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The Week That Was: The Supreme Court of India

Vasudha Misra

The week for the Supreme Court work spilled over into the weekend. With the Constitution Day being celebrated on November 26, judges were seen (and heard) all over town. The Court had a lot on its plate, with not a single dull day in sight.

Read the highlights from the week below.

Monday, November 21

Scope of ‘Savarna Hindus’ under Paramekkavu temple by-laws

The Court issued notice in a dispute relating to the scope of the term “Savarna Hindu” under the by-laws of the Paramekkavu Devaswom (Devaswom), which is the managing body of Paramekkavu Bhagavathy temple in the Thrissur district of Kerala.

The by-law of the Devaswom mandates that only a ‘Malayali Savarna Hindu’ that is a Malayali person who is from either of the four principal castes – Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishyas or Shudras can be a member of the Devaswom.

Read full story here.

The dismal functioning of consumer forums

A Bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao made some scathing observations in a judgment passed this week, noting that district consumer forums in many states have become dysfunctional, and have been transformed into a hub for schoolyard politics, with politicians and bureaucrats filling up posts meant for non-judicial members.

It, therefore, proceeded to direct the framing of model rules for adoption by the state governments within four months, to be submitted to the Court for its approval.

Status Quo on Taj Mansingh

The Supreme Court has directed that status quo be maintained with regard to New Delhi Municipal Council’s auctioning process of the iconic Taj Mansingh Hotel in New Delhi, run by Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL). A bench of justices PC Ghose and UU Lalit, passed the order during a hearing of the IHCL’s plea against a high court order allowing its auctioning.

Read story here.

Tuesday, November 22

No relief for CM Kejriwal in defamation suits

No relief was granted to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in an appeal against a Delhi High Court order in a defamation case filed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The High Court  had refused to stay the proceedings in Trial Court against Kejriwal  even as civil proceedings on the same issue are ongoing in the Delhi High Court. A Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and UU Lalit, before whom the matter was placed, refused to interfere with the said order.

Read full story here.

‘Our cases, our rules’ holds Apex Court

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and NV Ramana have ordered that anyone is at liberty to publish, sell and distribute “raw judgments” of the Supreme Court of India and other Courts irrespective of the source from which they are obtained, as no one can claim copyright over their judgments.

However, copyright would subsist in head-notes, editorial notes, paraphrasing and explanatory notes, foot-notes, internal referencing etc. as was held previously in the DB Modak case.

Read full story here.

Wednesday, November 23

CJI Thakur and the curious case of the Lokpal

A bench headed by CJI TS Thakur, has sought the status on instituting Lokpal and wanted to know why this had not been done until now. Interestingly, barely two days after making the observations about the delay, he went on to make it a point of concern in his speeches on November 26.

Read an interesting take on the Attorney General’s submissions here.

Thursday, November 24

Adultery not Cruelty says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has opined that adultery does not amount to mental cruelty per se, while acquitting a man convicted by the High Court for abetting his wife’s suicide, allegedly due to his affair with a woman colleague.

While calling an extra-marital affair “illegal and immoral” and retaining it as a ground for divorce, the judges felt that it should still not draw criminal provisions under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, as the latter depends on evidence that the affair directly led to the suicide.

Friday, November 25

Common Cause’s expose holds no ground in Court

The Supreme Court today told Common Cause that the Court cannot order an investigation into the alleged bribing of politicians by Sahara and Birla based on the material produced by the NGO.

A Bench of Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra told Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan, who appeared for Common Cause, that the material produced is totally unsatisfactory.

Read a play-by-play of the hearing here.

Cracker crackdown in Delhi NCR

In a batch of PILs highlighting the deteriorating air quality in Delhi, a Bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, and Justices AK Sikri and SA Bobde, passed an order directing that no fresh licences to sell firecrackers be given, and that existing licences  be suspended.

Read full story here.

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