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SEBI Special Court convicted four directors of the Roofers Realty Limited for not complying with the summons issued by the investigating authority of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). SEBI had launched investigation into alleged illegal mobilization of funds from the public by Roofers Realty Limited. The investigating Authority appointed by the Board had summoned four directors of the company, viz., Mr. Sauravmoy Ghosh, Jayanti Sounth, Hirak Nath Sounth and Khudiram Sounth to appear before the Authority in relation to the aforesaid investigation. Despite receiving the summons, the directors did not appear before the investigating authority.

Therefore, SEBI launched prosecution proceedings against the aforesaid persons under Section 11C (6) of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992. The Special Court convicted the accused on the ground that the directors failed to appear before the investigating authority despite due receipt of the summons. The Court sentenced three directors, viz. Mr. Sauravmoy Ghosh, Jayanti Sounth and Hirak Nath Sounth to one year simple imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rupees Five Lakhs. The Court has also imposed a fine of Rs 2,50,000 on Mr Khudiram Sounth considering his old age.

PR No.: 18/2019

[Press Release dt. 26-07-2019]

Securities and Exchange Board of India

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Sudhir Bhargava, Chief Information Commissioner, directed the Registry of the Bench to issue a Show Cause Notice to the respondent to explain as to why action under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act should not be initiated against him.

The facts of the case are that the Commission directed DPS NALCO to provide a copy of the Record Retention Schedule as well as the order of the Competent Authority for the destruction of the attendance register for the year 1989-90, to the appellant within a period of four weeks from the date of the order, and grant one more opportunity to the appellant to inspect all the relevant records pertaining to the information sought in her RTI application on a mutually decided date and time as per the provisions of the RTI Act. The appellant again submitted an application alleging non-compliance of the directions of the Commission by the respondent. The respondents denied the same.

The Commission held that in the view of such evident contradiction in the submissions of the respondent, leading to non compliance of specific directions of the Commission and deliberate obstruction to the flow of information, a show cause notice is to be issued to the respondent for explaining as to why action under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act should not be initiated against him. [Puspalata Rout v. CPIO, 2019 SCC OnLine CIC 1, Order dated 07-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Bench Arindam Lodh, J. set aside petitioner’s suspension order in view of Rule 10(6) and (7) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965.

Petitioner, a State Veterinary Officer (TVS, Grade V) was placed under suspension by order dated 12-04-2018. The seminal issue to be determined in the present petition was whether the suspension order could be continued even if not reviewed before the expiry of 90 days from the effective date of suspension in view of the rules mentioned above?

A. Bhowmik, Advocate appearing for the petitioner prayed for setting aside of the suspension order passed by the Joint Secretary, Animal Resource and Development Department, Government of Tripura.

The High Court noted that Rule 10(6) and (7) obligates the appointing authority to constitute a committee review whether the extension of suspension order is necessary. in the present case, no review committee was formed even after expiry of 6 months after the expiry of 90 days. Relying on Union of India v. Dipak Mali, (2010) 2 SCC 222 the Court held that in such cases the suspension order lapses after the period of 90 days. Further, it was clarified that the matter has to be reviewed before the expiry of 90 days from the date of suspension. In such view of the matter, petitioner’s suspension order was set aside.[Ankur Debnath v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 19, decided on 08-01-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur, Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta, JJ. pronounced an order while imposing costs on various States with the primary concern regarding “Mid-Day Meal” Scheme.

The present order specifies the allegations submitted by the petitioner, stating that the food-grains have been disappearing and not reaching the schools and thereby the benefit of Mid-Day Meal Scheme is being denied to children.

For the above-stated allegation, the Court with disappointment stated that States have been asked to render assistance and to upload all the data so that necessary corrective steps can be taken from time to time and even after various orders in that regard, no co-operation has been seen from the States.

Further, the Bench stated that, on 26-10-2018, it was submitted by the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha that they would comply with the requirements of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, but the Court stated that a month has passed and there has been absolutely no progress by the States, which leaves no option other than imposing costs of Rs 1,00,000 and a direction being given to deposit the amount with Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.

The Court lastly, stated that NCT of Delhi had no representative on the last day of the hearing, and for the present hearing the appearance of the representative serves no purpose as no information is available, therefore, the costs of Rs 2,00,000 are imposed.

The present matter has been asked to be listed after 4 weeks. [Antarrashtriya Manav Adhikaar Nigraani Parishad v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2677, Order dated 04-12-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench comprising of S.P. Wangdi (JM), K. Ramakrishnan (JM) and Dr Nagin Nanda (EM) imposed Rs 5 Crores as interim environmental compensation on State of West Bengal following the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’ due to the adverse air quality.

The present order was followed to be read out due to the alarming adverse air quality of the Kolkata city. Principal reason for bad ambient and air quality was identified to be auto emission apart from road dust, construction activities, burning of municipal waste and industrial wastes including plastics, population of DG sets and industrial emissions. For the stated issue, State had failed to take any effective measures.

NGT was compelled to pass the present order, as specific directions had been issued for phasing out vehicles which were more than 15 years old, further it was also observed by the Tribunal that the judgment passed by the Tribunal for the issue of air pollution was far from being complied. NGT had also directed the State respondents to introduce some mechanism in order to check the emissions of moving overloaded vehicles. All commercial transport vehicles were asked to be converted to CNG.

In spite of more than 7 months having being elapsed, no tangible action was taken by the State and placed before the Tribunal and State Pollution Control Board had remained blissfully silent. Reliance was placed on M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2004) 12 SCC 118, in which it was stated that “If the regulatory authorities either connive or act negligently by not taking prompt action to prevent, avoid or control damage to environment, natural resources, people’s health and property, the principle of accountability for restoration and compensation have to be applied.”

Thus, State of West Bengal was directed to pay compensation of Rs 5 Crores and on delay, Rs 1 Crore per month by following the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’ in terms of Section 20 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The matter is further listed for 08-01-2019. [Subhas Datta v. State of West Bengal,2018 SCC OnLine NGT 345, Order dated 27-11-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): The Bench comprising of Mr. Radha Krishna Mathur (Chief Information Commissioner), while hearing the second appeal with respect to an RTI applicant’s Bar enrollment request, imposed a penalty of Rs 5000 on Bar Council of Delhi for non-compliance of its orders.

The appellant – Shashi – had filed RTI application on 02-01-2017 seeking information as to whether the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) had received her request application submitted in December 2016; and seeking documents such as letters communicated and decision taken with respect to her request application, current status of her application; copy of resolutions and file notings in respect of fixation of fees for enrolment under different categories, etc. The instant second appeal is the result of no response being received by the appellant. Along with the grievance of receiving no reply, the appellant also pleaded that the BCD did not contain basic information/link pertaining to Right to Information.

Vide interim order dated 13-04-2018, CIC had ordered BCD to give a reply to the appellant within 15 days and directed CPIO to submit a report regarding non-compliance of suo-moto disclosure on BCD website as per Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005. On the next date of hearing, it was noted that the Commission’s order had not been complied with despite ample opportunity being given for the same.

It was observed that the CPIO, BCD was repeatedly making excuses for delay in giving information and he had also absented himself on multiple occasions from the hearings without affording any explanation for the same. The Commissioner observed that such lack of responsibility on the part of CPIO, BCD reflected his utter disregard for law. It was, therefore, concluded that the present case warranted the imposition of a penalty of Rs. 5000 on the CPIO, BCD for non-compliance of CIC’s order within the timeline prescribed under RTI Act. As the appellant had not explained any loss/ detriment suffered by her due to non-supply of information, therefore no compensation was awarded to her.[Shashi v. CPIO, BCD, Second Appeal No.CIC/MOLAJ/A/2017/140993 , decided on 09-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ajay Rastogi, CJ and Arindam Lodh, JJ. dismissed an intra court appeal filed against the order of learned Single Judge directing the appellant-Corporation to consider the appointment of Respondent 1 in accordance with the ‘die-in-harness’ scheme.

Husband of Respondent 1 was in service of the appellant at the time of his death. Respondent 1 filed a petition for the appointment on compassionate grounds under the die-in-harness scheme. She prayed to an appointment for either of her two children and if none of them were found eligible then in the alternative, she prayed appointment for herself. Learned Single Judge allowed her petition and directed the appellant to consider her appointment, under the scheme, considering her qualification. The appellant preferred an appeal against the order of the learned Single Judge without compliance with the above-stated direction.

While dismissing the appeal preferred by the appellant-Corporation, the High Court observed that the non-compliance of the direction passed by the learned Single Judge could not be justified. The Court further observed it to be a sorry state of affairs that the Corporation on filing writ appeal against the impugned judgment, without having any interim order, has not responded to the decision. The High Court categorically held that mere filing of an appeal along with the application for stay of the order of the learned Single Judge impugned in the writ appeal will not give an exclusive right to the appellant to sit over the order. Holding thus, and considering merits of the case, the appeal was dismissed with costs amounting to Rs. 25,000. [Tripura State Electricity Corpn. Ltd.  v. Madhabhi Debnath,  2018 SCC OnLine Tri 117, dated 20-6-2018]