Shikshakarmis’ Recruitment: Populism over Prudence

Above: The shikshakarmis’ agitation for a place on the rolls has finally borne fruit. They have been on strike in many states across the country In a move set to add a Rs 15,000 crore burden annually, the government has regularised 1.36 lakh contractual teachers. This has opened a Pandora’s Box as those left out have gone to court By Neeraj Mishra in Raipur It’s not infrastructure, books or midday meals that will make a child turn to school and academics. The most important ingredient is the teacher. If the teacher is good, then children learn and adapt faster. Chhattisgarh has put that theory to test as it has regularised more than 1.36 lakh teachers who were hitherto known as shikshakarmis. A total of 1.03 lakh of them have already been accommodated and another 25,000 are likely to get the okay soon. These shikshakarmis had been recruited by the Digvijaya Singh government in 1997-98 in united MP. The entry-level qualification was so low that several thousand school dropouts, shady graduates and unemployable youth got jobs by bribing their village headmen as, believe it or not, they were the recruitment agency. The panchayats, nagar palikas and nagar nigams were tasked with recruiting people from their areas and naturally, MLAs, corporators and sundry public reps had a field day.…
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Justice Chelameswar: Playing a Double Role?

Above: Former SC judge J Chelameswar/Photo: Anil Shakya The question several judges and legal luminaries are now still pondering about is whether Justice Chelameswar should be lauded as a whistleblower who espoused a cause higher than his own personal ambitions, or as a person engrossed in pursuing a private agenda ~By India Legal Bureau Comparisons are easy to make. They can also be far-fetched. One obvious one is placing former law minister Shanti Bhushan side by side with the late Justice Hans Raj Khanna and Justice JastiChelameswar. It is like weighing a pebble against a mountain. Justice Khanna stood like a wall of granite against the might of the Indian state which was privatised for personal gain by the politico-bureaucratic machinery that suspended all liberties under Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. This would be chief justice resigned rather than compromise with the Constitution. Justice Chelameswar, the second seniormost judge in the Collegium, retired when his term ended after a controversial innings that brought both opprobrium and politics to the Supreme Court. Justice Chelameswar may have spoken his mind and ruffled feathers but none of his judgments during these troubled times, when intolerance and authoritarianism hang heavy in the air, can light a candle to Justice Khanna’s judgments which form the basis of modern constitutional law in India.…
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A step towards the goal of legalising betting

The latest report by the Law Commission of India has recommended that betting be made legal; this can stop criminal activity and open doors to huge revenue ~By Sujit Bhar The steady movement of the judiciary and the executive towards legalisation of betting in sports gained momentum on Thursday (July 5) when the Law Commission of India’s 276th report, presented before law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, recommended that betting in India should be legalised. According to the covering letter written by Justice BS Chauhan, former Supreme Court judge and now chairman of the law Commission, the report, titled “Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India”, the making of the report came off “the case of Board of Control for Cricket in India vs Cricket Association of Bihar & Ors., (2016) in which the top court had “asked the Law Commission of India to study the possibility of legalising, inter alia, observing thus: “.. that the recommendation made by the Committee tat betting should be legalised by law, involves the enactment of a Law which is a matter that may be examined by the Law Commission and the Government for such action as it may consider necessary…” Justice Chauhan also said that during the course of the study the commission realised that there was a close association between gambling and betting (as in closed gambling and betting on outcomes of an external incident/event such as a cricket match) and hence the “black world” of gambling in the country needs to be controlled.…
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MP Litigation Policy: Cutting the Losses

Above: Over 1.25 lakh cases are pending before the MP High Court’s principal bench in Jabalpur With studies showing that governments are litigants in 46 percent of cases pending in all courts, Madhya Pradesh takes the lead to reduce the burden of court cases on the exchequer ~By Rakesh Dixit in Bhopal  In 2010, the then UPA government led by Manmohan Singh unveiled a National Litigation Policy (NLP). While that has remained on the backburner since, the Madhya Pradesh government has revised its own 2011 litigation policy.  The Madhya Pradesh cabinet cleared its 2018 litigation management policy in April. A plan of action is now being prepared. “Training programmes for law officers to fortify a monitoring system of cases are on,” principal secretary, law, Satendra Kumar Singh, told India Legal. According to the new policy, if the state government loses any case in a court, the officer responsible will have to face the music. Also, the government will desist from challenging the loss in higher courts unless deemed to be in larger public interest. Pertinently, the Madhya Pradesh government has been losing an alarmingly large number of cases. Reasons for this include short-sightedness of bureaucrats, lack of proper monitoring of cases, delay in filing replies and affidavits in courts and paucity of competent law officers.…
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Masking the Truth

Above: Photo courtesy Delhi SOS/Facebook   ~By Lilly Paul It took a massive citizen protest, a stay order from the Delhi High Court and a contempt petition, for the Centre to rethink its controversial decision of felling over 14, 000 trees for housing redevelopment project in South Delhi localities of Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Mohammadpur, Sriniwaspuri, Kasturba Nagar and Thyagaraj Nagar. “No trees would be cut in the process of redevelopment of seven colonies in South Delhi”, said Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri while assuring Delhiites that the national capital’s green cover would not be “damaged” but all necessary steps will be taken to enhance it. The statement was put out by the ministry on Thursday night. The news about felling trees drew huge flak from the public with the residents of Delhi coming out prominently against the decision and the Capital getting its own Chipko movement. The Delhi High Court, while acting on a petition by Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra to set aside the terms of reference (ToR) and Environment Clearance granted to the project, had put the tree felling plan on hold till July 4, the next hearing in the matter before the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NBCC’s construction project was under controversy right from the beginning.…
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Remembering the Censor’s Blue Pencil

Above: Photo Courtesy The Hindu ~By Dilip Bobb On the anniversary of Indira Gandhi’s emergency, a look back at the 18 months of censorship and its effect on the media The large media turnout at the Delhi Press Club recently to protest the CBI raids on NDTV where eminent speakers waxed eloquently about the threats to freedom of the press, had a heavy sense of déjà vu. For those of us who were in the profession 43 years ago, when Indira Gandhi imposed a state of emergency (June 25th) and strict press censorship, the Delhi Press Club, centrally located on 1 Raisina Road and surrounded by government offices (including the then newly appointed Chief Censor right next door), became our refuge. Unable to write or report anything remotely negative about the government, the bar stools were lecterns to let off steam and the club itself a welcome escape from the stifling atmosphere visible everywhere else. Between June 25, 1975 and March 21, 1977, the press was trapped in a dystopian limbo. It was like somebody had pressed the pause button on reality. I still remember it well, mainly because I had just joined the profession and my employers, themselves new to the media business, were preparing to launch a newsmagazine!…
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Court Papers: Mystery of the Missing Files

Above: Inside the Patna High Court record room. The apex court held that if reconstruction and retrial are not possible due to loss of basic records, the accused can be acquitted/Photo: Prashant Panjiar The disappearance of important papers from various high courts is not only a travesty of justice but leads to greater pendency ~By India Legal Bureau  The Kerala High Court recently ordered an inquiry after court files relating to a case of misappropriation of funds in the state-run Malabar Cements Ltd went “missing”. Justice B Sudheendra Kumar of the High Court termed the disappearance of files from the court as “worrisome”. “It appears that the missing of memorandum ofp the Writ Petitions is an orchestrated event. From the above, it can be reasonably presumed that the security of the High Court is at stake. Therefore, the situation is very much alarming. Such type of orchestrated activities cannot be permitted to continue in an institution like temple of justice,” Justice Kumar said. Well-intentioned sentiments, but the fact is that such incidents have been happening, not just in Kerala, but in courts across the country. And for a long time. It was believed that such happenings would end once the e-court system was put in place, but the tardy pace at which it is proceeding means case files will continue to go missing, making a travesty of the judicial process.…
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Gutka Scam: Chew on This!

Above: A representative image of a gutka shop. The illicit business of gutka in Tamil Nadu is worth several hundred crores With the apex court upholding a Madras High Court judgment ordering a CBI probe into the gutka scam, many police officers who were involved in it are rattled  By R Ramasubramanian in Chennai The Supreme Court’s order justifying the Madras High Court’s judgment directing the CBI to investigate the multi-crore gutka scam has rattled the Tamil Nadu police. Right from the rank of director-general of police to inspectors, several of them are allegedly involved in this multi-crore scam. According to conservative estimates by both central and state government agencies, the scam has been going on for the past four years and several crores were paid as bribes to at least a dozen police officers. This was confirmed by a senior IT official who didn’t want to be named. “I have clinching and prosecutable evidence about the involvement of one minister and at least a dozen top police officials from the ranks of DGPs to ordinary inspectors in the Tamil Nadu police department. My department had sent a detailed letter to the Tamil Nadu chief secretary just six months before Chief Minister J Jaya-lalithaa’s death on December 5, 2016.” The story was brought to the light by a whistleblower, A Shankar, who in his website—savukkuonline—wrote on January 4, 2017 that a massive scam running into crores was unearthed by the Income Tax department when it raided a godown near Chennai.…
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AAP Agitation: Back on Dharna Mode

Above: Arvind Kejriwal (centre) with his ministers Manish Sisodia (left), Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai at the Lt Governor’s residence/Photo courtesy: twitter Even as the AAP’s strike inside the L-G’s official residence over its IAS officers continues, the people of Delhi are being neglected and administration has come to a halt ~By Ashok Damodaran Drama has always been an important part of Arvind Kejriwal’s life, both as a civil servant, and lately, as a politician. The last time he played out a drama was more than three years ago and it had the desired effect. As chief minister of the minority AAP government supported by the Congress, he sat on a dharna outside the Parliament House demanding control over the Delhi police, which remained with the centre. The Modi government refused to budge, Kejriwal resigned as chief minister and fought fresh elections. The rest, as they say, is history. After three years, Kejriwal is once again on dharna mode. For the past five days, the chief minister and three of his ministers—Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai—have parked themselves at Raj Nivas, the official residence of Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal, with whom the chief minister has had several run-ins in recent times.…
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National Registry on Sexual Offenders: Keeping a Track

(Left) Sanji Ram, one of the main accused in the Kathua rape case; BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar has been booked in the Unnao rape case The proponents of such a database believe it will have a deterrent effect, but similar records have made virtually no difference in the handful of countries where they exist ~By Lilly Paul In January last year, the Delhi police arrested a 38-year-old man during investigations into a case of sexual assault of three minor girls. It turned out that Sunil Rastogi was a serial rapist; he confessed to the police of having targeted nearly 500 children over the last 13 years in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Sustained interrogation revealed the fact that he had been earlier convicted in 2006 for the sexual assault of a girl and had served six months in jail. The Raikot police, this month, booked a government school teacher for sexually harassing a Class VIII student. In the suspension notice handed to the teacher, the director of public instructions said that the teacher was accused of harassment by another student in 2016 as well. A rape takes place every 25 minutes in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2016 saw a spike in cases of rape.…
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“Judges Should Speak Inside the Court Not Outside”

Above: Former Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde (centre) flanked by Pradeep Rai, senior advocate, Supreme Court (second from left); Rajshri Rai, editor-in-chief, APN News (second from right); Inderjit Badhwar, editor-in-chief, India Legal (first right) and Dilip Bobb, senior managing editor, India Legal (first left)/Photo: Anil Shakya The former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde feels nobody gained or came out wiser in the recent episode which saw four senior apex court judges virtually revolt against the chief justice of India Former Supreme Court Justice Santosh Hegde has stated that senior judges have not set a good precedent by voicing their opinions against their colleagues in public. “There are thousands of judges in different high courts in India. Many of them would have differences of opinion and they would want to come out and express these in public, but then, what would become of institutional integrity. Judiciary should never be in public at all. It is an institution that has to work on its own. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is discussing what’s happening in the judiciary. This is not what was expected,” said Justice Hegde, the former Karnataka Lokayukta, while participating in an India Legal Show. “When you are a judge, you should be seen talking only inside the court, not outside,” he said about the ongoing rift in the Judiciary.…
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“Judges Should Speak Inside the Court Not Outside”

Above: Former Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde (centre) flanked by Pradeep Rai, senior advocate, Supreme Court (second from left); Rajshri Rai, editor-in-chief, APN News (second from right); Inderjit Badhwar, editor-in-chief, India Legal (first right) and Dilip Bobb, senior managing editor, India Legal (first left)/Photo: Anil Shakya The former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde feels nobody gained or came out wiser in the recent episode which saw four senior apex court judges virtually revolt against the chief justice of India Former Supreme Court Justice Santosh Hegde has stated that senior judges have not set a good precedent by voicing their opinions against their colleagues in public. “There are thousands of judges in different high courts in India. Many of them would have differences of opinion and they would want to come out and express these in public, but then, what would become of institutional integrity. Judiciary should never be in public at all. It is an institution that has to work on its own. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is discussing what’s happening in the judiciary. This is not what was expected,” said Justice Hegde, the former Karnataka Lokayukta, while participating in an India Legal Show. “When you are a judge, you should be seen talking only inside the court, not outside,” he said about the ongoing rift in the Judiciary.…
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