Legal Bites brings you a roundup of Important decisions of the Kerala High Court (2023), which played a significant role

Legal Bites brings you a roundup of Important decisions of the Kerala High Court (2023), which played a significant role. It will help the readers to remember all legal and current updates of 2023 pertaining to the Kerala High Court in the most efficient and easy way.

Important Judgments of Kerala High Court (2023) - Legal Bites Year Update

1. Acquittal of parents who disposed of daughter in the Arabian Sea

On 22nd November 2023, in the case of Prathibha v. State of Kerala (2023), the Kerala High Court convicted a couple for offences under Sections 302, 201, and 34 of IPC. The convicted parents stated that they were under the impression that their daughter was dead which is why they disposed of her in the Arabian Sea but the Kerala High Court declined to entertain this facet and instead quoted that an act performed by a person on a body which he/she believed to be lifeless, would attract the offence punishable under Section 299 of IPC.

The daughter rather died as a result of her head hitting a rock when she was thrown into the sea and so the parents were held responsible for causing her death.

2. Denial to grant a divorce to husband on grounds of cruelty

On 17th October 2023, in the case of X v. Y (2023), the Kerala High Court denied divorce to a husband who had challenged the decree for restitution of conjugal rights which his wife had obtained. The facets posed by the husband to prove cruelty by his wife against him were all disproved which led to rejection of his appeal. The court stated that it is imperative to differentiate between the incidents of cruelty and simple actions for desperation which are rather an outcry for help. The wife’s email to her husband’s employer was concluded to be desperation and not cruelty.

3. When retention of marriage itself is cruelty, divorce must be granted

On 20th September 2023, in the case of Ramanadhan v. Raji (2023), the Kerala High Court stated that while it had itself asked the parties to consider the revival of their marriage before granting the divorce, it was impossible to get things back to normalcy and the most prudent decision was to grant a divorce.

The court relied on Amar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511 and quoted that “keeping parties together despite the irretrievable breakdown of marriage amounts to cruelty on both sides" and thus divorce was granted to the parties.

4. Reliance on DNA Tests to ascertain paternity cannot be placed

On 18th September 2023, in the case of Sujith Kumar S. v. Vinaya V.S, the Kerala High Court stated that it is imperative to note that DNA tests are to be used for rebutting the proposition of 'conclusive proof’ for paternity instead of ascertaining paternity in true essence. No suspicions are to be entertained on this ground that there is doubt regarding paternity.

5. Order of the Kerala High Court to make Police Officers more aware of proper implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

On 13th September 2023, in the case of XXX v. State of Kerala (2023), the court stated that it is highly imperative for a fair and impartial trial that the accused person must not be prejudiced. The same is also guaranteed by way of Article 21 which reiterates that justice must not be hampered in any way in the interest of the victim and the society. The order convicting a person who is mentally of unsound mind was set aside by the High Court of Kerala in place of Section 105 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. The court quoted:

"the whole idea is to facilitate a person of unsound mind to stand trial, not only because of his reasoning capacity but also to treat him as the one who has a disability. The role of the Court is to find the remedial measures and do complete justice.”

6. No offence under Section 292 of IPC if pornographic content is being watched in private

On 5th September 2023, in the case of Aneesh v. State of Kerala (2023), the court stated that while it is immoral and unethical for minor children to watch pornographic content which is freely available on all mobile phones, the same cannot be made an offence. If a person is watching porn in private then that does not constitute any offence under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code as the same is being done in his privacy and the act being done is not an offence in itself.

7. Pre-arrest bail granted in a rape case where the victim received Rs. 5000 as proved by WhatsApp chat

On 1st September 2023, in the case of Umesh v. State of Kerala (2023), the court stated that in a case where offences under Section 376-D of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 67-A of Information Technology Act, 2000 were alleged, the court was presented with a WhatsApp chat screenshot which proved that the victim had voluntarily gone to the hotel and that she had also consented to the sexual intercourse. In addition to that, there was also a payment of Rs. 5000 made to the said victim.

8. No prosecution of Huband’s Live-in partner for cruelty under Section 498-A of IPC

On 3rd August 2023, in the case of Chandhini T.K. v. State of Kerala (2023), the Kerala High Court quoted that by no stretch of the imagination, a girlfriend or even a woman who maintains sexual relations with a man outside of marriage in an etymological sense would be a ‘relative’. The court elaborated that for Section 498-A of IPC to be made applicable, cruelty must stem from any relative of the husband. Any female with whom the husband is physically involved cannot be termed to be his ‘relative’ and thus Section 498A cannot be made applicable.

The court stated that for anybody to be termed a relative there must be a relation established through blood, marriage or adoption.

9. Non-issuance of Legal-Heirship Certificate upheld by Kerala High Court in the absence of adoption documents

On 7th August 2023, in the case of Prameela L v. State of Kerala & Ors. (2023), the Kerala High Court opined that it was not satisfied by the petitioner who is claiming to be the adopted daughter of the deceased. The case was filed under mandamus instructing the District Collector to issue a Legal Heirship Certificate to the petitioner to be the adopted daughter of the deceased. The court did not approve the same due to a lack of proof provided for the fact.

10. Order to regulate within 3 months: sex-selective surgeries of infants and children

On 7th August 2023, in the case of X v. Director of Health Services (2023), the parents had brought the case before the Kerala High Court whereby they were asking for permission to conduct ‘genital reconstructive surgery’ on their baby who was born with ambiguous genitalia. However, the court held that the parent’s decision to conduct the said surgery on their baby to raise her as a girl would impinge upon the baby’s right to decide how he/she wants to be raised. The rights thus being infringed include Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

11. Victims of sexual harassment under POCSO are to be covered under Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017

On 1st August 2023, in the case of Kerala State Legal Services Authority v. State of Kerala (2023), it was appealed that the order refusing that victim of sexual harassment do not fall under the schedule of Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017. The court post scrutinised the definition of sexual assault to include sexual harassment. It was stated by the Kerala HC that instead of the petitioners’ claim that sexual harassment is not a part of the wider definition of ‘injury’ for compensation does not apply to the POCSO Act, as the same is a gender-neutral legislation. The objective of this legislation is to operate in the best interest and well-being of the child.

12. DNA test permitted by the Kerala High Court if denial would cause the minor girl child to be bastardised

On 30th July 2023 in the case of X v. Y (2023), the Kerala High Court emphasized the importance of comprehending the result of the approval or denial of a DNA test for ascertaining paternity. Here, if the HC had denied it, that would have caused the minor girl child would be abandoned. To even make her eligible for maintenance, it is necessary to prove that the man is her father for which a paternity test is necessary. Thus, in this case, the court permitted the Family Court’s order and thus approved the conduct of a paternity test of the child.

13. In cases of serious injuries as well, the multiplier method for ascertaining compensation is applicable

On 27th July 2023, in the case of Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Abdul Khader (2023), it was stated that the purpose of adopting the multiplier method was to bring uniformity and consistency to the method. The objective is to also eliminate any sort of inconsistencies that might arise if the same is not applied. The court held that the tribunal was at fault for applying the split multiplier method. Thus, the court modified the compensation amount including the sum for loss of amenities.

14. Necessary for the prosecution to explain the reason for the delay in bringing ‘contraband’

On 24th July 2023, in the case of Sabu K. Paul v. SI of Police (2023), the court highlighted that it is inappropriate to cause an inexplainable delay of about 8 days in presenting the contraband even if the issue was the problem in procurement of the said contraband articles. Thus, the court held that the conviction orders passed by the lower courts were incorrect and thus illegal. The same were set aside by the court and the petitioners who were earlier convicted were now found not guilty by the said Kerala High Court.

15. No seizure of a mobile phone belonging to a journalist can be made because he received information regarding crime

On 10th July 2023, in the case of G. Vishakan v. State of Kerala (2023), the Kerala High Court asked the Station House Officer to file a report to elaborate on the circumstances under which the journalist’s mobile phone was seized by the police. The petitioner was a reporter for the ‘Mangalam Daily’, ‘Ujjaini’. The court stated that journalists are a crucial part of our democracy and also form the 4th pillar of democracy. Merely because they received some information on their mobile phone which may be connected to some crime, does not implicate them or make them liable to hand over their phones to the police.

16. Not necessary that an offspring of an inter-caste couple’s socialisation is more attached to the father

On 10th July 2023, in the case of Rebeka Mathai v. State of Kerala, the Kerala High Court reiterated the fact that general statements were relied on by KIRTADS for instances of inter-caste marriages. Thus, a biased statement was posed as to which the process of socialisation of an offspring tends to be more attached to the high-ranked father.

The court thus set aside the orders and reports inferring the same as per which the petitioner’s claims had been rejected. Scrutiny Committee and the State Government were thus further directed that they must also issue respective guidelines for the same.

17. Not mandatory to wear helmets if special health conditions prevail

On 19th June 2023, in the case of Mohanan V.V v. State of Kerala (2023), the Kerala High Court mentioned that in case there is the existence of special medical grounds, then a person must not be mandated or forced to wear helmets. The court highlighted that due to this mandate often persons who are suffering from any illness are forced to abandon their two-wheelers as they are not able to wear helmets.

18. No recovery of excess pay is to be made from the employee who was not involved in drawing extra amount through increment

On 6th June 2023, in the case of State of Kerala v. Seena M. (2023), the court stated that if the authorities are at fault by way of calculating the wrong amount of salary that has to be credited to the employee’s account, that does not make the employee liable to return the said money. Especially, when the same was mentioned to be an increment, the employee is not supposed to know that the ‘increment’ has been calculated wrongly. Thus, the order passed by KAT (Kerala Administrative Tribunal) was upheld.

19. No place for technicalities in Section 125 CrPC cases as the objective is to ameliorate suffering

On 23rd June 2023, in the case of Govindarajan v. Vidya (2023), the Kerala High Court dismissed the petition which was filed for making amendments in pleadings already pending in Family Court for maintenance. The court said that there should be an attempt to expedite the process of maintenance cases and that such technicalities mustn’t be given importance in such cases since the objective is to provide relief to the persons claiming the maintenance.

20. Importance of safe-sex education in schools

On 23rd June 2023, in the case of X v. Union of India (2023), a minor girl had been impregnated by her brother. The court stated that the same is a result of a lack of safe sex education and easy access to the internet and Google searches by children due to mobile phones and computers. Thus the court emphasized that it is important to teach safe sex education along with the scholastic curriculum, to the children.

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Snehil Sharma

Snehil Sharma

Snehil Sharma is an advocate with an LL.M specializing in Business Law. He is a legal research aficionado and is actively indulged in legal content creation. His forte is researching on contemporary legal issues.

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