Courts, Judges, Lawyers and Litigants:Madras


Courts, Judges, Lawyers

Advocates of the Madras high court who have struck work for the Sri Lankan cause and as a result only worked nine days so far this year.

Till February 18, when they promised to come back to work, advocates had not put in a single day’s work this month.  With the court scheduled to work 210 days this year, that’s a lot of non-working days to compensate for.

The high court is already reeling under a backlog of over 4.5 lakh cases.  That is 43,000 cases more than what was pending when 2007 began. By the end of 2007, the number of pending cases was 4,28,832.

It’s just been piling up since then. The problem has been that even advocates who want to work have not been allowed to.

Last month the court was witness to seniors being pulled out of court rooms, in front of judges, and compelled to join the strike. At least 57 advocates have been charged for various protests including an attack on  the Bank of Ceylon.

Some years ago, when then chief justice A P Shah, responding to an advisory issued by the Supreme Court, increased the working days from 210 to 220 and cut the summer recess by a week, there was resistance from the advocates.

The move was revoked and advocates instead offered to work 15 minutes extra every day, which is why the court now sits till 4.45 pm.

Who guards the seat of justice?

Madras HC Campus Sans Security Since Feb 19

A Subramani | tnn new-picture-9


Chennai: Post February 19 violence, who is guarding Madras high court? No one.

After the court premises witnessed the worst violence in its history involving police and advocates on February 19, the entire campus has been left to take care of itself. “Luckily no untoward incident has happened on the campus during the period,” said a senior advocate.

The situation was highlighted before the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on March 3, when the Tamil Nadu government’s senior counsel Ashok Desai asked if some armed policemen, escorting remand and undertrial prisoners, could be permitted to enter the high court premises.

On his part, senior advocate K K Venugopal, representing the high court, too wanted police force for the security and day-to-day administration of the high court and other courts on the campus. The bench, however, said the (acting) chief justice of the Madras high court was at liberty to pass appropriate orders in the matter.
With the ball back on its court, the Madras high court is now debating the possibility of evolving a security plan for its premises, where not a single policeman in uniform has stepped in since the February 19 violence.
In fact, the state chief secretary has written to the high court authorities, bringing to their notice the utter lack of security at the premises at the moment. The high court building is an iconic structure, and it requires extra care, the official has said.
Pointing out that no security has been provided by police within the high court premises from February 19, he has said that the access control system introduced on January 28 too was not in operation. “I, therefore, request you to take adequate steps to ensure protection in the building and its environs from any untoward happening,” the chief secretary has said.

To begin with, authorities may permit armed policemen, escorting remand and undertrial prisoners to sessions courts, to enter the high court premises.

OPEN COURT: There is no security at the high court building since the violence

HC suspends 2 judges for not vacating houses

A Subramani | TNN

Chennai: In a development that shocked the entire subordinate judiciary in Tamil Nadu, two senior district judges were suspended from service for delay in handing over their official residential quarters after they were transferred.

The administrative decision of the Madras high court was conveyed to the principal district judge of Tuticorin district, PS Avadi Thiagaraja Moorthy, and the principal district judge of Ramanathapuram, K Jayabalan, on Wednesday.

“Suspension for a non-service issue, such as residential quarters, is disproportionate, and certainly not acceptable to the subordinate judiciary,” said a magistrate, who added that the judges had children studying in Chennai.

“Imagine the plight of the children, whose annual examinations have already commenced. Worse, it is a big loss of face for the judges, who now cannot face litigants and advocates confidently,” he said. The two senior judges were not heard before their suspension, and they have been directed to hand over the keys to the flats on Pantheon Road in Egmore within 24 hours, said their colleague.

Suspension will be revoked after judges hand in the keys
Chennai: The suspension of judges PS Avadi Thiagaraja Moorthy and K Jayabalan for not vacating their residential quarters after being transferred would be revoked after they hand over their residences, a HC registry official said.

While Avadi Thiagaraja Moorthy was a special judge at the court for exclusive trial of bomb blast cases and TADA cases when he was transferred, Jayabalan was the first additional family court judge when he was shifted to Ramanathapuram.

“They were transferred out of Chennai in the middle of an academic year. While responding to the high court’s eviction notice, the judges said they should be permitted to remain in occupation till April-end when the exams would end,” a resident of the judges’ quarters on Pantheon Road said. “They were even ready to remit penal rent at market rate,” he added.

“Two flats are vacant and two are occupied by HC judges, who were elevated from service. Not long ago, two district judges were permitted to remain in their quarters even one year after retirement,” he added.

Bank rescues village from money lenders


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Bank rescues village from money lenders

K Ranganath | TNN

Tavarekere (Kolar dist): This village in Mulbagal taluk, a stone’s throw away from Andhra Pradesh, was once mired in debt, thanks to exorbitant interest rates charged by private money lenders. Today, it’s money-lender free, thanks to the sincere efforts of Mandikal branch of Pragathi Gramina Bank.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram had dreamt of making villages across the country money-lender free. The Pragathi Gramina Bank, in tune with his wishes, has already taken up steps in this direction. Tavarekere is the second village to be declared free of money lenders.

The villagers, mostly labourers with one-third belonging to scheduled castes, were getting financial assistance from private money lenders in Andhra Pradesh. At least three financial firms, which claim to have been registered under RBI, would lend money and charge high interest. The recovery agents of Ammamma Bank, Future Financial Services and SKS Financiers, who claim to have registered offices in Chittor and other places, would visit the villages on a weekly basis to recover loan instalments. On an average, they’d recover over a lakh of rupees every fortnight.

When T Papanna, manager, Mandikal branch visited the village, he was horrified by the exorbitant rate of interest charged by them. To free the villagers from their clutches, he advised them to borrow from Gramina Bank.

A majority of them were on the black list of various banks. Papanna persuaded them to repay outstanding loans with concessions for one-time settlement. Later, he began financing villagers depending upon their needs. With better prospects for dairy activity there, the bank funded the purchase of 56 cross-breed cows, besides providing aid for other activities including business, piggery, poultry and other activities.

Shobha, a member of a women’s self-help group, said that she is happy to deal with the bank as the interest rate is affordable, and bankers don’t harass them for recovery unlike private money lenders. Narayanamma, who had no source of income a couple of years ago, is now a proud owner of six cross-breed cows and three calves.

The local Milk Producers Cooperative Society has joined hands with the bank authorities for recovering loans. Result: the branch’s overall recovery position is a stunning 98%.

SILKEN LINING
Shankarappa who was earning Rs 2,000 per month as a driver, now owns a sericulture farm after obtaining aid from the bank. Shankarappa owned five acres of land but couldn’t make adequate use of it owing to lack of funds.

The bank’s financial assistance has worked wonders. Now, in addition to the sericulture farm, he owns cattle. He has sent his son to study BBM at Kolar. He managed to achieve all this within a span of a year.

Chennai:Address-proof cards a big hit in city


Address-proof cards a big hit in city

11,127 Cards Issued By Postal Dept;

20,000 More Are Being Processed

Julie Mariappan | TNN

Chennai: MS Ramanujan, a senior postal department official, moved to Chennai from Sriharikota last year, but the rigmarole associated with shifting was a little more than what he had expected. Neither could he get an LPG connection nor a bank account as he didn’t possess any proof of residence.

The address-proof card, which the department of posts has come up with, is the brainchild of Ramanujam, who is now the postmaster-general. A total of 11,127 cards have been issued till date to Chennaiites; another 20,000 cards are in various stages of processing. So far, 70,000 applications have been sold out and another lakh of reprinted applications are on sale.
“The concept became a reality after a probe by field-level officials. The department wanted to enable the citizens to get a bonafide certificate for address, as our postmen alone have an intimate knowledge of the local people,” Ramanujam told TOI. The card also has details like date of birth, telephone and mobile numbers and blood group.

According to sources, over 100 applications reach the designated post offices every day. A Pushpa of Ramapuram, who moved here with her family from a southern district, considers the card a blessing. “All government departments demand proof of address to render their services, which is unreasonable,” she told TOI. Even taluk office requires the applicant, who seeks residential certificate, to stay in the said address for a minimum of two years.

The police, transport commissionerate, election department, civil supplies, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation, Southern Railway, LIC, BSNL, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Airport Authority of India, Regional Passport Officer and nationalised banks have been approached by postal officials to accept the card as bonafide proof.

“Except for Bank of Baroda, which asked for gazetted notification, no one has any problems with the card. In fact, passport officials are comfortable with applicants producing these cards,” sources said.

The department is planning to extend the scheme to tier-two cities like Tirunelveli and Salem and later to Kancheepuram and Dharmapuri. Details can be obtained from the business development cell (ph: 28594761) at the PMG’s office on Anna Salai.

PROOF POSITIVE
Taluk office requires the applicant, who seeks residential certificate, to stay in the stated address for a minimum of two years

The police, transport commissionerate, election department, civil supplies, Railways, BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone, Airport Authority of India, Passport Officer and nationalised banks have been informed by postal dept

The dept plans to extend the scheme to tier-two and tier-three cities

Mumbai:Registration fee: Relief for flat buyers


Registration fee: Relief for flat buyers

Sanjeev Shivadekar & Yogesh Naik I TNN 


Mumbai: The state government on Friday rescinded its earlier decision to levy a registration fee at a flat 1% of the market value of an apartment. The announcement was made by chief minister

Ashok Chavan after the state cabinet meeting on Friday.
With the Registration Fee and Stamp Duty Payers’ Association threatening to challenge the decision to increase the registration fee in court, and knowing that its move had not gone down well with the ‘common man’, the ruling Congress-NCP government decided to retain the existing registration system.

The builders’ lobby, too, was furious with the government for adding to the burden of flat purchasers. At a time when the realty sector has been hit by the slowdown, the revenue department on February 17 had issued a circular announcing hike in the registration fee.

Earlier, the registration fee was 1% of the current value of the flat, but not exceeding Rs 30,000. However, according to the latest circular, there was no cap on the maximum amount to be charged as the registration fee.

BMC pension notice stumps teachers

Anahita Mukherji I TNN

Mumbai: Imagine discovering, after a lifetime of working as a teacher, that you are not entitled to a single penny as pension. That’s exactly what a few hundred teachers from private-aided schools across the city found out when they received a circular from the BMC saying they did not have the necessary qualifications to teach and would not receive any pension.

“I have put in 35 years as a teacher and was appointed by the school on a permanent basis. I have received regular pay hikes over the past three decades.

However, suddenly, the BMC says I am not qualified to teach and won’t get any pension. How come the civic body paid my salary for all these years?’’ says a 59-year-old teacher who retired last year.

The BMC, in its letter to teachers, said they should have completed their DEd by June 1985. Many teachers said they had recently received a letter from the civic body, stating that as they had done a DpEd and not a DEd, they were not qualified to teach and so would not get their pension. Incidentally, both DpEd and DEd stand for a Diploma in Education, except that DpEd was the older version.

“We had sent a circular to private-aided schools telling them that only qualified teachers would receive their pension. We had also asked them to upgrade the qualifications of the teachers who did not have a DEd. Schools should have passed on the message to their teachers,’’ says Abbasaheb Jadhav, BMC education officer.

However, a number of private schools say they did not receive any prior information from the BMC. One of the teachers, who was denied pension, dragged the BMC to court and even won her case earlier this month.

“How can the BMC suddenly deny teachers their pension after 30-40 years in service? The municipal corporation did not even issue any showcause notice to these teachers in the past. In fact, the civic body has even paid them salaries accordion to BMC payscales,’’ said G S Walia, the lawyer who fought the teacher’s case free of cost.

On February 17, the high court set aside the BMC order for the teacher and asked the civic body to pay the dues to her.

anahita.mukherji@timesgroup.com


Karnataka:Constables Quit Police Service


COP-OUTS on the rise

Constables Quit Police Service, Turn To Teaching

N D Shiva Kumar | TNN

Bangalore: Khaki, the symbol of power, is losing its charm. And in the changing scenario, cops prefer the ‘stick’ over the ‘lathi’ and are back in schools as teachers.

Unemployed youth, who once queued up to join the police, are walking out with regularity. In two years (2007 and 2008), 522 youth quit immediately after joining. Attrition is highest in Bangalore and Gulbarga. During this period, the police department recruited 6,917 civil, 4,288 armed and 992 women constables.

Those who remain in service want to be civil police constables or officers (sub-inspectors) rather than armed constables — nine armed PCs left to become civil constables and 10 quit to become SIs.

The attrition is highest — in terms of numbers and not percentage — in Bangalore (97) and Gulbarga (62) districts. There is zero attrition in Dharwad and Chikballapur.

IS IT A NEW PHENOMENON?

“Till 2000, recruitment was done at the district level. Now, it is centralized and hence we have the statistics. There was no compilation or analysis of attrition rate in those days, so we don’t know,’’ explained additional director general of police (recruitment and training), CoD, S T Ramesh.

The attrition rate varies between southern Karnataka, Hyderabad-Karnataka and Mumbai-Karnataka regions. “Attrition is low in North Karnataka. In Southern Karnataka, police service is one of the options.

They join the force for the job, but the moment they get a better one, they quit,” said CoD DIG (recruitment and training) Sunil Agarwal.

BACK ON CAMPUS
Curiously, those who have quit have turned to teaching — as many as 93% (483 constables) of those who quit have become teachers. They include the 97 who quit in Bangalore and 62 who resigned in Gulbarga.
The survey ‘A profile of junior ranks of Karnataka police — A survey of their attitudes, behaviour, mental makeup and stress levels’ conducted by CoD DGP D V Guruprasad had shown that joining the police was not the first priority for youth, who preferred to teach than be cops.
The survey had revealed that serving policemen disliked their job because of harassment by senior officers, too much work, political pressure and interference, higher officers listening to gossip, lack of social life, no leave and corruption.

The analysis of the attrition has proved that even if they fail to become teachers, the resigned youth preferred to be clerks at the postal department, KSRTC or court.
Is the trend a cause of concern? Ramesh does not feel so. He said: “Attrition happens in all sectors, including IPS. I think it isn’t a matter of worry. It’s normal.’’

WHY THEY LEAVE THE FORCE
Harassment by senior officers Huge and unreasonable amount of workload Interference by politicians and pressure from influential people Lack of social life , No leave,  Corruption in the department

REGIONALINFLUENCE
In educationally and industrially backward Hyderabad-Karnataka region, government or petty jobs are the main source of employment.

In Mumbai-Karnataka region, people love to be in the police service.

There, it’s not about employment but prestige. Even youths from well-to-do families want to be SIs, and hence the region produces more officers

S T Ramesh, ADDITIONAL DIRECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE (RECRUITMENT AND
TRAINING), COD
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