Important Legal News | 06 Oct

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Supreme Court Rules Acquittal in Criminal Cases Doesn’t Equal Discharge in Disciplinary Proceedings

In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court of India clarified that being acquitted in criminal proceedings doesn’t automatically lead to discharge in related disciplinary proceedings against an employee. Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol emphasised that the two proceedings serve distinct purposes and shouldn’t be intertwined. They also addressed whether a clause in a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) barred departmental proceedings during criminal trials, concluding that such cases should be assessed individually. 

The Court ruled that disciplinary proceedings could continue unless specific conditions in the MoS were met, highlighting the importance of a reasonable timeframe for criminal trials. In the case of a bank employee facing financial irregularity allegations, the Supreme Court overturned a High Court decision and upheld the employee’s dismissal, as the disciplinary proceedings were initiated after the prescribed one-year period in the MoS.

Supreme Court Clarifies Application of Laws in Scheduled Areas

The Supreme Court has upheld Municipal Councils’ authority to impose terminal tax within Scheduled Areas, dismissing an appeal by a coal mining company in Madhya Pradesh. The Court highlighted that Paragraph 5(1) of the Fifth Schedule grants the Governor the power to decide whether parliamentary or state laws should apply to Scheduled Areas.

 In the absence of a governor’s notification specifying otherwise, the municipal council can levy tax under state legislation. The ruling underscores the need for a formal notification to exempt Scheduled Areas from certain laws. The case involved a coal mining company challenging the terminal tax imposed by a Municipal Council, with the Supreme Court ultimately supporting the council’s jurisdiction to levy the tax.

Supreme Court Directs High Courts to Ensure Video Conference Hearings, Slams Discontinuation

The Supreme Court has issued a stern directive to High Courts, stating that no judge should decline requests for video conference hearings and every High Court must provide the necessary infrastructure for such hearings. A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud criticised the discontinuation of virtual hearing facilities after the COVID-19 pandemic and ordered State governments to ensure infrastructure within two months, including free WiFi for advocates and litigants. 

Additionally, the Court ordered that links for hybrid hearings should be made available in causelists without prior applications and that age requirements for online hearings should not be imposed. High Courts were instructed to establish Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) within a month. The Court expressed concern over the varying adoption of technology by High Courts and urged uniformity in virtual and hybrid hearings.

Husband Can Request Generic Income Details of Wife Through RTI for Maintenance Case, Rules CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that a husband can request “generic details of the net taxable income or gross income” of his wife through the Right to Information (RTI) Act to verify evidence in a maintenance case. Information Commissioner Saroj Punhani cited a previous case where the CIC allowed a similar request. The appellant had sought income-related details of his estranged wife to corroborate evidence in an ongoing maintenance case. 

The CIC acknowledged that in private disputes like those between spouses, the basic protection afforded by Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, which deals with personal information, cannot be lifted. However, it noted that disclosure of income details had been allowed in the past under certain circumstances. Therefore, the CIC directed the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to provide the requested information within 15 days.

Supreme Court to List Case on Passage of Laws as Money Bills for Procedural Directions

The Supreme Court is set to list a case on October 12 concerning the passage of laws as money bills by Parliament. This matter will focus on procedural directions, including the appointment of nodal counsel and is not for the final hearing. The case, raised by Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy, involves specific challenges to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and how it should be heard by a seven-judge bench. 

Money bills exclusively contain provisions for imposing taxes and appropriating funds from the Consolidated Fund and can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha can suggest amendments to money bills, but its recommendations are not binding on the Lok Sabha. This case follows a previous Supreme Court decision in 2019 that ordered the validity of the passage of the Finance Act 2017 as a money bill to be decided by a larger bench.

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