- Muzaffarpur Shelter Home case transferred to Delhi – The Supreme Court has shifted the case concerning sexual assaults in the Muzaffarpur Shelter Homes from a Bihar CBI court to POCSO court in Saket, criticising its conduct and the overall management of shelter homes by the State Government. The Saket court has been ordered to complete the trial within 6 months. The CBI has also been asked to file an affidavit explaining why the officer investigating the case was transferred. The Court also threatened to order the presence of the Chief Secretary if all information was not provided. [Nivedita Jha v State of Bihar, Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No. 24978 of 2018, date of order: 07.02.2019]
- Court to examine whether Governor’s Office amenable to RTI – The Supreme Court would be looking into whether the office of the Governor of a state can be covered within the ambit of the RTI Act. The issue arose because the Chief Commissioner of Goa asked the Office of the Governor of Goa to furnish some information and the Office appealed against the order to the Bombay High Court. The case has been transferred unto itself by the Supreme Court on the basis of a petition filed by the Governor’s office since a petition on the issue was already pending in the Supreme Court. The original petition has been pending in the court for the past 10 years and so the Court has decided to deal with the issue expeditiously and transferred the case to itself. [Secretary to Governor, Goa Raj Bhavan v Chief Information Commissioner, Transfer Petition No. 151 of 2019, date of order: 04.02.2019]
- Petitions against EWS quota to be heard early – The Supreme Court has agreed to give an early hearing to all the petitions challenging the amendment introducing quota for economically backward sections. The court passed the order while issuing a notice on a new petition filed by Tehseen Poonawalla. The Court again refused to stay the amendment in the interim. The petitions challenge the amendment on the grounds that it crosses the 50% quota for reservations that was imposed by the Indira Sawhney judgment and that it is based solely on economic backwardness and does not take into account social backwardness of the class involved. [Tehseen Poonawalla v Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No.122/2019, date of order: 08.02.2019]
- NCLT cannot look into the justness of rejection of a resolution plan – The Supreme Court rejected an appeal against a NCLAT decision, which held that the 75% requirement for the approval of a resolution plan (now 66%) is mandatory. It observed that the NCLT cannot go into the justness of rejection of the plan by the minority shareholders. The legislative intent, according to the judgment was to recognise the dissent by the 25% (or 44%) of the creditors. The Code only provides for circumstances in which plans approved by the Committee can be tampered with. The fact that the threshold for approval was revised from 75 to 66 does not mean that the decisions taken prior to the amendment will also be revised i.e. the amendment would only apply to decisions of the CoC prospectively. [K. Sashidhar v Indian Overseas Bank, Civil Appeal No. 10673 of 2018, date of judgment: 05.02.2019]
- FIRs against Republic TV and Arnab on complaint filed by Tharoor – A Delhi court has ordered the registration of FIRs against Republic TV and its editor in chief Arnab Goswami, on the basis of a complaint made by Shashi Tharoor alleging that Goswami stole confidential documents pertaining to the investigation into the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar and hacked into his e-mail account, all in the name of increasing viewership. According to a status report on the issue given by the police, a vigilance inquiry was being conducted into the matter, since the documents accessed by Republic TV were not in the public domain. Tharoor supported his claims with RTI responses, which showed that the documents were the part of the confidential record and could only be accessed by the investigation team. In the light of this, the Metropolitan Magistrate ordered registration of an FIR against the channel.[Dr. Shashi Tharoor v Arnab Goswami, Complaint Case No. 7485 of 2018, date of order: 21.01.2019]
- Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand get anticipatory bail–The Gujarat High Court has granted anticipatory bail to activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand in the embezzlement scam relating to their NGO Sabrang Trust. The couple though has been asked to ensure cooperation in the investigation. The complaint had been lodged by former employee of the Trust, Raees Khan Pathan who claims that the couple and certain unidentified officials of the MHRD who embezzled close to 1.4Cr between 2010 to 2013, through the NGO. The funds were allegedly used for the personal and political uses.[Javed Anand v State of Gujarat, Criminal Miscellaneous Application No. 10200 of 2018, date of order: 08.02.2019]
- Court hears arguments against the Maratha reservation–The Bombay High Court has been hearing petitions against 16% reservation for the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions. The petitioners argued that the reservation was against Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, caste, creed etc. Marathas, they further argued, could not be called backward in order to be provided reservation. The legislation giving the reservations has been criticised for providing exclusive reservation to Marathas as a separate class. The arguments are to continue.