Week Commencing May 18, 2020 To May 24, 2020
Allahabad High Court
1) Allahabad HC Directs UP Advocates' Welfare Fund Trustees Committee To Take Loan If It Doesn't Have Enough Funds To Support Lawyers [In Re - Assistance To The Needy Advocates And Registered Advocate Clerks]
A bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma directed the Trustees Committee, constituted under the Uttar Pradesh Advocates Welfare Fund Act, 1974, to take a loan in case it does not have sufficient funds to assist financially weak lawyers, during the lockdown period. The court said that under Section 5 the Trustees Committee may use its powers in the present times to borrow funds and, therefore, under no circumstances can U.P. Advocates' Welfare Fund Trustees Committee come up with a case that it is lacking funds.
2) As UP Govt Withdraws Dilution Of Labour Laws, Allahabad HC Disposes PIL As 'Infructuous' [Uttar Pradesh Worker Front v. Union Of India & Anr.]
A bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma has disposed of a PIL challenging the UP Government's order for relaxation of certain labour regulations concerning working hours, rest periods and overtime laws in the state, as infructuous. The petition was disposed of after the Government informed the Court that the impugned notification dated May 8, 2020 had been withdrawn.
3) Allahabad HC Issues Notice On Plea Accusing State Authorities Of Using 'Sodium Hypochlorite' As Disinfectant On Human Bodies, Despite MHA Advisory [Prince Lenin, Advocate v. State Of UP & Ors.]
The bench of Justices Anil Kumar and Saurabh Lavania issued notices on a plea alleging that the state Government had been permitting the use of "Sodium Hypochlorite" as a disinfectant on human beings, despite the prohibitory orders issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The cout has given a month's time to the State to file its counter affidavit in the matter.
4) Plea Seeking Opening Of Mosques Offering Eid Prayers: Allahabad HC Directs Petitioner To Approach State Authorities First [Shahid Ali Siddiqui v. State of UP]
Directing the Petitioner to first approach the concerned state authorities, the bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma disposed of a PIL seeking permission to open mosques for offering Eid prayers. The court emphasized that a party seeking writ in the nature of mandamus must first approach to the Authority competent for redressal of the grievance, and should approach the court only if such recourse fails.
Also Read: Allahabad HC Allows Recital OF Azan By Muezzin From Minarets Of Mosques Amid Lockdown Without Microphones
5) Allahabad HC Allows Bail Plea Of Five Accused Of Carrying Chicken Meat During Lockdown [Mohd. Asjad Gazi & Ors. v. State of UP]
The bench of Justice Rajeev Singh on Wednesday allowed the bail application moved by five persons accused of carrying chicken meat, in violation of the lockdown measures. This was after the Govt. counsel conceded that carrying of "chicks, eggs and meat" was an exempted activity during the lockdown, in terms of the advisories issued by the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and also the Director of Animal Husbandry, UP.
6) Allahabad HC Seeks Status Report On Facilities Being Provided To Stranded Workers/ Labourers [Dileep Kumar Mishra v. Union of India & Ors.]
In a PIL seeking directions to safeguard the rights of migrant workers, a bench of Justices Anil Kumar and Saurabh Lavania asked the state Government to provide details on the facilities being provide to the workers/ laborers who are walking miles to reach their native places in the State of UP. A report is also sought on the status of workers/ labourers who are stranded in the state.
Andhra Pradesh High Court
1) 'Complainant's No-Objection To Deletion Of Names Of Accused During Committal Stage Will Not Preclude Court From Invocation 319CrPC On His Evidence In Trial': AP HC [Boya Kajje Pedda Ambaraju v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr.]
Justice Cheekati Manavendranath Roy held that a mere order passed by a committal Court accepting the deletion of names in the charge-sheet on the basis of the no-objection allegedly signified by the de facto complainant, would not come in the way of the trial Court in adding, under Section 319, Cr.P.C, the said names also as accused, in view of the categorical evidence given by the said complainant, being the eyewitness to the offence, during the course of trial.
The Court also found no merit in the contention that the de facto complainant 'will not be a reliable and a trustworthy evidence on account of the prevaricating statements given at various stages and the said evidence cannot be made basis for forming an opinion by the trial Court that these accused also committed the said offence', to invoke section 319.
Bombay High Court
1) Habitual Offenders Cannot Be Released On Temporary Bail; Bombay HC Rejects Former BJP Corporator's Plea [Mahesh B. Patil v. State of Maharashtra]
Justice Sadhna S Jadhav rejected the bail application filed by Mahesh B Patil, a former BJP Corporator from Kalyan-Dombivali observing that habitual offenders like him do not deserve to be released on temporary bail as per the guidelines of the State High Power Committee. He had been accused of plotting a failed conspiracy to commit murder of Kunal Patil, another BJP Corporator and his rival.
2) Covid-19: Every Possible Option Ought To Be Explored To Minimize People's Suffering; Bombay HC Tells State & MCGM [Mehrwan Farshed v. Union of India & Ors.]
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice AA Sayed observed that every possible option ought to be explored by the State Government and the Municipal Corporation to ensure that people's suffering caused due to the pandemic of Covid-19 is minimized. The Court has asked the private institutions to make a single set of compilation of all their suggestions for the same and to forward the same to the lawyers for the State as well as the Corporation for proper consideration.
3) Ensure That Seized PPE Kits & Masks Reach 'Frontline Workers' Says Bombay HC [Mohan Ramkishan Joshi v. Public Health Departments & Ors.]
In a PIL seeking distribution of sanitizers, face masks and PPE kits that were meant for the black market but were seized by the police, amongst 'Corona Warriors', the Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde directed the State government to ensure that all seized PPE kits, masks, gloves and sanitizers seized by the police reach the frontline workers engaged in combating Covid-19.
Also Read: PIL Seeking Cap On Price Of N-95 Masks : Bombay HC Asks Union Of India To Respond
4) If Officers Stumble Upon Contraband During Income Tax Search It Does Not Amount To Seizure Under NDPS Act: Bombay HC [Anant Vardhan Pathak v. Union of India & Anr.]
Refusing relief to Anant Vardhan Pathak, President (Corporate Affairs), Yash Birla Group, the bench of Justice NJ Jamdar held that when officers stumble upon a contraband (4.5 gm cocaine in this case) during an income tax raid, it does not amount to 'seizure' under the Narcotics And Psychotropic Substances Act. The observation was made in a criminal revision application filed by the 25-year-old Pathak who was arrested after officers of the income tax department found 4.5 grams of cocaine in his possession at a five star hotel in Mumbai six years ago.
5) "MCGM & State Have Lived Up To The Expectations Of The People" : Bombay HC Asks To Consider Exclusive Helpline For Pregnant Women [Mohiuddin Vaid v. Stateof Maharashtra & Ors.]
While hearing a public interest litigation alleging that a pregnant woman was denied admission at JJ Hospital for not carrying a negative Covid-19 report, the division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde observed that the State and MCGM have lived up to the expectations of the people after being informed that more than 10,000 deliveries have taken place since March 2020.
6) 'No Scientific Data To Say That Burial Transmits Coronavirus': Bombay HC Dismisses Plea Against Burial Of COVID-19 Victims In Bandra Cemeteries [Pradeep Gandhy & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]
A Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde dismissed the writ petition filed by few Mumbai residents challenging the permission granted by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to use three cemeteries (kabristan) in Bandra for burial of Covid-19 victims as they feared a community spread. The court observed that there is no scientific data to support the petitioner's claim that the virus is transmitted through burials and held that the Corporation had the authority to grant such a permission and demarcate cemeteries accordingly.
Also Read: Of Covid-19 And Stigma Attached To It
Calcutta High Court
1) 'Granting Bail To Accused In POCSO Cases Due To Delayed Filing Of Chargesheets Matter Of Great Concern': Calcutta HC Directs Immediate Recording Of 164 Statements [In re: Contagion of COVID – 19 Virus in Children Protection Homes]
A bench of Justices Soumen Sen and Harish Tandon raised concerns over failure to record judicial statements under Section 164, CrPC due to national lockdown and the consequent delay in filing charge sheets in POCSO-related cases, resulting in the accused persons being granted bail. The court directed the District Judges to ensure that the recording the statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in POCSO related cases should be done without any further delay.
2) [Section 80-HHC, IT Act] Extra Realisation Due To Adverse Exchange Rate Of Rupee Part Of Export Turnover And Entitled To Deduction:Calcutta HC [Ispat Projects Ltd. v. CIT, WB-I, Kolkata]
Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee held that extra realisation made in rupees for export sale proceeds in foreign exchange due to adverse exchange rate of rupee would be part of the export turnover in the year of receipt subject to the foreign exchange coming into the country within the statutorily prescribed time period.
The Division Bench was also of the view that export sale proceeds received in accordance with and in terms of the export contract and with approval of RBI could not be ignored for the purpose of relief under Section 80-HHC of the Income Tax Act. The said provision provides that where an assessee is engaged in the business of export out of India of any goods or merchandise, there shall be allowed, in computing the total income of the assessee, a deduction to the extent of profits, derived by the assessee from such export.
3) Calcutta HC Seeks Response From MHA & State Government In Plea Alleging Mismanagement Of COVID-19 Situation In The State [Kabir Shankar Bose v. State of West Bengal & Ors.]
A bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs as well as the State Government of West Bengal to submit their replies in a plea alleging mismanagement of the COVID-19 situation in the state. However, the bench refused to issue specific directions to send a Central Team to the state in order to inspect the ground reality.
4) 'Can Advocates' Clerks Be Considered As Belonging to Unskilled/Skilled Unorganised Labour Sector For Relief Amidst Lockdown?', Calcutta HC Asks Centre, State
While hearing a petition filed by the High Court Law Clerks Association, the Chief Justice-led bench noted that the clerks had been "struggling for survival", on account of the shutdown of courts. The court therefore inquired from the Union of India and the state of West Bengal if advocates' clerks can be considered to be belonging to the unskilled/skilled, unorganised labour sector, for the purpose of relief amidst the nationwide lockdown.
Delhi High Court
1) Bois Locker Room: Delhi HC Directs Cyber Cell of Delhi Police To Complete Investigation Expeditiously
Disposing of a plea seeking CBI Inquiry Into Bois Locker Room Incident, the Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh directed the Cyber Cell Unit of the Delhi Police to complete the investigation expeditiously and file a report in the concerned court. The high court also further directed the police to take measures to ensure safety and security of the complainants.
2) Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To Ensure That Ration Is Immediately Provided to All Pending E-Coupon Holders [Shabnam v. GNCT of Delhi & Ors.]
In a PIL highlighting the fact that thousands of needy persons are not getting ration despite having e coupons, the Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that any non compliance shall be viewed seriously. The court directed the Delhi Government to ensure that all the pending e-coupon holders are supplied ration through the ration distribution centre at Nigam School, Sultan Puri within a day.
Also Read: Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To Provide Pulses In Accordance With PM Garib Kalyan Yojana To Delhi Residents As Per Their Entitlement
Also Read: Delhi HC Expresses Disappointment In Lack of Compliance Of Delhi Govt In Providing Ration To Every Hungry Person In Delhi
3) Granting Injunction For Interference With Contractual Relations of Two Parties In Absence of Law Would Violate Art 19(5) of Constitution: Delhi HC [Inox Leisure Ltd. v. PVR Ltd.]
Single Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw held that providing injunction for alleged interference with contractual relations of two parties, in absence of any law, would violate the fundamental right of carrying out trade under Article 19(5) of the Constitution. The order was passed in a case where INOX Ltd had asked the court to injunct PVR Cinemas from dealing with third parties with whom INOX was in a process of developing contractual relations.
4) If The Bidder is Not Technically Qualified, Tender Process Might Not Even Look Into The Financial Bid: Delhi HC [Lakhvinder Singh v. SDMC]
The Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar held that the tender process can't be recalled just because the highest bidder was not given the tender. The court noted that if the bidder was not found to be technically qualified, his financial bid could not have been looked into at all. The order has come in a writ petition seeking setting aside of the e-auction process undertaken by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to allocate land for Multilevel Authorised Parking in South Delhi.
5) Delhi HC Directs SDMC To Deploy CRPF/Delhi Police Personnel To Man The Barricades Put Outside Nizamuddin West Colony [Resident Welfare Association Nizamuddin v. SDMC & Ors.]
In a writ petition moved by the Residents Welfare Association, the Single Bench of Justice C Hari Shankar directed the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to depute CRPF or Delhi Police personnel to man the barricades/pickets installed outside Nizamuddin West colony. The court further directed that the same should be done, in accordance with the lockdown guidelines issued by the Centre and the State Government, to keep the pickets/barricades manned, and to ensure that the colony does not become a thoroughfare for traffic.
6) Delhi HC Directs UP Govt To Provide Weekly Online Passes To Lawyers Living In NCR To Move In And Out Of Delhi
The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to provide weekly e-passes to lawyers living in NCR region in order to enable them to move in and out of Delhi. The court has asked the UP Government to comply with the court's order by May 21, and to follow the same model of weekly e-passes which is being followed by the Haryana Government.
Also Read: Advocates Living in NCR Will Be Provided Online Passes to Move In and Out of Delhi: Haryana Govt Informs Delhi HC in Plea Moved by DHCBA
7) Monsanto Bt Cotton: Delhi HC Holds That CCI 's Jurisdiction To Hear Complaints Regarding Abuse of Dominance In Respect To Patent Rights Not Excluded [Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd. v. CCI & Ors.]
While highlighting that there's no conflict between the Patents Act and the Competition Act, the Single Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru held that the jurisdiction of the CCI to entertain complaints regarding abuse of dominance in respect to patent rights could not be excluded. The court further noted that the exclusionary clause under section 3(5) of the Competition Act cannot allow the patentee to include onerous conditions under the guise of protecting its rights.
8) Delhi HC Issues Notice in Plea Seeking Adequate Mechanism For Imparting Online Education to Specially Abled Students
The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohil and Justice Subramonium Prasad has issued notice to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in a plea seeking a direction to the Central Government to set up adequate and effective mechanism for providing educational and teaching material for the visually impaired and specially abled individuals.
9) Delhi HC Asks Media Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha To Decide Whether Non Issuance of Annual Pass To Freelance Journalists Violate Their Right to Free Speech [Anil Chamadia v. Chairman, Media Advisory Committee Rajya Sabha & Ors.]
Single Bench of Justice Navin Chawla disposed of a petition challenging an order of the Media Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha, which had restricted the issuance of passes to a journalist under the freelance category to only sessional passes, thereby discontinuing its earlier practice of issuing an annual pass to the journalist under the freelance category. The court asked the Media Advisory Committee of the Rajya Sabha to revisit its Rules and Guidelines for issuance of passes to see as to whether non issuance of annual passes to freelance journalists violate their Right to Freedom of Expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
10) Delhi HC Awards ₹75 Lacs In Compensation To Person Who Met With An Accident Due To Chained Barricades Put Up By Delhi Police [Dheeraj Kumar & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.]
The Single Bench of Justice Navin Chawla awarded ₹75 lakh in compensation to a person who has been rendered to vegetative state due to the accident caused by the chained barricades put up by Delhi Police. While granting compensation to the 26 year old victim, the court observed that although the barricades are placed for valid reasons of security, it did cast a duty on the Authority to ensure that they did not cause accidents due to their non-maintenance.
11) Delhi HC Directs Centre and Delhi Govt To Ensure That Health Facilities Are Proportionally Increased As Per The Requirements of the Patients [Hitesh Bhardwaj v. Union of India & Anr.]
In a PIL seeking more private hospitals in Delhi to treat COVID-19 patients, the Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed both the Centre and the Delhi Government to keep a tab on the number of cases of COVID-19 that, as they have spiked in Delhi in the past 48 hours so that facilities both at Hospitals and pathological laboratories are proportionately increased, as per the requirement of the patients.
12) Delhi HC Issues Notice In Plea Which Claims That Due To Non Functioning Of NIA Courts, Continued Detention of Person Accused Under UAPA Is Illegal [Aqil Hussain v. GNCT of Delhi & Ors.]
The Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar has issued notice to both the Central Government as well as the Delhi Government in a plea seeking release of an accused who, despite being granted bail for other charges, continues to be in custody for a charge under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act due to the non functioning of the NIA Special Courts. The matter will next be taken up on May 29.
13) Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To Ensure Registration Of Construction Workers And Granting Ex Gratia Payments To Those Whose Registrations May Have Lapsed [Sunil Kumar Aledia v.GNCT of Delhi & Ors.]
The Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar directed the Delhi Government as well as Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board to ensure that ex gratia payments are also made to construction workers whose registration might have lapsed, but are subsequently renewed after due verification. The court further directed the concerned authorities that an SMS should be sent to all the registered construction workers, informing them about the process of renewing their registration and the documents required for the same. The said SMS, the court directed, could preferably be in Hindi.
Also Read: Provide Pension Within 2 Weeks To Eligible Construction Workers, Scrutinise the Applications of Others in 4 Weeks: Delhi HC Directs Delhi Construction Workers Welfare Board
14) Delhi HC Directs Superintendent Of Rohini Prison To Look Into The Complaint of Alleged Violence Committed By Certain Jail Officials [Karan alias Kalyan v. GNCT of Delhi]
In a petition seeking a direction to prison authorities to ensure supervised treatment to the Petitioner for the injuries sustained by him owing to alleged attacks against him, the Single Bench of Justice Rekha Palli directed the Superintendent of Rohini Central Prison to look into the complaint filed by an undertrial prisoner (UTP) alleging violence committed by certain jail officials and other inmates.
15) Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To Take A Decision on Zafarul Islam Khan's Removal From The Post of Delhi Minorities Commission Chief Within 2 Weeks [Vikram Gahlot v. GNCT of Delhi & Ors.]
The Division Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula directed the Delhi Government to conclude the process under Section 4(4)(f) of the Delhi Minorities Commission Act against Zafarul Islam Khan in accordance with law in two weeks. The direction was passed in a plea seeking immediate removal of Zafarul Islam Khan from the position of the Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission for allegedly making seditious and hateful speeches.
16) Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To Ensure The Safety of Persons Residing In Buildings Adjacent To Those Occupied By Health Workers [Dr. Anil Dhalla v. GNCT of Delhi & Ors.]
The Single Bench of Justice Asha Menon held that while no one has a right to ask for the removal of the resident health workers from their neighbourhood because of an unrealistic fear of the Covid-19, the Delhi Government cannot escape their obligation to provide a protected environment to the senior citizens and other residents adjacent to such buildings which are occupied by the health workers. The court further noted that the said measures shall include regular fumigation and sanitization while ensuring that all measures of hygiene are adhered to by the occupants.
17) Doctrine Of Frustration Under Section 56 Of Contract Act Not Applicable To Lease Agreements : Delhi HC [Read Judgment] [Ramanand vs Dr Gireesh Soni ]
Justice Prathiba M Singh held that the doctrine of frustration under Section 56 of the Indian Contract Act is not applicable to lease agreements. The ruling was based on SC precedents which held that Section 56 is applicable only to "executory contracts" and not to "executed contracts". A contract for lease whereunder the lessee obtains possession from the lessor is an executed contract, noted the HC.
Also Read: Delhi HC Rejects Tenant's Claim For Suspension of Rent Due To Lockdown, Allows Postponement Of Payment Schedule
18) As 22 Patients In AIIMS Night Shelter Test COVID19 Positive, Delhi HC Directs Immediate Inspection Of Facilities [Karan Seth v. Union of India & Ors.]
After being informed that 22 persons residing in the night shelters set up within the premises of All India Institute of Medical Sciences tested positive for COVID19, the Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar has directed for the immediate inspection of the facilities provided therein and the same shall also be videographed.
19) Delhi HC Rejects Plea Seeking Scrapping of Delhi Govt's Death Audit Committee Which Scrutinises Data on COVID19 Deaths [All India Lawyers' Union v. GNCT of Delhi & Anr.]
A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan rejected the plea seeking the scrapping of Delhi Government's Death Audit Committee which was set up to scrutinise the data pertaining to deaths caused by COVID19. The court noted that the members of the Committee are experts in their subject and field, and there seems to be no arbitrariness or discrimination being done nor is there are any material to show false fabrication of data in question being published.
20) Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2018 Will Not Affect Offences Committed Prior To Its Enactment: Delhi HC [Madhu Koda v. State through CBI]
The bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru held that the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018, so far as it substitutes Section 13(1)(d) of the principal Act, does not operate in a retrospective manner. The court held that the purpose for introducing the amendment was to ensure that the actions of a public servant that may appear to be against public interest but do not involve mens rea, are not construed as criminal misconduct. However he clarified that there was no requirement to give retrospective application to the Amendment Act as even the unamended provision entailed an element of "abuse".
21) Delhi HC Suspends The Order of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks Which Had Directed For Filing of Documents and Fees By June 01 [Intellectual Property Attorneys Association & Anr. v. Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks & Anr.]
The bench of Justice Jyoti Singh suspended the operation of the May 18 order of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, which had directed litigants and advocates to complete various acts/proceedings, filing of any reply/document, payment of fees, etcetera in the matter of any intellectual property applications/actions by 01.06.2020. The court noted that the order of the Supreme Court, wherein the limitation period for filing documents was extended, is binding as much binding on the Controller as it is on any other court or tribunal.
Also Read: Delhi HC Suspends The May 04 Order of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks Which Had Directed For Filing of Documents and Fees By May 18
Gujarat High Court
1) "Not The Time To Do Business And Earn Profit":Gujarat HC Directs Pvt Hospitals To Adopt Govt. Specified Rates, Lest License Be Cancelled [Suo Moto v. State of Gujarat]
Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Ilesh J. Vora directed the State Government to see that all the private hospitals across the city of Ahmedabad and also situated at the outskirts work out the modalities with respect to the fee structure. "If the private hospitals do not budge and are determined to demand exorbitant amount, then this Court will have to take appropriate legal action against such hospitals and the consequences may be quite bitter including cancellation of licence", expressed the Court sternly.
2) Waive Migrants' One Way Charges Or Levy Fare From State Govt: Gujarat HC Directs Railways
In the suo motocase registered on the issue of migrant workers and spread of COVID-19 in the state of Gujarat, the bench of Justices J B Pardiwala and Ilesh J Vora pulled up the Railway authorities for levying charges for transportation of the migrant workers and directed the Railways to either waive off one way charges of the journey or to recover such amounts from the respective State Governments.
Through this order, the High Court also made crucial observations with regard to the condition prevailing in Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, a dedicated centre for COVID-19 treatment; it reinforced the public duty of private hospitals to deliver adequate healthcare during the threatening times of a pandemic; and extended the period of interim bail for prisoners released pursuant to the recommendations of the High Power Committee, for further 45 days.
Also Read: 'We All Should Become Carpathia', Gujarat HC Recalls Titanic Saviour Ship To Urge People To Help Each Other In Fight Against COVID-19
Karnataka High Court
1) Shramik Trains : Karnataka HC Asks State To Clarify Stand On Bearing Rail Fare Of Migrants Who Can't Pay
Chief Justice AS Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna asked the state to clarify on whether it really wants to take a stand that a migrant worker who has no income and is not in a position to pay Railway fare will not be allowed to travel by Shramik special trains to his home State.
The court sought the clarification from the state after government in its written submission said that six shramik trains were arranged till 15th May, 2020 from various States to bring workers from other states back to Karnataka. The stand specifically taken was that the expenses for travel by shramik trains have been paid fully by the Government of Karnataka. However, the stand taken as regards the migrant workers in the State who want to go back to their States of their origin is that unless the corresponding States to which the migrants wish to travel agree to bear the train fare, the migrant workers will have to pay the train fare.
2) Insurer Liable To Pay Third Party And Recover From Insured Even In Case Of Breach Of Condition Under Act Policy and Contractual Policy: Karnataka HC [New India Assurance Co. Ltd.v. Yallavva & Anr.]
Full bench comprising of Justice BV Nagarathna Justice KN Phaneendra and Justice BA Patil held that under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the insurer is liable to pay the third party and recover from the insured even if there is breach of any condition both under the Act policy and the contractual policy, unless fraud or collusion is established.
3) 'State Not Willing To Accept Errors Committed By Its Officers' : Karnataka HC Slams Govt For Not Providing Information About Number Of Guests For Nikhil Kumaraswamy's Wedding
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhya Oka and Justice B V Nagarathan expressed serious displeasure after the state government once again failed to provide details of number of movement passes issued to guest who attended at the wedding ceremony of Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son for former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
Also Read: How Many Vehicle Passes Were Given For Nikhil Kumaraswamy's Wedding?, Karnataka HC Asks State
4) Karnataka HC Issues Notice On PIL Seeking Monetary Relief To Archakas And Temple Servants During Lockdown
The High Court issued notice to the state government on a public interest litigation filed seeking directions to provide adequate monetary relief to the Archaks and Temple Servants serving in nearly 35,000, category 'C' Temples that are managed by the state. The matter will be heard on May 27.
5) Can State Be Permitted To Use NDRF Funds For Bearing Rail Fare Of Migrants Who Can't Pay? Karnataka HC Asks Centre
A division bench comprising Chief Justice A S Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna has asked the Central Government if the State can be permitted to use the funds transferred by the National Disaster Response Fund for payment of train fare of migrants who are not in a position to pay the amount. The bench also requested the Additional Solicitor General of India to take instruction from the Central Government and Railways on the question of waiver of train fare for the migrants who have been stranded in the State and who are not in a position to pay.
Also Read: No Migrant Should Be Denied Opportunity To Travel Back Only Because Of Incapacity To Pay Rail Fare : Karnataka HC
Kerala High Court
1) Kerala HC Directs Inquiry Against Police Officer For Violating Full Court Order To Avoid Arrest Unless Inevitable [Prasad v. State of Kerala & Anr.]
Justice PV Kunhikrishnan directed the District Police Chief to initiate an enquiry into the conduct of an Investigating Officer, who arrested an accused in a sexual harassment case, in contravention of a Full Court's direction against arrest unless the same is inevitable during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court noted that the arrestee had been taken into custody despite being accused of a bailable offence under Section 354 A of IPC and other offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), where the maximum punishment was that upto 7 years.
2) Kerala HC Refuses To Direct Mandatory RT-PCR Test For Expatriates Under Vande Bharat Mission; Urges Centre To Consider State's Concerns [CR Neelakandan v. Union of India & Ors.]
A bench comprising Justices Anu Sivaraman and M R Anitha refused to issue directions for conducting mandatory RT-PCR COVID-19 test for expatriates before boarding flights to India under the Vande Bharat Mission scheme. The court observed that the Standard Operating Procedure for return of Indians from abroad has been formulated "after proper application of mind and due consultation with medical experts". The Court also observed that it had no doubt that Central Government has put in place proper procedure based on expert medical advice and the available relevant data.
3) Kerala HC Says BCI Can Conduct A Full Fledged Inquiry On Affairs Of Advocates Welfare Fund Trust Committee With Respect to Pilferage of Rs.7 Crores [KN Anilkumar v. Bar Council of India & Ors.]
Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice SP Chaly declared that the BCI is empowered to make an enquiry into the entire affairs of the Kerala Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee with respect to the pilferage of Rs.7 Crores between 2007-2015. The court observed that on a reading of section 7(1)(d) of the Advocates Act, 1961, it is clear that Bar Council of India is conferred with a duty to safeguard the rights, privileges and interests of the Advocates. As per clause (g) thereto, it is vested with powers of general supervision and control over the State Bar Councils. As per clause (m), it is vested with powers, coupled with a duty to do all other things necessary for discharging the functions conferred under section 7 of Act, 1961.
4) SC Order For Extension Of Limitation Does Not Affect An Accused' Right To Default Bail Under Section 167(2) CrPC: Kerala HC [Mohammed Ali v. State of Kerala & Anr.]
The bench of Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan V. held that the Supreme Court order dated March 23, 2020, whereby the period of limitation for filing cases was extended in view of the COVID-19 lockdown, does not affect the right of an accused to default bail under Section 167(2) of CrPC. The court observed that the provisions of the CrPC do not empower anyone to extend the period, within which investigation must be completed. Further the court clarified that a reading of the general order passed by the Supreme Court to extend the period of limitation for filing cases would show that those directions were issued to obviate difficulties faced by the litigants, lawyer and they are "applicable to petitions/applications/suits/appeals and other proceedings wherein a period of limitation is prescribed under the general law of Limitation or under Special Laws."
Also Read: [Default Bail] Madras HC Constitutes DB To Settle Conflicting Views On Applicability Of SC Order Extending Limitation On Section 167(2) CrPC
Madhya Pradesh High Court
1) 'Register As COVID-19 Warrior & Work In Covid-19 Disaster Management': Madhya Pradesh HC Imposes Bail Condition [Badal Singh & Ors. v. State of MP & Anr.]
In a first, the High Court allowed a bail application moved by accused under the SC & ST Act while directing them to register themselves as "COVID-19 Warriors" and work in the "COVID-19 Disaster Management", as per directions of the concerned District Magistrate. The order was passed by Justice Sheel Nagu of the Gwalior Bench, while observing that the human resource in shape of young-aged Appellants could be utilized for the betterment of the society and to ward off the crises.
Madras High Court
1) 'Migrants Exhibiting Anxiety To Reach Railway Station; Not Maintaining Social Distancing' : Madras HC Directs State To File Status Report On SOP
In a PIL highlighting certain shortcomings in the Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Government for welfare of migrants, a bench of Justice M. Sathyanarayanan and Justice Dr. Anita Sumanth asked the government to file a comprehensive Status Report as to the effective measures/workable solutions in terms of the SOP formulated. The court also put a specific query to the Government Pleader as to the identification of the shelter homes / places where the migrant workers who are waiting for the transportation to their home States, can be accommodated, and required that "the same may be made available in the public domain".
2) Madras HC Grants Bail To Persons Accused Of Disrupting Burial Of Covid Affected Doctor [Tamil Vendhan & Ors. v. The State]
The single-Judge bench of Justice M. Nirmal Kumar allowed the bail applications of 11 persons accused of disrupting the burial ceremony of a doctor, who succumbed to a heart attack after contracting the COVID-19 infection. The court observed that the accused acted in an irrational manner as they were "scared by the rumours" about the deadly virus.
3) 'State Should Not Be Impulsive Like An Ordinary Citizen In Defamation Matters And Invoke Sec 199(2) CrPC To Throttle Democracy' :Madras HC Quashes Cases Against N Ram & Ors [Thiru N. Ram v. Union of India & Ors.]
Underscoring the importance of freedom of press, the bench of Justice Abdul Quddhose quashed the criminal complaints filed against a group of editors and journalists such as N Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan, Nakkeeran Gopal etc. The complaints were lodged in 2012 alleging "criminal defamation against State' over few reports against J Jayalalitha, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
The court observed that there is a higher threshold for the State to initiate criminal defamation against citizens, when compared to ordinary cases of defamation inter-se private parties. The Court added that the State should maintain higher tolerance with respect to criticism, and cannot be "impulsive" to launch prosecution.
Also Read: 'Mere Inaccuracies In Reporting Cannot Justify Initiation Of Prosecution': Madras HC Quashes Criminal Defamation Proceedings Against ET Journalist & Editor
Manipur High Court
1) MLA's Are Not Food Distributing Agents: Manipur HC Passes Slew Of Directions For Effective Implementation of PDS [The Human Rights Alert v. State of Manipur]
A division bench of Justices Lanusungkum Jamir & Nobin Singh issued a slew of directions in a PIL seeking necessary arrangements to ensure that extensive distribution of essential commodities is effectuated to the entire population and are available to the public at prices fixed by the Government. The court directed that the state governments must ensure that all persons who are eligible households in terms of the National Food Security Act, 2013, including non-card holders are to be necessarily supplied with food grains vis-à-vis the Public Distribution System during the lockdown situation.
2) [COVID19] Lawyers Financial Assistance: "Release Funds At The Earliest", Manipur HC Tells State Bar Council [All Manipur Bar Association & Ors. v. State of Manipur & Ors.]
In a PIL filed by the All Manipur Bar Association seeking financial assistance for needy Advocates during lockdown, a division bench of Justices Lanusungkum Jamir & KH Nobin Singh directed the Bar Council of Manipur to release a sum of Rs. 2,08,932 for purpose.
Patna High Court
1) Civil Society Can't Be Ignored In A Democratic Society : Patna HC Urges State To Reconsider Policy Of Not Engaging NGOs For COVID-19 Relief [Rajiv Ranjan v. State of Bihar & Ors.]
In a notable development, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar urged the State Government to reconsider its policy of not engaging with members of civil society in handling the COVID-19 crisis. The court observed "in a democratic society, the Civil Society cannot be ignored, more so in the times of disaster".
Rajasthan High Court
1) Rajasthan HC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance Of Plight In Death Of Migrant Birds Near Sambhar Lake; Orders Postmortem Of Carcasses [Suo Motu v. State Of Rajasthan]
Taking suo moto cognizance of the plight in death of migratory birds around the Sambhar lake, a division bench led by Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty ordered the State Government to remove carcasses of birds lying there an conduct a post-mortem to identify the reason behind their deaths. The court has also sought a report on the State's policy "to prevent the unnatural death of migrant and local birds in Sambhar Lake area" within 4 weeks.
Telangana High Court
1) Telangana HC Slams Unsavoury Remarks By TAFRC Chairman Against Judges; Refrains From Contempt But Recuses From Hearing [Dr. SPS Sharma & Ors. v. State of Telangana & Ors.]
A division bench of Justices MS Ramachandra Rao and K Lakshman came down heavily upon a retired Judge of the Hyderabad High Court, presently the Chairman of the Telangana Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (TAFRC), for imputing "unfounded aspersions" on its independence and impartiality. Censuring such "baseless allegations" against a sitting Judge of the High Court, the Bench recued itself from the case since on account of the antics of the Chairman of the TAFRC, the whole atmosphere got "vitiated".
2) [COVID-19] 'State Cannot Compel Testing/Treatment In Govt. Facilities When Citizens Willing To Bear Expenses Of Eligible Private Entities': Telangana HC
The High Court held that the state cannot compel residents of Telangana to get (a) testing for COVID-19 in NIMS/Gandhi Medical Hospital or only in the other designated laboratories decided by them and (b) treatment/isolation only in hospitals designated by them, when the residents are willing to pay the cost and get their blood samples tested in the private ICMR approved laboratories or private sector hospitals having the requisite infrastructure by paying the requisite charges.
3) Medical Emergency Not An Excuse To Trample On Citizen's Fundamental Rights Under Article 21 Of Constitution : Telangana HC [Ganta Jai Kumar v. State of Telangana]
The division bench of Justices M S Ramachandra Rao and K Lakshman observed that a medical emergency is not an excuse to trample on the fundamental rights of a citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution. Holding thus, the Court quashed a government order which compelled citizens to get testing and treatment for COVID-19 from designated government hospitals and prevented them from approaching private hospitals and laboratories for such purposes even though they have requisite approval from the ICMR.
Uttarakhand High Court
1) COVID-19: Uttarakhand HC Directs Rapid Anti-Body Tests At Border Points For Surveillance Of Returning Persons [Sachdanand Dabral v. Union of India & Ors.]
Noting that mere thermal screening and general clinical examination being performed at state borders on repatriating persons is not sufficient, the Division Bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Ravindra Maithani directed that rapid anti-body test be carried out at the borders for surveillance purposes alone, on an experimental basis. The Court has expressed its concern that "presently the efforts which are being made by the State Authorities, particularly at the borders of Uttarakhand, are not sufficient to check the return of persons, who are coming more rapidly in ever-increasing numbers".