- Provision on restitution of conjugal rights provisions under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 challenged in Supreme Court – The Supreme Court referred a petition challenging the provisions in the Hindu Marriage Act, parallel provisions in the Special Marriage Act, and the relevant provisions in the Code of Civil Procedure dealing with restitution of conjugal rights, when one of the spouses, without any reasonable excuse has left the other person, to a bench of three judges. The petition challenges the provisions on the ground that they violate the sexual and decisional autonomy of the petitioner since the court was forcing her into the relationship. This would be in violation of her Article 21 right to life, liberty and privacy. [Ojaswa Pathak v Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No.250 of 2019, date of order: 05.03.2019]
- AG clarifies his submissions in Rafale hearings – The Attorney General, KK Venugopal, clarified his use of the word ‘stolen’ during the Rafale hearings when referring to the documents on which the newspaper, The Hindu, had relied for its report on the Rafale deal. The AG had taken an objection to the reliance on those reports as was placed by Prashant Bhushan claiming that the documents had been stolen by the officials from the Ministry and a prosecution would soon be launched under the Official Secrets Act. Now the AG has claimed that his words were twisted and all he meant to say was that photocopies of documents marked secret by the government were leaked to the Hindu rather than an actual physical theft of the documents. The government had come under fire from the opposition for the apparent theft of such sensitive material from the Ministry.
- Ordinance ending subject-wise reservation for teachers in colleges challenged – A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the ordinance promulgated on March 7, 2019, which declared that each college and university would be treated as a single unit for the purposes of reservation in teaching posts in the institutions. The Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court had recently held that reservations could not be bundled in this manner as this may lead to one department having only reserved candidates while others may have only unreserved candidates.
- Liberal approach to be adopted in divorce by mutual consent – The Kerala High Court, in line with an earlier Supreme Court decision, observed that courts, while deciding a petition for divorce by mutual consent, should be liberal in their approach and waive off the cooling/waiting period if the court deems it fit. If the court is convinced that the martial ties have broken down completely and there was no chance of reconciliation, then the requirement should not be insisted upon. The court also noted that the sanctity that is ascribed to marital relations would hold true only in situations where the marital relation was cordial. The persons in the relationship are allowed the choice to lead their life as they please and in situations where the relationship has irretrievably broken down, the legal dissolution of marriage should be undertaken with utmost urgency. [Vinu Jacob v Nil, Original Petition (Family Court).No. 138 of 2019, date of order: 01.03.2019]
- Amendment to Mobile Number Portability Regulations quashed – The Delhi High Court quashed the amendment made by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to Mobile Number Portability Per Port Transaction Charge and Dipping Charge Regulations. The amendment changed the original entitlement of Mobile Number Portability Service providers of ₹19 per request processed by them to ₹4 per successful request processed by them i.e. when the customer successfully changed their telecom service provider. The MNP providers argued that TRAI had not consulted them during the amendment process, even though they were adversely affected by the change. The amount was changed from 19 to 4 arbitrarily, the court noted. Further, limiting the amount only to when a successful change happens could also not be upheld as the MNP service provider would still have used their resources, even if it was ultimately unsuccessful. The amendment was struck down for not being transparent and arbitrary. [Syniverse Technologies (India) Pvt. Ltd. v Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1507 of 2017, date of judgment: 08.03.2019]
- UIDAI notifies charges for the authentication services – The UIDAI has issued the Aadhaar (Pricing Of Aadhaar Authentication Services) Regulations, 2019 which mandates that businesses using Aadhaar as a method to carry out KYC will have to pay ₹20 for each customer and ₹0.50 for each authentication transaction carried out by them. Government entities and Scheduled Commercial Banks are exempt from the charges. All other entities will have to pay the amount within 15 days of the invoice being raised by the UIDAI and failure to pay would attract penalties. This would help businesses cut significantly on their KYC costs in comparison to the earlier paper based verification system. [Notification No.K-11022/632/2019/Auth-UIDAI (No. 1 of 2019), dated 06.03.2019]
- Advisory issued to POCSO Courts to ensure speedy trial – The Delhi HC has issued an advisory to all POCSO courts in the territory to ensure speedy trials of the cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. This comes in the light of directions issued by the Supreme Court to High Courts to monitor trials under the Act. The advisory addressed many issues apart from asking the courts to ensure speedy trials by asking courts to give as few as possible adjournments. The Directorate of Prosecution, Delhi has been asked to ensure that the prosecutors are present in the courts. Similarly the Delhi Legal Services Authority has been asked to ensure that a defence lawyers is appointed for the accused, if the accused has none. The courts have also been asked to resort to provisions of admission/denial of documents before the framing of charges. But the accused will not be asked to undertake this exercise without legal counsel present. If the document is not challenged, then it can be admitted into evidence straightaway. [Guidelines No. 57/Rules/DHC dated 28.02.2019]