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5 Important Supreme Court Judgments Pronounced Today [Wednesday, November 28, 2018]

1. Ashwani Kumar v. State of Punjab Home Department

Penal Code, 1860 – Ss. 302 r/w. 34 - Murder - Plea of Alibi - Concurrent Findings - Murdered lady was the wife of the first accused - Second accused claimed that she was innocent and was not present at the time of the alleged occurrence - She has not discharged her burden to show that she was elsewhere - On the other hand, there is evidence of the police officials that after committing the crime, both accused came out and proclaimed that they have accomplished what they wanted - There is no motive for the police officials to falsely implicate the accused - No reason to interfere - Appeal dismissed.

View Judgment :
Case Number : Crl.A. No. 580 of 2010 28-11-2018
Petitioner's Advocate : S.C. Patel
Bench : Hon'ble The Chief Justice, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. M. Joseph
Judgment By : Hon'ble Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph

2. Union of India v. Nareshkumar Badrikumar Jagad

Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Act, 1995 - Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Laws (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2014 - As per the amended Section 3 of the 1995 Act w.e.f. 1st April, 1994, by operation of law the statutory or protected tenancy rights of Podar Mills Ltd. in respect of the suit property stood transferred to and vested in the Central Government and it continues to so vest in it and that the decree against NTC including the undertaking given by NTC has been rendered unenforceable by a legal fiction. As a result, the Trust being the landlord is obliged to take recourse to remedy against the Central Government (Union of India) to get back possession of the suit property, as per the dispensation specified in the concerned Rent Legislation, if it so desires. It is open to the respondents (Trust) to challenge the validity of the Validation Act 2014, if they so desire.

Petitioner's Advocate : Shreekant N. Terdal
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice A. M. Khanwilkar, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Ajay Rastogi
Judgment By : Hon'ble Mr. Justice A. M. Khanwilkar

3. Sunkara Lakshminarasamma (dead) By Lrs v. Sagi Subba Raju & Ors. Etc.

Civil Procedure Code, 1908 - Order 22 Rule 4 - Procedure in case of death of one of several defendants or of sole defendant - the Court cannot be called upon to make two inconsistent decrees about the same subject matter. In order to avoid conflicting decrees, the Court has no alternative but to dismiss the appeals in their entirety.

Order 22 Rule 4, CPC lays down that where within the time limited by law, no application is made to implead the legal representatives of a deceased defendant, the suit shall abate as against a deceased defendant. This rule does not provide that by the omission to implead the legal representative of a defendant, the suit will abate as a whole. If the interests of the codefendants are separate, as in the case of co­owners, the suit will abate only as regards the particular interest of the deceased party. In such a situation, the question of the abatement of the appeal in its entirety that has arisen in this case depends upon general principles. If the case is of such a nature that the absence of the legal representatives of the deceased respondent prevents the court from hearing the appeal as against the other respondents, then the appeal abates in toto. Otherwise, the abatement takes place only in respect of the interest of the respondent who has died. The test often adopted in such cases is whether in the event of the appeal being allowed as against the remaining respondents there would or would not be two contradictory decrees in the same suit with respect to the same subject matter. The court cannot be called upon to make two inconsistent decrees about the same property, and in order to avoid conflicting decrees the court has no alternative but to dismiss the appeal as a whole. If on the other hand, the success of the appeal would not lead to conflicting decrees, then there is no valid reason why the court should not hear the appeal and adjudicate upon the dispute between the parties. In the matter on hand, the absence of certain defendants who have been deleted from the array of parties along with the absence of legal representatives of a number of deceased defendants will prevent the court from hearing the appeals as against the other defendants. We say so because in the event of these appeals being allowed as against the remaining defendants, there would be two contradictory decrees in the same suit in respect of the same subject matter. One decree would be in favour of the defendants who are deleted or dead and whose legal representatives have not been brought on record; while the other decree would be against the defendants who are still on record in respect of the same subject matter. The subject matter in the suit is the validity of the two Wills. The Courts including the Division Bench of the High Court have consistently held that the two Wills are proved, and thus Veeraswamy being the beneficiary under the two Wills had become the absolute owner of the suit properties in question. Such decree has attained finality in favour of the defendants who are either deleted or dead and whose legal representatives have not been brought on record. In case these appeals are allowed in respect of the other defendants, the decree to be passed by this Court in these appeals would definitely conflict with the decree already passed in favour of the other defendants. As mentioned supra, the Court cannot be called upon to make two inconsistent decrees about the same subject matter. In order to avoid conflicting decrees, the Court has no alternative but to dismiss the appeals in their entirety. [Para 9]

See Also : Shahazada Bi v. Halimabi, (2004) 7 SCC 354

Petitioner's Advocate : A. Subba Rao
Respondent's Advocate : Abhijit Sengupta
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice N. V. Ramana, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar
Judgment By : Hon'ble Mr. Justice N. V. Ramana

4. Narayan Malhari Thorat v. Vinayak Deorao Bhagat

Penal Code, 1860 - S. 306 - Suicide Note - There are definite allegations that the first respondent would keep on calling the wife of the victim on her mobile and keep harassing her which allegations are supported by the statements of the mother and the wife of the victim recorded during investigation. The record shows that 3-4 days prior to the suicide there was an altercation between the victim and the first respondent. In the light of these facts, coupled with the fact that the suicide note made definite allegation against first respondent, the High Court was not justified in entering into question whether the first respondent had the requisite intention to aid or instigate or abate the commission of suicide. At this juncture when the investigation was yet to be completed and charge-sheet, if any, was yet to be filed, the High Court ought not to have gone into the aspect whether there was requisite mental element or intention on part of the respondent. We, therefore, find merit in the submissions advanced on behalf of the appellant. The judgment and order under appeal is, therefore, set aside and the present appeal is allowed. Since the investigation into the matter was stalled as a result of the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C., we direct the concerned authorities to complete the investigation as early as possible.

Case Number : Crl.A. No. 1487 of 2018 28-11-2018
Petitioner's Advocate : Karunakar Mahalik
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Hon'ble Dr. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud
Judgment By : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit

5. Chhannu Lal Verma v. State of Chhattisgarh

Capital Punishment - Since the Constitution Bench in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684 has upheld capital punishment, there is no need to re­examine the same at this stage.

Kurian, Joseph, J.

The constitutional regulation of capital punishment attempted in Bachan Singh (supra) has failed to prevent death sentences from being “arbitrarily and freakishly imposed” and that capital punishment has failed to achieve any constitutionally valid penological goals, we are of the view that a time has come where we view the need for death penalty as a punishment, especially its purpose and practice.

It is also a matter of anguishing concern as to how public discourse on crimes have an impact on the trial, conviction and sentence in a case. The Court’s duty to be constitutionally correct even when its view is counter-majoritarian is also a factor which should weigh with the Court when it deals with the collective conscience of the people or public opinion. After all, the society’s perspective is generally formed by the emotionally charged narratives. Such narratives need not necessarily be legally correct, properly informed or procedurally proper. As stated in Report No. 262 of the Law Commission …….“the Court plays a counter-majoritarian role in protecting individual rights against majoritarian impulses. Public opinion in a given case may go against the values of rule of law and constitutionalism by which the Court is nonetheless bound” and as held by this Court in Santosh Bariyar (supra) public opinion or people’s perception of a crime is …….“neither an objective circumstance relating to crime nor to the criminal”. In this context, we may also express our concern on the legality and propriety of the people engaging in a “trial” prior to the process of trial by the court. It has almost become a trend for the investigating agency to present their version and create a cloud in the collective conscience of the society regarding the crime and the criminal. This undoubtedly puts mounting pressure on the courts at all the stages of the trial and certainly they have a tendency to interfere with the due course of justice.

Till the time death penalty exists in the statute books, the burden to be satisfied by the Judge in awarding this punishment must be high. The irrevocable nature of the sentence and the fact that the death row convicts are, for that period, hanging between life and death are to be duly considered. Every death penalty case before the court deals with a human life that enjoys certain constitutional protections and if life is to be taken away, then the process must adhere to the strictest and highest constitutional standards. Our conscience as judges, which is guided by constitutional principles, cannot allow anything less than that.

These appeals are hence partly allowed, commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment.

Case Number : Crl.A. No. 1482 - 1483 of 2018 28-11-2018
Petitioner's Advocate : Radha Shyam Jena
Respondent's Advocate : Dharmendra Kumar Sinha
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Kurian Joseph, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Deepak Gupta, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Hemant Gupta
Judgment By : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Kurian Joseph

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