Priya Sahgal in conversation with Aishwarya Bhati, ASG at ITV Group’s Shakti Awards 2022 and the We Women Want conclave-
Q: Thank You Aishwarya for joining us and we had many conversation with you but first as Additional Solicitor General so we congratulate you for that good to see you here and in fact you just heard a conversation around the medical do’s and don’ts you know that every women should be aware of I want to talk to you about the legal do’s and don’ts you know if there are some laws that we don’t know that work in our favour so in terms of educating people I think the main areas where the women faces needs help could be either in a marriage or may be sexual harassment at work place, so first in terms of marriage, domestic violence, can you educate our audience as to their rights?
A: Thank you! For having me, I think if we divided into two verticals you know a women at home and a women out of home I think that would be a easier way to deal with it, if we speak about a women at home, laws are very many but if we could touch some of the verticals that are extremely critical for women to know in terms of their rights their duties and you know in the home this is first very significant to understand that despite the fact that we are all governed by our personal laws in our marriages we don’t have a uniform law that wants all of us so to speak because our personal laws are still paramount when it comes to the matrimonial matters, there are still extremely critical gender neutral laws which are there to help out women who may be facing domestic abuse, violence, assault, harassment of any kind the topmost of that is the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which is hybrid act so it starts of like a civil act and then it converts into criminal consequences so that way it cuts across all personal laws so it is a law that is available to all there are also sections in the Indian Penal Code with regard to mental cruelty that a women may facts that’s 498A, there is CrPc provision of maintenance i.e., 125 CrPc very old one but Domestic Violence Act has sought of become one stop shop for and this is interesting because its just not covered just women in marriages but it covers women in all Domestic relationships so weather you are a mother at home you are a daughter at home, you are a daughter-in-law at home, sister-in-law at home, it covers everyone who is in a domestic relationship, it allows for your rights to be safeguarded in terms of yours protection homes, maintenances, economic stability it deals with sexual abuse. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse so it’s a very comprehensive law I think that’s is something that we all should know about and you use it whenever required also with the intervention of some governmental scheme in terms of Supreme Court judgements there are one stop centres available in every district across the country, there are district legal aid committees which are there in every district across the country in some places its right up to the taluka level but district legal aid committees are available and otherwise legal aid is available only on your financial condition if you deserve that you know in terms of your financial condition then only you get it but for women in child related issues it is available irrespective of your economic capacity so I think that help should be taken, I also think its important with more women working making their own living I think its important that all of us should make our succession plan we should make our wills so that we are determined you know we determine how our legacy is to be devolved how it should go into because we are again caught up in personal laws there are then adoption related issues every women has the right to adopt a child irrespective of the matrimonial status so there are very progressive laws that have now you know come into our domestic fields and if we talk about the field outside the home.
Q: Domestic violence now what happens is if you want to repost a case of a domestic violence very often the husband comes out in the few months maximum a few years and then he comes and takes revenge you know in the morning we had a session with the victims who had acid attacks and they were telling us how they complaint about the husband and you know he was behind bars within two years he came out and then they are worried about revenges, rape cases we have the same problem also?
A: So,Priya Ji, unfortunately, the System of rule of law the justice delivery system takes time but there are mechanisms in place so that the women has the financial comfort she has the help of a Nyaya Mitra, which is a legal paralegal help which is available through these one stop centres, medical assistance if she requires.
Q: What is the Nyaya Mitra can you tell us?
A: So Nyaya Mitra, what is contemplated is somebody who’s a paralegal who is legally trained but you know not a compete lawyer but a bridge between the legal assistance that the women might require so she has better access to the justice delivery mechanism now you know relationships that are hunky to read that they don’t have problems, problems are there you know when there’s refusal from the other side so I think when you are running into trouble I think it’s important for us to be stronger to seek support to seek help and be determined about fighting its true, the systems are emplaced there is help that is available you just need to reach out for it.
Q: Issue of marital rape also, I believe there is no law against marital rape if I may be corrected, so how does a women deal with that?
A: So, I’ll correct you a little Domestic Violence Act deals with sexual abuse so that is a hybrid law that already makes sexual abuse as a matrimonial wrong which can convert into some criminal consequences also if there is violation to the protection order, restrained orders etc that could be passed under the Domestic Violence Act. However, under the IPC there is an exception so under the IPC sexual intercourse of ab married man with his own wife is not treated as a marital rape of course the matter is sub judice, like I hold a important position as a Law Officer of a Union Government so I refrain from speaking about these things which I will have to be dealing with in court but just as a way of passing reference I think we have far bigger problems in terms of you know if client comes to our office not I mean we have to as lawyers we have to ask them dud you get married in Hindu religion of you know in Islamic religion, Christian religion or how did you get married I think we need to stop asking those questions our rights our duties and responsibilities should be gender neutral and religion neutral what is this that we and its just matrimonial laws that are still confined in that corner of know being delt by personal laws.
Q: Well, I think the correction is happening in the Uniform Civil Court is on its way if I am not wrong, okay regarding property inheritance also you know the women rights to a large extent have been you know she gets equal rights but is there anything else we don’t know and you would like to share with us the finer points?
A: Yes, see I absolutely feel that see succession laws will apply if a person has not made his will so if the testamentary document has been made by the person then the testamentary document alone which is a will testamentary document is nothing but a will so that is why I recommend to every women and every man also if you have got any legacy, if you have made any property if you have own anything please make sure that you make a will, you just need to have two witness to that will and that’s it, it need not to be a registered will, you just make that will and you can registered it if you like I mean its optional always but its not mandatory for that will to be registered but please make a will whatever you want done with your property should be determined by you.
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CESTAT: Registration Of Premises Not A Necessary Prerequisite For Claiming A Refund Under Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004
The Delhi Bench of the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) in the case M/s. Selling Simplified India Private Limited Versus Commissioner of CGST, East Delhims observed and has held that the registration of premises is a necessary prerequisite for claiming a refund under Rule 5 of the Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004.
The bench comprising of Judicial Member, Rachna Gupta observed and has stated that the service providers are entitled to a refund under rule 5 of the Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004 when the output service is exported.
In the present case, the appellant is engaged in rendering taxable services of business support to the following group companies, i.e., Selling Simplified Group, Selling Simplified Inc, Selling Simplified Ltd., U.K. and three of the companies are located outside of India. It is availed by the appellant that the Cenvat credit for input services used to render the said output service as they are paying service tax on such input services. Thus, on 22.12.2016, the appellant filed a refund claim for Rs.9,97,364 under Notification No.27/2012-CE(NT) dated 18.06.2012, issued under Rule 5 of the Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004, along with several documents.
It was observed by the department that the appellant had centralised service tax registration for the premises but had claimed some input service credit for the services utilised at the unregistered premises. Some of the export invoices were also raised from the unregistered premises. However, with these observations, the department formed the opinion that the appellants should get registration for their Noida premises also. A ‘Show Cause Notice’ was issued by the department proposing the rejection of the refund claim.
It was contended by the appellant that the export invoices were issued by the appellant from an address that is not part of the centralised registration. Further, the address mentioned in the invoices is Noida; hence, the Commissionerate does not have jurisdiction to decide the refund. The group of companies and the appellant to whom the Appellant had provided business support services are simply the establishments of a single individual.
It was held by the CESTAT that the show cause notice is a foundation on which the department has to build its case and it should be specific and contain all relevant details so that an assessee will be able to give a reply to specific allegations made in the show cause notice. As since the issue of jurisdiction was not specifically taken in the show cause notice, the adjudication on this point against the assessee is not sustainable. Since, the appellant admittedly has centralised registration in terms of subclause (2) and (3) of Rule 4, and the Noida unit was not required to be registered.
Supreme Court: No Bar To Withdraw Admitted CIRP Application Before Constitution Of Committee Of Creditors-IBC
The Supreme Court in the case Ashok G. Rajani vs Beacon Trusteeship Ltd. Observed and stated that there is no bar to withdrawal of an admitted CIRP application before constitution of Committee of Creditors.
The bench comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari observed and has stated that the settlement cannot be stifled before the constitution of the Committee of Creditors in anticipation of claims from third persons, against the Corporate Debtor.
It was observed by the court while dismissing the appeal against NCLAT order which gave the parties the opportunity to settle their disputes before the Adjudicating Authority (NCLT) in terms of Section 12A of the IBC reading with Rule 11 of the National Company Law Tribunal Rules, 2016 (NCLT Rules).
Further, the bench noted that Section 12A of the IBC enables the Adjudicating Authority to allow the withdrawal of an application admitted under Section 7 or Section 9 or Section 10, on an application made by the applicant with the approval of 90% voting shares of the Committee of Creditors in such a manner as it is specified.
The court stated that Section 12A of the IBC clearly permits withdrawal of an application under Section 7 of the IBC that has been admitted on an application made by the applicant. Thus, the question of approval of the Committee of Creditors by the requisite percentage of votes, can only arise after the Committee of Creditors is constituted. In our view, before the Committee of Creditors is constituted, there is no bar to withdrawal by the applicant of an application admitted under Section 7 of the IBC.
Further, the court noted that Rule 11 of the NCLT Rules enables the NCLT to pass orders for the ends of justice including order permitting an applicant for CIRP to withdraw its application and to enable a corporate body to carry on business with ease and should be free of any impediment.
While dismissing the petition, the court stated that considering the investments made by the Corporate Debtor and considering the number of people dependant on the Corporate Debtor for their survival and livelihood, there being no reason why the applicant for the CIRP, should not be allowed to withdraw its application as once its disputes have been settled. However, the settlement cannot be shifted before the constitution of the Committee of Creditors in anticipation of claims against the Corporate Debtor from third persons. Thus, the withdrawal of an application for CIRP by the applicant would not prevent any other financial creditor from taking recourse to a proceeding under IBC and the urgency to abide by the timelines for completion of the resolution process cannot be stated as a reason to stifle the settlement.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi Declines To Be The Next Attorney General For India
The Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi has declined to be the next Attorney General for India. The offer made by the Central Government in that regard is turned out by him.
On September 30, the term of the incumbent Attorney General for India KK Venugopal is ending. However, there were reports that Rohatgi was going to take the AG’s mantle after Venugopal.
In June 2017, Rohatgi had earlier resigned as the Attorney General after serving for three years. Venugopal was appointed as the AG for a term of three years after Rohatgi and he was given one year extension each in 2020 and 2021. This year on June 29, AG Venugopal’s term was extended by three more months by the Union Government. Thus, there were reports that Venugopal had requested the Government to not further extend his tenure citing health problems, and the Government requested him to continue for three more months.
Hijab–Fight for rights or religion..?
Hijab controversy took grounds in Karnataka after the Udupi College issued guidelines for the academic year in July 2021 prescribing a uniform dress code.
In September six students (who later became the lead petitioners in the Karnataka High Court) complained of discrimination by teachers against them on religious grounds. By December, their complaint had taken the form of protest that drew intervention of entire country. The very Primary and important issue under consideration of Supreme Court is whether Hijab is a fundamental right or mere a religious practice.
As of now, a settle law position says that even though right to religion is covered under Art. 25 of the constitution and art 19- Right to Speech and 21- Personal Liberty of the constitution but can it be excluded or included in under ‘Reasonable Restriction’ of the fundamental rights. However, to consider any religious practice under Art 25 of the Constitution must fall within the ambit of ‘Essential Religious Practice”.
Before we get into the issue lets see what the Holy Quran Say on Hijab-
How does the Quran address the issue of Hijab-
Term Hijab is reiterated seven times in the Quran referring each time exactly to the same means Curtain, Separation, mask but the verse that has been most often used to prove the obligation of veiling for women and mentions the term Hijab is as under-
“ O you who have been believed, do not enter the houses of the prophet except when you are permitted to meal…. And when you ask (his wives) for something, ask then from behind a separation (Hijab) Quran 33;53.
As it indicates here, the Hijab concerns only the wives of the prophet and meets a circumstantial requirement in order to respect the private life of Prophet. Besides, it does not represent, in anyway, a particular model of clothing.
It is therefore, quite clear that the term Hijab does not absolutely refer to the meaning given nowadays. Hence it could be ascertain that Hijab is not an essential in Islam.
IS HIJAB ESSENTIAL IN ISLAM?
Before considering the issue, it is pertinent to know whether Hijab fall under essential right in Islam or not?
Many Islam Scholar would say that Head Cover is mandate in Quran however while answering the same Karnataka High Court referring ingredients of Article 25 of the constitution concludes that Hijab is not essential part of Islam. Art 25 of the Constitution guarantees a person the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate her religion. But this fundamental right is subject to public order, morality and health. This is not an absolute right.
UNIFORM VS FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT-
School Uniforms are form of secular democracy, it demonstrate secular and homogeneous in the Schools and colleges therefore achieves constitutional secularism. Therefore Fundamental rights cannot be claimed against School Uniforms. Therefore, The Karnataka High Court ruled, “We are of the considered opinion that the prescription of the school uniform is only a reasonable restriction constitutionally permissible, which the students cannot object to.”
Judicial Review – Essential Religious Practice
The hon’ble Supreme Court and High Courts have ample time interpreted the law regarding religious beliefs and practice of religion, however, every time the courts might have opined in different way but all the opinions are based on same foundation called “ Essential Religious Practice The Hon’ble Supreme Court first discussed the concept of ‘Essential Religious Practice’ in the case of Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras v. Shri Lakshmidar Thirtha Swamiyar of Shri Shirur Mutt AIR 1954 SC 282. In the said case, the Supreme Court distinguished ‘secular practices’ from ‘religious practices’ and held that the latter alone is protected by article 25 of the Constitution. The ‘religious practice’ must be essential to the religion itself.
The Supreme Court further elaborated that the Essential part of a religion means the core beliefs upon which a religion is founded. Essential practice, in a religion, means those practices that are fundamental. It is on these essential practices that the superstructure of the religion is built on without which any religion will be no religion. The test to determine whether a part or practice is essential to a religion is to find out whether the nature of the religion will be changed without that practice. If the taking away of that part or practice could result in a fundamental change in the character of that religion or in its belief, then such part could be treated as an essential or integral part.
In order to understand whether the practice of wearing a Hijab satisfies the test of Essential Religious Practice, it is important to further study the judicial developments in this regard.
In the case of Javed and Ors. v/s State of Haryana and Ors. (2003) 8 SCC 369, a challenge was laid to the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act disqualifying anyone with more than 2 living children from holding specified offices in the Panchayat. The Petitioner, a Muslim by faith, submitted, amongst other grounds, that his personal laws permitted him performance of marriages with up to 4 women for the purpose of procreating children and restriction thereof would violate Art 25 of the Constitution of India. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that such a protection can be claimed only if the same forms an Essential Religious Practice. The Hon’ble Court further held that what is permitted or prohibited does not become a positive tenet of a religion and that a practice does not acquire sanction simply because it is permitted. The Hon’ble Court concluded by holding that the same can be regulated or prohibited by Legislation in the interest of public order, morality, and health.
In the case of Khursheed Ahmed Khan v/s State of UP and Ors. (2015) 8 SCC 439 the Supreme Court affirmed the principle propounded in the Javed Ali case (supra.). In the instant case, the Petitioner challenged the UP Government Servants’ Service Conduct Rules, 1956 that provided for removal of government servants for proven misconduct of contracting another marriage during the subsistence of an already existing one. The challenge to the rule by the Petitioner was that it was permissible for Muslims to enter into marriage with 4 women and as such the said service rules violated his Fundamental Rights under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. The Hon’ble Supreme Court while referring to a plethora of judgements including the Javed Case (supra.), negatived the plea and held that Art 25 was subject to public order, morality, and health and further went on to hold that polygamy was not an integral part of the religion and monogamy was a reform within the powers of the State under Art 25 of the Constitution of India. Holding so, the Hon’ble Court dismissed the Petition and upheld the service rule
To conclude with the issue of Hijab will have to undergo the test of ‘Essential Practice of Religion’. And in such case I feel the issue has very little chances of recognizing Hijab as ‘Essential religious Practice’ and if the petitioners fail to convince the court, it would then, remain as religious practice but not essential religious practice.
(Author is columnist and practicing advocate at Bombay High Court)
Allahabad High Court Quashes POSCO Case: If Husband/Accused Is Convicted Then Victim/Wife’s Future Would Be Ruined
The Allahabad High Court recently in the case Rajiv Kumar v. State of U.P. And 2 Others observed and has recently quashed an FIR and criminal proceedings in a POCSO case registered against a man as it noted that the accused man and victim-wife (who was a minor at the time of the incident) married the accused/ applicant out of her own sweet will and is living a happy married life with him.
The bench comprising of Justice Manju Rani Chauhan observed that to punish punish the offenders for a crime, involved in the present case, is in the interest of society, but, at the same time, the husband is taking care of his wife and in case, the husband is sentenced and convicted for societal interest, then, the wife will be in great trouble and it would ruin their future. Thus, it is also in the interest of society to settle and resettle the family for their welfare, the bench quashed the rape-POCSO case against the accused.
Facts of the Case:
The Maternal Uncle of the Victim lodged an FIR against the accused under Sections 363, 366, and Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860and Section 3/4 of the POCSO Act, alleging that the accused had raped the victim (then a 17-year-old minor).
Further, the accused moved the instant Section 482 CrPC petition seeking to quash the instant FIR. Also, the victim appeared before the Court and had submitted that her maternal uncle had lodged the FIR in an attempt to ruin her married life.
It was further stated by her that she has entered into a compromise with the accused and has married him out of her free will, and consent, and without any external pressure, coercion, or threat of any kind. Before the court, it was also submitted that that out of their wedlock, they are blessed with a male child, who is presently four and half years old and as per her date of birth and at the time of marriage she was nearly 17 and half years old.
It was submitted by the Applicant-Accused that on account of the compromise entered into between the parties concerned, all disputes between them have come to an end, and therefore, further proceedings are liable to be quashed in the present case.
Observations Made By Court:
In the present case, the court noted that though the offence under the relevant sections 363, 366 and 376 of IPC and Sections 3/4 of POCSO Act are not compoundable under Section 320 Cr.P.C, however, adding to it, the court stated that the power of the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C is not inhibited by the provisions of Section 320 Cr.P.C and the criminal proceedings as well as the FIR can be quashed by exercising inherent powers under provision of Section 482 Cr.P.C, if warranted in given facts and circumstances of the case for ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court, even including the cases which are not compoundable where parties have settled the matter between themselves.
The court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case, and also the submissions made by the counsel for the parties, the court came to the considered opinion that the victim herself, has stated before this Court that out of her own sweet will, she has married the applicant and is living a happy married life and out of their wedlock, the couple are blessed with a male child. However, no useful purpose shall be served by prolonging the proceedings of the criminal case as the parties have already settled their disputes.
Accordingly, the court quashed the charge sheet and the cognizance order as well as the entire proceedings of the Criminal Case were hereby quashed. Thus, the application was allowed.
SC likely to hear next month pleas related to Article 370
A Supreme Court constitution bench is expected to hear a slew of petitions related to Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) semi-autonomous status before it was repealed in August 2019. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit said on Friday that the petitions will be heard after the Dussehra holiday.
When senior advocate Prashanth Sen asked the CJI to list the matter, Justice Lalit responded, “We will certainly list that…it will be listed after Dussehra break.” From October 3 to 10, the court will be closed for Dussehra.
The petitions were last heard in March 2020, when a five-judge panel declined to refer the case to a larger panel. The reference was requested because previous court decisions on the subject were in conflict with one another. This contention was rejected by the bench.
At the time, the bench was aware of an older batch of petitions pending in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Articles 370 and 35A, which granted J&K special status. It was stated that all issues concerning Article 370 should preferably be heard together.
National Conference legislators, former bureaucrats, and some organisations are among those who have objected to the repeal of Article 370. Some petitioners cited the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, which stated that Article 370 had gained permanent status.
Many petitions have also been filed against the Jammu and Kashmir State Reorganization Act, which calls for the division of J&K into two Union Territories.
Despite opposition from the central government, which argued that Article 370 had international and cross-border implications, the Supreme Court issued notices on the petitions on August 28, 2019. The Centre also claimed that it is a highly sensitive issue, and that whatever happens in the country will be brought up at the United Nations. While issuing notices in 2019, the court referred the case to the five-judge constitution bench.
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