What three recent cases say about our labyrinthine legal system

This column is about three scenarios from January 2022.

The Supreme Courtroom (SC) made the decision a situation in January 2022 and the judgment manufactured it to the headlines. If a Hindu gentleman dies intestate (without a will), the daughter can inherit her father’s self-obtained house. Gurunatha Gounder (I) had two sons, Marappa Gounder and Ramaswamy Gounder. Ramaswamy Gounder died before his elder brother, Marappa, who also died a very long time ago, in 1949. A small stage was lifted about regardless of whether Marappa Gounder died in 1949, or in 1957.

Why is that timeline critical? Because the Hindu Succession Act was handed in 1956 and it governs intestate succession among the Hindus. This little bit, about the year of Marappa’s demise, was examined by a demo court (judgment of 1994) and the Madras Substantial Courtroom (judgment of 2009) and each courts determined Marappa died in 1949, not 1957. The SC observed no motive to dilemma that recognized fact. Nor was a further point questioned: In 1938, Marappa purchased the residence through his very own methods. It was not joint relatives residence. He could have dealt with it as he selected, had he still left a will. Regrettably, he died intestate. Marappa Gounder had only just one daughter, Kupayee Ammal, and no sons. She died in 1967 and remaining no little ones. Ramaswamy Gounder experienced one son and 4 daughters. The son was Gurunatha Gounder (II). The daughters were Thangammal (useless now), Ramayeeammal (useless now), Elayammal and Nallammal. Thangammal, useless now, was the unique plaintiff, who utilized for partition.

When Marappa Gounder died, who should really inherit his home? Need to it be Kupayee Ammal, the only daughter? Or, considering that she was a girl, should really it be Ramaswamy Gounder’s son, Gurunatha Gounder (II)? When Kupayee Ammal died, who must inherit the home? Need to it be Gurunatha Gounder (II) and his heirs, or should really his 4 sisters also have a share?

The SC made a decision: “Applying the previously mentioned settled legal proposition to the information of the situation at fingers, given that the succession of the go well with attributes opened in 1967 upon the dying of Kupayee Ammal, the 1956 Act shall apply and thus Ramasamy Gounder’s daughters staying Class-I heirs of their father too shall also be heirs and entitled to 1/5th share in every single of the match homes.” By the way, Gurunatha Gounder (II) is also lifeless. Most of the initial parties are useless, such as not just the a single who initial questioned for the partition, but the original appellant.

Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrates 75 yrs of India’s Independence and we are placing out a template for India in 2047. Does it appear to be proper that an difficulty of inheritance that really should have been settled in 1949, or in 1967, is getting settled in 2022? Think about the mess in imposing what the SC has made a decision. Lawsuits of fathers (or moms) devolve on sons and daughters, up to the 3rd or fourth era.

Portion of the mess is due to the fact of the complex nature of inheritance and succession regulations, even additional so if the particular person dies intestate. There are constitutional problems, 1 aspect of the Constitution vis-à-vis a further. Inspite of the concern currently being controversial, we can not quite possibly deny we don’t have a framework for individual laws appropriate for a 21st century India. Include to that very long delays in settling disputes, overload in the admission of situations and even the language of judgments.

Take into account one more latest case from Mumbai, the a single wherever the metropolitan magistrate acquitted Shilpa Shetty of obscenity and indecency rates. In 2007, at a promotional occasion, Richard Gere kissed her and FIRs were being submitted in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Those people FIRs had been largely under the Indecent Illustration of Girls (Prohibition) Act and Sections 292, 293 and 294 of IPC (Indian Penal Code). I assume anyone who reads those statutes and sections need to concur, (a) those FIRs should not have been lodged (b) even if there was an FIR, the circumstance shouldn’t have been admitted in court (c) it shouldn’t have taken 15 decades to determine. Police and courts really should have greater points to do. Should not we be a lot more discriminating about what situations are admitted in courts?

On language and plain English, I am repeating myself. (I have composed about it in the earlier.) I am repeating myself since this kind of incidents recur, specifically in Himachal Pradesh, though Justice Sureshwar Thakur has now moved somewhere else, to the Punjab and Haryana Significant Court.

In January 2022, two judges of the SC could not comprehend a judgment authored by Thakur in 2017 and had to inquire whether it was prepared in Latin. January 2022 was not the first time. (He was incomprehensible in the past also.) There ended up related examples for the Himachal Pradesh High Court docket in April 2017, December 2018 and March 2021.

In most organisations, folks find out from past faults. But there is the have to have to be careful about the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971. When we listen to “contempt of court”, we are inclined to imagine of civil contempt, the place a court’s judgment or direction is not complied with. But that 1971 statute also has provisions on legal contempt. Any act that “scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to reduced the authority of, any court” is legal contempt. “Scandalising” is neither contempt by interference, nor contempt by disobedience. We inherited this expression from Britain. In 2013, following a Regulation Fee Report (2012), the UK’s Crime and Courts Act, stated, “Scandalising the judiciary (also referred to as scandalising the court docket or scandalising judges) is abolished as a sort of contempt of courtroom below the typical regulation of England and Wales.”

This column very first appeared in the print edition on February 10, 2022 underneath the title ‘The litigation labyrinth’. The author is chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the PM. Views are private