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HC summons defence secretary

Patna, Jan. 18: The high court today directed the defence secretary or his representative to personally appear before it on January 27 in connection with a contempt matter.

A bench of Justice V.N. Sinha passed the direction on a contempt petition filed by Mukesh Kumar, a sepoy of Bihar regiment who was dismissed by the Army terming him an absconder.

The sepoy approached the high courtís single bench against his dismissal from service, which the court restored. Later, the defence ministry filed an appeal before the division bench, which dismissed its appeal. The sepoy again filed a contempt petition, saying that the defence ministry wilfully did not comply with the courtís order. The counsel, appearing for the defence ministry, submitted that it was considering to challenge the high courtís judgment in the Supreme Court.

Assistant solicitor general Raghib Ahsan, appearing for the Centre, sought time to file a reply but the court rejected his plea and asked the defence secretary or his representative to appear before it to explain the reasons for non-compliance. The ministry did not file its showcause despite being given several opportunities by the court.

In another case, a division bench comprising Justice T. Meena Kumari and Justice Gopal Prasad directed the Centre and state governments to file its replies within six weeks on a PIL seeking direction to authorities concerned to increase the length of rail-cum-road bridge connecting Supaul and Forbesganj.

The court also issued notices to the railways and the central water commission in this connection.

The petition filed by Arjun Prasad submitted that the length of the 1.8-km rail-cum-road bridge is too little, leading to submergence of about 80 villages, affecting 70,000 people residing on both sides of the road.

The same division bench adjourned the hearing of a PIL for six weeks filed by estranged JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, seeking direction for conducting speedy trial and monitoring of fodder scam case (RC 63A/96) by the court involving politicians that include former chief minister Lalu Prasad.

A division comprising Justice T. Meena Kumari and Justice Gopal Prasad directed the state government to file its reply within eight weeks on a PIL challenging the provisions of mandatory registration of minority education institutions, which run classes I to VIII, before establishing the same.