Legal Updates May 2015

1.     1.   Hearing a petition filed by a woman whose medical status was displayed on her bed when she was admitted in the Guru TegBahadur hospital in 2011, the Delhi High Court on May 14 ordered that the medical status of patients must be kept confidential.

2.       The Supreme Court has dismissed a batch of petitions filed by various telecom companies, including Vodafone and BhartiAirtel, seeking extension of their spectrum licences by a further period of 10 years.

3.       The Supreme Court stayed the circular issued by Government of Delhi by which the government had said that the media organizations could be prosecuted for “criminal defamation” for “defamatory imputations” against the government.

4.       The Lok Sabha passed the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill. The Bill simplifies the law relating to cheque bouncing and makes if convenient for payees if the cheque bounces. The Bill proposes to insert a new sub-clause to the existing Section 142 [sub-clause (2)].

5.       Hearing a petition filed by Wildlife Rescue And Rehabilitation Centre, the Supreme Court ordered that no cruelty should me meted out to elephants that are engaged in festival activities.

6.       The Supreme Court allowed government to fill up the post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioner in accordance with the CVC Act. It also directed the government to submit the entire record of appointment process to the court in July.

7.       A day after the Supreme Court restrained him from interfering with the process of selection of civil judges initiated by the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice C S Karnan of the Madras High Court ignited a new controversy by directing the CBI to inquire into the educational qualifications of fellow judge of the Madras High Court, Justice V Dhanapalan.

8.       A day after the Supreme Court restrained him from interfering with the process of selection of civil judges initiated by the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice C S Karnan of the Madras High Court ignited a new controversy by directing the CBI to inquire into the educational qualifications of fellow judge of the Madras High Court, Justice V Dhanapalan.

9.       The Maharashtra state cabinet has decided to give its approval to setting up of a Circuit Bench of the Bombay High Court at Kolhapur.  The setting up of the circuit bench will benefit litigants across western Maharashtra including Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts.

10.   The Union Finance Minister ShriArunJaitley, while responding to the discussions on the Finance Bill in Rajya Sabha on 7th May, 2015, had announced the constitution of a Committee headed by Justice A.P. Shah to look into, inter alia, the issue of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on FIIs.

Earlier Week of May 2015

1.      11.  The Supreme Court came down heavily on Government of Uttar Pradesh regarding the planting of trees around Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) and asked, “Why have you been sleeping for more than 10 years? Till the time we were driven to direct CBI probe nothing was done.”
12.       After the Cabinet gave its approval to the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 in April this year, the Lok Sabha passed the Bill. The Bill provides for trial of juveniles aged between 16 and 18 years to be tried as adults for heinous crimes.
3.       Hearing a public interest litigation seeking to ban inter country adoption, the bench of Justices RanjanGogoi and N V Ramana expressed its concerns over child trafficking and said that it was time to crack the whip on the adoption rackets.
4.       The Union Cabinet approved the amendments that the Government is planning to make to the Whistle Blowers Act. The Act provides for safeguards against disclosure of information that may “affect the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.”
5.       Hearing a writ petition filed by Voluntary Health Ass. Of Punjab, the Supreme Court expressed concerns regarding lack of awareness or fear regarding female foeticide in the country. The Bench consisting of Justices DipakMisra and Prafulla C Pant also said that the directions given by the Apex Court with respect to spreading awareness about female foeticide need to be followed by all states and it directed the State of NCT to submit a specific affidavit regarding the steps taken to educate the public.
6.       The 122nd Constitution Amendment Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha. The Bill paves the way for Goods and Services Tax in India, after it has been made law. The Bill aims to tax both services and goods, with goods to be taxed by Centre and services to be taxed by States.
7.       Following the recent trend, the Rajya Sabha passed The Repealing and Amending Bills, 2014 and 2015 though a voice vote. Both the bills aim to repeal obsolete laws. The 2015 bill contains 36 redundant laws and three acts in its first schedule, i.e. The Indian Fisheries Act, 1897,
8.       The founder of Satyam, B RamalingaRaju and nine others have moved to the Sessions Court in Hyderabad to appeal against their conviction in the Satyam scam case. Earlier, the High Court had declined to hear the appeals, holding that the appeal was not maintainable before the High Court and accordingly returned the appeals.
9.       Hearing the petition filed by the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) against lawyers who made controversial remarks in the BBC documentary on December 16 gang rape, the Supreme Court refused to restrain BCI, SCBA from taking action against the lawyers to appear in the BBC Documentary, India’s Daughter.
10.   The Competition Commission of India has rejected the complaints filed against several e-commerce companies, which include Flipkart India Pvt Ltd, Jasper InfotechPvt Ltd, Xerion Retail Pvt Ltd, Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd and Vector E-commerce Pvt Ltd.

First Week of May 2015

1.      1. Advocate M L Sharma was served a show cause notice by a five member bench headed by Justice Khehar for making ‘scandalous’ and ‘irresponsible’ allegations in his PIL challenging the new law on appointment of judges for higher judiciary.
2.       In an attempt to reduce in-house litigation and conflict, the Government has reportedly decided to appoint a legal expert in every Department/ Ministry. This would enable the centre to decentralize availability of legal assistance by providing services of Indian Legal Service officers to each ministry/departments.
3.       The Bombay High Court held that an accused can be booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) as well as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in cases of terror activities. The matter was heard by a division bench of Justices PV Hardas and ShaliniPhansalkar Joshi.
4.       After being sworn in as a Criminal Court Judge, Ms. Raja Rajeswari has become first India-born woman to be appointed a judge in the New York City. She took the oath of office at a ceremony along with 27 other Judges appointed to the Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court, which are part of the New York State Unified Court System.
5.       The Delhi High Court has issued a stay order against the hostel chain startup Zostel over a complaint by Oyo rooms for alleged theft of copyright materials. Zostel had recently launched ZoRooms and works on a similar model as Oyo Rooms.
6.       In a bid to shed the tag of being the biggest litigant, the government has decided to attach law officers to various central ministries to ensure that courts are only approached as a last resort and cases where chances of winning are lean are not pursued.
7.       Government’s refusal to criminalise marital rape has been termed as “regressive” by several women rights activists but experts supporting the Centre’s stand feel there is no need to tinker with the law as it might be “misused” by some to settle scores.
8.       Delhi court here fixed May 7 for considering the charge sheet filed against three arrested accused, including two government officials, in the corporate espionage case for allegedly possessing “sensitive” documents relating to various ministries.
9.       Bureaucrats are relieved but legal experts are skeptical over the proposed amendment to shield babus from prosecution in graft cases after retirement. While the bureaucrats feel it will help overcome the “policy paralysis”, legal experts have questioned the move to provide a blanket protection from criminal action without sanction from competent authority.
10.   The Supreme Court stayed proceedings in trial courts in two criminal defamation cases against Delhi Chief Minister ArvindKejriwal and decided to hear them along with the pleas in which the constitutional validity of the penal provisions have been challenged.