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Supreme Court Weekly Round-Up

Arabhi Anandan
27 Jan 2020 3:46 AM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round-Up

Electoral Bonds: SC Gives Two Weeks Time To Election Commission To Reply [Association for Democratic Reforms & Anr. v. Union of India Cabinet Secretary & Ors.]

The Supreme Court declined to grant an immediate stay on the 2018 Electoral Bonds Scheme ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls, granting the Election Commission two weeks' time to reply. "A stay was not given by this court before. So we may not do it now", observed the bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde. However, noting Advocate Prashant Bhushan's submission that the polls in Delhi, which are scheduled for February 8, would be over by then and the ruling party will have received a tremendous influx of funds by opening the scheme, the bench cut short the time accorded to the ECI from the earlier 4 weeks to 2 weeks.

Nirbhaya Case : SC Dismisses Plea Of Juvenility Raised By Death Row Convict Pawan Gupta [Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi]

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the plea of juvenility raised by Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape-murder case. A bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bushan and AS Bopanna held that the same claim was earlier rejected by the Court after due consideration. The bench held that Delhi High Court had rightly rejected the plea. Advocate A P Singh, lawyer of Pawan Gupta, claimed that his school records show that he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. He argued that the school leaving certificate showed his date of birth as October 8, 1996.

Parent Who Is Denied Custody Shall Have Right To Talk To Child Everyday [Yashitha Sahu v. State of Rajasthan]

The Supreme Court has observed that a parent who is denied custody of the child should have the right to talk to his/her child for 5-10 minutes everyday. The bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose observed that the courts dealing with the custody matters must while deciding issues of custody clearly define the nature, manner and specifics of the visitation rights.

Mandatory Time Line For Filing Written Statement Is Not Applicable To Non-Commercial Suits [Desh Raj v. Balkishan]

The Supreme Court has clarified that the mandatory time-line for filing written statement is not applicable to non-commercial suits. As regards non-commercial suits, the time-line for written statement is directory and not mandatory, the Court held. The courts have the discretion to condone delay in filing of written statement in non-commercial suits, held a bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices Surya Kant and BR Gavai. The Court was considering an appeal against a judgment of Delhi High Court, which affirmed the decision of the trial court to strike of the appellant's defence on the ground of delay in filing written statement under Order VIII Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Reservation In Promotion For Persons With Disability (PWDs) Not Prohibited [Siddaraju v. State of Karnataka]

The Supreme Court has observed that the rule of no reservation in promotions as laid down in Indra Sawhney has no application to Persons With Disability (PWD). A three judge bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman upheld a two judge bench view that the basis for providing reservation for PWD is physical disability and not any of the criteria forbidden under Article 16(1). The bench, also comprising of Justices Aniruddha Bose and V. Ramasubramanian, was considering a reference which doubted a view taken in Rajiv Kumar Gupta & Others v. Union of India & Others – (2016) 6 SCALE 417. The bench in Rajiv Gupta, in the context of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 had noted that there is no prohibition against reservation in promotion for Persons With Disabilities.

[Section 216 CrPC] Court Can Add Or Alter Charges At Any Time, Even After Reserving Judgment. [Dr. Nallapareddy Sridhar Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.]

The Supreme Court has observed that a trial court to exercise its powers of altering or adding charges under section 216 of the Code of Criminal Procedure even after the completion of evidence, arguments and reserving of the judgment. In this accused who was under Section 498 A of IPC along with Sections 3 & 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. Later the Public Prosecutor filed an application under Section 216 IPC for alteration of charge sheet. The trial court after hearing both sides rejected the application for framing additional charges. Though on revision petition filed by the prosecution, the High Court directed the framing of additional under Sections 406 & 420 of the IPC. The Supreme Court upheld this direction of the High Court.

Section 394 CrPC: Appeal Against Composite Sentence Of Imprisonment & Fine Does Not Abate On The Death Of The Accused [Ramesan (dead) through Lr. Girija v. State of Kerala]

The Supreme Court has observed that, if the accused-appellant dies during the pendency of a criminal appeal against a composite sentence of imprisonment as well as fine, the appeal does not abate. The court said, " the appeal in the present case where accused was sentenced for imprisonment as well as for fine has to be treated as an appeal against fine and was not to abate and High Court did not commit any error in deciding the appeal on merits." The bench, however, partly allowed the appeal, observing that the High Court ought to have given an opportunity to legal heirs of the accused to make their submissions against the sentence of fine, which fine could have been very well recovered from the assets of the accused in the hands of the legal heirs.

Speaker Should Decide On Disqualification Within 3 Months; Impartial Tribunal Needed Under 10th Schedule [Keisham Meghachandra Singh v. The Hon'ble Speaker Manipur Legislative Assembly & Ors.]

In a notable judgment, the Supreme Court has held that Speaker of the Legislative Assembly should decide on a petition seeking disqualification of a member under Tenth Schedule of the Constitution within a period of three months, in the absence of exceptional reasons. Highlighting the importance of taking a decision within a reasonable time, the SC said ,"The Speaker, in acting as a Tribunal under the Tenth Schedule, is bound to decide disqualification petitions within a reasonable period...a period of three months from the date on which the petition is filed is the outer limit within which disqualification petitions filed before the Speaker must be decided if the constitutional objective of disqualifying persons who have infracted the Tenth Schedule is to be adhered to." This was held by a bench comprising Justices R F Nariman, Aniruddha Bose and V Ramasubramanian in a case relating to alleged defection in Manipur assembly.

Availing Of Civil Remedy Is Not A Ground To Quash Criminal Proceedings, Reiterates SC [K.Jagadish v. Udaya Kumary GS]

The Supreme Court has reiterated that, even if a civil remedy is availed by a party, he is not precluded from setting in motion the proceedings in criminal law. The bench comprising of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran said that, in certain cases the very same set of facts may give rise to remedies in civil as well as criminal proceedings. The bench referred to earlier decisions including R. Kalyani v. Janak C. Mehta, wherein it was held that, If the allegation discloses a civil dispute, the same by itself may not be a ground to hold that the criminal proceedings should not be allowed to continue.

Domestic Violence: Court Has To Be Prima Facie Satisfied That There Have Been Instances Of Violence Before Issuing Notice In Complaint [Shyamlal Devda v. Parimala]

The Supreme Court has observed that, before issuing notice in a complaint alleging Domestic Violence, the court has to be prima facie satisfied that there have been instances of domestic violence. In this case, a wife had made allegations of domestic violence against fourteen persons, including her husband and his parents. All other respondents are relatives of parents-in-law of the complainant, who are residing in other states. The bench of Justices R. Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy noted that, insofar as husband and Parents-in-law, there are averments of alleging domestic violence alleging that they have taken away the jewellery of the respondent gifted to her by her father during marriage and the alleged acts of harassment to the respondent.

Conflicting Claims Of Legal Representatives Can Be Decided In Execution Proceedings [Varadarajan v. Kanakavalli & Ors.]

The Supreme Court has observed that the conflicting claims of legal representatives can be decided in execution proceedings in view of the principles of Rule 5 of Order XXII of the Code of Civil Procedure. Taking note of the fact that the appellant was the sole claimant to the estate of the deceased on the basis of Will, the bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta allowing the appeal, held that he, as the legal representative of the deceased, is competent to execute the decree.

Writ Of Habeas Corpus Cannot Be Invoked For Granting Premature Release Of Convicted Prisoners [Home Secretary (Prison) v. Nilofer Nisha]

The Supreme Court has observed that a writ of habeas corpus cannot be invoked for granting plea seeking premature release of a convicted prisoner. The bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta observed that it is not for the writ court to decide whether a prisoner is entitled to parole or remission and these matters lie squarely in the domain of the Government. The Court was considering appeals against the Madras High Court orders which had allowed Habeas Corpus writ petitions filed by prisoners convicted and sentenced for life imprisonment in murder cases.

SC Sets Aside NCDRC Findings Of Unfair Trade Practice Against Star TV & Airtel In Relation To KBC Show [Star India (P) Ltd. v. Society of Catalysts & Anr.]

In a relief to Star TV and Bharti Airtel, the Supreme Court has set aside the order of National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission which directed them to jointly pay punitive damages of Rs One Crore for alleged unfair trade practice in relation to the quiz show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati(KBC)'. In August 2007, Society of Catalysts filed a complaint before the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission ("NCDRC") against Star India and Bharti Airtel contending that the contest Kaun Banega Crorepati ("KBC") and the contest Har Seat Hot Seat was an unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Mere Delay In Intimating Insurance Company About The Theft Cannot Be A Ground To Deny Insurance Claim [Gurshinder Singh v. Shriram General Insurance Co. Ltd & Anr]

The Supreme Court has held that mere delay in intimating the insurance company about the occurrence of the theft cannot be a ground to deny the claim of the insured. The Three judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana was answering a reference that raised an issue whether delay in informing the occurrence of the theft of the vehicle to the insurance company, though the FIR was registered immediately, would disentitle the claimant of the insurance claim.

Liberal Approach In Granting Bail In NDPS Uncalled For, Says SC [State of Kerala v. Rajesh]

The Supreme Court has observed that there cannot be liberal approach in the matter of bail in NDPS Cases. The bench of Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Ajay Rastogi observed that the Court has to record a finding mandated under Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and the same is a sine qua non for granting bail to the accused under the NDPS Act. The Court was considering the appeal filed by the State of Kerala against a High Court order granting post-­arrest bail to the accused respondents without noticing the mandate of Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act.

Factors Like Gravity & Seriousness Of Alleged Offence By Themselves Cannot Be The Basis To Refuse Bail [Prabhakar Tewari v. State of UP]

The Supreme Court has observed that the factors like gravity and seriousness of offences alleged against an accused by themselves cannot be the basis for refusal of prayer for bail. The bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose made this observation while dismissing appeal against an Allahabad High Court order that granted bail to two accused persons allegedly involved in a murder case.

State Has Solemn Constitutional Duty To Assist Court In Dispensation Of Justice; Cannot Behave Like Private Litigant [M/s Granules India Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India]

The Supreme Court remarked, "State, as a litigant, cannot behave as a private litigant, and it has a solemn and constitutional duty to assist the court in dispensation of justice." The bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Krishna Murari was considering an appeal against the High Court order which had dismissed a writ petition challenging denial of exemption from Customs duty on the ground that the authorities of the State were also unaware of the clarificatory notification and neither did the petitioner bring it on record.

Section 32 Registration Act Doesn't Require Presence Of Parties During Registration Of Sale Deed [H.P.Puttuswamy v. Thimmamma & Ors.]

The Supreme Court has observed that Section 32 of the Registration Act, 1908, does not require the presence of both parties to a deed of sale when the same is presented for registration. However, it may be noted that Rules framed by States may provide for such presence of both seller and buyer, and in that case, presence of parties may be required. The bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose noted that there is evidence to the effect that the second defendant had not come to the office of the Sub­Registrar at the time of execution of the sale deed.

[Criminal Trial] Law Does Not Taboo Adopting Of The Alternate Pleas By Accused [Paul v. State of Kerala]

The law does not taboo adopting of the alternate pleas, remarked the Supreme Court while observing that a murder accused can take a plea that he was not at all involved in the act which resulted in the death of the deceased, but that does not deprive him/her of the right to establish the fact that the case against him would still be embraced within any of the exceptions under Section 300 IPC. Before the Apex Court, the counsel for the accused had confined the submission to the plea of alteration of the conviction under Section 302 of the IPC to under Section 304 Part-II of the IPC. Examining the evidence on record, the bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph observed that there is nothing to establish the giving of any provocation leave alone a grave and sudden provocation.

Highest Court Of The Land Cannot Be A Walk In Place, Says Supreme Court [Administration, Jammu Municipality & Anr. v. M/s Swarn Theatre & Ors.]

The highest Court of the land cannot be a walk in place, the Supreme Court remarked while dismissing a Special Leave Petition filed by Jammu Municipality on the ground of inordinate delay.

The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph termed the Special Leave Petition as one among '"Certificate Cases" - the object being only to obtain dismissal from the Supreme Court. It noted that the special leave petition has been filed after a delay of 387 days with further delay of 302 days in refiling.

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