Week of February 15, 2021

The BCCI defies the Court, Amazon wins big, a woman faces execution, and more!

Apex Court Weekly is a weekly round-up of judgments, petitions, orders and notices as they develop at the Supreme Court of India (“the Court”). We also occasionally cover High Courts. We cover some stories that gather national attention and some that should. This update is written by Rahul Srivastava, J.D. candidate at Cornell Law School, and supported by the Cornell India Law Center.

HOUSEKEEPING

Amazon wins big at the Court

The Court sided with Amazon in litigation between the company and the Future Group. The Court barred a tribunal from ruling on the sale of $3.4 billion of retail assets of the Future Group until the Court heard from Amazon, one of the Future Group’s partners. Amazon accused the Future Group of violating terms of its contract by agreeing to sell its retail business to Reliance Industries, a stiff competitor of Amazon’s. The transaction has cleared regulatory hurdles but awaits approval from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). 

A woman could be executed for the first time since Independence

A former teacher in Uttar Pradesh who killed her family may become the first woman to be executed after Independence. The deputy director of the Mathura District jail said that preparations are underway for a probable hanging. The prisoner, Shabnam, and her partner killed 7 people in 2008, including a 10-month-old child. 75 men have been executed since Independence, and only 8 in the last two decades. 

However, other officials have contradicted reports that preparations at Mathura jail are underway, citing the activity as a “routine exercise”. Both the Court and the President have rejected mercy petitions.

CAN’T MISS THIS

Will the BCCI continue to defy the Court?

Ever since scandal broke out in 2013, the Court has closely monitored the world’s most powerful cricketing body: The BCCI. Although their terms ended last year, former India captain and current BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, and BCCI Joint Secretary have not given up their positions. The BCCI’s Court-approved constitution requires any officeholder to undergo a “cooling-off” period after serving in the administrative body for six years. 

The BCCI wants to amend its constitution to remove the “cooling-off” period, allowing the Mr. Ganguly et al to continue in their positions without the “cooling-off” period. Unfortunately, the same constitution was drafted with inputs from two former Chief Justices of the Court in 2018. The BCCI has proposed six amendments altogether and is arguing that the Court-approved constitution encroaches on its own authority.

The BCCI and some state cricket boards have often defied the BCCI constitution’s mandates. The Court admonished the BCCI this week for continuously causing delays in this case, and announced that a decision will given out by March 23rd.

PETITIONS

Government may begin regulating Netflix and Amazon

Responding to a petition seeking an autonomous body to regulate OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon, the government informed the Court that it was considering introducing regulation on the matter. We’ve previously covered the Sudarshan News case, where the government had discussed a need to regulate social media. The petition claimed that digital media and streaming platforms were neither monitored by a regulatory agency, nor did they comply with self-regulations issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Former minister MJ Akbar loses MeToo defamation case 

An Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in New Delhi acquitted Priya Ramani, a journalist who accused former Union Minister MJ Akbar of sexually harassing her, in a defamation case filed by Mr. Akbar. If convicted, Ms. Ramani would have faced up to two years in prison. Mr. Akbar, who was the Editor-in-Chief of TheAsian Age in the ‘90s, was also accused by 14 other female journalists of sexual harassment and assault. Ms. Ramani’s accusation came to light in a Vogue article in 2017, as the MeToo movement gained steam around the world. 

STORIES WE’RE READING

Will Uber decision in the U.K. impact India?

No, we are not going back to the colonial era. The U.K. Supreme Court recently held that Uber drivers should be considered employees, not independent contractors. The ruling grants these workers benefits guaranteed to employees under British law: minimum wage, insurance, vacations. This article wonders aloud whether the judgment would impact Uber’s operations in India. The government has already begun instituting policies to protect workers in the gig economy, including Uber drivers. Drivers’ unions representing Uber and Ola, another ride-sharing company, have already commenced litigation in the Delhi High Court. The issue may reach the Court in the coming years.