Personal liberty is sacrosanct

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | Updated: May 23 2012, 08:29am hrs
Tariff hike in Rajasthan

The Supreme Court in the case of DSR Steel (P) Ltd vs State of Rajasthan has upheld the Appellate Tribunal for Electricitys order that allowed tariff revisions for industries and other consumers under an incentive scheme in Rajasthan. In this case, the Vidyut Vitran Nigams of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer had separately sought a revision of tariffs from the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission. Objections of several industries and some hundred individuals related to billing, reforms in the power sector, non-determination of the tariff of Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam from whom the discoms purchase electricity and the poor performance of these state utilities were heard before such revision. The industries argued against the revision, saying that they had made huge investments based on the incentive scheme prevailing then continuing for at least three years. The commission rejected the arguments in June 2006 by directing that the revised tariff will become effective from January 1, 2005, and would remain in force till the same is amended by it. The review against the tariff revision was also dismissed by the Commission. The industries brought the issue before the tribunal, which, in November 2006, concurred with the view taken by the Commission that the incentive scheme was applicable only up to March 31, 2007, or till the Commission issued a tariff order, whichever was earlier. On appeal, the Supreme Court held the issues decided by the Commission and the tribunal should not be reopened unless there is a substantial question of law involved.

Steel billets for Al Jazeera

In a dispute between Oman-based Al Jazeera Steel Products Company SAOG and MID India Power & Steel Ltd, the Supreme Court has appointed its former judge, Justice SN Variava, as the sole arbitrator for the resolution of the dispute over the quality of prime alloy steel billets. It said that that the disputes between the companies were bona fide, live and not belated. In this case, Al Jazeera had entered into a sale purchase contract in June 2008 with the Indian firm for the supply of 2,000 million tonnes (MT) of steel billets of specific chemical composition and physical specifications. Upon unloading the containers of 243.2 MT of billets, the foreign firm found that the goods were of sub-standard quality. Al Jazeera requested the exporter to take back the rejected goods and refund the money. When all efforts to rectify the complaint failed, the Oman-based company invoked the arbitration clause and nominated the judge as the arbitrator. However, the Indian company argued that the application for appointment of an arbitrator was not maintainable as the dispute about the defective goods is a belated attempt by Al Jazeera to escape liability for payment of price for the goods supplied.

Detention under National Security Act

Personal liberty is the most precious and prized right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and it cant be taken away without following the due procedure of law, the Supreme Court has ruled, laying down fresh guidelines on invoking provisions for preventive detention against a person already in jail. Holding that there is no prohibition in law to pass detention order in respect of a person already in custody for a criminal case, the apex court said that the personal liberty of a person is sacrosanct and state authority cannot be permitted to take it away without following the procedure prescribed by law, otherwise it would be violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution. However, it said that such an order could be passed only if this was necessary to prevent him from indulging in activities prejudicial to public order. It allowed Manipur native Huidrom Konungjao Singhs appeal against the state governments decision to invoke the provisions of preventive detention under the National Security Act against his son Huidrom Shantikumar, lodged in judicial custody in a murder case. While the District Magistrate of Imphal West had passed the detention order under the Act, the direction was upheld by the Gauhati High Court.