Weekly Legal Updates (9 April to 15 April 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.

SC forms panel to oversee degree verification of advocates

In a significant initiative related to legal profession, the Supreme Court on Monday constituted a high powered committee headed by former SC judge Justice BS Chauhan to oversee the process of verification of degree certificates of practising advocates and weed out the fake ones.

The committee shall comprise of 8 members including Justice Chauhan, former Allahabad High Court judge, Justice Arun Tandon, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, Senior Advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Maninder Singh and three members to be nominated by the Bar Council of India (BCI).

The development comes after a three judge bench including Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala passed this order on Monday on a plea filed by lawyer Ajay Shankar Srivastava challenging an office order of BCI to all State Bar Councils to interdict the process of verification undertaken by state BCIs.

The bench observed that it is duty of all genuine lawyers to cooperate in this process of having their degrees verified and unless this exercise is carried out periodically, the administration of justice would be under a serious cloud. (Courtesy:- CNBCTV18 10 April 2023)

SC to examine why state bar councils charging different enrolment fees from advocates

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a petition that has challenged the different enrolment fees being charged by different state bar councils from advocates.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, while issuing notice to the Centre, the Bar Council of India (BCI) and all state bar councils, termed this a significant issue.

The plea was filed by Gaurav Kumar, who appeared in person and submitted that the charging of enrolment fees is a violation of Section 24(1) of the Advocates Act 1961 and that the BCI has the duty to ensure that exorbitant enrolment fees were not charged.

Kumar’s plea stated that various state bar councils charge differently for enrolment of advocates.

As per the petition, Odisha charges Rs 42,100, Gujarat Rs 25,000, Uttarakhand Rs 23,650, Jharkhand Rs 21,460 and Kerala Rs 20,000.

The plea also stated that the enrolment fees charged by State Bar Councils were also in violation of Section 24 of the Advocates Act.

Section 24(1)(e) provides that State Bar Councils should charge Rs 600 and the BCI Rs 150 by way of bank draft. Advocates belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities need to pay only Rs 100 and Rs 25 for enrolment with State Bar Councils and the BCI. (Courtesy:- India Today, 10 April 2023)

Supreme Court allows Vedanta to carry out upkeep of its Sterlite plant

The Supreme Court has allowed Sterlite Copper to carry out the upkeep of the plant in Tamil Nadu, Vedanta informed on Monday. It said the three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India Justice D Y Chandrachud allowed the company to “open in the national interest”.  

Vedanta said it had filed applications seeking reliefs from the top court to ensure proper upkeep of the Copper Smelter Plant, which was shut in 2018. The court considered the report of the High Powered Expert Committee and the recommendations of the state government. 

After considering the report, the apex court permitted Vedanta to carry out the activities at the plant. “The court considered the aspect of the plant being a national asset as its reopening would immensely help in India becoming self-reliant in copper,” the company said. “Today’s development has brought much cheer and hope to the communities dependent on this plant.”

The copper plant has remained shut since May 2018. Following the closure of the unit that used to contribute 40 per cent of domestic copper production, India has become a net importer of the metal crucial for the country’s energy transition from being a net exporter earlier, the company said. (Courtesy:- Business Today 10 April 2023)

Time in hospital won’t be part of police custody period: Supreme Court

It has become very common nowadays that an accused after getting arrested becomes ill and gets hospitalised, and police custody expires during treatment, denying the cops an opportunity to interrogate him/her. But the Supreme Court on Monday said that police may get additional time to quiz accused to compensate for the time lost in treatment. 

A bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar said that no accused can be allowed to play with the investigation and/or the court’s process. It allowed a CBI plea seeking additional time to interrogate a coal-scam accused belonging to West Bengal, noting that the agency was given seven days’ custody but it could interrogate him only for two-and-half days as he was admitted to hospital and subsequently granted interim bail. 

The bench said, “. . . the respondent-accused has successfully avoided the full operation of the order of police custody granted by the learned special judge. . . No accused can be permitted to play with the investigation and/or the court’s process. No accused can be permitted to frustrate the judicial process by his conduct.”

The bench also said, “It cannot be disputed that the right of custodial interrogation/investigation is also a very important right in favour of the investigating agency to unearth the truth, which the accused has purposely and successfully tried to frustrate. Therefore, by not permitting the CBI to have police custody interrogation for the remainder period of seven days, it will be giving a premium to an accused who has been successful in frustrating the judicial process. ”

Accepting CBI’s contention, the SC said, “The appellant-CBI is permitted to have police custody remand of the respondent for a period of four days.(Courtesy:- The Times of India, 11 April 2023)

SC raps UP for invoking NSA in municipal tax recovery case

The SC bench expressed displeasure at UP government for not withdrawing the NSA charges against Yusuf Malik despite the court’s suggestion on previous hearings.

A bench headed by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul ordered the immediate release of Malik from Rampur Jail, pulling up the state government for invoking the NSA against the politician regarding a municipal tax recovery case.

“We are quite amazed at the invocation of NSA for recovery of revenue dues. From the records of the case, we hold that it is clearly a case of non-application of mind. Therefore, we quash the NSA and direct that the petitioner be set at liberty forthwith,” the court said in its order.

The bench, which also included justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, further directed that the information be sent to the Rampur district judge without delay to ascertain Malik was released from prison immediately.

During the proceedings, the bench expressed displeasure at the state government not withdrawing the NSA charges against Malik despite the court’s suggestion on previous hearings. (Courtesy:- Hindustan Times, 12 April 2023)

Karnataka govt’s decision on scrapping 4% Muslim quota prima facie based on ‘absolutely fallacious assumption’: SC

A bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna recorded the statement Mehta on behalf of the state government as it decided to examine on April 18 the validity of the government order, taken just ahead of state Assembly polls. 

After hearing senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave, Prof Ravivarma Kumar, and Gopal Sankaranarayanan for petitioners L Ghulam Rasool and others, the bench said the decision was prima facie based on fallacious assumption and was vitiated as it was based on the interim report of a Commission.

“A large number of people were denied the benefit of reservation by a stroke of a single decision,” the court noted. “We’re just saying that prima facie, the order you have passed appears to suggest that the foundation of your decision-making process is shaky and flawed,” the bench said.

The bench also asked Mehta as to what was the great urgency to scrap the quota and it is based on an interim report, and the state government could have waited for the final report.

The court indicated to pass an interim stay on the decision. Karnataka government as well as Vokkalinga and Lingayat community members led by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi strongly opposed any interim order in the matter. “There are competing factors. Unless something is going to happen, it would be highly unfair if stay is granted,”. (Courtesy:- Deccan Herald, 13 April 2023)

Centre must devise mechanism to stop child marriage: Supreme Court

A month and half after Assam government’s proactive steps against child marriages drew ire of civil society which termed it a targeted action against minority community, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Union government to devise mechanism to enforce Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

While hearing a six year-old petition complaining that girls below 18 years of age are being married off despite child marriages being outlawed almost a century ago and a new law enacted in 2006, a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala asked the Centre to collate data from various states on the extent of prevalence of child marriage. 

Asking additional solicitor general Madhavi Divan to file a status report on number of child marriages performed in various states and the action taken, the SC also asked the Centre to specify the policies and mechanisms formulated for enforcement of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which terms any girl below 18 years as a child. 

“We expect a comprehensive affidavit from the ministry of women and child development on these issues. Moreover, the ministry would also collect data from the states on appointment of child marriage prohibition officers, as per Section 16 of the 2016 law. The states must inform the Centre whether the child marriage prohibition officers are exclusively notified or additional charge is being given to officers entrusted with other duties,” the bench said. Courtesy:- The Times of India, 14 April 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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