i. Civil Court cannot interfere in matters in which powers have been granted to the NCLT –The Supreme Court reaffirmed the jurisdiction of the NCLT in the matters for which powers have been granted to it. The case raised the question as to a dispute of title to shares should be decided by a civil court or the erstwhile Company Law Board. It was argued that the Companies Act, 2013 provides specifically for the issue of rectification of title of shares. The Court held that such a provision has in effect completely barred the jurisdiction of the civil court and an only be decided by the NCLT. While the case arose before the enactment of the 2013 Act, it would still be a better remedy according to the decision. [Shashi Prakash Khemka v NEPC Micon, Civil Appeal Nos. 1965-1966 of 2014, date of judgment: 08.01.2019]

ii. Ayodhya matter to be now heard on January 29 – The Supreme Court has now postponed the Ayodhya hearing to the end of the month, January 29, amidst the recusal of Justice U.U. Lalit. The bench had recently been constituted by the Court pointed out by Sr. Advocate Rajeev Dhawan that the justice had appeared for former UP CM Kalyan Singh in a contempt case relating to Babri Masjid. When the fact was brought to their notice, the judges discussed the issue immediately and Justice Lalit informed the bench that he felt it would not be appropriate for him to hear the matter. [M. Siddiq v Mahant Suresh Das, Civil Appeal No. 10866/10867 of 2010, date of order: 10.01.2019]

iii. Monsanto’s claim on Bt Cotton might be restored- The Supreme Court set aside a division bench order of the Delhi High Court, which had held that patents of the US based seed giant, Monsanto over its genetically modified Bt cotton seeds, would not be applicable in India. An interim injunction granted earlier preventing Nuziveedu Seeds from selling the seeds has also been revived by the Court, by the single judge hearing the case. The court further criticised the manner in which the division bench had heard the issue, failing to comply with the provisions of the Patents Act and the Code of Civil Procedure. [Monsanto Technology LLC v Nuziveedu Seeds, Civil Appeals Nos. 4616 – 4617 of 2018, date of judgment: 08.01.2019]

iv. Stay against NGT order allowing reopening of Sterlite Plant denied – The Supreme Court denied the grant of stay the National Green Tribunal’s order setting aside the Tamil Nadu Government’s order ordering the shutting of the Sterlite copper plant. The NGT had though only allowed access to the administrative portion of the plant and the District Magistrate would have to ensure that the operational side of the plant would not be accessed. The plant’s waste management practices or according to the State PCB, lack thereof, had hurt the local environment and degraded the quality of surrounding groundwater. [State of Tamil Nadu v Vedanta Limited, Civil Appeal No(s). 23/2019, date of order: 08.01.2018]

v. FIR against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana will not be quashed – The Delhi High Court has refused to quash the FIR against CBI special Director, Rakesh Asthana and Devender Kumar, CBI Deputy Special Director in a corruption case. The case alleges that the duo had taken a 3 Cr. bribe to botch an investigation against the meat exporter Moin Qureshi. Asthana had argued that the FIR had not been placed before the magistrate within the mandated 24 hrs but after 52 hrs of registration and the new amendment to the Act requires prior sanction before investigation of offences as well and the same was not taken. The Court said that sanction was not required in the instant case. Further there were no specific allegations against Asthana and so he couldn’t be prosecuted. The CBI has been directed to complete the investigation within ten weeks. The interim protection given to Asthana and Kumar from arrest was also vacated. [Devender Kumar v CBI, Writ Petition (Criminal) 3247 of 2018, date of order: 11.01.2019]

vi. Missionary activities not prohibited under Article 25 – The Delhi High Court had reiterated that Missionary activities are not prohibited under Article 25 of the Constitution and that the right is not limited to citizens but all persons residing in India. The Court looking into the cancellation of a Doctor’ OCI card on the grounds that he had not revealed the real purpose of his visit. According to the state the doctor was carrying out missionary activities which, apparently, were causing law and order problems. The Court found that no evidence had been provided by the authorities to show that his conversion activities had led to any law and order problems. Further, the Court reminded that India was a secular country and all persons residing in it had the right to practice their faith, even if it was while rendering medical services. [Dr. Christo Thomas Philip v Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) Bo. 1775 of 2018, date of judgment: 08.01.2019]

vii. Vijay Mallya declared economic offender- After being ordered to be extradited from the United Kingdom, the Enforcement Directorate’s plea to declare Vijay Mallya a Fugitive Economic Offender under the FEO Act has been partly granted by a special PMLA Court in Mumbai. The liquor baron owes more than ₹9000 Cr to different banks. The court is yet to announce whether his property can be confiscated or not. The judges had asked the court to stay its order for four weeks so that they could obtain the full copy of the order and move the high court. But the judge declined the request citing that there was no provision in the FEO to allow a court to stay its own order.

Other developments:
i. Justice Bedi files report in Gujarat encounters – Justice H.S. Bedi (retd) of the Supreme Court has filed his report regarding the 17 encounters between 2002 and 2007 in Gujarat. According to the report, evidence of foul play exists in 3 of the 17 cases and has recommended prosecution against nine officers involved in the encounters of Kasam Jafar, Haji Haji Ismail and Sameer Khan. The report had been filed earlier in February, but by a recent order, it has been made public.
IPA Service)