Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of Hrishikesh Roy and A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, JJ. allowed a civil writ petition praying for a direction to use only eco-friendly materials for the purpose of advertisement during the ongoing election campaign in Kerala.

The instant PIL was filed seeking prohibition on the usage of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) flex boards in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, by political parties/ candidates. Submission of learned counsel Mr M.Kannan, appearing for the petitioner, was that PVC is a major pollutant and its use for flex boards would negate the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, Plastic Waste Management Rotes, 2016, and also the rights of citizens to a clean and safe environment under Articles 21 and 48-A of the Constitution of India.

Learned counsel Mr Murali Purushothaman representing the Election Commission of India produced a copy of communication dated 26-02-2019, whereby all recognised National/State political parties were directed to make the forthcoming election eco-friendly, and opt for the elimination of single-use plastic materials in the election campaign.

The Court took note of submissions on behalf of both the counsels and also noted that this Court, in a separate proceeding, had issued direction for removal of unauthorised PVC flex boards within the limits of various local authorities in the State. In view thereof, the Court directed all candidates and National/State political parties to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Election Commission and not use PVC flex boards and other such non-bio-degradable material during the election campaign.[B.S. Syamkumar v. State of Kerala, WP(C) No 7193 of 2019 (S), Order dated 11-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Hrishikesh Roy, CJ. and Jayasankaran Nambiar, J., framed suggestions with regard to fixing of compensation for flood-affected victims of the State of Kerala.

The writ petition by way of PIL was filed with regard to the absence of any specific and uniform criteria for ascertaining the adequate amount of compensation to be granted by the respondent to the flood-affected victims of the State. It has been highlighted that the Kerala State Legal Services Authority would act as a catalyst to this process by enhancing effective and equitable distribution of compensation among the victims.

The orders issued by the respondent under the Disaster Management Department marks for the preliminary compensation amount with respect to affected residential houses based on the level of inundation with respect to every individual house.

Henceforth the Court suggested that a uniform formula that takes into account such factors that are applicable in common to the different categories of persons must be applied. These factors shall include the level of inundation, the extent of holding of a person in that area and improvements made in the said holding etc. and shall be applied irrespective of nature of holding of the victim or his income level. The minimum compensation that was common to all victims shall be paid to the identified victim solely based on his claim presented with response to the published formula devoid of any further scrutiny as to its genuineness by the respondent. Further the victims shall be compensated with respect to their individual losses determined on case to case basis backed by a proof as to the amount of loss sustained by each victim and as a result it would ensure greater transparency with regard to this additional compensation plus the victims would be spared from running behind authorities for the same. Also, this additional compensation has to be decided to keep in consideration different categories of flood victims i.e. householders, businessman, farmers etc. based on nature and extent of the loss suffered by them.

Accordingly, the method to be adopted by the respondent in deciding the amount of compensation shall be submitted to the court within 10 days from the date of judgment.[P.K. Firoz v. State of Kerala, W.P (C) No. 29127 of 2018, order dated 04-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ, allowed an appeal pertaining to an FIR filed against the petitioner’s in regard to a song named “Manikya Malaraya Poovi” been picturised in a manner that offends the sentiments of a particular community.

The present petition was filed by the actor, producer and director of the movie “Oru Adaar Love” in regard to a prayer being placed saying that no FIR should be entertained or any criminal complaint under Section 200 IPC for the picturization of the song “Manikya Malaraya Poovi”.

The contention as submitted before the Court by the petitioners was that the song is a traditional Muslim song of Kerala and they cannot be made liable for the same. The allegation in regard to the song was that it offends the sentiments of a particular community and that is the reason an FIR against it was filed under Section 295A. Further, it was submitted that the issue is not the song, it is the manner in which it has been picturized.

The bench while giving due consideration to the submissions of the parties along with the facts of the case, concluded its decision for the appeal by stating that on referring to Ramji Lal Modi v. State of U.P., AIR 1957 SC 620, it is clear that the above-stated Section 295 A IPC would not get attracted in the present matter. Further, the Court stated that solely because of the ‘wink’ picturization in the song would not amount to attempting to insult the religion or religious beliefs of a class of citizens and certainly the petitioners had no calculated intention to do the same. Therefore, the appeal was allowed with direction of no further FIRs to be entertained for the stated matter. [Priya Prakash Varrier v. State of Telangana, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1289, Order dated 31-08-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): Circuit Bench of NGT at Kochi has directed that no diesel vehicle aged more than 10 years shall be allowed to ply in major cities of Kerala like Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur. In addition, the tribunal also temporarily banned registration of new diesel vehicles over 2,000CC and only vehicles for public transport and those to be used by local authorities have been exempted in the order. NGT issued the said interim order while hearing a petition filed by Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum. “We direct that all the diesel vehicles whether light or heavy which are more than 10 years shall not be permitted to ply on the roads in the major cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur,” NGT noted. The Tribunal further added that upon expiry of 30 days from May 23, 2016, i.e. the date of issuance of the said interim order, if any vehicle is found to be violating this direction, it shall pay Rs. 5000 as environmental compensation and this will be collected by traffic police or pollution control board. “The State Pollution Control Board shall maintain a separate account in this behalf. The Fund so collected shall be spent only for betterment of environment in these cities (where the ban would be in force),” the Tribunal directed. In its order, NGT also referred to orders passed by its larger bench in Vardhman Kaushik v. Union of India, 2014 SCC OnLine NGT 2365, by which all vehicles aged over 15 years were banned from the roads in Delhi. While concluding the order, NGT directed the State of Kerala to inform the availability of CNG gas for running of vehicles in the entire State. [Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum v. State of Kerala, 2016 SCC OnLine NGT 163, dated: May 23, 2016]