India to Implement Three New Criminal Laws from July 1, Replacing IPC, CrPC and Evidence Act
India is set to enforce three new criminal laws from July 1, replacing the longstanding Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act with the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, respectively. This landmark reform in the country’s criminal justice system was announced through a gazette notification by the Union Home Ministry.
The update includes the deferment of Section 106(2) of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita concerning penalties for rash and negligent driving, a provision that sparked nationwide protests. These changes follow the President of India’s approval in December 2023 and aim to modernise and streamline the legal framework governing criminal justice in India.
No major update.
Bombay High Court Orders Netflix to Screen Indrani Mukerjea Docuseries for CBI, Delays Release
The Bombay High Court has directed Netflix to conduct a private screening of “The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth” for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) amid concerns over its impact on the ongoing Sheena Bora murder trial. The CBI, seeking a stay on the documentary’s release, raised issues regarding the portrayal of accused and witnesses within the series.
Netflix, while initially reluctant citing pre-censorship concerns, agreed to the court’s suggestion and promised not to release the series until after the next hearing on February 29. This decision followed a failed attempt by the CBI to obtain a stay from a special CBI court. The documentary, originally scheduled for a February 23 premiere, features interviews with key figures in the case, including Indrani Mukerjea’s children, Mikhael and Vidhie Mukerjea.
The High Court’s intervention highlights the judicial system’s careful navigation between freedom of expression and the integrity of ongoing legal proceedings.
February 20, 21
No major update.
Court Rejects CBI’s Request to Halt Netflix Docuseries on Sheena Bora Case Featuring Indrani Mukerjea
A Special Court has dismissed the CBI’s plea to prevent the airing of the Netflix documentary series “Buried Truth – The Indrani Mukerjea Story,” set to premiere on February 23, 2024. The series delves into the Sheena Bora murder case, involving Indrani Mukerjea, accused of her daughter’s murder.
Special CBI Judge S P Naik-Nimbalkar ruled that the CBI did not present a legal basis for the court to issue a directive against the OTT platform’s broadcast of the series. The court further suggested that the CBI could seek redress in an appropriate forum.
This decision comes amidst the ongoing trial, with all accused, including Indrani Mukerjea, her driver Shyamvar Rai, ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and Peter Mukerjea, out on bail.
February 16, 17, 18
No major update.
Supreme Court Declares Electoral Bonds Scheme Unconstitutional, Orders Immediate Cessation
The Supreme Court has declared the Central government’s Electoral Bonds scheme unconstitutional, directing an immediate halt to the issuance of these bonds by the State Bank of India (SBI).
The unanimous decision by a five-judge Constitution bench, including Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, mandates SBI to disclose details of bonds received by political parties since April 12, 2019, to the Election Commission of India (ECI), which must then publish this information online. Additionally, political parties are required to return any uncashed bonds within their validity period for a refund to the purchaser.
This landmark ruling targets the anonymous contributions facilitated by the scheme, introduced in 2017 through amendments to various acts, including the Income Tax and the Representation of People Act, aiming to enhance transparency in political funding.
No major update.
Mohd Abdul Samad vs State of Telangana and Anr: Supreme Court to Review Maintenance Rights of Divorced Muslim Women Under CrPC
The Supreme Court will examine the entitlement of divorced Muslim women to seek maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), a matter arising from a Telangana High Court order mandating a Muslim man to pay ₹10,000 as interim maintenance to his ex-wife.
Despite the landmark Shah Bano case affirming Section 125 CrPC’s applicability to Muslim women, the subsequent Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, has led to differing interpretations.
The Supreme Court’s evaluation, facilitated by Senior Advocate Gaurav Agrawal as Amicus Curiae, aims to clarify the legislative intent and applicability of Section 125 CrPC vis-à-vis the 1986 Act, which was argued to be more beneficial to Muslim women. The case, set for further hearing on February 19, could have significant implications for maintenance claims by divorced Muslim women under Indian law.
February 11 and 12
No major update.
Vijay Kumar Garg v. Gitanjali Gems: NCLT Orders Liquidation of Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems Amid Investigations
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in Mumbai has directed the liquidation of Gitanjali Gems, led by fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, marking the second such company of Choksi’s facing liquidation.
This decision comes after the Committee of Creditors (CoC) voted overwhelmingly for liquidation due to the company’s entanglement in fraud investigations and asset seizures by law enforcement agencies. Admitted into the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) in October 2018 with liabilities over ₹12,000 crores, Gitanjali Gems struggled with asset attachments by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The inability to control or utilise assets for CIRP led to the CoC’s resolution against extending the CIRP period, citing bleak prospects for resolution. Santanu T Ray has been appointed as the liquidator, following the resolution professional’s request for replacement.
Supreme Court Reserves Verdict on Legality of Sub-Categorisation in SC/ST Reservations
The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and a seven-judge Constitution Bench, has reserved judgment on a significant case questioning the legality of sub-categorising Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) for reservation purposes.
The case, which challenges the Punjab Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006, addresses whether states have the authority to sub-categorise SCs and STs to ensure equitable distribution of reservation benefits.
The Court distinguished between “sub-classification” and “sub-categorisation,” suggesting that states might need to implement the latter to aid more backward groups within these categories.
The discussion highlighted the complexities of applying reservation policies and the need to ensure that benefits reach all intended recipients. The judgment is eagerly awaited for its potential impact on reservation policies and the distribution of benefits among SCs and STs across India.
February 6 and 7, 8
No major update.
New Bill in Lok Sabha Aims to Combat Unfair Practices in Public Exams with Severe Penalties
The Central government introduced the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, in the Lok Sabha, aimed at combating unfair practices in public examinations with strict penalties. Offenses such as leaking question papers, tampering with answer sheets, and conducting fake exams could result in imprisonment between 3 to 5 years and fines up to ₹10 lakh for individuals, and up to ₹1 crore for exam service providers.
The legislation, tabled by Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, specifies that offences will be cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable, with harsher penalties for organized crimes related to exam fraud, including up to 10 years of imprisonment. This bill seeks to ensure transparency, fairness, and credibility in public examination systems, safeguarding the genuine efforts of millions of students.
No important update.
Supreme Court to Review UP Bar Council’s Lawyer Enrollment Fee After Petition Highlights Discrepancy
The Supreme Court has taken up a significant matter concerning the enrollment fees for lawyers, issuing a notice to the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council over its fee of ₹16,665, a figure contested by a recent law graduate. This development is part of a broader judicial review, initiated last year when the Supreme Court consolidated similar challenges from various high courts to ensure a unified examination of the legal and constitutional questions surrounding the enrollment fees set by state bar councils.
The petitioner, a 2023 law graduate from Benaras Hindu University, argues for a much lower fee of ₹750, in alignment with the Advocates Act, challenging the current fee structure’s justification. This case not only questions the affordability and accessibility of legal professions but also tests the balance between regulatory authority and the rights of aspiring lawyers.
The upcoming hearing, scheduled in two weeks, could potentially reshape the financial thresholds for entering the legal profession in India, reflecting on the broader dialogue about inclusivity and equity within the legal system.
Gyanvapi Mosque Dispute: Committee Appeals Against Court Order on Hindu Prayers in Mosque Cellar
The Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee has approached the Allahabad High Court, challenging a recent Varanasi district court’s decision that permits Hindu parties to perform prayers in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi Mosque.
This legal move came after the Supreme Court directed the Committee to seek redress from the Allahabad High Court. The district court’s order, which also involves erecting fencing for the designated prayer area within seven days, has sparked a fresh round of legal contention amidst the longstanding dispute over the religious character of the Gyanvapi compound.
The Hindu claimants assert that a temple section was demolished during Aurangzeb’s reign to build the mosque, a claim contested by the Muslim side. The Committee’s plea for an urgent hearing reflects the complexity and sensitivity of this issue, touching upon historical, religious and communal dimensions.
Additionally, the Allahabad High Court’s recent involvement in related aspects of this dispute, including requests for an ASI survey of the mosque’s premises, underscores the ongoing legal examination of the site’s historical and religious significance.
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