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Legal Updates

1st December to 15th December
{2018}
Issue 17
Hi, welcome to our legal newsletter, we publish this newsletter fortnightly.
  • Supreme Court dismisses petitions seeking investigations in the Rafale deal
The Apex Court dismissed petitions seeking court-monitored probe into the allegations of corruption in the deal. The Court refused to employ its powers of judicial review to intervene in the deal's decision-making process, stating that judicial review is constricted in matters of defense procurements and inter-governmental agreements that may be vital to national security. The Court acknowledged that the vendor, Dassault Aviation, chose its own Indian Offset Partner (IOP). Hence, there was no substance to the allegation that the government showed any "commercial favoritism" as the choice of IOP was not in the government's hands. Soon after the judgment, a controversy arose over a statement in the verdict which said that a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the pricing of the fighter jets “has been” examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Opposition leaders said there was no report on the deal yet and alleged that the government had misled the court. While the opposition demanded that the case be heard again, the government denied the allegations and pointed out that “is” in its note was replaced with “has been” in the judgment and hence sought necessary corrections in the judgment.

Further Reading:
  1. Krishnadas Rajagopal, Rafale case: SC refuses to intervene in jets procurement, The Hindu (December 15, 2018).
  2. Live Law News Network, Only Limited Degree Of Judicial Review Possible In Defence Contracts, SC In Rafale Case, Live Law (December 14, 2018).
  3. Ananthakrishnan G, Rafale Judgment-Govt asks SC to correct gives it a grammar guide, The Indian Express (December18, 2018).
  4. The Wire Analysis, Rafale Deal: Nine Questions the Supreme Court Verdict Leaves Unanswered, The Wire (December 14, 2018).
  5. The Wire Staff, Guide to the Issues, (December 14, 2018).
  6. Manu Sebastian, Rafale verdict-flawed, confused, contradictory, Live Law (December 15,2018).
  • Supreme Court approves Witness Protection Scheme, 2018
The Supreme Court has approved Centre’s Draft Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 and has directed the State and Central governments to enforce the same till the enactment of a suitable parliamentary and/or State legislation on the subject. The Court noted that lack of requisite protection by the State was one of the core reasons for the witnesses turning hostile. A divisional bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer was hearing a petition filed by witnesses in the rape case against Godman Asaram Bapu. The Court also directed States and Union Territories to set up vulnerable witness deposition complexes in district courts.

Further Reading:
  1. Soibam Rocky Singh, India gets first witness protection scheme, The Hindu (December 5, 2018).
  2. Web Team, With SC nod, India gets witness protection scheme; here are the highlights, Business Standard (December 6, 2018).
  3. Express News Service, Shielding witnesses: on protection scheme, The Hindu (December 7, 2018).
  4. Faizan Mustafa, From Jessica Lal’s case to Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s, why witness protection in India remains vexed, The Indian Express (November 2, 2018).
  • Supreme Court directs framing and implementation of guidelines/SOP to eliminate child pornography and rape videos
The Apex Court directed that the Centre to frame the required guidelines/Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and implement them within a period of two weeks in order to eliminate child pornography and rape videos. The case arose out of suo moto cognizance taken by the Court of a letter sent to Former Chief Justice of India, H.L.Dattu, by Prajwala, an Hyderabad based NGO. Previously, on October 22, the court had directed that the government finalise the guidelines by November 15, 2018 and observed that improvements could be continued to be made even after that. The Court had also observed that internet giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft were in agreement that such objectionable material needed to be stamped out.

Further Reading:
  1. Apoorv Mahanadi, Frame Guidelines/SOP To Eliminate Child Pornography, Rape Videos & Implement Within 2 Weeks: SC, Live Law(December 12, 2018).
  2. Press Trust of India, Govt may frame norms to eliminate online child pornography, rape videos: SC, Business Standard (December 11,2018).
  3. Press Trust of India, Centre, Google, FB, WhatsApp agree to stamp out rape, child porn videos: SC, Business Standard (December 6, 2018).
  • European Court of Justice: UK can unilaterally halt Brexit
The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that a Member State i.e. UK has the freedom to unilaterally revoke its notification of intention to withdraw from the European Union. The Court observed that a unilateral revocation of notification under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union; a status neither suspended nor altered by that notification. It also added that such a revocation should be decided following a democratic process and in accordance with national constitutional requirements. The judgement closely followed the non-binding opinion released by the Court’s Advocate General last week. However, the impact of this decision may be minimal as the UK government has shown little interest in pursuing this option.

Further Reading:
  1. Reuters, Ahead of vote, EU’s top court says UK can unilaterally stop Brexit, The Hindu (December 10, 2018).
  2. Severin Carrell, Brexit: May rules out revoking article 50 after ECJ ruling, The Guardian (December 10, 2018).
  3. Kenneth Armstrong, Sovereign Choices: The CJEU’s Ruling on Exit from Brexit, Verfassungsblog (December 10, 2018).
  4. Chloé Brière, The Advocate-General Opinion In Wightman: Article 50 Notification To Withdraw From The European Union Is Unilaterally Revocable, European Law Blog (December 6, 2018).
We thank Gayatri Gupta and Chittkrishna Thakkar for their assistance in collating the data, and Benjamin Vanlalvena for designing this newsletter.
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