Prime Minister Narendra Modi rules out rethink on decisions on Article 370 and CAA ‘despite pressure’

Ruling out any rethink on decisions on CAA and Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that his government remains and will remain firm on the steps despite pressure from all sides.

“Be it the scrapping of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir or the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the country waited for decisions on these for years,” he told a public meeting here during a day-long visit to his Lok Sabha constituency.

“These decisions were necessary in the interest of the nation. Duniya bhar ke saarey dabao ke bawjood, inn faislon par hum qayam hain aur qayam rahengey (Despite pressure from all sides, we remain firm on these decisions and will continue to remain firm,” Modi said.

Provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which accorded special powers to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, were abrogated by the government in August last year.

The prime minister’s tough talk assumed significance in view of protests against the CAA in various parts of the country.

Citing certain key decisions of his government, Modi referred to the trust set up for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and asserted that it would work “rapidly”.

“A trust has been formed for the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. This trust will work rapidly,” he said.

He said that after setting up of the trust, the work on the construction of ‘Ram dham’ will start with fast speed and added that his government has also decided to transfer 67 acres of land to the trust.

The government had recently set up the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra on the Supreme Court’s directive to the Union government to form a trust that can look into the construction and management of the temple.

The prime minister earlier launched or laid foundation of 50 projects worth Rs 1,254 crore in his Lok Sabha constituency.

He also flagged off IRCTC’s ‘Maha Kaal Express’ through video link during his day-long visit to the city.

It will be the first overnight privately-run train in the country to connect three Jyotirling pilgrimage centres of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, and Ujjain and Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh.

The prime minister dedicated to the nation the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Memorial Centre and unveiled a 63-foot statue of the RSS ideologue — the tallest statue of the leader in the country.

“The soul of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya give us encouragement. We are working for uplift of Dalits, deprived and others sections. And this is what Upadhyaya’s ‘Antyoday’ says – to give all facilities to last beneficiary in the queue,” Modi said.

He also inaugurated a 430-bed super-speciality government hospital here.

He said that in past few years, Rs 25,000 crore worth developmental projects have either completed or were going on in fast speed in Varanasi.

Roadway, highway, waterway and railway have been given top priority by the government and the Purvanchal Expressway work was going on at fast speed in Uttar Pradesh.

The prime minister also laid emphasis on better connectivity of heritage and religious sites, saying that tourism will be the main source of making the country 5 trillion dollar economy.

He said, “Our behaviour as a citizen will decide direction of the country in future. Country is not made by governments only, but values of people residing here.”

Soon after his arrival here, Modi participated in the closing ceremony of the centenary celebrations of the Shri Jagadguru Vishwaradhya Gurukul and released the translated version of the Shri Siddhant Shikhamani Granth in 19 languages and its mobile application.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Chief Minster Yogi Adityanath and Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa were present on the occasion.

Launching the ‘Shri Siddhant Shikhamani Granth’ Mobile App, the prime minister said it is a coincidence that the centenary celebrations are taking place at the beginning of a new decade and that this decade will once again establish India’s role in 21st century in the world.

He said the digitisation of Shri Siddhant Shikhamani Granth via Mobile App will further strengthen the engagement with the younger generation and will also inspire their lives.

Modi suggested conducting an annual quiz competition on topics related to Granth, via this Mobile app.

He said translation of Granth in 19 languages will help in making it accessible to a wider public.

The prime minister said, “Our conduct as a citizen will determine the future of India, will decide the direction of a new India.”

He said following the path shown by the saints, we have to fulfil the aspirations of our lives and continue to cooperate fully in nation building.

Modi appreciated people’s contributions in creating awareness about cleanliness and taking the Swachhta Mission to each and every corner of the country.

He urged them to use ‘Made-in-India’ products.

He also asked everyone to participate in Jal Jeevan mission to make it a success.

The prime minister said a significant and visible improvement was made in cleaning the Ganga River. This, he said, could be achieved only because of the public participation.

He said under Namami Gange Programme, projects worth Rs 7,000 crores have been completed while work on projects worth Rs 21,000 crores is under progress.

Modi inaugurated ‘Kashi Ek, Roop Anek’, an arts and handicrafts exhibition, at the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Hastkala Sankul here.

He evinced keen interest in the products on display as he went around several stalls and personally interacted with buyers and artisans coming from different countries, including the US, England and Australia.

‘Kashi Ek Roop Anek’ showcased products from over 10,000 artisans from all over Uttar Pradesh. There are 23 lakh artisans and weavers residing in Uttar Pradesh. Of them, about 35,800 artisans and 1.5 lakh weavers stay in Varanasi alone.

The Uttar Pradesh government had launched the ambitious scheme ‘One District, One Product’ (ODOP) in which one craft per district was identified.

Supreme Court on legal sanction to Passive Euthanasia and the Governments Stand

Common Cause Vs Union of India & Others, has “laid down the principles relating to the procedure for execution of Advance Directive and provided the guidelines to give effect to passive euthanasia in both circumstances

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then  Chief Justice of India Sh. Dipak Misra, in its final judgment on 9th March, 2018 in the matter of Common Cause Vs Union of India & Others, had “laid down the principles relating to the procedure for execution of Advance Directive and provided the guidelines to give effect to passive euthanasia in both circumstances, namely, where there are advance directives and where there are none, in exercise of the power under Article 142 of the Constitution”. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has further directed that “the directive and guidelines shall remain in force till the Parliament brings a legislation in the field”.

Supreme court has not given legal sanction to passive euthanasia, as of now the matter regarding formulation of legislation on Passive Euthanasia is under consideration in the Ministry.

Also the Law Commission, vide its 241st Report titled ‘Passive Euthanasia- A Relook’, proposed for making a legislation on Passive Euthanasia’ and also prepared a draft Bill, The medical treatment of terminally ill patients (protection of patients and medical practitioners) Bill’. This bill has been examined by the Committee of Experts under the Directorate General of Health Services in the Ministry.

Major recommendations of the Expert Committee are as below:
# It has proposed only Passive Euthanasia.
# No provision for Active Euthanasia.
# Provision for a written medical directive given by a competent person called as Advance Medical Directive.  Applicable for patients with terminal illness, as defined in the Bill.
# Separate provisions for process of withholding of treatment for competent and incompetent terminally ill patients.
The matter regarding formulation of legislation on Passive Euthanasia is under consideration in this Ministry.

Rights of Second Wife – With reference to Bigamous Marriage in India

Written by: Varun Shivhare, II Year, National Law Institute University (NLIU), Bhopal

Second marriage, during the subsistence of the first marriage, is illegal in India and the relationship arising from the same does not have any validity. Even though the law is very clear on this point, ‘second marriage’ is a common practice in Indian society. As a result of the aforementioned contrast between the law and social practice, second wives in India have little protection under the law.

With the commencement of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA), one of the condition provided for a valid for a valid marriage was that neither party should have a spouse living at the time of the marriage. Under the old law, there was a bar against a woman marrying a second husband while her first husband is alive unless custom permitted her. There was no such bar against men, till some States passed laws for prevention of bigamous marriages, and introduce the principle of monogamy among Hindus. After 1955, with the help of the aforementioned provision and Section 11, Hindu Marriage Act, second marriages came be declared null and void ab initio. In this behalf, under the Hindu Marriage Act it is necessary is a marriage according to the customs and rites, and secondly, that the spouse of the first marriage was a legally wedded spouse and the second marriage was subsisting on the date of the second marriage.

The social stigma attached with being a second wife, the absence of any legal status to the relationship, and the enormous pain of being cheated into the marriage are undoubtedly extremely depressing for a woman. Even though there is no recognition given to a second wife, due to the judicial interpretation of existing law as discussed above, she may have some chances of getting maintenance. In the absence of any clear provisions under the law, her chances of claiming her rights are largely dependent on the discretion of the judges.

Even under the criminal law, it is extremely to prove bigamy, as the marriage has to be validly performed to prove the offence of bigamy. Usually these loop holes in the law are exploited by men to defend themselves in such cases.

Historical Prospective
Though monogamy is the rule from Vedic times, polygamy has, as an exception, existed side by side. But, the wife who was wedded first was alone the wife in the fullest sense. One text of Manu seems to indicate that there was a time when a second marriage was allowed to a man after the death of his former wife. Another set of text justifies a husband taking another wife. It was only when a wife was barren, diseased or vicious that she could be superseded and a second marriage was valid; as also when she consented.

As a norm, the first wife had precedence over the others and her first-born son over his half brothers. It is probable that originally, the subsequent wives were considered as merely a superior class of concubines. Later, in the courts of British India. it was a settled law that a Hindu male could without any restriction marry again while his previous marriage subsisted (second marriage) without his wife’s consent and justification.

Custom, however, did prevent the second marriage without the consent of the first wife and without making provision for her. It was however held in Raghveer Kumar v Shanmukha Vadivar, that a custom prevalent amongst Nadars in Udumalapeta Taluk preventing a second marriage, even if established could not have the force of law.

Proof of Second Marriage
The supreme court has laid down that proof of solemnization of second marriage in accordance with the essential religious rites applicable to parties is absolutely essential and a must for conviction for bigamy and that mere admission on the part of the accused that he had contacted second marriage was not enough and that such admission is not evidence for the purpose of proving marriage in an adultery or bigamy case. in customary marriage, where custom is not pleaded, living together as husband and wife would not enough. But where in the case it was proved that dola was brought, bhanwar ( saptapadi ) and kanyadan had taken place, the full vivah was read out and the marriage was performed by a purohit, the marriage must be held to have been duly solemnized.

In a Hindu marriage, where a Hindu marriage is performed according to religious rites, performance of homa and saptapadi are essential and where they are not proved to have been parformed it cannot be called a solemnised marriage under the section. To prosecution person under Section 494 I.P.C., there is nothing in the act forbidding a prosecution for offence punishable under Section 494 of penal code not preceded by declaration obtained under provisions of the act that second marriage is void. Second marriage must be legally valid marriage so as to come within mischief of Section 494. The word ‘ solemnize ‘ means in connection with a marriage, ‘ to celebrate the marriage with proper ceremonies and in due form’, according to shorter oxford dictionary. It follows, therefore, that unless the marriage is ‘ celebrated or performed with proper ceremonies and due form ‘, it cannot be said to be solemnized ‘. it is therefore, essential, for the purpose of Section 17 of the act, that the marriage to which sec 494, I.P.C applies on account of the provisions of the act, should have been celebrated with proper ceremonies and in due form. Merely going through certain ceremonies with the intention that the parties be taken to be married, will not make the ceremonies prescribed by law or approved by any established custom.

Husband or Wife Must be Alive
The section will not apply if the husband or wife of the first marriage is dead or if the first marriage she has been dissolved by a decree of divorce. The limit of one year imposed by Section 15 will not apply to marriage under the section, as Section 15 is confined only to the parties to that marriage. The present section will not also apply if the former marriage is void or declared void by a decree of nullity. The section declare the subsequent marriage void. It will not, therefore, affect the validity of the former marriage. Notice a that sec 494 of the Indian Penal Code exempts from punishment a second marriage bona fide contracted after seven years absence of the husband or the wife, who has not been heard of by those likely to hear from him or her, during the period. Offences under sec 494 and 495 of the Indian Penal Code are non-cognizable.

Who Can Complain
Only the person aggrieved can complain in case of bigamy. if it is the wife who is aggrieved, then her father can complain as he is the lineal ascendant of the wife.

Grant of Injunction
A petition restraining the husband/wife from marrying second time in not maintainable. But a suit for perpetual injunction by the wife restarting her Hindu husband from contracting second marriage would lie jurisdiction of civil court to entertain such suit is not excluded by Hindu marriage act. A petition for declaration that the second marriage is void can be filed by only parties to the marriage and not by first wife.

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
With the commencement of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA), one of the condition provided for a valid for a valid marriage was that neither party should have a spouse living at the time of the marriage. Under the old law, there was a bar against a woman marrying a second husband while her first husband is alive unless custom permitted her. There was no such bar against men, till some States passed laws for prevention of bigamous marriages, and introduce the principle of monogamy among Hindus. After 1955, with the help of the aforementioned provision and Section 11, Hindu Marriage Act, second marriages came be declared null and void ab initio. In this behalf, under the Hindu Marriage Act it is necessary is a marriage according to the customs and rites, and secondly, that the spouse of the first marriage was a legally wedded spouse and the second marriage was subsisting on the date of the second marriage. In case of a spouse unheard of for more than 7 years, a presumption can be drawn under Section 108 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Evidence Act) that the spouse is dead. In such an event, the other spouse can marry a second time on the ground that the former marriage is dissolve due to the civil death of his/her spouse. This was held in Lalchand Narwali v. Mahant Ram Rupgir. Also it is important to note that as a second marriage is void even if it is not declared as void, a third party interested in the marriage (the first wife) can also get the second the second marriage declared as null and void.

Ishwar Singh v. Smt Hukum Kaur – AIR 1965 All. 465
The opposite party Smt. Hukum Kaur filed an application under section 488 CrPC against the applicant on the allegation that the applicant was her husband, that he was neglecting her and that she was entitled to get her monthly allowance from him for maintenance. The applicant denied to have married the opposite party. Party led evidence and the learned magistrate held that the marriage of the applicant with the opposite party has been established, that the applicant with the opposite party and, therefore, he is liable to pay her a maintenance at the rate of Rs. 15 per month. On revision the learned session judge has referred the case with a recommendation at the order passed by the magistrate be set aside, because, admittedly the opposite parties previous husband Brahma Pal was alive and therefore there could be no legal marriage between the opposite party and the applicant entitling the opposite party to receive any maintenance.

In this case it was also observed, “so long as such a divorce has not be obtained, the previous marriage subsists and, therefore, the second marriage cannot be contracted by the Hindu so long his spouse is living”. Section 5 of the HMA provides that the marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindu’s , if neither party has the spouse living at the time of the marriage. In the instant case the previous husband of the opposite party is still alive and therefore a second marriage with the applicant even it is held to have taken effect was wholly illegal and can not given any right to get a maintenance from the applicant.

Trailokya Mohan v State of Assam – AIR 1968, Assam 22
Petitioner having already a wife living name Subarna Bala Nath , married a second time one Sefali Debi and thus committed the offence of bigamy punishable under the IPC read with the provisions of the HMA 1955.

In this case the court further observed, under the provision of sec 5 (1) HMA , one of the condition of a valid Hindu marriage is that it should be solemnized between two Hindus , neither party having a spouse living at that time. Where the accused himself in his statement under sec 342 CrPC had admitted that he did marry A during the life time of Bill of Lading , whom he married first. And that admission was corroborated by oral evidence of witnesses who in their cross-examination did not take a stand that the second marriage was invalid, there is a presumption of a valid marriage and when a strong satisfactory and conclusive evidence to rebut the presumption was totally lacking in the case, it must be held at a valid second marriage was solemnized and that was the basis of the admission made by the accused and it could be relied upon.

Criminal Law
Under criminal law, the first wife aggrieved by a second marriage can file a complaint for bigamy. Under section 494, IPC, “whoever, having a husband or wife living, contracts a marriage during the life of the former husband or wife, is void…” and therefore the same is also an offence punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years or fine or both. This section does not extend to any person whose marriage with such husband or wife has been declared void by the court of competent jurisdiction. Under section 495, IPC, bigamy committed by concealing the fact of the first marriage is punishable with 10 years imprisonment or fine or both. A complaint can also be filed for cheating under section 415, IPC. Cheating is defined under section 415, IPC, as fraudulently or dishonesty inducing the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything, which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived. Such an act or omission should be proved to cause or likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property. Therefore, if the fact of the subsistence of the first marriage is kept a secret, apart from a complaint under bigamy provision, a complaint can also be filed for those offences of cheating. Often it is difficult to prove the fact of the second marriage. A man faced with the criminal complaint for bigamy would often argued that his relationship with the second woman was not one of marriage as the necessary as the necessary formalities of a valid marriage as required by law were not performed.

Naurang Singh v. Sapla Devi – AIR 1968 All. 1958.
Smt. Sapla Devi made an application under Section 488, CrPC, for grant of maintenance on the ground that she was married to Naurang Singh, petitioner about two years ago and thereafter one year of the marriage the relation between them became strained and Naurang singh also married a second wife, namely Kalpa Devi, that about eight months ago he, dispossessed of her ornaments and cloths and turned her out of the house, and there after she started living with her father. It was said that during this period, Naurang Singh completely neglected to maintenance at Rs. 30 per mensem from her husband.
Under Section 488, CrPC is she entitled to maintenance even if she has lived with a man as his wife for 12 years and borne him a child.
The learned magistrate found that Smt. Sapla Devi was the wedded wife of Naurang Singh, so he granted her maintenance at the rate of Rs. 40 per mensem. Under Section 488, CrPC is she entitled to maintenance even if she has lived with a man as his wife for 12 years and borne him a child. Only legally married woman are entitled to maintenance under section 488, CrPC. It was observed, “Under section 5 and 11 of HMA, 1955, a second marriage with a previous married wife living is null and void”.

Banshidhar v Chhabi Chatterjee – AIR 1967 Patna 277
CrPC (1898) sec 488 – Hindu woman claiming to have been married in 1962 to petitioner – Petition allegation that she was not his wife and that he was already married in 1952 – on evidence.
Woman to be legally married to petitioner – maintainability of claim under sec 488 – if petitioner on the date of marriage with the claimant woman had already a legally wedded wife, his marriage with the claimant – woman will be void under sec 11 of the HMA. A claim under sec 488 by a woman can be made only if she is the legally wedded wife of the person from whom she claim maintenance – such claim has nothing to do with the personal law on maintenance has been changed by the Hindu adoption and maintenance act 1956, which does not contain any provision entitling a woman to claim maintenance from a person with whom she entered into a void marriage – as such, the claimant woman will not be entitled to maintenance under sec 488.

Evident Act
Under Section 114 of the Evident Act the Court shall presume the existence of probable facts, having regard to human conduct and the common course of the events and common sense being used as the judicial tool. In sumitra Devi v. Bhinkan Chaudhary, it was held that the fact that the couples were living as husband and wife for decades was relevant in proving factum of their marriage. Again in Rangnath Parmeshwar v. Pandirao Mali, it was held that if H and W were living as Husband and Wife, then even in the absence of proof to that effect, a rebuttal presumption would arise that the marriage between them was valid.

Sumitra Devi v. Bhikan Choudhary – (1885) 1 SCC 637.
Sumitra Devi filed an application for maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for herself as also a minor daughter alleging that she had been married to the Bhikan sometime in 1971 and out of the wedlock the child had been born. She further alleged that the fact that the respondent was already married and his spouse was living was not known. After the discovery of the previous marriage of the respondent the relationship between the parties gradually became strained and ultimately the respondent started totally neglecting the appellant and refused to maintain her. She had, therefore, no option left but to ask for maintenance for herself as also for the child.
Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 – Section 125 – Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 – Section 7 – There can be a marriage acceptable in law according to customs which do not insist on performance of rites as saptapadi and marriages of this type give rise to legal relationship which law accepts.

The Additional Sessions Court and the High Court has adopted a technical approach while considering the question of marriage. Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 – Section 125 – Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 – Section 7 – Evidence Act, 1872 – Section 114 – Parties had lived together about a decade public records including voters’ lists described them as husband and wife and competent witnesses of the village of the wife as also the husband had supported the factum of marriage witnesses have also spoken about the reputation of the appellant being known in the locality as the wife of the respondent.

Maintenance under Section 125 CrPC
A wife can claim maintenance from her husband irrespective of her religion under Section 125, CrPC. To prove the factum of marriage between the husband and the wife, we must rely on whether the husband has treated the woman as his wife in the society.Accordingly, the Voter’s Identity Card, wherein she has been referred to as his wife, or the joint bank account, or even the police complaint wherein he has stated that she is his wife can be used to prove her status as her wife. In Samudurai v. Rajlakshmi , it was held that when the wife comes to the court claiming maintenance, the husband should not be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong, alleging that there is a first marriage subsisting and thereby, the marriage between him and the wife claiming maintenance is a nullity. In Mallika and Anr v. P Kulandi , the Madras High Court held that is sufficient if evidence is available to the effect that the parties lived together for considerable time. In this case, the court held that it was established that the petitioner had been living with the respondent for a considerable period and continuously, so as to give way for the child to be born- this status of the petitioner is sufficient to get maintenance for herself as well as for the child. Where the husband misrepresented that the first wife was dead, the second wife would be entitled to maintenance and the child from the maintenance and the child from the second marriage would be legitimate child.

Hindu Personal Law
Bigamy is defined as an offence not only under the criminal law but also under HMA, Section 17, HMA says that any marriage between Hindus is void if on the date of such marriage, either party had a husband or wife living. The same is punishable under Section 494 and 495, IPC.

Another option available to the second wife is to get the marriage annulled under Section 11 read with Section 5(1) of HMA. Section 5, HMA provides for the conditions for the valid marriage, on being that neither party should have spouse living at the time of the marriage. Accordingly, a marriage contracted while either party has a spouse living, can be annulled under Section 11 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The provisions for divorce under Section 13, HMA also provide for the remedy available to the second wife. Section 13 (2) (i) of HMA says that in cases of marriages before commencement of this Act, a second wife can seek divorce on the ground that her husband’s first wife was alive at the time of the solemnization of the second marriage.

Even though the law for the interim maintenance under Section 24, HMA does not categorically provide for maintenance for second wife, the Section has been given a very wide interpretation by the courts to bring the cases of second wives within its ambit. The second can also claim interim maintenance under the interpretation given to Section 24, HMA. In Laxmibai v. Ayodhya Prasad, it was held that ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ used in Section 24, HMA are not to be given strict literal meaning as to convey only legally married wife and husband. The expression wife and husband is in the context of the section and scheme of the Act should mean a person claiming to be a wife or a husband.

Similarly, under section 25, HMA the provisions for permanent alimony has also been interpreted widely by the courts to protect the rights of the second wives. After the declaration of the nullity of the marriage, the second wife could claim maintenance under section 25, HMA. It was held in Rajesh Bai v. Shantabai, that a woman whose marriage is void because of the existence of another wife is entitled to maintenance under this Section. The second wife can claim interim maintenance under Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA). In Kulwant Kaur alias Preeti v. Prem Nath, it was also said ‘no sane lady would surrender herself unless she treats her male companian as her husband- whether the marriage is proved or not that is the point to be determined by the trial Court itself- but keeping in view the fact that the petitioner cohabited with the respondent, interim maintenance under Section 20, HAMA is allowed to her’.

Under Hindu Women’s Rights to Separate Residence and Maintenance Act, 1946, a Hindu married woman was entitled to maintenance if her husband contracted another marriage provided this happened before the commencement of that Act. However, Section 18, HAMA provides that a Hindu wife can claim maintenance from her husband on the basis of the aforementioned grounds amongst several others irrespective of the time when he contracted the other marriage (before or after 1956). Accordingly, a wife can claim maintenance from her husband even after she abandoned him when she comes to know that her husband has another wife living.

The phrase ‘any other wife living has been interpreted variously by the different High Courts. In Satyanarayana v. Sseetheramama, the A.P. High Court held that ‘wife living’ meant existing or alive and not necessarily living with the husband. However, a subsequent decision of the Madras High Court on the other hand in Annamalai Mudaliar v Perunayee Ammal, said that ‘wife living’ necessarily meant living with the husband. The Bombay High Court dissented from the decision of the Madras High Court, in Mani Bai v. Mukundrao, holding that under Section 18 of HAMA, the second wife can also claim a separate residence and maintenance under this Act.

The social stigma attached with being a second wife, the absence of any legal status to the relationship, and the enormous pain of being cheated into the marriage are undoubtedly extremely depressing for a woman. Even though there is no recognition given to a second wife, due to the judicial interpretation of existing law as discussed above, she may have some chances of getting maintenance. In the absence of any clear provisions under the law, her chances of claiming her rights are largely dependent on the discretion of the judges.

Even under the criminal law, it is extremely to prove bigamy, as the marriage has to be validly performed to prove the offence of bigamy. Usually these loop holes in the law are exploited by men to defend themselves in such cases.

Given this background of contrasting legal precedents, lawmakers should make clear provisions to protect the rights of those women who have been duped into ‘second marriages’ so as to bring them some respite.

Trust to be set up for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya: PM

The Union Cabinet has given its nod to set up a trust for the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Soon after the meeting of the Union Cabinet ended, Modi reached Lok Sabha to make a statement in this regard.

Just before the Question Hour began, he said the trust has been named as the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Shetra.

He said the Uttar Pradesh government has agreed to give five acres of land to the Sunni Wakf Board as directed by the Supreme Court in Ayodhya matter.

Amazon and Flipkart need to establish system for collecting plastic waste: CPCB to NGT.

E-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and need to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to the packaging of their products, the Central Pollution Control Board told the NGT on Tuesday.

The apex pollution monitoring body told the National Green Tribunal that as per provisions 9(2) of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, “Primary responsibility for collection of used multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging is of Producers, Importers and Brand Owners who introduce the products in the market.

“Amazon Retail India Private Limited and Flipkart Private limited are involved in packaging and selling of other companies’ products and thus introducing plastic packaging in the market. They need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under PWM Rules and should obtain registration as brand owner after submitting proper documents,” CPCB said.

The submission came in response to a plea filed by a 16-year-old boy who has approached the tribunal to stop e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart from excessive plastic use in their packaging.

Aditya Dubey, through his legal guardian, has pleaded the NGT to direct Amazon and Flipkart to stop excessive use of plastic in packaging the goods delivered by the firms.

“The e-commerce companies are covered under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. But due to a lack of monitoring and implementation, the respondents continue to use excessive amounts of plastic in wrapping and packaging their sold items,” said the plea, filed through advocate Divya Prakash Pande.

Dubey’s plea had contended that the companies deliver items in cardboard boxes, which are too large when compared to the size of the items being delivered.

“To ensure that the sold items do not move around in the outsized boxes, they wrap the items in multiple layers of plastic sheets and plastic bubble wraps and thereafter fill the large empty spaces in the boxes with additional sheets of single-use plastic,” it had said.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had posted the matter for hearing on January 3, 2020.

The plea has also said that though the home-delivery service of e-commerce companies have been very useful for consumers, they have given rise to serious environmental challenges due to excessive use of plastics in packaging.

Once goods are delivered, the plastic waste is thrown away in garbage and it ends up at landfill sites, leading to a burden on the earth and damaging the environment, it said.

“Single-use plastic has emerged as one of the biggest environmental challenges for our planet. It is cheap, useful, ubiquitous and very deadly. The fact that it’s non-biodegradable and is recycled in very small percentages means that our plant is with passage of time is becoming a big dumping ground for single use plastic. Single-use plastic breaks down into smaller fragments known as microplastics and then contaminates soil and water,” the petition had said.

Dubey said the two companies have not made any arrangements for either taking back the plastic material or ensuring that it is recycled.

“Plastic packaging constitutes 43 per cent of the total plastic waste generated in India and it is imperative that a direction be issued to the respondents that they should stop using plastic packaging materials and shift to environment friendly packaging option, the plea had said.

Disqualification of lawmakers : SC asks Parliament to rethink powers of Speaker in deciding pleas.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to ponder over the power of the Speaker in deciding petitions seeking disqualification of lawmakers, observing that he also belong to a political party.

The suggestion for devising an independent mechanism to deal with disqualification pleas against lawmakers came in a judgment by which the top court asked the Manipur Assembly Speaker to decide within four weeks the plea of a Congress leader seeking disqualification of BJP lawmaker and Manipur Forest Minister Th Shyamkumar.

A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman had granted liberty to Congress MLA Fajur Rahim and K Meghachandra to approach it again if the Assembly Speaker fails to take a decision within four weeks on their plea seeking disqualification of the BJP minister.The BJP minister had won the assembly election on a Congress ticket and later joined the BJP and became a minister. This led to filing of the plea seeking his disqualification.
The apex court said Parliament should rethink whether the Speaker should decide such disqualification pleas keeping in mind the fact that he also belongs to a particular political party.

Centre agrees in SC to revisit its 2017 proposal of taking over Unitech management

The Centre, however, said it would not infuse any funds for completion of pending projects of the company.

In a major development, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it is agreeable to revisit its 2017 proposal to take over the management control of embattled realty firm Unitech Ltd and complete its stalled projects to bring relief to around 12,000 hassled home buyers. The Centre, in its six-page note submitted to a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, said it is prepared to revisit its proposal of December 2017, to remove the existing management of Unitech Ltd and appoint ten nominee directors of the government.

The Centre, however, said it would not infuse any funds for completion of pending projects of the company. It said the court, while ensuring a period of calm should direct a moratorium for 12 months.

For the proposed board, the government also suggested the name of retired Haryana cadre IAS officer Yudvir Singh Malik, as chairman and managing director of the board and names of members including A K Mittal, ex-CMD of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), Renu Sud Karnad, Chairman of HDFC Credila Finance Service Pvt Ltd, Jitu Virwani, CMD of Embassy Group, Niranjan Hiranandani , MD of Mumbai-based Hiranandani Group.

It said the court may appoint a retired judge of the Supreme Court for supervising the resolution framework finalised by the proposed board of directors.

“That this court may allow the proposed board of directors to appoint key managerial persons, professionals (legal, insolvency, financial advisors, real estate professionals, etc) for assisting the government appointed board and payment of requisite professional fees including the legal fees, thereof from the company accounts,” the Centre’s note said.

It also sought directions to the promoters, the present management of the company, forensic auditors, asset reconstruction companies, banks and financial institutions and state governments to extend cooperation to the proposed board of directors.

“That this court may issue directions to restrain the promoters from alienating, mortgaging, creating charge or lien or interest in the movable and immovable properties owned by them,” the government said, adding, services of the committee headed by Justice S N Dhingra, appointed to sell the company’s assets, be put on rest.

The government also sought immunity for the proposed directors in respect of the numerous litigations pending across the country, involving the company, management and its promoters.

It also sought permission for the proposed board of directors to raise funds due from the home buyers, sell the unsold inventory, monetising the unencumbered assets for completion of the stalled projects.

“That this court recognizes and directs that without any prejudice to any order, the government has the right to refer the company to liquidation or Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), like resolution outside the framework of IBC, in case the assigned takeover is not viable in the absence of requisite resources,” the government said.

On December 18, last year, the top court had asked the Centre if it was agreeable to revisit its 2017 proposal as there is urgent need for the projects of Unitech Ltd. to be taken up by a specialised agency, so as to ensure completion in a time bound schedule in the interest of the home buyers.

The top court had said, “Since the Union of India withdrew the application which it had submitted before the NCLT only for the reason that this Court was seized of the present proceedings, we are of the view that the Union of India should revisit the original proposal in the interests of home buyers and consider appointing independent Directors for the takeover of the management of Unitech Limited”.

It had said that these deliberations may be conducted at the highest level and Attorney General K K Venugopal should apprise the court by January 15, about the modalities which have been worked out.

In 2017, the Centre had moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking suspension of the current directors and an order of restraint on the alienation of assets by Unitech Ltd.

The NCLT in its order December 8, 2017, issued interim directions for suspension of directors of Unitech Ltd and restrained them from alienating, mortgaging, creating charge or lien or interest in the properties owned by them personally or that of the company till the conclusion of investigation.

However, the top court on December 13, 2017, stayed the NCLT’s December 8, 2017 order and later the Centre agreed to withdraw its application from the tribunal.

In 2018, the apex court had directed a forensic audit of Unitech Ltd and its sister concerns and subsidiaries by Samir Paranjpe, Partner, Forensic and Investigation Services in M/s Grant Thornton India.

The forensic auditors have also submitted their report which said that Unitech Ltd received around Rs 14,270 crores from 29,800 home buyers mostly between 2006-2014 and around Rs 1,805 crores from six financial institutions for the construction of 74 projects.

The audit revealed that around Rs 5,063 crore of home buyers money and around Rs 763 crores of fund received from financial institutions were not utilized by the company and high value investments were made off-shore tax-haven countries between 2007-2010.

The top court ordered investigation into the omission and commission of promoters of Unitech Ltd under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra are currently lodged in Tihar jail for allegedly siphoning off homebuyers’ money.

SC allows Karti Chidambaram to withdraw Rs 20 Cr deposited for travelling abroad.

 The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Congress MP Karti Chidambaram to withdraw the Rs 20 crore which was deposited with the apex court registry as a condition for allowing him to travel abroad.

The apex court in January and May 2019 had granted Karti Chidambaram permission to travel to foreign countries after depositing Rs 10 crore each respectively with the registry.

When the matter came up for hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said there was no objection from the Enforcement Directorate to the plea seeking withdrawal of the amount since he has returned.

Taking note of the submission, the bench also comprising justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said Karti can withdraw the said amount since he has already returned.

The condition was imposed by the apex court after the ED had opposed his plea for travel abroad.

On May 7, the top court had allowed Karti to travel to the United Kingdom, the US, France, Germany and Spain in May and June this year.

Karti has been facing ED cases in INX media and Aircel maxis matters.

Muzaffarpur case: Court seeks CBI response on Brajesh Thakur’s plea claiming witnesses not reliable.

A Delhi court on Tuesday sought response of the CBI on a plea filed by Brajesh Thakur, prime accused in a case of alleged sexual and physical assault of several girls in a Muzaffarpur shelter home, claiming that testimonies of witnesses in the case were not reliable.

Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha directed the CBI to file its reply within two days and deferred for the third time pronouncement of judgement in the case till November 20.

The plea filed through advocate P K Dubey said the prosecution witnesses were not of sterling quality.

The plea was filed as the probe agency had given a statement in the Supreme Court that the girls, who were thought to be allegedly murdered, were alive, said advocate Dheeraj Kumar, representing some of the accused in the case.

The court had earlier deferred the order till January 14 as the judge was on leave and prior to it, the judgment was deferred by a month as 20 accused, who are currently lodged in Tihar central jail, could not be brought to court premises due to lawyers’ strike in all six district courts in the national capital.

The court had on March 20, 2018, framed charges against the accused, including Thakur, for offences of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors.

The accused included eight women and 12 men.

The Court had held trial for the offences of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, drugging of minors, criminal intimidation among other charges.

Thakur and employees of his shelter home, as well as Bihar department of social welfare officials were charged with criminal conspiracy, neglect of duty and failure to report assault on the girls.

The charges also included offence of cruelty to child under their authority, punishable under the Juvenile Justice Act.

All the accused, who appeared before the court, pleaded innocence and claimed trial.

The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

The court had reserved order on September 30 after final arguments by the CBI counsel and 20 accused in the case in which former Bihar Social Welfare Minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma also faced flak as allegations surfaced that Thakur had links with her husband.

She had resigned from her post on August 8, 2018.

The CBI had told a special court that there was enough evidence against all the accused in the case.

However, those accused have claimed that the CBI had not conduct a “fair investigation” into the case, which has been registered under the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and entails life imprisonment as the maximum punishment.

Additional Sessions Judge Kulshreshtha, during the in-camera trial, concluded the arguments in the case.

The case was transferred on February 7 from a local court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar to a POCSO court at Saket district court complex in Delhi on the Supreme Court’s directions.

During the trial, counsel for the CBI told the court that the statements of minor girls, who were allegedly sexually assaulted, point to the fact that there was enough evidence against all the accused and they should be convicted.

The matter had come to light after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted a report to the Bihar government on May 26, 2018, highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of minor girls in the shelter home for the first time.

On May 29 last year, the state government shifted the girls from the shelter home to other protection homes. In May 31, 2018, an FIR was lodged against the 11 accused in the case.

The top court had on August 2 taken cognisance of the alleged sexual assault of about 30 minor girls in Muzaffarpur’s shelter home and transferred the probe to the CBI on November 28.

Delhi HC directs police to look into traffic restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the city police to look into traffic restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch, which has been closed for nearly a month due to protests against the amended Citizenship Act, while keeping in mind the larger public interest.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the police to look into the issue while also keeping in mind maintenance of law and order.

The court passed the order while disposing of a PIL filed by advocate and social activist Amit Sahni seeking a direction to the Delhi Police Commissioner to lift restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh Stretch and Okhla underpass, which were closed on December 15, 2019 for ongoing protests against CAA and National Register of Citizen (NRC).

It was a temporary measure but has been extended from time to time.

The Kalindi Kunj stretch is vital as it connects Delhi, Faridabad (Haryana) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh) and commuters are forced to take the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) Expressway and Ashram, which is causing hours of traffic jams and wastage of time and fuel, it said.