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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up [April 5 To April 11, 2021]

Nupur Thapliyal
11 April 2021 12:07 PM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up [April 5 To April 11, 2021]
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IMPORTANT JUDGMENTS THIS WEEK1. Petition Styled As One Under Article 226 Would Not Bar High Court To Exercise Its Jurisdiction Which Otherwise It Possesses: Supreme CourtCase: Kiran Devi Vs. Bihar State Sunni Wakf Board [CA 6149 OF 2015] Citation: LL 2021 SC 195The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S. Abdul Nazeer and Hemant Gupta observed that a petition styled as one under Article...

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IMPORTANT JUDGMENTS THIS WEEK

1. Petition Styled As One Under Article 226 Would Not Bar High Court To Exercise Its Jurisdiction Which Otherwise It Possesses: Supreme Court

Case: Kiran Devi Vs. Bihar State Sunni Wakf Board [CA 6149 OF 2015]

Citation: LL 2021 SC 195

The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S. Abdul Nazeer and Hemant Gupta observed that a petition styled as one under Article 226 would not bar the High Court to exercise its jurisdiction which otherwise it possesses under a Statute and/or under Article 227 of the Constitution.

In this case, the appellant's contention was that the order of the Wakf Tribunal could not be challenged by way of writ petition before the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution as only a revision in terms of proviso to sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Wakf Act could be preferred.

The bench noted that sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Act confers power on the High Court to call for and examine the records relating to any dispute, question or other matter which has been determined by the Tribunal for the purpose of satisfying its elf as to the correctness, legality or propriety of such determination.

2. 'Frequent & Causal Summoning Of High Officials By Court Cannot Be Appreciated': Supreme Court

Case Title: State of UP & Ors. v. Manoj Kumar Sharma

Citation: LL 2021 SC 199

Division Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta observed that frequent, causal and lackadaisical summoning of high officials by the Court cannot be appreciated. The observation came in a SLP filed by the UP Government against a summoning order passed by the Allahabad High Court in a contempt case.

"Once the order of which contempt was alleged was stayed, there would be no cause for calling the officers as there was no question of any non-compliance of the order which had been stayed. This Court has even on various occasions through judicial pronouncements deprecated the practice of unnecessarily calling officers to Court. In that context, it has been observed that the trust, faith and confidence of the common man in the judiciary cannot be frittered away by unnecessary and unwarranted show or exercise of power." The Bench observed.

3. Question Of Novation Of Contract Cannot Be Considered In A Petition Under Section 11 Arbitration Act: Supreme Court

Case: Sanjiv Prakash Vs. Seema Kukreja 

Citation: LL 2021 SC 198

The bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, BR Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy observed that the question of novation of contract containing an arbitration clause cannot be considered by the Court in a petition filed under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.

The Court was considering an appeal against dismissal of a petition under Section 11 of the Act filed before the High Court of Delhi. The High Court was of the view that the memorandum of understanding [which contained the arbitration clause] ceased to exist on and from the date of the Shareholders' Agreement which superseded the aforesaid MoU and novated the same.

The court said that a Section 11 court would refer the matter when contentions relating to non-arbitrability are plainly arguable, or when facts are contested. The court cannot, at this stage, enter into a mini trial or elaborate review of the facts and law which would usurp the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal.

4. No Automatic Vacation Of Stay Under 3rd Proviso To Section 254(2A) Income Tax Act If Assessee Is Not Responsible For Delay In Hearing Appeal: Supreme Court

Case: Deputy Commissioner Of Income Tax vs. Pepsi Foods Ltd. [CA 1106 OF 2021]

Citation: LL 2021 SC 197

Bench comprising of Justices BR Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy upheld a Delhi High Court judgment which read down the third proviso to Section 254(2A) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

"The third proviso to Section 254(2A) of the Income Tax Act will now be read without the word "even" and the words "is not" after the words "delay in disposing of the appeal". Any order of stay shall stand vacated after the expiry of the period or periods mentioned in the Section only if the delay in disposing of the appeal is attributable to the assessee", the bench said.

The court noted that the object sought to be achieved by the third proviso to Section 254(2A) of the Income Tax Act is the speedy disposal of appeals before the Appellate Tribunal in cases in which a stay has been granted in favour of the assessee.

5. Quality Of Reasons Matters The Most: Supreme Court Sets Aside Bail Granted To Accused In Dowry Death Case

Case: Sonu vs. Sonu Yadav [Crl.A.377/2021]

Citation: LL 2021 SC 200

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah that while the reasons may be brief, it is the quality of the reasons which matters the most. The observation came while the bench was setting aside an Allahabad High Court which granted bail to a man accused in a dowry death case.

In this case, after recording the rival submissions, the High Court allowed the bail application, observing thus: "Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, submissions of learned counsel for the parties and keeping in view the nature of offence, evidence, complicity of accused and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Court is of the view that the applicant has made out a case for bail. The bail application is allowed."

6. High Court Under Article 226 And 227 Should Be Extremely Circumspect In Interfering With Orders Passed Under Arbitration Act: Supreme Court

Case: Navayuga Engineering Company Vs. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited [CA 1098-1099 OF 2021]

Citation: LL 2021 SC 203

The bench comprising Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai reiterated that a High Court while exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 and 227 should be extremely circumspect in interfering with orders passed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.

The bench held that such interference can be made only in cases of exceptional rarity or cases which are stated to be patently lacking in inherent jurisdiction.

"Despite this Court repeatedly referring to Section 5 of the Arbitration Act in particular and the Arbitration Act in general 2 and despite this Court having laid down in Deep Industries Ltd. Vs. ONGC & Anr. (2020) 15 SCC 706 that the High Court under Article 226 and 227 should be extremely circumspect in interfering with orders passed under the Arbitration Act, such interference being only in cases of exceptional rarity or cases which are stated to be patently lacking in inherent jurisdiction, we find that High Courts are interfering with deposit orders that have been made. This is not a case of exceptional rarity or of any patent lack of inherent jurisdiction." the bench held.

7. Hindu Undivided Family - No Presumption That Business Run By Karta In Tenented Premise Is Joint Family Asset : Supreme Court

Case: Kiran Devi Vs. Bihar State Sunni Wakf Board [CA 6149 OF 2015]

Citation: LL 2021 SC 195

Just because a business was run by a karta of a Hindu Undivided Family in a tenented premise, there is no presumption that it is a joint Hindu family business, held the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S Abdul Nazeer and Hemant Gupta.

Referring to a precedent, the Supreme Court held that there is no presumption under Hindu Law that business standing in the name of any member of the joint family is a joint business even if that member is the manager of the joint family, unless it could be shown that the business in the hands of the coparcener grew up with the assistance of the joint family property or joint familyfunds or that the earnings of the business were blended with the joint family estate. 

"..even if a male member had taken premises on rent, he is tenant in his individual capacity and not as Karta of Hindu Undivided Family in the absence of any evidence that Karta was doing the business for and on behalf of Joint Hindu Family", the Court added.

8. Quantity Of Narcotic Substance Recovered Is A Relevant Factor To Impose Punishment Higher Than The Minimum: Supreme Court

Case: Gurdev Singh vs. State of Punjab [CrA 375 OF 2021]

Citation: LL 2021 SC 196

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that quantity of narcotic substance recovered is a relevant factor that can be taken into account for imposing higher than the minimum punishment under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The Court also observed that the Court has a wide discretion to impose the sentence/imprisonment ranging between 10 years to 20 years and while imposing such sentence/imprisonment in addition, the Court may also take into consideration factor as it may deem fit other than the factors enumerated in Section 32B (a) to (f) of the Act.

"Therefore, quantity of substance would fall into "such factors as it may deem fit" and while exercising its discretion of imposing the sentence/imprisonment higher than the minimum, if the Court has taken into consideration such factor of larger/higher quantity of substance, it cannot be said that the Court has committed an error. The Court has a wide discretion to impose the sentence/imprisonment ranging between 10 years to 20 years and while imposing such sentence/imprisonment in addition, the Court may also take into consideration other factors as enumerated in Section 32B (a) to (f). Therefore, while imposing a punishment higher than the minimum sentence, if the Court has considered such factor as it may deem fit other than the factors enumerated in Section 32B (a) to (f), the High Court has to only consider whether "such factor" is a relevant factor or not." the Court held.

SIGNIFICANT APEX COURT UPDATES

1.'Right Not To Be Deported' Is Ancillary To A Fundamental Right Available Only To Indian Citizens : Supreme Court In Rohingyas Case

While rejecting a plea to stop the deportation of Rohingya refugees detained in Jammu, the Supreme Court bench headed by CJI SA Bobde observed that the right not to be deported is ancilliary to the fundamental right to reside or settle in any part of India guaranteed under Article 19(1)(e) of the Constitution.

The fundamental right under Article 19(1)(e) is available only to Indian citizens. "It is also true that the rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 are available to all persons who may or may not be citizens. But the right not to be deported, is ancillary or concomitant to the right to reside or settle in any part of the territory of India guaranteed under Article 19(1)(e)", the bench observed.

The bench observed that the Rohingyas in Jammu shall not be deported unless the procedure prescribed for such deportation is followed.

The court observed thus while dismissing interlocutory application filed seeking (i) the release of the detained Rohingya refugees; and (ii) a direction to the Union of India not to deport the Rohingya refugees who have been detained in the sub­jail in Jammu. Opposing this application, the centre had contended that that though the rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 may be available to non-­citizens, the fundamental right to reside and settle in this country guaranteed under Article 19(1)(e) is available only to the citizens. The Centre also alleged that (i) there is a threat to internal security of the country; and (ii) the agents and touts providing a safe passage into India for illegal immigrants, due to the porous nature of the landed borders.

Read Also: Supreme Court Allows Deportation Of Rohingyas To Myanmar As Per Procedure Prescribed [Read Order]

2. 'Don't See A Reason Why A Person Above 18 Can't Choose His Religion; There's A Reason Why The Word 'Propagate' Is There In Constitution' :Supreme Court

"I don't see a reason as to why any person above 18 cannot choose his religion. There is a reason why the word "propagate" is there in the Constitution", observed Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Faliman Nariman this week while hearing a PIL filed by Ashwini Upadhyaya seeking to control black magic, superstition & mass religious conversion of SC/STs through intimidation, threats & gifts.

Observing that the PIL was nothing but a "publicity interest litigation", which was of a "harmful kind", the bench warned the petitioner that heavy costs will be imposed if the matter was pressed.

The plea alleged that incidents of forceful religious conversion by "carrot and stick", use of black magic, etc., are reported every week throughout the country. According to the petitioner, the victims of such forceful conversions were often socially and economically under privileged people, particularly belonging to the SC-ST.

3. 'Serious Allegations' : Supreme Court Dismisses Appeals Of Maharashtra Govt, Anil Deshmukh Against CBI Enquiry On Param Bir Singh's Allegations

The bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta this week dismissed the petitions filed by Maharashtra Government and its former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh challenging the Bombay High Court direction for CBI preliminary enquiry on the allegations raised by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.

"Given the serious nature of allegations, and the personas involved, the matter do require an independent agency to investigate the matter. It is a matter of public confidence. We may also note that what has been ordered is only a preliminary enquiry. Therefore, we are no inclined to interfere with the impugned order". the benc observed.

4. Supreme Court Mulls Guidelines For Appointment Of Ad-Hoc Judges Under Article 224A; Seeks Views Of High Courts

The bench headed by CJI SA Bobde this week said that it was intending to lay down guidelines for the appointment of ad-hoc judges in the High Courts under Article 224A of the Constitution to tackle the problem of mounting case arrears.

While considering a PIL filed by an NGO named Lok Prahari seeking the use of Article 224A, the Court required the senior advocates representing different High Courts to submit suggestions regarding the appointment process, after having a conference with each other.

"We want to lay down circumstances in which appointments process for ad-hoc judges should be activated", CJI SA Bobde said during the hearing.

"If the pendency in a certain jurisdiction or branch, be it criminal, civil or tax, goes up beyond a particular percentage, this can be activated. That has to be scientifically established. If the pendency is beyond a particular percentage, that will determine the tenure. The Chief Justice will based on pendency see how many ad-hoc judges are to be appointed", the CJI said.

5. Alleged Attack On West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee: Supreme Court Refuses To Entertain Plea Seeking CBI Probe, Asks To Approach High Court

Supreme Court has this week declined to entertain a plea filed seeking directions to CBI to investigate the incident injuring West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

A three judge Bench led by CJI has granted the petitioners liberty to withdraw the plea and approach the Calcutta High Court. The Court was hearing a PIL filed seeking investigation into the alleged attack on CM Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram while she was in rally for filing nomination

The petition has been filed by three lawyers Shubham Awasthi, Akash Sharma and Sapta Rishi Mishra seeking issuance of guidelines and directions for investigation of future similar incidents which affect the Electoral machinery, to uphold the basic tenet of free, fair and transparent elections in the Country. The plea also sought directions for creation of temporary body with extensive powers to look into election violence and punish the perpetrators, and for enhanced punishments for poll violence.

6. Supreme Court To Pronounce Judgment Next Week On Justice Eswaraiah's Challenge Against AP HC Enquiry Into Alleged 'Phone Call Conspiracy'

Dismissing an interlocutory application filed seeking to re-open arguments in the petition of former Andhra Pradesh High Court judge Justce V Eswaraiah, the Supreme Court this week said that it will pronounce judgment in the case next week, on April 12.

The former High Court judge has filed the petition in the Supreme Court against an order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court directing for a judicial inquiry into an alleged phone conversation between him and a District Judge plotting 'conspiracy' against the Chief Justice of the High Court and a sitting Supreme Court Judge.

7. SC Reserves Order In Bail Plea Of Former Karnataka Minister and Mining Baron Gali Janardhan Reddy

The Supreme Court this week reserved order in the plea seeking bail filed by former Karnataka minister and mining baron, Gali Janardhan Reddy, who has been accused in a multi-million illegal mining case(s).

A Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan heard the arguments put forth by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi on behalf of Reddy and ASG Madhavi Goradia Divan before proceeding to reserve the order in the matter.

Reddy was made a minister in the BS Yeddyurappa Government formed after the Bharatiya Janata Party won the Assembly elections in Karnataka in 2008. Three years later, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested him on charges of illegal mining. He was again arrested in 2015 and granted bail.

8. "You Are Only Telling Us Difficulties And Not Impossibilities": Supreme Court Tells Centre, Reserves Order In Plea Seeking Protection Of Great Indian Bustard

The Supreme Court has this week reserved its order in plea filed seeking protection for Great Indian Bustard from transmission lines in States of Rajasthan and Gujarat. A three-judge Bench of CJI Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian concluded hearing the arguments of all parties regarding under grounding of low and high voltage transmission lines to protect Great Indian Bustards which is an endangered species.

The Court had previously observed that it can consider directing under-grounding of the low voltage transmission lines in states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and installation of Bird diverters in case of High transmission lines, for protection of the Great Indian Bustard.

9. Hindustan Zinc Disinvestment Case: Supreme Court Decides To Examine Status Report By CBI, Adjourns Hearing To Tuesday

Supreme Court this week observed that it will examine the status report submitted by CBI in matter regarding disinvestment of the Government's shares in Hindustan Zinc Limited in 2002.

A three-judge Bench of CJI Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian has decided to go through the Status report and take up the matter on Tuesday. The Court was hearing a plea by National Confederation of Officers' Associations of Central Public Sector Undertakings questioning the Centre's decision to disinvest in Hindustan Zinc.

Read Also: "Your Lordship Must Stop Him": SG Tushar Mehta Vs Prashant Bhushan -Courtroom Exchange in Zinc Disinvestment Matter

10. Supreme Court Stays Karnataka HC Order Restoring 'Land De-Notification Corruption Case' Against CM Yediyurappa

The Supreme Court this week stayed an order of the Karnataka High Court, restoring the corruption case filed against Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, in relation to alleged land de-notification.

A Bench led by CJI SA Bobde has issued notice on the plea field Yediyurppa, challenging the High Court's order, and granted interim relief od stay, on a request made by Yediyurppa's counsel, Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan.

The case pertains to a private complaint filed against Yediyurppa under section 200 of CrPC, alleging that during his CM tenure of 2008-12, Yediyurppa illegally de-notified 20 acres of private land from land acquisition proceedings, to give undue favours to private parties, and caused loss to public exchequer by forfeiting service fee of Rs.2,64,00,000 and development fee of Rs.6.00 crores.

11. Supreme Court Appoints Two Special Courts To Try Coal Block Allocation Cases, Arun Bhardwaj, Sanjay Bansal Appointed As Special Judges

Supreme Court has this week decided to appoint two Special Courts to deal with and exclusively try the offences pertaining to coal block allocation matters. A three-judge Bench of CJI Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian has appointed Mr. Arun Bhardwaj and Mr Sanjay Bansal as Special Judges for Special Courts 1 and 2 in order of their seniority.

The decision to appoint two Special Courts has been taken by the Court in consideration of suggestion made by Sr Adv RS Cheema Previously there was only one Special Court which was appointed by the the Apex Court in 2014 with Mr Bharat Parashar as the Special Judge.

Supreme Court had in August 2014 quashed 214 coal block allocations that the central government had allocated between 1993 and 2010. A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha had cancelled all but 4 of 218 allocations calling them arbitrary, illegal and amounting to unfair distribution of national wealth The decision had come in response to plea filed by NGO Common Cause and others challenging the legality of allocation of coal blocks to private companies from 1993 onwards.

12. Goa Assembly Speaker Agrees To Pass Orders On Disqualification Of 10 MLAs Who Moved From Congress To BJP: SG Tells Supreme Court

Supreme Court has this week has been told that the Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly has agreed to pass its final order regarding disqualification of the MLAs who moved from Congress to BJP.

A three-judge Bench led by CJI was hearing the plea filed a plea filed by Goa Congress Chief Girish Chodankar seeking for a direction to the Goa Assembly Speaker to dispose of the disqualification proceedings expeditiously

The petition, filed against the Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly and ten MLAs, states that the MLAs had shifted from Congress to BJP. Accordingly, a disqualification petition was filed against them for defection before the Speaker. However, despite the same having been filed in 2019, the plea is yet to be heard.

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