Demonetisation, Tatas, drugs ban kept Delhi HC busy in 2016

Demonetisation, Tatas, drugs ban kept Delhi HC busy in 2016
Demonetisation, Tatas, drugs ban kept Delhi HC busy in 2016

A large number of PILs on issues relating to demonetisation and litigations involving Tatas over management and operation of its JV airline AirAsia India and the iconic Taj Mansingh hotel in the heart of capital were among major financial and corporate cases handled by the Delhi High Court in 2016.

The high court, which was flooded with PILs on issues arising out of demonetisation, also gave much-needed relief to the Narendra Modi government by refusing to go into the “correctness” of the November 8 notification scrapping Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, saying courts should not venture into policy matters.

The order had come much before the Supreme Court, which had initially declined to stop the proceedings in various high courts, allowed the Centre’s plea to pass a direction that no court in the country other than itself will entertain matters relating to demonetisation.

Just when the Modi government was heaving a sigh of relief over demonetisation, it suffered a major setback as it failed to defend banning of 344 fixed dose combination drugs as multinational pharma and healthcare giants like Pfizer, Glenmark, Procter & Gamble and Cipla won the battle, with the judge saying the decision was taken in a “haphazard manner”.

So was the case relating to the auctioning of coal block when in a crucial judgement, the high court held that the government’s decision to club different specified end-uses together, barring power, for auctioning of coal blocks “ran counter” to the logic of classification itself.

Fortunately, the court dismissed the pleas of some private companies challenging this decision of the Coal Ministry observing that they had participated in the tendering process for coal auctioning which was known to them.

When the Tata-Mistry controversy hogged the limelight, the Tata group suffered a setback as the high court cleared the decks for auctioning of Taj Mansingh Hotel in Lutyen’s Delhi by giving a go-ahead to New Delhi Municipal Council, saying the group’s Indian Hotels Company Ltd, which runs the hotel, had “no right” of renewing the licence.

The Tatas also had a tough time when the high court asked AirAsia India, a joint venture between Tata Sons and AirAsia Berhad, to place before the DGCA its brand licensing agreement (BLA) with the Malaysian entity to determine who controls the Indian low-cost carrier.

( Source – PTI )

Tata’s privacy plea to be heard in February, claims rebutted

Slating for early February 2011 the hearing on Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata’s plea for a ban on publication of the Radia tapes’ transcripts, the Supreme Court Monday asked the central government to submit to it the complaints against corporate lobbyist Nira Radia.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S.Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly asked the central government to give the copy of the complaint and other related documents in a sealed cover.

The next hearing on Tata’s petition will take place Feb 2, 2011.

The court also permitted the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), the Chennai Press Club and Dr. J.K Jain to intervene in the case. The CPIL has pleaded that all the conversations in the Radia tapes except for those which are strictly personal should be brought in public domain.

Both the Outlook and Open magazines, which had carried parts of the transcripts of Radia’s telephone intercepts, argued that Tata’s petition was not maintainable as a petitioner could not take the recourse of Article 32 of the Constitution for the enforcement of his fundamental right as a private individual.

Appearing for Ratan Tata, senior counsel Harish Salve told the court that his client was not seeking any interim relief by way of injunction against the publication of the tapes by media, but he was on a larger issue of balancing the right to privacy with the freedom of media.

Salve submitted eight questions for the consideration of the court that should be addressed by the parties to the dispute.

The question boils down to whether right to privacy also protects from public gaze the conversation between two private people obtained by the lawful agencies by interception of telephonic conversation.

Other questions included whether the power of the statutory authorities to intercept telephonic conversation is coupled with constitutional duty to protect them from coming into the public domain.

Rebutting the eight questions framed by Salve to be addressed by the parties to the dispute as some kind of ‘presidential reference’ to the court, senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan appearing for the Open magazine told the court that Tata’s petition was private interest litigation in the guise of public interest litigation.

Dhawan said that if Tata was aggrieved by the action of someone, then there were alternate remedies in law like filing defamation suit instead of taking recourse of Article 32 of the Constitution, which provided for the right of the citizen to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights.

Appearing for the Outlook magazine, senior counsel Anil Divan said that it was a well-settled law that the freedom of press and media is to be zealously guarded in a democracy because the objective is to inform the citizen and protect the citizen’s right to know. To guard the freedom of press was the function of the government, he said.

Divan said Tata has not questioned the authenticity of the tapes, neither disclosed which parts of the tapes infringed his right to privacy.