Important Legal News | October 10

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Kerala High Court Rules Muslim Wife Initiating ‘Khula’ Divorce Not Eligible for Maintenance Under Section 125 CrPC

In a recent judgment, the Kerala High Court determined that a Muslim wife who initiates a divorce through ‘Khula’ cannot claim maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) after obtaining the Khula divorce. ‘Khula’ is a divorce initiated by the wife, with her consent and consideration provided to the husband.

The court cited Section 125(4) of CrPC, which denies maintenance if a wife is living in adultery or refuses to live with her husband without sufficient reason. The court equated ‘Khula’ with a voluntary refusal to live with the husband, barring maintenance from the date of Khula. However, it directed the husband to pay maintenance for the period preceding the Khula.

The case involved a dispute over maintenance payments, with the court ultimately awarding reduced maintenance to the wife and child, citing their financial circumstances.

This decision aligns with established legal principles governing Muslim divorce and maintenance under CrPC.

Telangana High Court Seeks BCI’s Decision on Eligibility of Final Year Law Students for AIBE

The Telangana High Court has instructed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to determine whether final year law students are eligible to appear for the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) in accordance with a Supreme Court decision in BCI v. Bonni FOI Law College & Ors. Justice C.V. Bhaskar recorded the BCI’s submission that a committee had been formed to evaluate the Supreme Court’s recommendations on this matter.

The petitioner, a third-year LLB student at Osmania University, challenged a notification issued by the BCI, claiming it contradicted the Supreme Court’s judgment. The petitioner argued that the BCI had not granted eligibility to final year LLB students, as directed by the Supreme Court in the aforementioned case.

The Supreme Court had ruled that law students who had cleared all exams and were in their final semester could take the AIBE. The court directed the BCI to consider the petitioner’s representation and the Supreme Court’s observations within two weeks.

Supreme Court Clarifies Presumption and Burden of Proof in Cheque Dishonour Cases

In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court clarified the principles related to the presumption under Section 139 of the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 in cheque dishonour cases and outlined the mode of its rebuttal. The Court reversed the acquittal of an accused in such a case, highlighting a “fundamental flaw” in the approach of both the Trial Court and the High Court.

The Court emphasised that once the presumption under Section 139 is activated, the burden of proof shifts to the accused, who must then present evidence to rebut the presumption. The Court specified two key questions for the Courts to ask:

  1. Has the accused provided evidence to prove that there was no debt or liability at the time of issuing the cheque?
  2. In the absence of such evidence, has the accused demonstrated the nonexistence of debt or liability by a preponderance of probabilities based on the particular circumstances of the case?

The Court noted that as soon as the complainant proves the execution of the cheque, the burden of proof shifts to the accused under Section 139. The accused can discharge this burden through direct or circumstantial evidence. Once both parties present their evidence, the Section 139 presumption no longer applies and the Court must weigh the evidence to determine the case’s outcome.

In the case at hand, the Court found errors in the framing of issues by the Trial Court and held that the accused had not sufficiently discharged the burden of proof. The Court emphasised that raising suggestions during cross-examination is insufficient to discharge the burden; a credible defence must be established.

As a result, the Supreme Court set aside the judgments of the Trial Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, convicting the accused and imposing a fine double the amount of the cheque, or one year of simple imprisonment if the fine is not paid.

Supreme Court Refers Definition of ‘Vacant Land’ in Urban Land Ceiling Act to Larger Bench

The Supreme Court has referred the interpretation and significance of the term ‘vacant land’ as defined in Section 2(q) of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, to a larger bench for clarification.

The Urban Land Ceiling Act was enacted to impose a ceiling on the acquisition of urban property, specifically ‘vacant land,’ within urban agglomerations. The Act aimed to prevent the concentration of urban land in the hands of a few individuals. The question before the Court revolves around the interpretation of Section 2(q), which defines ‘vacant land’ and its exceptions.

The Court noted discordance between a two-judge bench decision in State of U.P. vs. L.J. Jhonson (1983) 4 SCC 110 and a three-judge bench decision in State of Maharashtra vs. B.E. Billimoria (2003) 7 SCC 336. The former decision interpreted Section 2(q)(i) to provide a blanket exemption for land in urban areas where building construction is not permissible. The latter decision viewed the Ceiling Act as expropriation legislation and construed it strictly, interpreting the term ‘means’ in Section 2(q) as restrictive and exhaustive.

The Court also considered the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act of 1999, which repealed the Ceiling Act in several states and Union Territories. The Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Repeal Act suggested that the repeal aimed to revive the stagnant housing industry.

The Court highlighted the need to address the interpretation of the words “in an area” in sub-clauses of Section 2(g) and 2(q) of the Act, which had not been explicitly discussed in previous decisions.

Given these complexities and discrepancies, the Supreme Court referred the matter to a larger bench for authoritative determination, emphasising the need for clarity and uniformity in interpreting the term ‘vacant land’ under the Ceiling Act.

Delhi High Court Orders Removal of False YouTube Videos Alleging Pulse Candy Causes Cancer

The Delhi High Court has issued an order to remove videos on YouTube that falsely claimed Pulse candy could cause cancer. Justice Prathiba M Singh also instructed Google to disclose the identity and details of those responsible for uploading the videos.

The court emphasised the importance of protecting freedom of speech but stressed that any claims made should be supported by credible test reports. It cautioned against creating baseless fears, especially concerning approved products, as sensationalisation could lead to unnecessary panic.

The case was filed by Dharampal Satyapal Foods Limited against videos containing defamatory allegations about its product, Pulse candy. One video, uploaded by Ashu Ghai on a YouTube educational channel, attempted to prove that Pulse candy could cause cancer through experiments.

Although Ghai initially agreed to delete the video in response to a cease-and-desist notice, the plaintiff claimed that he only made the video private and that other users subsequently uploaded it.

The court noted that while some videos might raise awareness about the harmful effects of products, others could be motivated by competitors. It ruled that since the initial uploader admitted that the video was misleading, no one else had the right to repost it.

The court ordered the removal of the videos but clarified that users were free to upload factual videos about Pulse candy based on scientifically verifiable test reports.

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