Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Single Judge Bench of S.S.Sundar, J. quashed the criminal complaint against BSNL employees who had put smiling emoji with tears in response to a video footage posted by the second respondent on the official WhatsApp group.

The second respondent (the applicant) posted a video footage of three customers expressing their grievance about the BSNL coverage on the official WhatsApp group which was intended to be used by the members for sharing of any innovative works or ideas for improving the quality of service of BSNL. The conversation was taken as an act to degrade the indoor staff by the petitioners who then along with few others have posted an emoji, namely, a smiling face with tears. They requested the members of SNEA by sending similar emojis in the ‘WhatsApp’ group to be shared by other members of the group. Annoyed by this, the second respondent filed the complaint under various provisions.

The Court said that when it is accepted that an emoji is sent to express one’s feeling about something, it cannot be treated as an overt act on others. It is a comment that may be intended to ridicule or to show one’s disapproval in a given context. Such emojis would not hit Section 67 of IT Act as its object is concerned with publication revealing an overt sexual interest or desire or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters. Further, the Court found that the act under consideration may offend the second respondent but it does not attract Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998. As it was also not the case in the complaint that the smiley was intended to humiliate the second respondent for her being a member of SC/ST, the complaint under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 was not sustained. Court concluded that everyone has a right to express their feelings and share their idea. Every person has got indefeasible right to express what he feels. However, on Court’s insistence, the petitioners through an affidavit expressed their regret over posing of such smileys. After that Court decided that the matter should rest here and it will be neither in the interest of justice to permit such complaints to stay. [I. Linga Bhaskar v. The State through the Inspector of Police, CRL.O.P.(MD) No. 3110 of 2017 and Crl.M.P. (MD) Nos. 2366 and 6773 of 2017, order dated 05.06.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Vacation Bench comprising of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan, allowed the Centre to go ahead with the reservation in promotion for employees belonging to the cadre of SC/ST in accordance to law.

Centre had stated various submissions for explaining their concern on the whole process of promotion being “standstill” due to the various orders passed by the High Courts and apex court.  The government also cited the cases on the issue of quota in promotion in government jobs by placing the apex court’s decision in M Nagaraj v Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 212  would be applicable, as in reference to the said case, creamy layer concept cannot be applied to the ST/SC for promotions as decided in the verdict of Indra Sawhney v. Union of India; 1992 Supp (3) SCC 210 and E.V Chinnaiah v. State of A.P; (2005) 1 SCC 394.

ASG Mahinder Singh also referred to an order passed on May 17th in which it was said that “pendency of petition before it shall not stand in the way of the Centre taking steps for the promotion”. He also mentioned Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, which enabled the state to provide reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST which in its view was not effectively represented for services.

By a decision of the Supreme Court in M Nagaraj v Union of India (2006) 8 SCC 212, the constitutional validity of Article 16(4), (4A) and (4B) was upheld.
Subsequent to the pronouncement of law in M Nagaraj, there were decisions by the Supreme Court stating that the government could not blindly provide for reservation in promotions, in favour of SCs and STs unless, prior thereto, the requisite exercise, to acquire quantifiable data regarding lack of representation of SCs and STs in public services was undertaken.

On noting the Delhi High Court verdict of August 23, 2017, in which the government was restrained from granting any reservation, in promotion to SC/ST, in exercise of the power conferred by Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, without, in the first instance, carrying out the necessary preliminary exercise of acquiring quantifiable data indicating inadequacy of representation, the instant petition was filed and till any further decision of the Constitution bench, as per law permission has been granted in regard to the promotions. [State of Maharashtra v. Vijay Ghogre, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 589, order dated 05-06-2018]