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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The order of acquittal of accused persons passed by the trial court was upheld in an appeal by a Division Bench comprising of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Ram Prasanna Sharma, JJ.

The accused persons were tried for offences punishable under Sections 148 and 341, 294, 323, 307, 506 (2) all read with Section 149 IPC. During investigation, the injured persons were sent for medical examination and it was found that injuries sustained by them were only simple injuries. The statement of witnesses did not support each other. From the records it could be only said that some incident appeared to have taken place on issue of giving side to the truck or wrong parking of the truck.

The High Court considered the record in detail and was of the view that it was not a case where the accused persons formed unlawful assembly to achieve the common object with intention to committing the crime. And since the accused persons did not form any unlawful assembly, each of them was responsible for his own act. However, from the evidence it was not clear as to which accused had caused which particular injury to the injured persons. The Court found the story of the prosecution to be an exaggeration of facts. The Court held that in such circumstances and lack of clarity in evidence as to acts attributable to accused persons, the trial court was right in acquitting the accused persons of the charges framed. The Court held that the evidence was not clear so as to record a finding of guilt against the accused persons.

Accordingly, the acquittal appeal filed by the State was dismissed and the order of acquittal of the accused persons passed by the trial court was upheld. [State of Chhattisgarh v. Gurudeep,  2018 SCC OnLine Chh 271, decided on 13.03.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Chander Bhusan Barowalia, JJ., dismissed a criminal appeal filed by the State against the judgment of acquittal of the accused persons passed by the trial court, holding that the statement of the prosecutrix did not inspire confidence.

The accused persons were acquitted by the trial court, of offences punishable under Section 376(ii)(g) read with Section 34 IPC. Learned Additional Advocate General argued that the evidence of prosecution was clear to prove the guilt of the accused persons beyond shadow of doubt but the trial court ignored the evidence. Per contra, learned counsel for the accused persons submitted that the trial court’s decision was fully justified and need no interference.

The High Court perused the record and found that the medical examination report did not support the case of the prosecution. The statement of the prosecutrix regarding injuries sustained during the alleged sexual assault did not find support from the medical examination report. Further, the said report stated that there was nothing suggestive of a recent vaginal penetration. No sign of struggle on the body of the prosecutrix were found. Also the statement of other witnesses did not support prosecution’s case. The Court was of the view that the accused persons could not be convicted on the sole uncorroborated testimony of the prosecutrix. Entire prosecution evidence was in contrast to the deposition made by the prosecutrix; even the scientific evidence was not in consonance with her testimony. The Court was of the view that the testimony of the prosecutrix did not inspire confidence and was not reliable.

In light of above facts and circumstances, the Court dismissed the appeal and upheld decision of the trial court acquitting the accused persons. [State of H.P. v. Ranvir Kumar, 2018 SCC OnLine HP 251, decided on 16.3.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jharkhand: The Division Bench comprising of H.C. Mishra and B.B. Mangalmurti, JJ., recently heard an appeal against the acquittal of the respondent who had been accused under Sections 364 and 34 of the Penal Code.

The appellant’s son had been taken forcibly by the respondents owing to certain prevailing land disputes between the two parties. The appellants had alleged that the respondents had broken into their house by breaking through the thatched roof and kidnapped the son which after examining the evidence on record, was found to be untrue by the Trial Court and hence, the accused was acquitted of the charges framed against him.

The Court observed that the victim himself had testified that he had been forcibly taken away from his house for 20-21 days and eventually brought near the Deoghar Court and left by the accused. It noted that Section 364 of the Penal code mandates the intention of murdering the victim or putting him in the danger of being murdered, for the offence to be labeled as kidnapping under the impugned section. Since, the evidence showed that the victim had been left near the Deoghar Court after a few days, it was obvious that no intention to kill had been present in the minds of the accused and hence, offence under Section 364 Penal Code, couldn’t be made out. Thus, the appeal was dismissed. [Kamruddin Sheikh v. State of Jharkhand, 2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 123, order dated 26.2.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ravi Malimath and Dr. H.B. Prabhakara Sastry, JJ., decided a criminal appeal filed under Section 374 (2) CrPC, wherein the judgment of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court against the petitioner was set aside in the light of material discrepancies in the evidence led on behalf of the prosecution.

The petitioner was accused in a criminal case registered under Sections 302 and 201 IPC. The complaint was filed by the father of the deceased wherein it was alleged that the accused- his neighbor, took the deceased with him on the pretext of finding him a job. However, on reaching a certain spot near a canal- the crime scene, the accused pushed the deceased in the canal thus committing murder of the deceased. The prosecution led evidence and examined as many as 22 witnesses. It was submitted that the motive behind the alleged offence was the enmity between both the families. It was also alleged that during investigation, a button of a shirt was recovered at the instance of the accused from the crime scene which was alleged to be that of the deceased. Based on such evidence and submissions, the trial court convicted the accused and passed the sentence accordingly. Aggrieved thus, the accused filed the instant petition.

The High Court perused the entire evidence on record and found that the evidence led on every point, on which conviction of the accused was based; was full of discrepancies. There was no consistency in the statement of witnesses and the unbroken chain of evidence necessary to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt was missing. The Court was of the view that the findings made by the trial court were not based on proper appreciation of evidence and were perverse. The only fact of alleged recovery of the shirt button was not sufficient to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In the facts and circumstances of the case, benefit of doubt ought to have been given to the accused.

Accordingly, the order of the trial court convicting and sentencing the accused-petitioner was set aside and the petitioner was acquitted of the alleged charges. [Kumara alias Puttabasappa v. State of Karnataka, Crl. Appeal No. 911 of 2012, dated 17.2.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The order of acquittal passed by the trial court in favor of the accused was upheld by a Single Judge Bench comprising of R.P. Dholaria, J., wherein it was held that in order to prove a case of demand of illegal gratification, the prosecution must adduce clinching evidence.

The respondent Taluka Surveyor, was accused of demanding illegal gratification from the complainant for measuring his land. He was accordingly prosecuted. However, on appreciation of evidence the trial court was of the view that the guilt of the respondent was not proved by the prosecution; and the trial Court acquitted the respondent. Aggrieved thus, the State filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the evidence adduced by the prosecution and also discussed the law on the subject; and was of the view that to prove the vital ingredients i.e. demand, acceptance and recovery, the evidence of crucial witnesses i.e. complainant, panchas and independent witness is worth to be appreciated. However, such evidence did not support the prosecution case. The demand of illegal gratification has to be proved by adducing clinching evidence. The prosecution in the present case failed to do so; and thus, the order of the trial court acquitting the respondent could not be faulted with. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed. [State of Gujarat v. Amratbhai Zinabhai Chapaneria, 2018 SCC OnLine Guj 228, dated 16-02-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: An appeal against the order of acquittal filed by the State was decided by a Division Bench comprising of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Ram Prasanna Sharma, JJ., wherein acquittal of the respondents as ordered by the Sessions Judge was upheld.

The respondents were accused in a criminal case under Section 302 read with Section 32  IPC for the murder of one Tushkumar and his wife. The prosecution while trying to prove its case submitted that the relation between the respondents and the deceased were strained and they had threatened to kill him; corroborative piece of seizure of deadly weapons from the respondents was an incriminating circumstance against them. However, the trial court acquitted the respondents of the charges above-mentioned. Aggrieved thus, the State filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and found that there was no eyewitness to the incident; the case of the prosecution was based on circumstantial evidence. And even the chain of circumstances was not unbroken so as to link the respondents with the crime. The statements of prosecution witness at best created suspicion against the respondents. The case of the prosecution was entirely based on suspicion. The Court observed that however strong the suspicion may be, it can not take place of proof. The High Court was of the opinion that the view taken by the trial court was correct and did not warrant interference. The appeal filed by the State was accordingly dismissed. [State of Chhattisgarh v. Nabbu @ Bafataddin, ACQA No. 137 of 2010, order dated 13-02-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jharkhand: The Single Judge Bench comprising of Chandrashekhar, J., recently dealt with a bail petition wherein he held that if the prosecution has already examined a substantial number of witnesses, a comment on the worth of the witnesses will be improper.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner had been accused of committing offences under certain sections of the Penal Code, 1860 and hence, he applied for the granting of either anticipatory bail or bail since it had been granted to similarly situated persons. The counsel for the petitioner argued that since the co-accused had been granted bail, on the point of parity, the petitioner is also entitled to bail. he further contended that conviction on the basis of last seen together is a weak piece of evidence and hence, on that basis alone, the petitioner cannot be convicted. The prosecution side contended that the petitioner’s case was different from the co-accused since he was the sole person who was responsible for the kidnapping of the deceased consequent to which he was found dead. Witnesses have asserted the presence of the petitioner at the crime scene and he was the only one whose name was registered in the FIR.

Hence, the Court dismissed the petition and accordingly, no bail was granted to the petitioner. [Ramadhar Singh @ Ramadhar Sah v. State of Jharkhand, 2017 SCC OnLine Jhar 2669 , order dated 18.8.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Murlidhar and I.S. Mehta JJ., set aside the conviction and sentence of the petitioners convicted under Section 302/24 of the IPC. The matter lay before the High Court via an appeal against the judgment and order of the learned Addl. Sessions Judge whereby the petitioners were condemned to life imprisonment along with fine of Rs. 5000 each.

The accused were allegedly seen drinking with the deceased by the deceased’s brother (PW 15) on the intervening night between 10th and 11th June 1999. The following morning, the deceased’s body was found lying atop a rickshaw along with a blood-smeared knife not far from the body along with a chappal. The post-mortem report conclusively pointed towards homicide with a sharp weapon which could be the knife collected from the crime scene.

The learned Addl. Sessions Judge had passed the conviction on the basis of circumstantial evidence forming a complete chain of events by which the guilt of the accused could not be denied. However, the court found material discrepancies in the testimony of the PW 15. First off, PW 15, being an interested witness had to examined carefully. He had talked about a “Chander ki Garage”, where allegedly the deceased had been drinking with the accused, which was not visited or enquired about by the IO. The recorded statement of PW 15 also gave the impression that his statement was recorded after the dead body had already been found as PW 15 states to have started looking for the accused instead of his brother in the morning. Barring the shaky testimony of PW 15 there was also no other proof showing that there was previous enmity between the accused and the deceased, hence removing motive from the equation. The Court stated that though the evidence of ‘last seen’ may evoke suspicion, it does not, in the surrounding circumstances attain the status of proof. Petition allowed. [Chhatar Pal v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 6678, decided on 18.01.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jammu and Kashmir: The Bench of Alok Aradhe J. recently addressed a revision petition wherein the petitioner challenged the decision of the trial court in allowing the application preferred by the respondent under Order 9 Rule 13 CPC.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner had filed a petition under Section 13 of the J&K Hindu Marriage seeking dissolution of marriage following which the respondent filed an application for transferring the proceeding to the Court of the Principal District Judge which was allowed and the parties had been directed to be present at the said Court on 20/10/2011. Further on, the petition was heard with the respondent proceeding ex parte subsequent to which an ex parte decree was passed. The petitioner had informed the army authorities about the dissolution of the marriage and the army authorities then went on to intimate the respondent about the decree of dissolution. Consequently the respondent had applied for extension of time in filing the application for setting aside the ex parte decree belatedly which was allowed by the trial court.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the Court should have appreciated the fact that the order for transferring the case was passed in the presence of both parties and that both parties had been directed to present themselves before the said Court on 20/10/2011. The counsel also contended that despite the authorities having informed the respondent about the dissolution, it took the respondent a period of 1 year to file an application seeking extension of time for filing the application. The last contention by the counsel for the petitioner was that the petitioner was not given any opportunity to file a reply or adduce any evidence in the proceeding under Order 9 Rule 13 CPC.

The counsel for the respondent on the other hand contended that the respondent had supported the order of the trial court and that the application seeking condonation of delay as well as the proceeding under Order 9 Rule 13 had been clubbed together and evidence had been recorded jointly in both the proceedings as was allowed in Manjeet Singh v. Manjeet Kour , 2001 SLJ 439 and in Darshana Devi v. Bodh Raj, 2014 (2) JKJ 585 [HC].

The Court held that the trial court should have first decided the application under Order 9 Rule 13 CPC and subsequently proceeded to deciding the application by recording the evidence separately. The Court held that severe injustice had been done to the petitioner by clubbing both the proceedings and recording the evidence. The Court agreed that the petitioner should have been allowed to lead evidence in the main proceeding which was initiated by the respondent and hence, suffered from an error apparent on the face of the record. The impugned order also suffered from jurisdictional infirmity which couldn’t be sustained in the eyes of the law. Hence, the impugned order was quashed. [Harjeet Singh v. Taranjeet Kour,  2017 SCC OnLine J&K 746, order dated 18.12.2017]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal: In the judgment delivered by S.J. Mukhopadhaya (Chairperson), AIS Cheema (Judicial Member) and Balvinder Singh (Technical Member) dismissing the appeal against the impugned order of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) dated 8-2-2017. Mr. Subodh Kumar Sharma, the appellant had filed a complaint against Gateway Terminals India Pvt Ltd (Respondent 2) and Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd. (Respondent 3) for contravention of sub-section 3(4) and Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 and contending that the respondents having a major market share for providing container terminal services were deliberately diverting traffic of ships to Papavav ports for commercial advantages.

The Tribunal held the observations of CCI, that ‘the market share of the first respondent has been declining and such decline does not make it to be in a dominant position’, to be correct. There were thirty three other container freight station which were acting as a competitive constraint for the respondent The appellants however failed to prove that the respondent blocked the terminals at Jawahar Lal Nehru Ports forcing ships to dock at Papavav and the Tribunal further held that the mere reliance on paper book is not enough to invoke the Act for the same.

No substance was found by this Tribunal in the submissions of the appellant thus no interference in the impugned order was made. The appeal was dismissed with costs quantified at Rs 1 Lakh to be equally divided and paid by appellant to Respondents 2 and 3. [Subodh Kumar Sharma v. Competition Commission of India, Competition Appeal (AT) No. 04 of 2017, order dated 5-12-2017]