Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Narula, J., decides a matter covering various aspects of the arbitration agreement.

Instant petition under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act sought appointment of a Sole Arbitrator.

Respondent was called upon to file a reply to the petition vide Order 08-02-2021, but no reply was filed.

Factual Matrix

Parties entered into a Memorandum of understanding on 1-01-2020 with the objective of promoting their respective business interests and profitability.

In the MoU it was provided that both the parties agree that they shall not attempt to solicit, contact or attempt to contact employees of each other for the purpose of offering employment.

Disputes arose as MSD breached its obligations under Clause 2.4 as explained above. MSD also indulged in various criminal activities which violate the terms of MoU, such as tampering with the servers of IMZ, forcibly gaining access to the computer database and electronic records of IMZ, sending emails to clients of IMZ and further making a false allegation against the directors and employees of IMZ.

On being aggrieved with the above, IMZ invoked the arbitration. Since MSD did not respond to the notice of Delhi International Arbitration Centre, IMZ approached this Court by way of the present petition.


High Court while analyzing the matter stated that in exercising jurisdiction under Section 11, Court needs to only examine if there is an existence of the arbitration agreement and whether there is the existence of arbitral disputes.

Supreme Court in the decision of Vidya Drolia v. Durga Trading Corporation, (2021) 2 SCC 1, observed that “the rule for the Court is ‘when in doubt, do refer”.

Therefore, it was noted that only in cases when ex-facie, the document appeared to be fabricated, that the Court would make a judicial enquiry. Mere allegation of fraud is not enough.

Bench stated that the purported veracity of the document in the present case, though disputed by MSD, was not sufficient to hold that the document is fraudulent, or that the Court should not proceed to appoint an Arbitrator.

Non-Compliance of Pre-Arbitration Procedure 

Arbitration clause stipulated that the parties shall attempt to resolve the disputes mutually through negotiations, falling which the same shall be referred to and decided by a sole arbitrator.

Bench found it to be surprising and irreconcilable that, on hand, MSD initiated criminal proceedings by filing an FIR against IMZ and on the other hand, it looked forward to mutually resolve the disputes through negotiation.

Moreover, in Court’s opinion, having regard to the ongoing litigation between directors of the parties before the NCLT, criminal proceedings, and conduct of the parties, relegating them to mutual negotiation to resolve the disputes would be an empty formality

 In such a situation which arose in the present matter, insistence on negotiation as a pre-condition to arbitration should not get in the way of the dispute resolution process agreed upon between the parties.

Non-payment of stamp duty on a commercial contract would invalidate the arbitration agreement?

High Court stated that the issue of stamping also stands covered by N.N. Global Mercantile (P) Ltd. v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 13, wherein the Supreme Court in clear and unequivocal terms overruled the decisions in SMS Tea Estates (P) Ltd. v. Chandmari Tea Company (P) Ltd.,(2011) 14 SCC 66, and Garware Wall Ropes Ltd. v. Coastal Marine Constructions and Engg. Ltd., (2019) 9 SCC 209, however, the same was affirmed in Vidya Drolia v. Durga Trading Corporation, (2021) 2 SCC 1.

Thus, Court opined that the plea of agreement being unstamped wouldn’t prevent the Court in appointing an arbitrator while exercising jurisdiction under Section 11 of the Act.

IMZ established that the contingencies provided under Section 11(6) of the Act were satisfactorily made out. Hence the present petition was allowed.

Shashank Garg, Advocate was appointed as the Sole Arbitrator to adjudicate the disputes that arose between the parties under the MoU.

Appeal was allowed in view of the above terms. [IMZ Corporate (P) Ltd. v. MSD Telematics (P) Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine Del 3016, decided on 4-06-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioner: Mr Nikhil Malhotra, Advocate

Mr Devadatt Kamat, Senior Advocate with Mr Sumeet Lall,

Mr Sidhant Kapoor and Mr. Javedur Rehman, Advocates.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

The parents together are a young child’s world. It is together that they groom him into his youth. It is together that they ensure the overall development of his personality in its myriad facets.

But marriage, like life, sometimes takes an unpleasant turn, where the spouses could turn into an estranged couple. 

It is in this situation that the Court, in the exercise of its parens patriae jurisdiction, called upon to perform the onerous task of keeping the young child’s world, as much together as can be. 

Allahabad High Court: J.J. Munir, J., observed that

What is important while deciding the issue of custody between two natural guardians, is where the minor’s welfare would be best secured. The statute indicates a preference for the mother, so far as a child below five years is concerned.

The instant petition was filed for a writ of habeas corpus, instituted by Master Anav’s mother, the first petitioner, asking the Court to liberate the minor from his father’s custody by entrusting the minor into hers, is about a young child’s devastating world.

Petitioner 1 states that during her stay with her husband, she was tortured physically and mentally, both. Her mother even gave dowry.

Later, petitioner 1 realised that her husband had an amorous relationship with her sister-in-law and another girl from the village to which she objected in vain. She was even forced to abandon the marriage and go back to her mother’s home.

The discord between parties was mediated by kinsmen, which resulted in what Meenakshi claims to be a mutual divorce.

Further, it was stated that Meenakshi after the above settlement went back to her mother’s home along with her young son, Anav. After some time petitioner 1 claimed that there was an unholy alliance between Meenakshi’s brother, Sunny and her estranged husband with two making it common cause to oust her minor son from her mother’s home.

While Ram Narayan wanted his son to stay with him, Sunny who is arrayed as the respondent 6 to this petition, wanted the child out of his mother’s home, where Meenakshi stays, because he thought Meenakshi may claim a share for her son in her ancestral property.

In light of the above motive, Meenakshi was beaten up and her son was snatched away, leading to locking up Meenakshi.

Later Anav was handed over to Meenkashi’s husband.

Analysis and Decision

Bench observed that the mother of the minor came up with serious allegations about her son being kidnapped by force by her brother and being delivered into her husband’s custody.

Court found no tangible evidence in regard to the child being forcibly removed from mother’s custody.

The minor is a young child of tender years. He is just four years old. The Court did not find him capable of expressing an intelligent preference between his parents, in whose custody, he would most like to be.

Amongst many things that this Court noticed is the fact that the father is not, particularly, interested in raising the minor.

A perusal of the settlement between the parties contained clause wherein it was specifically stated that the minor, Anav, then aged two and a half years, would stay in his mother’s custody.

The above-stated discloses the disinclination of the father to bear a whole-time responsibility for the minor’s custody and the complementary inclination of the mother to take that responsibility.

Mother’s right and that of the father, under Section 6(a) as to guardianship has been considered at par by the Supreme Court in Githa Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India, (1999) 2 SCC 228.

So far as custody goes, as distinct from guardianship, between the two natural guardians, the mother is to be preferred by virtue of the proviso to Section 6(a) of the Act of 1956, in the case of a child below five years of age.

Bench observed the Supreme Court Decision in Ratan Kundu v. Abhijit Kundu, (2008) 9 SCC 413, wherein it was held that

A court while dealing with custody cases, is neither bound by statutes nor by strict rules of evidence or procedure nor by precedents. In selecting proper guardian of a minor, the paramount consideration should be the welfare and well-being of the child.

Court added to its observation in custody matters that,

But, the general rule about custody of a child, below the age of five years, is not to be given a go-by. If the mother is to be denied custody of a child, below five years, something exceptional derogating from the child’s welfare is to be shown.

Bench noted that nothing on record was placed where it could be stated that the mother was unsuitable to raise the minor. Court found that the mother in the present case is more educated than the father.

Adding to the above, Court also stated that:

The mother, being found fit to have the minor’s custody, it cannot be the best arrangement to secure the child’s welfare, or so to speak, repair his devastated world. He must have his father’s company too, as much as can be, under the circumstances.

This Court must, therefore, devise a suitable arrangement, where the minor can meet his father in an atmosphere, that is reassuring and palliative. The father must, therefore, have sufficient visitation while the minor stays with his mother.

Hence, the habeas corpus writ petition was allowed in view of the above discussion. [Meenakshi v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 1475, decided on 02-12-2020]

Advocates who represented the parties in the matter:

Counsel for Petitioner:- Sushil Kumar Sharma, Mohit Kumar

Counsel for Respondent:- G.A., Amar Nath, Shravana Kumar Yadav

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and V.G. Bisht, JJ. refused to quash the FIR and criminal proceedings against the petitioner, a rape accused, despite settlement between the petitioner and the victim.

The matter related to alleged sexual assault and exploitation of the victim by the petitioner. The victim was a TV actress working in Delhi who was lured by the petitioner, a restaurant owner from Mumbai. It was alleged that the petitioner made promises of marriage to the victim and called her from Delhi to Mumbai. He also said he will get work for her. The petitioner arranged for the victim’s accommodation in Mumbai and it is alleged that on the pretext of marriage, the petitioner made physical relation with the victim against her will. It was also alleged that the victim got pregnant but had to undergo abortion despite resistance as the petitioner allegedly put a gun to her head and forced her to abort the pregnancy. Subsequently, the victim came to know that the petitioner is already married. After this, she filed an FIR against the petitioner and a criminal case was registered.

The petitioner also filed a cross complaint against the victim addressed to the Police Commissioner, Mumbai, in which the victim filed an affidavit in reply that as per advice of their elders, the petitioner and the victim have decided to amicably settle the dispute between them and move on in their careers.

Vishal Kanade and Satyaprakash Sharma instructed by  Shakuntala Sharma counsel for the petitioner, and Abhinav Chandrachud instructed by Prem Kumar R. Pandey, counsel for the victim jointly submitted that the FIR as also the chargesheet against the petitioner may be quashed. Per contra, S.D. Shinde, the Additional Public Prosecutor vehemently opposed the quashing of FIR on the ground that the alleged offences are serious and heinous offences.      

Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303 and State of M.P. v. Laxmi Narayan, (2019) 5 SCC 688, the High Court was of the opinion that the FIR and the chargesheet could not be quashed on the basis of alleged settlement and consent terms arrived at between the parties for the following reasons:

(i) The alleged offences are serious in nature and in particular, offence punishable under Section 376 of the IPC is heinous.

(ii) The petitioner told the victim that he was unmarried and wished to marry the victim, when in fact he was already married.

(iii) The petitioner sexually abused the victim by promising her that he will give her a job in the film industry.

(iv) There is serious allegation that the victim conceived from the petitioner, and he compelled the victim for abortion at the gunpoint.

The petitioner than advanced arguments on merits. He submitted that there was inordinate delay in lodging the FIR. Further, the victim was a consenting party and therefore the ingredients of Section 375 IPC were not attracted. On this point also, the Court declined to quash the FIR against the petitioner as it thought fit that the merits could not be dealt with in a summary manner and need to go to trial.

The Court observed that: “It prima facie appears that the consent given by the 2nd respondent [victim] for quashing the FIR and charge-sheet is not free from coercion, inasmuch as, it is stated in the said affidavit filed by the 2nd respondent that the petitioner’s wife also filed complaint against the 2nd respondent for the offence punishable under Section 452 IPC.”

It was further observed: “The alleged offences are not individual in nature and quashing of the impugned FIR, chargesheet and pending proceedings on the basis of alleged settlement or on merits is not possible since the alleged offences are not individual in nature and outcome of present proceedings will have impact on Society.”

As far as the issue of inordinate delay in lodging the FIR was concerned, the Court said that adjudication of issue of delay is a mixed question of fact and law and therefore that will have to be considered at the trial.

The petition to quash the FIR and the chargesheet was accordingly dismissed. [Chirag Sundarlal Gupta v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 627, decided on 13-3-2020] 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT): The Coram comprising of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Chairperson and Alok Srivastava, Member (Technical), while deciding an appeal filed against Bank of India, stated that,

“Bank of India once accepted amount is expected to reach a settlement, failing which the question, whether application under Section 7 was filed under malicious intent for recovery and not for resolution will be considered.”

Bank of India (Financial Creditor) had moved an application under Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 that had been admitted by impugned order passed by the National Company Law Tribunal.

Further, it is to be noted that, in the meantime, appellant (Corporate Debtor) tried to reach settlement with Bank of India who had already received a sum of Rs 80,00,000 but was not reaching any settlement.

Adding to the above, it was submitted that the money was accepted by Bank of India during the ‘Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process’, which is otherwise not permissible, on the ground that it wants settlement and then refusing to settle.

It was also stated that the application under Section 7 was filed by Bank of India with malicious intent and not for resolution or liquidation and calls for penal action under Section 65 of IBC.

Appellate Tribunal while posting the case for orders on 12-03-2020, gave a direction that in the meantime, Interim Resolution Professional will not constitute the ‘Committee of Creditors’, if not yet constituted, to enable the parties to reach settlement. Further, the Interim Resolution Professional will also ensure that company remains a going concern and will take assistance from the (suspended) Board of Directors and the officers/directors/employees.

Further, adding to the above, Appellate Tribunal also stated that the bank account of the ‘Corporate Debtor’ be allowed to be operated for the day-to-day functioning of the company. [Akshay Arun Shetty v. Bank of India, 2020 SCC OnLine NCLAT 96, decided on 14-02-2020]

Business NewsNews

Settlement of misclassification of workers & tax fraud dispute against Infosys

As reported by PTI, “Infosys” has agreed to pay $800,000 (nearly Rs 5.6 Crores) to settle the misclassification of foreign workers and tax fraud.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced a settlement of $800,000 against Infosys Limited.

Allegations against Infosys was that,

between 2006 and 2017 approximately 500 Infosys employees were working in California on Infosys-sponsored B-1 visas rather than H-1B visas.

Further, the above-mentioned misclassification resulted in Infosys avoiding California payroll taxes.

In the settlement, Infosys, however, denied the allegations and asserted of no wrongdoings.

Further, the company on Wednesday informed Indian stock exchanges that it has reached a settlement with California Attorney General.

In the regulatory filing, it said the case is being dismissed with prejudice and was reached to avoid the time, expense, and distraction of protracted litigation on allegations dating back more than 13 years.

California had initiated legal actions against Infosys after a complaint was filed by whistleblower Jack “Jay” Palmer, a former Infosys employee.

[Source: PTI]

[Image Credits: The Asian Age]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Sanjay Kumar Singh, J. allowed the instant application in terms of compromise and quashed the chargesheet as well as the entire proceedings.

This instant application was filed for the quashing of the chargesheet. The applicant, Gomti Devi purchased a plot that it got in a dispute with Madhu Sharma, daughter-in-law of Opposite Party 2. An FIR was lodged against Madhu Sharma by Opposite Party 2 under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for wrongly and illegally executing a sale deed which is in dispute. Investigating Officer filed the chargesheet under Section 420 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Counsel for the applicants, Vinod Sinha, submitted that during the pendency of the trial both the parties entered in compromise and all things were settled outside the court. So an affidavit was filed for cancellation of sale deed dated 12-12-2011. Since the compromise was made the continuance of criminal proceedings pursuant to impugned charge-sheet against the applicants after compromise arrived at between the parties would be a futile exercise.

The issue before the Court was whether the Court can quash the proceedings of a non-compoundable offence under Section 482 CrPC.

This Court relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of State of M.P. v. Laxmi Narayan, (2019) 5 SCC 688  where it laid down the guidelines for exercising the inherent power of the court under Section 482 of Code of Criminal.

The Court after considering the facts and circumstances of this case observed that this is a fit case, where this Court can exercise its inherent power to secure the end of justice. Accordingly, the Court quashed the subject proceedings. [Gomti Devi v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 4269, decided on 30-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Sanjay Kumar Singh, J. while allowing the application under Section 482 CrPC observed that even the law provides that it may not be necessary for every criminal offence to mete out punishment, particularly, if the victim wants to bury the hatchet.

In the instant case, applicant 1 is the husband and applicant 2 is the brother-in-law of opposite party 2 (OP). Due to non-fulfilment of dowry demands, OP was tortured, beaten and harassed and thereby made OP lodge an FIR against the applicants, her father-in-law and sister-in-law.

On the request of applicants, time was granted to them to make arrangement of payment to settle the dispute amicably. Afterwards, a joint affidavit was filed by the applicants and OP submitting that they have settled their matrimonial dispute outside the Court and they have no grievance against each other. The settlement was based on certain terms and conditions like OP will receive an amount of Rs 22 lakh from applicant 1 and would not prosecute each other or family members with regard to present matrimonial dispute between them.

After observing the submissions of the parties, the Court looked into some relevant judgments of the Supreme Court where guidelines for quashing of criminal proceedings on the basis of compromise and amicable settlement of the matrimonial dispute between the parties concerned was laid down.

In Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia v. Sambhaji-Rao Chandrojirao Angre, (1988) 1 SCC 692, it was laid down that the inherent power under Section 482 CrPC should be used where special features appear or it is expedient and in the interest of justice to permit a prosecution to continue.

In G.V. Rao v. L.H.V. Prasad, (2000) 3 SCC 693, the Supreme Court made some apt observations in relation to matrimonial disputes. Little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly escalate which often assume serious proportions resulting in commission of heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved. Instead of fighting out in the Court, the parties should amicably terminate their disputes.

In Swati Verma v. Rajan Verma, (2004) 1 SCC 123 similar to the present case, the Supreme Court had quashed the criminal proceedings under Sections 498A and 406 IPC before the CJM as the divorce litigation between the sparring spouses was decided on the basis of a compromise.

With these cases referred and a few others, the Court observed that If the offender and victim want to move on in matrimonial cases, they may be allowed to compound the offences in terms of the settlement.[Alok Jaiswal v. State of U.P., Application u/s 482 No.  27720 of 2019, decided on 08-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court:  Lisa Gill, J. allowed the application for the refund of the fees on the ground that the matter was resolved between the parties.

An appeal was filed by the appellant-plaintiff against the order passed by the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Faridabad where the suit for specific performance filed by the appellant was dismissed.

Rakesh Kumar Sharma, counsel for the applicant/appellant submitted that the appellant does not wish to pursue the appeal which was filed for the specific performance as the dispute between the parties had been resolved amicably.The applicant/appellant further prayed for the refund of the court fee.  Reliance was placed upon the decision of Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court in the case of A. Sreeramaiah v. South Indian Bank Ltd., 2006 SCC Online Kar 563 in which it was held that the matter being resolved by the parties amicably, amongst themselves without the intervention of the court, the court fees should be refunded.

In the above-mentioned case, the court held that the object behind Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 is to encourage the parties to arrive at the settlement. It is not important that the parties are referred to the four methods but if parties themselves at the earliest stage before the court come to the settlement, it will be considered that the object of Section 89 is achieved. The court further held that “No party should be discriminated in the matter of refund of Court Fees mainly on the ground that they have settled the dispute at the earliest stage before the court without recourse to any of the methods mentioned under Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.” Thus, the court directed the refund of the court fees appended with the appeal to the appellant. [Raj Kumar v. Gainda Devi, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 658decided on 29-5-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Bench of Manoj K. Tiwari, J. allowed a criminal miscellaneous application challenging the proceedings of the criminal case on the ground that the parties had settled the dispute between themselves.

The counsels for the parties submitted that parties had buried their differences and entered into a compromise and settled the dispute amicably outside the court, therefore, no useful purpose would have been served if the criminal case was to be continued.

The Court relied on Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2010) 15 SCC 118 which had considered the question with regard to the inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC in quashing the criminal proceedings against the offender, who had settled his dispute with the victim of the crime in a case, where crime is not compoundable under Section 320 CrPC. The Court held that in view of the settlement arrived at between the complainant and the applicants and the possibility of a conviction being remote and bleak, the FIR shall be quashed. [Abdul Rahman v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 87, Order dated 18-02-2019]


Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT): A Bench comprising of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Chairperson and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat, Member (Judicial) allowed an appeal filed against the order of National Company Law Tribunal, Chandigarh admitting respondent’s application under Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

It was submitted by the Corporate Debtor that a settlement was reached between the parties and the said fact was brought to the notice of NCLT, however, it declined to allow Financial Creditor to withdraw the application for the reason that the matter has been fixed for pronouncement. The parties brought on record the settlement deed and the Resolution Professional submitted that parties had paid fees and insolvency cost to him.

Perusing the record, the Appellate Tribunal found that parties had reached settlement much prior to the date of admission of the application. As such, there was no default of payment on part of Corporate Debtor and there was no occasion for NCLT to admit application under Section 7. Consequently, the actions taken by NCLT were declared illegal and were set aside. The proceedings were directed to be closed. The appeals were thus allowed. [Gaurav Pandey v. Eternity Investment Services (P) Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine NCLAT 836, dated 30-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Uday U. Lalit, J. delivered the judgment for Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.  and himself whereby the Court reiterated that no eviction can be ordered unless grounds for seeking eviction are made out.

The appellant-tenants and respondent-landlord entered into a lease agreement. Subsequently, the respondent wanted the premises to be evicted which effort was resisted by the appellants. The matter became a dispute and a police complaint was filed. A written settlement was reached between the parties under which the appellants agreed to vacate the premises. The appellant disputed the said agreement alleging that they were made to enter into the compromise by coercion under police pressure. The matter travelled through various competent authorities; the Principal Subordinate Judge allowed the application filed by the appellant; however, on appeal by the respondent, the High Court reversed the order of the said Judge. Aggrieved thus, the appellants preferred the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court referred to its earlier judgments including K. K. Chari v. R.M. Seshadri, (1973) 1 SCC 761 and Nagindas Ramdas v. Dalpatram Ichharam, (1974) 1 SCC 242. The Court observed that the common thread running through the judgments referred was that ‘in cases where protection under Rent Act is available, no eviction can be ordered unless grounds seeking eviction is made out, even in a case where parties have entered into a compromise. Moreover, invalidity on that count can even be raised in execution.’ In the present case, however, noted the Supreme Court, the order of the High Court did not even remotely note that any particular ground under the Rent Act was made out. In the view of the Court, the order passed by the Principal Subordinate Judge was correct and did not call for any interference by the High Court. Therefore, the order impugned was set aside and the appeal was allowed. [Alagu Pharmacy v. N. Magudeswari,2018 SCC OnLine SC 961, dated 14-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A criminal revision petition filed under Section 320 read with Section 482 CrPC for compounding the criminal case pending against the petitioners was allowed by Single Judge Bench comprising of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J.

The petitioners were allowed to have assaulted the complainant out of the previous enmity between them. They were tried and sentenced by the trial court under Sections 324 and 477 read with Section 34 IPC. Petitioners filed the present petition submitting that they have entered into an amicable settlement with the complainant. It was further submitted that the parties have buried their differences and disputes; they have good relations and live in peace and harmony; the complainant did not want to prosecute the matter any further.

The parties were present before the High Court and they submitted the deed of settlement by which it was clear that the complainant did not want to pursue the case further. The Court relied on Gian Singh v. State of Punjab; (2012) 10 SCC 303, wherein it was held that the powers of the High Court under Section 482 are wider than the power of a criminal court to compound an offence under Section 320 CrPC. Considering the fact that the offence for which the petitioners were charged cannot be stricto sensu held to be an offence against the State, and also that the parties have settled the suit amicably; the High Court held it to be a fit case to exercise powers under Section 482. Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the matter was ordered to be compounded. [Sunit Singh v. State of H.P,2018 SCC OnLine HP 606, dated 15-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Ajay Mohan Goel, J., decided a criminal petition filed under Section 482 of CrPC, wherein the FIR and proceedings arising thereunder against the petitioners were quashed in light of settlement between the parties.

FIR was registered against the petitioners under Sections 420, 465, 467, 469, 471, 406 and 120-B of IPC. It was submitted that the issue which led to registration of the FIR stood amicably settled between the parties. The complainant company too submitted before the court that it had no issue if the said FIR and the proceedings arising thereunder are quashed by the Court, as they have settled the matter with the petitioners.

The High Court perused the record and held that it was a fit case to exercise its inherent powers in favour of the petitioners. The complainant company did not have any objection if the petition was allowed. The matter stood settled between the parties already. It was held that it was in the interest of justice if the said FIR and the proceedings arising thereunder were quashed. The Court ordered accordingly. [Pankaj Gupta v. State of H.P.,  2018 SCC OnLine HP 425, dated 11.4.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court, dismissed a petition for quashing of FIR and criminal proceedings there under, under Section 482 of the CrPC. The FIR was registered under Section 304-A IPC against the accused who was attached with the petitioner company.

The Court noted that the accused was not named in the petition and hence, no quashment regarding him could be granted. Futher, payment of Rs 6.5 lakhs to the deceased’s legal heirs on humanitarian grounds were also found not sufficient grounds for quashment in a serious and grave offence. The Court relied on Bhajan Lal Sharma v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), 2016 SCC OnLine Del 4234 : 2016 (158) DRJ 493 to explain how granting quashment to the current facts would amount to setting an unhealthy precedent, giving wrong impressions to the whole society that builders, construction contractors etc can ignore safety precautions against foreseeable threat to life of workers as long as they pay compensation. Petition dismissed with order that observations shall have no impact on merits of the case. [Hitachi Payment Services (P) Ltd. v. State,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 8131, decided on 23.03.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Gita Mittal, Actg. CJ and C. Hari Shankar, J., disposed of an appeal under Section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 on grounds of the underlying dispute being settled by a settlement agreement by way of mediation.

The parties had preferred an appeal each, both of which were dealt with the court jointly. The appellant had challenged the order which upheld the arbitral award in favour of the respondent, whereas the respondent had appealed against the order rejecting a petition under Section 9 of the Arbitration Act with regard to the subject matter of the aforesaid arbitral award. The Court on the date of hearing noted that the dispute between the parties appeared to be capable of being resolved through mediation. The parties were, consequently, referred to Mr. Sudhanshu Batra, Sr. Advocate/Mediator at Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre. The parties were able to arrive at a settlement and the original settlement agreement was forwarded to the Court. The parties confirmed the correctness of the record received. Additionally, the counsel stated that the parties had acted upon the terms thereof and in view of the settlement in place, nothing survived for further adjudication. Hence, the appeal may be disposed of. The Court, noting the same, disposed of the appeals. [M/s Konka Group Company Ltd v. M/s A2VP Distributors,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 7015, decided on 31.01.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While passing the order in a criminal petition filed under Section 482 of CrPC, a Single Judge Bench of Aravind Kumar, J. held that in light of the parties having entered into settlement, the Court was of considered view that continuation of proceedings would not sub-serve the ends of justice and it would be an abuse of process of law.

The petitioner was seeking to quash the proceedings pending before the Metropolitan Magistrate, in a criminal case for the offence punishable under Section 29 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. He contended that the Management and the Employees Union have entered into a settlement and as such the proceedings may be quashed.

Learned advocates appearing for the parties filed a joint memorandum of settlement entered into between the parties. The parties were present before the court and the complainant submitted that he had no objection to the proceedings being quashed. The parties submitted that they had entered into the settlement out of their own free will and volition.

In light of the parties having entered into settlement and the submissions made by the complainant, the Court allowed the petition and quashed the proceedings pending before the MM. Accordingly, the Court acquitted the accused of the offence punishable under Section 29 of IDA, 1947. [Ashok Mathur v. Sri P.I. Antoo, Criminal Petition No. 4868/2014, dated August 14, 2017]


Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While dealing with a question relating to condoning of delay after deducting the days which were spent for the purpose of settlement, the Court held that deducting the number of days spent for the purpose of settlement can be considered sufficient reason to condone the delay.

In the present case, the plaintiff filed the suit for permanent injunction against the defendant to restrain violation and infringement of its rights in its 8 patents along with damages, rendition of accounts, delivery up etc. In furtherance of the court proceedings, a notice in the counter claim was issued by Court vide order dated 31st July, 2015 and a period of 8 weeks was given to the plaintiff to file its written statement. For 59 days, both the parties were negotiating. Thereafter, the plaintiff informed the Court that both the parties have not been able to resolve the matter. Later, an application was filed by the Defendant counsel that as per Section 16 read with Schedule I of the Commercial Courts Ordinance, a written statement filed after expiry of 120 days from the date of service of summons cannot be taken on record. Ms. Pratibha M. Singh, learned Senior counsel appearing on behalf of plaintiff submitted that the present suit was filed by the Plaintiff before the Original Side of this Court on 20th March, 2015 and now as per the Commercial Court Ordinance, the present suit stands transferred before the Commercial Division of this Court with effect from 15th November, 2015. Therefore, in the light of the proviso of Section 15 (4) of the Commercial Court Ordinance, this Court has the discretion to take on record the written statement filed by the plaintiff on 5th December, 2015 inasmuch as the timelines as laid down by the Commercial Courts Ordinance will become applicable to the present case from 15th November, 2015.

The Court while relying on Dr. Sukhdev Singh Gambhir v. Amrit Pal Singh, ILR (2003) I Delhi 577 held that since the parties were trying to resolve their dispute amicably and that process took 59 days, the said period is to be excluded from the period provided in the Civil Procedure Code and Clause 4D(i) of Commercial Courts Ordinance. The Court also held that the present suit squarely falls under the said exemption and therefore provides for extended timelines for completion of pleadings as per the prior statute. The Court also said that the prescribed period of 120 days’ timeline will be applicable in cases filed subsequent to the notification of the Ordinance and the same is not applicable in the present case. [Telefonaktiebolaget L.M Ericsson v. Lava International Ltd., 2015 SCC OnLine Del 13990, decided on December 9, 2015]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a divorce matter, where the wife was found suffering from a life threatening disease, the Court held that it is a duty of the husband to take care of the health and safety of the wife and provide facilities for the her treatment.

The husband had sought divorce on ground that his wife had committed various acts of cruelty after solemnization of their marriage. The matter was later transferred to the Supreme Court Mediation Centre where the husband had agreed to pay Rs.12,50,000 towards full and final settlement as alimony, maintenance for past and future or any other claim of the petitioner-wife. In a subsequent application it was urged that divorce be granted by way of mutual consent as the petitioner-wife was in urgent need of funds for her medical treatment.

Considering the abovementioned facts, the bench of M.Y. Eqbal and C. Nagappan, JJ said that it cannot be ruled out that in order to save her life by getting money, the petitioner-wife agreed for a settlement of dissolution of marriage. The Court further said that it is a pre-existing duty of the husband to look after her comforts and not only to provide her food and clothes but to protect her from all calamities and to take care of her health and safety.

Directing the husband to pay Rs. 5, 00, 000 out of Rs.12,50,000/- to the petitioner-wife immediately within a week for her treatment and meeting other medical expenses, the Court held that After the petitioner is fully cured from the disease or within six months whichever is earlier, the Family Court at Hyderabad, where the divorce petition is ordered to be transferred, shall take up the case along with a fresh application that may be filed by the parties under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for divorce by mutual consent.[ Vennangot Anuradha Samir v. Vennangot Mohandas Samir, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 1266, decided on 02.12.2015]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with an important question that whether continuance of criminal proceedings in case of loans taken from banks on the basis of forged documents would be an unnecessary load on the criminal justice dispensation system once the parties have entered into a settlement, the bench of Dipak Misra and P.C. Pantt, JJ held that a grave criminal offence or serious economic offence or for that matter the offence that has the potentiality to create a dent in the financial health of the institutions, is not to be quashed on the ground that there is delay in trial or the principle that when the matter has been settled it should be quashed to avoid the load on the system.

In the case where the respondent, a former Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes along with her late husband applied for loans on the basis of forged documents in more than one bank, advanced a plea that she had signed the documents either as a guarantor or as a co-applicant, and that she is a lady and she was following her late husband’s commands, the Court rejected her plea after considering that the respondent who has voluntarily retired from the post of Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes and thereafter became a member of Rajya Sabha. The Court noted that the assertions as regards the ignorance are a mere pretence and sans substance given the facts. Lack of awareness, knowledge or intent is neither to be considered nor accepted in economic offences.

Unimpressed by the argument based on the gender of the respondent, the Court went on to say that an offence under the criminal law is an offence and it does not depend upon the gender of an accused. Though there are certain provisions in CrPC relating to exercise of jurisdiction under Section 437, etc. therein but that altogether pertains to a different sphere. A person committing a murder or getting involved in a financial scam or forgery of documents, cannot claim discharge or acquittal on the ground of her gender as that is neither constitutionally nor statutorily a valid argument. State v. R. Vasanthi Stanley2015 SCC OnLine SC 815, decided on 15.09.2015

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Coming down heavily upon the laxity observed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in exercising its appellate jurisdiction in the present case wherein the High Court, without proper appreciation of the evidence and considering the compromise entered between the rape victim and the respondent, converted the offence committed by the respondent under Section 376 IPC to that under Section 354 IPC, thereby confining the sentence to the period of custody already undergone, the Division Bench of Dipak Misra and P.C. Pant, JJ., observed that in cases of rape where the dignity of woman is brutally defiled, compromise or settlement between the parties is absolutely no solution. The Bench went on to state that the courts should refrain from adopting a liberal approach or any thoughts of mediation between the parties, for these approaches will be nothing short of a spectacular error.

In the present case, the respondent’s conviction by the Sessions Judge, Guna under Section 376 (2)(f) of IPC for raping a 7 year old girl was reversed by the High Court, by converting the offence to that under Section 354 IPC, thus restricting the term of sentence. C.D. Singh appearing for the appellant contended that the High Court is duty bound under its appellate jurisdiction to re-appreciate the evidence and arrive at a proper decision. While Asha J. Madan, appearing for the respondent, did not find any fault with the decision of the High Court.

The Bench expressed its annoyance upon the laconic approach of the High Court in dealing with the present case, thereby puncturing the criminal justice dispensation system. While referring to relevant precedents, the Court was of the opinion that an appellate court has a duty to appreciate all the important features of a case. The Court further observed that High Court being influenced by the compromise entered between the parties adopted a liberal approach which is impermissible. Thus on perusal of the facts, the Court ordered the matter to be remitted to the High Court for reappraisal of the evidence and for a fresh decision. State of M.P. v. Madanlal,  2015 SCC OnLine SC 579, decided on 01.07.2015