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High Courts Weekly Round Up

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
26 April 2020 7:03 AM GMT
High Courts Weekly Round Up
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Allahabad High Court

  • Released an Iranian student on bail in connection to a criminal case for overstaying his visa while recalling that "Bail is rule and jail is exception".
  • Passed detailed directions for providing financial assistance to needy advocates affected by COVID-19 and Lockdown and constituted a Monitoring Committee consisting of various office bearers of the HCBA to oversee the same. In a direction issued subsequently, it clarified that the identity of beneficiary Advocates will remain confidential and all transactions made by the HCBA will be audited. The court also recognized the vital role played by Advocates' Clerks in Court Management and thus requested govt. to examine the viability of framing welfare legislation for them.

Bombay High Court

  • Refused to entertain a writ petition filed by a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party seeking a writ of certiorari to be passed quashing the April 9 decision of the state council of ministers to recommend Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's name for nomination as Member of Legislative of Council to the Governor. The court observed, "Court's interference at this stage is not at all required since any such interference at this stage would amount to preventing the Governor from taking any independent decision. The reliefs sought in the Writ petition therefore appear to be premature. The Petitioner at this stage is not entitled to any urgent reliefs."
  • Bench at Nagpur sought a reply from the Maharashtra government to a petition challenging a circular issued by the State prohibiting door- to-door distribution of newspapers in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Dismissed a plea filed by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) seeking a five year ban on Deloitte and KPMG's arm BSR Associates, for alleged violation of accounting standards while working for the debt ridden IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN). The order was passed on account of "non-application of mind" by the MCA before issuing directions to lodge prosecution against the auditors.
  • Bench at Aurangabad took suo-motu cognizance of newspaper reports regarding a government notification whereby print media was exempted from lockdown but the door-to-door delivery of magazines and newspapers was prohibited.
  • Sought a response from the state and the central government in a batch of PILs contending that hospitals in the city are turning away non-covid19 patients.
  • Directed the High Power Committee in the state to decide whether the distinction made between prisoners/ undertrials accused under IPC and those under special enactments like MPID, MCOCA, NDPS, PMLA, UAPA etc for release on parole due to the pandemic of Covid-19, is discriminatory. The direction was made in a letter petition highlighting the fact that the Supreme Court's order dated March 23 does not make any such discrimination between the two categories of prisoners/ undertrials.

Calcutta High Court

  • Declared that a member of a family whose land has been acquired with an assurance of providing an employment over and above the financial compensation, cannot be denied any employment in the organisation on the ground of his suffering from colour blindness.

Delhi High Court

  • Directed the Central Government, Delhi Government, National Commission for Women, Delhi Commission for Women, and other concerned authorities to convene a meeting at the highest level to look into the issue of protection of women from domestic violence during the lockdown period.
  • Held that lockdown is "prima facie in the nature of a force majeure" and passed an interim order restraining the invocation of bank guarantees.
  • Ordered that parents can approach the Directorate of Education if they are aggrieved by any school charging consolidated fees during the lockdown period. The court also however noted that charging of tuition fee is justified as the same is utilised in paying salaries to the teaching staff and organising online classes.
  • Granted interim suspension of sentence to a 72 years old man convicted and sentenced for 10 years of imprisonment for committing sexual assault on a minor, while taking into consideration his medical vulnerability. While doing so, the High Court imposed a bizarre condition that the convict will make a video-call to the Investigating Officer every Friday, and will also 'drop-a-pin' on Google maps, so that the IO/SHO can verify his location.
  • Clarified that mere ownership or even registration of a mark does not lead to any presumption of the mark having a reputation and goodwill, in a plea for permanent injunction.
  • Directed the Delhi Govt to ensure a helpline number for assisting pregnant women during lockdown.
  • Issued notice in an application highlighting the possible danger of using the centralised air conditioning system at the time of a virus pandemic.
  • Restrained YES Bank from declaring a loan account as a 'Non Performing Asset' for non-payment of installment due to unprecedented circumstances brought about by COVID19 pandemic.

Gujarat High Court

  • Declined the bail plea of a mother seeking temporary bail to attend to her children lodged in shelter homes, until the threat of pandemic subsides. The court observed that the authority concerned had taken adequate steps for their protection and hence there was no "good reason" to allow the bail plea.
  • Struck down Section 84A of the Gujarat Value Added Tax Act holding it as unconstitutional for being violative of the Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. The bench said that if unlimited time period is available to the Revenue for assessment/re- assessment/revision in any case based on a decision rendered in the case of any other dealer the same would lead to an irreparable situation.
  • Noted that a 2018 state resolution continues to entitle Non-NFSA APL-1 families to free ration and grocery on the basis of 13 documentary proofs of identification, and thus disposed of a PIL praying that the April 11 Notification of the Food and Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Department, placing a mandatory requirement of producing Aadhaar Card for the purpose of availing free distribution, be set aside.

Jammu & Kashmir High Court

  • Reserved its order on the issue of opening 'Darbar Move' during the impending threat of COVID-19 pandemic, after taking into account the financial and administrative constraints, the risk of spreading the infection further and the need for effecting the Move during the present era of digitization.
  • Asked the UT administration to file its reply in a plea for quashing of FIR registered against journalist Gowhar Geelani, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA).

Jharkhand High Court

  • Took note of the assurances given by the state government and disposed of a PIL seeking "safe management and disposal" of Covid infected dead bodies by directing the state government to implement the "Dead Body Management Guidelines" notified by Government of India last month.
  • Held that grant of bail is not a 'conclusive finding' and hence punishment, even in the form of fines, cannot be imposed as bail conditions.
  • Sought the State's response on the stray incidents of COVID-19 suspects/ patients escaping the containment centers in the state.

Karnataka High Court

  • Rejected a petition filed by an agriculturist seeking directions to the state government to screen the migrant labourers who are kept in shelter homes or their temporary dwelling and if tested negative for Coronavirus, then drop them to their homes for free, using the State/Central government transport facility.
  • Allowed super markets to remain open 24x7, to ensure uninterrupted supply of grocery and other essential items to citizens, while observing social distancing guidelines.
  • Directed the State Government to ensure that no nurses, paramedical staff or ASHA workers are deprived of their salaries during the lockdown. It has also asked the government to place on record its policy decision to provide police protection to these frontline health workers.
  • Rejected a petition seeking directions to the State and Central government to make public details of those persons who have allegedly contacted Coronavirus at the religious event held in Nizamuddin, Delhi.
  • Sought a report from the state government about the action it is taking to address the spike in cases of domestic violence, during the lockdown.
  • Called upon the Bar Council of India, Karnataka State Bar Council, etc. to inform the court the steps that may be taken to provide relief to needy advocates, suffering from lack of income.
  • Held that doctors wanting to pursue Postgraduate studies cannot be made to serve bond of five years. It thus directed the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), Medical College and Hospital to release such doctors' transfer certificates immediately, without insisting them to compulsory serve the hospital for a period of five years.

Kerala High Court

  • Directed the Kerala Government to anonymize all data that has been collected from COVID-19 pateints/ suspects before handing over the same to US-company Sprinklr. It has further directed that Sprinklr will not commit any act which may breach confidentiality of the data so entrusted with them and that they will return the data as soon as their contractual obligations are over.
  • Reaffirmed that functioning of advocates' offices is necessary for securing the fundamental right of access to justice and asked the Central Government if it is possible to grant relaxations for advocates' movement during the lockdown.
  • Directed the Central Government to file a statement giving specific details of the financial and medical assistance granted through embassies to Indians stranded in Gulf nations amid the COVID-19 situation.
  • Took suo-motu cognizance of news reports highlighting contamination of River Periyar, having the largest discharge potential, providing water to major towns and cities in the state.
  • that the Bail condition to deposit a certain amount in the Corona Relief Fund is "unjust & improper".

Madhya Pradesh High Court

  • Released an Indore-resident, apprehended for lockdown violation, on bail with a direction to contribute Rs. 10,000/- towards the PM CARES Fund and also to render voluntary services for at least three hours per day, for a week.

Madras High Court

  • Took suo moto cognizance of reports on how the burial of a doctor, who succumbed to a heart attack on account of COVID infection, invited mass opposition, creating a law and order situation and issued notice to the state Government on the issue of the right to burial being guaranteed under Article 21.

Punjab & Haryana High Court

  • Held that Supreme Court's order for decongestion of prisons is not to be interpreted so as to mean that the prisoners have to be "compulsorily" released from prisons. The court observed that the same depends on various factors including, gravity of the offence involved, whether prisons are overcrowded or not and whether any prisoner has tested Covid positive.

Rajasthan High Court

  • Held that providing compensation or any financial assistance to any particular segment of the Society is a matter of policy which is to be considered by the State Government after taking into account all relevant aspects subject to resources available with them. The observation was made in context to providing financial assistance to needy Advocates during lockdown.
  • Adjourned a Bail plea on account of inappropriately dressed counsel in a "baniyan" (undervest) during the Videoconference hearing.

Uttarakhand High Court

  • Directed the State Government to install ventilators in the hospitals which are dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients and do not have any ventilators yet.
  • Directed the State Government to consider paying 50% Minimum Support Price for wheat to the farmers in advance, so as to address their urgent needs during the prevailing circumstances amid the pandemic.

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