Weekly Legal Updates (30 July to 5 August 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.

In Contempt Cases, Don’t Let Emotions Affect Judgment: Supreme Court

Courts must not be hypersensitive or swung by emotions while exercising contempt jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol made the observation while setting aside a Calcutta High Court order that had revoked a doctor’s license for contempt of court.

“The court has time and again asserted that the contempt jurisdiction enjoyed by the courts is only for the purpose of upholding the majority of the judicial system that exists.

“While exercising this power, the courts must not be hypersensitive or swung by emotions but must act judiciously,” the SC said.

The bench said the doctor’s license cannot be suspended as a penalty in contempt proceedings.

“A medical practitioner guilty of contempt of court may also be so for professional misconduct but the same would depend on the gravity/nature of the contemptuous conduct of the person in question.

“They are, however, offences separate and distinct from each other. The former is regulated by the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and the latter is under the jurisdiction of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019,” the bench said.

The top court was hearing a plea challenging the judgement of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court which upheld various orders of a single bench.

The single bench had suspended the appellant’s medical license as a penalty in the contempt proceedings initiated against him for failure to remove an unauthorised construction.

The top court noted that the doctor has carried out the requisite demolition with the exception of approximately 250 mm in the rear portion as it would render the building, legally constructed, unsafe.

“In respect of the unauthorised construction that remains, we direct that an undertaking be furnished before the concerned High Court that remedial construction to safeguard the soundness of the existing building and the consequent demolishing of the unauthorised construction shall be completed within a reasonable time,” the bench said.

(Courtesy:- NDTV, 30 July 2023)

ANI Tax Evasion Case: Supreme Court Orders Reconsideration Of Reward Paid To Whistleblower

: The Supreme Court directed the Ministry of Finance’s reward committee to reconsider the awarded amount to a person, who gave information about tax evasion by news agency M/s ANI Media Pvt Ltd, reported Live Law. Notably, the individual who drew the attention of the authorities on the matter appealed before the apex court that after his information, the news agency came forward and paid the service tax dues of Rs 2.59 crore.

After the information, the reward committee sanctioned a final reward of Rs.5.50 Lakhs to the appellant. However, the person claimed that he is entitled to get Rs.51.80 Lakhs as a reward under
clause 4.1 of the “Reward to Informers” policy.

According to the clause, the informer is entitled to get a reward of up to 20 per cent of the amount
evaded and also the amount of fine and penalty imposed by the tax department. The “Reward to
Informers and Government Servants Review of Policy-Procedure and Guidelines” were issued by the
Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue), Central Board of Excise and Customs.

The appellant approached the Bombay High Court in 2015.

In 2015, the appellant approached the Bombay High Court against the reward he received from the
rewards committee. the Principal Commissioner of Service Tax admitted that the concerned person
proved the information about the news agency ANI.

In the affidavit submitted by the Principal Commissioner of Service Tax, he also admitted that
sanctioned a final reward of Rs.5.50 lakh to the appellant on the basis of the informtion provided by
him. The appellant filed a rejoinder before the High Court against the department’s stand, reported
Live Law.

He stated that his responsibility was to provide only the information and he is entitled to the full
reward based on the amount recovered by the authorities. The appellant argued that the authorities
could not sanction only a portion of the reward.

In 2016, the Bombay HC held that the writ petition filed by the individual involved disputed questions
of fact and a civil suit should be filed. The appellant then approached the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court pulled up the tax department. It observed that the reward committee lacked
reasoning while providing the reward. The court directed the department to provide well-found
reasons to support its conclusions.

“The minutes show complete non-application of mind on the prayer made by the appellant. It is well
settled that if the decision-making authority does not record reasons for coming to a particular
conclusion, the reasons cannot be supplied by filing affidavits, ” the bench, consisting of Justices
Abhay S. Oka and Justice Sanjay Karol, observed as reported by the media house.

The bench also noted that in 2018, the Additional Solicitor General had informed the court that the
reward money would be enhanced Rs 9.45 lakh.

(Courtesy:- Times Now, 30 July 2023)

Supreme Court demolishes NIA proof against Elgar case accused

Five years after they were arrested in the Elgar Parishad violence case, civil rights activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferriera were granted bail by the Supreme Court on Friday. They and 14 others face charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Gonsalves and Ferriera got bail on merit after the Bombay High Court granted similar relief to another accused, Anand Teltumbde, eight months ago.

However, the High Court refused it to Gonsalves and Ferriera, hence their appeal to the Supreme Court. Two other accused are also out of jail on different grounds—Sudha Bharadwaj on default bail and Varavara Rao on medical bail. Another accused, Gautam Navlakha, is under house arrest.

“Graver the offence, greater should be the care taken to see that the offence would fall within the four corners of the Act,” the court observed as it clinically dissected the NIA’s material against Gonsalves and Ferriera. The charges against them included membership of the proscribed Communist Party of India (Maoist), recruiting youth, training cadre and handling funds for the outfit. The NIA claimed they were members of the banned outfit through its frontal organisation, the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL). But it failed to produce material directly linking IAPL with the CPI(Maoist).

Going further, the court interpreted UAPA’s Section 38, which deals with the offence of membership in a terror outfit. The bench said it was insufficient to prove the association of the accused with the outfit; the NIA has to establish the intention of the duo to further its terror objectives. But there was no evidence on record to do so. In its affidavit, the NIA cited the recovery from their premises of books and other literature on violence and promoting the overthrowing of a democratically elected government through armed struggle.

But the mere possession of such literature would not attract stringent provisions of the UAPA, the bench reasoned. As for the handling of funds, the court inferred they were mainly used for litigation on behalf of party workers.

It’s nobody’s case that the probe agency ought not to have gone after those waging war against the nation. But having made the accusation, it is its responsibility to build a watertight case. Going by how the SC systematically shredded the limited evidence they produced, the NIA’s ability to take the case to its logical conclusion during trial does appear suspect.

(Courtesy:- The Indian Express, 31 July 2023)

Assets case against DK Shivakumar: SC dismisses CBI appeal against HC stay on probe

The Supreme Court on Monday turned down the CBI’s appeal challenging the Karnataka High Court order staying the probe in a disproportionate assets case against state Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, noting that the HC order was only an interim one.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai, C T Ravikumar and Sanjay Kumar said “since the present Special Leave Petition arises out of purely an interlocutory order, we are not inclined to entertain the present petition”.

The bench said that it has left all questions open for adjudication by the High Court and that the agency can approach the HC seeking expeditious hearing.

The CBI had registered a corruption case against Shivakumar in October 2020. This followed the 2017 raid by the Income Tax Department and probe thereafter by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The state government had accorded its sanction in 2019.

Shivakumar challenged the sanction & proceedings before the HC where a single judge stayed the probe but dismissed his plea.

The Congress leader challenged this before a division bench which stayed the order.

(Courtesy:- The Indian Express, 31 July 2023)

Supreme Court summons DGP: ‘No law and order left in Manipur’

SAYING THAT there was a “complete breakdown” of law and order and constitutional machinery in Manipur and the state police had “lost control over the situation”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday summoned the state Director General of Police (DGP) at the next hearing on August 7.

In a status report submitted to the court, the state government said a total of 6,523 FIRs were registered, including 11 related to violence against women and children; 252 people were arrested in connection with these FIRs; there were 5,101 cases of arson; and 12,071 preventive arrests.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Bench led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud that two of the 11 FIRs on violence against women and children had been transferred to the CBI.

Asked what the state intended to do about the other FIRs, Mehta said they could be transferred to the CBI. The Bench, which included Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, asked if the CBI could investigate over 6,000 FIRs.

Mehta said all the 11 FIRs related to violence against women and children could be transferred to the CBI. The court could then take a call later, he said.

“But what about the remaining (FIRs), assuming they don’t go to the CBI? The state police is incapable of investigating. It’s so obvious they have lost control over the situation. There is no law and order left. Absolutely no law and order left,” the CJI said.

Mehta objected and said: “Your Lordships may not say that. There are repercussions. Statements can be used, misused”.

“We are in the midst of a war of a different dimension. So anything that’s said in the court will have repercussions,” Attorney General R Venkataramani said.

Pulling up the police for their “tardy” probe, the court questioned the delay in registering FIRs. “Look at the way the investigation is so lethargic. It appears that except for one or two FIRs, there was no arrest at all… statements recorded after such a lapse of time,” the CJI said.

“Not justifying, but given the situation on the ground, that (delay) may have happened. Maybe they were deployed more on the law and order front,” Mehta said.

“That means for two months, the situation was not conducive for recording FIRs… It seems to give us the impression that from the beginning of May until towards the end of July, there was no law… there was a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state. To the point that you cannot even…register an FIR, the police cannot make an arrest,” the CJI said.

“You may be right that the police could not make an arrest because the situation was out of control. An officer of the police could not enter the locality to make an arrest,” he said. “Assuming that is so, does this not point to the fact that there is a complete breakdown of law and order and of the machinery of the state,” he added.

Mehta said the situation was returning to normal and the moment the Centre got to know about an incident, it transferred the case to the CBI and requested the SC to monitor the probe. “There can’t be anything more fair or transparent than this,” he said.

But the CJI said: “If the law and order machinery can’t protect a citizen, where are you left.”

The court also questioned the SG about the allegations by the women who were paraded naked that the police had handed them over to the mob. “The… statements of the two women indicate that they were handed over to the mob by the police. Have any of those policemen been interrogated? Have any arrests been made of the police?…Did the DGP care to find out in all these months…What is he doing?…What has he done,” it asked.

The SG said he didn’t have enough time since Monday, when the court last heard the matter, to find out the facts.

The CJI said the more serious cases would have to be bifurcated and investigation fast-tracked. “That’s the way we will have to send a message of some confidence because one thing which is obviously clear from the record now is that for a period of those two months, right from May 4 until July 27, the police was not in charge. They may have been making some perfunctory arrests etc… but they were not in charge. Either they were incapable of doing it, or they were unwilling to do it,” the court said.

“Whatever happened on the ground has happened… we have gone past that now. So some mechanism has to be set in place by us as a result of which we will have those 6,500 FIRs first sorted out. They have to be bifurcated. Also we can’t dump 6,500 FIRs on the CBI because we will then cause breakdown of CBI’s infrastructural capabilities. They are not meant for this kind of volume,” it said.

Justice Pardiwala sought to know whether the FIRs named the accused, and whether those named had been arrested.

The court also sought to know from the CBI “the limits of its own infrastructure? Can it really investigate 3,000 to 5,000 FIRs?”

The court reiterated that it may consider setting up a committee to look into aspects like relief and rehabilitation and to ensure that the pre-investigation process is fair.

“…we were thinking aloud that we may think of constituting a committee consisting of former judges of the High Court who will make an overall assessment. It will be a broad-based committee. First, we will decide upon the remit of the committee, maybe to decide on the relief and rehabilitation measures, compensation, restoration of homes, just to supervise the work being done by the government… Apart from that, to ensure that the pre-investigation process is fair and done in a proper way, including recording of statements under Section 164… We will not give our mind today on what the constitution of the committee would be… on the aspect of who will conduct the investigation,” the court said.

(Courtesy:- The Indian Express, 1 August 2023)

‘Ensure peaceful protests against Nuh violence’: Supreme Court tells UP, Haryana & Delhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to ensure there is no hate speech or violence during the protest rallies in the national capital in response to the violence in Haryana’s Nuh.

Listing the matter on Friday, the top court directed the state and police authorities to deploy adequate forces and in sensitive areas, make videography of the event and preserve it in addition to CCTV footage of the event.

The application argued by senior advocate CU Singh informed the court 23 such rallies have taken place in Delhi since morning and few others expected in the evening in sensitive areas of the Capital. The Union was represented in the hearing by additional solicitor general SV Raju.

Members of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad staged protests in several parts of Delhi against the violence. The protestors hit the streets near East Delhi’s Nirman Vihar Metro station and Ghonda Chowk, raising slogans.

The Delhi Police swung into action and ensured heavy security deployment in the area. Apart from these two places, demonstrations were also held near Subhash Nagar Chowk.

Two home guards and four civilians were killed in the communal violence which broke out in Haryana’s Nuh on July 31. 116 people have been arrested so far.

“Other than 116 people we have arrested, we have detained 90 people and investigation is being done…Apart from the incident that occurred in Gurugram mosque, some fire incidents also occurred in Sohna and Badshahpur and strict actions are being taken at these places as well,” Haryana DGP PK Agrawal told ANI.

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said 14 units of paramilitary forces were sent to Nuh, three in Palwal, two in Faridabad and one in Gurugram.

“At present, the situation is normal in Nuh and surrounding areas, security agencies have been on high alert”, the chief minister said.

(Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 2 August 2023)

X Corp files appeal in Karnataka High Court against single judge order

Microblogging site Twitter (now X Corp) has approached the High Court of Karnataka against the earlier order of a single judge Bench that had dismissed its petition challenging the Centre’s blocking orders.

The single judge bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit had also imposed a cost of ₹50 lakh on Twitter in its judgement on June 30.

The appeal filed by Twitter will come up before a Division Bench of the High Court.

Twitter’s main contention was that Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had issued blocking orders under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act without issuing notice to the account holders.

The appeal filed on August 1 is yet to be listed for hearing by the High Court. The appeal challenges the imposition of the ₹50 lakh cost as “unjust and excessive” and has sought an interim relief of keeping it in suspension.

Twitter was ordered to pay the fine within August 14. The order had also specified that if Twitter fails to comply, an additional fine of ₹5,000 per day will be imposed on it.

Twitter had claimed that the government had between February 2, 2021 and February 28, 2022 issued 10 government orders directing it to block 1,474 accounts, 175 tweets, 256 URLs and one hashtag. Twitter challenged the orders related to 39 of these URLs.

The single judge Bench had framed eight questions and only the question of locus standi for filing the petition was answered in favour of Twitter.

The court had rejected all contentions of Twitter and imposed the cost on it. It had pointed out that Twitter had not complied with the government orders for more than a year.

(Courtesy:- The Hindu, 3 August 2023)

Modi surname case: Supreme Court stays Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case, revives MP status

Supreme Court on Friday stayed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case linked to “Modi surname” remark, and revived his status as a Member of Parliament.  

On Friday, SC heard a plea by Rahul Gandhi challenging Gujarat HC high verdict that declined to put on hold his conviction in a defamation case over his “Modi surname” remark. Earlier this year, Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as an MP for his comments linked to PM Modi.

The apex court cited, there was no reasons given by trial judge in giving the maximum punishment of two years.

Disqualification affects not only Gandhi but also the electorates of his constituency, it added. 

However, the top court also cautioned that Gandhi should have been more careful in making the alleged remarks. 

Abhishek Manu Singhvi , who appeared for Rahul Gandhi at the Supreme Court, said, ‘No one was named by Rahul Gandhi in his speech’

The trial court cites 13 cases, but where are the convictions. Where are the criminal anecdotes, he tell Supreme Court. ‘Have no criminal antecedents, no conviction in cases filed by BJP workers’.

He adds, ‘Rahul Gandhi has lost two Parliament sessions. He has been silenced for 8 years. For no other defamation cases, 2 years of suspension were pronounced’

Singhvi also questions, Is it Rahul’s last chance to get acquittal?

Supreme Court earlier in the day told Singhvi that he will have to make out an exceptional case today for a stay on conviction.

Meanwhile, Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani appearing for complainant Purnesh Modi argues that the entire speech spanned over 50 minutes and there is plethora of evidence and clipping of the speech attached in Election Commission of India’s record.

Jethmalani says that Rahul Gandhi has defamed an entire class out of malice.

Responding to the arguments, SC said the conviction is also affecting the constituency.

Supreme Court says it wants to know why maximum sentence was given. Had the judge given a sentence of 1 year and 11 months, then he (Rahul Gandhi) would not have been disqualified, observes Supreme Court.

The court also said that Gandhi should have been more careful in making the alleged remarks.

Rahul Gandhi earlier this week refused to apologise for his remark but urged the top court to stay his conviction in the criminal defamation case, asserting he is not guilty.

BJP leader and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi had filed a criminal defamation case against Gandhi in 2019 over his “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remark made during an election rally in Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019.

In an affidavit filed before the top court, Gandhi said, Modi has in his reply used “slanderous” terms such as “arrogant” for him only because he has refused to apologise.

“Using the criminal process and the consequences under Representation of People Act to arm twist the Petitioner into apologising for no fault is gross abuse of the judicial process and ought not to be countenanced by this Court.

“The petitioner maintains and has always maintained that he is not guilty of offence and that the conviction is unsustainable and if he had to apologise and compound the offence, he would have done it much earlier,” Gandhi said in the affidavit.

(Courtesy:- mint, 4 August 2023)

Nokia patent case: SC dismisses Oppo’s challenge to HC order asking it to pay 23% of India sales

The Supreme Court on August 4 dismissed mobile phone manufacturer Oppo’s plea against a Delhi High Court order asking it to deposit 23 percent of the amount generated from its sales in India for infringing upon Nokia’s patent.

The apex court said that since the Delhi HC is to commence the trial in the trademark infringement suit, it would not be appropriate for it to interfere with or modify the order.  A trial is a process whereby the facts of a case and evidence to substantiate them are ascertained/verified by the court by conducting cross-examination and examination in chief, it added.

The court granted Oppo 10 days to file an affidavit of compliance with the order.

A division bench of the High Court in July passed the order after it found that the Chinese smartphone maker was using Nokia’s technology without requisite consent. It arrived at the 23 percent figure after noting that Oppo’s sales in India accounted for around 23 percent of its global sales.

Oppo secured a licence from Nokia in 2018 for using some of the Finnish telecom gear company’s technology for three years. Oppo had also made advance payments. The agreement, however, did not cover the use of patents relating to 5G standards. Considering that 5G devices account for 52 percent of Oppo’s sales in India, the company would have had to pay a substantially higher amount to Nokia.

Nokia alleged that after the expiry of the agreement, Oppo
witnessed an unprecedented increase in sales, selling around 77 million devices in India without paying a single rupee in royalty.

The Finnish firm argued that it offered to discuss the renewal of the agreement but Oppo refused to negotiate, forcing it to move the high court for infringement of its patent for 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G devices in India.

Nokia sought a pro tem (temporary) deposit from Oppo of an amount either based on the latest counteroffer by the Chinese firm for a global licence or an amount equivalent to the royalty paid under the 2018 agreement.

A single judge of the HC dismissed the application seeking interim deposit, saying the court did not have the power to do so without going into the merits of the case. Nokia then appealed against the order before a two-judge bench of the court.

A division bench set aside the order and asked Oppo to deposit 23 percent of the amount generated from its sales in India. To balance the equities in such cases, the court has the power to pass an order directing Oppo to make a temporary deposit without going into the merits of the case, it said.

Nokia was represented in the Supreme Court by Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Pravin Anand from the law firm Anand and Anand.

(Courtesy:- MoneyControl, 4 August 2023)

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Legal News in this Weekly Legal Update are compiled by Team www.deepakmiglani.comThe News/Story has not been edited by team www.deepakmiglani.com

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