High Courts Weekly Round Up [Nov 30 - Dec 06]

Akshita Saxena

6 Dec 2020 1:49 PM GMT

  • High Courts Weekly Round Up [Nov 30 - Dec 06]

    Summation of important High Court orders this week

    Allahabad High Court 1. Private Financial Institutions May Be Performing Public Duties But Can't Be Considered 'State' Under Article 12 Of Constitution: Allahabad High Court [Kailashi Devi v. Branch Manager & Anr.] A Bench of Justices Naheed Ara Moonis and Vivek Varma reiterated that private financial institutions (in this case HDFC), carrying business or commercial activity,...

    Allahabad High Court

    1. Private Financial Institutions May Be Performing Public Duties But Can't Be Considered 'State' Under Article 12 Of Constitution: Allahabad High Court [Kailashi Devi v. Branch Manager & Anr.]

    A Bench of Justices Naheed Ara Moonis and Vivek Varma reiterated that private financial institutions (in this case HDFC), carrying business or commercial activity, may be performing public duties, but cannot be considered to be covered under the definition of "State" under Article 12 of the Constitution.

    Reliance in this regard was placed on Federal Bank Ltd. v. Sagar Thomas and others, (2003) 10 SCC 733, whereby the Supreme Court had held that, "Any business or commercial activity, may be banking, manufacturing units or related to any other kind of business generating resources, employment, production and resulting in circulation of money are no doubt, such which do have impact on the economy of the country in general. But such activities cannot be classified as one falling in the category of discharging duties or functions of a public nature."

    2. Live-in Relationship Between Consenting Adults Not An Offence : Allahabad High Court [Kamini Devi & Anr. v. State of UP & Ors.]

    Observing that a live-in relationship between two consenting adults is not an offence, a division bench comprising Justices Anjani Kumar Mishra and Prakash Padia granted police protection to a couple who wanted to live together. It observed that it is "settled the law that where a boy and a girl are major and they are living with their free will, then, nobody including their parents, has authority to interfere with their living together".

    Recently, a division bench of the High Court declared that the right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty."

    Also Read: Upholding Love : In Last One Month, Allahabad High Court Grants Protection To Over 125 Inter-Faith/Caste Couples

    3. Is Non-Availability Of Designated Senior Advocate A Ground For Adjournment? Allahabad High Court To Examine [Pramendra Yadav v. State of UP & Ors.]

    A Single Bench of Justice Vivek Agarwal expressed its doubts over the right of a counsel to seek adjournment due to non-availability of a designated Senior Advocate. It was of the opinion that Senior Advocates appears on instructions of the instructing counsel, therefore, there cannot be any ground for adjournment to accommodate non-appearance of the designated Senior Counsel.

    To examine this position in detail, the Court appointed Senior Advocate Shashi Prakash Singh assisted by Chandra Prakash Yadav as Amicus Curiae alongwith Senior Advocate Vijay Gautam. The issue will be considered on January 15, 2021.

    4. Whether Writ Of Habeas Corpus Maintainable Against Judicial Order Sending A Juvenile To A Juvenile Home? Allahabad High Court FB To Decide [Rachna & Anr. v. State of UP & Ors.]

    A Division Bench comprising Justices Pritinker Diwaker and Pradeep Kumar Srivastava made a reference to a Full Bench (FB), seeking to decide the issue whether a writ of habeas corpus is maintainable against an order passed by a Judicial Magistrate/ Child Welfare Committee, sending a corpus to the Juvenile Home/ Nari Niketan/ Child Care Home. The Full Bench will also decide whether even a minor can be kept in the Juvenile Home/ Nari Niketan/ Child Care Home against his/ her wishes?

    In this case, a writ of habeas corpus filed by an alleged minor girl, lodged at the Children Home (Girl) at Saharanpur on the directions of the Child Welfare Committee, allegedly against her wish. Disputing the maintainability of this petition, the Standing Counsel submitted that writ of habeas corpus is not maintainable as the order impugned has been passed by the Child Welfare Committee and the judicial order, right or wrong, cannot be assailed in a petition seeking writ of habeas corpus.

    The Court noted that there are two sets of judgments covering the field, first— that support the Petitioner's case that that writ of habeas corpus is maintainable even if the same has been filed against a judicial order of the Magistrate; and second— that support the State's view.

    5. COVID19-After Gujarat, Allahabad High Court Suggests Community Service For Mask Violators [In-Re Inhuman Condition At Quarantine Centres…]

    A Bench comprising Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar directed the UP Government to consider the feasibility of having community service at Covid care centers by such persons who violate the law of wearing masks- in terms of the direction passed by the Gujarat High Court in Vishal S Awtani v. State of Gujarat.

    Taking note of the rise in active Covid-19 cases in UP, especially in the districts of Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Kanpur Nagar and Gautam Budh Nagar, a said, "The Chief Secretary, State of U.P. may see to the feasibility of having community service by such persons who violated the law of wearing masks in terms of the aforesaid order of the Gujarat High Court."

    It is pertinent to note however, that the Gujarat High Court's direction to do community service was stayed by the Supreme Court, for being "disproportionate" and dangerous for "health".

    6. 'Not Inclined To Multiply Litigation': Allahabad High Court Rejects PIL Seeking Judicial Enquiry Into Hathras Case [Babita Upadhyay v. State of UP & Ors.]

    A Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Piyush Agrawal refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking Judicial Enquiry under Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 into Hathras case. It said that the case is already pending before a Division Bench at Lucknow which took suo moto cognizance of midnight cremation of the victim's body and thus, it shall not be appropriate to 'multiply litigation' by entertaining the present Petitioner.

    The petition was disposed of with liberty to move an appropriate application before the Division Bench at Lucknow.

    7. Charge Of Attempt To Murder For Attending Tablighi Jamaat Congregation Prima Facie Abuse Of Process Of Law: Allahabad High Court [Mohd. Saad v. State of UP & Anr.]

    While staying further criminal proceedings against one Mohd. Sad for attending Tablighi Jamaat Congregation, a Bench of Justice Ajay Bhanot observed that charge sheeting the applicant under Section 307 IPC prima facie reflected abuse of the power of law. It directed the concerned officer to file his personal affidavit indicating as to how the ingredients of Section 307 IPC are made out from the facts in the record from the material collected during the investigation.

    Other developments:

    Bombay High Court

    1. Merely Publishing News Against Cop Won't Create Disaffection Amongst Police Or Incite Them To Act Against Govt.: Bombay High Court [Ravindra v. The State of Maharashtra & Ors.]

    A Bench of Justice TV Nalawade and Justice Shrikant D. Kulkarni ruled that allegations levelled against a police officer that he is involved in criminal activities and publishing news report regarding the same would not incite the force to act against the government (within the meaning of Section 3 of the Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922).

    "For attracting the penalty under Section 3 for causing disaffection, it is to be proved that the person concerned intentionally caused or attempted to cause or done any act which is likely to be disaffection towards the Government established by law in this country among the members of the Police force or induces or attempts to induce or does any act which he knows likely to induce any member of the Police force to withhold his service or committed breach of discipline," the Bench observed.

    2. 'How Many Actions Will You Take?' : Bombay High Court Questions Maharashtra Police Over FIR Against Sunaina Holey For Anti-Govt Tweet

    A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik while hearing a matter relating to tweets against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray questioned the Maharashtra government if action will be taken against all those who say something objectionable on Twitter.

    3. "Prima Facie Vexatious"; Bombay High Court Asks Petitioner Challenging Constitutional Validity Of Epidemic Diseases Act To Deposit 1 Lakh [Harshal N. Mirashi v. Union of India & Ors.]

    A Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni directed a petitioner challenging the constitutional validity of the Epidemic Diseases Act to deposit Rs. 1 lakh with the registry in order for it to be heard or else it will be dismissed opining that prima facie the said PIL is vexatious.

    The petitioner had initially approached the apex court in the matter and the case had come up for hearing before the bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indira Banerjee. The bench had asked the petitioner at the outset- "What kind of a writ petition have you filed? Don't you have something called the High Court of Judicature of Bombay?"

    Other developments:

    Calcutta High Court

    1. 'Constitutional Duty Of State To Ensure Effective & Speedy Prosecution': Calcutta High Court Calls For Reports On Undertrials In NDPS Cases [Sanawar Ali v. v. Union of India & Ors.]

    "Right of bail to an under-trial flows from Article 21 of the Constitution of India which frowns upon unnecessary and prolonged detention pending judicial adjudication of guilt," observed a Division Bench of Justices Suvra Ghosh and Joymalya Bagchi while stating that the restrictions on grant of bail to an undertrial under Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) 1985, have to be read in light with the right to personal liberty envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.

    Remarks were made while hearing the bail application of an undertrial under the NDPS Act, who had been incarcerated for over five years during the pendency of his trial (where only two witnesses had been examined till date).

    2. Calcutta High Court Orders CAG Audit Of Amphan Relief Amid Allegations Of Corruption & Irregularities In Relief Distribution Work [Khayrul Anam Seikh v. State of West Bengal & Ors.]

    The Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee directed the CAG of India to audit Amphan Cyclone related relief, amid allegations of irregularities and Corruption in distribution work.

    "The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has the necessary constitutional, statutory and administrative sanction, power and authority to conduct such inquiry as is necessary to ensure that there is financial audit and the performance audit of the utilization of the Amphan relief either extended by the Central Government and operationalized through the State Government or otherwise and ensure that there is an appropriate audit report of the performance as well as accountsThis will pave way for the competent authority, either in the Central Government or the State Government or at both levels or at both ends, to decide the next course of action that should be taken in case of any fault being traced by the audit process of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as regards performance and also regarding accounts," the Bench said.

    3. 'Important To Proceed Against Uniformed Criminals' : Calcutta High Court Directs Action Against Police Officer For Misuse Of Section 41A CrPC [Ranjit De v. State]

    Coming down heavily on the police for attempting to harass a citizen by misusing Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a division bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Aniruddha Roy directed the Director General of Police to initiate inquiry against the concerned investigating officer. "This appears to be a case of harassment or extortion by the investigating officer and immediate appropriate disciplinary measures must be instituted against possible unruly conduct", the Bench observed.

    Recently, the Supreme Court had criticized the Kolkata police for issuing notice under Section 41A to a woman in Delhi for her tweets against the West Bengal government. "There is a need to ensure that the power under section 41A is not used to intimidate, threaten and harass", a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee while staying the notice in the case Rohini Biswas v State of West Bengal.

    4. 23 Years Delay In Listing A Habeas Corpus Petition: Calcutta High Court Moots Proceedings For Misconduct Against Errant Officers [Kanchan Tanti v. State of West Bengal & Ors.]

    A Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee expressed strong displeasure over its Registry for failure to list a habeas corpus petition filed in the year 1997, for as many as 23 years, despite explicit directions to list the matter after three months. Taken aback by such negligence, it suggested that in such cases, proceedings for misconduct should be initiated against errant officers.

    Other developments:

    Chhattisgarh High Court

    1. Section 14 Limitation Act Has No Application In Criminal Proceedings : Chhattisgarh High Court [Radhe Shyam Khemka (dead) v. Raju Yadav @ Ram Kumar]

    A Single Bench of Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal held that the Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 has no application in criminal proceedings. It observed that the applicability of Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act, 1963 is confined to suit and appeal or revision, it cannot be made applicable to criminal proceeding like revision. However, the court noted that Section 470(1) of CrPC provides that in computing the period of limitation, the time during which any person has been prosecuting with due diligence another prosecution, whether in a Court of first instance or in a Court of appeal or revision, against the offender, shall be excluded.

    Section 14 provides for exclusion of time spent in proceedings bona fide, in a Court which lacked jurisdiction. The issue in this case was whether in a criminal proceeding, Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act, 1963 would be applicable? In this case, the dismissal of complainant's application filed for condonation of delay read with Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 was under challenge.

    Delhi High Court

    1. Dishonour Of Cheque: Specific Averments To Be Mentioned, Not Enough To Allege That the Accused Was CEO Or Director Of Company: Delhi High Court [Dharna Goyal v. M/s Aryan Infratech Pvt. Ltd.]

    A single judge bench of Justice Jyoti Singh passed an order quashing criminal proceedings against the former CEO of a company in a cheque dishonour case, holding that as no specific allegations or averments against the former CEO, regarding her alleged role either in the transaction or in the conduct of business of the company were made out, the complaint against her was liable to be quashed in a cheque dishonour case.

    The Judge said that it was settled law that the mere designation of an officer in a company was not enough to make the officer vicariously liable in a case under Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act (NI Act) "The absence of an averment as to the transaction / specific role of the Petitioner, in my opinion, is fatal to the case of the complainant," she stated.

    2. Avoidance Application Cannot Be Adjudicated By NCLT After Approval Of Resolution Plan: Delhi High Court [Venus Recruiters Pvt Ltd v. Union Of India]

    A Bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh held that an application for avoidance of a preferential transaction, though filed prior to the Resolution Plan being approved, cannot be heard and adjudicated by the NCLT, at the instance of the Resolution Professional, after the approval of the Resolution Plan. The continuation of a RP or filing of an application for the purpose of prosecuting an avoidance application as a `Former RP' is beyond the contemplation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the Court observed.

    In this case, NCLT had issued notice an application filed under Section 43 for avoidance of preferential transactions of the resolution process which was filed before it approved the resolution plan. Assailing this proceedings, the petitioner's contention was that under the scheme of the IBC, once the CIRP has reached finality, the Resolution Professional (RP) becomes functus officio and can no longer file or pursue any application on behalf of the company. As per Section 43 of the code, if the RP is of the opinion that any preferential transaction has taken place, by which the Corporate Debtor has given any benefit to a related party, two years prior to the insolvency commencement date or a preference to an unrelated party one year prior to the said date, he can move an application with the NCLT for avoidance of the same. If the NCLT is of the view that the transaction was a preferential transaction, it can pass various types of orders as set out in Section 44, in effect neutralising the transaction.

    3. Delhi Judicial Service Exam- Answer Key To Be Subjected To Judicial Review Only When It Is Demonstrably Wrong: Delhi High Court [Shivnath Tripathi v. Registrar General High Court Of Delhi]

    In a case relating to Delhi Higher Judiciary Service Preliminary Examination, bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula observed that an answer key cannot be disregarded as being incorrect merely on a doubt. There is always a presumption of correctness regarding the answer key and it may be subject to judicial review only when it is "demonstrably wrong" i.e. it must be such as no reasonable body of men well-versed in the particular subject would regard it as correct, the Bench observed.

    4. Delhi High Court Issues Notice On CPIL's Plea Against Govt's CMS, NATGRID, NETRA Surveillance Systems

    A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notice to the Ministries of Home Affairs, Law, Information Technology and Communications, on a plea against the Central Government's surveillance systems Central Monitoring System (CMS), Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA), and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), on a plea by Centre for Public Interest Litigation and and Software Freedom Law Centre

    The Petitioners has sought a direction to restrain the government from continuing to deploy three insidious surveillance systems, namely Centralised Monitoring System ("CMS"), Network & Traffic Analysis ("NETRA") and National Intelligence Grid ("NATGRID"). These surveillance systems allow the government to monitor communications of individuals through mobile phones, landlines, and the internet.

    5. An HIV Positive Patient Can't Be Punished For 'Attempt To Murder' For Sex Without Woman's Consent: Delhi High Court [Sabhajeet Maurya v. State NCT of Delhi]

    A Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru ruled that an HIV positive patient can't be convicted for an offence punishable under Section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder), if he had sexual intercourse without woman's consent. It clarified that unprotected sexual engagement by an HIV positive person, when such a person is aware of the nature of his disease; he is liable to be punished under Section 270 of the IPC.

    "The Trial Court has proceeded on the basis that the act of a penetrative sexual intercourse by a person who is HIV positive is likely to cause death to the receptive partner. This is based on two assumptions. First, that such sexual intercourse is most likely to transmit the disease to the healthy partner; and second, that on transmission of the disease, the partner so infected is likely to die. However, both the said assumptions, are without basis and without any scientific evidence, to support the same," the Bench observed.

    6. 'When No Minimum Sentence Is Prescribed, Accused is Entitled To Default Bail If Charge-Sheet Not Filed In 60 Days': Delhi High Court Grants Bail To Journalist Rajeev Sharma [Rajeev Sharma v. State (NCT) Of Delhi]

    A Single Bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna granted bail to journalist Rajeev Sharma, who was arrested for allegedly leaking sensitive information to Chinese intelligence. It observed that an accused is entitled to default bail if chargesheet is not filed in 60 days, if no minimum sentences is prescribed under the statute for the offences alleged against him.

    The Bench referred to the judgments in Rajeev Choudhary v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2001 (5) SCC 34 and Rakesh Kumar Paul v. State of Assam and observed that the words "not less than" in Section 167(2) would mean that the imprisonment should be of 10 years or more and would cover only those cases for which the punishment and imprisonment would be for a clear period of 10 years or more.

    Other developments:

    Gujarat High Court

    1. People Not Wearing Masks Will Have To Offer Community Service At COVID Care Centres: Gujarat High Court [Vishal Awtani v. State of Gujarat]

    A Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala directed the Gujarat government to come out with a policy or order, directing that all those caught not wearing face cover/mask shall be compulsorily sent to COVID-19 care centres for community service. The direction was issued even after Government submitted that it was not inclined to introduce community service for violators of social distancing norms and/or for those not wearing face cover/mask at the COVID Centres on non-medical positions.

    The Court opined people not wearing masks in effect put the community at risk and therefore, "in line with the concept and in the principle of community service, the said violator must extend services to the community which is put at risk."

    Note: This direction was stayed by the Top Court for being "disproportionate" and dangerous for "health".

    Himachal Pradesh High Court

    1. "Public At Large Has Been Callous, Negligent & Irresponsible": Himachal Pradesh High Court Issues Directions For Govt. To Tackle COVID19 [Court on its own motion v. State of HP]

    Noticing the steep surge in COVID-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh, a Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua issued several directions for the State Government to tackle COVID cases. While observing that it is not the Government which is solely responsible for the rise in COVID Cases, the Court observed, "The public at large has also exhibited behaviour which is nothing short of being callous, negligent and irresponsible."

    Access full Report to read the directions.

    Also Read: COVID-19: 'State Has Taken Effective Steps, But The Same Aren't Sufficient', Himachal Pradesh High Court Directs State To File Its Response On 4 Issues

    Karnataka High Court

    1. Right To Marry A Person Of Choice Irrespective Of Caste Or Religion A Fundamental Right: Karnataka High Court [X v. Commissioner of Police, Bangalore & Ors.]

    A division bench of Justices S Sujata and Sachin Shankar Magadum held that the right of any major individual to marry the person of his/her choice is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India. "It is well settled that a right of any major individual to marry the person of his/her choice is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India and the said liberty relating to the personal relationships of two individuals cannot be encroached by anybody irrespective of caste or religion" it said.

    The decision assumes relevance in the backdrop of talks by Karnataka Government to bring a law against 'love jihad' - a conspiracy theory used to discredit marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women as conspiracy to cause conversion -following the footsteps of Uttar Pradesh.

    2. Cases Against MPs/MLAs : Karnataka High Court Directs Implementation Of Witness Protection Scheme

    A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty while hearing a suo-motu petition to rationalize the disposal of criminal cases pending against legislators, directed the State government to issue an order constituting a competent authority as prescribed in the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018, which has been approved by the Supreme Court, within two weeks.

    The Supreme court had in the case of Mahender Chawla vsUnion Of India, on December 5, 2018, approved the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018, prepared by Union of India and had directed it (Government of India) and all states and Union Territories, to enforce the same in letter and spirit.

    3. What Is ED's Legal Power To Ask Banks To Freeze Amnesty India's Accounts? Karnataka High Court Asks

    A single bench of Justice P S Dinesh Kumar directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to disclose the power under which it has written to the banks directing them to freeze accounts of international human rights body Amnesty International's India offices (M/s Indians for Amnesty International Trust)

    It asked the counsel of ED: "What provision of law have you exercised in writing the letter to the banks? A copy of the order which is not given to the petitioner. You must have some source of power, give a specific answer to this question."

    4. 'No Court Bound By Govt Decision To Withdraw Prosecution' : Karnataka High Court On Move To Drop Cases Against Ministers, MLAs

    A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty issued notice on a petition which challenged the Government decision to drop criminal prosecution in 61 cases against elected representatives and ministers. It observed:

    "No Court is bound by such a decision taken to withdraw from the prosecution. Even if an application is made under Section 321 of Cr.P.C, the Courts are duty bound to assess whether a prima facie case is made out or not and that the Court has power to reject the prayer".

    5. 'State Duty Bound To Protect Right To Shelter' : Karnataka High Court Directs Govt To Reconstruct Migrants' Huts Burnt Down During Lockdown

    Asserting that the State is bound to protect the right to shelter, a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty directed the state government to reconstruct at its own cost the huts/shanties of migrant workers in Bengaluru, which were burnt down by unknown miscreants when the occupants had left for their native places after the announcement of the lockdown.

    The Court direct that the State, within two months time, at its own cost, should reconstruct huts/structures of uniform pattern of affected families whose houses were burnt down near the Kachakaranahalli slum in Bengaluru East.

    Other developments:

    Kerala High Court

    1. Investigation & Arrest Under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act To Be Conducted By Special Police Officer; Power Cannot Be Delegated: Kerala High Court [Ali Ahammed v. State of Kerala]

    A Bench of Justice MR Anitha made it clear that any investigation or arrest under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 has to be conducted only by a Special Police Officer authorized in that behalf. It held that there is no provision in the Act that empowers such Special officer to authorise the investigation of the case to be conducted by any other Police officer.

    Section 13 of the Act states that there shall be for such area to be specified by the State Government in this behalf a special police officer appointed by or on behalf of that Government for dealing with offences under this Act in that area. Further, Section 14(ii) states that when the special police officer requires any officer subordinate to him to arrest without warrant otherwise than in his presence any person for an offence under this Act, "he shall give that subordinate officer an order in writing, specifying the person to be arrested and the offence for which the arrest is being made..."

    2. Many Keralites Don't Display Surnames Because They Are Indicative Of Caste Status: Kerala HC Directs CBSE To Consider Representation Regarding Application Forms [Harish PA v. Secretary, CBSE & Anr.]

    While noting that in the state of Kerala, members of some of the communities traditionally have no surnames, a Bench of Justice N. Nagaresh directed CBSE to consider a representation against its new application format regarding registration of Class IX/XI students for session 2020-'21. The plea sought that expanded name of the student/ mother/father/guardian should be given and no abbreviations should be used.

    "A good section of citizens having surnames, do not state or display surnames because surnames mostly are indicative of caste status. Keralites use abbreviations along with their names, which need not necessarily be the abbreviations of their surname. Sometimes the abbreviations are indicative of one's father's name, sometimes of mother's name. Many a time, the abbreviations are indicative of their family name As the grievance raised by the petitioner is one faced by many parents/students in the State, it would be only just and proper that the CBSE considers representation of the petitioner for the benefit of all who are facing the same problem," the Bench directed.

    3. Kerala High Court Stays Govt Decision To Blacklist Pricewaterhouse Coopers From IT-Related Projects

    A single bench of Justice PV Asha stayed the decision of the Kerala Government to blacklist premier consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers Private Ltd (PwC) from IT-related projects for two years, and issued notice to the Kerala Government and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL) on the writ petition filed by PwC.

    The decision to blacklist the international firm was taken in the wake of the controversial recruitment of Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, to the Space Park Project, of which PwC was the consultant. The KSITIL had appointed PwC as the Project Management Unit of the Space Park. Following the controversy over the gold smuggling case, PwC faced allegations that it had made appointments to the Space Park without due diligence.

    Madhya Pradesh High Court

    1. COVID19- Draw Out A Definite Plan To Rehabilitate Migrated Workers: Madhya Pradesh High Court Directs State Govt. [Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. State Of MP & Ors.]

    A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Vijay Kumar Shukla directed the Madhya Pradesh Government and its functionaries to draw out a definite plan to rehabilitate migrated workers, who returned to MP after being rendered jobless during pandemic COVID-19 outbreak. The direction was made in a plea filed by Social organisation Bandhua Mukti Morcha concerning the difficulties faced by the labourers, who migrated from other states to MP during pandemic.

    The Court directed the State to draw out a definite plan by next date along with status report qua other facilities which are being extended to the migrated labourers who have been identified for extending the benefit under respective schemes.

    Madras High Court

    1. 'High Time That Candidates Be Made To Own Up For Their Mistakes': Madras High Court Rejects NEET Candidates' Plea For Change Of Community Status [S. Sivakumar v. Govt of India & Ors.]

    Taking a strict view against NEET aspirants who wrongly mentioned their communal status as 'General' instead of 'OBC' in the applications, a Bench of Justice Anand N. Venkatesh remarked that Courts cannot keep on condoning the mistakes year after year, and such candidates must be made to own up for their mistakes.

    While dismissing a batch of writ petitions filed for change in their community status in the NEET applications after declaration of the result, the Court said, "n the present case, the mistake committed by the petitioners while filling up the category by itself cannot be seen as a factor which sealed the fate of the petitioners. The petitioners and other candidates were provided with various opportunities to make corrections in the particulars that were provided while filling up the online Application Form, including their category. Right from January 2020 up to September 2020, at least during eight occasions candidates were informed to make corrections if there are any mistakes in their applications submitted by them through online. It is not known as to why the petitioners did not utilize this opportunity to correct the category from UR to OBC. The stand taken by the petitioners that such opportunities given by the Testing Agency through online mode, was not known to them, is totally unacceptable to this Court."

    2. Ex-Judge Karnan's Abusive Videos : Madras High Court Directs Personal Presence Of DGP & Commissioner To Ascertain Probe Status [Bar Council of Tamil Nadu & Puducherry v. DGP, Chennai & Ors.]

    A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha summoned the Director General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, Tamil Nadu, on December 7, 2020, in connection to the lackadaisical investigation in the 'uncharitable tirades' of former High Court Judge, CS Karnan.

    "It is very pertinent to point out at this juncture that if a preventive action would have been taken at an appropriate time, videos numbering 33, would not have been uploaded and it also appears that incalculable damage has been done to the honour and reputation of the former Judges as well as some of the Sitting Judges of the Apex Court as well as this Court and that apart, to their family members, especially, the women-folk," the Bench observed.

    3. 'Will Open Floodgates': Madras HC Refuses To Interfere With Anna University's Decision To Collect Exam Fees Despite Cancellation Of Exams [N. Nandhini & Ors. v. Anna University & Ors.]

    A Single Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh refused to interfere with the decision of Anna University to collect examination fees from the students, even though the examinations were cancelled by the State Government on account of the ongoing pandemic.

    "The State Government itself authorized the Universities and academic Institutions to collect the semester fees as well as the examination fees from the students before publishing their results. Almost all the Universities have followed this instruction and collected the examination fees from the students even though the examination was not actually conducted…Therefore, when the majority of the Institutions and students have already paid the examination fees and got their results published, it will not be in the fitness of things to grant an exception only to those who have approached this Court questioning the collection of the examination fees," the Court held.

    4. Violation Of Fundamental Rights At The Hands Of State/Officials- When Will Parliament Bring Law On State's Liability': Asks Madras High Court

    While observing that either the Parliament or the State Legislature, are not taking up the suggestions/directions of the Constitutional Courts seriously, a Bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice B. Pugalendhi remarked, "Number of cases/decisions could be quoted, wherein the Constitutional Courts have suggested for bringing the new Act or to bring suitable amendments in the various existing Acts and till date, they have not been done."

    The Bench said that "there should be a separation of powers between the three wings of the State, namely, Executive, Legislature and Judiciary". It specifically observed, "The response shown by the other Wings to the suggestions made by the judiciary regarding the important issues for the enactment of suitable laws pointing out the absence of law as on date or the necessity to make new laws or to amend the existing Acts, is not positive and the suggestions made by the constitutional Courts are not considered by the legislatures very seriously and acted upon."

    5. 'India Most Depressed Country In The World': Madras High Court Seeks Response From Central Authorities Over Mental Health Facilities [KR Raja v. State of TN]

    Taking note of the "inadequate treatment facilities" for mental health patients, a Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalendhi called upon the Central health authorities to answer the specific queries raised by the Court on this issue. The Bench was "shocked" that India is the most depressed country in the world and yet, it spent only 20 paisa per month per patient in the year 2018-2019.

    It noted that even though understanding the mental health problems, the Central Government enacted the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, no sufficient awareness programmes had been conducted to implement the same in spirit.

    6. Allegation Of Religious Conversion of Daughter Under Influence: Madras High Court Dismisses Habeas Corpus Plea By Mother [S. Kannika v. Superintendent of Police, Trichy]

    A Bench of Justice K. Kalyanasundaram and Justice T. Krishnavalli dismissed a Habeas Corpus Plea filed by the mother alleging religious conversion of her daughter under influence of one Sahul Hameed, after noting that the detenue did not know the man and had converted to Islam on her own.

    7. Why Not Invoke Goonda Act Against Those Who Are Polluting Water Bodies: Madras High Court

    Considering the seriousness of the issue, a Bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran & Justice B. Pugalendhi took suo-motu cognisance of a news report about pollution of the Amaravathi River, and directed the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Karur to conduct an inspection of the River and file a report regarding the same.

    While noting that unless very stringent measures are taken, it is very difficult to control the pollution of water bodies, the Court opined, "Those who are polluting the water bodies should be termed as 'Goonda' as per the definition in Section 2 of the Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982, by amending the provisions to include the Promoters, Directors, Partners and all connected with the polluting industries and should be detained under the Act 14 of 1982, in case, if there is pollution caused by the said industries/companies."

    8. Custodial Deaths : Madras High Court Issues Inquiry Guidelines - Allow Family To Take Photos Of Body, Videograph Autopsy Etc [Santhosh v. District Collector, Madurai & Ors.]

    A Bench of Justice GR Swaminathan issued a slew of directions for the conduct of inquiry under Section 176(1)(A) CrPC in cases of unnatural deaths in custody. It has inter alia directed that the body of the deceased will mandatorily be shown to his/ her family, both front and back, and they shall be allowed to take video and photos.

    "Every time a custodial death occurs, the legitimacy of the State suffers a big dent. That can be set right only by ensuring transparent investigation. A dead person is equally entitled to justice. I would call it posthumous justice. Whenever someone suffers an unnatural death, the circumstances that led to it will have to be unearthed. Otherwise, there would be no closure," observed the Bench.

    Access full report to read guidelines.

    Also Read: 'Doctors Not Even Going Near Bodies. Such Shabby, Unscientific Autopsy Reports Will Collapse Criminal Justice In Country': Madras HC Issues Guidelines

    9. 'Some Condom Ads Obscene, Like Porno Films' : Madras High Court Restrains TV Channels From Telecasting Vulgar Advertisements [KS Sagadevaraja v. Ministry of Information And Broadcasting & Ors.]

    A Bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice B. Pugalendhi issued an interim order against the telecast of obscene and vulgar programmes and Advertisements on TV Channels while observing that interest of justice requires to issue a direction to safeguard the children and women.

    It remarked, "It is shocking to note that in the television, about 10.00 p.m., almost all the television channels are telecasting some advertisements, which exhibit obscenity to promote the sale of condoms, which in fact, are being viewed irrespective of the age and absolutely available in all television channels."

    The Court, in its order noted that Nudity is exhibited in those advertisements, which is punishable under Section 16 of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995. Similarly as per Rule 7(1) of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, the programmes telecast should not offend "morality", "decency" and "religious susceptibilities" of the subscribers.

    Punjab & Haryana High Court

    1. It Cannot Be Presumed That Police Officer Will Be Biased Merely Because He Is Facebook Friend Of Complainant: Punjab & Haryana HC [Mohit Dhawan vs UT Chandigarh]

    A Bench of Justice Sant Prakash observed that merely because the police official is a Facebook friend of the complainant, it cannot be presumed that he shall favour him in an illegal manner. The court observed thus while dismissing a petition seeking transfer of the investigation in a case registered at Police Station in Chandigarh, to outside the jurisdiction of Chandigarh Police

    If a person appears in the friend list of a Facebook page of any public servant, it cannot be assumed that an official shall favour such a person in an illegal manner and maneuver investigation of a crime.... Sending of complaints by way of emails to the officials on their personal email IDs or having them as friends on social media do not give rise to any presumption of mala fide.", the Court observed.

    Other developments:

    Rajasthan High Court

    1. Married Person Living With Someone Else's Spouse An Immoral Act; Can't Give Seal Of Approval By Ordering Police Protection: Rajasthan High Court [Vakeela & Anr. v. State Of Rajasthan & Ors.]

    "The married persons living with somebody else's spouse would amount to committing an immoral act and a seal of approval cannot be given by this Court by directing the police to give them protection", remarked a Bench of Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma while dismissing a plea for police protection with cost of Rs.10,000/-

    Telangana High Court

    1. People Of India Are Still Victims Of Social Evils Like Casteism: Telangana High Court Denies Bail To Accused In An Honour Killing Case [Gudur Sandeep Reddy v. State of Telangana]

    While dismissing the bail plea filed by some accused in an honour killing case, a Bench of Justice K. Lakshman observed that the people of India are victims of social evils, like casteism and honour killings.

    "It is trite to note that the caste system, illiteracy and poverty etc. including 'honour killing' are social evils which India is facing even after 73 years of Independence. On one hand, there is unimaginable development in the field of Science and Technology. People are planning to stay in other Planets, like Moon etc. They are using technology in all fields. On the other hand, the very same people of India are victims of social evils, like casteism and honour killings", it said.

    The Bench highlighted the following points: (i) Honour Killing is a global phenomenon; (ii) There is no change in the attitude of young generation; (iii) Most of the honour killings focus on women and very few on men and, thus, lead to gender based violence.

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