The act provides for payment of compensation at the rate of 16 days wages for every completed years of service on closure of a plant.

The high court also asked the Tuticorin district collector to take necessary steps for the re-employment of the factory workers in other organisations around Tuticorin to the extent possible to protect their livelihood.

Quashing the environmental clearances given by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for the original setting up of the plant as well as subsequent capacity expansion, the court said the plant had come up within the 25 km of the environmentally fragile zone near the Gulf of Mannar.

MDMK Legal Wing Secretary G. Devadoss meanwhile said: “We have hired a lawyer to appear on our behalf in the Supreme Court.”

Court declines Larsen and Toubro’s plea ro stay bidding

The Delhi High Court Tuesday declined the plea of Larsen and Toubro Power to stay the bidding by state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation for the Rs.25,000 crore power equipment tender.

“We are not inclined to pass any interim relief in favour of L&T,” the court said while refusing to intervene in the bidding process. The company had dragged the NTPC to the court after it disqualified L&T Power’s bid in the Rs.25,000 crore bulk tender, citing technical irregularities.

The NTPC had issued tender for bulk ordering of supercritical power equipment for 7,200 MW projects, with a pre-condition that the bidder should have manufacturing facility in India in order to promote domestic companies.

The firm was disqualified by the NTPC for supplying boilers and turbines on the ground that the technology collaboration agreement for equipments was between its parent company (L&T) and Mitsubishi Industries Ltd, and not directly with L&T Power itself.

The NTPC said it had to scrap the tender and call for fresh bids after L&T Power’s disqualification because the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) was the sole bidder left for the project.