In this round-up of court judgments, we take a look at the remarks and guidelines of constitutional courts regarding the liability of WhatsApp group directors, people fraudulently receiving pensions for political prisoners, the treatment of women athletes with disabilities, and discrimination. between single and married girls in humanitarian appointments.
Madras HC: endorses the judgment of Bombay HC; The WhatsApp group administrator is not vicariously responsible for objectionable posts by members.
In the case of R. Rajendran v Police Inspector and Kathirvel, the Madras High Court granted redress to an administrator of a WhatsApp group in a registered FIR for offensive messages posted to the group by a member.
The petitioner had formed a WhatsApp group called “Karur Lawyers”. He was the group administrator. In said WhatsApp group, some very offensive messages were posted by one of the members (named Pachaiyappan). Another member of the group, who is also a practicing lawyer, has filed an FIR has been registered against the applicant for offenses under Articles 153A.
Counsel for the Second Respondent argued that after the objections were raised, the Applicant (R. Rajendran) removed Pachaiyappan from the WhatsApp group. However, he re-inducted him a few days later. This indicated that there was collusion between the applicant and said Pachaiyappan.
After considering all the submissions, the Madras High Court referred to the judgment of the Bombay High Court in Kishore vs. State Maharashtra (2021), where it ruled that there is no vicarious liability on a WhatsApp group administrator for objectionable content posted by a group member unless it can be demonstrated that there was a common intention or pre-established plan between this member of a WhatsApp group and the administrator.
The additional attorney general argued that only the forensic report will reveal whether the post was posted by Pachaiyappan (the person who posted the allegedly offensive content in the group) or whether it was posted on his behalf by the petitioner / the administrator of the WhatsApp group.
In conclusion, the High Court held that, given that the forensic report regarding the role of the petitioner (administrator of the WhatsApp group) was awaited, it was premature to consider the petition. At the same time, the High Court observed that the police should bear in mind the principles set out in the aforementioned Bombay High Court judgment.
The court ruled that if the petitioner had played the role of group administrator on his own and nothing else, then when filing a final report, the petitioner’s name should be deleted.
Allahabad HC: Orders the state government to determine the number of people fraudulently receiving a pension for political prisoners in the emergency era of 1975.
In the case of Ashok Kumar Shamsa et al v UP State et al., The Allahabad High Court asked the State of Uttar Pradesh to clarify how many people are fraudulently receiving pensions by showing themselves to be detained as as political prisoners during the emergency period from June 25, 1975 to March 21, 1977.
Persons detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and Defense Act of India (DIR) during the period of national emergency are entitled to a monthly pension from their governments of Respective state.
The High Court heard a public interest plea (PIL) filed by Loktantra President Rakshak Senani Sangathan of Pilibhit, Ashok Kumar Shamsa, who claimed that many people were fraudulently receiving monthly pensions for political prisoners from the period of national emergency.
In 2018, when ruling on this case for the first time, the Allahabad High Court requested a report from the district administration, and subsequently, in the investigation carried out by the administration, five people were found fraudulently collecting this pension.
However, in the current PIL, the petitioner claimed that around 1,500 people received the pension fraudulently. As the PIL points out, there are approximately 6,000 such Loktantra Senani in Uttar Pradesh and over Rs 35.35 crore is spent each month on their pension. Apart from this, they also enjoy free transportation service on highway buses and free medical facilities at district hospitals.
According to the petitioner, in the district of Pilibhit alone, many people receive pensions from Loktantra combatants even though they were not imprisoned as political prisoners at the time of the national emergence; instead, they were sent to jail on allegations of chain abduction, attempted murder and other crimes. It has also been argued that the petitioners are not satisfied with the administration’s investigation of fraudulent names.
The petitioner also claimed that over the past three years the district administration has actually doubled the number of people claiming pensions.
The bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Judge Piyush Agarwal ordered the state of Uttar Pradesh to file an affidavit indicating how many people are receiving a monthly pension and determining whether they were political prisoners or were in prison because of some other offenses committed by them.
Madras HC: Sets Guidelines for Fair Treatment of Women Athletes with Disabilities, Highlights “Intersectional Discrimination”, Condemns “Romantic Paternalism”
In the case Mr Sameeha Barvin against the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Foreign Affairs, the Madras High Court issued comprehensive instructions to streamline the policy on women athletes and their fair treatment.
The High Court heard an appeal filed by Sameeha Barvin, who is state and national champion with gold and silver medals in the long jump and high jump. She was denied the opportunity to participate in the fourth World Deaf Athletics Championship, 2021, held in Lublin, Poland and was able to participate under the provisional order (dated August 13, 2021 ) of the High Court.
When the petitioner participated in the national selection test held on July 22, 2021 in New Delhi, she excelled by jumping 5.5 meters in the long jump, exceeding the eligible parameter of 4.25 meters which is the requirement to be selected. .
Despite such a performance, she was not selected to participate in the World Deaf Athletics Championship. When asked the reason for her non-selection, it was revealed that the screening authorities were not inclined to send a single woman to the event and, therefore, they preferred men for the event. . Therefore, the petitioner has submitted this petition and on August 13, 2021 the Indian Council for Deaf Sports was ordered to declare her selected and allow her to participate in the 4e Deaf World Athletics Championship organized in Poland in the women’s category. The applicant’s lawyer also drew attention to the ill-treatment inflicted by officials of the All India Sports Council for the Deaf (AISCD) as well as by the Tamil Nadu Sports Council of the Deaf (TNSCD).
Judge R. Mahadevan observed that female athletes with disabilities often face double discrimination based on gender and disability. The judgment emphasizes that when the axis of discrimination is not singular, but plural, multiple, cumulative or intersectional, it must be viewed with an analytical lens in order to understand the problems and obstacles encountered by these people.
The High Court ruled that the case was a clear case of “discrimination based on sex and disability” and that state and central governments failed in their responsibility to ensure the support and safety of female athletes with disabilities.
In this context, Justice R. Mahadevan discussed the concept of intersectionality and its application in the Indian context. The bench noted that Kimberle Shaw’s proposal for intersectional discrimination is applicable in the Indian context since factors like gender and caste are intrinsically linked and the axis of discrimination almost always intersects.
The bench also noted that discrimination against women is often framed in “protectionism” citing traditional stereotypical roles and an alleged concern for their safety and security. The bench also pointed out that the principle of “reasonable accommodation” was stipulated in section 2 (y) of the Disability Rights Act 2016 (RPwD Act).
The court gave the following instructions:
- Relevant authorities, including Ministry of Youth and Sports, Sports Authority of India, All India Sports Council of The Deaf, Department of Disability Welfare of Tamil Nadu, to enable sportswomen disabled to participate with “dignity and respect” at all levels of competition.
- Prohibition of discrimination against women athletes with disabilities on the grounds of gender, sex, religion, disability, marital status, social origin, etc.
- Adequate financial assistance must be provided to these athletes and to one of their accompanying family members. The court ordered that an appropriate merit-based selection process, free medical facilities and training facilities should be provided for deserving athletes.
- Respondent authorities are also responsible for providing clothing, prostheses and other materials suitable for disabled people while ensuring that the principle of “reasonable accommodation” is applied.
- Raise awareness of equality among male counterparts, adequately reward female athletes with disabilities and give them equal treatment with men.
Supreme Court: No discrimination between single and married girls in compassionate appointments.
In the case of Karnataka & Ors State. v CN Apporva Shree & Anr., the Supreme Court upheld the Karnataka High Court’s assertion that a married girl is also entitled to an appointment on compassionate grounds and that there can be no discrimination between single girl and a married girl.
The Supreme Court was considering a request for special permission made by the state of Karnataka against a ruling by the Karnataka high court regarding the appointment of a married girl for a job on compassionate grounds.
Justices SK Kaul and MM Sundresh affirmed their approval of the reasoning of the High Court, pointing out that the rule / provision relied on by the petitioner to deny a married girl a job on compassionate grounds while allowing it to a married son was overturned in the Bhuvaneshwari V. Puranik v Karnataka State (2020) case. The court reiterated the observations made in the above case where the High Court ruled that excluding a married girl from consideration for an appointment on compassionate grounds is unconstitutional.
Judge M. Nagaprasanna expressed the significant opinion of the following:
In conclusion, the Supreme Court rejected the Karnataka State’s challenge to the Karnataka High Court’s assertion in this case.
The selected image: Important judgments of the court