Weekly Legal Updates (2 July to 8 July 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.

Supreme Court surprised over Punjab and Haryana HC verdict awarding different jail terms to persons convicted of same offence

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed surprise over the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s decision to award different jail terms to various persons convicted of the same offence and having indistinguishable roles in the crime.

Deciding an appeal arising out of the high court’s decision sentencing eight persons of an unlawful assembly that attacked a person with deadly weapons and killed him, a Bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Dutta said, “The sentencing in this case, to put it mildly, is inexplicable (if not downright bizarre).”

The top court noted that: “On the one hand, Krishan underwent sentence for 9 years 4 months- at the other end of the spectrum, Sunder s/o Rajpal underwent only 11 months. No rationale appears from the reasoning of the High Court for this wide disparity. It is not as though the court took note of the role ascribed to the accused (such a course was not possible, given the nature of the evidence).

“If it were assumed that the age of the accused played a role, then Krishan, at 61 years – who served 9 years and Brahmajit, who had served in the army, and was detained for over 8 years got the stiffest sentence. On the other end of the scale, younger persons were left relatively unscathed, having served between 3 years and 11 months,” the Bench said.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune , 4 July 2023)

Supreme Court extends interim protection to activist Teesta Setalvad from arrest and surrender till July 19

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Gujarat government on social activist Teesta Setalvad’s bail plea in the forgery case relating to 2002 communal riots cases.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai, A S Bopanna and Dipankar Datta also extended till July 19 its interim order protecting her from surrendering and arrest pursuant to the Gujarat high court rejecting her bail plea.
The case is related to alleged forgery of documents, tutoring of witnesses and influencing the system to malign the state and its functionaries in the country and abroad.
In a special late-night hearing on July 1, the apex court had protected Setalvad from arrest and stayed for a week the high court order.

Setalvad is out of jail after having secured interim bail from the apex court in September last year.
The court had observed Setalvad made attempts to unsettle a democratically elected government and sully the image of the then chief minister and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and tried to send him to jail.

Setalvad was arrested in June last year along with former Gujarat Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in an offence registered by Ahmedabad crime branch police for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame “innocent people” in the post-Godhra riots cases.

In its judgment, the high court had observed that prima facie Setalvad used her close associates and riot victims to file “false and fabricated affidavits before the Supreme Court with a view to unseat the establishment and to tarnish the image of establishment and the then chief minister (Modi)”.

(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 5 July 2023)

SC defers administration of oath to Justice Umesh Kumar as DERC chairperson

The Supreme Court on Monday deferred the oath taking ceremony of DERC chairperson-designate Justice (retd) Umesh Kumar and sought responses from the Centre and the office of the Lieutenant Governor on a plea of the Delhi government challenging the law governing such an appointment.

“The administering of oath to the former judge of Allahabad High Court (as DERC chairperson) stands deferred,” said a bench comprising Chief justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha.

The top court also issued notices to the Centre and the office of the LG on the plea which also challenged the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs appointing Justice Kumar as the DERC (Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission) chairperson.

The court has now fixed the plea of the Delhi government for hearing on July 11 and asked the Centre and others to file their responses to the petition a day before.

On July 3, Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena had advised Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to complete the oath taking exercise of Justice Kumar through video conferencing, after the event was postponed due to Power Minister Atishi’s “ill health”.

The appointment of the DERC chairperson has led to a power tussle between the Delhi government and the office of the LG.

(Courtesy:- The Statesman, 4 July 2023)

Punjab moves Supreme Court against centre to get its outstanding RDF and MDF dues

the Punjab government on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court of India against the Centre for its refusal to pay statutory charges — including Rural Development Fund (RDF) and Mandi Development Fee (MDF) — to the tune of Rs 4,208 crore.

It was stated that out of Rs 4208 crore pending, Rs 3637 crore was towards RDF and Rs 571 crore was Mandi Fee. While filing the suit in the apex court, the department of food and civil supplies has stated that the Centre’s refusal of payment of statutory charges and insistence on capping the statutory charges to a total of 2 per cent of the MSP was an outright transgression of the state’s exclusive legislative powers under the Constitution of India, which empowers it to determine the rate of fees to be levied in respect of agriculture and market.

The Centre has not been paying RDF to the state for the last four procurement seasons. The state charges 3 per cent each of RDF and MDF on Centre for carrying out the biggest procurement operations of wheat and rice for Government of India’s Public Distribution System (PDS). Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had on Tuesday stated that they will move the SC against the Centre, after having given an ultimatum to the Centre to clear all pending dues by July 4 to avoid facing legal action.

(Courtesy:- The Indian Express, 6 July 2023)

Supreme Court Notice To ‘Dharam Sansad’ Leader Over Remarks On Constitution

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the ‘Dharam Sansad’ leader Yati Narsinghanand in contempt of a court petition over his remarks against the Constitution and the Supreme Court of India.

A bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh issued notice to Narsinghanand on the plea of activist Shachi Nelli seeking to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against him.

In January 2022, the then Attorney General of India KK Venugopal granted consent to Nelli to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Narsinghanand over his remarks.

Nelli had sought the consent of AG to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Narsinghanand.

AG had said the statement made by Narsinghanand is a “direct attempt to lower the authority of the Supreme Court” in the minds of the general public.

“I find that the statement made by Yati Narsinganand… is a direct attempt to lower the authority of the Supreme Court in the minds of the general public. This would certainly amount to contempt of the Supreme Court of India,” the AG had said in the letter

The letter further stated, “I accordingly grant consent to initiate proceedings for criminal contempt of the Supreme Court of India in terms of Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3(a) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court of India, 1975.”

Nelli had written the letter to AG saying that in an interview that went viral on Twitter on January 14, Narsinghanand has made ‘derogatory remarks’.

(Courtesy:- NDTV, 7 July b2023)

Supreme Court stays High Court order on old pension scheme for paramilitary forces

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Delhi High Court judgment which held that the old pension scheme (OPS) will be implemented in the Central Paramilitary Forces (CAPF).

During a brief hearing, a bench of Justices Sanjeev Khanna and Bela M Trivedi issued notice, stayed the operation of the order, and said, “In the meanwhile, there will be stay of operation of the impugned judgment to the extent it directs that the old pension scheme would be applicable to the para-military forces.”

The court has slated the matter for a further hearing in February 2024.

The main contention of the petitioners was that they were offered an appointment for the post of Assistant Commandant from October 2004 to 2005.

The government then came out with a notification in December 2003 and the New Contributory Pension Scheme (NPS) was implemented from January 2004. However, the said scheme was not applicable to the armed forces, as the forces shall be governed by the old pension scheme already existing.

(Courtesy:- India Today, 9 July 2023)

Apex court sets aside Calcutta HC interim order on fresh recruitment of 32,000 teacher

The Supreme Court on Friday set aside an interim order passed by Calcutta High Court that had directed fresh recruitment of 32,000 teachers in state government-sponsored and aided primary schools.

A bench of Justices J.K. Maheshwari and K.V. Viswanathan requested the high court to expedite the hearing on a batch of writ petitions/cross petitions related to alleged illegalities in the selection process.

A division bench of the high court had already stayed one part of a single-bench order that had ordered dismissal of 32,000 teachers. The Supreme Court’s decision on Friday relates to fresh recruitment to the 32,000 teacher posts.

The Supreme Court bench said on Friday: “Considering the fact that this is a matter relating to selection and appointment of a large number of assistant teachers, we hope and trust that such controversy ought to be decided at the earliest. Therefore, we request the high court to expedite the hearing of the writ petitions at the earliest.”

The top court passed the order after hearing a battery of senior lawyers appearing for the Bengal government, the state primary education board and some aggrieved candidates who complained that a division bench of the high court had passed the impugned order for a fresh recruitment process to be completed by August-end without hearing their views.

The state and the board argued that it was difficult to comply with the directive of the high court because of the short time given by the division bench for completing the recruitment of 32,000 teachers. The process, they said, is extremely complex and involves massive expenditure and effort by the administration.

“The SLP (special leave petition) arises out of an order passed on May 19 by a division bench of Calcutta HC challenging the May 12 Order…. The division bench considered aspects of violation of natural justice in granting interim relief and observed so and so. The primary contention advanced before this court is that the petitioners were not a party before the writ court,” the apex court order said.

“It is also urged that when the division bench granted interim relief, the direction for fresh recruitment was not proper and a stay is sought…. State and Board contend that it is an expensive exercise that cannot be done in that time frame….

“Having heard the learned counsel, and without producing any opinion on merits, we are impressed by the submission that a single judge passed the order without hearing the teachers or their representatives. Division bench direction is not justified. Therefore, we set aside the division bench interim order to the extent of conducting the fresh exercise. The same is subject to the final outcome of the writ appeal…. Liberty to raise all contentions is left open,” the order said.

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of Calcutta High Court had on May 12 ordered cancellation of the appointment of around 32,000 teachers of primary schools who had not completed teacher training when they were recruited through a selection process in 2016, based on a Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) notification issued in 2014.

The single-judge bench had also said the 32,000-odd teachers would have to appear in an aptitude test to be conducted by the state primary education board.

The high court division bench of Justices Subrata Talukdar and Supratim Bhattacharya had on May 19 stayed a part (the dismissal of teachers) of the order of the single-judge bench till September.

But it upheld the part of the order that directed the preparation of a fresh panel of candidates within three months to fill the posts that would fall vacant once the 32,000-odd teachers lost their jobs.

The state board moved an SLP in the apex court so the teachers could continue their jobs beyond September.

“We submitted before the Supreme Court that the candidates took training during a period that was granted by the Union education ministry. We also submitted that the aptitude test was conducted…. The apex court accepted this,” said Goutam Paul, state primary education board president.

(Courtesy:- The Telegraph Online, 8 July 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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