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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up

Arabhi Anandan
3 Feb 2020 5:56 AM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up
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● Coverage Of 'Flood & Inundation' Insurance Includes Damage Caused By Heavy Rains And Not Just Overflowing Of River [Oriental Insurance Company Ltd v M/s J K Cement Works Ltd] The issue before the Court was that whether these words included only damage caused by overflowing of rivers, or they included damages caused by heavy rains as well. To decide the matter, the...

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Coverage Of 'Flood & Inundation' Insurance Includes Damage Caused By Heavy Rains And Not Just Overflowing Of River [Oriental Insurance Company Ltd v M/s J K Cement Works Ltd]

The issue before the Court was that whether these words included only damage caused by overflowing of rivers, or they included damages caused by heavy rains as well. To decide the matter, the Division Bench comprising Justice Mohan M Shanthanagoudar and Justice Subhash Reddy referred to the meanings of these words as defined in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, Black's Law Dictionary. Based on these, the Court held that floods can be broadly divided into the following categories: coastal floods, fluvial floods (river floods), and pluvial floods (surface floods). Pluvial or surface floods refers to the accumulation of water in an area because of excessive rainfall. These floods occur independently of an overflowing water body. "Inundation" was said to be referring to both the act of overflow of water as well as the result of such overflow.

SC Dismisses Nirbhaya Convict Mukesh's Plea Against Mercy Rejection By President [Mukesh Kumar v. Union of India & Ors.]

A bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna reserved orders on the plea filed by Mukesh Singh, one of the four death row convicts against the rejection of his mercy plea. With this, the last legal remedy available for the convict against the death sentence has been extinguished. The court held that there was no merit in the contention that no material was placed before the President for decision. The bench added that alleged ill-treatment and cruelty in jail is no ground to grant mercy. Also, that the President has acted expeditiously is no ground to hold that there was non-application of mind, said the Court. The court also held that the quick consideration of the mercy petition and swift rejection of the same cannot be a ground for judicial review of the order passed under Article 72/161 of the Constitution.

Reasonable Possibility Of Acquittal: SC Grants Bail to NDPS Accused [Sujit Tiwari vs. State of Gujarat]

The bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta granted bail to an accused charged under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 on the ground that there is a reasonable possibility that he may be acquitted. The prosecution case against Sujit Tiwari was that he was aware of what his brother, accused in the NDPS case, was doing and was actively helping his brother. The Court noted that, other than a few WhatsApp messages and his own statement which he has resiled from, there is no other evidence. The Court also has imposed stringent conditions while granting bail.

Regular Inquiry Needed When Termination Of Employee's Service Is Stigmatic And Punitive [Dr Vijayakumaran CPV vs Central University of Kerala and others]

A 3-judge bench of the SC led by Justice A M Khanwilkar held that regular inquiry as per the service rules is necessary for the termination of the services of an employee when it is stigmatic and punitive. The Court was dealing with the appeal by Dr. Vijayakumaran C.P.V, an Associate Professor of Central University of Kerala, whose services were terminated after he was found to have sexually harassed some students. He was on probation then. When complaints of sexual harassment were raised against him by 40 students at various points of time, an Internal Complaints Committee was constituted as per the provisions of the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015 (for short, 'the 2015 Regulations').

Anticipatory Bail Cannot Be Limited To A Fixed Period Except In Special And Peculiar Circumstances [Sushila Aggarwal & Ors. v. State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr.]

The Supreme Court has held that anticipatory bail should not invariably be limited to a fixed period. But if there are any special or peculiar features necessitating the court to limit the tenure of anticipatory bail, it is open for it to do so, the five-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra has held. Justices MR Shah and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat penned separate judgments agreeing with each other. Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee and Vineet Saran concurred with the conclusion reached by both the judges. The Court also held that life or duration of an anticipatory bail order does not end normally at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court, or when charges are framed but can continue till the end of the trial except in special and peculiar cases.

Rights Cherished By Citizens Are Fundamental, Not The Restrictions [Sushila Aggarwal & Ors. v. State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr.]

Rights which the citizens cherish deeply are fundamental- it is not the restrictions that are fundamental, reminded Justice S. Ravindra Bhat while concluding his judgment on the issue whether the Anticipatory Bail Protection should be for a limited period. The Judge reproduced a quote of Joseph Story, the great jurist and US Supreme Court judge: "personal security and private property rest entirely upon the wisdom, the stability, and the integrity of the courts of justice." He said that arbitrary and groundless arrests continue as a pervasive phenomenon and cautioned against the restriction of power to grant anticipatory bail by judicial interpretation.

SC Dismisses Curative Petition Filed By Nirbhaya Convict Akshay [Akshay Kumar Singh v. The State of N.C.T of Delhi]

A 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the curative petitions of Akshay, one of the four convicts awaiting execution of the death penalty in the Nirbhaya gang rape-murder case. The bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan did not find any merits in the curative petitions. On January-14 the Supreme Court dismissed the curative petitions of Vinay Sharma and Mukesh, the other two convicts awaiting execution of the death penalty in the Nirbhaya gang rape-murder case.

Accused Released On Anticipatory Bail Need Not Surrender And Seek Regular Bail For Recovery Under Section 27 Evidence Act [Sushila Aggarwal & Ors. v. State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr.]

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court which held that anticipatory bail should not be limited by time under ordinary circumstances has also discussed in the judgment the impact of recovery under Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act on the bail granted. In this regard, the bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and Ravindra Bhat in the case Sushila Aggarwal and others v State of NCT of Delhi and others largely reaffirmed the principles laid down in the case Shri Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia and others v. State of Punjab (1980) 2 SCC 565.

MV Act -Claimant's Cross Objection For Enhanced Compensation Maintainable In Insurer's Appeal Against Award [Urmila Devi & Ors. v. Branch Manager, National Insurance Company Ltd. & Anr.]

An SC bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices Surya Kant and BR Gavai has held that claimant in a motor accident compensation case can file cross-objections in an appeal filed by the insurer against the award. The Court set aside a judgment of the Patna High Court which had held such a cross-objection by the claimant to be not maintainable. The insurer's appeal in the instant case was only with respect to not absolving it from liability to pay compensation. Unless the insurer challenges the quantum, the claimants cannot file cross-appeal for enhanced compensation, the HC ruled. This view was held to be unsustainable by the apex court.

SC Allows Goa Mining Companies To Transport Minerals Already Extracted Before March 15, 2018 [Chowgule and Company Private Ltd v Goa Foundation & Ors.]

The Supreme Court allowed the mining companies in Goa to transport all iron ores which were extracted before March 15, 2018, and for which royalty has been paid. A bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices Surya Kant and B R Gavai passed the order in a bunch of petitions filed by mining companies. In February 2018, the SC had quashed all iron ore mining leases in Goa in Goa Foundation case and had given time till March 15, 2018, to complete their "affairs".

Gujarat Riots: SC Grants Bail To Convicts In Sardarpura, Ode Massacre Cases, Asks Them To Do Spiritual/ Social Work [Prahladbhai Jagabhai Patel & Anr. v. The State of Gujarat]

The Supreme Court has granted bail to all 17 convicts in the Sardarpura massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots, where 33 Muslims including 22 women were killed. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices Surya Kant and BR Gavai passed the order on applications for bail filed by the convicts pending disposal of their appeal against the conviction and sentence. Court has further directed that Member Secretary of the Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority shall produce a certificate before the Court stating therein that the appellants are regularly engaged in any of the aforesaid program/services. The Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority shall also assist the appellants for obtaining employment in the district of Indore. The Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority shall submit a report of the compliance of the above conditions and regarding the general conduct of the appellants once in every three months initially.

Section 92 CPC Procedure Not Applicable In Suit By A Trust [Ghat Talab Kaulan Wala Vs. Baba Gopal (dead) by LR Ram Niwas]

The bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta observed that the procedure prescribed under Section 92 of the Code of Civil Procedure would not be applicable in a suit by a Trust. In this case, the Trust known as Ghat Talab Kaulan Wala filed the suit through one Charan Dass. The High Court had held that the suit is not maintainable without complying with the requirements of Section 92 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Magistrate While Holding Inquiry U/s 202 CrPC Required To Take A Broad View And a Prima Facie Case [Govind Prasad Kejriwal vs. State of Bihar]

The Supreme Court has observed that while holding the inquiry under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Magistrate is required to consider whether even a prima facie case is made out or not and whether the criminal proceedings initiated are an abuse of process of law or the Court or not and/or whether the dispute is purely of civil nature or not and/or whether the civil dispute is tried to be given a color of criminal dispute or not. The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah was considering an appeal against a High Court order which refused to quash criminal proceedings in a complaint case.

Unequivocal Statements Made By Counsel Will Be Binding On Clients [Om Kumar vs. Suresh Kumar]

The Supreme Court has observed that unequivocal statements made by counsel will be binding on their clients. In this case, counsel for the landlord made a statement before the High Court that the tenant will be re-­inducted in equal area in the newly constructed building within one month. Before the Apex Court, the issue was whether the landlord is bound by this statement made by the Counsel. The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Hemant Gupta and Dinesh Maheshwari noted that an unequivocal statement was made by the counsel engaged by the landlord to espouse his cause before the High Court. It also noted that there is no case that he had expressly instructed his counsel not to make such a statement.

Landlord Not Precluded From Making An Application For Fair Rent Determination During Subsistence Of Contractual Tenancy [N. Motilal Vs. Faisal Bin Ali]

The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah while Interpreting provisions of the Telangana Building (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1960, has held that a landlord is not precluded from making an application for determination of fair rent during the currency of agreed rent between the landlord and the tenant. The contention taken in this appeal was that the landlord is bound by the contractual rent and during the subsistence of contractual tenancy he cannot be allowed to file an application for enhancement of rent. It was contended that permitting the landlord to file an application for enhancement of rent even though he is bound by a contract, will be permitting something which is against Rent Control Legislation, which has to be interpreted in a manner so as to save tenant from exorbitant rent.

Power U/s 482 CrPC Cannot Be Exercised Where The Allegations Are Required To Be Proved In Court Of Law [State Of Madhya Pradesh Vs. Yogendra Singh Jadon & Anr.]

The bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta said the power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 cannot be exercised where the allegations are required to be proved in a court of law. In this case, the allegation was that the deceased father of the accused in connivance with other employees of a Cooperative Bank committed financial irregularities on the basis of forged documents by misusing his post and by providing fake loans to the relatives. The accused were charged for the offenses under Sections 420, 406, 409, 120B IPC.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday has directed the States, which have not yet issued Notifications for establishing the Gram Nyayalayas, to issue the same within four weeks. The bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari were considering a PIL filed by the National Federation Of Societies For Fast Justice. The court noted that though some States have issued Notifications for establishing the Gram Nyayalayas, all the established Gram Nyayalayas are not functioning. In some of the States, the proposals for establishing the Gram Nyayalayas are pending before the High Court for consultation and some of the States have not yet initiated the process of issuing Notifications for establishing such Nyayalayas, the bench observed.

DRT Has No Power To Condone Delay In Filing Review Application Under RDB Act [Standard Chartered Bank vs MSTC Ltd]

A bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and V Ramasubramanian held that the Debts Recovery Tribunal has no power to condone the delay in filing the application for review under the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act 1993(RDB Act). The Court held that the provisions of the Limitation Act, including the provision to condone delay under Section 5 of it, apply only to original applications filed under Section 19 of the RDB Act and not to review applications.

Non Sending Of Report U/s 57 NDPS Act Within 48 Hours Of Arrest Of Accused Will Not Vitiate Entire Proceedings [Gurmail Chand Vs. State Of Punjab]

The bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha has reiterated that merely because the report contemplated under Section 57 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was not sent within two days of the arrest of the accused, the entire proceedings will not be vitiated. The bench referred to the judgment in Sajan Abraham vs. State of Kerala, wherein it was held that non-compliance of Section 57 would not vitiate the prosecution case.

No IBC Provision That Resolution Plan Should Match Liquidation Value; Approved Resolution Plan Can't Be Withdrawn Under S12A [Maharashtra Seamless Ltd V Padmanabhan Venkatesh & Ors.]

The bench comprising Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Aniruddha Bose held that there is no requirement under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code that the resolution plan should match the liquidation value of the corporate debtor. The bench was considering the legality of an order of the National Company Law Appellant Tribunal, by which the Resolution Applicant (MSL) was directed to modify the resolution plan on the ground that it was below the liquidation value of the corporate debtor and that the operational creditors were not treated at par with the financial creditors.

No Obligation On Airlines To Escort Passenger To Boarding Gate After Issuing Boarding Pass [The Branch Manager, Indigo Airlines Kolkata & Anr. v. Kalpana Rani Debbarma & Ors.]

The bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed that there is no obligation on the airlines to escort every passenger after issuing him/her a boarding pass at the check-in counter until he/she reaches the boarding gate. Indigo Airlines had approached the Apex Court against Consumer Commission's decision to pay compensation to two passengers who missed their flight to Agartala. The bench observed that it is the primary obligation of the passenger, who has been issued a boarding pass to undergo the security check procedure and reach the boarding gate well before (at least 25 minutes before) the scheduled departure time.

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