2019 SCC Vol. 9 November 21, 2019 Part 5

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 34 and 37 — Award — Non-interference with, when findings of fact arrived at by arbitrators are on basis of evidence on record and not perverse — Concurrent view of courts below in proceedings under Ss. 34 and 37 — Effect of: In this case, Arbitral Tribunal arrived at finding that termination of contract by State was illegal and without following due procedure as required under contract and partly allowed claims of claimants while dismissing counterclaims of State. The Supreme Court held that findings were on appreciation of evidence considering relevant provisions and material on record as well as on interpretation of relevant provisions of the contract, which were neither perverse nor contrary to evidence on record. Further, cogent reasons had been given by Arbitral Tribunal qua respective claims. Thus, held, award was not required to be interfered with, particularly, when in the proceedings under Ss. 34 and 37 of Arbitration Act, petitioners had failed. [State of Jharkhand v. HSS Integrated SDN, (2019) 9 SCC 798]

Criminal Law — Criminal Trial — Medical Jurisprudence/Evidence — Asphyxia/Throttling/Strangulation/Hanging — Cause of death — Whether suicidal or homicide: In this case, medical opinion was that cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation, and it was the prosecution case that deceased had been strangled and then his body had been hanged from ceiling fan. The surrounding factors were that feet of hanging dead body were touching the floor; knees were bent; slippers were not removed; and room in question was wide open. As alleged by accused, as per medical jurisprudence, scratches, abrasions, bruises, etc. are usually present and hyoid bone would be usually found broken in case of strangulation but, in the present case, there being no such marks nor hyoid bone was broken, hence, it was not a case of strangulation. The Supreme Court held that there was no infirmity in findings of courts below that it was a case of strangulation, as could be seen from post-mortem report that dead body carried “well-defined depressed ligature mark measuring 3 cm wide seen encircling the neck around thyroid cartilage with a knot present on left side of neck and this ligature mark was ante-mortem in nature”. Other ligature mark on the neck was 1.5 cm wide and that was post-mortem in nature. The board had undoubtedly been of the opinion that cause of death was “asphyxia due to strangulation”. With such categorical medical opinion coupled with all relevant features surrounding suspended dead body in the room in question, it is difficult to say that it had been a case of suicide merely because hyoid bone was not broken or because marks of resistance like abrasions/scratches were not reported. Presence of marks of resistance would depend on a variety of factors, including the method and manner of execution of the act of strangulation by culprits; and mere want of such marks cannot be decisive of the matter. Equally, it is not laid down as an absolute rule in medical jurisprudence that in all cases of strangulation, hyoid bone would invariably be fractured. On the contrary, medical jurisprudence suggests that only in a fraction of such cases, a fracture of hyoid bone is found. In other words, absence of fracture of hyoid bone would not lead to conclusion that deceased did not die of strangulation. Hence, deceased was done to death by strangulation and thereafter, his dead body was hanged from ceiling fan in the room. [Gargi v. State of Haryana, (2019) 9 SCC 738]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 319: The principles for exercise of power under the section, summarized. It was also held that the issuance of summons under S. 319 in absence of prima facie case of the standard as laid down in Hardeep Singh, (2014) 3 SCC 92, not permissible. [Mani Pushpak Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand, (2019) 9 SCC 805]

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 — S. 238 r/w S. 9 — Prior consent of the Central Government as provided under S. 16-G(1)(c) of Tea Act qua winding up/liquidation proceedings — Non-requirement of, for initiation of proceedings under S. 9 IBC: Provisions of IBC, held, have overriding effect over Tea Act, 1953 S. 16-G(1)(c) refers to consent qua proceeding for winding up of company or for appointment of receiver while proceedings under S. 9 IBC are not be limited and/or restricted to winding up and/or appointment of receiver only and the winding up/liquidation of company is to be last resort and only on an eventuality when corporate insolvency resolution process fails. Further, primary focus of legislation while enacting IBC is to ensure revival and continuation of corporate debtor by protecting corporate debtor from its own management and from a corporate debt by liquidation and such corporate insolvency resolution process is to be completed in a time-bound manner. Therefore, entire “corporate insolvency resolution process” as such cannot be equated with “winding-up proceedings”. Further, S. 238 IBC, which is a subsequent Act to Tea Act, 1953, is applicable and the provisions of IBC shall have an overriding effect over Tea Act, 1953. Thus, held, that no prior consent of Central Government before initiation of the proceedings under S. 7 or S. 9 IBC would be required and even without such consent of Central Government, the insolvency proceedings under S. 7 or S. 9 IBC initiated by operational creditor shall be maintainable. [Duncans Industries Ltd. v. AJ Agrochem, (2019) 9 SCC 725]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302, 376, 376-A and 201 — Death sentence — Cases involving rape and murder of minors/children but based on circumstantial evidence: Death sentence, held, can be awarded in appropriate cases. The act that case is based on circumstantial evidence cannot by itself be a ground for not awarding death sentence. Victims owing to their tender age can put up no resistance. Thus, it is likely that there would be no ocular evidence. Not awarding death sentence for lack of ocular evidence even if case proved beyond reasonable doubt, and if case satisfies all requirements for award of death sentence, is not a correct approach. Such reasoning, if applied uniformly and mechanically will have devastating effects on society which is dominant stakeholder in the administration of our criminal justice system. [Ravishankar v. State of M.P., (2019) 9 SCC 689]

Punjab State Agricultural Marketing Board (Sale and Transfer of Plots) Rules, 1999 (as first amended in 2008) — Rr. 3(iii), 3(iii-a) and 3(iv): The imposition of conditions for allotment of shop/plots therein, held, not ultra vires the Constitution. The view that licence is mandatory to carry out business in agricultural market, emphasised. Gap of more than 3 months in expiry of old licence and issuance of new licence cannot be condoned by Market Committee or Market Board unless satisfactory explanation offered by dealer that reasons were beyond his control; then even though he may not be in strict compliance with the Rules, power of relaxation must be read into Rules. [Walaiti Ram Charan Dass v. State of Punjab, (2019) 9 SCC 779]

Service Law — Policy/Policy decision/Policy matter — Rehabilitation policy: Assurance to reserve 25% of future daily wage employment vacancies which would arise in respondent State Corporation for displaced abkari workers who were members of the Abkari Workers Welfare Fund Board and whose services were terminated due to the ban of arrack in the State, held, did not create a vested right of re-employment. [Kerala State Beverages (M&M) Corpn. Ltd. v. P.P. Suresh, (2019) 9 SCC 710]

 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 — S. 20-A(1) — Applicability when offences are under TADA as well as other statutes — Scope of: Whether police may record information and start investigation as to other offences without waiting to record information in respect of TADA offences, held, depends upon facts of each case. If offences under other Acts are serious like murder, rape, smuggling, NDPS Act, POCSO Act offence(s), etc., investigation cannot be delayed only because TADA Act is involved but if offence(s) under other statutes are of the nature of an ancillary offence, then information cannot be recorded without complying with S. 20-A(1) of TADA. [Ebha Arjun Jadeja v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 9 SCC 789]

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