High Court Round UpLegal RoundUpTribunals/Regulatory Bodies/Commissions Monthly Roundup

Interesting picks from this week’s legal stories from High Courts to District Courts


Alimony


Whether husband is entitled to claim alimony under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955? Bom HC decides

A conjoint reading of Sections 24 and 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 would reveal that both the sections in the Act of 1955 are enabling provisions and confer a right on the indigent spouse to claim maintenance either pendente lite or in the nature of permanent alimony and maintenance.

Read full report here…


 Karta


 Daughters and widow of a deceased would inherit properties of deceased as tenants in common or joint tenants? Bom HC explains 

Mangesh S. Patil, J., expressed that, by virtue of Section 19 of the Hindu Succession Act, it has been explicitly made clear that if two and more heirs succeed together to the property and in the estate, they take the property as tenants in common and not as joint tenants.

Read full report here…


Compassionate Appointment


Illegitimate child’s right to be considered for Compassionate appointment: Read what Chh HC says

Sanjay K. Agarwal, J., held that an illegitimate son would be entitled to consideration on compassionate ground and cannot be denied consideration on the ground that he is the illegitimate son of the deceased Government servant.

Read full report here…


Marriage Expenses


Can unmarried daughters claim expenses of marriage from their parents under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956? Chh HC addresses

While stating that, in Indian society, normally expenses are required to be incurred for pre-marriage and also at the time of marriagethe Division Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and Sanjay S. Agrawal, JJ., held that unmarried daughters have a right to claim expenses of marriage from their parents under the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956.

Read full report here…


Maternity Leave


Can maternity leave benefits extend beyond the period when contractual period of an ad hoc employee comes to an end? Del HC analyses

In a claim of maternity benefit by a contractual employee, the Division Bench of Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh, JJ., expressed that, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 Act is a social legislation that should be worked in a manner that progresses not only the best interest of the women-employee but also of the child, both at the pre-natal and post-natal stage.

Read full report here…


Strikes


Bar on Government servants to engage in strikes? Ker HC elaborates

While expressing that, it is the duty of the welfare Government to protect not only the citizens but to continue with, all the Government work as expected, the Division Bench of S. Manikumar, CJ and Shaji P. Chaly, J., directed that Government servants should be prevented from engaging in a strike.

Read full report here…


Evidentiary Value of Newspaper Reports


Newspaper reports are of no evidentiary value and Courts would be transgressing their well-settled limitation if cognizance were to be taken of such unsubstantiated and unverified reports

In a matter wherein, details were sought with regard to Supreme Court Collegium meeting held on 12-12-2018, Yashwant Varma, J., expressed that, newspaper reports are of no evidentiary value and Courts would be clearly transgressing their well-settled limitation if cognizance were to be taken of such unsubstantiated and unverified reports.

Read full report here…


Anand Marriage Act


State directed to take steps to frame and notify Rules for Registration of Sikh Marriages

The Division Bench of Sanjaya Kumar Mishra, ACJ. and Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, J. took up a PIL filed by the petitioner commanding the respondent State to notify the Rules under Anand Marriage Act, 1909 and also to issue guidelines to register the marriage of people of Sikh Community under the Anand Marriage Act, 1909.

Read full report here…


Bribes


Every Advocate is a Court officer and part & parcel of the justice delivery system: Madras HC found a Govt. Advocate demanding bribes at the cost of justice

The Division Bench of K. Kalyanasundaram and R. Hemalatha, JJ., expressed that, the Government advocate being the representative of the Government has to act in an honest manner. If he/she goes around with the intention to make money at the cost of justice, only chaos will prevail.

Read full report here…


Insolvency


Logix Insolvent? NCLT initiates insolvency proceedings against Logix City Developers

The Coram of Bachu Venkat Balaram Das (Judicial Member) and Narender Kumar Bhola (Technical Member) initiates insolvency proceedings against Logix City Developers due to default in payment.

Read full report here…


Custody Parole


Merely because an accused is a Muslim, governed by personal laws, can be debarred from availing rights under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000? Delhi Court answers

In a matter for grant of custody parole, Dharmender Rana, ASJ-02, held that, merely because the accused is Muslim and governed by personal laws, he cannot be debarred from availing rights conferred upon him by Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

Read full report here…

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In a matter wherein, details were sought with regard to Supreme Court Collegium meeting held on 12-12-2018, Yashwant Varma, J., expressed that, newspaper reports are of no evidentiary value and Courts would be clearly transgressing their well-settled limitation if cognizance were to be taken of such unsubstantiated and unverified reports.

Petitioner challenged the order passed by the Central Information Commission on a second appeal which was preferred. The appeal itself was directed against a response which was preferred by the competent authority for the petitioner being provided the minutes and the resolution of the meeting of the Supreme Court Collegium stated to have been held on 12-12-2018.

Chief Information Commissioner held that in the absence of any resolution being passed, the petitioner had been correctly advised that in the absence of available information, no disclosure could possibly be made.

High Court’s attention was drawn to certain newspaper reports that reported certain statements to have been made by one of the member of the Collegium who was reported to have stated that certain decisions were, taken and had expressed disappointment that the same had not been uploaded.

The collegium, undisputedly, is a multi-member body whose decisions stand embodied in resolutions that may be ultimately drawn and signed. The disclosures made by the respondents when read carefully seem to indicate that no resolution with respect to the agenda items was drawn by members who constituted the Collegium on 12 December 2018.  

Further, it was observed that a “decision” taken by the collegium would necessarily have to be embodied in a “resolution” which is ultimately framed and signed by the members of that collective body.

That resolution alone would represent the collective decision taken or the majoritarian view which prevailed and was adopted.

The Bench stated that in the absence of any formal resolution coming to be adopted and signed by the members of the Collegium, the respondents rightly took the position that there was absence of material that was liable to be disclosed. [Anjali Bhardwaj v. CPIO, Supreme Court of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 905, decided on 30-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr. Prashant Bhushan and Mr. Rahul Gupta, Advs.

For the Respondent:

None

Patna High Court
Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Patna High Court: The Division Bench of Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Mohit Kumar Shah, JJ., expressed that:

[Order dated 15-04-2021]

“Constitutional Courts are duty bound to invoke the powers of judicial review and cannot afford to overlook palpable violation of fundamental rights of life and equality of citizens enshrined under Articles 21 and 14 respectively of the Constitution of India.”

On noting the alarming surge in COVID-19 Cases in the State of Bihar and the lack of facilities and healthcare system to meet the challenges arising out of the surge in cases as reported in print media I.A. No. 1 of 2021 was registered under the Orders of Chief Justice and has been placed before this Court in the Public Interest Litigation.

Newspaper reports, clippings of which are on record, portray a gloomy picture which reflected that on one hand there is a surge in COVID cases on an alarming proportion and on the other end, patients have been reportedly running helter-skelter to find beds in government hospitals.

It has also been reported that, COVID Beds in government hospitals are full in Patna. Newspaper Indian Express reported, based on experience of an individual that patients without contact face umpteen difficulties in getting admission even into private hospitals authorized to treat COVID patients.

Newspaper reports, though depict a very alarming and scary picture of the entire situation, having potential to expose the ground realities of health care system in the State, nonetheless, such reports cannot be made the sole basis for this Court to interfere and issue directions, exercising powers of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. 

Bench further remarked that the Court is mindful of the fact that providing healthcare facilities and meeting challenges arising out of spike of COVID cases in the State is an executive function of the State and Constitutional Courts do not step in for the said matters.

Additional Advocate General, Amrit presented certain data and statistics showing availability of infrastructure in various parts of the State of Bihar to take care of COVID patients. To this Court stated that the said data presents a different picture altogether in comparison to the one being reported.

Prima facie, Court opined that it is not satisfied with the said depiction.

Bench added that it has transpired that the COVID Care Centres (CCC), Dedicated COVID Health Centres (DCHS) and Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCH) are ill-equipped.

Press Briefing by the Government

Adding more to the above, High Court stated that people do not have the requisite information about the availability of the facilities being provided by the State Government, hence Court directed the Principal Secretary, Health Department to bring the said information in public domain through media and ensure that at-least once every day at a fixed time, a press briefing on behalf of the Government is made disclosing facts, illustratively, the number of COVID cases, the infrastructure which are available at various places in the State to admit and treat COVID patients and other cogent information which are required to be disseminated to the general public in public interest.

Black Marketing of Oxygen Cylinders

During the course of hearing, another fact that was noted was that there is scarcity of oxygen in various hospitals in the State of Bihar resulting into a kind of rush among the people of State to procure the same which as a consequence is creating a situation of black marketing.

To the above, Mr Amrit informed that a High Level Committee has been into the said matter and a solution would soon arrive for the same.

In response to Court’s query, Mr Amrit informed that once a person is tested positive after RT-PCR Test, State Government provides the patient with a COVID kit. He also added that earlier, State Government laboratories were not furnishing “Ct” value in the RT-PCR test reports, but now the same is being disclosed.

Elaborating more on his response, Court added that CT Scan Machines/facilities and Pulmonologist are available in Dedicated COVID Hospitals only, which are 11 in number. and steps are being taken to optimise the healthcare facilities to meet the recent challenges.

Bench stated that State Government may consider utilizing the facilities available in the premises of the newly established Medanta Hospital in PPE mode at Kankarbagh.

Assistance of Central Government

Court requested D. K.N. Singh, Additional Solicitor General of India to seek instructions from the Central Government regarding the issues which have emerged, particularly in relation to providing facilities at ESIC Hospital, Bhita, Patna and enhancing facilities at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna as also the mode and manner in which the Central Government is willing to help and assist the State Government to enable it to tide over the prevailing situation on account of the alarming surge in COVID- 19 cases in the State of Bihar.

State Government is directed to ensure that all Dedicated COVID Health Centres are equipped with portable X-ray machines as quickly as possible and initiation of process to acquire CT Scan machines for dedicated COVID Health Centres in each District of State of Bihar should also be considered.

[Order dated 17-04-2021]

Bench noted in its 15th April Order that on one hand, COVID patients were running helter-skelter for admission in COVID Care Centers/Dedicated COVID Care Centers/Dedicated COVID Hospitals, figures presented by the Health Department represented that a large number of the beds available for COVID patients were unoccupied.

To the above, Court stated that no acceptable logic came forth to explain the startling phenomenon, as admittedly patients in the state are being denied admission because of unavailability of beds, though lack of awareness among affected people about the availability of such facilities is being cited as one of the reasons for the mad rush to Patna Hospitals out of a sense of fury.

Another aspect of the data that puzzled the Bench was that admittedly there is a shortage of medical oxygen in the State, but the data of the State Government depicted that huge number of beds with oxygen are available and again the said contradiction remained unexplained.

  • Principal Secretary in the present hearing informed the Court of compliance of certain directions issue don 15th April, 2021.
  • Court directs the State Government to ensure that the portable X-ray machines are positively acquired and installed
  • in compliance of this Court’s observations and direction on 15.14.2021, so as to make the residents of Bihar known about the available infrastructure, the Department has initiated a system of daily media briefing, disclosing all relevant information relating to location wise availability of facilities and infrastructure for treating COVID patients.
  • CT values are being mentioned in the RT-PCR Reports.
  • Steps have been taken for emergency procurement of Remdesivir injection by invoking Section 50 of the Disaster Management Act.
  • Rajendranagar Eye Hospital, which is a government hospital, has been decided to be utilised for admitting patients suffering from COVID-19.
  • Steps have been taken to increase number of beds in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna (for short AIIMS, Patna) to 250 and Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences to 100
  • Manoj Kumar, the Executive Director, Bihar State Health Society, informed this Court that on an average 40,000 RT-PCR tests are being done in the State of Bihar per day, and steps to establish 9 more laboratories are being taken.
  • Apart from requisitioning liquid gas from the neighboring State of Jharkhand, the State Government and the Central Government are taking sincere measures for installation of Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) plants in the hospitals connected with various medical colleges in theState of Bihar.

Executive Director, Bihar State Health Society submit a report explaining the progress regarding installation of PSA plants on the next day. He may also explore the possibility of procuring High Flow Nasal Canula (HFNC) and submit a report inasmuch as the same is reported to be effective in improving oxygenation amongst patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.

Respondents to step up the speed/pace of RT-PCR tests in the State.

Court took note of the fact that State- Respondents have failed to regulate testing of such persons who are arriving in the State of Bihar from other States, who have the potential of spreading the disease.

“…minimum what is expected of the State-Respondents is to take all possible measures so as to ensure that persons coming from outside the State are either made to undergo rapid antigen test or they are able to show on the basis of the test reports available with them that they are not COVID positive. In case a person is found to be COVID positive, steps should to taken to ensure that he can reach a designated place for isolation or treatment with adequate and desired care and caution.”

Court while directing the Respondents-State of Bihar to submit a report regarding the available manpower and other infrastructure at listed the matter on 19-04-2021.[Shivani Kaushik v. Union of India, Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 353 of 2021, decided on 17-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner/s: Shivani Kaushik (In Person)

For the UOI: Dr K.N. Singh (ASG)

For the State: Anjani Kumar, AAG-4

For the Respondent 5: Mrs Binita Singh

For Respondent 6: Shivender Kishore, Sr. Advocate

For PMC: Prasoon Sinha

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ and Bhargav D. Karia, J., had a dialogue with the Senior most State Law Officers, Advocate General and Government Pleader expressing concern regarding the upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the State and requesting the State to take appropriate measures in order to check and control the rise in COVID-19 cases and its management.

It was stated that the said dialogue was widely reported in the media.

Bench noted that the newspapers, news channels have been flooded with the harrowing tales, unfortunate and unimaginable difficulties, unimaginable conditions of the infrastructure, shortfall and deficit of not only testing, availability of beds, ICU, but also the supply of oxygen and basic medicines like Ramdesivir, etc.

Further, the Court expressed that the above news could have been ignored if it would have been some stray news here and there, but the volume of the report in the leading newspapers having been nationwide circulation could not be ignored.

Articles from Indian Express and Times of India indicate that the State has been heading towards a health emergency of sorts.

Hence, in view of the above High Court directed the Registry to register the present matter as a suo moto fresh Public Interest Litigation titled — “In Re : Uncontrolled Upsurge and Serious Management Issues in COVID Control”.

The above Order was passed on 11th April, 2021 and was to be heard today i.e. 12-04-2021.

Here’s the update on today’s order:

State’s stand was justified by Mr Kamal Trivedi, Advocate General. He submitted that the newspaper reports were not accurate in reporting except for a couple of incidents where he admitted of State agencies’ fault.

To the above submission, Court stated that it would require an appropriate affidavit duly sworn by an officer of the rank of Principal Secretary placing the submissions of Mr Trivedi and further steps which the Government may take in the meantime.

Matter to be again placed and take up on 15-04-2021. [Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, R/WP (PIL) No. 53 of 2021, decided on 12-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

SUO MOTU (25) for the Applicant(s) No. 1

MR KAMAL TRIVEDI, SR. ADVOCATE WITH MS. MANISHA LAVKUMAR, GOVERNMENT PLEADER WITH MR DHARMESH DEVNANI & MR CHINTAN DAVE, AGPs. FOR THE STATE RESPONDENTS

MR DEVANG VYAS, LEARNED ADDL. SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR THE UNION OF INDIA

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench comprising of G. Ramesh, ACJ. and S.S. Sundar, J., addressed a PIL which focussed on recommending the President of India to invoke Article 356 (1) (a) of the Constitution in the State of Tamil Nadu to impose “emergency”.

The affidavit filed in support of the present writ petition stated about the pollution of ground water on account of Sterlite industry in Thoothukudi and violence, recovery of monies from the State Ministers, non-filing of charge sheet for more than 15 months by the Election Commission of India, gross violations in hoisting digital and flex banners, further, crimes against children and many police officials being held guilty on the basis of several accusations against them.

The High Court observed that the instances placed upon were based on mere newspaper reports and no serious incidents have been placed in order for imposing emergency. Further, the Court while stating that “One person may feel that there is law and order problem and for some other, it is not so, depending upon one’s perception”, held that the present writ petition was filed only for the purpose of publicity and hence it stood to be dismissed. [K.R. Ramaswamy v. Secretary, the President of India,2018 SCC OnLine Mad 2551, Order dated 07-08-2018]