Tuesday, 5th 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 – XVII OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

CHAPTER ILANGUAGE OF THE UNION

Article – 343 Official language of the Union.

  1. The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.
  2. Notwithstanding anything in clause (1), for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution, the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before such commencement:
    Provided that the President may, during the said period, by order authorise the use of the Hindi language in addition to the English language and of the Devanagari form of numerals in addition to the international form of Indian numerals for any of the official purposes of the Union.
  3. Notwithstanding anything in this article, Parliament may by law provide for the use, after the said period of fifteen years, of—
    • (a) the English language, or
    • (b) the Devanagari form of numerals, for such purposes as may be specified in the law.

Today’s Legal Updates: 

  1. On Tuesday the Supreme Court decided not to allow advance adjournment requests by way of circulating adjournment slips/ letters till 15th December.
    • The Court will remain closed from December 16, 2023 to January 1, 2024.
    • the circular said, In order to accommodate the request of listing maximum number of cases in the interest of litigants and in view of the ensuing winter vacation, all stakeholders to note that the practice of circulating adjournment slips/letters is discontinued with immediate effect till December 15, 2023.
    • the CJI DY Chandrachud said this Monday we had 15 benches, and almost 205 adjournment slips were given. I am constantly telling the bar that please avoid adjournments.
  2. On Tuesday the Commonwealth Secretariat released the “Commonwealth Military Justice Principles” signed on November 7 at Stellenbosch in South Africa.
    • Among the signatories are Indian lawyers, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati and advocate Navdeep Singh.
    • The principles fill a major vacuum with regard to military justice by enunciating the basic minimum requirements for military justice, as followed by most democracies for the regular judicial and legal systems.
    • The Commonwealth is an international body comprising 56 nations – most of them former territories of the British Empire – that promotes democracy, good governance, peace and the rule of law.
    • The document comprises ten basic principles outlining the bare minimum expectations from any system of military justice, including adherence to the principles of separation of powers, rule of law, impartiality, independence and competence of adjudicators and prosecution, rights of the accused, open-access and appellate rights.
  3. On Tuesday the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) publish report related to crimes against vulnerable groups – women, children senior citizens and marginalised communities, in this report 2022 witnessed more crimes against vulnerable groups – women, children senior citizens and marginalised communities – in comparison to 2021.
    • Crimes against women – 4.45 lakh cases of crime against women were registered in 2022, indicating a 4% rise since 2021. Last year, the crime rate registered per lakh women population was 66.4, compared to 64.5 in 2021.
    • Crimes against children – Crimes against children prompted the registration of 1,62,449 cases in 2022, showing an increase of 8.7% compared to 2021.
    • Crimes against senior citizens – A total of 28,545 cases were registered for committing crimes against senior citizens (aged above 60 years), showing an increase of 9.3% in registration of such crimes compared to 2021. 
    • Crimes against marginalised groups – Indian registered a steep 13% rise in crimes against Scheduled Castes in 2022 compared to the previous year.
  4. On Tuesday the Madras High Court dismissed a petition filed by VK Sasikala seeking a declaration that she is the rightful interim general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party.
    • A bench of Justices R Subramanian and N Senthilkumar dismissed a civil revision petition and three suits in appeal that Sasikala filed in 2022 challenging the orders passed by an additional city civil court in Chennai that had refused to allow her to continue as the interim general secretary of the party.
    • after Sasikala was convicted in a case of disproportionate assets by the Supreme Court in 2017, the party’s General Council removed her from the post and in its place created two new posts of coordinator and joint coordinator. It then appointed O Panneerselvam (OPS) and Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) to the two new posts respectively.
  5. On Tuesday the Supreme Court noted that Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, which concerns the grant of Indian citizenship to immigrants covered by the Assam accord, was introduced partly to remedy the atrocities committed on the population of East Bengal in the aftermath of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. (In Re: Section 6A Citizenship Act 1955)
    • A Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud with Justices Surya KantMM SundreshJB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra was hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act.
    • the CJI said, We are looking at something which is frozen in time. We cannot adjudge the validity of the Section (based) on what happened after the (Assam) Accord.
    • Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the All-Assam Ahom Association and other petitioners said, We have shown the amendment does not stand on its own legs. Look at the influx. And today, as the result of not remedying the law, it has been given a complete go by and this has been used as a shield. I say the provision is only bad completely.
    • The CJI responded, If parliament were to merely grant amnesty to a group of illegal immigrants it would have been different situation. Section 6A was enacted a time when there was a different history, and India had an important role to play in Bangladesh liberation war, and we were a part of the war as much as Bangladesh. This was for the atrocities which were being committed on the population of East Bengal then.
    • Advocate Shyam Divan said, It also violates Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. Also, these are political rights with respect to the citizen and there is destruction and undermining of these rights as well. We also assail this on the legislative competence aspect. Cultural rights of the border States cannot be subverted completely. If it do so, then all States will have to bear burden of this as well.
    • the CJI observed, To test your argument, there is no material before us to show that population who came from 1966 to 1971 was so much that it had an irreversible impact on the demographics. For the quantum of illegal immigration, you have to show that Assam was at par with other border States. We have always allowed an under inclusive legislation by the Parliament. Assam has a problem of infiltration but here we are on the Section 6A … Agitation was to curb the infiltration and this was a political compromise.
    • Advocate Shyam Divan argued, Theirs’ (settlers who entered before 1971 and before the Assam Accord) is a whole set of rights and entitlements all the way upto citizenship. Otherwise my land is going to a great extent and the political impact is going to be enormous. Registration of birth was significantly higher among them, there are a likelihood of range of responses from the State. We are saying whether this statutory response can stand constitutional scrutiny or not. Look at the lawful impact on the citizens of the State.
    • Divan added, The fraternity that the Constitution speaks of is something between the citizens and not something which is of a global nature! This is the preambular reading.
  6. On Tuesday the Delhi High Court directed the Delhi government to consider increasing the threshold income for availing reservation under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota in private schools from ₹1 lakh per annum to an amount commensurate to existing living standards.  (Master Singham v. Directorate of Education & Anr)
    • Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav ordered that till the Delhi government conducts such exercise after assessing the prevailing economic conditions of parents, the required income shall be increased to ₹5 lakh, even as other states have increased the amount to ₹8 lakh.
    • Justice Kaurav observed, The threshold income of Rs 1,00,000 does not precisely reflect the economic hardships faced by the families in the contemporary times and therefore, it ought to change with the dynamism of the economic structure of the society.
    • The Court opined that, It is deeply agonizing to see the complete apathy and lackadaisical attitude of the State authorities which is at the helm of protecting the educational rights of the economically weaker sections of the society, which flow from the fundamental Right to Education.
    • the Court opined that, The possibility of finding a larger number of self-declarations to be false cannot be ruled out.
  7. On Tuesday the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has moved the Bombay High Court opposing a plea filed by Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction) leader Anil Parab to quash a cheating case registered against him by the Maharashtra Police.
    • Parab has been booked by the ED as well for money laundering based on the case registered by the Maharashtra Police, which forms the “predicate offence” for the money laundering proceedings.
    • In March 2022, the income tax (IT) department conducted raids in several districts of Maharashtra. The raids were linked to a regional transport officer who was allegedly close to Parab.
    • Parab was later booked by the Maharashtra police for allegedly committing offences under Sections 420 (cheating), 463 (forgery), 482 (using false property mark), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 268 (public nuisance) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions under Prevention of Corruption Act.
    • the intervention application said, The reliefs sought by Parab seek to put an end a part of the predicate offence which forms the substratum of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) proceedings. ED during the course of investigation of proceeds of crime generated from the scheduled offences in the FIR and final report is in a position to demonstrate the modus operandi of the commission of the offences alleged in the FIR and final report. In that sense ED is an ‘interested party’ which can assist this court in arriving at a finding as to whether the reliefs as sought by the present petitioner ought to be granted or not.
  8. Recently the Chhattisgarh High Court commuted the death sentence of a 42-year-old man convicted for killing his parents over ‘ideological’ differences.  (State of Chhattisgarh v. Sandeep Jain)
    • A Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Naresh Kumar Chandravanshi said that though the offence was grave, the motive behind the murder was not grave enough to warrant a death sentence and hence reduced it to life imprisonment.
    • the judgment stated, Although in the instant case, appellant Sandeep Jain has caused brutal murder of his father and mother, hence his act shocks the conscience of the Court as well as the society at large, but, yet, motive of crime is not found so grievous in nature i.e. only because deceased father did not like his accused son’s various conduct / attitude and, therefore, he used to scold him. Thus, due to such trivial issues instant crime of double murder, has been committed.
    • the Court held, However, considering the fact that firstly, appellant shot his father in the corridor near washroom, hearing noise when his mother was calling her grandson (daughter’s son) on mobile phone, then appellant fearing disclosure of his crime, shot his innocent mother also. Therefore, in our considered view, imprisonment for life to the extend of remainder of natural life would be complete and adequate to meet the ends of justice.
    • the Court said, The appellant is a son of both the deceased and he committed murder of his father and mother mainly because there was lack of ideological harmony between them, murder was committed by him by three gun shot injuries to each of them, hence no doubt, such heinous crime should be deprecated and no amount of criticism can be given to such gruesome act, that too, of his own father and mother.
    • the Bench underscored, Similarly, no evidence was brought on record on behalf of prosecution to prove before the Court that the appellant would be menace to the society or he has criminal antecedent or he cannot be reformed or rehabilitated by producing material about his negative conduct in jail and no opportunity was given to the accused to adduce evidence in this regard.
  9. Recently the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government to decide within two weeks the request for regularisation of services of court managers in different districts within the State.  (Panchksharayya Mathapati v. UOI & Ors.)
    • A division bench of Justices GS Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain underscored that the State has an obligation to decide the same in line with the Supreme Court’s directions in the case of All India Judges Association Vs. Union of India.
    • the Court’s order, We have no alternative but to adjourn the present proceedings for a period of two weeks from today, however, with a direction to the State Government to take a decision on the proposal as sent by the High Court dated 4 May 2019 as also the subsequent reminder dated 3 October 2023, in the light of our order dated 20 September 2023.
    • the Court said, It would not be permissible for the State Government, to not take a decision on the regularization proposal on any conditions which are extraneous to the orders passed by the Supreme Court, and the orders passed by the Supreme Court are required to be implemented in letter and spirit.
  10. Recently the Kerala High Court declined to allow the abortion of a 30-week pregnancy carried by a 14-year-old rape survivor after factoring in the advanced stage of the pregnancy in addition to certain reports indicating that it appeared to be a case of “statutory rape.”
    • Justice Devan Ramachandran was considering a plea filed by the mother of the rape survivor, who sought permission to abort her minor daughter’s pregnancy.
    • the Court added, Apodictically, this is not a case where the victim child’s health is a risk on account of the pregnancy; nor are there any lethal foetal abnormalities detected. The pregnancy is almost in its 9th month and the foetus is gaining weight and fat, getting closer to its eventual birth weight. Its vital organs, like the brain and lungs, are almost fully developed, preparing for life outside the womb.
    • the Court clarified, That said, no doubt, the child is still very young – just 13 to 14 years in age, and what happened to her is certainly statutory rape.
    • the Court said, This Court is saying as afore only for one reason, namely that the pregnancy is now very advanced, with the Medical Board speaking with unanimity that the “uterus corresponded to 30 weeks of gestation with good foetal heart.” The foetus has, in fact, life with heart rate; and hence, termination of the pregnancy at this stage is impossible, as also untenable.
  11. On Monday Senior Advocate Arvind Datar suggested that the Speaker of a legislative assembly or the parliament should no longer be the authority to decide on petitions for disqualification of Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly (MPs/ MLAs) under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
    • Today under Article 329, in Madras, there is a permanent judge who decides election petitions so that the court is only occupied with election petitions. I would suggest, if there is a question as to whether the person has incurred disqualification under the Tenth Schedule, we can have an Article 329A (as a new provision in the Constitution) where decision on disqualification is decided (by High Court judges).
    • he said, Most important difficulty in all the judgments I have studied is that the decision is not taken on time and the decision, if taken, is completely partial. The framers of the Constitution said these are all eminent constitutional offices and they will do their duty in an expeditious manner, but it has not happened at all.
    • Datar pointed out, It is not possible to expect, and I don’t blame the Speaker. He belongs to the ruling party. History, empirical data has shown there is not a single instance of a Speaker voting against his party, at least in my record and reading.
    • Datar observed, What the Supreme Court clarified in the Subhash Desai case is that the power to appoint a leader and whip of the party is with the main political party and not the legislative party. That confusion has been completely sorted out.
    • Datar said, The question arose, if there is a defection, and some members say we are the party, the defecting group says we are the actual party. The Election Commission argued that once a person is part of the Assembly or Parliament, then the entire person qua his jurisdiction lies with the Speaker. As far as the original party is considered, that is the jurisdiction of the Election Commission. If it is a disqualification other than (under) the Tenth Schedule, then the procedure to be followed is to the Election Commission and then the Governor. If it is a disqualification under the Tenth Schedule, then the only person authorised is the Speaker as it stands.
    • Datar said, One very important thing and useful thing that the Supreme Court has clarified in the Subhash Desai case is that the power to appoint the leader in the party and whip of the party is with the main political party and not with the legislative party. So that confusion is completely sorted out.
    • he said, There is a difference between genuine dissent and defection. I would say, unless it is a no-confidence motion, unless it is a money bill, unless it is a bill which is going to implement the party’s manifesto, any other difference of opinion should not be considered as defection.
    • Datar explained, Voluntarily giving up need not necessarily mean you have given up membership and that you are no longer on the register of the party. Your conduct can also show that even if you remain a member of the party, you have voluntarily given up membership if you give television interviews for opposition parties, or debates or lectures in support of the opposition.
  12. On Tuesday the Supreme Court sought the response of the Central government to a plea seeking permission to allow single, unmarried women to avail the option of having children through surrogacy. (Neha Nagpal alias Neeha Nagpal vs Union of India and ors)
    • The matter was taken up by a bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan which was initially dismissive of the petitioner’s contentions after it was revealed that she had frozen her eggs.
    • her plea stated, The Petitioner wants to secure her right of availing surrogacy and experience motherhood on her terms without State’s interference in her private life. The Petitioner has a right to reproduction and motherhood even without entering a marriage.
    • the plea, The prohibition on any monetary compensation/ consideration to the Surrogate Mother effectively makes it impossible for the Petitioner to find a Surrogate Mother. The law instead of seeking to regulate surrogacy in effect bans it by imposing the requirement of altruistic surrogacy.
    • Justice Nagarathna replied, We are having a conundrum. How many ART procedures have happened in India for unmarried women? We have to see the pulse of Indian society also.
    • Kirpal then urged the Court, My lords may say that, but the fabric of the Constitution has to be maintained. This needs to be heard. I am sure I can convince the court of the merits. We are not pressing for (interim) stay.
  13. On Tuesday the Kerala High Court that students who organised the tech fest ‘DHISHNA at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) on November 25 should not be blamed for the stampede that occurred during the event, which resulted in the death of 4 students and injured 64 others.  (Alochious Xavier, President of the Kerala Student Union (KSU) v State of Kerala & Ors.)
    • Justice Devan Ramachandran emphasised that there should not be any blame game involving the students and pointed out that it could have been a failure of the system that led to the events.
    • Justice Ramachandran orally observed, I don’t want any blame game on any students, it will leave a big impact on them. The families are robbed of their existence. No students should be scarred. No students who organized the event should be blamed. The minds of the young children should not be subjected to a blame game. The young people have to live…Unfortunately, we react after the incident. Accidents don’t happen on purpose. Fingers point to some system failure. I want to know what enquiries are going on.
    • the order said, The incident in question has perhaps never happened in Kerala before, and it is shocking because of the horrible aftermath it has left. Brilliant lives, who could have been treasures to the nation, were lost; and obviously, answers will have to be found, so that solutions can then be put in place, merely not as a Pavlovian reaction, but with certainty.
    • the order said, The role of the police and Security Personnel also will, therefore, have to be looked into, not for this case alone, but as a guideline for the future; lest such accidents happen again, which is unthinkable.
  14. On Tuesday in a strange turn of events at the Supreme Court, the case concerning delays by the Central government in notifying appointment of judges recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium was deleted from the causelist.
    • A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was informed by advocate Prashant Bhushan that the case had been deleted without any notice. Calling the situation “very strange”, advocate Bhushan questioned the registry’s role in the deletion.
    • he said, I had not deleted it or expressed unwillingness to take it up. I am sure the CJI is aware of it (deletion). Some things are best left unsaid. We will see.
    • The case being referred to was filed by the Advocates Association Bengaluru over delays in appointing judges.
  15. Recently the Tamil Nadu government (TN) told the Madras High Court that the State has been a “pioneer” in implementing welfare measures for the transgender community and for those who identify themselves as belonging to the third gender category, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement in National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs. Union of India.
    • The State government told a bench of Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and KK Ramakrishnan that the State authorities have identified 7,547 individuals as belonging to the third gender category and 6,553 have been issued ID cards.
    • the affidavit said, It is submitted that Government of Tamil Nadu is the pioneer State in implementing various welfare measures for the Third Gender persons and respectfully prayed that the Hon’ble Court may please be accepted the action taken on the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and various welfare measures taken by the Government of Tamil Nnadu including the concessions by keeping them in the most advantageous community that paved a way for easy access to both education and employment, issuance of Identity Cards, monthly pension, innovative measures taken for creation of Mobile App, formation of Tailoring Society, Award for best practices to a Third Gender person as stated supra and dismiss the Writ Petition.
    • the State’s affidavit said, It is also submitted that based on the determination of community by the Third Gender and identification of Third Gender or Third Gender (male) or Third Gender (Female) as per their option, they can claim all the benefits applicable under the respective category both is Employment and Education.
  16. On Monday the Karnataka High Court stayed a criminal case filed against four lawyers for allegedly threatening a Chikmagalur police officer and obstructing his duty in the wake of protests against an attack on another advocate.
    • Justice Hemant Chandangoudar issued notice to the concerned police officer and temporarily stayed the first information report (FIR) proceedings against the lawyers.
    • the petitioners have asserted that the FIR against them was a “counterblast” to the criminal case initiated against police officers for allegedly beating up a young advocate in Chikmagalur over a traffic violation.
    • The plea was filed by advocates DB Sujendra, AK Bhuvanesh, KB Nandish and HM Sudhakar (petitioners).
    • The complaint was filed by a police officer, AM Satish, who claimed that his mobile phone was confiscated, an attempt was made to assault him, that he was prevented from doing his duty, threatened, and that there was public disturbance incited. The complainant-police officer alleged that this happened when he went to record the statement of advocate Preetham.
    • the High Court has been urged to quash the FIR registered against the lawyers under Sections 353 (causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
  17. On Tuesday the Karnataka High Court suspended the live-streaming of its court proceedings after hinting that the video conference facility was recently misused.
    • Chief Justice PB Varale announced the move this morning in Court shortly before the live stream or video-conference stream to the courtroom presided over by him was abruptly halted.
    • the Chief Justice said, We are stopping all the live streaming. Videoconference, we are not permitting. Unfortunately, some mischief is being played, there may be something at level of technology or some people. Don’t immediately rush to the Court Registry and make complaints on ‘why our permission is not granted.’ This is something unfortunate, the situation is an unprecedented situation. Otherwise, Karnataka High Court was always in favour using technology for the public at large. But for this situation, which is unprecedented. Please cooperate, please request your colleagues not to rush to the computer team, the Registry. This is the interest of the system, the institution rather. Even if some members of the press, may not be aware. Please tell them. You have to cooperate.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic later halted physical hearings across the country, forcing courts to devise ways by which court hearings could be attended remotely or by virtual means.
    • High Courts adapted to using YouTube, Zoom, Webex, Google Meet and other apps so that court hearings could be virtually accessed by lawyers and other stakeholders.
  18. On Tuesday the Delhi High Court pulled up a lawyer who had filed a petition against display of anti-tobacco warning messages during movies and TV shows and asked him to file an affidavit of regret within two days. (Divyam Aggarwal V. Union Of India & Anr)
    • The bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna asked the lawyer to file an affidavit of regret within two days.
    • the Court said, He must give an affidavit of regret for what has happened, then we will expunge these observations. Absolute regret is needed in this matter, nothing less than that.
    • Justice Manmohan remarked, This man needs a course correction. What the learned single judge has said, it is absolutely correct. The petition should have never been filed.
    • the Court had said, But looking at the Petitioner, who is a young Advocate having a bright future ahead, this Court restrains itself from making any comments on the Petitioner which might have a bearing on his future.
    • the Court said, Let’s attribute some IQ to everyone. Let’s not be under the misconception that the other person doesn’t understand anything.
    • the Court said: Please have a course correction. Too early in the day to start like this.
    • Justice Manmohan said, And what they are showing is actual reality.

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