Legal News from the Companies
PSU National Aluminium Company (Nalco) has moved the Supreme Court against the Odisha HC’s March order that allowed Vedanta’s Jharsuguda unit to participate in its tender for the sale of surplus 30,000 metric tonnes of metallurgical grade calcined alumina.
Nalco, the leading producer of low-cost metallurgical grade alumina in the world, while opposing Vedanta’s participation told the Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde that as per its policy, the tender for alumina exports can be issued only to overseas customers and, therefore, Vedanta cannot participate in the tender.
Senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Nalco, alleged that “Vedanta wants to finish Nalco” by not allowing the PSU to export calcina.
Lead Legal Stories from Around the World
As many as 368 women lawyers and legal professionals, many of them partners at the USA’s top-10 law firms and counsel to Fortune 100 companies, filed an ‘amicus brief’ in the country’s top court narrating the circumstances behind their decisions to terminate their pregnancies and the effects that the abortions had on their lives.
The women said they were compelled to tell the nation’s highest court their abortion stories in their bid to end the restrictions placed by way of laws on women’s right to make their own reproductive choices.
The Supreme Court had on December 5 agreed to hear a restrictive abortion law in the state of Louisiana. The country is affected by controversial abortion-related laws passed due to conservative politicians and pro-life lobbying groups.
An Indian-origin couple based in Berkshire, UK has been awarded £120,000 in damages after a judge ruled that they were discriminated against on the basis of race by not being allowed to adopt a child.
Sandeep and Reena Mander had their application to join a register of approved adopters turned down because of their Indian ancestry, and were told their chances would be improved if they looked to adopt in India or Pakistan.
Three men who were convicted of theft nearly 50 years ago in the UK have finally had their names cleared with the Lord Chief Justice saying, “Our regret is that it has taken so long for this injustice to be remedied.”
The men were arrested in March 1972 by a group of undercover police officers at the Oval Underground station in London. They were beaten in the police cells and then charged with attempting to steal, theft, and assault of the police.
Latest Indian Legal Stories of the week
The Supreme Court on December 6 came down upon the Central government for delaying the appointment of high court judges recommended by the CJI-led collegium.
A bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph said that once the recommended names were reiterated, it was a “fait accompli” for the government to make the appointments. The bench said three Supreme Court judgments make it clear that the Centre has no option but to appoint the judges if the collegium reiterates them.
The government had earlier returned around 100-odd suggested names with objections. The collegium, however, reiterated those names.
Observing that a live-in relationship between two adults is not deemed to be an offence, the Madras High Court has said that the occupation of a hotel room by such unmarried couples will not attract a criminal offence.
Justice M S Ramesh made the observations on December 6 while directing authorities to de-seal a hire service apartment in Coimbatore, which was closed after a police and revenue team conducted a search following complaints of alleged “immoral activities” and found an unmarried couple and some liquor bottles in a room there in June this year.
The government has moved the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) against an order passed by NCLT to make the Ministry of Corporate Affairs a party in all applications filed under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) as well as the Companies Act.
In a petition moved through the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the government said the order passed by the Delhi-based Principal Bench of the National Companies Law tribunal (NCLT) was beyond the power and jurisdiction conferred to it.
Judgment of the Week
A tendency among government agencies to hand over documents in sealed covers to courts in “every case” coupled with an inclination among judges to verbatim reproduce their contents as judicial findings to deny bail is against the right of an accused to a fair trial, the Supreme Court said in its verdict granting bail to former Union minister P Chidambaram on December 4.
A three-judge Bench led by Justice R. Banumathi, in the 37-page judgement, said that prejudging offence to deny bail is against the right of an accused to a fair trial while reacting sharply to the recent trend of agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to press on the courts documents in sealed covers as evidence collected against the accused in the course of investigation.
LQ’s Latest Supreme Court Judgments 2019
Perkins Eastman Architects DPC v. HSCC (India) Limited
[Hon’ble Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Indu Malhotra; 26-11-2019]
Person having an interest in the outcome not to have power to appoint a sole arbitrator
SC – Appointing Dr. Justice A.K. Sikri as the sole arbitrator to decide all the disputes arising out of the Agreement in question, the Hon’ble SC held that a person having an interest in the dispute or in the outcome or decision must not only be ineligible to act as an arbitrator but must also not be eligible to appoint anyone else as an arbitrator and that such person cannot and should not have any role in charting out any course to the dispute resolution by having the power to appoint an arbitrator. The essence of the amendments brought in by the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 lies in the fact that a person who has an interest in the outcome of the dispute must not have the power to appoint a sole arbitrator.
Shri Anil S/O Gajraj Mohabey v. The State Of Maharashtra Thru Secretary, Law and Justice Dept And-Anr
[Hon’ble Justices S. S.Shinde and N.B. Suryawanshi ; 25-11-2019]
Compulsory retirement from judicial service at the age of 55 by giving notice or 3 months pay legally sustainable
Bombay HC – The Bombay HC while dismissing the Writ Petition opined that the Review Committee after considering the service record of the Petitioner took a conscious decision that he lost his utility to continue in the judicial service and hence decided to retire him prematurely in public interest. The authorities have the absolute power to retire any member in the judicial service when he attains the age of either 50 or 55 or 58 years by giving him notice of not less than 3 months in writing or 3 months pay and allowances in lieu of such notice, if the authority is of the opinion that the compulsory retirement of a judicial officer is in public interest.
Nitin Bhimabhai Patel (detenu) through his wife Anvi Nitin Patel v. Union Territory Of Daman and Diu and Anr
[Hon’ble Justices S. S.Shinde and Nitin B. Suryawanshi ; 26-11-2019]
Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act – For passing detention order registration of criminal proceedings not sufficient to hold that public order is adversely affected
Bombay HC – Setting aside the detention order and directing the Petitioner to be released, the Bombay HC observed that mere registration of criminal cases is not sufficient for the detaining authority to pass detention order against a detenu by holding that the activities of the detenu are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. Section 3(4) of the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act clearly mentions that the detaining authority must get itself satisfied that the material placed before it is sufficient to demonstrate that public order is adversely affected because of detenu’s activities. Non-consideration of petitioner’s previous acquittal and a bail order would amount to non-application of mind which would vitiate the impugned orders.
Mahipal v.Rajesh Kumar@ polia
[Hon’ble Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hrishikesh Roy; 05-12-2019]
Presumption of non-application of mind if the order refusing or granting bail does not furnish the reasons that inform the decision
SC – While allowing the appeal against the order of Rajasthan HC, Jaipur Bench, the Hon’ble SC has opined that where an earlier application for bail has been rejected, there is a higher burden on the Appellate court to furnish specific reasons as to why bail should be granted. Where an order refusing or granting bail does not furnish the reasons that inform the decision, there is a presumption of the non-application of mind which may require the intervention of this Court. The Court is required to examine whether there is a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence and on a balance of the considerations involved, the continued custody of the accused sub-serves the purpose of the criminal justice system.
The Maharashtra State Co Operative Bank Ltd. Through its Deputy Manager Akshay Nagarnaik v. Babulal Lade
[Hon’ble Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Krishna Murari; 04-12-2019]
SARFAESI Act – Expressly created statutory first charges under Central and State laws can take precedence over the claims of secured creditors
SC – The Hon’ble SC while directing the Appellant-Bank to pay the employees’ dues out of the sale proceeds from the auctioned property, has observed that the recovery certificate issued under Sec. 50 of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions & Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act only makes employees’ dues recoverable as arrears of land revenue. So, such employees’ dues would fall under the category of claims captured by Section 169(2) of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, and can only take priority over unsecured claims. Expressly created statutory first charges under Central and State laws can take precedence over the claims of secured creditors under the SARFAESI Act.
The state of Telangana v. Managipet @ Mangipet Sarveshwar Reddy
[Hon’ble Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta; 06-12-2019]
Preliminary inquiry not required to be mandatorily conducted in all corruption cases
SC – In a case pertaining to the disproportionate assets of the accused officer, the Hon’ble SC held that relevant information was available with the informant in respect of prima facie allegations disclosing a cognizable offence and so, once the officer recording the FIR is satisfied with such disclosure, he can proceed against the accused even without conducting any inquiry. It cannot be said that the FIR is liable to be quashed for the reason that the preliminary inquiry was not conducted. The same can only be done if upon a reading of the entirety of an FIR, no offence is disclosed. Any formal and informal collection of information disclosing a cognizable offence to the satisfaction of the person recording the FIR is sufficient.