Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Expressing that, State of Punjab which was known as one of the prosperous States is now at the brink of drug-trafficking, Harnaresh Singh Gill, J., held that in order to curb the menace of drug trafficking the accused person are to be dealt with stringently even at the stage of granting her/him bail in NDPS Act cases involving commercial quantity.

Petitioner sought bail in a case registered under Sections 21 and 29 of the NDPS Act, 1985. The prosecution case was that 19000 intoxicating capsules ‘RIDLEY’ were recovered from the petitioner and the co-accused.

High Court stated the recovery effected in the present matter fell under the commercial quantity.

Section 37 of the NDPS Act barred the grant of bail to the accused in cases involving commercial quantity.

Another point the Court noted was that the petitioner was also involved in another case of similar nature, which had shown his tendency of committing repeated offence (s) of similar nature.

Bench denied concession of regular bail to the petitioner. [Harbhajan Singh v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 526, decided on 14-2-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Ritesh Pandey, Advocate, for the petitioner.

Mr. Davinder Bir Singh, DAG, Punjab.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Anil Kshetarpal, J., expressed concern over lethargic attitude of the State towards granting pensionary benefits to the petitioner, the Court stated, “This court is sad to observe that the officials have lost all the compassion.”

 The petitioner lost her son on 26-11-2016, who, at the time of his death was working as Rural Medical Officer with the State of Punjab. The widow and children of the deceased shifted to Canada and they had already submitted an affidavit giving ‘No Objection’ to the authorities to release of pensionary benefits exclusively to the petitioner, who was mother of the deceased. The instant petition had been filed for issuance of a writ of mandamus to direct the official respondents to release pensionary and other service benefits exclusively to the petitioner. It was submitted that the amount of gratuity with regard to the deceased had also not been released.

Counsel for the respondent, Ambika Bedi, argued that the widow of the deceased was required to sign the necessary papers only then the pensionary and other pending benefits could be released, since the widow did not contact the respondent with necessary papers, the department did not release the amount. It was further pointed out by the respondent that approximately a sum of 3,08,000 rupees had been released to the petitioner towards arrears of medical reimbursement, salary, leave encashment and ex-gratia. Also, the process for releasing the payment on account of Contributory Provident Fund and Family Pension and whatever amount was legally due to the petitioner had already been initiated and the same would be completed within one month.

The Court directed the respondent to address the grievances of the petitioner expeditiously. While expressing concerns over unjustified delay in the grant of pensionary benefits to the petitioner the Court said, “It is unfortunate that the dependents/heirs of an Ex-employee, who died in harness, are being made to run from pillar to post. It is, thus, apparent that the State of Punjab has to put its house in order lest the Court compelled to take a serious view of the matter. It is hoped that this order would serve as a wake up call for the officers.” [Balbir Kaur v. State of Punjab, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 2263, decided on 21-12-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal: The NGT bench comprising of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), S.P. Wangdi (Judicial Member) and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) on the “polluter pays” principle directed the State to pay a sum of 50 crore for the damage caused to river Sutlej and Beas.

The issue was regarding the pollution of rivers Sutlej and Beas on account of discharge of untreated pollutants which on testing were found that total dissolved solids, accumulation of chromium, nickel, zinc and pesticides were high in the chitti bein and toxic metals were found in the soil samples irrigated by Bein. It was to be noted that around 1332 hazardous waste generating industries and 17 highly polluting ones were polluting parts of Rajasthan apart from Ludhiana and Jalandhar. Additionally, 35 municipal councils were discharging sewage into the said rivers.

Therefore a monitoring committee was directed to look into the matter and frame an action plan. It was contended that the Punjab Pollution Control Board and the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) failed to maintain the water quality of the laid down standards. The Committee stated the defects which were:

  • Lack of sewage system.
  • Solid waste dumped on open site and caused choking of the flow of water bodies.
  • Non-availability of STPs and lack of appropriate technology and capacity.
  • STPs were under different authority thereby causing the mixing up of sewage with the domestic waste.
  • Lack of waste water treatment and skilled man power.
  • Non-sustainable approach in designing of sewage management projects.

Accordingly, the Tribunal on “Polluter Pays” principle directed the respondents to deposit a sum of Rs 50 crores for the restoration of the environment as well for relief to the victims and prepare an appropriate action plan so that the quality of the water was brought back as per the prescribed standards. [Sobha Singh v. State of Punjab, 2018 SCC OnLine NGT 346, order dated 14-11-2018]