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Top Ten Legal Headlines of the Week-26 Dec 2023

Top Ten Legal Headlines of the Week-26 Dec 2023


1. President Grants Approval to Three Landmark Criminal Law Amendment Bills:

The President has approved three Criminal Law amendment bills: the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam. These bills are set to replace the existing Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, signifying a significant overhaul of India's criminal justice system. Initially introduced in Lok Sabha on August 11 as the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, these legislative proposals underwent further examination by a parliamentary committee chaired by Brij Lal. Subsequently, they were approved by the Lok Sabha on December 20 and later received the green light from the Rajya Sabha on December 21.

2. Supreme Court Petitioned via PIL for Judicial Probe into Parliament Security Breach

An advocate has submitted a plea to the Supreme Court, requesting an unbiased and impartial judicial inquiry supervised by a retired Supreme Court judge into the security breach within the lower house of Parliament. On the 22nd anniversary of the Parliament terror attack, a significant security lapse occurred as two intruders accessed the Lok Sabha chamber from the visitor gallery during Zero Hour on December 13. The petition seeks an "independent, credible, and impartial" judicial investigation, specifically under the oversight of a retired Supreme Court Judge, regarding the incident coinciding with the 2001 Parliament attack anniversary.

3. Prisoners Possess Fundamental Right to Procreation and Parenthood: Delhi High Court

The court has awarded a four-week parole to a 41-year-old individual convicted of murder, seeking to conceive a child through IVF. The Delhi High Court has asserted that the right to procreation and parenthood is a fundamental entitlement of a convict, safeguarded under Article 21 of the Constitution, as ruled in the case of Kundan Singh v The State Govt of NCT Delhi. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma emphasised that while this right is not absolute, its application depends on the circumstances. Considering factors such as the prisoner's parental status and age, a balanced and equitable approach is essential to balance individual rights and broader societal considerations.

4. Supreme Court Sets Record: Disposes of Over 52,000 Cases in 2023, the Highest in Six Years

The Supreme Court of India resolved 52,191 cases in 2023, marking a 33% increase from the previous year's disposal rate of 39,800, as reported by Bar and Bench. This achievement represents the highest disposal rate in six years. The court's press release disclosed that among the cases adjudicated, 45,642 were miscellaneous matters, and 6,549 were regular matters. The data, derived from the Integrated Case Management System, was cited by Bar and Bench in their report.

5. Carrying Arms in Courts Not Recognized as a Fundamental Right for Lawyers: Allahabad High Court

Justice Pankaj Bhatia, presiding over a single-judge bench, issued this directive in response to a petition challenging the revocation of the arms license of a young lawyer. The solitary judge bench specifically mandated that district judges and judicial officers across Uttar Pradesh must file cases under the Arms Act against individuals, including litigants and lawyers, discovered carrying weapons within court premises. Additionally, they were directed to promptly approach the District Magistrate/Licensing Authority to revoke the relevant arms licenses. The court further ordered that district judges, judicial officers, and the district court security officer in charge should take necessary measures to register FIRs against those found carrying arms within court premises. They must promptly forward such reports to the Licensing Authority for the immediate cancellation of arms licenses.

6. Bombay High Court Mandates State to Formulate Guidelines for Test Identification Parades in POCSO Cases

The Bombay High Court has recently instructed the State Government to establish guidelines for the execution of test identification parades in cases falling under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. In a hearing presided over by the division bench at Aurangabad, comprising Justice Vibha Kankanwadi and Justice Abhay Waghase, the court addressed an appeal filed by a convict sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape of a minor. The bench noted that, during the proceedings, the 6-year-old victim was brought to the jail premises to identify the accused among a group of individuals and was even made to touch the convict physically. Expressing serious concern over the adopted procedure, the division bench highlighted its deviation from the prescribed protocol under the POCSO Act. Consequently, in its order, the high court directed the state government to formulate guidelines specifically for the conduct of Test Identification Parades in cases falling under the purview of the POCSO Act.

7. Lok Sabha Approves Telecommunications Bill of 2023

The 'Telecommunications Bill 2023' has been approved by the Rajya Sabha with amendments, following its earlier passage by the Lok Sabha. This legislation, designed to revolutionise and enhance the telecommunications sector, services, and networks, aims to amend and consolidate laws pertaining to the development, expansion, and operation of telecommunication services. It aims to replace the outdated 'Indian Telegraph Act of 1885.'

8. Insolvency Professionals Exempt from Being Classified as Public Servants under Prevention of Corruption Act: Delhi High Court

In a plea submitted by the petitioner under Article 226 of the Constitution in conjunction with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, intending to nullify the FIR filed under Sections 7 and 7A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, along with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Justice Tushar Rao Gedela expressed the view that the deliberate exclusion of the term "Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP)" from Section 232 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was a conscious decision by the Legislature. The court, empowered to interpret the law, asserted its authority not to engage in legislative functions or address omissions, which is prohibited. Consequently, the court concluded that an IRP does not fall within the definition of a 'public servant' as outlined in any of the clauses of Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, leading to the quashing and setting aside the FIR.

9. Delhi High Court Directs CISF to Revise Rules Within Six Months, Permitting Women to Join as Constables and Drivers

The Delhi High Court has instructed the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to modify its recruitment policies to incorporate women as drivers within the next six months. The government's legal representative informed the court that specifying a precise timeframe for altering the CISF's recruitment rules was impractical. Emphasising the significance of inclusivity and diversity, the court urged the CISF to reassess and revise its regulations to facilitate the inclusion of women in driving roles. This action aligns with broader efforts to promote equity and representation across various professional domains.

10. SC/ST Act Not Applicable in Caste-Based Verbal Abuse Within Home Without Outsider Presence: Allahabad High Court 

The Allahabad High Court recently ruled that using caste-based verbal abuse, specifically uttering the caste name of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe member, would not constitute an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act) if the incident occurs within a residence without the presence of outsiders. In the case of Bhaiya Lal Singh v. State of UP, Justice Shamim Ahmed emphasised that a person can only be subjected to trial for the offence under Section 3(1)(s) of the SC/ST Act if the verbal utterances occurred in a "place within public view."