Supreme Court Monthly Digest of Cases (September 2016)

Supreme Court Monthly Digest of Cases (September 2016)

Contempt of Courts

In Gyani Chand vs. State of A.P, three-judge Bench comprising Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice L. Nageswara Rao also observed that it would not be fair on the part of a court to give a direction to do something which is impossible and if a person has been asked to do something which is impossible and if he fails to do so, he cannot be held guilty of contempt.

Section 15, Contempt of Courts Act : In Vilas V. Sanghai vs. Sumermal Mishrimal Bafna & Anr., it has been held that, if the criminal contempt was of a subordinate Court, the High Court could have taken action only on a reference made to it by the subordinate Court or on a Motion made by the Advocate General and not in pursuance of an application submitted by any other person, that too without obtaining consent of Advocate General.

Contract Act

The Supreme Court in Union of India & Anr. Vs. M/S Indusind Bank Ltd., held that the 1997 amendment to the Indian Contract Act, which made certain agreements covered by Section 28(b) of the Act void, operates prospectively.

Copyrights Act

The Supreme Court in International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) vs. Aditya Pandey & Ors, upheld a Delhi High Court order which had held that event organisers need not secure a licence from lyricists and musicians for playing the song in public even after it has paid for the broadcasting of the song to sound recording company. The Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court order in view of the fact that the suit was filed in 2006, before introduction Sub-Section 10 of Section 19 of the Copyright Act.

Court Fees Act

In Cardamom Marketing Corporation & Anr. Vs. State of Kerala & Ors., the Apex Court observed that providing social security to the legal profession becomes an essential part of any legal system which has to be effective, efficient and robust to enable it to provide necessary service to the consumers of justice. The Court has upheld levy of additional court fee in respect of each appeal or revision before the tribunals and appellate authorities by or under special or local law, at the rate of 0.5% of the amount involved in the dispute in cases, where it is capable of valuation, and at the rate of ₹50 in other.

Criminal Procedure Code

In Youth Bar Association of India Vs Union of India and Others, the Apex Court issued 10 important Guidelines on First Information Report. the copies of the FIRs, unless the offence is sensitive in nature, like sexual offences, offences pertaining to insurgency, terrorism and of that category, offences under POCSO Act and such other offences, should be uploaded on the police website, and if there is no such website, on the official website of the State Government, within 24 hours of the registration of the First Information Report so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file appropriate application before the Court as per law for redressal of his grievances

Section 301 & 302 CrPC- in Dhariwal Industries Ltd. vs. Kishore Wadhwani & Ors, it has been held that Section 302 CrPC confers power on a magistrate to grant permission to the complainant to conduct the prosecution independently. The court also made it clear that the said provision applies to every stage, including the stage of framing charge.

Section 482/397 CrPC- In Prabhu Chawla vs State of Rajasthan, it has been clarified that the availability of remedy under Section 397 CrPC would not make a petition under Section 482 CrPC not maintainable.

Section 197-CrPC-A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in L. Narayana Swamy vs. State of Karnataka held that a Magistrate cannot order further investigation under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure in relation to public servant in the absence of valid sanction.

In State of UP vs. Chandra, the Court held that while examining an appeal filed against the finding of acquittal of the accused on the charge framed against him, the high court is required to consider the case on merits and pass a reasoned order.

Section 202(1) – In Arun Purie vs. JayakumarHiremath, the Bench observed that from the materials on record, it appears that the accused appellants in the present appeals have and maintain residence beyond the local jurisdiction of the trial court. The Bench held that under the provisions of Section 202(1) CrPC, it was,   therefore, mandatory for the learned magistrate to hold an inquiry either by himself or   direct an investigation by the police prior to the issuance of process.

Evidence Act

Section 157: In SPS Rathore vs. CBI and others, the Court also held that, for the purpose of Section 157 of Indian Evidence Act, to make a person an authority legally competent to investigate, it is not necessary that he should be having authority which flows from a statute. It is sufficient that such person was authorised legally by the state government to investigate the matter.

About Handwriting expert evidence, Supreme Court said that, courts should be wary to give too much weight to the evidence of handwriting expert. “It can rarely, if ever, take the place of substantive evidence. Before acting on such evidence, it is usual to see if it is corroborated either by clear, direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence.”

Motor Accident Claims

In Sandhya Rani Debbarma & Ors. Vs. The National Insurance Company Ltd. & Anr, the Court has observed that determining the compensation under different heads such as loss of estate, funeral expenses, loss of consortium etc. is crucial while computing award of compensation due to dependants of the deceased in motor accidents.

In Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Shashi Sharma, the Court has held that amount received or receivable by dependants of the deceased (who died in a motor accident) from the employer by way of ex gratia financial assistance on compassionate grounds can be deducted from the quantum of compensation fixed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) under the head “pay and other allowances”.

Negotiable Instruments Act

Section 138: The Supreme Court on Monday held the dishonour of a post-dated cheque given for repayment of loan instalment, which is also described as “security” in the loan agreement, is covered by Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

Penal Code

Section 354 IPC- in SPS Rathore vs. CBI and others, it has been held that, to constitute the offence under Section 354 of the IPC, mere knowledge that the modesty of a woman is likely to be outraged is sufficient without any deliberate intention of having such outrage alone for its object. Read more here

Section 302 RPC R/w Section 34 RPC- in Ghulam Mohi-Ud-Din Wani vs. State of Jammu & Kashmir, it was observed that that the absence of active participation in murder should go into the judicial determination of the question of appropriate punishment.

Death penalty set aside-This month, the Supreme Court has set aside death penalty imposed on murder convicts in seven cases. Of this seven cases, six cases were decided by the Bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi and one by Justice J. Chelameswar. In two cases, the Apex Court set free the accused acquitting them of all charges and in two cases, the accused were acquitted of murder charges, and in the rest of the cases, the convictions were upheld, but death penalty was commuted. Read detailed coverage by Live Law on this aspect here.

Section 120B vis-à-vis Section 109 IPC -A Division Bench of the Supreme Court has expressed divergent views on Somasundaram vs. State. According to Justice Gopala Gowda, Once the charge under Section 120B of IPC falls, in order to convict the accused appellants under Section 302 read with Section 109 IPC, or Section 365 read with Section 109 IPC, what was needed to be established was the happening of some overt act on the part of the accused appellants. Justice Arun Mishra observed that no benefit can be obtained by acquittal under section 120B IPC and the same would not adversely impinge upon the ingredients of section 109 IPC and other sections.

Section 302 IPC- Pankaj vs. State of Rajasthan, it is observed that, though motive is not sine qua non for the conviction of the accused, the effect of not proving motive raises a suspicion in the mind.

Section 499 IPC- InM.L. Wadhawan vs. Zunzarrao Bhikaji Nagarkar and others, the Supreme Court quashed a defamation case against a retired high ranking Customs Officer who allegedly made derogatory and disparaging imputations in a complaint he filed on behalf of his client, before the Customs Authority.

Section 304A IPC- In Abdul Sharif vs. State of Haryana directed the Centre to consider stricter penalties for mishaps that occur due to rash and negligent driving as the current provisions were found to be inadequate to deter such nonchalance causing grave consequences

Section 124A IPC- In Common Cause vs. Union of India, SC issued a direction to all the concerned authorities to follow the Constitutional bench judgment in Kedar Nath v State of Bihar (1962) which limited the scope of Sedition Law (Section 124A) in India. The Supreme Court has said that all authorities would be bound by the Kedar Nath judgment when dealing with cases of sedition.

Rent Control

The Supreme Court in Gulshera Khanam vs. Aftab Ahmad, held that any woman, married or unmarried, who has a legal right of residence in the building, is also included in the definition of “family” in relation to landlord, and is entitled to seek eviction of the tenant from such building for her bonafide need.

Labour Laws

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in A. Satyanarayana Reddy &ors. vs. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Guntur &ors., held that even though there is cessation of relationship between the employee and the employer, if the Voluntary Retirement Scheme does not cover past dues like lay-off compensation, subsistence allowance, etc., the workman who has availed of the scheme would be entitled to approach the Labour Court under Section 33C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

The Supreme Court in State Bank of India & Ors. Vs. Neelam Nag, held that pendency of a criminal case against an employee cannot be the sole basis to suspend the disciplinary proceedings initiated against him/her for an indefinite period.

Land Acquisition

The Supreme Court in Delhi Development Authority vs. Sukhbir Singh & Ors., observed that persons whose property is expropriated by the state need to be paid immediately so as to enable them to rehabilitate. 

Taxation Laws

In Larsen & Toubro Limited Vs. Additional Deputy Commissioner Of Commercial Taxes & Anr, it has been held that the value of the work entrusted to the sub-contractors or payments made to them shall not be taken into consideration while computing total turnover for the purposes of Section 6-B of the Karnataka Sales Tax Act.

Miscellaneous

‘Encroachers’ Of Defence Land Have No Right To Vote In Cantonment Board Elections

The Supreme Court in Cantonment Board, Panchamarhi vs. Gopal Das Kabra & Ors held that persons who are living in the cantonment area in illegally constructed houses, which are not assigned any number, will not be entitled for inclusion in the electoral roll to be prepared in accordance with Rule 10 (3) of the Cantonment Rules.

Family Pension Not Part of Anyone’s Estate to Be Disposed of in Will

The Supreme Court in Nitu vs. Sheela Rani, held that family pension does not form part of the estate of the deceased and it is to be given under the provisions of the relevant pension scheme.

Hiring Of Middlemen to Get Farmers’ Land for Cooperative Society Can’t Be Allowed

The Supreme Court in R. RAJASHEKAR AND ORS. VS. TRINITY HOUSE BUILDING CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY AND ORS., observed that the concept of hiring middlemen to get lands of poor agricultural workers acquired by the state government in favour of a Cooperative Society is abhorrent and cannot be granted the sanction of law.

SC Stays Mandatory Use of Aadhaar for Scholarship Schemes

All Bengal Minority Students Council moved the Supreme Court in a civil writ petition in which Gopala Gowda and Adarsh Kumar Goel, JJ directed Ministry of Electronics and Information to remove Aadhaar number as a mandatory condition for student Registration form at the National Scholarship Portal on the government’s website.

 Implementation of sterilisation programme across the country.

On a public interest litigation filed by prominent health right activist Devika Biswas, the Supreme Court issued certain directions to the Centre and states in the matter of implementation of sterilisation programme across the country.

Block keywords pertaining to pre natal sex determination

The Supreme Court observed that internet search engines Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! are under obligation to see that the “doctrine of autoblock” is applied within a reasonable period of time to prohibit any attempt to search any keyword pertaining to pre-natal sex determination.

Are You Framing National Health Policy or Not: SC Asks Centre

On a public interest litigation filed by prominent health right activist Devika Biswas, the Supreme Court issued certain directions to the Centre and states in the matter of implementation of sterilisation programme across the country.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.