Important Legal News | Oct 09

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Supreme Court Examines Section 17A’s Impact on Chandrababu Naidu’s Case

The Supreme Court, while hearing former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s plea, has questioned the interpretation of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. The court is considering whether this interpretation could potentially undermine the Act’s intended purpose. Section 17A, introduced in July 2018, requires prior sanction from the competent authority before investigating a public servant. Naidu challenges his arrest in connection with a skill development scam, arguing that the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (AP-CID) did not obtain the Governor’s sanction before adding him as the 37th accused. Senior Advocate Harish Salve, representing Naidu, contends that Section 17A aims to curb “regime revenge.”

The case hinges on the applicability of Section 17A, with arguments about its retrospective application and the need for approval at various stages of the investigation. The Supreme Court seeks to ensure that the Act’s objective, the prevention of corruption, is not compromised. The matter is set for further arguments.

Supreme Court Mandates Hybrid Hearings and E-Filing for State Information Commissions

In a move toward enhancing access to justice through technology, the Supreme Court has directed all State Information Commissions (SICs) to offer hybrid hearings for complaints and appeals and streamline e-filing processes. These directives stem from a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Kishan Chand Jain, advocating for technological advancements in SICs.

The Supreme Court emphasised that the use of technology is no longer optional, asserting that it has the potential to ensure access to justice by eliminating the need for citizens to travel long distances for hearings. The court noted disparities in practices among SICs across different states and stressed the importance of technology in upholding fundamental rights.

Key Directives:

  1. All SICs must provide hybrid hearing options for litigants.
  2. SICs should offer choices for hybrid hearings and publish video links on the cause list.
  3. Streamline e-filing procedures for all litigants.
  4. Ensure online service to litigants.
  5. Compile email addresses of Central and State Public Information Officers (PIOs) for SICs.
  6. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) will convene a meeting with Information Commissioners to establish a timeline for compliance.

The PIL also sought various reliefs, including digital portals for RTI filings, quick disposal of appeals, transparent case status updates and the enforcement of penalties against officers by SICs.

Supreme Court Resolves Disputes Over ‘Adipurush’ Movie, Closes Pending High Court Cases

The Supreme Court has brought closure to all pending cases in various High Courts related to the movie “Adipurush.” In response to a transfer petition filed by the film’s producer, seeking to move the cases to the Supreme Court, the Court has ordered the termination of all ongoing proceedings, deeming them futile.

The Court’s decision was unequivocal: “All these matters must be closed now.” It emphasised that since the film has been released following certification by the competent authority under the Cinematography Act of 1952, the proceedings in different High Courts are no longer relevant.

Notably, petitions in the High Courts of Rajasthan, Punjab & Haryana and Allahabad sought to ban the movie and challenge the Central Board of Film Certification’s approval. These petitions alleged that the film hurt the sentiments of Hindus and deviated from the “basic structure” of Valmiki Ramayana.

Previously, on September 11, 2023, the Supreme Court had granted interim relief by staying further proceedings in these cases, pending before different High Courts. In particular, the Allahabad High Court had criticised the film, questioning its certification and its impact on Hindu sentiments, leading to the personal appearance summons of the movie’s director, producer and dialogue writer.

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