Posts tagged ‘Supreme Court’


China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters

China’s top court set a five-year deadline on Thursday for legal reforms to protect the rights of individuals, prevent miscarriages of justice and make its judiciary more professional as the ruling Communist Party seeks to quell public discontent.

Zhou Qiang, President of China's Supreme People's Court, attends National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A statement on the Supreme Court’s website promised specific deadlines for each goal, including support for a “social atmosphere of justice” by 2018.

It gave more details of a decision reached at a four-day meeting last year, when the party pledged to speed up legislation to fight corruption and make it tougher for officials to exert control over the judiciary.

Despite the legal reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s administration has shown no interest in political change and has detained dozens of dissidents, including lawyers.

China’s top court stressed that one of the five basic principles of legal reform was adhering to the party’s leadership and “ensuring the correct political orientation”.

He Xiaorong, the director of the Supreme People’s Court‘s reform division, said the court “would make officials bear responsibility for dereliction of duty” for cases that have a wide impact.

“Only through the establishment of such a system can we ensure that we can guarantee social fairness and justice in every case,” He told a news conference, according to a transcript on the court’s website.

The measures reflect worries about rising social unrest. Anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution – issues often left unresolved by courts – have resulted in violence between police and residents in recent years, threatening social order.

via China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters.


India’s Courts Resist Reform; Backlog at 31.4 Million Cases – Businessweek

Puneet Mittal, trim and sharply dressed, walks into the lobby of his law office in affluent South Delhi, a smartphone pressed to his ear. He turns to a recently hired associate, Bhavesh Verma. “We’re leaving at 9:30. And I don’t want to waste time.” But through no fault of his own, that’s just what Mittal’s going to do.

India’s Supreme Court

He is making his daily plunge into India’s court system, a maze of delays and procedures that puts even the most basic justice out of reach for millions. At the end of 2013, there were 31,367,915 open cases working their way through the system, from the lowest chambers to the Supreme Court. If the nation’s judges attacked their backlog nonstop—with no breaks for eating or sleeping—and closed 100 cases every hour, it would take more than 35 years to catch up, according to Bloomberg Businessweek calculations. India had only 15.5 judges for every million people in 2013, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the time. The U.S. has more than 100 judges for every million.

Beneath a top layer of established attorneys such as Mittal, the courts are plagued by “goondas in black,” a phrase that pairs the Hindi word for “goons” with a sly reference to the black suit jackets lawyers wear in court. To keep collecting fees, these lawyers demand one hearing after another, with no intention of seeking a resolution for their clients, says Alok Prasanna Kumar, senior resident fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, which advocates for a more efficient system. Or, he says, they resort to extortion to make up for a lack of income. A “significant number” of the lawyers, especially outside the capital, have practices that don’t sustain them. That leads them to clog the system with pointless litigation: “The bar in India is in a very bad shape,” Kumar says.

In 2013 there were 31,367,915 open cases in India, from the lowest courts to the Supreme Court

Even the best attorneys can have low-stakes lawsuits last a decade or more. New Delhi lawyer Murari Tiwari describes one 20-year property dispute: His original client has died, as has one of his sons. While the case crawls through the courts, Tiwari says, the two families in litigation, one including an auto-rickshaw driver and the other a retired policeman, live on opposite sides of the same building in an icy détente.

via India’s Courts Resist Reform; Backlog at 31.4 Million Cases – Businessweek.


Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek

India’s Supreme Court said Monday that all government allocations of coal reserves to private companies from 1993 to 2010 were conducted illegally, and it will hold a hearing to decide whether to cancel them.

More than 200 coal blocks, or areas of unmined reserves, were allocated during that period to companies for their use in power plants or steel or cement factories. The companies were allowed to sell excess coal on the open market, but the court said commercial sales from the reserves must be suspended until it makes its decision at a hearing on Sept. 1.

The court’s ruling extends beyond the initial case — dubbed “Coalgate” by the Indian media — in which the previous Congress party-led government was accused of costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars by selling or allocating about 155 coal blocks in 2004-09 without competitive bidding. A report by the country’s Comptroller and Auditor General leaked to the media in March 2012 estimated those losses to have been around $210 billion.

The scandal along with other high-profile cases of alleged corruption were seen as a key reason for the Congress party’s loss in this year’s elections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party.

The court said in its ruling Monday that between 1993 and 2010 there had been “no fair and transparent procedure” in the coal allocation process, “resulting in unfair distribution of the national wealth.”

“Common good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily,” said the court, led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha.

via Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek.


China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters

China’s supreme court has appointed a senior judge to handle environmental cases as the environmentally challenged country bids to get tough on polluters and improve the way its laws are enforced, an official newspaper said on Monday.

China Environmental News, published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.

The tribunal was formally established just two weeks ago.

Beijing, hit by a series of pollution scares and scandals, has vowed to reverse some of the damage done by three decades of untrammeled economic growth, but it has traditionally struggled to impose its will on big industrial enterprises and the local governments that protect them.

The report said the new state tribunal would give “unified guidance and coordination” to the 134 specialist environmental courts that have been set up by local governments, noting that the procedures used to handle such cases was “very informal”.

Litigators have long complained that lawsuits launched against polluters have been routinely rejected or even ignored by local courts, many of which lack the capacity and the independence to take on powerful government-backed firms.

China has promised to create legal channels allowing members of the public to take action against firms that break the law, but environmental officials say they lack resources and are already overwhelmed by the number of cases.


Earlier this year, China passed amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving local governments greater powers to fine, shut down and even imprison violators.

via China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters.


China’s Supreme Court overturns death sentences for two men who raped 11-year-old girl | South China Morning Post

The Supreme People’s Court has overturned the death sentences given to two men convicted of raping and forcing an 11-year-old girl to work in a brothel.


The court said the high-profile case, which has received national media attention, would be retried.

Tang Hui, the victim’s mother, has campaigned for years believing death sentences should be handed out to all people who were guilty in her daughter’s case.

She has also petitioned local governments to punish officials who she said had been bribed by prostitution gangs to protect their operations.

“The ruling has dealt a heavy blow to us,” Tang told the South China Morning Post yesterday.

“My family just tries to live a normal life. As the case reopens, we’ll experience all the nightmares again. I’m especially worried about my daughter.”

Tang’s daughter has contracted herpes, an incurable sexually transmitted disease, and psychological trauma after she was raped and forced to work as a prostitute at the age 11 for two months in a brothel in Yongzhou in Hunan province in 2006.

Her daughter’s two main kidnappers were sentenced to death in June 2012, four accomplices received life sentences and one was jailed for 15 years.

A representative from the Supreme People’s Court said in an interview with the People’s Daily that the death sentences had been overturned because the crimes were not serious enough to warrant capital punishment.

“The circumstances of the crime had not reached the degree of being extremely serious,” the spokesman said.

Forcing a large number of victims into prostitution, or performing torture on victims that resulted in death or permanent injury might have warranted the death sentence, the official added.

Lu Miaoqing , a lawyer in Guangzhou, said the Supreme People’s Court ruling was understandable as judges tended to avoid capital punishment unless a crime had caused deaths.

via China’s Supreme Court overturns death sentences for two men who raped 11-year-old girl | South China Morning Post.


Japan’s Mitsui pays China to release seized ship-court | Reuters

Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd paid about $29 million for the release of a ship seized by China over a dispute that dates back to the 1930s war between the countries, China’s Supreme Court said on Thursday.

The Baosteel Emotion, a 226,434 deadweight-ton ore carrier owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, is docked at the port of Maji Island, south of Shanghai April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Chinese government has described the case as a simple business dispute unrelated to wartime compensation claims, but it has become a cause célèbre for activists in China seeking redress from Japan.

Mitsui paid about 2.92 billion yen ($28.5 million) in leasing fees, including interest and damages, China’s Supreme Court said in a statement on its official microblog. Mitsui also paid 2.4 million yuan ($385,000) in legal fees, the court said.

via Japan’s Mitsui pays China to release seized ship-court | Reuters.

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India Among the Worst for Press Freedom – India Real Time – WSJ

The world’s largest democracy remains one of the most restrictive places for the press.

In a report published Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based think tank, ranked India 140th out of 180 countries surveyed for the free speech it affords the media. This was a one-point jump from the country’s 2013 ranking, when it recorded its steepest fall on the annual-list since 2002.

On Monday, acting on an agreement chalked out by a Delhi court, one of India’s largest publishing houses withdrew a 2009 book that reinterprets Hinduism, the latest instance of a book being removed from circulation in the country.

The authors of Wednesday’s report singled out the insurgency in the disputed territory of Kashmir, where channels of communications, including telephone lines, satellite televisions and the Internet, are routinely suspended in response to unrest, as well as the killings of eight journalists in 2013, for India’s lowly press freedom ranking.  The killings included those of Jitendra Singh, a freelancer in the eastern state of Jharkhand, who documented Maoist activists in the state, and that of Rakesh Sharma, a Hindi newspaper reporter who was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, in August.

The People’s Liberation Front of India, a naxalite group, claimed responsibility for Mr. Singh’s death in April. A probe into the shooting of Mr. Sharma is ongoing.

“Those responsible for threats and physical violence against journalists, who are often abandoned by the judicial system and forced to censor themselves, include police and security forces as well as criminal groups, demonstrators and political party supporters,” the think tank said in the report.

The Indian government has also been under fire in recent years for its clampdown on social media.

India’s Supreme Court for instance is currently hearing a defamation suit against tech giants Google and Facebook, a case that’s been pending before courts since 2011. And in 2012, the government sought to block Twitter accounts of some prominent journalists and news organizations, arguing the content was stoking communal tensions. The same year, a Mumbai court charged cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, who likened the national Parliament to a toilet on his website, with sedition, a charge that was later dropped. These, among other reasons, led to India slipping nine places to 140th in Reporters Without Borders’s 2013 press ranking, which surveyed 179 countries.

via India Among the Worst for Press Freedom – India Real Time – WSJ.

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* Maoists changing policies, feels villagers – The Hindu

Oyami Podiyami, the Special Police Officer (SPO) turned constable, has a new problem, since his release earlier this week by the Maoists. After spending two months in Maoist custody, while being handed over to his friends – the villagers of Pinnabheji in Sukma district – Mr Podiyami was told to stay in his village. “In case I step out, the entire village will follow me,” said Mr Podiyami. In fact if the 36 year old constable runs away or ever again join the police, the villagers will be questioned by the rebels, which everyone wants to avoid. Hence, half of the village of about 500 Muria Gond tribals, follow Mr Podiyami wherever he goes, even to his soirees.

Oyami Podiyami in his village, among villagers. Photo: Suvojit Bagchi

Oyami Podiyami and his former colleague, Barse Ganga, were kidnapped in November. They were made to walk several hundred kilometers through forests, as is the routine in any Maoist squad, till they were released. The release has surprised Mr Podiyami.

Mr Podiyami, who was later promoted as a constable, soon after Supreme Court disbanded SPOs in 2011, joined the Surya Group about six years back. He accepts that he was one of the top fighters and /perhaps/ killed many. “I did several encounters in Golapalli and Kistaram area in extreme south and fired upon Maoists…however, I am not sure if I hit anyone,” said Mr Podiyami. While in custody, Mr Podiyami explained his role as a policeman to the Maoists and confessed that he did “vandalize villages but never raped any woman.” Reaction of the rebels, however, surprised him.

“They interrogated me for several days and then came the shocker. They said, ‘…we changed our policy of killing villagers. We will release you, but after certain conditions are fulfilled’,” said Mr Podiyami. The conditions were explained to the villagers, when nearly 100 local residents met the Maoists, said Podiyami’s brother in law, Poddi, “We were asked to ensure that he never steps out of his village and if he does, then the entire hamlet should follow him…we did,” said Mr Poddi. He hopes rules will be relaxed after few years. “They were also told never to join the police, which also we guaranteed,” he said.

“The party has realized that killing, especially locals, is not helping anymore. We said that killing of constables or informers will not help (Maoists) as people are getting alienated,” said the Sarpanch, who is particularly close to the rebels in his area. He has witnessed such policy changes “several times” in last four decades, he claimed.

“May be it is a good time to initiate a talk (by the government) with the rebels, as they are changing their policies,” said the Sarpanch, while preparing his favourite brown rooster for another round of bloody fight in the weekly market.

via Maoists changing policies, feels villagers – The Hindu.

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India Supreme Court orders investigation after tribal rape outcry | Reuters

India\’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered an investigation into the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman from an eastern tribal region by 13 men on the orders of a village court, a case that has sparked protests demanding swift justice.

Indian police personnel escort men (tied with rope), who are accused of a gang-rape, to a court at Birbhum district in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

The woman, who is recovering in hospital, told police she was assaulted by the men on Monday night in the Birbhum district of West Bengal as punishment for violating rules of her tribe by having a relationship with a man from a different community.

The ruling by India\’s top court underscores the sensitivity of sexual violence issues following the fatal gang rape of a physiotherapist on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012 – an attack that sparked nationwide demonstrations and political uproar.

In the West Bengal case, police said that the woman\’s male companion was tied up in the village square, while the assault on the woman happened in a mud house. The man has now gone missing from the village, relatives say.

via India Supreme Court orders investigation after tribal rape outcry | Reuters.

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‘Caged parrot’ hopes to get wings in New Year – The Hindu

The probe into coal block allocation scam, which got CBI the sobriquet of “caged parrot” from the Supreme Court and saw the exit of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar over his alleged interference, marked the agency’s functioning during a tumultuous year for it.

A view of CBI headquarters in New Delhi. File photo: Sandeep Saxena

The passage of the Lokpal Bill by Parliament this year is likely to bring a major change in the working of CBI since the Supreme Court order in the Vineet Narain case in 1997 which had brought in the supervision of Central Vigilance Commission and gave CBI chief a fixed tenure of two years aimed at freeing the agency from the clutches of bureaucracy.

The angry comments of the apex court not only claimed the ministerial scalp of Mr. Kumar but also set in motion the modalities for the autonomy of the agency, which according to Supreme Court, has become “voice of its political masters”.

The battered government scrambled its best brains in the Cabinet to constitute a group of ministers, which met a number of times, and came up with suggestions to give only “functional autonomy” to the agency.

The financial powers of the CBI Director were given a significant boost but Centre did not agree to give him rank and powers on par with the Secretary of the government of India.

The proposed Lokpal will have powers to refer cases to CBI and keep an eye on the ongoing probe. It will also have powers to transfer officers who will be probing cases referred by it.

via ‘Caged parrot’ hopes to get wings in New Year – The Hindu.

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