The Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and RK Agrawal delivered a judgment on April 10 in a Civil Appeal, seven months after reserving it. The judgment in the case, Mrs Hema Khattar & Anr v  Shiv Khera, was authored by Justice Agrawal, and reserved on September 6 last year. Why did this case take so long to decide?  Let us examine the facts, and the law involved in it. A dispute between two building contractors, who are husband and wife, and the owner of the site was first decided by both a single judge, as well as […]

Last week (April 10-13), Justices RK Agrawal and L Nageswara Rao of the Supreme Court of India recused from three cases each, while Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha, Uday Umesh Lalit, SA Bobde, AK Sikri, and S Abdul Nazeer recused from one each. Here are the details: The first case, Kasturba Health Society v Union of India, was listed before Justices Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre on April 10, when the former withdrew from hearing it. This civil SLP arose out of the Gujarat High Court judgment in the case of Kalyan Janta Sahakari Bank Ltd v State of […]

Recently, Gujarat amended its Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 1954 to prescribe life imprisonment for those found guilty of slaughtering cows, calves, bulls and bullocks. Interestingly, during the Constituent Assembly Debates, Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava cited Mahatma Gandhi, in whose opinion, cow slaughter and manslaughter were two sides of the same coin (CAD November 24, 1948). Indeed, the amendment brought forth by the Gujarat government is a true reflection of Mr. Gandhi’s opinion in letters. In fact, there are many states in India which have banned cow slaughter, either partially or in total, with strict penal consequences attached to it. This […]

It took almost nine months for the Supreme Court bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant, to conclude that Orissa Olympic Association (OOA) had encroached on the state Government’s land, built commercial properties on it, entered into illegal agreements with a firm to manage those properties, and that there is something rotten in the management of its affairs in fiscal aspects. The judgment, authored by Justice Dipak Misra, was delivered on April 3, although it was reserved after the conclusion of the arguments by the counsel, on July 13 last year. The High Court of Orissa had decided […]

In this edition of Recusal Watch, we find that last week, seven judges of the Supreme Court of India recused from ten cases. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justices AM Khanwilkar and L Nageswara Rao recused from two cases each, while Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, DY Chandrachud and Navin Sinha recused from one each. Justice Khehar recused from hearing Pravinsingh Bhurabha Chauhan v. State of Gujarat, listed before the bench headed by him and Justice DY Chandrachud on April 3. This civil SLP, originating from the judgment of Gujarat High Court, was later heard by the bench […]

By Kanika Satyan and Manas Ingle Technology has changed the way human beings lead their day-to-day life. The influence technology has had, especially on the gaming and entertainment sector, whether for the positive or for the negative, has changed the perspective of gaming and entertainment all across the world. From enabling us to play real life games and sports virtually, the innovations in this sector are now enabling us to play virtual games in real life environments. Such developments have been brought about by technological improvements like virtual and augmented reality, which have taken various forms in the recent times. Augmented Reality […]

Justice Anil R Dave was elevated to the Supreme Court of India on April 30, 2010. After serving a tenure of nearly seven years, or 2,394 days to be precise, Justice Dave retired on November 18 of last year. He enrolled as an advocate in 1976 and was Solicitor for the Gujarat government. He was also a part-time Lecturer at Sir LA Shah Law College from 1976 to 1995. Justice Dave made the switch to the bench when he was appointed additional judge of the Gujarat High Court in September 1995. Two years later, he would be made permanent judge. […]

On March 30, Justices Prafulla C Pant and Rohinton Fali Nariman delivered two separate verdicts, disagreeing with each other in a criminal case, within eight days of reserving it. Could they have given a unanimous verdict, if they had spent more time discussing it among themselves, to iron out their differences? Possibly, as they had five more weeks at their disposal, going by the ideal time-frame as suggested by the Supreme Court in the Anil Rai judgment. The case, Ganesh Shamrao Andekar & Anr v State of Maharashtra, a Criminal Appeal (547/2007), will now be listed before a three-Judge bench. […]

Last week, the rate of recusals by Supreme Court judges was lower than that of the prior weeks, but the element of suspense in tracking those cases continues unabated. Justice AM Khanwilkar recused from two cases. The first was on March 29, when he withdrew from hearing the civil SLP [10215-10217/2016] ITC Limited v Blue Coast Hotels Ltd. & Ors, which was listed before Justice Dipak Misra and himself. The recusal order stated, “The Registry is directed to list these matters immediately as there is urgency as submitted by Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, learned Attorney General for India appearing for IFCI Ltd.” […]

By Vaneesa Agrawal The SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (“PIT Regulations”) have led to a lot of confusion in the market. SEBI has released yet another Informal Guidance made public today, which is bound to have far reaching consequences as far as interpretation of the PIT Regulation is concerned. The facts and queries of the Applicant Prabhudas Liladher Pvt. Ltd. can be seen here. This short post is limited to two important legal issues. Applicability of Code of Conduct The first issue that is important to be highlighted is about applicability of the Code of Conduct under the PIT Regulations. Clause […]

By Shashank Prabhakar The Finance Act, 2017 which has been passed by both the houses of Parliament and which was assented to by the President of India on April 3, 2017, has amended certain provisions of the SEBI Act, 1992 (“SEBI Act”) and the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (“SCRA”). Here we are only concerned with the amendments carried out to Section 15J and Section 23J of the SEBI Act and the SCRA, respectively. The interpretation of Section 15J of the SEBI Act was a substantial question of law in two recent Supreme Court cases, namely, SEBI v. Roofit Industries […]

The Finance Bill, 2017 surprisingly contained provisions for merging eight Tribunals into other existing Tribunals. For example, the Competition Appellate Tribunal will now be merged into the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal [NCLAT]. Consequently, appeals from orders passed by the Competition Commission of India will now be heard by the NCLAT. While the taking over of the functions of the Railway Rates Tribunal by the Railway Claims Tribunal or the taking over of the Copyright Board is understandable, the merger of COMPAT with the NCLAT  is not a step in the right direction. The principles governing competition law are completely […]

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy recently came up with a report, which comprehensively studies the reasons behind inefficiencies and judicial delays in the Delhi High Court. The  report also provides recommendations for the improvement of the judicial process and reduction of delays. The report states that systemic problems are likely to be further exaggerated in the Delhi High Court, as it also has original jurisdiction in certain types of cases. It also makes a reference to Daksh’s State of the Indian Judiciary report, which  noted that the number of days between hearings was longest in the Delhi High Court among all high […]

Last week, the Supreme Court delivered judgments in four cases long after reserving them, violating its own rule set in the Anil Rai case. The first to attract our notice was, of course, the one which was delivered two years after it was reserved. Justices RK Agrawal and Adarsh Kumar Goel, on March 21, delivered the judgment in a criminal appeal [2285/2011], in which hearing was concluded on March 10, 2015. Justice Agrawal authored the judgment. The case, K Sitaram & Anr. v. CFL Capital Financial Service Ltd. & Anr, arose out of a Bombay High Court judgment, which had […]

by Somasekhar Sundaresan Social media is abuzz with chatter (some expressing anger, some others, shock) about whether journalists must at all be subjected to a dress code when covering court proceedings. The Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court is reported to have wondered aloud at the dress sense of a particular journalist if there is any applicable dress code. Journalists are reported to have walked out in indignation. I am unaware of what exactly the journalist in question was wearing (reportedly jeans and t-shirt) or about what exactly was said (reportedly something about “Bombay culture”). I do know (taking […]

Our investigation into the recusal of Supreme Court judges continues, as in many cases which have come to light, we are left with no option but to speculate. Justice L Nageswara Rao recused from three cases last week. Of these, one is a service matter, dealing with regularization of ad hoc employees etc. The case, Yogesh Mahajan v RC Deka, Director, AIIMS, was listed before the bench of Justice SA Bobde and himself on March 21, when he recused. A civil SLP (22475/2012) arising out of a Delhi High Court case, it is possible that Justice Rao appeared as counsel […]

The Executive v. Judiciary debate has once again re-ignited, thanks to the recent developments concerning Aadhaar. While the recent notifications by the Central Government making Aadhaar mandatory for Income Tax filing, mobile connections etc. seem to be in clear violation of the orders of the Supreme Court, they are not isolated examples. On one hand, the leaders of the government have been vocal about democracy’s triumph, but on the other hand, their government has failed to respect the orders of the apex court. Below are four important cases in the recent past in which the Centre has openly defied the dictate of the […]

Recusals might have gotten a bad rap in recent times, but the fact of the matter is that recusals are one of the methods to ensure an impartial dispensation of justice. And despite the fact that recusals do cause delay in a system striving to reduce pendency, there certainly is merit in judges recusing from hearing matters that they might have a stake in. Having said that, problem does arise when judges do not mention the reason for recusal. Reasons may be given orally, but almost never in writing. As a result, litigants and lawyers alike are often kept guessing […]

The recent push by the central government in making Aadhaar mandatory for several government schemes has met with widespread criticism from various sections of the society, including activists, lawyers, policy professionals and journalists. Just yesterday, amendments were introduced in the Finance Bill, 2017 to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing of income-tax returns as well for obtaining and retaining the permanent account number (PAN). And now, with the Bill being passed in its entirety in the Lok Sabha, the Centre’s intentions to make Aadhaar compulsory across the board – despite a Supreme Court order to the contrary – are fairly clear. The […]

By Ankit Sinha and Harshit Dusad The world has witnessed recurrent instances of cyber attacks in the recent past. These cyber attacks have raised eyebrows on the reliability of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (“SWIFT”) messaging network, as most of the cyber attacks occasioned from the infiltration of SWIFT by hackers. Although steps for improving cyber resilience have been taken by jurisdictions across the world, in wake of continuous technological advancement, the cases of cyber attacks are on the rise. Given this, there is an urgent need to evolve a mechanism which can be practically implemented in case of […]

After the death of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Dr. J Jayalalithaa, there were rival claims as to who her successor would be. After a brief stint, O Panneerselvam (OPS) resigned as Chief Minister and the stage was set for Sasikala to take over. OPS, after a spell of meditation at the grave of Jayalalithaa, made a sensational revelation of how he was forced to resign and become a rival to Sasikala. Meanwhile, 120 MLAs had been herded like cattle to a beach resort on the outskirts of Chennai. These MLAs were inaccessible and it is popularly believed that they […]

Our investigation on the recusal of cases in the Supreme Court shows that the judges who do so are extremely mindful of any remote association which they might have had with one of the litigants in a case before them, in the capacity of a judge or a counsel. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar recused from hearing civil SLP (7202/2017), filed by University Grants Commission against Punjab University, arising out of a judgment delivered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in January this year. The CJI was sitting with Justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, before whom it […]

by Dr. Amit George When the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 was enacted, it set out to radically redefine the arbitration regime in India when compared to the archaic and outdated provisions of the Act it replaced, i.e. the Arbitration Act, 1940. However, while the 1996 Act was successful in alleviating a variety of the short-comings of the 1940 Act, there were certain areas where this success was elusive. One of these critical areas was the independence and impartiality provision concerning arbitrators enshrined in Section 12 of the 1996 Act. While Section 12 did establish a normative requirement for the […]

by Shashank Prabhakar SEBI has issued yet another circular on March 10, 2017, for regulating schemes of arrangement by listed entities. This is the fourth circular on this subject that has been issued by SEBI in as many years. First, there was the circular dated February 4, 2013, which was substantially revised by another circular that was issued in quick succession on May 21, 2013. Then there was the circular dated November 30, 2015 (“Erstwhile Circular”) which was issued after the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 came into effect on November 15, 2015. To be fair, the […]

Our quest to understand why judges of the Supreme Court recuse from cases continues. As expected, we succeed in unravelling some, and leave the rest to the speculation of the readers. As in the previous edition of Recusal Watch, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul continues to top the list in this edition too. He recused from five cases out of the fourteen recusals tracked by us in Supreme Court last week. Here are the details: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul Centre for Public Interest Litigation v Union of India (CA 10660/2010) A Civil Appeal of 2010, it pertains to the monitoring of […]

by Sumit Agrawal The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) was established on October 1, 2016 in accordance with the provisions of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. Within a short span of five months of its establishment, Dr. M S Sahoo, Chairman of IBBI has issued first regulatory order last week. The order has been issued in an application under regulation 6 of IBBI (Insolvency Professionals) Regulations, 2016 (“the Regulations”) for registration as an Insolvency Professional (IP), filed by an Assistant Vice President of Ernst and Young, a chartered accountant firm. In terms of the Regulations, an individual […]

Last week, the Karnataka High Court reserved its judgment in a batch of petitions challenging a 2014 amendment to the laws governing health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products. A Bench of Justices BS Patil and BV Nagarathna will decide the fate of more than fifty petitions filed by individuals and organisations from across the country. In this edition of #Debriefed, we go into the details of the challenge. What is the challenge against? In October 2014, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sought to amend the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008. The major […]

by Satvik Varma The Supreme Court of India has witnessed two unprecedented events in quick succession. Both relate to the contempt of Court and both concern Judges. In the first, a notice of contempt was issued to a former Judge of the Supreme Court for criticising a judgment of the Court. While issuing notice, the Court noted that in his criticism, Justice Markandey Katju (Retd.) had personally attacked the Judges. Justice Katju was asked to appear before Court. He eventually tendered an unconditional apology. Consequently, contempt proceedings were dropped. In the second, the Chief Justice of India took Suo-Motu action against Justice […]

While courts in India have consistently been venturing towards becoming more progressive, there have been a few instances where they have clung to ghosts of patriarchy past. This often reflects though their judgments, some of which might be extremely difficult to place in the present day. Many a time, the courts have failed to take a victim-centric approach in cases relating to women. And in some of these cases, though the courts have delivered legally sound decisions, they have ended up making comments on women which, well, could have been avoided, to say the least. This Women’s Day, we look […]

by Arvind Datar A decade ago, in State v Abdool Rachid Khoyratty  (2006) UKPC 13, an appeal from Mauritius, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council delivered an important judgment that underlined the importance of the doctrine of separation of powers. An attempt to take away the powers of the court to grant bail was questioned on the ground that such legislation would violate the principles of separation of powers. In 1986, the Parliament of Mauritius passed a law prohibiting the grant of bail in drug related offences. In Noordally v Attorney General (1986) MR 204, the Supreme Court of Mauritius […]