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Supreme Court Monthly Digest: January 2021

Akshita Saxena
24 Feb 2021 4:04 AM GMT
Supreme Court Monthly Digest: January 2021
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Judgments/ Order: 1. Supreme Court Upholds Centre's Plan For The Central Vista Project by 2:1 Majority, Justice Khanna Dissents [Case: Rajeev Suri v. DDA & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 1] Order dated January 5, 2021 The Supreme Court upheld the Central Government's plan for construction of the Central Vista project and the government's proposal to construct a new Parliament...

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Judgments/ Order:

1. Supreme Court Upholds Centre's Plan For The Central Vista Project by 2:1 Majority, Justice Khanna Dissents

[Case: Rajeev Suri v. DDA & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 1]

Order dated January 5, 2021

The Supreme Court upheld the Central Government's plan for construction of the Central Vista project and the government's proposal to construct a new Parliament in Lutyen's Delhi. A Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna pronounced the judgement, with Justices Khanwilkar and Maheshwari forming the majority, and with Justice Khanna pronouncing a separate judgement.

"We cannot be called upon to govern. For, we have no wherewithal or prowess and expertise in that regard," remarked the Judges in majority. Justice Khanna on the other hand expressed dissent on the aspects of public participation on interpretation of the statutory provisions, failure to take prior approval of the Heritage Conservation Committee and the order passed by the Expert Appraisal Committee.

Also Read: Central Vista- Lack Of Public Consultation, No Approval From HCC, Non Speaking Order Granting Environment Clearance: Justice Sanjiv Khanna In His Dissent

Also Read: 'We Cannot Be Called Upon To Govern. For We Have No Wherewithal or Prowess And Expertise In That Regard': Supreme Court In Central Vista Case

2. Absolute Devotion, Integrity And Honesty Is A Sine Qua Non For Every Bank Employee: Supreme Court Upholds Dismissal Of A Bank Clerk

[Case: Deputy General Manager (Appellate Authority) & Ors. v. Ajai Kumar Srivastava; Citation: LL 2021 SC 2]

Order dated January 5, 2021

In banking business absolute devotion, integrity and honesty is a sine qua non for every bank employee, observed a bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi while upholding dismissal of a bank employee.

"It requires the employee to maintain good conduct and discipline and he deals with money of the depositors and the customers and if it is not observed, the confidence of the public/depositors would be impaired. It is for this additional reason, we are of the opinion that the High Court has committed an apparent error in setting aside the order of dismissal of the respondent dated 24th July, 1999 confirmed in departmental appeal by order dated 15th November, 1999," the Court observed.

Access full report to read observations regarding power of judicial review in the matter of disciplinary proceedings

3. Motor Accident Compensation- Future Prospects Can Be Granted Even In Cases Pertaining To Notional Income: Supreme Court

[Case: Kirti v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 3]

Order dated January 5, 2021

A bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant held that future prospects can be granted even in cases pertaining to notional income. The court observed thus while disposing an appeal arising out of Motor Accident Compensation Claim filed by heirs of a deceased couple who died in an accident. In this case, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal awarded a total sum of Rs 40.71 lakhs for both deceased to the claimants. Partly allowing the appeal filed by Insurance Company, the High Court reversed the addition of future prospects.

Disagreeing with this approach, the Top Court observed: "Given how both deceased were below 40 years and how they have not been established to be permanent employees, future prospects to the tune of 40% must be paid. The argument that no such future prospects ought to be allowed for those with notional income, is both incorrect in law and without merit considering the constant inflation ­induced increase in wages."

Also Read: Conception That House Makers Do Not "Work" Or That They Do Not Add Economic Value To The Household Is A Problematic Idea

Also Read: Advocates Cannot Throw­away Legal Rights Or Enter Into Arrangements Contrary To Law

4. Governing Body Of College Is The Proper Authority To Appoint Administrative Staffs Of A College

[Case: Chairperson Governing Body Daulat Ram College v. Dr. Asha; Citation: LL 2021 SC 4]

Order dated January 5, 2021

A bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice M.R. Shah observed that it is the Governing Body of a College which has the authority to appoint the administrative staffs of a College.

"The Principal, however, who is entrusted the over all internal administration of the College is a person who knows all the staff of the College and his/her recommendation with regard to appointment of Warden of the College Hostel is to carry weight. The Governing Body while making appointment of Warden of the College Hostel has to give due weight to the recommendation of Principal", the Court observed.

5. Acceptance Of A Conditional Offer With A Further Condition Does Not Result In A Concluded Contract

[Case: M/s. Padia Timber Company(P) Ltd. v. Board of Trustees of Visakhapatnam Port Trust; Citation: LL 2021 SC 5]

Order dated January 5, 2021

When the acceptor puts in a new condition while accepting the contract already signed by the proposer, the contract is not complete until the proposer accepts that condition, a bench comprising Justices Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee observed.

"It is a cardinal principle of the law of contract that the offer and acceptance of an offer must be absolute. It can give no room for doubt. The offer and acceptance must be based or founded on three components, that is, certainty, commitment and communication. However, when the acceptor puts in a new condition while accepting the contract already signed by the proposer, the contract is not complete until the proposer accepts that condition, as held by this Court in Haridwar Singh v. Bagun Sumbrui and Ors. An acceptance with a variation is no acceptance. It is, in effect and substance, simply a counter proposal which must be accepted fully by the original proposer, before a contract is made," the Bench said.

6. Supreme Court Acquits Man Who Was Sentenced To Death In A Dacoity With Murder Case

[Case Title: Hari Om @ Hero v. State Of UP; Citation: LL 2021 SC 6]

Order dated January 5, 2021

A bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Krishna Murari acquitted a man who was sentenced to death in a dacoity with murder case. It observed that it is not safe to rely on the version given by the child witness [youngest son of the deceased] in the instant case, who was about five years of age when the incident had occurred. The court, on reappreciating the evidence on record, noted that there are certain inconsistencies or infirmities in his deposition.

The court observed that there is no material on record sufficient to record conviction of accused Hari Om for the offence under Section 396 IPC, and he must be held entitled to benefit of doubt.

7. High Court's Power Under Article 226/227 To Interfere With Arbitration Process Needs To Be Exercised In Exceptional Rarity

[Case: Bhaven Construction v. Executive Engineer Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam; Citation: LL 2021 SC 7]

Order dated January 6, 2021

A bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy observed that the power of the High Courts under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India to interfere with an arbitration process needs to be exercised in exceptional rarity, wherein one party is left remediless under the statute or a clear 'bad faith' shown by one of the parties. "If the Courts are allowed to interfere with the arbitral process beyond the ambit of the enactment, then the efficiency of the process will be diminished," the Court said.

It added, "The Arbitration Act itself gives various procedures and forums to challenge the appointment of an arbitrator. The framework clearly portrays an intention to address most of the issues within the ambit of the Act itself, without there being scope for any extra statutory mechanism to provide just and fair solutions."

8. An Accused Who Was Released On Default Bail Cannot Be Re-arrested On Filing Of Charge Sheet

[Case: Kamlesh Chaudhary v. State of Rajasthan; Citation: LL 2021 SC 8]

Order dated January 5, 2021

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Navin Sinha and Indu Malhotra held that an accused who was released on default bail cannot be re-arrested on filing of charge-sheet by police. Reliance was placed on Bashir v. State of Haryana [(1977) 4 SCC 410] wherein it was held that it is open to the prosecution to file an application for cancellation of bail on the grounds known to law and the receipt of the charge sheet in Court can by itself be no ground for cancellation of bail.

9. Constitutional Challenge Can Be Addressed Before High Court': Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Provisions Of GST Act

[Case: Devendra Dwivedi v. Union of India; Citation: LL 2021 SC 9]

Order dated January 7, 2021

A Bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna declined to entertain a writ petition challenging constitutional validity of various provisions of the Central Goods Service Tax Act, 2017. "We are of the view that it would be appropriate to relegate the petitioner to the remedy of a petition under Article 226 so that this Court has the benefit of the considered view of the jurisdictional High Court," the Court observed.

"The petitioners have an efficacious remedy in the form of proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution to challenge the constitutional validity of the provisions of the statute which are placed in issue," the Court made it clear.

10. Managing A Construction Project Is Not Within The Jurisdiction Of Courts Supreme Court

[Case: Shelly Lal v. Union Of India; Citation: LL 2021 SC 10]

Order dated January 7, 2021

Managing a construction project is not within the jurisdiction of the court, bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indira Banerjee and Sanjeev Khanna observed while declining to entertain a writ petition filed by 25 customers of a construction project. The petitioners sought a direction for the revival of the project or refund of the money, and a court monitored probe in the matter. Taking note of the prayers made, the observed:

"Essentially, the writ petition requires the Court to step into the construction project and to ensure that it is duly completed. This would be beyond the remit and competence of the Court under Article 32. Managing a construction project is not within the jurisdiction of the court."

The court observed that several provisions of law confer statutory rights on purchasers of real estate and invest them with remedies enforceable at law. "These include the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016 and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016. Parliament has enacted a statutory regime to protect the rights of purchasers of real estate and created fora which are entrusted with decision making authority", the Court added.

11. Fact Of Amicable Settlement Can Be A Relevant Factor For Purpose Of Reducing Quantum Of Sentence

[Case: Murali v. State; Citation: LL 2021 SC 11]

Order dated January 5, 2021

A Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose observed that the fact of amicable settlement can be a relevant factor for the purpose of reduction in the quantum of sentence. The court also noticed that 1) parties to the dispute have mutually buried their hatchet 2) That at the time of the incident, the victim was a college student, and both accused too were no older than 20­22 years 3) They have no other criminal antecedents, no previous enmity, and today are married and have children 4) They have served a significant portion of their sentences.

"Considering all these unique factors, including the compromise between the parties, we deem it appropriate to reduce the quantum of the sentence imposed on the appellants," the bench said while reducing the sentence.

12. Munsiff Magistrate Selection- Vacancies Attributable To 2020 Cannot Be Filled Up From The List Drawn For Previous Selection Year: SC Sets Aside Kerala HC Judgment

[Case: High Court of Kerala v. Reshma A.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 12]

Order dated January 11, 2021

A Division bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee set aside the judgment of the Kerala High Court which directed filling up of additional vacancies of Munsiff-Magistrate posts from the current rank list, over and above the notified vacancies.

"Vacancies for 2020 must be allocated to candidates who are duly selected in pursuance of the recruitment process for 2020. Candidates who have ranked lower in the 2019 selection and were unable to obtain appointments cannot appropriate the vacancies of a subsequent year to themselves," the Court observed. It further observed that, to allow the concept of probable number of vacancies in Rule 7(1) of Kerala Judicial Service Rules to trench upon future vacancies which will arise in a succeeding year would lead to a "serious constitutional infraction".

13. The Ground That Allegations Of Fraud Are Not Arbitrable Is A Wholly Archaic View, Deserves To Be Discarded: Supreme Court

[Case: NN Global Mercantile Pvt. Ltd v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 13]

Order dated January 11, 2021

The ground that allegations of fraud are not arbitrable is a wholly archaic view, which has become obsolete, and deserves to be discarded, a Bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee observed. It observed thus while holding that the allegations of fraud with respect to the invocation of the Bank Guarantee are arbitrable, since it arises out of disputes between parties inter se, and is not in the realm of public law.

If it is clear that a civil dispute involves questions of fraud, misrepresentation, etc. which can be the subject matter of a proceeding under Section 17 of the Indian Contract, 1872, and/or the tort of deceit, the mere fact that criminal proceedings can or have been instituted in respect of the same subject matter, would not lead to the conclusion that a dispute which is otherwise arbitrable, ceases to be so, the Court noted the legal position as held in many judgments including in the recent judgment in Vidya Drolia & Ors. v. Durga Trading Corporation.

Also Read: Whether Non-Payment Of Stamp Duty On Commercial Contract Will Invalidate Arbitration Agreement? Supreme Court Refers Issue To Constitution Bench

14. 'Entirely Illegal Construction': Supreme Court Directs Demolition Of A Hotel-cum-Restaurant Built In Forest Land In Himachal Pradesh

[Case: Himachal Pradesh Bus Stand Management & Development Authority v. Central Empowered Committee; Citation: LL 2021 SC 14]

Order dated January 12, 2021

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee dismissed an appeal filed by Himachal Pradesh Bus Stand Management and Development Authority and the NGT order directing demolition of a Hotel-cum-Restaurant in the Bus Stand Complex at McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh. The bench discussed the concept of Environmental rule of law and also the role of courts in ensuring environmental protection. The court said that the environmental rule of law, at a certain level, is a facet of the concept of the rule of law.

In this case, NGT had found that the Bus Stand Complex seriously disturbs the ecology of the area in which it has been constructed and also violates the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act. It directed the authority to pay a compensation of Rs. 15 lacs in terms of Sections 15 and 17 of the NGT Act; and a compensation of Rs. 10 lacs. The State of Himachal Pradesh and its Department of Tourism was directed to pay a compensation of Rs. 5 lacs each. The Tribunal had also ordered an enquiry to be conducted against the officers of the Authority.

15. Incorporation Of One-sided And Unreasonable Clauses In Apartment Buyer's Agreement Constitutes An 'Unfair Trade Practice': Supreme Court

[Case: Ireo Grace Realtech Pvt. Ltd. v. Abhishek Khanna; Citation: LL 2021 SC 14A]

Order dated January 11, 2021

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee held that the incorporation of one-sided and unreasonable clauses in the Apartment Buyer's Agreement constitutes an unfair trade practice under Section 2(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act. It also observed that the Developer cannot compel the apartment buyers to be bound by the one-sided contractual terms contained in the Apartment Buyer's Agreement.

The Court held thus while disposing an appeal filed by a Developer against an order passed by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directing it to refund of the amounts deposited by the Apartment Buyers on account of the inordinate delay in completing the construction and obtaining the Occupation Certificate.

16. Primary Agricultural Credit Society Entitled To Deduction U/s 80P Income Tax Act Even If They Give Loans To Members For Non-Agricultural Activities: Supreme Court

[Case: Mavilayi Service Cooperative Bank Ltd. v. Commissioner Of Income Tax, Calicut & Anr.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 15]

Order dated January 12, 2021

A bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph held that Cooperative Societies registered as primary agricultural credit societies are entitled to deductions under section 80P(2)(a)(i) of the Income-Tax Act,even when they may also be giving loans to their members which are not related to agriculture. It thereby set aside a Full Bench judgment of the Kerala High Court which had held that such societies are not entitled to the deduction under Section 80P when loans are given to members for non-agricultural purposes.

"Once it is clear that the co-operative society in question is providing credit facilities to its members, the fact that it is providing credit facilities to non-members does not disentitle the society in question from availing of the deduction", the Court observed.

17. 'Consensual Affair' Is Not A Defence Against A Charge Of Kidnapping A Minor: Supreme Court

[Case: Anversinh @ Kiransinh Fatesinh Zala v. State of Gujarat; Citation: LL 2021 SC 16]

Order dated January 12, 2021

A bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant observed that the a 'consensual affair' is not a defence against the charge of kidnapping a minor

A minor girl's infatuation with her alleged kidnapper cannot by itself be allowed as a defence, for the same would amount to surreptitiously undermining the protective essence of the offence of kidnapping, the Court said while disposing an appeal filed by one Anversinh whose conviction under Sections 363 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code was upheld by the Gujarat High Court.

18. Farm Laws Implementation Stayed, Committee Formed For Talks, MSP To Continue- Read Summary Of Supreme Court Directions

[Case: Rakesh Vaishnav & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 17]

Order dated January 12, 2021

A three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court stayed the operation of Three Farm Laws until further Orders. As per the order:

(i) Implementation of three farm laws stayed; (ii)MSP system as it existed before the enactment of the laws must be continued; (iii)No farmer must be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the laws; (iv) Committee comprising Bhupinder Singh Mann, Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati, Anil Ghanwant constituted for the 'purpose of listening to the grievances of farmers relating to the farm laws and views of the government to make recommendations'; (v)The Committee shall be provided a place at Delhi and Govt to bear its expenses and give it secretarial assistance; (vi)The representatives of all the farmers' bodies, whether they are holding a protest or not and whether they support or oppose the laws SHALL participate in the deliberations of the Committee and put forth their view points'; (vii) The Committee should file the report within 2 months before the Supreme Court.

Latest Update: Supreme Court Issues Notice On Plea For Reconstitution Of Committee To Resolve Deadlock Between Farmers and Govt

19. SC Directs Reopening Of Anganwadi Centres Outside CZ, Directs To Ensure Nutritional Support To Pregnant Women, Lactating Mothers And Children

[Case: Dipika Hagatram Sahant v. Union of India & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 18]

Order dated January 13, 2021

A three-judge comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Subhash Reddy and Justice M.R. Shah directed the Union of India, States and Union Territories to reopen the anganwadi centres situated outside the containment zones, which were closed due to pandemic, to provide nutritional support to children, pregnant women and lactating mothers in accordance with the statutory requirements of National Food Security Act, 2013.

The court however directed that the decision of not opening the anganwadi centres can only be taken after proper consultation of with State Disaster Management Authority in any area situated outside the containment zones. The court clarified that no anganwadi centres situated inside the containment zones shall be opened. The Court also directed the respondents to create a complaint redressal mechanism in each district to ensure the compliance of the Act.

20. Writ Jurisdiction Cannot Be Utilised By A Litigant Only To Take Chance: Supreme Court

[Case: Vellanki Frame Works v. Commercial Tax Officer; Citation: LL 2021 SC 19]

Order dated January 13, 2021

"In our view, the extraordinary writ jurisdiction cannot be utilised by a litigant only to take chance and then to seek recourse to the other remedy after failing in its attempt on the basic merits of the case before the High Court", the Supreme Court remarked while dismissing an appeal filed against the judgment passed by High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh.

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari observed that a litigation cannot be allowed to be unendingly kept alive at the choice of a litigant.

21. Supreme Court Takes Suo Moto Action On 'Remediation Of Polluted Rivers'; To Start With Yamuna

[Case Title: Delhi Jal Board v. State of Haryana & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 20]

Order dated January 13, 2021

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian has taken suo moto cognizance on the issue of "remediation of polluted rivers". It observed that one of the major causes of water pollution was the discharge of non treated/ partially treated municipal waste and effluents of various States and cities.

The suo moto action came while hearing a petition filed by Delhi Jal Board on the requirement of urgent intervention of the Apex Court in form of directions on the Haryana Government for ceasing the discharge of untreated effluents resulting in a rise of ammonia levels in river water. According to the petitioner, the intervention is essential to avert the humanitarian crisis that the citizens of NCT of Delhi are facing.

22. Supreme Court Slaps Rs. 25K Costs On Gujarat Government For Its Lethargy & Incompetence Of Filing SLPs Belatedly

[Case Title: State Of Gujarat v. Deep Association; Citation: LL 2021 SC 21]

Order dated January 12, 2021

A Bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy imposed costs of Rupees 25,000 on Gujarat Government for filing special leave petitions with a delay of more than one year. In one of the SLPs, the Government stated that the delay of 476 days have not been caused deliberately but on account of various steps required to be taken by the department at different level before taking a decision for filing an appeal and the time taken in getting the judgment and other documents before the Court.

"The aforesaid itself shows the casual manner in which the State Government has approached this Court without any cogent or plausible ground for condonation of delay. In fact other than the lethargy and incompetence of the petitioner Government, there is nothing which has been put on record", the bench observed.

23. Is Appointment Of Arbitrator By Ineligible Person Valid?Supreme Court Refers Issue To Larger Bench

[Case Title: Union of India v. M/S Tantia Constructions Ltd.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 22]

Order dated January 11, 2021

A bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph doubted the correctness of the decision in Central Organisation for Railway Electrification vs.M/s ECI-SPIC-SMO-MCML (JV) A Joint Venture Company and referred to larger bench the issue whether the appointment of an arbitrator by a person, who is disqualified to be an arbitrator as per Section 12(5) of the Arbitration Act, is valid.

In Central Organization of Railway Electrification, a division bench had held that such appointments by an authority who is disqualified from being an arbitrator can be valid depending on the facts. On the other hand, an earlier decision delivered by a 2-judge bench headed by Justice Nariman in the case Bharat Broadband Network Ltd v. United Telecoms Ltd(April 2019) had held that he appointment of arbitrator by a person who himself is ineligible to be an arbitrator as per Section 12(5) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 is void ab initio.

"We have perused the aforesaid judgment (Central Organization) and prima facie disagree with it for the basic reason that once the appointing authority itself is incapacitated from referring the matter toarbitration, it does not then follow that notwithstanding this yet appointments may be valid depending on the facts of the case," the three-judge Bench said.

24. Prescription Of Higher Educational Qualification As A Qualification For Promotion Is Not Unconstitutional: Supreme Court

[Case: Ashok Kumar v. State Of Jammu & Kashmir; Citation: LL 2021 SC 23]

Order dated January 18, 2021

A bench comprising of CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian held that prescription of a Higher educational qualification as a qualification for promotion to a post cannot be held as violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. It observed thus while setting aside a Judgment of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court which quashed an administrative Order of the Chief Justice prescribing certain qualifications for promotion to the post of Head Assistant.

One of the reasons for quashing given by the High Court was that all persons working as Senior Assistants constituted a homogenous group and hence there cannot be any differentiation among them on the basis of educational qualifications. The Apex Court referred to a 1968 Constitution Bench Judgment viz. State of Mysore & Anr. v. P. Narasinga Rao AIR 1968 SC 349, in which it was observed that Article 16(1) does not bar a reasonable classification of employees or reasonable test for their selection.

25. Manipal Fraud Case: Supreme Court Grants Bail To Former Employee Sandeep Gururaj

[Case Title: Sandeep Gururaj v. State of Karnataka; Citation: LL 2021 SC 24]

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy granted bail to Sandeep Gururaj, Former Deputy General Manager of Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), accused of siphoning off funds (reportedly 62 Crores) from the company accounts. It noted that the instant case is not one of public money being involved but monies of the concerned corporate entities.

Sandeep, while he was working as Deputy General Manager of Manipal Integrated Services Private Limited, allegedly diverted certain amount of Manipal Group Companies and also personal account of the Chairman of Manipal Group Companies in favour of other accused. He was arrested on 26th December 2018.

26. Supreme Court Upholds Sections 3, 4 & 10 Of IBC Amendment Act 2020

[Case: Manish Kumar v. Union of India; Citation: LL 2021 SC 25]

Order dated January 19, 2021

A bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph upheld the constitutional validity of Sections 3, 4 and 10 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Act 2020, in effect upholding the threshold limit on homebuyers.

The Court rejected the petitioners' contentions that such conditions on homebuyers amounted to hostile discrimination violating the equality principle under Article 14 of the Constitution. The Court held that a homebuyer, though treated as an unsecured creditor as per the judgment in Pioneer case, stands on a different footing from other creditors.

Also Read: Minimum Threshold For Homebuyers' Insolvency Process Against Builder Shields Frivolous & Avoidable Applications : Supreme Court

Also Read: 'Malice' Is Not A Ground To Challenge A Law Made By Legislature : Supreme Court

27. Segmentation Of A (National Highway) Project As A Strategy To Avoid Environmental Clearance Impermissible: Supreme Court

[Case: NHAI v. Pandarinathan Govindarajul; Citation: LL 2021 SC 26]

Order dated January 19, 2021

A bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi held that there is no requirement for obtaining environmental clearances for NH 45-A Villuppuram -Nagapattinam Highway, as land acquisition is not more than 40 meters on existing alignments and 60 meters on realignments or by passes. Thus, allowing the appeal filed by National Highway Authority of India, the Bench set aside the Madras High Court judgment which had held that it is necessary.

The court also observed that adoption of segmentation of a project cannot be adopted as a strategy to avoid environmental clearance impact assessment. The bench therefore directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India to constitute an Expert Committee to examine whether segmentation is permissible for National Highway projects beyond a distance of 100 kms and, if permissible, under what circumstances.

28. Benefit Of Probation (PO Act) Is Not Excluded By Mandatory Minimum Sentences Prescribed For IPC Offences: Supreme Court

[Case: Lakhvir Singh v. State of Punjab; Citation: LL 2021 SC 27]

Order dated January 19, 2021

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed that the benefit of probation under Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 is not excluded by the provisions of the mandatory minimum sentence prescribed for offences under IPC.

In the facts of the case, the Court observed that Section 4 of the Act could come to the aid of the accused as the offence committed, of which they have been found guilty, is not punishable with death or imprisonment for life. The court also added that since they were under 21 years of age on the date of the offence and not on the date of conviction, Section 6 would not come to their aid.

29. Only Wilful And Deliberate Disobedience To Court's Order Amounts To Contempt: Supreme Court

[Case: Rama Narang v. Ramesh Narang; Citation: LL 2021 SC 28]

Order dated January 19, 2021

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai observed that before punishing a person for non-compliance of the decision of the Court, the Court must not only be satisfied about the disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction, writ or other process but should also be satisfied that such disobedience was wilful and intentional.

The bench observed that a person does not commit contempt of court if during the pendency of certain proceedings, he takes recourse to other judicial proceedings open to him, even though the latter proceedings put the other party at a loss. The court added that the contempt proceedings are quasi-criminal in nature and the standard of proof required is in the same manner as in the other criminal cases.

30. Rape Victim Also Suffers Discrimination From Society: Supreme Court Issues Directives To Jharkhand Administration In A Rape Victim's Plea

[Case: X v. State of Jharkhand; Citation: LL 2021 SC 29]

Order dated January 20, 2021

A rape victim suffers not only a mental trauma but also discrimination from the society, the Supreme Court said while disposing a writ petition filed by a Rape Victim belonging to a Scheduled Tribe in Jharkhand.

Taking note of the fact that the identity of the rape victim in this case was disclosed by the media, resulting in a troublesome life for her, the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah issued several directives to the State Government.

Access full report to read directions

31. Supreme Court Dismisses Review Petitions Challenging Aadhaar Verdict, Justice Chandrachud Dissents

[Case: Beghar Foundation v. Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.); Citation: LL 2021 SC 30]

Order dated January 11, 2021

The Supreme Court, by 4:1 majority, has dismissed a batch of review petitions challenging the judgment of the Constitution Bench in Aadhaar case [Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5J.) v Union of India]. While Justices AM Khanwilkar, Ashok Bhushan, S. Abdul Nazeer and BR Gavai observed that no case for review of judgment, Justice DY Chandrachud expressed his dissent.

The review petitions were not heard in open court, but 'by circulation'. According to majority, a change in the law or subsequent decision/judgment of a coordinate or larger Bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review. On the other hand, Justice Chandrachud opined that the review petitions should be kept pending until the larger bench decides the questions referred to it in Rojer Mathew.

Also Read: Constitutional Error To Hold At This Stage That No Ground Exists To Review Aadhaar Verdict: Justice Chandrachud Dissents

32. Criminal Court Exercising Bail Jurisdiction Is Not Expected To Act As Recovery Agent To Realize Dues Of Complainant: Supreme Court

[Case: Dilip Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 31]

Order dated January 19, 2021

A bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna observed that a criminal court, exercising jurisdiction to grant bail/anticipatory bail, is not expected to act as a recovery agent to realise the dues of the complainant. It observed thus while setting aside a condition imposed by Madhya Pradesh High Court on an accused while granting him anticipatory bail.

The court said that factors to be taken into consideration, while considering an application for bail are the nature of accusation and the severity of the punishment in the case of conviction and the nature of the materials relied upon by the prosecution; reasonable apprehension of tampering with the witnesses or apprehension of threat to the complainant or the witnesses; reasonable possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the time of trial or the likelihood of his abscondence; character behaviour and standing of the accused; and the circumstances which are peculiar or the accused and larger interest of the public or the State and similar other considerations.

33. 'Bordering On Professional Misconduct': Supreme Court To Proceed Against A Lawyer For Speculating About Outcome Of A Pending Appeal

[Case Title: Madhavendra L Bhatnagar v. Bhavna Lall; Citation: LL 2021 SC 32]

Order dated January 19, 2021

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari pulled up a lawyer who, in his advice to his client, allegedly speculated about the outcome of a pending appeal before it. Prima facie, this, in our opinion, is bordering on professional misconduct and needs to be proceeded with, the Court said and directed the party to file an affidavit and disclose the name of the said advocate.

It added, "We fail to understand as to how an advocate appearing in the matter or instructing the litigant who is party before the Supreme Court of India would be in a position to prejudge the outcome of the proceedings or if we may say so speculate about the outcome thereof."

34. Section 12(5) Of Arbitration & Conciliation Act Which Deals With Ineligibility Of Appointment As Arbitrator Is A Mandatory & Non-Derogable Provision: Supreme Court

[Case: Haryana Space Application Centre v. Pan India Consultants Pvt. Ltd.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 33]

Order dated January 20, 2021

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi observed that the Section 12(5) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act read with the Seventh Schedule, which deals with ineligibility of a person to be appointed as an Arbitrator, is a mandatory and non-derogable provision of the Act.

Section 12(5) of the Arbitration Act, 1996 (as amended by the 2015 Amendment Act) provides that notwithstanding any prior agreement to the contrary, any person whose relationship with the parties, or counsel, falls within any of the categories specified in the Seventh Schedule, shall be ineligible to be appointed as an arbitrator. Item 5 of the Seventh Schedule of the Act reads as follows: "Arbitrator's relationship with the parties or counsel. The arbitrator is a manager, director or part of the management, or has a similar controlling influence, in an affiliate of one of the parties if the affiliate is directly involved in the matters in dispute in the arbitration."

35. Dismissal Of Workman By Employer Cannot Be Interfered With Merely Because Disciplinary Enquiry Was Not Conducted: Supreme Court

[Case: State of Uttarakhand v. Sureshwati; Citation: LL 2021 SC 34]

Order dated January 20, 2021

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Navin Sinha and Indu Malhotra observed that dismissal of a workman by his/her employer cannot be interfered with merely on the ground that it did not conduct a disciplinary enquiry, if the latter could justify the action before the Labour Court.

Where an employer has failed to make an enquiry before dismissal or discharge of a workman, it is open for him to justify the action before the Labour Court by leading evidence before it, the Court said.

36. Supreme Courts Directs A Family Court In UP To Conduct Trial Through Video Conferencing

[Case Title: Anjali Brahmawar Chauhan vs. Navin Chauhan; Citation: LL 2021 SC 35]

Order dated January

Taking note of the pandemic situation, a bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran directed a Family Court in Uttar Pradesh to conduct the trial through video conferencing.

The bench was considering a review petition filed against an order dismissing a transfer petition filed by a 'wife' seeking transfer of a matrimonial case filed by her 'husband', from the Principal Judge, Family Court, District Gautambudh Nagar, U.P. to the Court of Principal Judge, Family Court, Saket District, New Delhi. She contended that here is no video conferencing facility at Gautambudh Nagar, District Courts, and that the video conferencing is not permissible in matrimonial matters as per judgment in Santhini vs. Vijaya Venketesh. While dismissing the transfer petition (this was before Santhini Judgment), the Court had directed the trial in this case to be through video conferencing.

37. Supreme Court Issues Directions For Inter-State Virtual Recording Of Evidences Of Child Witnesses In Human Trafficking Cases

[Case Title: In Re: Contagion of COVID19 Virus In Children Protection Homes; Citation: LL 2021 SC 36]

Order dated January 21, 2021

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Abdul Nazeer and Indu Malhotra issued directions for virtual recording of testimonies of child victims/witnesses of human trafficking who are required to depose in courts which are far away from the place of their residence in a different State.

The Directions are as follows: (i) record child victims' testimonies via video conferencing; (ii) States to give information about child witnesses of human trafficking cases; etc.

Access full report to read directions

38. "Whether 'Advocate On Record' Includes Sole Proprietary Firm?" Supreme Court Leaves The Question To SC Rule Making Authority

[Case Title: In Re: Advocate On Record Includes A Proprietary Firm Etc.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 37]

Order dated January 20, 2021

In context of the 2013 Supreme Court Rules, a bench of Justices SK Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy left it to the Rule making authorities to examine whether they would like to expand the registration of Advocates on Record to permit persons to carry on the profession in the style and name of a sole proprietorship firm.

The Court was considering a suo motu writ petition on whether "Advocate on Record includes a proprietary firm". "Whether an AOR can have his entry in the AOR register in the form of his style of carrying on his profession: Instead of just "Name" as "Name", Sole Proprietor, Law Chambers of "Name"?", was the question framed. "The (Supreme Court) Rules being sacrosanct, we would not like to interfere with the same in the present proceeding", said the bench.

39. Supreme Court Grants Bail To Kannada Actress Ragini Dwivedi In Sandalwood Drug Case

[Case Title: Ragini Dwivedi @ Gini @ Rags v. State Of Karnataka; Citation: LL 2021 SC 38]

Order dated January 21, 2020

A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman granted bail to Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi, who had been arrested by the police for allegedly consuming and supplying drugs at parties and events organized by her and others, and set aside a Karnataka High Court order wherein her bail plea was dismissed.

The Bench noted that Section 37 of the NDPS Act had been wrongly invoked by the Sessions Court and the High Court. It observed, "though Petitioner has been found violating certain sections of NDPS Act, prima facie if any offence has been made out, it can be said to be made out under Section 27(b) for consumption of certain drugs".

40. High Court Exercising Bail Jurisdiction Cannot Pass Directions Which Will Have Direct Bearing Upon Trial: Supreme Court

[Case: Prashant Dagajirao Patil v. Vaibhav @ Sonu Arun Pawar; Citation: LL 2021 SC 39]

Order dated January 19, 2021

A bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose observed that a High Court, while exercising bail jurisdiction, cannot issue directions which will have a direct bearing upon the trial. It observed thus while setting aside a direction of the High Court in a case, in which it directed the Investigating Officer to examine a CCTV footage and to submit a report.

Recently, in another case, the Supreme Court had observed that, a criminal court, exercising jurisdiction to grant bail/anticipatory bail, is not expected to act as a recovery agent to realise the dues of the complainant.

41. Deprivation Of Property Right Can Only Be In Accordance With The Procedure Established By Law: Supreme Court

[Case: Bajranga (Dead) By Lrs v. State of Madhya Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 40]

Order dated January 19, 2021

Deprivation of property right can only be in accordance with the procedure established by law, reiterated a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy while considering a case involving proceedings under Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960.

"In Section 11(4) it has been stated that in case the competent authority finds that any question has arisen regarding the title of a particular holder, which has not been determined by the competent court, the competent authority shall proceed to enquire summarily into merits of such question and pass such orders as it thinks fit. Thus, the power is vested with the competent authority to determine such conflict of the land holding. This is, however, subject to a proviso. The proviso clearly stipulates that if such a question is already pending for decision before the competent court, the competent authority shall await the decision of the court," the order stated.

42. Supreme Court Directs Delhi University To Declare 5th Semester Results Of Law Student Who Had Attendance Shortage Due To Pregnancy

[Case Title: Ankita Meena v. University Of Delhi; Citation: LL 2021 SC 41]

Order dated January 22, 2021

A bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian directed the Delhi University to declare the 5th Semester result of a law student who could not meet the requisite 70% attendance criteria due to her pregnancy.

Ankita Meena could not obtain requisite attendance since she missed many classes during the 4th Semester due to her pregnancy. She approached the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to the University to permit her to appear in the 4th Semester LLB Examination. The High Court had refused to grant her any reliefs. In appeal, the Supreme Court, passed various interim orders which enabled her to attend the examinations of the 4th, 5th and 6th Semesters.

43. Mutation Entries Do Not By Themselves Confer Title, Reiterates Supreme Court

[Case: Commissioner, Bruhath Bangalore Mahanagara Palike v. Faraulla Khan; Citation: LL 2021 SC 42]

Order dated January 25, 2021

A bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna reiterated that mutation entries do not by themselves confer title. It observed thus while disposing an appeal filed by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike against a Karnataka High Court judgment directing it to mutate a property in the name of some parties. The contention was that, there is a title suit pending in relation to the subject property and therefore the High Court ought not to have issued a direction for mutation.

The Court noted that there is a clarification in the High Court judgment that the direction for mutation will be subject to the pursuit of any other remedy available under the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1956 and it is open to the Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to establish its title by following due process of law.

44. Supreme Court Modifies Its Direction On Constitution Of Search Cum Selection Committee For Appointment Of Tribunal Members

[Case: Madras Bar Association v. Union Of India; Citation: LL 2021 SC 43]

Order dated January 25, 2021

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat modified a direction issued by it in the matter of constitution of Search-cum-Selection Committee for appointment of members of the tribunals.

It allowed Centre's request to modify a direction issued in Madras Bar Association v. Union of India [dated 27 November 2020] by substituting the 'Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India' who was made a member of the Search-cum-Selection Committee, by 'Secretaries to the Government of India nominated by the Cabinet Secretary from a Department other than the parent or sponsoring department'.

Access full report to view the new composition

45. Statutes Must Be Interpreted In A Just, Reasonable And Sensible Manner: Supreme Court

[Case: Commercial Taxes Officer, Circle-B, Bharatpur v. M/s Bhagat Singh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 44]

Order dated January 21, 2021

A statute must be interpreted in a just, reasonable and sensible manner, a bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna observed while dismissing Special Leave Petition against a Rajasthan High Court judgment.

In this case, the Petitioner (Commercial Taxes Officer) contended that a single transaction of purchase of a motor vehicle does not bring a person within the definition of "Casual Trader" under Rajasthan Tax on Entry of Motor Vehicle into Local Areas Act 1988. According to it, "Casual Trader" envisages occasional transactions of business involving buying and selling of goods and therefore plurality of transactions is a condition precedent for treating a trader as a "Casual Trader".

'The Legislature could not, possibly, have intended that a person making 2 or 3 transactions should be treated as a "Casual Trader", but a person making only one transaction should be treated at par with regular traders," the bench said.

46. Land Acquisition Act 1894: Title Of Land Owner Ceases Once State Takes Possession Of Land: Supreme Court

[Case: Assam Industrial Development Corporation Ltd. v. Gillapukri Tea Co. Ltd.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 45]

Order dated January 28, 2021

A bench comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna reiterated that once possession is taken by the State, the land vests absolutely with the State and the title of the landowner ceases. It thus allowed the appeal filed by Assam Industrial Development Corporation Limited against a Gauhati High Court judgment nullifying the award passed under Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The award pertained to land acquisition notification issued with respect to a land belonging to Gillapukri Tea Company Ltd.

The court noted that, in this case, award amount was made available to the Deputy Commissioner and the awarded sum was duly paid to and received by the Land owner. Once the award has been approved, compensation has been paid thereunder and possession of the land has been handed over to the Government, acquisition proceedings could not have been reopened, including by way of re-notification of the already acquired land under Section 4 of 12 the L.A. Act by the Government, the bench said.

47. Basic Philosophy Behind Granting Power To Review Judgments Is 'Universal Acceptance Of Human Fallibility': Supreme Court

[Case: Rajendra Khare v. Swaati Nirkhi; Citation: LL 2021 SC 46]

Order dated January 28, 2021

The basic philosophy inherent in granting the power to the Supreme Court to review its judgment under Article 137 is the universal acceptance of human fallibility, a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Indu Malhotra observed in an order allowing a Review Petition. It said that the rejection of Miscellaneous Application seeking recall of a judgment does not preclude filing of a review petition subsequently.

In this case, the Supreme Court had earlier allowed a Transfer Petition transferring Trial of a Criminal Case from Metropolitan Magistrate Court at New Delhi to Metropolitan Magistrate at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Later, the person who had filed the FIR, approached the Court by filing a Miscellaneous Application praying for recall of the Order which was dismissed. Thereafter, he filed the Review Petition.

48. Supreme Court Sets Aside Conviction Of A Man Accused In A 1983 Murder Case Allowing His Plea Of Juvenility

[Case Title: Yogendra Yadav v. State Of Uttar Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 47]

Order dated January 22, 2021

A Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah set aside concurrent conviction in a murder case after it found that the accused was juvenile (17 years and 1 month) on the date of incident (01.08.1983).

The Trial Court judgment convicting Yogendra Yadav in a murder case was upheld by the Allahabad High Court in 2019, by dismissing the appeal he had filed in the year 1985. Before the Supreme Court, as the accused raised the plea of Juvenility, it called for a report from the District Judge, Ajamgarh. In his report, Additional District and Sessions Judge stated that the date of birth of the appellant as 01.07.1966 and further that he was 17 years 1 month on the date of incident.

49. Successive Anticipatory Bail Applications Ought Not To Be Entertained On Specious Ground Of 'Changed Circumstances': Supreme Court

[Case: GR Ananda Babu v. State of Tamil Nadu; Citation: LL 2021 SC 48]

Order dated January 28, 2021

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari observed that successive anticipatory bail applications ought not to be entertained. It said, "As a matter of fact, successive anticipatory bail applications ought not to be entertained and more so, when the case diary and the status report, clearly indicated that the accused (respondent No. 2) is absconding and not cooperating with the investigation. The specious reason of change in circumstances cannot be invoked for successive anticipatory bail applications, once it is rejected by a speaking order and that too by the same Judge."

In this case, the first and second anticipatory bail applications moved by the accused was dismissed by the High Court. The third bail application was allowed observing that six months have passed from the date of dismissal of earlier anticipatory bail application. The court had also taken note of the fact that accused was aged 69 years.

50. Dismissal Of Transfer Petition May Not Operate As Res Judicata If Fresh Petition Is Filed On Change Of Circumstances: Supreme Court

[Case: Amruta Ben Himanshu Kumar Shah v. Himanshu Kumar Pravinchandra Shah; Citation: LL 2021 SC 49]

Order dated January 29, 2021

A Bench of Justice V. Ramasubramanian held that a dismissal of a petition for transfer, may not operate as res judicata, when a fresh petition is filed on change of circumstances. It held,

"The dismissal of a petition for transfer, may not operate as res judicata, when a fresh petition is filed on change of circumstances. The first transfer petition in T.P.(C)No.615 of 2016 was dismissed in limine without even a notice being ordered to the respondent. Therefore, the present petition for transfer cannot be opposed solely on the ground that the earlier petition was dismissed. But at the same time, the petitioner will have to satisfy the court that there are change of circumstances and that there are sufficient grounds made out."

51. Appointment Not Challenged In Reasonable Time: Supreme Court Sets Aside HC Judgment Which Quashed Appointment Of An Assistant Professor

[Case Title: Pooran Chand v. Chancellor; Citation: LL 2021 SC 50]

Order dated January 29, 2021

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah set aside an Allahabad High Court order which quashed appointment of an Assistant Professor, observing that the appointment was not challenged in reasonable time as per the provisions of the applicable Act.

In this case, appellant's appointment as an Assistant Professor by the Executive Council of King George Medical University was challenged. The Top Court noted the provisions of King George Medical University Act, regarding the time limit for submitting representations and observed that appointment of Pooran Chand as Assistant Professor was not challenged or questioned in accordance with Section 53 which prescribes a limitation of three months.

52. Pre­natal Sex ­Determination Is A Grave Offence Which Has Potential To Damage The Very Fabric Of Gender Equality & Dignity: Supreme Court

[Case: Rekha Sengar v. State of Madhya Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 51]

Order dated January 21, 2021

A Bench comprising Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi observed that pre­natal sex ­determination is a grave offence with serious consequences for the society as a whole. A strict approach has to be adopted if we are to eliminate the scourge of female feticide and iniquity towards girl children from our society, the Court said while upholding the Madhya Pradesh High Court order dismissing the anticipatory bail application filed by an accused.

53. Appellate Court's Jurisdiction Under Section 96 CPC Involves Rehearing On Questions Of Law As Well As Fact: Supreme Court

[Case: Manjula v. Shyamsundar; Citation: LL 2021 SC 52]

Order dated January 27, 2021

A bench comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant observed that an appellate court's jurisdiction under Section 96 of CPC involves a rehearing of appeal on questions of law as well as fact. It noted that the provision provides for filing of an appeal from the decree passed by a court of original jurisdiction and Order 41 Rule 31 of CPC provides the guidelines to the appellate court for deciding the appeal. The bench said that the judgment of the appellate court shall state (a) points for determination; (b) the decision thereon; (c) the reasons for the decision; and (d) where the decree appealed from is reversed or varied, the relief to which the appellant is entitled.

The observation was made while setting aside an order passed by Karnataka High Court which had dismissed the appeal filed against a Trial Court judgment. The Trial Court order dealt with a petition under Section 278 of the Indian Succession Act praying for issuance of a letter of administration in respect of a Will executed by one Srinivas Gambhir.

54. Tenant Cannot Dictate Adequacy Of Space Required By Landlord For Proposed Business Venture: Supreme Court Upholds Summary Eviction Order

[Case: Balwant Singh v. Sudarshan Kumar; Citation: LL 2021 SC 53]

Order dated January 27, 2021

A tenant cannot dictate how much space is adequate for the proposed business venture or to suggest that the available space with the landlord will be adequate, a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy observed while upholding an eviction order passed in favour of an NRI landlord under East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949.

In this case, the landlords moved Rent Controller seeking immediate recovery of possession of the rented premises by invoking the provisions of Section 13B read with Section 18A of the Act. The landlord claimed that he desires to start a business. The Rent Controller allowed their petition. Thereafter, the Punjab & Haryana High Court allowed a revision petition filed by tenants. In appeal before the Apex Court, the tenants contended that the space available with the landlord would be adequate for the proposed business and there is no need to seek eviction of the respondents from their respective shops.

55. Extra-Ordinary Power Of Trial Court Under Section 319 CrPC Should Be Exercised Sparingly, Reiterates Supreme Court

[Case: Ajay Kumar @ Bittu v. State of Uttarakhand; Citation: LL 2021 SC 54]

Order dated January 29, 2021

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah reiterated that the power of a Trial Court under Section 319 of CrPC to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of offence is a discretionary and extra-ordinary power which has to be exercised sparingly.

The court also reproduced the following observations made by the Constitution Bench in Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab & Ors., (2014) 3 SCC 92 : Power under Section 319 CrPC is a discretionary and an extraordinary power. It is to be exercised sparingly and only in those cases where the circumstances of the case so warrant. It is not to be exercised because the 6Magistrate or the Sessions Judge is of the opinion that some other person may also be guilty of committing that offence. Only where strong and cogent evidence occurs against a person from the evidence led before the Court that such power should be exercised and not in a casual and cavalier manner.

Other Developments:

1. Supreme Court Stays Bombay HC Judgment Which Held 'Skin To Skin' Contact Necessary For 'Sexual Assault' Under POCSO Act

[Case: Attorney General for India v. Satish & Anr.]

Order dated January 27, 2021

A Bench led by CJI SA Bobde stayed the acquittal of the accused under the Bombay High Court Judgment which held that pressing of breasts of a minor girl without disrobing does not amount to "sexual assault" within the meaning of Section 8 of POCSO Act. The Court has stayed the acquittal of accused under Section 8 of POCSO and issued notice to him returnable within 2 weeks.

The order was passed by a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India on a mention made by the Attorney General, KK Venugopal. Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that the judgment which held that 'skin to skin' contact is necessary for sexual assault under POCSO Act is 'unprecedented' and is 'likely to set a dangerous precedent'. CJI Bobde has directed AG to file proper petition challenging the judgment.

Also Read: Youth Bar Association of India Moves Supreme Court Challenging Bombay High Court's 'Skin To Skin' POCSO Judgment

Also Read: National Commission For Women To Move Supreme Court Challenging Bombay High Court's 'Skin To Skin Judgment' In The POCSO Case

2. 'Disqualification Remains If You Are Simply Nominated' : Supreme Court Upholds Karnataka HC Order Holding AH Vishwanath Disqualified

[Case: AH Vishwanath v. State of Karnataka]

Order dated January 28, 2021

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde dismissed a plea by Karnataka BJP leader AH Vishwanath against the Karnataka High Court judgement which held that he will continue to remain disqualified under the anti-defection law even during his term as a nominated member of the Karnataka legislative council.

The Court was hearing Vishwanath's challenge to the November 2020 verdict of the Karnataka High Court which prima facie declared that the MLC has incurred disqualification under Article 164 (1) (b) and Article 361 (B) of the Constitution of India, till the expiry of the term of the Legislative Council. The High Court judgment had upset his chances of becoming a Minister in the State Government.


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