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Three years on, lifer who jumped parole found with new name

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 28 Februari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A murder convict, serving life term in a Nashik jail, jumped parole and went into hiding. His Kalbadevi-based family said he was HIV positive and had died. This excuse could not satisfy the Mumbai police, who finally traced the accused to aSatara jail where he was an undertrial with a new identity.

The Azad Maidan police on Wednesday took the custody of Chandar Naikar (39) and are interrogating him. Naikar is involved in eight criminal cases, including theft, robbery, assault and murder. Sub-inspector Sharad Kumbhar from the Azad Maidan police said, "Naikar was sentenced to life term in 2009 for a 2008 murder. He was detected as HIV positive. After conviction , he was sent to the Nashik central jail. In December 2010, he was released for 14 days on parole. But he did not get back to jail. Jail officials registered a case of escaping from custody with the Azad Maidan police."

"We visited his family but could not get information about him. Last year, his mother said he was suffering from HIV and died subsequently. When we asked them to furnish the death certificate, the family said they would get it and come to the police station," added Kumbhar.

A police team visited his hometown in Karnataka in October. But they returned emptyhanded. In January, cops learned that an aide of Naikar, Manik Kasbe, was arrested by the Karad police in a robbery case. Inspectors Haridas Kumbhar and Sharad Kumbhar left for Satara prison and found that Kasbe was arrested in the case with seven others. When cops checked the file of the arrested men, they found a photo of Naikar. But the jail authorities said the man's name was Ganesh Kaundar. "Naikar had changed his identity and destroyed all evidence of him being alive. But he couldn't hide two scars on his face," said senior inspector Narendera Singh. Kaundar later admitted he was Naikar. —Mateen Hafeez

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Only girl can decide nature of touch: HC

MUMBAI: The intention of an accused in a sexual assault case could be gauged only after hearing the victim's version, said the Bombay high court, declining relief to the owner of a popular chain of coaching classes in the city.

A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya was on Thursday hearing a petition by Machindra Chate of Chate Coaching Classes, urging the court to quash an FIR lodged against him by a student. A chargesheet has also been filed under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC.

The incident took place on January 30, 2013, when HSC students and their parents met him at his Dadar office to complain about the teaching at his classes. According to the complaint, when a student asked him to take responsibility, he allegedly abused her and pushed her away in "such a way that made her feel ashamed".

Chate's advocate K Holambe-Patil argued that the parents had assaulted him following which, he lodged a complaint; it was at that time that Chate learnt that a student had also lodged an FIR against him.

"It was a scuffle, where was the intent to molest her?" Holambe-Patil said. But refusing to be convinced, the judges questioned how the HC could give a verdict that there was no intention to outrage the student's modesty.

"Even if you keep your hand on the shoulder of a woman, it is for the lady to comment on the nature of the touch, whether it was friendly, brotherly or fatherly," said Justice Patil.

The judges also referred to the Rupan Deol Bajaj vs KPS Gill case where the IPS officer was in trouble for his "pat on Bajaj's back". "To say there was no intention is not possible. Her deposition is required. If the girl says there was a misunderstanding, then the situation would be entirely different. Let the girl say why she felt shameful of the act," said Justice Patil.

The judges pointed out that even with the law being amended there was a debate over the recording of a victim's statements as minute details were asked. "That is the reason why victims in many incidents refuse to come forward," said Justice Patil. Indicating that they would reject Chate's plea, the judges said he could file an application for getting discharged in the case before the trial court.

Holambe-Patil said its hearing might take time and that since Chate would be "contesting the elections, his opponents would use this case for adverse campaigning". But he agreed to withdraw the petition with the judges directing the lower court to expeditiously hear his discharge plea.

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HC speeds up trial in Raheja family row

MUMBAI: The Bombay HC on Thursday framed two preliminary issues to be decided first in a suit filed by real estate magnate G L Raheja against his only son. The suit filed by the senior Raheja, over 80 years old, accuses his son Sandeep of trying to "usurp" control of the Rs 11,000 crore real estate family firm.

Justice Gautam Patel said the first issue would be to decide if the suit was filed within the period of limitation, which is three years. The second issue is whether transfer of shares is hit by provisions of the Benami Transactions (prohibition) Act. The reason was because the father said he had given in 2005-06 his 44-year-old son control of 58% shares of the company to get majority control with the understanding that he would continue to remain in "ultimate control" of the company.

The father said the row arose in 2012 when his son disputed the "family arrangement". Sandeep denied existence of any such family arrangement and said he was legitimately 58% shareholder of the entire G L Raheja empire. He also said the transfer of shares was all legal and valid with several dating to the early 1990s. The HC—after being told that the senior Raheja was "old and suffering from serious ailment"—decided to accelerate the trial on the preliminary points and fixed the next date on March 20.—Swati Deshpande

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Bombay HC: Can a woman molest another?

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday questioned if a woman can be accused of outraging the modesty of another woman and sought the legal provisions for it.

A division bench of justices Naresh Patil and V L Achliya was hearing a petition by a family of six from Borivli, including 78-year-old matriarch Sarlaben Shah, seeking to quash an FIR filed against them by their neighbour Preeta Jain (55).

It started with a dispute over grilles that the Shahs fitted outside their ground-floor flat, which was opposed by their neighbours, including the Jain family. During an argument, Sarlaben's granddaughter was allegedly assaulted and manhandled. On October 23, 2009, she lodged a complaint of molestation against Jain's son and husband, and an FIR was registered.

A few months later, on February 27, 2010, the Jains also got an FIR registered against the Shahs and the charges included molestation.

In the court, Shah's advocate Pradeep Havnur questioned how two FIRs could be registered for the same episode. "It is absurd that a 78-year-old woman can be accused of molesting another woman," he said.

At that, the judges questioned if a woman could indeed molest another woman and what was the legal position. "This is a serious question," said Justice Patil. "Can a woman molest another woman? Even scientifically? Because there are the allegations. Go through the law. If a woman does commit such an act, can she be tried under the available law for molesting a woman?"

On going through the IPC's Section 354, the judges noted that while the section began with the word "whoever", it later went on to refer to the accused as "he" and the victim as "she". "Can a woman be accused of outraging the modesty of another woman under Section 354? Get the legal position," Justice Patil told Havnur.

The judges said even the amended Section 354A referred to an act committed by a man on a woman.

They later said housing societies must intervene and sort out such problems, instead of the parties filing cross-complaints and coming to the court.

(Names of disputing parties changed)

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'Bad Man' Gulshan Grover urges forest minister to free elephant Sunder

MUMBAI: On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, actor Gulshan Grover has sent an urgent letter to Maharashtra forest minister Patangrao Kadam, urging him to help ensure that the 14-year-old elephant Sunder is sent to a sanctuary. He has also posed with a sign reading, "Gulshan Grover Wants Sunder to Be Free".

The letter was sent in advance of the next high court of Bombay hearing, scheduled for March 3, for a case in which PETA is seeking Sunder's release. MLA Vinay Kore donated Sunder to the Jyotiba temple in 2007, and the elephant has been kept chained and inside dark sheds for most of that time. PETA has obtained video footage showing that his mahout violently beat him with a pole near a poultry shed where he has been chained at the behest of Kore. In August 2012, Kadam's office issued an order for Sunder's release, but it has yet to be implemented. In December 2013, the high court of Bombay also ordered Sunder's transfer to a sanctuary, but he has yet to be released.

"Unfortunately, despite orders from your good office, as well as from the high court of Bombay, for Sunder's release, he is still being held fast in iron shackles, living in mortal fear of the very same mahout who was seen on video beating him without mercy,'' Grover writes. "I may have played a bad man in films, but we are dealing with a real-life 'bad man' situation here that cries out for justice," he adds.

The Maharashtra state government informed the high court of Bombay that its efforts to relocate Sunder to a sanctuary failed because he is in musth (a period of sexual urge in male elephants), which is, according to officials, making him aggressive. However, a report from Dr TS Rajeev with the Centre for Elephant Studies at the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Mannuthy and Dr Sasindra Dev, Forest Veterinary Officer, Konni - two independent elephant experts from Kerala who examined Sunder and were authorized by the Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body operating under the ministry of environment and forests, to do so - states that Sunder is not in musth and is "generally apathetic", not aggressive, in nature. The experts' report also reveals that he is suffering both physically and mentally.

This isn't the first time that Grover, who recently starred with Sonakshi Sinha and Saif Ali Khan in Bullett Raja, has teamed up with PETA to help animals. In 2007, he appeared in a print ad to encourage the adoption of homeless dogs. He also appeared in a print ad alongside the wordsv"Stop the Real Villains" and starred in a video - both aimed at fighting cruelty to animals who are transported to slaughterhouses for the leather industry.

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Regularisation of slums — a ploy to fool slum voters?

MUMBAI: The state government's decision to extend the cut-off date to protect shanties (from 1995 to 2000) is a cynical ploy to fool slum voters and perpetrate a scam that has largely favoured private developers.

The problem of housing has assumed alarming proportions in Mumbai. While on the one hand slums are rapidly proliferating, on the other old buildings are being pulled down by builders to put up skyscrapers. More than half the population of the city live in slums, while the middle class struggles to find a decent roof over its head. The ruling Congress-NCP alliance as well as the opposition BJP-Sena combine is responsible for this appalling situation.

For the past four decades, successive governments have been shamelessly extending the cut-off dates for slums, thereby encouraging encroachers to squat on public land. The first cut-off was in 1976, which was then stretched to 1985. When the Sena-BJP came to power, it legalised all slums that came up prior to January 1, 1995. In a further mockery, the present Democratic Front alliance, this week, extended this protection till 2000.

It was in 1996 that the then Sena-BJP government headed by Manohar Joshi, a builder himself, introduced the slum rehabilitation scheme. In later years, it would turn out to be the biggest scam involving mostly shady developers, slum lords, politicians, and sometimes, even the underworld.

Slum families were guaranteed free flats under the scheme. The selected developer would then receive a bonanza in the form of additional construction rights to build luxury towers on a portion of the slum land.

The entire exercise was flawed from the very first day. The formation of the Afzulpurkar committee in 1995 itself was faulty as it comprised builders and only one NGO representative was there. No slum dweller was involved in the decision-making. This was the beginning of the tragic circumstances into which the slum dwellers have been pushed today.

In 2001, the government-appointed S.S. Tinaikar committee was scathing in its observation on the slum policy, "The government has inflicted a highly iniquitous social policy, which is oriented to confer special favour of a 225 sq ft apartment on those who have encroached and squatted on public lands,'' it said.

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Power shift: Consume less, shift from Reliance to Tata

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 27 Februari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Congress MP and member of the party's working committee Gurudas Kamat has congratulated chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for accepting his demand to consumers who do not exceed 300 units of power consumption to shift from Reliance energy to Tata Power.

Kamat in a letter to the chief minister as well as the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission had pointed out that the Electricity Act, 2003, permitted consumers to select the electricity provider giving better services or rates. He had also raised the issue at a meeting of Member of Parliament with the chief minister, said a press release.

"The Tata Electric Company rates are nearly Rs 2 per unit less than the other company in the market upto a consumption of 300 units. Consumers who consume less than 300 units should be allowed to shift to Tata Electric Company. The Tata's may be directed to provide service to people wanting a change," he said.

This shift would benefit at least 20 lakh people, he said.

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Battery pit leak led to smoke in sub?

Mumbai/NEW DELHI: The mid-sea mishap on Wednesday took place when INS Sindhuratna had just begun its "sea workup phase" after undergoing a refit at the Mumbai dockyard from May to December last year.

As part of the procedures, the Western Naval Command's commodore commanding submarines, S R Kapoor, and his inspection team were on board to test both the crew and the submarine before clearing it for operational deployment. In all, there were 94 personnel on board.

"The submarine was not carrying any ammunition. A board of inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of mishap," said a senior officer.

But preliminary reports said a leak in the battery pit, which runs under the third compartment, could have caused the smoke to engulf the submarine.

The submarine, in fact, was forced to surface after smoke was detected and the fire-fighting equipment kicked in.

"At sea in the early hours, smoke was reported in the sailors' accommodation, in compartment number three, by the submarine. Smoke was brought under control by the submarine's crew. In the process of controlling the smoke/fire, seven crew members fell unconscious. The submarine is now returning to harbour under its own power,'' said the officer.

INS Sindhuratna, incidentally, was berthed next to INS Sindhurakshak when the latter was hit by a series of internal explosions last year and sustained minor damage to its hull.

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Mumbai Raj Bhavan gets ISO certification

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Raj Bhavan has been awarded an ISO certification. Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan accepted the ISO 9001: 2008 certification from Mona Desai, Director of AGSI, an ISO certification company at Raj Bhavan.

Vijay Muley of the Boon Management provided consultancy services to Raj Bhavan for executing the project. Expressing satisfaction over the receipt of ISO certification by Raj Bhavan, Sankaranarayanan said that getting an ISO certificate was only the beginning. He noted that maintaining the standard of services over a period of time will require involvement and willing participation of all officers and staff. The governor said that as the highest office in the state, Raj Bhavan must set an example for other organisations in terms of efficiency, standards and quality of services.

The ISO certification was awarded to Raj Bhavan in recognition of the standard management practices adopted and implemented by the governor's secretariat and staff in respect of various functions of Raj Bhavan and the services rendered by the institution.

Raj Bhavan has established and implemented management systems for all process in accordance with the ISO 9001:2008. It has also established general and office related improvement checklists and laid down standard operating procedures for all departments.

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Transfer policy for pre-1995 slums announced

MUMBAI: Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday announced the slum transfer policy in the legislature.

The policy is applicable to only pre-1995 slums. Under this policy the slum structures that came up prior to January 1, 1995 will be protected.

What this means is that all those who bought these structures post-1995 will be recognised as bonafide residents and will be eligible for a free house when the slum goes for redevelopment. These residents will have to pay a transfer fee ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000.

Chavan reading out a written statement said to enable the Slum Transfer Policy, the government in 2011 had amended the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act and now needs to amend section 33 (10) of the BMC's Development Control Rules to implement the policy.

"It will help make Mumbai a slum free city," he said.

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Vile Parle chowk to be named after 'Pu La'

MUMBAI: The Vile Parle MLA Krishna Hegde has given a proposal to the Mumbai municipal commissioner to name the junction of Hanuman Road (Near Parleshwar Temple) in the honour of the great Marathi writer and humorist Late Shri Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande, popularly known by his initials Pu La.

Pu La was a resident of Vile Parle and there is not a single Road or Chowk in his name. So it will be an honour for all us Parlekars who are fans of Pu La, to name a chowk after him,'' MLA Hegde said.

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Bombay high court rejects Sakshi Punjabi's plea of copyright infringement

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday granted no relief to a film writer who claimed that her copyright in the story was violated by the makers of Shaadi Ke Side Effects (SKSE).

Sakshi Punjabi moved the high court against Shobaa Kapoor and others who made SKSE. The movie, a Vidya Balan and Farhan Akhtar starrer is due for release on Friday, February 28.

Punjabi's plea came up for hearing before Justice S J Kathawalla who heard the matter for over an hour. Punjabi's counsel Dinyar Madon informed the court that she had developed the concept and storyline of a film titled, Just Adjust, based on the trials and tribulations of an urban married couple, and registered it with the Film Writers' Association in 2008. She then met director Rajat Kapoor and shared the storyline and synopsis with him.

Her case was that at the meeting Saket Choudhary who is the director and script writer of Shaadi ke Side Effects was also present. Kapoor told her that the story needed polishing but he later avoided meeting her, Madon said. Last week, she learnt about SKSE when she came across the film's promo, she said and felt that the film makers had infringed her copyright. She had shared the storyline with Kapoor in confidence.

Advocates Birendra Saraf and Ameet Naik of Naik Naik & Co. appearing for Balaji Films, Shobhaa and Ekta Kapoor and Alpana Mishra, CEO of Balaji on the other hand argued that Punjabi had failed to make out a case of infringement of copyright and took the court through each of the alleged similarities cited by the plaintiff to debunk her claim. Saraf argued that several films including the classic Saath Saath starring Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval had been made on the trials and tribulations of an urban married couple juggling the personal and professional lives. He added that when films are made a broad theme such as this there were bound to be certain similarities but the expression of the basic idea in the two films was very different.

Saraf also cited several judgments to show that Punjabi approached the court belatedly when information about the film was available in the public domain since October 2013 when its trailer was released on Youtube and played at theatres across the country during the release of Krishh 3.

Senior Counsel Virag Tulzapurkar appearing for Pritish Nandy Communications took the court through the prayers in the plaint and pointed out that Punjabi had not sought an injunction against the theatrical release of the film but had merely prayed that she be given credit and had sought damages worth Rs 40 lakh. He added that to be given credit she must deserve it. He pointed out that it is an established fact that there is no copyright in an idea and what is protected under the copyright law is the expression of such an idea. Tulzapurkar said that it is not even Punjabi's case that she had shared the script of her film with Rajat Kapoor. More so, Kapoor, who was present in court, denied having ever met her.

Besides, Rajat Kapoor was not connected with the SKSE in any capacity, the court was informed. After hearing all the parties, Justice Kathawalla rejected Punjabi's prayer for ad-interim relief.

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Bombay HC to clarify in PIL on Mumbai varsity VC

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 26 Februari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Bombay high court will clarify today if petitions challenging the appointment of Mumbai University vice chancellor Rajan Welukar will be heard afresh or will be restricted to a single question on his qualifications.

A bench headed by chief justice Mohit Shah will decide the issue as it had referred the matter to a new division bench of Justice P V Hardas and Justice A S Gadkari. The reference was on whether Welukar fulfils an essential criteria - with regard to post Ph D publication of five research articles in international journals which are referred for studies in higher education. Two public interest litigation were filed by Nitin Deshpande and V G Patil and a petition by A D Sawant, a contender.

When Patil's advocate Pankaj Kowli tried to submit additional grounds for challenge, it was objected to by advocate general Darius Khambata and Welukar's senior counsel Rafiq Dada saying the reference is limited.

Kowli said there is a need for a clarification of the May 2012 order by which the reference was made, whether the new bench should hear only the points referred to or all points in the petition and new points of facts sought to be raised now in respect of Welukar's qualifications.

The new points are that Welukar's first appointment was on September 7, 1985 while he represented in his CV that he is working since 1983 without specifying the date of appointment. In view of this, he does not have essential experience of 15 years of teaching,'' argued Kowli.

Similarly , Welukar also does not hold the rank of a professor which is a qualifying criteria. Also, that as his appointment as assistant lecturer/teacher was not made through Maharashtra Public Service Commission and not approved by the VC under Maharashtra Universities Act, he could not be considered for promotion,'' The matter is adjourned to February 27, 2014 for the clarification to be obtained.

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Mumbai Metro-III consensus eludes cabinet

MUMBAI: Mumbai's proposed Metro Rail-III ran into trouble at the cabinet meeting on Monday night as ministers and even bureaucrats sparred over sanctioning it. Sources said though the Rs 23,000-crore project has been cleared by the Centre and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh obtained an assurance that the Japan International Co-operation Agency would provide the loan, the project was not cleared by the state cabinet.

"The finance secretary objected, saying if the Centre withdrew its guarantee, the state government would have to repay the entire loan with interest. He would not budge despite intervention from the chief minister," said sources. A senior Congress minister too did not want the proposal to be passed, saying he was yet to read the note on the Metro rail project.

Infuriated ministers from Mumbai then threatened to walk out of the meeting leading to sharp exchanges. "Order was restored only after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan assured that the proposal would be brought up again at the next cabinet meeting,'' sources said.

The Congress wants to make the 33.5km underground Metro Rail-III project from Colaba to Bandra, the airport and finally to MIDC SEEPZ, one of its showcase projects. "We want the project to be announced before the code of conduct comes into place but some of our own want to undermine the party's prospects for petty gains," said sources.

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Slum transfer policy to protect 4 lakh structures

MUMBAI: The state government will announce a transfer policy to provide immediate protection to four lakh slum structures, said sources. The policy will fast-track protection to slums as it does not require legislation.

"In slums where the 1995 cut-off is applicable, structures up to 1995 will be granted protection under the transfer policy. In slums where protection has been granted up to 2000, here structures that have come up till that year will be protected,'' said sources. Once the slum bill extending the cut-off date to 2000 for all slums is passed, then protection will be extended to all such structures, said sources.

Under the transfer policy, residents who have purchased the pre-1995 or pre-2000 slum structures will have to pay in the range of Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 to be recognised as bonafide residents. This will make them eligible for free housing when the slum goes in for redevelopment. "When the slum cut-off date is extended, another four lakh slum structures will be protected,'' said sources.

Cabinet minister Naseem Khan said the transfer policy and extension of the slum cut-off date was essential as otherwise a large number of people would be dis-housed.

"Preliminary survey of the airport slums, where the cut-off date is 2000, revealed that despite the extension, only around 35% would be eligible for rehabilitation. This is because the structures have been sold and resold like other tenements in the city,'' he said.

In a 2003 ruling on a PIL against transfer of development rights, the high court reiterated the 1995 cut-off date shall not be extended further. The government challenged the ruling by a special leave petition in the Supreme Court. It will come up for hearing in April .

Highlights of transfer policy

The protection is being granted as many structures have been sold to new families who otherwise stand to lose their homes when the slums are redeveloped

All slums where the 1995 cut-off date is applicable, structures till that date will be protected

All slums where the 2000 cut-off date is applicable, structures up to 2000 will be protected

The post-1995, post-2000 families will have to pay a transfer fee ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 to be recognized as bonafide residents

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Ensure boards put up against sale of cigarettes outside schools, colleges : HC directs Maharashtra

MUMBAI: Bombay high court has directed the State Education Department to instruct all the educational institutions in Maharashtra to display boards outside its premises on the ban on sale of cigarettes and tobacco products within 100 yards of it.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha on February 256, 2014 also directed that "such instructions shall be issued well in time" so that the boards are displayed by all educational institutions before the next academic year begins.

The judges heard a public interest litigation by advocate Dinar Sohoni saying Rule 3 of the Cigarettes and Other Products (Display of Board by Educational Institutions) Rules 2009 is not obeyed by almost all educational institutions. Rule 3 states that educational institutions shall display a board at conspicuous places outside its premises, prominently stating that sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products is strictly prohibited within a radius of 100 hundred yards and is punishable with a fine which may extend to Rs 200.

Sohoni's petition said after he came across the Central enactment in relation to selling of cigarettes and tobacco product, on March 2, 2013 he wrote to 21 schools and and received response from only three. On May 6, 2013 he wrote to education ministers Rajesh Tope and Rajendra Darda but received no reply from them. He then wrote to the vice-chancellor of the Mumbai University on May 8, 2013 and received a reply from the NSS Coordinator But when he sought details of how many colleges are obeying Rule 3, he did not receive a reply. Since he exhausted all efficacious remedies, he moved HC.

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Maharashtra government in a fix over release date of Madhav Chitale committee report

MUMBAI: As the Madhav Chitale committee is all set to submit its report on the irrigation scam, the state government will find itself in a bind whether to release it or not before the elections.

Chitale was appointed last year to probe the irregularities in awarding irrigation contracts worth thousands of crores by the state water resources department controlled by the NCP. The ministry was headed by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar for most of the last decade before he handed over charge to his party colleague Sunil Tatkare.

Following a TOI expose of how a substantial chunk of the Rs 70,000 crore spent on irrigation projects was either siphoned off or wasted on dud projects, the chief minister was forced to appoint an inquiry committee.

However, the terms of reference for the committee, headed by water management expert Madhav Chitale, were watered down considerably. It had no powers to summon any official or politicians for questioning unlike a judicial inquiry, which enjoys certain powers.

The report could be embarrassing for the NCP on the eve of the parliament elections although there is speculation that Chitale has not indicted any politician or looked into their role despite substantial evidence. The opposition is likely to make it into an election issue and pressure the government to table it quickly.

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Matang community demands separate reservation

MUMBAI: Members of the Matang community late Wednesday afternoon brought traffic on Madame Cama Road in South Mumbai to a halt for 30 minutes. Mantralaya and Vidhan Bhavan are both located on this road. There is a ban on morchas in this precinct.

The community came in a procession demanding separate reservation.

Near the minister's bungalows, the members squatted on the road disrupting traffic. When they refused to moven the police carried out a lathicharge in which a couple of women were injured including a senior citizen. The old woman had her teeth knocked out.

Community members said alongwith 59 other communities they have a 13% reservation in jobs . "It is so crowded that no one from our community has been able to get a job in government. We want a separate reservation," they said.

The police finally managed to push them into a police van and opened the road for traffic.

Home minister R R Patil said the people came in ones and twos and when they reached Madam Cama road, they collected together to disrupt traffic.

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Assessment yet to begin 5 days after HSC exams started

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 25 Februari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Five days after the HSC exams commenced, not a single answer sheet has been assessed. Students who are busy preparing and appearing for their exams are worried about the results.

The education department has assured students that the results will not be delayed, but teachers are still awaiting a government resolution (GR) confirming their demands, to start paper assessment.

"We made it very clear that all we want is an assurance from the government in the form of a GR. The minute we see the document, teachers across Maharashtra will start assessment," said Anil Deshmukh, general secretary, Maharashtra State Federation of Junior College Teachers' Organization . He said the teachers were ready to work extra , if need be, to ensure results are not delayed.

Teachers' representatives met education minister Rajendra Darda and the education secretary on Monday to discuss the issue. "We were assured all our demands have been accepted and the GR will be issued at the earliest. We will start work the minute the GR is issued," Deshmukh said.

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Land allotted to Congress MP returned, Maharashtra govt tells high court

MUMBAI: The state government told the Bombay high court that land allotted to Congress MP Rajiv Shukla's firm BAG Films Educational Society had been returned. But the society lawyer said they have returned it as the terms of the allotment were 'onerous' and could not complied with.

The society claimed Rs 2.2 crore from the state as "refund" for expenses towards rehabilitation of encroachers and security of land. A state lawyer, on being queried by a bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Sanklecha, said it was not.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Save Open Spaces and its chief Ashoke Pandit about alleged illegal allotment of two plots in Andheri, one reserved for a municipal school to the society in 2008 when Shukla was its office-bearer . The society got the land for a proposed IB school, the PIL said.

Pandit said return of the land was a "victory for residents" and it exposed the "nexus of politicians in the allotment".

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Railway cops go on a wild-goose chase in techie murder case

MUMBAI: The railway crime branch sleuths last week thought they had almost solved software engineer Esther Anuhya's mysterious murder case, but their joy was short-lived.

A railway informer last week claimed to have identified the man seen along with Anuhya in the footage obtained from CCTVs at LTT, a source said. The informer told the police that the man was a former railway porter, Ekkya, who had quit the job a few years ago, and provided the cops with his address in Thane. When the sleuths reached Ekkya's residence and showed his mother a picture of the man seen with Anuhya, she identified him and said it was her son. She told the police that Ekkya had gone to Nashik.

"A police team left for Nashik, where they were told Ekkya had gone to Yavatmal. The cops then proceeded to Yavatmal, but Ekkya returned to Nashik. The team then returned to Nashik and nabbed Ekkya," said an officer.

But on questioning him for five hours, the cops realized that he was not the man they were looking for as on January 5, when Anuhya went missing, Ekkya was very much in Thane.

Joint commissioner (crime) Sadanand Date on Monday reviewed the case. Cops have released the man's picture. "People can call up on 022-25783999 or 9870205499 or 100. Name of the informer will not be disclosed and s/he will be rewarded," said an officer.

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HC to hear plea to transfer probe in builder's killing

MUMBAI: Bombay high court will hear a petition seeking transfer of probe in the killing of Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Lahoria on Tuesday.

A division bench of Justice P V Hardas and Justice A S Gadkari will hear a public interest litigation by activist Ketan Tirodkar for transfer of probe from Crime Branch (Mumbai) to Central Bureau of Investigation. Tirodkar contends that there were 105 conversations between police commissioner A K Sharma and accused Suresh Bijlani and architect Anurag Garg on the day of the murder and a day later.

Pursuant to the court's last direction, the prosecutor at a earlier hearing submitted the call details of these conversation in a sealed envelope. After perusing it the judges asked it to be resealed and given to the court as and when we want it.'' The judges then queried whether investigations were conducted in respect of the police officers being in contact with accused prior to the incident. We have done it. It is being looked into by the joint commissioner of police. The DG is also looking into it,'' the prosecutor replied.

The judges also asked about the builder's son Sandeep's complaint against Sharma. When are you going to take a decision on it? 'asked Justice Hardas. Pai sought some time. We want to know in a confidential report on the basis of this (complaint) what inquiry you have made and the outcome of it,'' said Justice Hardas.

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Offices of polictal parties legal: Government tells HC

MUMBAI: State government on Monday told Bombay high court that offices of political parties like BJP and Janata Dal could not be demolished as they have existed at Nehru Garden near Mantralaya even before the Development Control Rules came into force in 1991.

A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Amjad Sayed heard a public interest litigation by three south Mumbai residents associations challenging encroachments in Nehru Garden by offices of political parties and State bodies. On August 20, 2013 HC restrained BJP from carrying out further renovation of its office and directed a status quo in all respects in the garden.

The government's affidavit, submitted by its advocate Niranjan Pandit, said structures like Employment Exchange, offices of BJP and Janata Dal , Zunkha Bhakar Kendra and Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal which the petitioner complains of as encroachment'' have existed for over 35 years and were constructed even before the land was earmarked as recreation ground (RG) in the Development Plan of 1991. It said the land belongs to the government which let it out to various parties and added that even though it was designated as RG, BMC never developed the garden. The structures have, therefore, remained even after the sanctioned plan of 1991 and till today and could not have been demolished by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai,'' it stated.

The affidavit said in case of unauthorised constructions, alterations and additions by the respondents (structures) , it is the responsibility of BMC to demolish them. The matter is adjourned by four weeks for the petitioners to file their rejoinder.

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Station diary submitted to Bombay HC in builder's killing

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday was given the station diary in connection with the probe into the killing of Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Lahoria.

A division bench of Justice P V Hardas and Justice A S Gadkari heard a public interest litigation by activist Ketan Tirodkar for transfer of probe from Crime Branch (Mumbai) to Central Bureau of Investigation.

Tirodkar contends that there were 105 conversations between police commissioner A K Sharma, accused Suresh Bijlani and architect Anurag Garg on the day of the murder and a day later.

Prosecutor Aruna Pai submitted the station diary to the court in a sealed cover. The judges said they would go through it and adjourned the hearing by four weeks.

Earlier the court been given call details of conversation between the accused and Sharma in a sealed envelope. The judges had also enquired about what decision has been taken by the government on Lahoria's son Sandeep's complaint against Sharma and has sought a confidential report on it.

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Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan inaugurates monorail in Mumbai

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 01 Februari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavanon Saturday inaugurated the monorail in Mumbai.

The country's first Monorail service is commencing operations after a delay of over two years. This new addition to the city's public transport system will be made available for public use on Sunday.

The Rs 3,000-crore monorail project is being implemented in two phases. The first phase comprises the 8.9 km long Wadala-Chembur section, while in the second phase the services will be extended to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk in South Mumbai.

The Authority has fixed fares between Rs 5-11 for the first phase of operations, he said adding that MMRDA will operate six trains in the first phase, and another 10 will be added in the second.

To begin with, the services will operate with four coaches having a combined carrying capacity of 2,300 passengers at every 15 minutes, Madan said.

"We aim to provide a service at every four minutes going forward," he said.

The monorail project has been executed by a consortium of engineering major Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) and Malaysian firm Scomi Engineering and owned and operated by MMRDA.

The monorail is expected to reduce the travel time between Wadala and Chembur by almost half, from 40 minutes at present to nearly 21 minutes.

MMRDA has already spent Rs 1,900 crore of the Rs 3,000 crore allocated for the project, Madan said adding, "the civil work on the second phase of the project has been completed."

(With inputs from PTI)

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Employee steals Rs 2.75cr gold from jewellery store in Mumbai

MUMBAI: A 22-year-old man, Pramod Bhati, employed with a jewellery store in Kurla (W), stole 10.5kg gold worth Rs 2.75 crore from the shop and fled.

The incident took place on Thursday when Bhati stole the gold after changing the direction of the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera installed at RR Sanghvi Jewellers' safe room, said the Kurla police. Hunt is on for Bhati.

The theft came to light only at night when the shop owner, Ratanchand Jain (72), asked his son to go and check the whereabouts of Bhati, who had been missing. In the complaint, Jain said, "One of my employees, who sleeps inside the shop along with Bhati, called late on Thursday to inform that the shop was locked. Bhati was nowhere to be found and his mobile was switched off." Suspecting something amiss, Jain asked his son to open the shop with the spare key. "On opening the shop, we Jain's son saw that the safe room was open and ornaments worth over Rs 2.75 crore were missing. Jain then lodged a theft complaint," said a Kurla police officer.

Jain told TOI: "After closing the shop account on Wednesday night, I left and handed over the keys to Bhati, who along with other employees sleeps in the shop. Bhati, a Rajasthan native, had been employed six months ago after his uncle, who has worked with me for past 16 years. gave his reference."

"Bhati knew the shop remains closed on Thursday and took advantage of the trust. Before stealing, he had changed the direction of the CCTV," said an officer. A team has been formed to nab Bhati and will leave for Rajasthan soon.

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Centre nod for Mumbai’s TB control plan

MUMBAI: The Centre on Friday gave the green light to upgrade BMC's tuberculosis-control programme in such a manner that extensively drug-resistant TB cases could be diagnosed within three months.

Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said the Mumbai TB-control plan will get five welcome additions. This follows the visit of a central team, including state health secretary K Desiraju, in the city last fortnight.

"We will get five new GeneXperts in 2014 to diagnose multi-drug-resistant TB faster," she said. The Centre has agreed to allow a TB patient who doesn't respond to first-line of treatment to be simultaneously checked for both MDR TB and its worse version called extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB).

Earlier, such patients would be put through the MDR TB course for six months before being tested for XDR TB. This meant an XDR TB patient would continue to spread the bacteria for almost a year before getting access to the right treatment. "Now, the diagnosis time would be cut down to three months and the XDR patient will be given individualized treatment," added Mhaiskar.

The other points include upgrading diagnostic facility for XDR TB as well as at BMC's TB Hospital in Sewri. The Centre has also agreed for a pilot project to provide nutritional supplements to patients with drug-resistant TB.

"We are working out the details of the plan and should be ready to roll it out in June," Mhaiskar said.

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Junkies spread terror in south Mumbai lanes

MUMBAI: The roads and lanes of the Fort precinct, Marine Drive and Masjid Bunder have become a haven for drug addicts, who are a tribe that even cops tend to avoid confronting. The presence of junkies on footpaths and bus stops prompts people, especially women, to avoid those areas or pass by hurriedly.

Last month, a drug addict was seen assaulting a constable near the gates of Anjuman Islam school. "These are desperate men who will do anything to get their daily fix. Police often allow them to be lest they slash them with a blade or jab an infected needle," says a photographer who witnessed the incident. Clusters of addicts prowl areas like Ballard Estate, whose workforce empties out in the evening, and accost passersby for money and valuables.

Residents of Marine Drive who park their cars outside often find stereo systems missing. Chain snatching is rampant. Suman Gurwara's car was stolen from the lane near the flyover where additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani was robbed of his phone. "I'm afraid to send my child out alone. Drug addicts lurk around and snatch whatever is in your hands," she said.

The expatriate population is seen as a vulnerable target. A large population of foreigners not only lives and works in south Mumbai but loves to tour its heritage buildings and photograph them. Foreign students study at the Mumbai University, browse bookstores or take the train from Churchgate and CST railway stations.

DCP Ravindra Shisve of Zone I said cops have been conducting an ongoing drive against drug addicts. "Going by the dynamic nature of the business district, the crime rate is low. We had 30 cases of chain-snatching in 2013 compared to other zones which had 300-400. We have sanitized large parts of Azad Maidan and Oval Maidan of junkies. Dongri, which used to be the favourite haunt of Nigerian peddlers and conduits, is largely free of them. "I assure citizens we will intensify this drive."

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Mumbaikars invited to Chikoo Festival at Dahanu this weekend

MUMBAI: The Konkan fruit farmers of Dahanu are organising a colourful agro-tourism event, Chikoo Festival, on February 1 and 2 with the help of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and Kokan Bhumi Pratishtan.

"The Chikoo festival will be a good weekend getaway for the people of Navi Mumbai and Mumbai to enjoy the Konkan climate at Dahanu and also learn about how the fruit Chikoo is hugely cultivated here," said Poonam Shrungare, a spokesperson of the fest.

Based at the picturesque Bordi Beach in the area, the festival is slated to attract many tourists.

The Chikoo Festival promotes Dahanu more towards Sustainable Progressive Development. Dahanu is a small coastal town and not many are aware of its history and its natural topography. The tribal interiors have rich culture and copiousness art & craft.

MTDC has substantiated the true potency of the region which is constellated with agriculturists, horticulturists, floriculturists, artisans, potters, basket weavers, jewelry die-makers, salt manufacturers, balloon manufactures, toddy tappers and fisher folks apart from primitive activities like boat repairing and net making.

Dr Jagdish Patil, Managing Director of MTDC, said, "It is our great pleasure to be the part of Chikoo Festival. Dahanu taluka is at crossroads - ecologically, socially, culturally; surrounded by the rapidly advancing industrial and commercial metros of Mumbai, Tarapur and Vapi. With over 50% land under fruit orchards, forests & mangroves, this region has a lot to offer through agro-tourism. We want tourist to get a flavor of the indigenous culture of Dahanu and the Chikoo Festival encapsulates the true spirit of the land to its core."

Sanjay Yadavrao, President, Kokan Bhumi Pratisthan, said, "Village tourism has a great potential in Konkan. This provides an ideal getaway to the urban and international tourists to relive a traditional Indian way of living in the natural habitat. We aim to augment the local economy through sustainable tourism through Chikoo Festival."

The local tribal population, the Warlis, constitute 66% of the total population of the Dahanu area.

The festival entertains, educates and sensitizes its visitors. The mission is to create opportunities for individuals and communities to celebrate, share and sustain the arts and the rich cultural traditions of the local area thereby creating alternative sources of income and sustainability.

The events will range from organizing a small fun-fair wherein stalls will be set-up to showcase different offerings; tribal art and craft, agricultural products, fresh fruits & their products, photo exhibition on the region, to outdoor attractions like, Chikoo safari, Warli dance, Parsi and Irani cuisine, visit to weekly bazaar, sans castle competition, kite making and Kite flying, local market visits, bon fire with local cuisine finger foods at the beach, etc.

Dahanu and Talasari are the largest chikoo cultivation areas in Maharashtra followed by Aurangabad region. Around Dahanu there is around 1100 hectare of land under chikoo cultivation of which about 7500 hectare is in and around Dahanu and 3600 in Talasari.

Chikoo is all season fruit and hence faces competition with all other seasonal fruits in terms of market and demand. Fruit cultivation has largely been neglected though it gives production across the seasons. There is little done to encourage this fruit as the demand of chikoo cultivators for setting up APMC in Virar or Vasai was never fulfilled. It could help a lot to the farmers saving their costs on transportation, reduction in wastage and economic pricing etc.

The APMC rate of chikoo varies from Rs 5 to Rs 12 per kg and currently it is traded at Rs 8 per kg.

Chikoo processing is also under developed though there is a large potential market for processed chikoo food. Even the Central Food Research was also approached to improve technology for processing of chikoo which was coming at a very big cost.

With all these limitations, the farmers and small food processors have successfully turned chikoo into a big success story and the region is prosperous. There are many innovations and scientific farming taking place due to the initiatives of locals without any government support.

Chikoo Festival, besides a fanfare is also a testimony of the spirit of these farmers and their vision to develop this region creating awareness about their issues and promoting their food products, produced and branded locally with required testing and quality assurance.

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Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan inaugurates Mumbai monorail

MUMBAI: Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavanon Saturday inaugurated the monorail in Mumbai.

The country's first Monorail service is commencing operations after a delay of over two years. This new addition to the city's public transport system will be made available for public use on Sunday.

The Rs 3,000-crore monorail project is being implemented in two phases. The first phase comprises the 8.9 km long Wadala-Chembur section, while in the second phase the services will be extended to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk in South Mumbai.

The Authority has fixed fares between Rs 5-11 for the first phase of operations, he said adding that MMRDA will operate six trains in the first phase, and another 10 will be added in the second.

To begin with, the services will operate with four coaches having a combined carrying capacity of 2,300 passengers at every 15 minutes, Madan said.

"We aim to provide a service at every four minutes going forward," he said.

The monorail project has been executed by a consortium of engineering major Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) and Malaysian firm Scomi Engineering and owned and operated by MMRDA.

The monorail is expected to reduce the travel time between Wadala and Chembur by almost half, from 40 minutes at present to nearly 21 minutes.

MMRDA has already spent Rs 1,900 crore of the Rs 3,000 crore allocated for the project, Madan said adding, "the civil work on the second phase of the project has been completed."

(With inputs from PTI)

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