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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up

Sanya Talwar
19 July 2020 2:03 PM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up

Week Commencing July 13 to July 19, 2020

1. Vikas Dubey Encounter: SC Hints At Appointment Of Committee For Probe [Ghanshyam Upadhyay V. Union of India]

The Supreme Court on Tuesday orally remarked that it was inclined to appoint a Committee headed by a Retired Judge, just as it had done on earlier occasion in the Hyderabad Encounter Case. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, N. Subhash Reddy & AS Bopanna also granted time to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for State of Uttar Pradesh to file a reply in the plea seeking a CBI monitored investigation into the alleged encounter of accused Vikas Dubey and his three aides on July 10. In light of this, the matter was listed for further consideration on July 20.

2. J&K 4G Ban : No Contempt As Special Committee Already Constituted; Decision Taken, AG Tells SC [Foundation for Media Professionals V. Union of India & Ors.]

The Supreme Court granted one week time to the Centre and UT of Jammu & Kashmir to file their reply in the plea seeking contempt alleging non-compliance of the May 11 judgment of the Supreme Court, which had directed that a "Special Committee" be constituted to "immediately" to determine the necessity of continued restriction of mobile internet speeds in Jammu & Kashmir to 2G only. A bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy & BR Gavai refused to issue notice in the petition filed by Foundation for Media Professionals alleging contempt for the inaction of Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Chief Secretary, U.T. of Jammu & Kashmir.

3. 'Matter Must Be Left To Local Administration' : SC Refuses To Entertain Plea To Stop Amarnath Yatra Amid COVID-19 [Sri Amarnath Barfani Langars Organisation V. Union of India & Ors]

Expressing regard for the principle of "separation of powers", the Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking to stop the Amarnath Yatra this year citing the risk of COVID-19. A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra & K M Joseph said that local administration was better equipped to take a decision on the matter. Accordingly, the bench left the matter to be decided by the local administration in accordance with statutory guidelines. "Matter must be left to competence of Local Administration, keeping in mind the Statutory Provisions", the bench ordered.

4. Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Case : SC Upholds 'Shebait' Rights Of Erstwhile Royal Family Of Travancore [Sri Marthanda Varma & Anr. V. State Of Kerala & Ors.]

The Supreme Court upheld the rights of erstwhile royal family of Travancore in the administration of Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram. Allowing the appeal filed by members of the Travancore family, a bench of Justices UU Lalit & Indu Malhotra reversed the finding of the High Court of Kerala that the rights of family ceased to exist with the death of the last ruler of the Travancore in 1991. The death of the last ruler will not result in escheat of the rights in favour of the government.

5. 'He Is 73; Detention Period About To Expire' : SC Seeks To Know Basis For Continued Detention Of J&K Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom [Mian Abdul Qayoom V. Union of India]

The Supreme Court adjourned the plea filed by Senior Advocate and J&K Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom, which challenged the 28th May, 2020 Order of the J&K High Court which had dismissed his habeas corpus petition and upheld his detention under the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978. A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul & BR Gavai heard the matter and allowed Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta to seek instructions on the issue and to respond regarding the reasons for prolonging detention. Accordingly, they adjourned the plea to July 23rd.

6. Disabled Entitled To The Same Benefits As Given To SC-ST Candidates: SC [Aryan Raj Vs. Chandigarh Administration]

The Supreme Court has observed that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward and are thus entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes candidates. While considering an appeal against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order, the bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said that it is 'following' the principle laid down in the Delhi High Court's judgment in Anamol Bhandari (Minor) through his father/Natural Guardian v. Delhi Technological University 2012 (131) DRJ 583.

7. When A Person Refuses To Issue Certificate Under Section 65B(4) Of Evidence Act, Court Must Order Its Production: SC [Arjun P. Khotkar V. Kailash K. Gorantyal & Ors.]

The Supreme Court has observed that application can be made to the trial court to direct a person to produce the certificate under Section 65B(4) of Evidence Act on the refusal of such person to produce the same otherwise. The bench comprising of Justices RF Nariman, S. Ravindra Bhat & V. Ramasubramaniam observed that a Court may in appropriate cases allow the prosecution to produce such certificate at a later point in time. The court observed thus in the case Arjun Panditrao Khotkar vs Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal while holding that the certificate required under Section 65B(4) is a condition precedent to the admissibility of evidence by way of electronic record.

8. How To Prove Execution Of Will When Both Attesting Witnesses Are Dead ? SC Explains [V. Kalyanaswamy (D) By LR's. Vs. L. Bakthavatsalam (D) By LR's]

The Supreme Court, in a judgment has held that, in a situation where both the attesting witnesses to a will are dead, it is sufficient to prove that the attestation of at least one attesting witness is in his handwriting. The issue in the appeal before the Apex court bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul & KM Joseph was whether is it still the requirement of law when both the attesting witnesses are dead that: under Section 69 of the Evidence Act, the attestation as required under Section 63 of the Indian Succession Act, viz., attestation by the two witnesses has to be proved? or Is it sufficient to prove that the attestation of at least one attesting witness is in his handwriting, which is the literal command of Section 69 of the Evidence Act apart from proving the latter limb? Answering this issue, the court noted that Section 69 of the Evidence Act manifests a departure from the requirement embodied in Section 68 of the Evidence Act.

9. Validity Of Remission Policy Allowing Premature Release Of Life Convicts Aged Above 75: SC Refers Matter To Constitution Bench [Pyare Lal V. State of Haryana]

A three judge bench headed by Justice UU Lalit has referred to a larger bench an important legal issue about the validity of Haryana Government's policy allowing premature release of life convicts aged above 75 which overrides Section 433A of Code of Criminal Procedure. The court was considering a case of a murder convict (sentenced to life imprisonment) who was released after completing 8 years of actual sentence invoking a remission policy framed by the State.

10. Plea Assailing Re-Commencement Of Physical Hearings & Filings In Kerala HC: SC Asks SG To Seek Instructions From HC [PG Aravind V. State of Kerala & Anr.]

The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Solicitor General to seek instructions from the Kerala High Court in a plea seeking quashing of Notice by the High Court, which mandates re-commencement of physical filings of applications/petitions, except bail pleas w.e.f. July 6 and for physical appearances except before Single Judges. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul & MR Shah, though initially was not inclined to entertain the plea and asked the Petitioner to approach the Kerala High Court, it subsequently took note of the Counsel's submission that the mandate could not be effectuated in light of the Coronavirus-induced situation.

11. Audio Video Recording Of Examination of Witnesses By Police U/S 161CrPC And Installation Of CCTV Cameras In Police Stations: SC Issues Notice To Home Ministry [Paramjit Singh Saini V. Baljit Singh Saini & Ors.]

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on a petition seeking implementation of audio-video recording of witness statements recorded by a Police officer under Section 161 CrPC. A bench comprised by Justice RF Nariman, Justice Navin Sinha & Justice BR Gavai has issued notice to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The bench said that it is important to "follow up" on the directions issued by the Top Court in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh' (2018) 5 SCC 311, with respect to introduction of "videography in investigation".

12. SC Issues Notice In Plea Seeking Guidelines For Time-Bound Disposal Of Clemency & Mercy Petitions [Dr. Vijayran V. Union Of India & Ors.]

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice in a plea seeking directions for issuance of guidelines via-à-vis disposal of clemency/mercy writ petitions and resultant execution of death sentence in a time bound manner. Notice was issued by a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde & Justices R. Subhash Reddy & AS Bopanna in the petition filed by Advocate Dr. Subhash Vijayran, highlighting the irregularities in deciding writ petitions across high courts while particularly focussing on the case of the two child-murderer sisters "Renuka and Seema" convicted of murdering 5 children in a depraved manner.

13. SC Holds NHAI Liable To Compensate Accident Death Caused By Failure To Prevent Illegal Mining Along NH [The Director General NHAI V. Aam Aadmi Lokmanch]

The Supreme Court has upheld an order passed by the National Green Tribunal directing the National Highways Authority of India to pay compensation to legal representatives of a woman and her daughter who died in an accident while travelling through a National Highway. A bench of Justices RF Nariman, S. Ravindra Bhat & V. Ramasubramaniam considered the issue whether the NHAI, which owns and controls the highway, led to a duty of care to the users of the highway.

14. Amish Devgan: SC Directs Parties To File Response In Plea Seeking Quashing of FIRs For Derogatory Remarks Against Sufi Saint [Amish Devgan V. Union of India & Ors.]

The Supreme Court adjourned the plea seeking quashing of FIRs against Journalist Amish Devgan for making derogatory remarks against Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chishti due to pleadings being incomplete. A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari & Sanjiv Khanna sought the response of all parties within a week, including the de facto complainants. One of the de facto Complainant's who had filed the FIR against Devgan refused to accept service and the bench stated that the said Respondent shall be "deemed to be served" and that the bench shall proceed ex parte. Further to this, one other complainant who had been served via whatsapp as well as speed post did not appear before the bench

15. SC Seeks Preliminary Report For Closure Of Corruption Case By CBI In Hindustan Zinc's Disinvestment [National Confederation of Officers Association Of Central PSE's V. Union of India]

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stated that it shall examine as to why the Central Bureau of Investigation took the decision of closing the its probe into allegations of corruption into disinvestment of the Government's shares in Hindustand Zinc Limited in 2002. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, R. Subhash Reddy & AS Bopanna asked the CBI to place the closure report before Top Court, adding that while a report had been handed over to the Court in a sealed cover, a final decision with reasoning was not. In light of this, the Court directed that the preliminary report be placed on record and listed the matter for further consideration after two weeks.

16. SC Issues Notice In Jharkhand Govt's Plea Against Centre's Coal Block Auction [State of Jharkhand V. Union of India]

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice in the plea filed by Jharkhand Government against the launch of auction process of coal blocks for purposes of commercial mining by the Prime Minister. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, N Subhash Reddy & AS Bopanna while issuing notice in the matter stated that apart from being inclined to hear the case, it is also inclined to hear the issue on the plea for injunction against the coal block auctioneering.

17. COVID-19 Lockdown : SC Issues Notice On Plea To Allow Advocates To Advertise, Take Up Other Works [Chanderjeet Chanderpal V. BCI & Ors.]

The Supreme Court on Tuesday Tuesday issued notice in a plea seeking issuance of directions to the Bar Council of India to permit use of advertisements for lawyers till March 2021, allow public listings so that other para-legal work can be taken up by them to earn their livelihood in light of the pandemic situation and allow alternative means of sustenance. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, N. Subhash Reddy & AS Bopanna issued notice to the Bar Council of India. The notice is returnable in 2 weeks.

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