Weekly Legal Updates ( 21 January to 27 January 2024)

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.

PMLA Adjudicating Authority approves ED attachment order in case against ex-Panchkula special judge

Two properties worth more than Rs 7 crore of the relatives and friends of a former special PMLA Judge posted in Haryana’s Panchkula, arrested in a money laundering case, can soon be confiscated after the adjudicating authority approved the seizure order, the Enforcement Directorate said on Sunday.

The central agency had attached the properties in August last year as part of a provisional order issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The PMLA’s adjudicating authority confirmed the said attachment order on January 18, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in a statement.

The assets were “found to be acquired from proceeds of crime in the case of Sudhir Parmar and others. The attached properties comprise two immovable properties, which were in the name of relatives/friends of the accused ex-PMLA judge Sudhir Parmar”. The value of the assets is Rs 7.59 crore, it said.

As per the PMLA, once a provisional attachment order of the ED is confirmed by the adjudicating authority, the agency can move to confiscate it.

Parmar, a former special judge posted in a Panchkula court to try the ED and CBI cases, was arrested by the ED in August as part of a money laundering case linked to charges of bribery against the judicial officer.

The agency had filed two chargesheets in August and October, 2023, in this case in the same special court in Panchkula.

“The judge received illegal gratification to the tune of Rs 5-7 crore from the owners and promoters of IREO Group and M3M Group for extending favours to them,” the ED claimed.

“The said illegal gratification was received by the judge purportedly in the form of loan from Rohit Singh Tomar through his proprietorship firm into the bank accounts of the judge’s relatives without any documentation,” the agency claimed.

The money laundering case stems from an FIR filed by the Haryana Police’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in April, 2023, against Sudhir Parmar, his nephew Ajay Parmar and Roop Kumar Bansal, a promoter of the M3M group.

The agency had earlier arrested Parmar’s nephew Ajay Parmar, two other promoters of real estate company M3M — Basant Bansal and his son Pankaj Bansal — and Lalit Goyal, the owner and MD of another realty group IREO, in this case.

According to the ACB FIR, the ED had said reliable information was received that Sudhir Parmar was showing “favouritism” to the accused, namely Roop Kumar Bansal, his brother Basant Bansal and IREO’s Lalit Goyal in the criminal cases of the ED and other cases of the CBI pending against them in his court.

The ED said in a statement that the ACB FIR stated that “as per reliable information, instances of grave misconduct, abuse of official position and demand and acceptance of undue advantage/bribe from the accused persons in the cases pending in his court were observed (in the judge case)”.

Sudhir Parmar was suspended by the Punjab and Haryana High Court after the registration of the ACB case.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 22 January 2024)

Can’t reject screening requests of Ram Mandir ceremony, Supreme Court directs Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government to not to summarily reject requests for live streaming of Lord Ram Lalla’s ‘pran pratishtha’ (consecration ceremony) in the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya, as a PIL claimed the state has banned it.

The court said that the permission can’t be rejected on the sole ground that other communities are living in the locality. The apex court has also asked that the state to maintain a data of the applications received and decisions taken.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu government told the court that there is no ban on holding screenings of the ceremony or holdings special poojas or bhajans on the occasion.

The decision comes after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday moved the Supreme Court as an urgent matter for hearing against the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government’s alleged order banning the live telecast of Lord Ram Lalla’s ‘pran-pratishtha’ (consecration ceremony) in the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya on Monday, at temples and other public places.

The petition, representing BJP’s state unit secretary Vinoj P Selvam, has been filed by Advocate G Balaji.

“It is respectfully submitted that State Government run by DMK political party has banned live telecast of the auspicious occasion of ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of Lord Ram at Ayodhya in all the temples across the state of Tamil Nadu,” the plea said as per the news agency.

“The government has also banned all kinds of poojas, Archana and Annadanam (poor feeding) bhajans on this auspicious occasion. Such arbitrary exercise of power by the State Government (through police officials) per se violates fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution,” it added.

On Sunday, union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that there were several reports alleging MK Stalin-led state government has banned the live streaming of the pran-pratishtha ceremony of Lord Ram Lalla in Ayodhya Ram Mandir which is scheduled to take place today.

Saying that there are over 200 temples dedicated to Lord Ram in the state, Sitharaman said the police are stopping privately held temples also from organising events.

“Tamil Nadu government has banned watching live telecast of Ayodha Ram Mandir programmes of January 22. In Tamil Nadu there are over 200 temples for Shri Ram. In HR and CE managed temples no puja, bhajan, prasadam or annadanam in the name of Shri Ram is allowed. Police are stopping privately held temples also from organising events. They are threatening organisers that they will rip off pandals,” the finance minister wrote on X.

The assertions were however denied by the state as ‘false news with ulterior motives’.

“Strongly condemn the spreading of false information in an attempt to divert people’s attention from the DMK Youth Conference in Salem…It is unfortunate that people in office, like Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and others, are purposefully propagating this erroneous information,” he said in a social media post.

“The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department hasn’t imposed any limitations on devotees’ freedom to offer food, conduct poojas in the name of Shri Ram, or provide prasad in Tamil Nadu temples,” the state minister added.

The ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of Shri Ram Lalla at Ayodhya Temple will be held at 12:30 pm today. The historic ritual will be graced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, saints, and a host of distinguished guests.

(Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 22 January 2024)

High Court raps Punjab Government over non-compliance of Supreme Court order on CCTVs in police stations

In a major embarrassment for the Punjab Government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted it has reasons to believe that the directions passed by the Supreme Court on installation of CCTV cameras in all police stations have not been complied with by the state in the letter and spirit.

Justice NS Shekhawat asked the Director General of Police to file his personal affidavit on the issue. Among other things, he has been asked to specify whether the CCTV systems have been installed in all the police stations, CIA offices and police posts in each district.

The directions came as Justice Shekhawat made it clear that there were serious lapses not only on the part of the SHO concerned, but also the district-level “oversight committee” on the issue of preservation of CCTV footage of a police station.

Justice Shekhawat was hearing petitions for bail and independent probe filed by accused in a drugs case registered under the provisions of the NDPS Act on June 20, 2022, at the Sultanpur Lodhi police station in Kapurthala district.

Justice Shekhawat’s Bench was told that CCTV camera recordings and the video clips of the entry and exit points of the Sultanpur Lodhi police station and its lockup were not preserved by the SHO despite a special court’s direction on an application by the accused claiming they had been wrongly arrested in the evening on June 20, 2022.

Justice Shekhawat asserted the averments in a reply by Sultanpur Lodhi Sub-Division DSP following court directions were not only evasive, but contemptuous also, while making it clear that the SHO, too, had apparently violated not only the special court orders, but also directions by the Supreme Court in the case of Paramvir Singh Saini. Even Kapurthala SSP’s stand was not only evasive, but in the teeth of directions passed by the Supreme Court.

Justice Shekhawat added that the DGP would specify in his affidavit whether “oversight committees” had been constituted at the state and the district levels? The names and designations of the committee members were also directed to be mentioned.

The DGP was also asked to specifically state that each part of the police station, police-post and CIA was covered and no part was left uncovered. Besides this, he would specify whether CCTV cameras had been installed at all entry and exit points, main gate, all lockups, corridors, lobby, reception area, verandas, rooms used by police officials, hall, outside washrooms, open compound, duty officials room and the back side area of the police station.

Directions by court

  • The DGP has been asked to specifically state if CCTV systems had night vision and “consist of audio as well as video footage”.
  • Detail arrangements for supplying electricity to CCTV systems during power failures at the police stations, posts and CIA offices.
  • Indicate provisions for recording CCTV footage on central servers at the district and state levels, specifying offline and online storage arrangements.
  • Confirm if recording equipment can store data for at least 18 months, both on main DVR/NVR and central storage.

Courtesy:- The Tribune, 23 January 2024)

Supreme Court lifts HP High Court stay on Gaggal airport expansion project in Kangra district

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s order that halted the Gaggal Airport expansion project in Kangra district of the state.

Acting on a petition filed by Gaggal Airport Expansion Affected Society Welfare Committee, the high court had on January 9 ordered a status quo till February 29 on all aspects of the airport expansion project, including the relief and rehabilitation process, taking possession of the land notified for acquisition and the demolition of structures on it.

A three-judge Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud stayed the high court’s order after senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi submitted on behalf of the Himachal Pradesh Government, Airports Authority of India and the National Highways Authority of India pointed out that the high court stalled the project despite the Advocate General making a statement that that no demolition will take place and no one will be dispossessed.

Rohatgi said among the three airports in Himachal Pradesh, the one at Kangra was the only one where expansion was possible.

“There is already an airport and this is the expansion plan,” the CJI said when a lawyer representing the respondents tried to impress upon the Bench by saying that the area fell under seismic zone-v.

While issuing notice on the state’s petition, the top court stayed the high court’s order and said the HC can proceed to decide the matter.

The high court had on January 9 ordered status quo in all respects with regard to the relief and rehabilitation process as well as taking possession of the land notified for acquisition or demolition of structures located on the land notified for acquisition and posted the matter for hearing on February 29.

The petitioners before the high court had contended that since the government was reconsidering the matter, it would not be proper at this stage to permit the state to proceed with taking possession of the land notified for acquisition or demolish structures there or proceed with the relief and rehabilitation process

The plea before the high court had said that since the government was reconsidering the matter, it would not be proper to permit the state to proceed with taking possession of the land notified for acquisition or demolish structures on it or proceed with the relief and rehabilitation process.

The high court had said “there is a possibility that the state government may revisit its own decision to proceed with the expansion of the Gaggal airport after examining all aspects of the matter. In such an event, there is every possibility of time and expenses spent on the hearing on relief and rehabilitation going waste”.

Courtesy:- The Tribune, 23 January 2024)

Supreme Court to decide if Centre violated Punjab domain by extending BSF’s territory

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to examine the validity of the Centre’s decision to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Punjab from 15 to 50 km along the India-Pakistan border.

A three-judge Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud framed legal issues involved in the original suit filed by the Punjab Government under Article 131 of the Constitution challenging the October 11, 2021, notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and posted the matter for final hearing after four weeks.

Article 131 provides a mechanism for adjudication of disputes between the Centre and one or more states; or between the Centre and any state or states on one side and one or more other states on the other; or between two or more states.

While the MHA notification extended the BSF’s jurisdiction from 15 to 50 km in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, it reduced the same from 80 to 50 km in Gujarat. In Rajasthan, the limit remained unchanged at 50 km.

Now, the top court would examine “whether the impugned notification dated October 11, 2021, of increasing the jurisdiction of the BSF in Punjab constitutes an arbitrary exercise of power by the defendant (Centre) under section 139 (1) of the Border Security Force Act, 1968”.

It would also consider “whether the increase in BSF’s jurisdiction to 50 km is beyond the local limit of areas adjoining the borders under the BSF Act” and “whether all states have to be treated alike for the purpose of determining the local limits of areas adjoining the borders of India under Section 139 (1) of the BSF Act”.

The top court would examine if the October 11, 2021, notification amounted to unconstitutional interference in the legislative domain of the state.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta defended the MHA notification saying the local police and state governments would continue to have jurisdiction over law and order issues and the BSF would deal with only national security matters concerning the international border.

Punjab Advocate General Gurminder Singh, however, said the BSF’s jurisdiction would depend on topography, population concentration and other factors.

The Punjab Government had moved the top court in December 2021 against the Centre’s decision.

Courtesy:- The Tribune, 23 January 2024)

Court upholds mother’s right as natural guardian for child adoption

In a significant judgment, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled in favour of a minor mother’s independent right as the natural guardian to give her illegitimate child in adoption. Justice Vinod S Bhardwaj also made it clear that the biological father’s consent requirement in case of a guardian was inconsequential under The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act—1956.

Referring to the Act, Justice Vinod S Bhardwaj asserted only the mother of an illegitimate child was the guardian. The law recognided an independent right of the guardian to give the child in adoption. The biological father’s consent was inconsequential since an expression ‘or’ was used in Act. A father could be a guardian in case of an illegitimate child only after the mother. The law did not confer right on an illegitimate child’s father on a par with a legitimate child’s father.

Justice Bhardwaj also referred to the ‘Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act’ before ruling that an unwanted child of a sexual assault victim might be declared free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee.

Justice Bhardwaj observed the government had also notified the ‘Adoption Regulations 2017’ in exercise of powers under the Juvenile Justice Act. The fundamental principles governing adoption kept the child’s best interest to be of paramount consideration and gave preference to place a child in adoption with the Indian citizens. It also made it clear that a child eligible for adoption included an orphan, abandoned or a surrendered child. Every child was legally free to be given in adoption once the committee so declared. The state was required to ensure all the needs of a child were met and basic human rights were fully protected.

The ruling came in a case where sub registrar of documents refused to register the adoption deed by relying solely on a provision of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, which said a mother/natural guardian could give the child in adoption only after obtaining the father’s consent

Justice Bhardwaj ruled: “The court feels that mother-natural guardian of the illegitimate minor girl child cannot be left to the mercy of her oppressor. Law would not intend to turn the minor to her tormentor to protect and save her left over dignity, honour and pride and plead his consent for putting her life on correctional and restitutive path…. The law should recognize the right of a mother of an illegitimate child and accept her status as the sole guardian of such child.”

Justice Bhardwaj ruled mandating consent from the father was not required after taking into consideration the statutory provisions. The sub-registrar was also directed to register the adoption deed without raising further objections on lack of concurrence from the biological father.

Courtesy:- The Tribune, 23 January 2024)

Wadhawan brothers’ bail cancelled by Supreme Court in multi-crore bank scam case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled the bail granted to former DHFL promoters Kapil Wadhawan and his brother Dheeraj Wadhawan in the multi-crore Yes Bank-DHFL loan scam.

During the hearing, a bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and SC Sharma said the Delhi High Court and trial court “greatly erred” in granting bail to the brothers, who are accused in Rs 34,615-crore bank loan fraud case.

“We have no hesitation that the charge sheet having been filed and cognisance being taken in due time, respondents could not have claimed statutory bail as a right. (The High Court) HC and lower court greatly erred,” Justice Bela M Trivedi said while delivering the judgment.

The bench further said that the trial court would hear afresh on the brothers’ regular bail, and appeals should be allowed accordingly.

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), an accused is entitled for grant of statutory bail if the probe agency fails to file the charge sheet after the conclusion of the investigation in the case within a period of 60 or 90 days.

In the case of the Wadhawan brothers, the CBI filed the charge sheet on the 88th day after lodging the first FIR, as per the law. The trial court, however, granted default bail to the accused and the Delhi High Court in December stayed the order.

The Wadhawan brothers were arrested in the multi-crore scam on July 19 last year. The High Court, however, had clarified that it did not go into the merits of the case.

The charge sheet in the matter was filed on October 15, 2022 and cognisance was taken.

The FIR in the matter was based on a complaint by the Union Bank of India.

In August last year, a month after the arrest of the Wadhawan brothers, an India Today report revealed how they have been living a luxurious life behind bars at Taloja Central Jail, located on the outskirts of Mumbai. India Today reported how the brothers managed to enjoy several outings under the guise of medical checkups at government hospitals in Mumbai.

(Courtesy:- India Today, 24 January 2024)

*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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