- Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea to link social media with Aadhaar – On 14 October 2019, Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea for mandatorily linking social media accounts with Aadhar. The bench granted the petitioner liberty to approach the High Court, noting that the Madras High Court is already seized of this matter. The plea had also sought for the deactivation of all fake and ghost social media accounts, which is used by political parties and candidates for self-promotion and electioneering activities, even during the 48 hours before the conclusion of polling. The Representation of People Act, 1951 prohibits electioneering activities for 48 hours up to the conclusion of polling. While hearing the petitions, the High Court had expanded the scope to consider the issue of online abuse and fake news circulated through social media. It also defined liabilities of the intermediaries in such cases.
- Supreme Court to examine if High Court can transfer investigation into sexual harassment complaint to another state – TheSupreme Court issued notice in a special leave petition against an order of the Madras High Court in a sexual harassment complaint. In a writ petition filed, the High Court had observed the investigation into the complaint to be undertaken in another neighbouring state, to ensure a fair, independent and unbiased investigation. The transfer had been opposed to given lack of legal basis of transfer. The court had directed all proceedings of enquiry into the complaint and investigation into the FIR filed shall stand transferred to Hyderabad, Telangana. (Dr. S. Murugan v. H. Jayalakshmi and ors. [SLP (C) Nos. 22364-22367/2019] with SLP (C) Nos. 22718-22721/2019, date of order: 23.09.2019)
- Supreme Court has ordered status quo on cutting of trees for Mumbai Metro car shed in Aarey – The Supreme Court ordered status quo on cutting of trees in the Aarey colony of the Mumbai suburbs till further orders. The counsel for the Maharashtra state government undertook that the legality of trees which had already been cut could be decided by the environment bench of the Court. The Court has also directed the release of all environment activists detained in the protests against the tree felling. The Court heard the matter after a group of law students wrote to the Chief Justice seeking the apex court’s urgent intervention to stop the cutting of trees in Aarey colony. The Supreme Court gave its order a day after the Bombay High Court rejected an application moved by environmentalists seeking a stay on the cutting of trees. (Re: Felling of trees in Aarey forest (Maharashtra) [Suo Moto W.P. (Civil) No. 2/2019], date of order: 07.10.2019)
- The IBS has overriding effect over Tea Act and had the consent of the central government is not required for initiating insolvency proceedings – The Supreme Court has held that the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code have an overriding effect over the Tea Act, 1953 and that even without the consent of the central government insolvency proceedings can be initiated under the Code by the operational creditor. A corporate debtor, which own and manages tea gardens, had opposed the initiation of proceedings under the Code by the operational creditor, arguing that once the management of the tea unit has been taken over by the central government the proceedings for winding up or appointment of receiver cannot be initiated without the central government’s consent. (Duncans Industries Ltd. v. A. J. Agrochem [Civil Appeal No. 5120/2019], date of order: 4 October 2019)
- Journalists have no special privilege to make allegations ruining reputation of citizens – The Bombay High Court has observed that journalists do not enjoy any special privilege or greater freedom than others to make imputations or allegations, sufficient to ruin reputation of a citizen.The observation was made while dismissing a petition filed by journalists seeking to quash a defamation case in respect of a news item published by them. The Court observed that publication of such item which has potential of putting the complainant to disrepute and to lower him in the esteem of others is prima facie defamation as defined in the Indian Penal Code. The case was quahed only against the Chairman and the Chief Editor was they did not have a direct roleand responsibility in publication. (Vijay Jawaharlalji Darda and ors. v. the State of Maharashtra and anr. [Criminal Application No. 2032/2009], date of order: 04.10.2019)
- Married couple cannot be deprived from seeking protection merely because marriage is void or invalid – The Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that a married couple cannot be deprived of the fundamental right of seeking protection of life and liberty, even in cases of invalid or void marriage or absence of any marriage. The observation came in a case in which a ‘runaway’ couple had got married and had approached the High Court to seek police protection. The boy was, however, not of marriageable age. The court observed that the mere fact that the boy is not of marriageable age would not deprive the couple of their fundamental right as envisaged in the Constitution, being citizens of India. (Navpreet Kaur and anr. v. State of Punjab and ors. [CWP No. 29048/2019 (O&M)], date of order: 04.10.2019)
- Delhi High Court has reserved order in Malvinder Singh’s plea challenging parallel investigation by Economic Offences Wing – The Delhi High Court has reserved its order on issuance of notice to Economic Offences Wing and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) in an application filed by former Fortis promoter Malvinder Mohan Singh seeking quashing of FIR lodged by the Economic Offences Wing. Malvinder Singh had filed a criminal writ petition on the ground that when an investigation on offences under the Companies Act is already being conducted by the SFIO, there cannot be a parallel investigation carried out by Economic Offences Wing on the same transactions and against the same companies.
- Punjab and Haryana High Court directs states to decide on inking of Aadhaar cards with property documents/transactions – The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh to decide on the linking of Aadhar with property documents/transactions within a month. The petitioner had prayed to the government regarding this various times. In their representations the petitioner had stated that the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 which was passed with the aim of rooting out corruption, sources of black money, and benami transactions have failed its purpose. Thus, linking Aadhar with property transactions would help in achieving this objective by identifying benami transctions. Tax authorities would also get details about legal owners immediately. (Nikhil Saraf v. Union of India and ors. [Civil WP-PIL No, 190/2019 (O&M)], date of order: 01.10.2019)