Op EdsOP. ED.

The consent of the Attorney General to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Kunal Kamra underlines a significant point – that the freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt. Ubiquitous as it may seem, this fundamental norm appears to have been put into desuetude by the critics of the judiciary in recent times. This basic norm of Indian free speech jurisprudence may appear contrary to the American position where it was once believed that the law of contempt is limited by the first amendment.

Much has been said as to how the offence of scandalising the court is no longer relevant and should be done away with. Succour is sought from the unfair and not-so-lovely comments of the Privy Council in McLeod v.  St. Aubyn[1]:

…But it must be considered that in small colonies, consisting principally of coloured populations, the enforcement in proper cases of committal for contempt of court for attacks on the Court may be absolutely necessary to preserve in such a community the dignity of and respect for the Court.

Coloured population we may be, but our Court in Perspective Publications[2]  has clearly held that it is not correct that committals for scandalising the court has become obsolete. Further, what the advocates of unqualified free speech undermine is what is pertinently said by our Court in Rama Dayal Markarha v. State of M.P.[3]:

“14 In this country justice at grass-root level is administered by courts set up in rural backward areas largely inhabitated by illiterate persons. It is they who bring their problems to the court for resolution and they are the litigants, or consumers of justice service. Their susceptibility is of a different type than the urban elite reading newspapers and exposed to wind of change or even wind of criticism. The people in rural backward areas unfortunately illiterate have different kinds of susceptibilities. A slight suspicion that the Judges pre-disposed or approaches the case with a closed mind or has no judicial disposition would immediately affect their susceptibilities and they would lose confidence in the administration of justice. There is no greater harm than infusing or instilling in the minds of such people a lack of confidence in the character and integrity of the Judge…”

True it may be that in that case the Court was concerned with a mofussil court, but it must not be lost sight of that the higher judiciary in our country, right up to the Supreme Court, is flooded with litigation emanating from rural areas. That includes a large number of criminal cases where the accused may be seeking bail or anticipatory bail. Proliferation of social media in rural India is well known. Unabated circulation of reckless comments is bound to create an impression in those susceptible minds, who unfortunately constitute the vast majority.

The Contempt of Courts Act has been enacted keeping in mind the developments and trends in other countries, without ignoring the ground realties and prevalent socio-economic conditions in India. (Arundhati Roy, In re[4]).

Critics of our courts have been vociferous as to how the power to punish for contempt is antithetical to the freedom of speech and expression and how the law of contempt has become anachronistic. Much has been said about how the law of contempt has been diluted even in a conservative country like the United Kingdom. Lord Templeman in the Daily Mirror case and the opinion of Lord Denning in the Blackburn case have been quoted ad nauseam.

It was generally believed that the approach of the American courts was that the contempt power of all courts is limited by the guarantee of the first amendment against interference with freedom of speech or of the press. This stems from the opinion of Justice Hugo Black in Bridges v.  California[5]. However, even in a country as liberal as the United States in terms of freedom of speech and expression, the necessity to have the power to punish for contempt and drawing lines distinguishing free-speech from interference with the course of justice has been recognised. In that very case of Bridges[6], Felix Frankfurter, J. penned his dissenting opinion which has gained currency in later times. He took the view that the summary power over contemptuous publications is deeply rooted in common law and that the power to punish for contempt is not a censorship in advance but a punishment for past conduct and, as such, like prosecution for criminal libel is not offensive either to first or to the fourteenth amendments. In Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada[7],  is an instance where  Rheinquist, C.J. took the view that “the substantial likelihood of material prejudice” standard is a constitutionally permissible balance between the first amendment right of attorneys in pending cases and the State’s interest in fair trials.

Vilification of Judges is also bound to affect the psyche of Judges. Felix Frankfurter, J. in Pennekamp[8], rightly observed:

Judges, however stalwart, are human and the delicate task of administering justice ought not to be made unduly difficult by irresponsible print.”

In Attorney General v. BBC[9], Lord Dilhorne, disagreeing with the opinion of Lord Denning who wrote from the Court of Appeals, held:

It is sometimes asserted that no Judge will be influenced in his judgment by anything said by the media and consequently that the need to prevent the publication of matter prejudicial to the hearing of a case only exists where the decision rests with laymen. This claim to judicial superiority over human frailty is one that I find some difficulty in accepting……

                                                                                      (emphasis supplied)

Borrie and Lowe in their commentary[10] on contempt of court state that Lord Denning’s view is “more a statement of policy rather than literal truth”. Cardozo, in his “Nature of the Judicial Process” referring to the forces which enter into the conclusions of Judges” observed that “the great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men, do not turn aside in their course and pass the Judges by”.

The bottom line, therefore, is fair criticism – for that is what is permissible in our law. A judgement can be criticised respectfully, and instances closer home are aplenty. Seervai has severely criticised the judgement of  Bhagawati, J.  in E.P. Royappa[11]. He says the judgment suffers from the logical fallacy of undistrbuted middle, but the criticism is benign and is a pleasure to read. Constructive criticism, without attacking any particular Judge or court, has also been held to be out of the ken of contempt. A contempt petition was filed against Chief Justice E.S. Venkataramaiah for his interview lamenting the state of the judiciary as such. The Court declined to proceed with contempt.[12]

Consent for criminal contempt has been granted. The speaker claims to be a comedian. But it is the Attorney General who is standing up for a free and fearless judiciary by exercising his discretion wisely.

Kunal Kamra claims to be a comedian, but it is the Attorney General who is standing up for a robust judiciary. Freedom of speech does not licence vilification of Judges and the judiciary. Irresponsible onslaught on Judges is bound to affect their psyche. ‘There can be no claim of judicial superiority over human frailty’ said Lord Dilhorne, disagreeing with Lord Denning. Benign humour/satire a la Daphtary is welcome; not calculated vituperation clothed as humour. The power of contempt is warranted to ensure the free and fair administration of justice-free speech jurisprudence under our Constitution.


* Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court. Author can be contacted at raghavendra@srivatsa.com

[1] McLeod  v. St. Aubyn, (1899) AC 549

[2] Perspective Publications (P) Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra, (1969) 2 SCR 779

[3] (1978) 2 SCC 630

[4] (2002) 3 SCC 343

[5] 314 US 252 (1941)

[6] Ibid.

[7] 501 US 1030 (1991)

[8] 328 US 331 (1946)

[9] 1981 AC 303 (HL)

[10] Borrie and Lowe, The Law of Contempt, (3rd Edn., 1996)

[11] E.P. Royappa v. State of T.N., (1974) 4 SCC 3

[12]Vishwanath v. E.S. Venkatramiah, 1990 SCC OnLine Bom 441

Appointments & TransfersNews

President transfers Justice Mohammad Rafiq, Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court, as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and to direct him to assume charge of the office of the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

ORDER


Ministry of Law and Justice

Case Briefs

President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transfers Justice Ravi Vijaykumar Malimath, Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, as a Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

ORDER


Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

President transfers Justice Sanjay Yadav, Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, as a Judge of the Allahabad High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Allahabad High Court.


Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

President transfers Justice Rajesh Bindal, Judge, Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh, as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Calcutta High Court.

ORDER


Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints Justice Pankaj Mithal, Judge of the Allahabad High Court, to be the Chief Justice of Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office.

ORDER


Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transfers Justice Vineet Kothari, Judge of the Madras High Court, as a Judge of the Gujarat High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Gujarat High Court.

ORDER


Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

Appointment Orders

President is pleased to appoint Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Judge of the Calcutta High Court, to be the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office.


President is pleased to appoint Justice Hima Kohli, Judge of the Delhi High Court, to be the Chief Justice of High Court for the State of Telangana with effect from the date she assumes charge of her office.


President is pleased to appoint Dr Justice S. Muralidhar, Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to be the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office.


Ministry of Law and Justice

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court:  Taking a stern stand against several instances of abuse of power by the Andhra Pradesh State Government, the Division Bench of Rakesh Kumar and D. Ramesh, JJ., reprimanded the Government for its high- handedness in dealing with matters concerning the rights of the people of Andhra Pradesh and making attempts at subduing the constitutional bodies such as the Legislative Council, State Election Commission and the Andhra Pradesh High Court itself. Rakesh Kumar, J., who authored the instant Order, minced no words while berating the State Government’s arbitrary actions- “The State by way of filing the interlocutory application, has ventured to malign the image of one of the Members of this Bench (Hon’ble Sri Justice Rakesh Kumar). It is very difficult for me to swallow the allegation of deviating from the principle of impartiality. With a view to uphold the majesty of law and repose the confidence of citizen in the judicial system, such endeavour made by the State is considered as malicious and cannot be approved. If such petitions are entertained, it will amount to allowing the party for hunting the Bench…. the Court cannot be frightened by any such action of the State”.

 Background and Trajectory of the Issue: The writ petition WP (PIL) 127/2020 was filed with a prayer to declare the action of the Government of Andhra Pradesh/ Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department in issuing Notice Inviting Offer to an outright sale of land/land assets available at Guntur and Visakhapatnam for Mission Build AP on “as is where is” basis through E-auction, as illegal and arbitrary. The writ was first taken up by the Division Bench comprising A.V. Sesha Sai and B. Krishna Mohan, JJ., and while granting time for filing a counter-affidavit, passed an interim order restraining finalization of the bidding process. In the meanwhile, other similar writ petitions were filed questioning the act of the State regarding selling/transferring of the Government land through auction. On 16-12-2020, Sudhakar Reddy, A.A.G., filed a petition for recusal of Rakesh Kumar, J., from the case on the ground that the Judge had made an observation while hearing the matter which implied that he will ‘declare a break down of constitutional machinery in the State and hand over the administration to the Central Government’.

Observations: While denying that the aforementioned observation was ever made by him, Rakesh Kumar, J., sternly noted that the instant application is a derogatory and contemptuous act by the State Government. The function of the High Court while exercising jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the Constitution, is to protect and enforce the fundamental right of a citizen if it is infringed or taken away by the State. This is the main protection lying in the hands of the citizen against the unauthorized or illegal act of a State. If the Court has doubts over any issue, then it is its right to ask certain questions. “Honesty, integrity, sincerity, fearlessness and impartiality all are essence of judicial system in general and Judges in particular. If any question is raised without any reasonable basis, the Judge has every right to refer to any undisputed fact even not on record of the said proceeding in his defence”.

Rakesh Kumar, J., went on to make some specific and scathing observations regarding the current attitude of maligning the Judiciary, and the Andhra Govt.’s malicious intent towards the constitutional bodies, especially the A.P. HC. Some of the notable observations are as follows-

  • The Court noted that how a Judge never has a media platform to showcase their impartiality and fearless. “We cannot even go to media for our defence.”
  • The Court also noted “A very disturbing trend has developed in our system. If one is influential, powerful, i.e., both in money and muscle, he feels that he is having every privilege to do anything as per his convenience and to the peril of system or poor citizen”.
  • Regarding the protection of a citizen’s fundamental rights, the Court observed that, “being a Judge of a High Court, it is our primary duty to come forward and examine the right of citizen in which cause of action even partly arose within the jurisdiction of such High Court, and endeavour to get such right enforced”.
  • Justice Kumar further noted the instance wherein the CM had proposed to abolish the Legislative Council itself when they did not agree to proceed with the tune of the Legislative Assembly’s decision regarding the establishment of three capitals in one State
  • Rakesh Kumar, J., also considered whether the letter to Chief Justice of India by the Andhra CM containing allegations against Chief Justices of Telangana and AP HC may have given undue advantage to the CM and people may deduce that the recent transfers of the Chief Justices may have resulted due to the letter. The Court emphasized on the need of transparency in the judicial transfers.
  • Following up on the abovementioned observation, Justice Kumar also noted a plethora of cases against the Chief Minister filed by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate. The Judge noted that the recent transfers are sure to give undue relief to the CM by way of causing delay in hearing of the matters.

With the aforementioned observations, Justice Kumar stated that,It appears that in the aforesaid background, now in the present proceeding, the State by way of filing the interlocutory application, has ventured to malign the image of one of the Members of this Bench”. Accordingly, the prayer for recusal was rejected as, “such prayer is totally untenable and malicious. If Court starts entertaining such petitions; in no case, the Court can be allowed to dispense justice”. In the concluding remarks, the Court stated that the above observations are specifically for considering the prayer for recusal made in this interlocutory application and not on the merits of the case.[Special Officer v. Thota Suresh Babu,2020 SCC OnLine AP 2143, decided on 30-12-2020]


Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Bombay High Court

Advocates and the parties appearing in-person that, considering the precautionary measures due to outbreak of COVID-19, Chief Justice nominated Judges to hear the matters physically at the Principal Seat at Bombay, on an experimental basis with effect from 1st December 2020 to 10th January 2020 (Excluding Vacation).

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the resumption of physical hearing at the Principal Seat, High Court of Bombay has also been stated in the following notice below.

Read the detailed notice to know the Judges nominated, here: NOTICE


Bombay High Court

[Notice dt. 27-11-2020]

Know thy Judge

Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai was born on 24th November, 1960. At the age of 25, he enrolled as an advocate and started practicing at the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. He served both as a government pleader as well as a government prosecutor[1]. He was appointed as a judge of the Bombay High Court in 2003 and served in that position for 16 years before being elevated to become judge of the Supreme Court. The collegium in recommending him gave due weight to his seniority, integrity, merit and due representation in the Supreme Court.[2].


Some important judgments that Justice BR Gavai has been a part of 


Fertico Marketing and Investment Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 938

The bench of AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai, JJ  held that not obtaining prior consent of the State Government under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DPSE Act) would not vitiate the investigation unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about miscarriage of justice or caused prejudice to the accused.

Read more

Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637

A 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, JJ has asked J&K administration to review all orders imposing curbs on telecom and internet services in the state in a week and put them in public domain. 

“The existing Suspension Rules neither provide for a periodic review nor a time limitation for an order issued under the Suspension Rules. Till this gap is filled, the Review Committee constituted under Rule 2(5) of the Suspension Rules must conduct a periodic review within seven working days of the previous review, in terms of the requirements under Rule 2(6).”

Read more 

Foundations for Media Professionals v. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 453

A 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, JJ has constituted a three-member committee to look into demand for allowing 4G mobile internet in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Noticing that since the issues involved affect the State and the nation, the Court found it appropriate to constitute a Special Committee comprising of the following Secretaries at national, as well as State, level to look into the prevailing circumstances and immediately determine the necessity of the continuation of the restrictions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Read more 

In re: Prashant Bhushan, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 698

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has sentenced advocate Prashant Bhushan with a fine or Re.1/­ (Rupee one) to be deposited with the Registry by 15.09.2020, failing which he shall undergo a simple imprisonment for a period of three months and further be debarred from practising in this Court for a period of three years. It had found advocate Prashant guilty of criminal contempt on 14.08.2020 in the suo motu contempt petition initiated against him after he criticised the Supreme Court and the sitting and former CJIs in a couple of tweets. 

“If we do not take cognizance of such conduct it will give a wrong message to the lawyers and litigants throughout the country. However, by showing magnanimity, instead of imposing any severe punishment, we are sentencing the contemnor with a nominal fine of  Re.1/­ (Rupee one).”

Read more

Sudru v. State of Chattisgarh, (2019) 8 SCC 333

In this case of murder of son by the accused father, on the basis of circumstantial evidence, last seen evidence and non-explanation of incriminating evidence by accused, conviction of accused confirmed. 

Union of India v. Unicorn Industries, (2019) 10 SCC 575

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai, JJ., held that by invoking the doctrine of promissory estoppel, the Union of India cannot be estopped from withdrawing the exemption from payment of Excise Duty in respect of certain products, which exemption is granted by an earlier notification; when the Union of India finds that such a withdrawal is necessary in the public interest.

Read more

Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1279

The 3-judge Bench of Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai, JJ., partially set aside the 2-judge verdict in Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454. It was held that some portions of the said verdict were against the concept of protective discrimination in favour of down­trodden classes under Article 15(4) of the Constitution and also impermissible within the parameters laid down by this Court for exercise of powers under Article 142 of Constitution of India.  The Court said,

“Can’t treat all of them as a liar.”

Read more

Sarika v. Administrator, Mahakaleshwar Mandir Committee, Ujjain, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 704

 In a bid to prevent the deterioration of Shivlinga at Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain, the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has given the eight directions.

Read more

Rishad Murtaza v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 377

 The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, SK Kaul and BR Gavai, JJ has asked the Central Government to extend the order passed in In Re Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Children Protection Homes, to Nari Niketans also, if feasable.

Read more

Tata Housing Development Company Ltd. v. Aalok Jagga, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1419

In the matter concerning the housing project, on the ground that the area in question falls within the catchment area of Sukhna Lake and is 123 meters away from the boundary of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai, JJ has held that such projects cannot be permitted to come up within such a short distance from the wildlife sanctuary. Stating that the entire exercise smacks of arbitrariness on the part of Government including functionaries, the bench said that the Court has to perform its duty in such a scenario when the authorities have failed to protect the wildlife sanctuary eco­sensitive zone. It said,

The entire exercise of obtaining clearance relating to the project is quashed. We regret that such a scenario has emerged in the matter and that it involved a large number of MLAs of Punjab Legislative Assembly.

Read more


*Associate Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

[1]SC Collegium recommends Justices BR Gavai, Surya Kant for elevation to top court, Scroll, last updated May 09, 2019,

[2] Supreme Court Observer, Judges’ archive

Know thy Judge

Justice Uday U. Lalit, born on 9th November, 1957, is the 6th Senior Advocate to be directly elevated to the Supreme Court. As a senior advocate he specialised in criminal cases and was appointed as CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in all 2G matters, under the Supreme Court’s orders.


Journey to becoming Supreme Court Judge


Justice Uday U. Lalit  is the son of Retd. Justice UR. Lalit, a former additional judge of the Bombay High Court, Nagpur bench and a senior counsel practising at the Supreme Court. He joined the bar in 1983 and practiced as an advocate in the Bombay High Court from 1983 to 1985. In 1986, he joined the chambers of Former Attorney General for India, Soli Sorabjee from 1986 to 1992. In 2004, he was designated as a senior advocate and also served as a member of the Supreme Court’s Legal Services Committee for two terms.[1]

In 2011, the Supreme Court bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly appointed him as CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in all 2G matters.[2] Finally, in the year 2014, he was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. A DNA India report[3], described that his “strength as an advocate were his thoroughness with the case, patience in explaining legal questions and the sober demeanour in presenting the case before the bench”.


Some Recent and Notable Judgments that Justice Uday U. Lalit has been a part of 


Smriti Madan Kansagra v. Perry Kansagra, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 887

The bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Hemant Gupta, JJ, explaining the concept of a mirror order, has said,

“The mirror order is passed to ensure that the courts of the country where the child is being shifted are aware of the arrangements which were made in the country where he had ordinarily been residing. Such an order would also safeguard the interest of the parent who is losing custody, so that the rights of visitation and temporary custody are not impaired.”

The said explanation came in a 2:1 verdict, where Indu Malhotra, J, writing the majority judgment for herself and UU Lalit, J, transferred the custody of an 11-year-old child to his father, an Indian-origin business tycoon living in Kenya, from his mother with whom he has been living since birth.

Read more

Imperia Structures v. Anil Patni, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 894

The bench of UU Lalit and Vineet Saran, JJ has held that the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA Act) does not bar the initiation of proceedings by allottees against the builders under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

“It is true that some special authorities are created under the RERA Act for the regulation and promotion of the real estate sector and the issues concerning a registered project are specifically entrusted to functionaries under the RERA Act. But for the present purposes, we must go by the purport of Section 18 of the RERA Act. Since it gives a right “without prejudice to any other remedy available’, in effect, such other remedy is acknowledged and saved subject always to the applicability of Section 79.”

Read more

Ravindran v. Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 867

Interpreting Section 167(2) CrPC, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Sarah, JJ has said that the Courts cannot adopt a rigid or formalistic approach whilst considering any issue that touches upon the rights contained in Article 21. It said,

“The history of the enactment of Section 167(2), CrPC and the safeguard of ‘default bail’ contained in the Proviso thereto is intrinsically linked to Article 21 and is nothing but a legislative exposition of the constitutional safeguard that no person shall be detained except in accordance with rule of law.”

Going into the legislative intent, the Court noticed that Section 167(2) was enacted providing for time limits on the period of remand of the accused, proportionate to the seriousness of the offence committed, failing which the accused acquires the indefeasible right to bail.

“… the intent of the legislature was to balance the need for sufficient time limits to complete the investigation with the need to protect the civil liberties of the accused.”

Read more

 Sri Marthanda Varma (D) v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 569

The bench of UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra, JJ has upheld the rights of the Travancore royal family in the administration of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, one of the world’s richest temples, in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram. Allowing the appeal filed by members of the Travancore family, the Court observed that the death of the Travancore ruler, who signed the covenant, does not affect the rights of the Shebaitship Travancore family over the temple and it will survive as per the customs.

After referring to a number of decisions, the Court concluded that when the idol is installed and the temple is constructed or an endowment is founded, the shebaitship is vested in the founder and unless the founder himself has disposed of the shebaitship in a particular manner or there is some usage or custom or circumstances showing a different mode of devolution, the shebaitship like any other species of heritable property follows the line of inheritance from the founder; and it is not open to the Court to lay down a new rule of succession or alter the rule of succession.

“… the shebaitship has the elements of office and property, of duties and personal interest blended together and they invest the office of the shebait with the character of proprietary right.”

Read more

Pyare Lal v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 583.

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran referred the question can a policy framed under Article 161 for grant of remission override the requirements under Section 433-A CrPC to a larger bench and framed the following issue:

“Whether in exercise of power conferred under Article 161 of the Constitution a policy can be framed, whereunder certain norms or postulates are laid down, on the satisfaction of which the benefit of remission can thereafter be granted by the Executive without placing facts or material with respect to any of the cases before the Governor and whether such exercise can override the requirements under Section 433-A of the Code.”

Read more

Justice (Retd.) Markandey Katju v. The Lok Sabha, (2017) 2 SCC 384

Dismissing the petition filed by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju against the resolutions passed by Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha condemning the statements made by him in Facebook posts where he termed Mahatma Gandhi a British Agent and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose an agent of Japanese fascism, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and R. Banumathi and U.U. Lalit, JJ held that for the free functioning of Houses of Parliament or Legislatures of State, the representatives of people must be free to discuss and debate any issues or questions concerning general public interest.

“Members need to be free of all constraints in the matter of what they say in Parliament if they are to effectively represent their constituencies in its deliberations. Sub-article (2) of Article 105 puts negatively what sub- article (1) states affirmatively. Both sub-articles must be read together to determine their content. By reason of the first part of sub-article (2) no Member is answerable in a court of law or any similar tribunal for what he has said in Parliament. This again is recognition of the fact that a Member needs the freedom to say what he thinks is right in Parliament undeterred by the fear of being proceeded against. A vote, whether cast by voice or gesture or the aid of a machine, is treated as an extension of speech or a substitute for speech and is given the protection that the spoken word has.”

The Court noted that both Houses were conscious of the fact that the remarks about Mahatma Gandhi were made not by an ordinary person but by one who had occupied high public office. Hence, if both Houses thought it fit to pass resolutions in the form of a declaration, it was certainly within their competence to do so as the nature of remarks regarding Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose pertain to general public interest. It was further noticed that the resolutions had no civil consequences in so far as the conduct and character of the petitioner is concerned.

“The first question raised by the petitioner is a time tested question regarding the scope of fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution to hold and express a dissenting opinion. The scope of this article has received judicial consideration on numerous occasions and the issue whether such freedom would include right to express a dissenting opinion is also a non issue; as it is only the maker of an unpopular and dissenting opinion who would need a cover or insulation. A popular or accepted opinion, naturally would not require any protection. In any event, Article 19(1)(a) guarantees free speech and expression and makes no distinction and imposes no caveats, whether such speech is popular or dissenting in nature. What is interesting is that the petitioner, in fact, exercised such freedom of speech and exercised it rather adequately. His comments and views on two famous personalities were available for consumption in public domain. His freedom of speech in publically expressing his views or propagating his ideas was not and is not in any manner curtailed or impaired or placed under any restriction”.

Read more

 Union of India v. V. Sriharan, (2016) 7 SCC 1

In Union of India v. V. Sriharan, (2016) 7 SCC 1, the constitution bench comprising of H.L. Dattu, CJ and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Abhay Manohar Sapre and Uday U Lalit, JJ held that life imprisonment in terms of Secs 53 and 45 of the Penal Code, 1860 means imprisonment for the rest of life of convict.  The Court held that a special category sentence, in substitution of death sentence, that is, sentence barring remission under CrPC for specified term beyond 14 years, is valid. It is clarified that power under Arts. 72 and 161 is not affected at all. After expiry of said non-remittable term, remission powers under CrPC would be exercisable. Such special sentence, is not a new sentence but within limits of life imprisonment and thus, not violative of separation of powers. Such special sentence when imposed under substantive provisions of IPC does not overlap procedural power under CrPC either. Considering the crime situation in India (particularly nexus between hardened criminals and ill-gotten wealth, and nature of heinous crimes on the rise), delay in disposal of cases, and balancing interests of victims with those of convicts, such a special category of sentence is necessary. Arguments based on ray of hope for the convict were held not tenable. Such hope is rather required for victims, the Court observed. Such special category sentences can only be imposed by the High Court or Supreme Court and not by a trial court. Such special category sentence not prescribed by any statute, barring operation of remission powers under CrPC, is invalid. Such a special category sentence closes doors for reformation and encroaches upon power of legislature by prescribing a new sentence.

Some of the important observations by Justice UU Lalit in this case were

    • While construing the term ‘consultation’ it must be seen who is the best equipped and likely to be more correct in his view for achieving the purpose and performing the tasks satisfactorily and greater weight to his opinion may then be attached.
    • The convict undergoing the life imprisonment can always apply to the concerned authority for obtaining remission either under Articles 72 or 161 of the Constitution or under Section 432 Cr.P.C. and the authority would be obliged to consider the same reasonably. The right to apply and invoke the powers under these provisions does not mean that he can claim such benefit as a matter of right based on any arithmetical calculation. All that he can claim is a right that his case be considered. The decision whether remissions be granted or not is entirely left to the discretion of the concerned authorities, which discretion ought to be exercised in a manner known to law. The convict only has right to apply to competent authority and have his case considered in a fair and reasonable manner.
    • By exercise of power of remission, the appropriate Government is enabled to wipe out that part of the sentence which has not been served out and over- ride a judicially pronounced sentence. The decision to grant remission must, therefore, be well informed, reasonable and fair to all concerned.

Miss ‘A’ v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 817

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has held that no person is entitled to a copy of statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 till the appropriate orders are passed by the court after the charge-sheet is filed.

“The right to receive a copy of such statement will arise only after cognizance is taken and at the stage contemplated by Sections 207 and 208 of the Code and not before.”

Read more

Shayara Bano v. Union of India, (2017) 9 SCC 1

In the landmark Shayara Bano case, the Constitution bench comprises 5 judges namely Khehar, CJ,and  Kurian Joseph, RF Nariman, Uday U Lalit and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ. Held the triple talaq to be violative of Article 14 and pronounced it to be unconstitutional. Nariman, J, writing down the majority judgment for himself and Lalit, J noted that given the fact that Triple Talaq is instant and irrevocable, it is obvious that any attempt at reconciliation between the husband and wife by two arbiters from their families, which is essential to save the marital tie, cannot ever take place. After going through the Hanafi jurisprudence, the Court noticed that very jurisprudence castigates Triple Talaq as being sinful. The Court said that Triple Talaq is a form of Talaq which is itself considered to be something innovative, namely, that it is not in the Sunna, being an irregular or heretical form of Talaq, it was held that:

“the fundamental nature of the Islamic religion, as seen through an Indian Sunni Muslim’s eyes, will not change without this practice.”

Read more

Vinodchandra Sakarlal Kapadia v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 545

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and AS Bopanna, JJ has held that an agriculturist cannot part with his agricultural land to a non-agriculturist though a ‘Will’ as per Sections 43 and 63 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands, Act, 1948 (the Tenancy Act).

Section 43 lays down the restrictions on transfer of land sold or purchased under the Tenancy Act and Section 63 bars the transfer of agricultural lands to non-agriculturists.

The Court said,

“if it is held that the testamentary disposition would not get covered by the provisions of Section 43, a gullible person can be made to execute a testament in favour of a person who may not fulfil the requirements and be eligible to be a transferee in accordance with law. This may not only render the natural heirs of the tenant without any support or sustenance but may also have serious impact on agricultural operations.”

Read more

Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746

Holding that the minimum period of six months stipulated under Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for a motion for passing decree of divorce on the basis of mutual consent is not mandatory but directory, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ said that it will be open to the Court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation.

Read more

 Anokhilal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1637

Noticing that where death sentence could be one of the alternative punishments, the courts must be completely vigilant and see that full opportunity at every stage is afforded to the accused, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Krishna Murari, JJ has laid down the norms to ensure the same.

Read more

Meters and Instruments Pvt Ltd v. Kanchan Mehta (2018) 1 SCC 560.

In the case where the question as to how proceedings for an offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 can be regulated where the accused is willing to deposit the cheque amount, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ held that Section 143 of the Act confers implied power on the Magistrate to discharge the accused if the complainant is compensated to the satisfaction of the Court, where the accused tenders the cheque amount with interest and reasonable cost of litigation as assessed by the Court. The Court said:

“Basic object of the law is to enhance credibility of the cheque transactions by providing speedy remedy to the complainant without intending to punish the drawer of the cheque whose conduct is reasonable or where compensation to the complainant meets the ends of justice.”

Read more


*Associate Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

[1] Supreme Court Observer, Judges’ archive 

[2]2G scam: SC orders Lalit be made prosecutor by Sanjay K. Singh, The Economic Times, last updated on April 12, 2011

[3] Uday Lalit among four new judges to assume charge in Supreme Court, DNA India, Published on August 13, 2014

Know thy Judge

 

“The Court should not under the guise of preventing the abuse of power be itself guilty of usurping power.”

– Justice Hemant Gupta,

Nitin Pathak v. State of M.P., 2017 SCC OnLine MP 1824


Excerpts from Judgments authored by Justice Hemant Gupta


Arvind Singh v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 400; While allowing the appeal in part against death sentence awarded by the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, the Court observed,

“What is required to be examined is whether there is a possibility of rehabilitation and whether it is the rarest of the rare case where the collective conscience of the community is so shocked that it will expect the holders of judicial power to inflict death penalty irrespective of their personal opinion as regards desirability or otherwise of retaining death penalty. The manner of commission of murder when committed in an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical, revolting or dastardly manner are aggravating factors.”

Laxmibai v. Collector, Nanded and Ors., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 187; Hearing an appeal against the order of the High Court dismissing writ petition against an order of disqualification on account of non-submission of election expenses within the period prescribed, it was held,

“The purity and transparency in election process does not give unbridled and arbitrary power to the Election Commission to pass any whimsical order without examining the nature of default. The extent of period of disqualification has to be in proportion to the default. The Election Commission has to keep in mind that by such process, an election of duly elected candidate representing collective will of the voters of the constituency is being set at naught.”

Ram Sewak Mishra v. State of M.P., 2017 SCC OnLine MP 1546; Deciding on the validity of an executive action wherein no adequate opportunity of hearing was provided to a Government employee charged under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Justice Gupta noted,

The rule of audi alteram partem is the rule of the law without which law would be lifeless, absurd, stultifying, self-defeating or plainly contrary to the common sense of the situation. The principle holds good irrespective of whether the power conferred on a statutory body or Tribunal is administrative or quasi-judicial. The concept of natural justice can neither be put in a straitjacket nor is it a general rule of universal application. Whether or not the application of the principles of natural justice in a given case has been excluded, wholly or in part, in the exercise of statutory power, depends upon the language and basic scheme of the provision conferring the power, the nature of the power, the purpose for which it is conferred and the effect of the exercise of that power. The procedural precondition of fair hearing, however minimal, even post-decisional, has relevance to administrative and judicial gentlemanliness.

N.K. Janu v. Lakshmi Chandra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 518; While making significant observation with respect to the power of Court to summon public officers, it was said,

“The summoning of officers to the court to attend proceedings, impinges upon the functioning of the officers and eventually it is the public at large who suffer on account of their absence from the duties assigned to them. The practice of summoning officers to court is not proper and does not serve the purpose of administration of justice in view of the separation of powers of the Executive and the Judiciary. If an order is not legal, the Courts have ample jurisdiction to set aside such order and to issue such directions as may be warranted in the facts of the case.Read More

State of Bihar v. Sachindra Narayan, (2019) 3 SCC 803; In an appeal against the order of a Division Bench at Patna High Court, mandating the State authorities to give financial assistance on the ground of legitimate expectation, the Court observed,

“(…)legitimate expectation is one of the grounds of judicial review but unless a legal obligation exists, there cannot be any legitimate expectation. The legitimate expectation is not a wish or a desire or a hope, therefore, it cannot be claimed or demanded as a right. The payment of pension in the past will not confer an enforceable right in favour of the Institute or its employees.


Significant Judgments that Justice Gupta has been a part of


 Dr. Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 727; A full judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S.Ravindra Bhat, JJ., while referring the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018 to a larger bench, held,

The social, educational and economic backwardness of a community, existence of quantifiable data relating to inadequacy of representation of the community in public services and deprivation of the benefits flowing from reservations to the community are not exceptional circumstances for providing reservations in excess of 50 per cent.”

The Bench further directed that the admissions to educational institutions and appointments to public services/posts under the government, shall be made irrespective to the reservations provided under, Maharashtra State Reservation (of seats for admission in Educational Institutions in the State and for appointments in the Public Services and posts under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. Read More

Union of India v. Exide Industries Limited and Another, (2020) 5 SCC 274; A full judge bench of A.M. Khanwilkar, Hemant Gupta, Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ., deciding on the validity of clause (f) to Section 43-B Income Tax Act, 1961, held,

“To hold a provision as violative of the Constitution on account of failure of the legislature to state the Objects and Reasons would amount to an indirect scrutiny of the motives of the legislature behind the enactment. Such a course of action, in our view, is unwarranted. The raison d’être behind this self-imposed restriction is because of the fundamental reason that different organs of the State do not scrutinise each other’s wisdom in the exercise of their duties. In other words, the time-tested principle of checks and balances does not empower the Court to question the motives or wisdom of the legislature, except in circumstances when the same is demonstrated from the enacted law.” Read More

Amit Kumar Roy v. Union of India, (2019) 7 SCC 369; A division bench of D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta, JJ., adjudicating upon the interplay of Article 19(1)(g) and the statutory restrictions on members of Indian Airforce, said,

“A person who has been enrolled as a member of the Air Force does not have an unqualified right to depart from service at his or her will during the term of engagement. Such a construction, as urged on behalf of the appellant, will seriously impinge upon manning levels and operational preparedness of the Armed Forces.Read More


*Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

Hot Off The PressNews

Appointments of Judges

President appoints the following to be the Judges of Gujarat High Court:

  • Vaibhavi Devan Nanavati
  • Nirzarkumar Sushilkumar Desai
  • Nikhil Shreedharan Kariel

Here’s the notification: APPOINTMENT


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Press Release dt. 01-10-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

Supreme Court Collegium

Supreme Court Collegium on 23-09-2020, approved the proposal for elevation of the following Judicial Officers, as Judges of the Madras High Court:

1. Shri G. Chandrasekharan,

2. Shri A.A. Nakkiran,

3. Shri Sivagnanam Veerasamy,

4. Shri Ilangovan Ganesan, and

5. Smt. Ananthi Subramanian.

6. Smt. Kannammal Shanmuga Sundaram,

7. Shri Sathikumar Sukumara Kurup,

8. Shri Murali Shankar Kuppuraju,

9. Ms. Manjula Ramaraju Nalliah, and

10. Smt. Thamilselvi T. Valayapalayam.

COLLEGIUM STATEMENT

COLLEGIUM STATEMENT


Supreme Court of India

[Collegium Statement dt. 23-09-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints Justice Sanjay Yadav, senior-most Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, to perform the duties of the office of Chief Justice of that High Court with effect from 30th September 2020 consequent upon the retirement of Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal, Chief Justice, Madhya Pradesh High Court.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 22-09-2020]

COVID 19Op EdsOP. ED.

Introduction

This article is penned especially for advocates, judges, litigants and more particularly the ministerial staff in the courts who are even without setting of Covid-19, under a lot of mental stress and require spontaneous rejuvenation. The word “health” partakes within itself physical, mental and social well-being and, therefore, this article is for seeing that we remain fit once the courts start functioning and we are out of our mental psychosis.

The setting of 2020 came with all goodnesses but by the middle of the third month i.e. spring, we felt that good relationship, sense of belonging, opportunity to physically be active all were shattered bringing in a psychological weakness in a person. Like, come September we Indians welcome seasons. The first six months of the English calendar brings various festivities.

We also started seeing what can be said as few socio-legal disturbances, namely, the families have started having mental disorders due to the pandemic as well as the lockdown and it is in this background that I am penning this article though many have given their thoughts and have uploaded many videos and sermons but we have to move ahead with all the limitations which we have.

The six months which have bygone have brought about a lot of mental stress, have brought about psychological stress. It is for our getting back on track after the lockdown may get over that these few tips would be useful to the legal fraternity by legal fraternity the undersigned also address the staff of courts, who are in a lot of stress these days.

The international data goes to show that danger of these mysterious viral diseases is still there. We need to adopt social distancing measures, here what I mean by social distancing is physical distancing so that level of risk would be much less and we should not be complacent if we are in the age group of 20-30.

If we have serious medical conditions, we should try to develop what I call rejuvenation so that psychologically we would be much better placed. The fear should not deter us and we should take preventive action every day. The World Health Organisation site can be visited as the trends go to show that fear, worry and stress are perceived and become real threats. These would change our daily life patterns.

“The need for ‘spontaneous’ rejuvenation of physical and mental well-being for lawyers and judges. A need in the modern-day scenario” was an article which the undersigned penned before 13 years and while passing through these trying times it is felt the same to be apt even after 13 years of penning the same.

I do not wish to be guilty of new rules of self-plagiarism as this article was penned by me before one decade for an in house journal Nyaypath published by Gujarat State Legal Services Authority.

It is now with great pain that I am forced to again recast this article after the onslaught of the pandemic, and sad demise of my old colleague Satyen not due to COVID but because of ill health in mysterious circumstances.

Like, come September we Indians welcome seasons. The first six months of the English calendar brings various festivities. The festivities of various communities. The coming of spring is also celebrated as bringing with it several festivals.

As said by Richard Carlson in his famous book.

As said by Richard Carlson in his famous book. A powerful and positive personality is necessary for enjoying our profession by being enthusiastic, lively and remaining and having confidence in ourselves. Which we are tending to loose, the reason is obvious the author does not wish to delve deep into reasons but wants the reader to benefit and bounce back mentally, physically and psychologically during these trying times.

The human body is the most complex machine ever built and it is one of the most familiar machines despite that most of us take our body far too much for granted. It is only when something goes wrong with we think of it. We fail to appreciate our own magnificence. The body is like a big city having dozens of power stations, sophisticated communications setup, import raw materials, manufactures goods. We operate a garbage deleting system. These systems are available from the day a person is born. It is important to know that the body is made up of several cells. The invisible muscle cells keep us going. This acts as gate keepers and decides which matter should be admitted and which should be disposed of at controls.

            If nothing went wrong with the body as narrated above, we often neglect it, and therefore, this article is to remind us the neglect of the body under the guise of “I have no time” or “I am in tremendous pressure of work today” and at the end of the day “I feel very tired”. The simple tips can rejuvenate and revitalise the body and the mind and give up the boredom.

Mental well-being is a part of the overall well-being of a human being. It is said that a healthy body will breed a healthy mind. To attain a healthy mind, it is very necessary to attain a healthy body. It would be seen that out of 100 at least 50% of judges suffer from some physical ailment. The reason/answer is very spontaneous – “my working conditions”. “I have a lot of pendency of cases. Where do I have time to spare for recreation or exercise?” It is time to introspect for whom are we working so hard? The answer would be for our family. In a healthy body lives a healthy mind, likewise, if the family head is healthy then only will he be able to provide strong support to his family otherwise the family will have to constantly worry for him. It is an admitted position that judges and lawyers constantly keep their brain engaged in various thoughts i.e. reading for preparing the plaint or reply, preparing to write the judgment, checking of administrative files.

20 minutes in a day for ourselves can we not spare? The answer would be impossible to spare. This is what I would call a negative mindset with which we are pre-occupied meaning thereby “how”, can I waste my time, Sirs, this is not waste of time but is a rare kind of investment. These “40” minutes need not be continuous at one sitting. They can be spread over “5” minutes at “wake up” time, “5” at just before you take tea. “5” just before court, the answer would be I have a lot of work instead of this thinking, practice devoting of 10 minutes to yourself. How? By keeping eyes closed and letting positive thoughts to come to your mind and body. If you think positive, the mindset would enable the positiveness to visit you and see the miracle in being on the dais. It is always the thoughts that determine your attitude for the day.

            It is often said by the entire fraternity that “I don’t have time” but everybody craves peace and mental well-being and that is why from the time of the Britishers, we observe vacation which is in a way physical form of relaxation. Physical relaxation is an escape from tension, but it would not be the solution for mental relaxation. Mental relaxation is tasting very essence of peace of mind. Even if we introspect, we would feel trying to extract peace from the world around us. Physical relaxation can be said to be an escape from tension but it is not a solution by itself. The solution to it would be when a mental connection or union is achieved through some kind of remembrance when the mind is focused on only mental peace. The same can be said to be “Yoga”.

Yoga is nothing else but the ultimate attainment of peace of mind. The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means to unit, join, harness, contact or connect. It is the fusion of a body with a disciplined mind for the purpose of spiritual development and this gives peace of mind. It is not necessary that this exercise can be performed only in isolation or by taking out a separate time. You can do it even while performing your routine work. Say a simple example would be the rejuvenation of your eyes by sprinkling water during the recess which would give you relaxation. It is even replied that relaxation is to be planned so as to do it later which can be done on vacation in an isolated place or when you get everything done. This is according to me is not the right answer.

Relaxation can be attained at any place at any time as suggested above even while preparing for a case you can relax for five minutes by closing eyes and sitting in silence. Daily twenty minutes of this kind of relaxation exercise would definitely rejuvenate mental and physical well-being. Meditation will make you calm with the strength to deal with any kind of stress which would need only a few moments of self-introspection during day time. The third powerful aspect for refreshing a person to make mind calm is thought, which is not physical energy, which can influence soul and also matter of body. Thought ― on a limited scale, emotions, desires and moods, would generate a field around the body and soul which is like electric field which would develop the need to have a positive mindset which would create a positive atmosphere around and such atmosphere can be said as “atma-sphere”. Thus prevailing modes with meditation, yoga and/or some physical exercise during the 24 hours cycle would keep you healthy, relax and energetic to do the work up to end and to overcome the stress which we would be facing. It also enlightened the power which would create power of thought, imagination, concentration, will-power and attitudinal change. It is wrongly understood that yoga means doing asnas or only physical exercise, that is not so, that is only a form of yoga. Yoga is not a religion. I would like to end this article with the wording of none other than His Lordship Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer as written by him in his book “Off the Bench”:

“The Upanishads are instinct with a spirit of inquiry, of mental adventure, of a passion for finding out the truth about things. The search of this truth is, of course, not by the objective methods of modern science, yet there is an element of the scientific method in the approach. No dogma is allowed to come in the way.

            The aforesaid is now supplemented with the passage of these 13 years which have made life more comfortable with equipment but we are today also facing the same mindset. The difference is these days we have time to devote after gadgets like mobile phones, laptop and other games for amusement but we do not have time for rejuvenating ourselves with the eclipse of Covid-19. We are once again required to rethink as to what should be our primary aim during this pandemic and post-pandemic. As human beings we are undergoing huge stress not only mentally but physically also. The crisis has brought about various issues which can be said to be ceaseless. The media today increases our stress level which in turn disturbs all our life patterns. The mental well-being, physical well-being and social well-being is the need of the day. Before 2020, India had not got a psychosocial toll-free helpline but now it has been started by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, refer to “health and well-being during Covid-19 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

            We have seen that moratorium are asked due to the lockdown scenario. Individuals and the families are on the brink of mental break down which leads to physical break down also.

            I would not tax the reader with huge sermons but would request my colleagues to follow a good diet regime coupled with what I would call mental well-being to come out of hopelessness, helplessness and we need to train ourselves what is known as mental well-being and follow the strategy so that psychological break down and suicidal tendencies are properly dealt with. Due to lockdown we need to adopt e-learning. We will have to manage our expectations and manage our stress threshold. I would suggest that make routine of your best companion and/or your friend. Hereby, the term “friend” means, faithful, revered, intimate, everlasting, never forsaking and dear. We will have to maintain connection by way of virtual forum.

            I would request each to be mindful and go for regular meditation. Hereby the term “meditation” means not only prayer but to concentrate and make our mind calm so that when we sit to work it give us a nice clinical recession to do our work. I am sure that we need to be mentally and physically well-equipped for the time to come. Mental health would be several family problems also. Here a question to be asked from me that we do not have proper health regime as there is a lockdown of gyms and walking track are also lockdown. Here I am reminded of my maternal uncle who used to stay in Bombay and his house comprised of one room which was partitioned into his kitchen and his bedroom. He used to do his morning exercise for one hour in that small closet and he continued his exercise till recent times. Covid-19 has taught of many lesson. One of them is to maintain yourself in whatever you have.

            The regulations like home confinement should not result in further mental or psychological stress and it is this which has to be avoided and for which we may devote our time for well-being.

            During this pandemic, the suicidal tendencies have also increased and, therefore, emotional well-being will have to be inculcated. An article by Dr Anil Kakunje may also be referred to along with the other websites which are for getting back for mental health and well-being for my brethren and the people at large.

            Thus the undersigned would sum up with a message that we should maintain the inner harmony of an individual vis-à-vis his social well-being. During this pandemic, there may be distancing but the distancing should be not so grave that the patient feels that he is socially boycotted which would in turn cause psychological depression in the entire family and even if Covid-19 does not strike us the after-effect would be so grave that we would be psychologically, physically and mentally we would be losing both health and wealth which would not be good for an individual, family and the society.

            I would like to quote Richard Bach who has always motivated me by his book  Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah wherein he highlights one aspect I quote “here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: if you are alive, it isn’t — illusions”.

            We will have to rejuvenate our respiratory system as both Covid-19 and H1N1 influenza damages our respiratory system and for that the best is as suggested above.

            I would end this article by quoting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar — “We don’t need an excuse to celebrate life”.


Judge, Allahabad High Court.

References:- While writing the article, I have extensively read the below-mentioned books and taken guidance from them while preparing this article.

  1. “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff and its’ all small stuff”.
  2. Know Your Body, II Edition, A Reader’s Digest Guide, RDI Print and Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
  3. New Beginnings; Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya.
  4. Off the Bench, by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer.
  5. The Speaking Tree- Times of India.
  6. Agony and Ecstasy of A Teenager by Abhisst Thaker
  7. How to Develop a Powerful and Positive Personality by Venkata Iyer
  8. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach.
  9. https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/covid-19
  10. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/
Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints the following Additional Judges as Permanent Judges:

S/Shri Justices (i) V.G. Arun (ii) N. Nagaresh (iii) T.V. Anilkumar, and (iv) N. Anil Kumar, Additional Judges of the Kerala High Court, to be Judges of the Kerala High Court with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective offices.

Read the notification, here: NOTIFICATION


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 11-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of M. Satyanarayana Murthy and Lalitha Kanneganti, JJ., ordered an enquiry into a conversation contained in pen-drive disclosing some material about designing a plot against the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and another sitting Judge of the Supreme Court.

Court stated that,

“Unfortunately, today it is an unpleasant or gloomy day in the history of High Court of Andhra Pradesh, because the High court itself has to ward-off the brazen onslaught from the third parties to demean the prestige of the pristine judicial institution in the eye of litigant public.”

Audio conversation contained in the pen drive disclosed that it was a serious conspiracy against the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court by designing a plot and sent a petition by the person who had a conversation with a person named S. Ramakrishna allegedly, but signed by Secretary of BC/SC/ST Association.

The said person insisted on Sri S. Ramakrishna to collect material against another senior most sitting Judge of the Supreme Court to mar his future career.

Bench stated that since the plot is designed against the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court with malafide intention unless the authenticity of the contents is established, Court cannot proceed against anyone.

Further, the Court observed that the way as to how the conversation between the two persons took place, would prima facie establish that there was a conspiracy against the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and Senior-most Judge of Supreme Court, pernicious acts of the person who made such allegation to be discouraged. Otherwise, the public may lose faith in the Courts.

Conversation discloses use of intemperate language against two senior most sitting Judges of the Supreme Court and it is a matter of serious concern.

Such conversation will certinly crumble the confidence of the public on Courts and system itself.

Further, the Court added that in the judicial process, it is the solemn duty of the Court to unravel the truth. In the present matter, only way to unravel the truth is to order necessary enquiry.

Truth should be the Guiding Star in the entire judicial process.

Hence, Court found the present case to be appropriate for ordering enquiry to find out the authenticity of the conversation contained in the pen-drive.

Therefore, Justice Raveendran, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India is requested to hold an enquiry to find out the authenticity of the conversation, with regard to the plot designed against the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and being designed against senior most sitting Judges of the Supreme Court and undisclosed interest of the third parties.

Director of CBI and Director of Intelligence Bureau are directed to depute responsible officers of the department to collect information from the agencies pertaining to the conversation contained in the pen-drive and other material collected from the Registry and submit the same to Justice R.V. Raveendran, retired Judge of Supreme Court of India.

Matter to be listed in 4 weeks.[BC, SC, ST Minority Student Federation v. Union Of India, 2020 SCC OnLine AP 652, decided on 13-08-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

Supreme Court Collegium approves the proposal for elevation of the following Advocates, as Judges of the Delhi High Court:

1. Jasmeet Singh,

2. Amit Bansal,

3. Tara Vitasta Ganju,

4. Anish Dayal,

5. Amit Sharma, and

6. Mini Pushkarna.


Supreme Court of India

[Collegium Statement dt. 17-08-2020]