Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Division Bench of Dr Ravi Ranjan, CJ and Sujit Narayan Prasad, J. addressed an appeal in which the daughter-in-law of a deceased employee of State-owned respondent company Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) sought for payment of family pension as well as other dues accrued to her mother-in-law after the death of her father-in-law.

In the present matter, the father-in-law of the appellant was an employee of the respondent company. When he died, the appellant’s mother-in-law, who was the nominee, and deceased employee’s son could not get a family pension as they both died. After their death, the appellant agitated her grievance for payment of dues. When asked to produce a succession certificate by the respondent company, she challenged it by way f filing a writ petition. The learned Single Judge dismissed the petition holding that since appellant herein was not the only legal heir upon whom the entire estate would devolve, she must obtain a succession certificate from a court of competent jurisdiction. Aggrieved thereby, the present appeal was filed.

The counsel for the appellant N.K.P. Sinha argued that the earlier writ petition was dismissed for want of impleading the other legal heirs whereas in the present case legal heirs have been brought on record but the court held that no such relief was ever sought in the writ petition filed by the writ petitioner previously. Also, the counsel contended that the daughter-in-law is entitled to receive the amount due to the absence of the original deceased employee.

The Court noted that Clause 64 of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Scheme states that the whole amount shall be payable to the person legally entitled to it and on the last proviso which further lays down that if the amount to be paid exceeds Rs 25,000 then no payment shall be made to a person unless he is in possession of succession certificate issued in his name by the competent court.

The counsel for the respondents further confirmed at the time of hearing that there is no other scheme available either today or at the time of the death of the member than the said scheme.

It was observed by the Court that there are other heirs of the deceased member upon whom the estate will devolve even as per the scheme as laid down under Clause 64 of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Scheme. Further, it was held that in such circumstances, this becomes a case of grant of succession certificate. Only upon the grant of succession certificate, one can come to the conclusion as to who would be entitled to receive the fund and in what share.

Thus, it was held by the Court that a succession certificate is important in this case. In view thereof, the appeal was dismissed for being bereft of merits. [Kamli Devi v. Central Coalfields Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1945, decided on 03-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This writ was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Sheel Nagu, J., in nature of mandamus. 

The grievance of petitioner was that their names were removed from the revenue record of certain agricultural lands which they claimed to be belonging to them by virtue of the operation of law. Petitioner contended that by virtue of The Kanoon Maal Gwalior, Samvat 1983, The United State of Gwalior, Indore & Malwa (Madhya Bharat) Revenue Administration & Ryotwari Land Revenue & Tenancy Act, Samvat 2007 and Madhya Bharat Zamindari Abolition Act, Samvat, 2008, the land belonged to them and they were Bhumiswami of the same. 

High Court viewed that claims of the petitioner had already been raised before the competent court under MPLRC and the revenue Court of SDO which is seized of the matter. Thus, the Court was of the view that it should not exercise its extraordinary writ jurisdiction as the same was filed without any grounds. Therefore, this petition was dismissed. [Bachchu  Singh v. State of M.P.,2018 SCC OnLine MP 919, decided on 13-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Hyderabad High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Gudiseva Shyam Prasad, J. dismissed a writ petition at the admission stage on account of it being misconceived.

The petitioner filed a writ petition seeking the relief in the nature of writ of mandamus under Article 226 of the Constitution of India over the protection and preservation of his title and possession over the land which was being interfered with by the defendants.

The defendant pressed upon the fact that instead of resorting to the present writ petition along with seeking police protection, the petitioners should have approached the court by way of execution petition.

The Court agreed with the submission of the defendants that it was a civil matter and if the petitioner needed police aid he should have had sought for the orders for the same. The police cannot interfere in any civil dispute unless directed by any competent court to its effect.

Accordingly, with regard to the misconceived writ petition, the matter stood closed. [Tirumala Siva Prasad v. State of A.P.,2018 SCC OnLine Hyd 262, order dated 17-04-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao, JJ defined the scope of the words ‘competent Court’ in Section 2(d) of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) and held that the meaning of the term is not restricted to Courts in Delhi and charge sheets filed in Courts in other States can be taken into account for the purpose of constituting continuing unlawful activity. It was also held that there cannot be a prosecution under MCOCA without an organised crime being committed within Delhi.

The Court was hearing the issue relating to conviction of the respondent who was involved in in committing unlawful activities along with other members of a crime syndicate since 1985 in an organized manner, apart from being involved in 20 cases of attempt to murder, murder, extortion, rioting, cheating, forgery and for offences under the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986. The competent criminal Courts in and outside Delhi had taken cognizance of 8 crimes. Considering the nature of the crimes committed by the respondent, it was deemed proper to invoke MCOCA.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the State of Delhi submitted before the Court that:

“organized crime is a serious threat to the society and that statement of objects and reasons have to be taken into account for interpretation of the provisions of the Act.”

He said that criminal cases in which cognizance was taken by Courts outside Delhi are relevant for the purpose of proceeding against the respondents under MCOCA. He added that organized crime is not restricted to territory within a State and a restrictive reading of the word ‘Competent Court’ would defeat the purpose for which the statute was enacted.

Respondent’s counsel, Senior Advocate UU Lalit, on the other hand, argued that MCOCA operates only within the territorial limits of National Capital Territory of Delhi and said:

“MCOCA is a special legislation which deals with organized crime and unless the essential ingredients of the offences under Sections 3 and 4 are made out, a case under the said statute cannot be registered.”

He further supported his argument by the fact that 6 out of 8 charge sheets filed against the respondents were filed in the State of Uttar Pradesh and had no nexus with the charge sheets filed in Delhi.

Agreeing with the arguments of the State, the Court said:

“Organised crime is not an activity restricted to a particular State which is apparent from a perusal of the Statement of Objects and Reasons. A restrictive reading of the words “competent Court” appearing in Section 2 (1)(d) of MCOCA will stultify the object of the Act.”

The Court further said that if members of an organised crime syndicate indulge in continuing unlawful activity across the country, it cannot by any stretch of imagination said, that there is no nexus between the charge sheets filed in Courts in States other than Delhi and the offence under MCOCA registered in Delhi.

The Court, however, agreed with the respondents on the argument that an activity of organized crime in Delhi is a sine qua non for registration of a crime under MCOCA. In the absence of an organized crime being committed in Delhi, the accused cannot be prosecuted on the basis of charge sheets filed outside Delhi. Noticing that there was no organised crime committed by the Respondents within the territory of Delhi, the Court held that there was no cause of action for initiation of proceedings under MCOCA in the present case and that the case should be heard by the competent court that has the territorial jurisdiction. [State of NCT of Delhi v. Brijesh Singh,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 1206, decided on 09.10.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Karnataka: In its recent judgment, a Single Bench of Ashok B. Hinchigeri & K.S. Mudagal, JJ. observed that “habeas corpus cannot be granted when a person has been committed to custody under an order from a competent court.”

The petitioner brought an appeal against his ex-wife for wrongfully detaining their daughter, after a consensual divorce order was passed by the Court of Maricopa and awarded joint legal decision-making regarding the child. The petitioner alleged that the respondent detained the child beyond the vacation schedule and since then he had denied access to the petitioner. The respondent submits to the Court that the Family Court has granted an interim order restraining the petitioner from interfering with the lives of the respondent and her daughter. She further submits that neither is India a signatory to the Hague Convention by which the orders of the American Court could be enforced against her, nor is the writ of the petitioner maintainable as per the Family Court’s order. In her defense, she claims that the petitioner had coerced her into submission to the jurisdiction of the American Court, and Section 13(c), (e) and (f) of the Code of Civil Procedure renders the American Court’s order inconclusive and not binding upon her.

The Court observed that the facts of judgments relied upon by the petitioner were different from those of the case present before it. The bench held that the writ is unavailable when a competent court of law, in pursuance of a subsisting order, has handed over the custody of the child to the mother. It further noted that the writ of habeas corpus cannot be maintained, and the Family Court was the competent court in this matter. [Sriram Sankaran v. State of Karnataka, Writ Petition No. 164 of 2016, decided on 29-05-2017]