Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Abhay Chaturvedi, JJ., allowed a Habeas Corpus Petition and allowed the petitioner to stay with his wife, and directing the authorities to provide her with adequate protection.

In the instant case, the corpus, Urmila, a Government teacher posted at Jalore District, was staying at Nari Niketan, Jodhpur expressed her willingness to stay with the petitioner, her husband, with whom she was legally married. However, she conveyed an apprehension that she and her family might be under scrutiny and subject to harassment from the members of the community. The Counsel representing the petitioner, Pradeep Choudhary, thus prayed to the Court for providing adequate measures against such mishaps.

The High Court, in an in-camera proceeding, took into consideration the prayer of the petitioner and directed the police authorities to accompany the petitioner, his wife, and the family till they reach the matrimonial home. The petitioner was also provided an assurance of necessary steps to be taken in case of any untoward incident taking place by the members of the society.[Dinesh Suthar v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1229, decided on 01-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The Bench of Sanjay Kumar Gupta, J. allowed a petition seeking protection, filed by a couple who performed inter-caste marriage.

The petitioners out of their free will and consent executed a marriage agreement duly attested by notary. They also married as per Hindu rites and customs at Arya Samaj Janipur, Jammu. As per the affidavit filed by them, it was evident that they were major at the time they solemnized the marriage. Father of the girl (Respondent 5) was vehemently opposed to their marriage; and he harassed and threatened to kill them. This led the petitioners to restrict their movement and being aggrieved, they filed the instant petition.

The Court relied on Shafin Jahan v. Ashokan K.M., (2018) 16 SCC 368 to hold that right to marry a person of one’s choice is an integral aspect of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Reliance was further placed on Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475, wherein the Apex Court directed that the administration/police authorities throughout the country will see to it that if any boy or girl who is a major undergoes inter-caste or inter religious marriage with a woman or man who is a major, the couple are not harassed by any one nor subjected to threats or acts of violence, anyone who gives such threats or harasses or commits acts of violence either himself or at his instigation, is taken to task by instituting criminal proceedings by the police against such persons and further stern action is taken against such persons as provided by law”.

In view of the above, this petition was allowed and official respondent’s 1 to 4 were directed to ensure adequate protection of lives and liberty of the petitioners.[Simran Choudhary v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 404, Order dated 01-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of K.Harilal and Annie John. JJ. allowed a revision petition filed by mother of a 15-year old girl, who was subjected to sexual assault by a family friend named Imam Mr Shafeek Al-Kasmi.

The instant petition under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 challenging the order of respondent whereby it was declared that petitioner’s minor daughter required care and protection and that the child’s counselling shall be carried out by admitting her in an institution. 

Mr Ram Mohan G., counsel on behalf of the petitioner, submitted that the continued detention of a child under the orders of respondent was prejudicial to her interests and well being as she required the moral support, guidance and presence of her mother.

Mr Suman Chakravarthy, Senior Government Pleader appearing on behalf of respondent, submitted that even though the sexual assault took place in February 2019, petitioner and her relatives did not report the matter to police due to which the child could not be medically examined. Further, as per the report of District Child Protection Officer, it was not congenial to restore the child to the petitioner, since the accused was a well-known religious leader and a frequent visitor of their family, who had not been arrested so far. Therefore, the child was not safe with the petitioner.

The learned Judges interacted with the child in Chambers in the absence of her mother and relatives. The child expressed her willingness to go along with her mother or maternal grandmother but was not ready to live in the institution. 

The Court opined that inquiry, as contemplated under Section 36 of the Act, was not conducted by the respondent in the presence of petitioner or other family members of the victim. Respondent did not try to ascertain the wishes of the child. Thus, the mandate of Section 3 of the Act was violated. It was held that when the child needs care and protection, then before putting the child in Children’s Home, there should be the application of mind by the committee and it must also take into account the child’s wishes along with the investigation report of Child Welfare Committee.

In view of the above, the impugned order was set aside and Superintendent of Child Shelter Home was directed to release the child forthwith to the petitioner-mother.[Sheeja Navas v. Child Welfare Committee, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1156, Order dated 08-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This interlocutory application was filed before the Bench of Atul Sreedharan, J.

Facts of the case were that an order was passed where the petitioner was ordered to be evicted from the residential accommodation provided to the petitioner subject to petitioner’s paying rent of the premises as per rules. With respect to the above order, an interlocutory application was filed in this case in order to recall the said order.

It was submitted before Court that petitioner was residing in the official accommodation but had not complied with that part of the order by virtue of which petitioner was required to pay the rent as per rules. It was also alleged that the petitioner started depositing money only after filing of this application for recall of the order. Further submission was made that petitioner even after the passing of the order was residing in the official accommodation but was not paying the rent as per rules.

High Court was of the view that petitioner had violated the orders of this Court which does not deserve sympathy and thus the protection given to petitioner was recalled and the respondents were given the liberty to evict petitioner from the premises in accordance with law. [V.S. Sikirvar v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 487, Order dated 19-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Raj Shekhar Attri, J., allowed a writ petition filed by the petitioners seeking protection from private respondents 4 to 6, since the petitioners apprehend danger to their life, limb and liberty from the hands of private respondents.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the petitioners were entitled to get protection on the basis of apprehension of danger.

The Court observed that the Constitutional philosophy completely eradicates discrimination on the grounds of castes, creed, religion, domicile etc. It has propounded the equality and freedom but after a lapse of 68 years since after coming into force of the Constitution of India, the citizens, especially in the rural areas, are under the influence of orthodox phenomenon and believe in the traditional societies. It gravely affects the doctrine of social justice and equality. The petitioners in the present case had provided sufficient evidences of their age and it was proved that they were both majors who got married and were living together. Since both the petitioners are citizens of India, they have a right to live with dignity. The Court referred to its own decision in the case of Pardeep Kumar Singh v. State of Haryana2007 SCC OnLine P&H 1230, wherein several guidelines with regard to safety concerns of run-away couples were laid down by the Court.

The Court held that the petitioners had every right to seek protection of their lives as the same has been guaranteed to them under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is incumbent upon the state to ensure the safety of such couples.[Sushmita v. State of Punjab, CRM M No. 49692 of 2018 (O&M), order dated 13-11-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and U.U Lalit and K.M. Joseph, JJ. gave directions to the Hyderabad Police in order to provide adequate security to the complainant in the alleged bribery case against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

According to the media reports, Satish Sana i.e. complainant approached the Supreme Court for seeking protection and stay on the notice issued by the agency summoning him for interrogation.

The Bench refused to stay CBI summons and rejected the complainant’s plea for recording his statement before the retired Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Patnaik.

[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A 2-Judge Bench comprising of Dilip B Bhosale, CJ. and Yashwant Varma, J., dealt with a public interest litigation for giving directions for the purpose of protecting shelter homes as a lot of cases were coming where the shelter homes management were in question.

The matter came for review before the Court for further directions pursuant to the earlier order passed in these proceedings. Additional Advocate General submitted that proposals formulated would help the Court in passing further directions and for formulation of policy for monitoring shelter homes in the State. Court noted that it was directed by the State to the Director, Academy of Management Studies, Lucknow to undertake a social audit of all shelter homes, however, no audit was actually conducted. In another order, a seven-member committee was created to formulate directives for shelter homes in the State. Interim directions were given to District Judges to form monitoring committee for inspection of shelter homes.

The Additional Chief Secretary had brought before the Court that currently there were no codified norms to protect the shelter homes except the ones established or run under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Court did not agree with the averments of Additional Chief Secretary and mentioned provisions of Swadhar Greh Scheme framed by the Union Government related to shelter homes.

Last direction to be given was related to installation of CCTV cameras which was contested by the Additional Chief Secretary to have been already installed. With above directions, the Court disposed of this petition. [Abuse of Girls in a Women Shelter Home, Deoria, In re, (PIL) No. 4112 of 2018, order dated 05-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, CJ. sitting in a criminal petition seeking to quash a case against the petitioners (army men), declined to provide the protection under Section 197(2) CrPC.

It was alleged against the petitioners (accused persons) that one of them, Sep Kamal Gurung, took up a fight with traffic police constables while they were doing their duty. The said petitioner was drunk at that time. He was taken to the police station to be sent for medical examination. However, in the meanwhile, the other petitioners (both Major in the army), reached the police station along with a troop of Gorkha Regiment; ordered the troop to load their sophisticated weapons; and took Kamal Gurung with them by causing criminal intimidation of death or grievous hurt. Consequently, a case was filed against them under Sections 353, 186, 323, 506(b), 225, 109  read with Section 34 IPC. Judicial Magistrate of First Class took cognizance of the offences. In the present petition, it was submitted that the trial court was in error as cognizance was taken without previous sanction as required as required in terms of Section 197(2) CrPC.

The High Court noted that the said section requires the previous sanction for taking cognizance of any alleged offence by army personnel for any act done in discharge of official duty. The Court observed that for the said protection, it was of paramount importance that the act was done in discharge of official duty. On the facts of the case, the Court held that act of the petitioners, precisely noted hereinabove, by any stretch of the imagination, could not be said to be an act done in discharge of official duty. Therefore, the protection under Section 197(2) was not available to the petitioners. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Vikrant Sharma v. State of Meghalaya,2018 SCC OnLine Megh 89, decided on 13-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sangeeta Chandra, J. allowed a writ petition directing the respondent Authorities to ensure peaceful married life to the young married couple who were petitioners before the Court.

The petition was filed praying for the protection of the petitioners from the respondents. It was prayed that a writ of mandamus be issued against the respondents not to interfere in petitioners’ matrimonial life. On the basis of the NEET admit card, the Court noted the fact that Petitioner 2 (girl) was above 18 years of age and had married Petitioner 1 (boy). The Court referred to Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475: (2006) 2 SCC (Cri) 478, wherein it was observed, This is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major, he/she can marry whoever they like. If the parents of the boy/girl do not approve of inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, they can at the most cut social ties with their son/daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate violent acts against them. As such, the petition was disposed of directing the respondent Authorities to ensure undisturbed peaceful married life to the petitioners. [Manish Chaturvedi v. State of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine All 840, dated 22-6-2018]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 for introduction in Parliament. The Bill broadly has the following features:
  1. Addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation.
  2. Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes traffickingtrafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a personfor the purpose of early sexual maturity, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage etc.
  3. Punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person which includesproducing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; orcommits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
  4. The confidentiality of victims/witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. Further the confidentiality of the victims is maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (this also helps in trans-border and inter-State crimes).
  5. Time bound trial and repatriation of the victims – within a period of one year from taking into cognizance.
  6. Immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The Victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.
  7. Rehabilitation of the victim which is not contingent upon criminal proceedings being initiated against the accused or the outcome thereof.
  8. Rehabilitation Fund created for the first time. To be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care/psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation,etc.
  9. Designated courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
  10. The Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and CentralLevel. These will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking.  National Investigation Agency (NIA) will perform the tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level present under the MHA.
  11. Punishment ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh.
  12. In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment and forfeiture of property and also theproceeds for crime.
  13. The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau will perform the functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations; international assistance in investigation; facilitate inter-State and trans-border transfer of evidence and materials, witnesses and others for expeditingprosecution; facilitate inter-state and international video conferencing in judicial proceedings etc.

Background

Trafficking in human beings is the third largest organised crime violating basic human rights. There is no specific law so far to deal with this crime. Accordingly, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 has been prepared. The Bill addresses one of the most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons especially women and children.

The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. Trafficking is a global concern also affecting a number of South Asian nations. Amongst them, India is now a pioneer in formulating a comprehensive legislation. UNODC and SAARC nations are looking forward to India to take lead by enacting this law.

The Bill has been prepared in consultation with line Ministries, Departments, State Governments, NGOs and domain experts. A large number of suggestions received by the Ministry of WCD in hundreds of petitions have been incorporated in the Bill.  The Draft Bill discussed in regional consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bombay with various stakeholders including over 60 NGOs. The Bill was examined and discussed by Group of Ministers also.

Cabinet