Legal RoundUpWeekly Rewind


Top Story of the Week


Aadhaar Card for Sex Workers| Supreme Court bats for sex workers’ right to dignity; directs UIDAI to issue Aadhaar Card without insisting on address proof 

The Supreme Court has upheld sex workers right to identity and issued detailed directions for their protection and upliftment. The directions ranged from prohibiting police actions against consenting sex workers, police and medical protections for sex workers being victim of sexual assault, holding media accountable for voyeurism on revealing identity of sex workers to directing UIDAI to issue Adhar Card for them without insisting on address proof. 

It was observed that  

“…basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children, who, bearing the brunt of social stigma attached to their work, are removed to the fringes of the society, deprived of their right to live with dignity and opportunities to provide the same to their children.” 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/26/aadhaar-sex-workers-without-address-proof-supreme-court-india-judgement-legal-news-updates-research-rights/  


Supreme Court


Insurance companies refusing claims on flimsy/technical grounds must stop! Don’t ask for documents that insured can’t produce 

Insurance companies refusing claims on flimsy/technical grounds must stop! This is what the Supreme Court observed while dealing with  a case where an Insurance Company had refused to settle an insurance claim on non-submission of the duplicate certified copy of certificate of registration of the stolen vehicle. The COurt held that while settling the claims, the insurance company should not be too technical and ask for the documents, which the insured is not in a position to produce due to circumstances beyond his control. 

The Court was dealing with a case where a truck was stolen when and the Court observed the appellant had produced the photocopy of certificate of registration and the registration particulars as provided by the RTO, solely on the ground that the original certificate of registration (which has been stolen) is not produced, non-settlement of claim can be said to be deficiency in service. Therefore, the appellant has been wrongly denied the insurance claim. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/23/insurance-claim-rejection-technical-ground-insurance-company-non-production-document-supreme-court-india-judgments-mr-shah-legal-reserach-updates-news/  

Hindu widow’s pre-existing right to maintenance automatically ripens into full ownership when she is in settled legal possession of the property 

Observing that a Hindu woman’s right to maintenance is not an empty formality, the Supreme Court has held that by virtue of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the Hindu widow’s limited interest gets automatically enlarged into an absolute right, when such property is possessed by her whether acquired before or after the commencement of 1956 Act in lieu of her right to maintenance. 

Where a Hindu widow is found to be in exclusive settled legal possession of the HUF property, that itself would create a presumption that such property was earmarked for realization of her pre-existing right of maintenance, more particularly when the surviving co-parcener did not earmark any alternative property for recognizing her pre-existing right of maintenance. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/25/hindu-woman-right-to-maintenance-settled-possession-absolute-ownership-section-14-hindu-succession-act-supreme-court-judgment-india-legal-research-updates-news/  

IGST on Ocean Freight for imports unconstitutional; Won’t create a level playing field but will drive Indian shipping lines out of business 

In the case where the constitutionality of two Central Government notifications related to IGST was under scanner, the Supreme Court has held that since the Indian importer is liable to pay IGST on the ‘composite supply’, comprising of supply of goods and supply of services of transportation, insurance, etc. in a CIF contract, a separate levy on the Indian importer for the ‘supply of services’ by the shipping line would be in violation of Section 8 of the CGST Act. 

The Court observed that, 

“If Indian shipping lines continue to be taxed and not their competitors, it would drive the Indian shipping lines out of business.” 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/21/igst-ocean-freight-imports-unconstituional-indian-importers-shipping-lines-supreme-court-india-legal-research-updates-tax-law-news/  


High Courts


Kerala High Court| Right of Press to report truthfully and faithfully; Press shall NOT indulge in sensationalism

Stating that, though the Press has a duty to inform the public, the Division Bench of Devan Ramachandran and Sophy Thomas, JJ., observed that, it is the well-accepted thumb rule that the Press shall not indulge in sensationalism; or in speculating upon the guilt or otherwise of any accused or other individual; or to create an opinion about the comportment or character of a person involved in the Trial; and not to embellish, by impelling or sponsoring an opinion they seek. 

High Court also observed that,

“Press has a duty to inform the public, the publication of lurid details and other sensitive investigative inputs, which are within the sole jurisdiction of the courts to decide upon, certainly require to be put on a tight leash.” 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/25/right-of-press-to-report-truthfully-and-faithfully-legal-news-legal-updates-law-kerala-highcourt/

Chhattisgarh High Court| Would pledge of ornaments kept for marriage of a daughter and use for self without knowledge of husband would amount to cruelty? 

In a matter pertaining to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Kerala HC, expressed that, if a spouse by her own conduct, without caring about the future of the daughter, parts with ornaments which were meant for the marriage, it will be within the ambit of mental cruelty done by the wife. 

The Bench also added to its observation that, during the marriage ceremony in the Indian household, the presentation of the ornament is normally done for which the parents start the effort, from an early date. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/24/would-pledge-of-ornaments-kept-for-marriage-of-a-daughter-and-use-for-self-without-knowledge-of-husband-would-amount-to-cruelty-chhattisgarh-high-court-law-legal-news-legal-updates/ 

P&H High Court| Can an act of dissent be labeled as sedition? 

Expressing that, in a democratic set-up, there always would be voices of dissent and opinions against rules and protest against actions, P&H HC, observed that, some protests may have aggression but still an act of dissent would not be ordinarily labeled as sedition. 

Bench added to its observation that, to attract an offence such as Section 124-A IPC, there must be deliberate resistance and conscious defiance of authority with a conceived plan aimed to unsettle elected government. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/26/can-an-act-of-dissent-be-labelled-as-sedition-punjab-and-haryana-high-court-law-legal-news-legal-updates/ 

Delhi High Court| Once tenant starts paying rent, can he/she turn around and challenge title of landlord? 

In a matter with regard to the grant of leave to defend, Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that, the tenant cannot merely make allegations that the landlord has other premises without producing some material to substantiate the same. 

High Court added to its observations that, it is a well-settled position that a tenant may take all kinds of pleas in its application for leave to defend but the Rent Controller has to ensure that the purpose of Chapter III of the Rent Control Act is not defeated by granting leave to defend in every frivolous plea raised by the tenant which may result in protracting the case. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/27/once-tenant-starts-paying-rent-can-he-she-turn-around-and-challenge-title-of-landlord-delhi-high-court-law-legalnews-legal-updates/ 


Legislations


Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance Base Premium and Liability) Rules, 2022 

On May 25, 2022, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in consultation with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, has published Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance Base Premium and Liability) Rules, 2022 in order to revise the base premium for third party insurance for unlimited liability. The rules shall come into force on 1st June, 2022. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/26/base-premium-for-third-party-insurance-for-unlimited-liability-revised-vide-motor-vehicles-third-party-insurance-base-premium-and-liability-rules-2022/  

IFSCA (Fund Management) Regulations, 2022 

The International Financial Services Centers Authority has revised the Application and Registration Fee under IFSCA (Fund Management) Regulations, 2022. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/23/fee-structure-under-ifsca-fund-management-regulations-2022-revised/  


New Releases 


 

Legal RoundUpSupreme Court Roundups

Unmissable Stories


Sedition Law under scanner| All pending cases to be kept in abeyance; Centre/States urged not to register fresh cases till Section 124A is reviewed

“…we expect that, till the re-examination of the provision is complete, it will be appropriate not to continue the usage of the aforesaid provision of law by the Governments.”

Read more…

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COVID-19| No individual can be forced to be vaccinated; holds Supreme Court. Restrictions on unvaccinated persons to be revised for now

“This judgment is not to be construed as impeding, in any manner, the lawful exercise of power by the executive to take suitable measures for prevention of infection and transmission of the virus in public interest, which may also take the form of restrictions on unvaccinated people in the future, if the situation so warrants.”

Read more…

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Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Supreme Court sets AG Perarivalan free after 32 years of incarceration

Perarivalan’s petition under Article 161 remained pending for two and a half years following the recommendation of the State Cabinet for remission of his sentence and continued to remain pending for over a year since the reference by the Governor.

Read more…

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Navjot Singh Sidhu to undergo one-year rigorous imprisonment in 1988 road rage case

“A disproportionately light punishment humiliates and frustrates a victim of crime when the offender goes unpunished or is let off with a relatively minor punishment as the system pays no attention to the injured’s feelings.”

Read more…

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Aadhaar Card for Sex Workers| Supreme Court bats for sex workers’ right to dignity; directs UIDAI to issue Aadhaar Card without insisting on address proof

“…basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children, who, bearing the brunt of social stigma attached to their work, are removed to the fringes of the society, deprived of their right to live with dignity and opportunities to provide the same to their children.”

Read more…

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‘Shivling’ in Gyanvapi Mosque a complex

‘Protect ‘Shivling’ but don’t stop Namaz’

Also read: SC transfers the matter to a senior and experienced District Judge

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Hindu widow’s pre-existing right to maintenance automatically ripens into full ownership when she is in settled legal possession of the property

“There remains no shadow of doubt that a Hindu woman’s right to maintenance was not and is not an empty formality or an illusory claim being conceded as a matter of grace and generosity. It is a tangible right against the property, which flows from the spiritual relationship between the husband and the wife.”

Read more…

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Right to residence under DV Act not restricted to actual residence; Domestic relationship not necessary to be subsisting at the time of filing of application

The expression ‘right to reside in the shared household’ would include not only actual residence but also constructive residence in the shared household.

Read more…

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No universal rule to fill vacancies on the basis of the law which existed on the date when they arose; Supreme Court overrules 1983’s YV Rangaiah ruling

Noticing that a number of decisions have followed the decision in Rangaiah but far more decisions have distinguished it, the Supreme Court decided to examine the issue afresh and came to the conclusion that the broad proposition formulated in Rangaiah did not reflect the correct constitutional position.

Read more…

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IGST on Ocean Freight for imports unconstitutional

“If Indian shipping lines continue to be taxed and not their competitors, namely, the foreign shipping lines, the margins arising out of taxation from GST would not create a level playing field and drive the Indian shipping lines out of business.”

Read more…

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Sheena Bora murder| Indrani Mukerjea gets bail after being in custody for 6.5 years

Indrani is charged of kidnapping her daughter with intention to murder and committing murder after entering into a criminal conspiracy.

Read more…

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Supreme Court grants interim bail to SP Leader Azam Khan; Directs him to seek regular bail within two weeks

Taking into consideration the delay in implication of Azam Khan and the nature of the allegations made therein, the Court was of the view that it will not be in the interest of justice to deprive him of his personal liberty, particularly when in respect of 87 criminal cases/FIRs, he has already been released on bail.

Read more…

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Case load on NGT low, No need to set up Benches in every State; High Court’s jurisdiction unaffected: Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of NGT Act

The seat of the NGT benches can be located as per exigencies and it is not necessary to locate them in every State.

Read more…

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Over 90, 000 Reassessment Notices issued after April 1, 2021 saved as Supreme Court directs them to be treated as notices under Section 148A of Income Tax Act

The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has modified the order passed by the Allahabad High Court wherein it had quashed several reassessment notices issued by the Revenue, issued under section 148 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, on the ground that the same are bad in law in view of the amendment by the Finance Act, 2021 which has amended Income Tax Act by introducing  new provisions i.e. sections 147to151 w.e.f. 1st April, 2021.

Read more…


Most Read Story of the Month


Cheque issued as a security and not in discharge of legally recoverable debt; Is the contention sufficient to quash proceedings under N.I. Act at pre-trial stage? SC examines

“The quashing proceedings must not become an expedition into the merits of factual dispute, so as to conclusively vindicate either the complainant or the defence.”

Read more…


Explainers



More Stories


Insurance companies refusing claims on flimsy/technical grounds must stop! Don’t ask for documents that insured can’t produce

In a case where an Insurance Company had refused to settle an insurance claim on non-submission of the duplicate certified copy of certificate of registration of the stolen vehicle, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that while settling the claims, the insurance company should not be too technical and ask for the documents, which the insured is not in a position to produce due to circumstances beyond his control.

Read more…

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Change of venue does not result in change of the seat of arbitration

The Court held that holding otherwise would create a recipe for litigation and (what is worse) confusion which was not intended by the Act.

Read more…

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Land Acquisition| Compensation under 2013 Act cannot be claimed if award under 1894 Act couldn’t be passed due to pendency of proceedings or interim stay

“The intention of the Parliament while enacting Section 24(1) of the Act, 2013 cannot be to give benefit to a litigant, who has obtained a stay order and because of that the award could not be declared and thereafter the litigant may be awarded the compensation as per Act, 2013.”

Read more…

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Showing undue favour to a party under the guise of passing judicial orders is the worst kind of judicial dishonesty

“A judge must decide the case on the basis of the facts on record and the law applicable to the case. If he decides a case for extraneous reasons, then he is not performing his duties in accordance with law. As often quoted, a judge, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion.”

Read more…

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Minority Status of Hindus in some States: SC directs Centre to have detailed deliberation with States and other stakeholders

The Court has directed the Central Government to undertake the necessary exercise and file a status report at least 3 days before the next date of hearing i.e. August 30, 2022.

Read more…

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Pawnee recording self as “beneficial owner” is a necessary condition to exercise right to sell pledged good; it does not amount to “actual sale”

“Every transfer or sale is not ‘actual sale’ for the purpose of Section 177 of the Contract Act. To equate ‘sale’ with ‘actual sale’ would negate the legislative intent.”

Read more…

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COVID-19 affecting education| No registration of Doctors without practical training. Foreign Institute MBBS students must first undergo training in India

“No doubt, the pandemic has thrown new challenges to the entire world including the students but granting provisional registration to complete internship to a student who has not undergone clinical training would be compromising with the health of the citizens of any country and the health infrastructure at large.”

Read more…

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Non-execution of Arbitration Award even after 30 years-long delay: SC slams Allahabad High Court; U.P. Government to consider constituting four Additional Commercial Courts

“If, the commercial disputes are not decided/ disposed of at the earliest, it may ultimately affect the economy of the country and may spoil the business relations between the parties.”

Read more…

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AIIMS to follow roster point-based reservation for preferential candidates

In a relief to students seeking admission in AIIMS Institutes, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao and AS Bopanna, JJ has directed that a roster point-based reservation for preferential candidates as followed by Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) shall be implemented in all the AIIMS institutes.

Read more…

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SC to decide if a non-member director barred from approaching NCLT alleging oppression/mismanagement under Section 430 of Companies Act

The question of law before the Court was whether a non-member/non-shareholder director is barred from raising a dispute regarding oppression/mismanagement and the illegal appointments of directors before the Civil Court u/s 430 of the Companies Act, 2013?

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Whether there should be any “Cooling off Period” for civil servants to contest elections post resignation/retirement? Best left to the Legislature concerned, says Supreme Court

“The allegations of bureaucrats deviating from strict norms of political neutrality with a view to obtaining party tickets to contest elections, is vague, devoid of particulars and unsupported by any materials which could justify intervention of this Court.”

Read more…

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The Election cannot brook any delay! SC directs Maharashtra Election Commission to conduct local elections on the basis of pre-amendment delimitation

The Bench comprising of A.M. Khanwilkar, Abhay S. Oka and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., directed Maharashtra State Election Commission to expeditiously conduct elections of local bodies (around 2486), which were pending for over 2 years (in some cases) due to disputed constitutional validity of State Amendments seeking to introduce delimitation in the State.

Read more…

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SC finds Kerala Govt’s failure to compensate 3700 Endosulfan victims for 5 years appalling; says “without health, the faculties of living have little meaning”

“The failure to redress the infringement of their fundamental rights becomes more egregious with each passing day.”

Read more…

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It isn’t the purpose of grace marks to allow reserved category candidate to switch over to general category

The Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., reversed the impugned order of the Rajasthan High Court whereby the High Court had directed  Income Tax Department to grant grace marks to the applicant and treat him as a person belonging to general category.

Read more…

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Person languishes in jail for 2 years despite being granted bail by Supreme Court; Supreme Court criticizes Trial Judge for misinterpreting bail order

“… where the custody of a person for 9 years was found to be sufficient to entitle him to be released on bail, is now turned into custody for 11 years. This is nothing but  reincarnation of Hussainara Khatoon[1] & Motil Ram[2].”

Read more…

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Male Head Constable enters Mahila Barrack at 00:15 hours; is punishment of removal from service too harsh? SC tells what makes the punishment disproportionate

“…merely because one of the employees was inflicted with a lesser punishment cannot be a ground to hold the punishment imposed on another employee as disproportionate, if in case of another employee higher punishment is warranted and inflicted by the disciplinary authority after due application of mind.”

Read more…

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Maternal uncle rapes his 14-year-old niece; will subsequent act of him marrying prosecutrix extinguish all criminal liabilities?

“This Court cannot shut its eyes to the ground reality and disturb the happy family life of the appellant and the prosecutrix”.

Read more…

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Mere suppression of criminal antecedent regardless of whether there is a conviction or acquittal should not axiomatically lead to termination of service just by a stroke of pen

The Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi* and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ., reversed the impugned order of Delhi High Court whereby the High Court had upheld the dismissal order of appellant owing to suppression of information/false declaration in the verification form regarding criminal antecedent.

Read more…

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Double Insurance–Overlapping policies: Grant of actual loss from one insurer will forfeit right to claim from other insurer; SC rejects Levi’s’ insurance claim

“What is in issue in this present case has been characterized as “double insurance”, i.e., where an entity seeks to cover risks for the same or similar incidents through two different – overlapping policies.”

Read more…

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Kerala Revocation of Arbitration Clauses and Reopening of Awards Act, 1998 encroaches upon the judicial power of the State; held unconstitutional

The bench of L. Nageswara Rao* and BR Gavai, JJ has held that the Kerala Revocation of Arbitration Clauses and Reopening of Awards Act, 1998 encroaches upon the judicial power of the State and hence, is liable to be declared unconstitutional.

Read more…

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Dilapidated structure on Bhilwara’s Tiranga Hill cannot be conferred a status of a Mosque in absence of any proof; Jindal Saw to go ahead with mining

In the absence of any proof of dedication or user, a dilapidated wall or a platform cannot be conferred a status of a religious place for the purpose of offering prayers/Namaaz.

Read more…

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“An opinion accompanied by inadequate reasoning would not satisfy the requirements of Section 432 (2), CrPC”, SC directs presiding officer to reconsider remission application

“Section 432 (2) of the CrPC would stand defeated if the opinion of the presiding judge becomes just another factor that may be taken into consideration by the government while deciding the application for remission.”

Read more…

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Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican Conservation: Supreme Court directs installation of bird divertors in  priority areas within three months

The petitioners were environmentalists who had approached the Court to seek directions for protecting the rare birds which are dwindling in number; particularly direction to prohibit use of overhead power lines which have become a hazard as the said species of birds are getting killed on collision with the power lines.

Read more…


Cases Reported in SCC


2022 SCC Vol. 3 Part 4

In Part 4 of 2022 SCC Volume 3, read some very pertinent Supreme Court decisions, involving aspects regarding reservation, accountability of social media platforms, service law and more.

2022 SCC Vol. 3 Part 5

Read four articles and nine significant decisions of Supreme Court in Part 5 of 2022 SCC Volume 3.

2022 SCC Vol. 4 Part 1

In 2022 SCC Volume 4 Part 1, read a very interesting case, wherein the grievance of the builder was that out of total of 1134 apartments constructed and sold by them, the owners of merely 51 apartments have joined together and invoked the jurisdiction of the National Consumer Commission and that such a miniscule percentage of consumers cannot seek to file the complaint in a representative capacity. To know what happened in this case, read the Supreme Court decision in Brigade Enterprises Ltd. v. Anil Kumar Virmani(2022) 4 SCC 138

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi*, JJ has held that by virtue of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the Hindu widow’s limited interest gets automatically enlarged into an absolute right, when such property is possessed by her whether acquired before or after the commencement of 1956 Act in lieu of her right to maintenance.

The Court, in the case at hand, was concerned with the claim of one Bhonri Devi of having become the full owner in respect of the suit property on the ground that she was in settled legal possession of the suit property before and after the commencement of the Act, in lieu of her pre-existing right of maintenance, and such limited ownership right had fructified into full ownership by virtue of Section 14(1) of the 1956 Act.

Dhannalalji, the husband of Bhonri Devi expired in 1936, Ganeshnarayanji, the father-in-law of Bhonri Devi expired in 1938 and Harinarayanji, the brother of Ganeshnarayanji died on 11.11.1953. Daulalji was adopted by Sri Bakshji in the year 1916. Harinarayanji, Ganeshnarayanji and Sri Bakshji had common ancestor Gopalji. The suit property was an ancestral property in the hands of Harinarayanji and Ganeshnarayanji. Bhonri Devi was staying in the suit property before the death of Harinarayanji, and after his death she was in possession and in charge of the said property, and was maintaining herself by collecting rent from the tenants who were occupying part of the suit property.

The Rajasthan High Court while discussing about the right of a Hindu widow to the property, observed that the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937 was in force in the year 1937 when Ganeshnarayanji, father-in-law of Bhonri Devi expired in 1938, and that even prior to the said Act of 1937, the right of Hindu widow was recognised as per the old shastric customs prevalent in the area.

From the plain reading of Section 14(1) along with the Explanation thereto, the Court explained that in order to become a full owner and not a limited owner, of a property by virtue of Section 14(1), a female Hindu, before or after the commencement of Act of 1956, must be in possession of the property, and it must have been acquired by her by inheritance or devise, or at a partition, or in lieu of maintenance, or arrears of maintenance or by gift from any person, whether a relative or not, before, at or after her marriage or by her own skill or exertion or by purchase or by prescription, or in any other manner whatsoever, or any such property must have been held by her as stridhana immediately before the commencement of the Act.

The Supreme Court was of the opinion that the Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act, 1937 conferred right on Hindu widow to the property of her husband, who died after the commencement of the said Act of 1937 and not prior thereto. Bhonri Devi’s husband Dhannalalji having expired in 1936, the said Act of 1937 would not be applicable to facts of the case. However, prior to the said Act of 1937, the right to maintenance of Hindu widow was recognised in Shastric law.

“There remains no shadow of doubt that a Hindu woman’s right to maintenance was not and is not an empty formality or an illusory claim being conceded as a matter of grace and generosity. It is a tangible right against the property, which flows from the spiritual relationship between the husband and the wife.”

The said right was recognised and enjoined by pure Shastric Hindu Law, which existed even before the passing of the 1937 or the 1946 Acts. Those Acts merely gave statutory backing recognising the position as was existing under the Shastric Hindu Law.

“Where a Hindu widow is in possession of the property of her husband or of the husband’s HUF, she has a right to be maintained out of the said property. She is entitled to retain the possession of that property in lieu of her right to maintenance. Section 14(1) and the Explanation thereto envisages liberal construction in favour of the females, with the object of advancing and promoting the socio-economic ends sought to be achieved by the said legislation.”

It was further explained that the Hindu woman’s right to maintenance is a tangible right against the property which flows from the spiritual relationship between the husband and the wife. Such right was recognized and enjoined under the Shastric Hindu Law, long before the passing of the 1937 and the 1946 Acts. Where a Hindu widow is found to be in exclusive settled legal possession of the HUF property, that itself would create a presumption that such property was earmarked for realization of her pre-existing right of maintenance, more particularly when the surviving co-parcener did not earmark any alternative property for recognizing her pre-existing right of maintenance.

The Court, further, explained that the words “possessed by” used in Section 14(1) are of the widest possible amplitude and include the state of owning a property, even though the Hindu woman is not in actual or physical possession of the same. Of course, it is equally well settled that the possession of the widow, must be under some vestige of a claim, right or title, because the section does not contemplate the possession of any rank trespasser without any right or title.

The Court held that Bhonri devi’s pre-existing right to maintenance, coupled with her settled legal possession of the property, would be sufficient to create a presumption that she had a vestige of right or claim in the property, though no document was executed or specific charge was created in her favour recognizing her right to maintenance in the property.

[Munni Devi v. Rajendra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 643, decided on 18.05.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Bela M. Trivedi


Counsels

For appellants: Advocate Puneet Jain

For respondents: Senior Advocate Pallav Shishodia

Case BriefsHigh Courts

In 2013, Gujarat High Court addressed a case wherein a son audaciously suggested that his parents should move to and stay in an old-age home instead of claiming an order of “care, protection and maintenance”.

The petitioner who was the father along with his wife used to live in the village and were not keeping well, health-wise, hence they claimed in the Court that their son shall be directed to provide proper maintenance, care and protection.

Father alleged that his younger son does not help him and his wife in any manner and he also does not provide for their maintenance.

From the opposing application, it emerged that the expenditure towards medicines of the applicant and his wife were being reimbursed, however, the applicant had emphatically denied and asserted that the said expenses are not being reimbursed and he has to meet with all expenses including the expenditure towards medicines for himself and his wife out of his pension-amount and he does not have any other income/source of income except pension.

It was not in dispute that the respondent does not stay with his parents and from the material on record it does not come out that he is extending any care or help to his parents and/or he does not provide for, or does not even contribute anything for, their maintenance.

High Court noted that the father does not receive any monetary help from his children and he does not have any other income to maintain himself and his wife to meet with their regular domestic expenses as well as the expenditure towards their medicines.

Additionally, the Court expressed that the applicant and his wife do not get any physical or emotional care, protection and support or any monetary help from their two children and their families.

Section 4 of the Act prescribes that the obligation of the children or the relative to maintain parent or senior citizen extends to the “needs” or parent’s or senior citizens so that he/they may lad a “normal life” and the conferment of the right to claim maintenance under the Act is not restricted qua only biological or adopted children but it is also extended, in specified cases, qua relative/s as well.

The above-said obligation was not restricted only to provide bare minimum maintenance, but the Act imposes obligation to also provide “all needs” of such citizen so that he may lead a “normal life” and to also provide food, clothing, residence, medical attendance and treatment.

The above-said expression ‘lead normal life’ would include all requirements of parents, i.e., physical needs as well as emotional needs.

It is pertinent that the pecuniary limit as regards the amount which can be awarded as maintenance allowance does not regulate the provision under section 4 of the Act and the provision under section 4 of the Act is not dependent on section 9 or pecuniary limit prescribed by the Rule 5 of the said Rules. It is neither the scope nor effect nor object of section 9 to regulate and/or restrict the scope or operation of Section 4 of the Act.

Parents’ right to Maintenance

High Court expressed that,

The right of the parent or senior citizen to make an application for maintenance, if such parent or senior citizen is not able to maintain himself from his own earning cannot be denied/taken away or curtailed by applying and superimposing the pecuniary limit prescribed for the purpose of Section 9 of the Act.

Further, with regard to awarding more amount, Court held that the applicant has to satisfy the competent authority that having regard to his requirements to lead a normal life as contemplated under Section 4 of the Act, his income is insufficient and he needs more amount/assistance from his children so that he can maintain himself and lead a normal life.

“…merely because, income of the applicant appears to be more than the pecuniary limit prescribed for the purpose of section 9 of the Act, the authority cannot refuse to entertain and decide an application and pass appropriate order.”

The petition was accepted and allowed.[Parmar Dahyabhai Hemabhai v. Parmar Prakashbhai Dahyabhai, 2013 SCC OnLine Guj 749, decided on 4-3-2013]


Advocates before the Court:

MR YH MOTIRAMANI, ADVOCATE for the Petitioner(s) No. 1
MS E.SHAILAJA, ADVOCATE for the Respondent(s) No. 1

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: In a significant case regarding Right to maintenance of child born out of inter-faith marriage, the Division Bench of Dr. Kausar Edappagath and A. Muhamed Mustaque JJ., held that the child being non sui juris, the State and the Courts as Parens Patriae are bound to protect it irrespective of law being silent in this regard. The Bench expressed,

“We see no reason to deny the children born to an inter-faith couple legal right to claim maintenance from their father for the reason that there is no specific statutory provision mandating such a father to maintain his children.”

Background

The inter-faith couple, (husband being a Hindu and wife a Muslim) entered into wedlock in 1987 and a girl child-respondent 1 was born to them who was brought up as a Muslim.

The root of the instant case was originated at the Family Court, Nedumangad, where a petition was filed by the respondent 1 against the couple claiming past and future maintenance, educational and marriage expenses invoking the provisions of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. Evidently, the appellant-husband had alone contested the matter at the Family Court on the ground that the petition invoking provisions of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 was not maintainable.

Findings of the Family Court

The family court, after the analyzing the evidences on record, found that the first respondent had an upbringing of that of a Hindu as her father; the appellant herein was a Hindu. Accordingly, holding that the respondent 1 was entitled to all the reliefs as claimed by her from her parents, the Family Court awarded a decree for Rs. 1,08,000 towards past maintenance, Rs. 14,66,860 towards marriage expenses and Rs. 96,000 towards educational expenses with interest.

Observations and Findings

Does father of a child born out of an inter–faith marriage have legal obligation to maintain it in the absence of a statutory stipulation?

Evidently, after 3 years of age the first respondent was brought up as Muslim by her maternal grandparents as the appellant had left their company and later on, the respondent 2 married another person. Moreover, the respondent 1 was married to a Muslim man as per Muslim rites.  Therefore, the Bench opined that the findings of the Family Court that the respondent 1 was brought up as a Hindu and, hence, the provisions of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 would apply could not be sustained. Similarly, the Muslim Personal Law also could not be applied since both parties were not Muslims. Further, the Bench expressed,

“There is no substantive law mandating a father of a child born out of an inter–religion marriage to maintain it. The Special Marriage Act, 1984 is silent on this.”

However, opining that every child born to this world is entitled to be maintained and since, father is recognized as the guardian, he is under a duty to maintain and protect the child, the Bench applied the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to hold that every child has the right to survival, protection and education. In Mathew Varghese v. Rosamma Varghese, (2003 KHC 362), it was held that every father whatever be his religious denomination and faith has the indisputable liability to maintain his child.

Further, every child irrespective of his race, caste or religion has a remedy by way of a suit or petition under S. 9 and O. XXXII A of the CPC and Section 7(1)(e) of the Family Courts Act, 1984 to claim maintenance. A criminal liability is imposed by Section 125 of CrPC to a father irrespective of the faith or religion professed by him to maintain his children.

Therefore, opining that the caste, faith or religion cannot have any rational basis for determining the parental duty of a father and all the children have to be treated alike irrespective of the faith or religion professed by the parents, the Bench held that the children of an inter-faith couple are entitled to be maintained by their father where son’s entitlement is until he attains the age of the majority and that of daughter’s is until she gets married.

Whether Right to maintenance includes marriage expenses as well?

In Mathew Varghese’s case, while deciding the question whether a Muslim father is liable under Personal Law to meet the marriage expenses of his unmarried daughter, the Supreme Court had held that maintenance is the right of the child and such maintenance does and must include all expenses for the mental and physical well being of the child and so far as unmarried daughter is concerned, her marriage is also something essential for the mental and physical well being.

In so far as the Hindu father is concerned, Section 3(b) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 which obliges the father to maintain his unmarried daughter specifically includes the right of the claimant for marriage expenses. Therefore, the Bench concluded that an unmarried daughter born to an inter religious couple is entitled to marriage expenses from her father.

Conclusion

Emphasising that an unmarried daughter cannot ask or compel her father to conduct marriage in a lavish or luxurious manner and a father cannot be fastened with the liability to bear the amount spent by the daughter lavishly according to her whims and fancies, the Bench ruled that the Court can only award bare minimum reasonable expenses, that too only if the father has requisite means and the daughter is dependent on him.

Regarding the facts, the respondent 1 had claimed Rs. 25,00,000 towards marriage expenses and the Family Court had granted Rs. 14,66,860 for the same, the Bench observed that all the bills except three of marriage expenses were for the purchase of gold ornaments and the total of actual expense incurred for marriage would come to Rs. 1,73,150. Therefore, the Bench concluded that a sum of Rs. 3,00,000 would be just and reasonable towards the marriage expenses since there is no concept of dowry in a Muslim Marriage and no obligation for the father to pay any money, gold or sthreedhanam to his daughter.

Accordingly, the amount granted by the Family Court towards the marriage expenses was modified and the impugned judgment was partly upheld to the extent it provided maintenance of Rs. 5,000 and education expenses of Rs. 96,000 (the amount actually spent on the education of respondent 1). [J.W Aragadhan v. Hashmi N.S, Mat. Appeal No. 65 of 2015, Decided on 03-12-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Advocate Nirmal S.

For the Respondents: Advocate G.  Ranju Mohan, Advocate K.V Samudra and Advocate M. Samthi

Legislation UpdatesStatutes/Bills/Ordinances

Governor of Madhya Pradesh promulgates the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020.

Purpose of this Ordinance

To provide freedom of religion by prohibiting conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, allurement, use of threat or force, undue influence, coercion, marriage or any fraudulent means and for the matters connected therewith.

Prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to other religions [Section 3]

The said ordinance states that no person shall:

  • Convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person by use of misrepresentation, allurement, use of threat or force, undue influence, coercion or marriage or by any other fraudulent means;
  • Abet or conspire such conversion

Complaint against conversion of religion [Section 4]

No police officer shall inquire or investigate except upon written complaint of a person converted in contravention of Section 3 above or his parents or siblings or with leave of the Court by any other person who is related by blood, marriage or adoption, guardianship or custodianship as may be applicable.

Punishment for contravention of provisions of Section 3 [Section 5]

Imprisonment for a term not less than one year but which may extend to 5 years and the person shall also be liable to not less than Rs 25,000 fine.

There are certain proviso clauses mentioned under the said Section.

Marriages performed with the intent to convert a person shall be null and void [Section 6]

Marriages performed in contravention of Section 3 shall be deemed to be null and void.

Jurisdiction of Court [Section 7]

To declare the marriage null and void, the petition shall be presented by any person mentioned in Section 4 before the family court or where a family court is not established, the Court having jurisdiction of a family court within the local limits wherein, —

  • The marriage was solemnized or
  • Respondent at the time of the presentation resides or
  • Either parties to the marriage last resided together or
  • Where the petitioner is residing on the date of presentation of the petition.

Inheritance Right [Section 8]

Child born out of a marriage performed in contravention of Section 3 will be legitimate and succession to the property by such child shall be regulated according to the law governing inheritance of the father.

Right to Maintenance [Section 9]

Woman whose marriage is declared null and void under Section 7, children born out of that marriage shall be entitled to maintenance.

Declaration before conversion of religion [Section 10]

Any person who desires to convert shall submit a declaration to that effect 60 days prior to such conversion to the District Magistrate stating his desire to convert without any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement.

Section 11 states the punishment for violation of provisions of Ordinance by an institution or organization.

Burden of Proof [Section 12]

Burden of Proof as to whether a conversion was not effected through misrepresentation, allurement, use of force, threat of force, undue influence, coercion or by marriage or any other fraudulent means done for the purpose of carrying out conversion lies on the accused.

Investigation [Section 14]

No police officer below the rank of sub-inspector of police shall investigate any offence registered under the ordinance.


Also Read:

Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion | Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 [Brief Explainer]