Get beggars off the streets, court tells Delhi government

Delhi government’s counsel told a division bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Ajit Bharioke that most of the beggars in the capital are from other states.

Counsel said co-ordination with the states is difficult without the intervention of the central government. The court then issued a notice to the central government on the issue.

On July 21, the court had pulled up the state government for its lax approach in dealing with beggars and set a 15-day deadline for it to explain steps taken to curb the menace. The court had also asked the government to have more mobile courts to deal with beggary cases.

Delhi’s lieutenant governor has approved the setting up of courts with a special metropolitan magistrate, a stenographer and a probationary officer, the state government informed the court.

Delhi HC sets aside monetary reward

The Delhi High Court has set aside a monetary award granted to a Delhi Development Authority contractor by an arbitrator, saying that “the arbitrator took upon himself the job of rewarding a corrupt contractor and thereby rewarding corrupt DDA officials”.

The DDA had given a contract to Messrs K. C. Chibber & Company to build 936 Janata flats at Pitampura, to be later allotted to persons belonging to the poorer sections of society. It had later cancelled the contract on the ground of poor quality of work and delay in completion. The Authority had taken the decision to call off the contract following submission of an inspection report about the quality of work done by the contractor by the Central Building Research Institute.

The report said “the structure constructed by the contractor was of such poor quality and so inherently weak that it was dangerous to allow it to stand and do further construction over it”.
Setting aside the award of Rs.32 lakh to the contractor, Justice S. N. Dhingra of the Court said: “The work was obviously not as per the contract and had to be demolished, still awarding an amount of Rs.32 lakh by the arbitrator to the contractor only amounts to rewarding corruption by the arbitrator and also amounts to giving an award contrary to public policy of the state.”
“There is a syndicate of contractors, DDA engineers and arbitrators to see that corruption thrives at the cost of public exchequer and the common man,” Mr. Justice Dhingra observed.

The DDA had challenged the award arguing that it was contrary to the public policy and amounted to rewarding the contractor for indulging in corruption.

HC to hear PIL on swine flu

Delhi High Court will take up for hearing public interest litigation seeking directions to the Centre and the Delhi Government to take effective measures to deal with cases of swine flu in the Capital.

The petitioner, social worker Anjana Jain through her lawyer Sugriv Dubey, has alleged that Delhi’s government hospitals do not have sufficient stocks of masks and medicines to make available to patients. Medical and non-medical personnel of these hospitals are also getting infected by the disease due to paucity of masks, she submitted.

She alleged that there was also laxity on the part of the Delhi Government and the local bodies in creating public awareness about prevention and treatment of the communicable disease.

She further submitted that the Centre should go in for import of vaccine against the disease as it would take months to produce an indigenous one. The Centre and the State governments should also ensure availability of proper and sufficient masks at chemists’ shops in the Capital as people are forced to buy unsuitable masks, the petitioner submitted.

Centre tells SC many steps underway to check terrorism

The central government told the Supreme Court that it had been pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to counter terrorism and had initiated a series of measures to put up a near fail-proof infrastructure for the purpose.

Stating this before a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice B.S. Chauhan, it sought dismissal of a lawsuit by former attorney-general Soli J. Sorabjee that sought a directive to the government to enhance the country’s internal security.
The government contended that though the state was primarily responsible for maintenance of law and order in its territory, the centre had been taking a variety of measures to strengthen the security in the country and to combat terrorism.

The measures include ‘deployment of specific forces on various borders to ensure focused action in respect of each border, continuous vigilance and patrolling on the borders to check infiltration and other illegal cross-border activities, deployment of central paramilitary forces’ to assist the police forces in the states.

In the government’s affidavit, the home ministry’s under secretary R.V.S. Mani also told the court about some other measures. These include enhanced vigil and security of vital installations as well as strengthening of intelligence gathering and abilities at the cutting-edge level.

This was besides extending assistance to the state governments to upgrade and modernize their police forces. Similar efforts were also being made to better the central paramilitary forces.
The government said it was implementing a Modernization of State Police Forces (MPF) Scheme, ‘which is an important initiative of the union home ministry.’

The MPF Scheme includes assistance to the state police in securing modern weaponry, communication system and facilities for training, forensic sciences and intelligence gathering.
The centre is also helping state governments in implementing a mega city policing scheme to help them meet the special needs of cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

The government told the court that it was also engaged in creating regional hubs for National Security Guards (NSG) and empowering government officers of the ranks of joint secretary to requisition aircraft from any operator registered in India for the purpose of public safety.

SC ready to reveal information under RTI

Supreme Court told the Delhi High Court that it was ready to reveal information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) on a complaint against an Allahabad High Court judge.

Attorney General Ghulam E. Vahanvati, appearing for the Supreme Court, made the submission before the high court that although he does not accept the correctness of the Central Information Commission judgement in this regard, the information would be provided under the RTI.

The CIC had July 16 held that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) comes within the purview of the transparency law and the apex court is under obligation to reveal the details of action taken on the complaint.

Vahanvati also informed the high court that the July 16 order was based on an earlier CIC judgement which has been challenged in the high court and the verdict is reserved. The court did not take any action till now on the complaint against the sitting Allahabad High Court judge, he added.

The apex court had during earlier hearings before CIC maintained that the information relating to a high court judge was with the Chief Justice of India and his office does not come under the abmit of the RTI.

The CIC had passed the order on a plea of P.K. Dalmia, who sought to know the fate of his complaint, filed with the CJI, of alleged malpractices by the designated company judge in a liquidation case of the Uttar Pradesh State Cement Corporation Limited.

Dalmia then filed an RTI application to know the fate of his complaint, which the Supreme Court registry rejected. It said that a complaint against a high court or a Supreme Court judge does not come under the jurisdiction of the RTI.

SC concerned over failing monsoon, skyrocketing prices

Supreme Court expressed its concern over the monsoon failure, threat of drought and further rise in the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, and urged the government to provide succor to people.

“Prices are rising. Pulses’ prices too are rising. So are those of other food items of the common man,” observed a bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Ashok kumar Ganguly, while evaluating the work done by a technical experts committee formed by the government as per the court order to “to address the problem of water scarcity through scientific research on war footing”.

Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, said: “We may also mention that at present there seems to be a monsoon failure in the large parts of the country, because of which people are suffering.”
The bench said, “We request the committee to take measures to alleviate the immediate crisis, which people in large parts of the country are facing.The work must be done in the spirit of patriotism.”

Moved by the plight of “exhausted housewives waiting in serpentine queues for hours to fill their water pitchers”, the apex court had April 28 ordered the government to form a panel of scientists to undertake research to tackle the problem of water crisis in the country.

The government in an affidavit told the court: “For achieving the objectives, a Technology Mission: Winning, Augmentation and Renovation for Water has been formulated.”

The government informed the court that it has already formed a panel headed by Science and Technology Ministry’s Secretary T. Ramasami, and had also submitted to the court the work done by the panel in last one month or so.

Illegal slaughterhouses polluting drinking water in UP: NHRC

National Human Rights Commission has ordered the closure of illegal slaughterhouses and furnaces used in extraction of animal bone fat in Meerut city of Uttar Pradesh because the blood and animal waste flushed into open drains has started polluting drinking water supply system.

An official of the commission said: “The commission has issued a notice to the chief secretary, the municipal commissioner of Meerut and chairman of the State Pollution Control Board to appear in front of the commission on Aug 25 for non-compliance of its recommendations on closure of illegal abattoir and about 200 furnaces used for extraction of animal bone fat in the city.”
During an inquiry last month, the commission found that the local administration’s claim that some of the furnaces have been demolished was not true. The slaughterhouse on municipal corporation land also continued to function illegally, polluting the environment within a radius of 2.5 km.

“Slaughtered animals’ blood and waste are flushed through open drains, resulting in pollution of drinking water. The commission had issued a notice on Aug 10 with regard to removal of these furnaces, stressing that the right to health is not only a vital human right but also a fundamental right,” the official said.

Right To Education Bill raises bar for schools

With the passage of The Right to Children Free and Compulsory Education Bill, on free and compulsory education to children in Parliament, the quality of education in schools in the country is set to take a forward leap.

The Bill, which makes education a right of every child in the age group of six to 14 years, stipulates a series of norms and standards for the schools, ranging from teachers-student ratio, building requirements and working hours for teachers.

According to the legislation, there should be at least one teacher per 30 children in schools having classes one to five. The ratio should be maintained upto a students’ strength of 120.