Legal RoundUpWeekly Rewind


TOP STORY OF THE WEEK


Anganwadi Workers/Helpers entitled to payment of gratuity; ‘Time to take serious note of their plight’ 

In a relief to the Anganwadi workers and helpers working tirelessly at the grassroot level, the Supreme Court has held that the Anganwadi Workers and Helpers are employed by the State Government for wages in the establishments to which the Gratuity Act applies, hence, they are entitled to payment of Gratuity.  

The Court also observed that the Anganwadi Workers/Helpers have been entrusted with the important tasks of providing food security to children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, pregnant women as well as lactating mothers, apart from rendering pre-school education. And for all this, they are being paid very meagre remuneration and paltry benefits. 

Therefore, it is high time that the Central Government and State Governments take serious note of the plight of Anganwadi Workers/Helpers who are expected to render such important services to the society. 

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SUPREME COURT


Producing false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct; Dismissal of service justified in such cases 

In a case where an employee had produced a fake certificate for seeking employment, the Supreme Court has held that producing the false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct and dismissal of service is a justified punishment in such cases. 

In the case at hand, while the disciplinary authority had imposed a punishment of dismissal from service on the delinquent, the Bombay High Court had directed reinstatement of the respondent without any back wages and other benefits.  

The Supreme Court, however, agreed with the disciplinary authority’s decision and observed:  

“The question is one of a TRUST. How can an employee who has produced a fake and forged marksheet/certificate, that too, at the initial stage of appointment be trusted by the employer? Whether such a certificate was material or not and/or had any bearing on the employment or not is immaterial. The question is not of having an intention or mens rea. The question is producing the fake/forged certificate.” 

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‘Can’t allow mass absorption of over 11,000 workers based on a flawed Report’. SC forms new Committee to put an end to the long drawn LIC versus temporary employees’ battle  

In a long drawn battle between Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and its temporary/badli/part-time employees over claim for absorption, a 3-judge bench of Supreme Court has appointed a two-member committee to carry out fresh verification of the claims of workers who were working between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991 and who claim to have been employed for at least 70 days in Class IV posts over a period of three years or 85 days in Class III posts over a period of two years shall be carried out. 

Finding the report of the previous committee faulty, the Supreme Court observed, 

“A public employer such as LIC cannot be directed to carry out a mass absorption of over 11,000 workers on such flawed premises without following a recruitment process which is consistent with the principles of equality of opportunity governed by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. Such an absorption would provide the very back-door entry, which negates the principle of equal opportunity and fairness in public employment.” 

Read all about the newly formed committee and its tasks and timelines on the SCC Online Blog.  

Read more… 


High Courts


Madras High Court| Ban the practice of two-finger test on victims of sexual offences by medical professionals

Stating that two-finger test cannot be permitted to be continued, the Division Bench of Madras High Court directed the State Government to ban the practice of two-finger test on victims of sexual offences by the medical professionals. 

Court observed that, 

“…it is necessary for us to put an end to the practice of the two-finger test. We find that the two-finger test is being used in cases involving sexual offences particularly, on minor victims.” 

Read more… 


Bombay High Court| Advocate to maintain dignity & decorum of Court, no room for arrogance and no license to intimidate Court

In a matter wherein an Advocate alleged that the Court was giving priority to certain matters and to certain advocates, the Court observed that an advocate as an Officer of the Court is under an obligation to maintain the dignity and decorum of the Court. There is no room for arrogance and there is no license to intimidate the Court, make reckless accusations and allegations against a Judge and pollute the very fountain of justice. 

Bench also expressed that, “It has to be borne in mind that casting scurrilous aspersions not only has the inevitable effect of undermining the confidence of the public in the judiciary but also has the tendency to interfere with the administration of justice.” 

Read more… 


Bombay High Court| Declaration of reciting religious verses at someone’s residence: Act of breaching personal liberty of another person?

Stating that, “Great power comes with greater responsibility”, the Division Bench of Bombay HC expressed that, the expectation of responsible behaviour or responsible conduct from those persons who are active in public life cannot be an extra expectation but would be a basic one. 

High Court stated that the declaration of the petitioners that they would recite religious verses either in the personal residence of another person or even at a public place is firstly,  encroachment upon another person’s personal liberty and secondly, if a declaration is made with particular religious verses would be recited on the public street, the State government is justified in carrying an apprehension that such act would result in disturbance of law and Order. 

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Delhi High Court| Whether absence of rule of law or utter disregard for the same propels a country towards inevitable ruin? 

Expressing that, attempts to circumvent or undermine judicial decisions need to be viewed seriously in order to ensure that the functioning of our country is unhindered, especially during turbulent times, Delhi High Court held that, 

“It is only the rule of law which not only cements the civilised functioning of a country, but also drives a country towards progress and development.” 

With regard to contempt, the Court observed that, 

“The underlying purpose of the law of contempt is meant to serve public interest and build confidence in the judicial process. This flows from how the functioning of a democratic society is sustained by the rule of law and wilful violation of the same would enable anarchy.” 

Read more… 


Legislation Updates 


IFSCA issues framework for FinTech entity in IFSCs 

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has issued a detailed “Framework for FinTech Entity in the IFSCs” in order to develop and regulate financial products, financial services and financial institutions in the International Financial Services Centres (IFSC) and to encourage promotion of financial technologies (‘FinTech’) across the spectrum of banking, insurance, securities, and fund management in IFS. 

Read more… 


SEBI (Custodian) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 

The Securities and Exchange Board of India has issued the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Custodian) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 to amend Securities and Exchange Board of India (Custodian) Regulations, 1996. 

The amendment modifies Regulation 8 dealing with Procedure and grant of certificate and inserts clause (7) to provide that a custodian holding a certificate of registration as on the date of commencement of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Custodian) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022, may provide custodial services in respect of silver or silver related instruments held by a mutual fund only after taking prior approval of the Board. 

Read more…  


Income-tax (Ninth Amendment) Rules, 2022 

On April 21, 2022, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued the Income-tax (Ninth Amendment) Rules, 2022 to amend Income-tax Rules, 1962 and introduces Conditions for furnishing return of income by persons referred in section 139 (1) of the Act.  

Read more … 


 

 

Madras High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Stating that two-finger test cannot be permitted to be continued, the Division Bench of R. Subramanian and N. Sathish Kumar, JJ., directed the State Government to ban the practice of two-finger test on victims of sexual offences by the medical professionals.

In the present matter, the accused was convicted for life sentence for the offences under Section 5(I) read with Section 6(1) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 with a fine of Rs 1,00,000 for an offence under Section 363 IPC along with a fine of Rs 20,000.

Accused was running a taloring shop and had befriended the victim girl aged about 16 years when she went for tailoring training for about two months. Further, the accused had enticed the girl and had sexually abused her.

Upon medical examination it was found that the accused had penetrative sexual intercourse with the victim girl.

The accused denied having committed the crime.

Sessions Judge held that the prosecution had proved the guilt of the accused and on taking of the fact that the accused had repeated sexual intercourse with the victim girl, the accused was guilty of the offence under Section 5(I) of the POCSO Act.

Analysis, Law and Decision

As per Section 363 of Penal Code, 1860, a person who takes or entices any minor under 16 years of age if a male, or under 18 years of age if a female, or any person of unsound mind, from the lawful guardianship of a guardian, is said to have kidnapped the minor.

In the present matter, the victim girl had walked out of her house on her own in the pretext of having some old clothes stitched. She had travelled with the accused and was caught after nearly 24 hours and never made an attempt to escape from his custody.

Therefore, the essential ingredients of the offence under Section 363 IPC were not made out.

Bench concluded that the trial Court was right in its finding that the accused was guilty of the offences under Section 5(I) and Section 6(1) of the POCSO Act.

Further, the Court added that no doubt, the accused was a married person he could be said to be guilty of deceiving the victim girl on a promise of marriage, but the evidence of the victim girl would show that there was a love affair between the two and the accused had stated that he could not live without seeing her.

Hence, in Court’s opinion, a minimum sentence of imprisonment for a period of 20 years would suffice.

While concluding the matter, the Court stated that,

“…it is necessary for us to put an end to the practice of the two-finger test. We find that the two-finger test is being used in cases involving sexual offences particularly, on minor victims.”

High Court directed the State Government to ban the practice of two finger test on victims of sexual offences by the medical professionals.

In view of the above, criminal appeal was partly allowed.

Direction

The conviction and sentence for the offence under Section 363 IPC is set aside in toto. The conviction for the offences under Section 5(l) and 6(1) of the POCSO Act is confirmed and the life sentence is, however, reduced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment. The fine of Rs 1,00,000/- and the default sentence of simple imprisonment for 3 months, is confirmed. [Rajivgandhi v. State, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 1770, decided on 21-4-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant: Mr. S. Sivasubramanian

For Respondent: Mr. A. Thiruvadi Kumar, Additional Public Prosecutor

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Two Finger test Held — Unconstitutional

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., while deciding  the two clubbed appeals, held that,

“Two-finger test is unconstitutional. It violates the right of the victim to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.”

Court while analysing the present set of appeals stated that, it is a very unique acquittal appeal.

In the present case, two appeals have been combined.

The accused has been convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 366 and 363 of the Penal Code, 1860. Trial Court acquitted the accused for the charge of rape under Section 376 of IPC.

Prosecutions’ Case

While the victim was on her way to answer nature’s call early in the morning, she was hit by the accused with a weapon and forcefully taken away by him. While the victim was in custody and confinement of the accused, she was ravished forcefully.

It has been stated that the victim went missing on 26-03-1994, but the FIR lodged by the mother was on 10-04-1994. Further, the investigation revealed that the victim was confined at the house of the brother of the accused. Once the accused was arrested by the police at the stated place, the victim and the accused were thereafter sent for medical examination.

Through the birth certificates and other relevant documents, it was found that the victim was a minor at the date of the alleged offence, i.e. she was less than 16 years of age.

On noting the oral and documentary evidence, the trial court held the accused guilty of offences punishable under Sections 363 and 366 of Penal Code, 1860. But the trial court acquitted the accused of the charge of rape under Section 376 IPC on an erroneous assumption that the victim was major on the said date of offence.

Analysis of the Court

As stated earlier, the Court found the present set of appeals as a very “unique acquittal appeal”.

It was noted that, at the time when the trial court heard the prosecution and the defence on the point of the sentence that the trial court realised that it had committed a mistake in calculating the age of the victim. Trial Court acknowledged its mistake, but declined to do anything in the matter, as the order of acquittal was already pronounced.

Point about the “Two-Finger Test”

Court noted very disturbing contents in the medical certificate of the victim, wherein it appeared that in the course of the medical examination, the two-finger test was conducted.

“The two-finger test also known as the PV (Per Vaginal) refers to an intrusive physical examination of a woman’s vagina to figure out the laxity of vaginal muscles and whether the hymen is distensible or not. In this, the doctor puts two fingers inside the woman’s vagina and the ease with which the fingers penetrate her are assumed to be in direct proportion to her sexual experience. Thus, if the fingers slide in easily the woman is presumed to be sexually active and if the fingers fail to penetrate or find difficulty in penetrating, then it is presumed that she has her hymen intact, which is a proof of her being a virgin.”

Adding to the above, Court also stated that the two-finger test is one of the most unscientific methods of examination that is used in the context of sexual assault and has no forensic value. Section 155 of the Indian Evidence Act, does not allow a rape victim’s credibility to be compromised.

To add to the analysis, Court while placing their concern with regard to the “two-finger test” also stated that,

“Medical procedures should not be carried out in a manner that constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and health should be of paramount consideration while dealing with gender-based violence.”

Referring to the Supreme Court case in, Lillu v. State of Haryana, (2013) 14 SCC 643, wherein it was held that,

“…A rapist not only causes physical injuries, but leaves behind a scar on the most cherished position of a woman, i.e. her dignity, honour, reputation and chastity.”

 “…two-finger test and its interpretation violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.”

 Learned APP, submitted he is not sure whether the State of Gujarat has issued any directions to do away with the Per-Vaginum examination – Two-Finger Test.

 Endeavour is to remind the trial courts as well as the medical fraternity that the “two-finger test” is unconstitutional, as it violates the right of the victim of sexual assault to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.

Further, the Court found the only question for consideration,

“Whether the trial court committed any error in holding the accused guilty of the offence of kidnapping punishable under Section 366 IPC and acquitting the accused of the offence of rape punishable under Section 376 IPC?

 For the above, High Court stated that, in case if the victim was a consenting party and had some relations with the accused, there is no escape from the fact that the victim was minor.

Once the victim is found to be a minor at the time of commission of offence, more particularly, when it comes to the offence of rape, the accused cannot plead in his defence that the victim was a consenting party.

Conclusion

High Court on perusal of the above stated that unfortunately, the trial court realised its mistake at a very late stage and in such circumstances, the trial court found itself in a helpless situation as it could not have reviewed its order of erroneous acquittal or illegal acquittal so far as the offence of rape was concerned.

Thus, the High Court held the accused to be guilty of the offence of rape punishable under Section 376 of IPC. Conviction appeal preferred by the accused should fail and the acquittal appeal preferred by the State of Gujarat should succeed.  [State of Gujarat v. Rameshchandra Rambhai Panchal, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 114, decided on 17-01-2020]