BRIEF MENTION OF SOME OTHER WRIT PETITIONS FILED IN THE SUPREME COURT
System of assessment and levy of Property Tax had been hitherto based on the determination of "annual rental value". This system was alright fifty years ago when it was introduced but it is now riddled with shortcomings and inadequacies which lead inevitably to enormous lot of anomalies, discriminations and distortions in the assessments, and which give rise to great lot of grievances, foul play and scope for corruption.
Largely the existing system consists of the provisions that the Rateable Value (on which the calculation of Property Tax is based) is the "annual rent on which such land or building might reasonably be expected to let from year to year. COMMON CAUSE filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court in which these anomalies and discriminations had been highlighted in assessment of Property Tax.
ENHANCEMENT OF RATEABLE VALUE
Notices numbering tens of thousands were issued in a most arbitrary manner to owners of residential and non-residential properties by Delhi Municipal Corporation and New Delhi Municipal Committee in their jurisdictions, proposing to increase the Rateable Values of properties 10 to 20 times and in some cases even 30 to 40 times, giving no specific reasons.
COMMON CAUSE filed petition under Article 32of the Constitution of India praying for issuance of direction to the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and administration of New Delhi Municipal Committee to withdraw the notices.
Courts in this country are already reeling under the enormous accumulation of backlog of cases. To this scenario has been added, over the past few years, the further dimension of strikes resorted to by the lawyers, bringing the functioning of the courts to a grinding halt. The strikes by lawyers have been undertaken for multifarious and variety of causes.
COMMON CAUSE filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the strikes by lawyers. Our contention in the petition was that the disruption of the cases in courts, by resort to strikes by lawyers, causes serious damage to the interests of their clients and affects their right of securing speedy justice which is held by the Supreme Court to be a fundamental right enforceable under Article 21 of the Constitution.
PENDING CRIMINAL CASES
There are presently about three crores cases pending in the courts of the Country. Out of these about one crore are criminal cases. A comprehensive writ petition on the subject of pending criminal cases was filed by COMMON CAUSE in the Supreme Court (1128 of 1986) on this important subject.
Specific suggestions for dealing with the old pending cases were made in the writ petition seeking suitable directions. The directions issued by the Court brought about the termination of hundreds of thousands of cases all over the country and have released large number of persons who were for long languishing in prisons
IMPLEMENTATION OF CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
Consumer Protection Act was enacted in December 1986. For the first time there was in it the provision of seeking redressal in respect of deficient "services" and against faulty "goods". Under this Act it was made mandatory that in each district of the country there shall be established a district forum.
We filed writ petition in the Supreme Court in late 1988 seeking direction from the court to the Government of India and State Governments to fulfil this basic and essential requirement of the statute, contending that its non-fulfilment affects the fundamental rights, particularly enshrined in Articles 19 and 21 of the constitution of the country.
CORRUPTION - LOKPAL
An important writ petition was filed by COMMON CAUSE in the Supreme Court on the general subject of corruption prevailing in the country, emphasising the importance and requirement of establishing the LOKPAL. It has been prayed that in view of the above the Hon'ble Court may direct the government to persuade the Parliament to give consideration to the Lok Pal Bill and to enquire from the Parliament as to whether and when the enactment of this Bill may be expected. Further, the Union of India may be asked to request the remaining State Governments of the country to pass Lokayuktas/Up-Lokayuktas Acts wherever these have not yet been enacted.
CANCELLATION OF ALLOTMENT OF PETROL PUMPS
An off-shoot of this important case, relating to allotment of petrol pumps by the Petroleum Minister, was decided by the Supreme Court vide judgement delivered on 25th May, 1996 and subsequent order dated 4.11.96 (writ petition (C) No. 26/95). The Hon'ble Court directed Capt. Satish Sharma to pay a sum of Rs. 50 lakhs as exemplary damages to the Govt. Exchequer. The Court also directed CBI to register a case against the Minister. Another Bench of the Court wrote off the direction of payment of damages but the main contention of the case was upheld.
OPERATION OF BLOOD BANKS
There were for long serious complaints that the operation of blood banks was very unsatisfactory; most of them continue to operate without any prescribed licence; they operated in very unhygienic conditions; they depended primarily on donation of blood by professional donors who are generally poor unemployed persons with low levels of haemoglobin and prone to diseases, who were exploited for the purpose by middle men; they were not equipped with testing facilities and laboratory equipment etc.
We prepared a writ petition contending that inadequacy of action for improvement of blood banks is violative of the fundamental rights of life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution for those who will be the recipients of infected or poor quality blood. In the writ petition the Drug Controller of the Government of India, and the Health Departments of all the State were impleaded because the licensing and operations of blood banks come within their purview according to the Rules framed under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act which has been on the statute book for decades.
TAX DEDUCTION AT SOURCE
A writ petition was filed by COMMON CAUSE in the Supreme Court against mandatory directions issued by the Government of India to all the banks in the country to effect deduction of Income Tax from the interest accruing on all deposits made in the banks when the amount of interest earned by any depositor was more than Rs. 2500 in the year.
POSTS & TELEGRAPHS
An important writ petition was submitted in 1984 from the platform of COMMON CAUSE about inefficiency and failures of the system of telephones. We highlighted various areas of inefficiency of the operations of the telephones in the writ petition. We submitted how the department was making huge profits due to the malfunctioning of telephones, earning revenues out of wrong calls and the failures and defaults of the system.
There has for many years been a general tendency in various Ministries of the Government of India as well as of the State Governments to utilise some inherent powers of the Ministers and legislators to accord certain benefits and privileges on out-of-turn basis, ostensibly to please their constituents and also to generally pacify the claimants. We filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court against this practice.
PENSIONS OF MPs
We found that it was obviously never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution that members of Parliament and the legislatures of the States should receive pensions, taking into account the nature of their duties and responsibilities as well as their normal tenure. We accordingly filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of pensions being given to Members of Parliament.
EXEMPTION OF PSUs FROM MRTP
In this Writ Petition we had submitted that Section 3 of Monapalies & Restrictive Trade Practices Act was unconstitutional in-as-far as it
exempted from the operation of the provisions relating to unfair trade practices of the public sector undertakings of Central and State Governments.
OUT-OF-TURN ALLOTMENTS BY MARUTI UDYOG LTD.
We filed a writ petition challenging the procedure adopted by Maruti Udyog Ltd in making out-of-turn allotments out of a discretionary quota. This petition was filed before the Supreme Court early in 1984. There was at that time a scramble for allotments of this new car.
It is laid down as Directive Principle in the Constitution that within 10 years of its adoption all children up to the age of 14 years shall be given free and primary education. The Constitution was adopted in 1949. We are still very far from the attainment of this specified target.
On the failure of the Government of India and State Governments to attain this important target, a Writ Petition was filed from the platform of COMMON CAUSE in the Supreme Court highlighting the defaults of Government in the matter of primary significance which has bearing on the progress of the country.
ELECTIONS AND POLITICAL PARTIES
A very important Writ Petition was filed from the platform of COMMON CAUSE in the Supreme Court, on the failure of political parties to comply with the statutory requirement of maintaining accounts, record of all contributions received by them above a prescribed limit, and getting the accounts audited. Main contention in the Writ Petition was that the political parties were not maintaining accounts on the lines made mandatory under Section 13A of the Income Tax Act and Explanation I under Section 77 of Representation of People Act.
TOO MANY HOLIDAYS
An initiative was taken and a civil writ petition filed in the Supreme Court from the platform of COMMON CAUSE. The Apex court was inter-alia requested to direct the government to lay down specific days which need to be included in the list of national holidays and the days which need to be included in the list of restricted holidays. And to lay down procedures which should be followed on the demise of a dignitary, including the flying of the national flag, observance of two minutes silence, passing of Resolution, observance of national mourning and to prescribe that no holidays or closed days should be declared on any such occasion.
TWO TIME ZONES
This country has, for over one hundred years, since the British period, been observing one Standard Time, based on the longitude passing through Allahabad which at that time was adjudged to be suitable for the purpose. Longitudinal spread of our country, comprising over 30 degrees of longitude, necessitates observance of two Standard Times, because each 15 degree means one hour difference.
This necessarily has affected the life pattern and productivity etc. in the far-east. Our requests to the concerned governmental authorities remained unfruitful; we, therefore, filed a Writ Petition on this important subject in the Supreme Court. The Apex Court .
POST AND TELECOM WORKERS STRIKE
Post and Telecom Workers throughout the country struck work resulting in veritable paralysis of the nation in the matter of communications. COMMON CAUSE filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court seeking to impugn the actions and inactions of the respondents as a result of which the Postal and Telecommunication services throughout the country came to grinding halt thereby paralysing business, industry and the day to day affairs of the people.
BOARD FOR INDUSTRIAL AND FINANCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
COMMON CAUSE filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India seeking to impugn the provisions of Section 6 (2) of the Sick Industrial Companies (special provisions) Act, 1985 (hereinafter “ the SICA”) which deals with the term of office, conditions of service etc. of the Chairman and other members of the BIFR.
APPOINTMENT OF COMPTROLLER & AUDITOR GENERAL
A Writ Petition was submitted to Hon'ble Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, by way of Public Interest Litigation, raising a public grievance with respect to the arbitrary and unfair manner and procedure being adopted by the Government of India in making appointment to the office of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (hereinafter referred to as CAG). The Petitioner sought directions by the Court to the Government of India to follow certain guidelines, including guidelines as to the requisite qualifications, in the matter of appointment to the aforesaid office.
RESERVATIONS IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
AND SERVICES IN TAMIL NADU
A public interest writ petition was filed, referring to the arbitrary, unreasonable and ultra vires provisions of the Constitution (Seventy-sixth Amendment) Act, 1994
TRANSFER OF OFFICERS
There has been a general impression about severe deterioration in the standards of administration in the country, for which an important cause is the absence of any specific guidelines or provisions in the Government Servants Conduct Rules of the Centre and the States in regard to the matter of transfers of officials. Undermining of morale of the services which are the pillars on which the entire structure of administration rests, and any weakening of which can be catastrophic. These issues formed the subject of a Writ Petition filed before the Supreme Court.
MPs LOCAL AREA DEVELOPMENT FUND
We took this matter to the Supreme Court highlighting report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India wherein deficiencies had been pointed out in utilisation of this fund, also contending that this measure inevitably involved elements of discrimination against those who will be contesting the election against the present MP in the next election.
NON-PERFORMING ASSETS (NPAs)
There have been reports of large-scale misutilisation of funds of the Banks for advancing huge loans to the industry and business, which loans remain unrefunded and are later conveniently categorised as "Non-Performing Assets (NPAs)".We took this matter to the Supreme Court.
There have been reports of quite a number of railway accidents. Some of these have involved great loss of life. It is unfortunate that such accidents are taking place, and apparently there have been defaults in the maintenance of railway tracks, wagons, and connected equipment. We filed a writ petition seeking direction to the Government for urgent modernisation of traffic management of railways.
We have filed a comprehensive writ petition in the Supreme Court. In our writ petition we have impleaded Ministry of HRD, University Grants Commission, Medical Council of India and All India Council for Technical Education. We have sought directions to the respondents to indicate what steps are proposed to be taken to effectively check the menace of mushrooming and proliferating incompetent and non-accredited "teaching shops".
NON-BANKING FINANCE COMPANIES
We filed a comprehensive writ petition before the Supreme Court on this important subject. We had not taken up the issue in relation to any particular companies. Our plea was on the wider issue of these finance companies having defrauded hundreds of thousands of persons of their life's saving and now having either wound up their operations or locked up their premises.
A Writ Petition has been submitted to the Hon'ble Supreme Court requesting the Hon'ble Court to direct the Respondents, Union of India and the named State Governments, to take immediate and effective steps to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony in the country and avoidance of any future inter-communal conflicts.
CRIME AND VIOLENCE ON T.V.
This Writ Petition aimed at presenting to the Supreme Court a situation that has arisen in the country by the continuously mounting tendency of presentation and adoption of scenes of violence and sexual abuse in the programmes and serials which are being telecast for the viewers of TV in India, for seeking issue of directions of the Court to Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Ministry of Home Affairs, to examine in their respective spheres the need to undertake measures for enforcing appropriate guidelines and norms for adoption by TV channels.
A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court wherein we have sought directions to the respondents to re-examine and re-consider, for cancellation, bounteous concessions which are reported to have been announced as the decision will involve sizeable loss of revenue to the Union of India.
RITUAL OF BURYING OF CHILDREN IN SOME VILLAGES OF TAMILNADU
The ugly ritual of burying grown-up children in Tamil Nadu for short while, for propitiating some Gods and Godesses, was taken to the Supreme Court through a Writ Petition.
SLAUGHTER HOUSES – POLLUTION
In this Petition we had pointed out the extent of environmental pollution and the danger of epidemics occasioned by disposal of animal wastes and slurry on the land or in the sewer systems. We also pointed out the employment of children in slaughter houses and in roadside vends.
ACCIDENTS ON ROADS & HIGHWAYS
Taking into account the frightening statistics of accidents, fatalities and loss of property, COMMON CAUSE has filed in the Supreme Court of India a Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for issue of appropriate directions directing the Respondents, keeping in view the enormity of accidents that are taking place on the roads of cities, towns and national highways, leading to causation of enormous number of fatalities and injuries to people, besides causing huge loss of property, to initiate activities and procedures of the nature of improvement of licensing regulations and training methods of motorised vehicles and drivers of the vehicles, provision of appropriate infrastructure on the roads of cities, towns and highways, including scientific analysis of each accident that takes place on the roads, education of the users of roads, to ensure ready availability of ambulance for taking injured persons to hospitals.
LARGE – SCALE ADVERTISEMENTS IN NEWSPAPERS PROJECTING IMAGE OF POLITICIANS AND POLITICAL PARTIES.
COMMON CAUSE has filed in the Supreme Court of India a petition under article 32 of the Constitution of India for directing the Union of India in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to determine the steps that can be taken to check profligacy in the placement of big-sized advertisements in the newspapers for projecting the image of politicians and of political parties.
The Vice-President of India, Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is reported to have made certain suggestions for ensuring that functioning of the governmental system is not adversely affected by the processes of elections.
In our Writ Petition it has been submitted that the political parties and Governmental functionaries of the Central Government in consultation with the States/Union Territories should constitute a high-level Committee for examining the entire matter and to analyse in detail the suggestions made by Vice-President of India. The Committee should submit its report within a period of three months and the report.
MAINTENANCE AND AUDIT OF ACCOUNTS BY POLITICAL PARTIES
COMMON CAUSE feels very concerned about the default of most of the political parties in strict compliance with relevant provisions of the law, and accordingly a Petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for directing the Respondents to place before the Hon'ble Court the status of comopliance by political parties and enforcement by governmental authorities of provisions of sections 13(A), 139 (4) (B) and 142 (1) of the Income Tax Act and Section 293 (A) of Companies Act as enunciated by this Hon'ble Court in CWP/24 of 1995 (AIR-1996 – SC-3081) because continuing default in this regard by the political parties named as Respondents, is violative of the Articles 14 & 21 of the Constitution of India.
CONDITIONAL ACCESS SYSTEM
Various problems were analysed and presented in a Writ Petition, requesting the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India to issue direction to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for dealing with the problems presented in the Petition and to postpone introduction of CAS till satisfactory arrangements can be made to manufacture STBs in the country instead of importing them which will involve enormous lot of expenditure of foreign exchange.
PREVALENCE OF AIDS IN THE COUNTRY
COMMON CAUSE has submitted a Writ Petition to the Hon'ble Supreme Court to bring to its notice the havoc that is being caused in the country by wide prevalence and continuing spread of the dreaded disease AIDS. COMMON CAUSE feels that there is absence of effective monitoring of the entire Project operated under the auspices of NACO, that there is inevitable apprehension of further spread of the dreaded disease, and that substantial funds provided for the purpose are being extensively misappropriated.
EDUCATION FOR POOR CHILDREN
COMMON CASUE, considered it necessary to approach the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and has accordingly filed a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for directing the Union of India to initiate positive and effective measures for imparting primary education to all children within a period of ten years till they reach the age of 14 years, as embodied in the New Article 21-A of the Constitution of India. The case is being pursued in the Supreme Court.
COMMON CAUSE filed in the Supreme Court a Writ Petition for directing the Union of India to further strengthen its operations for effective control of expansion of population of the country besides the introduction of incentives and disincentives and propagation for the use of contraceptives, inter-alia by ensuring the adoption by all States of Two-Child Norm under their Panchayat Acts, and also to explore the avenues for enactment of similar measures by the Higher-level legislatures.
JUMBO CABINET IN UTTAR PRADESH
COMMON CAUSE considered it necessary to submit a Writ Petition to the Hon'ble Supreme Court for seeking an expression of views of the Hon'ble Court that creation of such Jumbo Cabinet in the State is contrary to the general spirit of the relevant provisions of the Constitution even though specific provision does not exist in the Constitution limiting the size of a Cabinet.
INFRUCTUOUS INVESTMENT ON NON-FUNCTIONING AIR-PORTS
In our country there has been considerable wastage of public fund in relation to setting up of certain Airports at unimportant and unnecessary places, ostensibly on demands made on political considerations and not for economic requirements. It is evident, that there is urgent need to restrict the creation of new airports without analyzing economic viability based on traffic volume and consent of airlines to operate in the sector. COMMON CAUSE has filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court.
FUNCTIONING OF JUDICIARY
A writ petition was submitted before the Supreme Court where-in we have expressed concern of the people about the functioning of judiciary in the country and have sought a direction from the court to lay down specific guidelines and norms in relation to certain aspects of functioning of the judges in the High Courts as well as judiciary in the districts.
In this Petition submitted to the Supreme Court of India we have raised the important issue of serious problems which are encountered when a patient is suffering from incurably body ailment and has approached the state of imminent death, and decision has to be taken in a hospital whether his life should be terminated or whether he should be allowed to continue to suffer the agony and pain.
Outlook magazine exposed the existence of a Lottery Scam. We requested the Union of India vide letter dated 9 th Nov. 2004 for effective steps to check this malaise. No reply was receiv