Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Expressing dismay upon the suffering of the petitioner due to her marriage being conducted without a proper enquiry as to the physical health of the groom, the Bench of N. Kirubakaran, J., observed that it would be prudent for the Central and State Governments to enlighten and sensitize people to go for pre-marital counselling and the same should be promoted by way of short films, advertisements and seminars.

In the present case, the petitioner had moved to the Family Court for annulment of her marriage within 6 months from the date of her marriage. According to the petitioner, the respondent had fraudulently obtained her consent for marriage by hiding that he had a cancerous growth on his left thigh which finally prevented the consummation of their marriage. Further medical investigations revealed that the respondent had a hole in his heart.

Invoking Article 227 of the Constitution and Section 151 of the CPC which bestows the Court with the power to pass appropriate order to meet the ends of justice, the Court was determined to decide the petition on merits, as the parties were very young and in the lengthy court proceedings resulting from transferring the petition to the trial court, the parties would not only lose their precious youth, but will also be rendered with an uncertain future. Perusing the contentions of the parties and the medical records of the respondent, the Court took to task the respondent for suppressing his medical condition from the petitioner. The Court further observed that the shock, pain and agony that the petitioner might have faced upon knowing the medical condition of the respondent, is nothing short of cruelty and her fundamental right to a decent and meaningful life under Article 21 had been grossly violated. The Court also observed that how the society commits crime against women in the name of marriages, thereby maligning the sacred rite of matrimony. The Court stated that the only way the petitioner can be comforted and compensated for her mental agony, is by annulling her marriage with the respondent under Section 13(1)( i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. However adding a word of comfort for the respondent, the Court said that the respondent’s only fault was to hide his medical condition from his wife, and that he should not be demoralized as scientists have discovered that several types of cancers are curable.  [A v. B,  2016 SCC OnLine Mad 8908, decided on 05.08.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: While deciding upon an appeal against the order and decree passed by the Family Court, Tirunelveli, the Division Bench of K.K. Sasidharan and B. Gokuldas, JJ., set aside the decision of the Family Court dismissing the joint petition for dissolution of marriage of the appellants for want of reasons for separation. The Court further observed that the Family Courts are not allowed to enlarge the scope of enquiry under Section 13B (2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and once it is satisfied that the essential requirements under Section 13B (2) has been fulfilled and substantiated then the Family Court must venture to grant the decree of divorce to the parties. It is not for the Family Court to decide as to whether parties were justified in living separately as it is not the scope of a petition filed under Section 13-B of the 1955 Act.

In the present case, the appellants had filed a joint petition under Section 13B (2) of the 1955 Act with mutual consent seeking for dissolution of marriage as the appellants were living separately and there was no chance of any re-union. However their petition was dismissed as the Family Judge noted that the parties have not mentioned the reasons for their separation.

Perusing the facts of the case, the Court observed that the parties have been living separately form 18.04.2014 and as per the affidavit presented by the appellants there has been no cohabitation between them since the stated date of separation. The Court observed that the only requisite of Section 13B (2) is that the parties applying for dissolution of marriage must be living separately for a period of one year or more, irrespective of any reason for doing so, and when the ingredient was satisfied by the appellants in the present case, it was unnecessary for the Family Court to enquire about the reasons behind their separation. As per the provision the only duty of the Family Court was to ensure that whether the marriage has been solemnised and that the averments in the petition are true. The Court also observed that when the parties were willing to part ways as their marriage had turned out to be a failure, the Family Court should have respected the sentiments of the parties and should have granted the divorce. With these observations, the Bench set aside the order of the Family Court and granted the decree for dissolution of the marriage of the appellants. [A.C. Mathivanan  v B. Sathyabama, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 8884, decided on 03.08.2016]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Reviving a bail order cancelled by the Principal Sessions Judge, Madurai, the bench of P. Devadass J. held that, in matters of cancellation of a bail order due to default in complying with the bail conditions, opportunity must be given to the accused persons to present their case. It was held that the cancellation of a bail order cannot be done mechanically as it involves withdrawal of the liberty that has already given to the accused; hence observance of principles of natural justice is a must.

In the present case the issue was that the petitioners (husband and wife) had been granted anticipatory bail under Section 438 of CrPC and certain conditions were imposed which included regular appearance before the police at a scheduled time. Due to compliance of the same, the bail conditions with respect to the wife were relaxed. However, the police subsequently filed a petition for cancellation of the bail order on the grounds that the petitioners have not obeyed the bail condition as per the order. The Principal Sessions Judge, Madurai had accepted their contention and cancelled the bail order.

While deciding the matter, it was observed that the Court ought to have provided legal assistance in the form of an Amicus Curiae or a counsel to the accused persons so that the fact that their bail conditions had been relaxed could have been brought in to the notice of the Court. It was also observed by the Court that the grounds for the cancellation of a bail are different from the grounds that are requisites for granting a bail, therefore, more consideration is required while cancelling a bail order. It maintained that an accused cannot be at fault merely because he was not present before the police station or the Court as per the bail condition, as number of contingencies could have prevented him from fulfilling the bail conditions. Hence an opportunity should have been given to the accused. Observing that the Sessions Judge had acted mechanically while cancelling the bail order, the Court chided the Judge for acting like a ‘motionless machine’ and observed that the Sessions Judge should have acted more like a human being than as an ‘inanimate computer’, because unlike a computer, a Judge has a sense of justice to understand that cancellation of a bail order is a serious issue. [Uma Maheshwari v. The State, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 6971, decided on 13.06.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: This division bench of S. Manikumar and D. Krishnakumar, JJ held that there can be no order for condonation of delay beyond the extended period of limitation, stating that when the legislative intent is indicated by the provisions of special laws that exclude the provisions of the Limitation Act, then authorities under such statutes cannot exercise power to condone the delay. The Court dismissed the writ appeal filed by the Appellant under Section 85 of the Finance Act, 1994 against the refusal of condonation of a delay of 223 days in proceedings before the Commissioner of Service Tax (Appeals).

The Court noticed that Section 85 of the Finance Act) provides that appeal be filed 3 months from date of communication of order, while the Commissioner (Appeals) is empowered to condone delays of a further three months if satisfied of sufficient cause. The Court noted that Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 which permits the Court to exercise its discretion in condonation of delay, as also sections 4 to 24, were to apply insofar as they were not barred by local or special law. The Court held section 85 of the Finance Act as analogous to limitation restrictions per Section 128 of the Customs Act, 1962; Section 34(3) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996; Section 125 of the Electricity Act, 2003; Section 35-G of the Central Excise Act, 1944, constituting self-contained Acts and codes and that the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, cannot direct the appellate authority to condone the delay, beyond the extended period of limitation. Further, the Court, in consonance with the decision in Indian Coffee Worker’s Co-operative Society Ltd.  v. Commissioner of Commercial Taxes 2002 (I) CTC 406, stated that the power of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution did not extend to directing the Appellate Authority to consider appeal on merits, even if the High Court were to accept reasons given by the assessee for not filing appeal in the time prescribed under the Act as that would be an extension of limitation and the exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 did not extend to re-writing the provisions of the Act. [R. Gowrishankar v. Commissioner of Service Tax (Appeal)- I., 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 6023, decided on 13-06-2016]

Case BriefsHigh CourtsUniversities and Educational Institutions

Madras High Court: In the matter where the deceased had killed one of his children before committing suicide due to the exorbitant fees charged by the private school, the Court dismissed a writ petition , filed by his widow seeking for compensation from the State Government. The bench of Nooty Ramamohana Rao and S.S. Sundar, JJ; held that the deceased could have taken assistance from the Welfare Officer and philanthropic organizations where they would bear the expenditure for better education instead of taking violent measures. The petitioner had sought for relief of securing free education for the remaining and surviving child and also compensation for the double tragedy.

The Court held that the action of the husband of killing an innocent child cannot be appreciated for which if he was alive, he would have been prosecuted under Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Court, 1973. The Court also held that the State Government, as a measure of welfare of the Society at large, has been running and maintaining several institutions for promoting the cause of education like a government-run educational institutions or philanthropic organizations for financial support. The Court, hence, held that the claim of the petitioner for payment of compensation against the State Government is an extravagant one as the State is nowhere responsible for the violent action unleashed by the husband of the petitioner. [Easwari v. Principal Secretary, Department of School Education, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 6299 dated on 8th June, 2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: While deciding upon the issues involving the constitutionality of Section 18 of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 vis-à-vis Article 14 of the Constitution and whether the Parliament can legislate in respect of Micro, Small and Medium Scale industries as the subject falls within the scope of Entry 24 of List II of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, the Division Bench of S.K. Kaul, C.J., and R. Mahadevan, J., dismissing the petition, held that Section 18 of the MSMED Act does not violate Article 14 with respect to the right to approach the courts for dispute settlement. The Court further held that the present case falls within the purview of Entry 52 of List I of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution by way of which the Parliament can legislate in respect of the industries in the manufacturing or production sector, as well as the industries engaged in the service sector.

The petitioner’s company placed with the respondent for the supply of Galvanized Steel Structures/Solar Module Mounting Structures. However disputes arose between them due to the respondent making further demands, without making any correlative supplies. According to the petitioner the respondent filed a claim petition under Section 18 of the MSMED Act, 2006, before the Micro Small Medium Enterprises Facilitation Council and the facilitation council, despite the objections from the petitioner, referred the matter to arbitration. While the arbitration is still pending, the petitioner has filed the present petition questioning the validity of Section 18. The petitioner contended that Section 18 is ultravires Article 14 of the Constitution as it takes away the right to approach the Courts for dispute resolution. It was further contended that ‘industry’ is a subject of the State List upon which the Parliament cannot legislate.

Perusing the contentions, the Court examined the provisions of the MSMED Act. Accordingly the Court observed that the definition of ‘enterprise’ as provided in Section 2(e) of the Act includes industrial undertaking or a business concern or any other establishment, engaged in the manufacture or production of goods or engaged in providing or rendering of any service or services. Therefore the definition is wide enough for it to be interpreted as a subject matter of Entry 52 of List I of the 7th Schedule, upon which the Parliament has the right to legislate. The Court further observed that the petitioner’s contention of the impugned Section violating Article 14 of the Constitution is factually erroneous as Section 19 of the 2006 Act provides for the remedy to the person aggrieved by the award or decree to approach the Court. [Refex Energy Ltd. v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 4912, decided on 02.06.2016]

High Courts

Madras High Court: While deciding upon a question that whether after the enactment of National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, there is no necessity to appoint a retired High Court Judge as an Appellate Authority under the Air and Water Act, the Court observed that the constitution of National Green Tribunal cannot be stated as a reason for not constituting the Appellate Authority, in terms of the direction issued by the Supreme Court, as the National Green Tribunal will have jurisdiction to decide cases, which are to be filed against the orders of the Appellate Authority alone.

The National Green Tribunal will have jurisdiction to hear and dispose of cases filed against the orders of the Appellate Authorities and the Appellate Authority having been directed to be constituted as according to the directions issued by Supreme Court to constitute Appellate Authorities under S. 28 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and S. 31 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and other Rules, which mandates a Judge of the High Court, sitting or retired, and a Scientist or group of Scientists of high ranking and experience, to help in the adjudication of disputes relating to environment and pollution. Puducherry Environment Protection Association v. Union of India, Writ Petition No.19496 of 2013 and M.P.Nos.1 and 2 of 2013, decided on April 11, 2014 

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