The most important and eye-catching legal stories of the year 2021. Dive your way through these pertinent decisions into 2022.
Legal Trajectory | DABUS and Artificial Intelligence System an Inventor or not?
Artificial Intelligence Machine, can it be granted a patent for its own invention? Demystifying grant of patent to Artificial Intelligence Machine
Marcus Smith, J. explained exhaustively whether an ‘Artificial Intelligence Machine’ DABUS can be categorized as an inventor and granted patent or not.
“merely inventing something does not result in a patent being granted to the inventor.”
Here’s how DABUS an Artificial Intelligence System was given status of an “Inventor” | Federal Court of Australia’s exhaustive decision on whether a non-human can be named as an inventor
While addressing the question of whether Artificial Intelligence Systems can be an inventor for the purposes of the Patent Act 1990 (Cth), Beach J, expressed that:
If the output of an artificial intelligence system is said to be the invention, who is the inventor? And if a human is required, who? The programmer? The owner? The operator? The trainer? The person who provided input data? All of the above? None of the above? In my view, in some cases it may be none of the above. In some cases, the better analysis, which is consistent with the s 2A object, is to say that the system itself is the inventor. That would reflect the reality. And you would avoid otherwise uncertainty. And indeed that may be the case if the unit embodying the artificial intelligence has its own autonomy. What if it is free to trawl the internet to obtain its own input or training data? What about a robot operating independently in a public space, having its own senses, learning from the environment, and making its own decisions? And what about the more exotic, such as a mobile unit on Mars left to its own devices and not seeking instructions from Earth?
Everything you need to know on why AI Machine can’t be “Inventor”: US District Court rules AI still to reach sophistication to satisfy meaning of inventorship
Leonie M Brinkema, J., observed that,
Congress’s use of the term “individual” in the Patent Act strengthens the conclusion that an “inventor” must be a natural person.
“As technology evolves, there may come a time when artificial intelligence reaches a level of sophistication such that it might satisfy accepted meanings of inventorship. But that time has not yet arrived, and, if it does, it will be up to Congress to decide how, if at all, it wants to expand the scope of patent law.”
Pakistan High Court and Lahore High Court on Virginity Tests
“Virginity tests are invasive, offensive, and discriminatory and blatantly violate the dignity of a woman” – Justice Ayesha A. Malik || Detailed Report
While deliberating upon the writ petitions challenging the use and conduct of ‘virginity tests’ especially “Two-finger Test” and “Hymen Examination” in cases of rape and sexual abuse, Ayesha A. Malik, J., held that the virginity tests, carried out for the purposes of ascertaining the virginity of female rape or sexual abuse victim, is unscientific and has no medical basis, therefore it is of no forensic value in cases of sexual violence. It was further held that the virginity tests offend the personal dignity of the female victim and therefore is against the right to life and right to dignity enshrined in Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.
Pak SC comes down heavily on virginity tests. Holds that dragging sexual history of the rape survivor in a case, by making observations about her body, is unconstitutional
In a significant decision, the 3 Judge Bench of the Court comprising of Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, JJ., while deliberating upon issues revolving around the scientific veracity of virginity tests to ascertain rape and questioning a woman’s sexual history in order to discredit her witness; held that a woman irrespective of her sexual character or reputation, is entitled to equal protection of law. The courts should discontinue the use of painfully intrusive and inappropriate expressions, like “habituated to sex”, “woman of easy virtue”, “woman of loose moral character”, and “non-virgin”, for the alleged rape victims even if they find that the charge of rape is not proved against the accused. Such expressions are unconstitutional and illegal.
Apple: Operating an Illegal Monopoly?
Apple: A monopolist under Federal or State Law? A win for Epic or Apple? Read to know
While issuing a permanent injunction, stating Apple could no longer prohibit developers linking to their own purchasing mechanisms, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, J., held that Epic Games failed to show how Apple Inc. was operating an illegal monopoly.
Snapchat post fiasco
“America’s public schools are nurseries of democracy”- SCOTUS rules in favour of student suspended for her off-campus improper Snapchat posts criticising the school
The Court by an overwhelming majority of 8:1 held that a student’s suspension from school’s cheerleading squad because of her off-campus Snapchat posts expressing her frustration with the school, violates such student’s Freedom of Speech and Expression as enshrined within the First Amendment. The Court observed that while public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the special interests offered by the Mahanoy Area High School are not sufficient to overcome B.L.’s interest in free expression in this case. The majority consisted of John Roberts, CJ., Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barret, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, JJ.
8:1 Majority in Child Slavery Case
Whether Nestlé and Cargill will be liable for child slavery? SCOTUS decides in 8-1 majority ruling
In 8-1 majority, Thomas, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I and II, in which Roberts, CJ., and Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III, in which Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, JJ., joined. Gorsuch, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Alito, J., joined as to Part I, and in which Kavanaugh, J., joined as to Part II. Sotomayor, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Breyer and Kagan, JJ., joined. Alito J. filed a dissenting opinion.
Woman’s choice to Abort
Texas Legislation imposing a “near-complete ban on abortions” gets a green signal as SCOTUS declines to grant any relief on the matter
In a significant decision which can have major repercussions on a woman’s choice to abort in the United States, the full bench of SCOTUS, with a ratio of 5:4, declined to block the Texas law which imposes a near complete ban on abortions. The majority consisted of Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, JJ.
Privacy Claim by Meghan Markle
The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle obtains a significant victory in a privacy claim against Associated Newspapers || Detailed Report
It was a significant victory for the Duchess of Sussex and noted actress Meghan Markle when the Court ruled in her favour while deliberating on the question that whether Associated Newspapers misused her private information and committed breach of her data protection rights with regards to the Letter to her father. It was held that the Duchess had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the Letter would remain private and that The Mail Articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.
Man with autistic disorder expresses desire to engage in sexual relations
To have capacity to decide to have sexual relations with another person, does a person need to understand that the other person must have the capacity to consent to the sexual activity and must in fact consent before and throughout the sexual activity?
While expressing that, the fact that the other person must have the ability to consent to the sexual activity and must in fact consent before and throughout the sexual activity applies to everyone in society, Bench of Lord Briggs, Lady Arden, Lord Burrows, Lord Stephens and Lady Rose, JJ., laid down a very detailed decision on ‘consent’ with respect to sexual relations and the catch in the present matter was the diagnosis of autistic disorder of the appellant.
Liability of Tour Operator
Is tour operator liable for rape of tourist by hotel employee? Read UKSC’s ruling on how to interpret package travel contract
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, while unanimously allowing the appeal held that,
Tours and Travel Company undertook to provide a package holiday at a four-star hotel. The Court stated the same to be an integral part of a holiday of such a standard that hotel staff provide guests with assistance with ordinary matters affecting them at the hotel as part of their holiday experience. It includes guiding guests from one part of the hotel to another. The rape and assault of the appellant amounted to a failure to provide that service with proper care.
Packed Paratha: Do they attract GST? Gujarat AAR decides
Whether various kinds of ‘parathas’ supplied would attract 5% GST in line with ‘khakhra’, plain chapati or ‘roti’? Explained
Emphasizing that ‘Paratha’ is not ready-to-cook products, the Bench of Sanjay Saxena and Arun Richard (Members) held that GST rate of 18% will be applicable.
GST on Hostel Rent? MahaGST decides
Whether activity of providing hostel to students on rent is taxable or not? If yes, under which exemption
The Bench of Rajiv Magoo, Joint Commissioner of Central Tax and T.R. Ramnani, Joint Commissioner of State Tax decided that GST is exempted on Hostel Rent of less than Rs 1000 per day per student.
Major High Court Rulings
‘Eliminating competition in business using writ jurisdiction not permissible’
Whether a competitor can prevent a rival from exercising right to carry on business?
Allahabad High Court reiterated the settled position that in normal course it is not open for a person to seek to prevent a rival from exercising the right to carry on business.
Competition in a trade or business may be subject to restrictions as are permissible and as may be imposed by a law enacted in the interests of the general public. However, independent of any such restriction, a person cannot claim that no other person shall carry on business or trade so as to adversely affect his trade or business.
Publication of Notice of Intended Marriage under Special Marriage Act: Mandatory?
“Cruel, unethical to force present generation to follow 150 yrs old customs, traditions which violate fundamental rights”
Vivek Chaudhary, J., held that while giving notice under Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, it shall be optional for the parties to the intended marriage to make a request in writing to the Marriage Officer to publish or NOT to publish a notice under Section 6 and follow the procedure of objections as prescribed under the Act.
Judicial Magistrate to remain careful while passing Judicial Orders
“If a Judge makes a mistake, then from where will the general public get fair justice”
Allahabad High Court expressed that:
“At the present time, only from the temple of justice like Courts, everyone hopes for right and fair justice.”
Father’s Right on preserved sperm of son
Does a father entail a ‘fundamental right’ on the preserved sperm of his son after his demise? HC answers
Calcutta High Court addressed the issue of whether in the father-son relationship if the father has the fundamental right to the preserved sperm of the son after his demise.
Proper recognition of the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community
Madras HC Judge “removes Lordship’s hat” for framing guidelines for proper recognition of LGBTQIA+ rights, acknowledges “gurus” for pulling him out of darkness of ignorance
Anand Venkatesh, J., issued interim directions for proper recognition of the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and to ensure their safety and security to lead a life of their choice.
POCSO Act: Does it brings in cases where adolescents involved in romantic relations are concerned?
‘High time to amend POCSO Act considering cases where adolescents in grip of their hormones involve in romantic relationship’
Madras High Court while addressing a matter revolving around the POCSO Act expressed that:
“What came to be a law to protect and render justice to victims and survivors of child abuse, can, become a tool in the hands of certain sections of the society to abuse the process of law.”
The scheme of the POCSO Act clearly shows that it did not intend to bring within its scope or ambit, cases of nature where adolescents or teenagers involved in romantic relationships are concerned.
Viewing ‘Child Pornography’ is an offence?
Is there a distinction between a one-time consumer of ‘child pornography’ and someone who distributes and transmits it on a digital domain?
“It is obvious that the moment one steps into digital space, one comes under the surveillance either of the State or those manning the social networking sites. If one is zealous about privacy, the only option is to stay outside such networks. Of course, in the current world, it is not a viable option.”
Exhaustive analysis of an elephant’s bonding with caretaker
While protecting an elephant from psychological wound, HC disallows removal of ‘Lalitha’ from caretaker’s custody
Madras High Court stated that, retention of custody of an Elephant named ‘Lalitha’ to her caretaker with whom she had stayed for almost 20 years and had an emotional bonding observed that,
“Just solutions to legal issues may sometimes lie outside the formal statutory framework. Judges should therefore boldly think outside the box and not feel inhibited or timid.”
Is using of National Flag as a table cloth Sedition?
Gauhati High Court grants bail to the woman accused of willfully dishonouring the National Flag.
“It did not prima facie suggest to be an act to have the affect of subverting the Government by bringing that Government into contempt or hatred or creating disaffection against it.”
Evidentiary value of WhatsApp Messages
Whatsapp messages do not have any evidentiary value in the absence of certificate under S. 65B of Evidence Act
In an interesting case regarding regular bail, Punjab and Haryana High Court held that WhatsApp messages do not have any evidentiary value in the absence of certificate under Section 65B of Evidence Act, 1872.
Publishing a newspaper report regarding sexual assault incident
A Newspaper report about sexual assault incident along with sum and substance of FIR lodged with no disclosure of victim’s name. Will defamation provision under Ss. 500 or 501 IPC be applied on the publisher, editor, etc.?
“…publishing of newspaper report of facts of lodging of an FIR cannot be said to be defamatory, especially when the FIR has been lodged by the victim herself.”
Recommendations of Human Rights Commission are binding on Government, legally enforceable
‘Amend! Make Human Rights Act a Complete Code’, HC suggests to collective wisdom of Parliament
A Full Bench of S. Vaidyanathan, V. Parthiban and M.Sundar, JJ. held that the recommendation of the Human Rights Commission made under Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (“Human Rights Act”) is binding on the Government or the Authority concerned. The Government is under a legal obligation to forward its comments on the Report including the action taken or proposed to be taken to the Commission in terms of sub-clause (e) of Section 18. Therefore, the recommendation of the Human Rights Commission under Section 18 is an adjudicatory order which is legally and immediately enforceable.
Communal Separation at Temple?
Temple shall not be a place for perpetuating communal separation leading to discrimination
Madras High Court observed that, God does not recognize any community. It only recognizes a human being, who goes there to pray.
Cartoonist wanting to express anger, cannot be construed as defamation: Madras HC quashes criminal case against cartoonist, says cannot teach ethics to people
Just like, any other citizen, a cartoonist is also bound by the law and in the form of a cartoon, he cannot defame anyone, this is the settled position of law.
Menace due to Online games
Ban Online Games or not? Read HC’s opinion on not entering into such matters. Is it a policy matter?
Madras High Court while addressing a matter with respect to menace being caused due to online games expressed its opinion whether the Court can ban the same or not.
Attempt to Rape
No disrobing, no penetration; will nudging and putting the victim to ground amount to attempt to rape?
Meghalaya High Court has held that the ingredients that are to be seen existing in an allegation of attempt to rape is that there must be firstly an intention to commit, then preparation to commit it and thirdly, to commit it.
Posthumous child in mother’s womb
A Posthumous child who was still in his mother’s womb while his father passed away, would he be entitled to compassionate appointment on attaining majority under Rules of 1974?
Allahabad High Court addressed an issue with regard to whether a posthumous child is entitled to compassionate appointment under Uttar Pradesh Recruitment of Dependents of Government Servants Dying in Harness Rules, 1974.
Validity of Child Marriage
If a minor girl marries a major of her free will, will such marriage be void or voidable?
Allahabad High Court directed that the minor in the instant case who stated that she married the accused of her free will, be housed in a State facility or shelter home which shall be other than a Nari Niketan or a home meant for delinquents, till she attains the age of eighteen years.
Judiciary a Policy making instrument?
Judiciary – The policy-making instrument on issues relating to marriage conversion and acceptability in terms of personal laws?
Calcutta High Court held that the Judiciary is not the policy-making instrument on issues regarding conversion of marriage in terms of personal laws, though it may sit in Judgment on the validity, the enforceability of any piece of law made by a legislative body.
Artificial Ripening of Fruits
Gauhati High Court considers health hazards; lays down detailed guidelines to ensure chemical-free ripening of fruits
In an interesting case of PIL concerning artificial ripening of fruits, Court stated,
“Although appropriate steps had been taken and authorities are not oblivious to the impending problem, but what has been done till now cannot be said to be adequate or that it had led to the eradication of the problem.”
Maternity leave for Contractual Employees
Whether a contractual woman employee is entitled to avail of maternity leave in case of a surrogate child?
Himachal Pradesh High Court stated that,
“to distinguish between a mother who begets a child through surrogacy and a natural mother, who gives birth to a child, would result in insulting womanhood and the intention of a woman to bring up a child begotten through surrogacy. Motherhood never ends on the birth of the child and a commissioning mother cannot be refused paid maternity leave. A woman cannot be discriminated, as far as maternity benefits are concerned, only on the ground that she has obtained the baby through surrogacy.
Government bungalows are Public property
Jammu and Kashmir High Court directs State to ensure eviction of unauthorised occupants from Government accommodation
The Division Bench of the Court had heard the instant PIL, directed to be registered by the Court on its own motion in terms State of J&K v. Mir Saifullah, CM No.4613 of 2020. The instant petition was regarding unauthorized/ illegal occupation of Government accommodation by the erstwhile allottees in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Child born out of a live-in relationship
Status of Children in a live-in relationship & mother’s decision to recognize fatherhood of child
Kerala High Court held that:
“…woman in a live-in-relationship, acknowledging the biological father of the child, out of such a relationship, will have to be treated as a married woman for the purpose of Juvenile Justice.”
Muslim women’s right to Khula (extra-judicial divorce) revived; Patriarchal decision in K. C. Moyin overruled
Kerala High Court addressed the controversial question regarding rights of Muslim women, i.e. Have Muslim women lost their right to invoke extra-judicial divorce, after the coming into force of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939? A number of women had approached the Court for seeking to validate their extra-judicial divorce by obtaining a declaration to that affect. The Bench expressed,
“These cases speak in abundance about the patriarchal mind-set followed in the Society for decades depriving Muslim women their right to invoke extra-judicial divorce. The above sketch the miseries of women despite the promise guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”
CAs Right to Practice
Can ICAI refuse to recognize retirement of CA from a firm?
Kerala High Court pronounced a landmark judgment regarding right to practice of Chartered Accountants. The Bench held,
“The decision of ICAI not to recognize and record the retirement of the petitioner from ‘M/s. R. Kumar and Associates’ will therefore cause unnecessary and unwarranted hindrance to the professional advancement of the petitioner. It will offend the fundamental right of the petitioner to practice a profession freely, guaranteed to him under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.”
Little girls are worshipped in our country, but cases of pedophilia are increasing”: HC says it’s time to strictly stop this kind of crime
The victim/female small child experience sexual abuse once tend to be more vulnerable to abuse in adult life. Healing is slow and systematic. In such a situation, if the right decision is not taken from the Court at the right time, then the trust of a victim/common man will not be left in the judicial system. This is the time to strictly stop this kind of crime.
Unnatural Sex by Husband
“Sexual intercourse by husband would not constitute an offence of rape even if it was by force or against her wish”; Can a wife initiate proceedings against her husband for unnatural sex under S. 377 IPC?
“…charge framed under Section 377 of the IPC cannot be said to be erroneous at the stage of framing of charge, especially, in terms of Section 377 of the IPC where dominant intention of the offender is to derive unnatural sexual satisfaction by repeatedly inserting any object in the sex organ of the victim and consequently deriving sexual pleasure, such act would constitute as carnal intercourse against the order of nature and such act would attract the ingredient of offence under Section 377 of the IPC.”
Is marital rape a form of cruelty? Can it be a ground for divorce? HC examines
Treating wife’s body as something owing to husband and committing sexual act against her will is nothing but marital rape.
Right to be Forgotten
Madras HC decides whether redacting names of acquitted persons from court record is possible
The peculiarity of seeking redaction of the name of accused persons who have been acquitted, has essentially gained significance due to the development of science and technology that has virtually brought everything under the sky to the fingertips of any person who may have access to the internet. The search engines provide information about any person and whatever information is available in the “Cloud” can be accessed by anyone.
Astrology v. Science
Can Courts direct citizens to stop believing in astrology? Read Madras HC’s opinion
“…there are some matters in which exact answers may not be available as the only known intelligent life form in the universe endeavours to grapple with the unknown.”
Girl Indulging in Carnal Activities with a boy
In India, a girl would not indulge in carnal activities with boys just for enjoyment, unless the same is backed by some future promise; Court denies bail in allegation of rape
“…a boy who is entering into a physical relationship with a lass must realize that his actions have consequences and should be ready to face the same as it is the girl who is always at the receiving end because it is she who runs the risk of being pregnant and also her ignominy in the society, if her relationship is disclosed. You just cannot plead consent on the part of the prosecutrix and laugh all the way to your home.”
Miminum Wages applicable to a ‘Math’?
Whether Minimum Wages Act, 1948 will be applicable to a ‘Math’? In what circumstances can State be permitted to interfere? AP HC explains
Temple and Math are both religious institutions, but the purposes for which they are established and the manner in which they function are clearly specified in Section 2(17) of A.P. Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions & Endowments Act, 1987 Act.
Will a rumourous tweet make one legally liable even when one deletes it on coming to know it to be untrue? HC decides
“A perusal of the petitioner’s tweet would reveal that it begins with words “JUST HEARD”, meaning thereby that what was uploaded by him was just heard by him and he had no personal knowledge of the same respondents and this subsequent conduct of the petitioner also makes it ample clear that the said tweet was uploaded in a good faith without any criminal intention to generate the consequences as provided by section 505 RPC.”
Legitimacy of a Child
Can DNA test be conducted to determine legitimacy of a child in a divorce petition without the child being on the party array? HC answers
“The illegitimacy or paternity of the child is only incidental to the claim for dissolution of marriage on the ground of adultery or infidelity. The child’s presence is not necessary to adjudicate the relief claimed.”
“If leniency is taken, just considering the fact that she is a young lady, it will be a shame for the whole judicial system”; HC dismisses bail application of infamous fake lawyer
“The illegal activities adopted by her that too before the court of law has to be dealt with an iron hand. If leniency is taken, just considering the fact that she is a young lady, it will be a shame for the whole Judicial system and would shake the confidence of the public in judicial system.”
Supreme Court Benches
Madras HC on setting up Benches of Supreme Court: An Indian, from a far-flung corner, has been unable to approach great Citadel of Justice, hailed as the ‘sentinel on the qui vive’
“Litigants are compelled to accept the wrong orders in view of inaccessibility to New Delhi and the exorbitant expenses towards engaging a counsel.”
IT Rules, 2021
‘Oversight mechanism to control media by Govt. may rob media of its independence’: Madras HC’s prima facie observation
The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ and P.D. Audikesavalu, J., prima facie observed that an oversight mechanism to control the media by the government may rob the media of its independence and fourth pillar, so to say, of democracy may not at all be there. The High Court was hearing a challenge to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
Mumbai Cruise Drugs Case
Bom HC grants bail to Aryan Khan, 2 others: Read the fourteen bail conditions
Nitin W. Sambre, J., grants bail to accused Aryan Shah Rukh Khan, Arbaaz A. Merchant and Munmum Dhamecha while laying down 14 conditions.
Restaurant with liquor license in the vicinity of a School
Our educational institutions are so weak that they would fear that students would get adversely affected if a restaurant having liquor license was in school’s vicinity: Is it true? Bom HC finds out
An educational institute certainly contributes in creating ideal citizens. Human virtues and morals can never remain the same. It is thus more important that an endeavour of an educational institution should be to impart such education, so that the basic human values and good virtues are inculcated in the students, to make them ideal citizens.
Prohibition to carry drinking water in Cinema Hall
Cinema owners are liable to pay compensation for not providing free potable & pure drinking water? | Madras HC Decision
“Cinema Hall, which seeks to prohibit carrying of drinking water inside the Cinema Hall for security reasons, must necessarily provide free potable and pure drinking water”
Putting penis into mouth will fall under which category – Aggravated Sexual Assault or Penetrative Sexual Assault?
Allahabad High Court while addressing a matter of child sexual assault, expressed that,
Putting penis into the mouth does not fall in the category of aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault. It comes into the category of penetrative sexual assault which is punishable under Section 4 of POCSO Act.
Driving under influence of alcohol
Know the 9 directions that Police Officers have to follow on finding vehicle being driven under influence of alcohol
Lakshman, J., while addressing a very pertinent issue expressed that,
Intention of the Legislature is to reduce the accidents and deaths that may be caused due to driving of vehicles in intoxicated condition, and it is not the intention to harass the owners of the vehicles by detaining the vehicles for days together.
Murder of Wife and 4 Minor Daughters
Man murdered wife and 4 minor daughters and burned them. Will this case fall under rarest of rare category? Allahabad HC decides
Allahabad High Court upheld the capital punishment of a man who murdered his wife and four minor daughters.
RoundUps’ of the Year 2021