Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Sudhanshu Dhulia, J., contemplated a petition presented before him by the petitioner who was a member of Waqf Board and was subsequently disqualified, aggrieved by which he filed the instant petition.

The petitioner was disqualified in terms of Section 20 read with Section 16 of the Waqf Act, 1995. Section 16 talked about disqualification for being appointed or for continuing as a member of the Board if certain conditions are not followed also Section 20 talked about “removal of chairperson and member” when a person was subjected to disqualification under Section 16.

The case of the petitioner was that on the earlier occasion when he was a member of the Waqf Board for the term of five years (i.e. 22-06-2010 to 22-06-2015), but he was removed in 2012. The petitioner challenged the order before the Waqf Tribunal where his petition was allowed and the order by which he was removed as a member of the Waqf Board was set aside by the Waqf Tribunal.

The reason cited by the respondent was that on a previous occasion he was removed from his office as a member or as a Mutawalli. However, the order by which the petitioner was earlier removed as a member of the Waqf Board was set aside by the judicial order, and therefore, that order does not survive. It was contended that the order passed by the respondents was unreasonable and the petitioner was not given an opportunity of being heard.

Learned State counsel D.S. Patni and M.S. Rawat argued that the petitioner had an equally efficacious remedy to file an appeal before the Tribunal under Section 83 of the Waqf Act, 1995.

High Court observed that though the petitioner had a remedy under sub-section (2) of Section 83 of the Waqf Act, 1995 however, in this particular case the existence of an alternative remedy before the Tribunal not operated as a bar inasmuch as the present order had been passed without affording opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.

It was held that, “This is for the reason that in case the law provides a remedy at two stages i.e. one before the concerned authority and later before the appellate authority, both opportunities have to be fair and must comply with the norms of natural justice and fair play. It does not mean that the authority can pass an order in violation of principle of natural justice and fair play and the same shall stand cured if the appellate authority gives an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner. At both the stages, the petitioner was required to be given an opportunity of hearing in terms of principle of natural justice and fair play, which has not been given in the present case.”

Hence, the petition was allowed.[Haji Rao Sharafat Ali v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 893, decided on 23-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sandeep Mehta, J. gave directions to remove all encroachments which hinder the use of public property.

It was alleged that the plot which was allotted to the petitioner was encroached upon by the respondents. The area encroached upon included roads and parks which were meant for the public at large. Also despite the direction given by the High Court almost five years ago, till date, the encroachments on the roads and the steps reserved for public utility continued to thrive.

The Court firmly believed that had there been initiatives taken by the authorities for the same the issue would not have arisen. It was of the view that since the encroachments were hindering the use of public property, the land shall be liberated for use of Government lands, roads, designated park areas, and open lands.

Accordingly, the Commissioner, JDA was directed to forthwith initiate lawful proceedings for the removal of the encroachments from roads and lands reserved for parks. Along with it, notice for removal of the encroachments shall be issued and action is taken accordingly. Appropriate and adequate force shall be made available to the officials. Also no Civil Court shall grant any stay on the proposed removal of the encroachments specifically for such road and parks.

With above directions, the writ petition was disposed of. [Suraj Prakash Dave v. State of Rajasthan, S.B. CWP No. 10932 of 2016, order dated 31-10-2018]




Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ., while delivering an order in concerning the extremely disturbing “Bihar Shelter Home Rape case” highlighted few significant pointers to be noted by the CBI in their investigation along with the removal of blanket ban on media in regard to the reporting of the case.

The Bench on considering the status report filed by CBI in the Patna High Court, placed down a few pointers which needed to be looked upon carefully, which were as follows:

  • Mr Brajesh Kumar Thakur who is the in charge of Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti is a very influential person and that is the reason people in the neighborhood are scared to complain against him. CBI needs to look into the antecedents, connections, and influence of the person concerned.
  • Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti has received for about 4.5 Crores from the State of Bihar over a period of ten years for their activities. It is necessary that the IT department should look into the income and assets of Mr Brajesh Thakur and indeed of the NGO.
  • The next pointer to the list was that the Status report states the transfer of some girls by the Social Welfare Department from the Shelter Home. The transfer indicates that the Social Welfare Department was aware of the unsavoury activities in the Shelter Home and that may have been the reason for the transfer of the victims. Therefore, in this regard, CBI should seize the record of the said department and further carry out the investigation. Court asked the State of Bihar to file an affidavit stating the reason for the transfer of those girls.

Further, the Court while removing the blanket ban order passed by the Patna High Court in regard to the media reporting stated that “Entire issue needs to be balanced and looked at in the broader view of the criminal justice and freedom of the press.” Therefore, the Court asked for the assistance of Press Council of India, News Broadcasting Standards Authority, Editors Guild and the Indian Broadcasting Federation.

Concluding the order, the bench stated that in the interest of all the victims of sexual abuse and violence, we restrain the electronic media from telecasting or broadcasting the images of the victims in morphed or blurred form also the victims should not be interviewed. The matter is listed for 04-10-2018. [Nivedita Jha v. State of Bihar, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1616, order dated 20-09-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT): The petitioner’s who held over 18% equity shares in Tata Sons Ltd., were propelled to file the company petition against Tata Sons Ltd., Ratan Tata (Chairman Emeritus) and others. The petition arose consequent to the incident on 24-10-2016 wherein the Co.  Board meeting, Cyrus Mistry (Chairman) was removed from his position without giving 15 days notice. The petitioners alleged that the respondents conducted the affairs of the Co. In an oppressive manner which was prejudicial to the interest of the petitioners, the Co., and the public.

As per the petition, the factum of oppressive, arbitrary and prejudicial mismanagement lies in bleeding of Corus acquisition and overpriced take over, doomed Nano car project, Ratan Tata’s relationship with C. Sivasankaran (owner of Sterling Infotech Ltd.), DoCoMo Arbitration, and unjust investment of Ratan Tata at the cost of the Co., aviation industry misadventures, removal of Cyrus Mistry as Chairman of the Co., loss to the Co., in purchase of shares of Tata Motors. It was alleged that over time Tata Trusts directors had become the handmaiden of Ratan Tata and his lieutenant Noshir A. Soonawala (Vice Chairman, Tata Sons Ltd.); they had become a ‘Super Board’. They were alleged to control the Trusts Nominee Directors and thereby suppress the minority shareholders, the petitioners. It was further alleged that respondents acted as per Ratan Tata’s bidding, violating the Articles of Association. A grievance was also made against ‘legacy hotspots’. On the premise of these allegations modification in AoA was prayed for, along with demand to appoint an administrator to look after day-to-day affairs of the Co.; appointment of a retired Supreme Court Judge as non-executive Chairman, direction to the board not to remove Cyrus Mistry from the post of Chairman, restriction on the role of Soonawala, investigation into the affairs of the company, etc.

The Tribunal, in order to decide the petition, took upon an arduous task of visiting the history of Tata’s and the development of their corporations. In its 368-pages judgment, the Tribunal discussed each and every point raised by the petitioners and reached a conclusion that the petition was liable to be dismissed. The findings of the Tribunal are summarized (inter alia) hereinafter:

  • Board of Directors are competent to remove the Executive Chairman, the recommendation of Selection Committee was not required.
  • Removal of Cyrus Mistry was because he leaked company information to the Media, IT authorities, etc.
  • No merit was found on the purported legacy issues.
  • None of the articles of the AoA were oppressive against the petitioners.
  • Majority (shareholders) Rule has not taken a back seat with the introduction of Companies Act 2013. They are never in conflict with each other. Corporate democracy is genesis and corporate governance is species.

Finding no merit in the issues raised by the petitioners, it was held that all the affairs of the company being conducted as per AoA which fully complied with the Companies Act. Further, no merit was found on the role attributed to the Ratan Tata and other Trustees of Tata Trust. Accordingly, basing its decision on the reasons as summarized above, the Tribunal dismissed the appeal. [Cyrus Investments (P) Ltd. v. Tata Sons Ltd., CP No. 82 (MB) of 2016, dated 12-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: In the case where the constitution of the Inspecting Team by the National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE) for inspection of the Teachers’ Educational Institutions, Chakradhari Sharan Singh, J said that nominating Stenographer, Section Officer and Videographer, showed complete none application of mind, high handedness and arbitrariness on the part of the authorities of the NCTE and directed for inclusion of Union of India as party for deciding the question of the procedure for removal of the Chairman of the NCTE. A. Santhosh Mathew is serving as the Chairman of NCTE.

The Court had, on 15.11.2017, passed directions to ensure that the inspections of the Institutions are expedited for quite in the wake of the pendency of inspections. It was contended that the actions of NCTE were in violation of this order.

The Court said the persons, holding top position in the NCTE, were either completely insensitive towards the issues or were completely incompetent to hold the position, which they are holding. Refusing to tolerate such actions of the officials of the NCTE and considering the seriousness and urgency of the matter, the Court that it will hear the matter on 16.08.2017 in order to understand the statutory provisions, laying down procedure, for removal of the persons holding top positions in the NCTE. [B. R. Ambedkar College of Education v. State of Bihar, Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.9230 of 2016, order dated 09.08.2017]