9th Episode of SCC Online Weekly Rewind featuring Prachi Bhardwaj, Associate Editor bringing you the most important and interesting stories from the field of law is out now! Check out the link below.

Supreme Court

COVID-19| 12 Member National Task force for allocation of Oxygen to States

Hospitals all across the nation are facing severe shortage of oxygen leading to several deaths. To curb this, the Court has constituted a 12-member National Task Force to formulate a methodology for the scientific allocation of oxygen to the States and UTs. 

The establishment of the Task Force that consists of experts from across the country will provide the Union Government with inputs and strategies for meeting the challenges of the pandemic on a transparent and professional basis, in the present and in future.  

Read more: COVID-19| National Task Force for allocation of oxygen to States: Who are the experts and what will they do? Here’s all you need to know

COVID-19| Limit arrests; release prisoners on parole

The Court has ordered decongestion of prisons by limiting arrests and releasing inmates on parole. There are over 4 lakh prisoners lodges in the Indian prisons and the Court said that

“From limiting arrests to taking care of Covid-19 Patients, there is a requirement for effective management of pandemic from within the prison walls so as to defeat this deadly virus.”

Read more: Limit arrests, release prisoners on parole: Read Supreme Court directions on containing COVID-19 spread in overcrowded prisons

Maratha Reservation Unconstitutional

A 5-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has quashed the much in debate Maratha Reservation and has held that the Maharashtra State Reservation Act, 2018 as amended in 2019 granting 12% and 13% reservation for Maratha community in addition to 50% social reservation is not covered by exceptional circumstances as contemplated by Constitution Bench in Indra Sawhney[1]’s case. 

The bench also held that there was no need to revisit the 9-judge bench judgment in Indira Sawhney case that fixed the cap of 50% reservation.  

Read more: Maratha Reservation unconstitutional| The timeline of the case and the 3 questions that received unanimous opinions of all 5 judges

No restraint on media reporting on court proceedings

the Supreme Court has refused to restrain media from reporting on Court Proceedings and has said that it is a “staunch proponent” of freedom of press. The order came after Election Commission of India sought a direction restraining the media from reporting on court proceedings after Madras High Court made certain oral remarks attributing responsibility to the EC for the present surge in the number of cases of COVID-19, due to their failure to implement appropriate COVID-19 safety measures and protocol during the elections. 

Read more: Madras High Court’s remarks harsh, metaphor inappropriate but can’t be expunged; Supreme Court junks EC’s plea seeking restrain on Media reporting Court proceedings

Schools can’t profit from unutilised facilities

In order to obviate avoidable litigation by over 36,000 schools in the State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court has issued “general uniform direction” of deduction of 15 per cent of the annual school fees for the academic year 2020-2021 in lieu of unutilised facilities/activities. 

Due to complete lockdown the schools were not allowed to open for substantially long period and Hence, it was noticed that the school Management must have saved overheads and recurring cost on various items such as petrol/diesel, electricity, maintenance cost, water charges, stationery charges, etc and hence, the said deduction was justified.  

Read more: COVID-19| Schools can’t profit from unutilised facilities; Rajasthan Schools to provide 15% deduction of annual fees for academic year 2020-21: Supreme Court

High Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court| COVID-19 Vaccination: Fixing a priority with reference to the ‘financial status’ illegal

In a signification ruling on COVID 19 vaccination, the Chhattisgarh High Court has called the State Government’s decision of fixing a priority with reference to the ‘financial status’ as absolutely illegal and violative of “Right to Life”. 

The State had decided that the third phase vaccination will be given firstly to the poorest among the poor, secondly to the people belonging to the group ‘Below Poverty Line’ and thirdly to the people belonging to the ‘Above Poverty Line’. 

The Court has directed the State to fix a reasonable ratio of allotment of vaccines. 

Read more: [COVID Vaccination] CHH HC│ Fixing a priority with reference to the ‘financial status’ is absolutely illegal; Violates “Right to Life”; State is directed to fix a reasonable ratio of allotment of vaccines

Delhi High Court| Series of directions and orders on COVID-19 crisis gives Delhi a ray of hope

The Delhi High Court has, in a series of orders, issued various directions like curbing hortage of oxygen in the National Capital, Exemption of IGST on imported oxygen concentrators,   structured scheme for unorganised workers, distribution of essential drugs like remdesivir and tocilizumab injections, etc.


Punjab & Haryana High Court| Home delivery of oxygen cylinders

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh govts to consider providing home delivery of oxygen cylinder for those patients who are on oxygen support at home to reduce the burden of health workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more: [COVID-19 surge] P&H HC| “Consider home delivery of Oxygen cylinders for patients who are on oxygen support at home”; HC suggests deploying municipal workers for home delivery of oxygen

Rajasthan High Court| “Deal with COVID-19 crisis on war footing”

Asking the Government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis on war footing, the Rajasthan High Coirt has laid down several directions to curb the shortage of Hospital Beds, Oxygen and essential drugs like Remdesivir 

Read more: ​”Deal with the situation on war footing”; Directions issued to curb beds, oxygen, Remdesivir shortage in Rajasthan

Kerala High Court| ICAI can’t refuse to recognize retirement of CA from a firm

In a landmark judgment regarding right to practice of Chartered Accountants, the Kerala High court has held that ICAI’s decision of not recognising a Chartered Accountant’s retirement from a firm is an unnecessary and unwarranted hindrance to the professional advancement of the professional and offends Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Read more: CAs Right to Practice: Can ICAI refuse to recognize retirement of CA from a firm? HC explains legal position

Bombay High Court| FIR against Sunaina Holey over tweet allegedly creating enmity between Hindus and Muslims quashed

After an FIR was filed against Sunaina Holey with regard to a tweet alleging that it was made with an intention to create hatred and enmity between Hindus and Muslims, the Bombay High Court has held that since there was no disturbance reported immediately after the tweet was posted or even during the course of investigation, the FIR deserves to be quashed. 

The Court also went on to say that the right to express one’s views is a protected and cherished right in our democracy. Merely because the point of view of the Petitioner is extreme or harsh will not make it a hate speech as it is only expressing a different point of view. 

Read more:  “Extreme or harsh opinion is not a hate speech”; HC quashes FIR against Sunaina Holey terming it “hypersensitive and over cautious”


Rules with respect to number of board meetings and filing of forms relaxed

On May 3, 2021, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued a notification whereby the rules in respect of number of board meetings and filing of forms have been relaxed considering the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. 

Read more: MCA offers relaxation in the number of board meetings and filing of forms

Aadhar Details required to avail benefits under Social Security Code 2020

The Ministry of Labour & Employment has issued a notification on May 3, 2021 to enforce Section 142 of the Social Security Code, 2020. The notification mandates to seek the Aadhaar number from the beneficiaries under the Social Security Code, 2020. It is now required to provide Aadhar details for people like employees and unorganised sector workers seeking registration, benefits, availing services or receiving any payment under various schemes under the Social Security Code 2020.  

Read more: Ministry of Labour and Employment to collect Aadhar details from beneficiaries under Social Security Code, 2020


National policy for admission of COVID patients to COVID facilities revised

In a major development, Centre has revised the national policy for admission of COVID patients to various categories of COVID facilities. 

major takeaways are:  

  1. A positive test for COVID-19 virus is not mandatory for admission to a COVID health facility.  
  2. No patient shall be refused admission on the ground that he/she is not able to produce a valid identity card that does not belong to the city where the hospital is located. 
  3. Admissions to hospital will be on need basis only.  
Read more: Union Health Ministry revises National policy for admission of COVID patients to COVID facilities

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