Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Pakistan: A Full Bench of Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, JJ. set aside the impugned judgment and conviction of the appellant by extending the benefit of doubt.

The prosecution’s case was hinged on the dying declaration made by the deceased Haji Muhammed Zamin Khan (complainant), in which he said that he was on his way back from a condolence meeting when the respondent herein fired upon him. After making this statement to the police, he succumbed to his wounds. The accused was arrested, convicted under Section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced to death. Peshawar High Court however altered the death penalty into imprisonment for life. Aggrieved by the said order, the present appeal was filed by complainant’s son.

The learned counsel for the appellant, Astagfirullah, contended that in the absence of any mitigating circumstance, there was no occasion for the learned High Court to alter the death penalty into imprisonment for life. Whereas learned counsel for the accused-respondent, Ghulam Mohyuddin Malik, questioned the legality of conviction on the ground that the case was founded primarily on a dying declaration and the prosecution miserably failed to show as to who recorded deceased’s last words and thus it was unsafe to maintain the conviction.

The Court noted that the statement of the deceased was recorded by Munawar Khan, one of the prosecution witnesses, who dictated it to Khan Ghalib Khan (another prosecution witness) to be recorded in the first information report. However, the second prosecution witness denied recording the first information report and thus it was unknown as to who had recorded the deceased’s last words.

It was observed that dying declaration is an exception to the general rule of direct evidence and it is admitted to the detriment of an accused without the opportunity of cross-examination upon the declarant under the belief that a person, face to face with God, would tell nothing but the whole truth. Therefore, it was held that prosecution must demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that the dying declaration comprised of the words of declarant alone without extraneous prompting or additions. Thus, the person who recorded the dying declaration is the most important witness to verify its veracity. However, this person was missing in the present case.

In view of the above, the Court held that it was grievously unsafe to maintain the conviction and hence by extending the benefit of the doubt to the appellant, the appeal was dismissed and respondent was directed to be released.[Somaid v. Ali Gohar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pak SC 9, decided on 30-04-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While addressing the ongoing issue relating to the discrepancy in preliminary examinations conducted for Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission  2018, a vacation bench comprising of Deepak Gupta, J. speaking for himself and U.U. Lalit, J. set aside the judgment of Allahabad High Court wherein answers to certain questions were scrapped by the Court.

The answer key for the preliminary paper of General Studies-I, held for U.P. Public Service Commission 2018 to fill vacancies in Upper Subordinate Services in the State was challenged by certain candidates appearing for the exam, before the Allahabad HC. The High Court, while sustaining the challenge of the petitioners, struck down answers to four questions holding them to be incorrect. Aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, the respondent Commission approached the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court held such interference by the High Court untenable. It found that the answer key was published by the Commission after verification and suggestions of a 15-member and 18-member expert committees. Further, the answer key was examined by a 26-member expert committee on receiving as many as 926 objections by the candidates who appeared for the exam. The Hon’ble Bench observed the law to be well settled regarding the extent and power of the Court to interfere in academic matters. Referring to its earlier decisions in Kanpur University v. Samir Gupta, (1983) 4 SCC 309, and Ranvijay Singh v. State of U.P., (2018) 2 SCC 357, the Hon’ble Court observed, the State Government should devise a system for moderating answers key furnished by the paper setters. The Constitutional Courts must exercise great restraint in such matters and should be reluctant to entertain such pleas. Judges cannot take on the role of academic experts and no interference is permissible unless the candidate demonstrates that the key answers are patently wrong on the face of it. Noting the fact that the answer key was published after moderation by two expert committees, the Court held that the Allahabad High Court transgressed its jurisdiction in setting aside the decision of experts in the field. Accordingly, the impugned judgment was reversed. [U.P. Public Service Commission v. Rahul Singh,2018 SCC OnLine SC 609, decided 14-6-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Veerender Singh Siradhana, J. dismissed a civil writ petition filed by the petitioner against his transfer from Rajasthan State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Jaipur to District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Jaisalmer.

The petitioner was employed as a class IV employee in the Commission at Jaipur for last 24 years. By the impugned order, as many as six employees including the petitioner were transferred. Feeling aggrieved, the petitioner preferred an appeal before the Rajasthan Civil Services Appellate Tribunal who directed the Commission to consider the representation of the petitioner. However, the Commission declined his representation. Aggrieved, the petitioner approached the High Court.

The High Court, while perusing the record, noted that the only grievance put forth by the appellant was that he had a son and four daughters, who were of marriageable age, and therefore, he ought to have been retained at Jaipur. Placing reliance on the Supreme Court decision in Gobardhan Lal v. State of U.P., (2004) 11 SCC 402, which dealt with the scope and extent of judicial review in matters of transfer of an employee, the High Court observed, by a catena of judgments it is now well settled that transfer is an incident of service. Unless transfer is effected in violation of any mandatory statutory rule or having adverse consequences on conditions of service, the same is not to be interfered with by the Courts as an Appellate Authority. In light of the discussion as mentioned herein, the Court declined to interfere with the impugned transfer order as passed by the Competent Authority. The petition was thereby dismissed. [Vinod Kumar Bairwa v.  Rajasthan State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1358, dated 29-5-2018]