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CONSCIENCE

Order, Jharkhand

Though a young entity, Jharkhand High Court perhaps makes more news than many of its counterparts in other states for its many suo motu PILs. But let it not be accused of judicial overreach. In a state where politicians forge, bend and break coalitions at will and bureaucrats in key departments are shunted on whims or expediency, something must stay stable. If the bench meets this benchmark, why not? But the judiciary can only order, not execute. That’s still the state’s job. Here’s a list of high court orders on vital issues this calendar year — the execution is another story

Tainted MLAs:

Jharkhand High Court directed the state government on August 21 to file an affidavit in a PIL on the status of legislators facing criminal cases filed by social watchdog Jharkhand Against Corruption. The court ordered the government to inform the status of criminal cases pending against legislators in the Jharkhand Assembly. According to the social outfit, as many as 59 out of 81 MLAs in the Assembly have pending criminal cases. The state government put the number at 40

‘Ill’ politicalprisoners:

Jharkhand High Court, taking note of media reports on political and other VIPs faking illness all the time and taking refuge in RIMS, ordered their examination by a board of doctors of the military hospital. The PIL, lodged suo motu by the high court on September 9, saw prisoners comfortably ensconced in RIMS with insignificant ailments, being sent back to jail. Former Ranchi mayor Rama Khalko, Menon Ekka (wife of former minister Anosh Ekka), businessman and Congress party leader Niranjan Sharma, suspended IAS Pradeep Kumar, former minister and Shibu Soren aide Nalin Soren and realtor Pawan Kumar Singh had been staying at RIMS, claiming to suffer from headache, chest pain and hypertension

Tourism:

When four persons, including a three-year-old girl, lost their lives following the tumble of their overloaded boat at Ranchi Lake (in picture) on December 15, incidentally none wearing life vests, the high court initiated a suo motu PIL on tourist safety, asking the state about security arrangements where water and adventure sports are carried out. Responding to an ongoing hearing of a PIL filed by one Babloo Kumar, Jharkhand High Court also directed tourism department to construct toilets and drinking water kiosks at Dassam Falls (in picture, far left) and other picnic spots dotting the capital by January 26, 2014

Chit funds:

The high court treated a letter sent by Deoghar District Bar Association as a PIL, which sought the court’s intervention on chit fund companies active in the district. The court ordered the government on September 9 to inform the bench the number of chit fund companies allowed to operate and if they had the necessary licence

Rajya Sabha horse trading:

Jharkhand High Court, since 2012, mounted pressure on the probe of the alleged cash-for-vote scam related to the 2012 Rajya Sabha polls. Finally, well into this year, the CBI filed its chargesheet in the case naming JMM MLA Sita Soren, Shibu Soren’s eldest daughter-in-law, as an accused

Roads and highways:

The high court, hearing a PIL filed by one Sudhir Mahto in December, fixed a phased plan for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to work on revamping highways, especially NH-33 from Barhi to Bahragora that connects the state’s two major cities Ranchi and Jamshedpur

Rape:

Jharkhand High Court, on September 13, came down heavily on the state government for slack action on rape cases pending in lower courts in the wake of the landmark verdict by a Delhi fast-track court that sentenced four convicts of the December 16 gang rape to death row. The court initiated a suo motu PIL on rapes in Jharkhand and ordered the government to specify the number of cases pending and their legal status. Advocate Rajeev Kumar, amicus curiae, told the court that as many as 799 cases of rape were reported in Jharkhand since December 2012 to that day