Important Daily Legal News January 2024

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January 31

Split Decision in Bombay High Court on IT Rules Amendment: Kunal Kamra’s Challenge to Fact-Check Unit

The Bombay High Court delivered a divided verdict on the challenge against the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023. This case, involving petitions filed by comedian Kunal Kamra and others, focused on Rule 3, which authorizes the Central government to establish a Fact-Check Unit (FCU) for identifying false online news.

Justices GS Patel and Neela Gokhale issued contrasting judgments; Justice Patel favoured the petitioners, striking down the provision, while Justice Gokhale dismissed the petitions. The petitioners, represented by Senior Advocates Navroz Seervai, Arvind Datar, and others, argued that the 2023 amendments were arbitrary, unconstitutional, and violated the principles of natural justice.

They contended that the rules’ vague definitions and monopolistic power granted to the government over information dissemination had a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech. In contrast, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, defending the amendments, argued that they aimed to control false news without prohibiting opinions or critical analysis against the government.

He emphasized that the FCU’s role was advisory rather than mandatory, with no penal provisions or criminalization involved. The final judgment reflected the complexity and sensitivity of balancing free speech with the regulation of misinformation in the digital age.

January 27, 28, 29, 30

No important update.

January 26

Sequoia Capital Operations LLC v John Doe and Others: Delhi High Court Orders WhatsApp, Telegram to Take Action Against Fraudulent Groups Using Sequoia Capital’s Name

The Delhi High Court, presided over by Justice Sanjeev Narula, has issued orders to messaging platforms WhatsApp and Telegram to delete groups and block accounts that have been defrauding people under the guise of Sequoia Capital’s name. Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm based in California, filed a suit after discovering that groups like ‘John Analyst Group-303’ were falsely representing themselves as part of Sequoia and offering dubious financial and investment advice. 

The court directed WhatsApp (operated by Meta Platforms Inc.) and Telegram to remove accounts and groups specifically identified in the suit, as well as any others misusing Sequoia’s trademarks. Additionally, the court ordered the Domain Name Registrar to suspend domain names associated with the fraudulent activities and provide information about the registrants. 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Department of Telecommunications were also instructed to block access to relevant telephone numbers, websites, and domain names. This decisive action is aimed at preventing further misuse of Sequoia’s brand and protecting consumers from being misled and financially exploited. 

Jang Bahadur Kushwaha v. State: Allahabad High Court Criticizes Lawyers’ Strikes, Differentiates Legal Profession from Industries

The Allahabad High Court, led by Acting Chief Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta and Justice Kshitij Shailendra, has expressed strong disapproval of lawyers’ strikes, highlighting the unique nature of the judicial system that separates it from industrial establishments. The court’s observations came in response to a PIL concerning frequent strikes at the Tehsil Rasra Bar Association in Ballia district. 

The bench emphasized that strikes in the legal profession cause significant judicial time wastage, harm social values, and contribute to the pendency of cases, affecting the justice delivery system. The Court pointed out the distinction between Bar associations and trade unions, underscoring that lawyers, equipped with legal means, should seek solutions without resorting to strikes. The bench also highlighted the human element in litigation, emphasizing the plight of downtrodden and weaker sections of society who rely on the justice system. 

The court expressed concern that prolonged court closures could drive people towards illegal dispute resolution methods, undermining the faith in the judiciary. The matter, set for further hearing on February 5, has prompted the Court to request guidelines from the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council on observing condolences and other situations leading to lawyers abstaining from work. 

January 25

Supreme Court Reaches Full Strength with Justice PB Varale’s Appointment

The Supreme Court of India achieved its full sanctioned strength of 34 judges with the swearing-in of Justice PB Varale. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud in a ceremony attended by other Supreme Court judges and members of the bar. Justice Varale, previously serving as the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, was recommended for this position by the Supreme Court Collegium on January 19.

His appointment, notified by the Central government on January 24, is notable as he becomes the third sitting judge from the Dalit community in the Supreme Court, alongside Justices BR Gavai and CT Ravikumar. Justice Varale, distinguished as the senior-most High Court Judge from a Scheduled Caste and the only Chief Justice from a Scheduled Caste among the country’s High Court Chief Justices, will begin his tenure sitting with a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta. This milestone marks a significant moment for the Indian judiciary, reflecting its commitment to diversity and representation.

January 24

No important news.

January 23

No important news.

January 22

Majority Support ‘One Nation One Election’ in Government Survey, Reveals Law Ministry”

A recent press release by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice revealed that 81% of respondents support the concept of ‘One Nation One Election’, following a public survey conducted by the Central government. The survey, which received 20,972 responses, was part of an initiative to explore changes in legal and administrative frameworks to enable simultaneous elections in India.

This idea was proposed to reduce the massive expenditure and resource allocation involved in conducting separate elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The high-level committee overseeing this initiative is chaired by former President Ram Nath Kovind and includes notable members like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Arjun Ram Meghwal, NK Singh and Harish Salve.

The committee has also sought input from political parties, with responses received from 17 out of 46 parties and has engaged in consultations with eminent jurists, former justices and heads of major organisations. The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for January 27. This proposal looks back at the period between 1951-52 and 1967 when Lok Sabha and state assembly elections were mostly held simultaneously, a practice that was later discontinued, leading to annual, staggered elections.

January 21

No important update.

January 20

Bombay High Court to Hear Law Students’ Plea Against Holiday for Ram Mandir Inauguration

Four law students from various institutions, including Maharashtra National Law University and Government Law College, Mumbai, have filed a petition in the Bombay High Court against the Maharashtra government’s decision to declare January 22 as a public holiday. This date coincides with the inauguration of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

The petitioners, Shivangi Agarwal, Satyajeet Salve, Vedant Agrawal, and Khushi Bangia, argue that the decision to declare a public holiday for a religious event violates the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution. They contend that the government’s action represents an inappropriate expenditure of state funds for religious purposes, which is constitutionally prohibited.

Additionally, they highlight the negative impact of such a holiday on education, financial transactions, and governance, with schools, banks, and government offices being closed. The petition also challenges the 1968 notification by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that allows states to declare public holidays under the Negotiable Instruments Act, questioning its secular credentials.

Justices GS Kulkarni and Neela Gokhale of the Bombay High Court have formed a special bench to hear the petition urgently on January 21, 2024.

January 19

No important legal news.

January 18

Jagat Singh Negi v. Surat Singh Negi: Himachal Pradesh High Court Deems Calling Someone ‘Corrupt’ Defamatory, Not Protected by Freedom of Speech

The Himachal Pradesh High Court, led by Justice Rakesh Kainthla, ruled that labelling an individual as ‘corrupt’ is inherently defamatory, overruling a previous trial court’s dismissal of a defamation case. 

The case involved State Revenue Minister Jagat Singh Negi of the Congress party, who accused BJP leader Surat Singh Negi of defamation for alleging corruption in a press conference. The trial court had initially dismissed the complaint, citing the importance of criticism in a vibrant democracy and the right to free speech. 

However, the High Court disagreed, asserting that freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution is not absolute and does not extend to defamation. The Court emphasized that while criticism of public officials is essential, it should not devolve into abuse or defamation. Consequently, the High Court has summoned Surat Negi for defamation under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, setting aside the trial court’s judgment and scheduling the parties to appear in court on March 12. 

Advocates Nitin Thakur and Udit Shaurya represented the petitioner.

January 17

Bar Council of India Issues Urgent Notice on Advocates’ Declaration of Existence in Profession

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has issued an urgent notice regarding the Advocates’ Declaration of Existence in the legal profession, emphasizing the need for accurate information during verification. The notice responds to concerns and misinformation from State Bar Councils and individual advocates. Advocates, including those listed as voters in previous elections, must substantiate their existence during verification, attaching essential documents such as vakalatnama, order sheets, or proof of non-litigious work.

The BCI urges advocates to review and rectify submissions in compliance with established guidelines and requests State Bar Councils to promptly communicate this to all applicants.

January 16

Kerala High Court Initiates Digital Accessibility Training for Visually Challenged Staff

The Kerala High Court has launched a four-day digital accessibility training program for 51 visually challenged court staff. Inaugurated by Chief Justice AJ Desai, the initiative aligns with the Supreme Court e-committee’s goal of enhancing digital infrastructure accessibility for persons with disabilities in the Indian judicial system. 

The training includes hands-on sessions covering various assistive technologies, such as accessible reading of court documents, documentation in a digital environment, scanning techniques, and the use of Artificial Intelligence tools for the visually impaired. The program aims to empower court staff in utilising technology for improved accessibility and efficiency.

Supreme Court Stays Appointment of Commissioner in Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid Dispute

The Supreme Court has stayed the Allahabad High Court’s order to appoint a commissioner to inspect the premises of the Shahi-Idgah mosque in the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid dispute. Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta clarified that proceedings before the High Court can continue, but the commissioner’s appointment cannot be executed until the next hearing. 

The High Court had allowed the application on behalf of a Hindu deity and other Hindu parties claiming that the Mathura Shahi Idgah Masjid was built over Krishna Janmabhoomi land. The case involves the removal of the mosque, with the plaintiffs asserting its Hindu origin.

January 13

Kerala High Court Initiates Digital Accessibility Training for Visually Challenged Staff

The Kerala High Court has launched a four-day digital accessibility training program for 51 visually challenged court staff. Inaugurated by Chief Justice AJ Desai, the initiative aligns with the Supreme Court e-committee’s goal of enhancing digital infrastructure accessibility for persons with disabilities in the Indian judicial system.

The training includes hands-on sessions covering various assistive technologies, such as accessible reading of court documents, documentation in a digital environment, scanning techniques, and the use of Artificial Intelligence tools for the visually impaired. The program aims to empower court staff in utilizing technology for improved accessibility and efficiency.

January 12

No major update.

January 11

Kinadhan Chakma v Union of India and Ors: Review Petitions Challenge Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding Article 370 Abrogation

Review petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court challenging its recent unanimous verdict upholding the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Muzaffar Iqbal Khan and the Awami National Conference, both petitioners in the initial case, have submitted review pleas.

The December 11, 2023, judgment supported the government’s 2019 decision to revoke Article 370, considering it a transitory provision. Notably, the Court avoided ruling on the 2019 law leading to the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. The verdict has faced criticism, including concerns about its impact on federalism.

January 10

Review Petitions Challenge Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding Article 370 Abrogation

Review petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court challenging its recent unanimous verdict upholding the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Muzaffar Iqbal Khan and the Awami National Conference, both petitioners in the initial case, have submitted review pleas.

The December 11, 2023, judgment supported the government’s 2019 decision to revoke Article 370, considering it a transitory provision. Notably, the Court avoided ruling on the 2019 law leading to the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. The verdict has faced criticism, including concerns about its impact on federalism.

January 09

Bombay High Court Allows Kala Ghoda Festival at Cross Maidan Sans Food and Commercial Stalls

The Bombay High Court has granted permission for the Kala Ghoda Association’s (KGA) art and cultural festival at Cross Maidan, Mumbai, from January 20 to 28. The court, however, specified that no refreshment or commercial stalls would be set up at the venue. Justices GS Patel and Kamal Khata emphasized adherence to conditions laid down in previous orders, directing KGA to restore any portion of Cross Maidan used for the festival to its original condition. The court suggested that from next year, KGA could seek permission directly from civic authorities with strict compliance. The final hearing on the matter is scheduled for February 12.

January 07

No important news was found.

January 06

No important news was found.

January 05

Punjab & Haryana High Court Affirms Family Courts’ Autonomy from CPC and Evidence Act

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted that family courts are not bound by the technicalities of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) or the Indian Evidence Act. Justices Sudhir Singh and Sumeet Goel emphasized that family courts, governed by the Family Courts Act of 1984, have the authority to establish their own procedures in line with principles of natural justice, good conscience, and equity. 

The court stated that Section 14 of the Family Courts Act empowers family courts to adopt a distinct approach, deviating from the procedural rigours of the CPC. The judgment came as the court dismissed a husband’s plea challenging a family court decision.

Supreme Court Examines Legitimacy of ‘Prince of Arcot’ Title Post Abolition of Titles and Privy Purse

The Supreme Court has issued notice on a plea challenging the continuation of the hereditary office of the ‘Prince of Arcot’ despite the abolition of titles and privy purse by the Constitution of India. The petitioner, S Kumarvelu, argues that the special status granted by the British to create the hereditary office should not persist post the enforcement of the Constitution. 

The plea contends that the hereditary title became void with the Constitution coming into effect in 1950, and it questions the legitimacy of conferring titles by the State, citing constitutional articles on equality. The case also delves into historical contexts, including the 1800 Vellore Revolt.

January 04

Bandana Kumari v Ravi Kant: Supreme Court Halts Patna High Court’s Marriage Annulment Over Saptapadi Non-Performance

The Supreme Court has intervened by issuing a stay on the Patna High Court’s decision to annul a marriage due to the alleged non-performance of Saptapadi (seven steps around a sacred fire) under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The High Court, in November, had ruled that a Hindu marriage is incomplete without Saptapadi. 

The case involved an Army signalman who claimed he was forced into marriage at gunpoint. The Supreme Court bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah issued a notice in response to a plea challenging the High Court verdict, suspending the judgment’s operation pending further orders.

DBS Bank Limited Singapore vs Ruchi Soya Industries Limited and Anr: Supreme Court Refers Dissenting Financial Creditors’ Payment Issue Under IBC to Larger Bench

The Supreme Court has referred a crucial question to a larger bench regarding the payment entitlement of dissenting financial creditors in corporate insolvency resolution processes under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). The bench, led by Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, disagreed with the reasoning in the India Resurgence ARC Private Limited case, posing the question of whether Section 30(2)(b)(ii) of the IBC entitles dissenting financial creditors to receive the minimum value of their security interest. 

The court emphasised the need to protect minority autonomy of creditors and prevent arbitrary distribution during the resolution process. The matter arose from insolvency proceedings involving DBS Bank Limited Singapore and Ruchi Soya Industries Limited.

Supreme Court Halts Patna High Court’s Marriage Annulment Over Saptapadi Non-Performance

The Supreme Court has intervened by issuing a stay on the Patna High Court’s decision to annul a marriage due to the alleged non-performance of Saptapadi (seven steps around a sacred fire) under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The High Court, in November, had ruled that a Hindu marriage is incomplete without Saptapadi. 

The case involved an Army signalman who claimed he was forced into marriage at gunpoint. The Supreme Court bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah issued a notice in response to a plea challenging the High Court verdict, suspending the judgment’s operation pending further orders.

January 03

State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors vs Association of Retired Judges

Supreme Court Establishes Protocol for Summoning Government Officials, Cautioning Against Humiliation

The Supreme Court of India has introduced a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for summoning government officials, discouraging courts from humiliating them or commenting on their attire unnecessarily. The bench, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, emphasized that all High Courts must adhere to the SOP and avoid arbitrarily summoning officials. While acknowledging the need for officials’ personal appearance in summary proceedings, the court directed that summoning should be avoided if issues can be addressed through affidavits.

The guidelines also stress that officials cannot be summoned solely for having a different view from the court and underscore the importance of advance notice and video conferences for their appearances. The ruling stemmed from a plea by the Uttar Pradesh government against Allahabad High Court’s orders to summon two senior officers. The Supreme Court, in setting aside the orders, asserted that frequent summoning of government officials contradicts the constitutional framework.

January 02

Calcutta High Court to Address Allegations of Cash-for-Jobs Scam Accused Stalling ED Probe

The Calcutta High Court will examine a plea asserting that Sujay Krishna Bhadra, a key figure in the school jobs for cash scam, strategically admitted himself to a hospital to impede the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) ongoing investigation. Bhadra, associated with Leaps & Bounds Pvt. Ltd., linked to TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, faces scrutiny in the alleged recruitment scam. The ED is investigating Banerjee and the company’s involvement.

An advocate informed the court that Bhadra, alias Kalighater Kaku, deliberately occupies an entire hospital block, obstructing the ED’s probe. The court has scheduled a hearing on Thursday to address the urgency of the matter.


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