SCC Issue dated April 7th, 2021 (Vol. 3 Part 2)

In this part read a very important decision delivered by the Supreme Court with respect to Consumer Protection Act which was expertly analysed by our editors in over 7 short notes. Supreme Court observed that “Developer cannot compel the apartment buyers to be bound by the one-sided contractual terms contained in the Apartment Buyer‘s Agreement.”[IREO Grace Realtech (P) Ltd. v. Abhishek Khanna, (2021) 3 SCC 241]

Short Notes: 7

Constitution of India — Arts. 32, 21, 19(1)(a) and (2) — Multiple FIRs against anchor of news debate show, on grounds of fomenting hatred amongst communities/hate speech — Interim stay and other directions — When warranted: In this case, ad interim stay was imposed on instituted criminal proceedings and possible FIRs relating to same telecast. Notice was issued and petitioner was directed to implead complainants and serve notice on newly added respondents. [Amish Devgan v. Union of India, (2021) 3 SCC 306]

Consumer Protection — Cause of Action — Unfair trade practice — Directions, declaration and relief that may be granted by Consumer Forums in case of: S. 14 of the CPA, 1986 empowers Consumer Fora to redress deficiency of service by issuing directions to opposite party, and compensate consumer for loss or injury caused by opposite party, or discontinue unfair or restrictive trade practices. Even under the CPA, 1986, powers of Consumer Fora are in no manner constrained to declare a contractual term as unfair or one-sided as an incident of power to discontinue unfair or restrictive trade practices. An “unfair contract” has been defined under the CPA, 2019, and powers have been conferred on State Consumer For a and National Commission to declare contractual terms which are unfair, as null and void. This is a statutory recognition of a power which is implicit under the CPA, 1986. [IREO Grace Realtech (P) Ltd. v. Abhishek Khanna, (2021) 3 SCC 241]

Designs Act, 2000 — S. 22(4) — Jurisdiction of court: Jurisdiction over infringement suits in which defendant seeks revocation of registration of design vests in High Court under S. 22(4) of the 2000 Act, even when the High Court does not exercise original side jurisdiction. Operation of S. 22(4) of the 2000 Act is not affected by the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. [S.D. Containers v. Mold-Tek Packaging Ltd., (2021) 3 SCC 289]

Evidence Act, 1872 — S. 92 Proviso (6) r/w Ill. (f) and Ss. 94 and 95 — Entirety of correspondence, as opposed to a single/some correspondence(s): When there are a number of documents exchanged between the parties in the performance of a contract, all of them must be read as a connected whole, relating each particular document to “existing facts”, which include how particular words are used in a particular sense, given the entirety of correspondence between the parties. Further, after the application of Proviso (6) to S. 92, the adjudicating authority must be very careful when it applies provisions dealing with patent ambiguity, as it must first ascertain whether the plain language of a particular document applies accurately to existing facts. If, however, it is ambiguous or unmeaning in reference to existing facts, evidence may then be given to show that the words used in a particular document were used in a sense that would make the aforesaid words meaningful in the context of the entirety of the correspondence between the parties. [Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Pty. Ltd. v. MMTC Ltd., (2021) 3 SCC 308]

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 — S. 10-A (as inserted by Ordinance 9 of 2020 promulgated on 5-6-2020 followed by Amending Act 17 of 2020) r/w Ss. 5(11), 7, 9 and 10 — Bar against filing of applications for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) in relation to defaults committed on or after 25-3-2020 for a period of six months, extendable to one year — Nature of: Said bar is retrospective in nature, and is thus applicable to applications filed prior to insertion of S. 10-A i.e. prior to 5-6-2020. Use of the expressions “shall be filed” and “no application shall ever be filed”, do not affect the retrospective applicability of such bar. The language of the provision is not always decisive to arrive at a determination whether the provision is applicable prospectively or retrospectively. The substantive part of S. 10-A is to be construed harmoniously with the first proviso and the Explanation. Reading the provisions together, it is evident that Parliament intended to impose a bar on filing of applications for commencement of CIRP in respect of a corporate debtor for a default occurring on or after 25-3-2020, the embargo remaining in force for a period of six months, extendable to one year. Thus, the embargo contained in S. 10-A must receive a purposive construction which will advance the object which was sought to be achieved by enacting the provision. Further held, the (retrospective) bar on the filing of applications for the commencement of CIRP during the stipulated period does not extinguish the debt owed by the corporate debtor or the right of creditors to recover it. [Ramesh Kymal v. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Power (P) Ltd., (2021) 3 SCC 224]

Institution of criminal proceedings for sexual offences involving children: Sexual abuse has an inherent social stigma having lifelong adverse consequences for the victims, resulting in a reluctance to report the crime. The callous and unprofessional attitude of law enforcement agencies further foments self-blame and victim-shaming tendencies and breeds discontent and despair amongst victims and their families. Lack of fair and scientific investigation and unusual delay in court proceedings also results in general in acquittal of the rape accused. Pendency of cases in trial courts is very high and is growing every year. Timely reporting and registration of cases are essential requisites for instituting criminal proceedings. This article attempts to deal with various steps and intricacies involved at various stages in dealing with sexual offences involving children. Procedural road map for handling child sexual abuse under the POCSO Act, 2012,  by Dr G.K. Goswami & Aditi Goswami, (2021) 3 SCC (J-1)]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 300 Exception 4 — Applicability of: In this case, considering relevant materials, the injuries, held, were inflicted without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the appellant having taken advantage or acted cruelly or unusually. Resultantly, the case, held, fell under S. 300 Exception 4. Thus, appellant held liable under S. 304 Pt. I. [Pardeshiram v. State of M.P., (2021) 3 SCC 238]

Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964 — R. 12(4) [as incorporated vide Noti. dt. 3-1-2008]: Necessary requirements for sale of non-cultivable panchayat land to inhabitants of village who constructed their houses on such land as prescribed in the Rules, must strictly be complied with. In this case, claimants being in illegal occupation of panchayat land cannot, as a matter of right, claim regularization. Regularisation of the illegal occupation can only be as per the policy of the State Government and strictly as per the conditions stipulated in the Rules. Even if there is a construction the same is required to be removed and the possession of the land must be handed back to the Gram Panchayat, if the conditions for regularisation are not satisfied. Long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure in making constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as a justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularising the illegal possession. [Joginder v. State of Haryana, (2021) 3 SCC 300]

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