Recognition, Finally!

Based on Supreme Court guidelines, two high courts in the country have made it possible for advocates even in the subordinate judiciary to be eligible to become senior advocates ~By Vipin Pubby and Naveen Nair New directives by the Supreme Court on the procedure to designate advocates as senior advocates, and making even those in subordinate courts eligible for this office have been welcomed. While the Punjab and Haryana and Kerala High Courts have issued notifications on the basis of these guidelines, there is also cynicism over objectivity in the final selections. The Supreme Court had, in October last year, come out with guidelines for designating senior advocates while deciding a PIL which had sought to bring in transparency and overhaul of the “opaque and discriminatory system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates. The petition had challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 16 and 23(5) of the Advocates Act of 1961, which recognises two classes of advocates—senior advocates and other advocates. Section 16(2) stipulates who may be designated as a senior advocate. The idea behind the directives, which are to be followed by the Supreme Court and all high courts, was to bring in transparency in the procedure. Earlier, the process was completed and designation accorded by the full bench of the apex court and high courts.…
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Recognition, Finally!

Based on Supreme Court guidelines, two high courts in the country have made it possible for advocates even in the subordinate judiciary to be eligible to become senior advocates ~By Vipin Pubby and Naveen Nair New directives by the Supreme Court on the procedure to designate advocates as senior advocates, and making even those in subordinate courts eligible for this office have been welcomed. While the Punjab and Haryana and Kerala High Courts have issued notifications on the basis of these guidelines, there is also cynicism over objectivity in the final selections. The Supreme Court had, in October last year, come out with guidelines for designating senior advocates while deciding a PIL which had sought to bring in transparency and overhaul of the “opaque and discriminatory system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates. The petition had challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 16 and 23(5) of the Advocates Act of 1961, which recognises two classes of advocates—senior advocates and other advocates. Section 16(2) stipulates who may be designated as a senior advocate. The idea behind the directives, which are to be followed by the Supreme Court and all high courts, was to bring in transparency in the procedure. Earlier, the process was completed and designation accorded by the full bench of the apex court and high courts.…
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Racing Against Time

Above: The Justice Clock installed in Jaisalmer House in Delhi/Photo: Anil Shakya Justice clocks will come up in all 24 high courts of the country and are aimed at reducing pendency—the bane of the justice delivery system ~By Justice Narendra Chapalgaonkar When do we put our goals and targets on walls? Perhaps the best-known instance of this happening was during the time of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, who was determined to complete the process of transfer of power before August 15, 1947. He put up a notice board on a wall in his office showing the remaining days of British rule in India. The board must have helped the staff in speeding up the work. Many government and industrial offices follow the practice of displaying the work assigned so that it becomes a target for the workforce there. Such boards also show work actually achieved. With the passage of time, such displays have lost their intended effect and are reduced to a mere formality. While they serve as a reminder to the staff working there, there must be genuineness as far as completion of work is concerned, which such reminders serve to stimulate. NOVEL IDEA In an attempt to tackle the huge pendency of cases in almost all courts of the country, a concerned Union government came up with a novel measure.…
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Lokayukta Comes Under Act

Above: The Allahabad High Court/Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia.org Lokayukta Comes Under Act In a tough stand, the Allahabad High Court has struck down a UP Vigilance Department order which tried to protect this office from the purview of the RTI Act ~By Atul Chandra in Lucknow In 2017, the Allahabad High Court had ruled that the office of Lokayukta cannot be kept out of the Right to Information Act of 2005. But the state Vigilance Department, which had issued a notification to protect the ombudsman from nosey activists, sat over the judgment. This prompted social and RTI activist Nutan Thakur to file a contempt petition. That spurred the Department to rescind its notification of August 8, 2012, through a government order dated March 22, 2018, bringing the institution under the RTI Act. The High Court quashed the 2012 notification which declared the Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta out of bounds for RTI activists under the Act as illegal. QUESTIONABLE NOTIFICATION The government order of March 22 was issued by Arvind Kumar, principal secretary, vigilance, and said that the earlier notification was being “set aside pursuant to the court’s order”. As the Vigilance Department rescinded the questionable notification only after a contempt petition was filed by the petitioner, Thakur, the Court also ordered the government to pay Rs 25,000 as cost to her.…
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Welcome, Stork!

In a surprising volte-face, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has quashed the termination of two additional district judges for violating the state government’s two-child norm ~By Rakesh Dixit in Bhopal Last year, Madhya Pradesh was in the news for a two-child rule which state government employees had to follow. As luck would have it, two additional district judges (ADJs) were found to have flouted this rule and their services were terminated within two months of their posting. India Legal had carried the story in its October 9 issue. However, the Madhya Pradesh High Court, citing a lapse in its own recruitment process, has now quashed the termination of these two ADJs. Practising advocates Ashraf Ali and Manoj Kumar had appeared in the direct recruitment examination and been appointed ADJs at Jabalpur and Gwalior, respectively, in April 2017. On September 7, the High Court terminated their services after finding that Ali had three and Kumar five children. The dismissals were based on the Madhya Pradesh Higher Judicial Service (Recruitment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 1994, that disqualify candidates having more than two children, one of whom was born after January 26, 2001. NOT FAIR The two ADJs moved the High Court and their petitions were clubbed together.…
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Health Insurance: Taken to Task

Above: Most patients rely on insurance to meet the high cost of private medical treatment. Photo: adityahospital.co.in In a move to help those suffering from genetic diseases, the Delhi High Court has ordered that insurance companies cannot have exclusionary clauses for these ailments in their policies ~By Usha Rani Das A recent Delhi High Court judgment has sparked a new debate about health insurance policies and genetic diseases. The Court has said that discrimination based on genetic heritage is unconstitutional and a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution—the Right to Equality. The judgment, passed by Justice Prathiba M Singh, in United India Insurance Company Limited vs Jai Parkash Tayal, stated: “Discrimination in health insurance against individuals based on their genetic disposition or genetic heritage, in the absence of appropriate genetic testing and laying down of intelligible differentia, is unconstitutional.” It adds that the clause used by insurance companies to exclude those with genetic disorders is “too broad, ambiguous and discriminatory—hence violative of Art. 14 of the Constitution of India”. It said that common diseases like diabetes and cardiac diseases could be included in the broad definition and hence, it makes the exclusion “vulnerable”. “In effect, it would mean that large swathes of population would be excluded from availing health insurance which could have a negative impact on the health of a country,” Justice Singh stated.…
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Fodder scam: 14 year jail term, Rs 60 lakh fine for Lalu in Dumka Treasury case

In the biggest setback yet for RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, a special CBI court in Ranchi, on Saturday (March 24), sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment in the Fodder Scam related Dumka Treasury case. The former Bihar chief minister has been awarded seven years imprisonment for charges framed against him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and a similar jail term forhis conviction in charges under the Prevention of Corruption Acts. The sentences will run consecutively.  The Special CBI court of judge Shivpal Singh has also fined the RJD chief Rs 60 lakh for his role in the Dumka Treasury case. The CBI court had, on March 19, convicted Lalu and 18 others on various charges related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.13 crore from the Dumka treasury between December 1995 and January 1996. Judge Shivpal Singh had, however, acquitted former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra – a co-accused in all Fodder scam related cases – and 12 others of all charges in the Dumka Treasury case. The court had earlier postponed the judgement in view of Lalu Prasad’s counsel filing a petition under section 319 of the CrPC asking that the then three officials of the Accountant General (during the period when the allegedly fraudulent withdrawals were made from the Dumka treasury) be made party to the case.…
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Aadhaar linkages case: UIDAI chief likely to make PPT presentation in SC tomorrow

With the centre now making its submissions before the Supreme Court to defend its decision of making Aadhaar-linking with various services mandatory, the Constitution Bench will, in arguably the first such instance, be given a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation, on Thursday (March 22), by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey. The Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, on Wednesday (March 21), accepted the request from the Attorney General KK Venugopal to allow the UIDAI CEO to explain to the court the technical details of the Aadhaar system and its safeguards. The UIDAI is the nodal authority that issues the 12-digit biometric identity programme. Venugopal, who made submissions on behalf of the centre in defence of the Aadhaar programme and Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s insistence of mandatorily linking the system for continued access to various services, including bank accounts and subsidiary benefits, told the top court on Wednesday that “steps have been taken to protect the personal information” of citizens who have been integrated with the biometric system. Emphasising that all necessary steps were being taken by the centre and UIDAI to safeguard data integrated with the biometric identification programme, the Attorney General said: “There are two highly technical aspects involved- one, regarding the security of data, in terms of access to the biometric and demographic database; and two, regarding the prevention of leakages in social security schemes… Between 2006 and 2016, 61 committees including Empowered Groups of Ministers and expert groups have deliberated on alternatives to Aadhaar cards such as smart cards etc…the Aadhaar is a serious attempt on the part of the government for insulating people…several countries have adopted similar systems of identification…the World Bank has, in its ‘Identifications for Development’ Integration Approach Study, investigated the various aspects of the Aadhaar regime as well those of other countries…” Venugopal told the court that, if allowed, the UIDAI chief will address issues related to the security concerns over Aadhaar linkages through a PowerPoint presentation in the courtroom.…
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Will this Dose Work?

Above:  Acute shortage of doctors forces patients to wait for hours at government hospitals In an attempt to revitalise this moribund sector, the Allahabad High Court has ordered that all government officials should avail of services from state-run hospitals, but this has not been received well By Atul Chandra With successive governments in Uttar Pradesh failing to improve the quality of education in government-run primary schools, the Allahabad High Court in August 2015 directed the chief secretary to ensure that government officials, people’s representatives and members of the judiciary send their children to these schools. On why the VIPs should send their children to government schools, Justice Sudhir Agarwal said: “Only then would they be serious enough to look into the requirements of these schools and ensure that they are run in good condition always.” And in a similar judgment, the Court on March 9, 2018, gave directions on improving the ailing health sector of the state where primary health centres (PHCs) have generally failed to provide any medical assistance to people in distant villages. Hope for improvement in the two crucial sectors flickered after the two orders but only for a brief while. GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS In the health sector, the Court directed the state government to ensure that all government officials and others who received salary or other financial gains from the public exchequer should avail of medical care services from hospitals run and maintained by the government.…
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Tripping on the Road

Above: Narcotic substances recovered after a raid in Kochi, Kerala A petition wants the Kerala police to detect drivers using narcotics and book them under the Motor Vehicles Act ~By Naveen Nair in Thiruvananthapuram While the law is clear on drunken driving, there is little to stop a person from driving under the influence of drugs or narcotic substances in the country. This could well change if a case filed by Thoufeek Ahamed, a Kerala High Court lawyer, sees a fruitful end. The petition invokes Article 226 of the Constitution before a divisional bench of Kerala Chief Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu. The petitioner prayed that an interim direction be given to the third respondent, the state police chief, to “enforce and implement Section 185 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 effectively through the Law Enforcing Officers under him by detecting use of drugs by the drivers by adopting scientific methods and charge the offenders under the relevant provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 in the interest of justice”. The Court has asked the DGP to give the petitioner a hearing and see whether this can be implemented in the state at the earliest.…
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Dog Races: Hounded Out?

Photo: UNI The Greyhound Racing Board has approached the Punjab & Haryana High Court to allow races of this breed and claimed that they are not tortured or put to any harm ~By Vipin Pubby in Chandigarh The refusal by the deputy commissioner of Jalandhar to grant permission for holding greyhound races has prompted the registered Greyhound Racing Board to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Asserting that the tradition of holding races among this particular breed of dogs has been going on since time immemorial, the Board has said that “the raison d’etre for the existence of greyhound dogs is racing”. It said that adequate care is taken to ensure that the dogs are not tortured or put to any harm while being trained to race. The Board, which has filed the petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution through Gursharan K Mann and SS Mann, has prayed for issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari (by which a higher court reviews a case tried in a lower court), quashing the order issued by the deputy commissioner, Jalandhar, on January 29 this year. It sought issuance of a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the respondents to allow greyhound races in the state of Punjab and not to cause any hindrance in the organising of such races.…
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Headless body

Above:  NGT has been functioning sans a chairperson since Justice Swatanter Kumar (left) retired in December 2017/Photo: Anil Shakya Staff crisis has led some of the benches of the National Green Tribunal discontinuing hearings in environment cases ~By Punit Mishra The National Green Tribunal has been hit by a severe staff shortage. When Justice Swatanter Kumar retired as chairperson of NGT on December 20, 2017, Justice Umesh Dattatraya Salvi was made acting chairperson. He retired on February 13, 2018, without passing the baton to anyone else. There are media reports that Justice Amitava Roy, who superannuated as a judge of the Supreme Court, is likely to be appointed as chairperson. This sorry state of affairs exposes the severe staff shortage at the green panel. Ironically, though the NGT has a sanctioned strength of a maximum of 20 judicial members and a minimum of 20 expert members, the reality is that there are only four judicial and two expert members for all the five benches of NGT, including the principal one in Delhi. SINGLE-JUDGE BENCHES The staff shortage has forced the Tri­bunal’s western region bench in Pune to discontinue hearings after a Supreme Court order on January 31 stated that no single-judge bench is allowed to preside over hearings at NGT.…
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