SCC Issue dated March 28th, 2021 (Vol. 3 Part 1)

In this part read a very important decision delivered by the Supreme Court in Prashant Bhushan Contempt Matter. The 82-pages judgment is expertly analysed by our editors in over 16 short notes. The Supreme Court sentenced Advocate Prashant Bhushan to pay a fine of Re 1 failing which he would have undergone imprisonment of 3 months and further be debarred from practising in the Supreme Court for 3 years.[In re: Prashant Bhushan, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 698]

Short Notes: 16

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 12(5) (as amended by the 2015 Amendment Act) r/w Sch. VII Item 5 and S. 29-A(6) — Mandatory and non-derogable nature of S. 12(5): Appointment of Principal Secretary, Government of Haryana as the nominee arbitrator of HARSAC, a nodal agency of the Government of Haryana i.e. appointment of an arbitrator having controlling influence in contravention of S. 12(5), not permissible. [Haryana Space Application Centre v. Pan India Consultants (P) Ltd., (2021) 3 SCC 103]

Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 — S. 5(2) r/w S. 3(a): Exemption under S. 5(2) i.e. regarding cases where sales take place in the course of the import of the goods into territory of India is not applicable to sales made post crossing of the customs frontiers. Meaning of the expression “sale in the course of import”, explained. Relevance of bill of lading, bill of entry and import general manifest (IGM), for ascertaining the true “importer” of goods, also discussed. [Vellanki Frame Works v. CTO, (2021) 3 SCC 39]

Competition Act, 2002 — S. 19(1) r/w Ss. 2(f), 53-B and 53-T — Locus standi to give information to CCI for CCI to initiate proceedings under the Competition Act: Contrasting the definition of “consumer” from “person”, held, the definition of “person” in S. 2(l) of the Competition Act, is an inclusive one and is extremely wide and includes individuals of all kinds and every artificial juridical person. Further, consequent upon the substitution of the expression “receipt of a complaint” with the expression “receipt of any information in such manner and” in S. 19(1) of the Competition Act, held, whereas a complaint could be filed only from a person who was aggrieved by a particular action, information may be received from any person, obviously whether such person is or is not personally affected and this is for the reason that the proceedings under the Competition Act are proceedings in rem which affect the public interest. Further, a “person aggrieved” must, in the context of the Competition Act, be understood widely and not be constructed narrowly. When CCI performs inquisitorial, as opposed to adjudicatory functions, the doors of approaching CCI and the appellate authority i.e. NCLAT, must be kept wide open in public interest, so as to subserve the high public purpose of the Competition Act. [Samir Agrawal v. CCI (Cab Aggregators Case), (2021) 3 SCC 136]

Constitution of India — Art. 137 — Review — Grounds for: Change in the law or subsequent decision/judgment of a coordinate or larger Bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review. Review petition against Supreme Court decision on a particular issue, filed during pendency of reference of question of law pertaining to that same issue to a larger Bench is not a ground for disposal of review petition only after that decision. [Beghar Foundation v. K.S. Puttaswamy (Aadhaar Review-5 J.), (2021) 3 SCC 1]

Contempt of Court — Nature and Scope — Freedom of speech/expression and contempt of court — Balance between rights and restrictions — Scope of, especially when lawyers are contemnors: Lawyers’ noble profession will lose all its significance and charm and dignity if lawyers are permitted to make any malicious, scandalous and scurrilous allegations against the institution of which they are apart. Exercise of power under Art. 129 of the Constitution, does not interfere with the rights under Art. 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. No doubt, free speech is essential to democracy, but it cannot denigrate one of the institutions of democracy. Rights under Art. 19(1)(a) are subject to reasonable restrictions under Art. 19(2) and rights of others cannot be infringed in the process. [Prashant Bhushan, In re (Contempt Matter), (2021) 3 SCC 160]

Contract and Specific Relief — Formation of Contract — Offer and Acceptance — Invitations to offer/Counter-offers: Conditional acceptance of offer i.e. acceptance with a variation of terms of tender does not lead to a concluded contract, when such condition is not accepted. Compensation for refusal to discharge obligation/breach of contract is not grantable, in the absence of such non-concluded contract. [Padia Timber Co. (P) Ltd. v. Visakhapatnam Port Trust, (2021) 3 SCC 24]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters Re Educational Institutions — Appointment/Recruitment — Appointment of College Hostel Warden — Competent authority — Compliance with prescribed procedure — Necessity of: In this case, competent authority for appointment of College Hostel Warden is the Governing body and not Principal of College, hence, appointment of R-1 directly made by Principal R-3 without approval of Governing Body, held invalid. [Daulat Ram College v. Asha, (2021) 3 SCC 121]

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 — S. 11-A — Failure to hold enquiry before dismissal/discharge — Entitlement of employer to lead evidence before Labour Court/Tribunal to justify its action: Where employer fails to hold enquiry before dismissal or discharge of workman, he can justify his action by leading evidence before Labour Court. Labour Court has jurisdiction to satisfy itself on evidence adduced as to justifiability of order of discharge or dismissal. [State of Uttarakhand v. Sureshwati, (2021) 3 SCC 108]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 366 — Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc. — Ingredients of S. 366: S. 366 postulates that once prosecution leads evidence to show that kidnapping was with intention/knowledge to compel marriage of girl or to force/induce her to have illicit intercourse, enhanced punishment of 10 yrs as provided thereunder would stand attracted. [Anversinh v. State of Gujarat, (2021) 3 SCC 12]

Service Law — Pension — Entitlement to pension: In this case, the clarification of Supreme Court judgment dt. 30-1-2018 directing respondent State to pay pension to 214 eligible persons in list in accordance with pension scheme, names of appellants were included in the list. Hence held, they cannot be denied pension on ground that only those persons who retired between 11-5-1995 and 30-6-1999 would be eligible for pension. [Darshan Singh v. State of Punjab, (2021) 3 SCC 119]

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