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Archives for : May2018

Set up anti-sexual harassment panels in all courts: Supreme Court to HCs #Vaw

NEW DELHI: In a significant direction, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the heads of all high courts to set up anti-sexual harassment committees in all courts across the country within two months in accordance with a 2013 law.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also asked the registrars general of the high courts to file a compliance report regarding setting up of these committees in courts, where it has not been constituted so far, by July 15.

“As far as the question of constitution of such committee(s) in other high courts/ district courts throughout the country is concerned, the chief justices of each of the high courts are requested to constitute the committees in high courts as well as the district courts, if not already constituted, within a span of two months,” the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said.

The directions came on a petition filed by a woman advocate who had alleged that she was assaulted by some lawyers observing a strike at the Tis Hazari district court complex here.

The bench asked its registry to communicate the order to the registrars general of each high court for necessary action by the chief justice or the acting chief justice.

“The registrars general of the high courts shall send a compliance report with regard to constitution of the Committee(s) in the high courts and/or the district courts on or before 15th July 2018. Let it be made clear, if the compliance report is not filed within the said time, the matter shall be listed before the Court suo motu …,” it said.

The court also directed the acting chief justice of the Delhi high court to set up the anti-sexual harassment committee in all courts in the capital as per the mandate of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, with “quite promptitude”.

The court, which had earlier granted protection to the woman lawyer, today tried to mediate the dispute between her and the bar members of Tis Hazari district courts. Cross-FIRs have been lodged by the woman lawyer and the accused advocate against each other at the Subzi Mandi police station here.

The bench later went on to pass the slew of directions in the case.

Transfering the probe into the cross cases, the bench said, “an officer of the rank of assistant commissioner of police (ACP), Crime Branch, New Delhi shall investigate both the FIRs.

“In both the FIRs, though lodged at PS Subzi Mandi, Delhi, if eventually chargesheets are filed and trial is held, for all purposes it shall be at Patiala House Courts, New Delhi,” it said, adding that the lawyers named as accused in both FIRs shall not be arrested.

“When we say that they shall not be arrested, it is requisite that neither of the parties shall create any kind of acrimonious atmosphere or tamper with the witnesses or any evidence which is likely to be brought on record. They shall also cooperate in the investigation,” it said.

There shall be a fair trial and none of the parties or any member of the Bar shall create any obstruction in the judicial proceedings, it said.

“Needless to say, our observations will not debar the parties to enter into a settlement, if they so desire and they will also be at liberty to challenge any order passed by the concerned Court or even take such steps for seeking quashing of the FIRs…,” it said.

It also allowed the woman lawyer to approach the ACP, Crime Branch in case of apprehension to her security, and the police officer, “if satisfied, shall make arrangement for her security”.

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Maharashtra Govt Fails to Fulfil Promises, Farmer Organisations Call For ‘Jail Bharo’ Protest

Around two lakh farmers will court arrest on May 14, which is the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.
Various farmer organisations, under the banner of Shetkari Sanghatana Sukanu Samiti, have called for a ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’ on May 14, across the state of Maharashtra. The court arrest, by over two lakh farmers, is slated to take place on the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. They will be protesting against the ‘anti-farmer’ attitude of the state government.
Their grievances are the ill implementation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Sanman Scheme (loan waiver scheme), failure to secure Minimum Support Price for milk farmers and waiver of power bills of farmers.
Farmer organisations, which have called for the protest include Shetkari Sanghatana, All India Kisan Sabha, Baliraja Shetkari Sangh, Satyashodhak Shetkari Sabha, and Akhil Bharatiya Shetkari Sangh, among others.
“Despite giving assurances, the government did not implement the schemes. We have conducted various agitations so far, like not paying electricity bills, observing fasts, launching a protest march etc., but the farmers could not get any relief,” PTI quoted Kishor Dhamale of Satyashodhak Shetkari Sabha as saying.
A failed attempt at alleviation
Responding to the deplorable condition of farmers, Maharashtra’s chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced the so-called historic farm loan waiver – titled Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana – in the state on June 24, 2017. The Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme intended to help 89 lakh farmers in debt, out of which loans of around 40 lakh farmers were to be completely written off.
However, as reported by Firstpost, the scheme benefitted only 31 lakh farmers and loans worth Rs 12,262 crores were waived till January 2018. The report mentioned technical glitches, mismatches in data and tussles in bureaucracy, as reasons for the slow progress, turning the Aadhaar-linked farm loan waiver scheme into a nightmare.
The mismatch, caused due to the Aadhaar-mapping of loan accounts, resulted in the first combined master list of only 2.39 lakh valid applicants who were eligible for loan waiver, which is just 3 percent of the applications received from farmers by the government.
Pointing towards this fiasco, Raghunathdada Patil, leader of Shetkari Sanghatana said, “After the announcements of farm loan waiver, around 2,000 farmers have committed suicide. The loan waiver hasn’t helped in stopping farmer suicides. We don’t accept the government’s loan waiver. It should be a complete loan waiver for all farmers”.
Only “broken promises” for milk farmers
After a week-long strike by the farmers in Maharashtra, the government, in June 2017, promised better prices to milk producers, a likely increase of Rs 3 per litre. The revised price at which the dairies were to purchase cow milk was estimated to be at Rs 27 per litre.
However, the promise turned out to be just another ludicrous attempt of the state government to appease the angry farmers.
Expressing anguish over the present situation of milk farmers, Kishor Dhamale of Satyashodhak Shetkari Sabha said, “Around three crore litres of milk is produced every day in Maharashtra. The government had promised the rate of Rs 27 per litre, but farmers are getting the rate of Rs 20 per litre. They have to bear losses of Rs 21 crore every day which means the losses of Rs 7,000 crore (from June 2017) till today.”
Unending tale of agrarian crisis in Maharashtra
Last year, a state-wide farmers’ strike was called in Maharashtra by Kisan Kranti, which rocked Madhya Pradesh as well and resulted in the deaths of six farmers in Mandsaur district. After the passage of one year, the reality of farmers is still the same, resulting in a sentiment of discontent towards the state. Considering the perpetual endeavours of different governments to only play politics in the name of alleviating the condition of farmers, maybe jail is the only place left for survival.

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India – Alarm in government as whistleblower sends classified documents

heli-BCClAirbus is learnt to have informed the Director General (Acquisition) of the defence ministry earlier this week that its investigations did not reveal any wrongdoing or corruption involving government officials, but had brought out that certain classified documents had been leaked.

By Manu Pubby,

Airbus is learnt to have informed the Director General (Acquisition) of the defence ministry earlier this week that its investigations did not reveal any wrongdoing or corruption involving government officials, but had brought out that certain classified documents had been leaked.
NEW DELHI: There has been considerable alarm in the government after it received classified documents pertaining to recent defence contracts along with an anonymous letter to top functionaries alleging corruption and fixing in a Rs. 2,000-crore Airbus deal to sell helicopters to the Indian Coast Guard.

While the norm is to ignore unsigned complaints, the detailed letter on the deal for 14 twin-engine heavy helicopters was taken seriously after it was found that several classified government documents were also attached, pointing to a leak.

The Airbus Group, against whom the allegations have been made, has informed the defence ministry that it conducted an inquiry into malpractices following a complaint by an internal whistleblower and will share the details on the possible origin and timing of the leak, sources aware of the matter said. Airbus has requested the government not to take any action until the internal probe is completed.

The internal investigation by Airbus into allegations of malpractices raised by an employee is also believed to have been the reason for cancellation of the coast guard chopper deal that was to have been signed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in March.

While India was keen to go ahead with the deal for the EC 725 Super Cougar’ copters, Airbus did not extend the validity of its commercial bid in February, leading to a technical lapse in the procurement process. It is now learnt that the bid was not extended due to the internal probe by the European company. However, fresh efforts to revive the bid are said to be under way.

ET sent a detailed questionnaire to Airbus for reactions but a response is not yet available.

As far as the internal whistleblower within Airbus is concerned, ET has learnt that the executive looked after offset partnerships in India and communicated regularly with top Indian government officials. The executive is currently on leave as investigations are being carried out.


“You can contact Airbus directly. I cannot speak on this matter,” the executive said when contacted by ET. The anonymous letter received by the defence ministry alleged that benchmarking norms were changed and spare engine price calculations were hidden to favour Airbus and named three top coast guard officers as beneficiaries. It alleged that fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and former business consultant Deepak Talwar, both of whom left the country after cases were registered against them by investigating agencies, acted as agents for Airbus.

A retired naval officer hired by Airbus for technical consultation is alleged to be the main middleman. Airbus has since terminated the services of the retired officer.

Some of the appended documents are said to have been established as genuine raising concern over the source of the leak. Further course of formal action on the matter is being decided. The defence ministry has not yet responded to a questionnaire sent by ET.

Though the allegations may not be of substantive nature, the defence ministry ordered the issue to be examined internally on December 19, possibly due to the presence of the attached documents related to offset compliance and selection for defence contracts. Offsets are contractual obligations to invest a certain portion in the purchasing country’s indigenous industry.

Airbus is learnt to have informed the Director General (Acquisition) of the defence ministry earlier this week that its investigations did not reveal any wrongdoing or corruption involving government officials, but had brought out that certain classified documents had been leaked.

Government officers are especially wary of complaints and allegations regarding offsets, given that this route has become notorious for channeling of alleged bribes into India. At least three major cases have come under the scanner of investigating agencies and audit bodies — the Agusta Westland VVIP chopper deal, Offsets India Solutions promoted by Bhandari, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

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