Weekly Legal Updates (24 September to 30 September 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 gives Rs 1.5 crore relief to IAF veteran, holds forces guilty

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held the Indian Air force and the Indian Army guilty of medical negligence of a Defence services personnel who was deployed at the border during the 2001-02 operation Parakram. The court stated that he contracted AIDS after a blood transfusion received at a field hospital in 2002.

A bench headed by Justice Ravindra Bhat held the Indian Army and Indian Air force guilty of medical negligence and awarded compensation amounting to Rs 1 crore 54 lakh.

The court ordered that the amount be paid by the IAF within six weeks. The court gave liberty to the IAF to recover half of the amount from the Indian Army.

“Although this court has attempted to give tangible relief at the end of the day, it realizes that no amount of compensation and monetary terms can undo the harm caused by such behavior which has shaken the foundation of the appellant’s dignity, robbed him of honor and rendered him not only desperate but cynical,” the bench said in its judgement.

The soldier was discharged in 2016 from the forces, and was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2014. He had earlier approached the National Consumer Disputes redressal forum seeking compensation for “negligent medical treatment”. The NCDRC has, however, declined to give relief, after the Defence services took the stand that there is no clear evidence to link the blood transfusion with the diagnosis.

When he was denied relief, the officer appealed to the Supreme Court.

The court in its judgement stressed the importance of upholding the dignity and well-being of armed forces personnel. The bench said, “People sign up to join the armed forces with considerable enthusiasm and a sense of patriotic duty. This entails a conscious decision to put their lives on the line and be prepared for the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.”

“A corresponding duty is cast on all state functionaries, including echelons of power within the armed forces, to ensure that the highest standards of safety, which is physical, and mental well-being, as well as wellness are maintained. This is the minimum required of military airforce employees to not only ensure the morale of the forces but also show a sense of how much such personnel matter and that their lives count, which reinforces their commitment and confidence. Any flouting of these standards as the multiple instances in the present case have established, only entails a loss of confidence in personnel, undermines their morale, and injects a sense of bitterness and despair not only in the individual but, to the entire force, leaving a sense of injustice,” the judgement stated.

Taking note of the case, the Supreme Court said that it demonstrated what dignity, honor and compassion towards the appellant lacked.

(Courtesy:- INDIA TODAY, 27 September 2023)

Supreme Court warning to Centre: Do something to clear judiciary appointment by October 9

Taking a dim view of 86 collegium recommendations for judgeship pending with the Centre as also transfer of 26 high court judges and appointment of the chief justice of one HC, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set a deadline of October 9 for the government to come back with “some results” or be ready to face “problem”.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was at pains to highlight that nothing had been done by the Centre in the last seven months since the last hearing in the case in February. The bench said the names were pending before the government for the last 10 months. “You will have to come back with something, otherwise there will be a problem for you. Come with some results. The matter is being listed after seven months but nothing happened in the seven months. Names recommended by high courts have not reached the Supreme Court,” the bench told attorney general R Venkataramani, who sought one week’s adjournment in the case.

The bench thereafter gave details of the pending names before the Centre — 70 names sent by HCs but no decision taken to send them to the SC collegium; nine names sent by the SC collegium for the first time; and seven others whose names were reiterated by the collegium after the Centre sent the recommendations for reconsideration. The bench further elaborated that the SC decision to transfer 26 high court judges is also pending and so does the collegium’s recommendation on appointment of the chief justice to a “very sensitive”.

The court made it clear that it would keep pushing the Centre to adhere to the time-frame fixed by it in clearing the names and any further unreasonable delay would not be countenanced. “There is a lot to say but I am holding myself back as the attorney general seeks one week’s time… I am quiet today but I would not be quiet on the next date,” Justice Kaul said while requesting the AG to use his good offices to convince the government not to delay the process.

The court said it would keep monitoring the development and the case would be listed after every 10 days to take stock of the situation. The bench said many talented lawyers withdraw their consent for judgeship due to delay in the appointment process and, as a result, the judiciary’s endeavour to pick the best talent for judgeship gets frustrated.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar and lawyer Prashant Bhushan submitted that the Centre was violating the apex court’s order by not clearing the names which had been reiterated by the collegium.
The issue of appointment of judges has witnessed a tug of war between the Centre and the judiciary with the government attacking the collegium system of appointment in higher judiciary. The apex court, on the other hand, has been passing a slew of directions to push the Centre to take time-bound decision on recommendations made by the collegium.

The apex court, on the last hearing in February, had said that the Centre’s indecision on notifying a collegium decision to transfer HC judges was very troubling and had warned that the it would be compelled to take a difficult and unpalatable decision.

(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 27 September 2023)

SC cites pending matters, expresses inability to urgently hear challenge to services law

Citing back-to-back listing of “many important pending matters” before constitution benches in October, the Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its inability to urgently constitute a five-judge bench to hear the Delhi government’s petition challenging the validity of National Capital Territory of
Delhi (Amendment) Act, which gave back control over Delhi’s bureaucracy to the Centre.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi requested a bench headed by CJI D Y Chandrachud for urgent listing of the petition which first challenged the validity of the May 19 ordinance that annulled the SC’s May 11 judgment giving legislative and executive control over bureaucracy to the elected government. However, the SC’s five-judge bench had ruled that Parliament had the power to make changes in how the bureaucracy was controlled. On July 20, the SC had referred the matter to a five-judge bench.

On August 7, Parliament enacted the NCTD (Amendment) Act, forcing the Delhi government to amend its petition to challenge the law. On August 25, the SC permitted Delhi government to amend its petition to challenge the law. Singhvi said the court must hear the “agony of the administration” as after enactment of the ordinance and the subsequent law, no bureaucrat was listening to ministers or carrying out their orders. “This petition should get priority over all other pending matters,” he requested.

The CJI said, “I am in two sevenjudge bench matters — one for reconsideration of the 1998 ruling in P V Narasimha Rao case which had laid down that a legislator voting in a House in lieu of bribe would not be prosecuted because of the immunity under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution; and another matter relating to validity of arbitration agreements. Thereafter, there are five-judge benches which will take up matters relating to Assam NRC and validity of Section 6A of the Citizenshi p Act as also the issue of LCV driving licence holders.”

With the seven-judge benches scheduled to take up the entirety of the month of October, there is little chance of the SC scheduling hearing of the Delhi services matter before mid-November. However, the CJI said he would examine when it could be listed for hearing.

The July 20 order referring the matter to a five-judge bench had said, “The position of law is that a law enacted by Parliament can limit the executive power of the government of NCTD over ‘services’. The power of Parliament to enact a law granting the Union of India executive power over services is not in contention. It is now a settled position of law. However, this court, while dealing with the constitutional validity of the May 19 ordinance, must decide if the exercise of such power (by Parliament) is valid.”

(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 28 September 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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