2017 SCC Vol. 7 August 14, 2017 Part 2

Criminal Trial — Circumstantial Evidence — Links in the chain of circumstances — Established — Conviction confirmed — Swami Gadadharanand murder case: Life Imprisonment of two Assistant Kotharis and one disciple of the Board of Trustees of the Swami Narayan sect of Vadtal Gadi Temple who killed the chairman of the Trust in the year 1998, upheld. [Charandas Swami v. State of Gujarat, (2017) 7 SCC 177]

Courts, Tribunals and Judiciary — Judicial Review/Judicial Activism/Judicial Legislation — Judge-made Law/Judicial Legislation — Direction to amend/enact primary or secondary legislation: If a public authority has a duty to do an act and fails to discharge that function, mandamus can be issued to the said authority to perform its duty: being a judicial review of an administrative action. However, a direction to the Government to issue a notification under S. 11-C of the Act would amount to taking a policy decision in a particular manner, which is impermissible; issuance of such notification being in the nature of subordinate legislation. [Mangalam Organics Ltd. v. Union of India, (2017) 7 SCC 221]

Environment Law — Air Pollution — Vehicular Pollution — National Auto Fuel Policy, 2003 — Sale and registration of BS-IV noncompliant vehicles — Prohibition of, w.e.f. 1-4-2017 across India: On and from 1-4-2017, BS-IV non-compliant vehicles, whether two-wheeler, three-wheeler, four-wheeler or commercial vehicles, shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer. Further, all the vehicle registering authorities, are prohibited from registering such vehicles on and from 1-4-2017, except on proof that such a vehicle had been sold on or before 31-3-2017. [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2017) 7 SCC 243]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 386 and 374 — Powers of appellate court to alter sentence — Scope: Statutory provision concerned (in IPC) providing for punishment of imprisonment and that person convicted “and shall also be liable to fine” in respect of offences concerned. Substituting statutory punishment of imprisonment and fine, with fine alone, is impermissible. Appellate court cannot alter punishment/sentence under S. 386 CrPC contrary to law. [State of H.P. v. Nirmala Devi, (2017) 7 SCC 262]

Constitution of India — Arts. 32, 136 and 226 and Arts. 105, 194, 121 and 122 — Reliance upon report of Parliamentary Standing Committee by Court for purpose of fact-finding, and issuance of directions or writs, based thereon — Permissibility of: While exercising the power of judicial review or placing reliance on the report of Parliamentary Standing Committee, the doctrine of restraint has to be applied. As the invitation to contest a Parliamentary Standing Committee report, which would be inevitable if it were to be relied on to issue directions or writs by Court, is likely to disturb the delicate balance that the Constitution provides between the constitutional institutions and a contest/adjudication on the report, could run counter to the spirit of privilege of Parliament which the Constitution protects. Moreover, for issuance of a writ of mandamus, it is primary to establish that one has a right and, in the case at hand, an effort has been made to rely on the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s report to create a right, which is legally not permissible. In this case, whilst taking the prima facie view that a Parliamentary Standing Committee report may not be tendered as a document to augment the stance on the factual score that a particular activity is unacceptable or erroneous, the issue, being a substantial question of law relating to interpretation of the Constitution, referred to a Constitution Bench. [Kalpana Mehta v. Union of India, (2017) 7 SCC 295]

Constitution of India — Art. 14 — Legislation providing for speedier mode of recovery of arbitration award: Rule framed under such legislation providing for recovery of arbitration award amount as arrears of land revenue, not harsh or drastic but a reasonable procedure. Therefore, did not attract the vice of discrimination. [Power Machines India Ltd. v. State of M.P., (2017) 7 SCC 323]

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