Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah, JJ has held that it’s order dated 23.03.2020, wherein the Court had extended limitation period of appeals from high courts or tribunals on account of COVID-19 pandemic, cannot be read to mean that it ever intended to extend the period of filing charge sheet by police as contemplated under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Setting aside the Madras High Court judgment, where it was had held that the Supreme Court order dated 23.03.2020 eclipsed all provisions prescribing period of limitation until further orders, including the time prescribed under Section 167(2) of the code of Criminal Procedure, the bench said,

“neither this Court in its order dated 23.03.2020 can be held to have eclipsed the time under Section 167(2) CrPC nor the restrictions which have been imposed during the lockdown announced by the Government shall operate as any restriction on the rights of an accused as protected by Section 167(2) regarding his indefeasible right to get a default bail on non-submission of charge sheet within the time prescribed.”

On 23.03.2020, the Court had extended the limitation for filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/all other proceedings to obviate lawyers/litigants to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunals. The Court, in the present order explained that the said order was passed to protect the litigants/lawyers whose petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/all other proceedings would become time barred they being not able to physically come to file such proceedings. The order was for the benefit of the litigants who have to take remedy in law as per the applicable statute for a right.

“When this Court passed the above order for extending the limitation for filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/all other proceedings, the order was for the benefit of those who have to take remedy, whose remedy may be barred by time because they were unable to come physically to file such proceedings.”

Stating that the scheme of Code of Criminal Procedure clearly delineates that provisions of Section 167 of Code of Criminal Procedure gives due regard to the personal liberty of a person, the Court explained that without submission of charge sheet within 60 days or 90 days as may be applicable, an accused cannot be detained by the Police. The provision gives due recognition to the personal liberty.

Noticing that the law of limitation bars the remedy but not the right, the Court said that the Investigating Officer in the present case could have submitted/filed the charge sheet before the (Incharge) Magistrate. Therefore, even during the lockdown and as has been done in so many cases the charge-sheet could have been filed/submitted before the Magistrate (Incharge) and the Investigating Officer was not precluded from filing/submitting the charge-sheet even within the stipulated period before the Magistrate (Incharge).

On High Court’s opinion that the lockdown announced by the Government is akin to proclamation of Emergency, the Court said,

“The view of the learned Single Judge that the restrictions, which have been imposed during period of lockdown by the Government of India should not give right to an accused to pray for grant of default bail even though charge sheet has not been filed within the time prescribed under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, is clearly erroneous and not in accordance with law.”

It is pertinent to note that another bench of Madras High Court had, in Settu v. State, Crl.OP(MD)No. 5291 of 2020, already considered the judgment of this Court dated 23.03.2020 and noticing that personal liberty is too precious a fundamental right, it had held,

“The noble object of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s direction is to ensure that no litigant is deprived of his valuable rights. But, if I accept the plea of the respondent police, the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court which is intended to save and preserve rights would result in taking away the valuable right that had accrued to the accused herein.”

The single judge in the impugned judgment before the Court had called the above mentioned Madras High Court order uncharitable. On this the Court said that the impugned judgment is not only erroneous but also sends wrong signals to the State and the prosecution emboldening them to act in breach of liberty of a person. It, further, said that all Courts including the High Courts and the Supreme Court have to follow a principle of Comity of Courts. A Bench whether coordinate or Larger, has to refrain from making any uncharitable observation on a decision even though delivered by a Bench of a lesser coram.

“A Bench sitting in a Larger coram may be right in overturning a judgment on a question of law, which jurisdiction a Judge sitting in a coordinate Bench does not have. In any case, a Judge sitting in a coordinate Bench or a Larger Bench has no business to make any adverse comment or uncharitable remark on any other judgment.”

[S. Kasi v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 529 , decided on 19.06.2020]


Also read:

COVID-19| SC extends limitation period for filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals, etc.

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Supreme Court Registry has notified the list of 1239 matters that are likely to be heard by the Supreme Court through Video Conferencing from June 1, 2020.

Earlier, the Registry had notified the new schedule for summer vacations of the Court. The Notice read:

“the period from 18th May, 2020 to 19th June, 2020 (both inclusive) shall be declared as period functioning for the Supreme Court of India.”

The Court was originally supposed to remain closed from May 18, 2020 to July 5, 2020 but the same was changed due to the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic.  The Court had, on March 23, 2020, opted to hold video-conference to hear urgent matters in an unprecedented move

Click here to access the list of matter.


Also read: 

COVID-19| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

COVID-19| Here’s the list of directions issued by CJI Bobde in the light of Coronavirus lockdown

COVID-19| SC extends limitation period for filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals, etc

COVID-19| SC extends limitation prescribed under the A&C, 1996 and the NI Act,1881

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, Deepak Gupta and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has directed extended the limitation prescribed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881. The Court directed that the limitation period under the said Acts,

“shall be extended with effect from 15.03.2020 till further orders to be passed by this Court in the present proceedings.”

The said order of the Court came in furtherance of the order passed on March 23, 2020 in IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 343, wherein the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJhad  invoked its power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and extended limitation period of appeals from high courts or tribunals on account of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Court took into consideration the effect of the Corona Virus (COVID 19) and resultant difficulties being faced by the lawyers and litigants and passed the present order with a view to obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunal across the country including this Court.

The Court further said,

“In case the limitation has expired after 15.03.2020 then the period from 15.03.2020 till the date on which the lockdown is lifted in the jurisdictional area where the dispute lies or where the cause of action arises shall be extended for a period of 15 days after the lifting of lockdown.”

[IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 434 , order dated 06.05.2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

1. With regard to Limitation, it is clear that the order dated 23.3.2020 passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court in suo motu WP-03/2020 is binding on everyone in India, for further clarification, it is hereby clarified that the litigant public with regard to the matters falling within jurisdiction of NCLT shall abide by the aforesaid orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

2. This issues with approval of Hon’ble Acting President, NCLT.


National Company Law Tribunal 

[Notice dt. 24-03-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

“Having regard to the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it has become imperative to ensure that the spread of the Corona Virus within the prisons is controlled.”

Supreme Court: Noticing that the issue of overcrowding of prisons is a matter of serious concern particularly in the present context of the pandemic of Corona Virus (COVID – 19), the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJ has directed each State/Union Territory to constitute a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate.

The said committee would comprise of:

  • Chairman of the State Legal Services Committee,
  • Principal Secretary (Home/Prison) by whatever designation is known as,
  • Director General of Prison(s)

Giving example, the Court said that the State/Union Territory could consider the release of prisoners who have been convicted or are undertrial for offences for which prescribed punishment is up to 7 years or less, with or without fine and the prisoner has been convicted for a lesser number of years than the maximum.

The Court, however, left it open for the High Powered Committee to determine the category of prisoners who should be released as aforesaid, depending upon the nature of offence, the number of years to which he or she has been sentenced or the severity of the offence with which he/she is charged with and is facing trial or any other relevant factor, which the Committee may consider appropriate.

The Court, further, directed,

  • prison specific readiness and response plans must be developed in consultation with medical experts. “Interim guidance on Scaling-up COVID-19 Outbreak in Readiness and Response Operations in camps and camp like settings” jointly developed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Health Organisation (WHO), published by Inter-Agency Standing Committee of United Nations on 17 March, 2020 may be taken into consideration for similar circumstances.
  • monitoring team must be set up at the state level to ensure that the directives issued with regard to prison and remand homes are being complied with scrupulously.
  • the physical presence of all the undertrial prisoners before the Courts must be stopped forthwith and recourse to video conferencing must be taken for all purposes.

“Looking into the possible threat of transmission and fatal consequences, it is necessary that prisons must ensure maximum possible distancing among the prisoners including undertrials.”

  • the transfer of prisoners from one prison to another for routine reasons must not be resorted except for decongestion to ensure social distancing and medical assistance to an ill prisoner.
  • there should not be any delay in shifting sick person to a Nodal Medical Institution in case of any possibility of infection is seen.

[IN RE : CONTAGION OF COVID 19 VIRUS IN PRISONS,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 344, order dated 23.03.2020]


Also read:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| SC restricts it’s functioning to avoid mass gatherings in Courts; Only urgent matters to be heard

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| SC extends limitation period for filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals, etc.

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of nonavailability of mid-day meals for children due to Coronavirus shutdown

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons in the wake of Coronavirus

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJ invoked its power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and extended limitation period of appeals from high courts or tribunals on account of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In order to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file petitions/applications/suits/ appeals/all other proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunals across the country including this Court, the Court directed,

“a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f. 15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings.”

The said order of the Court came after taking suo motu cognizance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country on account of COVID-19 Virus and resultant difficulties that may be faced by litigants across the country in filing their petitions/applications/suits/ appeals/all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under Special Laws.

The order of the Court order is binding on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities.

Earlier today, the same bench had said that it was mulling a shutdown amid rising coronavirus cases in the country. The Court opted to hold video-conference to hear extremely urgent matters in an unprecedented move.

[IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 343, order dated 23.03.2020]


Also read:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| SC restricts it’s functioning to avoid mass gatherings in Courts; Only urgent matters to be heard

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of nonavailability of mid-day meals for children due to Coronavirus shutdown

COVID-19| SC takes suo motu cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons in the wake of Coronavirus

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: In a significant ruling, a 5-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and Ravindra Bhat, JJ has unanimously ruled that the protection granted to a person under Section 438 Cr.PC should not invariably be limited to a fixed period; it should inure in favour of the accused without any restriction on time.

While all 5 judges gave a unanimous verdict, MR Shah and Ravindra Bhat, JJ gave elaborate separate opinions.

Justice Shah was of the opinion that the normal rule should be not to limit the operation of the order in relation to a period of time. He, however, added,

“the conditions can be imposed by the concerned court while granting pre­arrest bail order including limiting the operation of the order in relation to a period of time if the circumstances so warrant, more particularly the stage at which the “anticipatory bail” application is moved, namely, whether the same is at the stage before the FIR is filed or at the stage when the FIR is filed and the investigation is in progress or at the stage when the investigation is complete and the charge sheet is filed.”

Justice Bhat in his opinion wrote:

“it would not be in the larger interests of society if the court, by judicial interpretation, limits the exercise of that power: the danger of such an exercise would be that in fractions, little by little, the discretion, advisedly kept wide, would shrink to a very narrow and unrecognizably tiny portion, thus frustrating the objective behind the provision, which has stood the test of time, these 46 years.”

Summary of the verdict

Whether the protection granted to a person under Section 438 Cr. PC should be limited to a fixed period so as to enable the person to surrender before the Trial Court and seek regular bail?

The protection granted to a person under Section 438 Cr.PC should not invariably be limited to a fixed period. The Normal conditions under Section 437(3) read with Section 438(2) should be imposed; if there are specific facts or features in regard to any offence, it is open for the court to impose any appropriate condition (including fixed nature of relief, or its being tied to an event) etc.

Whether the life of an anticipatory bail should end at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court?

The life or duration of an anticipatory bail order does not end normally at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court, or when charges are framed, but can continue till the end of the trial. Again, if there are any special or peculiar features necessitating the court to limit the tenure of anticipatory bail, it is open for it to do so.

Points to be kept in mind by courts, dealing with applications under Section 438, Cr. PC:

  • When a person complains of apprehension of arrest and approaches for order, the application should be based on concrete facts such as relating to the offence, and why the applicant reasonably apprehends arrest, as well as his side of the story, and not vague or general allegations, relatable to one or other specific offence.
  • Depending on the seriousness of the threat of arrest the Court should issue notice to the public prosecutor and obtain facts, even while granting limited interim anticipatory bail.
  • Nothing in Section 438 Cr. PC, compels or obliges courts to impose conditions limiting relief in terms of time, or upon filing of FIR, or recording of statement of any witness, by the police, during investigation or inquiry, etc. The   need   to   impose   other   restrictive conditions, would have to be judged on a case by case basis, and depending upon the materials produced by the state or the investigating agency.
  • Courts ought to be generally guided by considerations such as the nature and gravity of the offences, the role attributed to the applicant, and the facts of the case, while considering whether to grant anticipatory bail, or refuse it.
  • Anticipatory bail granted can, depending on the conduct and behavior of the accused, continue after filing of the charge sheet till end of trial.
  • An order of anticipatory bail should not be “blanket” in the sense that it cannot operate in respect of a future incident that involves commission of an offence.
  • An order of anticipatory bail does not in any manner limit or restrict the rights or duties of the police or investigating agency, to investigate into the charges against the person who seeks and is granted pre­arrest bail.
  • If and when the occasion arises, it may be possible for the prosecution to claim the benefit of Section 27 of the Evidence Act in regard to a discovery of facts made in pursuance of information supplied by a person released on bail.
  • It is open to the police or the investigating agency to move the court concerned, which grants anticipatory bail, for a direction under Section 439 (2) to arrest the accused, in the event of violation of any term.
  • The correctness of an order granting bail, can be considered by the appellate or superior court at the behest of the state or investigating agency, and set aside on the ground that the court granting it did not consider material facts or crucial circumstances. This does not amount to “cancellation” in terms of Section 439 (2) Cr.P.C.

Sushila Aggarwal v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 98, decided on 29.01.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Suresh Kumar Kait, J., dismissed a criminal petition wherein the petitioner sought quashing of the summoning order passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate and also the criminal complaint under Section 138 read with 142 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

The petitioner represented by Ehraz Zafar, Akash Tyagi and Sataya Anand, Advocates, submitted that the complaint in question was filed on 2-5-2013, however, the cognizance was taken by the court by issuing summons against the petitioner on 17-04-2017. The punishment under Section 138 is two years and the cognizance taken by the trial court is after more than four years. It was contended that, therefore, the complaint was liable to be rejected.

At the outset, the High Court noted the fact remains that the instant was not the case of a warrant. The complaint was filed under Section 138 NI Act which is a summary trial. Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Indra Kumar Patodia v. Reliance Industries Ltd., (2012) 13 SCC 1, the High Court held that, The limitation provided under Section 468 is not applicable,

It was further held that, ”Moreover, the cognizance of the complaint was taken by the CMM concerned, who thereafter marked the case to the trial court concerned. The trial court after going through the contents of the complaint and evidence on record, issued summons. However, it is provided in Section 138 and 142 of the NI Act that the summons shall be issued within the prescribed time.”

In such view of the matter, the Court did not find any merit in the instant petition and, therefore, dismissed the same. [Uma Kant Umesh v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10754, decided on 22-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. dismissed the application, both on merits as well as on the ground of limitation. 

The application was filed by the petitioner after a delay of 2 years and 169 days. The order granting maintenance of Rs 3,000 each per month in favour of the opposite parties, who are wife and son of the petitioner was challenged 

The petitioner submitted that he being a poor man would not able to pay Rs 6,000 per month. It was further submitted that the petitioner was ready to keep the opposite parties with him but it was his wife, the opposite party, who refused to live with him. It was submitted that the petitioner runs a small “Kirana” shop.

It was brought to the Court’s attention that the allegation against the petitioner was of demand of dowry and ouster from the matrimonial home and, thus, there could not be any liability attached to his wife for not residing with the petitioner. It was further submitted that when the minor son of the petitioner, had undergone a major operation at AIIMS, Delhi, the petitioner neither bothered to visit him nor supported him financially. It was submitted that the conduct of the petitioner, thus, was contrary to the stand which he has taken before the Court that he was ready to keep the opposite parties with him.

The Court after having considered the facts and circumstances of the case and submissions of learned counsel for the parties did not find any ground to interfere with the impugned order and also held that the quantum of maintenance was most reasonable and just. The Court further held that from the impugned order itself, it was clear that the petitioner had on purpose avoided appearing before the Court and, thus, rightly the Court proceeded ex parte. [Ganesh Prasad Sinha v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1807, decided on 18-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. disposed of the revision petition saying that the Court did not find any ground to condone such delay of over eleven years as there was absolutely no explanation that came from the petitioners.

The petitioners approached the Court under Sections 397 and 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, challenging the judgment dated 11-09-2006 passed in Criminal Appeal No. 41 of 2004, by the Additional Sessions Judge, FTC-II, Khagaria which upheld the judgment passed by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Khagaria in GR No. 726 of 1996.

The limitation for filing the present Revision Application had expired on 10-12-2006. The limitation was not condoned though the application was admitted for hearing as the application was filed defect free. The learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that being labourers, they had gone out of the State to earn their livelihood as the case filed was under bailable sections. The Counsel for the petitioners submitted that due to local rivalry, they have been falsely implicated and that the injuries were simple in nature.

After considering the averments made in the Interlocutory Application, the Court found that there was absolutely no explanation for such unexplained and inordinate delay of over 11 years except the fact that the case was filed under bailable sections, and under the garb of such reasoning the petitioners had gone outside the State for earning their livelihood and did not know about the present case and only after warrant was issued on 08.02.2018, they had taken steps for filing the present revision application.

The Court further held that the petitioners after lodging of the case had gone outside the State and had no knowledge about further proceeding is patently false, for the reason, that after the conviction, an appeal was filed on their behalf which has also stood dismissed. Thus, the conduct of the petitioners denotes sheer casualness on their part.

The Court found that the judgment passed by the trial Court as well as the Appellate Court was sound, and based on properly appreciated evidence. Thus, it does not find any ground to exercise its revisional jurisdiction. However, after taking into account the fact that the dispute arose due to grazing of cattle and the injury suffered was simple in nature, the Court held that since the petitioners had already undergone incarceration for over five months, the sentence needed to be modified.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant petition was disposed of accordingly without interfering with the order of conviction but modifying the sentence of imprisonment to the period already undergone. [Bhagwan Yadav v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1490, decided on 29-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. allowed a petition filed against the order of the Appellate Court whereby petitioner’s appeal, against his conviction under Section 392 IPC recorded by the trial court, was dismissed on the sole ground of limitation.

The petitioner pleaded before the Appellate Court that being a poor person and in custody, he was unable to approach either the legal aid or to engage a private counsel, and therefore he couldn’t file the appeal in time. The Appellate Court noticed that during the trial the petitioner was represented by a private counsel and therefore disbelieved his explanation.

The High Court was of the view that the Appellate Court committed an error in not condoning the delay. It was said that the fact that the petitioner was represented by a private counsel before the trial court would not ipso facto imply that he had sufficient funds to engage a private counsel or appropriate legal advice to file an appeal within limitation. It was observed: “Courts have to take a liberal approach, when appeals against conviction are filed, with some delay, by persons who are in custody. Delay does not work to the advantage of the person incarcerated. People who are incarcerated do not have the advantage that a free person has, of approaching a counsel and taking legal advice at one own free will.”

It was said further: “We live in a society where the families of a poor person in custody and families of those coming from remote areas of the country are not even aware of their legal rights and even if aware, may not have the capacity or resources to approach a counsel for legal advice or approach courts for legal aid. Courts cannot adopt a hyper-technical approach, while considering an application seeking condonation of delay filed against conviction by a person in custody.” In such view of the matter, the Court quashed the impugned order and restored the petitioner’s appeal to the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge. [Rakesh Kumar v. State (NCT Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8779, decided on 30-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of C. Hari Shankar, J. dismissed a review petition filed on the grounds of challenging maintainability of the original writ petition.

The review petitioner sought review of the judgment passed earlier by the same bench of the Delhi High Court. He submitted that the original writ petition was not maintainable as it was barred by period of limitation and also because no writ petition would lie for such a relief as claimed by the original writ petitioner, i.e. seeking refund of bond money.

The High Court, after considering the submissions made by the review petitioner, was of the view that the instant review petition was without merits. It was observed that there is no period of limitation for filing a writ petition. As to the second aspect also, the Court observed that there is no bar to a Writ Court entertaining a claim for refund of money. In such a view of the matter, the review petition was dismissed. [Hemant Tyagi v. UCO Bank,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12444, decided on 13-11-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): In an appeal against an order passed by the State Commission West Bengal, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (“the Commission”) considered whether the period of limitation commences from the date of knowledge of the order or from the date of receipt of the free certified copy of the order appealed against.

The State Commission had rejected the petitioner’s appeal on grounds of limitation. The district forum’s order, which rejected the petitioner’s claim due to the expiry of limitation period, was passed on August 8, 2017, but the petitioner applied for a certified copy only on November 4, 2017, and appealed to the State Commission 115 days after the date of limitation for such appeal. The State Commission was not satisfied with the petitioner’s explanations for delays at every step and dismissed the petition.

The petitioner argued that the delay in filing for the appeal was an unintentional as the District forum had violated Rule 5(10) of the West Bengal Consumer Protection Rules, 1987 which reads:

“Orders of the District Forum shall be signed and dated by the members of the District Forum and shall be communicated to the parties free of charge.”

The District Forum failed to provide the petitioner with a certified copy of the order free of cost, and further owing to financial difficulties arising as a result of demonetization, there was a delay in filing for the certified copy.

The Commission referred to the Supreme Court’s judgment in Housing Board Haryana v. Housing Board Colony Welfare Association, (1995) 5 SCC 672), where it was held:

“The date of pronouncement of the order in the open Court by itself cannot be the starting point of determining the period of limitation under Section 15 of the Act. It has also to be shown that the order of the District Forum so pronounced was duly signed and dated by the members of the District Forum constituting the Bench and the same was communicated to the parties free of the charge.

[M]ere pronouncement of an order in the open Court will not be enough but under the scheme of the Rules a copy of the said order has also to be communicated to the parties affected by the aid order so that the party adversely affected therefrom may have a fair and reasonable opportunity of knowing that text, reasons and contents thereof so as to formulate grounds of attack before the appellant or higher forums. In the absence of such communication of signed and dated order, the party adversely affected by it will have no means of knowing the contents of the order so as to challenge the same and get it set aside by the appellate authority or the higher Forums.”

Hence the Commission reaffirmed the duty of District Fora to supply certified copies free of cost to the parties in interest of consumers. The revision petition was allowed and the State Commission was directed to decide the matter as per law. [Rita Kesh v. Biswanath Singha,2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 120, decided on 07-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of K. Somashekar, J., decided a criminal appeal, wherein order of acquittal of the accused passed by the trial court was upheld holding that the recovery of loan in the given case was hit by limitation.

The petitioner was prosecuted for offence punishable under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. The complainant alleged that the accused took a hand loan from him and issued cheques in lieu thereof. However, when the said cheques were presented in the bank, they were dishonoured and returned with a memo marked ‘insufficient funds’. The complainant issued a demand letter to the accused as required by the Act. However, the accused did not repay the loan even after the demand letter was issued to him. Consequently, the accused was prosecuted under the Act. The trial court, inter alia, found that the time gap between the giving of loan by the complainant to the accused and presenting of cheques for recovery thereof, was more than three years. Trial court held the case to be hit by limitation and acquitted the accused.

The High Court perused the record as well as provisions of the NI Act and the Limitation Act. The Court observed that the limitation period for recovery of a hand loan is three years from the date the loan is given. The Court found that, in the instant case, the loan was given in the year 2004 and the cheques were presented for its recovery only in the year 2008. The Court also held that there was no part repayment of the loan to the complainant by the accused, nor the accused acknowledged the presence of debt in this period to start a fresh period of limitation. The High Court, inter alia, held that the case of the complainant was barred by limitation of three years as provided in the Limitation Act.

Accordingly, the petition filed by the complainant against the order of acquittal of the accused passed by the trial court, was dismissed. [K.N. Raju v. Manjunath T.V., Crl. Appeal No. 302 of 2010, decided on 16.3.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: An order of revision of assessment passed against the petitioner by the Commissioner of Sales Tax was set aside by a Division Bench comprising of Vineet Saran, CJ and B.R. Sarangi, J., holding that under Rule 80 of the Orissa Sales Tax Rules, the revision proceedings has to be concluded within a period of three years as provided for in the said provision.
The petitioner was a registered dealer dealing in petrol, diesel, kendu leaves and jute. He was assessed for sales tax for the year 1991 by the Sales Tax Officer, who allowed a claim of exemption as prayed for by the petitioner. Subsequently, on receipt of opposition from the auditing party, such exemption was partly disallowed in the re-assessment proceeding on 25.08.1993. Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax re-opened the said assessment and on 05.09.1996, passed an order wherein the petitioner was held liable to pay the entire amount of exemption; under Rule 80 of the Orissa Sales Tax Rules. Against the said order, the petitioner preferred an appeal before the Commissioner of Sales Tax, who vide order dated 05.06.1999 dismissed the appeal. Hence, the petitioner filed the instant petition. Learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the order of revision was beyond the prescribed period of limitation as provided under Rule 80, which provides that a suo motu revision initiated by the Commissioner of Sales Tax has to be concluded within a period of three years from the passing of the order of Sales Tax Officer. On the contrary, the counsel for the respondent contended that the said period of limitation is only applicable for the initiation of proceedings and does not take into account its conclusion.
In order to settle the controversy, the High Court perused the provisions of the Orissa Sales Tax Act and Rules, and was of the opinion that Rule 80 of the OST Rules prescribes a limitation of three years in which the revision by the Commissioner of Sales Tax has to be initiated and concluded. The purpose of Rule 80 is to give finality to the suo motu proceedings initiated by the Assistant Commissioner in a specified period. Any interpretation contrary to the one that is mentioned above would mean that even though initiation of proceedings for revision may be done within three years, final order can be passed after years of such initiation which would keep the matter hanging for years together, which could not have been the intention of the Act.
In view of the aforesaid, the High Court was of the opinion that the order passed by the Assistant Commissioner as well as the Commissioner of Sales Tax mentioned above were beyond the period of limitation as provided for in the Orissa Sales Tax Rules. Hence, the said orders were quashed and the petition was allowed. [Sagarmal Agarwalla v. CST, 2018 SCC OnLine Ori 40, order dated 10-01-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: The Bench of Siddhartha Chattopadhyay,J. rejected a revisional application by holding that, if a statute specifies a maximum period of investigation, then the Court cannot take that right off and also the Court cannot direct any authority further, until the statutory period of limitation gets over.

A complaint was filed stating that a press conference was conducted by the opposite parties to malign some political parties  in which a few photographs were displayed of certain politicians offering sweets to each other and the said pictures were released in the public domain. In spite of complaining to several authorities and getting no satisfactory response and action being taken, this revisional application was filed.

The complainant reached Chief Metropolitan Magistrate with the same issue, for which the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate did not apply his mind and decided that the offence does not lie under the IT Act. The State finding was dismissed by the court at the initial stage of an issue.

Concluding the issue, the Court held that an issue like this requires scientific investigation, which clearly cannot be expected from a police officer, so for that reason the intimation given by O.C. cyber crime in regard to the legal opinion being sought on the same has to be due regarded and allegation on police for rejecting the complaint outright is not correct, as, cyber law is not dependent on any other code of law and further the Court has to also abide with the statutory limitation, as it cannot go beyond that, for which the investigation has to be concluded in terms of Section 167(5) CrPC. [Jay Prakash Majumdar v. State of West Bengal, 2017 SCC OnLine Cal 16163 decided on 05-12-2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A writ petition was filed to examine constitutional validity of Rule 63(4) of the Rajasthan Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2017 (the Rules of 2017). The sub-rule aforesaid provides that an appeal shall be filed within three months of the date of communication of the order appealed against, provided that an appeal may be admitted after the said period if the appellate authority is satisfied that the appellant has sufficient cause for not filing the appeal within the said period but the appeal shall not be admitted after expiry of six months from the date of order appealed against.
The learned counsel for the petitioner argued that under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and its corresponding Rules, there is no restriction for not entertaining an appeal after expiry of the extended three months. He also contended that the proviso to sub-rule (4) of Rule 63 of the Rules of 2017 was discriminatory as well as arbitrary to the extent it restrained from admitting an appeal after expiry of six months from the date of the order appealed against.

The High Court finding the argument of the learned counsel devoid of any merit and thus dismissing the writ petition, laid down that

“It is well settled that validity of a subordinate legislation can be challenged only if that lacks legislative competence, violates fundamental rights or any of the provisions of the Constitution of India, inconsistent with the provisions of the parent statute i.e. the statute under which subordinate legislation is made, or exists the limits of the authority conferred upon it by the parent statute and if such law is manifestly arbitrary or unreasonable to conclude that the legislature never intended to extend authority to make such rules/regulations. Rule 63 of the Rules of 2017 provides a remedy of appeal to the aggrieved person and as per its proviso the appellate authority is empowered to condone the delay up to the extent of three months beyond the limitation prescribed. The check for filing appeals subsequent thereto, in our considered opinion, is not at all unjust or arbitrary or is in conflict with any of the eventualities in which validity of a subordinate legislation can be challenged.”

[Suraj Mal v. State of Rajathan,  2017 SCC OnLine Raj 2598, decided on 14.10.2017]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The bench of L. Nageswara Rao and SA Bobde, JJ appointed Senior Advocate Amrender Sharan as amicus curiae to assist the Court in the plea seeking re-investigation of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.  The petition filed by Mumbai-based Dr Pankaj Phadnis, a researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, has sought reopening of the probe on several grounds, claiming it was one of the biggest cover-ups in history.

The bench that, while hearing the plea, said that nothing can be done in law in the case which has been decided long ago, told the amicus that this observation was not binding on him to make an assessment of the matter and posted it for further hearing on October 30.

The petitioner said that appeals filed by the convicts in the assassination case were dismissed in 1949 by the East Punjab High Court, following which the Privy Council had sent the matter back on the ground that the Supreme Court of India will come into existence in January 1950. He also said that another person might be involved in firing shots at Mahatma Gandhi. To which the Court responded by saying:

“You say that there was someone else, a third person who killed him (Gandhi). Is that person alive today to face the trial?”

The petitioner responded by saying that he did not know if that person is alive but investigation should be ordered to ascertain the truth. He also said that there was a possibility that the assassination was carried out by an organised body.

In the petition, the petitioner has also questioned the ‘three bullet theory’ relied upon by various courts of law to hold the conviction of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, who were hanged to death on November 15, 1949, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who was given the benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence. He has claimed that the Justice J L Kapur Commission of Inquiry set up in 1966 was not able to unearth the entire conspiracy that had led to the killing of Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead at point blank range in New Delhi on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Vinayak Godse.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Determining the period of limitation for filing a suit or claim under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, the bench of Kurian Joseph and R. Banumathi, JJ held that when a suit for compensation is filed under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, the same has to be filed within the period of two years as prescribed under Article 82 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

The Court was hearing the case where the deceased died due to electrocution after coming in contact with the live electricity wire while discharging his duties as a driver of a bus in the year 2008. His widow sought Rs.22,68,000/- towards damage under the 1855 Act, however, the District Judge dismissed the claim and held that as per Article 82 of the Limitation Act, 1963, the claim should have been presented within two years from the date of death of the person. The Rajasthan High Court also upheld the said decision.

The Supreme Court held that Part VII of the Schedule deals with the “suits relating to tort”, therefore, when a suit for compensation is filed under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, the same has to be filed within the period of two years as prescribed under Article 82 of the Limitation Act, 1963. However, the Court invoked it’s jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India and granted Rs. 7 lakhs as compensation. The Court gave the verdict after considering the peculiar facts of the case after taking note of the fact that Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited has a scheme under the Rules now applicable wherein the legal heirs of the deceased person are entitled to a one-time compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs. [Damini v. Managing Director, Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1105, decided on 14.09.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Deciding an important question of law as to whether provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 are applicable in respect of revision petition filed in the High Court under Section 81 of the Assam Value Added Tax Act, 2003 (VAT Act), the Court held that the court cannot interpret the law in such a manner so as to read into the Act an inherent power of condoning the delay by invoking Section 5 of the Limitation Act so as to supplement the provisions of the VAT Act which excludes the operation of Section 5 of the Limitation Act by necessary implications.

Taking note of the fact that Section 84 of the VAT Act made only Sections 4 and 12 of the Limitation Act applicable to the proceedings under the VAT Act, the Court noticed that the legislative intent behind the same was to exclude other provisions, including Section 5 of the Limitation Act. Section 29(2) stipulates that in the absence of any express provision in a special law, provisions of Sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act would apply. If the intention of the legislature was to make Section 5, or for that matter, other provisions of the Limitation Act applicable to the proceedings under the VAT Act, there was no necessity to make specific provision like Section 84 thereby making only Sections 4 and 12 of the Limitation Act applicable to such proceedings, in as much as these two Sections would also have become applicable by virtue of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act.

The bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and Abhay Manohar Sapre, JJ said that the VAT Act is a complete code not only laying down the forum but also prescribing the time limit within which each forum would be competent to entertain the appeal or revision. The underlying object of the Act appears to be not only to shorten the length of the proceedings initiated under the different provisions contained therein, but also to ensure finality of the decision made there under. Hence, the application of Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 to a proceeding under Section 81(1) of the VAT Act stands excluded by necessary implication, by virtue of the language employed in section 84. [Patel Brothers v. State of Assam, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 19, decided on 04.01.2017]