Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: In a significant case where a widow whose husband died due to adverse effects of Covid-29 immunization had approached the Court seeking compensation for herself and her children, V.G. Arun, J., directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to formulate policy/guidelines for identifying cases of death due to after-effects of Covid-19 vaccination and for compensating the dependants of the victim. The Court remarked,

“Sitting in this jurisdiction, I have come across at least three cases where pleadings are to the effect that the person who had undergone Covid-19 immunization vaccination had succumbed to the after-effects of vaccination.”

On being informed by the Assistant Solicitor General that there is no policy of the Central government for compensating the victims of adverse events, following Covid-19 vaccination, the Court expressed,

“Even if the numbers are very few, there are instances where persons are suspected to have succumbed to the after-effects of immunization.”

Hence, opining that, in such circumstances, NDMA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Union of India are bound to formulate a policy for identifying such cases and compensating the dependants of the victim, the Court directed NDMA to formulate policy/guidelines for identifying cases of death due to the after-effects of Covid-19 vaccination and for compensating the dependants of the victim.

The Court emphasized that the needful in this regard shall be done as expeditiously as possible and at any rate, within three months. The matter is posted after three months.

[Sayeeda K.A. v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 4514, decided on 01-09-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

M/S. Prabhu K.N. & Manumon A., Advocates, for the Petitioner;

Assistant Solicitor General, for the Union of India.


*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case alleging death of two young girls due to side-effect of Covishield, the Division Bench comprising Dinesh Maheshwari and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., issued notice to the respondents including Central Government and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, and the Indian Council of Medical Research.  

The petitioner submitted that her 18-years-old daughter received first dose of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine on 29-05-2021 and lost her life on 19-06-2021. Similarly, 20-years-old daughter of petitioner 2 received the first dose of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine on 18-06-2021 and she lost her life on 10-07-2021. Both the petitioners alleged that after vaccination, the deceased girls suffered from severe Adverse Effects Following Immunization (AEFI).  

Though the petitioners had made representations to the authorities concerned, it had not been adequately replied and the only response from Senior Manager, Clinical Research and Pharmacovigilance Department, Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd., Pune was: 

  • “The Covid-19 infection was considered as the cause of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome;  
  • That Covishield does not contain SARSCoV-2 virus and cannot cause Covid-19 infection; and  
  • That vaccine is not known to cause Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.” 

Hence, the petitioners have prayed for the issuance of a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order, or direction appointing an expert medical board, independent of the Government, to forthwith inquire into and investigate the deaths of the daughters of petitioners, and to share the report of the autopsy and investigation with the petitioners in a time-bound manner. Further, the petitioners have also prayed for a direction to the above-appointed expert medical board to prepare a protocol for early detection of and timely treatment for the AEFI due to the Covid-19 vaccine such as the ones that led to the deaths of the daughters of petitioners.  

The petitioners also sought for appropriate order directing the Respondents to grant significant monetary compensation to the petitioners, which will be donated to organizations working on social issues.  

The Court opined that though it is appropriate to relegate the petitioners to the appropriate regular remedies in such cases, because the matter might involve the determination of certain basic questions of fact so as to bring it within the four corners of a case of medical negligence, however, having regard to the post-mortem report filed with the additional documents, the submissions that the Government has not responded to the petitioners’ representations, and the nature of reliefs claimed, the Court issued notice to the respondents to file a reply.  

[Rachana Gangu v. Union of India, W.P. (C) No(s). 1220 of 2021, decided on 29-08-2022]  

Appearance: 

For Petitioner(s): Colin Gonsalves, Sr. Advocate, Hetvi Patel, Advocate, and Satya Mitra, AOR 

*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.  

Tags: 

Slug: Covishield-death-by-side-effect-serum-institute-supreme-court-issues-notice-legal-news-legal-updates-pandemic  

Madhya Pradesh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Sanjay Dwivedi, J. dismissed a revision petition filed questioning the validity of the order passed by the Sessions Judge whereby the charge had been framed against the applicant by the trial Court under Sections 294, 333, 353, 307, 302 of IPC and under Section 25-1(B)(B) of Arms Act, 1959.

As per the facts of the case, after registration of FIR, the injured got hospitalized and was given treatment in Govt. Hospital in which the Medico-Legal Certificate (MLC) was prepared showing that the complainant/injured had received an incised wound which was opined as simple injury. The injured was later on discharged from hospital on the same day, i.e. 07.08.2021 because the injury sustained by him was neither grievous in nature nor dangerous to life. Case against the applicant was under Sections 294, 333, 353 and 307 of IPC. Later, on 20-08-2021 when the injured died then the offence of 302 was also added.

The Counsel of the applicant submitted that the applicant was granted bail considering the fact that the injury was simple and that the injured died of septicaemia on 20-08-2021. He submitted that offence of 302 of IPC was not made out as it was due to negligence on the part of the doctors as they had not properly treated the injured and medication was not up to the mark. It was further contended that the Trial Court did not appreciate the facts in appropriate manner and observed that the cause of death was related to the injury sustained and caused by the present applicant.

Panel Lawyer appearing for the respondent/State submitted that the cause of death shown by the doctor is septicaemia which admittedly got developed in an injury caused by the present applicant and as such, offence under Section 307 has rightly been converted into Section 302 of IPC.

The Court was of the opinion that at this stage it is very difficult to form an opinion even by the trial Court at the time of framing of charge that the cause of death was not directly related with the injury caused by the applicant. The Court believed that if the charge of Section 302 has been added at the time of framing of charge on the basis of opinion given in the MLC, the same can be altered only after examination of the doctor who had given opinion.

The Court stated that at this stage, trial Court cannot indulge in critical evolution of evidence, that can be done at the time of final appreciation of evidence after conclusion of trial.

The Court while dismissing the appeal held that the Trial Court did nothing wrong because it can very well form an opinion at the time of trial or after conclusion of trial whether offence under Section 302 is made out or not. The Court further noted what was said in Veerla Satyanarayana v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2009) 16 SCC 316 wherein the Supreme Court has held that if death is caused due to septicaemia, offence under Section 302 of IPC is rightly made out. Thus, the Court was also of the opinion that the order passed by the trial Court does not suffer from any patent or material irregularity and at this stage, it is not proper for this Court to interfere in the same or to form an opinion that the offence under Section 302 is not made out against the applicant.

[Harsh Meena v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine MP 1971, decided on 17-08-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Sankalp Kochar, Bhavil Pandey, Advocates, for the Applicant;

Prakash Gupta, Advocate, for the Respondent.


*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Farjand Ali, J. dismissed the bail application of petitioner being accused of honour killing and observed that the investigating agency had left some facts unattended.

The facts of the case are such that the FIR was registered at the instance of the complainant  who is the father of the deceased . The complainant stated that he is a resident of bundi and from last one and a half years his son was  living in Kota. The dead body of his son was observed in “Barda of Jakhmund”. The petitioners were apprehended and were sent to judicial custody after investigation. The present bail application(s) was preferred by accused petitioners who are in judicial custody for the offences punishable under Sections 302, 201, 120- B and 364 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Counsel for the State relied on autopsy report, the last location of the deceased in the company of accused persons, death threats reported by the deceased on numerous occasions, CCTV footage as well as call details to oppose the present bail application.

The Court observed that the instant case has its own peculiar facts which are circumstantially diffusing smell of intent-full homicidal death on account of honour and prestige i.e., having a strong trait of honour killing.

The Court also observed that the substratum of the present case predominantly based upon circumstantial evidence, as no direct evidence or eye-witness is at stand-by for the same. More so, this Court is very well aware of the fact that the present case of the accused petitioner(s) is to be dealt to the extent of adjudication on the issue of bail only. Thus, the appreciation and meticulous evaluation of the facts and circumstances are not ordinarily warranted.

The exercising of judicial discretion as well as invoking the sense for exercising judicial discretion lies with the Court. In order to reach a plausible conclusion, over an issue placed before it, the character of such relevant facts and circumstances of the case are important. As the character of relevant facts and circumstances tends to display two probable sides of an issue; there the judicial discretion recognizes that side of an issue which is closer and more pregnant with sound legal traits based upon the parameters of Rule of Law. Thus, there is a fine distinction in between final hearing on merits and hearing a bail plea under section 439 CrPC.

The Court further noted that that there is no straight jacket formula for grant and dismissal of a bail but guiding by the judicial pronouncements on the issue of bail, it is clear that every case has its own peculiar facts and circumstance attached to it.

The Court observed that after perusing the charge-sheet, the chain of events tentatively showing a well-designed conspiracy and the complicity of every accused person is very much available on record.

The Court thus held the present case is not a fit case for extending bail to the accused petitioners at this stage. Resultantly, both the bail applications filed by the accused (s)are hereby dismissed.

[Bhim Saini v. State of Rajasthan, 2022 SCC OnLine Raj 992, decided on June 10, 2022] 

  

Appearances 

For Petitioner(s): Mr. A.K. Gupta and Mr. Aniket Sharma, Mr. Anil Upman 

For Respondent(s): Mr. Ghanshyam Singh, Mr. Mangal Singh Saini, Mr. R.P. Vijay Mr. Digvijay Singh 


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of M.R. Shah B.V. Nagarathna*, JJ., cancelled the bail order of the High Court against the person accused of killing a person with 54% disability by pinning him to the ground and throttling his neck. Finding the order of the High Court cryptic and casual, de hors coherent reasoning, the Bench invoked the latin maxim “cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex” to hold that “reason is the soul of the law, and when the reason of any particular law ceases, so does the law itself”.

Factual Matrix

The appellant, son of the deceased had assailed the impugned order of the High Court, whereby the respondent-accused was granted bail. The said order was impugned by the appellant on the following grounds:

  1. a) The allegation against the respondent-accused was under section 302 of the IPC with regard to the murder of the deceased Ram Swaroop Khokhar, the father of the informant-appellant who was a disabled person. Thus, the offence alleged against the respondent-accused was of a grave nature.
  2. b) The deceased had been elected in 2015 as the Deputy Sarpanch of Mandha Bhopawaspachar village despite opposition from the accused and his family. Therefore, owing to such political enmity, the accused overpowered the deceased who was suffering from 54% permanent physical impairment of both his legs, pinned him to the ground, sat on him and throttled his neck. As per the post-mortem report, the cause of death was ante-mortem strangulation.
  3. c) That the respondent-accused was a person exercising significant political influence due to which there was great difficulty in registering the FIR against him. Moreover, the accused was arrested only following a protest outside a police station demanding his arrest. Thus, the possibility of the accused threatening or otherwise influencing the witnesses, if on bail, could not be ruled out.
  4. d) That the respondent-accused had earlier preferred applications seeking bail, under section 437 of the CrPC on two occasions and again under section 439 of the CrPC but the same were rejected having regard to the gravity of the offences alleged against the accused.

The appellant alleged that the High Court in a very cryptic order, de hors any reasoning had granted bail to the respondent-accused which deserved to be set aside.

Reasoning given by the High Court

At the outset, the extracted portions were the only portions forming part of the “reasoning” of the High court while granting bail, which read as under:

“I have considered the submissions and perused the challan papers and the post-mortem report, but without expressing any opinion on the merits and demerits of the case, I deem it appropriate to enlarge the accused-petitioner on bail…”

Analysis and Conclusion

Though it is not necessary for a Court to give elaborate reasons while granting bail particularly when the case is at the initial stage and the allegations of the offences by the accused would not have been crystalised as such, however, the Court deciding a bail application cannot completely divorce its decision from material aspects of the case such as the allegations made against the accused; severity of the punishment if the allegations are proved beyond reasonable doubt and would result in a conviction; reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being influenced by the accused; tampering of the evidence; the frivolity in the case of the prosecution; criminal antecedents of the accused; and a prima facie satisfaction of the Court in support of the charge against the accused.

Ultimately, the Bench held that the Court considering an application for bail has to exercise discretion in a judicious manner and in accordance with the settled principles of law having regard to the crime alleged to be committed by the accused on the one hand and ensuring purity of the trial of the case on the other. As an order de hors reasoning or bereft of the relevant reasons cannot result in grant of bail. In such a case the prosecution or the informant has a right to assail the order before a higher forum.

Considering the factum of the case along with the established legal principles, the Bench concluded that the High Court had lost sight of the aforesaid material aspects of the case and had, by a very cryptic and casual order, de hors coherent reasoning, granted bail to the accused.

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, the bail order of the respondent accused was declared cancelled and the respondent was directed to surrender before the concerned jail authorities within a period of two weeks.

[Manoj Kumar Khokhar v. State of Rajasthan, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 30, decided on 11-01-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice B.V. Nagarathna


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Basant R., Senior Counsel

For the Respondent: Aditya Kumar Choudhary, Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court:  Division Bench of V.K. Jadhav and Shrikant D. Kulkarni, JJ., addressed a case of ‘Honour Killing’ by a brother of his own real sister and upheld the sentence of the death penalty.

Appellant Accused’s sister who was married had a love affair with another person prior to her marriage.

In 2017, she had left her matrimonial home without informing anyone and later her husband lodged a missing report. Since the accused-appellant was aware of the love affair he had a suspicion about the whereabouts of his sister.

Pooja could not forget her love. Consequently, she had not only left her matrimonial home without informing anyone, however, she had called deceased Govind on his mobile. Against the advice of the brother-in-law PW 5 Shankar Gade, deceased Govind had given his address to deceased Pooja.

Deceased Pooja went to village Kharbala at the house of PW 5 Shankar Gade and joined the company of the deceased Govind. Meanwhile, appellant-accused Digambar was searching for deceased Pooja and Govind. He was suspecting that both of them are together.

Appellant-accused reached the village Kharbala at the house of PW-5 and made a statement before all of them including deceased Pooja and deceased Govind that he will perform their marriage, though PW5 had told appellant-accused Digambar that marriage was not possible because Pooja was already married. Digambar, however, told PW 5 that deceased Govind was his childhood friend and even deceased Pooja made a statement that she had faith in her brother accused that he would perform her marriage with the deceased.

In view of the above said, appellant-accused Digambar, appellant-accused Mohan, deceased Pooja and deceased Govind left that place on one motorcycle being driven by appellant-accused Mohan.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Territorial Jurisdiction Issue

High Court agreed with the observations recorded by the trial court that the inspection notes, the defence evidence and the spot panchanama, if considered, then the spot where the dead body of deceased Pooja was lying comes under the jurisdiction of Telangana State. However, the spot where the actual incident of murder was committed was situated in the river towards southern side of Mahagaon-Palaj river confluence (sangam) which comes under the jurisdiction of Maharashtra State.

Circumstantial Evidence

Bench opined that the entire case rested upon circumstantial evidence and there was no direct evidence in this case.

The prosecution established a link as to how even after marriage, deceased Pooja could not forget her love with deceased Govind and in consequence thereof, within one month and twelve days of her marriage with Jethiba Varshewar, she left her matrimonial home and went to the house of PW 5 to meet deceased Govind. Deceased Pooja left her matrimonial home with a determination to join the company of the deceased Govind.

Prosecution witness 5 and 6 revealed that the appellants accused had been to village Kharbala in exercise of the conspiracy hatched by them to eliminate Pooja and Govind.

Court noted that the manner in which the throats of both the deceased persons were slit, also indicated and gave a message that if the honour of the family is lowered down, the guilty thereof, are liable to be punished.

Hence, prosecution established the motive.

With regard to blood on weapon sickle, prosecution proved another link of circumstantial evidence that the blood on the clothes of appellant-accused Digambar and on the weapon was blood group “A”. There was no explanation from the appellant-accused about the same.

In the absence of proof of other circumstances, the only circumstance of last seen together and absence of satisfactory explanation cannot be made the basis of conviction.

In the present matter, Bench stated that the last seen theory was acceptable as the time gap between the point of time when the appellants-accused and both the deceased were last seen alive and both the deceased found dead is so small that the possibility of any other person than the accused being the author of the crime becomes impossible.

It was noted that both the appellants accused took deceased Pooja with them by giving her false assurance of her marriage with the deceased Govind and also took deceased Govind with them. Both the appellants-accused along with deceased Pooja and Govind left the house of PW 5 Shankar situated at village Kharbala, taluka Mudhol on one motorcycle being driven by appellant-accused no.2 Mohan leaving no chance for both the deceased persons to find out any other way of escape in case emergency so arises.

High Court added that, there was positive evidence about homicidal death, motive, so also the connecting evidence in the form of blood group of deceased appearing on the weapon and also on the cloths of the appellant-accused Digambar and thus, the circumstance of last seen together and the absence of satisfactory explanation on the part of the appellant-accused completed the chain of circumstantial evidence. 

There was no possibility of any other person meeting or approaching the deceased at the place of incident or before commission of crime in the intervening period.

 FIR given by accused

It is well settled that where the accused himself gives the first information report, the fact of his giving the information is admissible against him as evidence of his conduct under Section 8 of the Evidence Act.

Trial Court rightly observed that the said circumstance of confessional FIR was considered to the extent of the conduct of the appellant-accused Digambar under Section 8 of the Evidence Act.

High Court opined that there was sufficient positive evidence of homicidal death. The prosecution had established the chain of circumstantial evidence along with the motive on part of the appellant to commit murder.

Both the appellants failed to give a satisfactory explanation about the death of both the deceased persons when they were seen alive lastly in their company while leaving village Kharbala. Therefore, the death sentence of the accused person was confirmed for offence punishable under Sections 302, 201 read with 34 of Penal Code 1860 and Section 120-B IPC.

Capital Punishment and Mitigating Circumstances

Bench noted the fact that the incident in the present matter did not occur on the spur of the moment or a crime of passion, but craftily planned and meticulously executed.

The present crime is so grave as to shock the conscience of the society and would amount to the rarest of the rare.

 In the Supreme Court decision of Vasanta Sampat Dupare v. State of Maharashtra, (2015) 1 SCC 253, it was held that,

‘it is rarest of rare case and fit for imposition of death sentence. There are no mitigating circumstances. It is an act of taking advantage of absolute innocence. It is not only betrayal of individual trust but also betrayal of social trust. The act is an anathema to social balance. The act of the appellant shocks judicial conscience, conscience of the society and has a menacing effect on the society. His conduct and criminal antecedents reveal that he is and will be a menace to the society and cannot be reformed. Thus, there are no mitigating circumstances’.

In Bhagwan Dass v. State (NCT) of Delhi, (2011) 6 SCC 396, Supreme Court considered as to whether the death punishment can be awarded when the prosecution case rests on circumstantial evidence and particularly dealt with the issue of honour killing.

Court declined to accept the submission that the offence had been committed under the influence of extreme mental and emotional disturbance.

“We are shocked to see the manner in which deceased Pooja and deceased Govind were subjected to death.”

Elaborating its observation further, Bench stated that,

It was done not only with the sole intention to protect the honour of the family, and it was done by hatching conspiracy to punish both of them. The manner in which the throats were slit indicate the same. It was done with an intention to punish them so also to make it as a lesson for those who could dare to disobey the family.

The trial Judge had observed that the face of the accused was expressionless when the Court declared him guilty and there was no repentance at all.

Therefore, in view of the above, Court declined to consider the young age of the appellant-accused 1 and the possibility of his reformation.

High Court while reaching the conclusion expressed that the appellant accused could have cut off the social relations with Pooja and Govind, instead they opted to commit cold-blooded murder in a pre-planned and calculated manner.

In view of the above stated, Bench was not inclined to convert the death punishment of appellant-accused into life imprisonment. [State of Maharashtra v. Digambar, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 5485, decided on 13-12-2021]

Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

The Central Government notified Boiler Accident Inquiry Rules, 2021. They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

Key features:

  • Inquiry of accidents: On receipt of a report of an accident to a boiler or boiler component under section 18 of the Act, a preliminary inquiry shall be conducted in the concerned State in whose jurisdiction the  accident has occurred.
  • Accidents resulting in any death: The Chief Inspector of the concerned State in whose jurisdiction any death has resulted due to the accident , based on preliminary inquiry, shall forward a report without delay  to the Technical Adviser in Form A.
  • Inquiry of accidents resulting in any death: Without prejudice to rules, where any death has resulted due to any accident, an inquiry shall also be conducted by the Central Government.
  • Constitution of inquiry committee: (1)The inquiry shall be conducted by an inquiry committee  consisting of the following, namely: 

(i) Technical Adviser Chairman;
(ii) a Chief Inspector or Director of Boiler Member;

(iii) a representative of Boiler and boiler component manufacturer or user of boilers in the Board
Member.

Note: The inquiry committee shall be constituted within fifteen days of receipt of report of accident resulting in any death from the Chief Inspector of the concerned state and inquiry shall be conducted within fortyfive days of receipt of report of accident from the Chief Inspector.

  • Procedure during inquiry: The inquiry committee shall make a careful examination of the damaged parts and shall take such measurements or sketches and may take such photographs for the purpose of report as they may deem necessary.
  • Use of Boiler after accident resulting in any death: The boiler shall not be put to use till the inquiry is completed.
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., while addressing an issue with respect to culpable homicide expressed that:

“…crucial to determine whether the accused had intention or knowledge that the injuries inflicted on the victim would cause the death and as a result thereof the accused could be guilty of committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder.”

The instant revision petition was filed under Section 397/401 of Criminal Procedure Code directed against the order passed by the Additional Session Judge, framing charges against the petitioner for offences under Section 308, 385 and 34 of the Penal Code, 1860.

A piece of information was received that a man had been stabbed in front of Okhla Sabzi Mandi.

Further, it was added that the petitioners came to the complainant, Anwar/petitioner 4 was armed with a Danda Imran/petitioner 3 and Sharukh/petitioner 2 were armed with iron rods and Salman was armed with a knife. They demanded money from the complainant.

Further, it was stated that all four petitioners started hitting the complainant, later petitioners’ brother, Nazim rescued him.

The accused left after threatening the complainant of dire consequences.

From the investigation, sufficient evidence for filing charge-sheet against the petitioners under Sections 308, 384 and 24 of Penal Code 1860 was found.

Additional Sessions Judge found that prima facie a case under Section 308 IPC was made out against the accused. The said order has been challenged in the present revision petition.

What is Section 308 of Penal Code, 1860?

Attempt to commit culpable homicide:

 Whoever does any act with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both; and, if hurt is caused to any person by such act, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

In the decision of Rajiv Sharma v. State, 2015 SCC OnLine Del 12138, it was held that:

“4. To proceed under Section 308 IPC, it is not essential that the injury actually caused to the victim should be sufficient under ordinary circumstances to cause the death of the person assaulted. What the Court has to see is whether the act, irrespective of its result, was done with the intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that, if one by that act caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder…”

Case of Scuffle

 It was noted in the view of facts and circumstances of the present case that it was a simple case of scuffle/quarrel between the parties where injuries were inflicted voluntarily and the High Court opined that the assailants could be proceeded for causing hurt under Section 323/324 IPC.

Complainant has submitted that the petitioner used to demand money for conducting business from that place and four of them attacked the victim.

Culpable Homicide

To secure conviction under Section 308 IPC the prosecution must prove that the accused had requisite intention or knowledge to cause culpable homicide.

With regard to determining the intention of whether the accused had intention or knowledge that injuries inflicted by him on the victim would cause death can be determined only at the stage of trial and not at the time of discharge.

Elaborating on the aspect of discharge in a case under Section 308 IPC, Bench referred to the decision of Supreme Court in Sunil Kumar v. N.C.T. of Delhi, (1998) 8 SCC 557.

High Court stated that APP, Meenakshi Chauhan was right in her submissions that the injury alone sustained by the accused at the time of framing charge cannot be the only criterion to discharge a person from an offence under Section 308 IPC. The attempt of that nature may or may not actually result in injury.

What is relevant for framing charges under Section 308 IPC is that an act done by the accused with intention or knowledge that under such circumstance’s death could have been caused or not.

Fact that the injury suffered by the victim is simple might not be a very relevant circumstance at this juncture in view of the circumstances of the Supreme Court decision cited above.

Hence, High Court upheld the decision of the Additional Sessions Judge. [Salman v. State, Crl.,  2021 SCC OnLine Del 1247, decided on 12-03-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioners: Ajayinder Sangwan, Advocate

For the Respondents: Meenakshi Chauhan, APP for the State

Sumer Kumar Sethi, Advocate for respondent 2

Hot Off The PressNews

In a case of a death in judicial custody, the National Human Rights Commission, India has set aside the conclusion of an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Ahmedabad that it was natural.

On the basis of the material on record, NHRC has held that the Under Trial Prisoner died due to the negligence and torture by the jail officials of Sabarmati Central Prison, Ahmedabad on 29-05-2017 and that the Judicial Enquiry Report is shady in nature and hence, cannot be relied upon.

Further, expressing serious concern over the order of the concerned judicial officer, the Commission has directed its registry to bring the matter to the notice of the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court for consideration of taking necessary action on the presence of such Judicial Officers.

The Commission has noted in its proceedings in the matter under case no Case No.487/6/1/2017-JCD that “it is very surprising & shocking to know that though 22 ante mortem injuries over the body of the deceased were clearly reflected in post mortem report, but still enquiry magistrate i.e. ACMM, Ahmedabad, Gujarat had stated that no injury was found to be present on the deceased. The Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court has to seriously consider the presence of such Judicial Officers in public domain.”

The NHRC has also issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Gujarat, to show cause why not an interim relief of Rs 3 Lakh should not be recommended to be paid to the Next of the Kin, NoK of the deceased Under Trial Prisoner, as his human rights were violated by the delinquent Jail officials, Director General of Police, Gujarat has been asked to submit a detailed report in the matter along with criminal case registered and progress in the matter. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission, as per its standing guidelines, had registered the case on the basis of an intimation from Supdt. Central Prison Ahmedabad Gujarat on 31.05.2017 regarding the death of UTP Ashok @ Lalit on 29.05.2017.

On the directions of the Commission, its Investigation Division informed that the victim under trial prisoner was in the custody of Sabarmati Central Prison, Ahmedabad since 27.05.2017. He was arrested in case no. 5261/15 u/s 66(1)(b), 65(a) Prohibition Act by PS Maghaninagar. Within two days on 29/5/2017, he fell ill and was sent to the Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad for treatment where he died on the same day at 16.38 hrs.

The postmortem was done by a panel of four doctors, which revealed 22 ante-mortem injuries from head to toe on the person of the deceased. The cause of death was kept preserved. Later, after viscera & HPE, the FCOD was given as death due to shock and hemorrhage as a result of injuries sustained over the body. However, in the magisterial enquiry the ACMM, Ahmedabad, Gujarat concluded that the health screening report, as well as inquest report, revealed that no injury was present on the person of the deceased. During the magisterial enquiry, the family members did not complain of anything and based on the statements of doctors & jail officials, so he concluded that there was no direct or indirect evidence that the deceased was physically or mentally tortured or ill-treated during custody and without any evidence.

The Commission noted that the Under Trial Prisoner was normal at the time of entry into the jail and died within two days of his entry into the jail. The strong scientific & biological forensic evidence cannot be undermined as far as the cause of death is concerned. This is also a fact that he was in jail for the past two days before his death in the hospital. Hence, there is no point in accepting that his death was natural. This is a clear case of unnatural death in the judicial custody of Sabarmati Central Jail & hence State is vicariously responsible for the same. Further, the Commission held that the statements of the family members of the victim after his death bear no relevance as the victim was in jail and the family members may not have met after the injuries, when he was alive.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 08-01-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Nitin W. Sambre, J., while addressing a petition with regard to grant of maintenance held that under Section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 wife has every right to claim the maintenance after the death of the husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law.

Facts

Late Bhupinder was married to respondent 1. Respondent 2 was born out of the said marriage.

Mother of Respondent 1 died in the year 2016 and her father died in 2017. She submitted that she has no independent source of earning and she and her son are completely dependent on the earnings of the petitioner.

In view of the above, respondent 1 preferred the proceedings under Section 19 and 22 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 for grant of maintenance of Rs 1,50,000 per month to petitioner 1 and Rs 50,000 to petitioner 2.

Family Court had allowed granted maintenance of Rs 40,000 per month to respondent 1, whereas Rs 30,000 per month to respondent 2.

Hence the present petition was filed.

Analysis and Decision

Section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 contemplates that the wife has every right to claim the maintenance after the death of the husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law, ie. the present petitioner.

Proviso to Sub-Section (1) of Section 19 contemplates that the respondent has to demonstrate that she on her own is unable to maintain herself.

Thus, it is in the above-stated eventuality that she can claim maintenance from the estate of her husband, still, fact remains that the said burden can be discharged by respondent1 at an appropriate stage.

Further, the court stated that the maintenance awarded to the respondent 1 to the tune of Rs 40,000 and to respondent  2, grandson of Rs 30,000 appears to be justified, considering the income drawn by the petitioner.

High Court stated that it cannot see any material illegalities to infer that the impugned order runs contrary to the scheme of Section 19 of the Act. Hence no case for interference will be made out in the present petition. [Sardool Singh Sucha Singh Mathroo v. Harneet Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 927, decided on 07-09-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Death of Coal India employees due to Corona Pandemic will be treated as accidental death and the kins of employee will get the same financial benefits as they get in the case of accidental death during duty, said Union Minister of Coal and Mines Shri Pralhad Joshi. The kins of employees deceased from Covid so far will also get protected.

“Putting their lives in danger Coal Indians have performed a tremendous job during Covid pandemic. They are relentlessly doing a good job. That’s why I proudly call them Coal Warriors. I have announced this benefit just to recognize their invaluable service to the nation.”, Shri Joshi said.

The Minister further said that commercial coal mining is going to fuel development in Jharkhand in coming years. Under the commercial auction of 09 coal mines in Jharkhand, the State is expected to earn more than Rs.3,200 crores in 1-year as revenue and almost 50,000 additional employment will be generated for the people of the State. Additionally, Jharkhand’s contribution to DMF will be around Rs 17 crores which can be used for development of regions around coalfield areas.

“Response of commercial mining auction is very good. Specially in Jharkhand we are getting 5 to 10 bidders for almost all of the mines put on auction. The state will get benefited from it and it will chart a new chapter of growth in the state.”, Shri Joshi said.

Stressing upon the need of commencement of commercial coal mining he said India still meets a fifth of its annual coal requirement through imports. Once commercial mining picks up, imports by independent thermal power plants and captive power plants are likely to be substituted, saving in potential import bill of around Rs 30,000 crore per every year. It will help in providing direct and indirect employment to more than 3 lakh manpower.


Ministry of Coal

[Press Release dt. 30-07-2020]

[Source: PIB]

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 BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo-motu cognizance of a media report that a family residing at Ojhaganj village of the Basti district in Uttar Pradesh has lost four of its members during the last six years due to malnutrition.

Reportedly, not being able to bear the extreme physical and mental suffering, the head of the family, has requested the authorities to allow him end his life as he is not being given work by anyone for the last three months and has no source of income to procure bread and butter for him and lone daughter, who is also struggling to survive.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights violation due to the lack of nutritional diet, adequate medical care and proper means of livelihood. Such reported tragic deaths, due to malnutrition and lack of other basic facilities are a matter of concern for it. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Government of Uttar Pradesh, through its Chief Secretary, calling for a detailed report in the matter including the data pertaining to effective implementation social welfare schemes in the district, specifically mentioning about the family referred in the news report.

The Commission would also like to know the present health status of the only child of Harishchandra and steps taken to ensure some source of income for him by the State. Details of the relief provided to the family by the district administration be also informed. The response is expected within four weeks.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has further observed that the media report indicates that there could be more such hapless families, shattered due to the lack of infrastructure and negligence by the authorities concerned. Such incidents are happening in spite of a large number of the flagship programmes having been announced and their implementation being monitored by the Union and the State governments to ensure socio-economic protection to the citizens including their right to food, health, education, housing and adequate standard of living. These schemes have been designed and developed to protect the vulnerable sections of the society focusing upon women, pregnant ladies, lactating mothers, newly born and young children.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 19-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of M.G. Sewlikar and T.V. Nalawade, JJ., upheld the decision of the trial court to convict the accused under Section 302 of Penal Code and held that,

“ A person who pours kerosene on someone and sets him on fire has no right to say that he had no knowledge that this act of his would cause death or would cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.”

The present appeal was preferred against the conviction under Sections 302, 323 and 506 of Penal Code, 1860.

Facts

Appellant/accused was a liquor addict and one evening when he came to home, the deceased (wife) asked him why he consumed liquor after which the appellant/accused abused her and said that he would get rid of her.

On the night of the above-stated incident, when the deceased and her son went off to sleep, accused/appellant poured kerosene on the deceased and ignited the match stick and threw it at her and ran out of the house. Thereupon, accused/appellant poured water on her and extinguished the fire.

Two dying declarations were recorded wherein the deceased stated the same story as above, after which offences under Sections 307, 323, 504 and 506 of IPC were registered. Offence was converted under Section 302 of Penal Code as the deceased breathed her last.

Analysis

Sessions Judge found that both the dying declarations were voluntary and truthful.

“Principle on which dying declaration is admitted in evidence is based on the legal maxim “Nemo Moriturus Praesumitur Mentire”: i.e. the man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth. It is based on the principle that in the face of death, all the worldly aspirations of a man do not exist. It is unlikely that a person who is on death bed would falsely implicate an innocent.”

Principles of governing the dying declaration are enumerated in the case of Paniben v. State of Gujarat, (1992) 2 SCC 474.

Law on the dying declaration is that if the Court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and made voluntarily by the deceased, conviction can be based solely on it, without any further corroboration. When the dying declaration suffers from some infirmity, it cannot alone form the basis of conviction.

Dying declaration is enshrined in Section 32 of the Evidence Act as an exception to the general rule contained in Section 60 of the Evidence Act.

Court noted that the dying declaration was recorded and signed by the victim when the doctor declared her to be in a fit state to do so. Thus, both the dying declarations appear to be truthful and voluntary.

Bench observed that, accused had failed to explain the circumstances in which the incident occurred. Prosecution proved both the dying declarations. It also proved the presence of the accused at the time of incident and also proved that kerosene was detected on the clothes of the accused.

Having regard to the above, trial court did not commit any error in placing reliance on both the dying declarations and recording the conviction against the accused under Section 302 of IPC.

Counsel Shri Chatterji for the accused had contended that the accused had no intention of doing the said act i.e. the intention to murder as he had poured water on the person of the deceased soon after she was engulfed by fire.

For the above argument, Court stated that,

The act is so inherently dangerous that a man of ordinary intelligence can also contemplate that setting a person on fire would entail death or would cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.

Thus, the High Court on noting the above held that the prosecution has proved that the death is homicidal. Bench also cited the Supreme Court’ decision in Suraj Jagannath Jadhav v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1608, wherein it was held that,

“Even assuming that the accused had no intention to cause the death of the deceased, the act of the accused falls under clause Fourthly of Section 300 IPC that is the act of causing injury so imminently dangerous where it will in all probability cause death.”

Hence, in view of the above, appeal is dismissed. [Navin Bhimrao Bansode v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 284, decided on 17-02-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

NHRC notice to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Uttar Pradesh in connection with a death in police custody after a brutal assault in Pilkhua, Uttar Pradesh

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that in Pilkhua, Uttar Pradesh, a man died in police custody on the 13-10-2019 after he was brutally assaulted during interrogation in connection with a murder case.

He was allegedly kicked, punched, hit with planks of wood, given electric shocks and pierced with a screwdriver. A purported video of the victim’s dead body shows deep bruise marks on his posterior and left arm and stab wounds all over the body.

The Commission has observed that going by the contents of the media reports, it appears to be a glaring instance of violation of human rights of an individual in police custody for which accountability rests on the police force of the State. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report on the matter. He has also been directed to mention in the report action taken against the erring police officials and the steps taken to prevent such incident in future by the State police.

A notice has also been issued to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh to ensure the safety and security of the victim’s family, mainly the minor boy of the deceased, who has undergone a huge traumatic time during alleged torture and death of his father in the police custody. The detailed reports from both the authorities are expects within four weeks.

The Commission has further observed that it is beyond comprehension as to how the men in uniform have perpetrated such heinous torture and barbaric atrocious act on a helpless man in their custody, whereas it is incumbent upon them to protect life and limbs of the individual detained or arrested. On the contrary, unwarranted violence by the police personnel inflicting enormous torture resulted in death of the victim.

The Commission has also observed that it has repeatedly cautioned the men in uniform not to indulge in unlawful actions including atrocities against accused persons, much less an innocent, while such person is in their custody. It has, time and again, sensitized the police force to engage with detainee with proper human behaviour while in public duty and aggressive nature of the police must be avoided, otherwise right to life and liberty, which is fundamental edifice of the rule of law, will be trampled down.

Therefore, the Commission has said that it is of the view that there is a need for thorough probe into the matter to identify and punish the guilty as the precious human life has come to a tragic end. Moreover, the traumatic condition of the minor boy of the victim is also a cause of concern who has suffered a huge physiological, physical and mental agony which needs to be taken care of by the State.

According to the media reports, the victim Pradeep Tomar left home in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilkhua telling his wife that his younger brother’s motorcycle had a tyre puncture, and that he would be home soon after helping out. The victim took his 11-year-old son along. He was picked up on the way by the police for questioning.

Reportedly, victim’s son said that the policemen first abused him and then started beating him. The victim kept begging them not to beat him and asked them what he had done wrong but they kept hitting him. The 11 year old son of the victim was also slapped by the police too and even put a gun in his mouth before warning him not to speak to anyone else about what he had seen.

The policemen were, reportedly, drunk and the son of the victim fell at their feet and asked them to leave his father but they tortured him so much that he defecated and urinated. Even when he was taken to the local hospital, he was not given any treatment as he was locked in a room. The news reports also state that the policemen including SHO of Pilkhua were subsequently suspended and in a set of directives to Hapur police order was passed ensuring safety of those arrested in connection with alleged crime.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 16-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Sinha and Dinesh Kumar Singh-I, JJ. allowed the appeal filed by a couple accused of murder, against the trial court’s order sentencing them to death for the said offence; and set aside the death reference made by the trial court.

In the present case, the appellant along with his wife Shakila was accused of murdering his two brothers-in-law and mother-in-law by hacking their neck, in a factory where he was a watchman. Charges were made out against the appellant and his wife under Sections 302, 34 and 201 of the Penal Code, 1860. The trial court convicted them on the basis that only appellant had access to the building as he lived inside it, and account of a child witness aged 6 years (son of the deceased lady) was taken into consideration.

Learned counsel for the appellant argued that the child witness’ testimony could not be taken into consideration as he had deposed that he was wrapped in a blanket and thrown in another room by his sister Shakila. The child’s presence at the crime scene could not be confirmed as had he been present over there, he too would have been killed by the accused-appellant but that was not the case. Moreover, the panchayatnama of three deceased was conducted as of unknown persons and had the child witness been present at the place of occurrence then definitely he would have disclosed the two male deceased to be his real brothers and female to be his mother. Also, it could not be said that the factory in which the appellant was a guard and where he was living along with his wife, was in his exclusive possession and not accessible to anyone else because one of the keys of the factory was with the owner of the factory. Therefore, the factory was accessible to others as well.

On the other hand, learned Additional Government Advocate submitted that accused-appellant has bad antecedents as he was already convicted and sentenced by the trial court for murdering his earlier wife. He had absconded from Lucknow jail and was living in Kanpur while working in the said factory as Chaukidar. He had enticed the daughter of deceased lady and when Shakila’s brothers along with their mother came to take her away from accused, a quarrel took place between the parties and Shakila’s mother and two brothers were murdered by accused. Shakila’s younger brother was an eye witness of the incident and had deposed that he saw the accused killing the three deceased with knife and his sister Shakila was facilitating in the crime.

The Court noted the aforestated facts and arguments and opined as below:

Section 118 Evidence Act – Reliability on testimony of child witness:

It was observed that the Investigating Officer had failed to show the place of occurrence and the place from where the child witness was witnessing the incident as the incident had taken place in two parts – body of mother of child witness was found on the second floor of the factory whereas the dead body of his two deceased brothers, was found on the first floor of factory. It was observed that it was highly doubtful that the child, who had stated that he was wrapped and thrown in a room by his sister, could not have seen the murder of the two deceased which had taken place on the first floor. Thus, his evidence could not be said to be wholly reliable for the conviction and sentence of two appellants.

The Court relied on Digamber Vaishnav v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 4 SCC 522 where the Supreme Court while discussing Section 118 of the Evidence Act, 1872 held that “evidence of a child witness must be evaluated carefully as the child may be swayed by what others tell him and he is an easy prey to tutoring. Therefore, the evidence of a child witness must find adequate corroboration before it can be relied upon.”

Presumption under Section 106 Evidence Act:

It was opined that the prosecution admitted that one key of the factory was with accused and another key was with the owner of the factory. Hence, the presumption under Section 106 of the Evidence Act could not be drawn against the accused as he was not in his exclusive possession of the factory.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt versus suspicion:

Further, the Court opined that it may not be possible that two deceased men aged about 25 years and 35 years and the deceased lady aged about 55 years could have been overpowered and killed single-handedly in such a gruesome manner by the accused who was just aged about 45 years. The possibility of the incident having occurred in some other manner by more persons could not be completely ruled out. It was noted that suspicion, howsoever strong, could not take the place of proof. Reliance in this regard was placed on Sujit Biswas v. State of Assam, (2013) 12 SCC 406 where the Court examined the distinction between ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ and ‘suspicion’.

Establishing guilt on the basis of circumstantial evidence:

Lastly, the Court relied on Digamber Vaishnav case and opined that in criminal cases where guilt of the accused is sought to be established on the basis of circumstantial evidence, “if two views are possible on evidence adduced in the case – one binding to the guilt of the accused and the other is to his innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused, should be adopted.”

In view of the above, the conviction and sentence of both the appellants by the trial court was set aside, and they were directed to be released from jail forthwith unless otherwise wanted in any other case.[Rashid v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine All 2228, decided on 16-05-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that more than 17 students, 15 to 19 years, were killed in the massive fire which broke out in the four-storeyed building housing their coaching centre at Surat in Gujarat on the 24th May, 2019. Many are still in critical condition, undergoing medical treatment in hospitals.

Considering the incident as a grave violation of the human rights of the young students, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat calling for a detailed report in the matter including status of the criminal cases registered against the building owner and others found guilty along with action taken against the public servants concerned. He has been asked to include in his the legal status of the building, its construction, fire fighting measures, fire safety clearance and relief granted to the grief-stricken families. The Commission also expects that the best and free of cost treatment is provided by the State to the injured persons. Response from the State government is expected within 4 weeks.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has also observed that it has been constantly insisting the authorities to be more vigilant to avoid such tragic incidents. Going by the media reports, it appears that there was no safe passage for the victims, which could have been used as a fire exit in case of emergency. The mere announcement of compensation to the aggrieved families cannot be a solution to such kind of hazards. Several such incidents have occurred across the country where precious human lives have been lost due to negligence by the authorities and lack of Fire Department’s clearance.

According to the media reports, the fire reportedly started likely due to a short circuit at the staircase near the lower floor and engulfed the entire premises. As there was no way out for the people present on the top floor to come out of the building, they started jumping off the building. Some of them have sustained serious injuries. It is mentioned in the news reports that the horrifying incident was recorded by many passersby, which indicates that nearly a dozen teenagers were trying to escape the thick smoke rising from the building, forcing them to jump off to save their lives.

The fire department officials reached the spot and deployed 19 fire trucks and two hydraulic platforms to douse the fire and evacuate the people trapped in the building. An enquiry into the matter has reportedly been ordered by the state government. Reportedly, Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased have been announced by the State government and as a precautionary measure all the Tuition Centres/Coaching centre, etc have been ordered to be closed in the area. The fire hazard checks are also being conducted in various places.


[Dated: 25-05-2019]

National Human Rights Commission

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This petition was filed before the Bench of Daya Chaudhary, J., under Section 439 of Criminal Procedure Code for grant of regular bail where FIR was registered under Sections 324, 323, 342, 148, 149, 302 and 365 of Penal Code.

It was submitted by the petitioner that he was falsely implicated in the case where he was not involved in the commission of the alleged offence. The complainant and the eyewitnesses were examined and they did not support the case of the prosecution. Even the post mortem report did not suggest anything which could prove the involvement of the petitioner in the alleged commission of offence. Arguments were advanced stating that the deceased died after he was found in a good condition and discharged from hospital. The fact cannot be ignored that co-petitioner was already released on bail. Whereas respondent contended that petitioner was the main accused thus, should not be released on bail.

High Court was of the view that the bail should be granted and this petition was allowed as the death of the deceased cannot be said to be a result of injuries received by petitioner. [Gursewak Singh v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 415, dated 22-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Bench of T.V. Nalwade and Mangesh S Patil, JJ., refused to quash a criminal case registered against a Medical Officer (applicant) for an offence punishable under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) IPC.

Seema (now deceased), who was pregnant at the time relevant, was admitted to the Government Hospital for her delivery. She was admitted at about 8:50 am. The duty time of the applicant (Medical officer of the Hospital) was from 8 am onwards, but he was not present in the hospital. Therefore, Seema was admitted by a nurse and she delivered a child at about 9.10 am. After delivery, Seema suffered bleeding. Realising development of the complications, the nurse informed the applicant on the phone. However, he did not turn up till 10 am, and ultimately Seema passed away. The applicant was booked under Section 304-A on the complaint of Seema’s father.

Represented by Ganesh V. Mohekar, Advocate, the applicant sought quashing of the case. Per contra, S.B. Joshi, Additional Public Prosecutor opposed his application.

As per the High Court, there was sufficient record to infer that Seema’s death occurred due to the applicant’s negligence. Rejecting applicant’s submission that it was anyway a high-risk case due to ‘placenta postrioely low lying’, the Court said: ” In that case also it can be said that it is the duty of the medical officer to remain present and when it is a case of high risk his presence is a must. The record is sufficient for the present purpose to infer that he was never diligent in discharging his duty and on that day due to his negligence Seema died.”

Relying on Jayshree Ujwal Ingole v. State of Maharashtra, (2017) 14 SCC 571, it was held that all the tests to ascertain applicant’s negligence were satisfied. [Dr Ravindra v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 616, Order dated 09-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Rajendra Menon, CJ and V. Kameswar Rao, J. allowed a letters patent appeal against the judgment of the writ court whereby the appellants petition for compensation of his son was dismissed.

On the fateful day, the appellant and his 14-years old son had gone to Sanjay Park maintained by Respondent 1 — East Delhi Municipal Corporation, where while playing cricket the son came in contact with an electric wire lying there and was electrocuted which resulted in his death. In the action brought for compensation by the appellant, the respondents started to shift the liability on each-other, Respondent 2 being BSES, the company responsible to maintain the electricity system in the said park. The writ court dismissed the action holding that there was a dispute as to who was responsible and such a question could only be looked into by the trial court.

The High Court was of the view that approach of the writ court was not right. The Court was of the view that the negligence on the part of respondents was writ large in the improper manner of maintaining the electricity system. It was of the view that the death of deceased was caused due to negligence of the respondents. In such situation, according to the High Court, the writ court ought not to dismiss the valid claim for compensation brought by the appellant. Holding thus, the only question left was of assessing the amount of compensation to be awarded to the appellant for the death of his 14-years old son. After applying the proper formula, the Court assessed the amount of compensation at Rs 27,38,607.81 along with interest. At first, both the respondents shall each pay 50% of the amount and thereafter they could work a settlement amongst themselves. The appeal was disposed of in the manner above. [Rajeev Singhal v. MCD, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 11518, dated 27-09-2018]