Legal News | 21st September

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Election Commission Clarifies: Aadhaar Not Mandatory for Electoral Rolls, Forms to Be Amended

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has assured the Supreme Court that it will make “appropriate clarificatory changes” to Forms 6 and 6B, which previously required Aadhaar details for voter registration. The ECI clarified that the submission of Aadhaar numbers is not mandatory under Rule 26-B of the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules 2022.

This undertaking was made in response to a petition highlighting issues with these forms, filed by G. Niranjan, Senior Vice President of the Telangana Pradesh Committee. ECI’s senior counsel stated that nearly 66.23 crore Aadhaar numbers were already uploaded for electoral rolls, but linking Aadhaar to voter cards remains voluntary. This move addresses concerns raised in ongoing litigation regarding the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules 2022.

Supreme Court Receives Sealed Report from Arunachal Chief Minister in Corruption Allegations PIL

The Supreme Court received a sealed report from Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu in a petition that raised corruption allegations related to government tenders awarded a decade ago. An NGO named “Voluntary Arunachal Sena” filed the Special Leave Petition, alleging that the state government awarded contracts without floating tenders.

The petition, filed in 2010, challenged the Gauhati High Court’s decision to dismiss a PIL from 2007. The current Chief Minister, Pema Khandu, was added as an additional respondent. The Court also expressed its intention to seek assistance from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in the matter, emphasising the need to understand the norms and guidelines. The case will be heard next on October 11, 2023.

Chhattisgarh High Court Quashes FIR Against BJP Leaders Raman Singh and Sambit Patra Over Congress Toolkit Tweet

The Chhattisgarh High Court has dismissed a criminal case against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Raman Singh and Sambit Patra, which had been filed by the Chhattisgarh Police. The case alleged that they spread fake news by tweeting about an alleged ‘Congress Toolkit’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The High Court ruled that the act of tweeting political gossip was wrongly portrayed as spreading fake news and criticised the police for registering the FIR within a minute of receiving the complaint.

Lok Sabha Passes Women’s Reservation Bill with Overwhelming Majority

The Lok Sabha has passed the Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill, 2023, commonly known as the Women’s Reservation Bill, with a resounding majority. This historic bill reserves one-third of seats in both the parliament and State legislative assemblies for women. Out of the 456 Members of Parliament who voted, an overwhelming 454 MPs voted in favor of the bill, with only 2 voting against it.

The bill, introduced by Union Minister of State for Law & Justice Arjun Ram Meghwal, encompasses seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), further extending its reach. Notably, the reservation will come into effect after the first census following the act’s commencement.

While the bill garnered widespread support, Congress parliamentary party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi raised concerns about the delay caused by the census and delimitation exercise. She urged for a caste census to ensure reservation for women from SCs, STs, and other backward classes (OBCs). Several other leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Sangeeta Azad, voiced support for OBC reservation in the bill.

Despite debates and discussions surrounding the bill, its passage marks a significant step toward greater gender representation in India’s political landscape.

Supreme Court Rejects Tamil Nadu’s Request to Increase Cauvery River Water Share

The Supreme Court has declined Tamil Nadu’s plea to raise its allocation of Cauvery river water from Karnataka. Tamil Nadu sought an increase from 5,000 to 7,200 cusecs per day but was denied by a bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha, and Prashant Kumar Mishra. The court cited the authority of the Cauvery Water Management Authority, which monitors the situation regularly.

Tamil Nadu claimed Karnataka reduced the water supply from 15,000 to 8,000 cusecs, while Karnataka argued that monsoon failure justified its actions. The court previously expressed a reluctance to decide without expert body input. The Cauvery river dispute dates back to agreements in 1892 and 1924.

Delhi High Court Upholds Suspension of Aadhaar Mandate for EWS Admissions in Private Schools

The Delhi High Court has upheld the suspension of Delhi government circulars that required Aadhaar for admissions to private unaided schools for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), Disadvantaged Group (DG), and Children with Special Needs (CWSN) categories.

The division bench, comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula, cited potential infringements on the child’s right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. They relied on the Supreme Court’s KS Puttaswamy case and deemed the government’s circulars prima facie in conflict with constitutional provisions. The single-judge had previously stayed the circulars’ operation, stating that a child cannot be compelled to hold an Aadhaar card. The government’s appeal was dismissed, upholding the suspension.

Supreme Court: Acquittal in POCSO Cases Not Clean When Witnesses Turn Hostile

The Supreme Court has ruled that an acquittal in a child sexual assault case cannot be considered clean when witnesses turn hostile and the complainant recants her allegations. This observation was made in reference to an acquittal under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) where the survivor did not support the prosecution’s case.

The court’s decision came while upholding the Madhya Pradesh police’s decision not to appoint a POCSO-accused as a police constable despite his acquittal in the case. The court emphasised that moral standards for law enforcement aspirants are higher, and a clean acquittal does not automatically make one fit for such a role.

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