Thursday, September 23, 2010

Judges who will deliver the Ayodhya verdict

The Ayodhya verdict is scheduled to be delivered on Friday, unless last-minute interventions come through. The Union government has appealed for calm and banned the transmission of bulk SMS and MMS to avert the spread of mischievous rumours. TAPAS CHAKRABORTY portrays the three judges – and their life away from the bench and law books — who are on the threshold of delivering the judgment, in The Telegraph.

Read the whole article here.

Armed policemen stand guard outside 24 Gautam Pally — the address in the heart of Lucknow that houses a 62-year-old judge.

Justice Dharam Veer Sharma, the senior-most judge on the special bench of Allahabad High Court that is due to give its verdict on September 24, shares the house with his elder sister.

... ...

Colleagues speak of his austere lifestyle.


Spondylitis has caused him immense physical discomfort in the past few months.


Sharma graduated in arts in 1967 and got his law degree in 1970 from a college in Bulandshahr. In 1972, he got through the judicial service to become a district court judge.

Before joining Allahabad High Court, he had worked as the chief law officer, Uttar Pradesh Financial Corporation, Kanpur Nagar, from July 1989 to October 1991 and then as joint secretary, legal remembrance, for the state government in the late nineties.


In 2002, he was promoted as district and sessions judge, and joined the Lucknow bench of the high court in 2005.

Justice Sudhir Agarwal, at 52 the youngest of the three judges on the special bench, could not have been more dissimilar to Justice Sharma. He’s well turned out, likes to read comics and watch soaps on TV, and enjoys spending time with friends from the Bar and the Bench.

Unlike the senior judge, who sticks to Hindi, Justice Agarwal is mostly heard speaking in English even outside the courtroom.

The judge, who lives with his wife and children on Beli Road in Allahabad, is known for his incisive and precise judgments.


Agarwal graduated with science from Agra University in 1977, then studied law at Meerut University, earning his degree in 1980. He joined the Allahabad High Court Bar in October the same year. Starting out as a tax advocate, he later shifted to service laws.


“His verdicts are always marked by earthy legal wisdom and rarely contradicted by the Supreme Court,” an advocate said.

Justice Sibghat Ullah Khan, the third member of the special bench, was Justice Agarwal’s colleague in the Allahabad High Court Bar and is known for his razor-sharp wit. “He has always been aided by a strong sense of history and the role of law in altering history. He is not ready to put a foot wrong,” says advocate D.P. Gupta.

Justice Khan, 58, earned his law degree from Aligarh Muslim University in 1975 and enrolled himself as an advocate the same year. He specialised in the civil, service and revenue areas of law for 25 years before being elevated as permanent judge of Allahabad High Court in 2002.


Originally from Etah in western Uttar Pradesh, the judge now lives with his wife and children on Dramond Road in Allahabad. He lives a simple life, is usually turned out in shirt and trousers in sober colours and equally at ease in Hindi and English.

Known to push for out-of-court settlements of civil cases, he is said to have settled 2,000 cases through negotiations. Justice Khan, who was not even born when the Ayodhya title dispute was brought to court 60 years ago, has been vocal in asking the advocates to let the special bench deliver the verdict this week and not delay it any further.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How political parties raise funds, officially

The Indian National Congress is going to fund itself by building a corpus, which is the largest one among the Indian political parties. Congress had generated funds through selling coupons when other political parties relied on voluntary donations. Other major sources of income for the parties analysed for last two years were "Levy" for CPM and receipt from sale of coupons for NCP, reports The Indian Express.

The Indian National Congress has taken the next step in politics by moving away from the old era of donations to fund its activities to one of selling coupons to build up a corpus – the largest one among parties in India.

Congress sold coupons worth Rs 600 crore to generate funds during 2007-09 while most of the other political parties were dependent on voluntary donations for fund raising.

The oldest political party, Congress, generated Rs 598.4 crore during 2007-08 and 2008-09 through the sale of coupons while it received donations of Rs 72 crore. The party also generated Rs 38 crore as interest during the period, reveal income tax returns filed by the party.

Funds for Bharatiya Janta Party were mainly sourced from voluntary donations during the period which amounted to Rs 297.7 crore while interest of Rs 21.29 crore and "Ajiwan Sahyog Nidhi" were the other sources.

Bahujan Samaj Party also relied on "contributions" of Rs 202.94 crore while membership and interest worth Rs 43.20 crore and Rs 5.18 crore contributed respectively, the data received by Association of Democratic Reforms, a voluntary group, through RTI revealed.

Other major sources of income for the parties analysed for 2007-08 and 2008-09 were "Levy" for CPM Rs 46 crore and receipt from sale of coupons for NCP Rs 50 crore, it shows.

Major expenditure of the Congress party during the period was incurred on election -- Rs 215 crore -- while on publicity it spent early Rs 58 crore. The party also distributed aid worth Rs 56 crore to "others".

The BJP spent maximum funds worth Rs 89.16 crore on advertising and publicity while the BSP made purchases worth Rs 85 crore on immovable properties.

During the period, Congress has declared the "maximum aggregate income" of Rs 718 crore followed by BJP which has declared assets worth Rs 344 crore and BSP Rs 252 crore, it said.

Mayawati's BSP has shown maximum growth in terms of total income of Rs 69.74 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 182 crore in 2008-09 which is nearly 161 per cent while NCP shows a growth of nearly 130 per cent followed by Congress which shows an increment of 125 per cent.

Communist Party of India is the only party whose income dipped during the period. From Rs 1.24 crore in 2007-08, the income of the party has dipped to Rs 1.16 crore in 2008-09 which is a decline of 6.45 per cent.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

MPs salary bill cleared

The Rajya Sabha cleared the bill raising the salaries of MP's to Rs. 50,000 a month frm Rs. 16,000. The constituency and office expenses allowance was dooubled to Rs. 40,000 a month. The bill was passed by the Lok sabha recently. CPIM members walked out of the hall protesting against this, reports The Hindu.

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NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Bill raising the salaries of its members to Rs.50,000 a month from Rs.16,000 and doubling the constituency and office expenses allowance to Rs.40,000 a month. With this, Parliament gave its approval to the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2010, passed by the Lok Sabha earlier.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) members, including Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat, and D. Raja (Communist Party of India) walked out of the House protesting the manner in which the hike was being effected with MPs giving themselves a raise and the absence of an independent mechanism to take a view on it.

Read the article on Miracle of democracy

EC seeks Press Council's help

The Election Commission of India seeks the help of the Press Council of India in monitoring paid news during election time.Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said in a press conference‘paid news' “has assumed serious proportions and is more pronounced in some States.". The candidate's expenditure monitoring cell will be tightened by the commission, reports The Hindu.

Read the whole article here:

PANAJI: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought the help of the Press Council of India (PCI) in monitoring the media-related malpractices like “paid news” during elections as its jurisdiction is limited to going into candidate's election spending.

Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi told a press conference here on Tuesday that ‘paid news' indulged in by some sections of the media “has assumed serious proportions and is more pronounced in some States.”

As far as the Commission was concerned, it was making all efforts to tighten the candidate's expenditure monitoring cell which is headed by an Income Tax Officer. This cell would work in close cooperation with the PCI to monitor practices like “paid news” which were eventually directly related to the influence of money power in the elections, he said.

Mr. Quraishi was in Goa along with Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath to chair a conference of chief electoral officers from the west zone which includes Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

He said the ECI was going ahead with a nationwide programme to increase the participation of youth in the electoral process as it was noticed that often they were not aware of their voting right or seemed to be disillusioned for diverse reasons and kept away from the election process.

“We want to give the youth a sense of participation in the election process. This segment is generally omitted from the voters' list because very often they are cynical about democratic processes,” he said.

“We are celebrating National Voter's Day on January 25, when the Election Commission was founded 60 years ago, one day before the country became a republic,” Mr. Quraishi said.

He said a nationwide drive would be conducted on January 25 in an attempt to induct 2 crore youngsters turning 18 that month into the electoral process.

A programme covering 8.5 lakh voting booths across the country would be held that day to distribute photo identity cards to as many as 2.5 crore eligible voters.

The ECI has so far issued 714 million voting cards across the country.


On the reliability of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Mr. Quraishi reiterated his complete faith in the EVM technology which he said had stood the test of time since it was first introduced in 1982.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.