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Thursday, December 22, 2011

AMU – The rot within

Note: For complete article please visit "AMU – The rot within" By Ehtasham Khan,

In a meeting of the Academic Council held about a fortnight ago to discuss the entrance exam of the medical college, Aligarh Muslim University [AMU] vice chancellor Prof P K Abdul Azis reportedly hounded a senior professor out of the room. The professor had objected to a decision being taken by the vice chancellor. None of about a dozen senior professors sitting there objected to this behaviour.

In AMU, this autocratic and feudal style of functioning is a rule, not exception. ……
But how come one individual like Prof Azis be able to manipulate everything as per his convenience in this age of information, vigilance, alert media and active judiciary. The rot implies deep into the feudal culture of AMU…….

Syed Hamid, a person of international repute, has kept himself silent in the last five years even as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the judicial enquiry indicted...... Syed Hamid writes long essays in Urdu newspapers as soon as a VC leaves office. However, he maintains a comfortable silence, whenever corruptions are quite evident in the University.

Another important mute spectator is the former Chancellor of AMU Justice A M Ahmadi who was the former Chief Justice of India. Even Justice Ahmadi did not mince a word when the entire national media cried of the high-handedness and arbitrary actions of Prof Azis – from illegal termination of Prof Siras (who ultimately died) for having a different sexual orientation, to rusticating students who filed RTIs and exposed rampant corruption in AMU…..

Ray of hope: As the elite have almost been co-opted in power brokering, one can be quite hopeful of some students and teachers who have been fighting a solitary battle for the last five years. Despite victimisation, they have been filing RTIs and now even approached the court. The coming month would be crucial for AMU as it would set the agenda for another five years. Nobody knows what is in store.

Note: For complete article please visit "AMU – The rot within" By Ehtasham Khan,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Police Knocks on RTI Applicants Door

An RTI applicant Yusf Khan is reportedly being harassed by the Public Works Department (PWD) of UP Govt in Aligarh with the help of local police. The RTI activist had sought information related to horrible condition of rural roads and expenses incurred in their construction for 2009-10. He had appended a BPL Ration Card along with RTI application which the administration is contesting is "fake". It is to be noted that the information seeker claims that he is regularly being supplied ration and other items since 2006 on the same BPL Card. The Public Information Officer (PIO) instead of replying to queries, which was his duty, thought it proper to approach the police so as to harass the information seeker and warned his to desist from asking such questions.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Problem is Judiciary: Sign this letter for Chief Justice of India, High Courts & Others

Dear All,

For 99.99 percent Indians, seeking judicial remedies is impossible. Going to court is full of hurdles, such as:

Terribly expensive lawyers
Tareekh pe tareekh i.e. endless adjournments
Stay Orders for flimsy reasons
Difficult and time-consuming court procedures
Slavish court language from the colonial era
Frequent court vacations that breaks the flow of justice and adds to the delay

We all know how the judiciary nullifies many administrative and quasi-judicial processes. For example, civic bodies are almost helpless to demolish illegal structures and evict encroachers because courts routinely stay the demolition and eviction notices without applying their mind to the long-term consequences. Numerous well-reasoned orders of Information Commissioners are rendered ineffective by Stay Orders every month.

But we dare not give the judges any feedback. Why? Because we are afraid of being jailed for contempt of court. We fear the unquestioned authority of the judges and their power to harm us, either directly or through the cases we are involved in.

See the irony: We are not afraid of criticizing the Prime Minister and the President. But we tremble at the thought of speaking the indisputable truth to judges.

Friends, let us stop being afraid. Let us speak up and clearly state the inconvenient truth. Let us ask the judiciary to reform itself. Please remember the courts exist only to serve the common man; there is no other reason for their existence. As they are consistently failing to serve the common man, it is time for We The People to point out the areas of failure, and ask for immediate changes.

Eight of us, including five advocates practicing in the Supreme Court, Delhi and Bombay High Courts, have decided to speak out. On 25th December, we will dispatch hard copies of this letter to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of each and every High Court, President of the Bar Association of all High Courts, the Union Law Minister, and the Law Commission of India.

The below letter draft has been settled after many revisions, with key inputs from Supreme Court advocate Abdul Rasheed Qureshi and Bombay High Court advocate Ameet Mehta.

We urge you to join us by being signatories to this letter. Please send your email address and contact number for inclusion as signatories to .

Warm Regards,
98215 88114


25th December 2011

Hon. Justice S H Kapadia
Chief Justice of India
c/o The Registrar
Supreme Court of India
Tilak Marg, New Delhi-110 001

CC to:
Hon. Chief Justices of All High Courts
c/o The Registrar General

President, Bar Association
High Courts of all states

Shri Salman Khurshid
Union Minister for Law & Justice
South Block, New Delhi

Hon Justice P V Reddy
Chairman, 19th Law Commission
2nd floor, the Law Institute Building
Opposite Supreme Court
New Delhi 110 001.

You have placed Judiciary beyond the reach of the Common Man,
Especially Senior Citizens.
Please Remedy this Situation.

Dear Sir,

We The People of India are addressing ourselves to you as the administrative head of India’s Judiciary, and not in your judicial capacity. Sir, before you retire in a few months, we hope you will apply your wisdom as an enlightened administrative reformer and do away with some archaic judicial traditions that are harming our nation.

Sir, victims of the high-handed ways of the judiciary, such as defendants and petitioners, cannot speak out. They fear that your brother judges will harm their cause by issuing some arbitrary orders. We are speaking on their behalf.

India’s judicial machinery is no longer available to senior citizens. No senior citizen can file a case, as it is unlikely to reach final judgement stage before 15-20 years by when he/she will be senile or dead.

Common people – even reasonably wealthy ones -- cannot go to court because it requires uncontrollable expenses of lakhs of rupees, which drain away their life-savings.

Over the decades, there has been a gross failure in administration of the judicial machinery. Many judges are pointing this out in their speeches at various forums. These speeches only remain good to hear, as nothing gets done afterwards.

The zealously guarded doctrine of Independence of Judiciary has ensured inability of successive governments and parliament to reform our judiciary. Only the judiciary can reform itself. The Supreme Court is the overall court of superintendence. Sir, the administrative powers needed to pull up the socks of the judiciary which are centered on you and you alone. If you don’t do it, nobody can force you to do it. What is worse, nobody can even raise their voice, criticize you for your administrative failure, and threaten to replace you with a more competent administrator, because that would invite Contempt.

Only you, Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, can initiate reforms of our judiciary, and the first step will be for you to candidly admit the judiciary’s flaws, and set out a roadmap with a timetable for change.

Regardless of whether we are currently litigants before any court, all of us are suffering from severe handicaps and frustrations in our daily lives because of the judiciary’s unavailability to us, and lack of the judiciary’s protection. Please heed our voices, because we are aggrieved stakeholders.

Some Problems & Proposed Solutions:

Problem 1: Easy and indefinite Stay Orders. Sir, numerous well-reasoned judgments of lower courts, tribunals and quasi-judicial forums such as RTI Information Commissions are granted Stay for the asking. Various administrative orders and notices for demolition etc. issued by civic authorities, targeting unauthorized and illegal activity, are also indefinitely stayed. It requires great effort to get a Stay vacated. This nullifies various laws, creates a dead end for law enforcement agencies as well as law-abiding citizens, and creates widespread cynicism about lawful methods. Proposed Solution: Firstly, issue a directive that if a matter is stayed by any court, the case should automatically become fast-track. Please give short dates of maximum one-week intervals so that the party that has got a stay order does not enjoy undue benefit of judicial delay. The case should come to finality typically within three months, and in exceptional cases, six months. Secondly, make it mandatory that a stay order shall automatically lapse after six months have passed, so that the beneficiary of the stay does not seek refuge in delaying tactics.

Problem 2: Adjournments for the asking. The proceedings of High Court and all lower courts can be summed up in one Hindi movie phrase: tareekh pe tareekh (date after date). In Sessions and Magistrate’s Courts, the proceedings cannot even be understood. Undertrials and accused parties are summoned every 2-3 months, and sent back with a new date, clueless as to why their hearing did not happen. Their carefully submissions are not heard. Sometimes, if pressed, the court staff give flimsy explanations. Thousands of man-hours of the court, police and general public are being wasted, and as the years pass, memories fade, witnesses turn hostile, and justice becomes meaningless. Only lawyers gain from this ongoing delay. Proposed Solution: Please issue a directive mandating steeply rising penalty on both lawyers and parties for each successive adjournment sought e.g. first adjournment, Rs 2,000 penalty; second adjournment, Rs 5,000; and third and final adjournment, Rs 15,000.

Problem 3: Widely spaced dates. With dates that are sometimes six months apart, litigations drag on for years and decades – sometimes with the undertrial persons in judicial custody, denying them their fundamental right of life and liberty! Proposed Solution: Firstly, issue a directive mandating closely clustered dates of 15-30 days interval, and never more than a total of 10 dates. It is the studied opinion of many advocates that all cases in trial courts, High Courts and Supreme Court can easily be brought to finality in 7 to 10 dates. Secondly, make it mandatory to serve the opponents/respondents notice in advance, eliminating two dates at the outset.

Problem 4: Court of Surprises, not Court of Law. Hiding behind their ill-tempered behavior in court and their powers of Contempt, judges give utterly whimsical interim orders, reliefs and judgments that cannot be upheld by legal reasoning. Many well-reasoned orders and judgments of lower courts are struck down or re-opened by higher courts on flimsy grounds. Such judgments often favour influential or wealthy persons. Proposed Solution: Please set up a judicial audit mechanism to scrutinize suspicious judgments and their reasoning. Judges who do not reason well must be questioned and criticized by their own peers.

Problem 5: Astronomical charges of senior counsels, and network of kickbacks. Senior counsels are charging insane amounts, such as Rs 5-to-20 lakh per appearance. Even if they are merely required to stand up for a moment in court and request adjournment, they charge the full amount. They also charge several lakh rupees for a few minutes of consultation. If they appear in other courts, then the charges run into crores of rupees per appearance. Less-well-known advocates convince their clients to engage such senior counsels, in return of kickbacks. The clerks and juniors of such super-rich legal luminaries “manage” the courts, getting comfortable dates and bench re-assignments for getting “friendly” judges. Their face value and money power ensures even if the case has no merits, “strict” judges listen patiently to lengthy lectures from them before passing an order! Inspired by such senior counsels, lesser known lawyers hike their fees by leaps and bounds, taking justice out of the reach of the common man, and giving an undue advantage to the super-rich. Nowadays, only companies can afford lawyers. Proposed Solution: To make courts affordable to the common man, please impose a reasonable fee-structure on all lawyers practicing in every level of the judiciary, especially the higher judiciary. Those violating the mandatory fee-structure should be debarred from representing clients or appearing in court.

Problem 6: Culture of egotism and sycophancy. Lawyers continually pamper judges’ egos with servile colonial expressions like “Your Lordship”, “Milord”, “Prayers”, “We crave your leave,” “We humbly pray”, and “For this favour we will ever be ever in your debt”. Even court stationery comes with such slavish language, although the citizen is only asking for the rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution, and not begging for out-of-the-way favours. Judges deny justice to lawyers or citizens who resist this culture. Citizens who appear before court as Party-In-Person to represent their own cause are bullied and harried. This promotion of slavishness is a violation of fundamental rights of equality, life and liberty within the premises of the judiciary. Proposed Solution: Please ban such unwholesome language. Please ensure that henceforth, in speech and in writing, all judges are addressed only as ‘Sir’.

Problem 7: Civil contempt of court, giving false evidence, perjury etc. are taken lightly. Although the courts are quick to punish criminal contempt i.e. breach of court propriety, they are not offended when their judgments are disobeyed. Also, they wink at false documents, false evidence and outright lies in court. This gives crooks the upper hand over upright citizens. Proposed Solution: Please set aside a clear time-slot in every court for ensuring implementation of court orders, and taking up issues of false evidence etc.

Problem 8: Colonial practice of lengthy vacations & short working hours. Lower courts work for about 240 days in a year, High Courts for 210 days and Supreme Court for 188 days only i.e. 50% of the year. In summer, the entire judiciary – judges, lawyers, clerks and all – shuts down for 5 to 7 weeks of continuous holidays. The Supreme court goes on vacation from May 10th till June 30th. No other organ of administration takes such a luxury. The working hours per day are as little as 3-4 hours in many courts. In view of the rising pendency of cases, such luxurious working habits are not only unconscionable, but a waste of scarce national resources (the court infrastructure), and a criminal neglect of We The People! Proposed Solution: Firstly, please slash the number of holidays to 60 days, (which is still far more than anybody else takes nowadays, whether in government or in private sector). Secondly, let these vacations not be taken en masse, but in a staggered way so that the entire court does not shut down. Last but not least, please mandate that judges at every level must hear cases in court for at least six hours per day.

Sir, many citizens’ forums have patiently compiled and put across these points for several years, but the judiciary has been ignoring them. Everybody’s patience has reached a limit now.

We hope that before you retire, you will seize the opportunity given to you by your high office for implementing these urgently-needed reforms. And we hope you will frankly voice your intentions and enable right-minded citizens to strengthen your hands.

Yours Sincerely,

1.A Rasheed Qureshi, 7838408078 rasheed1357[at], Advocate, Delhi

2.G R Vora, 9869195785, grvora1[at], Pathologist, Mumbai

3.Krishnaraj Rao, 9821588114, thebravepedestrian[at], Journalist, Mumbai

4.Aires Rodrigues, 9822684372, airesrodrigues1[at], Advocate, Goa

5. Ameet Mehta, 9821283232, ameetvmehta[at], Advocate, Mumbai

6.Aryan Yadav,9717468613, aryanscadvocate[at], Advocate, Delhi

7. Rameez Tauheed, 09891664368, tauheedrameez[at], Engineer, Delhi

8. Vinod Sampat, 9324038095, vinodsampat[at], Advocate, Mumbai

List of mailing addresses of Chief Justices etc. (work in progress):

Saturday, December 10, 2011

CWG Scam: Shunglu Committee Spent Roughly 1 Crore a Month

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had on Oct 25, 2010 appointed a High Level Committee (HLC) under chairmanship of former Comptroller and Auditor General Shri V K Shunglu to look into look into various aspects of corruption and other issues relating to the organizing and conduct of Commonwealth Games 2010. The committee has submitted six reports on broadcasting, Games Village, city infrastructure, Games venues, Organising Committee and main report — Organisation and Conduct of CWG 2010.
The Sunnglu Committee in its various Reports has cited instances of irregularities, procedural lapses, delay in execution of the works, financial loss to the Government, favouring of Contractors, not following the proper procedure in awarding contracts, use of sub standard material and purchase of material at higher cost, irregular appointment of various staff/consultants, lack of supervision/control over the contractors/staff etc. It has in some cases also recommended investigations by various agencies. Apart from the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax authorities are also investigating alleged irregularities. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is also examining various complaints regarding the Games. The other recommendations of the HLC including those related to corrective action are also being examined carefully by the Government in consultation with the Ministries concerned.
In response to RTI query filed by Dr Mohammed Naved Khan , member of RTI Group and who teaches at Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Management Studies & Research, Aligarh Muslim University, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has provided that Shunglu Committee had spent roughly Rs 4 Crores (Rupees 40,000,000) in the first 4 months alone.

Dainik Jagran, National Edition, New Delhi, Dec 10, 2011, Front Page

शुंगलू समिति ने चार माह की जांच में खर्च किए चार करोड़

अलीगढ़, जागरण संवाददाता : राष्ट्रमंडल खेल घोटाले की जांच करने वाली शुंगलू समिति ने चार माह में करीब चार करोड़ खर्च किए थे। एक आरटीआइ अर्जी के जवाब में इसका खुलासा हुआ है। गौरतलब है कि राष्ट्रमंडल खेलों के आयोजन में मनमाने खर्चो और गलत फैसलों की जांच के लिए प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह के आदेश पर वीके शुंगलू की अध्यक्षता में इस समिति का गठन किया गया था। अलीगढ़ मुस्लिम यूनिवर्सिटी (एएमयू) के डिपार्टमेंट ऑफ बिजनेस स्टडीज के फैकल्टी मेंबर और आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता डॉ. नवेद खान ने इस संबंध में सूचना मांगी थी। दैनिक जागरण के पास मौजूद दस्तावेज बताते हैं कि शुंगलू समिति ने चार महीने में करीब चार करोड़ रुपये खर्च किए हैं। कॉमनवेल्थ घोटाले की जांच के लिए कैबिनेट सचिव ने 25 अक्टूबर 2010 को आदेश जारी किए थे। वीके शुंगलू की अध्यक्षता में उच्च स्तरीय समिति बनाई गई थी। सदस्य थे शांतनु कंसुल। कमेटी को जांच का काम पूरा करने के लिए दिल्ली के विज्ञान भवन में दफ्तर दिया गया था। खेल मंत्रालय को हिदायत थी कि वह जांच संबंधी दस्तावेजों को लाने-ले जाने और दूसरी प्रशासनिक जरूरतों में मदद करे। कमेटी ने 24 अक्टूबर को आदेश मिलने के साथ महा-खेल की जांच शुरू की। 23 मार्च तक कमेटी ने तनख्वाह पर 48.07 लाख खर्च किए। कार्यालय पर 14.18 लाख खर्च हुए हैं। सबसे ज्यादा पैसा फूंका गया प्रोफेशनल एक्सपेंसेस (जांच के लिए जुटाए गए संसाधन और सुविधाओं पर खर्च) पर। इसमें तीन करोड़ 39 लाख 32 हजार 250 रुपये खर्च आया है। कमेटी ने अंतरिम रिपोर्ट 29 जनवरी-2011 को दाखिल की थी, जिसके आधार पर केंद्र जांच सीबीआइ को सौंप दी।

Friday, December 9, 2011

Supreme Court: Reveal Answer Sheets to Students

A Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik delivered the judgment in Civil Appeal No. 6454 of 2011 [arising out of SLP ( C) No. 7526/2009 on August 9, 2011] while allowing disclosure of answer sheets of students in public examinations.

Acknowledging that Right to Information is a cherished right and a formidable tool in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring about transparency and accountability, the Supreme Court, said the RTI Act provisions should be enforced strictly and all efforts made to bring to light the necessary information under Section 4 (4) (b) which “relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption.”

Dismissing the oft repeated alibi that the examining bodies held the answer books in their fiduciary capacity, the Bench observed that “Once the examiner has evaluated the answer books, he ceases to have any interest in the evaluation done by him. He does not have any copyright or proprietary right or confidentiality right in regard to the evaluation. Therefore, it cannot be said that the examining body holds the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship, qua the examiner. As no other exemption under Section 8 of the RTI Act is available in respect of evaluated answer books, the examining bodies will have to permit inspection.”

Justices Raveendran and Patnaik while upholding Calcutta High Court order gave the ruling which allows students to see their answer scripts of any professional or educational exam once the result has been declared. However, to protect the safety and identity of the examiners, their details would not be shared with the RTI applicant. The apex court judgment is expected to bring in much needed reforms and transparency in the examination system of the country.