Parallel hearings on khaki reforms after cop excesses #policereforms


, TNN | Apr 22, 2013, 12.45 AM IST

 
NEW DELHI: Even as the police reforms issue has been lying dormant before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir, anotherSupreme Court bench, this one headed by Justice G S Singhvi, has taken up the same matter with visible urgency. Responding to police excesses, Singhvi intervened in the implementation of the 2006 judgment on police reforms, although such monitoring had been done throughout by a succession of CJIs.

Thanks to Singhvi’s activism, all the states and union territories, which have been dragging their feet for years, suddenly find themselves accountable at the same time to two different benches.

Singhvi’s bench is also pushing them harder as it has already held three hearings this month, since it had ordered the states and UTs on March 11 to file affidavits within two weeks on the implementation of the six directions in the 2006 verdict. The next hearing before it is on April 25, when the petitioner in the original police reforms case, former DGP of UP and BSF Prakash Singh, is due to give his assessment on the glitches in the implementation of the first direction, namely, the creation of the state security commission to insulate the police from political interference.

In contrast, Kabir’s bench has heard the case only once ever since he had assumed office as CJI in September 2012. In that solitary hearing which took place in October, Kabir, however, steered clear of the contempt proceedings which had been initiated against four major states by his predecessor, Justice S H Kapadia. Rather than building on the progress made in the case by earlier CJIs, Kabir’s bench issued fresh notices to all the states and UTs for their status reports. The matter has since been listed thrice (the last time being on April 16) but Kabir’s bench never got around to hearing it on any of those occasions.

Meanwhile, the provocation for the entry of Singhvi’s bench into this case was a couple of police excesses in March on successive days: Punjab police beat up a woman in public in Taran Taran while their Bihar counterparts lathi-charged a procession of contractual teachers. On March 6, Singhvi’s bench took cognizance of the press reports on those two incidents and appointed senior advocates Harish Salve and U U Lalit as amicus curiae. Five days later, this suo motu intervention into two specific instances of police highhandedness enlarged into parallel proceedings on police reforms. Besides giving notices to all the states and UTs, the bench comprising Justices Singhvi and Kurian Joseph appointed two more amicus curiae: Prakash Singh and attorney general G E Vahanvati.

This unforeseen development has raised expectations that the Supreme Court would at last pursue the police reforms implementation with the seriousness it deserved. Given the difference individual judges could make, civil society activists hope that Singhvi would help break the deadlock on police reforms before his retirement by this year-end. Since Kabir himself is due to retire in July shortly after the summer break, it remains to be seen if he would formally transfer the police reforms case to Singhvi’s bench, to end the anomaly of parallel proceedings.

 

SC asks cos including Vedanta, Adani, Tata and Essar Steel to pay 50% entry fee tax demand by Odisha


Samanwaya Rautray, ET Bureau Apr 10, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked a host of companies including VedantaAdani and Tata Steel and Essar Steel, to pay up 50% of the tax demanded by the state of Odisha by way of entry tax for now.

A bench, comprising Justices HL Dattu and JS Khehar, directed all the companies to pay 50% of the tax and interest amounts demanded/assessed by the state. But the penalty amount would be excluded from the amount, the court said.

Senior counsel Harish Salve argued the case for these companies. He was assisted by Tarun Gulati of Economic Laws Practice. Salve urged the court to restrict the deposit to 33% for now, but the court refused to do so, instead asking them to pay 50% of any demands made by the state.

Salve also urged that the penalty may be directed to be deposited as the case involves a constitutional challenge and that the assessees had already succeeded in the High Court in Reliance’s case.

The Bench agreed with Salve’s suggestion that the penalty amount should be excluded from the total deposits to be made by the companies.

But the bench noted the state was financially poor and that these companies were constrained to bring such goods from outside the state.

Odisha counsel Rakesh Dwivedi demanded that these companies deposit the whole of the tax liability which had arisen prior to filing of the petitions before the Orissa High Court. But Salve objected to this suggestion.

These taxes have been imposed on goods imported by them for their plants and services in Orissa between 2008 and 2012.

Odisha’s Entry Act, which allows levy of entry tax on imported goods, allows the state to levy a tax, not exceeding 12% of the purchase value, on entry of goods for consumption, use or sale in the state. The government levies different rates for different goods. Most states have similar Acts.

Petitions challenging them on the grounds of constitutional validity are now pending before the Supreme Court. Nineteen other companies including ACC and Hindalco Industries and Vedanta, have moved the top court against the Act. They claim that the power to impose a cross state levy only lies with the centre and states have no power to impose them.

 

SC tells Centre to limit use of red beacons on VIP vehicles


TAGS: Supreme Court | Red Lights | Beacon lights | VIP sirens
The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that the government should consider limiting the use of beacon lights and sirens only on vehicles of constitutional functionaries, police, army, fire service vehicles and ambulances.

A bench said withdrawing red lights from the vehicles of ‘so called’ VIPs will instill confidence among people. Stressing that beacon lights should not be allowed to be flaunted as a status symbol, it said there was no hindrance in withdrawing the privilege straight away and giving a sign that everybody is equal.

While hearing a special leave petition ( SLP) questioning continuation of Z- category security to an MLA from Uttar Pradesh without review of threat perception, the SC had earlier decided to enlarge the scope of the matter in public interest and put under its scanner the criteria for permitting beacon lights.

The court had directed all states to file affidavits giving details on the proportion of policemen involved in providing security to VIPs, the criteria for providing security and the amount of money spent on providing security to VIPs, among others.

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/sc-tells-centre-to-limit-use-of-red-beacons-on-vip-vehicles/1/260658.html

 

Supreme court -Police Brutality is gross Human Rights violations #Vaw


SC castigates Punjab, Bihar cops for violation of rights

, TNN | Mar 7, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of Punjab police assaulting a woman in Tarn Taran and Bihar police caning contractual teachers in Patna saying the governments had failed to safeguard people’s right to life and dignity from “wholly unwarranted” police action

 

Initiating proceedings on its own in discharge of its mandate to protect fundamental rights of citizens, particularly women and weaker sections, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Ranjana P Desai said, “We feel that it is proper for this court to take cognizance of the gross violation of human rights as well as the constitutional rights of the people.”

On February 4, television channels showed two Punjab policemen abusing, slapping and caning a 25-year-old dalit woman and her ex-serviceman father in Tarn Taran. The woman was complaining to police against some taxi drivers who allegedly molested her. Though Punjab government ordered a magisterial inquiry, state police chief Sumedh Singh Saini defended non-registration of FIR against the two cops involved in the incident.

The other incident related to lathi-charge and tear gas firing by Bihar police on February 5 against contractual teachers who were demanding wages. Referring to news reports, the bench said, “Contents of the news items revealed that members of Punjab police and Patna police have mercilessly beaten an unarmed woman and teachers. Both the incidents have shocked the conscience of the entire nation.”

The bench faulted the Prakash Singh Badal and the Nitish Kumar governments for failure to take “adequate steps for protecting the people against the wholly unwarranted action taken by the police at Tarn Taran and Patna”.

“These incidents raise important constitutional issues relating to Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution and dignity of individual,” the bench said and sought assistance of attorney general G E Vahanvati and senior advocates Harish Salve and U U Lalit to help the court as amicus curiae in the matter. It posted further hearing for March 11.

Long before the Justice J S Verma panel, appointed in the aftermath of Nirbhaya’s gang-rape, suggested that judiciary must initiate suo motu action against blatant violations of fundamental rights of citizens, the Supreme Court and high courts have from time to time initiated proceedings on their own, taking cognizance of reports of gross violation of human rights.

The Supreme Court of India may not match its counterpart in Pakistan, which has in the last five years initiated 86 suo motu actions, but it did not remain a mute spectator when citizens’ rights were targeted by those tasked to protect it.

Justice Verma panel had in its January 23 report to the government said, “The judiciary has the primary responsibility of enforcing fundamental rights through constitutional remedies. The judiciary can take suo motu cognizance of such issues being deeply concerned with them both in the Supreme Court and the high courts. An all-India strategy to deal with this issue would be advisable.”

Last year, the Supreme Court had initiated suo motu proceedings in a number of cases, including VVIPs flaunting red beacons on their vehicles and travelling with a large security detail, inconveniencing citizens.

On November 21, the court had taken suo motu cognizance of private guards using firearms, as was alleged in the shootout at a farmhouse killing liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother, and asked the Union government to frame a regulatory mechanism for private security agencies.

In another PIL which sought an end to discrimination of women and their protection by police, the apex court had on January 2 suo motu made all states a party to the petition and sought response in four weeks.

 

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