Today’s Legal Updates:

Tuesday, 21st December 2021

  1. Today the seventeenth day of the ongoing 2021 Winter Session of Parliament witnessed the passing of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Rajya Sabha. The controversial Bill paves the way for Aadhaar-Voter ID linkage.
    • Statistics on hate crimes
      • Congress Member of Parliament Gaurav Gogoi and BJP’S Maneka Gandhi asked if the Centre maintained data on hate crimes. Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Nityanand Rai stated that in 2017, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collected data on cases of mob lynching, hate crimes etc, but stopped this practice since the data was unreliable. Rai said a lack of classification of the crimes was to blame. 
        • “The Government through audio- visual media has also generated public awareness to curb the menace of mob lynching. The Government has also sensitized the service providers to take steps to check the propagation of false news and rumours having potential to incite mob violence and lynching.”
    • Sedition cases
      • In another question, Rai revealed how many cases of sedition were registered and proceeded with across states in the last three years. While 73 cases of sedition were registered in the country in 2020, only in 6 of these was the trial even completed. Only 2 out of these resulted in conviction.
    • Definition of anti-nationals
      • Hyderabad MP Asadudding Owais asked if the government has defined the meaning of “anti national‟ under any legislation or if the top court has given guidelines towards the same. 
      • “The word “anti-national” has not been defined in Statutes. However, there are criminal legislations and various judicial pronouncements to sternly deal with unlawful and subversive activities which are detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country. In this regard, it is relevant to mention that the Constitution (Forty–Second Amendment) Act, 1976 inserted in the Constitution Article 31D (during Emergency) which defined “anti-national activity” and this Article 31D was, subsequently, omitted by the Constitution (Forty-third Amendment) Act, 1977.”
    • Manual Scavenging
      • There is no proposal to introduce a Bill to prohibit the practice of manual scavenging, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale mentioned on being asked by INC MP Cosme Francisco Caitano Sardinha.
      • Another question was raised on the number of deaths of manual scavengers in the last 5 years. Athawale laid down a tabular representation which showed the year-wise and state-wise details on persons who died in sewers and septic tanks. The total number of such deaths since 2017 is 321, with 22 individuals dying this year.
    • Linkage of birth and death certificates to Aadhaar
      • A question was tabled before the Lok Sabha by two Members of Parliament on whether is any proposal to link birth and death certificates with Aadhaar.
      • Nityanand Rai mentioned that a draft amendment to the Registration of Birth & Death (RBD) Act, 1969 was placed in public domain from October 18, 2021 to December 2, 2021 for comments.
        • “a provision to use the database of births and deaths to update various databases. Till now, the Government has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the National level,” 
    • Digital transactions in rural and tribal areas
      • A question was tabled in the Lok Sabha by BJP MP Narayana Koragappa on whether digital transactions have increased in rural areas. Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Bhagwat Karad responded in the affirmative and stated that there has been an overall growth of 88% in the volume of digital transactions during the last three years since 2018-19.
        • “As per the data sourced from National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), India’s own payment platform, UPI has emerged as the country’s favourite digital payment choice, with over 22 billion transactions registered during FY 2020-21, showing 4 times growth over the last 3 years,” 
  2. Today the Rajya Sabha has passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 which seeks to enable electoral authorities to mandate linking voter identity cards with Aadhaar.
    • The Bill was passed via voice vote amidst protests from the members of the opposition.
  3. A convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison 25 years ago has recently been acquitted by the Patna High Court for lack of evidence supporting the victim’s death sentence, which was the sole basis for his conviction. (Balmiki Prasad Chourasia v. State of Bihar)
  4. Today the Bombay High Court will examine whether a plea filed by Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor against the alleged improper sanction obtained by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute him under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), will lie before a single-judge or a Division Bench.
  5. Today Lyricist Javed Akhtar has told a Mumbai court that the plea filed by actress Kangana Ranaut seeking transfer of Akhtar’s criminal complaint against her, from the court at Andheri currently hearing the case, to any other Magistrate, is totally devoid of merits.
  6. Today the Kerala High Court dismissed a petition that sought the removal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph from the COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued via the CoWIN portal.
  7. Today the Madras High Court has initiated contempt of court proceedings against a lawyer after he was seen in a compromising position with a woman during courts proceedings which were being held via video conference.
  8. Today the Delhi High Court has held that Section 143A of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (NI Act) is a directory provision and not ‘mandatory’.  (M/S JSB Cargo And Freight Forwarder Pvt Ltd v State and Anr)
  9. Today the Union Law Ministry’s Department of Justice today notified the transfer of Justice Birendra Kumar from the Patna High Court to the Rajasthan High Court.
  10. Today during his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament from Kerala John Brittas spoke about the lack of diversity in the Indian judiciary and criticised the system of judicial appointments.
    • During his speech on the The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021, the CPI(M) MP spoke about the disproportionately high Brahmanical representation in the Indian judicial system. Brittas said that out of 47 Chief Justices of India, 14 were Brahmins.
      • “Out of 47 Chief Justices of India till date, at least 14 have been Brahmins. From 1950-1970, the maximum strength of the Supreme Court was 14 judges and 11 out of them were Brahmins…will this august House be shocked to note that till 1980, there was no judge from OBC or SC in the highest court of the country?”
  11. Today A Karnataka court dismissed with costs a plea by Tata Coffee seeking a declaration of the change made by the State in revenue records from redeemed sagu to reserve forest land as illegal.  (Tata Coffee vs. State of Karnataka)
  12. Today A Delhi court issued notice to a crypto trading platform in a plea seeking a ban on derivatives -trading in cryptocurrencies conducted by a Caribbean-based firm named Saledo Global LLC.  (Vidyut Kayarkar v Saledo Global LLC and Ors)
  13. Last week the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court suggested how right to be funny can be considered as forming part of free speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, while quashing a case registered against a man whose attempt at word play on Facebook went awry when the police registered a criminal case against him.  (Mathivanan vs. The Inspector of Police)
  14. Today the Kerala High Court dismissed a petition that sought to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph from the vaccination certificates issued on the CoWIN portal.  (Peter Myaliparampil v Union of India)
    • The Court also imposed costs of ₹1 lakh on the petitioner Peter Myaliparampil stating that the plea is frivolous and seems to have been filed with political motives.
      • “According to my opinion this is a frivolous petition filed with ulterior motives. there seems to be political motives and deserves to be dismissed with heavy cost. Plea dismissed with costs of ₹1 lakh,” 
        • “I know this is a heavy cost but we must prevent such frivolous petitions,” the judge added.
    • The costs have to be paid to Kerala State Legal Services Authority within a period of 6 weeks.
  15. Today the Calcutta High Court asked why all cyber crime cases pertaining to the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate were assigned to a single trial court lawyer, Lamenting the disruption in court proceedings on account of the unavailability of a lawyer.
  16. On Friday Advocate Santokhwinder Singh Grewal (Nabha) was elected the president of Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association after securing 1455 votes of the 3146 votes polled.
  17. Today the Bombay High Court rejected the appeal filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) challenging bail granted by special NIA court to Naresh Gaur, accused in the Antilia bomb-scare case and the subsequent murder of businessman Mansukhlal Hiren.
  18. Today the Punjab & Haryana High Court observed that a couple in a live-in relationship is not deprived of right to life and liberty merely because one of them is not of marriageable age under law.  (Sapna and anr. vs State of Punjab and ors.)

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