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11. Dr. Jaishree Laxmanrao Patil Vs. The Chief Minister & Ors.: Maratha reservation was declared unconstitutional
In 2018, the Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act came into force which contained provisions of reservations for Marathas in educational institutions (12%) and appointments in public services (13%). The act was introduced on the recommendation of the Gaikwad Committee.
Subsequently, multiple petitions were filed in the High Court of Bombay having primary contention that the act breaches the 50% reservation limit specified in the case of Indra Sawhney and Ors. V. Union of India. The supreme court clubbed together all the applications to decide on the issue. Other than a breach of quota limit, the applications stated that the act violates article 14, Article 15, and Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Moreover, the report of the Gaikwad Committee was flawed and unscientific.
In the 569-page verdict, the Court noted that the act violates the principle of equality mentioned under Article 14. The exceeding of the reservation limit without there being any extraordinary circumstances also violates Article 16 of the Constitution of India which makes the enactment ultra vires.
Hence, the Supreme Court struck down the enactment. This judgment could potentially influence other provisions of reservations such as the EWS quota.
12. M/s Imperia Structures Vs. Anil Patni: Rera act does not bar remedies under Consumer Protection Act
In the present case, an appeal was filed by Imperia Structures (Builders) in the Supreme Court of India against an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). Complaints of unfair trade practices and deficiency of services were filed by multiple homebuyers in handing over the possession of apartments under the consumer protection act 1986. Builders contended that the homebuyers have booked and bought the apartments for commercial purposes and hence, the said homebuyers would not qualify as consumers within the definition under Section 2(d) of the Consumer Protection Act. However, NCDRC took cognizance of the matter and issued an order against the builders to return the amount paid by homebuyers.
In the Supreme Court, the builders contended that the development project in question is registered under The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) and section 79(2) of the said Act bars the jurisdiction of a Civil Court to entertain any suit or proceeding. Hence, the NCDRC didn’t have jurisdiction to pass an order.
After hearing the arguments, the Court passed the order in favour of the Homebuyers. While upholding the decision of NCDRC the Court stated that RERA and Consumer Protection Act are two different legislations and despite ongoing cases at RERA, a consumer forum will always have the power to entertain cases wherein the homebuyers qualify as ‘consumers’ within the definition mentioned under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
13. Rachana Vs. Union of India: No extra attempt for UPSC CSE candidates.
In the present case, the petitioners who were last 'attemptees' of the UPSC exam 2020, sought an extra attempt to clear the exam in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The petitioners sought a writ of Mandamus to the Government to extend one additional attempt to them as they are being barred from attempting the examination in the future on account of exhausting available attempts or age limit. The petitioners argued that the sudden and stringent lockdown due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 had made a large disruption in the life of the common man and the students which led to difficulties in the preparation of the Examination 2020 for many aspirants.
The court noted that the petition lacks legal strength and foundation. As a large number of candidates appeared in the various examinations in the year 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone must have faced some constraints/impediments/inconvenience in one way or the other, Apex Court noted. Moreover, under the scheme of rules 2020, a candidate was free to withdraw from the exam after filling the form and the same would not have been counted as an attempt. Consequently, the Court dismissed the petition.
14. PASL Wind Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Vs. GE Power Conversion India Pvt.Ltd. : Indian Parties Can Choose A Foreign Seat For Arbitration States Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in the present case ruled that two Indian parties are free to arbitrate outside India and the resulting award will be valid and enforceable in India.
In the present case, a dispute arose between the parties with regard to an agreement to purchase converters. In the settlement, both the parties decided to arbitrate the issue and decided on ICC arbitration with Zurich as the seat of arbitration. The parties were also governed under Swiss law. The Tribunal ruled in favour of the respondents who then sought to enforce the award but the petitioner resisted citing the reason that it was against public policy for two Indian parties to choose a foreign seat and law.
The Supreme Court ruled that, under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1966, there is no bar on the parties to choose a foreign law as a law of contract or arbitration. The court further held that the award is also enforceable and Indian Courts have the power to grant interim relief for the same.
15. Election Commission of India Vs. MR Vijaya Bhaskar: Freedom of Speech And Expression Also Includes Reporting Judicial Proceedings By Media
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Madras High Court condemned the actions of the Election Commission of India (ECI) for their lacklustre enforcement of safety protocols and allowing political parties to carry on with rallies despite rising cases of COVID-19. Multiple oral remarks of the division bench were widely circulated in the media. Grieved by the stinging remarks and their subsequent reporting the ECI pleaded before the Supreme Court to restrain the media from reporting on the issue.
The courts firstly noted that the oral marks are never recorded in the order and the question of their removal doesn't arise. But the Court agreed with the contention of the ECI that the remarks were ‘harsh.’ However, the Supreme Court rejected the prayer of the election commission to restrict the media from reporting any oral remarks made by the judges as it strikes the fundamental principles guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, especially Article 19(1)(A) of the constitution which ensures the right to free speech and expression. The Court also praised the High Courts for their excellent performance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
16. Munawar v. State of Madhya Pradesh: Interim bail to comic Munawar Faruqui by Supreme Court.
On 1st January 2021, MunawarFaruqi (Applicant) performed at a stand-up comedy show at Munro Café, Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The complainant, a member of the Hindu Protection Congregation (Sanghatan), alleged that the comedians had hurt his religious sentiments as they made filthy and indecent jokes on Hindu Gods during the show.
An FIR was subsequently lodged for the offenses punishable under Sections 295A, 298, 269, and 188/34 Indian Penal Code, 1908. Since then, Munawar was kept in custody and this created huge outrage among comedic spheres and other sections of the society. The applicant sought bail on two occasions before, firstly, before the Court of Magistrate and then before Sessions Judge but both the applications were rejected. In appeal, Madhya Pradesh High Court’s single-judge bench also rejected the bail application of MunawarFaruqui and the other organizers of the show.
In the judgment, the Supreme Court pointed out that the allegations made in the FIR against the comic were vague and also the procedure contained in Section 41 Cr.P.C. (Power of police to arrest without warrant) outlined in the case of Arnesh Kumar v. the State of Bihar was not followed. Consequently, the Court stayed the judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and released the comic on ad-interim bail
17. Ajit Mohan v. Legislative Assembly, National Capital Territory of Delhi: Summons to Facebook India Vice President by Committee on Peace and Harmony
During the Anti-CAA NRC protests, Delhi witnessed widespread communal riots. In the wake of these riots, a Committee on Peace and Harmony was constituted by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi under the chairmanship of Mr. Raghav Chadha (MLA from Rajendra Nagar, Delhi). One of the objectives of the Committee was to understand what caused the communal riots and provide recommendations to ensure such a situation doesn’t arise in the future. On 14th August 2020, an article published in Wall Street Journal titled “Facebook’s Hate Speech Rules Collides with Indian Politics” presented a journalistic investigation into the role of officials at Facebook India who applied content moderation policies in a partisan manner enabling hate speech. In this context, the Peace and Harmony Committee issued summons requesting Mr. Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook India, to appear before the committee but he refused to appear before the Peace and Harmony Committee on the ground that the regulation of intermediaries like Facebook squarely fell within the legislative domain of the Parliament (as opposed to Delhi Assembly). Therefore, the Delhi assembly initiated proceedings against Mr. Ajit Mohan. Aggrieved, Ajit Mohan filed a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution before the Supreme Court of India to set aside the summons.
Rejecting Mr. Mohan’s contentions the Supreme Court held that the function of a legislature is not restricted to enacting laws Peace and Harmony Committee has the power to summon a non-member and investigate an issue on which it lacked the power to enact laws. However, the Court also held that the Peace and Harmony Committee could not recommend actions against persons against whom incriminating evidence is found because it isn’t within the powers of the Assembly.
18. Manoharlal Sharma v. UoI: Pegasus Probe.
The Pegasus snooping scandal came to light on 18th July 2021 after a global consortium of media outlets and investigative journalists reported that the phones of Indian politicians, journalists, activists, and businessmen were among the 50,000 potentially targeted by Pegasus, Israeli company NSO Group’s phone hacking software. The Spyware can switch on a target’s phone camera and microphone and access data on the device, thus turning the phone into a pocket spy device.
A bunch of petitions was filed in the Supreme Court to which the Union ministry of electronics and information technology filed a 3-page affidavit that neither confirmed nor denied if the government had any role in the surveillance through Pegasus Spyware.
The Supreme Court after ascertaining the situation set up an expert panel to investigate the snooping scandal, asserting that the government can’t always get a “free pass" by raising the specter of “national security". The court also raised its concern on the “potential chilling effect" of the spyware on the right to privacy and freedom of speech. The three-member expert panel will be supervised by retired Supreme Court judge R.V. Raveendran
19. Shakuntala Shukla v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Another: How to write a judgment, explains the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court in the present case ruled that once the accused has been convicted by the Trial Court, there shall not be any presumption of innocence thereafter. However, the most peculiar fact about this judgment is the Supreme Court’s dissatisfaction with the drafting of judgment by Allahabad High Court. The court stated that judgment and order passed by the High Court releasing the convicts on bail lacked total clarity as to which part of the judgment and order could be said to be submissions and which part can be said to be the findings/reasonings. The Court then went on to explain that the “Judgment” means a judicial opinion that tells the story of the case; what the case is about; how the court is resolving the case and why. The court also explained the contents and purpose of the judgment. For the purpose of the case, the Supreme Court concluded that the High Court committed a grave error in releasing the convicts on bail pending appeals. Therefore, the Court allowed the instant appeal and set aside the High Court order of granting bail.
20. Patan Jamal Vali v. State of Andhra Pradesh: Importance of an intersectional approach for gender justice.
In the present case, a blind Scheduled Caste woman was raped. To further the justice, the Supreme Court of India did an in-depth analysis of intersectional oppression, and also explained the punishment to be awarded in such cases and what all factors need to be considered by the Courts while dealing with such cases. Utilizing the facts of this case, the Court explored a disturbing trend of sexual violence against women with disabilities and set in motion a thought process for how the structural realities resulting in this state of affairs can be effectively addressed. The Court explained that an intersectional lens is necessary for addressing the specific cases of those individuals who have faced violence and discrimination on multiple grounds due to their identity. A single-axis approach to violence and discrimination renders invisible such minority experiences within a broader group.
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