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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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: In a case where the bench of S. Ravindra Bhat* and PS Narsimha, JJ was posed with the question as to whether the State can, merely on the ground of delay and laches, evade its legal responsibility towards those from whom private property has been expropriated, answering in negative, the bench held that the State cannot shield itself behind the ground of delay and laches as there cannot be a ‘limitation’ to doing justice.

Factual Background

The State of Himachal Pradesh utilised the subject land and adjoining lands for the construction of the ‘Narag Fagla Road’ in 1972-73, but allegedly no land acquisition proceedings were initiated, nor compensation given to the appellants or owners of the adjoining land.

Pursuant to a judgment by the Himachal Pradesh High Court directing the State to initiate land acquisition proceedings, a notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereafter ‘Act’) was issued on 16.10.2001 (published on 30.10.2001) and the award was passed on 20.12.2001 fixing compensation at ₹30,000 per bigha.

After a writ petition by similarly situated land owners was allowed by the High Court with the direction to acquire lands of the writ petitioners under the Act, with consequential benefits, the appellants approached the High Court in 2011, seeking compensation for the subject land or initiation of acquisition proceedings under the Act.

Relying on a Full bench decision of the High Court, it was held by the High Court in the impugned judgment that the matter involved disputed questions of law and fact for determination on the starting point of limitation, which could not be adjudicated in writ proceedings. The writ petition was disposed of, with liberty to file a civil suit in accordance with law.

Analysis

Right to property – Importance

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

When it comes to the subject of private property, this court has upheld the high threshold of legality that must be met, to dispossess an individual of their property, and even more so when done by the State.

Can the State, merely on the ground of delay and laches, evade its legal responsibility towards those from whom private property has been expropriated?

The Court considered the facts of the present case that revealed that the State has, in a clandestine and arbitrary manner, actively tried to limit disbursal of compensation as required by law, only to those for which it was specifically prodded by the courts, rather than to all those who are entitled. This arbitrary action, which is also violative of the appellants’ prevailing Article 31 right (at the time of cause of action), undoubtedly warranted consideration, and intervention by the High Court, under its Article 226 jurisdiction.

Noticing that at every stage, the State sought to shirk its responsibility of acquiring land required for public use in the manner prescribed by law, the Court observed that,

“When seen holistically, it is apparent that the State’s actions, or lack thereof, have in fact compounded the injustice meted out to the appellants and compelled them to approach this court, albeit belatedly. The initiation of acquisition proceedings initially in the 1990s occurred only at the behest of the High Court. Even after such judicial intervention, the State continued to only extend the benefit of the court’s directions to those who specifically approached the courts. The State’s lackadaisical conduct is discernible from this action of initiating acquisition proceedings selectively, only in respect to the lands of those writ petitioners who had approached the court in earlier proceedings, and not other land owners.”

The Court also noticed that the State had merely averred to the appellants’ alleged verbal consent or the lack of objection, but had not placed any material on record to substantiate this plea. It was also unable to produce any evidence indicating that the land of the appellants had been taken over or acquired in the manner known to law, or that they had ever paid any compensation.

Further, despite the property not being adjoining, the subject land was acquired for the same reason – construction of the Narag Fagla Road, in 1972-73, and much like the claimants before the reference court, these appellants too were illegally dispossessed without following due process of law, thus resulting in violation of Article 31 and warranting the High Court’s intervention under Article 226 jurisdiction. Hence, in the absence of written consent to voluntarily give up their land, the appellants were entitled to compensation in terms of law.

Ruling

The State was, hence, directed to treat the subject lands as a deemed acquisition and appropriately disburse compensation to the appellants in the same terms as the order of the reference court dated 04.10.2005 and to consequently to ensure that the appropriate Land Acquisition Collector computes the compensation, and disburses it to the appellants, within four months from today. The appellants would also be entitled to consequential benefits of solatium, and interest on all sums payable under law w.e.f 16.10.2001 (i.e. date of issuance of notification under Section 4 of the Act), till the date of the impugned judgment, i.e. 12.09.2013.

Given the disregard for the appellants’ fundamental rights for decades after the act of dispossession, the Court also directed the State to pay legal costs and expenses of ₹ 50,000 to the appellants.

[Sukh Dutt Ratra v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 410, decided on 06.04.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice S. Ravindra Bhat


Counsels

For appellants: Advocate Mahesh Thakur

For State: Advocate Abhinav Mukerji

High Court Round UpLegal RoundUp

112 significant Reports from 22 High Courts


 

Allahabad High Court


 Right to Reputation


People using cyberspace to vent out anger and frustration by travestying key-figures holding highest office in country, is abhorrent and violates right to reputation

Sanjay Kumar Singh, J., expressed that,

“The internet and social media has become an important tool through which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of expression but the right to freedom of expression comes with its own set of special responsibilities and duties.”

Read full report here…

Corruption


Corruption is a termite in every system; a root cause of all problems but has to be put to account

While expressing that medical and legal fields are more a service than a profession especially the stream of oncology which deals with life and death, Krishan Pahal, J., held that “Corruption is a termite in every system.”

Read full report here…


Andhra Pradesh High Court


Bail


”…being an educated man and Software Engineer, he is not justified in making such irresponsible comments against the Judiciary and the High Court”, Bail denied

Cheekathi Manavendranath Roy J. dismissed the criminal petition and granted bail to the accused advocates and denied bail to accused software engineer.

Read full report here…

Reckless Driving


In the case of reckless driving, injured party will have to always prove that either side was negligent?

The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Ajai Tyagi, JJ., while addressing a case of negligent driving, expressed that,

“…if the injury rather death is caused by something owned or controlled by the negligent party then he is directly liable.”

Read full report here…

Evidence


Prosecution must stand on its own legs basing its findings on the evidence that has been led by it

Siddhartha Varma, J., held that it is the bounden duty of the enquiry officer to have seen whether the charges were proved on the basis of the evidence which was led by it.

Read full report here…


Bombay High Court


Nomination of a Councillor


Can a nominated Councillor be appointed as Leader of the House under Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949? 

“The term ‘elected Councillor’ in Section 19-1A would necessarily have to be read as an exclusion and bar to any other Councillor i.e ‘nominated Councillor’ to become the Leader of the House.”

Read full report here…

Negligence


When a person suffers injury without any negligence on his part, but result of combined effect of negligence of two other persons: Is it a case of composite or contributory negligence?

Expressing that, Negligence does not always mean absolute carelessness, but want of such a degree of care as required in particular circumstances, Vinay Joshi, J., held that no absolute standard can be fixed as to what constitutes negligence differs from case to case.

Read full report here…

License


To operate in State of Maharashtra, Uber and other unlicensed aggregators to apply for license before 16th March 2022

The Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ and Vinay Joshi, J., directed UBER and other transport aggregators who have not obtained a license as per Section 93(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act to apply for the license before 16th March 2022 otherwise they shall not be able to operate in the State of Maharashtra.

Read full report here…

State Quota


If an aspirant has not completed her 10th and 12th standard from State of Maharashtra, can she still be covered under State Quota of Maharashtra for M.B.B.S?

The Division Bench of S.V. Gangapurwala and S.G. Dige, JJ., addressed a matter wherein an aspirant of M.B.B.S Course approached the Court praying that the petitioner be considered in State Quota from NRI Quota.

Read full report here…

IBC


Can Additional Sessions Judge or Sessions Judge try offences under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016?

Sandeep K. Shinde, J., held that Special Court which is to try offences under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 is the Special Court established under Section 436(2) (b) of the Companies Act, 2013 which consisted of Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate First Class.

Read full report here…

Parent’s Property


When parents are alive, can a son claim his share in the property of his parents?

The Division Bench of G.S. Patel and Madhav J. Jamdar, JJ., held that Asif i.e. son has no rights in his father’s flats.

Read full report here…

Film ‘83’


No stay on OTT Release of film ‘83’: Bom HC | Netflix and Star India already have antecedent rights, both digital and satellite for 10 years

While refusing to restrain Star India and Netflix from streaming the film ‘83’ on their respective broadcasting portals, R.I. Chagla, J., observed that, prospective owner of copyright in a future work may also assign to any person the copyright in the future work.

Read full report here…

Child in Conflict


When a Child in Conflict with Law is to be tried as an adult, an assessment under S. 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is required to be done?

M.G. Sewlikar, J., held that, in terms of Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, Juvenile Justice Board has to make assessment into heinous offences to determine whether CCL is to be tried as an adult.

Read full report here…

Currency Notes


Can Currency Notes in police custody pre-demonetisation, be replaced with current valid tender?

The Division Bench of G.S. Patel and Madhav J. Jamdar, JJ., addressed a matter concerning currency notes pre-demonetisation and their replacement with current valid tender.

Read full report here…

Karta


Daughters and widow of a deceased would inherit properties of deceased as tenants in common or joint tenants?

Mangesh S. Patil, J., expressed that, by virtue of Section 19 it has been explicitly made clear that if two and more heirs succeed together to the property and in the estate, they take the property as tenants in common and not as joint tenants.

Read full report here…


Calcutta High Court


Rape


Penetration even of the slightest degree is necessary to establish the offence of rape; Court modifies order after 8 years of imprisonment

“It is settled law penetration even of the slightest degree is necessary to establish the offence of rape.”

Read full report here…

Tax


No intention of any evasion of tax; Court directs refund of penalty and tax paid on protest

Md. Nizamuddin, J. decided on a petition which was filed challenging the impugned order of the appellate commissioner confirming the original order passed by the adjudicating authority under section 129 of the West Bengal Goods and Services Act, 2017 for detention of the goods in question on the grounds that the e-way bill relating to the consignment in question had expired one day before, i.e. in the midnight of September 8, 2019, and that the goods was detained in the morning of September 9, 2019 on the grounds that the e-way bill has expired which is even less than one day and extension could not be made and petitioner submits that delay of few hours even less than a day of expiry of the validity of the tenure of the e-way bill was not deliberate and willful and was due to break down of the vehicle in question and there was no intention of any evasion of tax on the part of the petitioner.

Read full report here…

Repealed Acts


Whether the orders passed under a repealed Act be executed? Court discusses

Rajasekhar Mantha, J. disposed of a petition observing that the Supreme Court is the only authority to clarify  whether the orders passed under a repealed Act can be executed or not

Read full report here…

Breach of Contract


Parties to agreement of sale consciously changing their relationship cannot seek relief on the basis of previously established relationship

The Division Bench of Soumen Sen and  Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee, JJ., dismissed an appeal concerned with a breach of contract. The appeal arose out of a judgment in a suit for recovery of possession and injunction. Trial Court had decreed the suit on contest and dismissed the counter claim filed by the defendant.

Read full report here…

Detention Order


Detention order quashed due to lack of opportunity of hearing in the matter of S. 129 of the West Bengal Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017

Md. Nizamuddin, J. disposed of a petition which was filed challenging the impugned order passed by the Deputy Commissioner of Revenue on the ground that the said impugned order was bad in law for the reasons that the petitioners being the owner of the goods in question, which had been detained without giving any opportunity of hearing to the petitioners under the relevant provision of Section 129 of the West Bengal Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017.

Read full report here…

GST Act


The interest of revenue has been safeguarded; Order of detention against the State upheld in matter of GST Act

The Division Bench of T. S. Sivagnanam and Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, JJ., dismissed an appeal and connected application which was filed by the State against the order of detention passed by the authority detaining two trucks containing consignment of steel and other products in WPA 17611 of 2021 dated: 07-12-2021 wherein petitioner was the wife of late Mohit Madhogoria, who was a registered dealer under the provisions of the W.B.V.A.T. Act presently under the GST Act.

Read full report here…


Chhattisgarh High Court


Compassionate Appointment


Illegitimate child’s right to be considered for Compassionate appointment

Sanjay K. Agarwal, J., held that an illegitimate son would be entitled to consideration on compassionate ground and cannot be denied consideration on the ground that he is the illegitimate son of the deceased Government servant.

Read full report here…

Rape


In view of changed definition of rape under S. 375 (b) of  IPC pari materia to S. 3(b) of POCSO Act, whether sexual intercourse is necessary to attract ingredients of offence of rape or penetrative sexual assault?

Addressing a case wherein a minor girl was subjected to sexual, Deepak Kumar Tiwari, J., held that,

In view of the changed definition of rape under Section 375 (b) of the IPC pari materia to Section 3(b) of the POCSO Act, sexual intercourse is not necessary to attract the ingredients of offence of rape or penetrative sexual assault.

Read full report here…


Delhi High Court


Dishonour of Cheque


To prove that cheque amount was larger than debt due, can defence of Issuer be looked at stage of issuing summons?

While addressing a matter revolving around Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, Subramonium Prasad, J., held that Courts should primarily proceed on the averments in the complaint, and the defence of the accused cannot be looked at the stage of issuing summons unless it can be shown on admitted documents which the Supreme Court described as “unimpeachable in nature and sterling in quality” to substantiate that there was no debt due and payable by the person who has issued the cheque or that the cheque amount is large than the debt due.

Read full report here…

If a cheque is not honoured by issuer and even after a legal notice he doesn’t pay, he is bound to face criminal trial

Rajnish Bhatnagar, J., dismissed a matter revolving around the dishonour of cheque under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.

Read full report here…

Yes Bank Loan Fraud


Public money under garb of Term loan siphoned off, resulting in generation of ‘proceeds of crime’ as well as its layering and ultimate projection as untainted money: Del HC while denying bail to Gautam Thapar

While addressing a matter wherein bail of Gautam Thapar accused in Yes Bank Loan Fraud case, was sought, Manoj Kumar Ohri, J., expressed that it is well settled that, economic offences constitute a class apart and need to be visited with a different approach, given their severity and magnitude. Albeit these offences are likely to adversely impact the economic fabric of the country, bail shall not be denied to a person accused of an economic offence in a routine manner.

Read full report here…

Jurisdiction


Can partners in dispute of an LLP or any other business entity carrying out business in different parts of country, file suit in any place where business is carried out?

Amit Bansal, J., expressed that an LLP or any other business entity can carry out business in different parts of the country, but that would not mean that a suit with regard to disputes between the partners, could be filed in any place where the business of the firm/LLP is carried out.

Read full report here…

Ownership of YouTube Channel


Who ‘owns’ a YouTube channel?: Del HC passes interim directions in dispute over channel ‘Shabad Kirtan Gurbani – Divine Amrit Bani’

Asha Menon, J., considered a very interesting case where the dispute between the parties is regarding the ownership of a YouTube channel. The Court has found a prima facie case in favour of the plaintiff and issued certain directions.

Read full report here…

Bail


On pretext of removing evil spirit from body of a woman who was bipolar in nature, a man lured woman and committed sexual intercourse, but ADJ granted bail: Will HC cancel his bail? Del HC analyses

Mukta Gupta, J., cancelled the bail of an accused who lured a female on the pretext of removing an evil spirit from her body and further committing sexual intercourse with her.

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Theft


Daughter-in-law thrown out of matrimonial home and accused of removal of letters from possession of matrimonial home: Whether Del HC will find her guilty under S. 380 IPC or not?

Chandra Dhari Singh, J., noted that instant dispute has arisen out of matrimonial discord between two people which had also, led to the filing of more than 50 criminal and civil cases between not only the husband and the wife but also their family members. It was found that for the sole purpose of harassing the other party such cases were filed by persons with no just cause or reason and substantial ground for allegations.

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Right of Residence


Right of residence under DV Act is exclusive to and isolated from any right that may arise under S. 9 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

“The existence of the strained relationship between the Petitioner and the Respondent has been well established by the fact that there are more than about 60 criminal and civil cases pending between the parties.”

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Desertion and Cruelty


Wife leaves matrimonial home and never returns after several requests and legal notice under S. 9 of HMA, alleges husband of several cruelties without any evidence: Would it amount to desertion and cruelty by wife?

Noting the separation of 12 years between the husband and wife, the Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, JJ., found that the wife had subjected the husband to desertion and cruelty, hence decree of divorce be granted.

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Accusation of extra-marital relationship is a grave assault on character, status, reputation as well as health of spouse against whom such allegations are made: Would this come under ambit of cruelty?

While addressing a matter surrounding the issue of cruelty by wife, the Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ and Dinesh Kumar Sharma, J., expressed that,

“It has repeatedly been held that accusations of unchastity or extra marital relationship is a grave assault on character, status, reputation as well as health of the spouse against whom such allegations were made.”

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Arbitration and Conciliation Act


Del HC dismisses appeal filed by Indiabulls Housing Finance in Zee Entertainment – Sony Pictures Scheme of Arrangement

Suresh Kumar Kait, J., addressed an appeal under Section 37(2)(b) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 against the interim order passed by Arbitrator was preferred.

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Mere use of the word ‘Arbitration’ in the heading of an Agreement would mean existence of an arbitration agreement?

Mukta Gupta, J., decided that mere use of word ‘Arbitration’ in the heading of an Agreement would not mean the existence of an arbitration agreement.

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Religious Structure


State obligated to remove unauthorized constructions from public land, but if it is a religious structure, can State still be obligated to do so?

Expressing that, the mere fact that certain encroachments represent religious structure cannot possibly detract State from its obligation, Yashwant Varma, J., held that, State remains duty-bound to remove all unauthorized constructions which may exist on public land.

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Extraordinary Writ Jurisdiction


Extraordinary writ jurisdiction is to be exercised only in rare cases or certain contingencies in the interest of justice, including exceptional cases

Chandra Dhari Singh, J., expressed that it is settled law that the power to issue writ has its own well-defined limitations imposed by the High Courts, one of which was the availability of alternative efficacious remedy.

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Power to Transfer Cases


Can Chairman of CAT on his own motion, without any notice, transfer any case pending before one Bench for disposal to another Bench?

The Division Bench of D.N. Patel, CJ and Jyoti Singh, J., held that the Chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal has been conferred the power to transfer a matter from one Bench to another, on his own motion, without any application from any party.

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Right to Speedy Trial


Incarcerated for 8 years for an offence punishable with minimum 10 years imprisonment: Violation of Right to Personal Liberty and Right to Speedy Trial

Subramonium Prasad, J., remarked that,

“…achievement of universal equality before the law requires the tenets of personal liberty to be applicable to all similarly circumstanced individuals and must not be restricted unless according to procedure established by law.”

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Arms License


If you are found in possession of live ammunition along with a valid arms licence, can an offence under S. 25 of Arms Act still be registered against you?

Deciding a matter of whether an NRI person in possession of two live ammunitions with a valid license can be registered under Section 25 of Arms Act or not, Asha Menon, J., held that, prima facie no malafide intent was found and the licence found was a valid arms licence.

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Right of Putative Father


Right of Putative Father to visit minor child upheld: Del HC

Upholding the rights of the putative fatherV. Kameswar Rao, J., expressed that while determining and granting such rights, more so when the child is of less than 3 years of age, surely his well-being/welfare is of paramount importance

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Issuance of Notice


Section 292BB of Income Tax Act deals with failure of service of notice or failure to issue notice?

The Division Bench of Manmohan and Dinesh Kumar Sharma, JJ., addressed a matter wherein the decision of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal for the Assessment Year 2011-12 was challenged.

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RTI Act


Employees of a security establishment cannot be deprived of their fundamental and legal rights just because they work in an intelligence and security establishment

Expressing that, RTI Act is a tool that facilitates the employees and officers in airing their grievances systematicallythe Division Bench of Manmohan and Sudhir Kumar Jain, JJ., remarked that,

“…both service and RTI laws ‘act like a safety valve in the society’.”

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Maternity Leave


Can maternity leave benefits extend beyond the period when contractual period of an ad hoc employee comes to an end?

In a claim of maternity benefit by a contractual employee, the Division Bench of Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh, JJ., expressed that, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 Act is a social legislation that should be worked in a manner that progresses not only the best interest of the women-employee but also of the child, both at the pre-natal and post-natal stage.

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Unmarried Daughters


Can unmarried daughters claim expenses of marriage from their parents under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956?

While stating that, in Indian society, normally expenses are required to be incurred for pre-marriage and also at the time of marriagethe Division Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and Sanjay S. Agrawal, JJ., held that unmarried daughters have a right to claim expenses of marriage from their parents under the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956.

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SC Collegium December Meeting


 

Newspaper reports are of no evidentiary value and Courts would be transgressing their well settled limitation if cognizance were to be taken of such unsubstantiated and unverified reports

In a matter wherein, details were sought with regard to Supreme Court Collegium meeting held on 12-12-2018, Yashwant Varma, J., expressed that, newspaper reports are of no evidentiary value and Courts would be clearly transgressing their well-settled limitation if cognizance were to be taken of such unsubstantiated and unverified reports.

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Gujarat High Court


Reasoning in Judgment


Providing reasoning is to give it a value of precedent which can help in reduction of frivolous litigation; Court emphasises on recording reasons in judgments

“It is trite that in a delay application, sufficient cause is the paramount consideration and if sufficient cause is shown, the Court should generally condone the delay. However, if the sufficient cause is imbibed with the laxity on the part of the delayer despite due knowledge, then Court should restrain itself from encouraging such practice and condone the delay.”

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GSTR-6 Return


Court allows writ furnishing the GSTR – 6 return for recording and distributing the ISD credit

“Credit was a tax paid by the registered person on input transactions and such tax already paid to the credit of the Central Government was a vested right of the person. Such vested right cannot be defeated on account of any irregularity in the system evolved by the Government.”

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NDPS


No Conscious possession; Court upholds acquittal under NDPS Act

The Division Bench of S.H. Vora and Sandeep N. Bhatt, JJ., dismissed an application for special leave to appeal which was filed feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order in NDPS Case whereby the trial Court acquitted the respondent 2 herein-original accused 2 of the offences punishable under Sections 8(c), 20(b) and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (“NDPS Act”).

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Detention Order


Simplicitor registration of FIR/s by itself cannot have any nexus with the breach of maintenance of public order; Detention order quashed

Rajendra M. Sareen, J. allowed a petition which was directed against the detention order passed by respondent–detaining authority in exercise of powers conferred under section 3(2) of the Gujarat Prevention of Anti Social Activities Act, 1985 (“the Act”) by detaining the petitioner-detenue as defined under section 2(b) of the Act.

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Gauhati High Court


Sexual offences against minor cannot be compromised by parents; HC rejects application to enforce compromise

Arun Dev Choudhury, J., held that sexual offences against minor cannot be compromised by parents.

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Himachal Pradesh High Court


Rape


Minor girl students raped and subjected to penetrative sexual assault by their teacher: Sanctity of Teacher-Student relationship polluted

Polluting the sanctity of the relationship of the teacher and students, a teacher committed rape and penetrative sexual assault with minor students, the Division Bench of Sabina and Satyen Vaidya, JJ., noting the harrowing incidents expressed that the said is a sad reflection of the present-day society where a most platonic relationship was exploited.

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Jharkhand High Court


Execution of a Will


Testamentary disposition of property is deviation from natural line of inheritance in lesser or greater degree: Can it result in complete disposition in favour of one heir or exclusion of any other heir?

Expressing that the due execution of a Will is to be proved as per the provisions of law as laid down in Evidence Act as well as that if Indian Succession Act,  Gautam Kumar Choudhary, J., remarked that, a probate court being a Court of conscience, the intention of the testator is paramount and it is the bounden duty of the Court to ascertain the real WILL of the testator if any.

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Karnataka High Court


Domestic Violence Act


Whether the maintenance awarded under the Domestic Violence Act can be sought to be enhanced under the CrPC?

“The language employed in Section 127 of the Cr.P.C. is unequivocal as on a proof of change in the circumstances of any person receiving allowance under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. can maintain a petition under Section 127 of the Cr.P.C.”

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Criminal Proceedings


SC-ST Act is prospective or retrospective? Kar HC quashes criminal proceedings for offences committed in the year 1975

Krishna S Dixit J. quashes the criminal proceedings as the SC-ST act is not retrospective in nature.

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Hijab Ban


16 pointer report on why wearing of Hijab is not a part of essential religious practice in Islam

“Dismayed as to how all of a sudden that too in the middle of an academic term the issue of hijab is generated and blown out of proportion, Court remarked that some ‘unseen hands’ are at work to engineer social unrest and disharmony in the way ‘hijab imbroglio’ unfolded.”

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The uniform can exclude any other apparel like bhagwa or blue shawl that may have the visible religious overtones

“The Holy Quran does not mandate wearing of hijab or headgear for Muslim women rather it was traditionally worn as a measure of social security” 

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POCSO


Whether victim under POCSO Act can be permitted to be cross-examined once she turns hostile?

M Nagaprasanna J. allowed the petition and quashed the impugned order and remitted the matter back to Sessions Judge for cross-examination

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Marital Rape


“Wanton lust, vicious appetite, depravity of senses, loathsome beast of passion, unbridled unleashing of carnal desire of demonish perversion” Kar HC discusses protection provided to husband by the institution of marriage

A man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the “husband” on the woman “wife”

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Kerala High Court


Cruelty


At odd hours, if wife continues making discreet phone calls with another man even after a warning by husband, would it constitute matrimonial cruelty?

The Division Bench of A. Muhamed Mustaque and Dr Justice Kauser Edappagath, JJ., held that, despite a warning by the husband, if the wife continues to make discreet calls with another man that too at odd hours, it would amount to matrimonial cruelty.

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Medical Negligence


Do District and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions do not have jurisdiction to take cognizance of medical negligence complaints?

Nagaresh, J., decided whether medical service would fall within the ambit of Section 2(42) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 unless of course the service is free of charge or is under a contract of personal service.

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Breach


Compensation payable under Ss. 73, 74 and 75 are only for loss or damage caused by breach or inclusive of mere act of breach as well?

The Division Bench of P.B. Suresh Kumar and C.S. Sudha, JJ., expressed that,

“…compensation payable under Sections 73, 74 as also under Section 75 is only for loss or damage caused by the breach and not account of the mere act of breach. If in any case the breach has not resulted in or caused any loss or damage to a party, person concerned cannot claim compensation.”

The words ‘loss or damage’ in the Sections 73 and 74 would necessarily indicate that the party who complains of breach must have really suffered some loss or damage apart from being faced with the mere act of breach of contract. That is because every breach of every contract need not necessarily result in actual loss or damage.

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Internal Complaints Committee


In the film industry, would production units have to constitute Internal Complaints Committee to deal with harassment against women?

While expressing that, any organisations, establishments, private institutions are employing workers whether for wages or not in contemplation of the provisions of the Act, 2013 coming under the definition of employer, employee and workplace, they are duty bound to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee,  the Division Bench of S. Manikumar, CJ and Shaji P. Chaly, J., held that, a production unit of each film industry is an establishment employing Actor Artists and other workers and therefore, such production units have to maintain an Internal Complaints Committee if they are engaging more than 10 workers

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Moral Policing


Man taking a lady from another community in his car, attacked by violent mob: Act of mob moral policing?

Calling it to be ‘moral policing’ K. Haripal, J., addressed a matter wherein a man had taken a lady from another community in his car due to which a mob attacked him with deadly weapons.

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Pre-arrest Bail


Trespassed in house, committed rape, misappropriated money, threatened: Kerala HC denied pre-arrest bail in view of such allegations

Shircy V. J., dismissed a bail application wherein a man committed rape with a woman and misappropriated her money after putting her under threat.

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Strikes


Bar on Government servants to engage in strikes?

While expressing that, it is the duty of the welfare Government to protect not only the citizens, but to continue with, all the Government work as expected, the Division Bench of S. Manikumar, CJ and Shaji P. Chaly, J., directed that Government servants should be prevented from engaging in a strike.

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Madras High Court


Central Information Commission


High Court cannot act as a post office to collect and exchange information

While stating that Central Information Commission has only made recommendations, which cannot by any stretch of imagination be taken as a statute so as to give effect, the Division Bench of Munishwar Nath Bhandari, CJ and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy, J., dismissed the petition.

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Promotion


Can an employee claim promotion as a matter of right?

S.M. Subramaniam, J., expressed that employees cannot seek any direction to fill up the post or claim a promotional post.

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Bribe


Every Advocate is a Court officer and part & parcel of justice delivery system: Madras HC found a Govt. Advocate demanding bribes at the cost of justice

The Division Bench of K. Kalyanasundaram and R. Hemalatha, JJ., expressed that, the Government advocate being the representative of the Government has to act in an honest manner. If he/she goes around with the intention to make money at the cost of justice, only chaos will prevail.

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Manipur High Court


Appointment/Promotion of High School Teachers


All resolutions passed at the emergency meeting will be subject to confirmation or revision at the next ordinary meeting; Court allows petition

“Rule 14 (b) of the Rules of 1975 provides that all resolutions passed at the emergency meeting will be subject to confirmation or revision at the next ordinary meeting, none of the respondents, either the State or the respondent 3 to 10 has brought on record that the resolution passed in the emergency meeting held on 21-02-2015 was confirmed or revised in the next ordinary meeting.”

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Madhya Pradesh High Court


Writ of Mandamus


A writ for mandamus cannot lie to direct the State to enact a law; Petition dismissed

The Division Bench of Ravi Malimath, CJ. and Dinesh Kumar Paliwal, J.dismissed a petition which was filed in public interest praying for a writ of mandamus to incorporate certain provisions in the law, namely, Section 14-A of the Madhya Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1956 and Section 32-A of the Madhya Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1961.

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Election Dispute


Registrar exercising power of the election tribunal cannot pass interim directions of any nature; Court allows appeal

“…Registrar who was trying the election dispute was exercising the power of the election tribunal. Therefore, he could not have passed orders even though it was in the interest of society.”

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Custody


Technical objections cannot come in way of custody; Court allows 16-year-old to choose to live with father

The Division Bench of Subodh Abhyankar and Satyendra Kumar Singh, JJ., dismissed an appeal which was filed being aggrieved of the order passed by Single Judge wherein he quashed the earlier impugned order passed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate whereby custody of the children of the appellant was given to her husband (respondent 4). The Single Judge had only partly granted relief by not giving any express direction restoring the custody of the children in favour of the appellant.

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Appointment Order


Cancellation of candidature on the ground of typographical error arbitrary and grossly disproportionate; Court allows petition

Pranay Verma, J., allowed a petition which was filed praying for a direction to consider petitioner’s candidature for the post of Office Assistant (Multi purpose) and to issue appointment order in her favour in light of offer letter.

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Meghalaya High Court


Family Pension


Court decides on eligibility of family pension under Rule 48 of Meghalaya Civil Services Pension Rules of 1983

“Rule 48, provides that an unmarried/widowed/divorced daughter, would be entitled to family pension and that a person would be entitled for family pension, only after other eligible family members in the first category have ceased to be eligible to receive it.”

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Companies Act


If an advertisement for petition filed under S. 433 of Companies Act, 1956 is not published, will entire matter be transferred to NCLT?

Sanjib Banerjee, CJ, addressed a petition wherein a creditor’s winding-up petition was instituted under Section 433 of the Companies Act, 1956 and the same was not yet advertised.

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Testimony


Court affirms trial court’s conviction on the basis of victim’s testimony in POCSO matter

The Division Bench of  Sanjib Banerjee and W. Diengdoh, JJ., while hearing an appeal which challenged the judgment of conviction of December 21, 2018, which convicted the appellant under Section 3(a) R/W Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, upheld the same and stated that there was no good reason to interfere with the judgement of the trial court.

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Compromise Deed


Lower Courts to deal with entire process expeditiously after receipt of the application under S. 151 read with Or. 20 R. 6-A CPC

H.S. Thangkhiew, J. while hearing a revision application allowed the same and directed the lower court to deal with the entire process expeditiously immediately on receipt of the application under Section 151 read with Order 20 Rule 6-A CPC.

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Inherent Power


fraus et jus nunquam cohabitant; Ori HC analyses how does prohibition under S. 362 CrPC operate viz-a- viz the inherent power of the High Court

It is the oft-repeated and a salutary principle of law that fraud and justice never dwell together (fraus et jus nunquam cohabitant)

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Rape


If a man rubs his organ on vagina over victim’s underpants, would that amount to rape?

The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ and W. Diengdoh, J., addressed that, if the victim’s underwear was not taken down and the man merely rubbed himself on the victim’s crotch while she still wore her underpants, would that amount to commission of rape.

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POCSO


FIR and proceedings in Special POCSO Case quashed; Minor ‘victim’ gave birth to child while living with accused as his wife

Diengdoh, J. allowed a petition which was filed praying to quash the criminal proceedings pending in the Court of the Special Judge (POCSO) under Section 5(j)(ii)/6 POCSO Act, 2012.

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Punjab and Haryana High Court


Live-in Relationship


In ever-evolving society, evolving law with it, time to shift perspective from didactics of orthodox society, shackled with strong strings of morality to one that values an individual’s life

While dealing with a matter regarding protection to live-in relationship, Anoop Chitkara, J., held that, every person in the territory of India has an inherent and indefeasible fundamental right to life flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the State is duty-bound to protect life.

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Laws governing ‘Live-in-relationships’ is need of the hour; Court directs State to file response on the social predicament

‘Live-in-relationships’ has always been a debatable issue because of the absence of any law on the said practice. The Legislation has not yet consolidated any Act in this regard; on the other hand the Judiciary, through several decisions has made a clear stand to protect the various rights of such couples. Supreme Court in Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475S. Khushbhoo v. Kanniammal(2010) 5 SCC 600, and Indra Sarma v. V.K.V. Sarma(2013) 15 SCC 755, has upheld the status of live-in-relationships and issued certain direction to protect life and liberty of the individuals.

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MBBS Course


Whether Court can issue directions for filling up the vacant seat for the MBBS Course?

S. Thangkhiew, J. allowed a petition in which he had to consider whether this Court can direct the respondents to consider the petitioner for filling up the vacant seat for the MBBS Course.

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Recission of Contract


Application for rescission of contract ‘mandatory’ to avail the relief, as S. 28, Specific Relief Act, 1963 doesn’t confer indefeasible right

Sudhir Mittal, J. dismissed the revision petition filed by the petitioners (in this case the judgment-debtors) against the action of the Executing Court for refusing to recall the impugned order. According to the petitioners, the execution order was passed, ex parte hence, the fundamental principle of natural justice was violated.

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Carnal Intercourse


Use of phrase “carnal intercourse” considered as a conscious act of the legislature reflecting the clear intent to engraft an offence under S. 377 IPC, conviction upheld

Vinod S. Bhardwaj, J. contemplated the revision petition filed by the accused/ children in conflict with the law, challenging the dismissal of appeal by Additional District and Sessions Judge along with the order of conviction and sentence passed by the Juvenile Justice Board, for the commission of offence punishable under Section 377 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 10 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

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Cooling Off Period


Cooling off period under S. 13-B (2) HMA directory and not mandatory, court must waive off statutory period where marriage is irreconcilable

Rajbir Sehrawat, J., allowed the instant revision petition, filed against the order of Family Court, where the joint application for waving off the statutory period of 6 months for cooling off, had been dismissed.

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CBSE


Schools succeeded in hoodwinking CBSE, however, no fault can be attributed to the students; direction for issuance of class 12th result

Sudhir Mittal, J. allowed the writ petitions filed against the action of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) declaring petitioners ineligible for evaluation of class 12th and to issue the final result.

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Fundamental Rights vis a vis Judicial Review


Answer to the question on ‘fundamental rights vis-a-vis judicial review’ considered as ‘National Confusion’ as different interpretation possible

Rajbir Sehrawat. J., contemplated and answered the interesting question asked in the recruitment test on which the dispute of the petitioner revolves around. Thorough interpretation of judgments starting from Sankari Prasad to I.R. Coelho was analysed by the Court to formulate the correct answer asked in the recruitment test.

73. Which of the following schedule of the Constitution is immune from judicial review on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights?

  1. A) Seventh Schedule B) Ninth Schedule C) Tenth Schedule D) None of the above”

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Material Fact


Suppression of a ‘material fact’ of non-disclosure of pendency of bail application considered, subservient to the right of liberty granted to the petitioners; Guidelines issued

Three petitions are clubbed together where the petitioners intended to withdraw their bail applications as bail was already granted by the different trial courts. The main issue before Jasgurpreet Singh Puri, J. was effect of filing bail applications and passing of bail orders by the trial courts during the pendency of bail application before High Court by the same accused without disclosing such pendency and what safeguards should be adopted by the trial courts in this regard.

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Compensation


Entitlement to compensation on general principles for inordinate delay in receiving monies due; Interest on refund of excise duty granted

The Division Bench of Ajay Tewari and Pankaj Jain, JJ., contemplated the appeal where the interest on refund of excise duty was rejected by the authorities. The main question before the Court was whether the assessee was entitled to interest.

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Departmental Punishment


Departmental punishment of government servant is not a necessary and automatic consequence of conviction on a criminal charge

Jaishree Thakur, J. set aside and quashed the dismissal of the petitioner and remanded back the matter to the punishing authority for reconsideration. The Court directed that punishing authority to apply its mind and to form an opinion as to whether the conviction of the petitioner deserves the penalty of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank or any other lesser penalty.

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Patna High Court


Economic Offence


Entire community is aggrieved if economic offenders, who ruin economy of the State are not brought to book

Expressing that the entire community is aggrieved if the economic offenders, who ruin the economy of the State are not brought to bookAnjani Kumar Sharan, J., held that economic offence is committed with cool calculation and deliberate design with an eye on personal profit regardless of the consequence to the community.

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Rajasthan High Court


Whenever there is a conflict between substantial justice and hyper-technicality then substantial justice should be preferred to avoid defeat for the ends of justice: Raj HC observes in a case where candidature was rejected on a hyper-technical approach

A Division Bench of Anoop Kumar Dhand and Pankaj Bharadwaj, JJ., disposed of the petition and directed the Department to appoint the respondent.

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Cause Title


“..use of salutation and titles is prohibited in terms of Arts. 14 18 and 363A of the Constitution of India in public documents and public offices”; Raj HC observes in a case where hereditary title was mentioned in a cause title

“…any title awarded to the citizen of India by a Foreign State cannot be accepted nor used and no such title, other than the military or academic distinctions, can be conferred other than by the State. In terms of Article 363A of the Constitution of India, the heredity titles of nobility being in conflict with the principles of equality and contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution of India cannot be used as prefixes or suffixes.”

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Provisional Attachment


Order of provisional attachment cannot survive beyond a period of one year in terms of S. 83 (2) CGST Act; Provisional attachment order stayed

“Section 83 of the CGST Act pertains to provisional attachment to protect the revenue in certain cases. In sub-section (1) of Section 83 the commissioner is empowered to order provisional attachment of the property of the assessee including bank account where proceedings under Chapters XII, XIV and XV are pending and the commissioner is of the opinion that for the purpose of protecting the interest of government revenue it is necessary so to do.”

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Public Interest Litigation


“Citizen approaching Court in a public interest jurisdiction holds greater duty to make full research” PIL dismissed due to lack of necessary evidence presented

A Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ and Rekha Borana, J. dismissed the petition and kept it open for the petitioners to file a fresh public interest petition.

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Private Entity


In absence of any factual foundation to show whether a particular entity is State or not, writ jurisdiction not maintainable

Mahendar Kumar Goyal J. dismissed the petition being not maintainable against a private entity. 

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Interim Maintenance


Raj HC dealt with whether husband can be absolved from his duty to pay interim maintenance if there is delay of 30+ years in filing application

“…an order under Section 125 of CrPC is in the nature of interim maintenance and husband, who admittedly earns Rs 40, 000/- per month cannot be absolved of his obligation to pay interim maintenance, merely because the respondent – wife has chosen to file the application after 36 years of marriage.”

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Transfer Petition


Transfer petition for trial of Salman Khan’s deer hunting case allowed; High Court to take charge

Pushpendra Singh Bhati, J., allowed a transfer petition in the infamous deer hunting case of actor Salman Khan.

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Bail


Economic offender should not be dealt as general offender because economic offenders run parallel economy; bail rejected

Narendra Singh Dhaddha rejected bail and dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

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Sikkim High Court


Compromise


Handing out punishment is not the sole form of delivering justice; Court allows compromise

Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J. allowed the compromise to bury the difference between parties and gives them their lives as good citizens.

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Tripura High Court


Disposal of Garbage


Court directs AMC to set up proper slaughterhouses and ensure garbage disposal in scientific manner

Court issued directions to the Corporation to prepare a long-term plan for not only setting up the abattoir/slaughter house but also for ensuring disposal of garbage in an appropriate scientific manner, rendering all authorities including the local police authorities for enforcing/assisting in carrying out its duties, considering application for licenses and disposing of at an early date so that people are not deprived of essential needs, maintaining hygienic conditions and carrying out inspection of all the license premises.

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Divorce


Unable to approve this kind of matrimonial conduct or filing a suit for divorce on such coloured narrative; Court dismisses appeal in matter of divorce

The Division Bench of S. Talapatra and S.G. Chattopadhyay, JJ. dismissed an appeal which was filed under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 from the judgment by the Additional District Judge declining to grant the divorce and consequently dismissing the suit. It was observed that case did not reflect any such situation which can demand the dissolution of marriage between the petitioner [the appellant and the respondent].

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Uttaranchal High Court


Personal Rights


Irrespective of the personal rights of a person or a community, it can under no set of circumstances, override the rights or need of the defence of the country; Petition dismissed

Sharad Kumar Sharma, J. dismissed a writ petition which involved the issue pertaining to regulating the frontier borders of the country, adjoining to the ‘Line of Actual Control’, which adjoins and shares the boundary lines of our neighbouring country, China, which is approximately about 20 to 25 Kms. only away from the land, in dispute, which is proposed to be acquired for the purposes of meeting out the defence need of the ITBPF, i.e. ITBP.

Read full report here…

Judgment of Acquittal


There have to be very substantial and compelling reasons for setting aside a judgment of acquittal; petition dismissed

The Division Bench of S.K. Mishra and A.K. Verma, JJ., dismissed the appeal for acquittal considering it to be devoid of substantial and compelling reasons.

Read full report here…

Hate Speech


Right to freedom, as granted under the Constitution is not an absolute right; Court rejects bail in Hate Speech matter

Ravindra Maithani, J., rejected a bail application which was filed by the applicant who was in judicial custody under Sections 153A, 298 Penal code, 1860.

Read full report here…

Public Service Commission


Public Service Commission directed to declare result of candidate who submitted late fees

The Division Bench of Sanjaya Kumar Mishra, CJ. and Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, J. allowed a petition which was filed by an aspirant seeking a direction to respondents to allow the petitioner to appear for the mains examination of the Assistant Conservator of Forest.

Read full report here…

Registration of Sikh Marriages


State directed to take steps to frame and notify Rules for Registration of Sikh Marriages

The Division Bench of Sanjaya Kumar Mishra, ACJ. and Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, J. took up a PIL filed by the petitioner commanding the respondent State to notify the Rules under Anand Marriage Act, 1909 and also to issue guidelines to register the marriage of people of Sikh Community under the Anand Marriage Act, 1909.

Read full report here…

Bail


Society has a vital interest in grant or refusal of bail because criminal offence is the offence against the society; Bail applications rejected in fraud case under Epidemic Diseases Act

Alok Kumar Verma, J. rejected three bail applications of the applicants who were in custody for the offence under Sections 188, 269, 270, 420, 467, 468, 471, 120B of IPC, Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Section 53 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Read full report here…



Weekly Roundups from March


Stories of sexual assault of a minor, woman travelling in public transport experiencing inappropriate touch and how children below 12 years of age are ‘asexual’ | Read 7 Legal Stories of the week

9 Legal Stories of the Week | Unlicensed transport aggregators to Spanking back of a woman without her consent, read more such stories in this weekly roundup

From Hijab Ban to Bloomberg Privacy Case and more | 7 Legal Stories of the Week

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the inquiry under Section 5A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 was dispensed with despite there being no urgency, the bench of KM Joseph* and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ, directing that the property be returned back to the appellants, has held that Section 5A of the Act guarantees a right to the person interested in the property which was the only statutory safeguard to stave off of a compulsory acquisition of his property and hence,

“In the ultimate analysis as with any other decision a balancing of conflicting interests is inevitable. The authorities must remain alive and alert to the precious right created in favour of the citizens which is not meant to be a mere empty ritual.”

Factual Background

A notification under Section 4(1) of the Act dated 8.10.2004 coupled with notification under 17(4) was issued in regard to 52.361 hectares of land for the construction of a residential colony under the name of Bulandshhar Khurja Development Authority, Bulandshehar.  Declaration under Section 6 of the Act was published on 7.10.2005.

While the appellants did not raise any objection as the requirement of Section 5A of the Act stood dispensed with, they argued before the Court that despite the urgency clause being invoked, the possession was taken only in January 2006. Further, it was stated that till date on the spot neither any construction under the residential scheme has been started nor it ‘appears to be’ in the near future. Hence, it was argued that there was no urgency to dispense with the inquiry under Section 5A of the Act.

Exercise of power under Section 17 (4) be invoked to dispense with the requirement under Section 5A

Section 5A of the Act guarantees a right to the person interested in the property which was the only statutory safeguard to stave off of a compulsory acquisition of his property. The power under Section 17 (4) is discretionary. Being a discretion it must be exercised with due care. It is true that if there is relevant material however meagre it may be and the authority has without being guided by extraneous considerations applied his mind and taken a decision, then the court would adopt a hands-off approach.

“What is required of the authority is to form a subjective opinion. This does not mean that the opinion can be whimsical or capricious. There must be materials before the authority. The materials must be relevant. The authority must apply his mind to the material. This is apart from the requirement that action must not be malafide.”

Further, undoubtedly the purpose must be a public purpose. But merely because the purpose of the acquisition is found to be a public purpose, the duty of the authority does not end. He must be satisfied that there is real agency such that the invaluable right vouchsafed to a person to ventilate his grievances against the acquisition is not unjustifiably extinguished.

Manner in which a challenge to a notification under Section 17(4) must be approached

When a challenge is made to the invocation of power under Section 17 (4) the writ applicant cannot succeed on bare and bald assertions. The facts which are specifically within the exclusive knowledge of the state must be laid before the court on the basis of the principle in Section 106 of the Evidence Act. Existence of the exceptional circumstances justifying invoking of Section 17 (4) must be established in the wake of a challenge.

On an appreciation of the evidence made available by all the parties it is open to the court to conclude that no occasion arose for resorting to the power under Section 17 (4) which indeed must be read as an exception to the general rule that the acquisition of property is made after affording an opportunity the person adversely affected to demonstrate that the acquisition was unjustified.

Decision on Facts

The Court took note of certain facts that showed that there was no urgency at all associated with the need to acquire the land immediately which constitutes the foundation for invoking the urgency clause. The notification under section 17(4) came to be issued after more than two years of the proposal sent sometime in March, 2006 if not earlier. Further, the declaration under section 6 came to be 60 issued only on 9.4.2009, just two days prior to the first anniversary of the date of notification under section 4. What finally impelled Government to issue the notification, namely, the apprehension that if it is not issued within one year of the section 4 notification the acquisition would lapse. This had nothing to do with urgency which would have manifested in the section 6 declaration being issued much earlier.

Therefore, in the facts of this case, having regard to the nature of the scheme, the delay with which section 6 declaration was issued, possession taken and the nature of the material on the basis of which the proposal was processed, it was held that the appellants are justified in contending that the notification under 17(4) dispensing with the inquiry under Section 5A was unjustified.

The Court, hence, directed that the property be returned back to the appellants.

[Hamid Ali Khan v. State of UP, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1115, decided on 23.11.2021]


Counsels:

For appellant: Advocate Abhay Kumar

For State: Senior Advocate Ravindra Raizada

For Second Respondent: Advocate Ravindra Kumar


*Judgment by: Justice KM Joseph

Know Thy Judge| Justice K.M. Joseph

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Justice R. Subash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy*, JJ has held that in a declaratory suit, where ownership over coparcenary property is claimed, the plaintiff cannot be subjected to the DNA test against his wishes.

“When the plaintiff is unwilling to subject himself to the DNA test, forcing him to undergo one would impinge on his personal liberty and his right to privacy.”

The Court explained that DNA is unique to an individual (barring twins) and can be used to identify a person’s identity, trace familial linkages or even reveal sensitive health information. The Court should therefore examine the proportionality of the legitimate aims being pursued, i.e whether the same are not arbitrary or discriminatory, whether they may have an adverse impact on the person and that they justify the encroachment upon the privacy and personal autonomy of the person, being subjected to the DNA Test.

The Court was deciding the case where, in a declaratory suit for ownership over coparcenary property, the plaintiff had already adduced ‘enough’ documentary evidence to prove relationship between the parties. The Court noticed that in such cases, the Court’s decision should be rendered only after balancing the interests of the parties, i.e, the quest for truth, and the social and cultural implications involved therein.

“The possibility of stigmatizing a person as a bastard, the ignominy that attaches to an adult who, in the mature years of his life is shown to be not the biological son of his parents may not only be a heavy cross to bear but would also intrude upon his right of privacy.”

The Court held that in such kind of litigation where the interest will have to be balanced and the test of eminent need is not satisfied our considered opinion is that the protection of the right to privacy of the Plaintiff should get precedence.

It was, hence, held that the respondent cannot compel the plaintiff to adduce further evidence in support of the defendants’ case. In any case, it is the burden on a litigating party to prove his case adducing evidence in support of his plea and the court should not compel the party to prove his case in the manner, suggested by the contesting party.

Important Rulings

Banarsi Dass v. Teeku Dutta, (2005) 4 SCC 449

DNA test is not to be directed as a matter of routine but only in deserving cases. The presumption of legitimacy is this, that a child born of a married woman is deemed to be legitimate, it throws on the person who is interested in making out the illegitimacy, the whole burden of proving it. The law presumes both that a marriage ceremony is valid, and that every person is legitimate. Marriage or filiation (parentage) may be presumed, the law in general presuming against vice and immorality.

Bhabani Prasad Jena v. Convenor Secretary, Orissa State Commission for Women, (2010) 8 SCC 633

The discretion of the court must be exercised after balancing the interests of the parties and whether a DNA Test is needed for a just decision in the matter and such a direction satisfies the test of “eminent need”.

Dipanwita Roy v. Ronobroto Roy, (2015) 1 SCC 365

In the said case the husband alleged infidelity against his wife and questioned the fatherhood of the child born to his wife. In those circumstances, it was held that when the wife had denied the charge of infidelity, the Court opined that but for the DNA test, it would be impossible for the husband to establish the assertion made in the pleadings. In these facts, the decision of the High Court to order for DNA testing was approved by the Supreme Court.

[Ashok Kumar v. Raj Gupta, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 848, decided on 01.10.2021]

___________________________________________________________________________________

Counsels:

For appellant-plaintiff: Advocate Sunieta Ojha

For respondent – defendants: Senior Advocate Rameshwar Singh Malik


*Judgment by: Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Know Thy Judge | Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of S.V. Gangapurwala and Shrikant D. Kulkarni, JJ., expressed that,

In a welfare State, statutory authorities are bound, not only to pay adequate compensation, but there is also a legal obligation upon them to rehabilitate such persons. The non-fulfilment of their obligations would tantamount to forcing the said uprooted persons to become vagabonds or to indulge in anti-national activities as such sentiments would be born in them on account of such ill-treatment.

Factual Matrix

Petitioners owned agricultural lands adjacent to a National Highway and on the said lands, they had their residential houses, wells, fruit trees, bore-well, etc. which were also adjacent to National Highway.

The said road came to be converted into State Highway without payment of any compensation while expansion of the same.

It has been submitted that, respondents are trying to take forcible possession of the lands of the petitioners and respondent authorities cautioned the petitioners to use police force while taking possession. Though petitioners made it clear that they are not opposing the road widening in question but the authority should acquire their respective lands for up-gradation of the roads as per the due procedure of law.

The said up-gradation is being done in phase wise manner and petitioners are concerned with the phase of Dhangar Pimpri to Wadigodri for which the authorities are attempting to take the forceful possession of their lands under the pretext of resolution regarding adjacent lands of road which need not require acquisition.

Further, it was added that the action initiated by the respondent-authorities thereby taking forcible possession of the lands belonging to the petitioners for road widening by showing the Government Resolution was contrary to the provision of Article 300-A of the Constitution of India.

Respondent authorities stand was that they are expending the road on the existing road of 30 meters. They are upgrading the same and there is no need to acquire the lands of the adjacent land holders as they won’t be affected by the same.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Width of the road – 12 or 30 metres?

As per standards, the width of the State Highway should be 30 meters. The road in question was a District Road. As per standard width of the District Road is 12 meters. By way of notification dated 19th April, 1967, the road in question was declared as State Highway in the year 1967. The question comes when District Road came to be declared as State Highway. How the width of the road is enhanced to 30 meters. Was there any acquisition of lands of adjacent land owners by way of proceedings under the old Land Acquisition Act of 1894? No record is forthcoming from both sides in order to clear the position.

Bench stated that merely, producing maps of certain villages and copies of road development plans, may not be helpful to arrive at a conclusion and record finding to that effect as the said would be an erroneous exercise. Further, it was noted by the Bench that at some places the width of the road of 30 meters and at some, it was less than 30 meters.

The right to property ceased to be a fundamental right by the Constitution (Forty Fourth Amendment) Act, 1978, however, it continued to be a human right in a welfare State, and a constitutional right under Article 300 A of the Constitution.

Article 300 A provides that no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.

 Is there an obligation to pay compensation under Article 300 A?

High Court remarked that obligation to pay compensation, though may not expressly included in Article 300 A, can be inferred from that Article. To forcibly dispossess a person of his private property without following due process of law is certainly violative of human right and so also, constitutional right provided under Article 300 A of the Constitution.

Elaborating more, High Court held that depriving persons of their immovable properties, was a clear violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

It is not permissible for any welfare State to uproot a person and deprive him of his fundamental/constitutional/human rights, under the garb of industrial development.

In view of the present facts of the case, High Court expressed that, respondents are the State authorities and Central authorities constructing National Highway. They are expected to be model litigants and are expected to respect the rights of petitioners and follow due procedure of law when property is likely to be acquired.

In a society governed by rule of law, there should not be arbitrariness in any decision.

In the instant case, there was no conclusive proof to establish the width of road to be 30 meters and no question of acquiring lands of petitioners.

Hence, there should be a joint measurement of road in presence of the petitioners and respondents under the supervision of District Collector, Jalna and if the width of the road at respective villages is found to be 30 meters, there shall not any question of acquisition of adjacent lands of the petitioners and if otherwise, then Centre and State shall follow due process of law in acquiring the same. [Bhagauji v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 982, decided on 3-07-2021]


About the Bench:

JUSTICE SANJAY VIJAYKUMAR GANGAPURWALA

He was born on 24-05-1962.

Stood third in the order of merit in LL.B. examination. Started practice in the year 1985 and joined Chambers of advocate Shri S.N.Loya. Practiced in trial Court, High Court and Debt Recovery Tribunal. Was an advocate for Financial Institutions such as Central Bank of India, Bombay Mercantile Cooperative Bank, Jalgaon Janata Sahakari Bank, many Corporate bodies and Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. Also represented Government before Justice Mane Commission. Had privilege to be the advocate of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.

Extracurricular activities: Is a keen sportsman played lawn tennis at National level. Represented Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marthwada University six times and captained it twice in All India University Tournament. Played Basketball at State level. He was the Honourary part-time lecturer in M.P.Law College since 1991 till date of elevation as Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court on 13-3-2010.

JUSTICE SHRIKANT DATTATRAY KULKARNI

Graduated in Commerce (Hons.) from G.A. College of Commerce, Sangli. Completed LL.B. in the year 1984 from N.S. Law College, Sangli. Did LL.M. from Bharti Vidyapeeth, Pune and Diploma in Cyber Law (D.I.C.L.) from Government Law College, Mumbai and enrolled as an Advocate with Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa in the year 1985.

Practiced at various places in Sangli District and joined judiciary in the year 1990. Promoted as Addl.District Judge in the year 2002.

Worked as Registrar (Personnel) and Registrar (Judicial) at Principal seat Bombay from 2013 to 2015. Appointed as Principal District & Sessions Judge, Ahmednagar and worked from the year 2015 to 13th July 2017.

Worked as Member Secretary, Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority from 14th July 2017 to 13th January 2020.

Elevated as Judge of Bombay High Court on 14th January 2020.


SOURCE: Bombay High Court Website

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge Bench comprising of Sanjay Kishan Kaul*, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., has set aside the impugned order of High Court of judicature at Madhya Pradesh, whereby the High Court had upheld taking over of possession and eviction under MP Land Revenue Code, 1959.

Factual Background

The predecessors of the appellant was bhumiswami of agricultural dry land measuring 64.438 acres situated in Village Bagadua, MP, which was in excess of the ceiling limit prescribed as per S. 7(b) of MP Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960, whereby the prescribed limit was set at 54 acres. Therefore, the competent authority had initiated the process to acquire the surplus land. In furtherance of the aforesaid, the State had initiated the process of taking over possession and eviction under Section 248 of the MP Land Revenue Code, 1959.  The appellant, being aggrieved filed a suit for declaration of title and permanent injunction before the Trial Court.  The appellant contended that the proceedings were illegal as he was actually left with only 54 acres of land which was within the prescribed ceiling limit in view of the fact that the land measuring 17 bighas and 7 biswa had been decreed in favour of one Jenobai, who was in possession by cultivation for about 20 years.

The Trial Court had held that the appellant was the original bhumiswami and the suit with Jenobai was collusive as she was the mother-in-law of the appellant and the endeavour was to prevent the surplus land from being acquired by the State. The appellant filed an appeal before First Appellate Court , which was allowed and the judgment of the trial court was set aside on the ground that the competent authority had failed to comply with the statutory provisions under Section 11(3) and 11(4) of the said Act. However, the said judgment was set aside by the High Court noticing that no information was stated to have been provided to the competent authority giving particulars of the suit of Jenobai. The competent authority was held not to be at fault in the alleged breach of Sections 11(3) and 11(4) of the Act, 1960 as the information germane for the same had not been disclosed.

Observation and Analysis

 Whether the requirement of S. 9 of the Act, 1960 had been fulfilled?

To decide this issue the Court had directed both the parties to submit certain records before it, however, the State had failed to comply with the same. Therefore, it was held that failure to place the aforementioned documents on record showed that there had been proper disclosure about the suit in the return filed under Section 9.  The fact that the respondent had pleaded the suit in question to be collusive was also considered to be a proof that the particulars of the pending civil suit filed by the mother-in-law of the appellant claiming part of the land held by the appellant were submitted before the respondent.

 Whether obtaining of possession was according to the procedure established by law?

According to Section 11(3) of the Act, 1960 the draft statement had to be published and served on the holder and “all other persons interested in the land to which it relates.” Once a disclosure was there that Jenobai had filed a suit, there had to be mandatorily a notice to her, as otherwise any decision would be behind her back and would, thus, violate the principles of natural justice. The Bench observed the proviso to 11(4), which clarified that, in case the competent authority finds that any question has arisen regarding the title of a particular holder, which is already pending for decision before the competent court, the competent authority shall await the decision of the court. Hence, the Court held that proceedings should have been kept in abeyance to await the verdict in the suit and notice should have been issued to Jenobai.  The Bench expressed,

“Right to property is still a constitutional right under Article 300A of the Constitution of India though not a fundamental right. The deprivation of the right can only be in accordance with the procedure established by law.”

 The law in this case was the said Act. Thus, the provisions of the said Act had to be complied with to deprive a person of the land being surplus. It was further stated that, once a disclosure was made, the matter had to be dealt with under sub-section (4) of Section 11 of the said Act and in view of the pending suit proceedings between the appellant and Jenobai, the proviso came into play which required the respondent authorities to await the decision of the court. Sub-section 5 and thereafter sub-section 6 would kick in only after the mandate of subsection 4 was fulfilled.

Though there may be a process provided for redressal under the scheme of the Act, it is this very scheme of the Act which has been breached by the respondents herein in not complying with the statutory provisions.

Whether Jurisdiction of Civil Court is barred?

 Regarding the issue of jurisdiction of civil court the Bench analysed Section 46 of the Act, 1960, which reads as under:

46. Bar of jurisdiction of Civil Courts. – Save as expressly provided in this Act, no Civil Court shall have any jurisdiction to settle, decide or deal with any question which is by or under this Act required to be settled, decided or dealt with by the competent authority.”

Noticing that Section 46 begins with a saving clause qua the bar of civil court – “Save as expressly provided in this Act…..” the Bench held that, provisions of Section 46 were expressly subjected to the provisions of Section 11(5). Reliance was placed on   Competent Authority, Tarana District, Ujjain (M.P.) v. Vijay Gupta, 1991 Supp (2) SCC 631, by the Bench, wherein, while deciding the question of jurisdiction of Civil Court, the Court had expressed,

“So far as the other question regarding the maintainability of the suit in a civil court is concerned, suffice to say that sub-section (5) of Section 11 of the Act itself provides that any party may within three months from the date of any order passed by the Competent Authority under sub-section (4) of Section 11 of the Act institute a suit in the civil court to have the order set aside. Thus the above provision itself permits the filing of a suit in a civil court and any decision of such court has been made binding on the Competent Authority under the above provision of sub-section (5) of Section 11 of the Act. It is not in dispute that the suit in the present case was filed within three months as provided under sub-section (5) of Section 11 of the Act. In the result, we do not find any force in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed with no order as to costs.”

Decision

Considering the above mentioned, the Bench held that when there was no surplus land there could be no question of any proceedings for take over of the surplus land under the said Act. Hence, the impugned order was set and the order of the first appellate court was restored. [Bajranga v. State of Madhya Pradesh,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 27, decided on 19-01-2021]


*Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has penned this judgment


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: N. Seshasayee, J., said that if the allegations made in the present petition were true then it exposes the callousness with which District Authorities deal with citizens’ right to property.

In the instant matter, it has been stated that some 16 years back, on 30-12-2004, a 4(1) notification was issued under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Harijan Welfare Schemes Act, 1978 for acquiring the lands of the petitioners.

The above was challenged by the petitioners. Court had provided legal advice to the State Government/authorities concerned to go for fresh acquisition following the due process of law.  Till date, nothing has been done.

Further, it was added that the petitioner has been running from pillar to post to have their properties re-mutated in their names.

After no relief, petitioners approached the Court with the instant petition.

Bench expressed that, if the allegations were true then it only displays the apathy with which the Authorities deal with the right to property of the citizens of this country. They need to be told that right to property has a close nexus to right to life within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

By the inaction, the authorities had denied the right to these citizens at least for 10 years, and to that extent, they have transgressed the quality of life of the citizens of this country within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

D. Raja, Additional Government Pleader took notice for the respondent. He was directed to make a statement as to the correctness of the allegations made. The matter was posted for 11 -1-2021.

[Report will be updated when further order is available.]

[Jayalakshmi v. State of T.N., WP No. 181 of 2021, decided on 08-01-2021]

Jharkhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Rajesh Shankar, J., quashing the impugned letter, held, “The respondent 5 being an administrative/revenue Officer is supposed to know the basic law and he can not be permitted to act without jurisdiction so as to infringe the right to property of the petitioners in an arbitrary fashion.”

Background

The factual background of the case as stated in the writ petition is that the petitioners purchased the said land by virtue of three separate sale deeds and they came in peaceful possession of their respective land. Thereafter, they decided to construct a residential apartment over the same, however, some miscreants started threatening and making demand of ransom from them. Two individuals filed a petition under Section 144 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, before the Sub Divisional Officer, Sadar Ranchi, which was registered as Case No. M-2073 of 2019, and, thereafter, the petitioners were restrained by the respondents 5 and 6 from initiating construction work. Ultimately, the Sub-Divisional Officer, Sadar, Ranchi dismissed the aforesaid case vide order dated 22-01-2020. The petitioners then filed a representation dated 31-05-2020 requesting the respondent 6 to maintain law and order situation as the petitioners were apprehending interference of local goons once the construction work was started. However, when the petitioners started construction work in the month of May, 2020, the husband of the petitioner 2 was attacked and threatened by local goons and an amount of 10 lac was demanded as ransom from him which was duly reported to the police, resultantly an FIR was registered. The respondent 5 vide letter no.37/(ii) dated 08-06-2020 directed the respondent no.6 to take steps for stopping the construction work taking place over the said land, as Original Suit No.18 of 2020 was pending in the court of Civil Judge Senior Division-I, Ranchi. The said letter was subsequently handed over to the petitioners by the respondent no.6. Thereafter, the respondent no.6 issued notice dated 09-06-2020 to the petitioners, directing them to stop construction work over the said land till the disposal of the aforesaid suit in the light of the direction issued by the respondent 5 vide letter no.37/(ii) dated 08-06-2020. The present petition is moved to question the authority of the said notices and further for setting aside the same.

Contentions

Counsel for the petitioner, Amritansh Vats, referred to a catena of judgments by the Supreme Court, to emphasize that Right to Property is a Constitutional Right under Article 300-A of the Constitution and the Respondent authority does not possess any power or jurisdiction to arbitrarily restrain the petitioners from enjoying such right. Reliance was placed on;

  • Hari Krishna Mandir Trust v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 631, In this case, the Supreme Court held that the right to property may not be a fundamental right any longer but it is still a constitutional right under Article 300-A as well as a human right and no person can be deprived of his property save by the authority of law. The High Courts exercising their jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, not only have the power to issue a Writ of Mandamus or in nature thereof, but are duty-bound to exercise such power where the government or public authority has failed to exercise or has wrongly exercised discretion conferred upon it by a Statute, or a rule, or a policy decision of the government or has exercised such discretion with malafide, or on irrelevant consideration.
  • M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 648, With respect to the enforceability of Article 300-A, the Court observed, “The law in this behalf is explicit. Right of a person to construct residential houses in the residential area is a valuable right. The said right can only be regulated in terms of a regulatory statute but unless there exists a clear provision the same cannot be taken away.”
  • State of Rajasthan v. Basant Nahata, (2005) 12 SCC 77, In the present case, the Court categorically held, “In absence of any substantive provision contained in a parliamentary or legislative enactment, a person cannot be refrained from dealing with his property in any manner he likes. Such statutory interdict would be opposed to one’s right to property as envisaged under Article 300-A of the Constitution.”
  • State of U.P. v. Manohar, (2005) 2 SCC 126, Supreme Court remarked, in the words,
    “Para 7. Ours is a constitutional democracy and the rights available to the citizens are declared by the Constitution. Although Article 19(1)(f) was deleted by the Forty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution, Article 300-A has been placed in the Constitution, which reads as follows:
    300-A. Persons not to be deprived of property save by authority of law.—No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.
    Para 8. This is a case where we find utter lack of legal authority for deprivation of the respondent’s property by the appellants who are State authorities. In our view, this case was an eminently fit one for exercising the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. In our view, the High Court was somewhat liberal in not imposing exemplary costs on the appellants. We would have perhaps followed suit, but for the intransigence displayed before us.”
  • Delhi Airtech Services v. State of U.P., (2011) 9 SCC 354, A synonymity was drawn between the word ‘law’ as used under Article 21 and under Article 300-A by the Supreme Court, stating, “ Para 83. The expression law which figures both in Article 21 and Article 300-A must be given the same meaning. In both cases, the law would mean a validly enacted law. In order to be valid law it must be just, fair and reasonable having regard to the requirement of Articles 14 and 21 as explained in Maneka Gandhi, (1978) 1 SCC 248. This is especially so, as “law” in both the Articles 21 and 300-A is meant to prevent deprivation of rights. Insofar as Article 21 is concerned, it is a fundamental right whereas in Article 300-A it is a constitutional right which has been given a status of a basic human right.”

Observation

With respect to the alleged arbitrary exercise of power by the Administrative/Revenue Officer “If a suit is filed in any civil court, it is the court concerned which may grant an injunction on an application of the aggrieved person, if it is established that there exists a prima facie case, balance of convenience lies in his favour and if such order is not passed, he would suffer irreparable loss and injury. It is a settled law that mere filing of a suit does not entitle the plaintiff to presume an order of status quo unless the court by a specific order grants the same having taken into consideration the facts, applicable law and judicial pronouncement. The Circle officer has no power or jurisdiction to grant status quo on the mere filing of a civil suit. The respondent 5 being an administrative/revenue Officer is supposed to know the basic law and he can not be permitted to act without jurisdiction so as to infringe the right to property of the petitioners in an arbitrary fashion.”

Decision

Allowing the present petition, the Court quashed the impugned letter no. 37(ii) dated 08-06-2020 issued by the Circle Officer, as well as the letter dated 09-06-2020 issued by the Police Inspector cum officer in charge of the Kanke Police Station, Ranchi.[Sandip Khanna v. State of Jharkhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 1020, decided on 14-12-2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the Union of India was sitting over certain lands since 33 years without any authority, the bench of Indira Banerjee and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ directed the Union of India to hand back possession of the suit lands to the appellants, within three months.

“33 years (based upon cessation of the Union’s legal possession) is a long enough time, even in India, to be kept away from one’s property.”


Background of the Case


  • Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable properties Act, 1952 was brought into force on 15.03.1952 with the object to enable the Union to requisition or acquire immovable property if the competent authority was of the opinion that any property was necessary for a public purpose. By Section 1(3), the Requisitioning Act was to be in force for six years. Section 3 clothed the Union with the power to requisition properties for any public purpose; Section 7 provided the procedure to requisition (or acquire) lands. It also spelt-out the condition precedents for exercise of the power. Section 8 provided for compensation with regard to property. Section 8(2) laid out the principles applicable for determination of compensation for the property as a recurring one.
  • On 27.02.1958, the Requisitioning Act was amended and the period of its operation extended. In the meanwhile, the Defence of India Act, 1962 (DIA) was enacted by Parliament empowering the Central Government with powers akin to those enacted under the Requisitioning Act.
  • The Union invoked its powers under the DIA and requisitioned the three described properties which belonged to the predecessor of the appellants in 1963.
  • By Act 48 of 1963, Section 1(3) of the Requisitioning Act was amended, and the period of operation of the Requisitioning Act was extended till 14.03.1970. In the meanwhile, the DIA lapsed with effect from 10.01.1968. The Requisitioning Act was amended, incorporating Section 25, which enacted that the immovable property requisitioned under the DIA, which had not been released as on 10.01.1968 was deemed to have been requisitioned under the Requisition Act. It also continued the status quo with respect to determination of compensation completed under the DIA.
  • The Union’s occupation ceased to be lawful, with the lapse of the Requisitioning Act, in 1987.
  • Union asserted that it had acquired at least some parts of the suit lands; these were examined by the High Court on two occasions, and in arbitration proceedings under the Requisitioning Act, on three occasions. The High Court, while noticing that the Union’s claim had no merits (in both its appeal, which was dismissed, as well as in the impugned judgment, disposing of the writ petition), nevertheless refused to issue any direction for the release of the suit lands. The rationale given was that the adjoining areas had been acquired and were used by the Union for defense purposes. The impugned judgment granted indefinite time to the Union to take steps to acquire the suit lands. The Union has not chosen to do so these last 12 years.

Analysis


Legal effect of requisitioning immovable property

Temporarily- i.e. for the period the requisition order is in operation, the owner loses her possessory rights, even though the title remains undisturbed. Since the deprivation of possession is through authority of law, in keeping with fair procedure, the law provides for payment of compensation in accordance with predetermined principles.

“Yet, the taking of property by definition is finite: it cannot result in expropriation or deprivation of title altogether, unless another process for acquiring it, is initiated.”

Right to Property

Stating that it is not open to the state: in any of its forms (executive, state agencies, or legislature) to claim that the law – or the constitution can be ignored, or complied at its convenience, the Court noticed that although the right to property is not a fundamental right protected under Part III of the Constitution of India, it remains a valuable constitutional right. Though its pre-eminence as a fundamental right has been undermined, nevertheless, the essence of the rule of law protects it.

“The phrasing of Article 300-A is determinative and its resemblance with Articles 21 and 265 cannot be overlooked- they in effect, are a guarantee of the supremacy of the rule of law, no less. To permit the state: whether the Union or any state government to assert that it has an indefinite or overriding right to continue occupying one’s property (bereft of lawful sanction)– whatever be the pretext, is no less than condoning lawlessness.”

It was further stated that any condonation by the court is a validation of such unlawful executive behavior which it then can justify its conduct on the anvil of some loftier purpose, at any future time- aptly described as a “loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.”

Discussion on facts

Union’s assertion that it had acquired at least some parts of the suit lands was examined by the High Court on two occasions, and in arbitration proceedings under the Requisitioning Act, on three occasions. Each time, the factual findings went against the Union.

“The Union’s occupation ceased to be lawful, with the lapse of the Requisitioning Act, in 1987. Yet, it has implacably refused to hand back possession, each time asserting that it has some manner of rights over it. These facts paint a stark, even sordid picture.”

The Court, hence, held that the impugned judgment of the Karnataka High Court committed an error in refusing relief to the appellants.

Directions

  • The Union of India is directed to hand back possession of the suit lands to the appellants, within three months.
  • It is open to the appellants to seek compensation based on fresh fixation of capital value and recurring annual value, based on the different five- year periods for the last 20 years. Such a claim shall be referred to arbitration, within four weeks of receipt of the reference. The arbitrator shall proceed to pronounce the award within six months of receipt of the reference. This is independent of the Union’s obligation to vacate and hand over peaceful possession of the suit lands within three months.
  • The appellants shall be paid costs, quantified at ₹ 75,000/-.

[BK Ravichandra v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 950, decided on 24.11.2020]


*Justice S. Ravindra Bhat has penned this judgment

For Appellant: Senior Advocate Mohan Parasaran

For Respondent: Additional Solicitor General K.M. Natraj

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ has held that daughters have right in coparcenary by birth and that it is not necessary that the father coparcener should be living when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into force.

The conferral of right is by birth, and the rights are given in the same manner with incidents of coparcenary as that of a son and she is treated as a coparcener in the same manner with the same rights as if she had been a son at the time of birth.”

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

The Court was dealing with a reference relating to the interpretation of section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 as amended by Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 in view of the conflicting verdicts rendered in two Division Bench judgments in Prakash v. Phulavati, (2016) 2 SCC 36 and Danamma v. Amar, (2018) 3 SCC 343.

Prakash v. Phulvati ruling

section 6 is not retrospective in operation, and it applies when both coparceners and his daughter were alive on the date of commencement of Amendment Act, 9.9.2005. The provision contained in the Explanation to section 6(5) provides for the requirement of partition for substituted section 6 is to be a registered one or by a decree of a court, can have no application to a statutory notional partition on the opening of succession as provided in the unamended Section 6. The notional statutory partition is deemed to have taken place to ascertain the share of the deceased coparcener which is not covered either under the proviso to section 6(1) or section 6(5), including its Explanation. The registration requirement is inapplicable to partition of property by operation of law, which has to be given full effect.

Danamma v. Amar Ruling

The amended provisions of section 6 confer full rights upon the daughter coparcener. Any   coparcener, including a daughter, can claim a partition in the coparcenary property. The father, in the said case, died in the year 2001, leaving behind two daughters, two sons, and a widow. Coparcener’s father was not alive when the substituted provision of section 6 came into force. The daughters, sons and the widow were given 1/5th share apiece.

DETAILED EXPLANATION OF LAW IN REFERENCE

On the law on Coparcenary and Joint Hindu Family

Coparcenary property is the one which is inherited by a Hindu from his father, grandfather, or great grandfather. Property inherited from others is held in his rights and cannot be treated as forming part of the coparcenary. The property in coparcenary is held as joint owners. Coparcener heirs get right by birth. Another method to be a coparcener is by way of adoption.

“As earlier, a woman could not be a coparcener, but she could still be a joint family member. By substituted section 6 with effect from 9.9.2005 daughters are recognised as coparceners in their rights, by birth in the family like a son. Coparcenary is the creation of law. Only a coparcener has a right to demand partition. Test is if a person can demand a partition, he is a coparcener not otherwise.”

On unobstructed and obstructed heritage

Unobstructed heritage takes place by birth, and the obstructed heritage takes place after the death of the owner. It is significant to note that under section 6 by birth, right is given that is called unobstructed heritage. It is not the obstructed heritage depending upon the owner’s death.Thus, coparcener father need not be alive on 9.9.2005, date of substitution of provisions of Section 6.

On effect of death of father before the Amendment Act, 2005 came into force

Rejecting the argument that if the father or any other coparcener died before the Amendment Act, 2005, the interest of the father or other coparcener would have already merged in the surviving coparcenary, and there was no coparcener alive from whom the daughter would succeed. It said,

“It is not by the death of the father or other coparcener that rights accrue. It is by the factum of birth. It is only when a female of Class I heir is left, or in case of her death, male relative is left, the share of the deceased coparcener is fixed to be distributed by a deemed partition, in the event of an actual partition, as and when it takes place as per the proviso to unamended section 6.”

On possibility of uncertainty if daughter is given the right to be a coparcener by birth

The Court also rejected the contention that if the daughter is given the right to be a coparcener by birth and deemed to become a coparcener at any point in the past, in the normal working of the law, uncertainty would be caused.

It said that no uncertainty is brought about by the provisions of section 6 as the law of Mitakshara coparcenary makes the share of surviving coparceners uncertain till actual partition takes place. Uncertainty in the right of share in a Mitakshara coparcenary is inhered in its underlying principles, and there is no question of upturning it when the daughter is treated like a son and is given the right by birth; to be exercised from a particular date, i.e., 9.9.2005.

“There is no doubt about it that advancement brings about the enlargement of the size of the coparcenary and disabling it from treating the daughter unequally. Even otherwise, its size could be enlarged by the birth of a son also.”

By applying section 8, the joint possession was not repudiated by the fact that a female, whether a wife or daughter, inherited the share of coparcener under the proviso to original section 6. She was an equal member of the joint Hindu family and deemed statutory partition did not bring disruption of the coparcenary.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The provisions of section 6 have been held to be prospective. The provisions contained in substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 confer status of coparcener on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as son with same rights and liabilities.
  • The rights can be claimed by the daughter born earlier with effect from 9.9.2005 with savings as provided in Section 6(1) as to the disposition or alienation, partition or testamentary disposition which had taken place before 20th day of December, 2004.
  • Since the right in coparcenary is by birth, it is not necessary that father coparcener should be living as on 9.9.2005.
  • The statutory fiction of partition created by proviso to Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 as originally enacted did not bring about the actual partition or disruption of coparcenary. The fiction was only for the purpose of ascertaining share of deceased coparcener when he was survived by a female heir, of Class­I as specified in the Schedule to the Act of 1956 or male relative of such female. The provisions of the substituted Section 6 are required to be given full effect. Notwithstanding that a preliminary decree has been passed the daughters are to be given share in coparcenary equal to that of a son in pending proceedings for final decree or in an appeal.
  • In view of the rigor of provisions of Explanation to Section 6(5) of the Act of 1956, a plea of oral partition cannot be accepted as the statutory recognised mode of partition effected by a deed of partition duly registered under the provisions of the Registration Act, 1908 or effected by a decree of a court. However, in exceptional cases where plea of oral partition is supported by public documents and partition is finally evinced in the same manner as if it had been affected by a decree of a court, it may be accepted.  A plea of partition based on oral evidence alone cannot be accepted and to be rejected outrightly.

[Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 641, decided on 11.08.2020]


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Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Indira Banjerjee and Indu Malhotra, JJ that the Courts are duty bound to issue a writ of Mandamus for enforcement of a public duty.

“The High Courts exercising their jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, not only have the power to issue a Writ of Mandamus or in the nature of Mandamus, but are duty bound to exercise such power, where the Government or a public authority has failed to exercise or has wrongly exercised discretion conferred upon it by a Statute, or a rule, or a policy decision of the Government or has exercised such discretion malafide, or on irrelevant consideration.”

The Court was hearing the case pertaining to a private road in Pune being declared as being owned by Pune Municipal Corporation whilst in the property records, there was no private road.  In 1970, by an order of the Pune Municipal Corporation, a Plot was divided into 4 plots and a private road admeasuring 414.14 square meters. Read more

“There is no whisper as to how the road came to be shown as in possession of Pune Municipal Commissioner nor of the procedure adopted for effecting changes, if any, in the property records.”

Considering the issue at hand, the Court noticed in case of dispossession except under the authority of law, the owner might obtain restoration of possession by a proceeding for Mandamus against the Government. It said that in all such cases, the High Court must issue a Writ of Mandamus and give directions to compel performance in an appropriate and lawful manner of the discretion conferred upon the Government or a public authority.”

“In appropriate cases, in order to prevent injustice to the parties, the Court may itself pass an order or give directions which the government or the public authorities should have passed, had it properly and lawfully exercised its discretion.”

Stating that the Court is duty bound to issue a writ of Mandamus for enforcement of a public duty, the bench said that there can be no doubt that an important requisite for issue of Mandamus is that Mandamus lies to enforce a legal duty. This duty must be shown to exist towards the applicant.

“A statutory duty must exist before it can be enforced through Mandamus. Unless a statutory duty or right can be read in the provision, Mandamus cannot be issued to enforce the same.”

It further said that High Court is not deprived of its jurisdiction to entertain a petition under Article 226 merely because in considering the petitioner’s right to relief questions of fact may fall to be determined. In a petition under Article 226 the High Court has jurisdiction to try issues both of fact and law. Exercise of the jurisdiction is, it is true, discretionary, but the discretion must be exercised on sound judicial principles.

[Hari Krishna Mandir Trust v. State of Maharashtra,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 631, decided on 07.08.2020]


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Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme court: The 2-judge bench of Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, JJ has held that Section 88 of Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 cannot be read in isolation from the other provisions of the Act, particularly Sections 65, 66, 125 and 126 thereof. It further, said,

“however laudable be the purpose, the Executive cannot deprive a person of his property without specific legal authority, which can be established in a court of law.”

On whether Section 88 of Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 can be read in isolation

Section 125 read with Section 126 enables the state/Planning authority to acquire land. Section 65 read with Section 66, on the other hand, protect the interests of the owners. Considering all the relevant provisions, the Court held that on a proper construction of Section 88, when land is acquired for the purposes of a Development Scheme, the same vests in the State free from encumbrances. No third party can claim any right of easement to the land, or claim any right as an occupier, licensee, tenant, lessee, mortgagee or under any sale agreement. However,

“Section 88 of the Regional and Town Planning Act cannot be read in isolation. It has to be read with Section 125 to 129 relating to compulsory acquisition as also Section 59, 69 and 65.”

On Right to property vis-à-vis Doctrine of Eminent Domain

Article 300A of the Constitution of India embodies the doctrine of eminent domain which comprises two parts,

  • possession of property in the public interest; and
  • payment of reasonable compensation.

Noticing that the right to property may not be a fundamental right any longer, but it is still a constitutional right under Article 300A and a human right, the Court said that the right to property includes any proprietary interest hereditary interest in the right of management of a religion endowment, as well as anything acquired by inheritance. However laudable be the purpose, the Executive cannot deprive a person of his property without specific legal authority, which can be established in a court of law.

“In case of dispossession except under the authority of law, the owner might obtain restoration of possession by a proceeding for Mandamus against the Government.”

Factual background and Ruling

The Court was hearing the case pertaining to a private road in Pune being declared as being owned by Pune Municipal Corporation whilst in the property records, there was no private road.  In 1970, by an order of the Pune Municipal Corporation, a Plot was divided into 4 plots and a private road admeasuring 414.14 square meters.

On perusal of the documents, the Court noticed that there can be no doubt at all that the road in question measuring 444.14 sqm. never belonged to the Pune Municipal Corporation. In the property records, there was no private road. The Municipal Corporation was never shown as owner of the vacant plot or of any private road. Even assuming that there was any policy decision to have an approach road to every plot, it was incumbent upon the authorities concerned to acquire the land.

“There is no whisper as to how the road came to be shown as in possession of Pune Municipal Commissioner nor of the procedure adopted for effecting changes, if any, in the property records.”

The Court, hence, held that the Pune Municipal Corporation had a public duty under Section 91 to appropriately modify the scheme and to show the private road as property of its legitimate owners, as per the property records in existence, and or in the award of the Arbitrator.

It, hence, directed the Municipal Corporation to

“delete the name of the Pune Municipal Corporation as owner of the private road in the records pertaining to the Scheme and carry out such other consequential alterations as may be necessary under Section 91 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966.”

[Hari Krishna Mandir Trust v. State of Maharashtra,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 631, decided on 07.08.2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula, JJ., addressed a Public Interest Litigation, filed seeking direction to respondents to mandate that travellers of Delhi Metro Rail should provide proof of their identities and addresses while purchasing Metro cards from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

Petitioners stated that linking of metro card and token with address proof of travellers would protect the right to property in the event metro card or token is lost.

Further, in the wake of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is of utmost importance that the respondents should be aware about the details of the passengers travelling by Delhi Metro as it would help in preventing a patient from travelling and would also help in tracing the affected travellers in case a patient had unwillingly travelled in Delhi Metro.

Bench disposed the petition stating that petitioner may filed representation with respondent 3 to seek relief. [Rohit Mahawar v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 581 , decided on 08-05-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: The Bench of Krishna S. Dixit, J., allowed petition filed by a senior citizen challenging wrongful usurpation of his property.

Respondent herein had unauthorizedly appropriated petitioner’s land measuring 63,162 square feet without any acquisition process, for the formation of roads, parks. Petitioner was given no compensation for his land even after 16 years of acquisition. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the instant petition seeking restoration of his land and compensation of Rs 5 crores for illegal utilization of his land.

Petitioner’s contention was that respondent’s act was a gross violation of his constitutional right to property guaranteed under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India.

The Court took note of respondent’s resolution proposing to give 50 percent of the site area to petitioner and observed that instead of taking steps for implementation thereof, respondent passed another resolution stating that in view of one government order, petitioner would be granted 50 percent of the developed area, which was unconscionable. The second resolution was also not given effect.

It was opined that the institution of private property is the focal point of constitutional jurisprudence. Forcible or non-consensual taking away of property by the State or its instrumentalities, sans lawful acquisition process offends the pith and substance of Article 300-A which guarantees protection to private property from State interference. It was held that State and its instrumentalities cannot justify usurpation of private property without legal process on the ground that the same was for public use.

In view of the above, the respondent was directed to give ownership and possession of the developed area of subject land to the petitioner and pay Rs 1 lakh as damages.[P.G. Beliappa v. Bangalore Development Authority, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 187, Order dated 01-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Recently, High Court was hearing a petition from two brothers who were owners of a land which they wanted to sell to one person and for the same, had approached the Arpa Special Area Development Tribunal seeking No Objection Certificate, but denied by the authority for the reason that the said lands have been included in planning area and are required for construction of road under PPP project. The petitioners had approached the High Court under Article 226 challenging the rejection.

The petitioners contended that the right to property is a constitutional right under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India and there is no law prohibiting such transfer by the petitioners and respondent by its executive instruction cannot restrict the petitioners’ right to transfer their immovable property.

The Bench of Sanjay K Agrawal, J. observed that the town development scheme had not been notified under S. 50 (7) of the Chhattisgarh Nagar Tatha Gram Nivesh Adhiniyam 1973 and therefore, no restriction could be made to the owner’s right to transfer the land under S. 53 of Chhattisgarh Nagar Tatha Gram Nivesh Adhiniyam, 1973.

The Court after utmost circumspection of the records observed that right to property is a human right as well as a constitutional right referring to Indian Handcrafts Emporium v. Union of India, (2003) 7 SCC 589. Thus, it held that the right to acquire, hold and dispose of the property has ceased to be a fundamental right under the Constitution of India, but it continues to be a legal or constitutional right that no person can be deprived of his property save and except by and in accordance with law and further explained that the word “law” under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India would mean a validly enacted law meaning thereby a just, fair and reasonable law referring to Delhi Airtech Services (P) Ltd. v. State of U.P., (2011) 9 SCC 354 . The Court finally directed the tribunal to grant NOC to the owners of the land within three weeks. [Narayan Prasad v. State of Chhatisgarh,  2017 SCC OnLine Chh 1226, decided on 26.10.2017]