Court Rebukes Advocate General

Above: Allahabad High Court/Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Irked over the UP government’s refusal to arrest BJP MLA and rape accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the Court pulled up Raghvendra Singh for his appalling attitude ~By Atul Chandra in Lucknow The Uttar Pradesh government’s brazen attempt to shield BJP’s Unnao legislator and rape accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar caused huge embarrassment to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The government ended up with more egg on its face when advocate general Raghvendra Singh told the Allahabad High Court that the accused won’t be arrested. Singh told the Bench headed by Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale that Kuldeep Singh will not be arrested before the completion of formalities prescribed under the CrPC, inviting the Court’s wrath. “We are constrained to record the approach and attitude of the learned Advocate General during the course of hearing, in contending that no accused person, including Kuldeep Singh, can be arrested without the Investigating Officer following the procedure prescribed under CrPC and collecting evidence in support of the allegation of rape,” the Court said. The Bench also took cognizance of the AG’s refusal to arrest Kuldeep Singh. Referring to the AG’s statement, the Bench said: “It is sought to be urged that the FIR has been registered by the police against Kuldeep Singh on 12 April 2018 and that the Investigating Officer after recording statement of witnesses, including the accused and the prosecutrix under Section 161 CrPC would proceed, and on credible evidence, the accused may be arrested but as on date he submits that the accused Kuldeep Singh would not be arrested on merely registering of the FIR.” An angry Bench remarked: “The approach of the learned Advocate General is not only appalling but shocks the conscience of the Court in the backdrop of the instant case.” A former law officer said he did not recall any other advocate general of the state being rebuked by the Court in this manner.…
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Walk the Talk

Above: Allahabad High Court lawyers protesting against the demand of their counterparts from western UP for a separate bench/Photo: dnaindia.com Despite promises by the political establishment, the demand for a separate bench in western UP has been hanging fire for many years ~By Atul Chandra in Lucknow Each time there is a demand or a promise to set up a separate bench of Allahabad High Court in western Uttar Pradesh, lawyers of Allahabad rise in opposition. The issue has been hanging fire for more than 60 years, making the creation of a bench for the region as difficult as the carving out of a separate state. A familiar scenario unfolded recently with western UP lawyers reviving the demand and their counterparts in Allahabad opposing it. In February, approximately one laky lawyers of 22 western UP districts struck work for a week in support of their demand. When Allahabad lawyers responded with a strike to oppose the demand in April, the western UP lawyers again launched a protest. FALSE PROMISES Time and again, politicians have fuelled the hopes of western UP lawyers but failed to deliver. During a visit to Meerut last year, UP law minister Brijesh Pathak reportedly said: “We know that lawyers from western UP have been suffering for many years and have been agitating for long… We assure you that we will resolve this issue very soon… and I assure you that we will set up the High Court bench soon.” Setting up a permanent bench in the region was recommended to the centre by UP’s chief minister, Sampurnanand, in 1955.…
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Barred from Voting Too

Above: Mukhtar Ansari of the Bahujan Samaj Party who is in jail was barred from voting in recent Rajya Sabha elections In a first case in the state, two jailed MLAs, who are yet to be convicted, were prevented by the Allahabad High Court from voting in the Rajya Sabha elections under the Representation of People Act ~By Atul Chandra in Lucknow In the recent elections to the Rajya Sabha in Uttar Pradesh, Mukhtar Ansari of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Hari Om Yadav of the Samajwadi Party (SP), both of whom are in jail, were not allowed to vote after the government challenged their voting right under Section 62(5) of the Representation of People Act (RP Act). Ironically, Ansari had voted in the presidential poll last year. The state government has also instructed its prosecuting officers to oppose any move by incarcerated members of the legislature to attend House sessions. This was the first time that jailed, but yet to be convicted, legislators were not allowed to vote in the Rajya Sabha elections in the state, creating an “anomalous” situation. Crying foul, the Opposition claimed that it was done to prevent the victory of Bhimrao Ambedkar, the BSP candidate and former MLA.…
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Tardy Progress

Above: The board on the Andhra-Telangana border signals entry into Telangana/Photo: highwayonlyway.com Despite the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 being enacted four years ago, there has been little movement and both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana function from the same high court ~By Vinay Vats Though the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, or the Telangana Act, was enacted to create the state of Telangana and thereby divide Andhra Pradesh, even after four years there has been little progress. Recently, Sudhakar Reddy, a member of the legislative council of Andhra Pradesh and a Congress member, approached the Supreme Court, alleging that no action had been taken till date on many provisions of the said Act. This also includes setting up of separate high courts for the two states as per Section 31 of the Act, distribution/allocation of Andhra Pradesh Bhawan as per Section 48, distribution of employees, pension liability and an apex council for distribution of the waters of the Krishna and Godavari rivers. The Act was meant to create boundaries between the two states, determine their assets and liabilities, and make Hyderabad the permanent capital of Telangana and the temporary capital of Andhra Pradesh. The Act was published in the official gazette on June 2, 2014.…
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An Unfair World

Above: The SC/ST students of Banaras Hindu University on a protest agitation/Photo: UNI A new University Grants Commission order will reduce representation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs in all recruitment drives of universities ~By Neeraj Mishra The contentious issue of reservations, be it in educational institutions or jobs, has once again cropped up. In April 2017, the Allahabad High Court concluded arguments in the case of Vivekanand Tiwari and another Vs Union of India, BHU and others wherein the reservation roster for SC/ST was challenged. Tiwari had challenged a recruitment notice by Banaras Hindu University (BHU), which invited applications from such candidates for the entire university rather than individual departments. He wanted it quashed on the ground that each stream or department should have reservation rather than the entire university as a whole. The Court in its order noted that a “blanket policy of reservation on the cumulative vacancies across all departments defeats the purpose of reservation itself as some departments end up having no reservation at all”. The Court specifically requested and directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to examine at least 10 cases in which the Supreme Court had decided that reservation should be applied department-wise and submit its recommendations to the HRD ministry for consideration.…
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Blackmail Won’t Work!

Above: File photo of the quota stir/Photo: UNI The apex court has taken a dim view of arbitrary arrests under this Act and has laid down guidelines to protect public servants and private employees ~By Rajesh Kumar Supreme Court bench of Justices Adarsh Goel and UU Lalit has laid down guidelines to prevent misuse of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, while deciding a case filed by Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan against a May 5, 2017, order of the Bombay High Court. While the Act protects SC/ST members from casteist abuse and discrimination, the Court’s guidelines will now protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrest under this Act. The Court observed that the legislation has become an instrument to “blackmail” innocent citizens and public servants. The order came in response to a petition filed by Mahajan, Maharashtra’s director of technical education, who challenged an order of the Bombay High Court rejecting his plea for quashing an FIR registered against him for disallowing prosecution of a department official. The official was charged with making adverse remarks against an employee, Bhaskar Karbhari Gaidwad. The apex court said the proceedings were “clear abuse of process of court”. It also noted a press statement dated March 19, 2015, issued by the central government, which said that in the issue of false cases, relevant sections of the IPC can be invoked.…
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Festering Womb

Among the most contentious provisions of the proposed legislation is the compulsion for a “close relative” of an intending couple to act as a surrogate. “Firstly, the proposed Bill doesn’t define a close relative. Secondly, making only a close relative of an intending couple eligible to act as a surrogate for their child will have far-reaching and negative ramifications. Consider a scenario where a woman can’t have a child and the only close relative she has is her sister-in-law. Given our patriarchal society, there is a strong possibility that the woman’s family will force the daughter-in-law to act as a surrogate even if she is not willing to do so. How will you stop such exploitation?” points out Dr Shah. There is another possible scenario where this provision for a “close relative” will be problematic, points out Dr Shah. “Having a close relative act as a surrogate always carries the risk of emotional consequences; what if the child finds out later in life about the circumstances of his/her birth. There is the risk of the child growing distant from his legally recognised mother or his biological mother interfering in his upbringing or any number of other issues that could break a family while surrogacy was meant to complete the family,” she said.…
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Economic Offenders: Knee-Jerk Response

In view of the growing number of absconding defaulters, the government has tabled the Fugitive Offenders Bill in the Lok Sabha. But is it serious about getting them back? ~By Kingshuk Nag With Nirav Modi now, and his uncle and co-conspirator in the Rs 11,500 crore PNB scam, Mehul Choksi, earlier, telling the CBI that they would not come back to India and facilitate the investigations, the government seems helpless about getting them to face the law. “In the case of Vijay Mallya, everybody knew where he was. So the government could move the courts to extradite him, but for Modi and Choksi there is no firm evidence on their whereabouts,” confided an investigating agency official. Modi and Choksi have responded to the CBI on mail. But there is no way of knowing whether they have themselves replied on their email accounts or got some confidant to open their mails to send a reply! Both have mentioned that they feared for their personal safety and security. Choksi said that he underwent a cardiac procedure in February 2018 and has been advised by doctors not to travel for “4-6 months”. Modi said that since the CBI had seized his servers and files, he was “handicapped” in sharing information with the investigating agencies.…
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India Shining in Arbitration?

Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 aims to make India a preferred seat for resolving commercial disputes, quite on the lines of such centres in Singapore, London and Hong Kong, and makes amendments to the 2015 Act to fulfill this objective ~By Diljeet Titus and Rajesh Roshan As per the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2017, India fares badly on enforcement of contracts, with an average of 1,445 days taken for enforcement, placing the country at 164 in the global ranking on the Enforcing Contracts indicator. A huge backlog of pending cases and delays in Indian courts has acquired notoriety worldwide and it impedes economic growth and development as some investors have expressed serious concern in investing in India for this reason. It is therefore the need of the hour to have efficacious and viable alternatives to litigation. Undoubtedly, arbitration is considered a good alternative and a better method to resolve commercial disputes in terms of flexibility, speed and cost-effectiveness. However, arbitration in India is anything but this and is often criticised for being slow, expensive and ineffective. Arbitration in India is predominantly carried out on an ad hoc basis, wherein parties regulate and determine all aspects of the arbitration themselves such as the selection and manner of appointment of the arbitral tribunal, applicable law, procedure for conducting the arbitration and administrative support without assistance from or recourse to an arbitral institution.…
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Withdrawal of Resources: Lessons of Funds Crunch

Above: Students protesting on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in 2016. Photo: Anil Shakya The student unrest across university campuses is due to a resource crunch initiated by the UGC which has affected scholarships, fellowships, infrastructure and research ~By Lilly Paul The protests started by the students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) since February 21 over the withdrawal of fee waivers to SC, ST and OBC students show no signs of abating. Officials from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) are to visit the campus and meet the protesting students but what is worrisome is that the unrest has spread to many other universities as well. The reason behind the unrest is the lack of funds from the UGC. The UGC currently distributes about Rs 1,050 crore annually as higher education tuition fee/fellowship to about 82,000 beneficiaries through 35,000 fellowships each year. This represents around 200 scholarship schemes of the MHRD as well as other ministries. However, the numbers are constantly being reduced. In 2015, the UGC decided to withdraw non-net fellowships given to students and has been announcing the discontinuation of funds to several research centres especially those which study social discrimination.…
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India’s Tripping Point

Above: Indian Army jawans taking position near the site of a gunbattle with militants in Jammu and Kashmir The annual budgets for the armed forces have shown declining outlays for modernisation, thus affecting new projects. It is more to do with the government’s mindset   ~By Col R Hariharan Prime Minister Narendra Modi is probably happy to see leaders of foreign governments, one after the other, making a beeline to New Delhi because it indicates increasing recognition of India as an important global player. Modi has partly succeeded in preventing India’s strategic influence from being overwhelmed by China’s increasing power play in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region. The Maldives slipping into China’s fold, disregarding India’s objections, has shown that India fulfilling its strategic dream is still in the making. The Chinese dragon will continue to roll on because President Xi Jinping is trying to live the China dream. His strong global pitch is not only backed by deep pockets but also the People’s Liberation Army’s military muscle to defend China’s increasing global assets. Though India has overtaken China in its GDP rate of growth, surprisingly its armed forces are still to make up their decades of deficiencies even in meeting the essential needs to defend the country, let alone safeguard the country’s increasing global assets.…
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No contempt in Centre’s appointment of ASG Mehta as SPP, despite presence of court-appointed APP Grover: SC

Above: (Left) ASG Tushar Mehta and Senior Advocate Anand Grover ~By Vinay Vats The government’s decision to appoint Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta as Special Public Prosecutor in the 2G scam case, despite the presence of the Supreme Court-appointed SPP, senior advocate Anand Grover, has not been considered as a deed worthy of contempt by the apex court. On Monday (March 12) the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha dismissed the application by the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation. The bench, while appreciating the efforts of Grover, observed that since his appointment was confined to the trial court and government had issued a notification for other courts, appeals, revisional proceedings etc. it was open to the government to issue fresh notification and hence does not constitute contempt. The government had actually reduced the role of Grover in the case and the scope of the work of the ASG was widened. Mehta was given the task of conducting the prosecution, appeals/revisions or other proceedings arising out of the cases related to 2G Spectrum investigated by the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) in the Court of Special Judge (2G Spectrum cases), Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi. That was when the bench had also directed the CBI, the ED etc to complete the investigation within 6 months.…
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