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Review: Kerala HC Observes That Government Lands Cannot be Encroached Upon for Religious Purposes as it Could Lead to Religious Discord

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In this edition of Court Judgements, we look at the Kerala HC’s decision that government lands cannot be encroached upon for religious purposes as it could lead to religious discord, Madras HC’s ruling that morphing and uploading a woman’s picture on social media not only affects her and her family, but also the entire society, especially young social media users, Madras HC’s observation that Public servant’s spouse should dissuade them from taking bribe, among others.

Kerala HC: Government lands cannot be encroached upon for religious purposes as it could lead to religious discord

In Plantation Corporation of Kerala Limited vs. State of Kerala, the Kerala High Court examined a writ petition filed by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala, who had leased an immovable property from the state government. The petition claimed that extreme groups had repeatedly tried to erect religious structures, such as temples and Thrishuls, and expand the worship of a small idol on the corporation’s property. The petition also stated that a law and order situation arose when the corporation attempted to prevent the construction of religious structures or encroachments by these groups. It was further alleged that political factions attempted to trespass and encroach on the leased government lands. 

Justice P V Kunhikrishnan of the Kerala High Court observed that the corporation’s workers, predominantly Hindus, had built small structures and installed deities in them due to a lack of nearby worship places. The Court ruled that the construction of illegal religious structures under the pretext of religious worship is not allowed. It also stated that government lands cannot be encroached upon for religious purposes as it could lead to religious discord. 

Emphasizing that the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom does not permit citizens to occupy government land for constructing religious structures, which disrupt communal harmony, the Court asked District Collectors to act on Village Officers’ and Tahsildars’ reports to evict illegal religious structures to uphold the principles of a ‘Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic.’ The court gave the state a time of six months to identify and remove encroachments on government land. 

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Madras HC: Morphing and uploading a woman’s picture on social media not only affects her and her family, but also the entire society, especially young social media users

In Haj Mohamed vs. State, the petitioner was arrested and put in jail in February 2024, for sending obscene and vulgar messages to a woman’s brother on Facebook and creating a fake Instagram ID with the morphed images of the woman’s brother’s wife. The petitioner is accused of harassing the woman and her family.

Justice B Pugalendhi of Madras High Court observed that the allegations against the petitioner were serious and could cause harm not only to the woman and her family but also to society as a whole, especially the younger generation who use social media. The judge also noted that the petitioner had committed a serious offence by morphing a woman’s picture and uploading it on social media. Citing the serious nature of the offence and taking into consideration the potential impact on society, the court denied bail to the petitioner. The judge also noted that while the offences for which FIR was registered are bailable, the offence under Section 67A of the IT Act was an exemption. Under Section 67A of the IT Act, the offender is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years, which is not bailable.

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Madras HC: Public servant’s spouse should dissuade them from taking bribe

Both Deivanayaki and her husband, Sakthivel, a Sub-Inspector of Police in Karur District, were convicted in 2016 under the Prevention of Corruption Act for accumulating assets 115% over his lawful income. Sakthivel died during the trial while Deivanayaki challenged her conviction and the one-year sentence awarded by the Special Judge at Trichy in Deivanayaki vs. State

Justice K K Ramakrishnan of the Madras High Court emphasized the duty of a public servant’s spouse to dissuade bribery, arguing that accepting bribes ruins not only the individual but also their family. He highlighted that enjoying money obtained through corruption leads to its pervasive nature, suggesting that those who profit from it should face the consequences. 

Even though Deivanayaki claimed that she received money as loans from her father and father-in-law for construction, the court found no evidence of this or of the necessary permission for such loans according to the Tamil Nadu Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1973. Consequently, the court dismissed her appeal, maintaining the conviction, stating that Deivanayaki had not sufficiently accounted for the income. The Madras High Court refused to set aside the conviction and sentence of Deivanayaki, stating that she should face consequences for her husband’s actions under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The court emphasized the need to discourage corruption and held that the appellant’s life ‘was a bed of roses’ with the ill-gotten money and so was held accountable for the consequences.

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SC: Tenants are liable to pay mesne profits to landlords as compensation if they continue to stay after termination of agreement

The case, Bijay Kumar Manish Kumar HUF vs. Ashwin Bhanulal Desai before the Supreme Court, revolves around a landlord-tenant dispute between Bijay Kumar Manish Kumar HUF, the landlord, and Ashwin Bhanulal Desai, the tenant, concerning four tenancies situated in Kolkata, India. The central issue at hand is determining the applicable legislation governing the dispute: the West Bengal Tenancy Act, 1997, or the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. According to the landlord, the lease was forfeited due to non-payment of rent back in 2002, and non-payment of municipal taxes since 1996.  He initiated eviction proceedings under the Transfer of Property Act. However, the tenant contested this, arguing that the West Bengal Tenancy Act should govern the matter.

The Trial Court initially ruled in favour of the landlord, stating that the Transfer of Property Act was applicable. However, the High Court overturned this decision on appeal and held that the matter was under the West Bengal Tenancy Act. The Supreme Court was considering the landlord’s petition to issue an order compelling the tenant to pay ‘occupational charges’ at the prevailing market rate for the duration of the legal proceedings

Referring to past cases, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices JK Maheshwari and Sanjay Karol observed that if the tenant were found to be wrongfully occupying the property, the landlord could seek mesne profits at a later stage once the lease was legally terminated. The Court considered the tenant’s prolonged non-payment of rent, the prime location of the property, and the landlord’s significant financial losses, and directed the tenant to deposit the claimed dues of Rs. 5,15,05,512 with the Court within four weeks. This deposit, however, remains subject to the final outcome of the case, ensuring a just and balanced resolution pending further adjudication.

Punjab HC: Failure to fulfil promise of marriage does not automatically constitute rape unless there is an “intention to deceive”

According to Live Law, the case, XXXXX vs. XXXXX before the Punjab High Court, stemming from a 2012 FIR, involved allegations that the accused raped the alleged victim after she voluntarily left home with him, believing they would marry. Justice Harpreet Singh Brar observed that there was no evidence or testimony indicating the promise to marry was made in bad faith or with the intent to deceive. The victim had met the accused only once before deciding to elope, making it highly implausible that the promise was false from the outset. Additionally, during her time with the accused, the victim did not resist or raise any alarm, which suggested her consent. The Court emphasized the necessity of genuine consent for a rape charge, distinguishing between an unfulfilled promise made in good faith and one made with malicious intent. The Court also noted that while consent obtained under a misconception of fact could invalidate it, there was no such evidence in this case. Consequently, the Court concluded that the essential elements for the offence under Section 376 IPC were not present, leading to the acquittal of the accused and the discharge of all charges against him

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A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.

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