High Court bats for migrant workers’ welfare

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court today directed the central and Tamil Nadu governments to implement a series of suggestions put forward by a lawyer for the welfare of migrant workers.

The suggestions include a comprehensive law for all unorganised labourers, particularly inter-state migrant workers, PAN and Aadhaar cards for them, group insurance and education facility for their children.

A bench of justices S Vimala and T Krishnavalli forwarded the suggestions of advocate Jeya Karthick to the Labour and Employment department of the central and state governments for follow-up action.

The lawyer, who had put forward the suggestions while highlighting the plight of migrant labourers, also wanted the Labour department to maintain a register of migrant labourers, containing details, including their terms of employment.

It was closing a habeas corpus petition filed by Hari Prasad Malgam of Madhya Pradesh, seeking to set free five of his relatives, allegedly in the illegal custody of their employer running a borewell company in Cumbum in the neighbouring Theni district.

A habeas corpus petition is filed to ensure that a person under illegal detention is produced in the court and set free.

The bench noted that the Inter-State Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 had no provision for the protection of individual employees.

The petitioner had alleged that his relatives were under the custody of their employer since March 12 and that they were beaten up by the latter’s henchmen.

During the hearing, the employer alleged that the petitioner had taken a huge amount while agreeing to work along with his relatives.

He had also taken away cash and articles worth Rs 3 lakh from the employer and a police complaint was lodged in this connection. It was, however, withdrawn after a compromise was worked out and hence the petition was not maintainable.

The court then said the petition was liable to be dismissed with a heavy cost, but in view of the poor economic conditions of the labourers, it was sparing them the penalty.

It said the suggestions of the petitioner were well taken and directed the governments to implement them as they would provide legal benefits to the migrant workers.

Supreme Court asks Centre to apprise it on setting up CMB

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to apprise it on May 8 about steps taken for setting up of the Cauvery Management Board (CBM) for implementation of its judgement on distribution of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

The Centre, which was asked by the top court to frame and file a draft Cauvery management scheme by May 3, today asked it to hear the matter a day after the Karnataka polls on the ground that the draft scheme has to be put before the Union Cabinet for approval.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues are busy campaigning in Karnataka and hence the draft could not be placed before the Union Cabinet.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, took strong exception at the submission saying, “This is the end of co-operative federalism and the rule of law in the country. This is the partisan attitude of the union of India to favour Karnataka.”

He referred to the ongoing summer and the water crisis being faced by citizens of Tamil Nadu.

The bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud initially asked the Karnataka government to release four TMC of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu by May 8, but later directed the state to apprise it “as to how much water can be released”.

Earlier the apex court had asked the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to ensure that peace prevails till it finalises the Cauvery management scheme for implementation of its judgment on water distribution.

It said once the Centre places the draft scheme, which would also include Cauvery Water Management Board and Monitoring Authority, it would consider the grievances of all the stakeholder states.

The apex court, in its verdict, had asked the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute. It had modified the CWDT award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.

The top court had on February 16 raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”.

With the apex court’s verdict, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry would be annually entitled to 404.25 tmcft, 284.75 tmcft, 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft of Cauvery water respectively out of the total of 740 tmcft.

High Court asks cricket body if it will seek extra water for IPL pitches, ground

The Bombay High Court today sought to know from the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) if it would seek additional water supply from the Pune civic body for ground and pitch maintenance for six IPL matches shifted to that city from Chennai.

The MCA stadium at Gahunje in Pune will host the remaining six ‘home’ matches of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) after these were shifted from the southern city following protests over the Cauvery water-sharing issue in the Tamil Nadu capital.

A division bench of justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla sought the MCA response while hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Loksatta Movement in 2016.

Opposing holding of IPL matches in Maharashtra, the NGO had raised concerns over water usage for ground management at a time when the state was reeling under drought.

The bench was today informed by the petitioner’s lawyer that while originally 11 matches were to be played in Maharashtra during the ongoing IPL, six games, which were to be played in Chennai, have now been shifted to Pune.

The lawyer argued that the Pune city and rural areas of the district were already facing water shortage.

The judges then sought to know from the MCA, which manages the stadium, if it would be seeking more water than what is being already supplied to it by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Last week, the high court had posed the same query to the Mumbai Cricket Association, which manages the Wankhede stadium, another IPL venue.

The court had asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) if it would supply additional water to the stadium in South Mumbai.

The BMC today filed an affidavit, saying no special water supply would be given to the stadium.

The court posted the petition for further hearing on April 18.

The M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was the home ground of the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK. The IPL franchise played its first home match on April 10 against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Political parties and other groups in Tamil Nadu had demanded that all the IPL matches scheduled in Chennai be cancelled till the Centre forms the Cauvery Water Management Board. They held protests in support of their demand.

The Supreme Court had on February 16 pronounced its verdict on the Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

“The matches had to be shifted out of Chennai as police had said that they were unable to provide security in the prevailing situation” IPL Chairman Rajv Shukla had said on April 12.

SC refuses to entertain woman’s plea claiming to be Jaya’s daughter

SC refuses to entertain woman's plea claiming to be Jaya's daughter
SC refuses to entertain woman’s plea claiming to be Jaya’s daughter

The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a petition of a woman who claimed to be the daughter of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also refused to allow the plea of the woman to conduct DNA test for the purpose of proving her parentage.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for the woman, had also sought cremation of Jayalalithaa as per Hindu rites since she was an Iyengar Brahmin.

The court, however, said the petitioner is at liberty to approach the high court.

( Source – PTI )

Madras HC reserves order on contempt petition by DMK

Madras HC reserves order on contempt petition by DMK
Madras HC reserves order on contempt petition by DMK

The Madras High Court today reserved its order on a contempt plea by the DMK against the Tamil Nadu State Election Commissioner and poll body secretary for not complying with a court order on holding local body polls and excused the officials from personal appearance.

The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, excused SEC M Malik Ferozh Khan and secretary S Rajasekar on an undertaking that they would appear in court whenever required.

Their counsel said there was a doubt whether to follow the census of 1991 or 2011 and when there were two reasonable interpretations, then there was no contempt.

Hence, the government brought out an ordinance, repealing certain provisions of the Acts in force in corporations for the purpose of carrying out delimitation, he said.

Citing the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, the counsel said that by virtue of repealing section 28A, 28AA and 28AAA, section 26 comes into play, as per which delimitation has to be done based on the 2011 census.

He said the delimitation process was being carried out by the Delimitation Commission, headed by the SEC.

Notwithstanding the ordinance, if the court gave a direction to follow the 1991 census, SEC would do so, he said.

Stating that SEC has tendered an unconditional apology, counsel prayed that the court discharge him and requested the court to take a lenient view in the matter.

Senior counsel P Wilson, appearing on behalf of DMK, submitted that if there was confusion, the SEC could have asked the government to issue a notification under section 28 of the Act, dividing the areas.

If the argument was that they could not implement the order because of the ordinance, then the government has to answer why they brought in the Ordinance and did not comply with the court order, he said.

Pointing out that the High Court has said it would not go into delimitation, Wilson sought to know where then was the question of doing delimitation based on 2011 census.

Irrespective of delimitation not being done, the election has to be conducted, he said.

The matter relates to the contempt petition filed by the DMK, represented by its organisation secretary R S Bharathi, seeking to punish the officials for not complying with the orders of the High Court which had earlier directed that the polls be completed by November 17.

In its September 4 order, the court had directed SEC to issue the notification for the polls on September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.

However, citing repeal of certain sections of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994 by the state government through an ordinance on September 3, the SEC had later moved the court, saying there was legal disability in conducting the polls as directed and sought to keep in abeyance the order.

DMK had questioned the urgency to issue the ordinance, and claimed that it showed “sheer abuse of power”.

The local body polls were originally slated to be held in October last year, but were cancelled by Justice N Kirubakaran on a petition by the DMK, seeking among others, appropriate reservation as per latest census and rotation of seats according to the norms.

( Source – PTI )

TN SEC offers unconditional apology in Madras High Court

TN SEC offers unconditional apology in Madras High Court
TN SEC offers unconditional apology in Madras High Court

Tamil Nadu State Election commissioner M Malik Ferozh Khan and its secretary S Rajasekar today tendered an unconditional apology in the Madras High Court on a contempt plea by the DMK over failure by the poll body to conduct the civic elections as directed by the court.

They submitted that preparatory steps have been taken by the State Election Commission (SEC) for conducting the civic polls as directed by the court.

“There is neither wilful nor wanton disobedience” on complying with orders of the court on conducting the local body elections”, they submitted and prayed to close the contempt petition.

When the contempt petition came up for hearing on November 10, first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar adjourned the matter to November 14 which meant the SEC had to appear on that day again.

The matter relates to the contempt petition filed by the DMK, represented by its organisation secretary R S Bharathi, seeking to punish the officials for not complying with the orders of the high court which had earlier directed that the polls be completed by November 17.

The SEC and the secretary had appeared in the court on November 6 and 7 also when their counsel made a plea seeking exemption from their further appearance, which was strongly opposed by the DMK’s senior counsel P Wilson.

The DMK counsel alleged then that the SEC was deliberately postponing the civic polls. The dispensation of the officials’ personal appearance was not a matter of right and they should continue to appear before the court till the disposal of the contempt petition, the counsel said.

Wilson argued that about 1.31 lakh posts in various local bodies, including corporations, and panchayats, to be elected by the people, were lying vacant for more than one year and the court’s order directing the SEC to complete the polls by November 17 was “brazenly defied”.

Quoting the high court contempt rules, the counsel submitted that both the officials should be sent to jail straight away as they “have not only committed contempt so far but also have no intention to obey the court’s order.”

In its September 4 order, the court had directed the SEC to issue the notification for the polls on September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.

However, citing repeal of certain sections of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994 by the state government through an ordinance on September 3, the SEC had later moved the court, saying there was a legal disability in conducting the polls as directed and sought to keep in abeyance the order.

The local body polls were originally slated to be held in October last year, but cancelled by Justice N Kirubakaran on a petition by the DMK seeking among others appropriate reservation as per latest census and rotation of seats according to the norms.

The first bench headed by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee on September 4 directed the SEC to publish election notification for all local bodies before September 18 and to conduct the election by November 17.

As the above order was not complied the original petitioner DMK has filed the contempt petition.

The contempt petition is scheduled to come for hearing tomorrow.

( Source – PTI )

TN chief secy, 3 other IAS officers appear in HC in contempt

TN chief secy, 3 other IAS officers appear in HC in contempt
TN chief secy, 3 other IAS officers appear in HC in contempt

Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and three other IAS officers today appeared in the Madras High Court following its directive on a contempt plea over failure by authorities concerned to reconvey the land acquired by the government for a project.

A division bench comprising justices K K Sasidharan and P Velmurugan said it ordered their appearance only to apprise the chief secretary and others about the sorry state of affairs wherein government officials were not carrying out orders of the high court.

The contempt petition was filed by A B Somu and 11 others seeking action against officials concerned for their failure to implement an earlier court order directing re-conveyance of their land in Koyambedu here acquired by the government for the wholesale vegetable and fruits market.

The high court ordered the re-conveyance of the land as it had not been utilised for the purpose for which it was acquired. The order was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

However, the authorities did not reconvey the land following which the contempt plea was filed.

Holding that the contempt petition was a “classic example” of how the state was flouting court orders, the bench had yesterday asked the chief secretary and others to appear before it.

The then Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Dharmendra Pratap Yadav, incumbent S Krishnan and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority Member-Secretary Vijaya Rajkumar were the other officials who appeared before the bench today.

Justice Sasidharan asked the chief secretary whether she was aware of contempt petitions against government officials filed in the court.

She said in the present petition the land acquired for the market project had been put to use for construction of other government buildings.

She said the land of similar value would be provided to the petitioners in alternative places.

The bench then directed the chief sSecretary to file an affidavit with regard to allotment of alternative land and adjourned the matter.

During earlier hearing, the bench warned that such non-compliance of a judicial order which was confirmed by the apex court would lead to litigants banking on extra constitutional authorities to redress their grievances rather that approaching courts.

( Source – PTI )

TN SEC appears before HC in contempt plea

TN SEC appears before HC in contempt plea
TN SEC appears before HC in contempt plea

Top officials of the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission today appeared before the Madras High Court in connection with a contempt plea by the opposition DMK against them for not complying with a court order on holding local body elections.

State Election Commissioner M Malik Ferozh Khan and its secretary S Rajasekar appeared before the division bench of justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee.

A L Somayaji, counsel for SEC, sought for dispensation of further appearance of the two officials in the contempt matter, which was objected to by DMK’s counsel P Wilson.

Wilson submitted that the SEC was deliberately postponing the civic polls. The dispensation of their personal appearance was not a matter of right and also not automatic.

Till the disposal of the contempt petition, they should continue to appear before the court, he submitted.

The matter relates to the contempt petition filed by the DMK, represented by its organisation Secretary R S Bharathi, seeking to punish the officials for not complying with the orders of the high court which had earlier directed that the polls be completed by November 17.

In its September 4 order, the court had directed the SEC to issue the notification for the polls on September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.

The bench recorded the submissions and posted the matter to November 10 to decide on the plea to dispense with the personal appearance of the SEC officials.

( Source – PTI )

Madras HC expresses shock over enrolment of lawyers without formal education

Madras HC expresses shock over enrolment of lawyers without formal education
Madras HC expresses shock over enrolment of lawyers without formal education

The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu Bar Council and Advocate General Vijay Narayan to issue notices to 713 people, who had enrolled as advocates after getting law degrees based on MA degrees of open universities from 2009 to 2016, for cancellation of their membership.

Justice N Kirubakaran also ordered lodging of a police complaint against 42 people who had enrolled in the state bar council without even furnishing proper documents.

He expressed shock at the people with criminal backgrounds and without formal education getting enrolled as advocates using irregular and illegal means such as purchasing law degrees.

The judge gave the order after hearing submissions by the advocate general, who is the ex-officio chairman of the Tamil Nadu Bar Council, and senior counsels for the Bar Council of India, the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and others on the matter.

The submissions were made during the resumed hearing of a petition by 17 MBSS students of a private medical college seeking transfer to a state-run institution due to a dispute between trustees of their college in which advocates were engaged to resolve the problem.

On October 12, the judge had taken a stern view of the advocates holding ‘kangaroo courts’ to resolve the dispute and had directed that criminal action be taken against them.

He had also directed the Centre to take appropriate steps to streamline the legal profession and told the Bar Council to go in for tighter norms for both admission to law colleges and for approval to new ones.

When the matter came up today, the advocate general submitted that 42 people were enrolled during 2009-2016 as lawyers without furnishing any basic documents and without even providing their addresses.

Though notices were issued to them online, only two replied and one of the person was even found to have enrolled twice.

“Persons who have not even passed 6th or 7th and 10th standards are able to procure open university MA degrees.

Subsequently, the said degrees have been used to get admissions into law colleges and obtain law degrees. Based on the same, they started enrolling (in the bar),” the AG said.

“It is evident from the submissions that the very process of enrolment is a faulty one. Moreover, the process of acquiring a law degree is very easy by irregular and illegal means viz., purchasing degrees for money from letter pad colleges from other states,” the judge said.

“It is very shocking to note that without even any formal education, people with criminal backgrounds are able to get law degree in absentia and able to get enrolled as advocates.

Due to these kinds of unruly elements, problems are created in police stations, in courts and wherever they go,” the judge said.

In fact, they were engaged like rowdy elements to take over the possession of properties and indulge in other property disputes, causing damage to the image of the legal profession, he said.

The judge then referred to an order of a division bench of the court which had prohibited enrolment of a degree holder from an open university.

“Without understanding or incapable of understanding the aforesaid position of law, it is surprising to note that the elected bar council members had allowed enrolling 713 persons with open university MA degree from the year 2009 to 2016,” he said directing issuance of notice to all these people by the state bar council.

He also said for ensuring fair elections to the bar councils, verification, as ordered by the Supreme Court, based on Bar Council of India Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules, 2015 had to be completed to weed out the unruly elements and fake lawyers.

“This order is passed only to ensure that the order of the honourable Supreme Court is implemented by verifying the records of the lawyers and to see that the election with genuine and regular advocates as electorates is conducted,” he said.

( Source – PTI )

Madras HC begins hearing pleas challenging disqualification of MLAs

Madras HC begins hearing pleas challenging disqualification of MLAs
Madras HC begins hearing pleas challenging disqualification of MLAs

The Madras High Court today began hearing a batch of petitions challenging the disqualification of 18 pro-Dhinakaran MLAs by the Tamil Nadu speaker.

Eight of the 18 MLAs had moved court yesterday, challenging the action against them under the anti-defection law.

They attacked Speaker P Dhanapal’s order disqualifying them as MLAs as ‘unauthorised’ and ‘illegal’ in their individual petitions.

The petitioners sought to restrain the speaker, government chief whip S Rajendran, Chief Minister K Palaniswami and the Assembly secretary from interfering with their rights as elected representatives.

Acting on a plea by Rajendran, the speaker had on Monday disqualified 18 MLAs, loyal to sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, under the assembly anti-defection and disqualification rules of 1986 formed in accordance with the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

The chief whip had moved the speaker after the MLAs met Governor Ch Vidaysagar Rao on August 22 and expressed lack of confidence in the chief minister.

Condemning the disqualification, Dhinakaran had said they would legally challenge the speaker’s action.

The petitioners are P Vetrivel, N G Parthiban, P Palaniappan, Jayanthi Padmanabhan, Senthil Balaji, R Murugan, R Balasubramani and S Muthiah.

They sought to quash the disqualification order passed by the speaker as “unauthorised and illegal and without jurisdiction as per the binding law…”

They also asked the court to grant interim stay on the operation and implementation of the September 18 impugned order and permit them to participate in the proceedings of assembly, including the trust vote on the present government.

Senior counsel P R Raman had made a mention before Justice M Duraiswamy and sought an urgent hearing, following which the judge agreed to hear the petitions today, if filed.

With the disqualification of the 18 MLAs, the 234-member assembly has only 215 elected members with one seat being vacant already.

The government now needs only 108 votes to prove its majority in the assembly now in case of a floor test.

( Source – PTI )