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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up

Sanya Talwar
17 May 2020 9:00 AM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up
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Week Commencing May 11, 2020 To May 16, 2020

1. Sabarimala Reference: SC Gives Reasons For Holding That Questions Of Law Can Be Referred To Larger Bench In Review [Kantararu Rajeevaru V. Indian Young Lawyers Association]The Supreme Court passed an order detailing reasons for reference of questions of law, to a larger bench in a review petition. The 9-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde had dismissed objections...

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The Supreme Court passed an order detailing reasons for reference of questions of law, to a larger bench in a review petition. The 9-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde had dismissed objections regarding the maintainability of reference in Sabarimala Review Petitions on February 10. On that occasion, the bench had stated that it will give reasons for the conclusion later.

While setting aside an arbitral award, the Supreme Court held  that courts may not examine the merits of interpretation provided in the award by the arbitrator, unless they were of the view that such an interpretation was reasonably not possible. A bench of Justices NV Ramana, MM Shantanagoudar & Ajay Rastogi acknowledged the settled position under Section 34 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act according to which a Court can set aside an Award only on the grounds at provided in the Act, adding that the Court cannot interfere in the plausible view taken by the Arbitrator, which is supported with reasoning.

The Supreme Court held that a court can permit a party to produce secondary evidence if a factual foundation for producing it is established. A bench comprising  Justices Navin Sinha & Krishna Murari observed that merely an admission in evidence and making exhibit of a document, does not prove it automatically unless the same has been proved in accordance with the law

Supreme Court stayed the Madras High Court's order directing closure of liquor stores in the State of Tamil Nadu, during lockdown. While effectively allowing liquor stores in the State to reopen, a bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, SK Kaul & BR Gavai also stayed the additional conditions which had been imposed by the High Court. On May 8, taking note of the huge crowd situation at retail outlets, the Madras High Court was of the view that conditions imposed for regulating the crowd in TASMAC (Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation) shops selling liquor, were "blatantly violated".

Top Court stayed the Gujarat High Court order which nullified the 2017 election of BJP leader Bhupendrasinh Chudasama to the Gujarat State Legislative Assembly. A bench comprising Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar & R. Subhash Reddy passed the interim order in a plea challenging the Gujarat High Court order, which had set aside Chudasama's December 2017 election as void and illegal on the grounds of manipulation and malpractice.

6. SC Refuses To Pass Orders For 4G Restoration In J&K; Asks Special Committee To Examine Issues Raised By Petitioners [Foundation for media professionals V. Union of India, Private School's Association J&K V. Union of India & Soayib Qureshi V. Union of India]
The Supreme Court refused directed Constitution of Special Committee comprising secretaries of Union Ministries of Home Affairs and Chief Secretary of J&K to examine contentions Raised In Pleas Seeking Restoration Of 4g Internet In J&K. A bench of Justices NV Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy & B.R. Gavai observed that even though the Court recognised that the Union Territory had plunged into a crisis, and the court was cognisant to the concerns related to ongoing pandemic and hardships, there was a need to ensure that national security and human rights are balanced.

The Supreme Court issued an interim order restraining coercive action against employers for a period of one week for non-payment of wages as per MHA direction. A bench of Justices  L Nageswara Rao, Sanjay Kishen Kaul & B R Gavai passed the interim order in a plea challenging the order issued by Home Secretary on March 29 invoking powers under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act 2005 directing full payment of wages by Industries or shops and commercial establishments to its employees at their work places, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown.

The Supreme Court stayed a Telangana High Court dated May 7, 2020 decision directing suspension of surrender of seats in post graduate diploma courses by medical colleges in the state. The High Court had suspended the decision of the Medical Council of India (MCI), dated July 12, 2018, permitting government and private medical colleges to surrender PG diploma seats for which in-service candidates are given preference in the 2020-21 academic year. A bench of Justices MM Shantanagoudar & R Subhash Reddy issued notice to various Respondents viz. the Centre, Medical Council of India, State of Telangana as well as National Board of Education as well as other stakeholders so impleaded in the petition.

The Supreme Court issued notice to the State of Haryana for an explanation viz. its policy conferring the benefit of remission on convicts who stand convicted for life sentence and are above the age of 75 years (in case of male convicts) and have completed 8 years of actual sentence. While observing that the policy prima facie appeared in conflict with Section 433A of the CrPC, a bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit & Dinesh Maheshwari sought a response on queries of whether a policy which would run counter to the mandate of section 433A of the CrPC could be framed under Article 161 of the Constitution and whether requisite details viz. granting benefits under the policy were placed before concerned authorities before granting remission.

10. SC To Monitor Beautification Of 18th Century Garden 'Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh'; Sets Aside NGT Ban On Social Functions There [The Director, Dept. of Archeology & Museums, Jaipur & Anr V. Ashish Gautam & Ors.]
While setting aside the blanket ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal on organising social functions like marriages and other events in 'Sisodia Rani Ki Bagh', an 18th-century historical site near Jaipur, Rajasthan, the Supreme Court held that the monument may be used for multi-purpose activities between 8 AM and 8 PM. The Court also said that it shall monitor the beautification and developmental works of the site.

The Supreme Court issued notice in a plea seeking extension of the benefits of RBI Circular on loan moratorium to all NBFCs. This plea by The Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI) sought for clarification on the eligibility of NBFCs for loan moratorium in terms of the RBI Circular of March 27 AND whether banks had the discretion to give them benefit. It was taken up by a bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Sanjay Kishen Kaul & B R Gavai.

The Supreme Court on Friday sought instructions from the Centre on the issue of access to suitable accommodation & quarantine facilities for medical workers involved in treating COVID19 patients. A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjay Kishan Kaul & BR Gavai took up the plea pertaining to welfare of medical personnel, especially "doctors, nursing staff, hospital staff, Asha workers, ambulances operators etc." dealing with Coronavirus patients, seeking easily accessible and separate residential facilities for them.

Supreme Court directed the States of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to file an affidavit viz. steps being taken by nodal officers to help migrant workers travel from Mumbai to their native places. A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjay Kishan Kaul & BR Gavai sought directions from the Solicitor General as well, while hearing a plea seeking safe transportation for migrant workers to their homes.

14. SC Seeks Govt.'s Response On Challenge To Non-Payment Of Wages To Tea Garden Workers During COVID Lockdown [International Union of Food Agriculture & Ors. V. Union of India]
The Supreme Court directed the State Government of Assam to respond to a plea seeking payment of wages and ration supplies to Tea Plantation workers within 10 days. A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices Indu Malhotra & Hrishikesh Roy observed that even though the bench is not usually inclined to interfere, it would do so in this case as Assam tea gardens "have a history".


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