Friday, May 28, 2010

Supreme Court concerned about judges throwing mud on other judges!

This was bound to happen… The image of judiciary has taken a severe beating in last few years.  Now even Supreme Court is concerned that at least judges don’t throw mud at their own brethren.  It is difficult enough when public is doing it!  News below:

The Supreme Court has cautioned the High Courts against using intemperate language and passing castigating strictures on judges of the lower judiciary. For, doing so would diminish the image of judiciary in the eyes of the public.

A vacation Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad, quoting earlier judgments, stressed the need for the High Courts adopting the utmost judicial restraint against using strong language as in such matters the judicial officer concerned had no remedy in law to vindicate his position.

The Bench allowed an appeal filed by a senior judicial officer against certain observations made by the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The Bench expunged them, holding that these remarks were bound to adversely affect the appellant's image in the eyes of the public and his credibility as a judicial officer, and would also affect his career.

As Principal District Judge, Kadapa, the appellant granted a temporary injunction in favour of plaintiffs in a suit and restrained the defendants from interfering with the plaint schedule property.

On an appeal by the defendants, a Division Bench of the High Court set aside the order and made scathing criticism of the appellant as a judicial officer, and recorded highly disparaging remarks.

Allowing the appeal by the judicial officer for expunction of the remarks, the Supreme Court said: “The judges in the higher courts have also a duty to ensure judicial discipline and respect for the judiciary from all concerned. The respect for the judiciary is not enhanced when judges at the lower level are criticised intemperately and castigated publicly. No greater damage can be done to the administration of justice and to the confidence of the people in the judiciary than when the judges of the higher courts publicly express lack of faith in the subordinate judges for one reason or the other.”

Judicial authoritarianism

It said: “The Division Bench of the High Court may be fully justified in setting aside the order of injunction, but there was absolutely no justification for its making highly disparaging remarks against the appellant as a judicial officer, casting doubts on his ability to decide the cases objectively. The use of the words ‘out of sheer arrogance and disrespect to the lawful order' and the expression ‘judicial authoritarianism' show that the Division Bench ignored the words of caution administered by this court in several judgments.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And they say judges need independence – from kin maybe!

Chandigarh, May 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has as many as 16 Judges with their kith and kin practising in the same court. The Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has already forwarded their list to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice.

The list was sent in response to a communication received by the high court from the ministry. In the beginning of this year, the ministry had asked the high courts across the country to identify and furnish the list of all such judges who have their kith and kin practising in the same court.

Available information suggests that some of the judges here not only have their sons, daughters but also their siblings and other relations like nephews and brothers-in-law practising in the same court. At least four judges have their relatives working in the office of the Punjab and Haryana advocates-general office. Some other judges have relatives appearing before the Bench in the same court.

The list forwarded by the high court mentions the names of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, Justice M.M. Kumar, Justice S.K. Mittal, Justice Hemant Gupta, Justice V.K. Sharma, Justice TPS Mann, Justice Mahesh Grover, Justice S.D Anand, Justice K.C Puri, Justice K.S. Ahluwalia, Justice Sabina, Justice Jora Singh, Justice M.S. Sullar, Justice Gurdev Singh and Justice Harbans Lal.

The issue again gained momentum only recently after Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily told The Tribune in an exclusive interview that the Law Ministry was asking the judges to give an undertaking at the time of their elevation that they would not function in a court where their relatives were practising.

Moily’s assertion had come in the presence of Attorney-General Goolam E. Vahanvati, Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Jain and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda at a ceremony to felicitate the law minister.

The Law Commission has discussed the issue in its 230th report as well. The commission has made it clear that it is against the policy of transferring Chief Justices; and he should rather be from the same high court. But while making appointment of judges, advocates with kith and kin practising in a high court, should not be posted in the same high court. This would eliminate “uncle judges”, it said.The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s former chief justice, Justice B. K. Roy, too had earlier issued an administrative order barring a group of 10-12 judges from hearing any case argued by their relatives. In his order, Justice Roy had said: “It was generally believed that A, B, C and D (all judges) constituted a mutual cooperative society in the sense it was believed that each of the four judges (A, B, C and D) would protect the sons of the three other judges.” The order had led to widespread protests.

List of judges

Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel

Justice Ashutosh Mohunta

Justice M.M. Kumar

Justice S.K. Mittal

Justice Hemant Gupta

Justice V.K. Sharma

Justice TPS Mann

Justice Mahesh Grover

Justice S.D Anand

Justice K.C Puri

Justice K.S. Ahluwalia

Justice Sabina

Justice Jora Singh

Justice M.S. Sullar

Justice Gurdev Singh

Justice Harbans Lal

Friday, May 21, 2010

Judiciary unable to check judge’s antecedents, can they check accused’s?

Following news shows how lax are judiciary’s standards in checking the antecedents of one of their own.

A man who was declared an absconder by a court in Indore worked as a judge in a superior court in the same city for years before his past caught up with him.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has suspended Additional District and Sessions Judge Narendra Kumar Jain for concealing the matter.

As a student of Christian College in Indore, Jain, along with four friends, was involved in a brawl with a hotel owner and his son in 1983. The owner, whose nasal bone was broken, lodged a police complaint that led to the arrest of Jain and his friends.

Jain was released on bail and appeared in court once in 1985. He was declared an absconder by the court when he did not appear later despite repeated summons.

Jain cleared an examination meant for judicial officers in 1994 but suppressed the fact that he was involved in a criminal case and was facing trial.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Judge who uncovered scam in Bangalore court is transferred

Such is the secrecy and protection afforded to powerful vested interests who control the judiciary from behind, that no case of judicial corruption can ever be investigated thoroughly and properly.  Read news below:

A Gurumurthy, the judge in whose court a scam involving court officials, banks and financial institutions to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees was unearthed, has been transferred.

    Though transfers are routine, with four notifications on April 24 transferring District Judges, Fast Track Court Judges, Senior Civil Judges and Civil Judges, this transfer comes just three weeks after a departmental inquiry under the judge was initiated.

    Gurumurthy, the XIV Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (Mayo Hall), is one of the 33 judges of the ‘Senior Civil Judges’ cadre who has been transferred, according to the notification (no GOB(I).4(2)/2010) issued by the Registrar General of the High Court.
    The notification says he will take charge as the Senior Civil Judge and JMFC, Ramdurg, Belgaum district, from May 24.

It is feared that with the transfer of the judge, the departmental inquiry would suffer. It is learnt nearly a month after the inquiry was initiated in the first week of April, Gurumurthy submitted his report. But the same was sent back to him with directions for further probe. Now with less than two weeks for his transfer, Gurumurthy’s report may not be complete as the XIV ACMM has more than one lakh cases before it, according to sources.

    Registrar General of the High Court, R B Budihal refused to talk about the issue. His office replied he would not entertain any journalist seeking information on the issue.

    Bangalore Mirror had, on May 4, reported how thousands of citizens were cheated using fake seals of judges’ signatures and fake court papers for serving non-bailable warrants (NBW) on them.

    Some 70,000 fake NBWs were said to have been issued in the last three years to people across the country.

    Three officials of the court - Tulasamma, the sirastedar, Balasubramani, the bench clerk, and Narasaiah, a case worker, who allegedly ran a ‘parallel court’ in collusion with banks and their advocates, were suspended.

    Banks and court staff colluded to issue NBWs to borrowers whose cheques had bounced. After these fake NBWs were issued, the banks, either with the help of police or musclemen, forced the debtors to pay up the entire loan amount.

    As per the law, no sworn statement of any bank manager has been recorded. The fraud also involved sending fake NBWs to people who were not under the jurisdiction of the court, including Kolkata, Mumbai, Allahabad and Bihar.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Office of Chief Justice of India is covered under RTI now

Maybe it is coincidence, but two days before retirement of CJI, the office of CJI has been agreed to be a Public Authority under RTI Act.  See recent decision by CIC below.  Also the important points are made bold below:

Appeal No. CIC/WB/A/2009/000279 dated 14.3.2009
Right to Information Act 2005 – Section 19
Appellant       -    Shri Nemi Chand Jain
Respondent    -    Supreme Court of India (SCI)
Decision announced: 10.5.2010

Shri Nemi Chand Jain of Jaipur, Rajasthan applied to the Registrar,
Supreme Court of India on 27.11.08 seeking the following information:
“Copy of complete file relating to complaint dated 2.4.2007 against
Justice Shri Shiv Kumar Sharma, Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur.”
To this Shri Nemi Chand Jain received a response from CPIO Shri Raj Pal
Arora, Addl. Registrar dated 18.12.08 informing him as follows:
“I write to inform you that the complaints against Hon’ble Judges of
the High Court or Supreme Court are not handled by the Registry.
Therefore, the information is not held by or under the control of the
Registry and the CPIO, Supreme Court of India cannot accede to
your request.”

Aggrieved, Shri Nemi Chand Jain moved an appeal on 30.12.08 before
Appellate Authority, Supreme Court of India on the following grounds:
“As per Section 6(3) of the RTI Act the Learned CPIO should have
transferred the application within five days to the concerned public
authority with whom the information is available and inform the
Appellant / Applicant.”

Upon this, Appellate Authority Shri M. P. Bhadran in his order of 17.1.09 in
appeal No. 2 of 2009 decided as follows:
“Since the Hon’ble CJI is not a Public Authority within the meaning
of Sec. 2(h) of the RTI Act the application cannot be transferred as
per Section 6(3) of the RTI Act as requested by the appellant
.  I find
that no error in the impugned order.  There is no merit in this appeal
and it is only to be dismissed.”

Appellant Shri Jain has then moved his second appeal before us with the
following prayer:
“It is prayed that the impugned order dated 17.1.09 passed by 
Learned Appellate Authority and order dated 18.12.2008
passed by Learned CPIO may kindly be quashed and set 
aside, and the Learned CPIO may be directed to transfer the 
application to the appropriate Authority with whom the
information sought by Appellant is available.”

This prayer is grounded on the following contentions:
“Because the Hon’ble CJI is Public Authority within the meaning of
Section 2(b) of the RTI Act and hence the impugned order is liable
to the set aside.”

The appeal was heard by videoconference with Jaipur on 10.5.2010. The
following are present:

Shri Nemi Chand Jain

1. Shri Raj Pal Arora, CPIO / Addl. Registrar
2. Ms. Asha Ahuja, RTI Branch Officer, SCI
3. Shri Devadatt Kamat, Advocate

Shri Devadatt Kamat, Learned Counsel for the Supreme Court presented
his vakalatnama, which has been taken on record. Shri Kamat also submitted
that subsequent to the decision in the present case, it has been agreed by the
Supreme Court of India that the Office of Chief Justice of India is indeed a public authority within the meaning of sec. 2(h) of the RTI Act.
  In light of this, the
information sought by appellant Shri Nemi Chand Jain was that the complaint of
2.4.07 against Justice Shri Shiv Kumar Sharma of the Rajasthan High Court,
Jaipur had in fact been received, seen by the Chief Justice of India and lodged.
There is no file on the complaint.  Upon this, appellant Shri Nemi Chand Jain
submitted that he had no further information to seek.


It is now established and agreed to by all parties that the office of Chief
Justice of India is a Public Authority within the meaning of Sec. 2(h) of the RTI Act, as part of the Supreme Court of India.
  The order of Appellate Authority, Shri
M. P. Bhadran on appeal No. 2 of 2009 dated 17.1.09 is, therefore, set aside.
Learned Counsel for the Supreme Court of India has also provided the
information sought by appellant Shri Nemi Chand Jain, in the hearing.  The
appeal is thus allowed.  There will be no costs.

Announced in the hearing.  Notice of this decision be given free of cost to
the parties.
(Wajahat Habibullah)
Chief Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy.  Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against
application and payment of the charges, prescribed under the Act, to the CPIO
of this Commission.
(Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar)
Joint Registrar

AP Governor says RTI used for blackmail -- file RTI on that

I will take excerpt of news below and refute the points made by governor of AP.

Hyderabad, May 10: The Governor, Mr ESL Narasimhan, condemned the misuse of the Right to Information (RTI) Act by some people, who have “vested interests”.

He said the RTI Act has become a tool to “blackmail” the government and its machinery.

“I can say with complete authority that the RTI Act is used for blackmailing people. If that was not the case, why do the same group of people apply for the RTI Act so often,” he asked while speaking at the Administrative Staff College of India, after inaugurating the Forum for Good Governance.

Ok.  The logic is that if some people file RTI so often, they must be using it for blackmail!  Well, governor ji, maybe you forget but the 86 year old ex-governor of Andhra Pradesh had left his office few months back after some pictures of his romps with young women were shown on TV.  Such was the secrecy after that event that the media was stopped by High court order to show any further footage etc of the episode.  When government along with judiciary is hell-bent on stopping people from knowing what is going on within government, RTI is the only forum available for people to find out the truth behind government’s inner workings.

Citing his own experiences on the misuse of the Act, Mr Narasimhan said: “I receive RTI applications that seek information on the dinner I hosted for my guests. They ask me to disclose the guest-list, the menu and the expenditure incurred for the purpose.” He said is not spared even when he visits temples. “The other day, I went to a temple. A person filed an RTI seeking information about whether my visit to the temple was an official visit? If so, who did I meet and what was the discussion? I replied that it was not an official visit. I met the Almighty at the temple and had long deliberations with him. I also prayed to him to please give good sense to such people,” he remarked.

You may think it is irritating to get RTIs about your dinners.  But do not forget that people have very little faith in about people in government regarding use of taxpayer funds at their disposal.  Even an ex-minister Shashi Tharoor was found to be staying in 5-star hotels instead of finding a more reasonable accommodation given the austerity drive of government in place at the time.  If government was more transparent of less cruel with public money, people will have no desire to waste their time in filing RTIs asking about dinners hosted by you.  That trust has yet to be built by government representatives.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Are judges powerless in face of misuse of law?

The judges seem to be toothless in face of misuse of law!  Such misuse of laws is the real reason behind 3.1 crore pending cases in Indian courts.  When there is incentive to misuse the law, and no disincentive against it; more number of cases is exactly the result.  While truly affected people fear going to courts, those who want to misuse the law are feted by lawyers, and indirectly by judiciary!

Married sister can’t be booked under DV Act

New Delhi, May 10, 2010

Married sisters of a man, living separately from the joint family, cannot be prosecuted under the Domestic Violence (DV) Act on a complaint of his wife, a Delhi court has held.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau expressed concern over “misuse” of special laws by making women parties in the petitions just because they happened to be sisters of the man.

“Married sisters residing in their own matrimonial houses are not a part of the shared household or joint family, as contemplated under the Domestic Violence Act,” the court said.

It, however, clarified that the married sisters were not denied the rights, which could be claimed from their parental home.

The observations were made by the court while dismissing the plea of a woman who challenged an order of the Metropolitan Magistrate, refusing to summon married sisters of her estranged husband in the case under the Domestic Violence Act.

If only it were true!

The following statements by outgoing Chief Justice of India will not have many believers, except maybe in Supreme Court itself!  The last sentence is really bothering, if people do not understand working of judiciary, is it really a good thing?  Won’t it be good to have judiciary under ambit of RTI -- I know it already is except Supreme Court, but just try filing an RTI on any court and see for yourself.

Outgoing Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan says corruption in judiciary was a cause of concern but the situation was "not very serious" and that it was actually "miniscule" considering the number of cases and judges.

"Corruption will always bother anyone. But considering the number of cases and judges, it is actually miniscule.

Situation is not very serious," the CJI said in an interview to CNN-IBN on Monday on the eve of demitting office after a tenure of a little over three years.

However, the CJI appeared to be haunted by Justice Dinakaran issue and expressed his disappointment over the motive even imputed to him on this score while maintaining that the apex court collegium/ judges work systematically in harmony with the norms.

"I felt sorry that some motives were attached to me as well. We work systematically following all the norms," he said.

On being asked whether the credibility of judges did not get erosioned as a number of them accept government posts after their retirement, he said it was the government which wants us there.

"There are so many tribunals that have to be manned by retired judges of the Supreme Court. There is TDSAT etc.

People think that SC judges may favour the government to get these posts, but now actually its other way. The government wants us there," the CJI said.

The CJI, who recently gave verdict on high-voltage Ambani brothers gas dispute, said that he never felt any pressure while adjudicating any case.

"I have never felt any pressure in any case that I have heard," he said adding that "people do not understand the working of judiciary. No politician will like to come and meet a judge. He will be in trouble, suppose the judge expose him, his political career can be in danger."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Judiciary: a laggard in implementing RTI

It is not only the Chief Justice of India who wants his own office out of purview of RTI.  Even some of high courts are quite uncooperative about honouring RTI.

Following news story sums it all.  When it comes to implementation of right to information act (RTI), the courts are totally clueless and unhelpful to applicants.  The fact that this happened with a high court bench shows the high-handedness and aloofness which has become a characteristic of Indian judiciary.

M. Shanthi of Karur had filed an RTI application on February 25 seeking details of a civil miscellaneous appeal filed by an insurance company in 2001 against a judgment passed by a lower court earlier. Stating that the case was not listed for hearing for a long time, she sought to know whether it was still pending or had been disposed of.

N. Vijayakumar, Deputy Registrar (Administration) of the Bench and also Assistant Public Information Officer, replied to the application on March 3. Instead of giving a direct answer to the question, he asked the woman applicant to approach her advocate for obtaining the required information.

Not satisfied with the reply, Ms. Shanthi filed an appeal, under the RTI Act, before the Registrar (Administration) of the High Court Bench on March 13, 2010.

Subsequently, she received another letter from R. Susheela Devi, Deputy Registrar (RTI) dated March 31 asking her to come to the Bench during office hours at the earliest for verification of her residential address and signature.

The issue gains significance in view of the fact that there is no provision in the RTI Act which entitles a public information officer to ask an applicant to prove his/her identity. Section 6(2) of the Act categorically states a person seeking information need not give any personal details except those that were required for contacting him.

Section 6(2) of RTI Act, 2005 is given below:

(2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him. 

The only main requirement in RTI Act is that applicant be a citizen of India.  Even an Indian living abroad can file an RTI through Indian embassy.  But by asking the applicant to come personally to office, the RTI official of high court has shown either their incompetence, or their complete disregard for law of the land.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Corruption in ACMM court Bangalore: officials, banks, lawyers nexus

Bangalore Mirror has broken a story which shows how corruption is seeping right through Indian judiciary.  The Provident Fund scam was involved with high court judges and a supreme court judge too.  The case below involves court officials but not judges.

So there is taint of corruption in courts right from Supreme court to lower courts… corruption has become the great leveller in Indian judiciary.

Bangalore Mirror has exclusive details of the cheating committed on innocent citizens of India. A room full of some 70,000 fake Non-Bailable Warrants (NBW) is being scrutinised at the court.

Officials investigating the scam have found fake seals of judges’ signatures, and cooked-up court papers. The documents were found in the pending branch of the court complex.

A bank-court staff ring used these papers against clueless borrowers of ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited, Cholamandalam DBS Finance Limited, Reliance Capital and HDFC Bank, among others. The fraud was committed against borrowers whose cheques bounced.

When an EMI cheque bounces, the bank and its advocates get into the act by getting forged documents and NBWs out of the ‘parallel court’ operating at the court.

Then, the bank sends its musclemen or takes the help of the police to confront the ‘accused’ with fake warrants.
After threatening the debtor, they recover the entire loan amount, and not just the EMI.

This is against the procedure laid down under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. No sworn statement of the bank manager is recorded nor is any sworn statement taken in any of these cases.

Another major fraud is that most of the accused are not in Bangalore. Many live in cities like Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Allahabad, and in remote corners of Jharkand and Bihar. The story unfolded after many such harassed customers complained to the court, sources said.

The law says a Bangalore court cannot have jurisdiction on an offence committed outside the city.

The truth is, none of these accused had even visited Bangalore before. So, there was no question of the XIV ACMM having jurisdiction over these people.

The scam has shaken the judiciary in Karnataka. One source told this journalist that an advocate had filed 30,000 such cases allegedly on behalf of Cholamandalam DBS Finance in the last six months. An advocate reportedly representing Kotak Mahindra Bank has filed around 10,000 fake cases in the last six months.

The preliminary inquiry has revealed that advocates representing many banks, in collusion with court staff, have created their fake stationery for preparing the orders.

These orders don't have the date of execution nor are the so-called signatures supported by dates. A closer look at the order sheets reveals that they have been faked.

XIV ACMM A Gurumurthy refused to meet the Bangalore Mirror team when we said we wanted to get details from him.

Cheque bounce cases – penalty increased for compounding

All this seems very nice and good on paper, but it has to be seen in practice why a cheque defaulter would not like to pay up to maximum 20% of principal amount, and delay the case till it reaches Supreme Court.

NEW DELHI: Delay in settling cheque bounce cases will now cost the defaulter dear, up to 20% of the cheque amount. The penalty for delayed settlement of the cheque amount, after conviction in the trial court, would rise steadily from 10% in district courts, 15% in high courts to a whopping 20% in the Supreme Court.

The SC on Monday took this radical step through a pioneering judgment which aims to curb the tendency among defaulters to sit over the amount tendered through a bounced cheque.

Saddled with 30 lakh cheque bounce cases, the SC accepted most of the suggestions offered by attorney general G E Vahanvati.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal also laid down guidelines for early settlement in cheque dishonour cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act.

The judgment, authored by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, indicated that defaulters going for early settlement before the trial court would have to pay just the principal amount with applicable interest.

But if they approched the district court for settlement after being convicted by the trial court, they would have to pay 10% of the cheque amount to avoid going to jail. So if a chque amount is for Rs 1 lakh, then to compound the offence before the district court, the defaulter has to pay an additional Rs 10,000 to avoid going to jail.

Similarly, if the defaulter agrees for settlement and compounding of the offence at the HC stage, then he would have to pay 15% of the cheque amount. The amount so collected would be given to Legal Aid Authorities of the respective states which provide free legal assistance to poor litigants in various forums, the SC said.

This judgment will go a long way in reducing the pendency of over 30 lakh cheque bounce cases which have jammed the wheels of justice already slowed down by pendency of 2.7 crore cases. During the hearing of a Section 138 case between Damodar S Prabhu and Sayed Babalal, the Bench observed that there had been an enormous rush of cases after cheque bounce was made a penal offence in 1989, followed by the amendment in 2002 providing for summary trial for early resolution of the dispute.

The last line is the giveaway, there was enormous increase in cheque bounce cases AFTER it was made a penal offence in 1989.  Normally, one would expect that a criminal penalty for an offence would deter people from committing that offence.  It is clear that justice in India does not work the way it is supposed to be!   There is a huge latent demand for justice, and it does not seem to be satisfied no matter how many new laws get created.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not the end of story regarding Cash at door scam

Only in India if a High court judge gets Rs 15 lakh cash delivered at door, the powers that be will look the other way!  Now it seems the law ministry is siding with CPIO of Supreme Court on the matter of disclosure of information under RTI.  If CJI was not enough in holding lid on happenings inside Supreme Court, now law ministry is backing him up as a spokesperson.

CPIO had earlier this month denied information to RTI applicant Abhishek Shukla regarding chief justice of India (CJI) KG Balakrishnan’s inputs on transferring Punjab and Haryana high court judge Nirmal Yadav to another HC, saying the matter was confidential.

Yadav is mired in a controversy related to the scam in which Rs15 lakh was recovered from outside the door of her official residence nearly 19 months ago.

On Sunday, the law ministry defended CPIO, saying the CJI input on Yadav was indeed confidential and could not be made public.
CPIO had told Shukla that his query, whether CBI approached CJI in connection with the scam, was “confidential and exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(e) and (j) of the RTI Act”. “You have no right to access the said information,” CPIO said.

The ministry, which has been working hard to introduce certain amendments in the RTI Act, which Congress president Sonia Gandhi has termed “landmark”, said the CJI input to law
minister Veerappa Moily on the issue was “in the nature of advice tendered by the cabinet” which is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act.

The ministry cited section 8(1)(i) of the Act in its defence. The section exempts “disclosure of cabinet papers, including records of deliberations of the council of ministers, secretaries and other officers”, provided “the decisions of the council of ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken and the matter is complete”.

Meanwhile, in a setback to the moves by a section in the government to put a lid on the scam, a special court in Chandigarh refused last Friday to accept the CBI plea for closing the case. Judge Darshan Singh asked CBI to probe the case further.

Anti-torture bill is much needed, even though most laws are ineffective in India

From news of 9th April:

Though enacting the law is a step towards ratification of the UN convention against other cruel, inhuman punishment and degrading treatment, and has been pending for some time now, the timing of the bill gave rise to a question or two at the Cabinet meeting.

The argument was clinched as the PM pointed to the need for a law that underscored India's respect for human rights even as the government had promised to bring to book those guilty of killing 76 security personnel in a ruthless ambush on Tuesday. Singh has been particular that a detailed law be enacted to define torture, both physical and mental, that would attract penal action.

The proposed law has been hanging fire as over the past year, it was first suggested by home ministry that some changes in IPC would suffice. It was then argued that changes in the Evidence Act would also be needed. As it was felt that no less than three-four laws would have to be altered, the PM went along with a new law being framed.

The prevention of torture law is intended to align Indian law with the UN convention and India is now only one of a handful of signatory nations not to do so. The ratification of the convention will enable provisions in the convention to be part of Indian law. Though some of these exist in Indian law, they do not define "torture" as closely as the convention does.

The last para gives the probably most important reason that this law is being pushed.  India does not want to be seen living in a ‘brutal’ image when all other countries have well-defined laws against torture and police brutality.  Recent beating and torture of a foreign journalist has not helped either the ‘clean image’ India wants to project to international community.

Mission Justice’s presentation on judicial accountability

Mission Justice has made a presentation on corruption, lack of accountability, lack of transparency, and so on in high judiciary of the country.  The presentation is a clear eye-opener for those who still have faith that all is well with High Courts and Supreme Court in India.

You can download and read the presentation here:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lawyers’ heads are made of steel!

I could not initially believe this news, but I read it in Deccan Herald also, so it must be true.

The Federation of Bar Association (FOBA) has submitted a memorandum to CM B S Yeddyurappa asking him to spare lawyers from wearing helmets during summer. FOBA president K S Subba Reddy claims advocates find it very difficult to wear helmets from March to June even though the helmet rule is in the interest of a two-wheeler driver’s safety.

He adds, “It is very difficult, particularly for women advocates who have to compulsorily wear black coat and gown to attend the court. They must drive with the coat and gown, besides wearing the helmet.” Wearing a helmet is excruciating when vehicles are caught in heavy traffic and move very slowly, he added

Ok… so they want exception from helmet rule which is made in interest of safety of public.  Normally one should have the freedom to decide how they run their own lives, but such safety rules are made because there are social costs too if the rate of injuries and deaths are higher.

Will the lawyers waive off their rights to claim accident compensations too in case the injuries and death when not hearing a helmet?

More importantly, if the lawyers are feeling uncomfortable due to heavy coat/gown along with helmet; isn’t it better to jettison that black coat for the 3 summer months?  Whoever devised the rule that lawyers must wear black coats did not take tropical conditions into account.

What is more logical and reasonable: stop wearing black coat, OR stop wearing helmet? I hope some reasonable man stands up and makes a law doing away with need of black coats for lawyers.