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High Courts Weekly Round-Up

Arabhi Anandan
10 Feb 2020 4:39 AM GMT
High Courts Weekly Round-Up
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Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court granted bail to former Union Minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand, who has been accused of sexually exploiting a 23 years old law student. The order was passed by Justice Rahul Chaturvedi. Chinmayanand has been booked under Section 376-C of IPC for allegedly taking advantage of his official position by inducing the student to have sex with him. He was arrested by the SIT on September 20, 2019, after the student gave a pen drive to the SIT to support her allegations, and he has remained in custody since then. The Sessions Court at Shahjahanpur had rejected his bail plea on September 30, 2019, pursuant to which he approached the high court. On November 16, 2019, the high court had reserved order on the bail application.

Credibility Of Witness Can Be Established Only After Cross-Examination By The Accused [Rekha v. State of UP & Anr.]

The Allahabad High Court has reiterated that the credibility of any witness can be established only after the said witness is put to cross-examination by the accused persons, in connection with the charged offense. Justice Ajit Singh held that the trial court had committed an error in not providing an opportunity to the Petitioner-accused to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses after the charges framed against them were altered.

Bombay High Court

In a significant judgment, the Bombay High Court held that in case the order of termination of a probationer judge is simplisitor termination, it is not necessary to follow the principles of natural justice and or to hold an inquiry before issuing an order of termination. The division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice NB Suryawanshi dismissed a writ petition filed by Ajay Dinode, who was appointed as a District Judge in 2014 at Akola and was later conferred with powers of an Additional Sessions Judge in 2015. In July 2016, the High Court of Bombay recommended him as Special Judge for speedy and expeditious trial for the matters relating to National Spot Exchange Ltd Scam. However, the petitioner was discharged from service in June 2017. Hence the present petition was filed.

The Bombay High Court a couple of weeks back dismissed an appeal filed against an order of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and held that for levy of fringe benefit tax, relationship of employer is the sine qua non and the fringe benefits have to be provided by the employer to the employees in the course of such relationship. A division bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Milind Jadhav heard the appeal filed under Section 260A of Income Tax Act filed by the Commissioner of Income Tax against an order dated January 25, 2017, passed by ITAT.

Unregistered Partnership Firms Can Maintain Complaint For Dishonor Of Cheque U/S 138 NI Act [Narendra v. Balbirsingh]

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday held that an unregistered partnership firm can maintain a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. The division bench comprising Justice PN Deshmukh and Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala was answering a reference from an order of single judge, questioning the previous view of the high court taken in Sai Accumulator Industries, Sangamner v. Sethi Brothers, Aurangabad, 2016(5) Mh.LJ 936, that, an unregistered partnership firm cannot maintain a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act due to the bar contained in Section 69(2) of the Indian Partnership Act.

Bombay HC Imposes 25K Cost on Litigant For Wasting Time of The Court [Mr. Shrikrishna Adbol v. Election Commission of India]

The Bombay High Court imposed a cost of Rs.25,000 on one Shrikrishna Adbol who had challenged the election of Akola Member of Parliament Sanjay Dhotre, presently the Union Minister of State for Department of IT and Telecommunication, in a writ petition alleging suppression of expenditure incurred by him during the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Division bench of Justice RV Ghuge and Justice SM Modak of the Nagpur bench dismissed the said petition after concluding that instead of an election petition under Section 81, the petitioner had filed a writ petition invoking Section 10 A of the Representation of People's Act even though the said provision simply pertained to the legal formality of lodging account of election expenses within the time and the manner required by the Act.

Forfeiture Of Gratuity: Proof of Misconduct Not Enough, Offence Involving Moral Turpitude Must Be Established In Court [Western Coal Fields Ltd. v. The Presiding Officer, Appellate Authority]

The Bombay High Court last week held that in order to forfeit the gratuity that an employee is entitled to, an offence involving moral turpitude must be established in a court of law, mere proof of misconduct by an internal inquiry is not enough to deprive the employee of gratuity under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. Justice Manish Pitale of the Nagpur bench was hearing a writ petition filed by Western Coalfields Limited wherein orders passed by Controlling Authority (Assistant Labour Commissioner) and Appellate Authority (Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner) granting relief to Manohar Fulzele, the respondent, was challenged.

Calcutta High Court

The Calcutta High Court has quashed an order passed by the Speaker of West Bengal Legislative Assembly imposing a punishment on a person for allegedly violating privilege of the house by making statements against the Speaker. The High Court found that the decision was taken in violation of principles of natural justice, as no right of cross-examination was given to the person in the proceedings. The Single Bench of Justice Debangsu Basak said that the decision of the House is open to judicial review on the limited grounds such as violation of principles of natural justice.

Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has held that BCA qualification acquired either from an Open Distance Learning institution or from a traditional institute/college will be treated at par. Justice Rajiv Shakder made the observations while disposing of two petitions filed by students who had been "debarred" by Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University from attending classes for the MCA program at their respective colleges for having pursued their BCA degrees from ODL institutions.

Arbitration- Time Limit Enhanced Under Section 29A Applicable To Proceedings Pending As On Date Of 2019 Amendment [Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Pvt. Ltd v. Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd.]

The Single Bench of the Delhi High Court, Justice J R Midha held that the time limit for completion of arbitration proceedings, enhanced by amending Section 29A(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 through the 2019 amendment is applicable to the arbitrations pending as on the date of the amendment. The unamended Section 29A(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 provided a period of 12 months for the conclusion of arbitration proceedings from the date the Arbitral Tribunal enters upon the reference. Section 29A(1) was amended with effect from 9th August 2019 and the time period for conclusion of arbitration proceedings have been extended up to 12 months from the date of completion of pleadings.

Delhi High Court has held that a paper-cutter would qualify as a 'deadly weapon' for the purpose of securing conviction for committing robbery with an attempt to cause death. The Single Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru has noted that a deep cut, from a paper-cutter, on a vital part of the body can actually prove to be fatal. He observed: 'Although it is meant for a specific purpose of cutting paper, there is no denying the fact that its blade is very sharp and is capable of delivering a fatal injury.'

Delhi HC Convicts 'Barely 17 Yr Old Boy' For Rape And Sentences Him To 7Yrs As He Fails To Claim Juvenility [Manoj v. State]

The Delhi High Court convicted and sentenced a minor boy under IPC and POCSO on the charges of raping a 16 yrs old girl, without taking into account the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Justice Vibhu Bakhru sentenced him to undergo 7 years imprisonment, the minimum punishment stipulated in the IPC and POCSO, as the convict had not raised the plea of juvenility, either before the Trial Court or the high court.

Gauhati High Court

The Gauhati High Court directed the Union of India to decide within a week the representations filed by All India Federation of Tax Practitioners and the Tax Bar Association of Guwahati seeking an extension of time to file GSTR 9 (Annual Return) and GSTR 9C (Reconciliation form). The due date for filing the forms is March 31, 2020. While disposing of the writ petition filed by these associations, a bench of Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed : "The respondent would also address the issue of extending the time for 30 days, so far as filing of GST Returns in the State of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh is concerned, in view of the peculiar conditions prevailing in these states"

J&K High Court

J&K HC Upholds Detention Of Bar Association President Under Public Safety Act [Milan Abdul Qayoom v. State of J&K and Others]

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court dismissed a habeas corpus petition which challenged the preventive detention of Senior Advocate and J&K High Court Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom. He has been under detention since August 5, when the Central Government took measures to abrogate the special status of J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. Justice Tashi Rabstan, who decided the plea, held that there were sufficient materials to show the subjective satisfaction of the authorities with regard to the need to detain Qayoom, and added that the same was carried out following the procedure under the J&K Public Safety Act 1978.

Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court has held that a father's pensionary benefits are not immune from attachment towards payment of maintenance to children. A Division Bench of Justice K.Harilal and Justice C.S. Dias was considering the question of whether the father's pensionary benefits are exempted from being disbursed towards arrears of maintenance payable to his children. The Court also observed that the liability of the husband/father to maintain his wife/children are statutory as well as Constitutional, falling within the sweep of Art 15(3) and Art. 39 of the Constitution of India.

Madras High Court

Fake Journalists : Madras HC Directs Police To Find Out Persons Holding Bogus Press Identity Cards

The Madras High Court directed the Public Prosecutor to ask the police to investigate and find out the persons who are holding fake press identity cards and take criminal action if they are found to be misusing the name of Government of India under the relevant act. A Division Bench comprising Justices N. Kirbukaran and P Velmurugan noticed that fake press identity cards have been issued in the name of 'All India Anti Corruption Press, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India'. The court noted that about 100 press identity cards have been issued under the said name.

Madras HC Refuses To Relax Age Limit For OBC Candidates Appearing For District Judge Exam [NS Sivakumar v. State of Tamil Nadu]

The Madras High Court on Thursday refused to relax the upper age limit for persons belonging to Other Backward Class, for taking the District Judge examination. A bench comprising Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed a batch of petitions, seeking to bring the upper age limit for the OBC category at par with Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) candidates. This would mean, relaxing the upper age limit from 45 to 48. The court observed that the issue in question had attained finality at the hands of Supreme Court in All India Judges' Association & Ors. v. Union of India, (2002) 4 SCC 247. In the said case, the top court had accepted the Shetty Commission report in relation to age relaxation, which did not contain any separate age relaxation for the Backward Classes.

Madras HC Upholds Sec 234F Of Income Tax Act Prescribing Fees For Delayed Filing Of Returns [K Nirail Mathi Azhagan v. Union of India & Anr.]

A division bench comprising Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad upheld the constitutionality of Section 234F of the Income Tax Act 1961, which prescribed fees for delayed submission of returns. The validity of this provision, inserted as per the Finance Act 2018, was challenged on the ground that the "fee" for delayed returns was a "penalty" in disguise. According to the petitioners, the charges prescribed in the section were in the nature of "penalty", and therefore it can be imposed only after a fact-finding procedure. It was also contended that the charges cannot be termed as "fee" as there was no element of 'quid pro quo'.

The Madras High Court made crucial observations for providing housing units to all families in India and said that "the government has got power to put restrictions to buy properties till "Housing for all" is achieved". In this regard the bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice Abdul Quddhose has asked the Central govt why it has not initially prohibited the purchase of more than one housing unit in urban area viz., Corporation/Municipality/Town Panchayat limits. The court said that even though the Right to own property by citizens is a constitutional right under Article 300A, people must understand that accumulating multiple properties affects housing prices, leading to further deprivation of the unprivileged section of the society.

Tripura High Court

Can't Withhold Name Of Candidate Found Suitable For Judicial Service, Says Tripura HC; Directs RG To Recommend Candidate's Name For Post Of ADJ Lying Vacant [Yoginder Pal v. High Court of Tripura]

Emphasizing that the high court could not have withheld the name of a candidate for appointment to Tripura Judicial Service Grade-I without any specific reasons, the Tripura High Court has directed its Registrar General to recommend the name of a candidate to the state government for appointment to a post of Additional District and Sessions Judge lying vacant. A bench of Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Arindam Lodh also said the full court cannot make a second opinion on the merits of the candidate once his suitability has been judged through written and oral examinations.

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