Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Atul Sreedharan, J., addressed the instant contempt petition. The Court while expressing concern over State inaction, stated, “The inaction on the part of the State for a good seven years shows the sheer insensitivity of the State and its bureaucracy and is worthy of dereliction in the strongest terms.”

The present contempt petition was filed for non-compliance of order passed in W.P. No. 806 of 2013 on 18-01-2013. The facts of the case were that the petitioner who was a daily wage cook, employed in the Government Post-Matric Scheduled Caste Boys Hostel filed a petition seeking direction to the respondents, that regular pay-scale be granted to him in the light of circular dated 17-03-1978. It was submitted that the aforesaid circular gave daily wage employees engaged in the Tribal Welfare Department, benefit which had been given by the order passed in Dhanu Bai v. State of M.P., (W.A. No. 85/2011). The Court had ordered the State to consider if the order of Dhanu Bai case would squarely apply on the petitioner; and the State was given liberty to take into consideration any subsequent circular issued by the State Government in respect of grant of wages to daily wage.

The Court observed that, undue liberty that had been granted from time to time and again by this Court for the compliance of its orders, was being taken for granted. The abject disdain of the State and its functionaries to the orders passed by this Court was only on account of the leniency shown by this Court. Time and again, looking at the work load of the State and its functionaries, this Court has been loath to proceed against the guilty in contempt. This has emboldened them repeatedly and they put the orders passed by this Court in the back-burn. It had taken seven years to the State to come out with a pathetic response. The Court said,

The power that is given to the State and its functionaries are not without concomitant responsibility. Rudyard Kipling, a famous author whose association with the State is legendary on account of his work ” The Jungle Book”, has observed “power without responsibility – the prerogative of the ****** throughout the ages. Time and again, the State has, by its violation or its non-compliance to the orders passed by this Court; shown that it is an institution that prefers to have powers without responsibility.

 Considering that the respondents were aware with the order passed by this Court at least from 03-04-2013, if not before that, the Court remarked that, the inaction on the part of the State for a good seven years shows the sheer insensitivity of the State and its bureaucracy and is worthy of dereliction in the strongest terms. It was further stated by the Court, “The State through its inactivity is partly responsible for the flood of writ petition before this Court and after the orders passed by this Court, it leads to filing of the contempt petition because the State and its instrumentalities do not comply with the order passed by this Court within the time period given in the order.”

In the light of above, the instant petition was disposed of with the direction to the respondent to take a decision within a period of two weeks from passing of this order. [Sona Bai v. Principal Secretary Tribal Welfare Department, Mantralaya, CONC-1455-2014, decided on 13-01-2021]

Appointments & TransfersNews

President transfers Justice Sanjay Yadav, Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, as a Judge of the Allahabad High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Allahabad High Court.


Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

Transfer Orders

Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court transferred as a Judge of the Karnataka High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Karnataka High Court.

ORDER


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 30-12-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints Justice Sanjay Yadav, senior-most Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, to perform the duties of the office of Chief Justice of that High Court with effect from 30th September 2020 consequent upon the retirement of Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal, Chief Justice, Madhya Pradesh High Court.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 22-09-2020]

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]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

A final year law student from Indore has written a letter to the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court raising concern over the consequential threat on the lives of millions of students by the order of University Grants Commission regarding compulsory conduct of final term examination. The letter also seeks to draw the attention of the Chief Justice towards the impassive levying of fee by the colleges and universities even in the times of great crisis not only in Indian economy but also in the global market.

Avni Jain, a final year law student of Department of Law, PIMR, Indore, through her letter, brought to the Court’s notice that despite of the announcement by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister that the final year students shall be marked according to their highest performance in the previous year examination, the University Grants Commission, on 6th July 2020, ordered the compulsory conduct of final year examination by the end of September, 2020 in offline (pen & paper)/ online/ blended (online + offline) mode. She termed this Notification to be in violation of Article 21 and said forcing students to give offline exams is in absolute violation of fundamental right to life enshrined under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.

Regarding offline exams, Avni states in the letter,

“If the college or university conducts online exams the students are exposed to the myriads of problems which might arise in an online examination like unstable internet connection, crashing of computers and laptops, electricity power cuts etc. Further giving online exams would be impossible for students who do not have personal computers or laptops. These are some serious issues which must be taken into account before asking students to sit for online examination.”

The letter also highlights the concern over the conduct of ‘special exams’ and states that the said order is highly uncertain as no one knows when this pandemic ends and when would it become feasible for universities to conduct these special exams.UGC in its order has provided that the final year students who are unable to appear in the examination “may be given opportunity to appear in the special examination which may be conducted by university as and when feasible”.

“By reason of these uncertainties students are unable to plan further course of action as without a degree students are unable to get the jobs, they wouldn’t get admission for higher studies, they wouldn’t be able to sit in competitive exams and eventually it’ll make students to lose their entire academic year. These facts are causing massive impact on mental condition of students.”

The letter further draws the attention towards the practice of impassive levying of fee by the various colleges and universities even in the times of great crisis not only in Indian economy but also in the global market.

“It is pertinent to mention here that in view of the Covid 19 induced lockdown, several parents have undergone substantial pay cuts and even layoffs. It is extremely difficult for a large section of the students to even pay their tuition fee, still several colleges in Madhya Pradesh without any empathy towards student community are charging them for the expenses which never incurred due to lockdown like – Infrastructure/development fee, library fee, Internet fee, Co-curricular activities fee, other fee and so on.”

The letter goes on to state that if the college conducts online exams then students are required to buy own computers/laptops and pay for personal internet connection. Therefore charging thousands of rupees in the name of examination form fee is not justifiable and is arbitrary and unreasonable.


Read the full text of the letter here.

Read the details of UGC’s revised guidelines on conduct of final year exams here

Appointments & TransfersNews

The President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Sanjay Yadav, Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, to perform the duties of the office of Chief Justice of that High Court with effect from the date Shri Justice Ravi Shanker Jha relinquishes the charge as Acting Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court consequent upon his appointment as Chief Justice of the Punjab & Haryana High Court.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 05-10-2019]

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appointed (i) Shri Vishal Dhagat and (ii) Shri Vishal Mishra, to be Judges of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in that order of seniority, with effect from the date, they assume charge of their respective offices.


[Notification dt. 22-05-2019]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

Proposal for the appointment of following five Advocates, as Judges of the Madhya Pradesh High Court:
1. Divesh Jain,
2. Sanjay Sarwate,
3. Archana Kher,
4. Vishal Dhagat, and
5. Vishal Mishra

“Collegium had an interaction with all the recommendees on 1st April, 2019. On the basis of interaction and having regard to all relevant factors, the Collegium is of the considered view that S/Shri (1) Vishal Dhagat and (2) Vishal Mishra (mentioned at Sl. Nos. 4 and 5 above) are suitable for being appointed as Judges of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.”

“As regards S/Shri (1) Divesh Jain, (2) Sanjay Sarwate, and (3) Smt. Archana Kher, (mentioned at Sl. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 above) having regard to all relevant factors and the material placed in the file, the Collegium is of the considered view that the proposal for their elevation deserves to be remitted to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.”

Collegium comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and S.A. Bobde and N.V. Ramana, JJ. resolves to recommend that S/Shri (1) Vishal Dhagat, and (2) Vishal Mishra, Advocates be appointed as Judges of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Their inter se seniority be fixed as per the existing practice.


[Resolution dt. 10-05-2019]

Collegium Resolutions

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court:  In an order passed by Sujoy Paul J.  upholding the law laid down by the Supreme Court, it was held that the Reserved Category candidates are entitled to be considered against the posts for the General Category and the only requirement shall be that such candidate should be eligible in all respects except for the caste.

In the instant case, two petitions were put before the Court for consideration. In the first petition the petitioner, who was a SC category candidate had been given compassionate appointment against a General category post initially, but the appointment had been cancelled by an order for the reason that no posts in the “SC category” had been vacant. In the second petition, the petitioner being an ST category candidate was denied appointment on the grounds that no post in the “ST category” had been lying vacant.

The Court observed that in both the cases, non-availability of reserved category post was the reason for cancellation and the non-grant of appointment of the candidates. Having heard the submissions of the counsel for the parties, the Court relied on the law laid down in R. K. Sabharwal vs. State of Punjab  (1995) 2 SCC 754 and held that the reserved category candidates cannot be denied appointment against a General category post merely because of being reserved category candidate and are entitled to be considered against a General category post, given that they are eligible in all respects except for the caste. The only test should be that the candidates shall fulfill all eligibility, qualifications, requirements, etc. for the General category post. It was also held in the order that, however, General category candidates would not have any such right to be considered against a reserved category post. The Court held that, in the support the principle law laid down by the Supreme Court, rejection of the petitioner’s candidature/appointment cannot be countenanced. Therefore, the petition was allowed and the impugned orders were set aside. [Jitendra vs. State of M.P., 2016 SCC OnLine MP 1681, Ordered on 20.07.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Stating that the Trial Court should never consider itself as a “Post Officer or a mouth piece of the Prosecution”, the bench comprising of Atul Sreedharan, J., said that Section 227 and 228 of the CrPC make it incumbent upon the Session Court to consider the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith and thereafter having heard the accused and the prosecution, decide whether the accused shall be charged for the offence or discharged.

In the instant case, the material on record allegedly shows that the Petitioners has expressed an intention to beat up the deceased, but the investigation, including the post mortem report, had at no point suggested that they had succeeded in doing so. There was no evidence to show that they had been near him that day, or that they had been the proximate cause, or had abetted the deceased’s suicide by instigation, pressure or assistance. The Court hence, allowed the Criminal Revision petition filed by the Petitioners against the framing of charges under Section. 306, Penal Code by the Trial Court, thereby discharging the Petitioners.

The Court noted that to charge a person under Section 306 IPC, as per various Supreme Court rulings, it was essential for prosecution to establish prima facie that the actions of the accused were directly responsible for inducing the deceased to commit suicide, and satisfy the ingredients of Section 107 IPC. The Court cited Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal (1979) 3 SCC  4 wherein it was laid down that the Trial Court at the stage of framing of charges was obliged to sift through the evidence only to the extent necessary to determine if a prima facie charge was constituted by the evidence, and it was competent to discharge an accused if the evidence disclosed ‘some suspicion’, not ‘grave suspicion’. Reasons are required to discharge, but to frame, an opinion suffices, as supported by the holding in Kanti Bhadra Shah v. State of West Bengal (2000) 1 SCC 722. However, the court delineated that pursuant to State of Maharashtra v. Som Nath Thapa (1996) 4 SCC 659, at the trial court stage the Trial Court ‘should (a) apply its judicial mind to the materials placed on the record as (b) framing of charges substantially affects the liberty of the person concerned’.

The Court held that Section 228 (1) CrPC made it essential for the Court to arrive at an opinion, and that such an opinion could only be formed on the ‘basis’ of materials on record; a ‘basis’ that it was essential for the Trial Court to state. Hence, it was held that the impugned order was bad in law for deficiency in stating the basis for the opinion that charges be framed under Section 306 IPC.  [Ramnaresh V State of Madhya Pradesh, 2016 SCC OnLine MP 838, 14-06-2016]