2019 SCC Vol. 8 September 14, 2019 Part 1

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 53, 53-A and 311-A — Voice sample — Power of Magistrate to direct giving of: Until Parliament makes appropriate law, Judicial Magistrate, held, has power to order a person to give his voice sample for purpose of investigation of crime. [Ritesh Sinha v. State of U.P., (2019) 8 SCC 1]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 389 — Suspension of sentence: Three accused persons were convicted under Ss. 302/34 IPC for commission of murder of M.  High Court suspended their respective jail sentences by directing that all three accused be released on bail. High Court did not assign any reason for grant of bail. It was held that for bail during pendency of appeal, recording of reasons is mandatory. The said law was not followed by High Court while passing impugned order. Appellant (complainant) and State filed additional evidence against accused persons for the first time in these appeals to show criminal background of accused persons and list of criminal cases pending against some accused persons for commission of several offences. List showed that some cases were registered against accused persons prior to grant of bail and some cases were registered after grant of bail. High Court did not take note of these facts; hence, impugned order deserved to be set aside. Case remanded to High Court enabling it to reconsider applications for grant of bail/suspension of jail sentence afresh on their respective merits keeping in view the two grounds noted above. [Vinod Singh Negi v. State Of U.P., (2019) 8 SCC 13]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 439 — Bail — Proper exercise of power — Matters to be considered in grant of bail: In this case, Respondents were facing trial under Ss. 147, 148, 149, 302, 120-B, 307, 323, 506 and 427 IPC. They were apprehended for committing murder of one S, son of complainant. Sessions Judge rejected bail applications of respondents. High Court allowed bail applications. The Supreme Court held that High Court committed jurisdictional error in passing impugned order because while passing impugned order, High Court did not assign any reason whatsoever as to on what grounds, even though of a prima facie nature, it considered just and proper to grant bail to respondents. Though it may not be necessary to give categorical finding while granting or rejecting bail, yet it must appear from a perusal of the order that the court has applied its mind to relevant facts. It is unfortunate that neither law laid down by Supreme Court, nor material filed by prosecution was taken note of by High Court. After perusing FIR and keeping in view antecedents of accused persons, and further keeping in view manner in which offence under S. 302 IPC was committed, the Supreme Court held that this is not a fit case for grant of bail. These factors were relevant while considering bail application and, they were not taken into consideration. Sessions Judge was right in rejecting bail applications. Bail applications filed by respondents were dismissed. [Mauji Ram v. State of U.P., (2019) 8 SCC 17]

Insurance — Health Insurance/Medical Insurance — Mediclaim Policy — Repudiation of claim/Reduction of claim amount on ground of pre-existing disease — Validity of: As no pre-existing disease at the time policy was taken out, and there was regular renewal of policy thereafter, held, the same made the plea of pre-existing disease impermissible. Even otherwise, insurance company itself had allowed reduced claim amount after repudiation of claim. Thus, it impliedly made plea of pre-existing disease immaterial for insurance company. Repudiation and later reduction of claim amount being contrary to terms of policy, on facts held, unsustainable and claim amount enhanced as per terms of policy. [Kanwaljit Singh v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2019) 8 SCC 22]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — Ss. 173(2), 190(1)(b) & (a), 200 and 202 — Final police report — Procedure to be followed by Magistrate: When Magistrate proceeds to take action by way of cognizance by disagreeing with the conclusions arrived at in the police report, he would be taking cognizance on the basis of the police report [under S. 190(1)(b)], and not on complaint [under S. 190(1)(a)], and, therefore, in such a case the question of examining the complainant or his witnesses under Ss. 200/202 CrPC would not arise. Magistrate can, faced with a final report, independently apply his mind to the facts emerging from investigation and take cognizance under S. 190(1)(b), and in this regard, is not bound to follow the procedure under Ss. 200 and 202 CrPC for taking cognizance under S. 190(1)(b). It is; however, open to the Magistrate to do so. [Vishnu Kumar Tiwari v. State of U.P., (2019) 8 SCC 27]

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 302/34 or 304 Pt. I/34 [Ss. 300 Exceptions 2 and 4] — Murder — Unfair investigation — Suppression of relevant materials — Failure to take plea of self-defence — Effect: In this case, accused persons allegedly assaulted deceased leading to homicidal death. Trial court convicted all four accused under Ss. 302/34. The High Court concluded that assault was made on the spur of the moment without premeditation and that both sides having suffered injuries, conviction ought to be altered under S. 304 Pt. I. Two of the accused were acquitted as their presence was found to be doubtful, hence, acquittal of two accused and alteration of conviction to that under S. 304 Pt. I, confirmed. [Anand Ramachandra Chougule v. Sidarai Laxman Chougala, (2019) 8 SCC 50]

Land Acquisition Act, 1894 — S. 23 — Compensation — Computation of — Determination of market value — Comparative sales method — Sale deeds as exemplars: Merely because land in question is agricultural land, price of small piece of land cannot be taken into consideration for determining price of large chunk of land. Namdeo Shankar Govardhane v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 8 SCC 56]

Specific Relief Act, 1963 — Ss. 16 and 20 — Readiness and willingness of plaintiff to perform his part of the contract:  Merely from delay in filing of suit after accrual of cause of action, held, it cannot be inferred against plaintiff that he was not ready and willing to perform his part, if suit was filed within period of limitation. Relief of specific performance which is governed entirely by principles of equity in England, must be considered in India in light of the statutory framework in which it has been cast. R. Lakshmikantham v. Devaraji, (2019) 8 SCC 62]

Service Law — Recruitment Process — Estoppel — Approbate and reprobate — Impermissibility: Selection process cannot be challenged after participation therein, after its completion upon failure to get selected/appointed. [MCD v. Surender Singh, (2019) 8 SCC 67]

Election — Elections to Particular Bodies/Offices — Local Government/Bodies/Municipalities/Panchayats/Autonomous and Other Bodies — Vacancy/Casual vacancy: In this case there was casual vacancy on seat of Councillor under S. 9 of MMC Act, 1888 due to invalidation of caste certificate of returned candidate. Statutory scheme of MMC Act, 1882, in this regard, explained. Candidate getting second highest votes and claiming his right by filing election petition, held, has a right to be declared as deemed elected under prescribed conditions and Election Commissioner without applying mind in this regard could not have notified bye-elections. Election Commissioner, therefore, was directed to apply mind to statutory conditions and decide entitlement of right of appellants (candidates getting second highest votes) to be declared elected. [Nitin Bandopant Salagre v. State Election Commission, (2019) 8 SCC 77]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 — Murder of wife — Dying declaration: In this case appellant in a drunken position beat his wife and thereafter poured kerosene oil and set her on fire. Dying declaration was recorded by Tahsildar, after obtaining certificate about consciousness of victim. Trial court convicted appellant-accused under S. 302 IPC. High Court dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court held that the appellant was in a small room along with deceased and their two children. It was certified in medical certificate that the patient was conscious and fit for dying declaration. Non-mentioning that she was physically and mentally fit, does not make the medical certificate defective. Dying declaration pointed to the cause of the death being homicidal and the author of crime being appellant. Case of accidental fall of the lamp was not acceptable. Burn injuries suffered by appellant and the two sons are reconcilable with prosecution version of homicide committed by appellant. Appellant was drunk, he poured kerosene and deceased in a natural response to the injuries would be frantic and her reaction would bring her into close contacts with others in a small room including appellant and their children, hence, appellant stood squarely implicated by the dying declaration. The fact that the kerosene can was not at all sent to FSL cannot cast a reasonable doubt in a case like the present in view of the dying declaration. Unambiguous words came from the mouth of his deceased wife who cannot be expected to lie as she would be conscious, that she would have to meet her maker with a lie in her mouth. [Bhagwan v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 8 SCC 95]

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — S. 36(3) [as amended vide Act 3 of 2016 w.e.f. 23-10-2015] — Arbitral award for payment of money against State Government — Grant of unconditional stay to Government: Considering amended provisions of S. 36 of 1996 Arbitration Act (whereunder now mere challenge to arbitral award would not render the award unenforceable), held, under S. 36(3) of the said Act, grant of stay of operation of the award is to be for reasons to be recorded in writing subject to such conditions as the court may deem fit. Further held, in proceedings under Arbitration Act, the said Act being a self-contained Act, provisions of CPC will apply only insofar as the same are not inconsistent with the spirit and provisions of the Arbitration Act. The provisions of CPC must be followed as guidance, whereas provisions of the Arbitration Act must essentially be applied first. Expression “have due regard to” in S. 36(3) proviso of Arbitration Act used in relation to provisions for grant of stay of a money decree under CPC would only mean that the provisions of CPC are to be taken into consideration, and not that they are mandatory. Mere reference to CPC in S. 36 of Arbitration Act cannot be construed in such a manner that it takes away the power conferred on court in main statute (Arbitration Act) itself i.e. power regarding imposition of conditions while grant of stay against award. Thus, in view of the above, invocation of Or. 27 R. 8-A CPC by High Court for grant of unconditional stay to Government with respect to arbitral award passed against it, held, was not proper. Even if it was assumed that provisions of Or. 27 R. 8-A CPC (exempting Government from furnishing any security) were applicable to instant proceedings, considering amendment made to Or. 41 R. 5 CPC by Act 104 of 1976 w.e.f. 1-2-1977 without there being any consequential amendment to Or. 27 R. 8-A CPC in that regard, further held, the provisions under Or. 27 R. 8-A CPC (which dealt with furnishing of security) did not restrict the court while considering stay application of Government from directing the Government to make deposit of awarded amount or any part thereof. [Pam Developments (P) Ltd. v. State of W.B., (2019) 8 SCC 112]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 304-B — Dowry death: In this case of unnatural death of deceased due to consumption of pesticide within 7 yrs of marriage, proximate nexus between death of deceased and cruelty/harassment inflicted upon her in respect of dowry demand not was established. Testimonies of PWs 3 and 4 (father and brother of deceased, respectively) were found insufficient to establish that deceased was subjected to cruelty relating to demand of dowry soon before her death, in absence of examination of any independent witnesses though available but not examined. Further, memorandum purportedly executed by in-laws of deceased in presence of Panchayat members could not be relied upon since none of Panchayat members were examined to prove settlement. Besides, letters allegedly written by deceased did not establish factum of dowry demand “soon before her death”. Thus, neither demand for dowry nor fact that such demand was raised soon before her death proved. Hence, not even presumption under S. 113-B of Evidence Act, 1872 could not be invoked, appellant also entitled to benefit of doubt.  [Mahesh Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2019) 8 SCC 128]

Service Law — Departmental Enquiry — Penalty/Punishment: In this case as there was failure to avail repeated opportunities of hearing, it was held that yet another opportunity cannot be granted on the ground of justice. Delaying tactics cannot be rewarded. As financial irregularities running into crores of rupees established against respondent Bank Officer, removal order, restored. [SBI v. Atindra Nath Bhattacharyya, (2019) 8 SCC 134]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions –Regularisation/Confirmation/Absorption — Absorption: On death of regularly appointed candidate, leave vacancy ceased to exist and substantive vacancy arose which was required to be filled in accordance with law. Appellant had no right or entitlement to claim that his appointment on ad hoc basis against leave vacancy should be converted into substantive appointment. [Raman Singh v. District Inspector of Schools, (2019) 8 SCC 138]

Army Rules, 1954 — Rr. 13(3)(III)(iii) or (v) — Discharge from service: Discharge from service on grounds of medical unfitness without convening Invalidating Medical Board, held, illegal since in terms of R. 13(3)(III)(iii) a person found medically unfit for further service can be discharged “only on recommendation of Invalidating Board”. R. 13(3)(III)(v) upon which reliance was placed inapplicable since it is in the nature of residuary provision covering all classes of discharge not specifically provided for. pSulekha Rani v. Union of India, (2019) 8 SCC 143]

Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 — S. 2(f) — “Employee” — Scope of — Offsite workers when covered: Definition of “employee” under S. 2(f) is an inclusive definition which is widely worded to include any person engaged either directly or indirectly in connection with work of an establishment. pSub-Regional Provident Fund Office v. Godavari Garments Ltd., (2019) 8 SCC 149]

Consumer Protection — Maintainability — Delay/Laches/Limitation — Non-raising of objection of lack of pecuniary jurisdiction at the earliest stage — Effect of: Objection regarding pecuniary jurisdiction of consumer forums should be raised at the earliest opportunity. The plea of pecuniary jurisdiction not having been specifically raised before the State Commission at the earliest opportunity; and the State Commission having already decided the matter on merits, such a technical objection could not have been countenanced before the National Commission. [Treaty Construction v. Ruby Tower Coop. Housing Society Ltd., (2019) 8 SCC 157]

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