Disputed Supreme Court’s order on salaries to Imams is a betrayal to other religious sects: CIC
Khushi Thawani, 12th December 2022, Mumbai Uncensored:
The highest entity to handle complaints under the RTI Act is the Central Information Commission, and in one of the recent applications, activist Subhash Agrawal submitted an RTI request asking about the salaries paid to imams and muezzins after receiving no response from the Delhi government and Delhi Waqf Board.
Imams filed a petition in All India Iman organization and others v. Union of India and others, 1993, to protect their fundamental rights against exploitation by wakf boards. They based their argument on the discrepancy between the nature of the task and the compensation. And the highest court in the land commanded the Wakf Board to pay the Imams desirable renumeration.
The judgement is clearly a per incurium as it was in violation of the Article 27 of the Indian Constitution, which clearly states that the country does not support any particular religion and shall not be benefitted from the public fund. As India was carved out of a bigger landmass after being divided because of religious clash, it decided to remain a secular country following the principle of Vasudhev Kutumbakam.
CIC commissioner Uday Mahurkar noted that, “The said judgment sets a wrong precedent in the country and has become a point of unnecessary political slugfest and also social disharmony in the society”.
He directed the Delhi Waqf board to compensate RTI activist Subhash Agrawal with Rs. 25,000 to cover his legal expenses and the time he lost looking for an answer to the application. Both the Delhi Wakf Board and the Delhi government provided the activist with unsatisfactory responses.
The abovementioned judgement allowing renumeration to Imams and Muezzins is “not just betraying the Hindu community and members of other non-Muslim minority religions, but also encouraging pan-Islamist tendencies amongst a section of Indian Muslims which are already visible”, the commissioner said.
He revealed that while the Delhi Waqf Board (DWB) receives an annual payment of roughly Rs. 62 crores from the Delhi government, its own income from various sources is just about Rs. 30 lakhs.
Mahurkar said those who justify such steps in the name of protection to religious minorities raise a question that if a particular religious minority has a right to protection, the majority community too has a right to protection in a multi-religious country where it is incumbent that the rights of the members of all religions are protected equally in the interest of inter-faith harmony and unity of the nation.
While dealing with the dispute the commission observed “The monthly honorarium of Rs 18,000 and Rs 16,000 being given to the Imams and Muezzins of Delhi Waqf Board mosques in Delhi is being paid by the Delhi Government virtually from the tax payers money which in turn is in sharp contrast with the example quoted by the appellant in which the priest of a Hindu temple is getting a paltry of Rs. 2000/- per month.
The commission directed that a copy of the order be forwarded to the Union Minister of Law with a recommendation to take appropriate action enforcing Articles 25–28, which will further set an example of equality among all the religious segments of society. The commission did this while keeping the Constitution of India in mind and its secular nature.
Exploring the Implications of State of Jharkhand v. Shailendra Kumar Rai: A Landmark Case for the Indian Judiciary
Priyal Singh, Mumbai Uncensored, 9th March, 2023:
In the area of criminal law, an important legal precedent was established through the case of State of Jharkhand v. Shailendra Kumar Rai. This case examines the legal concept of double jeopardy as well as the rights of an accused person to a trial that is conducted fairly. In the following paragraphs, we will talk about the facts of the case, the legal concerns that were raised, as well as the result that the court came to.
The specifics of the situation
A criminal complaint was lodged against the accused party, Shailendra Kumar Rai, which led to the formation of the legal dispute known as State of Jharkhand v. Shailendra Kumar Rai. The complaint asserted that the accused had committed an offence under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 by issuing a check that was dishonoured by the bank. This allegation was made in accordance with the terms of the statute. The accused was eventually put on trial for the crime, during which they were found not guilty by the trial court
An appeal was lodged with the High Court of Jharkhand by the state administration because it was unhappy with the verdict of acquittal. After hearing the appeal, the High Court reversed the lower court’s decision to acquit the defendant and sent the case back to the lower court for a new trial. Following this, the accused individual submitted a writ appeal to the Supreme Court, in which they challenged the judgement made by the High Court.
In this case, the most important question that was brought before the Supreme Court was whether or not the High Court had the authority to overturn the acquittal of the accused and order a new trial. The accused stated that his constitutionally protected fundamental right against being tried twice for the same crime was breached by the decision of the High Court. This right is provided by the Indian Constitution. The accused further contended that his right to a fair trial would be violated if the retrial that was ordered by the High Court was carried out.
On the other hand, the state government contended that the power of the High Court to overturn an acquittal and order a retrial was an inherent part of the High Court’s appellate jurisdiction. In addition to this, the state administration contended that the retrial that was ordered by the High Court was required in order to ensure that justice was served.
The Court’s Opinion and Decision
After listening to the reasons that were presented by both sides, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the authority of the High Court to overturn an acquittal and order a new trial was not unrestricted. The court made the observation that the right of an accused person not to be tried twice for the same crime is a fundamental one, and that it would be a violation of this right to retry someone who has already been found not guilty.
The court also made the observation that the High Court’s authority to overturn an acquittal and order a retrial could only be employed in extreme cases according to the precedent set by the court. The court decided that such a scenario could only occur if there was a significant error in the trial, such as a flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice or where the trial court had behaved with bias. This was the reasoning behind the court’s decision.
In this particular instance, the court came to the conclusion that there were no extraordinary circumstances that called for the acquittal to be overturned and a new trial to be ordered.
The decision of the High Court was deemed to be incorrect by the court, which resulted in the order issued by the High Court being overturned. Additionally, the court reinstated the order of acquittal that had been handed down by the lower court.
Shailendra Kumar Rai is an important legal precedent because it underlines the idea of double jeopardy and the right of an accused person to a fair trial. This case was brought about by the State of Jharkhand v. Shailendra Kumar Rai. The verdict that was handed down in this case serves as a timely reminder that the ability of the Supreme Court to overturn an acquittal and order a retrial is not unrestricted; rather, it is a discretionary authority that can only be used in extraordinary situations. Even in the face of persuasive arguments presented by the state, the case demonstrates how important it is to defend the fundamental rights of citizens.
Legal: Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India
Priyal Singh, Mumbai Uncensored, 9th March, 2023:
Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India is a landmark case that examines the question of whether or not the right to access the internet is included in the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.
The petitioner, Vivek Narayan Sharma, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to declare the Right to access the internet as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner argued that the internet is an indispensable medium for exercising one’s constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to be informed.
LEADING ARGUMENTS/CONTENTIONS FROM BOTH SIDES:
The petitioner argued that the right to access the internet is an integral part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and that government restrictions on access to the internet violate this right. The petitioner also argued that the government should not restrict access to the internet. Additionally, he argued that the internet is an important medium for the provision of essential services such as education, healthcare, and others.
The government of India argued that the right to access the internet is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India, and that restrictions on internet access are required to maintain public order and ensure national security.
CASES BOTH PARTIES RELIED UPON:
The petitioner relied on several cases, including the Puttaswamy judgement, which recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right, and the Shreya Singhal case, which struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which criminalised certain online speech.
The government relied on the case of Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting v. Cricket Association of Bengal, which determined that the right to broadcast was not a fundamental right. The Anuradha Bhasin case dealt with restrictions on access to the internet in Jammu and Kashmir.
QUESTION OF LAW INVOLVED:
The main question in this case was whether the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution includes the right to access the internet.
GROUNDS AND OPERATIVE PORTION IN THE JUDGEMENT/CONCLUSION :
The Indian Supreme Court has decided that the right to access the internet falls under the purview of Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression. The court also stated that any restriction on access to the internet must be in accordance with the law and the procedure that is established by the law, and it must be necessary for the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to an offence. The court went on to direct the government to publish rules and regulations for exercising the power to temporarily suspend internet services and held that any order passed to suspend internet services must be written and should be open to judicial review. In addition, the court held that any order passed to temporarily suspend internet services must be open to judicial review.
• Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637,
• Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1,
• Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting v. Cricket Association of Bengal, (1995) 2 SCC 161,
• Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, (2015) 5 SCC 1, • Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India, (2021) 7 SCC 1
 Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India, (2019) 264 DLT 389 (ILR).
 Constitution of India, art. 19(1)(a), art. 21,.
 Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, (2015) 5 SCC 1,.
 Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1,.
 Information Technology Act, 2000, § 66A, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000 (India).
 Ministry of Information & Broadcasting v. Cricket Association of Bengal, (1995) 2 SCC 161,.
 Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India is (2020) 3 SCC 637
Pulastya Legal: India’s leading IPR firm led by Mr. Abhishek Sharma and his team
Aishani Sharma & Khushi Thawani, Mumbai Uncensored, 16th February, 2023:
A modest law firm called Pulastya Legal works with clients to offer them excellent corporate and intellectual property legal services. The firm has local offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Jabalpur. It also maintains tight relationships with foreign legal firms, which enhances its capacity to serve clients in foreign regions including North America and Europe.
The firm helps businesses and people preserve their legal rights by concentrating on the protection of intellectual property. Pulastya Legal focus on each customer, regardless of size or status, has contributed to its success.
Companies that create software and mobile apps, private equity and venture capital firms, FMCGs, hotels and restaurants, advertising firms, digital and mobile entertainment platforms, pharmaceutical enterprises, and many more are just a few of the firm’s clients. The firm takes pride in its capacity to develop a close relationship with clients’ businesses and provide them with appropriate advice.
We recently interviewed one of the managing partners of the company who pursued LL.B. (Hons.) from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University in Delhi, India and LL.M. in Intellectual Property, Commerce and Technology from the Franklin Pierce School of Law, University of New Hampshire School of Law. Read his thoughts below:
Q.1 Could you please tell us about your background and how you got into the field of law?
I am a second-generation lawyer, my father was a lawyer and ever since childhood, I have been very fascinated by the legal system. My experience in law school was a combination of positive opportunities from my law school and also much self-reflection. Being the inaugural class of our newly established law school, we had the honor of learning from some outstanding visiting faculty as well. I’ve always loved the general law and order around me, but law school helped me structure that passion and broadened my perspectives on how the law functions in society. My intense interest in law led me to numerous conferences and seminars, and it frequently allowed me to meet legal titans. In law school, I participated in several competitions and learned the art of drafting and oral arguments through moot courts. I particularly identified my interest in Intellectual Property Laws in the 3rd year and started paying more attention to IP-related news and events. I subscribed to almost all the literature available in the libraries and became a keen consumer of knowledge. In my 5th year, I even enrolled for a Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Laws, from FICCI, where I learned about global IP laws, which took me a step closer towards my LL.M from the US.
Q2. What inspired you to start your own law firm?
After my education and experience of receiving an LLM degree from a top U.S. law school and working with a California-based law firm, I have always been passionate about using my expertise to help businesses and individuals navigate the complex world of intellectual property laws. After 8 years of practising IP law with a US law firm, I felt the pull to start my own firm where I could offer clients personalized and innovative solutions to their legal needs.
The inspiration to start my own law firm came from a desire to offer clients a unique and customized approach to IP law. In many large law firms, clients can often feel like just another case file, and their needs can get lost in the shuffle. With my own firm, I wanted to provide a more personal touch, taking the time to understand each client’s unique situation and goals and working with them to find the best solution for their needs.
In starting my own IP law firm, I also saw the opportunity to bring my years of experience and expertise to a broader range of clients. With offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi, I am able to serve clients across India and around the world, helping them protect their valuable intellectual property assets. Whether they’re inventors, entrepreneurs, or large corporations, I am committed to providing them with the highest-quality legal representation and the best possible outcome.
Overall, starting my own IP law firm has been a challenging and rewarding experience, and I’m proud to be serving clients from all over the world. With my unique combination of education, experience, and expertise, I am confident that we can offer clients the high-quality legal representation they deserve.
Q3. Can you describe the services your law firm offers to clients?
My firm, Pulastya Legal is a boutique law firm engaged in providing high-quality intellectual property and corporate legal services to its clients. The firm has continuously worked to provide its clients with the best and most responsible guidance and service, taking into account the demands of a developing and competitive legal market. Pulastya Legal has been able to carve out a niche for itself in the legal industry owing to a relentless focus on knowledge management, effective client communication, and relationship management. At the firm, we support each and every clients, whether it was a matter of selecting the best kind of business entity for their enterprise, negotiating and drafting legal agreements, such as vendor agreements, employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements, etc., or safeguarding and upholding their trademarks, copyrights, patents, and design rights in India or abroad.
Q4. How does your law firm approach clients’ legal needs and work to find the best solution for their situation?
At our IP law firm, we approach each client’s legal needs with a focus on their unique business goals and budget constraints. Our goal is to provide customized and cost-effective solutions that meet each client’s individual needs and help them protect their valuable intellectual property assets.
We believe in maintaining the nobility of the legal profession and working with clients to build long-term relationships based on trust and mutual respect. This is why we take the time to understand each client’s situation and needs and work closely with them to develop tailored legal strategies that meet their goals and budget.
One of the ways we approach clients’ legal needs is by taking a collaborative and consultative approach. We work with clients to identify the challenges they’re facing, and then develop legal strategies that help them overcome those challenges and achieve their goals. Whether they’re looking to protect their patents, trademarks, or copyrights, we help them navigate the complex world of IP law and find the best solution for their situation.
Another important aspect of our approach is our commitment to providing high-quality legal representation at a fair price. We understand that legal services can be expensive, which is why we work with clients to find cost-effective solutions that meet their needs and budget. Whether they’re a small startup or a large corporation, we are committed to providing them with the highest-quality legal representation and the best possible outcome.
Finally, we believe in building long-term relationships with our clients. We understand that legal needs can be ongoing, which is why we aim to be a trusted and reliable partner for our clients. Whether they need ongoing support and advice or occasional legal representation, we are always here to help and provide the guidance they need to succeed.
Q5. What sets your law firm apart from others in the industry in terms of services and approach to practicing law?
Our law firm sets itself apart by offering customized services that are tailored to the best interests of our clients. Our approach emphasizes building a human connection and maintaining open communication, which sets us apart from more traditional firms. We try to build connections beyond the invoices. Additionally, our ability to connect with clients of all generations and jurisdictions is another factor that sets us apart in the industry.
Q6. How does your law firm handle international trademark, copyright, patent and design applications, prosecution, enforcement, transfer and licensing issues?
During my LLM, I strategized my courses in a manner that I am able to build an international practice, I selected a subject called International Trademark Registration Procedure which basically was a practice-based study on how a trademark is filed and protected in several countries like India, USA and China. I regularly network with attorneys and attend events and conferences to keep myself updated. Even though we cannot practice in these international jurisdictions ourselves we work through a network of attorneys.
Q7. How do you stay current on the latest developments and changes in intellectual property laws and regulations?
A dedication to ongoing education and study is necessary to stay up to date on the recent advancements and modifications to intellectual property laws and regulations because Intellectual Property Laws are very dynamic. A few strategies I follow for staying current are as follows:
- Attending conferences and workshops related to intellectual property law
- Reading relevant legal journals and publications
- Following relevant organizations and forums, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- Engaging in online communities and forums with other intellectual property professionals as it is important to network and collaborate with other intellectual property professionals to share insights, knowledge, and best practices.
Q8. Can you speak to the importance of protecting intellectual property in today’s global marketplace?
Protecting intellectual property (IP) is critical in today’s global marketplace for several reasons. Here are some of them:
- Competitive Advantage: Protecting IP rights such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights help businesses maintain a competitive advantage by preventing others from using their unique ideas, products, or branding. This protects a company’s investments in research and development, as well as its reputation and brand identity.
- Valuation and Investment: Companies with a strong IP portfolio can use it as a valuable asset to secure investment and funding. It can also increase the value of the company and make it more attractive to potential investors.
- Encourages Innovation: Protecting IP rights encourages innovation by providing incentives for individuals and companies to invest in the development of new ideas and technologies. This is essential for driving economic growth and development.
- Facilitates Global Trade: Protecting IP rights helps facilitate international trade by ensuring that businesses can freely trade and license their IP assets. This is particularly important in the global marketplace where companies often have to navigate different IP laws and regulations in different countries.
- Protects Consumers: IP rights protect consumers by ensuring that they have access to safe and reliable products and services. This helps prevent counterfeit or imitation goods from entering the market and puts consumer health and safety at risk.
Q9. How does your firm approach working with clients to understand their unique needs and develop a customized strategy for protecting their intellectual property rights?
We typically approach this by facilitating close working interactions with clients to understand their unique needs and develop a customized strategy for protecting their intellectual property rights. We do an Initial Consultation where we schedule a meeting with the client to understand their business, goals and objectives, and to assess their current IP portfolio. Then we assess their IP assets by conducting a thorough assessment of the client’s existing IP assets, including trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. We identify the risks that could impact the client’s IP assets, including infringement, dilution, and misappropriation and based on these findings we help them in the development of IP Strategy.
Q10. What do you see as the future of intellectual property protection and how does your law firm plan to stay ahead of the curve?
The future of intellectual property protection is rapidly evolving and will continue to do so with advancements in technology and changes across the globe. Here are a few key trends that are shaping the future of IP protection and how our law firm plans to stay ahead of the curve:
Technology and AI: With the rise of technology and artificial intelligence, IP protection is becoming increasingly complex. Our law firm is staying ahead of the curve by staying up-to-date with the latest developments in technology and AI, and working with clients to protect their IP rights in this rapidly changing landscape.
Globalization: Our law firm has a global network of attorneys that enables us to provide comprehensive IP protection services to clients around the world.
New Business Models: The rise of new business models and the gig economy is challenging traditional IP protection methods. Our law firm is adapting to these changes by working with clients to find creative and innovative solutions that protect their IP rights in the new economy.
Educating Ourselves on changing Laws: IP laws and regulations are constantly changing, making it challenging for businesses to stay up-to-date. Our law firm is dedicated to staying ahead of the curve by staying informed about changes in IP laws and regulations and providing our clients with the latest information and guidance.
Q11. How does your firm handle disputes or conflicts that may arise in the course of protecting a client’s intellectual property rights?
At Pulastya Legal, we understand that disputes can arise in the course of protecting a client’s intellectual property rights. Our approach to resolving such conflicts is to provide our clients with effective, efficient, and cost-effective services. Here are the steps that we take to do so:
Assessment: Our first step is to conduct a detailed assessment of the dispute or conflict. This includes gathering all relevant information, reviewing relevant laws and regulations, and identifying the best course of action.
Negotiation: Whenever possible, we aim to resolve disputes through negotiation and mediation. Our team of experienced lawyers has the skills and knowledge to negotiate a resolution that meets the needs and interests of our clients.
Litigation: If negotiations are unsuccessful, our firm is prepared to litigate disputes in court. Our team of litigators has a deep understanding of IP law and a proven track record of success in complex IP disputes.
Alternative Dispute Resolution: In some cases, alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration or mediation may be more appropriate for resolving a conflict. Our law firm is equipped to handle such cases and can provide our clients with the guidance and representation they need to resolve disputes.
Continuous Support: Our law firm provides ongoing support to our clients throughout the dispute resolution process. We work closely with our clients to ensure that they are fully informed and involved in the process and that their rights and interests are protected.
Q12. Can you discuss your firm’s approach to balancing protecting a client’s intellectual property rights while also promoting innovation and creativity in society?
We believe that while it is difficult, it is still possible to strike a balance between protecting a client’s IP and promoting innovation by adopting an approach that is in line with the law and the best interest of the client, who may think that the best way is to protect his IP first. Here are some things that we do:
Understanding Client’s Reasons: If the purpose of the client is to merely reserve the IP in his name for the time being but is ready is give it up later for the greater good, we support him. The key is to understand his reasons for protecting his IP and listen to him.
Not driven by Billings: Even though there is pressure in our law firm to constantly find ways to make money, we don’t push the client to file a trademark or patent applications, just so that bill the clients for work done. There have been many instances where we spend substantial time with the client only to realize that we should NOT protect his IP because someone already owns it. In those cases, we end up waiving off our charges for an initial consultation and advise him to work on a new product or a service. It results in financial loss to us, but we believe that we, at least protect the IP rights of the original owner of those innovations.
This also creates long-term loyalties with our potential clients, and we end up being their go-to attorneys for future matters.
Q13. How does your law firm collaborate with other professionals and organizations to provide a comprehensive approach to protecting intellectual property rights?
I believe that collaboration is an important aspect of the practice of law that has the potential to bring many benefits to both lawyers as well as their clients. We collaborate with counsels and engage in cross-referrals to ensure that our clients receive a seamless and integrated approach to intellectual property protection. Such referrals allow us to maintain and build relationships thereby increasing business opportunities. We also frequently participate in speaking engagements by various professional organizations, such as TiE, and several law colleges across the country to stay connected with the intellectual property community and to facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices. Additionally, we utilize advanced technologies and tools to conduct IP searches, analyze and monitor our client’s trademark, and track changes in IP law, which helps us to provide timely and effective advice to our clients. By leveraging these relationships and resources, my law firm can provide clients with a comprehensive and effective approach to protecting their intellectual property rights.
Q14. What advice would you give to individuals and businesses looking to protect their intellectual property rights?
The most important advice I would like to give to individuals and businesses is to make sure you budget for legal expenses. Branding plays an important part in any business; it is important to protect your brand identity and ensure that your brand’s interests are protected. I urge businesses to file for protection of their brand’s trademark, copyright or patent, in order to secure their intellectual property rights. Businesses can implement strong safeguards, such as non-disclosure agreements, to protect confidential and proprietary information. And most importantly, you must monitor the market regularly to detect potential infringements of your Intellectual Property and take appropriate action if necessary.
Intellectual Property Right is the present and the future of the world, keeping in mind the growth of businesses and startups in the world. The field is extremely diverse and competitive, and achieving the level of success that Pulastya has achieved is no piece of cake. The inspiration to make Intellectual Property Rights reach the lowest of the population is what makes him and his law firm stand out amongst the pool of IPR experts out there. Read more about Pulastya Legal at www.pulastyalegal.com and connect with Mr. Abhishek Sharma on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/attorneyabhishek/
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