Important Legal News | November 2023

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Important Legal News | 29 November

Supreme Court Allows Extension of Delhi Chief Secretary’s Tenure, Deeming Move Prima Facie Legal

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court has granted permission to the Central government to extend the tenure of Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar. The bench, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, deemed the extension prima facie legal, emphasizing the distinctive role of the Chief Secretary, responsible for matters both within and outside the Delhi government’s jurisdiction.

The decision followed a plea from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government opposing the extension. While acknowledging the ongoing dispute over administrative powers, the court clarified that its assessment was preliminary and refrained from conclusive adjudication on pending constitutional issues.

Important Legal News | 28 November

Supreme Court Orders Survey to Determine Legality of Kerala’s Mega Car Parking Project in Periyar Reserve Lease Area

In a pivotal development, the Supreme Court has mandated a Survey of India investigation to assess whether Kerala’s construction of a mega car park encroaches on the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement area leased to Tamil Nadu in 1886. Both states agreed to the survey after an earlier court suggestion.

The court granted the Survey of India a three-month window to conduct the survey and present findings by March 11, 2024. This case, initiated in 2014, involves Tamil Nadu disputing Kerala’s right to build a car parking facility within the Mullaperiyar catchment area. Negotiations have failed, leading to this court intervention.

Supreme Court Rejects Plea to Ban Pakistani Artists, Emphasizes Cultural Harmony

The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition urging a ban on Pakistani artists working in India, endorsing the Bombay High Court’s decision. Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti upheld the High Court’s stance, emphasizing that such bans undermine cultural harmony.

The petitioner sought to prevent Indian citizens from engaging Pakistani artists, citing patriotism concerns. However, the High Court deemed it retrograde and violative of citizens’ fundamental rights. The court referenced the recent participation of the Pakistani cricket team in India, highlighting positive steps for peace. Filed by Faaiz Anwar Qureshi, the plea argued against potential discrimination and commercial exploitation.

Important Legal News | 27 November

Kerala High Court Initiates Inquiry Into Online Privacy: Summons Google and Indian Kanoon

Kerala High Court has summoned responses from the High Court administration, Google, and Indian Kanoon regarding a plea to mask or remove personal details from an online judgment in a settled criminal case. Two individuals, previously accused and later exonerated through an out-of-court settlement, claim that the online availability of the judgment violates their right to be forgotten and compromises their privacy.

The petitioners, represented by advocates Raghul Sudheesh and others, argue that earlier requests to remove or mask their names were rejected without valid grounds. The court’s decision could impact the debate on the “right to be forgotten” in online records.

Important Legal News | 25 November

Delhi Court Hands Life Sentences to Four in Soumya Vishwanathan Murder Case

In a verdict 15 years after journalist Soumya Vishwanathan’s murder in 2008, a Delhi court sentenced Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Malik, and Ajay Kumar to life imprisonment. Ajay Sethi received three years of simple imprisonment. The convictions, under Section 302 (murder) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC, included Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) charges.

Fines were imposed on the convicts, awaiting detailed sentencing. All five were held since March 2009. Vishwanathan was fatally shot on September 30, 2008, with the motive initially reported as robbery. This development follows the October 18 conviction of the five men.

Kerala High Court Advocates English Language for State Laws

The Kerala High Court has urged the state government to enact laws in English, emphasizing that it aligns with constitutional mandates and does not impede regional language growth. Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas stated that English laws enhance the state’s appeal to global investors and make legal texts more accessible.

The court warned of issuing directives if the government fails to meet its constitutional duty. The observations were made during a case regarding property zoning. The court granted relief to property owners, noting the absence of English translations of state rules and emphasizing the constitutional obligation to provide them.

Important Legal News | 23 November

Delhi High Court Mandates Compliance for Domain Name Registrars in India

The Delhi High Court has ruled that Domain Name Registrars (DNRs) operating in India must adhere to court orders or face potential blocking. The court warned that failure to comply, especially in facilitating websites involved in scams or infringement, could result in the DNR being blocked. The bench emphasized the need to prevent scams, stating that DNRs cannot be vehicles for facilitating fraudulent activities.

The court also expressed concern about DNRs offering alternative domain names, potentially misleading users. The guidelines for DNRs, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and other authorities will be established to tackle websites infringing on trademarks and engaging in scams. The case will be further considered on January 9, 2024.

Important Legal News | 22 November

Kerala Notifies CrPC Amendment Allowing Electronic Summons Service

The Kerala Government has officially implemented the Code of Criminal Procedure (Kerala Second Amendment) Act, 2023, introducing electronic service of summons alongside traditional methods. The amendment modifies Sections 62 and 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.), outlining procedures for serving summons and documents. 

This change aligns with the Supreme Court’s earlier directive during the COVID-19 pandemic, permitting electronic service via email, FAX and messenger services. The State Police Chief emphasised the health risks of conventional summons delivery and highlighted the effectiveness of electronic methods in locating individuals attempting to evade service. The move aims to expedite the summons process amid current circumstances.

Urgent Plea for Same-Sex Marriage Review in Open Court: Mukul Rohatgi Challenges Supreme Court Verdict

Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi urgently requested an open court hearing for the review petitions challenging the Supreme Court’s denial of same-sex marriage rights. Rohatgi argued that all judges acknowledged discrimination and sought a remedy. Despite the previous Constitution Bench’s verdict against recognising same-sex marriages, Rohatgi emphasised the need for an open hearing to address the significant impact on people’s lives. 

Chief Justice of India Chandrachud agreed to examine the request, stating a decision would be made. The October 17 ruling declared no unqualified right to same-sex marriage, leaving the matter for parliamentary consideration. The review may potentially impact adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Bar Council of Delhi Modernises Verification Process with Online Forms Ahead of Elections

The Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) has launched a digital verification form, FORM-A, to simplify the process of validating lawyers’ certificates of practice. Advocates enrolled from January 1, 1990, onwards must complete this online form, while those enrolled before that date need to submit a declaration form. 

The BCD exempts Advocates-on-Record of the Supreme Court and designated Senior Advocates from FORM-A, directing them to use “FORM-E” instead. The move aligns with the Bar Council of India rules, requiring advocates to verify their certificates every five years. This online verification, initiated in anticipation of upcoming BCD elections, is mandatory for all advocates.

Supreme Court Dissolves Bench on PMLA Validity Amidst Time Constraints and Justice Kaul’s Impending Retirement

After two days of hearings on the validity of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) provisions, a Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi, dissolved as the Central government sought more time for arguments. With Justice Kaul set to retire on December 25, the bench granted a four-week extension for the government’s counter-affidavit. Acknowledging the urgency, the Court allowed petitioners’ amendments but emphasised the need for deliberation. The case, challenging a previous PMLA validity ruling, will be reassigned to a new bench by the Chief Justice of India due to Justice Kaul’s impending retirement.

Bombay City Civil Court’s Jurisdiction Expanded: Rs. 1 Crore to Rs. 10 Crore

To alleviate the burden on the Bombay High Court, the Bombay City Civil Court’s pecuniary jurisdiction has been raised from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 10 crore. An official gasette notification confirmed the amendment to Section 3 of the Bombay City Civil Court Act, 1948, receiving the Governor’s assent on November 20, 2023. 

The alteration aims to handle civil suits within Greater Mumbai valued below Rs. 10 crore. Previously approved by the Maharashtra Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, the amendment responds to the escalating property values in Mumbai, diverting over 8,672 civil suits from the Bombay High Court to the City Civil Court.

Important Legal News | 21 November

Allahabad High Court Upholds Pay Protection for Paralyzed Employees

The Allahabad High Court recently ruled that an employee suffering from paralysis, unable to attend work, is entitled to pay during medical leave, citing the 2016 Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. Justice Ajit Kumar set aside a State government’s decision to cut the pay of an employee who suffered paralysis, deeming it a violation of disability rights.

The court criticized the State for denying payments to the deceased employee’s family and ordered arrears, along with 8% interest, and imposed a ₹25,000 cost on the State government. The judgment emphasizes the supremacy of the disability act over state rules.

Supreme Court Urges Delimitation Commission Revival for SC/ST Representation

The Supreme Court, led by CJI DY Chandrachud, advocates for the reconstitution of the Delimitation Commission to ensure proportional representation of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in state assemblies. Responding to a PIL for ST representation in West Bengal and Sikkim, the Court directs the Central government to explore this with the Chief Election Commissioner and present a solution by November 23.

Despite the Centre’s census-related argument, the Court suggests using Article 371(F) for Sikkim. It emphasizes the constitutional basis for the Limbu and Tamang communities’ claim to proportional representation. The Court will resume the hearing on Thursday.

Important Legal News | 20 November

Plea in Supreme Court Challenges Exclusion of Adults with Learning Disabilities from Disability Certification Under RPwD Act

A final-year PhD student at Jawaharlal Nehru University has filed a plea in the Supreme Court challenging guidelines under the RPwD Act that exclude adults with specific learning disabilities (SLDs) from receiving disability certificates. The petitioner, who has ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia, argues that these exclusions violate constitutional guarantees of a life of dignity and equal opportunity. The guidelines, formulated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, use developmental assessments, excluding those who attained majority before the RPwD Act. The petitioner alleges a violation of fundamental rights and seeks inclusion of adults with SLDs in the Act’s ambit.

Important Legal News | 20 November

Delhi High Court to Examine Challenge Against CLAT-PG Requirement for Indian Army’s JAG Entry

A public interest litigation (PIL) challenges the mandatory Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) appearance for entry into the Indian Army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch. The Delhi High Court, led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna, grants the Central government time to respond, setting the hearing for November 28.

The plea argues that the retrospective mandate for CLAT PG in the 33rd course of JAG entry is arbitrary and violates constitutional articles. The PIL also questions criteria such as marital status and arrest records. The court had previously questioned the correlation between marital status and JAG training in December 2022.

Important Legal News | 18 November

Supreme Court to Deliberate on Legal Impact: Can Subsequent Law Changes Challenge Acquittals?

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether a change in law can be a valid basis for challenging acquittals. This follows a Kerala High Court case where an appeal against acquittal under NDPS Act was admitted after a delay of 1184 days. The High Court, noting a change in law from Mohanlal to Mukesh Singh, condoned the delay, prompting an appeal. 

The accused contends that a subsequent legal change should not justify delay condonation. The Supreme Court has issued a notice, staying proceedings for six weeks. The case underscores the evolving legal stance on investigatory roles and fair trials.

Punjab and Haryana High Court Strikes Down Haryana’s 75% Domicile Reservation in Private Jobs

The Punjab and Haryana High Court declared Haryana’s State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, unconstitutional. The law, providing 75% domicile reservation in private sector jobs, was deemed violative of the Constitution’s fundamental rights. The court emphasised that state powers should not compromise national interests and rejected the idea of forcing private employers to hire locally. 

The ruling highlighted that the state exceeded its authority by legislating on hiring practices. The decision underlined constitutional values, condemning discrimination based on birthplace and residence. The court reaffirmed the importance of constitutional morality and upheld the oneness of India.

Supreme Court: Writ Petition Not Maintainable Against Facilitation Council’s Award under MSMED Act

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court declared that filing a writ petition against an award issued by a Facilitation Council under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 is not maintainable. The bench, led by CJI DY Chandrachud, clarified that Section 34 of the Act provides the appropriate remedy against such awards. This decision establishes a clear legal stance, directing concerned parties to seek recourse through the specified statutory provisions rather than resorting to writ petitions against MSMED Act awards.

Important Legal News | 17 November

Bombay High Court Rejects Stay on Release of “The Railway Men” Web Series

The Bombay High Court has declined to halt the release of the Hindi web series “The Railway Men – The Untold Story of Bhopal 1984,” scheduled for November 18, 2023. Dismissing appeals from two former Union Carbide India Limited employees, convicted in the Bhopal gas leak case, the court upheld the Mumbai city civil court’s decision. The convicts sought a stay, alleging adverse effects on legal proceedings, but the High Court found their claims prima facie untenable. The court noted the series’ fiction disclaimer and the public availability of trial details. It also rejected the demand for a pre-screening, emphasizing the makers’ right to present fictional works.

Important Legal News | 16 November

Bihar State Launches SITARA Scheme to Empower Transgender Rights

Bihar State Legal Services Authority, led by Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh, introduces the “Scheme for Integration of Transgender Persons and their Rehabilitation and Providing Access to Justice), 2023” (SITARA, 2023). Aligned with the Transgender Persons(Protection of Rights) Act 2019, the initiative focuses on holistic welfare, emphasising integration, rehabilitation and access to justice. 

The launch, attended by the transgender community and legal officials, signifies a positive step during Diwali. Recognising transgender persons for Free Legal Aid further highlights the authority’s commitment to upholding their rights. The scheme aims to address pervasive discrimination, promoting hope and progress.

Telangana High Court Emphasises Clarification in Minor Rape Cases

Telangana High Court has ruled that in rape cases involving minors, the trial court must seek clarification from the victim when there’s no corroborative evidence. The court stressed that the use of the word ‘rape’ by a child victim, without supporting evidence, cannot solely establish penetrative sexual assault. 

Justice K Surender highlighted the importance of understanding the child’s interpretation of ‘rape’ under POCSO Act. The judgment overturned a conviction under aggravated penetrative sexual assault, instead convicting the accused under sexual assault, citing insufficient evidence. The ruling underscores the need for cautious consideration in such cases, recognising potential life-altering consequences.

Kerala High Court Mandates Swift Staff Appointments at Lok Adalat

The Kerala High Court has instructed the Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA) to promptly fill five sanctioned vacancies at the Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA) in Ernakulam. Responding to a plea highlighting staff shortages, Justice Devan Ramachandran directed KELSA to appoint personnel within two months. 

The State government confirmed the sanctioning of positions like head clerk and office attendant, allowing KELSA to make appointments with government-funded salaries. The decision aims to address the functional challenges at PLA, ensuring timely resolution of cases, including one concerning an insurance claim. The ruling underscores the court’s commitment to maintaining the effectiveness of Lok Adalats.

Important Legal News | 15 November

Himachal Pradesh High Court Declares Failure to Report POCSO Offences as Bailable

Summary: The Himachal Pradesh High Court has ruled that failure to report crimes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) is now a bailable offence. Section 21 of POCSO penalizes non-reporting of child sexual abuse offences, with potential imprisonment up to six months or a year. 

Justice Rakesh Kainthla clarified that, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, this offence is bailable. The court’s decision arose from a petition for anticipatory bail by a man accused of not reporting a crime in his hotel. The ruling aligns with similar stances taken by Kerala and Karnataka High Courts on the matter.

Supreme Court Affirms: Agreement to Sell Doesn’t Transfer Ownership

The Supreme Court clarified that an “agreement to sell” does not confer ownership or title, emphasizing it is not a conveyance. The ruling arose from a property dispute where a 1990 agreement faced execution issues. The key question was whether it violated the Karnataka Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act.

Despite a 2008 appellate court ruling in favor of the purchaser, the Karnataka High Court deemed the agreement void in 2011. The Supreme Court disagreed, stating the agreement wasn’t in violation and, since filed post-law repeal, the suit wasn’t time-barred. The decision favors the purchaser, restoring the initial appellate court’s ruling.

Chhattisgarh High Court: Abusing Wife in Front of Students Equals Mental Cruelty

The Chhattisgarh High Court granted a woman’s plea for divorce, ruling that a husband verbally abusing his teacher wife in front of her students constitutes mental cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act. Justices Goutam Bhaduri and Deepak Kumar Tiwari stated that such actions not only tarnish the wife’s image but also risk students losing respect for their teacher. 

The court emphasized the husband’s failure to provide evidence against the wife’s claims of character assassination and job interference. The decision, based on the wife’s proof of mental and physical cruelty, overturned a Family Court judgment from November 2021.

Note: No important legal news is available from 11th to 14th November on the occasion of Diwali!

Important Legal News | 10 November

Supreme Court Rejects PIL for Cryptocurrency Regulation, Advises Alternative Avenues

The Supreme Court dismissed a PIL seeking cryptocurrency regulation, stating the issue falls within the legislative domain. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud noted the petitioner’s underlying motive seemed to secure bail in a related case. The Court emphasized the petitioner could seek remedies through other authorities.

The petitioner argued that cryptocurrency transactions were voluntary and not an offence under the Indian Penal Code, but the Court declined further consideration. The petitioner, Manu Prashant Wig, currently in judicial custody for an alleged investment scheme, faces accusations of inducing investments with a high return rate. The Court directed the petitioner to explore other forums for relief.

Important Legal News | 09 November

Supreme Court Reaches Full Capacity with Swearing-In of Three New Judges

Three newly appointed justices—Satish Chandra Sharma, Augustine George Masih and Sandeep Mehta—were sworn in, marking the Supreme Court of India’s attainment of its full sanctioned strength of 34 judges. Their nominations were cleared by the government, following the Supreme Court Collegium’s proposal on November 6. The appointments aimed to address the mounting workload caused by a substantial backlog of cases. 

Each judge brings extensive judicial experience, having previously served as Chief Justices in various High Courts. Justice Sharma, for instance, held roles in Telangana and Delhi, ranking high in seniority. The Collegium highlighted Justice Masih’s expertise in diverse legal fields, while Justice Mehta previously served in the Gauhati High Court. Their diverse backgrounds and expertise were considered in their elevation to this crucial national judicial body.

Supreme Court Affirms Constitutionality of IBC Provisions for Personal Guarantors Without Adjudicatory Role

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) provisions concerning Personal Guarantors’ Insolvency Resolution. Justices, led by CJI DY Chandrachud, rejected claims of unconstitutionality, emphasising that sections from 95 to 100 of the IBC are not in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. The court declined to introduce an opportunity for hearing into these provisions, citing that such a move would alter the legislated functions. 

It highlighted that the Resolution Professional’s role is recommendatory, with the true adjudication commencing at Section 100 after the submission of the report. The decision emphasised distinct treatment between corporate and individual insolvency. The judgment also underscored that moratorium under Section 96 serves to protect the corporate debtor from legal actions related to the debt. The Court’s ruling underscored that the Resolution Professional’s function is facilitative, not adjudicatory, ensuring fairness and procedural checks within the IBC framework.

Supreme Court Reaffirms 4 Crucial Circumstances in Poison-Related Murders

In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court cleared an accused in a two-decade-old case involving alleged liquor poisoning, reiterating the importance of proving specific circumstances in poison-related murders. Drawing from the 1984 case of Sharad BirdhiChand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, the Court emphasised the necessity of establishing a clear motive, the death cause by poison, the accused’s possession of poison and opportunity to administer it. 

Highlighting gaps in evidence, the Court noted the importance of a definite medical opinion regarding the cause of death, raising doubts due to delays in obtaining reports. Despite considering the deceased’s statement, the court emphasised the lack of concrete proof, ultimately leading to the exoneration of the accused due to deficiencies in evidence.

Supreme Court Deliberates on Maintainability of PIL in Service Matters

During the hearing of an appeal stemming from a Delhi High Court judgment, the Supreme Court expressed skepticism regarding the Delhi High Court’s ruling that Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is “not at all” maintainable in service matters. The issue was termed as debatable and has been left open for decision in an appropriate case. 

The case involved a writ petition challenging the appointments of teachers made in 2008, where the Delhi High Court, referencing a previous Supreme Court judgment, refused to entertain the PIL. Despite declining interference in the appointments due to their long tenure, the Supreme Court highlighted reservations about the maintainability of PIL in service matters, leaving the issue open for further deliberation in an appropriate context.

Important Legal News | 08 November

All India Bar Exam AIBE XVIII Postponed to December 10; Registration Deadline Extended

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has postponed the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) XVIII to December 10, rescheduling it from the initial date of December 3, 2023. Along with the date change, the registration deadline has been extended to November 16. The decision to reschedule was made to prevent overlapping with other critical exams, including the Common Law Admission Test Post-Graduate admissions (CLAT PG) and the Madhya Pradesh judicial services exams. 

The BCI acknowledged the concerns raised by candidates about this scheduling conflict and aims to provide a fair opportunity for candidates to excel in these examinations. AIBE XVIII has experienced four postponements since its original announcement in August 2023.

Delhi High Court Orders Declaration of Unencroached Forests as Reserved, Warns Chief Secretary of Contempt

The Delhi High Court has issued an order directing the Delhi Chief Secretary to declare all unencroached forest areas in the capital as reserved forests within two weeks. The court expressed disappointment in the Delhi government’s failure to protect the city’s forests and warned that the Chief Secretary could face contempt of court action if the notification is not issued within the stipulated timeframe. 

The order stems from petitions regarding forest encroachments, with the National Green Tribunal having previously directed the issuance of the Section 20 notification under the Indian Forest Act. The court also demanded a comprehensive affidavit detailing efforts to reclaim encroached land and afforestation measures. The next hearing is scheduled for December 15.

Delhi High Court Rejects Plea Against Chhath Puja Ban on Yamuna River Banks

The Delhi High Court has declined to consider a plea challenging the ban on celebrating Chhath Puja on the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi. Justice Subramonium Prasad emphasised that the ban was implemented to prevent pollution in the Yamuna River and indicated an intention to dismiss the case. 

The petition, filed by two organisations, the Chhath Pooja Sangharsh Samiti and the Purwanchal Jagriti Manch, contested a Delhi government notification dated October 9, 2021, asserting that the ban violated the fundamental rights of Delhi’s residents. The Court’s inclination to disallow the petition led to its withdrawal by the petitioners’ counsel. Ponds have been provided in various city wards for Chhath Puja celebrations, according to the Delhi government.

Himachal Pradesh High Court to Decide on Quashing POCSO Act Cases Involving Marriage of Accused and Victim

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has refused to quash a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) where the accused sought relief by citing his marriage to the victim. Justice Virender Singh disagreed with previous coordinate benches of the High Court that had quashed similar cases in such circumstances. 

The single judge has referred the matter to the Chief Justice for the formation of a larger bench to determine whether POCSO Act cases can be quashed if the accused has married the victim. Justice Singh stressed that accepting such settlements could encourage criminals to engage in heinous offenses and then compromise with the child victims, undermining the legislative intent behind the POCSO Act. The case highlights a complex legal issue concerning the intersection of justice and the sanctity of marriage.

Important Legal News | 07 November

Bar Council of Gujarat Suspends Advocate Dharmesh J. Gurjar for Record Tampering Allegations

The Bar Council of Gujarat has taken swift action by suspending Advocate Dharmesh J. Gurjar due to allegations of tampering with High Court records. This move follows the High Court’s referral of Gurjar’s case to the State Bar Council for disciplinary action.

A resolution passed on 5th November emphasised the seriousness of the allegations, stating that the advocate’s conduct should be scrutinised in disciplinary proceedings. A Special Disciplinary Committee has been formed to address the matter urgently and is expected to conclude it within six months.

The gravity of Gurjar’s alleged misconduct before the High Court was also cited as unacceptable. The Bar Council directed the Secretary to file a compliance report with the High Court.

Delhi Court Grants Divorce to Bollywood Singer Honey Singh and His Wife

In a recent development, a Delhi Court has granted divorce to renowned Bollywood Singer and Actor Honey Singh and his wife. Principal Judge Paramjit Singh, presiding over the Family Court, issued the divorce decree following a settlement agreement between the couple.

 This agreement resolved various disputes, including a domestic violence case filed by the singer’s wife. She had accused Singh and his family of violence and alleged a history of criminal intimidation and brutal violence towards those who refused his demands.

In response to the judge’s inquiry about reconciliation, Singh confirmed that there was no chance of them living together. Advocates Ishaan Mukherjee, Amrita Chatterjee, Jaspal Singh and Vivek Singh were involved in the legal proceedings.

Delhi High Court: ‘Mere Touch’ Not ‘Penetrative’ Sexual Assault under POCSO Act

The Delhi High Court has ruled that a mere touch does not constitute penetrative sexual assault, as defined under Section 3(c) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act). The court clarified that touch is a separate offense under Section 7 of the POCSO Act.

This judgment came in a case where a man was convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a 6-year-old girl, involving touching her anal region. The court found inconsistencies in the evidence but upheld the charge of aggravated sexual assault under Section 10. As a result, the man’s sentence was reduced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment under Section 10 of the POCSO Act, with a fine of ₹5,000.

Kerala High Court Grants Murder Convicts Online LL.B Classes from Prison

The Kerala High Court has granted permission to two murder convicts serving life sentences to attend LL.B classes online starting in the academic year 2023-24. The court emphasised that imprisonment aims to reform and rehabilitate, in addition to deterrence.

In its ruling, the court affirmed a convict’s entitlement to basic human rights, including the right to education. The court noted that access to education is vital for the rehabilitative goals of imprisonment and cited Rule 104 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which stresses the importance of education and training for inmates.

The two life convicts were admitted to law colleges for LL.B courses and the court allowed them to attend classes online. Physical presence at the college was required for practical training or examinations, during which the convicts would be granted interim bail.

Supreme Court Calls for Guidelines on Search and Seizure of Digital Devices, Especially for Journalists

The Supreme Court has emphasised the need for guidelines to regulate the search and seizure of phones and digital devices, particularly when it involves individuals like journalists or media personnel. The court recognised that media professionals may have confidential information and sources on their devices, making the issue a serious one.

While the Central government argued that authorities cannot be entirely restricted from examining such devices due to national security concerns, the court maintained that giving the government unbridled powers without guidelines could be dangerous. The court has given the Central government one month to propose suitable guidelines for such seizures, stressing that the government should play a role in shaping these guidelines.

This matter emerged from a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals, seeking guidelines for the search and seizure of digital devices by law enforcement agencies. Another similar petition from academicians and researchers is also before the Supreme Court, addressing concerns about unregulated seizures of digital devices.

Important Legal News | 06 November

Supreme Court Issues Notice to Government in Challenge to Section 437A of CrPC

In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to the Union of India regarding a plea challenging the constitutionality of Section 437A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). This provision allows accused individuals to secure bail during their appeal by furnishing bail bonds with sureties. 

The plea contends that Section 437A contradicts another section of the CrPC, 354(d), which obliges courts to release the accused. The petitioner argues that the provision lacks proportionality and could result in continued incarceration for those who lack financial resources and sureties. 

The case raises concerns about unjustified incarceration and potential violations of the fundamental right to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Central government has been asked to respond to the plea.

Case Title: Ajay Verma v. Union Of India And Ors. W.P.(Crl.) No. 536/2023 PIL-W

Supreme Court Applauds Madras HC’s Reopening of TN Minister Ponmudi’s Acquittal Case

The Supreme Court has declined to intervene in the Madras High Court’s suo motu decision to reopen the acquittal case of Tamil Nadu Minister Ponmudi and his wife in a disproportionate assets case. 

The Court commended Justice Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court for his initiative in this matter and refused to entertain the challenges filed by Ponmudi and his wife. The Madras High Court had previously found the transfer of the case from one district judge to another to be legally questionable and had ordered fresh hearings. 

The Supreme Court encouraged the petitioners to present their legal arguments before the High Court and expressed concerns about the trial’s transfer. It also appreciated Justice Anand Venkatesh’s observations in the case.

Cases : K.Ponmudi v. State SLP(Crl) No. 14197/2023, P.Visalatchi v. State SLP(Crl) No. 14282/2023

Important Legal News | 04 November

CJI DY Chandrachud Affirms Judiciary’s Independence and Role in Upholding Constitutional Morality

In a recent statement at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2023, Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud emphasised the importance of the judiciary’s independence from electoral politics. He asserted that judges are not accountable to the people like the legislative or executive branches, highlighting this as a strength, not a deficiency. CJI Chandrachud stressed that judges base their decisions on constitutional morality, not popular opinion, advocating for the promotion of broad values like fraternity, liberty and equality.

He clarified that a legislative body cannot overrule a Supreme Court judgment simply because they disagree with it; instead, they can rectify it through legislation. Furthermore, he expressed the necessity for judges to retire to allow for the evolution of the legal system by succeeding generations.

Tata Motors Awarded ₹766 Crore Compensation in Singur Nano Project Arbitration

In a recent development, an Arbitral Tribunal, composed of former Supreme Court and Calcutta High Court judges, awarded Tata Motors a compensation of ₹766 crores. The compensation is to be paid by the West Bengal government to cover the capital losses incurred by Tata Motors when its plans to manufacture Nano cars in Singur were abandoned. Additionally, Tata Motors is entitled to recover ₹1 crore in costs for pursuing the arbitration proceedings.

The background of the case involves land acquisition by the West Bengal government for Tata’s Nano car production, which was later challenged, leading to Tata shifting its operations to Gujarat. This ruling follows years of legal disputes and marks a significant development in the long-standing case. Tata Motors was represented by a team from Avijit Deb Partners, while the WBIDC was represented by a team from JSA Advocates & Solicitors.

NBDSA Orders Removal of Times Now Navbharat Show for Communal Bias in Garbha Events Discussion

The News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) has directed Times Now Navbharat to take down a show hosted by Navika Kumar, as it gave a communal slant to a discussion on Garbha events. The NBDSA found that the broadcaster violated guidelines aimed at preventing communal colours in reporting crimes and related incidents. It was alleged that the show targeted the Muslim community and violated broadcasting standards.

The show in question aired a segment discussing women’s safety at public events but was criticised for giving it a communal tilt. The NBDSA ordered the removal of the content from the channel’s website and YouTube within seven days. The channel had defended its show, asserting it was raising valid questions about women’s safety, but the NBDSA concluded that it had generalised alleged incidents, creating an impression of bias.

Important Legal News | 03 November

Kerala High Court Asserts Family Courts’ Jurisdiction under Domestic Violence Act

The Kerala High Court recently confirmed that family courts possess the authority to hear original petitions seeking relief under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. This ruling came as the court dismissed a man’s petition asserting that only judicial magistrates can adjudicate such cases.

The High Court emphasised that the Family Court Act was designed to streamline proceedings related to family and marital disputes, allowing family courts to handle domestic violence cases as indicated by the Domestic Violence Act. The case revolved around a divorce plea, with the petitioner challenging his estranged wife’s attempt to transfer the case to a family court in Ernakulam. The High Court upheld the family court’s jurisdiction to hear original petitions under the Domestic Violence Act, dismissing the petitioner’s objections and concerns.

TRAI Informs Supreme Court: Deactivated Mobile Numbers Not Assigned for 90 Days; WhatsApp Data Deleted After 45 Days

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has informed the Supreme Court that when a cellular mobile telephone number is deactivated due to non-usage or upon subscriber request, it remains unassigned to a new user for a minimum of 90 days. The court emphasised that it’s the responsibility of the previous subscriber to safeguard their privacy.

Furthermore, subscribers can prevent WhatsApp data misuse by deleting their WhatsApp account linked to their old phone number and erasing data from local device memory or cloud. WhatsApp revealed that for re-cycled phone numbers, they monitor account inactivity and remove old account data if it remains inactive for 45 days. This information led to the court’s resolution of a 2021 writ petition concerning the misuse of deactivated mobile numbers.

Delhi High Court: Child Sexual Abuse Demands Severe Punishment Regardless of Background

The Delhi High Court has underscored the gravity of child sexual abuse, deeming it a pervasive and disturbing issue that warrants the unwavering attention of all stakeholders in the justice system. Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain emphasised that the court has a solemn duty to impose adequate punishment on perpetrators, regardless of their social, economic status, or domestic responsibilities.

The court cited the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012, enacted to safeguard children from sexual offenses, harassment and pornography. The Act treats sexual exploitation and abuse of children as heinous crimes, demanding effective intervention. Justice Jain made these remarks while upholding the conviction of a man for sexually assaulting his 4-year-old son, affirming the need for stern penalties in such cases.

Important Legal News | 02 November

Supreme Court Rejects Exception 4 Plea, Upholds Conviction in Murder Trial

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court of India has upheld the conviction of a husband for the murder of his wife. The court ruled that Exception 4 to Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, which exempts culpable homicide from murder charges in sudden fights or quarrels, does not apply if the offender takes “undue advantage” of the situation.

In this case, the wife had poured kerosene on herself to escape further torture during a quarrel, and the husband lit a matchstick, saying, “You Die,” with the intent to kill her. The court found that the husband had taken undue advantage, making Exception 4 inapplicable, and upheld the conviction under Sections 302 and 498A of the IPC. The ruling clarified the conditions for applying Exception 4 and emphasized the absence of premeditation and the avoidance of undue advantage.

PIL Challenges Taj Mahal’s History, Claims It Was Not Built by Shah Jahan

A public interest litigation (PIL) filed before the Delhi High Court challenges the historical narrative of the Taj Mahal’s construction, alleging that it was not built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The petitioner, Surjit Singh Yadav, the President of the Hindu Sena, asserts that the Taj Mahal was originally the palace of Raja Man Singh and was later renovated by Shah Jahan.

Yadav is seeking directions to government bodies, including the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), to rectify historical inaccuracies in textbooks and to investigate the structure’s age and the existence of Raja Man Singh’s palace. The plea is set to be heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela. The PIL questions the ASI’s conflicting information regarding the monument’s history.

Supreme Court to Determine Transgender Woman’s Eligibility for Domestic Violence Act Maintenance

The Supreme Court of India will decide in January 2025 whether a transgender woman can claim maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The case stems from an appeal against a Bombay High Court judgment that recognized a person who self-identifies as a woman as an ‘aggrieved person’ under the Act. The High Court upheld an order for interim maintenance to the respondent.

The petitioner argues that the respondent does not meet the criteria for an “aggrieved person” under the DV Act, which pertains to “women” in domestic relationships, and that the marriage was not solemnized. The Supreme Court has granted leave and requested responses from the concerned parties, setting the case for January 2025.

Important Legal News | 01 November

Supreme Court: Bail Cannot Be Contingent on Co-Accused Surrender

The Supreme Court, in a recent decision, ruled that the grant of bail to a co-accused cannot be dependent on the surrender of another accused, particularly the main accused. The case involved an accused in a dowry death case, who was the brother of the husband.

Notably, the husband was absconding and the trial had commenced without his arrest. Initially, the Patna High Court had granted bail but conditioned it on the husband’s surrender. The Supreme Court, however, modified the bail order, stating that the husband’s surrender was not necessary for the appellant’s release. This decision clarifies that bail should not be contingent on the actions of other accused parties.


Supreme Court Adjourns CBI Appeals in SNC Lavalin Case Involving Kerala Chief Minister

The Supreme Court has postponed the hearing of appeals filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging the discharge of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other accused in the SNC Lavalin Case. The bench, comprising Justices Surya Kant, Dipankar Datta and Ujjal Bhuyyan, granted the adjournment after the Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, who represents the CBI, requested a passover due to prior commitments.

This case concerns alleged corruption in a contract awarded to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for hydro-electric project renovations in Kerala during Pinarayi Vijayan’s tenure as the electricity minister in 1996-98. The matter will be rescheduled for a later date.

Delhi Court Criticises Delhi Police for Combining 19 Complaints in One FIR in Delhi Riots Case

A Delhi court has strongly criticised the Delhi Police for consolidating 19 complaints into a single FIR related to the Delhi riots case without a valid basis and ordered separate investigations for each incident. The court, presided over by Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala, noted that the police had taken up 20 different places of incidents for investigation within one FIR but failed to question the two key witnesses about the 19 additional incidents.

The court emphasised that this approach would be unjust to the 19 additional complainants and their complaints should be independently assessed. The judge made these remarks while acquitting an individual of rioting and unlawful assembly charges, highlighting the flawed practice of clubbing unrelated complaints in one case.

Case Title: Kasthuri Ranga v. State Rep. By Addl. Superintendent Of Police CBI And Ors. SLP(Crl) No. 7801/2017 and connected cases.

Review Petition Filed Against Supreme Court’s Refusal to Recognise Same-Sex Marriages

A review petition has been submitted to the Supreme Court, contesting the court’s October 17 verdict that denied the recognition of the right of same-sex couples to marry or have civil unions. The review petition was filed by one of the petitioners, Udit Sood, who had initially approached the court.

In its previous judgment, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, had declared that the current law did not acknowledge the right to same-sex marriages or civil unions, leaving it to the Parliament to enact enabling legislation. The court also ruled against the right of same-sex couples to adopt children. While the majority of judges upheld these views, CJI Chandrachud and Justice Kaul dissented, affirming that same-sex couples should be allowed to recognise their relationships as civil unions and adopt children.

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