Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 11(6) — Appointment of arbitrator by Court: Furnishing of discharge voucher (by insured to insurer in present case) is not an absolute bar to invocation of the arbitration agreement, when the same is alleged to have been given under economic duress. An application under S. 11(6) is in the form of a pleading which merely seeks an order of the Court, for the appointment of an arbitrator and it cannot be conclusive of the pleas or contentions that the claimant or the party concerned can take in the arbitral proceedings. Therefore, at this stage, the Court which is required to ensure that an arbitrable dispute exists, has to be prima facie convinced about the genuineness or credibility of the plea of coercion; it cannot be too particular about the nature of the plea, which necessarily has to be made and established in the substantive (read: arbitration) proceeding. [Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Dicitex Furnishing Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 621]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 11(6) and 8 — Arbitration agreement contained in document compulsorily required to be stamped: When an instrument compulsorily required to be stamped, is relied upon as containing the arbitration agreement, the Court is required to consider at the outset, whether the document is properly stamped or not and the Court cannot act upon an arbitration clause in a document if the document is not properly stamped. However, if the deficit stamp duty and penalty is paid the document can be acted upon. [Dharmaratnakara Rai Bahadur Arcot Narainswamy Mudaliar Chattram v. Bhaskar Raju & Bros., (2020) 4 SCC 612]

 Bombay Entertainments Duty Act, 1923 (1 of 1923) — Ss. 3(2), 3(1) and 3(5) — Interpretation and application of S. 3(2) — Inter-relationship between Ss. 3(2), 3(1) and 3(5): Where activities of amusement park not covered under S. 3(2), such park not entitled for rebate of 50% of duty payable under S. 3(2). [State of Maharashtra v. Pan (India) Paryatan Ltd.,(2020) 4 SCC 687]

 Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 14 R. 1(1), Or. 8 Rr. 1 to 3 and Or. 20 R. 20 — Issues when arise: In this case of suit for partition of family property as per the will of the mother, the ground floor portion of the property was bequeathed to the respondent-plaintiff, the first floor portion was bequeathed to the appellant-defendant and the second floor portion was to be divided equally between the parties. Respondent-plaintiff filed a suit for partition and permanent injunction of the second floor and the terrace rights but appellant-defendant, in the written statement, raised a dispute in respect of common areas on the ground floor also. The Supreme Court held, having invited findings by raising a dispute of the common areas, the appellant-defendant cannot plead that the trial court as well as the appellate court have exceeded scope of the suit, in issuing directions for the common areas. Also, on facts, held, the judgment and final decree for partition, as ordered by the appellate court and directions issued with regard to common areas were in accordance with evidence on record and there was no merit in the appeals so as to interfere with the same. [Sajan Sethi v. Rajan Sethi, (2020) 4 SCC 589]

 Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 9 R. 13 — Ex parte decree — Setting aside of, subject to deposit of part amount, in the interest of justice: In this case, Respondent 1 filed a suit for permanent injunction and compensation of Rs 1 crore for trespass, nuisance and damages allegedly made by appellant- Defendant 1. Vide ex parte decree dated 7-10-2003, High Court decreed the suit and directed appellant and Respondent 2 to pay a sum of Rs 77,02,500 with interest thereon @ 6% p.a. from the date of filing the suit till the date of payment or realization. The appellant contended that summons of the original suit and the proceedings thereof were never served upon it. The Supreme Court held that though various contentions were raised as to whether the appellant was served or not and entered appearance in the suit, but without going into the merits of the same, an opportunity has to be given to appellant for contesting the suit. Further, considering the nature of the claim and other facts and circumstances and in the interest of justice, and also that appellant showed its bona fides by depositing Rs 60,00,000 in compliance of the Court order and also that the Court had directed the appellant to deposit further sum of Rs 35,00,000, appeal was allowed and suit ordered to be restored. [Aviation Travels (P) Ltd. v. Bhavesha Suresh Goradia, (2020) 4 SCC 680]

Consumer Protection — Services — Banking/Shares/Securities and other Financial Services: Non-submission of deceased insured’s insurance form and premium by collecting Bank to insurance company can be considered as deficiency of service. [Hemiben Ladhabhai Bhanderi v. Saurashtra Gramin Bank, (2020) 4 SCC 671]

Consumer Protection — Services — Insurance — Compensation — Fidelity insurance: In this case, Respondent complainant, a collateral management company, which undertook to store the commodities pledged by the farmers, traders and manufacturers, etc. in availing loan from lending banks and other institutions, stored commodities including urad and mentha oil in their warehouse and deployed security guards hired by it from the security agency, besides its own field staff. Respondent collateral management company, took fidelity guarantee insurance policy from the appellant opposite party, in respect of the pledged commodities stored in warehouses/godowns at several places. The Supreme Court held that the survey report itself indicated the involvement of employees of the respondent Company in removing 601 barrels of mentha oil stored by respondent Company. Further, immediately, after confirmation and 100% sampling, whereby it was disclosed that in all the barrels, mentha oil was substituted with water, a complaint was lodged by respondent complainant before Gadarpur Police Station. Also, sampling was completed only on 12-11-2008 and investigation report came to be submitted to respondent Company on 14-11-2008, and thereafter, claim was made before appellant on 18-11-2008. Thus, there was no delay on the part of respondent in lodging the claim. In this case, order of NCDRC, directing appellant opposite party to pay a sum of Rs 3,46,87,113 to respondent complainant as per the insurance policy with interest was upheld. [Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. National Bulk Handling Corpn. (P) Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 674]

 Electricity Act, 2003 — Ss. 56(1) and (2) — Disconnection of supply to consumer on account of non-payment of additional demand of electricity charges: S. 56(1) confers a statutory right to the licensee company to disconnect the supply of electricity, if the consumer neglects to pay the electricity dues and this statutory right is subject to the period of limitation of two years provided by S. 56(2). The liability to pay arises on the consumption of electricity and the obligation to pay would arise when the bill is issued by the licensee company, quantifying the charges to be paid. Thus, electricity charges would become “first due” only after the bill is issued to the consumer, even though the liability to pay may arise on the consumption of electricity. S. 56(2) does not preclude the licensee company from raising an additional or supplementary demand after the expiry of the limitation period under S. 56(2) in the case of a mistake or bona fide error, however, it does not empower the licensee company to take recourse to the coercive measure of disconnection of electricity supply, for recovery of the additional demand. [Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd. v. Rahamatullah Khan, (2020) 4 SCC 650]

Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 — S. 4 Expln. II and S. 4-A — Deletion of the deeming provision in S. 4 Expln. II (by Act 45 of 2009, w.e.f. 18-1-2010), which had capped the monthly wages of an employee at Rs 4000: The benefit of the amending Act enhancing the quantum of compensation would not apply to accidents that took place prior to the coming into force of the amendment. [K. Sivaraman v. P. Sathishkumar, (2020) 4 SCC 594]

Evidence Act, 1872 — Ss. 35, 74 and 76 — Proof of age: School leaving certificate/transfer certificate, on its own is not sufficient for proving date of birth, in the absence of examination of the official in-charge of school who recorded the date of birth in the school register. Proving of the records of School is necessary. [C. Doddanarayana Reddy v. C. Jayarama Reddy, (2020) 4 SCC 659]

Human and Civil Rights — Right to Information, Confidential Information and Data Protection — Information held by courts and tribunals — Information held by court on judicial side: The requirement under R. 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993 that third parties can access information held on judicial side of court, inter alia, relating to pending and decided cases, relevant documents and certified copies, only by filing an affidavit and by stating the reason for which the information is required, is in consonance with scheme of RTI Act and there is no inconsistency between these laws. Such information can be accessed only as per the High Court Rules, and not under RTI Act regime. [Chief Information Commr. v. High Court of Gujarat, (2020) 4 SCC 702]

Income Tax Act, 1961 — S. 153-C — Applicability and Invocation of: Principles clarified regarding essentialities to be complied with by assessing officer and modalities to be followed under different scenarios. [Super Malls (P) Ltd. v. CIT, (2020) 4 SCC 581]

 Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 — Ss. 138, 143-A and 144 — Expeditious disposal of cheque dishonour cases: The need for comprehensive mechanism for expeditious disposal of cheque dishonour cases, emphasized. Setting up mechanism for online disposal of cheque dishonour cases, directed.  Steps to be taken for securing presence of accused, enumerated. Duty of banks to provide email ID and other details of accused for speedy disposal of cases, emphasized. Legal Services Authority directed to develop mechanism for pre-litigation stage settlements. [Makwana Mangaldas Tulsidas v. State of Gujarat, (2020) 4 SCC 695]

 Oil, Petroleum and Natural Gas — Dealerships, Networks and Supply Contracts — Contract for setting up of City or Local Natural Gas Distribution Networks (CGD Networks): The validity of criterion formulated for determining reasonability of bid for its acceptance after the last date for the submission of bids, as in this case through a Board Note indicating a 2 to 100% range of projected PNG connections on the basis of total number of households, upheld. [Adani Gas Ltd. v. Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board, (2020) 4 SCC 529]

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006 — Ss. 30 and 37: The appeal before APTEL under 2006 Act directed to be transferred to the Supreme Court in the interest of justice. [AG&P LNG MKTG. PTE. Ltd. v. IMC Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 569]

Rajasthan Pre-emption Act, 1966 (1 of 1966) — Ss. 4, 5(1)(c) and 6 — Right of pre-emption — When accrues, even in cases where the vendee also has such rights: The right of pre-emption accrues on the transfer of any immovable property to the classes of persons mentioned in S. 6, however, the same is subject to S. 5. Further, as a result of S. 5(1)(c), where the vendee also has a right of pre-emption under S. 6, the right of pre-emption will only accrue to the person with a superior right of pre-emption. Further held, where any of the provisions of S. 5 come into operation, the right of pre-emption would not be available. [Suresh Chand v. Suresh Chander, (2020) 4 SCC 643]

Sikkim Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1977 (1 of 1978) — S. 5(1) [akin to S. 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894] and Ss. 3(1), 4(2) and 7(2) — Acquisition of land by State, without adhering to procedure prescribed by law: There cannot be a presumption of acquisition without following the due process as envisaged under Ss. 3(1), 4(2), 5(1) and 7(2) and the burden is on the State to prove that the process as envisaged under the Act is followed and the compensation paid. Further, following the procedure of S. 4(1) of the 1894 Act [akin to S. 5(1) of the said 1977 Act] is mandatory, and unless that notice is given in accordance with the provisions contained therein, the entire acquisition proceeding would be vitiated. Further, entry into the premises based on such non-compliance would result in the entry being unlawful. The law being expropriatory in character, the same is required to be strictly followed. Even though rights in land are no more a fundamental right, still it remains a constitutional right under Art. 300-A of the Constitution, and the provisions of any Act seeking to divest any person from the rights in property have to be strictly followed. [D.B. Basnett v. LAO, (2020) 4 SCC 572]

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