Supreme Court delivers ‘complete justice’ to US-based Indian’s children

June 1st, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by admin  

By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) Any idea what a moneyed man in collusion with policemen can do in India? Ask the son and daughter of a US-based Indian who were dragged to court, beaten up and one of them declared failed repeatedly in examinations at their medical college in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of the capital. Even diplomatic efforts initiated by the White House were in vain. The story of the siblings’ harassment was brought to a halt only after the Supreme Court intervened with one of its rarely invoked constitutional powers.

The apex court early this week used Article 142, mandating it to do “complete justice”, to end the vicious round of persecution and prosecution of the two by the authorities of Santosh Medical College along with the police.

The 18-page ruling of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta was pronounced Tuesday but delivered Thursday, effectively halting litigation against the siblings.

The story relates to Manish Kumar and his sister Monica Kumar, both US citizens. They are the children of Narendra Kumar, who works as professor and medical director of the California-based Neonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU].

Narendra Kumar got both his California-born children admitted to the private college in Ghaziabad in 1996 after paying a heavy capitation fee of nearly $100,000 besides paying another sum of Rs.120,000 as hostel fee and security money for a year.

Additionally, he also gave a loan of Rs.2.5 million to P. Mahalingam, chairman of the trust running the college, against a mere handwritten slip from the latter.

The persecution of Kumar’s children by the college authorities began in 2000 when they were on the verge of getting their MBBS degrees and he demanded the return of his loan and moved a Ghaziabad court for it.

From July 2000, Monica was declared unsuccessful repeatedly - at least thrice in various subjects - and was denied permission to take crucial examinations for securing the degree.

This was despite her securing up to 70 percent marks when independent experts, on the directions of the Allahabad High Court, checked her answer scripts in the courtroom.

Yet the college authorities refused to abide by the high court’s various orders to declare her as passed and let her take subsequent examinations. They also made her run to the high court umpteen times for implementation of the court’s orders.

As Kumar renewed efforts to secure the money he had lent and managed to get back five post-dated cheques worth Rs.500,000 each at the intervention of the Ghaziabad senior superintendent of police in February 2003, the persecution grew vicious by the day.

Mahalingam allegedly got Monica and Manish severely beaten up by Anil Somani, the erstwhile in-charge of Ghaziabad’s Vijay Nagar police station. Incidentally, Somani’s daughter too was a medical student in Mahalingam’s college.

Mahalingam also got at least three criminal cases registered against them at the police station through various college staffers, including his own security guard and the college principal, between 2003 and 2004. This landed Kumar’s children behind bars for over 15 days and made them run around various courts, including the Allahabad High Court, to get the criminal proceedings against them quashed.

Unable to bear the harassment, Kumar, as a US citizen, even wrote to American President George W. Bush, prompting the White House to ask the State Department to look into the matter and resolve the legal tangle through diplomatic efforts.

But even the government could do precious little to resolve it.

Finally, when the Allahabad High Court refused to quash the criminal proceedings against the two, they moved the apex court.

The apex court, however, examined what it termed “the entire chequered history of the legal battle” and was able to see through the whole issue.

Unable to resolve the complicated legal web woven by the college authorities and their police cohorts through its normal powers, the apex court had to resort to its extraordinary power under Article 142.

The court said: “Having regard to the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, we are of the opinion that it is a fit case where we should exercise our discretionary jurisdiction under Article 142 of the constitution to bring the dispute between the parties to an end and to do complete justice.”

(Rana Ajit can be contacted at rana.ajit@ians.in)

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