Legal Updates

1st April to 15th April
Issue 21
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  • Rafale controversy: Official Secrets Act does not empower the executive to restrain publication of documents marked as secret
In a judgment dated 10 April, the Supreme Court dismissed the Centre's objections regarding the use of privileged documents for considering the review petitions in the Rafale case. The case was decided by a three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising of Justice Kaul and Justice Joseph. The CJI observed that no provision of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 vests any power in the government to either restrain the publication of documents marked as “secret”, or place such documents before a court of law which may have been called upon to adjudicate a legal issue concerning the parties.

Further Reading:
  1. Krishnadas Rajagopal, SC rejects preliminary objections by govt., to examine Rafale review pleas on merits on the basis of published documents, The Hindu (April 10, 2019).
  2. Sanyukta Dharmadhikari, The Rafale controversy explained in 10 points, The Wire (November 1, 2018).
  3. Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyalu, Rafale: Official Secret Act vs. Right to Information, Live Law (March 17, 2019).
  4. The Staff, Rafale Deal Case: RTI Overrides Official Secrets Act, Says Supreme Court, The Wire (March 15, 2019).
  5. The Editor, No Dark Spaces, The Indian Express (April 12, 2019).
  6. N Ram, Investigative reports by N Ram on the Rafale deal, The Hindu (March-April 2019).
  7. The Editor, Rafale rebuff, The Hindu (April 11, 2009).
  • Justice Pradeep Nandrajog appointed as Chief Justice of Bombay High Court
Former Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, Justice Pradeep Nandrajog has been transferred to Bombay High Court as its new Chief Justice. His predecessor, Justice Naresh Harishchandra Patil retired on 6th April. Earlier, it was reported that the Supreme Court collegium had taken a decision to elevate Justice Nandrajog to the Supreme Court. However,  Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sanjiv Khanna were later elevated to the Supreme Court. In a recent judgement, Chief Justice Nandrajog directed the UTs to declare Good Friday as a gazetted holiday.

Further Reading:
  1. Bar and Bench Staff, Justice Pradeep Nandrajog takes oath as Chief Justice of Bombay High Court , Bar and Bench (April 7, 2019).
  2. Live Law News Network, SC Collegium Recommends Transfer Of Rajasthan HC Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog To Bombay HC, Live Law (March 29, 2019).
  3. PTI, Justice Nandrajog Sworn In As Chief Justice Of Bombay High Court , Bloomberg Quint (April 7, 2019).
  4. Scroll Staff, ‘Not unusual to overlook seniority in appointment of judges’, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi tells NDTV, (February 18, 2019).
  5. Ashok Bagriya, Why Supreme Court collegium elevated Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Hindustan Times (January 22, 2019).
  6. Live Law News Network, Bombay HC Directs UTs To Declare Good Friday As Gazetted Holiday, Live Law (April 15, 2019).
  • Manipur High Court revokes detention of journalist under National Security Act
Kishorchandra Wangkhem, a Manipur journalist, was detained on November 24, 2018 after he uploaded a video on Facebook, severely criticising the BJP-led state government and its leaders. He was arrested for sedition under the National Security Act and his release order came 10 days ahead of the elections to the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha. The High Court quashed the detention order due to the dealing authority’s failure in supplying Wangkhem with copies of the Facebook post and the CD containing the videos uploaded by him. This deprived him of the opportunity to make an effective representation against the detention order. American Bar Association Centre for Human Rights (ABACHR) had issued a statement condemning his imprisonment and asserted that the detention is against the freedom of expression and freedom from arbitrary detention.

Further Reading:
  1. Varun Nambiar, Indian court orders release of journalist detained under National Security Act, Jurist (April 09, 2019).
  2. Amrita Nayak Dutta, Manipur journalist arrested under NSA for posting video criticising BJP govt, The Print (December 01, 2018).
  3. Soibam Rocky Singh, What is National Security Act? , The Hindu (Feburary 16, 2019).
  4. The Wire Staff, Manipuri Journalist Jailed Under NSA Seriously Ill, Being Treated at Local Hospital  , The Wire (March 22, 2019).
  5. Live Law News Network, Manipur Journalist's Detention Under NSA Violates India's International Law Obligations: American Bar Association  , Live Law (April 6, 2019).
  6. Prasanta Mazumdar, After release from jail, Manipur scribe says one need not bow and say sorry for some truth one has spoken out, The Indian Express (April 10, 2019).
  7. Sumir Karmakar, ‘My fight is for secularism and freedom of speech’, Deccan Herald (April 15, 2019).
  • Jamaican Supreme Court declares National Identification System unconstitutional
The Supreme Court of Jamaica declared that the Jamaican National Identification and Registration Act is unconstitutional and void. The full court, presided by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, extensively relied on Justice DY Chandrachud’s dissenting opinion in the Aadhaar verdict. The Government of Jamaica had developed a National Identification System (NIDS), to provide a structure for the storage of personal identity information for citizens and permanent residents, and in furtherance of this, passed the National Identification and Registration Bill in 2017. The Court declared the Act unconstitutional due to the dangers of a “big brother state” posed by the programme.

Further Reading:
  1. Ashok Kini, Jamaican SC Quotes Justice Chandrachud's Dissent to Strike Down Aadhaar-Like Programme, The Wire (April 13, 2019).
  2. The Staff, Frequently Asked Questions on Jamaica’s National Identification System: Know The Facts, Official Jamaican NIDS Website.
  3. AI Miller, NIDS: Good or Evil? Jamaica Observer (December 3, 2017).
  4. Gautam Bhatia, The Afterlife of the Aadhaar Dissent: The Jamaican Supreme Court Strikes Down a National Biometric Identification System, Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy (April 13, 2019).
  5. Why we are not gleeful about Constitutional Court ruling on NIDS, Jamaica Observer (April 18, 2019).
  6. Editorial | NIDS Ruling Breaks New Ground, The Gleaner (April 16, 2019).
  • Post-conviction mental illness mitigating factor for commuting death sentence: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court held that post conviction mental illness is a mitigating factor while considering appeals of death convicts. The three-judge bench laid down the principle while commuting the death penalty of a person to life imprisonment. The person was convicted of the rape and murder of two minor girls. However, the Court cautioned against the utilization of this principle to escape capital punishment even when the aliment is not of grave severity.

Further Reading:
  1. Ritika Jain, SC allows post-conviction mental illness to be a factor in deciding death penalty appeals, The Print (April 16, 2019).
  2. The Staff, India’s history of capital punishment in the last decade, India Today (July 30, 2015).
  3. Aditi Agarwal, Death Penalty: An Overview of Indian Cases, Lawctopus (September 2, 2014).
  4. Prachi Bharadwaj, Post-conviction mental health and its effect on sentencing, SCC Online (April 17, 2019).
  5. Research Staff, Death Penalty India Report, NLU Delhi (March 2019).
  • No interim stay on electoral bonds by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court recently turned down the plea for interim stay on electoral bonds. Additionally, it directed the political parties to furnish details of the identity of the donors and donations received through this instrument in a sealed cover by 30th May. The Court directed the Election Commission of India to keep the record of money and the Finance Ministry to reduce the window of purchasing the bonds from 10 days to 5 days during April-May. The Attorney General of India defended the government by remarking that it is not the voter’s concern to know where the money comes from.

Further Reading:
  1. Mehal Jain, SC Directs Political Parties To Submits The Details Of All Donations Received Through Electoral Bonds To Election Commission By May 30, Live Law (April 12, 2019).
  2. Navmi Krishna, The Hindu Explains: What is an electoral bond and how do we get one?, The Hindu (January 04, 2018).
  3. Express News Service, What political parties earned through electoral bonds in 2017-18, The Indian Express (April 15, 2019).
  4. Dilsher Dhillon, There are two ways in which India's electoral bonds can be misused, Business Insider (March 28, 2019).
  5. Krishnadas Rajagopal, Electoral bonds protect donors: Centre, The Hindu (April 04, 2019).
  6. The Wire Staff, It Is Not a Voter's Concern Where Political Parties' Money Comes From, AG Tells SC , The Wire (April 11, 2019).
  7. DH News Service, Electoral Bonds: SC has failed us, Deccan Herald (April 15, 2019).
  8.  The Wire Analysis, Supreme Court’s Interim Order on Electoral Bonds Inconsistent with Two Laws , The Wire (April 13, 2019).
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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Law and Other Things · NALSAR University of Law · Hyderabad, 500101 · India

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