RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN MARRIAGE : AN ANALYSIS - Business Guardian
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RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN MARRIAGE : AN ANALYSIS

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In a clear, cogent, commendable, composed and convincing judgment titled Neha vs Vibhor Garg in CR No. 1616 of 2020 and CR No. 2538 of 2020 (O&M) that was delivered finally on 12.11.2021, the single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Lisa Gill of the Punjab and Haryana High Court while hearing a matrimonial dispute matter has held categorically that recording of telephonic conversations of the wife without her knowledge amounts to infringement of her privacy and the transcripts of such conversations cannot be accepted as evidence by Family Courts. It must be mentioned here that the husband had filed for divorce from the woman in 2017 to whom he was married in 2009 and the couple has a daughter. We thus see that the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bench set aside the 2020 Bhatinda Family Court order which had allowed the husband to prove the telephonic conversation between him and his wife to make out a case of cruelty against his wife. The husband had filed a divorce suit under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

In hindsight, we saw earlier also how Justice Arun Monga of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had in 2020 asserted quite unequivocally that, “The act of clandestinely recording conversation would, rather, amount to infringement of privacy rights.” In no uncertain terms, Justice Arun had also very rightly underscored that, “An undercover conduct of the husband to record private spousal conversation without knowledge of the other is an infringement of privacy and can hardly be appreciated.”

To put things in perspective, the Single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Lisa Gill of the Punjab and Haryana High Court said that though a Family Court is not bound by strict rules of evidence, it is not at liberty to accept a CD containing secret recordings of wife’s telephonic conversation in evidence which is a clear cut infringement of the right of privacy of the wife. Justice Lisa Gill also said quite emphatically, elegantly, eloquently and effectively that, “Recording of telephonic conversation of the wife without her knowledge is a clear cut infringement of her privacy…it cannot be said that as the Family Court is not bound by strict rules of evidence, it is at liberty to accept the CD in evidence which is a clear cut infringement of the right of privacy of the wife.” Very rightly so!

It may be recalled that the Punjab and Haryana High Court was hearing two petitions – one that was filed by the husband and the other filed by the wife. The wife had challenged an order of the Bathinda Family Court clearly allowing the husband to finally reproduce telephonic recordings of their conversation. The husband on the other hand, had sought expeditious disposal of his divorce petition.

Needless to say, the main issue that was before the Punjab and Haryana High Court to adjudicate upon was whether the order of the Family Court allowing the husband to produce recordings of the conversations between him and the wife was against the fundamental right to privacy of the wife. The petitioner-wife minced just no words to argue vehemently that the evidence sought to be led by the husband was completely beyond pleadings and, therefore, absolutely impermissible. It was pointed out that the pleadings did not refer to any such conversations which were sought to be proved. It was also submitted that therefore, the evidence was wrongly allowed by the Family Court.

As it turned out, the Bench stated at the outset that even if the general averments in the petition about cruelty were proven by the evidence requested to be supplied, the CDs in question could not be admitted in evidence. The Bench also went on to say in this regard that recording the wife’s telephonic discussion without her consent is a clear cut breach of her privacy.

To start with, the single Judge Bench of Justice Lisa Gill who authored this extremely learned, laudable, latest and landmark judgment sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing in the opening para that, “This matter is being taken up for hearing through video conferencing due to outbreak of the pandemic, COVID-19. This order shall dispose of CR No.1616 of 2020 and CR No. 2538 of 2020. CR No. 1616 of 2020 has been filed by the petitioner (wife) arrayed as respondent in the petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (for short ‘the Act’) filed by the husband before the learned District judge, Panchkula, challenging order dated 29.01.2020, passed by the learned Principal Judge/Family Court, Bathinda, whereby the husband has been allowed to prove the Compact Disc (for short ‘CD’) pertaining to conversation between him and the wife subject to the condition of its correctness.”

Furthermore, the Bench then states that, “CR No. 2538 of 2020 has been filed by the husband, seeking direction to the learned Family Court to expedite proceedings in the petition under Section 13 of the Act, in a time bound manner. This revision petition was directed to be listed along with CR No. 1616 of 2020.”

While elaborating on the facts, the Bench then observes that, “Brief facts of the matter as emanating from CR No. 1616 of 2020 are that petition under Section 13 of the Act was filed by the respondent-husband seeking divorce on various grounds. Marriage between the parties was solemnized on 20.02.2009. A daughter was born out of the wedlock on 11.05.2011 and petition seeking divorce filed in the year 2017. An amended petition was filed on 03.04.2018. Husband submitted his affidavit by way of evidence in chief on 07.12.2018. When the matter was listed for cross-examination, an application was moved by the husband on 09.07.2019 seeking permission to submit his supplementary affidavit by way of examination-in-chief along with CD and transcriptions of conversations so recorded in the memory cards/chips of the respective mobile phones. Reply was filed to the application. Application dated 09.07.2019 was allowed by the learned Family Court vide impugned order dated 29.01.2020 while observing that the husband is allowed to prove the CD pertaining to the conversations between him and his wife subject to the condition of correctness and that strict principles of evidence are not applicable to the proceedings before the Family Court keeping in view Section 14 and 20 of the Family Court Act.”

Of course, the Bench then mentions that, “Aggrieved therefrom, CR No. 1616 of 2020 has been filed by the wife.” After hearing the learned counsel for the parties, the Bench then while noting this and also that the files have been gone through with their able assistance goes on to observe that, “Respondent-husband in this case filed a petition under Section 13 of the Act, seeking dissolution of marriage by decree of divorce on various grounds. Admittedly, there is no mention of the conversations recorded by the husband between the years 2010 to 2016 in the said petition. There is no mention on these conversations in the amended petition filed on 03.04.2018 as well. It is further a matter of record that in the affidavit filed by the husband by way of examination-in-chief, there is again no mention of these conversations. It is only on 09.07.2019 that an application is moved by the husband to submit his supplementary affidavit by way of examination-in-chief along with memory cards/chips of the respective mobile phones, CD and transcript of alleged conversation/s so recorded in memory cards/chips of the respective mobile phones. It is stated in application dated 09.07.2019 that various conversations between the husband and his wife from November 2010 to December 2010, August 2016 to December 2016, were recorded and stored/procured by him. These conversations were further recorded on CD for convenience. It is further averred that due to inadvertence, specific mention of these conversations has not been made in the earlier affidavit. It is thus evident that the husband was well aware of these conversations which could very well have formed part of the pleadings at the very outset, but clearly did not find mention. Furthermore, there was no averment regarding these conversations in the amended petition or even in the affidavit dated 07.1.2018 tendered in examination-in-chief. Moreover, even if it is accepted that the general averments in the petition regarding cruelty would very well cover the evidence sought to be produced, in my considered opinion the CD’s in question cannot be permitted in evidence. This is so for various reasons as delineated in the following paras.”

As we see, the Bench then stipulates that, “Before proceeding further it is relevant to note that without doubt provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, have been diluted by Section 14 of the Family Court Act, which reads as under:-

“A Family Court may receive as evidence any report, statement, documents, information or matter that may, in its opinion, assist it to deal effectually with a dispute, whether or not the same would be otherwise relevant or admissible under the Indian Evidence Act.””

To be sure, the Bench then holds that, “Clearly, the technicalities and procedures otherwise followed by the Civil and Criminal Courts may not be applicable to proceedings before the Family Court. There is in-fact no quarrel with argument of learned counsel for the respondent that a Family Court is not bound by strict rules of evidence.” While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then hastens to add that, “At the same time, it cannot be ignored that acceptance of the CD in question shall amount to a clear breach of fundamental right of the petitioner-wife i.e., her right to privacy, as has been upheld in various judicial pronouncements. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in People’s Union for Civil Liberties Vs. Union of India, (1997)1 SCC 301, has observed as under:-

“18. The right to privacy-by-itself has not been identified under the Constitution. As a concept it may be too broad and moralistic to define it judicially. Whether right to privacy can be claimed or has been infringed in a given case would depend on the facts of the said case. But the right to hold a telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office without interference can certainly be claimed as “right to privacy”. Conversations on the telephone are often of an intimate and confidential character. Telephone-conversation is a part of modern man’s life. It is considered so important that more and more people are carrying mobile telephone instruments in their pockets. Telephone conversation is an important facet of a man’s private life. Right to privacy would certainly include telephone-conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office. Telephone-tapping would, thus, infract Article 21 of the Constitution of India unless it is permitted under the procedure established by law.”” As a corollary, the Bench then holds that, “Thus, recording of telephonic conversation of the wife without her knowledge, is a clear cut infringement of her privacy.”

In addition, the Bench then clearly also points out that, “Furthermore, it cannot be said or ascertained as to the circumstances in which the conversations were held or the manner in which response elicited by a person who was recording the conversations, because it is evident that these conversations would necessarily have been recorded surreptitiously by one of the parties. A Coordinate Bench of this High Court in Deepinder Singh Mann Vs. Ranjit Kaur, 2015 (5) RCR (Civil) 691 in this respect has observed as under:-

“3. As an aside I would say that there are voice changing software available on the Net waiting to be downloaded to be applied in hiding or creating identities, creating true or false evidence, making room for impersonation, deceit and the like, which may be hard to crack without special detection by experts specially trained in this evolving field of investigation when experts are not easily found or available presently in courtrooms which remain severely handicapped and ill equipped with newfangled tools for use or misuse of modern science and technology and to easily apply to a case in hand the repercussions of which may be far reaching and beyond one’s ken.

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It would be a rather dangerous trend to allow people to be fixed or exposed on Audio CDs obtained by malfeasance, in its object of collecting evidence and the secretive means adopted to achieve a lawful or an unlawful end. The computer age is a dangerous age. The mobile phone or electronic gadgets should not be readily allowed to be used as an instrument of torture and oppression against a wife in a matrimonial action unless the court in satisfied that it might tilt the balance between justice and injustice in its cumulative judicial experience, wisdom and discretion in decision making. A married woman too has a valuable right to her privacy of speech with her husband in the confines of the bedroom. Couples speak many things with each other unwary that every word would be weighed one day and put under the judicial scanner. Courts should be very circumspect in such matters before allowing such applications as presented in this case. The Courts cannot actively participate in approving mischief and invite invasion of privacy rights not called for in deciding a case where parties are free to adduce evidence aliunde which may or may not be sufficient to obtain a decree of dissolution of marriage. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.””

Going ahead, the Bench then holds that, “The caution which has been sounded is indeed to be heeded. To permit a spouse to record conversations with an unsuspecting partner and to produce the same in a court of law, to be made the basis of deciding a petition under Section 13 of the Act, would indeed not be feasible. It is rightly observed in Deepinder Singh’s case (Supra) that couples speak many things with each other, unaware that every word would be weighed in a Court of law. Moreover, the court would be ill-equipped to assess the circumstances in which a particular response may have been elicited from a spouse at a given point of time, notwithstanding the right of cross-examination.”

While citing the relevant case law, the Bench then specifies that, “In Dr. Tripat Deep Singh Vs. Dr (Smt.) Paviter Kaur, 2018 (3) RCR (Civil) 71, it was held that conversations between husband and wife in daily routine cannot be made the basis of or considered for deciding a petition under Section 13 of the Act. The Coordinate Bench of this High Court in the said case has observed as under:-

“16 The conversation between husband and wife in daily routine, in the considered opinion of this court, cannot be made basis or can be considered for deciding the petition under section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, inasmuch as quarrel on trivial matters between them in our Society is a routine matter. More so, recording of conversation between the husband and wife and production of a CD thereof, would not be sufficient to ascertain as to under what circumstances, the conversation was recorded, what was the atmosphere and circumstances prevailing in the family at that moment, would be relevant to take into consideration the conversations recorded in the CD to extract the truth.””

What’s more, the Bench then also pointed out that, “Andhra Pradesh High Court in Smt. Rayala M. Bhuvaneswari Vs. Napaphander Rayala, 2007 (31) RCR (Civil) 664, specifically held that the act of recording conversation without knowledge of the wife is illegal and amounts to infringement of right to privacy and even if, the chips in question are true, they are not admissible in evidence. Similar was the view expressed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Anurima @ Abha Mehta Vs. Sunil Mehta s/o Chandmal, 2016 AIR (M.P) 112.”

Quite significantly, the Bench then notes that, “Argument raised by learned counsel for the respondent with reference to Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act, has been succinctly dealt with by the Rajasthan High Court in Vishal Kaushik Vs. Family Court and another 2015(9) R.C.R (Civil) 831 while observing as under:-

“22. Aspect about admissibility of evidence with reference to provisions of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 has indeed been diluted by Section 14 of the Family Court Act. The question, which still arises in the present case, is whether conversation tape recorded by the husband without wife’s consent or without her knowledge, can be received in evidence and be made use of against her? That question has to be answered in an affirmative no, as recording of such conversation had breached her “right to privacy”, one of the facets of her ‘right to liberty’ enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The exception to privileged communication between husband and wife carved out in Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act, which enables one spouse to compel another to disclose any communication made to him/her during marriage by him/her, may be available to such spouse in variety of other situations, but if such communication is a tape recorded conversation, without the knowledge of the other spouse, it cannot be, admissible in evidence or otherwise received in evidence. The argument that this would defeat right of fair trial of the petitioner-husband, proceed on the fallacious assumption of sanctimony of the method used in such recording and in that process, ignores the right of fair trial of the respondent-wife. In a case like present one, husband cannot be, in the name of producing evidence, allowed to wash dirty linen openly in the Court proceedings so as to malign the wife by producing clandestine recording of their conversation.””

Most significantly, the Bench then minces no words to hold aptly that, “Keeping in view the factual matrix of the case, it cannot be said that as the Family Court is not bound by strict rules of evidence, it is at liberty to accept the CD in evidence which is a clear cut infringement of the right of privacy of the wife. The decision of Rajasthan High Court in Preeti Jain Vs. Kunal Jain and another, 2016 AIR (Rajasthan) 153, relied upon by learned counsel for the respondent-husband is not relevant in the given facts and circumstances of this case, as the same relates to a matter where the husband sought to adduce video clippings recorded through pinhole camera for establishing extra marital affair of his wife. Moreover the aspects as discussed in the foregoing paras have not been discussed therein. Therefore, acceptance of the CD by the learned Family Court allegedly containing conversations between the husband and wife recorded surreptitiously without the consent or knowledge of the wife and allowing the husband’s application is unjustified. No other argument has been raised.”

Finally, the Bench then aptly concludes by rightly holding that, “Accordingly, impugned order dated 29.01.2020, Annexure P-4, passed by the learned Family Court, Bathinda, is set aside. Consequently, application dated 09.07.2019 filed by the respondent-husband, is dismissed. Keeping in view the facts and circumstances, learned Family Court is directed to take steps for expeditious disposal of the petition filed under Section 13 of the Act, preferably within six months from the date of receipt of certified copy of this order. Accordingly, CR No. 1616 of 2020 filed by petitioner-wife is allowed and CR No. 2538 of 2020, filed by respondent-husband, is disposed of.”

In conclusion, the single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Lisa Gill of Punjab and Haryana High Court has been most forthright in holding commendably that secretly recording the wife’s telephonic conversation sans her knowledge is definitely a clear cut infringement of her right to privacy and therefore it cannot be accepted as evidence. We have discussed the relevant case laws also. Thus the Bathinda’s Family Court order in favour of husband was so very rightly quashed! No denying it!

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Legally Speaking

Disproportionate assets case: Delhi High Court stays Lokpal proceedings initiated against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren

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Disproportionate assets case: Delhi High Court stays Lokpal proceedings initiated against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren

On Monday, the Delhi High Court has stayed the proceedings initiated by Lokpal of India under the provisions of the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act, 2013 against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Chief and Rajya Sabha MP Shibu Soren in connection with a disproportionate case of assets.

The bench comprising of Justice Yashwant Varma observed and has passed an order on Soren’s plea challenging the validity of the said proceedings, claiming that the same was ex facie bad in law and without jurisdiction.

In the present case, the proceedings were initiated by Lokpal of India pursuant to a complaint dated August 5, 2020 filed by BJP’s Nishikant Dubey. Therefore, it has been directed by the CBI to make a preliminary enquiry into the Complaint under section 20(1)(a) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. It was claimed by Soren that the said order was not served on him.

While claiming the complaint was false, frivolous and vexatious, Soren in his plea submitted that according to section 53 of the Act and there is a statutory bar against the Lokpal of India assuming jurisdiction to investigate or inquire into any Complaint made after the expiry of seven years from the offence alleged.

The plea reads that the initiation of the proceedings under the Complaint, or at the very least, continuation thereof, once it has been demonstrated by the preliminary inquiry that it pertains to alleged acquisitions prior to the 7-year period and is clearly barred by statute, without jurisdiction and the same is liable to be quashed.

Further, the petition filled submits that the maximum period of 180 days for completion of preliminary enquiry from the date of Complaint expired on February 1, 2021. In this backdrop, it has been stated that by this time, only on July 1, 2021, the comments were sought from Soren which is beyond the prescribed statutory period.

The plea adds that the final preliminary enquiry report was submitted by the CBI on 29.06.2022, about a year and a half after expiry of the 180- day period. Such purported report is void and null and non-est in the eyes of law and cannot be received or considered by the Respondent No.1.

Thus, the court took note of the order passed by Lokpal of India dated August 4, 2022 directing that proceedings under section 20(3) of the Lokpal Act be initiated to determine whether a prima facie case existed to be proceeded against Soren. It is Soren’s case that the order was passed without considering the preliminary objection on jurisdiction being raised by him.

In the said order, the court noted that all the Lokpal of India recorded was that the comments received from the petitioner were forwarded to CBI so as to examine and submit an enquiry report.

It was ordered by the court that the challenge to assumption of jurisdiction by respondent no. 1 (the Lokpal of India) has neither been answered and nor dealt with. Matters require consideration. Subsequently, there will be a stay of proceedings pending before the Lokayukta.

Accordingly, the court will now hear the matter on 14 December.

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DELHI HC SETS ASIDE MURDER CONVICTION & LIFE SENTENCE OF MAN WHO WAS UNPRESENTED BY LAWYER; REMANDS CASTE BACK TO TRIAL COURT

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DELHI HC SETS ASIDE MURDER CONVICTION & LIFE SENTENCE OF MAN WHO WAS UNPRESENTED BY LAWYER; REMANDS CASTE BACK TO TRIAL COURT

The Delhi High Court in the case Narender @ Lala v. State Of NCT Of Delhi observed and has set aside the orders of conviction for murder and sentence of life imprisonment awarded to a man in 2018 who was unrepresented by a lawyer before the Trial Court. Thus, the Delhi High Court has remanded the case back to the Trial Court for cross examination of certain prosecution witnesses.

The division bench comprising of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Anish Dayal observed and was of the view that there had been a grave miscarriage of justice to the man as when number of witnesses were examined, he was not represented by a counsel and that the legal aid counsel, who was present before Trial Court and was appointed on the same day and asked to cross- examine the witnesses on the same day.

On March, 2018, Narender was convicted for offence of murder punishable under section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. On 4th May, 2018, he was sentenced by the Trial Court for life imprisonment and also to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000.

In the present case, the case of the prosecution was that the man had committed murder of his wife by strangulating her to death.

In a appeal, it was argued by the man that during the substantial course of trial, he was not represented by a lawyer and hence the trial in the absence of a lawyer had seriously prejudiced him. He thus sought recalling of all the prosecution witnesses and thereby ensuring a fair trial.

The Court observed that the manner in which the trial is conducted, there was a serious denial of fair trial to the appellant and the appellant is required to be given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses i.e., the witnesses examined in the absence of the lawyer, or the lawyer having been appointed on the same day from the legal aid and is asked to cross-examine the witnesses.

Further, the court remanded the back to Trial Court for cross-examination of ten prosecution witnesses. Also, the court directed the Trial Court Judge to follow due process of law and also to record the statement of the man under Section 313 CrPC and permit leading the defence evidence if so required.

The Court ordered that the case be listed before the learned Trial Court on 26th September, when Superintendent Tihar Jail will product the appellant before the learned Trial Court and the learned Trial Court is requested to expedite the trial and conclude the same preferably within four months.

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SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO ENTERTAIN PLEA CHALLENGING EXCLUSION OF SC/ST RESERVATION IN JHARKHAND DISTRICT JUDGES APPOINTMENT

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SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO ENTERTAIN PLEA CHALLENGING EXCLUSION OF SC/ST RESERVATION IN JHARKHAND DISTRICT JUDGES APPOINTMENT

The Supreme Court in the case Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Educational And Cultural Trust v. Hon’ble High Court Jharkhand And Ors. observed and has refused to entertain a plea challenging the non-inclusion of reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes communities in the process of appointment of District Judges in pursuant to an advertisement issued in March, 2022 by the High Court of Jharkhand. The present petition claimed that the exclusion of reservation violates Jharkhand State Reservation Policy and constitutional guarantee under Article 16(4). Apart from this, it is also in derogation of a resolution being passed by the High Court vouching to implement reservation in the Jharkhand Superior Judicial Service.

The bench comprising of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and the Justice Hima Kohli observed and has granted liberty to the petitioner to file a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution before the Jharkhand High Court.

The court while considering that the process of appointment as per the concerned notification is underway, Justice Chandrachud asked the petitioner to approach the High Court with respect to future appointments.

It stated that “For the future you can file a petition before the High Court… We will give you liberty to approach the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.”

The bench of Justice Chandrachud observed that the Decisions of the Administrative side of the High Court can be challenged before the judicial side of the High Court. You can move the High Court.

In the present case, a writ petition challenging a similar notification was filed in 2017 before the High Court, which was eventually dismissed. It was observed by the High Court that there is no duty vested in the authorities to reserve seats for all posts, more particularly in higher judiciary. Moreover, it had already initiated the appointment process, the High Court opined that it cannot alter the rules midway. Thus, the appeal filed before the Apex Court was also dismissed.

However, in 2018 the Full Court of the Jharkhand High Court had agreed in principle to grant reservation in the recruitment for Jharkhand Superior Judicial Service. The advocates belonging to the SC/ST/OBC communities in 2021 had made representations to the Chief Justice of the High Court requesting for the implementation of the Reservation policy in appointment of District Judges (direct entry from Bar)/ superior judicial service. The impugned notification was issued without incorporating reservation for SC/ST/OBC communities in March 2022.

Mr. Arvind Gupta, Advocate on Record has filled the present petition.

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Right to contest election is not a fundamental right; it is only a right conferred by statute: Supreme Court

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Don’t compare Turban, Kirpan with Hijab: SC

The Supreme Court in the case Vishwanath Pratap Singh vs Election Commission of India observed that the right to contest an election is not a fundamental right but only a right conferred by a statute.

The bench comprising of Justice Hemant Gupta and the Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia observed while dismissing a Special Leave Petition filed by Vishwanath Pratap Singh that an individual cannot claim that he has a right to contest election and the said stipulation violates his fundamental right, so as is required under the Act, to file his nomination without any proposer.

Also, the court imposed a cost of Rupees one lakh on Singh.

In the present case, Singh had first approached the Delhi High Court challenging a notification issued by Election Commission of India for election to Rajya Sabha after he was not allowed to file his nomination without a proper proposer being proposing his name. His contentions were rejected by the High Court that his fundamental right of free speech and expression and right to personal liberty has been infringed.

While dismissing the SLP, the Apex Court observed that the writ petition before the High Court was entirely misconceived.

The bench observed while referring to earlier judgments viz Javed v. State of Haryana, (2003) 8 SCC 369 and Rajbala v. State of Haryana (2016) 2 SCC 445 wherein it was stated that the right to contest an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right. It is a right conferred by a statute.

However, the Supreme Court in Javed (supra) had made the following observations: Right to contest an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right and it is a right conferred by a statute. At the most, in view of Part IX having been added in the Constitution of India that a right to contest election for an office in Panchayat may be said to be a constitutional right and a right originating in the Constitution and given shape by a statute. But even if, it cannot be equated with a fundamental right. It is stated that there is nothing wrong in the same statute which confers the right to contest an election also to provide for the necessary qualifications without which a person cannot offer his candidature for an elective office and also to provide for disqualifications which would disable a person from contesting for, or from holding, an elective statutory office.

It was held in Rajbala (supra) that the right to contest for a seat in either of the two bodies is subject to certain constitutional restrictions and could be restricted further only by a law which the parliament made.

Further, the court added that Singh did not have any right to contest election to the Rajya Sabha in terms of the law made by the Parliament.

The Court stated while dismissing the SLP that the Representation of People Act, 1950 read with the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 has contemplated the name of a candidate to be proposed while filling the nomination form. However, it cannot be claimed by an individual that he has a right to contest election and the said stipulation violates his fundamental right, so as to file his nomination without any proposer as is required under the Act.

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Post-conviction compounding of offences is permissible: Himachal Pradesh High Court

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The Himachal Pradesh High Court in the case Shri Kantu Ram v Shri Beer Singh recently observed that a court, while exercising powers under Section 147 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and can proceed to compound the offences even after recording of conviction by the courts below.

The bench comprising of Justice Sandeep Sharma observed in a case where the revision Petitioner, who was convicted under Section 138 of the NI Act by the Magistrate Court and was aggrieved by subsequent dismissal of appeal by the Sessions Court and had agreed to pay the amount due and settle the matter.

Thus, the petitioner had sought compounding of offences.

In the present case, the respondent admitted the factum with regard to receipt of the amount due from the accused and expressed that the prayer made on behalf of accused for compounding of offence can be accepted.

However, the High Court allowed the prayer and the offence committed by the Petitioner under Section 138 NI Act was ordered to be compounded.

The Court observed that the Reliance was placed on Damodar S. Prabhu V. Sayed Babalal H. (2010) 5 SCC 663, wherein the Apex Court has categorically held that court, while exercising power under Section 147 of the NI Act and can proceed to compound the offence even after recording of the conviction by the courts below.

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‘Pensionary benefits to employee, who is removed from service for misconduct, is not at par with those who retire on superannuation’

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The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court in the case Bashir Ahmad Wani v Jammu and Kashmir Grameen Bank and Another recently observed and stated that an employee who is removed from service for misconduct is not at par with those who is being retired on superannuation.

The bench comprising of Justice Sanjeev Kumar observed while dismissing the pension claim made by a former employee of the J&K Grameen Bank, who was removed from service in 2011.

In the present case, the petitioner had sought benefit of the J&K Grameen Bank (Employees) Pension Regulations, 2018 whereby provision was made for terminal benefits.

However, the court disallowed the claims on two grounds:

Firstly, that at the time of removal of the petitioner from service when there were no norms, rules or regulations providing for the benefit of pension to the employees of the respondent-Bank.

In the year 2011, the employees of the respondent-Bank were governed by the J&K Grameen Bank ( the Officers and Employees) Service Regulations, 2010… it is abundantly clear that it does not prescribe imposition of a penalty of removal along with the pensionary benefits.

Secondly, it was opined by the court that though the 2018 Regulations had been made applicable to those employees who were in service between 1st day of September, 1987 and 31st day of March, 2010 and the employees retired from the services of the Bank before 31st day of March, 2018, however, this leeway cannot come to aid of the Petitioner.

The Curt observed that the reason for finding that the Petitioner was not an employee who had “retired” on superannuation from the bank. Rather, he was “removed” for misconduct.

The Court stated that the regulations apply to those employees who retired from the service of the Bank before 31.03.2018 and not the employees who were terminated for misconduct. Viewed thus, the order of removal of the petitioner dated 02.09.2011 holding the petitioner entitled to terminable benefits and cannot, by any stretch of reasoning, be construed to be an order of removal with the benefit of the pension. Neither, the petitioner, at the time of his removal from service, nor with the promulgation of Pension Regulations of 2018, is entitled to the benefit of pension.

Accordingly, the court dismissed the petition.

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