Right of construction workers to live with dignity.

Enforcement of Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (the BOCW Act) and the Building and Other Construction Workers‘ Welfare Cess Act, 1996 (the Cess Act)

Under the Cess Act, more than Rs. 37,400 crores have been collected for the benefit of construction workers, but only about Rs. 9500 crores have been utilized ostensibly for their benefit. What is being done with the remaining about Rs. 28,000 crores? Why is it that construction workers across the country are being denied the benefit of this enormous amount?

Duty to implement laws:

The sanctity of laws enacted by Parliament must be acknowledged – laws are enacted for being adhered to and not for being flouted. The rule of law must be respected and along with it the human rights and dignity of building and construction workers must also be respected and acknowledged, to avoid a complete breakdown of the BOCW Act compounded by serious violations of Part III of the Constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights. Continue reading “Right of construction workers to live with dignity.”

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Right to die with dignity.

Permission for passive Euthanasia

Dignity of an individual has been internationally recognized as an important facet of human rights in the year 1948 itself with the enactment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human dignity not only finds place in the Preamble of this important document but also in Article 1 of the same. It is well known that the principles set out in UDHR are of paramount importance and are given utmost weightage while interpreting human rights all over the world. The first and foremost responsibility fixed upon the State is the protection of human dignity without which any other right would fall apart. Continue reading “Right to die with dignity.”

Powers of Supreme Court under article 136.

Interference with finding of fact:

In exercise of jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, this Court does not normally reappreciate the evidence and findings of fact; but where the findings of the High Court are perverse or the findings are likely to result in excessive hardship, the Supreme Court would not decline to interfere merely on the ground that findings in question are findings of fact. After referring to various judgments on the scope in exercise of power under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, in Mahesh Dattatray Thirthkar v. State of Maharashtra (2009) 11 SCC 141, this Court in para (35) summarized the principles as under:-

“35. From a close examination of the principles laid down by this Court in the aforesaid series of decisions as referred to hereinabove on the question of exercising power to interfere with findings of fact by this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, the following principles, therefore, emerge:

• The powers of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India are very wide.

Continue reading “Powers of Supreme Court under article 136.”

Restrictions on grant of bail under PMLA if valid

Section 45 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act is unconstitutional.

Section 45 of the 2002 Act, which was brought into force in 2005, originally read as follows:

“45. Offences to be cognizable and non- bailable.-

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),-

(a) every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable;

(b) no person accused of an offence punishable for a term of imprisonment of more than three years under Part A of the Schedule shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless-

(i) the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release; and

(ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail:

Provided that a person, who, is under the age of sixteen years, or is a woman or is sick or infirm, may be released on bail, if the Special Court so directs:

Provided further that the Special Court shall not take cognizance of any offence punishable under section 4 except upon a complaint in writing made by- (i) the Director; or (ii) any officer of the Central Government or a State Government authorised in writing in this behalf by the Central Government by a general or special order made in this behalf by that Government.

(2) The limitation on granting of bail specified in clause (b) of sub-section (1) is in addition to the limitations under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or any other law for the time being in force on granting of bail.”

The change made by Section 45 is that, for the purpose of grant of bail, what was now to be looked at was offences that were punishable for a term of imprisonment of three years or more under Part A of the Schedule, and not offences under the 2002 Act itself. At this stage, Part A of the Schedule contained two paragraphs – Para 1 containing Sections 121 and 121A of the Indian Penal Code, which deal with waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the Government of India, and conspiracy to commit such offences. Paragraph 2 dealt with offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Part B of the Schedule, as originally enacted, referred to certain offences of a heinous nature under the Indian Penal Code, which included murder, extortion, kidnapping, forgery and counterfeiting. Paragraphs 2 to 5 of Part B dealt with certain offences under the Arms Act 1959, Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. When the Act was originally enacted, it was, thus, clear that the twin conditions applicable under Section 45(1) would only be in cases involving waging of war against the Government of India and offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Even the most heinous offences under the Indian Penal Code were contained only in Part B, so that if bail were asked for such offences, the twin conditions imposed by Section 45(1) would not apply. Incidentally, one of the reasons for classifying offences in Part A and Part B of the Schedule was that offences specified under Part B would get attracted only if the total value involved in such offences was Rs.30 lakhs or more (under Section 2(y) of the Act as it read then). Thereafter, the Act has been amended several times. The amendment made in 2005 in Section 45(1) was innocuous and is not an amendment with which we are directly concerned. The 2009 Amendment further populated Parts A and B of the Schedule. In Part A, offences under Sections 489 A and B of the Indian Penal Code, relating to counterfeiting were added and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which dealt with terrorist activities, were added. In Part B, several other offences were added from the Indian Penal Code, as were offences under the Explosives Act 1884, Antiquities and Arts Treasures Act 1972, Securities and Exchange Board of India Act 1992, Customs Act 1962, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, Emigration Act 1983, Passports Act 1967, Foreigners Act 1946, Copyright Act 1957, Trademarks Act 1999, Information Technology Act 2000, Biological Diversity Act 2002, Protection of Plant and Farmers Rights Act 2001, Environmental Protection Act 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1981 and Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms of Continental Shelf Act, 2002.

By the Amendment Act of 2012, which is Act 2 of 2013, a very important amendment was made to the Schedule by which the entire Part B offences were transplanted into Part A.

Unreasonable classification

The classification of three years or more of offences contained in Part A of the Schedule must have a reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved under the 2002 Act. Continue reading “Restrictions on grant of bail under PMLA if valid”

Payment of interest in equity in India

Unjust enrichment by withholding the amount can be compensated by award of Interest:

Effect of Interest Act

Interest can be awarded in terms of an agreement or statutory provisions. It can also be awarded by reason of usage or trade having the force of law or on equitable considerations. Interest cannot be awarded by way of damages except in cases where money due is wrongfully withheld and there are equitable grounds therefore, for which a written demand is mandatory.

Clariant International Limited and Another v. Securities and Exchange Board of India, (2004) 8 SCC 524 at 539

When there is no specific provision for grant of interest on any amount due, the court and even tribunals have been held to be entitled to award interest in their discretion, under the provisions of Section 3 of the Interest Act and Section 34 of the Civil Procedure Code. Continue reading “Payment of interest in equity in India”

Role of Judiciary in Democracy

Judicial powers and its scope

Judiciary enjoys neither the legislative nor executive power. Its duty is to preserve Constitution, its mandates and make the people wielding power to act within limits provided by the Constitution and make them directly accountable for their acts to the authorities provided under the hierarchy of Constitution. It is said constitution is just to be common sense of the people and was never designed for trial of logical skills or visionary speculation.

Once the limits are imposed by law or Legislature, consequences are inevitable. The acts can only be done in accordance with the enactment. Judges’ morality or morality of one section may be pernicious. Courts cannot impose their views for the governance of the people who have a right to be governed by law or elective representatives but not by an unelected representatives and unaccountable committee of lawyers applying no will but their own. Continue reading “Role of Judiciary in Democracy”

Custodial Violence and Death of Prisoners in India

 If civilization is not to perish in this country as it has perished in some others too well known to suffer mention, it is necessary to educate ourselves into accepting that, respect for the rights of individuals is the true bastion of democracy.
[Source: Rudul Sah v. State of Bihar,(1983) 4 SCC 141.]

Custodial Violence

Custodial violence has always been a matter of great concern for all civilized societies. Custodial violence could take the form of third degree methods to extract information – the method used need not result in any physical violence but could be in the form of psychological violence. Custodial violence could also include a violation of bodily integrity through sexual violence – it could be to satisfy the lust of a person in authority or for some other reason. The ‘Mathura Rape Case’ is one such incident that most are familiar with. Custodial violence could, sometimes, lead to the death of its victim who is in a terribly disadvantaged and vulnerable condition. All these forms of custodial violence make it abhorrent and invite disparagement from all sections of civilized society.

The recent directives of Supreme Court, in regard to prison conditions:

Continue reading “Custodial Violence and Death of Prisoners in India”

Triple talaq is sinful and no more lawful in India

Supreme Court: Triple talaq is manifestly arbitrary.

(An abstract of the decision of Supreme Court dated 22 August 2017)

Types of Talaq in Muslim Law

‘Talaq-e-hasan’ is pronounced in the same manner, as ‘talaq-e-ahsan’. Herein, in place of a single pronouncement, there are three successive pronouncements. After the first pronouncement of divorce, if there is resumption of cohabitation within a period of one month, the pronouncement of divorce is treated as having been revoked.
The same procedure is mandated to be followed, after the expiry of the first month (during which marital ties have not been resumed). ‘Talaq’ is pronounced again. After the second pronouncement of ‘talaq’, if there is resumption of
cohabitation within a period of one month, the pronouncement of divorce is treated as having been revoked. It is significant to note, that the first and the second pronouncements may be revoked by the husband. If he does so,
either expressly or by resuming conjugal relations, ‘talaq’ pronounced by the husband becomes ineffective, as if no ‘talaq’ had ever been expressed. If the third ‘talaq’ is pronounced, it becomes irrevocable.
Therefore, if no revocation is made after the first and the second declaration, and the husband makes the third pronouncement, in the third ‘tuhr’ (period of purity), as soon as the third declaration is made, the ‘talaq’ becomes
irrevocable, and the marriage stands dissolved, whereafter, the wife has to observe the required ‘iddat’ (the period after divorce, during which a woman cannot remarry. Continue reading “Triple talaq is sinful and no more lawful in India”

Fundamental Right to Privacy: Does it exist?

Right to privacy debate

Whether citizens of India have a fundamental right of privacy?

The controversy about right to privacy has been argued in a larger constitution bench of nine judges and judgement has been reserved. But what exactly is the controversy?

The fourth Amendment in the Constitution of USA provide following clause:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Constitution of India has no such clause but in some of the cases the right to privacy has been read into the right to life because the life means a meaningful life and not merely an animal existence. Thus to make life more than animal existence, privacy is held to be part of right to life guaranteed by article 21 o Constitution of India, which is as under:

No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Continue reading “Fundamental Right to Privacy: Does it exist?”

Exercise of jurisdiction of judicial superintendence

Jurisdiction of High Court under article 227.

Article 227 is as under:

227. Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court
(1) Every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories interrelation to which it exercises jurisdiction
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the High Court may
(a) call for returns from such courts;
(b) make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts; and
(c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers of any such courts; Continue reading “Exercise of jurisdiction of judicial superintendence”