‘Advocate needs to be in continuous practice for 7 years on date of application to seek appointment as District Judge’ - Business Guardian
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‘Advocate needs to be in continuous practice for 7 years on date of application to seek appointment as District Judge’



While reiterating what is manifestly laid down in our law and as also specifically enjoined in Article 233 of our Constitution, the Allahabad High Court in a learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Bindu v. High Court Of Judicature At Allahabad Through Its RG And Another in Writ – A No. – 17936 of 2021 and cited in 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 137 that was pronounced finally on March 22, 2022 has made it crystal clear that for seeking appointment as Judicial Officer/District Judge as per Article 233 (2) of the Constitution of India, an Advocate has to be in continuous practice for not less than 7 years [with no break in between] as on the cut-off date and at the time of appointment as District Judge. It must be mentioned here that the Bench of Delhi High Court comprising of Justice Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Ajai Tyagi preferred to rely upon the Supreme Court’s judgment in the leading case of Deepak Aggrawal v. Keshav Kaushik and others, (2013) 5 SCC 277, wherein it had been held that as per Article 233(2), a person seeking appointment as a District Judge must be practicing as an advocate for continuous 7 years (without any break) on the date of application. Of course, it merits no reiteration that all the aspirants for the post of District Judge must ensure that they comply firmly, fully and finally with what has been laid down so clearly, cogently and convincingly in this leading case.
To start with, this extremely commendable, cogent and convincing judgment authored by a Bench of Allahabad High Court comprising of Justice Hon’ble Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Hon’ble Ajai Tyagi sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Heard Sri Vijay Tripathi, learned counsel for the petitioner and Sri Rahul Agarwal, learned counsel for the High Court-respondents.”
Needless to say, the Bench then specifies in para 2 that, “The petitioner has prayed for the following reliefs:
“I. issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari quashing the impugned rejection order dated 22/10/2021 (Annexure No.1 to this writ petition).
II. issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus commanding and directing the respondents to allow the petitioner to participate in selection process of U.P. Higher Judiciary Services, 2020.
III. to issue any other writ, order or direction which this Hon’ble court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.””
While briefly elaborating on the facts of the case, the Bench then stipulates in para 3 that, “The facts in nutshell for our purpose are that the petitioner applied for being appointed as a Judicial Officer in the U.P. State Higher Judicial Services, the clinching aspect which is under challenge is that the High Court after the petitioner had cleared the preliminary exam, she was not permitted to appear for final exams, on the ground that on interpretation of the rules and placing reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in Deepak Aggrawal v. Keshav Kaushik and others, (2013) 5 SCC 277 the committee found that the petitioner does not have continuous practice for seven years on date of exam/filling form. The High Court on its administrative side conveyed to the petitioner that she was not qualified as per rules.”
As we see, the Bench then discloses in para 3 that, “Shri Jitendra Kumar holding brief of the counsel appearing on behalf of petitioner has contended that the petitioner has passed preliminary exams and is practicing as a public prosecutor since 2019. Learned counsel for petitioner also places reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in Deepak Aggrawal (supra).”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then deems it fit to put forth in para 4 that, “At this juncture, it would be relevant for us to verbatim refer to paragraphs no.101 and 102, of decision titled Deepak Aggawal (Supra) which we verbatim reproduce as under:
“101. The Division Bench has in respect of all the five private appellants – Assistant District Attorney, Public Prosecutor and Deputy Advocate General – recorded undisputed factual position that they were appearing on behalf of their respective States primarily in criminal/civil cases and their appointments were basically under the C.P.C. or Cr.P.C. That means their job has been to conduct cases on behalf of the State Government/C.B.I. in courts. Each one of them continued to be enrolled with the respective State Bar Council. In view of this factual position and the legal position that we have discussed above, can it be said that these appellants were ineligible for appointment to the office of Additional District and Sessions Judge? Our answer is in the negative. The Division Bench committed two fundamental errors, first, the Division Bench erred in holding that since these appellants were in full-time employment of the State Government/Central Government, they ceased to be ‘advocate’ under the 1961 Act and the BCI Rules, and second, that being a member of service, the first essential requirement under Article 233(2) of the Constitution that such person should not be in any service under the Union or the State was attracted. In our view, none of the five private appellants, on their appointment as Assistant District Attorney/Public Prosecutor/Deputy Advocate General, ceased to be ‘advocate’ and since each one of them continued to be ‘advocate’, they cannot be considered to be in the service of the Union or the State within the meaning of Article 233(2). The view of the Division Bench is clearly erroneous and cannot be sustained. 102. As regards construction of the expression, “if he has been for not less than seven years an advocate” in Article 233(2) of the Constitution, we think Mr. Prashant Bhushan was right in his submission that this expression means seven years as an advocate immediately preceding the application and not seven years any time in the past. This is clear by use of ‘has been’. The present perfect continuous tense is used for a position which began at some time in the past and is still continuing. Therefore, one of the essential requirements articulated by the above expression in Article 233(2) is that such person must with requisite period be continuing as an advocate on the date of application”.”
Notably, the Bench then underscores in para 5 that, “While perusing the grounds of challenge, it is clear from the factual data that petitioner cannot seek appointment as Judicial Officer/District Judge in this calendar year as the petitioner does not fulfill the criteria fixed as per provisions of Articles 233, 234 and 236 of the Constitution of India and the rules for. The question is whether the break in practice of the petitioner can be condoned? The decision in Deepak Aggarwal (supra) will not help the petitioner as in our case the Rules categorically mention and has been interpreted to mean seven years in Satish Kumar Sharma v. Bar Counsel of HP, (2001) 2 SCC 365 will have to be looked into. In our case, the petitioner herein from a period of 2017 to 2019 was employed and so there is brake in a legal practice. The Rules framed have to be construed so as to see that the purpose of the legislation is not withered down.”
For sake of clarity, the Bench then specifies in para 6 that, “The term used “has been” is interpreted to mean seven years and has to be in present perfect continuous tense and not has been seven years during any period. This interpretation will not permit us to entertain this petition and grant the mandamus to permit the petitioner to appear in the exam.”
Most significantly, what forms the cornerstone of this notable judgment is then laid bare in para 7 wherein it is enunciated that, “The recent decision of the Division Bench of this Court titled Shashank Singh and others v. Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and another, Writ-A No.27120 of 2018 decided on 3.12.2021 is also pressed in service by Shri Rahul Agarwal, learned counsel for the High Court-namely respondents where in it is held:
“The subject matter of the writ petition relates to the process of Direct Recruitment to the U.P. Higher Judicial Services-2018 (Part II). The Allahabad High Court issued a Notification dated 12.11.2018 inviting applications for direct recruitment to the Uttar Pradesh High Judicial Service-2018 (Part-II);
For appreciating the arguments raised on behalf of the writ petitioners, it would be appropriate to refer to Rule 5 of the U.P. Higher Judicial Service Rules 1975, which is reproduced as under:-
“5. Sources of recruitment.- The recruitment to the Service shall be made
a) by promotion from amongst the Civil Judges (Senior Division) on the basis of Principle of merit-cum-seniority and passing a suitability test.
b) by promotion strictly on the basis of merit through limited competitive examination of Civil Judges (Senior Division) having not less than five years qualifying service;
c) by direct recruitment from amongst the Advocates of not less than seven years standing as on the last date fixed for the submission of application forms.
The U.P. Higher Judicial Service Rules, 1975 have been framed in exercise of the power conferred by the Proviso to Article 309 read with Article 233 of the Constitution of India.
The Article 233 of the Constitution of India has been recently interpreted by the Hon’ble Apex Court in the Civil Appeal No.1698 of 2020 (Dheeraj Mor Vs. Hon’ble High Court of Delhi) arising out of SLP (C) No.14156 of 2015 and other connected matters vide decision dated February 19th, 2020 reported in 2020 SCC online SC 213. The Hon’ble Apex Court after considering all aspects of the matter observed as under:-
“59. In view of the aforesaid interpretation of Article 233, we find that rules debarring judicial officers from staking their claim as against the posts reserved for direct recruitment from bar are not ultra vires as rules are subservient to the provisions of the Constitution.
60. We answer the reference as under:-
(i) The members in the judicial service of the State can be appointed as District Judges by way of promotion or limited competitive examination.
(ii) The Governor of a State is the authority for the purpose of appointment, promotion, posting and transfer, the eligibility is governed by the Rules framed under Articles 234 and 235.
(iii) Under Article 232(2), an Advocate or a pleader with 7 years of practice can be appointed as District Judge by way of direct recruitment in case he is not already in the judicial service of the Union or a State.
(iv) For the purpose of Article 233(2), an Advocate has to be continuing in practice for not less than 7 years as on the cut-off date and at the time of appointment as District Judge. Members of judicial service having 7 years’ experience of practice before they have joined the service or having combined experience of 7 years as lawyer and member of judiciary, are not eligible to apply for direct recruitment as a District Judge.
(v) The rules framed by the High Court prohibiting judicial service officers from staking claim to the post of District Judge against the posts reserved for Advocates by way of direct recruitment, cannot be said to be ultra vires and are in conformity with Articles 14, 16 and 233 of the Constitution of India.
(vi) The decision in Vijay Kumar Mishra (supra) providing eligibility, of judicial officer to compete as against the post of District Judge by way of direct recruitment, cannot be said to be laying down the law correctly. The same is hereby overruled.
61. In the case of Dheeraj Mor and others cases, time to time interim orders have been passed by this Court, and incumbents in judicial service were permitted to appear in the examination. Though later on, this Court vacated the said interim orders, by that time certain appointments had been made in some of the States and in some of the States results have been withheld by the High Court owing to complication which has arisen due to participation of the ineligible in-service candidates as against the post reserved for the practising advocates. In the cases where such in-service incumbents have been appointed by way of direct recruitment from bar as we find no merit in the petitions and due to dismissal of the writ petitions filed by the judicial officers, as sequel no fruits can be ripened on the basis of selection without eligibility, they cannot continue as District Judges.
They have to be reverted to their original post. In case their right in channel for promotion had already been ripened, and their juniors have been promoted, the High Court has to consider their promotion in accordance with prevailing rules. However, they cannot claim any right on the basis of such an appointment obtained under interim order, which was subject to the outcome of the writ petition and they have to be reverted.””
Be it noted, the Bench then observes in para 8 that, “In case on hand, the petitioner ceased to be an Advocate under the Advocates Act, 1961 in August 2017 when she got selected as EXAMINER OF TRADE MARK & G.I. It is submitted by learned counsel at that time she surrendered her practicing licence. Thereafter in the year 2019, she was selected as Public Prosecutor in CBI where she is still working. The petitioner is a Public Prosecutor at present but as Public Prosecutor, she has not put in continuous service of 7 years.”
Resultantly, the Bench then minces just no words to hold in para 9 that, “Hence, Deepak Aggarwal (supra) cannot be made applicable to this case. Paragraph 102 of the said decision which has been quoted above will not permit us to grant writ of mandamus for permitting the petitioner in the exam, as she is not qualified practicing period just when she applied in pursuance to the advertisement issued by the present respondents.”
As a corollary, the Bench then directs in para 10 that, “In view of these facts, this petition fails and is dismissed.”
Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 11 that, “We are thankful to both the learned counsels for the parties for ably assisting us.”
In sum, the Allahabad High Court has left no stone unturned to make it absolutely clear in this landmark judgment that advocates need to be in continuous practice for 7 years on date of application to seek appointment as District Judge. It has ably cited relevant judgments also in this regard. The Court noted that the petitioner ceased to be an advocate under the Advocates Act, 1961 in August 2017 when she got selected as Examiner of Trademark & GI and she had surrendered her practicing licence. The Court also pointed out that thereafter in 2019, she was selected as Public Prosecutor in CBI where she is still working. The Court also hastened to point out that she is a Public Prosecutor at present but as Public Prosecutor she has not put in continuous service of 7 years so that she becomes eligible to sit for the final examination. So all these key factors played a big role to convince the Allahabad High Court that the petitioner was not in continuous practice for not less than 7 years [with no break in between] as on the cut-off date and at the time of appointment as District Judge.
As a consequence, the petition of petitioner thus rightly stood rejected! There can certainly be just no denying it!

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court holds off on decision in Baba Ramdev contempt case



The Supreme Court has deferred its decision on a contempt notice issued against yoga guru Ramdev, his associate Balkrishna, and their company Patanjali Ayurved in connection with a case involving misleading advertisements. The bench, comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, stated, “Orders on the contempt notice issued to respondents 5 to 7 (Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, Balkrishna, and Ramdev) are reserved.” The Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority (SLA) informed the court that manufacturing licenses for 14 products of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd and Divya Pharmacy have been suspended immediately. The Supreme Court noted that the counsel representing the firm had requested time to submit an affidavit detailing the actions taken to retract the advertisements of Patanjali products and to recall the medicines.

Highlighting the importance of public awareness and responsible influence, the court emphasized that Baba Ramdev wields significant influence and should employ it responsibly. It awaits an affidavit from Patanjali outlining the measures implemented to withdraw the existing misleading advertisements of the company’s products, with instructions for submission within three weeks.

During the proceedings, Indian Medical Association (IMA) President R V Asokan extended an unconditional apology to the bench for remarks made against the top court in a recent interview with news agency PTI. Justice Kohli conveyed to Asokan that public figures cannot criticize the court in media interviews. However, the court indicated its disinclination to accept the apology affidavit submitted by the IMA president at present. In an earlier hearing on May 7, the apex court had denounced Asokan’s statements as “very, very unacceptable.” The court reiterated its stance that celebrities and social media influencers are equally liable for the products they endorse, warning that if such products are found to be misleading, they could face repercussions.

The case stems from a plea filed in 2022 by the IMA alleging a smear campaign by Patanjali against the Covid-19 vaccination drive and modern medical systems. As the legal proceedings unfold, the Supreme Court continues to emphasize the importance of accountability and responsible conduct in advertising and public discourse. The case underscores the need for stringent regulations to curb misleading advertisements and ensure consumer protection. With the demand for transparency and ethical practices on the rise, the judiciary plays a pivotal role in upholding standards of integrity in commercial communications.

As the court awaits the submission of the affidavit from Patanjali, stakeholders across industries are keenly observing the developments, anticipating their implications on advertising practices and regulatory enforcement in the country.

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Australia fights Musk’s platform over control of online content



In a courtroom battle that underscores the complex interplay between global tech giants and national regulatory frameworks, Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, finds itself at odds with Australian law over the removal of graphic content depicting a terrorist attack.

At the heart of the dispute lies a fundamental question: to what extent should a platform like X be compelled to adhere to the laws of a specific country when it comes to content moderation? The legal showdown commenced as the eSafety Commissioner of Australia sought the removal of 65 posts showcasing a harrowing video of an Assyrian Christian bishop being stabbed during a sermon in Sydney, classified as a terrorist incident by authorities.

Tim Begbie, representing the cyber regulator, argued that while X has policies in place to remove harmful content, it cannot claim unilateral authority to decide what is acceptable under Australian law. He contended that X’s resistance to globally removing the posts challenges the notion of reasonableness within the scope of Australia’s Online Safety Act.

X’s stance, guided by its mission to uphold free speech, underscores a broader philosophical debate surrounding the jurisdictional reach of national laws in the digital realm. The company maintains that while it has blocked access to the posts for Australian users, it refuses to implement global removal, asserting that the internet should not be governed by the laws of a single nation.

However, Begbie argued that geo-blocking, the solution proposed by X, is ineffective due to the widespread use of virtual private networks (VPNs) by a significant portion of the Australian population.

Amidst the legal wrangling, X’s lawyer, Bret Walker, contended that the company had taken reasonable steps to comply with Australian laws while balancing the principles of free expression. He emphasized the importance of allowing global access to newsworthy content, cautioning against the suppression of information on a global scale. The implications of such an approach, he argued, extend beyond Australia’s borders, potentially setting a precedent for censorship on a global scale.

As the case unfolds in the Federal Court, Judge Geoffrey Kennett has issued a temporary takedown order for the posts, extending it until June 10 pending a final decision. The outcome of this legal battle is poised to have far-reaching implications, not only for the regulation of online content in Australia but also for the broader discourse surrounding internet governance and free speech in the digital age.

Beyond the legal arguments, the case underscores the evolving dynamics between tech platforms and regulatory authorities, highlighting the challenges of reconciling competing interests in an increasingly interconnected world. With the proliferation of digital platforms and the rise of social media, questions surrounding content moderation, censorship, and the balance between freedom of expression and societal harm have come to the forefront of public discourse.

In the digital era, where information knows no borders and online platforms wield immense influence over public discourse, the case of X versus Australian law serves as a microcosm of the broader tensions between technology, governance, and individual rights. As societies grapple with the complexities of the digital age, the need for robust legal frameworks, ethical guidelines, and international cooperation becomes ever more apparent.

As the legal battle between X and Australian authorities unfolds, it underscores the intricate relationship between technology, law, and societal norms in the digital age. At stake is not just the removal of graphic content depicting a heinous act but also the broader principles of free speech, censorship, and the jurisdictional reach of national regulations in a globalized world.

The outcome of this case carries significant implications for the future of online content moderation and regulation. On one hand, proponents of free speech argue that platforms like X should have the autonomy to determine their content policies without being unduly influenced by the laws of individual countries. They contend that a global approach to content moderation ensures consistency and prevents the fragmentation of the internet along national lines.

On the other hand, proponents of regulation argue that national laws play a crucial role in safeguarding citizens from harmful content and upholding community standards. They assert that while platforms may operate globally, they must abide by the laws of the countries in which they operate, particularly when it comes to content that poses a threat to public safety or incites violence.

Amidst these competing interests, the case highlights the need for a nuanced approach to content moderation that balances the principles of free speech with the protection of users from harm. It also underscores the importance of international cooperation and dialogue in addressing cross-border challenges in the digital realm.

Beyond the legal realm, the case has broader implications for the future of internet governance and the regulation of online platforms. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, policymakers around the world face the daunting task of crafting regulations that are effective, enforceable, and adaptable to the ever-changing digital landscape.

Moreover, the case raises important questions about the role of tech companies in shaping public discourse and influencing democratic processes. With social media platforms serving as key channels for information dissemination and political engagement, the decisions made by companies like X have far-reaching consequences for the functioning of democratic societies.

Ultimately, the resolution of this case will have significant implications not only for X and its users but also for the broader digital ecosystem. It will shape the future trajectory of online content moderation, influence regulatory approaches to technology platforms, and set precedents for how governments and tech companies interact in the digital age.

As the legal proceedings continue, stakeholders from across sectors will closely monitor developments, recognizing that the outcome of this case has the potential to reshape the digital landscape for years to come. Whether it leads to greater clarity in content moderation policies, a re-evaluation of regulatory frameworks, or a deeper understanding of the complexities of governing the internet, the case of X versus Australian law represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate over the future of online governance and free speech in the digital age.

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court Framed Issues To Consider, Hearing In July 2024: Challenge To Surrogacy Law



SC seeks Centre’s reply on fresh pleas against CAA

The Supreme Court in the case Arun Muthuvel v. Union of India has elucidated the issues it will consider in a batch of petitions challenging provisions of the Surrogacy Regulation Act, 2021 and the Surrogacy Regulation Rules, 2022. The bench comprising of Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice AG Masih passed the order recording the following issues:

  1. Whether the prohibition of commercial surrogacy as stated under Section 4(ii)(b) and Section 4(ii)(c) of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021 is constitutional?
  2. Whether the right of a couple to avail surrogacy being restricted to married couples between the age of 23 to 50 years and in case of female and between 26 to 55 years in case of male as it is being provided as stated under Section 4(iii)(c)(I) read with Section 2(1)(h) of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, is constitutional?
  3. Whether the right of a single woman to avail surrogacy being restricted to only widows or divorcees between the ages of 35 to 45 years as it is provided being under Section 2(1)(s) of the Surrogacy, the Regulation Act 2021, is constitutional?
  4. Whether the right of an intending couple to avail surrogacy being restricted to only those couples who do not have a surviving child as provided as stated under Section 4(iii)(c)(II) of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021, is constitutional?
  5. Whether individuals who initiated the process of availing surrogacy which being prior to the enactment of the Surrogacy, the Regulation Act, 2021 have any right to avail surrogacy in a manner which being beyond the scope of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021, save for cases falling within the ambit of Section 53 of the Act?

The petitioner in the plea highlighted an additional issue which relates to exclusion of single men from the purview of Surrogacy Regulation Act.

Therefore, the lead petition in the matter has been filed by an infertility specialist from Chennai, Dr. Arun Muthuvel, through Advocate Mohini Priya and Advocate Ameyavikrama Thanvi.

Therefore, while highlighting various contradictions in the Surrogacy Regulation Act and the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, thus, the petitioner in the plea points out that the twin legislations inaugurated a legal regime that was discriminatory and was violative of the constitutional rights of privacy and reproductive autonomy.

The Supreme Court in the case observed and has agreed to hear the petition wherein it challenges against the two Acts. In September last year, several other petitions and applications were filed wherein similar questions were raised, such as whether it was constitutional to exclude unmarried women from the ambit of the Surrogacy Act, or whether limiting the number of donations made by an oocyte donor under the ART Act would amount to unscientific and irrational restrictions.

The bench in the case observed and has expressed reservations about hearing the challenges to both the Acts simultaneously, as the linkage between the provisions of the two Acts could not be ascertained in the present matter. Further, the said court decided that issues wrt the Surrogacy Regulation Act will be heard first, followed by those which relate to the ART Act.

The court asked the parties to file written submissions on the foregoing issues. It has also been clarified by the said court that the petitioners need not restrict their submissions to the issues recorded by the court. Any ‘related’ issue may also be raised during the proceedings.

Accordingly, the court listed the matter for further consideration on July 30, 2024.

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Legally Speaking

SC ruling on spectrum allocation doesn’t affect satellites



SC seeks Centre’s reply on fresh pleas against CAA

The Supreme Court’s decision to reject the government’s application seeking clarification on administrative allocation of spectrum for non-mobile services is not expected to impact the allocation of satellite spectrum as outlined in the Telecom Bill, according to highly placed sources. In February 2012, the Supreme Court had upheld that auctions were the preferred method for allocating scarce public resources like telecom spectrum.

The Centre had filed a miscellaneous application in December last year seeking a clarification on the matter of administrative allocation of spectrum, which was mentioned in court last week. However, the SC registrar refused to accept the plea, arguing that it was seeking a review of the 2012 order and that there was no ‘reasonable cause’ to entertain it.

Government sources emphasized that this decision would not change the existing laws governing spectrum allocations for satellite communications, as clearly stated in the Telecom Bill. Sources clarified that the application did not seek to amend the 2012 judgment on 2G spectrum allotment nor did it seek permission for administratively allocating spectrum. Spectrum will continue to be auctioned for mobile services, while for the 19 specific use cases cited in the Telecom Bill, it will be allocated administratively.

The government had filed the miscellaneous application at the Supreme Court to explain its intentions before tabling the bill in Parliament, emphasizing that it was not seeking any permission from the court. The application aimed to seek appropriate clarifications from the court regarding the CPIL judgment in 2012, to establish a spectrum assignment framework that includes methods of assignment other than auction in suitable cases, to best serve the common good. In 2012, the SC had criticized the ‘first-come, first served’ method for spectrum allocation, known as the CPIL judgment, and had quashed the 2G spectrum allotted by the United Progressive Alliance government.

Since then, the government has been issuing spectrum administratively in certain cases where auctions are not technically or economically preferred or optimal. The Telecom Bill’s First Schedule lists satellite spectrum and 18 other sectors where administrative allocations will be compulsory, including law enforcement, public broadcasting, in-flight and maritime connectivity, the Indian Army and Coast Guard, and radio backhaul for telecom services. Government sources noted that all stakeholders were consulted on the issue, and the government was confident of its legal standing as outlined in the Telecommunications Act.

The SC, in a presidential reference, did not specify that all spectrum should be auctioned, only that for mobile services. The Supreme Court’s decision not to accept the government’s application seeking clarification on spectrum allocation for non-mobile services does not alter the framework outlined in the Telecom Bill. While auctions remain the preferred method for mobile services, administrative allocations will continue for specific use cases, including satellite spectrum, as delineated in the bill.

The rejection of the application underscores the importance of adherence to established legal procedures and the judiciary’s role in upholding regulatory frameworks. Moving forward, the government remains committed to transparent and efficient spectrum allocation, balancing the imperatives of economic efficiency and public interest in the telecommunications sector.

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Legally Speaking

Legal Victory for Ankiti Bose: Limits Imposed on Defamatory Content Regarding Former Zilingo Chief



A legal dispute has unfolded involving B2B fashion startup Zilingo, with former CEO Ankiti Bose on one side, and co-founder Dhruv Kapoor and former COO Aadi Vaidya on the opposing side.

A recent court decision in Delhi has brought focus to a legal dispute involving Ankiti Bose, the former CEO of Zilingo, a prominent technology platform. The court issued an ex parte order in Bose’s favor, instructing certain parties, including Zilingo co-founder Dhruv Kapoor and former COO Aadi Vaidya, to refrain from making defamatory statements against Bose. This decision underscores the importance of protecting reputational rights against unfair reporting.

The court’s ruling cited a prima facie case in Bose’s favor, acknowledging her legal right to safeguard her reputation from damaging remarks. It emphasized that failure to act promptly could lead to irreparable harm to Bose’s reputation. The order specifically bars Kapoor and Vaidya from making any further defamatory postings against the former CEO.

This legal action stems from a broader conflict within Zilingo, a B2B fashion startup that has faced financial struggles since its inception in 2015. Bose’s departure from the company was contentious, marked by allegations of misconduct and underperformance. She subsequently filed a First Information Report (FIR) accusing Kapoor and Vaidya of sexual harassment and business irregularities. In response, the accused have dismissed these claims as retaliatory, asserting that Bose’s actions were prompted by her dismissal from the company.

The litigation highlights the complexities of corporate disputes and the broader implications for individuals and businesses. Beyond the legalities, it reflects the challenges faced by startups navigating internal strife amidst financial difficulties. Zilingo’s trajectory, from inception to liquidation, encapsulates the turbulent landscape of the tech industry and underscores the importance of legal protections for individuals like Bose seeking to safeguard their professional standing amidst controversy. The court’s intervention serves as a reminder of the gravity of reputational issues in the modern corporate environment, particularly amidst the complexities of startup dynamics and leadership disputes.

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court In Patanjali Case: Concerned With All FMCG/Drugs Companies Affecting Lives Of Children And Elderly Through Misleading Ads



The Supreme Court in the case Indian Medical Association v. Union Of India observed and has clarified against Patanjali over publication of misleading advertisements that it was not dealing with Patanjali as a standalone entity; rather, the Court’s concern, in public interest, extended to all those Fast Moving Consumer Goods, FMCGs or drugs companies which take consumers of their products for a ride through misleading advertisements. The bench comprising of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah in its order stated that, this court must clarify that we are not here to gun for a particular party, or a particular agency or a particular authority.

This being the absolute Public Interest Litigation, PIL since it is in the larger interest of the consumers, the public to know which way they are going and how and why they can be misled and how […] is acting to prevent that misuse. Thus, at the end, this is also as we said a part of the process of rule of law. If that is violated, then it affects […].

The court in the case observed that the implementation of laws regulating misleading ads in relation to medicines require deeper examination, as the products are used for babies, school going children and senior citizens based on the ads: Further, the court stated that this court is of the opinion that the issue which relates to implementation of the relevant provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act and the Rules, the Drugs and Cosmetic Act and the Rules, and the Consumers Act and the relevant Rules needs closer examination in the light of the grievances raised by the petitioner…not just limited to the respondents before this court but to all similarly situated or placed FMCGs who have […] misleading advertisements, and taking the public for a ride…affecting the health of babies, school going children and senior citizens who have been consuming products on the basis of the said misrepresentation.

The court while taking into account the misleading ads issued in electronic media impleaded the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Information Technology, and Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Therefore, the same was being done with a view to examine the steps taken by these Ministries to prevent abuse of Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954 (and the Rules), the Drugs and Cosmetic Act 1940 (and Rules) and the Consumer Protection Act. Accordingly, the court listed the matter for further consideration on May 07, 2024.

Background Of The Case:

The Court raps Uttarakhand authorities The said court also came down heavily on the State of Uttarakhand for the failure of its licensing authorities to take legal action against Patanjali and its subsidiary Divya Pharmacy. The bench also asked why it should not think that the authorities were ‘hand in glove’ with Patanjali or Divya Pharmacy.

The court in its order stated that it was ‘appalled’ to note that apart from ‘pushing the file’, the State Licensing Authorities did nothing and were merely trying to ‘pass on the buck’ to ‘somehow delay the matter.’ The court stated that the State Licensing Authority is “equally complicit” due to its inaction against Divya Pharmacy despite having information about t heir advertisements violating the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act.

Further, the court stated that it was refraining from issuing contempt notices to other officers. Further, the court directed that all officers holding the post of Joint Director of the State Licensing Authority, Haridwar between 2018 till date shall also file affidavits explaining inaction on their part.

Background of the Case:

The contempt case was initiated wherein the petition is filed by the Indian Medical Association against Patanjali’s advertisements attacking allopathy and making claims about curing certain diseases. On the Supreme Court reprimand, the Patanjali on last November had assured that it would refrain from such advertisements. The court in the case noted that the misleading advertisements continued, thus, the Court had issued contempt notice to Patanjali and its MD in February.

The court in march considering that reply to the contempt notice was not filed, the personal appearance of the Patanjali MD as well as Baba Ramdev, who featured in the press conferences and advertisements published after the undertaking, was ordered by the said Court. Therefore, the Patanjali MD filed an affidavit wherein it is stated that the impugned advertisements were meant to contain only general statements but inadvertently included offending sentences. Further, the court stated that the advertisements were bona-fide and that Patanjali’s media personnel was not ‘cognizant’ of the November order (wherein the undertaking was given before the Supreme Court).

The affidavit filed also contained an averment that the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act was in an “archaic state” as it was enacted at a time when scientific evidence regarding Ayurvedic medicines was lacking. On the last date of hearing, both Baba Ramdev and MD Balkrishna were physically present in Court. The court expressed its reservations about MD Balkrishna’s affidavit, calling it “perfunctory” and “mere lip service”. The court gave last opportunity to the alleged contemnors for filing a proper affidavit.

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