The Best decisions from Indian courts: 2022 CJP examines key court rulings that have helped to advance human rights
24, Dec 2022 | CJP Team
As the year 2022 draws to a close, here is an annual round up of orders and judgements of India’s Constitutional courts — High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. In a month by month look, CJP brings you a calendar of the year gone by: through judgements and orders that paved new paths in human rights jurisprudence, bail granted to ensure that the right to personal liberty of any individual is not curtailed unconstitutionally, constitutional rights upheld and the cause of criminal justice reform advanced; bringing some hope and cheer at the year’s end.
Arrest of Indore Professor in ‘Hinduphobic’ Book Case stayed by Supreme Court
The arrest of Indore Prof Inamur Rehman in connection with allegations of “promoting Hinduphobia” was stayed by the Supreme Court. The Indore police had lodged an FIR against Rehman in connection with a “controversial” book found in the library of the college that allegedly “encourages religious fundamentalism”. Rehman was the principal of the law college, while the book in question has been written by Dr Farhat Khan. On December 19, 2022, the bench also sought the response of the Madhya Pradesh government in the matter, within four weeks.
Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi discharged in Delhi Riots 2020 FIR by Delhi Court
Student activist Umar Khalid and United against Hate member Khalid Saifi were granted bail in a case connected to the 2020 North East Delhi riots. The case was registered on the basis of the statement of a constable wherein it was stated that a large crowd had gathered near Chand Bagh Pulia on February 24, 2020 and started pelting stones. A FIR was registered under sections 109, 114, 147, 148, 149, 153-A, 186, 212, 353, 395, 427, 435, 436, 452, 454, 505, 34 and 120-B of IPC along with sections 3 and 4 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and section 25 and 27 of Arms Act. While granting bail to Umar Khalid in the FIR case, the court held that he cannot be permitted to remain behind bars on the basis of sketchy material against him. However, both Khalid and Saifi continue to remain incarcerated in the UAPA case alleging a larger conspiracy behind the riots.
Penalty imposed for misuse of Goondas Act by Gorakhpur administration by Allahabad HC
The Allahabad High Court imposed a penalty of Rs. 5 lakhs in cost, along with disciplinary enquiry, upon the district administration of Gorakhpur for the misuse and abuse of law in implementing the Goondas Act. In this case, the petitioner had submitted that district administration was not only guilty of malicious prosecution to by-pass the civil decree, but also at attempts to coerce the petitioner to release the property in dispute in favour of the district administration. The court then quashed the notice sent to the petitioner under the Goondas Act and observed that the district administration invoked the said Act against the petitioner to misuse the forum of criminal administration.
Everyone must be give an access to the burial ground irrespective of the caste or community: Madras HC
The Madras High Court bench of Justice N Anand Venkatesh, while adjudicating on a petition seeking directions to prevent the burial or cremation of dead bodies at certain government land in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, declared that everyone must be allowed to cremate the dead bodies in the place which is notified as a burial ground, irrespective of their caste or community. The court directed the state government to take strict action if it is found that cremation of dead bodies is not being allowed based on caste.
No prima facie case against Anand Teltumbde: Bombay HC
The Bombay High Court granted bail on merits to Prof. Anand Teltumbde, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. The bench held that no prima facie case was made out against Teltumbde to establish that he was involved in any terrorist acts. The court declared that offences under section 13 (unlawful activities), 16 (terrorist act) and 18 (conspiracy) of the UAPA are not made out against him, and only sections 38 (offences related to membership of a terrorist organization) and 39 (Offence relating to support given to a terrorist organization) were made out.
Later, on November 25, the Supreme Court rejected the National Investigation Agency’s appeal against the Bombay High Court’s decision to grant bail to Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad case. The division bench said that it will not interfere with the High Court order.
Accordingly, Dr Teltumbde was released from prison.
Gautam Navlakha ordered to be placed under house arrest by the Supreme Court
Activist Gautam Navlakha, who is one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, was granted the request for house arrest, albeit with rather stringent conditions. In addition to the age and health concerns, the court noted that while chargesheet has been filed against Navlakha on October 9, 2020 no charges were yet framed against him and that he has been in custody as an undertrial prisoner since April 14, 2020.
The court stated that the house arrest would be granted subject to Navlakha depositing a sum of Rs. 2.4 lakhs with Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner which is a rough estimate of expenses which would be borne by the State for making available police personnel at his house arrest location. Additionally, he shall provide local surety for Rs. 2 lakhs. The house arrest has been extended until the second week of January.
No coercive action against voluntary religious conversion: MP High Court
The Madhya Pradesh High Court issued a significant ruling prohibiting the State Government from using coercion against anyone who violates Section 10 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, which calls for anyone wishing to change their religion to make a declaration to the District Magistrate in advance. The MP High Court also acknowledged that the freedom to choose a religion and the freedom to publicly express or refrain from publicly expressing those choices are both implicit in the Constitutional right to freedom of religion under Article 25.
Arrest of Shiv Sena MP, Sanjay Rautt a ‘Witchunt’ & ‘Illegal’: PMLA
A Mumbai special PMLA court granted bail to both Sanjay Raut and Pravin Raut on a Rs 2 lakh bail bond each in an alleged money laundering case. Neither the PMLA Court nor the Bombay High Court granted a stay on the operation of the bail order, as was pleaded by the ED. The said case was the Patra Chawl land fraud, which centered on the 672 MHADA tenants who were supposed to receive their new homes but that never happened. Sanjay Raut is accused by the ED of receiving 112 crores from HDIL, which he allegedly used to buy various assets and redirect to his family and business acquaintances.
Education not business to earn profit: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India upheld the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing the state government’s decision to enhance the tuition fee in medical colleges to Rs 24 lakh per annum. The SC found the Government Order boosting the tuition cost on the grounds of the private medical colleges’ representations to be “wholly impermissible and most arbitrary and purely with a view to favor and/or coerce the private medical colleges.” The SC’s decision encouraged the stance that education is not a for-profit enterprise, and declared that tuition fee must always be reasonable and affordable.
Supreme Court takes 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots SIT report on record
On November 3, 2022, the summarised report submitted by a special investigation team (SIT) appointed by the court in 2014 in the cases involving the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was taken on record by the Supreme Court of India. The bench deferred the hearing of a plea seeking fresh investigation into the 1984 riots for two weeks to enable an examination of the SIT report. In this fresh petition filed, the petitioners have cited the SIT report filed on November 29, 2019, to argue that the authorities have been conducting sham trials. Now that the report has been taken on record, the top court said it will go through the report and the hearing will take place in two weeks. The matter is yet to be listed.
Mere possession of banned literature as an offence runs counter to rights under Article 19: Delhi Court
It was observed by a Delhi Court that for cases filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA) mere possession of “jihadi literature” having a “particular religious philosophy” would not amount to an offence unless there is material to show execution of such philosophy to commit terrorist acts. The court further observed that the proposition that holding mere literature is a crime runs counter to the freedoms and rights guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution. The abovementioned statement were made by the court as it prepared charges for nine defendants in a National Investigation Agency investigation involving the online spread of ISIS ideology.
Two Finger test is “regressive” and “intrusive” and lacks any scientific support: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court ruled that anyone who performs the “two-finger test” or per vaginum examination on a victim of an alleged sexual assault shall be considered to have engaged in unprofessional conduct. In the said case, the rape and murder victim was examined by the Medical Board, who used the “two-finger test” to see if she was accustomed to having sex, the Court had noted. The Bench had then remarked, “It is patriarchal and sexist to suggest that a woman cannot be believed when she states that she was raped, merely for the reason that she is sexually active.” The court further declared that anybody who undertakes the “two-finger test” in violation of the directives of this Court shall be guilty of misconduct.
Plea to conduct carbon dating test of “shivling” by Varanasi Court
In the Shringar Gauri case, a Varanasi court rejected the plea filed to conduct carbon dating of a structure discovered in the Wazu Khana (ablution tank) of the Gyanvapi mosque. District Judge Ajay Krishna Vishwesha cited the possibility of causing damage to the structure as the reason for rejecting the plea. The Supreme Court had previously ordered that the structure and the spot where it was found be protected from damage. The Allahabad high court also fixed January 18, 2023, for further hearing on another revision petition filed by Laxmi Devi and others challenging the Varanasi district judge’s order by which the lower court had refused the demand of carbon dating of a ‘Shivling’ claimed to have been found in the Gyanvapi mosque complex.
Wearing a ‘provocative dress’ is no license to a man to outrage a woman’s modesty: Kerala HC
While upholding the order granting bail to sexual harassment accused Civic Chandran, the Kerala High Court struck down the contentious remarks made by a Kerala Sessions Judge who had determined that a sexual harassment claim would not be supported by the evidence if the victim was dressed in a “sexually provocative clothing.” When issuing the ruling, Justice Edappagath noted that a victim’s attire could not be the ground for a defense to get rid of the accusation of outraging a woman’s modesty.
Essential to maintain detention centres in good condition: Rajasthan HC
The Rajasthan High Court called for proper maintenance of Detention Centres, facilities where foreign nationals awaiting repatriation with their home countries are lodged till deportation. This order was significant, and might have an potential impact on other such facilities, especially those in the state of Assam, where people accused of being illegal immigrants are incarcerated, pending deportation or bail. In this case involving Tanzanian nationals lodged at a detention centre in Alwar, the court had directed authorities to inform them about steps taken to maintain the detention centre in ensuring that all required logistics and repairs, etc. of the Detention Centre are catered to immediately.
Evidence against Sharjeel Imam was “scanty and sketchy”: Delhi Court
Sharjeel Imam was granted bail by a Delhi court in a sedition case wherein he has been charged with making a “provocative remark” that allegedly incited violence in the Jamia Nagar neighborhood in 2019. The judge noted that after going through the evidence provided, the court was of the prima facie view that the case against him was sketchy. Imam has nonetheless continued to be in prison as he hasn’t received bail in the Delhi communal riots conspiracy case lodged against him.
Women, Sick & Infirm may get bail under PMLA: Delhi HC
In a case concerning the Prevention of Money Laundering Act PMLA, the Delhi High Court ordered that exceptions on granting of bail must be made where the accused is a woman, or below the age of 16 or is ill. The observations were made by the Delhi HC after observing that the strict bail requirements provided under PMLA makes it challenging for an accused to seek bail. This judgment comes after the Supreme Court upheld the twin bail conditions under PMLA, which states that an accused person cannot be released on bail unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that they are innocent and that they are not likely to commit any crimes while out on bail. Adding to this, the Delhi HC iterated that the legislature’s intent to incorporate relaxations for persons below 16 years of age; a woman; or one who is sick or infirm can be observed from a perusal of the Section 45(1) of the Act.
All women entitled to safe and legal abortion, married or unmarried: Supreme Court
A Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna, and JB Pardiwala held that the 2021 amendment to the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act ensures that both unmarried and married women are able to access safe and legal abortion. Through this order, the rights that were earlier only available to married women under the MTP Act, to abort a foetus, will now also be available to unmarried ones. Significantly, the bench in this path-breaking order also held that any pregnancy alleged by a pregnant woman to be caused by force is rape. in addition to this, the order also recognises the phenomenon of rape within marriage, a concept still under adjudication
Gujarat ex-DGP R B Sreekumar granted interim bail by Gujarat HC
The Gujarat High Court granted retired DGP RB Sreekumar temporary release till November 15, 2022. The court also gave him permission to seek a regular release in connection with accusations of “fabricating evidence related to the riots of 2002” and make an application before the Sessions court.
Although Sreekumar had requested bail before the high court prior to the chargesheet’s filing, the court advised Sreekumar’s advocate Yogesh Ravani to receive instructions if Sreekumar preferred to request bail before the sessions court due to the altered circumstances that have arisen since the chargesheet’s filing. According to their instructions, they took the option of getting interim protection from the High Court and will be approaching the Sessions Court with a fresh bail application. The HC had first granted Sreekumar interim bail on September 28 until November 15, which the HC had further extended by 10 days. After his hearing on November 25, his interim bail has further been extended by 2 months. The court has now kept the regular bail plea hearing on January 23.
Punjab & Haryana HC orders the formation of SIT to investigate the missing report of the Justice Gurnam Singh Commission Report
In the Saka Nakodar case, the Punjab and Haryana high court sent a notice to the Punjab government instructing them to form a special investigation team (SIT) to look into the “missing” portion of the Justice Gurnam Singh Commission Report in an effort to ensure justice and the truth for the relatives of those killed in the Nakodar police firing of 1986. On February 4, 1986, four Sikh men who were taking part in a peaceful religious march and protest in Nakodar, against the desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, were shot and fatally wounded by Indian security forces.
The first portion of the investigation report was presented to the Punjab Assembly on March 5, 2001, however the second portion of the report was never presented. What was reportedly missing from the Punjab government’s possession was the second part of the Commission report dated October 31, 1986, which comprised major evidence, exhibit files, sworn testimonies of police officials, administrative authorities, and witnesses, among other things.
Re-evaluate premature release policy for convicts serving life terms: SC
The Supreme Court ordered the UP government to consider releasing qualified life offenders covered under its 2018 policy within four months in an objective and transparent manner, with priority to elderly and ill inmates. The Court ruled that the State must diligently evaluate the cases of eligible inmates for remission after noting that numerous offenders languish in jail while serving lengthy sentences because they lack access to legal resources to seek for remission. The decision followed a petition by more than 500 prisoners who objected to Uttar Pradesh’s new policy on premature release, which disqualified them despite serving 16 years of their sentence.
Journalist Siddique Kappan granted bail in Hathras conspiracy case by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court granted bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who has been under the custody of the Uttar Pradesh police since October 6, 2020. He faced charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Kappan was arrested while he was on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh where a Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped. A bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat granted him bail, directing Kappan to remain in Delhi for the next six weeks after the release from an Uttar Pradesh prison and also mark his presence with the local police station every week.
However, Kappan continued to remain incarcerated in jail because a local court in Lucknow had rejected his bail in the PMLA case on October 31. Even under the UAPA matter, in which he was granted bail, the verification sureties, including the one given by former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, Roop Rekha Verma, have still not been completed by the authorities.
Teesta Setalvad granted interim bail by Supreme Court
Journalist and human rights activist Teesta Setalvad was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court in the case where she faces trumped up charges foisted upon her by a vindictive regime. On June 25, 2022, just a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (PIL) moved by Zakia Jafri seeking a proper investigation into the wider conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat carnage, a team of the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) barged into her Mumbai home and forcibly detained her, without arrest warrant or disclosing the FIR. The chargesheet filed by the SIT specified the crime of reportedly “fabricating evidence” and engaging in “forgery” in cases connected to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
On July 30, the Sessions Court rejected Setalvad’s bail application, following which she moved Gujarat High Court. The HC in turn issued notice in the case on August 3, but set the hearing for September 19. The court did not grant Setalvad any interim relief during this period. Thus, she moved SC. The SC bench comprising Chief Justice UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, while granting her bail, observed, “In our view, the appellant is entitled to the release on interim bail.”
While hearing the arguments of the case, the SC bench had observed that the petitioner i.e Setalvad had been in custody for over two months, during which no chargesheet had been filed. It noted that the FIR was filed just the day after the judgment in the Zakia Jafri case, and doesn’t contain anything other than the SC’s observations in the judgment. Moreover, the Gujarat High Court gave a long adjournment after Setalvad applied for bail, making the notice to the State returnable in six weeks. The charges are not pertaining to serious offenses like murder, instead they deal with alleged forgery of documents filed in court, allegations over a decade old, and thus, the offenses do not bar the grant of bail.
Azaan on loudspeakers does not violate fundamental rights of people of other faiths: Karnataka HC
The Karnataka High Court disposed of a Public Interest Litigation filed against the contents of Azaan, which alleged that it hurts the sentiments of believers of other faiths. The court observed that Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution embody the principle of “religious tolerance” which are a characteristic of Indian civilization. The court further noted that the contention that the contents of Azaan and the words “Allahu Akbar” violate the fundamental rights guaranteed to the petitioner as well as persons of other faith cannot be accepted.
Right to free speech and expression includes the right to publish and circulate one’s opinions: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court passed an order in an interlocutory application by a media house against online news portal Newslaundry for allegedly ridiculing and defaming its news broadcast and anchors through its content. The Court refused to grant any interim relief to the plaintiff (media house) and dismissed its application for interim relief.
The observations made by the court during this order were significant. While the court reiterated a largely conventional and existing view that there needs to be a balance between the right to reputation and right to freedom of speech, the court also recognised the diversity in reporting of news in India. And most importantly, the court noted and ascribed importance to satire in democracy and stated that satire is devoid of malice. The significance of this observation lies in the fact the court sees satire as something that goes beyond malice or harm to reputation.
Case seeking removal of ShahiIdgah in Krishna Janmabhoomi case stayed by Allahabad HC
In the Krishna Janmabhoomi – ShahiIdgah mosque dispute, the Allahabad High Court stayed the proceedings in a suit filed before a Mathura court that had sought removal of the Idgah. The Krishna Janmabhoomi – ShahiIdgah dispute is revolving around the Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh that looked after the Katra Keshav Dev temple property, and had allegedly entered into an illegal compromise with the Committee of Management of Trust Masjid Idgah in 1968, by way of which a huge chunk of land was given to the Idgah including the spot where the deity was born.
Cannot evict persons with “Bulldozer” and leave them shelter less without any notice: Delhi HC
Dealing with a plea filed by Shakarpur Slum Union (the Union) against the alleged the 3-day demolition overnight drive conducted without any prior notice by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials in the Shakarpur district of Delhi, the Delhi High Court observed that persons cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their doorstep “early in the morning or late in the evening” without any notice, rendering them completely shelter less.
The court issued directions to the DDA to carry out further demolition only in consultation with the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) Policy. The Court further directed the DDA to give sufficient time to the residents to make alternate arrangements, or, steps should be taken to accommodate the dwellers in the shelters provided by the DUSIB for three months so that the persons, whose jhuggis are being demolished, are able to find some alternate accommodation.
Dr. Varavara Rao granted bail on medical grounds by the Supreme Court
The 84-year-old Telugu poet, Dr Varavara Rao who is one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, was granted bail on medical grounds by the Supreme Court. The order by the SC came as a particular relief as the court also did away with the Bombay High Court’s condition for him to surrender after three months. Rao had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging a Bombay High Court order that denied him permanent bail on medical grounds. Rao had been granted temporary bail on medical grounds in April, 2022 but there was a requirement for him to surrender at the end of the bail duration.
The court allowed Rao to seek medical attention as per his choice and keep the NIA authorities informed of his medical condition. The court also ordered Rao to not leave the area of Greater Mumbai without express permission from the Special NIA Court. The court also forbade him from contacting any witnesses or doing anything to influence the investigation.
Mohammed Zubair granted interim bail in all UP Police FIRs by the Supreme Court
In July, 2022, the Supreme Court ordered the release of co-founder of AltNews a fact-checking web portal, Mohammed Zubair, on interim bail in all UP police FIRs and said that the case should be handled by one investigating authority i.e. Special Cell of Delhi Police. The SC also refused to impose a bail condition on him to prevent him from tweeting again, and stated that “We can’t say that he won’t tweet again. It is like telling a lawyer that you should not argue. How can we tell a journalist that he will not write? If there are any tweets against the law, he will be answerable.”
Zubair was first arrested by the Delhi police on June 27 over a tweet posted by him in 2018 and was later remanded in the other FIRs registered by the UP Police. Zubair was charged under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity), 295A (acts to outrage religious feelings), and 298 (uttering words to wound religious feelings), along with section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material) of the Information Technology Act.
Every Muslim is entitled to offer prayer in a mosque and get a decent burial according to civil rights: Kerala HC
In a petition filed by a Wakf trust arguing that since some of its members had changed to a different sect, they were not entitled to offer prayers and bury their dead bodies on its property, the Kerala High Court ruled that every Muslim has the right to offer prayers in any mosque or bury their dead in a public kabaristan (burial ground). The court further held that this right cannot be obstructed based on their sect.
Concrete action plan needed to curb child exploitation and labour: Rajasthan HC
A PIL was filed with the Rajasthan High Court with the plea to institutionalise effective machinery and mechanism for rescue and post rescue rehabilitation of all child labourers in the State of Rajasthan. The bench comprising acting Chief Justice Mr. Mahindra Mohan Shrivastava and Mr. Justice Sameer Jain, while hearing the petition observed that a number ofchild labourers were subjected to unfair police actions and were later rescued. Large number of criminal cases have also been registered against those involved in child trafficking and exploitation of children in various small/large scale industrial and commercial activities. The court found that action has also been initiated where a child labourer were found dead.
Later in July, the Rajasthan High Court permitted impleadment of the Centre’s Labour Department in a PIL seeking to institutionalise a ‘rescue and rehabilitation mechanism’ for all child labourers in the State.
Trans woman allowed to seek family pension after parents’ demise by the Orissa High Court
A Petition was filed before the Orissa High Court seeking directions to the opposite parties to sanction the family pension in favour of the Petitioner, who is a trans woman, and an unmarried daughter of the late Balaji Kondagari, who was a government servant, within the stipulated time frame. The HC then allowed the petition after considering the view that the petitioner as a transgender has every right to choose her gender and accordingly, she has submitted her application for grant of family pension under Section 56(1) of Odisha Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1992.
The police and other law enforcement agencies should be sensitised to the rights of sex workers: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court, while hearing a matter pertaining to the right of a sex worker to live with dignity, clearly held that the basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children. The bench also emphasized on ensuring that the police and other law enforcement agencies should treat all sex workers with dignity and should not abuse them, both verbally and physically, subject them to violence or coerce them into any sexual activity. The Bench further made directions that sex worker who is a victim of sexual assault should be provided with all facilities available to a survivor of sexual assault, including immediate medical assistance, in accordance with Section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
In the same order, the Supreme Court also directed the UIDAI to provide sex workers with Aadhaar cards without requiring address proof, and maintaining confidentiality of their data. The court had also brought up the issue of sex workers being inordinately and are forcefully sent to shelter homes and asked all concerned to reach a consensus in the said issue. While discussing the aforementioned, the court had commented that sex workers are entitled to equal protection of the law. Criminal law must apply equally in all cases on the basis of age and consent. When it is clear that the sex worker is an adult and is participating with consent, the police must refrain from interfering or taking any criminal action.
Supreme Court Orders that Sedition Law is kept in abeyance
While hearing the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the offence of sedition under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, the Supreme Court ordered that the Centre and state governments are to refrain from registering any new FIRs under Section 124-A IPC while it was under consideration by the Centre. The court held that all pending cases, appeals and proceedings with respect to charges framed under Section 124-A are to be kept in abeyance, and adjudication with respect to other sections may proceed with no prejudice to the accused.
Cruel, diabolic, barbaric, gruesome and inhuman: Allahabad High Court on Lakhimpur Kheri massacre
Dealing with the bail applications of four associates of Lakhimpur Kheri prime-accused Ashish Mishra, the Allahabad High Court dismissed the said bail applications citing possible tampering of evidence. The bail applications of Ankit Das, Sumit Jaiswal, Shishupal and Lavkush, all of whom were allegedly active participants in the planning of the Lakhimpur Kheri Massacre, were rejected by the court keeping in mind their political influence. The court also commented that several innocent lives got lost in the most cruel, diabolic, barbaric, gruesome and inhuman manner.
Once declared citizen, a person cannot be declared foreigner by FT as per Res Judicata: Gauhati HC
In a landmark judgment, the Gauhati High Court has ruled that the principle of Res Judicata applies to orders passed by Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT). This meant that if an FT finds a person to be an Indian citizen, the same person cannot be tried again or declared foreigner. The Gauhati HC gave the aforementioned judgment while hearing a batch of 11 petitions of persons who were appealing against FT orders that had declared them foreigners, the common theme running through all cases being the applicability of the principle of Res Judicata.
Jignesh Mevani gets bail in two cases filed against him by Assam court
Jignesh Mevani was first arrested by the Assam Police on April 20, 2022, from the Palanpur circuit house in Banaskantha district in Gujarat at around 11:30 P.M on the complaint of a BJP member from Kokrajhar about his allegedly offensive tweets. In the said twitter case, he was granted bail on April 25, shortly before being arrested again by the Barpeta Police. The second time he was booked under IPC sections 294 (obscene acts and songs), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging duty) and 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) for allegedly assaulting a woman police officer and preventing her from doing her duty. While the lower court in Barpeta had denied him bail, Mevani was granted bail by the High Court.
Anganwadi workers, helpers entitled to gratuity payment: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court declared that Anganwadi workers (AWWs) and Anganwadi helpers (AWHs) are entitled to gratuity payment under the Payment of Gratuity Act. The Bench directed that within 3 months from the said judgement, the state government is required to take the necessary steps to extend benefits to provide the simple interest at 10 percent per annum from the date specified under sub-section 3A of Section 7 of the Act. The top court further observed that the role of AWWs and AWHs is not only at war against malnutrition but also country-wide threats like the Covid-19 pandemic. The court said that these frontline women workers were the backbone of the ICDS.
Ashish Mishra’s bail set aside by the Supreme Court
The apex court set aside the bail granted to the main accused in the LakhimpurKheri violence in light of recent attacks upon case witnesses and concerns raised by victims’ families. Following Ashish Mishra’s bail in February amidst Uttar Pradesh elections, two witnesses in the district survived assaults and faced death threats. In view of this, the Supreme Court held that a victim of a crime has the unbridled participatory right in the criminal trial process i.e., they have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them most. In bail processes, the court is required to consider victims’ safety and security. As such, the top court criticised the Allahabad High Court for failing to consider judicial precedents while granting the bail and set aside the bail order.
Maha gov’t to withdraw pending criminal cases against farmers and social activists: Bombay HC
The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra state government to make applications for withdrawal of cases pending against farmers and social activists across the state which were filed in course of agitations/demonstrations, and directed the subordinate courts to decide these applications on a priority basis. This was in connection with the petition filed by Ajit Babanrao Kale seeking directions against the government to implement the policy decision as per Government Resolution and to close the FIRs/criminal prosecutions filed against civilian protesters involved in peaceful, democratic protest in Mumbai against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Population Register (NPR) and the nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) between January and February 2020. There is no update from the government about submitting these withdrawal applications.
Ishrat Jahan granted bail in the Delhi Violence wider conspiracy case
The Karkadooma Sessions Court granted bail to lawyer-activist Ishrat Jahan after 25 months of incarceration under UAPA charges for the alleged participation in a larger conspiracy in the Delhi violence that broke out in February 2020. Ishrat was arrested initially on February 26, 2020, on charges of “inciting violence, rioting and attempt to murder” under the Indian Penal Code. After spending a month in judicial custody, Ishrat along with four others were granted bail by Additional Sessions Judge Manjusha Wadhwa on March 21, 2020. The court had noted that the role assigned to Ishrat is that she incited the crowd to remain present at the protest spot as well as raised slogans of freedom, however, no overt act had been imputed to her regarding taking law into her own hands. On the same day, she was re-arrested under UAPA charges and had remained in jail till she was granted bail in March.
Penetration was not a necessary ingredient for invoking the crime under Section 377: Punjab & Haryana HC
The Punjab and Haryana HC expanded the scope of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with “Unnatural” sexual offences, and held that it will be invoked even if penetration is on any other part of the body. This was a case wherein a complaint was filed by the father of an 8-year-old child, who was subjected to sodomy and unnatural act of carnal intercourse by the accused in school. The court further referred to the testimony/statement of the victim, and held that reliability and admissibility of the statement of the said witness cannot be discredited merely for want of corroboration through medical evidence especially when the charge is of a non-penetrative sexual assault.
Right to protest not taken away if law is challenged before court: Andhra HC
The Andhra Pradesh High Court reiterated in its judgement that merely because a law is challenged before a court, it does not take away the right to protest it. The division bench held that approaching a constitutional court for redressal of grievances ipso facto would not disentitle a citizen from protesting in relation to the same subject-matter. In the said case, the agitation was on a grievance towards pay scale which was pending before the High court. The court further clarified that it will look at the dispute only from a legal lens, based upon settled parameters of adjudication and stated that the purpose of the protest was to draw the government’s attention to an issue.
Whatsapp group Admin not vicariously liable for posts by members: Kerala HC
In a case where a Whatsapp group member posted a child pornography clip on the group, that led to the group admin also being implicated in a POCSO case, the Kerala High Court has ruled that the admin (administrator) of a Whatsapp group is not vicariously liable for an objectionable post made by a group member.
Bail granted by Allahabad HC to prime accused Yogeshraj stayed by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court stayed the bail granted by the Allahabad High Court to Yogeshraj, the main accused of the Bulandshahr mob-violence case, and had ordered him to surrender within seven days. Staying his bail, the SC observed in its order that the matter is quite serious where under the pretext of the cow slaughter, a police officer has been lynched. Prima facie, it is a case of people taking law into their own hands.
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