Can’t blame Railways for Stolen Luggage unless Booked: NCDRC

NEW DELHI: The apex consumer commission has refused to grant relief to a woman who lost her suitcase while travelling in a train, saying the Railways is not responsible unless the luggage was booked and a receipt was issued.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) set aside the lower foras’ orders asking Railways to compensate the woman, a West Bengal resident, for the alleged theft onboard Lokmanya Tilak Shalimar Express train in 2011.

The NCDRC set aside Chhattisgarh state commission’s order that had upheld a district forum’s decision asking it to pay Rs 1.30 lakh to the passenger for the loss of luggage.

The apex consumer commission agreed to the contention of the Railways that as per Section 100 of the Railway Act, 1989, it shall not be responsible for the loss, destruction, damage, or non-delivery of any luggage, unless a railway servant has booked the luggage and given a receipt.

“We do not find any deficiency in service on the part of the Railway officials. The order passed by both the fora below clearly perverse in the eyes of law and, thus, are set aside,” a Bench headed by Presiding Member B C Gupta said.

The commission said no negligence was attributable to any specific employee. “No booking was made with the Railways and hence, the provisions of Section 100 of the Railways Act, are applicable in the matter,” it added.

According to the complaint, Mamta Agrawal was travelling in the train on September 5, 2011, with a suitcase containing articles worth Rs.3 lakh consisting of three gold chains, two diamond rings and a simple ring along with Rs 15,000 cash and clothes of children. It alleged that when the train arrived near Rourkela, some miscreants stole her luggage.

The Railways, however, contended that since the passenger was carrying the baggage with her without booking it, she herself was responsible.

.

CEC recommends transportation of Iron Ore by Rail in next 2 years to protect environment

If the proposed measures are implemented, it will result in transportation of at least 70% of iron ore through Railways/conveyor belts in these districts

BALLARI: Transportation of iron ore from Ballari, Chitradurga and Tumkuru districts by road is likely to end in the next two years with the Supreme Court constituted Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommending its transportation through conveyor belts/railways to prevent environmental degradation.

M.K. Jiwrajka, former member secretary of CEC, has submitted a 57-page report to the apex court urging it to direct mining lessees and steel plants to install conveyer systems within 21 months, including the time required for right of way and Forest (Conservation) Act approvals. “If the proposed measures are implemented, it will result in transportation of at least 70% of iron ore through conveyor belts/railways in these districts.

Though production will gradually increase from 29 million metric tonnes to 40 million metric tonnes in the next five years, the ore that will be transported by road will be much less than the present level. Thus, the environmental degradation caused by transportation of ore by road will be contained,” said Mr Jiwarjka stated in his report submitted to the court on August 22.

Mr Jiwrajka, a retired IFS officer, who dealt with Karnataka’sillegal mining case  on behalf of the CEC in the apex court, said that the proposed scheme of transportation would provide for automatic and in-built safeguards to ensure that the Rs 15,000 crore socio-economic ameliorative measures in the mining ravaged areas under the Karnataka Mining Environment Restoration Corporation were implemented. He said that JSW Steel Ltd., the largest buyers of iron ore, should construct closed covered conveyer system between Nandllhalli to its plant and linked conveyor systems to transport at least 15 MMT of iron ore.  The apex court is expected to take this matter for hearing on September 14.

Chitheri Train Accident: Loco Pilot gets 10-year Jail for Accident that claimed lives of 12 and injured 71 in 2011

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

VELLORE: The principal district and sessions court on Monday sentenced a loco pilot to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for causing a train accident in 2011 that claimed the lives of 12 persons and injured 71.

A mobile phone-wielding loco pilot, whose train rammed a stationary rake in Chitheri killing 12 people in 2011, has been found guilty of committing culpable homicide, and sentenced to 10-year imprisonment.

Vellore principal district sessions judge S Ananthi convicted loco pilot A Rajkumar who drove the Chennai Beach-Vellore MEMU on the fateful day, under two counts and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for maximum period of 10 years. Delivering the verdict, principal district and sessions judge sentenced A. Rajkumar, the then loco pilot of Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) Train no. 66017 – Chennai Beach to Vellore Cantonment, to 10 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code.

According to A Dilli Babu, public prosecutor, a total of 74 witnesses were examined in the case, and 12 material evidence too were submitted. This included the mobile phone of the loco pilot and speedometer of the train engine.

Rajkumar had made phone call to a fellow loco-pilot, Ravi, when he was in-charge of the train. During the conversation, he told Ravi that he had to return from Vellore to Chennai the same night and hence he was rushing to Katpadi. During the course of the conversation, the phone call got disconnected and then it became not reachable, Ravi had depose during the trial.

Police stated that the train was being driven at 97 kmph, as against the permitted speed of 75 kilometres per hour.

During trial, police also produced the call details of Rajkumar’s mobile number, which clearly showed that he was speaking on the mobile while driving the train, which is against rules as per the Railway Board orders. While on the call, he missed the signal and dashed against the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train.

On September 13, 2011, the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit-66017 driven by Rajkumar rammed into a stationary train Arakkonam-Katpadi Passenger at Chitheri at 9.24 pm. Twelve persons died, while 71 were grievously injured in the accident. Of the 12 deceased, 11 had died on the spot, while another person died at the hospital. The then station master of Walajah Road station Krish Kumar, 31, was one among the deceased. He had gone to Arakkonam to buy gifts for his son’s first birthday.

Sessions judge Ananthi sentenced that Rajkumar must serve 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for offences punishable under Section 304 (ii) of IPC besides five years and Rs 1 lakh fine under Section 3 of Tamil Nadu Public Property Prevention of Damage and Loss Act, 1992 read with 151 of Railways Act. Though he was also booked under section 308 of IPC, he was acquitted of the charge. He will serve the imprisonment concurrently. If he failed to pay the fine, he will have to undergo one year imprisonment. He was acquitted of charges filed under Section 308 (attempt to culpable homicide) of the IPC. He will undergo the imprisonment concurrently.

“As per stipulated rules, the train should ply at 75 kmph. Instead, the train was plying at 97 kmph,” he said.

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

High Court directs IRCTC to re-assess the Bids received for setting up Water Plants

NEW DELHI: While observing that the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) acted in a “capricious manner” by rejecting a company’s claim for a tender to select a developer for setting up and operating water plants, the Delhi High Court (HC) has directed the corporation to reevaluate the bids and take a final decision in the matter.

The directions came after the ABC Beverages Private Limited filed a petition in the court, stating that its claim for the tender was rejected just because a notarial stamp on certain documents was missing. The tender was then given to the Surya Infrastructure Private Limited, despite certain lapses.

A Bench of Justices Ravindra Bhat and SP Garg held that “the rejection was meted out in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner, since Surya was made aware of similar discrepancies for their correction, after the submission of bids”.

“The distinction sought to be made between the filings in the petitioner’s documents and those of Surya, in the opinion of the court, is artificial,” the Bench said in a judgment, pronounced on July 28.

The court held that, at least, in the case of the petitioner, only the notary stamp was missing, which does not undermine the effectiveness of the documents. In the case of the winner, however, requisite documents were not on record, which was ignored by the tender committee, stating that these were merely “ancillary”, documents, given that the registration number of the company was disclosed.

“By not giving due and equal consideration to the petitioner while considering their technical bid, as was given to other bidders, the IRCTC has acted in a capricious manner resulting in discrimination. The court is of the opinion that the rejection of the petitioner’s bid in the circumstances was unjustified,” the Bench ruled.

Rather than setting aside the entire tender process, however, the court held that the course would be to correct the decision making and open the financial bid of the petitioner (ABC Beverages) and decide as to who shall be awarded the contract. The court then directed the procedure to be completed within three weeks.

Karnataka High Court issues Notice to Railway Board on plea to restore Konkan Railway its original jurisdiction

While KRCL was created and its jurisdiction was fixed by Parliament, the Railway Board, without any authority of law or parliamentary nod or the approval of the Union Cabinet, unilaterally decided to exclude the 24-km line between Thokur and Mangaluru from its jurisdiction and bring it under Southern Railway’s jurisdiction – terming it fraud played on investors of KRCL Bonds. The petitioners sought the Court’s direction to restore KRCL’s original jurisdiction stating that Railway Board has no authority to change Parliament’s decision.

BANGALORE: The issue of getting Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) its original jurisdiction, up to Mangaluru Junction (Kankanady), gained momentum after the High Court of Karnataka recently ordered issue of notices to the Union government and others in a public interest writ petition.

A Division Bench comprising Raghavendra Chauhan and K.S. Dinesh Kumar passed the order in a review petition filed by Rajeev Gaonkar of Kumta and Hanumanth Kamath of Mangaluru, according to petitioners’ advocate R.G. Kolle. The petitioners have sought to revive an earlier writ petition which was disposed of by the court in 2014 on technical grounds.

While KRCL was created and its jurisdiction was fixed by Parliament, the Railway Board, without any authority of law or parliamentary nod or the approval of the Union Cabinet, unilaterally decided to exclude the 24-km line between Thokur and Mangaluru from its jurisdiction and bring it under Southern Railway’s jurisdiction, the petitioners said. Terming it fraud played on investors of KRCL bonds, the petitioners sought the court’s direction to restore KRCL’s original jurisdiction. The copies of the notice issued by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka were sent to Railway Board, PMO, Public Sector Enterprises Board, NITI Aayog and Konkan Railway.

Affected finances

The Railway Board’s decision to exclude the 24-km has severely affected KRCL’s financial health, which has been incurring huge losses every year. New Mangalore Port (NMP), a huge revenue generating centre, falls within the excluded portion, from which the Southern Railway is getting huge income at present. Had NMP been under KRCL, the corporation would have repaid all its debts and been in a healthy position to provide a host of passenger amenities, they said. The petitioners pointed out that during the November 16, 1993 public issue of KRCL bonds, the Railway Ministry had clearly stated that KRCL would build and operate a 760-km broadgauge line between Roha (excluding) in Maharashtra and Kankanady (including) in Karnataka.

Earlier, the Railway Board had said that KRCL’s jurisdiction would end near Mangaluru Central Railway Station and in 1993, it had stated that KRCL would built and operate the Mangaluru bypass line, from Netravathi Cabin to Kankanady. Participating State governments and the general public believed in these statements, they said.

Things being so, the Railway Board unilaterally on December 20, 1995 excluded the 24-km stretch from Thokur to Kankanady from KRCL’s jurisdiction and brought it under Southern Railway. Ever since the commissioning of the line in January 1998, the corporation is incurring losses.

The petitioners sought directions to bring the 24-km of excluded line under KRCL, make Mangaluru the corporation’s headquarters and reimburse KRCL Rs. 4,000 crore that it lost to Southern Railway all these years.

HC issues notice to Railways on Andhra Cargo Service’s plea

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Railways on a petition alleging that the weighing of goods transported by rail to Karnataka was not proper.

The petition alleged that the ‘in-motion weigh bridge’, by which the Railways weigh the consignments loaded on a wagon, was not properly functioning and indicated overload on many occasions, forcing the transporters to pay a penalty, besides delaying the consignment.

“The overload goods were unloaded and again reweighed at the destination where it was found that the overload as claimed by the railways was false,” the petition, filed by leasing firm Andhra Cargo Service, alleged.

It also said that it becomes “very difficult for the transporter to recover the amount deposited as penalty”.

Advocate Amit Sahni, who appeared for the petitioner, submitted that on earlier occasions, a transporter was allowed to reweigh the consignment only after depositing penalty charges and other dues.

“Issue notice. Counter affidavit be filed within four weeks. Rejoinder, if any, be filed within three weeks thereafter,” a bench of Justice A K Chawla said and posted the matter for hearing on October 11.

Indian Railways biggest government litigant with over 66,000 cases: Law Ministry

NEW DELHI: The railway ministry is the biggest litigant among the government departments as it is a party to over 66,000 cases pending in courts across the country, the law ministry says.

Government litigation includes service matters, disputes with private entities as well as disputes between two government departments and two PSUs, according to a law ministry document of June 2017.

Citing data available on the LIMBS — Legal Information Management and Briefing System — website, the document states that as on June 12, 1,35,060 government cases and 369 contempt cases against government or its officials were pending in courts.

Railways with 66,685 cases pending has the highest number of pending cases. Out of the total, 10,464 cases are pending for more than 10 years.

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj with three pending cases has the least number of pendency among government departments.

The document clarifies that as the LIMBS is a dynamic website, the data is constantly changing.

The finance ministry follows the Railways with 15,646 cases. The Ministry of Communication has 12,621 cases pending in courts.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is the fourth biggest litigant with 11,600 cases, the document states.

In a letter addressed to his cabinet colleagues heading various ministries, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently said that the “government must cease to be a compulsive litigant…the judiciary has to spend its maximum time in tackling cases where the government is a party, and the burden on the judiciary can only be reduced if the cases are filed after taking a careful and considered view.” The law minister’s letter to his cabinet colleagues and the chief ministers came at a time when the Centre is working to bring out a national litigation policy since 2010. Several states have already adopted their separate litigation policies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in October termed the government as the “biggest litigant” and had pushed for a need to lessen the load on the judiciary which spends its maximum time in tackling cases where the government is a party.

Chennai HC directs Southern Railway to make trains more disabled-friendly

CHENNAI: A city-based court of the state commissioner for the differently abled, has directed Southern Railways and stake-holders to hold a meeting with regard to provision of reasonable accommodation for differently-abled in trains where LHB-type SLRD coaches were not available.

Passing interim orders, State Commissioner for the Special Court Ashish Kumar, constituted under Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, said the meeting shall be held on or before 9 July.

The court was hearing a petition by TMN Deepak Nathan, founder-president of ‘December 3rd Movement’, who sought reasonable accommodation, temporarily, for differently-abled persons in trains where Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) type second class luggage rake for disabled (SLRD) coaches are not available, especially in Pandian and Rockfort Express trains.

When the matter came up on 19 June, counsel for Southern Railways filed an affidavit stating that the Railway Board had accorded sanction for the manufacture of LHB type SLRD coaches for attachment in LHB rakes.

Production of these coaches will be taken up during 2017-18 in its units at ICF and RCF, it added.

However, petitioner’s counsel told the Commissioner that the solution proposed would take a long time and hence, there was need of temporary measures for providing reasonable accommodation for differently-abled passengers in the two trains.

The petitioner also offered to give suggestions or ideas on the issue.

The Commissioner directed that a joint meeting be held on or before 9 July and a detailed action plan be submitted to the court on the provisions proposed to be made by Southern Railways, till a permanent solution of providing LHB type SLRD coaches in the two trains are provided.

The matter would be taken up again on 10 July.

Delhi HC raps Railways again, says it emerged so stubborn that it doesn’t accept any order of anyone!

Delhi High Court says Railways most litigious department, doesn’t accept any orders. “Problem is Railways does not accept any order of anyone. Your trains are running slow, your tracks are dirty and you do not have the political will to deal with it. You are carrying on at 40 km per hour, you carry on like that,” the court said.

NEW DELHI: The court issued notice to the corporation and the Delhi government seeking their stand on the Railways’ plea seeking quashing of the attachment order of June 7.

The Delhi High Court on Friday rapped the Indian Railways on its functioning saying it was the “most litigious department” which was not even respecting circulars of a central ministry. “Problem is Railways does not accept any order of anyone. That is why you are the most litigious department. Your trains are running slow, your tracks are dirty and you do not have the political will to deal with it. You are carrying on at 40 km per hour, you carry on like that,” the court said.

The strong words by the high court came while hearing a plea by the Railways challenging an attachment order issued by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) demanding Rs 48.73 crore as service charge for servicing railway staff colonies. The court issued notice to the corporation and the Delhi government seeking their stand on the Railways’ plea seeking quashing of the attachment order of June 7.

According to the corporation, its order was based on a circular of the Ministry of Urban Development that said if the corporations are providing all services, normally provided to residents of other areas, in a government colony then service charge equivalent to 75 per cent of the property tax has to be paid to the MCDs. The Railways has contended that its colonies are entirely self sufficient and hence it has to pay only 33 and one-third per cent of the property tax. It further told the court that it has already paid Rs 9 crore to the NDMC.

The bench, however, was not swayed by the arguments as it said that “ordinary citizens who get zero services from the MCDs still pay their taxes”. “Secretary, Urban Development (in his circular) has said that pay 75 per cent. So you have to respect that. It is apparent that you do not follow anyone’s orders,” it said and added “there cannot be a civil war between Railways and the MCD”.

The court said the attachment order would be vacated only after the Railways pays 50 per cent of the amount demanded by the corporation and listed the matter for hearing on August 30. The bench passed the order after the lawyer for the Railways said the officials present in court cannot give an undertaking that payment of 50 per cent of amount would be made in four weeks. “Give the undertaking and we will vacate the attachment order,” the bench said.

Delhi Metro Vs. Delhi Airport Metro row: Supreme Court to hear dispute case today

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will on Monday hear the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) plea on Rs. 60 crore dispute case.

The DMRC had moved the apex court against the Delhi High Court’s order that asked it to pay Rs. 60 crore as three months interest to a lender of Delhi Airport Metro Express Private, a former concessionaire for airport express line.

The DMRC has challenged the June 7 order of the High Court that upheld its single judge order asking it to pay the three months interest to DAMEPL.

The single judge had directed the DMRC to deposit the amount of Rs. 60 crore within 10 days directly into DAMEPL’s loan account with Axis Bank – the main lender.

This was ordered after DAMEPL, a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure, had sought early payment of the award, claiming it was paying Rs. 65 lakh per day to its lenders, comprising public and other banks, since the termination of its agreement with DMRC to run the Airport Metro line.

The DMRC in its appeal sought stay on the interim order on the grounds that it would amount to partial implementation of the award and would also be akin to dismissal of its objections against enforcement of award.

The Anil Ambani company had claimed a total compensation of Rs. 4,670 crore, which includes the penalty and the interest on it, from DMRC.

The compensation awarded by the arbitral tribunal in May covers damage as a result of a breach by DMRC of its obligations under the concession agreement and material adverse effect on the ability of DAMEPL to perform its obligations under the concession pact.

Delhi Metro moves SC against Delhi HC Order to pay Rs.60 Crore to DAMEPL

The Supreme Court will on Monday hear the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) plea on Rs. 60 crore dispute case.

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) today moved the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court’s order directing it to pay Rs 60 crore as three months interest to a lender of its former concessionaire for airport express line.

The DMRC’s counsel mentioned the matter before a vacation bench comprising Justices P C Pant and Deepak Gupta which said it would hear the issue on June 19.

The corporation has challenged the June 7 order of high court’s division bench which had dismissed its appeal against a single judge order asking it to pay the amount.

The single judge’s interim order of May 30 had come on a plea by the concessionaire Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) seeking early payment of Rs 3,502 crore, which is 75 per cent of the arbitral award of Rs 4,670 crore granted in its favour on May 11.

The single judge had passed the order “in view of the financial conditions and interest burden being borne” by DAMEPL which had claimed it was paying Rs 65 lakh per day, coming to Rs 20 crore per month, as interest to its lender.

In its appeal before the high court’s division bench, the DMRC had challenged the interim order, saying it would amount to partial implementation of the award and would also be akin to dismissal of its objections against enforcement of award.

The division bench had said that it was not inclined to interfere with the May 30 order as it was an interim decision and the issues raised by the DMRC have been kept open by the single judge.

The court had also noted that single judge had protected the DMRC’s interests by directing DAMEPL, a subsidiary of the Reliance Infrastructure (Rinfra), to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 65 crore.

DAMEPL is a joint venture of Rinfra and a Spanish construction company — Construcciones Y Auxiliar De Ferrocarriles — with a shareholding of 95 and five per cent respectively.

The single judge had directed the DMRC to deposit the amount of Rs 60 crore within 10 days directly into DAMEPL’s loan account with Axis Bank – the main lender.

DAMEPL, in its plea for early enforcement of the award, has claimed that under the guidelines issued by Niti Aayog on September 5, 2016, public sector undertakings (PSUs) are to pay 75 per cent of the award amount even if they propose to challenge the arbitral award.

The DMRC had argued before the single judge that the Niti Aayog guidelines would not apply in the matter as the award was of May 11 and it had 90 days to challenge the arbitral tribunal’s decision.

The Airport Express line was commissioned on February 23, 2011 after an investment of Rs 2,885 crore funded by DAMEPL’s promoters’ fund, banks and financial institutions.

DAMEPL has said in its plea before the single judge that it had terminated the concession agreement as the DMRC had not cured some defects in the line within 90 days of the notice issued by it.

According to its plea, the agreement was terminated with effect from January 1, 2013 and the project was handed over to the DMRC on June 30, 2013. Till handing over of the project, DAMEPL had operated the line as a deemed agent of DMRC.

Arbitration was entered into in August 2013 after efforts to amicably resolve the issues did not yield results.

Consider paying Rs.60 Crore to DAMEPL towards interest: HC to DMRC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Metro was today asked by the Delhi High Court to consider releasing Rs 60 crore to the former concessionaire of the airport express line to pay interest for the next three months on loans taken to build it.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru asked the lawyers for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to take instructions on whether they were willing to release the amount if the concessionaire Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) secures them by providing a bank guarantee of Rs 60 crore plus interest.

The court said it was only considering the interim issue of release of Rs 60 crore as DAMEPL was paying Rs 65 lakh per day, amounting to Rs 20 crore per month, to the lenders to service the debt.

It was hearing a plea by DAMEPL seeking early payment of Rs 3,502 crore, which is 75 per cent of the arbitral award of Rs 4,670 crore granted in its favour on May 11.

DAMEPL, a subsidiary of the Reliance Infrastructure (Rinfra), has claimed that under the guidelines issued by NITI Aayog on September 5, 2016, public sector undertakings (PSUs) are to pay 75 per cent of the award amount even if they propose to challenge the arbitral award.

During the hearing, DMRC said the NITI Aayog guidelines would not apply in the instant matter as the award was of May 11 and it had 90 days to challenge the arbitral tribunal’s decision.

It said the guidelines would apply only after the PSU challenges the award, which it also termed as a “fraud”.

DMRC said the NITI Aayog memorandum was only a measure of protection, when enforcement of an award remains pending for long periods, and not a relief.

The court, however, observed that the DMRC “cannot be placed in a better position for not challenging the award”.

DMRC, thereafter, said the award being sought by the concessionaire was too large and it does not have that kind of money lying around. It said it would have to start selling its assets to raise such an amount.

The concessionaire had earlier told the court that it has been paying Rs 18-20 crore a month since July 2013 for servicing the debt and has already shelled out over Rs 1070 crore towards payment of interest with the initial capital still remaining as outstanding.

According to DAMEPL’s plea, the concession agreement was entered into between the two on August 25, 2008. Under the agreement the DMRC was to carry out the civil works, excluding at the depot, and the balance, including the project system works, were to be executed by DAMEPL, the plea has said.

The Airport Express line was commissioned on February 23, 2011 after an investment of Rs 2,885 crore funded by DAMEPL’s promoters’ fund, banks and financial institutions.

DAMEPL has said it had terminated the concession agreement as the DMRC had not cured some defects in the line within 90 days of the notice issued by it.

According to its plea, the agreement was terminated with effect from January 1, 2013 and the project was handed over to the DMRC on June 30, 2013. Till handing over of the project, the DAMEPL had operated the line as a deemed agent of DMRC.

Arbitration was entered into in August 2013 after efforts to amicably resolve the issues did not yield results.

DAMEPL is a joint venture of Rinfra and a Spanish construction company — Construcciones Y Auxiliar De Ferrocarriles, with a shareholding of 95 and five per cent respectively.

The concessionaire, in its plea, has claimed that “the payment of the interest to the lenders by it over the last four years in addition to the capital invested has enormously benefited DMRC and caused a financial crunch to DAMEPL”.

Railway catering services liable to pay Sales Tax: Bombay High Court

A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Prakash Naik passed this order recently while rejecting a petition filed by the Union of India

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has held that all railway stalls on platforms and catering services in trains are liable to pay sales tax and cannot be granted any exemptions.

A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Prakash Naik passed this order recently while rejecting a petition filed by the Union of India, through the Ministry of Railways, challenging the demand made by the state of Maharashtra seeking indirect taxes on the sale of goods by M/s Western Railway Canteen/Catering Service.

It was contented by the Ministry that departmental catering services — being a property of the Union of India through the Western Railway General Manager — falls squarely within the exemption provision, particularly carved out by Article 285 of the Constitution of India, which exempts the property of the Union from the state tax. It was further argued that “the definition of the term ‘dealer’ would not include the Railways or the Union of India and any attempt which is now made to include it is beyond the competence of the state legislature”.

The bench, after going through the facts of the case and relying on several high court and Supreme Court judgments that have previously dealt with similar issues, said, “The court concluded that the Railways cannot argue on the above lines.”

.

RInfra subsidiary ‘Delhi Airport Metro Express Ltd’, wins arbitration case against DMRC

NEW DELHI: Delhi Airport Metro Express (DAMEPL), a Reliance-ADAG Group firm, has won an arbitration case against Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) with the tribunal awarding it a compensation of Rs 2,950 crore. The arbitration tribunal, constituted from a panel nominated by DMRC, has given its award after hearing the case for almost four years.

The group’s flagship firm, Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra), said in an official statement that the proceeds of the award would be used for paying off the debt of Rs 1,900 crore to lenders. As many as eight public sector banks (PSBs) would benefit from it as their loans would be repaid.

Reliance Infrastructure would get the remaining Rs 1,050 crore invested in the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the airport express line. RInfra had pulled out of its public-private partnership (PPP) with DMRC for the 22.7-kilometre airport metro line in Delhi, terming the Rs 5,700-crore project commercially unviable.

The two parties had agreed to run it for 30 years. DMRC has since taken over the line that connects the New Delhi Railway Station to the T3 terminal of the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

“The award to RInfra has been granted on the basis of termination provisions of the concession agreement where the arbitration tribunal has held termination by DAMEPL as valid,” the company said.

“We are studying the award given by the arbitrators in the airport express line case and will decide our further course of action in the matter after due deliberation,” A DMRC spokesperson said.

As per the latest guidelines approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs, RInfra would get 75 per cent of the compensation award immediately against bank guarantee even if the PSU proposes to challenge the award. “Therefore, RInfra is expected to get Rs 2,210 crore as per guidelines against bank guarantee in case DMRC proposes to challenge the award,” RInfra said.

The award given by the arbitration panel covers damage as a result of breach by DMRC of its obligations under the concession agreement and material adverse effect on the ability of DAMEPL to perform its obligations under the concession pact.

SC quizzes Railways over Quality of Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Railways to explain why the world’s third largest rail network was deficient in terms of providing quality services and sought to know the steps taken so far to improve its functioning.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said the Railways fared much better during the British rule and that the government must get its act together to give better experience to its passengers.

Though the counsel claimed that cleanliness has improved to a large extent in trains and various measures have been carried out to make travel comfortable, the bench asked, “Have you ever travelled in trains? Do you know what is the state of affairs in trains? And we are not even talking about comfort and luxuries. We are talking about basic facilities.”

Hearing a PIL filed by Abhay Singh, the court said it was imperative that some effective steps were taken to ensure basic facilities and safety to the commuters so that trains remain a preferred mode of travel for millions in this country.

The petitioner had alleged use of sub-standard materials for furnishing interiors of coaches has caused asphyxiation deaths due to inhalation of toxic gases by passengers during fire accidents.

The court gave the counsel four weeks to bring on record documents, pertaining to use of materials for furnishing interiors of coaches in trains in order to ascertain if they meet the prescribed safety standards to stand fire accidents.

Use Technology to prevent incidents of Sabotage on Tracks: Bombay HC tells Railways

The HC told the Railways to take the help of technology to keep tab on tracks and prevent sabotage incidents which have increased recently. Railways advocate Suresh Kumar to consult senior railway officials and consider the use of technology to prevent any incidents of sabotage being planned either by miscreants, terrorists or anti-social elements, by placing boulders and slabs on tracks.

MUMBAI: “This is a matter of lives of thousands of Mumbaikars who travel daily by suburban trains, prevention should be better than cure,” the Bombay High Court observed on Friday while directing the Central and Western Railways to look up and install technology that would detect foreign objects kept on railway tracks.

A division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice P.R. Bora, have asked the railways to consult senior official in the railways and consider use of technology to prevent any incidents of sabotage being planned, either by miscreants, terrorist or anti-social elements, by placing boulders, slabs etc on tracks. The Railways have been told to place on record its decision by before the court on March 17.

The bench pressed for installing of technology because it felt that it was humanly impossible for gang of men to monitor the tracks. However, it asked the railways to increase the manpower and also take the help of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Home Guards for the same. The question of sabotage came up after the court referred to several cases reported in the media about foreign objects being kept on tracks at different places in the country.

The court made this observation while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by activist Sameer Zaveri, highlighting the problem of accidental deaths and non-availability of emergency medical centers at railway stations. The court has also suggested the railways to put up boundary walls along the tracks wherever possible so that there is no trespassing.

Produce green clearance docs for building 3 Metro Stations: Bombay HC directs MMRCL

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court today asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL) to place before it documents pertaining to clearance from the Union Environment Ministry (MoEF) for construction of three stations in South Mumbai under the Metro line III project.

The MMRCL, however, claimed before the HC that the nod of MoEF was not needed after which the court asked it to show documents in support of its contention.

The direction was passed by a division bench of the Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni while hearing a petition filed by residents of Churchgate in South Mumbai against proposed cutting of 5,000 trees to pave the way for the Seepz-Colaba Metro line III project.

The HC had last month restrained MMRCL from felling trees until further orders from the court.

Today, the petitioners’ counsel Janak Dwarkadas informed the HC that the Ministry of Environment and Forests has refused permission to MMRCL to construct stations at Churchgate, Hutatma Chowk and Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai as these areas fall under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ).

Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for MMRCL, told the HC that the MoEF nod is not needed.

The HC then directed the MMRCL to file an affidavit stating whether or not MoEF clearance is required.

“If it is not required then show us supporting documents. If it is required then show us the clearance. Since the issue is about environment we are concerned and want to be convinced,” the bench said and posted the petition for hearing on March 16.

Chinoy told the court the MMRCL was ready to replant “matured” trees in place of those that will be felled for the metro project in the same vicinity, after completion of the project work.

“For every tree that would be cut to make way for the Metro project, another matured tree would be planted in the same vicinity after the work is over. This would be in addition to planting of three saplings in Sewri,” Chinoy said.

Under the provisions of the Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, for every tree that is to be cut three more should be planted in other area.

MMRCL’s suggestion to replant the trees in the same area comes after the HC took objection to proposed cutting of trees in South Mumbai and planting them in Central Mumbai.

“Making old Mumbai a desert by cutting trees and making new Mumbai green will not work,” Chief Justice Chellur said.

The HC also suggested to set up a committee which would look into the issue.

Line 3 of the Mumbai Metro, also referred to as the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ line, is a part of the metro system which will connect Cuffe Parade business district in South Mumbai to SEEPZ in the north-central.

HC dwells into the MMRC & BMC’s Survey and Study to cut over 5000 trees for Seepz-Colaba Metro Line

What survey did MMRC, BMC undertake before going ahead to cut – asks Mumbai High Court

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court today sought to know from the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) and BMC what survey and study did they undertake before taking the decision to cut over 5,000 trees to pave way for the Seepz-Colaba metro line project.

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice GS Kulkarni was hearing a petition filed by the residents of Churchgate in south Mumbai against the cutting of over 5,000 trees to pave way for the metro line.

The court had yesterday restrained the authorities from cutting even a single tree until further orders.

The MMRC had informed the court that it had taken permission from the BMC’s Tree Authority department in this regard.

“We want to know what kind of survey or study did you (MMRC) conduct before seeking to cut 5,000 trees? And, we want to know from the BMC what study it undertook before giving permission to cut the trees,” the court said.

The court said it also wants details of what kind of trees would be cut, how old they are and if they can be restored or replanted elsewhere.

The information will have to be submitted to the court on February 20 when the petition would be heard.

The court had yesterday expressed concern over the issue and said such “massive destruction to the environment” can not be allowed.

The court had said it may set up an independent committee to look into the issue.

Negate possibility of Victims of Train Accidents and their Families being duped by Middlemen: Rail Tribunal

Rail tribunal steps in to fast-track relief payment to victims of derailments and train accidents.

NEW DELHI: The Railway Claims Tribunal Principal Bench in New Delhi has taken suo motu cognizance of three major derailments recently in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and filed cases for claims in a first such order.

Departing from established norms, it has ordered its zonal benches to register cases, where the claimants live instead of piling up cases on local benches under whose jurisdiction the accidents have taken place. The order has paved way for immediate release of compensation by setting an upper limit of six weeks for hearings. As per records, the process of realisation of claims usually takes up to four years, thanks to legal tangles.

But after this order, all that the local benches now need to do is verify that a claimant appearing before it is the same person mentioned in the official accident report, a job that should not take more than one hearing. According to the Tribunal, the Railways has identified all the victims.

The Tribunal has cut out the need for lawyers and legal processes by asking local benches to help applicants free of cost. As a result, the process of trials and recording of oral evidences will now be done away with.

The order was conveyed to the Railway Ministry earlier this week for compliance.

As many as 150 people had died in a rail accident near Kanpur. Over 60 people were injured in another accident near Allahabad. In a derailment near Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh, nearly 40 people were killed and 30 injured.

The Tribunal passed the order to negate possibility of victims and their families being duped by middlemen. In certain cases, even lawyers, according to information with the Tribunal, dupe or harass claimants by unnecessarily delaying cases. This is because from the date of the filing of a claim, Railways counts six per cent interest over and above the compensation amount.

Currently, the Railways gives Rs 8 lakh to families of each deceased and those who have suffered permanent disability. Those with other kinds of injuries are paid lower amounts. “The date of hearing shall be fixed not later than six weeks from the date of issue of notices and on being served, the additional registrar/assistant, registrar of the respective benches shall themselves offer assistance to the applicants….,” the order said.

A racket of lawyers and middlemen often dupe victims and families by delaying the process for years. As a result, the Railways is used to giving out hefty interests.

Judiciary to act against people using Coaches reserved for Disabled

MUMBAI: Passengers with disability travelling in reserved compartments, will soon be able to lodge complaints to the railways about unauthorised persons occupying their berths by sending an SMS or a Whatsapp message and railway officials will have to revert about the action taken against the offenders through the same medium.

A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai in their detailed order directing the Central Railways to implement several recommendations given by State Disability Commissioner, in 2013, ordered the railways to set up the grievance redressal mechanism by April 30.

Railways has also been told to maintain a separate register for such complaints and indicate the action taken on the same by submitting a compliance report before the court in May.

The bench disposed of a petition filed by Ghatkopar resident Nitin Gaikwad, by asking the Director General of Police, to issue a warning to all policemen to not travel in the reserved compartment. This was after the Central Railway told the court that last year around 53 police personnel were booked for travelling in the reserved compartment. To which the bench had said, “This is shocking that policemen who are under obligation to uphold the law are violating it.” It had also asked the authorities to take disciplinary action against those Government Railway Police (GRP) officials who were booked by the railway police force.

Gaikwad, who suffers from a disability, travels on both Central and Western Railways to reach his workplace in Mahim, alleged that he regularly faces this problem while boarding the coach. Despite repeated complaints to the authorities, the railways had failed to take any action.

The Central Railway will also have to install CCTV cameras inside the reserved compartments within eight months.

To create awareness among the commuters about the reserved compartment, Central Railway has been told to hold a special drive, every month at different railway stations. The bench also allowed Gaikwad to make a representation to the Western Railway, with the same pleading and hoped it would act promptly.

The court has asked the Central Railway to put up posters at entrance point of stations and other prominent places on the platforms about the reserved compartments. The court has asked the authority to provide resting areas and benches on the platforms in front of the reserved compartment.

CCI imposes Penalty on Bidders for Cartelisation in Tenders of Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed penalties on three firms for bid rigging of tenders floated by Indian Railways for procurement of Brushless DC fans in the year 2013.

A final order has been passed by CCI in a case taken up suo moto under Section 19 of the Competition Act, 2002 (‘the Act’) based on the information received from Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi.

CCI has held that the firms had shared the market by way of allocation of tenders of Indian Railways for Brushless DC fans amongst themselves under an agreement/ arrangement and indulged in bid rigging/ collusive bidding in contravention of the provisions of Section 3(3)(c) and 3(3)(d) read with Section 3(1) of the Act. The anti-competitive conduct of the firms has been established based on exchange of rates to be quoted in upcoming tenders amongst the errant firms, numerous calls amongst the key persons of these firms before and during the period of the tenders and admission by one of the firms which confirmed and revealed the existence and modus operandi of the cartel.

Accordingly, a penalty of Rs. 2.09 crores, Rs. 62.37 lakhs and Rs. 20.01 lakhs and was imposed on the firms M/s Western Electric and Trading Company, M/s Pyramid Electronics and M/s R. Kanwar Electricals respectively in terms of proviso to Section 27 (b) of the Act. While imposing penalty, Commission took into consideration all the relevant factors including the duration of the cartel, volume of the tender affected by the cartel and value thereof and decided to impose penalty on M/s Pyramid Electronics and M/s Western Electric and Trading Company calculated at 1.0 time of their profit respectively in the year 2012-13 and on M/s R. Kanwar Electricals at the rate of 3 percent of its turnover for the year 2012-13.

Additionally, considering the totality of facts and circumstances of the case, penalty was also imposed on persons-in charge of the three firms i.e., Shri Sandeep Goyal of M/s Pyramid Electronics, Shri Ashish Jain of M/s R. Kanwar Electricals and Shri Ramesh Parchani of M/s Western Electric and Trading Company at the rate of 10 percent of the average of their income for the last three preceding  financial years.

CCI had received an application under Section 46 of the Act read with Regulation 5 of the Competition Commission of India (Lesser Penalty) Regulations, 2009 from M/s Pyramid Electronics. This application was received when the investigation in the matter was in progress and the report from the DG was pending.

Considering the co-operation extended by M/s Pyramid Electronics in conjunction with the value addition provided by it in establishing the existence of cartel and the stage at which it had approached CCI, it was granted 75 percent reduction in the penalty than would otherwise have been imposed, had it not cooperated with the Commission. Accordingly, the penalty imposed on M/s Pyramid Electronics was reduced to Rs. 15.59 lakhs and penalty imposed on Shri Sandeep Goyal was reduced to Rs. 11,648 only.

Clear Railway Land of encroachments by Feb 9: Uttarakhand HC

Dehradun: A two-judge bench of the Nainital High Court of Justice Rajeev Sharma and Justice Alok Singh today ordered removal of encroachments from railway land in Haldwani by February 9.

The state government had filed a review petition of the court order dated 9.11.2016 regarding eviction of railway land at the Ghafur Basti in Haldwani. Rejecting the application, the court directed the Chief Secretary and the DGP police to provide security to railway authorities to remove encroachers. The court ruled that encroachers be evicted on or before February 9, 2017.

The state government had pleaded that no demarcation of the property of railways has been undertaken. Thus, removal of the encroachers could not be undertaken. The land on which the houses have been constructed is the Abadi land and there was a reference to few sale deeds in the application. The court observed that the state government has tried to espouse the cause of the persons who are occupying the railway land unauthorisedly.

The court ruled that the land belongs to the railways and it is the bounden duty of the railway authorities to evict the encroachers from the government land. The Chief Secretary as well as the Director General of Police were directed to provide necessary police force to evict the encroachers from the land which has already been demarcated and eviction orders have been passed. The court also directed the government to undertake demarcation of remaining land and serving of notices within two weeks. The police force should be adequate to meet every exigency on the spot at Haldwani. It is made clear that in case the adequate police force, as directed, is not provided to the railway authorities at Haldwani to implement the order passed by this court in letter and spirit, then it would amount to failure of constitutional machinery and the consequences may ensue.

The Chief Secretary and the DGP shall be personally responsible to obey the orders failing which they would be dealt with under the contempt proceedings under Article 215 of the Constitution of India, the court observed.

Texmaco, Kalindee Rail gets High Court’s nod for Merger

Kolkata: Texmaco Rail & Engineering and Kalindee Rail Nirman (Engineers) have received Delhi High Court’s approval to merge the latter with former, the companies notified the bourses.

The merger plan was approved by the boards of the company in May 2014.

“The company and Texmaco will make the scheme effective in accordance with its provisions, read with the orders of the High Court of Calcutta and the High Court of Delhi, and applicable regulations, including the SEBI (listing obligations and disclosure requirements) Regulations, 2015 and the SEBI Circular dated November 30, 2015,” Kalindee said in a statement to the bourses on Wednesday.

Texmaco, a Kolkata-based rail wagon manufacturer, acquired controlling stake in Kalindee Rail through an open offer, outbidding Jaipur-based engineering company Jupiter Metal in 2013.

Karnataka HC asks lower Courts refrain from Attachment of Trains

karnataka-high-court-bangaloreBangalore: In a relief to the Railways, the Karnataka High Court has directed the executing courts in the State to refrain from passing orders attaching locomotives, bogies or other rail equipment in motion. The high court has directed the executive courts across the state not to pass order to attach or confiscate the railway engine, bogie or any such equipment which are in motion.

Justice A.S. Bopanna passed the interim order on a petition filed by the Railways while pointing out that the executing courts had been issuing warrants to attach rail engines in service on the track and causing hardship not only to the Railways but also to the travelling public. It was disrupting other trains on the track too.

In its petition, the Railways had questioned a warrant, issued by a court in Chitradurga in February, ordering the attachment of the Harihar-Bengaluru passenger train after the Railways failed to honour a decree passed by a civil court ordering payment of compensation to farmers whose land was acquired for a railway project.

Another train was attached for nearly two hours at Harihar on a similar case involving non-payment of compensation despite a decree. The Railways argued that the executing courts were passing such attachment orders despite the bar imposed under Section 187 of the Railways Act on taking over of certain types of Railway properties on execution of any decree or order of any court or local authority or any person having power to attach property without the previous sanction of the Union government.

Noticing that there was a specific restriction under Section 187 on taking over rolling stock, machinery, plant, tools, fittings, materials or effects used or provided by a Railway administration for the purpose of traffic on its rail line, or of its stations or workshops, for execution of decree or order of a court, the High Court said that the executing courts should refrain from attaching such properties.

Meanwhile, the High Court made it clear that the executing courts should not feel restrained to issue any other sort of orders for recovery of the amount to the decree holders, including the attachment of other properties, belonging to the Railways, including office equipment, furniture and the like.


Respite for Railways

  • The interim order follows a petition filed by the Railways

  • ‘Executing courts have been issuing warrants to attach rail engines in

    service on the track’

  • ‘It is causing hardships to the travelling public’

  • ‘Services of other trains are disrupted too’

 


 

HC express discomfort over ‘cumbersome’ arbitration rules of Railways

Petition seeks termination of Arbitral Tribunal and appointment of arbitrator

CourtChennai: Expressing its displeasure with the Railways for failing to conduct arbitration proceedings in various cases, the Madras High Court has observed that the Railway Board could have a re-look on the “cumbersome” arbitration clause, citing the numerous petitions being filed before the High Court.

The observations of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul was made during the hearing of a plea by petitioner G.A. Sridhar, who sought to terminate the mandate of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the Railways and further sought to appoint an independent arbitrator to adjudicate on all disputes and claims arising out of an agreement made with the Railways in 2006.

On perusing the counter-affidavit filed by the Railways, the judge said it really said “nothing much” and denied the allegations of the petitioner.

“This court had faced repeatedly matters on account of the failure to conduct the arbitration proceedings by the railways,” he said.

Recalling his observation made during the last hearing of the case on July 29 that that the Railway Board should have a re-look on the cumbersome arbitration clause and the repeated failure of setting in motion the arbitration process, the judge noted, “To the court query, again there is no response and all that is stated it is the matter to be looked by the Railway Board.”

The only conclusion to reach was that the whole concept of the arbitration ought not to fail and the Arbitrator has to be appointed by this court, the judge observed and appointed retired High Court judge Justice I. David Christian as the Sole Arbitrator in the case. Although the judge was inclined to seek personal presence of the General Manager of Southern Railway, counsel for the Railways stated that he would obtain requisite instructions from the board.

GM summoned

“It is made clear that it is for this purpose alone the matter has been listed and in the failure to do so, there is little option but to call for the presence of the General Manager, Southern Railway or someone from the Railway Board for appropriate information,” the Chief Justice said and listed the matter for compliance on November 18 this year.

Supreme Court clears Railway projects stalled by NGT

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the National Green Tribunal’s May 31 order mandating environmental clearance for metro rail and railways’ dedicated freight corridor projects. The Bench passed the order as authorities questioned the logic behind stalling such projects primarily meant for reducing pollution by offering eco-friendly mode of transport. Appearing for the Noida-Greater Noida metro project, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the Centre’s 2006 notification had clearly exempted such projects from the purview of environment impact assessment.

Railways can’t blame rooftop travel, state authorities: Apex Court

Step in, be compassionate; don’t blame mishaps on rooftop travel, SC tells Railways

14 youths were killed and several others injured on Monday when they fell from the roof of two speeding trains crammed with job aspirants returning from an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) recruitment camp in Bareilly in UP. The incidents triggered violent protests as angry youths torched a train.
14 youths were killed and several others injured when they fell from the roof of two speeding trains crammed with job aspirants returning from an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) recruitment camp in Bareilly in UP. The incidents triggered violent protests as angry youths torched a train.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the railways should take steps to avoid accidents and ensure the safety of its passengers, instead of trying to shift the blame on rooftop travel or the over bridges constructed by the state or municipal authorities.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Uday Umesh Lalit made the observation while directing the Railways to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of at least 14 job aspirants killed after getting crushed between the train’s rooftop and the ceiling of over bridge in Shahajahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, on February 1, 2011.

Another 20 were seriously injured.The victims were travelling on the rooftop of the Himgiri Express to go back to their home states following cancellation of a recruitment drive of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to be held in Bareilly. The border force suspended the drive as it was unable to handle over 2 lakh aspirants from 11 states who had descended on Bareilly.

Rejecting the railways’ contention that it was not responsible for the accident, the apex court said though the people who travelled on rooftop also contributed to the mishap, the “Railway Administration, in our view, was not free from blame.” The railways should have been aware of the inherent danger in allowing the train to run with such speed having a large number of persons travelling on rooftop, the Bench noted.

The train could be stopped only after it had travelled three kilometres from the accident spot, the Bench noted. The SC also directed the railways to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to every passenger who suffered permanent disability and Rs 75,000 each for those injured grievously.

The railways should set up a committee headed by a senior officer and consisting of at least three other experts with technical knowledge to identify all infringements on the railway tracks such as over bridges constructed either by it or by state or municipal administrations and remove them in the shortest possible time, but not later than two years. The committee should submit status reports to the SC every six months.

The SC also directed the central police organisations to call only limited number of candidates for recruitment drives so that the Bareilly-type incident did not recur.

RPF Association gets stay on DG/RPF’s appointment

On Monday, a bench of justice Gita Mittal and justice OS Mehta, hearing a petition filed by the All-India Railway Protection Force Association (AIRPFA), ordered the Union government to file a reply to the points raised by the petitioner within a week.

dg rpf courtThe job of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) might be to protect passengers of the Indian Railways and the assets of the national transporter. But for the past couple of days, if there is anything that has commanded the undivided attention of the RPF top brass and boots on the ground, it is the case in the Delhi High Court filed against the deputation of IPS officers into the RPF.

On Monday, a bench of justice Gita Mittal and justice OS Mehta, hearing a petition filed by the All-India Railway Protection Force Association (AIRPFA), ordered the Union government to file a reply to the points raised by the petitioner within a week. The Delhi HC set the next hearing for May 19.The AIRPFA is a one-of-its-kind union or association of constables and officers up to the rank of inspector in an armed force of the Union.

The AIRPFA has contended that an amendment made to the Railway Protection Force Act 1957 has clearly stated that there would be no deputation of personnel from other forces in the RPF. The fight is over the fact that the RPF has had IPS officers as its director general since the inception of the force and no direct officer from the RPF category has been able to get to any post higher than additional director general..

On April 27, the appointments committee of the Cabinet approved SK Bhagat, a 1982 batch IPS officer of the Uttarakhand cadre, as DG, RPF. Bhagat was special DG of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) before being appointed to the RPF. The AIRPFA has managed to get a stay on Bhagat’s appointment as the Delhi High Court order of May 2 states that ‘the respondents shall not give effect to the recommendation dated April 27 till the next date of hearing’.

The issue could change the way the RPF functions because it could become the only large paramilitary force without any IPS officer at its helm. Incidentally, the RPF is the only paramilitary force which is under the Ministry of Railways rather than the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Defence.

The issue has come at a time when a section of the RPF believes the force is now good enough to be the sole policing system on the vast railway network. In fact, the railways has moved a proposal to make the RPF the federal railway security agency, but this has faced a host of queries from the Union Law and Judiciary as well as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Currently, about 2,300 trains on vulnerable routes are escorted by the RPF and about 220 trains by the railway police of the respective states the train passes through. This is apart from the personnel of both the RPF and railway police who protect the ladies’ coaches of suburban trains in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Secunderabad and Delhi National Capital Region, said officials.

The RPF has a strength of about 75,000 personnel nationwide of which about 2,600 personnel are in Central Railway’s suburban segment and 2,100 in Western Railway’s suburban segment.

Five former Railway officials sentenced to 2 year rigorous imprisonment

Two years Rigorous Imprisonment to the then Member Engineering of Railway Board and four other Senior Officials (including a General Manager) of Southern Railway for causing a loss of Rs.2.29 Crore to Railways

5-arrestChennai: The XIII additional special judge for CBI cases, Chennai, has sentenced five former top railway officials, including the then Member-Engineering, Railway Board and General Manager, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years on a charge of violating tender rules and causing loss of Rs 2.29 crore to the national transporter.

Judge S.Jawahar also imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on them.  According to CBI, the then Member-Engineering, Railway Board, V.K.Agnihotri, General Manager,  N.Kirthivasan, Chief Track Engineer, P.Rajamoni, Financial Advisor and Chief Accounts Officer, R.S.Narayanan, Additional General Manager S.Sethuraman, Chief Signal & Telecommunication Engineer, S.Ramasubramanian and a Civil Engineering contractor S.Palani committed the irregularities in 1995.

The railway officials recommended and sanctioned machinery advance of Rs. 26.64 lakh to Palani, for supply of hand broken ballast, which was not required for railways, violating tender rules. They also recommended and sanctioned machinery advances of Rs.10.57 lakh, Rs.9.16 lakh and Rs.12.28 lakh for three other contracts to Palani. They placed orders for supply of ballast in 11 reaches requiring very huge quantities. All the contracts were terminated and subsequently fresh contracts were awarded to various other contractors. As a result, the railways incurred a loss of Rs 2.29 crore, being additional expenditure incurred towards execution of terminated contracts, apart from advances given to Palani.

During trial, Narayanan and Palani died and charges against them were abated.  The judge sentenced Agnihotri, Kirthivasan, Rajamoni, Sethuraman and Rama Subramanian to undergo RI for two years.

CBI arrests Senior Section Engineer of Chandigarh on graft charges

In an another instance, CBI today arrested a Senior Section Engineer of Northern Railway from Chandigarh station for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 25,000 for clearing bills.

A Railway Contractor (Private Person) has alleged that he got a contract for transportation of P.Way Material with Railway Department since 2013 and final bill of the said contract was yet to be prepared in respect of the work done, CBI spokesperson said here.

Based on his complaint CBI has registered a case under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The security money, PG and Earnest Money was also pending with the Senior Section Engineer(SSE), Track Depot, Northern Railway, Ambala Cantt. He (contractor) visited the office of SSE and requested him for preparation of final bill and also to release security money,” the spokesperson said.

She said it was alleged that the SSE demanded a bribe of Rs 70,000 from the contractor for settling his dues.

“On the request of the complainant, the bribe amount was reduced to Rs 60,000 and the accused agreed to accept Rs 25,000 as first installment of bribe. CBI laid a trap at the premises of Railway Station, Chandigarh and caught the Senior Section Engineer red handed,” she said.

Approach Make in India Investors for Elevated Rail Corridor: HC to Railways

“How long will you continue to depend on the Railway Board…Why don’t you consider setting up of an elevated rail corridor?”

BL03_METRO_RAIL__492312fMumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday came down heavily on Railways for ignoring safety of passengers in suburban trains and asked authorities to consider approaching investors at ‘Make in India’ week for setting up an elevated rail corridor to ease pressure on existing western and central railway routes.

“How long will you continue to depend on the Railway Board…Why don’t you consider setting up of an elevated rail corridor?” asked a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil.

“Many investors are in city for the ‘Make in India’ programme. You may approach them,” suggested the bench which was hearing a suo motu PIL, converted out of a letter written by a passenger A B Thakker, seeking reservation of a separate compartment for senior citizens in local trains.

The High Court also asked the Maharashtra Government to step in and help the Railways in augmenting its capacity which would help in providing safe travel for commuters.

Justice Naresh Patil also raised a query whether the Railways were reluctant to go in partnership with another authority to augment its capacity. However, the Railways said they did not have any such problem.

The bench was of the view that the Railways should give priority to Mumbai Rail suburban routes because more than 50 lakh commuters travel every day from home to workplace and back and also because many people get killed while falling off from trains due to heavy rush in peak hours.

“This should have been considered 25 years ago but unfortunately there was no planning done, as a result we see a situation where urgently something needs to be done to bring down the pressure on the existing rail network on suburban routes,” the bench said.

A railway report, presented to the court, said many people fall down from trains at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Thane, Mumbra and Kalyan stations and hence it was proposed to increase frequency of trains in this corridor of central railway.

Regarding reduction of gaps between the footboard of trains and stations to prevent commuters from slipping and falling on the tracks, the Railways said steps have been initiated at some stations to increase the height of the platforms.

Utilise Make in India Week for Railways: Bombay HC

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday reprimanded the railways for not taking any concrete step to reduce crowd in suburban trains, which is causing the death of many people. The court also asked the authorities to consider approaching investors at ‘Make in India’ Week for setting up an elevated rail corridor to decrease the load of passengers on existing suburban trains.

The division bench headed by Justice Naresh H. Patil on Thursday asked the government of Maharashtra to step in and help the railways in augmenting its capacity that would help in providing safe travel for commuters.

While suggesting the state government to help railways the court also asked the railways whether it is unwilling to go in partnership with another authority to augment its capacity. However, the railways said it did not have any such problem.

“Many investors are in the city for the ‘Make in India’ programme. You may approach them,” suggested the bench. The judges asked the railway for how long would it continue to depend on the Railway Board and why it does not consider setting up of an elevated rail corridor.

The bench was of the view that the railways should give priority to Mumbai rail suburban routes because more than 50 lakh commuters travel every day from home to offices and back and also because many get killed falling off from trains due to heavy rush in peak hours.

A railway report, presented to the court, said many people fall down from trains at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Thane, Mumbra and Kalyan stations and hence it was proposed to increase frequency of trains in this corridor of central railway.

Regarding reduction of gaps between the footboard of trains and stations to prevent commuters from slipping and falling on the tracks, the railways said steps have been initiated at some stations to increase the height of the platforms.

The court was hearing a suo motu PIL, converted out of a letter written by a senior citizen, A.B. Thakker, seeking reservation of a separate compartment for senior citizens in local trains.

Why permit sale of only RailNeer at stations, HC to Railways

If you can allow Outside Food, why not Water? Mumbai High Court asks Railways

rail neerMumbai: The Bombay High Court today sought to know from Indian Railways why sale of only one brand of mineral water is permitted at railway stations where different brands and varieties of food are available and directed the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation to reply to a public interest litigation challenging the sale of only Rail Neer packaged drinking water at stations and on trains.

A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice M S Sonak heard the PIL filed by Lopesh Vora, a regular commuter, urging direction to the Railways and its subsidiary, IRCTC, to provide packaged drinking water of other brands also. Justice N H Patil was hearing a public interest litigation by commuter Lopesh Vora challenging a circular issued by railway authorities last year directing contractors and caterers having stalls on platforms and railway stations to stock and sell only ‘Rail Neer’ packaged drinking water supplied by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

Vora in his petition claimed that a commuter should have the right to choose which brand water he or she wants to buy and consume. Vora’s advocates Rui Rodrigues and Abhishek Tripathi argued that it is “a consumer’s right of choice to drinking water” under Article 21 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution. They pointed out that there is an issue of quantity as well as quality. They explained that only 1 litre bottles are being sold instead of 500 ml. Also, tests done by an independent laboratory in Gujarat:showed the water is “sub-standard ” and did not conform to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India norms.

IRCTC’s advocate Usha Srivastava said the decision to keep only keep one brand of packaged water was because Rail Neer ” was not being lifted ” and it resulted in a huge loss. She said currently it is available in four zones having bottling plants and not at all places. ” We are not preventing people from carrying their own water as done on planes,” she added.

The bench said there can be no compromise on quality and questioned that when outside food and even e-catering is permitted on trains, “why not drinking water.” The IRCTC is directed to file a reply to the PIL along with quality check reports at the next hearing after a month. It is also directed to consider selling 500 ml bottles.

“Rail Neer is available only in one litre bottles. While other brands like Bisleri have 500 ml bottles also. Why should one compulsorily buy a one litre bottle? Moreover one does not know if the Rail Neer water is of good quality,” the petition said.

“If food of different brands and varieties are available at railway stations then why not water? You (railways) should allow other brands. If the railways’ contention is that IRCTC is facing loss then one bottle of Rail Neer can be given complimentary with each ticket booked then people will be encouraged to buy it,” the court said.

The high court has directed railways authorities and IRCTC to consider the contentions raised in the PIL and file their reply in four weeks.

Earlier another bench of the high court had dismissed a petition filed by the Indian Railway Caterer’s Association challenging the circular.

This is absolutely right?? Why only Rail Neer.. There are locallites who create duplicate of the Rail Neer bottles & sell it. They also fill the bottles thrown by commuters & resell it. –Kiran P., Rail Passenger

Inflation on rise, revise Compensation for Rail Accidents: Delhi HC

Delhi High CourtNew Delhi: The Delhi high court took into account the rising inflation and reducing buying power of rupee to direct the Union government to revise the compensation paid to kin of victims of rail accidents.

There had been traditionally a disparity in compensation payable to kin of railway accident victims and those who die in air crash. A public interest litigation filed by Sethu Niket through advocate Esha Mazumdar told the HC that the compensation amount was fixed more than 15 years ago and hence warrants an urgent revision keeping in view the falling buying power of the rupee.
The petitioner had requested the HC to quash “Railway Accidents and Untoward Incident (Compensation) Rules, 1999 providing for Rs 4 lakh as maximum amount of compensation in case of death or permanent disability”.

Interestingly, more than a 100 years ago the Railways Act, 1890 had fixed responsibility for any death resulting from operation of railways and provided that the administration would be saddled with a maximum liability of Rs 10,000 for death. Mazumdar argued before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and R S Endlaw that though the compensation of Rs 4 lakh was determined in the year 1997, the central government had failed to revise it by amending the Rules taking into account the inflation and falling buying power of rupee.

The bench in its judgment said: “it is obligatory on the part of the Central government to update the amount of compensation taking into consideration the substantial change in the money value and the impact it has caused in the cost of living.”

“We, therefore, direct the Union of India to consider the issue of updating the upper limit of compensation prescribed under Rules 3 & $ of Compensation Rules and take appropriate steps in accordance with law,” the bench said.

Vijayawada Division gets back 5 acre Encroached Land

Court delivers judgment in its favour

Vijayawada: The Vijayawada Railway Division has got a favourable court judgment that freed up five acres of its land in the city from litigation. The Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court at Vijayawada delivered the verdict in a group of cases (23) concerning encroached railway lands at Machavaram and Satyanarayanapuram.

Vijayawada Railway stationThe judge dismissed ‘appeal suites’ thereby upheld the claim of railways to the disputed land. The encroachers have since been ordered to vacate the land situated around the Electric Traction Training Centre (ETTC) and hand it over to the railway for commercial use.

N.Srihari, Standing Counsel for Railways, told that the prime property was acquired by South Central Railway (SCR) under Land Acquisition Act and a gazette notification duly issued for development of commercial properties but the land was encroached over a period of time.

The claims of encroachers were dismissed by the court in response to petitions filed by the Estate Officer of SCR, Vijayawada and even the Supreme Court ruled in favour of SCR.

“The land will now be vacated as per the court orders. The required proceedings have been initiated”, Mr. Srihari said. Eviction orders were originally passed by the Estate Officer of Railway under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1971 and appeals were subsequently preferred by the illegal claimants to the land.

The appeals have been eventually dismissed in the wake of their failure to establish any legal right to the disputed land.

Some of the residents claimed to be staying there for over 30 years and paying all civic dues. A conservative estimate puts the land cost at Rs. 100 crore.

Meanwhile, the Railways is taking steps for development of a five-storied commercial property on its land located near the railway station.

Rail Neer Scam: Court grants Bail to Official, No Relief for Business Man

New Delhi: A special court today granted bail to a senior railway officer but declined the relief to a businessman arrested in connection with alleged corruption in the supply of packaged drinking water in Rajdhani and other superfast trains.

The court granted bail to M S Chalia, an Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer, on a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 with one surety of the like amount observing that keeping him in judicial custody would not serve any purpose.

However, Special Judge Vinod Kumar dismissed the bail plea of businessman Sharan Bihari Aggarwal saying that he was the “direct beneficiary” of the transactions and investigation about the approximately Rs. 28 crore cash recovered during the searches was going on.

“It must be kept in mind that the applicant is the direct beneficiary of the transaction in question. Therefore, I am of the opinion that it is not a fit stage to grant bail to the applicant as it has the possibility of hampering the investigation. Accordingly, the bail application is hereby dismissed,” the court said.

CBI had opposed Mr Chalia’s bail plea saying that he had abused his official position as he did not act despite several letters sent by IRCTC to supply Rail Neer and supply of other brands of water resulted in a loss of Rs. 6.25 crores to the railways.

The judge, however, granted him bail saying, “I am of the opinion that keeping him in judicial custody will not serve any purpose. According, I admit the applicant/accused M S Chalia to bail…”

Besides these two accused, senior rail officer Sandeep Silas, also an IRTS officer, was also arrested by CBI in connection with the case. He is at present in judicial custody

Railway Court issues Warrant against Union Joint Home Secretary

Bilaspur (BSP): The Hon’ble Court of Railway Magistrate issued a bailable warrant against Union Joint Home Secretary V Shashank Shekhar and asked him to appear in person before the court on November 23, 2015. He is a witness in a case of his own abduction.

According to facts of the case, Sheshakr – an IAS officer of Nagaland cadre – was travelling to Kolkata by Mumbai-Howrah Gitanjali express on November 8, 2008. Three perrsons, identified as Gaurav Wadhwani (26), Deepak Wadhwani (19) and Sutesh Bhogul (23) – all residents of Raipur, boarded the train from Raipur.

Shekhar had an altercation with them as they did not have proper tickets and he objected to their unauthorized entry into the compartment. As the train arrived near Lal Khadan railway crossing at the outer of Bilaspur, the three stopped the train by pulling chain and forced Shekhar to accompany them.

The three got down from the train along with Shekhar and forced him to get into an auto. Some policemen on duty at Torwa Guru Nanak square stopped the auto, where Shekhar informed the policemen that he was being kidnapped by the three. They were brought to the police station, where a case of kidnapping was registered against the accused.

On the same day, an FIR was also lodged by RPF against unidentified persons for unauthorized stopping of the train at Lal Khadan railway crossing, which resulted in the train getting three minutes late. Investigating the matter, more cases under various sections of the Railway Act were registered against the three.

The matter came up for hearing in the court of special railway magistrate in the year 2009. RPF had made Shekhar, who was the then district collector in Nagaland, a witness in the case of his abduction attempt by the above mentioned three accused.

Shekhar was served a court summon to be present during the next hearing of the case on November 23, 2015, to which he sent a fax to special railway magistrate Vikram Pratap Chandra, urging him to be allowed to give his statement through video conferencing.

The court, however, did not find any legal basis on which Shekhar could be exempted from appearing in person before the court. Consequently the special railway court rejected Shekhar’s plea in this regard and issued a bailable warrant of Rs 500 against him and has asked him to appear before the court on November 23, 2015.

Consider having an all-standee bogie in local trains: Bombay High Court to railways

Bombay High Court seeks survey to decode overcrowding in local trains. Ask Railways to Try bogies without seats in local trains

mumbai suburban locals rush2Mumbai: The railways should keep experimenting with crowd management techniques to ensure a smooth ride for suburban railway passengers, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday.

A division bench of justices Naresh Patil and SB Shukhre said, “Consider having an all-standee bogie in suburban trains to better manage crowds. At least, do it as a pilot project to check the results.”

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation after the court had taken suo moto cognisance of a letter written by a senior citizen, AB Thakkar, in 2009. Thakkar had said entering a jam-packed train during peak hours was a nightmarish experience for the elderly.

The bench also suggested to the railways to consider having double-decker suburban trains. Moreover, the state government has been told to consider appointing a private agency to carry out a survey to analyse the movement of passengers during peak and non-peak hours to come up with ways to better management.

The railways informed the court that around 38,000 senior citizens travel daily on suburban trains. The railways has, after court orders, reserved 14 seats in a compartment for the elderly. Justice Patil suggested to the railways to consider having space for senior citizens in ladies special trains.

The bench, however, going back to its original issue of overcrowding, said, “During peak hours, can a senior citizen enter the compartment? If not, then how can s/he even be able to reach to his/her seat?”

The court has given the railways time till November 18 to get back to it on the suggestions made.

Corruption in Railway Catering: PIL to probe Companies

New Delhi: A plea was today filed in Delhi High Court seeking direction to conduct immediate nationwide investigation on catering firms running contracts in Indian Railways, alleging they were over-charging passengers and flouting directions of the Ministry.

catering in rlysA doctor in his petition before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath alleged that the catering companies were charging arbitrarily and not complying with the rates prescribed in the circular issued by the Ministry of Railways, to the prejudice of the common passengers who were being over charged.

The court has fixed hearing on the public interest litigation (PIL) on November 18.

Doctor Sanjay Gupta, in his PIL, said exorbitant rates were being charged for food and beverage items on trains by the caterers.

“The money involved could be in thousands of crores, once the matter is investigated. Since the catering companies are not issuing bills to the buyers, there is bound to be tax evasion by the companies, depriving the exchequer of valuable tax.

“The receipts issued by the caterers in different trains are in similar layout and printing, indicating that most caterers are common or have formed a cartel,” the PIL said.

The petitioner said that in 2012, Railways had released an elaborate circular pertaining to catering services and prices. “The circular also stated categorically that under no circumstances, the railway should charge different rates as rates of these items are determined at the Railway Board level,” he said.

The petitioner also urged the court to see whether the caterers were complying with the circular, whether they issued bills of food items sold by them to on-board passengers and were paying all applicable taxes on the entire sales made by them on the trains.

He said that while undertaking railway journeys, he found that caterers were not charging uniform rates prescribed by the railways, which was “totally arbitrary and in flagrant violation of the said circular”.

While seeking action against officials and the catering companies, the plea said that the railways have “not bothered to rectify the procedure resulting in routine loss to the citizen and to the exchequer”.

The plea also sought direction to the Ministry to “initiate awareness programme for the passengers”.

7/11 Mumbai Train Bomb Blasts: Court pronounces Death for 5 Convicts

Mumbai Train Bomb Blasts ConvictsMumbai: A Special MCOCA court on Wednesday sentenced five convicts to death in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings case.

The five — Kamal Ansari, Faisal Shaikh, Estesham Siddiqui, Naveed Khan and Asif Bashir Khan — were given death penalty for committing murder and criminal conspiracy under Sections 302 and 120B of the IPC, respectively.  These culprits are not only the destroyers of mankind, but are extremely infused with Islamic terrorism and are capable of eliminating the very fabric of the society at large.  Hence they should not be left, said the Public Prosecutor.

The court, in its order, said: “They shall be hanged by their necks till they are dead.”

However, the five maintained that they were innocent and expressed their faith in higher courts.

The rest were given life imprisonment for offences under MCOCA, UAPA and waging war under Section 121 of the IPC.

“We were hoping for acquittal. …a higher court will acquit them, ” said Sajid Ansari’s wife. He was among those who received life imprisonment.

The MCOCA court recently convicted 12 persons and acquitted Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Shaikh.

Seven serial blasts ripped through Mumbai’s suburban railway network on July 11, 2006, leaving at least 180 dead and several injured.

Mumbai Train Bomb Blasts

Public Prosecutor hails Punishment

Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare had sought death for the eight persons convicted in the 2006 Mumbai train blasts case, but the court awarded it only to five persons.

“I welcome the verdict on punishment. I am happy that the court did not wholly accept the prosecution’s submission and it independently assessed the material and came to its own conclusion,” Mr.Thakare told. The 189th victim of the attack, Parag Sawant, died this July after a long battle with life-threatening injuries. There were initially 13 accused in the case. The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court recently convicted 12 persons in the case, acquitting Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Shaikh. The convicted will appeal against the trial court verdict in the High Court after receiving a copy of the judgment. “This verdict is the biggest injustice to the victims of the blasts. They have only been shown a picture of justice. The citizens and victims should know what went in the name of giving justice to them. We are 101 per cent sure that we will get justice from the High Court,” defence lawyer Wahab Khan said.

A look at the role of convicts in the case

From arranging logistics for carrying out the 11 July, 2006 train bombings to conducting recce of suburban trains, the accused had the task cut out for them to precision, as per the chargesheet filed by Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

Nine years after seven RDX bombs ripped through as many local trains, killing 189 people and injuring over 800, special judge Yatin D Shinde on Wednesday pronounced capital punishment for Kamal Ahamed Ansari (37), Mohammed Faisal Shaikh (36), Ehtesham Siddiqui (30), Naveed Hussain Khan (30) and Asif Khan (38), all of them bomb planters.

The remaining seven, who were given life imprisonment, are Tanvir Ahmed Ansari (37), Mohammad Majid Shafi (32), Shaikh Alam Shaikh (41), Mohd Sajid Ansari (34), Muzzammil Shaikh (27), Soheil Mehmood Shaikh (43) and Zamir Ahmad Shaikh (36).

As per the chargesheet filed in 2006, Kamal Ahamed Ansari transported Pakistani nationals to Mumbai via Nepal border, procured explosives, attended training in Pakistan and also planted a bomb in a local train, which exploded at Matunga
railway station on the fateful day.

On the role played by Mohd Faisal Shaikh, the ATS said he not only went to Pakistan twice for training, but had also sent youths to that country for training purpose. He had also attended conspiracy meetings besides giving shelter to Pakistani nationals. Shaikh received money through hawala route. He also planted a bomb in a suburban train, which exploded in Jogeshwari.

Ehtesham Kutubuddin Siddiqui was the joint secretary of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) for Maharashtra at the time of the bombings. Besides attending conspiracy meetings, Siddiqui also conducted reconnaissance of local trains. He was also present when bombs were made. He planted an explosive in a local train, which exploded at Mira Road station.

According to ATS, Muzammil Shaikh, Sohail Mehmood Shaikh, Zamir Ahmed Shaikh and Naveed Hussain Khan attended conspiracy meetings and also surveyed local trains, while Naveed planted a bomb in a train, which exploded at Khar station.

The chargesheet said that Asif Khan had procured explosive material and planted a bomb, which exploded at Borivali station.

Tanvir Ahmed, who also underwent training in Pakistan, attended conspiracy meetings to carry out blasts. He was also present at the time of assembling bombs at suburban Govandi, the chargesheet stated.

The chargesheet said Mohammed Majid Shafi had arranged for transportation of Pakistani nationals to Mumbai via Bangladesh border and back after blasts. It said that Shaikh Alam provided his house in Govandi for making bombs, while Mohammed Sajid Ansari assembled electric circuit, which was used to trigger bombs.

Thirteen Pakistani nationals, who also played active role in the blasts are still absconding.

Casual Labourers on IR entitled to compute 50% of Casual Service for Determination of Pension and Retirement Benefits: Hyderabad HC

Hyderabad: A full bench of the Hyderabad High Court has ruled that casual workers of the Indian Railways later absorbed as a permanent workers, after completing temporary service are entitled to compute 50 per cent of the casual service for determination of pension and retirement benefits.

The full bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Dilip B. Bhosale, Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar and Justice P. Naveen Rao was answering a reference on the issue as to whether a casual employee of the Railways, later appointed on temporary basis, and then regularly appointed was entitled to count the full service rendered by him as a temporary servant and 50 per cent of his casual service to determine his retirement benefits.
While dealing with the reference the full bench noted that the AP High Court as well as the Delhi High Courts expressed three different views in four similar cases.
The bench pointed out in the four decisions, the scope of various provisions of the Railway Services (Pension) Rules 1993 was not considered by the High Courts and the full bench felt that the provisions of Rule 20 need to be analysed.
The relevant Rule says that qualifying service of a Railway servant commences from the date he takes charge of the post to which he was first appointed either substantively or in an officiating or temporary capacity.
The bench concluded that the only requirement was such a temporary appointment should be continuous and without interruption followed by substantive appointment.
The bench ruled that when there was no interruption of service between the temporary service and the permanent appointment, the entire temporary service should be taken for computation of pensionary benefits.
The full bench observed that it would lead to absurd conclusions if only 50 per cent of temporary service was counted on his permanent appointment when he was entitled to count the full temporary service if he retires as a temporary servant only. When there was no ambiguity in the rules and leads to only one conclusion, there was no scope for any other interpretation that can be given by the writ Court.
The bench said “It is also relevant to note that a person renders long service before he gets permanent appointment. He would hardly have any service left in permanent capacity before he retires. In most of these cases, he would not have the minimum service to qualify for pensionary benefits if the temporary service is not added.”

HC Judge trashes Selection of Halt Agents through Draw of Lots by Kids

Bangalore: The Karnataka High Court has struck down as unjust and illegal the railways’ selection of halt agents through draw of lots by children.

Halt agents are locals appointed on contract to issue tickets on a commission basis at small railway stations. When there’s more than one applicant, the railways usually resorts to the lottery system.

“According to the guidelines, a shortlist has to be drawn up by the selection committee. But the act of selecting the person for appointment is left in the hands of a child, and to the hands of fate. The person to be appointed is merely selected through a lottery. To say the least, there is no logical justification for adopting such a procedure where the selection to a post is left to fate and to fortuitous circumstances,” Justice Raghvendra S Chauhan observed recently while quashing the appointment of one SN Sathesha, as halt agent of Beeranahalli railway station, KR Pet taluk, Mysuru district.

The petitioner, BP Nagaraju Gowda, had challenged the condition mentioned in the railways’ advertisement of April 13, 2013, that the selection for the post of halt agent shall be done through a lottery system where a child would draw the lots.

The judge said the selection process ignores the requirement of merit. “It ignores the requirement of eligibility and suitability… Such a selection process is tantamount to shooting in the dark. Thus, the selection itself is unjust, unfair and unreasonable,” Nagaraju Gowda said.

“To say the least, the selection process has to be fair, just and reasonable. It can neither be arbitrary, nor unfair, nor capricious. Even if the selection process is for a temporary post, it has to satisfy the constitutional mandate of equality of opportunity. The procedure mentioned above clearly violates Article 16 of the Constitution,” the judge further said.

However, the judge declined to accede to Gowda’s prayer for regularizing his services as he had put in 25 years’ service, citing a division bench verdict holding that no master-servant relationship existed between the railway administration and the halt agent.

12 SIMI Terrorists ‘Convicted’ in Mumbai’s 7/11 Train Blasts

2 convicts to be sentenced on Monday, Sept 14

2006 Mumbai Train Blasts 4Mumbai: Nine years after seven RDX bombs kept in Mumbai suburban trains exploded killing 200 people, a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court on Friday convicted 12 persons belonging to Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the serial blasts case.

Delivering the verdict, the Special MCOCA Judge Yatin D Shinde pronounced 12 accused as guilty while acquitting one accused Abdul Wahid Shaikh, 34, in the case.

The 12 accused who were convicted on Friday are: Kamal Ahamed Ansari, 37, Tanvir Ahmed Ansari, 37, Mohd Faisal Shaikh, 36, Ehtesham Siddiqui, 30, Mohammad Majid Shafi, 32, Shaikh Alam Shaikh, 41, Mohd Sajid Ansari, 34, Muzzammil Shaikh Soheil Mehmood Shaikh, Zamir Ahmad Shaikh, 36, Naveed Hussain Khan, 30 and Asif Khan, 38.

However, Azam Chima, along with 14 others, are still absconding in the case.

Arguments for the quantum of sentence are likely to begin on Monday. In the trial that lasted for eight years, the prosecution examined 192 witnesses, including eight Indian Police Service and five Indian Administrative Service officers as well as 18 doctors. The defence lawyers examined 51 witnesses and one person was called as a court witness.

The deposition made by witnesses runs into around 5,500 pages.

Seven RDX bombs had exploded in the first class coaches of Mumbai’s suburban trains on July 11, 2006, killing 200 people and injuring 829.

The blast occurred within a span of 10 minutes between Khar Road-Santacruz, Bandra-Khar Road, Jogeshwari-Mahim Junction, Mira Road-Bhayander, Matunga-Mahim Junction and Borivali.

The MCOCA judge had concluded the trial on August 19 last year. The examination of witnesses resumed after two years since the Supreme Court had stayed the trial in 2008.

Before the stay, the prosecution had already examined a police officer. The Supreme Court vacated the stay on April 23, 2010.

REWIND: 11 minutes, 7 bombs and a 9-year trial

A Special MCOCA court has convicted 12 of the 13 accused in the July 11, 2006 Mumbai suburban train bombings in which 188 people were killed. Here’s a lowdown on what the case is all about:

Mumbai 711The Blasts

Starting 6.24 pm on July 11, 2006, seven blasts went off within 11 minutes ripping through the first class compartments of the trains at Matunga, Mahim, Bandra, Jogeshwari, Borivali and Mira Road stations.

A total of 189 persons were killed and over 819 were injured.

The attack was carried out by the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.

Pressure cookers with a 2.5 kg deadly concoction of RDX, ammonium citrate and other chemicals were placed in the first class compartments of suburban trains of the Western Railway during the evening peak hours.

The Main Accused

Kamal Ahamed Ansari (37), Tanvir Ahmed Ansari (37), Mohd Faisal Shaikh (36), Ehtesham Siddiqui (30), Mohammad Majid Shafi (32), Shaikh Alam Shaikh (41), Mohd Sajid Ansari (34), Abdul Wahid Shaikh (34), Muzzammil Shaikh (27), Soheil Mehmood Shaikh (43), Zamir Ahmad Shaikh (36), Naveed Hussain Khan (30), Asif Khan (38) are the accused who were arrested by Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

Azam Chima, along with 14 others, is absconding in the case.

As per the prosecution’s case, the accused persons were SIMI activists. They held several conspiratorial meetings at Mohd Faisal Shaikh’s house in Bandra and at another accused Mohd Sajid Ansari’s house in Mira Road, where they decided to target local trains as they were crowded and security was not as tight as for the other sites they had surveyed.

On the day of the attacks, they travelled in different taxis to Churchgate with seven bags of explosives, kept at Faisal’s house, and planted them on various trains. The Mumbai Crime Branch arrested five alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives, including a Sadiq Sheikh, in connection with the bombings, bringing forth a possible IM hand in the blasts and putting a question mark on the ATS probe. The ATS later discarded IM’s role and Sadiq, who confessed, was declared hostile.

The Trial

In a trial that lasted for eight years, the prosecution examined 192 witnesses, including eight Indian Police Service and five Indian Administrative Service officers as well as 18 doctors.

The defence lawyers examined 51 witnesses and one person was called as a court witness. The deposition made by witnesses runs into around 5,500 pages.

The prosecuting agency, state Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS), had examined 200 witnesses in the case against 13 accused, while the defence lawyers examined a total of 40 witnesses.

Special MCOCA judge Yatin D Shinde had concluded the trial on August 19 last year.

Asked about the reason behind the delay in delivering verdict, special public prosecutor Raja Thakare, who appeared for the ATS in this case, said the court must be ensuring that all the evidence and arguments of both the prosecution and defence is covered in the judgment and there are no loose ends.

“During the trial, we (prosecution and defence lawyers) submit a lot of evidence and judgments in support of our arguments. All that has to be perused and considered by the judge before passing judgment. It is a huge task,” Thakare said.

 

Why not have Double-Decker Mumbai Locals: HC asks Railways

double decker trainMumbai: Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the railways to consider having double-deckers for Mumbai’s suburban local trains.

A bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice S B Shukre heard a clutch of public interest litigation on women safety. The bench made the oral observation after the Central Railways’s advocate suggested that a panel of judges visit railway stations and see for themselves the problems due to overcrowding.

The judges recalled that some years ago there were plans for converting Mumbai locals into double-deckers. Western Railway’s advocate Suresh Kumar said currently there is a double-decker train to Surat. “Why not locally ? Have you thought if it is possible for local trains?” asked Justice Patil. Kumar said he will take instructions and inform the court at the next hearing.

Central Empowered Committe says no to Hubli-Ankola Rail Line project

hubli-ankola rail lineThe people of Uttara Kannada district are upset at the new hurdle hitting the Ankola-Hubballi railway line. The central empowered committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court to study the environmental impact of the line, has objected to the project.

In its recent report, the committee said the impact of the project on the sensitive ecology of Western Ghats will cause huge burden on the exchequer.

“All is not lost. Our political parties and elected representatives should fight for the cause of the project. All data about environmental assessment in the area and commercial importance of the Hubballi-Ankola line should be presented before the apex court,“ said Rajeev Gaonkar, president of Railway Action Committee of Uttara Kannada.

The CEC had said the Rs 2,315-crore project’s ecological impact would far outweigh its benefits. However, Jagadeesh Birkodikar, president of Konkan Railway Users Action Committee, said the CEC’s decision is not final. There was surprise in some quarters that CEC’s opposition to the railway line was weighed in more by financial considerations rather than by issues raised by the environmentalists.

“We must try to convince the court about the strategic and commercial importance of the project,“ said Birkodikar. The foundation stone for the line was laid by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999. Later some environmental groups approached the SC alleging that the project would affect ecology in the Western Ghats and obstruct the elephant corridor. The apex court stayed the project.

Local organizations said despite the assurances of railways minister Suresh Prabhu and law minister DV Sadananda Gowda that the project would continue, the CEC’s move has upset all calculations.

However, the green brigade has lauded the report.

Ahmedabad Metro Rail Scam: Court rejects former IAS Official’s Bail Petition

Ahmedabad (ADI): A designated court for Anti- Curruption Bureau (ACB) cases today turned down the regular bail plea of former IAS officer Sanjay Gupta and six others in connection with Rs.113-crore Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro rail scam.

The plea was rejected by Special ACB Court Judge H J Joshi.

In their bail plea, Gupta and others had contended that they should be given the relief since the investigation against them is already over and a charge sheet has been filed by the probe agency CID Crime.

However, public prosecutor Varsha Kiran Rao opposed their bail plea and told the court that further investigation is still on against the accused.

Rao said that the CID Crime recently uncovered illegal transactions worth Rs 70 crore made by Gupta, which is in addition to Rs 113 crore of financial irregularities brought out in the initial probe.

She argued that if Gupta is given bail at this point, there is a possibility that he may influence the probe. Based on these arguments, Special Judge H J Joshi rejected the bail plea.

The CID Crime had arrested Gupta, the former chairman of Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro rail project, on May 14, alleging that financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 113 crore took place during his tenure in Metro link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) in 2012.

The CID had booked Gupta and ten others for siphoning off around Rs 113 crore by presenting forged bills and bogus documents related to ground filling work carried out near Bhat village for the metro railway project in 2012.

Gupta also allegedly floated several bogus firms by appointing Neesa Group employees as directors and showed these firms as material suppliers.

He paid Rs 11.12 crore to seven such companies and the money eventually went to his own accounts, CID says. It has also alleged that Gupta accepted Rs 60 crore as commission from other suppliers.

Gupta had quit IAS in the year 2003 to start his own business. He runs a group company of the Neesa Group which runs hotels. He had also started a Hindi channel called Jano Duniya which is defunct.

HC seeks report on Water supplied to Rail Passengers

rail neerNew Delhi: While expressing concern over the quality of water supplied to the residents of railway colonies and passengers at railway platforms of the Northern Railway, the Delhi High Court has issued directions for collecting water samples from different divisions and sought a report on the issue.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said, while hearing a public interest litigation over the weekend that it would at present look into the aspect whether the people living in railway colonies and passengers were getting good quality of water.

The court sought to know about the status of the chlorination plants, while observing that it would issue directions to the authorities in its detailed order later.

The PIL, filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, has sought an independent and court-monitored probe into the neglect of the quality of the drinking water supply and the ‘manipulations in the award of contracts’ for supply of chlorination plants for the past several years.

The petition said while the Railways, having an independent water supply system all over the country, was able to keep trains running by meeting the requirement of water for washing and cleaning of trains, tracks and platforms, it had failed to supply safe and wholesome drinking water to millions of railway passengers and its staff living in railway colonies.

It also alleged that the Railways had continued to neglect the quality of water supply for several years and the records had shown the water quality ‘very unsatisfactory’.

The court issues directions for collecting water samples from different divisions and sought a report on the issue

Karnataka HC notices to Railways, Govt on PIL against PPP Pact on Metro Station

The High Court on Wednesday ordered that notices be issued to the South Western Railway (SWR) and the Urban Development Department on a PIL that has questioned a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement between the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) and Mantri Infrastructure Pvt Ltd for construction of Swastik Metro station in Malleswaram.

Mantri Mall MetroBangalore: A division bench of acting Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice B V Nagarathna gave the order on the petition by Bengaluru Residents’ Associations’ Confederation Ensemble (BRACE) and others.

The petitioners contended that the agreement between the BMRCL and Mantri was illegal and that the 2.5 acres of land acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) could not be handed over to a third party. They also argued that the land acquired for Swastik station was transferred to the company in the name of a PPP project and that would benefit only Mantri, not the State government. They appealed for quashing of the agreement.

Opening park to public: The Union government has sought two weeks from the High Court to file objections to a petition filed by one B R Sharan Kumar for opening the General Cariappa Memorial Park off MG Road to the public.

Kumar contended that the park, spread over 22 acres, is a public amenity and people must be allowed into it. Since the Karnataka government contributed Rs 50 lakh to the park’s development, banning people from entering it is unacceptable. A division bench of acting Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice B V Nagarathna on Wednesday gave the Centre two weeks to file objections and adjourned the hearing.

SC appointed Empowered Committee says ‘no’ to Hubballi-Ankola Rail line

hubli-ankola rail lineNew Delhi: In a set back to the long pending Hubballi-Ankola railway line, the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee on forest and wildlife has given red signal to the project saying the proposed plan will cause huge ecological damage in Western Ghats.

The panel in its report submitted to the Apex Court said that the current value of requirement of 727 hectares of forest land in Western Ghats areas for the project would be Rs 7,426 crore which is more than three times of the total project cost.

The CEC urged the Supreme Court to direct the Ministry of Environment and Forests not to approve the project because ecological losses will be more than the benefit from the project.

The Railway Board sanctioned the 167-km long Hubli-Ankola railway line project during 1995-96. The 45-km stretch of railway line has been completed from Hubballi to Kalghatagi.

Since the Kalghatagi-Ankola stretch comes under the forest zone, railways is waiting for the forest clearances for execution of the project.

Once completed, the Hubballi-Ankola railway line will provide speedy connectivity to the hinterland in north Karnataka to the existing port at Karwar and upcoming Greenfield ports at Tadadi and Haldipur on the west coast.

According to the Environment Ministry, a total of 1,134 hectares of land (727 hectare of forest land, 210 hectare of dry land and 179 hectare of wetland) will be completely degraded with the implementation of the project.

It has noted that the rail line would pass through the sensitive tiger reserve area.  The CEC, however, has given its approval to divert five hectares of fringe forest land for the Hubballi-Kalaghati stretch of the proposed link as sought by the Railways if the project implementing authority confirmed that the segment would be commercially viable.

Katra-Banihal imbroglio: IR says ‘Even experts can make mistakes’; emphasize on dismissal of PIL

Railways questions E Sreedharan’s expertise over J&K line in the Court

katra-banihal linkNew Delhi: Indian Railways has cast doubt on the expertise of E Sreedharan, renowned as the man behind Delhi Metro and the Konkan Railway, in a Delhi High Court battle over the safety of a line being built in Jammu and Kashmir that’s already eight years behind schedule.

The high court had appointed a panel headed by Sreedharan to examine plans for the 111-kilometre, Katra-Banihal stretch after Prashant Bhushan’s Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) filed a PIL on the matter. The railways, rushing to finish the line in five years, has already spent more than Rs 10,000 crore over the past 13 years on the section in a politically sensitive state where the Bharatiya Janata Party is part of the governing coalition.

The railways questioned the Konkan Railway’s “speckled safety record”, providing a detailed report of accidents on the line that had resulted in the death of 71 passengers since it started, emphasising that “even experts can make mistakes”. It also said that, “in stark comparison to Konkan line’s record, there has been no casualty in the Jammu-Baramullah line”, which was built in far tougher geological conditions.

Sreedharan said he would only respond in court to what the railways had to say about his report or regarding the Konkan Railway.

“Whatever I have to say, I will say it in the court,” he said. About the Katra-Banihal line, he said that the court had asked advocates from both sides to tabulate what he had said in the report and what railways were saying. The court will decide, he added.

Sreedharan, then with Indian Railways, and his team successfully built the Konkan Railway two decades ago after difficult terrain had frustrated previous efforts. Being on the coast, the line is vulnerable to heavy monsoon rain that leads to landslides. Delhi Metro is regarded as one of the most successful mass transit systems in India, having transformed public transport in the capital.

Officials said the Prime Minister’s Office is closely monitoring progress of the Katra-Banihal line and wants the railways to take a tough stand on the case. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to have sought regular reports from the railway ministry on the line. The railways has promised the PMO that the line will be completed by 2020.

“In fact, when the PM got to know that the main reason for delay of the project was the PIL, he asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi to personally review the case. Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh has been arguing for the railways ever since,” an official said.

The Sreedharan committee submitted its report in February, stating “the biggest concern regarding the existing alignment is the poor survivability of the tunnels, bridges and cuttings against the threats of landslides, earthquakes, and the security risks arising out of the nearness of the line to the LoC (Line of Control)”. The railways dismissed the report’s conclusions.

“The committee had no topographic sheets to study, no geological, geotechnical, slope stability or seismic study reports to study about a paper alignment which is not even properly marked on paper,” it said. “Therefore, the conclusions of the committee are mere conjectures, fallacious, specious and delusive statements.”

It said none of the committee members had visited the site. “Therefore, the committee had to suggest that the proposed alignment in the report is only a ‘paper alignment’,” the railways said, adding that “the existing alignment is well-researched, well-investigated line where work is progressing successfully without any mishaps or problems.”

The railways also said the committee did not hold discussions with officials and international experts working on the project. “The committee did not consider the voluminous documentation provided by the project team. The committee did not allow presentations from experts, and it did not provide any technical justification and logic supported by any calculations or analysis in support of its paper alignment,” it told the court.

The Railway Board was the sole authority competent to take decisions, including track alignment.

Asking the court to dismiss the PIL, the railways said that if “such administrative decisions continue to be challenged, it would open a Pandora’s Box, making other infrastructure projects prone to challenge and scrutiny thereby affecting the progress of work and as a consequence affecting development of the country at the instance of vested interests.”

Hoardings on Railway property need Corporation nod: Madras High Court

Hoardings Rly LandsChennai: Holding the hoardings erected within railway premises too must have approval from corporation authorities or district collector, the Madras high court has given agencies which own such structures to apply for necessary permission within 15 days. The competent authorities concerned would pass orders on the applications within 30 days thereafter, it said.

Dismissing a big batch of petitions filed by hoarding owners and agencies, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam said: “It shall be your responsibility to obtain permission, permit and licence from the municipal corporation or any other government or local departments for display, as and when required, so as not to contravene any rule or law of the land.”

The common question taken up for consideration was whether railway administration’s permission would suffice to display advertisements on railway property or it would require the nod from municipal corporation/district collector.

The bench said the agencies must pay the municipal corporation or any other government department concerned requisite licence fee and taxes.

Bombay High Court suggests Installation of CCTVs in Local trains for women’s safety

cctvs suburbanMumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday mooted a proposal for the Railway authorities to consider installing CCTVs in ladies’ compartments of local trains to prevent incidents of crime against women.

The suggestion came from a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil which was hearing a petition filed by Help Mumbai Foundation and a suo motu (on its own) petition on strengthening measures to ensure women’s safety.

The petitioners raised the issue in the wake of an incident in which a 22-year-old woman was allegedly molested by an unidentified youth while she was travelling alone in an unguarded ladies compartment of a Churchgate-bound local train on August 7.

The bench also asked the Government Railway Police (GRP) to hold meetings with the Chief Security Commissioners of Central Railway and Western Railway within two weeks to discuss ways and means to strengthen the security system to protect women.

Raising the issue of women’s safety on behalf of the petitioners, Advocates Raju Chavan and Madhav Jamdar said the recent incident was the failure of the Railways to ensure safe passage to women commuters during evening hours.

The lawyers argued that the Railways were not serious in providing security to women during their travel in local trains.

Perhaps Squatters are tolerated near Railway tracks only in India: Bombay High Court

squatters in rly land
Illegal encroachments of Railway Land near Railway Tracks in Mumbai

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday chided the state government and the Railways for allowing squatters to stay for over two decades near railway tracks between Santacruz and Vile Parle stations. The court said it endangers the lives of around 3.5 million Western Railway commuters.

“Almost the entire city comes from North Bombay (sic) to South Bombay by train and returns by train,” said a bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice B P Colabawalla.

A petition was moved by Shiv Sai Welfare Society, on behalf of 105 families, urging a stay on eviction proceedings by Railways and for alternative permanent housing. Its advocate Sachin Masurkar said the families were living there before 1995 and were overlooked in the 2001 survey of a World Bank project for permanent housing for slum-dwellers. He said it is the MMRDA’s responsibility to house project-affected persons even if they are illegal occupants.

Seeing the photographs, the judges observed the hutments are barely two feet from the track. “You have no business to squat near the railway line. It happens only in India where you are tolerated for 20 years. Tomorrow you will construct near the runway,” said Justice Kanade. Masurkar said, “Not that I want to stay here forever. It is the question of my survival.” But Justice Kanade retorted, “It is also the survival of those who travel by train. Every other day we read about stone-throwing incidents.”

Masurkar said the occupants have documents to prove their eligibility. Justice Kanade said, “We don’t want to say anything about those who allowed you to stay and assisted you to procure documents. The point is whether you have a right to squat two feet from the railway line. According to us, you have no right.”

The bench also asked the Railways’ advocate Suresh Kumar, “Why do you allow these people to continue after 20 years?” Kumar said 19,000 families were provided houses under the WB project. “They all came after that,” he said.

Refusing relief, the bench said, “We are surprised how the state government and the Railway authorities permit construction of such shanties next to the tracks.” It also expressed surprise at how squatters get electricity, free water supply and documents like ration card and PAN card. But it directed the authorities to decide the Society’s representation within a month.

NHRC issues Notice to Delhi Metro over Labourer’s death

NHRCNew Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) over reports of a labourer’s death and injuries to another due to negligence.

Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report that a labourer, Vijay Kumar, died and another was injured when a huge cement slab, weighing about three tonnes, fell on them in a tunnel at an under construction Metro site in West Delhi, the Commission has observed that the incident, if true, raises questions regarding violation of human rights of the labourers.

“When the work involved is of such a hazardous nature, safety measures have to be strictly followed and safety of the labourers and other persons working at the site has to be ensured,” said NHRC which issued a notice to the Managing Director of DMRC seeking report on the matter in four weeks.

According to a media report, the incident happened on July 29. The two labourers were rushed to nearby Bhagatchandra Hospital where Vijay Kumar (26) was declared brought dead while Jai Prakash (35) was treated for injuries and discharged the same day. The DMRC had outsourced the construction work to a company HCC-Samsung.

The police has already registered a case of causing death by negligence against the contractor.

Delhi HC seeks Govt reply on delay over Delhi Metro Rail project in Bijwasan

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today sought the response of Ministry of Railways, AAP government and a civic agency on a former BJP MLA’s plea alleging that due to delay in completion of a rail project in Bijwasan here, its cost has escalated from Rs 44.crore to Rs.200 crore.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw while issuing notice to the authorities concerned said the officials who are connected to the project will hold a meeting in one month and inform the court about the time required to complete the project.

“Notice to the Delhi government, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and Ministry of Railways. Meeting be called within a period of one month of the concerned officials responsible for completion of the work.

“They should be in a position to tell the court about the definite time by which the Bijwasan Rail Over Bridge and Rail Under Bridge will start functioning,” the court said.

It further said that if the project is not completed within the timeframe that they give, the officials concerned will be liable for action.

The court also said that Chief Secretary of the Delhi government will convene a meeting in this regard and all the parties will file their affidavit before October 28.

The court’s direction came on a plea filed by former BJP MLA Sat Prakash Rana, who alleged that the project was initiated in 2006 and was to be completed in 2011 at a cost of Rs 44 crore, but it is still unfinished and the project cost has risen to Rs 200 crore.

Advocate Jayant Tripathi, appearing for Rana, contended that due to project delay, it has caused hardship to the people living in the area as they have to take a detour of eight to nine kilometers to go from one side of the track to the other or have to risk life and limb by crossing the railway tracks.

“It is clear that the project was started without any systematic or proper planning, and without acquiring the land necessary for the project. The project further kept on getting delayed due to virtually non-existent inter-departmental co-ordination,” the petition has said.

Karnataka HC issue Notice to Railways over delay in running additional daily train service between Bengaluru and Mangaluru

Karnataka HCBangalore: The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday ordered issue of notice to the Ministry of Railways on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition complaining over delay in the commencement of an additional daily train service between Bengaluru and Mangaluru as proposed in the 2014 Railway Budget.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Aravind Kumar passed the order on the petition filed by Railway Yatri Sangha, Udupi. It was pointed out in the petition that though the Railways had announced the train service numbers — 16575/16756 — and the timings, there was no sign of commencement of the service despite demand for more trains between these two cities.

MP High Court issues Notice to CRB over illegal hoardings in Railway areas

CourtJabalpur (JBP): The Madhya Pradesh High Court has issued notice to the Railway Board Chairman on a petition challenging putting up of illegal hoardings – on land belonging to Railways – overlooking streets. Hearing a revised petition by Mr Satish Verma, a division bench comprising Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice KK Trivedi issued the notice yesterday.

NHRC issue notices to Secretary, Railway Board and several others over death of a youth

Lucknow: In another case, the National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to Railway Board secretary and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Sant Kabir Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh over death of a youth who was pushed from a running train by a TTE. The Commission took suo motu cognizance of a media report that a youth fell on the track and died when a Travel Ticket Examiner (TTE) on board Gorakhdham Express pushed him out of the running train near Khalilabad Railway Station on the July 23 last.

Madras HC asks Gammon and Chennai Metro Rail to choose Arbitrators

Madras HCChennai: The Madras High Court today asked Gammon India and Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL) to suggest names of experts who could be appointed as arbitrator to hear the dispute between the two parties. The development comes on a petition filed by Gammon India seeking a stay on the termination of its contract by Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. During today’s hearing Justice S Vimala asked both the sides to come out with the names. While initially Gammon India had suggested retired Judge Deepak Verma’s name, later it withdrew the name due to technical issues as per the agreement, which laid down certain conditions, for the person who will be nominated for arbitration.

While Gammon said that it is not able to find a person as per the norms in the agreement CMRL has said it can suggest names.

Hearing both the sides, the Court asked them to choose two names from the list, which will be given by CMRL, that are mutually agreed. The two people who were choosen in turn will select one member for arbitration. The Court has posted the matter for the hearing to Friday.

Earlier the Court asked both the parties to resolve the issue amicably, on which CMRL informed that the discussions for amicable settlement did not work.

It may be noted, early this month CMRL decided to terminate the Order placed to Gammon due to delay in completion of the tunnelling project after Gammon’s joint venture partner Mosmetrostroy, a Russian Company, allegedly abandoned the project. Gammon bagged Rs 1,947-crore contract along with Mosmetrostroy in 2011 to design and construct seven underground stations for the CMRL.

During today’s hearing, Senior Counsel P S Raman, who was appearing for the company, argued that the company is ready to bring an Italian company, to replace Mosmetrostroy, which has best of technology and even ready to give undertaking that it will finish the remaining project in a particular time frame, but CMRL is not accepting it.

The counsel for CMRL earlier stated that once the termination notice was issued it cannot be revoked, he also argued that as per the agreement Gammon cannot outsource the project (on the backdrop of his Russian partner running away).

The CMRL has also decided to involve the bank guarantee against Gammon post the termination of the contract. However, Gammon wanted this to be stayed.

Sreedharan Report on Katra-Banihal Rail link only a ‘Paper Alignment’, requires further study: Railways to Delhi HC

New Delhi: The Railway Board today told the Delhi High Court that recommendations of E Sreedharan panel on the Katra-Banihal rail link to the Kashmir Valley was only a “paper alignment” and requires further studies.

The Board has told a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva that the committee’s report does not provide what would be the proposed expenditure that would be incurred for implementing the panel’s recommendations.

It has said a “proper assessment for good construction status of alignment in this area shall require at least five years and would entail an expenditure of about Rs 300 crore”.

It has said that the panel report has been scrutinised by each of the senior officials of its engineering, mechanical as well as electrical and signaling departments, who have disagreed with the committee’s findings.

“Therefore, the entirely unsustainable observations made in the report by the committee that the alignment can be surveyed, staked and investigated quickly in four to six months, is completely untenable deserving rejection at the threshold itself,” the Board has said in its affidavit.

The Board’s reply was strongly opposed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for an NGO which has filed a PIL alleging that the current alignment of the Katra-Banihal rail link had “serious safety problems” and the Railway Board constituted by the Railway Ministryhad rejected the expert panel’s suggestions, including having an alternate alignment.

Bhushan said statements made by the Board question the competence of the committee as well as Sreedharan and asked the court to call the person who drafted the affidavit.

The bench, however, refused to pass any orders and listed the matter for further hearing on August 5.

MMRDA to seek Stay on Implementation of New Tariff Structure on Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro line by MMOPL

Mumbai: The tussle over the new Metro fare continues. In the next few days, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will move the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the implementation of the new Metro fare by Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), which operates the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line.

The Centre-appointed fare-fixation committee (FFC) is learnt to have fixed the Metro fare between Rs 10 and Rs 110. The MMOPL, which is currently charging between Rs 10 and Rs 40, is likely to implement the new fare soon since, technically, it overrides the old fare, in accordance with the the Central Metro Act.

The MMRDA has been demanding a fare between Rs 9 and Rs 13, in accordance with the concession agreement. The MMOPL has been saying its calculations are based on the cost of construction and the operation of Mumbai’s first Metro and the rate of return on the investment made in the project.

MMRDA additional commissioner Sanjay Sethi said, “We have come to know about the manifold hike in Metro fare through news reports. We are going to approach the Supreme Court to get a stay on the implementation of the new fare.”

Incidentally, the apex court is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the Metro fare issue in the third week of this month.

The committee reportedly suggested an increase in fare by Rs 10 for every subsequent station, so the fare between Ghatkopar and Versova can go up to Rs 110. However, the MMOPL said it will carry out a ‘gradual fare increase’.

In January this year, the Bombay high court upheld the MMOPL’s argument, allowing it to charge a higher fare — Rs 10 to Rs 40. The MMOPL charged a promotional fare — Rs 10 to Rs 20 — till January 8 of this year. On March 16, the Supreme Court allowed the MMOPL to charge a higher fare and directed the FFC to come up with a revised fare by July 10.

Railways rapped for not checking litter on tracks

Hyderabad: National Green Tribunal on Tuesday pulled up the Railways for its failure to check littering on tracks near New Delhi railway station, saying “you are creating havoc in the society”.

“We have one of the greatest heritage in the world. What will the people coming capital think about the state of affairs in the country. At least you all do some work honestly,” a bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The bench was hearing a plea seeking a blanket ban on use and sale of plastic products on railway platforms across the country besides imposing a ban on open defecation by people around the tracks.

The green panel asked the railways’ counsel to show how many people were fined for throwing garbage on railway tracks as directed by it earlier.

The counsel submitted that although some people were fined by the authorities but most of them were poor, unwilling and incapable to pay the fine imposed by the tribunal for throwing garbage on tracks.

Customs Appelate Tribunal upholds Temporary Suspension of Gateway Distriparks’ Chandra Container Freight Station

Gateway DistriparksChennai (MAS): Gateway Distriparks Ltd on Monday said that the Customs Appellate Tribunal had upheld a temporary suspension against its Container Freight Station (CFS) subsidiary Chandra CFS, first imposed by the Customs Department. The suspension will continue pending completion of an investigation within three months.

The Customs permission for custodianship of Chandra CFS & Terminal Operators Pvt Ltd, at the CFS Chennai, was temporarily suspended on December 19, 2014, until further orders.  Indian Customs department has earlier suspended the license of Container Freight Station (CFS) at Chennai of Gateway Distriparks Ltd’s subsidiary Company, Chandra CFS & Terminal Operators Private Limited due to an incident involving unauthorised removal or attempted theft of a container from the CFS.

On March 20, the company said it had approached the Appellate Tribunal of Customs Department (CESTAT) to restore the custodianship.

“The Company is now in the process of taking necessary steps for restoring operations at Chandra CFS at the earliest,” said the company in a regulatory filing.

Itarsi RRI Fire Accident: MPHC admits plea, notices slapped on Railways, WCR

Bhopal (BPL): Madhya Pradesh high court (MPHC) has served notices to Union railway ministry, railway board and west central railway (WCR) challenging disruption of railway traffic following a fire in route relay interlocking (RRI) at Itarsi railway station on June 17. MPHC has admitted the PIL on Tuesday and has sought reply from respondents in two weeks’ time.

The petition filed by major trade union forum, National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU). National president Deepak Jaiswal, claimed that though defence ministry has ordnance factories in Katni, Jabalpur and Itarsi where goods trains ply, railways didn’t come out with a contingency plan to tackle the huge signal disruption having far-reaching consequences.

Double bench of Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice S K Gupta served notices to secretary Union Railway Ministry, Chairman Railway Board and General Manager, WCR.

The petition underlined that RRI cabin caught fire on June 17 and railway traffic has been affected since. Scores of trains have been cancelled and several other diverted or short terminated, causing a financial loss running into crores to public exchequer and greatly inconveniencing common man. In his petition, Jaiswal’s pinned blame on negligence of railways authorities.

Disrupted train traffic has affected sick people, outstation exam candidates and businessmen. In several instances, people couldn’t reach courts during important hearings. Postal services and other essential services were badly suffered, the petitioner said.

It was also pointed out that RRI system was to be replaced in 1998, but even after 17 years it was not done despite there were preparations for it. A high-level inquiry into the matter and action against responsible railway officials was demanded. Advocates Rajesh Chandra and Monesh Sahu represented the petitioner at high court.

Railways moves Supreme Court on Dual Freight policy issue

The cash-strapped Indian Railways has moved the Supreme Court in a case against its dual pricing mechanism that can open up the possibility of the transporter collecting thousands of crores additionally from iron ore exporters, who allegedly misused the facility to evade full freight charges

The cash-strapped Indian Railways has moved the Supreme Court in a case against its dual pricing mechanism that can open up the possibility of the transporter collecting thousands of crores additionally from iron ore exporters, who allegedly misused the facility to evade full freight charges.

The railways has suffered a loss of over Rs.29,000 crore in five years on freight earnings because of the faulty manner in which it charged for the carriage of iron ore, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in its report tabled in Parliament last month. The amount, if recovered, can significantly boost the capex plans of the cash-strapped entity, which has projected a 52% jump in Plan spending for the current fiscal.

Ever since the evasion was detected in 2011, the case has been under the scanner of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the CAG, CBI and other agencies. Seeking the transfer of around two dozen petitions pending before different high courts in the country against its 2008 dual pricing mechanism for iron ore, the government has challenged the Calcutta High Court’s order in December last year that upheld the railways’ policy, but restrained it from blacklisting the companies and imposing penalty on them for evading the full freight charges by falsely claiming that the iron ore they moved through railways was meant for domestic consumption.

Railway Claims Tribunal/Ahmedabad imposes fine on Western Railway for Indifferent Attitude and prolonged Delays

Ahmedabad (ADI): In a landmark judgment that will ensure that the railway ministry does not take the Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT) lightly, the RCT Ahmedabad has imposed an exemplary fine on Western Railway officials for what it called ‘indifferent attitude’ towards the functioning of the tribunal.

The RCT awards compensation to victims of train accidents, and hurdles in its functioning severely inconvenience thousands of families who lose their loved ones in such accidents.

The RCT Ahmedabad, in the judgment pronounced on Thursday, has ordered WR officials to pay a fine of Rs.100 per day for every case at the tribunal where arguments have got over but no judgment could be given because of lack of support staff — typists and stenographers. The support staff for all RCTs have to be provided by the railways and, in case of RCT Ahmedabad, by the WR.

Section 31 of the RCT (Procedure) Rules maintains that orders in a case must be passed not later than 21 days from the conclusion of arguments, something the RCT Ahmedabad has not been able to do in 134 cases because of lack of support staff. The fine covers all the 134 cases. Currently, out of a sanctioned strength of 21, the RCT Ahmedabad has only 10.

The order, given by RCT Ahmedabad Member (Technical) Nisheeth Misra and Member (Judicial) Dr Charan Singh, further laid down that the fine “shall not be paid from the railway revenue/public exchequer, but shall be recovered from the salary of the officials who have not provided sufficient PS/CA (private secretary/confidential assistants) to the RCT Ahmedabad bench”.

The order is expected to come as a wake-up call to the railway administration which for long has turned a blind eye to the working of the RCT. The RCT, a welfare legislation intended to give speedy compensation to people involved in railway accidents, is being defeated because of this indifferent attitude, which has seen case expenses up beyond permissible limits. RCT Ahmedabad has around 1,000 pending cases.

The country’s largest Railway Accident Claims Tribunal — the one in Mumbai — has been without a judge for over three-and-a-half months, leaving crores of people wanting to file accident compensation claims in the lurch.

The railway ministry has been unable to decide on a suitable candidate to fill up the post of member (technical) after the last incumbent — S Ananthanarayanan — retired after his stipulated three years on September 5 this year.

In November 2013 media had highlighted the issue of RCT Mumbai, which sees sees almost 12 to 14 claim cases being filed every day and has close to 4,000 cases pending, being without a judge for several months.

Madras HC tells Railways to manage Car Park till Contract is awarded

Chennai (MAS): The Madras high court has directed the Southern Railway to use its own personnel to create and manage the premium car parking facility at Chennai Central railway station till tender formalities are completed and the lot is handed over to a contractor.

Taking note of the railways’ contention that tender for a 48-car premium car parking facility would be out within a month, the first bench comprising Chief Jutice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam suggested that during the intervening period the railways itself could prepare the facility and run it for a fee using its own staff. “We direct that in respect of this premium car parking, the railways should make arrangements through their own personnel to monitor the same. The railways can compensate itself by collecting the charges for the premium car parking and appropriating it in the meantime,” the bench said.

The matter relates to a PIL filed by advocate K Sudhan, who wanted the court to direct the railways to regulate car parking area at Chennai Central railway station by earmarking separate parking lots for private or owner-driven cars. In addition to other things, he wanted railways to permit parking of call taxis, tourist cabs and autorikshaws only in a designated area, either inside or outside the station.

He said the railways must ensure that call taxis, tourist cabs, autos and other categories of commercial vehicles are not allowed to remain stationery for any reasons in any part other than their designated parking lot and take appropriate action against all those persons illegally managing, controlling and regulating the car park area. He sought action against persons illegally collecting car parking charges from visitors.

The judges recorded the fact that the parking problem at Chennai Central railway station had aggravated because of the metro rail work. They also said that according to the railways, a regular car parking space of 61 cars is available where contract has been awarded.

As for premium car parking facility, with space to park 48 cars, the tender is slated for opening on June 22, and within a period of one month thereafter tender will be finalized, the railways told the court.

Kolkata Metro: Land relief for Noapara-Barasat metro corridor

Kolkata (KOAA): Land disputes have halted infrastructure projects in the city time and again but never has the contruction work continued on a disputed land even as the warring groups battle it out in the court. In a first, the state government and a private agency (the land owner) have agreed to facilitate construction of the Noapara-Barasat Metro corridor while resolving the contentious ‘vested land’ issue legally in the court.

Most of the Metro projects across the city were announced by Mamata Banerjee when she was the Railways minister in the UPA government. Things were moving fast but the projects got stuck after Mamata walked out of the alliance and later became the chief minister. Only recently, the state government started taking measures to untangle the Metro mess. The East-West corridor and the Joka-BBD Bag lines were the first to benefit out of the state-Centre bonhomie and now, the Barasat line, it seems, has started getting its due.

The Noapara-Barasat corridor is supposed to pass through a land owned by Saregama Ltd. The state government had vested the land for construction but Saregama moved the court against it, leaving the future of the project uncertain. Recently, the state government intervened and a solution was arrived at.

“The infrastructure projects in the state hold so much of goodwill that even the corporate body agreed to bury the hatchet as far as allowing the construction of the corridor on its land is concerned. Not less than 500 square metre of land at Jessore Road with right of way will be allowed for the construction. On Monday, the land was formally handed over to the Metro authority. The court battle will take its own course in the court for resolving the issue legally,” said principal secretary (transport) Alapan Bandyopadhyay.

The transport department will now seek similar cooperation from Jessop, another corporate entity, whose land will also be required for further extension of the corridor. The district administration has been asked to look into the removal of encroachment to facilitate completion of the project. Clearing these land hurdles is most crucial as the construction will facilitate a seamless ride to the airport. This corridor will complete a circle of transit corridor with New Garia-Airport Metro also having an interface at the airport.

From Noapara to Barasat, the alignment will be elevated and pass through Ramakrishna Palli and Santinagar stations whereas the underground track will pass through DumDum Cantonment and Jessore Road before converging with other routes at the airport station. From here, both the lines will run parallel to NH 34 till the junction of Nawali Khal. The line will reach the surface near Madhyamgram station.

However, the future of the alignment beyond airport is still uncertain. The Metro Railway authorities had written to the Railway Board in May last year and requested it to modify the plan — to truncate it at airport — with no visible headway beyond the airport.

“In the original plan, there was the provision for a 5.6km underground route in and around the airport. But since encroachment on railway land is not allowing progress of the full stretch, we have urged the Board to allow us to terminate the route at airport itself, which can be achieved by constructing a 1.7km underground track instead,” said a Metro Railway official. “Work on the stretch between the airport and Barasat can be taken up later if we get the land in future,” he added.

Run more trains from Bangalore to Mangalore: HC to Railways

Bangalore: The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the Railways to provide additional train services from Bengaluru to Mangaluru.

While disposing of a PIL petition, a division bench of Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice Ram Mohan Reddy directed the railways to come out with a concrete solution to accommodate more passengers travelling from Bengaluru to Mangaluru by either providing special trains or adding more bogies to the existing train. The petition was filed by Latha Ramesh, a Bengaluru-based advocate, and Pradeep Kalkura, a Mangaluru-based businessman and social worker. “This is not a frivolous PIL; it raises a public issue and the railways must find a solution to solve the problem,” the bench observed. The petitioners had contended that though the railways had promised them special trains, the proposition never materialised.

“Former railway minister D V Sadananda Gowda had said that two night trains were already operating and one more will ply soon. However, only one train is operating. This train, which runs from Bengaluru to Mangaluru, splits into two with one going towards Kasargod and another towards Kundapur. This cannot be considered as two trains,” said Puttige Ramesh, counsel for the petitioners.

The petitioners also contended that the festival season is likely to begin shortly and there will be more passengers going towards Mangaluru and Udupi. “Only those passengers, who travel by light vehicles can go by road along the Agumbe stretch, and not those travelling by bus, due to conditions of ghats. On another route, through Charmadi ghats, the traffic density is high and there are frequent road blocks,” said counsel Ramesh.

Citing a recent incident where two ministers were struck for a long time on this road, the counsel said that the government should provide restrooms for travellers.

Chennai Metro to invoke ₹77 Crore Bank Guarantee given by Mosmetrostroy to settle the dues of sub-contractors

Chennai (MAS): More sub-contractors who have supplied construction material for Chennai Metro Rail project are planning to seek legal remedy to recover their dues from Mosmetrostroy, a Russian company which handles the tunnelling contract for the project.

Mosmetrostroy, in partnership with an Indian company, Gammon, was awarded two contracts totalling ₹1,947 crore for building 19 underground stations and 18 km of associated tunnels for Chennai Metro.

Bank Guarantee

Chennai Metro can invoke bank guarantee to the tune of ₹77 crore given by Mosmetrostroy to settle the dues of sub-contractors of the Russian company. However, for this, an order from the Madras High Court is necessary.

Madhiazhagan, who is among five petitioners said when the matter came up for hearing on Monday, the Court wanted to know whether Gammon and CMRL had any objection to the invoices raised. They did not have any objection, and have, in fact, endorsed the invoices, he said. The sub-contractors first approached the Commissioner of Police and then CMRL to recover their dues. They also approached the Russian Consulate to bring back the officials to start the project, but in vain, he said.

100 vendors left in lurch

However, Mosmetrostroy stopped work last month after Chennai Metro Rail declined to accept its demand for cost escalation.

Gammon handles the construction of underground stations that’s going on.

R Madhiazhagan, Vice-President, Chennai Vendor Association, who represents the sub-contractors, said over a 100 sub-contractors who supplied sand, cement and brick, bolts and steel bars have been left in the lurch with payment dues of over ₹30 crore.

Sources said five vendors have filed petitions on Monday seeking a direction from the Court to help them recover the dues, and the rest will approach the court in a day or two.

General Manager of Southern Railway directed to appear before Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court

A.K.Agarwal, General Manager, Southern Railway
A.K.Agarwal, General Manager, Southern Railway

Madurai (MDU): The Madurai bench of the Madras high court has issued statutory notice seeking the presence of the Southern Railway General Manager Ashok K Agarwal and deputy chief engineer S Manoharan on a contempt petition relating to the delivery of possession of a land to a company (East Indian Corporation Ltd).

The petition was filed by the company’s managing director T Meenakshi.

According to her, the company’s land to an extent of one acre in Adiyanoothu village in the Dindigul district was acquired under land acquisition proceedings for the railways in 2004. However, no award giving compensation was made then.

After two years, the state government secretary said the acquired land was not required by the railways and hence the lands are released from the acquisition proceedings.

Under law, the petitioner was eligible to claim damages for the occupation of the said land she sent notice to the railway and state government authorities claiming delivery of possession and compensation. But no reply came from them.

Later, she came to know about the collector’s communication to the Southern Railway general manager on July 29, 2006, seeking Rs 11.89 crore compensation from them. As there was no reply for it too, the petitioner then sent a representation to the Southern Railway general manager on January 1, 2014 claiming possession and Rs 20 crore compensation.

But, her efforts went in vain as the railways did not respond to it.

Hence, she filed a petition before the high court bench which on June 19, last year directed the railway to pass appropriate orders on the representation within six weeks from availing the court order.

But the railways sought extension of time to comply with the court order and accordingly further eight weeks were granted. Thereafter too, the court order was not obeyed. Hence the petitioner moved high court bench filing contempt petition.

When the matter came up for admission, justice R Mahadevan ordered notice and adjourned the matter.

Ashok K Agarwal and deputy chief engineer S Manoharan has to appear in connection with a contempt petition relating to the delivery of possession of a land to a company.

Why no special trains to Mangaluru: HC asks S.W.Railway

Bangalore (SBC): Observing that repair of the Shiradi Ghat road may take another six months, the high court on Friday asked the railways why it can’t introduce special trains between Bengaluru and Mangaluru till the work is completed. A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee said, “You operate so many special trains, like Dasara, summer, winter specials. Why can’t you provide special trains along this stretch to ease traffic?” The court asked the railways to respond by next week after its counsel said he has to seek instructions from the railway board. It gave the directions while hearing a PIL seeking introduction of special trains between Bengaluru and Mangaluru. Earlier, the petitioners said commuters have to travel for 10-12 hours to reach their destinations through alternative routes as Shiradi Ghat road is closed.

Railways fined for denying passenger a trip

Alappuzha: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission last week fined the Railways Rs 50,000 for denying a passenger his journey to Chennai from Haripad despite having a reserved ticket. The incident took place on January 28 in 2012 when complainant P.J.Kurian, a pharmaceutical businessman here, could not board the Thiruvananthapuram–Chennai Egmore Express as his compartment was locked from inside. The train was scheduled to arrive at 12.55 am and he was to attend an important business meeting in Chennai. When he reached the platform there was not enough light to read the coach number and he had to take a long walk to reach the reserved compartment.

There were neither railway protection force nor officials to assist him. Though he had managed to identify the compartment, he was not able to get into the train as the doors were locked. His efforts to draw attention of the passengers and TTE inside also failed and the train left the station without him.
Later, he complained with then minister of state for Railways Muniyappa but to no avail. He then moved the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum and got a favourable  verdict on June 22 in 2012. The magistrate asked the Railways to pay Rs 50,000 as compensation and refund the ticket fare and other expenses calculated at Rs 2000.
But the Railways appealed in the State Consumer Court which too pronounced a verdict in his favour. The Railways then challenged it before the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum without success, his counsel Bijli Joseph said.

MEGA Metro Rail scam accused former IAS sent to Judicial Custody

Ahmedabad (ADI): Criminal Investigation Department (CID)-Crime, Gujarat Police today didn’t demand further remand of Ahmedabad Metro rail scam accused former IAS officer Sanjay Gupta and Radhesh Bhatt. Gupta who was earlier sent on four days remand told the court that he was pressurized during remand. Gupta also sought protection from court against news coverage of ongoing investigation while the case is sub judice. Gupta’s lawyer told court that accused wants to give statement under CRPC 281 before court. Further hearing in this case is scheduled on 21st May. Court has sent both accused to Judicial custody

Delhi HC gives centre 1 month to reply on alleged faulty Rail Line in J&K

Rail link to J&K may just have turned more distant as High Court concerned about safety of Katra-Banihal section. Delhi High Court orders for a stringent investigation and action against the officials involved in construction of Katra-Banihal Rail line.

New Delhi: The dream of an unbroken rail link between Jammu & Kashmir and the rest of the country became a bit more distant with the HC on Monday expressing serious concern about the safety of the alignment being pursued by the government on the Katra-Banihal section. The Delhi High Court today gave the centre one month to spell out its stand on the contentious Katra-Banihal railway line. The court which was hearing a petition by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking a realignment of the existing track due to safety considerations, today said that “it’s only concern was the safety of citizens and not the cost” .

It asked the railways to change the alignment of the 124 km section, running through the Himalayas, as suggested by an Expert Committee headed by former Delhi Metro Chief E.Sreedharan.  The railways, according to sources at Rail Bhavan, had rejected the report submitted in February, saying it was too late to change it. They had already spent Rs 10,000 crore on the 124 km section in question over last 13 years – already running eight years behind schedule.

Speaking on behalf of CPIL, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan drew attention of the court to audio recordings of a review meeting of the rail project in which a former senior officer who was incharge of the project is heard saying “Do you want to go back and tell him (the PM) it’s a national project, he will have to be consulted and cabinet will have to be consulted, will you go and tell sir we b****** well made a serious mistake! Can we afford to say this?”

Reacting to this, the Delhi High Court observed “there was a different PM then and today, there is a new PM , so why should they be afraid of him?”.

The Udhampur to Baramulla rail link is the railways most ambitious project however it has been dogged with problems and is eight years behind schedule with a huge cost escalation from an initial 1,500 crores to 20,000 crores.

In February this year, an expert committee headed by Dr E Sreedharan, Delhi’s former metro chief had, in a scathing indictment of the ongoing project, said that it was unable endorse the current project due to “reservations about the survivability of the present alignment” and “particularly the arch bridge across the Chenab”

The Delhi High Court today said that “this route is not as safe and must be considered in the wake of the recent events in Nepal”. The court has also asked the government to spell out its stand on the issue and asked the centre to file an affidavit in a month’s time.

The report had endorsed the new alignment, saying that “the biggest concern regarding the existing alignment is the poor survivability of the tunnels, bridges and cuttings against the threats of landslides, earthquakes, and the security risks arising out of the nearness of the line to the LOC.”

The Court castigated the Indian Railways for their lack of concern over safety issues. When the railways, represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, argued that so much money had already been spent and it was not feasible to change alignment at this late stage, the Court said that it did not want “railways to throw good money after bad.”

Some of the bridges and tunnel portals on the section had already collapsed. The alignment envisaged 62 tunnels, 96 bridges and nine stations. One of the most challenging parts of the section was to be the 1.35 km-long mega arch bridge across river Chenab. Sreedharan had pointed out in the report that “the foundations of the arch are located on the steep slopes on geologically weak rocks dipping towards river bed on Qazigund end.” He also found it to be a security risk.

If the railways accept the new alignment, they will have to carry out extensive geological investigations on ground with new location surveys and bridge designs.

The bench, headed by Justice Badar Ahmed, was hearing the PIL filed by Prashant Bhushan’s Centre for Public Interest Litigation. Bhushan sought implementation of the Sreedharan report by the railways. He told that the government should not hesitate to change the alignment when it was clear that the existing alignment was not safe.

The section, part of the railways’ most ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla-Rail Link (USBRL) project, was flagged off by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 with a deadline of five years for completion. The Katra (in Jammu) and Banihal (in Kashmir) is the most critical and technically most challenging section.

Delhi CM Kejriwal, AAP Leaders appear in Delhi Court on Rail Bhavan protest case

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and three other AAP leaders, accused of violating prohibitory orders here and obstructing public servants in discharge of their duty during an agitation, today appeared in a Delhi court.

Kejriwal and four others appeared in court in pursuance to the direction of Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain, who was earlier irked that the accused had not appeared before him even on the last date of hearing.

While Kejriwal, Sisodia and AAP leaders Rakhi Birla, Somnath Bharti and Ashutosh were present in the court, Sanjay Singh sought exemption from personal appearance for the day on the ground that he was out of station. His plea was allowed.

They were chargesheeted by the Delhi Police in connection with staging a protest against police officials outside Rail Bhavan last year. All accused were earlier granted bail by the court.

During the hearing, senior advocate H S Phoolka and advocate R K Wadhwa, appearing for Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, moved an application seeking certain documents which were not supplied to them with the charge sheet.

The court directed the SHO of Parliament Street and the investigating officer of the case to supply copy of deficient documents, including two CDs and complete transcript of speech to the accused.

The court fixed August 4 for hearing arguments on framing of charges against the accused.

The court had earlier directed the leaders to appear before it, saying there was “no justifiable ground” for their exemption from personal appearance.

Kejriwal and other leaders had staged a ‘dharna’ outside Rail Bhavan demanding action against police officials who had refused to carry out raid on an alleged drug and prostitution racket in South Delhi in January last year.

The six accused were chargesheeted by the police for allegedly violating prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC and also obstructing public servants in discharge of their official duty.

The police had chargesheeted them under various sections of the IPC, including 145 (joining and continuing in an unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of his public function), 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty).

In its charge sheet, the police had claimed that on January 19 last year, the Assistant Commissioner of Police had imposed prohibitory orders in North Block, South Block, Vijay Chowk areas near Rail Bhavan and Parliament Street.

On January 20, 2014, Kejriwal and other AAP leaders assembled at the Rail Bhavan chowk defying the prohibitory orders, it had said.

The police had alleged that on being told about the prohibitory orders, Kejriwal had told the cops that he would go to the then Home Minister’s office at North Block in his car and also laid a condition that mediapersons and his supporters would accompany him.

The charge sheet had further claimed that Kejriwal, Sisodia and other AAP leaders along with 250-300 supporters defied the orders and started moving towards the then Home Minister’s office.

When the police officials present there tried to stop them with barricades, these leaders instigated their supporters and they manhandled policemen, it had alleged.

According to the police, Kejriwal and his supporters then sat on a ‘dharna’ at the chowk defying the prohibitory orders.

The charge sheet had said when Kejriwal and his supporters were stopped at the barricades at Rail Bhavan chowk, they raised slogans against the police, the central government and the Home Ministry and tried to move forward by manhandling the police officials present there.

When the protesters were stopped, Kejriwal declared that he would stage ‘dharna’ for the next 10 days at Rail Bhawan chowk, it had said. He sat there and gave instigating speeches, the police had alleged.

Kejriwal had demanded immediate suspension of the “corrupt” officials who refused to act in the interest of the public whose cause Somnath Bharti had taken up, it had said.

Bharti had created a controversy in January last year when he went to a locality in his constituency in Malviya Nagar, claiming a drug and prostitution ring was being run from a residence and demanded that the police raid the place.

Bombay HC directs Railways to specify additional manpower to ensure presence of Policemen on all trains

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has given the Railways one last chance to specify the additional manpower and resources it will require to ensure presence of policemen on all trains with an overnight journey.

A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice C V Bhadang has set a deadline of July 31, for the railways to come out with the details.

The railways had earlier informed the court that while deciding on the vulnerability of a train special emphasis should be given to overnight journeys. However, the police personnel can be posted on the trains subject to availability of manpower resources, it had said.

The HC had then directed an officer so nominated by the director general of Railway Protection Force to file an affidavit mentioning the requirement of additional manpower and resources in this regard.

The railways recently sought more time to file the affidavit and the request was accorded by the court, but with a deadline.

The court is hearing a petition filed by one Bhavika Mehta who lost her legs while chasing a thief on an outstation train in 2012. She has said that there was no policemen present on the train at the time.

Mehta had moved the HC seeking reimbursement of her medical expenses following the mishap from the railways. After repeated orders and directions by the court, the railways released the compensation to Mehta.

On the day of the incident, Mehta was travelling from Amritsar to Mumbai Central. After a thief snatched her bag, she tried to chase him down, but the in the process fell off the running train. Later, her legs had to be amputated.

Since she could not take medical aid in a nearby railway/civil hospital, Mehta got herself admitted to a private hospital in Chandigarh and claimed a compensation of Rs.9 lakh. While this was granted to her, the railways rejected her request for an additional Rs.5 lakh to get a prosthetic leg.

Bombay HC extends time to Rlys for decision on allotment of land to Maha Govt for construction of toilets Pandharpur

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has extended the time granted to Railways to take an appropriate decision on allotment of land owned by it to Maharashtra government for construction of permanent toilets at the pilgrimage city of Pandharpur in Solapur district.

In March, the high court had directed the Railway Board to consider a proposal forwarded to it by the General Manager of Central Railways for allotment of the land by April 20.

However, the Railways filed an application before the court in May stating that the board has still not taken a decision and sought extension of the time granted to it.

A division bench of justices N H Patil and V L Achliya, while granting extension directed the Railways to take its decision as expeditiously as possible.

During the last hearing, the high court had criticised the government and other authorities for failing to put a stop to the practice of manual scavenging and not constructing enough mobile toilets in the city during the festival when lakhs of people visit it.

The court had then observed that if the Railway Board approves the proposal to allot land then the government shall take all steps towards construction of permanent toilets ahead of the Ekadashi festival in July.

“We are sure that the Railway Board will take into consideration the fact that availability of land is a matter of dire necessity. The largest gathering of pilgrims in Pandharpur is always on account of Ashadi Ekadashi, which in 2015, will be in the third week of July. If the land is allotted at the earliest then the government can commence construction of toilets immediately,” the court had said.

Delhi Court summons Kejriwal, Sisodia for protest at Rail Bhavan last year

On January 20, 2014, Kejriwal and other AAP leaders assembled at the Rail Bhavan chowk defying the prohibitory orders, it had said

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and four other AAP leaders, accused of violating prohibitory orders in Delhi and obstructing public servants in discharge of their duty during an agitation, were on Monday directed to appear before a Delhi court on May 15.

Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain was irked that Kejriwal and other accused had not appeared before it even on the last date of hearing and said there was “no justifiable ground” for their exemption from personal appearance.

Advocate Rishikesh Kumar, who appeared for the accused, assured the court that Kejriwal, Sisodia and other accused would positively appear before it on Tuesday.

“Kindly give us time for tomorrow. They (accused) all will appear. I am giving undertaking that they will appear before the court tomorrow,” the counsel said.

“It has been submitted that accused number one (Kejriwal) and accused number two (Sisodia) are Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and remaining accused persons are senior members of the AAP and could not appear today due to their busy schedule. Perusal of the records shows that accused persons did not appear on the last date of hearing,” the court said.

“No justifiable grounds for exemption is made out….Put up for appearance of accused persons and arguments on charge on May 15,” the magistrate said.

Kejriwal, Sisodia and AAP leaders Sanjay Singh, Rakhi Birla, Somnath Bharti and Ashutosh were chargesheeted by the Delhi Police in connection with the case. All the accused were earlier granted bail by the court.

Kejriwal and other leaders had staged a ‘dharna’ outside Rail Bhavan demanding action against police officials who had refused to carry out a raid on an alleged drug and prostitution racket in South Delhi in January 2014.

The six accused were chargesheeted by the police for allegedly violating prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC and also obstructing public servants in discharge of their official duty.

The police had chargesheeted them under various sections of the IPC, including 145 (joining and continuing in an unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of his public function), 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty).

In its charge sheet, the police had claimed that on January 19 last year, the Assistant Commissioner of Police had imposed prohibitory orders in North Block, South Block, Vijay Chowk areas near Rail Bhavan and Parliament Street.

On January 20, 2014, Kejriwal and other AAP leaders assembled at the Rail Bhavan chowk defying the prohibitory orders, it had said.

The police had alleged that on being told about the prohibitory orders, Kejriwal had told the cops that he would go to the then Home Minister’s office at North Block in his car and also laid a condition that mediapersons and his supporters would accompany him.

The charge sheet had further claimed that Kejriwal, Sisodia and other AAP leaders along with 250-300 supporters defied the orders and started moving towards the then Home Minister’s office.

When the police officials present there tried to stop them with barricades, these leaders instigated their supporters and they manhandled policemen, it had alleged.

According to the police, Kejriwal and his supporters then sat on a ‘dharna’ at the chowk defying the prohibitory orders.

The charge sheet had said when Kejriwal and his supporters were stopped at the barricades at Rail Bhavan chowk, they raised slogans against the police, the central government and the Home Ministry and tried to move forward by manhandling the police officials present there.

When the protesters were stopped, Kejriwal got annoyed and declared that he would stage ‘dharna’ for the next 10 days at Rail Bhawan chowk, it had said. He sat there and gave instigating speeches, the police had alleged.

Kejriwal had demanded immediate suspension of the “corrupt” officials who refused to act in the interest of the public whose cause Somnath Bharti had taken up, it had said.

Bharti had created a controversy in January last year when he went to a locality in his constituency in Malviya Nagar, claiming a drug and prostitution ring was being run from a residence and demanded that the police raid the place.

Court orders Confiscation & Auction of Sheikhpura Railway station to pay Retiral dues of a Station Master

Sheikhpura (SHK): A civil court in Sheikhpura district in Bihar has ordered the confiscation and auction of Sheikhpura railway station to pay the overtime dues of a retired station master.

The overtime amount that stood at Rs 22,080 in 2001 has accrued to Rs 2.5 lakh with interest and fine. The court will start the process of confiscating the railway station on May 29 by issuing and pasting notice for auction. The civil judge (junior division) said the court was constrained to do so because the railways did not bother to pay Misri Raut (71) his overtime dues with interest despite its order in 2009. The court also asked the railways to compensate the retired station master for “physical and mental suffering”.

Misri Raut’s lawyer Janardhan Prasad Singh said: “The court order may sound strange but it reflects on the poor functioning of railways. The court has also asked railways to bear the entire expenses Misri had to spend on execution of the court order. The railways’ lawyer has offered the poor logic of procedural delays in which the court found little merit.”

Singh said the court had imposed a fine of Rs 50 per day for delay since 2004. “As of now, it has gone up to Rs 2.5 lakh. Besides, my client will get reimbursement for court expenses,” said Singh.

Misri Raut, who retired as station master in Sheikhpura in 2003, told: “I am not sure whether I will get the dues. It has been an endless wait. Just see the temerity of railways that it did not bother to obey the court order to pay me my overtime dues. I am still not sure about the other set of legal wrangles. It is my hard-earned money and I want it at all costs. I have already lost my peace of mind fighting unending legal battle”.

Raut, who gets Rs 11,000 monthly pension, said his family of five is dependent on the sum. “I have two sons and a daughter. They have not yet completed their studies. If I get money now, I can be at least sure of funding my children’s education. My life is finished in legal battle. I want peace of mind,” said Raut without showing any excitement on the court order. For him, the only thing matters is getting the money in his bank account with fine and interest.

DMRC says not having Dustbins at stations prevents Terror Attacks; Delhi HC not convinced

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday told the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that not having dustbins on metro platforms due to fear of bomb blasts was a very myopic view of security since airports and even railway stations have garbage bins.

The court, which directed the DMRC to examine viability of having spittoons and dustbins on the stations, also asked whether drinking water and toilet facilities were easily available to commuters. “Don’t you have dustbins at airports and bus stations? Can you protect people by not having dustbins? This is a very myopic view of security,” Justice Rajiv Shakdher said.

The court then directed the DMRC to indicate on an affidavit how many toilets and drinking water facilities are available at the metro stations and whether the amenities are generally accessible to commuters. “Show me that the toilets are available and can be easily accessed. Not telling you to redraw your stations,” the court said to DMRC.

The court also issued notice to the Centre, Delhi government and the DMRC, seeking their replies by August 11, the next date of hearing. The orders and observations came on plea of Kush Kalra, a metro commuter who has sought directions to the DMRC to provide safe drinking water, toilets and dustbin facilities to the passengers of Delhi metro.

Advocate Kush Sharma, appearing for Kalra, argued in court that if a commuter was only travelling with a metro card and no money, then he or she will not get a drop of water to drink at any of the stations for free and alleged this was discrimination between those who have money and those who do not.

The court also refused to accept the DMRC’s argument that the non-availability of toilet and water facilities at all stations is due to the reason that journey on the metro is for short duration.

SC allows Gammon India to bid for upcoming 8 Metro Stations in Delhi

Gammon had moved an appeal against Delhi HC judgment upholding award of Rs 665 cr work to GYT-TPL

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today granted partial relief to Gammon India Ltd when it asked the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation to consider its financial bid for building eight metro stations in the capital. Its rival civil engineering firm, GYT-TPL, may match its financial bid if it is lower, the court said.

Gammon had moved the appeal against the Delhi high court judgment upholding the award of Rs 665 crore work to GYT-TPL, ajoint venture between a Chinese firm and the Tatas.

The bench headed by Justice T S Thakur modified the high court order invoking public interest. The bench also observed that the high court judgment will not act as blacklisting Gammon in the current bids. DMRC also gave an assurance on this count, though it had earlier pointed out that the company has been blacklisted earlier.

Gammon argued that it has completed 13 projects for DMRC and no infrastructure company could make such a claim. However, it was thrown out of the race on technical grounds, which was arbitrary. When its bid was rejected it was not shown why it was done. The rejection was the result of information collected behind its back, without giving an opportunity to meet the allegations.

DMRC and the joint venture contended that Gammon had suppressed important information in the bid documents, leaving certain columns blank. It had not disclosed deficiency in the contracts in Chennai and even in Delhi.

Though it had become eligible by giving doctored information, it was found unsuitable according to other criteria. Moreover, counsel submitted that courts should not interfere in commercial matters unless there was gross arbitrariness.

Godhra Sabarmati Express burning case: Gujarat HC reserves Order on appeals

Ahmedabad (ADI): The Gujarat High Court today reserved its order on the appeals filed in the 2002 Godhra train burning case.

Arguements of defence and the prosecution agency special investigation team before the division bench of Justices Anant Dave and G R Udhvani ended today.

On February 27, 2002, S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was set on fire near Godhra station, killing 59 people, most of them karsevaks, and sparking state-wide riots in which over 1,200 persons perished.

The defence has relied, among other things, on the “loopholes” in the evidence of forensic experts. While SIT has relied upon testimonies of witnesses and forensic reports as well.

P R Patel, the judge of the special trial court, had on February 22, 2011 convicted 31 persons for murder and criminal conspiracy. Eleven of them were sentenced to death while others were awarded life imprisonment.

Defence lawyer Nitya Ramkrishnan today pointed out “loopholes” in the theory of forensic experts as to how the S-6 coach may have caught fire. She also accused SIT of “dishonest investigation”.

According to eye-witnesses, burning rags were thrown inside the coach. However, many of these witnesses also said that those rags were put out by passengers while the FSL experts suggested that the rags led to the fire, she said.

SIT did not find any more fact other than those found by the police earlier. Nor did it consider the evidenciary value of a sting operation by journalist Ashish Khetan (now an AAP leader), whereas in Naroda Patiya riot case, conviction was based on the same sting operation, she said.

The sting had some of the key witnesses confessing to having accepted bribes from investigators to make certain statements.

Five rooms of Una Railway Station sealed on Court Orders

Una: An interesting development occurred in Himachal Pradesh when five rooms of the Una railway station was sealed yesterday on court orders over land claim of local people. The order to attach the property of Indian Railway was passed by Mukesh Bansal, Additional District and Session Judge Una.

The order came after the failure of railway authorities to settle the land claims acquired for laying down the track few years back. The land belongs to one Kamla Devi of Takka village, who filed a case in the court against railway for better compensation of her acquired land. However, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on appeal of Railway set aside the lower court orders and when the seal was broken later in the evening, the railway officials took a sigh of relief.

High court vacates lower court’s order to seal Una railway station

Few hours after the district court ordered to seal the Una railway station, Himachal Pradesh high court vacated the attachment order of the district court on Wednesday.

The district court had given the possession of the Una railway station to the farmers, who had been seeking compensation for the land acquired by the railway department years back and sealed the premises, including ticket booking counter and station master’s office.

The high court orders said that the appeal already stands admitted and interest of the claimant is safeguarded by the deposit of the entire amount awarded along with interest before the court. “I see no reason why the execution proceeding should be permitted to continue,” court order read.

The order was passed by a single bench of high court comprising justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, directing the government to ensure no hindrance to trains arriving at the station in the wake of enhanced amount of compensation disposed by the railway.

Today, the farmers reached the district court in Una to get the order of possession of railway station. Since no railway official was present at the station, the court ordered to seal it around 2pm. The district and session judge, Mukesh Bansal, had earlier ordered to seal the Janshatabdi Express Train as railway failed to comply with the court order.

Railway’s advocate AK Lath said railway had submitted the demand draft of compensation amount and asked the court not to seal the station as it would cause inconvenience to the passengers. Operation of around four trains would be halted of station if it was sealed, he added.

Railway had submitted an application in high court in March 2015 for staying the execution proceeding. After the district court orders, the railway had paid the compensation amount of Rs 25.54 lakh and Rs 8.91 lakh to Madan Lal and Mela Ram, whose land had been acquired at Chururu village in Una with the compensation of Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 per kanal.

HC ask Railways to expedite Ram Jhula project in Nagpur for the benefit of citizens

Nagpur (NGP): The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Friday asked Railways and others when it would grant permissions to Afcons Infrastructure to demolish the old British era bridge for completion of second phase of Ram Jhula project.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Nagpur Chamber of Commerce Limited demanding that work on Ram Jhula, the six-lane cable-stayed railway overbridge near Santra Market, gets rolling.

They urged the court to direct Afcons to execute the work as per the agreement on January 17, 2006. The work tender was allotted to Afcons on January 25, 2006, and it was to be completed in 42 months, but its first phase completed last year only, while second phase is only on paper.

Transfer tree plantation funds to state, NMC told

The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Friday directed the NMC to handover 3.34 lakh to the State forest department for planting 100 trees on its land at Nara Nari.

The directives came while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Nature Conservation Association through its secretary Shrikant Deshpande.

The trees are to be planted in lieu of those felled during the four-laning of Koradi Road by NHAI.

NHAI counsels Ajay Ghare and Anish Kathane informed that they had handed over 3.34 lakh to NMC for planting trees, but the latter stated that they will plant it in the carriageway, which NHAI objected to.

Government pleader Bharti Dangre informed that they have two spots where trees could be planted at Nara Nari and Ambazari cantonment, but the NMC should first transfer the funds it got from NHAI

Bombay HC suggests ways to cut Overcrowding, seeks Casualty figures

Can’t Mumbaikars be disciplined to lessen overcrowding in trains? Bombay High Court asks railways to experiment

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday asked the Railways to furnish a list of the number of people who die everyday after falling from overcrowded suburban trains. Hearing a PIL seeking reservation of seats in local trains for senior citizens, a division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya asked the Railways to implement measures to reduce overcrowding.

The court was informed that though a compartment has a capacity of 86 commuters, there are over 500 persons in each coach during peak hours. The judges suggested that authorities could coordinate and work towards implementing staggered work hours for staff, especially in government offices. “Why does it have to be 9am and 5pm? Can some of the departments start work at 11am? Can some offices work on weekends and have holidays on weekdays?” asked the judges. “It shouldn’t be so that people have to use might and force to be able to enter trains during peak hours. Everyone should feel the comfort; there should be relief,” they said.

Can overcrowding in Mumbai suburban trains be reduced by disciplining citizens? Will this problem be solved if a reputed management institute does a detailed study? These are the questions the Bombay high court posed to the railways on Wednesday and directed it to experiment how proper crowd management can be done to ensure that citizens travel easily during peak hours. The court also asked if the crowd could be disciplined, by posting guards who will only allow a specific number of commuters to get into trains. Additional solicitor-general Anil Singh said, “Even if trains are late by a few minutes there are problems. In Mumbai, it would be next to impossible to restrict entry as every passenger wants to get inside the train.” The court asked if double decker trains could be deployed on suburban routes.

“Can the crowd be disciplined? For example, at one station you allow entry of a certain number of passengers only… will this work?” the court asked. Additional solicitor general Anil Singh replied, “In Mumbai, it’s next to impossible. Every passenger standing on the platform wants to enter the train which comes before him to reach his/her office on time.”

The bench then suggested change in office timings, asking whether the 9am to 5pm routine can be done away with. “What if some department begins work after 11am? Can some office work on weekdays and have holiday on weekends? The Dadar market is closed on Mondays. Can similar options be worked out? Would an integrated study by the state, railways, police and other partners (ie private sector) help ease overcrowding?” asked justice Patil.

The court also suggested that the railways consider having one coach reserved for senior citizens. Around 38,000 senior citizens travel daily on suburban trains. The railways has, after court orders, reserved 14 seats in a compartment for the elderly.

Advocate Suresh Kumar informed the court, “Awareness among travellers will be created to ensure that senior citizens are allowed to sit on the seats reserved for them. As earlier only a small area was reserved for the disabled but over time, after nine-coach trains gave way to 12-coach ones, the reservation increased. The same can be done for senior citizens once we get 15-coach trains.”

The bench, however, going back to its original issue of overcrowding, said, “During peak hours, can a senior citizen enter the compartment? If not, then how can s/he even be able to reach to his/her seat?”

“Have you tried sideway seating, like in Metro coaches? It allows more passengers to stand. Don’t be afraid to experiment because you might fail,” the judges added.

The court has given the railways time till June 30 to get back to it on the suggestions made.

The bench gave these ideas while hearing a public interest litigation after the court had taken suo moto cognisance of a letter written by a senior citizen, AB Thakkar, in 2009. Thakkar had said entering a jam-packed train during peak hours was a nightmarish experience for the elderly.

Around 4,000 people die every year on Central Railway, while around 3,500 perish on the Western Railway. Central Railway runs 1,600 services daily.

The PIL had claimed over 38,000 senior citizens travel daily on suburban trains. The railways said it had increased seats reserved for senior citizens from seven, to 14. The court asked the railways to consider if one compartment could be reserved for senior citizens in each train. “During peak hours it is impossible to get into a compartment, let alone being able to reach a reserved seat,” the court observed. “Awareness programmes should be conducted among passengers so that they don’t occupy seats reserved for senior citizens,” added the HC. The court has scheduled the next hearing of the case on June 30.

Attachment of Delhi-Una Janshatabdi Exp averted; Rlys take steps to Deposit the amount in the High Court

Bansi Lal (standing), the Court bailiff, relented only when Sharma gave an undertaking and handed over photo copies of the drafts
Bansi Lal (standing), the Court bailiff, relented only when Sharma gave an undertaking and handed over photo copies of the drafts

Una: In a breather to the Delhi-Una Janshatabdi train, for which the additional district and sessions judge, Una, had issued warrants of attachment if the railways failed to pay land compensation to two farmers, the court on Thursday directed to attach some other property if the payment is not made by May 2.

On Thursday morning, when the court bailiff went to enforce the court orders at Una Railway Station, railway officials showed him photocopies of two bank drafts amounting to the compensation to be paid to the two petitioners, said advocate Arun Kumar Saini who had represented the farmers in the court. He said the bailiff returned and submitted his report in the court, informing that railways has decided to deposit the due amount in the high court. He also requested to stall the process to attach the train, added Saini.

Following the bailiff’s report, the court deliberated whether the amount could be deposited in the high court when the matter was pending before the lower court. Besides, while disposing off their petition earlier, the high court had directed the railways to deposit the money within six months. Saini claimed that unhappy with the delaying tactics, the court then ordered to attach the railways property if due compensation is not paid by May 2.

Additional district and sessions judge Mukesh Bansal had passed the train attachment order on April 9, for the railways failure to pay around Rs.35 lakh compensation to two farmers – Madan Lal and Mela Ram, both residents of Dilwan- whose land was acquired for laying down Una-Ambala track in 1998. If the sum was not paid by April 16, the train would not be allowed to leave the Una railway station, he said. “We had submitted in the court that attachment of train would cause inconvenience to general public and in the larger public interest some other immovable property of railways be attached,” Saini added. He claimed the court has considered their request and asked him to submit a list of properties within three days.

From left: Man in white standing next to bailiff Bansi Lal is farmer (one of the two petitioners) Madan Lal and other two standing are his brothers
From left: Man in white standing next to bailiff Bansi Lal is farmer (one of the two petitioners) Madan Lal and other two standing are his brothers

Before dawn on Thursday, an hour ahead of the train’s departure, the farmers, Mela Ram, 68, and Madan Lal, 55, reached Una station with their advocate Arun Kumar Saini for the execution of the court’s order. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled departure — or attachment — however, railway official Sharma informed the court bailiff that the order to release the farmers’ compensation had been complied with.

Two farmers Mela Ram and Madan Lal had approached the court against the delay in compensation payment even after the Himachal Pradesh high court had directed the railways in 2013 to pay the compensation within six week. While Mela Ram is yet to receive his due of Rs.8,91,424, Madan Lal has to get Rs.26,53,814.  Saini said that railways had acquired the land to build the Una-Chururu section of the Una-Talwara line in 1998 following which the affected farmers filed a case of low compensation. He said that in 2009, railways too moved the court but in 2001 the district court increased the compensation amount. He said that following this order, while rules made it clear that railways had to go for appeal within three months, the latter approached the high court in 2013 and got stay with the condition that increased amount would be deposited in the court within six weeks. “But railways did not deposited the amount till date,” said Saini.

“Today, they have told the court’s nominee about the money having been deposited. We will ask the court to get the money paid to the farmers at the earliest,” he told.  Subhash, Madan Lal’s brother, said, “How can we believe just a piece of paper? The money must come into our accounts. We have sold our land to fight our case for compensation. What we have got has to be distributed among five brothers and our mother. After paying the lawyer and for other expenses, we will be left with peanuts.”

Meanwhile, during Thursday’s hearing, Additional District and Sessions Judge Bansal rejected the Railways’ plea to drop proceedings for the attachment of the train. This was after the court’s representative, Bansi Lal, submitted his report on the morning’s episode. The court observed that the bank drafts were not in the names of the farmers, and that they ought to have been submitted before the Una court, not the High Court – which had already disposed of the case and given orders for payment of compensation in six weeks. Almost 10 months have passed since the HC order.

“We will issue fresh orders on May 2 if compensation is not paid to the farmers before the next hearing,” judge Bansal said.

Railways in a fix after Court issue Warrants of Attachment of Jan Shatabdi train

With just few hours to go before court’s deadline ends, Railway authorities are in a fix as the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Una, Mukesh Bansal, is likely to issue warrants of attachment of Una-Delhi-Una Jan Shatabdi train from April 16 if Railways failed to pay compensation to two farmers of Dilwan village for acquiring their land.

The orders were passed on April 9 and Thursday is the last date for paying the compensation but there has been no information here as the matter comes under the purview of Ambala Division.

According to Arun Saini, counsel for Madan Lal and Mela Ram, both residents of Dilwan, the Railways had acquired land in the village for the construction of the Una-Chururu section of Una-Talwara rail line in 1998 and the work is in progress.

He said both the farmers had approached the court in 2011 seeking enhancement of compensation paid to them for acquiring a part of their property.

In 2013, the Una court ordered the Railways to pay enhanced compensation but instead of making the payment, the Railways appealed to the High Court.

Arun Saini said the court allowed status quo in the matter for six months, after which the application of Railways was dismissed and were directed to make payment to the farmers within 6 weeks through the district courts.

He said the ADJ ordered the Railways to pay a compensation of Rs.25.54 lakh to Madan Lal and Rs.8.91 lakh to Mela Ram by April 15, failing which the Jan Shatabdi would be attached to the courts for onward ownership of the farmers as their due compensation.

Court attaches Janshatabdi Express to 2 Farmers as Rlys acquired land but failed to pay compensation

Shimla (SML): Two farmers from Himachal Pradesh’s Una district may become proud owners of Delhi-Una Janshatabdi Express on April 16 if a court order is executed.

The court of Una’s additional district and sessions judge Mukesh Bansal on April 9 ordered to attach the DelhiUna Janshatabdi if the railways failed to pay compensation to two farmers whose land was acquired for laying the Una-Amb track in 1998.

The court said if the railways failed to pay around Rs 35 lakh to Mela Ram and Madan Lal by April 15, the train would be stopped at Una at 5am on April 16 and attached by the court. Ram is entitled to Rs 8.91 lakh and Lal to Rs 26.53 lakh. Ram and Lal had moved the court against the delay in payment of compensation even after the Himachal Pradesh HC had directed the railways in 2013 to pay the money within six weeks.

Advocate Arun Kumar Saini, who represented the farmers, said the railways had acquired the land in 1998, following which the two filed a case for higher compensation. In 2009, the railways too moved the court but in 2011 the district court increased the compensation.

The court order had given three months to the railways for filing an appeal against the verdict. However, the railways moved the HC only in 2013 and the HC stayed the order on the condition that the increased compensation should be deposited in the court within six weeks. “But the railways haven’t deposited the amount until now,” Saini said.

As the HC had also made it clear that after the lapse of six weeks, parties would be at liberty to execute the order, the aggrieved farmers moved the lower court. After hearing the plea on April 9, judge Bansal ordered to attach the Janshatabadi train. “We had submitted a list of four trains, of which two are passenger trains – Himachal Express and Janshatabdi, and the court directed to attach the Janshatabdi,” Saini said.

Bombay High Court directs SECR to take 147 Porters as on-roll Staff

Bilaspur (BSP): Justice ZA Haq at the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the South East Central Railway (SECR), Nagpur, to absorb 147 parcel porters as ‘Group D’ employees. SECR has made it a prestige issue and has been deliberately delaying regularizing services of these porters by prolonging legal battle despite losing in apex court, high court and twice in Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT).

These parcel porters have been declared as workmen. Hearing a civil application filed by Parcel Porters Sanghatana (PPS), Justice Haq directed SECR to absorb these parcel porters as ‘Group D’ employees. As per the SECR record, over 900 Group ‘D’ posts were lying vacant under the Nagpur division alone. “While filling up these posts, 147 parcel porters should be accommodated,” the court said. It also rapped the SECR for paying Rs 2.5 crore towards wages since April 2012 to these workmen without any work. “This is sheer waste of public money,” the court said. The court also did not agree with the idea put forward by SECR to utilizing services of these workmen for various works under ‘Swachha Bharat Mission’.

On July 9 last Justice Haq had refused to grant interim relief to SECR considering the facts on record. The court also did not agree with SECR counsel RS Sundaram that vacancies of parcel porters are not available. Senior advocate NW Almelkar appearing for the Parcel Porters Sanghatana (PPS) said SECR was depositing the amount with the registry of the high court which was being disbursed to the workmen. As per the latest record when over 900 vacancies were available, why not appoint these workmen, he asked.

The high court decision comes as a relief for porters who are fighting a legal battle for regularization of their services since 1994. They have won after 21 years. Rajesh Supatkar of the PPS said SECR was even violating the Railway Board orders issued on October 31, 1995, that state prompt action should be taken for screening and absorption of casual labour against existing vacancies.

Give an account of Guard shortage for Night Trains: Bombay High Court to Railways

Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) has directed the railways to provide an account of the shortage of manpower it is facing because of which it is unable to provide adequate number of police escorts to overnight trains.

The railways on Monday filed an affidavit before the court, stating that it could post police personnel on overnight trains subject to the availability of manpower resources. A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and A P Bhangale then directed the railways to explain how short they are of manpower during the next hearing.

The affidavit filed by Pranav Kumar, additional chief security commissioner, Railway Protection Force, states that a corrigendum to directive 33 be amended by including a provision. The provision states that while taking a decision on the vulnerability of a train, special emphasis and attention shall be given to trains involving overnight journey. It is also advised that subject to availability of manpower resources, other night trains which do not fall in the category of vulnerable or highly vulnerable will also be escorted by staff of GRP.”

Advocate Uday Warunjikar, who appeared for petitioner Kiran Mehta, said, “The affidavit states that policemen will be subject to availability of manpower, which is very vague. Thus the court felt it necessary to know the shortfall in police personnel which the railways is facing.”

The direction was given during the hearing of a petition filed by Mehta, father of Bhavika Mehta, who lost a leg after she was injured while chasing a thief in 2012 on an outstation train, which said that there was no policemen present in the coach.

Bhavika was travelling from Amritsar to Mumbai Central in 2012, when she was robbed on board. When she tried to chase the thief, he pulled her out of the running train. Her leg had to be amputated later. Since she could not take medical aid in a nearby railway/civil hospital, she got herself admitted to a private hospital in Chandigarh and claimed a compensation amount of Rs 9 lakh. This was granted to her, but later an extra Rs 5 lakh was required for a prosthetic leg, which the railways refused to give.

Bhavika had approached the court seeking compensation from the railways for medical expenses. After repeated orders and directions by the court the railways had finally released the compensation amount.

SC sends material used in Rail Coaches for Toxicity Test

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sent the material used in the flooring and seats in railway coaches for tests to reputed chemical laboratories to verify allegations about their toxicity.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu asked additional solicitor general Neeraj Kishan Kaul to send in 10 days the material listed by the court for toxicity test to FRLS Laboratory in Central Power Research Institute, Bangalore and Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad.

The samples of material used in coaches — polyester fibre block used for cushioning in seats and berths, PVC sheets used for flooring, PVC coated fibre glass used as top cover for berths, and textile fabric used as curtains in coaches – were brought to the court by Kaul in compliance with the its November 18 order.

Petitioner Abhay Singh requested the court to include fire safety testing of these material. However, Kaul pointed out that in the PIL, the petitioner had sought only toxicity test of these material samples.

Singh requested the court to appoint an independent expert who would supervise testing of these material in the two reputed laboratories. However, the court said, “Let us have faith in the system and get the samples tested.” The court asked for the test reports in six weeks.

The petitioner had alleged use of sub-standard material for furnishing interiors of coaches, which had caused asphyxiation deaths due to inhalation of toxic gases by passengers during fire accidents.

“Unfortunately, the standards fixed by the Railway Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO) are not being followed in letter and spirit. The material used in the railway coaches emit toxic gases much beyond the permissible limit. The officials of the railways are apparently aware of this basic flaw in the material being purchased and used in the passenger coaches,” the petitioner had said and alleged that there was a nexus between officers responsible for purchase of these material and the suppliers.

Chandigarh HC directs CRB to decide on Travel Passes to Sena Medal winners in 6 weeks

Chandigarh (CDG): Giving a ray of hope to the awardees of Sena Medal, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed Railway Board chairman to decide on providing train travel passes to them within six weeks. Armed forces personnel have been accusing the Railways for the anomaly as passes are being issued to recipients of Police Medal, but such privileges have been denied to awardees of Sena Medal, which is placed higher in precedence.

Orders from the HC have come in the wake of a petition filed by Maj Gen T.P.S.Bakshi (retd), a Sena Medal Awardee from Panchkula.

Maj Gen Bakshi had sought time-bound directions to the defence and the railway ministries to coordinate amongst each another and resolve the anomaly on the train pass issue.

Railways had initiated a system of issuing complimentary passes to gallantry awards starting from Param Vir Chakra (PVC) to Shaurya Chakra (SC), which is placed on Article 15 of the Presidential Order of Precedence for Medals.

The facility was later extended to the Police Medal for gallantry placed on Article 24. However, the Sena Medal for gallantry, which featured on Article 22 and two steps higher than the Police Medal, was left out.

In his petition, Maj Gen Bakshi argued before the HC that the issue was taken up time and again by the defence services and even raised in the parliament, but the anomaly was not rectified by the Railways despite assurances.

In 2012, a parliamentary committee expressed its “dismay” over the situation, and in October 2013, the defence secretary, in a letter, again urged the railways to undo the wrong and also stated that the reply of the issue in the parliament had been construed as an ‘assurance to the house which was yet to be fulfilled’.

Relief

In its March 18 orders, Justice Augustine George of the high court clarified that Major General T P S Bakshi should approach the chairman of the Railway Board within two weeks with a representation on the demand of concessional rail passes for Sena Medal awardees. “On receiving the representation, the chairman of Railway Board shall decide by passing a speaking order within a period of six weeks from the date of submission of such a representation. In case the claim is accepted, the railway authorities shall issue the requisite notification/communication within a further period of four weeks,” says the HC order.

NGT directs Railways to impose fine of Rs.5000 on Offenders littering on Platforms & Tracks

New Delhi: In a significant order, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday said people found littering or throwing waste on railway platforms or tracks would be fined Rs.5,000, applying the principle that the polluter pays. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar also ordered several other measures to ensure cleanliness of railway tracks and platforms. NGT directed the railway authorities to place dustbins on platforms to ensure proper collection of garbage. The tribunal also directed Indian Railways to collect and transport waste to waste treatment plants before disposal instead of directly releasing it into sewer system. The tribunal also took the railways to task on the condition of toilets. It directed them to install mobile toilets near slum clusters alongside railway tracks. In 2014, a parliamentary committee had slammed railways for not segregating biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes at any of its stations. The committee had found out that in 64% of 212 railway stations checked, a centralized dumping yard was not available, which resulted in littering near station premises and even along tracks.

Centre sleeping over decision on rectification of flawed alignments on Katra-Banihal rail link: Delhi HC

New Delhi: Delhi High Court today observed that the Centre was “sleeping” over the issue of taking a decision based on the recommendations made by an expert panel set up to carry out a review of the controversial 125km-long Katra-Banihal section of the rail link to Kashmir.

“You have been sleeping,” a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said when the Railway Board moved a plea seeking more time to take a decision.

The Railway Board, in its application, said it was unable to take a decision based on the panel’s report, filed on February 4, as it was busy with the budget and sought eight weeks time to carry out the exercise.

It said that more time is required to take a decision with respect to the alternative alignment suggested by the panel, which includes E Sreedharan – former chief of DMRC, as they have to take into account issues like cost and work required on ground.

Though the court was not satisfied with the reasons given by the Board, it gave them four weeks time from today to take a decision and inform it.

It had earlier asked the Board to take a decision on the alignment and other issues like cost within four weeks of the panel submitting its report.

The court was hearing a petition by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), through advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, who have alleged that the railways are ignoring the serious concerns raised by the experts regarding the 125-km-long Katra-Banihal section of the rail link to Kashmir.

The petition had alleged that the Railways ignored serious concerns repeatedly raised by various experts and its own officials, including Member (Engineering), on a flawed alignment which most say overlooks the basic human needs of safety, security and comfort while travelling which render the entire project unworkable.

The Qazigund-Katra leg of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project was announced by the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.

NGT Directive: Railways & MCD to place dustbins in 46 slum clusters alongside Railway tracks

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Monday directed the Railways and Municipal Corporations to identify exact locations for placing dustbins in 46 slum clusters adjoining railway tracks. It has directed them to place at least a dustbin on one of the sites in 24 hours.

The South Delhi Municipal Corporation placed dustbins in Nizamuddin and Okhla during the day.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar has also asked them to ascertain how they plan to collect all the municipal solid waste, transport it and treat it at the two waste treatment plants in Ghazipur and Okhla.

While counsel for Railways Om Prakash told the tribunal that they have already given a list of 46 sites to the Municipal Corporations, the counsel for the corporations Balendu Shekhar said they have already placed three dustbins at Kirti Nagar, Shakur Basti Railway Station and Nangloi railway station.

At this the Bench remarked in a lighter vain, “You people are capable of doing wonders. The only thing is that we have to get wonders done by you.”

The Bench also said though the locations have been identified, it wanted exact spots where dustbins are to be placed.

“You will identify all the sites where the dustbins are to be placed and place the first dustbin today. For the remaining 45 locations, we will give you time,” it said.

Prior to this, the Bench was informed about the nodal officers appointed by the Railways, the corporations and others on its orders.

The nodal officers would be the ones who would keep track of the developments and keep the Tribunal informed.

NGT has directed the Railways and civic bodies to identify locations for placing dustbins in 46 slum clusters adjoining railway tracks

Reliance ADA Group can charge Higher Fares for Mumbai Metro: Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday permitted the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group, which operates the Mumbai Metro, to continue charging higher fares on condition that it deposits 50% of the fare differential with the top court’s registry.

This amount will be used to create a fund for the welfare of commuters should the fare-setting committee rule against the new prices.

The Mumbai Metro raised charges to Rs 20-40 for 11 km from Rs 10-20 on January 8, a move that was unsuccessfully challenged by the Mumbai Metro Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in the Bombay High Court.