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Apex court puts an end to BPO case confusion

The Supreme Court advises judges not to make observations that are alien to a case as it confuses litigants, members of public and authorities, reports Bhadra Sinha.
By Bhadra Sinha | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2008 01:34 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday advised judges not to make observations that are alien to a case as it confuses litigants, members of public and authorities.

The three judge bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said: “Any opinion, observation, comment or recommendation that de hors the subject of the appeal may lead to confusion in the minds of the litigants and the authorities as they will not know how to regulate their affairs.

The advise by the court brought an end to the difference of opinion between Justices H.K. Sema and Markandeya Katju who had earlier dismissed the appeal of Nasscom Chief Som Mittal, who is facing criminal prosecution for allegedly not providing proper security and transport facility to a BPO employee who was raped and killed two years ago in Bangalore.

The difference of opinion on the legal issues arose after Justice Katju disagreed with Justice Sema’s observation that high courts should use their inherent powers to deliver substantive justice in the rarest of the rare cases. There was, however, no disagreement over the status of Mittal’s appeal.

Justice Katju was of the view that the words “rarest of the rare” can only be used in cases that call for death penalty. Elaborating his opinion on the subject, Justice Katju had also expressed his concern over the situation prevailing in Uttar Pradesh where there is no provision of anticipatory bail. Known for his scathing comments against “judicial encroachment” over the executive, Justice Katju recommended the UP government to immediately issue an ordinance and introduce the provision.

Although the Chief Justice’s bench did not refer to Justice Katju’s lengthy comments, it said courts should desist from issuing “directions affecting executive or legislative policy.” It further advised not to pass general direction on a subject that is unconnected to a case.

Meanwhile, the BPO industry said that the government should not use this incident as a stick to beat the industry. “Responsibility of security should be shared equally by the companies and law enforcement agencies,” says Ganesh Natarajan, managing director of Pune-based Zensar Technologies. When asked on this incident affecting the morale of top management and employees the industry felt that this would impact morale of employees but not the management. “Employees will be concerned about their security,” said a CEO of a Mumbai-based mid-sized company who did not wish to be named.

(With inputs from Venkatesh Ganesh in Mumbai)

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