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High Courts Weekly Round Up [May 4- May 10]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
10 May 2020 12:06 PM GMT
High Courts Weekly Round Up [May 4- May 10]
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Allahabad High Court

1) Allahabad HC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance Of Unhygienic Conditions In Quarantine Centers [In-Re Inhuman Condition At Quarantine Centres And For Providing Better Treatment To Corona Positive Respondent]

Taking suo moto cognizance based on an e-mail sent by a practicing Advocate of the High Court, a division bench comprising of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddharth Varma has registered a PIL against unhygienic and inhumane conditions of various Quarantine Centers in the state. The matter has been called for hearing on May 11.

Andhra Pradesh High Court

1) Vizag Gas Leak : Andhra Pradesh HC Passes Slew Of Directions To State Authorities In Suo Moto Case [In Re Poisonous Gas Leakage in Vishakhapatnam v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.]

Taking suo moto cognizance of the leak of 'Styrene' gas in Vizag, which resulted in a number of casualties, a bench comprising Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Justice Lalitha Kanneganthi directed the Government to take "immediate steps" to bring down the effect of gas leak by sprinkling water or other substances which may curtail further damage by requesting deployment of fire services from nearby areas. The Court has also issued a slew of directions including a direction to the State Government to issue an order directing all private hospitals in Visakhapatnam to open for needy persons.

Also Read: Vizag Gas Leak: NGT Directs LG Polymers To Deposit Rs 50 Crores; Constitutes 5 Member Committee For Probe

Also Read: Vizag Gas Leak: 'Strict Liability' Or 'Absolute Liability'?

Also Read: Vizag Gas Leak : NHRC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance; Issues Notice To Centre & AP Govt

Also Read: Vizag Gas Tragedy: A Reflection Of Bhopal's Interminable Misery

Also Read: Crime Without Punishment Conundrum Of Vicarious Liability In Criminal Law

Also Read: Gas Victims In A Pandemic

Bombay High Court

1) PIL Alleges Authorities Picking Up People Randomly In Nagpur, Non-Compliance Of ICMR's Covid-19 Guidelines; Bombay HC Seeks Reply [Mohammad Nishat S/o Mohd. Saleem v. The State of Maharashtra]

A bench of Justice Anil S Kilor at the Nagpur bench of the High Court asked the State of Maharashtra, Union of India and Nagpur Municipal Corporation, to file their respective replies in a PIL alleging that authorities were picking up people randomly from particular areas in Nagpur and putting them in quarantine even though they did not belong to the categories of 'High Risk Contacts' and 'Low Risk Contacts'.

2) Rights Claim To Ram Leela Movie; Bombay HC Grants Relief To Bhansali Productions, Directs Eros International To Pay Rs.19.39 lakh [Bhansali Productions Pvt.Ltd. v. Eros International Medial Ltd. & Ors.]

Justice BP Colabawalla granted relief to Sanjay Leela Bhansali run Bhansali productions and directed Eros International Media Ltd to pay the petitioner Rs.19.39 lakh in dues over dispute regarding rights of the movie Goliyo Ki Rasleela Ram Leela which was co-produced by Bhansali along with the respondent.

3) 'Who Will Pay Their Travel & Medical Cost?' Bombay HC Asks State To Clarify Regarding Stranded Migrant Workers

Justice SC Gupte directed the state government to clarify who will be paying for the cost of travel and medical screening of migrant workers stranded in the state due to the ongoing lockdown as a consequence of the pandemic of Covid-19.

4) Applicant Behaved Irresponsibly; Bombay HC Directs Man To Pay 10K To CM Relief Fund For Obstructing Health Workers Collecting Covid-19 Data [Zafar Jamal Khan v. State of Maharashtra]

Observing that the Applicant had acted in an 'irresponsible manner' by obstructing a team of health workers constituted for collecting data regarding the pandemic of Covid-19, Justice Bharati Dangre directed a 55-year-old man to pay Rs.10,000 to Chief Minister's Relief Fund while enlarging him on bail.

5) No Case For Assault Made Out; Bombay HC Grants Bail To Man Who Argued With Homeguard After Being Told To Wear Mask [Shekhar v. State of Maharashtra]

Justice Bharati Dangre allowed the anticipatory bail application of a doctor accused of "assaulting" a homeguard and obstructing him from performing his duty after getting into a verbal altercation when he was asked to wear a mask. The court concluded that prima facie no case for assault is made out- "On perusal of the FIR, prima facie what emerges is a verbal altercation between the complainant and the applicant while the latter was discharging his duty. No ingredients of Sections 323 and 353 of the IPC are made out from the complaint/FIR," it held.

6) PIL In Bombay HC Says Eligible Ration Card Holders Denied Food Grain Due To 'Practical Difficulties'; State To File Reply [Chandrakant Kotecha Charitable Trust v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]

Justice MS Karnik issued notices on a PIL seeking relief for the common man who is being denied ration because of "practical difficulties". The matter will be heard on May 15.

7) No Illegal Punishment Under The Garb Of Lockdown Warns Bombay HC As PIL Alleges Lockdown Violators Subjected To Humiliation [Sandip Madhu Nair v. State, thr Home Deptt & Ors.]

In a PIL contending that certain police personnel are guilty of gross violation of human rights as they subjected lockdown violators including senior citizens to 'inhuman indignities', Justice Rohit B Deo of the Nagpur bench directed the Police not to resort to illegal methods or punishments in the garb of enforcing the lockdown. The Court has also asked the Additional Government Pleader to ascertain whether such instances as alleged in the PIL have actually occurred.

8) After COVID-19 Outbreak In Mumbai's Arthur Road Prison, Several Prisoners Seek Release On Bail; Bombay HC Says Even Prisoners Have Right To Life [Ali Akbar Shroff v. State of Maharashtra]

Justice Bharati Dangre heard several different applications filed by undertrial prisoners seeking bail on medical grounds after over 100 prisoners and staff members of Arthur Road jail tested positive for Covid-19. The court has said that even cell inmates have a right to safe and healthy environment and the right to life as those in outside world. Accordingly, it said that it is open for the State Government and Jail authorities to take appropriate policy decision to tackle the situation to keep all the inmates safe and ensure that they shall stop the spread of virus in the jail.

9) Conduct Of Police Officers Raises Suspicions; Bombay HC On Plea Alleging Trade Unionist Illegally Quarantined Due To Animosity With Cop Not Of Covid-19 [Mahendra Singh v. Commissioner of Police & Ors.]

In a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of K Narayanan, President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Justice Revati Mohite Dere expressed doubts about the bonafide apropos conduct of the Police authorities and observed that prima facie it appears that the detenu was deliberately and malafidely sent to a quarantine facility due to his animosity with a Senior Inspector not on suspicions that he was Covid-19 positive, as contended by the police. The court however accepted the Respondent's submission that the detenu was being released the same day while remarking "Quarantine facilities cannot be used as preventive detention or as a punitive measure."

Delhi High Court

1) Delhi High Court Passes Anti Suit Injunction, Temporarily Restraining Defendant From Going Ahead With An Infringement Suit In New York Court [HT Media Ltd. & Anr. v. Brainlink International, Inc. & Anr.]

The Single Bench of Justice Jyoti Singh allowed Hindustan Times Media Limited's plea seeking interim injunction against a company from using domain name 'hindustan.com' and from fighting a trademark infringement suit in a New York court. The court noted that the High Court had the jurisdiction to hear the case as per section 134(2) of the Trademarks Act and the suit instituted in New York was prima facie vexatious and oppressive to the Plaintiffs as they had not asserted trademark rights in the USA.

2) Reports Of COVID19 Testing Must Be Made Available Within 48 Hours Or Earlier: Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt [Rakesh Malhotra v. GNCT Delhi & Ors.]

In a PIL seeking expeditious furnishing of reports after conducting tests for the infection of COVID19 virus, the Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed the Delhi Government to ensure that the accredited labs in Delhi, which are testing samples for COVID19 infection, should be giving reports within a period of 24/48 hours.

3) Delhi HC Refuses To Grant Injunction Against Netflix Web Series Hasmukh [Ashutosh Dubey v. Netflix, Inc. & Ors.]

While holding that no prima facie case is made out, the Single Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva refused to grant an injunction against Netflix from streaming Vir Das starrer web series called Hasmukh. The court noted that the Plaintiff could not show that the disputed dialogue, allegedly derogatory to the entire legal fraternity, in any manner refers to him or refers to a definite group of individuals or lawyers out of the entire class of lawyers to which he belongs.

4) Delhi Riots: Delhi HC Directs Sessions Court To Hear Shahrukh Pathan's Bail Plea After The Same Was Denied Hearing By Registry As 'Non-Urgent' [Shahrukh Pathan v. State]

The Single Bench of Justice Anu Malhotra directed District and Sessions Judge, North East, to ensure that the bail application of Shahrukh Pathan, who's arrested for offences allegedly committed during the Delhi Riots, is taken up for hearing, within two days of it being filed. The order has come in a plea challenging the decision of the Sessions Court Registrar which had denied hearing to the said bail application, citing it as non-urgent.

5) Attachment Of Pension Account By The IT Dept: Delhi HC Directs IT Dept To Consider The Representation Of The Debtor [Lalita Aggarwal v. Principal Commissioner of Income Tax & Ors.]

The Single Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva directed the IT Department to consider the representation of a debtor whose pension account has been attached by the IT Department and pass an order within one week. The Petitioner had argued that the pension accounts are exempted from attachment under section 11 of the Pension Act, 1871.

6) 90 Days Period Prescribed in Rule 117 Of CGST Rules Not Mandatory, Input Credits Can Be Availed Within 3 Years: Delhi HC [Brand Equity Treaties Ltd. v. Union of India & Ors.]

The Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sanjeev Narula held that Rule 117 of CGST Rules, which prescribes 90 days for filing for transactional credits, is not mandatory in nature, but is merely directional. The period of three years, as prescribed in the Limitation Act, will now be considered as a reasonable period for availing such transactional credits.

7) Delhi HC Refuses To Release A Prisoner As His Residence Was In Notified Containment Zone [Mohd. Musa v. State]

In an application seeking interim suspension of sentence, the Single Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru refused to release the prisoner as his residence fell in the notified containment zone in Delhi, where residents are at high risk of catching the infection.

8) PSUs Qualify For Exemption Granted to Govt Offices In MHA Guidelines: Delhi HC Dismisses Plea Seeking Shutting Down of PSUs During the Lockdown [Anil K Aggarwal & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.]

While providing purposive interpretation to the MHA Guidelines issued on April 15, the Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar noted that as PSUs and government companies have a certain level of government control, they will qualify for directions laid down for partial functioning of the Government Ministries and Departments. It thus dismissed a plea seeking shutting down the offices of Public Sector Undertakings and Government Companies, which are dealing with non-essential services, till the pendency of the lockdown period.

9) Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To Ensure That Ration Is Provided To Every Person In Need Regardless of E-Coupon System

The Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh has directed the Delhi Government to ensure that every person who is in need of ration should be provided the same without any bureaucratic hurdles of 'e-coupons', especially to those who are in dire need of food. The court has further directed the Delhi Government to install complaint boxes at all the ration shops and designated schools and also ensure that all the help-line numbers are functional.

10) Liberty Of A Person Cannot Be Left In Limbo On Belief Of State That He Is At Flight Risk': Delhi HC Upholds Bail Granted To Sanjeev Chawla In Match Fixing Case [State of NCT of Delhi v. Sanjeev Kumar Chawla]

The single-Judge bench of Justice Asha Menon dismissed an application for cancellation of bail granted to Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, prime accused in the fixing of India-South Africa Cricket Test Series, 2000, while also observing that bail once granted, ought to not be interfered with unless compelling reasons arise. The Court noted that the state had come up with the petition for cancellation of bail on the very next day of the grant of bail and as such there was no opportunity for the Accused to interfere with trial. Further, the State itself had taken almost 20 years and yet, investigation was ongoing.

Also Read: Delhi HC Calls For Use Of GPS Tracking System To Monitor Movement Of Accused Released On Bail

11) Delhi HC Issues Notice In Plea Seeking Effective Implementation Of Facilities In Narela Quarantine Centre [Nirmal Gorana v. GNCT of Delhi & Anr.]

The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad has directed the Delhi Government to submit a detailed reply in a plea seeking effective implementation of healthcare and safety facilities in the DDA complex in Narela which has been converted into a quarantine facility by the Delhi Government.

12) Delhi HC Gives Relief To Ad-Hoc Assistant Professor Whose Services Were Terminated For Taking A Maternity Break [Manisha Priyadarshani v. Aurobindo College- Evening & Ors.]

The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Asha Menon quashed the termination letter of an ad-hoc Professor whose contract was not renewed by the College as she had taken a maternity leave, which was not approved by the said College. The bench also imposed a cost of ₹50,000 on the Respondents for giving arbitrary and unmerited reasons for not renewing the term of the Appellant.

Also Read: Motherhood Can't Be Equated With Loss Of Employment; Maternity Leave Not A Reason To Deny Tenure Extension To Contract Staff : Delhi HC

13) Delhi HC Refuses To Quash FIR Against Person Accused Of Loitering Around Without A Mask and Manhandling With Police [Sunder Kumar & Ors. v. State & Anr.]

Noting that the charges for breach of the lockdown restrictions are "unquestionably serious", the Single Bench of Justice C Hari Shankar refused to quash FIR against a person arrested for allegedly loitering around without a mask and manhandling a police officer.

14) Delhi HC Asks CAT To Consider Commencing Hearing Via Video Conferencing [Lalit Kumar Gupta v. North Delhi Municipal Corporation]

A bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar while dismissing a Service Matter filed in the High Court owing to non-functioning of the CAT, urged the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to consider commencing hearing of urgent matters via video conferencing during the lockdown period, so that the litigants do not suffer on account of in-access to justice.

Also Read: CAT Jabalpur Bench Conducts Its First Hearing Via Video Conferencing

15) Delhi HC Directs Centre To Consider Whether Caretakers of Persons With Disabilities Can Be Exempted From Lockdown [Varun Khullar v. Union of India & Ors.]

The Single Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva has directed the Central Government to consider whether caretakers, attendants and support staff of persons with disabilities could be granted exemption under the National Disaster Manager Act for the purposes of providing support to the persons with disability, who are unable to take care of themselves without such support. The order was passed in a PIL filed by a person suffering from 100% disability and could not perform his day-to-day functions without the help of a caretaker/attendant.

16) Delhi HC Issues Notice In Plea Seeking Laptops/Tablets and High-Speed Internet For Students Belonging To EWS, Enabling Them To Access Online Classes [Justice For All v. GNCT of Delhi & Ors.]

The Division Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula issued notices to the Central Government, Delhi Government, Central Board for Secondary Education, and private schools such as Sanskriti School and The Heritage, in a PIL seeking court's direction to the Delhi Government to ensure that children belonging to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) are provided with free laptops/ipads and high speed internet for ensuring their access to online classes conducted by schools. The matter will be heard on June 10.

17) PIL Seeking Mandatory Production of Identity Card While Purchasing Metro Token/Card: Delhi HC Asks Petitioner To Approach DMRC [Rohit Mahawar & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.]

While disposing of a PIL seeking mandatory production of identity card or address proof while purchasing the token for Delhi Metro, the Division Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula asked the Petitioner to make a representation before the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation regarding the same.

18) Rohingya Refugees : Delhi HC Asks PIL Petitioner To Approach Nodal Officer With Grievances About Denial Of Ration, Drinking Water & Medical Aid [Fazal Abdali v. GNCT of Delhi]

The Division Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula disposed of a PIL seeking seeking immediate relief for the Rohingya families living in three different settlements in Delhi while directing the petitioner to approach the concerned nodal officer with the grievances regarding denial of ration, drinking water and medical aid.

Gujarat High Court

1) Any Order Of Arbitral Tribunal In Course Of Arbitration Cannot Be Challenged By Way Of Writ Petition : Gujarat HC [GTPL Hathway Ltd. v. Strategic Markering Pvt. Ltd.]

Considering the policy, objects and the provisions of the Arbitration Act of 1996, Justice Bhargav D. Karia held that an order passed during arbitration proceedings by the Arbitral Tribunal cannot be challenged under Articles 226 and 227 as the 1996 Act is a special act and a self-contained code dealing with arbitration.

Jammu & Kashmir High Court

1) 'Poor Connectivity': J&K HC Adjourns Habeas Plea Due To Difficulty In Video Conferencing [Mian Abdul Qayoom v. Union Territory of JK & Ors.]

Due to poor connectivity, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court was constrained to adjourn the hearing of a habeas corpus petition challenging the detention of Mian Abdul Qayoom, the President of J&K Bar Association. The State has access to internet at a maximum 2G speed on mobile data.

Also Read: Kashmir : 2G Internet In Post Paid Mobiles Restored In 5 Districts; Ban On Social Media Sites To Continue

Also Read: "Internet Could Be Used To Propagate Modern Terrorism" : Govt. Of J&K Replies To Plea Seeking Restoration Of 4G At SC

Also Read: Lack Of 4G Net Affecting Health Services & Online Education In J&K, Submit Petitioners; SC Reserves Orders

2) No Justification For Shifting Capital Between Srinagar & Jammu Every 6 Months : J&K HC Calls For Review Of 148 Year Old 'Darbar Move' [Court on its Own Motion v. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir]

The bench of Chief Justice Gitta Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal has directed the Central Government to take a decision with regards to feasibility of continuing the 148 Year-old practice of Darbar Move, i.e. shifting of the capital from Jammu to Srinagar and vice versa for six months each, while highlighting that there are no reasons forthcoming for enabling and supporting considerations of administrative efficiency, legal justification or Constitutional basis for effecting the Darbar moves.

Karnataka High Court

1) Karnataka HC Refuse To Quash Case Against Doctors Who Allegedly Leaked PG Exam Papers To Students [Dr. Udayaravi & Anr. v. State of Karnataka & Anr.]

Justice Suraj Govindaraj refused to quash a criminal case registered against two doctors, who in the year 2011 allegedly conspired and leaked Postgraduate medical exam papers to select students. "At this stage, it cannot on the basis of the submissions made be said that no offences have been committed by the petitioners," the court held.

2) Section 153A IPC Can Be Attracted Even If Spoken Or Printed Word Were To Promote Or Incite Enmity Between Members Of 'Same Religious Group Or Sect': Karnataka HC [Vishwanath & Anr. v. State of Karnataka & Anr.]

Justice Suraj Govindaraj held that an offence under Section 153-A of IPC, can be said to have been committed if the spoken or printed word were to promote or incite enmity between members of the same religious group or sect or result in disturbing public tranquillity.

"It does not necessarily have to incite one religion against the other or one sect of the same religion against another sect. If the spoken or printed word were to have an effect of inciting persons of the same religion or same sect or same community or same fraternity, would be sufficient to invoke section 153B of the IPC," the court observed.

3) Distribution Of CD Containing Material Which Is Lascivious Or Appeals To The Prurient Interest Will Attract Offence Under Section 67 IT Act: Karnataka HC [Vishwanath & Anr. v. State of Karnataka & Anr.]

Justice Suraj Govindaraj held that a C.D being an electronic form the publication will come within the purview of Section 67 of the IT Act and hence, dissemination of "material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest" by way of Compact Disks would invite penal consequences under the provision.

4) How Could Permission Have Been Granted To 90 People For Attending Marriage Ceremony Of Nikhil Kumarasway During Lockdown : Asks Karnataka HC

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna has sought from the Central and State Government why there were no restrictions imposed on the number of persons allowed to attend the marriage ceremony of Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. The court further called for a policy statement from the Central Government and State Government on whether it is open for the District Magistrates to grant permission for holding of marriage ceremonies and other gatherings which are prohibited, irrespective of number of guests attending the function.

5) Karnataka HC Asks Central Govt To Decide On Whether Farmers Can Be Exempted From Paying Toll On Highways For Limited Period [Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India]

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna has asked the Union Government to decide by May 12, whether an exemption can be granted to the farmers from paying toll on highways, for a limited period considering the exigencies which have arisen due to COVID-19. The direction came after the counsel for PUCL informed the court that the farmers are still finding it difficult to transport the produce from one district to another.

6) Karnataka HC Asks State To Consider Recommendations Made In Survey Report Prepared By NLSIU

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna has asked the State government to consider the recommendations made in the survey report titled "Rapid Assessment of the Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Food and Nutrition Security in Rural Karnataka," prepared by Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University Bangalore. The matter will now be heard on May 12.

7) Can't Direct Govt To Release Financial Aid For Lawyers : Karnataka HC Urges Bar Council To Approach Senior Advocates For Donations [HC Shivaramu v. Union of India]

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna disposed of petitions filed by Former Chairman of Karnataka State Bar Council (KSBC) stating that it is unable to direct the Central and State Government to release funds for the welfare of advocates enrolled with the KSBC and those who are deprived of income on account of courts being closed in the state during the lockdown. Instead, it suggested that appeal be made by KSBC to senior advocates to donate funds for assisting needy advocates during lockdown.

8) 'Many Migrants Lost Lives Due To Long Walk & Hunger' : Karnataka HC Directs Govt To Inform Policy On Special Trains

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna while hearing a plea filed by All India Central Council of Trade Unions, asked the state government to place on record its policy laying down the manner in which all the migrant workers who wish to travel back to their home States can be allowed to travel back to their respective States. The matter will be heard on May 12.

Also Read: Migrant Workers Not Stranded Persons? The Illegal & Inhuman Effect Of MHA Clarification

9) Karnataka HC Issues Notice On PIL For Financial Protection To Media Persons Doing COVID-19 Coverage

A bench of Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice Suraj Govindaraj issued notice to the State government on a Public interest litigation seeking directions to the state and media houses to provide Rs 50 lakh compensations each to the families of media persons, newspaper delivery boys, in case they die due to coronavirus infection.

Kerala High Court

1) To Have A Name And To Express It In The Manner One Wishes Is A Part Of Right To Freedom Of Speech And Expression': Kerala HC [Kashish Gupta (M) v. CBSE & Ors.]

While allowing a writ petition preferred by a young girl, seeking a direction to the CBSE to allow her application for change in name, the single-Judge bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas held that expression of one's name in the manner one wishes is a Fundamental Right enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.

2) No Blacklisting Without Prior Hearing : Kerala HC Quashes Decision To Exclude JV Of Contractor Accused Of 'Palarivattom Flyover Scam' [Cherian Varkey Construction Company (Pvt) Ltd v. State of Kerala & Ors.]

A bench of Justice P B Suresh Kumar quashed the decision of Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) to exclude the joint venture of M/s RDS Project Ltd and Cherian Varkey Constructions from the bid for the execution of a particular road development work while reiterating that "the principle that the blacklisting of a contractor cannot be done without affording an opportunity of prior hearing." The KSTP had excluded the JV from the bid citing the reason that RDS was facing a vigilance case over the alleged scam with respect to the construction of Palarivattom flyover in Kochi.

3) Kerala HC Refuses To Stay Ordinance For Deferment Of Salary Payment In Public Emergencies [Kerala NGO Association v. & Ors. v. State of Kerala & Anr.]

While hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Kerala Disaster and Public Health Emergency (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 for it being violative of the Indian Constitution, the single-Judge bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas refused to grant an interim relief of stay. He observed that the purpose behind the Ordinance was to only "defer" an amount payable to a certain specified class of employees belonging to certain specified institutions. He also observed that the Ordinance itself provided that the Government will notify a mechanism for paying back the deferred amount and it does not partake in taking away rights of employees.

3) [167(2) CrPC] Accused Who Has Undergone Custody In Two Spells In The Same Crime Can Claim "Default Bail" On Combined Period [KA Sabu v. CBI]

Justice CS Dias has held that an accused who has undergone custody in two spells in the same crime is entitled to get the two spells combined to claim "default bail" under proviso (a) (i) to sub-section (2) of Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

4) Lack Of Legislative Competence: Kerala HC Declares Kerala Tax On Paper Lotteries Act Unconstitutional [State of Sikkim v. State of Kerala]

The bench comprising Justices CK Abdul Rahim and TV Anilkumar declared that the Kerala Tax on Paper Lotteries Act unconstitutional while observing that the State of Kerala was lacking legislative competence to impose tax under the impugned Act on state organised lotteries by deriving its source of power from Entry 62 of List II of the Constitution.

The finding was made while disposing of a writ appeal preferred by the State of Sikkim in connection to taxes paid by it for purchasing paper lotteries. "Lotteries organised by the Government of India or the Government of a State" is within the realm of the legislative competence of the Parliament, and therefore the state has no legislative competence to levy tax on paper lotteries, the State of Sikkim had argued.

5) "Police Acted Beyond The Powers":Kerala HC Stays Criminal Proceedings Against Children Below 7 Yrs Of Age, Accused Of Rape

Taking strong exception to violation of the Juvenile Justice Act in connection to a rape case where three children, below 7 years of age, have been roped in as accused, the bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas stayed all the criminal proceedings and directed the concerned authorities to forthwith put the case before the Juvenile Justice Board.

6) Kerala HC Seeks Centre's Response On Plea Challenging Mandatory Imposition Of 'Aargoya Setu' On Employees

A division bench comprising Justices Shaji P Chaly and M R Anitha has sought the response of the Central Government on a writ petition challenging the directives issued by the Centre making the use of 'Aarogya Setu' app mandatory for public and private employees. The matter will be heard on May 12.

Also Read: Legal Flaws On The Mandatory Imposition Of Aarogya Setu App

Also Read: Why Mandating The Aarogya Setu App Is Not The Solution To The Covid-19 Pandemic

Madras High Court

1) 'Article 47 Of Constitution Is Not An Enforceable Right': Madras HC Dismisses Plea For Total Prohibition Of Manaufacture, Sale & Consumption Of Alcohol [R. Dhanasekaran v. Got. Of Tamil Nadu & Ors.]

While holding that Article 47 of the Constitution apropos state's responsibility to prohibiting the consumption of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health, is not an "enforceable provision", the division bench of Dr. Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana dismissed a writ petition seeking absolute ban on manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol in the state of Tamil Nadu.

2) "Law Is An Art & A Science"; Madras HC Allows Unprecedented Compromise Between Pvt Insurer & Claimants In 23 Motor Accident Claim Petitions [M/s Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. N. Pratibhan & Ors.]

Justice N Anand Venkatesh passed an unprecedented "unusual" order allowing private insurer Cholamandalam MS General Insurance to execute transfer of 23 different Motor Accident Claim petitions pending before various tribunals in the State of Tamil Nadu to the High Court under Section 24 of the Code of Civil Procedure in order to facilitate a compromise arrived at in consultation with accident victims/families.

3) Security Concern: Madras HC Dismisses PIL For Using Services Of Jail Inmates To Control COVID-19 Pandemic [R. Sreedhar v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu & Ors.]

While highlighting that taking the services of the convicted people, who are presently in the jails, outside the jail premises may be "fraught with risk", the division bench of Dr. Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana dismissed a PIL seeking to avail the services of persons lodged in prisons across the country for dealing with the challenging times of the pandemic.

4) 'Mere Inaccuracies In Reporting Cannot Justify Initiation Of Prosecution': Madras HC Quashes Criminal Defamation Proceedings Against ET Journalist & Editor [Grievances Redressal Officer, M/s.Economic Times Internet Ltd. & Ors. v. M/s.V.V.Minerals Pvt.Ltd. & Anr.]

The bench of Justice GR Swaminathan mere inaccuracies in reporting cannot justify initiation of prosecution. The court relied on a US Supreme Court ruling to highlight that "Erroneous statements" were "inevitable in free debate" and it therefore quashed the criminal defamation proceedings instituted against the Journalist Sandhya Ravishankar and her husband, also the Editor and Grievances Redressal Officer of the Economic Times, in connection to an article about illegal beach sand mining of atomic minerals along the southern coastline of Tamil Nadu, published in the 2015 issue of the ET Magazine.

Also Read: Right To Freedom Of Speech And Expression ; Legal And Ethical Checks And Balances On Media

5) Madras High Court Seeks Status Report From Govt. Of TN On Steps Taken To Bring Back People To The State [Asa Uma Farooq v. Union of India & Ors.]

A Bench comprising of Justices Dr. Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Sathyanarayana directed the Respondent-State to file a Status Report with regard to the steps taken for transportation of residents of Tamil Nadu who are stranded in various parts of the country, especially New Delhi. The matter will be heard on May 12.

6) Right To Default Bail Under Section 167(2) CrPC Not Affected By SC Order Extending Limitation : Madras HC [Settu v. The State]

A single bench of Justice G R Swaminathan held that the general order passed by the Supreme Court to extend the period of limitation for filing cases in view of the COVID-19 lockdown will not affect the right of an accused to default bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Court held that allowing such an interpretation would defeat the fundamental right to personal liberty of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

7) Madras HC Orders Closure Of Liquor Shops; Permits Online Sale & Home Delivery [Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Ltd. v. B. Ramkumar Adityan]

A division bench comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Satynarayana ordered the closure of alcohol vending outlets in Tamil Nadu till the lifting of lockdown, taking note of huge crowd situation in outlets selling alcohol bottles in retail.

The order was passed in supersession of a pervious order dated May 6, whereby the High Court had allowed the TASMAC Liquor Shops to open and sell not more than two bottles of liquor once in three days to individuals. On noting "blatant violation" of the conditions imposed by it for regulating the crowd, the court asked the Government to consider online sale of alcohol and home delivery.

Notably, TASMAC has moved the Supreme Court challenging this order.

Also Read: States Can Consider Home Delivery Of Liquor/Indirect Sale To Facilitate Social Distancing: SC

Also Read: Plea Moved in Delhi HC Seeking Online Delivery of Liquor In Order To Curb Violation of Social Distancing Norms Outside Liquor Shops

Also Read: Kerala HC Slaps 50K Costs On Man Who Moved Court Seeking Home Delivery Of Liquor In View Of COVID 19 Outbreak

Also Read: Life, Liberty & Liquor

Orissa High Court

1) Ensure Migrants Who Enter Odisha Are Tested Negative For COVID-19 : Orissa HC Directs Authorities [Narayan Chandra Jena v. State of Odisha]

A bench comprising Justices S Panda and K R Mohapatra directed the State Government to ensure that the migrants who come back from other states should be tested COVID-19 negative before boarding the conveyance.

This order has however been stayed by a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and B R Gavai. This was in an appeal preferred by the Central Government which argued that "the impugned order creates an unreasonable and impossible pre-condition on the part of governments and the migrant workers who wish to travel back to their places."

Patna High Court

1) Patna HC Issues Instructions For Welfare Of Leprosy Patients During Lockdown; Seeks Comprehensive Report [Sam Uttan v. Union of India & Ors.]

A division bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh and Justice Anil Kumar Sinha directed the state authorities to ensure the welfare of leprosy patients in the state amid lockdown. To this end, the Chief Secretary of the Government of Bihar has been directed to monitor the issue of supply of food grains/ cooked food/ clean drinking water and medical facilities to leprosy patients.

Rajasthan High Court

1) Rajasthan HC Stays FIR Against BJP's Amit Malviya Allegedly For Mocking Congress Leaders On Twitter [Amit Malviya v. State of Rajsthan]

The bench of Justice Vinit Kumar Mathur stayed the proceedings in furtherance of a FIR against Amit Malviya, in-charge of BJP's National Information & Technology wing, registered for allegedly mocking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Twitter, on the basis of a submission that Malviya had merely re-tweeted the contents of the article/ news item published in The Print Magazine.

Also Read: Rajasthan HC Stays FIR Against BJP Chief J P Nadda Registered On The Basis Of Amit Malviya's Tweet Against Congress Leaders

Telangana High Court

1) "Reports On Shelters For Homeless Vague": Telangana HC Directs Greater Hyderabad's Municipal Corporation To File Comprehensive Report

While hearing a letter petition seeking details of shelter homes set up for the homeless during the lockdown, a bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy directed the civic body to file a detailed and comprehensive report by May 15. The court observed that reports filed by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporatio (GHMC) in this behalf were vague and lacked detail.

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