Commercialization of Legal Profession in Apex Court:


                                      Speaking at the Thirteenth National Conference of Akhil Bhartiya Adhivakta Parishad, at KIIT University Bhubaneshwar on Dec 26th, Hon’able Justice Shri A.K.Patnaik of Supreme Court of India, in his inaugural speech focused on the commercialization of legal profession in the highest court in the country.

Justice Patnaik shared from his vast experience as a Judge that legal profession is doing very well in trial courts and in the high courts. Lawyers in such courts are very disciplined, laborious, they argue to the points and they stick to the ethical practice.

In Delhi, in the Supreme Court, he feels that legal profession has been effected by commercialization. Exorbitant fees are being charged to the clients.

Advocates don’t give much thought that whether the SLP (Special Leave Petition) filed is worth filing or not. In criminal cases the party most of the times has no option, they would want to exercise all options.

But in other matters where there is no case whatsoever, the cases are filed. Advocates know that such cases can never be admitted, there is no chance of them being admitted, still they are being filed for purely commercial gain.

This is a very commercial approach by the advocates and at what cost, they take the very precious time of a Supreme Court Judge because he has to study the brief nonetheless and time of court is being used which is public time. Result is that the parties who are in queue for justice in the court have to wait much longer for justice and this cause pain and agony.

This unnecessary and frivolous litigation can and should be avoided under all circumstances. State Bar councils and Bar Council of India are the only bodies under Advocates Act that has power to take the disciplinary action against the advocates.

Speaking further on the theme topic, Justice Patnaik mentioned that Parliamentarians and the ministers should implement the constitutional obligations and objectives enshrined in part IV of the constitution. Parliamentarian and the ministers should take national interest at the forefront qua their personal interest or party interest.

Justice Patnaik appreciated the objectives of the Akhil Bhartiya Adhivakta Parishad especially to inculcate professional ethics amongst the advocates through the country and take steps to reform the basic working and incorporate the Bhartiya values.

हिंदू धर्म में वापस लौटे 1021 ईसाई परिवार

हिंदू धर्म में वापस लौटे 1021 ईसाई परिवार आगरा : कोठी मीना बाजार में मंगलवार को जुदा माहौल था। मैदान में भगवा पताकाएं फहरा रही थीं। मंत्रों की आवाज वातावरण में गूंज रही थी। दरअसल यहां क्रिसमस के दिन आगरा-अलीगढ़ के 1021 ईसाई परिवारों ने हिंदू धर्म में वापसी की। धर्म जागरण समिति की ओर से यह कार्यक्रम आयोजित किया गया। कार्यक्रम में आगरा, फीरोजाबाद, मैनपुरी, अलीगढ़, हाथरस, एटा और कासगंज जिलों से बड़ी संख्या में वाल्मीकि समाज के लोग पहुंचे। यहां हवन के लिए 21 कुंड बनाए गए थे। ईसाई धर्म छोड़कर हिंदू धर्म में लौटने वाले परिवारों से हवन कराया गया, फिर मंत्रोच्चार का साथ इन परिवारों को हिंदू धर्म में शामिल किया गया। करीब दो घंटे तक यह कार्यक्रम चला। धर्म जागरण समिति 31 दिसंबर, 2021 तक उत्तर प्रदेश के सभी परिवर्तित ईसाई व मुस्लिमों को हिंदू धर्म में वापस लाने की योजना बनाए हुए है।

Now temple and monastery are More insecure – After amendment in the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1951

After three-day marathon debate, the state assembly on Saturday passed the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowments (Amendment) Bill 2012, which gives first preference to the state government to buy immovable properties from Hindu religious institutions.

As per the amendment in the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1951, any proposal to dispose of immovable property of any Hindu religious institutions, the first sale offer will go to the State government. If the State Government refused to buy the endowment property, the property will be put to public sale with permission from the Endowments Commissioner, Law Minister Raghunath Mohanty told the Assembly.

Opposition BJP and Congress had sought withdrawal of the Bill saying it was hastily introduced keeping in mind some ulterior motive. Allaying any apprehension, law minister Raghunath Mohanty said it would help government buy such land in important places for larger public good. Currently, land of these institutions is being purchased by private parties, preventing the government from using those for public purpose such as expansion of office, court building and roads.
The amendment to the original Act was required as the power to grant permission for sale of immovable property, mostly land of Hindu religious institutions, was vested with the Endowments Commissioner. The State Government has little scope to know about sale or mortgage of endowments property except when dispute arises over the property and the parties involved in the dispute went for appeal. Secretary of Law Department is the first appellate authority for hearing the appeal.

The Minister said there are many religious institutions, managed by either hereditary trustee or non-hereditary Trust Board constituted under the provisions of the Endowments Act, are not financially sound. In many cases, immovable properties of such institutions are located in areas where development is taking place at a rapid pace.

In view of the huge price rise of real estate, the middle class, lower middle class and economically weaker sections are not able to participate in the auction of endowments land in important localities. Only higher income groups and people in real estate business are taking advantage of the sale of endowments properties.

Mohanty said in many cases properties of such institutions were located in important urban localities where development was fast taking place. But whenever the institutions decide to sell those, only rich people were able to but those. The state has over 16000 temples and over 450 mutts.

The State Government will intimate its decision whether to purchase the land or not to the Trustee or the person-in-charge of the endowments property within 45 days which may be extended by another 30 days, the Minister said

Jagannath temple Puri

Jagannath temple Puri

Blind-men-and-elephant like probe

S Gurumurthy
14th December 2012

Sideshow: Prologue

A prologue to the sideshow: As Purti’s loans to IREDA and banks had become NPA, a sick Purti began working from early 2009 for One- Time Settlement [OTS] of their dues. Purti had approached Global Safety Vision P Ltd [belonging to the D P Mahiskar family, Nagpur] for loan of Rs 164 cr for OTS. A willing Global asked, besides charge on Purti’s assets, pledge of promoter shares and guarantees of directors of the 14 shareholding companies. But Global obviously had unexpressed reservations about accepting pledge and guarantee from Mehta group. Result, the loan proposal got stuck for months.

Therefore, Mehtas decided to transfer the equity [`47.34cr] held by the 12 operating companies to the 17 [14+3] companies and to substitute non-Mehta nominees in place of theirs on the latter’s boards. Why? To facilitate the pledge of Mehta group holdings of Rs 54.79cr in Purti and promoter guarantees to Global without involving Mehtas in either. The decision forced Mehtas to scramble for new directors to stand substitute for their nominees in the companies. The choice inevitably, but perhaps unfortunately, fell on some Gadkari associates. They were co-opted briefly as directors to help achieve the OTS. See how things move at breakneck sequence.

2009-2011 Changes and OTS

First, on July 24 2009, four persons associated with Gadkari–K Zade, M Panse, N Agnihotri and S Kotwaliwale–were co-opted as directors in one or the other of the 14 companies. Second, on September11 2009, the Mehta nominees–J Pahade and J K Verma–quit their boards. Third, by October 2009, the Rs 47.34cr equity in Purti held by 12 Mehta companies was transferred to the 17 companies. By now, the 17 companies, with Gadkari associates as directors, held the group holdings of Purti [`54.79cr]. Fourth, immediately, on 22.10.2009, Purti filed loan application with Global, corroborating the earlier steps as necessary preparations for the Global loan. Fifth, Global forthwith disbursed the loan–Rs 28.82cr in November; Rs 53.51cr in December; and Rs 24.61cr in January 2010 and by 26.2.2010, the entire Rs 164cr. Sixth, Purti got Global to drop guarantees of Gadkari associates on the boards of the 17 companies, substantiating that their presence on the boards was for secretarial need, not by proprietorial right. Seventh, Purti completed OTS with banks by March 2010. Eighth, with Purti out of NPA issues, after a decent interval, Manish Mehta rejoined–yes rejoined–Purti Board on 27.12.2010 as additional director. He had quit Purti’s Board in December 2002 to protect Purti when other Mehta companies’ had NPA issues and, later, to protect his other companies, he deferred rejoining Purti till its NPA issue was sorted out. On 29.9.2011, he became a regular director of Purti. He remains so now. [The ‘investigation’ was wrong in saying that he is now not a Director in Purti.] Ninth, most importantly, on 15.2.2011, within two months of Mehta re-entering the Purti Board, Gadkari associates quit the boards of all 17 companies, proving that the understanding was that they would quit once Mehta re-entered. Now, is it not self-evident that Mehtas’ withdrawal from the 17 companies and the entry and brief stay of Gadkari associates on their boards was only to help sort out Purti’s NPA issues? Now, the story of the three companies.

3 Cos Genuine

The ‘investigation’ had relied on the three “shell” companies [Jainaam,Jasika and Neelay] with Gadkari family members as shareholders to insinuate him with money laundering. Now look at the facts. The three companies, included in the 17, were acquired in January-February 2009 as Mehta investment vehicles. On 18.3.2009, Gadkari’s associates [not family members] became their directors. When the 12 Mehta companies transferred their Purti holdings, they transferred three lakh Purti shares on 14.9.2009 to Jasika and Neelay. On 17.11.2009, Gadkari’s wife, two sons and nephew paid and acquired at par value 10,000 shares in each [totally 14 per cent ownership]. This gave them the pleasure of [just] 0.6 per cent indirect ownership of Purti that lasted for a year only!

On 1.12.2010, Gadkari’s wife and sons transferred their holdings to Gadkari’s associates, at purchase price, though Purti share value had gone up because of OTS. This showed that their holding was temporary and for no gain.

The three companies had valid registered offices and directors when, and till, Gadkari family members were shareholders. Like in the 14 companies, Gadkari associates quit the boards of the three companies on 15.2.2011. It is obvious that the changes in the three, like in the 14, were in the context of the OTS. Anyway, the insinuation that Gadkari family held shares in three “fictitious” companies was clearly false.

Mehta to ‘Shell’ to Mehta

After 15.2.2011 when Gadkari associates quit the boards of 17 companies, the sideshow started in which the media, perhaps rightly, saw red. On 15.2.2011, questionable directors replaced Gadkari associates on their boards. Two days later on 17.2.2011, the registered offices of 13 of them were shifted from genuine addresses to fake addresses. Why? It needs an initiation into the corporate world. It is normal practice for promoter families to hold shares through hierarchy of companies with cross holdings and with personal secretaries, assistants, clerks, and other reliable persons chosen by the corporate secretariat, as nominee directors. Mehtas did the same differently, but shabbily. Sometime in 2010, Mehtas appear to have outsourced the secretarial work of the 17 companies to C S Sarda, a Chartered Accountant and investment consultant, based in Kolkata. His brother, D P Sarda, also a Chartered Accountant practising in Nagpur, had introduced the Mehtas to the former.

Sarda was engaged by Mehtas as investment consultant to manage the secretarial work of the 17 companies. When tax authorities examined him he seems to have testified that he had suggested new directors and new offices. This is the story of the ‘fake’ offices and directors. After this sideshow climaxed as the main show on TV screens, Manish Mehta seems to have got the holding of 17 companies transferred to himself or his family and put his own men on the boards of the 17 companies!

When Gadkari’s second term as BJP president became a possibility, some media began targeting him, but with no luck. But when they saw companies with fake addresses and directors as Purti’s owners, they thought and declared in haste, that they had caught Gadkari red-handed. And without probing further, they convicted and sentenced (him) to resign as BJP president! An apt comparison of the quality of such ‘investigation’ is the famous probe of the six blind men who perceived an elephant in parts as wall, rope, pillar etc. In Gadkari’s case, seeing companies with fake directors and offices holding Puti shares, the investigators alleged money laundering; seeing Gadkari associates as their directors, involved him in the charge; and seeing Gadkari family members holding shares in some as proof of his guilt.

Competitive sensationalism made them blind to what changes took place on 24.7.2009 and why; what changes took place on 27.12.2010 and 15.2.2011 and why; when and why ‘fake’ offices and directors emerged; how when the 17 companies invested Purti equity or when Gadkari family members were directors or his associates were directors, they had genuine offices and boards; and finally how its story was just a glib sideshow that did not make the investment in Purti spurious. Media’s disjointed probe on Gadkari is the like the six blind men’s on the elephant which led them to bizarre conclusions.

PS: A saying in Tamil goes “What is true is not you see or hear, but what you find on deeper probe”. That is the lesson. Pen is mightier than the sword.

And camera is deadlier than AK-47. It needs great skill, responsibility and, most important, wisdom, to handle both.

Raped Hindu girl in Sindh finds support


Civil society activists of Pakistan are rallying to secure justice for the six-year-old Hindu girl from the Meghwar community who was raped in the Umerkot district of Sindh last week.

The girl was found raped and tortured on a street. Her case did not get much media attention after two local journalists who reported about it were threatened by the alleged perpetrators. The Class I student was shifted from the local hospital to a larger one in Lyari on the intervention of the Deputy Speaker of Sindh Assembly.

Meanwhile, activists have started an online petition to draw attention to her case in particular and the condition of the Hindu community in general.

In a related development, a Hindu doctor was shot dead in the Mastung area of Balochistan while on his way home.

Karnataka Govt passes ‘Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation Bill-2012′

December 13th, 2012, 2:13 pm

Belgaum/Bangalore December 13, 2012: Amid high opposition by Congress and Janata Dal MLA’s, in what can be termed as an extremely decisive movement, the Karnataka legislative assembly has passed an anti-cow slaughter bill. The bill known as ‘Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation Bill-2012‘, has been introduced today, the last day of the assembly session. This means that any animal falling under the category of bovines, will not be slaughtered withing the state.

‘High punishment will be given for those who slaughter Cow and Bull.  Up to an age of 15 years slaughtering of Buffalo also offensive according to the new bill. Karnataka govt already passed a bill a year ago, which  included several cattle breeds of cow, buffalo, goat, sheep and few other animals. That bill is still under consideration of President of India. The new bill passes today will focus only on Cow, Bull and Buffalo up to 15 years by age.’ said a senior official of Animal Husbandry department to VSK-Karnataka.

The bill was introduced in the legislative assembly by Minister for Animal Husbandry Revu Naik Belmagi. The Bill proposes to amend the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Prevention Act, 1964, to expand the definition of cow and include bull and bullock in the category. (Inputs from Indiawires)

The bill will be passed at Legislative council soon, where the ruling BJP govt has enough number to pass the bill.