Today’s Legal Updates

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021

  1. Today eighteenth day of the Winter Session saw responses on issues ranging from death of school teachers due to COVID-19, introducing mental health in school curriculum and more.
    • Death of school teachers while on COVID-19 duty
      • Minister of State in the Ministry of Education Dr Subhas Sarkar mentioned that 327 teaching/non-teaching staff expired owing to COVID-19 and none of them died while executing COVID-19 duties, in response to a question tabled before the Rajya Sabha by two Members of Parliament (MPs).
    • Mental Health in school curriculum 
      • Q. a question posed by BJD MP Dr Amar Pattnaik on the initiatives taken by the Central Government to address mental health challenges faced by the youth in India post the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • A. Dr Sarkar stated that the Ministry of Education has initiated ‘Manodarpan’ as part of school curriculum. The program has a working group of experts and covers “a wide range of activities to provide psychosocial support to students, teachers and families for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing during the COVID outbreak and beyond.”
    • Cases registered by NIA under Sedition/UAPA
      • 43 sedition cases have been registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Assembly Protection Act (UAPA) and Sedition under the Indian Penal Code against Indian citizens in 2021 with zero acquittals, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Nityanand Rai stated when a question was asked by INC MP Anand Sharma.
  2. Today the Karnataka Legislative Assembly has introduced the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, which prohibits unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means.
  3. E-commerce giant Amazon Wholesale India Private Limited (Amazon) has moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into its 2019 deal with the Future Group.  (Amazon Wholesale India Private Limited & Anr v The Directorate of Enforcement & Ors)
  4. Yesterday the Kerala High Court issued notice to the Kerala government and Lulu International Shopping Mall, Ernakulam on a petition that alleged that the mall was illegally collecting parking fees from its customers.  (Pauly Vadakkan v Lulu International Shopping Mall & Ors.)
  5. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent switch to virtual hearings, courts in India have been privy to strange and unpleasant faux pas on the part of lawyers and litigants appearing on video.
  6. Yesterday the Madras High Court lawyer was suspended by the Tamil Nadu Bar Council and also had contempt of court proceedings initiated against him by the High Court after taking the term “physical” hearing to a whole new level. He was caught on camera canoodling with a woman while court proceedings were in progress.
    • Casuals in court
      1. One of the first such instances was reported from the Rajasthan High Court in April 2020 when a lawyer appeared in his baniyan (vest) to argue a bail matter through video conferencing before Justice SP Sharma.
      2. In such incidents still continued, with the Delhi High Court imposing a fine of ₹10,000 on a man who appeared for a virtual hearing in his vest.
      3. In June 2020, an advocate appeared for a hearing before the Supreme Court while lying on his bed, wearing a t-shirt. The advocate admitted to the Court that it was “inappropriate” on his side to make such a court appearance. While accepting his apology, Justice S Ravindra Bhat stressed on the importance of advocates appearing before the Court in a “presentable” manner.
    • Vices on video
      1. In August 2020, a lawyer was seen chewing gutka during a virtual hearing before the Supreme Court. When the Bench pulled him up, the counsel could only muster a meek “sorry”.
      2. In virtual hearing before the top court, Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan was seen not so subtly smoking his hookah. The veteran lawyer continued taking puffs from the hookah even as another Senior Advocate was making arguments.
      3. The Gujarat High Court in September 2020 imposed costs on an accused who was spotted “spitting” on camera during a virtual hearing. The same High Court had earlier deprecated the conduct of an advocate who had appeared before it while seated in a car and smoking a cigarette.
    • Speedy justice?
      1. In June 2021, a lawyer attempted to appear before the Allahabad High Court via video conference while riding a scooter. A Division Bench of Justices Manoj Kumar Gupta and Syed Aftab Husain Rizvi cautioned the counsel and remarked that he should not repeat the act in future.
        • the High Court also passed a judicial order stating that advocates appearing for court hearings through video conference while driving scooter, lounging on bed, wearing colourful clothes or putting on face pack cannot be accepted and emphasised on the importance of adhering to lawyer’s dress code.
      2. The Orissa High Court too had its share of such experiences which were recounted in an order passed in September 2020. Lawyers eating on camera, arguing from gardens and moving cars, wife of lawyer appearing in video conference along with the lawyer, were some such instances cited by the Court.
    • Facing the music
      • Another noteworthy incident was when a fan managed to access the virtual hearing before the Delhi High Court in the case filed by actress Juhi Chawla challenging the rollout of 5G technology. The unidentified youth started singing songs from Chawla’s movies while the hearing was in progress.
        • Justice JR Midha, who was hearing the case, initially asked the court staff to mute the concerned person. However, with the singing persisting, the Court eventually issued a contempt of court notice and asked the Delhi Police to trace the person.
    • Semi-nude appearances
      • The most recent was the instance of a man appearing semi-nude during a virtual hearing before the Karnataka High Court while Senior Counsel Indira Jaising was making arguments. Jaising proceeded to file a contempt of court case and a sexual harassment complaint against him.
  7. Today a Mumbai court refused to grant bail to Gautam Thapar, non-executive Chairman of Avantha Realty which is embroiled in the Yes Bank scam.  (Gautam Thapar v. CBI)
  8. Today the Karnataka High Court reserved orders in a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, which prohibits and criminalises betting on and playing games of skill, including online games. (All India Gaming Federation v. State of Karnataka)
  9. Today the Delhi High Court held while refusing to quash the first information report (FIR) registered against accused-husband after his wife died by suicide allegedly due to harassment for dowry, Case registered for dowry death of wife cannot be quashed on the basis of settlement between accused and complainant.  (Dalbir Singh and Ors v State GNCT of Delhi and Anr)
  10. Today the Kerala High Court directed the State government to pay ₹1.5 lakh compensation to an 8-year-old Dalit girl, one Devipriya, who moved the court after she was allegedly publicly humiliated by a police officer who falsely accused her of stealing a mobile.
  11. Today the Delhi High Court frowned upon the practice of lawyers making arguments on the first date of listing when a matter is taken up for preliminary hearing.  (Hindustan Unilever Limited v Reckitt Benckiser (India) Private Limited)
  12. Today the Bombay High Court continued the stay on the summons issued by a Mumbai Court in a criminal defamation complaint against the producers of the film Gangubai Kathiawadi, actress Alia Bhatt and authors S Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges who authored the book on which the film is based.
  13. Yesterday the Punjab & Haryana High Court directed Dr BR Ambedkar National Law University (DBRANLU), Sonepat to address grievances raised by its students regarding payment of fees amid the University’s closure effected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Raghav Gupta v. DBRANLU & Ors)
  14. Today the Kerala High Court strongly maintained that public outcry and media opinion on the issue would not influence it in rendering justice, While hearing the bail applications preferred by the husband and in- laws of a young law student who took her life.  (Mohammed Suhail & Ors. v State of Kerala & Anr.)
  15. Today Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Delhi High Court that Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Infrastructure was being arrogant in seeking a ₹7,000 crore arbitration award in its favor.  (Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited v Delhi Metro Rail Corporation)
  16. Yesterday the Bombay High Court dismissed a petition filed by employees of the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) raising grievance against an allegedly discriminatory circular issued by the Trust distinguishing between vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees.  (Deepak Kumar Radheshyam Khurana & 6 ors v. Mumbai Port Trust & Anr)
  17. Today the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Bar Council has suspended Advocate RD Santhana Krishnan from practicing before courts and tribunals across the country till the disposal of disciplinary proceedings initiated against him after he was spotted in a compromising position with a woman during the Madras High Court proceedings which were being held via video conference.
  18. Today the Punjab & Haryana High Court has been granted bail of Anand Dutta who is one of the six accused were convicted in the Kathua rape case of 2018.

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