A passive euthanasia which entails withholding of medical treatment for continuance of life should be permitted in our country in certain situations though there is no statutory provision in our country as to the legal procedure for withdrawing life support to a person in the permanent vegetative state or who is otherwise incompetent to take a decision in this connection.
In the instant case, Ms. Aruna Shanbaug was admitted in the hospital after she was assaulted and strangulated by a sweeper in the hospital on 27-11-1973. Though she survived, she never fully recovered from the trauma and brain damage and since last 37 years she is lying in the bed in that hospital. She is not very much aware of herself and her surroundings but the hospital staff, who have been amazingly caring for her day and night for so many long years, who really are her next friends have expressed their wish that Aruna Shanbaug should be allowed to live. The Supreme Court held that if the hospital staff at some future time changes its mind, in such a situation the hospital would have to apply to the High Court for approval of the decision to withdraw life support. Aruna Shahnaug's parents are dead and other close relatives are not interested in her ever since she had the unfortunate assault on her.
Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Crl) No. 115 of 2009; Decided on 7-3-2011 (SC) [Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra, JJ.]
SUMMONING SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS BY COURTS
In a large number of cases, orders summoning high officials are being passed by the High Court routinely, casually and sometimes even at the drop of a hat. This has been held as most improper. The Supreme Court has been repeatedly observing that the High Courts ordinarily should not summon the senior officials of the government and that should only be done in very rare and exceptional cases where there are compelling circumstances to do so. The Court should desist from calling them for all and sundry matters, as that would amount to abuse of judicial power. Courts should guard against such transgressions in the exercise of power. It is only in some extreme case where the High Court is convinced that deliberately the order of the court has been ignored in a spirit of defiance that it may summon the official to explain why the order of the court has not been complied with. The system functions on mutual respect between the Judiciary and the Executive.
R.S. Singh v. U.P. Malaria Nirikshak Sangh, Civil Appeal No. 5600 of 2006; Decided on 9-3-2011 (SC) [Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra, JJ.]
COUNSEL FOR ACCUSED: Powers of Court to Appoint
A criminal case should not be decided against the accused in the absence of a counsel. It is only a lawyer who is conversant with law who can properly defend an accused in a criminal case. Where the counsel for the accused does not appear because of the counsel's negligence or deliberately, even then the court should not decide a criminal case against the accused in the absence of his counsel since an accused in a criminal case should not suffer for the fault of his counsel and in such a situation the court should appoint, another counsel as amicus curiae to defend the accused. This is because liberty of a person is the most important feature of our Constitution. If a criminal case (whether a trial or appeal/revision) is decided against an accused in absence of a counsel, there will be violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
Md. Sukur Ali v. State of Assam , Crl. A. No. 546 of 2011; Decided on 24-2-2011 (SC) [Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra, JJ.]
CONJUGAL LIFE: Interference by Police
It is the duty of all persons in the administration/police authorities throughout the country that if any boy or girl who is major undergoes inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, their marital life should not be disturbed or harassed and if anyone gives such threat or commits acts of violence or instigates, it is the responsibility of the officers concerned to take stern action against such persons as provided by law.
In the instant case, both Rizwanur Rahman, a Computer Graphic Engineer and Priyanka Todi married on their own will, were majors and the marriage was duly registered under the notified authority, the police officials had no role in their conjugal affairs and the law enforcing authorities had no right to interfere with their married life and, in fact, they were bound to prevent others who interfered in their married life. As rightly observed by the High Court, the officers of the Police Department were not justified in interfering with the married life of Rizwanur Rahman and Priyanka Todi. Unfortunately, just after marriage, Rizwanur was found dead on a railway track.
Ashok Kumar Todi v. Kishwar Jahan, Crl. App. No. 602 of 2011; Decided on 1-3-2011 (SC) [P. Sathasivam and Dr. B.S. Chauhan, JJ.]; 2011 (3) SCALE 94
CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSIONER: Appointment
Central Vigilance Commissioner is given a statutory status. It stands established as an institution to enquire into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act by certain categories of public servants. Section 3 (3) (a) of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 indicates the eligibility criteria for appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner and further indicates that such persons should be without any blemish whatsoever and that they should be appointed merely because they are eligible to be considered for the post. The High Powered Committee must also take into consideration the question of institutional competency into account. If the selection adversely affects institutional competency and functioning then it shall be the duty of the HPC not to recommend such a candidate.
In the instant case, the Supreme Court has quashed the impugned appointment of Shri P. J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner. President Pratibha Patil has cancelled the appointment of Mr P J Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner. The cancellation of the appointment came 11 days after the Supreme Court quashed his selection by a high-powered committee (HPC) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Centre for PIL v. Union of India , W.P. (C) No. 348 of 2010 with WP (C) No. 355 of 2010; Decided on 3-3-2011 (SC) [S.H. Kapadia, CJI, K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, JJ.]
ADVOCATES: Duty towards Clients, Court, Colleagues
A lawyer cannot pass on the confidential information to anyone else. This is so because he is a fiduciary of his client, who reposes trust and confidence in the lawyer. Therefore, he has a duty to fulfill all his obligations towards his client with care and act in good faith.
The duties of an advocate to the court, the client, opponent and colleagues are enumerated in Bar Council of India Rules. An analysis of the Rules shows that one of the most important duty imposed upon an advocate is to uphold the interest of the client fearlessly by all fair and honourable means. An advocate cannot ordinarily withdraw from engagement without sufficient cause and without giving reasonable and sufficient notice to the client. If he has reason to believe that he will be a witness in the case, the advocate should not accept a brief or appear in the case.
In the instant case, the respondents filed an application for permission to file the list of witnesses which included name of the Advocate who was representing appellants plaintiffs in the suit from the very beginning. The Supreme Court held it not only misconceived but mischievous ex-facie .
Kokkanda B. Poondacha v. K.D. Ganapathi , C.A. No. 2015 of 2011; Decided on 22-2-2011 (SC) [G.S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly, JJ.]
JUDICIARY: Judge Getting Judgment Prepared From Outside
A Sub-ordinate Judge in State of Jharkhand was removed from service without mandatory enquiry when his Inspection Judge found that 'he did not prepare judgments on his own, rather he used to get them prepared through somebody else before delivering the judgments.' The then Chief Justice of the High Court, after going through the report of the Inspection Judge, referred the matter to the full Court and the full Court resolved that the Sub-ordinate Judge should be removed from the service, without any enquiry as it was felt that it was not practicable in the interest of the institution to hold an enquiry since it may lead to the question of validity of several judgments rendered by him. The High Court upheld the order of removal passed by the Governor. The Supreme Court finding no reason to interfere with the action taken against the Sub-ordinate Judge held, that if a person is found not worthy to be a member of the judicial service or it is found that he has committed a misconduct he could be removed from the service even without holding an enquiry for reasons to be recorded in writing.
Ajit Kumar v. State of Jharkhand, C.A. No. 2420 of 2011; Decided on 10-3-2011 (SC)