Legal RoundUpSupreme Court Roundups


Most Read story of the Month


Producing false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct; Dismissal of service justified in such cases

“The question is one of a TRUST. How can an employee who has produced a fake and forged marksheet/certificate, that too, at the initial stage of appointment be trusted by the employer? Whether such a certificate was material or not and/or had any bearing on the employment or not is immaterial. The question is not of having an intention or mens rea. The question is producing the fake/forged certificate.”

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Top Stories


Supreme Court upholds the amendments to the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

“Aspirations of any country cannot be fulfilled on the hope of foreign donation”

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Anganwadi Workers/Helpers entitled to payment of gratuity; ‘Time to take serious note of their plight’

The Anganwadi Workers/Helpers have been entrusted with the important tasks of providing food security to children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, pregnant women as well as lactating mothers, apart from rendering pre¬school education. And for all this, they are being paid very meagre remuneration and paltry benefits.

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‘Can’t allow mass absorption of over 11,000 workers based on a flawed Report’. SC forms new Committee to put an end to the long drawn LIC versus temporary employees battle

“The dispute is now of an antiquity tracing back to nearly four decades. Finality has to be wrung down on the dispute to avoid uncertainty and more litigation. Nearly thirty-one years have elapsed since 1991. We have come to the conclusion that the claims of those workers who are duly found upon verification to meet the threshold conditions of eligibility should be resolved by the award of monetary compensation in lieu of absorption, and in full and final settlement of all claims and demands.”

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Supreme Court stays Delhi’s Jahangirpuri demolition drive

The demolition drive has been launched by Delhi municipal authorities in Jahangirpuri area, which witnessed communal violence recently.

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Lakhimpuri Kheri Violence| ‘Allahabad High Court granted bail in a tearing hurry’; Supreme Court cancels Ashish Mishra’s bail

“Victims cannot be expected to be sitting on the fence and watching the proceedings from afar.”

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Also Read: From investigation till culmination of appeal/revision, victim has right to be heard at every step post the occurrence of an offence


Explainers



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Solitary Confinement of Death Row Convicts: Judicial officer to probe to apprise Supreme Court of ground reality

A appeal was filed before the Court alleging that the appellant had been placed in solitary confinement since 29-10-2006 contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration(1978) 4 SCC 494. The appellant had relied on the letter addressed by the Medical officer to the Superintendent of Prisons dated 06-11-2011 claiming that ‘the aforesaid prisoner is kept in solitary confinement since his admission to this prison on 29-10-2006’ and further that the petitioner was suffering from ‘psychosis with depression’.

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Mere differential treatment cannot on its own be termed as an “anathema to Article 14 of the Constitution”

The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has held that when there is a reasonable basis for a classification adopted by taking note of the exigencies and diverse situations, the Court is not expected to insist on absolute equality by taking a rigid and pedantic view as against a pragmatic one.

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Interference with Government Tenders makes the State and its citizens suffer twice. Courts should refrain from staying Government tenders even in case of total arbitrariness

“The Writ Court should refrain itself from imposing its decision over the decision of the employer as to whether or not to accept the bid of a tenderer. The Court does not have the expertise to examine the terms and conditions of the present day economic activities of the State and this limitation should be kept in view.”

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“State cannot hide behind delay & laches to evade it’s responsibility after acquiring land. There cannot be a ‘limitation’ to doing justice”, holds SC; Land Owners get compensated after decades

“While the right to property is no longer a fundamental right, it is pertinent to note that at the time of dispossession of the subject land, this right was still included in Part III of the Constitution. The right against deprivation of property unless in accordance with procedure established by law, continues to be a constitutional right under Article 300-A.”

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Amalgamation does not necessarily nullify tax assessment as only the outer shell of the amalgamating company gets destroyed but the business and the adventure lives on

It is essential to look beyond the mere concept of destruction of corporate entity which brings to an end or terminates any assessment proceedings.

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SC sets aside Bombay HC’s direction to acquire a land almost 20 years after finalisation of development plan

“Land owner cannot be deprived of the use of the land for years together”

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Is there a policy rewarding public prosecutors for securing death sentence? Supreme Court asks M.P. government in a Suo Motu case

Noticeably, a petition was filed before the Court alleging that the State is granting incentives to public prosecutors on the basis of death sentence awarded in matters prosecuted by them. Assessing the gravity of allegation the Court on 29-03-2022 had issued direction to the Registry to register a Suo Motu case and change the cause title immediately.

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Insertion of meritorious OBC candidates into general category list without disturbing the appointment of general category candidates? Supreme Court strikes balance

The Court was deciding a case where a service matter where upon reshuffling and on insertion of two OBC candidates into general category select list, two general category candidates already appointed and working since long would have been expelled or removed, thereby unsettling the entire selection process.

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Lapse of a long period in deciding appeal cannot be a ground to award disproportionate and inadequate punishment

“Merely on the technical ground of delay and merely on the ground that after the impugned judgment and order, which is unsustainable, the accused have resettled in their lives and their conduct has since been satisfactory and they have not indulged in any criminal activity, is no ground not to condone the delay and not to consider the appeal on merits.”

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Caste can be the starting point for providing internal reservation but not the sole basis

In a case relating to reservation of seats in Educational Institutions, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao* and BR Gavai, JJ has observed that while caste can be the starting point for providing internal reservation, it is incumbent on the State Government to justify the reasonableness of the decision and demonstrate that caste is not the sole basis.

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Can an establishment employing about 8000 workers be shut down for not obtaining Environmental Clearance, even when it acts in compliance with required pollution norms?

“An establishment contributing to the economy of the country and providing livelihood ought not to be closed down only on the ground of the technical irregularity of not obtaining prior Environmental Clearance irrespective of whether or not the unit actually causes pollution.”

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Acquitted in the criminal case but employer still going ahead with the disciplinary proceeding? Read the law laid down by Supreme Court

“The purpose of a disciplinary proceeding by an employer is to enquire into an allegation of misconduct by an employee which results in a violation of the service rules governing the relationship of employment.”

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Reduction in stamp duty cannot lead to revenue splitting an instrument into two once it has already been charged under a correct charging provision

After having accepted the deed of assignment as an instrument chargeable to duty as a conveyance under Article 20(a) and after having collected the duty payable on the same, it is not open to the respondent to subject the same instrument to duty once again under Article 45(f), merely because the appellant had the benefit of the notifications under Section 9(a).

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SC allows Tamil Nadu to grant 50% reservation for in-service doctors in Super Specialty Medical Courses

The Court, hence, held that no case was made out for continuing the interim protection which was granted for the academic year 2020-2021 vide interim order dated  27th November, 2020.

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Medical College| Does permission to start post graduate courses for subsequent academic year result in effacing deficiencies found in previous academic year? Supreme Court answers

If an institution is seeking grant of permission for undertaking admissions for the academic session 2022-23, it must fulfill the requirements of minimum standard as on 31st December 2021.

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2006 Meerut Fire Tragedy| Organizers held guilty! 60:40 liability to compensate victims fixed on Organizers & State

The court was dealing with the writ petition preferred by the victims of the fire tragedy which occurred on 10.4.2006, the last day of the India Brand Consumer Show organized at Victoria Park, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh by Mrinal Events and Expositions. The incident claimed the lives of 65 persons and left 161 or more with burn injuries.

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Husband suspects paternity of child; Supreme Court allows DNA test while granting conditional compensation of 30 lakhs to wife if suspicion proves to be wrong

In a case where the husband had disputed paternity of child on suspicion, though the Division Bench comprising of Indira Banerjee and A.S. Bopanna, JJ., directed to conduct DNA test, the Bench granted a conditional compensation of thirty lakhs to the wife if the suspicion proves to be wrong and respondent-husband turns out to be the father of the child.

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Medical Admissions| SC directs allotment of in-service PG seat to Lady Doctor with experience in Madhya Pradesh’s Naxal/Tribal regions

The appellant, a mother of a 5-year-old, has been working as a Medical Officer with the State of Madhya Pradesh on a regular basis for over 11 years. Out of the 11 years of service, she has served for 6 years in District Betul which is a notified tribal district and has served in a Community Health Centre at Katangi in the District of Balaghat for the remaining period.

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Even a single crime committed by a ‘Gang’ is sufficient to prosecute an accused under the Gangsters Act

“The definition clause does not engulf plurality of offence before the Gangsters Act is invoked.”

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Delinquent postal officer voluntarily deposits defrauded amount with interest after detection of fraud. Was he able to escape punishment of removal from service?

“Being a public servant in the post office, the delinquent officer was holding the post of trust. Merely because subsequently the employee had deposited the defrauded amount and therefore there was no loss caused to the department cannot be a ground to take a lenient view and/or to show undue sympathy in favour of such an employee.”

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Appointment of Teachers| Can obtaining a degree in one branch of a subject be considered equivalent to obtaining degree in the subject as a whole?

“As per the settled proposition of law, in the field of education, the Court of Law cannot act as an expert normally, therefore, whether or not a student/candidate is possessing the requisite qualification should better be left to the educational institutions, more particularly, when the Expert Committee considers the matter.”

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It’s time for the University to put an end to ‘Yuddh Kand’ and allow appellant to move from ‘Karm Kand’ to ‘Karm Phal Kand’

“The entire controversy appears to have arisen as a result of the tug of war in the year 2006 between the then Chancellor and the then Vice Chancellor, making the appellant a victim in the line of fire. Unfortunately, the High Court omitted to take note of all this.”

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No right to keep goods and wares at hawking place overnight; Supreme Court dismisses plea of hawker of Sarojini Nagar market

The petitioner was a hawker in the Sarojini Nagar Market, who had approached the Delhi High Court seeking permission to leave his goods and wares at the place of hawking overnight.

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Forum Shopping and Power of High Court u/s 482 CrPC; Supreme Court tells when to convert a civil complaint into criminal case

“Forum shopping has been termed as disreputable practice by the courts and has no sanction and paramountcy in law.”

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Person being the highest bidder deposits sale amount for auction property and obtains injunction against Municipality; SC declares the sale non-est for lacking government sanction

The Court opined that no concluded contract ever came into force and in the absence of any approval granted, no right would accrue.

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2G Spectrum Scam| Supreme Court rejects ex-licensee’s refund demand of Rs 1454.94 crores Entry Fee, holding him faulty as a confederate of fraud

“…as a beneficiary and confederate of fraud, the appellant could not be lent the assistance of this Court for obtaining the refund of the Entry Fee.”

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Candidates can’t claim appointment to unfilled posts in absence of provision for waiting list

“In absence of any specific provision for waiting list and on the contrary, there being a specific provision that there shall not be any waiting list and that the post remaining unfilled on any ground shall have to be carried forward for the next recruitment.”

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Income Tax| If such orders continued to be passed, we will impose substantial costs on Assessing Officer which will be recovered from his/her salary: Read why SC stayed Bombay HC’s order

The Division Bench comprising of M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., stayed the impugned order of Bombay High Court wherein the High Court had quashed the assessment order under Income Tax Act, 1961 and had further cautioned that if such orders continued to be passed, the Court will be constrained to impose substantial costs on the concerned Assessing Officer to be recovered from his/her salary.

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Cases Reported in SCC


2022 SCC Vol. 2 Part 4

In 2022 SCC Volume 2 Part 4, read a very interesting decision, wherein a death row convict subjected a 5-year-old girl to rape, killed her by strangulation, and then disposed of her body, tied in a gunny bag, into a stream and the 3-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court finding hope for reformation and rehabilitation commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment.

2022 SCC Vol. 3 Part 1

In a pertinent decision, Supreme Court while rejecting claim for interest the compared it to the Shakespearean character Shylock and remarked,

“…the holder of the Bond has received their ‘pound of flesh’, but they seem to want more. Additional sum in our estimation is not merited as SIBCO has already received their just entitlement and burdening the defendant with any further amount towards interest would be akin to Shylockian extraction of blood from the defendant.”

2022 SCC Vol. 3 Part 2

In 2022 SCC Volume 3 Part 2, read a very interesting case wherein a case where a Constable’s name was recommended by the Superintendent of Police but the same was dropped down by the Inspector General of Police for promotion under the 10% quota of outstanding performance for inclusion in the B-I List for promotion to the post of Head Constable in the year 2004, Supreme Court held that mere recommendation of the SP at the initial stage is not sufficient to claim a right for promotion.


 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme court: In a long ongoing battle between Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and its temporary/badli/part-time employees over claim for absorption, the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath, JJ has appointed a two member committee to carry out fresh verification of the claims of workers who were working between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991 and who claim to have been employed for at least 70 days in Class IV posts over a period of three years or 85 days in Class III posts over a period of two years shall be carried out.

The Committee will consist of:

  • Justice P K S Baghel, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court; and
  • Rajiv Sharma, former District Judge and member of the UPHJS

In a 90-pages-long verdict that led to the aforementioned conclusion, the Court observed,

“The dispute is now of an antiquity tracing back to nearly four decades. Finality has to be wrung down on the dispute to avoid uncertainty and more litigation. Nearly thirty-one years have elapsed since 1991. We have come to the conclusion that the claims of those workers who are duly found upon verification to meet the threshold conditions of eligibility should be resolved by the award of monetary compensation in lieu of absorption, and in full and final settlement of all claims and demands.”

Background

The genesis of the present dispute relates to a demand raised by the Unions on 4 March 1991, pertaining to the claim for regularisation of those workers who were employed India with LIC as temporary/badli/part-time workers from 20 May 1985 till the date of reference on 4 March 1991.

The Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) which was presided over by K S Srivastav, directed that the temporary, badli and part-time workers who were employed after 20 May 1985 should be granted absorption on the same terms and conditions as was stipulated in the Tulpule and Jamdar Awards (in respect of workers who were employed from 1 January 1982 to 20 May 1985). LIC was directed to publish a notice in the newspapers for inviting applications from individual workers for absorption. If no regular vacancy was available, the award directed supernumerary posts to be created.

The Delhi High Court, however, set aside the said award.

On 12 December 2018, while dealing with the batch of contempt petitions, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court directed the CGIT to “look into the matter with regard to the claims made by the Union(s) individual workmen”. As many as 15,500 claims were submitted on behalf of the Unions, Associations and individual workers claiming absorption and the benefit of the Srivastav Award dated 18 June 2001. The CGIT submitted its report i.e. the Dogra Report on 31 May 2019.

The Dogra Report was primarily challenged by LIC on the ground that, as a consequence of the same, LIC would be required to regularise about 11,780 workers who claim to have worked for a limited number of days. No verification of these claims has been done either by the LIC or by the CGIT in the Dogra Report. This would amount to an illegal backdoor entry, which would be contrary to the statutory regulations framed by the LIC. Further, LIC would also face the issue of a lack of sanctioned posts for these workers.

Supreme Court’s Ruling

Dogra Report is Flawed

Holding the Dogra Report to be flawed, the Supreme Court observed,

“LIC as a statutory corporation is bound by the mandate of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. As a public employer, the recruitment process of the corporation must meet the constitutional standard of a fair and open process. Allowing for back-door entries into service is an anathema to public service”

The Court found the Dogra Report to be flawed as,

(a) It failed to carry out an accurate verification of only those Class III workers who had put in at least 85 days of work in a period of two years and Class IV workers who had put in 70 days of work in a period of three years;

(b) The lists which are appended to the report contain patent inconsistencies and errors as a consequence of a failure to carry out an adequate verification; and

(c) The report accepted the claims for absorption of those workers who were specifically governed by the decision of this Court in E Prabavathy v. LIC[1], in spite of an express stipulation to the contrary in the order of the Supreme Court as well as in paragraph 75 of the Srivastav Award;

It was, hence, held that,

“A public employer such as LIC cannot be directed to carry out a mass absorption of over 11,000 workers on such flawed premises without following a recruitment process which is consistent with the principles of equality of opportunity governed by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. Such an absorption would provide the very back-door entry, which negates the principle of equal opportunity and fairness in public employment.”

Directions

  • A fresh verification of the claims of workers who claim to have been employed for at least 70 days in Class IV posts over a period of three years or 85 days in Class III posts over a period of two years shall be carried out;
  • The verification shall be confined to persons who were working between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991;
  • All persons who are found to be eligible on the above norm shall be entitled to compensation computed at the rate of Rs 50,000 for every year of service or part thereof. The payment of compensation at the above rate shall be in lieu of reinstatement, and in full and final settlement of all claims and demands of the workers in lieu of regularisation or absorption;
  • In carrying out the process of verification, the Committee appointed by this Court shall not be confined to the certified list before the CGIT and shall consider the claims of all workers who were engaged between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991;
  • For the purpose of verification, LIC shall make available all the records at the Divisional level to the Committee appointed by this Court;
  • It will be open to the workers concerned or, as the case may be, the Unions and Associations representing them, to make available such documentary material in their possession for the purpose of verification;
  • The process of verification shall be carried out independently without regard to the Dogra Report, which is held to be flawed;
  • The payment of compensation in lieu of reinstatement shall be effected by LIC within a period of three months from the date of receipt of the report of verification by the Committee

[Ranbir Singh v. SK Roy, Chairman, Life Insurance Corporation of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 521, decided on 27.04.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud


Counsels

For LIC: Senior Advocate ANS Nadkarni

For Unions, Associations and workers: Senior Advocates Dr Manish Singhvi, Pallav Sishodia, R Singaravelan, V Prakash and Salman Khurshid and Advocates Nandakumar, Rakesh Shukla and Shailesh Madiyal


[1] SLP (Civil) No 10393 of 1992

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Birendra Kumar J. allowed the appeal and enhanced the award considering the settled guidelines in the subsequent judgments to reach at “just compensation”.

The instant appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, was filed by the wife, minor daughter and parents of Late Ramavatar @ Ramgopal, a victim of motor vehicle accident happened due to rash and negligent driving of the driver of the offending vehicle. The appellants filed MAC Case No.134/2011 before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Bharatpur. By the impugned judgment and award the Tribunal awarded Rs.3, 21,600/- against claim of Rs.80, 35,000/-. Being dissatisfied with the calculation and quantum of compensation decided by the appellants, instant appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellants Ms. Chelsi Gangwal contends that there was overwhelming unrebutted evidence of the wife of the deceased AW-1 Asha, the father of the deceased AW-2 Pradhan Singh and a businessman dealing with AC etc. who was examined as AW-3 Lalit Kumar that the deceased had monthly earning of Rs.12,000/-. However, the learned Tribunal took a pedantic approach of the matter that since no documentary proof of income of the deceased was produced, the notional income of Rs.3, 000/- per month was taken as multiplicand.

Counsel for respondent 3 put a defense that the offending vehicle was being used in violation of the terms and conditions of the policy. It was a case of contributory negligence as has been held by the Tribunal.

The Court observed that In the present case, there is no photographs of the site plan nor the author who had prepared the site plan Ex.-2 appeared before the Court. In my view, the Tribunal has committed error of appreciation of evidence and in fact, it is not a case of contributory negligence. Therefore, only for the reason that a self-earning person could not produce the document of his income, the deposition of the witnesses conversant with the income of the deceased should not have been ignored.

The Court relied on National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, and observed “Section 168 of the Act deals with the concept of “just compensation” and the same has to be determined on the foundation of fairness, reasonableness and equitability on acceptable legal standard because such determination can never be in arithmetical exactitude. It can never be perfect. The aim is to achieve an acceptable degree or proximity to the arithmetical precision on the basis of material brought on the record in an individual case. In a case of death, the legal heirs of the deceased cannot expect a windfall. Simultaneously, the compensation granted cannot be an apology for compensation.

The Court thus held “Thus, under the conventional head, the appellants would be entitled for Rs.1,50,000/-, the total payable compensation comes to Rs.26,71,600/- (Rupees Twenty Six lacs Seventy One Thousand and Six Hundred) The aforesaid amount minus already paid would be payable by the Insurer within three months to the claimants along with interest of 9% per annum, failing which the aforesaid interest would be payable till the realization of the whole due amount. The 1/3rd share of the minor daughter shall be deposited in some Fixed Deposit Scheme and shall be spent for education and betterment of the minor as and when occasion arises on the order of the Court only.”[Asha v. Naresh Kumar, 2022 SCC OnLine Raj 262, decided on 03-02-2022]


Appearances:

For Appellant(s) : Ms. Chelsi Gangwal for Mr. Prateek Sharma

For Respondent(s) : Mr. Ritesh Jain


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.