Connect with us

Law & Justice

HP High Court Orders Video Conferencing For Recording Evidence



HP High Court Order Video Conferencing for Evidence

Shimla-Last week an order has been passed by Hon’ble Justice Tarlok Chauhan of Himachal Pradesh High Court for taking evidence through video conferencing, rather than having the physical presence of the doctor in the Courtroom.

The order is thoughtful and is important in light of the fact that Doctors often have to appear in courts as expert witnesses to give their testimony in various legal cases. This leads to the neglect of the patients and also consumes precious time and resources required by the hospitals.

To meet such contingencies where the attendance of witness cannot be procured without an amount of delay, expense or inconvenience , the Courts have been bestowed with ample discretion to dispense with such attendance and order videoconferencing for taking evidences. In exercise of this discretions Courts are expected to adopt procedures which facilitates dispensing speedier and convenient justice.

However the practice is fairly alien to our State and remotely practiced in our country, the reason being lack of infrastructure and a lack of initiative, nonetheless there is a breath of fresh air from the recent order which has been passed by the Hon’ble High Court of H.P.

In a recent study, it was found that video conferencing as a substitute for physical presence in courts led to 43% drop in the monthly mileage of vehicles, 49% reduction in the fuel cost per month, and 28% savings in terms of time consumed for court duties. Satisfaction score for parameters of time consumed, physical strain, mental strain, communication with Honorable Judges, and overall experience was 87% through tele-evidence as compared to 31% with physical appearance. (Journal of Med. (2018). Tele-evidence 64(4), 206–211. doi:10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_243_17)

We have had very few instances where studies such as above have been utilised to undertake judicial reforms. Its only through efforts of innovative judges and lawyers that such practices have been adopted. For example in a similar case the apex court in 2003, in State Vs Doctor Praful B Desai, permitted recording of evidence of witness (doctor) staying abroad through video conferencing. The court stated;

“The Constitution and existing laws have to be looked into for discerning challenges thrown up due to emerging technological innovations. They have to be interpreted keeping this dynamic in mind”

There are various guidelines that are given from time to time by superior courts regarding the recording of evidence through video conferencing. Law applicable to such evidence recorded in courts includes 272 to 283 Cr.P.C. and Order 16, 18 etc. C.P.C. with some changes to avoid some technical issues.

By amendment in Cr.P.C in 2009, a proviso was added to subsection (1) of section 275 Cr.P.C. which states as follows:

“Provided that evidence of a witness under this subsection may also be recorded by audio-video electronic means in the presence of the advocate of the person accused of the offence”.

Video conferencing is extremely useful in criminal cases as the burden on the police significantly reduces, the task of ensuring safety and providing security to the accused and witnesses is a challenge when at the same time the force is required elsewhere for doing various routine functions. In the most infamous case of Md. Ajmal Kasab the court permitted Kasab to appear through video conferencing, as the issues of security and convenience weighed heavy on its head.

In another case Bombay High Court taking suo-motu cognizance of a letter written by Shaikh Abdul Naeem, who was one of the accused in the Aurangabad Arms Haul case had directed the Maharashtra government to install video conferencing facilities in all courts in the state by the end of March 2017.

Last year in February 2018, it was reported that Jammu bench of Jammu and Kashmir High court for the first time heard 11 cases listed before Srinagar wing of High court through video conferencing.

The Division Bench of Madras High Court created history when it conducted the court proceedings over Skype from Chennai for the first time in a case related to 89 inmates of an unauthorized private children’s Home for girls run by Mose Ministries in Turuchi. In this case, girls rescued from the brothels in Delhi were repatriated and rehabilitated in their hometowns in several parts of India. To avoid any discomfort to them the court decided to take evidence through video conferencing.

Apart from India, there is a body of jurisprudence that has emerged in England through Roman Polanski’s case where the test of convenience, affordability and reliability of video conferencing have been accepted and is being used by the courts in a routine fashion. (Polanski v Condé Nast Publications Ltd [2005] 1 WLR 637.).

The order of the H.P high Court is hopefully the start for the building of infrastructure for this purpose in the State Courts and taking such an approach more often.

The great J.Bhagwati had once stated ;

“We cannot allow the dead hand of the past to stifle the growth of the living present. Law cannot stand still; it must change with the changing social concepts and values. If the bark that protects the tree fails to grow and expand along with the tree, it will either choke the tree or if it is a living tree, it will shed that bark and grow a new living bark for itself. Similarly, if the law fails to respond to the needs of changing society, then either it will stifle the growth of the society and choke its progress or if the society is vigorous enough, it will cast away the law which stands in the way of its growth. Law must therefore constantly be on the move adapting itself to the fast changing society and not lag behind”

Note: The order has been passed in an individual case and may not be construed to be a regular practice of the Hon’ble Court, the same depends upon case to case basis.

Law & Justice

Majesty of The Court and Sexual Harassment



Everything about SC Justice Gogoi Sexual Harrassement

The first principle of natural justice consists of the rule against bias or interest and is based on three maxims:

  • No man shall be a judge in his own cause
  • Justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done and
  • Judges, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion

Having the above cardinal principles in mind, it is sad to see what has happened in the Hon’ble Apex Court today. The Court assembled to hear a matter involving sexual harassment charges against the Chief Justice. The three-judge bench was surprisingly headed by the Chief Justice himself. The matter was listed on the pretext that issues of grave public importance concerning ‘independence of the judiciary” were involved. Eventually, an order was passed which was only signed by two judges, excluding the Chief, even though he was a part of the bench. The order advised media to show restraint. (which amounts to a partial gag). The order also stated that no action on the judicial side would be taken at this moment, ironically the order itself is a judicial act.

There seems to be a concern that ‘faith of the people in the institution’ which is of paramount importance is under threat due to the scandalous allegations made against a sitting CJI. However, it is the firm opinion of the author that the Hon’ble Chief Justice is not the institution, nor is any individual judge or a lawyer. The institution is standing on the values which have evolved through hundreds of years of evolution and practice.

In the present matter what can save the dignity of the office is a meticulous, transparent and impartial inquiry which can act as a disinfectant to such allegations. The use of the judicial/constitutional office to term the allegations as outrightly scandalous, and also taking up the matter on the judicial side on an urgent basis is highly questionable. Perhaps the best possible recourse would have been to follow the established procedure which is applied in regular sexual assault complaints. The law and procedure for sexual harassment at the workplace are well established, and the law is the same for all. A strong presumption is on the word of women in such cases and the complaints have to be taken seriously.

Law is a noble profession, the practitioners have to lead by example and have to be ready for the strongest of tests in the face of such allegations.

Having said that, it’s my duty to remind the readers of one more cardinal principle before they go through the factual matrix, that ‘a man is innocent until proven guilty‘,.


In an affidavit addressed to the Supreme Court, the former Court officer has alleged that following the sexual assault incident, she as unceremoniously terminated from her post. Moreover, she alleges that the trail of harassment has followed since her termination, culminating in a frivolous FIR filed in March this year against her and her family.

Proceedings of the bench as reported by journalists from within the courtroom;

CJI Bench assembles.

CJI speaking about criminal cases against the lady who alleged sexual harassment against him “This is unbelievable. I should not stoop low even in denying it.” A bank balance of Rs. 6 lakh 80 thousand is all I have as bank balance”, CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

They cannot catch me on money, so they have brought up this. This is the reward a CJI gets after 20 years and a bank balance of Rs. 6,80,000. Independence of judiciary is under very very serious threat. I had to tell this from the judicial seat”, CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

“Less than 10 hours notice was given to me to respond. What I want to tell citizens is that judiciary of this country is under serious threat”, CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

“I will sit on this Bench and discharge my duties without fear and favour till my tenure is over”, CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

SG Tushar Mehta says it should be taken very very seriously.

“Things have gone too far. Judiciary cannot be made scapegoat”, CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

“Rubbish being published”, SG Tushar Mehta.

I am an officer of this Court, I was also under attack for defending the government, AG KK Venugopal.

Why would any sane person want to become a judge, reputation is all that we have. And that is also under attack, CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

We are not passing any judicial order at this moment. We, however, ask media to show restraint, responsibility and wisdom so that independence of the judiciary is not affected by baseless allegations, Supreme Court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta prods the Bench to register a complaint in his name but court refrains as of now.

Bench rises

In a response made today, the Supreme Court Secretary General’s office the Court stated;

“The allegations regarding 11 October 2018, as well as other allegations as can be discerned from your emails, are completely and absolutely false and scurrilous and are totally denied.

The registry of the Supreme Court of India had posted this individual, who was employed at a level equal to a lower division clerk, in a routine manner at the residence office of the Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India, where in addition to her, there were several other employees also working as a part of the home office of the CJI, and at any given point of time, there were atleast 5-6 other present as a part of the home office of the CJI.

She worked as part of the home office of the Chief Justice of India only for a short period, and as informed, given the nature of her duties, she had no occasion to interact directly with the Chief Justice of India.Ms. ABCDEFGHI was dismissed from service as per procedure.

Her brother-in-law was terminated as he was only a temporary employee at that stage and his performance and conduct was reported not to be satisfactory. It is not open to anyone to make unsolicited calls or uninvited approaches to the office of the Chief Justice of India, especially an employee who has already been dismissed, and who previously engaged in inappropriate conduct.

Since unsolicited calls and messages were received by the office of the CJI, a complaint had been made by the registry of the Supreme Court. Whether departmental enquiry was initiated against any member of her family by the Delhi Police, is something which the Delhi Police authorities might have done as per rules. The motive behind these false and scurrilous allegations is obviously mischievous.

As referred to in your letter, there is a criminal case pending against her, where very serious allegation has been made, of her having taken a bribe to assure employment in the Supreme Court of India. It has been learnt that there is an application for the cancellation of bail earlier granted to her, which is listed for hearing on 20.04.2019 on account of her having made threats to the complainant of the said case.

It would be extremely relevant to mention that the concerned individual and her family have criminal antecedents. There were previously 2 criminal cases which had been instituted against her i.e. (1) FIR No. 484/11, P.S. Hari Nagar u/s 324, 341, 354, 506, 34 IPC; (2) DD No. 30A dated 05.03.2012 u/s 107/150, IPC, P.S. Hari Nagar, SEM Court, Moti Nagar. Throughout her employment in the Supreme Court, whether during her posting at home office of the CJI, or even subsequently after she was transferred out of the home office of the Chief Justice of India, or at the time she was terminated, or even thereafter, there were no complaints made by her of the nature now being alleged. It is not only mischievous but a complete afterthought of her to make these false allegations at this time.

In fact, on the other hand, in the interregnum, there were complaints made against her by the secretariat of the Chief Justice of India, to the Secretary General on account of her inappropriate behavior, and this resulted in her transfer out of the home office of the CJI.

Apart from the misconduct formally recorded in the complaint by the secretariat, there were other counts of misconduct on her part. It appears that these false allegations are being made as a pressure tactic to somehow come out of the various proceedings, which have been initiated in law, against her and her family, for their own wrong doings.

It is also very possible that there are mischievous forces behind all this, with an intention to malign the institution. Secretary General, Supreme Court of India”

Complaint Letter and Sworn Affidavit that the complainant has sent to the Judges of the Supreme Court of India discloses that (DISCLAIMER: Name of the woman has been changed to “X” to protect her privacy);

May 2014 –       X, whose husband is a head constable in the Delhi Police and mother of a 7-year-old daughter, is appointed Junior Court Assistant in the Supreme Court of India.
–       She is posted to the Legislation section of the Supreme Court Library
–       Her job involves typing and documentation work in the library.
–       During court hours she is sent to different courts to help Court Masters with arranging books and judgments during court proceedings and answering the intercom.  
2015 X enrols for an LLB degree in CCS University, Meerut while she is employed.
May 28, 2015 X  receives her Annual Confidential Report (ACR) evaluating her work between May 2014 – March 21, 2015. Her grading is “Good”
2015 X is assigned to work in Justice Vikramjit Sen’s court for close to 10 months
August 5, 2016 X receives her second ACR for the period April 1, 2015 – March 21, 2016. Her grading “very good”
October 2016 X is assigned to work as Junior Court Assistant in Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s court, since his regular junior court assistant had gone on leave. Her work involves providing support to Court Masters during court proceedings.
2016-2018 X continues to work in Justice Gogoi’s court
January 2018 X does not go to Justice Gogoi court for 10 days because she was preparing for her LLB exams. She did this with permission from her immediate boss. She takes a few days off to appear for her LLB exams.  
January 2018 –       X rejoins court work.
–       Justice Gogoi calls X to his chamber in the Supreme Court for the first time. He tells her she was good at her work in getting citations; he enquires about her areas of interest and her family; and he asks if she would be able to do research.

  He also asks how she balances her professional and private life.  
January 2018 – May 2018 –       Justice Gogoi assigns work that is of a more responsible nature, not part of her mandate, and for which she has no training – that of preparing case summaries. Justice Gogoi would tell her to speak her mind and not worry
May 2018 –       Just before court vacations, Justice Gogoi invites her to a staff lunch on May 19, 2018.
–       X attends the lunch
May 19, 2018 to July 1, 2018 Summer vacations in the Supreme Court
–       Justice Gogoi summons her to his residence from the library landline. He informs her of a book launch at the Constitution Club that he insists she should attend along with her husband
–       Justice Gogoi calls her again a few days later insisting that she attend the book launch and to bring her husband along as the programme would end late
–       X and her husband attend the book launch
July 2, 2018 –       The Supreme Court reopens after the summer vacations –       Justice Gogoi calls all his staff for a meeting
–       Justice Gogoi specifically asks X about her vacations, her daughter and the work assigned to her
July 2018   –       Justice Gogoi continues to assign case briefs to her
–       On one occasion Justice Gogoi gives X some sweets to give to her daughter –       He asks her to bring her husband to meet him on July 31, 2018
July 31, 2018 –       X’s husband comes to meet Justice Gogoi, following the judge’s request.
–       Justice Gogoi spends two hours with both of them.
–       Justice Gogoi tells her husband in Hindi that the work X is doing is well above her rank (jis rank par kaam kar rahi hain, is level se bada upar hain)
–       He also tells the husband that if X works hard, she will reach high in her profession (agar mehnat kare to bohot upar pahunch sakti hain)
–       Justice Gogoi also tells both of them to approach him if they have any difficulties
August 2018   –       Justice Gogoi asks X about her exam results and compliments her on her marks
–       He says she should be doing something better than “pulling out books” as “any illiterate person can pull out books from the court”  
August 2018 –       Justice Gogoi summons X to his chamber in court; expresses irritation that she had not taken his calls
–       When she says that she had not received any calls from him, he demands to see her phone to check her call logs. She explains that she had blocked unknown numbers.
–       He crosschecks by calling her number and when he sees the call does not go through, he asks her to save his number. She also changes the setting on her phone
–       He gives her another number which he says is his private number  and only another member of this trusted staff has, and yet another number which he says is to be used for WhatsApp communication
–       Justice Gogoi says he will be using these numbers to communicate confidential information and that she should not receive calls on this number in front of her family  
August 2018 –        Justice Gogoi continues to summon X to his chamber in the Supreme Court and to assign work to her.
–        He would WhatsApp and call several times during the day, during non-court hours and late evenings
–       He instructed her to call him in the morning from her home to find out if he needed books and other materials to be kept ready for him at the Supreme Court chamber
August 2018 –       Justice Gogoi calls X to his chamber where he informs her that he will soon be the Chief Justice of India and that he needs staff that he can trust and are competent.
–       He says he needs someone to work out of his residence office and informs her immediate superior
–       Justice Gogoi instructs X to speak to his Private Personal Secretary, HK Juneja to discuss the modalities of the transfer
–       Juneja discusses with X the need to maintain confidentiality at all times
–       Juneja also mentions that she is the youngest employee to be appointed to the post
–       She expresses her gratitude
–       Juneja also assures her that her work timings will remain the same as before viz 10am to 5pm
August 11, 2018 onwards –       X is posted at the residence office of Justice Ranjan Gogoi at 10, Tees January Marg, New Delhi and the staff member who was already at the office is transferred back to the Supreme Court
–       X senses some resentment for being a junior employee with no knowledge of shorthand like the other staff
August 27, 2018 –       The official transfer order regarding X’s transfer to Justice Gogoi’s residence office is issued.
–       Even though the office timings were initially between 9 am and 5 pm, X is required to arrive at 8 am
–       She also finds that the two officers who were on the morning shift at the residence office are shifted to the afternoon or evening shift.
–       A staff member with the ability to take shorthand, assigned to train X, is also moved to the afternoon shift at 3 pm.
–       Justice Gogoi’s timings are 8am-9: 45 am at the residence office in the morning, when X is summoned several times. He would return from the Supreme Court at 4:30 or 5 pm.

–       During this period Justice Gogoi calls X to his residence office room and instructs her to send him a “Good Morning” message every morning on WhatsApp
–       Even though she finds it “strange”, she starts messaging him every morning at around 6-6: 30 am
–       He also asks her to inform him on WhatsApp that she had reached home after work.
–       On days that she forgets, he sends a “?” message and seeks an explanation the following day.
–       He comments that he has noticed on WhatsApp that she is up at 12 midnight.
–       Every morning, on reporting to work, Justice Gogoi asks to see her phone and instructs her to delete all message from him
–       She assumes this is the norm, since the work she does with the judge is confidential

–       On one occasion, he tells X she is one among his three assets that include his wife and daughter.
–       “You will be the third person I will be inviting,” he says of his oath-taking ceremony for becoming the Chief Justice of India
–       He asks her to work diligently without taking any leave as he is due to become the Chief Justice
–       He arranges a car assigned to NALSA to drop her off at the nearest metro station when she mentions problems at home due to long work hours
–       Justice Gogoi repeatedly tells X that he is in a position to help her
–       He offers to provide her accommodation close to his residence so that she is readily available for work
–       She declines his offer and informs him that she is comfortable with her present accommodation
–       She informs the judge of her disabled brother in- law in need of work
–       Justice Gogoi promises to help once he is Chief Justice
–       He tells X as Chief Justice he will be able to use his discretionary quota to make appointments to the Supreme Court registry
October 2018 Preparations for Justice Gogoi’s oath-taking ceremony as Chief Justice of India
–       X is asked to work on preparing for a celebratory party
–       X’s husband is invited to the party
October 2, 2018 Party at Justice Gogoi’s residence
–       X meets Justice Gogoi’s daughter and son-in-law. Takes photo.
October 2018 Justice Gogoi’s swearing in ceremony
–       X and her husband are officially invited
–       She is one among a select few whose spouses are invited to the ceremony
October 10, 2018 –       The Chief Justice calls her to his room; asks her to sit on a chair across his desk and tells her that her brother in-law had been appointed even though he was found to be medically unfit.
–       X expresses her gratitude  
October 10, 2018 –       It is the first day of Navaratri and X is not in her standard black and white uniform but in coloured clothes
–       Chief Justice tells X, “You are looking pretty good today”

Justice Gogoi is now Chief Justice of India
–       Chief Justice Gogoi asks for her brother in-law’s resume
–       A few days later, he is interviewed and appointed court attendant through the Chief Justice’s discretionary quota.
October 10, 2018 –       The Chief Justice asks her at this stage:
–       “What can you do for me?”
–       X says she is grateful, and her whole family is grateful
October 10, 2018 –       The Chief Justice, who is standing next to her, places his hand at the back of her head and slides it along her back to her hipline till her lower back
–       X stiffens; the Chief Justice senses her resistance, pulls her cheeks and says he behave like his with his daughter too
–       The Chief Justice again asks X what she can do for him. She repeats she is grateful
–       “No, no I know you will not speak, so write it down and show me,” he says
–       The Chief Justice then continues to assign official work to her –       X is stunned at the Chief Justice’s behaviour but carries on with her work
October 11, 2018 –       In the morning, the Chief Justice summons X to his residence office.
–       She stands by the door with her notepad and pen as is the norm
–       Chief Justice asks her to sit across the desk from him
–       He comments that her whole family must be happy with the brother-in-law’s appointment
–       He says “If you put on weight, you will look good”
–       The Chief Justice offers her sweets that are in his room and says it is she who should be giving him sweets  because of the brother-in-law’s job
October 11, 2018 –       The Chief Justice of India again asks A: “So what can you do for me?”
–       He asks her if she had written down anything about what she could do for him.
–       She remembers writing the following: “Your Lordship is a blessing to me; words cannot describe how thankful I am; I will always be grateful for all that Your Lordship is doing for me; my entire family is grateful; I am grateful for your support.”
October 11, 2018 –       The Chief Justice reads the piece of paper
–       He gets up from his chair and walks across to the left of where X is sitting.
–       X stands up as the Chief Justice is also standing
–       He takes the notepad from her hand and put it on the desk
–       He pinches her cheeks
–       He then puts his arms around her waist from the front
–       The Chief Justice says, “I want this from you”
–       He hugs her from around her waist
–       He touches her all over her body with his arms
–       He presses his body against hers
–       He does not let go of her
–       He tells her, “Hold me”.
–       She struggles to move away but since the Chief Justice refuses to let go, she pushes him away with her hands
–       Because of the force she uses, he hits his head against a bookshelf/cabinet.
–       X leaves the Chief Justice’s office room in a state of shock
October 11, 2018 –       A few minutes later after the above incident, X is summoned again to the Chief Justice’s office
–       He tells her not to share what has happened in his room with anybody (Jo yahan hua hai, you will not share with anybody)
–       X is afraid and agrees
–       The Chief Justice then dictates to X to write on the piece of paper she has with her “I will not harm your dignity, will you let me hold you”
–       Even though X realizes she was being manipulated, out of intense fear, she writes as he dictates.
–       X is unable to work that day. She is dizzy and in a state of shock and unable to work and leaves for home.
October 11, 2018 –       On reaching home X finds she has received several calls from Badar, Administrative Department, Supreme Court Registry and Mathani, Secretary General of the Supreme Court, asking after her welfare. This is the first time that she has received calls from both persons
–       When Badar asks her if all is well between her and her husband, she realizes that the Chief Justice has “concocted a story” since all the staff had noticed that her behaviour had not been normal that day
October 11, 2018 –       X calls the Chief Justice on his phone to tell him she can no longer work for him
–       He does not receive the call
–       He asks his personal secretary to tell her not to disturb the Chief Justice at that time, even though it had been normal for him to send her WhatsApp messages late into the night.
–       She hears from her neighbours later that the SHO from the Tilak Marg police station had called the President of the colony where she lives to find out if all was well between  her and her husband
October 12 2018 –       The Chief Justice’s behaviour has changed dramatically
–       He says her family will greatly be disturbed if the incident of October 10 is disclosed.
–       He stops calling her to his residence office as often
–       When he does summon her to his office, he asks a peon to accompany her and insists on leaving the office door open
–       He tells her to continue sending “Good Morning” messages and to behave and work normally
October 2018 –       X is stressed and unable to function normally. The staff notice and question her. She does not talk about the incidents to anybody, not even her husband.
–       A week after the incident she informs the Chief Justice that she will be unable to work from his residence office  
October 22, 2018 –       X is moved out of the residence office of the Chief Justice to the Centre for Research and Planning in the Supreme Court.
–       When her immediate superior comments that she has got such a senior post she says everything is not as it seems “jaisadikhtahaiwaisahotanahinhai”
End October, 2018 –        The Chief Justice visits the Centre for Research and Planning with Justices Bobde and Ramana. He tells the two judges that I am a good worker and bright.
–       A few days later he asks the Secretary General to bring her to his Supreme Court chamber where he asks her if she is willing to rejoin his court.
–       X firms refuses
November 16, 2018 X’s seat is changed to the Administrative Material Section.
November 17, 2018 –       X applies for leave as it is a Saturday and she needs to attend her daughter’s school function
–       Her supervisor advises her to report to work after the function.
–       The function goes on till 12:15pm and as Saturday is half day, she informs the supervisor who she has been in touch with throughout the day, that she will be able to attend office because of the delay.
November 19, 2018 –       X is issued a memorandum that rendered her liable for disciplinary action under the Conduct Rules
–       The reasons given for the memorandum include: o   Questioning the decision of senior officers regarding change of posting and seating o   Taking unauthorized leave
November 22, 2018 –       X submits her written reply explaining that she had not sought to change seats, nor questioned her senior officers’ decision.
–       She submits that she had applied for casual leave on November 17 and had been unable to attend office after her daughter’s school function because it had overrun into the afternoon and Saturday was a half day working day only
November 22, 2018 X is transferred to the Library Division – her third transfer in one month
November 26, 2018 X receives a memorandum stating that her explanation of November 22 was not found satisfactory and that further action is contemplated under the Supreme Court Officers and Servants (Conditions of Service and Conduct) Rules, 1961
November 27, 2018 –       X receives a suspension order, stating that disciplinary proceedings were being contemplated against her.
–       For the first time after the incidents involving the Chief Justice of India, she tells her husband about her sexual harassment at the hands of the Chief Justice
November 27, 2018 X receives another memorandum stating that an enquiry was being instituted against her for committing misconduct under Rule 13 of the Supreme Court Officers and Servants (Conditions of Service and Conduct) Rules, 1961. The charges include:
–       Showing dissatisfaction with seating arrangements
–       Exerting pressure to have seating changed
–       Unauthorizedly absenting herself on November 17, 2018
November 27, 2018 X’s husband, Head Constable in Delhi Police is suddenly transferred from the Crime Branch division in the third battalion
December 6, 2018 X denies all charges against her with respect to the departmental inquiry being instituted for her misconduct.
–       With regard to the seating arrangement, X explains in her reply that the fact that she had within three weeks been posted in three different places had made her anxious and she had expressed her anxiety to the Branch Officer, Administrative Materials Section
–       She denied exerting pressure to have her seating changed. She only expressed her worry at the frequent change and had asked to find out if she had done anything wrong
–       Her reply with regard to her taking leave on a Saturday to attend her daughter’s school function remained the same as before
December 10, 2018 X receives notice that a Departmental Enquiry is being conducted. Surya Pratap Sigh, Registrar is appointed Enquiry Officer
December 15, 2018 X writes to Surya Pratap Singh saying that she would like to appoint a defence assistant.
December 17, 2018 –       X is asked to appear for her defence statement at 10:30 am –       While waiting to be called in to the enquiry room, X faints and is rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in a state of unconsciousness.
–       The medical report that X received from the hospital attests to the fact that she was brought  to the hospital by staff and in an unconscious state
December 18, 2018 –       X is informed by the Registrar (Admin) that a departmental enquiry conducted against her had found all charges levelled against her to be proved.
–       The report says X was given an opportunity to lead defence evidence, but she had not appeared; as a result, the enquiry had proceeded ex parte
December 20, 2018 –       X’s husband submitted her defence statement to the Registrar in which she denied all charge
–       He also submitted a note stating that she had had to be hospitalized, and was taken from the Supreme Court premises just before the enquiry proceedings had begun on December 17, 2018  
December 21, 2018 X is dismissed from service without granting her any opportunity to rebut the charges against her
December 28, 2018 X’s husband, and his brother, who is also a constable in the Delhi Police, receive a call that they have been suspended
December 29, 2018 X’s husband, receives a letter of suspension. No reason is given. The letter says he is suspended “pending enquiry into conduct”
December 29, 2018 Realising that every member of their family was under attack and believing that the attack was on account of X’s rejection of the sexual advances made by the Chief Justice of India, X’s husband calls HK Juneja, the personal secretary to the Chief Justice of India, to seek help to set up a meeting with the CJI. Juneja denies any knowledge of their situation
December 31, 2018 X’s husband is informed that a complaint had been made against him for making unsolicited calls to the Chief Justice’s personal secretary
January 2, 2019 X’s husband receives orders from the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Vikas Puri stating that departmental action was being initiated against him for making unsolicited calls to the office of the Chief Justice. This, the order said, amounted to official misconduct
January 9, 2019 –       X’s husband receives yet another order from the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Vikas Puri stating that he had links with local gamblers and had approached the SHO Tilak Nagar to allow ‘satta activities’ and that disciplinary activities would be initiated. It mentioned a 2012 criminal complaint against him and his brother, a complaint that had been compounded  on January 12, 2017.
–       X’s husband was transferred from 3rdBn DAP to 2nd Bn DAP so that joint departmental enquiries could be carried out against him and his brother
January 10, 2019 –       X’s husband was summoned by Naresh Solanki, SHO, Tilak Marg, Police Station where he (X’s husband) was told that if X apologized to the Chief Justice of India, their problems would be solved –       On asking him what we needed to apologize for, the SHO said he had no idea
Continue Reading

HW Community

Rafale Deal – Analysis of Petitions in the Supreme Court



Rafale Review Petition Analysis

Shimla-A three judge bench of the Supreme Court unanimously has ruled as admissible the ‘secret’ documents, containing file notes of the Defence Ministry, that had been annexed to the review petition that was filed in the case relating to the purchase of the Rafale aircraft.

The documents were released by the newspaper ‘Hindu’ and state took an objection in the Supreme Court that such documents may not be allowed , however the Hon’ble court rejected the contention of the Government and stated that admissibility of the secret documents, including a claim of privilege under Section 123 of the Evidence Act which was misplaced.

Further, the Hon’ble Chief Justice in his Judgement with respect to publication of the documents in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper, reminded us of the consistent views of the Supreme Court in upholding the freedom of the press in a long line of decisions commencing from Romesh Thapar vs. State of Madras and Brij Bhushan vs. The State of Delhi.

This means that these documents will now be treated like any other document for admission and the court will have the power to look into them. The review petition will now be heard on merits.

What does this petition alleges and what will the Hon’ble Supreme Court now be adjudicating upon;

The procedure for purchasing defence equipment is elaborately laid down in a Defence Procurement Procedure document which has been amended from time to time. However broadly from 2001 till date, the PROCEDURES in place provide the following:

  1. The Services Head Quarters have to give their requirements for the quality and quantity of the equipment that they need. This is called the Services Qualitative Requirement (SQR)
  2. Thereafter the matter goes to a larger body called the Categorisation Committee which then decides whether the equipment could purchased/ made domestically or would have to be purchased from abroad or a combination of the two.
  3. Thereafter an even higher body called the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approves the quantity, quality and whether the equipment should be purchased/made domestically or purchased from abroad or a combination of the two. The DAC gives it’s approval called the Acceptance of Necessity.

It is only then that tenders are issued.


In 2007, after going through the above procedure tenders were issued by the Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 126 fighter aircrafts and it was specified in the Request for Proposal that 18 of these aircrafts would be purchased from abroad in a ‘fly-away’ condition and the remaining 108 would be manufactured in India in the factory of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with transfer of technology from the foreign vendor. Six companies had applied and after extensive trials by the Air Force two were short listed. After that the financial bids were opened and Dassault Company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft was declared the lowest tenderer and thereafter price negotiations began. These negotiations were at a very advanced stage (95% complete) by 25th march 2015.


However within 15 days of this, the Prime Minister of India and the President of France announced a totally new deal jettisoning the virtually complete 126 aircraft deal and the Prime Minister on behalf of India agreed to purchase only 36 Rafale Aircrafts in a ‘fly-away’ condition without any transfer of technology and make in India. It later turned out that the new deal involved 50% of the value of the contract to be given as “offset contracts” to Indian companies and that the government informally told Dassault and the French government that the bulk of the offset contracts would have to be given to a company of Mr. Anil Ambani which had just been set up. When the final contract was signed after price negotiations, it transpired that the price of the aircraft had been increased to more than double to what was under consideration in the old deal of 126 aircrafts.

The Petitioners tried to file an FIR which was not registered by CBI. Ultimately, the petitioners filed the writ petition feeling aggrieved by this non-registration of FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a written complaint that was made to the CBI on the 4th of October, 2018 in relation to above-mentioned facts.

The Offences

According to the petition Offences under S. 7 and S. 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act are made out, these have been elaborated below;

  • That high ranking public servants, unilaterally, in violation of all mandatory procedures, without obtaining any SQRs from the IAF, or any decision of the Categorisation Committee or any Acceptance of Necessity from the Defence Acquisition Council, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the French regarding purchase of just 36 Rafale aircrafts, all in a ‘fly away’ condition with no Transfer of Technology and no Make in India.
  • That they did so after virtually scrapping the earlier procurement process for 126 aircrafts, which had followed all due procedures, and was in accordance with the specifications of the Indian Air Force. In the process, all important strategic objectives of the earlier procurement procedure that were on the basis of institutions authorised to do so, were eschewed. Consequently, just 36 aircrafts were arbitrarily purchased, with no make in India and no Transfer of Technology against the determination of IAF Services Head Quarters, the Categorisation Committee and the Defence Acquisition Council.
  • That under the earlier deal, HAL was to be the production agent for Dassault in India and there was no scope for Mr. Ambani to be a offset partner.
  • That this act of unilaterally changing the deal by bypassing all laid down procedures, was to ensure that Mr. Ambani could be brought in as an offset partner for the purpose of obtaining for him offsets worth thousands of crores.
  • That the French government as well as the Dassault Aviation company were told that this contract of 36 ‘ready to fly’ aircraft will be only given to Dassault Aviation, if they gave the major part of the offset contracts in this deal to Mr. Anil Ambani’s company.
  • That Mr. Anil Ambani’s recently incorporated company had no credibility or even eligibility to be an offset partner for Dassault. That therefore, the thousands of crores to be received by RAL through the offset contract are substantially in the nature of commissions.
  • That the price of the aircrafts in the new deal has been increased from approximately 700 crores per aircraft to over 1600 crores per aircraft without any legitimate public interest.
  • That the facts mentioned above show two things; (a) that Indian public servants asked Dassault to give the major offset contracts in this deal to Anil Ambani’s defence company as a condition for getting the contract; & (b) that the offset contracts worth tens of thousands of crores which have been awarded to Reliance are not and cannot be considered to be legal remuneration for services actually rendered or services which could credibly be rendered by Reliance Aerostructure Limited.
  • Therefore, these offset contracts and the payments made/to be made for them are at least in large part in the nature of undue advantage/illegal gratification/commissions to be paid to the Reliance under this deal. It is clear therefore that public servants in India have abused their positions to give an undue advantage to Anil Ambani’s Reliance company as a consideration for the discharge of his function as a public servant to award the contract of purchasing 36 Rafale jets from Dassault in a ‘fly away’ condition.

The Supreme Court can now order a CBI investigation if it finds merit in the claims of the petitioners.

Continue Reading

Law & Justice

High Court Issues Show Cause Notice to A Sessions Judge for Cancelling Bail In Reckless Manner



ACcused in Himachal denied bail because he was drunk

Shimla- High Court recently issued a show cause notice to a Session Judge in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, for passing an order in a reckless manner and cancelling bail of the accused.  The notice was issued by Hon’ble Justice Tarlok Chauhan.

The Judge specifically mentioned that the smell of alcohol was emanating from his mouth and sent the accused to judicial custody.    

The Hon’ble judge also noted that the order was without any sanctity of Law.

The Sessions Judge in its order had observed:

…the smell of alcohol is badly emanating from the mouth of accused. The act and conduct of the accused while appearing in this court under the state of intoxication in a sessions trial being faced by him is not upto the mark. As such, he is not entitled to enjoy the discretionary relief of bail granted by this court. Henceforth, his bail bonds are cancelled and forfeited to the State of HP and he is committed to judicial custody till 27.3.2019.

The high court stated in its order;

If at all the bail of the petitioner was to be cancelled, it could have only been done in accordance with law….the impugned order not only exhibits the wanton breach on the part of the Presiding Officer of the governing principles of law and procedure, but has been passed in the most reckless manner in utter disregard to legal principles,

the court said, while setting aside the order of the Sessions Judge.

The HC also observed that no overt act was found on part of the petitioner, nor was the petitioner causing any obstruction in the Court proceedings.

The court further noted that the session judge appeared to have felt offended by the very fact of the petitioner coming to the court after taking liquor, but that by itself could not have been a ground for cancelling ‘bail’.

It ordered the release of the accused and proceeded to issue show cause notice to the Sessions Judge asking an explanation, as under what provisions of the law he had chosen to pass the order for cancelling bail.

The next date of the hearing has been fixed for April 16, 2019, by the high court.

The High Court is the custodian of the rights, which are granted to the citizens of this country and the most cherished of these rights is the right of personal liberty. When it comes to granting bail what is at stake is, ofcourse, liberty itself. 

Since this right is so fundamental, the criminal law and the Constitution prescribes a very strict standard of scrutiny whenever this right has to be curtailed. Some of the important factors which are to be taken into account while deciding bail applications are;

  • Whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence
  • Nature and gravity of the charge;
  • The severity of the punishment in the event of conviction;
  • The danger of accused absconding or fleeing if released on bail;
  • Character, behaviour, means, position and standing of the accused;
  • Likelihood of the offence being repeated;
  • Reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being threatened; and
  • Danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of bail
  • While a vague allegation that accused may tamper with the evidence or witnesses may not be a ground to refuse bail, if the accused is of such character that his mere presence at large would intimidate the witnesses or if there is material to show that he will use his liberty to subvert justice or tamper with the evidence, then bail will be refused.

The rule of criminal law which says “bail is a matter of right, jail is an exception”, this principle emanates from the strict stand taken by the court while issuing this order.

This also signifies that institutions cannot take “liberty” lightly and deal with it in a casual manner. The case also sets a standard of judicial scrutiny and discipline which is expected by the High Court from subordinate judiciary.

Continue Reading