Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case relating to dowry death, the bench of NV Ramana*, CJ and Aniruddha Bose, J has said that judges need to be extra careful while conducting criminal trials relating to Section 304-B, IPC. The Court went on to summarise the law under Section 304­B, IPC read with Section 113­B, Evidence Act and the guidelines to be followed by the Courts while conducting trials in such cases.

The Court noticed that, often, Trial Courts record the statement of an accused under Section 313, CrPC in a very casual and cursory manner, without specifically questioning the accused as to his defense.

“It ought to be noted that the examination of an accused under Section 313, CrPC cannot be treated as a mere procedural formality, as it is based on the fundamental principle of fairness.”

Hence, the Court must put incriminating circumstances before the accused and seek his response. A duty is also cast on the counsel of the accused to prepare his defense, since the inception of the trial, with due caution, keeping in consideration the peculiarities of Section 304¬B, IPC read with Section 113-B, Evidence Act.

Dowry deaths – Facts and Figures

A study titled “Global study on Homicide: Gender-related killing of women and girls”, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, highlighted that in 2018 female dowry deaths account for 40 to 50 percent of all female homicides recorded annually in India. The dismal truth is that from the period 1999 to 2016, these figures have remained constant.

The latest data furnished by the National Crime Records Bureau indicates that in 2019 itself, 7115 cases were registered under Section 304-B, IPC alone.

Law on dowry death – The trajectory

Section 304¬B, IPC is one among many legislative initiatives undertaken by Parliament to remedy a long-standing social evil of dowry death. The pestiferous nature of dowry harassment, wherein married women   are   being   subjected   to   cruelty   because   of   covetous demands by husband and his relatives has not gone unnoticed. The Parliament enacted the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 as a first step to eradicate this social evil. Further, as the measures were   found   to   be   insufficient,   the   Criminal   Law   (Second Amendment) Act, 1983 (Act 46 of 1983) was passed wherein Chapter XX-A was introduced in the IPC, containing Section 498¬A.

The need for a stringent law to curb dowry deaths was suo motu taken up by the Law Commission in its 91st Law Commission Report. The Law Commission recognized that the IPC, as it existed at that relevant time, was insufficient to tackle the issue of dowry deaths due to the nature and modus of the crime.

The Parliament, then, introduced amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act, as well as the IPC by enacting Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986 (Act 43 of 1986). By way of this amendment, Section 304-B, IPC was specifically introduced in the IPC, as a stringent provision to curb the menace of dowry death in India.

Margaret Alva, who presented the Amendment Bill before Rajya Sabha observed:

“You have never really heard of a girl being burnt while cooking in her mother’s  house or her husband’s  house. It is always in the mother-in-law’s house that she catches fire and is burnt in the kitchen. Therefore, getting evidence immediately becomes a great bit problem. Therefore, we have brought in a couple of amendments which give certain presumptions where the burden of proof shifts to the husband and to his people to show that it was not a dowry death or that it was not deliberately done.”

Dowry Death and Criminal Trial – Law Summarised

  1. Section 304¬B, IPC must be interpreted keeping in mind the legislative intent to curb the social evil of bride burning and dowry demand.
  2. The prosecution must at first establish the existence of the necessary ingredients for constituting an offence under Section 304-B, IPC. Once these ingredients are satisfied, the rebuttable presumption of causality, provided under Section 113¬B, Evidence Act operates against the accused.
  3. The phrase “soon before” as appearing in Section 304¬B, IPC cannot be construed to mean ‘immediately before’. The prosecution must establish existence of “proximate and live link” between the dowry death and cruelty or harassment for dowry demand by the husband or his relatives.
  4. Section 304-B, IPC does not take a pigeonhole approach in categorizing death as homicidal or suicidal or accidental. The reason for such non categorization is due to the fact that death occurring “otherwise than under normal circumstances” can, in cases, be homicidal or suicidal or accidental.
  5. Due to the precarious nature of Section 304-B, IPC read with 113¬B, Evidence Act, Judges, prosecution and defence should be careful during conduction of trial.
  6. It is a matter of grave concern that, often, Trial Courts record the statement under Section 313, CrPC in a very casual and cursory manner, without specifically questioning the accused as to his defense. It ought to be noted that the examination of an accused under Section 313, CrPC cannot be treated as a mere procedural formality, as it based on the fundamental principle of fairness. This aforesaid provision incorporates the valuable principle of natural justice “audi alteram partem” as it enables the accused to offer an explanation for the incriminatory material appearing against him. Therefore, it imposes an obligation on the court to question the accused fairly, with care and caution.
  7. The Court must put incriminating circumstances before the accused and seek his response. A duty is also cast on the counsel of the accused to prepare his defense since the inception of the Trial with due caution, keeping   in consideration the peculiarities of Section 304-B, IPC read with Section 113¬B, Evidence Act.
  8. Section 232, CrPC provides that, “If, after taking the evidence for the prosecution, examining   the accused and hearing the prosecution and the defence on the point, the Judge considers that there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence, the Judge shall record an order of acquittal”. Such discretion must be utilized by the Trial Courts as an obligation of best efforts.
  9. Once the Trial Court decides that the accused is not eligible to be acquitted as per the provisions of Section 232, CrPC, it must move on and fix hearings specifically for ‘defence evidence’, calling upon the accused to present his defense as per the procedure provided under Section 233, CrPC, which is also an invaluable right provided to the accused.
  10. In the same breath, Trial Courts need to balance other important considerations such as the right to a speedy trial.
  11. The presiding Judge should follow the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court while sentencing and imposing appropriate punishment.
  12. Undoubtedly, the menace of dowry death is increasing day by day, however, sometimes family members of the husband are roped in, even though they have no active role in commission of the offence and are residing at distant places. In these cases, the Court need to be cautious in its approach.

[Satbir Singh v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 404, decided on 28.05.2021]


Judgment by: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana 

Know Thy Judge| Justice N.V. Ramana

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a woman died of burn injuries one year into her marriage, the bench of NV Ramana*, CJ and Aniruddha Bose, J has held that Courts should use their discretion to determine if the period between the cruelty or harassment and the death of the victim   would come within the term “soon before” as the factum of cruelty or harassment differs from case to case.

“When the legislature used the words, “soon before” they did not mean “immediately before”. Rather, they left its determination in the hands of the courts.”

Background

A woman got married to a man in July, 1994. As fate would have it, she died exactly after year after receiving burn injuries, allegedly after she set herself ablaze due to being subjected to cruelty and dowry demand at the hands of her husband and in-laws. The appellants were convicted by the Trial Court in December, 1997 for the offences under Sections 304¬B and 306, IPC and were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years for the offence punishable under Section 304-B, IPC and to undergo rigorous imprisonment for five years for the offence punishable under Section 306, IPC.

In November, 2008, the Punjab and Haryana High Court also  upheld the order of the Trial Court and dismissed the appeal filed by the appellants.

Analysis

Was the offence under Section 304-B IPC made out?

“Soon before” – Interpretation

When the legislature used the words, “soon before” they did not mean “immediately before”. Rather, they left its determination in the hands of the courts. The factum of cruelty or harassment differs from case to case. Even the spectrum of cruelty is quite varied, as it can range from physical, verbal or even emotional. This list is certainly not exhaustive. Therefore, Courts should use their discretion to determine if the period between the cruelty or harassment and the death of the victim   would come within the term “soon before”.

“What is pivotal to the above determination, is the establishment of a “proximate and live link” between the cruelty and the consequential death of the victim.”

When the prosecution shows that ‘soon before her death such woman has been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry’, a presumption of causation arises against the accused under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act. Thereafter, the accused has to rebut this statutory presumption.

Further, Section 304-B, IPC does not take a pigeonhole approach in categorizing death as homicidal   or suicidal or accidental, as was done earlier. The reason for such non categorization is due to the fact that death occurring “otherwise than under normal circumstances” can, in cases, be homicidal or suicidal or accidental. However, the Section 304-B, IPC endeavors to also address those situations wherein murders or suicide are masqueraded as accidents.

“Therefore, if all the other ingredients of Section 304¬B IPC are fulfilled, any death whether caused by burns or by bodily injury or occurring otherwise than under normal circumstances shall, as per the legislative mandate, be called a “dowry death” and the woman’s husband or his relative “shall be deemed to have caused her death” unless proved otherwise.”

Chain of circumstances  – Where did it lead?

  • The deceased and accused were married on 01.07.1994, and the death of the lady occurred on 31.07.1995.
  • According to the evidence of the doctor, the entire body of the deceased was doused with kerosene oil. Therefore, the possibility of an accident was ruled out.
  • The Deceased had disclosed to her brother, within a month after her marriage that the accused, husband and mother-in-law, used to physically harass her on the account of bringing insufficient dowry. Furthermore, the accused persons had made a specific demand of a scooter. Pursuant to this disclosure, she was brought back to her paternal house.
  • Only a month prior to her death, the deceased had returned to her matrimonial house. However, the accused still used to harass the deceased for dowry. The aforesaid fact was revealed by the deceased to her father, when she had come to visit him.
  • Just a week before the death, on the occasion of Teej festival, another brother of the deceased had visited her while she was in her matrimonial home. The deceased had reiterated her plight to her
  • On 31.07.1995, the father of the deceased was informed by some villagers that his daughter has been admitted in the hospital. Upon reaching, the father discovered that the deceased succumbed to burn injuries.

“The aforesaid chain of circumstances proves that there existed a live and proximate link between the instances of demand of dowry and the death of the deceased.”

The court noticed that since the ingredients of Section 304¬B, IPC stoodsatisfied, the presumption under 113¬B, Evidence Act operated against the appellants, who are deemed to have caused the offence specified under Section 304-B of IPC. The burden therefore shifted on the accused to rebut the aforesaid presumption, who in turn, failed to make out a case for acquittal.

Was the offence under Section 306 IPC made out?

A bare reading of the provision indicates that for the offence under Section 306, IPC the prosecution needs to first establish that a suicide has been committed. Secondly, the prosecution must also prove that the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide, has played an active role in the same.

With respect to this latter requirement, Section 113¬A, Evidence Act creates a presumption against the husband and/or his relative with respect to the abetment of suicide of a married woman, under certain conditions. Not going into the other conditions, a perusal of the provision indicates that such presumption shall be attracted only if the factum of suicide has been established by the prosecution first.

However, in the present case, the conclusion reached by the Courts below was based on assumptions, as there is no evidence on record to support the same.

The reasoning of the Trial Court in this regard was:

“Further, there is no direct evidence having been adduced by the prosecution the (sic) any of the accused caused death by sprinkling kerosene on the body of the deceased, the only possibility is that Meena Kumari put an end to her life by sprinkling kerosene on her body.”

Hence, since there was insufficient evidence to prove the factum of suicide beyond reasonable doubt, the presumption under Section 113-A, Evidence Act, is not of much help for the prosecution. The essential ingredient of deceased committing suicide has not been proved by the prosecution by adducing sufficient evidence.

“In the present case, the prosecution has failed to establish that the death occurred due to suicide. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the finding of the Courts below convicting the appellants under Section 306, IPC merits interference by this Court.”

Conclusion

Conviction under Section 304-B IPC was upheld and conviction and sentence under Section 306, IPC was set aside.

[Satbir Singh v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 404, decided on 28.05.2021]


Judgment by: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana

Know Thy Judge| Justice N.V. Ramana

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Arindam Lodh, J., dismissed a petition which was filed by the petitioner to resolve her grievance in consonance with the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The petitioner was posted at Indian Council of Agricultural Research Centre [ICAR] for North Eastern Hills Region, Tripura Centre and during her service she had submitted a complaint on 05-12-2018 alleging sexual harassment as contemplated under Section 9 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 [Act of 2013]. After which internal complaints committee had submitted its report where the committee had exonerated the respondent 6. The petitioner then had preferred an appeal against the said recommendation by the committee under Section 18(1) of the Act of 2013. Since the said statutory appeal is still not disposed off, the petitioner had approached this court by way of invoking the jurisdiction of this court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

 Mr B. Majumder, Assistant S.G., counsel for the respondent had raised a preliminary objection in regard to the jurisdiction of this court to grant the reliefs as sought for by the petitioner. He had contended that the grievances of the petitioner related to “service matters” and in view of notification under Section 14(2) of the A.T. Act, the appropriate forum was the CAT being the court of first instance for the purpose of adjudication of disputes relating to “service matters”.

The main argument of the counsel of the petitioner, Mr . Somik Deb and Mr S. Bhattacharjee on the question of maintainability was that the petitioner being aggrieved of the recommendation made by the Local Complaints Committee had preferred an appeal and since the appeal was not disposed off for a considerable period of time, the petitioner approached this court for a direction upon the concerned respondents to dispose of the appeal within a certain period of time. However, it was noticed that at prayer 2 of the writ petition, the petitioner had sought for a direction upon the appellate authority to accept the additional ground on the report of the External Committee. He further contended that that subject of sexual harassment has not been included in the definition of “service matters” as contemplated under Section 3(q) of the A.T.Act, 1985.

The Court opined that Section 11 of the Act of 2013 makes it clear that where the ‘respondent’ is an employee and the Internal Committee or the Local Committee proceeds to make inquiry into the complaint, it will be an inquiry in accordance with the provisions of service rules. Thus, the intention of the legislature was to make an inquiry into the complaint in accordance with the provisions of the service rules. The proceedings undertaken by the Internal Complaints Committee of the respondent No.2 and the reports of the Committee thereof [Annexure 5 to the writ petition], on the face of it reveals that the Committee has taken into account the service rules i.e. CCS (CCA) Rules and CCS (Conduct) Rules. Section 19(i) of the Act of 2013 makes it clear that the employer is duty bound to treat sexual harassment as a ‘misconduct’ under the service rule and initiate action for such ‘misconduct’. Section 13(2) further makes it clear that where the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be arrives at a conclusion that the allegation against the respondent has not been proved, it shall recommend to the employer that no action is required to be taken in the matter.

The Court found that the bare perusal of the Section 14 of the CAT makes it abundantly clear that all “service matters” pertaining to service in connection with the affairs of the Union can be decided by the Tribunal.

The Court while dismissing the petition held that internal inquiry as initiated on the basis of the complaint of the petitioner falls within the ambit of the definitions of “service matters”. Thus, in the conscious consideration of this court, the Tribunal will have jurisdiction to decide the said aspect. The Court quoted the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, (1997) 3 SCC 261 where it was held that Tribunal is the court of first instance and it will not be open for the litigant to approach the High Court as a court of first instance (Para 93).

The court explained that the grievance of the petitioner falls within the ambit of “disciplinary matters” which is inclusive of the definition of “service matters” as contemplated under Section 3(q) of the A.T.Act,1985.

[Rekha Das v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 274, decided on 17-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Hot Off The PressNews

National Human Rights Commission, India has taken cognizance of complaints alleging that there has been an exponential increase in the incidents of crime against women in Rajasthan.

Allegedly, 80,000 cases were registered in the State pertaining to the crime against women in the last one year. Out of which more than 12,000 are rape cases. Giving the press clippings in support of the allegations, the Commission has requested for its intervention in the matter.

The Commission has observed that the allegations and the incidents appear to be serious in nature indicating violation of human rights. It appears that there has been an unabated crime against women in the State, which raises a question mark on the efficacy of the State Machinery in curbing such crimes. It is the cardinal duty of the State to protect the rights of the women and punish the perpetrators without fail.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, and the Director-General of Police, Rajasthan directing them to enquire into the specific incidents and submit an Action Taken Report mentioning each of the incidents to the Commission within four weeks. They shall also inform the Commission about the steps being taken by the State for inspiring confidence in the women and the girls ensuring their safety and security in the State.

Highlighting the state of affairs with regards to crime against women, the complainant has drawn the attention of the Commission towards some of the following incidents that happened in the last one month and has requested its intervention in the matter:

1. Kidnapping of a minor girl at Jalore, on 22.03.2021 and self-immolation by the mother of the victim because of the inaction of the authority.

2. Gang-rape of a minor at Kota by more than 30 persons between 25.02.2021 to 06.03.2021.

3. Gang-rape victim was burnt alive at Hanumangarh on 05.03.2021.

4. Gang-rape of a woman at Kota on 06.03.2021.

5. Rape of a woman by the ASI when she came to lodge a report, on 07.03.2021.

6. Rape of a woman at Ajmer on 08.03.2021.

7. Disrobing and beating of the mother and the daughter on 09.03.2021.

8. Attempt to kidnap and rape of a teacher on 13.03.2021.

9. Attempt to rape of a woman at the DCP Office by the ACP, on 14.03.2021.

10. Rape of a patient in the ICU by the Nursing Person at Jaipur, on 15.03.2021.

11. Rape and making an obscene video of a woman on 15.03.2021.

12. Many incidents like gang-rape of a minor at Jhunjhunu, rape of a 6-year-old child in Sri Ganganagar, sexual harassment of a girl in Bhilwara, kidnapping and rape of a minor at Alwar, rape and making of obscene video of a girl, on 18.03.2021.

13. Beating by use of lathi of a pregnant daughter at Village Sirana, Pali, on 19.03.2021.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 26-03-2021]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of NV Ramana* and Surya Kant, JJ has acquitted a man convicted under Section 498­A read with Section 34 IPC for the death of his brother’s wife after it was found that the case against him was not proved beyond doubt.

Allegedly, after several instances of abuse at her matrimonial home, the deceased went to live with her parents. On the fateful day, her husband came to visit her and took her for a walk but came back alone and hurriedly packed his belongings to leave. When confronted about the whereabouts of the deceased, he said   that the deceased was attending the call of nature and would be back soon. He left thereafter. When the deceased did not return after an hour, the complainant started searching for her and she was   ultimately found dead, near a canal with strangulation marks on her neck.

Deceased’s husband, Brother-in-law (the appellant herein) and Father-in-law were convicted under Section 498-A read with Section 34 IPC.

In the present appeal, the deceased’s brother-in-law contended that the prosecution story comprises of vague allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence and that the entire family has been roped in this case. Thus, the conviction of the appellant cannot be sustained.

The prosecution had alleged that the appellant in the present case, had, along with his brother and father, demanded dowry of Rs. 10,000 from the family of the deceased at the time of the vidai ceremony and had continued to harass her for the non-payment of the same.

On perusal of the testimonies of the witnesses, the Court noticed that deceased’s father had named the appellant-accused in the same breath along with other accused persons and their family members accusing them of troubling the deceased for demand of dowry of Rs. 10,000/-.

However, apart from the vague allegations, no specific instance of hostile attitude or persistent demands of dowry have been pointed out by any of the witnesses. All other independent witnesses have turned hostile and have not supported the prosecution story. Also, the paternal uncle of the deceased and a witness named in the FIR, has not supported the prosecution story.

The Court, hence, concluded that on consideration of the oral testimonies of the witnesses, the ingredients of Section 498-A IPC have not been proved against the appellant by the prosecution at the standard of beyond reasonable doubt and, hence, acquitted the appellant.

The Court also discharged the bail bonds of the appellant who is out on bail since September, 2010.

[Nimay Sah v. State of Jharkhand, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 982, 02.12.2020]


*Justice NV Ramana has penned this judgment. Read more about him here

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a bid to make criminal justice system responsive in cases relating to sexual assaults, a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ has sought information with regard to status of affairs at ground level from various duty holders like investigation agencies, prosecution, medico-forensic agencies, rehabilitation, legal aid agencies and also Courts to get a holistic view.

Taking note of the fact that post Nirbhaya incident, which shocked the conscience of the nation, many amendments were introduced in criminal law redefining the ambit of offences, providing for effective and speedy investigation and trial, the Court noticed that still the desired results were not achieved and that as per the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau of Crime in India in the year 2017, total 32,559 cases of rape were registered in India. It said,

“The Nirbhaya case is not an isolated case where it has taken so long to reach finality. In fact, it is said that it has been one of the cases where agencies have acted swiftly taking into account the public outrage.”

Here are some of the most important information sought by the Court:

Registration of FIR by woman police officer

  • whether all the Police Stations have a woman police officer or woman officer to record the information of the victim?
  • whether provisions are available for recording of first information by a woman police officer or a woman officer at the residence of the victim or any other place of choice of such person in case the victim is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled?

Failure of a public servant to record any information of sexual assault offences

  • whether any case has been registered under the Section 166A of IPC against any public servant?
  • whether there is any mechanism in place to complain about the non-recording of information by the officer giving cause to offence under Section 166A with any other institution/office, other than the concerned police station?

Medical treatment and examination of the victim

  • whether any advisory or guidelines have been issued by the authorities to all the hospitals and medical centres in this regard?
  • whether the medical experts have done away with the Per-Vaginum examination commonly referred to as ‘Two-finger test’ and whether any directions have been issued by the states in this regard?
  • whether medical experts have done away with the practice of giving opinion on the previous sexual experience of the victim or any directions have been issued by the states in this regard?
  • whether the Medical Opinion in the cases relating to rape and similar offences is being given in tune with definition of rape under Section 375 of IPC as it stands today?
  • whether the states have adopted the Guidelines & Protocols of The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India or have they prepared their own Guidelines & Protocols?
  • whether requisite Medico-forensic kit are available with all the hospitals/health centres run by the Government or by local authorities?

“Medical treatment and examination of the victim is a very important aspect not only for the immediate relief to the victim but also provides intrinsic evidences for the trial.”

Completion of Investigation

  • whether police is completing the investigation and submitting the final report within a period of two months from the date of recording of information of the offence and if no, reasons for delay?

Trial before a woman judge

  • whether trial of cases relating to rape are being conducted by Courts presided over by a woman?
  • whether sufficient number of lady judges are available to preside over the Courts dealing with sexual offences and rape?
  • whether all courts holding trial of cases relating to offence of rape have requisite infrastructure and are conducting in camera trial?
  • whether the trial relating to cases of rape is being completed within a period of two months from the date of filing of charge-sheet, if not, the reasons for the delay?

Victim and witness protection

  • whether any policy of victim/witness protection in the cases relating to rape is framed and implemented?
  • whether police protection is being provided to the victim during investigation and trial of the offence?
  • whether the trial Courts have taken appropriate measures to ensure that victim woman is not confronted by the accused during the trial as mandated by Section 273 Cr.P.C.?

“The protection of witness during the investigation and trial is essential in cases of this sensitive nature. Many a times the accused live in proximity of the victim. The possibility of tampering with evidence and pressurizing the witness affects fair trial.”

Utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund

In the year 2013, a separate fund namely Nirbhaya Fund for projects of women safety to support initiatives by government and NGOs was created. The Court called for the status of utilization of the Nirbhaya Fund by Central or State Government(s).

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra will assist the Court as Amicus Curiae in the matter and the matter will next be taken up on 07.02.2020.

[In re: Assessment of the Criminal Justice System in response to Sexual Offences, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1654, order dated 18.12.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:

“The heinous crime committed should not be led into prosecuting a person only because he was part of the Management of the School.”

The bench of L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, JJ said while quashing the trial against a member of the School management in a case relating to sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl in her school in Haldwani.

The FIR filed by the father of the prosecuterix mentioned that a teacher had sexually assaulted his daughter. In the first statement recorded, the prosecuterix mentioned that the teacher had deliberately and repeatedly assaulted her. However, in another statement, she stated that after she returned from washroom, two Uncles came and picked her away. She also mentioned that these two persons work outside school. She said that one of them wore spectacles. The father of the prosecutrix filed an application to summon the person who wears spectacles, as identified by the victim. She then identified the appellant as the bespectacled person. The principal of the School, however, in a statement issued by her, said that the anger was directed against the Management of the School of which the appellant is a part and hence, his name was dragged in a offence he never committed.

Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court noticed that the prosecutrix is a small child. It is parents of the child who have taken the photographs either from the website of the School or from the Facebook to introduce a person with spectacles as an accused. The initial version of the father of the prosecutrix and of the prosecutrix herself, as disclosed by her father in the FIR, is assault by one person. It said that even if the father of the child has basis to be angry with the Management of the School but, there is no prima facie case of any active part on the part of the appellant is made out in violating the small child. The involvement of other persons on the statement of the child of impressionable age does not inspire confidence that the appellant is liable to be proceeded under Section 319 of the Code. In fact, it is suggestive role of the family which influences the mind of the child to indirectly implicate the appellant.

“Obviously, the father of the child must have anger against the Management of the School as his child was violated when she was studying in the School managed by the appellant but, we find that the anger of the father against the Management of the School including the appellant is not sufficient to make him to stand trial for the offences punishable under Section 376(2) of the IPC read with Sections 5/6 of the POCSO Act.”

The Court also took note of the fact that the prosecution after investigations has found no material to charge the appellant. It, hence, held that statement of the child so as to involve a person wearing spectacles as an accused does not inspire confidence disclosing more than prima facie to make him to stand trial of the offences. Therefore, the order of summoning the appellant under Section 319 of the Code is not legal.

[Mani Pushpak Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1362, decided on 17.10.2019]

Op EdsOP. ED.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination projected through unwelcomed sexually determined behaviour.[1] It is a violation of women’s right to life, equality and liberty; creates an insecure and hostile work environment for them.[2] It permeates all strata, ranging from unorganised sector to the corporate.[3]

In India, the development of laws related to sexual harassment has a relatively recent genesis. Prior to 1997, there was no mechanism to deal with complaints made to the authorities by women with regard to sexual harassment at the workplace.[4] The judgment in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan[5] was the first step where the Supreme Court held the impugned practice to be a violation of human rights. It was a case of the gang rape of Bhanwari Devi, an employee of the Rural Development Programme of Government of Rajasthan who attempted to stop child marriage.

Nearly 15 years after the issuance of Vishaka guidelines, Parliament passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Analysis of the Act

The said Act is applicable to the country as a whole whether in public, private, formal or informal sectors. The Act attempts to protect vulnerable workers who are not covered by the labour laws or are a part of a union such as domestic workers. The downside in the case of domestic workers being covered in this Act is that their remedy is only a police complaint of sexual harassment, under Section 509 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

The statute makes it mandatory for all employers, whether in the public or private sector to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in order to enquire into complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace, take preventive measures to ensure that the work environment maybe be conducive to women.[6]

The Act provides that complaint of sexual harassment has to be made to ICC or the Local Complaints Committee (LCC) within a period of three months from the date of the incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of the last incident.[7] This is an unfortunate provision as the courts from the very beginning have recognised that sexual harassment at workplace entails a relationship of domination between perpetrator and the victim, as a result of which the victim is often unable to protest apprehending adverse consequences upon her conditions of employment, career advancement and even her job itself. This time-limit has not been envisaged by Vishaka[8] judgment or any other judicial precedent. The statute itself permits filing of complaints by persons other than the aggrieved woman because in such cases it is not always possible for the victim herself to come forward.[9] Thus, it is unreasonable that the aggrieved woman’s right to approach the complaints mechanism is extinguished merely because of the time-lapse.

The nature of punishment can be in the form of a written apology, warning, reprimand withholding of promotion, withholding of pay rise or termination from service.[10] However, the punishment imposed can only the ones provided under the relevant service rules or labour law or contract of employment. Monetary compensation can also be paid by the respondent to the complainant, which is deducted from his salary or wages and this provision is irrespective of anything contained in the service rules.[11] The amount of compensation is calculated on the basis of emotional distress faced by the victim, loss in career opportunity, income and financial status of the respondent.[12] A fundamental critique of this is that the power to decide compensation is vested in the hands of a non-judicial body as it is essentially a judicial function.[13] Also, there is no further guidance provided as to how to arrive at the sum of compensation.

The Act provides that before initiating an enquiry, the LCC or ICC has an option to settle the matter through conciliation only at the request of the aggrieved woman, although no monetary compensation can be a part of this process.[14] This provision, however, is severely criticised; the Verma Committee stated that any such attempt is yet another way to undermine the dignity of women.[15] It also ignores the mandate of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Constitution of India which hold it unethical to expect to negotiate an outcome between the aggrieved woman and alleged perpetrator and being against fundamental rights respectively.

Section 14 of the Act provides for punishment of the complainant in the event of the false or malicious complainant. It clarifies that mere inability to substantiate a complaint or provide adequate proof will not attract action against the complainant. However, it is problematic as subjecting the woman to such fear and distress even before bringing up the complaint defeats the very purpose of the Act. If such provisions have to be made at all, the power to decide should be in the hands of courts of law as opposed to bodies such as ICC or LCC. Right to appeal is also available in accordance with provisions of the service rules applicable or where no such rules exist, under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.[16] The statutory limitation is 90 days from the date of such action/recommendation. Appellate authority varies from State to State. The Act also confers duties upon the employer[17] to take steps to ensure a safe working environment for women employees.

With regard to examine allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Judges/Chief Justices of High Courts (HCs) and Judges of the Supreme Court, the decision rendered in C. Ravichandran Iyer v. A.M. Bhattacharjee[18] laid down the process of “in-house procedure”. In this, the allegations against a Judge are examined by his peers. Its constitution is under the charge of the Chief Justice of India; it is confidential and kept out of public domain to preserve the credibility of the institution. However, in Addl. District and Sessions Judge ‘X’ v. High Court of M.P.[19], it was held that the Bench examining such allegations should not consist of the Judges from the same court.

Comparative Analysis with Laws Across the World

The 2013 Act like the provisions in Australia, Switzerland is inclusive as far as widening the definitions of sexual harassment, workplace, and aggrieved woman are concerned unlike countries such as Brazil where it is restricted to persons in a superior position asking for sexual favours[20] or Germany where it is not punishable by any law at all. But it lacks strict punishments such as imprisonment and large sums of fine payable, in countries such as France, Zimbabwe, and Israel.

It is unfortunate that the 2013 Act does not place any obligation on the employer on the grounds of vicarious liability to give monetary compensation to the aggrieved woman. To this extent, the aggrieved woman has to approach the court for damages by the way of tort law.[21] In the United Kingdom (UK), an employer can be held vicariously liable for the harassment by co-workers. This has been illustrated in cases such as Jones v. Tower Boot Co. Ltd.[22] and Chief Constable of Lincolshire Police v. Stubbs[23]. In the United States of America (USA) also, the employer is vicariously liable but in defence, he/she only needs to demonstrate that immediate action was taken once the incident had come to the attention of the employer.[24]

In India, in only a limited number of cases courts have accorded compensation to aggrieved women following the failure of employers to comply with Vishaka guidelines. Manisha Sharma v. Union of India[25] was one such case, where there was sexual harassment at the workplace in the Northern Railways. The Court held that the composition of the Inquiry Committee was not as per the Vishaka guidelines, thus the Indian Railways was held vicariously liable and had to pay compensation.

There is a dire need to address the loopholes in the present law, in order for it to be more pertinent for women and the duty of employers to ensure a lawfully constituted and approachable Complaints Committee.


  IIIrd year, BA LLB (Hons.), National Law University, Delhi, e-mail: simran.jain@nludelhi.ac.in.

[1]   Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, (1997) 6 SCC 241: AIR 1997 SC 3011.

[2]   Geetha K.K., Bill on Sexual Harassment: Against Women’s Rights, (2012), Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLVII No. 3.

[3]   Ibid.

[4]   Indira Jaising, Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 2014) p. 2.

[5]   Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, (1997) 6 SCC 241.

[6]   S. 4(2) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (2013 Act).

[7]   S. 9(1) of the 2013 Act.

[8]   Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, (1997) 6 SCC 241.

[9]   Indira Jaising, Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 2014).

[10]  R. 7(6) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 (2013 Rules).

[11]  S. 13(3)(ii) of the 2013 Act.

[12]  S. 15 of the 2013 Act.

[13]  Indira Jaising, Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 2014).

[14]  S. 10 of the 2013 Act.

[15]  Justice J.S. Verma Committee, Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law, 66 (23-01-2013).

[16]  R. 11 of the 2013 Rules.

[17]  S. 26 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

[18]  (1995) 5 SCC 457.

[19]  (2015) 4 SCC 91.

[20]  Ungender, Ensuring Diversity and Inclusivity through Legal Compliance <https://www.ungender.in/single-post/Sexual-Harassment-workplace-laws-across-the-world>

[21]  Indira Jaising, Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 2014).

[22]  1996 EWCA (Civ) 1185 : 1997 ICR 254.

[23]  1999 IRLR 81.

[24]  Ibid.

[25]  2012 SCC OnLine Del 6352 : (2013) 196 DLT 741.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A Supreme Court-appointed one-man panel, holding inquiry into allegations of “larger conspiracy” to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has completed the inquiry and is likely to submit the report by mid September.

Sources said Tuesday that Justice A K Patnaik, a retired Supreme Court judge who was appointed by the Supreme Court, examined advocate Utsav Singh Bains, who had made several allegations including fixing of benches in the Supreme Court.

“The affidavit filed by Bains and other documents were examined by the panel. Now, the panel will complete the report and submit it to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover by second week of September,”

Justice Patnaik examined the lawyer from 11 am to 1 pm and his statement was recorded.

The Court had on April 25 constituted the panel to hold inquiry into the allegations of Bains and had asked the Directors of CBI and Intelligence Bureau (IB) as also the Delhi Police Commissioner to cooperate with Justice Patnaik as and when required by him.

A special 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta, JJ  had said that on the completion of inquiry, Justice Patnaik will file a report in a sealed cover before the court after which the matter will be heard again.

The bench, however, clarified that the outcome of the inquiry shall not affect the in-house procedure/inquiry which is pending in the administrative side in any manner whatsoever. It said,

“this inquiry shall not be with respect to the alleged misbehaviour involving Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India. This is with respect to the contents of the affidavits, whether the affidavits are correct or not.”

On May 6, CJI had got the clean chit from the Supreme Court’s In-House Inquiry Committee which “found no substance” in the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him. The In-House Inquiry Committee was headed by Justice S A Bobde and comprised of two woman judges of the apex court — Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

While hearing claims made by Bains that there was a “larger conspiracy” to frame the CJI, the Court had said that there is systematic attempt/game against the Supreme Court. It said,

“We are in anguish the way this institution is being treated for the last 3-4 years is as if this institution will die. This is the court made by the likes of Fali Nariman, Nani Palkhiwala, K Parasaran. … Every day we hear about bench-fixing, every day we hear of wrong practices in this court. This has to go. The day has come when we have to rise to the occasion and tell the rich and powerful that they cannot run the Supreme Court. … Don’t provoke us anymore. We want to tell the rich and the powerful that they are playing with fire. This is not the way a country can run,”

(With inputs from PTI)


Also Read: 

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: 2-judge bench to hear the matter after CJI opts out mid-way

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Order on advocate’s claims of conspiracy to frame CJI Gogoi reserved

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Justice AK Patnaik to look into ‘conspiracy’ angle

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Court has asked CBI to investigate within 7 days the mysterious case of the accident in which the Unnao rape survivor was seriously injured along with her lawyer while her two aunts were killed in Rae Bareli on Sunday. The investigation is to be conducted by Secretary General under supervision of sitting SC judge nominated by CJI, to ascertain whether there was any lapse/negligence by registry officials in delay in processing letter of Unnao rape victim’s mother to CJI.

Ranjan Gogoi, CJ gave the direction to the agency after dismissing Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta’s plea for a month’s time for completing the probe. CJI said,

 “A month? Probe should be completed within 7 days in the accident case, however, as an exception, CBI can take another week, but in no circumstance shall the probe extend beyond a fortnight.

The Court has transferred the trial of all the cases related to Unnao rape incident from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi and the designated judge in Delhi will commence the trial on day-to-day basis and complete the trial within 45 days.

As an interim measure, the Court has directed the UP government to pay Rs 25 lakh as compensation to the victim and also directed that security & protection be granted to the victim, her lawyer, mother of the victim, the four siblings of the victim, her uncle, and immediate family members in the village in Unnao.

Earlier in the day, the CJI ordered the CBI to present the status of the investigations after the agency was given charge of the probe into the accident and the FIR that included murder charges against rape accused and BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar.
When the SG said the Investigating Officer was out of station and sought time till tomorrow morning for the agency to submit a report, the CJI dismissed it asking CBI to depute some ‘responsible’ official who can gather the information over phone and present it to the court. CBI Joint Director Sampat Meena, a woman officer, appeared before the bench and gave the status of the probe into the two cases.

On July 28, a truck rammed into the vehicle in which the Unnao rape survivor, her counsel and two aunts were travelling to Raebareli. While she and her lawyer sustained grievous injuries, her aunts were killed on the spot. The Unnao rape
survivor and her lawyer, who is being treated at King George’s Medical University are stable, the hospital said on Wednesday.

The Uttar Pradesh Police filed a case of murder against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and nine others in connection with the accident. Meanwhile, the BJP has expelled MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar amidst the controversy.

(Source: ANI)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: A Bench of Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, C.J. and H.S. Thangkhiew, J. set aside the conviction and sentence inflicted upon the appellant for an offence of “kidnapping abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.”, punishable under Section 366 IPC.

As per the prosecution, on the day of the incident, the prosecutrix boarded the appellant’s auto rickshaw for her home. It was alleged that the appellant deliberately avoided to stop the autorickshaw at the destination (home of the prosecutrix). This prompted the prosecutrix to jump out of the autorickshaw, as a result whereof she was injured and became unconscious. The appellant was booked for an offence under Section 366  and was convicted by the trial court. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the present appeal.

The High Court noted that the star witness — the prosecutrix —  did not support the prosecution case of kidnapping. As per the Court, the case was registered on the basis of imaginationIt was further noted that the appellant did not know the home of the prosecutrix or the point where he had to stop and as stated by him, there was noise of trucks and maybe due to that, he was unable to hear the voice of prosecutrix. Referring to the ingredients under Section 366, it was observed: “There is not an iota of evidence to suggest that the prosecutrix was in any manner compelled to marry or likely to be compelled to intercourse so as to constitute offence punishable under Section 366 intention directly or indirectly shall be gatherable from the evidence.”

Furthermore, an important question is whether the accused knew where the house of the prosecutrix was situated nor it is stated in any manner that she had asked the driver to stop and he refused. It is nowhere emerging from the evidence that the auto rickshaw driver while driving the auto rickshaw … had deviated from the main road..”

Holding that the prosecutrix got apprehensive of her own and there was nothing on part of the appellant which could constitute offence under Section 366 IPC, the Court observed: “Learned trial court appears to have been swayed by the rise of cases of sexual harassment against women and minor children …Any offence against women and minor children is totally unacceptable but in the name of the same, an innocent person cannot be convicted or sentenced. Any person who dares or tries to commit such offence cannot be shown any leniency but at the same time without any basis, a person cannot be convicted and sentenced.”

In such view of the matter, the appeal was allowed and set at liberty. [Jerman Syngkli v. State of Meghalaya, Crl. A. No. 1 of 2019, Order dated 01-05-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

The In-House committee, headed by Justice SA Bobde, also comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, found “no substance” in the sexual harassment allegations levelled by a former Supreme Court employee against the CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

The notice published on Supreme Court website read that the report has been submitted to the next senior judge competent to received the report i.e. Justice Arun Mishra. A copy of the report has also been handed over to the Chief Justice. It also stated that according to the verdict in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India, (2003) 5 SCC 494, the report of any Committee constituted as a part of in-house procedure can’t be made public.

The former employee had submitted her complaint against the CJI in an affidavit form to 22 Supreme Court judges on April 19.


Also Read: 

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: 2-judge bench to hear the matter after CJI opts out mid-way

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Order on advocate’s claims of conspiracy to frame CJI Gogoi reserved

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Justice AK Patnaik to look into ‘conspiracy’ angle

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A special 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta, JJ has appointed former Supreme Court judge, Justice A. K. Patnaik, to hold an inquiry into the allegations made in the affidavits.to probe an advocate’s claim that there was a “conspiracy” to frame Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case.

The bench, however, clarified that the outcome of the inquiry shall not affect the in-house procedure/inquiry which is pending in the administrative side in any manner whatsoever. It said,

“this inquiry shall not be with respect to the alleged misbehaviour involving Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India. This is with respect to the contents of the affidavits, whether the affidavits are correct or not.”

The Court also asked the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to cooperate with the Hon’ble Judge as and when their services are required at any point of time for the purpose of investigation of the matter.

Asking Justice Patnaik to submit a report to this Court on the basis of the inquiry as to the allegations mentioned in the affidavits, the bench said that it will next take up the matter after the report is submitted.

On 24.04.2019, Advocate Bains had submitted an affidavit in Court in a sealed cover. The bench had directed that,

“It is to be kept in a sealed cover in total confidentiality, as it contains highly sensitive information pertaining to the alleged conspiracy, according to him, to frame Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India into a case of sexual harassment.”

Naming Tapan Kumar Chakraborty and Manav Sharma and others in his affidavit, Advocate Bains had mentioned that,

“the disgruntled employees have ganged together in order to frame Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India in the false charge of sexual harassment after their dismissal from their services.”

He has also alleged that they have asserted that they could fix the Bench of the Judges.

The Court had, on 24.04.2019, said,

“Considering the seriousness of the allegations as the system has absolutely no place for such fixers, we cannot leave the matter at that. It becomes our responsibility to keep this Institution clean as well as to ensure that the image of this Institution is not tarnished by such allegations to undertake the probe in the matter.”

[In Re : Matter of great public importance touching upon the Independence of Judiciary, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 604, order dated 25.04.2019]


Also read:

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Order on advocate’s claims of conspiracy to frame CJI Gogoi reserved

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Advocate claiming ‘conspiracy’ to appear before SC tomorrow

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: 2-judge bench to hear the matter after CJI opts out mid-way

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A special 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta, JJ has reserved its order on the issue of setting up an inquiry committee to probe an advocate’s claim that there was a “conspiracy” to frame Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case. The bench will pronounce its order later in the day.

During the course of the hearing, advocate Utsav Bains, who made the claim about a conspiracy to frame Justice Gogoi, submitted an additional affidavit on the direction of the court. In his affidavit, Bains submitted that he cannot share the names of the “fixers” as “privileged communication under the Advocates Act” cannot be disclosed.

Attorney General KK Venugopal said the claim of privilege under Section 126 of the Evidence Act is not applicable to any communication between Bains and the alleged fixers. He said that a court can ask for any document relevant to a case.
Supporting the Attorney General’s argument, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Rakesh Khanna submitted that there is “no sacrosanct right” to withhold any document. He said that the court has the power to seek production of documents over which privilege
is claimed.

“Whatever he (Bains) divulged to us, in any case, our power to inspect the documents is there,”

Mishra, J said,

“There is systematic attempt/game, so many things have not come out. The truth has not come out. These things are in the air for a long time and people of the country must know the truth. There has been a systemic attack against the Supreme Court,”

“We are in anguish the way this institution is being treated for the last 3-4 years is as if this institution will die. This is the court made by the likes of Fali Nariman, Nani Palkhiwala, K Parasaran. … Every day we hear about bench-fixing, every day we hear of wrong practices in this court. This has to go. The day has come when we have to rise to the occasion and tell the rich and powerful that they cannot run the Supreme Court. … Don’t provoke us anymore. We want to tell the rich and the powerful that they are playing with fire. This is not the way a country can run,”

Senior advocate Indira Jaising told the court that the inquiry headed by Justice S A Bobde into the sexual harassment charge and the case before the court should be conducted together.

Mishra, J, however, clarified that that the outcome of this inquiry into the conspiracy charge will not affect that inquiry into the sexual harassment charge. He remarked,

“Three to five per cent lawyers are giving a bad name to this institution. Don’t provoke us any further, we are worried as judges. We will see
how it can be an independent inquiry.”

On Tuesday, a three-member committee of the court led by Justice Bobde, the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice, was formed to look into the allegation of sexual harassment made by a dismissed employee against Justice Gogoi. The other two members of the committee are Justices NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee. Justice Ramana is the third in the seniority list in the Supreme court and will the Chief Justice after the retirement of Justice Bobde.

(Source: ANI)


Also read:

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Advocate claiming ‘conspiracy’ to appear before SC tomorrow

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: 2-judge bench to hear the matter after CJI opts out mid-way

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ directed the Gujarat government to give Rs 50 lakh compensation, a job and accommodation to Bilkis Bano who was gang raped during the 2002 riots in the State.

The bench was informed by the Gujarat government that action has been taken against the erring police officials in the case and that pension benefits of the erring officials have been stopped and the IPS officer who was convicted by the Bombay High Court in the case has been demoted by two ranks.

Bano had earlier refused to accept the offer of Rs 5 lakh and had sought exemplary compensation from the state government in a plea before the top court.

The Court had earlier asked the Gujarat government to take disciplinary action in two weeks against the erring police officials, including an IPS officer, convicted by the Bombay High Court in the case.

A special court had on 21 January, 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bano and murdering seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra riots, while acquitting seven persons including the policemen and doctors.

(Source: PTI)

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta, JJ has sought response from advocate Utsav Bains, who claimed that there is a conspiracy to frame up the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case. The Court has posted the matter for hearing tomorrow and has sought Utsav Bains’s presence before it.

The bench was hearing a case relating to the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi. The charges have been leveled by a dismissed
woman employee of the Supreme Court.

Advocate Utsav Bains on Monday filed an affidavit saying there was a larger ‘conspiracy’ playing out to compel the CJI to resign. He claimed that when he refused to take up the case on finding several loopholes in her story, the person offered him Rs 50 lakh, which was raised to Rs 1.50 crore. Bains further claimed that on inquiry, he found that “certain fixers”, who claim to be engaged in illegally managing judgments in exchange for cash, were behind the plot as the Chief Justice had taken decisive action to crack down on such fixers.

“The said fixer Romesh Sharma was running a ‘cash for judgment’ racket in cahoots with businessmen and politicians and had exercised considerable influence for years, which ultimately was brought to an end by the present CJI, as he took decisive action against them after becoming CJI.”

He further claimed,

“There was a conspiracy against the Chief Justice of India to force him to resign and thereby threaten every judge with dire consequences for being free and fearless in dispensing justice while pronouncing judgments against the rich and powerful in the country.”

On Saturday, a Special bench met for a sitting to discuss online media reports of sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. The bench said,

“The independence of the judiciary is under very serious threat and there is a larger conspiracy to destabilise the judiciary,”

The hurriedly constituted 3-judge special bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, in the case related to allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI, was reduced to a 2-judge bench when CJI left it to justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna to take a call on the issue of passing judicial order.

As the hearing progressed, the CJI opted out midway from passing any judicial order and said,

“I am not going to be a part of the judicial order. Justice Arun Mishra is the senior most judge available in Delhi and he will dictate the order,”

The bench, however, did not pass any judicial order and left it to the wisdom of the media to decide on the publication of reports in order to protect the independence of the judiciary.

(Source: ANI)

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A hurriedly constituted 3-judge special bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, in the case related to allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI, was reduced to a 2-judge bench when CJI left it to justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna to take a call on the issue of passing judicial order.

As the hearing progressed, the CJI opted out midway from passing any judicial order and said,

“I am not going to be a part of the judicial order. Justice Arun Mishra is the senior most judge available in Delhi and he will dictate the order,”

The notice issued by the Supreme Court registry, that became public around 10:15 AM said,

“Take note that a special bench consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna is being constituted to have a special sitting at 10:30 AM. Today, i.e. the 20th April, 2019 in the Chief Justice’s Court to deal with a matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary, on a mention being made by Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General.”

When contacted, Supreme Court Secretary General Sanjeev Sudhakar Kalgaonkar said the story come out in several news portals Saturday morning around 8-9 AM and they came to know about it at around 9-9:30 AM. He said the matter was mentioned before the CJI by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and the court took it up.

On the query that the CJI’s name is not reflected in the order uploaded on the Supreme court website, Kalgaonkar said the CJI mentioned in the court whatever his lordship wanted to say and, thereafter it was taken over by the other two judges on the judicial side.

He also made it clear that the CJI is the “master of roster” and “whatever bench the lordship will constitute, the said bench will hear the matter” and it will listed for further hearing in due course.

(Source: PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Almost after 5 years of the commission of the horrendous crime that shook not only the nation but the world, the Court upheld the death penalty of the 4 accused persons in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case, where a 23-year old girl was gangraped and tortured in a moving bus in Delhi on 16.12.2012. She succumbed to her injuries 13 days later in a hospital in Singapore. The Court said that It sounds like a story from a different world where humanity has been treated with irreverence.

Writing down a 429 page long judgment, the Court noticed that attacking the deceased by forcibly disrobing her and committing violent sexual assault by all the appellants; and insertion of rod in her private parts that, inter alia, caused perforation of her intestine which caused sepsis and, ultimately, led to her death, shows that the accused persons had found an  object for enjoyment in her and, as is evident, they were obsessed with the singular purpose sans any feeling to ravish her as they liked, treat her as they felt and the gross sadistic and beastly instinctual pleasures came to the forefront when they, after ravishing her, thought it to be just a matter of routine to throw her alongwith her friend out of the bus and crush them. The Court said that the casual manner with which she was treated and the devilish manner in which they played with her identity and dignity is humanly inconceivable.

R Banumathi, J, emphasizing upon the need for actions against the crime against women, said that the offences against women are not a women’s issue alone but, human rights issue. Increased rate of crime against women is an area of concern for the law-makers and it points out an emergent need to study in depth the root of the problem and remedy the same through a strict law and order regime. There are a number of legislations and numerous penal provisions to punish the offenders of violence against women. However, it becomes important to ensure that gender justice does not remain only on paper. She added that public at large, in particular men, are to be sensitized on gender justice.

The Trial Court awarded capital punishment to the accused considering the gruesome manner in which the offence was committed and the Delhi High Court had upheld the decision of the Trial Court. Ram Singh, the prime accused, had committed suicide in his cell in Tihar Jail in the year 2013.

On 03.02.2017, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ allowed the accused persons to file affidavits along with documents stating about the mitigating circumstances. However, after consciously and anxiously weighing the aggravating circumstances and the mitigating factors, the Court held that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances now brought on record. [Mukesh v. State for NCT of Delhi, (2017) 6 SCC 1, decided on 05.05.2017]