Cauvery panel finds T.N. demand for water not feasible


The committee agrees for decisions by consensus

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The Cauvery Supervisory Committee that met here on Wednesday did not find “feasible” the demand of the Tamil Nadu government for directions to Karnataka for release of Cauvery waters as per the award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

 The panel, chaired by Union Water Resources Secretary S.K. Sarkar, agreed to the suggestion of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to modify its Rules of Business to decide that decisions shall ordinarily be taken by consensus. If no consensus is reached, then the decision may be left to the Chairperson. Noting that the situation was “very grim” for both the basin States as the storage levels in their respective reservoirs were deficient, the committee decided to review the position in its next meeting slated to be held in the first week of July.

 The meeting observed that the southwest monsoon had arrived on time in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and has so far been in excess of normal in the first 10 days of June. It is expected to pick up in due course.

 “Looking into the data such as deficit in inflows and very low storages in the reservoirs in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the request of Tamil Nadu for release of water by Karnataka was considered and found not feasible as of now. However, the position will be reviewed in the next meeting proposed to be held in the first week of July 2013,” said the six-page order signed by Mr. Sarkar.

 The live storage in Karnataka reservoirs on June 10 was 3.716 tmcft, while it was 3.58 tmcft in Mettur dam as against 15.8 tmcft and 41.96 tmcft respectively in the previous year on the same date.

 The outflow from Karnataka reservoirs is 0.83 tmcft and drawals, including evaporation, is 0.04 tmcft, while outflow at Mettur is 0.49 tmcft. “It is evident from the data that the situation in both Karnataka and Mettur (Tamil Nadu) is very grim,” the order said. Both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka raised objections to certain provisions in the Rules of Business, particularly the clauses pertaining to quorum and decision by majority vote. While Tamil Nadu sought early constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, Karnataka wanted that the panel should not adopt the guidelines of the Cauvery Management Board (as prescribed in the final award). The Supervisory Committee has been formed on the directions of the Supreme Court. Karnataka also suggested that water account be done at the end of December instead of from June to May. Besides, Tamil Nadu that sought 24 hours average water flows at Biligundlu for kuruvai crop and other needs.

 Panel takes note of poor storage levels in the two States

 It will review the position in the next meeting in July

Source : The Hindu

Image : Representation Only

India to downgrade ties with Italy, won’t send ambassador


The orders of the Supreme Court will be complied with by all government agencies

Against the backdrop of airports across India being put on alert to prevent Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday said the orders of the Supreme Court will be complied with by all government agencies.

Besides downgrading its diplomatic ties with Italy, the government has also asked its ambassador-designate to that country Basant Kumar Gupta, who was scheduled to leave for Rome on Friday, not to proceed. The government, which is reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral ties, has decided to withhold the posting of Gupta, who was expected to take charge by end of next week. The downgrading of ties could affect bilateral economic and social relations between the two nations.

‘The Supreme Court order will be complied with by all government agencies,’ Khurshid told reporters outside Parliament House on Friday in response to questions on the issue. He said the matter will come up before the apex court again on Monday and ‘we will know then exactly what is the next step that should be taken.

Meanwhile, the decision to alert the airports was taken by the Union Home Ministry a day after the apex court restrained the Italian Ambassador from leaving India without its permission.

The court had taken exception to Italian government’s refusal to send back two marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen. The two marines were allowed by the court to go to Italy to cast their votes in the elections there after the Italian Ambassador had given an assurance to send them back.

Sethusamudram project is illegal, arbitrary and unacceptable: Subramanian Swamy


Sethusamudram project is illegal, arbitrary and unacceptable: Subramanian Swamy

Lashing out at the UPA Government over its decision to go ahead with Sethusamudram Project despite the R. K. Pachauri Committee report suggesting it is unviable, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Monday said the mega project is illegal, arbitrary and unacceptable.

“The important thing is that the project is not acceptable. It is illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and extremely expensive,” said Swamy, while talking to reporters here.

“They (government) also clamed in their affidavit that Rs.860 crore have already been spent and therefore we want to go ahead with the project. Well if you have spent Rs.860 crore for a project which was illegal, arbitrary and unreasonable, malafide and extraordinarily expensive then according to the Supreme Court judgments, those who cleared the project they are responsible and this amount must be taken out of their wealth,” he added.

Swamy further stated that cutting of the Ram Setu (Adam’s Bridge) for this project would be a violation of section 295 (malicious of the religious sentiments of the citizen irrespective of any class) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Sethusamudram project was started in 2005 but was suspended following the Supreme Court order and R. K. Pachauri Committee was constituted to look in to the matter.

The committee has submitted its report on Friday last week, suggesting the entire Sethusamudram project unviable on two fronts – economically as ecologically.

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However, the government has rejected the Pachauri Committee report and submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court with and intention to pursue the project cutting through the Adam’s Bridge, popularly known as Ram Setu.

Pranab rejects another mercy plea


President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected the mercy petition of death-row convict Saibanna Ningappa Natikar, currently lodged in the Central Prison at Hindalga, Belgaum, Karnataka. This is his second rejection after assuming office as the President. He signed the order on January 4.

The first rejection was that of Kasab, the convict in the 26/11 Mumbai terror case hanged on

November 21.

Saibanna had submitted his mercy petition following the confirmation of his death sentence by the Supreme Court’s two-Judge Bench on April 21, 2005. Saibanna was a life convict for the murder of his first wife. While on parole in September 1994, suspecting the fidelity of his second wife, he killed her and his daughter, and attempted to commit suicide.

‘Judgment of error’

Fourteen former Judges had recently appealed to Mr. Mukherjee to commute Saibanna’s death sentence to life imprisonment, in view of Supreme Court’s admission in 2009 in another case that the Court’s confirmation of his death sentence in 2005 was per incuriam (judgment delivered out of error or ignorance).

In Santosh Kumar Bariyar v. State of Maharashtra (2009), the Supreme Court held that the Court’s confirmation of death sentence in Saibanna’s case fell foul of two binding judgments of the Supreme Court, namely, Mithu Singh v. State of Punjab (1983) and Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab (1980).

In Mithu Singh, the Supreme Court’s five-Judge Constitution Bench struck down Section 303 of Indian Penal Code, prescribing mandatory death sentence (prescribed under Section 303 of Indian Penal Code) for convicts found guilty of committing murder while serving life sentence.

In Bachan Singh, another Constitution Bench had held that death sentence is constitutional if it is prescribed as an alternative for the offence of murder and if the normal sentence prescribed by law for murder is imprisonment for life.

In Saibanna, the Supreme Court was doubtful whether a person already undergoing imprisonment for life could be visited with another term of imprisonment for life to run consecutively with the previous one. Instead of resolving this doubt, the Court confirmed his death sentence. In Bariyar, the Court admitted that the Bench in Saibanna effectively made death punishment mandatory for the category of offenders serving life sentence.

The Karnataka High Court which first heard Saibanna’s appeal against the death sentence gave a split verdict. His appeal was then referred to the third Judge, who confirmed his death sentence.

The Supreme Court, while confirming Saibanna’s death sentence, had relied on Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab, which was on November 20 last year considered per incuriam by a two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Sangeet v. State of Haryana.

The Hindu

Supreme court of India allows Italian marines to go home for Christmas


 

Italian sailors Massimiliano Latorre (L) and Salvatore Girone wait to board an elevator to reach the police commissioner's office in the southern Indian city of Kochi December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Sivaram V

Two Italian marines charged with killing two fishermen off the coast of India are likely to spend Christmas in Italy, after an Indian court on Thursday accepted a plea by the sailors to be allowed to join their families for the holiday season.

The two sailors, members of a military security team protecting the cargo ship Enrica Lexie from pirate attacks, shot the fishermen they say they mistook for pirates off the southern state of Kerala in February, sparking a diplomatic row between New Delhi and Rome.

The Kerala high court said its decision to allow the men back home for two weeks was contingent on the Indian government‘s approval.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are out on bail in the Indian state but not allowed to leave the country. They will be required to hand over 60 million rupees ($1.1 million) as a bank guarantee to the court before leaving.

The sailors, awaiting trial in New Delhi’s Supreme Court in connection with the shooting deaths, have to report back to India on January 10.

The Kerala state government opposed the sailors’ request, suspecting Italy of trying to smuggle the men out of India and feared that the sailors may not return.

“We’re very happy with the judgement. The Kerala government’s apprehensions have been quashed,” said Vijaya Bhanu, the counsel for the sailors.

Last week, Italian authorities summoned India’s ambassador in Rome and expressed “strong disappointment” that the Supreme Court had delayed a decision on where the men would face trial.

Italy wants the Supreme Court to rule that the shooting took place in international waters, outside India’s jurisdiction, allowing the marines to be tried in Rome.

Indian authorities accuse the sailors of killing unarmed fishermen in a “contiguous zone” where Indian law applies.

While visiting the marines in Kerala last week, Italy’s Defense Minister, Giampaolo Di Paolo, pinned his hopes on India allowing the men home for Christmas, saying “nobody more than India knows the values of festivities”.

REUTERS

In The NEWS : Ajmal Amir Kajab


Photograph of Ajmal Kasab, one of the ten terr...

Photograph of Ajmal Kasab, one of the ten terrorists involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks at the Victoria Terminus station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Timeline: Ajmal Kasab’s journey to the noose

The following is the chronology of events in 26/11 terror attack case in which the Supreme Court (SC) today upheld the death sentence of lone Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab:

Nov 26, 2008: Kasab and 9 terrorists launched acommando raid in Mumbai.

Nov 27, 2008: At 1.30am, Kasab caught and placed under arrest, admitted to Nair Hospital.

Nov 29, 2008: All places under siege secured, 9 terrorists were killed.

Nov 30, 2008: Kasab confesses before police.

Dec 27/28, 2008: An identification parade was held.

Jan 13, 2009: ML Tahaliyani was appointed the 26/11 judge.

Jan 16, 2009: Arthur Road Jail was selected for Kasab’s trial.

Feb 5, 2009: Kasab’s DNA samples match with articles found in Kuber.

Feb 20/21, 2009: Kasab made a confession before the magistrate.

Feb 22, 2009: Ujjwal Nikam was appointed special public prosecutor.

Feb 25, 2009: A charge sheet against Kasab, two others were filed in court.

Apr 1, 2009: Anjali Waghmare was appointed Kasab’s lawyer.

Apr 15, 2009: Anjali Waghmare was removed as Kasab’s lawyer.

Apr 16, 2009: Abbas Kazmi was appointed as Kasab’s lawyer.

Kasab, who took the advantage of loopholes in Indian security system is trying to take the advantage of the loopholes in judicial system with the help of lawyer Abbas Kazmi

Apr 17, 2009: Kasab’s confession was opened in court, he retracted.

Apr 20, 2009: The prosecution charged Kasab on 312 counts.

Apr 29, 2009: Experts opined that Kasab was major, .

May 6, 2009: Charges were framed, Kasab charged on 86 counts, but he denied the charges.

May 8, 2009: The first eyewitness deposed and identified Kasab.

June 23, 2009: Non-bailable warrants issued were against 22 including Hafeez Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

Nov 30, 2009: Abbas Kazmi was removed as Kasab’s lawyer

Dec 1, 2009: KP Pawar took the place of Kazmi.

Dec 16, 2009: The prosecution completed its case in 26/11.

Dec 18, 2009: Kasab denied all charges.

March 31, 2010: The arguments in the case end. Special Judge ML Tahaliyani reserves judgment for May 3, 2010.

May 3, 2010: Kasab was convicted, Sabauddin Ahmed and Faheem Ansari were acquitted of all charges.

May 6, 2010: Kasab was sentenced to death by the trial court.

Feb 21, 2011: The Bombay High Court upheld the death sentence to Kasab.

Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam shows victory sign outside the Bombay High court after the verdict of Ajmal Kasab, in Mumbai on Monday, February 21, 2011 - Salman Ansari.DNA

March 2011: Kasab wrote a letter to the SC challenging the HC order.

Oct 10, 2011: The SC stayed the execution of the death sentence awarded to the Pakistani terrorist

Oct 10, 2011: Kasab told the SC that he was brainwashed like a “robot” into committing the heinous crime in the name of “God” and that he did not deserve capital punishment owing to his young age.

Oct 18, 2011: The Supreme Court admited the Maharashtra government’s appeal challenging the acquittal of Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, co-accused of Ajmal Kasab, in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

Jan 31, 2012: Kasab told the SC that he was not given a free and fair trial in the case.

Feb 23, 2012: The SC heard intercepted conversations between the perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and their Pakistani handlers and watched the CCTV footage of the carnage.

Apr 25, 2012: The SC reserves its verdict after a marathon hearing, spanning over two and a half months.

Aug 29, 2012: The SC upheld the death sentence of Kasab and the acquittal of two alleged Indian co-conspirators in the case.

Kasab’s was a unique case: ATS chief Maria

Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria on Wednesday said that the trial and sentencing of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was culmination of a “unique” investigation, and a daunting task accomplished by various agencies.

“It was a unique investigation in which 657 witnesses were examined and investigating agencies from all over the world were involved,” he said, reacting to the Supreme Court ruling upholding the death sentence for Kasab.

The investigation was challenging, Maria said, as the conspiracy had been hatched on the foreign soil and the terrorists were well-equipped. The ATS was still hunting for the remaining accused, most of whom were in Pakistan, he said.

He thanked various departments of Mumbai police, forensic department and special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam for their efforts.

Referring to the probe of low-intensity blasts in Pune on August 1, Maria said ATS would try to get a break-through in the case before the Ganesh festival as directed by the state government. The investigation in the J M Road blast was making a good progress, he added.

Vociferous demand to execute Ajmal Kasab at the earliest

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The Supreme Court verdict upholding the death sentence of Ajmal Kasab in 26/11 Mumbai attacks case on Wednesday led to a vociferous demand for execution of the Pakistani terrorist at the earliest from parties, kin of the victims and other quarters in the country.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said government, on its part, will ensure that if Kasab files a mercy plea, it is disposed of in minimum time and asked Pakistan to punish other perpetrators who have taken shelter on its soil.

“…Now, he should be given complete sentence quickly. Punishment should be executed quickly,” Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said reacting to the Supreme Court verdict on Kasab’s appeal against his conviction and sentence.

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “Those who wage war against the country and kill innocents deserve no mercy…. Kasab should be hanged without any delay … enough of ‘biryani’ for him.”

Describing Pakistan as “a terror factory”, he said the government “must take all steps to destroy” terror infrastructure and sought a separate set of laws to deal with terror-related cases.

“No leniency should be shown against this kind of a terrorist. They have tried to destroy the peace of the nation, so he (Kasab) should be hanged as fast as possible,” Naqvi said.

Welcoming the verdict, the ruling Congress also favoured quick execution of Kasab.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid described the judgement as “inevitable” and rejected suggestions of delay in the final verdict saying a country governed by rule of law cannot mete out street justice.

“I had seen the Bombay High Court judgement. It was very, very complicated judgement for the judiciary to have given. They must have worked very hard on it. That’s been upheld by the Supreme Court. I think most people who do analysis of law would say this was an inevitable endorsement that would have come,” he told reporters in Delhi.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who led the case against Kasab during the trial process, said the death sentence awarded to Kasab should be executed as soon as possible so that it gives a strong signal to the terrorists that law takes stern action against such acts.

He also demanded that he prosecution against perpetrators of the 2008 terror strikes should now be expedited by the prosecuting agency of Pakistan, he said.

“The (prosecution in Pakistan) should not delay the trial on the ground that India has to furnish evidence because conspiracy behind the terror attacks was hatched in Pakistan and it is for them to prove the same,” Nikam said, adding the apex court in India has also held that criminal conspiracy behind the attacks was hatched in Pakistan.

Eknath Ombale, the brother of assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Ombale who died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 terror attacks, said if Afzal Guru had been hanged 10 years ago, then 26/11 and 13/7 incidents would not have happened.

“We are very happy with the verdict. We are now waiting for it to be implemented,” he said.

“The truth has come out before the world. I request the government to implement the sentence,” he mentioned.

“Had Afzal Guru been hanged 10 years ago, maybe 26/11 and 13/7 wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

“All Indians are awaiting the moment when Kasab will be hanged,” Ombale said.

Kasab clever & shrewd, kills without a twinge of conscience: SC

ajmal-amir-kasab-photo-terrorist-going-to-be-h...

ajmal-amir-kasab-photo-terrorist-going-to-be-hanged-image-india-attacked.jpg copy (Photo credit: Shekhar_Sahu)

Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab is “quite clever and shrewd” and killed without “the slightest twinge of conscience” said the Supreme Court today, dismissing his plea for leniency on purported ground that he was brain washed by Lashkar-e-Toiba and acted like a robot.

“We are unable to accept the submission that the appellant was a mere tool in the hands of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. He joined the Lashkar-e-Toiba around December 2007 and continued as its member till the end, despite a number of opportunities to leave it.

This shows his clear and unmistakable intention to be a part of the organisation and participate in its designs,” said a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam.

“It is true that he is not educated but he is a very good and quick learner, has a tough mind and strong determination. He is also quite clever and shrewd,” it further said.

The court said Kasab has many times described himself as a patriotic Pakistani and has no remorse for waging war against India.

“Even after his arrest, he regarded himself as a ‘watan parast,’ a patriotic Pakistani at war with this country. Where is the question of his being brain-washed or acting under remote control? We completely disagree that the appellant was acting like an automaton. During the past months while we lived through this case, we have been able to make a fair assessment of the appellant’s personality,” the bench said.

“Unfortunately, he is wholly remorseless and any feeling of pity is unknown to him. He kills without the slightest twinge of conscience,” the bench said.

Kasab verdict an important milestone: Crime Branch

The Mumbai Crime Branch, which probed the 26/11 terror attack case, has termed as the “important milestone” the Supreme Court verdict upholding death sentence of Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab.

“The Supreme Court’s judgement is an important milestone in fight against terrorism,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy told a press conference.

On the role of Pakistan, the crime branch chief said, “Abu Jundal’s interrogation further reveals role of Pakistan in exporting terror to our country and his links with LeT”.

Jundal, suspected to be one of the key 26/11 handlers, was deported to India by Saudi Arabia and is currently in the police custody in connection with the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case.

“Crime Brnach is collecting very strong evidence against Jundal,” Roy said.

“Those martyrs who laid down their lives to nab Kasab should be given a tribute today,” he said.

“Without them (martyrs) nabbing Kasab and his conviction would not have been possible and those behind the terror strikes exposed,” Roy said.

SOURCE : PRESS TRUST OF INDIA

 

 

Bail Granted for A.Raja in 2G Spectrum Case


Over 15 months after his arrest, former telecom minister A Raja was on Tuesday granted bail by a Delhi court in the 2G spectrum case.

“The bail application is allowed,” Special CBI Judge O P Saini said. The court granted bail to the DMK MP on a personal bond of Rs 20 lakh and two sureties of the same amount.

The court while granting bail imposed conditions on Raja that he will not visit Tamil Nadu without its prior permission and will not go to the office of the Department of Telecom (DoT).

The court, in its 14-page bail order, also said that Raja would not try to influence any witnesses while on bail. Raja was arrested on February 2, 2011.

Reacting to the news, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa said the 2G scam case was getting diluted.

Meanwhile, the DMK welcomed the decision. “We welcome the court’s verdict and are hopeful that he will come out and prove his innocence,” DMK leader Tiruchi Siva said.

Asked if Raja would attend Parliament or do party work, Siva said that he will take part in activities as per conditions laid by the court for his bail. Siva said that some DMK leaders may visit the jail at the time of the release of the former telecom minister.

The court, while granting bail to 49-year-old Raja, said all the co-accused in the case have already been granted bail and his further detention would not serve any purpose.

“In the end considering the progress of the trial, period of the custody of the accused and the fact that all other accused have been released on bail, I am of the opinion that further detention of the accused would not serve any purpose and for these reasons, I am inclined to admit the applicant/ accused (Raja) to bail,” the special judge said.

On the apprehension of the CBI that if granted bail Raja may influence witnesses and tamper with evidence, the court said it addressed them by imposing conditions and restrictions on the accused. The court noted that entire evidence in the case was documentary and was in its custody.

“Moreover, this apprehension of the prosecution (that Raja may influence the witnesses and tamper with the evidence) can be addressed by imposing conditions and restrictions on the accused.

“Furthermore, almost entire evidence in the case is documentary in nature and the same is in the custody of the court,” the judge said. The court also directed Raja to surrender his passport as a prerequisite for bail.

Raja, who has remained in judicial custody for over 15 months since his arrest, had sought bail on the ground of parity as other 13 co-accused have already secured bail either from the Supreme Court, the Delhi high court or the trial court.

Raja has alleged the case against him is “false and fabricated” and “not sustainable in law.”

The CBI had vehemently opposed Raja’s bail, saying he could not be released on the ground of parity as the charges levelled against him were of serious nature. The agency has alleged that DMK-run Kalaignar TV had received Rs 200 crore as bribe from Shahid Balwa‘s DB Group through a circuitous route as a quid pro quo for favours shown by Raja in spectrum allocation.

The agency has also claimed that during the probe, it had come to light that Raja and others had received a bribe of another Rs 200 crore from certain companies under its scanner in connection with the spectrum scam.

The CBI had raised questions on Raja’s alleged links with Mauritius-based Delphi Investment Ltd, in which Reliance Telecom Ltd had allegedly transferred its shares and said if released on bail at this stage, he might tamper with evidence.

Raja had sought bail, saying the Supreme Court, while granting bail to former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, had not distinguished the case of public servant from that of others. He had submitted that he and Behura were facing similar charges of abetment, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

Raja’s counsel had submitted that as his client was no longer a Union cabinet minister, he could not tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses.

Besides Raja, his private secretary R K Chandolia, Behura, DMK MP Kanimozhi, corporate honchos — Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group’s MD Gautam Doshi, ADAG group President Surendra Pipara and Senior Vice President Hari Nair, Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka–are facing trial in the case.

The court has also put on trial Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Director of Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd Karim Morani and Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal.

Besides these 14 persons, three telecom firms – Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd, are also facing trial in the case.

Raja and others have been charged for the offence of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption besides criminal breach of trust that entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Source: PTI

2G: SC Refuses to Grant 400 Days to Centre for Licence Auction


The Supreme Court refused to grant 400 days to the government to complete the process of fresh auctioning of the 2G spectrum licences but extended the deadline for it from June 2 to August 31, 2012.

A bench of justices G S Singvhi and K S Radhakrishnan also said the existing licences for 2G spectrum will continue to be operational till September 7, 2012.

“In our view, it will be just and proper to partially accept the averments made in the application (by the Centre).

“Accordingly, the time specified for conducting the auction and grant of licences is extended upto August 31, 2012,” said the bench.

The bench also said its February 2 order cancelling 122 licences, allocated during the tenure of A Raja, will remain operational.

The bench made it clear that it was not going to accept the Centre’s prayer for allowing it 400 days to complete the process of auctioning radio waves.

The bench was hearing the Centre’s application, seeking clarification of its direction in the February 2, 2012 judgement which had fixed June 2 as the deadline, when the 122 2G spectrum licenses, issued in 2008, would stand quashed.

The court had asked the Centre to complete the process of fresh actioning by June 2.

During the hearing, Attorney General G E Vahanvati tried to explain the practical difficulties and implication of the apex court order, which had asked the government to complete the entire exercise of fresh auctioning by June 2.

Vahanvati also appraised the bench about the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India‘s (TRAI) recommendation which were announced yesterday.
Source: PTI

Supreme Court orders PVT schools to pay a 25 % quota allowing some of the country’s poorest children to attend


In a majority verdict that spelt out the private sector‘s obligation towards society, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, on Thursday.

The law mandates the provision of 25 per cent free seats for children from the economically weaker section even in private unaided schools uniformly across the country.

The ruling came on a number of petitions that private unaided schools had filed before the apex court, challenging the constitutional validity of the law on the ground that it infringed upon their fundamental right to carry on a business or trade of their choice.

 
The law mandates the provision of 25 per cent free seats for children from the economically weaker section even in private unaided schools uniformly across the countryThe law mandates the provision of 25 per cent free seats for children from the economically weaker section even in private unaided schools uniformly across the country

They had contended that instead of overhauling the functioning of educational institutions run by it, the government was passing the buck to private schools.

The SC Bench comprising Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan decided in a 2:1 verdict that the law would be applicable even to private educational institutions. Justice Kapadia and Justice Kumar observed that the right to education placed ‘an affirmative burden on all stakeholders in our society’.

Though the majority verdict carved out an exception only for unaided minority schools, Justice Radhakrishnan, in his minority judgment, said no obligation could be put on any unaided school in the private sector.

The heads of a number of private schools in the NCR said they supported the overall aim of inclusive education, but voiced their concern about the effect RTE would have on the schooling system. Arun Kapur, director of Vasant Valley School, welcomed the judgment, saying: ‘One needs to note that the Supreme Court has given a split verdict on the issue.

‘The majority judgment is silent on a lot of points that have been discussed in detail by Justice Radhakrishnan in his dissenting opinion.’

 
The verdict stated that no obligation could be put on any unaided school in the private sectorThe verdict stated that no obligation could be put on any unaided school in the private sector

Highlighting one such instance, he said: ‘The minority judgment states that provisions regarding the proof of age, denial of admission and age-appropriate admission are directional and not mandatory, and the majority judgment says nothing about this.

Presuming that the minority judgment prevails on issues that the majority has chosen to remain silent on, I think the verdict provides great clarity in areas that were causing a lot of concern to the private schools.’ Govt has to pay The 2009 Act envisages free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years of age in a neighbourhood school.

The law sought to involve the private sector and had even made it mandatory for unaided schools to fill 25 per cent seats with children from the weaker sections of society. In the case of unaided schools, the government was, however, under an obligation to reimburse the expenditure incurred by them to the extent of the state’s own per-child allocation for education.

Kapur, while supporting 25 per cent reservation for poor students, expressed concern over how the government was going to calculate this rate of reimbursement for private schools. He also pointed out that the verdict had put an equal onus on the government to improve its quality of education. ‘The government has to meet its own quality parameters laid down in the Act.

If it can do that, the landscape of education in the country will change completely,’ he said. The apex court, too, conceded that the primary obligation to provide free and compulsory education to children aged between 6 and 14 years lay with the state. At the same time, the SC asserted that the state itself could determine by law the manner in which this obligation would be discharged.

 
A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, on ThursdayA three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, on Thursday

Significantly, Justice Radhakrishnan said Article 21A used the expression ‘such manner’, which meant the manner in which the state had to discharge its constitutional obligation and not simply offload those obligations on unaided educational institutions. Ameeta Wattal, principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road, expressed a similar view as Kapur’s: ‘At the end of the day, the judgment also puts a large onus on the state.

It is imperative that the government put its house in order…Ultimately, private schools are few and far between; they can’t be held responsible for the education of the country.’

Though the apex court gave a verdict that vindicated the government’s stand on free and compulsory education, a circumspect human resource development minister Kapil Sibal noted that litigation in court ‘should never be looked as a victory or defeat, especially when the government is involved’.

 
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Addressing the media, he said: ‘The Supreme Court has made sure that the legislation is seen from the point of view of the child and not educational institutions.

‘This clarity was much needed and now we can finally move forward.’ While delivering the judgment, the court specified that apart from government schools, the law would also apply to private sector aided non-minority and minority schools and unaided non-minority schools.

Even as day scholars in schools and orphanages, comprising both day scholars and boarders, would have to conform to it, the law won’t apply to boarding schools. No way out The verdict brings into force the RTE Act with immediate effect and would apply to admissions in the 2012-13 academic session.

Therefore, private schools in the Capital will have to offer free education to children from the neighbourhood, whose households earn less than Rs 1 lakh per year.

 
all about the rte act.jpg

‘I personally feel that, as an inclusive setup, there is no problem with it…One needs to give such students a little more input and a little more help,’ Dr Usha Ram, principal of Laxman Public School, said. ‘This allows us to look after them from the very beginning, if we also get some reimbursement from the government.’

‘If the government doesn’t support the schools, there will be resentment from fee-paying parents,’ Wattal said.

‘The government has to realise that it has to hold the hands of the schools, because a school has to keep growing…and the moment the fee is raised, it’s looked at aggressively.’ Modern School Barakhamba Road’s Lata Vaidyanathan also insisted that the government should make efforts to help all schools adapt to the new standards.

Kapil Sibal downplays the government’s ‘victory’

Even though the apex court gave a verdict that vindicated the government’s stand on free and compulsory education, Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday chose to downplay the victory.

He welcomed the judgment upholding the constitutional validity of the Right to Education Act, but was careful enough to add that litigation in court ‘should never be looked as a victory or defeat, especially when the government is involved’.

‘A legislation of this nature, which has a long-term impact and brings about far reaching changes, is usually tested in the court of law.

 
Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal

‘The Supreme Court has made sure that the legislation is seen from the point of view of the child and not the educational institutions. This clarity was very much needed and now we can finally move forward,’ he said at a press briefing.

A consortium of private schools headed by the Society for Unaided Private Schools in Rajasthan had approached the apex court questioning the validity of the Act on the ground that it impinged on their rights to run their institutions without governmental interference.

On Thursday, the court ruled that the Act applies to government and unaided private schools, except unaided private minority schools. However, according to the ministry officials, it will apply to many minority schools as well because most of them get grants or are government-aided.

On private schools threatening to hike the fee because of the greater financial burden (on account of educating students from weaker sections for free), Sibal said: ‘The society will have to share the responsibility of looking out for kids from the weaker sections, especially those schools which have large financial reserves.’

Authors :  Gyanant Singh and Ritika Chopra