Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: In the high-voltage political drama that has reached the highest Court of the nation, the 3-judge bench of Dr. AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, JJ has asked newly sworn-in Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to take a floor test at 4PM tomorrow to prove his majority. Justice Sikri said:

“Better to hold floor test on Saturday so that nobody gets any time.”

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for BJP, argued that BJP was confident that it will get the majority & might even get the support from few Congress and JDS MLAs. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Congress-JD(S), said “BJP is just saying they have the majority without any specific number and names whereas we had given the names and numbers, how could Governor had invited Yeddyurappa to form the Government.”

Stating that floor test is the best option in the given situation, the Court said that the larger question of law on how should Governor invite a person to form the Govt can be settled here later.

Justice Sikri said:

“It’s just the number game, who enjoys the majority should be invited to form the Government.”

The Court, hence, ordered the appointment of a pro tem speaker and also stayed the nomination of any Anglo Indian MLA before the floor test.

Source: twitter.com/arvindgunasekar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The present case being decided for a petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, for issuance of writ of ‘Habeas Corpus’, addressed by a bench comprising of Abhilasha Kumari and B.N. Karia, JJ.

The petition was filed by the ‘mother of the corpus’ with a prayer to issue directions to the respondents to produce her daughter before the Court, with the allegations that her daughter was illegally abducted and confined by the respondent with the aid of his brother and father, and also the petitioner was threatened to pay a ransom of Rs 5,00,000, failing which the respondent warned to sell her daughter.

Upon an advance copy of the petition being served, the police traced the corpus and the respondent and presented them before the Court, and the presiding Judge spoke to the ‘Corpus’ and the respondent in his chambers, where both of them did agree that the Corpus was not illegally abducted, and that she had voluntarily left her mother’s house as she was in love with the respondent and that their parents, of both the sides, were not ready to accept their marriage. Hence, since then, they have been in a live-in relationship. Also, both (the Corpus and the respondent) denied making any telephone calls to the petitioner for the alleged demand of ransom money.

After proper investigation, the Court observed that such averments of telephone call were introduced in the court to give more serious color to the matter. The Court  held that since both (the corpus and the respondent) are adults and want to live together, it had no other option but to permit the corpus and the respondent to leave and live together. Accordingly, the Court disposed of the petition. [Ishmatara Sharafathussain Shaikh v. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCC OnLine Guj 1409, decided on 04.12.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The High Court recently addressed a petition wherein the petitioner argued that despite her having attained the age of majority and marrying the 2nd petitioner out of her own free will without any undue coercion, the respondents were harassing her with the help of the Police along with wrongfully framing them in false cases.

The Court referred to Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475  which held that if a woman has attained the age of majority, she is free to marry whoever she wants to provided that person has attained the age of majority as well. It clarified, “There is no bar to an inter-caste marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act or any other law. The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system”. It was further held in this case, “In our opinion, such acts of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be severely punished”. Thus, the Court directed the Police to take appropriate steps to ensure the protection and liberty of the petitioners. [Zubida Akhter v. State of Jammu and Kashmir,  2017 SCC OnLine J&K 712, order dated 15.11.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the appellant was accused to have caused the deaths of his wife and five daughters, the Court, by a 2:1 majority, acquitted the appellant due to lack of evidence against him.

The crucial points that were before the Court for consideration are as follows:

  • The house in question which opened in a gali was bolted from inside on the fateful night.
  • The appellant was found lying unconscious in a room where there were five dead bodies with another dead body in the adjoining room.
  • A knife, which could possibly have caused injuries to the deceased, was lying next to his left hand.
  • He had offered no explanation how the incident had occurred and as such a presumption could be drawn against him under Section 106 of the Evidence Act.

U.U. Lalit abd Ranjan Gogoi, JJ, who gave the majority view, said that the prosecution did not place on record the material indicating what made him unconscious; what was the probable period of such unconsciousness and whether the appellant was falsely projecting it. Hence, the explanation that he knew nothing as he was unconscious cannot be called, ‘absence of explanation’ or ‘false explanation’. Further, regarding the bolted door of the house, it was said that though the door of the house which opened in the gali was stated to have been bolted from inside, the rooms were not locked and the possibility of a person/persons other than the inmates of the house getting into the house cannot be ruled out. Also, the prosecution did not gather the finger prints either in the house or even on the iron knife which was allegedly used for committing the offence in question. If the finger prints on the knife were to be that of the appellant alone, such factor could certainly have weighed against the appellant.

The acquittal of the appellant was based on the reasoning that the circumstances mentioned above do not form a complete chain of evidence and that the law regarding appreciation of cases based on circumstantial evidence is clear that the chain of evidence must be so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved namely the guilt of the accused.

However, as per P.C. Pant, J, the prosecution had not failed to prove the case. He considered the fact that the mother of the appellant, who was present in the house at the time of the commission of the offence, had said that her son had killed the other members of her family and the same was corroborated by the neighbours. Regarding the fact that the appellant’s mother turned hostile, the judge said that the reason as to why she has turned hostile is not difficult to be found out as she was going to lose the only son left with her. Also, the wife of the appellant had, on an earlier occasion, mentioned it before one of the witnesses that the accused used to complain that his family has become large with daughters only which makes it clear that the appellant had the motive for committing murder.

He also added that normally, it is not the duty of the accused to explain how the crime has been committed. But in the matters of unnatural death inside the house where the accused had his presence, non-disclosure on his part as to how the other members of his family died, is an important reason to believe as to what has been shown by the prosecution through the evidence on record is true. Simple reply by the accused in his statement under Section 313 CrPC that he did not know as to how the incident happened, particularly when he was in the house, does certainly make easier to believe the truthfulness of the evidence that has been adduced by the prosecution in support of charge against him. He, hence, said that considering all the facts, circumstances and the established principle of law laid down by this Court, in the present case, sentence of imprisonment for life would meet the ends of justice. [Dhal Singh Dewangan v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 983, decided on 23.09.2016]