Hot Off The PressNews

The First Session of the Parliament after the 2019 General Elections, the most productive session in the longest time was conducted. In total 30 Bills have been passed this session in 35 sittings.

Bills passed by both the houses of the Parliament are listed below:

  1. The Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  2. The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  3. The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  4. The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019
  5. The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  6. The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  7. The Aadhar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  8. The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  9. The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  10. The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019
  11. The Appropriation (No. 2) Bill, 2019
  12. The Finance (No. 2) Bill, 2019
  13. The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  14. The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  15. The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019
  16. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019
  17. The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  18. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  19. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  20. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  21. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019
  22. The Codes on Wages, 2019
  23. The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019
  24. The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  25. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019
  26. The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019
  27. The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019
  28. The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019
  29. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019.
  30. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019

Legislations relating to almost all walks of socio and economic activities have been passed. 30 Bills have been passed by both the Houses of Parliament in this Session which is a record in single first/effective Session after the constitution of new Lok Sabha.

Most important business transacted during this Session is the abrogation of certain provisions from Article 370 and Presidential Orders thereunder.  This will ensure equal opportunities to all sections of Society in Jammu & Kashmir particularly with the restoration of applicability of the provisions of the Constitution of India and all socio-economic legislations thereby ensuring rule of law and equity.  Further, for ensuring better administration and for curbing terrorism, the State of Jammu & Kashmir has been reorganized with the formation of two Union Territories – Jammu &Kashmir and Ladakh. 

Case BriefsForeign Courts

“Rule of Law dictates that every act that is not sanctioned by the law and every act that violates the law be struck down as illegal.”

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Seven-Judge Bench comprising of H.N.J. Perera, CJ and Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira J. De Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, Prasanna Jayawardena, Vijith K. Malalgoda and Murdu N. B. Fernando, JJ. hearing a batch of fundamental right applications, unanimously held President Maithripala Sirisena’s November 2018 decision to the Parliament and hold snap elections as unconstitutional, thus ending a seven-week long constitutional crisis.

The island nation had been reeling under political crisis which began on October 26, 2018, when President Sirisena fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, a controversial former President accused of committing serious war crimes. However, when Rajapaksa could not muster a majority in Parliament, Sirisena sacked the legislature two years ahead of schedule.

In the instant petition, Petitioner, a member of the Parliament, prayed for a declaration that President Sirisena’s proclamation dated 09-11-2018 suspending the Parliament infringed his fundamental rights under Article 12(1) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka. It was contended that the said action was ex facie unlawful and in violation of Article 70 (1) of the Constitution as per which the President expressly prohibited from dissolving Parliament until the expiration of a period not less than four years and six months from the date appointed for its first meeting.

The respondent raised an objection as to the jurisdiction of Court to hear the petitions on the ground that the petitioners had not followed the specific procedure to challenge the abuse of powers by the President, viz., impeachment. The said objection was dismissed for being logically flawed as in view of dissolution, no Parliament existed in which a motion for impeachment could have been brought.

The argument regarding immunity to President’s action was dismissed stating that “the submission that…..President, in his capacity as the Head of State, has a species of inherent unrestricted omnipotent power which is akin to royal prerogative power held by a monarch, has to be emphatically rejected.”

The Court held that President’s power of summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament referred to in Article 33(2)(c) of the Constitution could be exercised only in conformity with Article 70 of the Constitution. Article 70 clearly stipulated that the President shall not dissolve Parliament during the first four and a half years from the date of its first meeting unless he is requested to do so by a resolution passed by not less than two-thirds of the members of Parliament.

In view of the above, it was held that the impugned proclamation had been issued outside legal limits and violated petitioner’s rights, both in his capacity as a parliamentarian and in the capacity of a citizen. As such, the proclamation was quashed and declared void ab initio.[Rajavarothiam Sampanthan v. Attorney General, 2018 SCC OnLine SL SC 74, decided on 13-12-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Though criminalization in politics is a bitter manifest truth, which is a termite to the citadel of democracy, be that as it may, the Court cannot make the law.

Supreme Court: CJ Dipak Misra delivered the Judgment for the 5-Judge Constitution Bench comprising of himself and R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ. wherein the Court issued certain directions while disposing the petition concerning the question whether disqualification from the membership of the legislature could be laid down by the Court beyond Article 102 (a) to (d) and the law made by the Parliament under Article 102 (e) of the Constitution.

The 3-Judge Bench which originally heard the petition was of the view that the question needs to be addressed by a Constitution Bench. Thus, the present proceedings before the 5-Judge Bench. The petitioners led by Public Interest Foundation submitted that the lawbreakers should not become law makers and there cannot be a paradise for people with criminal antecedents in the Parliament or the State Legislatures. The petitioners were attuned to the principle of presumption of innocence. But they contended that the said principle is confined to criminal law and that any proceeding prior to conviction, such as framing of charge, for instance, can become the basis to entail civil liability or penalty. The petitioners, therefore, took the stand that debarring a person facing charges of serious nature from contesting an election does not lead to creation of an offence and it is merely a restriction which is distinctively civil in nature. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal refuted the submissions and urged that the Parliament to pass a legislation and can only recommend. Further, when there are specific constitutional provisions and the statutory law, the Court should leave it to the Parliament.

The Court was of the clear opinion that it cannot legislate. The Supreme Court, at the outset, perused Articles 102 and 191 of the Constitution and observed it to be clear as crystal that as regards the disqualification for being chosen as a member of either House of Parliament and similarly for a legislative assembly or legislative council of a State, the law has to be made by the Parliament. Reference was made to Lily Thomas v. Union of India, (2013) 7 SCC 653 and the Court was of the opinion that the view expressed therein was correct, for the Parliament has the exclusive jurisdiction to lay down disqualification for membership. It was noted that apart from the grounds of disqualification as mentioned in the said Articles, Parliament has provided certain other grounds under Sections 8, 8-A, 9, 9-A, 10 and 10-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Apart from these, there are no other disqualifications and, as noticeable, there can be no other ground. Thus, disqualifications are provided on certain and specific grounds by the legislature. In such a state, the legislature is absolutely specific. In the words of the Court, It is clear as moon day and there is no ambiguity. The language of the said provision leaves no room for any new ground to be added or introduced.

On the issue of criminalisation of politics, the Court referred to earlier judgments. Rajya Sabha Reports, Law Commission reports, etc. and further discussed the role of Election Commission with respect to superintendence, direction, and control of elections. It was observed that Election Commission has the plenary power and its view has to be given weightage. That apart, it has power to supervise the conduct of free and fair election. However, the said power has its limitations. The Election Commission has to act in conformity with the law made by the Parliament and it cannot transgress the same. Analysis was also made of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 which deals with allotment classification, choice of symbols by candidates and restriction on the allotment of symbols. Observation of the Court in the matter was that when a candidate has been set up in an election by a particular political party, then such a candidate has a right under sub-clause (3) of Clause 8 to choose the symbol reserved for the respective political party by which he/she has been set up. An analogous duty has also been placed upon the Election Commission to allot to such a candidate the symbol reserved for the political party by which he/she has been set up and to no other candidate.

The Court finally referring to, inter alia, Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms, (2002) 5 SCC 294; Resurgence India v. Election Commission of India, (2014) 14 SCC 189; etc. was inclined to say that best available people, as is expected by the democratic system, should not have criminal antecedents and the voters have a right to know about their antecedents, assets and other aspects. In a constitutional democracy, criminalization of politics is an extremely disastrous and lamentable situation. The citizens in a democracy cannot be compelled to stand as silent, deaf and mute spectators to corruption by projecting themselves as helpless. The voters cannot be allowed to resign to their fate. Disclosure of antecedents makes the election a fair one and the exercise of the right of voting by the electorate also gets sanctified. It has to be remembered that such a right is paramount for a democracy. A voter is entitled to have an informed choice.

Keeping the aforesaid in view, the Court issued the following directions:

  • Each contesting candidate shall fill up the form as provided by the Election Commission and the form must contain all the particulars as required therein.
  • It shall state, in bold letters, with regards to the criminal cases pending against the candidate.
  • If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her.
  • The concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents.
  • The candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers.

Furthermore, the Court recommended to the Parliament to bring out a strong law whereby it is mandatory for the political parties to revoke membership of persons against whom charges are framed in heinous and grievous offences and not to set up such persons in elections, both for the Parliament and the State Assemblies. This, in our attentive and plausible view, would go a long way in achieving decriminalisation of politics and usher in an era of immaculate, spotless, unsullied and virtuous constitutional democracy. As stated by the Court, the above directions were issued with immense anguish, for the Election Commission cannot deny a candidate to contest on the symbol of a party. A time has come that the Parliament must make a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream. It is one thing to take cover under the presumption of innocence of the accused but it is equally imperative that persons who enter public life and participate in law making should be above any kind of serious criminal allegation. It is true that false cases are foisted on prospective candidates, but the same can be addressed by the Parliament through appropriate legislation. The writ petition was disposed of accordingly. [Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India, (2019) 3 SCC 224, decided on 25-09-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ., stated that the Supreme Court is not in a position to add a disqualification provision in regard to contesting of elections on the basis of charges framed against the candidates.

The Bench stated that “A time has come that Parliament must make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream.”

The Court also added that “the law making wing of the democracy of this country will take it upon itself to cure the malignancy, as such a malignancy is not incurable.”

Further, several directions have been issued regarding the disclosure of criminal antecedents of the candidates.

Will further update with the detailed judgment.

[Source: https://twitter.com/TheLeaflet_in]

 

 

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by media, Rajyasabha has passed the Fugitive Economic offender’s Bill, 2018, which was introduced by the Finance Minister Piyush Goyal.

About: The Bill aimed at strengthening the laws dealing with loan defaulters who flee the country. It will replace the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance which was promulgated by the President in April.

[Source: The Hindu]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJI Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud JJ., addressed the issue of ‘Violence by vigilante groups/cow vigilantism’ today i.e. on 17-07-2018.

CJI Dipak Misra: No citizen can become law unto himself.

Supreme Court while addressing the issue stated that the recent incidents of lynching are ‘horrendous acts of mobocracy’. One of the prominent observations to be noted is that the Apex Court along with issuing series of guidelines on cow vigilantism has asked the Parliament to frame separate offence of lynching with punishment in order to instill fear of the law.

Therefore, by fixing 28-08-2018 as the next date for the further hearing, SC has ordered ‘that no citizen can take law into their own hands. In case of fear and anarchy, the state has to act positively. Violence can’t be allowed’. [Tehseen S. Poonavala v. Union of India, WP(C) No. 754/2016, dated 17-07-2018]

Further details to be updated.

[Source: ANI]