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High Courts Weekly Roundup [Jan 4 – Jan 10]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
10 Jan 2021 2:53 PM GMT
High Courts Weekly Roundup [Jan 4 – Jan 10]
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Summation of important High Court orders this week

Allahabad High Court 1. Election Commission's Power To Allot Symbols Challenged Before Allahabad High Court: EC Directed To Respond Within 6 Weeks The High Court sought response of the Election Commission in a PIL challenging its power to allot election symbols, within a period of six weeks. The Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha was hearing a...

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Allahabad High Court

1. Election Commission's Power To Allot Symbols Challenged Before Allahabad High Court: EC Directed To Respond Within 6 Weeks

The High Court sought response of the Election Commission in a PIL challenging its power to allot election symbols, within a period of six weeks.

The Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha was hearing a plea challenging the validity of Paras-10, 10A and 10-B of the Symbol Order 1968 on several counts, inter alia, that these paras are in conflict with the provisions of Rule-10 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

2. Anticipatory Bail Matters Concern Liberty Of Citizens and Required to be Given Priority: Allahabad High Court Directs State To Ensure 'Proper Assistance' [Pawan Kumar Yadav And Anr. v. State Of U.P. And Anr]

While noting that the Anticipatory Bail matters are 'serious' in nature and are required to be taken up on priority, as they concern the liberty of citizens of the country, the Bench of Justice Vivek Chaudhary observed, "It is found in large number of cases, that the Investigating Officer/Circle Officer do not take them with the seriousness required, repeatedly time is sought for instructions/counter affidavit or placing the relevant record before the Court."

The Court noted that that despite repeated reminders being sent, no one had come for filing the counter affidavit. The Bench expressed its displeasure and said, "The present matter is one such glaring example, where FIR lodged for an offence of rape, the Medical report is necessarily required to be looked into, but is not being placed before this Court and thus the Court is not able to proceed."

3. Public Land In Uttar Pradesh Most Vulnerable To Encroachment, Authorities Not Discharging Their Functions In Timely Manner: Allahabad HC [Yash Pal Singh v. State Of U.P. & Ors.]

In a significant observation, the Allahabad High Court said that Public land in the State of U.P. is most vulnerable to encroachment and such encroachment "over such public land is not countenanced by the legislature."

Noting that the Uttar Pradesh Revenue Code, 2006, is the response of the legislature to deal with the endemic problem of encroachment over public lands, the Bench of Justice Ajay Bhanot further observed, "The purpose of legislative intent will be defeated in case the statutory authorities do not discharge their statutory functions in a timely manner."

In this case, the counsel for the petitioner (Yash Pal Singh) contended that the petitioner had intimated the competent authority about the encroachment of public land; however, the competent authority failed to discharge the statutory obligations under Section 67(2) of the Uttar Pradesh Revenue Code, 2006.

4. Nobody Can Interfere In Peaceful Life Of Two Adults Residing Together: Allahabad HC Provides Protection To Another Inter-Faith Couple [Shaista Parveen @ Sangeeta & Anr. v. State of UP & Ors.]

The Court came to rescue of another inter-faith couple, facing harassment at the hands of their families. A Single Bench of Justice Saral Srivastava reiterated that no one is entitled to disrupt the lives of two adults, who reside together willingly. "The Court has repeatedly held that where the two individuals having attained the age of majority, are living together, nobody is entitled to interfere in their peaceful life," observed the Bench.

In this case, a Hindu woman claimed that she decided to follow Muslim religion and as such, she willingly converted her religion. After conversion, the couple submitted, she solemnized marriage with her Muslim husband. They further claimed to be adults, living together out of their own freewill.

Also Read: Protection Plea-Woman Converts To Islam To Marry Muslim Man :Allahabad High Court Directs Man To Deposit Rs. 3 Lakh In Her Name

5. 'Individual Convict Can Seek Jail Transfer': Allahabad HC Dismisses Plea Seeking Transfer Of Women Convicts To Jails With Women Barracks [Marry Puncha (Sheeb Jose) v. State of UP & Ors.]

A Bench of Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal dismissed a plea seeking transfer of women convicts from Central Jail Naini, Prayagraj to District Jail Sonbhadra and District Jail Mirzapur as these Jails are now equipped with women barracks. At the outset, the Court, in its order, noted that the prayer made in the writ petition couldn't be said to be in public interest "because transfer of convict from one jail to another always remains on the request of the convict."

Noting that, a direction to transfer all women convicts from one jail to another cannot be given without their request to this effect, the Court said, "(Whenever) a convict has difficulty to remain in a particular jail, (he/she could) seek transfer to other jail after giving cogent reasons and in those circumstances, the State is competent to transfer a convict from one jail to another."

6. Expunging Remarks-While Hearing Appeal Sessions Judge Has No Jurisdiction To Judge The Judicial Officer Who Authored The Judgment: Allahabad High Court

A Bench of Justice Alok Mathur observed that 'sobriety, moderation and reserve are the greatest qualities of a judicial officer and he/she should never be divorced from them.' The Court was hearing an application filed by a Judicial Magistrate who has prayed before the Court to quash the remarks made against him by the Sessions Judge, Hardoi while setting aside his judgment in a Criminal Case No. 909/2019 [State v. Yamohan Singh].

The Sessions Judge, Hardoi while setting aside the trial Court's judgment (the applicant authored) has made certain comments and observations, aggrieved of which the applicant has approached the High Court praying to quash such remarks.

The High Court held that It is relevant to consider (a) whether the party whose conduct is in question is before the Court or has an opportunity of explaining or defending himself, (b) whether there is evidence on record bearing on that conduct justifying the remark, (c) whether it is necessary for decision of the case, as an integral part thereof, to advert on that conduct. It has also been recognised that judicial pronouncements must be judicial in nature, and should not normally depart from some petty moderation and reserve.

Other Developments:

Bombay High Court

1. Bombay HC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance Of Illegal Sale Of Nylon Threads In Festive Season Causing Severe Injuries To Humans And Birds [Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation]

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V. Ghuge and Justice Vibha Kankanwadi took suo moto cognizance on the illegal sale of nylon manjas on the festive seasons causing severe debilitating injuries to innumerable birds. While initiating the suo moto action, the Bench also referred to the opinion of an ornithologist, Mr. Deelip Bhagat who had stated that manja, which is nearly invisible to the naked eye, poses a perennial threat to birds during the festival. To this, the bench observed

"We find that a precious life of a woman in Nashik was snatched away on account of such nylon manja having slit her throat. So also, innumerable birds suffer debilitating injuries because of such nylon manja. In view of the above, we are treating these two news items as Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation." Furthermore, the bench observed that it is obvious from the news articles that the sale of nylon manjas are still taking place and none of the district collectors and municipal corporation authorities have taking directions of NGT seriously. The Court also issued directions in the matter.

Access full report for directions.

2. Bombay High Court Bans Propagation For Sales Of Item Claiming Miraculous or Supernatural Powers via Television Advertisement [Rajendra v. UOI & Ors.]

In an important ruling, the High Court (Aurangabad Bench) held that the sale of items, claiming that they possess miraculous or supernatural powers via television advertisement is illegal. The bench of Justice Tanaji Nalawade and Justice Mukund Sewlikar has also held that the TV channel, telecasting such advertisement, would be liable under the provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013.

The Petitioner, through his plea, stated that he came across advertisements on TV channels which were propagating that there were special, miraculous and supernatural properties/qualities in Hanuman Chalisa Yantra, which the advertiser was selling. It was further stated that this was a false propaganda and the propaganda was made to exploit the persons, who are superstitious by nature and to exploit them. The Court accordingly issued directions so that such broadcasting of advertisements is stopped immediately.

Access full report to read directions

3. Conviction In A Non-Compoundable Case Can't Be Set Aside By HC U/S482CrPC On The Ground Of Compromise Except In Rarest Of Rare Cases: Bombay HC (FB) [Saumaya Sanjay Khandare & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra]

In a significant judgment, a Full Bench of the Bombay High Court, [Nagpur Bench] held that the High Court while exercising the inherent powers under Sec. 482 CrPC cannot set aside the order of conviction of accused in a non-compoundable case merely on the ground that the accused and complainant had arrived at a compromise at a post-conviction stage.

However, the Bench comprising Justices N.B Suryawansh, Vinay Joshi and AS Chandrukar the same can be done only in the rarest of the rare cases depending upon the individual facts and circumstances of each case. The observation came in the wake of a reference made by a division bench of the High Court after a conflict of decisions was observed in three different judgments pronounced by the division bench of the High Court. The question of reference came into existence after a division bench of the High Court was of the view that exercise of power under Sec. 482 of CrPC for quashing and setting aside the conviction order must be rarely exercised and the power must be invoked in exceptional circumstances only.

4. Sushant's Face Revealed He Was Innocent & Sober, A Good Human Being, Says Bombay HC Judge

The Bombay High Court praised late actor Sushant Singh Rajput's work in the film "M S Dhoni: The Untold Story" and said that one could make out from the actor's face that he was a good human being.

The oral remarks were made Justice SS Shinde, who presided the division bench which reserved its verdict on a petition filed by Rajput's sisters - Priyanka Singh and Meetu Singh- seeking to quash an FIR for alleged forgery and fabrication of a medical prescription for their brother. "Whatever the case...from Sushant Singh Rajput's face one could make out that he was innocent and sober...and a good human being," Justice Shinde said.

5. Bombay High Court Refuses To Intervene In the Election Of Deputy Chairman of Maharashtra Legislative Council [Mr. Gopinath Kundalik Padalkar v. The State Of Maharashtra]

A Division Bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Milind N. Jadhav refused to intervene in the election (impugned election) of Dr. Neelam Divakar Gorhe as Deputy Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC). The matter arose by a writ petition filed on behalf of Member of Legislative Council, Mr. Gopichand Kundalik Padalkar challenging the motion passed by a majority in the MLC towards the election of Dr. Gorhe as Deputy Chairman on September 8th, 2020.

"Article 212 prohibits the Courts from inquiring into the proceedings of the State Legislature on the ground of any irregularity of procedure. These Articles are part of a Constitutional scheme of mutual deference by the High Court and the State Legislature regarding their internal functioning. For the High Court to exercise its power of judicial review in these matters, the case should be of such gravity that it transcends this scheme of mutual deference. No such case is established by the Petitioner," stated the Bench.

Other Developments:

Calcutta High Court

1. Ganga Sagar Mela 2021-Compared With Religious Practice, Beliefs & Faith, Life Is More Important In Every Sense: Calcutta High Court []

Directing the State Government to come out with clear suggestions as to how the Ganga Sagar Mela 2021 would be regulated, controlled or if necessary, even dropped for the current year, the High Court observed that "life is more important in every sense, in comparison to religious practice, beliefs and faith."

The Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee was hearing a PIL filed by one Ajay Kumar De related to the issues affecting health, safety and welfare matters in relation to Ganga Sagar Mela 2021 to be held soon.

The Court directed the State Government to have a report in the form of an affidavit placed on record through a Medical Officer at the highest level in the State Government service, clearly delineating the modalities of the preventive management of the situation if Ganga Sagar Mela is permitted to be held this year.

Also Read: Ganga Sagar Mela Amid COVID-Inform Pilgrims That For Their Own Good They Should Stay Away From The Ganges Water: Calcutta High Court

Other developments:

Delhi High Court

1. Failure Of Assessing Officer To Comply With Section 144C Of Income Tax Act Invalidates Assessment Order : Delhi High Court [The PR. Commissioner of Income Tax v. Headstrong India Pvt. Ltd.]

The Division Bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula held that the failure of the assessing officer to adhere to the "mandatory requirement" of Section 144C(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, will invalidate the final assessment order.

Section 144C(1), inserted in the Act by 2009 amendment, states that Assessing Officer should forward the draft of the proposed assessment order to the eligible assessee if any variation of the income or loss returned on or after October 1, 2009 is proposed to be made to the prejudice of the assessee. On receipt of such a draft, the assessee will have an opportunity to file objections within 30 days of its receipt.

The Bench held that the provision was a "mandatory requirement" and the failure to comply with it will invalidate the final assessment order.

2. Offence U/S 25 Of Arms Act Not Made Out In Cases Where Suspect Wasn't Conscious That He Is In Possession Of Live Ammunition: Delhi High Court [Adhiraj Singh Yadav v. State]

A single judge vacation bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru reiterated that "unconscious possession" of firearms "would not attract the rigours of the Arms Act," while hearing a criminal writ petition moved by an engineering student in whose bag were found 20 live cartridges.

The student sought quashing of the FIR lodged against him and all proceedings emanating therefrom on the ground that he was merely carrying a borrowed bag of his landlord and dear family friend, a Colonel, and wasn't aware or conscious of the contents in the "sleeves" thereof.

4. Delhi High Court Allows Adult Hindu Girl To Return With Parents Who Left Home With Muslim Man [Kewal Gupta v. State NCT of Delhi]

A division judge bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar allowed an adult Hindu girl, who had eloped from her home with her Muslim boyfriend, to return home - while granting her protection and on the condition that her parents would take full responsibility of her education.

The girl, who is a UPSC aspirant, stated she had not received due support from her parents to pursue her ambition. She had eloped from her home due to the lack of such support. In the hearing before the Court , after interacting with the girl privately, she was also made to interact on the Court's platform with her parents. After the private interaction, the court said that the girl had left from her home of her own accord due to a non-conducive environment for studying, she didn't wish to return there for the same reason. However, the girl changed her mind after her interaction with her parents in the court's presence, and said that she was ready to return provided they would support her education her. Her parents assured the Court that they would not scold or taunt her. Further, they have also ensured that they will not force her to marry any other person whom she would not like to marry otherwise.

5. Petitioner Appears To Be Suffering From 'Litigation Dependence Syndrome': Delhi High Court States Re-Litigation Amounts To Abuse Of Court Process [HC Ram Naresh v. Union of India & Ors.]

A Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon recently pulled up a Petitioner for raising the same set of facts and contentions before the Court again and again, by filing different petitions. The Petitioner appears to be suffering from Litigation Dependence Syndrome, it remarked.

It noted that the Petitioner's contentions had already been considered and settled in a previous order dated 8thDecember, 2020. According to the Court, the current appeal filed before them amounted to re-litigation "which has been held to be an abuse of the process of the Court."

The court ruled that the new petition had been filed by the petitioner in an attempt to delay the proceedings against him by the respondents.

6. SC/ST Reservations Can't Be Taken Away By Invoking Technicalities Forgetting The Hardships faced By Them In Accomplishing Literacy And Awareness: Delhi High Court [Lekhraj Meena v. Union of India & Ors.]

A Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon observed, "The very fact that members of the STs have been granted certain reservations/relaxations, not only legislatively but also constitutionally, shows the need therefor. The said need has to be fulfilled, not only by providing reservations/relaxations but also by providing relaxations in implementing the said reservations and benefits conferred on the STs. The reasons and objective of providing such reservations/relaxations should not be lost sight of while implementing the reservations and relaxations."

In the case at hand, the petitioner contended that though he had applied for the SSC examination under the SC category and had passed the examination with flying colours, he was unable to qualify the Physical Efficiency Test (PET) conducted in Delhi, for the reason that he had not filled up the form of certificate for height relaxation. He was further granted 5 days' time by the Presiding Officer to submit the form, but he was unable to do so due to the ongoing farmers protests. The Presiding Officer refused to accept the form after 5 days.

The Court directed the concerned authorities to consider the Petitioner's application along with height relaxation certificate. The Bench further emphasized that the authorities should not take technical objections while considering candidatures filed by people belonging to these communities

7. 'Matter Of Public Importance Concerning Entire Scientific Community' : Delhi HC Refuses To Restrain LibGen Publications

The Delhi High Court re-issued notice to Libgen on a copyright infringement plea by publishers Elsevier Ltd, Wiley India Pvt Ltd, and American Chemical Society, even as Sci-Hub undertook to restrain from publishing any articles from the publishers' journals on its website until the next date of hearing.

While SciHub voluntarily made the undertaking, LibGen went unrepresented today as well. The Single Judge Bench of Justice Midha, however, refused to grant any relief to the publishers against LibGen, stating that as the matter was of public importance and would affect the scientific community at large, no order could be passed restraining Libgen at this stage.

8. S.18 of SC/ST Act-Unless The 'Offender's Action Is Impelled By The Consideration That The Victim Is A Member Of 'SC or ST', Bar For Anticipatory Bail Won't Apply [Danish Khan v. State (GNCTD)]

In a significant judgment, a Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani, while granting anticipatory bail to an accused charged under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 held that the anticipatory bail application under Sec. 438 of CrPC can only be barred under Sec. 18 of the SC ST Act where the accused commits an offence particularly for the reason that the victim is a member of SC or ST community. The Court granted anticipatory bail to the accused charged for raping the victim with a false promise of marrying her along with Sec. 3(2)(v) of the SC ST Act, 1989.

In this case, FIR was registered against the accused under Sec. 354D, 376 and 506 of IPC along with Sec. 3(2) (v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 based on the statements recorded under Sec. 164 of CrPC. The primary allegation against the accused was that he had committed rape on the prosecutrix on a false pretext of marriage also accusing him of committing the offences of stalking and criminal intimidation.

9. Delhi High Court Directs BCI To Issue SOP For Physical Conduct of AIBE 2021 [Purav Middha v. Bar Council of India]

Disposing off a plea by Adv. Purav Middha for the conduct of the All India Bar Examination, 2021 through the online mode, the Delhi High Court ordered Bar Council of India (BCI) to issue the Standard Operating Procedure for physical conduct of the All India Bar Exam (AIBE) on January 24, 2021, amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Developments:

Himachal Pradesh High Court

1. "He Has Become Drug Addict & Needs To Be Rehabilitated To Bring Him To Mainstream": HP High Court Grants Bail To Man [Gaurav Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh]

While noting that the bail petitioner before the Court has become a drug addict and as such, he is required to be taken to some rehabilitation centre, so that efforts are made for bringing the bail petitioner to the main stream, the High Court granted Bail to a man accused under NDPS Act.

The Bench of Justice Sandeep Sharma was hearing the regular bail plea of one Gaurav Kumar who was charged Sections 21, 29-61-85 of the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Jammu and Kashmir High Court

1. Keeping Accused In Custody As Offences Alleged To Be Committed Are 'Serious' Would Amount To Inflicting Pre-Trial Punishment: Jammu & Kashmir HC [Suraj Kumar v. UT of J&K]

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court made it clear that an accused cannot be kept in custody merely for the reason that the offence alleged to have committed by him is of serious nature. "Allowing the petitioner to remain in custody because of the reason that the offences alleged to have been committed by him are serious in nature, would amount to inflicting pre-trial punishment upon him," the Single Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar said while allowing the bail application of one such accused.

In the case at hand, the Petitioner-accused Suraj Kumar was booked under Sections 8/20 of NDPS Act, allegedly for being in possession of 500 gm contraband. The Trial Court had rejected his bail plea on the ground that the offence alleged to have been committed him is serious in nature and affects the society in general and the young generation. Stating that the Trail Court ought to have adopted a balanced approach in this case, the Single Judge remarked, "The discretion regarding grant or refusal of bail cannot be exercised against the petitioner on the basis of public sentiments or to teach him a lesson as his guilt is yet to be proved."

2. Even If Prosecutrix Is Quite Friendly With A Man, He Doesn't Get License To Establish Sexual Relations Without Her Consent: J&K High Court [Aman Sagotra v. UT of J&K]

Noting that even if prosecutrix was quite friendly with the petitioner for a long time, yet the same does not give a license to the petitioner/accused to have sexual relations with her, without her consent, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court recently denied the benefit of regular bail to petitioner for offence under Section 376 IPC. The Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar also observed that cases relating to grant of bail in offence of rape are required to be approached differently as releasing of the accused on bail in such cases by adopting a liberal approach would be against the interests of the society.

The prosecutrix, in this case, had lodged a complaint with Judicial Magistrate, Hiranagar alleging that while she was studying in 10th class, she developed acquaintance with the petitioner-accused, whereafter, he developed illicit relations with her against her will and also promised that he will marry her at an appropriate time. The compliant also stated that the petitioner-accused had sexual relation with the complainant and he would threaten her with dire consequences in case she disclosed anything about this relationship to anybody.

Karnataka High Court

1. 'Has Trappings of Ministers' Office': Karnataka High Court Declares Parliamentary Secretaries Act As Unconstitutional [MB Adinarayana v. State of Karnataka]

A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice SR Krishna Kumar struck down the Karnataka Parliamentary Secretaries Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1963 (as amended in the year 1999) and they declared it ultra vires the Constitution of India. The Court held that the State Legislature of Karnataka had no legislative competence to enact the said legislation.

The Bench further observed that the impugned Act did not deal with the powers, privileges and immunities of the members of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council and the committees of the said Houses. Rather, it was a ploy to delegate the functions and duties in respect of the Legislative matters to the Parliamentary Secretary attached to him.

The Petitioners in this case had contended that the State Legislature lacked the legislative competence to make the said Act. It was argued that Entry-39 of list-II of Schedule VII of the Constitution does not empower the State Legislature to frame a Legislation dealing with the powers and privileges of the members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council

2. Internet Intermediary Not Liable For Actions Of Vendors On Online Marketplace : Karnataka High Court Quashes Case Against Snapdeal [Kunal Bahl v. State of Karnataka]

A single bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj ruled that an intermediary as defined under the Information Technology Act or its directors/officers would not be liable for any action or inaction on part of a vendor/seller making use of the facilities provided by the intermediary in terms of a website or a marketplace.

The court while quashing a complaint against online market place Snapdeal and its directors Kunal Bahl and Rohit Kumar Bansal also held: "An intermediary would not be responsible and/or liable for sale of any item not complying with the requirements under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1949 on its platform, since the essential ingredients of Section 18 (1)(c) of the Act, not having been fulfilled."

3. SC/ST Commission Not Empowered To Adjudicate Disputes Between Individuals: Karnataka High Court []

The High Court held that the Karnataka State Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission, is not empowered to adjudicate and decide disputes between parties and pronounce its orders either interim or final. A single bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna said "Sections 8 and 10 of the Karnataka State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 2002, makes it abundantly clear that the Commission is not empowered to adjudicate upon the rights of parties."

"The power vested with the Commission of Inquiry and submission of a report cannot be extended to adjudicate all disputes between individuals and a State or a statutory authority. The powers conferred do not contemplate that the Commission can examine matters like a civil Court and adjudicate disputes and pronounce its decision either interim or final or issue a direction of the kind that is issued in the case on hand," stated the Court.

4. If Women Organizations Complain About Illegal Sale of Liquor, All The More Necessary For State To Act Expeditiously: Karnataka High Court

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty held that if an organization of women makes a complaint about illegal sale of liquor, the State Government and its officers will have to act very expeditiously, considering the rights of women. In its order dated December 1, 2020, the Court noted, "It is the duty of the State Government to ensure that if liquor is being illegally sold, on a complaint received in that behalf, immediate action is taken for preventing illegal sale of liquor. If an organization of women makes such a complaint, it is all the more necessary for the State Government and its Officer to act very expeditiously considering the rights of women."

Sudha Katwa, the petitioner, had primarily sought a direction to constitute a committee of experts to recommend steps to implement Article 47 of the Directive Principles of the Constitution. Further, she had prayed for issuing a direction to form Nigrani Samitis of Women with legal rights to stop illegal sales in each village. A direction to the State to empower Gram Sabha Resolution to close down even the Licensed Shops even if 10% of People vote for this. Also direct the Government to form Committees like "Village Nigrani Committees" and other committees with some legal backing and support of Karnataka Legal Services Authority.

5. Karnataka High Court Directs Air Force To State Measures Taken To Prevent Fire Mishap During 'Aeroshow'

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, while hearing a PIL filed by Retired Wing Commander G B Athri and Geetha Misra, directed that a responsible officer of the Indian Air Force should file an affidavit in court stating the measures which it will be taking to ensure that a fire mishap which occurred in the year 2019, during the Aeroindia event at Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bengaluru is not repeated while holding the event this year. The event is scheduled to be held between February 3 to 5. The Bench remarked, "The Air force in coordination with the authorities of the state government will have to take all precautionary measures to ensure such an incident is not repeated."

The PIL had sought a one-man judicial commission probe into the fire incident that destroyed about 300 cars at the Yelahanka Airbase, during the International Air Show, held in February, 2019.

Other Developments:

Kerala High Court

1. Walayar Rape-Death Cases : Kerala High Court Sets Aside Trial Court Judgment Acquitting Accused; Orders Re-Trial [State of Kerala v. Madhu @ Kutti Madhu]

The High Court ordered re-trial in the case relating to the rape-death of two minor girls of Dalit community in Walayar, Palakkad district. Allowing the appeals of the State Government, a division bench comprising Justices A Hariprasad and MR Anita set aside the acquittal of the accused. The accused have been asked to surrender before the trial court on January 20. The HC has also given liberty to the prosecution to seek further investigation in the case. One of the four accused, Pradeep Kumar, had died last year in a suspected suicide. Valiya Madhu, Kutty Madhu and Shibu are the remaining three accused.

While commenting on lapses in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication, the Court commented, "...we are fully convinced that the perfunctory initial investigation and cursory, desultory and unskilled prosecution coupled with the lack of involvement by the trial Judge resulted in miscarriage of justice and the consequential unmerited acquittals in all these cases. Certainly, the fact situations in these cases reveal extraordinary circumstances requiring extraordinary remedies. Therefore, we have no hesitation to hold that trial in all the above Sessions Cases have been lowered to the level of mock trials.

2. 'Individual Rights Should Subserve The National Interest': Kerala High Court Cancels Bail Granted To Journalism Student In UAPA Case [Union Of India v. Thwaha Fasal]

The High Court, while setting aside the order passed by Special NIA Court Kochi granting bail to Thwaha Fasal in a UAPA case for alleged Maoist links, observed that individual rights should subserve the national interest.

The Division Bench comprising Justices A. Hariprasad and K. Haripal observed that when individual rights are pitted against national interest and security, the latter should prevail. The court observed that the documents seized from the accused carry the seeds of a secessionist ideology.

3. Publication Of Court Order No Violation Of Right To Privacy : Indian Kanoon Opposes Plea In Kerala HC To Remove Personal Details From Reported Judgment

"Law allows the publication of matters which are "public records", including court records and orders of courts/tribunals," said legal search engine Indian Kanoon in a counter-affidavit filed before the Kerala High Court in response to a writ petition seeking removal of the name/ personal details of the Petitioner. The website has contended that once a case becomes public record, the Right to Privacy no longer subsists and it becomes legitimate subject for relevant stakeholders to review the same.

To provide context, in October last year, the Kerala High Court had admitted a plea seeking removal of the name/ personal details of the Petitioner, who was once an accused in a criminal case.

4. 'To Err Is Human. Society Must Reform A Person Who Commits A Small Theft': Kerala High Court Quotes Poet Ayyappa Panicker [Abdul Rahoof v. State of Kerala]

If a person commits a small theft, society must reform him, remarked Justice PV Kunhikrishnan while acquitting a person convicted in a criminal case. The prosecution case against Abdul Rahoof was that he stabbed on the abdomen of one Sakkeer with a dagger, and thereafter he also stabbed on the groin of the defacto complainant, namely Jaffer with the same weapon due to the previous enmity in connection with the theft of one motor, belongs to one Bava Haji. On the other hand, the accused said he wanted to remove the label of the thief from his name and for that purpose he had went there.

Justice Kunhikrishnan began his judgment by quoting the line from the poem 'Moshanam' of the famous poet Ayyappa Panicker – "Just because I have stolen a few things, why should you call me a thief? The judge also quoted another poem which when translated reads like this: "Whenever one steals something good, you people raise a clamour - for nothing and dub him a thief, a thief! It is the fault of your laws, Change you then your laws, I say, lest your laws should change you." He further stated, "The criminal justice delivery system can attain its ultimate aim only with the help of society. To err is human. If a person commits some small mistakes, Section 360 Cr.P.C and Section 3 of the Probation of offenders Act will protect that person. But society should also protect him by not treating him as a criminal or thief"

5. UAPA - Investigating Agency Not Place Of Occurrence Matters To Determine Sanctioning Authority Under Section 45: Kerala High Court [T.I. Madhusoodanan and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors.]

The place of occurrence will not matter for determining the sanctioning authority under Section 45 of the Unlawful Activities(Prevention) Act(UAPA), held the Kerala High Court while dismissing the appeals of senior CPI(M) leader P Jayarajan and other accused in the Kathiroor Manoj murder case. A division bench of Chief Justices S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly held that what matters for determining the sanctioning authority is the question who controls the investigating agency.

The division bench was hearing an appeal against a single bench verdict passed on March 15, 2018, which refused to interfere with the order taking cognizance. The appellants - all CPI(M) members- were challenging the order of Sessions Court, Thalassery, taking cognizance of offences under Sections 16-A read with 15(1)(a)(i) and 19 of the UAPA in respect of the murder of an RSS office bearer named Elamthottathil Manoj (Kathrioor Manoj) in 2014. The UAPA offences invoked against the appellants related to 'terrorist acts'.

6. CAT 2020 Re-Test Can't Be Ordered Merely Because Petitioner Missed It Due To COVID19: Kerala High Court [Susruth K. v. Union of India & Ors]

A Single Judge Bench of the Kerala High Court comprising of Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar refused to grant relief to a candidate who could not appear for the Common Admission Test 2020 after being positive for Covid-19. The exam was scheduled to take place on 29.11.2020 however, the petitioner was found positive two days before the date of examination.

As the petitioner could not appear for the respective examination, a petition was filed in the Kerala HC seeking directions on the Union of India, State of Kerala and Directors of IIMs to schedule a retest of the exam for the candidates who could not appear for the examination due to Covid-19 pandemic.

7. Life Convict In Kevin Murder Case Tortured In Prison; Kerala High Court Makes Urgent Intervention

A division bench comprising Justices K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha made an urgent intervention on a plea moved by the parents of Tittu Jerome, a life convict in the Kevin murder case, stating that their son was being subjected to brutal torture at the Poojappura Central Prison. Jerome Kochukutty and Valsamma, parents of Tittu Jerome, filed a habeas corpus petition in the High Court today saying that the prison officials were not allowing them to meet their son, who was being kept in an isolated cell following brutal manhandling.

The Court gave a direction to the District Judge and District Medical Officer of Thiruvananthapuram to urgently visit the prison and report about the condition of Tittu today itself, by 4 PM. The Judge reported that Tittu told him that he was beaten on the back of his chest and that he showed one cane mark on his left foot and three cane marks on the right foot.

The bench took serious note of the developments and ordered that prison officials should be kept away from the security duty of Tittu Jerome at hospital and that he should be supervised only by the local police.

Other Developments:

Madhya Pradesh High Court

1. Notaries/Oath Commissioners Not Authorised To Execute Marriage/Divorce Documents: MP High Court Calls For Strict Guidelines [Mukesh S/o. Mr Lakshman @ Lakshminarayan. v. State of M.P]

Coming down heavily on Notaries/ Oath Commissioners who are involving themselves in executing the document in respect of the marriage, divorce, etc, the Madhya Pradesh High Court called for strict guidelines, "to be issued to the Notaries and oath commissioners for not executing such type of deed, failing which their license would be terminated."

A Bench of Justice Vivek Rusia observed, "The job of the Notary is defined under the Notary Act. He is not supposed to perform the marriage by executing documents… Neither the Notary is authorized to perform the marriage nor competent to execute the divorce deed." The Court was hearing regular bail plea filed by the applicant – Mukesh, who was arrested for the offences punishable under Section 420, 467 and 468/34 of the IPC.

2. S.195 CrPC Doesn't Bar Registration Of FIR For An Offence Under S. 188 IPC By Police: Madhya Pradesh High Court [Zaid Pathan & Ors. v. State of M.P]

The High Court held that there is no bar under Section 195 of the Cr.P.C. in respect of registration of FIR, therefore, FIR for an offence under Section 188 of the IPC could be very well registered by the Police.

Holding thus, the bench of Justice Prakash Shrivastava refused to quash an FIR registered against 10 petitioners-accused who had allegedly staged a demonstration against CAA and NRC. Allegedly, they staged a demonstration without giving any intimation or taking prior permission from the competent authority, whereas the District Magistrate in order to maintain peace and tranquillity had issued an order prohibiting any demonstration, procession, public meeting etc. in any place without permission.

Also Read: Plea For Filling Up Of Vacancies & Sanctioned Strength of HC Cannot Be Taken On Judicial Side: Madhya Pradesh HC Disposes PIL

Madras High Court

1. 'This Matter Has To Get Precedence' Madras HC Orders For A Comprehensive Roadmap For Clearing Pending Criminal Cases Against MPs And MLAs [Suo Moto W.P.]

A division bench of Madras High Court comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed that a comprehensive road map must be made considering the "litigative resourcefulness" of the legislators against whom cases are pending in the trial courts and High Court to ensure that the cases are disposed of at the earliest.

The bench was hearing a petition wherein the Court had taken suo moto cognizance for monitoring the progress of pending criminal cases against state MPs and MLAs in the trial courts and High Court for ensuring full compliance of the directions of the Apex Court in as provided in Ashiwini Kumar Upadhyay & Ors. v. Union of India (2020).

2. Waterbodies Lifeline For All Animal Species, Ensure Zero Tolerance Towards Their Encroachment: Madras High Court

Underlining that "waterbodies are the lifeline for all animal species", the Madras High Court observed that there has to be a zero tolerance for any kind of encroachment at or endangerment of any waterbody.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed thus in a matter wherein a plea was filed before it, alleging encroachment by local residents in two parts of a waterbody at Ithalar Village in the Nilgiris District.

3. COVID New Strain: Madras HC Asks Centre To Take Concerns Raised In Plea Seriously & Issue Measures To Contain Its Spread

While entertaining a plea containing "certain genuine concerns" pertaining to the new COVID Virus Strain originally detected in the United Kingdom, the Madras High Court on Wednesday (06th January) said, "It is imperative that the Union takes the concerns indicated in the petition seriously and obtains expert advice to issue immediate measures to ensure that the further spread may be averted."

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy has directed the Union to indicate before the Court what measures may have been put in place by 18th January 2021.

Other Development:

Orissa High Court

1. 'Case Proceeded At A Snail's Pace': Orissa High Court Acquits Man Of Corruption Charges After 31 Years [Sridhar Swain v. State of Odisha]

The High Court allowed a 31 years old criminal appeal and acquitted a man accused of corruption. "It is said that slow and steady wins the race, but when the world is changing very fast, if one does not take pace then the fast would beat the slow. This case is a glaring example to show as to how the true import of the legal maxim 'justice delayed is justice denied' has yet not been appreciated properly. Delayed justice is the deadliest form of denial of justice," a single bench of Justice SK Sahoo observed while disposing of the appeal filed in the year 1989.

Maheshwar Behera (Appellant no. 2) had been accused of abetting Sridhar Swain (Appellant no. 1) in committing the offence of corruption while executing repair works for the Rourkela Municipal Corporation. Justice Sahoo commented that the case had proceeded at a "snail's pace" as the FIR was registered against the appellant on 5th January, 1989 and the final order in this case was passed on Monday, 4thJanuary, 2021.

Also Read: Having Been Caught Red Handed, Victim Tried To Blame Appellant: Orissa HC Acquits Man Of Attempt To Rape Charge After 30 Yrs

2. Orissa High Court To Hear Plea Against Amended S. 166 of MV Act, Restricting Period For Filing Claims Petitions [Ananga Komar Otta v. Union of India and Ors.]

The Orissa High Court issued notice to the Central Government on a petition challenging the 2019 amendment introduced to Section 166(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, restricting the period of filing of application for compensation after the occurrence of an accident. A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Dr. BR Sarangi asked the Union of India to file its reply in the matter within eight weeks with liberty to the Petitioner to file a rejoinder affidavit thereto, if any, by the next date of hearing, i.e. 3rd May, 2021.

The PIL has been filed by Advocate Ananga Kumar Otta, stating that the amendment was made sans considering the plights of the victims, who might have been precluded from filing the claim petition on account of ongoing injuries/ sufferings/ coma state for more than six months.

Punjab and Haryana High Court

1. Names Of Persons Declared As Absconding Accused Can Be Published In Social Media: Punjab & Haryana High Court []

The Punjab & Haryana High Court observed that there is no harm in the publishing of the names of persons declared as absconding accused (as are statutory allowed to be published vide Punjab Police Rules, 1934), in the social media.

The Bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh observed thus while perusing the relevant provisions of the Punjab Police Rules, with regard to the measures that can be taken by the police to try and apprehend persons who are absconding (whether by way of any declaration by the court or by way of warrants etc. having been issued but with them not having been traced despite such warrants issued). The Court also noted that absconders/persons who are not being arrested despite warrants for their arrest having been issued, naturally the statutory provisions of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934 would be adhered to by the two States and the U.T., Chandigarh.

2. Allegation On Reliance Jio Telecom Infrastructure Damage Amid farmers Protest- Punjab And Haryana High Court Issues Notice To State And Centre

A Single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Sudhir Mittal issued notice of motion in a plea filed by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd., seeking urgent intervention of State Government as well as the Centre in order to stop the illegal acts of "vandalism by miscreants" as alleged by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., had approached the High Court seeking action against people who were damaging the telecom infrastructure of the company after its telecom services were distorted in the wake of farmers protest against the three farm bills. The "miscreants" had disconnected the power supplies and damaged other technical fibre cables of Jio towers.

3. Punjab & Haryana High Court Dismisses Election Petition Filed In 2002 Against Captain Amarinder Singh [Harkirat Singh v. Amarinder Singh]

Justice Daya Chaudhary dismissed an election petition challenging the election of Captain Amarinder Singh to the Punjab Legislative Assembly held in the year 2002.

Harkirat Singh, had filed election petition in 2002 itself, alleging that Singh had indulged in 'corrupt' practices and has projected himself as "Maharaja of Patiala" in the posters issued/published by him just to influence the voters. Singh had then won the election from Patiala Town Assembly Constituency. The election petition was dismissed by the Court in 2004 on the ground that the petitioner failed to disclose the material facts regarding corrupt practices to constitute a complete cause of action. In appeal, the Supreme Court had set aside the dismissal order and had remitted the case back for deciding the same on merits.

4. Compassionate Empathy Should Be A Trait Of Public Servants; They Are Engaged For Public Service & Not To Rule Over Them: P&H High Court [Devender Kumar v. State of Haryana & Ors.]

"Compassionate empathy should be one of the traits/qualities of everyone manning a public office. The Constitution of India emphasizes that the public servants and other persons working in such offices are required to treat everyone equally irrespective of his caste, creed, religion or economic condition", the Bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal observed while setting aside the order of the Municipal Committee and affirmed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mewat at Nuh, sealing the property/building, possessed by the Petitioner.

5. Punjab and Haryana High Court Directs Lok Adalats To Pass Awards In Compliance With Regulation 17 Of NALSA Regulations [Robin Gupta v. M/s Stratford Educational Management Pvt. Ltd. & Ors.]

While stating that "during long experience as a member of judiciary, I have not come across even a single case where the Lok Adalat has passed an award in compliance of provisions of Regulation 17 and specimen annexed thereto", Justice Rekha Mittal recently directed, "The Lok Adalats in the States of Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh are directed to pass the award in compliance with the provisions of Regulation 17 of the Regulations."

The Bench was hearing a petition filed challenging order of the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Panchkula whereby an execution application filed by the petitioner was dismissed by the Lok Adalat.

Other developments:

Sikkim High Court

1. Possibility Of A Relationship Gone Sour Cannot Be Ruled Out : Sikkim High Court Acquits Rape Accused [Makraj Limboo v. State of Sikkim]

The possibility of a relationship gone sour cannot be ruled out, Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan observed while acquitting a man accused of raping a woman on the pretext of promise of marriage.

On 10.01.2018, the victim lodged an FIR alleging that she was raped by the accused (Makraj Limboo) on 17.08.2013, due to which she became pregnant and had to abort the baby on his advice. It was further alleged that he raped her again thereafter. The Trial Court convicted him under section 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to undergo seven years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.50,000. The Bench noted that there is an inordinate delay of five years in lodging the FIR and therefore it is equally important to seek corroboration of what she deposed in court. Further, the court said that there is a serious discrepancy in the FIR and the statement recorded under section 164 Cr.P.C on the one side and the deposition on the other.

Telangana High Court

1. SC-ST Act- Not Necessary That Accused Has To Be Straightaway Arrested On Mere Registration Of Crime: Telangana High Court []

It cannot be said that merely because crime is reported under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, straightaway accused has to be arrested, observed Justice P. Naveen Rao, while refusing to direct the police to arrest an MLA who allegedly threatened a journalist.

Guguloth Santosh Naik, a journalist in Vaartha Telugu vernacular daily, had reported that the member of Legislative Assembly representing Patancheru Assembly constituency, and his henchmen grabbed prime lands, adjacent to main roads. He alleged that, infuriated with said report, the MLA telephoned the petitioner and threatened him with dire consequences, abused him and his parents using filthy language and in the name of his caste in an uncivilized manner and directed him to appear before him. This made him file a complaint based on which a crime was registered against the MLA on 08.12.2020 under Sections 448, 504, 506 read with Section 109 IPC and Section 3(2) (va) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

2. Individual Can't Decide How Law Enforcement Agency Should Act & When To Invoke Powers Under Preventive Detention Law: Telangana HC [Muchannapally Rajaiah v. The State of Telangana]

In an important ruling, Justice P. Naveen Rao held that it is not for the individual citizen to assess how the law enforcing agency should act but it is for that agency to come to subjective satisfaction of the need to resort to preventive detention. The Bench also observed that the Court can't mandate the authority to do a particular act, in a particular manner just because the petitioner thinks that such course has to be adopted.

Petitioner (a Worker in Bibipet Gram Panchayat) filed a Plea alleging that respondents 4 and 5 harassed and abused him by using filthy language and on the caste name, detained and confined him in Gram Panchayat Office by locking the doors of Gram Panchayat Office for about 3½ hours. He alleged that they were habitual offenders. In the plea, he complained that the law enforcing agency failed to invoke the powers under the Act 1 of 1986 [A. P. Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Boot Leggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabbers Act, 1986'], and sought writ of mandamus to compel them to invoke the said powers against respondents 4 and 5.

Tripura High Court

1. Medical Negligence- Tripura High Court Orders Govt. To Pay Rs.10 Lakhs Compensation To Mother Of Deceased Lawyer

A division bench of Tripura High Court consisting of Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice SG Chattopadhyay on Monday ordered the State of Tripura to pay a compensation of Rs. 10,00,000 in a case of death of an advocate namely Bhaskar Debroy after it was found that the he died due to medical negligence of GBP hospital.

The Court furthermore analyzed the facts of the case and held that it was a crystal clear case of res ipsa loquitur, a maxim of used in the field of medical negligence. The Court therefore ordered the award of compensation of Rs. 10,00,000 to the mother of the deceased and issued directions for the same.

Access full report for directions

Uttarakhand High Court

1. Uttarakhand High Court Takes Suo Motu Cognizance Of De-notification Of Shivalik Elephant Reserve

The High Court took suo motu cognizance of denotification of the Shivalik Elephant Reserve, the only elephant reserve in the State, for the purpose of developmental activities. A Division Bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Alok Kumar Verma issued notices to the Central and the State Government, and fixed the matter for hearing on 22nd February, 2021.

The development comes after several Delhi-based lawyers wrote to the Chief Justice, urging him to take appropriate action in the interest of natural environment and conservation of wildlife. The next date of hearing is 22nd February, 2021.

2. Place Of Worship Act: Uttarakhand High Court Dismisses Appeal Against Refusal To Stay Construction Of Crematoria Over Ancient Pilgrimage [Rajmata Jiya Katyuri Samaj v. State of Uttarakhand & others]

The Division Bench in appeal comprising of Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Alok Kumar Verma recently dismissed an appeal challenging an order denying interim relief against construction of a crematoria over alleged land of ancient temple pilgrimage.

The Appellant in this case had stated that construction of a Crematoria on an ancient pilgrimage, which is a site of worship for the appellant, is being done without any authority of law and is "in blatant disregard of the Constitutional Rights as also in ignorance of bar of Section 3 of The Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991." The matter was earlier placed before a Single Judge of the Court who had dismissed the plea for interim relief. Aggrieved by this decision, an appeal was filed before this Division Bench.

The Division Bench, however did not find substance in any of the contentions and it held that the Single Judge was justified in rejecting the plea for interim relief.

3. State Information Commission Has No Power To Direct Removal Of Encroachment Under RTI ACT: Uttarakhand High Court [Manju Agarwal v. State of Uttarakhand & Ors.]

Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari, observed that the State Information Commission has got no power to direct for the removal of encroachment under the Right To Information Act, 2005. The Bench, in its order, observed that giving a direction for removal of encroachment is beyond the scope of the State Information Commission's powers under Right to Information Act.

The Bench was hearing the plea of one Manju Agarwal, who challenged the order dated 08th August 2016 passed by State Information Commission directing Nagar Palika Parishad, Kotdwar to take necessary action with the help of local administration to remove an encroachment.

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