Madras High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Madras High Court: In an application seeking the appointment of the applicant as a fit and proper person to be guardian of the minor children and for grant of sole and permanent custody of the minor children, Krishnan Ramasamy, J. has directed the father/respondent to hand over interim custody of the children to the mother/applicant, till the disposal of the main original petition.

In this case, the applicant and respondent got married in the year 2009 and have 2 children. Thereafter, matrimonial disputes arose between the parties, and the wife was subjected to harassment and was thrown out of the matrimonial home in 2021 by the respondent, while he retained the custody of the children. Thereafter, the applicant filed various petitions and applications, seeking dissolution of marriage, custody of minor children and visitation rights etc.

The Court noted that this Court by various orders has granted the visitation rights to the applicant to ensure that the well-being of the children be unaffected by the estranged and strained relationship of the parents, however, the respondent has failed to comply with the said orders. Further, the respondent has even indulged in parental alienation and tutored the children to act and behave contrary to the wishes of the applicant and according to the respondent. He has even updated the children about the Court proceedings, which prompted the elder son to act against the mother and to resist to stay with her, and to demand from her to withdraw the case filed against his father.

The Court observed that without parental alienation, this could not be possible for a tender aged child to insist and demand his mother to withdraw the case and impose the condition that unless she withdraws the case, he would not come to his mother.

The Court further observed that the respondent is throwing the blame on the children stating that the children themselves are not interested in going and staying with the mother and that he cannot force them, and it is beyond his hands; also, in the Court orders there is no specific role mentioned directing the respondent to act in the matter of convincing and handing over the children to the applicant. This clearly proves the aspect of parental alienation on the part of the respondent. Further, his inability to advise and persuade the children, further evidents his inability and incapability to maintain and keep the custody of the children anymore.

Moreover, the Court viewed that “to turn a child against a parent is to turn a child against himself. Parental alienation is inhuman, and it is a menace to a child, who directly needs two hands to hold, both the mother and father till he/she walks throughout the life or at least till he/she attains majority” Further, it was observed that hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child against his/her mother/father unless it is taught by the person whom the child believes. A parent indulging in parental alienation means he/she is polluting the tender mind of the innocent child by portraying the mother/father as a villain, which would have a considerable impact on him/her throughout his/her life.

The Court observed that “the welfare of the child is of paramount consideration but being with the parent who is not ready to teach and persuade his children to love their own mother, cannot be accepted. Further, it is not fair on the part of the respondent in not accommodating the children to spend time with their mother despite the Court orders.

Moreover, the Court observed that “children have a fundamental right and need for an unearthened and loving relationship with their parents and denying the said right would amount to child abuse” and the respondent, without justification, has been indulging in such child abuse. It was observed that when there is healthy co-parenting, the children will lead a happier childhood instead of becoming an emotionally broken adult who will in turn become non-understanding and unsympathetic citizens.

The Court further viewed that the welfare of a child is not to be measured only by money and physical comfort, as it includes material welfare; however, they are secondary matters, the primary considerations of matters are the stability and the security, the loving and understanding, care and guidance, warm and compassionate relationships that are essential for the full development of the child’s own character, personality and talents.

Further, the Court observed that it appears prima facie that the respondent poisons the minors’ minds against the mother and acted against the welfare of the minors and for the healthy growth of the children, their custody was discontinued with the respondent as there is very high probability that if the children continue to stay with him, they will be influenced to such an extent that they will never want to return to their mother, it will cause mental and physical disorders including psychological pain, anger and depression, which would certainly cause harm to the welfare of the child.

The Court also observed that it is incumbent upon a parent, having the custody of the children, to encourage co-parenting despite having personal hatred towards the spouse and allow the children to move freely with their parent, as the quality of the relationship between the co-parents have a strong influence on the mental and emotional well-being of the children.

Moreover, the Court observed that “the concept of marriage is not for mere satisfying carnal pleasure, but it is mainly for the purpose of Pro generation, which leads to the extension of the families of the two individuals, who have been united over a sacred oath, taken by both”. Further, it was observed that the law can satisfy the ego, but it can never satisfy the requirements of the child, as the framers of the law were only conscious of the welfare of the child and not on the mental turmoil that would be faced by a child in such a calamitous situation.

The Court further viewed that in matters relating to custody of children, primarily, the Court will consider the welfare of the children and decide which parent is suitable to look after the child in a better manner by providing them all necessary facilities and comforts, however, what the Court cannot evaluate is, whether the child feels happy only with one parent, ultimately, the child is the silent sufferer, having lost the love and affection of another parent. Thus, taking into consideration the welfare of the child, the Court granted interim custody to the mother/ applicant.

[X v. X, Application No. 2011 of 2021, decided on 16.09.2022]

Delhi High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In two cross letter Patents appeal, one by the petitioner/appellant for the enhancement of costs imposed upon the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and other by the MCD setting aside of the compensation imposed upon it, the division bench of Satish Chandra Sharma, CJ. and Subramonium Prasad, J. while enhancing the compensation awarded to the appellant, observed that the Municipal Corporation was constituted for the precise purpose of providing basic amenities to the citizens, thus, it cannot shirk off its responsibility on the ground that society was once unauthorised or by citing financial constraints.

In this case, when the appellant’s property was constructed, it was placed at the road level. However, subsequently, the MCD has re-laid the adjoining road and each time the road was repaired/re-constructed, the level of the road rose by about 2½ feet. Due to this, the appellant’s house has gone below the road level, thus, the rain water gets collected in the house which has caused damage to the house.

The Court noted that the issue has been under consideration before the Court since 2011 and several status reports have been filed. Also, the MCD has been adamant about not bringing down the road level on the ground that, if it is done then it will create problems for other house owners. Further, a Status Report had been filed on 24.05.2011, admitted that since 1997, roads were repaired many times and because of which the roads have elevated, and that out of 101 properties in the area, 82 properties are at the road level, meaning thereby that the residents have demolished and reconstructed the properties by bringing it to the road level and 11 properties, which are not demolished and re-constructed, are below the road level.

The Court further noted that the MCD admitted that 11 houses were facing the same issue. However, it diverted the blame on the Petitioner and the Delhi Jal Board, by stating that the problem has been caused as Azad Nagar was an illegal/unregularized society. The Court rejected this argument by observing that a sizeable population of Delhi lives in areas designated by the Government as “unauthorized colonies”, which did not feature in the original development area of Delhi or were areas which were not zoned for residential use. Thereafter, the Government of NCT Delhi initiated the regularisation process in the 1970s, then the early 1980s, with the aim of including these societies within the development plans of the city. Thereby, the appellant’s colony was regularised in 1987.

Moreover, the Court viewed that the locality of Azad Nagar faces the issue of waterlogging because the MCD has indiscriminately repaired the roads, without following basic care and caution and this has compelled individuals, who did not have the finances to raise the level of their houses to sell their houses to builders, thus, it rejected the argument that the issue of waterlogging has occurred due to the status of the colony, further, the MCD needs to ensure that other societies which were “unauthorised” and have subsequently been regularised are provided with the requisite sanitation facilities, functional drainage system, roads, and other similar infrastructural amenities.

The Court strongly objected to the MCD’s suggestion that the petitioner should apply for a fresh sanction plan and rebuild her house, as MCD is a public body duly enacted for the benefit of the public at large, thus, it cannot reasonably expect individuals to reapply for sanction plans, and further build their houses from scratch. Moreover, the Court viewed that it should not be the prerogative of a few, with the requisite finances, to enjoy the basic amenities as basic as sanitation, functional drainage systems, and mindfully constructed roads.

The Court observed that it is unfortunate that not only has the MCD created the issue of waterlogging but also aggravated the situation by not taking appropriate measures to avoid choking drains during monsoon. Further, it observed that “it is well settled that it is the duty of the MCD to ensure that there is no water logging and proper storm water drains are constructed, and it cannot pass the buck to the residents to contend that since the storm water drains are clogged nothing can be done by the MCD” therefore, MCD has failed in discharging its duties.

The Court placed reliance on the ruling in Municipal Council, Ratlam v. Vardichan, (1980) 4 SCC 162, wherein the Court held that a responsible municipal council constituted for the precise purpose of preserving public health and providing better finances cannot run away from its principal duty by pleading financial inability.

The Court took note of the ruling in Municipal Corpn. of Delhi v. Subhagwanti, (1966) 3 SCR 649 wherein the Court while dealing with the issue as to whether MCD can be held liable to pay compensation in a writ petition, observed that liability to pay compensation arises “in a situation where the circumstances surrounding the thing which causes the damage are exclusively under the control or management of the defendant or his servant and the happening is such as does not occur in the ordinary course of things without negligence on the defendant’s part.”

The Court also took note of various Supreme Court’s rulings like Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, (1993) 2 SCC 746, Municipal Corpn. of Delhi v. Sushila Devi, (1999) 4 SCC 317 and S Sube Singh v. State of Haryana, (2006) 3 SCC 178, wherein the Court observed that “it is well-settled that award of compensation against the State is an appropriate and effective remedy for redressal of an established infringement of a fundamental right under Article 21, by a public servant”, and observed that a responsible Municipal Corporation consisted for the precise purpose of providing the basic public goods cannot shirk off its responsibility by citing financial constraints. Further, the MCD has been grossly negligent in its conduct, and to do complete justice, providing monetary compensation to the appellant is the most viable mode of redress available.

Moreover, it was observed that a fresh evaluation indicates that the appellant would have to spend close to Rs. 21.20 lakhs to carry out the necessary repairs. Further, the appellant is 80 years old and has been pursuing this litigation for over a decade, has suffered loss of her material possessions, and has undergone immense agony and anxiety for a prolonged period, thus, the Court enhanced the compensation awarded to the appellant by a sum of Rs. 9,00,000/ and rejected the challenge by the MCD to the impugned order awarding compensation of Rs. 3,00,000/- to the appellant.

[Leela Mathur v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 2731, decided on 02.09.2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Appellant: Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal

For Respondents: Advocate Tushar Sannu,

Advocate Pooja Gupta

Advocate Ajjay Aroraa

Advocate Anuj Bhargava

Karnataka High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Alok Aradhe CJ., and S. Viswajith Shetty, J., held that azan or the contents of azan does not violate fundamental rights of petitioner of any person from a different faith. The use of loudspeakers, however, must be ensured to be within permissible limits from 10pm to 6 am in accordance with law.

The petitioner is a resident of Bengaluru who filed the petition seeking writ of mandamus directing State and State Police to stop the mosques or masjids in the State of Karnataka from using the objectionable words through loudspeakers while calling azan or adhan prayer 5 times in a day throughout the 365 days in a year. He also sought to take steps regarding seizure and confiscation of loudspeakers, amplifiers and such other equipment installed in mosques/masjids.

Counsel for petitioner submitted that the grievance of petitioner is that calling of Azan or Adhan, though is an essential religious practice of Muslims, however the contents of the Azan or Adhan are hurting the believers of other religious faiths.

The Court noted that Right to practice religion is not an absolute right but, is subject to restrictions on the grounds of public order, morality and health as well as other rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution. Article 25 and 26 embodies the principle of religious toleration which is a characteristic of Indian civilization.

The Court further noted that azan/adhan is a call to offer prayer and does not violate fundamental rights guaranteed to the petitioner as well as persons of other faith. However, the use of loudspeakers, public address systems and sound processing instruments is governed by the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 read with Section 37 of Karnataka Police Act, 1963.

Thus, the Court directed Respondents 1-4 to ensure that the loudspeakers, public address systems, sound processing instruments and other musical instruments shall not be permitted to be used above permissible decibel during night from 10pm to 6 am in the morning.

[Chandrashekar R v. State of Karnataka, WP No. 10473 of 2022, decided on 22-08-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Manjunath S Halawar, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Additional Government Advocate SS Mahendra, Advocate, for the State.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Delhi High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In a case where the mother (‘applicant’) who is in judicial custody for an alleged grave offence seeks interim bail to get her child admitted in a school, Swarana Kanta Sharma, J. took suo motu cognizance and directed Delhi police to ensure admission of the child recognizing right to education as a fundamental right of the child. The bail application was thus directed to be withdrawn and a compliance report was sought regarding admission.

The present application was filed by the petitioner seeking interim bail for two weeks in FIR registered under sections 302/365/292/397/411/120-B/201 & 34 Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) for alleged involvement in the murder of an old lady whose body parts were severed and disposed of in a drain. The petitioner and her husband, who is the co-accused in the aforementioned FIR, have been in judicial custody since 11-07-2021. The application was preferred by the mother of the child on the grounds that she is concerned about the admission to a school of her child, who is about 8 years of age. It is stated that without her presence, she cannot be admitted to any school.

It was brought to the attention of the court that the presence of the applicant/mother is not required for admission of the child in the school and the Aadhaar Card of the mother shall suffice. Investigating Officer (IO) also verified the same stating that the child’s admission can be done without the Aadhaar Card if the child has a certificate bearing the child’s date of birth from any government institution. It is further stated that any local guardian of the child can also get him/her admitted in school.

The Court noted that once it comes to the notice of the court that a child or an individual is deprived of a fundamental right, the courts have to ensure that the fundamental right is enforced and there is no impediment for any individual to enjoy the same. Right to Education is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen under Article 21-A of the Constitution. A child must not suffer the consequences on account of their parents having been in judicial custody for a crime which is yet to be adjudicated upon by the court. Thus, the child must get admitted in a school at the earliest so that the shadow of nothing unpleasant happening falls upon the child’s life to darken her future.

The Court further noted that in the present unpleasant situation of the case, the court has to become the voice of the voiceless child. The parents are in judicial custody and the prime concern of the parents is the education of the child. Thus, court feels the need to exercise its discretionary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and take suo-motu cognizance to facilitate the child’s admission in a school so that the child does not lose out on the current academic year 2022-23.

The Court directed the SHO concerned to get the child admitted to the school adjacent to the senior branch of the school in which the older sibling of the child is already enrolled and pursuing her education and asked the principal of the school to extend full cooperation for the admission of the child. The compliance report is directed to be filed within 10 days.

[Kamini Arya v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 2367, decided on 03-08-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Anu Narula, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Mr. Manoj Pant, APP for the State with Inspector Devendra Singh, P.S. Mohan Garden, Advocates, for the State.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

High Court Round UpLegal RoundUp

TOP STORY OF THE MONTH 


Marital Rape

Split Verdict on Criminalisation of Marital Rape| Can a Husband be labelled as a rapist? Does MRE provide impunity to offender? One says ‘Yes’, other says ‘No’

In a split verdict the Division Bench of Rajiv Shakdher and C. Hari Shankar, JJ., laid down their opinion on “Should a husband be held criminally liable for raping his wife who is not under 18 years of age?”

Read more, here…


Allahabad High Court


Employees State Insurance Act

Whether ‘Printing Press’ is a manufacturing process under Employees State Insurance Act?

Stating that the word ‘manufacturing process’ has been expansively defined under the Factories Act even to include Printing Press activity as a manufacturing process whereas in common parlance Printing Press cannot be termed as a ‘manufacturing process’, Pankaj Bhatia, J., held that, the term ‘manufacturing process’ was added to the ESI Act after the 1989 Amendment, hence, there would be no application of the said term prior to the said amendment.

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Abetment of Suicide

Biggest jolt for any married woman that her husband is being shared by some other lady or he is going to marry some other lady: Court dismisses discharge application of husband accused of abetting suicide of wife

Rahul Chaturvedi, J., noted that a lady soon after coming to know that her husband got married in clandestine way with some other lady, committed suicide.

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Loudspeaker

Use of loudspeaker in mosque is not a fundamental right

The Division Bench of Vivek Kumar Birla and Vikas Budhwar, JJ., held that the law has been settled, that use of loudspeaker from mosque is not a fundamental right.

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Maintenance

If wife sells out some property, in order to maintain her children, would that mean the wife will not have opportunity to claim maintenance under S. 125 CrPC?

Brij Raj Singh, J., while discussing the matter with regard to providing maintenance to a wife, noted that the Court below had made observations on being influenced by factual aspects which were not proved.

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Duty of father to maintain child, daughter entitled to seek maintenance from father

Brij Raj Singh, J., expressed that, a father is legally bound to maintain his child according to the status and lifestyle.

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Taj Mahal

Judges by experience and training not equipped to pronounce any verdict on non-justiciable issues: Sealed 22 rooms at Taj Mahal to stay locked

In a matter wherein the petitioner sought commissioning of a study so that the history of Taj Mahal could be explored, and controversy be put to rest, the Division Bench of Devendra Upadhyaya and Subhash Vidyarthi, JJ., held that the as to which subject should be studied or researched or which topic of a particular area or discipline are not issues where this Court can be said to be possessed of any judicially manageable standards to adjudicate upon.

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Divorce

If divorce is declared in one go and Fatwa is issued, Is muslim wife entitled to maintenance under S. 125 CrPC?

Brij Raj Singh, J., while addressing a maintenance case, observed that if a wife proves that she is unable to maintain herself, she will be entitled to maintenance.

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Sexual Assault

Junior of a practicing advocate alleges to have been subjected to sexual assault: Will All HC grant him bail?

In an alleged sexual assault case, Samit Gopal, J., noted that allegations of sexual assault were against a practicing lawyer by a junior in his office.

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Andhra Pradesh High Court


[Doctrine of Separability] AP HC discussed the enforceability of arbitration clause embedded in an unstamped charter party/agreement

“The doctrine of separability treats an agreement to arbitrate contained within a contract as an independent agreement that is deemed to be separable from the main contract. The doctrine preserves the validity and enforceability of the arbitration clause in a contract, even when the primary contract is found to be invalid and unenforceable, providing autonomy to the arbitration clause. The UNCITRAL Model law on International Commercial Arbitration, 1985, Article 16[1], integrates the doctrine of separability as an arbitration clause which forms part of a contract shall be treated as an agreement independent of the other terms of the contract.”

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Bombay High Court


News Items

Article on a rift between police officers published in newspaper: Will the reporter be punished under S. 505 IPC?

In a matter wherein, a journalist sought to quash proceedings against him for publishing news items regarding the rift between the officers of the police departments, the Division Bench of Prasanna B. Varale and S.M. Modak, JJ., expressed that:

“If we will say that any news article pertaining to two Sections of any Department will fall within the purview of Section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code, in that case, we are interpreting the provisions of Section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code too far and it is not expected by legislatures.”

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Dying Declaration

Dying declaration is by itself sufficient to convict an accused of accusation levelled against him provided dying declaration is found to be voluntary, truthful and hence, could inspire confidence of Court

While addressing a matter with regard to a husband setting ablaze his wifethe Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and Milind N. Jadhav, JJ., made an observation with respect to dying declaration that,

It is by itself sufficient to convict an accused for the accusation levelled against him provided the dying declaration is found to be voluntary, truthful and hence, could inspire the confidence of the court.

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Medical Test

Bom HC provides succor to a girl who was declared “male” in medical test, Directs State to consider her for post in Police department

The Division Bench of Revati Mohite Dere and Madhav J. Jamdar, JJ., directs the State Government of Maharashtra, to consider a woman who was declared as “male” in her medical test for the non-constabulary post in the police department.

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Section 377 Penal Code, 1860

Would kissing on lips and touching private parts of a minor be an offence under S. 377 Penal Code, 1860?

Anuja Prabhudessai, J., observed that touching private parts and kissing on the lips of a minor would not constitute to be an offence under Section 377 of Penal Code, 1860.

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Cruelty

Can filing of divorce petition by husband be an act of ‘Cruelty’?

Vibha Kankanwadi, J., held that, if a husband files a divorce petition that cannot be taken as an act of cruelty.

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Maintenance to in-laws

Can Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens’ Tribunal direct the daughter-in-law to pay maintenance to her in-laws?

The Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and Revati Mohite Dere, JJ., observed that the daughter-in-law cannot be directed by the  Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens’ Tribunal to pay maintenance to her in-laws.

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Bonafide Passenger

If a passenger carries a season ticket on local train but fails to provide an identity card, would he be not covered under ‘Bonafide Passenger’?

While partly allowing the appeal wherein a passenger sustained injuries in an untoward incident, Sandeep K. Shinde, J., expressed that, Railway Claim Tribunal, shall proceed to grant compensation to the appellants in terms of Rule 3 of the Rules, 1990, after verifying the medical evidence produced by the appellant in support of his claim.

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Calcutta High Court


Spot Memos

None of the proceedings initiated by the department shown to have been taken to the logical end; spot memos cannot be enforced

The Court was unclear about the fact that why different wings of the very same department have been issuing notices and summons to the appellants without taking any of the earlier proceedings to the logical end.

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Ocular Testimony

In case of discrepancy between ocular and medical evidence, ocular testimony shall prevail; Conviction set aside entitling benefit of doubt

Bibek Chaudhury, J. allowed an appeal which was filed assailing the judgment and order of conviction passed by the Trial Court for committing offence under Section 324 of the Penal Code, 1860 and consequence sentence of imprisonment for a term of one year with fine.

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Vital Facts

Vital facts overlooked by the Trial Court; Conviction set aside under Essential Commodities Act, 1955

Moushumi Bhattacharya, J. allowed an appeal which was filed assailing the impugned judgment passed under section 7 (1) (a) (ii), of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and paragraph 12 of the West Bengal Kerosene Control Order, 1968. The appellant was convicted under the aforesaid provisions with fine and simple imprisonment.

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Bail

Bail granted to NDPS accused with 100% speech and hearing impairment

The Division Bench of Kesang Doma Bhutia and Moushumi Bhattacharya, JJ. allowed a bail application of the petitioner suffering from 100% speech and hearing impairment under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 under Section 21(C) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

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Income Tax

Not providing an opportunity to file a reply to the show-cause notice violation of principle of natural justice; Case remanded back to the Assessing Officer for fresh assessment

Md. Nizamuddin, J. allowed a petition which was filed challenging the impugned assessment order under Section 147 read with Section 144B of the Income Tax Act, 1961 relating to assessment year 2013-2014 on the ground of violation of principle of natural justice by not providing the petitioner with an opportunity to file a reply to the show-cause-notice.

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Conviction

Abscondence of an accused by itself does not establish his guilt; Conviction and sentence for punishment of murder set aside

The Division Bench of Joymalya Bagchi and Ananya Bandyopadhyay, JJ. allowed an appeal which was directed against the judgment and order convicting the appellant for commission of offence punishable under Sections 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay fine.

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Chhattisgarh High Court


Irretrievable breakdown of Marriage

Chh HC dissolves marriage on appeal filed by husband against trial court order

Sanjay S. Agrawal, J., reversed the judgment of the trial court and granted divorce in an application filed by the husband, while granting Rs 15 lakhs permanent alimony to the wife.

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Excise Act

Confiscation order can only be challenged when it reaches its finality and the statute does not give any space to challenge any other order except the final one

Goutam Bhaduri, J., allowed the petition and directed the vehicle to be released on certain conditions.

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Negative Equality

Art. 14 of the Constitution does not envisage negative equality; Grant of study leave to employees under probation, cannot be a ground for claiming negative parity in the teeth of R. 42 (5) of Chhattisgarh Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 2010

A Division Bench of Arup Kumar Goswami CJ. and Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant J. dismissed the appeal and remarked that quality cannot be claimed in illegality.

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Appellate Tribunal

Whether the power exercised by the single-member Appellate Tribunal of STAT formed under MV Act would be valid under RERA and within jurisdiction?

The Division Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and Sanjay S Agarwal, JJ. directed that the State shall ensure that the Appellate Tribunal shall be made functional so that the grievance of the public at large who are affected are redressed.

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Cruelty

Would pledge of ornaments kept for marriage of a daughter and use for self without knowledge of husband would amount to cruelty?

In a matter pertaining to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and N.K. Chandravanshi, JJ., expressed that, if a spouse by her own conduct, without caring about the future of the daughter, parts with ornaments which were meant for the marriage, it will be within the ambit of mental cruelty done by the wife.

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Delhi High Court


Shared Household

Visits of sundry family members to matrimonial home, without permanency or intention to treat premises as a shared household: Would it render family members as members of shared household?

Prateek Jalan, J., addressed the issue of whether visits of sundry family members to the matrimonial home, without permanency or the intention to treat the premises as a shared household, would render them members of the “shared household.

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Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

Husband and wife, two pillars of family, if one gets weak or breaks, whole house crashes down

In a matter of dissolution of marriage, the Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ and Jasmeet Singh, J., expressed that husband and wife together can deal with any situation, if one gets weak or breaks, the whole crashes down.

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Judicial Functions

How an Additional Rent Controller did not exhibit a great degree of temperance in discharge of judicial functions

Hari Shankar, J., expressed that, Unwarranted and needless hypersensitivity is not expected of Judicial Officers, who are expected, at all times to maintain composure and poise, befitting the office they hold.

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Negotiable Instruments Act

When no offence is attributable to Company, it is not possible to attach liability on Managing Director by deeming provisions of S. 141 of the NI Act

Asha Menon, J., held that if no offence is attributed to the company, its Directors and other persons responsible for the conduct of its business cannot be saddled with any liability.

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Trademark Infringement

Infringement of Starbucks trademark FRAPPUCCINO | Del HC awards Rs 2 lakh in damages and 9 lakh costs

In a matter wherein Starbucks trademark ‘frappuccino’ was being infringed, Jyoti Singh, J., while observing that, FRAPPUCCINO trademarks have acquired formidable reputation and goodwill in India, awarded Starbuck Rupees 2 lakhs damages and 9 lakh costs.

Read more, here…

Titles of films are capable of being recognised under trademark law? Read Del HC’s decision in light of film ‘SHOLAY’

Prathiba M. Singh, J., expressed that, the word ‘SHOLAY’, is the title of an iconic film, and consequently, as a mark having been associated with the film, cannot be held to be devoid of protection

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[Trademark Battle] Karim’s v. Kareem’s | Kareem’s related to or associated with Delhi’s iconic Karim’s restaurant?

Prathiba M. Singh, J., has restrained Kareem Dhanani from opening any further restaurants under the marks “KARIM/KARIM’S/KAREEM/KAREEM’S” or any other marks which are identical or deceptively similar to the Plaintiff’s marks “KARIM/KARIM’S/KAREEM” till the next date of hearing.

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Section 304B Penal Code, 1860

Injuries found on person of deceased who was more than 6 months pregnant, but MM ignored postmortem report: Will onus be on husband to offer an explanation under S. 104 Evidence Act?

Asha Menon, J., while setting aside the conclusion of the Metropolitan Magistrate and upholding the intervention by Sessions Court expressed that, injuries were found on the person of the deceased who was more than 6 months pregnant during her residence with her husband, hence the onus will be on him under Section 104 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to offer an explanation.

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Marital Rape

Explainer | Would striking down ‘Marital Rape Exception’ create a New Offence?

In the Split verdict on Criminalisation of Marital Rape Exception (MRE), the Division Bench of Delhi High Court pronounced a 393-Pages Judgment, wherein the Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C. Hari Shankar while disagreeing with each other on various issues, very significantly pointed out the issue if  “NEW OFFENCE”.

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Extradition

When does petitioner’s concern of lack of disclosure of evidence require court’s intervention?

Chandra Dhari Singh, J., while addressing a matter, expressed that,

Under Principles of Natural Justice, it is settled law that (a) where at the stage where an authority is merely required to form an opinion as to whether an enquiry should be held into allegations or contraventions, it is not required to give to the notice details of nature of evidence and documents, and (b) where a hearing for determination of guilt is to be held de novo, without any reference to any preliminary enquiry report, then the report need not be disclosed to the party affected.

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Post-Decisional Hearing

MeitY directed to provide original copy of blocking order and post-decisional hearing to owner and creator of website ‘Dowry Calculator’

The Division Bench of Manmohan and Dinesh Kumar Sharma, JJ., in a matter with regard to blocking of a website ‘Dowry Calculator’, directed the MeitY committee to give a copy of the order to the creator of the website.

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Ration Delivery Scheme

Delhi HC strikes down Delhi Government’s Doorstep Ration Delivery Scheme | Lieutenant Governor expressed his difference of opinion

The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ and Jasmeet Singh, J., held that, the Delhi Government’s Mukhya Matri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana cannot be implemented and rolled out by the GNCTD since the LG expressed his difference of opinion.

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Society

Can an occupant deprived of his demarcated car parking in a Society registered under Delhi Cooperative Societies Act occupied by unauthorized occupants approach the Court?

The Division Bench of Mukta Gupta and Neena Bansal Krishna, JJ., observed that Court cannot assume the duties of the Administrator or the Executive Committee to address the day-to-day grievances.

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Condonation of Delay

Whether merely writing letters or making representations would give a sufficient cause or ground to a party to seek condonation of delay?

Stating that mere writing of a letter of representation cannot furnish an adequate explanation for the delay, Jyoti Singh, J., expressed that, it is a settled principle of law that in writ jurisdiction, the Court would not ordinarily assist those who are lethargic and indolent.

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Landlord-Tenant

Once tenant starts paying rent, can he/she turn around and challenge title of landlord?

In a matter with regard to the grant of leave to defend, Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that, the tenant cannot merely make allegations that the landlord has other premises without producing some material to substantiate the same.

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Custom Duty

Import without custom duty, lower Court issued summons order, but Delhi HC sets aside: Read 5 reasons why impugned order was bad in law

Chandra Dhari Singh, J., while setting aside the order of lower Court in a case concerning Customs Act, laid down five reasons why the impugned order was bad in law.

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Maintenance

Whether right to claim maintenance under Domestic Violence Act and S. 125 CrPC are mutually exclusive?

Asha Menon, J., observed that, the right to claim maintenance under the Domestic Violence Act and those under Section 125 CrPC are not mutually exclusive i.e. the aggrieved person can seek interim maintenance before the Magistrate while also seeking permanent maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

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Gauhati High Court


Can a husband escape from his liability to pay maintenance to his wife by signing an agreement to the contrary?

While addressing a matter with regard to maintenance of wife, Rumi Kumari Phukan, J., expressed that, the statutory right of a wife of maintenance cannot be bartered, done away with or negatived by the husband by setting up an agreement to the contrary.

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Gujarat High Court


Gratuity

If there is a delay in payment of gratuity, whether interest on delayed gratuity will be mandatory or discretionary?

Biren Vaishnav, J., reiterated that, interest on delayed payment of gratuity is mandatory and not discretionary

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Convict

Admission of co-accused cannot be sole base to convict any person; application dismissed

B.N. Karia, J. rejected an application under Section 397 read with Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, wherein the applicant-State has requested to quash and set aside the order and stay the implementation of the said order till hearing and final disposal of the present application.

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Motor Accident Claims Tribunal

Appeal dismissed on grounds of meagre amount; Order of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal upheld

Sandeep N. Bhatt, J. dismissed an appeal preferred by the Insurance Company being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal by which the Tribunal has awarded Rs.65,200/- with 7.5% interest p.a. from the date of the claim petition.

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Himachal Pradesh High Court


Section 125 CrPC

The findings in a proceeding under S. 125 CrPC cannot be binding on matrimonial Court while dealing with an application for divorce on the ground of res judicata

Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. remarked, “there has been no matrimonial relationship between the parties for the last nearly two decades, which in itself establishes that the parties are not in a position to live together any longer.”

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Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court


Freedom of Speech and Expression

Statement that Kashmir is under occupation of armed forces and people of Kashmir reduced to slaves, will be protected under Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression?

Stating that, the intention of a person can be gathered from the words spoken or written or other expressions, Sanjay Dhar, J., expressed that,

Expression of outrage at the negligence and inhuman attitude of the security forces, police and establishment would come within the ambit of freedom of expression of an individual which includes freedom to criticize the Government of the day which is permissible under law but the same may not be the position if an individual questions the fact of a State being a part of the Country by using the expression ‘occupation of military or the people being slaves etc.

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Bail

63-year-old woman aided her 65-year-old husband to commit rape on a minor girl: Can she be granted bail?

Sanjay Dhar, J., expressed that, in the cases involving offences of serious nature falling under IPC or POCSO Act, where the victim happens to be a minor child, the Court has to be alive to the need for protecting the victims and the witnesses and it is the duty of the Court to ensure that victim and witnesses, in such serious matters, are made to feel secure while deposing before the Court.

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Karnataka High Court


Lok Adalat

Kar HC issues general directions in matters relating to compromise before the Lok Adalat which are challenged by way of writ petitions

Suraj Govindaraj, J., allowed the petition and quashed the compromise decree in the original suit filed before Principal Senior Civil Judge at Hubballi in the Lok-Adalat proceedings.

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Arbitration

Whether Arbitration involving third parties leading to other proceedings would be arbitrable?

B.M. Shyam Prasad, J., held that there cannot be a complete adjudication of the petitioner’s rights unless the third parties are also heard.

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Maintenance

Granting or non-granting interim maintenance is not punishing any litigant; Kar HC observes Proviso to S. 125 of CrPC provides discretion to court to order interim maintenance during pendency of proceedings

M Nagaprasanna, J., dismissed the petition and refused to grant prayer as the case is at a pre matured stage and is not the right time to post the matter for examination.

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Juvenile Justice Act

In the absence of any declaration that the child is deserted by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians; no offence can be made out under S. 80 JJ Act

Hemant Chandangoudar, J., allowed the petition and quashed the impugned proceedings initiated against alleged offence under Section 80 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

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Work From Home

Work From Home under Maternity Benefit Act can be availed only if nature of work assigned to women is possible for them to work from home

Noting that the nature of work assigned to a woman cannot be carried from home, R Devdas, J., held that, as per Section 5(5) of the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 work from home after availing the maternity benefit could be given only in a case where the nature of work assigned to the women is such that it is possible for her to work from home.

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Industrial Disputes Act

Labour Court has no jurisdiction to first decide the workmen’s entitlement and then proceed to compute the benefit so adjudicated; Labour Court’s power like that of the Executing Court’s power

K.S. Mudagal, J., allowed the petition and set aside the impugned award awarding compensation as well as the silver medal allowance without considering the question of maintainability of the petition under Section 33C(2) of the I.D. Act.

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Indian Nursing Council

No objection from the Indian Nursing Council is not required for the purpose of University granting recognition or approval for the GNM Course

P Krishna Bhat, J. disposed of the application with a direction to KSNC and State to consider the applications of petitioners which were filed in the year 2019 and take a final decision on the same.

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Negotiable Instruments Act

A 138 NI complaint filed was barred by limitation but such issue was raised for the first time before the Appellate Court and not Trial Court

HP Sandesh J. dismissed the petition and upheld the judgment by the Appellate Court and further directed the complainant to file necessary application to condone the delay.

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POCSO

Teacher aged 55 years harassed a student on separate occasions, booked under POCSO, released on bail

H.P. Sandesh, J. allowed the petition and granted bail to the petitioner in connection with a crime registered in  Magadi Police Station, Ramanagara District, for the offence punishable under Sections 8 and 12 of the POCSO Act.

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GST Act

Whether on coming into force of GST Act a Municipal Corporation can levy advertisement tax/fee?

The Court observed that in the entire transaction of GST, the petitioners are only a collecting agency who collects the GST payable on the service rendered and deposits the same with the authorities, the incidence of tax, i.e., GST being on the services rendered or goods supplied, the obligation of payment being on the person availing the service and or receiving the goods.

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Kerala High Court


Suicide

Person tries to commit suicide after being subjected to severe mental stress, which is a punishable offence: Is there any provision which can save her from penal provision?

Expressing that, Criminal prosecution followed by conviction and imposing substantive sentences and fines on those convicted of suicidal behaviours are believed to constitute an affront to human dignity, K. Haripal, J., pointed out that a large section of the society considers that suicidal behaviour is typically a symptom of psychiatric illness or an act of psychological distress, suggesting that the person requires assistance in his personal and psychological life, not punishment with imprisonment or fine.

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Maternity Benefits

Do employers have a responsibility to ensure that delivering and raising a child, shall not be detrimental to female officer’s career?

Addressing a matter wherein maternity benefits were not being allowed to female officersRaja Vijayaraghavan V, JJ., expressed that the employer is to take all steps possible to ensure that they are sympathetic to the cause of the female officer so that she can achieve her potential in the workplace and the time spent by her to deliver and raise her child shall not be detrimental to her career or her prospects.

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Floods

Persons who violate directions of Corporation, as mandated by law, against deposit of garbage into canals, shall be taken to task under fullest warrant of law

Expressing that, as much as this Court does not desire to control the management of the drains or the flood mitigating systems of the city on regular basis, it is forced to do so because of the large-scale inundation witnessedDevan Ramachandran, J., held that it is necessary that citizens understand their duty to ensure that canals are fenced and maintained well and kept free of debris, which otherwise would challenge the lives of many other affected by the flooding.

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Educational Loan

Can low CIBIL Score of a co-borrower be a reason for denial of an education loan?

In a case wherein, due to low CIBIL Score education loan was denied, N. Nagaresh, J., directed for reconsideration of loan applications, disregarding the low Credit Score of the co-obligants.

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Right of Press

Right of Press to report truthfully and faithfully | Press shall NOT indulge in sensationalism

Stating that, though the Press has a duty to inform the public, the Division Bench of Devan Ramachandran and Sophy Thomas, JJ., observed that, it is the well-accepted thumb rule that the Press shall not indulge in sensationalism; or in speculating upon the guilt or otherwise of any accused or other individual; or to create an opinion about the comportment or character of a person involved in the Trial; and not to embellish, by impelling or sponsoring an opinion they seek.

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Promise to Marry

Whether promise to marry made to married women is legally enforceable?

In a bail matter,P.V. Kunhikrishnan, J., noted the position of law that, a promise to marry made to married women is not legally enforceable, the offence of rape is not attracted.

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Political Rallies

Can organisers of political rallies be responsible for provocative slogans raised by any of the participants during such rallies?

P.V. Kunhikrishnan, J., observed that, if a member of a rally raises provocative slogans, the persons who organize the rally is also responsible.

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Madras High Court


Legal Entity

Mother Nature is a living being having legal entity? Madras HC answers

Stating that the past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory, S. Srimathy, J., expressed that it is the right time to declare/confer juristic status to the “Mother Nature”.

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Right to Worship

Whether constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion enshrined in Art. 25(1) of the Constitution of India extends even to rites and ceremonies associated with a religion?

Expressing that, the right of worship guaranteed under the Constitution to be respected by all concerned and devotees cannot be denied their right to worship under any circumstances, S.M. Subramaniam, J., held that every devotee has got a right to enter into the temple and worship Lord Sri Varadaraja Perumal in the way he likes without affecting the rights of other devotees/worshippers and temple activities.

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Negotiable Instruments Act

Obligation of Thumb Impression and Signature, both, for a Pro-Note under Negotiable Instruments Act: Mandatory or Not?

Teekaa Raman, J., observed that there is no mandatory provision under the Negotiable Instruments Act that both the signature and thumb impression has to be obtained for a pro-note and the lower Appellate Judge has totally misguided and misused the provision of the Negotiable Instruments Act, regarding the burden of proof and not even followed basic rudimentary of Section 20 of the Negotiable instruments Act.

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Public Employments

Can appointments be claimed as a matter of absolute right?

S.M. Subramaniam, J., observed that, equal opportunities in public employment is the Constitutional mandate.

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Madhya Pradesh High Court


Retiral Dues

Illicit deduction of amount from the retiral dues; Directions issued to refund the amount

Sushrut Arvind Dharmadhikari, J. allowed a writ petition which was filed assailing the legality, validity and propriety of the order dated 1-8-2018 whereby the excess amount of Rs.81,239/- has been sought to be recovered from the gratuity payable to him.

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Section 311 CrPC

Permission to change statement before Court would be dangerous for legal system and it may be also misused of S. 311 of CrPC; application for restatement after 2 years dismissed

Anil Verma, J. dismissed a criminal revision filed against the impugned order whereby an application preferred by the applicant/prosecutrix under Section 311 of CrPC was been dismissed.

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Civil Suit

Application under S. 151 of CPC maintainable despite the fact that order allowing the application under Or. 7 R. 11 of CPC is appealable; Trial Court directed to restore civil suit

Dwarka Dhish Bansal, J. allowed a civil revision under Section 115 of CPC against the order rejecting the application filed under Section 151 of CPC holding that the same was not maintainable.

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Bail

Not entitled to keep the amount of compensation paid to the State government in the event of a false rape case; Court allows bail

Vivek Agarwal, J. deciding a second bail application filed by the applicant in connection with Crime under Sections 376, 376(2)(N), 506 of IPC and Sections 3,4,5J(ii), 5L POCSO Act and Sections 3(1)(w)(II), 3(1)(w)(II), 3(II)(V) of SC/ST Act directed the Trial Court to ask the prosecutrix to refund the compensation amount paid by the State.

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Police Protection

Major Couple entitled to police protection in event of any future threats from parents; Permission granted to approach police commissioner directly

Vivek Rusia, J. decided on a petition which was filed seeking police protection.

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Termination of Pregnancy

Victim of rape allowed to terminate 13-week pregnancy; Direction issued to District Hospital for immediate action

Vivek Rusia, J. allowed an appeal which was filed seeking permission/ direction for termination of pregnancy.

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Principles of Natural Justice

Order by Trial Court violative of principles of natural justice; IO to be given opportunity to be heard

Atul Sreedharan, J. allowed a petition which was filed aggrieved by the order where after deciding a criminal case, the Additional Sessions Judge passed an order asking the Superintendent of Police to take action against the petitioner, who was the Investigating Officer of the case.

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Meghalaya High Court


Piling up Garbage

With serious menace of garbage piling up in one of the major towns, State administration seeks only to play the fiddle; matter receives the urgent attention at the highest quarters

The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ. and W. Diengdoh, J. took up a petition on a matter pertaining to the piling-up of garbage in the town of Jowai. The petition was filed on 12-04-2022 complaining of household waste and general garbage not being collected in the Jowai urban township area from 04-02-2022. The Court had served the respondents served immediately and informed that the matter will appear a week hence for a preliminary hearing and appropriate directions on 20-04-2022.

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Orissa High Court


Exercise of power involving Application under Or. 1 R. 10 of CPC is completely different from Exercise of Power under Or. 21 Rules 97, 99 & 101 of CPC; Scope of latter is much wider

“…there exist two decrees passed by two different courts at the instance of third party and the other at the instance of the Plaintiff- Petitioner involved here in the Execution Proceeding.”

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Section 37 IT Act

The reasonableness of the expenditure had to be adjudged from the point of view of the businessman; Applied the test of commercial expediency

A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar CJ and R. K. Pattanaik J. dismissed the appeal filed by the assessee and upheld AO’s decision to disallow part of the payment towards commission.

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Food License

Any person selling article or food without a license would be punishable under S. 16 (I)(a)(ii) PFA Act as per S. 7(iii) PFA Act

Muralidhar CJ dismissed the revision petition and set aside the conviction decision of the Trial Court which was later affirmed by the Appellate Court.

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POCSO

Proceedings of the High Court cannot be held hostage to the whims of the investigating agency; granted bail to a CCL

V Narasingh, J. disposed of the bail application and restrained the Court to not grant any further adjournments and released the petitioner on bail.

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Industrial Disputes Act

It is not mandatory for Central Government to make a reference to a dispute which is of national importance to a National Tribunal in view of S. 7-B r/w S 10 (1-A) ID Act

A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar, CJ and R.K. Pattanaik J. dismissed the petition and upheld the judgment by CGIT, Bhubaneshwar declining the prayer of the Petitioner as regards the maintainability of the dispute before it.

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Contract

It is only when a purchase order is placed that a ‘contract’ would be entered into and only then arbitration clause would become part thereof

Muralidhar, CJ. dismissed the petition, declined the appointment of arbitrator and left it open to the petitioners to avail other remedies as may be available to them in accordance with law.

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Patna High Court


Negotiable Instruments Act

Can an order of interim compensation under S. 143-A NI Act, be enforced as ‘public demand’ under Bihar & Orissa Public Demands Recovery Act, 1914?

The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ and S. Kumar J., held that an order of payment of interim compensation under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 can be enforced under the Bihar & Orissa Public Demands Recovery Act, 1914 as ‘public demand’.

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Punjab and Haryana High Court


Protection of Life and Liberty

State’s respect for individual independent choices has to be held high

“Courts’ responsibility to uphold the principles of constitutional morality, there exists a parallel duty to not infringe upon the personal relationship between two free willed adults.”

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Abetment of Suicide

Abetment of suicide by wife and mother-in-law of deceased?

Vikas Bahl, J., granted bail to mother-in-law and wife alleged to have incited husband to commit suicide.

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Maintenance Tribunal

If a person is aged below 58 years, Can Maintenance Tribunal invoke jurisdiction under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act?

Arun Monga, J., held that the Maintenance Tribunal has no jurisdiction under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007 if a person is aged below 58 years old.

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Mental Cruelty

If a husband stops talking to the wife, would that cause mental cruelty?

In a matter with regard to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Ritu Bahri and Ashok Kumar Verma, JJ., observed that, even if the husband and wife were staying together and the husband stopped talking to the wife, it would cause mental cruelty and a spouse staying away by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices by initiating a number of judicial proceedings could make the life of other spouse miserable.

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Sedition

Can an act of dissent be labeled as sedition?

Expressing that, in a democratic set-up, there always would be voices of dissent and opinions against rules and protest against actions, Vinod S. Bhardwaj, J., observed that, some protests may have aggression but still an act of dissent would not be ordinarily labeled as sedition.

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Rajasthan High Court


Remedy

Writ Petition not maintainable due to having an alternative and efficacious remedy under S. 17 of the SARFAESI Act

Mahendar Kumar Goyal, J. dismissed the writ petition in view of availability of alternative remedy to the petitioners under the provisions of the SARFAESI Act. 

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Sikkim High Court


Penetrative Sexual Assault

Trial Courts should exhibit sensitivity to the plight of a child victim but they cannot go overboard and stonewall steps that are mandatory to be complied with when analysing and interpreting evidence given by  witnesses; Sentence of rape accused modified

The Division Bench of Meenakshi Madan Rai and Bhaskar Rai Pradhan, JJ. partly allowed an appeal which was filed by the appellant who aged about 40 years, was accused of having committed the offence of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, as defined under Section 5(m) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, on the victim, aged about 10 years. Trial Court on consideration of the evidence on record convicted the Appellant of the offence under Section 5(m) punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, 2012 by the impugned Judgment and Order on Sentence, both dated 11- 11-2020, and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term of 40 years and to pay fine of Rs 30,000/- (Rupees thirty thousand) only, with a default clause of imprisonment of 5 years.

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Telangana High Court


Police Negligence

Tel HC remarks several writ petitions are filed complaining about police negligence and delays during investigation; Such issues cannot be decided by invoking jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the Constitution

“…The appropriate and efficacious remedy available to the petitioner, if she is aggrieved by the action/inaction of the Investigating Officer is to file a private complaint against the said officer before the competent Court.”

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Contempt of Court

‘slap- say sorry-forget cannot be accepted’; An apology can neither be a defence nor a justification for an act which tantamount to Contempt of Court

A Division Bench of P Naveen Rao and M G Priyadarshini, JJ. dismissed the petition and held that contempt has taken place and no apology must be given.

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Uttaranchal High Court


POCSO

Minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies in the statement of a prosecutrix should not be a ground for throwing out an otherwise reliable prosecution case; appeal dismissed in POCSO matter

Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, J. dismissed a criminal appeal which was filed from jail assailing the judgment and order whereby the Trial Court had convicted and sentenced the appellant on the counts of Sections 376, 377, 506 Penal Code and Section 6 of POCSO Act.

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Juvenile Justice Act

Child in conflict with law cannot be allowed anticipatory bail as JJ Act does not make any provision for the same; Application dismissed

Ravindra Maithani, J. dismissed an application for anticipatory bail in regards to an ongoing trial under Sections 376, 323, 504, and 506 Penal Code, 1860. The previous anticipatory bail application of the applicant had been rejected by the Fast Track Court/Special Judge, POCSO/Additional Sessions Judge, Dehradun on the ground that since the applicant is a child in conflict with the law (“CIL”) and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (“the Act”) does not make any provision for anticipatory bail, the application cannot be allowed.

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Intra-Court Appeal

Adequate opportunity of filing counter-affidavit should be afforded to State; intra-Court appeal allowed

The Division Bench of S.K. Mishra, ACJ and A.K. Verma, J. allowed an intra-Court appeal wherein the State has assailed the order passed by the Single Judge whereby the Writ Petition of the writ petitioners-respondents herein was allowed supposedly on the concession made by the government pleader.

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Madras High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: S.M. Subramaniam, J., expressed that employees cannot seek any direction to fill up the post or claim a promotional post.

What was the relief sought in the present matter?

To direct the respondent to consider petitioner’s representation in connection with the acceptance of reviewed cadre strength by relying upon the vacancy position available during 2019-2020 as expeditiously as possible as to enable him to get his name included in the select list prepared in the said regard.

High Court expressed in the above regard that,

Promotion per se cannot be claimed as a matter of right by the employee.

No doubt, consideration for promotion is a fundamental right of the employee.

Further, the Court added that, administrative prerogative cannot be insisted upon by the employees though they are eligible for promotion/appointment, as the case may be.

The petitioner claimed that he was working as District Revenue Officer and was eligible for the conferment of post in Indian Administrative Service and if Cadre Strength Review Committee has been constituted duly in time, he would be getting an opportunity of securing appointment as I.A.S Officer. However, such a claim is hypothetical in nature.

Bench stated that it cannot make a decision on future events.

 “…once a decision is taken by the Authority Competent to prepare a panel for promotion, then all eligible persons are to be included for grant of promotion to the post of I.A.S.”

 High Court added that, as far as I.A.S. is concerned, the Central Government has to take a decision and therefore, the petitioner cannot have any right to claim that Cadre Strength Review Meeting is to be conducted for the purpose of granting promotion.

Additionally, the Court observed that mere preparation of panel by the Authority Competent would not be a ground to confer any right on the petitioner to seek a direction against the Government of India to convene a Review Committee Meeting and to prepare a panel.

In the present matter, petitioner had not established even a semblance of legal right to direct the respondent to consider his representation and mere direction to the Authority concerned to consider the representation would do no service to the cause of justice in the absence of establishing any legal right.

The above petition was dismissed on being devoid of merits.[B. Muthuramalingam v. Government of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 1306, decided on 15-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioner: Mr R. Anand

For Respondent: Ms L. Victoria Gowri, Assistant Solicitor General of India

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While deciding the instant appeal wherein the appellant challenged the externment order issued against him under Section 56(1)(a)(b) of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka*, JJ., quashed the impugned externment order observing that that an order of externment is not an ordinary measure and it must be resorted to sparingly and in extraordinary circumstances. The Bench held that,

If the order of externment for the maximum permissible period of two years is passed without recording subjective satisfaction regarding the necessity of extending the order of externment to the maximum permissible period, it will amount to imposing unreasonable restrictions on the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1) (d) of the Constitution”.

Facts: As per the facts; the respondents, while exercising their powers under Section 56(1)(a)(b) of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, issued an externment order dated 15-12.2020. By this order, the appellant, who is a resident of Mandeolgaon, Taluka Badnapur, District Jalna was directed to remove himself outside the limits of District Jalna within 5 days. By the said order, he was externed from District Jalna for a period of two years from the date on which he removes himself from District Jalna.

A statutory appeal was preferred by the appellant against the impugned order of externment, but the appeal was dismissed by the Appellate Authority. The appellant further challenged the impugned order by filing a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India before the Bombay High Court. A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court dismissed the writ petition and the impugned order of externment was passed on the ground that the confidential statements of witnesses ‘A’ and ‘B’ disclose that witnesses are not willing to come forward to give evidence against the appellant, the activities of the appellant are very dangerous and the offences registered against the appellant under the IPC, are of grave and serious nature which are causing disturbance to the public at large.

Contentions: The counsel for the appellant, Sandeep Sudhakar Deshmukh, contended that the act of passing the impugned order of externment was a mala fide act at the instance of a local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) with the object of settling family disputes. He argued that, the offences stated in the impugned order, would not attract Section 56(1) and the rest of the offences stated in the order are “stale offences and there is no live link between the said three offences and the object of passing the impugned order of externment”.  He also submitted that under Section 58 of the 1951 Act, the maximum period for which a person can be externed is of two years and that in the impugned order of externment, no reasons have been assigned for externing the appellant for a maximum period of two years.

Sachin Patil, appearing for the respondents, urged that while passing the order of externment, the competent authority is not required to pass a reasoned order. The competent authority has recorded subjective satisfaction of the existence of the grounds as required under Section 56 of the 1951 Act.

Observations: After carefully perusing the facts and contentions of the parties, the Court noted that Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution contains the fundamental right to the citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India, subject to reasonable restrictions as provided in Art. 19(5) of the Constitution. An order of externment passed under provisions of Section 56 of the 1951 Act makes serious inroads on the personal liberty of a citizen guaranteed under Article 19(1) (d) of the Constitution. Hence, the restriction imposed by an order of externment must stand the test of reasonableness.

The Court further noted that, externment order is an extraordinary measure, “Such an order prevents the person even from staying in his own house along with his family members during the period for which this order is in subsistence. In a given case, such order may deprive the person of his livelihood. It thus follows that recourse should be taken to Section 56 very sparingly keeping in mind that it is an extraordinary measure”. The Court also observed that for the invocation of Section 56 (1), there must be

  • Objective material on record on the basis of which the competent authority must record its subjective satisfaction that the movements or acts of any person are causing or calculated to cause alarm, danger to persons or property
  • The competent authority must record subjective satisfaction that there are reasonable grounds for believing that such person is engaged or is about to be engaged in the commission of an offence involving force or violence or offences punishable under Chapter XII, XVI or XVII of the IPC.
  • The competent authority must be satisfied that witnesses are not willing to come forward to give evidence against the person proposed to be externed by reason of apprehension on their part for their safety or their property.
  • The competent authority is not expected to write an elaborate decision. However, the competent authority must record the existence of one of the grounds in Section 56 (1) because if the order is challenged the competent authority must be in a position to show the application of mind.

Regarding the duty of a Court while testing an exterment order, the Bench noted that-

  • A Court while testing the order of externment cannot go into the question of sufficiency of material based on which the subjective satisfaction has been recorded. However, the Court can always consider whether there existed any material on the basis of which a subjective satisfaction could have been recorded.
  • The Court can interfere when either there is no material or the relevant material has not been considered. “In the case of any other administrative order, the judicial review is permissible on the grounds of mala fide, unreasonableness or arbitrariness”

With the aforementioned observations, the Court stated that the bare facts of the case reveal there was an apparent non-application of mind while deliberating upon the impugned externment order. The Court also noted that the Order itself was passed in a casual manner and reeks of arbitrariness. Therefore, the order cannot be held sustainable. The Court also held that the Bombay High Court, being a Constitutional Court, was duty bound to test the externment order on established criteria. However the HC failed to notice the extraordinary nature of an externment order.

[Deepak v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 99, decided on 28-01-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Abhay S. Oka


Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

In Nadha Raheem v. C.B.S.E2015 SCC OnLine Ker 21660, Kerala High Court’s Single Judge Bench in the year 2015 dealt with petitions by two female students belonging to the Muslim community contending that the dress code prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (C.B.S.E) of wearing half sleeve kurta/salvar would prejudice them, as their religious custom mandates them to wear a headscarf and also full sleeve dresses.

In the said case, the Standing counsel for C.B.S.E submitted that the dress code was specified by the C.B.S.E not intending to harass any student, on the contrary, to ensure that no untoward incident shall occur which would lead to cancellation of the examination.

The Standing Counsel had placed the Supreme Court decision by highlighting the extracts which revealed the indigenous methods by which copying was resorted to by means of electronic gadgets, wired to the body itself, and camouflaged by full sleeve dress and so on and so forth.

The Single Judge Bench of the Court noted that only two students came up before the Bench.

In Court’s opinion, the dress code could not be said to be wrong or improper.

However, Justice K. Vinod Chandran observed that,

 “…it cannot be ignored that in our country with its varied and diverse religions and customs, it cannot be insisted that a particular dress code be followed failing which a student would be prohibited from sitting for the examinations.”

Hence, the Court opined that no blanket orders were required in the petitions apprehending that they would be prohibited in writing the examination for the reason of their wearing a dress conducive to their religious customs and beliefs.

In the stated facts and circumstances of the case, High Court had directed that the petitioners who intended to wear a dress according to their religious custom, but contrary to the dress code, shall present themselves before the Invigilator half an hour before the examination and on any suspicion expressed by the Invigilator, shall also subject themselves to any acceptable mode of personal examination as decided by the Invigilator, but however, carried on only by an authorised person of the same sex.

If the Invigilator requires the headscarf or the full sleeve garments to be removed and examined, then the petitioners shall also subject themselves to that, by the authorised person, High Court stated.

Kerala High Court had also asked the C.B.S.E to issue general instructions to its invigilators to ensure that religious sentiments be not hurt and at the same time discipline was not compromised.

In the year 2016, the Kerala High Court while deciding the case of Amnah Bint Basheer v. CBSE, 2016 SCC OnLine Ker 41117, addressed a matter wherein prescription of dress code for All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test-2016 was questioned by the parties who professed Islam.

The ground on which the parties had challenged the dress code was the violation of the fundamental right as guaranteed under Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India.

The parties urged the Court to examine religious freedom in the light of the constitutional scheme.

Kerala High Court observed that, 

The State cannot interfere with the practice of religious affairs which would obliterate his religious identity. The environment in which one has to live is determined by the patterns of the idea formed by his conscience subject to the restrictions as referred under Article 25(1).

Adding to the above observation, in this decision, the Bench also stated that it was open for the State to regulate or make laws consistent with the essential practice of religion. However, while making a regulation or a law, the true import of the essential practice shall not be supplanted.

Petitioners case was that Shariah mandates women to wear the headscarf and full sleeve dress and therefore, any prescription contrary would be repugnant to the protection of the religious freedom.

“..the analysis of the Quranic injunctions and the Hadiths would show that it is a farz to cover the head and wear the long sleeved dress except face part and exposing the body otherwise is forbidden (haram). When farz is violated by any action opposite to farz that action becomes forbidden (haram).”

 “The right of women to have the choice of dress based on religious injunctions is a fundamental right protected under Article 25(1), when such prescription of dress is an essential part of the religion.” 

Giving significance to the Board’s attempt of ensuring transparency and credibility of examinations, Court stated that to harmoniously accommodate the competing interest without there being any conflict or repugnancy. The interest of the Board can be safeguarded by allowing the invigilator to frisk such candidates including by removing scarf. However, safeguard has to be ensured that this must be done honouring the religious sentiments of the candidates.

In 2018, Kerala High Court in Fathima Thasneem v. State of Kerala2018 SCC OnLine Ker 5267, while addressing the petition filed by Muslim girl students with the plea to be allowed to wear the headscarf as well as full sleeve shirt which was inconsistent with the prescribed dress code by the school they were studying in, observed that as one has the liberty to follow its own notions and convictions in regard to the dress code, in the same manner, a private entity also has the Fundamental Right to manage and administer its institution.

Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque while referring to the decision of Amnah Bint Basheer v. CBSE, 2016 SCC OnLine Ker 41117, stated that it is the Fundamental Right of the petitioners to choose the dress of their own choice.

Further, the Court held that it had to balance rights to uphold the interest of the dominant rather than the subservient interest and in the facts, in hand, the management of the institution was the dominant interest.

“Where there is priority of interest, individual interest must yield to the larger interest. That is the essence of liberty.”

Hence the Kerala High Court held that the Muslim girl students could seek the imposition of their individual rights as against the larger right of the institution. Therefore, it was for the institution to decide whether the petitioners could be permitted to attend the classes with the headscarf and full sleeve shirt.


Presently the Karnataka High Court has been dealing with a somewhat similar situation, wherein the challenge was with regard to the insistence of certain educational institutions that no girl students shall wear the hijab (headscarf) whilst in the classrooms.

On 10-2-2022, the High Court on being pained by the agitations and closure of educational institutions expressed that

“…ours is a country of plural cultures, religions & languages. Being a secular State, it does not identify itself with any religion as its own. Every citizen has the right to profess & practise any faith of choice, is true.”

The Bench of Ritu Raj Awasthi, CJ and Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi, JJ., temporarily restrained all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls (Bhagwa), scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like within the classroom, until further orders.

The proceedings in the said matter are still ongoing and the Court is yet to pronounce its decision on the matter.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Chandra Dhari Singh, J., granted bail to an accused on being satisfied with “reasonable grounds” as per Section 37 (b)(ii) of the NDPS Act, 1985.

An application under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for seeking bail in FIR under Sections 22 of the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Factual Matrix

ASI Pawan Kumar received information that a person from Rohini Delhi was involved in sale and supply of Ecstasy (a party drug) in Delhi-NCR and would come near an apartment to deliver the same to someone else. On receiving the said information, the raid was conducted.

On conducting a formal search in light of provisions of NDPS Act, 100 Pills of Ecstasy were recovered and the same was seized. Hence, the FIR under Sections 22/29 of the NDPS Act was registered and further investigation of the case was carried out.

Accused disclosed that he had received the above-mentioned contraband from the applicant and later the applicant was apprehended and on recovering 20 grams of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) from his possession, he was arrested.

In view of the above, charges were framed for the commission of offences under Sections 22 and 29 of the NDPS Act.

Analysis, Law and Decision

In view of the gravity of the consequences of drug trafficking, the offences under the NDPS Act have been made cognizable and non-bailable, High Court expressed while referring to Section 37 of the NDPS Act.

Section 37 NDPS Act does not allow granting bail for offences punishable under Section 19 or Section 24 or Section 27A and for offences involving commercial quantity unless the two-fold conditions prescribed under the Section have been met.

Before granting bail, the Court must be satisfied with the scheme of Section 439 CrPC.

The Court under Section 37(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act is not required to be merely satisfied about the dual conditions i.e., prima facie opinion of the innocence of the accused and that the accused will not commit a similar offence while on bail, but the court must have “reasonable grounds‟ for such satisfaction.

Elaborating further on the term “reasonable grounds”, Court expressed that, the said term is not capable of any rigid definition nor of being put into any straight-jacket formula, but its meaning and scope will be determined based on the surrounding facts and circumstances of each case. Thus, what may be reasonable in one set of facts may not be reasonable in another set of facts.

High Court noted that the main accused was charged with the possession of a larger quantity of contraband and on the basis of whose statement the applicant was arraigned and raised has already been released on bail. Hence the applicant’s application merited indulgence of this Court on the ground of parity.

“Reasonable Grounds” in the present matter were found by the Court.

The applicant had been incarcerated for more than 4 years as an undertrial, whereas on date, two of the witnesses have been examined and the trial remains pending.

On observing the above, Court expressed that,

Speedy Justice is a Fundamental Right enshrined under the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and the same needs to be given effect by this Court in letter and in spirit, else it will remain as a dead letter of law. 

Supreme Court’s decision in Abdul Rehman Antulay v. R.S. Nayak, (1992) 1 SCC 225 was cited wherein detailed guidelines were laid down with respect to speedy trial. The said guidelines were also upheld by a 7- Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in P. Ramachandra Rao v. State of Karnataka, (2002) 4 SCC 578.

Conclusion

Applicant was in jail for more than 4 years and out of 14 witnesses only 2 were examined to date and no possibility of trial to be concluded in the near future

Hence, the applicant cannot be incarcerated for an indefinite period and the Court must step in to ensure speedy justice to the applicant.

In view of the above discussion, the applicant was granted bail and the Court laid down emphasis on parity and clean antecedents of the applicant.

The applicant was directed to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000, with two sureties of like amount and bail conditions, were laid down.

While allowing the application, Court directed Trial Court to conclude the trial expeditiously. [Mahesh v. State (GNCTD), 2022 SCC OnLine Del 394, decided on 8-2-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr. Akshay Bhandari and

Mr. Digvijay Singh, Advocates

For the Respondent:

Kusum Dhalla, APP for the State

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Dinesh Mehta J. allowed the petition and decided that the school will be converted to English medium subject to the decision taken by SDMC by majority of its members.

Background

The facts of the case are such that a school named Shri Hari Singh Sr. Sec. School, Pilwa has been functioning in village Pilwa since 1980. The school has been catering to the educational needs of about 600 children from all sects including girls residing in such village and nearby villages. The medium of instruction in the school is ‘Hindi’ since its inception. The petitioner 1 is the School Development Management Committee i.e. ‘SDMC’ represented by one of its members while petitioners 2 and 3 are parent-members of the SDMC. The SDMC is a statutory body constituted under section 21 of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 i.e. RTE Act’. The petitioners in the instant case feel aggrieved of the decision dated 13-09-2021 taken by the State Government and consequential decision/order dated 20-09-2021 of the respondent No.2 by which ‘the school’ has been converted to an English Medium School – Mahatma Gandhi Government School (English Medium).

Observations

(i) Whether Article 21A of the Constitution of India which guarantees a right to education, also guarantees right to receive education in mother tongue or home language?

The Court observed that from perusal of Article 21A of the Constitution of India reveals that it enjoins upon the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 to 14 years, but then, such right is not an absolute right, as its expanse has been hedged by the expression “in such manner as the State may, by law determine”. Since, Article 21A of the Constitution is tethered with the words “in such manner, as the State, may, by law determine”, according to this Court the State may by law provide the medium and manner to provide such free education, which in a given case can be Hindi, English or even regional dialect – the mother tongue of the child. No child or parent can claim it as a matter of right, which he/his ward should be instructed in a particular language or the mother tongue only, on the basis of what has been guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution.

(ii) Whether right to get education in mother tongue or Hindi is a fundamental right?

 The Court observed that fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) is only subject to reasonable restriction by law to be enacted, by the State, in the opinion of this Court, the instant decision taken or the State’s policy decision, cannot whittle down the fundamental right of a child to be taught in a particular medium, which is assured rather protected by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.

(iii) Whether the State’s policy decision of converting the school in question to Mahatma Gandhi English Medium School is in conflict with the provisions of section 20, 21, 22 and 29(2)(f) of the Act of 2009?

The State of Rajasthan promulgated Rajasthan Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011 wherein section 21 and 22 of the Act of 2009 and Rule 4 & 5 of the Rules of 2011, lays down that School Management Committee is required to prepare a school development plan which shall contain details of class-wise enrollments each year, requirement of number of additional teachers, requirement of additional infrastructure etc. Thus, by reading the provisions of the Act of 2009 and Rules of 2011, the Court is unable to conclude that prescription of medium of instruction is a decision to be taken by the School Management Committee, as a part of school development plan. Preparing a school development plan cannot be misconstrued to mean the prescription of syllabus and medium of instructions. It has to be done by the experts in the field of education/child education.

(iv) Whether the consent of School Development Management Committee (SDMC) is necessary before converting a Hindi medium school to an English medium school?

The Court observed that the functions to be discharged by the School Development Management Committee under clause (a) and (b) of section 21 (2) of the Act of 2009 do not include the decision to be taken with respect to language or medium in which the students of the school shall be taught. The medium of instruction is to be determined by the Appropriate Authority or Rajasthan School Education Council.

The Court observed that Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India is the fountain head, being repository of the right to freedom of speech and expression from where flows such right. Article 19(1)(a) has wide ambit and it includes within its fold, right to have education in a particular medium. The right of having elementary education in mother tongue is also a statutory right conferred by section 29 (2)(f) of the Act of 2009, according to which medium of instruction, as far as practicable, is required to be in child’s mother tongue.

The power to frame laws in the subject of education falls in the Entry No.25 of concurrent list of the VII Schedule. And since the Act of 2009 occupies the field which unequivocally prescribes that medium of instructions in elementary education as far as practicable, be in mother tongue/home language of the child, any law made or framed by the State but for the assent of the President would be repugnant by virtue of Article 254 of the Constitution.

The Court opined, English, as a medium of instruction cannot be thrusted upon a child even by a legislation enacted by the State Government, much less by a policy decision.

Be that as it may. Since the petitioner No.1 – SDMC of which petitioner No.2 & 3 are members, has itself decided to have a school of English medium, impugned decision of the State at the instance of the present petitioners cannot be quashed, more particularly, because the decision of the State or its policy as such are not under challenge.

The Court observed that the rights of the petitioners and the pupil of the school to have instructions in Hindi that are protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and such rights can be diluted only by way of a legislation enacted in the contingencies mentioned in cause (2) of Article 19. In absence of any valid legislation brought by the State of Rajasthan, this Court is of the view that such right cannot be abrogated or taken away. The impugned decision dated 20.09.2021 seeking to convert the school in question to a Hindi medium school with immediate effect (session 2021-22) is fortiori, violative of Article 19(1)(a) and 14 of the Constitution of India.

Indisputably, the School Development Management Committee is a statutory body, constituted under the provisions of section 21 of the Act of 2009 and Rule 3 of the Rules of 2011. Section 21(2) and 22 of the Act of 2009 enjoins upon the committee to monitor the working of the school and prepare/recommend school development plan. In the opinion of this Court, the State’s administrative decision and action of forcing English as a mode or medium of instruction is violative of section 21 and 22 of the Act of 2009, particularly, in the face of resolutions adopted by the SDMC.

The Court keeping in mind the facts, policy decision and laws/rules directed that “in case, for the ensuing session i.e., 2022-23, the State wishes or proposes to convert the school in question to Mahatma Gandhi English Medium School, it shall convene a meeting of the School Development Management Committee constituted under Rule 3 of the Rules of 2011 in presence of the Sub Divisional Magistrate/Tehsildar and a nominee of District Education Officer concerned. Notice of the meeting with the proposed agenda will be circulated well in advance. If the School Development Management Committee by majority of the members present, resolves that the school in question be converted to an English medium school, then only, the State’s decision to convert the school in question to a Mahatma Gandhi English Medium School shall be given effect to. Else, the school will not be converted to an English medium school.”[School Management Development Committee v. State of Rajasthan, 2022 SCC OnLine Raj 38, decided on 04-01-2022]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearances:

For petitioner: Mr. Moti Singh

For respondent: Mr. Pankaj Sharma, Mr. Rishi Soni and Mr. Deepak Chandak

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Expressing that right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India includes the right to relax, G.R. Swaminathan, J., held that the said right can be exercised in a variety of forms.

Suspicion that immoral activities are taking place in massage centres cannot be reason enough to intrude into an individual’s right to relax for it intrinsically is part and parcel of his fundamental right to privacy.

 Few Words from the Madras High Court:

After a tiring day trekking in the forest, Lord Rama chose a resting place. He dropped his bow and arrows on the ground. When he woke up the next morning, he found that one of his arrows had fatally pierced a frog. The frog was about to breathe its last. The anguished Rama asked the frog as to why it did not raise an alarm. The innocent frog replied, “when others hurt me, I call your name “Rama Rama”-but when you are the source of trouble-who else can I call?.

When individual liberty is threatened by legislative or executive action, one turns to judiciary for relief and remedy, in the Supreme Court decision of State of Madras v. V.G. Row, AIR 1952 SC 196, Justice M. Patanjali Sastri, CJ remarked that the Supreme Court had been assigned the role of a sentinel on the qui vive as regards the fundamental rights.

Bench stated that the above-stated applies with equal force to every court and not just the constitutional courts.

In the present matter, the petitioner was running a Spa. Originally, there was no law regulating the said business and no license was required from any governmental authority, since vide Gazette Notification No. 252 obtaining of license had been made mandatory, the petitioner applied for such license.

Since no action was taken on the petitioner’s request, he filed the present petition for directing the police authority to issue “no objection certificate”.

The Bench noted that a number of orders in the past were passed wherein the authorities concerned were directed to issue “no objection certificate” if the applicant satisfied all the requirements. Hence, this Court disposed of the petition on 21-12-2021.

Though the Government counsel mentioned that another Judge of this Court issued the following directions in C.P. Girija v. Superintendent of Police, WP No. 37089 of 2015:

“1)The respondents are directed to issue appropriate orders to all the Spa and Massage centers, Therapy centers etc., across the State of Tamil Nadu to install CCTV cameras which must be functional in all circumstances.

2)Appropriate directions are to be issued to ensure that these Spa, Massage centers, Therapy centers etc., are conducting their business activities in a transparent manner and avoid secluded or closed rooms paving way for illegal activities.

3)In the event of any reasonable suspicion, information or complaint, the Police authorities are directed to initiate all appropriate actions in the manner known to law.”

Bench stated that the decision in C.P. Girija v. Superintendent of Police, WP No. 37089 of 2015 appeared to run counter to the law laid down by the 9-Judge Bench Judgment of the Supreme Court in K.S. Puttaswamy (Privacy-9J.) v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1.

In Court’s opinion,

The installation of CCTV equipment inside premises such as a spa would unquestionably infract upon a person’s bodily autonomy. These are inviolable spaces where the prying eye of the state simply cannot be allowed to enter.

Further elaborating, the Court stated that, the notification issued by the Government contemplated installation of CCTV cameras only at the entry and exit points. It consciously caveats that this would be without prejudice to the individual’s privacy.

Thus, the executive while enacting subordinate legislation has been conscious of the privacy concerns of the citizens.

No right including a fundamental right can be absolute.

The Bench added that a decision to install a CCTV camera which has a bearing on a person’s privacy requires the most careful of considerations—it requires the government to apply its mind prudently and determine what manner of regulations ought to be put in place for its proper use.

Right to Relax

The K.S. Puttaswamy (Privacy-9J.) v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1  verdict posits that there are three essential features of privacy – repose, sanctuary and intimate decisions.

“Repose” refers to freedom from unwarranted attention, “sanctuary” refers to the freedom of keeping things to oneself and “intimate decisions” refers to the freedom of autonomy to make personal life choices.

The right of an individual to avail means of relaxation (in this case, via spa) falls within the ambit of the right of repose and sanctuary. Therefore, any intrusion into the right to relax shall necessarily have to satisfy the test of legality, legitimate aim and proportionality.

 Morality

High Court added that the Supreme Court decision of Govind v. State of M.P., (1975) 2 SCC 148, pondered over the question of whether concerns of breach of morality can be made a ground for intruding into one’s private space.

When the Govind decision was rendered, privacy was not recognised as a fundamental right.

Post the Supreme Court decision in K.S. Puttaswamy (Privacy-9J.) v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1, privacy right can be curtailed only on grounds set out therein. Morality cannot be invoked as a mere incantation to justify such curtailment. This was also the essence of the landmark “Section 377” verdict of the Supreme Court in which it was held that in matters of one’s private affairs, constitutional morality shall trump public morality, Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1.

Lastly, the Bench held that when the notification issued by appropriate authority is holding the field, it may not be open to the Court to supplement the same. In the said circumstances, the first respondent is directed to consider the petitioner’s representation and dispose of the same and if the first respondent issues ‘No Objection Certificate’ and the competent authority grants license in favour of the petitioner, the respondents will not interfere with the petitioner’s business so long as it is running in the manner known to law.

Therefore, the petition was disposed of in view of the above discussion. [Payel Biswas v. Commr. Of Police, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 76, decided on 4-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioner: Mr N. Edwin Jeyakumar, for Mr S.Leonard Vasanth.

For Respondents: Mr M. Sakthi Kumar, Government Advocate.

OP. ED.SCC Journal Section Archives

Justice Prabodh Dinkarrao Desai was by far the finest Judge I have known in my four decades in the legal profession. He was true to his oath and lived by very strict principles which he expected others to follow. The foremost quality of Justice Desai was his fearlessness. When any Judge takes oath, he swears to work to the best of his ability without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. “Fear” was a word which did not exist in Justice Desai’s mind or dictionary. He worked tirelessly as a Judge and Chief Justice for 23 years, never seeking any reward for himself. A man who was elevated as a Judge of the High Court at the young age of 39 years could well have risen to the highest judicial post in the country if he had played his cards right. However, Justice Desai believed in doing the right things, and not in playing his cards right. He never pandered to those in power and sacrificed his future in his quest for truth. He may never have been elevated to the Supreme Court but today he is acknowledged and remembered as one of the finest Judges this country has ever seen.

 

Justice Desai was a Judge way ahead of his times. He used the Constitution as a tool to ameliorate the lives of the downtrodden. He was not bound by the rules of procedure and if, within the bounds of law, he could give relief to any petitioner before him he never hesitated to do so. Justice Desai was one of the pioneers of public interest litigation. He was an activist Judge who did not hesitate to take action even on letters written to him, if those letters disclosed violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens. It was he who said that the right to have motorable road is a fundamental right within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution. In some cases he entertained letters without disclosing the names of the persons who had written the letter. He was a messiah for the needy, the downtrodden and those whose fundamental rights have been curtailed whether it be in jail or outside. In one of his judgments he said “fundamental rights do not flee a person as he enters the prison”.1

 

READ COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

———

* Valedictory address at the workshop of lawyers, organised by Praleen Public Charitable Trust and Lecture Committee at Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 7-9-2019.

**The article has been published with due permission of Eastern Book Company. Cite as (2020) 4 SCC J-14

Judge, Supreme Court of India.

1 Nawal Thakur v. Brahmu Ram, 1984 SCC OnLine HP 52 : 1985 Cri LJ 244.

2 ADM, Jabalpur v. Shivakant Shukla, (1976) 2 SCC 521.

3 Queen Empress v. Jogendera Chunder Bose, ILR (1892) 19 Cal 35.

4 Id., p. 44.

5 Queen Empress v. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, ILR (1898) 22 Bom. 112.

6 R. v. Aldred, (1909) 22 Cox CC 1.

7 Niharendu Dutt Majumdar v. King Emperor, 1942 SCC OnLine FC 5 : (1942) 4 FCR 38.

8 Ibid.

9 King-Emperor v. Sadashiv Narayan Bhalerao, 1947 SCC OnLine PC 9 : (1946-47) 74 IA 89.

10 Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras, AIR 1950 SC 124.

11 State of Bihar v. Shailabala Devi, AIR 1952 SC 329.

12 Kedar Nath v. State of Bihar, AIR 1962 SC 955.

13 Bengal Immunity Co. Ltd. v. State of Bihar, AIR 1955 SC 661.

14 R.M.D. Chamarbaugwalla v. Union of India, AIR 1957 SC 628.

15 Kedar Nath case, AIR 1962 SC 955, 969, para 26.

16 Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab, (1995) 3 SCC 214.

17 Bilal Ahmed Kaloo v. State of A.P., (1997) 7 SCC 431.

18 (2016) 15 SCC 269.

19 Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, (2015) 5 SCC 1.

20 Id, pp. 130-31, para 13.

21 Sanskar Marathe v. State of Maharashtra, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 587.

22 Sanskar Marathe v. State of Maharashtra, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 587, paras 15-16.

23 Peoples’ Union For Civil Liberties v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1820.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar*, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that the right to control one’s identity is a fundamental right and the Central Board of Secondary Education cannot deny such right by refusing to allow a person to change their name in the Certificates without giving them reasonable opportunity.

Issue

Whether an individual’s control over such cardinal element of identity could be denied to him/her by the Central Board of Secondary Education on the specious ground that its Examination Byelaws of 2007 must prevail over the claim of the candidate, which are merely intended to regulate such a claim and to delineate the procedure for correction/change in the contents of certificate(s) issued by it including regarding maintenance of its office records?

Analysis

Do you have the right to change your identity?

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, said Juliet. This quote from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is unarguably one of the most iconic dialogues in classical literature.  It conveys that the natural characteristics of an individual are more important than his/her artificial/acquired characteristics.  A poetic statement as it certainly is, it does not go in tune with the significance of a name in marking the identity of an individual in his/her societal transactions. To put it differently, name is an intrinsic element of identity.”

Identity is an amalgam of various internal and external including acquired characteristics of an individual and name can be regarded as one of the foremost indicators of identity. And therefore, an individual must be in complete control of her name and law must enable her to retain as well as to exercise such control freely “for all times”. Such control would inevitably include the aspiration of an individual to be recognized by a different name for a just cause.

Any change in identity of an individual has to go through multiple steps and it cannot be regarded as complete without proper fulfilment of those steps. An individual may self¬identify oneself with any title or epithet at any point of time. But the change of identity would not be regarded as formally or legally complete until and unless the State and its agencies take note thereof in their records. Afterall, in social sphere, an individual is not only recognized by how an individual identifies oneself but also by how his/her official records identify him/her. For, in every public transaction of an individual, official records introduce the person by his/her name and other relevant particulars.

However, going by the very nature of rights under Article 19, the right to get changed name recorded in the official (public) records cannot be an absolute right and as a matter of public policy and larger public interest calls for certain reasonable restrictions to observe consistency and obviate confusion and deceptive attempt.

Byelaws violative of fundamental right to change one’s identity?

The concerned Byelaw has been framed on the assumption that there can be no situation wherein a legitimate need for change of name could arise for a student after publication of results. It is presumed that only typographical/factual errors could come in the certificates and they can be corrected using the provision for corrections.

“The presumption, we must note, is erroneous, absurd and distances itself from the social realities.”

There can be numerous circumstances wherein change of name could be a legitimate requirement and keeping the ultimate goal of preserving the standard of education in mind, the Board must provide for a reasonable opportunity to effect such changes.

Further, the balance of convenience would tilt in favour of students.  For, they stand to lose more due to inaccuracies in their certificates than the Board whose sole worry is increasing administrative burden.

“The obligation of Board to take additional administrative burden is no doubt onerous but the propensity of a student losing career opportunities due to inaccurate certificate is unparalleled.”

A Board dealing with maintenance of educational standards cannot arrogate to itself the power to impact identity of students who enrol with it. The right to control one’s identity must remain with the individual, subject, of course, to reasonable restrictions.

What kind of requests can be made?

Where the incumbent wants “correction” in the certificate issued by the CBSE:

  • There is no reason for the CBSE to turn down such request or attach any precondition except reasonable period of limitation and keeping in mind the period for which the CBSE has to maintain its record under the extant regulations.
  • While doing so, it can certainly insist for compliance of other conditions by the incumbent, such as, to file sworn affidavit making necessary declaration and to indemnify the CBSE from any claim against it by third party because of such correction.
  • The CBSE would be justified in insisting for surrender/return of the original certificate (or duplicate  original certificate, as the case may be) issued by it for replacing it with the fresh certificate to be issued after carrying out necessary corrections with  caption/annotation against the changes carried out and the date of such correction.
  • It may retain the original entries as it is except in respect of correction of name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten.
  • The fresh certificate may also contain disclaimer that the CBSE cannot be held responsible for the genuineness of the school records produced by the incumbent in support of the request to record correction in the original CBSE certificate.
  • The CBSE can also insist for reasonable prescribed fees to be paid by the incumbent in lieu of administrative expenses for issuing   fresh   certificate.
  • At the same time, the CBSE cannot impose precondition of applying for correction consistent with the school records only before publication of results. Such a condition, would be unreasonable and excessive.
  • If the application for recording correction is based on the school records as it obtained at the time of publication of results and issue of certificate by the CBSE, it will be open to CBSE to provide for reasonable limitation period within which the application for recording correction in certificate issued by it may be entertained by it.
  • However, if the request for recording change is based on changed school records post the publication of results and issue of certificate by the CBSE, the candidate would be entitled to apply for recording such a change within the reasonable limitation period prescribed by the CBSE. In this situation, the candidate cannot claim that she had no knowledge about the change recorded in the school records because such a change would occur obviously at her instance.
  • If she makes such application for correction of the school records, she is expected to apply to the CBSE immediately after the school records are modified and which ought to be done within a reasonable time.

Indeed, it would be open to the CBSE to reject the application in the event the period for preservation of official records under the extant regulations had expired and no record of the candidate concerned is traceable or can be reconstructed.

In the case of subsequent amendment of school records, that may occur due to different reasons including because of choice exercised by the candidate regarding change of name. To put it differently, request for recording of correction in the certificate issued by the CBSE to bring it in line with the school records of the incumbent need not be limited to application made prior to publication of examination results of the CBSE.

“Change” of particulars in the certificate issued by the CBSE:

The request for “change” of particulars in the certificate issued by the CBSE,  presupposes that the particulars intended to be recorded in the CBSE certificate are not consistent with the school records.

When are such requests made?

(a) on the basis of public documents like Birth Certificate, Aadhaar Card/Election Card, etc. and to incorporate change in the CBSE certificate consistent therewith.

There is a legal presumption in relation to the public documents as envisaged in the 1872 Act. Such public documents, therefore, cannot be ignored by the CBSE. Taking note of those documents, the CBSE may entertain the request for recording change in the certificate issued by it. This, however, need not be unconditional, but subject to certain reasonable conditions to be fulfilled by the applicant as may be prescribed by the CBSE, such as, of furnishing sworn affidavit containing declaration and to indemnify the CBSE and upon payment of prescribed fees in lieu of administrative expenses.

The CBSE may also insist for issuing Public Notice and publication in the Official Gazette before recording the change in the fresh certificate to be issued by it upon surrender/return of the original certificate (or duplicate original certificate, as the case may be) by the applicant.

The fresh certificate may contain disclaimer and caption/annotation against the original entry (except in respect of change of name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten) indicating the date on which change has been recorded and the basis thereof.

“In other words, the fresh certificate may retain original particulars while recording the change along with caption/annotation referred to above (except in respect of change of name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten).”

(b) due to the acquired name by choice at a later point of time which need not be backed by public documents pertaining to the candidate:

Such a request may be entertained upon insisting for prior permission/declaration by a Court of law in that regard and publication in the Official Gazette including surrender/return of original certificate (or duplicate original certificate, as the case may be) issued by CBSE and upon payment of   prescribed fees.

The fresh certificate may retain the original entry (except in respect of change of name effected in exercise of right to be forgotten) and to insert caption/annotation indicating the date on which it has been recorded and other details including disclaimer of CBSE.  This is so because the CBSE is not required to adjudicate nor has the mechanism to verify the correctness of the claim of the applicant.

Directions

  • The CBSE to process the applications for correction or change, as the case may be, in the certificate issued by it in the respective cases under consideration.
  • Even other pending applications and future applications for such request be processed on the lines of the decision of the Court in the present case, as may be applicable, until amendment of relevant Byelaws.
  • Additionally, the CBSE shall take immediate steps to amend its relevant Byelaws so as to incorporate the stated mechanism for recording correction or change, as the case may be, in the certificates already issued or to be issued by it.

[Jigya Yadav v. CBSE, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 415, decided on 03.06.2021]


Judgment by: Justice AM Khanwilkar 

Know Thy Judge| Justice AM Khanwilkar

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The Division Bench of Tashi Rabstan and Ali Mohammad Magrey, JJ., addressed the instant petition seeking for issuance of directions to the government for providing promotion opportunities to the persons working as restorers in the High Court. The Bench remarked,

“It is settled position of law that right of consideration for promotion to the next higher post is a fundamental right of an employee. Opportunity of advancement in service career by promotion is considered to be a normal incidence of service.”Ser

The grievance of the petitioners was that they were working as Restorers in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and that they had remained stagnated on the said posts as there were no promotional avenues available for them in terms of the rules governing the field. It was stated that the grade attached to the said posts of Restorers was Rs.2610-3450 (pre-revised) which was neither commensurate to the duties being performed by the petitioners nor at par with their counterparts working in the other High Courts of the country. The petitioners had filed a representation before the Registrar General of the High Court for seeking redressal of their grievances. The registrar, in return, had requested the government to accord approval for upgradation of pay scale of Restorers working in the High Court from 2610-3450 (pre-revised) to 3050-4910 (pre-revised).

However, despite there being recommendations for upgradation of pay scale the Government did not consider the case. The issue was threadbare discussed and examined by the High-Level Committee constituted for this purpose which was headed by Financial Commissioner, Finance Department. The Committee finally recommended that pay scale attached to the post held by all the employees working in the High Court could not be upgraded as it would lead to similar claims from similarly placed employees of the State Government and it may also result in pay anomalies.

Ultimately, keeping in view the demands of the employees, and also the direction passed by this  Court in Joginder Singh v State, the government decided that special pay equivalent to the 10% of the basic pay may be allowed to the employees.  The said benefit of the “Special Pay” had already been accepted by the employees and the Restorers had also been allowed the same benefit. The government contended that the case of the Restorers could not be examined in isolation from other employees of the High Court. Since, all the employees working in the High Court were governed by the same rules, same yardstick had to be adopted/ followed for each of such category of employees while considering their case of upgradation of pay scale.

The petitioners contended that the course of action adopted by the Government in intermingling the issue of upgradation of the grade attached to the posts of Restorers, with the grant of ‘Special Pay’ could not be countenanced at all.

The ‘Special Pay’ in favour of the employees working in the High Court was granted by the Government in recognition to the special duties being performed by such employees and same was a distinct element which, in no circumstance could be merged with the basic pay.

The Bench, after perusing the recruitment rules/ orders governing the service conditions of the petitioner-Restorers observed that the standing mode for filling up the available vacancies of Restorers in the High Court was 100% by direct recruitment, but, at the same time these Restorers had not been made the feeding cadre for any higher post, meaning thereby that there were no avenues for their promotion to the next higher post at all. The Bench expressed,

“Availability of reasonable promotional opportunities in service generates efficiency and fosters the appropriate attitude to grow for achieving excellence in service.”

The Supreme Court, in Council of Scientific and Industrial Research v. K.G.S. Bhatt, (1989) 4 SCC 635, in order to emphasize the importance of promotional avenues to obviate stagnation in service had held as follows:

“…an organization, public or private, does not ‘hire a hand’ but engages or employees a whole man. The person is recruited by an organization not just for a job, but for a whole career. One must, therefore, be given an opportunity to advance…Every management must provide realistic opportunities for promising employees to move upward.”

It had been repeated and reiterated in a catena of judicial dictums that absence of appropriate promotional prospects in service is bound to degenerate the employees. Stagnation in service on the same post for quite a long period of time and lack of any promotional avenues kills the desire to serve properly. The Bench observed,

“The petitioners have been discharging their duties on the posts of Restorers in the High Court since a long period of time with the legitimate expectation that in due recognition of such services being rendered by them, they will be provided appropriate promotional avenues as is the procedure prevalent with regard to the rest of the posts borne on the establishment of the High Court.”

The factum of stagnation in service qua the petitioners was clearly evident even to a naked eye as, in their entire length of service, not even a single promotional avenue was available to the petitioners. In view of the foregoing analysis, the Bench disposed of the instant petition by directing the Government to consider the recommendations of the High Court for upgradation of the grade attached to the posts of Restorers notwithstanding the grant of ‘Special Pay’ and pass appropriate orders thereon. Further, in view of the stagnation in service being faced by the petitioners, the Bench directed the Registrar of the High Court,to consider the case of the petitioners for exploring the possibility of creating suitable promotional avenues in favour of the petitioners by making appropriate amendment in the rules governing the field commensurate to the present status/ qualification of the petitioners. [Latif Hussain Khan v. State of JK, WP(C) No.1410/2019, decided on 26-02-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner: Sr. Adv. Rohit Kapoor and Adv. Ankit

For the Respondents: Sr. AAG B. A. Dar and Adv. Masooda Jan

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Alka Sarin, J., allowing the present petition, reemphasized on the extended view of Article 21 as opted by the Supreme Court in Shafin Jahan case.

 The present criminal writ petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for enforcement of fundamental rights of the petitioners seeking protection of their life and liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. To put it briefly, the petitioners are residing together in a live in relationship and are willing to marry each other, against the wishes of their families. They are met with regular threat from their family members against which the present petition has been moved seeking protection under Article 21 of the Constitution.

 Court observed, “The petitioners are both major and have every right to live their lives as they desire within the four corners of the law. The society cannot determine how an individual should live her or his life. The Constitution of India guarantees every individual the right to life and the choice of a partner is an important facet of the right to life.”  Reliance was placed on the case of Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M., (2018) 16 SCC 368, wherein the Supreme Court observed, The right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees the right to life. This right cannot be taken away except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair, just and reasonable. Intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness. Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe are at the core of constitutional liberty.”

While allowing the petition, the Court further clarified, “Merely because of the fact that petitioner No.2 is not of a marriageable age the petitioners cannot possibly be denied enforcement of their fundamental rights as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioners, both being major, have decided to live together in a live-in relationship and there possibly may not be any legally justifiable reason for the respondents to object to the same.”[Priyapreet Kaur v. State of Punjab,  2020 SCC OnLine P&H 2340, decided on 23-12-2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading like a wild fire despite Guidelines and SOPs in place, the 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has said that a strict and stern action should be taken against those who are violating the Guidelines and SOPs, whoever he may be and whatever position the violator is occupying.

On 27.11.2020, the Court took suo motu cognizance of the incident which happened in Rajkot, Gujarat on 26.11.2020 resulting in death of COVID patients in the COVIDHospital. The Court also took notice of earlier incidents of fire in Covid Hospitals.

Stressing upon the right to health being a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which includes affordable treatment, the Court said that either more provisions are to be made by the State Government and the local administration or there shall be cap on the fees charged by the private hospitals, which can be in exercise of the powers under the Disaster Management Act.

“It cannot be disputed that for whatever reasons the treatment has become costlier and costlier and it is not affordable to the common people at all. Even if one survives from COVID-19, many times financially and economically he is finished.”

Asking States to rise to the occasion, the Court said that every State must act vigilantly and to work with the Centre harmoniously.

Further, people should understand their duty and follow rules very strictly. It is the duty of every citizen to perform their fundamental duties as guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

“By not following the Guidelines/SOPs issued by the State from time to time, such as, not wearing the masks, not keeping social distances, to participate in the gatherings and the celebrations without maintaining social distances, they are ultimately not damaging themselves but they cause damage to the others also. They cannot be permitted to play with the lives of the others and they cannot be permitted to infringe the rights of other citizens, like right to health guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Calling for strict implementation of the SOPs and the guidelines issued from time to time, the Court reiterated the following measures:

i) More and more police personnel shall be deployed at the places where there is likelihood of gathering by the people, such as, Food Courts, Eateries, Vegetable Markets (Wholesale or Retail), sabzi Mandies, bus stations, railway stations, street vendors, etc.

ii) As far as possible, unless must, no permission shall be granted by the local administration or the Collector/DSP for celebration/gathering even during the day hours and wherever the permissions are granted, the local administration/DSP/Collector/Police In-charge of the local police station shall ensure the strict 7 compliance of the Guidelines/SOPs. There should be a mechanism to check the number of people attending such function/gathering, such as, the particulars with respect to how many persons are going to attend the celebration/gathering, timings during which the celebration/gathering is to take place etc.

iii) There shall be more and more testing and to declare the correct facts and figures. One must be transparent in number of testing and declaring the facts and figures of the persons who are Corona Positive. Otherwise, the people will be misled and they will be under impression that everything is all right and they will become negligent.

iv) Whenever directions are issued under the Disaster Management Act directing the corporate hospitals/private hospitals to keep 50% or any other percentage free municipal beds, it must be strictly complied with and there shall be constant vigilance and supervision.

v) There shall be free helpline numbers to redress the grievances of common man, when there is noncompliance of the directions by the private hospitals/corporate hospitals.

vi) Curfew on weekends/night be considered by States where it is not in place.

vii) In a micro containment zone or in an area where number of cases are on higher side, to cut the chain, they should be sealed and there should be complete lockdown so far as such areas are concerned. Such containment areas need to be sealed for few days except essential services. The same is required to break the chain of virus spread.

viii) Any decision to impose curfew and/or lockdown must be announced long in advance so that the people may know and make provisions for their livelihood, like ration etc.

ix) Another issue is a fatigue of front row health care officers, such as, Doctors, Nurses as well as workers. They are already exhausted physically and mentally due to tireless work for eight months. Some mechanism may be required to give them intermittent rest.

On the issue relating to gatherings organised by Political parties in light on upcoming elections in various States, the Court directed all the States / Union Territories to issue necessary directions to ensure compliance of guidelines for conduct of General Elections/Bye-Elections during Covid-19

The Court said that guidelines although were issued by General Election/Bye Election, can be implemented by different States with suitable modifications with reference to Elections of other organisations to ensure safety of people in general from Covid-19.

[IN RE: THE PROPER TREATMENT OF COVID 19 PATIENTS AND DIGNIFIED HANDLING OF DEAD BODIES IN THE HOSPITALS ETC., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1036, order dated 18.12.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of S. Sujatha and Sachin Shankar Magadam JJ., disposed off the petition due to the limitation of its scope regarding the production of the individual only before the Court.

The instant writ petition in the nature of habeas corpus was filed by the petitioner seeking direction to respondents to produce Kum. Ramya G. before Court and set her at liberty.

The daughter of the petitioner Kum Ramya G was presented before the Court by the jurisdictional police and submitted that she is staying at Mahila Sakshatha Samithi, Vidyaranyapura and pursuant to the complaint lodged by her alleging infringement of her right to liberty caused by her parents relating to her marriage with the petitioner. She further submitted that she is in love with one of her colleague working at IQVIA as a software engineer but her parents are not giving permission.

The Court thus observed that a right of any major individual to marry the person of his/her choice is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India and the said liberty relating to the personal relationships of two individuals cannot be encroached by anybody irrespective of caste or religion.

In light of the aforesaid observations, Court held that the petition being limited to production of the person before the Court only, no interference to be made in other reliefs.

In view of the above, petition was disposed off.[Wajeed Khan v. Commr. of Police, W.P.H.C No. 92 of 2020, decided on 21-11-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Op EdsOP. ED.

Right to Information Intertwined with Right to Privacy of Personal Information

The Right to Information (RTI) is considered as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution[1] and is often described as a tenet for strengthening the pillars of democracy. The Right to Information Act, 2005 provides for transparency and accountability of Government through access of information to the general public.

On the other side, the right to privacy is also considered as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution since 2017 when the Supreme Court ruled so in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India[2].

The real challenge is when both these rights are at crossroad and enforcement of any one would lead to other being overridden. Thus, the RTI Act, 2005 paves the way for right to privacy by restricting the disclosure of the information which interferes with the privacy of any individual unless it is required for greater public good[3].

In Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. Central Information Commission[4] (Girish Deshpande), the issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Central Information Commission (CIC) can deny the information pertaining to the personal matters of a public servant, pertaining to his service career and the details of his assets, liabilities, movable and immovable properties on the basis of exception mentioned in Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Section 8(1)(j) of the  RTI  Act, 2005 provides that: Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

The Court while expanding the scope of Section 8(1)(j) of the Act in the aforementioned case held that the documents pertaining to the public servant including his employment letter, assets, income tax return, details of gift received, orders of censure/punishment are exempted from being disclose by the virtue of Section 8(1)(j) and qualifies to be personal information. It further observed that the performance of an employee/officer in an organisation is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and these aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression “personal information”, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual.

Further, the Supreme Court in R.K Jain v. Union of India[5] wherein the appellant sought copies of all note sheets and correspondence pages as contained in an Annual Confidential Report (ACR) and any follow up action pertaining integrity of a public servant was denied on the basis of Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

Similarly, in 2017 the Supreme Court again reiterated its position in the judgment of Canara Bank v. C.S. Shyam[6], wherein the information sought was of personal information of an employee of Canara Bank. The court while affirming the position of Girish Deshpande[7] as well as R.K. Jain v. Union of India[8] held that personal information is outside the ambit of the RTI and that there was no public interest having larger good involved in respect of personal information being sought.

Privacy Upheld by Judiciary in the Often Referred to “Name and Shame” Decision in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Recently, after the promulgation of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 (CAA), there were nationwide protests against the Government and the CAA which led the Uttar Pradesh Government/administration to take an unforeseen action against the protestors who were accused of vandalism. The administration displayed banners in the city of Lucknow which had all the details of those protestors including their photographs, name and address, against whom the administration had initiated actions to claim compensation for public vandalism.

The poster sought to confiscation of property if the accused failed to pay up the compensation. This found widespread telecast and reporting in print. The Allahabad High Court had taken a suo motu cognizance of such move considering it to be a gross violation of right to privacy as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Court although had not referred to the judgment of Girish Deshpande[9], but had held that such move by the UP Government was uncalled for and breached the right to privacy of the rioters. Though the judgment in Girish Deshpande[10] had little relation to the referred case here, but it is worth mentioning in the context of right to privacy of personal information which won in this case.

Let us try to Analyse Excerpts of the Ruling by the Allahabad High Court

It has been often said that the right to privacy provides lungs to the edifice of the constitutional system. The slightest injury to this right is impermissible as it would put the values designed and depicted in the Preamble of the Constitution to jeopardy. Primarily, the foregoing was upheld in the ruling by the Allahabad High Court.

The act on the part of district and police administration of Lucknow was in conflict with the right of life and liberty of individuals. The territorial jurisdiction of the Allahabad High Court which was challenged was put to rest with the argument that despite the fact that the action might have happened in Lucknow and no personal injury was caused, but the act on the part of the administration demonstrated gross ignorance of constitutional and democratic values and the fact that it was widely prone to public dissemination via media, it could lead to form a State-wide nature of impugned action.

The administration’s logic to display the names of the accused at a conspicuous place was that it should act as a deterrent to public to take law in their hands and was in public interest. This was challenged to be in violation of people’s fundamental rights. Further, it was held that there was no provision in the current law by which the Government could display such names in public fora and that those persons were not even fugitives.

The Allahabad High Court also questioned rational nexus between the object (to deter public at large from participating in such illegal acts of rioting, etc.) and means (display of identity against whom compensation has been claimed for destroying public property) adopted to achieve the object and further how the extent of interference is proportionate to its need. It was said that the fact that only few peoples’ name was put on the banners while there must be several thousand cases against several accused in the State for several serious crimes, the administration had done a colourable act in exercise of its executive powers.

UP authorities was ordered to take down banners from the road side displaying the personal information of individuals and not to do such acts without authority of law.[11] The UP Government has appealed against the aforesaid order before the Supreme Court, which has not been stayed yet and has been referred to a larger Bench.[12]

Right to Fair Trial over and above Right to Privacy

The issue[13] arose through a matrimonial dispute wherein the family court had admitted a Compact Disk (CD) filed by husband wherein the wife could be heard talking ill about the husband and his family. The husband contended that such derogatory remark amounts to cruelty. Thereafter, the wife approached the Delhi High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution seeking dismissal of the CD being taken on record as evidence. The reasoning provided by wife was that the CD was tampered, therefore unreliable and that the conversation between her and so called friend was recorded without her knowledge or consent which constituted violation of her fundamental right to privacy, therefore not admissible as evidence. For the purpose of case analysis here, we will only consider the legal point pertaining  privacy.

The argument put forth by wife was that privacy had been recognised by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right, available to a person not only against the State but also against private individuals as is recognised by the Supreme Court in  K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India[14].

On the other hand, husband’s contention was that although privacy had been recognised by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right, but it was not absolute and subject to reasonable restrictions.

Relying upon other judicial precedents, it was urged that the husband was entitled to establish cruelty on the wife’s part and to prove his case seeking dissolution of marriage on that ground under the family law concerned. Accordingly, the wife’s right to privacy must accede to the husband’s right to bring evidence to prove his case, else the husband would be denied the right to fair trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The single Judge Bench while considering the various judicial precedents cited on both sides  categorically held that in the case of conflict between two rights i.e. right to fair trial and right to privacy, the fundamental right to privacy had to yield to right to fair trial and thus any incriminating evidence collected through breach of privacy was admissible in the court of law. The court had harmoniously interpreted two fundamental rights which flows out from Article 21 of the Constitution and had observed that no fundamental right is absolute.

The Court relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra[15]  wherein it was contended that the evidence collected should be inadmissible being an illegally compelled evidence and thus is violative of Article 20(3) of the Constitution, the Supreme Court held that although the search or seizure was illegally conducted and may amount to breach of a fundamental right but that would not make the search or seizure invalid in law. The court also relied upon a Supreme Court decision of Pooran Mal v. Director of Inspection (Investigation),[16] wherein the seizure of account books, documents and valuables by income tax authorities was challenged to be in conflict with Articles 14, 19(1)(f), 19(1)(g) and 31 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court while interpreting the provision of the Evidence Act, 1872 noted that the only test of an admissibility of evidence is its relevancy  and thus it is immaterial whether the evidence is procured through an illegal search or seizure.

Investigation is an Intrusion to Privacy, but the Unearthing of Truth must Happen in the Interest of Justice

The year 2020 has not only been marred by so many deaths due to  Covid-19, but also under mysterious circumstances particularly the much media investigated and publicised case of  Sushant Singh Rajput. Due to dissemination of personal information in public both from the right and wrong parties (referring to the parties in dispute), there is a privacy angle that has gained prominence.

In normal instances, investigation are done by State police and investigative bodies under the Government (State or Central, or both), but the mysterious stories including foul play circling round the matter has allowed the media to take centre stage in investigation. One of the good instances wherein due to free media reporting, the case is probably heading in the right direction otherwise it would have gone under cover long ago. Interestingly, from call data records to WhatsApp chats are on display in several news channels.

Now, this is personal information. Given the background, it may be worthwhile to look into some judicial pronouncements particularly from the admissibility of evidence and court’s opinion on privacy with respect of phone taping. It may be further provided that in current times a separate process is required for accessing phone records from the telecom providers and these pronouncements should not be read in entire isolation.

In R.M. Malkani v. State of Maharashtra[17] it has been held that conversation that is tape-recorded by an external device, without tampering or interrupting telephone lines, is admissible in evidence. In this case the Supreme Court has spelt-out three conditions for admissibility of a tape recording, namely, (a) relevance, (b) voice identification; and (c) proof of accuracy. Further it has been held that evidence, even if procured illegally, is admissible.

In another case of Tukaram S. Dighole v. Manikrao Shivaji Kokate[18], it has been held that tape recordings of speeches are documents under Section 3 of the Evidence Act, 1872 which stand on no different footing than photographs, and are admissible after satisfying the three conditions as laid down inter alia in R.M. Malkani[19]. Further in N. Sri Rama Reddy v. V.V. Giri[20], it has been held that a tape recording can be used to corroborate as well as contradict evidence.

There has been contrary pronouncements as well to include as in State of Punjab v. Baldev Singh[21] where the Supreme Court has held that while considering the aspect of fair trial, the nature of the evidence obtained and the nature of the safeguard violated are both relevant factors. Courts cannot  allow admission of evidence against an accused where the court is satisfied that the evidence had been obtained by conduct of which the prosecution ought not to take advantage, particularly when that conduct causes prejudice to the accused.

With times changing, tape recordings have been replaced with WhatsApp chats, however the above principles should still be applicable subject to any evolving judicial pronouncements and evidence laws pertaining e-information.

To conclude, right to privacy is not an absolute right and has to be placed in the context of other rights and values depending upon the facts of the case. And we see the beam balance swaying on either side when right to privacy and other rights are involved as we researched in the foregoing.


*Bhumesh Verma is Managing Partner at Corp Comm Legal and can be contacted at bhumesh.verma@corpcommlegal.in. **Sayantan Dey, Legal and Compliance Professional and Ujjwal Agrawal, Student Researcher Corp Comm Legal.

[1]      Bennett Coleman and Co. v. Union of India, (1972) 2 SCC 788: AIR 1973 SC 106; State of U.P. v. Raj Narain, (1975) 4 SCC 428; Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, (1985) 1 SCC 641: 1986 AIR SC 515.

[2]      (2017) 10 SCC 1.

[3]      S. 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

[4]      (2013) 1 SCC 212.

[5]      (2013) 14 SCC 794.

[6]    (2018) 11 SCC 426.

[7]      Supra (Note 4).

[8]      Supra (Note 5).

[9]      Supra (Note 4).

[10]    Supra (Note 4).

[11]  Banners Placed on Road Side in the City of Lucknow, In re, 2020 SCC OnLine All 244.

[12]  <https://www.livemint.com/news/india/sc-new-bench-to-hear-plea-against-allahabad-hc-order-on-lucknow-posters-11584003637212.html>.

[13]    Deepti Kapur v. Kunal Julka, 2020 SCC Online Del 672.

[14]    (2017) 10 SCC 1.

[15]    AIR 1954 SC 300.

[16]    (1974) 1 SCC 345.

[17]    (1973) 1 SCC  471 : AIR 1973 SC 157.

[18]    (2010) 4 SCC 329.

[19]    (1973) 1 SCC  471 : AIR 1973 SC 157.

[20]    (1970) 2 SCC 340.

[21]    (1999) 6 SCC 172.

NGT
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): Full Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member), Satyawan Singh Garbyal and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Members) addressed a matter wherein violation of Air and Water Act has been stated and ground for polluted environment is the lack of funds with the local body.

In the present application, the grievance was with regard to the violation of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 in a village in Himachal Pradesh on account of failure to handle waste which is being burnt causing air pollution, resulting in diseases, loss of livestock and contributing to forest fires and loss of wildlife.

Increase in monkeys, feral dogs and scavengers namely crows, vultures, etc. have also been noticed. Further, the Dumpsite in hilly terrain has been overflowing and contaminating water body, which is a source of irrigation.

The above-stated deficiencies have been pointed by relying upon the photographs and letters addressed to the authorities.

Deputy Commission and the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board, both had sought a report vide its order dated 14-01-2020.

In the report filed n 13-11-2020 following was stated:

As per the said report, the Joint Inspection Committee had directed the Municipal Council, Hamirpur:- (i) to join the corners of RCC retaining wall with the hill ~ide to avoid spillage of Solid Waste (ii) to provide proper fencing to avoid entry of stray animals inside the facility (iii) construct storm drain of adequate size to avoid entry of storm water/rain water and (iv) to ensure that no fire incident/forest fire take place in the solid waste processing facility. Being a nodal agency, State Board also issued directions vide office letter dated 14/02/2020 to Municipal Council, Hamirpur to comply with the recommendations of the Joint Inspection committee.

It is further submitted that the Joint Inspection Committee was once again requested by the State Board on 17.10.2020 to re-inspect the site to verify whether the recommendations of the said committee have been complied with by M.C. Hamirpur at its Solid Waste Processing Facility. Recently, joint inspection of the site was once again conducted on 10.11.2020, under the Chairmanship of Addl. District Magistrate, Hamirpur alongwith Sub Divisional Magistrate Hamirpur, Environmental Engineer, (HPSPCB, Una), Executive Officer, (Municipal Council Hamirpur), Asstt. Engineer, (Jal Shakti Vibhag, Hamirpur) and Asstt. Environmental Engineer, (HPSPCB, Una).

Bench noted that the deficiencies still persist and the reason for the failure to take action on the ground has been lack of funds with the local body.

Tribunal held that the ground of “lack of funds” is not a valid ground as clean environment is a fundamental right for which funds are to arranged by the authorities either by collection from the citizens concerned or otherwise.

In view of the above, Bench directed the Secretary, Urban Development Department, Himachal Pradesh to ensure further remedial action.

Matter has been further listed for consideration on 24-03-2021. [Rita Sharma v. State of H.P., Original Application No. 05 of 2020, decided on 13-11-2020]


Advocates for the parties:

Applicants: Tushar Giri, Advocate

Respondents: Sanjay Kumar, Advocate for HPSPCB

Jharkhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: S. N Pathak J., upheld the award applying the principle of equal pay for equal work.

 The facts of the case are that the respondent –workman was appointed by the petitioner management i.e Food Corporation of India on the post of Hindi Typist in on casual basis without any appointment letter being issued to him or being appointed against any sanctioned post. On 06.05.1984, the casual service of the workman was terminated which was challenged by him before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal No. 1 at Dhanbad which held that the workman completed 240 days of service and since he had not been paid retrenchment compensation, so his termination of service was wrong and he must be reinstated with full back wages and also entitled for pay protection vide award dated 08.08.1990. Later, the Management on 03.02.1995, issued Circular inviting applications from internal candidates fulfilling eligibility criteria for filling up the post of Hindi Typist, the workman/respondent did not apply for the same and chose to raise industrial dispute claiming regularization of service under Section 10 of the Industrial Dispute Act which was decided in favour of the workman Being aggrieved by the same, the Management has preferred instant writ petition.

 Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the concerned workman has not been able to bring on record the appointment letter nor did he possess the requisite qualification and has never appeared in any selection process held by the Management and did not fulfil the conditions and criteria as laid down in FCI Staff Regulation of 1971. Hence, the direction to regularize the workman in service is totally contrary to law making the award unsustainable and the same is fit to be set aside.

 Counsel for the respondents submitted that the writ petition is not maintainable and is fit to be dismissed. He further submitted that the respondent-workman was appointed on 04-12-1982 and since then he is in continuous service without any break and that there is no difference between the work of a casual Hindi Typist or the permanent Hindi Typist and the workman is performing the same, similar and identical duties to that of a regular Hindi Typist and the long continuous service of more than 25 years itself is sufficient to prove eligibility of the workman. It was further argued that in spite of having sanctioned vacant post, the concerned workman has not been regularized arbitrarily in order to deny him regular pay scale as also to deny the benefits of regular services and accordingly, the Award has rightly been passed holding the workman entitled to be regularized as a Hindi Typist with full wages.

The Court relied on judgment titled Bharat Bank Ltd. v. Employees, AIR 1950 SC 188 and observed that,

“61. In settling the disputes between the employers and the workmen, the function of the tribunal is not confined to administration of justice in accordance with law. it can confer rights and privileges on either party which it considers reasonable and proper, though they may not be within the terms of any existing agreement. It has not merely to interpret or give effect to the contractual rights and obligations of the parties. It can create new rights and obligations between them which it considers essential for keeping industrial peace.”

 The Court further observed that the law is well settled that there has to be equality before the law. the workman is entitled to equal pay for equal work. Equal pay for equal work is not expressly declared by the Constitution as a fundamental right but in view of Directive Principles of State Policy, as contained in Article 39(d) of the Constitution of India, “Equal pay for equal work” has assumed the status of the fundamental right in service jurisprudence having regard to the Constitutional mandate of equality in Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. It ensures a welfare socialistic pattern of a State.

The Court held that even though the workman was reinstated but instead of regular Typist, he was allowed to join as a casual typist in the year 1991. From the evidences brought on record, it appears that there were regular appointments of regular typist by the Management but the concerned workman was neither informed nor any opportunity was given to confirm his as a regular typist. Even after his reinstatement, the Management made regular appointments in the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 but nothing has been brought on record to show that the concerned workman was ever informed or given any opportunity to participate for appointment as a regular typist. The nature of work of casual typist and the regular typist are the same and similar. The workman concerned has been discriminated as he was getting salary of Rs 1,400 though, on salary hike, he was getting a sum of Rs 1,890 per month but the regular typist who was appointed in the year 1984, was getting a monthly salary of Rs 8,000, besides the other benefits of Earned Leave, Commuted Leave, etc.

In view of the above, the award is upheld and petition dismissed.[FCI v. Anil Kumar, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 878, decided on 21-10-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together