Supreme Court Monthly Digest-January 2019

Supreme Court Monthly Digest-January 2019

Recap of everything that happened in the Supreme Court of India in the first month of the year 2019.

Significant Rulings and Happenings

Collegium Recommendations and Controversies

On January 10, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended elevation of Justice Dinesh Maheswari and Justice Sanjiv Khanna to Supreme Court. This decision became controversial as it was in reversal of the previous decision taken on December 12, 2018, to recommend the elevation of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon, Chief Justices of Rajasthan and Delhi High Courts, respectively.

Some former Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, including former CJI Justice RM Lodha, Justice AP Singh, and Justice Chelameswar, voiced their opinion on this 'change' of decision by the Collegium. Former Delhi High Court judge and Senior Advocate Kailash Gambhir wrote to the President of India, questioning the Supreme Court Collegium recommendation.

On January 16, the President of India appointed them as SC judges. Their swearing in was on January 18.

CBI v. CBI Judgment and Aftereffects

Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India

On January 8, the Supreme Court set aside the orders of the Central government and the CVC that had divested CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma of the charge of the probe agency, reinstating him to the post with immediate effect. However, it refrained him from taking any major policy decisions until such time his case is finally disposed of by the Selection Committee under Section 4A of the DSPE Act. Subsequently, the CJI nominated Justice AK Sikri to the Special Committee.

Two days later, the committee consisting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SC judge Justice AK Sikri and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge decided (2:1 Kharge dissented) to transfer him to the post of Director General Fire Services, for his residual term.

A controversy triggered as media reported that Justice Sikri was nominated to this post in London-based CSAT by the Central government in December. Justice AK Sikri then withdrew his consent to be nominated to the post of president/member of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT), which was offered by the Central government.

NGO Common Cause and RTI activist Anjali Bharadwaj filed PIL challenging M Nageshwar Rao's continuation as the interim CBI Director. The case was listed before Justice Sikri on January 24, after the Chief Justice saw it unfit to hear it himself in the wake of his impending participation in the meeting of the high-powered committee. Justice Sikri also recused from hearing the matter. On January 31, Justice NV Ramana also recused from hearing the plea, citing personal acquaintance with Rao.

The CJI-headed bench also dismissed Advocate ML Sharma's PIL by which he sought, inter alia, the suspension of erstwhile CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

Read our report on the story of CBI acting chief, and of conflicting interests and recusals.

No Gratuity to Teachers? The Judgment and Prima Facie Error

Birla Institute of Technology s. State of Jharkhand

On January 7, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice AM Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra held that, irrespective of the type of educational institute he/she is working, is not an 'employee' under Section 2(e) of the Payment of Gratuity Act and, therefore, has no right to invoke the Act for claiming gratuity from his/her employer.

On January 8, Live Law published an article on why this judgment denying gratuity to teachers is 'Per Incuriam'. It had quoted the 2009 amendment and 1997 notification and some high court judgments post 2009 amendment.

On January 9, the bench headed by Justice Sapre suo motu listed the appeal and passed order observing that it finds prima facie error in this judgment. It then stayed the operation of our judgment and directed the registry to post the appeal for rehearing. As Justice Indu Malhotra was on medical leave, the matter is yet to be reheard.

Constitutional Validity of Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code Upheld

Swiss Ribbons Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 in its "entirety". The court, however, held that to attract the bar under Section 29A from participating in resolution process, "related person" should be a person connected to the defaulting entity. The bench of Justices RF Nariman and Navin Sinha had reserved orders on January 15 on the petitions challenging the validity of IBC.

The bench also observed that the experiment conducted in enacting the Code is proving to be largely successful. It noted that the flow of financial resource to the commercial sector in India has increased exponentially as a result of financial debts being repaid. The defaulter's paradise is lost. In its place, the economy's rightful position has been regained",
this is how Justice Nariman summed up the judgment.

Madras HC Disciplinary Rules for Lawyers Quashed And Interesting Observations

The Supreme Court quashed Rules 14-A to 14-D of the Rules of High Court of Madras, 1970, holding that they are ultra vires to Section 34 of the Advocates Act and usurps the power of the Bar Council in Disciplinary matters. The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran observed that the Advocates Act never intended to confer the disciplinary powers upon the High Court or Supreme Court except to the extent dealing with an appeal under Section 38 of the Act.

Justice Mishra, who authored the judgment, made some interesting observations. He said that attributing political colours to the judgments is nothing less than an act of contempt of gravest form. He also said that it has become very common to the members of the Bar to go to the press/media to criticize the judges in person and to attribute political colours to the judgments. A lot of sacrifices are made to serve the judiciary for which one cannot regret as it is with a purpose and to serve judiciary is not less than call of military service, the judge said.

Maharashtra Dance Bar Judgment

Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (AHAR) v. State of Maharashtra

The Supreme Court held that there cannot be a total prohibition of dance bars in Maharashtra. The Bench has also relaxed the stringent conditions imposed by the Government for getting license for dance bars. In short, the bench upheld Section 2(8) of the Act. Section 8(4) of the Act was upheld with riders. It struck down Section 6(4) of the Act as unconstitutional and also quashed Rule 3(3) (i) framed under the Act. Various other conditions were quashed, while some where upheld.

Comprehensive report may be read here.

"A practice which may not be immoral by societal standards cannot be thrusted upon the society as immoral by the State with its own notion of morality and thereby exercise 'social control'," Justice Sikri said in the judgment.

Ayodhya-Constitution Bench, Recusal, Adjournment and Reconstitution

On January 8, CJI Gogoi constituted a five-judge bench to hear the Ayodhya land dispute case. Interestingly, the bench comprised of the CJI himself and four probable future CJIs viz. Justice NV Ramana, SA Bobde, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud.

Setting up of the Constitution bench surprised many because the popular expectation was that a three-judge bench will be constituted. Later, the CJI clarified (during hearing on January 10) that the decision to set up the constitution bench has been taken by him on the administrative side in exercise of his powers under the Supreme Court Rules.

But a dramatic twist happened when Rajeev Dhawan, Senior Advocate appearing for Sunni Waqf Board, pointed out that Justice UU Lalit had appeared for former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in a contempt matter related to Babri Masjid case. Following this submission, Justice Lalit recused from hearing the matter. The case was then adjourned to January 29.

The Chief Justice of India, on January 25, reconstituted the constitutional bench hearing Ayodhya case by replacing Justices UU Lalit and NV Ramana with Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The hearing scheduled on January 29 by the newly-constituted bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer did not happen due to non-availability of Justice Bobde on the said day.

The Central government filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking permission to restore "surplus", "undisputed" land around Babri to Ram Janmabhoomi Trust.

Read why speedy hearing of Ayodhya-Babri Case is unlikely.

Death Penalty Cases: 5 Commutations and 3 Acquittals

He May Be a Reformed Person Already: SC Commutes Death Sentence To Pune Driver Who Killed 9 By His Murderous 'Joy Ride'

Santosh Maruti Mane v. State of Maharashtra

The Supreme Court last week commuted death penalty awarded to a bus driver whose murderous 'joy ride' had resulted in death of nine persons in the year 2012. The bench comprising of Justice AK Sikri, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice MR Shah observed that though the defence of insanity is not established in this case, the accused was under mental strain and stress which resulted in the tragedy.

Rape And Murder Of 8-Yr-Old Girl: SC Commutes Death Sentence To 25 Yrs Imprisonment Without Remission

Nand Kishore v. State of Madhya Pradesh

The Supreme Court on Friday commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence, as confirmed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, of a convicted for the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl. The bench of Justices SA Bobde, L Nageswara Rao and R Subhash Reddy noted that the appellant was chargesheeted under Sections 5 and 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, in addition to the offences under Sections 302, 363, 366 and 376(2)(i) of the IPC.

When Second Conviction For Murder Would Warrant Imposition Of Death Sentence?

The same bench headed by Justice Bobde commuted death sentence awarded to a man convicted for murder of a women by pouring acid on her. The court observed that a second conviction for murder would warrant the imposition of a death sentence only if there is a pattern discernible across both the cases.

Death Sentence Only When Alternative Option Is Unquestionably Foreclosed

Raju Jagdish Paswan v. State of Maharashtra

The Supreme Court commuted death penalty of a man accused of rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl and sentenced him to 30 years of imprisonment without remission. The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice R Subhash Reddy observed that even though the murder involves exceptional depravity and the manner of commission of the crime is extremely brutal, a death sentence can be imposed only when the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed.

The bench also directed the states to consider implementing the reformative and rehabilitation programmes contained in the Model Prison Manual of 2016.

Acquitted 3, Commuted Death Penalty of One

Basavaraj v. State of Karnataka

The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted three murder accused whose death penalty was confirmed by the high court. The three-judge bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna commuted death penalty awarded to one accused to life imprisonment.

Stipulating 50% Disability Limit In Hearing Impairment Or Visual Impairment For Post Of Judicial Officer Legitimate

V. Surendra Mohan v. State of Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court held that stipulating a limit of 50 percent disability in hearing impairment or visual impairment as a condition to be eligible for the post of a judicial officer is a legitimate restriction. The bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph observed thus while dismissing the appeal filed by a V Surendra Mohan, who was held ineligible for the post of judicial officer (civil judge) as it was found that he was having 70 percent disability.

Also read the article criticizing this judgment titled: The Blind Can Indeed Judge, My Lords!

Sabarimala Review Petitions

On November 13 last year, a bench of Chief Justice Gogoi and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, while refraining from staying the impugned decision, had agreed to hear the review petitions in Open Court on January 22. But the constitution bench did not hold sitting on the said day, as one of the judges, Justice Indu Malhotra, was on medical leave.

On 31 January, the registry notified that these review petitions will be listed before the five-judge bench on 6 February, 2019. An application seeking a live telecast of the proceedings is also pending before the bench, which may consider it on the said date.

In the meanwhile, the CJI-headed 3-judge bench directed the State of Kerala to ensure that Bindu and Kanaka Durga, the two women who had entered the Sabarimala Temple on January 2, are provided "adequate security, round-the-clock".

Economic Reservation Challenge

Within hours of the Parliament passing the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, which makes provisions for giving reservation to economically weaker sections in public employment and higher education, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging it.

Later, two lawyers, Advocate Reepak Kansal and Advocate Pawan, filed two separate petitions challenging the validity of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019 on the ground that it abrogates the basic structure of the Constitution in exceeding the 50 percent ceiling on reservation as imposed in the 1993 Indira Sawhney case. Political activist Tehseen Poonawalla also filed a petition later.

The bench comprising of CJI Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice in the petition filed by Youth for Equality. However, it declined interim stay of the amendment.

Child Born Out Of Marriage between Muslim Man and a Hindu Woman Entitled To Claim His Father's Property

Mohammed Salim v. Shamsudeen & Ors.

The Supreme Court held that a child born out of a marriage between a Muslim man and his Hindu wife is entitled to claim a share in his father's property. The bench comprising of Justice NV Ramana and Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar also observed that the marriage of a Muslim man with an idolater or fire-worshipper is neither a valid (sahih) nor a void (batil) marriage, but is merely an irregular (fasid) marriage.

No Vehicle Can Be Altered So As To Change Original Specification Made By Manufacturer

Regional Transport Officer v. K. Jayachandra

The Supreme Court held that a vehicle cannot be so altered that the particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those "originally specified by the manufacturer". The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran set aside a Kerala High Court judgment which had held that structural alteration is permissible as per the provisions of the Kerala Rules.

SC Judgments- Subject Wise
Labour, Employment and Service Matters

Regularization By Management Doesn't Give Any Right to Retrenched Employee For Claiming Re-Employment

Management of the Barara cooperative Milk Marketing-Cum-Processing Society Ltd. v. Workman Pratap Singh

Highlighting the difference between expressions 'employment' and 'regularization of the service', the Supreme Court observed that regularization of an employee already in service does not give any right to retrenched employee to invoke Section 25(H) of the Industrial Disputes Act for claiming reemployment in the services.

SC Upholds Claim Of Scientists Working Under Defence Ministry To Treat Special Pay For Pensionary Benefits

Union of India & Ors. v. Dr. O.P. Nijhawan & Ors.

Dismissing appeals filed by the Centre, the Supreme Court upheld the claim of scientists working under Ministry of Defence for treating the special pay for pensionary benefits. The Principal Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal and other benches had allowed the claim of these scientists working in Department of Defence Research and Development Organisation, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space, for treating the sanctioned special pay of Rs 2,000 w.e.f. 01.01.1996 and Rs 4,000 w.e.f. 01.01.2006, for pensionary benefits

Can't Claim Parity Of Pay Scale Unless There Is Complete Identity Between Two Posts

Punjab State Electricity Board v. Thana Singh

The Supreme Court observed that unless there is complete identity between two posts, the posts should not be treated as equivalent to claim parity of pay scale. The court was considering the appeal filed by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) wherein the issue was about parity in the pay scales of two posts Head Clerks and the Internal Auditors in Group XII of the board. The high court had ruled that there ought to be parity.

Doctrine Of Notional Extension Of Employment Applies When Accident Occurred While Deceased Workman Was In Workplace Not By His Own Choice

Leela Bai v. Seema Chouhan

Applying the 'doctrine of notional extension of the employment', the Supreme Court ordered employers to pay compensation to the legal heirs of a bus driver who had died in an accident while he was coming down the roof of the bus after having his meals.

Judges' Selection: Stipulations In Advertisement Can Only Be Changed In Terms Of Statutory Rules

High Court of Hyderabad v. P. Murali Mohana Reddy

The Supreme Court observed that appointments to the post of judicial officers are to be made in terms of stipulations contained in the advertisement and such stipulations can only be changed in terms of statutory rules.

Promotion To Be In Accordance With The Rules As They Exist During Its Consideration

Union of India v. Krishna Kumar

The Supreme Court reiterated that there is no vested right to promotion, but only a right to be considered for promotion in accordance with the Rules which prevail on the date on which consideration for promotion takes place. The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta set aside the Manipur High Court direction to consider Havildars for promotion to the post of Naib Subedars against vacancies which had occurred prior to the changes which were carried out in 2011 and before the enforcement of the Recruitment Rules, 2012.

Candidates Clearing Prescribed Qualification After Cut-Off Date Can't Be Considered Qualified

Rakesh Bakshi& Anr v. State of Jammu &Kashmir &Ors

The Supreme Court observed that eligibility of the candidates must be decided with reference to the qualification possessed as on the cut-off date and the qualification acquired later in point of time cannot make a candidate eligible. The bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph, however, granted relief to two such employees (who were appointed in spite of the fact that they acquired requisite qualification after the cut-off date) who continued in employment for about two decades.

Nurses Can Practice Their Profession Throughout The Territory Of India

The Supreme Court observed that the Nursing Council Act of 1947 does not restrict the practice of nursing once a Degree or Diploma is granted by the State Authority to that State only. The bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha declared thus while allowing special leave petition filed by Private Nursing Schools And Colleges Management Association against the Bombay High Court order.

Revisit Income Limit Criteria For Compassionate Appointments At Periodic Intervals

State of Himachal Pradesh v. Sashi Kumar

The Supreme Court called upon the State of Himachal Pradesh to revisit income limit criteria for compassionate appointments, preferably at intervals of three years. The court observed that inflation and the increase in the cost of living have an important bearing on financial exigencies faced by families of serving as well as deceased employees.

General Principle Of Service Law Applicable To Civil Services Doesn't Apply To Air Force

Union of India v. WG CDR Subrata Das Holding that the right of an Air Force officer to withdraw from an approved 'Premature Separation from Service' application is neither absolute nor unqualified, the Supreme Court observed that general principle of service law applicable to the civil services, does not apply in the situation of the Air Force.

Constitutional Courts, Jurisdiction, Contempt, and Costs

Writ Petition Under Article 227 Challenging Judicial Orders Are Maintainable, But Not Under Article 226

State of Jharkhand v. Surendra Kumar Srivastava

The Supreme Court reiterated that a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India seeking writ of certiorari against judicial orders passed by civil courts is not maintainable. The bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Indu Malhotra observed that writ petition under Article 227 challenging the orders passed by Civil Courts refusing to grant interim injunction under Order XXXIX, Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, will be maintainable.

Contempt Jurisdiction Can't Be Invoked On The Basis Of Impressions Drawn By Litigants About Court Order

Badri Vishal Pandey v. Rajesh Mittal

The Supreme Court, while dismissing a contempt petition, observed that contempt jurisdiction cannot be invoked on the basis of impressions about a court order drawn by the litigants, but only when there is willful disobedience to the court orders.

High Court Cannot Stay/Quash An Order In Anticipation, Before It Is Passed

Manish S.Pardasani v. Inspector State Excise

The Supreme Court observed that a high court cannot stay or/and quash the orders in anticipation, before they are passed by an authority. The bench remarked that the higher judiciary must avoid as far as possible from making any disparaging harsh remarks and strictures against any judicial/administrative officer while examining their action/order impugned in the judicial proceedings.

Leave To Appeal Against AFT Orders Only When There Is A Point Of Law Of General Importance

Ex Lac Yogesh Pathania v. Union of India Ors.

The Supreme Court, while dismissing a plea seeking leave against an order of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), observed that such leave can be granted only when there is a point of law of general public importance involved in the appeal.

Civil Court Has No Jurisdiction In Matters In Respect Of Which Power Has Been Conferred On NCLT

Shashi Prakash Khemka v. NEPC Micon

The Supreme Court observed that the jurisdiction of the civil court is completely barred in matters in respect of which power has been conferred on the National Company Law Tribunal. The bench comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul was considering whether an issue qua the transfer of shares has to be adjudicated by civil court or by the Company Law Board.

Writ Under Article 32 Not Maintainable For Enforcement Of Personal Contractual Rights

Ramesh Sanka v. Union of India

The Supreme Court held that employees cannot be granted a writ under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for claiming enforcement of any personal contractual rights against their employers. The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice R Subhash Reddy ruled, "Even otherwise, no writ lies under Article 32 of the Constitution at the instance of any employee or the employer for claiming enforcement of any personal contractual rights inter se the employee and his employer."

Rs 5Cr Penalty Imposed On A Medical College For Playing Fraud On It; Orders Prosecution Of Its Dean

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan university v. Union of India

The Supreme Court imposed a penalty of Rs 5 crore on a medical college for playing fraud on it. Barring the R.K.D.F. Medical College Hospital and Research Centre from making admissions for the 1st year MBBS course for the next two years, the bench comprising Justice SA Bobde, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice R Subhash Reddy also ordered prosecution of college Dean SS Kushwaha under Section 193 of the Indian Penal Code.

No Authority Can Claim Privilege Not To Comply With SC Judgment

Anil Kumar v. Union of India & Ors.

The Supreme Court observed that no authority can claim a privilege not to comply with its judgment. The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta made this observation while allowing an appeal filed by an employee of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Arbitration and Corporate Laws

Ex-Employee Not Disqualified From Acting As Arbitrator, Even After 2015 Amendment

The Govt. of Haryana PWD Haryana (B and R) v. M/s G. F. Toll Road Pvt. Ltd.

The Supreme Court held that the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, does not disqualify a former employee from acting as an arbitrator, provided that there are no justifiable doubts as to his independence and impartiality. The bench of Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra observed that, even after 2015 amendment, the position remains the same, as Entry 1 to 5th Schedule of the Act does not include "past/former employees."

Resolution Plans Should Be Given To Former Directors Of Corporate Debtor To Attend CoC Meetings

Vijay Kumar Jain v. Standard Chartered Bank
The Supreme Court declared the right of members of the suspended Board of Directors of a corporate debtor to receive insolvency resolution plans submitted before the Resolution Professional, in order to effectively participate in the meetings of Committee of Creditors (CoC).

Secured Creditor Can File Winding Up Petition Despite Obtaining Recovery Certificate From DRT

Swaraj Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd v. Kotak Mahindra Bank

The Supreme Court held that a secured creditor can file a winding up petition even after obtaining a decree from the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) and a recovery certificate based thereon. The bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha dismissed appeals against Bombay High Court judgment that had rejected the contention that once a secured creditor has obtained an order from the DRT, and a recovery certificate has been issued thereupon, such secured creditor cannot file a winding up petition as the Recovery of Debts Act is a special Act which vests exclusive jurisdiction in the DRT.

CIRP Under IBC Can Continue Independent Of Winding-Up Petition Pending In HC

Forech India Ltd v. Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Co. Ltd

Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) can continue independent of any pending winding up process against the corporate debtor pending in the High Court under the Companies Act, held the Supreme Court in a judgment delivered by a bench of Justice R F Nariman and Navin Sinha.

Mere Delay In Passing Award By Itself Can't Be Ground To Appoint Another Arbitrator

Rajasthan Small Industries Corporation Limited v. M/s Ganesh Containers Movers Syndicate

The Supreme Court observed that mere neglect of an arbitrator to act or delay in passing the award by itself cannot be the ground to appoint another arbitrator in deviation from the terms agreed to by the parties. The bench comprising of Justice R Banumathi and Justice Indira Banerjee held thus while considering appeal against Rajasthan High Court order appointing a retired District Judge as the sole arbitrator to resolve the dispute between the parties, by allowing application under Section 11 and Section 15 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, filed by contractor.

Insolvency Proceedings Can Be Withdrawn Even After Invitation Of Resolution Plans Under Regulation 36A

In a notable order passed recently, the Supreme Court permitted the withdrawal of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) even after the Resolution Professional issued invitation for expression of interest from resolution applicants to submit resolution plans under Regulation 36A of CIRP Regulations 2016.

CPC, Civil, Contract and Property Cases

Dismissal Of Plaintiff's Application To File Suit As Indigent Person Won't Bar Him From Seeking Permission To File Appeal As Indigent Person

Sushil Thomas Abraham v. M/s Skyline Build.

The Supreme Court has held that rejection of application by a plaintiff under Order 33 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure (seeking permission to institute the suit as an indigent person) by the trial court in the earlier round of litigation is not a bar against the plaintiff to file an file an application/appeal under Order 44 Rule 1 of the Code and seek permission from the appellate court to allow him to file an appeal as an indigent person.

SC Explains Five Material Questions To Be Answered In Specific Performance Suit Kamal Kumar v. Premlata Joshi

While affirming concurrent judgments dismissing a suit for specific performance, the Supreme Court briefly explained the questions which are to be considered in such a suit. Reiterating that the grant of relief of specific performance is a discretionary and equitable relief, the bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra listed out the requirements to be answered in a specific performance suit.

Casual Act Of Possession Over Property Doesn't Confer 'Possessory Title' Poona Ram v. Moti Ram

Holding that possessory title over property cannot be claimed merely on the basis of 'casual possession', the Supreme Court observed that a casual act of possession does not have the effect of interrupting the possession of the rightful owner.

Undivided Share In Joint Family Can Be Disposed Of By Will As Per Sec.30 Hindu Succession Act

Radhamma and Othrs v. Muddukrishna and Otrs

The undivided interest of a Hindu in a joint family property can be disposed of by Will as per Section 30 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, held the Supreme Court while dismissing appeals from a partition suit. The apex court further observed that rule against disposition of undivided coparcenary interest was relaxed by Section 30. The provision is an exemption to the general rule that the interest of a male Hindu in joint family property will devolve by survivorship upon the surviving members of the coparcenary after his death.

Executing Court Has No Jurisdiction To Decide Whether The Court Which Decreed The Suit Had Territorial Jurisdiction

Sneh Latha Goel v. Pushplata

The Supreme Court observed that an executing court has no jurisdiction to decide whether the court which passed the decree had territorial jurisdiction. The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta observed that an objection to the want of territorial jurisdiction does not travel to the root of or to the inherent lack of jurisdiction of a civil court to entertain the suit.

Insurance Company Can't Unilaterally Delete Policy Terms To Reduce Coverage

M/s Twenty First Century India Pvt. Ltd. v. New India Assurance Company Ltd.

Holding that a state-owned insurance company cannot act arbitrarily, the Supreme Court quashed the action of New India Assurance Company Ltd in unilaterally deleting policy terms to reduce coverage. Setting aside the judgment of the HC, the SC directed the insurer to process the claim of the company in respect to the cancelled Goa match.

CrPC, Criminal Matters

Offence Under Sec. 307 IPC Can't Be Quashed On The Basis Of Settlement Between Parties

State of Madhya Pradesh V. Kalyan Singh & Ors.

The Supreme Court observed that under Section 307 of the IPC (Attempt to Murder) cannot be quashed, even when there is any settlement between the complainant and the accused, as it is a non-compoundable offence.

Sec. 452 CrPC Doesn't Mandate That Custody Should Be Handed Over To The Person From Whose Possession It Was Seized, Overriding The Claim Of Genuine Title Asserted By Third Party

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. v. Suryanarayanan & Anr.

The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered last month, held that where a claim is made before the court that the property does not belong to the person from whom it was seized, Section 452 of the CrPC does not mandate that its custody should be handed over to the person from whose possession it was seized, overriding the claim of genuine title which is asserted on behalf of a third party.

If The Promise To Marry Wasn't Made With Sole Intention To Seduce Woman To Indulge In Sex, It Isn't Rape

Dr. Dhruvaram Muralidhar Sonar v. State of Maharashtra

In a judgment passed on November 22 last year, the Supreme Court held that if a person had not made the promise to marry with the sole intention to seduce a woman to indulge in sexual acts, such an act would not amount to rape. The bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice S Abdul Nazeer was considering an appeal filed by Dr. Dhruvaram Murlidhar Sonar against the high court order refusing to quash 'rape case' filed against him. The bench noticed that the complainant herself had stated that she had fallen in love with the accused because she needed a companion as she was a widow.

Fingerprint Evidence Of Accused Taken Without Magistrate's Order Not Illegal

Ashish Jain v. Makrand Singh

The Supreme Court observed that merely due to the absence of a magisterial order authorizing the police to obtain fingerprints of the accused, it cannot be held that the fingerprint evidence was illegally obtained. The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana and Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar was considering the issue of legality of fingerprints obtained without magistrate order authorizing it.

The bench also observed that there is no evidentiary value to an involuntary confessional statement made under undue pressure and compulsion from the investigating officer, even when it leads to the recovery of material objects in relation to a crime.

Why Should They Speak Lie: Deceased's Parents Are Most Natural Witnesses in Dowry Death Case

Mahadevappa v. State of Karnataka

The Supreme Court upheld conviction of a man accused of dowry death, relying on the evidence of his deceased wife's parents and relatives. In this case, the prosecution had alleged that, the accused poured kerosene oil on his wife Rukmini Bai when she was in kitchen and set her on fire. The trial court had acquitted him holding that the prosecution was not able to prove the charge of demand of dowry against him. It had also held that there is no proof that she suffered homicidal death. The High Court, on state's appeal, reversed these findings and convicted the accused. The accused challenged the conviction before the apex court.

Mere Allegations Of Harassment Without Proximate Positive Action Insufficient For Conviction U/S 306 IPC

Rajesh v. State of Haryana

The Supreme Court reiterated that conviction under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (abetment of suicide) is not sustainable on the allegation of harassment without there being any positive action proximate to the time of occurrence on the part of the accused, which led or compelled the person to commit suicide.

'Cheque Bounce' Complaint Based On Second Notice After Re-Presentation Of Cheque Maintainable

Sicagen India Ltd v. Mahindra Vadineni

The Supreme Court held that a 'cheque bounce' complaint filed based on the second statutory notice issued after re-presentation of cheques, is maintainable.

[S.300 Murder- Exception-I] Deceased Termed His Wife And Daughter 'Prostitutes': SC Finds It Sufficient 'Grave And Sudden Provocation'

Nawaz v. State

The Supreme Court modified the conviction of a woman accused of murdering her husband to 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder' on the ground that it was a result of a sudden and grave provocation by him by calling her and their daughter 'prostitutes'.

Addl District Magistrate Can Order Externment Under MP Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam

State of Madhya Pradesh v. Dharmendra Rathore

The Supreme Court held that an Additional District Magistrate can pass an externment order when there is no provision in the statue prohibiting passing of an order by an officer lower than the rank of District Magistrate.

No Arrest Under Section 91 Finance Act Without Notice And Hearing Under Section 73A(3)(4)

Union of India v. M/s Make My Trip India Ltd

The Supreme Court upheld the decision of Delhi High Court which held that following the procedure under Section 73 A (3) and (4) of the Finance Act 1994 is compulsory before arresting a person under Section 91.

SC Upholds Madras HC's Interpretation Of TN Prison Rules For Premature Release, Quashes General Direction

State of Tamil Nadu v. P. Veera Bhaarathi

The Supreme Court recently upheld the Madras High Court ruling that irrespective of the nature of the offence committed, if a prisoner is a life convict, he will be eligible as per the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983, for consideration for premature release on his completing 14 years of actual imprisonment. However, the bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna set aside the high court's general direction to review claims of premature release of all life convicts who have completed 14 years of custody and whose claims were rejected on the basis of erroneous understanding of the provisions of the Prison Rules.

Involuntary Statement Leading To 'Section 27 Recovery' Has No Evidentiary Value

Ashish Jain v. Makrand Singh

The Supreme Court observed that there is no evidentiary value to an involuntary confessional statement made under undue pressure and compulsion from the investigating officer, even when it leads to the recovery of material objects in relation to a crime. The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana and Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar made this observation while dismissing appeal against Madhya Pradesh High Court judgment acquitting the accused in a robbery and murder case. The Trial Court had sentenced the accused to death in this case.

Miscellaneous

Introduction Of Unit Area Method System Through NDMC Bye-laws Invalid

New Delhi Municipal Council v. Association of Concerned Citizens of New Delhi and Others

The Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court judgment that quashed the NDMC (Determination of Annual Rent) Bye-laws, 2009, that had introduced the system of Unit Area Method (UAM) for assessing property tax, on the ground that it is ultra vires the provisions of New Delhi Municipal Council Act.

'Security Clearance' By MHA Mandatory: SC Upholds Cancellation Of Licenses Of Cable TV Service Providers

Dig Cable Network (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India

The Supreme Court recently upheld cancellation of licenses granted to Digi Cable Network and SCOD 18 Networking, for operating as Multi System Operators (MSOs) in the Digital Addressable System (DAS) notified areas. The bench comprising of Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra observed that obtaining security clearance is a mandatory requirement as per Cable Television Network (Amendment) Rules.

Monsanto's Claim For GM Cotton Seeds Should Be Decided Based On Evidence; SC Sets Aside HC Order

Montaso Technology LLC v. Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd.

The Supreme Court ruled that US company Monsanto can claim patents on its genetically modified cotton seeds. The bench has set aside a decision of a division bench of the Delhi High Court by which Monsanto Technologies' patent in respect of its BT Cotton seeds was held to be inapplicable in India.

SC Tells LIC To Pay Rs 2L Compensation To Man Whose Money It Held Wrongfully For About 5 Years

Madhav Hari Joshi v. Regional Manager, LIC of India

The Supreme Court, while affirming a National Consumer Commission order to refund the money the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) held wrongfully from a man for nearly five years, also asked the corporation to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to him.

Other important developments
  • SC again refused to stay SC/ST Amendment Act, posts petitions for final hearing on Feb 19.
  • Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi assured that he shall consider the setting up of a constitution bench to deliberate on the interpretation of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013.
  • The Supreme Court directed Kari Chidambaram, son of Senior Advocate and former Union Minister P Chidambaram, to deposit Rs 10 crores with registry as one of the conditions for permitting him to go abroad.
  • The Supreme Court expressed surprise over an ex-parte ad-interim order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and observed that it flies in the face of the Code of Civil Procedure.
  • Justice Sikri-led bench asked the Centre as to why only retired or sitting bureaucrats were being shortlisted by the search committee for appointment as information commissioners.
  • While hearing a PIL for the humane treatment of the immigrants held in detention centres in Assam, the Supreme Court required the state to furnish details of the number of such centres and the number of inmates they house.
  • SC referred to larger bench a petition which sought discontinuance of a Hindu religion based song as a morning prayer in 1,125 Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) across the country on the ground that it was a religious instruction which will create a "lot of obstacles in developing a scientific temperament among the students".
  • Supreme Court agreed to hear in April the curative petition filed by the Centre in 2011 for additional compensation for Bhopal gas tragedy victims from US-