Legal Updates

1st July to 15th July
Issue 27
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  • Supreme Court judgments to be published in regional languages
The Supreme Court has decided to make its judgments available in regional languages on its website by the end of this month.  The proposed languages include Assamese, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Odia and Telugu. This is a step forward to reduce the dependence of litigants on their lawyers to check the status of their cases. The translated versions would be uploaded a week after the judgements, unlike the English ones which are posted on the day they are passed. President Kovind’s suggestion at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Kerala High Court is being seen as a source of this reform. Priority will initially be given to cases relating to individual litigants in civil disputes, criminal matter, and marital discords. The Supreme Court is planning to repeat this exercise in another phase.

Further Reading:
  1. Krishnadas Rajgopal, Soon, read Supreme Court judgments in your language., The Hindu (July 03, 2019).
  2. LiveLaw News Network, Supreme Court to make its judgements available in regional languages., LiveLaw (July 03, 2019).
  3. Varun Nambiar, Indian Supreme Court judgements to be published in multiple languages., Jurist (July 04, 2019).
  4. Malini Raghu, Translating verdicts will help all litigants, Deccan Herald (July 14, 2019).
  5. Hans News Services, Let Indian languages rule the roost at courts, The Hans India (July 08, 2019).
  6. PIB Guwahati, Address by the Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind at the Valedictory Function of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of High Court of Kerala, Press Information Bureau (October 28, 2019).
  • SC begins hearing of pleas challenging Maratha reservation in education and jobs
On 12 July, the Supreme Court sought the government’s response on a challenge to a Bombay High Court verdictthat upheld the grant of reservations to the Maratha community in education and jobs. The CJI-led bench desisted from issuing a stay order on the Act, but made it clear that the retrospective application of the reservation for the Maratha community from 2014, would not be made operational. On 30th November, 2018, the Maharashtra legislature had passed a bill granting 16% reservation to Marathas. While the bill was upheld as constitutionally valid by the Bombay High Court, the Court reduced the quota from 16% to 12% in employment and 13% in education, as recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission.

Further Reading:
  1. The Staff, SC stops Maharashtra govt. from giving retrospective application for Maratha quota, Live Law (July 12, 2019).
  2. Ajaf Ashraf, Why the Bombay HC judgement on Maratha reservation is inherently flawed, The Wire (July 3, 2019).
  3. Roshan Kishore, Here’s why Marathas protest for reservation time and time again, Hindustan Times (July 25, 2018).
  4. The Staff, Jats, Marathas, and Patels want quotas, but do they need them?, Economic and Political Weekly
  5. Preetha Nair, Quotas against quota system: Maratha reservation verdict dilutes fight against caste discrimination, Outlook (July 11, 2019).
  • Parliament passes Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019
The Parliament passed an amendment to the Aadhar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, which allows  voluntary use of  Aadhaar as proof of identify for users to open bank accounts and get network connections. The Bill also provides for a penalty of Rs. 1 crore and a jail term for private entities violating provisions on Aadhar data. The Bill provides with children an option to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age. However, according to some jurists, the Bill runs contrary to the SC judgement where it struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act insofar as it permitted the use of Aadhaar data by private entities. Section 5 of the Amendment Bill seeks to reinstate the use of Aadhaar by private players for verification so long as the individual Aadhaar holder consents to such use.

Further Reading:
  1. Live Law News Network, Parliament passes Aadhaar Amendment Bill, Live Law (July 09, 2019).
  2. Suhrith Parthasarathy, A renewed attack on privacy: on Aadhaar Bill, The Hindu (January 09, 2019).
  3. The Hindu Net Desk, Congress calls Aadhar Bill ‘political plagiarism’ in Lok Sabha; says it breaches Fundamental Rights, The Hindu (July 04, 2019).
  4. Agnidipto Tarafder and Siddharth Sonkar, Will the Aadhar Amendment Bill pass judicial scrutiny?, The Wire (July 14, 2019).
  5. Subhashis Banerjee, A more opaque Aadhaar, The Indian  Express (July 15, 2019).
  6. Vrinda Bhandar, Why amend the Aadhaar Act without first passing a Data Protection Bill?, The Wire (January 04, 2019).
  •  Obligation to wear helmet while riding motorcycle cannot be exempted for religious reasons, rules Germany's top court
On 7 July 2019, the Federal Administrative Court of Germany ruled that anyone wearing a turban for religious reasons is not exempted from wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. The case arose when a practicing Sikh sought an exemption on grounds of his faith. The Court rejected his application on the grounds that such an exemption could be granted only on health reasons. The Court also observed that non-wearing of the helmet affects not only the motorcyclist, but also the constitutionally protected legal interests of third parties. Meanwhile in India, there is a statutory exemption for Sikh men from wearing a helmet while riding, under Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Further Reading:
  1. Press Release, Helmet duty when riding a motorcycle is basically also valid on religious grounds, Federal Administrative Court of Germany (July 4, 2019).
  2. Web Desk, Germany court ruling making helmets compulsory infringes on Sikh rights: Sirsa, The Tribune (July 7, 2019).
  3. Devika Agarwal, Does right to freedom of religion extend to wearing religious headgear during sporting event, Supreme Court asks Centre, Firspost (July 16, 2018).
  4. Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria, How a Sikh cyclist’s legal battle against the helmet rule goes beyond matters of religion or safety, Scroll (October 3, 2018).
  5. The Staff, Helmets compulsory for Sikh women: Ensuring road safety or offending religious beliefs, The Print (August 16, 2018).
  • Justice AK Sikri appointed as judge of Singapore International Commercial Court
On 15 July 2019, Former Supreme Court Judge AK Sikri was appointed as an international judge of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC). Justice Sikri has been given a tenure from 1 August 2019 to 4 January 2021. The SICC is a division of the Singapore High Court and part of the Supreme Court of Singapore. It is designed to deal with transnational commercial disputes and currently has 16 international judges as part of its panel. Justice Sikri retired as a Supreme Court judge on 6 March this year, after serving for nearly six years. He has previously served as the Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court, Judge of the Delhi High Court, and is currently the Chairperson of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA).Justice Sikri has authored several important judgments in commercial law, notably the case of A. Ayyasamy v. A. Paramasivam & Ors.

Further Reading:
  1. Press Release, Appointment of High Court Judges and International Judge, PMO Singapore (July 15, 2019).
  2. The Staff, Justice AK Sikri, The Professor Judge of India, Bar and Bench (March 22, 2019).
  3. The Staff, The Singapore International Commercial Court: A challenge to arbitration?, Norton Rose Fulbright (November 2015).
  4. Devika, Justice Dr Arjan Kumar Sikri – Tale of “Diligence and Hardwork”, SCC Online (March 6, 2019).
  • Parliament passes the Jammu and Kashmir (Reservation) Amendment Bill, 2019 and the Central Educational Institution (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre Bill), 2019.

The Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir (Reservation) Amendment Bill, 2019 that brings persons residing in the areas adjoining International Borders within the ambit of reservation at par with persons living in areas adjoining Actual Line of Control (ALoC). Prior to the amendment, there was a provision of 3% reservation in professional institutions for youth living within 6kms of LoC in J&K. The Bill has given rise to various constitutional contentions. Such a reservation has entailed amendment in Article 370 and which is not possible under Governor's rule. It is only when an elected government recommends or gives consent to an amendment in Article 370 or an extension of a central law to the state, can the president pass a Constitution Application Order which make such amendments or extensions of law possible. 

Apart from this, the Parliament also passed The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019 to provide reservation for filling vacancies of teachers in central education institutes. The Bill proposes to make universities the base unit, thus overturning the Allahabad High Court decision, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, directing reservation in teaching posts should be applied subject-wise.

Further Reading:
  1. Live Law News Network, Parliament passes Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, Live Law (July 01, 2019).
  2. Editorial, Deepening the unease, The Indian Express (July 02, 2019).
  3. Nihar Singh, A question of federalism, Deccan Herald(July 15, 2019).
  4. Bashaarat Masood, Explained: What changes with J&K Reservation Bill, Indian Express (July 02, 2019).
  5. Live Law, Lok Sabha passes bill to overturn SC decision on subject-wise reservation for teaching posts, Live Law (July 01, 2019).
  6. Ritika Chopra, Simply put: The ‘unit’ in teachers’ quota, The Indian Express (January 25, 2019).
  7. Editorial, Teachers and quotas, The Hindu (July 03, 2019).
Seeking Refuge in India: Ulaganathan and ors v Ministry of External Affairs
By Douglas McDonald-Norman
In this post, the author critical analyses the Madras High Court's decision in Ulaganathan and ors v Ministry for External Affairs, and a reflection on the uncertain and gloomy state of refugee law in India.
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Repeat Sexual Offences and Proportionality of Punishment
By Ankita Sarkar and Aishwarya Mohanty
The Bombay HC recently upheld the constitutional validity of IPC's s.376E which has the death penalty as a punishment for repeat rape offenders. Ankita & Aishwarya from Project 39A, NLUD write on how the ruling falls foul of crucial jurisprudential principles.
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We thank Raghunandan Sriram and Anushree Verma for their assistance in collating the data, and Benjamin Vanlalvena for designing this newsletter.
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