Fact ChecksNews

On June 14th 2022, a leading newspaper had published an article with the headline Illegitimate child of cohabiting couple to get assets share: Supreme Court”. The first paragraph of the article stated

“In an important judgment relating to partition of property among Hindus, the SC on Monday ruled that an illegitimate child of a couple cohabiting for long without marriage would be entitled to a share in the family property.”

A screenshot of the article can be seen below:

The full article can be read here. On the face of it, it appeared to be a landmark judgement. We searched for the original judgment and read it to analyse it further. 

What we found: 

The case in question is Kattukandi Edathil Krishnan v. Kattukandi Edathil Valsan, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 737, decided on 13.06.2022. It was a family property dispute wherein the legitimacy of one of the contenders was questioned.  

The suit property belonged to a family governed by the Mitakshara Law of Inheritance. The said property originally belonged to one Kattukandi Edathil Kanaran Vaidyar who had   four sons, namely Damodaran, Achuthan, Sekharan and Narayanan. Achuthan had a son. Sekharan and Narayanan did not marry. Damodaran married one Chiruthakutty and they had a son by the name of Krishnan. However, the defendants contended that Damodaran never married Chiruthakutty and hence, by virtue of illegitimacy, Krishnan, the first plaintiff, cannot claim share in the property. The case has been analysed in detail here.

In the judgment, the Court reiterated the settled law that if a man and a woman live together for long years as husband and wife, there would be a presumption in favour of wedlock. Such a presumption could be drawn under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. Although, the presumption is rebuttable, a heavy burden lies on him who seek to deprive the relationship of legal origin to prove that no marriage took place.

Selected extracts from the judgment have been mentioned below:

Mr. V. Chitambaresh submits that the voluminous documents produced by the plaintiffs would show that Damodaran was the father of the first plaintiff and Chiruthakutty was the wife of Damodaran. Since their marriage took place more than 50 years prior to filing of the suit (now 90 years), there is no possibility of having any documentary evidence of their marriage. He has taken us through the various documents produced by the plaintiffs wherein there are references to periodical payments made to Chiruthakutty from the husband’s house. He has also taken us through the evidence of plaintiffs and, the witnesses examined on behalf of the plaintiffs in support of his contention. It is further argued that the documents produced by the plaintiffs were in existence long before any controversies between the parties arose. These documents would conclusively show that the first plaintiff was the son of Damodaran and Chiruthakutty and the contention of the defendants that Damodaran died as a bachelor or without any legitimate son, cannot be believed at all. It is further submitted that the law is in favour of declaring legitimacy, as against bastardy. Long course of living together between a male and female will raise a presumption of marriage between them and the children born in such relationship are considered to be legitimate children. It is further argued that while such presumption, made under Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, is a rebuttable one, as rightly held by the Trial Court that the defendants have not produced any worthwhile evidence to rebut this presumption in the present case.

 It is well settled that if a man and a woman live together for long years as husband and wife, there would be a presumption in favour of wedlock. Such a presumption could be drawn under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. Although, the presumption is rebuttable, a heavy burden lies on him who seek to deprive the relationship of legal origin to prove that no marriage took place.

  1. In Andrahennedige Dinohamy v. Wijetunge Liyanapatabendige Balahamy 1927 SCC OnLine PC 51, the Privy Council laid down the general proposition as under:

“…where a man and woman are proved to have lived together as man and wife, the law will presume, unless the contrary be clearly proved, that they were living together in consequence of a valid marriage and not in a state of concubinage.”

Therefore, the judgment in this case, bore out of the fact that the defence could not rebut the presumption of marriage between the couple and therefore the question of legitimacy of child did not arise. This is not a landmark case on rights of illegitimate children but a reiteration of a well settled law that a long cohabiting couple will be assumed to be married unless those who question the marriage can prove it otherwise.  The headline and the excerpt mentioned in the screenshot above, is misleading as in this case, the judge merely held that the marriage between the cohabitating people could not be disapproved by the defendants. The Court upheld the Trial Court position that defendants have not produced any worthwhile evidence to rebut the presumption of marriage under Section 114 of the Evidence Act, 1872. Hence, neither the couple was held to be cohabitating “without marriage” nor was the son considered to be “illegitimate”. 

Legal RoundUpWeekly Rewind

SCC Online Weekly Rewind Episode 43 ft. Nilufer Bhateja, Associate Editor is out now. The written episode along with the video episode can be watched and read below.

 


Supreme Court 


2021 Overview 

      In 2021, the Supreme Court,  

  • delivered 865 judgments, out of which 3 were Constitution bench verdicts.  
  • It created history by appointing 9 judges, including 3 women judges, thereby giving us 4 sitting women judges for the first time ever. 
  • While Justice NV Ramana took oath as the 48th CJI, year 2021 also gave us a hope for the First Woman CJI as Justice BV Nagarathna is in line to take oath as the CJI in 2027.  

You can read all about what happened in the Supreme Court in our Supreme Court 2021 Yearly Round on the SCC Online Blog. Read more 

 

Delay of 1011 days condoned by Andhra Pradesh HC. What a grave error!  

In a case where the Andhra Pradesh High Court had condoned a delay of 1011 days even though no sufficient cause was shown explaining the delay, the Supreme Court has held that the High Court has not exercised the discretion judiciously. 

The High Court had observed that if the delay is condoned no prejudice will be caused to the appellant as the appeal would be heard on merits and that there is no wilful negligence on the part of the respondents herein nor it suffers from want of due diligence. However, the Supreme Court noticed that it was a case of a gross negligence and/or want of due diligence and the reasoning given by the High Court while condoning huge delay of 1011 days is not germane. Read more

 

 Nothing wrong with Govt. decision to ban MTTs in PPE products as it aims at ensuring adequate PPE in India 

In a case where an intermediary between the sale of PPE products by a supplier in China to a buyer in the United States, challenged the prohibition of the export of PPE products from India, the Supreme Court has held that as a developing country with a sizeable population, banning MTTs in PPE products was critical in ensuring that Indian foreign exchange reserves are not utilized to facilitate the hoarding of PPE products with wealthier nations. 

The Court said that “Democratic interests that secure the well-being of the masses cannot be judicially aborted to preserve the unfettered freedom to conduct business, of the few.” Read more 


High Courts


 

Touching feet of a woman without her consent: Is it outraging the modesty of a woman? Bom HC answers

While addressing a matter with regard to “outraging modesty of a woman”, M.G. Sewlikar, J., judge of the Bombay High Court expressed that, “…touching any part of the body of a woman without her consent that too in the dead hour of the night by a stranger amounts to a violation of modesty of a woman.In Court’s opinion, the act of the applicant was capable of shocking the sense decency of any woman. In the present matter, the applicant was sitting at the feet of the victim and had touched her feet, the said behaviour smacked of sexual intent, otherwise, there was no reason for the applicant to be in the house of the victim at such an odd hour of the night. The Bench stated that the applicant did not enter the house of the victim with any sublime motive, he had ensured from the victim that her husband would not be present in the house that night. The above-said incident clearly indicated that the applicant had gone there with sexual intent and violated the modesty of the informant. Read more

 

 Significance of ‘sterling witness’ in a matter wherein a daughter alleges that her father raped her: Bom HC examines whether daughter’s evidence was of ‘sterling quality’ or not 

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai, J., while addressing a matter of a daughter alleging rape by her father expressed the significance of ‘sterling witness’. The Instant appeal was directed against the decision by which the appellant was convicted for offences under Section 376(2)(f) and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 and under Section 5(n) read with Section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). The daughter informed the Child Welfare Committee that the accused had subjected her to sexual abuse, hence police was directed to record the statement of prosecutrix, pursuant to which an FIR was registered for offences under Section 376 (1)(ii), 506 of IPC and Section 6 of POCSO Additional Sessions Judge held that the evidence of the prosecutrix amply proved that the accused had subjected her to rape. Therefore, relying upon the sole testimony of the prosecutrix, Judge held the accused guilty of the above-stated offences. Read more


Legislation Updates 


 

Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 

On December 29, 2021, the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 received the assent of the President to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The amendment act introduces a provision to link electoral rolls with Aadhaar.  Read more

 

Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021 

On December 25, 2021, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021 received President’s assent in order to regulate the practice and process of surrogacy, constitute National Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Board, State Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Boards. Read more

 

Government declares “Electronic Gold Receipt” as securities under Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 

The Ministry of Finance has included “Electronic Gold Receipt” (EGR) as securities under  Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 vide its notification dated December 24, 2021. Now, EGR will have the same trading, clearing, and settlement capabilities as other securities traded on exchanges. Read more 

 

Chartered Accountants, the Cost and Works Accountants and the Company Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 2021 

The Chartered Accountants, the Cost and Works Accountants and the Company Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 17, 2021.  The Bill proposes to amend the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, the Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959 and the Company Secretaries Act, 1980. Read more

 


Fact Check


 Fact Check: Can the IDs issued by the Bar Council of India be used for entry into airports?

A social media post is doing the rounds that lawyers can show their Bar Council IDs as recognised ID proof for entry into airports. However on the official CISF website, which is in charge of security at airports, there is an RTI reply dated Jan 7, 2020 which specifically disallows the IDs issued by Bar Councils for entry into airports. Therefore we can safely deduce that the 2018 notification which allowed Bar Council IDs has been rescinded. Read more

 


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Fact ChecksNews

We recently came across a social media post which claimed that lawyers can use the IDs provided by the Bar Council of India as valid proofs for entry into airports for domestic flights.


The post quotes a notification that states ‘It is informed that an instruction has been issued to all Chief Airport Security Officers of all the airports under CISF security cover to accept the photo ID card issued by the Bar Council as a valid ID proof for entry in terminal buildings along with valid tickets as per Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) guidelines”.

 

This image was shared by twitter user @avijitsaxena87


If we do a basic search on the internet, we can easily trace these lines back to a letter dated 5th December, 2018. This letter was issued by the Office of the Additional Director General/Airport Sector, CISF to one Mr Mohit Kumar Gupta. This letter was carried by various websites in articles which were written back/last revised in 2018. However a copy of this letter is not available on the official website of CISF or BCAS currently (as checked on 26th December, 2021).

 

Some of the websites which carry this letter from 2018 include:

  1. Advocates ID card issued by Bar Council valid proof to enter Airport Terminals. dated Dec 8, 2018. <last accessed on Dec 26, 2021>
  2. Advocates ID Card Issued By Bar Councils Valid Identity Proof For Domestic Air Travel, Clarifies CISF dated Dec 8, 2018, <last accessed on Dec 26, 2021>
  3. Advocates can use ID issued by BCI to enter airport terminal dated  dated Dec 7, 2018. <last accessed on Dec 26, 2021>

We then checked the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) website for circulars issued, unfortunately the links relating to IDs recognised by airport security were not functional as of 26th December, 2021.

However, we were able to get a clear answer from the official website of the CISF. The RTI section of the official CISF website has a document titledSuo-Motu disclosures under section 4 of RTI ACT 2005: List of ID Cards to be produced by the passengers while travelling through the airports”

 

A screenshot of the CISF website as of 26th December, 2021

Clicking on this document takes us to a letter dated 7th January, 2020 issued by the Office of the Special Director General/Airport Sector, CISF. On page 3 of this pdf document it is clearly stated that Advocate’s Photo ID Card issued by Bar Council of India and Bar Councils of States or IDs issued by SEBI, MCI etc are not a valid photo identity document for entry into the airport’. This document can be accessed on this link.

 

Screenshot of first page of RTI reply dated Jan 7, 2020

Screenshot of relevant section of PDF

Therefore we can deduce, that although there may been a letter issued by CISF in 2018 which allowed IDs issued by Bar Council to be used as ID proof for entry into airports but as per the latest information issued by CISF as of January, 2020, which is available publicly on their website, it is clearly mentioned that IDs issued by Bar Council of India or by states are excluded as identity proofs for entry into airports.

There is an article in TOI dated August 24, 2019 that mentions that a circular was issued on August 20, 2019 which reduced the number of recognized IDs for entry into airports from 10 to 5, however the January 2020 RTI reply mentions 10 IDs which are allowed. It is possible that the August 2019 circular has been retracted or even if still in place it does not affect the recognition of Bar Council IDs as both the 2019 circular as well as the RTI reply of Jan 2020 exclude the recognition of IDs issued by Bar Council for entry into airports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Fact ChecksNews

A message in Hindi has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp and other social media that Aryan Khan, son of Hindi film actor Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested on Saturday night and courts were made to open on Sunday especially to hear his bail plea. The message  goes on to insinuate that it is because of Aryan’s wealth and status that an exception was made, as Courts are usually closed on sundays. The message further states when it comes to millionaires, judges are ready to hear cases, even at midnight, because the judicial system is merciful towards them.

A screenshot of the viral message is given below.

 

[This photo is courtesy of Prachi Saxena (Twitter handle @eatlessliftmore)]

 

Now let us check the veracity of the facts claimed in the pic above. Several news reports prove that Aryan Khan was arrested on Sunday (3rd October) and not on Saturday (2nd October). I have mentioned a couple of news reports below.

 As per a report on India Today, Aryan Khan was placed under arrest at 2 pm on Sunday for “involvement in consumption, sale and purchase” of contraband. As per a report on NDTV, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s 23-year-old son Aryan Khan was arrested along with seven others on Sunday following a raid at a party on a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai the previous night by the Narcotics Control Bureau or NCB.

Summarising the events, the raid on the cruise ship took place on Saturday night, the formal arrest of Aryan Khan took place on Sunday afternoon and his remand application before the Court took place on a Monday. This can be proved without doubt by perusing the remand application of Aryan Khan, Arbaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha before the Court of RM Nerlikar, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, 8th Court, Esplanade, Mumbai. The date mentioned on remand application (No. 911 of 2021) of Aryan Khan and others is 4/10/2021.

Therefore, we can safely say that the viral message is fake. No court was especially made to be open on Sunday to hear the remand/bail application of the accused and it took place within 24 hours from date of arrest as is the norm.

 

Fact ChecksNews

A message has been doing the rounds that Justice Dalveer Bhandari, who is of Indian origin, has been elected as the Chief Justice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the next 9 years. The message further stated that he secured 183 out of 193 votes to be elected for this position. The message goes on to say that Great Britain was holding this position for 71 years and that it was indeed a proud moment for India and Jodhpur.

 

The message can be read its entirety below:

 Justice Dalveer Bhandari elected Chief Justice for International court of Justice for next 9 years. He secured 183 votes out of 193. 

Great Britain was holding this position for 71 years. 

Proud moment for India and Jodhpur 

 

This information is fake, first of all, there is no such position as a Chief Justice in the ICJ. There are Presidents and Vice Presidents only.

Secondly, a simple perusal of the official website of ICJ  will showcase that Justice Joan Donoghue of the US is the current president of the ICJ. She was elected as President in February, 2021 and has been a member of the court since 2010.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari is also a member of the ICJ and has been so since 2012. He was reelected to be member (not the president) back in 2017 (elected in November, 2017 and appointed in February, 2018) for a term of 9 years. 

Wondering where the stats “He secured 183 votes out of 193” came from? We did a bit of background check and found out that back in 2017 both Justice Bhandari and Justice Christopher Greenwood of the UK were locked in a stalemate after 11 contentious rounds of balloting, largely because of the vote in the 15-member Security Council. Finally, the British candidate withdrew and Justice Bhandari secured 183 of the 193 votes in the General Assembly and all 15 in the Security Council. Therefore, the 183 out of 193 votes had nothing to do with election of president of the ICJ but in fact with Justice Bhandari’s own re-election as member of the ICJ.

Now let us decode another fact. The President and Vice-President of the ICJ are elected by the Members of the Court every three years by secret ballot. The ICJ is composed of 15 judges  therefore the voting can be out of 15 members only and not 193 as stated in the viral message. Also, the term for a President is three years whereas the term for a member of the ICJ is nine years, therefore the viral message is factually incorrect on that ground as well.

The statement that “Great Britain was holding this position for 71 years” is also not true because before Justice Joan Donoghue of US  was elected to this position, Abdulqawi Yusuf of Somalia was the president of ICJ and even before him Ronny Abraham of France held this coveted position. The term of a president is only three years and the last time a Judge from the United Kingdom was elected as President was between 2006-09.

Now coming on to the last sentence “Proud moment for India and Jodhpur”. The city of Jodhpur is mentioned in this viral message probably because Justice Bhandari’s birthplace is Jodhpur.  The residents of Jodhpur and rest of the country are indeed very proud of him for being reelected as member of the ICJ. Fake forwards do a disservice to him and his legacy as a judge of Indian origin representing the country in an international institution.

Fact ChecksNews

A reel on Instagram with the caption “You actually go to jail for staring at a woman for 14 seconds” has become very popular on social media. The above sentence is followed by another caption which mentions “Section 354D IPC (Deals with stalking)” as the source of this information.

When last accessed on 5th April, 2021 at 1 pm the video had over 3930 likes. This video reel was shared by an instagram account  ‘ilawputra’ with more than 38.5 thousand followers on the medium. The credit for the reel was given to another instagram account with the handle @lawsarvayoni.

The video can be accessed on the link given below:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CNCfpeAJEuO/?igshid=1wakx12ghpl0q

We have archived the link of this reel here.

Let us find out if the facts of this reel are factually correct or not by checking what Section 354 D of the Penal Code, 1860 states. Section 354D was added to the Penal Code by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which was enforced after public outrage which followed the rape and murder of Nirbhaya in Delhi.

Section 354 D is defined as follows:

Stalking

(1) Any man who—

  1. follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
  2. monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
    commits the offence of stalking;

    Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that—

    1. it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or
    2. it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
    3. in the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

(2) Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term 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 may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.

If we read the contents of this section, nowhere have the words ‘fourteen seconds’ been used. Therefore, we can safely say that the information mentioned in the reel is incorrect. So what could be the possible source of this seemingly wrong information?

A basic google search lead me to news reports of 2016 where Kerala Excise Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh had said at an event in Kochi that staring for more than 14 seconds could get a person prison-time.  “A case can be filed against men who ‘annoyingly’ stare at women for more than 14 seconds,” he had said. Mr Singh had not mentioned the source of his comment anywhere and was in fact even trolled on social media for uttering such words without any authentic source.

Next, I did a search on SCC Online to check whether the ‘fourteen second rule’ has been observed by any court of law in any case. The search did not yield any relevant results.

Therefore, I can safely say that there is no ‘staring for fourteen seconds rule’ mentioned in the law books, however, if a woman feels uncomfortable by being stared at, she should file a complaint and let the police examine the facts and circumstances of the particular case and proceed accordingly.

The reel is clearly giving out wrong information as there is no mention of the ‘fourteen seconds rule’ in Section 354D  of the Penal Code, 1860.

 

NewsWeekly Rewind

Welcome to the SCC Online Weekly Rewind where we curate the most important and interesting stories to keep you abreast of all the latest developments in the field of law.

In the first episode featuring our Legal Editor Devika Sharma, we have brought significant judgments delivered by the Supreme Court and High Courts last week, along with legislation updates and fact check.

 


Supreme Court

A Winner All Along – Justice Indu Malhotra

https://bit.ly/3tGrvks

  • Under IBC, NCLT has jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes arising solely on the ground of insolvency: Supreme Court

https://bit.ly/3vOiebX

  • SC calls for an amendment to Sections 11(7) & 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 to bring Sections 8 & 11 at par on appealability. Read how Vidya Drolia judgment has led to an anomaly

https://bit.ly/312YYtb

  • 3 years’ limitation period ‘unduly long’; Necessary for Parliament to fill the vacuum by prescribing a specific period of limitation under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation 1996: SC

https://bit.ly/3c9ALYw


High Courts

Del HC | Sensitization of citizenry has to precede, not succeed, galvanization of governmental machinery: Directions issued to Airlines and DGCA on noting an ‘alarming’ situation in Air India flight

Delhi High Court

https://bit.ly/3cZkncf

Madras HC | Lady IPS Officer harassed by Special DGP. “Court is not going to be a mute spectator”: HC takes suo motu cognizance; decides to monitor investigation; issues directions

 

 

https://bit.ly/315Fu78

 

 

HP HC | Whether a contractual woman employee is entitled to avail maternity leave in case of a surrogate child? HC analyses

 

 

https://bit.ly/2QifzH5

 

 


Legislation Updates

MORTH issues Draft notification for prohibiting Renewal of Registration of Vehicles Owned by Central and State Government after 15 Years

https://bit.ly/3c99jdd

Rights of Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder, notified

 

https://bit.ly/3sefgv5

 

 

 


Fact Check

Fact Check: Do you need to verify your social media accounts with government ID within three months?

 

 

 

https://bit.ly/3tGZoSa

Fact ChecksNews

The image of a hindi newspaper clipping with the headline ‘सांसदों का भत्ता बढ़ाने को मंज़ूरी’ (Increase in salaries of MPs approved) has been doing the rounds on social media recently. The article states in hindi that the hike in salary will be twice the current amount and will be effective from April 1. Facebook users have uploaded the image of the news clipping on their facebook wall and in groups and several people have commented on the same expressing anger over hike of salaries of members of parliament when the country is going through a pandemic. 

 An image of the viral post can be seen below and it’s link can be accessed here

 

 

Let us check about the veracity of the claims. 

 When we look at the image of the news image, we can see that no date of publication is visible on it. So it does create a doubt in our mind that this news clipping could be of an old news article which by chance is being circulated in 2021 and is wrongly making netizens believe that it is a current news item. 

 Next, we check the legal basis of the changes in salaries mentioned in the news piece. 

 Article 106 of the Constitution of India empowers MPs to determine their salaries by enacting laws. The text of Article 106 can be seen below. 

Salaries and allowances of members Members of either House of Parliament shall be entitled to receive such salaries and allowances as may from time to time be determined by Parliament by law and, until provision in that in that respect is so made, allowances at such rates and upon such conditions as were immediately before the commencement of this Constitution applicable in the case of members of the Constituent Assembly of the Dominion of India Legislative Procedure. 

Till the year 2018, members of parliament were periodically passing laws to revise salaries as authorised under Article 106. However, this came to debate because of the conflict of interest which arose because MPs were determining their own salaries. Therefore, a mechanism was suggested to set salaries which did not involve MPs and parliamentary committees. As a solution , through the Finance Act, 2018, the parliament amended the law which provided that the salary, daily allowance, and pension of MPs will be increased every five years, on the basis of the cost inflation index provided under the Income-tax Act, 1961 to decrease this conflict of interest and ensure regular revisions. 

Amendments to the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 (http://egazette.nic.in/writereaddata/2018/184302.pdf) which came into effect in April, 2018 can be seen below:

  1. Save as otherwise provided, the provisions of this Part shall come into force from the 1st day of April, 2018. 
  2. In the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 (hereafter referred to as the principal Act in this Part), section 3 shall be numbered as sub-section (1) thereof,— 

(i) in sub-section (1) as so renumbered, for the words “fifty thousand rupees”, the words “one lakh rupees” shall be substituted;  

(ii) after sub-section (1) as so renumbered, the following sub-section shall be inserted, namely:—  

“(2) The salary and daily allowance of members shall be increased after every five years commencing from 1st April, 2023 on the basis of Cost Inflation Index provided under clause (v) of Explanation to section 48 of the Income-tax Act, 1961.” 

If we look at the content of the news clipping, it  goes back to the news of 2018 when the basic salary of MPs has been revised from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000 per month as has been mentioned above. The amendment also stated that from this day onwards salaries and daily allowances will be increased every five years based on cost inflation index commencing from 1st April, 2023. 

The last change in MP salaries happened through The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2020 (http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/221990.pdf)  which in fact had decreased the allowances of the MPs by 30%. This took place in the year 2020 and the change in salaries came into effect in April, 2020. The amendments to reduce salaries and allowances of MPs and Ministers was done to supplement the central government’s resources to fight the corona pandemic. 

 Therefore, we can safely say that the news clipping is not of year 2021. Salaries of MPs were last hiked in 2018 and will next be hiked in 2023 as per the amended law. The only change in salaries of MPs was infact a decrease which took place in 2020 owing to the corona pandemic. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fact ChecksNews

The screenshot of a tweet has been doing the rounds on social media that all social media accounts need to be verified with a government ID through mobile phones within three months. These claims were circulated after the Government announced the Intermediary Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021. These rules have been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011. 

After these rules were notified, tweets were posted on social media which claimed as follows.

“All SM accounts need to be verified with a government ID through mobile phones within three months. Welcome step. Internet is safer & more responsible now. Govt announces intermediary Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021 to safeguard users’ rights. #ottguidelines”

The screenshot of the tweets doing the rounds are given below.

 

Let us check the veracity of the claims.

Official Press Release

On 25th February, 2021 the Press Information Bureau released a press statement stating that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 have been notified by the Government. The link of the press release can be accessed here. In the press release under the heading salient features it is clearly written that 

  • Voluntary User Verification Mechanism: Users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to verify their accounts and provided with demonstrable and visible mark of verification. 

From the above statement it can be clearly deduced that the government has proposed only a voluntary verification mechanism and it is not mandatory for all users of social media to get their accounts verified. 

Press Conference of Union Minister

The official account of the Press Information Bureau has also tweeted a video of Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Law & Justice, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Minister of India, where he is clearly stating that only the social media users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to verify their accounts and will be provided with demonstrable and visible mark of verification. The video of the Union Minister can be accessed here.  

Conclusion

Therefore, looking at the press release by PIB and the press conference of Union Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad it can be safely said that rumours claiming that all social media accounts need to be verified by government IDs through mobile phones within three months are false. 

 

 

Fact ChecksNews

An article published by India Today claimed that the Punjab and Haryana High Court in an unusual judgment had recently observed that the wife would be eligible for family pension even if she murders her husband. The article quotes an observation of the Court which stated that

“Nobody butchers the hen giving golden eggs. The wife cannot be deprived of the family pension even if she murders her husband. Family pension is a welfare scheme that was launched to provide financial help to the family in the event of a government employee’s death. Wife is entitled to family pension even if she is convicted in a criminal case,”

The article further quoted the facts of the case as ‘one Baljeet Kaur of Ambala told the court that her husband Tarsem Singh was a Haryana government employee who passed away in 2008. In 2009, she was booked for or a murder and was later convicted in 2011 (sic). Baljeet Kaur was getting the family pension till 2011 but the Haryana government stopped the pension immediately after her conviction.’

The article concluded by stating that the Court had directed the concerned department to release the petitioner’s family pension within two months along with the pending dues.

The screenshot of the news item can be seen below.

The screenshot of the controversial paragraph which stated that wife cannot be deprived of family pension even if she murders her husband can be seen below.

This news was also reported on other sites such as

  1. News 18
  2. Daily Hunt

Now let us test the veracity of the claims.

We looked up the judgment of this case on the website of Punjab and Haryana High Court and found a judgment with similar facts which was delivered on 25th January, 2021. The case was Baljinder Kaur vs. State of Haryana, CWP No. 24430 of 2017, delivered on 25.01.2021. The India Today article had got the name of the petitioner wrong. It was Baljinder Kaur and not Baljeet Kaur.

We read the judgment delivered by the court and found the paragraph quoted in red above has nowhere been mentioned in the written judgment. As per the facts, the petitioner’s husband died in 2008 after which she was receiving pension from the government for some time. However, after she was booked and later convicted for murder of another person in 2011 (who was obviously not her husband) she stopped receiving the pension. Therefore, the question of the wife murdering her husband does not arise in this case.

Under the Haryana Compassionate Assistance to the Dependents of the Deceased Government Employees Rules, 2006, the state government had denied the petitioner pension on the grounds that her conduct was not good as she was convicted of murder. They said that pension was not a charity or bounty and that it was a conditional payment depending upon the  sweet will of the employer. As her sentence was not stayed and merely suspended for bail, they said that she was not entitled to any pecuniary benefits.

After going through the facts and arguments of the case, the bench of GS Sandhawalia, J. was of the opinion that denying pension to the petitioner on account of her conviction, was unrelated to the death of her husband and was therefore not sustainable. Accordingly, the said order was set aside.

The Court further clarified that it was not disputed that the petitioner had committed murder but she was out on bail and her sentence had been suspended. She needed the pension to maintain herself and the Court was of the opinion that she cannot be denied the financial assistance. Pension is not a bounty and is her right on account of the services rendered by her husband to the Government, the Court observed.

Conclusion

Therefore, we can safely conclude that the headline of the article on India Today and the quoted paragraph highlighted in red above is not reflected in the written judgment. The reasons for allowing pension to the petitioner was because her conviction for murder was in no way connected to the death of her husband.

Fact Checks

Some say the age of the internet has become the age of disinformation because we don’t know what news to trust. On the SCC Online Blog, we have introduced a new feature this year, called the Fact Check. The purpose of this feature is to Fact check fake news about laws passed or enforced or implemented. Here is a round up of the important fact checks of the year 2020.

  • Fact Check: Is it illegal to share pdfs of e-papers on Whatsapp? A viral social media post has been doing the rounds that it is illegal to share the pdf links of e-papers on Whatsapp and other media. Post lockdown, many housing societies have put restrictions on the delivery of newspapers. Therefore, residents of such societies and others have become dependent on pdfs of e-papers being circulated for their fix of the daily newspaper. A report in Dainik Bhaskar stated that action can be taken against the group admin of a Whatsapp group for not putting an end to the circulation of such pdfs. Read the article to test veracity of the claims.
  • Fact Check: Are schools banned from charging tuition fees for summer vacations? A social media message has been doing the rounds that as per a High Court order (the message does not specify which High Court), private schools cannot charge any fee for the summer vacation months. These could be any months between April to July when the school is closed. The petition number mentioned is CP No. 5812 of 2015 and the decision of the order as per is 5th March, 2018. Read the article to find out the truth.
  • Fact Check: Is the viral circular stating that the Govt will pay 24% Employees’ Provident Fund for next 3 months true? An official looking circular has become viral on social media which states that the government has announced a package to employers under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, wherein the the government will contribute 24% of the employee and employer provident fund share per month for three months to PF accounts of employees earning less than Rs 15,000 to tide over the impact of Covid-19 on small establishments having less than 100 employees. The circular was signed by the regional PF Commissioner of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Find out the truth by reading the article.
  • Fact Check: Has the Government of Jammu & Kashmir passed any order to restore 4G services? An official looking order has been doing the rounds on social media that the Home Department of Jammu & Kashmir has ordered restoration of 4G services. The order dated 27.07.20 is purported to be signed by Shaleen Kabra who is the Principal Secretary to the Government (Home) in J&K. The order states that as schools are closed down due to the COVID situation, access to online classes is a bit hard due to 2G speed. The Secretary being apprised of the situation has ordered restoration of 4G internet. Read the fact check.
  • Fact Check: Has the Supreme Court issued any directions to make paying of rent mandatory during lockdown? A viral Whatsapp message has been doing the rounds that payment of rent cannot be refused during the lockdown. The message includes a news link of Deccan Herald which is about a Court’s order on a plea to waive off rent of lawyers’ chambers as they are unable to earn money due to the Courts being shut. An inference has been drawn that refusal to waive rent of lawyers’ chambers applies to all properties whether residential, industrial or commercial and that no tenant can refuse to pay rent. Read the article to find out the truth.
  • Fact Check: Has any resolution been passed by SCBA to not give farewell to Justice Mishra? Screenshots of a tweet by a journalist has been doing the rounds on social media that the Supreme Court Bar Association headed by president Dushyant Dave has passed a resolution not to give farewell to Arun Mishra, J. when he retires on September 2. Along with the screenshot of the tweet, a pdf titled ‘Proposed Resolution of SCBA’ is also circulating. The pdf states that the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association has resolved not to hold any farewell for Justice Mishra upon his retirement. Read the fact check to check the veracity of the statement.
  • Fact Check: Did the Supreme Court pass any order staying MHA Order directing private companies to make full payments to their employees? Many news websites published a news story yesterday that the Supreme Court has stayed a Ministry of Home Affairs order dated March 29, 2020 directing industries, shops and commercial establishments to pay full salary/wages to all its staff, workers, contract workers, casual workers during the period of lockdown. Read the fact-check to find out if the news is authentic.
  • Fact-check: Has the government banned free discussion on COVID 19 on social media?  A social media message was doing the rounds in April which read as follows: “Mandate To All. Tonight 12 (midnight) onwards Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country. According to this update, apart from the Govt department no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to Coronavirus and it being a punishable offence. Group Admins are requested to post the above update and inform the groups.” This message led many Whatsapp admins and other social media group admins to ban members from posting any news or information about COVID-19, even information that can be categorised as helpful or authentic. Read the article to find out the veracity of these claims.
  • Fact Check: Has the Madras High Court issued any order to waive rent from April to June? In a Whatsapp forward circulating alongwith screenshots of a newspaper article, social media in Tamil Nadu is abuzz with the news that Madras High Court has ordered landlords not to collect rent for the months of April, May and June. Read the article to test veracity of the news.
  • Fact Check: Has the DIG of Indore issued any advisory to the police to uninstall Chinese apps? A screenshot of an advisory issued by Indore DIG has been doing the rounds on social media. The order in the screenshot advises all police personnel of Indore to uninstall 52 Chinese apps on their phone from Google Play Store and Apple IOS. The order states that as per information from the Ministry of Home Affairs, there is a threat that the user’s personal and other information could be stolen by installing and using such apps. Read the article to find out the truth.
Fact ChecksNews

Screenshots of a tweet by a journalist has been doing the rounds on social media that the Supreme Court Bar Association headed by president Dushyant Dave has passed a resolution not to give farewell to Arun Mishra, J. when he retires on September 2. Along with the screenshot of the tweet, a pdf titled ‘Proposed Resolution of SCBA’ is also circulating. The pdf states that the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association has resolved not to hold any farewell for Justice Mishra upon his retirement. Two points have been mentioned in the pdf which state that he was extremely unpleasant to the members of the Bar and have misbehaved with him on several occasions and that all important matters of the government where assigned to him, and  therefore other judges were relegated to an inferior position. The note ends with the statement that Justice Mishra had caused immense damage to the Supreme Court as an institution and that the Bar registers its protest by not giving any farewell to Justice Mishra. The points can be read in detail in the pdf image given below. 

Now let us test the veracity of the claims in the pdf. We checked the official website of the Supreme Court Bar Association and found that there is a notification published there which states that circulating pdf with respect to the statement tissued by the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association on the issue of Farewell to Hon’ble Mr. Justice Arun Mishra on his retirement next month is false. The  notification further states that no such statement had been issued by the Executive Committee and that in fact this matter had not been considered by the EC in any meeting. The Press release being attributed to the EC was not genuine and is strongly denied by Mr Dave on behalf of the EC. Mr Dave strongly condemned the same as being mischievous and an attempt to malign the SCBA. 

The notification uploaded on the SCBA website can be seen below:

Therefore, we can safely say that the circulating message is false and no resolution has been passed by the SCBA to not give a farewell to Justice Mishra.

Fact ChecksNews

An official looking order has been doing the rounds on social media that the Home Department of Jammu & Kashmir has ordered restoration of 4G services. The order dated 27.07.20 is purported to be signed by Shaleen Kabra who is the Principal Secretary to the Government (Home) in J&K. The order states that as schools are closed down due to the COVID situation, access to online classes is a bit hard due to 2G speed. The Secretary being apprised of the situation has ordered restoration of 4G internet. The official looking order can be seen below.

Now let us test the veracity of the claims. The Department of Information and Public Relations, J&K in an article uploaded on https://www.diprjkfactcheck.in/ on 28.07.2020 has clarified that an order mentioning about the directions to Internet Service Providers for lifting speed related restrictions is under circulation in the social media. This order is fake and no such direction has been issued by the Principal Secretary of the Home department, J & K.[1]

Therefore based on the clarification issued by the Department of Information and Public Relations of J&K, we can safely conclude that the message doing the rounds on social media that 4G services has been restored in Jammu & Kashmir is false.


[1] https://www.diprjkfactcheck.in/newsdet.aspx?id=225


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Fact ChecksNews

In a Whatsapp forward circulating alongwith screenshots of a newspaper article, social media in Tamil Nadu is abuzz with the news that Madras High Court has ordered landlords not to collect rent for the months of April, May and June.

The screenshots of the four messages are given below:

If we look at the third image, mischievously certain words have been underlined to give the impression that Madras High Court has waived off rent for 3 months. However this is not the case. In reality, a Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Court to waive off rent for these months of the Lockdown. The Court has issued notice to the government to reply to the PIL filed. No order has been issued by the Court and the matter is still subjudice.

The plea was moved by the petitioner Advocate LK Charles Alexander, citing that governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka have deferred rent payments for tenants owing to the Covid crisis. He moved the High Court seeking the state government of Tamil Nadu  to restrain landlords from demanding rent during this period.

The order of the High Court has not yet been uploaded on the Court website therefore we approached the petitioner L.K. Charles Alexander directly, who confirmed to us that the case of LK Charles Alexander vs.The Secretary to Government, Writ Petition No. 8378/2020 was heard on 2nd July, 2020.  The matter was taken up by the division bench of R. Subbiah and Krishnan Ramaswamy, JJ. and they had ordered that two weeks time is given to the government to file an affidavit.

On March 29 and March 30, 2020  the centre and state government of Tamil Nadu had issued orders to defer payment of rent for the month of March however no such decision has been taken until now for the months of April, May and June.

Therefore, we can safely say that the social media message with the maroon background is clearly misleading. No order has been issued by the Courts or the State Government of Tamil Nadu to defer payment of rent and the matter is subjudice. The Court has merely issued a notice to the Government to reply to the PIL.


Nilufer Bhateja, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Fact ChecksNews

A screenshot of an advisory issued by Indore DIG has been doing the rounds on social media. The order in the screenshot advises all police personnel of Indore to uninstall 52 Chinese apps on their phone from Google Play Store and Apple IOS. The order states that as per information from the Ministry of Home Affairs, there is a threat that the user’s personal and other information could be stolen by installing and using such apps.

The screenshot of the order can be seen below:

This story has also been covered by some news websites such as

  1. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/indore/news/remove-china-apps-indore-dig-harinarayanachari-mishra-order-to-delete-50-chinese-mobile-apps-127426076.html
  2. https://www.amarujala.com/madhya-pradesh/indore-dig-issued-a-list-of-chinese-apps-which-can-stole-data-and-asked-to-uninstall-them

Let us check the veracity of such claims. The Times of India has reported that such an order was in fact released by the Indore DIG, however it was withdrawn a couple of hours later. The article quotes DIG of Indore Mr Harinarayan Chari Mishra stating

We have to add a few more apps in the advisory after which it will be reissued” [1]

In the same article, IG Vivek Sharma was quoted saying that

“Such advice of technical nature is generally rendered by agencies like CERT-In. Since the order had an equivocal semblance of being directed towards the general public and not towards the closed organisational rank and file, it was recalled. Moreover, such orders of a pervasive nature are generally issued at state level after due consideration, and not by districts individually.”[2]

Therefore, we can safely conclude that the advisory being shared on social media regarding uninstalling Chinese apps was issued by DIG of Indore, however it was later withdrawn.

 


Nilufer Bhateja, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

[1] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/indore-dig-withdraws-order-on-chinese-apps/articleshow/76475280.cms

[2] Ibid

Fact ChecksNews

A viral whatsapp message has been doing the rounds that payment of rent cannot be refused during the lockdown. The message includes a news link of Deccan Herald which is about a Court’s order on a plea to waive off rent of lawyers’ chambers as they are unable to earn money due to the Courts being shut. An inference has been drawn that refusal to waive rent of lawyers’ chambers applies to all properties whether residential, industrial or commercial and that no tenant can refuse to pay rent. Let us have a look at the entire post and then check its veracity:

The Supreme Court has rejected the plea (of tenants) for a waiver on rent.

Meaning the payment of rent Can not be refused and is mandatory for the tenant for any property that they occupy.

The order was passed on the plea of lawyers requesting to waive off the rent of their chambers during lockdown which was rejected by the court and is applicable to all properties whether residential, industrial or commercial. (sic)[1]

The Deccan Herald report is dated 30th April 2020. On 30th April, Supreme Court had passed an order in the case of Pawan Pathak Prakash v Bar Council of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 10949 of 2020[2] which stated that

“The application for permission to appear and argue in person is allowed. Having heard the petitioner-in-person and taking into consideration the grievance of the petitioner, we are of the opinion that the best course is that the Bar Council of India should consider assisting its brethren, keeping in view the prevailing situation. With the above observation, the writ petition stands disposed of.”

In the case mentioned above, the Court requested the Bar Council of India to consider financial emergency assistance to lawyers.

On 5th May, in another case of Pawan Pathak Prakash v Union of India, Writ Petition No.  11005 of 2020[3], the Court held that

‘We are not inclined to entertain this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed’

In this case, the Court dismissed the petition requesting for waiver of rent for lawyers during the lockdown period. Nowhere does it say that the Court has made it mandatory to pay rent in the case of lawyers’ chambers or otherwise. No inference can be drawn that the court has made it applicable to all properties, whether residential, industrial or commercial.

If we analyse the Deccan Herald report which has many comments by the judges made in open court (but not mentioned in the written order). The comments made by the Courts have no legal bearing or precedential value. They are at the end of the day just comments and are not to be taken as Court orders which have any legal consequences. When an SLP or a Writ Petition is dismissed in limine (without a reasoned order) and the relief sought for is denied, the opposite of the relief cannot be construed to be the Court’s ruling.

To sum up, the viral message quoted above has misinterpreted the Court order. The Court has merely refused to give orders to waive rent for lawyers’ chambers. The Court order does not mention that paying rent is mandatory for tenants of all properties whether residential, industrial or commercial.  Therefore, the viral message is a  misleading interpretation of the Court’s order.


[1] https://www.deccanherald.com/national/covid-19-sc-declines-plea-for-rent-waiver-relief-for-lawyers-831845.html

[2] https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/10949/10949_2020_32_5_21909_Order_30-Apr-2020.pdf

[3] https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/11005/11005_2020_32_1_21916_Order_05-May-2020.pdf

Fact ChecksNews

A social media message has been doing the rounds which reads as follows:

“Mandate To All. Tonight 12 (midnight) onwards Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country. According to this update, apart from the Govt department no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to Coronavirus and it being a punishable offence. Group Admins are requested to post the above update and inform the groups.”

This message has led many Whatsapp admins and other social media group admins to ban members from posting any news or information about COVID-19, even information that can be categorised as helpful or authentic.

Let us test the veracity of these claims. In an order dated 24th March, 2020[1], the National Disaster Management Authority under Section 6 (2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA) gave instructions to departments of Central Government, State Government and State Authorities to take measures to control spread of the disease. The order also directed the National Executive Committee to issue necessary guidelines under Section 10 (2)(l) to that effect. Therefore, we are aware that sections of DMA were invoked to mitigate the risks of the pandemic.

If we look at provisions of DMA, specifically Section 54 which deals with punishment for false claims. This section states that whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to a disaster or its severity or magnitude which leads to panic, will be punishable with imprisonment of upto one year, upon conviction.

This section clearly states that information that is false and what leads to panic is punishable, not all information from verifiable sources.

Another Act to deal with a pandemic of this nature is the Epidemic Act, 1897. Under Section 2 of this Act, state governments and union territories can take special measures and formulate regulations to contain the disease. Section 3 provides that disobedience of any regulations can invite penal provisions under Section 188, Penal Code, 1860. Post this, many state governments have invoked the Epidemic Act including Delhi [2] , Karnataka [3] , Gujarat [4] etc. Under Section 188, Penal Code, 1860  one can be punished only if one disobeys the rules of a public servant (i.e. rules prescribed by various state governments in this case). Nowhere does it mention that one can be punished for a mere discussion on the pandemic.

Similarly, under Section 505 (1)(b), Penal Code, 1860 any person who makes, publishes or circulates information that is likely to cause alarm to the public or is against public tranquility, etc is punishable with imprisonment. Again under the ambit of this section, only that speech is punishable that leads to panic or false alarm and not “all speech”.

Even the Supreme Court in an order dated as recent as 31st March, 2020 [5] , told the media to maintain a strong sense of responsibility and ensure that unverified news capable of causing panic is not disseminated however the Court also stated that it does not intend to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic but directed the media refer to and publish the official version about the developments.” [6]

The Government has far-reaching powers under the Epidemic Act, 1897 and the Disaster Management Act, 2005 however these powers are not meant to intrude upon freedom of speech as long as they are used to disseminate genuine information and not to cause alarm or spread panic among the public.

In conclusion, the message quoted above which has made it’s way in multitude WhatsApp groups is fake. There is no need to worry if genuine and verifiable information, which is the need of the hour, is being shared with the members of a WhatsApp group.


[1]https://ndma.gov.in/images/covid/ndmaorder240320.pdf

[2] https://main.sci.goc.in/pdf/cir/covid19_14032020.pdf (page 3 onwards)

[3] https://www.simpliance.in/files/news/Karnataka%20Epidemic%20Diseases,%20COVID-19%20Regulations,%202020.pdf

[4] https://nrhm.gujarat.gov.in/Portal/News/218_1_Notification-14-03-2020.pdf

[5] Alakh Alok Srivastava v. Union of India, WP(s) (Civil) No(s). 468/2020, order dated 31-03-2020

[6] https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/3/31/coronavirus-covid-19-food-is-being-provided-to-over-22-lakh-migrant-workers-centre-tells-sc/