Weekly Legal Updates (12 November to 18 November 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.

Can’t call lustful affairs without divorce live-in relationship: High Court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the relationship of a person living a “lustful and adulterous life” with a woman during subsistence of his earlier marriage without obtaining valid decree of divorce from his spouse does not fall within the phrase of ‘live-in relationship’ or ‘relationship’ in the nature of marriage.

The assertion came as Justice Kuldeep Tiwari dismissed a petition filed by a couple seeking protection of their lives and liberty. Directions were also sought from the state and other respondents against falsely implicating them in any false criminal case at the behest of friends and relatives. The couple, during the course of hearing, told the Bench that they have been in a ‘live-in relationship’ since September. Their relationship had been accepted by the boy’s family. But it had caused grievance to the girl’s family. As a result, her family had threatened to kill them. As such, they were apprehending danger to their lives and liberty and were constrained to approach the court for protection of their live and liberty.

Justice Tiwari observed the girl in the live-in relationship was unmarried. But the boy had been married and a child born out of the wedlock, now two, was residing with him. The petition mentioned the fact regarding the institution of a divorce case before Patiala family court. But the ultimate fate of the divorce case was not disclosed in the petition, impelling the court to draw an inference that the matter was still subjudice.

“Therefore, without obtaining any valid decree of divorce from his earlier spouse and during subsistence of his earlier marriage, the petitioner-boy is living a lustful and adulterous life with the petitioner-girl, which may constitute an offence punishable under Sections 494 and 495 of the IPC (offence of bigamy). As such, the relationship does not fall within the phrase of ‘live-in relationship’ or ‘relationship’ in the nature of marriage,” Justice Tiwari observed.

In his detailed order, Justice Tiwari added only bald and vague allegations regarding threats being extended to the petitioners by the private respondents were made. Supportive material was not placed on record by the petitioners to corroborate their allegations.

Besides, not even a single instance was mentioned pertaining to the manner and mode of alleged threats being extended to the petitioners. As such, bald and vague allegations could not be readily and naively accepted by the court in the absence of valid and convincing supporting material. The petition, on the face of it, was instituted to avoid criminal prosecution in case of adultery.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 13 November 2023)

High Court quashes FIR against dera chief for hurting religious sentiments

Just over eight months after a case was registered against self-professed spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan for allegedly insulting religious sentiments under Section 295-A of the IPC, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed the FIR. Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul also quashed all consequential proceedings.

Justice Kaul’s Bench was told that the petitioner during a satsang on February 28, 2016, provided an “illustrative incident” involving Sant Kabir Das and Guru Ravidas, forming the core of the FIR registered on March 7 at Patara police station in Jalandhar district.

Justice Kaul observed the only question for the court’s consideration was whether the discourse on an incident involving Sant Kabir Das and Guru Ravidas would fall within the purview of Section 295-A so as to term it blasphemous.

Justice Kaul asserted Section 295-A did not impose penalty for every act of insult. It only specifically penalised deliberate and aggravated acts of insult aimed at outraging religious feelings of the community. For bringing a charge under Section 295-A, it was required to be demonstrated that the insult was intentional, meant solely to insult someone and was driven by a malicious motive.

A mild criticism or some expression that did not grossly offend the religious sensibilities of a community could not be criminalised. The provisions were intended to strike a balance between the freedom of speech and the protection of religious sentiments.

Justice Kaul added the court on careful scrutiny did not find evidence of any distortion or misrepresentation “within the incident relating to the life of Sant Kabir Das”. The narrative did not appear to insult the religious sentiments or beliefs of any specific group, as it was deeply rooted in the historical resources.

The gist of the stories by the petitioner during his discourse and historical texts annexed with the petition was the same. Evidence of malice or deliberate intent to harm any individual or community while delivering the discourse was not discernible.

The petitioner used local colloquial terms, but that would not imply disrespect, malice or intentional affront to the followers of Sant Kabir Das and Guru Ravidas.

Justice Kaul added the entire discourse, including its theme and context, was required to be considered and not just selective excerpts. The complainant in the case, while lodging the FIR, selectively extracted disconnected segments of the discourse and presented them without proper context.

“Neither the state, nor the complainant contested the contents of the historical texts annexed with the petition. Since the narrative is not a product of the petitioner’s imagination and does not contain any exaggerated elements, it cannot be said to have been delivered with any malicious intent,” Justice Kaul asserted.

Sec 295-A explained

Justice Kaul asserted Section 295-A did not impose penalty for every act of insult. It only specifically penalised deliberate and aggravated acts of insult aimed at outraging religious feelings of the community. A mild criticism or some expression that did not grossly offend the religious sensibilities of a community could not be criminalised.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 13 November 2023)

SC expunges remarks made by High Court against sitting judge 6 yrs ago

The Supreme Court has expunged certain adverse remarks made by the Gauhati High Court against its sitting judge’s verdict he delivered as a special NIA court judge in a terror case six years ago.

While acquitting several men convicted under various provisions of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the trial court, the HC had made “certain disparaging remarks” against him in its order, forcing the special judge, who has since been elevated to the HC, to move the top court.

“We are of the opinion that the adverse observations against the petitioner as contained in paragraphs 130, 190,191, 192, 193,194 and 233 and in any other portion of the order are treated as expunged and shall not be held against the petitioner in any manner,” a Bench said. The case was heard without disclosing the identity of the petitioner judge.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 13 November 2023)

Insult an offence under SC/ST Act if in public view: Punjab and Haryana High Court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that insult or intimidation towards individuals will not be considered offences under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act unless such acts are directed at a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. The judgment emphasises that another crucial element of the provisions is that the insult or intimidation must occur in a place within public view.

“The insult or intimidation to a person will not be an offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of the victim belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe and further another important key ingredient of the provisions is that the insult or intimidation should be in any place within public view,” Justice Deepak Gupta asserted.

Justice Gupta elaborated the accused must know that the complainant or the aggrieved person is a member of Scheduled Caste/Schedules Tribe. Besides, the intentional insult or intimidation or abusing must be in any public place within the public view.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 14 November 2023)

Rs 10,000 per tooth mark compensation in dog bite cases, rules Punjab and Haryana High Court

In a significant ruling, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday directed that the state government shall be primarily responsible for paying compensation to victims of dog bites, adding that the minimum financial assistance would be Rs 10,000 per tooth mark.

“When the flesh is removed from the skin, the compensation will be at least Rs 20,000 per 0.2 cm wound,” the court ruled. The ruling came during a hearing on a batch of petitions pertaining to dog bite incidents.

Disposing of a batch of 193 petitions, the high court also mandated the governments of Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh to set up committees headed by the deputy commissioners of the respective districts to determine such compensation.

“The award should be issued by the Committees within four months of the filing of the claims along with the necessary documents… The State shall be primarily responsible for paying the compensation, to the defaulting agencies of the state, from the resources of the state. with the right to recover, or a private person,” a single bench of Justice Vinod S Bharadwaj ruled.

The ruling assumes significance at a time when dog bite cases have been on the rise across the country.

Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh has been topping the charts when it comes to such cases, as no less than 70-80 dog bite incidents are reported daily and 150-180 injections are administered every day to victims of such incidents, according to data shared by the state government recently.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 14 November 2023)

Kerala court gives death sentence to convict in Aluva rape and murder case

A court in Kerala on Tuesday sentenced to death the man convicted in the horrific Aluva child rape and murder case.

Special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court judge K Soman directed that convict Ashwaq Alam be hanged to death for killing a five-year-old girl from Bihar, public prosecutor G Mohanraj said.

The death sentence would be carried out after confirmation by the Kerala High Court, the prosecutor said.

Giving details of the sentences given to Alam, a migrant labourer from Bihar, the prosecutor told the media outside the court that the convict was given five life terms for the various offences of rape and aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act.

The court ordered that the life term would mean the convict should stay in prison for the rest of his natural life, the public prosecutor said.

The court also imposed a fine of over Rs 6 lakh on the convict, he said, and expressed satisfaction with the sentence.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the punishment given in the case on Children’s Day should be seen as a strong warning to those who commit violence against children.

The chief minister said the child fell victim to the most heinous crime and, therefore, the entire criminal justice system worked efficiently to catch the culprit and ensure the maximum punishment for him.

Vijayan said that while nothing can replace the loss suffered by the parents, the government has assured all kinds of help to them.

ADGP (Law and Order) MR Ajith Kumar also welcomed the sentence given to the convict.

Speaking to reporters outside the court after the sentence was pronounced, the ADGP said it was a case which shocked the conscience of Kerala and the government right from the start was determined to ensure the maximum possible punishment for the accused.

“It is one of the rarest-of-rare cases and the prosecution was able to prove that successfully. The probe was completed in 30 days. The accused was convicted on the 100th day after the incident and today marks the 110th day. This indicates the robustness of the criminal justice system,” the officer said.

State Health Minister Veena George also welcomed the verdict and said it would send out a strong message to society that children should not be harmed.

“We all had hoped for the maximum punishment and the court gave that,” she told reporters.

The minister appreciated that the probe and the trial were completed in “record time”.

She said that society needs to be aware of the rights of children and protect them.

Meanwhile, one of the eyewitnesses in the case who had seen Alam walking away with the child on that fateful day, was overjoyed with the punishment given to the convict and distributed candy to people.

“The little girl’s soul will now attain peace,” he told reporters.

The sentence was pronounced on a day celebrated as Children’s Day across the country.

The day also marks the 11th anniversary of the POCSO Act, which came into effect on November 14, 2012.

The victim’s parents were present in court when the punishment was given to Alam, who was convicted on November 4.

The prosecution had argued that the case falls under the rarest-of-rare category and, therefore, the death penalty should be given to the convict.

During arguments on sentence, Alam had claimed in court that the other accused were let go and only he was caught in the case and, beyond that, he did not make any other submission, the prosecution had said.

The court had found Alam guilty of all 16 offences in the charge sheet.

Of the 16, five offences are punishable by death, the prosecution had said earlier.

The minor girl was brutally raped and strangulated to death on July 28 after she was abducted from her rented house here.

The body of the girl was found dumped in a stack in a marshy area behind a local market in nearby Aluva and the accused was arrested based on CCTV visuals. 

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 14 November 2023)

Punjab and Haryana High Court calls for report from trial court on grant of default bail

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed its Registrar (Vigilance) to call for complete record of a case, along with a report from the trial court concerned, after taking cognisance of the fact that an accused was granted default bail, despite the pendency of his regular bail plea before it.

As the matter pertaining to Panchkula district came up for resumed hearing before Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul’s Bench, the counsel for the petitioner informed the court that he had been extended the concession of default bail by the trial court vide order dated November 10. The order came during the pendency of the instant petition.

An accused in a criminal case can seek “default bail” in case the challan or the final investigation report under Section 173 of the CrPC is not presented within the stipulated period. Failure to do so gives an accused the “indefeasible right” to get “default” bail. In the case in hand, the bail order came despite the fact that the High Court was seized of the matter.

The case before the High Court has its genesis in an FIR registered on May 4 at the Pinjore police station for cheating and other offences under Sections 420,465 and 468 of the IPC, besides the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 14 November 2023)

Former J-K minister Lal Singh’s ED custody extended by 5 days in money laundering case

A court here on Tuesday extended the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody of former Jammu and Kashmir minister Lal Singh in a money laundering case by five more days.

Singh, the chairman of the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP), was arrested from a house in the Chawadi area of Sainik Colony here on November 7 after a special court dismissed his anticipatory bail application.

He was under investigation by the ED in connection with a case against an educational trust run by his wife and former legislator Kanta Andotra.

Special public prosecutor Ashwani Khajuria said Singh was produced before the special court on Tuesday through video conference on the expiry of his seven-day remand.

“The investigation of the case is at an initial stage… accused is involved in a serious and non-bailable offence, he is remanded to ED custody for a period of five days only from November 14 to 18,” Khajuria said, quoting the court order.

The court ordered the ED to produce the accused on November 18 through virtual mode only and also directed the investigating officer to expedite the investigation.

Khajuria said the ED has filed a detailed report in the court of the principal sessions judge, Jammu, over a post-arrest bail plea by the accused.

The money laundering case stems from an October 2021 charge sheet filed by the CBI in this case which alleged criminal connivance in the issuance of land between January 4 and January 7, 2011, without mentioning details in respect of violation of the ceiling limit of 100 standard kanals imposed under Section 14 of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, thereby giving undue pecuniary advantage to trust.

Based on this, the trust acquired multiple pieces of land of about 329 kanals vide three gift deeds executed on January 5 and January 7, 2011, the CBI charge sheet claimed.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 14 November 2023)

Pakistan high court issues stay order against jail trial of Imran Khan in cipher case

A Pakistan high court on Tuesday issued a stay order against the jail trial of former prime minister Imran Khan in the cipher case, as a special court was hearing the case in a high-security Rawalpindi prison.

The 71-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman was currently detained in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on judicial remand. Khan’s close aide and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, 67, who was also arrested in the cipher case was imprisoned in the same jail. Khan and Qureshi have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz pronounced the judgement during the hearing of Khan’s intra-court appeal against his trial in Adiala jail.

The appeal was filed against a single-member bench of the same court which last month upheld the trial of Khan in Adiala Jail.

The IHC refused to grant a plea by attorney general Mansoor Awan that instead of staying the trial, the court should fix the next hearing for tomorrow when he would present the entire record of the case. After rejecting the request, the court fixed the next hearing for Thursday and ordered to stop the proceeding.

The development comes a day after the caretaker government on Monday approved the jail trial of Khan and Qureshi in the case based on an alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act while dealing with a secret diplomatic cable by the Pakistan embassy in Washington in March 2022. The duo was booked by the Federal Investigation Agency in the case in August.

The Cabinet gave its nod to the summary moved by the law ministry for the jail trial of Khan and Qureshi due to security concerns.

The single bench, led by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, on October 16 had observed no apparent malice behind conducting Khan’s jail trial in the cipher case and directed him to approach the trial court if his reservations persist. Subsequently, Khan filed an intra-court appeal against the single bench’s decision.

As the IHC issued orders to stay the hearing, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain presided over the trial, where witnesses were summoned to record their statements.

Limited family members of both the accused were allowed to attend the hearing. They were permitted to do so during the previous hearing. Both Khan and Qureshi were present during the trial.

Separately, an Islamabad-based accountability court sought details from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) if a notification had been issued for a jail hearing of the Al-Qadir Trust case against Khan.

Khan was formally arrested on Monday in the Al-Qadir Trust and Toshakhana cases after the same court accepted NAB’s plea to arrest him for probe in the two cases.

The former premier was first arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case on May 9, which led to violent protests countrywide, and later on released on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Judge Mohammad Bashir, while hearing the Al-Qadir, asked the NAB prosecutor when he planned to present the PTI chief before the court and if there was notification issued by the government on the jail trial of the former prime minister.

The NAB official responded that he would check the status of the notification and inform the court.

The purported cipher (secret diplomatic cable) contained an account of a meeting between US State Department officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, and Pakistani envoy Asad Majeed Khan last year.

Khan, who served as prime minister of Pakistan from August 2018 to April 2022, is accused of misusing the contents of the cipher to build a narrative that his government was ousted due to a conspiracy hatched by the US, a charge denied by Washington.

Khan was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. More than 150 cases have been registered against Khan since his ouster from power. 

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 14 November 2023)

Sri Lanka supreme court holds Rajapaksa brothers and top officials responsible for worst economic crisis

In a landmark judgement, Sri Lanka’s top court on Tuesday ruled that former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, exprime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa and other senior officials violated the fundamental rights of the people by mishandling the economy and causing the unprecedented economic crisis. Sri Lanka declared economic bankruptcy in April 2022 by announcing its first-ever sovereign default. The island nation was hit by its worst financial crisis in
history, with its foreign exchange reserves falling to a critical low and the public coming out on the streets to protest the shortage of fuel, fertilisers and essential commodities.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court was ruling on the petition filed by Transparency International, Sri Lanka and four other activists in 2022.

The bench, in a majority 4-1 ruling, said that the respondents, including the Rajapaksa brothers- former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa- were responsible for economic mismanagement in the island country between 2019-2022.

Former Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) governors Ajith Nivard Cabraal and WD Lakshman, and ex-secretaries to the Treasury PB Jayasundera and SR Attygalle, were also found guilty of rights violations. The petitioners had claimed that tax concessions worth SLR 681 billion granted to businesses in 2019 by Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his tenure as the president were the main reason for the economic slump.

Other actions, such as pegging the USD at Sri Lankan Rupee 203, the delay in approaching the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, and the decision to honour a USD 500 million international sovereign bond payment in January 2022 in the looming forex crisis, were cited as examples of mismanagement.

Attorneys for the petitioner said they wanted a court declaration that the mishandling of the economy by those responsible had violated the fundamental rights of people.

Since the petitioners approached the court in the interest of the public and did not seek compensation for themselves, the Court was not inclined to order compensation other than costs incurred by petitioners.

Thus, the apex court ordered all respondents to pay the petitioners legal costs of Rs 150,000 each.
Cash-strapped Sri Lanka still has a total foreign debt of USD 46.9 billion.

Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign in May 2022, while Gotabaya Rajapaksa quit in July, following unprecedented anti-government protests over the country’s worst economic crisis that led to acute shortages of staple food, fuel and power. Former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa also resigned in June last year.

The petitioners had sought action against persons responsible for the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. It was filed in the public interest, considering the lack of accountability and transparency in high-level decision-making that has brought Sri Lanka to its knees, Transparency International, Sri Lanka, said in a press release.

The press release said that the actions and inaction of the respondents led to the shortages of food, medicine, fuel and gas in the country, victimising the entire population in an unprecedented manner.

(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 14 November 2023)

Supreme Court holds airlines liable for delay in delivering goods in 1996 case

The Supreme Court has held that airlines will be liable to compensate consumers for delayed delivery of goods and cannot escape responsibility where their agents have promised consumers to deliver goods by a certain time period.

The judgment of the Court was passed last week while deciding a consumer dispute from 1996 raised by the Rajasthan Art Emporium which had to face loss of reputation and business after its client in the United States did not receive 104 boxes of Indian handicrafts sent through Kuwait Airways. Although the agent, Daga Air Agents, who made the booking for urgent delivery had promised to get the job done in seven days, the consignment reached its destination at Memphis, US after one-and-a-half months.

A bench of justices AS Bopanna and Prashant Kumar Mishra said, “Once the agent has issued a time schedule for delivery of consignment, it cannot be said that there is no material indicating that there was no agreement for delivery of the consignment in time.”

The airlines had approached the top court against an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which held Kuwait Airways guilty of negligence and directed it to deposit a compensation of ₹20 lakh as demanded by the consumer in his complaint.

Kuwait Airways claimed that no specific instructions were issued for timely delivery of goods and thus time was not the essence in the contract with the complainant. On the other hand, the art emporium argued that the handling agent while booking the consignment on July 24, 1996 had agreed for delivery by July 31, 1996.

The judgment written by justice Mishra said that so long as the airlines cannot prove that the handling agency in question was not its agent and that the agency had no authority to give the time schedule for delivery, it shall be bound to honour the commitment given by the agent.

It said, “The airline (respondent 1) is bound by the promise held by its agent (respondent 2) that the goods shall be delivered within one week and when the time schedule expired and the goods were, in fact, delivered after one and a half month, there was negligent delay in delivery of consignment.”

The bench further added, “We are satisfied that the NCDRC has not committed any illegality or perversity in recording the finding that there was delay in delivery of consignment.” The airline had admitted that the consignment was delivered after one and a half months (from September 3 to 12, 1996).

Before the NCDRC, even the agent admitted that at the time of booking, the complainant was informed about the tentative date of arrival of goods at Memphis by July 31. The Court agreed with the finding of the Commission that the art emporium had paid air freight, which is 10 times more than the sea freight, only to ensure that the consignment reaches its destination within a week as sea cargo would have taken 25 to 30 days for delivery.

The Court also observed from the documents presented by the emporium that the buyer in Memphis was its largest customer and the delay in delivery of consignment “necessarily inflicted damage to the emporium” requiring the airline to pay the compensation under the relevant provisions of the Carriage by Air Act 1972.

The figure of ₹20 lakh was arrived under Rule 22 of the 1972 Act by multiplying the weight of the delayed consignment by US $ 20 per kg. This amount was directed to be paid by the NCDRC along with 9% interest from the date of the NCDRC order.

The emporium claimed that the NCDRC failed to award the full compensation as per this rule. In its appeal before the top court, it said that the total weight of the consignment was 2507.5 kg and on multiplying it with US $ 20, the amount US $ 50,070 would exceed the sum of ₹20 lakh. Though the Court agreed that the sum would be higher, the emporium was found to be at fault as in its complaint before NCDRC, it had only sought ₹20 lakh as compensation for loss of business and reputation.

(Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 14 November 2023)

Greta Thunberg attends a London court hearing after police charged her with a public order offense

Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived at a London court on Wednesday for a hearing over a public order offense after she was arrested last month at a demonstration against a major oil and gas industry conference.

The 20-year-old Swedish environmental campaigner was among more than two dozen people charged after protesters sought to block access to the luxury Inter Continental Hotel in central London during last month’s Energy Intelligence Forum.

She was charged with breaching a section of the Public Order Act that allows police to impose limits on public assemblies.A group of Greenpeace and Fossil Free London activists gathered outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court early Wednesday, chanting and holding banners reading “Oily Money Out” and “Make Polluters Pay.”               

Thunberg and other climate protesters accuse fossil fuel companies of deliberately slowing the global energy transition to renewables in order to make more profit. They also oppose the British government’s recent approval of drilling for oil in the North Sea, off the Scottish coast.

Thunberg inspired a global youth movement demanding stronger efforts to fight climate change after staging weekly protests outside the Swedish Parliament starting in 2018.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 15 November 2023)

High Court issues stay order against former Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s jail trial

A Pakistan high court on Tuesday issued a stay order against the jail trial of former PM Imran Khan in the cipher case, seeking information about the “circumstances” that prompted the trial to be conducted in a Rawalpindi prison.

The 71-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman is currently detained in the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on judicial remand. His close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was also arrested in the cipher case, is in the same jail.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 15 November 2023)

4 more fast-track courts to be set up to hear drug cases

The state government is actively working to establish four more fast-track courts in Gurugram, Rohtak, Faridabad and Yamunanagar to hear drug cases. This was stated by Chief Secretary Sanjeev Kaushal while presiding over the 6th state-level committee meeting of the NARCO Coordination Centre.

The Haryana State Narcotics Control Bureau (HSNCB) has demonstrated unwavering commitment and effectiveness in combating drug-related offences. As of the first week of November, 3,306 cases have been registered, leading to the arrest of 4,452 individuals. Notably, 290 of these cases fall under the category of commercial quantity (CQ), resulting in the arrest of 493 individuals.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 15 November 2023)

Big blow for Rishi Sunak as UK Supreme Court rejects his Rwanda migration plan

The UK Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the government’s controversial Rwanda policy for migrants as “unlawful”, a decision with major political ramifications for prime minister Rishi Sunak.

The Conservative leader had said the scheme was crucial to reduce rising immigration, which is set to be a key battleground at the next general election expected in 2024. The ruling is the latest episode in a long-running saga that began in April last year when the policy was signed under then-prime minister Boris Johnson.

Hours after the SC’s judgment, Sunak said his government was already working on a new treaty with Rwanda and could change the country’s laws.

(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 15 November 2023)

Agreement to sell doesn’t transfer ownership rights or confer any title, rules SC

An agreement to sell does not confer any title or transfer ownership to the intended purchaser, the Supreme Court reiterated in a recent order.

The ruling came on a plea where the question arose as to whether an agreement to sell a property entered into by parties in May 1990 had indeed been executed or not.

“The agreement to sell is not a conveyance; it does not transfer ownership rights or confer any title,” a bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Rajesh Bindal said in its order earlier this month.

As per the case, the intended purchaser had agreed to buy a property from the proposed seller and also paid the full amount. The possession was also handed over to the purchaser. However, when the seller refused to execute it, the intended purchaser filed a suit for specific performance in October 2001.

The trial court dismissed the suit in September 2004 stating that the question of execution of the Agreement to Sell was doubtful.

The first appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court and said the intended purchaser had proved the execution of the Agreement to Sell.

On second appeal, the Karnataka High Court in 2010 ruled in favour of the intended seller stating that the agreement was in violation of the Karnataka Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1996, which prohibited registration of sale of fragments of a property unless it complied with the provisions of the Act.

The intended purchaser appealed before the Supreme Court, which noted that the issue of Fragmentation Act was never raised before the trial court by either of the parties.

Allowing the appeal, the top court said “There was no issue framed with respect to the violation of the Fragmentation Act, and it was not pleaded in the written statement filed by the respondent. The defence taken by the respondent was that he never executed the Agreement to Sell. However, in his deposition during the cross-examination, he admitted to his signatures on the Agreement to Sell. Thus, in the absence of any issue framed, and given that neither party has pleaded any violation of…the Fragmentation Act, the High Court apparently fell in error in holding that Agreement to Sell was in violation of Section 5 of the Fragmentation Act”.

The apex court added that “what is further noticeable is that the respondents received the full consideration and had also transferred the possession of the property in question.”

(Courtesy:- The India Express, 15 November 2023)

Supreme Court to Centre: Make model for girls’ toilets in proportion to their number

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to set down a “national model for the ratio of the number of girls’ toilets per female student population across government-aided and residential schools in the country” before it finalises the draft National Menstrual Hygiene Policy, 2023.

A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud also asked the government to bring about uniformity in terms of the modalities to be followed for the distribution of sanitary napkins.

The bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Mishra, also asked the Centre to consider the practices followed in different States in order to arrive at the optimum policy which ensures that an adequate supply of sanitary napkins is made available to female students in schools in the requisite age group and that the modalities for distribution are facilitative in all respects.

The directions came on a PIL filed through Advocate Varun Thakur seeking direction to the Centre, states & Union Territories to ensure provision of free sanitary pads to every female student in classes 6 to 12, separate toilets for females in all government-aided and residential schools and to undertake awareness programmes on maintenance of toilets and spread of awareness.

Senior Advocate Vibha Datta Makhija, who appeared for petitioner Jaya Thakur, pointed out that adolescent females between the ages 11 to 18 coming from poor families face a lot of difficulties due to the lack of these facilities and eventually leads to their dropping out of school.

On April 10, the court had asked the Centre to engage with all state governments and Union Territories to ensure that a uniform national policy is formulated with sufficient leeway for the States and UTs to make adjustments based on the prevailing conditions in their territories.

It also asked all states and UTs to submit their menstrual hygiene management strategies being executed either with help of funds by Central government or through their funds to mission steering group of National Health Mission.

The court said the mission steering group shall reevaluate national guidelines based on experiential learning of previous decade or so and nominate secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as the nodal officer to facilitate coordination with all other ministries of the Union and state governments and Uts.

On November 6, the Centre told court that a draft policy was formulated for distribution of sanitary napkins to female students in schools across the country.

(Courtesy:- The India Express, 16 November 2023)

Yemen Supreme Court nixes plea of nurse on death row

Delhi high court asked the central government on Thursday to take a decision within a week on a request to travel to Yemen from the mother of a Kerala woman who is on death row there for the murder of a Yemeni national.

The lawyer for the Centre informed the court that the top court in Yemen on November 13 dismissed the appeal of Nimisha Priya, who was working as a nurse in the West Asian country, against
her sentence.

Priya has been convicted of murdering Talal Abdo Mahdi, who died in July 2017 after she injected him with sedatives in order to get her passport from his possession.

It was stated that Priya injected Mahdi with sedatives so that she could take her passport from him while he was unconscious. However, Mahdi died of an overdose.

Priya’s mother moved HC this year, seeking permission to travel to Yemen in spite of a travel ban for Indian nationals and negotiate the “blood money” to save her daughter.

Blood money usually refers to the compensation paid by an offender or his family to the family of the victim.

On Thursday, the Centre’s lawyer said according to a notification issued recently, the travel ban may be relaxed and Indian nationals may be allowed to travel to Yemen for specific reasons and durations.
“In view of the representation, let the present petition be treated as a representation. Respondent is directed to decide the representation within one week from today,” Justice Subramonium Prasad ordered.

Meanwhile, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that New Delhi is aware of the developments in the case.”

“On the issue of the Indian national in Yemen, we’ve been following this case. We are extending consular assistance. Since it’s a legal issue there, I would not like to comment on those steps. But we are in touch.”

(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 17 November 2023)

Eligibility criteria can’t be relaxed unless publicised in advertisement

Holding that eligibility criteria set out in rules can’t be relaxed unless such relaxation is envisaged in the advertisement, the Supreme Court has set aside the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s directions with regard to the recruitment of Junior Office Assistant (Information Technology), Class-III, (Non-Gazetted), for which applications were invited in 2015.

A Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Manoj Misra said in case any such relaxation is made, it has to be widely publicised to be held valid.

The HP Subordinate Services Selection Board on February 13, 2015, invited applications for selection on 1421 post (s) of JOA (Post Code 447) prescribing same qualifications as in Rule 7 of the Himachal Pradesh, Department of Personnel, Junior Office Assistant (Information Technology), Class-III, (Non-Gazetted), Ministerial Services, Common Recruitment and Promotion Rules, 2014.

The last date for the submission of application was March 18, 2015. However, for residents of certain districts, it was April 2, 2015. But the date(s) were extended up to October 31, 2015. Clause 4 of the general conditions in the advertisement specifically provided that, “the candidate must fulfil/possess all the required essential educational and other qualifications mentioned against each code on or before the last date fixed for the receipt of application forms, Selection Board otherwise the candidature will be rejected at the time of personal interview.”

While the selection exercise under the advertisement dated February 13, 2015, was ongoing, a fresh advertisement was issued on October 18, 2016, by the Commission inviting applications for another set of 1,156 posts of JOA (IT) with the same qualifications as prescribed under the 2014 rules.

On August 21, 2017, the state government relaxed the eligibility criteria and said candidates having one year Diploma in Computer or higher qualification in Computer Science/Application/IT from any private institution be considered for the final selection subject to having successfully passed their skill test.

But the top court declared that “The relaxation/clarificatory order dated August 21, 2017, as approved by the state Cabinet on September 18, 2017, being after the last date fixed by the advertisements dated February 13, 2015 and dated October 18, 2016, for receipt of applications from candidates, is not legally sustainable…, particularly, when no opportunity was afforded to similarly placed persons, who might have been left out, to apply and compete with those candidates who, though not eligible as per the terms of the advertisement, had applied thereunder.”

Accordingly, it set aside the directions contained in the high court’s judgment for the closure of the selection process for Post Code 556 and to re-cast the merit list as well as fill the remaining posts of Post Code 556, with the aid of relaxation/clarification dated August 21, 2017/September 18, 2017 read with communication dated March 19, 2018, after segregating it from those advertised as Post Code 817.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 17 November 2023)

Haryana to move Supreme Court against quashing of law on quota in private jobs

The Haryana government will move the Supreme Court against the Punjab and Haryana High Court order quashing a law that provided 75 per cent reservation in private sector jobs to residents of the state, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said on Saturday.

“We are examining the high court verdict and will soon move the Supreme Court,” the JJP leader said in a statement here, asserting that the law was in the interest of the state and the industry.

The high court’s Friday decision was also a setback for Chautala as providing 75 per cent reservation in private sector jobs for state-domiciled candidates was a key poll promise of his Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) during the 2019 assembly polls.

Chautala said the state government’s intention was to give employment to local youths and provide skilled workers to the industry.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in its 83-page judgement, held the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, “ultra vires” and “unconstitutional”, and ruled that it would become “ineffective from the date it came into force”.

The verdict came following multiple petitions filed by several industrial associations against the implementation of the Act.

After the polls, the JJP extended support to the BJP and formed a government in alliance as the saffron party fell short of attaining a simple majority on its own.

The law, which came into effect on January 15, 2022, provided 75 per cent reservation in jobs in the private sector to candidates from the state. It covered jobs offering a maximum gross monthly salary or wages up to Rs 30,000.

The Act was applicable to employers of the private sector companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms and any person who employs 10 or more people on salary, wages or other remuneration for manufacturing, carrying on business or rendering any service in Haryana. 

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 18 November 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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