Arbitration Act, 1940 — Ss. 30 and 39 — Grounds for setting aside award: In this case, there was no allegation of misconduct and the District Judge not held justified in setting aside the award, As the dispute was related to partition of family properties, on facts, award was modified to the extent of agreement between parties. [Balwant Singh v. Dungar Singh, (2020) 7 SCC 647]

Armed Forces — Gender Equality/Equality of Opportunities — Claim for Permanent Commissions (PCs) by women officers engaged in Short Service Commissions (SSCs) — Entitlement to: In terms of S. 12 of the Army Act, 1950, eligibility of women for engagement or enrolment in regular Army is subject to provision being made by Central Government. The Policy dt. 25-2-2019 granting SSC women officers entitlement to PCs in eight Arms/Services in addition to existing streams of JAG & AEC, all of which belonged to the two broad categories of services in the Army of (i) Combat Support Arms and (ii) Services (not including the third category of Combat Arms), recognises right of women officers to equality of opportunity and must be construed as a decision which enforces fundamental rights of women to seek access to public appointment and equality of opportunity in matters of engagement in Armed Forces. Further held, fact that it was intended to apply prospectively does not mean that it would apply only to women officers who have been appointed as SSC officers after the date of the policy decision. [Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya, (2020) 7 SCC 469]

Constitution of India — Art. 21 — Right to life — Air pollution in NCT of Delhi: Stubble burning by farmers in States of Punjab, Haryana and U.P. is the main reason for air pollution in NCT of Delhi whereas construction and demolition, open dumping of waste/garbage, burning of garbage, unpaved road/pit, road dust, garbage burning and traffic congestion in NCT of Delhi are other reasons of pollution. State Governments and officials are obliged to pay compensation for tortious liability. Directions also issued in regard to other polluting factors. [M.C. Mehta (Stubble Burning & Air Quality) v. Union of India, (2020) 7 SCC 573]

Constitution of India — Art. 21 — Right to life: Regarding the issue of air pollution in Delhi and NCR, one of the major causes being crop stubble burning in the States surrounding NCR, including many other causes, having regard to reports/recommendations of various committees, affidavits filed by Governments concerned, directions issued by Supreme Court. [M.C. Mehta (Stubble Burning & Air Quality) v. Union of India, (2020) 7 SCC 530]

 Constitution of India — Arts. 21, 41, 47, 48, 48-A, 51-A(g) & (h) — Right to life — Air pollution in Delhi — Suo motu notice also taken of water pollution in Delhi and other places: There was no improvement in quality of air and water despite several orders of Supreme Court and tortious liability lies on Governments and their administrative machineries as insufficient steps were taken by Government for stopping stubble burning by farmers, garbage/waste cleaning and/or disposal, smog dispensing as per Supreme Court’s orders. Governments of Punjab, Haryana and U.P. and Government of NCT of Delhi and their administrative machinery from top to bottom must show cause why they should not be asked to compensate citizens of Delhi and adjoining areas for various diseases which are being caused and sufferings faced. [M.C. Mehta (Stubble Burning & Air Quality) v. Union of India, (2020) 7 SCC 592]

Environment Law — Air Pollution — Measures to prevent air pollution — Air pollution in Delhi and NCR: Authorities concerned must discharge their duties by working in tandem in view of doctrine of public trust and take drastic steps to curb pollution in Delhi. [M.C. Mehta (Stubble Burning & Air Quality) v. Union of India, (2020) 7 SCC 589]

Environment Law — Air Pollution — Stubble and Garbage burning — Right to life: Air pollution rose due to stubble burning by farmers in Punjab, Haryana and U.P. and NCT of Delhi. Such activity directed to be stopped. Relief and assistance granted to small and marginal farmers. [M.C. Mehta (Stubble Burning & Air Quality) v. Union of India, (2020) 7 SCC 581]

Family and Personal Laws — Guardians and Wards — Custody of Child/Minor — Visitation Rights: In this case, there was absolutely no resolution between hostile parents, despite repeated efforts by High Court and Supreme Court, including mediation, to bring parties to amicable resolution of the issues of custody and visitation rights. Interim order of Supreme Court deciding visitation rights directed to be continued. Parties granted liberty to approach competent court for adjudication of custody matter. [Soumitra Kumar Nahar v. Parul Nahar, (2020) 7 SCC 599]

Income Tax Act, 1961 — Ss. 260-A and 176 — Appeals — Discontinuation of assessee units or striking off of companies by Registrar of Companies — Effect of, on appeals: Such closure would not render appeals infructuous. The issue raised was still required to be considered as per proviso (a) of S. 560(5) of the Companies Act, 1956 [corresponding to S. 248(7) of the Companies Act, 2013] and under Cl. (L) of Ch. XV of the Income Tax Act. [CIT v. Gopal Shri Scrips (P) Ltd., (2020) 7 SCC 654]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 r/w S. 34 — Murder — Circumstantial evidence — Recovery of dead body and the weapon of offence: In this case, dead body and the gun used in the offence was allegedly recovered at the pointing out by accused S and R. There was allegedly a land dispute between deceased and accused S and the entire prosecution case was based upon telephone call made by S, but no call details have been produced to verify the correctness of telephone call. There were major contradictions between statement of PWs regarding recovery of dead body. The place of recovery of dead body was known to police, before the statements of accused were recorded. It was held that the accused cannot be convicted only on the basis of recovery of gun used in the commission of crime. In absence of any evidence led by prosecution as to who fired the fatal shot, benefit of doubt must go to accused persons. As per the statement of daughter of deceased (PW 1), the motive was land dispute with S.  If such was a motive, then there is no reason for her to contact accused S, to find out whereabouts of her father. The order of acquittal could be interfered with only if there was perversity in the findings recorded by trial court. The mere fact that High Court has a different opinion will not be sufficient to enable High Court to set aside order of acquittal. Hence, acquittal was restored. [Satish Kumar v. State of H.P., (2020) 7 SCC 637]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 304 Pt. I/149 and 148 or Ss. 304 Pt. II/149 and 148 — Culpable homicide not amounting to murder: In this case, accused persons were found harbouring common object to assault, resulting in death of one. Such fact emerged from various factors, including that they assembled with weapons of assault and their participated in acts of assault. Such weapons were capable of causing death. The evidence of prosecution witnesses was found uniform to the effect, that all accused had participated in acts of assault of one and subsequently other members of his family. Therefore, it was held by the Supreme Court that the High Court was right in reversing acquittal of accused persons by trial court, thereby convicting them. However, from manner in which assault took place, no intention is attributable to accused persons to cause death of one. Therefore, in given facts, conviction of accused persons was modified from Ss. 304 Pt. I/149 to Ss. 304 Pt. II/149 IPC. Their sentence, was accordingly, modified. [Dilip Shaw v. State of W.B., (2020) 7 SCC 626]

Precedents — Reference to Larger Bench: Reference to Bench of more than three Judges of High Court by two-Judge Bench (Division Bench) of High Court, held, not permissible. The principle for reference to larger Benches applicable to High Courts is the same as applicable to the Supreme Court. Thus, if two-Judge Bench of High Court considers that a Full Bench judgment by three-Judges requires re-consideration, the same must first be placed before a three-Judge Full Bench of the High Court, which alone may refer the matter to yet a larger Bench if found by it to be so warranted. Two- Judge Bench of High Court cannot refer the matter directly to a Bench of more than three-Judges. [Warad Murti Mishra v. State of M.P., (2020) 7 SCC 509]

Service Law — Appointment — Compassionate appointment — Norms/Rules/ Regulations applicable — Relevant date: Under R. 5 proviso (as amended w.e.f. 1-4-1999) and R. 9(3) (as amended w.e.f. 28-5-2000) of Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules, 1996, minor dependant of deceased employee had to apply within one year of date of death of deceased employee and should have attained age of 18 yrs on day of making application, while under unamended provision minor dependant was entitled to apply till one year of attaining majority. The Supreme Court held that norms prevailing on date of consideration of application would be basis for considering claim for compassionate appointment. [N.C. Santhosh v. State of Karnataka, (2020) 7 SCC 617]

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