Centre’s Coal Block Auction: Legal Angle

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced the launch of auction of coal mines for commercial purposes thus, inviting private companies to participate in the coal mining sector, which has been dominated by the State-owned Coal India Limited until now.

The auction process is for 41 coal blocks across Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Orissa. The Prime Minister further added that this move was a step towards the goal of “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” (‘self-reliant’ India). However, the very next day Jharkhand Government approached the Apex Court in a challenge against the Centre’s decision on various grounds including, inadequate assessment of impact on people who are likely to be affected by such mining, destruction of forests and distortion of lives of adivasis and tribals who live and depend upon such forests. Following Jharkhand, the Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh Governments too moved the Supreme Court three days later opposing the auction on grounds of prevention of destruction of the abundant wildlife and biodiversity which is charatceristic of the locations of most of these coal blocks. The Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre against the Jharkhand Government’s plea challenging the auction and listed the matter after four weeks for further consideration.

Facts of the Issue

The Central Government launched the auction process of 41 coal blocks out of which 11 are located in Madhya Pradesh, 9 each in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha and the remaining 3 in Maharashtra. This step by the Prime Minister ends the State monopoly in the coal mining sector and also allows commercial mining for the first time. The decision has been justified by the Prime Minister on the grounds of potential investment, as well as employment generation for more than 2.8 lakh people both directly and indirectly, and upto Rs. 20,000 crores in revenue to State Governments annually. However, these incentives did not appease the State Governments, who instead, opposed the decision by pleading that the negative effect on the value of scarce natural resources outweighs the reasonable returns expected from the projects. Maharashtra’s Environment Minister Aaditya Thackrey strongly opposed the Centre’s proposed auction of mine sites located near Tadoba- Andhari tiger reserve located in Chandrapur District, and also cited the survey by ex- environment Minister Jairam Ramesh that led to scrapping of 2011 auction of the same mine site, for the reason that the site is unsuitable for mining. He further questioned the auction of the mentioned mine site on the ground that it can potentially destroy the wildlife corridor of Tadoba- Andhari. Chhattisgarh Environment Minister approached the Supreme Court seeking removal of 5 out of the 9 coal blocks citing rising human- elephant conflicts in these areas, which was identified as a ‘no-go’ zone in the past to preserve its biodiversity. The States also expressed concern over the displacement of tribals and destruction of their livelihood as reasons for opposition.

Legal Provisions Involved

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 deals with development and regulation of mines under the Union’s control. It provides that the union should take in its control, the regulation of mines if it is expedient in the public interest.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification of 2006, to assess the impact of any mining project on the environment. The Rules are issued in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 was passed for the purpose of protection of forests from rampant deforestation. The Act prohibits deforestation by the States and other authorities, unless with the prior permission of the Central Government.

Critical Analysis

The Central Government’s ambitious decision has faced recurrent backlash from most of the States where the proposed auction sites are located. Besides, the former Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh and the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha have criticized the decision.

India’s pledge under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to create a cumulative sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 and its goal of bringing the forest cover to 33% from the current 24% seems incompatible with the auction of sites, which comprises the densest forests of Hasdeo forest, known as the lungs of Chhattisgarh, spread over 1.7 lakh hectares. Similarly, 50% of the Chakla and Pilatund Tilaiya coal block in Jharkhand is forest area. The Chattisgarh Bachao Andolan has opposed the auction and 20 Gram sabhas in Chhattisgarh alone have written to the Prime Minister regarding the same.

Coal India has estimated that the number of mines that it has, with the current growth rate, is capable of meeting India’s energy requirement for a decade according to its Coal Vision Report. The monetisation of natural resources by the Prime Minister for an ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ does not justify the negative impact that it would have on the environment and people who live and depend upon these forests. The decision is also violative of the Supreme Court’s decision in Samatha vs. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors wherein it was held that all entities including the State are ‘non-Adivasis’, and Adivasi co-operatives alone have the right to undertake mining in their land, if they so wish. Later, in Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd vs. Ministry of Environment & Forest, the Apex Court upheld the constitutional right of Gram Sabhas to consider whether mining in their areas can be undertaken or not. Thus, the decision disregarding various judicial pronouncements, fifth schedule areas and environment protection laws has had the effect of negatively impacting the climate, forests, and people subsisting with it.

Conclusion

With the increasing importance of sustainable growth by nations and international organizations and the negative impact of climate change caused due to burning of fossil fuels, there is a need to reduce the dependence on such fuels and to increase the use and development of renewable sources of energy for meeting the growing energy requirements. However, the Centre’s decision to auction mining sites at the cost of destruction of forest cover and displacement of tribals, even when the energy demands can easily be met with current mines and other renewable resources, doesn’t seem to be in the general public interest. To capitalise the destruction of biodiverse areas should not be the stepping-stone for a ‘self-reliant’ India; rather the focus should be on growth and development of renewable sources of energy to shift towards a sustainable development policy.

Author: Ashray Singh from School of law, NMIMS Mumbai.

Editor: Astha Garg, Junior Editor, Lexlife India

Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen): Phase 2 Guidelines

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The government in February launched the second phase of Swachh Bharat Misssion: Grameen which aims mainly on improving the rural Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) with an overall dilution of funds of around One Lakh and Forty thousand Crore.  The amount comes partially from Ministry from Drinking Water and Sanitation and from funds allotted to MNREGA and Solid and Liquid Waste Management schemes. With the mission of sustaining the gains of Swachh Bharat Mission-1 and capitalizing on it to improve and enhance the hygiene of the rural India, the scheme will run from 2020-21 to 2024-25.

Significance of this development

The Swachh Bharat Mission-1 ran from 2014-2019 aiming to provide a toilet in every household of India. The government on 2nd October declared that the all 34 States and UTs have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). This achievement is truly commendable considering Rural India’s performance in Sanitation and Hygiene has been abysmal over the 7 decades of Independence. With the aim of sustaining and providing universal access to toilets, the second phase is visioning a ‘behavior chance’ programme with Individual and Rural communities in mind.

Aims and Objectives

The primary aim of the government is to transform districts into ODF-Plus. Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation defines ODF-Plus as having four important components: ODF-S; Solid Waste Management; Liquid Waste Management; and Faecal Sludge Management. These can be discussed under following headings:

  • ODF-S: ODF- Sustainability is really crucial considering that the ODF status of many districts is hanging on a lose end and any trouble or even removal of incentives will sway away the people from using toilets.
  • Solid Waste Management: The scheme aims to provide at least 80% of the households with proper mechanism to deal with solid waste coming from agricultural activities and cattle, reducing plastic usage and other tackling other Bio-degradable wastes using compost pits.
  • Liquid Waste Management: On a similar ground, govt. aims that 80% of the household use pits and other conservation techniques and segregate the Blackwater that are mixed with the sewage and Greywater that are coming from Kitchens and Bathrooms are can be used again and again.
  • Visual Cleanliness: Visual cleanliness implies that around 80% of the rural area have minimal amount of litter, stagnant water and negligible plastic usage.

Salient features

The prominent features of the scheme are:

  • The Scheme will continue to generate employment as a result of construction of several pits and toilets and will give stimulus to rural economy and Infrastructure.
  • For sustainability of ODF status, any left-over house or newly built house will be provided with a toilet. Additionally, any retrofitting of already built toilets will be done in case of defects in their structure.
  • The new guidelines will also give 12,000 rupees as incentive for BPL, SC/ST, and other marginalized households for construction of toilets.
  • Construction of Community Sanitary Complexes (CSCs) is a welcome step and shall consist of an appropriate number of toilet seats, bathing cubicles, washing platforms, wash basins etc. The CSC would be accessible for Divyang-jans.
  • The Guidelines also suggest methods for implementation which includes collaborating with other schemes like Gobar-Dhan so that bio waste can be treated properly and can be used extensively as a bio-fuel.
  • According to the guidelines, the States and Districts must make use of any technology in hand for the successful treatment of Solid and Liquid Waste.

Critical Analysis

The scheme provides for a special mechanism of Education, Information and Communication (EIC). This, however, does not suffice to correct what the first phase lacked. According to a data, almost all the northern states though have toilets built but sill people choose to defecate in open. The current phase as well only targets to aware people about the schemes in place and not the overall benefit of maintain hygienic standards. Once the Schemes die, people go back to their normal livings.

Another important still lacking in the scheme is no drawing of nexus between environmental protection and waste management. After the initial building of toilets, many states were ravaged with flood and droughts and this lead to destruction of several structures. In the event of scarcity of water, managing a toilet becomes a huge task and people have no choice other than to defecate in open. This guidelines as well fails to explain how the several compost pits and newly built toilets are going to be sustained and maintained. It doesn’t specify in their awareness programmes about the long term benefits of such changes. Social media and government’s propagation through slogans hardly reach the ground as is thought by this scheme.

Conclusion

The continuance of the Swachh Bharat Mission is a welcome step and considering the achievements it had in the last five years, it can be said that this is the ideal time to capitalize on it and transform the rural India. However, at the other side of the coin, ground reality cannot be ignored and moving forward without making a stringent step to correct the discourse is something that will lead to a dead end. It is important that we move forward with much more decentralization and customization of Health schemes according to a district’s needs.

Author: Mayuresh Kumar from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India

India’s Election Campaign for UNSC Elected Seat

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

A detailed brochure was released by the Government of India on 5th June 2020, which highlighted India’s campaign for securing an elected seat at the United Nations Security Council (hereinafter referred to as ‘UNSC’). The elections for the same are scheduled to take place on 17th June 2020, in New York. If India succeeds in this, this will mark the country’s eighth term of occupation as a non-permanent seat at the UNSC, the last term being 2011-12. The present term, if a seat is secured, will begin in January 2021. The objectives of UNSC are to ensure international peace and security, launch peacekeeping missions, recommend the general assembly, enact international sanctions etc.  The non-permanent members in the UNSC also get to be involved in global security briefings.

Salient features

As highlighted in the brochure, the features of this election campaign have laid out several objectives and priorities for India. The approach of the campaign has been guided by “FIVE S’s which are as follows:

  • Samman (Respect),
  • Samvad (Dialogue),
  • Sahyog (Cooperation),
  • Shanti (Peace), to create conditions for universal
  • Samriddhi (Prosperity)

The objective of India during this tenure of two years has been highlighted as the achievement of N.O.R.M.S: A New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System. The mantra of “The World is one family” adopted from the Sanskrit slogan of “Vasudev Kutumbakam” has been adopted for the campaign. India’s vision to achieve the objectives of UNSC is guided by the following factors:

  • Dialogue and Cooperation,
  • Mutual respect and
  • Commitment to International Law

Objectives and purposes

India is committed to fight terrorism which is an eminent threat to international peace and security and association with the council can help in help in combating the menace in all forms. In the post-COVID era, India can also help in the reform of the council which is much needed for the promotion of greater cooperation in multilateral institutions. In the international context, the Security Council will face new challenges in the wake of this pandemic due to a more complex economic and political environment and India can help in having a sound approach to tackle the same. Another purpose which India can help fulfill if elected as a non-permanent member is to harness the benefits of technological innovation by building partnerships and resilient communities as it has promised in the campaign to build ‘Technology with a human touch’. In today’s context the security challenges faced by the world require a comprehensive and integrated approach to harmonize international priorities and India’s vision can help in achieving that objective. A comprehensive approach to foster international peace and security will definitely help in realizing the objectives and purpose of the institution.

Critical analysis

India is the sole candidate from the Asia-Pacific region, but it will need two-third of the general assembly to vote in its favour. The government of India has been looking forward to this since 2013 and this particular year is important for two reasons; 2021 marks the 75th year of independence and no slot for this was available before 2026, it is only because Afghanistan’s cooperation that we are given a chance to contest as they backed out, showing a friendly gesture to India. The engagement with UNSC can also be seen as a tactic of foreign policy and can help in India becoming an advocate of dialogue, a proponent of International law and significant factor in decision making.

Also, India, wants a change in UNSC P5 to get included in it so that it can wield greater power and influence. India is a super power aspirant and it needs to be there to be reflective of its power. This will also be seen as a status of power or a power symbol for the country. It will also help in having a say in the decision making at an international level and will also provide opportunities to foster ties with other countries in regards to security and peace cooperation. As discussed above, global institutions like UNSC are in need of reform and India’s vision and approach as promised in the campaign can definitely play a positive role in that regard. It will also help in developing an effective response to counter terrorism which is one of the biggest aims of the country as well as the institution.  

Conclusion

This campaign launched by India highlights an integrated approach to deal with the contemporary challenges and the need of reform faced by global institutions like the UNSC. Through the campaign, a positive role promised to be played by the country can be realized and the vision behind it as highlighted forms a strong base for India to be re-elected for the 8th time. The constructive and innovative support will also help the institution and other developing countries to recover from the crisis due to the upsurge of COVID-19 pandemic. The government looks confident enough for getting 2/3rd votes of the General Assembly.

Author: Aakash Batra from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

NRC: What is ‘Inner Line Permit’ ?

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The Apex Court on 3rd June 2020 asked the Central Government to answer the presidential order that was signed by the President of India related to the amendment of the Inner Line Permit system under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations (BEFR), 1873. As per a news article published by Laws on 3rd June 2020, the Inner Line Permit is a document or a system that operates in the North-Eastern territory of India, as per this system the outsiders have to take permission to enter the states protecting the natives of the state from losing their jobs, culture, land, etc.

Section 2 of BEFR, 1873 states that the system of ILP demands a permit from the outsiders and even from the people of other states to visit the states that follow the system of ILP. At present, this system is followed in Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur.

A news article published on Economic Times on 11 December 2019 stated that the ILP system was extended to the territory of Manipur with the sign of President Kovind to give effect to the order. This order was challenged by the All Tai Ahom Students Union and Asom jatiyabadi Yuba Chatra Parishada and they contended that the order passed by the President was unconstitutional and they further demanded that the system of ILP shall be continued in Assam so that the state can be protected from the Citizenship Amendment Act. The main contention of the petitioners was that the districts of Assam such as Kamrup, Darrang, etc. were removed and they formed a huge part of the territory of Assam. The petitioners also contended that the order so passed by the President was obsolete as according to Article 372(3) such order can be passed only till 1953.

The 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court in this case refused to grant the ex-parte stay as demanded by the petitioners. The Court has served a notice to the Central government and the matter is now to be heard after two weeks.

What is ‘Inner Line Permit’

The term originates from the eastern frontier of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR), 1873. The Inner Line, an idea drawn up by colonial rulers, divided the tribal-populated hill areas of the Northeast from the plains. This was done to protect the indigenous tribal communities of these states from exploitation. Indian citizens from other areas need an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter and stay in those areas for any period. The Inner Line protects Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, and recently Manipur was added.  

Purpose and Objective

An article published by Outlook India states that ILP is an official travel document that is required by the non-natives of the four North-Eastern states that are Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh when they visit these four states.

Inner Limit Permit is issued by the particular state that has a concern with the matters related to the same. The main aim of this system was to protect the Crown’s interest in certain states by preventing Indians to trade in these particular areas. Another purpose of this permit was to prevent tribal communities residing in the area from exploitation.

The main purpose of this permit is now basically to help natives of these states to preserve their land, job, and culture from the outsiders. Currently, not only outsiders but non-natives are also required to show their permit.

The main objective of ILP takes us back to history. This ILP is an extension of BEFR, 1873 in which, Britishers established rules and regulations. They restricted entry in certain areas. All the non-natives are obligated to show their permit when they visit these states and the permit shows the purpose of their visit. The ILP restricts the refugees to settle in the states under this system.

Legal provisions

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill aims to make it easier for non-Muslim refugees to obtain Indian citizenship from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. If it is introduced with clauses to exempt States under the ILP system from its ambition, it means that CAB beneficiaries will become Indian citizens but will not be able to settle in those three states. The same restriction applies to existing Indian citizens.

Three areas of Assam, however, already come under the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule, which protects tribal parts. The government made it clear that the States will be exempted from CAA under the ILP. According to an article published by IAS Express, in 1985, an agreement was signed between the Centre and the protesters related to the agitations in 1970 which, led to an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants.

If the CAA passes without the restrictions of ILP then the recipients under this Act can settle anywhere in the nation which will be a threat to the North-Eastern states. Inner Limit Permit is demanded by the natives of the states because they have a fear of losing their identity and certain other interests.

Critical analysis

Inner Limit Permit is an official document and as discussed above it carries vital importance for the people living in the North-Eastern territory of India. If the CAA is passed, then the main contention of the natives living in the north-eastern territory of India is that they would be on the verge of losing their jobs, identity, and their culture. The contention of the petitioners stands true in the sense that ILP is a protection system for the natives in these states. One important point to note here that was also bought by the petitioners was that the districts such as Kamrup, Darrang, Lakhimpur, etc. that constitute an important part of Assam were removed from the ambit of BEFR before the CAB was introduced in the Parliament.

According to the author, the order that has been passed by the President regarding the amendment is unconstitutional. It is mentioned in Article 372(3) that the power to make any kind of adaptation or modification expires after three years from the commencement of the Indian constitution thus, making this order invalid as it is outside the powers of the President.

Conclusion

The government is not in favour of introducing the concept of Inner Line Permit in the state of Assam as Schedule Six of the constitution of India already protects the tribal areas in the state. The main purpose of ILP is to protect the land, tradition, and culture from the exploitation. The government contends that the purpose of ILP has already been fulfilled by the constitution of India. Hence, there lies no need to introduce ILP in the state of Assam.

The people of the state, whereas, filed a petition in the court contending that the state shares the longest borders with Bangladesh and has been against the influx of illegal migrants coming from Bangladesh. Therefore, the state is highly subjected to the exploitation by the non-natives and the migrants from Bangladesh. Hence, the ILP must be granted to this state to protect it from any abuse or exploitation.

The Supreme Court of India, on 3rd June 2020, rejected the plea to put a stay on the orders of the President. Thus, the Supreme Court ruled against the petitioners.     

Author: Shivani Agarwal from Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

NHRC on migrant issue

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has filed an application to the Supreme Court that seeks to intervene in Suo Motu cognizance based on six different reports, in the matter of the plight of the migrant workers who have been stranded in various parts of the country amidst the Covid-19 lockdown. The NHRC’s function is to intervene in any proceeding that involves any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a curt. Through its application, the NHRC re-examines the existing laws governing human rights protection of migrants and suggest short as well as long term measures for effective implementation under these rights.

Short-term measures:

  • Collection of data of migrant workers at the point of departure from one state and on the arrival in the destination state, in order to estimate the in-flow of migrant workers.
  • The Union and State Governments must ensure a strict implementation of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, that provide a journey allowance to the workers.
  • Menstrual hygiene products should be provided to migrant women and adolescent girls across the country.
  • Proper functioning of shelter homes with medical facilities and nutritious food especially for pregnant or lactating mothers, children and the elderly.
  • Each state is directed and identified by the industry the migrant labourers work in, it will aid in the creation of schemes for migrant workers as well as create a nationwide database.
  • Medical facilities and check-ups for migrants before and after the journey, as well as availability of food and medical care during the journey. For migrants who are travelling via bicycles or walking, food and water amenities must be available en route.
  • Originating states should take steps to identify the destitute among the travelling migrants and ensure that they are paid a compensation so that they do not have to resort to begging after their journey.
  • A fund must be created for the payment of ex-gratia relief, that will provide compensation to every migrant returning home.

Long term measures:

  • A special provision must be added to the Inter State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 that deals with emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic or other natural disasters.
  • Appointment of a claim commissioner to keep check on the recovery of labourers who abandoned their jobs despite notification for continuity of wages by the Central Government.
  • An allocation of funds must be given to states to create employment opportunities in gram panchayats.
  • A national portal for the registration of migrants to maintain a database.
  • Compensation to the families of those migrants who died travelling migrating to their respective states.
  • A universal ration card must be granted to all migrants.
  • Implementation of the provisions of the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 that extends maximum benefits to migrant labourers.
  • Creation of a nodal agency under the Ministry of Labour that seeks to resolve inter-state migration disputes.

Background of the issue

Migrants labourers are seldom provided with adequate monetary payment for the hardwork they endure. The pandemic induced lockdown has worsened the plight of the migrants. The Indian Express reported that about 20 workers who were walking from Jalna to Bhusawal stopped for a rest and fell asleep on the railway tracks when, a goods train ran over them.

HW News reported that a pregnant woman, who was walking on foot from Maharashtra to Madhya Pradesh, had to deliver her baby on road. The clothes and essentials were provided by a family from Dhule, Maharashtra. She resumed walking merely two hours later.

The Indian Express and the Millennium Post published a picture of a little boy who had fallen asleep on a suitcase being pulled by his mother, a migrant worker, who had started her journey from Punjab to reach home in Jhansi. The apathy of the states can be seen in their negligence to ensure measures for the safety of migrant workers.

Significance of recent developments

The increase in awareness of the plight of the migrant workers has brought about significant improvements. The Youth for Social Development, an NGO, provided women and adolescent migrant workers who were walking on the NH16 with menstrual hygiene products along with food and other relief material.

The State of Odisha has set up a toll-free Shramik (labour force) Sahayata Helpline, Migrant Labour Desk, as well as seasonal hostels for the children of migrant workers. The State has also taken measures to strengthen Anti-Human Trafficking Units.

It is a matter of concern that as many of 40% of Shramik trains are late, with an average delay of 8 hours. The Vande Bharat Mission is dedicated to help migrants reach their source destination.

The Government has announced its initiative to launch affordable rental housing for migrant workers and the urban poor by converting government- funded housing in cities into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC). This would be carried through PPP mode.

Further, in the matter of National Campaign for Central Legislation on Construction Labour v Union of India & Others, 2018, it was reported that the Ministry of Labour and Employment has proposed the issuance of a Universal Access Number for construction workers. The registration process will be simple to ensure that it is well within the understanding capability of the average migrant worker.

Critical analysis

The instance of the death of migrant workers who were run over by a train, has taken as a tragic accident. Whereas, the truth of the matter is that the provisions regarding accommodation, as provided under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation and Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 have been severe ignored, and this has resorted to a helpless situation for the tired migrant who has to resort to the railway tracks for shelter.

This instance also brings into notice that the migrant workers had additional expenses: they travel a long distance in order to get to the place of work and then need to travel back home. The amount of payment they receive from long hours of work is usually minimum wage that they need to support their families with. This wage is not enough for a travel fare and therefore, they resort to walking from one state to another. Most of the workers are not educated enough to realise that they are victims to numerous human rights violations. It is upon the government they have entrusted their trust upon. Any form of negligence from the government authorities is simply unacceptable.

Conclusion

Every human has the right to basic amenities: food, clothing and shelter. Migrant labourers should not be charged for train or bus expenses. Their railway fare should be shared by the states. No labourer should be concerned about food and water, that must be provided to them free of cost. In the times of crisis, it is difficult to hope for a utopian society, however, we must look after those who cannot: in India, thousands of hardworking workers are deprived of their basic amenities. If the country truly aims for an industrial boom, it must also take measures to keep its workers healthy and safe.

Author: Anjali Roy from Alliance University, Bengaluru.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Consumer Confidence Survey by RBI

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The legislators need to support privacy to establish consumer confidence. RBI on June 4, 2020 had released the consumer confidence survey which was conducted through telephonic interviews across May 5 to May 17, covering 13 cities. The consumer confidence in India has collapsed in less than two months during the Covid-19 lockdown. Covid-19 pandemic has caused many countries to shut large segments of their economies. The relationship between the number of COVID-19 cases and consumer confidence provides insight into the optimal prioritization of these two competing aims. A strong negative correlation indicates that reopening the economy before the number of cases falls is less likely to reignite economic activity. On the other hand, a weak negative correlation indicates that consumer confidence and consumer spending could return even without curbing the number of COVID-19 cases. 

 The report is showing that the consumers have started to enter the zone of pessimism. It is talking about how the consumers have become pessimistic on the current economic situation regarding employment, income and their spending. Until now, it was only minority people who felt that there are chances of their income’s shrinking. But the recent survey shows that 50% are seeing their income’s coming down. Households see the general prices and inflation rising over as compared to the previous rounds. As a result, 10% said that they would spend less on essentials and around 46% said that they would cut their spending on non essential items. Consumers have reported sharp cuts in discretionary spending.  There was a sharp increase in the median inflation perception and expectations in May 2020. The real GDP of our country is expected to contract by 1.5% in the year 2020-21. It is also predicted that it will rise by 7.2% in the upcoming year. In the same way, the Real Gross Value Added is expected to contract by 1.7% but will probably expand to 6.8% in the upcoming years.

Salient features of the report

  1. The consumer confidence index and the future expectations index recorded a sharp fall in May 2020.
  2. The perception of the consumer on employment scenario, economic situation is going down to the contraction zone.
  3. Consumers reported sharp cuts in discretionary spending and overall consumer spending remained afloat due to relative inelasticity in essential spending.

What is consumer confidence

Consumer confidence is basically an economic indicator. It measures the optimistic level that the consumers have in the country’s economy and their own expected financial situation. When there is an increase in the consumer spending, it helps the economy sustain its expansion. The consumer confidence declines when they become less certain on their financial prospects. Due to such reasons they spend less of their money, which in turn reduces the overall sales. If the consumer spending declines, then the economy experiences a slowdown and eventually entering the state of recession.

  • The consumer confidence index is basically a survey, which is administered by the conference board.
  • It is based on the perception that when the consumers are optimistic they usually spend more and they will stimulate the economy if they are pessimistic.
  • It is generally a confidence survey of around 5000 households and is released on the last Tuesday of every month.

Factors that affect the consumer confidence

  1. Unemployment- Rising unemployment discourages consumers.
  2. House prices- Rising house price enables households to re mortgage and gain equity withdrawal.
  3. Uncertainty- A political or an economic change can lead to uncertainty which reduces confidence.
  4. Economic growth- Consumer confidence increases when there is a positive economic growth and recession will associate a fall in consumer confidence.
  5. Current economic situation- The news of loss in employment is a key factor that will make the consumer confidence very low. The current Covid-19 crisis has seen a drop in the employment sector, resulting in joblessness of many citizens. This makes the consumer confidence very low.
  6. Personal debts- It will be a major concern if the economy slows down or the interest rate are too high.
  7. Inflation and real wages- Higher the inflation, lower will be the confidence. In the same way, stagnant and falling real wages will make people more pessimistic and which in turn leads to low consumer confidence.
  8. Widespread household deleveraging lowers the consumer confidence.
  9. The dominance of short term thinking leading to absence in long term strategic activity leads to lower the consumer confidence.

Critical analysis

The consumer confidence has been conducted by the RBI on a quarterly basis since June 2010 and then on a bi monthly basis since March 2016. The expectations and the consumers spending in the report are of three forms: positive, neutral and negative; and increased, decreased and remained the same. The two sub-indices are combined by the RBI to calculate the consumer confidence. The current situation index (CSI) and the future expectation index (FEI) are calculated on the net responses. CSI/FEI= 100 + average of net responses. The CSI and the FEI can take values between 0 and 200. If an index value is over 100, then it implies that the consumers are optimistic about the current and future situations. The responses to the three main variables; income, spending and employment are recorded in a percentage form. The spending and income will be the consumer’s own personal spending and personal income.

If confidence falls because of uncertainty, it can have a significant impact on the other economic variables like the firms may react by delaying the investments. Sometimes confidence can be influenced by non-economic factors and prove temporary, e.g. a major sporting success may improve confidence, but this could be very short lived.

Conclusion

The consumers across the world are closely following corona outbreak. In Japan, consumers more closely follow the number of COVID-19-induced deaths, which is likely a function of scepticism regarding testing in Japan. This suggests that policymakers have to slow the cases confirmed and the induced deaths before consumer confidence and consumer spending can improve. Reopening the economy in an environment of depressed consumer confidence is unlikely to generate adequate economic activity to justify the health risks.

Author: K.Yugantara from Sastra University, Thanjavur.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Explained: Concept of Judicial Restraint

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

Harish Salve, while speaking on the issue ‘Insulting the Judiciary from Social Media tribes’ in a webinar commented, “Unelected People Think They Can Impose Will on Government through Courts”. He said that when people do not get a relief they get disappointed and release this agony by blaming the judges and their judgment. People have the right to criticize judiciary but when they say that the judiciary is scared of the politicians and was biased in its judgment it is wrong.

The Indian democracy rests on the honored four pillars namely the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Media. The media works as a watch dog of the government as it helps in sculpting the public opinion. By keeping a healthy check on the government it acts as a backbone of the democracy. It is said, a democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels. Social networking platforms like you tube, twitter, Facebook etc. are the electronic mode of Media, which is being used a mouth piece by the unelected people. If the present trend of media trial and social diatribe goes unchecked there would be no courts to practice in.

Significance of this development

In a democratic state when government is unable to manage what it has been elected for, judiciary being one of the pillars has to lay its foundation deep and strong to prevent the principle of justice, equity and freedom from collapsing. It may be said that Judiciary has become the arbiter of rights which determines quality of living.

The theory of Separation of Powers as propounded by Montesquieu also in earlier times was that each of the body will do its function without interfering in the decision-making and working of the other. But many times due to the over reach of Judiciary the separation of powers is kept aside and undermines the exclusiveness of the other two bodies by entering in their fields.  Hence, it is not wrong to say that judicial activism is a slippery term and to prevent judiciary from slipping Judicial Restraint comes in.

Judicial restraint

Any limitations on the act of judiciary expressed or implied either by Constitution or any statue is judicial restraint. The restraint are in areas relating to

1. Political questions

2. Legislative powers

3. Administrative discretionary power.

Critical analysis

J. Markandey Katju, former SC Judge, gained significant media attention when they commented on the over reach of judiciary. He said that the Judiciary should place reliance on the positivist jurisprudence rather than sociological school. Law should be differentiated from morality and religion. The central force of positivist school is the law of the land. The court potrays a positivist trend when it denied to strike down parliament made acts like MISA, POTA dealing with internal security and terrorism which hampered people’s freedom. In ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla, the court held that fundamental rights remain suspended during Emergency and thus the writ of Habeas Corpus is not maintainable. In State of U.P. v. Jeet Singh Bisht, J. Katju commented that Judiciary must show self-restraint and refrain from entering into the domains of legislature and executive. Judicial Restraint protects the independence of Judiciary.

Judicial activism can become an unguided missile if not aimed correctly. Article 142 provides that  “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it…

Judiciary has in many cases constructively applied the principle of an activist such as the Taj Trapezium case, where proper measures were taken to prevent the deterioration of Makrana white marble of Taj mahal by removal of Mathura refinery, brick kilns and other industries from the vicinity. Similarly, the application of Art. 142 in Union Carbide case. The court awarded a compensation of 470 million to the victims, saying that to do justice it can override laws made by parliament. This statement was toned down in Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India.

In a no. of cases such as State of Tamil Nadu v. K. Balu – banning of liquor shops within the vicinity of 500 meters of National highways- resulting in lack of employment for many, coal block allocation case – coal blocks granted from year 1993 were cancelled in 2014 with a penalty of Rs, 295 per ton of coal mined without granting the right of audi alteram partem, banning of bursting of crackers, Subhash Kashinath Mahajan – amendment of SC/ST Act, K. Puttaswamy v. UOI – including Right to privacy under Article 21, prescribing regulations for BCCI etc Supreme Court has misused its power under Art. 142. We see that such activism has failed to accord co-respect to other branches of government and led judiciary to take arbitrary decisions.

Supreme Court asks court to curb judicial activism as it disturbs the balance between the organs. Since the constitution did not provide that for the failure of other organs the judiciary will bear the crown and act for them all it is important that the organ which is failing to carry out its duties should be managed. Judicial Restraint has been introduced to prevent the formation of government of judges. However judicial restraint does not mean abdication of duty. Powers have been granted to the Judicial mechanism to ensure that legislature and executive act within the bounds of the power specified in the constitution. It is to prevent the tyranny of one over others.

Landmark judgments

  1. Kihota Holohan v. Zachillu and Others – The Supreme Court was asked to examine the constitutional validity of 52nd amendment Act, 1985. The court did not express any views on the validity of provisions curbing the freedom of members of legislature. The court did not find the objections strong enough to make amendment invalid.
  2. State of Rajasthan v. Union of India – The court rejected the petition on the ground that it involved a political question.
  3. S.R.Bommai v. Union of India – The exercise of power under Art. 356 which included a political element was in question. Being involved would mean entering into the political dominion and the court must avoid it.
  4. Almitra H. Patel v. Union of India – the court on the issue whether directions should be issued to the municipal corporations on how to make Delhi clean said that it could only direct the municipal authorities to carry out the functions prescribed under law.

Conclusion

“I am a great supporter of social media and freedom. I know it is empowering. But (there) is a dangerous trend. Judges must be left completely independent to give judgment as what they think is the correct mode in accordance of the rule of law.”- Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law and Justice Minister)

Article 142 is a progressive measure in the legal frame-work. Its exercise is however in contradiction to the statutory law cannot be justified in the name of judicial intervention. There is a need for proper checks and balances. I do agree that judicial activism and judicial restraint are two sides of a same coin. It is hence an important requisite that while discharging its judicial obligations judiciary has to equally remember to exercise proper and cautioned restraint.

On one side where judiciary is being stopped from interfering into the domain of legislature and executive it is also important to note that media should also be stopped from exercising the function of Judiciary. A popular trend, where media assumes the role of the judge is media trial undermines the real trial. Just like the judiciary, media should also maintain restraints and not cross its limit.

Author: Aarcha Gupta from Symbiosis International (Deemed University).

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Explained: Public Authority under RTI Act

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

On March 28 2020, Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was introduced in order to deal with the unsought for and accidental situation posed by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is its ex-officio chairman, while Union home minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are its trustees.

The Fund has reportedly received a whooping sum of Rs 6,500 crore in the first week of its introduction to the people. The total donation received Rs 10,000 crore since its inception. On April 1, an RTI filed was filed seeking details of the fund, and to its reply, the PMO stated that the Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of Section 2 (h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, and therefore it is not bound to divulge the information sought in the application.

What is Public Authority under RTI Act?

Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005 defines the term public authority. According to the Section, the term public authority includes within its ambit any authority, body or institution of self-government established or constituted by or under:

a) The constitution;

b) Any other law made by parliament;

c) Any other law made by the state legislature and

d) Notification issued or order made by the appropriate government.

The term also includes “body owned, controlled or substantially financed; non-governmental organization substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government”.

Legal provisions involved

The rejection of the applications appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead the applicant breaching the Right to Information (RTI) Act. It amounts to deemed refusal and real rejection without valid grounds. The PM Cares Fund was created by the Prime Minister and PMO, the name itself suggests such a point.

It appears that strategic avoidance of transparency has been made by the PMO by refusing the disclosure of ordinary documents which are not included under the exceptions mentioned under Sections 8 or 9 of the RTI Act and wrongly invoking Section 2(h) of the Act. According to Section 8, the government departments have the authority not to disclose any information. This information includes the one which:

  • Would endanger national integrity, security or economic interests;
  • Would amount to contempt of court;
  • Would hamper investigations carried on by police;
  • Would affect commercial interests;
  • Would threaten ‘fiduciary’ relationships;
  • Would harm the person physically
  • This Section also protects information pertaining to deliberations of the Council of Ministers and Secretaries while the process is underway.

Section 9 of the Act also provides the exceptional situations according to which without affecting the provisions of section 8, a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, is not obliged to provide any information where the request for such information involves providing access which would involve an infringement of copyright subsisting in a person other than the State.

Critical analysis

The rejection and the functioning of the PMCARES fund raises several questions regarding the transparency of the fund. These questions are as follows:

  • Control of the PMO: the PM’s page states that PM is the ex-officio chairman, and he shall have the authority to nominate three trustees to the board of trustees who shall be experts in the field of research, science, health, social work, law, and public administration. The appointment of its trustees from among the party members puts the fund out to question;
  • Statutory exemptions: the PM’s page announces exemptions from any tax liability without expressly mentioning any statutory authority or provision under which such exemption is granted. The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is already functional and a creation of similar additional fund remains unexplained.
  • Compulsory donation: the PM’s official page states that the donation is completely voluntary and there is no obligation attached to it. However, the request of the revenue department of the finance ministry to its employees to compulsorily donate a single day’s salary till March 2021 doesn’t go well with the nature of the fund.
  • The control of PMO and transparency: the questions relating to the accountability of the fund arise out of the following reasons:
  • It hold PM’s name;
  • The operation of the fund is within the PMO;
  • The concessions like tax exemptions amount to ‘substantial funding’.

Further the fact that the fund is headed by the Prime Minister comprises of three cabinet ministers and the appointment of the other three members by them makes the fund, a public authority under the RTI Act, 2005.

Since the fund is under the total control of the PMO, it becomes a public authority. If it were deemed to be a public charity trust, then it is governed by the Trusts Act which would have demanded it to be transparent. If it is considered to be a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, it must be transparent.

Landmark judgments

In Thalappalam Ser. Coop. Bank Ltd. v. State of Kerala, it was held that where a body is not merely regulated or supervised by the appropriate government but is rather “substantially controlled” by it. The body becomes public authority under the RTI Act, 2005.

In Prime Ministers National Relief fund v. Aseem Takyar, it was held that the satisfaction of Section 2(h)(d)(i) by the fund will bring it within the definition of “public authority” within the meaning of public authority.  

Conclusion

The primary objective of creating the und was to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the passage of time there has been several questions which have arose owing to the lack of transparency. These questions need to be answered as soon as possible in order to remove the ambiguity in the minds of people.

Author: Shivangi Tiwari from HNLU, Raipur.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

PM Cares Fund and RTI

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

RTI or the Right to Information was introduced through the Right to Information Act, 2005 with the objective of making the government and its agencies accountable to the public by the release of certain information which may be beneficial to the citizens in order to make an analysis of the proper functioning of the state.

The battle against the pandemic of COVID-19 and similar situations which the nation might face, a financial assistance fund in the form of a public charitable trust was set up under the name of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES). It accepted donations from the public, and to encourage a larger participation it incentivized the process by making contributions to the fund a part of Corporate Social Responsibility and also provided certain tax exemptions.

The prior existence of Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) generated a question in the mind of law student about why a separate alternative fund was needed and for this he filed an RTI for the trust deed of the PM-CARES trust along with all the government orders, notification, and circulars relating to creation and operation of the trust fund. The Prime Minister’s Office replied to the RTI by stating that as the trust was not a public authority and hence not under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005 (hereinafter ‘the Act’).

The Plea for PM-CARES under the ambit of the Act

Following the reply, a Public Interest Litigation is filed before the Delhi High Court in order to ascertain a direction to the trustees of the trust for the display of the accounts of the contributions. The petitioner asserts that if any institution or agency that is “owned”, “controlled” or “substantially financed” by the Government qualifies a public authority under the Act. The trust is contended to be both substantially controlled and financed by the government.

It is further submitted that, as the Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of the trust while the Defense, Finance and Home Affairs ministers are the ex-officio trustees and that they may form rules/criterions for spending of the trust funds. The feature establishes the control of the trust by the government. To support the claim regarding financing, it states that large sum of money amounting to the corpus of ₹10000 crores have been made from Public Sector Undertakings, Central Ministries and Departments. Also there have been mandatory deductions from the salaries of civil servants, members of judicial entities and armed forces personnel for the fund. Therefore, citing the judgement of the hon’ble Supreme Court in PUCL v. Union of India (2004) 2 SCC 476, it is stated that PM-CARES is a public authority.

If PM-CARES if not a public authority, the petition states, then the Right to Information originates from Article 19(1)(a) giving citizens a fundamental right of speech and expression and therefore the people have a right to know about the details of the accounts. It further stated on the same ratio that if it is not to be a public authority then whether the government can make it a mandate to contribute funds to the employees in the agencies and public servants.

It also stated that even the victims of COVID-19 have a right to know about the funds which are being collected by the government for their financial assistance as they are in the desperate need for the same and are currently not in position to enforce their fundamental rights. The objective of the trust is a public cause and the trustees are working at a pro bono capacity, therefore it shall be directed that the details of the accounts relating to the collection of funds and its expenditure shall be made public.

Provisions of the RTI Act and Analysis

The provision which was cited in the PMO response to the RTI was of ‘public authority’. It stated that the trust is not a public authority as defined under the act and hence was not liable to provide any information as requested under the act. Section 2(h) defines the term ‘public authority’ for the purpose of the legislation.

Public authority is any authority, body or institution of self-government established or constituted under –

  • by or under the Constitution
  • by any law made by the Parliament
  • by any other law made by State Legislature;
  • by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government,

The second part of the definition is for encompassing bodies in which the government has a substantial stake either in the form of control over management or

  • body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
  • non-Government organization substantially financed,

directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government.

It is the second part of the definition that is relevant in the instant case. Whether the control and financial participation of the government in the trust could be established to bring it under the ambit of the act is to be decided by the court under the petition filed.

As there is no definition of the ‘control’ in the act, the Supreme Court while interpreting the same in Thalappalam Service Coop. Bank Ltd. v. State of Kerala held that mere ‘supervision’ or ‘regulation’  by a statute or a body would not deduce it to be a ‘public authority’ as the control of the government shall be substantial.

Conclusion

The PM-CARES fund was specifically created under the trust for financial assistance in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. A registered trust is a distinct legal entity having a separate legal character. As the trustees are elected representatives and have utilized their office for creating the trust and attracting donations in it, it is only viable that the accounts of the trust regarding the source of collection of donations and the subsequent expenditures which are made using such contributions are disclosed to the public in order to reinforce the principles of accountability to the public in the government and to have a transparent, bona fide operation of such trust.

Author: Ketan Swaraj Nair from UPES, Dehradun.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Quashing of FIR: Legal angle

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

Introduction

A First Information Report (hereinafter referred to as ‘FIR’) was registered against a Haryana Congress leader, Pankaj Punia, for allegedly ‘hurting religious sentiments’ through a Social Media Post on Twitter. The FIR was registered at Madhuban Police Station in Karnal, Haryana, and several similar complaints were also filed in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The complaint was filed u/s 153, 295-A, 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as ‘IPC’) along with section 67 of the IT, for Puniya’s tweet on May 19, 2020. The post targeted the UP’s Aditya Yoginath government and also referred to the Sangh parivaar. The writ petition of the congress leader to get the FIR quashed was dismissed by the Supreme Court by a three-judge bench. The Hon’ble court observed that Punia’s plea for quashing of the FIR against him cannot be entertained under Art. 32 of the Constitution of India. However, the petitioner was granted liberty to approach the appropriate forum or the High Court.

Legal provisions regarding FIR

Although the term ‘FIR’ is not explicitly used in the Criminal Procedure Code (hereinafter referred to as ‘CrPc’), however, any information provided u/s 154(1) is commonly known as FIR. Basically, it is the earliest information of a cognizable offence recorded by an officer-in-charge of a police station. The underlying vision for this provision of documentation of this information is to set the criminal law in motion. The information must be bona fide.

The following are eligible to file an FIR:

  1. An aggrieved person or someone on his/her behalf.
  2. Any person aware of an offence through an eye-witness or hearsay.
  3. The accused himself/herself
  4. An SHO on knowledge or information through detailed statement from an aggrieved or injured person.

An FIR should be filed in the police station in the jurisdiction where the offence took place. Witnesses if any could also be informed about.

When can a FIR be quashed?

In simple terms, the quashing of an FIR means ceasing or abating the criminal proceedings which have been set in motion. Usually, it is possible to quash an FIR before the charge-sheet is filed, after that this practice generally discouraged by the Courts. But as per the wide scope provided in Sec. 482 of CrPc, a FIR can be quashed at any stage of the criminal proceedings.

Legal provisions regarding it

Section 482 of CrPC, which talks about the power of courts to quash criminal proceedings, reads as follows:

 “Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice”.

This section empowers the High Court with vide discretionary powers and its use has been debated since long. It should be made sure that these wide powers are exercised with great care and caution. This power is generally used in cases such as dowry etc. but as this tool can also be used to pressurize or extort someone, due care should be exercised in these matters. The purpose of this section is to prevent injustices and secure the ends of justice. The court can use this power to quash the FIR at any stage.  

Landmark judgements

In the case of Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of Uttar Pradesh [(2004) 2 SCC 1], it was laid down that FIR is an important and irreplaceable document to set the criminal law in motion with an aim to book the guilty and get justice, from the view point of an informant, this cannot be denied to the informant and the police officer is bound to register an FIR when approached. If the police officer denies, a complaint can be made to a superior officer and even the court and an action will lie against him/her.

As regards to the use of Section 482, the High Court has a wide ambit which should be exercised only for meeting the ends of justice and for preventing an abuse of power by any court. This was laid down in the case of Prashant Bharti v. State of NCT of Delhi [(2013) 9 SCC 293].

Furthermore, in 2017, the Hon’be Apex Court elucidated some important points to be considered while exercising the power u/s 482 for quashing a FIR. This was done in the landmark judgment in Parbatbhai Aahir & Ors. Vs. State of Gujarat & Anr. (Criminal Appeal No. 1723 of 2017). A full bench of the Apex Court laid down certain principles regarding this, in an appeal against a decision of the Gujarat High Court. Firstly, it was observed that section 482 does not confer new powers, it only recognizes the powers already inherent. An important observation which was made was that an FIR can be quashed even in the case of a non-compoundable offence. It was laid down that while dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the High Court must give due regard to the gravity of the offence and degree of harm caused.

Moreover, it has been observed that heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed.  

Conclusion

It is very true that there are instances where the power of filing the FIR is misused by the informants and can create trouble for innocent people. Which is why, the right of getting an FIR quashed is necessary and comes under the scope of the wide discretionary powers which are inherent in High Courts. However, to make sure that these wide powers are applied aptly, certain precedents and laid down principles as discussed above must be followed and applied with great care and caution. However, not allowing the power to quash the FIR in cases such as murder and rape is also necessary as these offences have a considerable and serious effect upon the society at large and due investigation becomes necessary.

Author: Aakash Batra from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.