Legal Headlines of the Week
1. High-Speed Internet Restored in 2 Districts on Trial Basis in J&K.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration decided to restore high-speed Internet in Ganderbal and Udhampur Districts in Kashmir and Jammu division respectively on Sunday, the 16th of August. The Administration decided to restore the same from 9 pm on Sunday till September 8. The internet connection in the remaining districts will be continued to be limited to 2G.
2. 2009 Contempt Case Against Prashant Bhushan: SC Frames Questions for Consideration in the 11-Year-old Case.
The Apex Court comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari framed the following questions in the 11-year-old contempt case against Advocate Prashant Bhushan:
i) In case a public statement as to corruption by a particular Judge(s) is permissible, under what circumstances and on what basis, it can be made, and safeguards, if any, to be observed in that regard?
ii) What procedure is to be adopted to make a complaint in such cases when the allegation is about the conduct of a sitting Judge?
iii) Whether against retired Judge(s), any allegation as to corruption can be made publicly, thereby shaking the confidence of the general public in the judiciary; and whether the same would be punishable under the Contempt of Courts Act?
The suo-moto contempt case was filed against Bhushan for alleging that at least half of the 16 Chief Justices of India were corrupt.
3. Protection u/s 53A of TOPA Available to a Person Put in Possession and Has Agreement of Lease in His Favour – states SC
The Apex Court Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash and MR Shah, in the case titled as Union of India v. M/s. KC Sharma & Co., noted that the protection under Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act 1882 is available to a person who is put in possession pursuant to an agreement of lease in his favour though no lease has been executed and registered.
4. SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Transfer of PM CARES Funds to NDRF; Refuses the Need for Fresh National Disaster Plan for COVID-19.
The Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, dismissed a PIL filed by the Centre which sought directions to develop a new national plan under the Disaster Management Act in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Bench observed that the standards of relief under the Disaster Management Act would suffice, and that for the same reason, a new national disaster relief plan was not required.
5. SC dismisses Plea Seeking Dissolution of Justice BS Chauhan Inquiry Commission in Vikas Dubey Encounter Case
The Bench of the Apex Court comprising of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V Subramaniun dismissed a plea seeking the dissolution of the Justice (Retd.) BS Chauhan inquiry Commission constituted to probe the alleged encounter of Vikas Dubey. The Court stated that it has provided certain safeguards with respect to the manner in which the probe is to be conducted and that it finds that the plea has no merit. Consequentially, the plea was dismissed.
6. Investigations Cannot Be Transferred by Invoking Powers U/s 406 of CrPC: SC judgement.
The Supreme Court, in the case of Rhea Chakraborthy v. State of Bihar stated that investigations cannot be transferred by invoking the powers under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The observation was made by Justice Hrishikesh Roy while refusing to allow the plea seeking transfer of FIR registered in Bihar to Mumbai, made by actress Rhea Chakraborthy. The Court also cited the decision in the case of Ram Chander Singh Sagar v. State of Tamil Nadu, wherein it was held that section 406 of CrPC does not give the court the power to transfer investigations from one police station to another for the sole reason that the first information or a remand report is forwarded to a Court; and that the said section only allows the transfer of cases and appeals and not investigations.
7. Defence of Insanity and Juvenility Ordinarily Ought to be Raised in Trial itself: Observes SC.
The Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices NV Ramana, S Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant noted that for claiming the defence of mental soundness under section 84 of the IPC successfully, the Accused must show that he or she suffered from a mental disease or infirmity which would affect the individual’s ability to distinguish right from wrong. The said observation was made by the Court in the case of Mohd. Anwar v. The State (N.C.T. of Delhi).
8. Prashant Bhushan Makes Statement At the SC
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was held guilty in the suo-moto contempt case filed against him, stated before the Supreme Court that “I do not ask for mercy, I do not appeal to magnanimity, I am here to cheerfully submit to any penalty”, quoting Gandhiji. He also expressed his shock over the order and the dismay at being grossly misunderstood. Advocate Prashant Bhushan was held guilty of criminal contempt for tweeting against the judiciary and the CJI on the 14th of August.
9. Action Instituted u/s 31 of the Specific Relief Act is Arbitrable: States SC.
The Supreme Court in the case of Deccan Paper Mills Co. Ltd. v. Regency Mahavir Properties & Ors. held that an action instituted under section 31 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 is not an action in rem, but the action in personam, and hence, arbitrable. The Bench of the Court comprising of Justices RF Nariman, Indira Banerjee and Navin Sinha noted that the usage of the expression “any person” in the section does not include a third party but is limited to a party to the written instrument or any person who can bind such party.
10. Strangers Cannot File Appeal Unless They Are Aggrieved Persons: Observes SC.
The Supreme Court in the case titled as VN Krishna Murthy v Ravikumar observed that strangers cannot be allowed to file an appeal under Section 96 of the Civil Procedure Code unless the court is satisfied that the person falls within the category of ‘aggrieved persons’, and will have to prove that they are affected by the decree in question or that their rights have been violated. The said observation was made by the bench of the Court comprising of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Krishna Murari and S Ravindra Bhat.
11. Tablighi Jamaat Foreigners Were Made “Scapegoats”, states Bombay HC; Quashes FIRs Against Them.
The Division Bench of the High Court of Bombay, comprising of Justice TV Nalawade and Justice MG Sewlikar quashed FIRs filed against 29 foreign nationals booked under several provisions of IPC, Epidemic Diseases Act, Maharashtra Police Act, Disaster Management Act and Foreigners Act, for allegedly violating the conditions provided in their Tourist Visa, by attending the Tablighi Jamaat. Furthermore, the Court stated that “A political government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is a probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats.” The Court also criticized the media’s attempt to take a picture that these foreigners were responsible for spreading COVID-19 virus in India.