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Uttar Pradesh promulgates anti-conversion (love-jihad) law.

A marriage in Uttar Pradesh will be declared “null and void” if the conversion of a woman is solely for that purpose. Those wishing to change their religion after marriage have to apply to the district magistrate at least 60 days prior to conversion. The Priest/Moulana performing the conversion without this notice shall also be liable to imprisonment.

U.P. Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance:

Thus the Uttar Pradesh became the first state to bring an anti-love jihad law after Governor Anandiben Patel promulgated the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020. The law prohibits forcible or “dishonest” religious conversions and is applicable from today (28th November 2020) in Uttar Pradesh to check ‘love jihad‘.

For conversions of minors and women of SC/ST community, there will be a jail term of three to 10 years with a Rs 25,000 penalty. In case of mass conversion, offenders can be penalised with a jail term of 3-10 years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.

Read full Ordinance here:

Duty of Public Authority to act fairly.

Duty of Public Authority under article 14 f Constitution:

It is clear from the Board‟s conduct that it never responded to the letters written by Asiatic Steel; at least, no reply has been placed on record. Even Asiatic Steel‟s request for permission to carry-out the necessary clearance work at the cost of the board, was not responded to-either positively or negatively. Further, whenever any bidder approached the court complaining that the plot allotted was unusable, the Board decided, mostly contemporaneously, to refund the amount, even with interest. In the case of Asiatic Steel, however, when the demand was made for refund on 19.05.1998, the Board did not act,forcing the company to approach the court, firstly through a civil suit which was later withdrawn, and then in a writ petition.

Silence of public authority:

In the opinion of this court, the Board‟s complete silence in responding to Asiatic Steel’s demand for refund, coupled with the absence of any material placed on record by it suggesting that the complaints had no substance leaves it vulnerable to the charge of complete arbitrariness. The Board‟s conductor indifference in regard to the refund sought (in respect of which there was no meaningful argument on its part before the High Court) can be only on the premise that it wished the parties to approach the court, till a decision could be taken to refund the amounts received by it.

In this court‟s considered view, the Board’s action is entirely unacceptable. As a public body charged to uphold the rule of law, its conduct had to be fair and not arbitrary. If it had any meaningful justification for withholding the amount received from Asiatic Steel, such justification has not been highlighted ever. On the other hand, its conduct reveals that it wished that the parties should approach the court, before it took a decision. This behavior of deliberate inaction to force a citizen or a commercial concern to approach the court, rather than take a decision, justified on the anvil of reason (in the present case, a decision to refund) means that the Board acted in a discriminatory manner.

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Criticizing Government is illegal in State of Kerala

Free Speech???

Kerala Government has issued an ordinance amending the Police Act whereby any act of threatening, abusing, humiliating or defaming any person is made punishable. However there is no specific definition of these words chosen from moral vocabulary. Therefore the concerned police officer will be free to define these words and make arrests as per his or her whim and fancy.

Full Text of Ordinance

ORDINANCE No. 79 OF 2020

THE KERALA POLICE (AMENDMENT) ORDINANCE, 2020

Promulgated by the Governor of Kerala in the Seventy-first Year of the Republic of India.

AN
ORDINANCE
further to amend the Kerala Police Act. 2011.

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Challenge to Order Framing of Charge in Writ Jurisdiction

Whether an order on charge would be an interlocutory order for the purposes of Section 19(3)(c) PCA:

If contrary to the above law, at the stage of charge, the High Court adopts the approach of weighing probabilities and re-appreciate the material, it may be certainly a time consuming exercise. The legislative policy of expeditious final disposal of the trial is thus, hampered. Thus, even while reiterating the view that there is no bar to jurisdiction of the High Court to consider a challenge against an order of framing charge in exceptional situation for correcting a patent error of lack of jurisdiction, exercise of such jurisdiction has to be limited to rarest of rare cases.

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Contempt of court

The right to approach Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is itself a fundamental right.

Assistant Secretary, Maharashtra Vidhan Mandal Sachivalaya issued this letter to Arnab Goswami, Editor of Republic TV, as follows :

“You were informed that the proceedings of the House are confidential………….despite this, it has been observed that you have presented the proceedings of the House before the Supreme Court on October 8, 2020. No prior permission was taken from the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly before presenting such proceedings in court. You have knowingly breached the orders of the Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly and your actions amount to breach of confidentiality. This is definitely a serious matter and amounts to contempt,…….”

Article 32(1) of the Constitution of India reads as under :

“32(1). The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.”

There is no doubt that if a citizen of India is deterred in any case from approaching Supreme Court in exercise of his right under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, it would amount to a serious and direct interference in the administration of justice in the country.

Show Cause for contempt:

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Police Summoning a person from New Delhi to Kolkata on a facebook post.

Facebook post implying State bias towards a community:

The FIR contains a statement that the posts imply that:

(i) the State administration was going soft on the violation of the lock down at Rajabazar as the area is predominantly inhibited by a particular community and;

(ii) that the State administration is complacent while dealing with lock down violations caused by a certain segment of the community.

Reasonable Exercise of power of summoning:

The court must safeguard the fundamental right to the freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. There is a need to ensure that the power under section 41A is not used to intimidate, threaten and harass.

Full Order of Supreme Court:

SLP(Crl) 4937/2020
1
ITEM NO.20 Court 6 (Video Conferencing) SECTION II-B
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No.4937/2020
(Arising out of impugned final judgment and order dated 29-09-2020
in CRAN No. 2/2020 passed by the High Court at Calcutta)
ROSHNI BISWAS Petitioner(s)
VERSUS
STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ANR. Respondent(s)

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Scope of Right to Protest in India

Shaheen Bagh Agitation was not warranted:

India, as we know it today, traces its foundation back to when the seeds of protest during our freedom struggle were sown deep, to eventually flower into a democracy. What must be kept in mind, however, is that the erstwhile mode and manner of dissent against colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a self-ruled democracy.

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CBI to investigate death of Sushant Singh Rajput.

Jurisdiction of Bihar Police:

Having regard to the law enunciated by this Court as noted above,it must be held that the Patna police committed no illegality in registering the Complaint. Looking at the nature of the allegations in the Complaint which also relate to misappropriation and breach of trust, the exercise of jurisdiction by the Bihar Police appears to be in order. At the stage of investigation,they were not required to transfer the FIR to Mumbai police.For the same reason, the Bihar government was competent to give consent for entrustment of investigation to the CBI and as such the ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful.

CBI investigation of murder:

While the steps taken by the Mumbai police in the limited inquiry under Section 174 CrPC may not be faulted on the material available before this Court,considering the apprehension voiced by the stakeholders of unfair investigation, this Court must strive to ensure that search for the truth is undertaken by an independent agency, not controlled by either of the two state governments. Most importantly, the credibility of the investigation and the investigating authority, must be protected.

The ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful.In the event a new case is registered at Mumbai on the same issue, in the fitness of things, it would be appropriate if the latter case too gets investigated by the same agency, on the strength of this Court’s order. Such enabling order will make it possible for the CBI to investigate the new case,avoiding the rigors of Section 6 of the DSPE Act,requiring consent from the State of Maharashtra.

Directions for murder:

Because both states are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud. Accusing fingers are being pointed and people have taken the liberty to put out their own conjectures and theories. Such comments,responsible or otherwise, have led to speculative public discourse which have hogged media limelight. These developments unfortunately have the propensity to delay and misdirect the investigation. In such situation,there is reasonable apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim.

The actor Sushant Singh Rajput was a talented actor in the Mumbai film world and died well before his full potential could be realised. His family, friends and admirers are keenly waiting the outcome of the investigation so that all the speculations floating around can be put to rest. Therefore a fair, competent and impartial investigation is the need of the hour. The expected outcome then would be, a measure of justice for the Complainant, who lost his only son. For the petitioner too, it will be the desired justice as she herself called for a CBI investigation. The dissemination of the real facts through unbiased investigation would certainly result in justice for the innocents, who might be the target of vilification campaign. Equally importantly, when integrity and credibility of the investigation is discernible, the trust, faith and confidence of the common man in the judicial process will resonate. When truth meets sunshine, justice will not prevail on the living alone but after Life’s fitful fever, now the departed will also sleep well.

Satyameva Jayate.

In such backdrop, to ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter, this Court considers it appropriate to invoke the powers conferred by Article 142 of the Constitution. As a Court exercising lawful jurisdiction for the assigned roster, no impediment is seen for exercise of plenary power in the present matter. Therefore while according approval for the ongoing CBI investigation, if any other case is registered on the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the surrounding circumstances of his unnatural death, the CBI is directed to investigate the new case as well. It is ordered accordingly.

Transfer petition of Rhea Chakrovarti dismissed.

Read full judgment here:

PM Cares Fund is legal

What is PM Cares Fund?

(Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund)

PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund)  has been constituted as a public charitable trust. After outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, need of having a dedicated national fund with objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a fund was created by constituting a trust with Prime Minister as an ex-officio Chairman of PM CARES Fund, with other ex-officio and nominated Trustees of the Fund. The PM CARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organisations and does not get any Budgetary support. No Government money is credited in the PM CARES Fund.

After outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, need of having a dedicated national fund with objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a fund was created by constituting a trust with Prime Minister as an ex-officio Chairman of PM CARES Fund, with other ex-officio and nominated Trustees of the Fund. The PMCARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organisations and does not get any Budgetary support. No Government money is credited in the PM CARES Fund.

This PM Cares Fund has no connection with PMNRF Fund. PMNRF Fund was not subject to any consideration in this case, as popularity reported in the media. The plea was to transfer the fund to NDRF maintained under DM Act 2005. To know about PMNRF read here.

Conclusion by Supreme Court:

The PM CARES Fund has been constituted in the year 2020 after outbreak of pandemic COVID-19whereas the new guidelines came into force with effect from 2015-16, on which date the PM CARES Fund was not in existence, hence, the submission that new guidelines were amended to benefit the PM CARES Fund is wholly misconceived.

When the Centre is providing financial assistance to the State to take measures to contain COVID-19, as we have noticed above that by order dated 03.04.2020 first instalment of Rs.11,092/- crores which is the Central Share to the SDRMF has been given and there is nothing on record that any State has exceeded the expenditure in excess of the balance in the State’s SDRMF, there is no occasion of asking more fund by the State from NDRF.When the Central Government is providing financial assistance to the States to contain COVID-19 it is not for any PIL petitioner to say that Centre should give amount from this fund or that fund. The financial planning is in the domain of the Central Government, which financial planning is made after due deliberation and consideration. We, thus, do not find any substance in the submission of the petitioner that there is any statutory restriction/prohibition in utilization of NDRF forCOVID-19. More so when sub-section (2) of Section 46 specifically provides that NDRF shall be made available to the National Executive Committee to be applied towards meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Central Government, the NDRF can be used for containment of COVID-19

It is for the Central Government to take the decision as from which fund what financial measures are to be taken and it is neither for PIL petitioner to claim that any financial assistance be made from particular fund nor this Court to sit in judgment over the financial decisions of the Central Government.

The PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust and is not a Government fund. The charitable trusts are public trusts. The mere fact that administration of the Trust is vested in trustees, i.e., a group of people, will not itself take away the public character of the Trust.

The contributions made by individuals and institutions in the PM CARES Fund are to be released for public purpose to fulfill the objective of the trust. The PM CARES Fund is a charitable trust registered under the Registration Act, 1908 at New Delhi on 27.03.2020. The trust does not receive any Budgetary support or any Government money. It is not open for the petitioner to question the wisdom of trustees to create PM CARES fund which was constituted with an objective to extend assistance in the wake of public health emergency that is pandemic COVID-19.

We have noticed above that guidelines which were issued for constitution and administration ofNDRF and State’s SDRMF, the guidelines provided utilization of fund for limited calamities, which didnot include any biological and public healthemergency. We have already noticed Clause 3.1 of guidelines for administration of NDRF, which did not provide for the calamities which cover the biological and public health emergency. Thus, under the guidelines which were in existence with effect from financial year 2015-16 neither NDRF nor SDRF covered the biological and public health emergencies. It was only by notification dated 14.03.2020 that COVID-19was treated as notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under SDRF. Obviously prior to this notification dated 14.03.2020 no contribution by any person or institution in the NDRF could have been made with respect to specified disaster, namely, biological and public health emergency like COVID-19, Outbreak of COVID-19 in India as well as other countries of the World required immediate enhancement in the infrastructure of medical health and creation of fund to contain COVID-19. At this need of the hour no exception can be taken to the constitution of a public charitable trust, namely, PM CARES Fund to have necessary financial resources to meet the emergent situation.

 Prayers (a) to (c) made in the writ petition:
“a.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to prepare, notify and implement a National Plan under Section 11 read with Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;

b.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to lay down minimum standards of relief, under Section 12of the Disaster Management Act, 2005,to be provided to persons affected bythe COVID-19 virus, as well as by the resultant national lockdown;

c.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to utilize NDRF for the purpose of providing assistance in the fight against GOVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Section 46 of the DMAct, all the contributions/grants from individuals and institutions shall be credited to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) rather than to PM CARES Fund and all the fund collected in the PM CARES Fund till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF;”

Rejection of prayers by Supreme Court:

In view of the foregoing discussions, the prayer ‘a’ and ‘b’ made in the writ petition are refused.With respect to prayer ‘c’, we make it clear (i) that there is no statutory prohibition for the Union of India utilizing the NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 in accordance with the guidelines issued for administration of NDRF; (ii)there is no statutory prohibition in making any contribution by any person or institution in the NDRF as per Section 46(1)(b)of the Act, 2005.

Full Judgement

Prashant Bhushan Convicted for Contempt of Court.

Supreme Court convicts Prashant Bhushan:

Offensive tweets of Prashant Bhushan:

Supreme Court today convicted Prashant Bhushan, the perpetual Public interest litigator for contempt of Court. As per the orders of Supreme Court Prashant Bhushan had tweeted as under:

“CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice!”

(29th June 2020 at 11.37AM)

Another tweet was published in the Times of India which was made by Shri Prashant Bhushan on June 27, 2020, when he tweeted,

“When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how 3democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”

Damage Caused by Tweet:

Indian judiciary is not only one of pillars on which the Indian democracy stands but is the central pillar.The Indian Constitutional democracy stands on the bedrock of rule of law. The trust, faith and confidence of 102the citizens of the country in the judicial system is sine qua non for existence of rule of law. An attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy has to be dealt with an iron hand. The tweet has the effect of destabilising the very foundation of this important pillar of the Indian democracy. The tweet clearly tends to give an impression,that the Supreme Court, which is a highest constitutional court in the country, has in the last six years played a vital role in destruction of the Indian democracy. There is no manner of doubt,that the tweet tends to shake the public confidence in the institution of judiciary. We do not want to go into the truthfulness or otherwise of the first part of the tweet,inasmuch as we do not want to convert this proceeding into a platform for political debate. We are only concerned with the damage that is sought to be done to the institution of administration of justice. In our considered view, the said tweet undermines the dignity and authority of the institution of the Supreme Court of India and the CJI and directly affronts the majesty of law.

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