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Supreme Court Monthly Digest: May 2021 [Citation LL 2021 SC 240 To LL 2021 SC 262]

Akshita Saxena
12 Jun 2021 3:25 AM GMT
Supreme Court Monthly Digest: May 2021 [Citation LL 2021 SC 240 To LL 2021 SC 262]
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1. Supreme Court Upholds Constitutional Validity of the Rajasthan Schools (Regulation of Fee) Act; Reads Down Sections 4, 7 and 10 [Case: Indian School, Jodhpur v. State Of Rajasthan; Citation: LL 2021 SC 240] A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari upheld the constitutional validity of the Rajasthan Schools (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2016. "The...

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1. Supreme Court Upholds Constitutional Validity of the Rajasthan Schools (Regulation of Fee) Act; Reads Down Sections 4, 7 and 10

[Case: Indian School, Jodhpur v. State Of Rajasthan; Citation: LL 2021 SC 240]

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari upheld the constitutional validity of the Rajasthan Schools (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2016. "The dispensation envisaged under Section 6 of the impugned Act of 2016 is not intended to undermine the autonomy of the school Management in the matter of determination of fee structure itself. What it envisages is that the school Management may determine its own fee structure, but may finalise or give effect to the same after interacting with the SLFC", the Court clarified. However, the Court read down Sections 4, 7 and 10 of the Act that pertain to members and membership of the SLFC.

It also held that State's regulation of profiteering by education institutions cannot be held to be violating the managements' fundamental right to trade and profession under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. In this context, it directed the schools to provide deduction of 15 per cent on that amount in lieu of unutilised facilities by the students during the relevant period of academic year 2020­-21.

Also Read: State Regulation Of Profiteering By Schools Does Not Violate Managements' Fundamental Rights Under Article 19(1)(g): Supreme Court

Also Read: Supreme Court Directs Rajasthan Private Schools To Give 15% Deduction In Annual School Fees; No Student To Be Debarred For Non-Payment Of Fees

Also Read: Authorities Under Disaster Management Act Cannot Alter Fee Structure Of Private Schools: Supreme Court

2. "Encroachment Of State Legislature Upon The Domain Of Parliament": Supreme Court Strikes Down West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act

[Case: Forum for People's Collective Efforts v. State of West Bengal; Citation: LL 2021 SC 241]

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah struck down the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act, 2017, holding it to be unconstitutional in view of the 2017 Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act which is the central legislation on the identical subject-matter. However, with a view to prevent any chaos in the real estate industry in the state, the Court in exercise of its powers under Article 142, clarified that all sanctions and registrations previously granted under the HIRA prior to the date of this judgment shall continue to prevail

The Court also added that the striking down of the 2017 state Act would not revive the 1993 Act which was in force in the state for the regulation of promotion of construction as the same stood impliedly repealed by the enactment of the RERA.

Also Read: Concept Of Repugnancy Under Article 254 : Supreme Court Explains

3. No Scope For Adopting Either A Liberal Or A Narrow Approach In Construing Contractual Clause, Reiterates Supreme Court

[Case: Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) v. ES Solar Power Pvt. Ltd.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 242]

A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran reiterated the principles for interpretation of a contract. "In seeking to construe a clause in a Contract, there is no scope for adopting either a liberal or a narrow approach, whatever that may mean. The exercise which has to be undertaken is to determine what the words used mean," it observed.

The Court observed thus while dismissing an appeal against a judgment of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity at Delhi by which the order passed by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) was reversed. KERC had dismissed the petitions filed against the reduction of the tariff payable by Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) from Rs. 6.10/kWh to Rs. 4.36/kWh and imposition of damages of Rs. 20,00,000/- for delay in commissioning the plan.

4. Supreme Court Strikes Down Maratha Quota; Says No Exceptional Circumstance To Grant Reservation In Excess Of 50% Ceiling Limit

[Case: Dr Jaishree Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister; Citation: LL 2021 SC 243]

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat has struck down the Maratha quota in excess of 50% ceiling limit as unconstitutional. The Court unanimously held that there were no exceptional circumstances justifying the grant of reservation to Marathas in excess of 50% ceiling limit as a Socially and Economically Backward Class. The Court has held by 3:2 majority that the 102nd Constitution Amendment has abrogated the power of states to identify "Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs)".

The majority judgment held that after the introduction of Articles 338B and 342A to the Constitution "the final say in regard to inclusion or exclusion (or modification of lists) of SEBCs is firstly with the President, and thereafter, in case of modification or exclusion from the lists initially published, with the Parliament".

The Court also held that alteration of the content of state legislative power in an oblique and peripheral manner would not constitute a violation of the concept of federalism or basic structure of the Constitution.

Also Read: States Have No Power To 'Identify' Socially & Educationally Backward Classes After 102nd Constitution Amendment : Supreme Court Holds By 3:2 Majority

Also Read: 'To Change 50% Reservation Limit Is To Have A Society Which Is Not Founded On Equality But Based On Caste Rule': SC Refuses To Revisit Indra Sawhney Judgment

Also Read: Reservation In Public Services Not The Only Method For Improving Welfare Of Backward Classes; State Should Bring Other Measures: Supreme Court

Also Read: Alteration Of Content Of State Legislative Power In An Oblique & Peripheral Manner Would Not Constitute A Violation Of Basic Structure: Supreme Court

Also Read: Parliamentary Committee, Minister & AG Said 102nd Constitutional Amendment Won't Affect States' Power To Identify SEBCs; Supreme Court Holds Otherwise

Also Read: Will Maratha Quota Case Verdict Impact 10% EWS Quota Above 50% Ceiling Limit?

5. 'Citizens Have Right To Know What Transpires In Judicial Proceedings': Supreme Court Upholds Media's Freedom To Report Court Hearings

[Case: Election Commission of India v. MR Vijaya Bhaskar; Citation: LL 2021 SC 244]

A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah upheld the freedom of media to report the oral observations and discussions made by judges and lawyers during a court proceeding. It held that freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) extends to reporting judicial proceedings as well. "The concept of an open court requires that information relating to a court proceeding must be available in the public domain. Citizens have a right to know about what transpires in the course of judicial proceedings", it observed.

The bench was delivering its judgment in a petition filed by the Election Commission of India seeking to restrain media from reporting oral remarks made by judges, after the Madras High Court orally said that the ECI "should probably be booked for murder" for being "singularly responsible for COVID second wave" by allowing election rallies.

Also Read: No Question Of Expunging Judges' Oral Remarks Which Are Not Part Of Judicial Record: Supreme Court In ECI Case

Also Read: Real Time Reporting Of Court Hearing In Social Media Not A Cause Of Apprehension; A Virtual Extension Of 'Open Court': Supreme Court

Also Read: Unless Live-streaming Sees Light Of The Day, Absence Of Records Of Oral Proceedings Would Continue To Bedevil The System: Supreme Court

6. Non-Examination Of Independent Witnesses Not Fatal To Prosecution Case, Reiterates Supreme Court

[Case: Guru Dutt Pathak v. State of Uttar Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 245]

A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah reiterated that non-examination of independent witnesses is not fatal to the case of the prosecution when other prosecution witnesses are found to be trustworthy and reliable. The Court observed thus while dismissing an appeal against Allahabad High Court judgment which had reversed the judgment and order of acquittal passed by the trial Court acquitting the accused in a murder case. One of the accused approached the Apex Court by filing an appeal.

Before the Apex Court, he contended that all the prosecution witnesses, so called eyewitnesses, are all related and interested witnesses. It was further contended that no independent witness has been examined and that the prosecution witnesses are chance witnesses. Referring to the High Court judgment, the bench observed that when there are clinching evidence of eyewitnesses, mere non-examination of some of the witnesses/independent witnesses and/or in absence of examination of any independent witnesses would not be fatal to the case of the prosecution.

7. Orders Framing Charges Or Refusing Discharge Neither Interlocutory Nor Final; Not Affected By Bar U/Sec 397 (2) CrPC: Supreme Court

[Case: Sanjay Kumar Rai v. State of Uttar Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 246]

A bench comprising of CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose held that orders framing charges or refusing discharge are neither interlocutory nor final in nature and are therefore not affected by the bar of Section 397 (2) of CrPC.

The Court observed thus while allowing appeal against the Allahabad High Court order which dismissed a Criminal Revision Petition against a Trial court order dismissing a discharge application. The High Court was of the view that it lacked jurisdiction under Section 397 of Cr.P.C to interfere with CJM order. It relied on Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2018) 16 SCC 299 to hold that interference in the order framing charges or refusing to discharge is called for in rarest of rare case only to correct the patent error of jurisdiction.

8. Evidence Act - Proviso 6 To Section 92 Will Not Apply If The Document Is Straightforward With No Ambiguity: Supreme Court

[Case: Mangala Waman Karandikar (D) TR. LRS v.Prakash Damodar Ranad; Citation: LL 2021 SC 247]

A Bench comprising of CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose held that the proviso 6 to Section 92 of the Evidence Act will not apply if a document is straightforward, without any ambiguity in meaning. The provision bars giving oral evidence with respect to the contents of a written document. However, proviso 6 to Section 92 allows the admission of facts external to the document which shows in what manner the language of a document is related to existing facts.

The Supreme Court was considering an appeal in which the question was whether the agreement in the case should be interpreted as a license to run a business or a license to occupy the rented premises in which the business was located.

9. No Arrests In Violation Of Arnesh Kumar Verdict; HPCs Should Release All Prisoners Who Were Released Earlier: SC Passes Directions To De-Congest Prisons

[Case: Re : Contagion Of Covid 19 Virus In Prisons; Citation: LL 2021 SC 248]

Taking note of the surge of the second wave of COVID pandemic, a bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justices L Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant passed a slew of directions to de-congest prisons. It held that authorities should not make arrests in violation of the guidelines laid down in the 2014 judgment in the case Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, which had held that arrests should be an exception in cases where the offences are punishable with less than 7 years imprisonment.

The Court also directed that the High­ Powered Committees constituted by the State Governments/Union Territories shall consider release of prisoners by adopting the guidelines (such as inter alia, SOP laid down by NALSA) followed by them last year, at the earliest. All those inmates who were granted parole, pursuant to Supreme Court's earlier orders, should be again granted a parole for a period of 90 days in order to tide over the pandemic.

Also Read: 'Some Prisoners Might Not Be Willing To Be Released Due To Their Social Background': Supreme Court Issues Directions To Prison Authorities For Protection Of Inmates From COVID

10. Witnesses' Evidence Cannot Be Discarded As A Whole Merely Because There Are Exaggerations, Reiterates Supreme Court

[Case: Achhar Singh v. State of Himachal Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 249]

A bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose observed that evidence given by a witness cannot be discarded as a whole on the ground that it is exaggerated. "To make a mountain out of a molehill, the molehill shall have to exist primarily. A Court of law, being mindful of such distinction is duty bound to disseminate 'truth' from 'falsehood' and sift the grain from the chaff in case of exaggerations", it observed.

In this case, the appellant-convicts contended that the statements made by the prosecution witnesses contained exaggerations and therefore it was wrong to convict him on the basis of such statements. According to the FIR, the deceased died owing to a single axe blow inflicted by the accused and the post­ mortem report also showed only one head injury on her person. However, three prosecution eyewitnesses, deposed that the first accused gave two axe blows on her head and then co ­accused also hit the deceased's left ear with an axe twice. In appeal, the Court agreed with the State's contention that even in cases where a major portion of the evidence is found deficient, if the residue is sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused, conviction can be based on it.

11. Supreme Court Constitutes National Task Force To Formulate Methodology For Scientific Allocation Of Medical Oxygen To States, UTs

[Case: Union of India v. Rakesh Malhotra; Citation: LL 2021 SC 250]

A division bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah constituted a 12-member National Task Force to formulate a methodology for scientific allocation of liquid medical oxygen to all the States and Union Territories in order to deal with the dearth of oxygen supply amid the second Covid wave. The Task Force which will be at liberty to draw upon the human resources of the Union Government for consultation and information and may also constitute one or more sub-groups on specialised areas or regions for assisting it, before finalising its recommendations.

The Court constituted the task force after noting deficiencies in the Centre's formula for oxygen allocation, which is based on hospital-beds in a state. The Court had earlier flagged that this formula required a re-look as it did not take into account individuals who may not have secured hospital admission, but are in need of oxygen support.

Also Read: Supreme Court Directs Audit Of Medical Oxygen Supplied To States/UTs To Ensure Accountability

Also Read: No Material Produced By Centre To Show Increasing Delhi's Oxygen Allocation By 210 MT Will Reduce Other States' Quota: Supreme Court

12. Dying Declaration Can Be Sole Basis For Conviction Only When Court Is Satisfied That It Is True And Voluntary, Reiterates Supreme Court

[Case: Jayamma v. State of Karnataka; Citation: LL 2021 SC 251]

A Bench of CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose reiterated that a Court must be satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary, and only then could it be the sole basis for conviction without corroboration. In this case, the Karnataka High Court reversed the acquittal recorded by the Trial Court and convicted the accused in a murder case. To convict them, the High Court relied on the dying declaration made by the deceased.

In appeal, the court noted the following factors (i) interpolation in the dying declaration (ii) contradiction in the statements of prosecution witnesses regarding injuries on the palm, (iii) the victim with 80% injuries was apparently not in a situation to talk or give statement, (iv) PW-2, son of the deceased himself has stated that his mother committed suicide as she could not bear that her another son had been sent to jail, (v) there being no corroborative evidence to the statement , and (vi) there is no other evidence led by the prosecution to connect the appellants with the crime except the statement.

13. Motor Accident Compensation - Self-Employed Deceased Aged Below 40 Years Entitled To 40% Addition As Future Prospects : Supreme Court

[Case: Rahul Sharma & Anr. v. National Insurance Company Ltd & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 252]

A Bench comprising of CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose reiterated that addition of 40% income must be given towards future prospects while computing motor accident compensation if the deceased was self-employed and was aged less than aged 40 years.

The High Court had held that the deceased in the case was ineligible for future prospects as she was self-employed. It had also deduced 50% towards personal expenses of the deceased. The Supreme Court found fault with this approach, as the Pranay Sethi judgment had held that deduction towards personal expenses must be 1/3rd of the income when the deceased was married with two dependents.

14. Mere Language Problem Of A Party Not A Ground To Transfer A Case U/s 406 CrPC: Supreme Court

[Case: Rajkumar Sabu v. Sabu Trade Private Limited; Citation: LL 2021 SC 253]

A Bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose held that a criminal case cannot be transferred under Section 406 CrPC merely because the party does not understand the language of the Court which has jurisdiction to hear the case.

The court observed thus while dismissing a transfer petition filed by one Rajkumar Sabu, against whom a criminal case is pending in Salem Court, that he is not being able to understand Tamil language, and therefore the case ought to be transferred to a Court in Delhi. He relied on the decision in Sri Jayendra Saraswathy Swamigal (II), TN v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors. [(2005) 8 SCC 771].

"....But language was not the criteria based on which transfer of the case was directed. The language factor weighed with this Court while deciding the forum to which the case was to be transferred after decision was taken to transfer the case for certain other reasons", the court said.

15. Will Habeas Corpus Petition Lie Against Remand Order? Supreme Court Answers

[Case: Gautam Navlakha v. National Investigation Agency; Citation: LL 2021 SC 254]

A bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph observed that a Habeas Corpus petition challenging a remand order can be entertained only if the remand is absolutely illegal or the remand is afflicted with the vice of lack of jurisdiction, of if it is passed in an absolutely mechanical manner.

These observations were made while considering the appeal filed by Gautam Navlakha seeking default bail in the Bhima Koregaon case. The appeal was against the order passed by the Delhi High Court in the Habeas Corpus petition filed before it.

The court noted that in Manubhai Ratilal Patel v. State of Gujarat (2013) 1 SCC 314, it was held that a writ of habeas corpus is not to be entertained when a person is committed to judicial custody or police custody by the competent court by an order which prima facie does not appear to be without jurisdiction or passed in an absolutely mechanical manner or wholly illegal. It also referred to judgment in Serious Fraud Investigation Office and Ors. vs. Rahul Modi (2019) 5 SCC 266 in which it was observed that the act of directing remand of an accused is thus held to be a judicial function and the challenge to the order of remand is not to be entertained in a habeas corpus petition.

Also Read: Courts Can Order House Arrest U/s 167 CrPC In Appropriate Cases: Supreme Court

Also Read: Supreme Court Dismisses Gautam Navlakha's Plea For Default Bail In Bhima Koregaon Case

Also Read: Remand Power U/s 167 CrPC Can Also Be Exercised By Courts Superior To Magistrate: Supreme Court

16. Existence Of Arbitration Clause Does Not Debar Court From Entertaining A Writ Petition In Contractual Matter: Supreme Court

[Case: Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. v. CG Power And Industrial Solutions Limited; Citation: LL 2021 SC 255]

A Bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Indira Banerjee observed that the existence of an arbitration clause does not debar the court from entertaining a writ petition. It reiterated that relief under Article 226 of the Constitution of India may be granted in a case arising out of contract.

"It is well settled that availability of an alternative remedy does not prohibit the High Court from entertaining a writ petition in an appropriate case. The High Court may entertain a writ petition, notwithstanding the availability of an alternative remedy, particularly (1) where the writ petition seeks enforcement of a fundamental right; (ii) where there is failure of principles of natural justice or (iii) where the impugned orders or proceedings are wholly without jurisdiction or (iv) the vires of an Act is under challenge", the Court held.

17. Provide Dry Ration, Open Community Kitchens For Migrant Workers Stranded In NCR: Supreme Court Directs Delhi, UP, Haryana Govts

[Case: In Re Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers; Citation: LL 2021 SC 256]

A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah directed the Central Government and Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, States of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to provide dry ration to migrant workers in National Capital Region. While doing so, the States shall not insist on an identity card for those migrant labourers who do not possess for the time being and on self-declaration made by the stranded migrant labourers dry ration be given to them.

Further, GNCTD, States of UP and Haryana have also been directed to set up community kitchens at well-advertised places in NCR for stranded migrant workers, as well as their families, and ensure that they are provided two meals a day. The Court also directed GNCTD, UP and Haryana Governments to ensure that adequate transport is provided to stranded migrant workers in NCR who wish to return to their homes.

18. Premature Release - UP Govt.'s Policy To Release Prisoners Only On Republic Day Arbitrary: Supreme Asks Govt To Consider All Eligible Persons Regardless Of Application

[Case: Beche Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 256A]

A bench of Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari on May 4 told the state of UP to not deem as ineligible for consideration for premature release those life convicts who have not specifically applied for the relief, and obligated the state government to conduct periodical assessments to identify those who are so entitled.

It may be noted that clause 3 (a) of the UP Government's policy of August 1, 2018 (framed under Article 161) stipulates that where no application/prayer/representation requesting premature release is preferred, the convict would be deemed covered under the restricted category and such non-application would be one of the basis under the policy to denude their claim for remission.

"We cannot approve the policy that those who do not specifically apply for remission would fall in the restricted category and would be ineligible for consideration", the Court said. The bench was considering a batch of writ applications for premature release of persons sentenced to life imprisonment, after completion of over 14 years of imprisonment. The petitioners have remained incarcerated for actual periods ranging from 16 years to 24 years without remission and 20 years to 31 years with remission. The convictions were primarily under Section 302, 302/149 of the Penal Code.

19. IBC - Approval Of Resolution Plan Does Not By Itself Discharge Liabilities Of Personal Guarantor Of Corporate Debtor: Supreme Court

[Case: Lalit Kumar Jain vs. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India; Citation: LL 2021 SC 257]

A Bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat held that the approval of a resolution plan does not ipso facto discharge a personal guarantor of a corporate debtor. The release or discharge of a principal borrower from the debt owed by it to its creditor, by an involuntary process, i.e. by operation of law, or due to liquidation or insolvency proceeding, does not absolve the surety/guarantor of his or her liability, which arises out of an independent contract, the Court observed in the judgment in which it upheld the provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 which applies to personal guarantors of corporate debtors.

It referred to recent judgments in State Bank of India v. V. Ramakrishnan, Committee of Creditors of Essar Steel (I) Ltd. v. Satish Kumar Gupta, and observed that the sanction of a resolution plan and finality imparted to it by Section 31 does not per se operate as a discharge of the guarantor's liability. It said that an involuntary act of the principal debtor leading to loss of security, would not absolve a guarantor of its liability.

Also Read: Supreme Court Upholds IBC Provisions Applicable To Personal Guarantors Of Corporate Debtors

20. Doctrine Of Impossibility Applicable To Court Orders; Possibility Of Implementation Should Be Considered: Supreme Court

[Case: State of Uttar Pradesh v. In Re Inhuman Condition at Quarantine Centres and for Providing Better Treatment to Corona Positive; Citation: LL 2021 SC 258]

"Doctrine of impossibility is applicable to Court orders as well", said the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the directions issued by Allahabad High Court on May 17 for upgradation of medical facilities in the State of Uttar Pradesh on a war-scale footing.

Stating that High Courts should avoid passing orders that are not capable of being implemented, a Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai noted, "…we are of the opinion that the High Court should normally consider the possibility of the implementation of the directions given by it, and such directions which are incapable of being implemented should be avoided".

Also Read: 'High Court Should Avoid Passing Orders Which Are Difficult To Implement': Supreme Court Stays Allahabad HC Directions For Improving Health Care System Of Uttar Pradesh

Also Read: 'We Cannot Demoralize High Courts':SC Rejects SG Tushar Mehta's Request To Direct All HCs To List Covid Cases Before Chief Justice-led Benches

21. States/UTs Should Provide Dry Ration, Community Kitchens For Stranded Migrants Workers: Supreme Court

[Case: In Re: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Workers; Citation: LL 2021 SC 259]

A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah directed for dry ration to be distributed to migrant workers stranded throughout the country under Atma Nirbhar Scheme or any other scheme found suitable by the States/Centre.

Directions were given to the States to file Affidavits indicating the mechanism by which dry ration would be distributed to those who do not possess a ration card, and that it is for the States to decide which scheme would be utilized for the same.

"Whether the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme of the Union o fIndia, which was implemented for giving dry rations to migrant workers in May and June, 2020 is to be utilized or some other scheme has to be utilized is a matter for States to take a decision but the dry ration has to be distributed to the migrant workers throughout the country by the States", the Court ordered.

22. Section 313 CrPC Examination Not A Mere Procedural Formality; Trial Court Has To Question Accused Fairly With Care And Caution: Supreme Court

[Case: Satbir Singh v. State Of Haryana; Citation: LL 2021 SC 260]

A bench comprising CJI NV Ramana and Justice Aniruddha Bose expressed its concern over recording of statements under Section 313 of Code of Criminal Procedure in a very casual and cursory manner. The bench observed that the examination of an accused under Section 313, CrPC cannot be treated as a mere procedural formality, as it based on the fundamental principle of fairness.

The court observed thus while dismissing the appeal filed by accused who were convicted under Section 304B IPC. The appellants were convicted by the Trial Court for the offences under Sections 304­B and 306, IPC and were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years for the offence punishable under Section 304­B, IPC and to undergo rigorous imprisonment for five years for the offence punishable under Section 306, IPC. The High Court had upheld the Trial Court judgment.

23. High Courts Can Grant Protection To Accused While Dismissing Anticipatory Bail Plea In Exceptional Circumstances: Supreme Court

[Case: Nathu Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh; Citation: LL 2021 SC 261]

A bench comprising of CJI Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose observed that a High Court, while dismissing anticipatory bail applications, can issue protective orders only when there are exceptional circumstances.

"Even when the Court is not inclined to grant anticipatory bail to an accused, there may be circumstances where the High Court is of the opinion that it is necessary to protect the person apprehending arrest for some time, due to exceptional circumstances, until they surrender before the Trial Court. For example, the applicant may plead protection for some time as he/she is the primary caregiver or breadwinner of his/her family members, and needs to make arrangements for them. In such extraordinary circumstances, when a strict case for grant of anticipatory bail is not made out, and rather the investigating authority has made out a case for custodial investigation, it cannot be stated that the High Court has no power to ensure justice. It needs no mentioning, but this Court may also exercise its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to pass such an order.", the bench observed.

24. Supreme Court Grants Bail To YSRCP MP Raghu Rama Krishna Raju In Sedition Case

[Case: Kanumuri Raghurama Krishnam Raju v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.; Citation: LL 2021 SC 261A]

A Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai granted bail to YSR Congress MP K. Raghu Rama Krishnam Raju from Andhra Pradesh, who was arrested by Guntur CID on May 14 for alleged sedition and promotion of communal hatred over his speeches.

It observed that custodial interrogation would not be required as all statements of Petitioner are on record. The bench also took note of the medical condition of the petitioner, having regard to the heart surgery underwent by him last year. The bench also opined on the basis of the medical report from Army Hospital, Secundarabad, that possibilities of the petitioner's ill-treatment in custody cannot be ruled out.

However, the bench has imposed a condition that Raju should not give media interviews and make press statements during the period of investigation. He has to cooperate with the investigation and should not influence the witnesses. He should respond whenever he is called upon by the Investigating Officer. He shall be given at least 24 hrs notice by IO. He should also furnish personal bond of Rupees one lakh and provide two securities of the like amount before the trial court within one week.

25. Phrase "Soon Before" Section 304B IPC Cannot Mean 'Immediately Before': Supreme Court Issues Guidelines For Trial In Dowry Death Cases

[Case: Gurmeet Singh v. State of Punjab; Citation: LL 2021 SC 262]

A Bench of CJI NV Ramana and Justice Aniruddha Bose observed that the phrase "soon before" as appearing in Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code cannot be construed to mean 'immediately before'. The prosecution must establish existence of "proximate and live link" between the dowry death and cruelty or harassment for dowry demand by the husband or his relatives. It also observed that Section 304­B, IPC does not take a pigeonhole approach in categorizing death as homicidal or suicidal or accidental.

The bench observed thus while dismissing the appeal filed by accused who were convicted under Section 304B IPC. Section 304B (1) provides that 'dowry death' is where death of a woman is caused by burning or bodily injuries or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances, within seven years of marriage, and it is shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband, in connection with demand for dowry.


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