Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Amit Rawal J., dismissed the second appeal petition on the ground that there was no substantial question for determination.

The regular second appeal was preferred at the instance of the appellant/defendant against the decretal suit against the injunction order to her to not to interfere in the subject land.

The respondent-plaintiff alleged that plaintiff and defendant had joint land which was purchased by the plaintiff for Rs 1 lakh for the purpose of passage. The defendants were extending threats for construction on the land including 1 biswa and perpetually requested but resulted into celandra under Section 107(151) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Sanjiv Gupta, counsel for the appellant/defendant submitted that suit for the injunction prima facie as per the record of local commissioner reflecting the possession of 1 biswa more than her ownership, was not maintainable. In the absence of relief of mandatory injunction, decree qua relief of possession could not be moulded under the provisions of Order 7 Rule 7 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

The defendant opposed the suit and denied the averments and stated that she was the owner of the land measuring six biswa as per the registered sale deed.

Court opined that “litigants are required to exercise the due diligence in the pursuing the remedy particularly when the appellant had assailed the judgment and decree of the trial Court before the Lower Appellate Court. There is no equity on the person who has been found to be in alleged encroachment” Thus, the petition was dismissed.[Sabri v. Gulzar Ahmed, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 708, decided on 24-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. dismissed a petition finding no merit in the appeal as when two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial Court.

In the present matter, the appellants alleged that they had found a person carrying a plastic can in his right hand. The person on seeing the police party got perplexed and on suspicion, he was arrested. During his personal search, he was found in conscious and exclusive possession of one plastic can, containing three bottles of illicit liquor. After separating one nip as a sample, both the nips as well as sample were sealed. The prosecution, in order to prove its case, examined as many as six witnesses. Statement of the accused was recorded under Section 313 CrPC, wherein he denied the prosecution case and claimed innocence. Additional Advocates General, Shiv Pal Manhas and P.K Bhatti with Raju Ram Rahi, Deputy Advocate General argued that the prosecution has proved the guilt of the accused beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt.

While H.K.S. Thakur, counsel for the respondent argued that the alleged quantity of three bottles of illicit liquor stated to be recovered from the respondent is a concocted story, as no independent witness was associated by the police. And even the Investigating Officer in his statement has specifically stated that he did not find it appropriate to associate any independent witness.

The Court after considering the facts and circumstances and the arguments advanced found that “when independent witnesses were available on spot the Investigating Officer should have associated them. However, the Investigating Officer simply stated that he does not find it proper to associate independent witnesses. The non joining of the independent prosecution witnesses when they were available, makes the prosecution case doubtful with respect to recovery of three bottles of illicit liquor”. The Court further relied on K. Prakashan v. P.K. Surenderan, (2008) 1 SCC 258 and T. Subramanian v. State of T.N., (2006) 1 SCC 401. Further, it took into consideration the principles culled out in Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka, (2007) 4 SCC 415 that, “If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court” amongst other things.[State of Himachal Pradesh v. Joban Dass, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 646, decided on 21-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This petition was filed by petitioners before the Division Bench of Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ. praying for a direction to the respondent to decide the application of petitioner filed under Section 28-A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and to re-determine compensation sought to be given to the petitioner.

Facts of the case were such that a notification was issued under Section 4(1) of the Act, 1894 where an award was passed by the Special Land Acquisition Officer, Ghaziabad in respect of certain land parcels. Petitioner did not challenge the aforementioned award under Section 18 of the Act but the same was challenged by other persons which gave rise to land acquisition references decided by District Judge thereby re-determining the compensation amount. It was against this judgment that the first appeal was filed which was decided with the re-determined compensation amount. Under the decision in the first appeal, the petitioner filed an application under Section 28-A of the Act to claim the benefit of the re-determined compensation. This application was rejected.

The question before Court was to decide if the application was time-barred under Section 28-A of the Act which mentioned about re-determination of the amount of compensation on the basis of the award of the Court within 3 months of its decision. Thereby leading to the second question from which Court’s decision the time period was to be calculated i.e. Reference Court or High Court first appeal. 

Krishna Mishra, learned counsel on behalf of petitioners, submitted that the time period for claiming the benefit of re-determined compensation amount was to begin after the decision in the first appeal and since their application was within that time period the application was validly made. Suresh Singh learned Addl. Chief Standing Counsel appearing on behalf of State respondents, submitted that the limitation period to file application was to be taken from the date of the award made by Reference Court which means that petitioner’s application was time-barred.

Under the Act, Court was defined to mean a principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction. Catena of cases were referred to concluding that limitation period should be computed from the date of award of Reference Court on basis of which re-determination was sought and not from the appeal which was filed against the award. Accordingly, the application thus filed was beyond the time period of 3 months if computed from the award of Reference Court. Further, proviso of the Section did not state any other reason for the extension of the time period than to obtain a copy of award.

High Court on the discussion above was of the view that petitioners could not have claimed the benefit of re-determined compensation as their application was time-barred. The application was to be filed within 3 months of the award passed by Reference Court and not after the decision of High Court in first appeal. Therefore, this petition was dismissed. [Tejpal Singh v. State of U.P., Writ C No. 7218 of 2019, Order dated 08-03-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Reminding the Courts of the scope of their powers, the bench of Abhay Manohar Sapre and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has said:

“While considering the case of discharge sought immediately after the charge­sheet is filed, the Court cannot become an Appellate Court and start appreciating the evidence by finding out inconsistency in the statements of the witnesses.”

Background of the case:

  • An Inspector of Police and Sub-­inspector of Police were prosecuted for commission of the offences punishable under Section 7 read with Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • On charge­sheet being filed by the State Prosecuting Agency against the respondents after obtaining necessary sanction as required in law, both of them filed applications under Section 227 of the Cr.P.C. in the Court of Special Judge and Chief Judicial Magistrate.
  • The Chief Judicial Magistrate allowed the applications and discharged them from the case.
  • State approached the High Court and the High Court dismissed the revisions and affirmed the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, giving rise to filing of these appeals by the State by way of special leave in this Court.

When the matter reached Supreme Court, it had to decide whether the Courts below were   justified in allowing the discharge applications filed by the respondents under Section 227 of the Cr. P.C. Stating that the Court the High Court acted like an Appellate Court than as a Revisionary Court as if it was hearing the appeal against the final verdict of the Special Court, the Court said:

“consideration of the record for discharge purpose is one thing and the consideration of the record while deciding the appeal by the Appellate Court is another thing.”

The Court, hence, set aside the impugned order, dismissed the applications filed by the respondents under Section 227 of the Cr.P.C. and remanded the case to the Special Judge/CJM for its trial on merits in accordance with law.

[State v. J. Doraiswamy, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 338, decided on 07.03.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an appeal filed against the decision of the Allahabad High Court where it had rejected the application under Section 391 Cr.P.C on the ground that the additional evidence was filed with malafide intentions for delaying the decision of the appeal, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ said:

“When Statute grants right to appeal to an accused, he has right to take all steps and take benefit of all powers of the Appellate Court in the ends of the justice. In a criminal case Appellate Court has to consider as to whether conviction of the accused is sustainable or the appellant has made out a case for acquittal. The endeavour of all Courts has to reach to truth and justice.”

Present is the case where the appellant was convicted by a trail court on 07.10.2013 for cheating the complainant with regard to sale of agricultural land of the trust. He had produced a photocopy of the Trust Deed before the trial court, however, it was not proved.  On 08.10.2013, he appealed before the High Court and filed an application before the court to accept the certified copy of the Trust Deed and the Resolution and permit the appellant to lead evidence. The High Court, however, rejected the application and observed that the application was filed with some ulterior malafide motive.

Not agreeing with the view of the High Court, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ said:

“Filing of the application before the High Court to accept the certified copy of the Trust Deed and the Resolution and permit the appellant to lead evidence can in no manner be said to be malafide motive of the accused, who had been convicted in the appeal, has right to take all the grounds and also lead additional evidence, which in accordance with the Appellate Court is necessary in deciding the appeal.”

On the observation of the High Court that the application to take additional evidence at the appellate stage was filed by appellant for delaying the decision of the appeal to eternity, the bench said:

“when prosecution took twelve years’ time in leading evidence before the trial court and the judgment by trial court was delivered on 07.10.2013, the appeal was filed on 08.10.2013, how can appellant be castigated with the allegation that he intended to delay the appeal to eternity.”

It was noticed that trust Deed and the Resolution, which are foundation and basis for the start of the process of the sale of the land, were documents which ought to have been permitted to be proved to arrive at any conclusion to find out the criminal intent, if any, on the part of the appellant. The Court, hence, held that the High Court had failed to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 391 Cr.P.C. and has committed error in rejecting the applications under Section 391 Cr.P.C.

[Brig. Sukhjeet Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 72, decided on 24.01.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single judge bench comprising of H.G. Ramesh, J. while hearing a civil writ petition against an interlocutory order of the trial court in a suit pending between petitioner and respondent, held that the supervisory jurisdiction of a High Court under Article 227 can be exercised only if the inferior court has not proceeded within its jurisdiction.

In the instant case, in a suit pending between petitioner and respondent, the trial court passed an interlocutory order allowing the respondent/ plaintiff to produce certain documents through secondary evidence. Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner/ defendant preferred the present writ petition before the Hon’ble High Court.

The Court examined the law with respect to jurisdiction of High Courts under Articles 226 and 227 and relied on the judgment of  Apex court in Raj Kumar Bhatia v Subhash Chander Bhatia, (2018) 2 SCC 87 to hold that supervisory jurisdiction conferred on High Court under Article 227 is confined only to see whether an inferior court or tribunal has proceeded within the parameters of its jurisdiction.

Having regard to facts of the case, the court declined to entertain the instant writ petition. However, liberty was granted to the petitioner to challenge the impugned order before the Appellate Court as provided under Section 105 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. [Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited v. Shankar Construction Company, WP (C) No. 46389 of 2015, decided on 05-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Discouraging the practice of the appellate courts of reproducing the passages of the lower court’s order without proper analysis, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that quoting passages from the trial court judgment and thereafter penning few lines and expressing the view that there is no reason to differ with the trial court judgment, can by no stretch be termed as a reasoned order. The Court said that the absence of analysis not only evinces non-application of mind but mummifies the core spirit of the judgment. A Judge has to constantly remind himself that absence of reason in the process of adjudication makes the ultimate decision pregnable.

Stating that the first appellate court has a defined role and its judgment should show application of mind and reflect the reasons on the basis of which it agrees with the trial court, the Court said that there has to be an “expression of opinion” in the proper sense of the said phrase. It cannot be said that mere concurrence meets the requirement of law. It was said that it is one thing to state that the appeal is without any substance and it is another thing to elucidate, analyse and arrive at the conclusion that the appeal is devoid of merit.

The Court was hearing an appeal challenging the Karnataka High Court order where the learned Judge had posed the question about the defensibility of the ultimate direction by the trial Court and thereafter proceeded to quote paragraphs from the trial court judgment. Remitting the matter for fresh disposal within 6 months, the Court said that posing a question which is relevant for adjudication of the appeal is not enough. There has to have been proper analysis of the same. Stating the facts and thereafter reproducing few passages from the trial Court and ultimately referring to certain exhibited documents in a cryptic manner will not convert an unreasoned judgment to a reasoned one. [U. Manjunath Rao v. U. Chandrashekar,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 865, decided on 04.08.2017]