In 2022 SCC Volume 1 Part 1, read a very significant decision of Supreme Court wherein it made a very pertinent observation with regard to arbitral awards,

“There is a disturbing tendency of courts setting aside arbitral awards, after dissecting and reassessing factual aspects of the cases to come to a conclusion that the award needs intervention …”[Delhi Airport Metro Express (P) Ltd. v. DMRC, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 695]

Advocates — Government Law Officers/Counsel/Pleader/Public Prosecutor/Advocate General — Post of Assistant Public Prosecutor: In this case, it was held that direction to appoint Assistant Public Prosecutor dehors statutory rules is not permissible. [State of U.P. v. Shyam Lal Jaiswal, (2022) 1 SCC 59]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 16, 5 and 34 — Jurisdiction of arbitrator — Ruling of arbitrator under S. 16 of the A&C Act, upon challenge to jurisdiction of arbitrator: Interference under Arts. 226/227 of the Constitution by High Court with arbitral process is not permissible except in exceptionally rare circumstances. Discretion under Arts. 226/227 of the Constitution cannot be exercised to allow judicial interference beyond procedure established under the A&C Act, 1996. This power needs to be exercised in exceptional rarity, wherein one party is left remediless under the statute or a clear “bad faith” shown by one of parties. [Bhaven Construction v. Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd., (2022) 1 SCC 75]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 34 & 37 and S. 5 — Grounds for challenging arbitral award before Court — Restrictions on: While deciding applications filed under S. 34, Courts are mandated to strictly act in accordance with and within the confines of S. 34, refraining from appreciation or reappreciation of matters of fact as well as law. One of the principal objectives of the A&C Act, 1996 is to minimise the supervisory role of Courts in the arbitral process. Judicial interference with the arbitral awards is strictly limited to the grounds in S. 34. There is a disturbing tendency of Courts of setting aside arbitral awards, after dissecting and reassessing factual aspects of the cases to come to a conclusion that the award needs intervention and thereafter, dubbing the award to be vitiated by either perversity or patent illegality, apart from the other grounds available for annulment of the award. Further, this approach would lead to corrosion of the object of the A&C Act, 1996 and the endeavours made to preserve this object: which is minimal judicial interference with arbitral awards. [Delhi Airport Metro Express (P) Ltd. v. DMRC, (2022) 1 SCC 131]

Constitution of India — Art. 21 — Right to privacy of person whose DNA test is sought: The discretion of court in directing DNA test must be exercised after balancing the interests of the parties and whether a DNA test is needed for a just decision in the matter and such direction satisfies the test of “eminent need”. Whether a person can be compelled to provide a sample for DNA can also be answered considering the test of proportionality, as the right to privacy has been declared a fundamental right in India. Court should therefore examine the proportionality of the legitimate aims being pursued i.e. whether the same are not arbitrary or discriminatory, whether they may have an adverse impact on the person and that they justify the encroachment upon the privacy and personal autonomy of the person, being subjected to the DNA test. [Ashok Kumar v. Raj Gupta, (2022) 1 SCC 20]

Contempt of Court — Nature and Scope — Broadly — Vicarious/Constructive liability for contempt: Knowledge acquires substantial importance qua a contempt order. Merely because a subordinate official acted in disregard of an order passed by court, a liability cannot be fastened on a higher official in absence of knowledge. When two views are possible, element of wilfulness vanishes as it involves a mental element. Wilful disobedience of court order is a deliberate, conscious and intentional act. What is required is a proof beyond reasonable doubt since proceedings are quasi-criminal in nature. [U.N. Bora v. Assam Roller Flour Mills Assn., (2022) 1 SCC 101]

Evidence Act, 1872 — S. 27: Principles summarised regarding when conviction exclusively based upon disclosure statement of accused and resultant recovery of inculpatory material is permissible and factors which aid in gauging intrinsic evidentiary value and credibility of recovery. [Bijender v. State of Haryana, (2022) 1 SCC 92]

Family and Personal Laws — Family Property, Succession and Inheritance — Will — Requirements of Valid Will/Validity/Invalidity of Will/Grant/Non-grant of Probate/Letters of Administration — Suspicious circumstances: Exclusion of other siblings would not by itself create suspicion unless it is surrounded by other circumstances creating an inference. In a case where a testatrix is accompanied by sister of beneficiary of will and said document is attested by their brother, there is no room for any suspicion when both of them have not raised any issue, as to validity of the will. [V. Prabhakara v. Basavaraj K., (2022) 1 SCC 115]

Human and Civil Rights — Rights of Displaced Persons/Migrants and Refugees/Displacement Due to Land Acquisitions/Dams/Irrigation Projects — Resettlement and Rehabilitation and Compensation: Directions issued in J.L. Koul, (2010) 1 SCC 371, regarding Government accommodation post retirement to J&K Migrant retirees from government services held, were issued in exercise of power under Art. 142 of the Constitution. J.L. Koul v. State of J&K, (2010) 1 SCC 371 : (2010) 1 SCC (L&S) 1101, did not decide any question of law or fact but merely expressed compassionate view to alleviate difficulties faced by Kashmiri migrants. However, compassion cannot be extended in perpetuity and hence, parity sought with appellants was held untenable in this case. [Union of India v. Omkar Nath Dhar, (2022) 1 SCC 40]

Income Tax Act, 1961 — S. 263(2) — Limitation — Date for reckoning period of limitation prescribed under S. 263(2): The word used S. 263 is “made” and not “received”. Hence, if the order under S. 263 was made/passed within the period of two years from the end of financial year in which order sought to be revised was passed, such an order would not be beyond the period of limitation prescribed under S. 263(2). Date on which order under S. 263 has been received by the assessee is not relevant for the purpose of reckoning period of limitation prescribed under S. 263(2). [CIT v. Mohd. Meeran Shahul Hameed, (2022) 1 SCC 12]

Insurance — Repudiation/Rescission of Insurance Policy: Rejection of claim as policy stood lapsed on account of non-payment of premium, on date on which insured event took place, held, proper and justified. Further held, attempted revival of policy on a subsequent date, without disclosure of material facts to insurer (of accident having occurred in between, on a date when policy was not in force), not only lacked bona fides, but amounted to mala fides. Hence, claim of the complainant was liable to be rejected on the said ground alone. [LIC v. Sunita, (2022) 1 SCC 68]

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006 — S. 19 — Challenge to award under S. 34 of the A&C Act, 1996: Requirement of pre-deposit of 75% of awarded amount, held, mandatory. Court has no discretion to deviate from condition of 75% of the awarded amount as a pre-deposit. At the most, however held, considering the hardship which may be projected before the court, and if the court is satisfied that there shall be undue hardship caused to the appellant-applicant to deposit 75% of the awarded amount as a pre-deposit in one go, the court may allow the pre-deposit to be made in instalments. [Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority v. Aska Equipments Ltd., (2022) 1 SCC 61]

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 — Ss. 13(2), 7(i), (v) and 16(1)(a)(i) & (ii) — Adulteration of food article — Mandatory requirement under S. 13(2) — Non-compliance with ingredients of: Mandatory requirement under S. 13(2), held, is of serving copy of report on accused. In this case, evidence established mere dispatch of report, held, does not amount to compliance with S. 13(2). Copy of Public Analyst’s report not supplied to appellant-accused in this case, resulted in his valuable right to get samples analysed by Central Food Laboratory being defeated, thereby, vitiating prosecution. Hence, conviction of appellant was reversed. [Narayana Prasad Sahu v. State of M.P., (2022) 1 SCC 87]

Service Law — Appointment — Compassionate appointment: Compassionate appointment at higher post than held by deceased is not permissible. [State of U.P. v. Premlata, (2022) 1 SCC 30]

Service Law — Appointment — Eligibility conditions/criteria: In this case, for the post of “Junior Lab Technician”, Selection Committee decided to allocate 85% marks for qualifying examination and out of remaining 15%, 10% marks were to be allotted for work experience and/or additional training in teaching hospitals of medical colleges, with special reference to those who had worked in teaching hospitals of government/autonomous medical colleges, and remaining 5% to personality of candidate based on viva voce. Rationale for differentiating work experience in private and government institutions was that those working in government institutions would be more suitable since first respondent was government medical institution. It was held that in absence of any allegations of mala fides or glaring error or perversity, Court cannot sit in appeal over decision of Selection Committee. Impugned judgment setting aside decision of Selection Committee appointing appellant on ground that: (i) marks allocated at interview and for experience category were arbitrary; and (ii) advertisement only provided for minimum educational qualification and hence, allocation of marks for experience amounted to changing rules of game mid-way, held, unsustainable. In determining legality of selection list in absence of any challenge thereto, High Court transgressed its limits. [Srinivas K. Gouda v. Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, (2022) 1 SCC 49]

Service Law — Penalty/Punishment — Recovery: In this case, for recovery of Rs 2,46,922.56 for loss caused, which was found to be proved by enquiry officer, punishment was maintained, directing that said amount may be deducted from retirement benefits payable to respondent employee. [U.P. Forest Corpn. v. Vijay Kumar Yadav, (2022) 1 SCC 113]

Service Law — Police — Appointment — Antecedents/Character: Law summarised on relevance of nature of acquittal i.e. whether honourable or technical, in offences of heinous/serious nature, for entitlement to appointment. [Union of India v. Methu Meda, (2022) 1 SCC 1]

Service Law — Termination of Service — Judicial review/Interference by court/Validity — Inordinate delay in challenging termination order before court — Effect: In this case, late husband of respondent was dismissed from service on 16-12-1996. During pendency of appeal challenging dismissal order, husband of respondent passing away in the year 2009. In case respondent’s husband had not been dismissed, he would have superannuated in the year 1999. Respondent widow challenging dismissal order by filing writ petition in the year 2012 i.e. 15 yrs from date of termination and approximately 13 yrs from date on which employee would have superannuated. The Supreme Court held that writ petition was liable to be dismissed on grounds of delay/laches alone. Impugned judgment affirming order of Single Judge setting aside dismissal order dt. 16-12-1996 was held unsustainable. [State of Rajasthan v. Surji Devi, (2022) 1 SCC 17]

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