Legal Updates

16th April to 30th April
Issue 22
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  • Madras High Court upheld the validity of the marriage of a man and a transwoman
Madras High Court upheld the validity of the marriage between a cisgender man and a transgender woman under Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956. Rejecting the State’s contention that a transgender woman would not come within the purview “Bride” under the Act, the court held that Bride includes intersex or transgender person who identifies as woman, and that what needs to be considered is how a person perceives herself. The court placed reliance on National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India judgment, wherein the Supreme Court upheld the right of transgender people to be identified by their self-identified gender. The court also directed the Tamil Nadu Government to issue orders to effectively ban sex reassignment surgeries on infants.

Further Reading:
  1. Manasa Rao, Madras HC shuts down TN govt’s problematic argument, upholds trans woman’s marriage, The News Mint (23 April 2019).
  2. Staff, Chennai: Transwoman officiates another’s temple wedding, Deccan Chronicle (1 November 2018).
  3. Varun Nambiar, India court upholds transgender marriage rights, Jurist (24 April 2019).
  4. Jashodhara Mukherjee, How Mahabharata's Shikhandi and Krishna Helped Madras HC Uphold 'Transwoman Also a Bride', News18 (24 April 2019).
  5. Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan, ‘Transjudgment’ could be epochal, Deccan Chronicle (30 April 2019).
  • Iran passed bill labeling the United States armed forces as a terrorist organization
Iran lawmakers passed a bill that labels the United States Army’s Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organization. This was in response to the United States’ labeling of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as terrorist organization earlier in April, the first time that the United States recognized a country’s armed forces as a terrorist outfit. This label resulted in a wide-range of economic and travel sanctions on Iran, which add up to a large number of sanctions that Iran already faces. The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister was quoted saying that the reciprocal designation of the armies of the two countries as terrorist organization might escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf or any other regions, and the United States shall be responsible for the same.

Further Reading:
  1. Reuters, Iran designates as terrorists all U.S. troops in Middle East, Reuters (30 April 2019).
  2. Edward Wong and Eric Schmitt, Trump Designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a Foreign Terrorist Group, The New York Times (8 April 2019).
  3. Zak Doffman, Iran Warns U.S. Of 'Dangerous Consequences' As Saudi Arabia And Israel Back U.S. Move, Forbes (9 April 2019).
  4. Editors, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Council on Foreign Relations (6 May 2019).
  5. Nick Wadhams, Margaret Talev and Bloomberg, Why Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Was Just Labeled a Terrorist Organization by the U.S., Fortune (9 April 2019).v
  6. F. Brinley Bruton and Ali Arouzi, Designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard as terror group could jeopardize U.S. troops, News (13 April 2019).
  7. Natasha Turak, How Trump’s terrorist designation of Iran’s revolutionary guard impacts its economy, CNBC (12 April 2019).
  • Madras High Court imposed restrictions on the powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry
The Madras HC ruled that the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry “cannot interfere” in the day-to-day affairs of the elected government of the Union Territory. The decision was the outcome of a challenge to two clarificatory orders issued by the Central Government. The clarificatory orders had conveyed to the administration of Puducherry that the Lieutenant Governor could act without the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers. The Court expressed however, that Article 239A of the Indian Constitution symbolizes the supremacy of the Legislature above (over) the Administrator (Lieutenant Governor) of the Union Territory. In consonance with this view, the Court invalidated the clarificatory orders and pronounced that the secretaries and other officials of Puducherry were bound by the decisions taken by the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers. After the verdict, Lieutenant-Governor Kiran Bedi said that her team was examining the judgment. A day after the decision, she released an open letter to the people of Puducherry listing out the activities undertaken by her in the last three years. Meanwhile, Chief Minister V. Narayanaswamy welcomed the judgment and later demanded the resignation of the Lieutenant Governor.

Further Reading:
  1. Mohammed S. Imranullah, Madras High Court curbs L-G role in Puducherry administration, The Hindu (April 30, 2019).
  2. Scroll Staff, Madras HC says L-G Kiran Bedi can’t interfere in affairs of Puducherry government, (April 30, 2019).
  3. Editorial, Powershift: on tussle between Puducherry Lt. Governor and Chief Minister, The Hindu, (May 02, 2019).
  4. DH News Service, Sensible ruling by Madras HC, Deccan Herald (May 06, 2019).
  5. Editorial, Put in Place, Nagaland Post (May 06, 2019).
  6. Shruthi Radakrishnan, The Hindu Explains: The powers of Governors and Lt. Governors, The Hindu (June 25, 2018).
  7. M. Dinesh Varma, Battleground Puducherry, The Hindu (February 23, 2019).
  8. R.K. Radhakrishnan, Parallel Power, Frontline (August 08, 2018).
  • Ugandan Supreme Court upheld the validity of a constitutional amendment removing Presidential age limits
The Supreme Court of Uganda upheld the validity of a constitutional amendment which removed the requirement for candidates to be under the age of seventy-five in order to contest for the post of President. Chief Justice Katureebe, Justices Tumwesigye, Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza, Opio-Aweri and Mwangusya comprised the majority and delivered separate opinions. They agreed with the decision of the Court of Appeal and reiterated that the restriction on age for the President did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution of Uganda. Chief Justice Katureebe explained that the “restriction on age is like a roof or shutter of a house; very important on the house but can be changed without altering the basic structure of the house.” The Supreme Court extensively discussed Keshavnanda Bharti and Minerva Mills to determine whether the age limit for the presidency forms a part of the basic structure of the Constitution of Uganda.

Further Reading:
  1. Carrie Thompson, Uganda Supreme Court upholds legislation removing presidential age limit, Jurist (April 19, 2019).
  2. URN, Updated: Supreme Court quashes age limit appeal,The Observer (April 18, 2019).
  3. Kalundi Serumaga, Death by Ink: How Uganda’s Constitution Has Broken the Country, Elephant (May 2, 2019).
  4. Anthony Wesaka, What is at stake in age limit judgment, Daily Monitor (April 18, 2019).
  5. Ivan Okuda, Uganda’s age limit ruling: A thin line between politics and law, The Citizen (August 1, 2018)
  6. A.G Noorani, Behind the ‘basic structure’ doctrine, Frontline (April 28, 2001).
  7. Suhrith Parthasarthy, Legitimacy of the Basic Structure, The Hindu (February 04, 2019).
  • National Green Tribunal directed the Central Pollution Control Board to restrict the import of plastic waste
The National Green Tribunal directed the Central Pollution Control Board to ensure that the Board’ recommendations on plastic waste management and the restrictions imposed on the import of plastic waste are implemented. This direction was the outcome of the Tribunal considering whether cheap waste paper and road sweep waste should be imported for the firing of brick kilns.  The judgment notes that the  Pollution Control Board suggested that the import of plastic waste required restrictions as the country itself generates 26,000 tonnes a day, most of which is not disposed of correctly. The applicant Amit Jain contended that India imports 9,00,000 tonnes of plastic waste even after the ban on import. Plastic waste is considered to be an ecological threat due to its non-recyclability and indestructability. The tribunal further directed producers, importers and brand owners to follow the ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ guidelines to ensure proper waste disposal. ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ is a strategy used by countries to assign to disposal of waste to the manufacturers of the waste.

Further Reading:
  1. Staff, Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding import of cheap waste paper for firing brick kilns, Indian Environment Portal (April 30, 2019).
  2. Jacob Koshy, Plastic waste imports to India go up: report, The Hindu (January 21, 2019).
  3. Amrit B.L.S., How Are India’s Plastic Waste Imports Increasing?The Wire (January 23, 2019).
  4. Banjot Kaur, With China banning import of plastic waste, who will bear the burden of recycling word’s toxic scrap? DownToEarth (March 12, 2019).
  5. Staff, What do we mean by extended producer responsibility for waste, Weelogic.
  6. Robbie Staniforth, A better model for Extended Producer Responsibility, (April 15, 2019).
  7. Praveen Bhargav, Everything you need to know about the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Conservation India (May 02, 2011).
  • Supreme Court banned mining and construction activities in areas around Kaziranga National Park
The Supreme Court banned mining and related activities along the Kaziranga National Park and  in the catchment area of the rivers which flow into the park. A bench comprising of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Deepak Gupta further restrained any new construction on private lands which fall within the nine identified animal corridors. This order came in light of an application moved by environment activist Rohit Choudhury in an effort to conserve the wildlife of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Recently, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the demolition of a wall constructed in an elephant corridor close to Kaziranga as a part of Miniratna PSU Numaligarh Refinery project.

Further Reading:
  1. PTI, SC Bans Mining Activities Along Kaziranga National Park, The Wire (17 April 2019).
  2. Rajat Ghai, Assam bans mining in Kaziranga after Supreme Court order, Down To Earth (03 May 2019).
  3. Naresh Mitra, Kaziranga bearing the brunt of stone quarrying in Karbi Hills, The Times of India (09 April 2019).
  4. Rahul Karmakar, Quarrying doom foreseen in Kaziranga, The Hindu (08 July 2019).
  5. Nikhil M. Ghanekar, Assam Forest Department recommends closure of mines next to Kaziranga, Daily News and Analysis (6 July 2018).
  6. Rajat Ghai, Elephants have first right on forest, says SC while ordering demolition of Numaligarh Refinery wall, Down To Earth (20 January 2019).
  • Supreme Court allowed plea against the prohibition on women’s entry in Mosques
Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition filed by a Muslim couple. The petition seeks to declare the practice of prohibiting entry of women in Mosques as unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution. Supreme Court served notices upon Central Government, Waqf Board and All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The petition draws heavily from the Sabarimala verdict which removed the ban on women entry into the Sabarimala temple. It contends that Muslim personal laws do not impose any restriction on women’s entry in mosques, and there is evidence that women were allowed entry in mosques even at the time of Prophet Mohammed. Further, it argues that the constitutional goal of uniform civil code is still evasive, as courts and the legislature have failed to ensure equality and dignity of Muslim women in particular.

Further Reading:
  1. LiveLaw News Network, Muslim Couple Approach SC For Women's Rights To Prayer In All Mosques In Mixed-Gender Congregational Lines [Read Petition], (15 April 2019).
  2. Legal Correspondent, Supreme Court seeks Centre’s reply on Muslim women's mosque entry, The Telegraph, (17 April 2019).
  3. Scroll Staff, Supreme Court allows plea seeking women’s entry into mosques ‘because of Sabarimala verdict’, (16 April 2019).
  4. Kerala Muslim women forum to move SC seeking right to pray in mosques, The Hindu (11 October 2018).
  5. Ramesh Babu, Kerala HC dismisses plea to allow women in mosques on pattern of Sabarimala verdict, Hindustan Times (11 October 2018).
  6. Xi Lucy Shi, India Supreme Court to consider plea on women in mosques, Jurist (17 April 2019).
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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