SC order on cattle sale for slaughter

The controversial rules relating to livestock markets issued by the Central Government have been stayed by the Supreme Court, after hearing a case which challenged them as being unconstitutional. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017, issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in May this year, had banned the sale of cattle for the purposes of slaughter at cattle markets all over India. This included the sale of bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes and camels, amongst others. It also required farmers or traders to furnish written declarations that cattle had not been brought to the market for slaughter.
Animal welfare activists subsequently approached the Supreme Court for a clarification that no stay existed against the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Care Property Animals) Rules, 2017, dealing with custody of animals during the pendency of legal proceedings, which has been issued alongside the livestock rules. The Court agreed to hear their petition later[All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee v. Union of India, W.P.(C) No. 422 of 2017, order dated 11.07.2017].

Major Court Decisions

i. Constitution bench to hear Aadhaar case: The Chief Justice of India has set up a constitution bench of the Supreme Court to hear the Aadhaar case. The bench of 5 judges will consider the issue raised by previous Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi as to whether there existed a fundamental right to privacy in India. This had been referred to a constitution bench in August 2015 but had not been heard after that. It is expected that the bench will examine the previous decisions of the court and determine whether the matter requires to be listed before a larger bench. [Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India, Writ Petition(C) No. 494 of 2012, order dated 12.07.2017]

ii. Central Govt. to examine legality of virtual currency: The Supreme Court directed the Union of India and the RBI to examine legal and security issues around crypto-currencies like BitCoin, which are virtually traded. The Court was considering a petition, which argued that there was no clear regulation in the area and the virtual currencies were being used for money laundering, terror funding and trade in drugs. The Government has got four weeks to respond. [Vijay Pal Dalmia v. Union of India, W.P. (C) 406 of 2017, order dated 15.07.2017]

iii. Coal scam cases procedure expedited: The Supreme Court dismissed a batch of petitions filed by persons accused in the Coal Block Allocation Scam cases and reiterated that all cases, which seek a stay on the trial of the cases or impede the investigation into the scam, would be filed directly in the Supreme Court and not in any High Court. The Apex Court had previously passed similar orders with respect to the 2G Spectrum Scam, in order to ensure a speedy investigation and trial process[Girish Kumar Suneja v. CBI, Criminal Appeal 1137 of 2017, order dated 13.07.2017].

iv. SIT to be set up to probe Manipur fake encounters: In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court directed the CBI to establish a Special Investigating Team to examine killings in fake encounters by the police or armed forces in Manipur. The Court directed the registration of FIRs in over 60 cases where it found preliminary evidence of a fake encounter or the use of excessive or retaliatory force. While passing its directions, the Court also noted that the NHRC had been reduced to a “toothless tiger” as it was severely understaffed. [Extra Judl. Exec. Victim Families Association v. Union of India, W.P(Crl.) 129 of 2012, order dated 14.07.2017].

v. Ex-BCCI president Anurag Thakur apologises: The Supreme Court accepted an unconditional apology tendered by the former BCCI president Anurag Thakur. In January this year, the Court had removed Thakur and other BCCI functionaries for obstructing the implementation of its orders. It had also issued notice to Thakur for perjury and contempt of court, including for making deliberately false statements to the court and trying to defeat its orders. With the apology being accepted, these proceedings are now closed [In re: Anurag Thakur, Former President of BCCI, Suo Moto Contempt Petition (Crl.) 1 of 2017, order dated 14.07.2017]

vi. Regulation of NGOs receiving Govt funds to be considered: The Central Government was given four weeks to decide how it would regulate NGOs, which receive government funding, to ensure that there is no misuse or misappropriation of funds and that the organisations file their annual statements. The Court had in April noted that guidelines proposed by the government were not sufficient and directed it to consider bringing in a new legislation for regulating NGOs [Manohar Lal Sharma v. State of Maharashtra, W.P.(Crl.) 172 of 2011, order dated 12.07.2017]

vii. Govt. and MCI seek an end to Court oversight: The Union Government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) have asked the Supreme Court to end its oversight of the MCI. In May 2016, the Court had noticed major deficiencies in the functioning of the MCI, which is a statutory body. It directed the formation of an Oversight Committee headed by a retired SC judge to oversee all the activities of the MCI and required that all policy decisions be approved by it. The matter has now been sent to a constitution bench to determine whether the oversight should continue [Amma Chandravati Educational and Charitable Trust v. Union of India, W.P.(C) 480 of 2017, order dated 12.07.2017]

viii. Delay in NRI voting rights criticised: The Supreme Court pulled up the Central Government for delaying the implementation of voting rights of NRIs through an e-vote. Once e-voting is allowed, NRIs would not have to fly home to vote. The Government had previously accepted the recommendations of the Election Commission in this regard but is yet to implement it. [Nagender Chindam v. Union of India, W.P.(C) 80 of 2013, order dated 14.07.2017](IPA/To be continued)

Saturday, 22 July, 2017