Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This writ petition was filed before the Bench of G.S. Sandhawalia, J., against the award passed by the Arbitrator under the Railway (Amendment) Act, 2008, whereby the market value had been fixed for the land acquired for the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project.

The dispute was with regard to the Arbitrator’s action where he modified the initial award passed to enhance the compensation. Thus, landowners approached this Court for further enhancement of the compensation. Respondent contended that the arbitral award should have been challenged under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which is a statutory remedy available with petitioner.

High Court was of the view that the landowners who approached Court were similarly situated to landowners who had already approached the District Judge. The only feasible argument for the landowners was to point out the delay caused and difficulty in filing objections under Section 34 of the Act. Court opined that Section 14 of the Limitation Act should also be considered. Case of Narendra Singh v. State of U.P., 2017 (9) SCC 426 was referred to where with respect to Section 28-A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 Court had held that it was not an adversarial form of adjudication and fair compensation was to be determined for all landowners whose land was taken away by the same notification. Thus, landowner’s apprehension was without any basis; therefore, this petition was dismissed. [Satbir v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 132, decided on 13-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Bench of Dama Seshadri Naidu J. hearing a civil writ petition filed by a vehicle dealer granted an interim stay on the levy of Goods and Services Tax on the amount collected by vehicle dealers from purchasers.

Petitioner, a motor vehicle dealer, challenged the applicability of Section 15(2) of the GST Act, 2017 which mandates that the value of supply should include any taxes, duties, cesses, fees and charges levied under any other law in force. His contention was that the amount of 1% that the dealer of motor vehicle collects from the purchaser of a car worth more than ten lakhs (which is the tax collected at source), under Section 206C (1F) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 cannot be treated as an integral part of the value of the goods and services supplied by the petitioner. This is so because the dealer of the motor vehicle, acts only as an agent for the State to collect income tax under Section 206C(1F) of the IT Act and that amount eventually goes to the vehicle purchaser’s credit.

The Court concluded that the petitioner had raised a prima facie issue which needed Court’s attention and further and deeper adjudication. In view thereof, it directed the tax authorities to not act on the clarification at serial no. 5 of the notification issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs till the disposal of the instant petition.[PSN Automobiles (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, WP (C) No. 680 of 2019, order dated 17-01-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

“When in the name of preservation of tradition these jirgas/panchayats assume the powers of a pillar of the State, i.e. the judiciary, they threaten the very foundations of the rule of law. What these bodies in effect preserve is the unfair social constructs in the rural areas where the word and arbitrary decisions of the elites, waderas, chaudhries, and persons of influence are treated as law and imposed upon the socially and financially weaker parties.”

Supreme Court of Pakistan: The Division Bench of Mian Saqib Nisar, HCJ and Ijaz Ul Ahsan, J. hearing a petition filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 challenging the legality of operation of jirgas/ panchayats as adjudicatory bodies, held the same to be illegal.

‘Council of elders’ or ‘kangaroo courts’ exist in some tribal areas of Pakistan, particularly in north Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and in some rural areas of KPK, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.

The Court noted perused the research report prepared by petitioner titled “Women, Violence and Jirgas – Consensus and Impunity in Pakistan” and opined that jirgas violate fundamental rights of citizens as they apply their own customary/tribal/feudal procedure in taking decisions. Customarily negligible representation of women before such councils violates Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Reliance was placed on Shazia v. Station House Officer, PCrLJ 2004 Karachi 1523 where it was held that operation of kangaroo court/council of elders violates principles of natural justice, due process and fair trial as it does not follow any procedure and operates as a parallel judicial system, thus usurping powers of Court.

The Court also noted the rulings of Supreme Court of India in Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2011) 6 SCC 405 and Shakti Vahini v. Union of India, (2018) 7 SCC 192 wherein khap panchayats were declared illegal; and preventative, remedial and punitive measures were introduced to eradicate any khap panchayat ordering honour killings. The Court observed that just like India, Pakistan must also take stringent and immediate action to eradicate the menace of jirgas/panchayats to the extent that they assume power to adjudicate criminal or civil disputes without following any law.

In view of the above, it was held and clarified that it is not the term ‘panchayat’ or ‘jirga’ which is illegal but the act of them posing as courts and usurping the powers of a court of law which is illegal. [National Commission on Status of Women v. Government of Pakistan, Constitution Petition No. 24 of 2012, dated 16-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rajeev Misra, J., dealt with this petition which was filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India where a summoning order under Sections 323, 504, 379, 427 and 452 IPC, criminal revision petition and any proceedings arising out of them were prayed to be quashed.

Petitioner had made contentions on factual basis pleading that he had been falsely implicated. Various cases were referred before the Court which elucidated in length the legal aspects evolved with regard to matters where proceedings can be quashed. Cases, where allegations made against accused or investigation was done by investigating officer, do not show any offence committed by accused or the allegations seems absurd, or extremely improbable, or where prosecution is legally barred, or the criminal proceeding is found to be made maliciously with motive of grudge can be quashed.

The Court observed that as per the submissions of petitioner, adjudication was required on the question of facts and even the question of law coming therein can be adjudicated by the trial court itself. Court found no reason to quash the summoning order, complaint or any other proceedings arising out of them. Therefore, the writ petition was dismissed. [Vivek Kumar v. State of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine All 1166, order dated 23-08-2018]