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Internal Complaints Committee cannot comment on personal conduct of parties: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has set the record straight on the ambit of the Internal Complaints Committee. Justice Pratibha M. Singh has clearly laid down that ICC should refrain from indulging in moral policing in cases of sexual harassment at workplace.

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In a progressive, powerful and pertinent judgment titled Bibha Pandey vs Punjab National Bank & Ors in W.p. (C) 3249/2017 & CM APPL 14126/2017 delivered just recently on December 16, 2020 on a writ petition by a female employee of Punjab National Bank has held correctly, cogently, convincingly and commendably that the jurisdiction of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) established under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, is limited to allegations of sexual harassment and whether a complaint is made out or not, to that effect. Delhi High Court has rightly remarked that the ICC “cannot make comments on the personal conduct of the parties”. No denying it!

To start with, Justice Pratibha M Singh of the Delhi High Court who has authored this latest, landmark, learned and laudable judgment sets the ball rolling by first and foremost pointing out in para 2 that, “The Petitioner has filed the instant petition challenging the recommendations of the Internal Complaints Committee (hereinafter as “ICC”), as given in the report dated 15th March 2017, as well as further action which has been taken by the Punjab National Bank (hereinafter as “Bank”) on the basis of ICC’s report.”

While laying the background, it is then observed in para 3 that, “The brief background is that a complaint under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (hereinafter as “Act”) was filed by the Petitioner against Respondent No.3, who was working as the General Manager of the Respondent No. 1 Bank, in Mumbai. The said complaint was referred to the ICC, which was constituted by the Bank, consisting of four members.”

While continuing in the same vein, it is then stated in para 4 that, “The constituted ICC, upon analysing the complaint, came to the conclusion that the relationship between the Petitioner and Respondent No.3 were based on personal grounds with mutual consent, and that the allegations of sexual, emotional and mental harassment were not substantiated by the Petitioner. Thus, the complaint against the Respondent No. 3, was rejected. However, the ICC did not stop there. The ICC went on to make an observation that the behaviour of the parties had been inappropriate and unbecoming of Officers/Employees of the Bank, and accordingly the ICC recommended the Competent Authority to take suitable action against the Petitioner and the Respondent No. 3, as deemed fit.”

To put things in perspective, it is then envisaged in para 5 that, “This report, thereafter, resulted in a charge-sheet being issued on 15th April, 2017, against the Petitioner, under Regulation 6 of the Punjab National Bank Officer Employees’ (Discipline & Appeal) Regulations, 1977. The foundation of the said chargesheet was the ICC’s report and certain other facts, which the Bank had ascertained out of the various communications between the Respondent No. 3 and the Petitioner. The said chargesheet was served upon the Petitioner, and at that stage, the Petitioner has preferred the present writ petition.”

Furthermore, it is then stated in para 6 that, “Vide order dated 19th April, 2017, the ld. Single Judge, while entertaining the present petition, had stayed the ICC’s recommendation and the consequent charge-sheet. The relevant portion of the said order reads as under:

“9. Till the next date of hearing, operation of report of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) dated 15.03.2017, insofar as it recommends an action to be taken against the petitioner and the consequent charge sheet issued to the petitioner, shall remain stayed.”

Going forward, it is then elucidated in para 7 that, “Thereafter, pleadings were being completed in the matter and at some point during the pendency of the petition, the Petitioner also became eligible to be considered for promotion. At that stage, the Petitioner, as recorded in the order dated 1st October, 2019, submitted that her promotion is being held up in view of the pendency of the present petition. On the said date, the following order was passed:

“Matter is to be heard. Ld. counsel for the Petitioner submits that her promotion is being held up in view of the pendency of the present petition. Ld. counsel for Punjab National Bank to take instructions as to whether the Petitioner is entitled to promotion, keeping aside, the recommendation of the Internal Complaints Committee (‘ICC’) and charge sheet arising therefrom as the same are subject matter of the present petition and an interim order has already been passed in favour of the Petitioner. Let instructions be sought before the next date. List on 3rd December 2019.”

More revealingly, it is then disclosed in para 8 that, “Thereafter, vide order dated 3rd December, 2019, the Bank was directed to independently consider the Petitioner’s candidature for promotion. However, it was directed that the same would not be given effect to and shall be kept in a sealed cover. Due to the lockdown, the matter could not be heard thereafter.”

To say the least, it is then enunciated in para 9 that, “In the meantime, the Bank has also placed on record, in a sealed cover, the relative performance of the Petitioner and her prospects for promotion, independent of the charge-sheet against her. The affidavit in compliance of the orders passed by this Court has been placed on record by Bank.”

On the one hand, it is mentioned in para 10 that, “Mr. Rajesh Kr. Gautam, ld. counsel appearing for the Bank, submits that as per the affidavit placed on record, the performance of the Petitioner was also evaluated in the merit list and the Petitioner has become eligible for consideration for promotion. It is further submitted that there is no doubt that the ICC concluded that the Petitioner was in a consensual relationship. However, in terms of the rules of the Bank, whenever there are any disciplinary proceedings which are pending, the Bank is bound to keep the promotion in a sealed cover in view of Paragraph 20(1) and Paragraph 20(2.5) of the Promotion policy of the Bank. It is in view of the said policies that the Petitioner’s result has been kept in a sealed cover.”

On the other hand, it is then stated in para 11 that, “Ms. Vrinda Grover, ld. counsel appearing for the Petitioner, submits that upon the sexual harassment complaint filed by the Petitioner under the Act being rejected, the ICC can merely, close the enquiry for the case not having been made out against Respondent No.3. However, the recommendation made for taking action due to the alleged “unbecoming” conduct is contrary to Section 13(2) of the Act. She, further, submits that insofar as the conclusions of the ICC are concerned, for personal reasons, the Petitioner does not wish to press any challenge in respect of the conclusion, so long as the recommendation made by the ICC is set aside by this Court.”

Needless to say, it is then stipulated in para 12 that, “Heard ld. counsels for the parties. The first and foremost question that arises is as to whether the ICC could have, in the first place, made a recommendation directing the competent authority to take action. A perusal of the ICC’s report shows that the recommendations of the ICC are as under:

“After detailed deliberations, the committee observed that both the complainant Ms. Bibha Pandey as well as the respondent Shri Ashwini Kumar Vats have entered into a relationship with each other on personal basis, with mutual consent. The allegations of sexual, mental and emotional harassment is not substantiated as the actions on the part of the Respondent and the allegations cannot be termed as sexual harassment at workplace as defined under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. Therefore, the present complaint is rejected being non maintainable as per the provisions of the Act of 2013.

The Committee observes from the records available that the Complainant as well as the Respondent, have acted in a manner which is unbecoming of an Officer employee of the Bank as they have indulged in inappropriate acts, not maintaining good conduct and discipline expected of them. The Respondent, being at a very senior position, failed to maintain the dignity and decorum of his position. No case under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 is made out. Both the Complainant as well as the Respondent have behaved and acted in a manner which is not befitting to the post held by them. On the contrary, it is detrimental to the organization and has vitiated the atmosphere of the Bank. The competent authority may take suitable action against them as deemed fit.”

What’s more, it is then stated in para 13 that, “The above conclusions of the ICC are in two parts. In the first part, the ICC concludes that the allegations are not substantiated and the complaint is not made out. In the second part, the ICC goes further and comments on the conduct of the Petitioner and the Respondent. It also recommends that the Bank `may take suitable action’. Section 13 of the Act, contemplates various situations relevant to the inquiry report. Insofar as the ICC is concerned, there are two situations contemplated under Section 13(2) and 13(3), which are set out below for ready reference:

“13(2): Where the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be, arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent has not been proved, it shall recommend to the employer and the District Officer that no action is required to be taken in the matter:

13(3): Where the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be, arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent has been proved, it shall recommend to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be—

(i) to take action for sexual harassment as a misconduct in accordance with the provisions of the service rules applicable to the respondent or where no such service rules have been made, in such manner as may be prescribed;

(ii) to deduct, notwithstanding in the service rules applicable to the respondent, from the salary or wages of the respondent such sum as it may consider appropriate to be paid to the aggrieved woman or to her legal heirs, as it may determine, in accordance with the provisions of section 15

Provided that in case the employer is unable to make such deduction from the salary of the respondent due to his being absent from duty or cessation of employment it may direct to the respondent to pay such sum to the aggrieved woman:

Provided further that in case the respondent fails to pay the sum referred to in clause (ii), the Internal Committee or, as the case may be, the Local Committee may forward the order for recovery of the sum as an arrear of land revenue to the concerned District officer.”

To be sure, it is then pointed out and also conceded in para 14 that, “As per the above provisions, if the allegations of sexual harassment or any other form of harassment, as contemplated under the Act, are not proved before the ICC, the ICC can only recommend the employer to not take any action in the particular matter. However, the ICC, in the present case, has gone beyond its statutory mandate, as recognised under Section 13(2) of the Act. It has, in fact, given observations stating that both the parties i.e., the Petitioner and the Respondent No.3 have indulged in inappropriate/ unbecoming conduct and indiscipline, and has recommended the competent authority to take suitable action against them. Giving such a recommendation is clearly beyond the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

Significantly, it is then pointed out in para 15 that, “Complaints of sexual harassment are initially filed with enormous reluctance. The power of the ICC to hold the enquiry and give a report ought to be within the scheme and the four corners of the statute itself. If a case of sexual harassment is not made out, the ICC can only conclude that no action is required to be taken. On the other hand, if a case of sexual harassment is made out, then the recommendation of the ICC can only be for taking appropriate action for misconduct, in accordance with the provisions of the service rules as contained within Section 13(2) and 13(4) of the Act.”

More significantly, it is then also stated in para 16 that, “It is not contemplated within the provisions of the Act that while holding that no action is to be taken and the complaint is to be rejected, the ICC can direct for suitable action on the ground that the parties have indulged in an inappropriate conduct. Such a determination and consequential recommendation is beyond the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

Most significantly, it is then commendably held in para 17 that, “`Moral Policing’ is not the job of the Management or of the ICC. Any consensual relationship among adults would not be the concern of the Management or of the ICC, so long as the said relationship does not affect the working and the discipline of the organisation and is not contrary to the Rules or code of conduct binding on the said employees. It is only if a complaint is made of sexual harassment under the Act that the Management can constitute the ICC to enquire into the same. The ICC cannot make comments on the personal conduct of the parties and the ICC’s jurisdiction would be restricted to the allegations of sexual harassment and whether a complaint is made out or not, to that effect. Under these circumstances, this Court has no hesitation in holding that the last paragraph of the recommendation of the ICC, which comments on the conduct of the parties and recommends to the competent authority to take action against the Petitioner and Respondent No. 3, for their inappropriate disciplinary conduct, is not tenable and is liable to be set aside.”

Going ahead, it is then also noted in para 18 that, “Further, in view of the fact that one of the factors leading to the chargesheet dated 15th April, 2017, was the recommendation of the ICC, the chargesheet which seeks to take disciplinary action against the Petitioner is liable to be quashed and is ordered accordingly.”

Not stopping here, it is then held in para 19 that, “In view of the above position, the fact that the Petitioner has become eligible for promotion means that the Bank would accordingly offer her promotion in accordance with her seniority, performance and merit, as per the applicable service rules. The chargesheet would no longer be an obstacle in the Petitioner’s promotion and no disciplinary enquiry would now be held against the Petitioner pursuant to the said chargesheet.”

Now coming to the concluding paras. Para 20 says that, “The affidavits filed by the Bank in a sealed cover shall be scanned and be retained on record.” Finally, it is then held in the last para 21 that, “With these observations, the present petition and all pending applications are disposed of.”

To conclude, the Delhi High Court has set the record straight on the ambit of ICC. Justice Pratibha M Singh has clearly laid down that ICC can’t comment on personal conduct of parties as has already been described in detail above. ICC should refrain from indulging in moral policing in cases of sexual harassment at workplace as rightly pointed out by Justice Pratibha of Delhi High Court. This is quintessentially the real crux of this commendable, learned and laudable judgment!

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GAUHATI HIGH COURT QUASHES NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION AGAINST GRAM PANCHAYAT PRESIDENT CITING PARTICIPATION OF MEMBER DISQUALIFIED FOR HAVING THREE CHILDREN

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The Gauhati High Court in the case Jugitawali Pawe v State of Assam and 15 ors observed and quashed a resolution expressing no-confidence in the petitioner – the President of a Gram Panchayat, as a result of which she as removed from office. It was stated that it is as per the citing no compliance with Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, reading with Rule 62 of the Assam Panchayat (Constitution) Rules, 1995.

It was preferred by the petitioner to the materials available on record to argue that one of the members of the Gaon Panchayat, the respondent. The respondent voted against the petitioner and had given birth to her third child the previous year. Moreover, by virtue of Section 111(2)(a) of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, reading with Rule 62 of the Assam Panchayat (Constitution) Rules, 1995, the petitioner stood automatically disqualified on the date of voting. Following, which her vote was taken by passing No-confidence motion.

It was prayed by the petitioner in the plea for setting aside the impugned resolution and for issuance of a direction to restore his client back in the office. Thereafter, to initiate fresh proceedings, liberty should be granted to the respondent, following the due process.

It was agreed by the Counsel representing for the respondent that the said member of the panchayat had been disqualified but retained on the ground that the disqualification would have no bearing on the petitioner’s case, as the impugned resolution was passed before the declaration of petitioner disqualification.

In the present case, It was noticed by Justice Suman Shyam the member had voted against the petitioner and without her vote. The petitioner would not have been ousted from office. Justice Shyam also found no dispute about the fact that the member had incurred disqualification under the law prior the date of adoption of the impugned resolution. Justice Shyam found it unnecessary to delve into other aspects of the matter which includes the procedural formalities for declaring the member a disqualified candidate.

It is observed that the impugned resolution was declared to be vitiated and liable to be set aside. Further, the Court restored the petitioner to the office of the President of the Bongalmara Gaon Panchayat with immediate effect and it was stated by the court that the order will not stand in the way should the authorities or any member of the Gaon Panchayat propose a fresh motion of “no-confidence” against the petitioner and the due process of law needs to be followed.

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Halt DDA’s demolition action against jhuggis in Nizamuddin’s Gyaspur area, orders Delhi High Court

As per the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, the residents who can establish their residence prior to 01.01.2015 are eligible for rehabilitation under the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015.

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plea in Delhi High Court seeking repatriation of 56 pregnant nurses

The Delhi High Court in the case Manoj Gupta & Ors. v. DDA & Ors observed and has ordered status quo on the Delhi Development Authority’s proposal to demolish jhuggi clusters in city’s Gyaspur area in Hazrat Nizamuddin. The vacation bench comprising of Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed in the petition filled by the residents and the court granted an interim relief.

It was ordered by the court status quo till July 11, the next date of hearing.

The bench orally remarked that a ten-day delay in demolition won’t make a difference but if today it is demolished and later, we come to know that they were entitled, who’s going to… the bench will consider it on July 11, 2022 but in the Meanwhile, some protections are entitled them. Adding this, Status quo be maintained. If since 1995, they have been there, heavens won’t come down if for 10 more days they are protected.

In the plea the petitioner stated that the T-Huts settlement in the area, which was stated by the authorities to vacate. It has been in existence for almost two decades and compromise of 32 jhuggis or households.

In the plea it was alleged that the bulldozers have been parked around the camp and a DDA official has orally asked them to vacate the area and it is noted that till date no proper notice have been sent to them nor has DDA conducted any survey of the area.

Furthermore, the DDA did not provide any alternate arrangement for their rehabilitation which resulted in extreme distress among the residents.

Moreover, it was admitted by the petitioner that the land in question belongs to DDA and they may seek that status-quo to be maintained at the site. It was urged that the residents should not be physically dispose or evicted from the demolition site until the survey is conducted and rehabilitation is provided to the residents as per the DUSIB policy of 2015.

As per the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. The residents who can establish their residence prior to 01.01.2015 are eligible for rehabilitation under the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015.

It is observed that in the case Ajay Maken v. Union of India, Reliance is placed on the Supreme Court decision and the High Court decision in the case Sudama Singh & Ors. v. Government of Delhi & Anr, it was held in the case that that removal of jhuggis without ensuring relocation would amount of gross violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it was held that the agencies conducting the demolitions ought to conduct survey before undertaking any demolition.

It is submitted that these observations would apply across the board, in the entire NCT of Delhi.

Advocates Vrinda Bhandari, Shiyaz Razaq, Kaoliangpou Kamei, Jepi Y Chisho and Paul Kumar Kalai, represented the petitioner.

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TELANGANA HIGH COURT: PLACE OF RESIDENCE OF THE ARBITRATOR WOULD NOT BE THE SEAT OF ARBITRATION

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The High Court of Telangana in the case M/s S. Square Infra v. Garneni Chalapathi Rao observed and held that the place of residence of the arbitrator would not determine the seat of arbitration.

The Single bench comprising of Justice P. Sree Sudha observed and held that merely because an arbitrator residing in Hyderabad has been appointed, it does not mean that only the Courts at Hyderabad would have the jurisdiction to decide all the matters arising out of arbitration agreement.

Facts of the Case:

In the present case, after the dispute arouse between the parties, the respondent sent a letter to the petitioner for nomination an arbitrator who is residing in Hyderabad. To its said notice, petitioner replied and declined the appointment of the arbitrator for the reason that there was no dispute which required the appointment of an arbitrator.

A suit was filled by the respondent before the VII Additional District Judge Sangareddy, seeking for relief of permanent injunction. An application was filled by the petitioner under Section 8 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act and the parties referred to the arbitration.

An application was filled by the respondent under section 9 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act before the Principal District Judge, Sangareddy, Subsequently, an application was filled by the petitioner for transferring the application from the Court at Sangareddy to Court at Hyderabad.

Contentions made by Parties:

On the following grounds, the petitioner sought the transfer of application.

An arbitrator residing in Hyderabad was nominated to respondent. However, only the courts in Hyderabad would have the jurisdiction to decide all the matters arising out of the arbitration.

It was stated that the nomination of an arbitrator residing in Hyderabad amounted to designating Hyderabad as the Seat of Arbitration.

On the following grounds, the respondent countered the submissions of the petitioner:

An application was filled by the petitioner under Section 8 of the A&C Act before the Court at Sangareddy. However, in terms of Section 42 of the A&C Act, only the court at Sangareddy would have the jurisdiction to decide all the matters arising out of arbitration.

Court Analysis:

The Court held that the seat of arbitration would not be decide by the place of residence of the arbitrator.

The argument of the petitioner was rejected by the court that since the respondent had initially nominated an arbitrator residing in Hyderabad, the Hyderabad Court would have the jurisdiction.

The court stated that merely because a party has nominated an arbitrator who resides in Hyderabad, the same would not designate Hyderabad as the Seat of arbitration in absence of any designation of the seat under the arbitration agreement.

It was further stated by the court that the application filled by the petitioner filled under Section 8 application before the Court at Sangareddy consequent to which the parties were referred to arbitration. Therefore, the Court would have the jurisdiction, in terms of Section 42 of the A&C Act.

The Transfer petition was dismissed by the Court.

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DELHI HIGH COURT REMANDS IN THE MATTER BACK TO ASSESSING OFFICER AFTER SETTING ASIDE: JUST 3 DAYS’ TIME GRANTED TO RESPOND TO THE INCOME TAX NOTICE

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plea in Delhi High Court seeking repatriation of 56 pregnant nurses

The Delhi High Court in the case Shubham Thakral Vs ITO, the Delhi bench comprising of Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora observed and remanded the matter back to the assessing officer as just 3 days’ time was granted to respond to the income tax notice.

In the present case, the petitioner/assessee assailed the notice under Section 148A (b) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and the order passed under Section 148A (d) for the Assessment Year 2018–19.

It was contended by the assessee that only three days’ time was granted to the assessee to respond, as against the mandatory statutory period of at least seven days. However, despite of the fact that the annexure attached to the notice gave the petitioner eight days to respond, the e-filing submission portal was closed earlier, in violation of Section 148A (b) of the Income Tax Act.

Furthermore, the petitioner relied on the decision of Delhi High Court, in the case of Shri Sai Co-operative Thrift and Credit Society Ltd versus ITO, the Delhi High Court in the case held that under Section 148A (b), a minimum time of seven days has to be granted to the assessee to file its reply to the show cause notice.

No objections were raised by the department/respondent to the matter being returned to the Assessing Officer for a fresh decision in accordance with the law. Accordingly, the court set aside the order passed under Section 148A (d) for the Assessment Year 2018-19. The Assessing officer was directed by the court to pass a fresh reasoned order in accordance with the law after considering the reply of the petitioner, which was directed to be filed within a week.

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ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT: ADVOCATES SHOULDN’T ADVISE CLIENTS TO REAGITATE MATTERS IF THERE IS NO ERROR APPARENT ON FACE OF RECORD

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The Allahabad High Court in the case Malhan and 17 Others Vs. State Of U.P. And Another observed and stated that an advocate should be given such a piece of advice when there is no error apparent on the face of the record nor was there any reason why the matter be re-agitated it was finally decided.

The bench comprising of Justice Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Vivek Varma observed while dealing with the civil review application wherein the bench observed the concerned advised his client to make a chance by filling the instant review application after a period of six year.

In the present case, a civil review petition was filled along with the application under section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963., the application was filled for seeking condonation of delay in filling the application, the application was filled with a delay of six years i.e., 1900 days.

It was stated by the applicant that the review application could not be filled due to the blockage of public transportation on account of the COVID-19 guidelines.

Moreover, the court observed that the appeals were disposed of by the Apex Court in the year 2016 and only in 2020-2021, the pandemic struck India and furthermore, it cannot be said that due to the COVID guidelines the public transportation was blocked and however, the applicant could not come to Allahabad Court to file review.

Further, it was stated that the court asked the counsel for the review applicants to explain the delay in filling the review application, to which the council gave a strange reply that the counsel had advised the clients that they must take a chance by filling this review application after a period of six years.

Following this, the Court observed:

The court noted that an advocate should not give such an advice when there is no error apparent on the face of record nor was there any other reason that when the matter was finally decided, why the matter be re-agitated.

It was stated that the court has no reason to condone the delay of six years as the same was not explained as to why this review application is filed after such an inordinate delay.

The Court opined that the lapse in approaching the court within the time is understandable but a total inaction for long period of delay without any explanation whatsoever and that too in absence of showing any sincere attempt on the part of suiter, this would add to his negligence and the relevant factor going against him.

The court observed that careless and reckless is shown by the review applicant in approaching the court and due to the condemnation of delay in the application with a token cost of Rs.10,000/, the court dismissed the application.

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SUPREME COURT CRITICISES HIGH COURT: POSTING ANTICIPATORY BAIL PLEA AFTER TWO MONTHS CAN’T BE APPRECIATED

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The Supreme Court in the case Sanjay versus The State (NCT of Delhi) & ANR observed and stated that in the case where personal liberty is involved, the court is expected to pass orders at the earliest while taking into account the merits of the matter in one way or other. Further, the top court observed that posting of an application for anticipatory bail after a couple of months cannot be appreciated by the court.

The bench comprising of Justice C. T. Ravikumar and the Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a June 2 SLP against the Delhi High Court in a petition filed under section 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B, 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for seeking anticipatory bail in a 2022 FIR, a notice is issued. It was stated that the learned APP for the state is present and accepts the notice and seeks time to file status report. The High Court in the impugned order stated that Let the status report be filed by the state prior to the next date with an advance copy to the learned counsel for the petitioner. The matter is to be list on 31.08.2022.

It was noted by the bench comprising of Justice Ravikumar and the Justice Dhulia that in the captioned Special Leave Petition, the grievance of the petitioner is that the application for anticipatory bail moved by the petitioner, being Crl. M.A. No. 11480 of 2022 in Bail Application No. 1751 of 2022 without granting any interim protection, was posted to 31.08.2022. on 24.05.2022, the bail application was moved on.

However, the bench asserted that the bench is of the considered view that in a matter involving personal liberty, the Court is expected to to pass orders at the earliest while taking into account the merits of the matter in one way or other.

It was declared by the bench that at any rate posting an application for anticipatory bail after a couple of months cannot be appreciated by the court.

Further, the bench requested to the High Court to dispose off the application for anticipatory bail on its own merits and in accordance with law expeditiously, preferably within a period of three weeks after reopening of the Court. Adding to it, the bench stated that if the main application could not be disposed off, for any reason, within the stipulated time, relief sought for in the interlocutory and on and on its own merits, the application shall be considered.

While disposing of the SLP, the bench directed in its order that we grant interim protection from arrest to the petitioner herein, Till such time.

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