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Sedition Law: Deactivation of the ‘colonial baggage’



The Supreme Court on May 18 issued interim order curbing the functionality of archaic sedition law under Section 124A of CrPC which was inserted in 1870 by an amendment in Indian Penal Code in 1870 by Sir James Macauley and 152 years have expired since its introduction in British India’s judicial system.

This order will render all appeals, pending trials and proceedings in abeyance so on and so forth till the government has reconsidered its provisions. The bench comprised Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant, Justice Hima Kohli who also asked of the Central as well as State governments to not register any FIRs, go on with any investigation or take coercive measures by invocation of Section 124A of IPC till further orders are passed by the court. However, cases under other sections shall proceed provided that the Court is satisfied that it would not be prejudicial to the accused. The order also called for the relief to the undertrials under said section and allowed such parties to approach the concerned Courts who will be tasked to examine such relief sought while taking into account the present order along with the clear status on this law by the Union of India.

In a series of contentions and counter- arguments, it was put before the Court that the cognisable offences cannot be let go as unregistered according to the law, therefore the government shall be willing direct the States and Union territories to follow the guidelines issued in Vinod Dua case of 2021, also taking responsibility that the registration of fresh cases happens only under the supervision of Superintendent of Police, submitted along with written reasons for such charges. In the Vinod Dua case, the Supreme Court has laid down, “ A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the govt… so long as he does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.”

The petitioners’ counsel, Kapil Sibal, a senior leader of India’s opposition Congress party and a lawyer for the petitioners, objected to the Centre’s request and urged the court to “go ahead with the matter”: “It’s for the judiciary to decide whether a law is constitutional or not. We can’t wait for what they (legislature, executive) will do.”

He told the Supreme Court that there were over 800 sedition cases pending across the country and that over 13,000 people were in prison. According to data provided by the website Article14, the majority of sedition cases launched against 405 Indians for criticising politicians and governments over the last decade occurred after Prime Minister Narendra Modi entered power in 2014.

As against the petitioners’ appeal to put a permanent pause on the sedition law, Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta contended that since the determination of gravity of each case shall be subjected to the discretion of the Court and further judicial review, Section 124A should not be stuck down or stayed along with the fact that “to pass any other order would virtually amount to staying the statutory provision, constitutionality of which is upheld by the Constitution, as of now.”

In the Kedarnath Singh Judgement, the Supreme Court while upholding Section 124A had attempted to prevent its misuse by laying down what amounts to sedition and what does not. The Centre reassured the bench earlier that it is “fully cognizant of the various views” on the concerned law and “has decided to re- examine and reconsider the provisions of Section 124A”. The bench issued the orders after observing that the government has agreed with the prima facie view expressed by the Court that the “rigours of 124 IPC isn’t in tune with current social milieu and was intended for what when the country was under colonial regime”. The government’s affidavit stating the Prime Minister’s belief in getting rid of the “colonial baggage” in view of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav paved way for this awaited reconsideration process.

The sedition law has lately cracked the whip on protestant youth leaders, further inflaming the debate on sustainability of section 124 A in present day and age. Delhi High Court in the case of environment activist Disha Ravi’s case has clarified that the citizens cannot be put “behind bars simply because they chose to disagree with the state policies” and “the offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments.” The bench mentioned Attorney General KK Venugopal who also had “on an earlier date of hearing, given some instances of glaring misuse of this provision like in the case of recital of the Hanuman Chalisa”.

The Queen v. Jogendra Chandra Bose case (1891) in Bangabasi was the first sedition trial. For a long time, there has been a heated dispute over the misuse of Section 124A and whether or not it should be declared unconstitutional. The law which had never been considered enduring even in the colonial era has almost verged on being unreasonably cruel to democracy itself. The data by NCB further presents a gruelling picture. Considering the conviction rate under the sedition law, although the number of arrests for sedition has increased, just 2.25 percent of those arrested have been convicted. Only nine people were convicted in the 399 cases that were filed between 2014 and 2020. Charge sheets were only filed in 169 of the instances reported, according to the ministry of home affairs data. This indicates that the sedition law is not a very effective incarceration tool. In the last seven years, 2,862 citizens have been charged with sedition for protesting against the farm bills, Covid-19, Hathras gang rape, citizenship, and being critical of the government, according to the Article 14 archive. The amount of sedition prosecutions filed each year has increased by 28% since 2014. The Apex Court in the present order stated that it is “cognizant of the security interests and the integrity of State on one hand, and civil liberties of citizens on the other. There is a requirement to balance both sets of considerations, which is a difficult exercise. The case of the petitioners is that this provision of law dates back to 1898 and pre-dates the Constitution itself, and is being misused”.

As per the Section 124 A of IPC, “whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in [India], shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.” What’s more worrying is that after you’ve been arrested for sedition, it’s incredibly difficult to gain bail because the trial process can take a long time. As a result, innocent people are harassed, and others are afraid to speak out against the government. The Kashmiri students in Hubli are an example of how difficult it is to obtain bail in a sedition case, as they were granted default bail after 100 days in police prison.

The rebellion of our country’s freedom warriors against colonial control is one of history’s most well-known examples of sedition. On two instances, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a strong proponent of India’s freedom, was charged of sedition. It was initially given out in 1897 for comments that allegedly incited others to commit acts of violence, culminating in the deaths of two British officers. He was convicted guilty and released on bail in 1898, and in 1909, he was tried for seditious writing in his newspaper, Kesari, which he owned at the time.

Section 124 A was defined and implemented for the first time in 1897. According to the court, the incitement to violence and insurrection was unimportant in the view of the governing Privy Council when determining the blame of a person charged with sedition. This case demonstrated how to interpret the phrase “disaffection.”

The sedition law has been challenged on several grounds. Firstly, it significantly limits the fundamental right of free speech and expression of the individuals by labelling criticism against the government as sedition. It has been almost sinister to observe in a democracy like India that the colonial law that has continued to govern the sedition has been abolished in Britain itself.

The right to free speech and expression is a hallmark of democracy, but it is under threat because to the sedition statute. Citizens must actively participate in debates and express constructive criticism of government policies in a democracy. The executive arm of the government, on the other hand, has been authorised by the sedition laws to use the ambiguously worded provision as a tool to regulate public opinion and indiscriminately wield authority. The sedition legislation has evolved into a tool for instilling civilian obedience with government policies. Many times, the government has utilised the sedition law to silence protesting voices in order to defend its own interests.

This law was reimposed by the very controversial First Amendment that was passed by the government headed by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. While introducing the first amendment to the Constitution in 1951, Nehru had stated that, “Now so far as I am concerned that particular Section (124A IPC) is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should have no place both for practical and historical reasons, if you like, in any body of laws that we might pass. The sooner we get rid of it the better.” This amendment further added to the sedition law the expressions, “friendly relations with foreign state” and “public order” as grounds for imposing “reasonable restrictions” on free speech, which exist till date in section 124A. Hatred, disagreement, enmity, disrespect, and any other type of ill will against the government are all examples of dissatisfaction with the government, as per the said section.

Besides these, heavily provisioned IPC and UAPA 2019 already have in place ample safeguards to shield against “disrupting the public order” or “overthrowing the government with violence and illegal meals”.

The section 124 A poses ambiguous definition of sedition; the words such as “disaffection” are vague enough for investigating officers to misuse it any apply whimsical interpretations. This issue was recently touched upon by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud while restraining the Andhra Pradesh government from taking adverse action against two Telugu news channels booked under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Justice Chandrachud stated, “Everything cannot be seditious. It is time we define what is sedition and what is not.”

This is not unexpected given the extensive use of this statute in recent years, not only against journalists but also against other nonviolent dissenters. The state has a helpful weapon in the shape of the legislation against sedition to maintain law and order in society. It cannot, however, be employed to quell discontent under the guise of putting criminals out of business. Any conduct that has the potential to provoke public disruption or distress through the use of violence is, of course, illegal.

While hearing a PIL filed against Farooq Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Justice Chandrachud remarked, “Expression of views which is dissent and different from the opinion of the government cannot be termed seditious.” Provided that the sedition law is too broad to be indiscriminately exploited by the law enforcement system to harass individuals with a voice to dissent, the courts have been attentive to the current scenario that calls for immediate legal and remedial action to rescue the aggrieved from capricious clutches of the Victorian-era law that ought to be buried with the colonial past.

The Supreme Court of India debated the constitutionality of Section 124A, which criminalises sedition, in the case of Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha v. Union of India (2021). Two Indian journalists, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla, were charged with sedition in connection with posts and cartoons on social media platforms. They’ve filed a writ case contesting the constitutionality of Section 124A, which makes sedition illegal and punishable.

The supporters of sedition law actively advocate that Section 124A can be used to combat anti-national, separatist, and terrorist elements, among other things. It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow it through violent acts and criminal means. Maintaining the legitimacy of the legally created government is a crucial prerequisite for a state’s coherence. If contempt of court leads to criminal prosecution, then so should contempt of government. When someone exercises their right to free expression, it does not mean that they are free to speak whatever they want to whomever. The right to vote has been restricted, which is unfortunate yet necessary. Abusers of freedom of expression are those who use it to separate people on the basis of religion or caste. In a democratic society, it is important to limit one’s freedom in order to protect the rights of others.

People must exercise their right to freedom of expression to the utmost extent feasible while still exercising it responsibly. Right to free expression is currently confined to speaking out against what is wrong.

While the government has finally given the green light, expectations are high on having a progressive definition of sedition to shake things up given the already intense political dialogue.

In a series of contentions and counter- arguments, it was put before the Court that the cognisable offences cannot be let go as unregistered according to the law, therefore, the government shall be willing to direct the States and Union territories to follow the guidelines issued in Vinod Dua case of 2021, also taking responsibility that the registration of fresh cases happens only under the supervision of Superintendent of Police, submitted along with written reasons for such charges. In the Vinod Dua case, the Supreme Court has laid down, “A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the govt… so long as he does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.”

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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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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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