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1. [Foreign Law Firms] The Delhi High Court is to entertain a petition challenging the Bar Council of India's (BCI) move to permit foreign law firms to operate in India on February 6. The plea filed by a group of practicing lawyers disputes the BCI's authority under the Advocates Act, 1961. They argue that the BCI lacks the power to authorize foreign lawyers' registration and practice in non-litigious matters. The case, listed before a division bench on February 2, was deferred to February 6 as BCI's counsel was absent. Advocates Narendra Sharma, Arvind Kumar Bajpai, Siddharth Srivastav, Ekta Mehta, Arvind Kumar, Sanjeev Sareen, Harish Kumar Sharma, and Deepak Sharma, who filed the petition, assert that the BCI's decision violates the Advocates Act and a Supreme Court ruling in Bar Council of India v. AK Balaji & Ors.
Bench: Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora
Case Title: Narendra Sharma and Ors. v. Bar Council of India and Ors.
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2. [600-Year-Old Mosque] The Delhi High Court, in a plea by the Managing Committee of the Delhi Waqf Board, has directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to maintain the status quo on the land, where the historic 600-year-old Akhoondji/Akhunji mosque stood, until the next hearing on February 12, 2024. The bench clarified that the status quo applies solely to this specific property and doesn't prevent the DDA from taking action against other illegal properties. The petitioner's counsel, Advocate Sham Khwaja, argued that the mosque's demolition lacked notice, emphasizing its historical presence for nearly 600–700 years. He alleged the destruction of the madrasa and graveyard and damage to Quran copies during the process. DDA Standing Counsel Sanjay Katyal denied the claims, assuring the safekeeping of religious books in officials' custody. The DDA contended that the mosque demolition followed the Religious Committee's recommendations, citing it as an encroachment on forest land.
Bench: Justice Sachin Datta
Case Title: Managing Committee of Delhi Waqf Board v. The Government of NCT (GNCT) Delhi & Ors.
3. [Former PFI Chairman Abubacker E.] The Delhi High Court has recently directed the Tihar Jail authorities to produce former Popular Front of India (PFI) Chairman, E. Abubacker, through video conferencing, who is currently lodged in the prison. The division bench was hearing an interim bail plea filed by Abubacker on medical grounds. The bench also directed the jail authorities to produce a medical report on Abubacker and how many times he has been hospitalised. "The Jail Authority concerned is also directed to send the current medical report of the appellant, specifying therein as to how many times he remained admitted in hospital, including Jail Hospital, and the duration thereof," the court ordered. "The Jail Authority concerned is further directed to produce the appellant in court through video conferencing on the next date of hearing, subject to his being medically fit. List on 21st February, 2024," the court said in its order dated February 1.
Bench: Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Manoj Jain
Case Title: Abubacker E. v. National Investigation Agency
4. [Adultery] The Delhi High Court has emphasized that an adulterous spouse should not automatically be considered an incompetent parent, stating that an extramarital affair cannot be the sole determining factor in denying child custody. The bench asserted that points considered in divorce proceedings and custody matters are distinct and not interchangeable. The court underscored that even if adultery by a parent is proven, it cannot automatically disqualify them from child custody unless there is additional evidence demonstrating that the adulterous act has adversely affected the children's welfare. The court emphasized that an "adulterous spouse" does not equate to an "incompetent parent," and an extramarital affair should not be the sole basis for denying custody unless it is proven to be harmful to the child.
Bench: Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna
Case Title: Vineet Gupta v. Mukta Aggarwal
5. [Defamation Case] The Delhi High Court has declined to quash a criminal defamation case against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for retweeting a video titled 'BJP IT Cell Part 2', created by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee, in May 2018. The court upheld a trial court's order summoning Kejriwal, stating that retweeting defamatory content does amount to defamation. The court said, "At times, it is difficult to erase the reputational injury from public memory, as the tweets may be deleted, but perceptions are difficult to be deleted from the minds of the community." The case was initiated by Vikas Sankrityan, also known as Vikas Pandey, a purported supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and founder of the social media page 'I Support Narendra Modi'. The video by Rathee accused Pandey of being the second-in-command of the BJP IT cell and offering Rs. 50 lakh to someone named Mahavir Prasad to retract allegations of spreading lies and fake news against the ruling party's IT cell.
Bench: Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma
Case Title: Arvind Kejriwal v. State & Anr.
6. [Termination of 28-week pregnancy] The Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea from a 20-year-old unmarried woman seeking termination of her 28-week pregnancy. The single-judge bench held that the requested termination, or foeticide, would not be ethically or legally permissible given the normal and viable status of the foetus, coupled with the absence of any imminent danger to the woman's health by continuing the pregnancy. Justice Prasad, while reviewing the case, emphasized that the medical report revealed no congenital abnormalities in the foetus and no threats to the mother that warranted termination. Additionally, he highlighted the potential risks associated with inducing pre-term delivery, which could adversely impact the mental and physical health of the newborn and pose future health risks for the mother in subsequent pregnancies.
Bench: Justice Subramonium Prasad
Case Title: S v. Union of India & Ors.
7. [1984 Anti-Sikh Riots] The Delhi High Court has provided the Special Investigation Team (SIT) with additional time to submit its status report concerning a plea seeking action against Congress leader Kamal Nath for his alleged involvement in a case linked to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Court was apprised that the SIT, established by the Union Home Ministry, was yet to file its status report regarding the petition filed by BJP's Manjinder Singh Sirsa. The court had previously directed the SIT on January 27, 2022, to furnish the status report on the plea. During the hearing on Tuesday, the SIT's counsel sought an extension, citing the need to trace relevant records. The court then scheduled the matter for further hearing on April 23. The case pertains to a violent mob attacking the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in the city during the 1984 riots. Congress leader Kamal Nath has refuted any involvement in the incident.
Bench: Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma
Case Title: Manjinder Singh Sirsa v. Union of India & Ors.
8. [UAPA Case] The Delhi High Court has 'reserved order' in NewsClick's Human Resources Department (HR) head, Amit Chakraborty's bail plea in the case lodged against the news portal under anti-terror law UAPA over allegations that it received money to spread pro-China propaganda. On January 9, a Delhi court allowed Chakraborty to turn an approver in the case. Chakravarty had approached the trial court in the last week of December 2023, seeking to "turn approver" in the ongoing case. NewsClick has been accused of receiving foreign funds from Chinese agents to spread "anti-India propaganda." During the hearing, the counsel for Chakraborty submitted that he has been in custody since October 3, 2023. The matter is still in the investigation stage. No charge sheet has been filed. "Although I have become a witness in this case and am cooperating with the investigating agency, my statement has already been recorded in December 2023," he submitted. The bench noted, "The State has no objection to the grant of bail to the present accused applicant. It is stated that he has already been granted pardon after he turned an approver."
Case Title: Amit Chakroborty v. State
9. [Delhi Riots 2020] The Delhi High Court expressed concern regarding the protracted arguments presented by the prosecution in the bail plea hearing of Khalid Saifi, an accused in a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) linked to the 2020 Delhi riots. A division bench expressed its dissatisfaction with the seemingly endless arguments put forth by the prosecution. Emphasizing that the court is tasked with adjudicating bail pleas and not appeals against convictions or acquittals, the bench underscored the necessity for succinct arguments. During the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad referred to WhatsApp chats and other details from the chargesheet to underscore the alleged involvement of various accused individuals in the purported riot conspiracy. However, the bench indicated its reluctance to entertain prolonged
Bench: Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain
Case Title: Abdul Khalid Saifi @ Khalid v. State
10. [Delhi Waqf Board Case] AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan withdrew his plea on Wednesday, challenging the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) summons requiring his presence in connection with a money laundering case from the Delhi High Court. The case is related to suspected irregularities in the recruitment process of the Delhi Waqf Board. The court allowed Khan to withdraw his plea. "Dismissed as withdrawn," the court ordered. Notably, on February 1, the bench had refused to stay the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) requiring Khan's presence in connection with a money laundering case. The case is related to suspected irregularities in the recruitment process of the Delhi Waqf Board.
Bench: Justice Rekha Palli and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar
Case Title: Amanatullah Khan v. Union of India & Ors.
11. [Excise Policy Scam] The Delhi High Court has 'denied' bail to AAP MP Sanjay Singh in a money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. "No ground of bail is made out at this stage," the bench ordered. However, Justice Sharma directed the trial court to expeditiously conclude the trial once it commences. "The accused in the case is entitled to a fair trial, a fundamental principle of justice that must be upheld. In light of this, the court directs the trial court to expedite the trial in the current case once it commences...so that the accused's rights are protected and justice is served without undue delay, subject to the condition that neither the counsel for the accused nor the counsel for prosecution will seek unnecessary adjournment. Disposed of," the court ordered orally. Notably, on January 31, the court reserved order in the AAP leader's bail plea.
Case Title: Sanjay Singh v. Directorate of Enforcement
12. [Anticipatory Bail] The Delhi High Court has recently refused to grant anticipatory bail to a man accused of physically and sexually abusing his wife, shedding light on the troubling dynamics within marriages characterized by "unchecked dominance" and entitlement. The bench condemned the "societal mindset" that views women as objects to be controlled and exploited, emphasizing that such attitudes perpetuate a culture of abuse and exploitation. The case unfolded as the woman alleged mental, physical, and sexual abuse by her husband, along with demands for dowry. She further claimed that objectionable videos were made of her by the accused. "Being labeled and continuously called and reminded repeatedly that she had a status of a mere as a cow meant only for milking or a golden hen expected to lay golden eggs is deeply disturbing and indicative of the dehumanizing treatment the victim endured, which highlights the systemic issue of objectification and exploitation of women within certain societal frameworks," the judge said.
Case Title: Nitin Kumar Tomar v. The State Govt of NCT of Delhi
13. [Protected Monuments] The Delhi High Court has expressed grave concern over the failure of multiple authorities to curb unauthorised construction, warning that such negligence could lead to "complete lawlessness" in the city with far-reaching consequences for society. A bench expressed dismay at the inability of authorities to prevent unauthorised construction near centrally protected monuments such as Nizamuddin ki Baoli and Barakhamba Tomb, describing the situation as "shocking." The court hinted at the possibility of ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter, emphasizing that no institution or authority should be allowed to perpetuate illegality. "The failure of multiple agencies on the ground level is shocking. If unchecked, this will lead to complete lawlessness in the city, which is detrimental to society," remarked the bench.
Case Title: Jamia Arabia Nizamia Welfare Education Society v. Delhi Development Authority through its Vice Chairman and Ors.
14. [Plea challenging entry of Foreign law firms] The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Bar Council of India (BCI) and the Central Government in a petition challenging the BCI's decision to permit the entry of foreign law firms in India. The plea raises significant questions regarding the regulatory framework governing legal practice in the country. A division bench issued notices to the BCI and the concerned government ministries after hearing arguments from both the petitioners and the bar body. The court allowed the BCI four weeks to file its counter affidavit and scheduled the next hearing for April 24, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive examination of the matter. According to the petitioners, the entry of foreign law firms poses a threat to the Indian legal profession's integrity and may compromise the principles of justice. They underscored the importance of upholding the Advocates Act and preserving the rights of Indian lawyers to practice law in the country.
15. [Hybdrid Hearing in District courts] The Delhi High Court has issued directives to the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Delhi government, ordering them to prepare an estimate of the funds required for the procurement of hybrid hearing equipment in district courts across Delhi. The court instructed the PWD to submit the estimate within ten days. A division bench further directed the Finance Department of the Delhi government to make a decision within four weeks upon receiving the estimate from the PWD. The court's decision came in response to a petition filed by a group of senior citizen lawyers advocating for the implementation of hybrid hearings in Delhi's district courts. The petitioners have long been pushing for the adoption of hybrid hearing systems to address infrastructural shortcomings in the court system. Since 2021, the high court has been closely monitoring the progress of efforts to overcome these infrastructural challenges and facilitate hybrid hearings.
Case Title: Anil Kumar Hajelay & Ors v. Hon'ble High Court of Delhi
16. [Unchecked Encroachments] The Delhi High Court emphasized the critical importance of preserving forests as "Delhi's green lungs" to combat pollution and safeguard public health, expressing deep concern over unchecked encroachments and unauthorised constructions, including those under the guise of religious structures. A division bench highlighted the urgent need to restore and protect forests in the city, emphasizing their vital role in mitigating pollution and ensuring the well-being of Delhi's residents. "Let the forest be restored. Today, where will you find more forests? So the existing ones must be preserved. These are the green lungs of Delhi. Have a heart. Be human. Understand that people are dying because of pollution. This is our only saviour. This is our last bastion. We will not be able to breathe. What will you see? How will you enjoy the heritage if you can't breathe in the city? Let them breathe. Enough peers, dargahs, and temples are there. Enough. We have more than sufficient," the bench remarked. The court's remarks came during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection for ancient monuments, including the Ashiq Allah Dargah in Mehrauli.
Case Title: Himanshu Damle & Anr. v. Delhi Development Authority & Ors.
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