Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J., allowed the writ petition filed with a prayer of expeditious disposal on the grounds that delay was being caused by the respondent in examining the witnesses and this was coming in the way of consideration of petitioner’s superannuation that was to be done taking into account his age.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner was working in place of his brother who died in 1988. He continued to work without any complaint but suddenly in the year 1994, on a complaint, a full-fledged departmental enquiry was held by the Railways in which he was ultimately exonerated. It was submitted that thereafter again complaint was made in 2013, for the same charges and on the one hand departmental proceedings were initiated and on the other hand, a criminal case was also instituted. In this criminal case, it was submitted that it was the authorities who were not cooperating as witnesses are not being examined on behalf of the prosecution. This would cause a delay in the superannuation which was due within a few weeks as the criminal case would come in the way of consideration. The prayer was to expedite and conclude the trial at the earliest.

The Court allowed the petition finding prayer to be reasonable. [Hoti Rai v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 307, Order dated 08-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of  Vipul M. Pancholi, J., allowed the application made for granting an anticipatory bail on the grounds that the applicant was a lady, she was a doctor having two minor children and had cooperated with the investigating officer. 

The facts of the case are that the applicant was booked for the offenses punishable under Sections 419, 420, 423, 465, 467, 468, 470, 471, 474, 477-A, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code for which this application was filed under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for grant of anticipatory bail. The counsel for applicant argued that the nature of allegations were such for which custodial interrogation at that stage was not necessary. Additional Public Prosecutor appearing on behalf of the respondent – State opposed grant of anticipatory bail by emphasizing on the gravity of the offence.

The Court allowed the application on the ground that the applicant was a lady; she was a Doctor having two minor children and had cooperated with the investigating officer thus granting her anticipatory bail. [Varsha Madhukar Wagh v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 127, decided on 22-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Single Judge Bench comprising of Ashwani Kumar Mishra, J. decided a writ petition for the sanction of gratuity before completion of the age of 60 years.

The petitioner sought the gratuity of his wife who was a headmaster in the institution and died in the year 2013. The petitioner was refused for gratuity on the ground that such amount was payable only on the completion of service at the age of 60 years and not prior to it.

Observing the circumstances of the case, a similar Writ Petition No. 40568 of 2016 was considered by this Court, in which it was decided that the Government Order does not restrict payment of gratuity to an employee, who is otherwise covered under the scheme just because he has not attained the age of 60 years. Clause 5 of the Government Order, which provides that gratuity would be payable at the age of 60 years or upon death. Therefore, the petition from which reference has been taken upon, rejection of petitioner’s claim for payment of gratuity was held to be not justified.

In the present case, the Court concluded by quashing the impugned order and directed the authority concerned to re-consider the matter and take a decision with regard to payment of interest in terms of the applicable government order. [Chandra Prakash Saxena v. State of U.P., 2018 SCC OnLine ALL 532,  order dated 07-05-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Refusing to expand the scope of the word ‘child’ under Section 2(d) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) to include  the   “mental   age”   of   a   person   or   the   age determined   by   the   prevalent   science   pertaining   to psychiatry   so   that   a   mentally   retarded   person   or   an extremely intellectually  challenged person who even has crossed the biological age of 18 years can be included within the holistic conception of the term “child”, the bench of Dipak Misra and R.F. Nariman, JJ held that the Parliament has felt it appropriate that the definition of the term “age” by chronological   age   or   biological   age   to   be   the   safest yardstick   than   referring   to   a   person   having   mental retardation.

In the case where both the judges wrote their separate but concurring opinion, it was said that the POCSO Act has identified minors and protected them by prescribing the statutory age which has nexus with the legal eligibility to give consent. It may be due to the fact that the standards of mental retardation are different and they require to be determined   by   an   expert   body.   The   degree   is   also different.  If a victim is mentally retarded, definitely the court trying the case shall take into consideration whether   there   is   a   consent   or   not.   In   certain circumstances, it would depend upon the degree of retardation or degree of understanding. It should never be put in a straight jacket formula.

Explaining the scope of the power of the Court to interpret the word “child” to give it a broader meaning, it was noticed that the legislature despite having the intent in its Statement of Objects   and   Reasons   and   the   long   Preamble   to   the POCSO Act, had defined the term “age” which does not only mention a child  but adds the words “below the age of 18 years”. The Court said that had the word “child” alone been mentioned in the Act, the scope of interpretation by the Courts could have been in a different realm and the Court might have deliberated on a larger canvass.

The Court was hearing the appeal of a sexual assault victim suffering from Cerebral Palsy due to which though being a 38-year-old, her mental age is no more than 6-8 years. [Eera v. State, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 787, decided on 21.07.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the appellants were involved in at least 24 cases of various offences allegedly committed between 1988 and 1995 and one was alleged to have committed murder and robbery in the year 1988, the Court refused to rely upon the opinion of the medical board in determining the age of the appellants, in the absence of the other cogent evidence, so as to give benefit under the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The Court said that the purpose of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 is not to give shelter to the accused of grave and heinous offences.

As per the medical report submitted in the year 2016, the appellants would have been born in the year 1979. The Court said that, going by the report, one accused would have been 9 years old at the time of commission of his first offence in the year 1988 and the other would have been 14 at the time of commission of his first offence in the year 1993. The bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi, JJ added that had it been so, when the appellants were produced in those cases the appellants would have been considered as ‘children’ by the very appearance. They would have been dealt with accordingly by the concerned juvenile court and the matters would not have been kept pending till this date. Hence, the opinion of the Medical Board determining the age of the appellants as 35-40 years in May, 2016 cannot be relied upon.

Stating that medical evidence as to the age of a person though a very useful guiding factor is not conclusive and has to be considered along with other circumstances, the Court said that a blind and mechanical view regarding the age of a person cannot be adopted solely on the basis of the medical opinion by the radiological examination. The Court hence, rejected the plea of juvenility of the appellants in the absence of other cogent evidence. [Mukarrab v. State of U.P., 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1413, decided 30.11.2016]

Case BriefsHigh CourtsUniversities and Educational Institutions

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding upon 68 writ petitions filed by various Professors and Assistant Professors of the Panjab University and its affiliated colleges, all seeking the writ of Mandamus directing the Central Government and the Panjab University to raise the age of superannuation from service to 65 years, the Bench of Amol Rattan Singh, J., dismissed the petitions stating that the matter of raising the age of superannuation is solely a matter of executive policy.

In the instant petitions it was contended that the respondent University is sui generis and is Centrally governed, controlled and funded and therefore a Central University, and relied upon Section 2 (b) of the Panjab University Act, 1947 and Section 72 of the Punjab Re-Organization Act, 1966, Section 2(d) of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, Article 248 of the Constitution read with Entry 97 in List I of the Seventh Schedule, and Article 254 of the Constitution, read with Clause 2.1.0 of the UGC Regulations 2010. It was contended that since the University is being funded by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development through the UGC, it would also be governed by Clause 2.1.0, per se, and the age of superannuation of its teachers should thus be raised to 65 years. In rebuttal the respondents contended that Panjab University was established by the Panjab University Act, 1947, and at that time, the ‘area of jurisdiction’ of the University covered the undivided State of Punjab. In 1966 upon the reorganization of the State of Punjab University was declared to be an Inter-State body corporate, as per Section 72 (3) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

Upon perusing the contentions, the Court declined to accept the petitioners’ contention to that the plain meaning of the words contained in Clause 2.1.0 of the UGC Regulations must be given effect without any additions or subtractions whatsoever. The Court further perused the letter of the Director (U.II) MHRD, which clarified that the respondent University is not a Central University but an Inter State body; even the documents relied by the petitioners failed to prove the same. It was further added that an increased quantum of funding by the Central Government also does not render the respondent University to be a Central University. The Court thus concluded that it did not find the decision of refusing to raise the age of superannuation as arbitrary. [Bhura Singh Ghuman v. Panjab University2016 SCC OnLine P&H 6385, decided on 16.08.2016]