Posts Tagged ‘Andhra Pradesh

Indian courts can try offences committed by Indian in foreign country, rules Bench

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But prior consent of Central government (under Section 188 Cr.P.C.) is required

A dowry or any other offence committed by an Indian husband against his wife in a foreign country can be tried by a court in India, the Supreme Court has held.

A three-judge Bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice S.S. Nijjar said “the provisions of Indian Penal Code have been extended to offences committed by any citizen of India in any place within and beyond India by virtue of Section 4 thereof.”

The Bench, however said that offences committed by an Indian citizen in a foreign country would be amenable to provisions of IPC subject to the limitation imposed under Section 188 Cr.PC, viz seeking the prior consent of the Central government.

In the present case, the appellant Thota Venkateswarlu was married to Parvatha Reddy Suneetha in November 2005 as per Hindu traditions and customs in Ongole in Andhra Pradesh. At the time of marriage Rs. 12 lakh in cash, 45 sovereigns of gold and Rs. 50,000 as ‘Adapaduchu katnam’ was alleged to have been given to the husband, mother-in-law, and other relatives of the husband.

According to Suneetha, her husband left for Botswana in January 2006 and she later joined him. While in Botswana, she was allegedly severely ill-treated and various demands were made including a demand for additional dowry of Rs. 5 lakh. Unable to withstand the torture she sent a complaint to the Superintendent of Police, Ongole for dowry offences under IPC as well offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

The magistrate, to whom the complaint was forwarded took cognisance and issued summons to the husband and others, who were questioned on their arrival to India. While the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed proceedings against the appellant’s mother and two others, it dismissed his plea. The present appeal by Venkateswaralu is directed against this order.

The appellant’s wife argued that part of the offence relating to dowry was committed in Indian soil and part of the offence was committed abroad. Hence the offence could be tried in Indian courts. However, the appellant argued that he could not be tried without the previous sanction from the Central government.

Writing the judgment Justice Kabir pointed out that it was clear that the case relating to the alleged dowry offences were committed outside India. But since part of the offence was committed in India, the court here could try the appellant and the High Court was correct in rejecting his plea to quash the proceedings. The Bench while asking the trial court to take up the case said, the trial would not proceed without the sanction of the Central government as envisaged in Section 188 Cr.P.C.


Justices delayed: SC down, Judge vacancies pile up

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At a time when the collegium system of appointment of Judges is under attack, the Supreme Court — with over 50,000 cases pending before it — will soon be working at less than 75 per cent of its total sanctioned strength of Judges. By October 15, seven Judges of the apex court will retire, the largest number of retirements in a single year since Independence.

And that’s just the position in the country’s highest court. The biggest court in India, Allahabad High Court, has been functioning with just 62 of its total 160 approved strength of Judges, as reported by The Indian Express (nine more will join tomorrow). The Gujarat HC, with a sanctioned strength of 42, has 18 vacancies; while Punjab and Haryana HC has just 43 Judges, against a sanctioned strength of 68.

In all, data compiled by the government shows, of the total 895 posts of Judges sanctioned in the 21 HCs in the country, only 610 are currently filled — a gap of 285. This year, in fact, saw the highest number of posts falling vacant in HCs in a calendar year since 1990. However, only 41 new appointments have been made so far in 2011.

The subordinate judiciary is not much better placed. Data collected by the Supreme Court says that as of December 31, 2010, out of the sanctioned strength of 17,151 posts in states and Union Territories, 3,170 were vacant, with Bihar (389 vacancies), Gujarat (361), Uttar Pradesh (294) and Maharashtra (234) leading the list.

Even though the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia has recommended three names — two HC Chief Justices and one Judge of Bombay HC — even if they are able to take oath by October 15, the number of vacancies in the apex court will still be six out of 31.

“Even though at every meeting of chief ministers and Chief Justices, the judiciary is requested to recommended names for elevation to the Bench at least three months before an anticipated vacancy, it is never done. Today, except for the Himachal Pradesh High Court, there is no court that is working at full strength. Though the sanctioned strength of the Jammu and Kashmir HC is 14, the court is functioning with just seven judges. In most cases, the HC collegium has not met even once in the last one year to recommend names,” said a senior government functionary.

Sikkim, the country’s smallest court with a sanctioned strength of three judges, has just one judge, who was designated Acting Chief Justice after the resignation of Justice P D Dinakaran last month.

The other HCs with a significant number of vacancies are Andhra Pradesh (16), Bombay (14), Calcutta (14), Rajasthan (13) and Chhattisgarh (12).

The highest number of appointments made in a single year was 110 in 2006 when Justice Y K Sabharwal was the CJI and H R Bhardwaj the Union law minister.

How rigorous is rigorous imprisonment?

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Press Trust of India in HT

Two murder convicts sentenced to rigorous imprisonment were recently found loitering in Tihar jail by an inspecting Judge who passed critical comments on lax rules in prisons. This has triggered a debate whether rigorous imprisonment (RI) really means the rigours of prison like hard labour.

A look at different jail manuals in the country shows that 99% of the convicts being awarded RI may actually be undergoing simple imprisonment in reality.

Sentenced to undergo RI in Delhi’s Tihar jail, an ex-IPS officer looks after the library while another convict, also undergoing RI, dishes out legal aid.

Many of those convicted to undergo rigorous imprisonment in various other prisons may actually be serving just simple imprisonment as the jails do not have enough work for the convicts.

“Only 10% of our rigorous imprisonment prisoners get work and rest sit idle as there is no work. Prison officials decide the type of work to be given. Work is allocated to a prisoner keeping in mind the best that can be got out of the prisoner,” K V Reddy, president All India Prison Officers Association and deputy superintendent of Jails, Andhra Pradesh said.

“The word RI needs refinement. Since it is not clearly defined anywhere we end up following the simple rule that a RI prisoner must work. A prisoner sentenced to simple imprisonment has a choice but an RI sentenced prisoner has none,” Neeraj Kumar, DG Tihar Prisons said.

“Former IPS officer R K Sharma, and Santosh Singh, a lawyer, are both murder convicted who got RI. Both are given work inside the prisons. Sharma manages the library and Singh gives legal aid to other prisoners,” Sunil Gupta spokesperson, Tihar Prisons said.

Justice R S Sodhi, a retired Delhi High Court judge, cautioned, “This vagueness about RI can lead to its misuse. The type of treatment, the type of work, to be meted out to an RI sentenced prisoner will depend on the whims and fancies of the jail superintendents. And it is absolutely true they can be given very light jobs despite convicted and sentenced to RI.”

“Rigorous imprisonment, that is, with hard labour. This is what Section 53 of the Indian Penal Code says about RI,” Dr Surat Singh, a Supreme Court advocate, said.

“But then hard labour is not well defined. In majority of the criminal cases RI sentencing is pronounced and the word itself connotes physical labour,” he said.

RI sentence is pronounced based on the gravity of offence of the accused criminal.

“If two people have committed murder then one might be eligible for getting a simple imprisonment and another may not. It will depend on how brutal the murder was,” Justice (retired) B A Khan of Delhi High Court said.

“Scanning the pages of the jail manuals of different jails across the country, the Prisons Act 1894 and the Code of Criminal Procedure for a definition of ‘rigorous imprisonment’ one will end up with an unclear picture of RI,” Dr Singh said.

Aditya Bandhopadyay, a lawyer and human Rights activist, said, “In absence of clear definition of what RI entails which basically means hardened criminals who should be undergoing stringent punishment, end up having a picnic in jails at taxpayers expenses.”

Agreeing to the fact that it can be misused, Justice Khan said, “If the definition of RI is absent in jail manuals then it should be immediately be brought to the notice of the court. Government’s view point should be taken and misuse be told and parameters should be laid down immediately. “The same was done with the term ‘life imprisonment’ and that is why there is no confusion about it now.”

The Jail Manual of Asia’s largest Prison, Tihar too has no rules and regulations laid down related to RI sentenced prisoner.

Former Chief Justice of India J S Verma said, “We pronounce RI based on whatever is there in the legislation. RI must be physical labour.”

Advocate S S Mishra, a lawyer with the Supreme Court said, RI is not defined in jail manual nor explicitly defined in the study books. “And hence it depends on the discretion of the jail authority and this discretionary power can be misused.

“This word was introduced by Britishers.”

An RI sentenced prisoner in colonial days had to break stones or was made to do road construction work. But today nothing of that sort happens.”

Written by THE LAWFILE

July 26, 2011 at 5:26 pm