Welcome to our Monthly Legal Updates, where we provide you with a concise overview of the most significant legal developments in India from the past month.
In this edition, we will cover a range of topics, including the Supreme Court's power to dissolve marriages under Article 142, the jurisdiction of the Delhi government over "services," the importance of ensuring the constitution of Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) under the POSH Act and so many more.
So, let's dive deep into it!
Landmark Legal Judgments of May 2023
1. The Supreme Court can dissolve the marriage by invoking Article 142
Case Title- Shilpa Sailesh v. Varun Sreenivasan and ors., SC, 2023
Facts- A reference was made to a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court to decide whether the Supreme Court can invoke Article 142 to grant a divorce on a ground which is not statutorily recognized.
Judgment- The Apex Court ruled that it can use its special powers under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution to grant a divorce based on the grounds of irretrievable marriage breakdown, even if it is not currently recognized as a statutory ground. The Court also held that it has the authority to waive the waiting period for divorce through mutual consent as mentioned under section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act.
However, the Court clarified that seeking dissolution of marriage directly through a writ petition is not permitted.
2. Delhi Govt Has Control Over "Services" Excluding Public Order, Police & Land: SC
Case Name - Government of NCT of Delhi vs Union of India, 2023, SC
Facts- In February 2019, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court dealt with the issue of who has control over Services- The government of NCT of Delhi or the Lieutenant Governor. The Court gave a split verdict. In 2022- a three-Judge Bench referred the issue to a Constitution Bench.
Judgment- The Supreme Court held that the National Capital Territory of Delhi has the authority to legislate and execute administrative services within the National Capital, with the exception of public order, police, and land-related matters. Further, the Court also stated that the Lieutenant Governor must adhere to the decisions of the Delhi government concerning services, except in cases relating to public order, police, and land.
3. SC's Verdict on Shiv Sena V. Shiv Sena
Case Name- Subhash Desai v. Principal Secretary, Governor of Maharashtra And Ors., 2023, SC
Facts- Mr Uddhav Thackeray, leader of Shiv Sena and head of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on Nov 28, 2019, as part of the alliance between Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, and Indian National Congress. However, on Jun 21, 2022, a group of MLAs led by Mr Eknath Shinde expressed their lack of confidence in the MVA alliance and CM Thackeray. Disqualification proceedings were initiated against the rebel group, and Mr Shinde approached the Supreme Court on Jun 26, 2022, challenging the proceedings. The Court refused to stay the floor test on Jun 29, and CM Thackeray resigned without facing it. The case was referred to a 5-Judge Constitution Bench.
Judgment- The Supreme Court ruled that it could not order the restoration of the Uddhav Thackeray government because he resigned before facing a floor test. As Thackeray resigned voluntarily, the Court upheld the Governor's decision to invite Ekanth Shinde to form the government with BJP support.
4. SC upheld the validity of the practice of Jallikattu
Case Name- The Animal Welfare Board of India And Ors. v. UoI And Anr., SC, 2023
Facts- Jallikattu is a traditional sport in Tamil Nadu held during the Pongal festival. In this sport, Bulls are released, and participants try to grab their hump while they attempt to escape. In the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v A. Nagaraja,2014, the Supreme Court banned the use of bulls in Jallikattu and bullock cart races across India. In 2016, the Tamil Nadu govt. enacted the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, to legalize bovine sports, including Jallikattu, and several state governments passed similar amendment acts to legalize Bullock Cart Race like Kambala. These Amendment acts were challenged in this case.
Judgment- The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the amendments made by the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Additionally, the Court stated that the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act does not violate the principles established in the A. Nagaraja judgment. The Court opined that the shortcomings identified in the aforementioned judgment had been addressed and rectified by the State Amendment Act.
5. Supreme Court issued directions for the proper implementation POSH Act
Case Name- Aureliano Fernandes Versus State Of Goa And Others, 2023, SC
Facts- The appellant, who was appointed as the Head of the Department of Political Science at Goa University, faced allegations of physical harassment by two girl students. An inquiry conducted by the university's Standing Committee found the appellant guilty and recommended his termination. Despite the appellant's appeals to the Appellate Authority and the High Court, his dismissal was upheld, leading to the appeal before the Supreme Court.
Judgment- The Supreme Court of India issued a series of directions to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, commonly known as the POSH Act, across the nation.
The Supreme Court criticized the Committee for rushing the inquiry and compromising the appellant's right to a fair hearing. The Court overturned the termination of the appellant's services and sent the case back to the Complaints Committee.
Further, the Apex Court directed the Union Government, State Governments, and Union Territories to verify whether all Ministries, Departments and other government bodies have established committees where victims of sexual harassment can register their complaints. The Court also mandated that professional statutory bodies such as the Bar Council of India, the National Medical Commission, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India establish similar committees.
Top Legal Events of May 2023
The Battle between Delhi Govt v. LG continues
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the Government of NCT of Delhi has authority over administrative services. However, after the judgement, the Central Government issued an ordinance, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, which established the National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) and gave the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) final decision-making authority. As a result, the effect of the Supreme Court's judgment is nullified.
Full strength in the Supreme Court
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud swore in two Justices, Prashant Kumar Mishra and K.V. Viswanathan, restoring the Supreme Court to its complete strength of 34 judges. The Collegium had proposed their appointment to the Supreme Court on May 16, and the Central Government approved the recommendation within 48 hours.
Justice Viswanathan has been promoted from the legal profession to the Supreme Court Bench, while Justice Mishra previously served as the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court before being appointed to the Supreme Court.
Kiren Rijiju replaced as Law Minister
Arjun Ram Meghwal has replaced Kiren Rijiju as the Union Minister for Law and Justice. Meghwal will now also be in charge of the Ministry of Law and Justice alongside his current roles. Kiren Rijiju, who previously held the Law Minister position, has been given the responsibility of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
SC reserved verdict on recognition of same-sex marriage
The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has concluded the hearing on petitions that advocate for legal recognition of same-sex marriages. The Bench, after hearing the arguments for ten days, has reserved its verdict.
The petitioners sought an amendment to the Special Marriage Act (SMA) of 1954 to provide legal recognition to same-sex marriages. On the other hand, the Center argued that the legislature should address this matter rather than the judiciary. They have taken the stance that it is best to leave the decision in the hands of the lawmakers.
NCLT Admits Go Airlines' Petition
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted Go Airlines (India) Limited into Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) and appointed an Interim Resolution Professional (IRP). The NCLT appointed the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) and directed him to prevent employee retrenchment unless necessary and to inform the NCLT of any such decisions & imposed a moratorium.
Go Airlines (India) Limited, operating under the brand name 'Go Air', is the third largest airline in India with a significant number of employees and critical operations at various airports. The company faced challenges due to defective engines supplied by Pratt & Whitney (P&W), resulting in grounded aircraft and non-compliance with arbitration awards. As a result, the company had to cancel numerous flights and decided to initiate CIRP voluntarily on May 2, 2023
These judgments have played a crucial role in shaping and interpreting the law in India. Being aware of these judgments is important as they have far-reaching implications on various legal matters. It is important to stay informed about these landmark judgments to understand the evolving legal framework and its implications.