Friday, 1st December 2023

The Constitution is not a mere Lawyers Document, it is a Vehicle of Life, and its Spirit is always the Spirit of Age.“

Notes: – UN predicts groundwater level in India will reduce to ‘low’ by 2025.’

Legal Awareness: – CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

Part – XVI SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO CERTAIN CLASSES

Article – 340 Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes.

  1. The President may by order appoint a Commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the Union or any State to remove such difficulties and to improve their condition and as to the grants that should be made for the purpose by the Union or any State and the conditions subject to which such grants should be made, and the order appointing such Commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission.
  2. A Commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the President a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper.
  3. The President shall cause a copy of the report so presented together with a memorandum explaining the action taken thereon to be laid before each House of Parliament.

Today’s Legal Updates: 

  1. On Friday the Supreme Court stayed a Kerala High Court order granting anticipatory bail to two advocates accused of raping their client.
    • A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol sought the response of the Kerala government and the accused in the plea filed by the survivor challenging the grant of pre-arrest bail to the accused lawyers.
    • The interim stay was ordered for four weeks, by when the State’s reply has to be filed.
    • it had granted anticipatory bail to the two accused lawyers, subject to execution of bail bonds of ₹50,000 each.
    • It is alleged that the said advocate later invited her to a hotel and sexually assaulted her after spiking her drink.
    • it was also claimed that the first lawyer recorded nude pictures and videos of the victim on his mobile phone.
    • It was further alleged that the said advocate promised to buy her a house and take care of her children. The abuse allegedly continued and she was asked to come to Tellicherry where the second lawyer, who was a colleague of the first lawyer, also abused her.
  2. On Friday the Bombay High Court censured the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for not complying with the Court’s order of October 23 concerning the proceedings initiated against Bharat Nidhi Ltd (BNL), a company owned by Times Group owner Vineet Jain.  (Ashok Dayabhai Shah & Ors. v. SEBI and Ors and connected matters)
    • A division bench of Justices GS Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain held that as a public body, SEBI has to act in public interest and comply with court orders; otherwise people would lose confidence in the market regulator.
    • the Court said, SEBI is a public body, it is required to act in public interest, it needs to comply with the orders passed by this Court, more particularly, when the orders have attained finality in the facts and circumstances of the present case, cannot be countenanced that SEBI would resort to such actions only when and/or, as may be, commanded by respondent Nos.2 to 9. Such approach of the SEBI, in our opinion, would cause a dent to the confidence, the investors would repose in the SEBI, which needs to function solely to further the object and purpose, for which it is created by the Act of the parliament.
    • Respondent Nos.2 to 9 in their business interest may overlook the solemnity of the orders passed by this Court, however, SEBI in its public character cannot take the same approach. In these circumstances, the order dated October 23 cannot be rendered nugatory. The SEBI is required to holistically consider such orders and not merely in the context of the settlement proceedings, as such order considers the substantive rights of the petitioners, who are shareholders of BNL, having equal rights to that of respondent nos. 3 to 9. SEBI cannot have different yardstick between shareholders.
  3. On Friday the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud stressed on the need for finding new theoretical frameworks to govern free speech on the internet, particularly social media.
    • CJI Chandrachud said that with the advent of troll armies and organised disinformation campaigns on social media, there was fear of an “an overwhelming barrage of speech” that distorts the truth.
    • he said, For example, whether a religious site was desecrated or not; whether a speech was actually delivered; whether COVID-19 is caused by a virus or bacteria are all facts and not ideas or opinions, with many possible answers. I remember that while the country was faced with the tragic COVID-19 pandemic, the internet was rife with the most outrageous fake news and rumours – a source of comic relief in difficult times, but also forcing us to re-think the limits of free speech on the internet.
    • the CJI said, Civil rights activists no longer place the corporation within the traditional box of an entity whose power is to be restricted. In fact, to the contrary, they rely on social media corporations such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to expand their freedom of speech and expression, often in opposition to the government.
    • CJI Chandrachud said, As the world moves online, our battles to uphold civil liberty must also follow suit.
    • the CJI said while digital liberties activism, including the protection of privacy and free speech, has gained currency at an unprecedented pace, It was still in an early period of theorizing on it.
  4. On Friday the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said Late Justice VM Tarkunde was someone who frequently challenged established wisdom and refused to stoop to the powers that be.
    • The CJI was delivering the 14th Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial lecture on the theme ‘Upholding Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Privacy, Surveillance and Free Speech’.
    • the CJI recounted, In 1974, in collaboration with Jayprakash Narayan, Justice Tarkunde started an organisation called Citizens for Democracy to defend and strengthen democracy in India. In 1975 and 1976 during the period of the Emergency, he formed one of India’s oldest civil liberties organisation called the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), setting the stage for India’s deep traditions of civil liberties and activism that continues to date.
    • the CJI said, In addition to his legal acumen, Justice Tarkunde was an iconoclast, if I should call him that, in the true sense of the term. Prof Shamnad Basheer, himself an illustrious scholar who was an ardent advocate of privacy and digital rights, the theme of todays lecture, described the term iconoclasm as a streak that challenges that established wisdom time and again. A streak that refuses to stoop to the powers that be. A streak that thinks nothing of being attacked for attacking cherished belief. Throughout his life , Justice Tarkunde challenged established wisdom through his professional career and refused to stoop to the metaphorical powers that be.
    • he said, His dedication to civil liberties inspired me as a young lawyer and continues to inspire me as I serve as a judge of a constitutional court today.
    • No no, in a matter like this, you must look at the social purpose of the law. We will read the law and the statute later but let is understand the purpose of the law in regulating the rights of pavement dwellers and pavement hawkers.
  5. On Friday the Delhi High Court pulled up the Delhi government yet again for its non-cooperation in providing funds and infrastructure for courts in the national capital.  (Achla Dhawan v State of NCT of Delhi and Anr)
    • A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna said that the government’s approach was “non-cooperation at its peak” and that no projects were being cleared despite courts facing severe space and fund crunch.
    • the Court remarked, We are hearing a lot of things. Officers are saying a lot of things. But we are not saying anything because we are restraining ourselves. This is non-cooperation at its peak. Nothing is coming through. There are six to seven projects, they are all stuck. All projects are stuck. There are in-principle agreements from 2019 and 2021 but not a brick has been laid. Is this the level of cooperation.
    • he said, Today, I have a digital court in Patiala House Court. One is shared by three judges. Two judges are asked to sit at home. There are no courtrooms for officers. We will have 100 judges ready by next month, I do not know where we will put them.
    • the Bench stressed, Things are very very difficult.
  6. On Friday the West Bengal government told the Supreme Court that the husband of Calcutta High Court jugde Justice Amrita Sinha is not complying with a notice to be called as witness in a property dispute case he is accused of interfering in.
    • A Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti asked the State Police to continue with the investigation in accordance with law.
    • The State government had today filed a report in a sealed cover, and informed the Bench that relevant CCTV footage had been requisitioned, but not made available.
    • The Bench had in November directed the State Crime Investigation Department (CID) to continue with the probe without succumbing to any pressure, and to inform the Court whether there was any interference.
    • The first case involves allegations of criminal conspiracy, causing hurt, cheating, forgery and wrongful restraint.
    • The second involves allegations of attempt to commit culpable homicide, outraging the modesty of a woman, house trespass, causing hurt and criminal intimidation as well an offence under Section 25 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
    • The petitioners moved the present plea before the Supreme Court seeking directions to ensure that the two criminal complaints are properly investigated without any influence by Advocate Dey or his wife, Justice Sinha.
    • The petition has alleged that the Investigating Officer was summoned to the official chambers of Justice Sinha and that he was rebuked, reprimanded and ordered to drop the criminal investigation as the matter was purely civil in nature.
  7. On Friday the Calcutta High Court refused to pass any last-minute orders to halt plans to slaughter around 10,000 goats in the Bolla Kali temple in North Dinajpur for the ongoing Kali Puja. (Reforms Social Welfare Foundation vs Union of India)
    • A division bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, however, agreed to consider the larger issue of whether animal sacrifice in the name of God should be permitted or regulated.
    • the Court admitted the public interest litigation (PIL) petition before it and asked the respondent authorities to file their response within eight weeks.
    • the Court’s order stated, This instant PIL is filed to ensure that no animal sacrifice takes place in the name of God and animals be slaughtered only for serving food to the mankind. The petitioners have sought interim orders for the proposed slaughtering of goats in the Bolla Kali Mata Temple, Dinajpur, which is going to take place today itself. Thus, we are of the view that any interim mandatory order at this n-th hour, would not be workable and would not be effectively implemented.
    • the State counsel submitted, It is very easy to say anything while we are in the court. But it becomes very difficult to deal with those 1000s and 1000s of people, who will be coming to the temple. To deal with their sentiments and emotions, would be a huge task. Thus, I cannot say we will do this or that but we will make an earnest endeavour to implement the conditions that we have imposed on such mass slaughtering.
    • the counsel told the Court, We have also put up banners near the temple vicinity appealing to people against such practice. These are customs going on for ages. We will make all possible endeavours.
    • the advocate said, This is going on from the British era only. One Zamindar was arrested a few hundred years ago for not paying Zamindari Tax. He then prayed to Goddess Kali to get released on a Friday. He got released and as promised, he sacrificed one goat to the Goddess in the temple. Since then people have started sacrificing goats.
    • the counsel underscored, The two judgments are challenged in the Supreme Court and are pending adjudication. But it must be noted that the Supreme Court hasn’t passed any stay order yet.
    • the advocate submitted, A challenge to the said enactment failed in the Kerala High Court. They went upto the Supreme Court and the said appeal is still pending with no stay orders against the law.
  8. On Friday the Madras High Court asked why the Tamil Nadu government should spend over ₹40 crore from the State exchequer on the upcoming Formula 4 night street race event in Chennai to help private organisers earn “massive revenues.”
    • A Bench of Justices R Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq asked the government to clarify whether it had an understanding with Racing Promotions Private Limited, the organisers, on sharing the revenue generated from the event.
    • the Bench asked Tamil Nadu Advocate General R Shunmughasundaram, Do you have an answer to the Senior Counsel’s submission that the State government is paying crores to help organise a private event that will help generate massive revenues for the private respondent?
    • Shunmughasundaram said, Such type of racing is a widely accepted in other countries and we want to introduce it to our youngsters here.
  9. On Friday the Kerala High Court has instructed the Chief Secretary of the State to ensure that investigations into medical negligence cases are carried out promptly and, in a time, bound manner, in collaboration with the State Police Chief and the Director of Health Service.  (Ushakumari & Ors. V State of Kerala & Ors.)
    • Justice PV Kunhikrishnan emphasized the need for expeditious investigations in medical negligence cases, highlighting that both doctors (who may be accused of negligence) and victims desire swift resolutions.
    • the High Court said, I am of the considered opinion that, in medical negligence cases, the investigating officers should take appropriate steps to expedite the investigation. .. Chief Secretary of the State should take necessary steps to see that a time-bound immediate investigation is conducted in medical negligence case in consultation with the State Police Chief and the Director of Health Service.
    • the High Court observed, The District-Level Medical Expert Committee and the State Level Apex Expert Committee should make appropriate decisions, within a time frame fixed by the competent authority. In medical negligence cases, both sides want immediate action. Sometimes, unnecessary complaints will be there against the doctors alleging medical negligence, and if the investigation is delayed, the doctors may have to face unnecessary humiliation. Similarly, the victims also want early decisions in medical negligence cases.
    • The District-Level Medical Expert Committee and the State Level Apex Expert Committee should make appropriate decisions, within a time frame fixed by the competent authority. In medical negligence cases, both sides want immediate action. Sometimes, unnecessary complaints will be there against the doctors alleging medical negligence, and if the investigation is delayed, the doctors may have to face unnecessary humiliation. Similarly, the victims also want early decisions in medical negligence cases.
  10. On Friday the Kerala High Court passed an order summoning twenty-nine lawyers allegedly part of a group of protesting lawyers who had hurled verbal abuses at a Chief Judicial Magistrate in Kottayam last month.
    • A division bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and G Girish observed that the lawyers’ acts prima facie appeared to be a case of contempt of court and ordered them to be present before the Court on December 15 at 2 PM, when it will next hear a suo motu contempt case initiated over the incident.
    • the Court’s order stated, We find that the matter is not a trivial issue. Having considered the materials and laws settled, we find a prima facie case is made. We issue urgent notice to respondents to appear before this court on 15th December on 2 PM.
    • the High Court orally observed, The language used in the protest … (they) don’t consider she is a lady; she is a judicial officer.
    • On November 22, the Kottayam Bar Association had issued a notice stating that all advocates will be protesting the registration of a first information report (FIR) and the magistrate’s alleged conduct towards lawyers.
    • magistrate recorded that the protesting lawyers were chanting “po pulle, podi pulle, CJM ye” and using abusive words.
  11. Recently the Delhi High Court dismissed a 15-year-old suit filed by three Pakistani entities (plaintiffs) against the export of ‘Super Basmati’ rice by India.  (Trading Corporation of Pakistan Private Limited v Government of India Ministry of Commerce & Industry)
    • Justice Prathiba M Singh noted that there had been no appearance in the case since 2020 on behalf of the plaintiffs and the suit had not been prosecuted effectively since then.
    • the Court ordered, Considering the Defendant’s stand recorded as above, no further orders are called for in the present suit. The suit is, accordingly, dismissed for non-prosecution. All pending applications are also disposed of.
    • Trading Corporation of Pakistan, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan and Basmati Growers Association had filed a suit in the High Court in 2008 seeking injunction and direction to the Indian government not to give effect to a notification dated 24 May, 2006 approving Super Basmati as an evolved Basmati Rice under the Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act, 1963 and allowing its export.
    • The plaintiffs said that it already has a ‘Super Basmati’ brand and India’s use of the name will constitute passing off and dilute its trans-border reputation, label, quality, variety and classification of evolved Basmati rice.
    • the High Court noted that the Basmati was registered as a geographical indication (GI) under the provisions of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 in India.
    • The Court further recorded that as per a notification dated September 18, 2017 issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, the seed production of all varieties of Basmati rice notified under Section 5 of the Seeds Act of 1966 is restricted to the GI registered rice growing areas of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, parts of UP and state of Jammu & Kashmir.
  12. Recently the Kerala High Court directed the State government and the Police Chief to immediately provide adequate police protection in all the court premises across the State and to all officers of District Judiciary.
    • A division bench of Justices Muhamed Mustaque and CS Dias passed the direction after the Registrar (District Judiciary) informed the Court that security arrangements have not been made for a majority of courts in the State.
    • the Court directed, We direct the additional respondents 5 and 6 to immediately provide adequate police protection in all the court premises in the State of Kerala and to the officers of the District Judiciary.
    • the Court observed, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The State is obliged to keep up with its undertaking before the Honourable Supreme Court that it will maintain law and order in all the court premises and provide adequate police protection to the Officers of the District Judiciary.
    • the High Court said, This Court records its appreciation for the members of the Bar Association for their cooperation. We are confident that the members of the other District Bar Associations would emulate the above Bar Association.
  13. On Friday the Manipur High Court said Internet services are a part of the freedom of speech while stressing that State government cannot continue with the ban on mobile internet in the entire State.
    • A division bench of Chief Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Golmei Gaiphulshillu Kabui questioned the government for not fully complying with its earlier orders to restore internet services in areas not affected by violence.
    • Justice Mridul remarked, So we are permitting you to impose reasonable restrictions in accordance with law but you can’t obliterate the right.
    • the Court said, As far as we know, except for a few areas, by and large the State is peaceful, so why should the services not be restored? Why does the State have to say that the situation is not normal. The situation is normal according to the State. So let everybody know that the situation is normal, except in these areas.
    • the Court added, How else are people going to access justice from areas where you say they are affected by violence? How will they access justice?
    • the bench remarked, We have to make sure every citizen has access to justice. How else will they access it?
    • the Court said, This is not an adversarial litigation. Not even the petitioners want that national security be affected in any manner. But having said that, the other concerns and the rights of people of Manipur have to be taken into consideration by the review committee before passing the order.
  14. On Friday the question of whether a woman can be made an accused in a rape case under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) arose before the Supreme Court after a 62-year-old widow claimed that she had been unnecessarily implicated in a false rape case filed against her son.
    • The matter came up before a bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol today when the Court expressed doubts over whether a woman can be booked in a rape case.
    • the Court orally observed, According to us, it is only a man who can be accused.
    • The Court proceeded to issue notice before adjourning the anticipatory bail plea filed by the widow in the case.
    • The widow alleged that the complainant eventually started to live in the house of the widow after her elder son “married” the complainant without any rituals or ceremonies, through a video call. The elder son, who lived in the USA, had never physically met the complainant.
    • the widow said that a compromise agreement was executed with the complainant in the presence of Panchayat members to terminate the said relationship. The widow also said that an amount of ₹11 lakh was handed over to the complainant as part of the compromise, which was executed in February this year.
    • The complainant alleged that his mother and younger brother later tried to pressurise her into marrying the younger brother. After she refused to do so, the widow was alleged to have locked the complainant in a room with her younger son, where he raped the complainant and took explicit pictures of her. The complainant also alleged that the widow had thrown hot tea at her feet when the complainant tried to contact her parents.
  15. On Friday the Supreme Court referred its judgment in Asian Resurfacing Of Road Agency v. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to a Constitution bench.
    • A Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra acknowledged the drawbacks of prolonging stay orders, but also emphasized the need for application of judicial mind in vacating them.
    • the Court said, We have reservations in the broad formulation of the above. While there is no gainsaying in fact that prolonging of stay delays trial unduly, it needs to be factored in that the delay can also be by the inability of the court to take up the case expeditiously. Thus the principle laid down that stay shall be automatically vacated, which would mean automatic vacation of stay without application of judicial mind, would result in serious miscarriage of justice. Thus the decision in Asian Resurfacing is of three judges, we refer the case to a larger bench of 5 judges.
  16. On Friday the Supreme Court directed the Central government and the Punjab government to frame the issues/ questions to be considered by the Court regarding the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) within the State.
    • A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra asked the parties to holds discussions and frame the issues.
    • the Court said, It is a suit. So issues can be exchanged between you both. Parties shall exchange issues so that issues can be settled before next date of listing.
    • The Court was hearing a 2021 suit by the Punjab government challenging the Centre’s decision to expand the jurisdiction of the BSF.
    • The central government’s decision allows the BSF to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a larger 50-km stretch from the international border in Assam, West Bengal, and Punjab as opposed to the previous 15 km.
    • the Court said, The power of investigation is not taken away from Punjab police.
    • the SG said, The AG should meet me in my chamber.
    • AG replied as the hearing drew to a close, Grateful for the hospitality.
  17. Recently the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court observed that merely because a litigant has a right to file a writ petition either at Allahabad or Lucknow bench, it does not give them a “kangaroo right” to hop around on whims between the two benches. (Prem Prakash Yadav v. Union of India)
  18. Recently the Madras High Court directed the Central government to consider increasing the age of retirement for all officers of the Indian Coast Guard to 60 years.
  19. Recently the Supreme Court emphasised that High Courts should not let criminal trials drag on due to vexatious prosecutions. (Vishnu Kumar Shukla and anr vs State of Uttar Pradesh)

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