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Legal Updates

16th October to 16th October
{2018}
Issue 14
Hi, welcome to our legal newsletter, we publish this newsletter fortnightly.
  • Four new judges elevated to Supreme Court
The Central Government notified the appointment of Justices M. R. Shah, Ajay Rastogi, R. Subhash Reddy and Hemant Gupta to the Supreme Court on November 1, just two days after the collegium made its recommendations to the Centre. Justices Hemant Gupta, R. Subhash Reddy, M. R. Shah and Ajay Rastogi were serving as the Chief Justices of the Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Patna and Tripura High Courts respectively.

Further Reading:
  1. Four new Judges sworn into Supreme Court working strength rises to 28 judges, Bar and Bench (November 2, 2018).
  2. DNA Web Team, CJI in 'awe' of alacrity with which four new judges were sworn in to Supreme Court, DNA (November 2, 2018).
  3. Mehal Jain, CJI Assures To Look Into The Issue Of Collegium Recommendations Pending With Central Government, LiveLaw.in (November 3, 2018).
  4. The Wire Analysis, Inside Story of the Centre’s Turf War with the Supreme Court Collegium, The Wire (May 7, 2018).
  5. Mohan Parasaran, The executive is diluting the collegium’s primacy, Hindustan Times (May 1, 2018).
  6. Arghya Sengupta, Appointments of Judges, Economic and Political Weekly (November 28, 2015).
  7. Krishnadas Rajagopal, Recommendation on judges’ elevation a unanimous decision: Supreme Court Collegium, The Hindu (October 31, 2018).
  • Pakistan Supreme Court overturns blasphemy conviction and death sentence
The Pakistan Supreme Court overturned a blasphemy conviction of a catholic woman, Asia Bibi, on the ground that the prosecution failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. The trial stemmed from an altercation she had with her Muslim neighbours, who refused to touch a bucket of water because Asia having touched it, had made it unclean. According to the prosecution, she made blasphemous statements about Prophet Mohd. during this quarrel. The Supreme Court criticised the complainants for their conduct and noted the gross abuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan, where it has been used to pursue vendettas and justify vigilante violence. The main victims of the law are Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus and other minority groups. The accused in this case had been languishing in the prison for the past eight years. The decision has triggered widespread protests demanding the execution of Asia Bibi, the protests have also turned violent in a few districts. In 2011, the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer was assassinated after he publicly supported Asia.

Further Reading:
  1. Hasseb Bhatti, Supreme Court acquits Asia Bibi, orders immediate release, Dawn (October 30, 2018).
  2. Shemeem Burney Abbas, Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws: From Islamic Empires to the Taliban, University of Texas Press (May 1, 2014).
  3. Matt Hoffman, Modern Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan and the Rimsha Masih Case: What Effect—if Any — the Case Will Have on Their Future Reform, Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Volume 13, 2014).
  4. Omair Anas, Asia Bibi exonerated, but scope for misuse of blasphemy law remains challenge for Imran Khan's Pakistan, Firstpost (November 1, 2018).
  5. Osama Siddique and Zahra Hayat, Unholy Speech and Holy Laws: Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan - Controversial Origins, Design Defects, and Free Speech Implications, Minnesota Journal of International Law (2008).
  6. Tabinda Sadiq, Working under the shadow of Taboo & Blasphemy: Coverage of Minorities in Pakistani Press under the Blasphemy Law, Global Media Journal (2016).
  7. Huda Fatima, Tooba Fatima Qadir, Syed Bilal Pasha, Syed Ather Hussain, Are Pakistan’s ambiguous blasphemy laws enabling vigilantism? Asian Journal of Psychiatry (October 2017).
  • Supreme Court restricted the use of firecrackers to reduce pollution in light of upcoming Diwali
Refusing to impose a blanket ban on manufacture and sale of firecrackers, the Supreme Court restricted their use to curb pollution. It allowed bursting of only “safe and green” electronic crackers or firecrackers with low emission. It fixed the time limit from 8:00 to 10:00 PM on the November 7. Through a later verdict, the time-slot was changed for the states which have a different time for Diwali celebration – for example, in Tamil Nadu, the allotted time is on November 6 and is broken into a morning slot and an evening slot of an hour each. While imposing the liability on the police stations if any rule violation was found in their area, the division bench also restrained e-commerce websites from selling firecrackers which are beyond the permissible limits of emission and noise pollution. The Supreme Court had earlier observed the need to consider all aspects of the situation – the Right to Livelihood of the firecracker manufacturers vis-à-vis the Right to Health for 1.3 Billion people of the country. Interestingly, the Delhi – NCR woke up to a thick smog right after Diwali last year, indicating “very poor” air quality.

Further Reading:
  1. Express Web Desk, Supreme Court puts partial ban on firecrackers, allows two-hour window during Diwali, The Indian Express (October 23, 2018).
  2. Arpan Chaturvedi, Supreme Court Refuses Blanket Ban On Firecrackers, Imposes Conditions, Bloomberg Quint (October 23, 2018).
  3. Mehal Jain, SC Refuses Complete Ban On Sale Of Firecrackers; Online Sale Banned; Duration For Bursting Crackers Fixed [Read Judgment], LiveLaw.in (October 23, 2018).
  4. The Wire Staff, Supreme Court Allows 'Safe' Firecrackers for Diwali; Restrictions in Delhi, The Wire (October 23, 2018).
  5. 'North Indian bias', 'cultural imperialism' alleged in Supreme Court order on firecrackers, Business Today (October 25, 2018).
  6. Srishti Choudhary, How SC order on firecrackers will affect Diwali, other festivities, Livemint (October 24, 2018).
  • CLAT – 2019 to be held in offline mode
Seeking to address the numerous technical glitches faced by the students in the past 3 years, the CLAT Consortium, in its 4th meeting, unanimously resolved to conduct the examination offline. It remarked that the online medium shall be reconsidered when the number of students increases. It also provided for a permanent CLAT website, a question-bank which all scholars can contribute to and also decided upon introducing some subjective portion in the LL.M. Admission test. Earlier this month, the CLAT Consortium had elected Prof. Faizan Mustafa, the Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, as the President of the Consortium. Its permanent office has been established at NLSIU, Bangalore, with its VC as the ex-officio treasurer.

Further Reading:
  1. Apoorva Mandhani, Breaking: CLAT-2019 Goes Offline, Subjective Portion In PG CLAT, Permanent CLAT Website: Consortium Of NLUs Decides, LiveLaw.in (October 19, 2018).
  2. Preeti Biswas, CLAT to roll back to offline mode from 2019, The Times of India (October 19, 2018). 
  3. Special Correspondent, Offline pen-&-paper CLAT from next year, The Telegraph (October 23, 2018).
  4. Apoorva Mandhani, Both Bar Council Of India And National Testing Agency Stake Claim For Conducting CLAT Before SC [Read Affidavits], LiveLaw.in (October 23, 2018).
  • Hungary: Sleeping on streets is now a crime
The Hungarian Constitution was recently amended to make “rough sleeping” a criminal offence. Under amended Article 22 of the revised constitution, homeless people who refuse to go to shelters will be forced to participate in public work, denial of which shall lead to fines and imprisonment. While the government claims that the move is in the interest of the society as a whole, the critics claim this to be a politically motivated move of the current government against the vulnerable people of the country. The criticism also stems from the inadequacy of housing provided by the government for the homeless, as well as the problems of living in such settlements (fights, overcrowding etc.). The ruling party defended the move claiming that there exist sufficient housing shelters for the homeless. It quoted the $ 32.6 million allocated to shelter places for the homeless in the budget of 2018-19. The UN experts have criticized the law, calling it cruel and in violation of international Human Rights.

Further Reading:
  1. Kara Fox, Hungary's constitution makes street homelessness a crime, CNN (October 15, 2018).
  2. Rough sleeping outlawed in Hungary as new law comes into force, Al Jazeera (October 15, 2018).
  3. Akira Tomlinson, Hungary constitution bans homeless from living in public spaces, Jurist (October 16, 2018).
  4. Zamira Rahim, Hungary brings in ban on rough sleeping, Independent (October 15, 2018).
  5. New Hungary law bans rough sleepers, rights groups complain, Reuters (October 15, 2018).
  6. Rita Palfi and Alice Tidey, Homeless people face prison in Hungary after tough new law is passed, Euro News (October 22, 2018).
  7. Zoltán Aknai, Where Are They Now: Inside the First Days of Hungary’s Homeless Ban, Hungary Today (October 19, 2018).
ICYMI
Sabarimala and the Essential Religious Practices Test
By Vivek Anandh
In this post, Vivek Anandh thematically analyses the important doctrinal conclusions on the ‘Essential Practices’ test and its discursive impact on the constitutional jurisprudence in the context of the Sabarimala Judgment.
Read More
Religious Denomination – Multiculturalism, Group Rights and the Constitution
By Vivek Anandh
This post analyses the Supreme Court’s attempt to reconcile its dominant liberalism/individualism based approach towards fundamental rights as against the group right claims under Article 26, in the recent Sabarimala verdict.
Read More
We thank Bhavisha Sharma and Vishal Rakhecha for their assistance in collating the data, and Benjamin Vanlalvena for designing this newsletter.
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