Supreme Court Weekly Round Up
SC Dismisses Centre's Preliminary Objections Against Relying On "Privileged" Documents; Review To Be Heard On Merits [Yashwant Sinha V. Central Bureau Investigation]
The Supreme Court dismissed Centre's preliminary objection against using privileged documents for considering the review petitions in the Rafale case. While dismissing the Centre's preliminary objections, the CJI observed that there is no provision in the Official Secrets Act by which Parliament has vested any power in the executive arm of the government either to restrain publication of documents marked as secret or from placing such documents before a Court of Law which may have been called upon to adjudicate a legal issue concerning the parties. No such provision in any other statute has been brought to our notice, the CJI said.
Res Judicata Principle Also Applicable To Labour/Industrial Proceedings [Chairman & MD, Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. Vs. Gen. Secretary, FACT Employees Association]
The Supreme Court reiterated that principle of Res Judicata defined in Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure also applies to the labour/industrial proceedings.The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra referred to three old judgments of the Apex Court to hold that principle of res judicata applies to the labour proceedings or not, remains no more res integra.
Examination Of Witnesses In The Absence Of Accused Is A Curable Irregularity [Atma Ram Vs. State of Rajasthan]
Absence of the accused while taking evidence of prosecution witnesses, by itself, would not vitiate the trial, unless great prejudice has caused to the accused, the Supreme Court held, while upholding a High Court judgment which ordered fresh trial in a murder case. The bench comprising of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Indu Malhotra was considering an appeal against High court judgment which ordered fresh trial/de-novo by directing the trial court to lawfully re-record statements of the witnesses whose evidence was recorded in the first round without ensuring presence of the accused in the court.
498A Case Can Be Filed At A Place Where A Woman Driven Out Of Matrimonial Home Takes Shelter [Rupali Devi V. State of Uttar Pradesh]
Answering a reference pending for about seven years, the Supreme Court held that the courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving or driven away from the matrimonial home on account of acts of cruelty committed by the husband or his relatives, would, dependent on the factual situation, also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code
Corroborative Evidence Required If It Is Doubtful Whether Deceased Was In Fit State Of Mind While Making Dying Declaration [Sampat Babso Kale V. State of Maharashtra]
The Supreme Court observed that, though conviction can solely be based on dying declaration, corroborative evidence may be required when there is doubt as to whether the victim was in a fit state of mind to make the statement. The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde and Justice Deepak Gupta acquitted Sampat Babso Kale and his sister who were convicted by the Bombay High Court for murder of his wife by pouring Kerosene.
Deceased Bachelor's Age To Be Considered For Calculating 'Multiplier' In Motor Accident Claim Cases [Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Ltd vs. Mandala Yadagari Goud]
A three judge bench of the Supreme Court held that, in the case of a motor accident where there is death of a person, who is a bachelor, it is the age of the deceased which should be taken into account for calculating the multiplier, not that of dependents. The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar was considering a submission in an appeal against High Court judgment that it is the age of the dependents which has to be taken into account and thus the High Court has fallen into an error by taking the multiplier on the basis of the age of the deceased.
Section 138 NI Act: Complainant Bound To Explain His Financial Capacity When It Is Questioned By The Accused [Basalingappa vs. Mudibasappa]
The Supreme Court observed that a complainant in a cheque bounce case is bound to explain his financial capacity, when the same is questioned by the accused, by leading evidence to that effect. In this case.
Court Can't Appoint Arbitrator When The Contract Containing Arbitration Clause Is Insufficiently Stamped [Garware Wall Ropes Ltd. Vs. Coastal Marine Constructions &Engineering Ltd.]
The Supreme Court held that it would be necessary for the Court before considering and passing final orders on an application under Section 11(6) of the Act to await the adjudication by the stamp authorities, in a case where the document objected to, is not adequately stamped. The bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran observed that the law laid down in SMS Tea Estates (P) Ltd. v. Chandmari Tea Co. (P) Ltd. still applies, even after introduction of Section 11(6A), by way of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015.
Mere Financial Assistance To Buy Property Cannot Be Termed Benami Transaction [P. Leelavathi vs. Shankarnarayana Rao]
The Supreme Court observed that mere financial assistance to buy a property cannot be the sole determinative factor/circumstance to hold the transaction as benami in nature. The issue before the bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah in an appeal arising out of a suit filed by a lady against her brothers was whether the transactions can be said to be benami in nature merely because some financial assistance has been given by the father to the sons (defendants) to purchase the properties, subject matter of the suit (filed by his daughter, claiming share in these properties)
Almost Every Tender Being Challenged In Writ Proceedings Almost As A Matter Of Routine [Caretel InfoTech Ltd. Vs. HPCL]
In a judgment, the Supreme Court expressed its concern about the trend of challenging almost every tender in writ proceedings 'almost as a matter of routine', The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed that it affects the efficacy of commercial activities of the public sectors, which may be in competition with the private sector.
Practice Of Summoning Officers To Court Is Not Proper [Shri N. K. Janu V. Lakshmi Chandra]
The Supreme Court observed that practice of summoning officers to court is not proper and does not serve the purpose of administration of justice in view of the separation of powers of the Executive and the Judiciary. The bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hemant Gupta observed thus in an appeal, while noticing that numerous orders were passed by the High Court from time to time seeking personal presence of the officers of the State.
SC Dismisses Man's Plea Challenging His Father's Detention under COFEPOSA During Emergency [Narender Kumar V. Union of India]
The Supreme Court dismissed a man's plea challenging detention order passed against his father under COFEPOSA in the year 1974. The bench observed that the Competent Authority and the Appellate Tribunal constituted under the provisions of SAFEMA had, after issuance of due notice and granting every opportunity to the noticees, arrived at findings that the properties mentioned in the schedules to the notices were illegally acquired and that they stood forfeited to the Central Government free from all encumbrances.
Domestic Inquiry During Pending Criminal Trial Not Contempt: SC Upholds Termination Of Teacher Accused Of Sexually Harassing Girl Students [The Secretary, Lucy Sequeira Trust V. Kailash Ramesh Tandel]
While upholding termination of a teacher accused of harassing girl students in a Private school, the Supreme Court observed that pendency of criminal trial does not have any bearing on the domestic inquiry against the teacher. The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Indira Banerjee observed that the initiation of the process in a departmental proceeding, in matters like these, cannot be said to be amounting to contempt of court even if the criminal proceedings were pending.
Sex After Obtaining Consent By False Promise To Marry Is Rape [Anurag Soni vs. State of Chhattisgarh]
The Supreme Court reiterated that the consent for sexual intercourse obtained by a person by giving false promise of marriage would not excuse him from rape charges. The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah, in a criminal appeal referred to many judgments on the subject and restated the legal position.
Contemporary Events Reveal That There Is A Growing Intolerance Which Unaccept the Rights Of Others To Freely Espouse Their Views [Indibility Creative Pvt Ltd. Vs. Govt. of West Bengal]
The Supreme Court came down heavily on the unofficial ban imposed by West Bengal Government on the film "Bhobhishyoter Bhoot" by using police pressure to coerce exhibitors to stop its screening. The Court ordered that the film producer has to be compensated by the State Government by paying Rs. 20 lakhs.
'No Useful Purpose Will Be Served', SC Closes 22 Year Old Enron-Dabhol Bribery Case Citing Long Delay [Center for Indian Trade Unions Vs. State of Maharashtra]
Observing "no useful purpose will be served" after long delay, the Supreme Court closed a Special Leave Petition filed by Centre of Indian Trade Union(CITU) in 1997 seeking probe into the alleged Enron-Dabhol corruption case.
SC Upholds Madras HC's Direction Appointing Retired Police Officer To Head SIT Probing Idol Theft Cases [State of Tamil Nadu Vs. Elephant G. Rajendran]
The Supreme Court upheld the Madras High Court's appointment of A.G. Ponn Manickavel as the head of Special Investigation Team to probe Idol Theft cases in Tamil Nadu.The State of Tamil Nadu had approached the Apex Court challenging the High Court order contending that Ponn Manickavel after superannuation could not have exercised any power of police officer as entrusted on a police officer under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Other important Orders and Proceedings
- Made a brief but important observation while dismissing a special leave petition related to Kerala Church Dispute case. The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Navin Sinha observed that the Supreme Court judgment in K.S. Varghese & Ors. V. Saint Peter's and Saint Paul's Syrian Orthodox Church, is binding on all concerned. It further remarked: "The matters covered by decision cannot be entertained time and again. No Court should entertain any matter which has been covered by a decision of this Court."
- Allowed displaying of fireworks during 'Thrissur Pooram', a famous festival in Kerala.The court, however, cautioned the temple and said that they must take care that the fireworks manufactured for the festivity are used and retained by them and do not find their way into the market. The fireworks will be displayed according to the usual customs of the temples, the bench said.
- The CJI headed bench, however, refused urgent listing of special leave petition against the Madurai bench order directing prohibition of download of TikTok Mobile Application.
- Raised the VVPAT physical verification from 1 to 5 EVMs in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed for these EVMs to continue to be chosen at random, the objective being to ensure a higher degree of accuracy to enhance the satisfaction in free and fair elections of not just the political parties but of the people of the country, though clarifying that the efficacy of the system as it presently exists or the credibility of the EVMs is not doubted.
- Issued notice in plea seeking strict action against political parties who use religion/caste issues in political campaigns.
- Sought response from former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar on the CBI's plea seeking his arrest in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund case.
- Delay in disposing of applications for bail and suspension of sentence in pending criminal appeals would be a travesty of justice, said the Supreme Court while hearing a special leave petition filed by a convict whose plea to suspend sentence is pending in Orissa High Court for eight years.
- Stayed the Kerala High Court order which held that the power of appointment to the post of Commissioner of Travancore Devaswom Board vests with the Devaswom and not with the State Government.
- Asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a fresh status report in the Hapur lynching case last year, in which one person lost his life. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna asked the state government to submit its status report on the investigation and trial in the case.
- Asked as to why should government officials manage religious places and temples in the country while taking note of the fact that several devotees visiting the Jagannath temple in Puri were being harassed.
- Refused to entertain Congress Leader Amit Panwar's plea for a stay on the release of the biopic on PM Narendra Modi ahead of the 2019 general elections.
- Dismissed the bail plea of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav in multi-crore fodder scam cases. A bench headed by Chief Justice Rajan Gogoi said it is not inclined to enlarge Yadav on bail in the cases.
- Asked the state of Assam to furnish on affidavit the course of action it proposes to adopt to release those immigrants declared as foreigners who have been hauled up in its detention centres for years.
- Held that the provisions in Section 360 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are not excluded by the Probation of Offenders Act. The bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hemant Gupta observed thus while allowing an appeal [Lakhanlal vs. State of MP] against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order that dismissed an application filed under Section 360 CrPC on the ground that it has no application as the matter as such is governed by Section 3 and 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.
- Directed political parties to submit the details of all donations received through electoral bonds to election commission by May 30.
- "You will never let this country remain in peace," the Supreme Court said while dismissing a plea seeking permission to carry out religious activities in nine ancient temples situated on the undisputed acquired land adjacent to Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid site at Ayodhya.
- The right to travel abroad is an important basic human right, said the Supreme Court while permitting a IPS Officer who is facing departmental proceedings to go for a private foreign visit. The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah observed that the pendency of departmental proceedings cannot be a ground to prevent the officer from travelling abroad.