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Supreme Court Weekly Round Up

Sanya Talwar
4 Oct 2020 3:57 PM GMT
Supreme Court Weekly Round Up
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Week Commencing September 28 to October 4, 2020

Top Stories This Week:1. SC Issues Notice In Arnab Goswami's Plea Challenging "Breach Of Privilege Motion" Notice By Maharashtra Assembly [Arnab Goswami V. Maharashtra Legislative Assembly]The Supreme Court issued notice in a plea by Arnab Goswami, Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Republic Media Network, challenging the breach of privilege motion against him by Maharashtra...

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Top Stories This Week:

1. SC Issues Notice In Arnab Goswami's Plea Challenging "Breach Of Privilege Motion" Notice By Maharashtra Assembly [Arnab Goswami V. Maharashtra Legislative Assembly]

The Supreme Court issued notice in a plea by Arnab Goswami, Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Republic Media Network, challenging the breach of privilege motion against him by Maharashtra Assembly & Legislative Council. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun issued notice to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and stated that the matter will be returnable in a week.

Also Read: 'I'm On Demurrer. I May Have Lied, Defamed - Everything May be True. But House Still Could Not Issue Notice Or Even Investigate': Sr. Adv. Harish Salve, For Arnab Goswami, Tells SC

2. "Covid 19 Is Not A Public Emergency": SC Quashes Gujarat Govts' Notification Extending Work Hours Under Factories Act Without Overtime Pay [Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha V. State of Gujarat]

The Supreme Court has quashed the notification issued by the Gujarat Labour and Employment Department granting exemptions to all factories in Gujarat from provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 relating to daily working hours, weekly working hours, intervals for rest and spread overs of adult workers as well as from payment of overtime wages at double rates viz. Section 59. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph & Indu Malhotra has held that the pandemic situation cannot be a reason to do away with statutory provisions that provide dignity and rights for workers by the Gujarat Government. In this context, the bench has stated that the pandemic is not a "public emergency" within the meaning of Section 5 of the Factories Act threatening security of the country.

Also Read: Workers' Right To Life Cannot Be Deemed Contingent On The Mercy Of Their Employer Or The State: SC Quashes Gujarat Govt. Notification

Also Read: SC Warns About Sobering Lessons Learnt From Our Not-Too-Distant History Of Emergency Era

Also Read:  The Phrase Of This Court As 'Sentinel On The Qui Vive' May Have Become Weather-Beaten, Judges Must Constantly Remind Themselves Of Its Value: SC

3. "The Constitution Bench Judgment Left Some Questions Unsaid, Requires Examination": CJI SA Bobde 

The Supreme Court on Monday orally remarked that the Constitutional Bench judgment on Land Acquisition [Indore Development Authority V. Manoharlal & Ors.] left certain questions unsaid and required examination. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun said that there were some questions which were required to be discussed and some aspects were left unsaid by the 5-judge bench decision which was delivered on March 6, 2020. In this context, CJI SA Bobde remarked that the bench would like to be clear about certain aspects and sought the Solicitor General's assistance. Apropos this, CJI SA Bobde orally said, "the judgment has given the Government laxity, which the parliament did not want to give government."

4. UPSC Civil Service Examination Cannot Be Postponed, SC Directs UPSC To Consider An Extra Attempt To Last Chance Candidate [Vasireddy Prakash V. UPSC]

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the plea seeking for postponement of the Union Public Service Examination (UPSC) 2020 in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The exam is scheduled for October 4, 2020. A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari refused to postpone the examination and issued directions to UPSC as well as the Centre to consider that aspirants who were on their last attempt would be given another chance, without extending the upper age-limit. The Court further noted that as exams had been conducted in the recent past, it was a testimony to the fact that the SOP was followed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in conducting these examinations.

5. Prashant Bhushan Files Review Petition Against Sentence Order in The Contempt Case [In Re Prashant Bhushan & Anr.]

Advocate Prashant Bhushan has filed another petition in the Supreme Court, this time seeking review of the sentencing order August 31, 2020, whereby the Top Court imposed a fine of Re. 1 upon him in the suo moto contempt case. While Mr. Bhushan has paid the fine, he seeks to agitate the punishment in default of the fine.

6. [Airfare Refunds] SC Accepts DGCA Recommendations; Refunds To Accrue To Travel Agents For Tickets Booked Through Them [Pravasi Legal Cell V. Union of India]

The Supreme Court on Thursday accepted the recommendations made by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regarding for refund of airfare of tickets booked during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy & MR Shah stated that the petitions shall stand disposed of in terms of the DGCA proposals and the vouchers for tickets issued by travel agents shall be utilised by travel agents only when refunds are effectuated. This means that tickets which the passengers have booked through travel agents shall be refunded to travel agents and not directly through passengers.

7. "Farmers' Acts Anti Farmer & Anti-Agriculturist": DMK MP Tiruchi Siva Moves SC Against News Farmers' Acts [Tiruchi Siva V. UOI]

Tiruchi Siva, Member of Parliament (DMK) has moved the Supreme Court challenging three controversial enactments, the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 (Act 20 of 2020), the Farmers' Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 (Act 21 of 2020) and the Essential commodities (Amendment )Act 2020 (Act 21 of 2020).

8. Hathras Gangrape Case : PIL In SC Seeks CBI/SIT Probe, Transfer Of Trial Out Of Uttar Pradesh [Satyama Dubey V. UOI]

A plea has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking for investigation into the brutal Hathras rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman allegedly by four upper-caste men by either the Central Bureau of Investigation or a Special Investigation Team. The plea further seeks for the transfer of the matter from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi alleging failure of the State Government to take action against the accused persons.

9. Compound Interest During Moratorium Period Can Be Waived For MSME & Personal Loans Up to Rs. 2 Crore: Centre Tells SC [Gajendra Sharma V. UOI]

The Central Government on Friday informed the Supreme Court of its decision to waive compound interest during the six-month moratorium period, for MSME loans and personal loans up to Rs. 2 crore. The Union of India submitted that is has decided to continue the "tradition of handholding the small borrowers" and therefore, it has waived interest for the said period for the most "vulnerable category of borrowers" viz. MSME loans up to Rs. 2 crore, Education loans up to Rs. 2 crore, Housing loans up to Rs. 2 crore, Consumer durable loans up to Rs. 2 crore, Credit card dues up to Rs. 2 crore, Auto loans up to Rs. 2 crore, Personal loans to professionals up to Rs. 2 crore, Consumption loans up to Rs. 2 crore

10. "How Long This Detention Will Continue?":SC Asks SG To Get Instructions On Plea Challenging Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti's Detention [Iltija V. UOI]

Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Solicitor General to get instruction on the petition filed by former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti's daughter, Iltija challenging her detention under Public Safety Act. A bench of Justices SK Kaul & Hrishikesh Roy was hearing the petition seeking amendment to the prayers sought in Mufti's habeas corpus petition, which is currently pending adjudication.

Also Read: Mehboob Mufti's Detention Order Based On Subjective Satisfaction Of Detaining Authority Cannot Be A Matter Of Judicial Review: J&K Admin. Tells SC

11. SC Allows A COVID19 Infected CLAT Aspirant To Take Exam At An Isolation Centre [Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla V. NLSIU, Bangalore]

The Supreme Court permitted an applicant who was COVID19 infected to appear in the CLAT 2020 entrance exam scheduled today. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy & MR Shah made it clear that only the aspirant who had approached the Court vide the said urgent application shall be permitted to avail the facility and take the exam. The court said that the applicant shall provide a copy of the order in the instant case to the authorities so as to be able to take the exam.

Judgments:

1. Words "Tries An Offence" Are More Appropriate Than The Words "Tries An Offender" In Section 461(l) CrPC, Says SC [Kaushik Chatterjee V. State of Haryana]

The words "tries an offence" are more appropriate than the words "tries an offender" in section 461 (l), the Supreme Court opined while considering a Transfer Petition filed on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction. Justice V. Ramasubramanian observed that there seems to be some incongruity between Section 461(l) and Section 462 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under Clause (l) of Section 461 if a Magistrate not being empowered by law to try an offender, wrongly tries him, his proceedings shall be void. However, under Section 462, no finding, sentence or order of any Criminal Court shall be set aside merely on the ground that the inquiry, trial or other proceedings in the course of which it was arrived at or passed, took place in a wrong sessions division, district, sub­ division or other local area, unless it appears that such error has in fact occasioned a failure of justice.

2. Not Necessary That Accused Must Be Actively Involved In Physical Activity Of Assault To Convict Him On The Ground Of Common Intention: SC [Subed Ali V. The  State of Assam]

The Supreme Court has observed that it is not necessary that an accused must be actively involved in the physical activity of assault to convict him on the ground of common intention. A common intention to bring about a particular result may also develop on the spot as between a number of persons deducible from the facts and circumstances of a particular case, a three judge bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee observed.

Also Read: [Section 406 CrPC] Criminal Cases Cannot Be Transferred On The Ground Of Lack Of Territorial Jurisdiction Even Before Evidence Is Marshalled: SC [Kaushik Chaterjee V. State of Haryana]

3. Length Of Sentence Or Gravity Of Original Crime Cannot Be Sole Basis For Refusing Premature Release: SC [Satish @ Sabbe V. State of Uttar Pradesh]

Length of the sentence or the gravity of the original crime can't be the sole basis for refusing premature release, the Supreme Court observed while directing release of two convicts on probation. The Three Judge Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana observed that any assessment regarding predilection to commit crime upon release must be based on antecedents as well as conduct of the prisoner while in jail, and not merely on his age or apprehensions of the victims and witnesses. 

4. Rape - Misconception Of Fact About Promise To Marry Has To Be In Proximity Of Time To The Occurrence: SC [Maheshwar Tigga V. The State of Jharkhand]

The Supreme Court, in its judgment acquitting a man accused of raping a woman on the pretext of marriage, observed that misconception of fact arising out of promise to marry has to be in proximity of time to the occurrence and cannot be spread over a long period of time coupled with a conscious positive action not to protest. The allegation by the Prosecuterix in this case was that the accused Maheshwar Tigga has been promising to marry her and on that pretext continued to establish physical relations with her as husband and wife. It was also alleged that she had also stayed at his house for fifteen days during which also he established physical relations with him. The Trial Court convicted him under sections 376, 323 and 341 of the Indian Penal Code. The Karnataka High Court dismissed his appeal.

Also Read: Circumstances Not Put To An Accused Under Section 313 CrPC Cannot Be Used Against Him: SC

5. Financier Continues To Be Owner Of Goods Which Are Subject Of Hire Purchase Agreement Until Hirer Pays All Instalments: SC [M/S Magma Fincorp Ltd. vs. Rajesh Kumar Tiwari]

The financier continues to be owner of the goods being the subject of hire purchase, until the option to purchase is exercised by the hirer, upon payment of all amounts agreed upon between the hirer and the Financier, the Supreme Court has reiterated in a judgment passed on Thursday. The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee observed that there is no impediment to the Financier taking possession of the vehicle when the hirer does not make payment of instalments/hire charges in terms of the Hire Purchase Agreement.

6. Mens Rea For Section 306 IPC Cannot Be Assumed To Be Ostensibly Present But Has To Be Visible And Conspicuous: SC Acquits Husband Accused Of Driving Wife To Suicide [Gurcharan Singh vs. State of Punjab]

Section 306 IPC cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous. The bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy set aside the conviction of a husband who was accused of driving wife to suicide. While considering his appeal, the bench noted that there is neither any direct evidence of cruelty against the husband or the in-laws on nor to show which particular hope or expectation of the deceased was frustrated by the husband. "What might have been the level of expectation of the deceased from her husband and in-laws and the degree of her frustration, if any, is not found through any evidence on record. More significantly, wilful negligence by the husband could not be shown by the prosecution.", the bench noted.

7. No Inherent Right To Compassionate Appointment, Reiterates SC [State of Maharashtra V. Amit Shrivas]

There cannot be any inherent right to compassionate appointment, the Supreme Court has reiterated in a judgment. A Three Judge bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed that the compassionate appointments has to be in terms of the applicable policy as existing on the date of demise, unless a subsequent policy is made applicable retrospectively. The court allowed an appeal filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh against the High Court judgment which had directed it to grant compassionate appointment to the son of an employee, who was working as a Driver in the Tribal Welfare Department. The state, in its appeal, contended that the employee was employed as a work-charged/contingency employee in the Tribal Welfare Department and was thus not entitled to the compassionate appointment as per the existing policy on the date of his demise.

Important Updates:

1. 'Situation Not Anticipated 6 Months Back' : SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Inquiry Into Centre's Alleged Mismanagement Of COVID 19 [KP Fabian V. UOI]

The Supreme Court dismissed a plea filed by six retired bureaucrats seeking an independent inquiry by a Commission appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, into the Central Government's alleged "gross mismanagement" of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao noted that the "situation had not been anticipated 6 months back" and that "latitude had to be given to the government", and accordingly, proceeded to dismiss the plea.

2. Court Cannot Refuse To Hear Bail Application On Merits Saying Accused Went Back On Promise To Settle : SC [G Selvakumar vs State of Tamil Nadu]

The Supreme Court has observed that a court cannot refuse to hear a bail application on merits on the ground that the accused had failed to comply with the settlement offer made earlier. Observing thus, a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao set aside an order passed by the Madras High Court which dismissed a bail application on the ground that the accused had gone back on the promise to settle. The case  arose out of an FIR registered over allegations of criminal breach of trust, cheating etc. The accused had sought for interim bail by stating that he will settle the disputes relating to the payment of money once he is released. Based on that, the Court granted him interim bail.

3. SC Notifies Fresh Roster To Be Effective From October 5

The Supreme Court has notified a fresh roster to be effective from October 5. As per the new roster, PILs and letter petitions are to be dealt with by benches headed by CJI, Justices Ramana, Nariman, Lalit, Khanwilkar, Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Nageswara Rao. Election matters, Social Justice matters and Habeas Corpus will be dealt with only by the bench headed by the CJI. Contempt of Court matters are allotted to the benches headed by the CJI and Justice U U Lalit. Religious and Charitable Endowment Matters are allotted to the benches headed by Justices N V Ramana, UU Lalit, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. Arbitration Matters to benches of CJI, Justice Ramana, R F Nariman, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

4. [Tribunal Rules] Exclusion of Advocates From Being Considered For Appointment in DRTs Is Absolutely Unconstitutional: Aravind Datar Tells SC [Batch Pleas]

The Supreme Court on Thursday resumed hearing on the plea by the Madras Bar Association challenging the Tribunal Rules of 2020, on the grounds that it is in the teeth of the principles of separation of power and independence of judiciary. The Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ravindra Bhat are hearing the matter. Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, for the Madras Bar Association concluded his rejoinder submissions on Thursday.

Also Read: [2020 Tribunal Rules] SC Judgments Requiring 5-7 Yrs Tenure Don't Apply Where Right Of Re-Appointment Contemplated: AG Defends 4 Yr Term 

5. 'Situation Not Anticipated 6 Months Back' : SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Inquiry Into Centre's Alleged Mismanagement Of COVID 19

The Supreme Court dismissed a plea filed by six retired bureaucrats seeking an independent inquiry by a Commission appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, into the Central Government's alleged "gross mismanagement" of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao noted that the "situation had not been anticipated 6 months back" and that "latitude had to be given to the government", and accordingly, proceeded to dismiss the plea.

6. [Vijay Mallya-UBL] 'Not Case Where Company Needs To Be Wound Up As Assets Exceed Outstanding Liability', SC Told; All Appeals To Be Heard On Oct 8 [United Breweries V. SBI]

The Supreme Court deferred to October 8 the hearing on the challenge by Vijay Mallya's United Breweries against the Karnataka High Court upholding the order of its winding up. The bench of Justices U. U. Lalit, Vineet Saran and Ravindra Bhat shall also examine whether attached assets of fugitive Mallya's United Breweries (Holding) Ltd. can be used to settle the debts owed to banks, including the State Bank of India.

7. 'Yatin Oza Due To Argue Before HC Tomorrow On Point Of Truth', SC Told; Matter Listed On October 13 For Directions [Yatin Oza V. GHCAA]

The Supreme Court Has deferred GHCAA President Yatin Oza'a contempt matter to October 13, listing it for directions. The bench of Justice S. K. Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy was informed by Advocate Nikhil Goel that "After September 17, the matter has been heard by the High Court on five occasions...the matter has started but it keeps getting adjourned...now it is listed for tomorrow as Mr. Oza wants to argue on the point of truth. I don't know if truth and apology will go together. That the court will have to see".

8. SC Directs States To Provide Dry Rations For Identified Sex Workers Sans Insistence On Identity Proof & File Affidavit On Benefits Accrued [Budhadev Karmaskar V. State of West Bengal & Ors.]

The Supreme Court directed State Governments to provide dry rations for identified sex workers by National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and State Governments sans insistence of identity proof. A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Ajay Rastogi further directed the State Governments to file an affidavit stipulating the implementation of the instant order for directions along with relevant particulars and the number of sex workers who were benefitted thereon within 4 weeks.

9. SC Requires Disclosure Of Assets By NGO Suraz India Trust For Recovery Of Rs. 25 Lakh Costs Over Allegations Levelled Against Judges

The Supreme Court issued notice to NGO Suraz India Trust for not having *desposited the cost of Rs. 25 lakh in view of the observations made in its order dated May 1, 2017. Justices S. K. Kaul and Hirishikesh Roy also required the disclosure of all movable and immovable assets of the original petitioner so that the costs can be recovered. For wasting judicial time, the Supreme Court had in May 2017 imposed an exemplary cost of Rs. 25 lakh on NGO Suraz India Trust for filing 64 cases in various high courts and also in the apex court. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar had also restrained the trust and its chairman Rajiv Dahiya from filing any case, including PIL, in any court.

10. SC Refuses To Entertain PIL Seeking Scrapping Of TRAI's New Directives On Commercial SMSes & Calls

The Supreme Court refused to hear a PIL challenging Telecom Regulatory Authority's (TRAI) latest directive on commercial SMSe's. A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & R. Ramasubramaniun declined to entertain the petition filed on behalf of Advocate Reepak Kansal, averring that the latest directive violated citizens' fundamental right to privacy by creating a mega database of user preferences and promulgates consent and content of SMS received on a mobile number by sharing the data across multiple business entities.

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