2020 SCC Vol. 5 Part 1

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 21 R. 89 and S. 151 — Auction-sale of property of guarantor in execution of decree: In this case, no opportunity was given to guarantor to repay entire decretal amount due before putting said property to sale. There was allegation of non-compliance with requirements of Or. 21 R. 89 CPC and application for setting aside the sale was also under S. 151 CPC. It was held that the property auctioned was that of guarantor, and even before auction-sale was held, said guarantor had started repaying the due amount in instalments and had repaid the full sum due, soon after auction-sale was confirmed. In such circumstances, without expressing any view on compliance/non-compliance with requirements of Or. 21 R. 89 CPC, the Supreme Court held, High Court had rightly set aside the auction-sale. [Paul v. T. Mohan, (2020) 5 SCC 138]

Contract and Specific Relief — Termination/Discharge of Contract — Termination by Frustration/Impossibility — Grounds of Frustration — Generally — Force majeure events: In case of occurrence of an event which renders performance of contract impossible, by virtue of S. 56, Contract Act, 1872, contract in such a case, held, becomes void and parties are exempted from further performance thereof. However, in terms of S. 32 of Contract Act, parties may instead choose consequences that would flow on happening of an uncertain future event. Further, under S. 65 of Contract Act, a limited mechanism exists to ameliorate harsh consequences of frustration of contract. Furthermore, in order to mitigate the harsh consequences of frustration and to uphold the sanctity of the contract, the parties may choose to mitigate the risk by inserting force majeure clauses, in which case the matter would be governed by the clause in question. [South East Asia Marine Engg. & constructions Ltd. (SEAMEC Ltd.) v. Oil India Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 164]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 438 — Grant of anticipatory bail: Law clarified regarding (1) When may be granted; (2) Offences in respect of which may be granted [except where there is a statutory bar or restriction]; (3) Duration for which may be granted; (4) Anticipatory bail granted cannot be a blanket protection; (5) Normal conditions; and Restrictive conditions that may be imposed while granting anticipatory bail, depending on facts and circumstances of the case; (6) Requirements of investigating agency under S. 27 of Evidence Act, met by concept of deemed custody when accused is on anticipatory bail; (7) Effect of filing of charge-sheet/issuance of summons in a case where accused is on anticipatory bail; (8) Recourse of investigating agency to have accused on anticipatory bail arrested at any time by order of court under S. 439(2), if circumstances so warrant (it being not always necessary to seek cancellation of the bail therefor); (9) Permissibility of exclusion of right to anticipatory bail by statute. [Sushila Aggarwal v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 5 SCC 1]

Energy, Power and Electricity — Electricity — Tariff — PPA: PPA is a statutory contract and it can be varied by statutory notifications. Notifications dt. 30-3-1992 and 6-11-1995 under S. 43-A of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, are statutory and binding on the parties. Further, any PPA between a generating company and the purchaser of electricity is subject to such statutory notifications. Parties by agreement cannot override statutory provisions, or such notifications, as far as they relate to matters of tariff. [CLP (India) (P) Ltd. v. Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 185]

Environment Law — Monuments and Environment — ‘Sisodia Rani ka Bagh’ monument located on Jaipur-Agra Highway: Directions were issued for protection of wildlife in reserve forest area and prohibition of laser lights, loud music and fireworks in monument. National Green Tribunal (NGT) completely prohibited all activities in ‘Sisodia Rani ka Bagh’ monument. As restricted use of monument was not going to affect wildlife and forest, and in view of the value of developmental projects of monument and surrounding area, order of NGT was modified. The Supreme Court would itself monitor beautification and other developmental projects relating to monument. However, laser lights, loud music and fireworks, completely prohibited. [Deptt. of Archaeology & Museums v. Ashish Gautam, (2020) 5 SCC 112] 

Evidence Act, 1872 — Ss. 65 and 66 — Secondary evidence — When can be admitted: Factual foundational evidence must be adduced showing reasons for not furnishing evidence. Mere admission in evidence and making exhibit of a document not enough as the same has to be proved in accordance with law. [Jagmail Singh v. Karamjit Singh, (2020) 5 SCC 178]

Human and Civil Rights — Humanitarian and Natural Disasters, Epidemics and Pandemics — COVID-19 Pandemic: In this case, there was challenge to Advisory whereby Rs 4500 was fixed as the price for screening and confirming COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by private labs. While considering overall aspects of matter, directions were issued for free of cost testing facility of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by government or private labs, and tests to be carried out by labs accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). [Shashank Deo Sudhi v. Union of India, (2020) 5 SCC 132]

Human and Civil Rights — Humanitarian and Natural Disasters, Epidemics and Pandemics — COVID-19 Pandemic: The ambit of directions issued regarding free testing of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) cases by government or private labs in Shashank Deo Sudhi, (2020) 5 SCC 132, clarified. [Shashank Deo Sudhi v. Union of India, (2020) 5 SCC 134]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 or S. 304 or S. 326 [S. 300 Exceptions 1 and 2] and S. 148: In this case, there was assault by accused persons (5 in number), with intention of taking revenge on account of right-of-way dispute, leading to death of one and injuries to others. The blows inflicted by Respondent 1-Accused 5, were with intention to kill deceased. The death of deceased was caused due to blow inflicted by Accused 5, and was homicidal death. The exercise of right of private defence also not made out as accused party were clearly the aggressors. The Supreme Court held that the High Court not correct in converting offence under S. 302 to one under S. 326. However, Accused 5, at relevant time, was deprived of power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, due to repeated unauthorised entry by complainant party, on fields belonging to accused party. Further, solitary fatal blow on vital part of head, by Accused 5, caused death of deceased. The provocation was not invited by accused party, but was at instance of complainant party. As death of deceased was caused by act of Accused 5, giving one fatal blow on head, which was with intention of causing his death or causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, case would be covered by S. 304 Pt. I IPC. [State of Rajasthan v. Mehram, (2020) 5 SCC 143]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/34 or S. 324: In this case, conviction of accessory accused (appellant A-3 herein) under Ss. 302/34 held, not sustainable given role ascribed to him by prosecution and failure of prosecution to establish that he shared common intention to murder deceased with main assailant A-1. But, his conviction under S. 324 for having injured PW 1, and sentence thereof to undergo RI for 3 yrs and fine of Rs 500, with default stipulation, stood confirmed. [Chellappa v. State, (2020) 5 SCC 160]

Service Law — Deputation — Deputation allowance — Entitlement to — Commencement of deputation — When envisaged: Deputation envisages assignment of employee of one department/cadre/organisation to another department/cadre/organisation in public interest which normally involves consent of employee. In this case, till 11-9-2009, respondent continued to be under control of his parent organisation i.e. CISF and was also getting his pay and allowances from said authority. Hence, though respondent was sent to NDRF on 18-4 2008, he continued to be member of his Battalion and could not be said to be on deputation. [Union of India v. R. Thiyagarajan, (2020) 5 SCC 201]

Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 — S. 15 — Conviction on basis of confession to police — When permissible: Law summarised regarding when conviction is permissible on basis of confession to police. In this case, there was conviction for conspiracy in respect of offences under TADA Act and Explosive Substances Act on basis of confession of appellant-accused and confession statement of two other co-accused, made before police. Said confession of accused does not met the requirements for reliance upon the same, hence, the same rejected. Furthermore, as per S. 30 of Evidence Act, 1872, if for any reason, a joint trial is not held, confession of co-accused cannot be held to be admissible in evidence against another accused, who would face trial at a later point of time in same case. Since trial of two co-accused was separate, their confession statements are not admissible in evidence and same cannot be taken as evidence against appellant-accused herein. Hence, conviction of appellant was set aside. [Raja v. State of T.N., (2020) 5 SCC 118]

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