2020 SCC Vol. 2 February 7, 2020 Part 1

Constitution of India — Arts. 137, 142, 145(3), 25 and 26 — Scope of review jurisdiction: In review petitions and writ petitions questioning judgments of majority Judges in Sabarimala Temple, (2019) 11 SCC 1, having regard to the issues raised, the recurring issues pertaining to rights flowing from Arts. 25 and 26 referred to a larger Bench of appropriate size, of not less than seven Judges, in exercise of Court’s plenary power to do complete and substantial justice, to instill public confidence and to effectuate principle underlying Art. 145(3). Hence, directed review petitions as well as the writ petitions questioning judgments of majority Judges in Sabarimala Temple, (2019) 11 SCC 1, may, accordingly, remain pending until determination of the questions indicated herein by the larger Bench as may be constituted by the Chief Justice of India. Further observed, issues raised in other pending writ petitions, relating to entry of Muslim women into dargah/mosque, Parsi women married to non-Parsis into Agyari and practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra Community, may be overlapping and covered by the judgment under review. Prospect of the issues arising in these latter cases being referred to larger Benches cannot be ruled out. Thus, the common and recurring issues concerning interpretation of Arts. 25 and 26, which the larger Bench may consider, enumerated. [Kantaru Rajeevaru (Sabarimala Temple Review-5 J.) v. Indian Young Lawyers Assn., (2020) 2 SCC 1]

Constitution of India — Art. 32 — Transfer of investigation: Plea for transfer of investigation from State Police to independent Central agency was rejected, as there was no material to doubt propriety or efficacy of investigation conducted by State Police. Moreover, adequate protection had been granted to petitioner and her family by court concerned. [ABCD v. Union of India, (2020) 2 SCC 52]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302 and 323: In appeal against acquittal in respect of charge under S. 302, when accused had been convicted only under S. 323, interference, held, not warranted when accused had already served more than 14 yrs’ imprisonment. [State of M.P. v. Amar Lal, (2020) 2 SCC 64]

Environment Law — Development Projects — Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, bearing S.O. 1533 — Paras 2 and 7 — Interpretation of: Objectives of EIA Notification, clarified. The amendment of environmental clearance (EC) which had already been granted, for expansion of projects, is not permissible. Fresh clearance can be obtained from authorities for expansion, held, only by following procedure laid down under Para 7(ii). Mandatory nature thereof, emphasized. [Keystone Realtors (P) Ltd. v. Anil V. Tharthare, (2020) 2 SCC 66]

Criminal Trial — Circumstantial Evidence — Links in the chain of circumstances: In this case, deceased victim was strangulated to death and her face was burnt with acid beyond recognition. Motive behind murder, stood established and testimonies of witnesses, was held trustworthy. Conduct of accused persons after murder was found suspicious. Disclosure statement of one of accused led to recovery of half empty bottle of acid, used for disfigurement of face of deceased, with intention to avoid identification of dead body. Even though witness of last seen could not identify accused persons in court as persons who threw jute bag (containing body of deceased), fact that jute bag was thrown by a man and a woman on TVS motorcycle is relevant in chain of events in support of prosecution case. Extra-judicial confession of one of accused stood supported by medical evidence. Prosecution proved chain of circumstances to prove guilt of accused persons, hence, conviction was confirmed. [Darshan Singh v. State of Punjab, (2020) 2 SCC 78]

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 — Ss. 17, 7 and 13 — Persons authorized to investigate: Investigation by police officers of Inspector rank is only an irregularity. Unless such irregularity resulted in causing prejudice, conviction will not be vitiated and bad in law. [Vinod Kumar Garg v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 2 SCC 88]

 Infrastructure Laws — Carriage by Air/Aircraft and Airports — Air Safety Measures: For control of vector borne diseases on aircraft, directions issued regarding disinfecting of aircraft. Expert Committee appointed to make enquiry into the various issues involved and report to the Court for further action. [InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. v. Union of India, (2020) 2 SCC 103]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 37 r/w S. 34: Delay beyond the period of 120 days in filing an appeal under S. 37 is non-condonable. Following the ruling in Varindera Constructions Ltd., (2020) 2 SCC 111, held, any delay beyond 120 days in the filing of an appeal under S. 37 from an application being either dismissed or allowed under S. 34 cannot be allowed. Further, clarified that the said period of 120 days, comprises of a grace period of 30 days under S. 5 of the Limitation Act added to the prescribed period of 90 days. [N.V. International v. State of Assam, (2020) 2 SCC 109]

Consumer Protection — Consumer/Consumer Dispute/Locus Standi — Generally: In case of self-contributory scheme for the benefit of employees run by a trust and not the employer, service provider was the trust, and not the employer. Hence, held, the employer cannot be held liable as service provider under Consumer Protection Act. [ONGC v. Consumer Education Research Society, (2020) 2 SCC 113]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 439 — Bail — Proper exercise of discretionary power: It is a sound exercise of judicial discipline for an order granting or rejecting bail to record the reasons which have weighed with the court for the exercise of its discretionary power. Furthermore, where an order refusing or granting bail does not furnish the reasons that inform the decision, there is a presumption of non-application of mind. Where an earlier application for bail has been rejected, there is a higher burden on the appellate court to furnish specific reasons as to why bail should be granted. [Mahipal v. Rajesh Kumar, (2020) 2 SCC 118]

Service Law — Departmental Enquiry — Judicial review/Validity — Judicial review — Scope — Departmental enquiry vis-à-vis criminal proceedings — Standard of proof: Interference with orders passed pursuant to departmental enquiry can only be in case of “no evidence”. Sufficiency of evidence is not within realm of judicial review. [State of Bihar v. Phulpari Kumari, (2020) 2 SCC 130]

Armed Forces — Pension — One Rank One Pension (OROP) — Entitlement to: In this case, respondents working in non-gazetted posts in Department of Posts under GoI, sent on deputation in Army Postal Service (APS) and retiring from APS on attaining age of superannuation, are entitled to OROP, if any. [Union of India v. Om Dutt Sharma, (2020) 2 SCC 133]

Service Law — Seniority — Determination of seniority: In this case, Regn. 20 of the U.P. Jal Nigam Subordinate Engineering Service Regulations, 1978, mandated appointing authority to make appointments from candidates in order in which they stand in list prepared under Regns. 16(2), 17 or 18 while Regn. 23 provided that seniority of employees would be as per date of substantive appointment. The Supreme Court held that appointment in Regn. 23 must be read in terms of Regn. 20 mandating manner of appointment. Hence, irrespective of date of appointment, seniority has to be fixed as per merit of candidate determined by Selection Committee. Further held, Regn. 6 contemplates that reservation of candidates shall be in accordance with government orders and thus, Government Order dt. 31-8-2001 becomes applicable to determine extent of reservation which includes method of fixing seniority as well i.e. seniority was to be determined as per roster fixed under Regn. 6. Further, argument that seniority has to be fixed as per R. 5 of Uttarakhand Government Servant Seniority Service Rules, 2002, liable to be rejected since 2002 Rules were made applicable only in the year 2011. Seniority directed to be recast in order of merit by assigning seniority as per roster points stipulated in Circular dt. 31-8-2001. [Dharmendra Prasad v. Sunil Kumar, (2020) 2 SCC 146]

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 — S. 19 — Retired public servant — Non-entitlement to protection under S. 19 of PC Act: Protection under S 19 of PC Act is available to a public servant only till he is in employment and no sanction thereunder is necessary after the public servant has demitted office or has retired from service.  As regards sanction under S. 197 CrPC, for an action to come within purview of S. 197 CrPC, it must be integrally connected with official duties or functions of public servant concerned, and if the office was merely used as a cloak to indulge in activities which result in unlawful gain to the beneficiaries, the protection under said S. 197 CrPC would not be available. [CBI v. B.A. Srinivasan, (2020) 2 SCC 153]

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