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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up

Sanya Talwar
6 Sep 2020 5:56 AM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up
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Week Commencing August 31, 2020 To September 6, 2020
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Top Stories This Week:

1. SC Sentences Prashant Bhushan To A Fine Of Rupee One In The Contempt Case Over His Two Tweets [In Re: Prashant Bhushan & Anr.]

In the contempt case taken by the Supreme Court against Prashant Bhushan for his two tweets, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Monday sentenced him to pay a fine of Rupee One, which is to be deposited with the Supreme Court Registry within September 15. In case of default to deposit, Bhushan will have to undergo imprisonment for three months and will be debarred from practice in SC for three years. The Court further deprecated Bhushan for publicizing his statements in media before they were considered by the bench.

2. SC Grants 10 Years Period For Telecos To Clear AGR Dues; First 10% To Be Paid By March 2021 [UOI V. Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India]

The Supreme Court has held that the telecom companies who are liable to pay AGR dues shall make payment of 10% of the dues by March 31, 2021. A bench headed by Justices Arun Mishra rejected the prayer of the Department of Telecommunication seeking payments by telecom companies in a staggered fashion spanning over 20 years and instead allowed the telcos to make payments in a period spanning 10 years. Court further held that "In case of any default in making payment of annual instalments, interest would become payable as per agreement along with the penalty and interest on penalty and would be punishable by contempt of court." On the issue of whether spectrum can be a subject matter of resolution process, the Justice Mishra led bench stated that it has asked the NCLT to decide the same.

Also Read: AGR Case : SC Asks DoT To Complete Assessment Of Liability In Cases Of Spectrum Trading

3. Accounts Not Declared NPAs As On August 31, Not To Be Declared As NPAs Till Matter Is Disposed Of: Supreme Court [Gajendra Sharma V. UOI & Anr.]

The Supreme Court protected those accounts from being declared as Non-performing Assets (NPAs) which were not classified as NPAs on August 31 till case is disposed off. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy & MR Shah was hearing plea(s) seeking extension of the Covid19 induced loan moratorium & waiver of accruing interest. While adjourning the case for a week, the court granted protection to petitioners to the extent of not being declared as NPA's till the case is disposed off. The case will now be heard on Thursday, September 10.

4. NEET-JEE: SC Dismisses Review Petition Filed By 6 State Ministers Seeking Postponement Of Exams [Moloy Ghatak & Ors. V. NTA]

The Supreme Court dismissed the review petition filed by six ministers from six different states against the August 17 order dismissing pleas to postpone NEET-JEE exams scheduled in September. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari dismissed the petition filed by 6 ministers, each from West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Jharkhand, after a hearing held in chambers.

5. "Has Become A Trend Now": SC Stays Disciplinary Proceedings Against Madhya Pradesh District Judge On Account Of Sexual Harassment Allegations [Shambhoo Singh V. HC Madhya Pradesh]

The Supreme Court issued notice & also stayed disciplinary proceedings against a Senior District Judge from Madhya Pradesh on account of sexual harassment charges levelled against him by a woman judicial officer in 2018. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun while issuing notice on the petition remarked that filing complaints against judges had become a "trend" and that it was a deplorable practice.

6. 'This Is No Small Case': SC Refuses Bail To 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots Accused Sajjan Kumar [Sajjan Kumar V. UOI]

The Supreme Court refused to grant bail to ex-Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti Sikh riots case. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramanium stated that his appeal against conviction will be heard once top court starts physical hearings. Bench also refused his hospitalisation, stating that medical reports suggest that he doesn't require any.

7. [CBSE Compartment Exam] SC Directs CBSE To File Affidavit Stipulating Scheme, Dates & Details; Hearing On September 10 [Anika Samvedi V. UOI]

The Supreme Court took up for hearing, the petition against CBSE's decision to conduct compartment examination for students of classes X and XII, tomorrow. A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna directed the CBSE to file an affidavit in reply by September 7, clearly stipulating the scheme of the examination and the way it is to be conducted & listed the matter for further consideration on September 10.

8. SC Orders Removal Of 48,000 Slum Dwellings Around Delhi Rail Tracks In 3 Months; Stops Courts From Granting Stay [MC Mehta V. UOI]

The Supreme Court has ordered the removal of nearly 48,000 slum dwellings around the 140-kilometer length of railway tracks in New Delhi within three months, and has further directed that no court should grant any stay on the removal of the slums. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, in an order passed on August 31, further stated "In case any interim order is granted with respect to encroachments, which have been made along with railway tracks, that shall not be effective". The order was passed in the M C Mehta case, in which the apex court had been passing a slew of directions from time to time since 1985 in issues related to pollution in and around Delhi.

9. Tablighi Jamaat Foreigners- SC Allows Transfer of Pending Trials in UP; Directs HC to Designate Specific Courts for Expeditious Disposal [M. Hadrami V. UOI]

The Supreme Court allowed the consolidation of multiple FIRs from Uttar Pradesh against foreign nationals for their alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities and agreed to transfer pending trials before specified courts.  The Bench comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna ordered the State Government to approach the Principal Bench of Allahabad High Court with an application to decide which, and how many, courts would take up the trials pending across various zones in UP. The Court also directed the High Court to identify the specific court(s) within a period of one week where all the matters may be listed for hearing.

Judgments This Week:

1. [Anti Dumping Duty] Judicial Review Should Not Be Exercised Virtually As A Continuous Oversight Of Designated Authority Functions: SC [The Designated Authority V. The Andhra Petrochemicals Ltd.]

Judicial review should not be exercised virtually as a continuous oversight of the DA's functions, observed the Supreme Court while setting aside orders passed by Telengana High Court issuing directives to Designated Authority.  Vide these orders, the High Court had issued specific directions for anti-dumping investigation into articles imported from European Union, initiated contempt against Designated Authority and also directed the replacement of the incumbent DA.

2. [Giving & Fabricating False Evidence] Private Complaints Alleging Offences U/Sec 191 & 192 IPC Not Maintainable When It Is Committed In Relation To Court Proceedings: SC 

The Supreme Court has held that a private complaint under Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be filed alleging offences under Section 191 [Giving false evidence] and 192 [Fabricating false evidence] of the Indian Penal Code, even if false evidence is created outside the Court premises. The bench comprising Justices RF Nariman and Navin Sinha observed that the offence punishable under these sections does not have to be committed only in any proceeding in any Court but can also be an offence alleged to have been committed in relation to any proceeding in any Court.

3. Serving Judicial Officers Cannot Club Their Previous Experience As Advocates To Claim Eligibility For Elevation As HC Judges: SC [R. Poornima & Ors. V. UOI & Ors.]

The Supreme Court has observed that serving Judicial Officers cannot invoke Explanation (a) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India to club with their judicial service, the experience that they had at the Bar before joining judicial service, to claim eligibility for considering them for elevation as High Court judges. The bench comprising the Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna V. Ramasubramanian observed that such a benefit of clubbing can be allowed only to a person who held a judicial office and later became an advocate.

4. Prevention Of Food Adulteration Act - No Violation Of Labelling Regulations If Relevant Information Traceable From Barcode: SC [Raghav Gupta V. State (NCT Delhi)]

The Supreme Court has quashed a prosecution for alleged violation of Rule 32(e) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 after noting that the relevant information about the batch of the product was available in the barcode affixed to it. Rule 32 mandates that every package of food should carry a label giving out information about the manufacturer, batch of the product, description of the food and its ingredients etc.

Other Important Updates:

1. SC Upholds Registry's Refusal To Register Application Seeking Recall Of Contempt Judgment In Vijay Kurle Case; Imposes Rs. 25K Costs On Rashid Khan Pathan [Rashid Khan Pathan In the Matter of In Re: Vijay Kurle & Ors.]

Repeated filing of applications which are not maintainable amounts to abuse of process of law, the Supreme Court observed while dismissing the appeal filed by Rashid Khan Pathan against the refusal by the Registry to register his application seeking recall of the order sentencing him for contempt. The bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose observed that the instant application for recall filed is an abuse of process of Court and thus dismissed the appeals with exemplary costs of Rs.25,000/-

2. SC Issues Directions For Protection Of Shivlinga At Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar Temple [Sarika V. Administrator, Mahakaleshwar Mandir Committee, Ujjain & Ors]

The Supreme Court issued directions to the Temple Management Committee for the preservation of Shivling in the Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain as there is erosion of Shivlinga taking place there. The Court has directed the State Government to sanction a fund towards the comprehensive plan of necessary repairs, maintenance and improvements to the Collector immediately. The Court also directed Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) Roorkee to if necessary, and submit a project report as per its proposal dated 17.09.2019. CBRI, Roorkee, is directed to submit a project report regarding structural stability within six months. The court has also directed the Central Government to pay the CBRIA, a sum of Rs. 41.30 Lakhs, as required.

3. Appeal Against NCDRC Order Passed In Execution Proceedings Not Maintainable U/Sec 23 Consumer Protection Act: SC [M/s Ambience Infrastructure Private Limited vs. Ambience Island Apartment Owners]

The Supreme Court has observed that an appeal before it against an order which has been passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in the course of execution proceedings is not maintainable. M/s Ambience Infrastructure Private Limited was directed by the NCDRC to pay to the complainants 70% of the maintenance charges from November 2002 with interest at 9 % per annum within 90 days or else pay at an enhanced rate of 12 % per annum. This order was passed in the Execution Petition. The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph noted the judgment in Karnataka Housing Board vs K.A. Nagamani (2019) 6 SCC 424, which had made a distinction between execution proceedings and original proceedings and held that the former are separate and independent.

4. Migrant Workers Case : SC Pulls Up Delhi & Maharashtra For Not Filing Affidavit Showing Compliance Of Welfare Statutes [In Re: Problems & Miseries of Migrant Workers]

The Supreme Court pulled up the State Governments of Maharashtra and NCT of Delhi for not filing affidavits regarding the implementation of statutes for the welfare of migrant workers in compliance with its July 31 Order. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah communicated that their previous Order was passed with a view to ascertain the manner in which States were taking action with regard to helping migrant workers.

5. Delhi Air Pollution: SC Directs Completion Of Smog Towers Construction In 10 Months [MC Mehta V. UOI]

The Supreme Court has granted ten months for that the completion of the construction of smog towers in Delhi for the purpose of curbing air pollution. This was after the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and the Department of Environment & Forests, Government of NCT of Delhi undertook before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra that the work will be completed within 10 months.

6. SC Issues Notice On Plea Challenging AP HC Verdict Quashing Govt Decision To Convert Govt Schools To English Medium [State of Andhra Pradesh V. Srinivas Guntapalli]

The Supreme Court issued notice in a plea challenging the Andhra Pradesh HC Order which had quashed Government Orders seeking to implement English as a compulsory medium of instruction at primary level in all the Government Schools in the state. While declining the plea for interim stay on the HC order today, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph & Indu Malhotra said that the prayer for interim stay will be considered on September 25.

7. SC Issues Notice On Indira Jaising's Plea Seeking Calling Of Applications For Senior Designation As Per Guidelines [Indira Jaising V. Secretary General, Supreme Court]

The Supreme Court issued notice in an Application filed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising praying for implementation of 2018 Guidelines formulated by the Supreme Court for designating Senior Advocates. A Bench comprising of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee heard the matter and proceeded to issue notice in the same.

8. 'Where Do We Draw The Line?': SC Dismisses Plea By Women Officers Completing 14 years In Service After Cut-Off Date For Extension Of Commission [Secretary, Ministry of Defence V. Babita Puniya]

The Supreme Court dismissed a plea filed by women officers who completed 14 years in service after the cut-off date applicable in the judgment dated February 17 directing that Permanent Commission should be granted to women in army regardless of their service, in all the ten streams. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph & Indu Malhotra observed that to allow the plea for a batch of officers who had completed 14 years in March 2020 for acquiring eligibility to avail permanent commission and other benefits would have serious implications.

9. "Go To Appropriate Forum"- SC Refuses to Entertain Netflix Appeal Against Bihar Order Restraining Use of Subrata Roy's Name in Web Series [Netflix V. Sahara]

The Supreme Courtrefused to entertain OTT platform Netflix's petition against a local Bihar Court's Order restraining the use of Subrata Roy's name in the upcoming web series 'Bad Boy Billionaires'. The Bench presided over by CJI SA Bobde asked Netflix to approach the appropriate forum for relief and stated that the Supreme Court was not that forum. Appearing for the OTT platform, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi informed Court that the series was due to be released today which necessitated an urgent hearing.

10. SC Refuses Bail To Teen Accused of Killing Minor In Gurugram School In 2017 [Bholu V. CBI]

The Supreme Court refused to grant bail to a teenager accused of killing a 7-year old boy at a Gurugram school in 2017. A 3-judge bench comprising of Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee found no grounds to interfere with the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had denied bail for the accused in June this year.

11. We Hope And Trust That The Appointments To NCDRC Shall Be Made Soon: SC Extends Term Of NCDRC Member By One Month [Kudrat Sandhu V. Union of India]

We hope and trust that the appointments to NCDRC shall be made soon, said the Supreme Court while extending term of a a Member of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) for one month. NCDRC Member Prem Narayan was due to retire on 30.8.2020 on completion of his term. He had filed a miscellaneous application in a writ petition [Kudrat Sandhu vs Union Of India] titled seeking extension of his term till the regular appointments are made. The said writ petition was disposed of by the Constitution Bench by upholding the constitutional validity of Section 184 of the Finance Act 2017, which empowers the Central Government to frame rules relating to appointment and service conditions of members of various tribunals. The court had also struck down the Rules already framed by the Central Government under Section 184, and directed the formulation of new rules. It was also directed that the appointments of members of the tribunals should be carried out as per their respective parent Acts till the Centre comes up with new rules under Section 184.

12. SC Keeps Calcutta HC Order Regulating Fees Of Private Unaided Minority Educational Institutions In Abeyance; Directs Petitioners To Seek Recall [LA Martiniere For Boys School & Ors. B. Vineet Ruia & Ors.]

The Supreme Court disposed of a SLP preferred by a bunch of private unaided minority educational institutions against an order of the Calcutta High Court restricting them from prohibiting students from participating in the online examinations, for non-payment of fees. A 3-Judge Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah has directed the Petitioners to approach the High Court seeking recall of the order.

13. SC Dismisses TN Judicial Officers' Petition Challenging Non-Consideration Of Their Names For Elevation As Madras HC Judges [R. Poornima & Ors. V. UOI]

The Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition filed by eight judicial officers who alleged that the Madras High Court collegium ignored their names and instead recommended their "juniors" for elevation as judges of the High Court. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde, and Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian held that the petitioners' claims were not sustainable.

14. SC Accepts SBI CAP Funding for 6 Amrapali Projects [Bikram Chatterji & Ors. V. UOI & Ors.]

The Supreme Court has accepted the funding arrangements proposed by SBI Capital with regard to 6 unfinished Amrapali projects. SBI will release approximately Rs. 625 crore towards the completion of 6 shortlisted projects, namely Silicon City- 1, Silicon City- 2, Crystal Homes, Centurial Park- Lowrise, Centurial Park- O2 Valley and Centurial Park- Tropical Gardens. The Supreme Court has clarified that the funding of these projects, which cover a total of 6973 units, will be provided according to the "Collection Milestones" model, as per the suggestion made by SBI CAP's counsel, senior advocate Harish Salve.

15. Everyone Is To Blame: SC Raises Concerns About Adhocism Prevailing In Appointment Of Teachers & Lecturers [Sanjay Singh & Ors. V. State of UP & Ors.]

The Supreme Court has raised its concerns about the adhocism prevailing in the appointment of teachers and lecturers. "The present dispute is a reflection of the mess in the education system where starting from the primary level to the highest level adhocism seems to prevail in the appointment of teachers and lecturers in turn having consequences for the students who need to benefit from the best education process. That has not been so.", the bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph said.

16. SC Issues Notice To UP Govt In Plea Challenging Amendment To Law Of Appointment Of Teachers To Minority Educational Institutions [Committee of Management Hafiz Mohammad Siddique Islamia Inter College & Anr.]

The Supreme Court issued notice to the State of Uttar Pradesh in a plea challenging Government Orders which amended the state law regarding appointment of teaching staff in minority aided institutions. While the Court granted special leave to appeal against an Allahabad High Court Order which had upheld the validity of UP Government's action, the interim prayer for stay was refused.

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