The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to pay due compensation to the families of three manual scavengers who died while cleaning a septic tank at a hotel in Kancheepuram district last week.
The first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose gave the direction when A Narayanan, representing Change India NGO, made a mention of the death of three persons while performing manual scavenging at the hotel in Sriperumbudur, 50 km from here, on February 14.
To this the bench said, “They must be compensated immediately.”
Requesting the bench to take up the public interest litigation (PIL) with regard to manual scavenging, Narayanan submitted that despite awareness being created about the social evil, the employment of manual scavengers continued.
On his part, the government counsel submitted that already two persons were arrested in connection with the incident and more arrests are likely to be made
The Madras High Court today directed the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to inform it about the fate of 551 fishermen from Kanyakumari region who are reported missing in the aftermath of cyclone Ochki.
Issuing notices on a petition filed by a resident of Kanyakumari district, which bore the brunt of the cyclone fury, justices R Subbiah and A D Jagadish Chandra ordered the two governments to submit their replies by December 22.
Petitioner Anto Lenin submitted that thousands of fishermen had ventured into the sea on November 29-30 from Kanyakumari district when the cyclone hit southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala coast.
He contended that both the central and state governments failed to issue cyclone warning to the fishermen. Those involved in deep sea fishing were not aware of the cyclone and got trapped.
He also alleged the governments did not take steps to trace them using helicopter immediately after the cyclone. Had they pressed in the helicopters on the next day of the cyclone, the fishermen in deep sea could have been rescued, he argued.
The petitioner claimed that according to a survey conducted between December 3-11, it was found that 551 fishermen were missing.
The fishermen’s families are anxious about their fate, he said and sought the court’s direction to the governments to trace and them.
The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu Government to stop all sand mining and quarrying activities in the state within six months and to not open any new sand quarries.
Justice R Mahadevan in his order said that sand had been quarried beyond permitted level affecting the flow of water in rivers and impacting agriculture in the state.
Besides, ground water level had also dipped in several places due to mining of sand, he noted.
The judge pointed out that Kerala had already stopped mining of sand in six rivers.
The order was passed on a petition filed by M R M Ramaiya seeking a direction to the state government to permit him to sell the river sand he had imported from Malaysia and stored at the Tuticorin port.
The judge ordered that quarries of granites and other minerals, except gravel, be periodically closed to maintain ecological balance.
The state government should take a decision to import river sand by the state-owned corporation in order to meet the demand in the state if there were no legal impediments, he said.
It should set up permanent check posts equipped with CCTV cameras to curb illegal mining of sand, he added.
The court also directed that a committee be constituted to ascertain the loss to the state exchequer due to illegal mining and recover the same from companies, individuals or government servants found responsible for it.
Sale of imported sand should be carried out by following provisions under GST laws, the judge said, adding the government should “bring an enactment to regulate and handle such imported sand within the state”.
When the matter came up, the petitioner submitted that he had imported one lakh tonnes of sand from Malaysia and sold 96 tonnes to a customer in Marthandam in Kanyakumari district.
However, the collector of that district had seized the lorries carrying the imported sand.
Several representations made to the collector and other officials to release the impounded vehicles proved futile, the petitioner said.
As per rules, there was no bar on transporting imported sand, he contended.
The petitioner claimed he possessed all necessary documents to prove that he had imported sand from Malaysia and even paid GST for the same.
Besides, officials in Tamil Nadu have no jurisdiction to prevent the sale of the imported sand in Kerala, the petitioner argued.
To this, the advocate general said the state government has the right to insist on licence for transportation and storage of the river sand.
The petitioner failed to prove that the sand imported by him was river sand and the same had to be chemically analysed to ensure it did not contain any hazardous or heavy metals in public interest, the AG said.
The district collector was empowered to issue any orders for inspection and proper implementation of Tamil Nadu Prevention of Illegal Mining Transportation and Storage of Minerals Act, he added.
Though the court did not undermine the demand for sand, the judge said sand mining cannot be done endangering the existence itself.
The state should keep public interest as paramount and rise to the occasion to protect and preserve the natural resources which would pave the way for a better life for the future generation, the court said.
The Madras High Court today set aside government orders banning two Tamil books written by K Senthil Mallar with a condition that “provoking contents” in the books be altered or deleted.
A full bench, comprising Justices M M Sundresh, Pushpa Sathyanarayana and R Mahadevan, passed the order while disposing two pleas by the author of the books – ‘Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru’ and ‘Venthar Kulathin Irupppidam Ethu? – challenging the government ban orders dated May 30, 2013 and August 19, 2015.
The government had banned the books under section 95 of the CrPC, fearing they could incite violence and promote ill- will among various communities.
The bench said the petitioner cannot call himself the voice of his community.
“The notification or de-notification of a caste from the schedule or another category are within the domain of the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment,” it said.
“The decisions are still taken on the basis of social and economic factors by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Backward Classes.”
The court referred to several portions in the books which were allegedly in the nature of spreading hatred and disharmony and posing a threat to public order and security of the state.
When the court cited the portions, the petitioner agreed to make certain alterations in the books.
As most of the changes suggested by the court were also accepted by the government, the bench said: “Under such circumstances, the impugned orders are liable to be set aside, provided that the petitioner complies with the references and bibliography as pointed out by the Public (SC) Department, in addition to altering/deleting provoking contents.
The Madras High Court today issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition challenging the latter’s proposal to convert the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa into a memorial.
Justice K Ravichandra Baabu sought the government’s response by October 23 on the petition filed by J Deepa, niece of the late AIADMK leader.
The petitioner prayed for an interim injunction restraining authorities from transforming the property pursuant to a release issued by Chief Minister K Palaniswami in this regard recently.
She submitted that her paternal grandmother Vedavalli alias Sandhya had purchased several properties in and around Chennai and died in 1971 leaving behind her son Jayakumar and daughter Jayalalithaa as successors to her estate.
Deepa claimed that her father got married after her grandmother’s death and lived in a joint family with his wife, children as well as his sister (Jayalalithaa) in the same house for a long time.
Later, for the sake of convenience, the family had to move to the present residence at T Nagar here, she said.
Deepa further submitted that Jayalalithaa died last year leaving behind her and her brother as second class legal heirs to succeed to her entire estate which also includes the Poes Garden residence.
Noting that she had to continue the legacy of her aunt “due to undue pressure and love of the AIADMK cadres”, Deepa said she was shocked to come across a government press release about converting her aunt’s Poes Garden residence into a memorial.
“The press release of the chief minister is without any basis and he (K Palaniswami) has got no locus standi to issue it with respect to a private property which lawfully belongs to me and my brother,” she said.
The petitioner alleged that in a haste, officials of the revenue and tourism departments are surveying the property “which is nothing but illegal”.
Palaniswami had on August 17 announced that his government would convert Jayalalithaa’s ‘Veda Nilayam’ residence here into a memorial.
The Tamil Nadu government today informed the Madras High Court that a total of 33,487 government teachers, affiliated to six unions, were abstaining from work across the state.
Additional Advocate General Venkatramani representing the state government informed this to the court in an affidavit containing replies to various other queries raised yesterday by Justice N Kirubakaran with regard to a section of government teachers who are on strike pressing for their demands.
In its affidavit, the state government further said that retired teachers were also working as office-bearers in the unions.
The High Court had yesterday pulled up a section of Tamil Nadu government school teachers who are on strike, saying it affected students.
Justice Kirubakaran made the observations on a petition by advocate A P Suryaprakasam, seeking a direction to the state government to form an expert committee to prepare students who scored low marks in NEET (National Eligibility- cum-Entrance Test) and provide them moral support.
The court had also sought information from the authorities concerned on the number of teachers unions striking without attending classes, among others.
The Joint Action Council of Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO) had given a call for the strike from September 7 to press for their demands, including restoration of the old pension scheme.
The Supreme Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure that no agitation takes place in the state over the NEET examination issue.
The apex court directed that anybody involved in any kind of activity that stalls normal life of citizens in the state should be booked under the appropriate law.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra passed the direction observing that the NEET examination had already been upheld by the apex court.
“As an interim measure, it is directed that it shall be the obligation of the chief secretary and principal secretary of Tamil Nadu to ensure that no agitation takes place in relation to the NEET examination that has been upheld by this court,” the bench, also comprising A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
The top court issued notice to Tamil Nadu government on a plea seeking a direction to the state to maintain law and order situation and ensure that no agitation, strike or protest by political parties or individuals be allowed against the NEET examination.
The petitioner had also submitted that normal life of citizens was gravely affected due to the ongoing protests on the issue in the state.
The bench will now hear the matter on September 18.
The Madras High Court today stayed an indefinite strike by government employees and teachers in Tamil Nadu, after a PIL was filed seeking ban on the stir.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by T Sekaran, Justices K K Sasidharan and G R Swaminathan of the High Court’s Madurai bench passed an interim order staying the strike and said it should not affect health services, education and the administration.
The Joint Action Council of Government Teachers and Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO) had given a call for the strike from today to press for their demands, including restoration of the old pension scheme.
During the hearing, the bench observed that teachers should not use strike as a tool and could press for their demands through other means.
The judges also directed office bearers of JACTO-GEO to be impleaded as respondents and ordered them to file their counter on September 14.
The petitioner had yesterday submitted that the council had claimed that 12 lakh teachers and employees would join the strike and added that the public would be affected by it.
Sekaran contended that though he had sent a representation to the chief secretary of the state seeking to prevent the employees from going on a strike and ensure smooth functioning of government offices and educational institutes, no action had been taken.
He had also alleged that the strike had been called to “threaten” the state government and to get hike their pay.
The employees were already getting adequate salary and if their pay was further hiked, the government would not be able to implement welfare programmes, the petitioner had said in the PIL.
He had said that instead of finding an alternative way to project their demands, the employees were trying to bring the functioning of the government to a halt by resorting to strike.
The petitioner had claimed that strike was not a basic right and it was against the service and conduct rules.
Taking a serious view of the Blue Whale Challenge game, the Madras High Court today directed the Central and Tamil Nadu governments to explore possibilities of banning it.
Initiating suo motu proceedings in the matter, Justices K K Sasidharan and G R Swaminathan of Madurai bench issued notice to the Union Information and Broadcasting Secretary and state Home Secretary and IT department and made several suggestions.
The bench asked them to find out the possibility of banning the game and directed that IIT-Madras Director be impleaded in the case to offer suggestions to ban such online games.
During the hearing of the matter, the state government informed the court that the student who ended his life here had shared the game with 75 others. However, all of them had been prevented from playing it, the government counsel added.
The judges suggested to the state DGP and Home Secretary that severe warning be issued to those who shared the ‘dangerous’ online game with others.
On September 1, the court had said it would take up the case suo motu when Krishnamurthy, an advocate, made an appeal for a direction to the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry to ban such games.
The advocate made the plea after 19-year old Vignesh, a private college student, allegedly committed suicide on August 30 here after playing the game.
Vignesh had reportedly told his friends that he was “crazy” about the game and also told his parents that he was getting isolated due to his addiction for it.
Later in a suicide note, he had said “The game was a devastating one… once you enter it, you would not be able to come out.”
The bench also said monitoring should be intensified to prevent further spread of the game through sharing.
The court stressed on the need for creating awareness among students against playing such “dangerous” online games in educational institutions.
To this, CB-CID police officials present at the court said they were keeping a close watch and taking steps to freeze the game.
Warning had been issued against those sharing and downloading the “deadly” online game, they added.
The state government also informed the court that Vignesh had shared the game through Facebook and “Share it” App with 75 others. All had been prevented from playing the game, it said.
The IT department should also give suggestions to prevent the sharing of such “dangerous” online games, the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing to September 7.
The Blue Whale Challenge is reportedly a suicide game in which the player is given certain tasks to complete over a period of 50 days and the final task leads him or her to commit suicide.
The player is also asked to share photos after finishing each challenge.
The Madras High Court today directed authorities to change the name and gender in the education certificates of a person, who underwent sex reassignment surgery from female to male.
Justice N Kirubakaran gave the direction to the School Education Department, Controller of Examination, Madras University and the Controller of Examinations, Anna University on a petition filed by the person.
While referring to the report of a corporate hospital that the man has had sex-reassignment surgery from female to male on August 27, 2016 and also underwent psycho-legal counselling, the judge said that as is evident from the records and as certified by the doctor, the request of the petitioner to change name and sex in the education certificates has to be carried out by the authorities within four weeks.
The judge also suo motu impleaded the Centre, Health and Family Welfare Department Secretary, union secretary of Social Justice and Empowerment and Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice department as respondents.
The Judge issued notice to Assistant Solicitor General and directed him to get instructions when the bill on Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, which is pending in the Lok Sabha, would be passed and also whether is it possible to consider transgender as a separate special group for the purpose of education, employment and other social benefits.
“Since the issue relates to transformation of female to male and in view of many similar cases reported in the media, it is the Union government which has to take appropriate steps as it alone is vested with the powers to bring out an appropriate Act”, the judge said.
The Judge posted the matter for further hearing to September 4 and directed the petitioner to be present in the Court on that day.