Courts across India witnessed numerous developments in the week commencing May 27, 2021 - some of which made national headlines, while others expounded legal principles.
What made headlines in the Supreme Court of India?
1) Supreme Court asked Centre to submit data in terms of the vaccination drive conducted throughout the country, which includes the percentage of population inoculated with one/both the doses, purchase history of all COVID 19 vaccines, outline on vaccination under subsequent phases and steps taken to ensure drug availability for treatment of mucormycosis. State and UT's have been issued direction to confirm their position on free vaccination's. Apart from that, the Court made several observations on the lack of digital accessibility for making vaccine appointments via portals devised by the Government. Matter has been listed for hearing on June 30th and the Centre and State's are expected to return with affidavits in reference to the above.
Bench: JJJ. DY Chandrachud, S. Ravindra Bhat and L. Nageswara Rao
Case Title: In Re Distribution of Essential supplies and Services During the Pandemic [Suo Motu Writ - At Court's own behest]
Also Read: Doctrine of ‘Separation of power’ does not limit Judicial Review of Executive policies: Supreme Court seeks clarification from Centre in Vaccination drive
2) Supreme Court quashed FIR's viz. sedition charges against Journalist Vinod Dua. An FIR was registered against Dua on account of a complaint by Mr. Ajay Shyam under sections 124A, 268, 501, 505 IPC for making allegedly seditious statements against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Court found that the statements made by Dua on the live broadcast of HW News Network via social media platforms, were neither made to incite violence nor to create disorder. It was further expounded that the protection guaranteed to journalists in the Kedar Nath Singh Judgment of 1962 will be applicable in the present case. Another prayer for formulation of a Committee to look into FIR's against media persons with a standing of 10 years or more was rejected, adding that the same would encroach upon the field reserved for the legislature.
Bench: Justice UU Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran
Case Title: Vinod Dua v. Union of India
3) Supreme Court stayed an order passed by Delhi High Court in terms of which the imposition of IGST on import of oxygen concentrators for personal use was termed arbitrary. The Appeal against the Delhi HC order was filed by Ministry of Finance, in terms of which the Court had quashed a notification imposing 28% IGST qua oxygen concentrator's imports on individual importers. Court has stayed operation of Delhi HC's judgment till further orders & notice has been made returnable within 4 weeks.
Bench: JJ. DY Chandrachud & MR Shah
Case Title: Ministry Of Finance (Department Of Revenue), Government Of India Versus Gurcharan Singh
4) While taking stock of those children who have been orphaned in light of both parents succumbing to Covid, Supreme Court issued directions to the Centre for setting up mechanism to identify beneficiaries under recently launched “PM Cares for COVID affected Children”. Court also identified 10 states and directed their State Government's to appoint Nodal officers for dispensing with necessary information related to identification of orphans and schemes in force. Broad features of the scheme proposes monthly stipend for children and funds allocation, free education, health insurance and loans for higher education. Court will take up the case on June 7, 2021 and all stakeholders are expected to file their replies.
Bench: JJ. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose
Case Title: In Re Contagion of COVID 19 Virus In Children Protection Homes
5) Supreme Court has laid down Guidelines for Dowry Death trials. Top Court noted that though, the menace of dowry deaths has been increasing day-by-day, there is a need for trial courts to practice caution as often, family members of husband are roped in even though they have no active role in commission of the offence. Some important features of the guidelines included the innate need to interpret Section 304B IPC with the intent to curb the social evil of bride burning and dowry demand; the need to balance the rights of a speedy trial and application of principles of audi alteram partem, as well as the requirement of establishing existence of “proximate” and "live link” between the dowry death and cruelty or harassment for dowry demand by the husband or his relatives.
Bench: CJI N.V. Ramana and Justice Aniruddha Bose
Case Title: Satbir Singh and anr v. State of Haryana
1) Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, while appearing in an appeal before the Bombay High Court against the acquittal of Former Editor in Chief of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal, raised serious objections as to the observations made by the Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi in the Judgment passed by Goa District Court. The SG was appearing in an appeal against the said judgment by Goa Government. Before the single bench of Justice SC Gupte, he argued that the judgement discloses the name of the victim and her husband along with their email ids, digs into the victim's sexual history and past as well. He stated that the entire judgment proceeded on the whirlwind of the Complainant being on Trial. Court has issued notice on the appeal & it is returnable on June 24.
Case Title: State of Goa Vs. Tarun Tejpal
2) The Delhi High Court rejected a plea by Actor Juhi Chawla, against implementation of 5G, raising Environmental concerns. Court came down heavily upon the petitioners, imposing costs of 20 lakh and along with the payment of deficit court fees. Justice JR Midha, holding the plaint “stuffed with vexatious averments”, said, “Application is misconceived and frivolous. Petitioners have done utter disfavour with regards to the law of court fees".
Case title: Ms. Juhi Chawla & Ors v. Science and Engineering Research Board & Ors
3) To ensure that the internally displaced victims of post poll violence are peacefully allowed to go back to their houses and live there, the Calcutta High Court constituted a three member committee for monitoring and coordinating the situation. The bench has also provided an official email ID namely firstname.lastname@example.org of the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority, through which the persons allegedly not being allowed to go back to their houses can communicate about the problems being faced by them in returning back to the houses.
Case Title: Sushmita Saha Dutta Vs. Union of India & Ors. + other connected matters
4) The Delhi High Court slammed the Government of NCT of Delhi for its inability to preserve appropriate doses of Covaxin for inoculating the residents, whose second dose is due and overdue. Court noted that the Kejriwal Government must refrain from shifting blames and instead focus on getting the requisite inoculations done. Court directed the GNCTD counsel to take instructions with respect to the issue pertaining to provision of second dose of Covaxin and further posted the matter to be heard on June 7, 2021.
5) Delhi High Court issued summons to Baba Ramdev on a suit filed by Delhi Medical Association (DMA) seeking to restrain him from disseminating false information about Patanjali's Coronil kit that is a cure for COVID19. However, the single Judge Bench of Justice C Hari Shankar observed that Baba Ramdev's comments were intra vires, under article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and noted that the DMA, instead of filing a suit, should be busy finding remedies for the virus.
6) The Drug Controller informed the Delhi High Court that Gautam Gambhir Foundation was guilty of hoarding Fabiflu in contravention of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The Drug Controller has also held MLA Praveen Kumar guilty for hoarding oxygen cylinders. With these observations the bench directed the Drug Controller to take action against all those found breaching the provisions under the Act.
7) The Bombay High Court while noting the role that is being played by Adar Poonawala CEO of Serum Institute of India distributing and manufacturing CoviShield vaccine, has asked the State of Maharashtra to rethink Y + security for him and his family. A mumbai-based lawyer has filed the plea seeking security for Poonawalla. However, Poonawalla's lawyer, Mr. Hitesh Jain, Managing Partner at Parinam Law told Lawbeat that Adar Poonawalla has never made requests for Z+ security and neither does he endorse any demands made on his behalf or for him by anyone.
8) The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, South East District, Delhi granted bail to Navneet Kalra, accused of hoarding and black marketing of Oxygen Concentrators in the National Capital. Learned CMM, Arun Kumar Garg, while granting bail, directed the accused to admit bail bonds of 1 lac each and restricted to contact purchasers of concentrator pending investigation.
Case Title: State Vs. Navneet Kalra
- Sanya Talwar is the Editor at Lawbeat