Weekly Legal Updates (15 October to 21 October 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.

Court allows police to handcuff carjacking accused during custody

A court that granted five-day custodial interrogation of the two accused in a carjacking case has also allowed the Delhi Police’s plea seeking handcuffing of the duo during their questioning, sources said. The sources in the court said Metropolitan Magistrate Animesh Bhaskar Mani Tripathi allowed the plea in an order passed on Friday.

The court had also granted five-day of custodial interrogation of Mehraj Salmani (33) and Asif (24) on the police’s remand application. The duo had posed as passengers and on the way to the airport, snatched driver Bijender Shah’s (43) mobile phone and wallet and pushed him out of the car, leading to his death.

The remand application filed by the police stated, “It is pertinent to mention that the accused persons are involved in a gruesome and heinous act and have previous involvement in crime, there are apprehensions that the accused persons may attempt to flee from police custody, therefore, to thwart any such attempt, it is requested that the use of handcuffs may kindly be granted during police custody remand.”

A police officer confirmed that the court has allowed the plea to handcuff the accused during their custody.

The officer said the accused were previously involved in cases where they robbed a foreign national and also a doctor in the national Capital.

“They run a gang, which is involved in carjacking on highways, and do not hesitate to kill people. They were also involved in an attack on a police team in Ghaziabad,” the officer said.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 15 October 2023)

PMLA case: Delhi High Court upholds ED custody of Chinese national

The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with a trial court order sending Chinese national Guangwen, alias Andrew Kuang, to three-day Enforcement Directorate’s custody in connection with a money laundering case against Chinese smartphone maker Vivo. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, in an order released on Saturday, dismissed a petition filed by Kuang — an officebearer of Vivo Mobile India — challenging the trial court order of remand, noting that as per the grounds of arrest and the remand application, the petitioner, “one of the main conspirators”, was involved in the incorporation of the companies throughout the country for acquiring and siphoning off proceeds of crime.

“Ultimately, the investigating officer had concluded (in grounds of arrest) that the present petitioner was the prime conspirator of the formation of these companies through which acquisition of proceeds of crime had taken place and which, after layering and integration, had been siphoned off by Vivo India,” the court observed in an order dated October 13.

On Friday, the trial court extended the custody of the petitioner with ED by three days in the case. The petitioner, apprehended on October 10, had argued before the high court that his arrest was carried out in a malafide manner and against the mandate of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and no case was made out against him. Rejecting the objections, the court observed that the remand application specifically mentioned that on the basis of the investigation carried out so far and material collected, the present petitioner was “guilty” of the offence of money laundering and therefore written grounds of arrest were also given to him.

On October 10, the trial court sent four people, including the petitioner, to three-day ED custody in the case. The agency had raided the company and its linked people in July last year, claiming to have busted a major money laundering racket involving Chinese nationals and multiple Indian companies. The ED had then alleged that a whopping Rs 62,476 crore was “illegally” transferred by Vivo to China in order to avoid payment of taxes in India.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 15 October 2023)

Plea seeking law to ban screening for nursery admissions dismissed

The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a petition challenging a Delhi High Court order refusing to pass orders to expedite the finalisation of Delhi School Education (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which prescribes for prohibition of screening procedure for admission of children at pre-primary level in schools in the national Capital. “Can there be a mandamus to introduce a law? That is the problem and that is the view the High Court has taken. How can we say that the High Court is in error…Supreme Court can’t have a panacea for everything,” a Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia said on Friday, dismissing the appeal filed by Social Jurist, an NGO.

Two and a half months after the Delhi High Court dismissed Social Jurist’s PIL seeking a direction to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor to either give his assent to or return a 2015 Bill that proposed a ban on screening children for nursery admissions – the NGO had moved the Supreme Court last month.

As the petitioner’s counsel said he only wanted to know the status of the Bill, the Bench gave the example of the Delhi Rent (Control) Act which was not implemented. “This is not an administrative action; this is on the legislative side,” it pointed out.

In its July 3 order, the HC had said it couldn’t interfere with the legislative process. “In the considered opinion of this court, even though the Bill has been passed by the House, it is always open to the governor to agree or to send the Bill back to the House and this court ought not to pass a writ of mandamus directing the governor to act,” the high court had said.

The petitioner NGO has contended in the top court that the child-friendly Bill “banning the screening procedure in nursery admission in schools has been hanging between the Central and the Delhi governments for the last seven years without any justification and against the public interest and opposed to public policy”.

The very objective and purpose of the 2015 Bill was to protect tiny children from exploitation and unjust discrimination in nursery admission in private schools, it submitted.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 15 October 2023)

Police must protect live-in couples fearing life, orders High Court

Making it clear that the subjective views of “mute” police officers on live-in relationships were eclipsing their sense of duty to protect couples from potential harm, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued five commandments for them to follow in the State of Haryana, Punjab and UT Chandigarh. The guidelines include the need for striking a balance between the legality of a relationship and the fundamental rights of the couples.

Justice Arun Monga said it was considered desirable to frame basic guidelines to sensitise the police who remained mute after receiving representations from fearful couples. It appeared that their subjective view of moral and ethical considerations of a live-in relationship prevailed over the duty to protect citizens’ life, leading to inaction. That was, in turn, unnecessarily driving the affected persons to the court for seeking relief.

The guidelines came after Justice Monga took note of the fact that the court was inundated with pleas by couples for protecting their lives following police inaction. The Bench asserted that the key issue was not the legality of a relationship, for which they might be liable for civil and criminal consequences, in accordance with law. The matter requiring consideration was whether they were entitled to protection of fundamental right under Article 21 and whether their right to live was required to be upheld, irrespective of their self-proclaimed live-in relationship, which in some cases prima facie appeared to be adulterous.

Referring to a Nuh couple’s plea, Justice Monga asserted they feared for their safety, not from society or the State, but the girl’s family. In his order, he observed that death was not the penalty for such defiance, and that too at the hands of the family. Constitutional fundamental right under Article 21 stood on a much higher pedestal.

“A balance has to be struck between ethical and legal questions about personal choices, fundamental rights, familial pressures and the role of the State. Life and individual rights in cases of live-in relationships, in deserving cases, must be protected from potential harm threatened by the family,” he asserted.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 15 October 2023)

Supreme Court Denies Bail To Chandrababu Naidu In Corruption Case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied interim bail to former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu and said it will pronounce its verdict on his plea challenging the high court order refusing to quash the FIR against him in the Skill Development Corporation scam case.

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi, which reserved its verdict on the TDP leader’s petition, did not accept the prayer of senior advocate Harish Salve, who sought interim bail for Mr Naidu, 73, citing his age and the period of 40 days that he has spent in custody.

“I have a request for interim bail. Your Lordships may consider releasing him. If you eventually rule against him, he can go back. In the 2015-16 inquiry, the government’s lament was that nothing came of it. Now, in 2021, they are desperately grasping at straws,” Mr Salve said, reaffirming that Mr Naidu was falsely implicated in the case.

Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, also representing Mr Naidu, too sought interim bail for the former chief minister.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Andhra Pradesh government, opposed Salve and Luthra’s request for relief to Mr Naidu, saying his bail application was pending before the trial court which will consider it.

The bench told Mr Luthra it has heard the main matter related to a challenge to the high court order and applicability of section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act in the case against Mr Naidu, and was reserving the judgment.

Section 17A was introduced by an amendment to the PC Act with effect from July 26, 2018. The provision stipulates a mandatory requirement for a police officer to seek prior approval from the competent authority for conducting any enquiry or inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Mr Naidu has contended the FIR against him was registered without obtaining the prior approval of the competent authority in the Skill Development Corporation scam case, and therefore his arrest was illegal.

The top court also listed for Friday Mr Naidu’s separate plea for anticipatory bail in the FiberNet case.

The FiberNet case relates to alleged tender manipulation in allotting a work order under Phase-1 of the AP FiberNet Project involving ₹ 330 crore to a favoured company.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Andhra Pradesh police has alleged irregularities in the project right from awarding the tender to completion of the work, causing a huge loss to the state exchequer.

Mr Naidu was arrested on September 9 for allegedly misappropriating funds from the Skill Development Corporation when he was the chief minister in 2015, causing a purported loss of ₹ 371 crore to the state exchequer. He is under judicial remand in the Rajamahendravaram central prison.

(Courtesy:- NDTV, 17 October 2023) 

Trinamool’s Mahua Moitra sues BJP MP, Supreme Court lawyer over bribe charge

Trinamool Congress’s Mahua Moitra has sent a legal notice to BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai over “defamatory” allegations that she took “bribes” to ask questions in the Lok Sabha.

Dubey has cited Dehadrai’s letter to claim that the latter had “irrefutable” evidence that bribes were exchanged between Moitra and businessman Darshan Hiranandani, drawing parallels to the 2005 ‘Cash for Query’ scandal. The BJP leader has also urged Speaker Om Birla and Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to initiate separate investigations into the issue.

The Hiranandani group denied the allegations made by Nishikant Dubey and said it was “not involved in the business of politics”.

In the notice dated October 16, Mahua Moitra, an MP from West Bengal’s Krishnanagar, said that charges that she accepted “any benefit of any kind to perform her duties as a Member of Lok Sabha” were “defamatory, false, baseless, and not supported by even a shred of evidence”.

She accused Nishikant Dubey and Jai Anant Dehadrai of attacking her reputation and goodwill to “extract personal and political vendetta”.

The notice says that Mahua Moitra and Nishikant Dubey, both MPs, have clashed on several occasions in the past over “differences of opinion”. It mentions that Dubey had backed a privilege notice against Moitra and had called for the cancellation of her membership to Parliament.

“In March 2023, our client (Mahua Moitra) questioned the authenticity of the claims of Nishikant Dubey regarding his educational qualifications and corresponding disclosure in his election nomination papers,” the notice said.

Moitra has alleged that Nishikant Dubey was “rattled” by her drawing attention to the issue and had responded by “making and endorsing false and defamatory allegations” against her without verifying the claims.

The notice further says that Mahua Moitra and lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai shared a “close friendship” for several years, but had a falling out due to “personal reasons and matters started to become acrimonious”.

Dehadrai “threatened Mahua Moitra with malicious and vulgar messages, and trespassed into her official government residence and stole some personal possessions,” the notice mentioned. It added that a complaint was filed against Dehadrai on two separate occasions – on March 25, 2023 and September 23, 2023.

Mahua Moitra has asked Nishikant Dubey to withdraw the allegations levelled against her in the letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker. She has also asked for a written apology from both Dubey and Dehadrai.

(Courtesy:- India Today, 17 October 2023)

Finolex Cables Case:‘Got down to a rot’: Supreme Court issues contempt notices to NCLAT members

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has got down to a rot, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud observed on Wednesday, issuing contempt notices to judicial member Rakesh Kumar and technical member Alok Shrivastava in connection with the Finolex Cables case. Asking why shouldn’t the apex court initiate contempt proceedings against them, he ordered them to appear in person on October 30.

“I am not talking about Justice Ashok Bhushan (NCLAT chairperson). He is one of the most dignified judges I know… but NCLT and NCLAT have got down to a rot now. This case is an illustration of that rot,” he said, reported Live Law.

“We are prima facie of the view that the members of the NCLAT have failed to disclose correct facts,” the court added, per a PTI report.

The court also set aside the NCLAT bench’s October 13 judgment ordering the company to release the annual general meeting (AGM) figures.

The bench, also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, ruled the case will now be heard by justice Ashok Bhushan.

On October 13, the Supreme Court had directed the NCLAT to announce its judgment and declare the results of the AGM Meeting only after receiving the scrutiniser’s report.

The court’s order was uploaded at 1.55 pm and the lawyer also informed the development to the NCLAT bench, which was to deliver the verdict at 2 pm. The two-member bench of the NCLAT, however, pronounced the order before the scrutiniser’s report was uploaded — at 2:40 pm.

On Friday, the Supreme Court directed the NCLAT chairperson to hold a probe and submit a report on Monday. It also suspended the judgment.

The bench today said it was necessary to pass orders to ensure that the dignity of the Supreme Court was restored.

“Parties cannot be allowed by recourse to devious means to obviate this court’s orders,” the bench added.

The Supreme Court also said the manner in which the NCLAT had passed the order was “unbecoming of a tribunal”.

The bench also observed that Kumar and Srivastava were prima facie guilty of “falsehood”, reported Bar and Bench.

The NCLAT order was linked to the annual general meeting of Finolex Cables. There is an ongoing dispute between Prakash Chhabria and Deepak Chhabria over control of the company.

(Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 18 October 2023)

PMLA review: Supreme Court rejects Centre’s plea to defer hearing in national interest

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to accede to the Centre’s plea to defer the hearing on the batch of petitions challenging its 2022 judgment upholding the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for some time in the national interest.

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the three-judge special bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) evaluation was commencing from November 4, and any questioning on the legislation at this stage would have a serious implication on the national interest.

“This is bigger than the individuals involved and our egos, this is not a standalone offence and there is a global response, and PMLA is a piece of legislation prepared in conformity with recommendations issued by the FATF,” SG Mehta told the bench.

“Mutual evaluation team analyses us and grades us, whether I am on the black list, grey list or white list. Here the matter has been dealt with by 3 judges already and now that the FATF team is here and mutual evaluation has started and any deviation or question mark on any provision now will be detrimental to the nation,” stressed SG Mehta.

But the bench retorted, “National interest is in everything and sometimes in hearing this also.”

SG Mehta also told the bench that the new bench should not hear the case. “Can this bench sit in appeal over another coordinate bench? Can a person tomorrow bring a petition saying that he does not agree with the 5-judge bench judgment in the same-sex marriage case, and can it be referred to?” SG Mehta asked.

At that, the bench said, “We may say tomorrow after hearing the other party that we will wait for the review. But we can’t say we can never revisit the decision. The review order says at least 2 aspects need to be reconsidered. Jurisdiction and review are different. The problem is, sometimes, if one side feels I am faced with an adverse order already, then what can we do? Somebody has filed it. We can consider. Don’t preclude somebody. “

Justice Khanna also added, “the Power of review is a bit larger. This is the final court. Please don’t assume we are saying the decision is wrong, but certain nuances have been raised.”

This led Mehta to say, “It’s not an academic exercise. We have to be alert and alarmed.”

Justice Kaul responded, “We are alert, we won’t be alarmed by any party.”

During the brief hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for some of the petitioners in the case, enumerated some of the contentions they were raising.

The bench then appointed nodal counsel on the matter and slated the hearing for November 22.

The 2022 judgment in the Vijay Madanlal Choudhary case upheld the constitutional validity of the provisions of the PMLA relating to arrest, seizure, presumption of innocence, stringent bail conditions, etc.

The Supreme Court had also held that the supply of an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) under PMLA proceedings was not mandatory since the ECIR was an internal document and cannot be equated with a First Information Report (FIR).

In August last year, a bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had issued notice to the Central government on a review plea filed by Congress leader Karti Chidambaram challenging the Vijay Madanlal Choudhary ruling.

(Courtesy:- India Today, 18 October 2023)

Manish Sisodia Can’t Be In Jail Forever: Supreme Court To Probe Agencies

There should be no trial or investigation based on political rivalry, the Supreme Court said on Friday as it set out to examine a public interest litigation, pointing out how investigations and prosecutions in Tamil Nadu are decided by which political party is in power and, acquittal of state ministers, undermines public faith and confidence in the judicial process.

A bench of justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition filed by a lawyer Karuppiah Gandhi who made 16 ministers in the present Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government and 2 members of parliament facing criminal charges as parties to the petition . Gandhi demanded that investigations into these high-profile cases be transferred to federal agencies such as the central bureau of investigation (CBI) and enforcement directorate (ED).

The bench said: “There should be no investigation and trial based on political rivalry. We are trying to maintain a balance between both sides – the people involved on one hand and the society on the other hand.”

For the state government, senior advocate Dushyant Dave appeared along with additional advocate general Amit Anand Tiwari opposing the maintainability of such a petition. “The whole attempt is to get central agencies involved. Entertaining such a petition will create a very wrong precedent. Today opposition-run states are facing a serious challenge. These kinds of petitions are set up. He has a remedy to go to the high court. The Court should not issue notice without ascertaining his antecedents.”The bench agreed to issue notice only to the state government for now and allowing it to contest the petition’s maintainability. Giving four weeks to the state, the bench also wished to know from the state government to indicate if any case has been taken up against persons irrespective of which political party they belong. “When you are in power, you drag the other party to court,” the bench said.

Dave questioned that the top court cannot ascertain political rivalry as that will require them to examine evidence. Moreover, he pointed out that the petitioner seeks to pursue cases only against one state and should compile details with regard to all central ministers who get acquitted.

The petitioner represented by senior advocate Dama Sesadari Naidu told the Court that his intention was only to highlight the large-scale acquittals of ministers in the state accused of corruption.

“The way the investigation and trial against several Ministers of the current state government have been conducted does not inspire confidence in the minds of the public that a free and fair trial will be conducted by the present prosecution,” he said. He referred to recent orders passed by the Madras high court which took suo moto cognisance of criminal cases against ministers, whose acquittals were not challenged by the state police.

“The manner in which the acquittal orders have been passed raises serious suspicion and undermines the public’s faith and confidence in the judicial process,” the petition added.

The bench noted certain concerns in entertaining the petition against each individual minister. It said, “Some of the orders of acquittal were passed in 2012.Ultimately a question will arise if constitutional courts can reopen cases after so much delay.” Further, the bench observed, “You may be right that the accused are Ministers and wield considerable power. But tomorrow there can be allegation against CBI or any agency which is not proceeding against acquittal.”

The Court felt that an independent agency such as a special investigation team would be better suited to unearth the truth. Dave raised an additional issue questioning which fundamental right of the petitioner has been affected as a PIL before the top court is maintainable for enforcement of fundamental rights. The bench said, “It involves fundamental rights of the society,” as it posted the matter after four weeks.

(Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 20 October 2023)

SC orders hiring of dist officers for effective implementation of POSH Act

Flagging “lacunae and lack of uniformity in the implementation of the POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) Act by various state governments, the Supreme Court on Friday issued a series of directions to the Centre, states and Union Territories.

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta directed that “the concerned Principal Secretary of the State/UT Ministry of Women and Child [or any other Department]…will personally ensure appointment of a district officer in each district within their territorial jurisdiction, as contemplated under Section 5 (of the Act) within four weeks from the date of this judgment”.

Noting that “the language used in Section 5 is “may’’, the bench said the “District Officer, is the most important functionary in the system, tasked with keeping the redressal and monitoring framework both intact, and smoothly running” and therefore, “treating Section 5 as directory, would leave a gaping hole in the otherwise clearly delineated workflow and redressal mechanism, and the efficacy of this legislation, as a result, falls flat”.

It asked the appropriate government or district officers in question, to also “undertake effort to spread awareness on the existence of local committees, and make them approachable for the unorganised sector”.The judgement came on a petition by an NGO, Initiatives for Inclusion Foundation, seeking directions for implementation of the Act. Among others, the petitioner also urged the court to direct the different governments to ensure that the annual compliance reports collected by the district officers are consolidated and the reports are published in the public domain. On this, the court said “while there is no need for such an express direction…the Central government, and state government… in the interest of transparency and good governance may consider to make these statistics public….”

(Courtesy:- The Indian Express, 20 October 2023)

You cannot call yourself ‘Republic of India’ in pleas: SC pulls up CBI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cannot equate itself with the “Republic of India”, the Supreme Court observed on Friday, taking umbrage at the federal agency filing petitions representing the republic.

“Why have you filed as the ‘Republic of India’? You are not representing the Union or the Republic,” a bench of justices AS Oka and Pankaj Mithal remarked as it came across a petition filed by the CBI as the “Republic of India”.

Addressing additional solicitor general (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, who was representing the agency in an appeal against the grant of bail in a CBI case, the bench said it is not proper for the agency to file petitions in the court as “Republic of India”. “You don’t represent the Union of India? You cannot file your petitions like that,” it told Bhati.

The bench then directed that the cause-title of the case will be altered by the registry of the court, omitting the words “Republic of India”. ASG Bhati conceded to the court’s directive.

Under the law, the CBI is supposed to be an independent agency that can probe acts of illegalities in connection to instrumentalities or agencies of both Centre and state governments.

In November 2021, the Centre had objected to a suit filed by the West Bengal Government making the Union of India, and not the CBI, party when the latter challenged the agency’s jurisdiction to register FIRs and conduct investigations in the state in several cases. The Centre maintained that it has no authority to rattle the autonomy of the CBI to conduct investigations, adding the CBI is an “autonomous body” with the government having no control over it.

According to the Supreme Court website, there are more cases filed by the CBI in the capacity as the “Republic of India”, appealing against the grant of bail, quashing of charges, and some interim orders in cases registered and investigated by the federal agency.

The bench was hearing CBI’s appeal against the grant of bail to Subhra Kundu, a former actress and wife of Gautam Kundu – the owner of the chit fund company Rose Valley, connection with an alleged multi-crore scam that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating.

The ₹17,000 crore Rose Valley scam is reportedly the biggest in Bengal in terms of the money involved. In 2014, the Supreme Court asked CBI to investigate the scam and the role of influential people in money laundering in West Bengal. The group had allegedly floated a total of 27 companies for running the alleged chit-fund operations out of which only half a dozen was active. It is alleged that the firm had floated the scheme by promising inflated returns on investments between 8% and 27% to gullible investors in various states. Investigations in the case were carried out in West Bengal and Odisha.

In August 2022, the Orissa high court granted Subhra Kundu bail, which was challenged by CBI in the top court. Bhati argued that she was not arrested just because she is the wife of the main accused but because she had an active role to play in parking of the money collected from investors in a number of shell companies.

The bench, however, noted that she was arrested in January 2021 and had been incarcerated since. “Just because a trial is on, you cannot keep someone in jail forever without a conviction. We do not see anything wrong with this order. There are several conditions imposed on her to ensure there is no impediments in trial,” it told the ASG. The bench proceeded to dismiss CBI’s appeal, stating it finds no ground to interfere with the impugned order of the Orissa high court at this stage. It further clarified that the grant of bail will have no bearing on the merits of the case, and that the trial would be carried out in accordance with law.

(Coutesy:- Hindustan Times, 21 October 2023)

With over 5 crore cases pending in courts across India, SC issues directions for time-bound completion of trial

As more than five crore cases remain pending at various stages in courts across India, the Supreme Court has issued a series of directions for ensuring speedy trial and disposal of old cases, saying litigants may become disillusioned if the legal process moves at a snail’s pace.

A Bench led by Justice S Ravindra Bhat directed all courts at district and taluka levels to ensure proper execution of the summons and filing of written statements in a time-bound manner and that the parties are called upon to appear on the day fixed after the completion of pleadings.

At the conclusion of trial the oral arguments shall be heard immediately and continuously and judgments should ordinarily be pronounced in 30 days from the date on which the hearing of the case was concluded, it said on Friday.

The statistics relating to the cases pending in each court beyond 5 years shall be forwarded by every presiding officer to the Principal District Judge once in a month who (Principal District Judge/District Judge) shall collate the same and forward it to the review committee constituted by the respective High Courts for enabling it to take further steps, it said.

The Committee so constituted by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the respective States shall meet at least once in two months and direct such corrective measures to be taken by concerned court as deemed fit and shall also monitor the old cases (preferably which are pending for more than 05 years) constantly, it ordered.

The top court directed its Secretary General to circulate a copy of the judgment to the Registrar General of all the High Courts for being placed before the respective Chief Justices for a consideration and suitable steps being taken.

Describing a swift and efficient judiciary as a cornerstone of democracy, a bulwark against tyranny, and the guarantor of individual liberties, the Bench said, “Every pending case represents a soul in limbo, waiting for closure and vindication. Every delay is an affront to the very ideals that underpin our legal system.”

Lamenting that the concept of justice delayed, justice denied was not a mere truism, but an irrefutable truth, the Bench cited National Judicial Data Grid, (NJDG) figures to highlight the problem.

“We must adapt, we must reform, and we must ensure that justice is not a mirage but a tangible reality for all,” it added.

According to National Judicial Data Grid, 4,37,35,155 cases (3,30,43,812 criminal and 1,06,91,343 civil) are pending in district courts while 84,68,084 cases (17,36,714 criminal and 67,31,370 civil) are pending in 25 high courts across India.

Majority of the cases are pending at the Evidence/ Argument/Judgement stage (43,22,478), within which the maximum pendency is caused at the stage of hearing and evidence. High pendency is also caused during the Appearance/Service stage (27,03,493), within which the maximum pendency is appearance and service/summons related. The reasons behind the maximum pendency has been matters which are stayed (9,69,262) unattended (8,31,076) and awaiting records (8,219,929), the top court noted.

“The spectre of delay and pendency has cast a long shadow upon the very dispensation of justice. In this sacred realm, where the scales of justice are meant to balance with precision, the backlog of cases and the interminable delays have reached a disconcerting crescendo,” it noted.

“The time for procrastination is long past, for justice cannot be a casualty of bureaucratic inefficiency. We must act now, for the hour is late, and the call for justice is unwavering… Let us embark on a journey of legal reform with urgency, for the legacy we leave will shape the destiny of a nation. In the halls of justice, let not the echoes of delay and pendency drown out the clarion call of reform. The time is now, and justice waits for no one,” the Bench said.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 21 October 2023)

Delhi excise policy case accused alleges ‘third degree’ torture, HC seeks ED’s stand on his arrest

The Delhi high court has sought the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) stand on a petition by Hyderabad businessman Arun Ramchandra Pillai, who is challenging his arrest and detention in a money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.

In his petition, Pillai claims that “third degree” methods, which refer to brutal tactics used by police officers during interrogation, were employed to obtain information. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, on Friday, asked the ED to respond to the petition’s maintainability. Advocate Nitesh Rana,
representing the petitioner, argued that the arrest order issued by the ED on March 6 and subsequent remand orders violated the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He argued that no grounds for arrest were ever provided to Pillai, as required under
Section 19(1) of the PMLA, thus violating his constitutional rights.

The petitioner further contended that the remand orders failed to establish whether the ED had sufficient evidence to form “reasons to believe” that Pillai was guilty of an offense under the PMLA. The petition stated that the ED had used coercive tactics, including “third degree” measures, in a vindictive manner to obtain information, and this was enabled by the arrest and remand orders, which should be quashed.

The ED’s counsel countered that the petition was not maintainable. The court has scheduled further hearings on November 3, where the petitioner’s bail plea will also be considered.

Earlier this month, Pillai had sought bail, asserting that there was no evidence to justify his detention. A trial court had previously denied his bail request, stating that his role in the alleged conspiracy was more serious than that of other accused who remained in custody, and that the ED’s case appeared genuine.

The ED has claimed that Pillai was closely associated with BRS MLC K Kavitha in its money laundering case, which originated from a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR.

According to the CBI and the ED, irregularities occurred during the modification of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 (now revoked), and undue favors were granted to license holders. The Delhi government had implemented the excise policy in November 2021 but later scrapped it in September 2022 amid corruption allegations.

(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 21 October 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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