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Jasmine Joseph

Student, Government Law College, Kozhikode


The former Law Minister of India and the senior advocate Kapil Sibal had scathingly criticised and said that “the country is witnessing a new definition of democracy ” 1 , when the Supreme Court ( three-judge bench led by Justice Arun Mishra) rejected Speaker’s plea to stay Rajasthan High Court’s proceedings by deferring the hearing to a future date connected with Anti-Defection Law.

The Showdown

The Speaker of Rajasthan Government C.P. Joshi issued notices to the dissident ruling party Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs),  Mr. Sachin Pilot and 18 others on 14th   July 2020, on the basis of the absence of Legislators from successive Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings and an alleged conspiracy to bring down the ruling Government. The move was aimed to disqualify the dissident members of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly. The very next day, Mr. Sachin Pilot filed a petition before the  High Court of Rajasthan, challenging the disqualification notice, stating that the Speaker’s notice was served merely for disagreeing with the decisions and policies of some leaders outside the Assembly. In their writ petition filed before the High Court,  19 MLAs sought quashing of notices, stating that the legislators had neither given up their membership of the house nor failed to attend the two CLP meetings, rendering them liable for disqualification on the ground of defection.

Transfer to the Division Bench

The case has been referred to the Division Bench, as the petitioner’s counsel Mr. Harish Salve wanted to challenge the constitutional validity of some provisions of the law i.e. the Rajasthan Assembly Members (Disqualification on the grounds of the changing party) Rules, 1989, and clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, dealing with disqualification on the ground of defection. They contended that the notices issued amounted to an abuse of powers vested in the Speaker as per the Tenth Schedule and an attempt to stifle freedom of speech.2

The Intention of the Ruling party

It was alleged that the ruling party was trying to disqualify the dissident MLAs so that the majority mark of the 200 member assembly would be lowered, making it easier for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to win a floor test.


Whereas, on 21st of July 2020, the Division Bench of the High Court of Rajasthan reserved its verdict till July 24th of 2020 and asked the  Speaker not to take a decision on the disqualification notice issued by him. The Ruling Party raised some questions on media platforms about the ruling of the High Court. They were of the opinion that the High Court’s direction is an  encroachment upon the powers of the Speaker.

Thereafter, The Speaker C.P. Joshi moved to the Supreme Court against the Rajasthan High Court’s order.  The main contentions were as follows:-

  1. High Court’s intervention is premature as he was yet to decide the issue of disqualification, and had only issued notices.
  2. He pointed out the Supreme Court decision on the Kihoto Hollohan case 1992, specifically barring any judicial intervention prior to the decision-making stage.
  3. The Supreme Court had said that no interference was permitted in the interim and the option of judicial review of the final decision could be availed on limited grounds only.
  4. The High Court could not interfere in the Speaker’s designated power to decide questions of disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law. 
  5. Judicial review cannot cover proceedings of the legislature under Article 212 of the Constitution (Courts not to inquire into the proceedings of the legislature).

Rejection of Speaker’s Plea to Stay High Court Proceedings

The dissidents filed a caveat petition in the apex court.  But the Supreme Court ( three-judge bench led by Justice Arun Mishra) rejected Speaker’s Plea to stay High Court proceedings by deferring the hearing to a future date and asked a more pertinent question to the senior advocate Kapil Sibal. “ Whether a legislator’s voice of dissent could be shut down with the threat of disqualification”. Further, the Judge raised a question whether expressing dissent amounted to “voluntarily giving up of the party membership under paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and invite Anti-Defection proceedings” and “these were Legislators elected by the people and the larger question was about democracy and how it would survive like that”.

Mr. Sibal argued that, if those MLAs had to voice their dissent, they were free to do so in  party forums. He further said that the dissident legislators had not been attending the party meetings and were trying to destabilise the government.3 The dissidents were sitting incommunicado in a hotel in Haryana demanding a floor test in the media. He told the court that the Speaker had given them a chance to respond to the notice, but they chose to hole up in a hotel instead. Mr. Sibal also questioned the validity of judicial intervention prior to the decision-making stage. He pointed out that the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah in Kihoto Hollohan v Zachillhu and others 4  case 1992, had clarified that judicial intervention prior to the decision-making stage is improper.

But the arguments were futile. The Supreme Court refused to stay the High Court order.

Sharp Criticism

In a sharp criticism of the Rajasthan High Court’s order to maintain the status quo in the disqualification proceedings against dissident legislators, Mr Sibal said that the country is witnessing a new definition of democracy. He criticised that if High Courts started ignoring orders passed by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, then the lawyers could well take off their robes.

In a strongly-worded statement, he asked that, if Governors were going to flout the law and if  courts were not going to accept precedent, why  these institutions were set up by our forefathers.  He claimed that the Rajasthan High Court  had in effect countermanded an order of the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court that made it clear that the court could not interfere in a disqualification petition prior to the speaker’s decision.

The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution of India by the Constitution (Fifty-Second Amendment) Act, 1985 which came into force on 01.03.1985 and is popularly known as the Anti-Defection Law. The Statement of Objects and Reasons says that this amendment in the Constitution was made to combat the evil of political defections which has become a matter of national concern and if left unchecked, is likely to undermine the very foundations of our democratic system and the principles which sustained it.


The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by      Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah in Kihoto Hollohan v Zachillhu and others 5, had indeed clarified not to have a judicial intervention prior to the decision-making stage. It also  highlighted the aura of impartiality  the Speaker’s office has and the high pedestal on which it is placed by the Constitution. 

But the haste in convening the Assembly session and the oblique motive to take advantage of Anti-Defection law created such chaos. The situation could have been avoided. When the case became infructuous, the Speaker requested the Supreme Court to withdraw the  plea challenging the Rajasthan High Court’s interference and the Honourable Supreme Court had allowed it. But the above case has added a new dimension and reveals a new perspective of judicial mechanism.


1. Special Correspondent, Governors are not protecting rule of law: Sibal, T. HINDU (Aug. 17, 2020, 10.05 PM),           Sibal/article32186107.ece

2. Prithviraj Meena v. The Honourable Speaker of Rajasthan CW/7451/2020.
3. Supra note 1.
4. Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others 1992 SCC Supl. (2) 651.
5. Supra note.




Pooja Jose

Student, Government Law College, Kozhikode.


The Covid19 pandemic has affected the whole world. It has left us with diverse economic, financial, social, and mental anguish. Due to the obstinate spread of the virus, many countries were compelled to impose restrictions and lock downs. The mental stress and agony that people around the world faced due to home quarantine and restricted movement were quite high, due to this the world is witnessing the highest number of domestic violence ever reported. Countries like UK, Australia, Brazil, China, France, the USA also reported an alarming increase in domestic violence[1] and intimate partner violence as well as an increase in divorce petitions. India is one of the countries which has implemented mass and restrictive quarantine in the world. India, the second most populous country in the world, is forced to do so for the effective control of the spread of the Corona Virus. The lock down that started in March 2020 created a lot of hardships for the Indian population that led to the loss of jobs, starvation, and serious financial breakdowns. These were the major issues that the government knew that was likely to occur during the lock down, but one of the areas that the government failed to address was the possible increase in domestic violence. 


According to the United Nations, the term domestic violence can be defined as “a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner”.[2] Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Domestic violence as stated in the above definition not only covers women but children too. The increase in domestic violence is in no doubt detrimental to the emotional and behavioural development of the child. In many cases, the mental distress that is caused by domestic violence is irreparable mental trauma. The issue of domestic violence was a reality that existed before the corona virus and could be termed as one of the greatest human rights violations in history. In an attempt to flatten the curve of the pandemic, Indian households have suffered collateral damage. United Nations called increasing domestic violence as a shadow pandemic.[3]


According to the Crime in India Report 2018, published by the National Crimes Research Bureau (NCRB) [1 NCRB, Crime in India 2018 Statistics (Ministry of Home Affairs, GoI, 2020).], every 1.7 minutes a crime was recorded against women in India; every 16 minutes a rape was committed and every 4.4 minutes a girl was subjected to domestic violence. Smt. M C Josephine, chairperson of the Women’s Commission, Kerala said that there was a marked increase in the instances of domestic violence during this time.[4]


India was once the most dangerous country for women [5] and still proves that there is no major change other than the unnerving increase in the violence against women every day. The National Commission for Women says that the restrictions and lock down due to the pandemic have increased the rate of domestic violence.[6] In 2020, between March 25 and May 31, 1477 complaints of domestic violence were made by women.[7] Most of the complaints were received online (WhatsApp). The complaints filed fall under these categories – dowry harassment, molestation, rape and attempt to rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment, etc. 60% of domestic violence plaints filed before the commission are from the northern parts of India. The states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, New Delhi, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh reported an increase in domestic violence,[8] and the same was addressed by the National Women’s Commission chairman Rekha Sharma. Complaints were received through both online and offline channels before the pandemic. Due to the lock down women are having lesser access to these places in person and now the complaints are mainly online.

The current circumstances make reporting even harder as there are a lot of limitations for women and girls to access phones and helplines and to approach public services like police and social services. The main reason for this is social distancing, isolation, and home quarantine that have been imposed, which give women fewer avenues to bring their grievances to the commission. This is also one of the reasons why online complaints were so high during the lock down. The women in rural areas do not have access to quality education, internet and mobile phones. These sections of women have lesser options to approach the authorities. This impaired situation of women needs a robust plan. In most situations, children in the households are mentally abused and due to the lock down, they do not get a chance to share these with the teachers and their friends which makes the situation even worse. The isolation of women and children without access to mobile phones, family, and friends is unimaginable when they have to deal with an abusive and violent partner. In most cases, domestic violence goes unreported because of the fear of shame in the society that women will have to face. The early bail given to the accused will also pose a threat to the life of the women due to which most of the women tend to stay quiet. The tendency of the inmate partner to vent his/her anger on the other partner needs to be addressed very seriously as during this lock down the mental trauma can be very high. Especially in a situation where the victim cannot keep in touch with the outside world. Heart-wrenching stories of physical violence in households were reported which include beating, kicking, sexual abuse, slapping, dowry harassment, etc.


There are various provisions for the protection of women in the Constitution, the Indian Penal Code, and various Statutes.[9] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005 is the Act that deals with domestic violence in India. On 18 December 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It came into force as an international treaty on 3 September 1981.  185 countries including India ratified the convention. Under Article 253 of the Constitution, India signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) on 30 July 1980 and ratified it on 9 July 1993 with two declarations and one reservation. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005 was enacted on 13th September 2005 and brought into force on 26th October 2006. The Act provides for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. 

Under the Indian Constitution Article 14 ensures equality, Article 15 ensures no discrimination, and Article 21, right to life and personal liberty, protects the dignity of women, ensures the right to shelter and one of the foremost rights that is., the right to be free of violence.

Under the Indian Penal Code section 498-A and 304-B deal with the women suffering in her marital home.


Case laws under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005:

Various case laws have brought praiseworthy new provisions and did a great contribution to the development of the Act. The cases include the interpretation of the aggrieved person defined under the Act, live-in-relations, shared household, and right to reside in the matrimonial house. 

a) S.R Batra v. Smt. Taruna Batraon 15 December 2006.

The Court interpreted section 2(s) of the Domestic Violence Act which deals with the definition of ‘shared household’ and will the house which is not under the name of the husband be treated as a shared household and that can she claim a right to reside in that shared household. In the following case, the property in dispute was in the name of the mother-in-law and the husband had no right in the property. Thus, the court held that 

“the wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household, and a shared household’ would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member”.

b) D. Velusamy vs D. Patchaiammal on 21 October 2010.

In this case, the Court held that live-in-relationship will be covered under the aggrieved person in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005. The Court also laid down various provisions to fall under this category and the court stated that “not all live-in relationships will amount to a relationship in the nature of marriage to get the benefit of the Act of 2005” which includes a ‘keep”.

c) Megha Khandelwal vs Rajat Khandelwal on 10 May, 2019.       

In this case, the wife filed a domestic violence petition against the husband. Later filed an application under section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005 for interim maintenance allowances. In the initial stages, she asked 5,000 and then wanted a rise to 9,000 and finally demanded 25,000 while taking into the income tax of the husband. The court granted maintenance of rupees 25,000 per month for her. In this case, the court held that the wife being well educated is not a bar to interim maintenance allowances.

Case Laws under the Indian Penal Code 1860

a) Shanti v. State of Haryana. 

In this case, the court held that

“a person charged and acquitted under section 304-B can be convicted under section 498-A without being there if such a case is made out. 

b) B.S Joshi. State of Haryana.

In this case, the court held that “The hyper-technical view would be counterproductive and would act against the interests of women and against the object for which this provision was added. There is every likelihood that non-exercise of inherent power to quash the proceedings to meet the ends of justice would prevent women from settling earlier. That is not the object of Chapter XXA of the Indian Penal Code”. Thus, quashing of FIR was granted, this was with a view for speedy settlement for the aggrieved women.

There have been various developments that happened during the years for the Protection of Domestic Violence Act,2005. The Act has been given wider interpretations. In the case, Krishna Bhattacharjee v. Sarathi Choudhury and Another list down the duties of a court while deciding a case under the Act. There are situations where a case brought in by a woman is dismissed due to silly reasons. This creates a tendency among women to lose their faith in the court. During this pandemic, women must be aware and they must have that faith in them, that there is a law to protect them from all these atrocities and there is a great role for the executive and judiciary to play in this as well.


The measures that can be taken during the pandemic are limited due to the constraints of lock down but we cannot let this situation continue unattended. To help women file complain and seek help, the National Commission for Women has launched an emergency Whats App number in addition to the regular online complaint links and emails. But this doesn’t essentially mean that every woman is aware of these measures. To overcome this problem, the initiative should be taken by the central government to increase awareness among women. One of the possible ways this can be done is by notifying the local authorities and political leaders to set up specific teams to interact with women in their local jurisdiction and provide them with all the help and protection necessary. To ensure that women can file complaints against abusers fearlessly, the government must provide abused victims with a safe place to stay away from the abuser. Under section 6 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005, the Protection Officer must provide the aggrieved party accommodation where the party has no place of accommodation. Shelter homes in India are currently not admitting abused victims out of fear of the spread of the virus and most of them lack adequate facilities.[10] To provide a safe space for abuse victims, governments must ensure adequate facilities and social distancing in shelter homes.


[1] Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, A Double Pandemic: Domestic Violence in the Age of COVID-19, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS (Aug. 10 ,2020, 10:05 PM),

[2] UNITED NATIONS, What is domestic abuse (Aug. 10 ,2020, 10:15 PM),

[3] Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Violence against women and girls: the shadow pandemic, UNITED NATIONS WOMEN (Aug. 10, 2020, 10:21 PM),   during-pandemic.

[4] TNN,, Domestic violence plaints on the rise: Kerala state women’s commission chairperson, TOI, (Aug 10, 2020, 10:31 PM),

[5] Thomson Reuters Foundation, India most dangerous country for women: survey, DECCAN HERALD, (Aug. 10, 2020, 11:05 PM),

[6] Ambika Pandit, Lockdown saw significant rise in domestic violence complaint to NCW, THE TOI, (Aug. 10, 2020, 10:44 PM),

[7] Vignesh, Sumant & S Naresh , Data | Domestic violence complaints at a 10-year high during COVID-19 lockdown, T. HINDU, (Aug. 10, 2020, 10:50 PM),  lockdown/article31885001.ece.

[8] Ibid.

[9] INDIA CONST. Art. 14, Art 15,cl 1, cl.3, Art. 16, Art 39, cl. A & cl. D, Art. 42, Art. 46, Art. 47, Art. 243D, cl. 3 & cl. 4, Art. 243T, cl. 3, & cl. 4.

IPC. Sec. 376, 363-37,302/304-B,  498-A, 354, 509.

[10] Aathira Konikkara, Lockdown and domestic violence: As NGOs struggle to support women at risk, government plays catch up, THE CARAVAN,(Aug. 10, 2020, 11:20PM),


  1. D.D Basu, Introduction to the Constitution of India, 23 rd ed. 2018.
  2. Prof. S. N. Misra, Indian Penal Code, 21 st ed. 2019.
  3. The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005, NO. 43, Acts of Parliament, 2005 (India)


  1. S.R Batra v. Smt. Taruna Batra 2007 (1) RCR (Crl) 403 (SC).
  2. D.Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal (2010) 10 SCC 469.
  3. Megha Khandelwal v. Rajat Khandelwal SLP (Crl.) No. 6422 of 2018).
  4. Shanti v. State of Haryana 1991 AIR 1226, 1990 SCR Supl. (2) 675.
  5. B.S Joshi v. State of Haryana, 2003 Cr LJ 2028 (SC).


M Hegin Han

Student, Government Law College, Kozhikode.


The 21st century has witnessed a paradigm shift in the activities of people. Those who used to spend a good quarter of the day in public clubs, libraries, reading rooms and playgrounds now started to spare half of their days on social media websites. Back in the old days’ people used to enjoy sarcasm and box cartoons in the newspapers. These are now supplanted with trolls and memes on social media. Trolls in internet parlance, unlike memes or jokes, are contents intentionally created to tease something or someone. Before looking upon the legal provisions let us understand what is cyber trolling.

Defining Cyber Trolling

Cyber trolling means posting inflammatory material to lure others into combative arguments for personal entertainment or gratuitous disruption, especially in an online community or discussion. On the internet, it is usually posted to incite anger, provoke, harass or annoy the person who is being subjected to trolling.

Legal Provisions and Punishments under IPC

In Shreya Singal v. Union of India, the Hon’ble Supreme court on 24 March 2015 has struck down Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000 which earlier prescribed punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services etc. The Hon’ble court held that Section 66A is unconstitutional as it violates the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India. This gave an impression to the people using the internet that they are free to post anything over social media platforms. But keeping aside the provisions of the Information and Technology Act 2000 there are certain provisions under the Indian Penal Code of 1860 which punishes the creator of the trolls. They are stated as follows:

a) Defamatory nature:

                         The Right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution is subject to the reasonable restriction of defamation imposed under Article 19 (2). Therefore if a troll contains any statements or words or signs or any visible representations which would harm the reputation of the person in troll then the creator of the troll commits the offence of defamation defined under section 499 of IPC. By virtue of section 500 of IPC Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.

b) Outraging nature:

Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860 defines Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty. In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan and Apparel Export Promotion Council v. AK Chopra, the Supreme Court held that the offence relating to the modesty of a woman cannot be treated as trivial. What constitutes an outrage to female modesty is nowhere defined. In Tarkeshwar Sahu v. the State of Bihar, the Supreme Court held that modesty is a virtue which attaches to a female on account of her sex. So therefore if a person creates a troll which would outrage the modesty of a woman then that person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

c) Harassing nature:

If a man creates a troll which contains sexually coloured remarks about a woman then he commits the offence punishable under section 354-A of the Indian Penal Code of 1860. By virtue of section 354-A (3) any man who commits the offence specified in 354-A shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or both.

d) Intimidating nature:

In recent news, filmmaker Karan Johar is pursuing legal actions against those trolls which came up on social media connecting him with the death of a popular Bollywood actor. If a troll is intentionally created with an object to intimidate a person then the creator commits the offence punishable under section 506 of IPC with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.

e) Seditious Nature

Justice Deepak Gupta while delivering a speech on the topic “Law of sedition in India and Freedom of Expression” at the workshop of lawyers organised by the Praleen Public Charitable Trust and Lecture Committee at Ahmadabad, Gujarat said that Criticism of the policies of the Government is not sedition unless there is a call for public disorder or incitement to violence. So if a troll brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law then it would amount to sedition and the creator of the content shall be punished under section 124A with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years to which fine may be added or with fine.


Most individuals who create a social media account for themselves, do so in the hopes of creating a personal or professional network. However, they fall prey to the neverending cycle of excitement the cyber world has to offer. Once fallen, the social media platforms will start ruling his life. As a result of this, people become so careless and post whatever piques their interests which might eventually become filled with hatred and anger. Thus we need to remember that actions on social media platforms aren’t beyond the law’s reach. We must strive to be a law-abiding citizens even in the cyber world because the law’s hands are long enough to put the offenders behind bars.

References & Citations

  1. Cyber Trolling. In: The English Dictionary-Offline.
  2. Shreya Singhal v. Union Of India, AIR 2015 SC 1523.
  3. Lawman’s, Criminal Manual 40 (ed. 2019).
  4. J.N Pandey, Constitutional Law Of India, Central Law Agency (54th ed. 2017).
  5. Vishaka v State of Rajasthan, AIR 1997 SC 3011.
  6. Apparel Export Promotion Council v AK Chopra, AIR 1999 SC 625.
  7. Tarkeshwar Sahu v State of Bihar, (2006) 8 SCC 560.
  8. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, The Indian Penal Code, LexisNexis, (36th ed, 2019).