Legal Updates

16th September to 30th September
Issue 12
Hi, welcome to our legal newsletter, we publish this newsletter fortnightly.
  • India has 19 judges per 10 lakh people according to Law Ministry data
According to a document prepared in March by the Law Ministry for the Parliament, the judge-population ratio is 19.49 per million people. The approved strength of the lower judiciary is 22,474, but the working strength is 16,726, a shortage of 5748 judicial officers. Similarly, while the high courts have a sanctioned strength of 1079, the actual strength is 673, with 406 vacancies.

Further Reading:
  1. Alok Prasanna Kumar, Capacity, Constitutionality and Credibility Crises in Judiciary, NALSAR Public Policy (March 12, 2018).
  2. Diksha Sanyal and Shriram Gupta, What is to blame for the mounting shortage of district court judges in India? (January 13, 2018).
  3. PTI, Shortage of judges leading to 2.8 crore pending cases, say SC reports, Hindustan Times (January 15, 2017).
  4. Soibam Rocky Singh, Why the Indian judiciary is in dire straits: a closer look at a first-of-its-kind study, The Hindu (December 11, 2017).
  5. Alok Prasanna Kumar, How many judges does India really need? Live Mint (July 12, 2016).
  6. Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial (wo)manpower, 235th Report, Law Commission of India (July 2014).
  • Supreme Court refuses to order an SIT investigation into the arrest of five civil rights activists
The Supreme Court through a majority decision by CJI Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar refused to allow a SIT investigation into the arrest of five prominent civil rights activists by the Maharashtra police. The judgment passed on 28th September ordered four more weeks of house arrest. The court also said that the five activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonslaves, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, may approach a trial court for bail. Justice Chandrachud, however, dissented by saying that the state police could not be trusted to investigate the case in a fair manner, and that he was in favour of a SIT probe. On 1st October, Delhi High Court said that the Gautam Navlakha should be released from house arrest.

Further Reading:
  1. Puneet Nicholas Yadav, Arrests of Activists: Crackdown on Dissent, India Legal (September 1, 2018).
  2. HT Correspondent, ‘Activists arrested for Maoist links, not dissent’: SC rules out SIT probe, Hindustan Times (September 28, 2018).
  3. Express Web, Elgaar Parishad case: Justice D Y Chandrachud in dissent note says arrests attempt by State to muzzle criticism, The Indian Express (September 28, 2018).
  4. Wire Staff, What Delhi HC Had to Say While Freeing Gautam Navlakha from House Arrest, The Wire (October 1, 2018).
  • South Africa decriminalized the use of Marijuana
On September 18, 2018, the Constitutional Court of South Africa showed a green signal to personal consumption of Marijuana. The court reasoned that the native population has already been using the drug (called Dagga) for personal and medicinal purposes and thus, a ban on the substance shall be discriminatory towards them. In addition to this, it also observed that some recent studies have shown that it may benefit health by preventing many grave diseases and stimulating brain to cure mental health issues. The judgment, penned by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, while removing the ban, also warned that possessing more than 100 grams of Marijuana or its possession by a minor would still be illegal. South Africa is the third country in the world to legalize Marijuana.

Further Reading:
  1. Daniel Friedman, Dagga partly decriminalized at Constitutional Court, The Citizen (September 18, 2018).
  2. James de Villiers, Marijuana use has just been legalized in South Africa – a large provider of cannabis to the UK and Europe, Business Insider South Africa (September 18, 2018).
  3. Jennifer Welsh, Kevin Lorea, 23 Medical Uses of Marijuana, Business Insider India (April 21, 2014).
  4. Bill Corcoran, South Africa decriminalizes Marijuana in landmark court ruling, The Irish Times (September 18, 2018).
  5. Manny Marotta, South Africa top court decriminalizes marijuana use, JURIST (September 18, 2018).
  • Rape accused cannot be acquitted merely because victim turned hostile: Supreme Court
Hearing an appeal on a case decided by the Gujarat High Court, the Supreme Court observed that the mere fact that the victim turned hostile during the trial and refused identification in the dock cannot be a sufficient reason to acquit the accused. In such cases, the other evidences present in front of the bench, including Test Identification Parade, must be considered. The Court also held that a hostile victim may be prosecuted for the same under Section 344 of the CrPC, 1973. However, it observed that the accused persons often take advantage of the delay in recording of witness statements to intimidate her and her family. If the facts hint at any such possibilities, the Court must consider the same and apply its judicial mind to arrive at conclusion, and in such cases, the rape survivor may not be punished.

Further Reading:
  1. Amit Anand Choudhary, Rape survivor can be prosecuted for turning hostile to protect accused: Supreme Court, The Times of India (September 30, 2018).
  2. Ashok Kini, Rape-Accused Cannot Be Acquitted Merely Because Victim Turned Hostile And Failed To Identify Him In The Dock: SC, (September 30, 2018).
  3. Meera Emmanuel, Criminal Trial Not a Theatre of the absurd, Hostile Prosecutrix alone cannot absolve Rape Accused – SC, Bar & Bench (September 29, 2018).
  4. Avantika Mehta, Family, police pressure: Why most rape victims turn hostile during trial, Hindustan Times (April 28, 2018).
  5. HT Correspondent, Rohtak: Rape complainant booked for turning hostile in court, Hindustan Times (March 18, 2018).
Delhi High Court on Beggary: Law Untangled but not Completely 
By Dushyant Thakur
The piece analyses the shortcomings in the recent judgment of the Delhi HC which decriminalised begging and further suggests, that the Central Government should come with uniform central legislation which adopts a rehabilitative approach on the issue of begging.
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The Impact Of Puttaswamy Judgement On The Rights Of The Media
By Vishal Rakhecha
The post is an attempt to anticipate the trajectory of decisions following the Puttaswamy judgment, in dealing with cases where the right to freedom of speech and right to privacy are seemingly in conflict, based on a decisions of a few High Courts in this regard.
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Litigation 101 (Part 2): Bombay High Court Practice and Procedure
By Abhinav Chandrachud
The following is a brief description of some procedural rules that a young litigator intending to practice on the Original Side of the Bombay High Court ought to be familiar with.
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All you need to know about the Aadhaar Litigation
By Namratha Murugeshan and Vishal Rakhecha
This is an explainer piece aims to capture the important arguments raised by the parties in the case and provide a gist of the questions in front of the Court.
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How Far Does The 2018 Indian Arbitration Bill Go In Realizing The Vision Of Srikrishna Committee?
By Parimal Kashyap and Kishan Gupta
This blog post outlines the potential impacts of divergence in the recent 2018 Indian Arbitration Bill passed by the Lower House of the Parliament from the recommendations of a High-Level Committee constituted by the government.
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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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Law and Other Things · NALSAR University of Law · Hyderabad, 500101 · India

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