Friday, March 8

CBI fails to file Affidavit in connection with the investigation of double murder & gang rape of two sisters: HC had directed to file Affidavit on the plea of youth arrested by Har. Police




CHANDIGARH HC: On Frdiay, the CBI failed to file Affidavit in connection with the investigation of double murder elderly persons & gang rape of two sisters. On 6th Feb., 2019 the HC had directed the CBI file Affidavit; while hearing the bail matter of the four accused arrested by Har. Police. It may be recalled that the CBI now has arrested the another set of four members of the Bawaria Gang involved in more than 36 rape and murder cases. The DNA, fingerprint of the accused arrested by Haryana Police matched with the DNA found on the private parts of the rape victims. However, CBI had not found any evidence against the four accused arrested by the SIT of Haryana Police, except the identification by the rape victims. In view the fact that the CBI had filed challan against the four accused of Bawarai Gang, the High Court on 7th March, 2018; had granted interim bail to the accused arrested by the SIT of Haryana Police and had granted time to the CBI to produce evidence against the accused  arrested by SIT, Haryana Police. See order granting bail:

 However, after filing of bail application the CBI sought 14 adjournments, but no evidence was produced against the accused arrested by Haryana Police. In view of such situation the HC on 6th Feb., 2019 had directed CBI to file Affidavit about the status of investigation and posted the matter for hearing on 8th March, 2019. See Order:

 But, on Friday, CBI again sought adjournment. Now, the HC has posted the matter for hearing on 12th March, 2019. The short date has been given in view of the series of repeated adjournments sought by CBI.


Saturday, February 9

Residents Vs. Builder & Residents: A Tripartite Mysterious Relationship.



DLF Valley Panchkula: Being a resident of DLF Valley as well as an Advocate; I feel honoured to represent the rights of residents before the multiple forms like High Court, Consumer Forum, State Information Commission, District Registrar/State Registrar etc. Therefore, I feel it apt to share my experiences; while dealing with the very senior defence personnel and civilians; especially the veterans. Before shifting to DLF Valley I got several opportunities to deal with the civilians; especially the bureaucrats and senior officers, while serving ‘Central Information Commission’ and ‘National Investigation Agency’, as a Law Officer. But, my experiences with the Army personnel were restricted only as an NCC Cadet from School to College and then brief interaction at the time of interview for joining Army as an officer. Though, human brains can’t be fully detached from pride and prejudices; but still I still try my best to be neutral and write my experiences only based on record.
            I had to shift to the DLF Valley in the month of Feb. 2017, of course on the directions of Consumer Court/Forum, after struggling with the exploitative and giant builder DLF, as after shifting from Delhi I was on rent in Amravati Enclave. After shifting; I had first meeting with the group of residents consisting S.P. Singh & his wife Geeta Pal, R.P. Dangi, Yashpal Verma, Surender Pal Singh, Sandeep Malik and other 4-5 residents. Interestingly, I came to know at very belated stage that Mrs. Geeta Pal is the wife of S.P. Singh, as they never introduced themselves as husband-wife and always appeared like good friends/neighbours, I was also introduced to Mr. S.P. Singh by Mrs. Geeta Pal, when she happened to meet me at Gym and asked my mobile for adding in a whatsapp group of residents. I found that Mr. S.P. Singh & his wife Geeta Pal, R.P. Dangi, Yashpal Verma, Surender Pal Singh were very active in organising social events and as far I remembers these four persons organised Holi Party; on 12-13 March,2017 after collecting money from about 20-25 residents. I was very happy to find such a friendly and affectionate atmosphere, as after shifting from Delhi I was not well acquainted with people. Few other small parties were also organised by S.P. Singh & his wife Geeta Pal, R.P. Dangi, Yashpal Verma.
            As far as I remember, in the month of April, 2017, I received a message from Mrs. Geeta Pal, asking me to attend meeting of residents in the Club House. After brief introduction in the meeting of about 10 persons; Sh. Yaspal Verma highlighted the problems faced by residents and then requested Mr. S.P. Singh to formally preside over the meeting. Then residents raised their day to problems and then Mr. R.P. Dangi told people present in the meeting that Mr. S.P. Singh and Mr. Yashpal Verma, being retired officers, will be of great help for DLF Valley residents and all problems of residents should be communicated to them. In turn, both Mr. S.P. Singh and Mr. Yashpal Verma praised Mr. R.P. Dangi, and told residents that being a retired Chief Engineer; he can be asset for residents. Then, Mrs. Geeta Pal told the people present in meeting that Mr. S.P. Singh and Mr. Yashpal Verma and Mr. R.P. Dangi should help the residents getting addressed their day to day problems and she also said that if any other resident is interested in helping these three persons can come forward; then she herself suggested the name one another resident to render social service. I was also asked to assist the above three persons, but I replied that I will try to render my services as and when required, but being busy in settling in the Chandigarh High Court, I would be able to devote time in formal manner as a member of some Committee.
            In the 2nd meeting of residents Mr. S.P. Singh, supported by Mr. Yashpal Verma and R.P. Dangi, suggested that we should form an ‘Association of Residents’ and should create a fund for tackling problems and to have social gatherings. I exactly replied that, “When we already have the registered VRWS and the amount of more than 92,000/- collected from residents is already available with the registered VRWS, why should we go for another association of residents?” Upon this, I was told that the already registered society had been formed by the DLF and that was useless. Then some other residents also felt that rather than forming another association the details of already registered society should be gathered.
            In the 3rd meeting of 15 residents Sh. Yashpal Verma requested that there should be a ‘Convenor’ to convene the meetings of residents and asked if anyone could come forward. All residents, including me, appeared reluctant to be Convenor. Then, Mr. Yashpal Verma said, “I request Mr. S.P. Singh to take the responsibility of ‘CONVENOR’” Then, I replied, “We are only 15 persons and in the whatsapp age, there no practical difficulty in convening the meetings, then I don’t think any Convenor is required”. Other few residents also dropped the idea of Convenor.
            In the 4th Meeting at Club House, in the gathering of 15-20 persons, a suggestion came from the same four persons; suggesting that there should be ‘Core-Committee’ of residents to tackle the day to day problems of residents. As the meeting as being already conducted by the three persons namely S.P. Singh, Yashpal Veram and R.P. Dangi, these persons requested the other residents to become the part of ‘Core-Committee’. All the three persons praised each other and suggested the name of each other and one another resident for ‘Core-Committee’. I was just an observer and like other residents; I was reluctant to be part of such committee. Then one Mr. Malik residing in C-2 Block and other 2-3 residents suggested and pushed me to be part of the already formed Core-Committee. As far as I remember, Mr. Sandeep Malik objected on the formation of such committee. I suggested that some Army Officers, if residing, should also be part of committee, but no Army Officer was available to part of committee. Ultimately, the committee of S.P. Singh, Yashpal Veram, R.P. Dangi, Surender Pal Singh and me was constituted.
       On 01-04-2017, through an E-mail of Mr. Yashpal Veram, I received a draft representation to be submitted to DLF highlighting the problems of residents. At the end, there was a designation of ‘CONVENOR-Core-Committee’. Upon this I sent the below e-mail, screenshot attached below:

            After this, the members of so called Core-Committee started ignoring me. Later on, I came to know through several sources that Mr. S.P. Singh had contested the elections from a political party and Mr. Yashpal Verma and R.P. Dangi were his old classmates as well as the members of a political group at Agriculture University, Hisar. Because of the aptitude developed by brief attachment with Investigation Agency; I developed suspicion towards the activities of a group of residents and therefore I maintained distance; as the activities appeared organised and pre-planned. In this regard, few semi political activities like ‘Jhadu Yaatra/Cleanliness Drive’ "Meeting with MLA on behalf of residents and other similar activities were organised by same set of residents.
            Then almost 7-8 months back Mr. Shish Ram Kaushik approached me, through our common friend, as offered me that his known person Brigadier Dixit, is a very nice person and he has experience of being President of DLF Gurgaon, and I should support in getting elected him as a President of DLF Valley. I was surprised to hear it. I asked, “Has elections been declared?” Mr. Kaushik replied, “No, but it will be declared” Then, I asked, “Has Brig. Dixit shifted at DLF Valley?” The he replied, “Mr. Dixit is going to shift here very soon” Without hiding my annoyance I replied, “Who are we to elect anyone? A person, who served as a President DLF, Gurgaon, has not even shifted here, and you want to promote him as President. It does suit you at this age and stage of life” Then, I found that Mr. S.R. Kaushik deadly against me in all meetings and joined the so-called Core-Committee. And, surprisingly, in the next meeting of residents, Mr. S.P. Singh requested Brig. Dixit to preside over the meeting of residents at club house. Later on, it was revealed that the aforesaid informal Core-Committee had further constituted the sub-committees of the residents from each block. In fact, a complete organisational structure, like collegium, had been created in the DLF Valley, by the aforesaid so called Core-Committe.
            Then, it’s a matter of record, the 1st Annual General Meeting of residents held on 29.09.2017 was deferred, without discussion, on the written request; propagated Mr. S.P. Singh, Mr. Yashpal Verma and their closely related friends. And, DLF was happy over the deferment of the AGM. This letter surfaced in response to my RTI Application filed with the office of District Registrar, Firms and Societies. The dissenting voice of residents like Sandeep Malik was silenced by the people who ganged-up in pre-planned manner.
            The last Annual General Meeting happened on 23.09.2018 and Mr. R.P. Dangi openly hurled abuses on me and told the gathering that I did want to cooperate in the formation of any association of residents. I such situation, the adhoc-committee of residents was constituted and keeping in view the abuses of Mr. Dangi, reluctantly I had to become  part of this committee, though I don't know who did proposed my name. And, apart from other resolutions; the residents unanimously passed clear resolution that The VRWS shall implement the Right to Information Act, 2005 in its office, for providing any information to residents” However, in the very 1st meeting of the adhoc-committee Mr. R.P. Dangi, Mrs. Geeta Pal, prevailed, in the pre-planned manner; and changed the resolution to the effect that, “The resident will have right to demand information only under the Societies Act” which does not provide any mechanism to access information and also decided that only 355 persons , who had deposited Rs. 100/- were the legitimate members of VRWS, which had not even been discussed during the AGM. In this regard, the forged and fake minutes of meeting, prepared on the signatures of residents obtained on blank papers, sent by the adhoc-committee to Registrar is a matter of record, which can be seen by any resident. Again, the dissenting voice of me and other residents like Sandeep Malik was silenced by the people who ganged-up in pre-planned manner. And, I couldn’t further participate in any of the activities of Adhoc-Committee. And, Army Officers who matters a lot in our society, were always either ignored or they did not take interest. But, the question is: Why a particular group of residents wanted to deny information to residents under the RTI Act? Why did they want to restrict membership to only 355 persons? Why did they want to impose  Administrator on residents?
            Considering the aforesaid act and conduct of adhoc-committee , I had to file the case in my individual capacity to bring our VRWS under the Right to Information Act, so that all residents can, as a matter of right, obtain information about day to day problems. And, I succeeded in it and court has directed our VRWS to appoint Public Information Officer for providing information to residents. 
        When, the signatures obtained on the blank papers were misused by so called adhoc-committee and tempered minutes of meeting were sent to Registrar, and a formal request on behalf of residents was made to appoint ‘Administrator’ to run the affairs of VRWS, the very experienced and concerned  residents namely Brigadier Roveen Bansal, Brigadier K.K. Marwah, Brigadier Beant Parmar, Col. M.S. Rekhi, Col. Harinder Singh, Col. Onkarjit Singh Khangura, Col. G.K. Sanan, Commodore Iqbal Singh, Jagbir Sangwan and Sandeep Malik, approached me for my legal assistance. And, then, I filed a case, on behalf of concerned residents, in the High Court asking for not imposing Administrator on residents and hold elections as per law. We appeared to succesful when the DLF nominated VRWS had to admit before the High Court that there are more than 1530 legitimate members of VRWS and steps were being taken to conduct elections. In this regard, on the indulgence of High Court, the DLF nominated VRWS was forced to convene meeting on 31-01-2019 and the residents facilitated the smooth functioning of meeting and took decisions in positive manner.
          But, again, a twist came when one resident Mr. Shish Ram Kaushik residing at H.No.E/5/3; filed Miscellaneous Application, i.e. CM-2045-CWP-2019, and placed on record a List of 355 Members of VRWS, wherein he claimed that, Sh. Manpreet Wahi, General Secretary of the Society supplied a list of 355 members, who had deposited the one time membership up to 31.08.2018.  It means there are 355 members of the Society, who fulfilled the criteria of membership as laid down” and the majority decision of residents was also challenged through this Application.  It may be relevant and important to mention here that in the bylaws of the VRWS the prescribed requisite membership fee was Rs. 2000/-. and majority of residents did not even know that the prescribed fee had been reduced to Rs. 100/-. It appears that the fact of reducing the fee to Rs. 100/- was known only to the person/s who managed to deposit Rs. 100/- on behalf other gullible residents.
         During the arguments before High Court the Advocate engaged by Mr. Kaushik ans assisted Mr. Jagjeet Beniwal created ruckus in the court room and created sensation and doubt in court room that, “the Army Officers with the aid of me and other two civilian residents had approached the Court with hand in glove with DLF/Builder and want to hijack the Society with ulterior motives” Such allegations were leveled which I feel awkward to write here. And, surprisingly, at this juncture, the counsel engaged by DLF nominated VRWS seized opportunity and made statement that, “It appears a inter-se dispute among residents and objections by Mr. Kaushik and other residents should be considered by Registrar” Why Mr. Kaushik and his friends, as well as DLF want the dispute to be heard by Registrar, when the matter is pending in High Court? I was shocked at the turn of events. I told the court that there was no inter-se dispute among residents, the only issue is that a set of residents wants that only 355 members are the legitimate members and we are saying that all residents/owners should be treated members” But, the intervenor Mr. Shish Ram Kaushik had succeeded in creating doubts in the mind of the court and after creating doubts did not press for application and withdrew the same and in such situation the High Court had to pass order:-
CM-2045-CWP-2019 IN/AND CWP-29594-2018 (O&M)
BRIGADIER ROVEEN BANSAL AND ORS V/S REGISTRAR OF SOCIETIES, HARYANA AND ORS
"CM-2045-CWP-2019

Prayer in the instant application is for permitting the applicant to intervene in the writ petition. Learned counsel states that a representation has been made to respondent No.2 for redressal of his grouse.
      Heard.
  Considering the welfare of the residents, the respondents shall make an endeavour to consider and decide the representation, if any, has been filed by the applicant expeditiously, preferably before the elections.
     In this view of the matter, learned counsel does not press the instant application.
Dismissed as not pressed.
Main case:
List again on 29.07.2019.
07.02.2019                                 (JITENDRA CHAUHAN)
                                                                  JUDGE"

            Now, due to the indulgence of the High Court we are successful in forcing the DLF nominated VRWS to declare election schedule, but it appears to me that, the vested interests, with the support of the Advocate for DLF nominated VRWS; have managed to bring the dispute before the Registrar, with ulterior gains for ultimate goal to thwart the genuine efforts of  very senior Army Officer and civilians. And, I have suspicion that the smooth democratic exercise by residents will be hampered by the vested interests, by taking the advantage of matter being relegated to the Registrar. Intentionally, the ball has been thrown in the court of Registrar, so residents can be hijacked with the aid of official machinery. I don't ask anyone to support or trust me. My only request  is that please observe carefully and accordingly take informed decision. The common human prudence is sufficient to see through the designs and planning.

Tuesday, January 22

SIC directs the DLF Valley Residents Welfare Society to appoint PIO and Appellate Authority for providing information to residents under RTI Act.


Do residents have right to demand information from their ‘Residents Welfare Society’, under the Right to Information Act? The State Information Commissioner, Haryana, Arun Sangwan, on Tuesday, in a case titled: ‘Pardeep Kumar Rapria, Advocate  Vs. DLF Valley Residents Welfare Society, Panchkula’ has held that the ‘DLF Valley Residents Welfare Society, Panchkula’, is a Public Authority and therefore bound to appoint ‘Public Information Officer’ and ‘Appellate Authority’ under the RTI Act, for providing information to the residents.
This is the very crucial and important decision from the point of view of all residents, because residents often feel victimised by the maladministration and financial irregularities in the functioning of their ‘Residents Welfare Societies’. In the absence of the ‘Right to Demand Information’; the residents feel very helpless while facing day to day problems relating to the electricity, security, maintenance, housekeeping, parking etc. Such right to demand information becomes more important when the residents can’t approach the Governmental Authorities for redressal of their grievances, because in private residential societies all amenities are provided by the ‘Residents Welfare Societies’ after charging heavy maintenance charges from residents and the Govt. Authorities have minimum interference in such matters.
            Pardeep Rapria; a resident of DLF Valley, Panchkula; had filed a complaint before the SIC; complaining that being the resident of a residential colony DLF Valley Panchkula, he has right to demand information under the RTI Act, because in terms of the ‘Societies Act, 2012’ ‘every society registered under the Act shall be deemed to be a public office for the purposes of the said Act (RTI Act) and shall be liable to supply the requisite information’. However, he and other residents are unable to submit request for information to the ‘Public Information Officer’ as no such officer has been appointed by the DLF VRWS under the RTI Act. Therefore, Mr. Rapria had requested the SIC to give direction to the DLF VRWS to implement the provisions of the RTI Act; by appointing the Public Information Officer, so that all residents, can aks information relating to their day to day problems. Earlier, Mr. Pardeep Rapria had raised the same question of law before the High Court in case titled: ‘Pardeep Kumar Rapria Vs. State Information Commission and others’, but in view of the fact that DLF VRWS had provided complete information to the Petitioner before the High Court, the question of law involved in the matter was left open by the HC.
            After hearing the arguments of the complainant the State Information Commissioner has directed the DLF VRWS to appoint Public Information Officer and Appellate Authority under the RTI Act, within two weeks of receipt of order. The decision of the SIC will have far reaching impact not only on the rights of the residents of DLF VRWS, but also on the rights of the countless residents of numerous ‘Residents Welfare Societies’ throughout the States of Haryana and Punjab. After all, ‘RIGHT TO INFORMATION’ is the Fundamental Human Right of every human being.

Monday, January 21

Do residents have right to demand information from their ‘Residents Welfare Society’, under the RTI Act?



Do residents have right to demand information from their ‘Residents Welfare Society’, under the Right to Information Act? This is the very crucial and important question from the point of view of all residents, because residents often feel victimised by the maladministration and financial irregularities in the functioning of their ‘Residents Welfare Societies’. In the absence of the ‘Right to Demand Information’; the residents feel very helpless while facing day to day problems relating to the electricity, security, maintenance, housekeeping, parking etc. Such right to demand information becomes more important when the residents can’t approach the Governmental Authorities for redressal of their grievances, because in private residential societies all amenities are provided by the ‘Residents Welfare Societies’ after charging heavy maintenance charges from residents and the Govt. Authorities have minimum interference in such matters.
            The above important question will be dealt by the State Information Commission Haryana, (hereinafter read as SIC); on Tuesday (on 22-01-2019) in a the case titled: ‘Pardeep Kumar Rapria, Advocate  Vs. DLF Valley Residents Welfare Society, Panchkula’ The Petitioner has filed a complaint before the SIC; while submitting that being the resident of a residential colony DLF Valley Panchkula, he is the member of housing society namely Valley Residents Welfare Society (hereinafter read as DLF VRWS);, which has been registered under the ‘Societies Act, 2012’. And, being a members/resident of the DLF VRWS, has right to demand information under the RTI Act, because in terms of the ‘Societies Act, 2012’ the residential society is duty bound to share information with residents; as per the procedure prescribed under the RTI Act. However, residents are unable to submit a request for information to the ‘Public Information Officer’ as no such officer has been appointed by the DLF VRWS under the RTI Act. Therefore, Mr. Rapria has requested the SIC to give direction to the DLF VRWS to implement the provisions of the RTI Act; by appointing the Public Information Officer, so that all residents, can aks information relating to their day to day problems. Earlier, Mr. Pardeep Rapria had raised the same question of law before the High Court in case titled: ‘Pardeep Kumar Rapria Vs. State Information Commission and others’, but in view of the fact that DLF VRWS had provided complete information to the Petitioner before the High Court, the  question of law involved in the matter was left open by the Court. Now, the question of law is again being raised, so that all residents can get the right to ask information from the DLF VRWS, because every resident is not expected and can not afford to approach High Court; asking for the very basic information relating to his day to day problems.
            The decision of the SIC will have far reaching impact not only on the rights of the residents of DLF VRWS, but also on the rights of the countless residents of numerous ‘Residents Welfare Societies’ throughout the States of Haryana and Punjab. After all, ‘RIGHT TO INFORMATION’ is the Fundamental Human Right of every human being.

HC issues notice for staying the selection process of Information Commissioners


CHANDIGARH-MONDAY: Punjab & Haryana High Court, on Monday, has issued notice to the Haryana Govt.; on an application seeking interim relief of staying the operation and proceedings being undertaken in pursuance to the Advt. issued for appointment of State Information Commissioners in Haryana. Sh. Pardeep Kumar Rapria, an Advocate practicing in the High Court had challenged the advertisement, in the case titled ‘Pardeep Kumar Rapria Vs. Chief Minister, Haryana-cum-Chairman, Committee for Selection of State Information Commissioners and another’, calling applications for appointment of Information Commissions, on the ground that there was arbitrariness, opaqueness and vagueness in the criteria  for the search and selection of the State Information Commissioners, culminating into the violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution. On 13th December, 2018, Justice Ritu Bahari of the High Court while deleting the name of Chief Minister from the list of parties had issued notice to the Haryana Govt. and had posted the matter for hearing on 21st December, 2018, and then on 11th January, 2019. However, on both dates the matter could not be heard and the same was posted for hearing on 11-07-2019.
In the meanwhile, the Haryana Govt. has filed reply to the effect that the Govt. has constituted a Search Committee to recommend candidates for the consideration of Selection Committee consisting of Chief Minister, Leader of Opposition and another cabinet minister. After this reply Mr. Rapria in his application for interim relief has submitted before the High Court that the reply filed by the Haryana Govt. is self-explanatory of the fact thatt, at present, there is a complete opaqueness and arbitrariness in the appointment of information commissioners, so much so, that the advertisement issued for inviting application for such posts does not disclose any objective criteria and selection process for selecting the most qualified ‘person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge’ in the fields specified in the RTI Act, as an Information Commissioner. The Petitioner pleaded in his application that the reply reflect the arbitrary and absolute discretion conferred on the Search Committee, so much so, that the job of the Selection Committee is also performed by the ‘Search Committee’ and there is no certainty in the principles while arriving at the procedure and criterion adopted by the Search Committee; while making suitable recommendations. The relevant portion of the notification attached with the reply reads:
“The search committee shall devise its own principles while arriving at the procedure and criterion adopted by it while making suitable recommendations……There would be no requirement to adopt a fixed set of said principles, procedure and criterion to be adopted and the Search Committee in its own wisdom may fix and/or vary the said principles, procedure and criteria at any time…
“The Search Committee shall recommend three times as many times as the vacancies notified to it to be considered for being filled up……”
“The Government shall have the competence to change or vary any/all the conditions constituting these procedures at its discretion and at any time”
In such situation, one wonders, as to how the factor of ‘eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience’ would be determined. The appointments on the public posts are made by the State as a trustee of the citizens. The pay and perks to the Information Commissioners from the State Exchequer amounts to conferment of State Largesse and State can’t give largesse to any person according to the sweet will and whim of the political entities and/or officers of the state.
It is worthwhile to highlight that ‘the Search Committee shall recommend three times as many times as the vacancies notified’ Meaning thereby, the maximum number of candidates are eliminated by the Search Committee itself and the Selection Committee constituted under the RTI Act had no occasion to consider the names of majority of candidates.  As in the present case, the reply of the Respondents reflects that total 229 applications have been received and only 9 names will be recommended to the Selection Committee, as three vacancies of the Information Commissioners have notified. Thus, the names more than 96% of the total candidates have been eliminated by the Search Committee itself, that’s also without any intelligible objective criteria to find out the suitable candidates with qualifications of person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge’ in the fields specified in the Section 15(5) of the RTI Act. Whereas, the job of the Search Committee is supposed to be only secretarial, not the task of eliminating the majority of candidates without any intelligible criteria or procedure. The Article 14 of the Constitution envisages that the selection process should be fair, transparent and objective, while keeping in view the institutional integrity of the Information Commission. The State action must not be arbitrary and must also not be seen to be so.
The Petitioner contends that the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a Writ Petition; while dealing with the issue of selection and appointment of Information Commissioners; on 13-12-2018, had directed the Union of India and other States to the effect that, “The respondents shall put on the website the names of the Search Committee, the names of the candidates who have been shortlisted as well as the criteria which is followed for selection.” However, no such details have been made available by the Haryana Govt.
After hearing the arguments the High Court; while issuing notice to the Haryana Govt., has posted the matter for hearing on 14-02-2019.

ORIGINAL APPLICATION FOR STAY

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
AT CHANDIGARH
(CIVIL WRIT JURISDICTION)
CM-873- 2019
In CWP No. 30994 of  2018
IN THE MATTER OF:-
Pardeep Kumar Rapria...................PETITIONER
//VERSUS//
Chief Minister, Haryana-cum-Chairman, Committee for Selection of State Information Commissioners & another.......RESPONDENTS

Application u/s 151 C.P.C. for granting the Interim Relief sought in the Prayer No. (ii) of the C.W.P. No. 30994 of  2018, by way of staying the operation and proceedings being undertaken in pursuance to the Advt. No./Letter No. 5/21/2018 – 1AR, Dated: 11th June, 2018, followed letter dated 14th August, 2018, in view of the Respondent’s reply dated: 07-01-2019, which is self-explanatory of the arbitrariness, opaqueness and vagueness in the criteria  for the search and selection of the State Information Commissioners, culminating into the violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.
RESPECTFULLY SHOWTH:
1.                That Petitioner had filed the CWP-30994- 2018 for issuing a writ in the nature of certiorari quashing the arbitrary, non-speaking, and vague Advt. No./Letter No. 5/21/2018 – 1AR, Dated: 11th June, 2018, followed letter dated 14th August, 2018 (ANNEXURE P-3), issued by the Respondents  in violation of the Article 14 & 16 of the Constitution of India, and also issued in contempt of the law declared by Hon’ble Supreme Court, in terms of the Article 141 & 144 of the Constitution of India. Further, in the Prayer No. 2 of the aforesaid writ petition; the Petitioner had sought the interim relief by way of staying the operation and proceedings being undertaken in pursuance to the Advt. No./Letter No. 5/21/2018 – 1AR, Dated: 11th June, 2018, followed letter dated 14th August, 2018.
2.                That this Hon’ble Court on dated: 13-12-2018; while issuing notice to the State of Haryana; had granted short adjournment for dated: 21-12, for considering the prayer for interim relief sought in the Prayer No. (ii) of the aforesaid CWP. However, somehow, the matter couldn’t be heard. Then, keeping in view the urgency of the matter, the case for posted for hearing on 11-01-2019. However, on this date, the matter was shown in the incomplete list and the same was adjourned to 11-07-2019, whereas the reply had already been filed by the Respondent.
3.                That the reply filed by the Respondent nowhere states that the cessation/termination of holding of office of profit, pursuing any profession or carrying out any business is not a condition precedent for participating in the selection process of the State Information Commissioners, which fortifies the belief of the Petitioner that at the last juncture the candidature of the Petitioner may be rejected on the ground that he has not suspended his law practice.
4.                That the reply filed by the Respondent is self-explanatory of the arbitrariness, opaqueness and vagueness in the criteria  for the search and selection of the State Information Commissioners, culminating into the violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The Annexure R-1 & R-2 annexed with the reply reflect the arbitrary and absolute discretion conferred on the Search Committee, so much so, that the job of the Selection Committee is also performed by the ‘Search Committee’ and there is no certainty in the principles while arriving at the procedure and criterion adopted by the Search Committee; while making suitable recommendations . The relevant portion of the aforesaid Annexure reads:
“The search committee shall devise its own principles while arriving at the procedure and criterion adopted by it while making suitable recommendations……There would be no requirement to adopt a fixed set of said principles, procedure and criterion to be adopted and the Search Committee in its own wisdom may fix and/or vary the said principles, procedure and criteria at any time…
“The Search Committee shall recommend three times as many times as the vacancies notified to it to be considered for being filled up……”
“The Government shall have the competence to change or vary any/all the conditions constituting these procedures at its discretion and at any time”
One wonders, as to how the factor of ‘eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience’ would be determined. The appointments on the public posts are made by the State as a trustee of the citizens. The pay and perks to the Information Commissioners from the State Exchequer amounts to conferment of State Largesse and State can’t give largesse to any person according to the sweet will and whim of the political entities and/or officers of the state. The State Govt. represents the interests of citizens and whoever is in charge of the affairs of the Govt., is not more than a trustee or a custodian of the public interests. The protection of public interests to the maximum extent and in best possible manner is the primary obligation of the State. This obligation imposes on them the duty to engage the most competent persons to protect the Fundamental Rights and other rights of the citizens.
5.                That it is worthwhile to highlight that ‘the Search Committee shall recommend three times as many times as the vacancies notified’ Meaning thereby, the maximum number of candidates are eliminated by the Search Committee itself and the Selection Committee constituted under the RTI Act had no occasion to consider the names of majority of candidates.  As in the present case, the reply of the Respondents reflects that total 229 applications have been received and only 9 names will be recommended to the Selection Committee, as three vacancies of the Information Commissioners have notified. Thus, the names more than 96% of the total candidates have been eliminated by the Search Committee itself, that’s also without any intelligible objective criteria to find out the suitable candidates with qualifications of person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge’ in the fields specified in the Section 15(5) of the RTI Act. Whereas, the job of the Search Committee is supposed to be only secretarial, not the task of eliminating the majority of candidates without any intelligible criteria or procedure. The job of eliminating and selection of candidates has been assigned to the selection committee, constituted under the RTI Act.
The Article 14 of the Constitution envisages that the selection process should be fair, transparent and objective, while keeping in view the institutional integrity of the Information Commission. The State action must not be arbitrary and must also not be seen to be so.
6.                That it is relevant and important to mention here that the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 436/2018, while dealing with the issue of selection and appointment of Information Commissioners; vide interim order dated 13-12-2018 directed the Union of India and other States to the effect that, “The respondents shall put on the website the names of the Search Committee, the names of the candidates who have been shortlisted as well as the criteria which is followed for selection.” However, the Respondent, despite receiving the formal RTI Application from the Petitioner, has failed to disclose the requisite details in connection with the selection process.
7.                That if the sought for interim relief is not granted the Respondent will complete the selection process; based on the arbitrary, discriminate and opaque criteria, which will be ultimately culminate into the violation of the Fundamental Rights of Petitioner as well as other numerous candidates.
8.                That the balance of convenience is in the favour of Petitioner.
PRAYER
Therefore, in view of the aforesaid peculiar facts and circumstances read with the contents of the current writ petition; this Hon’ble Court may kindly be pleased to:
(i)              Grant the Interim Relief sought in the Prayer No. (ii) of the C.W.P. No. 30994 of  2018, by way of staying the operation and proceedings being undertaken in pursuance to the Advt. No./Letter No. 5/21/2018 – 1AR, Dated: 11th June, 2018, followed letter dated 14th August, 2018, in view of the Respondent’s reply dated: 07-01-2019, which is self-explanatory of the arbitrariness, opaqueness and vagueness in the criteria  for the search and selection of the State Information Commissioners, culminating into the violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.
(ii)           Pass any other order or direction in the light of the facts and circumstances of the present case.

Tuesday, November 27

Liquor Licences worth Crores granted without Security-On default nothing to recover from defaulter licensee: HC issues notice to Haryana Govt. and erring officers of the Excise Department.


CHANDIGARH HIGH COURT: On Tuesday; in a curious matter before the DB of J. A.K. Mittal and Manjari Nehru Kaul, it came on record that in Haryana the Liquor Licences worth Crores are granted without Security, in such situation, when the licensee defaults in making the license fee to the Excise Department, the Department is helpless is recovering the same from the defaulter licensee. In fact, an old lady from Kaithal district received a notice the Excise Department; directing her to pay the amount of more than Rs. 65 lacs; on account of failure of the licensee to pay the license fee. In a petition filed through her Advocate Pardeep Rapria, she challenged the action of the department. Her Counsel Pardeep Rapria apprised the High Court that that the Petitioner is the victim of the ‘institutionalised form of corruption and maladministration in the Haryana Excise & Taxation Department, perpetuated by the nexus of the officials at the helm of affairs and liquor traders, ultimately culminating into the huge revenue loss to the State. And, because of all this, the Petitioner is on the verge of losing roof over her head.’, as her only house has been taken as a surety.
During the hearing the HC was told that in response to the Petitioner’s RTI Application, the Department has replied that the details of his (licensee) personal property and bank account details are not available with Department.. he did not give any guarantee of his personal movable and immovable properties” Mr. Rapria argued that the concerned officials of the Excise & Taxation Department, in collusion with the vested interests, granted liquor licence of worth almost five Crores; without verifying and assessing the capacity of the licensee to accept his bid and didn’t even fulfil the statutory duty of verifying the requisite property papers of the licensee. Now, on the default of licensee to pay the license fee, the excise and taxation department seeks to recover the due amount from the old aged and semi-literate Petitioner, who was trapped to stand surety for the licensee. The Petitioner has requested the HC to take action against the erring officials; under the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act & IPC, for causing wrongful gain to themselves and wrongful revenue loss to the State of Haryana and recover the default amount from the erring officers of the excise department.
As per the Excise Policy of the State, ‘on failure to pay instalments along with interest the vends shall cease to be in operation… and shall be sealed by the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (Excise)’ However, all the concerned officers at the helm of affairs, in collusion with the licensee; by indulging in corruption and dereliction of duty, not only allowed the liquor vends to function continuously, but also issued more than 25 fresh permits to the defaulter licensee.
After hearing the arguments the HC issued notice to the Haryana Govt., the Assistant Excise & Taxation Officer, Kaithal, a Deputy Excise & Taxation Commissioner, Excise Inspector, Kaithal and the liquor contractor. Keeping in view the gravity and sensitivity of the matter the HC has appointed Senior Advocate Sh. Anupam Gupta, as amicus curiae to assist the Court. The matter has been posted for hearing on 18th December, 2018.
SEE HIGHLIGHTS OF ORIGINAL PETITION





Wednesday, November 21

VAT Scam in HC: Demand of Rs. 3344.21 Crores raised from defaulter businessmen.

The VAT Scam of more than 10, 000/- Crores, which is being investigated by E.D. and under consideration of HC for CBI Investigation. On Wednesday, the Haryana Govt. submitted the Action Taken Report before the Division Bench of J. A.K. Mittal. The key points of the case are:

  • SIT Lokayukta quantified the tax evasion scam: 10, 618 Crores in 10 Districts of Haryana.
  • Special Assessment Team and Special Revision Teams create demand of Rs. 334421.21 Crores.
  • Amount so far Recovered from defaulters: 43.99 Crores
  • Amount recovered under Haryana Alternative Tax Compliance Scheme for contractors: Rs. 1957.95 Crore.
  • Amount under appeal: 149.86 Crores.
  • Amount of Rs. 303.17 Crores is pending for recovery
  • Total FIRs registered: 78.
  • Matter is still under investigation by E.D

The stand of Pardeep Rapria, Advocate for Petitioners seeking CBI and ED investigation:

  • The Writ Petition is primarily for investigation and prosecution of defaulter businessmen, by the CBI and E.D. Its important to highlight that ED can investigate only money laundering aspect of the scam, it cant investigate the offences under I.P.C. and Prevention of Corruption Act. Therefore, the tax recovery under Haryana Alternative Tax Compliance Scheme for contractors and through other modes does not exempt the defaulters from prosecution under the Criminal Law. Tax evasion scam was committed by businessmen in conspiracy with the senior officials of the government. Therefore, the businessmen and officers of the Haryana Excise and Taxation Department needs to be booked and prosecuted under the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC.
  • 78 FIRs have been registered only against the small businessmen. Not even a single FIR has been registered against the big fishes; whose names figure in the report of the SIT, Lokayukta. In this regard, ED has written series of letters to the Haryana Govt., but the Excise & Taxation Department are not cooperating with the ED.

The relevant ATR submitted by the Add. Excise & Taxation Commission is pasted below: