It must be stated at the outset that it is most concerning to see that it is India which records maximum deaths due to road accidents. The deaths due to road accidents is more than the death caused by terrorists or by any other known cause! What is even more shocking to see is that still we see the rampant use by drivers of cell phones and not wearing helmets at all or wearing not proper helmets which can protect their head if met with an accident!  
                                         As it turned out, in a slew of directions issued to ensure road safety, the Uttarakhand High Court in the landmark case of Avidit Noliyal v State of Uttarakhand and others in Writ Petition No. 148 of 2014 (PIL) on June 18, 2018 in a slew of directions issued to ensure road safety directed the State to issue directions authorizing cancellation of licences of drivers found using cell phones while driving. This landmark ruling was the crying need of the hour also! Now people will be compelled to follow what the Uttarakhand High Court has directed so explicitly to ensure road rules are followed  which in turn will ensure maximum safety of all those who either drive or walk on roads!
                                          While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that the Bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh which was hearing a petition filed by one Avidit Noliyal seeking directions to the State authorities to strictly implement Sections 128 (safety measures for drivers and pillion riders) and 129 (wearing of protective headgear) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the Rules framed thereunder. Responding to the petition, the State had submitted details of the challans issued under Section 129. But this alone is just not enough! This was noted even by the Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court which while appreciating the steps taken by the State made it a point to take notice of the discernible fact that 50 percen5t of people driving two-wheelers were still not using protective gears and thus exposing themselves to all sorts of injuries and risks!
                                        For my esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, it must also be informed here that para 2 of this landmark judgment points out very clearly and categorically that, “The State has filed the counter affidavit. The State Government has given the details of the Challans issued under Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The Court appreciates the steps taken by the Government agencies for the enforcement of Section 129 of the Act. However, the Court can still take judicial notice of the fact that 50 percent of the Scooterists/Motorcyclists are not using protective headgear as ordained under Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (herein after referred to as the Act), seriously entailing injuries to themselves. This kind of law is known as paternalism. Though, it is the responsibility of the person to protect his/her life and property, but still in the larger public interest, this enactment has been made by the Central Government. The scope of this writ petition has been enlarged. The Court has taken judicial notice of the iron angles, iron rods (sariyas), logs, girdles including iron sheets and fiber sheets protrude outside the transport vehicles. These are very fatal. The transport vehicles cannot be permitted to ferry iron rods (sariyas), logs, girdles including iron sheets and fiber sheets protruding/projecting outside the length of the vehicle. Many valuable lives are lost due to the reckless act of the owners of the transport vehicles. The highest number of accidents of this type are reported in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The tractor-trollies, trucks, jeeps, bullock carts are the main carriers of these items. We have also noticed the drivers using cell phone while driving the vehicles endangering their lives as well as the lives of other persons. These illegal acts are required to be curbed with heavy hand. Even if the headgears are used by the motor cyclists/scooterists, it is not I.S.I mark. It is more ceremonial than effective.” Very rightly said! There can be no denying or disputing it! This alone explains why so many people lose their precious lives every year in our country due to road accidents which is the highest in the world!
                                         Having said this, it must be now brought out here that the Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh then disposed of the petition by issuing a slew of landmark directions in the larger public interest. Those slew of landmark directions are as follows: -
(i)                         The State Government is directed to enforce strictly the provisions of Section 129 of the Act.     
Helmet with ISI mark compulsory
(ii)                      No motor motorcyclists/Scooterists shall be permitted to ply the motorcycle/scooter without wearing helmet of I.S.I mark. The Senior Superintendent of Police, C.O.’s and Kotwals shall be personally responsible to implement this order.
(iii)                   It shall be open to all the citizens throughout the State Government to point out the non-compliance of this Court’s orders through the Registrar General of this Court.
Ban on carrying iron sheets, pipes and rods
(iv)                   The State Government is directed to make Rules prohibiting the carrying of the iron sheets, iron rods, girdles, steel pipes and plastic pipes beyond the structural length/body of the vehicles. Till the Rules are made there shall be the ban of carrying iron sheets, iron rods, girdles, steel pipes and plastic pipes beyond the structural length/body of the transport vehicles throughout the State of Uttarakhand.
(v)                      These directions shall apply from the source to all the transporters. It shall be the responsibility of the factory owners and shopkeepers to ensure the due compliance of this order forthwith.
Cancellation of licence of those using cell phone while driving
(vi)                   The State Government is directed to issue necessary instructions to cancel the licenses of those persons, who are found using cell phones while driving. Till the State Government comes out with the necessary amendment/notification, fine of Rs. 5000/- shall be charged from every violator using the cell phone while driving.
No driving licence for minors
(vii)                The State Government is also directed to ensure that no minors are issued any driving licenses and they are not permitted to drive the vehicles. The Principals/head of the Institution of all the Educational Institutions shall make the students aware of these directions issued hereinabove and cooperate for due implementation of these directions in larger public interest.
                                 No doubt, it is a landmark ruling which must be fully and firmly implemented. It is the bounden duty of the State Government and the concerned authorities to ensure that what all directions this Bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh have given in this landmark case is given effect to effectively and taken to its logical conclusion! It brooks no delay. People too must cooperate to ensure that this landmark judgment is fully complied with because it is for their safety and for their benefit that this landmark judgment has been delivered!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.
Coming straight to the nub of the matter, it has to be said at the very outset with a lot of appreciation that in the landmark case of Manoj Singh Pawar v State of Uttarakhand & others Writ Petition (PIL) No. 156 of 2016 which was delivered on June 18, 2018, the Uttarakhand High Court issued a slew of landmark directions to check drug peddling and abuse in the state. We all know that drug peddling and abuse has become a very common phenomenon. It has to be checked from spreading further so that the damage can be contained from further spreading!

                                       As it turned out, the Bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh specifically took note of drug abuse in educational institutions, prevailing so rampantly. It directed the State to ensure that a policeman in plain clothes is stationed around each educational institute from 8 am to 6 pm. It further directed all educational institutes in the State to ensure appointment of the senior-most teacher as the nodal officer to counsel students every Friday on the ill effects off drugs.    

                                    Simply put, the present petition has been filed by the petitioner, Mr Manoj Singh Pawar highlighting the opening of liquor vend right in the heart of Almora town in the close proximity of District Hospital, opposite the Government Museum and Govt. Girls Inter College and bus stand. Mr Manoj had drawn the Court’s attention to the fact that the establishment of liquor vends is regulated and controlled under the Uttar Pradesh Number and Location of Excise Shops Rules, 1968 which bars opening of such vends in close proximity of places of public worship, schools, hospitals or residential colonies. Similar instructions had been issued by the State as well.

                                      Briefly stated, the essence of Sub-rule 4 of Rule 5 is as follows: “4(a) No shop or sub-shop shall be licensed within a distance of 50 (fifty) meters in case of Municipal Corporations; within a distance of 75 (seventy-five) meters in case of Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayat; and within a distance of 100 (one hundred0 meters in other areas from any place of public worship or schools or hospitals or residential colony:

Provided that if any place of public worship, school, hospital, residential colony comes into existence subsequent to the establishment of shop or sub-shop, the provisions of this rule shall not apply:

Provided further that the distance restriction shall not apply in areas designated as “commercial” or “industrial” by the development authority/industrial development authority or other competent authority.  

(b) The distance referred in clause (a) shall be measured from the mid point of the entrance of the shop or sub-shop along the nearest path by which pedestrian ordinarily reaches to the mid-point of the nearest gate of the place of public worship or a school or a hospital or a residential colony, if there is a compound wall and if there is no compound wall to the mid-point of the nearest entrance of the place of public worship or a school or a hospital or a residential colony.”

For the sake of brevity, the mention of explanation after Sub-rule 4 (a) has been omitted.

                                                 It would be pertinent to mention here that in view of the petitioner’s submissions, the Bench observed that, “This should not have been permitted to be done by the State government. The availability of narcotics including liquor, wine should not be readily available. These liquor vends should be far away from the educational institutions, busy hubs, commercial centers, hospitals, factories, temples etc.” Very rightly said! There can be no denying it!

                                        Truth be told, the Bench then enlarged the scope of the petition in larger public interest to ensure that no liquor vend is issued licence, opened, and operated in contravention of these rules. During the course of the hearing, it also interacted with the police authorities in the State, and expressed its concerns with regard to the availability of charas, heroin and artificial drugs to the students community in the State. It lamented the fact that “drug abuse has broken the social fabric and has destroyed number of families”, and directed the officers to sensitize the entire police force to ensure that drugs are not available to the students.

                                          Going forward, the Bench was further informed that a Special Operational Group (SOG) has been constituted in each district under his jurisdiction. It however noted several deficiencies in the machinery put together by the State, observing, “There are no special check posts to check the smuggling of drugs/narcotics substances from across the border as well as in the bordering districts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana. A startling revelation has been made by the Deputy Inspector General that there is only one Drug Inspector available in the entire Kumaon Range. There are no rehabilitation centers in the entire Kumaon Region for rehabilitation of the youth addicted to drugs. There are no sufficient number of psychiatrists for counseling in the hospitals. There is no separate ward earmarked for rehabilitation of drug addicts.”

                                      Needless to say, the Court then opined that kingpins of the trade should be booked under the provisions of Money Laundering Act, 2002. It in fact went on to direct the Principal Secretary (Home) to the Government of Uttarakhand to issue directions to all investigating officers in the State to take recourse to Section 27A (punishment for financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 for charging those accused of such activities in order to curb the menace of drug abuse.

                               Having said this, it is now time to dwell upon the mandatory directions which were issued by the Bench of Uttarakhand High Court before disposing of the  petition. Those directions are as follows: -

   Constitution Of Special Protection Groups

A.  The Special Operational Groups shall be headed by an Officer not below the rank of Inspector along with at least 10 police personnel out of which 5 should be women. The S.S.P./S.P. of each district shall be personally responsible to monitor the operations carried out by the Special Operational Group. The Circle Officer of the concerned Circle shall be the Supervising Officer.

  Appointment Of Drug Inspectors Within 3 Months

B.  The State Government is directed to appoint more Drugs Inspectors in each district in cluster of two districts in hill areas and two Drugs Inspectors in each plain district i.e. Dehradun, Haridwar, Udham Singh Nagar and plain areas of Champawat and Nainital within three months from today.

Special Check Post On Indo-Nepal Border

C.   The Director General of Police, State of Uttarakhand is directed to set up special check posts on Indo-Nepal Border to check the free flow of narcotics substances into the State of India from Nepal. The Special Check Post shall be headed by a person not below the rank of Sub Inspector. Needless to add that the check post shall be equipped with the latest state of art equipment i.e. Scanners. The check posts shall be set up within three months from today and the necessary equipments shall be supplied within this period only.  

Special Task Force At Check Posts Adjoining Neighbouring States

D. The State Government is directed to have Special Task Force (STF) at all the check posts adjoining the State of Uttarakhand i.e. Himachal Pradesh, U.P., Haryana etc. to check the transportation of narcotics and more particularly artificial drugs in the State. The units and check posts shall keep a close vigil on the buses, trains and other conveyances in the State of Uttarakhand.

      Uprooting Of Cannabis From The Wild

E.  The State Government is directed to undertake special drives to uproot the cannabis found even in the wild. All the revenue officers, forest officers and elected representatives of Panchayat Raj Bodies are directed to inform the police about the illegal cultivation of cannabis, opium and poppy in their respective areas.

                 Awareness Drives

F.    The State Government is also directed to launch awareness drives to make the people aware of the ill effects of drugs on the society. The District Magistrate of the district shall be the Nodal Officer to make the citizens aware of the ill-effects of the drugs and controlling the same. The State Government shall make sufficient provisions for awareness drives through electronic media, print media, internet, radio television etc.

    Latest Kits To Investigating Officers

G. The State Government is directed to provide latest kits to the Investigating Officers to investigate the matters under the Opium Act, NDPS Act and other allied Acts.

Registration Of Cases Under Money Laundering Act

H. The State Government through the Director General of Police is directed to register cases against the kingpins under the Money Laundering Act, 2002 at the time of lodging the FIR under the NDPS Act and Opium Act and also, if necessary, by attaching their properties provisionally relating to supply of poppy straw, coca plant and coca leaves, prepared opium, opium poppy and opium, opium by cultivator, cannabis plant and cannabis, manufactured drugs and preparation and psychotropic substances including artificial drugs etc.

Rehabilitation Centres In Each District Within Six Month

I.     Since the drugs menace has attained alarming preparation, the State Government is directed to establish Rehabilitation Centers in each district of the State within a period of six months from today. The rehabilitation centers shall provide all the basic necessities to the inmates including boarding, lodging, counseling etc.

Appointing One Psychiatrist For Counseling

J.    The State Government is directed to appoint one Psychiatrist for counseling in each Rehabilitation Center. The Counselor appointed in rehabilitation center shall also visit all the schools falling in his jurisdiction advising the students about the ill effect of drugs.

Counseling Of Students In All Schools

K.   All the educational institutions i.e. government run, government aided, private schools, minority institutions, are directed to appoint the senior-most teacher as the Nodal Officer to counsel the students on every Friday of the month about the ill-effects of drugs. In case, he finds any drugs abuse or symptoms, he shall be at liberty to summon the parents of students. The parents will be sensitized against the drugs abuse in parent-teacher meetings.

One Policeman Around All Educational Institutions

L.   The State Government is directed to ensure one plain clothed policeman from 8AM to 6 PM around all the educational institutions to nab the drugs peddlers and kingpins. The local intelligence units are directed to keep a close watch on the shops including Dhabas, tuck shops, Khokas, tea stalls to ensure that the owners thereof are not permitted to indulge in the sale of drugs etc.

Raiding Of Factories, Industries And Medical Shops

M.         The Drugs Inspector while raiding the factories, industries, medical shops shall be accompanied by a person not below the rank of Circle Officer including the Gazetted Officer from the Food and Supplies Department.

SSP/SP To Personally Monitor All Cases

N. The SSP/SP of the concerned district shall personally monitor all the cases registered under the Opium Act and the NDPS Act, 1985 to plug the loopholes during the course of enquiry and investigation to increase the conviction rate.

Updating Executive Magistrates And Gazetted Officers

O.            The Executive Magistrates and the Gazetted officers throughout the State shall be informed about their duties to be discharged under the NDPS Act more particularly, Section 50 and the latest law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and by this Court from time to time.

Cancellation Of License If Liquor Is Supplied to Minors

P.   The Police Officers shall ensure that no minor is served any drugs, alcoholic beverages in any medical shops, bars restaurants and through vend. No vend shall supply/sell the liquor to any minor. In the eventuality of liquor being supplied/sold to a minor, the license issued for bar/vend shall be cancelled after putting them to notice. This direction shall be complied with by the police force as well as by the Excise Department. The concerned Circle Officer shall visit every medical shop at least within 24 hours to check the supply of drugs to any minor.

Examination Of Respondent Liquor Vend

Q.            The SDM, Almora is directed to measure the distance as per the Rules and the norms prescribed by the State Government within 72 hours. In case, the distance is found less than 100 meters, the State Government shall shift the liquor vend within 7 days from today at an appropriate place and if, it is more than 100 meters, it shall be permitted to operate

Ensuring That All Liquor Vends Comply With The Law

R.  The Secretary, Excise to the State of Uttarakhand is directed to ensure that no liquor vend is situated in violation of the Uttar Pradesh Number and Location of Excise Shop Rules, 1968 as well as the instructions issued by the State Government on 16.06.2008. The necessary exercise shall be undertaken within one week from today.

                              All said and done, it is a landmark judgment with far reaching consequences. It has issued most landmark directives which must be implemented in letter and spirit. To check the young age group from getting immersed in drug abuse, it is imperative that these landmark directives are implemented in its entirety!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.

To begin with, I am not at all surprised by the withdrawal of support by BJP to PDP which was till a few hours ago its alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir! This was long long overdue! The brewing resentment among party workers compelled the top leadership to immediately call for withdrawal of support to PDP in J&K soon after ceasefire was ended!
                                              BJP has most certainly now taken the right decision even though it has been too late! The minute PDP decided to withdraw cases against stone pelters or traitors or Pakistan supported foot soldiers BJP should have acted! It was the biggest national disgrace to see time and again in different news channels our soldiers being beaten, their helmet being thrown away from their head and yet soldiers were ordered to exercise complete restraint! This is not restraint but surrender in front of soldiers of Pakistan! 
                                 As if this was not enough, the same old mistakes which former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee did of declaring Ramzan ceasefire was repeated which resulted again in killing of our soldiers, increased shelling from across the border which compelled lakhs of people to leave their homes and many died! Why the hell did Centre declare unilateral ceasefire? Why our soldiers like brave Aurangzeb Khan and others were allowed to be killed by Pakistan and terrorists in the most dastardly manner and similarly even senior journalists like Shujaat Bukhari were allowed to be massacred by terrorists during Ramzan? Is Ramzan month a time to be given unfettered licence to Pakistan and terrorists to kill our brave soldiers, journalists and people?
                                        Why BJP kept on taking everything just lying down and kept on extending the long rope to Mehbooba and her party PDP? Why Mehbooba was allowed to have the last laugh in all crucial matters? Why national interest was allowed to be roughshod over petty vested interests of PDP?
                                            How long will politicians plead ceasefire for terrorists, traitors and Pakistan? How long will politicians plead “talks and dialogues” with these rogues? How long will politicians refuse to learn anything from past experiences like the brutal murder of Lieutenant Umar Fayyaz and continue appeasing terrorists and Pakistan? How long will Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for Pakistan continue since 1996 unilaterally like unilateral ceasefire till now? How long will Pakistan enjoy benefit of Indus Water Treaty will killing our citizens mercilessly?
                                                    Mohammad Haneef Khan who is Aurangzeb’s father who is himself an ex-serviceman stands perfectly justified when he says that, “I want to ask PM Modi if he’s listening to me, why are you appeasing stone-pelters and separatists? Punish the terrorists who killed my son. Why was Ramzan ceasefire announced? Terrorists have no religion, then why operations were stopped against them during Ramzan? Why Pakistani flags are allowed to be waved openly in India?” What Mohammad Haneef has said is perfectly right and no sane person will ever question this!
                                         How can cases be withdrawn suddenly against more than 10,000 stone-pelters by J&K State Government? How can a crime be encouraged openly by a duly elected State Government? How can Centre too endorse it by doing nothing to stop this? Does Centre favour stone pelting on our soldiers! Never saw stone pelting on such a large scale as we are now seeing in PM Narendra Damodardas Modi’s Raj!
                                          Why this blind appeasement of Pakistan since 1947 which never deserved independence as an independent nation? Why whole of J&K not annexed? Why people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir keep agitating against Pakistan and why India allowed Pakistan to get away with it? 
                                         Why even now India is not ensuring the full and final merger of J&K with India? Former CJI JS Khehar while in office as CJI had rightly said that, “How can one country have two flags, two Constitutions, two laws and two citizenship?” Why can’t Centre abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A which are most discriminatory and forbids Indians from outside the state to settle there or even appear in any exam there? What have we gained by it? Flags of Pakistan and ISIS! For how long this disgraceful appeasement will continue? No law, no Constitution, no Judge, no court not even Supreme Court nor can any Government whether in Centre or State can be above the unity and integrity of India which has to be ensured under all circumstances! Why Centre is allowing more than Rs 560 crore of taxpayers money to be spent on Hurriyat leaders security etc when they openly rant against India? Why no leadership is shown to end this?
                                            This “ceasefire sham” which earlier even BJP leaders were applauding had to explode finally and now the reality is before us to see for ourselves! When there is no ceasefire on Diwali or Holi or any other festival then why Ramzan only? Do terrorists and Pakistan really respect Ramzan? Do they even understand the meaning for Ramzan? For them Ramzan is the best opportunity to kill Indians as these “foolish Indians” resort to “Ramzan ka ceasefire” time and again refusing to learn nothing even from their own past follies! If they had really respected Ramzan then they would never have killed children, women, girls, soldiers in most cowardly manner after kidnapping them at gun point and then first torturing them and then finally killing them!
                                      “Ramzan ka ceasefire” was nothing but the “biggest betrayal” by BJP and PDP of our brave soldiers like Aurangzeb Khan by exposing them to being killed most ruthlessly by terrorists and Pakistani soldiers for whom Ramzan is the best time to kill Indians as the most “stupid Indian leaders” “most foolishly” trust Pakistan time and again refusing to learn anything from past betrayals! Just withdrawing support to PDP won’t wash off the stained hands of BJP which gave a free license to Pakistan and terrorists to kill our soldiers in the name of “Ramzan” knowing fully well that just like a dog can never give up barking similarly Pakistan and terrorists trained by Pakistan would never give up attacking Indian soldiers and people and killing them most mercilessly after brutally torturing them!
                                          But still I welcome it hoping that from now onwards they will never again resort to this “shameless ceasefire sham” and give unfettered license to Pakistan and terrorists trained and armed by Pakistan to kill our soldiers and citizens most mercilessly without being hounded by our soldiers as their hands are tied by BJP in power in Centre in name of “Ramzan ka ceasefire”! Which Indian felt happy to watch how in Modi’s term as PM, our soldiers were attacked by crowd incited by traitors, terrorists and Pakistan and still they had to tolerate everything quietly as Centre didn’t give them orders to fire on stonepelters? Stone pelting became legalised in Kashmir!
                                         If BJP will speak lies hundred times that will never become a truth and we have seen time and again how this third rated “Ramzan ka ceasefire sham” stood exposed in Vajpayee’s term as PM and now again in Modi’s term as PM! Will they next year again resort to “Ramzan ka ceasefire”? I can’t say as I am neither a spokesperson of BJP nor do I hold any brief for BJP nor am I linked to BJP even remotely in any manner!
                                 But it is high time and now they should also stop fooling the people by first watching the killing of our soldiers and armless children and people living close to border areas for one month in the “killing month” of Ramzan which leaders like insane person ore deliberately like cheaters  call it a “sacred month” in which Pakistan and terrorists must be given a chance to reform in the name of “Give peace one more chance”! BJP’s image will not stand enhanced by just withdrawing support! It will have to ensure that it never again compromise the life and safety of our soldiers and citizens in the name of “Ramzan ceasefire sham”!
                                     Which country allows stone pelters to attack soldiers fearlessly? India! Which country ensures that cases against more  than 10,000 stone pelters are withdrawn so that they again resort to stone pelting? India! Which country ensures that soldiers of Jammu and Kashmir who go on leave are not given any security and allowed to be killed by terrorists and Pakistani soldiers and instead ensures spending of more than Rs 560 crore on separatists Hurriyat leaders? India!
                                            Which country ensures that flags of Pakistan are waved openly in Kashmir and yet no action is taken against them? India! Which country ensures that people of Kashmir attack soldiers while they are fighting terrorists and yet they are not killed? India! Which country ensures that FIR are lodged against soldiers because of which their parents have to go to Supreme Court and fight long grueling legal battle insteadof lodging FIR against those who attack soldiers without any provocation? India!
                                      BJP cannot just wash its hands off by saying that Mehbooba was the CM who was controlling everything and taking all the decisions unilaterally! Mehbooba could have done nothing without BJP’s tacit support which people are not fool that they can’t see through! No state government can take any decision concerning the safety of citizens and national security without any permission from the Centre!
                                  BJP has clearly faltered on it since last three years ever since it signed up to “power sharing agreement” in J&K! Now taking into account the irrefutable fact that the ceasefire sham stands completely exposed in J&K, one hopes that at least now BJP will wake up from its “intentional deepest slumber” and start taking all decisions from now keeping our supreme national interests always in mind and never allowing any compromise of any kind on it under any circumstances! Am I asking too much?
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh   
Coming straight to the nub of the matter, let me begin at the very beginning by first and foremost pointing out that in a landmark judgment with far reaching consequences that will benefit those prisoners who are kept in solitary confinement, the Uttarakhand High Court delivered a landmark judgment in the case of State of Uttarakhand v 1. Mehtab s/o Tahir Hassan 2. Sushil @Bhura s/o Gulab Singh Criminal Reference No. 1 of 2014 on April 27, 2018 in 99 pages wherein it held that the practice to keep the convict in custodial segregation/solitary confinement before the exhaustion of his constitutional, legal and fundamental rights is unconstitutional. It thus abolished the practice of keeping death row convicts in isolation immediately after the sentence is pronounced, adding that solitary confinement was an “anarchic and cruel practice which amounts to torture and can cause immense pain, agony and anxiety” to inmates. I am sure that this landmark judgment will receive utmost respect not just from lower courts and high courts but also from Supreme Court which is the top court in our country! This landmark judgment must be studied by every person who has even the slightest of interest in law and legal reforms.

                                           While craving for the exclusive indulgence of esteemed readers, it must be informed here that the Uttarakhand High Court in an exemplary and landmark judgment has very rightly held in para 99 that, “This practice to keep the convict in custodial segregation/solitary confinement before the exhaustion of his constitutional, legal and fundamental rights is without authority of law. It will amount to additional punishment. It also amounts to torture and violative of his basic human rights.” The Bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh commendably held in para 100 of the landmark judgment that,  “Accordingly, we abolish the practice adopted by the jail authorities, by segregating a convict sentenced to death, immediately after the confirmation of sentence by the High Court, being unconstitutional. The convict shall not be segregated/isolated till the sentence of death has become final, conclusive and indefeasible which cannot be annulled or voided by any judicial or constitutional procedure. The period to keep a convict sentenced to death in segregation/isolation should be for the shortest possible time i.e. 2-3 days. The appellants shall not be kept in segregation till they are found to be “prisoners sentenced to death”, in view of the law discussed hereinabove.”   

                                  For esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, it must also be informed here that the Bench also held that, “This should be done only after the convict has exhausted all the possible options to the highest levels including an appeal in the Supreme Court as well as mercy petition to the President.” The Bench also minced no words in making it absolutely clear that, “The practice was in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees protection of life and personal liberty and Article 20(2) which says that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.” It held that isolating the convict was an “additional punishment” and amounts to “torture and violation of his basic human rights”.

                                        Going forward, the Bench also held that, “This practice to keep the convict in solitary confinement before the exhaustion of his constitutional, legal and fundamental rights is without authority of law.” According to the Supreme Court guidelines on various procedures before executing a death convict, solitary or single cell confinement prior to rejection of the mercy petition by the President is unconstitutional. It must be followed in letter and spirit.

                                           It would be pertinent to mention here that the directions of the court came while hearing an appeal by Sushil Singh and Mehtab Hussain who were sentenced to death by a lower court in Dehradun in 2014 for the murder and rape of a 55-year-old woman in the district and had challenged the death sentence. They had also been convicted under Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act, which prescribes life imprisonment for a person who commits an IPC offence punishable with a 10-year imprisonment or more against a person for the reason of them being a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe community. Additionally, the State Government had filed criminal reference for confirmation of death sentence imposed on the convicts.

                                   As it turned out, during the hearing, the Uttarakhand High Court opined that the ingredients of 3(2)(v) of the Act “were lacking from the very beginning and the prosecution has not led any evidence to prove this charge.” It, however, opined that the case would nevertheless fall into the category of “rarest of rare cases”. In concluding so, the court pointed out that, “The instant case would fall in the category of the rarest of rare case. The appellants have caused as many as 10 injuries to the deceased. They have mutilated the private parts of the deceased. Injury No. 8 itself was sufficient to cause death of the deceased. Though the instant case is based on the circumstantial evidence but the chain is complete. It is a case of rape and brutal murder of the deceased.”        
                                       Truth be told, we see that at present, prisons in Uttarakhand and UP follow the Uttar Pradesh Jail Manual according to which every convict under sentence of death is to be confined in a cell apart from all other prisoners and is to be placed by day and by night under the charge of a special guard. He is kept in solitary confinement till he is acquitted or pardoned. The convict is only permitted half an hour in the morning and in the evening to occupy the verandah in front of his cell.

                                  By the way, after confirmation of the death penalty, the High Court looked into the procedure adopted by the State post such confirmation. Referring to the Uttar Pradesh Jail Manual, the High Court noted that every convict awarded death sentence is to be confined in a cell apart from all other prisoners and is to be placed under the watch of a special guard. Further, he is to be allowed only half an hour twice a day out of his cell, and needs to be handcuffed during this time.

                                                       Be it noted, it also pointed out that, “The UP Jail Manual also lays down that a warder shall not allow any person to go near or communicate with the convicts, except the Superintendent and prescribed authorities. Under the U.P. Jail Manual, the prisoner is supposed to be in isolation for more than 23 hours a day. This is against the Nelson Mandela Rules. He has no contact with outside world. He is kept in solitary confinement till he is acquitted or pardoned.” It then referred to several researches and precedents on the subject to note the psychological impact of such confinement observing, “There is no scientific reason why the convict sentenced to death should be kept in isolation for indefinite period till he exhausts all his constitutional and legal remedies. It causes immense pain, agony and anxiety to the condemned convict. It is violative of Articles 20(2) and 21 of the Constitution of India. A man, even sentenced to death, has certain privileges and rights which cannot be denied to him due to colonial mindset. The provisions of U.P. Jail Manual are anarchic, cruel and insensitive.” 
                                        Needless to say, the Bench made it a point to underscore that law should be humane and reformative and no purpose would be achieved by keeping the convict in segregation for an indefinite period. Citing United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which are universally acknowledged minimum standards for the management of prison facilities and treatment of prisoners, the Uttarakhand High Court Bench also sought to make it clear that solitary confinement should be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort. It should not be used every now and then.

                                    Simply put, the Bench observed that keeping a convict in an isolated cell has psychiatric impact on him and could affect his health. The court while citing studies also pointed out that, “It causes him heart palpitations (awareness of strong and/or rapid heartbeat while at rest), diaphoresis (sudden excessive sweating), weight loss and sometimes diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremulousness (shaking), feeling cold, aggravation of pre-existing medical problems, anxiety, ranging from feelings of tension to full blown panic attacks, persistent low level of stress, irritability or anxiousness, fear of impending 96 death, panic attacks, depression, varying from low mood to clinical depression, emotional flatness/blunting – loss of ability to have any ‘feelings’, emotional ability (mood swings), hopelessness, social withdrawal; loss of initiation of activity or ideas; apathy; lethargy, major depression, anger, ranging from irritability to full blown rage, irritability and hostility, poor impulse control, outbursts of physical and verbal violence against others, self and objects, unprovoked anger sometimes manifesting as rage, cognitive disturbances, ranging from lack of concentration to confusional states, short attention span, poor concentration, poor memory, confused thought processes; disorientation, perceptual distortions, ranging from hypersensitivity to hallucinations, hypersensitivity to noises and smells, distortions of sensation (e.g. walls closing in), disorientation in time and space, depersonalization/derealisation, hallucinations affecting all five senses, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory (e.g. hallucinations of objects or people appearing in the cell or hearing voices when no one is actually speaking), paranoia and psychosis, ranging from obsessional thoughts to full blown psychosis, recurrent and persistent thoughts (ruminations) often of a violent and vengeful character (e.g. directed against prison staff), paranoid ideas – often persecutory, psychotic episodes or states: psychotic depression, schizophrenia, self-harm and suicide etc.”     

                                       All said and done, this landmark judgment is a real eye opener! At the risk of repetition, it must be said again that this landmark judgment by Uttarakhand High Court really not just deserves unlimited appreciation but also deserves to be emulated not just by lower courts but also by All High Courts and Supreme Court also. I am sure that this landmark judgment will certainly always get the respect that it deserves and will be emulated by all courts from now onwards!    

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.
It has to be stated at the very outset that in a landmark judgment with far reaching consequences, the Supreme Court on May 6, 2018 in Nandkumar & Anr v The State of Kerala & Ors in Criminal Appeal No. 597 of 2018  arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 4488 of 2017 held that an adult couple has a right to live together without marriage. They cannot be stopped from exercising their right by anyone. The decision came while asserting that a 20-year-old Kerala woman, whose marriage had been annulled, could choose whom she wanted to live with.
                                        As it turned out, the Bench of the Apex Court held that, “It would not be out of place to mention that ‘live-in relationship’ is now recognized by the Legislature itself and they had found its place under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.” The Supreme Court recently set aside a Kerala High Court order that entrusted custody of a major girl to her father, observing that she has freedom of choice as to with whom she wants to live. This landmark judgment was very rightly welcomed widely in the legal circles and legal fraternity!
                                        It would be pertinent to mention here that the observations came while the Apex Court was hearing a plea filed by one Nanda Kumar against a Kerala High Court order annulling his marriage with Thushara on the ground that he had not attained the legal age of marriage. It must be noted here that Prohibition of Child Marriage Act states the age of 18 for girls and 21 for boys for marriage. Nanda Kumar who had approached the court turned 21 on May 30 in 2018.
                                         We thus see here that the girl Thushara had eloped with a boy Nanda Kumar who was not of marriageable age (21), though was of major age. The father of the girl filed a habeas corpus plea, upon which the Kerala High Court took note of the age of the boy. It also observed that there was no evidence to show that a valid marriage was solemnized between the parties and that Marriage certificate issued by the local authority was also not produced. The Kerala High Court then entrusted custody of Thushara to her father after noting that she was not Nanda Kumar’s “lawfully wedded” wife.   
                                    Be it noted, the boy Nanda Kumar promptly approached the Supreme Court contending that since the girl is admittedly a minor, she has the right to live wherever she wants to or move as per her choice and the High Court could not have entrusted the girl to her father. The Bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan of the Supreme Court agreed with these contentions made. The Bench then observed that the marriage is not a void marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, and, at the most, the marriage would be a voidable marriage.
                                       Going forward, the Bench further observed that, “For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that both appellant No. 1 and Thushara are major. Even if they were not competent to enter into wedlock (which position itself is disputed), they have right to live together even outside wedlock. It would not be out of place to mention that ‘live-in relationship’ is now recognized by the Legislature itself which has found its place under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.” The Bench also quoted relevant observations made in Hadiya case including this observation made by Justice Chandrachud in his concurring opinion: “The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of a super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or the egotism of the father.” The Bench also said while allowing the appeal that, “We make it clear that the freedom of choice would be of Thushara (the Girl) as to whom she wants to live.”  
                                      Needless to say, the Apex Court emphasized due importance to the right of choice of an adult person which the Constitution accords to an adult person. In its concluding part, the Bench of Apex Court very rightly held that, “It may be significant to note that in so far as Thushara is concerned, she has expressed her desire to be with appellant No. 1. Accordingly, we allow this appeal and set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court. However, since Thushara has not appeared as she was not made party in these proceedings, while setting aside the directions of the High Court entrusting the custody of Thushara to respondent No. 4, we make it clear that the freedom of choice would be of Thushara as to with whom she wants to live.”
                                  All said and done, this landmark judgment now makes it absolutely clear that adult couple have every right to live together even without marriage. They cannot be denied permission to live together just because they are not married. This landmark judgment will act as a beacon of hope to all those couples whose parents and relatives don’t want them to stay together at any cost and under any circumstances.
                                        It will also give them a legal cover with full sanctity and will always be cited by them whenever any of them are harassed by their parents or their relatives to prevent them from staying together! It will certainly not be an exaggeration from any angle if I say this with full responsibility that it is a very well written judgment and it has ensured that the freedom of adult couples to live together is protected always under all circumstances! This is exactly what makes this landmark judgment so special from all angles!  
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I belong to no political party nor do I enjoy any kind of proximity to any political party. So whatever observations that I am making here are entirely my own and not influenced by any political affiliation of any kind. It needs no Albert Einstein to conclude that BJP will be wiped out in West UP and UP in the upcoming General Elections in 2019!
                                     Take it from me in writing that BJP will be wiped out not just in West UP but in whole of UP in the coming elections. Even all over the country the election prospects of BJP stands on a very weak wicket! BJP has always projected itself as a “party with a difference” and one who never indulges in “appeasement of any kind of anyone”!
                                      But what is the ground reality? BJP has been indulging in the worst kind of appeasement not of Muslims but of terrorists, traitors and Pakistan by declaring unilateral ceasefire with them in the name of Ramzan! Which nationalist Indian will ever tolerate or accept this? We saw earlier Vajpayee who is our former PM indulging in it by unilaterally declaring ceasefire in 2000 but had to call it off in November 2000 six months after terrorist violence increased. Vajpayee was ultimately voted out of power!
                                         Ever since Modi has declared Ramzan ceasefire, we have seen how Pakistan has increased firing in border areas  forcing more than lakh people to leave their home and migrate to other places! Not just this, our soldiers are daily facing bullets and they cannot undertake any operations against terrorists as Centre has declared ceasefire! Which nationalist Indian will ever still vote for BJP and approve such an act of treachery of our brave soldiers who are repeatedly being killed by those against whom Centre has tied the hands of our soldiers by halting all operations and giving them time to have free lunch?
                                    Which nationalist will vote for BJP who with active collaboration of PDP in Kashmir has allowed cases to be withdrawn against more than 10,000 stone pelters who have now gone berserk which has resulted in killing of many innocent people and tourists? Which nationalist will tolerate Kashmir police registering cases against soldiers for defending themselves while not taking any action against stone pelters who without any provocation start attacking soldiers and damage not just vehicles but also their uniform and beat them and still Centre allows criminal cases to be withdrawn against them freely as we saw just recently and allows cases to be lodged against soldiers?   
                                               As if this is not enough, Centre has by its acts has made it clear that it is a copycat of Congress in several ways. As for instance, it has not imposed monogamy on religion other than Hindus. It was Nehru who commendably imposed monogamy on Hindus only. But no other PM till now including BJP has imposed monogamy on people of other religions.
                                        It was Nehru who created a bench in Lucknow just 200 km away from Allahabad way back in 1948 but BJP has only behaved as a blind follower of Congress and in its four year term at Centre BJP has not allowed a single bench to be set up in any corner of UP! Yogi Adityanath as MP in 1998 had demanded high court bench for Gorakhpur but after becoming Chief Minister in March 2017 till now in June 2018 he has taken no step of any kind to create a high court bench in Gorakhpur or in any other place in any part of UP! Lucknow has just 12 districts under its jurisdiction and West UP has 26 districts. The area of Lucknow bench is just 62,000 square km but area of West UP is 98,933 square km.
                                   No wonder that BJP lost in Gorakhpur and Phulpur! Just setting up AIIMS at Gorakhpur could not ensure BJP’s victory. It has to be accompanied by setting up of more high court benches as the 230th report of Law Commission of India had recommended in 2009! But BJP is just not prepared to accept this unpalatable truth at any cost and under any circumstances!
                                      Most recently we saw how BJP again lost miserably in Noorpur and Kairana seats in West UP. This despite the fact that nearly all top BJP leaders including UP CM Yogi Adityanath himself campaigned for BJP in West UP. But lawyers of West UP of 22 districts assembled with President  and General Secretary of different Bar Associations leading them  and showed black flags and shouted slogans against BJP for not setting up high court bench in West UP and gave the slogan of “No bench, no vote”! This set the script for BJP’s defeat apart from all opposition parties coming together which too played a role! But again BJP is not ready to accept it! 
                         But what is most shocking is that still BJP is not prepared to learn any lessons from it. We all saw how PM Narendra  Modi too made grand announcements for West UP by opening 14 lane highway connecting Delhi and Meerut in West UP by which distance between the two cities and other places would be covered in much less time in which more than lakhs and crores of rupees have been spent and pompously being accorded a grand welcome by people in Baghpat in West UP and in Delhi highway while he was there as Chief Guest! But did the huge crowd turn into votes? No, because the BJP does not favour setting up of even one bench in West UP by which the litigants from West UP would be saved from travelling more than 700-800 km on an average all the way to Allahabad many times without reservation whole night and spend huge money in hiring lawyer, staying expenses and other expenses which could have been avoided if West UP had a bench as Justice Jaswant Singh Commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Jaswant Singh had categorically recommended way back in late 1970s even though on its recommendations benches were created for Aurangabad in Maharashtra which already had benches at Nagpur and Panaji, Jalpaiguri in West Bengal which already had a bench at Port Blair for just about 3 lakh people and at Madurai in Tamil Nadu!
                                       Still see what BJP did! It ensured one more bench for Maharashtra at Kolhapur for just 6 districts while not approving a single bench for 26 districts in West UP who even went on strike to protest this worst kind of discrimination! BJP followed Congress who in 2012 created 2 more benches for Karnataka for just 4 and 8 districts at Dharwad and Gulbarga but not a single bench for West UP or any other part of UP! This despite the fact that it is UP which owes for maximum pending cases which is more than 10 states put together and which is among the largest states, has maximum population more than 22 crore as CM Yogi keeps declaring time and again, maximum MPs, maximum MLAs, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum cities more than 700 and maximum crime to the extent that former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon had slammed it as “rape and crime capital of India”!
                                    Here again it is West UP which owes for more than half of the total pending cases of UP but still has no bench of high court even after more than 70 years of independence as Centre led by PM Narendra Modi had assured the lawyers in Allahabad that no bench would be created without their consent! So we see no change in status quo even though BJP eminent leaders like Union Minister Rajnath Singh, Gen VK Singh , Satyapal Singh, Mahesh Sharma and others had repeatedly assured that if BJP government is formed in UP and Centre, a bench in high court would be created in West UP soon! But till now we see no concrete action being taken and only ludicrous excuses are being offered on the table like Supreme Court will decide on it!
                                  As per the Section 51 of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, the Centre can create a high court bench in any of these 3 states – UP, Bihar and J&K directly by bringing it up in Parliament. Centre does not need any recommendation from State Government or the Chief Justice as has been very wrongly propagated for many decades! What a national disgrace that these very 3 states – Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar keep on grabbing the national news headlines for all the wrong reasons as crime incidents keep multiplying very rapidly and what is worst is Centre’s stupid and crazy determination to not allow a single more bench in all these 3 states!
                                    How can the people of West UP in particular still vote for BJP? No wonder, they have lost the elections in both the seats in West UP! Still they are not appearing serious!
                                      It is only when they are wiped out in West UP and a major part of UP that the party leadership will then wake up from its deep slumber, do some introspection and do some damage control on it! But the damage done would by then become irreversible for which the BJP top brass including the PM Narendra Modi and BJP national President Amit Shah would be squarely responsible! They can’t run away from it!
                                        When Allahabad high court is biggest court in not just India but in whole of Asia and also one of the oldest who completed 150 years in 2016 still why it has just one bench and that too so close to Allahabad? Why the high court and benches of 8 states and even Lahore high court in Pakistan is nearer to West UP as compared to Allahabad and yet why no bench is being created here? BJP is taking West UP and UP for granted as it won a landslide victory in 2017 in UP for which it won accolades even from the US  President Donald Trump!
                                    Truth be told, this has led BJP to complacency and inept handling of burning issues! This in turn has ensured repeated defeats for BJP in the by elections! Yet it is just not prepared to learn any appropriate lesson from it nor is it taking any steps to control the damage done!
                                         It  will certainly pay heavily for this for which it cannot blame anyone else but its ownself as it failed to fulfill the tall promises like creating a high court bench in West UP which it promised if voted to power in Centre and in UP! Even God cannot ensure BJP’s victory at least in West UP if a high court bench is not created soon in any of the 26 districts of West UP! I bet it that BJP will hundred percent be wiped out in the upcoming elections in 2019 if it fails even now to take any substantial steps soon like creating more benches in UP and in particular for West UP!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.