Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Applicant filed an application under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code which was contemplated by Dinesh Kumar Singh, J. where the prayer was to quash the Charges under certain Sections of Penal Code, 1860.

The applicant was charged under Sections 366, 376, 328, 506, 406 of IPC, in which the Chief Judicial Magistrate had taken cognizance. Santosh Yadav, counsel for the applicant argued that the accused was falsely implicated by the respondent-complainant who was the mother of the victim, the main reason cited by the counsel behind such baseless complaint was alleged desire to the victim to marry applicant. The counsel submitted the statements of the complainant and highlighted that she had stated that ‘she suspected the involvement of accused in the instant case.’ Another issue highlighted was alleged kidnapping by the accused-applicant, it was submitted that the victim was never abducted as she herself went to the police station to register the complaint. The attention of the Court was also drawn towards the other statement of the victim, recorded under Section 161 of CrPC. where the allegation of rape had been made upon the accused applicant who after committing rape had given assurance to marry her and subsequently when she asked to marry he committed assault and refused to marry.  In addition to these aforementioned evidences the applicant submitted an injury report, where it was stated that no marks to injury were found on the victim. Lastly, it was submitted by the learned counsel for the applicant that many facts were ignored by the Investigating Officer and the charge-sheet had been submitted in a routine manner, which was nothing but an abuse of the process of Court and in the interest of justice, the charge sheet deserved to be quashed.

Bhaiya Ghanshyam Singh, Advocate General for the state, had vehemently opposed the prayer for quashing of the charge- sheet and had stated that the evidence which was collected by the Investigating Officer cannot be looked into in this Application under Section 482 CrPC as the same will be required during the trial. It was submitted that High Court had no jurisdiction to appreciate the evidence of the proceedings under Section 482 of CrPC. “because whether there are contradictions or/and inconsistencies in the statements of the witnesses is essentially an issue relating to appreciation of evidence and the same can be gone into by the Judicial Magistrate during trial when the entire evidence is adduced by the parties.”

The Court held that the Investigating Officer had recorded the statements of as many as five witnesses have submitted the charge-sheet. It further opined that “the truthfulness of the statements of the witnesses cannot be scrutinized in Application under Section 482 CrPC” The Court relied upon the Judgment in Anurag Singh v. Chhatisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 509, where the Supreme Court had held that ‘position of law, was apparent that whether accused wanted to marry the victim right from very beginning or not and whether consent given by victim for sexual intercourse was a free-consent or not, was a subject matter of evidence, which is only possible to be decided after trial.’

Hence, the prayer for quashing the FIR was refused and the application was dismissed.[Kamal Pal v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 3539, decided on 25-09-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT): Coram of Justice Tarun Agarwala (Presiding Officer), Dr C.K.G. Nair (Member), and Justice M.T. Joshi (Judicial Member), quashed an order by the WTM who held the appellant vicariously liable for an act of the Company she worked in.

SEBI received a complaint against Silicon Projects India Limited (SPIL) in respect of the issue of Secured Redeemable Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) and consequently made an investigation as to whether SPIL made any public issue of securities without complying with the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956. On investigation, it was found that SPIL had made an offer of NCDs in the financial years 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and raised an amount of Rs 18.03 crore from 406 allottees. This offer was found to be in violation of the provisions of SEBI Act, 1992, the Companies Act, 1956 and SEBI (Issue and Listing of Debt Securities) Regulations, 2008 (ILDS Regulations). Accordingly, SEBI passed an order on 03-03-2016 for their debarment and refund to the investors against SPIL and its Directors. Since the directions were not complied with, SEBI initiated recovery proceedings against the Company and its Directors.

Along with the appellant, Shib Narayan Das and Antara Mukherjee were also Directors of SPIL during the issuance of the NCDs and were also engaged in fund mobilizing activity. SEBI issued an interim order on 07-03-2016 restraining them from accessing the securities market and further prohibited from buying, selling or dealing in the securities market and asked them to provide a full inventory of all their assets and properties.

By the same interim order, the appellant and the other Directors were directed to show cause as to why action should not be taken under Section 11 and 11-B of the SEBI Act to refund the money collected with interest.

The appellant filed a reply contending that she was appointed as a receptionist in 2009 on a salary of Rs 3000 and in March 2011, she was made a Director of the Company and her salary was increased to Rs 5000 per month. She gave her resignation as a Director on 01-12-2011. She contended that she had nothing to do with the issuance of NCDs and had never attended any meeting of the Board of Directors nor was a signatory to any Resolution in relation to the issuance of NCDs. Instead, Shib Narayan Das in his capacity of Chairman and Director of the Company used to sign all the necessary documents. Further, she was never involved in any activity of the Company. When CBI investigated the case against the Company in 2016, all the Directors including Shib Narayan Das was arrested but the appellant was not.

The WTM passed an order holding that the appellant is jointly and severally liable to refund the money collected by SPIL as she was a Director in the Company and cannot plead ignorance of the affairs of the Company. The appellant was aggrieved by this order and filed an appeal to challenge this order.

The Tribunal held that the said order was patently erroneous and against the provisions of Section 73(2) of the Companies Act as it was made on the assumption that in the absence of any officer being nominated as an officer in default then all the Directors were liable under Section 5(g) of the Companies Act. The WTM did not rely on any evidence on record and therefore, their order was illegal and unsustainable.

Usually, when an offence is committed by a company, the liability is not imposed on all the officers of the company en bloc. The Companies Act makes a departure from this pattern. It gives an opportunity to the board of directors to distribute the work as between the members of the board or to appoint a managerial person. If nothing of this sort is done, only then the whole board is liable to be prosecuted. In this case, it was not possible to hold one Director vicariously responsible for the acts of the Directors in charge of day-to-day affairs of the Company. The spirit of Section 27 of the SEBI Act indicates that an appellant who has nothing to do with the day-to-day affairs of the Company cannot be held guilty of any violation as there is no such thing as vicarious liability under Section 11-B of the SEBI Act. The order was quashed and the appeal was allowed.[Sayanti Sen v. Securities & Exchange Board of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SAT 132, decided on 09-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Abhay Chaturvedi, JJ. partly allowed a criminal appeal wherein they reduced the sentences of the accused-applicant due to lack of evidences produced by the prosecution.

In the present case, the accused-applicant was charged under Sections 307 and 326 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 in an order passed by the learned trial court. The learned trial court passed a strict sentence under the aforementioned provisions. It was alleged that the accused-applicant had indulged in looting and scandalizing the informant’s shop. The informant had lodged a report of the incident to the police. Thereafter, accused-applicant, armed with an acid bottle, assaulted the informant and his son by throwing acid on them. The incident left both the informant and his son with severe burns on their body. On the basis of the report, an FIR was registered by the police station for the offences under Section 323 and 326-A IPC. During the proceedings in the trial court, the accused-applicant had provided a different set of facts. He presented that the accused applicant had visited the shop to purchase some groceries and upon not being able to pay the full amount the informant was furious. While passing by their shop, the accused-applicant was accosted and beaten up with an acid bottle. However, the trial court upon perusal of the evidences and medical report placed on record, framed charges against the accused-applicant for the above offences.

Anand Purohit, Senior Advocate, assisted by Kapil Purohit representing the accused-applicant, challenged the trial court order and stated that the facts presented by the prosecution were incorrect. The Senior Advocate, without challenging the fact that the accused-applicant had caused the injuries, submitted that due to the incident occurring at the spur of the moment and not being pre-mediated, the Court should reduce the sentences awarded by the trial court.

Public Prosecutor representing the Respondents, N.S. Bhati, claimed that the accused-applicant was merely a drug addict hence such an act was expected from him. Adding to that, he had troubled the respondents twice on that fateful day. He, therefore, stated that the impugned judgment is just and legal and does not deserve any sort of interference.

The High Court noted the fact that the accused-applicant did not challenge the fact that the acid-attack was perpetrated by him. However, the court also put forth that there was no police report by the injured party about the incident of looting thus there was a falsification of facts however it considered the medical report proving the injuries to be caused by acid. There was also a medical report proving the accused-applicant bearing a hole in his heart thereby mitigating the circumstances of causing an attack on others and thus, the Court felt the sentences passed by the trial court needs to be revisited. The High Court awarded a sentence of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment to the accused-applicant in light of the above facts.[Mohd. Rizwan v. State, D.B. Criminal Appeal No. 967 of 2017, decided on 29-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Birendra Kumar, J. allowed the application to quash the proceedings against the petitioner as it was an abuse of the process of the Court since no material evidence was found against him.

The petitioner was put to trial, for an offence under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 when an FIR was registered when a  tractor carrying fertilizer was seized.  The tractor was carrying 30 bags of Urea and 6 bags of DAP fertilizer. The driver of the tractor disclosed that for the last two years, they were purchasing fertilizer from the PDS shop of the petitioner.

The counsel for the petitioner, Vikash Sharma submitted that, no other form of evidence was produced to substantiate the involvement of the petitioner in the alleged occurrence. He further contended that neither the premise of the petitioner was searched nor stock register was checked in order to ascertain any lapses in the records and the actuals.

The Court held that the confession of a co-accused while in police custody could not be proven under Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act, 1872. Hence, it could not be treated as evidence at any stage of the proceedings and such criminal prosecution would be an abuse of the process of the court.

In view of the above noted facts, the instant petition was allowed and the impugned order and subsequent proceedings against the petitioner stood quashed.[Jai Prakash Yadav v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1188, decided on 19-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. allowed a criminal revision petition filed by the petitioner-wife against the order of the trial court listing the matter for evidence.

It was an admitted fact that the trial court had earlier heard the arguments on interim maintenance application filed by the petitioner and then listen the matter for orders. The parties were directed to file income affidavits. On a subsequent date, the matter was referred to mediation which was unsuccessful. Thereafter, the trial court listen to the matter for evidence.

Ankit Mutreja, Advocate representing the petitioner, challenged the order of listing the matter for evidence since no order on interim maintenance application was yet passed by the trial court. Per contra, Sheenu Chauhan, Advocate for the respondent-husband, contended that the petitioner was not entitled to grant of any maintenance.

In view of the High Court, it was incumbent upon the trial court to consider the application for grant of interim maintenance, and it should not delay or refuse to decide the application. It was said: “Final adjudication of the maintenance application is dependent upon parties leading evidence and may take some time. If the trial court declines or delays disposal of the application for grant of interim maintenance, it would defeat the very purpose of the enactment.” The Court reiterated that maintenance is granted to a wife/dependant who is unable to maintain herself and if there is delay in disposing of the application for grant of interim maintenance, the wife/dependant would be without any support and would not be able to survive and as such it is necessary that such an application is disposed of at the earliest.

On facts of the present case, the Court held: “The order sheet reveals that arguments had been heard by the trial court on interim maintenance application but the main case was listed for evidence without disposing of the application for interim maintenance. The trial court, as noticed above, should have decided on the plea of grant of interim maintenance with promptitude.” It was also noted that the objections raised by the respondent were pleas on merits of the matter, which were yet to be adjudicated upon by the trial court, and were not relevant for disposal of the present petition.

In such view of the matter, the petition was allowed and the trial court was directed to decide the application seeking interim maintenance within a period of one month from the next date of hearing. [Anu Rani v. Vishwantra Dhama, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 9139, decided on 15-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of S.C. Sharma and Virender Singh, JJ., dismissed the review petition on the ground that no interference was required when there was no error apparent on the face of the record.

A Public Interest Litigation Writ Petition was made by certain persons against the selection in respect of various teaching post which was dismissed by this court on various ground. Thus a review petition was made out of an order passed in a PIL against the certain person being aggrieved by the selection in various teaching post.

T.N. Singh, senior counsel for the petitioner submitted that the matter relating to the appointment was being scrutinised by the Director, Technical Education and, therefore, the judgment delivered by this Court be reviewed.

The Court after referred the judgment of the Supreme Court, relating to the use of the review power of the court which was discussed in the case of Haridas Das v. Usha Rani, (2006) 4 SCC 78 in which it was held that that “a mistake or an error apparent on the face of the record means a mistake or an error which is prima-facie visible and does not require any detail examination” In the present case as petitioner was not able to point out any error apparent on the face of the record, the court decided the case on merit. The court also discussed the scope of interference and limitation of review through the judgment of the Supreme court, Inderchand Jain (dead) v. Motilal, (2009) 14 SCC 663 and held “that re-appreciation of evidence and rehearing of case without there being any error apparent on the face of the record is not permissible in light of provisions as contained under Section 114 and Order 47 Rule 1 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908” Thus, the court dismissed the review petition on the above-mentioned grounds.[Dr Suyog Jhanvar v. Govindram Saksaria Institute of Technology & Science, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 1080, decided on 30-04-2019]

Bail Application
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. dismissed a petition finding no merit in the appeal as when two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial Court.

In the present matter, the appellants alleged that they had found a person carrying a plastic can in his right hand. The person on seeing the police party got perplexed and on suspicion, he was arrested. During his personal search, he was found in conscious and exclusive possession of one plastic can, containing three bottles of illicit liquor. After separating one nip as a sample, both the nips as well as sample were sealed. The prosecution, in order to prove its case, examined as many as six witnesses. Statement of the accused was recorded under Section 313 CrPC, wherein he denied the prosecution case and claimed innocence. Additional Advocates General, Shiv Pal Manhas and P.K Bhatti with Raju Ram Rahi, Deputy Advocate General argued that the prosecution has proved the guilt of the accused beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt.

While H.K.S. Thakur, counsel for the respondent argued that the alleged quantity of three bottles of illicit liquor stated to be recovered from the respondent is a concocted story, as no independent witness was associated by the police. And even the Investigating Officer in his statement has specifically stated that he did not find it appropriate to associate any independent witness.

The Court after considering the facts and circumstances and the arguments advanced found that “when independent witnesses were available on spot the Investigating Officer should have associated them. However, the Investigating Officer simply stated that he does not find it proper to associate independent witnesses. The non joining of the independent prosecution witnesses when they were available, makes the prosecution case doubtful with respect to recovery of three bottles of illicit liquor”. The Court further relied on K. Prakashan v. P.K. Surenderan, (2008) 1 SCC 258 and T. Subramanian v. State of T.N., (2006) 1 SCC 401. Further, it took into consideration the principles culled out in Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka, (2007) 4 SCC 415 that, “If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court” amongst other things.[State of Himachal Pradesh v. Joban Dass, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 646, decided on 21-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: A petition was filed before Dr A.K. Rath, J., challenging the order passed in an Arbitration Proceeding, whereby the application filed by the petitioner-respondent under Section 27 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 to accord approval to the respondent to apply to the court for assistance in taking evidence was rejected.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner had issued notice inviting tender for electrical works for an Alumina Refinery. The bid of the opposite party was accepted. An agreement was entered into between the parties, in furtherance of which the petitioner filed an application under Section 27 of the Act to accord approval of the Tribunal to apply to the Court for assistance in taking evidence of the then Manager (material), who had lodged the claim before the Insurance Company for loss of property by theft. He had expressed his inability to examine in the proceeding unless he received notice from the Tribunal. The Tribunal rejected the petition holding that at an earlier occasion, the examination and non-availability of the concerned witness was not indicated. Despite the opportunity, the affidavit evidence was not filed. Himanshu Sekhar Mishra, Advocate for the opposite party submitted that the petitioner had not assigned any reason as to how the examination of the concerned witness was essential for adjudication of the case and thus the petition should be dismissed.

The Court held that merely because, the petitioner had filed the list of witnesses, the same did not preclude the Arbitral Tribunal to accord approval for taking evidence under Section 27 of the Act if the party assigned sufficient reasons. In the application under Section 27 of the Act, the petitioner had clearly mentioned the reasons for according approval of the Tribunal to apply to the Court for assistance in taking evidence of the concerned witness. The petition was thus allowed. [National Aluminium Company Ltd. v. Indo Power Projects Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Ori 197, decided on 01-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Hitesh Kumar Sarma, J. dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of the family court whereby the petitioner was directed to pay a monthly sum of Rs 2000 each to his wife and child towards their maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

The wife had left petitioner’s home due to alleged torture inflicted upon her and thereafter she filed an application under Section 125 claiming maintenance which was allowed by the family court in the terms above. The petitioner was a Government Servant earning a monthly salary of about Rs 22,000.

The High Court noted that while the wife was staying at her parental house, she was not provided maintenance which amounted to negligence in the sense that the petitioner was bound to maintain the wife and the child, which is a settled legal position. It was also noted that the allegation that the wife was working in a school and earning money could not be established by the petitioner and no specific evidence to that effect was laid by him. It was observed: “In the absence of any specific evidence, it cannot be held that the wife/respondent was earning sufficient amount to maintain herself. That being so, in the absence of any specific evidence as to the income of the respondent/wife, the petitioner/husband is bound to maintain his wife and the child fathered by him.”

In that view of the matter, the Court did not find any reason to interfere with the order of the family court. The revision petition was accordingly dismissed. [Jotirmoy Kalita v. Jonamoni Kalita, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 2245, Order dated 07-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This Jail Appeal was filed before the Division Bench of Sudhir Agarwal and Vivek Varma, JJ., under Section 383 CrPC which prescribed the procedure to be followed when an appellant is in jail.

The facts of the case were such that the appellant was alleged for commission of crime of murder under Section 302 of Penal Code, which the Trial Court found to be proven beyond reasonable doubt and had sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment with six months simple imprisonment for default in payment of fine on the basis of ocular evidence of material witnesses and medical evidence. Hence, this appeal before this Court.

Ravi Chandra Srivastava, learned Amicus Curiae on behalf of the appellant submitted that witnesses of prosecution were interested witness who were in close relationship with the deceased thus were not independent. Further, prosecution had failed to show motive behind the alleged crime in addition to the non-supported ocular version of events by witness. Whereas Rishi Chaddha, learned Additional Government Advocate for State submitted that FIR was corroborated by the medical evidence brought before Court. The instrument used to commit the crime was found with the accused and accused had a strong motive to kill the deceased.

High Court was of the view that the argument advanced by accused that the eye witness’s version of the events cannot be accepted as they were closely in relationship with the deceased i.e. wife, cannot be accepted in view of the evidence presented before the Court. If the evidence provided by eye-witness inspires confidence then the same cannot be discarded on the ground of their relationship with the deceased. Therefore, this appeal was dismissed. [Shishu Pal v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 2112, decided on 19-04-2019]

Bail Application
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: The Bench of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. allowed an appeal challenging the judgment of first appellate court whereby the trial court’s order was set aside without taking the findings of trial court into consideration.

Appellant herein was a defendant in a suit for possession filed by the respondent (plaintiff before trial court), which was dismissed by the trial court. In an appeal by the respondent-plaintiff, the first appellate court set aside the trial court’s order. Aggrieved thereby, the instant regular second appeal was filed. 

The sole issue pertained to the scope, ambit and power of first appellate court while deciding first appeal. It was opined that the right to file first appeal against a decree under Section 96 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 is a valuable legal right of the litigant. The jurisdiction of first appellate court while hearing first appeal is very wide like that of trial court and it is open to the appellant to attack all findings of fact or/and of law in the first appeal. It is the duty of first appellate court to appreciate the entire evidence, and then it may come to a different conclusion. While doing so, the judgment of first appellate court must reflect its conscious application of mind and record findings supported by reasons, on all issues along with the contentions put forth, and pressed by the parties. While reversing a finding of fact, the first appellate court must come into close quarters with the reasoning assigned by the trial court and then assign its own reasons for arriving at a different finding.

The Court noted that in the instant case, the first appellate court had not at all adverted to findings and reasons recorded by the trial court and had simply chosen to write a separate judgment without taking into consideration any of the facts and circumstances that prevailed upon the trial court to dismiss the suit.

In view of the above, the impugned order of the first appellate court was set aside, and the matter was remanded to it for a fresh decision.[Sunder Singh v. Roop Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 550, decided on 26-04-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: The Three-Judge Bench of Vijith K. Malalgoda, M.N.B. Fernando and E.A.G.R. Amarasekara, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the Judgment of the High Court whereby it was held that the Labour Tribunal had failed to correctly analyse the evidence placed before it.

Appellant herein had instituted proceedings before the Labour Tribunal of Galle against the respondent alleging that they had wrongfully and unlawfully terminated his services as Superintendent of a cinnamon plantation called ‘Punchimalakanda’. Respondents denied the employment of the appellant and in an inquiry before the Labour Tribunal, he was granted a compensation of Rs 3,75,000 for wrongful termination. Being aggrieved, respondent appealed to the Provincial High Court of Galle which set aside the findings of Labour Tribunal. Hence, the present appeal. 

The Court opined that it is well settled legal principle that it is not open for an Appellate Court to re-examine and re-appraise evidence analyzed by the Labour Tribunal unless there is a question of law on the face of the record. Further, Section 31 D of the Industrial Dispute Act No. 43 of 1950 states that the order of a Labour Tribunal shall be final and shall not be called in question in any court except on a question of law. Reliance was placed on Ceylon Cinema and Film Studio Employees’ Union v. Liberty Cinema Ltd., 1993 SCC OnLine SL SC 19 where it was held that “it may be possible that the Appellate Court may come to a different finding on facts but the evaluation of the facts is a matter for the tribunal.”

In view of the above, it was opined that the High Court Judge had misdirected himself when it concluded that the President of the Labour Tribunal had failed to give due consideration to evidence placed before him. Thus, the impugned judgment was set aside.[Shanthi Sagara Gunawardena v. Ranjith Kumudusena Gunawardena, SC Appeal 89 of 2016, decided on 02-04- 2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: The Bench of H.C. Mishra and Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, JJ. allowed the appeals while setting aside the judgment of conviction and order of sentence convicting and sentencing the appellants.

In the pertinent case, the dispute was over land and its illegal possession wherein the accused were held guilty of murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code and the Trial Court even sentenced the accused accordingly. The Court was approached because there were discrepancies in the FIR and the statements provided by the prosecution witnesses, where they first stated that the occurrence had taken place in the hut and they could not see which accused was armed with what weapon. Subsequently, in evidence, the place was changed to the land in question and improvements were made on the details as to which accused was armed with what weapon and the person who assaulted. Also, the Investigation Officer (IO) was not examined because of which the necessary implications could not be taken from the IO. Even the Doctor conducting the post-mortem examination was not examined in the case.

The Court in the interest of justice looked into the case diary with the help of the learned senior counsel, Mr V.P. Singh, where it became apparent that the non-examination of the IO has vitally prejudiced the defence in the case and even the place of occurrence has not been properly proved in the case. The Court further believed that, the benefit of doubt should be extended to the appellants in the absence of the evidence of the IO and the Doctor. Therefore, the Court set aside the conviction and sentence ordered by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge and discharged the appellants from their respective liabilities.[Manik Singh v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 244, Order dated 11-03-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Justice V.K. Jain (Presiding Member) set aside the order of District Forum and State Commission and set aside their orders holding a national bank liable for returning educational certificates of the complainant.

Respondent herein had taken a loan from the petitioner bank under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) Scheme in 1984. He stated that he had deposited his educational certificates with the bank on the assurance that after repayment of the loan, the said documents would be returned to him. After repayment of the loan, respondent approached the bank for return of his original documents; but the same were not returned to him. Being aggrieved, he approached District Forum by way of a consumer complaint. District Forum allowed the complaint, and the bank’s appeal against the said order was dismissed. Thus, the bank approached filed the instant revision petition.

The Commission noted that no documentary proof of the alleged deposit had been filed by the respondent. Petitioner, being a nationalized bank and respondent being an educated person, it was difficult to accept that he deposited such important documents with the bank, without even taking an acknowledgment from it. Moreover, no evidence had been led by the respondent to prove that the submission of such documents was necessary under rules of the bank or PMRY Scheme.

In the absence of any evidence, it was opined that the view taken by the fora was perverse, and therefore the impugned orders could not be sustained.[Allahabad Bank v. Subhash Kumar Mittal, 2019 SCC OnLine NCDRC 25, Order dated 01-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Prabhat Kumar Jha, J. dismissed a petition filed against an order allowing production of additional documents.

Petitioner herein filed an eviction suit against one Rajendra Mistri, which was decreed in his favour. Respondents herein (who are widow and sons of Rajendra Mistri) filed an appeal against the said decree along with an application under Order 41 Rule 27 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for bringing additional documents on record. The said application was allowed by the learned District Judge. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed.

The Court noted that respondents were not aware of the pendency of the eviction suit filed by the petitioner. Rajendra Mistri, who was contesting the suit, became traceless in the middle of hearing, and the suit was decided without allowing the defendant to produce any documentary evidence as the fact of him being traceless could not be brought to the knowledge of the court. When the suit was decreed, his legal heirs got knowledge about this fact and filed an appeal along with a petition stating that they had no knowledge about the pendency of the suit. They also filed an application for adducing additional documents which had a bearing on merits of the case. On consideration of these facts, the learned District Judge allowed their petition for adducing additional evidence

Order 41 Rule 27(1)(b) of CPC clearly envisages that party seeking to produce additional evidence, must establish that notwithstanding the exercise of due diligence, such evidence was not within his knowledge or could not, after the exercise of due diligence, be produced by him at the time when the decree appealed against was passed. It was held that respondents’ case clearly fell within the purview of said provision and thus there was no infirmity in the impugned order.[Vijay Kumar Singh v. Soni Kuer, 2018 SCC OnLine Pat 2292, Order dated 06-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Karuna Nand Bajpayee and Ifaqat Ali Khan, JJ. dismissed a petition seeking quashing of a First Information Report filed against the petitioner for offences committed under Sections 148, 307, 353 and 504 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Section 7 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The Court observed that grounds for quashing of FIR are well-settled, and thus in such cases court must refrain itself from embarking upon a roving enquiry into details of the case. It was noted that all the contentions raised by the petitioner’s counsel related to the determination of disputed questions of fact which may be adequately discerned either through proper investigation or adjudicated by the trial court. The ambit of an investigation into the alleged offence is an independent area of operation and does not call for interference except in rarest of rare cases. Relying on Ajit Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2006 SCC OnLine All 1409 it was opined that operational liberty to collect sufficient material, if any, cannot be scuttled prematurely by any uncalled for overstepping of the Court. 

The Court held that perusal of the case records, prima facie, made out the offence alleged and there appeared to be sufficient ground for investigation in the case. In view thereof, prayer for quashing FIR was refused. However, it was directed that the petitioner shall not be arrested unless credible evidence against him is collected by the Investigating Officer.[Umar Mohd. v. State of U.P, Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. 330 of 2019, Order dated 08-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Bench of S.G. Shah, J. partly allowed an appeal which confirmed the conviction of the appellants but reduced the sentence.

In the present case the Sessions Court had convicted the appellants for abetment of suicide and subjecting the victim to cruelty respectively, in different appeals. The deceased had succumbed to the pressure from her in-laws and husband, as alleged in the petition, which was later challenged by the appellants.

The Court while not agreeing fully with the impugned judgment in appreciation of evidence, partly allowed the appeal where the conviction of the appellants was confirmed but the sentence was reduced to the period for which they have already undergone judicial custody, pending trial and appeal. Moreover, the Court also held that when it is possible to take a different view from the same set of evidence and offense, the benefit of doubt can be extended.[Bharatbhai Jamnadas Ramavat v. State of Gujarat, 2018 SCC OnLine Guj 3059, Order dated 05-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. without expressing any opinion on merits of the case, directed the trial court to relook at the evidence in order to ascertain whether any ground is made out under Section 319 CrPC to summon any person other than the accused.

Petitioner (accused) had filed an application under Section 319 which gives power to the trial court to proceed against any other person appearing to be guilty of offence. Application was for proceeding against one Ranbir Khatri, Suman, Sahab Singh and Balwan Singh. Petitioner was represented by K. Singhal and Shilpa Goel, Advocates who contended that there was sufficient evidence available on record to show that these persons had committed the offence in the present case. Several submissions were made to show that they were liable to be summoned in the case. Furthermore, it was submitted that the petitioner was innocent and had been falsely implicated. However, the trial court rejected petitioner’s application. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the present revision petition.

The High Court noted that the impugned order was very cryptic and did not advert to any of the allegations raised or submissions made by the petitioner. Notice was also taken of the fact that prosecution as well as defence evidence was over and matter was at final stage of hearing before the trial court. In High Court’s opinion there was need to relook at evidence by the trial court as mentioned above. Therefore, the impugned order was set aside and the matter was remitted back to the trial court. [Pardeep Kumar v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6497, dated 14-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of S.C. Gupte, J. while addressing an arbitration petition challenging the award passed by a sole arbitrator, noted the points of evidence asserted by the sole arbitrator and dismissed the petition.

In the present petition, the crux of the issue involved an agreement for manufacturing of the petitioner’s liquor products. The particular agreement was between the petitioner (who was the respondent to the reference) and the respondent (who was the claimant before the arbitral forum) inter alia engaging services of respondent for manufacture, on a priority basis of various liquor products of the petitioner in the State of Maharashtra.

Respondent stated in his points of contentions that in a meeting held between the representatives of the parties, it was agreed that bottling charges would be increased by Rs 10 per case. Claimant had sent out an e-mail with a letter requesting the petitioner to confirm the minutes of the meeting held for which no response from the petitioner was received. Further, it was stated that though respondent did not receive any written communication from the petitioner, respondent, with consent from the petitioner, went on adjusting from jointly operated account payments towards bottling charges at the rate of Rs 40 per case.

Petitioner in his behalf placed that, a sum of Rs 40,46,165.87 was due and payable by the petitioner to the respondent after the payments adjusted. Further, for the said amount, it was agreed between the petitioner and the respondent that the petitioner would pay the same in four installments which never got fulfilled.

A legal notice was sent to the petitioner regarding the above stated and thereafter present reference was filed.

Learned sole arbitrator while giving its award held that the petitioner had failed to pay the agreed amount and as a result, awarded a sum of Rs 64,08,685.82, comprising of the principal amount as stated above along with interest. The said award has been challenged under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

While concluding the decision, the bench stated that the oral agreement was consistently acted upon by the parties for a long period of time. “Whatever view the Court may take of an oral modification clause generally or in the particular case we are concerned with, the mandate of challenge to the court under Section 34 of the Act is to see whether the view taken by the arbitrator, even if it be on a question of law or its application to the facts of the case, is a possible view or view which a fair and judiciously minded person could well take.” Therefore, the view taken by the arbitrator could well be said to be a possible view and supported by evidence. The view must pass muster under Section 34 of the Act.

Thus, the challenge to the impugned award had no merit and the petition was accordingly dismissed. [John Distilleries (P) Ltd. v. Brihan Maharashtra Sugar Syndicate Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 67, dated 14-01-2019]