Debate over Uttar Pradesh move to add 17 OBC castes in Supreme Court list

Days after the Uttar Pradesh government included 17 castes under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category to the list of Scheduled Castes (SCs), officials in the Union social justice & empowerment ministry said the move is illegal & can be challenged in the court.

The ministry, which is the nodal ministry for issues related to SCs, Scheduled Tribes (STs) & OBCs, is yet to formally take up the issue with the state’s Yogi Adityanath government. But officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the state government has not followed the process laid down by the law.

“Any amendment to the list of SCs can be made only by an Act of Parliament, in view of clause (2) of Article 341 of Constitution. Anything other than that is ultra vires,” said an official.

The official added a caste or community can be declared SC if it faces extreme social, educational & economic backwardness arising out of traditional practice of untouchability.

“This is not the first time such attempt is made by the Uttar Pradesh government. Previous governments [of Mulayam Singh & Akhilesh Yadav] also tried to change the category of these communities. But the Allahabad high court quashed the moves as the registrar general of India (RGI) did not approve of them. As per the law, if the RGI has refused to allow the change even after the second reference, then it cannot be sent for consideration a third time,” said a second official on condition of anonymityThe state government’s move was seen as an attempt to create more space for those communities, which have not been able to benefit from the quota for the OBCs. The Centre has also appointed a commission to propose sub categorisation of the OBCs. The panel will carve out a way for those backward communities to benefit from reservations which have lost out so far.

P S Krishna, a former bureaucrat said, any change that has to be made to the SC list can be done only by an Act of Parliament. “If the government wants, it can help the most socially & educationally backward communities on the list of Economically Backward Classes, by complete categorisation of these castes & provide them all benefits of reservation…without wrongly calling them SCs.”

SC seeks reply from UP govt in Convict’s appeal against death penalty

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has sought the Uttar Pradesh government’s response on a plea by a death-row convict challenging the Allahabad High Court’s judgement upholding the capital punishment awarded to him for burning alive his son and two brothers.

A vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the state on the appeal and called for the original records of the case.

The counsel representing convict Irfan requested the apex court to stay the execution of sentence.

“When the appeal is pending before us, nobody is going to be executed,” the bench observed.

“Intimation of this matter be sent to the concerned jail authority,” the bench noted in its order.

Irfan challenged the April 25 verdict of the high court which had upheld the death penalty awarded to him by a trial court in Bijnor district.

Fifty-year-old Irfan was convicted by the trial court for offences under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including murder.

According to the police, Irfan had set the room, in which his son and two brothers were sleeping, on fire by pouring inflammable substance and bolted the door from outside on the intervening night of August 5-6, 2014.

It had said that injured persons — Irshad, Naushad and Islamuddin — were rushed to a hospital in Delhi where they died during the treatment.

The police had also said Islamuddin opposed his father’s second marriage leaving Irfan annoyed.

Irfan had assaulted his son two days prior to the incident and Irshad and Naushad had mediated between them, the police said.

Following the incident, a complaint was lodged by Irfan’s father-in-law.

During the trial, Irfan alleged that he was falsely implicated in the case by some of his relatives so as to deny a share in their ancestral property.

Ex-CMs Mulayam, Akhilesh move Supreme Court for time to vacate official homes

Former UP chief ministers Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav today moved the Supreme Court seeking “appropriate time” for vacating their official residences allotted by the Uttar Pradesh government.

The top court had on May 7 held that former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh cannot retain government accommodation after demitting office and said that a chief minister was at par with a common man once his or her term ends.

The two former Chief Ministers had earlier moved the UP government’s estate department seeking two years’ time to vacate their official residences and shifting to their private accommodations in Lucknow.

In their pleas filed through advocate Garima Bajaj, they have sought appropriate time to vacate their official bungalows on various grounds.

While the plea filed by Mulayam Singh Yadav sought sufficient time from the supreme court to make arrangements for alternate accommodation, the one by his son Akhilesh has urged the court to consider the security of his family.

“We are requesting the Supreme Court to grant us sufficient time to make arrangements for a suitable alternate accommodation, taking into consideration the security of the petitioner and his family members,” Akhilesh said in his plea.

“Grant us sufficient time to make arrangements for a suitable alternate accommodation, taking into consideration the security of the petitioner, age and ill health,” plea by Mulayam Singh Yadav said.

The pleas by the father-son duo has been filed in the backdrop of the May 7 apex court judgement that had struck down an amendment in a state legislation allowing former Chief Ministers to retain government accommodations even after demitting office.

Shortly after this verdict, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, who were Chief Ministers earlier, had informed the estate department that they will vacate the government bungalows.

Rajnath Singh and Kalyan Singh are among the six former chief ministers who have been asked by the estate department to vacate the bungalows within 15 days in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order.

However, former UP chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati recently put up a signboard outside her official accommodation in Lucknow announcing that it was a memorial named after the party founder late Kanshiram.

The top court had passed the order on a petition filed by an NGO Lok Prahari challenging the amendments made by the erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav government to the ‘UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981’.

In its order, it had observed that a Chief Minister cannot continue to occupy public property like government bungalows which belong to the people of the country and said the provision had the effect of creating a separate class of citizens for conferment of benefits by way of distribution of public property on the basis of the previous public office held by them.

The court, in its 29-page order, had said once such persons demit public office, there is nothing to distinguish them from the common man.

The apex court had also said that in a democratic republican government, public servants, entrusted with duties of public nature, must act in a manner that reflects that the ultimate authority is vested in the citizens and it is to the citizens, that the holders of all public offices are eventually accountable.

The NGO had also challenged another UP law of 2016 called ‘The Allotment of Houses under Control of the Estate Department Bill-2016’ to regulate the allotment of government accommodation to trusts, journalists, political parties, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of legislative assembly, judicial officers and government officials.

The supreme court had sought the UP government’s response in November 2016, after the plea claimed that state government has sought to skirt the Supreme Court verdict of August 1, 2016 by amending the law.

In that verdict, the apex court had held that the practice of allotting government bungalows to former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh was bad in law and they should hand over their possession in two months.

It had also said the state government should recover appropriate rent from the occupants of these bungalows for the period of their “unauthorised occupation”.

HC dismisses petition in 2007 Gorakhpur riot case

The Allahabad High Court has dismissed a plea seeking an independent probe into an FIR related to the 2007 Gorakhpur riot case in which the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and the then Gorakhpur MP, Yogi Adityanath, was one of the accused.

A bench of Justices Krishna Murari and Akhilesh Chandra Sharma dismissed the petition filed by Parvez Parwaz and Asad Hayat, saying it did not find any procedural irregularity in the order of refusal to grant sanction to prosecute the accused in the case.

Parwaz was the complainant in the FIR registered in connection with the riot case and Hayat a witness.

During the pendency of the writ petition, prosecution sanction was denied by the principal secretary (home) on May 3, 2017, which too was challenged by the petitioners.

In the writ petition, the petitioners had requested the court to order a probe by an independent agency into the FIR filed in 2008 in Gorakhpur against the then MP Yogi Adityanath and three others in a case of alleged communal violence on January 27, 2007.

It was alleged in the FIR that Adityanath, the then mayor of the city, Anju Chaudhri, the then MLA Radha Mohan Agarwal and another person had incited communal violence and riot in Gorakhpur in 2007.

Stating that the matter was being investigated by the CB-CID, the petitioner expressed concern that the state police may not act impartially and requested that the investigation be transferred to an independent agency.

‘Install online air monitoring systems, RO in Singrauli’

'Install online air monitoring systems, RO in Singrauli'
‘Install online air monitoring systems, RO in Singrauli’

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments to to install online air quality monitoring systems in Singrauli and Sonebhadra districts after a plea alleged pollution in these areas due to industrial and mining activities.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also ordered installation of reverse osmosis (RO) water purification plants so that the residents get potable water.

Land for installation of RO plant would be provided by the state government or the village panchayat and the entire cost for installation and maintenance would be borne by the industries, the bench said.

“We direct the Member Secretary of state pollution control boards, District Magistrates and the concerned officer of the industry or the thermal plant to ensure that every village in Singrauli region including coal mining area, is provided with an RO plant to ensure that residents of the village get potable water.

“All the industries shall be liable to bear the cost in discharge of their corporate social responsibility as well as on the fact that the existing pollution is attributable to them in one way or the other,” the bench said.

All the stone crushers which are operating in these regions without permission from the competent authority should be shut down without further notice, the NGT said.

“The stone crushers which are permitted to operate would also be responsible for installation of RO system at the place where there are number of stone crushers running and they would be guided by the same directions as above,” it said.

The tribunal formed two supervisory committees in both the states comprising secretary of the Environment department of the respective states, Member Secretaries of state pollution control boards, District Magistrates and others which would submit a monthly report.

The order came as the NGT disposed of a plea filed by advocate Advocate Ashwani Dubey opposing power projects in Singrauli and Sonebhadra districts on the ground that they were causing air and water pollution.

The lawyer had also opposed grant of sanction for any new project or expansion of the existing units till an action plan for improving environment is implemented.

The petition had also sought that existing power plants and other industries in the area be directed to install modern devices and equipment for controlling or minimising pollution they are allegedly causing.

Earlier, a core committee set up by the NGT to inspect areas in Singrauli and Sonebhadra districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, where coal mines and thermal plants are operating, had submitted its interim report on the environment and the health of the people.

In a detailed report, the committee had submitted that heavy industrial activities in the region were a major source of pollution in the area and the ground water in the villages near Singrauli was contaminated with high fluoride and mercury concentration.

In 2015, the tribunal had constituted a core committee for monitoring of potential hazards of industrial development in Singrauli area and five sub committees for quantification of industrial pollution and impact assessment of water, air, soil and health in and around Singrauli.

It had also directed that expenditure in conducting the inspection, survey and studies would be met by the respective state governments for the region and they may be permitted to recover it from industrial units, thermal power and coal mines.

( Source – PTI )

Urban homeless: SC pulls up UP & WB, summons chief secretaries

Urban homeless: SC pulls up UP & WB, summons chief secretaries
Urban homeless: SC pulls up UP & WB, summons chief secretaries

The Supreme Court today pulled up governments of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal for showing “lack of concern” over the issue of providing shelter to urban homeless in their states and asked their chief secretaries to appear before it.

The top court, after going through the affidavit filed by Uttar Pradesh, observed it was quite clear that the state was unable to provide shelter to urban homeless and implement the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) scheme.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta expressed anguish that West Bengal government has not filed an affidavit giving all particulars, including a road map on the issue, despite the apex court’s direction.

When the lawyer appearing for West Bengal government told the court that they would file the affidavit today, the bench observed, “this is total lack of concern for urban homeless.

Your state has not done it. This cannot go on. You tell us one thing and your state government do something else.”

The bench directed the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal to appear before it on January 10 to inform it as to how these states proposes to implement the NULM scheme.

At the outset, the apex court referred to the affidavit filed by Uttar Pradesh government and said that state has no plans on urban homeless and it was not possible for it to implement the scheme.

“It is impossible for you (Uttar Pradesh) to implement the scheme,” the bench said, adding, “look at your roadmap. It is zero, nothing is there”.

“It (scheme) started in 2013. For four years, you have done nothing. You admit it that you cannot do it. You do not have land, money and perhaps you do not have the will,” the court told the counsel representing Uttar Pradesh

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, argued that the court should crack the whip on these states.

“Land is given to big capitalists but land is not available to provide shelter for poor people. You (court) have to crack the whip,” he said, adding that something drastic has to be done.

Meanwhile, the bench referred to an affidavit filed by the Centre and said the Union of India has suggested the court to appoint a committee in each states to deal with the issue of urban homeless.

The Centre also apprised the court that a special audit has been directed to look into the aspect of utilisation of funds by Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal given under the scheme.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Haryana, placed on record a vision document on urban homeless in the state along with a road map and timeline.

The bench purused the document placed by Mehta and asked the Centre to circulate it to other states as well.

The apex court had on November 23 directed these states to place before it a roadmap on implementation of scheme for urban homeless, saying it was the government’s “obligation” to help these poor people.

The petitioners had earlier referred to the report of the apex court-appointed committee headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice Kailash Gambhir and said the number of shelter homes in these states were much less than what was required.

The court is first dealing with the status of three states — Haryana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh — among 11 and two Union Territories which have been highlighted by the apex court-appointed committee to oversee implementation of NULM scheme across the country.

( Source – PTI )

Special schools for children with disability needed: SC to UP

Special schools for children with disability needed: SC to UP
Special schools for children with disability needed: SC to UP

The Supreme Court today asked Uttar Pradesh to come up a mechanism for promotion and facilitation of inclusive education, so that students suffering from disability are not kept away from mainstream education.

The court sought a reply from the state government on how it would work out the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, by providing inclusive education in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said an affidavit should be filed by secretary of UP’s department of education, while keeping in mind the provisions of the Act dealing with equality and non-discrimination.

“The affidavit shall also contain the number of disabled children in the State of UP and the categories of the disability,” it said.

Additional Advocate General Aishwarya Bhati filed an affidavit in the apex court in pursuance of its earlier order and said the state government was keen to have special schools with special teachers to impart education to the disabled children who cannot be taught in normal schools.

She said 16 special schools have already been established, which are functional, and teachers have been appointed there.

These schools were imparting education to visually impaired, hearing and speech impaired, mentally disabled and physically disabled children, she said, adding that these schools have residential facilities and admit students in the non-residential category also.

The state government also said that seven schools for visually impaired were located in Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Banda, Saharanpur and Meerut cities while five schools for hearing and speech impaired are in Gorakhpur, Bareilly, Agra, Farukhabad and Lucknow cities.

With regard to mental disability, it said there were two schools running at Allahabad and Lucknow, while two special schools for the physically disabled were functioning in Lucknow and Pratapgarh.

Bhati said 17 more schools were under construction for children with special needs.

The top court also constituted a two member committee of advocates Rishi Malhotra and Gopal Shankaranarayanan to visit the schools and file a report in six weeks. It listed the matter for further hearing in the third week of January.

Earlier, the top court had questioned the lack of separate schools and distinctly trained teachers for students who suffer from autism, blindness and deafness.

It had observed that it is “impossible to think” that children, who are disabled or suffer from any kind of disability or are mentally challenged, can be imparted education in mainstream schools along with normal children.

Emphasising the need for a separate system, the court had said “the students who suffer from blindness, deafness and autism or such types of disorder may be required to have separate schools with distinctly trained teachers”.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by Rajneesh Kumar Pandey, through advocate Prashant Shukla, claiming lack of sufficient number of special educators in Uttar Pradesh and other states to teach the Children With Special Needs (CWSN).

The petition by 17 teachers, who claim to have undertaken the training required to teach CWSN, has contended that to make Right to Education a success, it is necessary that qualified special educators are there in each school to help disabled kids prepare to face the challenges of life.

( Source – PTI )

SC notice to govt, Amrapali on plea of home buyers

SC notice to govt, Amrapali on plea of home buyers
SC notice to govt, Amrapali on plea of home buyers

The Supreme Court today sought the response of the government and two Amrapali Group firms on a plea by over 100 hassled home buyers seeking that their interests be safeguarded by treating them as secured creditors like banks and financial institutions.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the central government and the Amrapali Group and asked them to respond within four weeks.

The home buyers, who have neither got possession of flats, nor refund of their hard-earned invested money, had booked homes in the Amrapali Centurion Park-Low Rise project, Amrapali Centurion Park-Terrace Homes and Amrapali Centurion Park-Tropical Garden at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh.

More than 5000 flats were to be built in approximately 40 towers in a phased manner by the embattled group.

The plea, filed by Bikram Chatterjee and 106 others, has sought quashing of a National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order passed on the plea of Bank of Baroda seeking initiation of insolvency proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 against Amrapali Silicon City Pvt Ltd.

Consumer and recovery cases and decrees passed by civil courts and consumer fora in favour of home buyers against real estate firms cannot be executed once insolvency proceedings begin at the NCLT.

The plea has sought that either the home buyers are treated equally with banks and FIs, or the provisions of the bankruptcy code, which give priority to lending institutions, be held ultra vires to the Constitution as being violative of fundamental rights like rights to equality and life.

The petition, filed through lawyer M L Lahoty, alleged that the 107 home buyers had neither got possession of the property, nor any compensation from the firm.

It also alleged that the insolvency proceedings against Amrapali Silicon City Ltd affected the home buyers of Amrapali Centurion Park Pvt Ltd.

It claimed that thousands of buyers had booked apartments during 2010-14 by paying booking amounts running into several crores after which they were made to sign “one-sided” allotment agreements.

Detesting the terms and conditions contained in the agreement, the buyers alleged they were “oppressive and unreasonable” as there was a clause for timely payment by the buyer, but no timely completion of the project.

It claimed that the contract was one-sided as it allowed the builder to raise loan from any bank by way of mortgage of the flats being sold and buyers cannot object.

“Giving serious jolt to home buyers who have paid their hard earned money and life savings into funding the purchase of their dream homes, the Respondents 3 and 4 (Amrapali firms) were found in serious breach of their obligation to deliver the flats within 36 months, that is by 2013 and in some cases it is 2016,” the petition said.

No compensation for this failure to deliver the flats had been paid to the buyers, it alleged.

The NCLT had on September 4

this year ordered liquidation of the builder on the plea of Bank of Baroda seeking initiation of the same under the Bankruptcy Act.

Besides the two Amrapali firms, the plea has made Union Ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Uttar Pradesh government, Bank of Baroda and the RBI as parties.

The plea has sought a direction restraining the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) from creating any third party interest in the projects in question and safeguarding of financial interest of home buyers.

Earlier, the apex court had taken note of a similar plea of hassled home buyers of real estate major Jaypee Infratech Ltd and revived the insolvency proceedings against the firm.

It had given the management control of the firm to the IRP, appointed by the NCLT, besides asking the firm to deposit Rs 2000 crore with the apex court registry to safeguard the interest of the home buyers.

( Source – PTI )

Ex-principal of BRD medical college, his wife sent to custody

Ex-principal of BRD medical college, his wife sent to custody
Ex-principal of BRD medical college, his wife sent to custody

Former principal of BRD Medical College Rajiv Mishra and his wife Purnima Shukla were today sent to judicial custody for 14 days by a local court in connection with the deaths of scores of children in the state-run medical college hospital.

The doctor couple, arrested on Tuesday by Uttar Pradesh’s Special Task Force (STF), was produced before the court of additional sessions judge Shivanand Singh, who sent them to the Gorakhpur district jail on a 14-day judicial remand.

They were named in an FIR lodged by the UP government.

The two were brought to the court here amid tight security.

Mishra was suspended as principal of the medical college on August 12 after the deaths were reported. He resigned the same day.

There were allegations that the deaths happened due to disruption in the oxygen supply as the vendor had not been paid for several months.

While the Uttar Pradesh government vehemently denied that shortage of oxygen led to the deaths, a high-powered probe committee headed by Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar indicted Mishra and others of laxity and other charges.

( Source – PTI )

Court orders fresh probe in case against Azam Khan

Court orders fresh probe in case against Azam Khan
Court orders fresh probe in case against Azam Khan

A court here today came down heavily on police for its shoddy probe into a case against former Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan, and directed a fresh investigation into it.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Arvind Mishra also asked the district police chief to initiate action against the investigating officer, J P Tyagi, for not acting judiciously by filing a closure report in the case.

The case pertains to Khan, the Rampur MLA, making derogatory remarks Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

On April 10, 2014, an FIR was registered against Khan, then a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, under sections 153-A (promoting enmity between communities ), 2095-A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) and 505-2 (speeches creating hatred between classes) of the IPC.

The FIR was registered based on a complaint by the election panel.

The court has rejected the final report and ordered the SHO of the Rampur City police station to initiate fresh investigation into the case.

( Source – PTI )