As 2016 is going to end soon and we are about to see the dawn of 2017, it is apt time to re look at what Supreme Court and High Courts said this year. What new interpretation of law did the Apex Court offer and what Law has been struck down? We at LEXKHOJ, have compiled important Judgments (Monthly Basis) delivered by the Supreme Court and High Courts this year. Judgments pronounced in the month of May & June 2016 can be read here…
Supreme Court tells tobacco industry, packs must carry bigger warnings
India’s Supreme Court told tobacco companies that they must adhere to a new federal rule requiring much larger health warnings on cigarette packs, in a major setback for the $11 billion industry that opposes the new policy.
The Supreme Court turned down a plea to stay implementation of the new rules introduced from April 1, which require health warnings to cover 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface, up from 20 percent earlier.
In a packed court room in New Delhi, a two-judge bench rejected the industry’s plea to extend a stay it had obtained from a court in Karnataka but agreed to a request to move the rest of the appeals to the Karnataka court.
The Supreme Court also directed the high court of Karnataka state to hear dozens of pleas filed against the new rules in several Indian courts and decide on the matter within six weeks.
Shares in India’s biggest cigarette maker ITC Ltd, part-owned by British American Tobacco, pared gains after the court ruling and ended with losses of 1 percent. U.S.-based Philip Morris International’s India partner Godfrey Phillips ended down marginally. ITC, Godfrey and the industry lobby group Tobacco Institute of India did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Change of surname does not change one’s caste and does not disentitle from claiming reservation: Bombay HC
The Bombay High Court has held that a change of surname by a person does not change his caste and does not disentitle him from claiming reservation. Vacation Bench comprising of Justices Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi and B.R.Gavai allowed the writ petition which challenged the denial of benefit of reservation in post graduate admissionon the ground that the petitioner has changed his surname. The petitioner, now named Shantanu Hari Bhardwaj, contended that the change in his surname is duly notified in the Government Gazette and he possess validity certificate to prove his caste. Taking into account the submissions, the Court directed the concerned authorities to consider the claim of petitioner from reserved category if the petitioner possesses validity certificate and Government Notification notifying the change in his name.
Bring law to enable presumption of guilt of person involved in Honour Killing: Punjab & Haryana HC to Govt.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has exhorted the Haryana Government to bring in a legislation to tackle Honour killing crimes. Justice K. Kannan, referring to the Maharashtra legislation in this regard viz. Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 and the Madras High Court judgment, said that law as an instrument of social engineering should be used to trigger social reform and stem the rot of social evils.
The Court also added “Any public spirited person may approach this Court if the State is found lacking in the initiative to put an end to the festering problems of honour killings and elicit from the State appropriate response for the suggestions given in this case through this order and earlier on.”
“If this is not unconstitutional then what else can be” – Allahabad HC on Delaying retiral Benefits
The Allahabad High Court, in a scathing criticism to the Government laxity and delay in paying retiral benefits to the employees, has asked the state to pay 10 per cent G.P.F. amount which is pending for two decades. Division bench comprising of Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Shamsher Bahadur Singh observed that amount of G.P.F. is obviously the money which belong to employee and if a person who has retired in 1994 is not paid his own money for more than two decades, there can be nothing more serious and harsh on the part of Government authorities.
The Court remarked: “In our system, the Constitution is supreme, but the real power vest in the people of India. A public functionary cannot be permitted to act like a dictator causing harassment to a common man and in particular when the person subject to harassment is his own employee.”
SC Gender Sensitisation Committee frames guidelines for conducting sexual harassment inquiry
Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee of the Supreme Court of India has framed Guidelines for conducting Inquiry by the Internal Sub-Committee on sexual harassments complaints. The guidelines requires the GSICC to constitute a three member, with a majority being women to be constituted to conduct fact finding enquiry. After the fact finding inquiry is concluded by the Internal Sub-Committee, within a period of 90 days, it shall submit a report containing reasons for its findings to the GSICC, which shall take appropriate action. The guidelines also states that the hearing before the committee will have to be duly video graphed.
High court should assign reasons while rejecting applications for leave to appeal: SC
The Supreme Court, in State of Rajasthan vs. Firoz Khan @ Arif Khan, has reiterated that a High Court, while passing orders rejecting the application for leave to appeal before it under Section 378 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, should assign reasons for such rejection.
Referring to State of Maharashtra vs. Sujay Mangesh Poyarekar, the Court said: We are constrained to observe that the High Court grossly erred in passing the impugned order without assigning any reason. In our considered opinion, it was a clear case of total non-application of mind to the case by the learned Judges because the order impugned neither sets out the facts nor the submissions of the parties nor the findings and nor the reasons as to why the leave to file appeal is declined to the appellant. We, therefore, disapprove the casual approach of the High Court in deciding the application, which in our view is against the law laid down by this Court in the case of State of Maharashtra vs. Sujay Mangesh Poyarekar.
The Compliance of principles of natural justice in disciplinary proceedings not a mere formality: SC
The Supreme Court, in CHAMOLI DISTRICT CO-OPERATIVE BANK LTD. VS. RAGHUNATH SINGH RANA has reiterated that the compliance of principles of natural justice by the Employers in Disciplinary proceedings is not a mere formality, especially when the statutory provisions specifically provides that disciplinary proceedings shall be conducted with due observations of the principles of natural justice.
Justices Abhay Manohar Sapre and Ashok Bhushan observed that, imposing of any penalty on an employee of the bank that too major penalty of dismissal from service can only be done after following the statutory provisions governing the disciplinary proceedings.
ONE CAN TAKE LAW INTO HANDS AS SUPREME COURT EXPANDS THE SCOPE OF RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENCE
The Supreme Court ruled that a person would be right in taking the law into his hands if he witnessed his parents or relatives being assaulted.
The landmark ruling came in the case of two persons who had been convicted by the trial court for assaulting some of their neighbours in the villagers. The Rajasthan high court upheld their conviction and sentenced them to two years’ rigorous imprisonment.
But the Supreme Court bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh found the facts to be a little different: It was true that the two convicts had assaulted others, but police failed to point out why the two had resorted to assault and how they had so many injury marks on their bodies, the SC reasoned while acquitting the two of all charges.
LAWYERS OWE A DUTY TO THE COURT AND ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE: HC
The High Court of Punjab and Haryana stated a remarkable statement for the Advocates and Legal Practitioners while dismissing a revision petition under Section 311 of Cr P.C. The High Court observed that the lawyers owed a duty to the court and to the administration of justice. This revision is directed against the order with dated 17.03.2012, vide which the Additional Sessions Judge dismissed the application filled by the accused under Section 311 Cr P.C.
The Counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the powers under Section 311 Cr P.C. are wide and if the permission is not accorded, it would result in failure of justice and some important questions were left to be put to the witnesses regarding the identity of the petitioner.
Dismissing the application, the Court noted that the petitioner to recall the witnesses was only an attempt to delay the trial as noted by the lower court. The Court also noted that the petitioner’s counsel had already cross examined the witness and his only attempt is to abuse the process of law by delaying the case
Justice Anita Chaudhary dismissing the application, observation is regarded so much high because now a days legal practitioners has started seeing legal process as a business. So, this is a lesson to all of them that they also owe a duty towards the Court and Administration of Justice.
SC extends time for completing BCI ‘Verification’ Process by three months
The Supreme Court of India has allowed Bar Council of India three more months for completing “verification” Process of Advocates under Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules 2015, by three months. A Division Bench comprising of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Amitava Roy also will hear the petition challenging the Rules after four weeks and meanwhile the Stay order granted to Advocates on Record will continue. Earlier, the Apex court had directed all the State Bar Councils to take necessary steps and to conclude all ‘verification ‘proceedings by 30.06.2016 and send a reply to the Bar Council of India. It had also stayed the Bar Council of India’s withdrawal of Exemption granted to ‘Advocates on Record’ from filing forms under Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules 2015.
Fast track Court Judges appointed on Ad hoc basis have no right for regular promotion: SC
The Supreme Court of India in V. Venkata Prasad & Ors. Vs. High Court of A.P. has held that that the appointments in respect of Fast Track Courts are ad hoc in nature and no right is to accrue to such recruits promoted/posted on ad hoc basis from the lower judiciary for the regular promotion on the basis of such appointment.
Merely because a Person has been named in the Suicide note, it cannot be said that he abetted the Suicide: Madras HC
Merely because someone who committed suicide, had written in his/her suicide note that a person is responsible for her death, can that person be convicted under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code for abetment of Suicide? The Madras High Court in a recent case viz. Manikandan vs. State, has observed that it will not. Dr. Justice P.Devadass, allowing an appeal filed by a person who was convicted by the Trial court under Section 306 IPC, relying on the Suicide note of the deceased, said that contents of the suicide note and other attending circumstances have to be examined to find out whether it is abetment within the meaning of section 306 I.P.C. read with section 107 I.P.C. The Court has also held that, in order to attract offence under Section 306 IPC, there must be a positive act on the part of the accused, and an intention that the victim should die.
A Body Corporate may sue or be sued for violation of Article 19 and 14 : Calcutta HC
The Calcutta High Court, in Indian Oil Officers’ Association vs. Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, has held that an Association has a clear right to maintain this writ application on behalf of its members. Justice I.P. Mukerji referring to various Apex Court decisions, also observed that body corporate may not only sue or be sued for violation of Article 19 but it may also sue for violation of Article 14 or any other law. This observation was made in a Writ petition preferred by a registered Trade Union against IOC challenging a Memorandum of Understanding purportedly entered into by six members of this Association with the Corporation.
Referring to Apex Court decision in Delhi Cloth & General Mills Co. Ltd. V. Union of India and Others reported in (1983) 4 SCC 166 , the Court said : “An Association has a clear right to maintain this writ application on behalf of its members. This writ, apart from challenging the formation of the agreement, attacks certain clauses therein, namely 4, 11,13,16 and 18. The writ petitioners attack these clauses on the ground that they are violative ofArticle 19 of the Constitution of India, and are thus, void and arbitrary. In my opinion, in the exercise of its writ jurisdiction, this court is competent to adjudge whether certain clauses of an agreement violate the Constitution or the laws. To this extent, public law is involved. Where breach of public law is complained of, this court can intervene. It does not matter whether this public law element arises out of an ordinary contract between two parties. Furthermore, parties cannot contract so as to take away the fundamental or other legal rights of another party.”
SC refuses to halt release of ‘Udta Punjab’; Punjab & Haryana HC dismisses plea seeking its ban
Attempts to block release of “Udta Punjab” again failed as the Supreme Court of India today declined to hear a plea by an NGO to halt the release of the film. The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and L. Nageswara Rao asked the NGO to approach Punjab and Haryana High Court.
MeanwhilePunjab and Haryana High Court, heard a similar plea seeking ban of the film because it allegedly portrays Punjab in bad light and has done “negative branding” of Punjab and Punjabis, more especially the Punjab youths. The Division Bench headed by Justice M. Jeyapaul agreed with the Amicus Curiae Sanjay N Kantawala who informed the court that he has not found anything objectionable for public exhibition of movie and it does not in any manner portray bad image of Punjab or Punjabis.
Offence U/S 304-A IPC cannot be quashed on the basis of compromise between Parties : Punjab & Haryana HC
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that criminal proceedings against an accused under Section 304 cannot be quashed by invoking inherent powers under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code on the basis of settlement/compromise arrived at between the accused and the legal heirs/representatives of the person who has lost his life in the accident. The division bench comprising of Justices Mahesh Grover and Lisa Gill also observed that the offence under Section 304-A IPC is not private in nature and answered the reference to it in negative.
Compiled by Ms. Riya Attri