Weekly Legal Updates (11 June to 17 June 2023)

Weekly Legal Updates main objective is to update the legal knowledge of law students, lawyers, academicians and other professionals. If we do not update our legal knowledge regularly, our knowledge become redundant.

Trouble for Rapido, Uber! Supreme Court stays Delhi HC order allowing bike taxis to ply

In a big blow for bike taxi operators, the Supreme Court has stayed Delhi High Court’s order that allowed bike taxis to ply in the capital city. The apex court put on hold the high court’s order that allowed bike taxi aggregators such as Rapido and Uber to operate without aggregator licences till the final policy is notified. 

The Delhi government assured the Supreme Court that it will frame guidelines and the licencing policy for bike aggregators by July 31 in order to regulate their operations.

This decision came after the apex court, last week, sought the Centre’s views on Delhi government’s plea that challenged the high court order. The Delhi High Court stayed a notice to bike taxi aggregator Rapido and allowed it to operate till the final policy is notified. 

The Delhi government, in its plea, said that Uber and Rapido are continuing the use of non-transport vehicles, including two-wheelers, for aggregation and ride pooling – something that is not permissible under the Motor Vehicles Act. 

The Delhi government said that the Delhi Motor Vehicle Aggregator Scheme, 2023 is pending approval from the competent authority. “Plying of the bike taxis by the respondents cannot, among other reasons, be permitted without complying with conditions like police verification, obligations of installing GPS devices, panic buttons, etc. to ensure road safety and safety of the passengers,” the plea said. 

The bench asked Delhi government counsel if the plying bike taxis have private number plates and whether they have permission to work under private number plates. The counsel said that bike taxis must obtain a licence. 

The state government has drafted a policy regarding this and invited public comments. 

The apex court had also pointed out earlier that bike taxis are high risk as there is no insurance cover in case of accidents.

(Courtesy:- Business Today, 12 June 2023)

Army invokes AFSPA to challenge prosecution for tree cutting; court rejects plea

In a first, the Indian Army has invoked the protection under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to challenge its prosecution in a case involving the cutting of trees. 

However, the court has dismissed the Army’s plea, stating that the dispute over tree cutting does not fall within the ambit of the AFSPA.

The legal battle began when Bandipora resident Ghulam Rasool Wani filed a suit seeking compensation for trees that were cut by the Army on his land, which had been taken over by the force in 2001. 

The Union government, relying on the AFSPA, had refused to provide compensation, arguing that no suit can be initiated against the Army without proper sanction from the Central government.

Advocate Karnail Singh, representing the Union government, argued that Section 7 of the AFSPA, prohibits the initiation of any prosecution, suit, or legal proceeding against the Army without prior sanction from the Central government. However, Singh did not dispute the fact that the Army is in possession of the land and regularly pays rent to the landowner.

Advocate Shafeeq Ahmad, representing Wani, argued that the compensation claim pertains solely to the trees and does not fall under any section of the AFSPA. He contended that the armed forces are protected under Section 4 of the AFSPA only for the exercise of powers in the declared disturbed areas.

In a decisive verdict, Principal District Judge Amit Sharma ruled that the suit does not come under the special powers granted by the AFSPA. The court stated that the dispute is purely civil in nature, as the Army obtained the property on a rent basis and documents of possession were executed between the parties. 

“According to view point of this court the status of the defendant in the present set of controversy is not more than the “Tenant” and as a tenant they are not supposed to make any improvement or cut down any trees existing over the land which was rented out to the Army Authorities with effect from 2008. Therefore this kind of dispute nowhere covers under the definition clause a to e of Section (4) of (Armed Forces Special Act). Hence there is no need for the plaintiff to obtain sanction from the central government before filing suit in such types of controversy,” reads the court order.

The court noted that the documents of the land, which has been in the possession of the Army since 2001, also contain information about the number of trees. It further emphasised that as tenants, the Army was not authorized to cut down any existing trees on the rented land. 

Therefore, the plaintiff did not need to obtain government sanction to file the suit.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 12 June 2023)

Madras High Court Files Detailed Report Before Supreme Court On Status Of Toilets For Women Lawyers In Nilgiris Court Complex

The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the listing of the plea concerning lack of toilets for female lawyers at Nilgiris Court Complex before an appropriate Bench in the first week of July, 2023.

On 9th July, 2023, the Apex Court had directed the Madras High Court administration to submit through its Registrar General a detailed report on the issue of lack of toilet complexes for women lawyers in the Nilgiris Court Complex by Sunday, 11th June, 2023. In the said order, the Apex Court noted that while the Registrar General had earlier filed a report in the matter, the same was not a detailed one. It did not specify the facilities for women lawyers were being provided for in the new court complex and as to whether there was any shrinkage of such facilities which were earlier available.

Considering the fact that the Registrar General has submitted a detailed report, on Monday, a Bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Rajesh Bindal recorded in its order –

“In terms of our direction passed on 09.06.2023, the Registrar General of the High Court, Madras has filed a detailed report giving full particulars of the facilities available. As of now the petitioner does not have any grievance. Let this matter be placed before the appropriate Bench first week of July, 2023.”

(Courtesy:- Live Law News Network, 12 June 2023)

Bengaluru Court Dismisses Defamation Complaint Against Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah Over ‘Lingayat CM’ Comment

A private defamation complaint against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah regarding his comment about a “Lingayat chief minister” during the run-up to the recent Assembly elections in the state has been dismissed by a special court in Bengaluru.

The Special Court exclusively to deal with criminal cases related to elected former and sitting MPs/MLAs on Tuesday dismissed the complaint filed for the alleged offences under Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.

The private complaint lodged by Shankar Shet and Mallaiah Hiremath further alleged that Siddaramaiah had defamed the Lingayat community with his answer to the question by a journalist during the Assembly election. The Congress leader was asked if his party would make a Lingayat the Chief Minister if it came to power.

Siddaramaiah allegedly replied that then incumbent CM Basavaraj Bommai was a Lingayat who had indulged in corruption and spoilt the state.

The court in response said that the statement is not made in respect of the entire Lingayat Community, but only in respect of the Chief Minister who was holding the position of Chief Minister, as on the date of the statement.

“The accused has not targeted the members of the Lingayat Community as such nor any imputation has been made against the Lingayat Community as such,” it further said.

(Courtesy:- Outlook, 14 June 2023)

SC refuses urgent hearing of plea against Uttarakhand mahapanchayat

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused an urgent hearing of a petition for preventing a mahapanchayat (assembly of village leaders) Hindu organisations have called on June 15 amid communal tensions in Uttarakhand’s Purola town.

The Uttarakashi district administration on Tuesday denied permission for the mahapanchayat days after posters threatening Muslim traders to shut shops and leave the state by June 15 came up at Purola. The organisers are yet to call it off. Muslim organisations have called their mahapanchayat in Dehradun on June 18.

A bench of justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah disapproved of “short-circuiting” the judicial process and asked the petitioner to approach the Uttarakhand high court first. “This is an administrative issue. Law-and-order is for the administration to handle. You move the high court first. Why should we hear it directly? The high court is there and it will consider your plea,” the bench told advocate Shahrukh Alam, who sought the urgent hearing of the petition of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights.

(Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 14 June 2023)

SC expresses displeasure over failure to update Punjab Civil Services Rules

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over failure to update or amend the Punjab Civil Services Rules, 1934 with correct official description of posts to obviate confusion.

A vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said the rules have not kept pace with the times, and incongruity has crept in due to passage of time.

The Rules, originally framed in 1934, contemplated the authorities as ‘The Inspector-General, a Deputy Inspector-General, and a Superintendent of Police’. “The ‘Inspector-General’ of that time (when the service was called Imperial/Indian Police) headed the State Police, but is today known as, in most States and Union Territories, barring a handful, in the hierarchy of the State Police, as the Director-General of Police, an officer drawn from the Indian Police Service, who sits at the apex of the state police machinery.

“In fact, today the Inspector-General of Police is administratively subordinate to the Director-General of Police and the Additional Director-General of Police. The Rules were also framed at a time when the system of Ranges and Commissionerates had not been established. Indubitably, the Rules, for better or for worse (worse, we hazard) have not kept pace with the times. We do not appreciate why the authorities concerned are unable to update/amend the Rules with at least the correct official description of posts to obviate confusion,” the bench said.

The observation came while dismissing an appeal filed by a man against an order of the Punjab and Haryana high court which restored the order of the Director General of Police, Haryana directing reconstruction of the Annual Confidential Report against him on account of corruption, insubordination and dereliction of duty.

The top court said the DGP had rightly show-caused the appellant and taken subsequent action thereupon.

“Considering the chain of events, the consequential action, in our considered view, cannot be said to be arbitrary or shocking the conscience of the Court, so as to warrant interference.

“For a person in uniformed service, like the police, adverse entry relating to his/her integrity and conduct is to be adjudged by the superior authority who record and approve such entry. Personnel having such remarks being compulsorily retired as per the statutory provisions under the Punjab Civil Services Rules, 1934, in the instant facts, is not an action this court would like to interdict,” the bench said.

(Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 14 June 2023)

Competition Act Applicable To Coal India Ltd : Supreme Court


The Supreme Court held that the Coal India Ltd and its subsidiaries would be bound by the Competition Act, 2002 passed to check abuse of dominant position or differential pricing.

A bench of Justices K M Joseph, B V Nagarathna and Ahsanuddin Amanullah declared that even if the public sector companies operated under the provisions of the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act, 1973 on the principles of ‘common good’ secured by the ‘distribution of scarce resources’, they would
still be subject to the anti monopoly law.

The Bench was hearing petitions by Coal India contending that since it operates Coal Mines covered under the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, it would not come under the Competition Act. The CCI had opposed the plea.

The competition watchdog had earlier, imposed a penalty of over Rs 1,773 crore on Coal India for imposing unfair/discriminatory conditions in Fuel Supply Agreements with the power of producers for supply of non-coking coal.

(Courtesy:- Deccan Herald, 15 June 2023)

Unitech Promoter’s Wife’s Bail Order Stayed By Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday imposed an interim stay on a Delhi High Court order granting bail to Preeti Chandra, the wife of Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra, in a money laundering case.

A vacation bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal issued notice to Preeti Chandra on Enforcement Directorate’s plea challenging the Delhi HC order.

“Till further orders, operation of the impugned order dated June 14, 2023 shall remain stayed. At this stage, counsel for the respondent states that the respondent may be granted liberty to apply for temporary bail on health grounds.

“As and when such an application is moved, the same shall be considered in accordance with law,” the bench said.

At the outset, Additional Solictor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for ED, informed the court that the bail order was kept in abeyance on ground of challenge before the apex court.

The high court had on June 14 granted bail to Chandra and said the order will not take effect till June 16, after the Enforcement Directorate sought time to challenge it.

The ED had registered the present case in 2018 under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against the Unitech Group and its promoters over allegations that the owners – Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra – illegally diverted over ₹ 2,000 crore to Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

(Courtesy:- NDTV, 16 June 2023)

*Disclaimer: – Always check with the original copy of judgment from the Court website.

Legal News in this Weekly Legal Update are compiled by Team www.deepakmiglani.com

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