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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up [14th February to 21st February 2021]

Nupur Thapliyal
23 Feb 2021 4:01 AM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up [14th February to 21st February 2021]
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Live Law (LL) Citation Count Crossed Its 100 Mark Within Just 52 Days Into 2021 This Week.

JUDGMENTS THIS WEEK1. Subsequent Purchaser Can Also Challenge Readiness & Willingness Of Plaintiff In A Specific Performance Suit: Supreme CourtCASE: KADUPUGOTLA VARALAKSHMI v. VUDAGIRI VENKATA RAOCITATION: LL 2021 SC 104The Apex Court bench comprising Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph observed that subsequent purchaser of the suit property can challenge...

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JUDGMENTS THIS WEEK

1. Subsequent Purchaser Can Also Challenge Readiness & Willingness Of Plaintiff In A Specific Performance Suit: Supreme Court

CASE: KADUPUGOTLA VARALAKSHMI v. VUDAGIRI VENKATA RAO
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 104

The Apex Court bench comprising Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph observed that subsequent purchaser of the suit property can challenge the readiness and willingness on part of the plaintiff in a specific performance suit.

The Bench noted that the principles laid down in the judgment in Jugraj Singh judgment were not approved in Ram Awadh (Dead) vs.Achhaibar Dubey [(2000) 2 SCC428].

"It is open to any defendant to contend and establish that he mandatory requirement of Section 16(c) has not been complied with and it is for the court to determine whether it has or has not been complied with and, depending upon its conclusion, decree or decline to decree the suit." The court observed.

2. Suspicion, However Strong Cannot Take The Place Of Proof: Supreme Court Upholds Acquittal Of Murder Accused

CASE: State of Odisha vs. Banabihari Mohapatra [Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.1156/2021]
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 103

The bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Hemant Gupta reiterated that suspicion, however strong cannot take the place of proof.

"It is well settled by a plethora of judicial pronouncement of this Court that suspicion[, however strong cannot take the place of proof. An accused is presumed to be innocent unless proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt." the court observed.

The court added that, before a case against an accused can be said to be fully established on circumstantial evidence, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn must fully be established and the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt of the accused.

3. Selections To Public Employment Should Be On The Basis Of Merit: Supreme Court

CASE: Anmol Kumar Tiwari vs. State of Jharkhand [Civil Appeal Nos. 429-430 of 2021]
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 102

The Apex Court bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Indira Banerjee observed that the selections to public employment should be on the basis of merit.

"Appointment of persons with lesser merit ignoring those who have secured more marks would be in violation of the Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India." The Court observed while agreeing with the High Court.

In this case, the appointees to the posts of Police Sub-Inspectors, Attendants (Sergeant) and Company Commanders by the Home Department of the Government of Jharkhand were terminated on the ground that the select list was prepared wrongly by ignoring merit of candidates and by giving undue importance to the preferences given by them. Allowing the writ petition filed by these appointees who were terminated, the Jharkhand High Court observed that they cannot be held responsible for the irregularities committed by the authorities in the matter of their selection and there is no allegation of fraud or misrepresentation on their part. The High Court dismissed these applications.

4. Parties Who Privately Agree To Settle Disputes Without Court Intervention U/s 89 CPC Also Entitled To Refund Of Court Fee: Supreme Court

Case: High Court of Judicature at Madras vs. M.C. Subramaniam [SLP (CIVIL) NOS. 3063­3064 OF 2021]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 97

The bench comprising Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran held that the parties who privately agree to settle their dispute outside the modes contemplated under Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure are also entitled to refund of Court fees.

"The narrow interpretation of Section 89 of CPC and Section 69­A of the 1955 Act sought to be imposed by the Petitioner would lead to an outcome wherein parties who are referred to a Mediation Centre or other centres by the Court will be entitled to a full refund of their court fee; whilst parties who similarly save the Court's time and resources by privately settling their dispute themselves will be deprived of the same benefit, simply because they did not require the Court's interference to seek a settlement. Such an interpretation, in our opinion, clearly leads to an absurd and unjust outcome, where two classes of parties who are equally facilitating the object and purpose of the aforesaid provisions are treated differentially, with one class being deprived of the benefit of Section 69­A of the 1955 Act." The Court observed.

5. Consent Decree Would Not Serve As An Estoppel Where The Compromise Was Vitiated By Fraud, Misrepresentation, Or Mistake: Supreme Court

CASE: COMPACK ENTERPRISES INDIA (P) LTD. vs. BEANT SINGH
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 93

The bench comprising Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran observed that a consent decree would not serve as an estoppel, where the compromise was vitiated by fraud, misrepresentation, or mistake.

It was also observed that consent decrees are intended to create estoppels by judgment against the parties, thereby putting an end to further litigation between the parties and therefore it it would be slow to unilaterally interfere in, modify, substitute or modulate the terms of a consent decree, unless it is done with the revised consent of all the parties thereto. 

6. Prior Knowledge Of Senior Secondary Level Biology Or Biological Science Is Essential For Admission To MBBS Course: Supreme Court

CASE: KALOJI NARAYANA RAO UNIVERSITY OF HEALTH SCIENCES vs. SRIKEERTI REDDI PINGLE [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 390 OF 2021]
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 90

The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that prior knowledge - both theoretical and practical, of senior secondary level in biology or biological sciences is an essential qualification to get admission to MBBS Course.

The Court also observed that equivalence in qualification is not merely at the level of a 10+2 requirement, but MCI regulation requires equivalence in 'standard and scope' in an examination where the candidate is tested in Physics, Chemistry and Biology including practical testing in these subjects, along with English.

7. Pre-Deposit For Filing Appeals Before DRAT Is A Mandatory Requirement: Supreme Court

CASE: Kotak Mahindra Bank Pvt. Limited vs. Ambuj A. Kasliwal [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 538 OF 2021]
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 89

The Apex Court bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian observed that entire waiver of pre-­deposit for filing appeal before Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal under Section 21 of the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act, is impermissible. In all cases fifty per cent of the decretal amount i.e. the debt due is to be deposited before the DRAT as a mandatory requirement, but in appropriate cases for reasons to be recorded the deposit of at least twenty-five per cent of the debt due would be permissible, but not entire waiver.

"In all cases fifty per cent of the decretal amount i.e. the debt due is to be deposited before the DRAT as a mandatory requirement, but in appropriate cases for reasons to be recorded the deposit of at least twenty-five per cent of the debt due would be permissible, but not entire waiver. Therefore, any waiver of pre­deposit to the entire extent would be against the statutory provisions and, therefore, not sustainable in law. The order of the High Court is, therefore, liable to be set aside." The bench observed.

8. Supreme Court Confirms Life Imprisonment For Remainder Of Natural Life Awarded To Man Accused Of Murdering Two Kids

CASE: GAURI SHANKAR vs. STATE OF PUNJAB [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 135 OF 2021]
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 88

The bench comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi onfirmed punishment of life imprisonment for remainder of natural life awarded to a man accused of murdering two kids by administering celphos to them.

Gauri Shankar was found guilty for murder of two minor children aged 4 years and 2 years in brutal manner by administering celphos to them. The Trial Court convicted him under Section 302 IPC and punished him with imprisonment for life which would mean remainder of natural life and fine of Rs.5000/­ by judgment dated 1st July, 2013. The High Court dismissed his appeal.

9. Timeline For Pronouncement Of Judgment Prescribed In Order XX CPC Does Not Apply To High Courts: Supreme Court

CASE: SJVNL VS. M/S CCC HIM JV [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 494 OF 2021]
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 87

Apex Court comprising of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai observed that timeline for pronouncement of judgment prescribed in Order XX of the Code of Civil Procedure does not apply to the High Court.

"It is true, that for the High Courts, no period for pronouncement of judgment is contemplated either under the Code of Civil Procedure or the Criminal Procedure Code, but as the pronouncement of the judgment is a part of justice dispensation system, it has to be without delay. In a country like ours where people consider the Judges only second to God, efforts be made to strengthen that belief of the common man. Delay in disposal of the cases facilitates the people to raise eye-brows, some time genuinely which, if not checked, may shake the confidence of the people in the judicial system." The bench held.

10. 'Not Proper To Keep Him In Jail Forever': Supreme Court Reduces Sentence Imposed On Dacoity Cum Murder Convict To 22 Years Imprisonment

CASE: SHIVALINGA @ SHIVALINGAYYA vs STATE OF KARNATAKA [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1186 OF 2018
CITATION : LL 2021 SC 98

The bench comprising of Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran reduced the sentence imposed on a man convicted in a dacoity­ cum­ murder case to 22 years actual imprisonment.

Shivalinga @ Shivalingayya was convicted under Sections 396 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to death penalty by the Trial Court. The Karnataka High Court, partly allowing appeal, converted the death sentence to imprisonment for life. Shivalinga and other accused were accused of attacking the driver and cleaner of a lorry which resulted in cleaner's death.

11. Banks Duty-Bound To Exercise Due Diligence In Maintaining And Operating Their Locker Facility: Supreme Court Issues Guidelines

CASE: Amitabha Dasgupta vs. United Bank of India [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3966 OF 2010]
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 101

The Bench comprising Justices Mohan M. Shanthanagoudar and Vineet Saran observed that the banks owe a duty of care to exercise due diligence in maintaining and operating their locker or safety deposit systems and that they cannot contract out of the minimum standard of care in this regard. The banks cannot wash off their hands and claim that they bear no liability towards their customers for the operation of the locker. 

The Court while issuing slew of directions held that irrespective of the value of the articles placed inside the locker, the bank is under a separate obligation to ensure that proper procedures are followed while allotting and operating the lockers.

IMPORTANT APEX COURT UPDATES

1. Supreme Court Grants Five Days Interim Bail For Siddique Kappan To Visit His Ailing Mother

Supreme Court bench led by CJI SA Bobde last week allowed the interim bail application filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists, seeking release of journalist Siddique Kappan, citing critical health condition of his 90 years old bed-ridden mother and her last wish to see her son.

"It is submitted that the mother is said to be in a critical situation and that she is likely not to survive for many days. In these circumstances, we consider it appropriate to permit Kappan to visit his mother and return to prison at the end of the 5th day," the bench ordered.

2. Supreme Court Closes Suo Moto Case Taken To Probe "Larger Conspiracy" Behind Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Ex-CJI Gogoi

Supreme Court bench Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian closed the the suo moto proceedings which were instituted to examine if there was a "larger conspiracy" behind the allegations of sexual harassment against the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

The bench observed that enquiry panel headed by former SC judge Justice AK Patnaik has submitted a report opining that a conspiracy behind the sexual harassment allegations cannot be "ruled out". The report also surmised that certain tough stances taken by ex-CJI Gogoi during his tenure could have triggered the allegations. The report also referred to an Intelligence Bureau input that several persons were unhappy with Justice Gogoi for driving the Assam-NRC process.

3. 'How Can We Coerce Someone To Give Consent For Physical Hearing?', Supreme Court On Omar Abdullah's Plea Against Delhi HC Circular

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde adjourned by two weeks a plea filed by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah against a Delhi High Court order which dismissed his challenge to the High Court circular mandating consent from both parties before a matter could be taken up for final hearing during the Court's restricted functioning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abdullah is seeking final hearing of the matrimonial appeal filed by him in 2016 in the Delhi High Court, against the refusal of the Family Court to grant him a decree of divorce against his estranged wife Payal Abdullah. In 2018, Abdullah had filed an application in the appeal saying that he wanted to re-marry and sought divorce on the ground that his marriage had irretrievably broken down.

4. 'Portrayal Of Conflicts Between Communities Not An Offence' : Journalist Patricia Mukhim Seeks Quashing Of FIR; SC Reserves Judgment

The Supreme Court last week reserved its judgement in the petition filed by Shillong Times Editor Patricia Mukhim challenging the refusal of the Meghalaya High Court to quash criminal proceedings against her over a Facebook post on violence against non-tribal people in State.

The plea had contended that the Meghalaya High Court had passed an erroneous order wherein it had ignored settled precedent and declined to exercise powers vested in in under Section 482 Cr.PC.. The High Court allegedly allowed "victimisation, persecution, abuse of process of law and also stifling of the fundamental rights of the Petitioner under Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution of India by dismissing Mukhim's challenge to the FIR.

5. Gross Delays In Revenue Appeals: Supreme Court Suggests To Centre A Consolidated, Pan-India Online Portal To Monitor Litigations

A bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah recommended that the Union Finance Ministry come up with a pan-India online portal where all collectors and commissioners are linked with the CESTAT, showing the stage of proceedings, the orders passed, the deadline for filing the appeal, so as to provide for a monitoring mechanism.

Justice Chandrachud noted that the Supreme Court is getting appeals from the High Court and the CESTAT directly. The judge explained that the E-Committee of the Supreme Court has inculcated a system of open APIs, where all links for the government authorities are available and data can be directly retrieved as regards all judgements. "You are aware of your litigation everywhere. There is no need for an application for a certified copy. Now, the CESTAT is not part of our Case Information System, but as part of the E-committee of the Supreme Court, we have done it for the judiciary, for 17,000 courts across the country.", he elaborated.

6. "Wait For The UPSC Extra Chance Judgment"; Supreme Court Adjourns Plea Seeking Extra Opportunity For Candidates Who Exhausted Last Attempt In JEE Advanced In 2020

Supreme Court last week adjourned the petition seeking for an extra opportunity for candidates who had exhausted their last attempt in JEE Advanced in 2020 and had faced difficulties on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bench proceeded to direct the Counsel for the Petitioner to wait the reserved judgement in the matter pertaining to seeking an extra chance for UPSC candidates who had exhausted all their attempts in October 2020.

7. Facebook Vs Delhi Assembly- State Assemblies Cannot Deal With Issues Demanding National Response: Centre Tells Supreme Court

The Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta representing the Central Government last week informed the Supreme Court that the problem emerging from social mediums like Facebook and Twitter is an "uncontrollable global problem" which cannot be legislated by State Assemblies. He also told the Court that such an issue of global importance has to be examined on a national level by a national body namely the Parliament.

The submission came while a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice S.K. Kaul, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari was hearing the challenge made by Facebook India Vice President Ajit Mohan to the summons issued by the Delhi Assembly panel to enquire into the role of social media behind Delhi riots.

Also Read: 'Hate Speech And Disinformation On Facebook A Global Concern' : Dhavan Defends Delhi Assembly Summons To FB Vice President

8. Supreme Court Adjourns State Of Odisha's Contempt Plea Against Andhra Pradesh Over Kotiya Villages Dispute

The Supreme Court last week adjourned by four weeks a contempt plea filed by the State of Odisha alleging that the former had taken over certain villages belonging to the former in violation of an order of the Apex Court.

A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar considered the request for adjournment of Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, with Advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki, appearing on behalf of Andhra Pradesh, having no objection to the same.


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