HRLN has filed a PIL to Compensate the Acid attack Survivor under Maharashtra's Manodhairya Yojana in the Bombay High Court

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The Petitioner has filed a Petition against the State of Maharashtra on behalf of the Petitioner who is a 24 year old woman and she was attacked with acid in January 2012. She continues to bear scars even after repeated surgeries and has not received any financial assistance from the Government for her medical treatment. She requires further corrective surgeries which are expensive and unaffordable for her
The Petitioner through this Petition seeks directions from this Hon’ble Court directing the Respondents to give her compensation as mandated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in Laxmi v. Union of India, and to make provisions for her free medical treatment. The Petitioner further seeks to challenge the Government Resolution of the Manodhairya Yojana to the extent of the inadequate compensation to be granted to acid attack victims, and the conditions for claiming financial assistance.
The Petitioner has prayed before this Hon’ble Court as Under:
  • That this Hon’ble Court be pleased to direct the Respondent Authorities herein liable to pay the Petitioner compensation of at least Rs 10 lakh.
  • That this Hon’ble Court be pleased to direct the Respondent authorities to pay the Petitioner the expenses of her medical expenses which she has incurred so far.
  • That this Hon’ble Court be pleased to direct the Respondent authorities to pay the Petitioner her future expenses of her medical treatment and corrective surgeries.
  • For an order and direction to the Respondent to adequately compensate the Petitioner/ Victim herein as quantified by this Hon’ble Court, for the loss and detriment suffered by her in view of the delay in payment of their due entitlements.

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SC asks states, UTs to reply on plea alleging violation of RTE

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The Petitioner has filed a Petition as public interest litigation under Article 32 directly in the Hon’ble Supreme Court as numerous reports have been released showing systematic and widespread violations of children’s fundamental Right to Education across the country, including violations of numerous specific requirements of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The Petition states that the lack of resources and failure to implement provisions of the RTE Act has resulted in a significant decline in education performance.
The petition seeks directions to the states and UTs to recruit and train one lakh additional professionally trained teachers to end the shortage of educators within a year.
The petition also asks for a further direction to the states and UTs to disclose the number of students admitted under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in the state in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
Based on the data collected from various reports, it is clear that the Right to Education is being violated across the country. These violations have persisted for years and remain today in face of the RTE Act's requirement that they be remedied within three years of it coming into force.
Therefore, the Petitioner has prayed before the Honorable Supreme Court for a Writ of Mandamus or other appropriate writ, order or direction to Respondents, directing that:
  • The 37.7M children out of school make the transition to RTE compliant schools, by construction of approximately 1,50,000 new schools or the expansion of existing schools, within 6 months of today; that all states complete the required neighbourhood mapping within 6 months of today; and that new schools are constructed within 6 months of the completion of these mappings such that all neighbourhoods have a primary school within 1 KM and an upper primary within 3 KM (as per RTE Model Rules Part IV Section 6); and that all single-classroom schools be upgraded to be in compliance with the RTE Act Schedule 2(i).
  • The States and Territories recruit and train 100,000 additional professionally trained teachers employed each month to enable the country to close the 1.2 M teacher shortage within 1 year from today; that additional full-time professionally trained teachers necessary to bring the Pupil-Teacher Ratios and the number of Head Teachers and Subject-Specific Teachers in compliance with the RTE Act Schedule 1; and to enable this, that the States and Territories upgrade existing and construct new public sector teacher training centres so as to ensure the availability of these required trained teachers.
  • The Panachayats and ULBs complete an identification and mapping of all school-age children in their areas , taking special care to include migrant, nomadic, displaced, Dalit, denotified tribe, and other marginalized communities and to ensure that all of them are in RTE compliant schools within 6 months of today;
  • The States and Union Territories upgrade all deficient schools  with the appropriate physical infrastructure so as to be in compliance with the RTE Act Schedule 2 within 6 months of today;
  • The States and Union Territories regularize and make permanent all contract- and para-teachers in the country;
  • The States and Union Territories ensure that teachers are not assigned to prohibited non-education duties, including mid-day meal preparation;
  • The States and Union Territories ensure that all schools have a properly constituted SMC with compositions in compliance with RTE Act Section 21(1).
  • The Central Government ensures that all schools run under the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) be brought in to compliance with the RTE Act, particularly with respect to physical infrastructure, teaching hours and professionally trained teachers.
  • The States and Union Territories to ensure that all private schools are registered with the government; to disclose the total number of students admitted under the EWS quota in the entire state in accordance with section 12 of the Act; and to ensure that, within 1 year of today, all the private schools in the state are in compliance with the Act.

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HRLN has filed a writ petition to provide free medical, surgical treatment and rehabilitation package to the acid attack Survivor

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The HRLN has filed a writ petition against the State of Haryana in the High Court of Chandigarh on behalf of the petitioner, a young woman of 30 years who suffered Acid Attack on 19.11.2009 at the age of 26 years since she refused to oblige sexually to her employer at Panipat, Haryana where she was working as a counsellor and was also pursuing her MBA in the same college. An FIR dated 20.11.2009 was registered at PS Panipat and she had to be an indoor patient at Indraprasth APOLLO Hospital’s, New Delhi from 20.11.2009 to 29.11.200.  She had to undergo 5-6 other surgeries at different times. She had already spent approximately Rs. 7.5 lac on her treatment and still approximately she needs more Rs. 13 lac which she does not have.
The petitioner who had lost her eye-sight and whose face also disfigured due to subjective and objective reasons had to exclude her from social interactions. She approached to Department of Women and Child Development for medical and other help which was declined by the said department on the plea that the scheme of the state is available only to the Acid Victims who had suffered acid attack after 02.05.2011.
The Petitioner has prayed before this Hon’ble Court, inter alia, as under:
To modify the policy dated 02.05.2011 subsequently amended vide dated 16.1.2014 qua the eligibility criteria being violative of Article 21 and 14 of the constitution of India and to set aside the order dated 29.8.2013, to provide free medical and surgical treatment to the acid attack victim, rehabilitation and compensation as per the policy issued by the state of Haryana and guidelines issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Laxmi vs UOI dated 18.7.2013, to reimburse the expenses which she had already incurred and during the pendency of the petition for directions either to release at least Rs. 5 lac to the petitioner directly or to give direction/instruction to the approved hospital i.e. IP Apollo at New Delhi to provide free treatment to the petitioner so that the petitioner’s treatment is not further delayed since the matter pertains to the right to life of the petitioner.

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SC commutes death sentences of 15 Convicts, due to delay in mercy plea decisions

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The Petitioner has filed a writ petitions, under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, which has been filed either by the convicts, who were awarded death sentence or by their family members or by public-spirited bodies like People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) based on the rejection of mercy petitions by the Governor and the President of India.
In all the writ petitions, the main prayer consistently relates to the issuance of a writ of declaration declaring that execution of sentence of death pursuant to the rejection of the mercy petitions by the President of India is unconstitutional and to set aside the death sentence imposed upon them by commuting the same to imprisonment for life. Further, it is also prayed for declaring the order passed by the Governor/President of India rejecting their respective mercy petitions as illegal and unenforceable.
The Honorable Supreme Court held that death sentence of a condemned prisoner can be commuted to life imprisonment on the ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding the mercy plea. In a landmark verdict that can come as a relief to many death row convicts.
Giving life term to 15 death row inmates, including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan, the apex court also ruled that a death convict suffering from mental insanity and schizophrenia cannot be hanged.
It overruled its own verdict in Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s case in which it had held that delay in deciding mercy plea cannot be a ground for commutation of death sentence.
The Court said Death sentence in such cases can be commuted to life imprisonment on the ground of their mental illness. The judgment may have implications in various cases, including the petitions filed by three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who have challenged the President’s rejection of their mercy plea less than three years ago. Framing guidelines on disposal of mercy petitions and execution of death sentence, a bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam ruled that convicts given death sentence must be informed about the rejection of their mercy pleas and should be given a chance to meet their family members before they are executed.
It also held that solitary confinement of a prisoner, including death row convict, is unconstitutional and it should not be allowed in the prisons. The bench gave its verdict on a batch of petitions filed by 15 death row inmates seeking its direction for commutation of their sentence to life term on the grounds of delay in deciding mercy plea and mental illness. It also said that execution of death sentence should be carried out only 14 days after rejection of the mercy plea. The apex court also said that the prison authorities must provide legal aid to prisoners facing death sentence so that they can approach courts for commutation of their sentence on the ground of their illness and delay in deciding mercy plea by the government.
Pronouncing its judgment on 13 petitions filed by the 15 convicts whose execution of sentence had been stayed by the apex court, the three-judge bench clarified that its directions be implemented in all cases whether a person has been convicted under IPC or the anti-terror law. The issue of communication of rejection of mercy plea assumes importance in view of the controversy surrounding the execution of Parliament attack case convict Mohd Afzal as there was allegation that his family members were not properly communicated about the dismissal of his plea and subsequent hanging.
Earlier, a two-judge bench in April 2013 had held that long delay in disposing of mercy pleas by the President or the governor of persons convicted under anti-terror laws or similar statutes cannot be a ground for commutation of death sentence. The April 12, 2013 ruling was pronounced while rejecting Bhullar’s plea for commutation of sentence on ground of delay in deciding his mercy plea. At that time, there were over 20 convicts facing execution.
Later on, an apex court bench had granted relief to a condemned prisoner M.N. Das who had sought conversion of his death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding his mercy petition. Justice Sathasivam, before taking over as CJI, had said that there was a need for “authoritative pronouncements” by a larger bench or a Constitution Bench on issues like mercy pleas to avoid conflicting views by smaller benches.
The 15 death row inmates on whose pleas the apex court delivered its verdict are sandalwood smuggler Veerappan’s aides and others. The other death row convicts included Suresh, Ramji, Gurmeet Singh, Praveen Kumar, Sonia and her husband Sanjeev, Sundar Singh and Jafar Ali convicted in various cases. While Suresh, Ramji, Gurmeet Singh and Jafar Ali are lodged in prisons in Uttar Pradesh, former Haryana MLA Ralu Ram Punia’s daughter Sonia and her husband Sanjeev are jailed in Haryana. Praveen is in a Karnataka jail and Sundar Singh is an inmate of a prison in Uttaranchal.Sonia and Sanjeev were awarded death penalty for killing eight members of her family, including her parents and three children of her brother in 2001.Gurmeet Singh was convicted for killing 13 of his family members in 1986. Jafar Ali murdered his wife and five daughters. Suresh and Ramji killed five of their relatives.

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SC reaffirms workers Right to Health and Medical care

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On a petition filed by HRLN on behalf of Occupational Health and Safety Association, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment that the right to health and medical care, while in service or post-retirement, is a fundamental right of a worker.  Right to health i.e. right to live in a clean, hygienic and safe environment is a right flowing from Article 21. 
Occupational Health and Safety Organization has filed a writ petition in Supreme Court seeking from court to issue direction directing to Government to make guidelines for safety of workers from occupational disease. The Petitioner represented about 130 Coal Fired Thermal Power Plants(CFTPPs) in India spread over different States in the country, but no proper occupational health services facility are in place.
Colin Gonsalves, senior counsel referring  to the above National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) report submitted that not much importance was given to the serious health problems being faced by the workers who are working in the thermal power plants and treatment they require as well as the payment of wages and compensation to those workers who were suffering from serious illness. He pointed out that some urgent steps should be taken to ensure the health and safety of the workers.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court Said that Right to health i.e. right to live in a clean, hygienic and safe environment is a right flowing from Article 21. Clean surroundings lead to healthy body and healthy mind. But, unfortunately, for eking a livelihood and for national interest, many employees work in dangerous, risky and unhygienic environment.
Right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy, particularly clauses (e) and (f) of Articles 39, 41 and 42. Those Articles include protection of health and strength of workers and just and humane conditions of work. Those are minimum requirements which must exist to enable a person to live with human dignity. Every State has an obligation and duty to provide at least the minimum condition ensuring human dignity. But when workers are engaged in such hazardous and risky jobs, then the responsibility and duty on the State is double-fold.
Occupational health and safety issues of CFTPPs are associated with thermal discharge, air and coal emission, fire hazards, explosion hazards etc. Dust emanates also contain free silica associated with silicosis, arsenic leading to skin and lung cancer, coal dust leading to black lung and the potential harmful substances. Necessity for constant supervision and to the drive to mitigate the harmful effects on the workers is of extreme importance.

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Apex court upholds Majithia Wage Board recommendations

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A Bench led by CJI P Sathasivam said the revised pay should be given to the employees with effect from November 11, 2011 when the Centre notified the recommendations of the Board.

The Supreme Court Friday ratified the constitution and recommendations of the Majithia Wage Board for journalists and non-journalists on their pay structure.

A Bench led by CJI P Sathasivam said the revised pay should be given to the employees with effect from November 11, 2011 when the Centre notified the recommendations of the Board. It said new pay structure would be given from April 2014 and the employer will have to pay arrears since 2011 within a year, in four equal installments.

“We hold that the recommendations are valid…we are fully satisfied that the procedure adopted by the Board is legitimate and no decision was taken unilaterally and arbitrarily,” said the Bench.

While upholding the validity of the Board, the court dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by various newspaper managements, challenging the validity of the Board’s constitution and recommendations.

The 6th (Majithia) Wage Board was constituted by the   Labour Ministry in 2007. It announced an ad hoc interim relief of 30 per cent of basic pay with effect from January 2008. This was implemented by the industry. The Board submitted its final recommendations on December 31, 2010, which were notified by the Centre with certain modifications, a year later.

Under the Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955, the Union government through the ministry of labour in November 2011 notified recommendations increasing the salaries paid to all staff.

The latest Majithia wage board recommended that salaries be increased, in some cases to 200% of prevailing levels, causing an uproar from publishers and prompting many newspaper firms to challenge the implementation of the wage board in the Supreme Court.

The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) welcomed the judgement. “It is a step in the right direction. We hope that the INS and all other news publications are helpful in implementing this judgement. We call for vigilance by all state unions for the same,” said S.K Pandey, general secretary of DUJ.

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Supreme Court says prospective parents, irrespective of religious background, have the right to adopt children

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HRLN welcomes the Supreme Court judgement on the Right to Adopt. In a notable judgement on the petition of the clients of Human Rights Law Network, 'Shabnam Hashmi vs the Union Of India', the Supreme Court has decreed that prospective parents irrespective of their religious background are free to adopt children after the prescribed procedure. The court in it's order said that 'personal beliefs and faiths, though must be honoured, cannot dictate the operation of the provisions of an enabling statute."

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