Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Division Bench of Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, CJ. and Alok Kumar Verma, J., have been hearing a series of petitions after a PIL which was filed on 03-05-2021 regarding the submission of a report with regard to the number of jails, the population of each jail in both the categories of under-trial prisoners and convicted prisoners, the number of the prisoners, who have come down with Covid19, the availability of the medical facilities for dealing with those, who are suffering from Covid-19, the number of staff, which is equally affected by Covid-19, the facilities available for quarantining the affected persons, the medical facilities available within the jail, the availability of oxygen tanks, oxygen beds and ventilators, if any, the availability of protective gears such as PPE kits, masks and gloves. The I.G. Prisons, was directed to be present before this Court on 06-05-2021.

On 06-05-2021 the I.G. prisons, informed the Court that there were 6,647 inmates, who were housed in different jails throughout the State out of which 4,474 were under-trials prisoners, while 2173 were convicted. He further furnished all the information sought to by the Court. He informed the Court in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court in Suo Motu In RE: Contagion of Covid 19 Virus In Prisons, W.P. (C) No. 1 of 2020, a High Powered Committee was constituted by the Uttarakhand State Legal Services Authority by order dated 26-03-2020. The Court after perusing the information submitted had given certain direction:

  • The Jail Department and the Principal Secretary, Home / Prison, respondent no. 1, are directed to ensure that the number of the prisoners being inoculated is drastically increased. In fact, since most of the prisoners would be above the age of eighteen years, the inoculation of prisoners must be ensured by the State Government as expeditiously as possible, and preferably within one month from the date of this order.
  • When a prisoner is being released, he must be subjected to Rapid Antigen Test /RT-PCR test in order to ensure that he does not leave the jail premises as a Covid-19 positive case. For, there are great chances that such a prisoner, who is being released, may carry the virus with him, and may infect his family, in particular, and the society, in general.
  • The High Powered Committee is directed to convene its meeting within a period of two weeks, and to review the cases of under-trial prisoners and the case of those, who have been convicted for offences punishable for less than seven years. It shall make its recommendations within two weeks from its meeting, since there is a possibility that this pandemic may continue for many months to come and since there are reports which show that India may face the third wave of Covid-19, which may continue even in the next year. The High Powered Committee is directed to meet once every month, and to review the cases of the present inmates, and to make its necessary recommendations.
  • The learned I.G. Prison is directed to inform the Chairman, Bar Council of Uttarakhand about the existence of the “E-Mulakaat” portal. Furthermore, he is directed to ensure that sufficient hardware and software is available in the jails so as to permit the prisoners to converse with their counsel through the “EMulakaat” portal.
  • The learned counsel for the State is directed to file a detailed report with regard to the implementation of the directions issued by this Court within a period of three weeks.

The case was next heard on 14-06-2021.

As per the directions issued by the Court on 06-05-2021 a short counter-affidavit had been filed by I.G. Prisons, Uttarakhand according to which 2813 inmates have been vaccinated so far. It was informed that the remaining inmates shall be vaccinated in a systematic manner, and at a rapid speed. However, as the vaccines were not presently available, inoculation programme is progressing slowly. The Committee considered parole of 106 convicts, and interim bail application for 685 under-trial prisoners. Out of 106 convicts, 92 were granted parole by the Committee. With regard to the E-Mulakaat, the I.G. submitted that all the jail Superintendents have been directed to convene the Video Conferencing through E-Mulakat, or through any other portal.

The Court while disposing of the petition held that the directions issued by this Court had been duly complied with. Hence, no further direction needed to be issued by this Court.[Omveer Singh v. State of Uttarakhand, Writ Petition (PIL) NO. 58 of 2021, decided on 14-06-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Counsel for the appellant: M. Ajay Veer Pundir

Counsel for respondent 1 & 3: Mr C.S. Rawat

Appointments & TransfersNews

Appointment of Permanent Judge

President appoints Justice Alok Kumar Verma, Additional Judge of Uttaranchal High Court to be Judge of Uttaranchal High Court from the date he assumes charge of his office.


About

Justice Alok Kumar Verma — Born on 16-08-1964 in District Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Graduated from D.A.V. (P.G.) Degree College, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He Did his LL.B. from Harish Chandra Postgraduate College in the year 1985 and joined Judicial Service of 1982 batch in Uttar Pradesh in the year 1987 and posted at Jhansi as Munsif [Civil Judge (Junior Division)].

He remained posted in various Districts in State of Uttar Pradesh. Opted for Judicial Service in the State of Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand) after creation of State on 09-11-2000.

Remained posted as District Judge at Tehri Garhwal, Chamoli, Udham Singh Nagar and Dehradun. Also posted as Principal Secretary, Law-cum-L.R. to the Government of Uttarakhand.

Appointed as Additional Judge of High Court of Uttarakhand in pursuance of Notification No. K.13032/01/2019-US-I dated 22nd May, 2019 issued by the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India and took oath of his office on 27th May, 2019 in the Forenoon.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 24-05-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Manoj Kumar Tiwari, J., partly allowed an appeal which was filed challenging an order passed by the State Information Commissioner by which a penalty of 25,000 had been imposed upon the petitioner for not providing timely information to respondent 2.

The application, under Section 6 (1) of the Right to Information Act, was made by respondent 2 to District Education Officer, who had referred the application to the petitioner for doing the needful. Petitioner had asked the Principal, Delhi Public School, Ranipur, to supply information; but, Principal, Delhi Public School had initially refused to supply the information on the ground that it is not bound to supply such information, however, subsequently, on petitioner’s persuasion, the desired information was supplied by the Principal, Delhi Public School to the petitioner which, in turn, was furnished to respondent 2.Fact of the matter was that the information was supplied to respondent 2 and the said penalty had been imposed on the ground that some delay was caused in supplying the desired information.

The court relied on the judgment of Public Prescribed Authority v. Uttarakhand State Information Commissioner, 2014 SCC OnLine Utt 2440 where it was held that,

            “A plain reading of Sub-Section 1 of Section 20 of the Act would reveal that penalty can be imposed for delayed information if delay was caused without any valid reason.

In the present case, explanation furnished by the petitioner before the Chief Information Commissioner was that concern file was not traceable in the department and same was got reconstructed later on and thereafter information was supplied to the applicant. Chief Information Commissioner has nowhere observed that explanation furnished by the petitioner is a mere eye-wash and is not reasonable.

In my considered opinion, if explanation for delayed information is reasonable and delay was caused due to valid reasons then penalty should not be imposed by invoking of Sub-Section 1 of Section 20. Therefore, impugned judgment does not sustain in the eyes of law. Consequently, writ petition is allowed. Impugned judgment dated 13.12.2011 is hereby quashed.”

The Court partly allowed the petition and held that penalty imposed upon the petitioner appeared to be unjust and uncalled for, setting aside the penalty.[Suman Agarwal v. State Information Commissioner, 2021 SCC OnLine Utt 297, decided on 08-03-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appointments & TransfersNews

President of India appointed Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court.

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was enrolled as an Advocate on July 07, 1986, and practiced in the Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Courts in Civil, Constitutional, Service, and Labour matters and has specialized in Service and Constitutional matters. He was appointed as Permanent Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court on November 1, 2008.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Press Release dt. 07-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Manoj K. Tiwari, J., dismissed a writ petition that was filed by the petitioner who was serving as Medical Officer in Community Health Centre. She had participated in NEET-PG for admission to Masters Degree Course in Medicine and according to her, she was entitled to admission against the P.G. seat in General Medicine Course in Government Medical College, Haldwani by virtue of more marks; but, the said seat had been wrongly allotted to respondent 5.

The counsel for respondent 2, Shailendra Nauriyal contended that since petitioner had not got herself registered with the Counseling Board for admission to P.G. Courses while respondent 5 had got herself registered, the petitioner’s claim could not be considered for admission during first counseling. He further submitted that the petitioner got herself registered with the Counseling Board for second counseling and, in second counseling; she has been allotted to a Pediatrician Course in Government Medical College.

The Court while dismissing the petition stated that Petitioner herself is to be blamed for not applying for registration at the relevant point of time. No one can claim to be given admission only in Government Medical Colleges, especially when common counseling is held for admission to Government as well as Private Medical Colleges and admission would be given as per score of marks in NEET-PG. [Sushmita Ringwal v. State of Uttaranchal, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 495, decided on 18-08-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Full-Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan CJ, Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Kumar Verma JJ, held that contractual state employees are also entitled to child care leave, and that its denial would mean the denial of the rights of a child.

The petitioner is a lady Ayurvedic doctor in Uttarakhand’s State Medical and Health Services, appointed on a contractual basis for one year which had been repeatedly renewed since her appointment in 2009. After her maternity leave, she did not rejoin service and instead claimed Child Care Leave (CCL), citing a 2015 Judgement by a division bench of the Uttaranchal High Court which allowed a contractual employee to get CCL for 730 days. Her application was rejected on the grounds of a 2011 Government Order which excluded contractual employees from availing CCL. A division bench referred the matter in the present case to a Full Bench, which had to decide whether CCL of 730 days could be granted to a contractual employee hired for only one year, and whether the High Court, exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226, could issue mandatory guidelines extending this benefit to contractual employees in the absence of any legislation in this regard.

Chief Standing Counsel for the State, Paresh Tripathi, contended that the petitioner was only entitled to a “fixed monthly honorarium,” and could claim CCL as a matter of right since she is not technically a government servant. He also argued that the petitioner is only relying upon Part IV of the Constitution i.e., the Directive Principles of State Policy, which are not enforceable. He rebutted claims of alleged violations of Articles 14 and 16, averring that regular and contractual employees form two different classes and their separation would fall under ‘reasonable classification’, and Article 21.

While acknowledging the recent worldwide emergence of the otherwise neglected concepts of maternity and child care leave, the Court stated that “the leave is not a recognition of the rights of a woman but it is more a recognition of the rights of a child.”

Bench took due cognizance of various Constitutional and statutory provisions, including Article 15(2) and several Articles under Part IV of the Constitution, which were enforced bearing the needs and rights of children in mind. It rejected the State’s argument that DPSPs are not enforceable, instead upholding their importance by citing Supreme Court judgments where the DPSPs were hailed as “fundamentals in the governance of the country.”

The Court opined that since no distinction is made between a regular and a contractual employee with respect to maternity leave, the same principle should be adopted while considering CCL as well. On the first issue, the Court held that a contractual employee employed for a year was also entitled to CCL, but not for 760 days. Rather, they can be granted paid CCL for 31 days on the same terms as “earned leave” given to other employees under the 2011 Government Order. With regard to the second issue, the Court stated that it has merely read the rights of a contractual employee into the 2011 Order, which have duly been subjected to the restrictions imposed on any regular employee under the said Order. [Tanuja Tolia v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 337, decided on 24-07-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Justice Ravi Vijaykumar Malimath, senior-most Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, to perform the duties of the office of Chief Justice of that High Court with effect from 28th July, 2020 consequent upon the retirement of Shri Justice Ramesh Ranganathan, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court.

NOTIFICATION


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 16-07-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

Transfer Order

President Orders transfer of Justice Alok Singh of Uttaranchal High Court to Allahabad High Court.


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 27-03-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

Supreme Court Collegium recommends transfer of Justice Alok Singh, Judge, Uttarakhand High Court to Allahabad High Court.


Supreme Court Collegium

[Notification dt. 05-03-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

President is pleased to appoint Shri Alok Kumar Verma, to be an Additional Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, for a period of two years with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office.


[Notification dt. 22-05-2019]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

Proposal for the appointment of Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Judicial Officer, as Judge of the Uttaranchal High Court.

“The Collegium comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and S.A. Bobde and N.V. Ramana, JJ. resolves to recommend that Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Judicial Officer, be appointed as Judge of the Uttaranchal High Court.”


[Notification dt. 06-05-2019]

Supreme Court of India