1. Is It Still Necessary To Continue Sedition Law, Which Was Used By British To Suppress Our Freedom Movement, Even After 75 Yrs Of Independence: CJI Ramana To Centre
The Supreme Court expressed alarm at the rampant misuse of sedition law in the country. CJI NV Ramana also expressed reservation at continuing the use of the provision (Section 124A of IPC), inserted during the colonial era in 1870, purportedly to curb dissent.
"This dispute about law is concerned, its colonial law, it was meant to suppress the freedom movement, the same law was used by British to silence Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak etc. Still is it necessary after 75 years of independence?" the CJI observed while issuing notice on a plea challenging Section 124A of IPC.
The CJI continued, "If we go see history of charging of this section, the enormous power of this section can be compared to a carpenter being given a saw to make an item, uses it to cut the entire forest instead of a tree. That's the effect of this provision."
The CJI further clarified that he is not blaming any state or government for misuse of the provision but, "Unfortunately, the executing agency and particularly the authorities misuse it. Take example of 66A which was struck down but people were arrested. There is misuse of these provisions, but there is no accountability!"
The Judge illustrated that the powers under Section 124A are so vast that a police officer who wants to fix anybody for playing cards, gambling, etc. can also invoke Section 124 A.
"Our concern is misuse of law and no accountability of executive agencies," the CJI said. CJI added that the gravity of the situation is so grim that if some State or a particular party doesn't want to hear a voice, they will use this law to implicate such groups of people.
Source: Bar & Bench
2. Denying Livelihood To People By Linking Their Employment To Their Getting Vaccinated Is Illegal: Manipur High Court
The Manipur High Court has ruled that denying livelihood by linking employment of people to their getting vaccinated is an illegal act of the State and that such a measure would trample upon the freedom of the individual to get vaccinated or choose not to do so.
The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Kh. Nobin Singh ruled thus: "Restraining people who are yet to get vaccinated from opening institutions, organizations, factories, shops, etc., or denying them their livelihood by linking their employment, be it NREGA job cardholders or workers in Government or private projects, to their getting vaccinated would be illegal on the part of the State."
The matter before the Court:- The Court was hearing a PIL petition challenging the Notification dated 30th June, 2021, issued by the Home Department, Government of Manipur, which stated that the State Government proposed to relax curfew/containment zone orders in the future in a calibrated manner by assessing the Covid infection scenario.
Further, it said that while opening up, without compromising public health safety, the Government considered it prudent to prioritize the opening of institutions, organizations, factories, shops, markets, private offices, etc., where employees and workers were Covid vaccinated.
The Government further stated that this would also apply to NREGA job cardholders and workers of Government/ private projects.
Court's observations: Prima facie, the Court found that the notification was an attempt to make vaccination mandatory as it favored those who are vaccinated, not only in terms of prioritizing the opening up of their institutions, organizations, etc., but also by linking vaccination as a condition precedent for employment of NREGA job cardholders and workers in Government and private projects.
Significantly, the Court opined: "It is for the State Government to dispel such fears by educating people as to the advantages of getting vaccinated and erase their apprehension of the adverse consequences of getting vaccinated. Without addressing this issue, the State cannot seek to impose conditions upon the citizens so as to compel them to get vaccinated, be it by holding out a threat or by putting them at a disadvantage for failing to get vaccinated."
A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice HS Thangkhiew observed thus: "Article 21 encompasses within its fold, right to health, as a fundamental right. By that same analogy, right to health care, which includes vaccination, is a fundamental right.
However, vaccination by force or being made mandatory by adopting coercive methods, vitiates the very fundamental purpose of the welfare attached to it. It impinges on the fundamental right(s) as such, especially when it affects the right to means of livelihood which makes it possible for a person to live."
Source: Bar & Bench
3. Excludes Young Successful Advocates; Arbitrary & Discriminatory' : Supreme Court Strikes Down Minimum Age Limit Of 50 Years For Appointment As Tribunal Members
The Supreme Court has held by 2:1 majority that the minimum age limit of 50 years prescribed by the Tribunals Reforms(Rationalization and Conditions of Service) Ordinance 2021for appointment as members in various tribunals to be "arbitrary and discriminatory".
The majority comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat observed that this minimum age stipulation of 50 years introduced by the Ordinance violated the earlier direction given by the Court in the 2020 Madras Bar Association case that advocates with minimum experience of 10 years should be made eligible for appointment as members of tribunals.
The 3-judge was delivering judgment in the fresh writ petition filed by Madras Bar Association this year challenging the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance. Justice Hemant Gupta dissented from the majority and dismissed the writ petition.
This minimum age stipulation was brought in through first proviso to Section 184(1) of the Finance Act 2017 which was added through the amendment effected by the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance passed in 2021.
Holding this provision to be unconstitutional, the judgment authored by Justice Nageswara Rao said : "Fixing a minimum age for recruitment of Members as 50years would act as a deterrent for competent advocates to seek appointment. Practically, it would be difficult for an advocate appointed after attaining the age of 50 years to resume legal practice after completion of one term, in case he is not reappointed. Security of tenure and conditions of service are recognised as core components of independence of the judiciary.
In furtherance to this, Independence of the judiciary can be sustained only when the incumbents are assured of fair and reasonable conditions of service, which include adequate renumeration and security of tenure. Therefore, the first proviso to Section 184(1) is in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers as the judgment of this Court in MBA-III has been frustrated by an impermissible legislative override. Resultantly, the first proviso to Section 184 (1) is declared as unconstitutional as it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution".
Age limit of 50 years excludes young successful advocates from the zone of consideration, Justice Ravindra Bhat wrote a separate but concurring judgment, which elaborated why the minimum age limit for 50 years for appointment as members in tribunals is arbitrary and irrational.
Justice Bhat pointed out that as per the Constitution, an advocate with experience of 10 years is eligible to be appointed as a High Court. An advocate with 7 years' practice with the Bar can be considered for appointment to the position of a District Judge. Hence, this prescription of 50 years as minimum age for appointment in tribunals was lacking in rationale.
Source: Bar & Bench
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