Today’s Legal Updates

Thursday, 18th May 2023

Legal Awareness: – CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

Part – IX THE PANCHAYATS

Article – 243A Gram Sabha.

A Gram Sabha may exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as the Legislature of a State may, by Law, provide.

Today’s Legal Updates: 

  1. On Thursday the Supreme Court said in its verdict allowing bull taming sport Jallikattu, Court will not venture into into judicial adventurism to bring bulls within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution which guarantees right to life.  (Animal Welfare Board of India and ors vs Union of India and ors)
    • A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court of Justices KM JosephAjay RastogiAniruddha BoseHrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar upheld the validity of amendments made by Tamil Nadu to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) thereby paving the way for Jallikattu to be conducted in the State.
    • the Court said in its judgment, While the protection under Article 21 has been conferred on person as opposed to a citizen, which is the case in Article 19 of the Constitution, we do not think it will be prudent for us to venture into a judicial adventurism to bring bulls within the said protected mechanism.
    • In this regard, detaining a stray bull from the street against its wish could give rise to the constitutional writ of habeas corpus or not.
    • the judgment said, While we can test the provisions of an animal welfare legislation, that would be at the instance of a human being or a juridical person who may espouse the cause of animal welfare.
    • The Court chose to respond, For instance, while other means of carriage of goods are available, why should bulls be permitted to undertake such activities – which are apparently involuntary and subject these sentient bovine species to pain and suffering? Horse racing is allowed under Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001. Horse is also a sentient animal. But the fact remains that by making them perform in races, some element of pain and suffering must be caused to horses. Here, the focus shifts from causing pain and suffering to the degree of pain and suffering to which a sentient animal is subjected to while being compelled to undertake certain activities for the benefit of human beings.
    • the bench underlined, In our opinion, we should not take up this balancing exercise which has societal impact in discharge of our judicial duties. This kind of exercise ought to be left for the legislature to decide upon.
    • the Court said, All three amendment acts are valid legislations and we direct that all laws are strictly implemented and the DM and competent authorities shall be responsible for strict implementation of the amended law.
  2. On Thursday the West Bengal government has moved the Supreme Court challenging a Calcutta High Court order which directed a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into violence that broke out during Ram Navami processions in several areas of the State in March.  (State of West Bengal v. Suvendu Adhikari)
    • A Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala observed that the NIA can investigate when there are scheduled offences involved.
    • A Division Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam had ordered, The writ petitions are disposed of by directing the concerned police to ensure that all FIRs, documents, materials, CCTV footage, etc be immediately handed over to the authority of the NIA, who on receipt of all the entire materials shall commence investigation and proceed in accordance with the law.
    • the ACJ had then observed, Internet suspension usually takes place when there has been an external danger or infiltration etc. But for a religious procession, we don’t understand why (internet was suspended). Sudden violence is when people are walking and there is an altercation etc. But your (State’s) reports prima facie show these (violence) were all pre-planned. There are allegations of stones being hurled from rooftops. Obviously it is not possible for anyone to take stones up to the rooftop within 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. On Thursday the Supreme Court stayed the decision of the West Bengal government to ban screening of the film The Kerala Story in the State.  (Qurban Ali vs Central Board of Film Certification and Anr.)
    • A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala stayed the ban order of West Bengal and also directed the State of Tamil Nadu to provide security to theatres.
    • the Court ordered, West Bengal by an order dated May 8 issued an order under Section 6(1) read with section 4 of West Bengal Cinemas Regulation Act prohibiting exhibition of the film in entire West Bengal. Prima facie we are of the view that the prohibition by West Bengal is not tenable on the basis of material before. Thus the order banning the film is stayed.
    • the Court underlined, While recording this we direct that adequate security shall be provided to every cinema hall and requisite arrangement shall be made to ensure safety of movie goers. No express steps whether tacit etc shall be taken to prevent screening of the film.
    • the bench said, The challenge to the final judgment of the Madras High Court challenging the CBFC certification we will list after vacations. We will have to see the film for that. We will do that.
    • The prejudice created by these propaganda films. It leads to ghettoisation. There is discrimination in terms of employment. Ramifications are larger. People don’t get rental houses. When 19(2) restrictions are seen promise of fraternity also has to be seen. Please see the movie over the weekend and just have one hearing to see if anything else can be done.
    • Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta informed the Court that, One month will not change anything. The societal realities are always projected in films.
  4. On Thursday the Supreme Court refused to lift the stay imposed by the Patna High Court on the caste census being undertaken by the State of Bihar.  (State of Bihar and ors vs Youth for Equality and Ors.)
    • A Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Rajesh Bindal refused relief to the Bihar government after noting that the Patna High Court has listed the case for final hearing on 3th July.
    • the Supreme Court noted, The impugned order is an interim one and the court has posted the main writ for hearing on July 3. In fact, the state government on May 9 moved applications before the Court that were disposed of. Contention of Advocate General was specifically rejected that final opinions were expressed. In fact, the High Court has observed that the court was open to other contentions when taken up for hearing.
    • the Court directed, Counsel for the petitioner states that the petition may be listed one week after July 3. He submits that if the High Court does not conduct the final hearing, this court may consider the matter on merits. We accordingly direct that this petition be listed on July 14 if for any reason hearing before High Court does not commence.
    • Senior Advocate Shyam Divan representing the Bihar government said that, This particular survey will require 10 more days. There is a mobilisation taken place. Our survey not on a 100% basis like a census but voluntary….There is a distinction between survey and census. Census is on a particular date and for the whole population.
    • the top court remarked, The (High) Court has gone into it and said stop for now…High Court had flagged data privacy issues.
    • Senior Advocate Shyam Divan submitted, Budgetary allowance has been made. People have been mobilised. Nobody is contesting the situation.
    • he asked, It cannot be that you stop the survey. Other States have also done it; it is not something new. Can anybody have an objection to a scheme for disbursal of benefits.
    • the bench asked, All we are saying is, there are prima facie findings recorded. Why should we interfere?
  5. On Thursday the Supreme Court sought the response of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a plea by former Delhi cabinet minister and senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader seeking bail in the money laundering case registered against him. (Satyendar Kumar Jain v Directorate of Enforcement)
    • A bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli also gave Jain the liberty to move the top court’s vacation bench seeking urgent listing of his plea against a Delhi High Court judgment denying him bail.
    • the bench directed, Issue notice and liberty to move vacation bench, objections may be filed.
    • Senior Advocate AM Singhvi (Appearing for Jain) submitted He has lost 35 kgs and he is a skeleton now.
  6. On Thursday an appeal has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging an order of the Allahabad High Court allowing a scientific investigation to ascertain whether the object found during the survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque premises is a Shiva linga or a fountain.
    • The case was mentioned before a bench comprising the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala by Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi representing the Muslim party in the matter.
    • The Supreme Court agreed to list the case for hearing Friday.
    • the High Court said, Court has no hesitation in observing that the report forwarded by the Superintending Archaeologist, ASI Sarnath Circle, Sarnath, Varanasi, would make it feasible and convenient that scientific investigation can be made to the extent and purport without causing harm to the site / Shivlingam in issue. That way, the natural premise that would follow, would proceed on theme that the actual site of the Shivlingam would remain preserved and protected.
  7. On Thursday the Supreme Court issued notice to the Delhi Policed on the bail plea filed by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student and activist Umar Khalid in connection with the Delhi Riots conspiracy case.
    • A bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli sought the response of the Delhi Police and posted the matter for further consideration after six weeks.
    • the Court ordered, Issue notice. Liberty to move vacation bench.
    • Sibal said, After vacation is fine.
    • the bench stated, Returnable in 6 weeks then.
  8. On Thursday A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the validity of amendments made by Tamil Nadu to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), thereby permitting bovine sport Jallikattu.  (Animal Welfare Board of India and ors vs Union of India and ors)
    • A Constitution Bench of Justices KM JosephAjay RastogiAniruddha BoseHrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar said that the amendments have been introduced to reduce pain and suffering of bovines and to allow the sport to continue.
    • the judgment said, There is no flaw in State action.. It is a bovine sport and participation will be allowed as per the rules. Act is not relatable to Article 48 of the constitution. Incidental impact may fall upon certain types of bulls affecting agricultural activity but it is referable, in pith and substance, to Entry 17, List III of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.
    • the Court said, All three amendment acts are valid legislations and we direct that all laws are strictly implemented and the DM and competent authorities shall be responsible for strict implementation of the amended law.
    • The following were the questions of law were considered by the apex court:
      • Is the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act referable, in pith and substance, to Entry 17, List III of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, or does it further and perpetuate cruelty to animals; and can it, therefore, be said to be a measure of prevention of cruelty to animals? Is it colourable legislation which does not relate to any Entry in the State List or Entry 17 of the Concurrent List?
      • The Tamil Nadu Amendment Act states that it is to preserve the cultural heritage of the State of Tamil Nadu. Can the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act be stated to be part of the cultural heritage of  the people of the State of Tamil Nadu so as to receive the protection of Article 29 of the Constitution of India?
      • Is the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act, in pith and substance, to ensure the survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls? Is the Act, in pith and substance, relatable to Article 48 of the Constitution of India?
      • Does the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act go contrary to Articles 51A(g) and 51A(h), and could it be said, therefore, to be unreasonable and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India?
      • Is the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act directly contrary to the judgment in A Nagaraja, and the review judgment dated 16th November, 2016 in the aforesaid case, and whether the defects pointed out in the aforesaid two judgments could be said to have been overcome by the Tamil Nadu Legislature by enacting the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act?
  9. On Thursday the Central government cleared the appointment of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan as judges of the Supreme Court.
    • They will be sworn in as judges at 10.30 am on May 19, Friday.
  10. On Thursday the President of India Draupadi Murmu notified that Arjun Ram Meghwal has been assigned the independent charge as Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice in addition to his existing portfolio.
    • Kiren Rijiju, who was functioning as the Minister of Law and Justice, has been given the portfolio of the Ministry of Earth & Sciences.
  11. On Thursday the Delhi High Court rejected Dettol’s plea to restrain Wipro Enterprises from running an advertisement which allegedly disparaged the former while promoting its own Santoor Hand Wash.  (Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Limited & Anr v Wipro Enterprises (P) Limited)
    • Single-judge Justice C Hari Shankar dismissed the interim relief application noting that the Santoor advertisement does not denigrate or disparage Dettol.
    • the Court said, It would be reading too much into the impugned advertisement, in my opinion, to extract, from it, anything derogatory or deprecating regarding Dettol… Even if all these features of the advertisement are collectively seen, they do not make out, in any manner of speaking, a message which either denigrates or disparages Dettol.
    • the Court said, Priya’s amazement, especially considering that it is the reaction of a little girl, all of around 5 to 6 years of age, cannot be subjected to a searching psychoanalysis. She finds her mother’s hands soft, and is delighted at it. It cannot, thereby, be legitimately held that Priya was, impliedly, conveying a message that, earlier, her mother’s hands had not been soft. At the highest, all that could be said was that, perhaps, her mother’s hands were softer than they used to be. Priya’s reaction is the spontaneous reaction of a child, not the searching response of a critic.
    • the Court concluded and dismissed the application, No prima facie case is, therefore, made out, to injunct the broadcasting or display of the impugned advertisement.
  12. On Thursday the Calcutta High Court dismissed the application filed by Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee seeking to recall the order passed by Justice Abhijit Banerjee ordering a CBI and ED probe against him in the school jobs for cash scam.  (Abhishek Banerjee vs Soumen Nandy)
    • Single-judge Justice Amrita Sinha also dismissed the plea filed by arrested accused Kuntal Ghosh, who had alleged that he was being tortured by the ED officers to implicate Abhishek Banerjee in the case.
    • Justice Sinha pronounced in the court, Both the applications are dismissed, with costs of ₹50 lakh. Each one has to deposit ₹25 lakh.
    • Justice Sinha told the advocates representing both CBI and ED, Whatever that is mentioned in the sealed envelopes is of pre-historic age. The agencies have given details of what happened in 2022 but we are in 2023. No new and recent development ia mentioned in these envelopes. Are the agencies waiting for the evidences to be vanished?
    • Banerjee’s lawyer had argued, The judge (Justice Gangopadhyay), however, said in his order that there was some connection between my client’s speech and the complaints made by accused Kuntal Ghosh. One needs to question as to on what basis were these findings arrived at? He made some observations but based on what material? It was an ex-parte order.
    • The application filed by the ED that The judge digressed from one point to the other. Thus, I have alleged bias against the judge and that is why the Supreme Court has transferred probe from him.
    • If the judge in the instant case desired that the present matter be heard by him, he could have at best passed an order to place the case papers before the Chief Justice for transferring cases to himself. But such a thing never happened in the instant case.
    • Please note that the Supreme Court has removed the matter from that judge’s (Justice Gangopadhyay’s) board. This doesn’t add to the glory of our High Court. It doesn’t add to the glory of our traditions. A transfer is done in rare cases and not in the usual course. The top court has taken stern action against the judge for his conduct. All this reflects bias on his part.
  13. On Thursday the Calcutta High Court ordered the State Crime Investigation Department (CID) to register a case under the Explosive Substances Act in relation to the explosion that took place in a firecracker factory in Egra area in East Midnapore.  (Suvendu Adhikari vs State of West Bengal)
    • A bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya also ordered the West Bengal government to adhere to the provisions of section 6 of the National Investigation Agency Act (NIA act), which provides for the State government to forward its report to the Central government if a ‘scheduled offence’ has occurred in the State.
    • the bench ordered, We are of the prima facie view that provisions of the Explosive Substances Act will be attracted. Therefore, we order the State CID to invoke the said provisions and adhere to the provisions of the NIA act and report in this regard be placed before us on June 12.
    • the Court said, There is no material on record to indicate any law and order situation in the area thus no question of deploying paramilitary forces. However, if the State thinks that a situation may arise, it would be free to deploy forces to maintain law and order.
  14. On Thursday the Delhi High Court dismissed an appeal challenging appointment of Dr Najma Akhtar as the Vice-Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia university.
    • A Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh pronounced the order today rejecting the appeal.
    • the Court finally concluded, Thus, for the foregoing reasons, we are disinclined to interfere with the conclusion arrived at by the learned single judge. The appeal is, accordingly, dismissed.
    • the Division Bench said it may be advisable for the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to eschew the practice of indicating, as to which candidate, according to it, fits the bill.
    • the order said, I must highlight the position of law that Court cannot sit in appeal over the decision taken by the Search Committee. Rather the scope is limited to judicial review of the decision whereby the Court is only concerned with whether the incumbent possessed qualifications for the appointment and the manner in which the appointment came to be made or whether the procedure adopted was fair, just and reasonable.
  15. On Thursday the Kerala High Court held that vehicles fitted with multi-coloured LED/laser/neon lights or flashlights, cannot be treated as vehicles that comply with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles (MV) laws for the purpose of granting a certificate of fitness.  (Anoop KA & Anr. v. State of Kerala & Ors.)
    • Single-judge Justice Anil K Narendran noted that such vehicles pose a potential threat to the safety of other vehicles and their drivers, pedestrians and other road users.
    • the Court said, Therefore, vehicles which are fitted with after-market multi-colored LED/laser/neon lights, flash lights, as seen in the screenshots reproduced hereinbefore, which are being used in a public place, openly flouting the safety standards prescribed in AIS008, which are capable of dazzling the drivers of the oncoming vehicles, pedestrians and other road users, thereby posing a potential threat to the safety of other road users, have to be dealt with in an appropriate manner, strictly in accordance with the law. Such goods vehicles cannot be treated as vehicles which comply with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules made thereunder, for the purpose of grant of certificate of fitness.
    • the order said, In addition to the penal consequences provided in the statutory provisions referred to hereinbefore, the owner of the vehicle has to be imposed with a fine of ₹5,000 per such alteration; i.e. ₹5,000 for each after-market multi-coloured LED/laser/neon lights, flash lights.
  16. On Thursday the Delhi High Court said that it will decide in July the issue of maintainability of the petitions filed by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust challenging the government’s decision to cancel their Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration.
    • Both the Non-government Organisations (NGOs) are headed by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Minister P Chidambaram as well as Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi are trustees of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
    • When the matter was taken up for hearing first, Justice Jyoti Singh issued notices. However, later, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma and Central Government Standing Counsel (CGSC) Kirtiman Singh appeared for the government and said that they want to raise the issue of maintainability.
    • the PIB said, The FCRA license of the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) was cancelled under section 14 of the FCRA, 2010 due to violation of provisions under sections 8(1)(a), 11, 17, 18, 19 and conditions of registration under section 12(4)(a)(vi) of the FCRA, 2010.
  17. The Supreme Court E-committee on May 15-16, organized a Digital Accessibility training for visually challenged court staff members of District and Taluk courts from all over the country at Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi.
    • The court staff from District and Taluk courts of Delhi, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Madras, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Telangana participated in the training.
    • The object of the training was to make the digital infrastructure of the Indian judicial system more accessible to persons with disabilities, as it is one of the core components of the Supreme Court E-committee, executed under the guidance of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud.
  18. On Wednesday the Allahabad High Court allowed National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to intervene in a case dealing with whether religious education can be imparted in government-funded Madrasas.  (Azaj Ahamad v. Union of India & Ors)
    • Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh appointed Advocate SM Singh Raikwar as amicus curiae to assist the Court in the matter and noted, the matter is of wide ramification and some importance and outcome of this case will effect the education system as well as the rights of the children studying in Madrasas.
    • Thereby, it had sought replies from the Union and State governments on the following, within six weeks:
      • How on Government expense or the funding provided by the Government Exchequer religious education be imparted and.
      • Whether this could be in violation of Articles 14, 25, 26, 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India.
  19. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) declared on May 15, 2023 that physical filing of pleadings (appeals, interlocutory applications, reply and rejoinder) was no longer mandatory.
    • the order stated, The appeals, interlocutory applications, reply, rejoinder, etc. are being e-filed in NCLAT through e-filing portal from January 4, 2021. The competent authority has further directed that the filing of hard copies of appeals, interlocutory applications, reply, rejoinder, etc. shall not be mandatory with immediate effect.
  20. On Wednesday the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) gave an oral assurance to the Delhi High Court that it will not take any coercive action against former Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) zonal director Sameer Wankhede till Monday in the Aryan Khan bribery case.
    • As Justice Vikas Mahajan took up the matter, a preliminary objection was raised regarding jurisdiction. Goel told the Court that even though CBI registered the case in Delhi, everything has been forwarded to Mumbai, and therefore, Wankhede should have approached the Bombay High Court.
    • Wankhede’s counsel then withdrew the plea.
    • The CBI has filed an FIR against Wankhede and others for allegedly demanding a bribe of ₹25 crore from Shah Rukh Khan in exchange for not framing his son Aryan Khan in the 2021 Cordelia cruise ship drugs case.

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