2020 SCC Vol. 5 Part 4

Constitution of India — Art. 141 — Unanimous decisions versus split decisions — Precedential value: There is no difference in precedential value of unanimous decisions and those rendered by majority in split decisions. Prayer to commute death sentence on ground that death sentence in appeal was not unanimously approved but was approved by a 2:1 split decision, rejected. The contention that death ought not to be awarded in case of a single dissent notwithstanding opinion of majority is not supported by precedents. [Manoharan v. State, (2020) 5 SCC 782]

Constitution of India — Art. 145(3) — Substantial question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution: Questions of law formulated by two-Judge Bench of Supreme Court in para 14 of its order in Subhash Chandra Agrawal, (2011) 1 SCC 496, referred to Constitution Bench of Supreme Court, as earlier directed by the two-Judge Bench on 26-11-2010. [Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, (2020) 5 SCC 674]

Constitution of India — Art. 226 — Maintainability — Delay/Laches: In this case, petitioners were challenging appointments made during years 2001 and 2003 only in the years 2012 and 2013 after they becoming qualified in year 2011. It was held that the petitioners were not entitled to any relief on ground of unexplained laches and inordinate delay of about more than 10 yrs in challenging appointments. Besides, though relief was claimed against State, benefit of regularisation was sought to be denied to appointed Teachers, who were not even impleaded as party respondents (Association impleaded as third respondent without furnishing any material to show that majority of appointees were members of said Association). [Chander Mohan Negi v. State of H.P., (2020) 5 SCC 732]

Constitution of India — Arts. 19(1)(a) & (2), 19(1)(g) & (6) and Art. 21 — Curtailment of fundamental rights (due to restriction on internet services in Jammu and Kashmir herein) — For reasons of national security (due to crossborder terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir): Fundamental rights, reiterated, need to be balanced with national security concerns, in line with the constitutional principles, when situation so demands. [Foundation for Media Professionals v. State (UT of J&K), (2020) 5 SCC 746]

Consumer Protection — Services — Banking/Shares/Securities and other Financial Services: Under-insurance by bank i.e. non-insuring of whole of the hypothecated assets of the borrower by the bank, amounted to deficiency of service, when the bank contractually bound to do so. Obtaining of insurance of only some of such assets by bank is not permissible when the bank exercises the option to itself insure the goods. [Canara Bank v. Leatheroid Plastics (P) Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 722]

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 — Ss. 13(2)(a) and 13(2)(b)(ii) r/w Ss. 13(3), 13(3-A), 13(4), 14 and 24-A: Limitation period for filing reply/response to the complaint by the respondent/opposite party, mandatorily cannot be extended beyond the prescribed period of 45 days (i.e. period of 30 days along with discretionary extension of time up to 15 days). [New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage (P) Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 757]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters Re Educational Institutions — Officers/Authorities/Staff, Faculty, etc. — Teachers/Part-time Teachers/Lecturers — Assistant Director in Centre for Adult Continuing Education and Extension (CACEE): In this case, appellant was appointed in CACEE w.e.f. 26-12-1989 which received sanction of University vide letter dt. 1-2-1990. CACEE was established on temporary basis for purpose of eradicating illiteracy. Posts in CACEE were not included in schedule to the University First Ordinances, 1978 which indicating that posts in Centre were not posts in University. Further, for a person to be “Teacher” in terms of S. 2(27) of 1974 Rules, he/she should be imparting instruction or supervising research in any of the colleges of recognized institutions.“College” in terms of S. 2(7) means an institution maintained by or affiliated to University while “recognised institution” as envisaged under S. 2(19) means institution for research or special studies other than affiliated college, recognised as such by University. Centre not a “college” since it is neither maintained nor affiliated to University, nor any evidence produced to establish that it was an institution recognised by University within meaning of S. 2(19). The Supreme Court in this case held that when appellant does not fulfil requirement of “Teacher”, he cannot claim applicability of Statute 10 of Kerala University First Statutes, 1977 and claim to retire at 60 yrs of age. Further held, even assuming that appellant was imparting instruction in different courses in the Centre, that cannot make him “Teacher” within meaning of Ss. 2(27) and (28). Furthermore, Government Letter dt. 3-10-2014 merging Centre with Institute of Distance Education also supports conclusion that Centre was not maintained by University but was self-financing centre. [P. Gopinathan Pillai v. University of Kerala, (2020) 5 SCC 711]

GST — Central Goods and Services Act, 2017 — Ss. 67(8) and 67(6) — Search and seizure — Release of seized goods — Procedure to be followed: The directions for release of seized goods by extricating the assessees from paying the applicable tax amount in cash, in exercise of writ jurisdiction by the High Court, not valid, when mechanism already provided for in the Act and the Rules for release. [State of U.P. v. Kay Pan Fragrance (P) Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 811]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — S. 166 — Contributory negligence — If any — Determination of: In this case, deceased victim on two-wheeler at night dashed into truck trailer parked on road without any reflectors. The Supreme Court held that once substantive evidence of eyewitness before MACT established that truck trailer had been parked on road at night without any reflectors, there was no reason or justification for MACT to proceed on basis of conjecture in arriving at a finding of contributory negligence. The High Court had not discussed this at all and simply proceeded to confirm finding of contributory negligence. Consequently, it was held, there was no contributory negligence. [Jumani Begam v. Ram Narayan, (2020) 5 SCC 807]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/34 — Murder in furtherance of common intention: In this case of collective assault resulted in death of one due to stabbing, there was involvement of 4 accused persons (including 3 appellant-accused herein). Prior meeting of minds of all accused, was established and all 3 appellants were found having intention common with that of fourth accused, who inflicted multiple injuries on deceased with knife. There were sufficient materials available, to establish that all appellants returned together to place of occurrence and attacked deceased victim. Eyewitnesses gave uniform account of assault on deceased and no major contradiction or discrepancy in their statements in course of their examination, was made out. Delay in filing FIR, was also properly explained. It was held that although eyewitnesses were known to deceased, and there was no neutral witness, but for that factor alone, appellants cannot be exonerated. Hence, conviction of appellants under Ss. 302/34, and sentence of life imprisonment with fine and default stipulation, was confirmed. [Dhanpal v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 5 SCC 705]

Service Law — Departmental Enquiry — De novo/Fresh enquiry — When envisaged — Violation of principles of natural justice: In this case there were allegations pertaining to appointment of more than 500 Asstt. Teachers in Basic Schools in State of U.P. in violation of 1981 Rules. The High Court by impugned judgment set aside dismissal order and remitted matter to disciplinary authority to hold enquiry afresh from stage of charge-sheet finding that enquiry was held in violation of principles of natural justice. The Supreme Court held that serious allegations of corruption raised against respondent State require determination in full-fledged enquiry by disciplinary authority. [Ramesh Singh v. State of U.P., (2020) 5 SCC 677]

Service Law — Pension — Pension Scheme — General Provident Fundcum- pension-cum-gratuity benefit (Triple Benefit Scheme) — Extension of benefit to employees of deficit colleges vide amendment dt. 15-1-2014 — Prescription of cut-off date of 31-8-2010: In this case, in absence of arbitrariness in applicability of cut-off date as well as rationality behind it based on date of Cabinet decision granting Triple Benefit Scheme to such deficit grant colleges no interference with impugned judgment denying benefit of said Scheme to appellants who retired before 31-8-2010 is called for. [Mohd. Ali Imam v. State of Bihar, (2020) 5 SCC 685]

Service Law — Retirement/Superannuation — Voluntary retirement — Retiral benefits: In this case, the application dt. 28-7-2005 seeking voluntary retirement was not considered and subsequent resignation dt. 3-5-2006 was accepted. While considering the claim to retiral benefits, the Supreme Court held that though respondent’s husband was qualified to appear for voluntary retirement in terms of R. 50(2) of the Pension Rules, 1996, required its acceptance by appointing authority. Besides, when respondent’s husband submitted application for voluntary retirement he was already issued two charge-sheets alleging misconduct and pending disciplinary proceedings he had no absolute right seeking acceptance of his application for voluntary retirement since employer keen on proceeding with inquiry would be entitled not to consider the application. Moreover, proceeding pertaining to charge-sheet culminated in final order dt. 3-9-2005 whereunder punishment of withholding of increment was imposed. Thus, non-consideration of application for voluntary retirement was justified. Furthermore, on acceptance of respondent’s husband application for resignation he was relieved on 31-5-2006 and terminal benefits were paid, which he accepted and no dispute pertaining to same was raised during his lifetime. Impugned judgment directing payment of retiral benefits in writ petition filed belatedly in the year 2012 holding subsequent resignation dt. 3-5-2006 be considered as application for voluntary retirement, was held unsustainable and liable to be set aside. [Rajasthan SRTC v. Mohani Devi, (2020) 5 SCC 741]

Service Law — Seniority — Determination of seniority — Direct recruits vis-à-vis promotees — Inter se seniority — Rota-quota principle: In this case it was held that though N.R. Parmar, (2012) 13 SCC 340, purportedly interpreted Central Government OMs dt. 7-2-1986 and 3-7-1986 yet in effect it misconstrued them, and for this reason, it did not properly consider the purport of subsequent clarificatory OM dt. 3-3-2008. General principle of law, further held, is that a direct recruit cannot get backdated notional seniority earlier than he joined service. N.R. Parmar case, insofar as it confers backdated seniority with reference to initiation of recruitment process, is not sustainable in law. N.R. Parmar case overruled and Jagdish Ch. Patnaik, (1998) 4 SCC 456 affirmed on this point.  However, inter se seniority where already fixed by applying N.R. Parmar case and the Central Government OM dated 4-3-2014 based thereon, protected. [K. Meghachandra Singh v. Ningam Siro, (2020) 5 SCC 689]

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