Weekly Legal Updates (8 January 2023 to 14 January 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.

Complaint invalid if OC issued before RERA Act passed: Karnataka HC

If occupancy certificate or partial occupancy certificate is issued to a particular project prior to commencement of the Karnataka Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act-2016, the same loses the tag of an ongoing project and a complaint under the Act is not maintainable.

This is what the high court stated recently while quashing the September 30, 2020 order passed by the Karnataka Real Estate Regulatory Authority (K-RERA), which had directed the petitioner-developer, M/s Provident Housing Limited, to return Rs 6,84,494 within 60 days to Shyama Shetty, the complainant.

Allowing the petition filed by the developer, Justice M Nagaprasanna pointed out that in the Newtech Promoters and Developers Pvt Ltd vs State of Uttar Pradesh case, the Supreme Court considered what is an ongoing project and issuance of completion certificate interpreting the Act and the rules made by the Uttar Pradesh government. It had held that the statute is not retrospective merely because it affects the existing rights or its retrospection because a part of the requisites for its action would destroy or impair the vested rights. (Courtesy:- The Times of India, 8 January 2023 Online)

Charges against juvenile declared adult by Supreme Court

Shubam Sangra, declared an adult by the Supreme Court, is formally chargesheeted by the Jammu and Kashmir police’s crime branch in a case related to the gangrape and murder case of an eight-year-old in Kathua in 2018.

Though the trial is likely to start in neighbouring Punjab’s Pathankot, as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2018, the crime branch submitted its chargesheet under various sections including those linked to murder, rape, kidnapping and wrongful confinement before the chief judicial magistrate in Kathua. It was committed to sessions court in Kathua which has fixed January 24 as the next date of hearing in the case.

According to the 2018 Supreme Court order, the sessions court of Pathankot will be hearing the case and the appellate court would be the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Sangra was shifted from a juvenile home to the regular Kathua jail after the crime branch served the Supreme Court order of November 22 in which he was declared an adult.

The crime branch chargesheet detailed Sangra’s alleged involvement in the crime. It said Sangra was responsible for an overdose of sedatives forcibly administered to the eight-year-old, rendering her “incapacitated” to resist sexual assault on her as well as her murder. (Courtesy:- The Times of India, 8 January 2023 Online)

Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Ex-Judge: SC seeks views on closure of Defamation Suit

[Case Title: Ms. X vs. Swatanter Kumar And Ors. T.P.(C) No. 846/2014]

The Supreme Court on Monday(9 January 2023) questioned if it is necessary to continue the defamation litigation while hearing a petition filed by a woman in 2014 asking for transfer of a defamation suit brought by a former Supreme Court judge from Delhi High Court.

The petitioner claimed in the transfer petition that the plaintiff’s peers were holding positions in the court, raising concerns about an unfair trial in the Delhi High Court. As a result, the petitioner requested that the case be transferred to her hometown. The Supreme Court stayed the suit proceedings while admitting the transfer petition.

The former judge had filed the defamation suit against the woman in the Delhi High Court after she alleged that she was sexually harassed by him while she was a law intern.

A Bench comprising Justice KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna asked the Counsels representing the former judge if it was necessary to pursue the defamation suit.

As the Counsels appraised the Bench that they would seek instructions regarding the same, it directed the matter to be listed next on 24th February, 2023.  (9 January 2023)

State can set panel for Uniform Civil Code(UCC). There is no bar on states to set up panel for UCC: Supreme Court

In what could buoy BJP-governed states’ attempts towards uniform civil laws for marriage, divorce, adoption, succession and partition, the Supreme Court on Monday (9 January 2023) said the Uttarakhand government was well within its constitutional jurisdiction to set up a committee to examine implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha said there is no merit in the PIL filed by advocate Anoop Baranwal challenging the validity of the Pushkar Singh Dhami government’s decision to set up a five-member committee to examine the issue.

The CJI said under Article 162 of the Constitution, “the executive power of a state shall extend to the matters with respect to which the legislature of the state has power to make laws”.

The bench then referred to Entry 5 of the Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which conferred the jurisdiction on the state to enact laws on “marriage and divorce; infants and minors; adoption; wills, intestacy, and succession; joint family and partition, all matters in respect of which parties in judicial proceedings were immediately before the commencement of this constitution subject to their personal law”.

On May 27 last year, the BJP government in Uttarakhand had constituted a committee led by former SC judge Ranjana P Desai to draft a proposal for implementation of UCC in the state. The panel has been tasked to hold wide-ranging deliberations and recommend to the government the amendments needed in law for bringing uniform civil laws in the state. (Courtesy:- The Times of India, 10 January 2023)

Govt can’t deny full medical repayment to its employees: HC

In a judgment while deciding a plea by a Delhi government employee against deductions made from his salary for his son’s medical treatment, the court said that all expenses incurred by a government employee for their own, or their dependents’, medical treatment shall be completely reimbursed.

A government employee can’t be denied medical reimbursements on the grounds that the hospital charged the patient more than the approved rates, in the event that the person was referred to the facility in question, the Delhi high court observed on Tuesday, even as it pulled up authorities for letting the case in question drag on for 16 years.

In a judgment while deciding a plea by a Delhi government employee against deductions made from his salary for his son’s medical treatment, justice Chandra Dhari Singh said that all expenses incurred by a government employee for their own, or their dependents’, medical treatment shall be completely reimbursed.

The petitioner, Mahendra Kumar Verma, who was a reader in the court of the metropolitan magistrate in the city’s Tis Hazari court, in 2006 moved the high court, challenging deductions made by the state government from his salary on account of advances for the treatment of his son — who was suffering from brain tumour. (Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 11 January 2023)

To preserve Chandigarh’s heritage, Supreme Court bars floor-wise division of houses

Highlighting the need for striking a proper balance between sustainable development and environment protection, the Supreme Court on Tuesday(10 January 2023) prohibited fragmentation/division/bifurcation/apartmentalisation  of a residential unit in Phase 1 (Sector 1 to 30) of Chandigarh.

“We hold that in view of Rule 14 of the 1960 Rules, Rule 16 of the 2007 Rules and the repeal of the 2001 (Chandigarh Apartment) Rules, fragmentation/division/ bifurcation/apartmentalisation of residential units in Phase 1 of Chandigarh is prohibited,” a Bench led by Justice BR Gavai ordered.

Issuing a slew of directions to preserve the heritage status of Corbusian Chandigarh, the Bench directed the Centre and the Chandigarh Administration to freeze the floor area ratio (FAR) and not to increase it any further.

It also directed them to restrict the number of floors in Phase I to three with a uniform maximum height as deemed appropriate by the heritage committee keeping in view the requirement to maintain its heritage status.

As Justice Gavai pronounced the verdict, senior advocate PS Patwalia, who represented the appellant Residents Welfare Association, Sector 10, Chandigarh, said, “The future is now secure.” Justice Gavai replied, “Let us hope so. We have done our duty.” He also apologised for the more than two-month delay in pronouncing the verdict after it was reserved on the completion of the hearing.

The Bench directed the heritage committee to consider the issue of re-densification in Phase 1 of Chandigarh taking into consideration its own recommendations that the northern sectors of the city (Corbusian Chandigarh) should be preserved in their present form as also the impact of such re-densification on the parking/traffic issues. (Courtesy:- The Tribune, 11 January 2023)

Calcutta HC judge initiates contempt case against lawyers, bar body decides to boycott his court

Justice Rajasekhar Mantha of the Calcutta HC on Tuesday(10 January 2023) initiated contempt proceedings against a group of unnamed lawyers for “obstructing delivery of justice” in his courtroom the previous day, ostensibly in protest against an order granting “blanket protection” from arrest to BJP’s Nandigram MLA Suvendu Adhikari.

As the standoff dragged on, a general body meeting of the bar association decided to abstain from all proceedings in Justice Mantha’s court for the sake of “maintaining peace in HC”.

Chief justice Prakash Shrivastava voiced his anguish at the goings-on whilehearing a petition seeking action against lawyers for the manner of their campaign against Justice Mantha. “Was there any need for the boycott? Can anyone boycott the court?” he asked lawyers. (Courtesy:- The Times of India, 11 January 2023)

Google fails to get relief from NCLAT, moves SC

US tech giant Google today moved the Supreme Court against an order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) refusing an interim stay on the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order imposing Rs 1,337-crore penalty on it.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud agreed to hear it on Monday after senior advocate AM Singhvi, representing the US firm, said extraordinary directions were passed by the CCI which had to be complied by January 19.

On January 4, the CCI had refused an interim stay on an order of the competition regulator imposing Rs 1,337-crore penalty on Google and had asked it to deposit 10% of the amount.

The NCLAT had admitted Google’s challenge to the CCI, slapping the fine for abusing the dominant position of its Android smartphone operating system in the country.

In October 2022, the CCI had asked Google to allow smartphone users on the Android platform to uninstall apps and let them select a search engine of their choice. (Courtesy:- The Tribune, 12 January 2023)

Bombay High Court allows production and sale of Johnson & Johnson baby powder

In a big relief to Johnson & Johnson company, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday quashed and set aside the order by Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that restrained the company to produce and sell its baby powder.

A division bench of Justice Patel and Justice S.G. Dhige allowed the sale of the product by noting, “There were altogether 11-12 results. Of these 2 are non-compliant. All others are within range. Is it either reasonable or proportionate on such a result that the product should be shut down in perpetuity, and manufacturer of all other batches also. Would we want reasonableness or proportionality to take such action that law permits on conforming batches?”

The court set aside the order by FDA and said, “The particular action is needlessly delayed by two years. It’s too late to fall back on example of single batch to justify extreme action of stopping all production of all batches of baby powder. We don’t believe impugned orders can be sustained.”

The court was hearing a petition filed by the company challenging the order by the State government cancelling the manufacturing license of its baby powder in Mumbai.

On September 15, the Joint Commissioner and Licensing Authority, FDA, Maharashtra issued an order cancelling the company’s license, effective from December 15, 2022. In December 2018, the FDA during a random inspector took samples of the baby powder and found it to be “not of standard quality.” The State had then revoked the licence citing public interest and in September 2022, cancelled it and directed the company to recall the stock of the powder from the market. (Courtesy:- The Hindu, 12 January 2023)

*Disclaimer: – Always check with the original copy of judgment from the Court website.

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