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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up, July 19- July 25, 2021

Nupur Thapliyal
25 July 2021 2:31 PM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up, July 19- July 25, 2021
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JUDGMENTS THIS WEEK1. Supreme Court Strikes Down 97th Constitutional Amendment To The Extent It Relates To Co-operative SocietiesCase Title : Union of India vs Rajendra Shah and othersCitation : LL 2021 SC 312The Supreme Court this week upheld a 2013 judgment of the Gujarat High Court which struck down the provisions of the Constitution(97th Amendment) Act 2011 to the extent it introduced Part...

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JUDGMENTS THIS WEEK

1. Supreme Court Strikes Down 97th Constitutional Amendment To The Extent It Relates To Co-operative Societies

Case Title : Union of India vs Rajendra Shah and others
Citation : LL 2021 SC 312

The Supreme Court this week upheld a 2013 judgment of the Gujarat High Court which struck down the provisions of the Constitution(97th Amendment) Act 2011 to the extent it introduced Part IX B in the Constitution to deal with co-operative societies.

A 3-judge bench comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman, KM Joseph and BR Gavai dismissed the appeals filed by the Union of India against the judgment of the Gujarat High Court. The bench unanimously held that the 97th Constitutional Amendment required ratification by at least one-half of the state legislatures as per Article 368(2) of the Constitution, since it dealt with a entry which was an exclusive state subject (co-operative societies). Since such ratification was not done in the case of the 97th Constitutional amendment, it was liable to be struck down.

There was a split in the bench on the point whether Part IX B will survive with respect to multi-state co-operative societies. While the majority comprising Justices Nariman and Gavai upheld those provisions of Part IX B which deal with multi-state co-operative societies by applying the doctrine of severability, Justice Joseph dissented on this count. Justice Joseph held that the doctrine of severability was not applicable and struck down the entire amendment.

2. Sanction U/S 197 CrPC Required To Prosecute Public Servants If Alleged Act Committed Is Directly Concerned With Official Duty: Supreme Court

Case: Indra Devi vs. State of Rajasthan [CrA 593 OF 2021]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 318

The Supreme Court observed that sanction from competent authorities under Section 197 of Code of Criminal Procedure is required to prosecute public servants if the alleged act committed is directly concerned with the official duty.

The yardstick to be followed is to form a prima facie view whether the act of omission for which the accused was charged had a reasonable connection with the discharge of his duties, the bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta observed.

The court observed thus while dismissing an appeal against a Rajasthan High Court judgment which allowed a petition filed by a accused - public servant under Section 482 of the CrPC and held that sanction under Section 197 CrPC was necessary.

3. No Disrespect Shown To Judge; No Offence Under SC-ST Act Attracted: Supreme Court Quashes Criminal Case Against MP RS Bharathi

Case: RS Bharathi vs. State [CrA 635 /2021]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 321

The Supreme Court quashed a charge sheet filed against DMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP RS Bharathi under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act over a speech made by him.

The court observed that there is no disrespect shown to Justice Varadarajan. Though he indulged in intemperate rant which should have been avoided, there is nothing in the speech which attracts an offence under either Section 3 (1) (u) or 3(1)(v) of the SC-ST Act, the bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose observed.

The chargesheet was filed against the MP after he made a speech at a meeting organised by the leaders of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in the name of 'Kalaignar Vasagar Vattam'. He had also spoken about the appointment of Justice Varadarajan as a High Court Judge after Late M. Karunanidhi came to power. He also allegedly said that all these appointments to persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes community is because of the alms of the Dravidian movement. The Madras High Court had refused to quash the criminal proceedings against him.

4. Power Of Compounding Must Be Expressly Conferred By Statute Which Creates Offence: Supreme Court

Case: Prakash Gupta vs. Securities and Exchange Board of India [CrA 569 of 2021]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 320

The power of compounding must be expressly conferred by the statute which creates the offence, the Supreme Court observed.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that in respect of offences which lie outside the Indian Penal Code, compounding may be permitted only if the statute which creates the offence contains an express provision for compounding before such an offence can be made compoundable. This is because Section 320 CrPC provides for the compounding of offences only under the IPC.

Read Also: "Due Deference Must Be Given To SEBI's Opinion": Supreme Issues Court Guidelines For Compounding Offences Under Section 24A SEBI Act

5. Booth Capturing & Bogus Voting Affects Rule Of Law & Democracy; Should Be Dealt With Iron Hands: Supreme Court

Case: Lakshman Singh Vs. State of Bihar [ CrA 606 OF 2021]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 319

Any attempt of booth capturing and/or bogus voting should be dealt with iron hands because it ultimately affects the rule of law and democracy, the Supreme Court observed in a judgment.

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that the freedom of voting is a part of the freedom of expression and secrecy of casting vote is necessary for strengthening democracy. The essence of the electoral system should be to ensure freedom of voters to exercise their free choice, the bench said.

In this case, the accused were convicted for the offences under Section 323 and 147 IPC and are sentenced to undergo six months simple imprisonment. The accused had allegedly formed an unlawful assembly "to snatch the voters list and to cast bogus voting" and attacked some political workers during an election.

6. Supreme Court Dismisses Telecom Companies' Pleas To Recompute AGR Dues

Title: Union of India vs Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and others
Citation : LL 2021 SC 322

The Supreme Court rejected the pleas of telecom companies seeking recomputation of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues demanded by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah pronounced the order dismissing the applications filed by Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices. The bench had observed that reassessment was prohibited in view of an earlier order passed on July 20 last year.

Though the applications by telcos "appear to be innocuous at first blush, the end result of the relief sought in the guise of correction or rectification of the defects or arithmetical errors in calculation of AGR dues, would be recalculation....", the order said.

7. Trial Judges Work Amidst Appalling Conditions; Colonial Mindset Towards District Judiciary Must Change: Supreme Court

Case: Somesh Chaurasia vs. State of M.P.
Citation: LL 2021 SC 317 

The colonial mindset which pervades the treatment meted out to the district judiciary must change, the Supreme Court observed.

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Hrishikesh Roy noted that the Trial judges work amidst appalling conditions.

"Lack of infrastructure, inadequate protection, examples of judges being made targets when they stand up for what is right and sadly, a subservience to the administration of the High Court for transfers and postings which renders them vulnerable", the court said. 

8. There Is No Per Se Bar To Grant Relief Of Interest On Refund To A Subsequent Purchaser Of Flat: Supreme Court

Case: Laureate Buildwell Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Charanjeet Singh [CA 7042 of 2019]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 315 

The Supreme Court observed that there is no per se bar to grant relief of interest on refund to a subsequent purchaser of flat.

It cannot be said that a subsequent purchaser who steps into the shoes of an original allottee of a housing project in which the builder has not honoured its commitment to deliver the flat within a stipulated time, cannot expect any even reasonable time, for the performance of the builder's obligation, the bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat observed.

The three judge bench also observed that per se bar to the relief of interest on refund, enunciated by the decision in HUDA v. Raje Ram which was applied in Wing Commander Arifur Rahman Khan and Anr. v. DLF Southern Homes Pvt. Ltd., cannot be considered good law.

IMPORTANT APEX COURT UPDATES

1. Pegasus Snooping : Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas Moves Supreme Court For SIT Probe; Says Centre Evasive

Seeking a court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team into the reports of snooping of activists, journalists and politicians using the Israeli spyware Pegaus, Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas of Communist Marxist Party of India (Marxist) has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court.

The petition highlights the statements given by the Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnav in the Parliament to state that the Government of India has neither denied nor admitted the snooping by spyware. It is pointed out that the Minister has said that "no unauthorized interception" has taken place, giving rise to an inferential question if the interception was authorized. However, the Government is not forthcoming with a statement on how such interception has been authorized.

2. Supreme Court Dismisses Delhi Jal Board's Plea To Initiate Contempt Against Haryana For Alleged Non Supply Of Water

The Supreme Court this week dismissed a petition filed by the Delhi Jal Board seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against Haryana Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan & the Additional Chief Secretary, Irrigation and Water Resources Department, Devender Singh, for 'wilful disobedience' of Court's February 1996 order of the court regarding maintaining of water level at the Wazirabad reservoir to serve the drinking-water needs of Delhi.

According to the Board, the court through its order had directed that the water level at Wazirabad reservoir has to be kept full to its capacity by Haryana in order to meet the drinking water needs of Delhi.

3. UAPA Case : Allan Shuhaib's Bail Will Be Challenged Too, Says NIA; Supreme Court Adjourns Thwaha Fasal's Bail Plea

The Supreme Court this week adjourned to next week the hearing of the petition filed by Kerala youth Thwaha Fasal, booked under the UAPA for alleged Maoist links, challenging the Kerala High Court's judgment which set aside the bail granted to him by the trial court.

The Court adjourned the matter after being told that the National Investigation Agency was intending to challenge the bail granted to the co-accused Allan Shuhaib, which was left undisturbed by the High Court.

4. Supreme Court Upholds NGT Ban On Firecrackers In Delhi-NCR Regions With 'Poor' Air Quality

The Supreme Court dismissed appeals challenging the National Green Tribunal's order which had imposed an complete ban on the sale and use of all firecrackers during the COVID-19 pandemic in NCR and other cities in India wherein the Air Quality Index (AQI) was poor.

Stating that authorities may permit sale and use of firecrackers as per the category of AQI, a Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna ordered that the same was addressed in the NGT's order and no further clarification or deliberation was required.

5. Supreme Court Urges UPSC To Take 'Lenient View' On Plea For Extra Chance; Allows Civil Service Aspirants To Make Representation

The Supreme Court refused to pass directions to the Central Government and the Union Public Service Commission to grant one-time age-relaxation to those candidates who could not appear in the 2020 examination due to COVID-related difficulties and restrictions.

However, the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna gave the candidates liberty to submit representations before concerned authorities seeking extra attempt. The bench urged that the authorities may take a lenient view on the plea for extra chance in the light of the COVID pandemic situation.

The petitioners had approached the Court seeking extra-attempt citing the difficulties caused by the COVID pandemic last year.

6. 'Very Unlikely, But You Can Try' : Supreme Court To Delhi Police On Plea To Set Aside Bail Granted To Activists In Riots Case

The Supreme Court orally told the Delhi police that it is "very unlikely" to be convinced to set aside the bail granted by the Delhi High Court to three student-activists, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha, in the Delhi Riots conspiracy case.

At the same time, the bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta orally said that it may have a different opinion on whether lengthy debates about statutory provisions should be there in a bail order.

Also Read: 'Chargesheet Runs Into 20,000 Pages' : Supreme Court Allows Student Activists To Produce Pendrive In Delhi Police's Appeal

7. De-Recognition Of Political Parties Can Be A Last Resort To Enforce Compliance, Election Commission Tells Supreme Court

"The recourse to Paragraph 16A in all cases may not be called for. Your Lordships may censure the political parties and see how an election or two fan out with the threat of 16A hanging over their heads. If nothing is done, the 16A route can be gone down", Senior Advocate Harish Salve, for the Election Commission of India, told the Supreme Court.

The bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and B. R. Gavai was considering a contempt petition filed by advocate Brajesh Singh where he claims to be aggrieved by the conduct of the respondents during the Bihar Legislative Assembly Election of 2020, alleging wilful disobedience of the Court's judgement of February 13, 2020. 

8. Will Act Against Those Responsible If Bakrid Relaxations Lead To Untoward COVID Spread : Supreme Court To Kerala Govt

If the relaxations announced by the Kerala Government in lockdown norms for three days ahead of Bakr Eid celebration lead to any "untoward spread of COVID-19 disease", action will be taken against those responsible, warned the Supreme Court this week.

Taking note of the fact that the order issued by the Kerala Government on July 17, which eased the curbs, has worked itself out, a bench comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman and BR Gavai refrained from quashing it. However, the bench stated that any member of the public will be at liberty to approach the Supreme Court to invite its attention to any "untoward spread of COVID" due to the relaxations, on which the Court will take appropriate action against those responsible.

9. Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Seeking Postponement Of CLAT, Direct Authorities To Not Insist On COVID Vaccination

Supreme Court has refused to postpone the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2021 scheduled to be held on July 23. 

A Division Bench of Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose has directed that all safety measures have to be strictly followed and Authorities should not insist on Students taking vaccination

"Its been submitted that it will be difficult for students residing in areas of lockdown to take the exam. The examination is scheduled to be held on July 23rd and we don't deem it proper to postpone the exam at this stage. However, we see force in submission that all safety measures have to be strictly followed. Authorities should not insist on Students taking vaccination." the Bench said 

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