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Laws and legislations are made keeping in mind the best interests of the people. Every important word or term in an act/ legislation/ statute has a certain meaning which is assigned to it by the makers of those acts. However, while deciding cases, the interpretations of the makers and of the executors may differ and this can lead to inconsistencies of law. Therefore, certain rules of interpretation of statues need to be abided. One such rule is stated through the maxim Noscitur a sociis

The word ‘Noscere’ means ‘to know’ and ‘Sociis’ means ‘association’ hence Noscitur a sociis is a Latin expression which means ‘the meaning of a word may be known from accompanying/ associating words.’ This rule of interpretation is used when an important term is stated ambiguously in a statute or when a word cannot be explained on its own, or is not properly defined, it can be understood in terms of the other words that it is read out with.

In the Case Commissioner of Income Tax v. Bharti Cellular, the term ‘technical services’ was under question. It was held in this case that this term as defined in section 194J of the Income Tax Act was ambiguous and therefore it has to be understood by the meaning of the words that come before and after it. Two of such words were ‘managerial services’ & ‘consultancy services’ and therefore it was held that the term ‘technical services’ would also involve tasks of human involvement.

Such is the use and interpretation of this maxim. Other cases that can be used to see the application of this maxim are:

Mangoo Singh v. Election Tribunal AIR 1957 SC 871

Parsons Brinckerhoff India (P.) Ltd. vs. Asstt. DIT (Int. Tax)

Pradeep Agarbatti, Ludhiana v. State of Punjab AIR 1998 SC 171


WhatsApp is being criticised for its revised privacy policy under which Facebook and its partner companies will get access to selected user data. Since then, there has been an increase in the downloads of alternative messaging apps. Although WhatsApp has clarified that with end-to-end encryption, one cannot see the private chats or calls. WhatsApp had given its users a time period till February 8, which is now extended to May 15, to accept the new terms and conditions otherwise their account will stop operating. WhatsApp is an intermediary under Section 2(1)(w) of the Information Technology Act, hence, it is assumed to be providing public service. 

It is argued that the new and updated privacy policy of WhatsApp violates the Right of Privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Hon’ble Supreme court has declared the Right to Privacy as a “Fundamental Right” under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, in the case of K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India. In this case while delivering the judgment the Hon’ble bench widely interpreted the term “Privacy” as:

Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation.  Privacy also connotes a right to be Left alone. Privacy safeguards individual autonomy and recognizes the ability of the individual to control vital aspects of his or her life. Personal choices governing a way of life are intrinsic to privacy. Privacy attaches to the person since it is an essential facet of the dignity of the Human being.

 WhatsApp provides a platform where people communicate the most in today’s time and this new updated privacy policy has replaced the “opt-out-policy” which means that from now on, data sharing with Facebook and its group of companies will become a compulsion if one is using WhatsApp. Now, the users will compulsorily share all the information which will include any service-related information, personal information and others. The Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 deal with the protection of “sensitive personal data or information of a person” which includes such personal information which consists of information related to passwords, financial information, legal documents, diagnosis reports, sexual orientation, trade secret etc. All this information will not be safe and will now be easily accessible by Whatsapp, Facebook and its other companies. 

Moreover, the same is also violative of section 72A of Information Technology Act, 2000. As per Section 72A of Information Technology Act, disclosure of information, knowingly and intentionally, without the consent of the person concerned and in breach of the lawful contract has been also made punishable with imprisonment for a term extending three years and fine extending to Rs. 5,00,000/-. WhatsApp is accessing and disclosing the private, personal and vital information of an individual with other companies with compulsion in its new privacy policy. 

Many petitions have been filed in the Apex Court against this policy and since it is against the fundamental right to privacy, a withdrawal of the privacy policy is feasible and the users should be allowed to give informed consent for collection of their personal data.


The term Writ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a form of written command in the name of a legal authority to act or abstain from acting in a particular way. Writs are not new to the legal system, their existence commenced during Monarchy itself, i.e., the Monarch would send a written order to a person (government official) to act in a specified manner. As time passed, this authority to order a government official to act or abstain to act in a certain way has been passed to the Constitutional Courts. During the making of the Constitution of India, the makers inserted Article 32 and Article 226 empowering the Supreme Court of India (SCI) and the High Courts respectively to issue writs and gave the citizens of India a right to file writ petitions.

The term petition was added to the term writ, making it a Writ petition, which means a request by the people to the legal courts to issue a writ to a government official(s). Article 32 gives people the power to move the SCI for the enforcement of the rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution and also empowers the SCI to issue writs. Similarly, Article 226 empowers the High Courts in India to issue writs and the citizens to file for writ petitions. There are five types of writs, i.e., Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari, and Quo-Warranto.

The SCI in the case of Federal Bank Lt. v. Sagar Thomas & Ors. (2003) clarified against whom a writ petition cannot be filed. It stated that private companies, including private banks would normally not be amenable to the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. Relying on this ruling of the SCI, the Allahabad High Court in the case of Arif Khan v. Branch manager Mahindra Finance Sultanpur & Another (2021) dismissed the writ petition by the petitioner stating that Mahindra Finance being purely a private body is not an authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution which defines ‘State’ as “the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the States and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.”

In this case, the petitioner sought the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus directing the respondents, i.e. Mahindra Finance, Sultanpur, to provide a complete statement of a certain customer ID to the petitioner with the due amount and to take the said amount in easy instalments. The court had to dismiss this petition because enforcement of rights of the Indian citizens can only be against the State (government) authorities and according to the Article 226 of the Constitution, the Courts can only issue writs against the government authority or government persons.

However, the SCI in the case of Federal Bank Lt. v. Sagar Thomas& Ors. (2003) provided an exception stating that a private body or a person may be amenable to writ jurisdiction only where it may become necessary to compel such body or association to enforce a statutory obligation or such obligations of public nature.

The fact that writ petitions can only be filed against government authorities or such connected persons and not private persons unless it affects the public at large or it is associated with a statutory body, is already known and the Allahabad High Court in the present matter has re-emphasized the same.


The Latin maxim De Minimis Non Curat Lex means the law does not govern trifles or that the law ignores insignificant details specifically the ones that a reasonable person of ordinary temper would not complain about.

In Coward v. Badley (1859) 4 H & N 478, a bystander touched a fireman’s arm to bring his attention to another part of the building which was on fire. The fireman then bought a suit against the bystander for battery however, the Court held that it was a trivial act and would not amount to tort.

The maxim has been applied and upheld in various Indian judgements like, Foods, Fats & Fertilisers Ltd., Vs. Commissioner of C. Ex. Guntur [2011 (22) STR 484] and State of Bihar and Ors. Vs. Harihar Prasad Debuka and Ors [AIR 1989 SC 1119], wherein the Court laid down-

“The checking of documents or the filling in and submission of Forms and returns, detour to a public weigh-bridge and the like may be an inconvenience, and unless they are shown to be unreasonable and not in public interest the court may apply the maxim ‘de minimis non curat lex’.”

However, the exception to this maxim has been laid down in Helford v. Bailey, where X casts and draws net in water and where Y has an exclusive right of fishing. In this case X has committed a tort no matter how trivial it is because the act if repeated has the potential of taking away Y’s right and hence the maxim will not be invoked.


The technological advancements in this virtual era have encouraged new businesses to prosper and as a consequence their implementations have increased in the society. In the year 2000, to enhance business through technology a new legislation was enacted namely- Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act). Section 2(1)(w) of the Act defines “intermediary” as, “with respect to any particular electronic message means any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that message or provides any service with respect to that message.”

The liability of the intermediaries is briefly explained in Section 79 of the Act. As per Section 79(1), “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him.”

Recently, the Karnataka High Court in the case of Snapdeal v. State of Karnataka by ruling that Intermediary under IT Act is not liable for actions of vendors in online marketplace, quashed the case against Snapdeal. In this case, in 2014, a Drug Inspector had filed a complaint against Snapdeal after receiving intimation from the Deputy Drugs Controller, Mysore. M/s Adcept Biocare, a seller account on Snapdeal listed its products named SUHAGRA-100 Tablets (Sildenafil Citrate Tablets 100 mg). Even after getting repeated warnings from Snapdeal, the Drug Company did not take down the tablets.

A person named Manjunath ordered the tablets and it was delivered to him in presence of Investigation Officer and Panch witnesses. It was alleged that Snapdeal violated Section 18(c) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. This is punishable under Section 27 of the said Act. As per the provision of Section 18(c) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, any person who sells drugs without a valid license is said to be acting against the law.

While arguing on the case, the concept of vicarious liability was put forward. The advocate from the respondents said that “Irrespective of whether Snapdeal is an intermediary or not, there could be no product which could have been advertised for sale contrary to the prohibitions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act”. To all these contentions, the single Judge Bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj stated that neither Snapdeal nor its Directors can be prosecuted for the offence.

It has been observed from the past judgments and the statutory provisions that the rights, duties, immunities and liabilities of the intermediaries in India are evolving and are subject to much more changes. As of now, Section 79 of the IT Act, the Intermediary Guidelines as well as the Shreya Singhal Judgement, is the authoritative law of the land governing the liability of the Intermediaries. The Intermediaries cannot be held liable unless there is a proper order by a requisite authority. But a question arises that when such harmful products are being sold on the online market and the intermediary here Snapdeal is aware of it, whether then, on its own, it should have applied the concept of “Notice and taken down” so as to prevent an unlawful act.


The High Court of Kerala, in the case of Abdul Rahoof v. State of Kerala & Ors. (2020) has stated that the first-time offenders in theft do not have to be imprisoned citing the provision under Section 360(3) of Criminal Procedure Code (CrCP) and Section 3 of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 (POA).

Section 360(3) CrCP states, “In any case in which a person is convicted of theft, theft in a building, dishonest misappropriation, cheating or any offence under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), punishable with not more than two years’ imprisonment or any offence punishable with fine only and no previous conviction is proved against him, the Court before which he is so convicted may, if it thinks fit, having regard to the age, character, antecedents or physical or mental condition of the offender and to the trivial nature of the offence or any extenuating circumstances under which the offence was committed, instead of sentencing him to any punishment, release him after due admonition”.

Further Section 3 of the POA, 1958 gives power to Indian Courts to release certain offenders after admonition. The Kerala High Court also refers to the poem of the very well-renowned Malayalam Poet Ayyappa Paniker. Poet Ayyappa Paniker in his famous poem ‘Moshanam’ when translated to English says,

Just because I have stolen a few things, why should you call me a thief?

Whenever one steals something good, you people raise a

clamour – for nothing and dub him a thief, a thief!

It is the fault of your laws,

Change you then your law, I say,

Lest your laws should change you

However, the Kerala High Court while giving their opinion disagreed with the concluding lines of the poem stating that such law is already available. The Court further stated, “the criminal justice delivery system can attain its ultimate aim only with the help of society. To err is human. If a person commits some small mistakes, Section 360 CrPC and Section 3 of the POA will protect that person. But society should also protect him by not treating him as a criminal or a thief. If a person commits a small theft, society must reform him..”

This statement was given by the Kerala High Court in the present case because in the cited case, it was said that the prosecution witnesses blamed the accused by spreading a rumour that he is a thief who stole a motor. When the accused along with his father went to the person’s house whose motor he is accused to have stolen in order to sort the issue, a fight broke down between the accused and the witnesses of the prosecution, and then the accused stabbed two of them in the abdomen.

When they filed a suit against the accused, a counter case was filed by the accused saying that it was the prosecution witnesses who attacked him first and only then he had to stab them in private self-defence. The trial court found the accused guilty, however, the Kerala High Court acquitted him.

Now, the words regarding first-time offenders in theft by the Kerala High Court has both pros and cons. The advantage is that it will fulfil the purpose of punishments in criminal law that is reformation, so if a person steals something, he/she can be acquitted with a warning to change his/her acts for the better. This reformation is sought to be done not by punishing the person, instead through taking the help of society to do so.

Whereas, the disadvantage is that a person who is guilty of being a thief can take advantage of this and use it to acquit himself/herself. Although, overall the discussed provisions and the Court’s words are a chance for first-time offenders to redeem themselves without unjustly serving imprisonment. But, it is also important for society to look at that person in a way that he/she is redeemable and not characterise him/her as only a thief.


Ordinarily, in tort law, the defendant/ tort-feasor will be held liable given all essentials are fulfilled, however, there are some general defences available to him/her to get rid of the liability arising out of the tort. These are known as ‘General defences’ in the law of tort. The defences available are as follows:

  1. Volenti non fit injuria – When a person consents to infliction of some harm upon himself, he/she has no remedy for that in tort. Essentials to be proved for taking this defence are- 1. The plaintiff knew that the risk exists and 2. knowing the same, he/she agreed to suffer the harm.

In Hall v. Brooklands Auto Racing Club, the plaintiff was a spectator at a motor car race on a track owned by the defendant company. During the race, there was a collision between two cars, one of which was thrown among the spectators, thereby injuring the plaintiff. It was held that the plaintiff implicitly took the risk of such an injury. The danger is inherent in the sport which any spectator could foresee hence, the defendant was not liable. In this defence, it is also necessary that the plaintiff’s consent is free.

  1. Plaintiff the wrongdoer – The law excuses the defendant when the act done by the plaintiff itself was illegal or wrong. This defence arises from the Latin maxim “ex turpi causa non oritur action” which means no action arises from an immoral cause. In Bird v Holbrook, the plaintiff, who trespassed over the defendant’s land was entitled to claim compensation for injury caused by a spring gun used by the defendant, without notice, in his garden.
  2. Inevitable Accident – Accident means an unexpected injury and if the same could not have been foreseen or avoided, in spite of reasonable care on the part of the defendant, then it can be termed as an inevitable accident. It is, therefore, a good defence if the defendant can show that he/she neither intended to injure the plaintiff nor could he/she avoid the injury by taking reasonable care. In Stanley v. Powell, the defendant and the plaintiff went to a pheasant shooting. The defendant fired at a pheasant but the bullet after getting reflected by a tree hit the plaintiff and he suffered serious injuries. The incident was considered an inevitable accident and the defendant was held not liable.
  3. Act of God – It is a kind of inevitable accident in which the natural forces play their role and cause the damage. For e.g., heavy rainfall, storms, etc. Essentials required for this defence are-

1. There must be working of natural forces. In Ramalinga Nadar v. Narayana Reddiar the plaintiff had booked goods with the defendant for transportation. The goods were looted by a mob, the prevention of which was beyond the control of the defendant. It was held that every event beyond the control of the defendant cannot be said to be the Act of God. Only those acts which can be traced to natural forces and which have nothing to do with the intervention of human agency that could be an aid to the act of God.2. Occurrence must be extraordinary. In Nichols v. Marshland, the defendant created an artificial lake on his land. Once there was an extraordinary rainfall, heaviest in human memory. The embankments of the lake got destroyed and washed away all the 4 bridges belonging to the plaintiff. The court held that the defendant was not liable as the same was an Act of God.

4. Private defence – The law has given permission to protect one’s life and property and for that, it has allowed the use of reasonable force to protect oneself and one’s property. But, the use of force is justified only for the purpose of self-defence and there should be an imminent threat to a person’s life or property. In Bird v. Halbrook, the defendant, had kept a spring gun in his garden, since flowers were often stolen from his garden. The plaintiff, a boy whose fowl had strayed away, jumped into the defendant’s garden to search for it. He had no knowledge about the gun there and got injured. The court held that the defendant was liable since he had exceeded the right of private defence to his property.

5.Mistake – Mistake, whether of fact or of law, is generally no defence to an action for tort. In Consolidated Company v. Curtis, an auctioneer auctioned some goods of his customer, believing that the goods belonged to him. But then the true owner filed a suit against the auctioneer for the tort of conversion. The court held the auctioneer liable and mentioned that the mistake of fact is not a defence that can be pleaded here. To this rule, there is some exception when the defender may be able to avoid his/her liability by showing that he/she acted under an honest but mistaken belief.

6) Necessity – If an act is done to prevent greater harm, even though the act was done intentionally, is not actionable and serves as a good defence. In Cope v. Sharpe, the defendant entered the plaintiff’s premises to stop the spread of fire in the adjoining land where the defendant’s master had the shooting rights. Since the defendant’s act was to prevent greater harm so he was held not liable for trespass. If that interference is not reasonably necessary, the defender will be liable. In Carter v. Thomas, the defender, who entered the plaintiff’s premises in good faith to extinguish a fire at which the fireman had already been working, was held liable for trespass.

7) Statutory Authority – If an act is authorized by a statute or legislation, then it is not actionable even if it would constitute a tort otherwise. It is a complete defence and the injured party has no remedy except for claiming compensation as may have been provided by the statute. In Bhogilal v. Municipality of Ahmedabad, case, the defendant demolished a wall of the plaintiffs under their statutory powers. The roof of the plaintiff also collapsed in the process. The court held that no suit will lie against the defendant, as they have carried out their duty under statutory powers although the plaintiff has suffered injury.


In the year 1992, women were inducted in the Indian Navy for the first time through a special entry scheme, after which the Short Service Commission (SSC) was introduced. Although initially women were inducted only in some selected branches, over the years it has expanded. Recently, in the case of Union of India & Ors. v. Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja & Ors. (2020) the Supreme Court of India has upheld that women employed in the Indian Navy through the SSC are eligible for Permanent Commission (PC) i.e., they can serve till their retirement. In SSC, the tenure is of 10 years, while with an extension of 4 years, Navy officers can be eligible for Permanent Commission. The verdict can be seen as a step towards establishing the Right to Equality granted under Article 14 of our Constitution. It can be observed that this judgement was inspired by the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of The Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya & Ors. (2020), where the Court dismissed the Central Government’s submissions that women are physiologically weaker than men as a “sex stereotype” and held that SSC women officers are eligible for Permanant Commission and Command Posts in the Indian Army irrespective of their service years.In the present case of Union of India & Ors. v. Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja & Ors. (2020), the Supreme Court gave the judgement based on a plea filed by 17 women SSC officers in the Navy who were denied Permanent Commission and were discharged despite completing 14 years of service as SSC officers. While making a decision in this case the Court made the following observations:“Women officers have worked shoulder to shoulder with their men counterparts in every walk of service. Therefore, the ‘101 excuses’ devised by the government, including motherhood and physiological limitations, reeked of a stereotypical mindset.And women naval officers cannot be denied the right to equal opportunity and dignity entitled to them under the Constitution of India on specious grounds such as physiology, motherhood and physical attributes.”The Supreme Court of India gave a deadline of 3 months for its judgement on granting Permanent Commission to women SSC officers in the Indian Navy to be implemented, but later it extended the deadline to December 31, 2020, for implementation of this judgement considering the COVID-19 pandemic since the Centre moved the plea asking for an extension in June 2020. On 30th December 2020, the Supreme Court of India decided to hear a plea, filed by 10 women Navy officers who were due to retire on 31st December 2020 along with such similar pleas on 19th January 2021.This is a new change in the Indian Navy system, unlike the already existing freedom in the United States where every woman officer is eligible to serve in every rank and every job in the US navy since the year 1994. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, women officers are eligible for all jobs including the full range of specialist qualification. But, keeping the existing freedom for women Navy officers in the other countries, it can be said that India is walking towards such gender equality as well, which is a good sign for a bright future for women in India. These new judgements will also encourage more and more women to apply for the Indian Armed Forces.


Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio is a legal doctrine which means from an immoral cause no action arises. It applies to cases where a plaintiff loses his right to pursue a legal remedy if the same emerges in connection with his own illegal act. Thus, if the basis of the plaintiff’s action is unlawful, in general, he/ she will not succeed. This maxim is often used as a general defence in cases of civil wrongs of tort, contract and trusts.

In terms of contract, it allows the courts to deny contractual remedy on a defendant if the very subject matter of the contract is directly or by implication, contrary to the public policy or in contradiction with any existing law or custom.

Under torts, it does not outrightly disable the plaintiff from recovering and is not a complete bar on claim for damage. He/ she may claim compensation if the wrongful act is quite independent of the harm caused to him. However, he/ she may lose this action if the wrongful act is the real cause of his harm. The case could be that of contributory negligence, wherein, the compensation payable is reduced in proportion to his own fault in matter.In National Coal Board v England, the Court observed- If two burglars, A and B, agree to open a safe by means of explosives, and A so negligently handles the explosive charge as to injure B, then B might find some difficulty in maintaining an action for negligence against A.In the case of Patel v. Mirza (2016) UKSC 42, the court replaced this doctrine with a new set of principles. In this case, the claimant had given money to the defendant for using insider information which is an offence. However, the information ended up being false and the plaintiff filed the suit to recover the amount. The court ruled that the defendant would be unjustly enriched which was against public interest. Thus, the plaintiff was allowed to recover the amount allowing restitution of both parties.

Therefore, the public conscience test was upheld by the court.


Today, across the globe, sexual harassment at workplace is increasingly understood and recognized as a violation of women’s rights and a form of violence against them. The doctrine of equality and personal liberty laid down in Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution secure a person’s right to equal protection under the law, to live a life free from discrimination on any ground and protection of life and personal liberty. Whereas sexual harassment of women at workplace is not only discriminatory but it also abrogates women’s right to life and livelihood. In India, for the first time in 1997, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court in the case of Vishaka and Others v. State of Rajasthan to enforce the fundamental rights of a working women after the brutal gang rape of Bhanwani Devi, a social worker from Rajasthan. As an outcome the Court laid down a landmark judgment and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted. The Act made it mandatory for every employer to provide a mechanism to redress grievances pertaining to any acts of sexual harassment against women at workplace and establish gender equality at workplaces. The Act is also unique for it is applicable to the organized as well as the unorganized sector. The Act provides for two kinds of complaints mechanisms: Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) and Local Complaint Committee (LCC). All Complaint Committees must have 50 per cent representation from women and the ICC or LCC members will hold their position not exceeding three years from the date of their nomination or appointment. Section 4 (1) of the Act mandates that every employer of a workplace shall, by an order in writing, constitute a Committee to be known as the “Internal Complaints Committee.” On 24 December, 2020 the District Court of Delhi namely Patiala House Court convicted Srilankan Airlines for an offence under Section 26 of the Act after a complaint was filed against the airlines. The victim had alleged that she had been sexually harassed multiple times and she had reported the same to the then supervisor of the accused, the Regional Manager. But the company deliberately delayed the inquiry with a pretext that appropriate action will be taken whereas in fact, no action was initiated even after repeated incidents against the victim. After which at the request of National Commission for Women, an enquiry was conducted by the police in the matter. Additionally, an FIR was lodged against the accused manager. The Court held the Regional Manager- Lalith De Silva guilty under Section 509 of IPC for outraging the modesty of one of his junior colleagues at its Delhi division office while he was posted there. Further, the Metropolitan Magistrate, while passing the judgement held that it is mandatory for every workplace, organization, etc. to constitute an Internal Complaints Committees and have women representation in the same. In the case mentioned, the Airlines had failed to comply with the provisions and conditions laid down in the said PoSH Act and hence the Court held them liable under Section 26 of the Act and imposed a fine of Rs. 50,000/-. The court gave a next date of January 7 for further arguments on the quantum of sentence.