Legal Updates

16th June to 30th June
Issue 26
Hi, welcome to our legal newsletter, we publish this newsletter fortnightly.
  • Bombay High Court upheld Maratha reservation but held 16% unjustifiable
Bombay High Court upheld the constitutionality of the bill granting reservation to the Maratha community in admissions to government jobs and educational institutions. However, the reservation was allowed only to the extent of 12% as opposed to the 16% provided in the bill. The bill created a new category called Socially and Educationally Backward Class, which solely included the Maratha community, and granted reservation to it. With this, reservation in the state has effectively went up from 52% to 68%. In Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India had ruled that reservations should not exceed 50% of the total number of seats. However, while justifying the excess quota in this case, Bombay High Court held that the 50% threshold can be exceeded in this case as it is an ‘exceptional circumstance.’ Anticipating a challenge to the High Court’s order before the Supreme Court, the State Government has already filed a caveat before the Supreme Court seeking to be heard before any order is passed in the matter.

Further Reading:
  1. Nitish Kashyap, Breaking: Bombay HC Upholds Maratha Reservation; But Says 16% Not Justifiable, (June 27, 2019).
  2. Bombay HC Upholds Maratha Reservation, But Says 16% Share Not Justifiable; BJP-Sena Hails Order, News 18, (June 27, 2019).
  3. Deepanshu Mohan, India's Cocktail Recipe for Affirmative Action Should Be Replaced With a Simplified One, The Wire (October 5, 2018).
  4. Raghav Pandey and Anoushka Mehta, Bombay HC upholds Maratha quota: Court's verdict is based on flawed report which discourages constitutionalism, First Post (June 29, 2019).
  5. FP Staff, Reservation politics in India: From Gujjars, Jats, Patidars to Marathas, communities line up for their piece of caste-based quota pie, Firstpost (June 28, 2019).
  6. Editorial, 50% meltdown: If nothing else, at least quotas keep growing, The Times of India (June 29, 2019).
  7. Editorial, Boost for Marathas: on Bombay HC upholding reservation for Marathas, The Hindu (June 29, 2019).
  8. Editorial, Doling out quotas, Indian Express (June 29, 2019).
  • Supreme Court of India agreed to hear plea seeking safety and security of doctors in government hospitals
Supreme Court agreed to hear plea seeking deployment of government-appointed security personnel in each government hospital and formulation of strict guidelines for the safety and security of doctors. However, the hearing was deferred to July as the protests by doctors in West Bengal which prompted the court to list the matter for urgent hearing were withdrawn. The strike was a result of an attack on junior doctors at NRS Medical College in Kolkata by a group of about 200 men who arrived at the hospital after a 75-year old patient admitted there passed away. This incident prompted a strike by junior doctors in West Bengal. The protests had been restricted to West Bengal itself till the Chief Minister of the State, Mamata Banerjee, condemned the doctors on strike and threatened to evict them from their hostels, sparking a nationwide reaction. The doctors in West Bengal withdrew the strike after a week upon receiving the Chief Minister’s assurance to meet their demands and scale up security in government hospitals. However, the Indian Medical Association went ahead with their planned strike the next day, i.e. 18 June 2019, with the withdrawal of non-essential health services in the country for 24 hours.

Further Reading:
  1. PTI, SC Agrees To Hear Plea Seeking Safety And Security Of Doctors In Govt. Hospital Tomorrow, (June 17, 2019).
  2. Amrit Dhillon, Doctors in India strike over violent attacks by patients' families, The Guardian (June 17, 2019).
  3. The Wire Analysis, As SC Sees No Urgency in Hearing Petition Seeking Doctors’ Safety, IMA Urges Reforms, The Wire (June 19, 2019).
  4. Sanjay Nagral, Doctors and patients deserve better, The Hindu (June 19, 2019).
  5. Reetobaan Datta, The Notion That Doctors Are Infallible Needs to Be Broken, The Wire (June 15, 2019).
  6. Neetu Chandra Sharma, Doctors’ strike reflects inadequacies in India’s health infrastructure, Livemint (June 17, 2019).
  7. Editorial, Preventing violence: on protection to doctors, The Hindu (June 19, 2019).
  • Supreme Court stays road construction work in Tiger Reserves
A vacation bench of the Supreme Court of India comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Surya Kant stayed the construction of a road that would pass through the corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger Reserves. The Court noted that the State of Uttarakhand had neither consulted the National Tiger Conservation Authority nor taken requisite permission from the National Board for Wildlife for the construction. The Court also observed that the construction appears to be a prima facie violation of the Forest Conservation Act. The Court issued a notice to the State of Uttarakhand and directed it to file a reply within three weeks.

Further Reading:
  1. Soibam Rocky Singh, SC halts road works through tiger reserves, The Hindu (June 22, 2019).
  2. Jay Mazoomdaar, For promised road, Uttarakhand wangles land from tiger reserve, The Indian Express (March 14, 2019).
  3. Atula Gupta, Supreme Court stops construction work through tiger reserve, India’s Endangered (June 24, 2019).
  4. Aakriti Shrivastava, Don’t allow new roads in sanctuaries, says MOEF expert panel, DownToEarth (July 04, 2015).
  5. DTE Staff, About 400 proposed infrastructure project will destroy tiger reserves: report, DownToEarth (August 6, 2018).
  6. Tim Caro; Andrew Dobson; Andrew J. Marshall; Carlos A. Peres, Compromise solutions between conservation and road building in the tropics, ScienceDirect (August 18, 2014).
  • Illinois became the 11th State in the United States to legalise recreational use of Marijuana
The Governor of Illinois signed a bill legalizing the recreational use of Marijuana in the state, making Illinois the 11th state in the United States of America to do so. It also became the second state after Vermont to do so solely through legislative process. The bill is intended to regulate the sale, possession and consumption of Marijuana, which is expected to generate a revenue of $800 million. The increased revenue shall tentatively be put back into the local communities affected by the War on Drugs policies. The bill also provides for expunging the records of those convicted for possession of less than 30 grams of Marijuana.

Further Reading:
  1. Nicholas Chan, Illinois governor signs bill to legalize recreational marijuana use, Jurist (June 25, 2019).
  2. German Lopez, Marijuana legalization, explained, Vox (June 25, 2019).
  3. Marijuana Overview, National Conference of State Legislatures (May 28, 2019).
  4. Candice Norwood, Why Illinois' Marijuana Legalization Law Is Different From All Others, Governing (June 11, 2019).
  5. Kris Krane, Illinois Legalization Is Historic, But Good Luck Finding Cannabis To Buy, Forbes (June 25, 2019).
  6. Steve Chapman, Legalizing marijuana is a victory for freedom in Illinois, Chicago Tribune (May 31, 2019).
  • Hong Kong puts a hold on controversial extradition bill
The government of Hong Kong deferred a bill that allowed for extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, Macau and Taiwan. Widespread protests and demonstrations in the city forced Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong to suspend the bill indefinitely. Opponents of the bill suggested that extradition would give China greater control over Hong Kong. However,  protests have continued as demonstrators demand complete withdrawal of the bill.

Further Reading:
  1. Reuters, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam signals end to extradition bill, The Hindu (June 18, 2019).
  2. Greg Torode, Explainer: Hong Kong’s extradition bill and the opposition to it, Reuters (July 01, 2019).
  3. Tony Cheung; Ng Kaung-chung, When suspending Hong Kong’s extradition bill versus withdrawing it has a different meaning but the same outcome: death of legislation, South China Morning Post (June 16, 2019).
  4. James Griffiths, Hong Kong extradition law: What happens next?, CNN (June 16, 2019).
  5. Editorial. The Guardian view on Hong Kong’s crisis: the people have spoken, The Guardian (June 17, 2019).
  6. Lewis Lau Yiu-man, Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Resisting China with Anarchy and Principle(June 28, 2019).
  7. Mike Ives; Katherine Li,Hong Kong Official Defends Police’s Use of Force Against Protesters, The New York Times (June 19, 2019).
  8. Minxin Pie, China is Courting Disaster in Hong Kong, Project Syndicate (June 13, 2019).
  9. Steve Tsang, Three lessons from Hong Kong Protests, Project Syndicate (June 26, 2019).
  • Chief Justice Gogoi seeks greater sanctioned strength for the Supreme Court, increase in retirement age for HC judges
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi requested the Prime Minister to increase the sanctioned number of Supreme Court judges from the current sanctioned strength of thirty-one. He wrote that there were 58,669 cases pending in the Supreme Court which could be resolved with the help of additional judges. He also sought for an increase the age of retirement for High Court judges from sixty-two to sixty-five. He mentioned that the increase in age requirement would solve the high vacancy problem in the High Courts. The Supreme Court began with a sanctioned strength of eight in 1950, gradually increasing to the current sanctioned strength of thirty-one in 2009.  The original retirement age for High Court judges was fixed at sixty years which was later increased to sixty-two years in 1963.

Further Reading:
  1. The Wire Staff, Chief Justice Gogoi Asks PM to increase SC strength, retirement age of HC Judges, The Wire (June 22, 2019).
  2. The Wire Analysis, Why CJI Gogoi’s Proposal to Increase the Supreme Court’s Strength Is Misplaced, The Wire (June 26, 2019).
  3. T. Prashant Reddy, Supreme Court Needs Better Management, Not More Judges, Bloomberg Quint (June 27, 2019).
  4. Maneesh Chhibber, Do we need more judges? CJI Thakur’s plea to the govt raises key question, The Indian Express (May 01, 2016).
  5. Santosh Paul, The case for increasing the retirement age of judges, The Hindu (July 31, 2018).
  6. N.R. Madhava Menon, When should Judges retire, India Legal (July 15, 2018).
  7. Ashok Bagriya, Centre may not agree to CJI Gogoi’s idea on judges’ retirement age, Hindustan Times (June 23, 2019).
Crisis of Secularism or Paradox of Governance?
By Zubair Abbasi
This is the first of the substantive responses to Julia Stephen’s Governing Islam: Law, Empire and Secularism in South Asia which summarizes the key themes of the Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism, and then reflects on them within the context of Pakistan, particularly with reference to the application of Islamic law.
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We thank Kanu Garg and Jonathan Rajan for their assistance in collating the data, and Benjamin Vanlalvena for designing this newsletter.
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Law and Other Things · NALSAR University of Law · Hyderabad, 500101 · India

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