Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ and Ashutosh J. Shastri, J. addressed a suo motu public interest litigation in view of incident of mass congregation in Delhi.

At least 200 members of the said congregation have been reported to traveled to the State of Gujarat who may be infected with COVID-19. News reports have further confirmed death of one person in Gujarat out of a total of 8 deaths all over the country who had participated in the congregation at Delhi.

Further the Court noted that no one knows where all these 200 or more members of the congregation are now based in Gujarat.

Advocate General, Kamal B. Trivedi appearing for State of Gujarat submitted that Government is already in the process of identifying and tracing not only the members of the said congregation having travelled to Gujarat but also the details of other persons coming in close contact with the said members.

Devan Vyas, Assistant Solicitor General, on behalf of union of India, assured the Court that Central Government after collecting necessary data from State of Delhi with regard to the above would share the same with respective states including Gujarat.

High Court in its earlier order had directed the State Government to ensure that no gathering takes place in all the places of worship in the State but that would not mean that daily puja/aarti/service/offering of prayer(namaaz) in these places of worship is to be stopped bu that the same would carried out by the respective managements without making such places open to public.

Advocate General during the present hearing assured that the above would be strictly followed.

In the present hearing, Court issued that Union of India will provide complete information to the State of Gujarat and to the Court in a sealed cover of all those persons irrespective of their nationality who were party to the Tablighi Jamaat and have entered to the State of Gujarat.

Further the State Government shall provide following details:

  • Details provided by Union of India; Steps taken by State of Gujarat.
  • Quarantine, testing and other steps taken by the State in regard to such persons
  • State shall also provide details of those people who have been untraceable
  • Steps taken for the implementation of the restrictions that may have been imposed by the State with respect to gatherings at all worship places such as Temples, Churches, Gurudwaras, Mosques and strict compliance thereof.

Thus in view of the above the Court held that if satisfactory reports will not be submitted then the court will have to issue necessary directions and may take coercive measures.

Matter is to be listed on 03-04-2020.[Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat,  2020 SCC OnLine Guj 385, decided on 01-04-2020]


Also Read:

Government committed to — identify, isolate and quarantine COVID-19 positive Tabligh Jamaat workers in India post their congregation in Nizamuddin, Delhi

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by ANI, Central Government Advocate Gaurav Kant, wrote to the Chief Justice of Delhi High court for a suo moto action to be taken against the officials who couldn’t prevent the religious congregation at Nizamuddin.

Advocate Kanth said,

“religious congregation at Alamo Markaz Banglewali Masjid at Nizamuddin is a blatant disregard of the extent notifications and contributed to the spread of COVID-19 across the country.”

Further he asserted in his letter that,

“..in view of the situation and being a responsible officer of the Court, it is my duty to bring to the attention of Your Lordships so that Your Lordships can take suo moto cognizance of the situation and pass appropriate orders.”

He also sought appropriate actions to be taken against the negligence on the part of the officials.

He also asked the court to suggest remedial measures in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the Nizamuddin area.


[Source: ANI]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Canada: A 9-judge Bench of Wagner, CJ and Abella, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Gascon, Côté, Brown, Rowe and Martin, JJ. heard an appeal filed by a religious group against the judgment of Court of Appeal for Quebec whereby institution of class action lawsuit against the group, for sexual abuse of children, was allowed.

Facts:                                  

Respondent herein was sexually abused by two members (now dead) of a religious community known as the Congregation of Holy Cross when he was an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. In 2013, he applied for authorization to institute a class action against Congregation and Oratory on the ground that they were directly responsible for not stopping such abuses and were also responsible for the acts of teacher and the priest because they assigned them to work with children. The Quebec Superior Court refused the respondent’s application holding that none of the conditions for institution of a class action suit were met. The Court of Appeal reversed that judgment and authorized the institution of the class action against the appellant. The appellants herein vehemently objected to the same. The dissenting Court of Appeal judge agreed with authorizing the class action against the Congregation, but not against the Oratory.

Submissions of parties:

The Solicitors for appellant one, the Congregation, in this case, argued that it constituted a corporation only in 2008 and that it cannot be held liable for acts that were, for the most part, alleged to have been committed before it was incorporated. The Solicitors for Oratory submitted that it had no connection with the religious community known as the Congregation of Holy Cross, and that it was a distinct entity whose sole mission was to operate and maintain that place of worship. In addition, both the appellants were of the view that, in any event, respondent’s personal action was irreparably forfeited as a result of Article 2926.1 para 2 of the Civil Code of Québec (hereinafter “CCQ”).

Decision of the Court:

The Court, by a majority of 5:4, held that the three-year time limit for suing, mentioned in Article 2926.1 para. 2 CCQ, in case the abuser or victim died; would not be applicable to a lawsuit filed against third parties like the Congrégation and the Oratoire. Thus, the deaths of the men who allegedly assaulted J.J. did not mean that his remedy against the Congregation and the Oratory was forfeited.

Though the case was instituted after several years of the commission of assault, the Court allowed the class action under Article 571 of Civil Code of Procedure of Canada (hereinafter “CCP”) which provides for authorization for institution of class action if “the claims of the members of the class raise identical, similar or related issues of law or fact”. This condition of “commonality applies not only in Quebec law, but also in that of all the common law provinces of Canada”. In this regard, the Court observed that all the class members were assaulted by members of the Congregation, regardless of the places where the assaults occurred. This provided that it was significant enough to affect the outcome of the class action.

Furthermore, it remarked that the Court of Appeal’s decision to authorize the institution of a class action against both the Congregation and the Oratory was justified. Reliance was laid upon Infineon Technologies and Infineon Technologies North America Corp. v. Option consommateurs and Claudette Cloutier, 2013 SCC OnLine Can SC 73 to rule that at the authorization stage, the court plays a “screening” role. The role was to ensure that the applicant met the conditions of Article 575 CCP. In this case, the conditions had been met, and thus the class action was authorized.

The Court also observed that it was useful to review some of the errors made by the Superior Court judge and this justified the Court of Appeal’s intervention.

The Court opined that the main issue here concerned liability based on a direct fault for “systemic” negligence in relation to assaults on children by its members. It upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal “the questions inherent in the issue of direct liability of the [Congregation] are on their own capable of clearly advancing the case toward a resolution of the litigation”. The Court also noted that there was a “connection” between Oratory and the Congregation. In other words, the allegations relating to Oratory were actually allegations relating to faults of members of the Congregation, and more specifically, allegations relating to faults of members of the Congregation acting as directors of the Oratory, who failed to put a stop to the sexual abuse and, worse, covered it up. Thus, the allegations relating to direct liability of the Oratory actually concerned wrongful conduct “on its directors’ part”. It was opined that the Oratory’s directors were themselves all members of the Congregation. In this sense “all the allegations and evidence that can apply to the Congregation can also apply to the Oratory.” Hence, authorization of the institution of a class action could go against both the Congregation as well as the Oratory. Therefore, the appeals were dismissed with costs to J.J.

This aforesaid judgment does mean that J.J. won the class-action lawsuit. It only means that this Court would now hear all the arguments and make a decision.[L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal v. J.J., 2019 SCC OnLine Can SC 13, decided on 07-06-2019]