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Rajasthan HC: Writ Petition Filed In Representative Capacity Without Authorisation Not Maintainable

  • The Rajasthan HC has, in a case titled Income Tax Contingent Employees Union vs Union of India and ors. has held that a writ petition filed in representative capacity without authorisation or a resolution to that effect is not maintainable.
  • In the instant case, a writ petition was filed on behalf of a Union called Income Tax Contingent Employees Union. A man named Kamal Prasad signed an affidavit in support of the writ petition, claiming to be a Member and an authorised representative of the Union.
  • After this, an affidavit was filed by the Counsel for the respondents claiming that the writ petition should be dismissed for want of proper authorization.
  • Further, it was the respondent’s contention that no list of casual labourers who claim to be the members of the Union had been annexed to the writ petition. The respondent also claimed that no proper authorisation or resolution has been passed by the Union for the purpose of filing the original application, much less the present writ petition.
  • To support his claim, the respondent relied upon the decision of the Court in Income Tax Contingent Employees Union and anr vs. A.N. Jha and anr. and also in Income tax Contingent Employees Union vs. Union of India and ors. wherein the Court had held that such writ petitions are not maintainable for want of proper authorisation.
  • The Counsel for the petitioners, on the other hand, argued that on 11-4-2018, Mr, Kamal Pal had been authorised to plead matters on behalf of the union. He also claimed that the writ petition had been presented for proper authorisation and was filed after the authorisation had been obtained.
  • The Court, in the instant case, found that the MOM (minutes of meeting) filed by the petitioners does not contain signatures of any of the members of the Union. It was also observed by the Court that a list of the members of the Union has not been annexed to the writ petition as well.
  • The Court also observed that Jagdish Solanki, who claimed to be the President of the Union, who says that he authorised Kamal Pal to file the matters on behalf of the Union, has not supported his claim by any resolution passed by the Union which authorised him to further authorise Kamal Pal to file the Original Application before the Central Administrative Tribunal or the present writ petition.
  • Thus, the Court observed that the writ petition had indeed been filed without proper authorisation and dismissed the same.

Company Directors Cannot Be Held Vicariously Liable; Cannot Be Implicated Without Specific Averments: Kerala HC

  • The Hon’ble Kerala HC has held, in the case of Aroon Purie vs. State of Kerala and anr. that the directors of a Company cannot be held criminally liable without any specific averment which indicates their role in the offence committed. The Court relied on the fact that there was no section in IPC (Indian Penal Code) which provides for their vicarious liability.
  • In the instant case. On August 3, 2017 a news was aired on India Today which showed one Manikkuttan as the main accused in the murder of one Rajesh. Unfortunately, when the said news was telecasted, the picture shown in the channel was of the second respondent, Anil Kumar.
  • This was telecasted for three days consecutively with the same picture of Anil Kumar, a legal notice was issued to the petitioners. Subsequently, a complaint was filed by Anil Kumar before the Magistrate and the cognizance was taken.
  • Thereafter, the petitioners moved the HC seeking to get the proceedings in the lower Court quashed. The Counsels for the petitioners argued that the complaint did not disclose the commission of any offence by the petitioners as it failed to show how the petitioners were involved in preparing, editing or broadcasting the news item which is the subject matter of the aforesaid complaint.
  • It was further contended by the counsel for the petitioners that without any specific allegation, the Chairman and the Managing Director of the company were implicated as accused in the case. It was also argued that in criminal cases, the principle of vicarious liability does not arise unless specifically mentioned in the statute.
  • The Court observed that aside from the fact that the persons implicated in the case were Chairman and MD, CEO and the owner of India Today Ltd., the specific role played by these accused in the selecting, editing and telecasting of the said news item was not mentioned.
  • The Court also relied on the judgement of the Hon’ble SC in K.M. Matthew vs State of Kerala and anr (AIR 1992 SC) where it was held that for a magistrate to take cognizance of an offence against the Chief Editor, there must be positive averments in the complaint of the fact that the said editor knew of the objectionable character of the published matter.
  • It was also observed that in the second explanation to section 499 IPC, an imputation against the said company or an association of persons may amount to defamation. It is not defamation within the meaning of that explanation if the imputation has been made by the company or the association of persons [Explanation 2 to section 499 states that It may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such].
  • The Court also observed that it is a well established principle of criminal law that a person cannot be held to be criminally liable on the basis of vicarious liability unless the statute specifically provides for the same. The Court also noted that the people who were actually responsible for the airing of the programme and for presenting it were not implicated as accused in the case.
  • Thus, in light of the aforesaid observations,the application was allowed and the proceedings in the lower court were quashed.

Cannot Prove Adultery By Summoning Wife’s Private Medical Records: Karnataka HC

  • Justice N.S. Sanjay Gowda of the Karnataka HC has held that the illicit adulterous relationship of a spouse cannot be proved by summoning his/her private medical records.
  • In the instant case, a petition for the dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce was filed by the husband. Simultaneously, proceedings for maintenance were initiated by the wife. It was the husband’s contention that the wife had indulged in illicit relationships and had become pregnant as a result.
  • It was argued that the documents of abortion which were sought by the petitioners from the hospital were necessary to prove the affairs of the wife. The Trial Court in such a situation granted leave to summon those records, relying on the fact that there was no question of the hospital authorities maintaining secrecy in respect of medical records of spouses, as the doctor- patient confidentiality exists only between the doctor and the patient and not between the hospital administration and the spouses.
  • This order was challenged by the wife before the HC stating that the medical records of the person are absolutely private to that person and the same cannot be summoned by anyone, not even the husband. It was also argued by the wife that forcing the doctor to adduce evidence and summoning the medical records would essentially mean that the doctor is being forced to violate the oath of secrecy to the patient.
  • The Court observed that the power to ask any medical practitioner to adduce evidence, essentially violating his oath, could be exercised only when an element of public interest is involved in the same. If the same power is exercised in cases like the one before the Court, then it would result in the destruction of the entire concept of doctor- patient confidentiality. In addition to this, it would also drag the doctor into a marital dispute.
  • Referring to the facts of the instant case, the Court observed that the husband has also sought divorce on the ground of desertion in addition to cruelty, by claiming that his wife had deserted him for a continuous period of two years. The Court stated that if the husband has alleged that his wife had subjected him to cruelty by being in an adulterous relationship, then he would have to prove the same by leading cogent evidence in a manner which is agreeable by law. The allegation cannot be proved by summoning private documents of the wife.
  • Due to the aforementioned reasons, the application was allowed and the order of the lower Court summoning the medical records was set aside.
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