Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Anil S. Kilor, J., decided an appeal wherein the claim petition was rejected by the Motor Accident Tribunal on certain grounds.

FACTS

Deceased Baby was traveling in a jeep owned by respondent 1. It has been stated that the vehicles’ driver was driving at a high speed and in a negligent manner resulting in a violent dash to a tree.

In view of the above incident, the husband of the deceased Baby and her two sons filed a claim petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act claiming Rs 5,00,000 towards compensation.

Insurance Company |Breach of Condition of Insurance Policy

Respondent 2 i.e the Insurance Company resisted the claim by filing a written statement on the grounds that the driver of the offending vehicle was not holding a valid motor driving license on the date of the accident and the jeep was insured for private use but it was used for commercial purpose in breach of a condition of the Insurance policy.

Since the claim petition was rejected by the tribunal, the present appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellants, P.R. Agrawal; K.B Zinjarde, Counsel for the legal representatives of respondent 1 owner of the offending vehicle and S.K. Pardhy, Counsel for the Insurance Company.

Analysis and Decision

Bench on perusal of the grounds of rejection by the tribunal examined the correctness and legality of the same.

Ground 1:

Claim is based on falsity

Registration of births, those who born in remote areas like the deceased Baby or the appellant 1, have a lesser likelihood of registration of their birth and possessing a birth certificate.

In absence of schools in remote tribal areas till the recent past, it was not possible to take education for many. Hence no school record in respect of date of birth is also available.

Therefore, there is a practice of mentioning the approximate age.

The Court found no ill-intention of the claimants in mentioning the age of the deceased as 38 years.

Hence, the rejection of the claim petition by the Tribunal on the ground that the case of the claimant is based on falsity is erroneous.

Ground 2:

Husband of the deceased Baby, being an earning member, cannot claim compensation for death of his wife in the accident

The deceased was a housewife, therefore, claimants have lost personal care and attention given by the deceased.

A housewife holds the family together. She is a pillar support for her husband, a guiding light for her child/children and harbor for the family’s elderly.

In regard to the importance of the role of a housewife, High Court referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Arun Kumar Agrawal v. National Insurance Company Ltd., (2010) 9 SCC 218.

Further, the Court stated that,

“…the loss to the husband and children consequent upon the death of the housewife or mother has to be computed by estimating the loss of personal care and attention given by the deceased to her children as a mother and to her husband as a wife and further for loss of gratuitous and the multifarious services rendered by the housewives for managing the entire family.”

Hence, the claim of the claimants on the ground that the husband and the major sons are not entitled to claim compensation on the death of the wife or mother, appears to be in ignorance of the well-established principals of law.

In Court’s opinion, the deceased being a woman and mother of two children would have also contributed her physical labour for the maintenance of the household and also taking care of her children. Therefore, being a labourer and maintaining her family, her daily income should be fixed at Rs 200 per day and Rs 6000 per month.

Ground 3:

The private vehicle was used for commercial purposes in breach of conditions of the Insurance Policy moreover the driver was not holding a valid licence.

In view of the Supreme Court decision in S. Iyyapan v. United India Insurance Company Ltd., 2013 (6) Mh. L.J. 1 and this Court’s decision in Dnyaneshwar v. Raju, 2020(1) Mah. Law Journal 377, wherein it was held that it is the vicarious liability of the owner of the vehicle to pay compensation even if due to rash and negligent driving of the driver, the accident had occurred.

Thus, in view of the above-stated position, ground 3 was also rejected.

DECISION

High Court held that it is the statutory duty of the Insurance Company to pay the amount of compensation even in breach of a policy condition.

Court directed the Insurance Company to pay the compensation amount in three months.

In view of the aforesaid terms, the appeal was allowed. [Rambhau v. Shivlal, First Appeal No. 510 of 2007, decided on 17-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: B. Pugalendhi, J., while addressing a petition, observed that,

“An impartial investigation is the basic requirement for any investigation. A fair investigation is also a part of constitutional right guaranteed under Articles 20 & 21 of the Constitution of India.”

“Majority of people are now hailing the police encounters and majority of people are now opting for other modes of redresses, like Kangaroo Courts, etc.”

Respondent had filed a final report against the Appellant for the offence under Sections 341, 302 and 394 r/w 397 of Penal Code, 1860.

Trial Court did not find the appellant guilty for the offence under Section 394 r/w 397 IPC but found him guilty for the offence under Section 341 and 304 (ii) IPC.

Property Dispute

Deceased Senthil had a property dispute with the family of one Ponnusamy.

Ponnusamy’s brothers Udayar and Jeyaraman; and one Sabarimalai surrounded the deceased was stabbed.

Mohideen Basha, Counsel for the appellant and Robinson, Government Advocate [Crl Side].

Decision

Bench noted certain lapses in the investigation of the present case.

High Court called the CD file to find out the manner in which the investigation was conducted.

Further, the Court stated that the investigation agency acted in a casual manner, so as to bury the truth and the real accused, who committed the brutal murder on a poor man escape from the clutches of law.

Hence, the appeal was allowed and the conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant were set aside.

Supreme Court’s decision in Popular Muthiah v. State, (2006) 7 SCC 296, was also cited.

The investigation must be unbiased, honest, just and in accordance with the law. The purpose of the investigation is to bring out the truth of the case before the Court of law.

In the present matter, it has been obliterated and the investigation has proceeded in a causal manner as to the whims and fancies of the investigation agency.

Court added that,

“1000 culprits can escape, but, one innocent person should not be punished.”

The available materials, in this case, expose the perfunctory and designed investigation and therefore, this Court is left with no other option except to interfere with the judgment of conviction passed by the trial Court.

A Crime is a public wrong, which involves the public rights of the community as a whole and also harmful to the society in general.

Criminal Justice System

It was also stated that the responsibility of the investigation agency in the criminal justice system plays a major role and they are, in fact, the kingpins in the criminal investigation system.

We are taking pride that the Tamil Nadu State Police is one of the best investigation agencies in the World and it is because of the exemplary service rendered by our police officers.

We cannot allow this reputation of the agency to be eroded by some irresponsible officers.

— Madras High Court

Further, the High Court also observed that the Tamil Nadu Police Reforms Act was enacted in the year 2013, yet it has not been implemented in letter and spirit.

Investigation

An investigation is not a mechanical work, which can be conducted in a casual manner, it requires expertise, knowledge and technical skills to collect the materials, which could unearth the truth.

Concluding the decision, Court stated that the accused can be declared innocents and can be set at liberty, either on the merits of the case or on the lapses committed by the Department. If it is on the lapses committed by the Department, steps should be taken on the side of the Department to avoid the same.

An innocent person does not deserve to suffer the turmoil of long drawn litigation, spanning over a decade or more.

Court placed certain queries for the State and DGP to give their response which are as follows:

i) How the investigation officers are equipped with the knowledge and expertise in conducting a criminal investigation and how it is ensured by the superior officials?

ii) Whether any disciplinary proceedings have been initiated as against the officials, who are responsible for acquittal because of their perfunctory investigation?

iii) How the superior officers, namely, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Additional Superintendent of Police, Superintendent of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police and Inspector General of Police are monitoring the investigation?

iv) In the case of lapses in the investigation, whether the investigation officer alone is responsible or the higher officials, who are expected to monitor the investigation, are also responsible?

v) The steps taken by the Government in fully implementing the decision of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 1 and the Tamil Nadu Police Reforms Act, 2013, in letter and spirit, in all the police stations.

vi) The steps taken by the Government in implementing the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Gujarat v. Kishanbhai, (2014) 5 SCC 108.

vii) The steps taken by the Government and the Department, to implement the amendments made to Sections 161, 164 and 275 CrPC?

viii) The steps taken by the Government and the Department, to implement the amendments to Sections 161, 164 and 275 CrPC, pursuant to the direction of the Division Bench of this Court in Satheesh Kumar’s case (supra).

ix) Whether the Circulars issued by the Director-General of Police then and there are strictly complied with? In the event of non-compliance, whether any disciplinary proceedings are contemplated against them and if so, the details thereof.

x) Whether the circulars issued by the Director-General of Police are readily available in all the police stations, in the form of a manual and whether they are available in the common platform, such as websites, so that, it can be accessed by the general public?

xi) The existing mechanism to enhance the quality of investigation among the investigation officers and the ways and means to enhance the same as to the present-day scientific advancements.

xii) The possibility of issuing a checklist including the steps to be carried out by the investigation officers, step by step, depending upon the nature of crime and the applicability and training using advanced scientific techniques, like fixing the accused using call details and tower location, etc., and how such collected details be marked/produced before the Court.

xiii) Why not compensation of Rs 10,00,000 be awarded to the victim in this case, who suffered because of the perfunctory investigation, which could be recovered from the investigation officers, namely, PW 12, Thiru N. Muthukumar; and PW 14, Thiru Poun and the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sivagangai concerned?

xiv) The Secretary to Government, Home, Excise and Prohibition Department; and the Director-General of Police, Chennai, shall give their comments/proposal as to the present case and the further course of action, if any, in view of the fact that ten years have lapsed since the commission of offence.

xv) Ways and means to address the issue raised & to effectively overcome the same.

xvi) Any other suggestions to avoid the acquittals due to such perfunctory investigations, in future, so as to regain the losing glory of the Department.

The present matter listed for 22-09-2020. [Balamurugan v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2165, decided on 08-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: S.M. Subramaniam, J., while determining the compensation in the cases of accident, observed that,

“…job of Homemaker can never be compared with employee or employment and the importance and the values are also to be considered by the Courts, while assessing the compensation.”

Claimant who is the appellant has sought enhancement of compensation in the present appeal.

Claimant sought who sustained grievous injuries resulted in permanent disability.  A Bus had hit the appellant/claimant when she was standing near the bus stand to catch a bus, causing her grievous injuries in the back along with other serious injuries.

Permanent Disability

Perusal of the nature of injuries revealed that the appellant/ claimant sustained not only grievous injuries but resulted in permanent disability and she is continuously taking treatment for that.

Tribunal concluded that due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver, the grievous injuries were caused to the appellant.

A monthly income of the appellant was fixed as Rs 4,500 ad accordingly a sum of Rs 4, 86, 000 was granted towards loss of income by the Tribunal.

Analysis & Decision

Court noted that the appellant/claimant is unable to support the family and the husband and children have to take care of her. Undoubtedly, no document has been produced to establish employment as well as the income of the appellant/claimant.

 “…as a woman at home is the Homemaker and for this purpose, the fixation of income for grant of compensation, assessment can be made considering the appellant/claimant as to the Homemaker.”

It happens the claimants are advised either by the relatives, friends, or counsels to say as if they are employed and earning and in order to get compensation, the claimants are ill-advised to provide such facts before the Tribunal in their claim petitions.

In the present matter, there is no dispute between the parties that the appellant is a Homemaker with husband and children. Thus, the tribunal ought to have drawn factual inference in the absence of any material to establish employment and income.

High Court found the amount of compensation fixed to be inadequate and improper.

Bench also emphasized on the importance of “Homemakers”. Thus, the importance, value as well as the materialistic factors are to be considered, while fixing the compensation as far as the Homemakers are concerned.

Keeping in view the amount of fairness to be adopted in the cases of Homemakers, we cannot forget that the Homemakers are the Nation Builders.

If the Homemaker died, the impact would be unmeasurable and the family will become scattered. It would be very difficult to cope with the family.

Therefore, homemakers are standing on a higher pedestal than that of the earning member in a family. Thus, mitigating factors, family status, the income of the husband and other aspects are to be considered while fixing the compensation for Homemakers.

Bench stated that it has no hesitation in arriving at the conclusion that the permanent disability caused to the appellant/claimant would affect not only her family life but also a great loss to the entire family.

Tribunal has mechanically on the basis of proof for employment as well as income decided the compensation without taking the aspects in the right perspective.

Once the fact of an accident is established and the Insurance Policy Coverage is not disputed and negligence is decided, then the claimants are entitled to ‘Just Compensation’.

Enhancement of Compensation

Hence, it was held that the compensation of Rs 4,86,000 awarded by the Tribunal towards loss of income is to be modified. This apart, the compensation granted under the head of ‘Pain and Sufferings’ is also very less, which is to be enhanced as the appellant/claimant has suffered continuously, and therefore, the enhancement is to be granted to the appellant/claimant.

Total compensation of Rs 14,07,000 with an interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum is to be granted to the appellant/claimant. [Bhuvaneswari v. Mani, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2163, decided on 01-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: B.U. Debadwar, J., observed the difference between Sections 28 and 34 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 in determining the award to be granted to a person, in the absence of an exact date of possession.

Respondent–claimant was the exclusive owner in possession of the lands situated to village leet, Taluka Bhoom, Osmanabad.

Appellant-State acquired two lands for the Dokewadi Medium Project. Preliminary notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 was published on 13-04-1990. Possession of both the lands was also taken in the same year.

Award

On 31-12-1994, Special Land Acquisition Officer, after following due process, passed the award thereby determining the compensation at the rate of 15,000 per acre and separately awarded compensation as well.

Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act

Reference application was moved under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for enhancement of compensation after accepting the award under protest.

Civil Judge, Senior Division, Osmanabad allowed the reference partly and enhanced the compensation to Rs 30,000 per acre with statutory benefits.

Appellant–State preferred the present appeal on being aggrieved by the aforestated judgment and award passed by the Joint Civil Judge, Osmanabad and respondent — claimant filed a cross objection under Order 41 Rule 22 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Analysis and Decision

On perusal of the impugned Judgment, Court noted that Joint Civil Judge, Senior Division, Osmanabad treated the acquired lands as fertile ‘jirayat lands’ and awarded compensation at the rate of Rs 30,000 per acre.

The Joint Civil Judge appeared to have discarded the evidence of claimant on the aspect of nature of acquired land i.e. ‘bagayat land’, only for the reason that it is not supported by pleadings raised in reference application.

It is pertinent to note that State has awarded separate compensation of various trees, well and taal (dike) situated in acquired land, to the respondent – claimant.

When the appellant – State has awarded separate compensation of well, the question of denying the existence of well in acquired land does not arise.

Having regard to the area of land covered by sale instance proved by the respondent — claimant, area of lands under acquisition by owned by him, nature of acquired lands, i.e. seasonally irrigated lands, source of irrigation, Court held that the compensation determined by the reference Court is not adequate and just compensation.

Further, the Court added that the compensation needs to be raised to Rs 50,000 per acre from Rs 30,000 per acre. Hence, the respondent-claimant is entitled to compensation at the rate of Rs 50,000 per acre.

In the absence of the date of taking possession of lands under acquisition, it is difficult to know whether possession of lands under acquisition was taken prior to publication of the preliminary notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, or after the publication of the same.

Though it is clear that possession of acquired lands was taken prior to the passing of award i.e. prior to 31-12-1994.

Section 16 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 deals with the power to take possession. According to this provision, when the Collector has made an award and under Section 11 he may take the possession of the land, which shall thereupon absolutely vests in the Government, free from encumbrances.

Whereas, Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, speaks about special powers in case of urgency. According to this provision, in case of urgency, wherever appropriate Government directs the Collector, though no such award has been made, may, on expiration from 15 days from the publication of notice mentioned in Section 9 Sub-Section (1), take possession of any land needed for a public purpose. Such land shall thereupon vest absolutely in the Government free from encumbrances.

In the present matter, there is absolutely no evidence about taking possession of lands under acquisition by invoking special powers contemplated under Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

In view of the decision of State of Maharashtra v. Kailash Shiva Rangari,2016 SCC OnLine Bom 2236 the respondent-claimant would be entitled to interest under Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 from the date of passing of an award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 i.e. 31-12-1994 and not from 1990 when possession of acquired lands were taken.

Further, the Court added that the Section under which interest is awarded is neither mentioned in the body of the judgment nor in the operative part.

However, looking to the operative part in its entirety it appears that interest awarded in clause (4) is awarded either under Section 28 or Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and interest awarded in clause (6) is in the form of rental compensation.

Hence, the claimant is entitled to interest under both Sections of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 i.e. Section 28 and Section 34 and that has to be awarded from the date of award till realisation of the compensation amount.

Therefore, Joint Civil Judge in Clause 96 of the operative part of the impugned judgment committed a mistake in awarding rental compensation in the form of interest covered under Sections 28 and 34 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Court partly allowed the appeal and cross objection in the present matter. [State of Maharashtra v. Laxman, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 894, decided on 04-09-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal: A Division Bench of Justice Rajendra Menon (Chairperson) and Lt. Gen Phillip Campose (Member) A, allowed the application.

In the instant case, the respondents has prayed for revision of pension in accordance with the last rank held by him before retirement as a Junior Warrant Officer vide Government circular dated 09-02-2001 which states that ten months continuous service in the last rank is not required for grant of pension in such rank.

Counsel for the petitioners, Manoj Kumar Gupta has relied on the judgment titled Pramod Kumar Singh v. Union of India (O.A. 1166 of 2017) and Ashok Kumar Tanwar v. Union of India (O.A. of 882 of 2016) which waived on 10 months pension. He further submitted that pension cannot be deprived to an individual to a rank for which he has already rendered service and earned pension in the rank of JWO and is entitled for the same.

Counsel for the respondents, Avdhesh Kumar Singh submitted that holding the last rank before retirement for calculating pension has been dispensed with and the present calculation to give pension for the lower rank is financially beneficial.

After hearing both sides, the Tribunal relied on the judgment titled P. Gopalakrishnan v. Union of India (O.A. No. of 62 of 2014) and held that after going through various circulars presented it was found that the calculation made for the respondents was detrimental. He further observed that pension is a statutory right and the respondents cannot be denied the entitlement of the same. It was directed to recalculate the pension based on the relied judgment.

In view of the above, the application was allowed.[JWO Meghnath Majumdar v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine AFT 1601, decided on 05-08-2020]


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Attau Rahman Masoodi, J., allowed the appeal and modified the impugned order by applying the principle of res judicata.

The factual matrix of the case is such that the present appeal has arisen out of the judgment and award dated 16-02-2016 delivered by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) Lucknow in Claim Petition No. 275 of 2007 whereby compensation along with interest was awarded to the claimant who suffered serious eye injury. The accident involved two vehicles i.e., a truck and a car whereby the truck was insured by the appellant.

The correctness of the award is in question whereby the entire liability has been imposed on the appellant although the case was that of composite negligence and the tribunal ought to have considered the judgment delivered by MACT Gonda in the same matter. The appellant has also questioned the multiplier applied for calculation of the claim.

A plea of finality on the aspect of proportionate liability was advanced by the counsel for the appellant, Bhanu Prakash Dubey and Kartikey Dubey in the subsequent proceedings before MACT Lucknow on the basis of the judgment delivered by MACT Gonda. It was further submitted that since the judgment rendered in the earlier proceedings concerns the same accident, therefore, this issue too was liable to be decided in the manner already settled between the parties.

It was contended by Alka Dubey, counsel for the respondent that MACT Lucknow has not committed any error since it has exclusive jurisdiction and is not bound by Section 11 CPC.

The Court referred to Section 169 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and Rules 209, 215, 220 of U.P. Motor Vehicle Rules, 1998 while deliberating over the present matter and observed that that the MACT is obligated to frame the issues on which the right decision of the claim appears to depend.

The Court relied on the judgment titled Canara Bank v. N.G. Subbaraya Setty, (2018) 16 SCC 228 and held that the findings of MACT Lucknow are not justifiable as it should have considered the objections of the appellant and weighed the same in accordance with law. The principle of res judicata was applicable between the parties and the same should have been applied on the aspect of proportional liability of both the parties, accordant with the earlier judgment/award.

Thus, the Court modified the award rendered by MACT Lucknow by fixing the liability to pay compensation equally to both the appellant and respondent. With respect to the appellant’s contention regarding multiplier, the Court accepted the same and held that MACT Lucknow ought to have applied the multiplier as 16 based on the age of the claimant.

In view of the above, the impugned judgment/award was modified to the aforesaid extent and the appeal was accordingly disposed of. [New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Vikas Sethi, 2020 SCC OnLine All 921, decided on 31-07-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Coram of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice S.P. Wangdi (Judicial Member) and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member), while addressing a matter reiterated that,

There is no absolute right to extract groundwater for commercial purposes. If anyone is found extracting groundwater, it is per se a criminal offence under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Illegal Extraction of Groundwater

Tribunal sought a report from the State Pollution Control Board with regard to the allegation of illegal extraction of groundwater and discharge of polluted water with dyes and chemicals into the drain by the National Wollen and finishers.

State PCB filed a report wherein it was noted that Regional Director, CGWB, Chandigarh was directed to take action and levy environmental compensation on National Wollen and Finishers for extracting underground water without CGWA permission, as per the report of CPCB in-house Committee on Methodology of assessing Environmental Compensation and Action Plan for its utilization of Fund Assessed.

Further, the report also stated that the consent to establish under the Water Act and Air Act was granted on 03-09-2012.

In the Tribunal’s decision of Shailesh Singh v. Hotel Holiday Regency, OA No. 176 of 2015, it was held that,

“…groundwater extraction has to be regulated having regard to the safety of level of groundwater so that water bodies and e-flow of rivers is not affected.”

There is no absolute right to extract ground water for commercial purpose. If anyone is found extracting ground water, it is per se a criminal offence under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Hence, the tribunal held that National Wollen and Finishers has been found to be extracting groundwater, therefore, State PCB must stop such extraction by coercive means and recover compensation for such illegal drawal for the period for which such drawal took place up to five years from the date of filing of the application before this Tribunal.

Adding to its decision, the tribunal also stated that, there is also a violation of Consent terms under the Water and Air Acts which can certainly be enforced by the PCB, in view of the failure of CGWB to take action.

In view of the above, the application was disposed of. [Raj Kumar Singal v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 220, decided on 05-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: C. Hari Shankar, J., addressed three different petitions between the same parties arising out of the award passed by Arbitral Tribunal, out of which, first petition was rejected, the second was passed and third stayed.

GMR and NHAI were under a concession agreement to build a six-lane, 555 km Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad Highway, which was terminated by GMR on the ground that there had been a “change in law”, during the period of the agreement.

GMR claimed that it was entitled to compensation, under Clauses 41.1 and 41.3 of the Concession Agreement. The learned Arbitral Tribunal held that there was a “change in law” and that, GMR was entitled to compensation under Clauses 41.1 and 41.3. The majority award, however, permitted NHAI to take a fresh decision, on the claims of GMR, and assess the compensation to which it would be entitled. While the majority Award directed GMR to establish, before NHAI, its entitlement to compensation, under Clause 41.1 and 41.3 of the Concession Agreement, the dissenting Award(minority) opined that, instead of allowing NHAI to adjudicate thereon, the exercise ought to be delegated to an independent authority, such as a reputed firm of Chartered Accountants, or the like. The petitions, O.M.P. (COMM.) 426/2020, and O.M.P. (COMM.) 425/2020, were filed by NHAI and  GMR respectively and were preferred under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, to set aside the award by the Tribunal. O.M.P. (I) (COMM.) 92/2020, was filed by GMR under Section 9 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 essentially for the interim stay of operation of a letter demanding premium and, further, restraining GMR from taking any coercive steps, under the Concession Agreement.

NHAI claimed to be aggrieved by the decision, of the Arbitral Tribunal, holding GMR to be entitled to compensation, and contended, in its petition [O.M.P. (COMM.) 426/2020] that GMR was not entitled to any compensation on the ground of “change in law”. GMR challenged [in O.M.P. (COMM.) 425/2020] the majority Award, to the extent, it delegated the decision-making power, qua the claim, of GMR, to compensation, to NHAI. In other words, GMR sought to contend that the minority Award of Nayar, J., ought to be accepted.

The Court first decided the petition,O.M.P. (COMM.) 426/2020, and found the Arbitral Tribunal’s Judgment to be in order. Court found that the tribunal’s decision that change of circumstance did result in “change of law” under Clause 48 of the Concession Agreement, the claim of GMR had to be assessed under Clauses 48.1 and 48.3 and GMR had to establish the “financial burden” to claim this compensation.

Therefore, Court disposed of this petition. In O.M.P. (COMM.) 426/2020, the court sided with the minority judgment of the Arbitral tribunal and assigned a new arbitrator who would be taking up the task from where the learned Arbitral Tribunal passed its Award. The Court decided that the Sole Arbitrator would have a time of six months from the date of presentation GMR’s claims for compensation. Therefore, the petition was accepted. The remaining petition, O.M.P. (I) (COMM) 92/2020, was on the issue of the premium to be paid to NHAI, which was stayed by the court in the “the interests of justice”.  Therefore, the third petition stayed.[GMR Hyderabad Vijayawada Expressways (P) Ltd. v. NHAI, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 923, decided on 4-08-2020].

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Prem Narain (Presiding Member) upheld the State Commission’s order partly and confirmed that the promotional scheme by Mc Donalds — ‘Mc Donald’s Mein Khao Har Bar Prize Le Jao’  was an unfair trade practice.

Present revision petition was filed against the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s decision.

Facts

Complainant in the year 2005 had participated in OP’s widely published scheme ‘Mc Donald’s Mein Khao Har Bar Prize Le Jao’ by placing two separate orders worth Rs 81.

It was alleged that the complainant did not find any terms and conditions on the notice board of OP, instead found a leaflet of another scheme ‘McDonald’s Ghar Bulao Sab Lucky Ban Jao !’.

Further, on OP’s manager’s advice, complainant had sent two SMS on 8888 giving the coupon nos., for which Rs 3 per SMS were charged. 

In view of the above stated facts, complainant alleged that OP indulged into unfair trade practices by not giving the assured prizes as per the scheme.

Moreover, the details of the entire scheme with terms and conditions and the result of the winners were also concealed from the participating customers, therefore, the complainant filed a consumer complaint before the District Forum praying to declare the scheme as unfair trade practice and a direction was sought against OP to disclose the entire scheme, winners of the prizes.

Refund of the amount collected in lieu of premium SMS charges levied as well as refund of Rs 81 and Rs 6 for SMS with cost and compensation was also demanded.

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum had awarded Rs 10,000 as compensation and Rs 2000 as cost to the complainant.

Aggrieved by the above Order, complainant filed the present revision petition.

Decision

Bench stated that the scheme was run by the OP to promote the sale of products of the OP by giving various offers to consumers of the OP.

Supreme Court decision of Lourdes Society Snehanjali Girls Hostel v. H&R Johnson (India) Ltd. , (2016) 8 SCC 286, was also cited, wherein it was held that,

“The National Commission has to exercise the jurisdiction vested in it only if the State Commission or the District Forum has either failed to exercise their jurisdiction or exercised when the same was not vested in them or exceeded their jurisdiction by acting illegally or with material irregularity. In the instant case, the National Commission has certainly exceeded its jurisdiction by setting aside the concurrent finding of fact recorded in the order passed by the State Commission which is based upon valid and cogent reasons.”

Complainant failed to file any proof with regard to the collection of SMS charges by the OP or OP’s agreement with the Telecom Company/Service provider on sharing of SMS charges.

“It can only be presumed that the OP facilitating income of the Telecom Company/ service provider by encouraging the customers of Telecom company/ service provider to make use of the services of commercial SMS, will definitely get some benefits out of the increased earnings of the Telecom company/ service provider.”

However, the Commission stated that without any proof of the above stated, State Commission’s award to the complainant cannot be sustained.

Another observation in view of the facts stated, OP’s scheme was unfair trade practice as established by the fora below and hence complainant and other customers subjected to the same scheme need relief.

While partly allowing the revision petition, Commission allowed compensation of Rs 30,000 to be paid to the complainant and an amount of Rs 70,000 to be deposited with Consumer Welfare Fund. [Connaught Plaza Restaurants Ltd. v. Kapil Mitra, Revision Petition No. 2731 of 2016, decided on 04-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal(NGT) : The coram of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson and Justice S.P. Wangdi, Judicial Member and Dr Nagin Nanda, Expert Member, dismissed the application for modification of the order of tribunal and ordered the party to make the deposit payment immediately.

On 3-06-2020, the chemical factory of Yashyashvi Rasayan Pvt. Ltd. encountered a massive blast when a fire lit up in the storage tank of the factory. Eight workers were killed and at least 50 injured. About 4800 inhabitants of the nearby villages had to be moved to safer place on account of the incident. An NGO from Surat, Aryavart Foundation, filed an application against the company before NGT, where the tribunal assessed the total amount to be Rs 25 Crores on account of compensation to the families of the dead victims, injured victims and the ones who had to be displaced. The company moved to the Supreme Court against the order of the tribunal. The Supreme Court, on 22-06-2020, after hearing both the sides, decided that company should approach NGT for modification of order and gave the company 10 days to make the payments omitting the charges for displaced persons as they had to be further decided.

The main ground for seeking modification of order of the Tribunal was that the persons displaced were brought back to their homes on the very same day, no damage was caused to their person or property and there was no permanent migration. Therefore, the company’s prayer was to recall direction to pay the remaining amount of Rs 22.075 crores.

Bench decided that they did not find any merit in the prayer of the applicant. According to them, the impugned order was passed after preliminary verification of facts and after notice to the applicant and not just media report alone. Further, on the issue of displacement, the bench laid emphasis on the impact which the blast had made on the environment and the people whose faced the trauma said, “Displacement was at large scale creating anxiety, fear, trauma, and misery. Some families may have minor children or senior citizens, females who certainly are bound to greatly suffer by such large scale and sudden displacement from their houses. Exact damage is to be fully ascertained but even as per conservative estimate, the amount of compensation of Rs 25,000/- to each displaced person cannot, in our view, be held to be excessive, even on further consideration. There is no golden scale to measure such loss and a reasonable estimate has to be the basis.” On the gravity of compensation to be paid within prescribed time, the tribunal emphasised ,“It is against interest of justice to further delay deposit and disbursement of the amount to the victims of the tragedy as almost two months have passed from the date of the incident.” Therefore, the court dismissed the application for modification.[Aryavart Foundation v. Yashashvi Rasayan (P) Ltd.  ,I.A. No. 237 of 2020, decided on 30-07-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice S. P. Wangdi (Judicial Member) and Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal (Expert Member), reaffirmed the decision passed by the tribunal in the case of LG Polymer Chemical Plant, In Re,  2020 SCC OnLine NGT 129, which observed that safety of citizens and the environment are of great concern calling for strict action against failure at all levels and for strengthening the regulatory mechanism, holding Oil India Limited liable under the principle of absolute liability to pay compensation of Rs 25 crores for the oil well blow-out in Assam.

Background

The issue pertains to a claim for compensation to the victims and to the environment on account of damage in an incident of oil well blow-out on 27-05-2020 at Baghjan in the Tinsukia District of Assam. The oil well released propane, methane, propylene which caused great damage to flora and fauna present around and also spread into the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park which is a home to a huge population of wildlife in it. It also affected the people living around the area as 1610 families were displaced due to the gas leak.

Issue

Whether the direction of the Tribunal in its earlier order for compensation of Rs 25 Crores to District Magistrate by Oil India Limited is required or not?

Decision

  • The Tribunal committee ordered for immediate deposit of Rs 25 crore to the District Magistrate to meet the liability for compensation to the victims and the cost of restoration of the environment.
  • On the issue of the other funds set up by Oil India Limited for the rehabilitation of the victims and restitution of the environment, the committee decided that “it is not a substitute for the information sought to be gathered by this Tribunal for exercise of its jurisdiction which is sui generis”. It decided that liability of Oil India Limited to pay compensation is absolute, relying on the judgement of MC Mehta v. UOI, (1987) 1 SCC 395. Tribunal primarily relied on the decision of    LG Polymer Chemical Plant, In Re, 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 129 which was similar to the current incident and has been discussed above.
  • The committee in its order, while acknowledging the relief funds made by Oil laid emphasis on the fact that the company is still bound to pay compensation to the State. [Bonani Kakkar v. Oil India Limited, I.A. No. 30 of 2020, decided on 02-07-2020]
Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking note of the fact that several Tribunals and High Courts have been awarding compensation for both loss of consortium and loss of love and affection, the bench directed the Tribunals and High Courts to award compensation for loss of consortium, which is a legitimate conventional head.

“There is no justification to award compensation towards loss of love and affection as a separate head.”

The 3-judge bench of SA Nazeer, Indu Malhotra and Aniruddha Bose, JJ was hearing an issue relating to determination of compensation in a motor vehicle accident case.

On Loss of Consortium

The Constitution Bench in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, has recognized only three conventional heads under which compensation can be awarded viz. loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses.

Explaining the law on loss of consortium, the Court said that the right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace and affection of the deceased, which is a loss to his family. With respect to a spouse, it would include sexual relations with the deceased spouse. Parental consortium is granted to the child upon the premature death of a parent, for loss of parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and training. Filial consortium is the right of the parents to compensation in the case of an accidental death of a child.

The Court noticed that in Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram, (2018) 18 SCC 130, this Court gave a comprehensive interpretation to consortium to include spousal consortium, parental consortium, as well as filial consortium. Loss of love and affection is comprehended in loss of consortium.

The Court, hence, said that it was necessary to provide uniformity with respect to the grant of consortium, and loss of love and affection.

On Future Prospects

In the wake of increased inflation, rising consumer prices, and general standards of living, future prospects have to be taken into consideration, not only with respect to the status or educational qualifications of the deceased, but also other relevant factors such as higher salaries and perks which are being offered by private companies these days. The dearness allowance and perks from which the family would have derived monthly benefit, are required to be taken into consideration for determining the loss of dependency.

The Court, further, reiterated:

  • The age of the deceased should be the basis for applying the multiplier.
  • Reasonable figures on conventional heads, namely, loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses should be Rs. 15,000/-, Rs. 40,000/- and Rs. 15,000/- respectively. The aforesaid amounts should be enhanced at the rate of 10% in every three years.
  • The decision in Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation, (2009) 6 SCC 121, is to be relied upon for determination of the multiplicand, the deduction for personal and living expenses, and the selection of multiplier.

[United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Satinder Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 410 , decided on 30.06.2020]


Also read:

Future income of salaried or self-employed person to be considered while computing compensation under MV Act

Court duty-bound to provide ‘just compensation’ under MV Act irrespective of plea; compensation for ‘loss of consortium’ awarded under Article 142

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, CJ and Vishwajith Shetty, J., laid down the guidelines to be followed for payment of dues to the claimants in Motor Vehicle Accident Claim cases, Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 Matrimonial Cases and Land Acquisition Compensation cases etc.

Due to the partial functioning of the district and trial Courts in the State in view of the COVID-19 Pandemic, entry of litigants in the Courts premises has not been permitted.

The above has resulted in large number of litigants and especially the claimants and victims in Motor Vehicle Accident Claim cases, claimants under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 and claimants in Land Acquisition Compensation cases etc., to not being able to receive the amounts to which they are legitimately entitled, though the amounts payable to them are lying deposited in the judicial accounts of Khajane-2 (for short ‘K-2’).

Thus, in view of the above it is necessary to evolve a procedure to securely release payments to the litigants.

Additional Advocate General submitted that recipients of payments from K-2 are required to file certain documents for recipients registration like UIDAI, PAN or authentic photo identity.

They must also disclose their bank account particulars. AAG further pointed that it would be ideal if the mandate form generated by K-2, which is prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India, is signed by the recipients, as the said mandate form contains all the account particulars of the recipients. 

Court stated that AAG was right in his submission that it is necessary to ensure that the amount should go to the real recipients.

After implementation of K-2, the payments from judicial deposits are done only by way of electronic clearing by transferring the amounts directly to the accounts of the claimants and the cheques are not being issued. In case of current deposits (deposits which have not lapsed), the payment is authorized by the Court by generating the bills on K-2.

As far as the mode of payment through judicial accounts in K-2 is concerned, there are no specific Rules in Chapter XXVII of the Karnataka Rules of Civil Practice, 1967. The only provision is that when an amount exceeding Rs 5,000 is payable to a party, it shall be paid by drawing an account payee cheque only. Thus, the embargo is on paying a sum exceeding Rs 5000 by cash.

At present, all the payments to litigants are being made by direct transfer to their bank accounts from K-2 and the earlier practice of issuing account payee cheques has been stopped.

Thus in the present COVID-19 times, following guidelines shall be adopted by the Courts for making payments:

  • litigant who is entitled to receive the amount shall file an application giving all the details including the details of the decree/order of the Court under which he/she is entitled to withdraw the amount;
  • Along with the application, he/she must furnish the copies of several documents such as first page of the bank passbook containing the details of the bank account, such as the name of the bank, account number, name of the account holder and IFSC code of the bank. If the first page of pass book does not contain photograph of the account holder, a certificate of the Manager of the concerned Bank bearing photograph of the account holder and containing account details shall be produced
  • account must be in the name of the person who is entitled to withdraw the amount as per the Court order;
  • applicant is also required to furnish copies of PAN card/form 16, address proof and photo copies of the authentic identification documents such as Aadhar or election/ voter identity card or driving licence. The photo copies of the documents shall be self-attested as well as attested as true copies by his/her Advocate, if the applicant is represented by an Advocate
  • an affidavit in support shall be filed by the applicant containing all the account details, which are necessary for transfer of money. latest photograph of the applicant shall be affixed near the signature on the affidavit. The affidavit must affirm the correctness of the documents produced along with the application. Along with the application and affidavit, the applicant shall submit a blank voucher for payment of judicial deposit duly signed by him. If there are more than one applicant, affidavits of all of them are necessary. The signature on the voucher shall be identified by an Advocate by affixing his/her signature below the words “signature of the claimant” or below the place for affixing the revenue stamp. Below the Advocate’s signature for identification, he/she shall mention the Bar Council enrolment number. Few copies of the blank vouchers shall be made available by the Principal District Judge to the Bar Associations so that the members of the Bar can take photo copies of the same. The affidavit in support of the application must contain the statement that the blank voucher is signed by the applicant;
  • applications shall be placed before the concerned Court for passing necessary orders
  • If the Court is satisfied on perusal of the application and the documents furnished, the Court will pass an order directing transfer of the amount to the specific account of the applicant through K-2 process;
  • Thereafter, the Court office/accounts section, after logging on K-2 portal, will generate bank mandate form. Print out of the bank mandate form shall be handed over to the Advocate for the applicant for obtaining the signature of the party and the Advocate concerned shall countersign the same by verifying the signature of the party. He/she shall mention his/her Bar Council enrolment number below his/her signature. Physical presence of the party in the Court for signing the mandate form is not required. The mandate form must be returned with the maximum period of three days. Thereafter, the mandate form shall be signed by DDO. Further steps shall be taken by the Court office for generation of miscellaneous bill. As the mandate form containing all the account details is signed by the applicant, his/her signature on the miscellaneous bill is not required. Subsequently, all the procedure required by K-2 shall be followed and the requisite amount will be transferred directly from the judicial account in K-2 to the bank account of the concerned party.
  • Courts cannot insist on the person receiving the money affixing his/her signature on any register.

In the event the applicants are not represented by an Advocate, the payments cannot be made unless the applicants personally appear in the Court.

In case of orders pertaining to payment of maintenance in matrimonial matters, it will be appropriate if the Courts concerned issue directions for payment of maintenance by way of RTGS or in any other mode of direct transfer by the person who is liable to pay the maintenance to the account of the person who is entitled to receive the maintenance.

Bench directed to all the Courts that they shall make an endeavor to dispose of the applications made for payment at the earliest and see that the eligible litigants can get the amounts at the earliest. The Courts cannot restrict the payments per day to a particular number of cases.

State Government is directed to ensure that quick access to K-2 is facilitated to enable the Courts to release the payment

Thus, the issue of making payment out of the judicial deposit during the limited functioning of the Courts during the pandemic of COVID-19 is answered in terms of this order. [High Court of Karnataka v. State of Karnataka, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 762 , decided on 24-06-2020]

Op EdsOP. ED.

I. Introduction

“Tort” is a wrongful act or an infringement of a right leading to legal liability for which civil courts award compensation. The law of Torts is an uncodified law which is based on equity, justice and good conscience.

In its incipient stage, the English legal system was haphazard and was conducted on a case-to-case basis. Judges were asked to travel in each relevant region to comprehend the local laws which had developed over two centuries. Subsequently, based on their findings, the English judiciary introduced and implemented the said laws, by way of judgments, into the English legal system, which are now called legal precedents. These precedents form a part of the Common Law system.

The law of torts in India is based on the principles of the English Common Law. However, it has been modified to meet the local requirements. Some of the important principles of torts include negligence, nuisance, trespass, vicarious liability, strict and absolute liability. In context of the present article, we shall focus upon the concepts of strict and absolute liability vis-à-vis the two notable industrial disasters in India.

a)  Doctrine of Strict Liability

The doctrine of “strict liability” evolved in  Fletcher v. Rylands[1]. In this case, Rylands hired contractors to build a reservoir on his land. While building it, the contractors discovered some flaws and left them unfixed. After some time, Rylands’s reservoir burst and flooded Fletcher’s adjoining mine causing £937 worth of damage.  Blackburn, J. opined that any person who for his own purposes brings on his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief, if it escapes must keep it at his peril and if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape[2].

b) Doctrine of Absolute Liability

The principle of “absolute liability” was first ever applied by the Supreme Court of India in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India [3](popularly known as Oleum gas leak case). In this case, oleum gas leaked from a fertilizer plant of Shriram Foods and Fertilizers, Delhi and caused damage to several people. A pending public interest litigation (PIL) by M.C. Mehta provided the opportunity to the Court to pass a series of orders dealing with the after-effects of gas leak. In this case, the Court disapproved the application of the principle of strict liability. The Supreme Court opined that:

an enterprise which is engaged in a hazardous or inherently dangerous industry which poses a potential threat to the health and safety of the persons working in the factory and residing in the surrounding areas owes an absolute and non-delegable duty to the community to ensure that no harm results to anyone on account of hazardous or inherently dangerous nature of the activity which it has undertaken. The enterprise must be held to be under an obligation to provide that the hazardous or inherently dangerous activity in which it is engaged must be conducted with the highest standards of safety and if any harm results on account of such activity, the enterprise must be absolutely liable to compensate for such harm and it should be no answer to the enterprise to say that it had taken all reasonable care and that the harm occurred without any negligence on its part.”[4]

II. Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Union Carbide India Limited’s (UCIL) plant at Bhopal was designed by its holding company Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA and was built in 1969 for making pesticides, produced by reacting Methyl Isocyanate and Alpha Naphthol. An incident of gas leak took place in the Bhopal pesticide plant of UCIL on the night of 2-3 December, 1984 causing severe loss to the lives of people in the vicinity. People were exposed to this gas all around the city and the immediate effects were coughing, vomiting, severe eye irritation and a feeling of suffocation. Thousands of people died immediately, and lakhs of people sustained permanent injuries.

The doctrine of “absolute liability” was invoked in this case. In cases, where absolute liability is considered, liability of the company can be fixed even if there is no negligence on the part of the accused company.

In addition to the aforesaid, the Indian Government filed a case in the US Court for a claim of $3.3 billon against Union Carbide Corporation. By 1986 all these litigations in the US District were transferred to India on the grounds of forum non conveniens.[5]

Meanwhile, the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985[6] was passed by Parliament  to confer certain powers on the Central Government to secure that claims arising out of, or connected with, the Bhopal gas leak disaster, are dealt with speedily, effectively, equitably and to the best advantage of the claimants and for matters incidental thereto. This Act made the Union Government representative of the victims of the tragedy and allowed them to file suits on their behalf. Along with this, an out of court settlement between the Government of India and Union Carbide was arrived at, which fixed the liability of the company to pay $470 million as per the full and final settlement of all claims, rights and liabilities arising out of that disaster. All in all, it was a bad move, as the settlement limited the liabilities for the claims which were filed later. It is a hard fact, but it is as clear as broad daylight that $470 million dollars were not sufficient to compensate all the injured. In fact, it is hardly 15% of the original claim of $3.3 billion.

The compensation awarded was around Rs. 1 lakh for the families of the people who lost their lives, Rs. 50,000 for permanently injured and Rs. 25,000 for temporarily injured.

III. Vizag Gas Tragedy

A similar incident of gas leak happened recently in Vishakhapatnam (Vizag), Andhra Pradesh on 7th May, 2020. Styrene gas leaked from the chemical plant owned by a South Korean company LG Polymers India Private Ltd. with similar repercussions on lives of the people living in the vicinity. The immediate worry was that this may be a repetition of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984. People in the neighbouring areas were evacuated immediately for preventing the damage. Even though this gas leakage was less dangerous than the leak at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, 13 people still lost their lives and many people were affected by it.

The Andhra Pradesh Government announced compensation of Rs. 1 Crore to the families of the people who had lost their lives, Rs. 10 Lakhs to the victims undergoing treatment on ventilators and Rs. 1 Lakh to the other victims who were hospitalised. It was made clear by the Government that the aforesaid compensation would be in addition to the compensation by LG Polymers.

Furthermore, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh took suo motu cognizance of the incident and  vide order dated 07-05-2020[7],  directed the State to take all necessary steps to mitigate the loss that may be caused due to this incident. Consequently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) also took suo motu cognizance of the incident and directed[8] the company to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crores with the District Magistrate, Visakhapatnam. The Civil Appeal[9] preferred against this Order before the Supreme Court has been kept pending. However the Supreme Court neither issued notice nor, did it interfere with impugned order of the NGT.

The National Green Tribunal invoked the principle of ‘strict liability’ against LG Polymers for adversely affecting the public health and environment through its failures. However, in our opinion, considering the facts and circumstances of the case of LG Polymers, it is evident that the nature of the substance used and the activities of both the companies (UCIL and LGPI) are similar in nature, and thereby, the principle of absolute liability should have been applied in this case too.

The company had submitted an affidavit to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority on 10th May, 2019 admitting that the unit did not have ‘environment clearance substantiating the produced quantity issued by the competent authority for continuing operations’ from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). That affidavit was transferred to the Centre by the State for consideration. The affidavit submitted by the company proves the fact that there was clear hobnobbing and negligence of the government officials who were involved and designated by the respective government departments to ensure compliance of the environmental laws, and thereafter issue commencement certificate. The affidavit also brings out the fact that LG Polymers did not have the requisite permissions and clearances right from the inception[10]. However, the chemical plant carried on the industrial activities without any mandatory clearance and the facts prove that the industry was even de-listed as it refused expansion as per the directions of the ministry, yet it carried on the production and the negligence of the authorities, both at the Centre and at the State, proved costly and thirteen precious lives were lost and it is historically proven since the Bhopal gas tragedy, such poisonous gases gets into the genes and affects future generations also.

In the instant case, the erring government officials should be taken to task immediately by the High Court and departmental inquiries should be initiated against such erring officials and it should be seen that the people responsible in our system along with the Directors of the Company, are awarded the maximum punishment for such deliberate negligent act, which claimed innocent lives. Only then, it can act as a deterrent for other erring officials and erring companies who act in such brazen defiance of the statutory norms. This incident proves the very fact that no matter how much we try, until and unless we raise our voice against corruption, innocent lives will continue to get sacrificed.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court in Poisonous gas leakage in Visakhapatnam v. State of Andhra Pradesh[11]  vide order dated 22-05-2020 issued the following directions: The Government was ordered to seize the company premises of the LG Polymers chemical plant, Vizag and the directors were not allowed to enter the premises. In addition to this, assets, fixture, machinery and contents were not allowed to be shifted without Court’s permission. The Directors of the Company were ordered to surrender their passports and hence, they were not allowed to leave the country without the Court’s permission.

IV. Conclusion

On an analysis of the given circumstances, it is proved that the management of the company (LG Polymers) did not comply with the necessary environmental laws which were necessary for a Grade-A chemical plant and the affidavit submitted on 10.5.2019 to the State Department is a blatant admission of the same. The chemical plant was functioning even after de-listing from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF). It restarted its functions without the clearance from MoEF and the requisite permissions and licenses. Moreover, the government department and officials concerned who were entrusted and empowered to give such clearances did not scrutinise the very fact that the Company was de-listed for non-compliance and the affidavit dated 10.05.2019 admits such default on the part of the company and yet the plant started its operations. This act is nothing but a glaring example of corruption and scant regard for the rules, regulations or the safety of people.

Furthermore, the Constitution of India ensures checks and balances on the part of executives and citizens of the country. The Directive Principles of State Policy in Part-IV of the Constitution ensure that the necessary safeguards should be taken for environmental protection[12] and even the Supreme Court in a catena of decisions, has interpreted the  right to clean environment as a facet of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The legislations pertaining to environmental law ensure that necessary prerequisites are in place.

The situation as it existed in 1986 has not changed much even after thirty-four years. The attitude of big companies seems to be of non-compliance and the government officials appear to be turning a blind eye to such companies at the cost of human lives. The law must ensure that such cases are treated with the utmost seriousness and urgency and that all the erring officials and directors of the company, should be punished appropriately so that justice prevails and a zero tolerance attitude is cemented for such cases.


*Partner, L&L Partners, New Delhi

**Senior Associate, L&L Partners

***Intern, L&L Partners

[1] (1866) LR 1 Ex 265.

[2] Fletcher v. Rylands , (1866) LR 1 Ex 265

[3] (1987) 1 SCC 395 

[4] M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (1987) 1 SCC 395

[5] Forum Non Conveniens is a doctrine which allows a Court with jurisdiction over a case to dismiss it because the convenience of the parties and the interest of justice would be better served if the case were brought in a court having proper jurisdiction in another venue.

[6] Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985 

[7] Poisonous gas leakage in Visakhapatnam, In re v. State of Andhra Pradesh, Suo Motu WP (PIL) No. 112 of 2020

[8] Gas Leak at LG Polymers Chemical Plant in RR Venkatapuram Village Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, In re., 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 128

NGT vide order dt. 1-6-2020 [Gas Leak at LG Polymers Chemical Plant in Vishakhapatnam, In re, 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 129] has since directed the appropriation of Rs 50 crores deposited by LG Polymers, towards part liability and interim compensation to be spent for restoration of environment and compensation for victims. 

[9] LG Polymers India Pvt. Ltd. v. Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Civil Appeal Diary No. 11327/2020, order dated 19-5-2020

[10]. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/lg-polymers-did-not-have-environmental-clearance-alleges-hrf/article31561365.ece

[11]. Suo Motu WPs (PIL) Nos. 112, 117 & 119 of 2020

[12]. Article 48-A of the Constitution of India, 1950 (inserted vide 42nd Amendment Act, 1976)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: Mohammad Rafiq, CJ while addressing a petition non-effectuated the Odisha Human Rights Commission’s Order of payment of an interim compensation for subjecting a tribal boy to brutal behaviour at Patna Police Station and the same to be recovered from petitioners salary.

Petitioner aggrieved by the Order of Odisha Human Rights Commission wherein Principal Secretary of Government, Home Department and Director General of Police, Odisha, Cuttack recommended to pay sum of Rs 10,000 as an interim compensation to the victim alleged to have been subjected to brutal behaviour by use of excessive force by a police officer at Patna Police Station in the District of Keonjhar, Odisha.

Victim who has subjected to brutal behaviour by police force was a tribal boy.

As per the visual shown in the electronic media, the victim was beaten up by baton and kicked by the police officer and at that point of time, a lady in civil dress was trying to take away the baton from the police officer. The incident took place inside the police station in presence of three to four persons.

Petitioner’s counsel had submitted that by an interim order, Commission had given a finding that was adverse to the petitioner and required an amount of interim compensation to be paid to the victim by the State and the same to be recovered from petitioners’ salary.

According to clause 26 of Odisha Human Rights Commission (Procedure) Regulations, 2003, the Commission may in its discretion afford a personal hearing to the petitioner or any other person on his behalf.

Had the Commission given the petitioner an opportunity to present her case, she would have explained her position to the Commission. But the Commission had passed ex parte order without an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner relying on an e-mail based on an unverified news paper report.

Decision of the Court

Even though, the order has been described recommendatory in nature, asking the Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department and the Director General of Police, Odisha, Cuttack to pay a sum of Rs. 10,000 as an interim compensation to the victim and recover the same from the salary of the petitioner, but in the opinion of this Court, the Commission considering the spirit of Clause-26 of the Regulation ought to have been heard the petitioner prior to passing such order as it is bound to affect service career of the petitioner who is a lady police officer serving as Inspector of Police.

One of the cardinal principles of natural justice that any order which is likely to adversely affect a person ought to be passed only after providing opportunity of hearing to the person concerned.

Thus, Court not interfering with the impugned order of the Commission directed the petitioner to submit an appropriate application before the Commission itself which is yet to make final recommendation and further directed that till such final recommendation of the Commission is made, in as far as that part of the impugned order, by which an amount of Rs 10,000 had been ordered to be recovered from the salary of the petitioner, shall not be given effect to.

Petition was disposed of in view of the above terms. [Sandhyarani Jena v. State of Odisha, WP (C) No. 12656 of 2020, decided on 28-05-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal: A 3-Member Bench of A.K. Goel, Chairperson, and Sheo Kumar Singh, Judicial Member, and Dr Nagin Nanda, Executive Member, held that it was well within NGT’s jurisdiction to pass the earlier order dated 8th May 2020 wherein it had directed LG Polymers (India) (P) Ltd. to forthwith deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crores with the District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam. The NGT had taken suo motu cognizance of the deadly gas leak in a factory owned by LG Polymers at Vishakhapatnam.

By the instant order, the NGT gave further directions which are summarised herein:

Directions

(i) The amount of Rs. 50 crores deposited by LG Polymers with the DM, Vishakhapatnam, will stand appropriated towards part liability and interim compensation to be spent for restoration of the environment and compensation for victims in accordance with the restoration plan to be prepared.

(ii) Restoration plan may be prepared by a Committee comprising 2 representatives each of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (“MoEF”) and Central Pollution Control Board (“CPCB”) and 3 representatives of the State Government to be named by the Chief Secretary, including the DM, Vishakhapatnam, within 2 months.

(iii) Final quantification of compensation may be assessed by a Committee comprising representatives of MoEF, CPCB and NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute). The said Committee will be at liberty to associate/co-opt any other expert institution or individual. The Secretary, MoEF may ensure constitution of such Committee within 2 weeks. The Committee may give its report within 2 months thereafter.

(iv) The Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh, may identify and take appropriate action against persons responsible for failure of law in permitting the Company to operate without statutory clearances within 2 months and give a report to the NGT.

(v) In view of the stand of the State Pollution Control Board and LG Polymers that it will not recommence its operation without requisite statutory clearances, NGT directed that if any such statutory clearances are granted and LG Polymers proposes to recommence, this aspect must be brought to the notice of the NGT so that compliance of law is ensured.

(vi) The MoEF may also constitute an Expert Committee to suggest ways and means to revamp monitoring mechanism to check and prevent violation of environmental norms and preventing any such recurrence in future in any of the establishments dealing with hazardous chemicals. A special drive may be initiated in this regard. An action taken report may be furnished within 3 months.

(vii) This order will not prejudice any criminal or other statutory proceedings in accordance with law.     

Timeline

The incident around which this whole issue revolves occurred in the wee hours of 7th May 2020 when reports started coming in that Styrene – a hazardous gas – has leaked from a chemical factory in R.R. Venkatpuram Village, Pendurthy Mandal, Vishakhapatnam. This resulted in the death of 11 persons (now 12) and hospitalisation of more than 100 people. More than 1000 people were reported sick. There was also damage to environment and habitat. The factory from which the gas leaked belonged to LG Polymers.

On 8th May 2020, the very next day, the National Green Tribunal initiated suo motu proceedings in the matter, and having regard to the prima facie material as to the loss of lives, public health and environment and liability of the Company engaged in inherently hazardous activity, directed the Company to forthwith deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crores with the District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam. BY this order, the NGT also constituted a 6-member Committee to visit the site of the incident and submit its report. 

Notably, as soon as the incident occurred, the Andhra Pradesh High Court too took suo motu cognizance of the matter and directed the State Government to constitute of committee of appropriate officers not below the rank of Principal Secretaries.

On 14th May 2020, LG Polymers approached the Supreme Court against the above order passed by the NGT. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for LG Polymers before the Supreme Court, challenged the constitution of the 6-member Committee by NGT. According to him, there was no occasion for NGT to appoint this further Committee when the High Court has already directed appointing of the Committee while taking suo motu cognizance. He also referred to some orders passed by the Supreme Court where the question whether the NGT could take suo motu cognizance of any matter was squarely in issue. While posting the matter for 8th June 2020, the Supreme Court gave liberty to LG Polymers to raise their contentions before the NGT.

Discussion

A. Suo motu jurisdiction

Rejecting the objection raised by LG Polymers to the taking of suo motu cognizance, the NGT noted that it has the purpose and power to provide relief and compensation to victims of environment damage, restitution of property, and restoration of environment. To effectuate this purpose, NGT has wide powers to devise its own procedure. In appropriate circumstances, this power includes the power to institute suo motu proceedings and not keep its hands tied in the face of drastic environmental damage and serious violation of right to life, public health and damage to property. This is especially so when the victims are marginalised and/or by reason of poverty or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position cannot approach the NGT. The power is coupled with duty to exercise such powers for achieving the enumerated objects. Failure to exercise suo motu jurisdiction in such circumstances would render these victims without remedy, causing irretrievable injustice and breakdown of Rule of Law.

It was stated:

If NGT were powerless to institute suo motu proceedings where so warranted, as in the present case, it would be robbed of all its efficacy, because then the situation would be that if environmental damage causes loss of life, public health and property, the court can grant relief only if the victims found the means to approach it first. Such limitation, to a large extent, would emasculate NGT’s raison d’etre, and render it nugatory and futile.

Referring to various provisions of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 and several decision of the Supreme Court including State of Meghalaya v. All Dimasa Students Union, (2019) 8 SCC 177; Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog v. Union of India, (2012) 8 SCC 326 and M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (1987) 1 SCC 395, the NGT observed:

If this Tribunal is prevented from instituting suo-motu proceedings, these issues and violations [serious issues of environment, including air, water, soil, and other life-threatening pollution] would remain unaddressed, citizens’ inalienable right to life and other rights will stand jeopardized, and the serious and irreversible environment damage would continue unchecked.

B. Pendency of proceedings before the High Court

As regards pendency of proceedings in the High Court and other fora, and the Committees appointed by the various fora, the NGT noted that there is no conflict on the core issue being considered by it, a specialised Tribunal, as per mandate of law in judgements of the Supreme Court. The NGT stated:

The fact remains that the specialised statutory jurisdiction to award compensation is conferred on this Tribunal, which also has all and wide powers, procedure and mechanisms to resolve and award appropriate relief and remedies. Our attention has not been drawn to any other committee or court going in to the issue of compensation and restitution to the victims to the environment. Only this Tribunal has required deposit of an amount to be used for compensation, to be disbursed under orders of this Tribunal. Even the Company has deposited the amount and cannot object to abide by further orders in this regard. Thus, without prejudice to any other proceedings, the Tribunal can perform and exercise its statutory jurisdiction.

C. Strict and absolute liability of LG Polymers

Considering all the material, the NGT found that LG Polymers has strict and absolute liability for the environmental damage and consequential loss including to life and public health in this case. The stand of MoEF and the State PCB is unequivocal that LG Polymers did not have the requisite Environment Clearance (“EC”). There is also clear violation of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989. Liability of LG Polymers is strict and absolute in the circumstances. The report of the Joint Committee constituted by the NGT filed on 28th May 2020 found LG Polymers liable. It opined that LG Polymers did not take proper care of the storage tank resulting in auto polymerization of styrene releasing excess heat which escaped from the goose-neck and dip hatch in the form of vapour. It is also mentioned that the unit was operating without the requisite EC. The State PCB had no clarity in the matter while granting the statutory consents without EC. This report is supported by clinching material consistent with the stand of the MoEF and State PCB.

D. Failure of Authorities and need for remedial measures

The NGT was of the view that further remedial action needs to be taken in the matter of bringing to justice erring officers of authorities in the State of Andhra and liability of the State or officers being further gone into. There is also need for rehabilitation plan utilising the interim and further compensation. Lastly, regulatory framework needs to be reviewed and strengthened, apart from identifying steps to ensure compliance of laid down safety norms and laying down further norms and procedure to avoid recurrence of such failures in future. The NGT said:

Safety of citizens and environment are of prime concern. Any economic or industrial activity, however necessary, has to be consistent with the safety of human beings and the environment. The damage to human life, human health and environment has to be restored by applying the ‘Sustainable Development’ principle, of which ‘Precautionary’ and ‘Polluter Pays’ principles are part. In this regard, significant role has to be played by the statutory authorities constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

In view of such discussion and findings, the NGT issued the further directions as mentioned hereinabove. The matter is directed to be listed for further consideration on 3rd November 2020. [Gas Leak at LG Polymers Chemical Plant in Vishakhapatnam, In re, 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 129 , decided on 1-6-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Navin Chawla, J., while addressing a petition with regard to an accident caused due to the non-illuminated and unmanned police barricades held that,

“While the respondents claims and it is accepted that placing of the barricades at various places in the city is for public good, at the same time, it casts a duty on the respondent 2 to ensure that they do not become a cause for accidents.”

Petitioner 1 a student of Delhi University had suffered a road accident as informed by a police constable to Petitioner 2.

An FIR was registered against petitioner 1 by respondent 2 under Sections 279 and 337 of Penal Code, 1860 for rash and negligent driving.

Though it is disputed that petitioner 1 suffered an accident after colliding with barricades . These barricades were chained to cordon off the road/street completely.

Petitioner 1 had tried to slip through the gap in between the barriers and owing to the speed at which the vehicle was travelling, he was unable to spot the chain linking the barricades.

It is further asserted that as no helmet or any protective gear of any sort was found at the site of the accident, the petitioner 1 was in violation of the provisions of Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

It is thus asserted that the accident occurred due to contributory negligence of petitioner 1.

Disputing the above stated, photographs of the site were placed on record from which it could be seen that the barricades were placed at a spot that they could not be visible from afar.

Bench Analysis and Decision

Clause 6 of the Standing Order for “Procurement, Maintenance, Repairs and Operational Usage of Delhi Police Mobile Barricades? mandates that all barricades must have necessary fluorescent paint as well as blinkers so that they are visible from a long distance.

Clause 10 of the Standing Order further mandates that the barricades, under no circumstances, should be left unmanned.

Bench observed that from the photographs placed in record that place where the barricades were kept was not properly lighted. It is not shown that the barricades had adequate reflectors or blinkers so as to make them visible from a long distance. They were also unmanned.

Further the bench added that, merely because no helmet was shown to have been recovered from the site, cannot lead to a conclusion that the petitioner 1 was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident or was driving his motorcycle at a high speed or rashly.

Thus, petitioners are held entitled to claim damages for negligence and failure of respondent 2 in discharging its duty.

A total compensation of Rs 75 lacs is found just and payable to the petitioners by the respondent 2. [Dheeraj Kumar v. Union of India, WP(C) No. 10799 of 2016, decided on 18-05-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Bench of UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar, and Vineet Saran, JJ., refused to interfere with the Order passed by National Green Tribunal with regard to the Vizag Gas Leak incident.

The petition was filed by LG Polymers challenging the NGT Order wherein LG Polymers was directed to pay a compensation of Rs 50 Crores and a five-member fact-finding committee to inquire into the incident was constituted.

Tribunal had issued notice to Andhra Pradesh State PCB, District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and LG Polymers India Private Limited.

A 5-Member committee was also constituted by the tribunal to seek detailed report on the incident.

Further, LG Polymers India Private Limited is directed to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 Crore with District Magistrate, Visakhapatnam.

Thus, the Court ordered the appellant to raise the concerns before the Tribunal and refused to stay its Order.


Also Read:

[Breaking] Vizag Gas Leak Incident | NGT |Leakage of hazardous gas at such a scale affects public health & environment, attracts principle of ‘Strict Liability’ against enterprise; LG Polymers directed to deposit Rs 50 Crore

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Division Bench of Dr S.M. Kantikar (Presiding Member) and Dinesh Singh (Member) while addressing the present first appeal held that,

“Releasing a dead body by a hospital to an unrelated third person unquestionably constitutes ‘deficiency in service’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(g) & (o) of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.”

The present first appeal was filed challenging the compensation amount granted by Kerala State Commission for alleged negligence and deficiency in service from Ernakulam Medical Centre (OP-1) that issued wrong dead body of a patient to some other claimant.

Facts pertinent to the case are that, deceased’s body was kept in the mortuary of the hospital, when deceased’s grandson along with his father came for the release of the same, it came as a surprise that the dead body was not of the deceased. Further, it came to light that, V.K. Ramesh (Pubic Relations Officer) of OP-1 had already released the body to immediate relatives of Lt. Col. A.P. Kanthi who had died a day after the deceased and the body released was cremated with religious rites. Relatives of Lt. Col. A.P. Kanthi admitted their mistake and sought apology and thereafter handed over the ashes of the deceased.

It was alleged that that such callous attitude of OPs in wrongly releasing the dead body of the father of the complainants deprived their right to decent cremation of deceased. Aggrieved with the stated a complaint was filed before Kerala State Commission.

OPs contended that it was neither unfair trade practice nor negligence nor deficiency of service on their part. Complaint cannot be maintainable as the claim raised by complainants was beyond the scope of Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Further the State Commission partly allowed the complaint by awarding Rs 25 lakhs as compensation. Aggrieved with the same, OPs filed the first appeal.

Commission in the above view held that, it was negligence and failure of duty of care by the PRO who without proper identification wrongly released the dead body of deceased. 

Commission also observed that,

“complaint is totally misconceived as 2 of the 4 children of the deceased person have attempted to make a fortune out of the mistake committed by a stranger who bonafidely claimed the body of their deceased father. The State Commission ought to have appreciated that it is trite law that awarding of compensation should be on the basis of cogent grounds.”

Concurring with State Commission’s view, bench stated that the point made by the complainants stands proved, i.e. release of the dead body of the complainants’ father to some other person, and thereby depriving the complainants of the last rites and cremation and final journey of the deceased, is decidedly deficiency in service within the meaning of Section 2(1)(g) & (o) of the Act 1986.

Thus, the compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the complainants would be just and equitable, and would meet the ends of justice. [Ernakulam Medical Centre v. Dr P.R. Jayasree, First Appeal No. 273 of 2017, decided on 12-03-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Redressal Commission (NCDRC): C. Vishwanath (Presiding Member) dismissed the revision petition filed by Tata Motors Limited against the West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Kolkata.

Case of the complainant was that he was allured by advertisement issued by petitioner to purchase a model of Tata Indigo-CS Car. In the advertisement issues by Tata Motors and Tata Motor Finance that the vehicle would give a mileage of 25 kmpl. Complainant brought to the notice of OPs the shortfall in mileage being given by the car.

Hence in the above view, the complaint was filed with District Forum.

Petitioner had denied all the allegations made by the complainant, apart from questioning the maintainability of the complaint, that there was no expert opinion, the ARAI certified mileage of 25 kmpl was not for the vehicle concerned and that the complainant was not the owner of the vehicle, as the same was hypothecated to the bank.

OP 2 had denied all the allegations and stated that the Complainant had bought the vehicle after a test drive and satisfying himself about the car. The shortfall in mileage was attributed to the rough handling of the car and the bad condition of the road.

District Forum directed OPs to refund the cost of vehicle, compensation and cost to the Complainant. Complainant was also directed to pay all the bank dues and make arrangements to return the vehicle.

Aggrieved by district forum’s order, OP-Tata Motors Ltd., filed an appeal before the State Commission and State Commission partly allowed the appeal. OPs were jointly and severally directed to pay punitive damages for taking recourse to deceptive trade practice by way of misleading advertisement.

Decision

Commission stated that both the fora below came to a concurrent finding that the OPs resorted to deceptive trade practice by alluring customers and promoting the sale of their cars. Advertisement also had not mentioned whether the mileage shown was for diesel or petrol car.

Thus, the Commission did not find any infirmity or illegality in the order passed by the fora below.

Jurisdiction of NCDRC under Section 21(b) was also found to be very limited. The commission in its opinion was not required to reassess or re-appreciate the evidence and substitute its opinion to the concurrent findings of fact by the fora below.

Relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in, Lourdes Society Snehanjali Girls Hostel v. H & R Johnson (India) Ltd., (2016) 8 SCC 286, wherein it was held that,

“The National Commission has to exercise the jurisdiction vested in it only if the State Commission or the District Forum has failed to exercise their jurisdiction or exercised when the same was not vested in their or exceeded their jurisdiction by acting illegally or with material irregularity. In the instant case, the National Commission has certainly exceeded its jurisdiction by setting aside the concurrent finding of fact recorded in the order passed by the State Commission which is based upon valid and cogent reasons.”

Therefore, in the above view, petitioner failed to point out any miscarriage of justice or that the findings were perverse. [Tata Motors Ltd. v. Pradipta Kundu, Revision Petition No. 2133 of 2015, decided on 02-03-2020]