Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 21 R. 89 and S. 151 — Auction-sale of property of guarantor in execution of decree: In this case, no opportunity was given to guarantor to repay entire decretal amount due before putting said property to sale. There was allegation of non-compliance with requirements of Or. 21 R. 89 CPC and application for setting aside the sale was also under S. 151 CPC. It was held that the property auctioned was that of guarantor, and even before auction-sale was held, said guarantor had started repaying the due amount in instalments and had repaid the full sum due, soon after auction-sale was confirmed. In such circumstances, without expressing any view on compliance/non-compliance with requirements of Or. 21 R. 89 CPC, the Supreme Court held, High Court had rightly set aside the auction-sale. [Paul v. T. Mohan, (2020) 5 SCC 138]

Contract and Specific Relief — Termination/Discharge of Contract — Termination by Frustration/Impossibility — Grounds of Frustration — Generally — Force majeure events: In case of occurrence of an event which renders performance of contract impossible, by virtue of S. 56, Contract Act, 1872, contract in such a case, held, becomes void and parties are exempted from further performance thereof. However, in terms of S. 32 of Contract Act, parties may instead choose consequences that would flow on happening of an uncertain future event. Further, under S. 65 of Contract Act, a limited mechanism exists to ameliorate harsh consequences of frustration of contract. Furthermore, in order to mitigate the harsh consequences of frustration and to uphold the sanctity of the contract, the parties may choose to mitigate the risk by inserting force majeure clauses, in which case the matter would be governed by the clause in question. [South East Asia Marine Engg. & constructions Ltd. (SEAMEC Ltd.) v. Oil India Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 164]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 438 — Grant of anticipatory bail: Law clarified regarding (1) When may be granted; (2) Offences in respect of which may be granted [except where there is a statutory bar or restriction]; (3) Duration for which may be granted; (4) Anticipatory bail granted cannot be a blanket protection; (5) Normal conditions; and Restrictive conditions that may be imposed while granting anticipatory bail, depending on facts and circumstances of the case; (6) Requirements of investigating agency under S. 27 of Evidence Act, met by concept of deemed custody when accused is on anticipatory bail; (7) Effect of filing of charge-sheet/issuance of summons in a case where accused is on anticipatory bail; (8) Recourse of investigating agency to have accused on anticipatory bail arrested at any time by order of court under S. 439(2), if circumstances so warrant (it being not always necessary to seek cancellation of the bail therefor); (9) Permissibility of exclusion of right to anticipatory bail by statute. [Sushila Aggarwal v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 5 SCC 1]

Energy, Power and Electricity — Electricity — Tariff — PPA: PPA is a statutory contract and it can be varied by statutory notifications. Notifications dt. 30-3-1992 and 6-11-1995 under S. 43-A of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, are statutory and binding on the parties. Further, any PPA between a generating company and the purchaser of electricity is subject to such statutory notifications. Parties by agreement cannot override statutory provisions, or such notifications, as far as they relate to matters of tariff. [CLP (India) (P) Ltd. v. Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 185]

Environment Law — Monuments and Environment — ‘Sisodia Rani ka Bagh’ monument located on Jaipur-Agra Highway: Directions were issued for protection of wildlife in reserve forest area and prohibition of laser lights, loud music and fireworks in monument. National Green Tribunal (NGT) completely prohibited all activities in ‘Sisodia Rani ka Bagh’ monument. As restricted use of monument was not going to affect wildlife and forest, and in view of the value of developmental projects of monument and surrounding area, order of NGT was modified. The Supreme Court would itself monitor beautification and other developmental projects relating to monument. However, laser lights, loud music and fireworks, completely prohibited. [Deptt. of Archaeology & Museums v. Ashish Gautam, (2020) 5 SCC 112] 

Evidence Act, 1872 — Ss. 65 and 66 — Secondary evidence — When can be admitted: Factual foundational evidence must be adduced showing reasons for not furnishing evidence. Mere admission in evidence and making exhibit of a document not enough as the same has to be proved in accordance with law. [Jagmail Singh v. Karamjit Singh, (2020) 5 SCC 178]

Human and Civil Rights — Humanitarian and Natural Disasters, Epidemics and Pandemics — COVID-19 Pandemic: In this case, there was challenge to Advisory whereby Rs 4500 was fixed as the price for screening and confirming COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by private labs. While considering overall aspects of matter, directions were issued for free of cost testing facility of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by government or private labs, and tests to be carried out by labs accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). [Shashank Deo Sudhi v. Union of India, (2020) 5 SCC 132]

Human and Civil Rights — Humanitarian and Natural Disasters, Epidemics and Pandemics — COVID-19 Pandemic: The ambit of directions issued regarding free testing of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) cases by government or private labs in Shashank Deo Sudhi, (2020) 5 SCC 132, clarified. [Shashank Deo Sudhi v. Union of India, (2020) 5 SCC 134]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 or S. 304 or S. 326 [S. 300 Exceptions 1 and 2] and S. 148: In this case, there was assault by accused persons (5 in number), with intention of taking revenge on account of right-of-way dispute, leading to death of one and injuries to others. The blows inflicted by Respondent 1-Accused 5, were with intention to kill deceased. The death of deceased was caused due to blow inflicted by Accused 5, and was homicidal death. The exercise of right of private defence also not made out as accused party were clearly the aggressors. The Supreme Court held that the High Court not correct in converting offence under S. 302 to one under S. 326. However, Accused 5, at relevant time, was deprived of power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, due to repeated unauthorised entry by complainant party, on fields belonging to accused party. Further, solitary fatal blow on vital part of head, by Accused 5, caused death of deceased. The provocation was not invited by accused party, but was at instance of complainant party. As death of deceased was caused by act of Accused 5, giving one fatal blow on head, which was with intention of causing his death or causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, case would be covered by S. 304 Pt. I IPC. [State of Rajasthan v. Mehram, (2020) 5 SCC 143]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/34 or S. 324: In this case, conviction of accessory accused (appellant A-3 herein) under Ss. 302/34 held, not sustainable given role ascribed to him by prosecution and failure of prosecution to establish that he shared common intention to murder deceased with main assailant A-1. But, his conviction under S. 324 for having injured PW 1, and sentence thereof to undergo RI for 3 yrs and fine of Rs 500, with default stipulation, stood confirmed. [Chellappa v. State, (2020) 5 SCC 160]

Service Law — Deputation — Deputation allowance — Entitlement to — Commencement of deputation — When envisaged: Deputation envisages assignment of employee of one department/cadre/organisation to another department/cadre/organisation in public interest which normally involves consent of employee. In this case, till 11-9-2009, respondent continued to be under control of his parent organisation i.e. CISF and was also getting his pay and allowances from said authority. Hence, though respondent was sent to NDRF on 18-4 2008, he continued to be member of his Battalion and could not be said to be on deputation. [Union of India v. R. Thiyagarajan, (2020) 5 SCC 201]

Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 — S. 15 — Conviction on basis of confession to police — When permissible: Law summarised regarding when conviction is permissible on basis of confession to police. In this case, there was conviction for conspiracy in respect of offences under TADA Act and Explosive Substances Act on basis of confession of appellant-accused and confession statement of two other co-accused, made before police. Said confession of accused does not met the requirements for reliance upon the same, hence, the same rejected. Furthermore, as per S. 30 of Evidence Act, 1872, if for any reason, a joint trial is not held, confession of co-accused cannot be held to be admissible in evidence against another accused, who would face trial at a later point of time in same case. Since trial of two co-accused was separate, their confession statements are not admissible in evidence and same cannot be taken as evidence against appellant-accused herein. Hence, conviction of appellant was set aside. [Raja v. State of T.N., (2020) 5 SCC 118]

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Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 11(6) — Appointment of arbitrator by Court: Furnishing of discharge voucher (by insured to insurer in present case) is not an absolute bar to invocation of the arbitration agreement, when the same is alleged to have been given under economic duress. An application under S. 11(6) is in the form of a pleading which merely seeks an order of the Court, for the appointment of an arbitrator and it cannot be conclusive of the pleas or contentions that the claimant or the party concerned can take in the arbitral proceedings. Therefore, at this stage, the Court which is required to ensure that an arbitrable dispute exists, has to be prima facie convinced about the genuineness or credibility of the plea of coercion; it cannot be too particular about the nature of the plea, which necessarily has to be made and established in the substantive (read: arbitration) proceeding. [Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Dicitex Furnishing Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 621]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 11(6) and 8 — Arbitration agreement contained in document compulsorily required to be stamped: When an instrument compulsorily required to be stamped, is relied upon as containing the arbitration agreement, the Court is required to consider at the outset, whether the document is properly stamped or not and the Court cannot act upon an arbitration clause in a document if the document is not properly stamped. However, if the deficit stamp duty and penalty is paid the document can be acted upon. [Dharmaratnakara Rai Bahadur Arcot Narainswamy Mudaliar Chattram v. Bhaskar Raju & Bros., (2020) 4 SCC 612]

 Bombay Entertainments Duty Act, 1923 (1 of 1923) — Ss. 3(2), 3(1) and 3(5) — Interpretation and application of S. 3(2) — Inter-relationship between Ss. 3(2), 3(1) and 3(5): Where activities of amusement park not covered under S. 3(2), such park not entitled for rebate of 50% of duty payable under S. 3(2). [State of Maharashtra v. Pan (India) Paryatan Ltd.,(2020) 4 SCC 687]

 Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 14 R. 1(1), Or. 8 Rr. 1 to 3 and Or. 20 R. 20 — Issues when arise: In this case of suit for partition of family property as per the will of the mother, the ground floor portion of the property was bequeathed to the respondent-plaintiff, the first floor portion was bequeathed to the appellant-defendant and the second floor portion was to be divided equally between the parties. Respondent-plaintiff filed a suit for partition and permanent injunction of the second floor and the terrace rights but appellant-defendant, in the written statement, raised a dispute in respect of common areas on the ground floor also. The Supreme Court held, having invited findings by raising a dispute of the common areas, the appellant-defendant cannot plead that the trial court as well as the appellate court have exceeded scope of the suit, in issuing directions for the common areas. Also, on facts, held, the judgment and final decree for partition, as ordered by the appellate court and directions issued with regard to common areas were in accordance with evidence on record and there was no merit in the appeals so as to interfere with the same. [Sajan Sethi v. Rajan Sethi, (2020) 4 SCC 589]

 Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 9 R. 13 — Ex parte decree — Setting aside of, subject to deposit of part amount, in the interest of justice: In this case, Respondent 1 filed a suit for permanent injunction and compensation of Rs 1 crore for trespass, nuisance and damages allegedly made by appellant- Defendant 1. Vide ex parte decree dated 7-10-2003, High Court decreed the suit and directed appellant and Respondent 2 to pay a sum of Rs 77,02,500 with interest thereon @ 6% p.a. from the date of filing the suit till the date of payment or realization. The appellant contended that summons of the original suit and the proceedings thereof were never served upon it. The Supreme Court held that though various contentions were raised as to whether the appellant was served or not and entered appearance in the suit, but without going into the merits of the same, an opportunity has to be given to appellant for contesting the suit. Further, considering the nature of the claim and other facts and circumstances and in the interest of justice, and also that appellant showed its bona fides by depositing Rs 60,00,000 in compliance of the Court order and also that the Court had directed the appellant to deposit further sum of Rs 35,00,000, appeal was allowed and suit ordered to be restored. [Aviation Travels (P) Ltd. v. Bhavesha Suresh Goradia, (2020) 4 SCC 680]

Consumer Protection — Services — Banking/Shares/Securities and other Financial Services: Non-submission of deceased insured’s insurance form and premium by collecting Bank to insurance company can be considered as deficiency of service. [Hemiben Ladhabhai Bhanderi v. Saurashtra Gramin Bank, (2020) 4 SCC 671]

Consumer Protection — Services — Insurance — Compensation — Fidelity insurance: In this case, Respondent complainant, a collateral management company, which undertook to store the commodities pledged by the farmers, traders and manufacturers, etc. in availing loan from lending banks and other institutions, stored commodities including urad and mentha oil in their warehouse and deployed security guards hired by it from the security agency, besides its own field staff. Respondent collateral management company, took fidelity guarantee insurance policy from the appellant opposite party, in respect of the pledged commodities stored in warehouses/godowns at several places. The Supreme Court held that the survey report itself indicated the involvement of employees of the respondent Company in removing 601 barrels of mentha oil stored by respondent Company. Further, immediately, after confirmation and 100% sampling, whereby it was disclosed that in all the barrels, mentha oil was substituted with water, a complaint was lodged by respondent complainant before Gadarpur Police Station. Also, sampling was completed only on 12-11-2008 and investigation report came to be submitted to respondent Company on 14-11-2008, and thereafter, claim was made before appellant on 18-11-2008. Thus, there was no delay on the part of respondent in lodging the claim. In this case, order of NCDRC, directing appellant opposite party to pay a sum of Rs 3,46,87,113 to respondent complainant as per the insurance policy with interest was upheld. [Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. National Bulk Handling Corpn. (P) Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 674]

 Electricity Act, 2003 — Ss. 56(1) and (2) — Disconnection of supply to consumer on account of non-payment of additional demand of electricity charges: S. 56(1) confers a statutory right to the licensee company to disconnect the supply of electricity, if the consumer neglects to pay the electricity dues and this statutory right is subject to the period of limitation of two years provided by S. 56(2). The liability to pay arises on the consumption of electricity and the obligation to pay would arise when the bill is issued by the licensee company, quantifying the charges to be paid. Thus, electricity charges would become “first due” only after the bill is issued to the consumer, even though the liability to pay may arise on the consumption of electricity. S. 56(2) does not preclude the licensee company from raising an additional or supplementary demand after the expiry of the limitation period under S. 56(2) in the case of a mistake or bona fide error, however, it does not empower the licensee company to take recourse to the coercive measure of disconnection of electricity supply, for recovery of the additional demand. [Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd. v. Rahamatullah Khan, (2020) 4 SCC 650]

Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 — S. 4 Expln. II and S. 4-A — Deletion of the deeming provision in S. 4 Expln. II (by Act 45 of 2009, w.e.f. 18-1-2010), which had capped the monthly wages of an employee at Rs 4000: The benefit of the amending Act enhancing the quantum of compensation would not apply to accidents that took place prior to the coming into force of the amendment. [K. Sivaraman v. P. Sathishkumar, (2020) 4 SCC 594]

Evidence Act, 1872 — Ss. 35, 74 and 76 — Proof of age: School leaving certificate/transfer certificate, on its own is not sufficient for proving date of birth, in the absence of examination of the official in-charge of school who recorded the date of birth in the school register. Proving of the records of School is necessary. [C. Doddanarayana Reddy v. C. Jayarama Reddy, (2020) 4 SCC 659]

Human and Civil Rights — Right to Information, Confidential Information and Data Protection — Information held by courts and tribunals — Information held by court on judicial side: The requirement under R. 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993 that third parties can access information held on judicial side of court, inter alia, relating to pending and decided cases, relevant documents and certified copies, only by filing an affidavit and by stating the reason for which the information is required, is in consonance with scheme of RTI Act and there is no inconsistency between these laws. Such information can be accessed only as per the High Court Rules, and not under RTI Act regime. [Chief Information Commr. v. High Court of Gujarat, (2020) 4 SCC 702]

Income Tax Act, 1961 — S. 153-C — Applicability and Invocation of: Principles clarified regarding essentialities to be complied with by assessing officer and modalities to be followed under different scenarios. [Super Malls (P) Ltd. v. CIT, (2020) 4 SCC 581]

 Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 — Ss. 138, 143-A and 144 — Expeditious disposal of cheque dishonour cases: The need for comprehensive mechanism for expeditious disposal of cheque dishonour cases, emphasized. Setting up mechanism for online disposal of cheque dishonour cases, directed.  Steps to be taken for securing presence of accused, enumerated. Duty of banks to provide email ID and other details of accused for speedy disposal of cases, emphasized. Legal Services Authority directed to develop mechanism for pre-litigation stage settlements. [Makwana Mangaldas Tulsidas v. State of Gujarat, (2020) 4 SCC 695]

 Oil, Petroleum and Natural Gas — Dealerships, Networks and Supply Contracts — Contract for setting up of City or Local Natural Gas Distribution Networks (CGD Networks): The validity of criterion formulated for determining reasonability of bid for its acceptance after the last date for the submission of bids, as in this case through a Board Note indicating a 2 to 100% range of projected PNG connections on the basis of total number of households, upheld. [Adani Gas Ltd. v. Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board, (2020) 4 SCC 529]

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006 — Ss. 30 and 37: The appeal before APTEL under 2006 Act directed to be transferred to the Supreme Court in the interest of justice. [AG&P LNG MKTG. PTE. Ltd. v. IMC Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 569]

Rajasthan Pre-emption Act, 1966 (1 of 1966) — Ss. 4, 5(1)(c) and 6 — Right of pre-emption — When accrues, even in cases where the vendee also has such rights: The right of pre-emption accrues on the transfer of any immovable property to the classes of persons mentioned in S. 6, however, the same is subject to S. 5. Further, as a result of S. 5(1)(c), where the vendee also has a right of pre-emption under S. 6, the right of pre-emption will only accrue to the person with a superior right of pre-emption. Further held, where any of the provisions of S. 5 come into operation, the right of pre-emption would not be available. [Suresh Chand v. Suresh Chander, (2020) 4 SCC 643]

Sikkim Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1977 (1 of 1978) — S. 5(1) [akin to S. 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894] and Ss. 3(1), 4(2) and 7(2) — Acquisition of land by State, without adhering to procedure prescribed by law: There cannot be a presumption of acquisition without following the due process as envisaged under Ss. 3(1), 4(2), 5(1) and 7(2) and the burden is on the State to prove that the process as envisaged under the Act is followed and the compensation paid. Further, following the procedure of S. 4(1) of the 1894 Act [akin to S. 5(1) of the said 1977 Act] is mandatory, and unless that notice is given in accordance with the provisions contained therein, the entire acquisition proceeding would be vitiated. Further, entry into the premises based on such non-compliance would result in the entry being unlawful. The law being expropriatory in character, the same is required to be strictly followed. Even though rights in land are no more a fundamental right, still it remains a constitutional right under Art. 300-A of the Constitution, and the provisions of any Act seeking to divest any person from the rights in property have to be strictly followed. [D.B. Basnett v. LAO, (2020) 4 SCC 572]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Acquisition, Requisition and Nationalisation — Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Act, 1995 — Ss. 4(2) and 4(5): Adjudication by High Court, exercising writ jurisdiction, on the liability of National Textile Corporation Ltd. (NTC) qua debts of textile mill taken over by it, not permissible. [UCO Bank v. National Textile Corpn. Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 497]

Anomalies in law and justice: This article attempts to explain the anomalies in law and justice—that is, the inconsistencies, contradictions or absurdities in law and justice and identify the solutions for rectification wherever possible. Some Anomalies in Law and Justice by Justice R.V. Raveendran [(2020) 4 SCC (J-49)]

 Constitution of India — Arts. 72 & 161 and 32 — Disposal of mercy petition against death sentence: Principles summarised regarding limited scope of judicial review of disposal of mercy petition against death sentence. Issue of ground of non-supply of documents sought for under RTI Act, held, is beyond the scope of present judicial review. [Vinay Sharma v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 391]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Quashment re action taken under SARFAESI Act and qua disbursal of sanctioned loan/valuation/auction-sale by creditor bank/auction-purchaser: Sanction of loan, creation of mortgage and the manner in which the sanctioned loan was to be released are all contractual matters between the parties. Further, if any amount was withheld, the complainant in this case was required to take appropriate action at that point in time and avail his remedy but the complainant had proceeded with the transaction, maintained the loan account until the account was classified as NPA. Further, SARFAESI Act is a complete code in itself which provides the procedure to be followed by the secured creditor and also the remedy to the aggrieved parties including the borrower and if there is any discrepancy in the manner of classifying the account of the appellants as NPA or in the manner in which the property was valued or was auctioned, DRT is vested with the power to set aside such auction at the stage after the secured creditor invokes the power under S. 13 of SARFAESI Act. Further, the petitioner after dismissal of the application before the DRT filed the impugned complaint which appeared to be an intimidatory tactic and an afterthought which is an abuse of the process of law. Also, S. 32 of SARFAESI Act provides for the immunity from prosecution since protection is provided thereunder for the action taken in good faith. [K. Virupaksha v. State of Karnataka, (2020) 4 SCC 440]

 Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions — Appointment/Recruitment — Post of Principal in government polytechnic college — Eligibility criteria: The AICTE [Pay Scales, Service Conditions and Qualifications for the Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Technical Institutions (Diploma)] Regulations, 2010 prescribed “Qualification as above for post of HoD and PhD in Engineering or qualification as above for post of HoD”. The word “or” indicates that PhD in Engineering is optional. [Gelus Ram Sahu v. Surendra Kumar Singh, (2020) 4 SCC 484]

Foreign Trade, Export, Import and Investment — Foreign Trade Policy 2004-2009: In this case, appellant purchaser from 100% export-oriented unit claimed benefit of special Agricultural Produce Scheme in respect of exports made by it. Circular dt. 21-1-2009 was issued to clarify that scheme notified on 7-4-2006 specifically excluded 100% export-oriented units from its applicability. The validity of the said circular was challenged with the contention that Circular dt. 21-1-2009 was contrary to scheme notified on 7-4-2006 which had statutory force and hence, could not be modified or amended by executive instructions. The Supreme Court held that the Circular dt. 21-1-2009 did not modify or amend scheme notified on 7-4-2006 but only clarified that 100% export-oriented units which were not entitled to seek exemption could not avail benefit indirectly through purchasers from them. It was further held, in terms of Cl. 3.8.5 of the Scheme, Government had reserved right in public interest to specify from time to time exports which were not eligible for entitlement, and hence, Circular dt. 21-1-2009 was valid. [Nola Ram Dulichand Dal Mills v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 406]

Income Tax Act, 1961 — Ss. 115-O, 115-Q, 115-QA, 2(22), 2(22)(d) and 2(22)(a) — Buyback of shares — Taxability of: While considering communication by Revenue qua tax liability of assessee Company on purchase of its own shares, as a show-cause notice, as opposed to a final order, directions issued for grant of opportunity to file reply, oral hearing to assessee and for decision of case on merits by authorities. [Cognizant Technology Solutions (India) (P) Ltd. v. CIT, (2020) 4 SCC 430]

Local Government, Municipalities and Panchayats — Town Planning — Layout/Master/Zonal Plan — Modification/Change in the approved layout plan: A modification cannot be struck down when the law permits such change which is in terms of the statute and the plans that have the force of law. Further, as long as the layout plans conform to the development control norms, the court would not substitute its own opinion as to what principle or policy would best serve greater public or private interest. [M.P. Housing & Infrastructure Development Board v. Vijay Bodana, (2020) 4 SCC 521]

Marine Insurance Act, 1963 — Ss. 35 and 36 — Liability of insurer under a marine insurance policy — Discharge of, when there is a breach of warranty by assured: Non-compliance with the Institute Classification Clause (ICC) of the marine insurance policy, dealing with seaworthiness of the vessel in which the cargo is carried, can be considered as a breach of warranty. Further, held, when a warranty is not complied with i.e. there is a breach of warranty, the insurer is discharged from liability from the date of such breach, by virtue of Section 35(3) of the Marine Insurance Act, 1963 and such discharge of liability does not require any express conduct or representation from the insurer. [Rajankumar & Bros. (Impex) v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 364]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — Ss. 166 and 168 — Permanent disability — Just compensation — Principles summarized: Principles for determination of just compensation contemplated under MV Act are well settled. Apart from injury, claimant has to be compensated for consequential losses. [Kajal v. Jagdish Chand, (2020) 4 SCC 413]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302 and 364: In this case of murder of three minor children by accused in disturbed mental state, wife of accused having run away with uncle of victim children, death sentence of accused commuted to life imprisonment for entire life without any remission for 25 yrs. [Manoj Suryavanshi v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2020) 4 SCC 451]

Stamp Act, 1899 — Ss. 35, 36 and Art. 23 Expln. & Art. 48(f) (as amended by Orissa Act 1 of 2003) — Impounding of powers of attorney dt. 21-2-2011 and 4-10-2008 when required to be treated as conveyance for insufficient stamping: Judicial determination of objection regarding necessity of payment of, and sufficiency of stamp duty paid, necessary. In this case, the findings of the Trial court as well as High Court that since power of attorney was a registered document, it was properly stamped without examining as to whether power of attorney was to be stamped as conveyance on account of delivery of possession at time of execution of power of attorney, not proper. The question whether possession was transferred at the time or after execution of power of attorney is question of fact which is required to be decided by court at time of final decision being adjudicated after evidence is led by parties and not merely on basis of recitals in power of attorney. Further held, though such objection is required to be decided at threshold but in case where evidence is required to determine nature of document, it is reasonable to defer that issue to time of final decision in suit. [Z. Engineers Construction (P) Ltd. v. Bipin Bihari Behera, (2020) 4 SCC 358]

U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 (1 of 1951) — S. 157-B — Exchange of agricultural land between a member of a Scheduled Tribe and a person not belonging to a Scheduled Tribe — Impermissibility of: Under S. 157-B, a bhumidhar or asami belonging to the Scheduled Tribe cannot transfer his land to a person not belonging to the Scheduled Tribe. Further, contrasting Ss. 157-B and 157-A, held, the use of the words “or otherwise” emphasises that the land belonging to a Scheduled Tribe cannot be transferred in any manner whatsoever. Thus, the exchange deed, between a member of Scheduled Tribe and a person not belonging to a Scheduled Tribe, held, executed in violation of the provisions of S. 157-B and the transfer was thus void and liable to be set aside. [Commr. (Revenue) v. Akhalaq Hussain, (2020) 4 SCC 507]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

A tribute to Ashok H. Desai: A tribute to Ashok H. Desai, who was the Attorney General of India from July 1996 to May 1998 and was earlier the Solicitor General of India. Ashok H. Desai — A Man for All Seasons by Pallav Shishodia, [(2020) 4 SCC (J-6)]

A tribute to P.P. Rao: A tribute to P.P. Rao, eminent constitutional law expert and Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India. P.P. Rao — Jurist Par Excellence by Sanjeev Johari [(2020) 4 SCC (J-10)]

A tribute to Professor N.R. Madhava Menon: A tribute to Professor NR Madhava Menon, who was an Indian civil servant, lawyer and legal educator, considered by many as the father of modern legal education in India. N.R. Madhava Menon — A Phenomenal Leader in Education by Dipak Misra [2020) 4 SCC (J-1)]

A tribute to Professor N.R. Madhava Menon: A tribute to Professor NR Madhava Menon, who was an Indian civil servant, lawyer and legal educator, considered by many as the father of modern legal education in India. N.R. Madhava Menon — Law Teacher, Social Engineer and Humanist by Justice A.K. Sikri [(2020) 4 SCC (J-3)]

Administrative Law — Administrative Action — Administrative or Executive Function — High Officials Holding/Exercising Discretionary Powers: The power vested in authority must be discharged in accordance with constitutional principles and statutory rules/regulations governing the field regardless of rank/office held by officer(s) concerned. Furthermore, judicial scrutiny of decision does not depend on rank/position of decision-maker. [Nalin Kumar Bhatia v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 78]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 2(2), 2(1)(e) & (f), 2(4), (5) & (7), 20, 9, 42 and Pt. I or Pt. II: Juridical or legal seat of arbitration once designated or determined, held, explaining and following five-judge Bench decision in BALCO, (2012) 9 SCC 552, exclusively determines which courts will have jurisdiction over the arbitration, as opposed to the place where whole or part of the cause of action arises. A&C Act, 1996 has accepted the territoriality principle in S. 2(2). Thus, once the seat of arbitration is designated or determined, the same operates as an exclusive jurisdiction clause as a result of which only the courts where the seat is located would have jurisdiction over the arbitration, to the exclusion of all other courts, even courts where part of the cause of action may have arisen. However, held, where it is found on the facts of a particular case that either no “seat” is designated by agreement, or has not been so determined by the Arbitral Tribunal, or the so-called “seat” is only a convenient “venue”, then there may be several courts where a part of the cause of action arises, that may have jurisdiction over the arbitration. Hence, an application under S. 9 of the A&C Act may be preferred before a court in which part of the cause of action arises in a case where parties have not agreed on the “seat” of arbitration, and before such “seat” may have been determined, on the facts of a particular case, by the Arbitral Tribunal under S. 20(2) of the A&C Act. [BGS SGS SOMA JV v. NHPC, (2020) 4 SCC 234]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 34, 20 and 42 — Jurisdiction of court to entertain S. 34 application for setting aside an arbitral award: Once the seat of arbitration is designated, the same operates as an exclusive jurisdiction clause as a result of which only the courts where the seat is located would have jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts, even court(s) where part of the cause of action may have arisen. [Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd. v. NHPC, (2020) 4 SCC 310]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 41 R. 31 and Ss. 96 and 100 — Appeal: The meaning and scope of appeal, stated. Proper mode of exercising appellate jurisdiction especially by first appellate court, clarified. The compliance with essentialities under Or. 41 R. 31, held, is mandatory. The distinction between appeal under Ss. 96 and 100, reiterated. The order of the High Court deciding first appeal without complying with Or. 41 R. 31, not permissible. [Malluru Mallappa v. Kuruvathappa, (2020) 4 SCC 313]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — S. 92 — Leave to institute suit under — Grant of, when there were allegations that public charitable trust was being run as a private family trust and the object of the Trust was being ignored — Leave to institute a suit — When may be granted: Three conditions are required to be satisfied in order to invoke S. 92 and to maintain an action under S. 92 namely: (i) the Trust in question is created for public purposes of a charitable or religious nature; (ii) there is a breach of trust or a direction of court is necessary in the administration of such a Trust; and (iii) the relief claimed is one or other of the reliefs as enumerated in S. 92. [Ashok Kumar Gupta v. Sitalaxmi Sahuwala Medical Trust, (2020) 4 SCC 321]

Companies Act, 2013 — Ss. 241(2), 337 and 339 — “Any persons who were knowingly parties to the carrying on of the business in the manner aforesaid” who can be proceeded against in terms of S. 339(1) — Persons covered thereunder: “Business in the manner aforesaid” in the above expression in S. 339(1), held, means the business of the company whose affairs are alleged to be mismanaged and not to the business of some other company. Thus, freezing of assets of a person not belonging to the company whose affairs are alleged as being mismanaged/fraudulently conducted, held, is impermissible. [Usha Ananthasubramanian v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 122]

Constitution of India — Art. 137 — Curative petition — Nirbhaya Gang Rape case: The Supreme Court in this case held that the curative petition were not within parameters of law laid down in Rupa Ashok Hurra, (2002) 4 SCC 388, hence the petitions were dismissed. Prayers for oral hearing and for stay on execution of death sentence were also rejected. [Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State (NCT Of Delhi), (2020) 4 SCC 54]

Constitution of India — Art. 137 — Review — No error apparent on record: In this case, as there was no error apparent on face of the record calling for review of judgment in Natesan Agencies (Plantations), (2019) 15 SCC 70, review petition was dismissed. [Natesan Agencies (Plantations) v. State, (2020) 4 SCC 160]

Constitution of India — Arts. 370, 356 and 14 — Power of modification of Art. 370 — Scope of, and Manner in which may be done: By Presidential Orders dt. 5-8-2019 and 6-8-2019, Constitution of India was made applicable to State of Jammu and Kashmir in its entirety, like the rest of India. To determine the validity of said Presidential Orders, reference to larger Bench, held, not warranted. However, no view was expressed on the merits of the matter. [Shah Faesal v. Union Of India, (2020) 4 SCC 1]

Court’s Interference with Arbitral Awards: The object of this article is to discuss the scope of interference of court in arbitration proceedings with reference to ONGC Ltd. v. Saw Pipes Ltd., (2003) 5 SCC 705 and Ssangyong Engg. & Construction Co. Ltd. v. NHAI, (2019) 15 SCC 131. Ssangyong: The Demise of Court Interference with Arbitral Awards as Per Saw Pipes by Sunil Gupta [(2020) 4 SCC (J-28)]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 173(8): Hearing of accused by court before direction for further investigation is made, held, is not obligatory. The power of court to direct police to conduct further investigation cannot have any inhibition. There is nothing in S. 173(8) to suggest, that court is obliged to hear accused before any such direction is made. The casting of any such obligation on court would only result in encumbering court with burden of searching for all potential accused to be afforded with opportunity of being heard. As law does not require it, Magistrate cannot be burdened with such obligation. [Satishkumar Nyalchand Shah v. State of Gujarat, (2020) 4 SCC 22]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 340 and 195(1)(b): In this case of perjury before Supreme Court, Secretary General was directed to institute proceedings therefor under Ss. 193 and 199 IPC for filing of altered/modified documents before Supreme Court by the petitioner Company. [New Era Fabrics Ltd. v. Bhanumati Keshrichand Jhaveri, (2020) 4 SCC 41]

Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 — S. 3(1) — Accident arising out of and in course of employment — Principle of notional extension of “course of employment” at both point of entry and exit in time and space — Extent to which may be applied: In this case, deceased aged 21 years driver, having to drive a truck for an approximately 200 km route, on a hot summer day stopped by a canal to fetch water and also to have a bath, unfortunately, slipped into canal and died. The Court held that taking judicial notice of extreme hot weather and manufacturer specification stating non-availability of air conditioning in truck cabin and compulsion for deceased to stay fresh and alert not only to protect truck from damage but also to ensure smooth journey and protect his own life, possible need for a bath or water to cool down engine could be considered as incidental to employment by extension of notional employment theory. Order of High Court were held unsustainable and set aside. Order of Commissioner dt. 12-12-2005 restored and payments in terms of said order directed to be made to appellants within six weeks. [Poonam Devi v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 55]

Enforcement of Arbitral Awards: The author in this article emphasis that the judgment in Pam Developments (P) Ltd. v. State of W.B., (2019) 8 SCC 112 underlines the “rule of law” in the “democratic republic” of India. It brings the Indian arbitral process as well as the Indian court system much closer to the desired international standard of fair and equal treatment to all parties in a dispute. It should serve as a great re-assurance to all spectators of foreign investment who have been seeking a “level playing field” in international and even domestic commercial arbitrations in India. Level Playing Field: No Preference to Government in Enforcement of Awards in Democratic India by Manavendra Gupta [(2020) 4 SCC (J-41)]

Essential Commodities and Services — Fixation of Price — Classification — Permissibility: In this case, there was fixation of price for levy sugar zone-wise for crushing years 1984-85 and 1985-86 and parity was claimed on basis of similarly placed sugar factories in same district. The Supreme Court held that merely because there is difference in price in Central Zone and Eastern Zone, appellant cannot claim as a matter of right that its unit should be placed in Eastern Zone instead of Central Zone during relevant years or claim parity with other units only on ground that all units are situated in same District. Besides, price fixation in respective zones was based on exhaustive study by experts and conclusions reached by Central Government in exercise of statutory power, cannot be said to be either discriminatory or unreasonable. Moreover, fact that appellant’s unit was placed in Eastern Zone subsequently was inconsequential since said policy decision was subject to satisfaction of Government by taking into account expert reports and does not constitute discrimination. [Oudh Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 29]

Family and Personal Laws — Hindu Law — Capacity to give in Adoption: The right of adoptee father to give his son for adoption born prior to his adoption, discussed through case law. [Kalindi Damodar Garde v. Manohar Laxman Kulkarni, (2020) 4 SCC 335]

Information Technology Act, 2000 — S. 79 (as it stood prior to its substitution w.e.f. 27-10-2009) — Intermediary (ISP) — Safe harbour principle — Scope of immunity— Criminal liability under general law: The unamended S. 79 is not a bar to prosecution for commission of the offence of defamation under Ss. 499/500 IPC. Immunity available under S. 79 of the IT Act, 2000, prior to its substitution, was limited to the exemption to the intermediary from any liability under IT Act, 2000 and the Rules or Regulations framed under IT Act, 2000, in regard to third-party information or data made available by the intermediary. However, immunity under unamended S. 79 did not extend to exemption from criminal liability under the general law. Thus, held, unamended S. 79, did not protect an intermediary in regard to the offence under Ss. 499/500 IPC. [Google India (P) Ltd. v. Visaka Industries, (2020) 4 SCC 162]

Law of Sedition in India and Freedom of Expression: In this article the constitutional right of freedom of speech and expression has been discussed along with the laws of sedition and also the interplay between the two. Law of Sedition in India and Freedom of Expression by Justice Deepak Gupta [(2020) 4 SCC (J-14)]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — S. 149(2)(a) — Vehicle involved in accident driven by insured owner’s driver not having a valid/genuine licence — Insurer’s liability to pay under the policy concerned in such a case: While hiring a driver the employer is expected to verify if the driver has a driving licence but if the driver produces a licence which on the face of it looks genuine, the employer is not expected to further investigate into the authenticity of the licence unless there is cause to believe otherwise. Further, if the employer finds the driver to be competent to drive the vehicle and has satisfied himself that the driver has a driving licence there would be no breach of S. 149(2)(a)(ii) of the MV Act and the insurance company would be liable under the policy. It would be unreasonable to place such a high onus on the insured to make enquiries with RTOs all over the country to ascertain the veracity of the driving licence. However, if the insurance company is able to prove that the owner/insured was aware or had notice that the licence was fake or invalid and still permitted the person to drive, the insurance company would no longer continue to be liable. [Nirmala Kothari v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 49]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — Ss. 166 and 168 — Compensation — Computation of income — Income from assets — Depletion of net income as a factor: Though a court may be required to account for the depletion in the net income accruing from the assets of the deceased on account of payments for engaging managers, etc. evidence must be adduced to compute the depletion. As no such evidence was adduced in this case, hence, claimants could not claim any benefit thereof. [Malarvizhi v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 228]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 34: Principle of vicarious/joint liability under the section, explained. How to determine the existence of common intention, also explained. Principles also summarised regarding requirements for applicability of S. 34. [Chhota Ahirwar v. State of M.P., (2020) 4 SCC 126]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/149 — Murder in furtherance of common object: In this case, there was conviction of accessory co-accused persons solely relying upon evidence of sole related eyewitness, while conviction of main assailant already stood confirmed. However, evidence/deposition of sole eyewitness was full of material contradictions, omissions and improvements so far as said co-accused (appellants herein) were concerned. The Supreme Court held that the accused were entitled of benefit of doubt. Hence, conviction was reversed. [Parvat Singh v. State of M.P., (2020) 4 SCC 33]

Registration Act, 1908 — Ss. 49 and 17(1)(d): Unregistered lease deeds is not admissible as evidence. Unregistered lease deed, held, did not convey any right to purported lessee. [Food Corpn. of India v. V.K. Traders, (2020) 4 SCC 60]

Service Law — Pension — Entitlement to pension: Right to pension cannot be taken away by mere executive fiat or administrative instruction since pension and gratuity are not mere bounties, or given out of generosity of employer but employee earns these benefits by virtue of his long, continuous faithful and unblemished service. Withholding of 10% pension and full gratuity in terms of Circulars dt. 22-8-1974 and 31-10-1974 and Government Resolution dt. 31-7-1980 on ground of pending criminal proceeding, in absence of any rules or statutory provisions permitting the same, not permissible. [Hira Lal v. State of Bihar, (2020) 4 SCC 346]

Service Law — Recruitment Process — Eligibility criteria/conditions: Change in eligibility conditions after commencement of selection process, permissible. The principles of estoppel and approbation and reprobation are not applicable, in such cases against candidates who had participated in selection process and sought to challenge the same. [Nitesh Kumar Pandey v. State of M.P., (2020) 4 SCC 70]

Service Law — Recruitment Process — Eligibility criteria/conditions — Equivalence of qualifications: In this case, eligibility criteria for recruitment to post of Technician Grade II in U.P. Power Corporation Ltd. stipulated course on Computer Concept (CCC) Certificate or its equivalent computer qualification certificate. In this case, the CCC certificate was issued initially by DOEACC Society and thereafter by NIELIT. Hence it was held, CCC certificate mentioned in OM of Managing Director dt. 5-7-2013 stipulating CCC certificate or equivalent computer qualification, and also in advertisement was a reference only to CCC certificate issued by DOEACC/NIELIT, and none other. “Equivalent computer certificate” thus would mean only certificates which were found equivalent to CCC certificates issued by DOEACC or NIELIT. Besides, candidates who had submitted application in response to advertisement also understood it as such. [Mukul Kumar Tyagi v. State of U.P., (2020) 4 SCC 86]

Transfer of Property Act, 1882 — Ss. 108(j) and 5 — Transfer, sale or assignment of leasehold interest: Neither (1) compulsory acquisition of leasehold by exercise of power under S. 269-UD of Income Tax Act, 1961, nor (2) auction of the property thereafter by Department, held, are a “transfer, sale or assignment” of the leasehold interest, so as to attract said clause in lease deed for payment of unearned increase charges to lessor. [DDA v. Karamdeep Finance & Investment (I) (P) Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 136]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Bimal Julka, Chief Information Commissioner, noted that the RTI application seeking very pertinent information with regard to COVID-19 pandemic was shuttled between one public authority to another and held that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall collate all the information and furnish the same to complainant and on its’ website.

Complainant sought records by way of his RTI application on the following points:

  • Date when the Government of India first received information on the coronavirus/Wuhan virus/ virus affecting China.
  • Whether any communication was received by the Government of India about a possible pandemic like situation in India between the period of November 2019 to March, 2020?
  • Copy of the minutes of meeting that took place into the possibility of declaring coronavirus a health emergency or not between the period of March 5th to March 14th, 2020.
  • Whether the Government of India/any of its ministries or departments had received warnings/alerts/communication from the World Health Organisation on the possibility of coronavirus affecting India?
  • Whether any internal reports on a possibility of a pandemic like situation arising in India was communicated within the Ministry or its departments?
  • Any intelligence information on the coronavirus diseases originating from China possibly affecting India in future?
  • Whether the Government of India/this Ministry or its various departments sought China’s assistance in getting the sample of Virus?
  • Was China requested to share virus genetic sequence?
  • On which date did ministry of health first communicated the information of Virus possibly affecting India to PMO?
  • When was the issue of inadequate PPE discussed in the Ministry?
  • Whether additional funds were sought to fight against the virus. If so the date on which the first request and subsequent requests were made and to whom be furnished?
  • Whether the Ministry proposed a ban on incoming Chinese citizens to India?
  • Whether the ICMR received any reports/communications/internal warnings/memos/internal reports during the period of November 2019 to March 2020 about the possibility of a pandemic like situation in India due to the virus: To this ICMR responded that all the information pertaining to circulars, notifications, etc, is available on the ICMR website.
  • Whether the Government of India/this Ministry or its various departments was monitoring the situation in China and its possible effects on India?

To almost all the above queries, ICMR responded with a standard response — Not pertains to ICMR.

Complainant remained dissatisfied with the respondent’s response.

RTI Act

Commission observed that a voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek information should be an exception.

Another significant observation was that, an open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realised only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms.

Accountability

Several decisions are being made by the Governments involving huge interventions in the healthcare impacting daily lives of billions of people, hence it is essential that the decisions are thoroughly documented in order for the Government to remain accountable.

Information pertaining to COVID-19

Complainant sought very pertinent information with regard to COVID-19 situation, which could not be made available by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Commission held that authentic, verified and cogent reply based on factual information needs to be furnished to the complainant as also disclose on the Public Authority website for the benefit of public at large.

Secretary, Health & Family Welfare was advised to have this matter examined at an appropriate level and the Nodal Authority so notified should furnish all the details sought by the Complainant in a clear, cogent and precise manner within a period of 30 days.

In view of the above complaints were disposed of. [Saurav Das v. CPIO, 2020 SCC OnLine CIC 626, decided on 23-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: S.K. Panigrahi, J., while addressing a matter with regard to money laundering by way of ponzi schemes, stated that,

“Act of money laundering is done in an exotic fashion encompassing a series of actions by the proverbial renting of credibility from the innocent investors.”

Petitioner has sought bail in a complaint case pending before Sessions Judge, Special Court under PMLA.

Cheating

Case under Sections 406, 420, 468, 471 and 34 of Penal Code and Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 was registered on the basis of a complaint alleging that the complainant had been cheated and defrauded by alluring to invest Rs 10,000 in the attractive investment scheme of Fine Indiasales (P) Ltd.

Complainant further submitted that he had introduced 20 more people to invest in the said scheme.

Complainant neither received the financial product nor the product voucher as per the agreement with FIPL.

FIPL collected huge amounts of money from the public and ultimately duped huge amount from innocent public by giving false assurance of high return for their deposit of money.

In view of the above, complainant requested for an investigation.

FIPL floated a fraudulent scheme

According to the investigation it was found that, FIPL had floated a fraudulent scheme with a terminal ulterior motive to siphon off the funds collected from public.

Ponzi Scheme

The advertised scheme of FIPL, ex-facie appeared to be a bodacious Ponzi scheme, inducing the susceptible depositors by way of misrepresentation, promising immediate refund in case of any default and timely payment of return on the part of FIPL.

Investigation prima facie established that the accused persons connected with  FIPL not only criminally conspired and cheated the depositors but also lured them into the scheme with a rogue mindset.

Machiavellian Layering | Shell Companies

Investigation revealed that the said money, stained with the sweat, tears and blood of multitudes of innocent people has since been moved around and subjected to Machiavellian layering through a myriad of shell companies and bogus transactions.

The collected amount was immediately transferred to different bank accounts of individuals as well as firms under the management and control of the Promotors/Directors/Shareholders of the said FIPL which is nothing but an act of sheltering.

Money Laundering

Modus Operandi adopted while transferring the prodigious sum of ill-gotten wealth with the singular intention of concealing the original source of funds and to project the tainted money as untainted ex facie constitute the offence of money laundering.

Court’s Observation

On the cursory look, Court prima facie observed that dishonesty, untruth and greed eroded the faith of common investors.

One of the significant stages of money laundering is “layering”, and in the present case, multiple use of corporate vehicles was done and the amount was layered further.

The act money laundering involves the process of placement, layering and integration of “proceeds of crime” as envisaged under Section 2 (u) of the Act, derived from criminal activity into mainstream fiscal markets and transmuted into legitimate assets.

“…laundering of tainted money having its origins in large scale economic crimes pose a solemn threat not only to the economic stability of nations but also to their integrity and sovereignty.”

Proceeds of Crime

Petitioner along with others attempted to project the “proceeds of crime” as untainted money by transferring the same to different bank accounts in a bid to camouflage it and project it to be genuine transactions.

Financial Terrorism

Bench added to its analysis that, offence of money laundering is nothing but an act of “financial terrorism” that poses a serious threat not only to the financial system of the country but also to the integrity and sovereignty of a nation.

Supreme Court’s opinion

Supreme Court of India has consistently held that economic offences are sui generis in nature as they stifle the delicate economic fabric of a society.

Faustain bargain

Perpetrators of such deviant “schemes,” including the petitioner in the present case, who promise utopia to their unsuspecting investors seem to have entered in a proverbial “Faustian bargain” and are grossly unmindful of untold miseries of the faceless multitudes who are left high and dry and consigned to the flames of suffering.

Reputational Damage of the Country

Abuse of financial system in the manner that occurred in the present case can inflict the reputation of the country in the world of business and commerce.

Alleged offence of money laundering committed by the petitioner is serious in nature and the petitioner’s role is not unblemished.

Hence, Court refused bail to the accused/petitioner. [Mohammad Arif v. Directorate of Enforcement, Govt. of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 544 , decided on 13-07-2020]


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Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 11 and 8 — Arbitrability of disputes in question: Excluded/excepted matters i.e. matters excluded from the purview of arbitration agreement and referable to a named person/authority for adjudication, by consent of parties is non-arbitrable. Decision on excluded/excepted matters, as in present case by such named person/authority qua such excluded/excepted matters, in present case being delay in completion of work and levy of liquidated damages, would be binding. [Mitra Guha Builders (India) Co. v. ONGC, (2020) 3 SCC 222]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — S. 149: Power to make up deficiency of court fees should not permitted to be misused to abuse process of court. Plaintiff must file suit in the correct form, seeking proper reliefs, as warrranted by the facts of the case, and value its suit in bona fide manner. [Atma Ram v. Charanjit Singh, (2020) 3 SCC 311]

Colliery Control Order, 1945 — Cls. 3, 3-A, 4, 4-A and 4-B — Price Fixation — Authority of North Eastern Coalfields (NEC), Assam to enhance price for LSS consumers: In this case, Resolution dt. 16-11-1996 passed by the Linking Committee, specifically stipulates that the price to be charged from the appellants was to be decided by NEC, Assam as prevalent at any point of time. In view of this specific treatment of pricing along with reference to Appellant 1 as linked unit, said Resolution has to be construed to mean that treatment of the appellant as a linked unit was for purpose of regular supply of coal. Pricing factor was separated from such deemed linking. It is clear from Agenda Item 23 of the said meeting wherein reference has been made to SSF units and cokery units which had been allocated coal. It was these units to be treated as linked units. Distinction between allocation and linking clearly emerges from the said decision of the Linking Committee. It is a fact that treatment of Appellant 1 as a linked unit was fiction. Such fiction was replaced by reality on basis of specific provision in Resolution (Agenda Item 24) so far as pricing is concerned. As Resolution dealt with “linking” and “pricing” separately, fiction linking could not be extended to actual pricing. [S.K.J. Coke Industries Ltd. v. Coal India Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 270]

Constitution of India — Art. 137 — Review Petition — Rejection of, in Nirbhaya Gang Rape case: Hearing of petitions in open court declined. Order under review did not suffer from any error apparent warranting its reconsideration, hence, review petitions rejected. [Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 3 SCC 239]

Constitution of India — Art. 137 — Review under — Nirbhaya case (Gang rape in bus, December 16, 2012, Delhi) — Brutal, barbaric gang rape, unnatural sex and assault, leading to death of victim: In this case, there was no error apparent on face of record in appreciation of evidence or findings of judgment under review. None of grounds raised in review petition call for review of judgment. Review petition is not for rehearing of appeal on reappreciation of evidence over and over again. A party is not entitled to seek review of judgment merely for purpose of rehearing of appeal and a fresh decision. Hence, review petition stands dismissed. [Akshay Kumar Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 3 SCC 431]

Constitution of India — Art. 21 — Informant acting as investigating officer: Rights of accused are undoubtedly important, but so are rights of victim. Law has to cater wider variety of situations as appear in society. While interpreting law, higher judiciary considers such exceptions as are called for without disturbing pith and substance and original intention of legislature. Principle of fair trial is constant, ongoing, evolutionary process continually adapting itself to changing circumstance and, therefore, higher courts endeavour to strike right balance while interpreting law. Societal interest mandates that law laid down in Mohan Lal, (2018) 17 SCC 627 cannot be allowed to become springboard seeking acquittal irrespective of all other considerations pursuant to investigating and prosecution when law in that regard was unclear. Applying prospective declaration of law, it is deemed that all actions taken contrary to declaration of law, prior to day of declaration are validated. Hence, all pending criminal prosecutions, trials and appeals prior to law laid down in Mohan Lal case shall continue to be governed by individual facts of case. [Varinder Kumar v. State of H.P., (2020) 3 SCC 321]

Constitution of India — Art. 366(29-A)(d) r/w Arts. 246(4), 286 and 297 — Jurisdiction of State to levy sales tax when the vessel/ship/tug involved is used in the territorial waters of India, which are deemed to be Union Territory: For the purposes of Art. 366(29-A)(d), the taxable event is the transfer of the right to use the goods regardless of when or where the goods are delivered for use. Thus, the deemed sale takes place at the site where the right to use the goods is transferred i.e. it is of no relevance where the goods are delivered under the right to transfer to use them. In this case, the agreement was signed in Mangalore, but the vessel was used in the territorial waters of India. It was held that the situs of the deemed sale was in Mangalore. Thus, the transaction was liable to be taxed by the authorities concerned in the State of Karnataka. [Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd. v. State of Karnataka, (2020) 3 SCC 354]

Constitution of India — Arts. 19(1)(a) & (2) — Internet, cyberspace and social networking: Freedom of speech and expression through medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Art. 19(1)(a). Any restriction on the same must be in accordance with Art. 19(2), inclusive of the test of proportionality. [Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637]

Constitution of India — Sch. VI Paras 2, 4, 5 & 20 — Exclusive jurisdiction of District Council Court to try suits and cases where both parties belong to Scheduled Tribes category: Noti. dt. 7-2-2017 appointed Additional Judge to District Council Court for trial of offences punishable with death, transportation of life or imprisonment of not less than five years. In expression “suits and cases”, “cases” includes trial of criminal case which had occurred in notified autonomous district, so long as victim and complainant are both from Scheduled Tribes. Fact that State is de jure complainant in all criminal cases, would not affect this position. [State of Meghalaya v. Melvin Sohlangpiaw, (2020) 3 SCC 711]

Consumer Protection — Services — Banking/Shares/Securities and other Financial Services — Delay in submission of insurance claim by lending bank qua cover obtained on behalf of borrower, as per terms of loan agreement — Compensation for, when not grantable: In this case in pursuance of the loan agreement, an insurance cover was obtained by the Bank on behalf of the borrower. A fire took place on the premises of the borrower and the hypothecated assets were destroyed, but the insurer not having accepted the claim, a consumer complaint was filed before SCDRC. SCDRC allowed the complaint and the Bank was directed to forward the claim of the insured to the insurer. In appeal, NCDRC found that the claim was submitted by the Bank nearly six-and-a-half years after the incident of the fire and was time-barred, and went on to foist the liability on the Bank. In this case, considering that the only direction of SCDRC was for the Bank to forward the insurance claim to the insurer, which had not been challenged by the borrower and that there had been a one-time settlement of the borrower with the Bank, the order of NCDRC holding the Bank liable to compensate the borrower in respect of the insurance claim, set aside. [SBI v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 258]

Consumer Protection — Services — Banking/Shares/Securities and other Financial Services: Non-replacement/Encashment of lost/stolen or mutilated or defaced Indira Vikas Patras (IVPs) purchased in cash does not amount to deficiency of services. [Supt. of Post Office v. Jambu Kumar Jain, (2020) 3 SCC 764]

Consumer Protection — Services — Insurance — Cause of incident of fire i.e. whether accidental or caused by insured — Determination of: In this case, it was held that the concurrent findings of the forums below, being findings of facts cannot be interfered. The presence of hydrocarbons at the site is not conclusive to infer that fire is caused by insured/use of kerosene, considering the material used in construction of store/premises. Further, whether the fire took place by a short circuit or any other reason, as long as insured is not the person who caused the fire, the Insurance Company cannot escape its liability in terms of the insurance policy. [Canara Bank v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 455]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 389 — Bail during pendency of appeal — Interim relief: Punitive harshness should be minimised and restorative devices to redeem the man, even through community service, meditative drill, etc. should be innovated. [Prahladbhai Jagabhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, (2020) 3 SCC 341]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Quashment of proceedings — Criminal liability arising out of contract with a company: To establish dishonest intention at time of entering of contract, it is necessary to implead the company, and to make specific allegations against officer(s) of company against whom proceedings have been filed, to either constitute their direct liability or vicarious liability. In absence of all of the above, held, criminal proceedings are not maintainable. [Sushil Sethi v. State of Arunachal Pradesh, (2020) 3 SCC 240]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Quashment of proceedings: In this case, while civil suit was pending, complaint came to be filed alleging that the agreement produced by appellant in the suit was a false and fabricated document. In view of conclusive opinion of appellate court that the agreement was not a forged document, very substratum of criminal complaint vanishes. Hence it was held that it will only be a complete abuse of process of law to allow appellants to be prosecuted. [Mukul Agrawal v. State of U.P., (2020) 3 SCC 402]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Quashment proceedings — Material that may be considered by High Court: The evidence produced by the accused in his defence cannot be looked into by the court, except in very exceptional circumstances, at the initial stage of criminal proceedings. The High Court cannot embark upon the appreciation of evidence while considering the petition filed under S. 482 CrPC for quashing criminal proceedings. If a prima facie case is made out disclosing the ingredients of the offence alleged against the accused, the Court cannot quash a criminal proceeding. [Rajeev Kourav v. Baisahab, (2020) 3 SCC 317]

Criminal Trial — Sentence — Death Sentence — Execution of — Nirbhaya Rape case: In this case, as convicts were not proceeding to avail legal remedies within a week as stipulated by High Court, liberty granted to petitioner to obtain fresh date for execution of death warrant. However, clarified that pendency of present SLP would not be impediment for trial court to consider prayer on its own merits. [Union of India v. Mukesh, (2020) 3 SCC 453]

Customs — Valuation — CBEC clarification dt. 28-11-2001 — Duty of customs, where the unclaimed/uncleared goods are sold by tender/auction: In this case, the importer had imported CTV kits and such goods were permitted by the Customs Department to be kept in warehouse for one year in terms of S. 59. The bond period expired but the importer did not clear the imported goods and also did not pay the rent for the warehouse. The imported goods were put for sale through auction under S. 63(2) with a valuation of imported goods at Rs 1,52,04,176 but could not be sold. Ultimately, the goods were sold by tender sale in which the highest bid received was of Rs 41,44,555. The Supreme Court held that this case was not a case of levy of customs duty on the importer as the importer had not sought the release of goods within the permitted period of warehouse. Thus, in view of the CBEC clarificatory Circular dt. 28-11-2001, held, the customs duty has to be paid on the basis of sale proceeds realized from the sale of the goods kept in a warehouse and not on the basis of the customs duty payable at the time of filing the bill of entry or on the date of expiry of permitted period of warehouse. In this case, directions were given to ascertain the customs duty keeping in mind the dispensation indicated in the enabling provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 and Ch. 21 of Central Board of Excise and Customs Manual read with circular dated 20-11-2011 and to adjust the same as per the priority specified in S. 150(2) of the Customs Act, 1962. [Union of India v. Associated Container Terminals Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 756]

Customs Act, 1962 — S. 130-A r/w S. 129-B: Calling for a statement from the Tribunal by High Court is not mandatory. Considering that S. 130-A(4) opens with the word “if”, held, it is not mandatorily required to call for a statement from the Tribunal in every case, where a reference is made and High Court has a discretion on the facts of each case either to do so or not to do so. [CCE v. Adani Exports Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 754]

Election — Democracy and General Principles — Criminalisation of politics/Electoral Reform: There is increase in incidents of criminals i.e. persons against whom criminal cases were pending at different stages, entering politics. Directions issued in Public Interest Foundation, (2019) 3 SCC 224, not complied with. Political parties failed to explain why candidates with pending criminal cases have been selected as candidates. Directions issued by exercising powers under Arts. 129 and 142 of Constitution, for compliance with the above directions in Public Interest Foundation case. [Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora, (2020) 3 SCC 733]

Evidence Act, 1872 — Ss. 65-A and 65-B — Electronic records — Admissibility of: In view of Anvar P.V., (2014) 10 SCC 473, pronouncement of Supreme Court in Shafhi Mohammad, (2018) 2 SCC 801, needs reconsideration. With the passage of time, reliance on electronic records during investigation is bound to increase. Law therefore needs to be laid down in such regard with certainty. Therefore, it is appropriate to refer instant matter to larger Bench. [Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal, (2020) 3 SCC 216]

Government Grants, Largesse, Public Property and Public Premises — Affirmative Action Schemes, Pension and Other Schemes — Pension Schemes — Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 — Paras 3 and 4 — Fixation of cut-off date for grant of SSS Pension to participants of Goa Liberation Movement, Phase II — Validity: Vide G.O. dt. 17-2-2003, under relaxed criteria, Freedom Fighters Pension was granted to participants of Goa Liberation Movement Phase II (1954-1955) who were in receipt of State pension by 1-8-2002. In this case, R-1 was granted State pension on 11-3-2008 w.e.f. 1-12-2007. The evidence indicated that issue of cut-off date was deliberated by GOI and cut-off date was consciously fixed. The Supreme Court held that when benefit is granted in relaxation of Scheme, it is open for Government to put conditions for eligibility. Further held, object of SSSP Scheme, 1980 was to grant Freedom Fighters Central Pension to those who fulfil eligibility which was clearly fulfilled in including Goa Liberation Movement also under the Scheme. Besides, relaxation granted by Order dt. 17-2-2003 was not the object of Government. Scheme dt. 17-2-2003 had intelligible differentia and also nexus with object. When relaxation is granted to limited category, others not covered by Scheme cannot claim violation of any right. Right of equality can be claimed only by those who fulfil eligibilities under the SSSP Scheme, 1980. [Union of India v. Sitakant S. Dubhashi, (2020) 3 SCC 297]

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 — Ss. 13 and 9 — Divorce — Facts that may be considered — Facts arising subsequent to filing of divorce petition — Second appeal in divorce proceedings: Framing of substantial question of law on basis of criminal complaint filed by wife alleging harassment for dowry, said complaint having been filed subsequent to filing of divorce petition by husband on ground of mental cruelty, not proper. [Mangayakarasi v. M. Yuvaraj, (2020) 3 SCC 786]

Income Tax Act, 1961 — S. 43-B: The deduction of MODVAT credit of excise duty that remains unutilised at the end of the relevant accounting year, not permissible. The unutilised credit in MODVAT scheme cannot be considered as a sum actually paid by the assessee. [Maruti Suzuki (India) Ltd. v. CIT, (2020) 3 SCC 718]

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 — S. 12 (as amended w.e.f. 16-8-2019) — Time-limit for completion of insolvency resolution process — Extension of, in the interest of justice: In this case, Homebuyers’ association filed an application before NCLT seeking clarification as to the manner in which the voting percentage of the allottees (homebuyers) will be reckoned in CoC, which remained pending for considerable time. Further, constant experimentation went about at different level due to lack of clarity on matters crucial to the decision-making process of CoC and also in view of the recent legislative changes, the scope of resolution plan stood expanded. Further, there was unanimity between all the stakeholders that liquidation of JIL must be eschewed. In exercise of powers under Art. 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court directed that the 90 days’ extended period [as provided under amended S. 12(3) IBC] be reckoned from the date of the present order instead of the date of commencement of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Act, 2019. [Jaiprakash Associates Ltd. v. IDBI Bank Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 328]

Labour Law — Dismissal — Interference by Labour Court/Tribunal/Judicial review/validity — Interference with concurrent findings of fact — Scope: Setting aside of dismissal order by Division Bench of High Court relying upon circular issued subsequently, not proper. [A.P. SRTC v. N. Danaiah, (2020) 3 SCC 267]

Land Acquisition Act, 1894 — Ss. 54, 23, 28 and 34 — Delay in filing appeal: Appellant is not entitled to interest for period of delay in filing appeal. The fact that at time of condoning of delay while admitting delayed appeal, no condition was imposed is irrelevant. [Nimna Dudhna Project v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 3 SCC 255]

Limitation Act, 1963 — Arts. 54 and 113 — Applicability of Art. 54 or Art. 113 — Agreement to sell with fixed date of performance, entered into prior to acquisition proceedings in respect of suit property: In this case agreement to sell provided for date of performance (and which was later extended), thus attracting first limb of Art. 54 which provides that time from which period begins to run is from “the date fixed for performance”, ruling out applicability of second limb of Art. 54 which provides “…if no [date of performance] is fixed, when the plaintiff has notice that performance is refused”. Plaintiff was all along ready and willing to perform its part of the contract, and even obtained quashment of the acquisition proceedings. Thus, held, Art. 113 of the Limitation Act would apply and the right to sue accrued when subsequent to the quashment of the acquisition proceedings, the respondent-plaintiff served a notice upon the appellant-defendants to execute the sale deed and the defendants refused to execute the sale deed. As suit for specific performance was filed within three years thereof, said suit was correctly held by High Court to be within time. [Vundavalli Ratna Manikyam v. V.P.P.R.N. Prasada Rao, (2020) 3 SCC 289]

Limitation Act, 1963 — S. 27 & Arts. 65 and 64 — Acquisition of ownership by adverse possession — Nature of rights acquired by adverse possessor: Use of adverse possession as a sword by plaintiff is permissible in view of three-Judge Bench decision in Ravinder Kaur Grewal, (2019) 8 SCC 729. Person claiming acquisition of title by adverse possession can now file a suit for declaration of title and possession, based on his adverse possession. [Narendra Kumar Tripathi v. Karuna Auddy, (2020) 3 SCC 220]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 493 — Cohabitation caused by man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage — Ingredients of offence whether present — Determination of: In this case, on 21-7-2013, ring ceremony was performed and date of marriage between the appellant and victim was scheduled for 19-11-2013. On 16-8-2013 appellant established physical relationship with victim misleading her that, now since the marriage is finalised and only ceremony of “pheras” remains to be performed. The Supreme Court held that to constitute an offence under S. 493 IPC, the allegations in FIR must demonstrate that appellant had practised deception on the victim causing a false belief of existence of lawful marriage and which led her to cohabit with him. Insofar as offence under S. 493 IPC was concerned, since FIR does not disclose the commission of any offence under the said section and thus continuance of criminal prosecution under S. 493 IPC would amount to abuse of process of the court. However, insofar as offence against appellants under Ss. 3/4, Dowry Prohibition Act was concerned, since the allegations disclose the commission of cognizable offence in the FIR, it was not a fit case to exercise power under S. 482 CrPC. Charge-sheet under S. 493 IPC was quashed. However, in respect of charge-sheet under S. 3 r/w S. 4, Dowry Prohibition Act, the appeal stood dismissed. [Arun Singh v. State of U.P., (2020) 3 SCC 736]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 217 and 221: In this case, intentional disobeying of directions of law and intentional allowing accused persons to escape from place of occurrence was not proved by prosecution against appellant-accused police officer. Hence, reversal by High Court of his acquittal by trial court, thereby, convicting him under Ss. 217 and 221, set aside on consideration of evidence adduced by prosecution and acquittal of appellant, restored. [V. Rajaram v. State, (2020) 3 SCC 200]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/34 and 201/34: In this case of death by strangulation body was recovered from well. The circumstances which were relied upon by prosecution to prove guilt of accused, were not complete. The circumstances were not leading to conclusion, that in all human probability, murder must have been committed by accused. Hence, conviction of accused, was reversed. [Mohd. Younus Ali Tarafdar v. State of W.B., (2020) 3 SCC 747]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 376(1) and 450 — Alleged rape of married lady after house trespass — Conviction of accused solely relying upon deposition of prosecutrix — Sustainability: In this case, material contradictions were present in deposition of prosecutrix. Further, neither any independent witness nor even medical evidence supported prosecution case. FSL report also not supported prosecution case. Variation in prosecutrix’s version about giving complaint, present. Prosecutrix failed to pass tests of “sterling witness”. Delay in lodging FIR, also present. Presence of enmity/dispute between both parties with respect to land, evident from records. In absence of any other supporting evidence, it was held that accused was entitled to benefit of doubt, hence, conviction was reversed. [Santosh Prasad v. State of Bihar, (2020) 3 SCC 443]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 406, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 114 — Cheating and forgery — Criminal proceedings for — When not sustainable: When issue as to genuineness of documents, forgery of which was the basis of the criminal proceedings, was pending consideration in civil suit, FIR ought not to have been allowed to continue in this case as it would prejudice the interest of parties and the stand taken by them in the civil suit. Rajeshbhai Muljibhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, (2020) 3 SCC 794]

Rent Control and Eviction — Arrears of Rent/Default/Tender of Rent/Striking off Defence — Arrears of rent: Disconnection of electricity by lessor for default in arrears of rent, maintenance and electricity charges, permissible. [Infinity Infotech Parks Ltd. v. Shiva Jute Mills (P) Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 262]

Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 — S. 18: The waiver of pre-deposit condition for filing an appeal before DRAT is not permissible, even when the auction-sale is challenged by the guarantor and not the primary borrower. A guarantor or a mortgagor, who has mortgaged its property to secure the repayment of the loan, held, stand on the same footing as the borrower and if guarantor/mortgagor other than the primary borrower wants to file an appeal, he must comply with the terms of S. 18. Union Bank of India v. Rajat Infrastructure (P) Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 770]

Service Law — Age — Date of birth: Prayer for change in date of birth at fag end of career is not permissible. Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. v. Shyam Kishore Singh, (2020) 3 SCC 411]

Service Law — Age — Date of birth: Prayer for change in date of birth at fag end of career is not permissible. Kirloskar Bros. Ltd. v. Laxman, (2020) 3 SCC 419]

Service Law — Age — Date of birth: Prayer for change in date of birth at fag end of career is not permissible. Eastern Coalfields Ltd. v. Ram Samugh Yadav, (2020) 3 SCC 421]

Service Law — Appointment — Eligibility conditions/criteria: Non-appointment as candidates in question (contempt petitioners in this case) did not meet eligibility criteria, or did not take part in selection process, or did not opt for the specific vacancies concerned, held, proper and could not amount to contempt of orders of Court directing State to fill vacancies concerned in accordance with law. [Sanjai Kumar v. Prabhat Kumar, (2020) 3 SCC 184]

Service Law — Departmental Enquiry — Judicial review/Validity — Interference with findings — Scope: Power of judicial review conferred on constitutional court or Tribunal is not that of an appellate authority but is confined only to decision-making process. Only when finding recorded by disciplinary authority is not supported by evidence or is unreasonably arrived at, writ court can interfere with finding of disciplinary authority. Parameters when High Court shall not interfere in disciplinary proceedings stated. [State of Karnataka v. N. Gangaraj, (2020) 3 SCC 423]

Service Law — Promotion — MACP Scheme: In terms of Circular dt. 12-9-2012 issued by Ministry of Railways benefit under MACP scheme granted to employees who had qualified and were appointed under promotion quota after clearing LDCE. Hence it was held that enquiry in respect of appointments of respondents to post of ECRC was required in terms of Circular dt. 12-9-2012 as well as Cl. 129 of Indian Railway Establishment Manual, Vol. 1 dealing with filling up posts of ECRCs. Since Tribunal as well as High Court had failed to consider said issue, matter remanded to Tribunal for consideration afresh. [Union of India v. Rosamma Benny, (2020) 3 SCC 407]

Service Law — Resignation: Resignation cannot be deemed as “voluntary retirement” on completion of qualifying service for purposes of pensionary benefits. Resignation is different from “voluntary retirement” and applicable legal consequences are distinct. “Resignation” cannot be substituted for “voluntary retirement” based on employee’s tenure. [BSES Yamuna Power Ltd. v. Ghanshyam Chand Sharma, (2020) 3 SCC 346]

Service Law — Seniority — Determination of seniority — Deputationist — Absorption in deputee department: In this case, latter part of OM dt. 29-5-1986 envisaged that seniority would not be granted where transfer is “not strictly in public interest”. R-1 absorbed at his own insistence consequent to repeated representations despite departmental communication wanting R-1 to go back to his parent cadre. Hence the Supreme Court held, such transfer by absorption can hardly be stated to be “strictly in public interest”, much less in public interest. Further held, where conditions for absorption categorically stated that absorption would be “deemed to be new recruitment” and previous service would be counted for all purposes “except his/her seniority in cadre” and R-1 having accepted it without demur, seniority list prepared as a sequitur thereto was valid. Besides, this was not a case of transfer but of deputation and thus, principle of person moving to another cadre would squarely apply and such deputee would also be governed by terms and conditions of absorption. The High Court erred in relying on OMs dt. 29-5-1986 and 27-3-2001 in terms of which period of deputation was to be counted for seniority purposes ignoring latter part of OM dt. 29-5-1986. However, considering that R-1 had earned promotion in meantime and demoting him at this stage would be rather harsh, seniority list directed to be maintained by creating ex cadre/supernumerary post. [Govinda Chandra Tiria v. Sibaji Charan Panda, (2020) 3 SCC 803]

Service Law — Termination of Service — Termination order — Consequential termination order — Operation of: In this case, termination order of appellant being consequential to reversion order reverting senior to post of appellant, held, did not operate independently of said reversion order. Said reversion order having been stayed by Court, such stay would automatically result in stay of consequential termination order of appellant. Dismissal of independent writ petition of appellant challenging the termination order, thus held, was inconsequential. Rana Pratap Singh v. Vittiya Evam Lekha Adhikari,(2020) 3 SCC 478]

Service Law — Transfer of Employee/Service — Generally — Transfer: Employee, held, cannot claim a posting as of right to a place of his choice. [Union of India v. Deepak Niranjan Nath Pandit, (2020) 3 SCC 404]

Specific Relief Act, 1963 — S. 16(c) — Decree for specific performance — Readiness and willingness of plaintiff to perform his part of the contract — Essentialities to be considered: Mere plea that plaintiff was ready to pay consideration, without any material to substantiate this plea, cannot be accepted. It is not necessary for plaintiff to produce ready money to establish its readiness and willingness to pay the consideration, but it is mandatory on his part to prove that he had the means to generate consideration amount within the time-frame contemplated in the contract. [C.S. Venkatesh v. A.S.C. Murthy, (2020) 3 SCC 280]

Specific Relief Act, 1963 — S. 38: In this case, there was bare suit for injunction against trespass and for peaceful enjoyment of property by plaintiff whose possession was not disputed. The Supreme Court held that the questions of title and ownership are not precluded from consideration. Each case will have to be examined on its own merits keeping in view the nature of the pleading put forth before the trial court and the understanding of the case with which the parties have gone to trial. [Jose v. Johnson, (2020) 3 SCC 780]

Taxation — Concession/Exemption/Incentive/Rebate/Subsidy — Exemption — Possible scope of: Future levies i.e. levies imposed after the exemption notification comes into existence, not to be presumed to be within the contemplation of Government when issuing exemption notification i.e. Government cannot be presumed to have projected its mind into the future and granted exemption in respect of taxes which may be levied in the future. [Unicorn Industries v. Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 492]

Telecommunications Laws — Licence Fees — National Telecom Policy, 1999 Regime — Licence agreement between Government of India and telecom service providers — Bindingness of: Gross revenue/Adjusted gross revenue, as defined under Cl. 19 of licence agreement between Government of India and telecom service providers under National Telecom Policy, 1999 Regime, valid. Contra proferentem rule of construction is not applicable, when there is no ambiguity. Doctrine of unconscionable bargaining is not applicable to commercial contracts. The jurisdiction of TDSAT does not extend to adjudication of validity of the terms and conditions incorporated in the licence of a service provider. [Union of India v. Assn. of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India, (2020) 3 SCC 525]

Transfer of Property Act, 1882 — S. 108 — Unauthorised Occupant/Trespasser: In this case there was reduction of damages/compensation for unauthorised occupation by lessee, as awarded by trial court, in the interest of justice, considering that the lessee was a Consumer Cooperative Wholesale Store which had already vacated the leased premises and would be put in a financially precarious position owing to the burden imposed. [Periyar District Consumer Coop. Wholesale Stores Ltd. v. B. Balagopal, (2020) 3 SCC 775]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 11(6) — Petition for appointment of arbitrator under S. 11(6) — Non-maintainability of, for lack of subsisting or existing arbitration agreement: In this case, parties to the agreement containing arbitration clause, signed an agreement for revision of rates, which inter alia provided that no claims will be raised by contractor on any of the pending/settled claims/other claims resulting out of the correspondences made and there will be no arbitration for the settlement of claims. The Supreme Court held that the parties consciously and with full understanding executed Amendment of Agreement (AoA) whereby the contractor gave up all his claims and consented to the new arrangement specified in AoA including that there will be no arbitration for settlement of any claims by contractor in future. Thus, having chosen to adopt that path, it was not open to contractor to now take recourse to arbitration process or to resurrect the claim which has been resolved in terms of amended agreement, after availing of steep revision of rates being condition precedent. [WAPCOS Ltd. v. Salma Dam Joint Venture, (2020) 3 SCC 169]

Constitution of India — Art. 226 — Habeas corpus petition — Custody of child: The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration. Child has human right to have love and affection of both parents. Importance of, visitation rights and contact rights of parent not given child’s custody, explained. Court must clearly define nature, manner and specifics of visitation and contact rights of such parent. [Yashita Sahu v. State of Rajasthan, (2020) 3 SCC 67]

Constitution of India — Art. 226 — Nature of right enforceable — Necessity of accrued right, or unlawful denial of right: Person disentitling themselves due to their own omission, default or failure to comply with eligibility requirements, held, not entitled to any relief. [Karnataka State Seeds Development Corpn. Ltd. v. H.L. Kaveri, (2020) 3 SCC 108]

Constitution of India — Art. 311(2) second proviso cl. (b) — Dispensation with inquiry by invocation of, on ground that it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry: It is necessary to record reason(s) for dispensation with inquiry by invocation of Art. 311(2) second proviso cl. (b), on ground that it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry therefore. In case of failure to record such reason(s) while invoking Art. 311(2) second proviso cl. (b), remand of matter for disposal afresh, with liberty to invoke powers under Art. 311(2) second proviso cl. (b), if required, at appropriate stage and to pass reasoned order after following prescribed procedure, held, permissible. [Hari Niwas Gupta v. State of Bihar, (2020) 3 SCC 153]

Constitution of India — Arts. 137 and 145(3) — Review petition raising question(s) of law requiring determination by a larger Bench: Court can refer question(s) of law to a larger Bench in a review petition. [Kantaru Rajeevaru (Right to Religion, In re-9 J.) v. Indian Young Lawyers Assn., (2020) 3 SCC 52]

Constitution of India — Arts. 16 (4) and 16(4-A) — Nature of: Arts. 16 (4) and 16(4-A) are enabling provisions. Thus, neither is there any duty on the State to provide reservation in appointment nor promotion to public posts, nor is there any fundamental right to claim reservation in matters of appointment or promotion to public posts, for SC and ST candidates or anyone else. Providing reservation in appointment or promotion to public posts is discretionary on part of State, depending upon its subjective satisfaction regarding adequacy of representation of persons in services under State. Satisfaction must be based on some material and is subject to judicial scrutiny but Court cannot issue mandamus directing State to provide reservation in appointment or promotion. The pre-requisite for State’s decision to provide reservation in promotion is collection of quantifiable data relating to inadequacy of representation so as to justify its decision before Court if challenged but there is no such pre-requisite to collect quantifiable data relating to adequacy of representation, if State decides not to provide reservation as it is not bound to provide reservation. [Mukesh Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand, (2020) 3 SCC 1]

Contract and Specific Relief — Remedies/Relief — Remedies for Breach of Contract — Damages — Stipulated Damages, Penalty Clauses and Earnest money/Security deposits: In this case, an agreement was entered into between respondent, Central Warehousing Corporation and appellant for a period of two years for carrying out the work of handling and transportation at Inland Clearance Depot (ICD), Varanasi but respondent Corporation terminated contract due to appellant’s poor performance. Respondent Corporation justified forfeiture of security deposit of appellant on two counts: firstly, in view of the heavy claim raised by an exporter whose containers remained missing for a long time and secondly, on account of bank guarantee in the sum of rupees ten lakhs furnished by respondent Corporation before court for release of container. The Supreme Court held that the appellant was given a contract to assist in smooth running of international business of import and export and to have the time management on top priority, however, failure to transport a container to Port at Navi Mumbai resulted in missing of export schedule. While taking into consideration failure of appellant to deliver container and the time taken in recovery of container and expenditure incurred by respondent Corporation, held, the detention of the equipments could not be said to be arbitrary or beyond the terms of the agreement. Hence, the counterclaims towards refund of security deposit and towards illegal detention of forklift, held, to be rightly decided against the appellant. [Vijay Trading & Transport Co. v. Central Warehousing Corpn., (2020) 3 SCC 147]

Criminal Law — Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 300 — Double jeopardy — Applicability of principle — Subsequent proceedings when barred: If the substratum of the two proceedings/FIRs is common, the mere addition of charge(s) under different/additional sections in the subsequent FIR, held, cannot be considered as different ingredients to justify the latter FIR as being based on different materials, allegations and grounds. [Prem Chand Singh v. State of U.P.,(2020) 3 SCC 54]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 394(2) — Continuance of criminal appeal after death of appellant-accused — Appeal arising from composite sentence of imprisonment as well as fine: Such appeal on death of appellant-accused must be treated as an appeal against sentence of fine and therefore must not abate with regard to that sentence of fine as provided under S. 394(2) CrPC. Resultantly, present appeal before High Court being against sentence of fine was required to be heard against that sentence despite death of appellant-accused. [Ramesan v. State of Kerala, (2020) 3 SCC 45]

Environment Law — Water/River/Coastal Pollution — Coastal Areas/Wetlands/Coastal Regulation Zone Notifications — CRZ Notification of 1991 — Nediyathuruthu and Vettila Thuruthu, backwater islands of Kerala — Inclusion of Nediyathuruthu Island within CRZ, applicability of CRZ Notification of 1991, prohibition of construction and removal of encroachment — Judgment rendered in Vaamika Island, (2013) 8 SCC 760, inter alia qua Vettila Thuruthu Island — Applicability of, to project proponent in respect of Nediyathuruthu Island (i.e. appellant known as “Kapico”): In this case, the High Court, in the impugned judgment, compartmentalised the issues arising for consideration into 2 parts, the first dealing with issues in common for Vettila Thuruthu Island and Nediyathuruthu Island and the next dealing with issues peculiar to each of them. The Supreme Court held that the decision in Vaamika Island, (2013) 8 SCC 760 was rendered at the stage of special leave petitions and though the Court refused leave, it went on to affirm the findings of High Court, recording detailed reasons therefore. Further, the appellants cannot escape the findings recorded in the said case and once it is found that the main issues arose in common for both the islands and dealt with in common by High Court, had received a seal of approval from Supreme Court by a reasoned order. Further, there is no scope for revisiting the same on the basis of certain minor ancillary issues not specifically dealt with, in the judgment. Thus, appeals were dismissed in light of the findings: (i) that the substantial issues that arose in common for both the islands have already been answered in Vaamika Island, (2013) 8 SCC 760, and (ii) that the distinguishing features sought to be projected, were not so material as to take a different view than the one taken therein. [Kapico Kerala Resorts (P) Ltd. v. State of Kerala, (2020) 3 SCC 18]

Labour Law — Termination of Service — Termination order — Validity — Non-receipt of termination order: Once termination order is issued and sent out to employee concerned, it must be held to have been communicated to him, no matter when he actually received it. Hence, appellant not entitled to dispute the termination order as not real or bona fide merely on the ground that he had not received it. [Rajneesh Khajuria v. Wockhardt Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 86]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — Ss. 166, 168 and 128 & 194-C — Compensation — Contributory negligence of victim — Requirements for invocation of principle of — Explained: In this case, deceased pillion rider riding on a motorcycle with two others (“tripling”) when hit by a car from behind, such pillion riding above the permissible limit not having causal connection with injury or accident. The Supreme Court held that the fact that deceased was riding pillion on a motorcycle along with driver and another beyond the permissible limit, may not, by itself, without anything more, make him guilty of contributory negligence, unless it is established that it contributed either to accident or to impact of accident upon victim. [Mohd. Siddique v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 3 SCC 57]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 467 and 468 — Forgery for cheating: In this case, signature was forged by accused postman in delivery slip of registry, to steal envelope containing valuable security, which came for delivery at home. Evidence of handwriting experts was corroborated by evidence of person whose signature was forged. There was absence of any explanation by accused postman, raising presumption against him, as he came for delivery of aforesaid envelope and was the only person having knowledge of the same. Hence, conviction of accused under Ss. 467 and 468, confirmed. [Padum Kumar v. State of U.P., (2020) 3 SCC 35]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 86, 302 and 304 — Drunkenness when a defence or mitigating factor — Act(s) committed in state of voluntary drunkenness or intoxication: So far as knowledge is concerned, in cases of voluntary drunkenness, knowledge is to be presumed in the same manner as if there was no drunkenness. So far as intention is concerned, it must be gathered from the attending general circumstances of the case paying due regard to the degree of intoxication. Was the man beside his mind altogether for the time being? If so, it would not be possible to fix him with the requisite intention but if he had not gone so deep in drinking, and from the facts it could be found that he knew what he was about, the rule to be applied is that a man is presumed to intend the natural consequences of his act or acts. [Paul v. State of Kerala, (2020) 3 SCC 115]

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 — S. 27(1)(a) — Jurisdiction of courts: A plain reading of S. 27 makes it clear that petition under DV Act can be filed in a court where “person aggrieved” permanently or temporarily resides or carries on business or is employed. In this case, respondent was residing with her parents within territorial limits of Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Bengaluru. Thus, in view of S. 27(1)(a), Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Bengaluru has jurisdiction to entertain complaint and take cognizance of offence. [Shyamlal Devda v. Parimala, (2020) 3 SCC 14]

Service Law — Appointment — Non-appointment/Denial of appointment/Right to appointment — Denial of appointment — Relief: In this case, non-grant of salary for period when there was no appointment as respondent had thus not worked, on principle of “no work no pay”was held, proper. Furthermore, held, consequential benefits in the form of post-retirement benefits could also not have been computed based on period for which there was no appointment. [State of U.P. v. Ali Hussain Ansari, (2020) 3 SCC 99]

Service Law — Pay — Pay scale, fixation and revision — Pay fixation: In this case, there was claim to grant of Selection Grade and Special Grade Scales of pay in bracket of Rs 5000- 8000 and Rs 5500-9000 respectively in terms of GOMs No. 162 dt. 13-4-1998 on grounds of parity by appellant drivers of State Government. Appellants were found not entitled to Selection Grade and Special Grade pay scales as claimed, hence held, appellants cannot claim such relief on grounds of parity. It is well settled that person cannot invoke Art. 14 of the Constitution to claim benefit on grounds of parity if he is not entitled to such benefit. [P. Singaravelan v. Collector, Tiruppur, (2020) 3 SCC 133]

Service Law — Suspension — Non-entitlement to salary for period of suspension: In this case, appellant was suspended on 29-7-2003 and reinstated on 10-9-2012. The substitution of punishment of dismissal by lesser punishment does not result in exoneration of appellant of charges framed against him. Further held, it is for disciplinary authority to decide how suspension period is to be treated. [Om Pal Singh v. Sarva U.P. Gramin Bank, (2020) 3 SCC 103]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Constitution of India — Arts. 25 and 26 — Religious practices — Funeral and death ceremonies as per Zoroastrian/Parsi religion: In this case, petitioner permitted, on compassionate grounds, to attend funeral prayers and death ceremonies of parents inside prayer hall of Bungli (Bungalow) of the Towers of Silence Complex at Valsad, as per memorandum of agreement between petitioner and respondents. This met immediate requirement of petitioner and her sisters. Others rights to be adjudicated at a later stage. [Goolrokh M. Gupta v. Burjor Pardiwala, (2020) 2 SCC 705]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 8 R. 1 — Power to condone delay in filing written statements beyond the prescribed period of 90 days qua non-commercial suits — Continuance of: The amendment to Or. 8 R. 1 CPC by the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 i.e. providing for mandatory nature of the timeline prescribed for filing of written statement and lack of discretion with courts to condone any delay, is not applicable to non-commercial suits. Post coming into force of the Commercial Courts Act, there are two regimes of civil procedure: whereas commercial disputes [as defined under S. 2(c) of the Commercial Courts Act] are governed by CPC as amended by S. 16 of the said Act, all other non-commercial disputes fall within the ambit of the unamended (or original) provisions of CPC. Further, as regards the timeline for filing of written statement in a non-commercial dispute, held, the unamended Or. 8 R. 1 CPC continues to be directory and does not do away with the inherent discretion of courts to condone certain delays. [Desh Raj v. Balkishan, (2020) 2 SCC 708]

Army Rules, 1954 — Rr. 180, 179, 182 and 22 — Procedure for enquiry where character of person subject to Act is involved: Proceedings of court of inquiry are in nature of fact-finding conducted at pre-investigation stage and accused is entitled to full opportunity to participate in proceedings. Further held, final order is on basis of trial by court martial and hence, irregularities at earlier stages cannot be basis for setting aside order passed by court martial. Where ground for non-compliance with R. 180 is raised by accused during framing of charge or during recording of summary of evidence, authorities have to rectify defect as compliance with procedure prescribed in R. 180 is obligatory. [Union of India v. Virendra Kumar, (2020) 2 SCC 714]

Service Law — Reinstatement/Back Wages/Arrears — Reinstatement without back wages — Removal for failure to join transferred place of posting: In this case, petitioner approached CAT after three years of order of removal and approached Supreme Court under Art. 32 of the Constitution after almost 9 yrs of accrual of cause of action. The Supreme Court held, considering that petitioner had directly approached Supreme Court under Art. 32 of the Constitution, it would not be appropriate to examine correctness of order of removal. However, considering that order of removal constitutes harsh disciplinary measure, in peculiar circumstances of case, in interest of justice order of Central Government to treat period of absence as “dies non” modified, and though petitioner held not entitled to arrears of salary for period of absence, his salary directed to be fixed by granting him notional increments as and when accrued. Since petitioner had failed to join his place of posting, nor did he approach Court at relevant time or even after his removal contemporarily conceding benefit of arrears of salary, seniority, continuity, etc. would not be fair. [Mangilal Kajodia v. Union of India, (2020) 2 SCC 723]

Service Law — Appointment — Compassionate appointment — Applicability of prevalent scheme vis-à-vis subsequent scheme: Claim for compassionate appointment must be decided only on basis of relevant scheme prevalent on date of demise of employee; subsequent scheme(s) cannot be looked into. [Indian Bank v. Promila, (2020) 2 SCC 729]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302: In this case, there was murder of wife in her own home past midnight when appellant was alone with her. Circumstantial evidence pointed to the guilt of appellant and there was no explanation of incriminating evidence. Defective investigation was held to be not vitiative of prosecution case, in present case, hence, conviction was confirmed. [Nawab v. State of Uttarakhand, (2020) 2 SCC 736]

Citizens, Migrants and Aliens — National Register of Citizens of India in State of Assam (NRC): In this case, Union of India was of view that children would not be separated from their parents who have been given citizenship through NRC. [Assam Public Works v. Union of India, (2020) 2 SCC 741]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 439 and 437 — Bail — Rejection and cancellation of — Distinction between: Rejection of bail stands on one footing but cancellation of bail is a harsh order because it interferes with liberty of individual and hence it must not be lightly resorted to. [Myakala Dharmarajam v. State of Telangana, (2020) 2 SCC 743]

Air Force Act, 1950 — S. 52(c) r/w Para 804(b) of Air Force Regulations, 1964 r/w Ss. 154 and 5 CrPC — Inapplicability of CrPC to matters covered by Air Force Act: In this case registration of FIR for alleged offence of theft and misappropriation of kerosene and diesel, committed by Air Force personnel from Diesel and Petrol Store of Air Force, held, was not mandatory since CrPC is inapplicable to matters covered by Air Force Act which is a special law conferring jurisdiction and powers on court martial. Finding recorded by Tribunal that it was mandatory for authorities to report offences to civil police for registration of FIR, unsustainable. Para 804(b) of Regulations makes it clear that reporting of offence of theft to civil police is optional and only when circumstances warrant, competent authority may do so. [Union of India v. Chandra Bhushan Yadav, (2020) 2 SCC 747]

Infrastructure Laws — Telecommunication Laws — Telecom Agreement/Telecom Licence/Spectrum Allocation/Scams/Auction/Licence Fees: In this case, Respondent licensees’ liability towards payment of deferred spectrum charges, in May 2018, was to the tune of Rs 774.25 crores. Since these deferred instalment charges could not be made within the time granted, the Union encashed bank guarantees to the tune of Rs 908.91 crores as against the actual amount of Rs 774.25 crores. In this case, rejecting the contention of the Union that there were subsequent defaults or short payments in respect of liability towards later periods, held, that there was no rationale for the Union to resist the demand for refund of excess amounts. Thus, the order of TDSAT directing Union to return the unadjusted amount of Rs 104.34 crores, upheld. [Union of India v. Reliance Communication Ltd., (2020) 2 SCC 756]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions — Appointment/Recruitment — Right to appointment — Appointment to post of Vice-Principal: In this case there was selection of respondent-petitioner by the Selection Committee for appointment as Vice-Principal approved by governing body but rejected by University vide letter dt. 13-1-2006 since prior approval of University as mandated by Cl. 4(4) of Delhi University Ordinance XVIII was not taken and also manner in which College was appointing Acting Principal. The Supreme Court held that though Cl. 4(4) mandates that prior approval from University before making appointment must be taken but on most occasions it was noticed that approval had been granted post facto. In such circumstances, rejection of respondent’s appointment was not justified, more so, when his candidature was approved by governing body and he was eligible. Further, resolution of expanded governing body of College dt. 29-2-2016 noting that respondent-petitioner was illegally holding post of Acting Principal and hence, recommending appointment of seniormost teacher as Principal was to deny respondent benefit of appointment of Vice-Principal to which he was entitled. Furthermore, apprehension that if respondent becomes Acting Principal by virtue of being Vice-Principal, he would not allow appointment of regular Principal baseless since it is only when appellants fail in their duty to appoint Principal, Cl. 7(3) of Ordinance XVIII would be applicable and respondent entitled to act as Principal in terms thereof — Respondent entitled to be appointed as regular Vice-Principal. [Swami Shraddhanand College v. Amar Nath Jha, (2020) 2 SCC 761]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 227 — Discharge of accused — When warranted — Scope of S. 227 CrPC:Relevant considerations by court at that stage, discussed. Governing principles regarding permissibility of defence of accused or documents produced by him, summarized. [M.E. Shivalingamurthy v. CBI, (2020) 2 SCC 768]

Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 — Ss. 30, 15 and 3(f) — Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court — Scope of interference with order of substituted punishment passed by Tribunal: Supreme Court in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction under S. 30, held, would be slow in interfering with substituted punishment unless order passed by Tribunal is patently illegal, warranting interference. [Union of India v. R. Karthik, (2020) 2 SCC 782]

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 — Ss. 2(33), 2(45), 2(54), 14, 15, 19 and 21 — “Heinous offence” — What is: Only those offences which prescribe minimum sentence of 7 yrs or more can be regarded as heinous offences. Offences not providing minimum sentence of 7 yrs, held, cannot be treated as heinous offences. Offences prescribing maximum sentence of more than 7 yrs but not providing any minimum sentence or providing minimum sentence of less than 7 yrs’ imprisonment, held, are not covered by S. 2(33). In exercise of power under Art. 142 of the Constitution, held, such offences shall be treated as “serious offences” within meaning of S. 2(54) till Parliament steps in to make provisions clearer. When two views are possible, one in favour of children is to be preferred. [Shilpa Mittal v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 2 SCC 787]

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 — S. 7-A — Juvenility — Effect of rejection of plea of: The plea of juvenility cannot be reagitated. S. 7-A of the JJ Act stipulates that an application can be filed before any court at any stage including the stage after the final disposal of the petition. However, once a convict has chosen to take the plea of juvenility before Magistrate, High Court and also before the Supreme Court and the said plea has been rejected up to Supreme Court, the petitioner cannot be allowed to reagitate the plea of juvenility by filing fresh application under S. 7-A of the JJ Act. [Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 2 SCC 803]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 — Ss. 50 and 18 — Search and seizure: In this case, contraband was recovered from bag carried by accused, hence, S. 50 stood complied with. From oral and documentary evidence, it is clear, that courts below were right in their findings. As prosecution proved guilt of accused beyond reasonable doubt, conviction of accused under S. 18, confirmed. [Surinder Kumar v. State of Punjab, (2020) 2 SCC 563]

Constitution of India — Arts. 300-A and 21 — Right to property as a human right — Implications of — Property as seed-bed of all other freedoms: It is accepted in every jurisprudence and by different political thinkers that some amount of property is an indispensable safeguard against tyranny and economic oppression of the Government. Liberty cannot long subsist without the support of property. Property must be secured, else liberty cannot subsist. Indeed the view that property itself is the seed-bed which must be conserved if other constitutional values are to flourish, is the consensus among political thinkers and jurists. [Vidya Devi v. State of H.P., (2020) 2 SCC 569]

Ss. 9 and 3 — Mandatory nature of — Non-compliance with S. 9 r/w R. 7 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995: In this case, Respondents were charged under Ss. 302/34 and 404/34 IPC apart from S. 3(2)(v) of the 1989 Act. Investigation was conducted by Sub-Inspector and not by DSP as required by R. 7 of the 1995 Rules. It was held by the Supreme Court that the proceedings under SC/ST Act, were rightly quashed by courts below, but charge-sheet deserved to proceed in an appropriate competent court of jurisdiction for offences punishable under IPC, as investigation had been made by a competent police officer in accordance with provisions of CrPC, so far as the offences punishable under IPC were concerned. Impugned order was accordingly restricted to offence under S. 3 of the 1989 Act and not in respect of offences punishable under IPC. [State of M.P. v. Babbu Rathore, (2020) 2 SCC 577]

Service Law — Appointment — Non-appointment/Denial of appointment/Right to appointment: Right to appointment does not accrue merely upon participation in selection process and even upon being placed in merit list. [Mohd. Rashid v. Local Bodies, (2020) 2 SCC 582]

Service Law — Misconduct — Absence from duty/Unauthorised absence/Absenteeism — Proportionality/Quantum of punishment: In this case, Respondent failed to report for duty for about seven years (1991 to 1998) after availing leave for 9 days and defying direction of Commandant to present himself before CDMO for medical examination. The High Court by the impugned judgment substituted punishment of discharge with that of compulsory retirement by relying on medical certificate. The Supreme Court held that the impugned judgment of the High Court was not proper and restored the punishment of discharge. [State of Odisha v. Ganesh Chandra Sahoo, (2020) 2 SCC 588]

Constitution of India — Sch. X Para 6 — Disqualification of Member of Legislative Assembly — Speaker’s order disqualifying Member — Scope of Speaker’s jurisdiction: While disqualifying Member, Speaker has no jurisdiction to specify period of disqualification such as disqualification would continue till end of term of Legislative Assembly and during that period Member would not be entitled to contest elections, even if they might have defected to another party (for which they might have suffered the disqualification). [Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil v. Karnataka Legislative Assembly, (2020) 2 SCC 595]

Constitution of India — Art. 14 — Classification — Religious institutions — Rent control legislations: Separate classification of properties belonging to religious institutions for purpose of rent legislations [like Punjab Religious Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Recovery) Act, 1997 herein], held, permissible. It is not violative of Art. 14. Court can interfere only when the policy of Act is irrational. [Harbhajan Singh v. State of Punjab, (2020) 2 SCC 659]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 7 R. 6 and proviso thereto — Applicability of — Grounds of exemption from limitation law: Stating of grounds of exemption in pleadings is necessary. Proviso to Or. 7 R. 6 permit exemption from law of limitation on any ground not set out in plaint, so long as such ground was not inconsistent with grounds set out in plaint. [Shanti Conductors (P) Ltd. v. Assam SEB, (2020) 2 SCC 677]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 85 — Applicability of exception — Defence of intoxication when thing which intoxicated accused was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will: Defence of intoxication/drunkenness can be availed of only when intoxication produces such a condition as accused loses the requisite intention for the offence and onus of proof about reason of intoxication, due to which accused had become incapable of having particular knowledge in forming particular intention, is on the accused. Evidence of drunkenness which renders accused incapable of forming the specific intent essential to constitute the crime should be taken into account with the other facts proved in order to determine whether or not he had the intention. Merely establishing that his mind was affected by drink so that he more readily gave way to some violent passion, does not rebut the presumption that a man intends the natural consequences of his acts. [Suraj Jagannath Jadhav v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 2 SCC 693]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 34 — Common intention — Vicarious liability — Inference of: In order to invoke principle of joint liability in commission of criminal act as laid down in S. 34, prosecution should show that criminal act in question was done by one of the accused persons in furtherance of common intention of all. Common intention may be through a pre-arranged plan, or it may be generated just prior to the incident. Common intention denotes action in concert, and a prior meeting of minds. The acts may be different, and may vary in their character, but they are all actuated by the same common intention. Question as to whether there is any common intention or not depends upon the inference to be drawn from the proven facts and circumstances of each case. Totality of the circumstances must be taken into consideration in arriving at the conclusion whether accused persons had the common intention to commit the offence. [Virender v. State of Haryana, (2020) 2 SCC 700] 

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Constitution of India — Arts. 32, 136, 137 and 226 — Judicial review — Disputes involving government contracts: Determination of pricing is not the function of courts, particularly in defence contracts.  Such issues cannot be dealt with by courts on mere suspicion of persons approaching it. Judicial review does not permit re-appreciation of materials. Court cannot sit in judgment over wisdom of Government. [Yashwant Sinha v. CBI, (2020) 2 SCC 338]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 8 R. 6-A — Counterclaim: Court has discretionary power to consider belated counterclaim filed after submission of written statement. Balanced approach of court in exercise of discretionary power where counter-claim is filed after submission of written statement, stressed. Factors to be considered for exercise of discretionary power, illustrated. Once issues have been framed, further held (per curiam), court cannot entertain belated counterclaim filed after submission of written statement. [Ashok Kumar Kalra v. Surendra Agnihotri, (2020) 2 SCC 394]

Service Law — Transfer of Employee/Service — Rights/Entitlements on Transfer: In this case there was transfer of 15 regular employees from Kandla Port Trust (KPT) to FCI w.e.f. 1-1-1973. They claimed parity by remaining 306 work-charged employees of KPT who were also transferred to FCI. Tribunal directed FCI (Respondent 1) to give option to 15 employees to elect revised pay scales under S. 12-A(4) of 1964 Act. The Supreme Court held that distinction between regular employee and work-charged employee cannot be ignored. Relief granted by Tribunal was also restricted to 15 workmen who were regular employees. Besides, office order dt. 18-9-1973 transferring employees working in KPT to FCI also shows that regular employees and work-charged employees were treated differently. Even assuming that workcharged employees also had to be appointed in FCI, they cannot claim parity with regular employees, that too in 1996 after having accepted appointment in FCI as per office order dt. 18-9-1973. [Kandla Port Workers Union v. Food Corpn. of India, (2020) 2 SCC 419]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/149, 147 and 148 — Murder — Testimony of interested eyewitnesses — When may be relied on: In this case, clear, cogent and almost identical testimony of interested eyewitnesses (there being previous enmity) was fully corroborated by medical evidence. There was prompt FIR and no reason to doubt prosecution case, hence, reversal of acquittal, confirmed. [Ramji Singh v. State of U.P., (2020) 2 SCC 425]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 456 — Housebreaking by night — Acquittal by Tribunal, reversed: In instant case, it was held that the judgment of Tribunal acquitting respondent-accused cannot be sustained since Tribunal erred in ignoring material evidence on record and blowing out of proportion minor contradictions in testimonies of S (person into whose house accused had broken into at night) since there was ring of truth in her evidence and no reason for her to falsely implicate respondent. Besides, it also failed to consider consistent testimonies of other witnesses who spoke about occurrence. Moreover, it ignored material evidence on record like photograph of bruises on both arms of respondent and opinion of doctor which lent support to prosecution version. Thus, there was sufficient material on record clearly pointing to guilt of respondent. Tribunal erred in interfering with judgment of conviction passed by SCM. Judgment of SCM imposing punishment of dismissal and reduction in rank restored. However, it was directed that sentence of imprisonment imposed would be modified to period already undergone. [Union of India v. Dafadar Kartar Singh, (2020) 2 SCC 437]

Constitution of India — Arts. 226 and 32 — Maintainability of writ petition — Alternative remedy/Exhaustion of remedies: Principle that High Court should not exercise its extraordinary writ jurisdiction when efficacious alternative remedy is available is a rule of prudence and not rule of law. Existence of such remedy does not mean that jurisdiction of High Court is ousted. Rule of alternative remedy is a rule of discretion and not rule of jurisdiction. Merely because court may not exercise its jurisdiction is no ground to hold that it has no jurisdiction. In relation to orders passed by Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), High Court would be justified in exercising its writ jurisdiction because of some glaring illegality committed by AFT. Besides, alternative remedy must also be efficacious. To expect a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) or Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) to approach Supreme Court in every case may not be justified because it is extremely difficult and beyond monetary reach of ordinary litigant to approach Supreme Court. Thus, exercise of writ jurisdiction against orders of AFT is within discretion of High Court and there cannot be blanket ban on exercise of such jurisdiction. [Balkrishna Ram v. Union of India, (2020) 2 SCC 442]

Constitution of India — Arts. 137, 141 and 142 — Curative petition against death sentence — Maintainability — Nirbhaya Gang Rape Case: As petitions were not within parameters of law laid down in Rupa Ashok Hurra, (2002) 4 SCC 388, curative petitions dismissed. Along with it, applications for oral hearing and stay on execution of death sentence were also rejected. [Akshay Kumar Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 2 SCC 454]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 11(6-A) [as ins. in 2015] and 16 — Appointment of arbitrator and jurisdiction of arbitrator: Law summarised regarding exercise of power under S. 11 before 2015 Amendment and after Amendment. Doctrine of kompetenz-kompetenz and its limitations, explained. Consideration of preliminary objections such as limitation, etc. by Court at pre-reference stage, after insertion of S. 11(6-A) is not permissible. After the insertion of S. 11(6-A), issue of limitation, which is a jurisdictional issue, held, is to be decided by arbitrator. [Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. v. Northern Coal Field Ltd., (2020) 2 SCC 455]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 11(6) — Appointment of arbitrator by court, in terms of arbitration agreement as opposed to appointment ignoring arbitration agreement — Necessity of: When agreement specifically provides for appointment of named arbitrators, appointment should be in terms of agreement, unless there are exceptional reasons for departing from agreement procedure for appointment of arbitrator, as per settled principles. [Union of India v. Pradeep Vinod Construction Co., (2020) 2 SCC 464]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 301 and 225 r/w S. 24(8) proviso and S. 311 — Extent of right of victim’s counsel to assist the prosecution: The same is not restricted only to assisting Special Public Prosecutors. Rather, assistance given by the victim’s counsel is meant to be given to the prosecution in general, regardless of who exactly is leading it. Further held, extent of assistance by victim’s counsel to Public Prosecutor and manner of giving it would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. Though all possible scenarios that may arise during a criminal prosecution cannot be detailed and discussed, a victim’s counsel should ordinarily not be given the right to make oral arguments or examine and cross-examine witnesses. The balance inherent in the scheme of CrPC should not be tampered with, and the prime role accorded to the Public Prosecutor should not be diluted. Even if there is a situation where the Public Prosecutor fails to highlight some issue(s) of importance despite the same having been suggested by the victim’s counsel, the victim’s counsel may still not be given the unbridled mantle of making oral arguments or examining witnesses. If the victim’s counsel finds that the Public Prosecutor has not examined a witness properly and not incorporated his suggestions either, he may bring certain questions to the notice of the court. If the Judge finds merit in them, he may take action accordingly by invoking his powers under S. 311 CrPC or S. 165 of the Evidence Act, 1872. [Rekha Murarka v. State of W.B., (2020) 2 SCC 474]

Local Government — Town Planning — Development permission/FSI charges/Change of land use — Rate of prevalent FSI (Floor Space Index) charges — Determination of: Mere pendency of the application for planning permission does not create a vested right in an applicant and right accrues only when the permission/sanction is granted by the Government/authorities concerned. Further, until and unless an application complete in all respects is approved, it remains a mere application and no right can be claimed on the basis of such an application. Thus, the rates prevailing at the time of granting of permission are the rates which an applicant has to pay. [Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority v. D. Rajan Dev, (2020) 2 SCC 483]

Service Law — Pension — Entitlement to pension — Period of interruption of service — Non-consideration of for purposes of pension — Propriety: In this case, appellant was appointed on 8-5-1970 as Proof Reader, seeking voluntary retirement on 1-2-1988, but subsequently reappointed on 3-8-1994 pursuant to recommendations of Education Minister. There was prayer for adding period of interruption of service between 1-2-1988 and 3-8-1994 i.e. more than six years for grant of pension. In terms of R. 4.23, Punjab Civil Service Rules, Vol. II as applicable to State of Haryana, period of interruption of one year service could be condoned for grant of pensionary benefits. Appellant’s request for relaxation from R. 4.23 was not acceded to by Government. Hence, it was held that refusal by respondent for adding period of interruption for pensionary benefit cannot be faulted with. Further held, appellant’s period after fresh appointment from 3-8-1994 being less than qualifying service of 10 years, he was not entitled for pension. [Surinder Nath Kesar v. Board of School Education, (2020) 2 SCC 499]

Service Law — Penalty/Punishment — Competent authority — Regns. 4(h) and 5(3) of Canara Bank Officers and Employees (Discipline and Appeal) Regulations, 1976: In this case, punishment of compulsory retirement was imposed by General Manager while disciplinary proceedings was initiated by DGM as disciplinary authority. In terms of Regn. 5(3), disciplinary authority or any other authority higher than it, may impose penalties specified in Regn. 4. Hence it was held that Division Bench erred in holding that General Manager being an authority higher to disciplinary authority could not exercise power of disciplinary authority and impose punishment. Order of Single Judge remitting matter to authorised appellate authority for reconsideration of appeal was restored. [Canara Bank v. Kameshwar Singh, (2020) 2 SCC 507]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 or S. 304 [S. 300 Thirdly and Exception 4] — Murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder: In this case, there was sudden fight on the spur of the moment and premeditation or intention to kill deceased or to cause the very injury which ultimately led to death of deceased, was absent. All ingredients of S. 300 Exception 4 were satisfied in this case. Hence, it was held that offence committed in this case was not murder but culpable homicide not amounting to murder. [Ananta Kamilya v. State of W.B., (2020) 2 SCC 511]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 389 — Suspension of sentence — Conditional order of suspension of sentence: When suspension of sentence by trial court is granted on a condition, non-compliance with that condition has adverse effect on continuance of suspension of sentence. Court which has suspended the sentence on a condition, after noticing non-compliance with that condition can very well hold that suspension of sentence stands vacated due to non-compliance. [Surinder Singh Deswal v. Virender Gandhi, (2020) 2 SCC 514]

Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1965 (2 of 1965) — S. 11(4)(i) — Tenant sub-letting entire leased premises or any part thereof when lease deed does not confer such powers: Landlord, held, obtains right to seek eviction of tenant from entire premises even if part only of the leased premises is sublet. If one tenancy is created it would not be appropriate to pass eviction order only in respect of part thereof. Hence, in such circumstances, eviction order must be passed in respect of the entire premises. When tenant transfers his rights under lease and sublets entire building or any portion thereof without lease conferring such right on him to do so, then cause arises for eviction. Under such circumstances, landlord should send a registered notice to tenant intimating contravention of said condition of lease. When tenant fails to terminate transfer or sub-lease, as the case may be, within thirty days of receipt of notice, application for eviction can be made by landlord. Sub-letting of any part of tenanted premises gives right to eviction from whole premises. If one tenancy is created it would not be appropriate to pass eviction order only in respect of part thereof but eviction order must be passed in respect of whole premises. [K. Lubna v. Beevi, (2020) 2 SCC 524]

Rent Control and Eviction — Sub-Letting/Sub-Tenant/Sub-Tenancy — Unauthorised sub-letting as a ground for eviction — Subletting by tenant — Proof of: Defence of tenant that he was a partner in the concern in possession of the property let is rejected, when same is to conceal the real transaction of sub-letting. Inducting a partner or partners in business or profession by a tenant by itself does not amount to sub-letting, however, if the purpose of such partnership is ostensible and a deed of partnership is drawn to conceal real transaction of sub-letting, court may tear the veil of partnership to find out real nature of transaction entered into by tenant. [A. Mahalakshmi v. Bala Venkatram, (2020) 2 SCC 531]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 17 r/w Ss. 2(2) & 2(4) and S. 9(3) — Power of Arbitral Tribunal to grant interim relief in cases of statutory arbitrations under other Acts, such as under the Gujarat Act, 1992 — Applicability of Pt. I [Ss. 17 and 9 (3)] of the A&C Act: S. 17 of the 1996 Act is not inconsistent with the Gujarat Public Works Contracts Disputes Arbitration Tribunal Act, 1992, and thus as per S. 2(4) of the A&C Act, the same is applicable for granting interim relief under Gujarat Act. Furthermore, by application of S. 9(3) of the A&C Act, proper forum for grant of interim relief would be Arbitral Tribunal once it is constituted, and not Court. Moreover, grant of interim relief by High Court exercising writ jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the Constitution is impermissible when such relief can be granted by the Arbitral Tribunal. [State of Gujarat v. Amber Builders, (2020) 2 SCC 540]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — Ss. 163-A and 147: Claim petition under S. 163-A, held, not maintainable by borrower/permissive user of vehicle against owner and/or insurer of said vehicle, as such borrower/permissive user steps into shoes of owner, and owner cannot both be claimant and recipient. In a claim under S. 163-A, deceased/victim has to be a third party in relation to vehicle in question. Mere own-use of motor vehicle by owner/borrower/permissive user does not entitle such person(s) to maintain S. 163-A petition against insurer of their own/borrowed vehicle. Owner/borrower/permissive users are not “third parties” in relation to their own/borrowed vehicle and hence are not covered by statutory insurance under S. 147. Thus, claim of owner/borrower/permissive user would be limited to personal accident coverage re own-use of the vehicle, if any, strictly as per contract of insurance covering the borrowed vehicle. [Ramkhiladi v. United India Insurance Co., (2020) 2 SCC 550]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Service Law — Appointment — Criteria for appointment: Requisite educational qualifications of the candidate need not be possessed in one certificate, and certificates obtained by candidate can be considered cumulatively. [Rajesh Kumar Dwivedi v. State of U.P., (2020) 2 SCC 167]

Service Law — Reservation/Concession/Exemption/Relaxation and Affirmative Action: Revised requisition dt. 20-8-2014 and OM dt. 12-10-2014 by State of U.P. notifying revised vacancies in different categories of a particular subordinate service was held valid since it was only intended to rectify wrongful calculation of number of vacancies in different categories and to comply with requisite percentage of quota of reservation in different categories as per 1994 Act. [Anupal Singh v. State of U.P., (2020) 2 SCC 173]

Rent Control and Eviction — Arrears of Rent/Default/Tender of Rent/Striking off Defence — Default in payment of rent — Disputed questions of fact: In this case, there was remand to Rent Controller to decide the disputed questions of fact based on evidence. The Supreme Court fixed provisional rent to be paid pending final disposal of proceedings by Rent Controller. Tenant also directed to furnish tangible security to Rent Controller, so that if case is decided against tenant, landlord does not have to run after him to collect money. [Espire Infolabs (P) Ltd. v. Sadhana Foundation, (2020) 2 SCC 214]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 228 — Framing of charge: At time of framing charges, only prima facie case is to be seen and whether case is beyond reasonable doubt, is not to be seen at such stage. Court has to see if there is sufficient ground for proceeding against accused. While evaluating materials, strict standard of proof is not required; only prima facie case against accused is to be seen. Judge is not required to record detailed reasons as to why such charge is framed. On perusal of record and hearing of parties, if Judge is of opinion that there is sufficient ground for presuming that accused has committed offence triable by Court of Session, he shall frame charge against accused for such offence. [Bhawna Bai v. Ghanshyam, (2020) 2 SCC 217]

Consumer Protection — Consumer/Consumer Dispute/Locus Standi — Subrogation/Assignment of Consumer Claims: Complaint filed by insurer as a subrogee of consumer, held, maintainable. Further held that the hotel-owner cannot contract out of liability for its negligence or that of its servants in respect of a vehicle of its guest in any circumstance and once possession of vehicle is handed to hotel staff or valet, there is an implied contractual obligation to return vehicle in a safe condition upon direction of owner. However, it would not be proper to impose a standard of strict liability upon hotel owners i.e. hotel cannot be made strictly liable for safety of vehicles, in all situations without proof of negligence on its part. Thus, in cases where such a bailment relationship is found to exist between hotel and its guest, prima facie liability rule should be applied in respect of vehicles so bailed to the hotel. [Taj Mahal Hotel v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 2 SCC 224]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 397 — Dacoity — Circumstantial evidence: In this case of dacoity, evidence as to alleged incriminating conduct of accused, was held not reliable and recovery of stolen articles was also found doubtful. The fingerprints report was not reliable and co-accused was granted acquittal. Hence, acquittal of appellant was restored. [Nagaraja v. State of Karnataka, (2020) 2 SCC 257]

Consumer Protection — Consumer/Consumer Dispute/Locus Standi — “Commercial purpose”: Law clarified regarding what is “commercial purpose”. The principles for determination of “commercial purpose, also summarized. Negative test that every transaction which does not fall within ambit of “earning livelihood by means of self-employment” would necessarily be for a commercial purpose, held, not the correct approach. Rather, correct approach is to see whether purchaser of goods and services, be it a commercial entity or not, has purchased the same for their own personal use and consumption or for the personal use and consumption of some other beneficiary, and such purchase does not have a close and direct nexus to ordinary profit-generating activities of the purchaser nor dominant intention or purpose of transaction was profit generation for the purchaser and/or their beneficiary. [Lilavati Kirtilal Mehta Medical Trust v. Unique Shanti Developers, (2020) 2 SCC 265]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 19 r/w S. 34: Non-granting of opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses is not a ground to set aside the award, when parties had agreed to such procedure. There is estoppel against challenging agreed upon procedure and raising contention of misconduct on part of arbitrator for having following agreed upon procedure. [Jagjeet Singh Lyallpuri v. Unitop Apartments & Builders Ltd., (2020) 2 SCC 279]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 228 and 227 — Framing of charge: Principles to be followed by court for framing of charge, summarized. There must be appreciation of material available on record at the stage of framing of charge. Grave suspicion, reiterated, is enough for framing of charges. [State (NCT of Delhi) v. Shiv Charan Bansal, (2020) 2 SCC 290]

Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 (1 of 1972) — S. 50 — Employees’ dues recoverable as arrears of land revenue — Non-priority of, over charge of secured creditor: Merely by virtue of being recoverable as arrears of land revenue, the employees’ dues, in respect of which a recovery certificate had been issued by the Industrial Court, cannot be treated as a paramount charge in terms of S. 169(1) of the Land Revenue Code and under S. 169(2) they would take precedence only over unsecured claims. [Maharashtra State Coop. Bank Ltd. v. Babulal Lade, (2020) 2 SCC 310]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 319 and 173 — Summoning a person as additional accused — Effect of protest petition not having been filed at S. 173 stage by complainant/informant: The fact that a protest petition had not been filed by appellant complainant when the report was submitted under S. 173 CrPC did not render court powerless to exercise its powers under S. 319 CrPC on the basis of evidence which had emerged during trial. The exercise of discretion by trial Judge to summon second respondent fulfilled the requirements of S. 319 CrPC and was consistent with the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court. Thus, order passed by trial Judge, allowing application and issuing summons to second respondent under S. 319 CrPC, restored. [Saeeda Khatoon Arshi v. State of U.P., (2020) 2 SCC 323]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Service Law — Pension — Work-Charged Employee: Period of work-charged service can be reckoned for purpose of computation of qualifying service for grant of pension. [Habib Khan v. State of Uttarakhand, (2019) 10 SCC 542]

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Laws — Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016 — Regn. 38 (as existing prior to amendment made on 5-10-2018): Differential treatment of dissenting financial creditor i.e. differential liquidation value that would be paid to dissenting financial creditors is permissible under unamended regulations. [Rahul Jain v. Rave Scans (P) Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 548]

Criminal Trial — Appreciation of Evidence — Contradictions, inconsistencies, exaggerations or embellishments — Minor discrepancies: Undue importance should not be attached to omissions, contradictions and discrepancies which do not go to the heart of the matter and do not shake the basic version of prosecution witness — This is particularly true when prosecution case is corroborated by medical and forensic evidence. [Rohtas v. State of Haryana, (2019) 10 SCC 554]

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 — Ss. 238-A and 7: Art. 137 of Limitation Act provides for a limitation period of 3 years, while Art. 62 of Limitation Act providing for limitation period of 12 years for recovery of debts secured with immovable property. Date of enforcement of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is irrelevant for computation of limitation period i.e. no new lease of life to be given to debts which are already time-barred. [Gaurav Hargovindbhai Dave v. Asset Reconstruction Co. (India) Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 572]

Administrative Law — Promissory Estoppel — Applicability — Nature and Scope — Invocation of the Doctrine — Principles summarized: Fundamental principles of equity must for ever be present to mind of court, while considering applicability of the doctrine. Doctrine must yield when equity so demands if it can be shown having regard to facts and circumstances of the case that it would be inequitable to hold the Government or the public authority to its promise, assurance or representation. Public interest is the superior equity which can override individual equity. Moreover, the doctrine of cannot be invoked for enforcement of a promise made contrary to law. [Union of India v. Unicorn Industries, (2019) 10 SCC 575]

M.P. Land Revenue Code, 1959 (20 of 1959) — S. 158(v)(b) — Bhumiswami rights — Tenability of claim as to: As the grassland under personal cultivation of erstwhile zamindar was not found to be khudkasht land of proprietor within meaning of S. 2(c) of M.B. Zamindari Abolition Act and not fulfilling essential conditions under S. 4(2), hence stood vested in the State under S. 4(1) thereof, claim of bhumiswami right, held untenable. [State of M.P. v. Sabal Singh, (2019) 10 SCC 595]

Constitution of India — Arts. 141 and 144: Judgment and order of the Supreme Court disposing of appeal against decision of High Court arising out of representative suit is final and binding on all concerned. All courts and civil and judicial authorities are required to act in aid thereof. [ISSAC Mattammel Cor-Episcopa v. St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, (2019) 10 SCC 606]

Town Planning — Parking Area — Infrastructure need, policy initiatives, pilot project and desired administrative action with regard to parking in Delhi: Directions issued with regard to — (a) Clearance of encroachments in pavements of residential areas and framing of rules for discouraging such encroachers, (b) expeditious notification of the draft rules of Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules, 2019 not later than 30-9-2019 and enforcement of same in letter and spirit by all concerned, (c) proper assessment of parking needs for next 25 yrs while granting building permissions, (d) considerations while evaluating feasibility and effectiveness of pilot project, (e) considering viability and effectiveness of introducing modern technology, that is, RFID tags, parking guidance and information systems and last mile connectivity from parking spaces to commercial areas, institutions, etc. and submit a report in this behalf by 30-9-2019. [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2019) 10 SCC 614]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 120-B and S. 302 — Criminal conspiracy — Existence of — Proof of — Essential elements summarized: Three essential elements must be shown: a criminal object, a plan or scheme embodying means to accomplish that object, and agreement between two or more persons to cooperate for accomplishment of such object. In this case, conspiracy to murder was not established against A-1 and A-5, but they were correctly convicted under Ss. 302/34. [Rajender v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2019) 10 SCC 623]

Constitution of India — Art. 235 — Powers of High Court of supervision of subordinate courts — Exercise of disciplinary powers — Scope:  High Court’s role as guardian and protector of District Judiciary in maintaining its independence, explained. Misconduct distinguished from mere passing of erroneous orders. Erroneous orders to form part of service record to determine career progression of judicial officer concerned, but cannot, held, by themselves be considered as misconduct, unless they are passed for extraneous reasons, illegal gratification, etc. [Krishna Prasad Verma v. State of Bihar, (2019) 10 SCC 640]

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 — Ss. 42 and 8/15 — Search and seizure: When seizure of material is proved on record and is not even doubted or disputed, entire contraband material need not be placed before court. At times the material could be so bulky, that it may not be possible and feasible to produce the entire bulk before the court. Further, if seizure is otherwise proved, what is required to be proved, is fact that samples taken from and out of contraband material were kept intact, that when samples were submitted for forensic examination seals were intact, that report of forensic experts shows potency, nature and quality of contraband material and that based on such material, essential ingredients constituting an offence are made out. [State of Rajasthan v. Sahi Ram, (2019) 10 SCC 649]

W.B. Premises Tenancy Act, 1997 (37 of 1997) — S. 7 — Scope and Nature of: S. 7(2), held, is mandatory in nature. Courts lack power to extend time where tenant defaults in payment of rent. S. 5 of Limitation Act, 1963 is not applicable to proceedings under S. 7(2). [Bijay Kumar Singh v. Amit Kumar Chamariya, (2019) 10 SCC 660]

Service Law — Pay — Pay scale, fixation and revision — Differentiation based on training — Classification based on academic qualifications and experience — Legality of: Nature of work may be more or less the same but scale of pay may vary based on academic qualification or experience which justifies classification. “Principle of equal pay for equal work” cannot be applied in mechanical manner. Classification made by body of experts after full study and analysis of work should not be disturbed except for strong reasons which indicate classification made to be unreasonable. Inequality of men in different groups excludes applicability of principle of equal pay for equal work to them. Hence, validity of lower pay scale for untrained teachers, affirmed. [Director of Elementary Education v. Pramod Kumar Sahoo, (2019) 10 SCC 674]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions — Appointment/Recruitment: As illegal appointment was made by Management of college concerned, denial of financial approval by State, held proper. [Ravindra Singh v. Distt. Inspector of Schools, (2019) 10 SCC 679]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Quashment power under: Minute consideration of evidence and defence put forth at S. 482 stage is not permissible. [CBI v. Arvind Khanna, (2019) 10 SCC 686]

Constitution of India — Arts. 226 and 136 — Writ of certiorari — Nature and scope — Principles summarized:  Writ of certiorari, held, is intended to correct jurisdictional excesses and the writ court cannot sit as appellate court and reappreciate evidence. [Electrical Rengali Hydro Electric Project v. Giridhari Sahu, (2019) 10 SCC 695]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 — S. 238-A (as inserted w.e.f. 6-6-2018) r/w Ss. 7 and 9 — Art. 137 of Limitation Act, 1963 — Applicability: Date of coming into force of IB Code does not and cannot form a trigger point of limitation for applications filed under the Code and since “applications” are petitions which are filed under the Code, it is Art. 137 of the Limitation Act which will apply to such applications. [Sagar Sharma v. Phoenix ARC (P) Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 353]

Constitution of India — Arts. 226 and 227 — Maintainability of writ petition — Alternative remedy/Exhaustion of remedies: In this case there was sale of immovable property belonging to deity, to appellant K, after following the procedure mandated by law (under Religious Endowments Act concerned). The Supreme Court held that the interference made by Division Bench of High Court in writ appeals considering the so-called lucrative offer made by R-4 and R-5 who were merely interveners, was not proper. [K. Arjun Das v. Commr. of Endowments, (2019) 10 SCC 355]

Service Law — Departmental Enquiry — Criminal proceedings — Acquittal: Law summarized regarding effect of acquittal in criminal proceedings on punishment imposed in departmental enquiry. [Karnataka Power Transmission Corpn. Ltd. v. C. Nagaraju, (2019) 10 SCC 367]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Quashment of proceedings: Where the allegations made in the FIR or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute a case against the accused, the High Court would be justified in quashing the proceedings. [M. Srikanth v. State of Telangana, (2019) 10 SCC 373]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions — Appointment/Recruitment — Recruitment process — Eligibility criteria: In this case in recruitment of teachers in Zila Parishads, in terms of advertisement, applicants were required to fulfil requisite eligibility before last date of submission of application form while in terms of proviso proof of eligibility could be submitted before declaration of result. While determining the effect of the amendment of the R. 266(3) of the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996, the Supreme Court held that the amendment which substitutes provision essentially does two things viz. firstly, provision which is substituted undergoes repeal and secondly, there is re-enactment through newly inserted provision. Further held, proviso being an integral part of cl. (3) of R. 266 it would not survive after substitution of R. 266(3). Thus candidates were required to possess stipulated educational qualifications on last date of submission of application form. Advertisement was thus, in consonance with statutory rules. Furthermore, Circular dt. 29-2-2012 extending benefit of proviso to candidates after changing conditions of advertisement related to advertisement issued in 2012 and would have no bearing on advertisement issued in this case in year 2013. Hence, High Court erred in extending benefit of proviso to respondent. [State of Rajasthan v. Trilok Ram, (2019) 10 SCC 383]

Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 (29 of 1950) — Ss. 2(13), 19 and 28: “Public trust” includes constructive public trust. Court’s jurisdiction to declare existence of constructive trust can be derived from S. 88 of Trust Act, 1882 and S. 151 CPC, notwithstanding repeal of S. 94 of Trusts Act, 1882. [Janardan Dagdu Khomane v. Eknath Bhiku Yadav, (2019) 10 SCC 395]

Limitation Act, 1963 — Ss. 5 and 14 — Condonation of delay: Factors to be considered for condonation of delay in application filed by State, delineated. [State of Manipur v. Koting Lamkang, (2019) 10 SCC 408]

U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 (1 of 1951) — Ss. 166, 167 and 161 [before and after amendment vide U.P. Act 20 of 1982 w.e.f. 3-6-1981]: Before Amendment, held, transfers illegal by virtue of S. 166 r/w S. 167 including exchange of land in violation of S. 161 i.e. exchange without permission of Assistant Collector, were only voidable as per procedure provided in 1950 Act. After Amendment, they are void and vest in State free of all encumbrances. [Sita Ram v. Bharat Singh, (2019) 10 SCC 412]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/34 and 201 — Death sentence — When justified: In this case, accused (tantric husband and wife) gruesomely murdered 2 yr old boy of their neighbour as human sacrifice to God. Head of boy was severed and tongue and cheeks were also cut out. Having regard to age of the accused, they were not possessed of the basic humanness, they completely lacked the psyche or mindset which can be amenable for any reformation. Furthermore, accused had previously committed similar murder of a six year old girl and were sentenced to life imprisonment till the end of their lives without remission in Ishwari Lal Yadav, (2019) 10 SCC 437. Thus, death sentence was confirmed. [Ishwari Lal Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 10 SCC 423]

Criminal Trial — Confession — Extra-judicial confession/Hearsay — Evidentiary value of: Extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence but, at the same time, if the same is corroborated by other evidence on record, such confession can be taken into consideration to prove guilt of accused. [Ishwari Lal Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 10 SCC 437]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 11 and 12 — Appointment of arbitrator: In this case though arbitration clause provided for Tribunal of three members, at the request of parties sole arbitrator was appointed. Clarification was issued on place of arbitration and remuneration. 12 months’ duration was provided for completion of proceedings. [Shaf Broadcast (P) Ltd. v. Doordarshan, (2019) 10 SCC 447]

Armed Forces — Penalty/Punishment — Subjective satisfaction of competent authority — Interference with — Scope — Principles explained: In this case, AFT despite noting that punishment of censure awarded by competent authority was justified interfering on specious ground that punishment of “Severe Displeasure (Recordable)” was not commensurate with misconduct proved. This was held to be not proper. [Union of India v. Kuldeep Yadav, (2019) 10 SCC 449]

Goa, Daman and Diu Land Revenue Code, 1968 (9 of 1969) — Ss. 32(2)(c), (3) & (6): Procedure laid down under, for levy of conversion charges, explained. While determining the effect of amendment to S. 32, it was held that relevant date for fixing conversion charges is date on which decision is taken to grant sanad. [State of Goa v. Alvaro Alberto Mousinho De Noronha Ferreira, (2019) 10 SCC 465]

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 — S. 50 — Object and applicability: Mandate of S. 50 is confined to “personal search” and not to search of vehicle or container or premises. Thus, illicit article seized from person during personal search conducted in violation of safeguards provided in S. 50, cannot by itself be used as admissible evidence of proof of unlawful possession of contraband. However, as held in Baldev Singh, (1999) 6 SCC 172, conviction may not be based “only” on basis of possession of illicit article recovered from personal search in violation of requirements under S. 50 but if there is other evidence on record, such material can certainly be looked into, including material recovered from search of vehicle or container or premises which was not in compliance with S. 50. [State of Punjab v. Baljinder Singh, (2019) 10 SCC 473]

Government Grants, Largesse, Public Property and Public Premises — Allotment without advertisement — Impermissibility of: Public property cannot be disposed of without any advertisement and without giving opportunity to eligible persons to apply and seek consideration of allotment of public property in transparent and non-discriminatory manner. State and its instrumentalities must act in consonance with Art. 14 of the Constitution. [Bihar State Housing Board v. Radha Ballabh Health Care & Research Institute (P) Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 483]

Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 — S. 15 — Jurisdiction of Tribunal — Scope: S. 15 confers wide power on Tribunal to allow appeal against conviction by court martial where finding of court martial is legally unsustainable i.e. where finding involves wrong decision on question of law or where there is material irregularity in course of trial resulting in miscarriage of justice. However, mere difference of opinion on appreciation of evidence cannot be a ground for interference. [Union of India v. Sandeep Kumar, (2019) 10 SCC 496]

Service Law — Pension — Work-Charged Employee — Service rendered as work-charged employee — Whether can be reckoned for computation of qualifying service: In terms of Note appended to R. 3(8) of the U.P. Retirement Benefit Rules, if service is rendered by work-charged employee in non-pensionable establishment, work-charged establishment, or, in post paid from contingencies falls between two periods of temporary service in pensionable establishment or period between temporary and permanent service in pensionable establishment, it would be counted as qualifying service for computation of pensionary benefits. Regn. 370 of the U.P. Civil Services Regulations exclude service in non-pensionable establishment, work-charged establishment and in post paid from contingencies from purview of qualifying service. Para 669 of Financial Handbook, Vol. VI relating to engagement of employees in work-charged establishment provide that except in cases mentioned thereunder members of work-charged establishment were not entitled to any pension, leave salary or allowances. Hence, in thid case, it was held that it would be highly discriminatory and irrational because of the rider contained in the Note to R. 3(8) of the 1961 Rules, not to count service rendered as work-charged employee particularly, when it can be counted, in case such service is sandwiched between two temporary or in-between temporary and permanent services. Impermissible classification has been made under R. 3(8). Service of work-charged period remains same for all employees and once it is counted for one class it must be counted for all to prevent discrimination. Reading down R. 3(8) to make it valid and non-discriminatory, service rendered as work-charged employees, contingency paid fund employees or non-pensionable establishment, held, shall also be counted as qualifying service even if such service is not preceded by temporary or regular appointment in pensionable establishment. Consequently, Regn. 370 and Para 669 are liable to be struck down. Service rendered in work-charged establishment directed to be treated as qualifying service for grant of pension. However, clarified that arrears of pension would be limited to three years before date of order.[Prem Singh v. State of U.P., (2019) 10 SCC 516]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Advocates — Strike/Boycott by Lawyers: Strike by Advocates of Odisha High Court over a decision of the Collegium clearing names of some candidate (who practises in Supreme Court) and not clearing name of another candidate, held, unwarranted and cannot be a ground for lawyers to abstain from work. [PLR Projects (P) Ltd. v. Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 306]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 16 — Scope of reference: Dismissal of counterclaims by arbitrator, at threshold on the ground of being beyond the scope and jurisdiction of arbitrator without any enquiry is not proper. Decision by arbitrator only on disputes raised by claimant/applicant under S. 11 and not counterclaims of the other party, not permissible. [Bharat Petroleum Corpn. Ltd. v. Go Airlines (India) Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 250]

Armed Forces — Discharge/Dismissal — Unsustainability — Violation of principles of natural justice and statutory rules: In this case, respondent was alleged to have caused grievous hurt to one S with talwar (sword) without provocation. There were irreconcilable inconsistencies between medical and oral evidence, and Tribunal took a probable view that evidence was not sufficient to establish guilt of respondent. Hence, held, impugned judgment setting aside punishment of dismissal called for no interference. [Union of India v. Pravat Kumar Behuria, (2019) 10 SCC 220]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 7 R. 11 — Rejection of plaint: Entirety of plaint averments have to be taken into consideration. Rejection of plaint without considering crucial aspects of case is not permissible. [Shaukathussain Mohammed Patel v. Khatunben Mohmmedbhai Polara, (2019) 10 SCC 226]

Constitution of India — Art. 137: In review of Azizia Bee, (2018) 15 SCC 206, in para 12 of judgment dt. 16-8-2017, (2018) 15 SCC 206, words “prima facie” added. It was clarified that the entire judgment of Single Judge stood affirmed and order of Division Bench was set aside. [State of A.P. v. Grace Sathyavathy Shashikant, (2019) 10 SCC 281]

Constitution of India — Art. 246, Sch. VII List I Entry 77, List II Entry 65 and List III Entry 46 & Arts. 138 and 323-B — Competence to deal with jurisdiction and powers of Supreme Court: Jurisdiction and powers of Supreme Court is beyond competence of State Legislature and such power rests only with Parliament. State Legislature cannot provide appeal directly to Supreme Court arising out of orders passed by Tribunals constituted under Art. 323-B. Consequently, S. 13(2) of Chhattisgarh Rent Control Act, 2011 providing appeal directly to Supreme Court against orders of Chhattisgarh Rent Control Tribunal, held, ultra vires and struck down. High Court can exercise supervisory jurisdiction under Art. 227 over such Tribunal. [H.S. Yadav v. Shakuntala Devi Parakh, (2019) 10 SCC 265]

Contract and Specific Relief — Contractual obligations and rights — Privity and Third-Parties’ Obligations and Rights — Partnership agreement: Clauses in agreement, against third parties i.e. legal representatives of partners will not bind the said third parties. Such clauses in partnership deed ran contrary to provisions of Partnership Act, 1932, were void, unenforceable and opposed to public policy. [S.P. Misra v. Mohd. Laiquddin Khan, (2019) 10 SCC 329]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Inherent powers of High Court under — When can be exercised: Exercise of inherent powers of High Court under this section to quash FIR, when there are serious triable allegations in complaint, not proper. [XYZ v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 10 SCC 337]

Criminal Trial — Sentence — Principles for sentencing — Tests for analysing sentencing: Crime test, criminal test and comparative proportionality test, explained. [State of M.P. v. Udham, (2019) 10 SCC 300]

Entertainment, Amusement, Leisure and Sports — Liquor — Licence/Levy —Cancellation/Suspension/Revocation of Licence: Grant of refund of licence fee and differential amount for the duration for which the premises of the licensee were sealed and its licence suspended, when such sealing/suspension is unlawful. Grant of opportunity/Issuance of show-cause notice to licensee is necessary prior to taking of punitive actions like cancellation/suspension of licence. [State of Bihar v. Riga Sugar Co. Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 310]

Family and Personal Laws — Hindu Law — Joint Family — Self-acquired Property: Proof of self-acquired Property lies on that member who admits joint family status but contends that some properties are self-acquired properties. Appearance of name in revenue record does not make property as self-acquired property. [Prahlad Pradhan v. Sonu Kumhar, (2019) 10 SCC 259]

Income Tax — Practice and procedure — Notice/Summons/Knowledge of Proceedings — Summons to power-of-attorney holder of Company of court hearing — Validity of — Power-of-attorney holder/agent of Company: The term “agent” [as used in S. 2(35) of the Income Tax Act, 1961] would certainly include a power-of-attorney holder and the CA being the power-of-attorney holder of the Company was the agent of the assessee Company, and hence notice could be served on him. Hence, plea as to the attorney-holder not being aware of the nature of documents (summons) served upon him and not being in the position to inform his principal because of his health, not accepted. [CIT v. NRA Iron & Steel (P) Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 206]

Maharashtra Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Denotified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Special Backward Category (Regulation of Issuance and Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2000 (23 of 2001) — S. 6(1): Issuance of caste verification certificate should not be a casual exercise and Scrutiny Committee constituted under the Act, by State Government by issuing Noti. dt. 30-7-2011 to deal with numerous applications of candidates seeking to contest local self-government elections, held, must take assistance of Vigilance Cell to ensure that non-entitled persons do not get benefitted at the cost of entitled persons. [Collector, Satara v. Mangesh Nivrutti Kashid, (2019) 10 SCC 166]

Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971 (28 of 1971) — Ss. 2(ga), 3-C, 3-D, 4, 12 and 36 [as they stood prior to 2018 Amendment] — Declaration of slum rehabilitation area: Notification under S. 4, held, not prerequisite for passing orders under Ss. 3-C and 3-D. Ch. I-A of Act is self-contained code for matters dealing with slum rehabilitation schemes. Prior notice under S. 3-C is not required before declaring any area as slum rehabilitation area. Principles of natural justice, also held, are not applicable where there is compliance with S. 36. [Kantabai Vasant Ahir v. Slum Rehabilitation Authority, (2019) 10 SCC 194]

Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 — Ss. 139 and 138 — Dishonour of cheque: In this case, there was sufficient evidence on record to raise presumption under S. 139 and accused failed to rebut the same, hence, conviction was confirmed. [Rahul Sudhakar Anantwar v. Shivkumar Kanhiyalal Shrivastav, (2019) 10 SCC 203]

Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 — Ss. 139, 118 and 138 — Dishonour of cheque — Burden of rebuttal of presumption under Ss. 118 and 139 — Matters to be established by accused — Law summarized: The presumption mandated by S. 139 does indeed include the existence of a legally enforceable debt or liability. Bare denial of the passing of the consideration and existence of debt, is not enough to rebut the presumption. To rebut the statutory presumptions an accused is not expected to prove his defence beyond reasonable doubt as is expected of the complainant in a criminal trial. Rather, something which is probable has to be brought on record for getting the burden of proof shifted to the complainant. To disprove the presumptions, the accused should bring on record such facts and circumstances, upon consideration of which, the court may either believe that the consideration and debt did not exist or their non-existence was so probable that a prudent man would under the circumstances of the case, act upon the plea that they did not exist. Apart from adducing direct evidence to prove that the consideration did not exist, or that he had not incurred any debt or liability, the accused may also rely upon circumstantial evidence and if the circumstances so relied upon are compelling, the burden may likewise shift again on to the complainant. Accused may also rely upon presumptions of fact, for instance, those mentioned in S. 114 of the Evidence Act to rebut the presumptions arising under Ss. 118 and 139 of the NI Act. [Uttam Ram v. Devinder Singh Hudan, (2019) 10 SCC 287]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 — Murder of wife — Circumstantial evidence — Death if suicidal by hanging, or, homicidal — Determination of — Medical evidence: In this case, fact that neck of deceased was not found stretched and elongated, considering that body was still fresh, ruled out any possibility of suicide by deceased.  The tongue was not protruding. There was no fracture or dislocation of bones in neck area. Saliva was not running down face or chest of deceased but had flowed out at the left of the mouth. Injuries on the person of deceased, as noticed in inquest report as also in post-mortem report, are clearly indicative of a struggle or resistance put up by deceased in the last hour. Hence, it was held that the deceased was strangulated to death as it would not also be possible for appellant to hang the deceased alone. Thus, in light of all the circumstances established against appellant, conviction under S. 302 IPC was confirmed. [Kalu v. State of M.P., (2019) 10 SCC 211]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 or S. 304 Pt. I [S. 300 Fourthly or Exception 4] — Murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder — Imminently dangerous act: In this case, incident in question took place half an hour after there was abusive language used by nephew/cousin of A-1. There was no grave and sudden provocation by deceased (mother of complainant). Accused fired from a country-made firearm at deceased from a close range. Accused was supposed to know that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death. The Supreme Court held that the High Court erred in applying Exception 4 to S. 300 IPC by holding that it was not a planned crime and there was no prior intention and it took place in the heat of passion on the spur of the moment. It was further held that the case falls under S. 300 Fourthly IPC and conviction under S. 302 IPC was restored. [Awadhesh Kumar v. State of U.P., (2019) 10 SCC 323]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 306 and 107 — Abetment to commit suicide — Ingredients for abetment — Instigation to commit suicide: A word uttered in the fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow cannot be said to be instigation. To draw the inference of instigation it all depends on facts and circumstances of the case. [State of W.B. v. Indrajit Kundu, (2019) 10 SCC 188]

Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 — S. 4 — Grant of probation under: Extension of benefit regarding retention/continuation of service is not permissible. Even in a case where the High Court grants benefit of probation to the accused, held, court has no jurisdiction to pass an order that the employee be retained in service/or grant benefit of continuation in service. [State of M.P. v. Man Singh, (2019) 10 SCC 161]

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 — S. 24(2) — Persons entitled to benefit of: Sale of land involved in acquisition proceedings after issuance of notification under S. 4, LA Act, 1894, is void. Hence, it does not give any right to subsequent purchasers to invoke provisions of S. 24(2) of 2013 Act. Even proviso to S. 24(2) does not recognise such purchasers. [Shiv Kumar v. Union of India, (2019) 10 SCC 229]

Service Law — Recruitment Process — Eligibility criteria/conditions — Cut-off date/point — Shifting of date of eligibility — What amounts to: In this case, for recruitment to State and Subordinate Services in State of Rajasthan, last date for submission of application forms stipulated was 31-7-2013. Press Note dt. 12-11-2014 was issued granting opportunity to candidates to make corrections in their online application form and change of category on payment of stipulated amount. While determining that this whether amounts to shift in date of eligibility, the Supreme Court held that the Press Note issued only allowed corrections or to change category in application forms already submitted online and did not grant opportunity to candidates to apply afresh. High Court erred in shifting eligibility date on basis of Press Note. [Rajasthan Public Service Commission v. Shikun Ram Firuda, (2019) 10 SCC 271]

Specific Relief Act, 1963 — Ss. 9 and 13 — Agreement to sell immovable property: Agreement to sell property inherited after death of female Hindu dying intestate must be restricted only to share inherited by executant. [Sirdar K.B. Ramachandra Raj Urs v. Sarah C. Urs, (2019) 10 SCC 343]

Tenancy and Land Laws — Ceiling on Land — Lands declared surplus — Identification of: In this case, to put an end to litigation, exercising power under Art. 142 of the Constitution, land at Survey No. 19/P marked in second survey report as “PQRS” declared as actually being Survey No. 129/45/D. The Supreme Court set aside the allotment made to Andhra Prabha Publications, and directed that land to be delivered by Andhra Prabha to appellants within eight weeks. All amounts paid by Andhra Prabha Publications to Government to be refunded within twelve weeks with simple interest at 6% p.a. [State of A.P. v. Grace Sathyavathy Shashikant, (2019) 10 SCC 276]

Trusts and Trustees — Religious and Charitable Endowments and Trusts — Temple — Private or public: In this case, suit was filed by deity through pujaris claiming ownership of temple lands on ground of temple being private temple. Name of deity consistently entered in revenue record from 1969 to 1977 but in year 1979-1980 correction in revenue entries made by substituting name of Collector in place of deity in respect of temple lands asserting temple to be public temple. First appellate court and High Court concurrently found that procedure prescribed under S. 115 of Code not complied with while making correction. In view of this concurrent finding, it was held that change in entry in revenue record in name of Collector vitiated by absence of proper enquiry and opportunity to affected person in terms of S. 115. [State of M.P. v. Murti Shri Chaturbhujnath, (2019) 10 SCC 319]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Education Law — Medical and Dental Colleges — Postgraduate/Superspeciality courses — Institutional reservation: Institutional preference in PG admissions after introduction of NEET scheme, held, valid. NEET scheme has nothing to do with institutional reservation. The purpose of NEET is uniform entrance examination so that admissions are made on the basis of merit. Even if there is an institutional preference, admissions are made on basis of marks obtained in NEET. [Yatinkumar Jasubhai Patel v. State of Gujarat(2019) 10 SCC 1]

Income Tax Act, 1961 — Ss. 143(2) and 142(1) r/w proviso to S. 143 — Notice/Notice of Demand: Mere mentioning of new address in return of income without specifically intimating assessing officer with respect to change of address and without getting PAN database changed, is not enough and sufficient. Thus, in absence of any specific intimation to assessing officer with respect to change in address and/or change in name of assessee, assessing officer would be justified in sending notice at available address mentioned in PAN database of assessee, more particularly when return has been filed under E-Module scheme. [CIT v. I-Ven Interactive Ltd.(2019) 10 SCC 13]

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 — S. 32 — Governmental educational institutions — Requirement of 5% reservation: Judicial review of the expert opinion regarding eligibility criteria of minimum physical fitness for certain courses like MBBS course, not permissible. [Vidhi Himmat Katariya v. State of Gujarat(2019) 10 SCC 20]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 386 and 374: In this case, the conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant-accused was upheld by High Court without record of the trial court, which was lost during pendency of appeal before it. Hence, the order passed by the High Court, was held unsustainable. The order was set aside and matter was remanded back to it for hearing appeals afresh, after reconstruction of record of the trial court. [Savita v. State of Delhi(2019) 10 SCC 29]

Arbitration — Government/PSUs Inter se disputes: The disputes between public sector undertakings (PSUs), must be referred, first to Administrative Mechanism for Resolution of CPSEs Disputes (AMRCD), and only in event of non-settlement, to Arbitral Tribunal. [MTNL v. Canara Bank(2019) 10 SCC 32]

Armed Forces — Promotion — Promotion to rank of Air Vice-Marshal — Promotion Policy dt. 20-2-2008 — Cls. 11, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 22 — Validity: In this case, appellant though ranking first in merit list was not promoted since he was placed at Sl. No. 3 in seniority list; first officer on select list being promoted on 11-5-2015 against first available vacancy whereas next two vacancies arising on 1-8-2015 and 1-9-2015 after appellant attaining age of superannuation on 30-6-2015. The Supreme Court held that in terms of Cls. 17 and 22 select list of officers was to be prepared from merit list and thereafter rearranged in order of seniority to ensure that candidates falling within zone of consideration were shortlisted for promotion but ultimate promotion was on basis of seniority from amongst selected candidates. Such policy providing equal opportunity to officers falling within zone of consideration cannot be said to be illegal, arbitrary or discriminatory violating Arts. 14 and 16 of the Constitution. It was further held that mere fact that appellant could not be promoted due to non availability of vacancies before his superannuation cannot be a ground to strike down Promotion Policy since policy can be struck down only if it has no reasonable nexus with objective sought to be achieved and is discriminatory. Policy dt. 20-2-2008 suffers from no illegality and hence, Tribunal was justified in not interfering therewith. [Naveen Jain v. Union of India(2019) 10 SCC 34]

Service Law — Promotion — Accelerated/Out of turn promotion — Reasonable classification: Higher educational qualification having nexus to job to be performed, held, can be a basis for exclusive or accelerated promotion since higher qualification intrinsically brings in certain skills. The factum to determine such nexus left to wisdom of administrative authorities. Grant of accelerated promotion on small percentage of posts, as in this case, thus, valid which could also act as incentive to others to acquire higher qualifications. [State of Uttarakhand v. S.K. Singh, (2019) 10 SCC 49]

Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 — S. 10 — Prohibition of employment of contract labour: In this case, the Notification dt. 8-9-1994 prohibiting employment of contract labour in different categories of work in ONGC, was quashed without impleading either ONGC Labour Union or any other recognised ONGC Union, hence the petition was restored. Since affected contract labourers were denied opportunity of hearing, writ petition directed to be restored for fresh consideration. [ONGC Labour Union v. ONGC, Dehradun, (2019) 10 SCC 67]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 — Ch. XIII (Ss. 177 to 210-D) — Provisions for punishment for road traffic and motor vehicle offences: Compatibility of provisions for punishment for road traffic and motor vehicle offences under Ch. XIII (Ss. 177 to 210-D), with related provisions of IPC (Ss. 279, 304 Pt. II, 304-A, 337 and 338), affirmed. It was held, prosecution is maintainable both under MV Act and IPC, which is not barred under S. 26 of General Clauses Act. Offences under Ch. XIII of MV Act cannot abrogate applicability of Ss. 297, 304, 304-A, 337 and 338 IPC. There is no conflict between two statutes as both operate in their own spheres. [State of Arunachal Pradesh v. Ramchandra Rabidas, (2019) 10 SCC 75]

T.N. Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992 (59 of 1992) — Ss. 7 and 14 — Civil suit for damages — Maintainability of: The T.N. Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992, along with Rules, provides for award of compensation in two ways: (i) at the end of trial for any offence punishable under Act, or to be paid out of the fine imposed upon accused which is similar to the power of criminal court to award compensation under S. 357 CrPC, (ii) upon an application as envisaged under S. 10, after a summary inquiry as envisaged under the Rules which is somewhat similar to the summary procedure envisaged under Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Further, S. 7 of the Act recognises the possibility of a civil suit being instituted subsequent to criminal proceedings under the Act, relating to the same matter and even the summary remedy of claiming compensation envisaged under S. 10 of the Act r/w the Rules, does not preclude the filing of a suit for damages — Furthermore, S. 14 provides that the Act is in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other law in force for the time being and permits an aggrieved person to approach civil court for relief if he so desires, instead of availing of the remedy envisaged under S. 10 of the Act. [M. Hariharasudhan v. R. Karmegam,(2019) 10 SCC 94]

Environment Law — Water/River/Coastal Pollution — Effluents, Sewage, River and Lake Pollution: Validity of imposition of “sewerage charges” by National Green Tribunal (NGT), on encroachment and dumping of building debris in riverbed/flood plain and natural water body of River Yamuna in Delhi, affirmed. Directions passed for implementation within two months by NCT of Delhi. [Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd. v. Manoj Misra, (2019) 10 SCC 104]

Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 — Ss. 1(3), 3, 2(9)(d), 56 and 86(1): Black Money Act, held, came into force w.e.f 1-4-2016 [i.e. as provided in S. 1(3)] and not retrospectively on 1-7-2015 as provided in Noti. dt. 1-7-2015. Noti. dt. 1-7-2015 providing that Black Money Act, shall come into force on 1-7-2015 i.e. the date on which the order was issued. There will be restricted application of the Notification i.e. only for the purpose of enabling the assessee(s) to take benefit of S. 59. [Union of India v. Gautam Khaitan(2019) 10 SCC 108]

Armed Forces — Promotion — Entitlement to — Navy Order (Spl.) 02/2009 — Cl. 65 — Retrospective application of the Navy Order (Spl.) 02/2009  — Permissibility: In this case it was held that though Navy Order (Spl.) 02/2009 should not have been made applicable for confidential report initiated prior to 1-1-2010, but no prejudice was caused to appellant by applying said order. The violation of every provision does not furnish ground for interference unless prejudice caused. Besides, no benefit would accrue to appellant even if CRs of 2006 and 2009 were taken into consideration since she could not have been promoted due to her comparative merit i.e. she was ranked 17th on 4-11-2009 (Chance I) and 10th on 4-2-2011 (Chance II). [Surgeon Rear Admiral Manisha Jaiprakash v. Union of India(2019) 10 SCC 115]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions — Appointment/Recruitment — Reservation of Seats/Quota/Exemption/Relaxation/Priority and Affirmative Action: In this case, under recruitment of Special Education Teachers under Government of NCT of Delhi, respondents obtained CTET qualification under relaxed pass norms for OBC category in States other than Delhi and eligibility for appointment was under Government of NCT of Delhi against OBC category. The Supreme Court held that since respondents did not possess OBC (Delhi) certificate they cannot be considered for recruitment against OBC category vacancies in Government of NCT of Delhi. Further held, they cannot be allowed to migrate and compete for open category vacancies since they had secured CTET qualification with relaxation of pass marks meant for OBC category. They can compete against unreserved vacancies provided they pass CTET with minimum qualifying marks stipulated for unreserved category candidates. Besides, OMS dt. 1-7-1998 and 4-4-2018 specifically stated that when relaxed standard was applied in selecting reserved category candidate, such candidates would be considered only against reserved vacancies. Moreover, concession in pass marks in qualifying exam would have direct impact on standards of competence and merit in recruitment of Special Education Teachers. It was emphasised that principles of reservation under the Constitution are intended to be confined to specifically earmarked category and unreserved category must be protected to avoid dilution of competence and merit. [State (NCT of Delhi) v. Pradeep Kumar(2019) 10 SCC 120]

Service Law — Police — Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) — Grant of status of organised Group A Central Services to Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) — Rights of IPS officers for deputation to CAPF — Effect on: In this case clarification of Supreme Court order dt. 5-2-2019, Union of India v. Sri Harananda, (2019) 14 SCC 126, was prayed. The said prayer was rejected and the Supreme Court held that the  rights of IPS officers for deputation in CAPF was not in issue before Supreme Court while rendering said judgment. Besides, in para 26 of the judgment it was specifically stated that by granting status of Organised Group A Central Services to CAPF, rights of IPS officers, if any, for their appointment on deputation to CAPF would remain unaffected. Hence, no further clarification was required. [Union of India v. Harananda(2019) 10 SCC 129]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions: While determining the issue of entitlement to regularisation/confirmation/absorption, there must be primacy of opinion of State Government regarding rendering of qualifying service. [Kisan Inter College v. State of U.P.(2019) 10 SCC 131]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 21 Rr. 35(3) and 25: The use of police force for delivery of possession without specific orders of court is not permissible.  [Om Parkash v. Amar Singh(2019) 10 SCC 136]

Stamp Act, 1899 — S. 35 — Impounding of agreement to sell for non-payment of stamp duty, after sale deed based thereon, on which entire stamp duty had been paid, stood cancelled by order of court — When inequitable: In this case, said sale deed had been cancelled by court as material facts had been concealed from court by vendor in suit for specific performance of said agreement to sell, in which vendee had succeeded, which had led to execution of the sale deed which was subsequently cancelled. Vendee’s bona fides were not in doubt at any time, sale deed stood cancelled due to no fault of vendee, and no attempt was made by vendee to obtain refund of stamp duty at any stage. It was held that in such circumstances, it would be highly inequitable to impound agreement to sell. Suit for specific performance of said agreement to sell which had been restored for trial afresh with a connected suit could proceed further in accordance with law. It was further held that finding has been affirmed that appellant-plaintiff entitled for refund of Rs 1,85,000 paid towards stamp duty. Appellant-plaintiff had always shown his bona fides. Once such finding has been affirmed, it is not open for respondent-defendants to raise plea that agreement to sell should be impounded. [Terai Tea Co. Ltd. v. Kumkum Mittal(2019) 10 SCC 142]

Companies Act, 1956 — S. 535 — Restoration of possession/exclusion of properties from winding up — Locus standi/Standing to challenge: Mortgagee of the leasehold/lessee’s interest does not have the locus standi to challenge restoration of possession of leased property in which lessee had mortgaged its interest (onerous property qua S. 535), to lessor pursuant to forfeiture of lease by lessor, in the absence of challenge by the mortgagor. [Stressed Assests Stabilization Fund v. W.B. Small Ind. Dev. Corpn. Ltd., (2019) 10 SCC 148]

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 — S. 2 — “Forest” — Determination of whether land in question is forest land — Matters to be considered: For determination of whether land in question is forest land, due weight has to be given to revenue records, especially those pertaining to a period when the dispute regarding the land being forest land did not exist. [Chandra Prakash Budakoti v. Union of India(2019) 10 SCC 154]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 34 and 37 — Award — Non-interference with, when findings of fact arrived at by arbitrators are on basis of evidence on record and not perverse — Concurrent view of courts below in proceedings under Ss. 34 and 37 — Effect of: In this case, Arbitral Tribunal arrived at finding that termination of contract by State was illegal and without following due procedure as required under contract and partly allowed claims of claimants while dismissing counterclaims of State. The Supreme Court held that findings were on appreciation of evidence considering relevant provisions and material on record as well as on interpretation of relevant provisions of the contract, which were neither perverse nor contrary to evidence on record. Further, cogent reasons had been given by Arbitral Tribunal qua respective claims. Thus, held, award was not required to be interfered with, particularly, when in the proceedings under Ss. 34 and 37 of Arbitration Act, petitioners had failed. [State of Jharkhand v. HSS Integrated SDN, (2019) 9 SCC 798]

Criminal Law — Criminal Trial — Medical Jurisprudence/Evidence — Asphyxia/Throttling/Strangulation/Hanging — Cause of death — Whether suicidal or homicide: In this case, medical opinion was that cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation, and it was the prosecution case that deceased had been strangled and then his body had been hanged from ceiling fan. The surrounding factors were that feet of hanging dead body were touching the floor; knees were bent; slippers were not removed; and room in question was wide open. As alleged by accused, as per medical jurisprudence, scratches, abrasions, bruises, etc. are usually present and hyoid bone would be usually found broken in case of strangulation but, in the present case, there being no such marks nor hyoid bone was broken, hence, it was not a case of strangulation. The Supreme Court held that there was no infirmity in findings of courts below that it was a case of strangulation, as could be seen from post-mortem report that dead body carried “well-defined depressed ligature mark measuring 3 cm wide seen encircling the neck around thyroid cartilage with a knot present on left side of neck and this ligature mark was ante-mortem in nature”. Other ligature mark on the neck was 1.5 cm wide and that was post-mortem in nature. The board had undoubtedly been of the opinion that cause of death was “asphyxia due to strangulation”. With such categorical medical opinion coupled with all relevant features surrounding suspended dead body in the room in question, it is difficult to say that it had been a case of suicide merely because hyoid bone was not broken or because marks of resistance like abrasions/scratches were not reported. Presence of marks of resistance would depend on a variety of factors, including the method and manner of execution of the act of strangulation by culprits; and mere want of such marks cannot be decisive of the matter. Equally, it is not laid down as an absolute rule in medical jurisprudence that in all cases of strangulation, hyoid bone would invariably be fractured. On the contrary, medical jurisprudence suggests that only in a fraction of such cases, a fracture of hyoid bone is found. In other words, absence of fracture of hyoid bone would not lead to conclusion that deceased did not die of strangulation. Hence, deceased was done to death by strangulation and thereafter, his dead body was hanged from ceiling fan in the room. [Gargi v. State of Haryana, (2019) 9 SCC 738]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 319: The principles for exercise of power under the section, summarized. It was also held that the issuance of summons under S. 319 in absence of prima facie case of the standard as laid down in Hardeep Singh, (2014) 3 SCC 92, not permissible. [Mani Pushpak Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand, (2019) 9 SCC 805]

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 — S. 238 r/w S. 9 — Prior consent of the Central Government as provided under S. 16-G(1)(c) of Tea Act qua winding up/liquidation proceedings — Non-requirement of, for initiation of proceedings under S. 9 IBC: Provisions of IBC, held, have overriding effect over Tea Act, 1953 S. 16-G(1)(c) refers to consent qua proceeding for winding up of company or for appointment of receiver while proceedings under S. 9 IBC are not be limited and/or restricted to winding up and/or appointment of receiver only and the winding up/liquidation of company is to be last resort and only on an eventuality when corporate insolvency resolution process fails. Further, primary focus of legislation while enacting IBC is to ensure revival and continuation of corporate debtor by protecting corporate debtor from its own management and from a corporate debt by liquidation and such corporate insolvency resolution process is to be completed in a time-bound manner. Therefore, entire “corporate insolvency resolution process” as such cannot be equated with “winding-up proceedings”. Further, S. 238 IBC, which is a subsequent Act to Tea Act, 1953, is applicable and the provisions of IBC shall have an overriding effect over Tea Act, 1953. Thus, held, that no prior consent of Central Government before initiation of the proceedings under S. 7 or S. 9 IBC would be required and even without such consent of Central Government, the insolvency proceedings under S. 7 or S. 9 IBC initiated by operational creditor shall be maintainable. [Duncans Industries Ltd. v. AJ Agrochem, (2019) 9 SCC 725]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302, 376, 376-A and 201 — Death sentence — Cases involving rape and murder of minors/children but based on circumstantial evidence: Death sentence, held, can be awarded in appropriate cases. The act that case is based on circumstantial evidence cannot by itself be a ground for not awarding death sentence. Victims owing to their tender age can put up no resistance. Thus, it is likely that there would be no ocular evidence. Not awarding death sentence for lack of ocular evidence even if case proved beyond reasonable doubt, and if case satisfies all requirements for award of death sentence, is not a correct approach. Such reasoning, if applied uniformly and mechanically will have devastating effects on society which is dominant stakeholder in the administration of our criminal justice system. [Ravishankar v. State of M.P., (2019) 9 SCC 689]

Punjab State Agricultural Marketing Board (Sale and Transfer of Plots) Rules, 1999 (as first amended in 2008) — Rr. 3(iii), 3(iii-a) and 3(iv): The imposition of conditions for allotment of shop/plots therein, held, not ultra vires the Constitution. The view that licence is mandatory to carry out business in agricultural market, emphasised. Gap of more than 3 months in expiry of old licence and issuance of new licence cannot be condoned by Market Committee or Market Board unless satisfactory explanation offered by dealer that reasons were beyond his control; then even though he may not be in strict compliance with the Rules, power of relaxation must be read into Rules. [Walaiti Ram Charan Dass v. State of Punjab, (2019) 9 SCC 779]

Service Law — Policy/Policy decision/Policy matter — Rehabilitation policy: Assurance to reserve 25% of future daily wage employment vacancies which would arise in respondent State Corporation for displaced abkari workers who were members of the Abkari Workers Welfare Fund Board and whose services were terminated due to the ban of arrack in the State, held, did not create a vested right of re-employment. [Kerala State Beverages (M&M) Corpn. Ltd. v. P.P. Suresh, (2019) 9 SCC 710]

 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 — S. 20-A(1) — Applicability when offences are under TADA as well as other statutes — Scope of: Whether police may record information and start investigation as to other offences without waiting to record information in respect of TADA offences, held, depends upon facts of each case. If offences under other Acts are serious like murder, rape, smuggling, NDPS Act, POCSO Act offence(s), etc., investigation cannot be delayed only because TADA Act is involved but if offence(s) under other statutes are of the nature of an ancillary offence, then information cannot be recorded without complying with S. 20-A(1) of TADA. [Ebha Arjun Jadeja v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 9 SCC 789]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 or S. 304 Pt. I [S. 300 Thirdly] — Murder or culpable homicide — Injury if sufficient in ordinary course of nature to cause death — Medical evidence: In this case, there were inconsistencies regarding whether head injury (the fatal injury) was inflicted by accused. The deceased died next day of the incident. Giving benefit of doubt to accused, regarding sufficiency of injury to cause death in ordinary course of nature, conviction was altered from S. 302 IPC to S. 304 Pt. I IPC. [Satish Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2019) 9 SCC 529]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 22 R. 10 or Or. 1 R. 10 — Impleadment of transferee/assignee of rights and interest in suit property challenging sale of suit property to another, as plaintiff — Entitlement to: In this case, suit was filed by landowner against his power-of-attorney holder and appellants, challenging sale of land by former in favour of latter on ground that former had not been conferred power to sell. R-1 purchased suit land from plaintiff owner by execution of registered sale deed. After death of original plaintiff, R-1 filed application under Or. 1 R. 10 for impleading himself as plaintiff 2 in suit pending in trial court, alleging that LRs of original plaintiff i.e. R-2 (A to D) were trying to occupy suit land in collusion with appellants. Thereafter, LRs of original plaintiff executed registered declaration deed in favour of appellants confirming sale deed in their favour. Subsequently, pursuant to a settlement between LRs of original plaintiff and appellants, LRs filed memo/application (pursis) for unconditional withdrawal of suit. The Supreme Court held that  R-1 as assignee of rights and interest of original plaintiff and having vital interest in suit, was entitled to be impleaded in suit under Or. 22 R. 10, instead of Or. 1 R. 10. Mentioning of incorrect provision no impediment when court has power to pass appropriate order. [Pruthvirajsinh Nodhubha Jadeja v. Jayeshkumar Chhakaddas Shah, (2019) 9 SCC 533]

Constitution of India — Art. 227 — Maintainability — Alternative remedy/Exhaustion of remedies: Availability of remedy under CPC in cases of suits/proceedings before civil courts is near total bar to exercise of supervisory jurisdiction under Art. 227. [Virudhunagar Hindu Nadargal Dharma Paribalana Sabai v. Tuticorin Educational Society, (2019) 9 SCC 538]

Rent Control and Eviction — Eviction Suit/Trial: In this case repeated adjournments were taken by respondent tenant. The prescribed authority passed ex parte order of eviction against respondent tenant. Time-bound expeditious disposal of the order was directed by the Court. [Krishna Devi Maheshwari v. Surendra Surekha, (2019) 9 SCC 547]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/149, 323/149 and 147 — Murder — Eyewitness: In this case injury report of the related injured witnesses was absent. It was held that the infirmities which were pointed out were at best defects in investigation and did not raise doubts about credibility of related injured witnesses or the prosecution case as a whole, hence, conviction was confirmed. [Fainul Khan v. State Of Jharkhand, (2019) 9 SCC 549]

Service Law — Appointment — Compassionate appointment: In terms of Regn. 4(3) of the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation Compassionate Appointment Regulations, 2010  claim for both compassionate appointment and compensation cannot be made against appellant SRTC in case of death of employee occurring while travelling in vehicle of appellant Corporation. The dependants of employee who claim both compensation under MV Act and compassionate appointment from appellant-Corporation are not on same footing as dependants of deceased employee who claim under MV Act against private owner or insurance company, and compassionate appointment from appellant-Corporation, thus forming a separate class. Art. 14 forbids class legislation but does not forbid reasonable classification for purpose of legislation. Besides, intention of Regn. 4(3) is to obviate liability of Corporation from payment of compensation under Act and to provide compassionate appointment to same person. Thus, there is rational nexus between basis of classification and object sought to be achieved. Hence, Regn. 4(3) is valid. [Rajasthan SRTC v. Danish Khan, (2019) 9 SCC 558]

Customs Act, 1962 — Ss. 130-E and 130 — Appeal before Supreme Court — When maintainable: Appeal qua violation of conditions of exemption notification by assessee is maintainable only before High Court. Upon a conjoint reading of Ss. 130 and 130-E, it can be seen that an appeal shall lie to High Court against every order passed in appeal by the Appellate Tribunal, if the High Court is satisfied that the case involves a substantial question of law. An appeal is maintainable before Supreme Court only if any question having relation to the rate of duty is involved or if it relates to value of goods for the purpose of assessment. [Commr. of Customs v. Motorola (India) Ltd., (2019) 9 SCC 563]

Town Planning — Colonisation/Development Project: In this case, there were hindrances in completion/full implementation of colonisation scheme due to negligence of coloniser in paying licence fee as required under scheme, and various other disputes between allottees and colonizer. Arbitrator designated as Court-Appointed Committee and clarifications and directions issued for full implementation of the scheme. It was clarified that arbitrator appointed by Court shall function as a Court-Appointed Committee and not as an arbitrator appointed under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. [Okhla Enclave Plot Holders’ Welfare Assn. v. Union of (India), (2019) 9 SCC 572]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 498-A, 114 and 323: In this case, cruelty and physical assault of deceased was alleged against father-in-law, appellant (A-1) and brother-in-law (A-3), and cruelty alone against sister-in-law and mother-in-law (A-4 and A-5). All relatives of husband other than appellant father-in-law were acquitted. It was held that evidence against father-in-law is also not sufficient to uphold his conviction alone, hence, he was acquitted. [Kantilal v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 9 SCC 603]

Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 — S. 138 — Dishonour of cheque — Death of convicted accused — Liability of legal heirs in such case, if any: Legal heirs, in such case, are neither liable to pay fine nor to undergo imprisonment. However, they have right to challenge conviction of their predecessor, only for the purpose, that he was not guilty of any offence. [M. Abbas Haji v. T.N. Channakeshava, (2019) 9 SCC 606]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 375 & Expln. 2 thereunder and S. 90 — Meaning of “consent” with respect to S. 375: “Consent” with respect to S. 375 involves an active understanding of circumstances, actions and consequences of proposed act. Individual who makes a reasoned choice to act after evaluating various alternative actions (or inaction) as well as various possible consequences flowing from such action or inaction, consents to such action. Where a woman does not “consent” to sexual acts described in main body of S. 375, offence of rape has occurred. While S. 90 IPC does not define term “consent”, “consent” based on a “misconception of fact” is not consent in the eye of law. Thus, in case of woman engaging in sexual relations on false promise to marriage, her “consent” is based on “misconception of fact”, and such sexual act(s) will amount to rape. [Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State Of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 608]

Criminal Trial — Sentence — Death sentence — Parliament as repository of will of the people: Legislature has distanced itself from propounders of “No-Death Sentence” in “No Circumstances” theory as recently in 2019. Significantly, by 2019 Amendment of S. 6, POCSO Act, 2012, death sentence has been introduced as a penalty for offence of aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child below 12 yrs. If Parliament, armed with adequate facts and figures, has decided to introduce capital punishment for the offence of sexual abuse of a child, in 2019, the court hitherto will bear in mind the latest Legislative Policy even though it has no applicability in a case where the offence was committed prior thereto. Judicial precedents rendered before this recent amendment of 2019 came into force, therefore, ought to be viewed with a purposive approach so that the legislative and judicial approaches are well harmonised.  [Ravi v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 622]

Armed Forces — Disability Pension — Requirements for entitlement to — Absence of disability or disease noted at time of enrolment: There can be no mechanical application of principle that any disorder not mentioned at time of enrolment is presumed to be attributed or aggravated by military service. Question is whether because of being posted in harsh and adverse conditions, military personnel suffered disability. Further held, Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pensioners Awards, 1982, themselves provide that certain diseases ordinarily escape detection at time of physical examination which have intervals of normalcy unless adequate history is given. Hence, mere fact that schizophrenia was not detected at time of enrolment would not lead to presumption that disease was aggravated or attributable to military service. Each case has to be decided on its own merit on parameters whether duties assigned to individual led to stress and strain leading to psychosis and psychoneurosis. [Narsingh Yadav v. Union of India, (2019) 9 SCC 667]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 403, 406, 420 and 506-B — Cheating — Breach of trust: Where there exists a fraudulent and dishonest intention at time of commission of offence, as appeared to be the case in this case, accused having agreed to sell lands to victim, which had been sold prior to agreement between accused and victim, etc., law permits victim to proceed against wrongdoer for having committed an offence of criminal breach of trust or cheating. [Lakshman v. State Of Karnataka, (2019) 9 SCC 677]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/149 and 148 — Murder: In this case, eyewitness account was belied by medical evidence. There was unnatural conduct of related eyewitnesses and evidence linking recovered firearms and vehicle allegedly used in offence, to accused was also absent. Hence, reversal of conviction, confirmed. [Prem Singh v. Sukhdev Singh, (2019) 9 SCC 683]

National Highways Act, 1956 — Ss. 3-G(5) & (6) — Compensation — Determination of: Madishetti Bala Ramul, (2007) 9 SCC 650 is not applicable to matters governed by NH Act, 1956. If amount determined by competent authority under the 1956 Act is not acceptable to either party, they may apply to Central Government to appoint arbitrator to determine the same. [Union of India v. Balwant Singh, (2019) 9 SCC 687]

Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Property Law — Adverse Possession — Meaning, nature and ingredients of, reiterated — Necessary factors to be proved for claim of adverse possession: Person pleading adverse possession has no equities in his favour as he is trying to defeat rights of true owner, hence, it is for him to clearly plead and establish all facts necessary to establish adverse possession. [Brijesh Kumar v. Shardabai, (2019) 9 SCC 369]

Armed Forces — Pension — Entitlement to in promotional time-scale in supersession of Army order: In this case, appellant who was granted pension as Major on being granted substantive rank of Lieutenant Colonel sought revision of pension applicable to that post. He fell short of 30 days for completing reckonable service of 21 yrs for grant of pension as Lieutenant Colonel in terms of Army Order dt. 20-3-1990. Name of appellant figured in list whereby competent authority vide Order dt. 15-10-1991 approved promotion of officers to substantive rank of Lieutenant Colonel by time-scale. Hence, it was held that appellant was entitled to pension of Lieutenant Colonel (TS). Reliance placed on Army Order dt. 20-3-1990 was of no avail in view of Order dt. 15-10-1991. Further costs amounting to Rs 50,000 was also imposed for exposing appellant to avoidable litigation considering that he retired in the year 1991 and was made to run from pillar to post for getting his rightful pension. [Bobby Joseph v. Union of India, (2019) 9 SCC 375]

Service Law — Pension — Cut-off date/point — Cut-off date for exercising option for pension — Extension of — Whether permissible: Ordinarily option should be exercised within last date of prescribed cut-off. However, in this case, considering long period of service rendered by respondent and keeping in view exceptional circumstance i.e. respondent was abroad during relevant time and returned only after cut-off date, it was held that no interference with impugned judgment directing appellant Bank to accept respondent’s option after cut-off date was called for. It was clarified that said direction was issued in exceptional circumstance and was not to be treated as precedent. Respondent was directed to return PF contribution already paid to him with interest @ 6% p.a. from date of VRS i.e. 16-1-2001 till cut-off date i.e. 25-10-2010. It was further clarified that respondent entitled to pension only from date of order of Single Judge i.e. 4-9-2015 and no interest on said amount could be claimed. [Oriental Bank of Commerce v. Janak Raj Sharma, (2019) 9 SCC 378]

Specific Relief Act, 1963 — Ss. 16(c) and 28 — Specific performance of agreement — Grant of — Readiness and willingness — Principles summarized: Readiness is capacity for discharge of obligations with regard to payment. Plaintiff must demonstrate readiness and willingness throughout to perform his obligations. For ascertaining readiness and willingness, conduct of parties must be determined having regard to entire attending circumstances of each case. Bare averment in plaint or statement made in examination-in-chief is not sufficient. Conduct of plaintiff must be judged having regard to entirety of pleadings and evidence brought on record. Failure to deposit within time fixed by court is indicative of incapacity of plaintiff to perform his obligations. Time can be extended to deposit balance consideration but mere extension of time to deposit does not absolve plaintiff of his obligation to demonstrate readiness and willingness coupled with special circumstances beyond his control to seek extension. For seeking extension of time for deposit of balance consideration sufficient, substantial and cogent grounds must be pleaded. Otherwise, it becomes question of his conduct along with all other attendant surrounding circumstances in facts of case. Merely because suit is filed within prescribed period of limitation does not absolve plaintiff from showing as to whether he was ready and willing to perform his part of agreement. If there was non-performance, the question would be whether that obstacle was put by seller or otherwise. The provisions to grant specific performance are quite stringent. Equitable considerations come into play. Court has to see all attendant circumstances including if plaintiff conducted himself in reasonable manner under agreement. [Ravi Setia v. Madan Lal, (2019) 9 SCC 381]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 — Death sentence — Imposition of, in cases based on circumstantial evidence — Law summarized: In cases based on circumstantial evidence, though concept of residual doubt is not given much importance in Indian capital sentencing, Court has stressed on higher quality of evidence for imposition of death sentence in a number of cases, and has applied doctrine of prudence for this, which only reflects the principle laid down in Bachan Singh, (1980) 2 SCC 684, that is, while awarding death sentence, alternative option i.e. imposition of life imprisonment must be unquestionably foreclosed — Irrevocable punishment of death must only be imposed when there is no other alternative, and in cases resting on circumstantial evidence, the doctrine of prudence should be invoked. This case involving murder of four children aged 10 months to 10 yrs and wife, by strangulation and throwing them in village pond, is a case based on circumstantial evidence. Imposition of life imprisonment in present case was not unquestionably foreclosed and there was a reasonable probability that death sentence could have been set aside if errors apparent on face of record would not have occurred. However, reports indicated that conduct of petitioner in jail was unsatisfactory and he was a menace to society, thus, life imprisonment simpliciter, inadequate. Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment for entire life without remission. [Sudam v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 388]

Criminal Law — Criminal Trial — Sentence — Death sentence — Review petition against death sentence: In this case reopening of review petition after dismissal of curative petition, permitted, in view of law laid down and liberty granted in Mohd. Arif, (2014) 9 SCC 737. [Mohd. Arif v. Supreme Court of India, (2019) 9 SCC 404]

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 — Ss. 13 and 13-B — Divorce — Irretrievable breakdown of marriage — Exercise of power by Supreme Court under Art. 142 of the Constitution, to dissolve marriage in such cases: There is no necessity of consent by both parties, for exercise of powers under Art. 142 of the Constitution to dissolve marriage on ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. Where neither grounds specified under S. 13 for divorce established nor mutual consent between parties as per S. 13-B exists (wife being unwilling for divorce in this case) and all efforts to save marriage failed, Supreme Court, considering facts and circumstances of the case on being satisfied that marriage has irretrievably broken down, can dissolve such marital relationship which is already dead, with a view to do complete justice between parties in exercise of power under Art. 142 of the Constitution. [R. Srinivas Kumar v. R. Shametha, (2019) 9 SCC 409]

Land Acquisition Act, 1894 — Ss. 11, 12 and 13-A — Review of award after it attained finality — Impermissibility of — Review — When permissible — Principles summarized: There is no provision under LA Act, 1894 for review of award once passed under S. 11, and which has attained finality. S. 13-A is not provision for review of award. It is only for correction of clerical or arithmetical mistakes in award. As per S. 13-A(1), such corrections can be made any time, but not later than six months from date of award. Review is not inherent power. It can be exercised only when statute provides for the same expressly/ specifically or by necessary implication. In absence of any such provision in statute concerned, power of review cannot be exercised in case of judicial/quasi-judicial orders. Exercise of power of review in absence of express provision would be ultra vires, illegal and without jurisdiction. [Naresh Kumar v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2019) 9 SCC 416]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 120-B, 467 and 467 r/w Ss. 471, 420 and 477-A: To prove conspiracy to obtain loan against pledge of jewels, without actually pledging any jewel(s), it is required to establish dishonest intention on the part of appellant loanees. It was held that there was no evidence on record that appellant loanees MR and NR were ever aware that loan in question i.e. agricultural jewel loan could be sanctioned only after jewels were pledged. There was no evidence in respect of dishonesty/misuse in obtaining the loan without furnishing any security, hence, conviction of appellant loanees MR and NR, set aside. However, conviction of Branch Manager, A-1, who had illegally sanctioned the said loans without pledging of any jewels, confirmed. [M. Ramalingam v. State, (2019) 9 SCC 421]

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 — Ss. 2(i-a), 13 and 16 — Marginal deviation from prescribed standards — Acquittal based thereon — Impermissibility of — Strict adherence with prescribed standards: Food article failing to comply with standards but not injurious to health needs to be treated as adulterated food. In this case conviction for milk adulteration with marginal deviation, confirmed. Further held that minimum sentence prescribed by statute cannot be commuted by exercise of power under Art. 142 of the Constitution or otherwise. It was held that once standards are laid down by legislature then those standards have to be followed. In items like milk which is primary food under Act, it is not necessary to also prove that food item became unfit for human consumption or injurious to health. In cases of food coming under Act, it is not required to prove that food article was injurious to health. Where food article fails to comply with standards then it has to be treated as adulterated article even if it is not rendered injurious to health. Act does not make distinction between cases coming under it on basis of degree of adulteration. It does not provide for aggravation of offence based on extent of contamination. Offence and punishment are same whether adulteration is great or small. Food pollution, even if it be only to slightest extent if continued in practice, would adversely affect health of every man, woman and child. Hence, even marginal or border line variation of prescribed standards under Act is matters of serious concern for all. Act does not provide for exemption of marginal or border line variations of standard from operation of Act. In such circumstances to condone such variations on ground that they are negligible is virtually to alter standard itself fixed under Act. When standard has been fixed under Act for food article, it has to be observed in every detail. If standards are not complied with court not justified in acquitting accused only on ground that deficiency is marginal. [Raj Kumar v. State of U.P., (2019) 9 SCC 427]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 34(3) and 37: S. 14 of Limitation Act is applicable to application submitted under S. 34 of 1996 Act seeking exclusion of certain period, if application under S. 34 of 1996 Act is at the first instance filed within limitation period provided under S. 34(3). However, S. 5 of Limitation Act is not applicable to condone delay beyond the statutory period under S. 34(3) of 1996 Act. [Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Tejparas Associates & Exports (P) Ltd., (2019) 9 SCC 435]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions — Termination/Removal/Dismissal — Termination of Service — Judicial Review/Interference by Court/Validity: In this case there was prayer for condoning delay of 2 yrs, 10 months and 14 days in challenging oral order of termination dt. 30-11-2013. As appellant was in repeated correspondence with respondent Institution between 30-11-2013 and 4-11-2016, delay was held liable to be condoned. [Balkrishna Waman Zambare v. Siddheshwar Shikshan Sanstha, (2019) 9 SCC 446]

Education Law — Reservation of Seats/Quota/Exemption/Priority/Affirmative Action/Reverse Discrimination — Judicial review/validity/Relief — Abuse of process/fraud on court: In this case, the prayer for redoing entire admission process of MBBS under Sports quota, was rejected as appellants approached Court belatedly, had not challenged provisional admissions even though opportunity therefor was given and suppressed material facts that all students including appellant, R-1 and R-5 had secured admissions in various medical colleges. Further, appellant had not impleaded necessary parties in writ petition before Singe Judge on which ground alone his writ petition before High Court should have been rejected. Though appellant was not issued any notice and was not heard before Division Bench which reversed decision of Single Judge of High Court. Further, amongst candidates of Sports quota, appellant had secured lowest marks. As entire case of appellant was an afterthought and wholly based on speculation, appeals were dismissed. Interim order, which had been obtained by appellant by suppressing material facts, vacated and order of Division Bench was affirmed. [Jyothir R. v. Sunisha N.S., (2019) 9 SCC 449]

Factories Act, 1948 — Ss. 37, 38 and 92 — Violation of — Relief: In this case, the Supreme Court itself imposed a sentence at pre-trial stage where accused pleaded guilty considering peculiarity of facts and exceptional circumstances. However, it was clarified that this decision would not serve as a precedent. [Subir Bose v. Inspector of Factories, (2019) 9 SCC 454]

Constitution of India — Art. 30 — Minority institutions: Minority institutions were permitted to fill up 85% of their total seats, with students belonging to minority community, as management quota by G.O. of State Government. Validity of steps by State Government (vide impugned government orders) to combat admissions on basis of false conversions and to tackle problem of vacant seats in minority institutions on basis of statistical data, affirmed. [Andhra Kesari College of Education v. State of A.P., (2019) 9 SCC 457]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Ss. 34, 34(5) and (6) (as added w.e.f. 23-10-2015) — Proceedings under S. 34:  Proceedings under S. 34  are summary in nature and limited in scope. Effect of insertion of Ss. 34(5) and (6), following Emkay Global, (2018) 9 SCC 49, held, is that permission to file affidavit by way of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses, is grantable only when absolutely necessary, in exceptional cases, and not as a matter of course. Ruling in Fiza Developers, (2009) 17 SCC 796, thus, stands limited to that extent. R. 4(b) of the Karnataka High Court Arbitration Rules, 2001, providing for application of Civil Procedure Code to arbitration proceedings, does not tantamount to wholesale or automatic import of all the provisions of Civil Procedure Code into the proceedings under S. 34. [Canara Nidhi Ltd. v. M. Shashikala, (2019) 9 SCC 462]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — Or. 34 Rr. 1, 7 & 8, Or. 1 Rr. 3 & 4 and Ss. 96 and 100 — Redemption decree — Locus standi/Standing to challenge: Tenant/Lessee of mortgagor/mortgagee, held, does not have locus standi/standing to challenge redemption decree. Tenants, held, remain tenants whoever be the landlord/owner. Appeal by tenant against judgment of trial court decreeing suit for recovery of possession/redemption of mortgage filed by plaintiff owner against mortgagee is not maintainable in absence of challenge to same by mortgagee himself of whom they claimed to be tenants. [Mohan Chandra Tamta v. Ali Ahmad, (2019) 9 SCC 471]

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 — S. 100 — Findings of fact — Interference with, in second appeal: For interference with Findings of fact in second appeal, it is necessary to consider matter in detail and materials on record by second appellate court. [Murtaza Jahan v. Mohan Chandra Tamta, (2019) 9 SCC 475]

Rent Control and Eviction — Arrears of Rent/Default/Tender of Rent/Striking off Defence — Striking off defence: Power vested under S. 15(7) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, is discretionary and not mandatory and depends on contumacious or deliberate default and must be construed harmoniously so as to balance rights and obligations of tenant and landlord and power under S. 15(7) of DRC Act, 1958 being an exception to be exercised with due care and circumspection.[ Dina Nath v. Subhash Chand Saini, (2019) 9 SCC 477]

Property Law — Adverse Possession: Plaintiff, reiterated, can claim title based on adverse possession. Law laid down by three-Judge Bench in Ravinder Kaur Grewal, (2019) 8 SCC 729, summarised and followed. Further held, dispossession of plaintiff seeking to establish acquisition of title based on adverse possession, subsequent to filing of suit therefor has no bearing. [Krishnamurthy S. Setlur v. O.V. Narasimha Setty, (2019) 9 SCC 488]

Trusts and Trustees — Religious and Charitable Endowments and Trusts — Archaka or Pujari: Archaka is obliged to protect property of temple as guardian of deity, who is deemed in law to be a minor, and initiate proceedings in that regard when required but he cannot usurp such property for his own gains. [Sri Ganapathi Dev Temple Trust v. Balakrishna Bhat, (2019) 9 SCC 495]

Constitution of India — Arts. 226 and 227 — Exercise of power — Interference on ground of violation of principles of natural justice: In this case, petroleum products dealership of the respondent was terminated and the High Court itself issued directions instead of remanding matter to authorities concerned to provide opportunity of hearing and decide matter afresh in accordance with law but as respondent did not want to continue dealership, held, it was entitled to refund of security amount of Rs 7,05,746 within period of six weeks. Appellant was directed to remove all its equipments from premise of respondent. However, no interest was awarded on security deposit. [Indian Oil Corpn. v. Lala Bhairo Prasad Saraf & Sons, (2019) 9 SCC 505]

Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 — S. 2-A (inserted by Act 46 of 1960 w.e.f. 31-12-1960), Ss. 16(1)(d) and 7-A — Claim for exemption: In this case, there was denial of exemption on ground that the three establishments viz. (i) BCCL, Jaipur (ii) TPHL, Jaipur and (iii) SVPL, Jaipur were part of same establishment i.e. BCCL, Mumbai. BCCL, Jaipur is not a separate entity but part of parent Company BCCL, Mumbai directly. It was held that mere location of departments and branches in different cities inconsequential, hence, no exemption can be granted to BCCL, Jaipur. Further held, as far as TPHL, Jaipur and SVPL, Jaipur are concerned applicable test for determining one establishment would be functional integrality or general unity of purpose and not test of unity of ownership, management and control. Further, business model of outsourcing not being prevalent in relevant period said principle inapplicable for testing nature of linkage. Moreover nature of agreement provided that said units would make available both space and staff for benefit of BCCL, Mumbai and expenses of establishment were also to be borne by them. Beside BCCL, Mumbai was issuing orders on their letter pads. Fact that there was no commonality of Directors, shareholders, no financial unity, separate balance sheets as well as profit and loss accounts, independent employees with no transfer inter se, is inconsequential. Said three establishments were effectively part of same parent Company and cannot be granted exemption from applicability of 1952 Act which is a beneficial legislation. [Shree Vishal Printers Ltd. v. Provident Fund Commr., (2019) 9 SCC 508]

Trusts and Trustees — Religious and Charitable Endowments and Trusts — Wakfs — Mutawalli — Role of — Principles summarized: There is clear distinction in matters of powers between appropriator or wakif who himself becomes first mutawalli and mutawalli appointed by wakif. Transfer of office by mutawalli is not permissible, unless he is specifically empowered under wakf deed. Succession to office of mutawalli should be in accordance with intention of person who created wakf. Such intention cannot be subverted by creating subsequent document contrary to intention of creator of wakf. [Syeda Nazira Khatoon v. Syed Zahiruddin Ahmed Baghdadi, (2019) 9 SCC 522]