Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of RF Nariman*, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph, JJ has held that an appeal under section 37(1)(c) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 would be maintainable against an order refusing to condone delay in filing an application under section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 to set aside an award.

The Court was hearing an appeal arising out of a certificate issued under Article 133 read with Article 134A of the Constitution of India by the High Court of Delhi thereby giving rise to the question as to whether a learned single Judge’s order refusing to condone the Appellant’s delay in filing an application under section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 is an appealable order under section 37(1)(c) of the said Act.

Interpreting Section 37(1)(c), the Court took note of the fact that the expression “setting aside or refusing to set aside an arbitral award” has to be read with the expression that follows – “under section 34”. Section 34 is not limited to grounds being made out under section 34(2).

As per section 34(1), an application made to set aside an award has to be in accordance with both sub-sections (2) and (3). Such application would not only have to be within the limitation period prescribed by sub-section (3), but would then have to set out grounds under sub-sections (2) and/or (2A) for setting aside such award. What follows from this is that the application itself must be within time, and if not within a period of three months, must be accompanied with an application for condonation of delay, provided it is within a further period of 30 days, this Court having made it clear that section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 does not apply and that any delay beyond 120 days cannot be condoned.

“Obviously, therefore, a literal reading of the provision would show that a refusal to set aside an arbitral award as delay has not been condoned under sub-section (3) of section 34 would certainly fall within section 37(1)(c). The aforesaid reasoning is strengthened by the fact that under section 37(2)(a), an appeal lies when a plea referred to in sub-section (2) or (3) of section 16 is accepted.”

The Court, hence, highlighted that the Legislature, when it wished to refer to part of a section, as opposed to the entire section, did so.

“Contrasted with the language of section 37(1)(c), where the expression “under section 34” refers to the entire section and not to section 34(2) only, the fact that an arbitral award can be refused to be set aside for refusal to condone delay under section 34(3) gets further strengthened.”

Further, so far as section 37(1)(a) is concerned, where a party is referred to arbitration under section 8, no appeal lies. This is for the reason that the effect of such order is that the parties must go to arbitration, it being left to the learned Arbitrator to decide preliminary points under section 16 of the Act, which then become the subject matter of appeal under section 37(2)(a) or the subject matter of grounds to set aside under section 34 an arbitral award ultimately made, depending upon whether the preliminary points are accepted or rejected by the arbitrator.

It is also important to note that an order refusing to refer parties to arbitration under section 8 may be made on a prima facie finding that no valid arbitration agreement exists, or on the ground that the original arbitration agreement, or a duly certified copy thereof is not annexed to the application under section 8.

“In either case, i.e. whether the preliminary ground for moving the court under section 8 is not made out either by not annexing the original arbitration agreement, or a duly certified copy, or on merits – the court finding that prima facie no valid agreement exists – an appeal lies under section 37(1)(a).”

Likewise, under section 37(2)(a), where a preliminary ground of the arbitrator not having the jurisdiction to continue with the proceedings is made out, an appeal lies under the said provision, as such determination is final in nature as it brings the arbitral proceedings to an end. However, if the converse is held by the learned arbitrator, then as the proceedings before the arbitrator are then to carry on, and the aforesaid decision on the preliminary ground is amenable to challenge under section 34 after the award is made, no appeal is provided.

The Court, hence, concluded,

“Undoubtedly, a limited right of appeal is given under section 37 of the Arbitration Act, 1996. But it is not the province or duty of this Court to further limit such right by excluding appeals which are in fact provided for, given the language of the provision as interpreted by us hereinabove.”

[Chintels India Ltd. v. Bhayana Builders Pvt. Ltd.,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 80, decided on 11.02.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice RF Nariman

Know Thy Judge| Justice Rohinton F. Nariman

Appearances before the Court by:

For Appellant: Advocate Rajshekhar Rao

For Respondent: Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After the Court noticed that, in a case, where the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had passed the reasoned order 8 months after the pronouncement of the operative order, the bench of Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has asked the President of the NCDRC into the matter, and take necessary steps so that this practice is discontinued, and the reasoned Judgment is passed alongwith the operative order.

The Court also observed that in all matters where reasons are yet to be delivered, it must be ensured that the same are made available to the litigating parties positively within a period of two months.

In the present case, the operative order was pronounced on 26.04.2019 and the the reasoned order was passed on 20.12.2019 by the NCDRC. The Supreme Court then directed the Registrar of the NCDRC to submit a Report stating the number of cases in which reasoned judgments had not been passed, even though the operative order had been pronounced in Court.

By the report dated 27.7.2020, the Court was informed that as on 20.12.2019, there were 85 such cases in which the operative order had been pronounced, but reasoned judgments were not delivered so far.

“The fact which has been brought to our notice by the Registrar of the Commission can, in no manner, be countenanced that between the date of operative portion of the order and the reasons are yet to be provided, or the hiatus period is much more than what has been observed to be   the   maximum time period for even pronouncement of reserved judgments.”

The Court noticed that the rights of the aggrieved parties are being prejudiced if the reasons are not available to them to avail of the legal remedy of approaching the Court where the reasons can be scrutinized.

“It indeed amounts to defeating the rights of the party aggrieved to challenge the impugned judgment on merits and even the succeeding party is unable to obtain the fruits of success of the litigation.”

[Sudipta Chakrobarty v. Ranaghta SD Hospital, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 107, order dated 15.02.2021]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): Ashok Jindal (Judicial Member) allowed an appeal against the impugned order wherein the refund claim filed by the appellant had been dismissed as time-barred.

The appellant had filed a refund claim for the period April-June, 2012. The said refund was entertained and was rejected on 30-10-2015. On appeal before the Commissioner (Appeals) the claim was allowed. Further, the appellant had made request for sanctioning of refund claim on 9-8-2016 but the Revenue had filed appeal against the order of sanctioning of refund claim on 22-3-2016 and this Tribunal dismissed of appeal filed by the Revenue. Thereafter, on persuasion by the department, the appellant had again filed application for sanctioning of refund claim on 13-2-2018 (who was forced to file). The said application was entertained, the refund claim was allowed on 9-04-2018 by the adjudicating authority. Thereafter, the Commissioner had reviewed the order of sanctioning the refund claim on 12-7-2018. The department had filed appeal before the Commissioner (Appeals) who held that the refund filed by the appellant was time-barred by limitation by order dated 28-11-2018, thus the instant appeal was filed.

The counsel for the appellant had submitted that as the Revenue continued to contest the issue before this Tribunal and this Tribunal had passed final order dated 11-3-2019 and he also submitted that they had filed refund claim initially on 29-6-2012 within the period of limitation and further after the order of this Tribunal, suo-moto the department was required to sanction the refund claim to the appellant but on the persuasion of the department, the appellant was forced to file refund claim again which was also within one year of the order of this Tribunal.

The Tribunal allowed the appeal and observed that it was fact on record that initially the refund claim was filed on 29-6-2012, the same was allowed by the Commissioner (Appeals) on 21-3-2016, instead of sanctioning the refund claim, the revenue preferred to file appeal before this Tribunal and this Tribunal had dismissed the appeal of the Revenue. The Tribunal held that it was the duty of the Revenue that after the order of this Tribunal, they were required to refund sou moto within 3 months from 1-3-2017 but instead of doing so, the appellant was forced to file refund claim again which was filed on 13-2-2018. The departmental officer did not stop there; they reviewed the order of the adjudicating authority sanctioning the refund and held that the refund claim was barred by limitation without any basis to drag the appellant in unnecessary litigation. The said act of the department cannot be appreciated.[AMP Capital Advisors (India) (P) Ltd. v. Commr. Of CGST, Appeal No.ST/60296 of 2019-ST, decided on 13-01-2021]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of P.R. Ramchandra Menon and Parth Prateem Sahu JJ., dismissed the appeal being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that one Rajendra Sharma was employed as Driver in the truck owned by non-applicant 1 and insured by non-applicant 2 who while driving from Bilaspur to Raigarh carrying dolomite was attacked and assaulted by some unknown persons with the intention to cause robbery and thereby eventually succumbed to death. FIR was lodged and an application under Section 10 of the Employees Compensation Act 1923 was filed before the Commissioner seeking compensation by the wife and children of the deceased which was thereby granted on grounds that the death happened during the course of employment and fastened the liability to pay on the employer.  Assailing the said order, employer appellant filed an appeal before High Court on grounds that the penalty was imposed without issuing show-cause notice and without affording opportunity of hearing to the employer as envisaged under Section 4A (3) (b) of the Employees’ Compensation Act 1923 wherein appeal was allowed and impugned order was set aside in part relating to the amount of penalty and remitted the matter back to pass award afresh after affording reasonable opportunity of hearing to the employer. The Commissioner had fresh proceedings and issued notice to the parties and awarded 50% of the awarded amount of compensation as penalty and held the employer liable to pay amount of penalty.

Counsel for the appellants-employer submitted that there was again non-compliance of the provisions of Section 4A (3) (b) of Employees Compensation Act 1923. He contended that unless and until there is specific notice in this regard, as directed in MA No.148/2003, the impugned order awarding penalty to the extent of 50% and fastening liability upon appellant is bad in law and liable to be set aside.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the Commissioner after receipt of the case back on remand, drawn fresh proceeding, granted opportunity of hearing and producing evidence, but appellant employer failed to produce any evidence on the issue. He submitted that the Commissioner is well within four corners of law in awarding penalty of 50% as provided under Section 4A (3) (b) of the Employees’ Compensation Act 1923.

The Court observed that the only ground relevant to the facts is that whether without issuance of notice the entire proceeding drawn by the Commissioner would be considered vitiated or not. The Court further observed that the Appellant was well aware of the fact that the case has been remanded back to the Commissioner with a specific direction for appearance of the parties before the Commissioner and to decide the issue of penalty afresh. It was further observed that the issuance of notice as provided under Section 4A (3) (b) of the Act of 1923 to be mandatory is only to bring it to the knowledge of the employer that the penalty is to be imposed, so that the employer may submit explanation and evidence for the delay occurred in depositing amount of compensation and satisfy the Commissioner on the said issue.

The Court thus held that “In the case at hand, earlier appeal was filed by appellant challenging the order of award of penalty by the Commissioner on the ground of non-issuance of show-cause notice as envisaged under Section 4A(3)(b) of the Act of 1923, which was allowed and the case was remitted back to the Commissioner. Appellant was well aware as to why the case has been remanded back to the Commissioner and also about the proceeding drawn by the Commissioner, but even then appellant has not submitted any explanation nor produced any evidence in this regard. When once the case is remitted back to the Commissioner for limited purpose of considering award of penalty; the appellant appeared before the Commissioner and participated in the proceeding but failed to submit any explanation or bring on record any evidence on issue, then he cannot be permitted to again raise the same ground that specific notice in terms of Section 4A (3) (b) of the Act of 1923 has not been issued.”

 The Court thus dismissed the appeal as the appeal did not involve any question of law which is a prerequisite for entertaining appeal under Section 30 of Employees’ Compensation Act 1923.[Ramjilal Jagannath Partnership Firm v. Kusumdevi, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 2051, decided on 17-11-2020]


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Case BriefsDistrict Court

State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Odisha (SCDRC): Dr D.P. Choudhury (President) modified the compensation amount awarded to a Law Student in light of being subjected to ‘Deficiency of Service’ and ‘Unfair Trade by ‘Amazon’.

The instant appeal was filed under Section 15 of the erstwhile Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Factual Matrix

While the appellant was in his first year of law school, the OP had floated an offer for sale of a Laptop without Laptop Bag for Rs 190 against the price of Rs 23,499.

OP had confirmed for placing of the order and two hours after receiving the confirmation, the appellant received a phone call from the OP’s Customer Care Service Department stating that the subject order stood cancelled due to the price recession issue.

Since the complainant was in need of a laptop to prepare his project, he raised an objection for such cancellation.

On not receiving any response from the OP, complainant issued a legal notice.

Deficiency in Service

Appellant had to purchase another laptop but suffered from mental agony for such cancellation, hence filed a complaint alleging the deficiency in service and unfair trade practice.

Complainant claimed compensation of Rs 50,000 and Rs. 10,000 towards litigation cost.

District Forum had allowed the complaint partly by directing the OP to pay compensation of Rs 10,000 for mental agony and to pay Rs 2,000 towards the cost of litigation.

Hence, the aforesaid impugned order was challenged by the complainant/appellant stating that the District Forum committed error in law by not deciding to direct to pay Rs 50,000 as compensation.

Analysis, Decision and Law

Bench observed that “When there is an advertisement made for offer placed by the OP and made the offer as per the material available on record and complainant placed the order and same got confirmed, the agreement is complete.”

Another aspect to be noted was that, when the OP had allowed Rockery Marketing at his platform as per written version, the responsibility of the OP could not be lost sight of.

Since there was a breach of contract by OP, OP is held to be liable to pay the damages.

Commission agreed with District Forum’s observation that OP not only negligent in providing service but was also involved in unfair trade practice.

Taking all the factors discussed above for consideration, Bench concluded that compensation awarded should be of Rs 30,000 for unfair trade practice and punitive damages of Rs 10,000. Further, with regard to the cost of litigation Rs 5000 needs to be awarded.

On failing to make the above payments to the complainant within 30 days, the said amounts will carry interest at the rate of 12% per annum.

In view of the above, the appeal was disposed of. [Supriyo Ranjan Mahapatra v. Amazon Development Centre India (P) Ltd., First Appeal No. 492 of 2018, decided on 11-01-2021]


Read More:

District Consumer Forum directs ‘Amazon’ to pay compensation for “deficiency in services”

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): The Coram of Ramesh Nair (Judicial Member) and Raju (Technical Member) allowed an appeal which was filed against in demand of reversal Cenvat Credit, Interest, and Imposition of penalty.

The issue involved in appeal was that whether Rule 6 (3) (b) and Rule 6 (3)(i)(ii) of Cenvat Credit Rules,2004 would be applicable to the removal of byproducts (i.e spent sulphuric Acid) which were removed under serial No 32 of Notification No. 04/2006 –CE dated 1st March 2006 to fertilizer manufacturing units following the procedure laid down under Central Excise (Removal of Goods at Concessional Rate of Duty for Manufacture of Excisable Goods)Rule 2001. Notices were issued for recovery of CENVAT under Rule 6(3)(b) and Rule 6(3)(i)(ii) of Cenvat Credit Rules,2004 by treating the removal of Spent Sulphuric Acid under Notification No.04/2006-CE dated 1st March,2006 as exempted goods. The Adjudicating Authority had not accepted the contention of the Appellant that the by-Products were removed at Nil rate of duty on receipt of Annexure-1 from fertilizer manufacturing units.

The Tribunal allowed the appeal and observed that the appellant were engaged in manufacture of Chemicals namely Dichloro Nitro Benzene, etc. and were availing Cenvat Credit in respect of certain inputs and inputs services during the process of manufacture Sulphuric Acid also came into existence. They further observed that appellants were clearing such Sulphuric acid to manufacturers of fertilizers by availing benefit of Procedure Chapter X (Cleared at Nil Rate of Duty). The appellants had contended that they procured Sulphuric Acid from outside and used the same in the process of manufacturing their final products. What is left after the process was nothing but the spent sulphuric acid which was waste/refuse. They claimed that the spent sulphuric acid was not a by-product. The appellant had claimed that spent sulphuric acid was the residue of the input sulphuric acid procured from outside and used in the processing within the factory. The appellant claimed that they had cleared only such Sulphuric Acid under Notification No. 4/2006 – CE. The Tribunal found that a similar issue was decided upon in the case of Nirma Limited – 2012(276) ELT 283.[Panoli Intermediate (India) (P) Ltd. v. C.C.E. & S.T., 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 5 , decided on 18-01-2021]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: John Michael Cunha J., allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment.

The case involves default under Section 138 Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 wherein after the complaint was made summons were issued to the respondent. The complainant examined himself and produced 8 documents pertaining to his claim as evidence. However, during the trial accused remained continuously absent. Hence the Trial Court dismissed the complaint stating that further cross-examination of PW1 was taken as “not tendered for further cross-examination”. When the complainant failed to tender himself for cross-examination, the only course open for the court was to eschew the entire evidence from record and as a result no evidence would have been available before the Trial Court to render a finding on merits of the case, But unfortunately the Trial Court proceeded to discuss the matter on merits and held that the complainant has failed to prove the existence of the debt or other liability and hence acquitted the accused. Aggrieved by the same, present appeal was filed.

Counsel for the complainant submitted that such procedure is legally untenable and cannot be approved.

The Court observed that when no legal evidence was available on record, the Trial Court could have passed an order on merits and rejected the claim of the complainant. It was further observed that the order sheet clearly indicates that not only the accused but also the complainant remained continuously absent.

Thus, the Court held that the trial Court ought to have dismissed the complaint about non-prosecution under Section 256 of the Criminal Procedure Code and not on merits. It further held that complainant is equally responsible for keeping the matter pending for more than 4 years from 2016 onwards.

In view of the above, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Karage Gowda v. S. Nagaraj, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 2012, decided on 11-12-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: S.K. Sahoo J. allowed the appeal in part setting aside conviction under Sections 376/511, 354 and 457 of  Penal Code, 1860 and upholding conviction under Section 448 IPC.

The facts of the case are such that on 03-10-1989 at about 9.30 p.m. while the victim/informant was sleeping with her younger brother in one room of her house and her elder brother Jubaraj Nag and his elder brother’s wife Jayanti Nag were sleeping in the adjacent room, the appellant entered into the room where the victim was sleeping by opening the bamboo door of the victim’s room, disrobed her saree and attempted to commit rape on her. Hearing hullah of the victim, the elder brother and his wife came inside her room. The appellant tried to conceal himself underneath a raised platform inside the bedroom but the victim, as well as his elder brother, assaulted him by firewood. Due to tussle of the appellant with the victim, the bangles of the victim were broken and were lying underneath the cot. Then the brothers of the appellant came and took him to their house. FIR was lodged against the appellant under Sections 457 and 354 of the Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC. The appellant Satrughana Nag faced trial in the Court of learned Additional Sessions Judge, Titilagarh for offences punishable under Sections 376/ 511, 354 and 457 of the IPC. The learned trial Court vide impugned judgment and order dated 17-03-1990, found the appellant guilty of the offences charged and sentenced him accordingly. Aggreived by the same, instant appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that there are certain improbability features in the prosecution case which create doubt that the appellant attempted to commit rape on the victim rather the victim appears to be a consenting party and when she was caught in a compromising position with the appellant by her family members, she reacted and brought false accusation against the appellant just to save her own skin.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that evidence of the victim is clear, cogent and trustworthy, that in itself is sufficient to convict the appellant.

The Court based on the evidence put on record and the witnesses submissions observed that it is the settled principle of law that if the statement of the prosecutrix is found to be worthy of credence and reliable, then it requires no corroboration and the Court can act on such testimony and convict the accused. There may be compelling reasons in some cases which may necessitate looking for corroboration to the statement of the prosecutrix. The evidence of the prosecutrix is more reliable than that of an injured witness. Minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies in the statement of the prosecutrix should not be a ground to discard her version, if it inspires confidence. Corroboration to the testimony of the prosecutrix is not a requirement of law but a guidance of prudence under the given circumstances. The very nature of offence makes it difficult to get direct corroborating evidence.

The Court further observed on the issue of whether victim was a consenting party or not and stated that law is well settled that even in the absence of a specific defence of consent being taken by an accused charged with the offence of rape, if the evidence on record indicates that the victim was a consenting party, then the Court can always take the view that the sexual intercourse with the prosecutrix was not against her will but with her consent. Whether there was consent or not, is to be ascertained only on a careful study of all relevant circumstances. An inference as to consent can be drawn only basing on evidence or probabilities of the case. ‘Consent’ is stated to be an act of reason coupled with deliberation. It denotes an active will in mind of a person to permit the doing of the act complained of. If the victim fails to offer sufficient resistance, the Court may find that there was no force or threat of force or the act was not against her will. ‘Consent’ does not mean submission under the influence of fear or terror. There must be an exercise of intelligence based on knowledge of its significance and moral quality and there must be choice between resistance and assent. If the woman resists to a point whereafter further resistance would be useless or until her resistance is overcome by force or violence, submission thereafter is not consent. Verbal resistance apart, the woman can give effective obstacles by means of hands, limbs and pelvic muscles. Resistance by any or more of these will amount to resistance in the eye of law. A mere act of helpless resignation in the face inevitable compulsion, acquiescence, non-resistance or passive giving in, when volitional faculty is either clouded by fear or vitiated byduress, cannot be deemed to be a consent, as envisaged in law.

The Court thus held that the victim’s version in the Court was of rape but when it is compared with the one given during investigation, certain irreconcilable discrepancies are noticed. The evidence regarding actual commission of rape is at variance from what was recorded by police during evidence. Therefore, the victim cannot be said to be a truthful witness. It was further held that coming to the charge of attempt to commit rape, the reaction of the victim at the time of occurrence and immediately thereafter are very relevant features, but its absence is not always a decisive factor. As per examination and records it is clear that there were many opportunities earlier for the victim to raise shout and protest but she did not do that.

In view of the above, the conviction of the appellant under Sections 376/511 and 354 of IPC was held to not be sustainable in the eye of law however; there are enough materials to make out an offence of house18 trespass as defined under Section 442 of IPC which is punishable under Section 448 of IPC.

The court thus allowing the appeal in part held conviction of the appellant under Sections 376/511, 354 and 457 of  IPC is hereby set aside, instead the appellant is convicted under Section 448 of the IPC and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the period already undergone by him.[Satrughana Nag v. State of Odisha, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 885, decided on 11-12-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Parth Prateem Sahu J., set aside the impugned award and allowed the appeal by applying the doctrine of preponderance of probabilities.

On 25-01-2010, at about 7.30 AM, when Ghanshyam Baghel was going to his house, on the way, near turn towards Sunder Dera, one Pickup Bolero Jeep (hereinafter referred to as ‘offending vehicle’) driven by non-applicant 1 rashly and negligently dashed Ghanshyam Baghel and caused accident who suffered grievous injuries and succumbed to them. The accident was reported to concerned Police Station, and FIR was registered against non applicant 1. After completion of investigation, chargesheet was submitted before Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class. Claimants who are widow and mother of deceased filed an application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act i.e. M.V. Act before learned Claims Tribunal seeking compensation. The Claims Tribunal held that claimants failed to prove motor accidental injuries suffered by deceased Ghanshyam Baghel on account of rash and negligent driving of offending vehicle by non-applicant 1; there was no breach of policy conditions and dismissed the claim application by impugned order.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that Claims Tribunal erred in dismissing the claim only on the basis of contents of First Information Report and not considering the entire documents and evidence placed on record. It was further contended that case requires reconsideration prayed for remand of the case.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the Claims Tribunal has rightly taken into consideration the contents of First Information Report, which has been lodged immediately after the accident wherein it is specifically mentioned that deceased while carrying bag of seeds fell down on road and suffered injuries. He supported the impugned award and submits that there is no merit in appeal and the same is liable to be dismissed.

The Court observed that Claims Tribunal has not taken into consideration the entire material available on record and nature of proof, which is required to be brought by the claimants before Claims Tribunal to prove their case in the proceeding under Section 166 of the M.V. Act. The claim cases are required to be decided on the basis of preponderance of probabilities.

The doctrine of preponderance of probabilities was discussed in the judgment titled Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research v. Jaspal Singh, (2009) 7 SCC 330 which held as under:

“17. In Syad Akbar v. State of Karnataka (1980) 1 SCC 30 this Court dealt with in details the distinction between negligence in civil law and in criminal law. It has been held that there is a marked difference as to the effect of evidence, namely, the proof, in civil and criminal proceedings. In civil proceedings, a mere preponderance of probability is sufficient, and the defendant is not necessarily entitled to the benefit of every reasonable doubt; but in criminal proceedings, the persuasion of guilt must amount to such a moral certainty as convinces the mind of the court, as a reasonable man, beyond all reasonable doubt.”

  In Bimla Devi v. Himachal RTC, (2009) 13 SCC 530

“It was necessary to be borne in mind that strict proof of an accident caused by a particular bus in a particular manner may not be possible to be done by the claimants. The claimants were merely to establish their case on the touchstone of preponderance of probability. The standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt could not have been applied.”

 The Supreme Court judgment N.K.V. Bros. (P) Ltd. v. M. Karumai Ammal, (1980) 3 SCC 457 held

“3. Road accidents are one of the top killers in our country, specially when truck and bus drivers operate nocturnally. This proverbial recklessness often persuades the courts, as has been observed by us earlier in other cases, to draw an initial presumption in several cases based on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. Accidents Tribunals must take special care to see that innocent victims do not suffer and drivers and owners do not escape liability merely because of some doubt here or some obscurity there. Save in plain cases, culpability must be inferred from the circumstances where it is fairly reasonable. The court should not succumb to niceties, technicalities and mystic maybes. We are emphasising this aspect because we are often distressed by transport operators getting away with it thanks to judicial laxity, despite the fact that they do not exercise sufficient disciplinary control over the drivers in the matter of careful driving. The heavy economic impact of culpable driving of public transport must bring owner and driver to their responsibility to their ‘neighbour’……………”

The Court thus held that Claims Tribunal has not conducted an enquiry as provided under Section 168 of the M.V. Act and Rule 226 of the Chhattisgarh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1994. Taking into consideration the entire material available on record as well as looking to the object of M.V. Act and the provisions made thereunder, Claims Tribunal failed to appreciate the evidence. Hence Claims Tribunal erred in dismissing the entire claim application based on one of the documents i.e. contents of First Information Report.

In view of the above, impugned order was set aside and matter remitted back to the Claims Tribunal for reconsideration.[Shanti Bai v. Daneshwar Singh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 604, decided on 03-11-2020]


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Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): Anil Choudhary (Judicial Member), allowed an appeal which was filed aggrieved by the judgment and order of Commissioner (Appeals).

The appellant was engaged in the manufacture of MCBs (Miniature Circuit Breaker) and various other electrical accessories, which were dutiable falling under CETH 85362030. The appellant was availing SSI exemption in respect of goods manufactured on their own account or brand and at the same time, was paying duty on the goods bearing brand name of other persons. The other appellant was buyer of goods. On the basis of intelligence that the appellant has been indulging in evasion of duty, a search was conducted where certain documents were resumed. Statements of about 16 persons were recorded, which had been relied upon in the show cause notice. On the basis of scrutiny of the documents and statements of various persons, the Revenue concluded that duty was worked out including cess at Rs 1,22,00,622, invoking the extended period of limitation with a proposal to appropriate Rs.50 lakhs deposited during the investigation stage. Further, penalty was also proposed.

Initially, the appellant had approached the Settlement Commission, admitting duty liability of Rs 6,47,685. Before the Settlement Commission, the Department itself had revised the duty demand to Rs 49,50,711. However, the Settlement Commission recorded the finding that the evidence before it was not sufficient to come to any logical conclusion and sent the case to the Adjudicating Authority. The Adjudicating Authority further, on contest, confirmed a reduced demand of Rs 34,94,797, which was further reduced by the Commissioner (Appeals) to Rs 34,06,203, recording calculation errors. The Adjudicating Authority also imposed penalty of Rs 34,94,797 under Section 11 AC of the ACT read with Rule 25. Being aggrieved, the appellant again preferred appeal before the Commissioner (Appeals) who recorded the finding that the appellant have by and large accepted that they have been indulged in duty evasion but have raised certain issues – the calculation of turnover and duty evaded. They had mainly disputed the estimation of quantity. Commissioner (Appeals) re-calculated and aggrieved by which the instant appeal was filed. The counsel for the appellant, Mr Rajesh Chhibber urged that the Commissioner (Appeals) have erred in observing and reconciling the figures. Further, the rejection of the grounds of the appellant by the Commissioner (Appeals) particularly estimation of turn over by Revenue beyond the installed capacity was bad. Further, the learned Commissioner in spite of taking notice of a wide guess work down by the department has erred in not setting aside the duty demand along with a penalty for the alleged clandestine removal. It was further urged that in spite of allegation of the department of having cleared huge quantity and value of finished goods not a single consignment was intercepted outside the factory being transported without proper document either of raw materials or finished goods.

The Tribunal observed that it was evident on the face of the record that the show cause notice was issued by way of wide guess work wherein duty demand of Rs 1.22 crores was made approximately. Further, they found that Revenue had not worked out the source of raw material for manufacture of the huge quantity alleged to be clandestinely cleared, nor flow back of the proceeds of the alleged clandestine removal. Further, no adverse quantitative ratio has been found out nor any adverse ratio with respect to consumption of electricity was found. Admittedly, the total electricity bill for the two months in dispute is about Rs 20,100 or Rs 10,000 per month approximately. With such meagre consumption of power and taking in view the installed capacity, as well as the idle time due to power failure or break down of machine from time to time, the estimated production and confirming of duty by Revenue is found to be erroneous and high pitched.

The Tribunal allowing the appeal held that penalty under Section 11AC read with Rule 25 of Central Excise Rules should be set aside as case of Revenue was not proved.[Prakash Switchgear v. CCE, 2020 SCC OnLine CESTAT 321, decided on 12-11-2020]


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Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): P. Venkata Subba Rao (Technical Member) allowed an appeal which was filed against the judgment of Commissioner (Appeals).

The appellant imported Benzothiazole through Visakhapatnam Port declaring an assessable value of US$ 3.5 per Kg being the transaction value. The Assistant Commissioner enhanced it to 4.3523 per Kg. The appellant paid the enhanced duty under protest and appealed to Commissioner (Appeals) who set aside the enhancement. Thereafter the appellant had filed an application for refund of the excess duty paid by them. The Assistant Commissioner rejected the refund claim and on appeal, the rejection of refund was upheld by Commissioner (Appeals).

The Assistant Commissioner had sanctioned the refund but had not paid interest. On appeal Commissioner (Appeals), by the impugned order, held that the liability to pay interest arises only if the refund was not made within three months from the date of receipt of the Tribunal’s Order. Since the refund had been paid within three months from the date of receipt of the Tribunal’s order no interest was payable.

The counsel for the appellant, M. Rajendran submitted that it was a well-settled principle of law that interest had to be paid if the refund was not sanctioned within three months from the date of refund application.

The Tribunal explained that Section 27A of the Customs Act, 1962 provided for the payment on interest on delayed refunds. The Tribunal further stated that if there was any delay in sanctioning the amount of refund if any available to the appellant as per the Tribunal’s Order he can make a claim of the same from the Department. The respondent had sanctioned the refund of Duty and Interest vide impugned order which was well within the time period of three months from the date of order of Appellate Tribunal. Hence the interest on delayed refund under the provisions of Section 27A of Customs Act, 1962 does not arise in the present case. The Tribunal allowed the appeal finding that the appellant was entitled to interest on the delayed refunds from three months from the date of receipt of refund application till the date of which the refund has actually been paid and orders the Department to pay the interest.[Andhra Organics Ltd. v. Commr. Of Central Tax, Customs Appeal No. 30188 of 2019, decided on 10-11-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Rajesh Shankar, J. dismissed the petition on grounds of non-maintainability.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner took a loan to the tune of Rs 4, 25,000 from the respondent bank namely Allahabad Bank. Due to default in payment of money, a notice was issued under Section 13(2) of the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets & Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 [“SARFAESI Act”] to pay the outstanding amount of Rs 7, 89, 420 within 60 days from the date of the notice, failing which, the respondent-Bank will exercise the power conferred under Section 13(4) of the SARFAESI Act. There has been another notice dated 28-11-2019 issued for possession of her property by the Respondent Bank and cautioned the public in general to not deal with the property under Rule 8(1) of the Security Interest (Enforcement) Rules, 2002 (“Rules, 2002”) by the respondent 2. Aggrieved by the same, instant petition in the nature of certiorari has been filed to quash both the notices.

Counsel for the petitioner Rajiv Nandan Prasad submitted that the petitioner is a disabled lady and also the owner of the property in question in one of the impugned notice, she took a loan and has already paid Rs 8, 00,000 inclusive of the interest but later a huge amount was spent on her treatment at Vellore and as such, she was not able to pay EMI of the said home loan due to which her loan account became irregular and was subsequently declared as N.P.A.

Counsel for the respondent P.A.S. Pati raised an objection on grounds of maintainability as an alternative remedy under Section 17 of the SARFAESI Act is available.

 ISSUE 1: Availability of Alternative Remedy

  The Court relied on the judgment titled United Bank of India v. Satyawati Tondon, (2010) 8 SCC 110 which held:

“The expression “any person” used in Section 17(1) is of wide import. It takes within its fold, not only the borrower but also the guarantor or any other person who may be affected by the action taken under Section 13(4) or Section 14. Both, the Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal are empowered to pass interim orders under Sections 17 and 18 and are required to decide the matters within a fixed time schedule. It is thus evident that the remedies available to an aggrieved person under the SARFAESI Act are both expeditious and effective.”

 The Court also relied on the judgment titled Standard Chartered Bank v. Noble Kumar, (2013) 9 SCC 620 which held:

“The “appeal” under Section 17 is available to the borrower against any measure taken under Section 13(4).”

“We are of the opinion that by whatever manner the secured creditor obtains possession either through the process contemplated under Section 14 or without resorting to such a process obtaining of the possession of a secured asset is always a measure against which a remedy under Section 17 is available.”

 ISSUE 2: Invoking Writ Jurisdiction in Matters relating to Realization of Loans

The Court relied on the judgment titled Authorized Officer, State Bank of Travancore v. Mathew K.C. (2018) 3 SCC 85 which held :

“Loans by financial institutions are granted from public money generated at the tax payers expense. Such loan does not become the property of the person taking the loan, but retains its character of public money given in a fiduciary capacity as entrustment by the public. Timely repayment also ensures liquidity to facilitate loan to another in need, by circulation of the money and cannot be permitted to be blocked by frivolous litigation by those who can afford the luxury of the same.”

Taking into account the provisions of the SARFAESI Act and judicial pronouncements, the Court held the petition to be non-maintainable directing liberty to the petitioner to take recourse before the appropriate forum.

In view of the above, petition stands dismissed. [Uma Pandey v. Allahabad Bank, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 819, decided on 18-06-2020]


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Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Full Bench of Priyantha Jayawardena, PC, Murdu N.B. Fernando, PC, and S. Thurairaja, PC, JJ., allowed an application for special leave to appeal filed aggrieved by the order of the High Court.

The applicant-respondent-petitioner (workman) was employed as the Farm Manager of the respondent-appellant-respondent Company (employer). He had filed an application in the Labour Tribunal claiming compensation for the alleged unlawful termination of services and gratuity from the employer. The employer had stated that the termination was due to ‘frustration’ of the contract of employment as the farm in which the employer worked was closed down as it was not feasible to continue with its operations. After inquiry the Labour Tribunal had ordered compensation to the workman for the wrongful termination of employment. Being aggrieved, the employer had appealed the High Court where the appeal was allowed and order of the Labour Tribunal was set aside. Thus, the current appeal was filed by the workman. The Counsel for the employer, Viran Corea with Sarita de Fonseka had raised a Preliminary Objection stating that the workman had not complied with Rule 2 read with Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules of 1990 and moved for a dismissal of the application in limine. They further contended that workman had filed, by way of motion several documents without assigning any reason for the delay and/or inability to have tendered the said documents along with the petition. Per Contra, the counsel for the workman, Ms. Kaushali Rubasinghe with Mr. Kushani Harischandra, submitted that in terms of Rule 2 read with Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules, documents have to be annexed where the application contains allegations of fact which cannot be verified by reference to the judgment or Order in respect of which special leave to appeal is sought. It was submitted that no prejudice had been caused to the rights of the employer or the administration of justice due to the non-availability of those documents. Further, they contended that the application was taken up for support for the first time; no objection was raised on the maintainability of the application. However, the objection regarding non-compliance was raised only when the matter was taken up for support for the second time.

The Court while explaining Rule 2 read with Rule 6 specified that documents that are required to be annexed to an application for special leave to appeal, if allegations of facts referred to in such an application cannot be verified by reference to the judgment in respect of which special leave to appeal is sought. The Court further held that there was no provision requiring the filing of objections in an appeal. Hence, the statement of objections and the verifying affidavit filed by the workman before the High Court are not necessary to consider the instant application thus; said documents are not material documents to consider granting of special leave to appeal in the instant application. Preliminary Objection raised by the employer was overruled imposing costs.[Hiranya Surantha Wijesinghe v. Tenderlea Farms (P) Ltd., 2020 SCC OnLine SL SC 7, decided on 17-09-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: M.G. Uma, J., setting aside the conviction order by the fast track Court, allows compromise between the parties.

The appellant-accused in the present case has been tried and convicted by the fast track Court against the offences punishable under Sections 324, 325, 504, 506 and 307 of Penal code, 1860

Counsel for the complainant submitted that the dispute between the complainant and the accused has been compromised and hence the charges may be compounded and the appellant-accused be acquitted accordingly. Additional Advocate General opposed the application stating that the offences under Sections 324 and 307 IPC are not compoundable. Supreme Court decision in, Yogendra Yadav v. State of Jharkhand, (2014) 9 SCC 653 and Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303 was relied on by the counsel for the appellant, wherein it was held, “High Courts can quash criminal proceedings under section 482 even though the offence alleged is non-compoundable if parties have amicably settled their dispute and victim has no objection. Further, this would depend on the fact of each case. Offences which involve moral turpitude, grave offences like rape, murder cannot be effaced by quashing proceedings because they have harmful effect on society and are not restricted to two individuals or groups.”

Further, the earlier order of the present Court was referred, where the decision in S.S. Joshi v. State of Haryana, 2003 Crl. L.J. 2028 was obeyed, allowing a compromise petition by setting aside the judgment of conviction by the trial court.

The Court while setting aside the conviction of the accused allowed the compounding of offences and ordered the deposition of fine as ordered by the trial court.[Yesaiah v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Appeal No. 2603/2012, decided on 3-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Division Bench of H.C. Mishra and Rajesh Kumar JJ., rejected the prayer and dismissed the appeal being devoid of merit.

The facts of the case are such that marriage of the appellant and his wife was solemnized in the year 2007 as per Hindu rites and rituals in the presence of all family friends and relatives and two children are born out of the wedlock. The appellant alleged that wife has been living separately and on numerous incidents caused mental agony to the appellant. He has further alleged in the appeal that the acts of the wife amount to cruelty and desertion of the wife. A suit was filed by the husband for divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on grounds of cruelty, desertion and mental incapacity of the respondent-wife. The Trial Court decided the matter in favour of the wife and aggrieved by the same, the instant appeal was filed challenging the same order.

The appellant represented himself in person and submitted that the wife behaved psychic and rudely and treated him and his parents with utmost cruelty. He cited various incidents to support his argument along with two witnesses, one himself and his mother, namely, Kaushalya Devi but did not produce any documentary evidence.

Counsel Sujeet Neepulam representing the respondent-wife denied allegations of cruelty, desertion and mental illness and submitted further that her actions of leaving home and staying with parents are not willful as the appellant and his family were demanding dowry, refusing which she was ousted from the marital home and brought back and ousted again on many occasions. Four witnesses, namely, Ashok Saw, Naresh Saw, Praveen Kumar and herself were examined to support her argument alongwith documentary evidence i.e. a mutual divorce application dated 13-07-2009 sent by the husband to wife after signing, a letter dated 30-07-2010 to her father giving threat, copy of an FIR instituted by the respondent-wife under Section 498 A of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961  compromise copy after the appellant was arrested subsequent to the filing of FIR and other pertinent documents to support her plea. It was further submitted that the respondent is still willing to lead a respectable conjugal life with her husband, but the husband is not willing to keep her.

The Court observed that appellant was unable to present any substantial evidence except oral evidence of his and his mother whereas the respondent-wife presented various documentary proofs which demolish the case of cruelty from her side instead makes it clear by looking at the mutual divorce application and a written letter of threat to her father or the fact that she compromised to secure bail for the petitioner is enough to indicate the willingness of the respondent-wife to resume the respectable conjugal life with the appellant.

The court relied on judgments titled Jorden Diengdeh v. S.S. Chopra, (1985) 3 SCC 62 and Kaslefsky v. Kaslefsky [1951] P. 38 and held that any husband desirous to get rid of his wife may get desired result by driving out his wife from matrimonial home by force or creating a situation and thereafter taking plea of desertion for more than two years. The law is clear that if one of the parties to the matrimonial home, voluntary and without any plausible explanation has left the matrimonial home giving no option to the other party, then it amounts to desertion. Desertion is a willful and voluntary act by the party to leave something without any rational reason. In the present case, the husband is at fault and this is the reason for separate living of both the parties. Hence, the argument that living separately itself is sufficient in the eyes of law for granting the divorce is not acceptable.

In view of the above, decree for divorce rejected and appeal dismissed.[Sanjay Kumar v. Suman Kumari, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 773, decided on 08-09-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Kumari Prabha Sharma, JJ., dismissed the allegations of dowry demand, cruelty against the father-in-law and husband of the deceased in view of the prosecution theory regarding homicidal death being nothing short of sheer exaggeration.

An appeal was preferred by the accused-appellants under Section 374(2) CrPC against the decision of Additional Sessions Judge (Women Atrocities Cases), Bikaner.

Deceased was married to appellant 1 for 10 years. On one fateful day she was found dead in the kitchen with burn injuries, whereupon her brother, PW.1 lodged.

Humiliated and Harassed

Allegations were placed that the deceased was harassed from the date of her marriage till death on account of dowry demand.

Both the father-in-law and husband of the deceased under the influence of liquor used to maltreat her owing to the demand for money.

The unjust demands of the above-stated persons used to be somehow met but the greed would never end.

PW1 also stated that when he saw his sister dead, both the husband and deceased’s father-in-law kept uttering the words that they had killed the woman and he could do whatever he liked. 

In view of the above, offences under Section 302, 498A and 34 of Penal Code, 1860 were filed.

Later, both the husband and father-in-law were arrested.

Analysis and Decision

Bench on perusal of the facts and circumstances of the matter stated that, if at all there was a semblance of truth in the allegation that the maltreatment of the deceased was continuing for almost 10 years, then her maternal relatives were expected to raise this issue by filing a complaint either to the police and if not, then at least intervention of the community elders would definitely have been sought.

Adding to the above, maternal neer reprimanded the cruel behaviour of the accused.

Hence, the allegations levelled by the prosecution witnesses that the accused were indulged in meting out continuous maltreatment to the deceased on account of demand of dowry is nothing short of sheer exaggeration and needs to be discarded.

Further, it was duly established that the father-in-law of the deceased had invested significant amounts from the sale proceeds of his agricultural land in the names of his granddaughters before the incident, which makes it clear that the allegation of humiliation and harassment is unsubstantiated.

On perusal of the medical report of the deceased, Court noted that the injuries were on the front, but the prosecution theory states that the deceased was set ablaze, if the said theory was true then the kerosene would have dribbled on the front as well as back, hence the defence theory of deceased falling down on the burning place in probablised.

In view of the above-stated background, the reverse burden of proof under Section 106 of the Evidence Act would also not come to the aid of the otherwise fragile and fragmented prosecution case.

Therefore, the accused-appellants were acquitted of all the charges.[Gopal v. State of Rajasthan, DB Criminal Appeal No. 799 of 2014, decided on 06-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Jyoti Singh, J., while addressing the maintainability and legality of a petition filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 held that, legislature in its wisdom has provided for Appeal under Section 29 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 against all “orders” and has not made any exception to orders relating to custody.

Petition was filed seeking setting aside of the Order passed in complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 by the Metropolitan Magistrate.

Due to a rift in the relationship of the husband and wife, respondent took away the three children to live with him under a separate roof.

Protection Order & Custody Orders

By way of the present petition, petitioner sought reliefs such as Protection Order under Section 18 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Wife sought a restraining order against the respondent from dispossessing the wife from the shared household and monetary reliefs such as medical expenses and rentals including household expenses.

In line of reliefs, Custody Order with respect to the three children were also sought under Section 21 of the Act. Application for various interim reliefs was also sought under Section 23 of the Act.

Unhindered Access to Mother

Court noted that for the sake of emotional quotient and robust psychological health, the mother should be provided unhindered access, if not physically then through video conferencing and the same was granted on 24th April, 2020.

Magistrates’ Decision

Custody of children was directed to be continued with the father as an interim measure visitation rights were granted the wife.

Petition not maintainable

Respondent’s counsel, Bobby Anand submitted that petitioner has a remedy of an appeal under Section 29 of the Act, hence the present petition is not maintainable under Section 482 CrPC.

Advocate Malvika Rajkotia, for the wife submitted that, a mother is best suited to look after the needs of growing daughters, particularly, the sensitivities of their emotional needs and biological requirements.

She also submits that youngest daughter is under 5 years of age and it is a mandate under Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 that the child should be in care and custody of the mother.

Present Petition is maintainable in this Court as mere availability of alternate remedy cannot be a ground to disentitle the relief under Section 482 CrPC.

Analysis and Decision

Maintainability

Supreme Court has time and again spelt out clear restraints on the use of extraordinary powers and observed that the High courts should not go beyond those wholesome inhibitions unless the extraordinary circumstances cry for immediate and timely judicial mandate.

In the present matter, Court is not persuaded in to entertain the petition in its extraordinary power under Section 482 CrPC given the fact that there is a clear remedy of Appeal under Section 29 of the Act available.

Hence, facts and circumstances in the present matter do not call for any urgent intervention to permit the petitioner in bypassing the remedy available in the form of Statutory Appeal.

in view of the above, petition was dismissed.[Srisha Dinav Bansal v. Rajiv Bansal, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 764, decided on 20-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Jyoti Singh, J., while addressing a matter with regard to “custody order” as being the primary relief, held that,

Legislature in its wisdom has provided for Appeal under Section 29 of the Act against all “orders” and has not made any exception to orders relating to custody.

Petitioner sought directions with regard to setting aside the Order passed by Metropolitan Magistrate under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Due to a rift in petitioner and respondent’s relationship it resulted into respondent taking away their 3 daughters under a separate roof.

Reliefs that petitioner was seeking for in the initial complaint under the said Act was “Protection Order” under Section 18 of the Act, “Custody Orders” under Section 21 of the Act. Along with the said complaint, an application under Section 23 for various other reliefs was also filed by the petitioner.

Metropolitan Magistrate had directed that the custody of the children would continue to remain with the father/respondent and as an interim measure visitation rights were granted to the petitioner.

Decision

Relying on several decisions of the High Court and Supreme Court in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303 it was found that,

“…Supreme Court has time and again spelt out clear restraints on use of extraordinary powers and observed that High Courts should not go beyond those wholesome inhibitions, unless the extraordinary circumstances cry for immediate and timely judicial interdiction or mandate.”

“Mentor of law is justice and a potent drug should be judicially administered.”

High Court held that it is not persuaded in the facts and circumstances of the present case, to entertain the petition in its extraordinary power under Section 482 CrPC, given the fact that there is a clear remedy of Appeal under Section 29 of the Act.

Argument — Matter related to custody of minor girls, remedy of appeal is not efficacious

Court put forth the reasons for not accepting the said argument and stated that,

  • Legislature in its wisdom has provided for Appeal under Section 29 of the Act against all “orders” and has not made any exception to orders relating to custody.
  • It is not shown why the Petitioner cannot resort to the remedy of an Appeal and why the Appellate Court is incapable of or incompetent to exercise its jurisdiction to deal with an impugned order of temporary custody, both in law and facts.

In view of the above reasons, petition was dismissed. [Sirisha Dinavahi Bansal v. Rajiv Bansal, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 764 , decided on 20-07-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of New Zealand:  The Full Bench comprising of Winkelmann CJ, William Young, Glazebrook, O’Regan and Ellen France JJ., unanimously rejected an appeal from a coal company seeking to carry out coal-mining activities in a reserve established for water conservation purposes.

Appellant had obtained a mining permit under the Crowns Minerals Act, 1991 (CMA), but to access the site and carry out mining activities, it had to reach an access arrangement with Buller District Council, which owned and administered the reserve. Rangitira had approached the High Court seeking declarations which the Council would have to take into account while considering the access arrangement and obtained an order in its favour. But the respondent’s appeal succeeded at the Court of Appeals, and that decision had been challenged in the present case.

The appellant claims that the Crown Minerals Act would assume primacy over the Reserves Act, 1977, which would not have allowed for the access arrangement sought by it, since the mine’s impact would not be compatible with the purpose of the reserve i.e., water conservation. It claimed that the CMA is a “one-stop shop” regulating access for mining, which prevails over acts of general legislation such as the Reserves Act.

Section 60 (2) of the CMA states, “In considering whether to agree to an access arrangement, an owner or occupier of land (other than Crown land) may have regard to such matters as he or she considers relevant.”

Rejecting the appellant’s main claim, the Court decided that nothing in the CMA could limit the Council’s obligations under the Reserves Act. The Council enjoys a wide freedom and has the sole decision as the owner to decide whether to enter into an access arrangement or not (as per Section 60 (2) of the CMA), since the access is sought over land in a reserve. It differentiated the CMA from earlier legislations which it had replaced upon its enactment  on this very ground, holding that mining permits and licenses under the CMA do not include the right to access the land and the power and permissions to do so but only the right to extract coal. 

Furthermore, a miner under the CMA, after securing mining rights, would require an access arrangement from the owner and occupier of the land and a resource consent from the relevant authority. “There is no ability for the Crown or a statutory office holder to mandate mining for coal or other minerals in such a reserve,” unlike the earlier Acts, where only a single public official’s decision could allow the holder of a mining license to legally extract coal from a mine within a reserve. It upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision and ordered the appellant to pay the respondent $25,000 along with usual disbursements. [Rangitira Developments Limited v. Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated, [2020] NZSC 66, decided on 15-07-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of Vasantha Kodagoda and Arjuna Obeyesekere, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed against the Judgment of the Commissioner-General of Inland Revenue.

The petitioner had stated that he was a building contractor and his business was registered with the Department of Inland Revenue (the Revenue) for the payment of Value Added Tax (VAT). He had admitted that he had delayed the filing of the VAT returns due to which the Revenue had disallowed the claims he had made for VAT refunds. The Revenue had served the Petitioner a Certificate of Tax in default in a sum of Rs 11,137,283. Further, the petitioner had appealed and the penalty on the sum had been waived and the sum in default had been reduced to Rs 6,405,616. The revenue had filed a case against the petitioner in the district court to recover the specified sum. The petitioner stated that he had faced many difficulties while carrying out several projects in 2009 in the district of Mannar and that he was discriminated by public servants on the basis of his ethnicity due to which payments due to the Petitioner for work had been delayed disrupting the smooth functioning of his business which is why the petitioner had made an application to the revenue. The Court after going through the application observed that even though the petitioner had explained the difficulties faced but was unable to produce any document in support of his facts and it was concluded that an exemption cannot be granted to him aggrieved by which the petitioner had appealed to the Commissioner-General of Inland Revenue but his appeals had been rejected, thus the instant application, as well as a Writ of Mandamus compelling the Revenue to grant an exemption, was filed. 

The Court while dismissing the appeal explained that there was considerable delay in invoking the jurisdiction of this Court as the application was filed almost six years after the appeal was rejected, it observed that the Petitioner had not offered any explanation for the delay and further the petitioner was not alleging that the decision of the Commissioner-General of Inland Revenue was illegal, thus the application deserves to be dismissed. [Hitibandara Attapattu Mudiyanselage Ananda Parakrama Kumara Aigama v. Nadun Guruge, CA (Writ) Application No: 108 of 2019, decided on 02-12-2019]