Thursday, January 23, 2020

HC refuses to quash FIR against protesters

The Gujarat high court has refused to quash an FIR filed against some protesters of the Citizenship Amendment Act observing that the investigation into “the serious offence” is under way and at a very nascent stage.
The court held the accused have not been able to establish that the HC should use its special powers to quash the FIR in this case.
Four protesters including Amarnath Vasava were arrested in Chhapi town in Banaskantha district of north Gujarat, where the protesters had gathered in large numbers.
The authorities had withdrawn permission to hold the programme at the last moment and detained Vasava and three others from their hotel in the morning of December 19, 2019.
After the protests, police booked people including these four for rioting, unlawful assembly, creating rift between communities and criminal conspiracy.
The protesters approached the HC saying that they had been in police detention at the time the alleged trouble took place. Still they have been implicated in the case. Cops had taken them to the venue at the insistence of the mob.
The HC observed that their submission is attractive, but the cops had to take them to the venue due to demand of the mob, which had already started damaging property.
Two of the accused delivered speeches and shouted slogans, though there was no permission to hold the programme, the HC said.

Acceptance Of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Not A Ground To Quash Case Under Sec 138 NI Act: Madras HC

In a significant ruling, the Madras High Court has held that acceptance of the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Plan under Section 31 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 cannot be a ground for quashing the prosecution initiated under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 against the corporate debtor and its socials. "No clause in the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Plan even if accepted by the adjudicating authority/appellate Tribunal can take away the power and jurisdiction of the criminal court to conduct and dispose of the proceedings before it in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure," a single-Judge bench of Justice GR Swaminathan held.
The observations have been made in an application led under Section 482 of CrPC, seeking to quash Section 138 proceedings as non-est in the eyes of law and to direct the Complainant-Respondent to pursue their remedies under IBC. The Petitioner-company had undergone the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process under Section 31 of the Code and moratorium in terms of Section 14 of the Code was declared, during the pendency of complaints about the dishonor of cheque.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Govt can’t invalidate PAN for lack of Aadhaar linkage: HC

The Gujarat high court said that a person’s Income Tax (I-T) permanent account number (PAN) does not become invalid for filing income tax returns and making transactions just because it is not linked to their Aadhaar card.
The HC said the government cannot make a PAN inoperative or hold the PAN holder to be a defaulter just because their PAN was not linked to their Aadhaar or their Aadhaar number was not quoted till the Supreme Court decides the validity of the Aadhaar Act, which is pending in the form of a reference before a larger bench.
The HC made it clear that until the apex court decides the issue of the Aadhaar Act’s validity as a money bill in Rojer Mathew v/s South Indian Bank Ltd, the government cannot take action against PAN holders for not linking them with their Aadhaar ID, under Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act.
The HC recently passed this order on a petition filed by advocate Bandish Soparkar in 2017, when the central government had issued the diktat mandating linking of PAN with Aadhaar. On March 31, 2019, the central government set a deadline of September 30 for this.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Udate on CAA in SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted four-week time to the Centre to reply to the 144-odd petitions challenging the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA. While most of the petitions challenge the constitutional validity of CAA, some of them seek a declaration that the act is constitutional.
The apex court also ordered that high courts should not take up cases on CAA.
As the hearing began, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde that there are 140-odd petitions but only 60 petitions have been served on Union. He sought time to reply to the rest of them.
Lawyer Kapil Sibal, representing a group of petitioners, said that matter should be heard by a Constitution bench. He also urged the court to direct Centre to put the process of granting citizenship on hold for two-three months till the apex court hears the matter. The Supreme Court is likely to send the matter to a constitution bench.
Sibal further said that the National Population (NPR) exercise is scheduled for April and should be postponed through an interim order of the court. Fellow lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is also representing the petitioners, also demanded a stay saying, “If the process could wait for 70 years, can it not wait for two more months?”
But Venugopal opposed it saying there should be no interim order without hearing the Centre. The Centre’s top law officer said that seeking the postponement of implementation of the act is the same as seeking a stay of the same. CJI Bobde agreed and said it won’t grant any stay without hearing Centre.
The petitions first came up for a hearing before the top court on December 18, 2019 when the court issued notice to the central government and Venugopal. Only 60-odd petitions had been filed by then.
The Centre had subsequently filed a transfer petition seeking transfer of CAA-related cases from high courts to the Supreme Court.
The change in the citizenship law, which was passed by Parliament on December 12, 2019, amends Section 2 of the Citizenship Act, which defines “illegal migrants”. In this definition, Parliament added a provision that excluded people belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, from being counted as undocumented migrants. The only condition was that such people should have entered the country before 31 December 2014.
The exclusion of Muslim community from this special dispensation has led to widespread protests across the country. Critics say this is the first time that a law has linked Indian citizenship to the applicant’s religion. There have also been protests against a proposed all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the potential problems in the two working in combination.
The petitioners challenging the law have submitted that the CAA discriminates on the basis of religion by segregating persons and granting them the benefit of naturalisation, if they belong to a certain religion from three neighbouring countries.
This religious segregation, the petitioners submitted, is without any reasonable differentiation and it is not only violates Article 14, but is also blatantly opposed to the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
Supporters of CAA have argued that the exclusion of Muslims from the three countries is reasonable since Muslims are in a majority in the three countries and are hence not in danger of being persecuted for their faith.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Have Aadhaar, passport? You’ll have to share details for NPR Voter ID, DL Info Also Mandatory

Sharing details of Aadhaar, passport number, voter ID and driving licence during the planned National Population Register (NPR) exercise will be mandatory if you possess these documents, home ministry sources clarified on Wednesday.
A senior official explained “voluntary” or “optional” sharing of identification documents only meant respondents would not be required to provide details of Aadhaar, driving licence, voter ID or passport number if these have not been issued to them in the first place. But if one has the documents, the information is to be provided even though no document needs to be shown as proof.
While announcing the Cabinet’s approval of funding for Census 2021 and NPR 2020 on December 24 last year, commerce minister Piyush Goyal had said sharing Aadhaar number during NPR would be “optional”. However, information & broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said NPR will involve self-certification or self-declaration while home minister Amit Shah said “voluntary” would mean it is okay if some information is not there.
The official explanation on Wednesday cleared a prevailing impression that a respondent can choose not to provide information relating to the documents. While the effort will be to persuade respondents to provide information, explaining its utility, a rarely invoked provision entails a fine of up to Rs 1,000 on the head of the family for not sharing correct particulars of household members.
An official explained the legal implications of “optional” and “compulsory”, saying, “It is indeed optional as the fields can be left blank if you don’t possess Aadhaar number, passport, driving licence or voter ID. ‘Compulsory’ would mean that you would be required to procure these documents to enter the said details in the NPR form.”
According to sources, during the Census pre-test conducted last year, more than 80% respondents had willingly shared Aadhaar details. “The only field that got an adverse response was PAN, which has been dropped.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 has come into force.

In the notification published in the Official Gazette today, the Central Government 'appoints'  the 10th day of January, 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, shall come into force. 
The Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 10 December 2019. A day before, it was introduced in Lok Sabha, and a day later it was passed in Rajya Sabha. The President gave his assent on 12th December 2019 and it was notified on the Gazette the same day.  
This amendment to Citizenship Act, 1955, liberalizes the grant of citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had entered India before December 31, 2014. As per proviso introduced in Section 2(1)(b), they will not be regarded as 'illegal migrants'. It also makes migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christian religions from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan eligible for citizenship by naturalization if they can establish their residency in India for five years instead of existing eleven years.
The Government is yet to frame Rules in this regard, detailing the procedure to be adopted by authorities, by amending Citizenship Rules, 2009. There were reports that a decision in this regard will be taken after seeking experts' advice. 
Many individuals and political organisations have challenged the Constitutional Validity of the Act before the Supreme Court.