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Hunger strike is not a suicide attempt, cannot attract offence under Section 309 of IPC: Madras High Court [READ ORDER]

Will sitting on a hunger strike for days together to press certain demands and refusing to cooperate with the authorities in the provision of medical treatment amount to a criminal offence under Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of the Indian Penal Code? The Madras High Court has answered this question of law with a categorical.

By: Mahima Jain, School of Law, DAVV, Indore.

Quashing one such case booked against a Sri Lankan refugee, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh said: “The mere fact that the petitioner has protested by sitting on hunger strike will not attract the offence under Section 309 IPC. Even if the materials available on record are taken as it is, it does not constitute an offence under Section 309 IPC.”

In this case, a criminal case was registered against the petitioner accusing him of the offence under Section 309, IPC after he participated in hunger strike from August 15, 2013 to August 24, 2013.

In 2016, after a chargesheet was filed, the trial court took cognizance of case.

Apart from arguing that no case of a suicide attempt is made out, the petitioner also contended that the trial court was barred from taking cognizance of the 2013 FIR in 2016 in view of Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Section 468, CrPC deals with bar to taking cognizance after lapse of the period of limitation. In this case, it was pointed out that while Section 309 only prescribes a 1 year penalty, it took 3 years to take cognizance of the final report.

The Court, in turn, agreed with the petitioner on this count as well.

The Court below ought to have taken cognizance within a period of one year since the offence is punishable for a maximum period of one year. However, the Court below has taken cognizance after nearly three years without assigning any reasons. Therefore, taking cognizance of the final report by the Court below is barred by law and stands vitiated,” it observed.

Therefore, it allowed the petition and quashed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner.

Advocate P Pugalenthi appeared for the petitioner and Government Advocate (criminal side) C Raghavan appeared for the State.

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Allahabad High Court: Non-release of individual even after submission of personal bond is a clear breach of Article 21 [READ ORDER]

“These necessary ingredients of Section 111 of CrP.C. are totally absent in the order dated 8.10.2020 passed by the respondent no.3. Thus, it is evident on record that the respondent no.3 has acted arbitrarily and illegally”.

Allahabad High Court

By: Anish Khondo, 5th Year Law Student, Christ (Deemed to Be) University, Bangalore.

In this case, there was a dispute between the petitioners Rajendra Prasad, Shiv Kumar Verma and Raj Kumar Verma and their family members regarding partition of ancestral land and in apprehension of breach of public peace.

On October 8, 2020, the police arrested the petitioners under Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) [arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences].

A Division bench of Justice Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Justice Shamim Ahmed, was dealing with this writ petition and found that the police authorities acted arbitrarily and not only failed to discharge his duty cast upon him under Section 107 and 111 of the Cr.P.C. but also committed breach of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. “it stands admitted that the police authorities are arbitrarily and illegally submitting Challani Reports under Sections 107/116 Cr.P.C”.

As noted by the Court on October 8th ‘Challani Report’ was submitted and it contained names of the petitioners and others, name of village and “land dispute” had been written by ink.

The petitioners also submitted that they had submitted on October 12, 2020, they submitted “personal bond and other papers” but on which the Police did not release them.

Later the matter was again tired on 13th January 2021.

The court then directed the police authorities to file a counter affidavit, showing under what reasons Challani Report was issued on which the police authorities failed to show the circumstances for the counter affidavit.

The court also held respondent “has acted arbitrarily and not only failed to discharge his duty cast upon him under Section 107 and 111 Cr.P.C. but also committed breach of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Such type of instances need to be stopped by the State Government”.

Learned Additional Advocate General and the Secretary, Home, U.P.  Lucknow jointly stated that the State Government shall develop a mechanism and shall also issue appropriate guidelines so as to ensure that such instances may not repeat again.

Also, that the grant of compensation would be fulfilled by the Government “State Government shall consider to grant monetary compensation to the petitioners for breach of their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.Lastly the court granted four weeks’ time to the State Government to take appropriate action in terms of the statement and “On the next date fixed, the respondent no.3 shall also file his personal affidavit explaining his conduct, as briefly noted above”. The next hearing is scheduled for March 3rd 2021.

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Justice Gautam Patel of Bombay High Court Issues Notice to Regulate Crowds in Court Amid Fresh COVID Spike

Justice Gautam Patel of Bombay High Court has decided to regulate the number of people coming inside his courtroom. He made it clear that he will start virtual hearing of cases if people do not adhere to COVID rules in courts.

By: Priya Kumari, B.A.LL.B., Maharashtra National Law University Aurangabad.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, courts in the whole country had switched to online hearings. In Maharashtra, in the month of December, the physical hearing was resumed. Later, it was converted into a mixed system of case hearing which includes both virtual and physical hearing. Various benches of the Bombay HC have been conducting virtual hearings as well as physical hearing for specific cases.

After the starting of the physical hearing, a large number of people are seen inside and outside the courtrooms. On the other hand, there is a fresh rise in COVID cases in Maharashtra. As per the Health Ministry’s statement, Maharashtra reported 4,787 new COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths in the last 24 hours. 

In the Bombay High Court, policemen have been stationed outside every courtroom. Their work is to ensure that a large number of people do not get entry inside. Even after this arrangement, overcrowding has been witnessed in the courtrooms. Taking into consideration all these situations, a Bombay High Court judge, Justice Gautam Patel has issued some guidelines for the regulation of the number of people in the courtroom. He also warned to suspend physical hearing and revert to virtual hearing if lawyers and litigants do not follow the minimal precautionary measures laid down by him. Regarding this matter, a notice was issued by the judge’s office which set out the guidelines that advocates and litigants must follow while coming into his court. It is must for them to follow the basic social distancing norms.

Justice Patel mentioned stated, “There is far too much overcrowding in Court Room 37. Advocates and parties are not observing safety norms and precautions. For this reason, with immediate effect, only those who have matters in court will be permitted entry. There may be a random check and those without matters will be made to leave.” 

“This is for a reason, which should be obvious,” the notice stated.

He further said that case time slots of every party are specified at the top of the board. Advocates and parties should come to Court only in accordance with their case time slots. His notice also mentions that advocates in the next time slot need not report to his courtroom ahead of time.

Along with this, in order to facilitate lawyers further, Justice Patel held that the instructions have been given to his court associate to flash messages on the online display board if in any case the previous time slot is delayed for any reason. Last year, in a webinar, Justice Gautam Patel shared his opinion about virtual hearing. He said that virtual hearings should remain as an option for a judge.

Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug v. Union of India, (2011) 4 SCC 454
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Delhi Court Finds Priya Ramani ‘Not Guilty’ In MJ Akbar’s Criminal Defamation Case

It was observed by the court that a woman has the right to put her unfairness even after decades where men on high positions can be a harasser.

By- Sanidhya Sharma, O.P. Jindal Global University

A court in Delhi, on this Wednesday, acquitted Priya Ramani who is a journalist in the criminal defamation case that was filed by the former Union Minister MJ Akbar. He was responsible for the allegations that were made up against him as Ramani had accused Akbar of sexually harassing her during the initial period when the #MeToo movement was gaining huge popularity in the year 2018.

The court stated that it is very embarrassing and shameful that the crimes against women have been and are still taking place in our country where the beautiful and mega epics were given birth to, like Mahabharata and Ramayana, that were written to portray the respect that these women deserve to get. 

Society needs to develop, and it is in desperate need to get an advancement because the glass ceiling that is being provided for women is not enough considering the situation in our country. Ramani was full of content as her truth got vindicated in a court of law. In 2017, she wrote an article for the Vogue where she described the traumatic experience that she suffered from being sexually harassed by a former boss for his publication and this happened while she was giving an interview. A year later, she revealed that the person who harassed her, as mentioned in the article, was MJ Akbar who was a Union Minister. Several women have accused him in the past of being sexually harassed by MJ Akbar and Ramani was not the only one, during the #MeToo movement. 

The former Union Minister complained against Ramani on October 15, 2018, for allegedly defaming him by blaming him of sexual misconduct, that he was responsible for, decades ago. After which, he resigned as the Union minister on October 17, 2018, and denied all the allegations and complaints of sexual harassment against all the women who came forward against him during the #MeToo movement. After some time, Akbar told the court that the allegations that were put up by Ramani are fictitious in nature and the allegations have made his reputation suffer. Ramani, after hearing these allegations, contested the claims made against her and she spoke out the truth that was a defense and mentioned that these allegations were put up in good faith, for the public good and the society’s interest.

The court observed that a man who is well-known in society and has some social status can also be a sexual harasser. The court said that that society is responsible and should understand the impact of harassment on the victims as it could destroy their life and career.

Her arguments were valid as according to Article 21, the right to equality will be guaranteed under the Indian constitution and the victim will have the full right to put her case on any platform, wherever she wishes to.

Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra was the representer of Mr. MJ Akbar whereas Ms. Priya Ramani was represented by the Senior Advocate, Rebecca John. The Court, while reserving the judgment in this matter, granted liberties to the parties for filing additional written statements within 4 days’ time. On the 1st of February, the case had reserved a judgment after hearing both sides’ rebuttal. The judgment was reserved on February 10th originally but was deferred for the 17th of February, when the judge stated that the written submission was delayed to the court and therefore there was more time that was demanded to deliver the verdict. 

News, Top Stories

“Privacy Of People More Important Than Your Money”: Supreme Court Issues Notice On Plea Against WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice on an application seeking to restrain WhatsApp from implementing its new privacy policy in India and to direct it to apply the privacy policy which is made available applicable to users in the European region. 

By: Khushi Yadav, FIMT College, GGSIP University

The notice was issued on 15 Feb 2021 which is returnable within 4 weeks. The Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Facebook, and WhatsApp became the respondents in the interlocutory application filed in a pending case, which was filed against the policy of the messaging platform in 2016. 

The CJI SA Bobde while issuing notice said“You must understand. Mr. Datar people have grave concerns about their privacy. You maybe two trillion three trillion company, but the privacy of people are more important than your money.”

The court gave the company to explain it’s stand by filing a counter-affidavit within 4 weeks concerning its new privacy policy. It further said that people’s privacy must be protected in view of the allegation that users are being shared with other companies. 

The bench said it will have to consider if a similar petition pending before the Delhi HC is maintainable when a constitution bench of the Supreme Court is already seized with the matter. 

The instant application was filed in the case of Karmanya Singh Sareen v. Union of India and others, which is a petition filed regarding raising privacy concerns following the merger of WhatsApp and Facebook in 2017. The Supreme Court then had referred the Facebook WhatsApp privacy case to a five-judge bench. 

Appearing for WhatsApp and Facebook Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar respectively submitted that the main petition, in this case, was filed against the 2016 privacy policy of WhatsApp. They argued that a substantive petition must be drawn and the 2020 policy cannot be challenged by merely filing an intervention application. 

They further urged the court to dismiss this application as the Delhi HC has already issued a notice on a petition challenging the WhatsApp policy. 

Advocate Kapil Sibal submitted “The earlier petition was filed against the 2016 policy the new application challenges the new policy of Jan 20 2008 are challenging the new policy without filing a substantive petition be that as it may but the Delhi high court is already considering”. 

We will issue notice in this we will see what to do the deli cases later. We also need to see the Delhi High Court can consider what the matter is pending before The Constitution bench,” the CJI said. 

Appearing for the applicant, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan told the Supreme Court that WhatsApp is discriminating between its Indian users and its users based in Europe. 

“One set of privacy standards applied to Europe and one different start of senders apply to Indians this happens when the personal data protection bill is pending. There is a huge differentiation between Europeans and Indians. It is reported in media. That government has sought explanation from WhatsApp on the new privacy P. The company itself has extended the deadline for new privacy policy to May 15 in this backdrop. I am seeking a nurse which is returnable before the 15th of May”, Divan submitted

Sibal responded to this and said, “My learned friend said what’s up, you differentiating between India and Europe the fact is that this policy is applicable to the rest of the world except Europe. Same policy is in US, Australia etc. in Europe. It is different because they have a special law.”

The CJI said, “We will tell you what we read and media people think that when a message is the whole thing that a messaged B is disclosed to Facebook”. 

To this Datar responded, “Messages are completely in corrupted even WhatsApp cannot see we can file an affidavit saying that no personal information is being stored or shared.” 

Recently, a bench headed by CJI Bobde refused to entertain a plea challenging the new privacy policy of WhatsApp and asked the petitioner to approach the Delhi HC, which is considering two petitions against it. 

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