Legislation UpdatesStatutes/Bills/Ordinances

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021

President promulgates Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

Amendment of Section 13

In Section 13 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, after the words “in article 239A”, the words “or any other article containing reference to elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State” shall be inserted.

Amendment of Section 88

Section 88 (2) to (6), the following sub-sections shall be substituted:

“(2) The members of the Indian Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service for the existing cadre of Jammu and Kashmir, shall be borne and become part of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre, and all future allocations of All India Services Officers for the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and UT of Ladakh shall be made to Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre for which necessary modifications may be made in corresponding cadre allocation rules by the Central Government.

(3) The officers so borne or allocated on Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre shall function in accordance with rules framed by the Central Government.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Ordinance dt. 07-01-2020]

Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

Central Consumer Protection Authority (Allocation and Transaction of Business) Regulations, 2020

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) and clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 104 read with sub-section (1) of Section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (35 of 2019), the Central Consumer Protection Authority, with the previous approval of the Central Government, hereby makes the following regulations, namely:– Central Consumer Protection Authority (Allocation and Transaction of Business) Regulations, 2020.

The said regulations shall lay down the regulations under the following heads:

  • Definitions
  • Procedure for transaction and allocation of business
  • Manner and form in which contracts may be executed
  • Affixation of Common Seal
  • Reimbursement
  • Effect of any irregularity of procedure

Read the detailed notification here: NOTIFICATION


Central Consumer Protection Authority

[Notification dt. 13-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., noted that Delhi University has now launched an online portal through which the students can obtain their digital degree certificates.

The above information came after a series of hearings in the matter.

Petitioners’ grievance was that they wished to pursue their post graduate medical education in USA and for the said purpose they required their degree certificates, however the same were not issued by Delhi University on the ground that the contract with printer had expired.

Court on 23-07-2020 had directed DU to come up with a protocol for issuance of digital degree certificates. On 4th August, Court appointed a committee for the said purpose.

The committee submitted a sample digital degree certificate and on perusal of the Court is satisfied.

Further, the Court added that the digital degree certificates are duly verified by two officials of the DU and digitally signed by the Authorised Officer of the DU, hence the same would satisfy the petitioners’ purpose.

Bench directed that the digital degree certificates for all the petitioners shall be issued by e-mail on or before 13-08-2020.

Adding to the above, Court noted that DU has now activated the online portal for issuance of digital degree certificates being www.digicerti.du.ac.in, wherein the students have to register themselves and give their details including their academic qualification, name of their college, etc. Upon the same being completed by the students, the digital degree certificates for the students shall be issued within a maximum period of one week, after completing the verification, etc.

Court also directed MEITY/Digilocker and DU to file an affidavit regarding what steps have been taken to ensure that the data is made available to students through DigiLocker.

Another aspect to be looked into by DU is whether mark sheets and transcripts of students can also be issued digitally.

Matter to be listed on 07-09-2020. [Dhritiman Ray v. University of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 977, decided on 07-08-2020]


Also Read:

Del HC | “No reason why DU should not adopt technically advanced methods”; Court suggests DU to issue degree certificates online through email

Del HC | Obtaining a degree should have been a cause of celebration, but turned into a nightmare; Court constitutes committee to finalise the process of issuing digital degree certificates to DU students

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

Jute Advisory Board –Abolished

In consonance with the Government of India vision of “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance”, a leaner Government Machinery and the need for systematic rationalization of Government bodies, the Government of India has abolished Jute Advisory Board (JAB) with effect from the date of publication of this Notification in the Gazette of India.

*Read the notification, here: NOTIFICATION


Ministry of Textiles

[Notification dt. 04-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Coram of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice S.P. Wangdi (Judicial Member) and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member), while addressing a matter reiterated that,

There is no absolute right to extract groundwater for commercial purposes. If anyone is found extracting groundwater, it is per se a criminal offence under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Illegal Extraction of Groundwater

Tribunal sought a report from the State Pollution Control Board with regard to the allegation of illegal extraction of groundwater and discharge of polluted water with dyes and chemicals into the drain by the National Wollen and finishers.

State PCB filed a report wherein it was noted that Regional Director, CGWB, Chandigarh was directed to take action and levy environmental compensation on National Wollen and Finishers for extracting underground water without CGWA permission, as per the report of CPCB in-house Committee on Methodology of assessing Environmental Compensation and Action Plan for its utilization of Fund Assessed.

Further, the report also stated that the consent to establish under the Water Act and Air Act was granted on 03-09-2012.

In the Tribunal’s decision of Shailesh Singh v. Hotel Holiday Regency, OA No. 176 of 2015, it was held that,

“…groundwater extraction has to be regulated having regard to the safety of level of groundwater so that water bodies and e-flow of rivers is not affected.”

There is no absolute right to extract ground water for commercial purpose. If anyone is found extracting ground water, it is per se a criminal offence under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Hence, the tribunal held that National Wollen and Finishers has been found to be extracting groundwater, therefore, State PCB must stop such extraction by coercive means and recover compensation for such illegal drawal for the period for which such drawal took place up to five years from the date of filing of the application before this Tribunal.

Adding to its decision, the tribunal also stated that, there is also a violation of Consent terms under the Water and Air Acts which can certainly be enforced by the PCB, in view of the failure of CGWB to take action.

In view of the above, the application was disposed of. [Raj Kumar Singal v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 220, decided on 05-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Suresh Kumar Kait, J., while addressing a matter with regard to the Order issued by Delhi Police on 8-07-2020 in respect to the arrests being made in the Delhi Riots matter, made a suggestion that,

“media being the fourth pillar of democracy, news should be clear after verifying the facts so that no prejudice is caused to anyone or hatred is spread among communities in this country.”

Court refused to quash the order issue dby Delhi Police, wherein “arrests of some Hindu youth had led to a degree of resentment among the Hindu community” and therefore, subordinate officers should take due care and precaution while arresting any person.

Petitioners were aggrieved by the issuance of the respondent 4’s order to the investigating officers and teams while the investigation pertaining to the carnage that took place in North East Delhi was still underway.

Indian Express had reported the said order by an Article titled —

‘RESENTMENT IN HINDUS ON ARRESTS, TAKE CARE: SPECIAL CP TO PROBE TEAMS’ on 15-07-2020.

Article pertained to the ongoing investigation, arrests and prosecution by the Delhi Police in cases relating to the carnage in North East Delhi and inter-alia reports that order dated 08-07-2020 addressed to subordinate officers heading probe teams and signed by respondent 4 cites an “intelligence input” about the riot-related arrests of “some Hindu youth from Chand Bagh and Khajuri Khas areas of Northeast Delhi” and goes on to state that arrests of “some Hindu youth” has led to a “degree of resentment among the Hindu community”.

The Order proceeds to direct that “due care and precaution” must be taken while making such arrests.

Adding to the above, it states that “community representatives are alleging that these arrests are made without any evidence and are even insinuating that such arrests are being made for some personal reasons.

The order goes on to name two Muslim men and states: “In the same area, resentment among Hindu community is also reported for alleged police inaction” against the two, “who are alleged to have been involved in mobilizing members of the Muslim community during Delhi riots and anti-CAA protests”.

It has also been stated that direct message has been conveyed to the subordinate officer that due care be taken in case of arresting the Hindu People and no precaution may be taken while arresting the Muslim people.

High court while parting with the decision made it clear that the IOs of the cases shall be dealing in accordance with the law and shall not take into consideration instructions vide order dated 08-07-2020, whereby it was stated that the evidences must be discussed with Special PPs assigned to each case

While issuing any instructions especially in such type of situation, the respondents shall take due care, however, in any eventuality, instructions may be issued within the powers mentioned under Section 36 CrPC.

Bench also noted that the electronic/print media has published some news which was against the letter and spirit of the Order dated 08-07-2020 issued by respondent 4.

Further, the Court also noted that 535 Hindus and 513 Muslims have been charge-sheeted in all cases. Thus, no prejudice has been caused pursuant to letter dated 08.07.2020

Hence, the Court suggested that media being the fourth pillar of democracy, news should be clear after verifying the facts so that no prejudice is caused to anyone or hatred is spread among communities in this country.

Investigating authorities must not create any bias on the basis of any instruction issued by the senior officers which are not recognized under any law.

In view of the above petition was disposed of. [Sahil Parvez v. GNCTD, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 971, decided on 07-08-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J. has upheld the Delhi University’s (DU) decision to conduct open-book examinations (OBE) for final year undergraduate students, set to start from the 10th of August, 2020.

The Court was hearing a plea filed by multiple students of the University, which sought to challenge the university’s decision to conduct OBEs, contending that it would be discriminatory for students who did not have internet, books and/or other resources for preparing for the exam or were stuck in Covid-19 containment zones. Moreover, the ability and preparedness of the University to conduct the exams, especially in light of the possibility of various technical problems, had been questioned. The University argued that conducting OBEs was in accordance with the UGC’s guidelines to conduct exams in a time-bound manner, and students would only require basic technology to appear for the examination. It contended that holding OBEs was to prevent students from assembling in one hall, intended at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The High Court ruled in favour of DU, allowing it to conduct the OBEs from the 10th of August, 2020. However, the Court also issued several guidelines which the University would have to follow in conducting the examinations, such as uploading question papers on a portal and emailing them to students individually, giving students an extra hour to upload their answer sheet, sending auto-generated email to each student to confirm the receipt of the answer sheet by the University, etc. The Court observed that a Grievance Redressal Committee would have to be formed by the DU to resolve issues being faced by students, Common Service Centres would be made available for students with no cyber infrastructure, and students who fail to appear in the OBEs would have the option to appear in physical examinations in September; all of these would serve as safeguards for the students.


Source: Hindustan Times

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar, JJ., while addressing the matter observed that the following rule, “Two individuals should remain two yards away and wear masks” seems to be an empty shibboleth coined by the Government.

Court furthering its observations stated that neither the government is looking interested in implementing the above rule nor the people of Uttar Pradesh are interested in following the said rule.

Shops are surrounded by people without complying with the norm of social distancing of two yards.

Advocate, Ram Kaushik, brought certain photographs on record from which it is certain that Unlock-1, 2 and 3 have been misunderstood by the people of Uttar Pradesh.

Either the people have not been told to maintain social distancing or they have chosen to flagrantly violate the principle of maintaining social distance.

Shopkeepers will have to be told that crowding at their shop would be of no help and even may invite coercive measures against them.

Hence, police along with the District Administration will have to see that people who crowd at shops should queue up with a distance of two yards in between two individuals.

“Nagar Nigam Administration is not only proceeding at a snail’s pace but it has mostly remained a passive spectator of the encroachment activities in various parts of the city.”

Also, it can be then expected for social distancing norms to be followed in letter and spirit, if such unauthorised encroachers are permitted to carry out commercial activities in every nook and corner of the city.

Further, the Government is coming up with various data to show that things are under its control but newspaper reports are not very encouraging. There are complaints that people, though have been tested for COVID-19 but have not yet received their reports even after a lapse of two or more weeks.

Chief Medical Officer has been directed to file an affidavit stating the pending COVID-19 reports already tested and reports received and delivered date-wise from 20th July, 2020 till 5th August, 2020.

Bench also added to its observations that, the rule of maintaining 2 yards distance has to go on till the time there is either a cure of the Corona Virus or there is a vaccine for the general public.

Court issued the following directions:

  • State Authorities to see vigorously that no two individuals in public remain within a distance of two yards from each other.
  • If any public place is found where people fail to maintain a distance of two yards from each other then the owner of the premises, where the violation of this Rule is found, should be brought to book and the premises should be closed down.
  • If policemen etc. are not enforcing rules of distancing then action should be taken against them.
  • If there is crowding seen at O.P.Ds of hospitals, Nursing Homes and Clinics then action must be taken against them.
  • If within an hour of the starting of the functioning judicial institutions, it is found that crowding is happening and physical distancing is not being maintained by individuals on whose shoulders the judicial institutions function then the Bar Association, the Registry and the District Administration should step in and see that proper physical distancing is maintained.
  • Administration to remove all encroachments within the time limit as was provided to the Nagar Nigam by the Court at an earlier date.
  • No pillion riders except a couple on two-wheelers are to be seated unless there is an extreme urgency.

Matter to be listed on 07-08-2020. [Inhuman Condition at Quarantine Centers and for Providing Better Treatment to Corona Positive v. State Of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 901, decided on 05-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Bibek Chaudhari and Soumen Sen, JJ., addressed a matter wherein a reporter published a story on witnessing the police personnel bribing a truck driver and further driving negligent get hold of the truck resulting in the death of a person.

Petitioner a reporter of ETV Bharat made a news report stating, inter alia that some police personnel was collecting bribe from a truck loaded with sand and while chasing the truck, the vehicle owned by the police department was being driven in a rash and negligent manner.

The result of the rash and negligent driving caused the death of a person.

Above was the prima facie reason for lodging a complaint against the petitioner.

Bench on perusal of the materials on record stated that, it is a fundamental right of a press reporter to publish any news, which may not be palatable to the administration.

In order to stifle and muzzle the voice of the reporter this case has been registered against the petitioner.

Court also noted the fact that the police have taken cognizance of the report which prima facie discloses the offences committed by its own personnel.

Hence, in view of the above, Police Superintendent of the District concerned has been directed to initiate enquiry regarding registration of the FIR against the ETV reporter and to investigate about the collection of money by the police personnel, the incident of which has been published by the reporter and to take appropriate action against the offenders.

Therefore, the petitioner shall be released on bail. [Avishek Dutta Roy, In Re., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1319, decided on 30-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon, JJ., dismissed the petition filed by a Lieutenant Colonel, Indian Army challenging the Social Media Ban Policy of Indian Army.

Lieutenant Colonel with the Indian Army filed a petition seeking a writ of mandamus directing respondents to withdraw their policy banning petitioners and other members of the Indian Army from using social networking platforms.

The said policy requires the petitioner and other members of the Indian Army to delete their accounts from social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Petitioner also sought a declaration that respondent 2 Director General of Military Intelligence is not empowered under the Constitution of India or under any other law, to modify, amend or abrogate the fundamental rights of the petitioner and other members of the Armed Forces.

Bench on perusal of the policy as well as other voluminous documents, stated that the policy is:

  • an outcome of constantly evolving intelligence of security threats and assessment of security safeguards needed
  • to plug the gaps and meet the ever-threatening electronic and cyberinfrastructure
  • an outcome of the paradigm shift in the intelligence activities of hostile nations; increased popularity of various social media platforms; the vulnerability of unsuspecting military personnel
  • necessitated by the directives, instructions and policies issued from time to time, advising the military personnel to regulate the use of social media websites, failing to meet the threat
  • virtual impossibility to keep track of lacs of online profiles or to identify the fictitious enemy profiles
  • on assessment of the different modes adopted to honey trap, not necessarily in the conventional sense ;
  • an outcome of the assessment of the vulnerability of different social media platforms.

Further, Bench relied on the Supreme Court decision in Ex-Armymen’s Protection Services (P) Ltd. v.  Union of India (2014) 5 SCC 409, wherein it was held that (i) the decision on whether the requirements of national security outweigh the duty of fairness on a particular case is for the government and not for the Courts; the government alone have access to the necessary information and in any event, the judicial process is unsuitable for reaching decisions on national security; (ii) those who are responsible for the national security must be the sole judges of what the national security requires and it is undesirable that such matter should be made the subject matter of evidence in a Court of law or otherwise discussed in public; (iii) what is in the interest of national security is not a question of law – it is a matter of policy and it is not for the Court to decide whether something is in interest of State or not; and, (iv) once the State is of the stand that the issue involves national security, the Court shall not disclose the reasons to the affected party.

High Court on perusal of the impugned policy found the same be suffering from the vice of non-application of mind or being not based on any material on record or being without proper deliberations.

Court stated that it does not appreciates the pleading of the petitioner as a senior officer in the Army, of army personnel being treated as slaves and the government not trusting its army.

Court noted that warfare and inter-country rivalries and animosities today are not confined to accession of territory and destruction of installations and infrastructure of enemy countries but also extend to influencing and affecting the economies and political stability of enemy country including by inciting civil unrest and disturbance and influencing the political will of the citizens of the enemy country.

Hence, if the government on complete assessment has concluded that permitting the use of certain social networking websites by defence personnel enables the enemy countries to gain an edge, Court would be loath to interfere.

In view of the above, the petition was dismissed. [Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 915, decided on 05-08-2020]


Brief News 

Delhi High Court dismisses the challenge to the Court’s Order wherein an Indian Army Personnel was directed to delete his social media accounts from “Facebook” and Instagram in consonance of the Social Media Ban Policy for Indian Army.

Earlier, a petition was filed impugning the policy of respondent 2 Director General of Military Intelligence, to the extent it bans the petitioner and other members of Indian Army from using social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

To the said petition, Bench had stated that only after perusing the policy counsels be heard.

“we are of the view that the counsels be heard after we have had an occasion to peruse the policy and if the document prescribing the policy does not record the reasons therefor, the document containing the reasons for the policy.”


Read More:

Del HC | Indian Army’s policy of social media ban for its members to be submitted in a sealed cover for perusal of Court

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of T.V. Nalawade and M.G. Sewlikar, JJ., directed that the persons who are aggrieved with regard to the care and treatment amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic can approach the Court directly.

Court has taken suo moto cognizance to see that all the authorities from all the districts which are under Court’s jurisdiction become active and they remain active till the virus is active.

Bench further observed that, the Court had earlier in of the orders directed the authorities to supply information with regard to the steps taken by them to contain the spread of virus in the village area.

“…on one hand the number of infected persons in city area is coming down on the other hand the number of infected persons from rural area is going up and the trend is still in upward direction.”

Though the inter-district travel has been prevented till 31-08-2020, yet, persons from cities like Pune, Mumbai, Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), etc. returned to their native places also some have bought properties in smaller cities and shifted themselves due to the virus spread.

In the line with the observations, another observation by the Court was when Justice T.V. Nalawade went for Court inspection to Jalna. He went with necessary pass and at the entry point of Jalna, he noticed that there was no strict checking and police force posted there were not asking to show pass to anybody. Casual inquiry was being made with the travellers and they were allowing the vehicles from Aurangabad side to Jalna side. This approach must have helped in spreading of the virus in the parts of this region.

Strict vigil needs to be kept and unless that is done, the authorities will not be in a position to control the things.

Further with regard to public servants, Court stated that,

“…in the situation which is created by the virus the public servants need to be tested and the servants who are useless need to be removed from the service by fling complaints against them in police station under the special Enactments like Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, Disaster Management Act, 2005 etc.”

Further, the Court expects that every order made by this Court is communicated to the authorities from all the districts which are under the jurisdiction of this Court. These orders need to be communicated to the private institutions like private hospitals as action can be taken against them under the provisions of Special Enactments.

Another complaint that the Court noted was of an infected person who had no supply of oxygen and was complaining about breathlessness, but nobody was there to supply oxygen to him. Eventually, he died that night.

Culpable Homicide not amounting to Murder

Bench stated that, when such grievance as stated above are present, it becomes the duty of the authorities concerned to fix the responsibility and give the complaint to police as such conduct is not less offence of than culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

CCTV System

Court wants affidavit of all the authorities or concerned officers to show that there is an installation of a CCTV system in isolation centers. CCTV systems should be installed in private hospitals also where the treatment is being given to infected persons.

Court added that, in our society, there are many who cannot afford to pay charges of private hospitals. It is learned that many poor persons and the persons who have no influence are not able to get admissions in hospitals even when they are infected.

Hence, in view of the above circumstances, the Court allows all those persons who have a grievance with regard to the care and treatment of infected persons to approach the Court directly.

State to supply information in respect of reservation of beds in designated hospitals and use of those beds. Information about the availability of ventilators and the deaths due to the non-availability of ventilators also needs to be supplied.

Information on action taken against negligence shown in treatment to be given to the Court.[Registrar (Judicial) v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 836, decided on 31-07-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by media reports, use of “hookah” in public places has been banned by Delhi Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The use of hookah with or without tobacco in public places including restaurants, bars, etc. has been prohibited.

“Smokers may also already have lung diseases or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase the risk of serious illness.”

According to the order, Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as smoking means the fingers are in contact with the lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus, the health department said in an order.

Mouthpieces and hoses used for smoking could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings, hence the use of hookah has been prohibited in Delhi.


[Source: Economic Times]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Atul Sreedharan, J., requested Indian Railways to re-prioritize the berth allotment by giving the highest priority to pregnant women, then to senior citizens and thereafter to VVIPs.

Public Interest Litigation

A PIL was registered suo-motu by Court with regard to certain measures regarding railway journeys in the public interest.

Genesis

PIL transpires from an event wherein, a train journey was undertaken by a Judge of this Court while travelling from Gwalior to Jabalpur on an official visit.

When the train reached the Katni-Murwara station, the Judge got off the train for a cup of tea and suddenly, the train started pulling out from the platform without blowing its horn. The Judge was put to great inconvenience and the accompanying hazard of boarding the running train.

In view of the above incident, few suggestions were made by the Judge with the intent of ensuring a comfortable journey for passengers.

Following are the three suggestions put forth by the Judge:

  1. “It would be in the interest of the public at large that some light signal/sound be fixed on each bogie enabling the passengers outside the train to be alert prior to departure of train with a view to avoid mis-happening/accident.
  2. If the website/app is updated by displaying the position of the seats/berths to be allotted at the time of making reservation, that would be more convenient and suitable for the public in general.
  3. The size/number of doors of the bogies should be increased or in the alternative, duration of stoppage of the trains should be increased from two minute to at least five minute, to make the people smooth and easy while boarding of getting off the train.”

Respondent in view of the above-made suggestions stated that, as regard the first suggestion, the train does not move without at least two whistles and without a display of the green/amber signal on the platform in front of each train. Further instructions have been issued to the staff concerned that greater caution and care should be taken to ensure that the horn of the engine is loud and audible.

Adding to the above, it was stated that the modification of the coach requires a policy decision and design approval affecting thousands of trains all over the country and that it would not be possible to switch over to a new system of signalling overnight or even over months.

With regard to the second suggestion made, respondent stated that though berths which are vacant for allotment are not displayed on the official website of the railways, a comparison with the airlines would not be an accurate assessment of the problem.

IT experts associated with the railways have stated that providing information relating to vacant berths and their position in the coach is presently not possible.

Further, while answering the issue of granting lower berths to senior citizens has stated that in the priority list of the railways, the VVIPs like ministers, Supreme Court/High Court Judges etc., fall very high and they have to be first allotted the lower berths. After the VVIPs are accommodated, priorities are given to pregnant women and senior citizens. The respondent expressed their inability to manage to the extent that each and every person should be given the lower berth.

With regard to widening the doors or increasing the stoppage time of the trains respondent stated that widening the size of the doors will decrease the passenger carrying capacity of the coach and will also compromise the safety of the passengers. 

Bench stated that Court cannot force respondent to incur expenses which the respondent does not consider as economically viable and also on account of the large number of trains on which the said measures would have to be implemented which makes the proposals difficult, also impossible to implement.

Hence, Court cannot pass a judicial order in matters which would interfere with aspects of policy relating to the respondent for which this Court lacks the technical expertise to appreciate the difficulties that would be faced by the railways in giving effect to the suggestions.

Though Court did request the respondent to consider the re-prioritising the berth allotment by giving the highest priority to pregnant women, then to senior citizens and thereafter to VVIPs.

As regards the priority of allocation of the lower berth is concerned, the same as it exists on date is unpragmatic. Pregnant women are most vulnerable on account of their medical condition and it would cause them great inconvenience in occupying the middle or upper berth.

Passengers suffering from terminal illness or life threatening ailments like cancer and those who are physically or mentally challenged, be considered as priority no.1 for allotment of the lower berth.

The senior citizens who on account of their advanced age and attendant medical issues should be considered at priority no. 2

Lastly, the VVIP’s who are usually serving state functionaries are invariably those blessed with better health and so be considered at priority no. 3.

In view of the above directions, petition was disposed of. [In Reference v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine MP 1658, decided on 27-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Attau Rahman Masoodi and Rajeev Singh, JJ., addressed the matter wherein the Government Counsel who has been alleged for raping a young practicing lawyer, has challenged the FIR lodged against him and sought a direction to police to not arrest him.

Present matter is pertaining to a complaint filed by a Lawyer against a Government Counsel who raped the lawyer in her chamber.

Counsel for the informant prayed for a week’s time to file counter affidavit, to which Court granted the said time.

A.G.A. pointed out that the contents of the FIR reflect that some relevant material was left at the place of occurrence i.e. chamber of the petitioner(accused). In the fitness of things, he prayed that such material may also be taken into custody by the investigating agency as the chamber of the petitioner(accused) is sealed.

Hence, in view of the above, Court in view of being satisfied that a case for intervention is made held that the petitioner (accused) may not be arrested under Sections 328, 354(A), 376 IPC till next date of listing.

Court also directed that petitioner shall co-operate with the investigation by making available as and when called for. He may also not indulge in any activity subjecting the complainant to any intimidation or causing any threat to her life or property. [Shailendra Singh Chauhan v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 890, decided on 31-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., rejected the bail application in view of the offence of gang rape against the applicant.

Applicant was punishable for offences under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3, 4, 5(G), 5(J)(II), 6, 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Applicant’s Counsel Subhash with Samarth Karmarkar, Supriyanka Maurya, Yashpal Purohit submitted that the applicant had been roped into the charge under Section 376(d) IPC without any rhyme and reason.

DNA Report of the child born out of the alleged act of sexual assault did not trace the applicant as the father of the baby girl.

Hence the case for grant of bail was made out according to the applicant.

According to the prosecutrix, she was made to visit the applicant by her friends and then taken to the applicant’s house.

Later, prosecutrix was left alone in the company of applicant, thereafter the applicant and his two friends in a pre-planned manner arrived in his house with some drinking and eating stuff. Prosecutrix on consuming some drink felt dizzy and went off to sleep.

Applicant asked the prosecutrix to rest in bed-room, after which she was raped by applicant and his two friends.

On fearing the outcome of the act, prosecutrix did not reveal the incident or the fact that she was pregnant, to her mother. Prosecutrix was below 18 yrs of age at the time when the incident took place. She delivered a baby girl which has been forwarded to an orphanage and is leading her life there.

Bench took into consideration the fact that the charge against the applicant is serious one of committing gang-rape and taking advantage o a situation of a poor helpless victim girl. He has indulged with two other people into an act of rape.

“Mere fact that the DNA report do not support the paternity is not ground to release the applicant at this stage.”

Court notes that fact that the applicant might pressurize the victim girl on being released, hence no case for his release on bail is made out. [Vaibhav Bhanudas Ubale v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 835, decided on 24-07-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Bimal Julka, Chief Information Commissioner, instructed Ministry of Law and Justice.to examine the RTI Application to provide a clear, cogent and precise response to the appellant.

Appellant sought information regarding the photocopy of the request sent by the Government of India to Chief Justices of High Courts for ensuring due consideration to be given to suitable candidates belonging to SCs, STs, OBCs, Minorities and Women while sending proposals for appointment as Judges of those High Courts; photocopy of all replies received from Chief Justices, if any, till the date of RTI application.

Commission observed that RTI Act, 2005 stipulated time limits in its various provisions relating to responding to RTI Applications, transfer of applications, filing and disposing of first appeal to ensure that a culture of information dissemination is strengthened so that a robust functioning of the democracy gets established. 

Commission also noted that it should be the endeavour of the CPIO to ensure that maximum assistance should be provided to the RTI applicants to ensure the flow of information.

Commission instructs the Respondent to FAA, D/o Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice to examine the RTI Application/ First Appeal and provide a clear, cogent and precise response to the Appellant within a period of 30 days.

In view of the above, appeal was disposed of. [Venkatesh Nayak v. CPIO & Secy., Ministry of Law and Justice, CIC/JUSTC/A/2018/153653-BJ, decided on 24-07-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ and Sarang V. Kotwal, J., has advised the Maharashtra Government to take an informed decision regarding the concerns voiced by advocates and their staff. The Court was hearing PILs which sought inclusion of advocates and legal practitioners in the list of essential service providers.

In the present petition, a legal practitioner sought exemption of lawyers and their staff from the restrictions of the lockdown for the purpose of Court work as well as for an order on the respondents to consider the advocates and legal service providers as belonging to the category of “essential services”.

Coordinate Bench Decision

Coordinate Bench on hearing petitioner’s concern, stated that inclusion of a particular category of persons within “essential services” is within the exclusive domain of the State Legislature and that no mandatory direction, much less any direction, can be issued to the State Legislature to categorize advocates and their staff as providing “essential services” and hence had rejected the same. However, liberty was granted to file representation before the State Government. Pursuant to the order, representation was filed before the State but no decision has been taken.

Concerns

Advocates and their staff are not presently being allowed to avail train services. Diasbled thereby, a major section of the advocates have been precluded from participating in whatever physical hearings that are being conducted and in assisting the Courts.

Hence, the bench asked the State to apply its mind and take an informed decision with regard to the concerns voiced by the advocates as well as their staff.

State must not be ignorant that access to justice is now recognised as a Fundamental Right and advocates and their staff constitute an integral part of the entire system, which is dedicated to “delivery of justice”.

Court asked the matter to be placed on 7-08-2020. [Chirag Chanani v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 832 , decided on 31-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Pratibha M. Singh, J., while addressing the matter with regard to issuance of degree certificates of students from Delhi University held that,

DU ought to take a pragmatic approach in this matter and seriously consider the option of setting up a special cell, which would entertain requests of students on email, for digital-certificates, mark-sheets, transcripts etc. and installing the software necessary for issuance of degree-certificates with security features, to be sent online through email in a timely manner.

Petitioners graduated from Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi in 2018 but have not received their degree-certificate till date.

Petitioners submitted that they wished to apply for their residency programmes in the United States and to sit in the USMLE examination. As per the petitioners, the date by which the degree-certificates would have to be uploaded for processing to the ‘My ECFMG’ mobile application would be 15th August, 2020.

Court has repeatedly faced petitions by students of Delhi University seeking their transcripts and degree-certificates.

Students especially doctors providing their services during the COVID-19 pandemic ought not to have been forced to approach this Court for seeking their degree-certificates, especially when they graduated two years ago.

For the above stated grievance by the students, Dean has not responded.

Bench stated that, there is no reason as to why DU should not be adopting technically advanced methods to ensure that the students are not inconvenienced.

Further adding to the above, it was stated that students ought not to be forced to approach Courts for issuance of their mark-sheets, transcripts, degree-certificates etc., which ought to be issued in the natural course within a reasonable time. [Dr Akshita Khosla v. University of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 830 , decided on 22-07-2020]