Chhattisgarh High Court Denied Interim Relief To Bureaucrat In Money Laundering Case- [Read Order]

Chhattisgarh High Court

The Chhattisgarh High Court on Tuesday refused to grant interim relief to lok Shukla, former IAS and Principal Secretary to the Department of Parliamentary Affairs, Chhattisgarh, in the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered against him for money laundering.

The division bench of Chief Justice PR Ramachandra Menon and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu granted two weeks time to the Directorate of Enforcement to file a detailed reply but expressed its disinclination to grant any interim order for the time being.

Shukla had approached the High Court through Advocate Aayush Bhatia, stating that the ECIR registered against him was illegal inasmuch as the case was commenced and continued by the authorities without:

(i) Recording any information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence under u/s 154 of the Cr.P.C.

(ii) Forwarding any report/ FIR/ ECIR of the cognizable offence to the competent Magistrate u/s 257 of the Cr.P.C.

(iii) Producing such case diary before the Magistrate, if the Petitioner was arrested and produced before the Magistrate (u/s 167 Cr.P.C).

He had also questioned the transfer of the investigation of in case from authorities at Raipur to New Delhi.

He had submitted that despite the fact that all the infrastructure is available at Raipur, the investigation had been shifted to Delhi and he was required to be present before the authority concerned in Delhi, even during the Covid-19 pandemic period; only with an intention to harass him.

The ED had contended that the plea had been filed only to stall the proceedings and even though the Petitioner had been granted pre-arrest bail, he was not cooperating with the authority.

It is pointed out that the Petitioner had sought for an Anticipatory Bail referring to the cognizable offences and has obtained a favourable order as well. It is however pointed out that the Court has not given any ‘blanket order’ and it has been specifically directed to co-operate with the proceedings/investigation. After obtaining that order, instead of complying with the directions given by the Court, the Petitioner has chosen to approach this Court by filing the writ petition, questioning the vires of the provisions in the ‘Act’; absolutely without any tenable ground,” the High Court recorded ED’s submissions. 

As mentioned above, the court has issued notice to the authority but has refused to stay the investigation for the time being.

Inter alia, the plea challenges various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, relating to arrest, as ultra vires the Constitution.

The Petitioner has contended that:

  • Section 50 of the Act is contrary to the right against self- incrimination enshrined under the Constitution;
  • The provisions of Chapter III of PMLA dealing with attachment, adjudication and confiscation are unreasonable and void;
  • Provisions of search & seizure under Section 17 and 18 of the PMLA are arbitrary;
  • Section 19 of the Act enables the authorities to arrest a person even before forming a prima facie opinion about complicity of the accused
  • Section 24 of PMLA violates criminal law principle that accused is innocent until proven guilty.

The ED had opposed these submissions while stating that the idea and understanding of the Petitioner as to scope of the provisions of the Act is “wrong and misconceived”. 

Case Details:

Case Title: Alok Shukla v. Directorate of Enforcement

Case No.: WPCR No. 291/2020

Quorum: Chief Justice PR Ramachandra Menon and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu

Appearance: Advocate Arshdeep Singh (for Petitioner); ASG B. Gopa Kumar with Dr. Saurabh Pande (for Respondents)

Allahabad Highcourt Quashes Non-Bailable Warrant Issued Against Former MP Jaya Prada For Allegedly Making False Statement During Elections- [Read Order]

Allahabad Highcourt

The Allahabad High Court recently quashed the non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued against former MP Jaya Prada by Additional District & Sessions Judge, Rampur in connection to a NCR registered against her for making derogatory remarks against her political opponents during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Noting that the offences registered against her were non-cognizable, the single bench of Justice Om Prakash-VII observd,

It is not disputed in the present matter that charge sheet was submitted under Section 171-G IPC. Schedule appended with the Cr.P.C. clearly reveals that offence is non cognizable. If such is the position cognizance on the charge sheet as State case could not be taken in the present matter. Trial Court ought to have proceeded with the case as complaint case.

Accordingly, the matter has been remanded back to the court below to pass afresh order in accordance with law.

A NCR was registered against Prada for making ‘X-ray like eyes’ remark against SP’s Abdullah Azam Khan. The Investigating Officer concerned submitted charge sheet for the offence under Section 171-G IPC (False statement in connection with an election) following which the ASJ court in February, 2020 issued a NBW against her.

Prada had moved the High Court under Section 482 of CrPC seeking quashing of entire criminal proceedings as well as non-bailable warrant.

Her counsel Neeraj Srivastava had contended that as per the punishment provided for the offence under Section 171-G IPC and the nature of offence disclosed in the Schedule of the CrPC, the offence is non-cognizable and cognizance could not be taken directly as State case.

Giving partial relief in the matter, the High Court has asked the trial court to pass fresh orders.

Case Details:

Case Title: Jaya Prada Nahata v. State of UP & Anr.

Case No.: Application U/S 482 No. 11592/2020

Quorum: Justice Om Prakash-VII

Appearance: Advocate Neeraj Srivastava (for Petitioner);

Petition filed before Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging Section 10A Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code

Madhya Pradesh Highcourt

Section 10A had suspended the initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process qua defaults which arise on or after March 25, 2020.

A Petition has been filed before the Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 10A of the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016. (V N Dubey vs UOI)

On June 30, a Division Bench of Justices SC Sharma and SK Awasthi at the High Court’s Indore Bench granted Assistant Solicitor General Milind Phadke six weeks’ time to seek instructions on the petition.

The petition, which is in the form of a public interest litigation, was filed by an Advocate V N Dubey.

The newly inserted Section 10A suspends initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process qua defaults which arise on or after March 25, 2020.As per the Section, the suspension is for a period of six months or such further period, but not exceeding one year.

It is the Petitioner’s stance that the first Proviso to Section 10A provides for a “complete forever bar” on the initiation of insolvency in respect of the defaults that occur during the period of March 25, 2020 to September 25, 2020 or March 25, 2021 (if extended by notification).

It is stated that the Ordinance leaves an impression that any debt which is supposed to be paid during this time period, if not honoured on due date, then no application for initiation of insolvency process under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 can be taken any time in future.“That the Proviso to Section 10A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, opens up the way for huge quantum of wilful defaults, brings in force a means of inequality and prejudice to the public at large and if not brought down immediately is capable of diluting the object and purpose of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, and directly violating the basic fundamental rights, constitutional rights and other legal rights of the public at large.”the Petitioner contends.

The Petitioner thus argues that Section 10A directly obstructs not only the right to access to justice which is guaranteed under Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution but also the right to business and profession conferred under Article 19(1)(g).

The matter would be heard next on August 27.

India cannot exercise jurisdiction to try Italian marines, entitled to compensation from Italy: Permanent Court of Arbitration

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone

In a setback to India, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague has decided that in a dispute between India and Italy, the former is precluded from exercising its jurisdiction to try two Italian marines.

The decision pertains to an incident of February 2012 when two Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone fired shots while on-board an Italian vessel, Enrica Lexie. These shots killed two Indian fishermen who were on board an Indian vessel, St. Anthony.

The two marines were released from India and sent to Italy through orders passed by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the dispute between the two countries as regards which country will try the two marines was before the PCA.

Upholding its jurisdiction to hear and decide the dispute between the countries, the PCA went on to rule that Italy would have jurisdiction to decide on the question of immunity for the marines.

Thus, the tribunal held that India is precluded from exercising its jurisdiction.“DECIDES, by three votes to two, in respect of Italy’s Submission (2)(f), that the Marines are entitled to immunity in relation to the acts that they committed during the incident of 15 February 2012, and that India is precluded from exercising its jurisdiction over the Marines.”Permanent Court of Arbitration

Taking note of Italy’s commitment to resume its criminal investigation into the events of 15 February 2012, it was also held by three votes to two that India must take necessary steps to cease to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the marines.

The PCA also ruled that while India’s conduct has not been in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Italy breached provisions of the Convention by intercepting the navigation of India’s vessel “St. Anthony”, on which two Indian fishermen were shot dead by the accused marines.

Italy is, as a result, liable to pay compensation to India, the PCA ruled. It held:

“…that as a result of the breach by Italy of Article 87, paragraph 1, subparagraph (a), and Article 90 of the Convention, India is entitled to payment of compensation in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property (including to the “St. Antony”) and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members of the “St. Antony”, which by its nature cannot be made good through restitution…”

The two nations are required to hold consultations in order to arrive at the amount of compensation to be paid to India.

The five-member tribunal consisted of President, Judge Vladimir Golitsyn, Judges Jin-Hyun Paik and Patrick Robinson, Professor Francesco Francioni, andDr. Pemmaraju Sreenivasa Rao.

Read Extracts of the Award: https://images.assettype.com/barandbench/2020-07/129b32c4-a6b3-4561-922e-8137bf668493/Italian_Republic_vs_Republic_of_India__Italian_Marines_Case_.pdf

Bombay High court Directs IT Department To Refund Over Rs. 833 crores To Vodafone Idea Limited Within Two Weeks Without Fail- (Read Judgement)

Vodafone Idea

In a huge relief to Vodafone Idea Limited, the Bombay High Court last Friday directed the income tax department to refund Rs.833 crores to the telecom operator within two weeks “without fail.”

Division bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice Madhav Jamdar pronounced a 14-page oral order via video conference granting relief after hearing the petitioner Vodafone Idea and the Assistant Commissioner as well as the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax along with the Union of India.

Court observed that there is no power vested in the respondent tax authorities to adjust self-admitted refund amount against the tax dues “which are not even adjudicated upon by the respondents and may arise in future as contemplated/visualised by the respondent.”

Case Background

The petitioner filed the petition seeking directions for refund of Rs.1009,43,88,63 (over 1000 cr) from the IT department quantified by its own rectification order dated May 28,

Vodafone Idea filed its return of income on September 30, 2014 in the name of Vodafone Mobile Services Limited. The said income tax return was revised on March 31, 2016 and further revised on February 22, 2017. Thereafter, on October 31, 2019, the Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax passed an assessment order under Section 143(3) read with Section 144C of the Income Tax Act, 1961 determining the refund of Rs.733.80 crore payable to Vodafone Idea on November 7, 2019.

Following this, Vodafone Idea filed an application for rectification under Section 154 of the Income Tax Act seeking rectification of certain mistakes apparent from the record. Another rectification application was filed before the Assistant Commissioner on December 3, 2019 in view of the case of petitioner having been transferred from Delhi to Mumbai by order under Section 162 of the Act.

Since the respondents did not grant any refund in favour of the petitioner, the petitioner filed a writ petition in 2018 before the Delhi High Court. By the judgment dated December 18, 2018, Delhi High Court dismissed the said writ petition. Being aggrieved by the said judgment, Vodafone Idea filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court.

In a judgment dated April 29, 2020, the Supreme Court held that the final assessment order passed under Section 143 of the Income Tax Act indicated that the petitioner was entitled for refund of Rs.733 Crores insofar as assessment year 2014- 2015 is concerned, while in assessment year 2015-16 there was a demand of Rs.582 crores.

The respondent authorities were accordingly directed to refund the amount of Rs.733 Crores within four weeks from the date of the said order subject to any proceedings that the Revenue may deem appropriate in accordance with law. The respondents were directed to conclude the proceedings initiated pursuant to the notice under sub-section (2) of Section 143 of the Act in respect of assessment year 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 as early as possible.

Pursuant to the said judgment the assistant IT-commissioner issued an intimation order under Section 245 of the Act. In the said intimation, it was the case of the assistant commissioner that as per their records, a sum of Rs.864 cores was outstanding against Vodafone Idea, in respect of various assessment years i.e. 2000-01, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2012-13 and 2018-19. By the said intimation, the commissioner proposed to adjust the outstanding demand against the refund for the assessment year 2014-2015 ordered in the case of the petitioner.

Finally, in an order dated May 28, 2020, the assistant commissioner held that Vodafone Idea was entitled to refund of Rs.1009.43 crore. However, Rs.176.39 crore was deducted out of the refund amount and the net refundable amount was determined at Rs.833.04 crore.

Order

Vodafone’s counsel Senior Advocate Jamshed Mistri referred to the Supreme Court’s order and the May 28 order passed by the assistant commissioner himself and submitted that the said order was a common order disposing off all the applications for rectification filed by the petitioner under Section 154 of the Act and also the notices issued by the respondents under Section 245 of the Act seeking adjustment of the alleged outstanding dues of Vodafone Idea against the amount of refund due to them.

Mistri submitted that once the assistant commissioner respondent No.1 having exercised power under Section 245 of the Act, held that the net amount of Rs.833.04 crore is refundable to the Vodafone Idea, there is no question of withholding the sum on the grounds set out for the first time in the affidavit-in-reply. There is no provision under the Act permitting withholding of the said admitted amount once having passed an order under Section 154 read with Section 245 of the Act.

On the other hand Advocate Sham Walve appeared on behalf of the respondent authorities and , strongly pressed in service Section 241A of the Income Tax Act and submitted that since huge outstanding demand has been pending against Vodafone Idea, the Assessing Officer has initiated proceedings under Section 241A of the Act.

The action of the respondents to withhold the refund under Section 241A is justified in view of the liberty granted by the Supreme Court in the order dated April 29, 2020, Walve submitted. He relied on a 2012 judgment of the Delhi High Court in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. Vs. Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax in support of his arguments.

After conclusion of submissions, the bench observed-

“It is not in dispute that as on today, there is no determination of any further tax liability for any other assessment year which liability can be adjusted against the admitted refundable amount determined by the respondent No.1 assuming Section 241A is applicable or otherwise. Even otherwise no approval is granted by the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner as the case may be to withhold the refund up to the date on which the assessment is made. In this case, the assessment order under Section 143(1) for the assessment year 2014-2015 has already attained finality resulting in refund of amount in view of the judgment delivered by Hon’ble Supreme Court on 29th April, 2020 and the order dated 28th May, 2020 passed by the respondent no.1.”

Referring to the judgment relied upon by the respondent’s counsel, Court noted-

“In our view, the said judgment is not even remotely applicable to the facts of this case. Reliance placed by the learned counsel on the said judgment is totally misplaced.”

Finally, the income tax department was directed to refund a sum of Rs.833.04 crore to petitioner within two weeks from the date of uploading the order without fail.

Read Judgement:- https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-377540.pdf

Union Home Ministry under leadership of Home Minister Shri Amit Shah today declared nine individuals as designated terrorists under provisions of UAPA Act

Ministry of Home Affairs

Under the strong and iron-willed leadership of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, the Central Government had amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 in August 2019, to include the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist. Prior to this amendment, only organizations could be designated as terrorist organizations.

The Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah during the debate in Parliament last year on the amendment to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, had strongly expressed the Modi Government’s commitment to firmly fight the menace of terrorism and had unequivocally reaffirmed the nation’s resolve on this matter. By invoking the said amended provision, in September 2019, the Central Government designated four individuals as terrorists, viz. Maulana Masood Azhar, Hafeez Saeed, Zaki-ur-RehmanLakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim.

Reinforcing the commitment to strengthening national security and its policy of zero tolerance to terrorism, the Union Home Ministry under the leadership of the Home Minister Shri Amit Shah, today declared the following nine individuals as designated terrorists under the provisions of the UAPA Act 1967 (as amended in 2019) and included their names in the Fourth Schedule of the said Act. Their details are as under:-

1. Wadhawa Singh Babbar: Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization, “BabbarKhalsa International”.

2. Lakhbir Singh: Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization, “International Sikh Youth Federation”.

3. Ranjeet Singh: Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization, “Khalistan Zindabad Force”.

4. Paramjit Singh: Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization “Khalistan Commando Force”.

5. Bhupinder Singh Bhinda: Germany based key member of terrorist organization, “Khalistan Zindabad Force”.

6. Gurmeet Singh Bagga: Germany based key member of terrorist organisation, “Khalistan ZindabadForce”.

7. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun: USA based key member of Unlawful Association, “Sikh for Justice”.

8. Hardeep Singh Nijjar: Canada based Chief of “Khalistan Tiger Force”.

9. Paramjit Singh: United Kingdom based Chief of terrorist organization,“BabbarKhalsa International”.

          These individuals are involved in various acts of terrorism from across the border and from foreign soil. They have been relentless in their nefarious efforts of destabilizing the country, by trying to revive militancy in Punjab through their anti national activities and through their support to and involvement in the Khalistan Movement.

https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1635710

UPSC- CIVIL SERVICES (PRELIMINARY) EXAMINATION, 2020 AND INDIAN FOREST SERVICE EXAMINATION, 2020 will be Conducting on 04.10.2020 (Sunday) all over India

NOTICE FOR THE CANDIDATES TO SUBMIT CHOICE OF CENTER

The Union Public Service Commission will be conducting the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 [including the Indian Forest Service (Preliminary) Examination, 2020] on 04.10.2020 (Sunday) all over India as per the Revised Program of Examinations/RTs published on 05.06.2020.

Keeping in view the large number of candidates of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 [including the Indian Forest Service (Preliminary) Examination, 2020] and requests received from the candidates for changing their Centers, the Commission has decided to give an opportunity to them to submit their revised choice of Centre. Besides above, the option to change the Centers for the Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2020 and the Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination, 2020 is also being made available to the candidates. The requests of the candidates for change in their Centers will be considered against the additional/enhanced capacity intimated by the Centers for accommodating the additional candidates.

The window of submitting the revised choice of Centers by the candidates will be operational in two phases i.e. 7th-13th July, 2020 (06.00 PM) and 20th-24th July, 2020 (06.00 PM) on the Commission’s website https://upsconline.nic.in. The candidates are advised to visit the website and submit their choices of Centers of the above Examination, if required.

            The candidates may please note that their requests for change in the Centers will be considered based on the principle of “first-apply-first allot” basis [which is followed in all the Examinations of the Commission and was mentioned in the Examination Notices of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 and Indian Forest Service Examination, 2020] and once the capacity of a

particular Centre is attained, the same will be frozen. The candidates, who cannot get a Centre of their choice due to ceiling, will be required to choose a Centre from the remaining ones.

All the conditions and eligibility mentioned in the EXAMINATION NOTICE NO. 05/2020-CSP DATE: 12/02/2020 of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 and the EXAMINATION NOTICE NO. 06/2020-IFoS DATE 12/02/2020 of the Indian Forest Service Examination, 2020 will remain unchanged.

In addition to the above, the Commission will also make a Withdrawal Window available to the candidates on the Commission’s website https://upsconline.nic.in during the period from 1st-8th August, 2020. All the terms and conditions of the withdrawal of application will be the same as have been mentioned in the EXAMINATION NOTICE NO. 05/2020-CSP DATE: 12/02/2020 of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and the EXAMINATION NOTICE NO. 06/2020-IFoS DATE 12/02/2020 of the Indian Forest Service Examination, 2020. Candidates must note that once the application has been withdrawn by the candidate, it cannot be revived in future under any circumstances.

The death of Sushant Singh Rajput: Allegations of Nepotism and Locus standi to file criminal complaints

Sushant Singh Rajput

The untimely death of 34-year-old Sushant Singh Rajput, a young Bollywood star who committed suicide recently, has shocked the nation. Millions of people have reacted on social media, sparking several debates about favoritism and nepotism in the film industry.

Sushant’s death has brought to fore many hitherto whispered, underlying issues. Congress Leader Sanjay Nirupam has come out and said that Sushant had lost seven films that he had signed for. Kangana Ranaut, Prakash Raj and several others have also opened up and spoken about the practice of nepotism in the film industry. Is it true then? Do we have groups and camps in tinsel town that are destroying the careers of actors coming from outside the industry? The only way to put all these conspiracy theories to rest is for a detailed inquiry into Sushant’s suicide.

As per law, the State is the master of prosecution. The criminal justice system in India has two broad stages: first is investigation handled by the police agencies leading to prosecution of the accused, and the second is prosecution in the court of law that tries the accused for committing the penal offence. Investigation is initiated on the complaint filed by a victim, and once the FIR is registered, it becomes the case of the State.

In some exceptional cases, the law permits the victim to participate in the criminal proceedings, only by way of assisting the prosecution. Only an aggrieved party (an accused or a victim) has the right to seek redressal by questioning the legality and validity of the proceedings. If the victim is a minor, of unsound mind, or a person suffering from any disability, another person can move the court on their behalf. The cases which are filed by these authorized persons, are considered to be initiated by the aggrieved party and not by a stranger who has no direct personal stake in the outcome of the case.

Now let us look at Sushant’s case. Even before his family could ask for an investigation, a lawyer from Muzaffarpur, Bihar went ahead and filed a criminal case against Salman Khan, Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ekta Kapoor, Aditya Chopra, Bhushan Kumar and others alleging the offences of criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation and abetment to suicide. He has alleged that Sushant was removed from seven films and the release of some of his films was deliberately stalled. It was alleged that the circumstances were manipulated and such a situation was created where he felt cornered and helpless and was forced to take the extreme step of suicide.

Another criminal complaint has been filed before a Magistrate in Muzaffarpur, Bihar against actress Rhea Chakraborty for abetting the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput through “financial and mental exploitation.

An important question that arises here and that needs to be addressed is whether parties who have no connectivity with Sushant’s death whatsoever can file complaints against Bollywood bigwigs for committing an offence of abetment to suicide? The offence, if proven, is punishable under Section 306 IPC with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years.

The filing of cases by unrelated people has become quite rampant in India. People who are strangers to the proceedings file cases alleging commission of a crime. It is a settled principle of law that in criminal prosecutions, only the parties who are affected can invoke penal jurisdiction. It is also fairly settled in law that the third party/stranger does not have any right to participate in the criminal prosecution, which is primarily the function of the State.

The question of locus standi is normally a question of both fact and law. In 1991, the Supreme Court, while hearing the case of Janata Dal v. HS Chowdhary, made significant observations in this regard. The Court held that even if there are a million questions of law to be deeply gone into and examined in a criminal case registered against specified accused persons, it is for them and them alone to raise all such questions and challenge the proceedings initiated against them at the appropriate time before the proper forum and not for a third parties under the garb of public interest litigation.

In the year 1981, in the case of SP Gupta v. Union of India,the Supreme Court held that courts must be careful to see that members of the public who approach the courts in criminal cases are acting with bona fide intentions, and not for personal gain, personal profit, political motivation or any other oblique consideration. It was held that the court must not allow its process to be abused by politicians and others.

The Supreme Court in 1976, in the case of Jasbhai Motibhai Desai v. Roshan Kumar, divided the people who approach the courts into categories like (i) Persons Aggrieved, (ii) Strangers, (iii) Busybodies or Meddlesome Interlopers. The last category can be easily distinguishable from the others. Such persons interfere in things which do not concern them. They masquerade as crusaders for justice and pretend to act in the name of pro bono publico, though they have no interest of the public in mind. They indulge in the pastime of meddling with the judicial process either by force of habit or for improper motives. Very often, they are actuated by a desire to win notoriety or cheap popularity. The Supreme Court has advised that the courts would do well to reject the applications of such busybodies at the very threshold.

There are many instances where a stranger to the proceedings has initiated legal process against individuals, alleging commission of cognizable offences. Time and again, the courts have dismissed their complaints and petitions on the ground of lack of locus standi. However, by the time the courts intervene and pass orders rejecting the claims on the ground of locus standi, a lot of damage is already done. The persons against whom the complaints are filed are forced to appear and submit to the jurisdiction of the Court and only then can they raise a plea of absence of locus standi.

There are dozens of cases filed against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleging defamation, that have been dismissed at the initial stages of trial. However, before challenging the locus standi, he had to appear in court and take bail. The so-called strangers enjoyed the limited attention they got by filing the cases.

In the case of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor’s death, the order granting bail to Dr. Shashi Tharoor was challenged by a lawyer. The locus standi of the lawyer was challenged at the very threshold. The Court dismissed his plea, but did not impose any costs on filing such frivolous petition and wasting the judicial time of the court. In the Nirbhaya case, Dr Subramaniam Swamy filed an application to prosecute the accused persons. He filed a similar plea in the case of death of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor. In both the cases, the courts declined him relief, on the ground that he is a stranger to the proceedings and has no right to interfere in the trial which is conducted by the State prosecution department.

This malpractice of filing frivolous complaints in unconnected matters for one’s own popularity should be dissuaded by the courts. The courts should decide the issue of maintainability on locus standi and jurisdiction at the first instance and impose heavy costs as a deterrent, if the cases are filed mischievously.

A stranger, however, can set criminal law into motion if the offence has taken place in his presence or if he learns about the offence from an aggrieved party. The stranger who witnesses a crime has every right to report the matter and set the ball rolling.

In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput, it is only the family or close friends who can file a complaint disclosing a cognizable offence. The sub-divisional Magistrate who is conducting an inquiry on the cause of death of Sushant can also direct registration of the FIR in case he finds anything suspicious during the course of his inquiry. The family of Sushant is purportedly making requests for a CBI inquiry, which can happen only if the State of Maharashtra gives consent under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. If the FIR is registered, it would become a State (not personal) case.

The allegations of groupism, nepotism and intimidation in Bollywood can only be settled by an independent and fair inquiry, as the allegations levelled are serious and can have wide ramifications. Even the bigwigs whose names are in circulation should facilitate the inquiry to get their names cleared, if they are innocent.

This situation is very dangerous and can change the very complexion of the film industry. This may lead to the yawning chasm between industry ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ expanding to proportions where it may be impossible to cross. It is thus very important that a detailed inquiry be initiated and facilitated.

The author is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India.

Source: Bar & Bench

Delhi Highcourt issues Notice in PIL (Public Interest Litigation) to ensure display of manufacturing country’s name on products being sold on e-commerce websites

The Delhi High Court today issued notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed to ensure that a manufacturing country’s name is displayed on products being sold on e-commerce websites. (Amit Shukla vs UOI & Ors)

The PIL also seeks a direction to ensure that e-commerce entities publish/display the ‘Made in India’ option separately and conspicuously for consumers.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Central government and e-commerce platforms Amazon, Nykaa, Snapdeal etc.

The PIL has been preferred by one Amit Shukla, on the basis that in terms of Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, all e-commerce entities are mandated to publish the name of the country of origin/manufacturer on their platform.

In view of Rules 6 and 10 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, it is compulsory for e-commerce entities to conspicuously mention a product’s country of origin, the petition avers.

However, the same is yet to be enforced qua e-commerce companies, the petitioner stated.

“Most Indians want to buy Indian products now…(one) should know what he is buying from e-commerce websites…”

Petition filed in Delhi High Court

It is further stated that some e-commerce companies are mentioning the country of manufacturing on products, but in a discreet manner which is not easily searchable by the consumers at large.

It was also pointed out that recently, the Central government had notified that all sellers on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) shall also mandatorily enter their country of origin while registering new products for sale on the platform.

“…Because the citizens of the country particularly in view of the tensions in the border and aggression of the neighbour intend not to buy any products originating from the neighbour (Republic of China). It is submitted that the heavy export is the backbone of the Republic of China and in the event, India is self-reliant, the same would strengthen the defence services in-turn boosting the strength of the nation.”

Petition filed in Delhi High Court

The petitioner has thus sought a direction to the Centre to ensure compliance of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 qua e-commerce websites.

The matter will be heard next on July 22.

Gurugram School Murder: Punjab & Haryana High Court Declines to Grant Bail to Accused (School Student)- [Read Order]

Punjab and Haryana Highcourt

Tuesday dismissed the bail plea filed by the school student accused in the 2017 Gurugram private school murder case.

The petitioner, who was a student of Class 11, has been charged with the murder of a seven-year-old child inside the school washroom (Master Bholu v. State of Haryana and Anr.)

The Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Gurugram had earlier declined the grant of bail to the accused. Thereafter, the Appellate Court/Additional Sessions Judge, Gurugram also dismissed the appeal moved challenging the Board’s decision.

The High Court has now dismissed the revision plea challenging these orders. The revision plea was moved on the ground that these orders denying bail were passed while touching upon the merits of the case.

On Wednesday, Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan passed the order, while noting that the accused school student had to be treated as an adult, in line with Supreme Court orders passed on the issue.

The Supreme Court had, in its orders passed in February 2019 and in April this year, stated that the accused was to be “treated as an adult”for the purpose of deciding on bail.

The High Court, therefore, stated there was little scope for it to ascertain whether bail could be granted under Section 12 (grant of bail to a juvenile-accused) of the Juvenile Justice Act.

“Though it is well settled principle of law that an application for bail filed by a person who is above 16 years of age and is alleged to have committed a heinous crime …, pending preliminary assessment by the [Juvenile Justice] Board, can be allowed however, this Court is not inclined to grant any relief to the petitioner, in view of the order dated 28.02.2019 passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, directing that for deciding the bail application, the petitioner be treated as an ‘Adult’, therefore, there is little scope for this Court to find out whether the petitioner can be granted the relief under Section 12 of the Act.

The High Court, in dismissing the plea of the accused for bail, relied upon detailed orders that had been passed by the Supreme Court and the Juvenile Justice Board that is overseeing the investigation in the case.

Senior Advocate Rupinder Khosla appearing for the petitioner “Bholu” (the name the accused has been assigned with by the Supreme Court to conceal identity) argued that the petitioner was living in difficult circumstances in the children’s home he was detained in. It was submitted that he was suffering from ill-health. Grievance over the delay in commencing proceedings against the accused on account of pending appeals was also raised.

The High Court, however, quoted two medical reports in countering the claims of the petitioner’s ill-health. It further clarified that the delay in commencing with the trial could not be a ground for bail.”The delay in disposal of the trial on account of the pendency of bail/revision/SLP before the Higher Courts, wherein status quo has been ordered … cannot be taken as a ground to grant the concession of bail to the petitioner.”Justice Sangwan

Furthermore, the Court noted,

“The prosecution has cited certain witnesses, who are minors including the sister of the deceased and therefore, possibility of tampering the evidence, cannot be ruled out, at this stage in view of the totality of circumstances and the affidavit filed by the CBI.”

In this backdrop, the Court concluded that there was “no ground to grant the concession of bail” to the accused and dismissed the revision plea.

Read Order