1. Welfare Schemes Should Cover Children Orphaned During COVID & Not Just Who Became Orphans Due To COVID : Supreme Court
The Supreme Court made an oral observation that the the welfare schemes for orphans, such as the one announced under the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund(PM CARES Fund),should cover all children who became orphans during COVID-19, and not just those who got orphaned due to Covid.
The counsel representing the Centre informed the Court that the PM Cares Scheme covers children who have lost both parents, or the lone surviving parent or the legal guardian or the adoptive parent.
However, a bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose observed that the scheme, which contemplates a corpus of Rs 10 lakhs for orphans by the time they turn 23 years, is covering only children who became orphans on account of losing parents during the COVID period. The bench pointed out its suo motu case is dealing with children who became orphans after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
"This needs to be clarified by Union, because we are looking for information on the scheme. Here, this 10 lakh support announced may only be for children whose parents died due to Covid. But I think it should also apply to other orphans from this period," Justice Rao added.
Later during the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati told the bench that the welfare scheme under the PM CARES Funds, in its present form, is for children who became orphans due to COVID.
The bench said that it was not asking to extend the scheme under the PM CARES to all orphans but was highlighting the need to protect all orphans who became so during the pandemic.
What we are thinking is to take care of all children who have been orphaned whether Covid or not Covid. We cannot restrict the orders passed to only orphans who lost both parents to Covid 19. We are not asking you to extend this(PM CARES scheme) but we can't restrict our orders to children who became orphans due to Covid....there are other schemes also and under that they have to be taken care of", Justice Rao said.
The bench also pointed out that India is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Child and therefore the State has an obligation to take care of orphans.
The bench was considering the suo motu case In Re Contagion of COVID Virus in Children Protection Homes. The suo motu case was initiated in March 2020 to address the issue of COVID spread in juvenile homes, child care centres etc. This year, during the second wave, the Court took note of the issue of children who became orphans during the COVID pandemic period.
Source: Bar & Bench
2. West Bengal Govt Constitutes Panel Headed By Justice Madan Lokur To Probe Pegasus Scandal
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee constituted an Inquiry Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya to investigate into the allegations pertaining to the Pegasus spyware scandal. A notification to this effect was issued on Monday by B.P Gopalika, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal.
The development comes days after it was revealed that the Chief Minister's nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee was allegedly snooped on by the Pegasus spyware during the time of the West Bengal Assembly elections 2021.
News portal The Wire along with 16 other media organizations had recently uncovered a 'snoop list' that showed that activists, politicians, journalists, judges and several others were the potential targets of cyber-surveillance conducted through the Israeli firm NSO Group's Pegasus software. Over the past few days, The Wire has published several reports that suggest that the Pegasus spyware has been used illegally to keep tabs on dissidents and journalists.
Through Pegasus, everyone including the judiciary and civic society have been under surveillance. We expected the Centre under the supervision of the Supreme Court to initiate an investigation into the allegations, but they did not. West Bengal is the first State to initiate a commission of inquiry", the Chief Minister pronounced on Monday during a press conference.
The notification issued noted that mobile telephones of various public officials, politicians, journalists, members of the judiciary amongst others had been illegally hacked into using the surveillance software since 2017 resulting in the potential breach of State secrets and privacy of the individuals concerned.
Source: Bar & Bench
3. High Court Must Give Brief Reasons In Order Disposing Application Seeking Leave To Appeal Against Acquittal: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court reiterated that brief reasons must be given in an order disposing an application for leave to appeal under Section 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 against an order of acquittal.
Merely observing that the order of the trial Judge has taken a possible view without an application of mind to the evidence and the findings is not consistent with the duty which is cast upon the High Court while determining whether leave should be granted to appeal against an order of acquittal, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah
The court set aside an order passed by Allahabad High Court in a leave application against acquittal and remanded the matter back.
In this case, the appellant's contention was that while considering an application for the grant of leave to appeal against the order of acquittal, the High Court was required to scrutinize the evidence and findings and to determine as to whether leave should be granted to appeal.
We are of the view that the impugned judgment of the High Court does not meet the requirements which are to be observed, consistent with the provisions of Section 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, where the High Court hears an application for leave to appeal against an order of acquittal, the bench said after perusing the impugned order. Referring to State of Madhya Pradesh vs Giriraj Dubey, State of Orissa vs Dhaniram Luhar and “Chaman Lal vs State of Himachal Pradesh”, the bench said:
The High Court must set forth its reasons, indicating at least in brief, an application of mind to the nature of the evidence and the findings which have been arrived at.
In other words, merely observing that the order of the trial Judge has taken a possible view without an application of mind to the evidence and the findings is not consistent with the duty which is cast upon the High Court while determining whether leave should be granted to appeal against an order of acquittal.
Source: Bar & Bench
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