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Archives for : Supreme Court

SC petition filed for Delhi Professor, G N Saibaba’s Release

saibaba-main

HYDERABAD: Council for Social Development regional director Kalpana Kannabiran has filed a petition in the Supreme Court for appropriate order to secure the release of Delhi University professor GN Saibaba  from the solitary confinement in prison and also orders to permit him to stay with his care-givers in a place where he has routine and familiar access to medical facilities, assistance and health care.

Prof Kalpana Kannabiran filed the petition invoking the epistolary jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution.

The petitioner, naming Union of India, National Human Rights Commission, State of Maharashtra and Dr GN Saibaba as respondents, argued that Saibabab’s arrest was unconstitutional and violative of his rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as he had disability which was aggravated by his chronic ill health.

She said in her petition that Saibaba had been arrested by the Maharashtra police for alleged links with Maoists. He has been kept in solitary confinement in the Nagpur Central Prison. “Saibaba teaches English at Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi and is a wheelchair user with 90 per cent benchmark disability caused by permanent post-polio paralysis of legs and painful chronic spinal condition. In addition to this, he suffers from chronic heart ailment with high blood pressure.”

The petitioner said that detention of a person with severe disabilities, who requires high support for daily living, was violative of his dignity and personal liberty. “Keeping such a person in solitary confinement in judicial custody amounts to denial of access to health care and recognition of need for special assistance for persons with disabilities.”

She said the action of the state of Maharashtra in arresting Saibaba was violative of India’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention enjoins states to refrain from engaging in any act or practice inconsistent with the present convention and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity with the present convention. The convention also says that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

She said that denial of special provisions, assistance and specialised health care access to person with disabilities in custody who uses a wheelchair and has special health care needs arising from chronic illness, comes firmly within the meaning of “degrading, inhuman and cruel treatment in derogation of the state’s obligation under the UNCRPD.”

Pleading

■ He suffers from chronic heart ailment and post-polio paralysis

■ He is wheelchair-bound

■ He has 90 pc benchmark disability

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Akshardham attack case: Decoding the other verdict of May 16

Jun 2, 2014, 05.01AM IST TNN[ Manoj Mitta ]

The Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad was attacked by two terrorists on 24 September 2002 in which over 30 people were killed and nearly 100 were injured.
NEW DELHI: While acquitting all the six persons who had been convicted by Gujarat high court in the September 2002 Akshardham temple attack case, the Supreme Court has brought out many curious aspects of the investigations in its May 16 verdict.

It took almost a year for the police to swing into action in the Akshardham investigations. Till August 28, 2003, Gujarat’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had been, as the apex court verdict put it, “shooting in the dark for about a year without any result”. It added: “No trace of the people associated with this heinous attack on the Akshardham temple could be found by the police.”

And then, there was a dramatic change, merely because of the transfer of the case from ATS to another wing of the Gujarat police: the crime branch, which did not take even a day to crack the case.

Drama in a day

This was all thanks to a “verbal instruction” from the controversial police officer DG Vanzara, who has been in jail since 2007 in connection with a series of fake encounters allegedly conducted when he was heading ATS. It was apparently on Vanzara’s tip-off that the crime branch, within hours of being entrusted the Akshardham case on August 28, 2003, unraveled the conspiracy behind it by recording the statement of one Asfaq Bhavnagari.

The very next day, on August 29, 2003, five of the six accused persons were arrested in Gujarat. A day later, on August 30, 2003, POTA was finally applied to the shootout in which there were 33 fatal casualties, including both the fidayeens. After another day, the last accused person was arrested in Kashmir.

Yet, despite the critical role attributed to him, Vanzara was not produced as a witness during the trial. “This shrouds our minds with suspicion as to why such a vital witness — DG Vanzara, who discovered the link to the accused persons, was not examined by the special court (POTA),” the Supreme Court said.

“The courts below accepted the facts and evidence produced by the police without being suspicious about the extreme coincidences with which the chain of events unfolded itself immediately, that is, within 24 hours of the case being transferred to the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad.”

Quick confessions

The trial court and the Gujarat high court had also relied on the confessions claimed to have been made by the six accused persons. But the Supreme Court found that those confessions could not have been voluntary because of, among other reasons, the manner in which those had been recorded by a chief judicial magistrate (CJM). Though their confessions came up 11 months after the incident, the accused persons had been given no more than 15 minutes to reflect on their involvement.

Besides holding that this was not a “reasonable” amount of time in the circumstances, the Supreme Court found it “highly improbable” that the CJM could have, as claimed, recorded each statement running into more 15 pages, read it over to the accused person concerned and enquired from him about any coercion and torture, “all in a period of half an hour”. Even otherwise, the confessional statements gave “different versions of the same story, each of which contradicted the other and was actually fatal to the case of the prosecution”.

An even more improbable aspect highlighted by the Supreme Court related to the alleged recovery of incriminating letters from the trouser pockets of the blood-stained and bullet-ridden bodies of the two fidayeens. Purportedly instigating terrorism to avenge the post Godhra violence against Muslims, these hand-written notes in Urdu were claimed to have been seized by the police in the presence of Brig Raj Sitapati, who had led the commando operation of the National Security Guards (NSG). Yet, the police never bothered to record the testimony of Sitapati who was, as the Supreme Court said, “the most important witness for proving the recovery of the alleged letters”.

Fact or fiction

What made the letters-recovery story all the more implausible was the perfect condition in which they had apparently been found. Though there were bullet holes even on the trouser pockets, as verified by the Supreme Court, the letters apparently recovered from them were clean, without any tear or crease, soiling or stains of blood. The high court had admitted the letters as evidence drawing on the adage that “truth is stranger than fiction”.

The Supreme Court countered that by pointing out that this epithet of Mark Twain came with a caveat saying, “Fiction must make sense.” The implication was that the fiction generated by the Gujarat police did not make sense.

The case would not have gone to trial with such infirmities had Gujarat’s home department — a portfolio then held by Narendra Modi — denied the necessary sanction for prosecution under POTA. KC Kapoor, who was principal secretary, home, admitted that that in the material placed before him for sanction, he had not seen any papers suggesting compliance of the statutory conditions. As a corollary, the SC said that the sanction was neither “an informed decision” nor was it on the basis of “an independent analysis of fact in consultation with the investigating officer”.

The apex court added, “This would go to show clear non-application of mind by the Home Minister in granting sanction.” The stricture on Modi didn’t end with that. The Supreme Court said that there was “perversity in conducting this case at various stages, right from the investigation level to the granting of sanction by the state government”.

The judgment acquires greater significance as it was delivered on the very day Modi-led BJP won the Lok Sabha election.

Read more here – http://m.timesofindia.com/articleshow/35921790.cms

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SC acquits all six persons in 2002 Akshardham temple terror attack case #JUSTICE

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | May 16, 2014 3:01 pm

Summary

Mohd Hanif Shaikh, Abdullamiya Yasinmiya Kadri amd two others were sentenced to jail terms varying between 10 years to life imprisonment.

 

In a major setback to the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court on Friday acquitted all six persons, including two on the death row, in the 2002 Akshardham temple terror attack case.

Allowing their appeals against the conviction and sentencing, a bench comprising Justices A K Patnaik  and V Gopala Gowda held that the prosecution failed to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt and they deserved exoneration from all the charges.

The bench nixed their confessional statements being invalid in law and also said that the prosecution could not establish they participated in any conspiracy.

 

It allowed the appeals of Adambhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri and Abdul Kayum, who were given death penalty, challenging the conviction under POTA and Section 302 of Indian Penal Code.

Mohd Hanif Shaikh, Abdullamiya Yasinmiya Kadri amd two others were sentenced to jail terms varying between 10 years to life imprisonment.

The petitioners had sought to draw parallels between investigations into the alleged fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin and that of Akshardham terror attack in which both the fidayeen were killed by NSG commandos on September 25, 2002.

The appeal by the convicts said they were arrested following investigations conducted by then deputy superintendent of police D G Vanzara, who is facing trial for the fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin. It alleged that Gujarat government was “notorious for conducting investigations in a totally partial and unjust manner which was evident from another case monitored by the apex court — Sohrabuddin encounter case”.

In the Akshardham attack, two fidayeen sprayed bullets indiscriminately from their Ak-56 rifles and used hand grenades to kill 33 devotees and tourists and injured another 86 before being killed by NSG commandos on September 25, 2002.

Saying that there was no link between the two fidayeen and the appellants, the petition filed through counsel Anis Suhrawardy stated that his clients had been crying hoarse for an independent probe, especially by CBI, but neither the trial court nor the HC paid any attention to it.

The prosecution case alleges that a group of militants, allegedly belonging to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked the temple in Ahmedabad on September 24, 2002, killing 37 people and injuring several others.

The special POTA court found the appellants guilty and slapped death and other sentences on them. The High Court confirmed this order. The appellants said the investigation was faulty as the investigating officer had no jurisdiction to investigate the case.

The very foundation of fair trial contained under Article 21 of the Constitution was thrown to the winds by not even following the bare minimum requirements of natural justice, the convicts have contended. As many as 14 witnesses were examined without disclosing to the accused their identity. They sought to quash the impugned judgment and an interim stay of its operation.

Read mor ehere- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/supreme-court-acquits-all-six-persons-in-2002-akshardham-temple-terror-attack-case/

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India Supreme Court rewards Goa Iron Ore looters

Bhahujan Mukti Party is deeply outraged at the Supreme Court Judgement of April 21, 2014 allowing iron ore mining without prosecuting those responsible for the loot of the minerals. Shah Commission report submitted the Parliament of India 19 months ago has completely exposed the loot of minerals in Goa for the past two decades and named persons responsible.

Supreme Court Judgement admits that iron ore export from the year 2007 onwards has been totally illegal. Yet the Judgement does not call for booking and prosecution of those who robbed Goa’s iron ore during this period of time. Instead it allows them 20 million tonnes of ore to be exported annually. Supreme Court of India instead of punishing the robbers has instead choose to reward them. This is not a justice by any standard. Supreme Court has joined the party of the looters of Goa and its judgement is highly deplorable.

At least to the minimum Supreme Court should have directed that all those responsible for the loot since 2007 when the mining leases expired should have been sent to jail. This includes All the mining companies operating mines with no mining leases, All the responsible officials from Indian Bureau of Mines, Regional office of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Pollution Control Board of Goa State, Forest department, Forest Ministers, Mines Ministers, Chief Ministers, Central Environment Ministers etc.

Bhahujan Mukti Party holds that not a single kilo of Ore from Goa be lifted, Shipped, dug and exported till all those responsible are booked and prosecution proceeded. Only then any talk of starting of mining of Goa under strict monitoring can be entertained. Present government is totally incompetent to tackle illegal mining. Though Sand mining in Goa’s rivers is illegal it is allowed with collaboration of ministers in Goa. We can only imagine what is going to be the fate of iron ore mines in this situation.

Besides most of the political parties in Goa are funded by mining companies who looted Goa for past many decades and are opposing Political Parties to come under the purview of RTI Act for fear of getting exposed completely. Currently Goa Government is supervising corruption with regard to Sand mining all over Goa.

Sd/-
Cliffton de Souza
President,
Goa State

 

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SC refers case of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers to Constitution Bench

 

The Constitution Bench, which will take up the matter within three months, will also decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government
Adversaries Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, who Shourie fought relentlesslyPhoto: AP

New , Apr 25 (PTI): The  today referred the matter on remission of life imprisonment of seven convicts in  case to a Constitution Bench and said its interim order staying the  government’s decision to free them will continue.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the petition filed by the Centre, challenging the  government’s decision to remit the sentences, will be decided by the Constitution Bench and framed seven questions to be decided by it.

It said that the Constitution Bench, which will take up the matter within three months, will also decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government.

The court had on February 20 stayed the decision to release of three convicts–Murugan, Santhan and Arivu– whose death sentence was commuted to life term by it on February 18 in the case, saying there had been procedural lapses on the part of the state government on the decision to release them.

The apex court later on had also stayed release of convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran in the case.

The Jayalalithaa government had on February 19 decided to set free all the seven convicts in the assassination case.

Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore and they are in jail since 1991.

The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.

 

Read more here — http://www.tehelka.com%2Fsc-refers-case-of-rajiv-gandhis-killers-to-constitution-bench

 

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Supreme Court judgement on illegal mining in Goa

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Claude Alvares

 

The 111-page judgement of the Supreme Court of India in the Goa mining case was pronounced by Justice A.K. Patnaik on 21 April

 

2014 at 2.00 pm in a packed courtroom filled with blackcoats. Unfortunately, I was not in the Court room, but was informed by Prashant Bhushan later that the Court thanked the Goa Foundation and Adv. Prashant Bhushan for prosecuting the case with dedication and hard work. But those few words of praise in open court are not found in the judgement for the simple reason that the judgement itself contains most of the reliefs sought by the Goa Foundation.

 

 

 

The Court has allowed the petition in terms of the detailed directions which are already posted here by Rahul Basu. You can get the full judgement on the goafoundation website. Let me list the principal issues that have been decided and their implications:

 

 

 

a) Challenges made by the mining companies and lease-holders to the Justice Shah Commission’s report. Several mining lessees had filed petitions asking for quashing of the Justice Shah Commission Report. The Court side-steps the challenges by recording the statement of the Advocate General (Goa) that if and when they take action on the basis of the Shah Commission’s findings, they will give the affected persons/companies a fair hearing and also allow them to produce evidence in their defence. It refuses to quash the Justice Shah Commission report, however. At the same time, it says it cannot direct prosecution of the lessees on the basis of the Justice Shah Commission’s findings since they were not given a hearing. But the Court says it will use the Shah Commission’s findings nonetheless on legal and environmental issues to consider granting the reliefs sought by the Goa Foundation. It then proposes to do just that.

 

 

 

b) Challenges to the State Govt’s order suspending mining operations and the Ministry’s Order suspending Environment Clearances (ECs): Several writ petitions were filed by the lease owners challenging the suspension order dated 10.9.2012 issued by the Goa government closing down the mines. Petitions were also filed against the MOEF’s order dated 14.9.2012 suspending all ECs for mining leases in the state of Goa. The Court has rejected both challenges. In other words, the order of the Goa government closing down mining in Goa has been found to be correct and proper in the context of the Court having found that all mining leases expired on 21.11.2007.

 

 

 

c) Large-scale Illegal Mining in Goa: GF had urged that the leases had expired in 2007 and should therefore be cancelled and all mining after that date was illegal. This was our main challenge. The Court has agreed with the petitioner that the validity of the leases has expired by 21.11.2007. By one fell stroke, the entire mining industry finds itself without even a fig leaf of legality. All mining operations from 21.11.2007 are declared illegal. Where does the position of those who pleaded for the re-start of “legal” mining as opposed to “illegal mining” now stand after this declaration? That debate has now ended squarely in favour of the petitioner’s contentions. This was the main prayer in the petition filed by the Foundation: cancel all the leases because of illegalities. The Court agrees. The petition is allowed. Implications are vast and not just for Goa. The provision of deemed extension cannot be used, says the Court, in the case of second renewals. This will apply in other states as well, since the Court has decisively interpreted the central Act, the Mines & Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, notably section 8 (3) governing the grant and renewal of leases. 20 pages of the judgement (pp.16-35) are solely on this significant interpretation of the law.

 

 

 

Since all leases are declared invalid from 21.11.2007, all previous environment clearances now go out of the window. Obviously all the ECs were granted to leases that are no longer valid after 2007. They cannot subsist. Any fresh grant of lease or renewal of lease will have to go through the EC process all over again. In para 61 of the judgement, there is reference to a set of directions issued by the Court to the MOEF to set up an independent regulator who will ensure that ECs are issued by MOEF on proper scientific and environmental considerations. The Court has removed the EIA assessment power of the Ministry since it was being subjected to political misuse. The Court had directed that the independent regulator be set up by the MOEF by the 31st of March. All future EIAs and ECs will therefore have to go through the regulator who will be independent of the Ministry. So ECs are not going to be that easy to get in future. Further, while granting EC, the authorities will have to consider anew the quantity of ore permissible to each lease, such that it is within the overall limits (20 million tonnes) prescribed for the State in the judgement. Leases in forest areas simply cannot be granted without prior clearance under the FCA, 1980 even if the lessees do not intend to interfere with the forest portions of the lease. And so on.

 

 

 

So, while the stay on mining in Goa imposed by the Supreme Court Court is vacated upto 20 million tons, mining cannot start because there are no people with valid leases! New leases have to be granted. They have to get ECs. How much time will all this take? Your guess is as good as mine!

 

 

 

The declaration that the mining was illegal from 2007 leaves the door open for proceedings for recovery of some Rs.30,000 crores from the lease-holders since the ore was illegally mined. (This works out to pproximately Rs.2 lakh per person in Goa, three times the state’s budget, three times the state’s debt.) This the state of Goa must now recover. It can attach Sesa Ghor and Cidade de Goa and other real estate from the mining companies to recover the money. Besides the Rs.30,000 crores from illegal mining over five years, it also has to recover Rs.35,000 crores as per the Shah Commission’s findings (mining outside lease areas).

 

 

 

In the meanwhile, the State of Goa is already getting the sales proceeds from the disposal of inventories of 15 million tonnes which are in the midst of e-auction. This will be worth Rs.4,500 crores. This is another gift from the Goa Foundation, together with the Rs.30,000 crores and the Rs.35,000 (from Justice Shah). We are talking of some Rs.70,000 crore worth of illegal mining, which is 16 years revenue of the Goa government! And there are still people who want to abuse the role and work of the Goa Foundation. Well, you can’t please all the people all the time.

 

 

 

d) Mine Dumps outside the Lease area: The next question the Court answers is whether the practice of dumping rejects and mine wastes outside leases is legal and whether there are any provisions of law that legitimise it. The Goa Foundation pointed out to some 2796 ha encroachment by mining dumps outside leases as documented by the Justice Shah Commission. The mining companies had urged that as long as the dumps were on lands owned by them or for use of which they had made arrangements with the owners, there was no violation of law. The Court disagrees with their submissions.

 

 

 

The Court holds with the Goa Foundation and supports the Justice Shah Commission’s point of view. It reiterates its view taken in the Karnataka Bellary Iron Ore Mining petition. It holds all dumping outside the lease as illegal. It holds that any removal of material from dumps would need environment clearance. That settles the issue of mining from dumps. No longer will lessees be able to create huge mining dumps outside the leased areas. All work in connection with mining, i.e., pits, ore stacks, overburdens and rejects will all have to be conducted within the boundaries of the lease. In other words, the operating area has been severely and strictly limited to the boundaries of the lease and mine lessees can no longer encroach on open areas in Goa, even if they have the money to buy people or private land. This declaration will eventually facilitate rehabilitation of the mine as well, since excavation of new pits may not be possible unless the stacked material is removed and the earlier pits filled up.

 

 

 

e) Buffer zone and Ecologically Sensitive Areas outside the boundaries of wildlife sanctuaries. The Court observes that in its order dated 4.8.2008 (in the Godavarman case), it had imposed a one km ban on mining as an interim measure. That ban stands for the present. However, as regards prohibition of mining within 10 km buffer zone around wildlife sanctuaries, the Court records that this issue has not been finally decided by the Court and hence there is no ban on mining outside one km but within 10 km of wildlife sanctuaries..

 

 

 

While noting the Goa Govt’s submission that Goa is a small state, bounded on one side by the Western Ghats and wildlife sanctuaries, lush forests, CRZ limitations and agricultural lands declared as ecozones, the Court also records the stand of the MoEF that the Goa government position on zero buffer is rejected. Stating that the procedure laid down under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 will have to be followed for any restrictions beyond 1 km, the Court directs the MOEF to complete the process of notification of the buffer zone in the space of 6 months. (Those notifications have since appeared in the Central gazette and last date for filing of objections/suggestions is the first week of May, 2014).

 

 

 

f) Violations of Specific Provisions of the Mines Act: The next major issue the Court examines is the charge made by petitioners – and supported strongly by the Central Empowered Committee –that there has been large scale violation of Rule 37 of the Mineral Concession Rules. This provision prohibits mining being done on any lease by any person who is not the owner of the lease without the prior permission of the Govt. The Fomentos, Timblos and Sesa Goa made their fortunes mining other people’s leases in addition to their own. The Court has said action must be taken by the Government on this. Action provided in the Mineral Concession Rules is cancellation of the lease which has been wrongly occupied and mined.

 

 

 

Similarly, petitioner had pointed out to violation of Rule 38 of MCR (highlighted by the Justice Shah Commission as well), that several leases adjoining each other were being mined jointly, without the benefit of an amalgamation order. Such violations were explained away by the State Govt as not being of serious consequence since the State has powers to grant transfers of lease or amalgamation of leases. However, the court has taken serious note of such transgressions and of the casual way in which mining law was operating in the State and it has directed action on this ground as well.

 

 

 

g) Production and Transportation of Minerals: The Court agrees with the CEC that there was a complete lack of control on production and transportation of minerals from the mining leases in the State of Goa. However, it notes that the Goa government has brought in stricter regulations to prevent illegal mining and transportation and it hopes these will deal with the problem in future.

 

 

 

h) Environmental Damage to the State from Mining: What of the large scale environmental damage from reckless mining which has been elaborately documented through photographs and report by the petitioner? The Court refers to its Expert Committee and extracts several damaging paragraphs on the negative impacts of mining in the state from the committee’s report. It accepts the opinion of the Expert Committee that for the present a cap of 20 million tonnes may be set, subject to its final report which will take a year to complete. It agrees with the Expert Committee that even this 20 million tonnes must be removed with proper precaution. It also includes the question of how the dumps are to be handled in the terms of reference of the Expert Committee. It castigates, in this connection, the abysmal conduct of the State Pollution Control Board which permitted mining lessees to violate the Air and Water Acts with impunity and never took action to implement and enforce the law. It said the Board will now take action including closure of the leases if they are found to be creating pollution beyond the norms in force.

 

 

 

i)        Intergenerational equity: The Court accepts the submissions of the petitioner that provision must be made for the future generations from the sale of its present ore assets. It agrees with the proposal of the Expert Committee (which itself was based on presentations made by the Goa Foundation before the Expert Committee) that to provide for the need and welfare of future generations of people in Goa, some portion of the earnings from sale of mineral ore should be set aside in perpetuity in the form of a Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund. The Court has directed setting up of the Fund and said 10% of the sale price from iron ore sales will go to the Fund. So, for example, if there is a sale of Rs.10,000 crores in a year, Rs.1,000 crores of that will have to go into the Permanent Fund (in addition to royalty payments). The State Government in consultation with the CEC will submit a report to the Court in six months on the modalities of the Permanent Fund. We have suggested that Government could use the interest from the money deposited in the Permanent Fund, after adjusting for inflation. This proposal, together with the cancellation of the existing leases, is a significant advance. Civil society members in other states of India are bound to demand setting up of such Permanent Funds in their states for their coming generations. This is the landmark nature of Justice Patnaik’s (and his brother judges, S.S. Nijjar and Fakkir M.I. Kalifulla’s) judgement. They will be remembered for all time for this signal direction alone. (Both Justices Patnaik and Nijjar retire in the first week of June.)

 

 

 

j) Auction of Leases: The Goa Foundation had sought a direction to the Goa government not to allow any leases or renew any leases except through the process of public auction. Iron ore, like spectrum, is a scarce natural resource. Its alienation or depletion must get the State the best possible price. (Please note all leases were granted practically free by the Portuguese government. In fact, when the concessions were converted into leases by the 1987 Act, concession holders were compensated in cash amounts for the action.) The Court has chosen not to issue such a direction as it is for the Govt to decide on the best way to raise revenues from the sale of natural resources. However, it has rather ominously laid down that should the procedures for grant or renewal of leases not be fair or transparent, or in consonance with constitutional requirements, the Court can, on being petitioned, review such renewals.

 

 

 

On balance, what has the Goa Foundation got on its petition? Almost all the reliefs it sought, except for criminal prosecution on the basis of Justice Shah Commission Report, restraining the Goa government from granting renewals without auction and a restriction on mining within 10 km of wildlife sanctuaries. What has the Government of Goa got? A permission to mine upto 20 million tonnes with strict implementation of the provisions of the mining law and the various environment protection Acts. However, since the leases are all cancelled, mining cannot start in the near future. If the government, under the inducements of mining companies, grants renewals as it did in the past, these will be subject to legitimate judicial review.

 

 

 

The judgement has settled legal issues, as a Court is expected to do. However, the petition is not finally disposed of. It will come back on board once the three reports called for are filed in the Court: 1) The final report on the cap on production. The present figure of 20 million is temporary. It could go up or down, depending on the one year long study approved now by the Court; 2) The report on the auction of 15 million tonnes; and 3) The report on the Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund and its set up, to be done by the Goa government in consultation with the CEC.

 

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Supreme Court to probe illegal mining in Odisha

Date:Apr 23, 2014

Hearing on plea to stay illegal mining to be taken up next Monday. Petitioners argue that the illegally recovered wealth from the miners should be utilised for the development of the backward mining districts in Odisha

miningEstimated at over Rs 59,203 crore, the mining scam in Odisha surpassed that in Goa and Karnataka

On the day it pronounced its verdict on illegal mining in Goa, the Supreme Court decided to look into illegal mining in Odisha as well. On Monday, the apex court issued notices to the Centre and Odisha government on a public interest petition seeking probe into illegal mining in Odisha.

The petition, filed by non-profit Common Cause has sought immediate judicial intervention in the matter, saying the Justice M B Shah commission report has pointed to large-scale illegal mining in the state. The commission was set up by the Union Ministry of Mines (MoM) in 2010 to look into illegal mining of iron ore and manganese in the country. In its first report on Odisha, submitted to the Centre in October last year, the commission said the state has incurred losses to the tune of Rs 59,203 crore because of rampant illegal extraction, sale and export of iron ore.

Odisha, a mineral rich state of India, accounts for 7 per cent of India’s forests and 11 per cent of its surface water resources; it also holds 24 per cent of India’s coal, 38 per cent of iron ore, 98 per cent of its chromite and 51 per cent of its bauxite.  

But for all its mineral wealth, the state performs poorly in terms of human development indicators, points out a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 2008. The state has a human development index (HDI) of 0.362–one of the lowest in the country (national average HDI is 0.467). The CSE report, Rich Lands, Poor People, says, “Odisha’s  per capita income has actually declined during the second half of the 1990s—precisely the period when the state went on an industrial overdrive.”

All the mineral-rich districts of the state feature in the list of 150 most backward districts of the country, says the report. In Keonjhar, the most mined district in the state, 62 per cent of the population lives below poverty line. In Koraput, the bauxite capital of India, 79 per cent live below poverty line. “Statistics indicate that the income from mineral extraction rarely benefits the regions from where these minerals come—in fact, poverty is increasing in many of these districts,” says the report. The petitioners have brought this skewed development in the state to the court‘s notice.

Citing the Commission’s report and the CSE report, among others,  the petitioner has sought directions to “stop forthwith” all illegal mining in Odisha, and terminate all leases of firms that are involved in illegal mining and distribute the illegally recovered wealth from the miners for development of the backward mining districts in Odisha.

The petitioners have also sought directions to the state to conduct a macro environment impact assessment (EIA) study and demarcate the ecologically sensitive areas in the state where no mining would be allowed. They have also asked the court to suggest a cap on production of ores of iron, manganese, bauxite and other sought after minerals, keeping in view the principles of environmental sustainability and inter-generational equity.

Besides, they have also sought a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team or CBI into illegal mining in the state.

Pradap Sachdev, counsel for the petitioner, remains hopeful that action has been initiated to look into illegal mining activities that have been going on in the state for a while.

The matter will be taken up by the apex court on April 28 next.

 

Read mor ehere — http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/supreme-court-probe-illegal-mining-odisha

 

 

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SC – Court has become a haven for rich people

India TV news desk [ Updated 01 Apr 2014, 11:00:56 ]
Court has become a haven for rich people: Supreme Court
  

New DelhiA Supreme Court judge expressed grave concern and blasted the trend of rich and influential seeking and getting early hearing of their petitions while the poor wait endlessly.

Justice B.S. Chauhan made it clear that the court does not approve of such conduct and wants to change things.

Chauhan was speaking to the lawyer of Thankam Rajan, who had sought an urgent hearing of her appeal against the National Thermal Power Corporation regarding a high court order.

This is not the first time that Chauhan has raked up the issue.

On August 12 last year, while dismissing the anticipatory bail plea of IPS officer P.P. Pandey, accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, he had said: “We are sorry to say that the court’s time is being used by senior advocates and big criminals. You come here for the sixth or eighth time for anticipatory bail and we should hear as if we are a trial court. This is just not done.”

Another judge had touched upon the issue on September 12 last year, while dismissing the plea of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, serving a 10-year jail term in a teachers’ recruitment scam, for extending his interim bail.

There are currently 65,893 cases pending in the Supreme Court.

 

Read more here – http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/court-has-become-a-haven-for-rich-people-supreme-court–35016.html

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SC – Commute Bhullar’s death penalty to life term #deathpenalty

Press Trust of India | New Delhi | March 27, 2014 5:00 pm
The bench had on January 31 stayed Bhullar's execution and had agreed to review its judgement.The bench had on January 31 stayed Bhullar’s execution and had agreed to review its judgement.

SUMMARY

Bhullar was convicted and awarded death penalty for the September 1993, bomb blast in Delhi, which killed nine people and injured 25 others.
M_Id_375547_Bhullar

The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it has “no problem” with commutation of death sentence of Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar to life term and the petition in this regard has to be allowed in view of the court’s verdict that delay in deciding mercy pleas can be a ground for such relief.

“This is a case which has to be allowed because the mercy petition of the convict was decided after a delay of eight years,” Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam which said that a short order will be pronounced on March 31.

The Attorney General also said that he was making the submissions to this effect as the Centre’s petition challenging the January 21 judgement, in which it was held that inordinate delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence, has been dismissed.

“So we have to follow the January 21 judgement and we have no problem,” Vahanvati said.

He said there was no need to go into the merits of the curative petition filed by Bhullar wife Navneet Kaur.

At the outset, the bench, also comprising justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya, wanted to know about the health condition of Bhullar and perused the February 8 medical report of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).

The bench had on January 31 stayed Bhullar’s execution and had agreed to review its judgement by which it had rejected the 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict’s plea to commute his death sentence to life term.

It had issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on a curative petition and had also directed IHBAS, where Bhullar is being treated, to file a medical report on the condition of the death row convict who is alleged to be suffering from mental illness.

The plea of Bhullar’s wife for commutation of death sentence assumes significance in view of the apex court’s January 21 verdict holding that inordinate and inexplicable delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence.

Bhullar’s wife has filed the petition against the apex court verdict which rejected her plea to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment on grounds of delay on the part of the government in deciding his mercy plea.

He was convicted and awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September 1993, which killed nine persons and injured 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M S Bitta.

The apex court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

He had filed a review petition which was also dismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar had then moved a curative petition which too had been rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.

Bhullar, meanwhile, had filed a mercy petition before the President on January 14, 2003.

The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed his mercy plea on May 14, 2011. Citing the delay, he had again moved the apex court for commutation of the death sentence but his plea was rejected.

The apex court on January 21 had held inordinate delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence and had granted life to 15 condemned prisoners including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan.

In the landmark judgement, the court had held that prolonging execution of death sentence has a “dehumanising effect” on condemned prisoners who have to face the “agony” of waiting for years under the shadow of death during the pendency of their mercy plea.

Read more here – http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/commute-bhullars-death-penalty-to-life-term-centre-to-sc/99/

 

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Indian Americans term death threats to Advocate Paracha ‘unacceptable’

 
Submitted by TwoCircles.net on 22 March 2014 – 7:55pm

By TCN News,

New Delhi: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com ), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, condemned the threats to senior lawyer Mr. Mehmood Paracha by “vested interests operating through underworld goons.”

IAMC has demanded the state administration nab the culprits and take immediate measures for the safety and security of the senior lawyer. Advocate Paracha is representing German bakery bomb blast case convict Mirza Himayat Baig.

Besides fighting to prove Himayat Baig’s innocence, Mr. Paracha has been fighting many terror related cases of Muslim youth across the country. Mr. Paracha reported he is getting threatening messages from the underworld don Ravi Pujari since his recent interview appeared on the TCN site. In the exclusive interview to online news portal TwoCircles.Net (TCN – www.twocircles.net) Advocate Paracha, had courted controversy by demanding that that the current Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria be “arrested as a terrorist” and tried under anti-terror laws.

The senior lawyer had stated, “The fact remains that three investigating agencies (NIA, Delhi Police’ Special Cell and Central Crime Branch, Bangalore), my own understanding of the case, the charge sheet and the subsequent events, all point to one fact that the Maharashtra ATS led by Mr. Rakesh Maria was responsible in not only falsely implicating Himayat Baig, but also in the process actively saving the real terrorists,” adding, “the police officers involved, including Mr Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related. He has committed offense prima facie which are terror cases and he should be arrested as a terrorist.”

Mr. Paracha’s case is following the same pattern as the case of late Advocate Shahid Azmi, who was killed in broad daylight in his office by vested interests inimical to the rule of law. “The fact that there are threats to the life of the senior advocate demonstrates how the rule of law is disregarded with impunity when those struggling for justice start to take on the mighty and powerful,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC.

IAMC also condemned the Mumbai police department’s attempt to intimidate the online news portal TCN by demanding the removal of Mr. Paracha’s interview wherein he made the bold and stunning revelation about the dubious role of Police Commissioner and former Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria in terror related cases. “The Mumbai Police’s demand that the online portal withdraw the interview with Mr. Paracha is an unacceptable attack on the freedom of the press. It strikes at the very roots of our existence as a democracy where the state security apparatus is supposed to operate under the law and help uphold it, ” added Mr. Khan.

IAMC has called on the media, civil society institutions, legal fraternity and people of conscience, to strongly resist attempts by the Mumbai Police to infringe on the due process of law and on the freedom of media institutions.

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim CouncilUSA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 15 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at: http://www.iamc.com

 

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