Menu Close

News Highlights 2nd June 2018

  1. Delhi HC questions the scientific basis of the death penalty for child rape

The court issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and sought their stand on the issue in four weeks. It listed the matter for further hearing on July 31.

The Delhi High Court Friday questioned the Centre’s move to approve an Ordinance that allows courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years and asked if any scientific assessment was conducted before it was approved.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the Centre whether they had conducted a study in comparison to foreign laws to ascertain if “death penalty will be deterrent to rape accused”.

Replying to the query, Singh said the government has come to the conclusion after voluminous research. He said, “in India, the highest number of cases were related to child rape”.

The court issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and sought their stand on the issue in four weeks. It listed the matter for further hearing on July 31.

Earlier, the court had asked if the Ordinance, was the “effect of the public outcry”.

ORDINANCE

The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, was approved soon after a public outrage over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu, and allegations of rape against a BJP MLA in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.

OBJECT OF ORDINANCE

The Ordinance, which allows the imposition of death penalty for a child rapist under 12 and prescribes a minimum of 20 years for rape of a girl below 16. It has been promulgated by

TWO PILs FILED

The High Court’s made the oral observation while hearing two separate PILs filed by the Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar and the ApneAap Women Worldwide’s plea challenging the Ordinance.

Advocate Charu Wali Khanna, appearing for Social Action Forum, sought the court’s direction to constitute a committee, headed by member NHRC, to come out with preventive measures to control the incidents of rapes, especially of minor girls, based on scientific principles.

Advocate Kirti Singh, appearing for ApneAap, submitted the Ordinance was passed as a knee-jerk reaction following the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and has been drafted in a confused, hasty manner

  1. Terror funding case: Delhi HC orders advancement of bail hearing of accused

The bail application of the accused was transferred to another court two days before the day marked for its disposal.

The Delhi High Court has ordered the District and Sessions Judge (DSJ), Patiala House Court, to advance the bail hearing of an accused in a terror funding case registered by the NIA. The bail application of the accused was transferred to another court two days before the day marked for its disposal.

The High Court directed to “proceed and hear” the bail application “expeditiously” and, if possible, on the day-to-day basis and pass appropriate orders “preferably” by the end of June.

BRIEF FACTS

Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali’s bail plea was reserved for May 26 by an additional NIA court of Tarun Sehrawat, but after an administrative order, the case was transferred back to the designated NIA court of DSJ Poonam Bamba. This meant that the arguments on bail would be heard again. After the transfer of the case, DSJ Bamba marked July 17 for hearing the bail application. Meanwhile, a plea was filed by the counsel of the accused in the High Court. The plea sought directions stating that the previous judge, who heard the bail application, ought to dispose of the application as all submissions had been practically concluded.

HELD

After hearing the arguments, the High Court stated that it felt that to subject the parties to a “de novo”— new — hearing would be to act “unjustly”.

  1. Bangladesh agrees to take back 53 nationals lodged in Assam jails

In January last year, 17 Bangladeshi nationals, who were detained at Silchar Central Jail, were repatriated to Bangladesh through the international border in Karimganj.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION TAKEN BY BANGLADESH TO IMPROVE IT’S RELATIONS WITH INDIA

Bangladesh has agreed to take back its 53 nationals lodged in various jails in Assam, in a positive move towards improved diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and India, officials confirmed on Thursday. In January last year, 17 Bangladeshi nationals, who were detained at Silchar Central Jail, were repatriated to Bangladesh through the international border in Karimganj.

Assam has witnessed a series of protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016

The Bill essentially proposes to make minority (non-Muslim) illegal immigrants from three neighboring countries — Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — eligible for Indian citizenship. The state is also updating its National Register of Citizens (NRC) to identify illegal immigrants in Assam.

LS Changsan, Principal Secretary, home, and political department, told “These are convicted Bangladeshi nationals — convicted of committing some offenses or violation of Passport (Entry into India) Act. They have completed their sentence in the jail and now their nationality verification has been done and accepted by Bangladesh. Bangladesh has given them travel permits.”

Changsan added the date of their journey was being worked out. “Bangladesh has a problem with people who have been declared as Bangladeshis by our Foreigner Tribunals. These people (who would be taken back by Bangladesh) are the ones who have been convicted by the judicial courts,” she said.

Changsan explained that there is a difference between Bangladeshi citizens convicted by judicial courts in India and those convicted by the Foreigners Tribunal — detected and declared as a “foreign national” and “illegal migrant”.

Pallav Bhattacharyya, Special DGP (Special Branch), that we should take these kinds of initiatives often to strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries. “We should take all opportunities to settle our issues,” he said.

 

  1. Kerala HC upholds teen couple’s live-in relationship, says it is ‘unfettered right’

The high court bench dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by the father of the girl, from Kerala’s Alappuzha, seeking direction to the police to produce his daughter from the “illegal” custody of her live-in partner.

 

The Kerala High Court Friday declined to separate a teenage live-in couple — 18-year-old boy and a 19-year-old girl — saying that the court was bound to respect the “unfettered right of a major to have a live-in relationship even though the same may not be palatable to the orthodox section of the society”.

BRIEF FACTS

The high court bench dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by the father of the girl, from Kerala’s Alappuzha, seeking direction to the police to produce his daughter from the “illegal” custody of her live-in partner.

The girl’s father had contended that the boy was just 18, three years short of 21 years, and hence a child as defined under Section 2(a) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

CONTENTIONS OF GIRL’S FATHER

In the petition, he said there could be no valid marriage between his daughter and her lover, and a child born out of such a relationship would be called “illegitimate before the law”.

TWO MAJOR OBSERVATIONS OF THE COURT

However, the high court observed that both teenagers were in a live-in relationship and were practically living as husband and wife, though not wedded legally. It said, both the teenagers had submitted before that court that they are “intensely in love with each other since school”.

Noting the girl was living with her friend “out of her own volition and she being a major has a right to live wherever she wants to or move as per her choice”, the court dismissed the father’s plea. “We cannot close our eyes to the fact that live-in relationship has become rampant in our society and such living partners cannot be separated by the issue of a write of habeas corpus provided they are major. The constitutional court is bound to respect the unfettered right of a major to have the live-in relationship even though the same may not be palatable to the orthodox section of the society,” the court said.

HELD

The Supreme Court had recently held that an adult couple has a right to live together without marriage while asserting that a 20-year-old Kerala woman, whose marriage had been annulled, could choose whom she wanted to live with.

  1. Dawood aide & key accused in 1993 Mumbai blasts held

Gujarat ATS arrests Ahmed Shaikh from Valsad; CBI had issued a lookout notice and Rs 5 lakh over his head; Interpol had issued a red corner notice against him

BRIEF FACTS

The Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested an assistant of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and a key accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts late on Thursday night, an official said on Friday. Ahmed Shaikh, 52, a resident of Mumbai, was arrested from Pardi in Gujarat’s Valsad district.

STEPS TAKEN BY GUJARAT ATS

Acting on a tip-off, Gujarat ATS officials maintained a watch in the coastal area on Thursday night and subsequently arrested Shaikh. After verifying his identity, ATS officials took Shaikh to Ahmedabad. Shaikh, who had a red corner notice issued against him, will be handed over to the CBI in Mumbai as he was wanted by them.

ACCUSATIONS ON SHAIKH

Shaikh is accused of being part of a meeting organized by Dawood at his bungalow — White House in Dubai — to hatch a conspiracy to carry out a series of bomb blasts in 1993 in Mumbai. Along with Shaikh, a few others, identified as Salim Kutta, Yusuf Batka, Shoeb Baba, Saiyed Qureshi and Abubakar, were also present in the meeting at Dawood’s house, officials said. The officers also claimed that Shaikh underwent arms training in Pakistan and also learned how to plant the bomb in the vehicles at the behest of Dawood. The ATS has accused Shaikh of being part of the landing of ammunition, including AK 56, ignition device and RDX at Dighi jetty in Raigad district of Maharashtra. He is also accused of dispatching arms and ammunition to different people at different places.

LOOKOUT NOTICE ISSUED BY CBI

The CBI had issued a lookout notice against Shaikh and the Interpol had issued a red corner notice against him. The CBI had announced Rs 5 lakh for any information or clue regarding Shaikh. Gujarat ATS SP Himanshu Shukla said, “Our local informer had given us a tip-off, following which our team caught Shaikh from Valsad. We have intimated the CBI Mumbai about him and they will arrest him after a couple of hours. Shaikh was staying in Dubai after the blasts. His wife and children live in Mumbai.”

ATS sources said that Shaikh also possesses two passports for traveling abroad. Before coming in contact with Dawood, Shaikh worked with Mustufa Majnu alias Mustafa Dossa, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 blasts by the TADA court in Mumbai after being extradited from UAE. Dossa died in June 2017 of chest infection while serving his term. The series of the bomb blast in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, had killed over 257 people, injured 713 people and caused damage to property worth crores of rupees.

  1. Can’t invoke Section 188 for not following Model Code, says the court

The observation came while an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) acquitted a Congress candidate, made an accused under IPC Section 188 for undertaking a political rally on November 29, 2013, in Moti Nagar.

ISSUE

Can a person be prosecuted under IPC Section 188 — disobedience to order duly promulgated by the public servant — for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) of the Election Commission of India?

COURT’S DECISION

No, a Delhi court has said. The court said the MCC is a document meant only for “guidance” of political parties and candidates, and by no “stretch of the imagination” can it be considered an order contemplated under IPC section 188.

BRIEF FACTS

The situation arose when an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) acquitted a Congress candidate, made an accused under IPC Section 188 for undertaking a political rally on November 29, 2013, in Moti Nagar. During the trial, the prosecution said the candidate was prosecuted for violating clause 3 of the MCC since he took out the procession without taking police “permission”.

According to court records, accused Sushil Kumar Gupta said he was doing door-to-door canvassing in his constituency, and not taking out a rally. The magistrate asked him to stop and disperse, but he went ahead. He also claimed he had informed police orally.

ACQUITTAL ORDER

In its acquittal order, the court said many MCC provisions are not legally enforceable and “apparently” have no statutory backing. “It is the political parties who have themselves consented to abide by principles embodied in the said code and therefore it binds them to respect and observe it in letter and spirit… The constitutional obligation cast upon the Election Commission is to ensure its compliance in letter and spirit, and that its violation does not go unnoticed, unattended or unpunished (in case if the alleged violations have a statutory backing),” the court said.

ACMM Samar Vishal said that on the EC website, he did not find IPC Section 188 mentioned. On the merits of the case, the court said that as mandated by MCC, a candidate contesting polls has to intimate about the procession to local police.

HELD

The judge said the foundation of the case itself was not correct. “The accused was not required to take permission from local police to carry on with his padayatra/procession, and only has to give intimation….”

It further said that to attract the offense under Section 188 of the IPC, the disobedience must cause or have a tendency to obstruct, annoy or injure.

In the present case, there is no such allegation… Mere mental annoyance of authorities is not intended to be included in the section… Therefore, given the facts and circumstances of the case, the accused cannot be convicted…,” the court said.

  1. High Court takes note of lonely hippo kept at touring circus

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued a notice to the Union Environment Ministry, Animal Welfare Board of India, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the Delhi government, seeking their stand on a plea by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Keeping an eight-year-old male hippopotamus illegally at the ‘Asiad Circus’ here — far from its family at Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park in Bihar came under the scanner of the Delhi High Court on Friday, which sought to know from authorities why the animal had been forced to live a solitary life inside the circus.

NOTICE ISSUED TO MINISTRY

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued a notice to the Union Environment Ministry, Animal Welfare Board of India, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the Delhi government, seeking their stand on a plea by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

PETA had moved the court seeking direction to seize the male hippo and transfer it back to Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park.

CONTENTIONS OF PETA

Senior advocate Mohit Mathur and counsel Aditya Singla, appearing for PETA, submitted in court that the hippo was transported on February 2, 2015, by the circus in an apparent violation of the guidelines on exchange or transfer of animals issued by the CZA. The court said the issue requires consideration, and directed authorities to respond by September 5.

CONTENTIONS OF GOVERNMENT

Central government counsel Brajesh Kumar said he would respond, and informed that the hippo is currently at Dwarka in west Delhi, where the management of Asiad Circus is presently performing.

MAIN ASSERTIONS MADE IN THE PETITION

The petition sought direction to extend the role of the Environment Ministry to frame rules to be followed while dealing with exotic wild animals, including their exchange, transfer, acquisition, and use.

It said the animal was born in a zoo and was living with its parents, and that it was “cruel to separate” it from the family for a “lonely life”.

The plea highlighted that the Asiad Circus has no requisite certificates to house hippos. PETA also claimed to have conducted an investigation and found that animals were being exhibited and trained for performances.

“The circus was treating animals cruelly and was apparently violating animal protection laws. The investigation report further revealed that the lone male hippo with Asiad Circus was confined in an enclosure,” the plea said.

“The lone hippo is being forced to live a solitary life… which is in clear violation of CZA guidelines, which provide for 1:1 ratio for the number of hippopotamus of the opposite sex to be housed as a minimum requirement…,” it said.

  1. Missing peace negotiator: SC seeks response of Centre, Assam, Meghalaya

Kaushik said his father, a former footballer, and businessman was appointed as a member of the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) formed by ULFA in 2005 to mediate with the Centre.

THE SUPREME Court Friday issued notices to the Centre and the governments of Assam and Meghalaya on a habeas corpus plea.

ISSUE

The disappearance of Rebati Phukan, who had been working as a “peace negotiator” between the Centre and separatist outfit United Liberation Front of Assam.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and M Shantanagoudar gave two weeks’ time to the governments to file their replies.

QUESTIONS PUT BY THE BENCH

The bench initially asked petitioner Kaushik Phukan — son of Rebati Phukan — why he did not approach the Guwahati High Court first as the Assam police were seized of the matter. The court also pointed out that the petitioner himself had stated that the state chief minister had assured all assistance.

“You have the support of the CM then what is stopping you from approaching the high court? Why did you come to Delhi all the way from the northeast?” the bench asked.

Appearing for Kaushik, senior advocate Geeta Luthra said there was no progress and also that two states and various central agencies were involved in the matter. The petition sought direction to authorities, including Assam government, to produce Rebati Phukan before the court.

The petitioner claimed his father had been missing since April 22 and cited news reports which quoted ULFA chief Paresh Baruah as saying that Rebati was negotiating a fresh proposal for Baruah’s faction with the Centre and that he “might be in the custody of the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Military Intelligence or National Investigating Agency as they have a rivalry amongst them”.

Kaushik said his father, a former footballer, and businessman was appointed as a member of the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) formed by ULFA in 2005 to mediate with the Centre.

Since 1990, he had been “working to facilitate peace dialogue between the Government of India and ULFA”, he submitted and claimed that in 1997, Rebati “played a major role in getting Anup Chetia, general secretary, ULFA, to India from Bangladesh.”

  1. North Korea official meets Trump in rare White House visit, carries letter

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) – A senior North Korean official met U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday at the White House to hand him a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the two countries try to put a derailed summit back on track.

10.  RBI circular on stressed assets: Allahabad HC relief to power sector firms

No action till FinMin meets stakeholders to see if issues could be resolved

The Allahabad High Court has given a reprieve to a clutch of power projects under financial stress and facing the threat of being pushed into insolvency proceedings by ordering that no action be taken in their cases under the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) February 12 circular mandating early detection and resolution of stressed assets till the finance ministry called a meeting of relevant stakeholders in June to see if the issues could be resolved.

The court’s ruling on Thursday, though applicable to only the petitioners under the banner of Independent Power Producers’ Association of India, is likely to be welcomed by banks who have been unhappy over the circular curtailing their freedom in dealing with stressed assets in various sectors.

While the HC hasn’t set aside the RBI’s circular — it hasn’t even stayed it — its directive could spur demand for similar relief from stressed companies in other sectors, especially steel, and could even lead to an unraveling of the strict regime put in place by the central bank, analysts warned.

The court asked the Finance Secretary to hold the meeting with his counterparts in the power, petroleum and coal ministries as well as the representatives of the RBI and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India. “We will soon convene the meeting, given the urgency of the matter, and take the power ministry on board as well for a comprehensive appreciation of the issues plaguing the sector,” a senior government official said.

The power ministry has been vocal against the RBI circular’s “impracticality” and a parliamentary panel too had concurred with it, saying, many power plants were “currently under SMA-1/2 stage or on the brink of becoming NPAs (non-performing assets)” due to “unforeseen circumstances” that hit their cash flows, credit rating, etc.

The RBI’s circular requires banks to finalize a resolution plan in case of a default on large accounts of Rs 2,000 crore and above within 180 days (irrespective of sectors), failing which insolvency proceedings will have to be invoked against the defaulter. Since the deadline for the resolution of the first set of such cases is end-August, power producers have been seeking urgent relief.

NPAs in the power generation sector has more than doubled to around Rs 70,000 crore from Rs 34,244 crore a year ago. About 10,000 MW power generation assets with debts of over Rs 34,600 crore are now before National Company Law Tribunal, constituting 18 percent of the sector’s exposure to lenders. Out of these assets, 8,800 MW (debt of Rs 24,000 crore) are in early stages of construction with major milestones yet to be achieved. Some large power generation projects in the NCLT belong to companies such as Lanco, Monnet Power, East Coast Energy and Essar Power.

The power producers had approached the HC for relief, arguing that the stress in the sector is often caused by factors beyond their control.

The central bank last month justified its move on default rule, saying it is aimed at stoking behavioral change at banks.

Total loans by banks to the power sector stood at Rs 5.18 lakh crore as on April 27, 2018. Power sector loans of as much as $38 billion (around Rs 2.5 lakh crore) have the potential of being written off as bad loans,

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said in a report in April. The overall gross NPAs of all banks touched Rs 8.41 lakh crore by December 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *