Attend to civic complaints within a month, Madras HC tells govt

Attend to civic complaints within a month, Madras HC tells govt

CHENNAI: Take no more than a month to process and take action on civic petitions and complaints, the Madras high court has told municipal authorities. Noting that the high court had to handle a deluge of cases and dedicate a lot of time for them, the court also directed the state government to take steps to issue a government order directing all its wings to attend to civic complaints within 30 days of receiving them.

“In case, for some reason, additional time is required, the person who has made the representation would be informed in writing,” the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan said recently.

The judges were hearing a PIL that wanted a representation from the Tindivanam Nagara Gingee Road Auto Thozhilalar Nala Sangam on encroachment menace to be disposed of by the Villupuram district administration. K Balu, the counsel for the association, said water bodies were being destroyed and unauthorized constructions were springing up all over the region, but there had been no response from the administration despite complaints.

The first bench, pointing out that several such cases had come up before it for orders, told the government pleader: “There are numerous petitions coming forth before this court arising from allegations of unauthorized construction, misuse of waterways. In effect, the grievance is about municipal functioning. It is, thus, necessary that these grievances are attended to and redressed, provided the grievances are found to be genuine, within a time-bound schedule.”

The government pleader assured the court that the association’s plea would be disposed of within the maximum period of one month. If allegations made in the petition were found to be correct, action in accordance with law would be taken immediately, he said.

The first bench gave a similar directive to the Puducherry government on Wednesday, after advocate A P Suryaprakasam argued a case of destruction of water bodies, tanks and lakes in the Union territory. The case relates to a PIL filed by P Bhaskaran. Bhaskaran said he had sent several representations to the authorities and then met the Puducherry lieutenant governor in September last year, urging them to save water bodies. Since there was no response, he filed the PIL saying his pleas for saving tanks had fallen on deaf ears.



Minnesota Supreme Court rulings curb search and seizure authority

Minnesota Supreme Court rulings curb search and seizure authority

In two unanimous rulings, the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday curbed law enforcers’ ability to search and seize personal possessions.

The more significant ruling, written by Justice Christopher Dietzen, extended U.S. constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure to Minnesota civil, not just criminal, matters.

The second ruling determined that police had illegally impounded and searched a properly parked vehicle.

Teresa Nelson, a lawyer for the ACLU of Minnesota, praised the rulings as having shored up Fourth Amendment rights. “Both of these decisions are a check on police authority,” she said.

In both cases, police found drugs while searching vehicles whose impoundments were later found to be illegal. Evidence obtained during such searches can’t be used in court. That legal principle — the so-called exclusionary rule — has long covered criminal and civil proceedings under U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The state high court, however, had yet to explicitly decide whether the rule applied to civil cases in Minnesota.

Now it has.

The rulings reversed lower court decisions and sent the cases back for further action.

The first case was that of Daniel Garcia-Mendoza. In March 2012, he was stopped by Plymouth police while driving 63 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone. Police had checked the vehicle’s registration and found it registered to Ricardo Cervantes-Perez, an alias for Garcia-Mendoza.

When an officer asked for a driver’s license, Garcia-Mendoza presented a Mexican ID bearing the alias. He was ticketed for not having a driver’s license. The officer then had the vehicle searched and towed because it was creating a potential traffic hazard, the ruling said.

During a search of the vehicle, an officer found methamphetamine. Garcia-Mendoza was arrested. Officers found $611 in cash on him.

Garcia-Mendoza then filed a state civil claim seeking to regain possession of the vehicle and his cash.

In the following couple of months, he was indicted and pleaded guilty to a federal crime for distributing controlled substances dating back to a December 2011 incident. As part of the plea, he agreed to forfeit property obtained from or used to commit his crimes.

When Garcia-Mendoza returned to District Court to challenge the seizure of his cash and property, the judge said that the traffic stop was unconstitutional but the forfeiture could stand because he had agreed to it in his federal plea deal.

The case then went to the state Appeals Court. There, Garcia-Mendoza’s attorney argued that because the stop was illegal, police shouldn’t have been able to seize the property. He cited the exclusionary rule.

The Appeals Court disagreed, saying that the legal principle applies only to criminal proceedings, not civil ones such as Garcia-Mendoza’s forfeiture case.

But in Wednesday’s ruling, the state high court cited a 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision for extending the exclusionary rule to civil matters.

The ACLU of Minnesota had supported Garcia-Mendoza’s argument that the rule should apply in civil cases as a balance to “perverse incentives” for law enforcers when a profit motive is injected into police seizure of private property. It referenced the notorious case of the Metro Gang Strike Force, which repeatedly abused its forfeiture authority and cashed in on the proceeds from 2005 to 2009.



Uttarakhand governor refuses to quit, challenges Modi govt in SC

Uttarakhand governor refuses to quit, challenges Modi govt in SC

NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented step, Uttarakhand governor Aziz Qureshi on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court questioning the Narendra Modi government’s nudge to quit the constitutional post.

Many governors, appointed during the UPA regime, resigned after the NDA government’s message to quit delivered through the home secretary. But Aziz decided to take on the Modi government, questioning the home secretary’s “audacity” in calling him up and asking him to put in his papers.

Aziz’s petition is listed before a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha on Thursday for urgent hearing. In his petition, the Uttarakhand governor termed the home secretary’s telephone call as “rank insubordination” and “audacious”.

He said under Article 156(1) of the Constitution, “the governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President” and that he would hold office for five years if he continued to enjoy the confidence of the President.

Aziz said if at all someone should ask him to quit, it could only be the President and no one else. The governor, as has been consistently ruled by the Supreme Court, was not an employee of the Union government, he said.

He cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in 2010, when it had decided a petition by BJP MP B P Singhal challenging the UPA government’s 2004 decision to remove Vishnu Kant Shastri (UP), Babu Parmanand (Haryana), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat) and Kidarnath Sahni (Goa).

The court in its May 2010 order had said governors were not employees of the Union government to warrant removal on the ground of loss of “confidence” in them.

The Constitution bench said, “While the President need not disclose or inform the cause for his removal to the governor, it is imperative that a cause must exist. If we do not proceed on that premise, it would mean that the President, on the advice of the council of ministers, may make any order which may be manifestly arbitrary or whimsical or mala fide.

“Therefore, while no cause or reason be disclosed or assigned for removal by exercise of such prerogative power, some valid cause should exist for the removal. Therefore, while we do not accept the contention that an order under Article 156 is not justiciable, we accept the contention that no reason need be assigned and no cause need be shown and no notice need be issued to the governor before removing a governor.”

The apex court had said if a governor’s removal was challenged, it would always presume there was a compelling reason for such action. It had said the onus was on the aggrieved person to show that the removal was arbitrary. Only after he established arbitrariness of removal would a court seek records from the government, it had said.

Those who quit after the Modi government took over include B V Wanchoo of Goa, B L Joshi of UP, M K Narayanan of West Bengal and Shekhar Dutt of Chhattisgarh. The President had withdrawn pleasure and sacked Kamala Beniwal after her transfer from Gujarat to Mizoram.



Absconding cop seeks 15 days time to appear before Jaipur police

Absconding cop seeks 15 days time to appear before Jaipur police

The suspended assistant inspector general of police (AIG) Anil Kumar Mishra, who has been accused of rape by a Jaipur-based woman, has sent a letter to Rajasthan police seeking 15 days to appear before them.

“We received a letter from Mishra a week ago, but we are still searching for him. We have collected evidence from the hotels and police officers mess where Mishra had stayed along with the woman. However, we have to visit few more places,” said Harish Rathore, station house officer of Mahila Police station (South), Jaipur.

According to Jaipur police sources, Mishra was recently traced to a hotel in Jaipur and a police team carried out a raid, but he managed to give police the slip.

Sources added that a team of Jaipur police would soon visit Madhya Pradesh to collect more information about Mishra. Earlier, a team of Jaipur police had visited Bhopal and Indore and collected information from the Police Officers’ Mess where the victim was allegedly raped by Mishra.

Mishra, a 1995 batch state police service (SPS) officer who was posted at CID as AIG, went missing after a rape case was filed against him. The victim, a 40-year-old woman form Jaipur, had accused Mishra of repeatedly raping and blackmailing her. Mishra had allegedly promised to help in getting her husband released from jail who was booked by the police in a fraud case.


CBI files progress report in Badaun case

CBI files progress report in Badaun case

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday filed its third progress report in connection with investigation into the Badaun case before the Allahabad High Court in a sealed cover.

The Badaun case, in which two cousins were allegedly raped and murdered and later hanged from a tree in Badaun district, is being investigated by CBI.

After examining the progress report, a division bench comprising Justice Dilip Gupta and Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi returned it to CBI’s counsel Anurag Khanna.

Hearing a PIL filed by Stree Mukti Sangthan, the court made it clear that mere pendency of this PIL shall not prevent the CBI from submitting its report under Section 173 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) after completing the investigation. Under Section 173 of CrPC, either chargesheet is filed or final report is submitted after concluding the investigation.

The court passed the order when an affidavit was filed by CBI on Thursday, stating that that 90 days period for submitting the report under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 would expire on August 25. The court directed to list the PIL on September 19 for next hearing.

The PIL was filed regarding the incident of rape and hanging of two cousins in Badaun on May 27. The petitioner had alleged that the role of the state in Badaun case is not fair, therefore, the investigation be transferred to the CBI.

Earlier at one stage on June 11, the court while taking a note of increasing cases of crime against women in the state, directed that it would monitor the investigation of Badaun rape case.

The court had also directed the DGP to submit a report regarding number of crimes against women lodged in various police stations in the state in the past six weeks and also progress report of investigations.

At another stage, in compliance of the previous direction of the court, the state government had filed an affidavit and informed that as many as 4,300 cases of crime against women were reported in the state within a period of last six weeks. The affidavit also disclosed the action taken by it in the Badaun case.