Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ decided some important questions dealing with the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 and held that the Commissioner, while hearing the appeal under Section 69 of Act, 1959, is not a Court. It said,

“When an appeal is provided against the order of the Commissioner under Section 69 to the Court which is defined under Section 6(7), there is no question of treating the Commissioner as a Court under the statutory scheme of Act, 1959.”

The Court also held that the applicability of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act is with regard to different limitations prescribed for any suit, appeal or application when to be filed in a Court. It further held,

“Section 29(2) cannot be pressed in service with regard to filing of suits, appeals and applications before the statutory authorities and tribunals provided in a special or local law. The Commissione while hearing of the appeal under Section 69 of the Act, 1959 is not entitled to condone the delay in filing appeal, since, provision of Section 5 shall not be attracted by strength of Section 29(2) of the Act.”

On the question whether the statutory scheme of Act 1959 indicate that Section 5 of Limitation Act is applicable to proceedings before its authorities, the Court said that There is no other provision in the scheme from which it can be inferred that Act, 1959 intended applicability of Section 5 of the Limitation Act to proceedings of appeal before the Commission.

[Ganesan v. Commissioner, Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 651, decided on 03.05.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Asking High Court to be more circumspect before it restrains an investigation under the statutory authority of the Director General of the Competition Commission, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta, JJ remitted back a matter to Delhi High Court that dealt with the powers of search and seizures of the Director General of CCI.

Relevant Provisions
  • Section 41(3) of Competition Act, 2002 specifically incorporates a reference to Section 240A in its application to an investigation by the Director General under the provisions of the Competition Act 2002.
  • Under Section 240A, an Inspector who has reasonable ground to believe that books and papers of, or relating to, any company may be destroyed, mutilated, altered, falsified or secreted may apply to the Magistrate to secure an authorisation for the seizure of the books and papers.
  • The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate allowed the application on 17 September 2014. The search operation was carried out on 19 September 2014.
  • An interim application was filed before the Delhi High Court in the pending writ petition for quashing the search and seizure and for the return of all documents, hard drives and laptops seized during the course of the search and seizure operation and for a stay on the investigation.
  • The Delhi High Court, by its order dated 26 September 2014, stayed further proceedings before the Director General of Investigation.
  • Applying the provision under Section 240A of the Companies Act, 1956, the High Court had held that a reading of the order passed by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate does not indicate any authorisation to the Director General to carry out any other exercise other than searching for relevant material.

The Court noticed that the provisions of Section 240A do not merely relate to an authorisation for a search but extend to the authorisation of a seizure as well. Unless the seizure were to be authorised, a mere search by itself will not be sufficient for the purposes of investigation.

It, hence, held,

“Having due regard to the provisions of Section 240A and the underlying purpose of Section 41(3), we are of the view that the blanket restraint which has been imposed by the learned Single Judge on the appellants utilising the seized material for any purpose whatsoever was not warranted. The High Court has blocked the investigation on an erroneous construction of the powers of the Director General.”

[Competition Commission of India v. JCB India Ltd., CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 76-77 OF 2019, order dated 15.01.2019]