HC expounds: MD and CEO of Company is Competent Authority for initiation of Disciplinary Action against any officer for ‘minor penalties’ (Read Judgement)

Section 178 of the Companies Act, 2013 has no role to play with respect to the initiation of the disciplinary proceedings.”

 

The Delhi High Court was dealing with a Writ Petition filed by a Senior employee of Public limited company, claiming to be victimized by higher officials for raising voice against corrupt practices.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner, who is an officer of President level and senior most permanent employee of the company, Petronet LNG Limited, was the victim of highhandedness of corrupt officers present within the company. Since the petitioner was a whistle blower against the corruption and made various financial corruption charges against the respondent no.6, he being in the commanding position victimized the petitioner so that the petitioner be kept silence against the corruption.

The Petronet LNG Limited is a joint venture company formed by the Government of India to import LNG and set up LNG terminals.

Respondent no.6 issued a charge-sheet to the petitioner without any preliminary Inquiry. No Assisting Officer was allowed to defend the petitioner before the Inquiry Committee and the Inquiry Committee proceeded ex-parte and concluded the Inquiry against the petitioner by recording findings that all the three charges as levelled in the charge-sheet dated are proved.

The case of the petitioner was that the entire disciplinary proceedings are unconstitutional, void, wrong and against the principles of natural Justice and in contravention of provision of Article 311 of the Constitution of India.

HC serves notice on State Govt. over Wildlife Board

The Madhya Pradesh HC has served a notice on the State govt over the constitution of the Wildlife Board after an animal rights activist filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition claiming that law has been violated by nominating persons with “special interest in wildlife” to the Board.

On Aug 3, the State govt, under Section 6 (1) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, reconstituted the Board by nominating 30 members, with CM Kamal Nath as its Chairman & Forest Minister (FM) Umang Singhar as Vice-Chairman(VC).

Under the Section ‘experts in the fields of environmentalism/protection’, the govt has nominated 4 out of 8 persons to the Board for their “special interest in wildlife.”

The Public Interest Litigation(PIL) plea, filed by Bhopal-based Ajay Dubey, claimed that while resorting to “nepotism, corruption & favouritism” to nominate such members, thereby violating the Act, the govt had “diluted” the word ‘eminent conservationist’, as mentioned in the Act.

According to Section 6 (e) of the Act, the State govts could nominate 10 persons to the Board from “amongst eminent conservationists, ecologists & environmentalists including at least 2 representatives of the Scheduled Tribes.”

HC refuses to transfer case against M K Stalin’s sister S Selvi

In a relief to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M K Stalin’s elder sister S Selvi, the Madras High Court rapped a petitioner who sought transfer of a case against her & her son-in-law Jyothimani to another court. The court warned that it would be constrained to impose an exemplary cost on the petitioner. The case pertains to money transaction over purchase of 2.94 acres of land at Thalambur village in Kancheepuram district.

A man named V Nedumaran of Valasaravakkam filed a complaint against Selvi & Jyothimani saying they failed to register a property even after he paid them Rs 3.5 crore in 2007. He said Jyothimani sold the same property to another person in 2009.

In 2018, a judicial magistrate court in Poonamallee rejected Nedumaran’s petition to transfer the case. Challenging the order, the present petition was filed. On Aug 6, Justice P N Prakash concurred with the submissions of advocate P Kumaresan, representing Selvi, & said the court did not find any infirmity in the order passed by the judicial magistrate. Following the finding, government advocate P Krithika Kamal sought permission to withdraw their petition. Allowing the petition, the court dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

High Court agrees to hear a fresh plea on Uniform Civil Code

The Delhi High Court Monday agreed to hear on Tuesday a PIL seeking direction to the Centre to constitute a judicial commission or a high level expert committee to draft a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for securing gender justice, equality and dignity of women.

The plea was mentioned before a bench a Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar which tagged it for hearing along with a similar pending petition.

The petition, filed by advocate Abhinav Beri, also said that a direction be given to the Law Commission to draft a UCC within three months taking into account the best practices of all religions and sects, civil laws of developed countries and international conventions and publish that on its website for at least 90 days for wide public debate and feedback.

Another petition by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking framing of the UCC to promote unity, fraternity and national integration is also pending before the court.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has moved the high court opposing Upadhyay’s PIL and sought to be impleaded as a party in the matter, saying the petition was not maintainable in law and ought not to be entertained.

The fresh petition said the nature and purpose of the Article 44 is to introduce a common civil code for all, which is essential to promote fraternity, unity and national integration.

“It proceeds on the assumption that there is no connection between religion and personal laws in a civilised society. While the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and of religion, it seeks to divest religion from personal law and social relations and from laws governing inheritance, succession and marriage, just as it has been done even in the Muslim countries like Turkey and Egypt etc. The object of Article 44 is not to encroach upon religious liberties,” it said.

The need of the hour for national integration is a draft copy of UCC, it added.

It said gender justice and gender equality, guaranteed under Articles 14-15 of the Constitution and dignity of women, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, cannot be secured without implementing the Article 44.

In last 70 years, the Constitution has been amended 125 times and judgment of the Supreme Court has been nullified 5 times but the executive has not taken serious steps to implement Uniform Civil Code, the plea said.

In his plea, Upadhyay has contended that the Centre has “failed” to put in place a UCC as provided under Article 44 of the Constitution.

A UCC would replace the personal laws, based on the scriptures and customs of various religious communities, with a common set of rules governing every citizen of the country.

The high court had on May 31 issued notice to the Centre seeking its response to the PIL.

HC gives Vadra four weeks to file rejoinder in plea to quash money laundering case

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday gave businessman Robert Vadra four weeks to file a rejoinder to the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) reply to his petition seeking quashing of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal listed the matter for further hearing on November 18.

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, representing Vadra, the husband of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, had sought some time to file the rejoinder to ED’s reply and said the documents were almost ready.

He also said the ED claimed Vadra suppressed material facts in his petition before the high court. However, there was no suppression of facts on his part, the counsel said.

“They do not give the copy of ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report) and then they say I have suppressed facts. They provided me the ECIR copy only after court’s order. I have disclosed all the facts which were in my knowledge. There is no suppression on my part,” Tulsi said.

Vadra’s close aide Manoj Arora also sought quashing of the money laundering case.

Vadra is facing allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square, worth 1.9 million pounds. The case is being probed under the provisions of the PMLA.

Arora was an employee of Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality LLP and a co-accused in the case.

Treat all citizens, whether rich or poor, with dignity: High Court

The State must treat all citizens, whether rich or poor, with dignity, the Bombay High Court said on Tuesday while pulling up the Maharashtra government for forcing nearly 15,000 families to stay in the

chemical pollution-affected Mahul area of Mumbai.

A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre also referred to the Biblical story of Noah and his ark, saying, “When the floods came, Noah didn’t leave even a single animal behind, but took them all on his boat.”

“Similarly,you must take care of the interest of all your citizens, whether poor or rich,” it said.

The bench was hearing an application filed by some residents affected by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s demolition drive. The litigants said the civic body was refusing to compensate them towards rent for an alternative place of residence.

Around 15,000 families, or 60,000 people, were affected when the BMC demolished all encroachments and illegal constructions along the Tansa water pipeline in the city last year.

It decided to shift them to alternative accommodations in Mahul near suburban Chembur.

However, the Mahul area, which is surrounded by three refineries and a chemical factory, was declared unfit for human habitation by the National Green Tribunal in 2015 and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay this year.

These people refused to shift to Mahul and subsequently approached the high court.

In April this year, another bench of HC said the state could not force citizens to live in a polluted area.

It directed the state to pay Rs 15,000 towards monthly rent to those families which did not wish to stay in Mahul.

Around 200 of the 15,000 affected families have shifted to Mahul so far.

On Tuesday, the BMC claimed before the high court that it has not paid the rent amount to the petitioners since the HC order on the issue had been stayed by the Supreme Court.

However, after verification of records, the court realised that while the state’s appeal was pending in the apex court, no stay was granted on the HC’s rent amount order.

“You must treat all citizens, whether rich or poor, with dignity. You can manage five crore people in Kumbh mela but you are unable to accommodate 60,000 people in this case,” the bench said.

It will hear the matter in detail next week.

High Court: Safety of children cannot be compromised in any manner

Safety of children cannot be compromised in any manner, the Delhi High Court has said while directing the fire department to inspect a private school lacking valid fire safety certificate within two weeks.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru directed the Chief Fire Officer to inspect the premises of the petitioner school to ascertain whether it has addressed other shortcomings and to indicate any other measures, that are required to be taken keeping in view the petitioner’s difficulty in widening the staircase in question.

The high court also directed that the school be given sufficient time to address the issues that may be raised by Chief Fire Officer and to put in place additional measures that may be required.

“Clearly, safety of the children studying at the petitioner school cannot be compromised in any manner. In the meanwhile, respondent no 1 (Directorate of Education) shall not take any precipitate steps for de-recognising the petitioner school,” the high court said.

“It is clarified that the petitioner would have to satisfy respondent no 2 (Chief Fire Officer) in all respects regarding fire safety and if the petitioner is unable to put in place sufficient measures, within a reasonable period of time, respondents are at liberty to take all steps as available in law including cancellation of the recognition granted to the petitioner,” it said.

The high court was hearing a plea filed by Seth Bhagwan Dass Sr Sec Public School seeking directions to Directorate of Education not to withdraw the recognition granted to the said school.

The petitioner apprehended that the recognition granted to the school would be revoked pursuant to the show cause notice dated July 26 whereby Directorate of Education had called upon it to submit an explanation for not having a valid Fire Safety Certificate.

It said it did not have a Fire Safety Certificate as the school building was lacking in regard to certain fire safety measures. The petitioner claimed that the school building is an old building and the school is being run from the current premises since 1988. The width of the internal staircase is only 0.95 metres.

High Court directs Registrar of Marriages to Record Divorces as well

The Registrar of Marriage is bound to record the Divorce in the Register maintained by him on a divorce ordered by a competent court, the Kerala High Court has held.

As per now, there is no provision under the Kerala Registration of Marriages (Common) Rules, 2008 for recording the Divorce.

In this case, the petitioner had obtained a Divorce from a Foreign Court. The question that came up in the case was whether the Registrar had the powers to record the Divorce or cancel the registration of marriage, Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque noted.

The “question of cancellation of registration of marriage does not arise in those circumstances where the marriage is a valid one. However, when a record that shows that the marriage subsists, exists in public domain, it would infringe the Civil Rights of the parties concerned,” the Court noted.

The party has every right to insist on recording the divorce in the register in which the marriage has been registered. Otherwise, public record would show that the marriage subsists, the Court said.

The Court noted that the Authority to register includes the authority to add, amend, vary or rescind the registration and this power flows from Section 21 of the General Clauses Act. 1897, it said.

Acting upon the divorce ordered by a competent court, the Registrar is bound to record the divorce in the register maintained by him, the Court held.

The Court directed the Registrar to record the divorce after issuing a notice to the former wife of the petitioner.

If there is any dispute regarding the validity of the divorce, the Registrar can’t record such divorce in the register without an order from the competent court, the judgment said.

High Court rejects PILs seeking extension of Athi Varadar festival

The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed two PILs seeking extension of the 48-day-long Lord Athi Varadar festival which is ending Saturday.

A bench comprising S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad rejected the prayer of the public interest litigation petitioners who sought more time citing the huge rush of devotees thronging the Devarajaswamy temple in neighbouring Kancheepuram.

The petitioners sought extension of the festival by another 40 days.

The court had earlier this week dismissed another similar plea after the Tamil Nadu government submitted it was not possible to extend the period.

The deity made of fig wood is taken out of the temple tank once in 40 years and kept for darshan of devotees for 48 days. This year, the festival began on July 1 and Friday is the last day for public ‘darshan’.

The idol would be placed back in the Anantasaras tank of the temple on Saturday.

In another related petition, Justice P D Audikesavalu on Friday directed that the water let in to the temple tank shall satisfy the norms of the Pollution Control Board.

The judge gave the direction on a petition seeking a direction for cleaning up the tank.

Over one crore devotees have offered prayers to the deity, officials said.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Telangana and Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers K Chandrashekar Rao and K Palaniswami, respectively, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and superstar Rajinikanth are among the prominent people who had ‘darshan’ of Athi Varadar.

This High Court’s ruling on land laws has thrown infrastructure projects in this State out of order

Big projects such as the second phase of Metro Rail & expansion of Airport are stuck as the Govt. agencies cannot take possession of Private Land.

Land acquisition for phase-2 of Chennai metro rail has been stalled. `69,000 crore project requires 117 hectares of land spread over Chennai, Kancheepuram & Tiruvallur districts.

Metro rail official has stated that acquisition has been delayed due to judgment. He further added that,”Court declared Section 105A of the Land Acquisition Act 2013 as unconstitutional, illegal & inoperative. As a consequence, the Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Industrial Purposes Act is now unconstitutional, illegal & inoperative”.

Acquisition of land for the metro project is executed under the Tamil Nadu Industrial Purposes Act, 1997, stands quashed.

High Court also declared all the land acquisition made under Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Harijan Welfare Scheme Act, 1978, & Tamil Nadu Highways Act, 2001, after September 27, 2013, illegal.

Issue relates to amendment made to Centre’s Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013, by inserting a new section, 105 A.

In order to overcome the situation, Government passed Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition Laws (Revival of Operation, Amendment & Validation) Act, 2019, with provisions to determine compensation, rehabilitation & resettlement, & infrastructure amenities on a par with Centre’s Land Acquisition Act.

According to Official Sources,Governor Banwarilal Purohit has reserved the bill for consideration of the President.