Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Game: Find the clean ex-CJI!


From the affidavits given by Mr Prashant Bhushan in contempt case against him, it is prima-facie evident that corrupt judges in SC have been spared only because many MPs do not want to sign on impeachment motions, since they have their own cases pending in SC!

So judiciary is independent of legislature, but legislators are not independent from judiciary!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waking up to reality beyond making new laws!

Finally, Mr Moily has said something (he makes statements often) which has elements of rationality beyond making newer laws to fix problems.  This should be considered by lawmakers who are ever ready to create new laws to tackle honour killings, and what else – supposedly under pressure from media and public.

Without the ability to execute on newly created laws, they are in danger of going the same way as of 38 lakh number of pending cheque bouncing cases.  You are carrying a bounced cheque in one pocket? No problem… file a criminal case and carry the papers in another pocket!


With crores of cases pending in courts across the country, the Law Ministry has suggested that Law Ministry should make fresh laws only after assessing the extra burden they are likely to impose on the courts and ensuring the provision of money required for the purpose. "Assessment must be made for the purpose of estimating the extra load any new bill or legislation may add to the burden of courts and expenditure required for the purpose," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily has said in a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Nearly three crore cases are pending in courts (lower courts and higher judiciary) across the country, and the backlog is on a steady increase. According to government estimates based on 2009 figures, it takes 15 years on an average to finally decide a court case in India.

Moily's letter, based on the recommendations of the task force on Judicial Impact Assessment, says the government can anticipate the likely cost of implementing a legislation through the courts by a judicial impact assessment.

The task force, which based its findings on the research work by former Law Secretary T K Viswanathan, who is now Advisor in the Law Ministry, had recommended that it should be made mandatory to provide an estimate of the burden likely to be imposed on courts by every bill passed by Parliament or state legislatures.

In a similar letter recently, Moily had stressed the need for immediate setting up of special courts to deal with "surmounting" cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. In that letter, also addressed to the Finance Minister, Moily had said that there are about 38 lakh cheque bouncing cases pending in the trial courts and this need to be speedily addressed by setting up special courts.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Girlfriend can't be called kin, says HC

And we need a high court judgment to tell us this… after supreme court reportedly has already said so… Bharat Mahan… raho pareshaan!


TNN, Aug 27, 2010, 01.39am IST

MUMBAI: With live-in relations being accorded sanctity by law, can a girlfriend be a relative, the Bombay high court  wondered on Thursday. The court was hearing an application filed by a woman, Sunita, who had been named in a dowry harassment case. She had been dragged into the case filed by another woman, who claimed that Sunita was her husband's girlfriend and had accused her of cruelty.

A division bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice U D Salvi, in an interim order, stayed the criminal charges in the case against her till further orders.

Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code deals with cruelty to a married woman by her husband or his relatives. The cruelty could also be for failing to meet the unlawful demands of property or valuable security. Cruelty could refer to the conduct of a husband or in-laws that is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury to herself.

Earlier, the Supreme Court, in a landmark order, had said that a girlfriend cannot be treated as a "relative'' in a 498 A case. The apex court had held that a concubine or a mistress cannot be charged under Section 498A. By no stretch of imagination can a girlfriend or even a concubine... be a relative. The word relative brings within its purview a status that can be conferred either by blood or marriage or adoption, the SC bench had remarked.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

AP Judges caught copying in law exam

The only hope is that the ‘caught red-handed’ scenario does not later turn into ‘ no evidence found’ and the judges get reinstated.  They are only suspended pending an inquiry, not really dismissed permanently!


Aug 26, 2010, 12.59am IST

HYDERABAD: Five judges belonging to the state's subordinate judiciary were suspended by the AP High Court on Wednesday for allegedly copying while writing their LLM examinations at the Arts College of Kakatiya University in Warangal on Tuesday.

The judges were doing this course under distance mode from Kakatiya University as the degree would help them gain some increments in their careers.

Those placed under suspension include K Ajitsimha Rao, senior civil judge, Ranga Reddy district, M Kistappa, principal senior civil judge, Anantapur, P Vijayendar Reddy, second additional district judge, Ranga Reddy district, M Srinivasachary, senior civil judge in Bapatla of Guntur district and Hanumantha Rao, the additional junior civil judge in Warangal.

They were allegedly caught red-handed in the act of copying on Tuesday by the authorities and upon receipt of this information, the HC suspended them from service pending an inquiry. The HC would soon launch disciplinary proceedings against all these judicial officers, sources said.

How ex-CJI's sons got prime plot they had never bid for Read more

Still believe in the white lie that Indian judiciary is highly respected in the world?  By whom?  Indian judiciary itself!


Aug 25, 2010

NEW DELHI: The two sons of former chief justice of India Y K Sabharwal, who are being probed for their previous business deals, suddenly came to buy a Rs 122 crore property in Lutyens' Delhi four months ago, thanks to a series of controversial orders passed by the Delhi high court.

Chetan and Nitin Sabharwal, together with their partner Kabul Chawla, chief of real estate company BPTP, turned out to be the ultimate beneficiaries of high court orders passed since 2006 in connection with the auction of the 2.70-acre property at 7 Sikandra Road.

An appeal challenging the April 2010 sale deed revealed that the three partners had not participated in an auction in September 2006 on which a two-judge bench declared Triveni Infrastructure the highest bidder. Triveni was required to pay 25% of its bid amount, Rs 117 crore, within a week and the balance within three weeks thereafter, subject to the condition of the property being converted from leasehold to freehold.

But Triveni became liable to pay the 75% component only in February 2009 as it had taken so long for the property to be converted to freehold. It was then that a succession of single-judge orders, in breach of the schedule laid down by the larger bench, resulted in the payment being finally made, with a Rs 5 crore penalty, in April 2010, that too by the two Sabharwals and Chawla although they had no formal stake in Triveni.

The appeal being heard by a special bench headed by Justice A K Sikri shed light on the various ways in which the 2006 order had been bypassed, particularly by Justice Manmohan Singh, leading to a windfall for the Sabharwal brothers and Chawla:

* When the owners of the property filed a contempt application against Triveni for its failure to pay the balance in February 2009, Justice Manmohan Singh gave more time to the defaulter directing that it would have to pay Rs 3 crore by July-end and Rs 85 crore by October-end. Later, he extended the time further to December-end with a penalty of Rs 5 crore.

* The repeated extension of the deadline by Justice Manmohan Singh was contrary to the division bench's direction that if the highest bidder failed to make the payments on time, the property would have to be sold to the next highest bidder, Prime Commercial.

* In June 2009, Justice Manmohan Singh allowed a four-day old company, Angle Infrastructure, to come in place of Triveni for paying the balance and to take over the property. The owners of the property appealed against this order as it had been passed without any notice to them.

* A week before the expiry of the December 2009 deadline, Justice Manmohan Singh gave a fresh extension to Angle, this time by five months. He also granted Angle's request to introduce the condition that it would be required to pay the balance only when the owners were in a position to deliver immediate possession of the property. Most of the owners challenged this order, again because it had been passed without any notice to them.

* A month before the expiry of the May 2010 deadline, Triveni and Angle filed a joint application requesting that the balance be allowed to be paid by the Sabharwals and Chawla and that the property be registered in their names. Since the Sabharwal brothers and Chawla appeared in the court with demand drafts of the balance amount, Justice Rajiv Shakdher directed the owners on April 20 to execute the sale deed within two days.

That is how the Sabharwal brothers and Chawla acquired the property from an auction in which they had not participated at all. The appeal filed subsequently by the second highest bidder, Prime, challenged the manner in which the court had granted undue concessions to Triveni and deprived it (Prime) of its entitlement under the auction terms to buy out the property. Seeking a fresh auction of the Sikandra Road property, Prime offered to pay Rs 150 crore in keeping with the appreciation of the property value in these four years.

The real estate business partnership between the Sabharwal brothers and Chawla has been the subject of income tax probe following allegations that they had unduly benefited from the 2006 sealing drive against commercial properties in residential areas of Delhi launched by the then CJI, Justice Y K Sabharwal.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Judiciary cannot see the writing on wall!

This speech by a Supreme Court judge merits point by point rebuttal, to let judiciary know what is wrong.


Cyriac Joseph, judge of the Supreme Court of India, on Friday came down heavily on the “unfair criticism” levelled against the judiciary and wondered why cultural leaders and institutions such as the Bar Association were silent on the issue.

Comments: Cultural leaders? … that’s a debate on its own.  In India, there are religious gurus, political leaders, film stars, cricket leaders, some intellectual ‘leaders’ who debate with one another mostly or pat each other on the back.   About Bar association: I bet they are lot more busy handling things like agitations or rowdyism by lawyers in court premises, or by one lawyers’ group against another, to be able to worry about such finer things!

Delivering the first K.K. Mathew Memorial Law Lecture series on the ‘Role of Judiciary in Democratic India,' organised as part of the centenary celebrations of the Kottayam Bar Association here, Mr. Joseph said the “abuse and intemperate outbursts” from any quarters were only a display of “ignorance of the constitutional provisions” as also a mark of “lack of culture.”

The people of India as represented by the Constituent Assembly had given shape to the Constitution and had “entrusted the judiciary with the responsibility of upholding the Constitution, constitutional values and constitutional institutions. Thus the people of India, through the Constituent Assembly, had assigned the role of a watchdog and corrective force for the judiciary in its functioning so that parliamentary democracy could flourish,” he said.

Comment: Public is tired of hearing the same old lectures given from a pulpit.  With more than 3 crore pending cases, what justice and constitution are we talking about?  Does not constitution say that speedy justice is a right of citizens?

“Judges think, speak and act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and cannot act like bull in a china shop,” Mr. Joseph said and added that whatever powers the judges have are derived from the Constitution. “They are not an unwanted, unauthorised group of people who wield self-acquired powers unaccounted for,” he said

Stating that unfair criticism of the judiciary would undermine democracy and the rule of law in the country, Mr. Joseph said India was ranked high internationally on account of its vibrant democracy which ensured elections every five years and the presence of an independent judiciary. “Independent judiciary is the hallmark of Indian democracy,” he said and added that the decision not to have an elected judiciary was a principled decision of the Constituent Assembly. “This does not make them less authentic,” he said and added that they are appointed on the basis of well laid out rules and guidelines.

Comment: This seems another attempt to stifle dissent against collegium based appointments in Supreme Court.  When even a high court judge like Justice Shylendra Kumar raises voice, the SC is quite eager to shut him down with a judge having “tears in his eyes”.  Of course they don’t have tears in eyes when a so called Chief Justice of Karnataka high court is barred from judicial functions by the lawyers themselves!  After all, on paper he is Chief justice, and that is according to constitution so it must be all hunky dory!

“Judgments were not above criticism and any judgment could be subject to constructive criticism at an academic and intellectual level,” he said and stressed that judges who passed judgments that one does not agree with cannot be subjected to unfair criticism, abuse and ridicule. The Constitution provides for revision of judgments and the aggrieved parties should take recourse to such avenues, he said.

Comment: Except for the practical fact that taking recourse to revision or appeal is practicable for only well-heeled, powerful people.

“Unlike in a game of football, there is no provision to show the Red Card, though some believe that the provision for Contempt of Court was one such stipulation. “But, I fear even this would become ineffective if people are ready to go to jails,” he quipped.

Comment: So it is clear that there is so much widespread opposition to judiciary that even if contempt of court was used against public, the already struggling business in courts will grind to a halt!

Describing the late Justice K K Mathew, former judge of the Supreme Court of India, as a “saint among judges,” Mr. Joseph said he considered K.K. Mathew as the greatest jurist produced by Kerala.

K P Presanna Kumar, District and Sessions judge, presided. Senior lawyer and former Minister M P Govindan Nair; senior lawyer V.K. Satyavan Nair; George Boban, president of Kottayam Bar Association; and others spoke.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Corporation’s tactics to retaliate against activist?

The interesting part of news is that the official of Jindal Steel and Power claim that they had given a shop to Agrawal’s son to dissuade him from raising environmental issues.  So they are willing to engage in bribery if it serves their corporate interests?

The threat to kill company official makes it even more incredible?  An activist threatening to kill an official of a large, powerful company?  Makes sense to anyone?


The police complaint has shocked environmentalists. "This is exactly the tactic American Corporations have used to browbeat environmental activists," said Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment. She said this reminded her of SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation used by companies in America "to shut up individuals who were raising issues of social and environmental concern".

"Ramesh Agrawal of Jan Chetana is well known to the environmental and human rights fraternity. He has been raising issues related to not just a single corporation but several agencies on a very systematic basis," said Kanchi Kohli of Kalpavriksha Environmental Action Group.

Agrawal has a long series of achievements to his credit. In 2009, a PIL filed by him in Delhi High Court resulted in a major amendment to the rules governing environmental clearance. The court made it mandatory for companies to publish their full environmental clearance order in two local newspapers to enable the affected people to access the order and challenge the clearance if need be.

Ritwick Dutta, well known environmental lawyer, who has represented Agrawal in several public interest cases, asked,
"Why has the company filed an FIR against Agrawal after MoEF acted against them? Why did it not go after him earlier?"

When asked why, Sanjeev Chauhan said, "We discussed the matter within the management. We were waiting for the right time". He added that the company "will definitely prove the allegations in court".
Environmentalists say proving allegations against Agrawal will not disprove allegations against the company.

"The Ministry did not rely on Agrawal's word. Its team did due diligence and found Jindal Power had clearly broken the rules," says Narain.