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Legal Bites brings you a roundup of Important Legal Updates of 2021, which played a significant role.
I. 30 Days’ Notice not a mandate under Special Marriage Act
The Allahabad High Court held that couples planning to marry under the Special Marriage Act might choose not to issue a 30-day notice before registering their marriage. Acting on its own terms, it is a violation of fundamental rights of liberty and privacy. It’s an invasion of their privacy to post a notice that includes the names and contact information of the wedding couple. (Nida Rehman v. Union of India, 2021)
II. RBI introduced Legal Entity Identifier System
Reserve Bank of India announced the adoption of the Legal Entity Identifier System for all transactions of fifty crores or above (Real Time Gross Settlement) through NEFT/RTGS.
Legal entities participating in financial transactions can now be identified with the help of a new system. As a means of enhancing the reliability and accuracy of financial data, the central bank has implemented the system in its daily operations. Banks are required under the system to include the sender’s and recipient’s names and addresses.
The twenty-digit number serves as a unique identifier for all parties involved in financial transactions around the world. By the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
III. Supreme Court’s Green Signal to Central Vista Project
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Central Vista Project on January 5, 2020. The Lutyen’s Garden in New Delhi will be renovated as part of the Central Vista project. It includes the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament, India Gate, and North and South Blocks of the Indian government.
IV. Section 32 A, IBC not unconstitutional: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has maintained the constitutionality of section 32 A of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. The apex court ruled that the winning bidders for a corporate debtor are exempt from any Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code inquiries by an investigating body (such as the Enforcement Directorate or other statutory agencies such as SEBI).
A fair price for the corporate debtor is critical to the success of IBC, the Supreme Court stated. This is critical to completing the insolvency resolution procedure in a timely manner. The Supreme Court further stated that these bidders should be shielded from past transgressions. This protection should be extended to the corporate debtor’s assets as well.
As per the section, the corporate debtor who has committed an offence prior to the bankruptcy resolution procedure shall be exempt from prosecution, in a way it grants immunity to their assets and property. Nevertheless, protection is offered when a resolution plan is approved, leading to a change in managerial control. The Petitioner to the suit claimed this provision as unconstitutional for it grants the corporate debtor’s property a form of immunity that is not well deserved.
V. Uttrakhand gives Co-ownership rights to women in husband’s property
As a result of a new law passed by the Uttarakhand government, women now have the legal right to share in their husband’s ancestral property. In light of the large-scale migration of males from the state’s hill regions in search of work, the state legislature passed the ordinance. It was enacted in order to help women who are left at home and rely on farming to sustain themselves financially.
As the first state to do so, Uttarakhand now allows women to share in the ownership of ancestral property. Husbands and wives work side by side in the state, particularly in the steep areas. However, it is common practise for husbands to perform physically demanding tasks like ploughing the field.
The majority of farm work is done by women, however, accounting for 90 per cent of the hours worked. Despite this, the efforts of women are not acknowledged, and they have no legal claim to the property. It’s good news for women who work on fields owned by their husbands that Uttarakhand’s government has decided to make it easier for them to transfer ownership rights to their sons. In addition, the women will be able to secure loans for farm-related projects as they will now have ownership rights in the property.
VI. Central Government introduced New Social Media Rules
On February 25, 2021, the Central Government issued new social media rules. Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 are the official name of the regulations. According to the new principles, social media and over-the-top platforms will be regulated. With the goal of making social media more accessible to the general public, the government has issued new guidelines on digital media and OTT.
As a result of the new regulations, the government hopes to create a process through which citizens can file complaints and have their complaints promptly addressed. It aims to address a wide range of people’s issues and dispel any misconceptions about the limitations on creative expression and free speech. The guidelines were crafted to account for the vastly different numbers of people who watch movies and television shows, respectively, compared to those who do so online. Information Technology Act, 2000, section 87 (2) guided the development of these new social media principles.
VII. Anti-Conversion Bill passed by Madhya Pradesh State Assembly
“Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021,” sponsored by the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, has been passed by the state assembly. This bill has taken the place of an ordinance passed by the government to check for false religious conversions. The new bill has replaced the ordinance approved by the government in December 2020 and signed into law in January 2021.
The bill includes penalties of up to ten years in prison and a fine for those who break the law. According to several Supreme Court rulings, states and courts cannot interfere with an adult’s right to choose a life partner. Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal instances have also shown that religious conversions without a bona fide belief and for the purpose of obtaining a legal advantage are not reasonable.
VIII. Delhi is now under Lieutenant Governor
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 has come in force which grants the Lieutenant Governor precedence over the elected Government. Sections (21, 24, 33, and 44) of the 1991 act have been changed by this act. According to the NCT of Delhi, the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi is referred to as the ‘Government’.
According to the legislation, any executive decision based on Cabinet or ministerial decisions must first seek the advice of LG. In addition, the Act grants the LG broad discretionary authority in areas where the Legislative Assembly has the authority to enact legislation. Assembly and its committees are prohibited from creating rules to initiate matters of daily administration or to inquire about administrative judgments.
IX. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution
Public Interest Litigation (PIL): The Supreme Court rejected a request from an Indian politician to criminalise superstition, black magic and false religious conversions. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Article 25 of the Constitution is violated by this PIL. The word “propagate” in Article 25 of the Constitution, according to the bench led by Justice R F Nariman, provides the right to religion.
X. The Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021 notified
The Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021, were published by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It was necessary to make the change in order to bring the country’s current Copyright rules into line with other pertinent legislation. An Annual Transparency Report will be required of the Copyright societies every year.The changes have brought the Copyright regulations in line with the 2017 Finance Act. Appellate and Copyright Boards were combined to accomplish this goal.
There have been significant reductions in the compliance requirements for registration works. This means that the applicant can now submit the first ten and last ten pages of source code without obscuring or redacting any of the content.
The Central Government has been given more time to reply to an application. The central government will now reply to copyright society registration applications within 180 days. To ensure that the application is thoroughly investigated, this has been done.
XI. Right to Privacy extinguishes after death: Madras High Court
The right to privacy of a deceased person cannot be inherited, according to the Madras High Court. J Jayalalitha’s niece, Deepa, has petitioned the High Court to halt the distribution of her biopic, “Thalaivi.” The former CM’s life is the inspiration for the film. The petitioner claims that the film defames her reputation.
In addition, it is impossible to film Jayalalitha’s life storey without including the lives of her relatives. By doing so, you’ll be violating her privacy. The High Court ruled that the CBFC’s certificates apply to the movie. Furthermore, the CBFC has not yet watched the film. In addition, a person’s personality, privacy, and reputation are all lost upon death.
XII. Section 142, Social Security Code, 2020 Notified
According to Section 142 of the Social Security Code 2020, the Ministry of Labor and Employment has just issued a notice. This section deals with the Aadhhar’s applicability. The Ministry of Labor and Employment will be allowed to gather Aadhaar information from participants of several social security programmes thanks to the notification.
This also applies to seasonal and temporary employees, such as those who travel frequently for their jobs. In order to benefit from government programmes, an employee, unemployed person, or any other person must provide their Aadhaar number. Some of the advantages include obtaining cash for medical illness or receiving services from the career centre or earning remuneration as an insured person, among other things.
XIII. Maratha Reservation Law is unconstitutional: Supreme Court
Maratha reservation in the state was ruled down by India’s Supreme Court because it exceeded the 50% reservation cap. Maharashtra’s law guaranteeing reservation for the Maratha community in employment and public education was struck down in order to accomplish this.
XIV. Section 66A IT Act: A Zombie Law
Supreme Court has sent the government a notice on the usage of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which was abolished in 2015. PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) filed a petition with the Supreme Court, and the court issued a notice of hearing. More than 745 cases are still in the hands of district courts in 11 states, even after the legislation was struck down seven years ago, according to the petition.
Using data from Internet Freedom Foundation, which tracked instances under “Zombie Laws,” which have been found invalid but are still being used to prosecute people, the plea was entered. Around 1307 cases were recorded under Section 66A even after the Shreya Singhal Judgment of March 2015 ruled it down. According to India’s Attorney General, KK Venugopal, statute books still contain Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which was found to be unlawful.
It is against the law to send “offensive” messages by computer or any other communication device, such as a mobile phone or tablet, according to Section 66A of the IT Act. In this section, “offensive and menacing” and “false to create inconvenience, insult, danger, obstruction, injury, hostility, criminal intimidation or ill will” were used to punish online expression.
XV. State Governor can grant clemency: Supreme Court
On August 3, 2021, the Supreme Court declared that the Governor of State can grant clemency to inmates, even those who have been sentenced to death. This was recognised and noted by the Supreme Court bench when examining the practicality of Haryana’s remission policies. Even if a prisoner has served at least 14 years of their sentence, the governor has the authority to pardon them.
In addition, the bench ruled that the Governor’s ability to pardon supersedes a requirement granted in Section 433A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. If a prisoner has served at least 14 years in imprisonment, he or she may be eligible for parole.
Section 433-A of the Code cannot and does not impede the constitutional power of the President or Governor to grant a pardon under Articles 72 or 161 of the Constitution, according to the Bench’s opinion. The sovereign has the authority to use this kind of power. Governor, on the other hand, will have to follow the guidance and counsel of the State Government in making decisions. The state administration, not the governor, actually exercises the governor’s sovereign right to pardon a prisoner under Article 161, according to the court.
XVI. Temple’s Land belongs to Deity: Supreme Court
A supreme court bench led by Justices Hemant Gupta and A. S. Bopanna ruled that a temple’s land belonged to Deity. The panel ruled that a priest cannot be referred to as Bhumiswami by the courts (owner of land). The land is held by the priest for the exclusive purpose of managing temple goods. The name of the deity is all that is needed in the ownership column, according to the SC bench, because the deity is the legal owner of the land.
The deity also has a hand in occupying the land, which is done by servants or managers on the deity’s behalf. A person’s occupation does not need to include the name of their boss or priest. According to the MP Law and Revenue Code, 1959, the state government issued two circulars, which Madhya Pradesh challenged in a PIL. Both circulars ordered the removal of priests’ names from the list of revenue collectors in an effort to prevent temple property from being sold without permission.
XVII. Indian Railways to compensate passengers for trains running late: Supreme Court
Indian Railways must compensate passengers if the train runs late, according to a recent Supreme Court decision. The Indian Railways were chastised by the Supreme Court for running trains late and ordered to pay a man Rs 30,000 in compensation for missing his flight as a result of the delay.
Due to a train delay, a man was forced to endure a great deal of inconvenience. Competition and accountability are now a part of everyday life, according to SC. It is necessary for public transportation to enhance both its system and its working culture if it hopes to compete with the private sector companies. Passengers are not at the mercy of the administration or authorities. One must take responsibility for their actions.
XVIII. Madras High Court overturned Central Government concerning speed limit on highways and expressways
The Madras High Court (HC) overturned the Central Government’s 2018 regulation, which set the speed limit on highways and expressways at 120 kilometres per hour. According to the Motor Vehicles Act, the court’s decision was reached after a hearing before the HC. An appellant, K Shyla, had requested an increase in the amount of compensation he was given. The speed limit was set at 120 km/hr on expressways, 100 km/hr on national highways, and 60 km/hr for M1 cars in the federal government’s notification.
XIX. Supreme Court: NGT have suo moto power to hear environmental cases on its own
“National Green Tribunal does have suo moto powers and it can hear environmental cases on its own,” the Supreme Court said in a landmark decision. Amidst claims that the NGT has the authority to consider environmental issues on its own, this order was issued. It was underlined by the court that any alternative interpretation would be against the public interest and would leave environmental watchdogs ineffectual and powerless. If this choice is not made, it will have a negative impact on the country and its citizens. Efforts to improve the environmental legacy for future generations will be made possible by this adaptable method for dealing with environmental harm and climate change.
XX. PM Modi withdrew the three Farm Laws
On November 19, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the national government would withdraw the three farm laws. Farmer protesters were told to go home by the president. One year after farmers across the country began protesting against the farm bill, the decision was made to repeal it. Farmers were worried that these regulations would eliminate the Minimum Support Price (MSP), a price guarantee on specific commodities provided by the Centre. In the long run, it will put farmers in the hands of huge corporations.
 The Wire Staff, January 2021, Allahabad HC says 30 days Prior Notice in Special Marriage Act No Longer Mandatory, The Wire.
 Rajiv Suri v. Delhi Development Authority & Ors. (2021) Transferred Case (Civil) Case No. 299/2020.
 JSW Steel Limited v. Mahendra Kumar Khandelwal & Anr. (2021) C.A. (AT) (Insolvency) No. 957/2019.
 February 2021, Uttrakhand Government brings ordinance to give co-ownership rights to women in husband’s property, The Economic Times.
 25th February 2021, Government announces new social media rules to curb its misuse, The Hindu.
 8th March 2021, Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021 passed in Assembly, The New Indian Express.
 29th April 2021, Amendments to GNCTD Act, 1991 Do not Alter Constitutional and Legal Responsibilities of Elected Government in Respect of Transferred Subjects in State & Concurrent Lists, Ministry of Home Affairs. Available Here
 9th April 2021, SC rejects plea for directions to curb forced religious conversions, black magic, The Print
 8th April 2021, Government notifies Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021, The Economic Times.
 17th April 2021, Right to privacy, reputation extinguishes after death: HC, The Hindu.
 5th May 2021, Supreme Court declares Maratha quota law unconstitutional, The Hindu. See also: Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister, Maharashtra, 2021 SLP (C) 15737/2019.
 9th July 2021, Zombie Law: Section 66 A must not torment people anymore, The Times of India.
 4th August 2021, Governors can pardon prisoners including death row ones: Supreme Court, The Hindu.
 7th September 2021, Temple land belongs to deity? Here’s what Supreme Court observed, The Hindustan Times.
 8th September 2021, Railways must pay compensation to passengers if trains run late, rules Supreme Court, The Hindu.
 14th September 2021, Madras High Court quashes Centre’s notification on speed limits on highways, The Hindu Business Line.
 7th October 2021, NGT has suo moto powers to take action in environment-related matters, rules Supreme Court, Financial Express.
 20th November 2021, PM Narendra Modi withdraws three farm laws, asks farmers to go home, Business Standard