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September 5, 2001 - September 6, 2001

Woman injured in group clash in city Thursday, September 6, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A woman was injured after two groups clashed in Kalupur locality of Walled City area late on Wednesday night forcing authorities to impose curfew, police said Thursday.

Police burst 53 teargas shells to disperse groups of two communities indulging in stone pelting and later fired six rounds in the air near the Durgamata mandir.

No arrest has been made so far in this connection, police said, adding, the situation was tense but under control.

The city had witnessed riots and police firing last fortnight, claiming two lives.
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SC quashes HC order in Gandhinagar land case Wednesday, September 5, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Supreme Court has set aside the order of the Gujarat High Court that upheld the state government's decision to cancel allotment of 51,000 square metres to the Gandhinagar Charitable Trust by former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela.

A Bench, comprising Justice G B Pattanaik, Justice Ruma Pal and Justice Brijesh Pal, set aside the High Court judgment and the report of the sub-committee, which recommended cancelling the allotment, and quashed the cancellation order. It ruled that the allottee must be "held to be in possession of the land."

Minister of state for home Haren Pandya, who was then an Assembly member from the Opposition, had filed a public interest litigation in the HC against this allotment of land.

Criticising the HC judgment, the apex court observed: "The High Court was called upon to examine the correctness of the said order of cancellation. It was not necessary to go into the other questions in the so-called PIL. In fact, the PIL must be held to have become infructuous on that date. Ipso facto, the allotment made in favour of a trust cannot be held to be vitiated even if the chief minister was the managing trustee of the trust."

The SC observed: "Notwithstanding the fact that the government administratively got the order of allotment in favour of the trust cancelled, on which account the so-called PIL filed at the instance of Pandya ought to have been rejected outright, the HC considered both the matters together, and instead of examining the legality of the order of cancellation, focused its attention on the legality of the original grant."

While refraining from making further examination in the issue the court stated both the report of the committee and the order of the state could not stand scrutiny on the grounds that the allottee had not been noticed. The allegation of favouritism in the matter of allotment was also uncalled for since the sub-committee itself has taken several non-existent and erroneous factors into consideration.

Appearing for the trust were senior counsels Ashok Desai and advocate Shirish Sanjanwala and senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi for the state, while advocate Rashesh Sanjanwala appeared in the HC.

Pandya had filed the PIL challenging the allotment of land to the trust in Sector 8 of Gandhinagar on the grounds that Vaghela, who was then chief minister, had used his influence and was also the managing trustee. Pandya also alleged the trust was allotted the land at a throwaway price "very speedily" and Vaghela had misused his position.

While the petition was pending, there was a change in the government and when the new government came into power on April 1, 1998, Pandya became a minister.

The new government decided to constitute a sub-committee to review many a decision of the earlier government, including the decision to allot land in favour of the trust. This committee submitted a report on July 3, 1999, to the government recommending cancellation of the land allotted to the trust, which was accepted and the order of cancellation was also issued.

The trust then assailed the legality of the said order stating that neither the government nor the sub-committee had issued notices to them or heard them and that its conclusion was based upon non-existent and irrelevant material.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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Contractors protest outside CM's office Wednesday, September 5, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: About 200 contractors from all over Gujarat demonstrated outside Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel's office on Tuesday. They were demanding early release of payments -- totalling nearly Rs 500 crore -- that are pending for work carried out on roads and buildings, and small irrigation over the past two years.

Shouting anti-government slogans, they reached the Block No 1 of the state Secretariat, where they were stopped by the police from entering the building.

Half-a-dozen representatives of the demonstrators, under the banner of Gujarat Contractors' Association, later met roads and buildings minister Nitin Patel and finance minister Vajubhai Vala to ensure that the dues were released at the earliest.

When contacted, Nitin told TNN, "We did not give any assurance. But we told them that their demand would be met at the earliest. The CM, finance minister and myself will hold a meeting soon to look into how much is due and how much can be paid."

However, contractors claim that they have been called on Saturday for a decision.

Members of the delegation, which met the two ministers, told newspersons that not only was Rs 500 crore pending, but also the contractors were being forced to take up new assignments worth another Rs 500 crore, for which tenders have been okayed.

"If we do not begin work in protest, notices are issued against us, threatening cancellation of the new contracts. We have no other option but to protest," said a delegate.

The contractors demanded that payments be released by the state government through a bank guarantee.

"We demanded an appointment with the CM to look into the problem. However, he refused to meet us. Roads and buildings and irrigation department officials, too, do not meet us when we approach over our past payments," an spokesperson for the contractors said.

Nitin contested the Rs 500 crore payment. He said, "This is inflated."

In a separate memorandum to the CM, senior BJP leader from Jetpur V I Pandya, a contractor and ex-chief nagarpalika, said that Rs 700 crore had been spent on 49 small irrigation projects under progress in Saurashtra. Another Rs 300 crore would be needed to complete the projects.

"Last year, Saurashtra's contractors were given a mere Rs 30 crore out of the yearly requirement of Rs 100 crore," he said, adding that Saurashtra's 1.09 lakh hectares could be brought under cultivation if these projects were completed.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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Teachers observe Teachers Day as 'black day' Wednesday, September 5, 2001

By Harsha Kumari Singh, NDTV News Services
Wednesday, September 5, 2001 (Gandhinagar): Teachers’ Day is being observed as a black day by striking teachers in Gujarat. Nearly 5,500 schools have remained closed with teachers demanding higher salaries and a hike in their transport allowance.

“We have given three days time to the school management to reopen their schools otherwise we will take back their grants and if necessary also impose ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act),” said Anandi Behn Patel, Gujarat Education Minister.

But teachers say they won't back down till the government issues an official order giving them higher salaries and a hike in their transport allowance. But as teachers stay away from schools, about 25 lakh children in the state from Classes VIII to XII have been forced to stay home. “He does not feel like studying because the routine is not there. Once a child is in a routine he feels like doing homework. They had exams on September 7 which have also been postponed,” said a parent.

After the earthquake in Gujarat, schools here were shut for four months and now with the teachers strike, school routines have been disrupted once again.

News Source : [ Best Television news coverage for India]

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Five-judge HC bench to hear handcuffing case Wednesday, September 5, 2001

AHMEDABAD: It will be for the first time since 1996 that a larger Bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising five judges will hear a case referred by a Division Bench of the court.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice D M Dharmadhikari, Justice B C Patel, Justice J N Bhatt, Justice R K Abhichandani and Justice Y B Bhatt will take up a suo motu petition by joint district magistrate R P Vaghela of Bhavnagar against the State of Gujarat on September 11.

The court has appointed senior advocate S B Vakil as amicus curaie, while government pleader Arun Oza will appear for the state government.

On February 11, 2000, the Supreme Court registry was informed by joint district judge Vaghela that despite its judgment prohibiting use of handcuffs on undertrial prisoners a handcuffed person was brought to his court by the police. It was conveyed that the this act of the police amounted to the contempt of the directions of the Supreme Court, and was also flouting its directions.

In the matter of Citizens for Democracy against the State of Assam, the apex court guidelines say that nobody should be handcuffed, and if required, orders should be acquired from the magistrate. There are clear guidelines laid down for bringing the undertrials in handcuff.

So the matter was referred to the Supreme Court, which was referred back to the High Court. The matter was placed before a Division Bench comprising Justice R K Abhichandani and Justice Kundan Singh on December 11, 2000. The state had filed a detailed reply, and the court then raised a point whether there was a contempt of the directions given by the SC under the Contempt of Courts Act. And in that case whether the court can take cognisance or not.

On this issue, the matter was referred to the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court with a request to refer the matter to a larger Bench, preferably of five judges. Accordingly, the matter was placed for hearing on Tuesday.

A larger Bench of five judges was constituted in November 1996 in a case on the Stamps Act, after a reference was made by Justice N N Mathur.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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