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Supreme Court Issues Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Crimes [READ JUDGMENT]

The patriarchal and stereotypical notions about women should be avoided while dealing with sexual crimes.

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

The Supreme Court on this Thursday set aside a judgment belonging to the Madhya Pradesh High Court wherein it had inquired a man, who was accused of sexual assault, to get a “rakhi” tied on his wrist by the victim as a necessary requirement for condition of getting bail. The bench comprised if Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice AM Khanwilkar who observed, “Using rakhi tying as a condition for bail, transforms a molester into a brother, by a judicial mandate. This is wholly unacceptable and has the effect of diluting and eroding the offence of sexual harassment. The act perpetrated on the survivor constitutes an offence in law and is not a minor transgression that can be remedied by way of an apology, rendering community service, tying a rakhi or presenting a gift to the survivor, or even promising to marry her, as the case maybe. The law criminalizes outraging the modesty of a woman.”

This judgment comes after when the Supreme Court advocate Aparna Bhat and eight other women who had challenged the July 2020 order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court as reported by the Bar and Bench. The court had stated and directed that the man who is accused of having offended the modesty of a woman to present himself before the plaintiff so that she may tie a “rakhi” on his wrist to be eligible to get bail. While they were setting aside the order, Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ravindra Bhat issued seven important directions that is to be followed strictly by the lower courts while dealing with the petitions regarding bail in matters relating to the crimes against women. The Court also stated that the use of reasoning or language which diminishes or minimalize the offence, which also tends to underestimate the survivor, shall be avoided under all the circumstances provided. 

The judgment not only showed listed relevant instructions but also illustrated certain conduct and actions that were termed as irrelevant for adjudication- to say that the survivor had in the past consented to such or similar to these, acts or that she behaved shamelessly; or by her acts or clothing, aggravated the suspected action of the accused; that she behaved in a manner unbecoming of chaste or “Indian” women, or that she had called upon the situation by her behavior, etc.” The Court also stated that such behavior and attitudes should never enter the judicial verdicts or orders or it should not be considered relevant while making a judicial decision. They cannot be the only reasons for granting bail or other such reliefs.

In Aparna’s plea before the Supreme Court, she had struggled that, such judgments form the High Courts would end up underestimating such heinous offence that happened and also that there is a strong likelihood and a chance that such observations and directions may lead in normalizing what is essentially a crime and has been recognized to be so by the law. This order was passed by the Justice Rohit Arya who is in Madhya Pradesh High Court, who is responsible of releasing a man, suspected of offending the modesty of a woman on bail provided that he visits the residence of the plaintiff and requests her to tie the Rakhi band to him on his wrist for the sake of protection.

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Supreme Court seeks Centre response for cancellation of three crore ration cards for not linking it with Aadhar

The Supreme Court quoted the matter as ‘too serious’ and sought it response from the centre on plea regarding cancellation of three crore ration cards for not linking with Aadhar and subsequent starvation deaths.

By: Pragnya Prachurya Acharya 

A three-judge bench comprising Justice Bobde of the Supreme Court issued the direction to the Central government of India and sought response while hearing a PIL filed on the issue of implementation of a grievance redressal mechanism to ensure food to everyone under the National Food Security Act.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves was appearing for the petitioner to inform the court that the notice has not been issued on the petition, but only an incidental order was made on the aspects of grievance redressal mechanism. Gonsalves also added that, “This petition deals with an alarming state of affairs because the Central government has cancelled three crore ration cards without notice to the beneficiaries.” 

The Supreme Court said that, “the better thing is to improve judicial High Court; we don’t think it’s an appropriate remedy“. And to this the petitioner argued that cancellation has been done on Central level – three crore cards have been canceled on Central level. 

There’s nothing in law that states the High Court can’t set aside cancellation of Aadhar cards”, the bench responded. 

Gonsalves further submitted that, “starvation deaths are taking place. Three crore ration cards have gone; I can show Union of India’s declaration. It is an announcement of the Prime Minister”

To this ASG Lekhi submitted that, “The government notification clearly states that absence of Aadhar card will not lead to denial of ration card”, and still if the ration cards are not issued then it’s the responsibility of the State government not the Central government.

To this the bench responded that, “We are not belittling the problem. We were only thinking if the state should deal with it, but we will consider it and keep it for final hearing”.

The PIL highlights the starvation death cases across India but it specifically documented starvation deaths taking place in Jharkhand, UP, Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh & Telangana.

News reports throughout India have also confirmed that genuine cards were cancelled without notice. 

The bench said that it will consider the case and hear it in final hearing and has notice returnable in four weeks. The bench clarified that they are asking the government response only because of the Aadhar issue.

The bench also observed that “the matter is too serious”.

News, Top Stories

Supreme Court stayed an order of civil imprisonment against Major General of Indian Army and Defence Estates officers.

The Supreme Court of India, on Thursday, stayed an order sentencing Major General of the Army and Defence Estate officers to Civil imprisonment for two months due to violation of a decree in a civil suit.

By: Pragnya Prachurya Acharya 

The three-judge bench decided this case which consisted of CJI Bobde, Justice Bikaner, and Justice Rama Subramanyam. They passed this order after mentioning was made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

On January 27, 2021, the Civil Court of Secunderabad had sentenced the officer while deciding an application filed by Anand Bala, who sought action against officials of the Defence Estate Office for not allowing them access to the 6-acre land that is situated near to Army Quarters.

The court had ordered to send the JDRs (Defence Estate officers and the general officer in commandant) to civil prison for their willful disobedience and violation of the trial court decree of a permanent injunction.

Back in 2017, the court had issued a decree in favor of Anand Bala and questioned the Defence department or Cantonment Board because the land was not related to them. It also issued an injunction order restraining the defense department official from entering the land.

However, Bala had filed an execution petition before the court after noticing some work being done on his land.

And now the Central Government has approved the Supreme Court challenging the Telangana High Court order, to refuse the execution of stay on the trial courts order. For now, the Supreme Court has stayed the order of the civil imprisonment of the JDRs (Defence Estate officers and the general officer).

News, Top Stories

The TRP Scam- “Why Shall the Sword be Hanging Over Their Head?” Said the Bombay High Court and asked for their willingness of gathering witness

Bombay High Court remarked the above while keeping the swords on their head when the Mumbai police was unable to find evidence. Shockingly, only the ARG and Arnab Goswami were the two suspects even after the submission of two charge sheets by the Mumbai police.

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

The Bombay High Court noted and observed that the Mumbai police did not find anything and were not able to earth any evidence against the Republic TV for the scam of Television Rating Points (TRP) case despite a deep and an intense research of three months. “You are investigating for the last 3 months and you have no evidence against them,” the Court observed and pointed out to the Mumbai police while hearing the Republic’s plea challenging criminal proceedings in relation to the TRP scam case. 

A Bench of Justices who were involved in this case were Justice SS Shinde and Manish Pitale, were hearing the petition filed by the ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd, that is the holding company of Republic TV channels. They challenged the criminal proceedings initiated against its channel and employees in the TRP scam. The Court also observed that despite the Mumbai Police having filed two chargesheets against the Republic TV but there seemed to be no evidence against the Republic TV. “And this FIR is of October 2020. We are in March 2021. We have seen in matters “khichdi pak rahi hai”. Why keep the sword hanging on their head? You are investigating for the last 3 months and you have no evidence against them. Their contention is that they are always in the fear that some action may be taken against them and it seems so from the past action against their employees,” the Court observed. The Court posed this query and doubted that after noting that ARG and Goswami have been shown as the only suspects in this case even after the filing of the two charge sheets in the case.

The Court also demanded and was questioning as in why the petitioners, including the Editor-in-Chief of the channel, Arnab Goswami or any of the Republic TV journalists, have not yet been named or declared as an accuser in this matter, which was shocking for the court. These observations came after when the Republic TV told the Court that Mumbai Police have deliberately and with full intention, not named Arnab Goswami and others as accused yet, so that they won’t be able to move to several courts for want of locus, to suppress or disrupt the case. When the Special Public Prosecutor, Shishir Hirey said that he will be needing to take the instructions and after that only he can make a statement, on this statement by Hirey, Justice Shinde said that the FIR was filed in October 2020 that is many months ago, and it’s March 2021 already now.

After Senior Advocate Ashok Mundargi’s submissions that even after the submission of two charge sheets by the Mumbai Police, there wasn’t enough material collected against Republic TV and Arnab several questions fell from the bench, and the channel was only shown as a suspect in this case. He submitted and stated that it was very unlikely that the prosecution would say that they don’t want to continue the ongoing investigation against the petitioners of the case. “In case the court feels that the investigation can’t be stopped, the petition should be admitted and protection from coercive action should be granted because today there is no material against me.” Mundargi stated that only after getting concrete evidence against them, then only the petitioners can approach the court.

News, Top Stories

Writ Petition under Article 226 not Maintainable Against Orders Passed by State Consumer Commission: Supreme Court [READ ORDER]

The Apex Court Bench of Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Krishna Murari opined that a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging orders and judgments passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission is not maintainable.

By: Khushi Yadav, FIMT College, GGSIP University.

In the instant case, an order dismissing a revision petition upholding the order of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum was passed by M.P. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The said order was challenged before the High Court by filing a writ petition. 

In view of the Supreme Court judgment in Cicily Kallarackal Vs. Vehicle Factory, the Registry raised objection and opined that no writ petition lies against the order of the State Commission.

The High Court while answering this, considered the question whether in against exercise of revisional powers by State Commission under section 17(1)(b), any remedy is available before the National Commission or not. The Court held while answering this that neither revisional jurisdiction nor appellate jurisdiction by the National Commission could be exercised against the impugned orders passed by the State Commission.

Therefore, the court proceeded to consider the matter on merits by rejecting the objection as to jurisdiction. The window of interference available to the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution in matters of this nature where orders of statutorily created tribunals [District and State Commission] are under challenge, , is extremely limited and dismissed the writ petition. 

“The High Court after having held the writ petition to be maintainable has dismissed the Writ Petition on merits. Despite the attention of the High Court having been drawn to Cicily Kallarackal vs. Vehicle Factory, (2012) 8 SCC 524 without even dealing with or discussing the judgment and the reason for its inapplicability, the High Court has chosen to rely upon decision of Single Judge of Orissa High Court and the Division Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad to hold that the writ petition was maintainable. We are of the considered opinion that the writ petition itself was not maintainable in view of Cicily (supra).”

In Cicily, it was observed that- 

“We cannot help but to state in absolute terms that it is not appropriate for the High Courts to entertain writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against the orders passed by the Commission, as a statutory appeal is provided and lies to this Court under the provisions of the Cnsumer Protection Act, 1986. Once the legislature has provided for a statutory appeal to a higher court, it cannot be proper exercise of jurisdiction o permit the parties to bypass the statutory appeal to such higher court and entertain petitions in exercise of its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.”

It was held that the order of the National Consumer Commission are incapable of being questioned under the writ jurisdiction of the High Court, as a statutory appeal in terms of Section 27 A(1)(c) lies to the Supreme Court.

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