Cases ReportedSupreme Court Cases

Armed Forces — Promotion — Non-empanelment as Lt. General — Improper assessment of confidential reports: In this case there was change in method of assessment from figurative assessment of personal qualities and box grading to pen-picture assessment in confidential report of officers holding listed appointments, which was detrimental to respondent. Overall service profile of respondent presented before Special Selection Board was tainted by irrelevant and irregular considerations and warranted a change. Statutory complaints made by respondent were rejected. Relevant documents, namely, comments of Army Authorities also not supplied to respondent. Authorities concerned acted in excess of jurisdiction and in violation of policy decision. Respondent illegally denied second mandatory look for nomination to National Defence College. It was held that the Single Judge of High Court rightly directed that there should be reassessment of respondent by Special Selection Board for empanelment as Lt. General. [Union of India v. Arun Roye, (2019) 6 SCC 57]

Cantonments Act, 1924 — S. 185 — Notice for stoppage of alleged unauthorised construction: When proper procedure for issuance of notice has not been followed and in absence of compliance with principles of natural justice, it was held that the High Court was justified in quashing the notices issued under S. 185. However, appellants were given liberty to issue fresh notices in accordance with law. [Cantonment Board, Meerut v. Afzal, (2019) 6 SCC 150]

Constitution of India — Arts. 19(1)(a) and 19(2) — Freedom of Press — Documents relating to Rafale aircraft purchase deal by Central Government with France: There is no prohibition of law on publication of certain documents relating to the deal, improperly procured from Ministry’s records and published in newspaper on any of the grounds mentioned in Art. 19(2), hence, neither illegal nor impermissible. [Yashwant Sinha v. CBI, (2019) 6 SCC 1]

Constitution of India — Arts. 226 and 227 — Exercise of power — Adjudication of writ petition and intra-court appeal: Decision based on irrelevant considerations and by ignoring relevant aspects of matter, not sustainable.  [Monthi Menezes v. Devaki Amma, (2019) 6 SCC 136]

Consumer Protection — Consumer Forums — Practice and Procedure — Additional evidence: In this case, documents sought to be produced before State Commission in appeal against order of District Forum to issue possession certificate and execute sale deed admittedly came into existence after appeal was filed before State Commission, appellants, therefore, could not have produced said documents before District Forum. On facts, it was held that documents are of relevance to establish that appellant vendors are not in a position to obtain occupancy certificate from Municipal Corporation until unauthorized structures, in violation of approved plans, are removed. In absence of these documents, appellants would not be in a position to substantiate their case that they are unable to obtain occupancy certificate, and comply with directions issued by District Forum. State Commission was in error by rejecting application filed by appellants under Or. 41 R. 27 CPC by merely stating that documents are “not necessary”, by an unreasoned order. State Commission ought to have taken a holistic view of matter. Interim order of State Commission set aside, as also impugned order dt. 16-3-2018 passed by National Commission. Matter remitted to State Commission to take additional documents on record, and decide appeal on merits in accordance with law expeditiously since it is pending since 2013. [Jiten K. Ajmera v. Tejas Coop. Housing Society, (2019) 6 SCC 128]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 197 — Sanction for prosecution: Manager of nationalized bank, though a public servant, but, not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the Government. Hence, appellant cannot claim protection under S. 197 CrPC. [S.K. Miglani v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2019) 6 SCC 111]

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — S. 482 — Quashment of criminal proceedings: In this case, High Court quashed the order passed by Judicial Magistrate in complaint case, whereby Magistrate took cognizance of complaint filed by appellant herein against R-2 & R-3 under Ss. 323 and 379 r/w S. 34 IPC by holding that a prima facie case was made out against respondents. High Court gave importance to the fact that there was a dispute pending between parties in civil court in relation to a shop as being landlord and tenant. The Supreme Court held that High Court failed to see that mere pendency of a civil suit is not an answer to question as to whether a case under Ss. 323 and 379 r/w S. 34 IPC is made out against R-2 & R-3 or not. In order to see whether any prima facie case against accused for taking its cognizance is made out or not, Court is only required to see allegations made in complaint. In absence of any finding recorded by High Court on this material question, impugned order held to be legally unsustainable. High Court had no jurisdiction to appreciate the evidence, proceedings under S. 482 CrPC because whether there are contradictions or/and inconsistencies in statements of witnesses is essentially an issue relating to appreciation of evidence and the same can be gone into by Magistrate during trial. That stage is yet to come. The conclusion arrived at by High Court for quashing the complaint is not legally sustainable. Order of Magistrate is restored because it records a finding that a prima facie case for taking cognizance is made out. [Mohd. Allauddin Khan v. State of Bihar, (2019) 6 SCC 107]

Education Law — Employment and Service Matters re Educational Institutions —Termination/Removal/Dismissal: Disciplinary proceedings are independent and clearly maintainable despite pendency of criminal proceedings in respect of the same subject matter. Decision of school management to terminate the services of a teacher (R-1) on the allegations of his objectionable behaviour with/sexual harassment of girl students, held, was valid, even when such decision was taken on the basis of the report of Convenor of Inquiry Committee but in which committee the nominee of R-1 and State Awardee Teacher had refused to sign the report on erroneous ground that guilt of R-1 could be determined in the pending criminal proceedings alone. [Lucy Sequeira Trust v. Kailash Ramesh Tandel, (2019) 6 SCC 155]

Evidence Act, 1872 — S. 32(1) — Dying declaration — When may be sole basis for conviction — Principles summarized: A dying declaration can be the sole basis for convicting the accused. However, such a dying declaration should be trustworthy, voluntary, blemishless and reliable. In case the person recording dying declaration is satisfied that declarant is in a fit medical condition to make the statement and if there are no suspicious circumstances, dying declaration may not be invalid solely on the ground that it was not certified by the doctor. [Poonam Bai v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 6 SCC 145]

Family and Personal Laws — Hindu Law — Joint Family Property/HUF Property vis-à-vis Self-acquired Property/Individual Income: The law on the aspect of blending is well settled that property separate or self-acquired of a member of a joint Hindu family may be impressed with the character of joint family property if it is voluntarily thrown by the owner into the common stock with the intention of abandoning his separate claim therein; but to establish such abandonment a clear intention to waive separate rights must be established. Clear intention to abandon the separate rights in the property must be proved. Even abandonment cannot be inferred from mere allowing other family members also to use the property or utilisation of income of the separate property out of generosity to support the family members. [S. Subramanian v. S. Ramasamy, (2019) 6 SCC 46]

Insurance — Causation/Assessment of Loss/Surveyors, Investigators and Loss Assessors: Rejection of report of its own surveyor by Insurance Company, not permissible in the absence of any valid reason or proof that the report was arbitrary or excessive. [New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Luxra Enterprises (P) Ltd., (2019) 6 SCC 36]

Insurance — Personal Accident Insurance: Claim under the accident benefit cover, when the assured dies after sudden fall from the motorcycle, not grantable, when the death is due to a heart attack and not because of falling from the motorcycle. [Alka Shukla v. LIC, (2019) 6 SCC 64]

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 — S. 15 — Juvenility: In this case, it was held that plea pf juvenility can be claimed even at stage of appeal before Supreme Court. [Ashok Kumar Mehra v. State of Punjab, (2019) 6 SCC 132]

Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 — Ss. 1(3), 2(e) and 14 — Employees of Municipalities — Entitlement to gratuity — Central Act vis-à-vis State Act: In terms of S. 3, U.P. Dookan Aur Vanijya Adhishthan Adhiniyam, 1962 (26 of 1962), 1972 Act inapplicable to Government or local bodies. Since S. 14 of 1972 Act has overriding effect, employees of Municipalities entitled to gratuity which is in interest of employees. Besides, Noti. dt. 8-1-1982 published by Central Government under S. 1(3)(c) of 1972 Act specifying local bodies in which 10 or more people were employed in preceding 12 months are to be amenable to applicability of Act. [Nagar Nigam, Kanpur v. Mujib Ullah Khan, (2019) 6 SCC 103]

Penal Code, 1860 — S. 302 or S. 304 Pt. II [S. 300 Exception 4] — Murder of wife or culpable homicide: In this case of sudden fight, appellant strangulated his wife S and caused her death on the rooftop of premises but there was absence of premeditation and act was committed in a heat of passion. No undue advantage was taken by accused and he had not acted in a cruel or unusual manner. Hence, conviction converted to one under S. 304 Pt. II. [Rambir v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2019) 6 SCC 122]

Specific Relief Act, 1963 — S. 34 — Suit for declaration of title over immovable property — Burden of proof: Plaintiff is required to discharge his burden independent of case of defendant. Passing of declaratory decree where plaintiff did not lead evidence to establish his title, is not permissible. Khata entries are not proof of title but for revenue purpose. Even if few sentences in written statement advantageous to plaintiff, such written statement required to be read in totality. It is necessary for plaintiff to adduce contra evidence where defendant led relevant evidence. [Jagdish Prasad Patel v. Shivnath, (2019) 6 SCC 82]