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JUDGES : WHO WILL JUDGE THEM ? I


COMMUNICATION GAP?

Erring judges: Govt, SC differ on response

Himanshi Dhawan TNN

     New Delhi: At a time when judicial accountability is being hotly debated, the government and the Supreme Court appear to have shrugged off responsibility on the procedure to deal with complaints against erring judges with both giving contradictory RTI responses.

      While the justice department said that the chief justice of the high court concerned and the CJI (for judges of the SC and the chief justices of other courts) had the competent authority to ascertain facts and take appropriate action, the then CJI Y K Sabharwal had in response to an RTI plea in 2006 rejected a complaint for action against an HC judge on the basis that neither the SC nor the CJI were “appointing or disciplinary authority’’ in respect of judges of superior courts.

      Significantly the government has also said that there was no provision to restrict HC judges from their entitlement of post-retirement benefits even if the judges had resigned prematurely to avoid contempt proceedings.

        When asked in an RTI plea by activist S C Agrawal on action taken against judges, the justice department in its reply dated December 30, 2011 referred to a conference of chief justices in 1990, saying that the CJI had summed up the position by saying, “The CJ of the HC has the competence to receive complaints against the conduct of the judges of his court… where he is satisfied that the matter requires to be examined, he shall have facts ascertained in such a manner as he considers appropriate keeping the nature of allegations in view and if he is of the opinion that the matter is such that it should be reported to the CJI, he shall do so. The CJI shall act in a similar manner in regard to complaints relating to conduct of judges of the SC and CJs of high courts.’’

       In the 2006 reply to Agrawal, SC registrar and appellate authority Hemant Sampat quoted the then CJI Sabhawal and said, “Neither the SC nor the CJI were appointing or disciplinary authority in respect of judges of superior courts, including judges of HCs.’’ Agrawal had in October 2005 complained against an HC judge misusing his position to former CJI R C Lahoti. No action was taken against the complaint.

       Agrawal approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which in an order in April 2006 asked the SC to disclose the status of the complaint. Sabharwal’s order in response to the CIC direction was that the he had examined the matter and found no merit in the complaint.

35cr study to find effect of backlog on judges’ minds

Dhananjay Mahapatra TNN

     New Delhi: The Centre has agreed to conduct a study to find how the 14,000-odd trial court judges have been psychologically impacted by the continuous struggle to fight off 2.77 crore pending cases.

     It informed the Supreme Court that it was ready to sanction Rs 35 crore for a five-year study to investigate the impact of pendency pressure on judicial officers and examine whether it adversely impacted the output of trial court judges. With the high courts fixing minimum disposal rate for trial court judges in view of the huge pendency, judicial officers in district courts are under a lot of pressure, given the inadequate infrastructure, to decide the minimum required disposals.

      Amicus curiae and senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, assisting a bench of Justices A K Ganguly and T S Thakur in overall improvement of justice delivery system, had felt that heavy work load for a long period of time could cause psychological pressure on the judicial officers.

     Among other suggestions to the court for improving efficiency of justice delivery mechanism, he had mooted a psychological study to analyse whether such pressure “ran down the morale of the judge, his efficiency and ability and consequent loss of output”.
The ministry of law and justice, in its response to the suggestions, said “the study suggested can be taken up by the recently set up National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms”.

     It said the a scheme for “study of Judicial Reforms and Assessment Status” was being implemented by the Department of Justice but the term of the scheme was coming to an end on March 31, 2012.

     “As the need for continuing the Action Research and Studies highlighted above is felt, the scheme may be continued during the 12th five-year plan period as an activity of the National Mission for Judicial Reforms and Assessment Status,” the ministry said.

Elections feb 2012 Humour in cartoons


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DELHI POLICE; DELAYED ACTIONS


FIR filed against ‘unknown cops’ for Ramdev action

Raj Shekhar TNN

    New Delhi: More than two weeks after the Supreme Court asked Delhi Police to investigate the role of its officers in the brutal crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s supporters in June last year, the Central district police have finally registered a case against “unknown Delhi Police officers” for “acts endangering life or safety of others”.

     Cops would study TV footage of the late-night police action, including a lathicharge on Ramdev’s supporters at Ramlila Maidan, to ascertain culpability of specific police officers. Police said a few arrests were likely. The case may be transferred to the crime branch after a while.
Observers said the officers charged are likely to be scapegoats as the order for the crackdown came from the police brass and Commissioner B K Gupta was himself present at the spot that night.

     Asked why nobody has been named in the FIR despite officers being seen in the footage using lathis, a senior police officer said, “We will analyse everything, the footage and the circumstances in which the personnel turned violent. Those who are found…using excess force will be arrested”. Midnight raid: Cops to probe only lathicharge

      New Delhi:The SHO of Kamla Market police station is the “complainant” in the case, registered under section 336 of Indian Penal Code against “unknown Delhi Police officers” for “acts endangering life or safety of others”. These cops had broken up a sit-in by Baba Ramdev at the Ramlila Maidan last year.

       Sources said the investigations may be restricted to the lathicharge by cops and may not include the use of teargas shells, as the Supreme Court did not mention the latter in its order.

     Police commissioner Gupta is due to retire in June this year. The department has to file its report in three months’ time. Sources said they will be filing the report in the lower court.

      Police are already investigating a case in which supporters of Baba Ramdev were booked last year. Several supporters were arrested for damaging property and indulging in violence. After the Supreme Court directive last month, Commissioner Gupta had said, “We will abide by the Supreme Court order in letter and spirit. We will take action against those policemen who had used excessive force on protesters”.

     The court had slammed the police for acting in an arbitrary manner and using excessive force in evicting Ramdev and his followers from the Ramlila Grounds and had also pulled up the yoga guru for not cooperating with the police.

     The apex court had differentiated between policemen who had helped protesters move out of the venue and those who indulged in brickbatting and lathicharge.

FIR filed 4 days after assault on brothers

Dwaipayan Ghosh TNN

New Delhi: Police took four days to register a case against 10 men, who had bashed up two brothers at Satya Niketan on March 5. No arrests have been made so far even as the victims, Gaurav Sahni
(29) and Chaksu Sahni (20), claim that the attackers could be seen clearly on CCTV footage.
Police, however, claimed that it were the two brothers who had refused to lodge an FIR. “The SHO of the area said that initially the brothers did not want a case of hurt to be registered. The case was finally registered when they returned four days later. We have found that the CCTV footage, which we obtained from the RWA of Satya Niketan, is very hazy. The footage has been sent to technical experts for analysis. We are also collecting other technical evidence which we do not want to divulge now. Though no arrest has been made so far, we are hopeful of a breakthrough soon,” said Chhaya Sharma, DCP (south).
Gulshan Kumar Sahni, the father of the victims, told TOI that the cops woke up from slumber only after he approached the PMO, the home ministry, and the police commissioner’s office. He alleged that the FIR was deliberately put in milder words. Gaurav has sustained multiple injuries on his body, while Chaksu underwent a major nasal surgery at the Fortis Hospital in Saket.
Chaksu’s MLC report was done at Safdarjung Hospital. “He has two fractures on his nose and the operation lasted for several hours. Till I last checked him, he was still unconscious,” said Gulshan.
dwaipayan.ghosh@timesgroup.com

Gaurav and Chaksu (right)

BRT MESS: DELHI GOVERNMENT TO INFLICT FURTHER TORTURE


SCRAP THIS TRAP PART-III

Govt plans to choke city with 38 more botched BRTs

        DIMTS Ready To Replicate Flawed Experiment 

     Govt Refuses To Allow People’s Participation In Decision-Making

Rumu    Banerjee TNN

      New Delhi:The Delhi government decided to rechristen the bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor as integrated transit corridor in 2011, perhaps hoping to erase the memory of the ordeal Delhiites undergo everyday on the Ambedkar Nagar-Moolchand BRT.

        Unfortunately, that’s the only change it has brought about. Plans for 38 new corridors — 14 of which have been approved by Delhi government — clearly show the government is hell-bent on implementing a design that has already been panned by the city.
A case in point is the preliminary design for BRT corridors to be constructed by DIMTS (Delhi integrated multi-modal transit system). The agency, which operates and maintains the existing BRT, has been entrusted with six corridors. Despite the experience of running the Ambedkar Nagar BRT with its attendant jams and long-signal cycles, DIMTS opted to replicate the same design on corridors it will be building — central dedicated lane for buses, girded by the motor vehicle (MV) lanes on both sides.

      The rest of the road, DIMTS officials say, will be retrofitted as per guidelines set by the umbrella traffic and transport agency, UTTIPEC. “The principle of the BRT at Ambedkar Nagar is sound. We only have to learn from our experience and design a better model for other corridors,” said a senior DIMTS official.

        A better model, according to DIMTS, is a corridor that will have 15m set aside for the dedicated bus lane with 11m on either carriageway for MV lanes. On either side, a section of the road space measuring 10-11m will be devoted for the footpath, cycle and non-motor vehicle track. This is a typical cross-section on a 60m road, as suggested by UTTIPEC. On roads that are narrower, the lane width goes down correspondingly. But the segregated bus lane is not done away with, unless the road is narrower than 24m. That’s not all. The design also suggests separate parking zones for autorickshaws and Gramin Sewa on the road space in the corridor, aside from hawker zones near intersections. All this will be carved out in the existing road space.

        BRT proponents say existing lane space for private vehicles will not be touched in the new corridors. “We will make more space on the road where possible,” a DIMTS official said. Considering the corridors are going through highly congested areas like ISBT Kashmere Gate, the airport intersection, Vikas Marg, Seelampur, Dilshad Garden, Azadpur, Shahdara, Mahipalpur and Gokulpuri, the idea may seem ludicrous. DIMTS claims that’s why it has opted for a ‘hybrid’ system — where the segregated bus lane may merge into mixed traffic on stretches that are too narrow.

       Transport planning expert Prof P K Sarkar says, “The design as implemented at Ambedkar Nagar BRT is not optimum utilisation of space. The biggest problem is with the junction treatment in the BRT, where signal cycles are too long. Only if the bus lane is completely segregated at these junctions, perhaps made elevated, will the corridor work in Delhi.” According to Sarkar, any traffic-heavy junction where the bus lane is at grade with the MV lane will result in traffic jams. He dismisses the government’s proposal to reclaim road space in areas like the Yamuna riverside, by concretizing strips along the stretch. “Can that be done along all the roads in Delhi? Obviously not,” is the scathing retort. Sanjiv Sahai of DIMTS says the benefits of the BRT will be felt once the network is completed. But why wasn’t the network completed in the past four years since its inception? There are no answers.

           That the government itself is confused about the project is apparent from the fact that the PWD, which has been asked to build the rest of the seven BRT corridors (with one to be built by the MCD), has no clue whether the BRT will be a central or side-dedicated bus lane. PWD officials say the design will be finalized by consultants. The PWD is still in the process of hiring them.

       With a cost of Rs 15-20 crore per kilometre, the experimentation drive by the Delhi government on the BRT project that will cover over 300km raises several questions. Why is it insisting on extending the corridor when the existing one still doesn’t function properly?

       In a city with shrinking road space, rampant encroachment, lax enforcement, why is the government relying on a system that can only tackle moderate traffic flow? The government’s refusal to allow public participation in the decision process has only mired the project in more controversy. But is the government listening?
( C o n c l u d e d )

CORRIDOR OF CHAOS
In 2011, Delhi govt gives nod to 14 more BRT corridors .   BRT now called integrated transit corridor .Corridor will now be built by land-owning agency
DIMTS, PWD & MCD are selected agencies .Corridors cut through congested areas like
ISBT Kashmere Gate, IGI intersection, Gokulpuri, Dilshad Garden, Karkari More, Sarai Kale Khan-Jor Bagh (via Barapullah), Connaught Place

LESSONS LEARNT: NONE
Design chosen by DIMTS same as Ambedkar Nagar-Delhi Gate BRT
Dedicated bus lane to be at centre
Bus stations to be staggered, bus stops on either side of lane
Rest of road to be retrofitted with footpath, cycle track, kerbing of central dedicated lane
Pedestrian crossings near bus stations
Bus priority at minor junctions
CHANGES SUGGESTED IN NEW ITC Follow guidelines for streetdesign laid down by UTTIPEC
Corridor not to eat into existing vehicle space/ road space
Will have parking zones for autos and Gramin Sewa on corridor
Hawker zone near intersections
Higher parking charges
for vehicles in corridor
Grade separators at major junctions
Ban on turns
More buses
STATUS OF PROJECT
DIMTS ready with initial project report of six corridors
PWD yet to hire consultants. Once hired, design will be chosen for corridors
CM called for review of BRT project

Justice : WHERE FOR WHOM


HC dismisses oldest criminal appeal of 1986

Shibu Thomas TNN

    Mumbai: The oldest criminal appeal, concerning a daylight murder in Mumbai in 1984, was finally disposed of by theBombay High Court on Monday. A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M L Tahaliyani dismissed an appeal filed by the state government over 25 years ago challenging the acquittal of seven accused in the murder case.

      “The registry’s note said that this was the oldest criminal appeal pending before the high court,” said additional public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani.

     There are around2.2lakh civil and criminal cases pending before the high court. Around 3,600 criminal appeals are filed every year before the high court by accused and the state government against convictions and acquittals.The1986 appeal was one of the 20,000 appeals (including revision applications) pending before the high court.
The present case relates to an incident dating back to February 2, 1984.

      A local gangster, Maxi Mendonsa, was on his way to the Andheri metropolitan court for hearing in a case. The police case was that the seven accused—Ramnath Patil, Suresh Sable, Mohan Asolkar, Dilip Nyanirgune, Atmaram patil, Kishore Patil and Ashok Jagpat—tried to intercept an autorickshaw Mendonsa was traveling in. The accused, all residents of Sion, Chunabatti, were travelling in two taxis. A chase ensued and Mendonsa fell into a ditch. The accused assaulted him with choppers and knives and killed him.

       The police registered a murder case and arrested the accused. Two of the eyewitnesses, who had taken down the registration number of the taxis, turned hostile, while a third, a taxi driver, could not properly identify the accused.

      In December 1985, a sessions court acquitted all the seven accused, giving them benefit of doubt. The state challenged the trial court’s verdict and filed an appeal in the high court in 1986, where it was pending all these years.

       Late last year, the matter was placed for hearing before the high court. Hingorani argued that the trial judge had not properly appreciated the evidence submitted by the police. The high court did not agree with the prosecution and upheld the acquittal.