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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up

Sanya Talwar
8 Aug 2020 6:20 AM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up
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Week Commencing August 3 to August 10, 2020
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1. 'Comments Were Not Out Of Malice; But Out Of Love & Affection For Court', Says Bhushan As SC Reserves Orders On Contempt Case [In Re Prashant Bhushan & Anr.]

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved orders on the contempt case taken against Advocate Prashant Bhushan over his tweets about the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court. Bhushan defended the tweets by saying that they amounted to fair criticism of the Court, and did not scandalize the institution. Dushyant Dave, Senior Advocate, appearing for Bhushan, submitted before a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai & Krishna Murari : "His comments are not out of malice. If he feels there were certain aspects where the court could have done something differently, it could be taken as a suggestion. His criticism is not out of malice. It's out of love and affection for the court. It's not personal. We all want the court to be stronger. This is what the constitution says regarding the separation of power..citizen may question"

Also Read: SC Dismisses Prashant Bhushan's Petition Challenging Registry's Handling Of Contempt Complaint

Also Read: 'Why Only Certain Judges Get Politically Sensitive Matters?' : Dave Raises Points Of Criticism Against SC In Prashant Bhushan Contempt Case

2. 'Sushant Singh's Father Pursuing Case': SC Dismisses Law Student's Plea For Probe Into Actor's Death [Dwivendra Devtadeen Dubey V. Union of India & Ors.]

The Supreme Court dismissed a plea filed by a law student, seeking for directions to the State of Bihar to transfer the investigation pertaining to the alleged suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput to either CBI or NIA in wake of the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case. A Bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun heard the matter and noted that Rajput's father was already pursuing the case, and that a law student did not have any reason to venture into it.

3. 'You Have Waited For A While, Wait For Another Two Days': SC On Contempt Plea Against Jammu and Kashmir Administration In 4G Restoration Matter [Foundation for Media Professionals V. Union of India & Ors.]

"Answer whether any area is open for restoration of 4G", asked the Supreme Court to the Centre on Friday, while adjourning the contempt petition filed by Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) over the non-constitution of Special Committee to review the ban on 4G speed internet in Jammu and Kashmir. A bench of Justices NV Ramana, R. Subash Reddy & BR Gavai heard the matter and asked Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, whether it was possible to restore 4G internet services in some areas. Court will now take up this issue for further consideration on August 11.

4. [Tablighi Jamaat]Centre Informs SC Of Withdrawal Of Look Out Notices; Court Orders Consolidation Of Trials and Directs Expeditious Disposal [Maulana Ala Hadrami & Ors. V. Union of India & Anr.]

The Centre informed Supreme Court that look out notices issued against foreign nationals for their alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities at Delhi's Nizammuddin Markaz have been withdrawn. Thus, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apprised the Court that all such foreign nationals, who were initially blacklisted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, may leave the country during the pendency of trial against them. Upon being asked about the status of criminal trials, Mehta informed the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar & Dinesh Maheshwari that 10 out of the 34 petitioners had chosen to contest the criminal cases against them instead of opting for a plea bargain. The Court has now listed the matter after 8 weeks, with the expectation that all pending trials will be disposed of by that time, and granted the petitioners liberty to approach Court if required in the interim period.

5. Sushant Singh Rajput Suicide: SC Refuses To Stay Investigation Against Rhea Chakraborty; Says 'Allegations Are Serious' [Rhea Chakraborty V. State of Bihar & Anr.]

The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it has accepted the Bihar Government's recommendation for a CBI probe into the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death case. A bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy refused to grant a stay in the Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty's plea seeking transfer of an FIR filed against her from Patna to Mumbai and the stay on the investigation by the Bihar police on the allegations of Sushant Singh Rajput's father that she abetted suicide of his actor son. The bench granted 3 days to all parties to file reply and sought an update from State of Maharashtra on the Investigation done by Mumbai Police.

6. Yatin Oza Offers Unconditional Apology For His Remarks Against Gujarat HC; SC Says He Has Greater Responsibility As A Leader Of The Bar [Yatin N. Oza V. High Court of Gujarat]

Advocate Yatin Oza, whose senior designation was stripped off by the full court of Gujarat High Court, offered before the Supreme Court to make an unconditional apology to the HC for his remarks against it. Taking note of this, the Supreme Court deferred the hearing of his petition challenging the HC decision for two weeks, expressing the hope that the High Court will consider Oza's representation in the meantime. The bench, headed by Justice S K Kaul, expressed its unhappiness over the remarks of Oza, who is also the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association. "The kind of imputations you made, I don't agree with anything that. If seniors like you begin making such imputations, what about the Juniors who enter the profession?", Justice S K Kaul observed.

7. [Enrica Lexie] Will Not Close Case Against Italian Marines Without Hearing Victims' Families: SC [Massimilano Latore V. Union of India]

The Supreme Court refused to close the pending cases against two Italian Marines, without hearing the families of the victims. The Court asked the Centre to implead the victims in the case and said that they should be paid adequate compensation. "We want you to pay not reasonable but "adequate" compensation. You will bring the cheque here and submit it before this Court. Mr. Mehta, join the victims' families as parties here", a bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

8. 'Absurd': SC Allows To Withdraw Plea Against Rahul & Sonia Gandhi Alleging Agreement Between Congress & Communist Party Of China [Shashank Shekhar Jha V. INC]

The Supreme Court  dismissed as withdrawn, a plea filed against Indian National Congress, Sonia & Rahul Gandhi, seeking details of a an alleged agreement signed in 2008 between the then ruling INC-led party & Communist Party of China. A bench of CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun asked the petitioner to withdraw the petition and approach the High Court & noted that the averments thus made in the petition were somewhat absurd.

9. 'How Can You Use Children For This?': SC Refuses Pre-Arrest Bail To Rehana Fathima In POCSO Case Over Video Showing Her Children Painting On Her Semi-Nude Body [Fathima A.S. V. State of Kerala]

The Supreme Court  refused anticipatory bail to controversial Kerala activist, Rehana Fathima, who was booked over a video showing her children painting on her semi-nude body. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra refused to entertain the plea & expressed disinterest in the matter, raising concerns over the use of children in the video, Justice Mishra said "How can you make use of children for this? What kind of a culture will the children perceive?".

10. [Mass Transit System In Delhi NCR's Forest Area]: SC Gives Green Signal To NCTRC For Construction Of Rail Transit Line Viaduct [Dr. B.L. Wadehra V. Union of India & Ors.]

The Supreme Court allowed the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) to construct a railway line viaduct in the statutory forest area (extending to 1 acre) of Millenium Park in Delhi. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramiun modified its order of 1996 by which the Top Court had refused permissions to initiate development in the said area and allowed the application filed on behalf of the Union seeking construction of a rapid rail transit system viaduct.

11. Palghar Lynching : SC Asks Maharashtra Govt To Submit Chargesheets & Inquiry Details [Mahant Shraddhanand Saraswati V. State of Maharashtra]

The Supreme Court asked the Maharashtra Government to place on record the chargesheets that have been filed in relation to the lynching and consequent death of two Sadhus in Palghar. While considering a clutch of petitions seeking investigation by either the CBI or the NIA into the alleged complicity of the police in the incident, the Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy also sought details regarding the inquiry against the concerned police personnel

12. SC Stays Allahabad HC Order Granting Interim Relief From Arrest To Govt Counsel Accused Of Sexually Harassing Young Lawyer [Shailendra Singh Chauhan V. State of U.P & Ors.]

The Supreme Court stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court to the extent it restrained the UP Police from arresting a government counsel in connection to a rape case lodged against him by a Delhi-based lawyer. The stay order was passed by a Division bench comprised of Justices RF Nariman & Navin Sinha while hearing an SLP against the HC order. Last week, the High Court had granted interim relief from arrest to Additional Chief Standing Counsel in the Lucknow bench of the High Court, Shailendra Singh Chauhan.

13. [EWS Quota] Can Posts Be Reserved Only On The Basis Of Economic Criterion? Is 50% Ceiling Absolute? : SC Refers Substantial Questions Of Law To 5-Judge Bench [Janhit Abhiyan V. Union of India & Ors.]

The Supreme Court  referred a batch of writ petitions, challenging the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) introduced by 103rd Constitution Amendment passed by the Parliament last year, to a five-Judge bench. A bench comprised of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice Subhash Reddy Justice BR Gavai said that the matter involves "substantial questions of law" that should be considered by Bench of five Judges.

14. Right To Property Is A Constitutional As Well As Human Right, Reiterates SC [Hare Krishna Mandir Trust V. State of Maharashtra]

The right to property is still a constitutional right and a human right, reiterated the Supreme Court while allowing an appeal filed by Hari Krishna Mandir Trust in the matter of a land dispute with the Pune Municipal Corporation. The bench comprising Justices Indu Malhotra & Indira Banerjee observed that the right to property includes any proprietary/ hereditary interest in the right of management of a religion endowment, as well as anything acquired by inheritance.

15. [Order VII Rule 10 & 10A CPC] Suit In New Court Has To Proceed De Novo On Return of Plaint: SC [M/S EXL Careers & Anr. V. Frankfinn Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd.]

The Supreme Court has held that, if a plaint is returned under Order VII Rule 10 and 10A of the Code of Civil Procedure for presentation in the court in which it should have been instituted, the suit shall proceed de novo. The bench comprising Justice RF Nariman, Navin Sinha & Indira Banerjee were answering a reference made to it in this regard. Last year, the bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, noticing, apparent conflict between the judgment in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd.v. Modern Construction [(2014) 1 SCC 648] and Joginder Tuli vs. S. L. Bhatia [(1997) 1 SCC 502], had observed that the former needs reconsideration. It was observed that unless a party can prove that it has been actually prejudiced by some proceedings before the Court not having jurisdiction, it would not be in the larger interest to start the proceedings de novo.

16. MBA Degree Not Equivalent To PG Degree/Diploma In Human Resource Management Or Industrial Relations & Labour Legislation: SC [North Delhi Municipal Corporation Vs Kavinder and Others]

The Supreme Court has observed that Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is not equivalent to a post graduate degree or diploma in Social Work, Labour Welfare, Industrial Relations or Personnel Management.  The Apex Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra & KM Joseph observed that the Tribunal was manifestly in error in holding that the candidate was qualified merely because he studied two subjects as a part of his MBA degree programme, namely, Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations and Labour Legislation. 

17. No Advantage To Candidate When The Very Selection Is Illegal: SC Upholds Termination Of 8882 Teachers In Tripura [Ajoy Debbarma and others vs. State of Tripura and others]

The Supreme Court has affirmed the termination of 8,882 ad-hoc teachers in Tripura. The bench comprising Justices UU Lalit & Vineet Saran observed that, as their very selection and appointments were found to be illegal and invalid, no other advantage can be conferred upon the concerned candidates. "In our view, considering the fact that the very selection and appointments were found to be illegal and invalid, no other advantage can be conferred upon the concerned candidates", the bench observed.

18. Promotion May Include An Advancement To Higher Pay Scale Without Moving To Different Post: SC [Rama Nand V. Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT Delhi & Anr.]

Promotion may include an advancement to a higher pay scale without moving to a different post, the Supreme Court bench of Justices SK Kaul, Ajay Rastogi & Aniruddha Bose has reiterated while dismissing the appeals filed by Telephone Operators with the Delhi Fire Service later deployed as Radio Telephone Operators.

19. Interpretation Of Provisions Of Major Port Trusts Act: SC Answers Reference [The Chairman, Board Of Trustees, Cochin Port Trust Vs. M/S Arebee Star Maritime Agencies Pvt. Ltd. & Ors]
A three judge bench of the Supreme Court has answered the reference made to it regarding the interpretation of various provisions of the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. Reference was made to the larger bench of Justices RK Agrawal and DY Chandrachud to Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha & Indira Banerjee while considering a batch of appeals against division bench order of the High Court of Kerala. The issue in this case whether the liability to pay 'ground rent' on containers unloaded at Cochin Port, but not cleared by the consignees/importers and refused to be de-stuffed by the port, on the ground of inadequate storage space, can be imposed on the owners of the 3 vessel/steamer agents beyond the period of 75 days, fixed by the Tariff Authority of Major Ports, a statutory body constituted under Section 47A of the Major Port Trust Act, 1963. 

20. Mere Fact That Crime Is Heinous And That Release Of Prisoner Would Send A Negative Message Not Relevant Factors To Deny Probation :SC [Shor V. State of UP & Anr.]

The Supreme Court has freed a murder convict who served 28 years 08 months and 21 days in prison. The Uttar Pradesh Government had rejected Shor's plea for premature release on the ground that he along with 20 co-accused committed the murder of 11 persons with deadly weapons and injured others. The order passed by the Joint Secretary to the UP Government further stated that "premature release of this kind of prisoner would send a negative message against the justice system in the society". Taking note of Section 2 of the United Provinces Prisoners Release on Probation Act, 1938, the Court observed that the factors that to be taken into account are (i) antecedents (ii) conduct in the prison and (iii) the person, if released, is likely to abstain from crime and lead a peaceable life. Referring to the reasons stated in the order for refusing remission, the bench comprising Justice RF Nariman & Navin Sinha observed that the order has been passed mechanically and without application of mind to Section 2 of the U.P. Act.

21. Stringent Provisions Of NDPS Act Does Not Dispense With The Requirement To Establish A Prima Facie Case Beyond Reasonable Doubt: SC [Gangadhar Alias Gangaram Vs. State Of Madhya Pradesh]

The stringent provisions of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Act do not dispense with the requirements of prosecution to establish a prima facie case beyond reasonable doubt, the Supreme Court has observed today while acquitting an accused. Gangadhar was convicted by the Special Court under Section 8C read with Section 20(b)(ii)(c) of the NDPS Act for recovery of 48 Kgs 200 gms. cannabis (ganja). He was sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment with a default stipulation. The appeal filed by him was dismissed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court. While considering his appeal, the bench comprising of Justices RF Nariman & Navin Sinha noted that the presumption against the accused of culpability under Section 35, and under Section 54 of the Act to explain possession satisfactorily, are rebuttable.

22. Audio Video Recording Of Witness Statements & Installation Of CCTV In Police Stations: SC Directs Centre To File Affidavit Before 7th September [Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh]

The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to file its affidavit before 7th September 2020 on the issues of implementation of audio-video recording of witness statements recorded by a Police officer under Section 161 CrPC and installation of CCTV in Police Stations While considering an SLP filed by one Paramvir Singh Saini last month, the bench headed by Justice RF Nariman, had said that it is important to "follow up" on the directions issued in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh' (2018) 5 SCC 311, with respect to introduction of "videography in investigation".

23. SC Directs Centre To Ensure Proper Care For Senior Citizens Living Alone Amidst COVID-19 [Dr. Ashwani Kumar V. Union of India]

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Central Government to take appropriate steps to ensure that senior citizens who are living alone amidst the COVID-19 pandemic are given proper care. The bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan & R Subhash Reddy recognised the obligation of the Government in taking care and protecting the elderly who live alone, by securing the availability of essential goods and services to them.

24. SC Upholds Conviction Of Man Accused Of Raping Minor Girl; Rejects His Plea That It Was Consensual [Ramvir V. State of NCT Delhi]

The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered last month, upheld the conviction of a man accused of raping a minor in the year 1992. The bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant & Krishna Murari rejected his no offence under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code is made out since the victim was a consenting party. The Court took note of the documents produced by the prosecution and observed that she was a minor during the said incident.

25. 'Totally Impermissible': SC On Custody Of Social Activists Who Supported Bihar Gangrape Survivor; Directs Release [Kalyani Badola & Anr. V. State of Bihar & Ors.]

The Supreme Court issued notice and directed the release of two women social activists who had been sent to judicial custody in Araria district of Bihar on July 10, for allegedly misbehaving and indulging in a verbal argument with the Magistrate of the Araria court, in support of a gangrape survivor. A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai & Krishna Murari heard the matter and issued notice in the same. While directing for the release of the Petitioners on bail on furnishing personal bond for a sum of Rs. 10,000, Justice Mishra orally observed that the order by way of which they had been sent to custody was "totally impermissible".

26. SC Grants Bail To 19-Year Old Arrested 7 Months Ago In UP Over Alleged Violence In Anti-CAA Protests [Faraz V. State of UP]

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to a 19-year old boy, Faraz, who had been arrested in December, 2019 for his alleged involvement in anti-CAA protests in Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh. The bench comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman & Navin Sinha, was considering a Special Leave Petition (SLP) wherein it was contested that 4 of Faraz's co-accused were granted bail by various benches of the Allahabad High Court, based on the same FIR, yet the present petitioner was refused relief.

27. 'When There's A Pandemic, Insurance Companies Can't Keep Their Hands Off', Observes SC [Sachin Jain V. Union of India]

The Centre informed Supreme Court that rates fixed under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme or the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) could be considered as a criterion to stipulate price caps for COVID19 treatment in private hospitals. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Advocate Sachin Jain seeking nationwide cost-regulations for treatment of Coronavirus patients at private and corporate hospitals and took on record an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Health outlining guidelines for states viz. cost regulations. The bench stated that the Centre's reply was satisfactory and that the issue of earmarking caps on cost should be left to individual state Governments. Further to this, the Court also asked the Centre to urge insurance companies to release dues promptly.

28. SC Adjourns Vijay Mallya's Review Plea Against 2017 Order Holding Him Guilty Of Contempt [Vijay Mallya V. SBI]

The Supreme Court adjourned the Review plea filed by fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya against the May 2017 order of the SC holding him guilty of contempt of court for transferring money to his children in violation of the Court's order. A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit presided over the matter and sought for answers as to why the Registry had not listed the Review Petition for the last three years. However, as the Reply to one of the Intervention Applications was not on record.

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