‘Exceeded Jurisdiction’: Division Bench Of P&H HC Sets Aside Single Bench Order On Administrative Side Passed During Judicial Hearing

At the outset, it must be stated that the Punjab and Haryana High Court just recently on June 30, 2020 in a noteworthy judgment titled Punjab and Haryana High Court through its Registrar (Computerization) v. Zahur Haider Zaidi & Ors. in Case No. : LPA No. 401/2020 (O&M) & Case No. : LPA No. 402/2020 (O&M) has set aside a single Bench order on administrative side passed during judicial hearing. The Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising of Chief Justice Ravi Shankar Jha and Justice Arun Palli while setting aside the order of a single Judge whereby orders pertaining to administrative side of the High Court were passed during hearing of two criminal matters said clearly, categorically and convincingly that, “Running of the High Court on the administrative side cannot be permitted to be taken up by each and every Judge on the judicial side as he thinks fit as that would lead to collapse of the system of the administration of the High Court.” It was also clarified that if any Judge faces technical problem during hearing of cases via video conferencing, the proper course would be to bring the same to the notice of the Registrar General of the High Court.

Needless to say, it is pointed out at the beginning itself that, “With the consent of learned counsel for the parties, the matter is being taken up and heard via video conferencing.” The ball is then set rolling by observing that, “Both these appeals have been filed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court being aggrieved by the orders dated 21.05.2020 and 10.06.2020 passed by the learned Single Judge in CRM-M No. 7051 of 2020 and CRM-M No. 7434 of 2020 directing the High Court to ensure that technical persons are available at the time of hearing of cases through video conferencing and that such technical persons should ensure that every case is available on-line on the computer by downloading the cause list onto the laptop/computer and make an icon on the desktop of that computer as also download the pleadings of all the cases listed on that day onto the computer and make individual icons on the desktop so that the Court can access each case at the click of the mouse. It is also directed that such technical person should ensure that the cases so downloaded are as per the cause list and are properly and accurately uploaded.”

To say the least, the Bench then notes that, “It is submitted by learned counsel for the appellant that the said directions were issued in the criminal matters that were being heard by the learned Single Judge. It is submitted that they have no grievance and have not challenged the orders passed in the criminal cases but are only aggrieved by the directions issued to the High Court regarding making available of technical persons for regular court work.”

While elaborating further, the Bench then observes: “It is submitted that in CRM-M No. 7051-2020, the petitioner was praying for regular bail whereas in CRM-M No. 7434 of 2020, the order passed by the Special Judge, CBI Court, Chandigarh cancelling the bail of the petitioner therein was assailed. Thus, the High Court (appellant) was not a party to those proceedings. However, being aggrieved by the directions/orders that are being assailed in the present appeals, the High Court in the first instance moved two applications in each of the cases; seeking to be impleaded as party and for recalling the order(s) dated 21.05.2020. Vide order dated 10.06.2020, the learned Single Judge impleaded the appellant as party to the proceedings. But the prayer for recalling/modifying the order dated 21.05.2020 has since been declined vide order dated 10.06.2020 and instead it was observed that “as regards recalling/modification of the order, I see no reason to do so because if training had already been imparted to the staff of each Court, it is the duty of such court staff to ensure, in tandem with other officers/officials of the Registry, to upload all case files on to the computers/laptops/i-pads etc. available to each Court”. Thus these appeals.”

More to the point, the Bench then observes that, “Learned counsel for the appellant having taken us through the grounds on which the order dated 21.05.2020 was sought to be recalled as also the grounds of appeal at hands has demonstrated that the impugned directions issued by the learned Single Judge are rather causing practical difficulties and have made it nearly impossible for the High Court (appellant) to regulate and manage the video conferencing process. He submits that the role of the technical staff of the Computer Section of the High Court is confined only to resolving the technical issues concerning connectivity or audio/video disturbances during the hearing. Whereas the task of downloading the cause list, pleadings, making individual icons on the desktop, downloading the cases as per the cause list, has specifically been assigned to the secretarial staff attached to each Court/Judge. Thus, he submits in the wake of the directions issued by the learned Single Judge, the technical staff is now required to take up even the secretarial work. It is, therefore, prayed that the impugned directions be set aside.”

Be it noted, the Bench then brings out that, “It is informed that the number of technical staff available in the High Court is very limited whereas adequate and sufficient trained staff including Special Secretary/Secretary/Private Secretary/Judgment Writer/Stenographers (stenography line) and Special Secretary/Court Secretary/Reader/Superintendent (Reader Line) and Law Researchers have already been provided to each Court/Judge and they have also been directed to ensure that the Court is able to take up the video conferencing without any hindrance by downloading the paper books, making icons on the desktop and ensuring downloading of the cause list in accordance with the serial numbers notified. It is the secretarial staff that is responsible for the aforesaid task and has to be utilized for that purpose and not the technical staff of the High Court.”

Importantly, it is also clarified by the Bench that, “Thus, the secretarial staff attached to each Court/Judge that consists of Special Secretary/Secretary/Private Secretary/Judgment Writer/Stenographers (stenography line) and Special Secretary/Court Secretary/Reader/Superintendent (Reader Line) and Law Researchers is obliged to ensure that the court proceedings through video conferencing are held unhindered. Undoubtedly, the technical staff of this Court are fully skilled/trained to deal with any technical snag/issue during the video conferencing but not equipped to manage the procedural functioning of the Court which is a specialized task of a regular court staff. In the circumstances, we are of the considered opinion that the impugned directions deserve to be set aside.”

More importantly, the Bench then observes that, “We are also impelled to observe that of the two matters listed before the learned Single Judge, in one regular bail was prayed for and in the other the order of cancellation of bail was under challenge in which the issues regarding the problems arising in the video conferencing were neither involved nor raised. In such circumstances, if any inconvenience was faced by the learned Single Judge owing to lack of any technical/secretarial assistance, the proper course that should have been adopted was to bring the problem to the notice of the Registrar General of this Court for its resolution.”

Most importantly, the Bench then makes it a point to say clearly, categorically and convincingly that, “We are of the considered and firm opinion that the learned Single Judge exceeded his jurisdiction in issuing directions purely relating to the administration of the High Court “in a criminal matter” as the extraordinary and inherent powers of the Court cannot be invoked in purely administrative matters. Judicial powers cannot be invoked to run the administration of the High Court, which task vests in the Chief Justice or in the Full Court of the High Court and is regulated by Rules and instructions issued in that regard. Running of the High Court on the administrative side cannot be permitted to be taken up by each and every Judge on the judicial side as he thinks fit as that would lead to collapse of the system of the administration of the High Court.”

Going ahead, it is then held that, “Moreover, as the issue in respect of which the impugned directions have been issued was neither subject matter of challenge nor within the roster assigned to the learned Single Judge and therefore, the learned Single Judge exceeded the jurisdiction vested in him rendering the directions nonest. The law in respect of the issue has been clarified by the Supreme Court in the case of Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms v. Union of India and another (2018) 1 SCC 196.”

Finally, it is then held that, “In the circumstances, the impugned directions issued by the learned Single Judge vide orders dated 21.05.2020 and 10.06.2020 to the extent that the technical staff of the High Court has been directed to take up the secretarial work are set aside. It is made clear that the responsibility as delineated in the preceding paragraphs about the technical staff shall be followed and implemented by the Registry subject to any modification or change that shall be caused by orders passed subsequently on the administrative side. Both the appeals are accordingly allowed and stand disposed of in the above terms.”

No doubt, all the High Court Judges must always pay heed to what the Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court has held so explicitly in this leading case! This will save them from getting their order overturned by a Division Bench as we see in this leading case! No denying or disputing it!

Sanjeev Sirohi

Mere Aggressive Behaviour Of Wife Not A Ground Of Divorce: Punjab and Haryana High Court

It has to be candidly conceded by all of us that a Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain and Hon’ble Mr Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill in a latest, landmark and extremely laudable judgment titled Ravinder Yadav Vs Padmini @ Payal in FAO-M-126-2019 (O&M) delivered on May 17, 2019 has categorically and convincingly held that mere aggressive behaviour and sadness of mood of wife does not mean that the wife is spoiling the atmosphere of her matrimonial home. Thus we see that the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this case dismissed a matrimonial appeal filed by a husband. The Division Bench was considering an appeal filed by a man against the Family Court order which dismissed his petition.

                       While the ball is set rolling in the first para of this notable and praiseworthy judgment authored by Hon’ble Mr Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill for himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain wherein it is pointed out that, “By way of present appeal, appellant-Ravinder Yadav has assailed the judgment and decree dated 03.04.2019 passed by the District Judge, Narnaul, vide which his petition filed under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (for short ‘the Act’) against respondent-Padmini @ Payal was dismissed.” The appellant thus wanted the Division Bench of High Court to review the judgment and decree which went against him!

                        To recapitulate, it is then pointed out in the next para that, “The facts which need to be elaborated are that the marriage of the appellant and the respondent was solemnized on 09.03.2015 as per Hindu rites and ceremonies. The marriage was consummated but no child was born out of the said wedlock. As per the allegations in the petition, the respondent-wife always imbibed with independent and modern thoughts posing herself to be a broad minded lady. Right from the next day of marriage, respondent started quarrelling with the appellant and his parents and threatened them to do everything under her command. The respondent flatly refused to perform household work and alleged that if she was compelled to do so, she would commit suicide and create problems for appellant and his family members. It was alleged that the respondent used to consume liquor and take drugs and had illicit relations with one Kuldeep Shekhawat. She was in the habit of leaving matrimonial home without informing the appellant and his family members and on asking, she used to say that nobody was allowed to interfere in her personal life. The respondent often used to make phone calls on mobile No. 9521677437 (at some places the mobile number is mentioned as 9621677437) and whenever the appellant called her she would remain busy on whatsapp and facebook with strangers and friends. The respondent even refused to share bed with the appellant which had caused mental cruelty to him. As per the appellant, the respondent left her matrimonial home on 17.04.2015 without informing him and his family members. On 06.05.2015, her father along with other respectable came to the appellant’s place and used bad words against him and his family members. The respondent also broke the Mangalsutra (Necklace) in the presence of the Panchayat members and flatly refused to live with the appellant as his wife and left her matrimonial home on 13.05.2015.”

                                          Needless to say, it is then pointed out in the next para that, “On the other hand, the respondent-wife, though admitted the factum of marriage yet specifically denied that she had ever raised her voice, rather asserted that she had followed all the social and religious customs in her matrimonial home. She alleged that the appellant is M.Sc., M.Ed. qualified and was doing job in a private school. It is also alleged that the appellant used to pressurize the respondent to bring more money from her parents and asked her parents to sell their land, but the respondent and her father did not accede to such demand of the appellant. It was the appellant and his parents, who harassed the respondent physically and mentally and used to call a Tantrik for doing black magic upon her. She had denied the factum of attempting to commit a suicide. She used to prepare the food for the appellant and his family members at proper time and used to serve the guests as well. It was also denied by the respondent that she was a wanderer or used to consume liquor or drugs. The incident dated 06.05.2015 was admitted by the respondent as her family members came to drop her back to her matrimonial home. However, she was never accepted by the appellant and his family. They tortured her and ultimately she was turned out of her matrimonial home.”

                            As things stand, it is then pointed out in the next para that, “In the present case, issues were framed on 09.05.2017 and the appellant had examined as many as five witnesses along with his mother, namely, Bhatteri Devi as PW-2.”

                   Moving on, it is then illustrated in the next para that, “On the other hand, respondent had appeared into the witness box as RW-1 along with his father and other witnesses. After taking into consideration the evidence on record, the petition under Section 13 of the Act was dismissed on the ground that marriage was solemnized on 09.03.2015 and the respondent-wife had been residing with her parents since 13.05.2015 and the present petition was filed by the appellant-husband on 25.02.2016. It was, thus, held that the allegations of cruelty remained unsubstantiated.”

                                          After hearing both sides, it is then held in the next para that, “We have heard learned counsel for the parties and are of the view that there is no infirmity and illegality in the impugned judgment and decree passed by the trial Court.”

                                    Furthermore, it is then held in the next para that, “PW-3, namely, Vartika, in her cross examination had testified that the respondent was having illicit relations with one Kuldeep Shekhawat and his name was told to her by her friend Raveena. This witness further stated that she had come in contact with the respondent while studying and staying as a Paying Guest and had made a complaint to the owner of the P.G. regarding the behavior and conduct of the respondent-wife. Neither the owner of the P.G. stepped into the witness box to throw light on the said aspect nor any link evidence in this regard was led. Thus, the oral evidence of Vartika, PW-3 will not advance the cause of the appellant/petitioner.”

                                        What’s more, it is then pointed out in the next para that, “Though it is an admitted fact, as it had come through oral testimony, that the respondent-wife has been residing separately since 13.05.2015, but to our mind, it is the appellant, who alone is instrumental in ensuring that the respondent-wife stays away from her matrimonial home and there is no intentional cessation of cohabitation on the part of the respondent-wife nor there is any intention to desert the appellant-husband.”

                                         It cannot be lost on us that it is then made clear in the next para that, “The statutory period of two years of desertion, as envisaged under the Act, immediately preceding the presentation of the petition, had not expired, before the filing of the divorce petition by the appellant. At this stage, it would be relevant to consider Section 13(ia) and (ib) of the Act which reads as under:-

13. Divorce

(1) Any marriage solemnised, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party

[(i) xxx          xxx               xxx

[(ia) has after the solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty; or

[(ib) has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or”

                                        To be sure, we thus see that it is then laid down explicitly in the next para that, “In Section 13(1)(ib) of the Act, it has been specifically laid down that desertion is to be considered for the continuous period of not less than two years, immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.”

                                         As it turned out, it is then held in this new para that, “In the case in hand, the respondent-wife has allegedly left her matrimonial home on 13.05.2015 and the present petition was filed on 25.02.2016, thus, on the date of filing of the divorce petition, the statutory period of two years had not expired. Thus, the present divorce petition had rightly been rejected on this count by the Court below.”

                                       To say the least, it is then held that, “Thus, the relief of divorce was denied because the legislation in its wisdom had framed the Act on the basis of “fault theory” and “break down theory” which was not proved in the present case.”

                                     To put things in perspective, it is then pointed out that, “In Rajni Goyal versus Amit Kumar 2015 (2) R.C.R. (Civil) 871, the Hon’ble Court has held that “adultery is a serious charge and has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. But at the same time it is difficult to procure direct evidence for procuring such a charge. It is only from the circumstances that an inference can be drawn that the spouse against whom complaint has been made was leading an adulterous life”.”

                          More importantly, it is then held that, “To our mind, in the present case there is ordinary wear and tear of the married life of the parties, which happens in day to day life. Mere aggressive behavior and sadness of mood of wife does not mean that the wife is spoiling the atmosphere of her matrimonial home.”

                          To put it succinctly, it is then aptly pointed out that, “It has been held by the Apex Court in Samar Ghosh versus Jaya Ghosh, 2007 (2) R.C.R. (Criminal) 515 that the concept of cruelty differs from person to person, depending upon his or her upbringing, level of sensitivity, educational, family and cultural background, financial position, social status, customs, traditions, religious beliefs, human values and their value system. Therefore, it is essential for the party claiming the relief to prove that a particular conduct or behaviour has resulted into cruelty to him or her. The aggrieved party has to make specific case that the conduct of the spouse had caused cruelty to him/her. It is for the Court to weigh the gravity of alleged cruelty. It has to be seen whether the conduct was such that no reasonable person would tolerate it.”

                           Finally and perhaps most importantly, it is then very rightly held that, “In the present case, no cogent evidence has been placed on record that the behaviour of respondent is uncalled for. Regarding relationship of respondent-wife with Kuldeep Shekhawat the same had not been proved and above all Kuldeep Shekhawat had not been arrayed as party in the divorce petition so that he could join the proceedings and some light could have been thrown on the allegation. As a matter of fact adultery cannot be considered without impleading the alleged adulterer as per Rule 10 of Hindu Marriage (Punjab) Rules, 1956. Rather unsubstantiated and uncorroborated testimony associating the respondent with adulterer has caused mental cruelty to the respondent. Thus nuptial knots cannot be allowed to be broken on these types of unfounded allegations of cruelty, physical or mental. In view of the above, we do not find any illegality or infirmity in the order passed by the learned trial Court, which may warrant interference by this Court in the present appeal. Hence, the present appeal is dismissed. No order as to costs.”

                                In conclusion, the Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it explicitly clear in this latest, landmark and extremely laudable judgment that mere aggressive behaviour of wife cannot be a ground for divorce. There have to be strong grounds on which divorce can be granted. Just mere allegations of adultery also are not sufficient to constitute a ground of divorce. It must also be proved beyond a shadow of doubt for it to be admissible in a court of law. It was held in this case that the husband failed to produce cogent evidence against the wife and therefore his petition for divorce on the ground of cruelty was rejected! It was also very rightly held that mere aggressive behaviour wife and sadness of mood of wife does not mean that the wife is spoiling the atmosphere of her matrimonial home! Very rightly so!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.

Homosexuality-the legal arguments against it

safder kazmi


Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees two rights that the State shall not deny:

  i.            Equality before the Law

ii.            Equal protection of laws within the territory of India.

The former would mean that irrespective of any discrimination, law has to be absolutely applicable in the same manner to all. This has been an adoption of rule of law in Britain, the theory propounded by A.V. Dicey.[1] And the latter, postulates the application of the same laws alike and without any discrimination to all persons similarly situated. It denotes equality of treatment in equal circumstances.[2] In order to violate the principle of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution of India, law has to discriminatory in nature in similar circumstances. However, § 377 by a bare perusal does not qualify to be in the arena of such violation because it is applicable only to whoever voluntarily commits the said offences. Section  377 is in conformity and is in furtherance of Article 14 as it is applicable on all without any remotest discrimination.

Article 14 forbids class legislation; it does not forbid reasonable classification of persons, objects and transaction by the legislature for the purpose of achieving specific ends. Classification should be reasonable, should fulfil the following two tests:

i.        That the classification is founded on an intelligible differentia and

ii.      That differentia has a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the impugned legislative or executive action. [3]          

In the light of preceding paragraph, it is noteworthy to bring to the light the fact that § 377, IPC has been incorporated in the statute as a curative and punitive provision in reference to sexual offences which are otherwise not included in any other section. Therefore, it can be rightfully interpreted as a residuary clause for crime related to sexual offences. Therefore, the provisions of § 375-§ 377 have to be read together and not separately if the true intention of the legislation has to be brought to light. Justice Parke has held that in the construction of a statute to adhere to the ordinary meaning of the words used, and to the grammatical construction, unless that is at variance with the intention of the legislature to be collected from the statute itself, or leads to any manifest absurdity or repugnance, in which case the language may be varied or modified so as to avoid such inconvenience but no further.[4]

Thus, while enacting this Section, did not intend to include consensual and private sex within the ambit of § 377, IPC. Justice Scalia has observed that consensual sodomy, like heterosexual intercourse, is rarely performed on stage.  If all the Court means by acting in private is on private premises, with the doors closed and windows covered, it is entirely unsurprising that evidence of enforcement would be hard to come by.  (Imagine the circumstances that would enable a search warrant to be obtained for a residence on the ground that there was probable cause to believe that consensual sodomy was then and there occurring.)  Surely that lack of evidence would not sustain the proposition that consensual sodomy on private premises with the doors closed and windows covered was regarded as a fundamental right, even though all other consensual sodomy was criminalized.[5]

Therefore a  statutory provision has to be interpreted in such way that the reasonableness is judged with reference objectives of legislation and not cosmetic moral considerations.[6]



A  grand step was taken by the Court by expanding the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution of India it argued that lifein Article 21 does not mean merely animal existence but living with human dignity.[7] Therefore, the act of homosexuality itself is animal like and does not reasonably qualify to be within the ambit of natural and legitimate acts. It has been scientifically proved on various occasions that it becomes a cause of severe health hazards, and it the duty of the State to protect individuals from such activities which might hazardous to their health and the health of the society.

The Federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies report a disturbing increase in high-risk sexual behaviours and substance abuse among some groups of MSM in recent years.[8] Media reports also confirm a trend in dangerous behaviours among MSM, such as:

i.            Bug chasing. Another disturbing phenomenon among some MSM involves HIV-negative MSM who actively seek HIV infection by engaging in high-risk sexual activities with infected male partners. A 2003 Rolling Stone article brought national attention to “bug-chasing,” which the article described as “an intricate underground world that has sprouted, driven almost completely by the Internet, in which men who want to be infected with HIV get together with those willing to infect them.”[9] Carlos, a “bug chaser” who claimed to have had several hundred sexual partners and said he regularly had sex with three or four HIV-positive men a week, told Rolling Stone, “I know what the risks are…But I think it turns the other guy on to know that I’m negative and that they’re bringing me into the brotherhood. That gets me off, too.” [10]

ii.            Physical Damage: Homosexual men who engage in anal sex are at a significantly high risk for numerous health problems. The high-risk nature of anal sex is simple: the rectum was not designed for sexual intercourse. According to amfAR, “compared to the vagina, rectal tissue is much more vulnerable to tearing during intercourse and the larger surface area of the rectum/colon provides more opportunity for viral penetration and infection.”[11]In her book, Epidemic, Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician, writes: “The anus opens into the rectum…which is not as well suited for penile penetration as the female vagina is. Both the anus and the rectum have rich blood supplies, and their walls, thinner than the walls of the vagina, are easily damaged. When penetration occurs, it’s easier to tear the blood vessels, which in turn increase the risk of acquiring or receiving an infection…”[12]

iii.            Anal Cancer: Homosexual men are also at an increased risk for anal cancer. [13]According to the American Cancer Society, risk factors for anal cancer include: Human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes anal and/or genital warts; multiple sexual partners; and anal intercourse.[14] Due to concerns about anal cancer, some health professionals now recommend anal Pap Smears for MSM.[15]

iv.            STDs: Compared to heterosexual men, MSM are at an increased risk of contracting a number of dangerous STDs, including HIV/AIDS. According to the GLMA, these STDs include: “urethritis, proctitis, pharyngitis, prostatitis, hepatitis A and B, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, genital warts and HIV infection.”[16]

v.            HIV/AIDS: Despite efforts by gay activists to disassociate homosexuality from the spread of AIDS, homosexual behavior, particularly among males, is associated with an increased risk of HIV. Although HIV can be transmitted through both vaginal and anal intercourse, receptive anal sex without a condom is at least 10 times more risky for contracting HIV than vaginal sex without a condom, according to amfAR.[17]

the word ‘expression’ occurring in Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution canNOT  be read disjunctively from the word ‘speech’ and HENCE CAN NOT  include expression of sexual orientation of a citizen

Article 19 (1) of the Constitution of India reads as follows:

(1) All citizens shall have the right:

(a) To freedom of speech and expression;

(b) To assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) To form associations or unions;

(d) To move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) To reside and settle in any part of the territory of India…………

If the intention of the legislation was to read the two words disjunctively, then the same would have been separated while the Constitution was being drafted. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the intention of the legislature is primarily to be gathered from the language used which means that attention should be paid to what has been said.[18] Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has also held that a construction which requires for its support addition or substitution of words or which result in rejection of words as meaningless has to be avoided completely.[19] It should be observed for better interpretation of this Article that the legislation has made a deliberate effort of using the word “And” in Article 19 (1) (a) and not “or” as it has been used in Article 19 (1) (c) and Article 19 (1) (g). Thereby, this means that “And” is a compulsive inclusion and its exclusion would change the meaning and destroy the essence of the Article.

The scope of Article 19 (1) (a) has rightfully been expressed by this Court that the right to express one’s conviction’s and opinions freely, by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture or in any other manner (addressed to the eyes or the ears). It includes the expression of one’s idea by any “visible representation”, such as by gestures or the like.[20] Therefore, that Sexual orientation cannot be legitimately interpreted to be within the purview of Article 19 (1) (a).

Relying on the above mentioned points, the words freedom of speech and expression have been written together and separating them for a wider interpretation would be absurd and unjust. In this regard, Jervis, C.J has rightfully held that ifthe precise words are plain and unambiguous, then the Court is bound to construe them in their ordinary sense, the failure of which will leadto absurdity or manifest injustice.[21] Thus, the intention of the legislation was to read the words together and therefore it would ultimately lead to manifest injustice if such a wide interpretation is taken.

The Constitution strikes a balance between individual liberty and social control. A Division Bench of the Hon’ble Delhi High  Court has held on the above mentioned balance by holding that Article 19 of the Constitution gives a list of individual liberties and prescribes in the various clauses the restraints that may be placed upon them by law so that they may not conflict with public welfare or general morality.[22]

sexual intercourse of the same sex is against such established and recognised norms of human behaviour that indulgence in it may justify curtailment of individual liberty by the State within parameters of a reasonable restriction on grounds of public decency or morality under Article 19(2).

India is a diverse nation having a rich and multi-cultural heritage accommodating a majority of the religions in the world.

Our Constitution guarantees in its Preamble that India is a secular state and thus, implying that the religious sentiments of all the cultures in this community are to be respected.[23]Secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution,[24] Rule of Law[25] and the Rule of Equity.[26] Therefore,a legislation cannot be made or amended which contravenes any of the said norms of any religious community existing in our country. Acts of homosexuality are condemned both in text and context by more than one religion being practiced in our country. The Srimad Bhaagvad Gita states that a Hindu marriage joins two individuals of opposite sex for life, so that they can pursue dharma (duty), artha (possessions), kama (physical desires), and moksa (ultimate spiritual release) together. It also joins two families. Furthermore, the Quran condemns homosexuality by stating that Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, “And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing“[27] and even prescribes a punishment for such acts.[28] Even the canon law prohibits such acts.

Therefore, reasonable restriction is imposed in order to prevent that religious sentiment from being hurt of any particular community. The Hon’ble  Delhi High Court has held that the words ‘reasonablerestriction’ corresponds to the societal norms of decency, e.g, respect of rights or reputation of others, protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals etc.[29]

In its judgement, the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court have referred to Lord Devlin to emphasize the need of morality in the society. The Hon’ble Court has said that Lord Devlin appears says that society has the right to enforce morality as such on the ground that a shared, morality is essential to society’s existence, it is not at all clear that for him the statement that immorality jeopardizes or weakens society is a statement of empirical fact. It seems sometimes to be an a priori assumption, and sometimes a necessary truth and a very odd one. The most important indication that this is so is that, apart from one vague reference to “history” showing that the loosening of moral bonds is often the first stage of disintegration, no evidence is produced to show that deviation from accepted sexual morality, even by adults in private, is something which, like treason, threatens the existence of society.[30]

The Supreme Court has held that if the Court finds on scrutiny, that the law has not overstepped the constitutional limitations, the court will have to uphold the law, whether it likes it or not.[31]Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has even held that if a law deals equally with members of a well-defined class, it is not obnoxious and it is not open to the charge of denial of equal protection on the ground that it has no application to the other persons.[32]

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of the United States of America has held that the right to engage in homosexual acts is not deeply rooted in any country’s history and tradition.[33] American Courts have also held that countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majority is belief that certain sexual behavior is immoral and unacceptable constitutes a rational basis for regulation.[34]In relevance to the instant matter, it has been held by that engaging in homosexual acts outside the scope of marriage is not protected by any constitutional mandate.[35]The Hon’ble Supreme Court of the United States of America has observed that State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in validation of laws based on moral choices.[36]

[1]Wade and Phillips, Constitution and Administrative Law, 87 (1977)

[2]Mohd. Shaheb Mahboob v. Dy. Custodian, AIR 1961 SC 1657

[3]Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi, AIR 1981 487

[4] Becke v Smith (1836) 2 M&W 195

[5]Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)

[6] R.K. Garg v. Union of India, (1981) 4 SCC 675

[7]Francis Coralie v. Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi, AIR 1981 SC 746

[8]CDC, “HIV/AIDS Among Men Who Have Sex With Men,” CDC HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet, May 2007

[9]Freeman, Geoffery, “Bug Chasers: The men who long to be HIV+,” Rolling  Stone magazine, February 6, 2003.


[11]CDC, “HIV/AIDS Among Men Who Have Sex With Men,” CDC HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet, May 2007

[12]Meeker, Meg, MD, “High-Risk Sex,” Epidemic: How Teen Sex is Killing Our Kids, Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC: 2002, pgs. 152.

[13]GLMA, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health: Findings and Concerns,” Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Vol. 4, no. 3 (2000), pg.111.

[14]American Cancer Society, “What are the risks of anal cancer,” All About Anal Cancer, www.cancer.org.

[15]GLMA, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health: Findings and Concerns,” Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Vol. 4, no. 3 (2000), pg.120.

[16] Ibid

[17]amfAR, “HIV Prevention for Men Who Have Sex With Men,” Issue Brief  #4, June 2006, pgs. 1-2.

[18] Gwalior Rayon Silk Mfg. Co. Ltd. v. Custodian of Vested Forests, AIR 1990 SC 1747

[19] Shyam Kishori Devi v. Patna Municipal Corporation, AIR 1966 SC 1678

[20]Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras, (1950) SCR 594

[21] Abley v. Gale, 20 L.J.C.P (N.S) 233 (1851); Arul Nadar v. Authorised officer, Land Reforms, (1998)7SCC 57

[22]A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, (1950) SCR 88 (253-54)

[23] See The Preamble, The Constitution of India, 1950

[24]Shri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwa Nath Temple, Varanasi v. State of U.P, (1997) 4 SCC 606

[25]High Court of Judicature at Bombay v. Shirish Kumar Rangrao Patel, (1997) 6 SCC 379

[26]Indira Sawhney v. Union of India, (2000) 1 SCC 168

[27] Qur’an (26:165-166)

[28] Qur’an (4:16) – “If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both.

[29]Director General, Directorate General of Doordarshan v. Anand Patwardhan, AIR 2006 SC 3346

[30] Kailash Alias Kala v State of Haryana, 2004 CriLJ 310

[31] Anwar v. State of J&K, AUR 1971 SC 337(388); Arunachal v. Khudiram, (1994) Supp (1) 615, para 75

[32]Chiranjit Lal v. Union of India, (1950) SCR 869; State of Bombay v. Balsara, (1951) SCR 682 (708-09)

[33]See Bowers v.  Hardwick, 478 U. S. 186(1986)

[34]Williams v.  Pryor, 240 F. 3d 944, 949 (CA11 2001)

[35] Owens v. State, 352 Md. 663, 683, 724 A. 2d 43, 53 (1999)

[36]Supra Note 14

Crime & Punishment


India, no doubt, is a great country. It has a great system of criminal jurisprudence in which an individual/group has a right to commit a crime, heinous included, to run away from the scene of crime and, if caught, the right to claim he is innocent. This exactly is what we call ”choriaurseenazori”.

There are a few instances in which people in the heat of moment have committed crime, even of murder, and then they have voluntarily surrendered before police or courts confessing their crime, even before the police had actually got a whiff of it. At the same time, they have their unchallenged inherent right to resile from their confessional statements in the heat of moment and to claim innocent denying their confession.

Our law also provides alibis and chances to prove themselves juvenile, under the influence of intoxication, depression, provocation or other mitigating circumstances to prove their innocence or seek punishment lesser stringent than the extent of their crime due under the law.

Even when a case of murder is proved against a person, he can be sentenced to capital punishment only, as the Supreme Court has decreed, if the case falls in the category of ”rarest of the rare” in the opinion of the concerned learned court.
On the one hand, we all – the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, the media and the people – are one in the need for dispensing quick justice to the victims of the heinous crime of rape and on the other, our courts are showing leniency and consideration to the accused. The latest is the case in which the Supreme Court (SC) on January 29, 2013 ruled that the man who had raped his minor daughter and killed her and his wife and who had been sentenced to death, need not be sent to the gallows ”as the crime did not fall under the rarest of rare cases”. The SC further said that ”his reformation is not foreclosed in this case.”

An SC double bench set aside the death sentence, awarded by trial court and upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, saying that the convict was feeling frustrated because of the attitude of his wife and children.

The history of the conduct of the convict Mohinder Singh speaks otherwise and does not inspire confidence that ”his reformation is not foreclosed”. He committed the crime while on parole from jail where he was undergoing a 12-year sentence for raping his 12-year-old daughter. In January 2005, he came out on parole and killed his wife who was a witness to the rape, and the daughter he had raped.

A father raping his daughter and killing her and his wife, a witness to the crime, needless to say, is not a daily routine but a rarest of the rare heinous crimes in India. That the convict was ”feeling frustrated because of the attitude of his wife and children” does not mitigate the intensity of his crime. On the contrary, it only shows that the father did not appear to be ashamed and repentant for the sin he committed and instead wanted his wife and daughter to be a conspirator in his crime and save him by telling a lie in the court. His conduct during his parole itself belies the hope that ”his reformation is not foreclosed in this case”.

Juvenile hardcore criminal
No less astonishing is the report that the ”most brutal” accused in the gang-rape and killing of a paramedical student Nirbhaya in New Delhi last month has been declared a ”minor” by the Juvenile Justice Board on January 29 on the basis of the date of birth on his school certificate and ordered his trial under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. The Board also rejected the plea of the Police for bone certification test of the accused to determine his age.

This suspicion got further strengthened by a Times of India story which on February 01 quoted the mother of the accused who claims to be juvenile saying: ”I have no idea regarding either the day or date of admission. I just went to the school and told the teacher that this is my child, he is five years of age, write down his name. They started teaching him after that.” And yet our Juvenile Justice Board has blind faith in the school certificate that shows the age of the accused.

The decision based on ”school certificate” is open to question because everyone knows that in India, for various reasons, parents of children have been getting birth certificates of their children showing an age less than the actual one. The ”bone certification” would have been more scientific and reliable.

It is ironic that a person who allegedly committed one of the most heinous crimes, which even a hardened criminal would have dreaded to perform, should be dispensed Care and Protection reserved for juveniles. We need to distinguish between juvenile delinquency and juvenile crime. Juveniles have been dispensed care and protection because their crime was not heinous but could be considered a delinquency like a child playing with a knife accidently killing another child or pushing a fellow child without realizing that his act could cost a life or a child playing with fire incidentally causing a great inferno resulting in huge loss of life and property. These may be crimes but seem to have been inadvertently committed with no set motive. But that is not the case of this juvenile accused in Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder. One has to go by the enormity of the heinous crime and not by the age of the culprit.

This gives another indication of the kind of justice and the criminal jurisprudence we have. This stands in the way of justice. It fails to punish the culprit because it itself raises many ifs and buts in the smooth way of handing out punishment to the person guilty of a crime. The loopholes in the justice system only help the accused and not the innocent and the aggrieved in his quest for justice.

Justice should not only be dispensed but also appear to have been dispensed. It is absence of this scenario that is prompting people to take law into their own hands and dispense justice themselves there and then.
The writer is a Delhi based political analyst and commentator.