Delhi High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts


Delhi High Court: In a Public Interest Litigation filed for directing the Delhi Police to take actions to abolish all sex rackets, the Division Bench of Satish Chandra Sharma, CJ. and Subramonium Prasad, J. directed the Delhi Police to ensure that all steps were undertaken to prevent prostitution rings from being conducted under the garb of massage parlours.


Petitioner had come across advertisements for massage parlours in newspaper advertisements and through business listings on the online search engine platform Just Dial, obtained the number of an unknown person on Just Dial, who claimed to run massage parlours. Petitioner contacted said unknown person, who asked the Petitioner to pay Rs. 12,000/- on the pretext of meeting parlour girls. The unknown person demanded a sum of Rs. 12,000/- for setting up a meeting with the girls. The petitioner alleged that on reaching the place of meeting, the petitioner was severally beaten up and before the perpetrators could be identified, they had escaped from the spot.

Petitioner stated that he made multiple calls to the police control room to provide information about the sex racket businesses operating at the place of the incident, but it was of no avail. Petitioner also filed RTI Applications to seek status report on the action taken by the police in this matter but after seeing no active response to his complaints, petitioner filed PIL with the following prayers, to pass order/direction to:

  1. Immediately initiate actions to abolish all sex/illegal flesh trade from the roots of our society;

  2. Take immediate action to conduct an enquiry into the complaint filed by the petitioner;

  3. To treat all complaints in a time bound manner;

  4. To file a status report qua the total number of massage parlours operating in Delhi and NCR in a time bound manner.

Submissions on behalf of the Petitioner

Petitioner submitted that the operation of sex rackets and prostitution rings were in direct violation of Section 8 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and transgresses upon the right to life under Articles 21 and goes against ‘Prohibition of Trafficking’ under Article 23. Further, it was stated that the sex racket businesses operating under the garb of massage parlours pose a serious threat to the safety and dignity of women. The petitioner also submitted that the refusal of the authorities to act on his complaints was deliberate and was revealing of the corruption within the hierarchy of the Delhi Police.

Submissions on behalf of the Respondents

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the Police had regularly been investigating into and taking appropriate legal actions against the rackets. Counsel relied on the status report which revealed that enquiries in complaints had already been conducted on the receipt of information in prior instances.

Analysis, Law, and Decision

The Court opined that necessary action had been taken by the police whenever they had been in receipt of information or complaints with respect to prostitution rackets operating under massage parlours. Therefore, the Court directed the police to ensure that all steps were undertaken to prevent prostitution rings from being conducted under the grab of massage parlours.

[Ateet Bansal v. Commissioner of Police, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 4101, decided on 23-11-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioner: Petitioner in person;

For the Respondent(s): ASC, Civil, GNCTD Sameer Vashisht;

CGSC Vivek Goyal;

Advocate Sanjana Nangia;

Advocate Gokul Sharma.

Delhi High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Jasmeet Singh, J. did not interfere with the impugned show cause notice issued by Delhi Police to a restaurant allegedly serving alcohol beyond permissible limit of 1 am and as to why its registration should not be cancelled for such repeated acts of omission and commission. The Court adjudged Delhi Police ‘respondent’ to be the competent authority to issue show case in view of Delhi Eating Houses Registration Regulations, 1980 and Delhi Police Act, 1978.

The Petitioner firm is running a cafe & bar in the name and style of “M/s Uncultured” located at Delhi is challenging the show-cause notice cum order issued by the Additional Commissioner of Police, Licensing, Delhi (‘Respondent 2′) as FIR was lodged alleging charges under section 188 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) for the said restaurant being open beyond the permissible time i.e., 1 am. The show cause was issued calling upon the petitioner to show cause within 15 days from the date of receipt as to why it’s registration should not be cancelled for alleged repeated acts of omission and commission.

The petitioner contended that suspending the license of the Petitioner till disposal of the matter is arbitrary, and is in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, as the Petitioner was not even afforded the opportunity of being heard and the said decision amounted to awarding the Petitioner a punishment without any adjudication on the matter, in turn affecting its livelihood.

The respondents submitted that any place or venue where alcohol or intoxicating drugs are supplied and that fell within the ambit of a “place of public entertainment” under Section 2(l) of the Delhi Police Act, 1978, was permitted to remain open only till 1 a.m. Thus, when the petitioner company operated the said restaurant beyond the permissible limit of 1 a.m. amongst the several other complaints, the Respondents had the power to suspend the license and issue the impugned show cause notice.

It was submitted that Section 28 of the Delhi Police Act, 1978 empowers the Commissioner of Police to frame regulations for the licensing and control of places of public entertainment or public amusement and to provide for the registration of eating houses, including the power to grant a certificate of Registration to an eating house. In light of this, the Delhi Eating Houses Registration Regulations, 1980 were framed. As per Section 141(2) of the Delhi Police Act, 1978 which states that any license or permission granted under the act may be suspended or revoked by the Competent Authority if any of the terms and conditions or restrictions are infringed or evaded by the person to whom it is granted.

Reliance was placed on Union of India v. VICCO Laboratories, (2007) 13 SCC 270, wherein it was observed “Where a Show Cause notice is issued either without jurisdiction or in an abuse of process of law, certainly in that case, the writ court would not hesitate to interfere even at the stage of issuance of show cause notice. Interference at the show cause notice stage should be rare and not in a routine manner. The mere assertion by the writ petitioner that notice was without jurisdiction and/or abuse of process of law would not suffice. It should be prima facie established to be so. Where factual adjudication would be necessary, interference is ruled out.”

The Court noted that whether the petitioner violated any regulations can only be ascertained by the Competent Authority after issuing the Show Cause Notice and even though the show cause notice is in the form of an order, the pith and substance show it to be a valid show cause notice.

The Court observed that the direction of sealing the premises of the petitioner’s restaurant till disposal of the show cause notice may be harsh but will not invalidate the impugned show cause notice as the respondent has the power under section 141(2) of Delhi Police Act, 1978 to suspend the license of the petitioner. Thus, in view of Regulation 11 and 14 of the Delhi Eating Houses Registration Regulations, 1980 and Section 141(2) of the Delhi Police Act, 1978, the respondent was within their right to issue the impugned show cause notice and there is no jurisdictional error apparent in the issuance of the show cause notice.

The Court held “the court cannot entertain this petition at this stage considering the factual scenario and the background of the legal principles set out and further remarked that due to COVID 19 restaurant industry has suffered a lot and thus respondents must be sympathetic towards them.”

[Konnect Hospitality v. Commissioner of Police, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 1928, decided on 07-07-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

R. K. Saini and Varun Nagrath, Advocates, for the Petitioner;

Arun Panwar, Advocate, for the Respondent.

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: With a view to bringing reform in practices relating to disposal of bail applications arising from the same case, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath, JJ., held that where more than one bail application has been filed by co-accused of offences arising from self-same FIR, all such applications shall be listed before the same court to avoid disparity.  

The petitioner had approached the Court under Article 32 of the Constitution with a complaint that arising from the self-same FIR, two accused persons had filed separate bail applications and the one which was filed later was listed before the Patna High Court and post-arrest bail was granted to the accused, but the petitioner who had filed the bail application earlier, his application was not listed and despite a request been made, his bail application could not be taken on board. The petitioner contended that he was still languishing in judicial custody in spite of approaching the Court earlier than his co-accused.  

Meanwhile, before the Court could decide the petition, the bail application filed by the petitioner was also listed before the High Court of Patna and he too was granted post-arrest bail. 

The Court opined that the matter could have been disposed of in the light of the later development, but considering that the practice being followed by the High Court needs to be revisited, the Court held that if more than one bail application is filed by co-accused persons arising from the self-same FIR, it has to be listed ordinarily before the same Court to avoid any disparity.  

Noting the Standing order No. 330/2019 issued by Delhi Police regarding guidelines for arrest keeping in view Section 41A of the CrPC, the Court stated,  

“We are not dilating on the issue any further, but we keep it open for the State Government to look into these guidelines and implement it with any amendment/modification, if required, for giving effect to the mandate of Section 41A of the CrPC.”  

In the light of the above, the Court directed the High Court to consider implementing abovementioned suggestions for better administration of justice and in the interest of the litigating people at large, particularly when the liberty of an individual is involved, which is sacrosanct.  

Consequently, the writ petition was disposed of.  

[Abhyanand Sharma v. State of Bihar, W.P. (Cr) No. 420 of 2021, decided on 10-05-2022]  

 Advocates who appeared in this case: 

For Petitioner(s): AORs Himanshu Shekhar and Sahil Tagotra, Advocates Abhay Prakash Sahay, Shoaib Alam, A.R. Takkar, Charitarth Palli, Ujjwal Singh,  

For Respondent(s): AORs Gaurav Agrawal, Neeraj Shekhar, and Santosh Kumar – I, Advocates Rishi K. Awasthi, Prashant Kumar  

*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 



Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Najmi Waziri, J., observed that “Arrest and incarceration destroys a person and collaterally affects many other innocent relatives. Subsequent release or acquittal of an innocent, is of no solace and offers no reparation to the loss of reputation or for the temporary loss of precious personal liberty.”

High Court had already held R-3 guilty of committing Contempt of Court.

R-3 had arrested the petitioner in breach of directions passed by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 273,  The requisite notice was not served upon the petitioner and there were mere allegations of criminal breach of trust against the petitioner which entailed a maximum sentence of three years, and it did not warrant the arrest of a person in the manner in which it was done.

The highhandedness of the police officer, in specific breach of the Supreme Court’s directions, was evident.

Further, it was stated that the decision of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar,(2014) 8 SCC 273 holds that in the event of non-service of notice under Section 41A of the CrPC, contempt proceedings would be initiated.

The Constitution of India ensures the right to personal liberty of the petitioner. The said right can only be curtained by a procedure prescribed established by law.

In the decision referred, it has been said that notice under Section 41A CrPC is requisite.

In the present matter, notice was not sent served and the law was breached.

Bench added that the petitioner is not the only one who suffered the humiliation and the indignity of being arrested; the ordeal would have affected the reputation of his family i.e. his children, wife and parents. No amount of explanation to the neighbours or those who may have seen the arrest, would undo the embarrassment and indignity suffered by the petitioner and his relatives.

High Court expressed that,

Arrest and incarceration destroys a person and collaterally affects many other innocent relatives. Subsequent release or acquittal of an innocent, is of no solace and offers no reparation to the loss of reputation or for the temporary loss of precious personal liberty.

Later, R-3 filed an affidavit tendering his unqualified/unreserved apology for arresting the petitioner. The said apology was a matter of last resort, therefore it cannot be accepted.

 “…petitioner has suffered incarceration for 11 days and presently he is out on bail.”

 As R-3 was a serving police officer with Delhi Police and had served for 7 years and also has a long career ahead of him, he was sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment of 1 day alongwith a fine of Rs 2,000 as well as nominal costs of Rs 15,000.

The aforesaid sentence shall be kept in abeyance for a period of two months from receipt of the order, so as to accord R-3 sufficient opportunity to assail this order, should he so choose to.

 [Rakesh Kumar v. Vijayanta Arya (DCP), 2021 SCC OnLine Del 5574, decided on 7-12-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioner:

Mr Ajay Kumar Pipania, Mr Aaksh Sethi, Ms Madhurima Soni, Mr Aditya Sharma, Mr Parcco Puniyani, Ms Nikita Garg, Mr Imtiaz Hussain and Mr Lakshay, Advocate.

For the respondents:

Mr. Shadan Farasat, ASC (GNCTD) with Mr Bharat Gupta along with S.I. Kuldeep.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, JJ., noted in a matrimonial matter that the wife was being viewed as a cash cow and the husband became interested in her only after she got a job with Delhi Police.

Instant appeal was directed against the decision of lower court preferred by the appellant wife against the respondent-husband under Section 13(1)(ia) and 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to seek a decree of divorce.

On finding no grounds of cruelty or desertion, the family court dismissed the divorce petition established by the appellant-wife.

At the time of marriage, the appellant was minor, whereas the respondent was 19 years old. Since the time of marriage till the time she secured a job, she was residing at her parental home. Respondent showed no interest in taking the appellant till the time she secured a job.

Appellants started living with the respondent and experienced that he was unemployed and was an alcoholic, he even used to physically abuse the appellant and demanded money from her. Further, she stated that the respondent and his family were only interested in her salary.

Adding to the above, she stated that since she was subjected to physical and verbal abuse, and she was also finding it difficult to balance her work and family life with an abusive, alcoholic, and demanding husband, the relationship between the parties sored, and the appellant was kicked out from her matrimonial home.

For the above-stated reasons, the appellant had preferred the divorce petition.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court on making certain queries noted that the respondents claim that he had funded the education of the appellant and it was on account of the fact that the appellant got educated and found a job in Delhi Police, so what will happen to the amounts spent by him.

Further in Court’s opinion, the respondent was absolutely clear that the respondent only wanted to continue with the relationship on account of the fact that the appellant had a job with Delhi Police, and he viewed the alleged expenditure on the wife as an investment, which would not bear fruit in case parties were to part ways with judicial intervention.

“…respondent is primarily eyeing the income of the respondent which she derives on account of her job from Delhi Police.”

The continued distance between the parties even after the appellant attained majority would, in itself, have caused trauma and resulted in cruelty to the appellant apart from everything else.

Bench expressed that the brazenly materialistic attitude of the respondent, with no emotional ties, would have in itself caused mental agony and trauma to the appellant sufficient to constitute cruelty to her. Court cannot ignore, that generally, it is the desire of every married woman – particularly belonging to the economic strata to which the parties belong, to get married and start a family.

In the present case, the husband was only interested in the income of the wife and not in nurturing the marriage.

In matrimonial matters, the quality and quantity of evidence required to accept the plea by one or the other party, cannot be same as that required in criminal proceedings.

Elaborating further, the Court expressed that the standard of proof in matrimonial proceedings is founded upon the preponderance of probabilities, and not upon a fact being established beyond all reasonable doubts. Looking at the overall circumstances, Court decided that the appellant was able to establish the ground of cruelty and desertion.

Hence, the Court opined that there is a clear case of perpetration of mental cruelty against the respondent and hence the marriage of the parties be dissolved by a decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the HMA. [Sanno Kumari v. Krishan Kumar, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4914, decided on 28-10-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For the appellant: Pranaynath Jha, Advocate along with appellant in person.

For the respondent: Jitender Ratta, Advocate along with respondent in person.

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, JJ., addressed the issues with regard to position of Non-ICU and ICU beds, PSA Plants, Medical Equipments, etc.

An application was moved on behalf of the State of Haryana to seek clarification in regard to the Court’s order dated 27-04-2021, whereby the Court had directed taking over operations of Seth Air Products at Palwal, Haryana whereat Seth Air Products was undertaking gasification of liquid Oxygen and supplying to Delhi. It was pointed out that Seth Air Products undertakes the said process not only to supply Oxygen to Delhi, but also to State of Haryana.

As per the allocation made by the Government of India, 21 MT of liquid Oxygen was to be gasified in favour of the State of Haryana, and for the NCT of Delhi it was 38.05 MT.

Bench while disposing of the application in regard to the above made it clear that the directions to take over the supervision of the plant of Seth Air Products situated at Palwal, Haryana by the officers of the GNCTD should not adversely affect the supply of oxygen to the State of Haryana in terms of allocation made by the Centre.

Senior Counsel for the GNCTD, Mr Mehra projected before the Court the position of both ICU and Non-ICU Beds in the NCT of Delhi. He submitted that by applying the formula worked out by the Central Government – in consultation with the ICMR, requirement of oxygen for the said 16,272 beds per day is 304 MT. There are a large number of other hospitals and nursing homes with less than 100 beds and their requirement put together is estimated at 120 MT of liquid oxygen per day.

Further, he added that looking at surge of cases and the intimation that the pandemic may peak around 15th of May, 2021, the GNCTD is making arrangements to add another 15,000 non-ICU beds, which would require 280MT of liquid oxygen per day.

Grievance of Mr Mehra is that the allocation of 480 MT or 490 MT of liquid oxygen per day to Delhi is far less than its requirement.

With regard to the 8 PSA Plants which were sanctioned by the Central Government to be set up in Hospitals in Delhi, the position informed to the Court was that 2 Plants are already installed, and 2 Plants would be made operational by 30-04-2021.

Bench stated that looking to the critical situation being faced by the NCT of Delhi, the Central Government should instruct the vendor to expedite the installation of the remaining 4 PSA Plants at the earliest. A status report clearly stating by when the said 4 plants would be installed and made operational be filed by 01.05.2021.

Senior Advocate, Tushar Rao and Mr Malhotra submitted that the U.P. State Government has requisitioned certain equipment called “On-Board Oxygen Generation System”, which produces 1,000 Litres of Oxygen per minute, from the DRDO. In view of the above, GNCTD should make a similar requisition of the said equipment from the DRDO so that same could be installed at the earliest.

Hence, GNCTD is directed to take immediate steps in this regard and raise a similar request, as was raised by State of U.P. to the DRDO and all the authorities concerned.

Bench stated that whenever any seizure is made of the medicines/ Oxygen cylinders, the IOs should immediately inform the District Commissioner concerned about the same, and they should also proceed, without waiting for any further orders, to ascertain the genuineness of the said medicines. They should also ensure that the said case property is kept in refrigerated environment, so that the same does not lose its efficacy and become non-usable. The District Commissioners should proceed to pass orders for release of the same without any delay.

Bench added to the above directions that the Delhi Police should immediately release the seized Remdesivir or other Drug used for treating COVID-19 or any Oxygen Cylinders seized from the possession of patients or their attendants, since they would have procured the same only out of desperation, and in need.

While releasing the case property, it shall be ensured by the Delhi Police that photographs/ copies of the relevant documents are retained, so that the case could proceed before the court concerned.

Executive Director Batra Hospital appeared and raised a grievance that in terms of allocation order dated 27-04-2021, said hospital has not been supplied gas.

Court issued notice to all the suppliers of liquid medical oxygen to the NCT of Delhi to be present before the Court with the data available in regard to the supply made by them.

Bench asked GNCTD to create a portal on their website for the creating a mechanism for the purpose so that any person located abroad, desirous of making the import of medical equipment’s to GNCTD. Status report to filed.

Notifications and directives issued by the CBIC to be placed on record.

 Mr Sharma stated that the status report with regard to the cargos, which are waiting clearance on customs ports – in relation to the COVID detection and treatment, shall be placed on record in a sealed cover.

With regard to the development of a portal for bringing in transparency in the matter of distribution of medicines Professor Sanjay Dhir from IIT Delhi & Mr Rajiv Chauhan and Mr Ravi Omar from NIC were present.

The portal developed by the NIC had one shortcoming, namely, it does not have last stage disclosure about the identity of the patients to whom medication would be administered. He states that he has already communicated it to the NIC and suggested the modifications required in the portal. He states that the NIC has agreed to carry out the necessary modifications. Mr  Ravi Omar and Mr Chauhan from the NIC stated that the Health Department of the GNCTD has to now provide their inputs so that final shape to the portal could be given.

Court directed that the exercise should be completed between NIC, GNCTD and Professor Dhir from IIT within one day and the said portal to be operation by 01-05-2021. [Venkateshwar Hospital v. GNCTD, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1830, decided on 29-04-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

Third-degree torture

The Commission had registered a case on 05-09-2019, on the basis of a complaint dated 28-08-2019 by the victim, alleging that police officials of Adarsh Nagar Police Station, Delhi had picked up his nephew and how he was also detained when he went to enquire about him; given third-degree torture along with his nephew. Allegedly, his nephew was also falsely implicated in a criminal case of the Arms Act.

Subsequent to the notices of the Commission, the DCP Crime Headquarters, Delhi Police had submitted a report that an FIR no 289/2019 dated 01.09.2019 was registered on the complainant’s complaint. The Commission, on the basis of this report, found that a criminal action had been initiated against the three officials, and a charge-sheet had been submitted against them before the court of law.

Commission’s Action

Earlier, the Commission did not accept the plea taken by the Delhi police in reply to its show-cause notice that since the matter is sub judice, hence, departmental action cannot be taken against the concerned police personnel. Terming this plea as fallacious, the Commission observed that it is unsatisfactory and does not inspire confidence.

Commission was convinced that from the material on record, prima-facie it is established that the complainant and his nephew were given third degree torture. They were assaulted by the police personnel, as named in the FIR, and are now facing trial before the court.

Hence, Commission recommended payment of Rs 1 lakh to the two victims of police torture, as per the Section 18 (a) (i) of Protection of Human Rights Act.

In a case of custodial torture by police in Delhi, has recommended that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs pay Rs. 1 lakh each to the two victims. It has also called for the report of departmental action taken against the six erring police official, who are facing trial before the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Rohini in case FIR No. 289/2019. They include one Inspector-SHO, ASI, HC, HV, and two Constables.

Therefore, the Commission held that since the police officials failed to act as responsible public servants, therefore, departmental proceedings against them should also be initiated, and they should be punished accordingly.

The State is vicariously liable for the action of public servant/police officials and hence the victims are entitled for compensation.

National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 23-02-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., while addressing the matter concerning the environmental activist, Disha Ravi, expressed that:

The print and electronic media plays a very important role in ensuring that there is no sensationalism and that they adhere to responsible journalism. Recent coverage by the media definitely shows that there is sensationalism.

An environmental activist, Disha Ravi filed the present petition seeking reliefs against the Police, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and various news channels in respect of what are allegedly attributed to leakage of her messages and various other investigation material which has been broadcasted and disseminated by the TV channels at the behest of Delhi Police.

Disha Ravi was arrested on 13-02-2021 in Bangalore and brought to Delhi, after which Duty Magistrate, Patiala House Court had sent her on police remand.

Disha’s Claims

She claimed that after her arrest, various messages etc. were leaked by the police to media resulting in a large number of programs, news bulletins and online dissemination of various private messages and interventions which were broadcasted.

She also submitted that some bulletins also made allegations that she was associated with various illegal and unlawful groups.

Senior Counsel, Akhil Sibal, submitted that the Official Twitter handle of the petitioner also released various comments about the investigation which is going on and these formed the basis of the reports by the News Channels.

Four reliefs claimed by Disha Ravi

Firstly, that the alleged WhatsApp conversation ought to be removed from the public domain and the police should be directed not to disseminate anything, which is not part of the public record.

Secondly, media houses ought to be directed to comply with the program code and the advertisement code.

Thirdly, the Delhi police ought not to share the investigation files and ;

Lastly that the police ought not to conduct any press briefings.

What the Court Observed?

Bench noted that the present matter raised issues with regard to public importance and the three aspects present are as follows:

Firstly, the privacy, dignity of the individual concerned as also her right to fair trial.

The second aspect would be the sovereignty/integrity of the country and whether there could be reasonable restrictions that could be imposed considering the nature of the investigation that is currently taking place.

The third aspect would be the right to free speech and the right of the public to know.

While granting time to the respondents for an opportunity to respond to the allegations, Court stated that the question to be addressed at the present stage will be whether the present state of affairs ought to continue?

Bench had the opportunity to view the videos on record of News18 and several other materials.

There is no doubt that the regulation of content in print and electronic media has been a very contested issue across the world and India is no exception to that. The reasons for the same are not far to seek in as much as content regulation is viewed as being directly affrontive to the Right of free speech.

Expressing its views more on content regulation, Bench added that while a journalist cannot be asked to reveal the source, it would have to be ensured that the source ought to be a verified and authentic source and the content ought to be merely speculative or conjectural.

Content also ought not to be offensive, scandalising and to the extent, possible should be factual in nature.

Bench noted that, Delhi Police took an unequivocal position that they are not responsible for the leaking of messaged or the investigation material to the media house. Whereas the media houses in their reports took a contrary stance, hence the said issue would require detailed examination.

Next, Court dealt with regard to the ad interim directions to be passed and noted that:

While police briefings and the happenings in Court proceedings etc. can also be broadcasted and disseminated, leaked investigation material ought not to be disseminated so as to prejudice the investigation.

Directions issued down by the Court:

  • The Delhi Police will strictly abide by the affidavit dated 18th February, 2021, which has been filed today as also the Office Memorandum dated 1st April, 2010, which is, admittedly, still in operation. The Delhi Police or other investigation authorities would, however, be, in terms of the said OM, entitled to conduct their briefings in accordance with law so long as no rights of the Petitioner are violated.
  • Media houses shall also ensure that the telecast/broadcast by them is from verified/authenticated sources, though the sources need not be revealed. All disseminated content shall be in strict adherence to the `Programme Code’ as contained in the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994 as also the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards prescribed by the News Broadcasters Association.
  • Editorial teams of the respective channels shall ensure that only such broadcasts and telecasts are communicated and disseminated, which have verified data and verified content. The channel editors shall ensure that the channels exercise proper editorial control so that the Petitioner’s investigation is not hampered, in any manner.
  • If the charge-sheet is filed in the meantime and the same is made public, once the investigation reaches some conclusion, dissemination of the contents of the charge-sheet would not be interdicted in any manner.
  • Since there is an allegation that persons who sympathise with the Petitioner’s cause are attempting to malign the police and investigation authorities, Mr Akhil Sibal, Senior Counsel while denying the allegation, assures that the Petitioner or any other person directly associated with her do not intend to indulge in any kind of maligning of the police or the investigating authorities. This assurance is accepted by the Court.
  • The question of removal of content, which is already in public domain shall be considered with the hearing of the stay application at a later stage.

While directing the media, in general, to adhere to the above directions, Court directed NBSA to communicate the directions to its members.

Matter to be listed for further hearing on 17-03-2021.[Disha A. Ravi v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2021 SCC OnLine Del 822, decided on 19-02-2021]


Avocates who appeared for the parties:

For petitioner:

Akhil Sibal, Senior Advocate with Vrinda Bhandari, Abhinav Sekhri,  Sanjana Srikumar, Krishnesh Sapat & Sonali Malik, Advocates.

For Respondents:

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General, S.V. Raju, ASG with Amit Mahajan, SPP,  Rajat Nair, SPP and Dhruv Pande, Mallika Hiremath, Shantanu Sharma,  Sairica Raju, A. Venkatesh, Guntur Pramod Kumar, Shaurya R. Rai, Zeal Shah, Aarushi Singh and Anshuman Singh, Advocates for R-1/GNCTD.

Chetan Sharma, ASG and Ajay Digpaul, CGSC with Amit Gupta, Vinay Yadav, Sahaj Garg, Akshay Gadeock & R.V. Prabhat, Advocates for R- 2/UOI.

Nisha Bhambhani and Rahul Bhatia, Advocates for R-3.

Mrinal Bharti, Sumant De and Manish Shekhar, Advocates for R-4.

Hrishikesh Baruah, Pranav Jain, Mehma Kaur & Radhika Gupta, Advocates for R-5.

Kunal Tandon, Kumar Shashank Shekhar and Amandeep Singh, Advocates for R-6.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While addressing the issue that whether the Delhi Police can be faulted for disclosing the certain information and allegations pertaining to the petitioner regarding her alleged involvement in hatching a conspiracy to cause riots near Jafrabad Metro Station, in their press release; the Bench of Vibhu Bakhru, J., directed the Delhi Police to refrain from issuing any further communication naming any accused or any witness till the charges are framed and the trial is commenced.

The petitioner is currently enrolled as a student in M. Phil-Ph.D Program with the Department of Women’s Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. As per the petitioner, she has been a strong critic of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and has participated in peaceful protests for seeking repeal of the CAA and a stop to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process. The petitioner via her counsel Adit S. Pujari, contends that the Delhi Police circulated a “Brief Note” dated 02-06-2020 to various media agencies which disclosed names of two girls including the petitioner and alleged that they belong to ‘Pinjra Tod’ Group and were actively involved in hatching a conspiracy to cause riots near Jafrabad Metro Station. The petitioner submitted that the impugned Note was an attempt to prejudice her Right to Free and Fair Trial and also to weaken the presumption of her innocence. Per contra, Additional Solicitor General, Aman Lekhi contended that the Delhi Police had not issued the impugned Note with the intention of causing any prejudice to the petitioner or with a view to attack her reputation but for the sole purpose to accurately portray the case, which was necessary in view of the media campaign carried out by members of the ‘Pinjra Tod’ Group to sway the public opinion against the actions of the Delhi Police.

Perusing the rival contentions, the Court observed that the respondent’s contention that the circulation of the impugned Note was a necessity in the light of the negative campaigning conducted against the Delhi Police, is not a persuasive argument. However, the Court also observed that the impugned Note does not violate the petitioner’s Fundamental Rights under Art. 21 of the Constitution. The Court further noted that the reasons prompting the respondent to issue the impugned note are not subject to judicial review provided they are bonafide and do not violate the petitioner’s right. However considering that communal riots are sensitive cases, where even the FIRs are also not publicly disclosed, therefore the Court restrained the Delhi Police to release any further communication in this matter.[Devangana Kalita v. Delhi Police, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 867 , decided on 27-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bhakru, J., restrains the Delhi Police officials to issue any such statement or circulating information regarding allegations and evidence collected against the petitioner.

Petitioner alleged that Delhi Police has been selectively leaking certain information regarding the allegations made against the petitioner and the evidence allegedly collected against her.

It has been added by the petitioner that the said information being leaked is selective and misleading.

Petitioners Advocate contended that the Crime Branch has been leaking out selective information and evidence to persons from the media. 

Misleading information about the petitioner could likely to place the petitioner and her family members at risk.

Bench directed the DCP of the Crime Branch to file a personal affidavit affirming whether any such information as is mentioned above has been circulated by the officials to third persons, journalists or on social media.

Thus, in the meantime respondent is restrained from issuing any such statement or circulating information regarding allegations and evidence allegedly collected against the petitioner or other accused to any person including to the media or on social media.

Matter to be listed on 09-07-2020.[Devangana Kalita v. Delhi Police, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 639 , decided on 10-06-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Delhi Commission for Women has taken suo moto cognizance of reports regarding a group called ‘Bois Locker Room’ operational on social media platform ‘Instagram’ which comprises of several hundred members.

The group is used for sharing objectionable pictures of minor girls and young women many a times with their personal information.

Members of the group have been reported to have discussed techniques of raping women and gang-raping minors.

Several other illegal acts and comments have been made on thr group. Commission is in receipt of several screenshots of the group wherein the handle names and the usernames are clearly visible.

In view of the same, DCW has instituted inquiry into the matter.

DCW issues notice to Delhi Police & Instagram.

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Section 66-E of Information & Technology Act, 2000:  Punishment for violation of privacy

Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.

Section 354 C of Penal code, 1860: Voyeurism

Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Delhi Commission for Women

[Notice dt. 04-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Delhi Police imposes Section 144 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and orders the following prohibitory orders to maintain public health, public safety and public order in Delhi:

  • Assembly of any kind for demonstrations, processions, protests etc is prohibited.
  • Any gathering social/cultural/political/religious/academic/sports/seminar/conferences prohibited.
  • Organisation of weekly markets (except for vegetables, fruits and essential commodities), concerts, exhibitions etc., is prohibited.
  • Guided group tours conducted by various private tour operators are prohibited.
  • Any individual suspected/confirmed with COVID-19 shall take measures for prevention/treatment i.e. home quarantine/ institution quarantine/isolation or any such person shall cooperate to render assistance or comply with the directions of the surveillance personnel.
  • Any person contravening this order shall be punishable under Section 188 of Penal Code, 1860.

The above order will be effective from 22-03-2020: 9 PM till midnight of 31-03-2020.

Hot Off The PressNews

Expressing grief over loss of life and property in Delhi violence, in Rajya Sabha today, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reassured the Nation that Modi Government is committed to bring the perpetrators to justice regardless of their religion, caste, creed or political affiliation.

He emphasized that the due procedure of law would be followed and justice would be delivered to the victims. The Home Minister said that no culprit would be pardoned and the punishment would instill fear of law in the hearts of perpetrators of violence in the future. He said that the government’s priority is to prevent any kind of violence and ensure relief to the victims. All the loss of property during the riots would be recovered from those responsible for it, he added.

Talking about the progress of investigation, Shri Shah informed the House that 1922 perpetrators have been identified from video footage received from the public, on the basis of facial recognition. Commenting on the alleged violation of right to privacy, he said that Delhi Police has not used Aadhar data for facial recognition of perpetrators, and while the Government respects the right to privacy, it cannot supersede the quest for bringing perpetrators of riots to justice. He further added that Delhi Police has abided by the Supreme Court’s guidelines on right to privacy during the course of the investigation. He informed that 3 SITs have been formed under the supervision of DIG and IG rank officers to handle 50 serious cases of violence.

Shri Shah said that while the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border had been sealed on the night of 24th February, completely shutting down borders was not possible. He further informed the House that most arms used in the riots were non-licensed and country made, and 49 cases of illegal arms have been registered for the same. He noted that 52 people have been arrested and the arms used in riots recovered on the basis of investigations. He added that more than 1100 people have been identified, and 40 teams have been formed to arrest those rioters who have been identified. He also informed that 5 people have been arrested for engaging in hawala transactions to finance the riots, which points towards the planned nature of the conspiracy.

Shri Shah emphasized the role played by certain social media accounts on fomenting hate and said that the Special Cell was investigating the issue. He informed the House that many social media accounts were created a day before the beginning of the riots and were shut down once the riots ended. He resolved to bring all those who instigated riots on social media to justice. The Home Minister further noted that the two people who had been receiving propaganda material from ISIS to incite riots have now been arrested. He also informed the House that the killers of both security officials – Head Constable Ratan Lal and Intelligence Bureau official Ankit Sharma – have also been arrested.

Commenting on setting up of an impartial Claims Commission, Shri Shah said that Delhi Police has written to the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court to appoint an impartial judge and the Government has no role in the appointment. He added that the Modi Government is taking the investigation very seriously and wants to ensure the logical conclusion of the investigation based on scientific analysis. Shri Shah urged all political parties to refrain from making baseless accusations. He said that while the lives lost and property damaged in the riots is a serious issue, the work done by Delhi Police to contain the riots to a small area (4% of Delhi’s geographical area) is commendable, and to acknowledge this is important for the morale of the force.

Shri Shah said that vested interests are misguiding and instilling a fear in Indian Muslims that CAA would take away their citizenship. The hate speeches delivered in the last two months were the main reason behind anti-CAA protests culminating into Delhi riots. Talking about the transfer of the High Court Judge hearing the Delhi riots case, Shri Shah said that the due procedure was followed based on the recommendation of the Supreme Court Collegium and the Judge was transferred after obtaining his consent for the same.

The Home Minister also reassured the people that no document will be demanded during NPR exercise and that nobody will be classified as doubtful on citizenship grounds, on the basis of NPR. He urged the opposition to stop misleading people on the issues of CAA and NPR and appealed to assist the police and administration in ensuring justice for the perpetrators and relief and rehabilitation for the victims. The Home Minister requested all political parties to rise above politics and allay all fears from the minds of common people in this regard.

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 12-03-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by ANI, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi has appointed SG Tushar Mehta, Addl. solicitor General  MK Acharya and two other Advocates to represent Delhi Police in regard to the recent violence and riots that occurred in North-East Delhi.

Delhi Police has registered 18 FIRs and 106 people have been arrested for creating violence.

Also read:

[Delhi Violence] | Del HC | “We cannot let another 1984 happen in this country; Not under the watch of this Court”; Ensure safe passage for bodies of victims who died in riots

Del HC | [Delhi Riots] [Midnight Hearing] Delhi Police directed to ensure safe passage for injured victims & immediate emergency treatment at govt. hospitals

[Source: ANI]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ., while addressing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by the father of a girl child aged 15 years missing since 14-10-2019, held that,

On various occasions involving missing children, the local police / AHTUs functioning at district level typically seem unable to trace missing children, whereas when the investigation is transferred under orders of this Court to AHTU (Crime), typically the missing children are traced.

Court found it appropriate, additionally, to consider issues as to the working of the Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) in the NCT of Delhi, and had also sought suggestions from the Delhi Police.

Court found it appropriate to issue the following directions with a view to streamlining the functioning of Delhi Police /AHTUs in matters pertaining to tracing missing children:

  • It is directed that the District AHTUs shall function as a nodal agency for all cases of missing children in the district concerned and work in close coordination with the local police, as well as other agencies, providing expert assistance to Investigating Officers, including in respect of collection and analysis of technical evidence.
  • In every district, an officer not below the rank of a DCP shall, on a fortnightly basis, review the progress of investigation in every case registered in respect of missing children in the respective districts. Every Investigating Officer shall be responsible for drawing up and maintaining a Guard File for each case being investigated by them. The ACPs of the District AHTU shall be responsible for submission of such a file to the superior officer.
  • Within a period of 48 hours, an officer not below the rank of an ACP should be nominated at every District AHTU, who shall thereafter, on a regular basis, i.e., at least twice a month, analyse the pending as well as closed cases of missing children to identify patterns or other circumstances indicating the likelihood of links to trafficking or organised crime. In cases where there are indications of links to trafficking or organised crime, appropriate steps ought to be taken, including gathering such additional intelligence as may be necessary, and launching operations no later than within 24 hours to apprehend persons involved, and to rescue the missing children.
  • Within a period of 48 hours, an officer not below the rank of an Addl. DCP shall be nominated in each district, who shall thereafter hold at least one meeting each month with ACP (AHTU) and the SHOs concerned, to identify sections/pockets of their respective districts that are worst affected in terms of missing children.
  • Children rescued under Operation Milap are placed in Children Homes pending their restoration. Within a period of 48 hours, a team shall be formed at each district under an officer not below the rank of an Inspector (AHTU), to streamline and expedite the process of restoring such children.
  • It has been suggested that the Delhi Police ought to enter into an appropriate arrangement with radio-taxi / cab service provider to provide transport services on pre-approved rates, payments wherefor may be made by the Delhi Police through a centralised billing service. The Delhi Police is directed to examine and implement within a period of four weeks the entering into an arrangement with a radio-taxi / cab service provider after due consultation with the Finance and other departments concerned.
  • It has further been submitted that though the Commissioner had approved the suggestion that the Indian Railways be requested that an emergency quota be made for reservation of tickets for Investigating Officers required to travel outside the NCT of Delhi, orders of this Court may be required in this regard. Ministry of Railways is directed to initiate appropriate steps in this regard within a period of one week.

Hence, the High Court held that an action taken report shall be filed by the Delhi Police as well as the Ministry of Railways by the next date of hearing in respect of the above directions. [Surender Sah v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 466, decided on 19-02-2020]