Highly polluting Taloja effluent plant to deposit Rs 5 crore: NGT

On April 18, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) passed the order directing the Taloja Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) Co-operative Society Ltd to deposit Rs 5 crore with the district magistrate within 30 days. Owing to the pollution created by the industrial effluent along the Kasadi river and Vashi creek, the penalty comes across as a relief for the people residing alongside the creeks. The money is to be kept “in a separate fund subject to further orders”, as was guided to the district magistrate. In Maharashtra, Taloja is the most-polluting CETP and has been classified as a non-performing plant by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). The CETP in Navi Mumbai has indeed been recording very high levels of BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) and COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand), which are wastewater quality indicators. As per the order passed on April 11, the NGT’s principal bench, Delhi, marked the pollution caused since 2013 and directed the CETP Cooperative Society to begin the work of upgrading the plant within one month failing which they will be liable to penal action. Since the CETP board dissolves in 2017, the plant is now under an administrator. However, the NGT has ordered the CETP to report on measures taken to fix the untreated discharge and locked the date of next hearing to May 11, 2018.…
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Media houses to pay Rs 10 lakh each revealing the identity of the victim: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has directed media houses to pay Rs. 10 lakh each as penalty for revealing the identity of the eight-year-old Kathua rape victim, stated sources. The order was pronounced by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar after the media houses apologised following notices sent to them by the court over the issue. The notices were reportedly issued to 12 media houses on April 13 for disclosing the identity of an eight-year-old girl who was gang-raped and killed in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. The court had taken suo-motu suo moto cognizance of the matter. The money has to be paid to the Jammu and Kashmir Victim Compensation Fund within a week, the media reports stated. The advocates representing the media houses are reported to have told the court that they revealed the identity of the victim by mistake and ignorance of law because they thought it was okay to name her as she was dead. Pronouncing the order, the bench also directed that information about the law regarding privacy of victims of sexual offences and punishment for revealing their identities should be publicised. The court had earlier prohibited the media houses “from effecting any publication including the name, address, photograph, family details, school details, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may have an effect of leading to the disclosure of the identity of the child victim”.…
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NRI woman allowed giving consent for a mutual divorce through Skype: Bombay HC

In a landmark verdict, the Bombay High Court allowed an NRI woman to give her consent for a mutual divorce from her alienated husband through “Skype or any other technology”. Harshada and her husband Bharat filed a petition before the family court for dissolution of marriage through mutual consent under Section 13 B of the Hindu Marriage Act. Although Bharat had signed the said petition, Harshada’s father, who is also registered power of attorney holder, had signed the petition on her behalf. The family court held that both parties must remain present for filing such a petition and dismissed it on the same ground. Justice Bharati Dangre revoked the Family Court’s order rejecting to register the US-based woman’s petition for divorce on the grounds that she was not personally present to file it despite the woman having given her father power of attorney in the divorce proceedings. “Due to globalisation and since educated young persons are crossing the borders of India, it is not possible to remain present (to file petitions),” the high court said. “There is no legal lacunae in filing of the petition through a registered power of attorney… the family court will not insist on the presence of the parties before the court and would arrange for the consent terms to be recorded either through Skype or adopting any other technology,” added the Judge.…
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Plea against 70% solar imports safeguard dismissed: Madras HC

The petition challenging the Directorate General of Safeguards’ recommendation of 70% safeguard duty on import of solar panels and modules has been dismissed by the Madras High Court, revealed sources. The subsequent step, after the dismissal of the petition, has paved the way for public hearing. To take the final call the report will be sent to panel of secretaries of commerce, revenue, industrial policy, external affairs and new and renewable energy ministries. Acting on a petition from domestic solar manufacturers who claimed imports of solar panels and modules were causing their industry serious injury, the Directorate General of Safeguards had in mid January 2018 suggested slapping a whopping 70% levy on solar imports. Over 90% of solar equipment used in Indian projects is imported, mostly from China and Malaysia. The solar developers of India were distressed by the recommendation of Directorate General of Safeguards. The developers claimed that it will increase construction costs and thereby will result in steep rise of solar tariffs. “Though there is widespread fear that duties will slow down the sector, the court’s decision provides much needed clarity to all stakeholders and allows them to plan their next steps,” said Vinay Rustagi, Managing Director of Solar Consultancy Bridge to India.…
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Infringement of Patanjali trademark stopped: Delhi HC

In a relief to Baba Ramdev and his trademark ‘Patanjali’, Delhi High Court’s Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, has restrained four ayurveda firms and a trust from manufacturing, selling or advertising any goods or services bearing the mark or word Patanjali’, Ramdev’s registered trademark. Ramdev’s company Patanjali Ayurved Ltd had filed a plea that the four firms — Karamveer Ayurveda, Dr Zee Biotech, Dhatri, and Diwai Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan — were manufacturing and marketing products similar to its own by infringing its trademark. Moreover, Patanjali also argued before the court that the firms were distributing their products as that of the company and they were claiming to do so under authorisation of the trust, Maharishi Patanjali Vedic Foundation. The court noted that Patanjali Ayurved has made out a prima facie case for grant of an ex-parte order in its favour restraining the four firms and the trust from infringing its trademark. The court has sought replies from these firms while restraining the five defendants from infringing the trademark of Patanjali. The next hearing for the same is date for May 16.…
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I-T department to allow lawyers to file returns without Aadhaar: Delhi HC

Reportedly, the Delhi High Court ordered the Income Tax Department to accept the tax returns of lawyers Mukul Talwar and Vrinda Grover, who had earlier filed a petition in the court regarding the same. The Delhi High Court has allowed the lawyers to file returns without Aadhaar Card; however, it has been granted on the basis that they are duly filed before June 30, 2018. The Division Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla issued a notice to the Revenue Department, seeking its response to the petition. The notice stated, “Having regard to the above facts and circumstances the respondents are hereby directed to ensure that the petitioners’ returns are accepted without indicating any linkage with Aadhaar No./quoting Aadhaar Enrolment No. or quoting Aadhaar No. with PAN details in accordance with the above circular, provided they are duly filed before 30.06.2018.” The next hearing of the matter has been dated to May 14. In the meantime, the ruling government had justified the Aadhaar Act in the Apex Court, saying it was a ‘fair and reasonable law’ which complied with the tests endorsed by the significant verdict on the right to privacy. In 2017, Right to Privacy was declared as an intrinsic part of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.…
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Cognizant to pay Rs 420 cr tax in two days: Madras HC

On April 4, the Madras High Court has ordered Cognizant Technology Solutions, involved in a Rs 2,800-crore tax dispute with the I-T department, to pay 15% (Rs 420 crore) of the demanded amount in two days. To aid them with their payment, the court has ordered unfreezing of the company’s bank account with JP Morgan in Mumbai. However, its accounts with other banks will remain frozen. The HC bench said, “There shall be an order of an interim stay on the income tax proceedings, subject to the condition that Cognizant pays 15% of the tax demanded, and furnishes a bank guarantee or security by way of fixed deposit for the remaining tax demanded. For proper compliance to the condition, the attachment of bank account with JP Morgan Chase Bank, Mumbai, shall stand lifted forthwith. However, the attachment in respect of other banks SBI, Deutsche, Corporation and HDFC Bank shall continue till the compliance of the direction. Similarly, the attachment of nine bank deposits to the tune of Rs 2,650 crore shall continue subject to the lien being created for remaining amount of taxes.” Justice T S Sivagnanam passed the interim direction on a plea moved by Cognizant assailing the tax demand and the freezing of its 68 bank accounts.…
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State to frame policies to regulate food prices at cinema halls: Bombay HC

On April 4, noting that the cost of food and water inside multiplexes was exorbitant; the Bombay High Court opined that it should be sold at regular prices. The State government informed the court that it is working on formulating a policy to regulate food prices being sold inside theatres. A division bench of justices S M Kemkar and M S Karnik was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by city resident Jainendra Baxi, challenging the prohibition on carrying outside food inside movie theatres and multiplexes across the state. The petitioner’s lawyer, Aditya Pratap Singh, told the court there does not exist any legal or statutory provision that prohibits one from carrying personal food articles or water inside movie theatres. Agreeing to this, Justice Kemkar said, “The price of food and water bottles sold inside movie theatres are, indeed, exorbitant. We have ourselves experienced it. You (multiplexes) should sell it at the regular price.” The court said that if multiplexes were prohibiting people from bringing outside food, then there should be a total prohibition on eatables. “Then you (multiplexes) cannot have your own vendors selling food and other snacks inside,” Kemkar said. The PIL said the restriction on bringing food by cinema goers violates the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution, which particularly affects the elderly and persons with medical conditions.…
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Guidelines for Municipal Corporations and Contractors issued: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has taken the municipal corporations here to task for indefinitely delaying the settling of bills of contractors for civil works, terming it “wholly arbitrary” and “unfathomable“. “To ask the contractor to wait endlessly for his payment is wholly arbitrary. The corporation which hands over the works contract to the contractor cannot say ‘do the work now, I will pay when I have the money’,” Justice Pratibha M Singh said, adding that the tenders or work orders must be issued on the pre-condition that funds are available. “It is unfathomable as to how the corporation can postpone the payment to the contractor indefinitely,” the court said, adding that the “delay in payments compromises on availability of quality civil work for the corporations, who take care of the basic amenities for citizens such as roads, pavements, civil works, sewerage lines etc.” HC stated that along with the work order, all the clauses of the contract should be attached from now. Once the work is allotted to a private contractor “periodic inspections of the work being carried out should be done by the engineer-in-charge; if possible, photographs of the works at different stages should be taken and maintained on the record.” HC’s guidelines also make it mandatory for the contractors to timely submit interim bills, certifying the work which has been carried out.…
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Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar appointed Acting Chief Justice: J&K HC

Justice Ramalingum Sudhakar has been appointed by President Ram Nath Kovind to perform duties of Chief Justice after the retirement of incumbent Chief Justice of Jammu Kashmir High Court, Badar Durrez Ahmed. “In exercise of the powers conferred…the President is pleased to appoint Justice Ramalingum Sudhakar, senior most judge of the J&K High Court to perform the duties of the office of the Chief Justice of that High Court with effect from 16 March 2018 consequent upon the retirement of the Justice Badar Durez Ahmad, Chief Justice of the J&K High Court,” said an order issued by Union law ministry. Justice Sudhakar, who is the senior most Judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, will assume office on March 16.…
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23 Permanent Judges appointed in Bombay, Gujarat and Rajasthan High Courts

On March 9, the law ministry notified the appointment of 23 permanent Judges in the Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bombay high courts. These come on the heels of the government appointing three new Additional Judges to the Calcutta High Court and notifying 17 Additional Judges in Madhya Pradesh as permanent on March 7. Experts however, said these seemingly large-scale exercises mask the fact that only emergency appointments are being made to the higher judiciary. Just eight new Judges have been appointed so far this year. Before Calcutta, five additional Judges were appointed to the Karnataka High Court in February. In both cases, lawyers went on strike demanding that the government appoint Judges already recommended by the Supreme Court collegium. While the lawyers in Karnataka withdrew their relay hunger strike after the new appointments were made on February 9, their counterparts in the Calcutta High Court refused to end their agitation. “Three Judges are just not sufficient. The collegium had sent 13 names (for consideration),” said Uttam Kumar Majumder, President of the Calcutta High Court Bar Association. Congress leader Brijesh Kallappa said Karnataka Chief Minister Siddharamaiah had also sought the appointment of more Judges from the Union law minister in February. The Calcutta High Court has 39 vacancies against 72 judicial posts while its Karnataka counterpart has 32 vacancies against 62 positions.…
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Justice Gita Mittal to be presented with Nari Shakti Puraskar

Justice Gita Mittal, Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, is among the 39 women who will be conferred with Nari Shakti Puraskar on the occasion of Women’s Day on March 8. Mittal becomes the first woman from the field of law and justice to be conferred the ‘Nari Shakti Puraskar’, India’s highest civilian honour for women. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, which will be given to 39 awardees from the field of science, sports, art, social work, conservation, agriculture, education, agriculture, defence and security. The award is to be presented to Justice Mittal in a private ceremony by the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on International Women’s Day. Justice Mittal, who took over as Acting Chief Justice after the retirement of Justice G Rohini in April 2017, has introduced many welcome changes in the functioning of the Delhi High Court. She started her legal practice in 1981, and ever since, there has been no looking back for her. She has had an illustrious legal practice in all courts and other judicial forums and was appointed Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court in 2004. Within a short span of 2 years, she was confirmed as permanent Judge of the Delhi High Court in 2006.…
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