2019 SCC Vol. 6 July 7, 2019 Part 2

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 311 Summoning of material witness: The age of a case, by itself, cannot be decisive of the matter when a prayer is made for examination of a material witness. [Manju Devi v. State of Rajasthan, (2019) 6 SCC 203]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 386, 374 and 401 — Appeal against conviction: Principles restated regarding proper exercise of powers of appellate court therein to enhance sentence. Enhancement of sentence by High Court without giving notice to accused, not proper, hence, judgment of High Court set aside to the extent of enhancement of sentence, though conviction confirmed. [Kumar Ghimirey v. State of Sikkim, (2019) 6 SCC 166]

Family and Personal Laws — Hindu Law — Divorce — Mutual Consent Divorce — Invocation of powers under Art. 142 of Constitution — Amicable settlement: In this case, Appellant and respondent were married on 7-5-1998. A girl child was born out of said wedlock and at the time of hearing, she was aged about 18 yrs. Due to strained relationship, parties were living separately. Appellant husband filed a suit for dissolution of marriage before Family Court. Trial court dismissed divorce petition filed by appellant. Appeal preferred by appellant was also dismissed by District Court. High Court also dismissed second appeal. During pendency of appeal before Supreme Court, parties had amicably settled the matter. Parties had also filed a separate application agreeing for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent invoking the powers under Art. 142 of the Constitution. Parties had also agreed that all the pending cases between the parties shall be withdrawn or they will agree for quashing the respective cases. The Supreme Court held that since the parties had amicably settled the matter, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, in exercise of power under Art. 142 of the Constitution, marriage of appellant and respondent was dissolved in terms of compromise. [Praveen Singh Ramakant Bhadauriya v. Neelam Praveen Singh Bhadauriya, (2019) 6 SCC 259]

Hindu Succession Act, 1956 — S. 6 [as amended by Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005]: Regarding right of daughter born in Mitakshara Family before commencement of HSA, 1956, to share in family property, in the light of conflict of opinion between two-Judge Bench judgments of Supreme Court i.e. Prakash, (2016) 2 SCC 36 and Danamma, (2018) 3 SCC 343 with regard to interpretation of S. 6 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 as amended by Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, matter to be heard by a Bench of three Judges. [Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, (2019) 6 SCC 162]

Insurance — Exemption/Exclusion/Restriction/Limitation/Forfeiture Clauses/Negative Covenants — Non disclosure of exclusions: When conditions of exclusion under policy document not handed over to insured by insurer and in absence of insured being made aware of terms of exclusion, held, it is not open to insurer to rely upon exclusionary clauses. In this case, District Forum and SCDRC both came to a specific finding of fact that insurer did not furnish terms and conditions of exclusion and special conditions to appellant and hence, they were not binding. [Bharat Watch Co. v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2019) 6 SCC 212]

Insurance — Repudiation/Rescission of Insurance Policy: Repudiation by insurer of the claim under a policy of life insurance, within a period of two years from the commencement of the insurance cover, on the ground of non-disclosure a material fact, as in the present case for suppressing/not disclosing a pre-existing life insurance, proper. The expression “material” in the context of an insurance policy can be defined as any contingency or event that may have an impact upon the risk appetite or willingness of the insurer to provide insurance cover. [Reliance Life Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Rekhaben Nareshbhai Rathod, (2019) 6 SCC 175]

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 — S. 8 r/w S. 15(c) or S. 8 r/w S. 26: Conviction under S. 8 r/w S. 15(c) for transportation of poppy straw (commercial quantity) in contravention of licence, confirmed. Furthermore, sentence cannot be reduced below the statutory minimum of 10 yrs mandated in S. 15(c). [Gangaram v. State of M.P., (2019) 6 SCC 244]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 326, 320 cls. Sixthly and Eighthly and Ss. 326-A and 326-B — Grievous hurt — Acid attack — Adequacy of punishment: In this case appellant-accused and injured victim S (PW 1) were neighbours. Appellant and victim had previous enmity due to which, on 26-11-1997 at about 6 p.m., appellant, A-1 along with his wife (A-2) poured acid, causing serious injuries over head, neck, shoulder and other parts of body of victim. Accused persons were charge-sheeted for offence under S. 326 r/w S. 34 IPC. The Supreme Court held that the basic fact that appellant poured acid on the body of victim, stood proved beyond any doubt by evidence on record, including testimony of victim PW 1 as also his mother PW 2. The fact that the victim sustained extensive acid burns on the left side of his body also stood duly proved in his testimony read with testimony of doctor PW 8. Courts below had thoroughly examined the material on record and had returned concurrent findings against appellant. The acid is undoubtedly a corrosive substance within the meaning of S. 326 IPC. The victim remained hospitalised for more than 50 days. It would be wholly unrealistic to postulate that even with such extensive acid burn injuries from head to thigh on the left portion of his body and long-drawn hospitalisation, the victim may not have been in severe bodily pain for a period of more than 20 days. Appellant was rightly been convicted under S. 326, but the punishment awarded to him, being of simple imprisonment for a term of one year and fine of Rs 5000, was rather towards the side of inadequacy. However, having regard to facts and circumstances of the case and more particularly the facts that the offence was committed in year 1997 and appellant-accused is now said to be 63 years of age, sentence not enhanced. [Omanakuttan v. State of Kerala, (2019) 6 SCC 262]

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 — Ss. 3 to 6, 16-A, 17, 17-A and 20 to 24 and Form F of 1996 Rules: In accordance to the Act, the statutory requirement of record keeping of ultrasonography of pregnant women, is mandatory in nature and every entry is required to be made in terms of Form F of 1996 Rules. Validity of presumption of guilt against person conducting such ultrasonography under S. 4(3) proviso for offences under Ss. 5 and 6 and penalty under Ss. 23(1) and (2), in case of deficiency and inaccuracy in record keeping, upheld. It is not arbitrary or unconstitutional. Maintenance of such record, that is, the requirements of filling name and address of laboratory, name and age of patient, etc., and other details in Form F of 1996 Rules, is mandatory. [Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecological Societies of India v. Union of India, (2019) 6 SCC 283]

Rent Control and Eviction — Tenancy/Tenant — Statutory tenant: Even after death of landlord having life interest and termination of contractual tenancy, held, under the E.P. Rent Act, tenant remains protected and continues in possession as statuary tenant till his/her eviction under Rent Control Act. [R.S. Grewal v. Chander Parkash Soni, (2019) 6 SCC 216]

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 — S. 3(1)(x) — Ingredients of offence: Abuse without reference to caste or tribe will not bring the matter within umbrage of S. 3(1)(x), though the same may be punishable under S. 294 IPC. [Narad Patel v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 6 SCC 268]

Service Law — Contractual post/Contractual engagment — Termination of service in terms of contract of service — Legality of: In this case, Respondent was contractually appointed for a period of one year or until shortage of drivers was met, whichever was earlier. Contract of service stipulated that his services could be dispensed with without any notice. Hence held, action of appellant in terminating services of respondent without notice cannot be faulted with. [Rajasthan SRTC v. Paramjeet Singh, (2019) 6 SCC 250]

Service Law — Promotion — Norms/Principles/Rules applicable: In this case, Letter dt. 28-4-2008 was issued by appellant State inviting recommendations for appointment by way of promotion to Orissa Administrative Service, Class II (Recruitment) Rules, 1978 cadre against 150 vacancies. Extant rules and regulations occupying field then were OAS Class II Rules, 1978 and Orissa Administrative Service, Class II (Appointment by Promotion and Selection) Regulations, 1978. The names of 559 candidates, including contesting respondents were merely recommended and recruitment process had not proceeded any further. Thus, contesting respondents had not acquired any accrued or vested right of selection or promotion to OAS Class II posts. Meanwhile, in 2009 State had restructured cadre and in place of OAS Class II cadre, Orissa Revenue Service Group ‘B’ cadre had come into existence. Contesting respondents had neither challenged abolition of old posts not creation of new cadre, but rather some of them had participated in proceedings of DPC convened for recruitment to newly created cadre. The Supreme Court held that, respondents cannot claim any lien over abolished OAS Class-II posts which were governed by 1978 Rules and Regulations. Impugned judgment directing appointment of respondents against vacancies in abolished cadre in accordance with repealed Rules was held contrary to law and liable to be set aside. [State of Orissa v. Dhirendra Sundar Das, (2019) 6 SCC 270]

Service Law — Retirement/Superannuation — Age of superannuation — Respondent Drivers of appellant Corporation — Whether fell in Category ‘C’ or ‘D’ — Implications of pay revision: In terms of Service Regulations, 1981 prevailing at relevant time in this case, employees earning less than Rs 200 salary would fall in Group ‘D’ category and retire at 60 yrs of age while employees earning more than Rs 200 were to fall in Group ‘C’ category and retire at 58 yrs of age. Respondent Drivers when appointed earning less than Rs 200. However, their pay scale revised to Rs 335 in the year 1982 w.e.f. date of their initial appointment and they also paid arrears from that date, which was again revised in the year 1985 to Rs 335-8-415-10-495 and above. Further, pursuant to resolution passed by Board of Directors, which was also notified, they were placed in Group ‘C’ category. The Supreme Court held that Labour Court as well as High Court erred in holding respondent Drivers in Group ‘D’ category and consequently their age of superannuation to be 60 yrs. Having taken advantage of revised pay retrospectively and also accepted arrears, not open to respondent Drivers to contend that as per their original pay scale, their salary was less than Rs 200 and they would retire at 60 yrs of age. Appellant Corporation rightly retired/superannuated respective respondent Drivers on attaining 58 yrs of age. [U.P. SRTC v. Maslahuddin, (2019) 6 SCC 196]

Specific Relief Act, 1963 — Ss. 10, 16 and 20 — Decree for specific performance — Readiness and willingness of plaintiff: Whether plaintiff possessed sufficient funds to pay balance consideration is inconsequential where defendant himself failed to perform his part of contract. Whether plaintiff demonstrated his bona fides when called upon by court to deposit balance consideration is needed to be considered. Furthermore, insistence by vendee on measurement of land, and production of all documents (including litigation documents) making out a complete chain of title by vendor, before paying balance consideration do not militate against readiness and willingness of vendee to perform its part of the contract. Plea of hardship to defendant if decree for specific performance is passed long after execution of agreement to sell raised for first time before Supreme Court without taking that plea in written statement, not permissible. [Beemaneni Maha Lakshmi v. Gangumalla Appa Rao, (2019) 6 SCC 233]

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 — Ss. 43-D(2)(b), 16 and 18: In this case, statutory bail in default was granted to respondent-accused by High Court, after setting aside order of Special Court, holding that remand of respondent by Special Court for a further period of 90 days, was not in compliance with mandate of S. 43-D(2)(b), UAP Act. The Supreme Court held that the conclusions of High Court in impugned judgment were not correct. But, considering later developments and supporting facts, no interference was warranted with bail. Prosecution was given liberty to apply for cancellation of bail, if any exigency arises in future. [Union of India v. Mubarak, (2019) 6 SCC 252]

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