Indian Navy: Sunk by Nepotism

Above: Even though the officers on INS Chakra underwent elaborate training, none of them was found eligible for promotion. Photo: gentleseas.blogspot.in A recent verdict of the Armed Forces Tribunal in which it fined a vice-admiral for favouring his son-in-law has brought into focus the need to review the promotion system in the navy   ~By Ajith Pillai Nepotism in the armed forces is not unheard of. In fact, over the years, this pernicious practice seems to have only grown. But most allegations of favouritism have remained limited to animated discussions over a drink at the mess or manifested themselves in anonymous complaints to the service chiefs. So, it did shake up the defence establishment when on July 31, Justice Virendra Singh, chairperson, and Lt Gen Sanjiv Langar, member, of the principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) delivered a stinging order in which they were sharply critical of the nepotism that influences promotions in the navy. The AFT came down heavily on Vice Admiral PK Chatterjee, who was the inspector general, nuclear safety, during 2010-12 for influencing the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of candidates and halting their promotions to facilitate his son-in-law, Captain AV Agashe’s promotion. Chatterjee was fined Rs 5 lakh and the navy was asked to make its process of upgrading officers to the next rank impervious to such unhealthy influences.…
Continue reading

Drug Smuggling: Caught in the High Seas

Above: The Indian Cost Guard apprehends a vessel involved in illegal activity. Photo: UNI One of the largest drug hauls along the Gujarat coast has necessitated the need for greater surveillance along India’s shores and modern lighthouses have a major role to play here ~By Ramesh Menon India seems to be under the radar of international drug traffickers. This was seen recently when the Indian Coast Guard seized 1,500 kg of heroin, valued at around Rs 3,500 crore, from a merchant ship off the Gujarat coast. This was one of the largest single hauls of narcotics and makes one wonder where the consignment would have gone had it not been detected. Would it have found its way into the domestic market or been routed by the mafia out of the country making India a transit point? Either way, the entry violates the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, which views drug offences very seriously and imposes stiff penalties on those caught. Under the Act, abetment, criminal conspiracy and even attempts to commit an offence attract the same punishment as the offence itself. Punishments under this Act can, in some cases, lead to the death penalty. IN THE CROSSHAIRS In this case, a merchant ship, Henry, aroused the suspicion of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), a government intelligence-gathering agency, as it was not expected to anchor at any of the ports in Gujarat.…
Continue reading

BSF Grievances Given Short Shrift

Feeling demoralised and dejected over the unfair deal given to it as compared to the Army, the force has appealed to the courts for justice   ~By Justice K Sreedhar Rao “Forward, the Light Brigade!” Was there a man dismay’d? Not tho’ the soldier knew Someone had blunder’d: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.”  —Lord Alfred Tennyson in his poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade, vividly depicts the life of a soldier in combat. This scenario could well apply to the Border Security Force (BSF) which has been feeling demoralised. It could also apply to other paramilitary forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indian Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Things finally came to a head in 2012 when these three forces and retired officers of the BSF and CRPF went to the Delhi High Court protesting that they were denied Non-functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU) when they were already an “organised force”. They claimed that other Group A officers had already been granted such a status. The High Court ruled in their favour in 2015. The Delhi High Court held that such a denial was illegal and directed that the said benefit be extended to the BSF as it was already organised since 1986.…
Continue reading

Indo-China Stand-off: A Battle of Nerves

Above Photo: UNI The confrontation in Doklam area is not just about Indian intrusion into a disputed territory near Bhutan. It is about India showing that it can no longer be taken for granted. Will it fulfill the obligations of Article 2 of the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty? ~By Colonel R Hariharan  Although it has been over five weeks since the face-off between Indian and Chinese troops started in the strategically important Doklam area in the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction, there is no sign of easing of tensions. It all started in mid-June when Indian troops joined the Royal Bhutanese army to physically prevent Chinese PLA engineers from constructing a road in the disputed area. When the news hit the Indian media with visuals of Indian and Chinese troops scuffling with each other, China’s state-controlled media let loose a barrage of propaganda, misinformation, threats and reminders of PLA prowess. The provocative tone of the op-eds on such a subject in the Communist party tabloid, Global Times, is nothing unusual. But when Xinhua and China Daily also joined the chorus, reminding India of its 1962 defeat, it probably was an indication that the Doklam standoff may well be part of a larger campaign to “cut down India to size”.…
Continue reading

Lack of legal status denies domestic helps lawful benefits

Above: Domestic workers protesting in New Delhi for a central legislation to guard their interests. Photo: Anil Shakya ~By Lilly Paul Why were the maids and domestic helps at Mahagun Moderne society at Noida Sector 78 left with no other option but to use force in trying to establish their economic rights? It led to chaos and unnecessary legal hassles for the maids. As per legal opinion accessed by India Legal, they actually have little legal status as employees, hence cannot enforce any known law of the land in courts. This is not to cast aspersions on the apartment owners at the upscale society. They, too, were within their rights to enforce a secure atmosphere within their living parameters. While they surely did not anticipate the riot-like situation that had arisen on the early morning of July 12, tensions remained high between the highly disparate economic strata, existing cheek by jowl. This is, anyway, a serious social issue that needs to be addressed urgently. The major reason for the outburst seems to be the lack of legal protection for these domestic workers which leaves them highly vulnerable to exploitation. Labour legislations in India do not have anything specific for domestic workers, hence they are not generally categorised to benefit from the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.…
Continue reading

Forged Orders: Hoodwinking the Police

Above Illustration: Anthony Lawrence Several shocking cases have come to light in which legal orders have been forged to fool the police. The only way to tackle such tricky situations is for authorities to check the authenticity of orders they get  ~By Naveen Nair One of the primary duties of any court is to uphold the rule of law. But what does it do when one of its own orders is forged and used to hoodwink the police? Take the case of a woman named Badrunissa who forged a Kerala High Court order last month so that she could evict a shop running on a disputed property of hers. And helping her forge this document was her advocate, Sunitha Begum, who then produced it before the police at Vadakkancherry station in Palakkad district in North Kerala. However, the cops did little to check the authenticity of the order. Bobby Mathew, sub-inspector of Vadakkancherry police station, told India Legal: “When a lawyer herself comes to the station with such an order from the High Court, why should we suspect that something is amiss? No policeman will want to check its authenticity at that time. Also, the lawyer was pushing us to take action immediately, giving the impression that it was a High Court order that needed to be acted on fast.” Mathew said it was the first time that he had encountered such a case.…
Continue reading

VK Sasikala: Luxury behind Bars

Above: Parappana Agrahara Central prison, Bengaluru, where Sasikala is jailed This Karnataka DIG is not the first bureaucrat to be shunted out for being a whistle-blower ~By MG Devasahayam Ebullient Karnataka DIG (Prisons) Roopa Divakar has set the hound among the wolves by her revelation of the rot in Bangalore’s Parappana Agrahara Central Jail. She has reported that AIADMK leader Sasikala is living in semi-luxury in the prison with a special kitchen and cooking facilities, TV and gym, as well as a separate “reception” room to receive visitors. It was also reported that visitors were allowed to stay beyond the stipulated time with no regard for restrictions and regulations. For these, a bribe of Rs 2 crore was paid to the DGP (Prisons) and other prison officials, she alleged. Roopa’s scathing report has more on the VIP culture that exists in the prison. Abdul Karim Telgi, the mastermind of a fake stamp paper racket worth billions of rupees, is serving a 30-year sentence at Parappana Agrahara. He also enjoys luxuries in his cell, including 3-4 undertrials who massage his legs, hands and shoulders. Telgi had become infamous for the use of mobile phones inside the prison. Similarly, mining baron and former minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, who underwent incarceration here in 2014, not only enjoyed a separate kitchen but also a gymnasium, two servants and had a sports utility vehicle to visit court.…
Continue reading

Hail to the Chief

The highest office in the country has often had incumbents with an independent way of thinking. Will Ram Nath Kovind kowtow to the present government or strike out on his own? ~By Vinay Vats Finally, the constitutional battle between the government and the Opposition for the election of the President has come to an end and Ram Nath Kovind, the second Dalit President, has emerged as the 14th President of India. He will be entitled to an official residence free of cost, a salary of Rs 1.5 lakh free of taxes and enjoy all constitutional privileges. But the path to the election of a President is not easy. The procedure for electing the President is laid down in Article 55 of the constitution. It is unique and original in the sense that no other constitution in the world has this procedure. The President is the first citizen of India and this post is considered the highest in the country. Although India is one of the largest democracies in the world, interestingly, this first citizen is not elected directly by the people. Constitution makers were in great dilemma as to whether the President should be elected directly by the people. Ultimately, they resorted to indirect election so that the real power resides with the ministers and not the President as such.…
Continue reading

Lift-off on Deals

Above: Audit of Indira Gandhi International Airport reveals unfair practices in the name of privatization. Photo: Rajeev Tyagi Allegations of suspect accounting practices and land deals have given Delhi airport’s privatisation a bad name. With a new megaport planned at Jewar, will favouritism rule the roost again? Airport privatisation has many plusses, including plusher and swankier airports offering services and facilities which measure up to international standards. But behind the glitter, there is also a downside. This has nothing to do with the concept of privatisation per se. It has more to do with the manner in which public-private partnerships are forged and executed and how some players are unduly favoured in the process. In fact, in aviation circles it is an open secret that private players who operate airports in India are covertly allowed to indulge in questionable accounting practices by vested interests and strike deals to maximise profits. This has resulted in loss of revenue to the public exchequer running into thousands of crores. The harsh realities thrown up by auditors since 2012 of the state of affairs at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport is an affirmation of this. CAG’s (Comptroller and Auditor General) 2016 draft revenue audit, accessed by India Legal, pegs the revenue loss for the government from non-aeronautical services at this one airport in the last six years at Rs 2,396.88 crore.…
Continue reading

Judging the Judge in Madhya Pradesh

Above: The Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court is under scanner for a money laundering case Another legal eagle has come under the scanner for lowering the dignity of his office and trying to influence others. The Congress now wants to start impeachment proceedings against Justice Hemant Gupta ~By Rakesh Dixit in Bhopal The chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice Hemant Gupta, is under the scanner in a money laundering case and there are moves to impeach him. According to reports, Congress’ Rajya Sabha members are planning to submit a petition to the Upper House chairman, Hamid Ansari, for initiating an impeachment process against Justice Gupta. He is accused of trying to influence an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer who was investigating a money laundering case against his wife and others. Chief Justice Hemant Gupta allegedly tried to influence an ED officer who was investigating a case pertaining to his wife The ED had sent a notice to Alka Gupta in November 2015 when she was a senior advocate in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Her husband was at that time a judge in the same court. The ED notice, under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, was also sent to Chetan Mittal, assistant solicitor general (ASG) based in Chandigarh.…
Continue reading

Tug-of-War Tightens!

Above: L-G of Puducherry, Kiran Bedi administering the oath to three MLAs nominated by the BJP, upsetting the chief minister and the Speaker. Photo: twitter.com In a blatant disregard for the elected government of Puducherry, Lt-Gov Kiran Bedi has administered the oath of office to three persons nominated by the centre, sharpening the divide with the CM ~By R Ramasubramanian in Chennai The Union Territory of Puducherry, 140 km from Chennai, is politically on the boil for the past three months. Puducherry is ruled by a Congress-DMK coalition headed by Chief Minister V Narayanasami. But ever since his government took office in May 2016, there has been constant friction with the Lt-governor, Kiran Bedi. And matters finally reached a flashpoint last fortnight. On July 4, the Modi government nominated Puducherry BJP president V Saminathan, treasurer KG Shankar and BJP sympathiser S Selvaganapathy as members of the assembly. This was done on the advice of Bedi. Immediately after the announcement was made by the centre, all three called on Bedi, Chief Secretary Manoj Parida and Speaker V Vaithialingam. They requested the Speaker to hold the swearing-in-ceremony. But the Speaker did not show any interest in this matter. Then all three met Bedi.…
Continue reading

Made in heaven, Certified on Earth

The Law Commission has recommended that a marriage certificate be made mandatory to give weddings legal sanctity. Will this clash with existing family laws and customs? ~By Meha Mathur Septuagenarian Neeru Gogia and her husband, now entering their 47th year of marriage, never felt the need for a marriage certificate, until the prospect of visiting their son in Canada for a three-month stay arose a few years ago. Among the mandatory documents that the couple had to submit for travel was a marriage certificate. So they had to pull out photographs of their marriage and arrange two witnesses to the certification office to get the certificate. Similarly, Manira and Nikhil Srivastava (names changed), married for 22 years, never felt the need for a certificate. The fact that their wedding was solemnised in the presence of 400 guests—and they had albums full of photographs—was proof enough for them that they were married. But things may change. Marriages may be made in heaven but they have to be notified in a registry. In fact, if the recommendations of the Law Commission of India, proposed this July, are accepted by the government, and a law is brought into effect, then every couple will have to get a certificate of marriage within three months of their marriage, irrespective of one’s caste, creed or religion.…
Continue reading