Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Judge Bench comprising of Sharad Kumar Sharma and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. declared that denial of cruelty by the lower court was erred on illogical interpretations.

The appellant has appealed against the orders of the family court on the denial for the grant of divorce and permanent alimony under Section 25 of the of Hindu Marriage Act. She has claimed that respondent under the influence of alcohol misbehaved with her by inflicting mental cruelty along with his absence both as a husband and father with the appellant and her child. She also pleaded an attempt to force sodomy upon her by the respondent.

The Court stated that inferences were drawn from facts which in itself cannot be taken as a proof against the statements of the appellant and thus was not an analogical and judicial inference rendered by the lower court. Also in the written statement the respondent had not specifically denied his act of misbehaving in an intoxicated condition. The most important point for consideration was that sodomy was something a wife would never plead against the husband to allege cruelty and therefore shall be weighed substantially. Accordingly, the act of cruelty stood established plus the appellant was also granted the permanent alimony.[Suman Lata Panwar v. Ajay Singh, F.A. No. 77 of 2013, order dated 15-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“Motor Vehicles Act is a beneficial piece of legislation enacted to give solace to the victims of the motor accident who suffer bodily injury or die untimely.”

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of A.M. Sapre and Indu Malhotra, JJ. allowed the present appeal filed against the decision of Rajasthan High Court whereby the appeal of the claimants was dismissed and award  by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (Jaipur) was affirmed.

In the present case, the deceased was travelling in a passenger bus to a place called ‘Chomu’ and when the bus reached Chomu, a truck which was going towards Jaipur came on a high speed and dashed against the bus. Deceased sustained grevious injuries resulting in instant death which led to the filing of an FIR. Further, the incident gave rise to initiation of criminal and civil proceedings.

Proceeding were initiated before the civil court, filed by the appellants (claimants) against the Insurance Company (Respondent 1), driver (Respondent 2) and owner of the offending truck (Respondent 3) under Section 166 Motor Vehicles Act before MACT claiming to award reasonable compensation for loss on account of untimely death of the deceased, their only bread earner. Appellants along with the claim petition had filed all the requisite documents against the driver. Tribunal had dismissed the appellants claim petition stating that claimants failed to prove the accident for want of evidence and the one adduced was not exhibited and hence was of no use. Aggrieved by the same, the claimants approached the Rajasthan High Court wherein their appeal was dismissed and therefore filing of the present appeal in Supreme Court arose.

The Bench gave a seven pointer reasoning on the issue by adding that the High Court while dismissing the appeal simply affirmed the award of the Tribunal without assigning any reason. In Court’s opinion, “ non-exhibition of the said document was nothing but a procedural lapse, which could not be made basis to reject the claim petition.” Thus, the Court while stating that “if the Court did not exhibit the documents despite the appellants referring them at the time of recording evidence then in such event, the appellants cannot be denied of their right to claim compensation on such ground.” Appellants were held entitled to claim Rs 11,27,920 by way of compensation from the respondents jointly and severally. [Vimla Devi v. National Insurance Co. Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2458, decided on 16-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjay Kumar, J. while hearing an appeal against dismissal of application for setting aside decree of trial court in a title suit, ruled that consideration of a case and rendering of a decision must be based on appreciation of all the facts, materials and evidence on record.

Petitioner had filed a title suit against respondent for specific performance of the contract which was decreed ex-parte. Respondent’s application to set aside the said decree was dismissed in default. Thereafter, she filed a miscellaneous case for the restoration of her application on the ground that she could not appear before the trial court for several months on account of her illness. A medical certificate in support of her contention was annexed with her pleadings.

The petitioner contended that the parties were litigating in another case where the respondent was appearing continuously and as such her claim of illness was false and the medical certificate had been procured fraudulently from the doctor.

The High Court noted that the trial court had not considered the witness accounts and the documents filed by appellant and respondent and the case had been allowed without proper appreciation of materials on record. The only document considered by court was the medical certificate which showed that the respondent was suffering from jaundice. The trial court had neither discussed the oral evidence of parties nor the other relevant documents on record for deciding the issues involved in the matter.

In view of the above, the instant petition was allowed and trial court’s order dismissing respondent’s application was set aside. The matter was remitted to trial court for disposing of the application after due consideration of oral and documentary evidence adduced on behalf of both the parties. [Gopal Mahto v. Shyama Devi,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1907, decided on 11-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sureshwar Thakur, J., dismissed this petition where an application for production of document relied on by respondent was in question.

Facts of the case were that respondent, landlord of the petitioner had filed a petition seeking eviction of tenant/petitioner on the ground that the property is bonafidely required by respondent for personal use. During the pendency of rent petition respondent filed an application under Order 7, Rule 14 (3) of the Civil Procedure Code where a report prepared by a Civil Engineer was produced. Petitioner had approached this court aggrieved by the order of Rent Controller where respondent’s application as mentioned above was accepted. Petitioner contended that the documents submitted under the application was a report made after the institution of rent petition and was not existing before filing of the rent petition as it should have been under the provision. 

The High Court was of the view that the document submitted was an expert report which rather falls under Section 45 of the Evidence Act. The fact that there are no provisos under Order 7 Rule 14 barring opinion of an expert, the same can be permitted as an evidence even when it came into light subsequent, to, the institution of the petition. Therefore, the Court granted leave for tendering the report as evidence which is just and essential for the controversy in the rent petition and affirmed the impugned order. [Suman Bala v. Rakesh Sood,2018 SCC OnLine HP 1462, decided on 28-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The petition had been filed before a Single Judge Bench comprising of Anjani Kumar Mishra, J., from the proceeding going on under Section 34 of the Land Revenue Act, for mutation. This order of mutation was filed by Tehsildar in favour of respondent. Petitioner contended that the above order was passed ex-parte in a restoration application which was rejected by Tehsildar.

Petitioner aggrieved by the rejection of the restoration application filed a revision petition before Additional Commissioner which was allowed. Later, the order which rejected the recall application and order of mutation was set aside. The restoration application reveals that petitioner claimed to be the second wife of one Bhunesh after whose death the mutation proceedings were filed. It was found that petitioner failed to show that she was the second wife of Bhunesh thus her restoration application was rejected.

The High Court observed that the order in question seemed perverse where petitioner failed to provide evidence to establish her position as the second wife. Court was of the view that this matter requires consideration and the matter was disposed of. [Mamta v. State of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine All 1784, dated 05-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. dismissed an appeal challenging the admission of an unsigned document in the Family Court.

The complaint of the appellant was that an unsigned document in the absence of original being available was exhibited in the Family Court. PW-2, Inspector concerned, had admitted in her cross-examination that the document (copy of the closure report) did not contain her signatures. The appellant submitted that Section 14 or 20 of the Family Courts Act would not be applicable to the instant case.

The High Court was of the view that the appellant’s submission had no force. In her, examination-in-chief, PW-2 categorically deposed that the said document was a photocopy of the report which was prepared and typed by her. She testified that it was correct that the said copy of the closure report was not signed by her but ordinarily such reports are signed and admitted and the original may contain her signatures. Furthermore, reading Section 14 made it clear that the Family Court may receive as evidence any report, statement, documents, information or matter that may in its opinion assist it to deal effectively with the dispute. In the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court held that it was not correct to say that the closure report was false and fabricated. No infirmity was found in the order impugned. Resultantly, the appeal was dismissed. [Sangeeta Gera v. Sanjeev Gera,2018 SCC OnLine Del 11675, dated 16-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. allowed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for an offence punishable under Section 21(c) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The prosecution case was that one Romy (co-accused) was apprehended by the police while supplying contraband substance. Case property (46 grams of the contraband substance) was recovered from him. On Romy’s revealing that he is supplied the said contraband from the appellant, he was also apprehended. Case property (105 grams of the contraband substance) was also recovered from the appellant. The appellant was tried and convicted by the trial court as mentioned above. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and found that as per the malkhana register, the alleged recovery of case properties from the two accused was deposited at the same time on 23 August 2012. However, the recovery from Romy had already been made on the previous day, i.e. 22 August 2012. In view of the Court, the contradiction with respect to deposit the case properties in malkhana pursuant to the two recoveries goes to the root of the matter. The same creates serious doubt in the link evidence that the case properties were kept in safe custody and were not tampered with. In such circumstances, the Court held that the appellant was entitled to benefit of doubt. The appeal was allowed and the convict was acquitted of the offence. [Earnest v. State (NCT of Delhi), Crl. A. 1112 of 2016, dated 27-8-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: N.V. Ramana, J., delivered the judgment for himself and S. Abdul Nazeer, J., dismissing the appeal filed against the decision of Patna High Court affirming the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court.

The appellant along with other co-accused was convicted under Section 396 IPC. Allegations against them were that they committed dacoity in the house of Kamdeo Singh and assaulting his family members while committing the act. One Kameshwar Singh, father-in-law of Kamdeo, succumbed to such injuries. The judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed by the trial court was affirmed by the High Court. Aggrieved thus, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court heard the parties and perused the record. The appellant had contended, inter alia, that there was no test identification parade which vitiated the prosecution case. Rejecting the contention, the Court, observed that test identification parade is not a substantive evidence. Its purpose is only to help the investigating agency ascertain as to whether the investigation in the case is heading in the right direction or not. There is no provision in CrPC which obliges the investigating agency to hold or confer a right on the accused to claim a test identification parade. Absence to hold it would not make inadmissible the evidence of identification in court. For such and other reasons, the Court dismissed the appeal filed by the convict-appellant. The impugned order was upheld. [Raju Manjhi v. State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 778, decided on 02-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit, JJ. allowed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment passed by Punjab and Haryana High Court whereby it affirmed the appellant’s conviction for offences punishable under Section 21(c) read with Section 29  of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The appellant was convicted for the abovesaid offences in a criminal case registered on recovery of 3.99 kg of contraband substance-heroin from a white coloured Indica car on interception by Revenue Intelligence Officer at Hoshiarpur-Garhshankar road. The trial court convicted the appellant which  was confirmed by the High Court. It is pertinent to note that the appellant was specifically named by the co-accused Ram Kumar. Apart from such statement, nothing was brought on record to indicate the involvement of the appellant. Counsel for the appellant submitted that he was neither arrested at the site nor was the contraband material in any way associated with him. On such contention, the decision of the High Court was impugned in the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court proceeded on the footing that the statements of the co-accused were recorded under Section 67 of the Act, and on the premise that they amount to confession. It was observed that even on such a premise, certain additional features must be established before such a confessional statement could be relied upon against a co-accused. There is no specific provision in the Act making such a confession admissible against a co-accused. The Court relied on Hari Charan Kurmi v. State of Bihar, (1964) 6 SCR 623 to hold that a confessional statement of a co-accused cannot by itself be taken as a substantive piece of evidence against another co-accused and can at best be utilized in order to lend assurance to the Court. In the absence of any substantive evidence, it would be inappropriate to base the conviction of the appellant purely on the statements of a co-accused. In the present case, the conviction having been based solely on the confession of the co-accused, the Court was of the view that the appellant was entitled to be acquitted. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Surinder Kumar Khanna v. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence,2018 SCC OnLine SC 757, dated 31-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Manish Pitale, J., reversed the judgment of the trial court where the appellant was convicted for an offence punishable under Section 376 IPC and sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment.

The appellant was accused of committing forcible sexual intercourse on the prosecutrix on two occasions by which she became pregnant. It was alleged that the appellant sexually abused the prosecutrix on a certain day, and after that again when the prosecutrix went to his home to watch television while he was alone. The said incidents were disclosed by the prosecutrix to her mother after she became pregnant, and an FIR was registered against the appellant. The appellant denied the allegations, but the trial court convicted him under Section 376. The appellant contended that the prosecutrix was pregnant with the child of her cousin with whom she stayed for 5-6 months. It was submitted that the appellant was falsely implicated in the case.

The High Court perused the record and found the conviction of the appellant to be unsustainable. It was noted that the conviction was based solely on the evidence of the prosecutrix. There were discrepancies in her statement. She told her mother that the appellant committed the act forcibly, while the doctor was told that it was committed on false pretext of marriage. Further, it was admitted by her that she had a cousin of same age as alleged by the appellant. In such circumstances, and on categorical stand of the appellant that he was falsely implicated, the Court held that the Investigating Officer ought to have conducted DNA test of the girl child born to the prosecutrix, for ascertaining her paternity. In absence of clear proof against the appellant, the High Court set aside the impugned judgment. The appeal was, thus, allowed. [Ganesh Pralhad Sontakke v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1795, dated 25-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Ajay Mohan Goel, J. dismissed a petition filed against the order of trial court whereby petitioner’s application under Order 10 Rules 9 and 10A CPC was rejected.

In the abovesaid application, the petitioner had prayed to the court that a revenue expert be appointed to prepare excerpt and to report the history of the suit land as per pedigree table, as in its absence, the petitioner won’t be able to prove his case. Trial court rejected the application holding that it was for the petitioner to prove his case by leading his own evidence. Aggrieved thus, the petitioner filed the instant petition.

The High Court found no merit in the petition. It noted that the suit was filed somewhere in 2008; issues were framed and evidence was led. It was at that stage of hearing that the said application was filed. The Court observed that before ordering any investigation under the said rules, the court has to be satisfied that the same shall be necessary for the purpose of adjudication. Further, in the present case, the matter being a property dispute, the onus was on the petitioner to prove his case. Neither scientific investigation was required, nor the court deemed a local investigation necessary for the purpose of elucidating evidence. The Court also observed that it is not a right conferred upon a party to call upon the court to order an investigation. Accordingly, the petition was found sans merit and was dismissed. [Rajinder Singh v. Ran Singh,2018 SCC OnLine HP 889, dated 18-07-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: R. Banumathi, J. speaking for herself and Ranjan Gogoi, J. dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of the Bombay High Court wherein the order of the trial court acquitting the appellants from the charges including Section 302 IPC was reversed.

According to the prosecution, the appellants and the deceased/prosecution witnesses were members of different political parties. On a fateful day, the appellants being armed with deadly weapons like sword, knife, motorcycle chain, etc., came to the house of the deceased; attacked him; and the deceased succumbed to injuries. The trial court rejected the evidence of all the witnesses on one count or another and acquitted the appellants. However, on appeal, the High Court reversed the order of the trial court and convicted the appellants under Sections 147, 148, 302 read with Section 149 IPC. This judgment was challenged by the appellants.

For adjudicating the matter, the Supreme Court carefully considered the record and discussed the witness evidence in detail. Following points of law are discernible from the discussion of the Hon’ble Court:

  • Witness evidence cannot be disbelieved simply because he did not react in a particular manner, each person reacts in his own way.
  • Relationship with the deceased is not, by itself, a ground for affecting the credibility of a witness.
  • FIR is not an encyclopedia which is expected to contain all the details of the prosecution case. It is not be rejected unless there are indications of fabrication in the FIR.

Further, on perusal of the record, the Court found that witness evidence was corroborated by the medical evidence and also by the recovery of weapons from the accused. It was observed that on an appeal against the acquittal, the paramount consideration is to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The Court was of the view that High Court correctly held that the trial court did not appreciate the evidence properly and its findings were perverse; the High Court was right in reversing the order of the trial court. Accordingly, conviction of the appellants was confirmed and the appeals were dismissed. [Motiram Padu Joshi v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine SC 676, decided on 10-07-2018]

Foreign CourtsNews

US District Court for Northern District of Texas: A federal court presided by Ed Kinkeade, J. halved the amount of USD 500 million that was to be paid by Facebook Inc. and others to ZeniMax Media Inc., a video game publisher. The Court also turned down ZeniMax’s request for the ban on sale and promotion of products by ‘Oculus’- virtual reality unit of Facebook. In 2014, Oculus (bought by Facebook for about USD 2 billion) was sued by ZeniMax alleging it of stealing trade secrets while developing a headset and violating copyright. In 2017, a US Jury in Dallas found that Oculus used ZeniMax’s computer code to launch ‘Oculus Rift’-VR headset; and ordered Facebook, Oculus, and others to pay a combined USD 500 mn to ZeniMax. Kinkeade, J., in his order, said that USD 250 mn ordered against Oculus and its co-founders for false designation lacked sufficient evidence for damages. Holding thus, the Court halved the amount to be paid by Facebook, Oculus, and others.

[Source: Reuters]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A criminal appeal filed against the order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court was dismissed by a Division Bench comprising of H.C. Mishra and B.B. Mangalmurti, JJ.

The appellants were accused of assaulting one Mata Sinku and causing his death. The appellants were charged under Section 302 IPC. They were convicted and sentenced of the said offence by the learned trial judge. The appellants contended that their conviction was based only on the testimonies of related witnesses, being the brother, wife and daughter of the deceased. Challenging the admissibility of such evidence, the appellants assailed the order of the trial court.

The High Court considered the submissions made on behalf of the appellants only to reject them. The Court held that the witnesses in the case, although being the brother, mother, and daughter of the deceased, were the only natural witnesses as the incident took place late at night outside their house. Further, the case of the prosecution was also supported by the brother of one of the appellants. The Court held that only because the witnesses were related to the deceased, that fact by itself does not render their evidence to be inadmissible, especially when they were the natural witnesses to the incident. Therefore, the High Court held that there was no infirmity in the order passed by the trial court. The appeals were accordingly dismissed. [Binod Sinku v. State of Jharkhand, 2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 360, dated 17-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A criminal appeal challenging the judgment of the trial court, whereby the appellant was convicted of offence under Prevention of Corruption Act, was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of M.G. Giratkar, J.

The appellant, who was working in the Office of District Dairy Officer, was accused of taking bribe from the complainant, who was the Chairman of Janta Milk Dairy Society. The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), along with the complainant, laid trap and caught the appellant for taking bribe of Rs. 1000. Appellant was charged and convicted by the trial court for the offences under Section 13(1)(d)(i)(ii) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. The appellant challenged the said decision.

The High Court perused the record and found that no specific allegation was made that the appellant took the amount of bribe from the accused. The panch witness did not by themselves saw the appellant taking the bribe. The appellant contended that he was falsely implicated in the case by his senior officer. Even the complainant stated in his evidence that he filed the complaint with ACB on behest of the said senior officer. The Court observed that burden of proof is not so heavy on the accused as it is on the petitioner. An accused just has to prove a probable defence. In the facts of the instant case, where evidence was not such that could prove appellant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the Court held that the appellant succeeded in putting up a probable defence that he was falsely implicated at the behest of his senior officer. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Sadashiv v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 983, dated 10-5-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: An appeal challenging the conviction and sentence of the appellant under Section 20(c) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) 1985, was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Aditya Kumar Trivedi, J.

The appellant was alleged to have been caught with 30 kg of ganja. It was alleged that on receiving information as to the same, the police officials raided appellant’s shop. Though the appellant managed to escape, but 30 kg of ganja was recovered and sealed from his shop in presence of two witnesses. The appellant was charged under Section 20(c), NDPS Act. The Special Judge convicted and sentenced the appellant under the said section. Appellant challenged the decision of Special Judge.

The High Court perused the record and found that while the alleged recovery and seizure of the said contraband material, proper procedure as prescribed by the Act was not followed. Prosecution witnesses did not support the prosecution story. The delay of over six months in getting the FSL report was unexplained. The Court relied on Vijay Jain v. State of M.P., (2013) 14 SCC 527, and held that in the instant case, the prosecution was not able to connect the evidence available to the guilt of the accused. It was observed, “it is the quality and not the quantity which matters while appreciating the evidence in order to search out whether the facts in issue have been proved or not”. Further, mandatory procedures as required by the Act are to be strictly followed because the offence under Section 20(c) is technical offence prescribing stringent punishment. Having find that the investigation in the instant matter was not conducted in strict accordance with provisions of the Act, the High Court set aside the order of the Special Judge convicting and sentencing the appellant under the said section. The appeal was thus allowed. [Naresh Keshari v. State of Bihar,  2018 SCC OnLine Pat 939, dated 28-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: In a Single Judge Bench decision comprising of P. Kalaiyarasan, J., accused was acquitted of the charges under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, confirming the decision of the first appellate court.

The brief facts of the case states that the complainant/ appellant had given an amount of Rs. 3, 50,000 to the accused for meeting his family expenses for which the accused had issued a cheque to the complainant. On the deposit of the said cheque it was returned with an endorsement “insufficient funds”. For the same stated contention a legal notice was issued in the name of the accused.

The trial court had convicted the accused under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, which further was reversed in the decision of the first appellate court; therefore, the complainant filed the criminal appeal. The contention of the accused was that the cheque was stolen and the same was misused in the year 2007 with some other cheques contained in a bag.

The Hon’ble High Court, on perusal of the records, in which exhibits were attached in regard to the complaint filed for the lost bag containing the cheques, held it as established that the criminal appeal stands dismissed as no evidence has been recorded against the accused and the decision of the first appellate court was confirmed. [Arul Mari Joseph v. Edward Raj, 2018 SCC OnLine Mad 1322, dated 11-04-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Writing down a 338-page-long verdict, the 5-judge Constitution Bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud, Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ held:

“Parliamentary Standing Committee Report or any Parliamentary Committee Report can be taken judicial notice of and regarded as admissible in evidence, but it can neither be impinged nor challenged nor its validity can be called in question.”

CJI, writing for himself and Khanwilkar, J said:

“The Constitution itself being a dynamic, lively and ever-changing document adapts to the paradigm of epochs. That being the situation, it is also for this Court to take a fresh look and mould the existing precepts to suit the new emerging situations.”

He further concluded:

  • Where the fact is contentious, the petitioner can always collect the facts from many a source and produce such facts by way of affidavits, and the Court can render its verdict by way of independent adjudication.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee report being in the public domain can invite fair comments and criticism from the citizens as in such a situation, the citizens do not really comment upon any member of the Parliament to invite the hazard of violation of parliamentary privilege.

Chandrachud, J, writing for himself and Sikri, J said:

“As a matter of principle, there is no reason or justification to exclude the report of a Parliamentary Standing Committee from the purview of the judicial process, for purposes such as understanding the historical background of a law, the nature of the problem, the causes of a social evil and the remedies which may provide answers to intractable problems of governance.”

He, however, added that no Member of Parliament or person can be made liable for what is stated in the course of the proceedings before a Parliamentary Committee or for a vote tendered or given.

Bhushan, J, in his detailed judgment explained that the Parliamentary Committee Reports cannot  be  treated  as  conclusive  or binding of what has been concluded in the Report. He said:

“By acceptance of a Parliamentary Committee Report in evidence does not mean that facts stated in the Report stand proved. When issues, facts come before a Court of law for adjudication, the Court is to decide the issues on the basis of evidence and materials brought before it and in which adjudication Parliamentary Committee Report may only be one of the materials, what weight has to be given to one or other evidence   is   the   adjudicatory   function   of   the   Court which may differ from case to case.”

[Kalpana Mehta v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 512, decided on 09.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: An appeal filed under Section 30 of the Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 against the judgment of compensation awarded by the Workman’s Compensation Commissioner, was dismissed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Suman Shyam, J.

Brief facts of the case were that one Aktar Hussain was employed as a handyman on a truck with respondent No. 3 and he was hit by the same truck on the day of the incident, whereby he died on the spot. His wife and mother, being the claimants, filed a case for compensation where under the Commissioner awarded the compensation of Rs. 4,48,000 to be paid to the claimants. The appellant (insurance company) filed the instant appeal against the said order, inter alia, on the ground that no issue was framed by the Commissioner to determine the correctness of the question whether the deceased died in course of his employment, as mandated by Rule 28 framed under Workman’s Compensation Act, 1923.

The Court considered the contentions and examined the record. The Court was of the opinion that it is no doubt correct that Rule 28 enjoins a duty upon the Commissioner to ascertain upon what material proposition of facts or law the parties are at variant and, therefore, to frame and record the issues upon which the right decision of the case appears to him to depend. In the present case, issues had not been framed. But it was also to be noted that both the parties had participated in the trial and led evidence being fully aware of one another’s case, without raising any objection as regards non-framing of issues. Further, the purpose of framing issues is to enable the parties to lead evidence so as to prove or disprove the fact which they are bound to prove or disprove in a proceeding. If the parties to the proceeding have lead evidence being fully conscious about the case of the opposite party, without raising any objection before the trial court on the ground of non-framing of issues, than they cannot be permitted later on to assail the validity of the judgment solely on the ground of non-framing of issues. The Court held that the appeal was devoid of any merits and accordingly the same was dismissed. [The National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Sarzina Begum,  2018 SCC OnLine Gau 323, dated 25-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Anuja Prabhudessai, J., decided a writ petition, wherein it was held that Section 28 (2) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 allows the court to permit evidence by way of an affidavit in an application under Section 12 of the Act.

A short question arose in the petition; whether in an application under Section 12 of the Act, the applicant could be permitted to file affidavit in evidence? The respondent-wife was married to the petitioner-husband. The matrimonial dispute resulted in filing of a divorce petition by the petitioner. The respondent also filed an application under Section 12 of the DV Act. In the course of proceedings, the petitioner contended that the proceedings under the Act were to be dealt with in the manner prescribed under Section 125 CrPC and therefore, the respondent could not be allowed to file affidavit in evidence. He sought a direction to call the respondent in the witness box to adduce evidence.

The High Court perused the Act as well as various decisions of High Courts and the Supreme Court and observed that a cumulative reading of Section 28(1) read with Rule 6(5) indicates that in deciding the application under Section 12, the Court has to follow the procedure prescribed under Section 126 of CrPC and thus, record evidence in presence of the parties. It is however to be noted that Section 28(2) clearly provides that “Nothing in sub-section (1) shall prevent the Court from laying down its own procedure for disposal of an application under Section 12 or under Section 23(2)”. The opening words of Section 28(2) viz. “Nothing in sub-section (1) shall prevent the Court” clearly indicate that notwithstanding the procedure prescribed in Section 28(1) read with Rule 6(5), the Court is empowered to lay down its own procedure in deciding the application under Section 12 or 23(2) of the DV Act. The DV Act is a beneficial piece of social welfare legislation aimed at providing to the victims of domestic violence speedy relief, which are civil in nature. Having regard to the object and scope of the Act, this provision cannot be given a narrow interpretation which will have an effect of rendering it redundant, surplus or otiose.

Holding that the court in its discretion can allow evidence on affidavit and permit cross-examination to test veracity of the evidence, the petition was dismissed. [Aniket Subhash Tupe v. Piyusha Aniket Tupe, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 601, decided on 22.3.2018]