COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Supreme Court Registry has notified the list of 1239 matters that are likely to be heard by the Supreme Court through Video Conferencing from June 1, 2020.

Earlier, the Registry had notified the new schedule for summer vacations of the Court. The Notice read:

“the period from 18th May, 2020 to 19th June, 2020 (both inclusive) shall be declared as period functioning for the Supreme Court of India.”

The Court was originally supposed to remain closed from May 18, 2020 to July 5, 2020 but the same was changed due to the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic.  The Court had, on March 23, 2020, opted to hold video-conference to hear urgent matters in an unprecedented move

Click here to access the list of matter.


Also read: 

COVID-19| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

COVID-19| Here’s the list of directions issued by CJI Bobde in the light of Coronavirus lockdown

COVID-19| SC extends limitation period for filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals, etc

COVID-19| SC extends limitation prescribed under the A&C, 1996 and the NI Act,1881

Hot Off The PressNews

Orissa High Court issued a Circular notifying that considering the disruption in power supply and internet connectivity and forecast of heavy rains due to the Super Cyclone Amphan and keeping in view the request of Bar, functioning of Court through video conferencing shall not be possible on 20th May, 2020 i.e. today.

All case listed for 20th May, 2020 shall be taken up on 21st May, 2020.

NOTICE


Orissa High Court

[Notice dt. 20-05-2020]

COVID 19Gaurav Pingle and Associates

Under the extant provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (“the Act”), approval of the shareholders can be obtained by passing a resolution in general meeting or voting through electronic means (i.e. e-voting) or postal ballot. The Act read with the relevant Rules made thereunder provide for detailed procedures for obtaining shareholders’ approval. Under the extant provisions, only meeting of the board of directors can be held through videoconferencing (VC) and other audio-visual means (OAVM). In view of the current extra-ordinary circumstances due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19 prevailing in the country, requiring social distancing, it is difficult for companies to obtain shareholders’ approval by conducting general meetings. Taking into consideration this situation, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had provided a framework for conducting extra-ordinary general meeting of the company through VC or OAVM[1]. MCA issued another Circular and permitted the companies to hold the annual general meeting through VC or OAVM during the calendar year 2020[2].

This article is an analysis of certain provisions of the MCA directions and also address certain challenges for listed companies in conducting AGM through VC or OAVM.

Rights of shareholders: Before we discuss the procedure for conducting general meetings through VC or OAVM, let us first discuss the rights of shareholders. Chapter II of the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 (the SEBI Regulations) relates to ‘Principles governing disclosures and obligations of listed entity’. According to the provisions, the shareholders shall have the right to participate in, and to be sufficiently informed of, decisions concerning fundamental corporate changes. The shareholders shall also have an opportunity to participate effectively and vote in general shareholder meetings. Shareholders shall be informed of the rules, including voting procedures that govern general shareholder meetings. They shall have an opportunity to ask questions to the board of directors, to place items on the agenda of general meetings, and to propose resolutions, subject to reasonable limitations. Effective shareholder participation in key corporate governance decisions, such as the nomination and election of members of board of directors. The exercise of ownership rights by all shareholders, including institutional investors. Listed entity shall have adequate mechanism to address the grievances of the shareholders.

The SEBI Regulations also provide that the exercise of voting rights by foreign shareholders shall be facilitated and the processes and procedures for general meetings shall allow for equitable treatment of all shareholders. The procedures of listed entity shall not make it unduly difficult or expensive to cast votes. The listed entities shall also ensure the said rights prescribed in the SEBI Regulations are not affected when the AGM of the company is conducted through VC or OAVM.

The highlights of the MCA Circular permitting companies to hold AGMs through VC or OAVM and certain challenges are as follows:

  1. Taking into consideration the difficulties involved in dispatching of physical copies of financial statements (including Board’s Report, Auditor’s Report, or other documents required to be attached), MCA has permitted sending such documents by e-mail to the members, trustees for the debenture-holders, or any other person entitled to receive such documents. The companies are required to give public notice by way of advertisement in vernacular language of the district in which registered office is situated and at least once in English language in English newspaper (preferably both newspapers having electronic editions). Considering this, the cost of conducting general meetings is significantly reduced for such listed companies.
  2. One of the biggest challenges for listed companies is to get the e-mail addresses of the members (holding shares in physical form) registered for sending financial statements. This will also enable the shareholders to cast their vote through remote e-voting or through e-voting during the meeting. Presently, even in the lockdown, the depositories, Registrar and share transfer agents and companies are taking adequate steps for the registration of e-mail addresses of such shareholders. However, for certain listed companies some shareholders are either not traceable or their contact details are not updated.
  3. According to MCA directions, the listed company shall provide two-way tele-conferencing facility or webex for ease of participation of the members and the participants are allowed to pose questions concurrently or given time to submit questions in advance on the e-mail address of the company. Such facility must have a capacity to allow at least 500 members or members equal to the total number of members of the company. According to the principles governing disclosures and obligations of listed entity under the SEBI Regulations (as discussed above), the shareholders shall have right to participate in, and to be sufficiently informed of, decisions concerning fundamental corporate changes. The shareholders shall also have an opportunity to participate effectively and vote in general shareholder meetings. The shareholders shall have an opportunity to ask questions to the board of directors, to place items on the agenda of general meetings, and to propose resolutions, subject to reasonable limitations. Considering the total number of shareholders and their participation, it would be quite difficult for listed companies to provide two-way tele-conferencing facility in the general meetings. Considering the participation of members and question-answer session, such meetings would take a long time to conclude. Presently, the companies/Registrar and share transfer agents are in the process of developing a system to answer/reply to the queries asked in the general meeting through VC or OAVM.
  4. According to the MCA directions, the process for election of Chairman depends upon the members present at the meeting i.e. if members present are less than 50, then the Chairman is appointed in accordance with Section 104 of the Act. And if the members present are more than 50, then the Chairman shall be appointed by a poll conducted through electronic voting system during the meeting. i.e. generally, in the case of listed entities, it will be compulsory to have a system of ‘electronic voting during the meeting’ for members attending electronically (i.e. VC or OAVM). This mandatory agenda item of electing the Chairman would consume a lot of time before discussing the agenda for the meeting. For listed entities (at least for 500-BSE companies), the participation in general meeting would be more than 50 members. The MCA direction with reference to the appointment of Chairman for the meeting directly conflicts with the provision in the Act. It would be quite challenging for the companies to comply with the said provision.
  5. According to the MCA directions, where less than 50 members are present in a meeting, the Chairman may decide to conduct a vote by show of hands (i.e. one member is equal to one vote, irrespective of shareholding), unless a demand for poll (i.e. one share is equal to one vote) is made by any member in accordance with Section 109 of the Act. In the VC system or OAVM system, the listed companies would be required to have a mechanism for demanding poll and the shareholders should be equipped to participate in the demand. Considering that e-voting (i.e. one share is equal to one vote) is open not less than 3 days before the general meeting, the MCA should have provided uniform method of voting for the general meeting through VC or OAVM.
  6. Under the Act, the register of directors and KMP and their shareholding shall be kept open for inspection at every annual general meeting of the company and shall be made accessible to any person attending the meeting. The VC system may have a facility of the company to upload the scanned copy of the register and members during the meeting through VC or OAVM may inspect the same. Similarly, if the articles of association of the company are being amended, the draft articles of association can be made available for inspection in the VC system.
  7. According to the extant provisions of the Act, the annual general meeting of the company shall be called during business hours i.e. between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. According to the MCA directions, the convenience of different persons positioned in different time zones shall be kept in mind before scheduling the meeting. Listed entities shall balance the two provisions for conducting the meeting, however ensuring convenience of shareholders in different time zones is difficult.
  8. In case of payment of final dividend, MCA has directed companies to pay dividend though electronic clearing service or any other means. Where the company is unable to pay the dividend to any shareholders by electronic mode, due to non-availability of bank details, the company are directed to dispatch the dividend warrant/cheque to such shareholder by post (i.e. upon normalisation of postal services). Post-lockdown and thereafter, if such dividend is not claimed by the shareholder then it may get credited in unpaid dividend account and then investor education and provident fund (IEPF) account which may be more difficult for the shareholders to claim such dividend.
  9. Considering the fact that the member would be attending the general meeting through VC or OAVM, the concept of proxy has become redundant. As per the MCA Circular, such member would be counted for the purpose of reckoning the quorum under the Act.
  10. Atleast an independent director and auditor/representative of auditor are mandated to attend the such meeting through VC or OAVM. Institutional investors are encouraged to attend and vote at the meeting.

Taking into consideration that MCA has permitted companies to hold the general meetings through VC or OAVM, SEBI may also relax certain provisions of the SEBI Regulations in due course. It will be interesting to see the effective implementation of the dynamic amendments introduced to the provisions of general meeting – i.e. calling of meeting, holding and conducting of meeting. Taking into consideration the current extra-ordinary circumstances due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19, for the general meetings for the year 2020 should be more of ‘shareholders co-operation’ than ‘shareholders activism’, except in exceptional circumstances.


*Practising Company Secretary, Pune. He can be reached at gp@csgauravpingle.com

[1] MCA General Circular No. 14/2020 dated April 8, 2020.

[2] MCA General Circular No. 20/2020 dated May 5, 2020.

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, Deepak Gupta and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has directed extended the limitation prescribed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881. The Court directed that the limitation period under the said Acts,

“shall be extended with effect from 15.03.2020 till further orders to be passed by this Court in the present proceedings.”

The said order of the Court came in furtherance of the order passed on March 23, 2020 in IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 343, wherein the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJhad  invoked its power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and extended limitation period of appeals from high courts or tribunals on account of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Court took into consideration the effect of the Corona Virus (COVID 19) and resultant difficulties being faced by the lawyers and litigants and passed the present order with a view to obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunal across the country including this Court.

The Court further said,

“In case the limitation has expired after 15.03.2020 then the period from 15.03.2020 till the date on which the lockdown is lifted in the jurisdictional area where the dispute lies or where the cause of action arises shall be extended for a period of 15 days after the lifting of lockdown.”

[IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 434 , order dated 06.05.2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Keeping in View the prevailing situation due to outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID—19) and after considering the prevailing situation in the States of Punjab, Haryana and specifically UT Chandigarh Where the unique conditions of lockdown/Curfew and the Containment Zone continues and with a view to ensure the safety of the Judges, Advocates, Staff and litigants; the Administrative Committee has resolved that w.e.f. 04.05.2020, an arrangement shall be put into operation on experimental basis, till further orders, on the court working days of the High Court.

  •  Only urgent matters to be entertained.
  • Mentioning of urgent matter to be made on High Court website from 8.30 am to 10 a.m. on the court working day.
  • Once mentioning request has been declined no further mentioning request in the same matter by the same advocate of party shall be entertained during the aforesaid period.
  • Hearing to be conducted through Video Conferencing.
  • The concerned Advocate/Litigant shall ensure that the Room from where he/she intends to appear before the Court through Video conferencing or Video call is free from all source of disturbances like external noises, poor lighting, improper acoustics. It shall be ensured that judicial proceedings are conducted with taken courtesies and protocol as are being observed during judicial proceedings in the Court. No other person except the advocate/litigant shall be allowed in the Room from where litigant/advocate is appearing through video-conferencing/video-call facility.
  • Advocates/ their clerks/law interns/general public shall not be permitted inside the High Court building during this period.

To read the detailed Order issued by the High Court, please follow the below link:

ORDER


Punjab and Haryana High Court

[Order dt. 02-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

In view of the nationwide lockdown being extended till 17th May 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic and taking into consideration the new guidelines issued by the Government of Sikkim vide Order No. 06/Home/2020 dated 2nd May 2020, it is hereby informed to all concerned that the High Court of Sikkim and the District Courts in the State of Sikkim will continue to function in terms of Notification No. 77/HCS dated 18th March 2020, Guidelines to the District Courts bearing reference No. 78/ HCS dated 18th March 2020 and Circular No. 33/Confdl/HCS dated 24th March 2020.

High Court of Sikkim issues the following instructions:

1. Standard Operating Procedure published vide reference No. 137/Comp/HCS dated 24th March 2020 will continue to operate for hearing of cases through video-conferencing. Helpline number ‘14636’ for queries relating to video-conferencing facilities have also been made operational.

2. Facilitation Centres for video-conferencing established in the High Court of Sikkim and all the District Courts will be made available to such litigants who do not have means or access to video-conferencing facilities. This facility can also be utilized by the learned Advocates, if required.

3. Filing Section of the High Court of Sikkim will remain open from 10 am to 1 pm. Similar arrangements shall be made by the jurisdictional District Judges in their respective Districts.

4. A roster duty arrangement from 4th May 2020 to 17th May 2020 will be made to ensure that urgent administrative works are attended to. Depending on the exigencies of service and situation, the Registrar General of the High Court and the jurisdictional District Judges at the District Courts will place the concerned staff on duty during the roster period.

However, it will be ensured that not more than one-third of the employees should be attending the Office at a time. The jurisdictional District Judges will also consider the new guidelines issued by the Government of Sikkim dated 2nd May 2020, while making the duty roster.

The above instructions will remain effective till 17th May 2020.


Sikkim High Court

[Circular dt. 02-05-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Monthly Roundup)

COVID-19 STORIES


Functioning of courts

Supreme Court issues guidelines on functioning of courts through video conferencing


Release of prisoners

Ensure that prisoners released on parole are not left stranded due to lockdown: SC to Centre

No prisoner shall be released without taking appropriate steps if he/she has suffered from coronavirus disease

SC refuses to pass blanket order for release of prisoners above 50 years of age on parole

Agusta Westland VVIP chopper scam middleman Christian Michel seeks bail; SC asks him to approach HC


Children and women in Protection & shelter homes

SC issues extensive directions to protect children in Protection Homes from spread of coronavirus

SC suggests Centre to extend directions to protect children in Protection Homes from spread of coronavirus to Nari Niketans as well


Migrant workers

SC refuses to entertain plea seeking requisition of private properties to provide shelter to migrant workers

SC seeks Centre’s response on plea seeking payment of basic minimum wages to migrant workers

Centre submits affidavit on plea seeking minimum wages for migrant workers during lockdown

SC leaves issue of payment of minimum basic wages to migrant workers to Centre


Healthcare professionals, testing kits, masks, etc.

Doctors and healthcare professionals are “warriors”; protect them: SC issues directions

Don’t charge exorbitant fees from public for Coronavirus testing: SC asks Centre

SC seeks Centre’s response on PIL calling for WHO-approved protection kits for health care professionals

We are making masks, sanitisers, etc available to public at reasonable price: Govt. tells SC

Everyone not eligible for free testing kits; To be made free only to the economically weaker sections of society

SC refuses to pass order on petition seeking changes in the treatment guidelines; Asks ICMR to look into the matter


Other orders

Ration to people without ration cards: SC refuses to pass order on ‘policy issue’

Not appropriate to impose a financial emergency right now; SC adjourns the matter

This institution is not hostage of government: Furious SC tells advocate Prashant Bhushan during migrant workers hearing


TOP STORIES


Uniform NEET for admission to Medical & Dental courses does not violate rights of the unaided/aided minority institutions

“There is no right given to maladminister the education derogatory to the national interest. The quality of medical education is imperative to sub­serve the national interest, and the merit cannot be compromised.”

Scandalous allegations against SC judges: SC finds all 3 advocates guilty of contempt

“The allegations are also scurrilous and scandalous and such allegations cannot be permitted to be made against the Judges of highest Court of the country.”

Some relief to finacially stressed Vodafone Idea as SC directs payment of Rs.733 Crores tax refund within 4 weeks

Vodafone Idea had sought Rs 4,759.07 crore in tax refund from for Assessment Years 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18. The Court directed a tax refund of Rs.733 Crores to the company within 4 weeks. It also directed the Income Tax department to conclude the proceedings initiated pursuant to notice under sub-section (2) of Section 143 of the Act in respect of AY 2016-17 and 2017-18 as early as possible.

Centre to pay Rs. 1 Lakh compensation for improper handling of sexual harassment allegation by former RAW agent Nisha Priya Bhatia

The Court upheld the compulsory retirement for former RAW agent Nisha Priya Bhatia, who had levelled sexual harassment complaints against colleagues Ashok Chaturvedi and Sunil Uke, on the ground of “exposure” having regard to the nature of work of the Organisation of which confidentiality and secrecy are inalienable elements. It, however, asked the Centre to pay, within 6 weeks, compensation quantified at Rs.1,00,000/­  to Nisha Priya Bhatia for violation of her fundamental rights to life and dignity, as a result of the improper handling of her complaint of sexual harassment.

Arnab Goswami vs Sonia Gandhi Row| SC grants 3 weeks protection from arrest to Arnab Goswami; stays all but one FIR

In the petition filed by Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami, challenging the FIRs registered against him in various parts of the country for alleged defamation of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has granted 3 weeks of interim protection and no coercive action against the petitioner, Arnab Goswami.

Andhra Pradesh’s 100% reservation for Scheduled Tribe candidates for the post of teachers without rhyme or reason: SC

The 5-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose, JJ held that there was no rhyme or reason with the State Government to resort to 100% reservation.

“It was least expected from the functionary like Government to act in aforesaid manner as they were bound by the dictum laid down by this Court in Indra Sawhney and other decisions holding that the limit of reservation not to exceed 50%.”

Madhya Pradesh Governor had the Constitutional authority to order floor test: SC

“In a situation where the Governor has reasons to believe that the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister has lost the confidence of the House, constitutional propriety requires that the issue be resolved by calling for a floor test. The Governor in calling for a floor test cannot be construed to have acted beyond the bounds of constitutional authority.”


MORE STORIES


SC quashes Income Tax department notice to NDTV seeking to re-assessment of for financial year 2007-08

Legislature has not defeated the dictum in Bharat Earth Movers case by inserting clause (f) to Section 43B of the IT Act

State Government cannot fix the “minimum price” of sugarcane once Centre has already fixed it

Petition for removal of Karnataka-Kerala border disposed of after SG apprises agreement already been reached between States

Medical Oxygen IP and Nitrous Oxide IP are ‘drugs’ as per Section 3(b)(i) of the the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940

 

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

In the light of Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) of the Government of India dated 15.04.2020 on the subject of functioning of Government establishments during lockdown period on account of pandemic COVID-19, requiring 100% attendance of the officers of level of Deputy Secretary and above and upto 33% attendance of remaining staff, it has been decided as follows:

(1) With effect from 04.05.2020, the Chairperson and Members of the National Green Tribunal, as well all the officers of the National Green Tribunal (Deputy Registrars and above) will attend the Office with 100% attendance, while the remaining staff upto 33% strength shall physically attend the Office as separately notified from time to time. The section heads/incharge of all sections shall prepare rosters of staff required to attend office physically by rotation. The staff members not required to present physically at the Office, shall always remain available on phone and electronic means of communication, and shall attend office physically as and when required.

(2) Considering the health and safety of lawyers / public / litigants / staff, till the situation of Corona improves, judicial work will be conducted by the Benches of NGT only by Video Conferencing, without physical presence/appearance of parties or their counsel in the NGT complex. Only online filing (e-filing) of cases is allowed and no physical filing is permitted. The parties/lawyers may request for listing or adjournment of their cases or make urgent mentioning, by sending an email in advance to judicialngt@nic.in. All communication with NGT qua listing of cases, filing of documents/reports, filing of written submissions / synopsis / audio of oral submissions (if any) etc. shall be done only through this email ID.

(3) The lawyers/litigants desirous of participating personally in VC hearings are required to send request at the above email ID in advance, giving their names, case title, case number, date of hearing, email IDs, mobile numbers, etc. For VC hearings, NGT shall be using “Vidyo” App whereby users can join Vidyo room from their mobile phones/laptops/desktops having adequate internet facility. Vidyo App can be downloaded from link given in website ecourtvc.nic.in as well as Google Play Store (for android) and Apple Store (for iOS). If request for personal hearing through VC is permitted by the Bench, the time and link with one-time password for VC hearing shall be shared with the parties by the Office.

(4) Entry to NGT complex shall be restricted only to its staff. All the safety and precautionary guidelines issued by the Government shall be scrupulously followed by all concerned. The staff shall maintain social distancing norms and protocols, shall wear face masks throughout, shall pass through thermal scanner at entry gate and shall sanitize/wash hands at appropriate intervals. There shall be no crowding at any place / branch in NGT complex and seating of staff shall be arranged accordingly. The NGT complex, including surfaces of furniture and frequently touched objects, shall be sanitized with disinfectants on daily basis.

This shall be subject to further modification if and when further instructions are received from the Government.


National Green Tribunal

[Office Order dt. 28-04-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Chief Justice of the M.P. High Court has ordered to suspend the hearing of cases even through video conferencing upto 3-5-2020 only at the Indore Bench. However, hearing of cases via video conferencing will remain operational at the Gwalior Bench and at the Principal Bench at Jabalpur.

The decision was taken after considering the present scenario and spread of COVID-19 in Indore city. As per the information received by the Court, there are more than 1000 COVID-19 +ve cases and 171 identified hotspots in Indore city, out of which 20 are declared highly sensitive. Notably, 1 employee of the Indore Bench Registry has been found positive for COVID-19 and some officials have been quarantined.    

Earlier, in the wake of unprecedented and uncertain situation due to outbreak of COVID-19, the Court working was deferred from 25-3-2020 to 14-4-2020 by a notification issued by the High Court. The operation of that notification was extended till 3-5-2020.

As per the Video Conferencing and E-Filing Guidelines dated 15-4-2020/16-4-2020, it was directed that urgent matters shall be filed through e-filing or through email and hearing of the cases may be conducted through video conferencing.


Madhya Pradesh High Court

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of N.V. Anjaria and Ashok Kumar C. Joshi, JJ. addressed a petition wherein Writ of Habeas Corpus was sought in order to produce the daughter of the petitioner.

Matter:

Petitioner’s minor daughter was taken by respondent 4 when she was doing some labour work at a factory. Respondent 4 was also engaged in working at the same factory. Petitioner had lodged an FIR for offenses punishable under Sections 363 and 366 of Penal Code, 1860 as well as Section 18 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012., but no satisfactory reply came from the police.

In view of the above, petitioner approached the High Court through the present petition.

Further on issuance of order by this court, respondent-3 /Police was asked to take steps to trace the corpus. Later the proceedings kept adjourning due to the COVID-19 Outbreak and consequential suspension of regular court working.

In the meantime, Police succeed in tracing the minor girl with respondent 4. Girl and Respondent 4 were found to be in Panvel Talk of Ahmednagar District in the State of Maharashtra. On 18-04-2020 corpus was brought back to Gujarat. It was found that respondent 4 had taken the girl to various different places during the period.

As the Corpus was in police custody, request was made by the Additional Public Prosecutor to get the matter listed so that the girl could be produced before the Court. Thus the matter after being listed by Registry came up before the Court.

Permission was granted for the corpus to be produce through video-conferencing as, in the present circumstances it was not possible.

According to the Police Report it was noted that the girl was made to go through medical examination and the report for the same submitted to the Court. Respondent 4 had already been booked pursuant to the FIR and events thereafter.

According to the statement recorded by police, it was stated by the Corpus that she was willing to go her parent’s house.

Bench wanted to make sure of the fact that the girl was saying the above out of her own will and thus she was produced before the Court wherein the same question of her willingness was asked and Corpus stated that she was willing to go. Parents of the Corpus were also asked about their willingness to take their daughter to which their response was in positive.

Court directed the parents of the Corpus to take proper care their minor daughter, in view of the stated corpus was permitted to go with her parents. Police authorities were also directed to ensure safe passage of the corpus and her parents.

To ensure the well being of the Corpus, authorities concerned were erected to depute a Social Welfare Officer from the District and the said officer shall visit the house of corpus and report before ether competent authority after one month.

Petition disposed in the above terms. [Atubhai Nanjibhai Baraiya v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 506 , decided on 21-04-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Chief Justice Justice of Madras High Court issues the following further directions with reference to the mode of filing and hearing of cases in the Principal Seat at Madras in view of the COVID 19 Outbreak :-

1. In view of the inconvenience to be faced by the lawyers, litigant etc. in physically attending court proceeding due to lockdown, court proceeding of extreme urgent matters shall be conducted via video-conferencing or otherwise through the mode which is compatible to the Registry from time to time.

2. For all matters involving extreme urgency, the Advocate/Party is first required to send the scanned copy of the Petition/Application/Grounds of appeal along with the requisite documents as filed physically in the Registry in support of their case, the scanned copy of Memo containing not more than 200 words citing attention to be required to hear the case during this exigency and the precisely made Written Arguments in PDF Format to the email ID – m.jothiraman@aij.gov.in and to the email ID of the Designated Officer concerned of the Registry.

3. If Advocate/Party intend to file Petition/Appeal/Application against Union or State during this exigency, the Carbon Copy (CC) of the same is required to be marked to the respective Law Officers.

4. The said Memo shall inter-alia clearly contain the case-details, contact-details of the Advocate/Party including e-mail id, mobile number and alternate number(s), Enrolment number and residence/office address with Pin Code. The said Memo shall also contain the undertaking that they will abide with the instructions given by the Information Technology Wing of the Registry for effective functioning of Court through Video Conferencing.

5. The Court fee and other charges, if payable to the Petition/Application/Appeal so filed, shall be remitted through E-stamping facility by utilizing the services of STOCK HOLIDING CORPORATION OF INDIA LIMITED (SHCIL) through on-line mode or otherwise and the scanned acknowledgement receipt for the said remittance shall be sent along with the copy of the Petition/Application/Appeal.

6. Advocates/Parties are required to remit Court fee and other charges that are payable to the Appeals/Petitions/Applications so far filed through email and Registered by the Registry ie., from 26.03.2020 to 17.04.2020 within the period of two weeks from the date of Functioning of Regular Court.

7. Upon receipt of the case papers along with the Memo, the same shall be placed before the Court concerned through e-mode, for obtaining permission by the Registry. If the Hon hie Court concerned so directs, then only the case will be taken up on file, otherwise, the case shall deemed to be considered as non-emergent case.

8. Upon receipt of the permission from the Court concerned for entertaining the case, the same shall be intimated to the Advocate/Party, if the Court considers as necessary, by the Designated Officer by return of email or by other means of communication as per the directions of the Court concerned.

9. If the Court insists for the hard copy of the case papers, the Advocate/Party shall make necessary arrangements to furnish hard copy of the case papers that are sent through e-mail. The said hard copy of the case papers shall be handover to the Registry in the Pass Counters near Dr.Ambedkar Statue in the High Court campus from 10.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. during Court working days.

10. The Registry would act only upon such emails that are sent to the email ID as specified above, and reply would be sent by the Designated Officer concerned, only when the Court so directs, to the same email ID from where the request would have come or by other means of communication as per the directions of the Court concerned.

11. Instructions for participating Court Proceedings through Video Conferencing facility will be intimated to the Advocates/Parties by the Registry.

Click on the link below to read the notification: 

NOTIFICATION


Madras High Court

[Notification dt. 17-04-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

It is hereby notified for information of all concerned that upon consideration of the prevailing situation of the pandemic of COVID-19 (Corona Virus), the Hon’ble the Chief Justice, High Court, Calcutta has been pleased to direct that the order of suspension of regular works of the Hon’ble Court and its Circuit Benches, and also in the Subordinate Courts/Offices under its control, as contained in the Court’s Notification No. 1498-RG dated 24.03.2020 read with Corrigendum No. 1504-RG dated 24.03.2020, shall continue to operate till 30th April, 2020.

The Chief Justice has further been pleased to direct that during the period from 9-04-2020 to 30-04-2020, there shall be two Division Benches and three Single Benches on each day, i.e. on 16.04.2020, 21.04.2020, 23.04.2020, 28.04.2020 and 30.04.2020, for taking up extremely urgent matters through Microsoft Teams or other electronic medium.

*To read the detailed notification, please follow the link:

NOTIFICATION


Calcutta High Court

[Notification dt. 08-04-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Andhra Pradesh High Court issues guidelines for hearing of cases through video conferencing during lockdown period in the Subordinate Courts

Following are the guidelines:

  • All the Subordinate Courts shall ensure that the measures have been taken to reduce the need for the physical presence within Court premises and to secure the functioning of the Courts in consonance with social distancing guidelines and best public health practices shall be deemed to be lawful.
  • All the Subordinate Courts shall ensure that the urgent cases are heard by adopting the mode of video conferencing through a convenient video conferencing app/software.
  • The Subordinate Courts can proceed with pronouncement of judgments/orders in Civil cases by issuing notices to both the counsels through whatsapp, e-mail and also by uploading the notice in the official website of District Court under the caption ‘NOTICE’.
  • The facility of video conferencing for the stakeholders including legal aid counsel is to be provided for participating in hearing of the cases through video conferencing, if they are not having such facility. The concerned District Legal Services Authority or Mandal Legal Services Committee shall take care of arrangement of such facility, if they are approached by the stakeholders.
  • All the Judicial Officers shall note that since the High Court is in the process of framing transitional guidelines for e-filing and video conferencing, the video conferencing shall be mainly employed for hearing arguments whether at trial stage or appellate stage.
  • The trial Courts shall record evidence in urgent cases through Video conferencing only, with consent of both the parties.

To read the detailed guidelines, please follow the link:

GUIDELINES


Andhra Pradesh High Court

[Notification dt. 08-04-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Faced with the unprecedented and extraordinary outbreak of a pandemic, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ has called for functioning of courts through video conferencing. It said that it was necessary that Courts at all levels respond to the call of social distancing and ensure that court premises do not contribute to the spread of virus.

Exercising it’s power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Court, hence, issued the following guidelines:

  • All measures that have been and shall be taken by this Court and by the High Courts, to reduce the need for the physical presence of all stakeholders within court premises and to secure the functioning of courts in consonance with social distancing guidelines and best public health practices shall be deemed to be lawful;
  • The Supreme Court of India and all High Courts are authorized to adopt measures required to ensure the robust functioning of the judicial system through the use of video conferencing technologies;
  • Consistent with the peculiarities of the judicial system in every state and the dynamically developing public health situation, every High Court is authorised to determine the modalities which are suitable to the temporary transition to the use of video conferencing technologies;
  • The concerned courts shall maintain a helpline to ensure that any complaint in regard to the quality or audibility of feed shall be communicated during the proceeding or immediately after its conclusion failing which no grievance in regard to it shall be entertained thereafter.
  • The District Courts in each State shall adopt the mode of Video Conferencing prescribed by the concerned High Court.
  • The Court shall duly notify and make available the facilities for video conferencing for such litigants who do not have the means or access to video conferencing facilities. If necessary, in appropriate cases courts may appoint an amicus-curiae and make video conferencing facilities available to such an advocate.
  • Until appropriate rules are framed by the High Courts, video conferencing shall be mainly employed for hearing arguments whether at the trial stage or at the appellate stage. In no case shall evidence be recorded without the mutual consent of both the parties by video conferencing. If it is necessary to record evidence in a Court room the presiding officer shall ensure that appropriate distance is maintained between any two individuals in the Court.
  • The presiding officer shall have the power to restrict entry of persons into the court room or the points from which the arguments are addressed by the advocates. No presiding officer shall prevent the entry of a party to the case unless such party is suffering from any infectious illness. However, where the number of litigants are many the presiding officer shall have the power to restrict the numbers. The presiding officer shall in his discretion adjourn the proceedings where it is not possible to restrict the number.

Courts throughout the country particularly at the level of the Supreme Court and the High Courts have employed video conferencing for dispensation of Justice and as guardians of the Constitution and as protectors of individual liberty governed by the rule of law.

[IN RE: GUIDELINES FOR COURT FUNCTIONING THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCING DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 355, order dated 06.04.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva and Navin Chawla, JJ. addressed the matter with regard to the issues being faced by the Delhi Riot victims.

The present hearing has been conducted through video conferencing.

Senior Advocate, Colin Gonsalves contended that Delhi Riot Victims have been facing several issues, he stated that the victims were staying at Idgah Camp but the Government has cleared the camp due to which they had to relocate themselves. In view of the lockdown they are facing several issues with regard to medical and food.

Standing Counsel for GNCTD, Rahul Mehra states that the camp has been removed as the victims voluntarily left camp and were not removed by police or government.

He added to his submission that, in view the present situation and also the directions with regard to lockdown issued by the Central Government, the officers shall get in touch with the representatives of each of the 275 families, whose names and telephone numbers have been provided and will further ascertain whether any assistance with regard to food, medical help etc. is required by them.

The families will be provided with the Nodal officers details for any kind of assistance during an emergent situation. In case any of the families require accommodation, efforts shall be made to immediately place them in appropriate accommodation/relief camps.

Senior Advocate, Colin Gonsalves further submits that there is an apprehension with regard to shifting them to the existing night shelters in and around their respective localities.

Standing Counsel for East Delhi Municipal Corporation submit that authorities shall coordinate between themselves and ensure that such families are not accommodated in the existing night shelters.

List for directions/reporting compliance on 03.04.2020 [Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine Del 49, decided on 30-03-2020]

Also Read:

COVID-19 | Del HC | Delhi riot victims who may be shelterless to be provided accommodation and basic amenities

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

“Having regard to the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it has become imperative to ensure that the spread of the Corona Virus within the prisons is controlled.”

Supreme Court: Noticing that the issue of overcrowding of prisons is a matter of serious concern particularly in the present context of the pandemic of Corona Virus (COVID – 19), the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJ has directed each State/Union Territory to constitute a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate.

The said committee would comprise of:

  • Chairman of the State Legal Services Committee,
  • Principal Secretary (Home/Prison) by whatever designation is known as,
  • Director General of Prison(s)

Giving example, the Court said that the State/Union Territory could consider the release of prisoners who have been convicted or are undertrial for offences for which prescribed punishment is up to 7 years or less, with or without fine and the prisoner has been convicted for a lesser number of years than the maximum.

The Court, however, left it open for the High Powered Committee to determine the category of prisoners who should be released as aforesaid, depending upon the nature of offence, the number of years to which he or she has been sentenced or the severity of the offence with which he/she is charged with and is facing trial or any other relevant factor, which the Committee may consider appropriate.

The Court, further, directed,

  • prison specific readiness and response plans must be developed in consultation with medical experts. “Interim guidance on Scaling-up COVID-19 Outbreak in Readiness and Response Operations in camps and camp like settings” jointly developed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Health Organisation (WHO), published by Inter-Agency Standing Committee of United Nations on 17 March, 2020 may be taken into consideration for similar circumstances.
  • monitoring team must be set up at the state level to ensure that the directives issued with regard to prison and remand homes are being complied with scrupulously.
  • the physical presence of all the undertrial prisoners before the Courts must be stopped forthwith and recourse to video conferencing must be taken for all purposes.

“Looking into the possible threat of transmission and fatal consequences, it is necessary that prisons must ensure maximum possible distancing among the prisoners including undertrials.”

  • the transfer of prisoners from one prison to another for routine reasons must not be resorted except for decongestion to ensure social distancing and medical assistance to an ill prisoner.
  • there should not be any delay in shifting sick person to a Nodal Medical Institution in case of any possibility of infection is seen.

[IN RE : CONTAGION OF COVID 19 VIRUS IN PRISONS,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 344, order dated 23.03.2020]


Also read:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| SC restricts it’s functioning to avoid mass gatherings in Courts; Only urgent matters to be heard

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| SC extends limitation period for filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals, etc.

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of nonavailability of mid-day meals for children due to Coronavirus shutdown

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons in the wake of Coronavirus

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJ invoked its power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and extended limitation period of appeals from high courts or tribunals on account of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In order to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file petitions/applications/suits/ appeals/all other proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunals across the country including this Court, the Court directed,

“a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f. 15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings.”

The said order of the Court came after taking suo motu cognizance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country on account of COVID-19 Virus and resultant difficulties that may be faced by litigants across the country in filing their petitions/applications/suits/ appeals/all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under Special Laws.

The order of the Court order is binding on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities.

Earlier today, the same bench had said that it was mulling a shutdown amid rising coronavirus cases in the country. The Court opted to hold video-conference to hear extremely urgent matters in an unprecedented move.

[IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 343, order dated 23.03.2020]


Also read:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| SC restricts it’s functioning to avoid mass gatherings in Courts; Only urgent matters to be heard

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of nonavailability of mid-day meals for children due to Coronavirus shutdown

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons in the wake of Coronavirus

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Honourable Chief Justice has issued the following order to deal with the present crisis:

Considering the gravity of situation prevailing not only in the State of Gujarat but also in the entire nation, after due consultation with Honourable Members of the Standing Committee, learned Advocate General, learned Public Prosecutor, learned Government Pleader, learned Assistant Solicitor General and the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association, it has been decided to take up all extremely urgent matters, both on the civil and criminal side, in continuation of the previous orders issued, to be by Video Conferencing. This will be effective with effect from Monday, the 23rd March, 2020. The matters already fixed by the respective Courts for Monday, 23rd March, 2020 will be taken up by the newly assigned Division Bench and the learned Single Judge in their physical form in their respective Courts. No fresh filing in physical form will be accepted from Monday, 23rd March, 2020. However, the matters which have already been presented in the Registry, and in which mention for urgency is accepted during this crisis period, no soft copy would be required. The arguments thereof, however, will be through video conferencing only. The matters in which mention for being urgent, made before the assigned Benches on Monday, 23rd March, 2020 and accepted for being taken up on the same day, may be in the physical form. The modalities for submitting soft copies of the petition and connectivity by way of Video Conferencing are provided in detail in the attached methodology. This will curtail the movement of judges, lawyers, staff of the High Court as also the staff of the lawyers and the litigants. The Honourable Judges will work from their respective chambers whereas others will be able to work from home or their office.

One Division Bench for all civil & criminal matters and one Single Judge Bench for all civil & criminal matters would be nominated by the Chief Justice for the said purpose. The Benches may change from day to day or remain the same as the Chief Justice may deem fit.

Matters where judgment is to be pronounced, would be notified through SMS & Email to the respective lawyers appearing in the matters and a link of Zoom Cloud Meeting would be sent indicating the time also so that respective lawyers may get connected and hear the pronouncement.

The above measures are being taken only for the period of the crisis presently prevailing. As soon as, normal functioning starts, the above system will cease.

*To read the detailed circular, please click on the link below:

CIRCULAR


Gujarat High Court

[Circular dt. 23-03-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJ said it was mulling a shutdown amid rising coronavirus cases in the country. The Court opted to hold video-conference to hear urgent matters in an unprecedented move.

CJI S A Bobde said,

“I will take a call by today itself on possible shut down or pre-poning summer vacation, as demanded by lawyer bodies.”

Earlier, the Court had issued notice that on Monday hearing will take place only in the CJI’s court at 11:00 AM.

The Supreme Court has also ordered the lawyers’ chambers inside the Court premises to be closed down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All lawyers’ chambers in and around SC premises to be sealed by Tuesday evening,”

Here are the steps taken by the Court in the wake of Corona virus:

“only the Supreme Court Bar Association president can authorise lawyers to enter court premises for urgent reasons.”

  • Court to take a call today on shutting down the Court or pre-poning summer vacation.

The Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association had passed a resolution on Sunday saying none of their members will appear in the court till April 4. They have also appealed to CJI Bobde to close down the court premises in “the best interest of the health of the bar and bench.” It also underlined that in view of the closing of Delhi borders and suspension of the metro services, advocates from Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram would not be able to reach the Supreme Court.

The confirmed cases in the country soared to 415 on Monday even as the government ordered lockdown of 80 districts across 17 states and five Union Territories including all seven districts in Delhi. India has also recorded seven deaths due to the viral infection so far.

(Source: Outlook)

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Board meetings under the Companies Act, 2013

Considering the need to take precautionary steps to overcome the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the Government has in-principle decided to relax the requirement of holding Board meetings with physical presence of directors under section 173 (2) r/w rule 4 of the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014 for approval of the annual financial statements, Board’s report, etc. Such meetings may till 30th June, 2020 be held through video conferencing or other audio visual means by duly ensuring compliance of rule 3 of the said rules. The necessary changes in the rules in this regard are expected to be notified soon.


Ministry of Corporate Affairs