Courts need to be seen as working in public interest and upholding the confidence of the common man in the judicial process.
Bull’s eye judgment
You can no longer take the bulls by the horns if the Supreme Court’s judgment on Jallikattu is concerned. Taking objection to the extreme cruelty meted out to bovines during the bull fighting festival in Tamil Nadu, the apex court banned the 4,000-year-old tradition, and prohibited bullock cart racing in Maharashtra, Punjab and other states. While annulling the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act 2009, which allowed bull fighting, a bench headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan observed that torture, fear, pain and suffering undergone by bulls in Jallikattu was unlawful as it violated the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The case was no different in racing, the bench noted. The apex court also struck down the center’s proposal that bulls participating in Jallikattu be made an exception in the list of animals barred from exhibition or trained for performances. The two-judge bench was hearing a petition from the Animal Welfare Board of India which had objected to the use of bulls in Jallikattu, as well use of bullocks in races.
Heartfelt apology pays
Courts need to be seen as working in public interest and upholding the confidence of the common man in the judicial process. And the contempt of court proceedings are crucial in this regard, the apex court felt. While justifying the ruling of the Allahabad High Court which did not take cognizance of an advocate’s apology for contempt of court (for allegations against judges), and packed him off to jail for a month, a bench of Justices BS Chauhan and AK Sikri said courts had the power to dismiss apologies if they felt these were tendered as part of a strategy to wriggle out of imprisonment.
Nevertheless, it reduced the fine amount from Rupees 20,000 to Rupees 2,000. The bench observed that apology
should be seen as genuine, sincere and remorseful; if the person was really sorry, he needed to express it at the earliest opportunity. A late apology, actually went against “contrition”—the whole idea behind the purging of contempt. However, the apex court also made it amply clear that an early apology was not a guarantor of the removal of contempt
of court proceedings against a person. It stated that the concerned courts needed to be convinced that it came straight
from the heart.
Child custody woes
A married woman left her husband in Singapore and came to India with their son, after a marital strife, with the assurance
that she would return after holidaying. However, she decided to stay on in India. The husband filed a petition in the Singapore high court for the custody of the child. The court ordered that the child be brought back to Singapore. The woman didn’t follow the court’s directive. The husband approached the Supreme Court in India. The apex court directed the woman to return with the child and surrender before the Singapore high court. The two-judge bench, however, made it clear that the husband must sponsor their air fare to Singapore and take back contempt proceedings initiated, if any, in the Singapore high court. It even asked him to provide a separate house for the mother and child, and pay them Rupees two lakh.
One has heard of politicians bending backwards to please voters during elections. But, what happens when voters are warned by politicians before polling, to cast ballot in favor of a particular party? Observing the need for ensuring voters’ right to privacy, a two-judge bench of the apex court demanded a response from the center as to why it sat over a suggestion made by the Election Commission (EC) in 2008 to amend Rule 66 A of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961. The amendment would have ensured that voters did not face retaliation from losing politicians. At present, the commission does ward-wise counting and declares the outcome. As a result, politicians come to know about the voting pattern of a particular ward. The bench was responding to a PIL, filed by advocate Yogesh Sehgal, which sought a direction to EC to stop the practice of declaring the result of every polling booth. It pointed out to the pre-poll threat given by Maharashtra deputy chief Ajit Pawar to a Baramati village. Pawar had warned villagers that they will be deprived of water and electricity if they didn’t vote for the sitting Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule. The EC said it had been clamoring for EVMs that enable cluster counting, connecting 15 EVMs at a time, only to reveal the total votes polled by each candidate.