8 Important Supreme Court Judgments March 12, 2019

1. A. Rajagopalan v. District Collector, Thiruchirapalli District

Tamil Nadu Revenue Subordinate Service Rules (TNRSS Rules) - Implementation of the amended Rule 5(g) in Annexure-III, item No. (ii).

Service Law - Seniority and Promotion - Seniority list taking Direct recruit Assistants, Promotee graduate Assistants and Promotee non-graduate Assistants as one group for promotion as Deputy Tahsildar.


Observations and Directions:- 


(i) Promotions of the Direct recruit Assistants effected between 07.02.1995 and 08.04.2009 and their seniority in their respective positions as on date, shall not be disturbed;

(ii) The benefit extended to the graduate promotee Assistants by placing them on par with Direct recruit Assistants is to be given effect to prospectively from the date of judgment of this Court dated 08.04.2009 rendered in the case of M. Rathinaswami v. State of T.N. reported in (2009) 5 SCC 625;

(iii) After 08.04.2009, the promotion to the post of Deputy Tahsildar from its feeder category, i.e., Direct recruit Assistants and Promotee graduate Assistants, shall be strictly in accordance with the judgment of this Court referred above, i.e., treating Promotee graduate Assistants on par with Direct recruit Assistants. Such promotion shall be given effect to, without reference to any interim order(s) passed by the High Court;

(iv) If any panels are prepared, and promotions are given, after 08.04.2009 for promoting the Assistants to the post of Deputy Tahsildars in Tamil Nadu Revenue Subordinate Service contrary to the judgment of this Court dated 08.04.2009, such panels and promotions have to be revised so as to bring in conformity with the judgment of this Court referred above;

(v) By virtue of the judgment of this Court dated 08.04.2009, referred above, Promotee graduate Assistants are placed on par with Direct recruit Assistants. So far as Promotee non-graduate Assistants are concerned, the amended rule holds the field, which gives preferential treatment to Direct recruit Assistants, over Promotee non-graduate Assistants;

(vi) Promotee non-graduate Assistants, who are impleaded as party respondents in these appeals, are not entitled to any directions in their favour, as much as, all these appeals are preferred by Direct recruit Assistants;

(vii) While implementing the above directions, if the seniority and promotion, of the persons who are already retired or dead, is affected in any manner, payments made on account of such seniority and promotion earlier granted to them during the interregnum period, i.e., from 08.04.2009 till this date shall not be recovered.

(viii) So far as Promotee non-graduate Assistants are concerned, it is open for them to pursue with the Government for appropriate amendment to the Rules, in which event we keep it open to Government to consider such request on its own merits.

Case Number : C.A. No. 251 - 256 of 2015 12-03-2019
Petitioner's Advocate : L.K. Pandey
Respondent's Advocate : Vikas Mehta
Bench : Hon'ble Mrs. Justice R. Banumathi, Hon'ble Mr. Justice R. Subhash Reddy

2. Dilip Mani Dubey v. M/s. Siel Ltd.

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 10 and 17 B - The U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Section 6­N - Whether the workman was in continuous service of the Employer for one year ? - Held, a finding on such question being a finding of fact, this Court cannot examine such question de novo by appreciating the whole evidence adduced by the parties again in these appeals - the High Court examined the matter in detail and the finding of the High Court on this question being a finding of fact is binding on this Court.


The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Section 17 B - Payment of full wages to workman pending proceedings in higher courts - the proceedings under Section 17­B of ID Act are independent proceedings in nature and are not dependent upon the final order passed in the main proceedings.

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Section 17 B - Payment of full wages to workman pending proceedings in higher courts - If the Court/Tribunal, eventually upholds the termination order as being legal against the workman, yet the employer will have no right to recover the amount already paid by him to the delinquent workman pursuant to order passed under Section 17­B of the ID Act during pendency of these proceedings

Case Number : C.A. No. 7545 - 7546 of 2009 12-03-2019
Petitioner's Advocate : Devvrat
Respondent's Advocate : Meera Mathur
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari

3. Sheetla Devi v. The State Of Uttar Pradesh Collector / District Magistrate

The U.P. Imposition of Ceiling of Land Holdings Act, 1960 - Section 10 (2) - Issue relating to vesting of the land in question alive which stood vested in the State in the year 1981 itself. Indeed the excess land measuring 2.90 acres is no more available having stood vested with the State in 1981. There is no ground available to the appellants to revive the ceiling proceedings by taking recourse to filing one application or the other including the one under consideration.


Case Number : C.A. No. 6403 of 2009 12-03-2019
Petitioner's Advocate : S.R. Setia
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari

4. Estate Officer Haryana Urban Development Authority v. Gopi Chand Atreja

The Limitation Act, 1963 - Section 5 - Delay of 1942 days in filing the second appeal - delay was inordinate - it was not properly explained - the ground alleged in support of application did not constitute a sufficient cause.

A delay of 1942 days (4 years 6 months), in our view, is wholly inordinate and the cause pleaded for its condonation is equally unexplained by the appellants. In any case, the explanation given does not constitute a sufficient cause within the meaning of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. It was, therefore, rightly not condoned by the High Court and we concur with the finding of the High Court.

The Limitation Act, 1963 - Section 5 - Second Appeal - Delay of 1942 days - Lawyer did not take timely steps, which resulted in causing delay in its filing / refiling, then, it cannot be regarded as a sufficient cause.

If, according to the appellants­-HUDA, their lawyer did not take timely steps, which resulted in causing delay in its filing/refiling, then, in our view, it cannot be regarded as a sufficient cause within the meaning of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. In our view, it was equally the duty of the appellants (their legal managers) to see that the appeal be filed in time. If the appellants noticed that their lawyer was not taking interest in attending to the brief in question, then they should have immediately engaged some other lawyer to ensure that the appeal be filed in time by another lawyer. In our view, it is a clear case where the appellant-HUDA,i.e., their officers, who were in­charge of the legal cell failed to discharge their duty assigned to them promptly and with due diligence despite availability of all facilities and infrastructure. In such circumstances, the officers-­in-­charge of the case should be made answerable for the lapse on their part and make good the loss suffered by the appellants-HUDA.



Facts of the Case


The appellant­ HUDA is a statutory authority created under the Haryana Urban Development Authority Act, 1977. It has its well­established legal department to look after the legal cases filed by HUDA and against the HUDA in various Courts. They have panel of lawyers to defend their interest in Courts. It is not in dispute that the appellants had been contesting the civil suit and the first appeal since inception. The appellants were, therefore, fully aware of the adverse orders passed in the first appeal against them. There was, therefore, no justification on their part to keep quiet for such a long time and not to file the appeal within 90 days or/and re­file it immediately after curing the defects.

Case Number : C.A. No. 5051 - 5052 of 2009 12-03-2019
Petitioner's Advocate : Ugra Shankar Prasad
Respondent's Advocate : Gagan Gupta
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari

5. Tanuku Taluk Village Officers Association v. Tanuku Municipality

The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 - Section 100 (4) - Second Appeal - Substantial Questions of Law - the disposal of the second appeal by the High Court by answering the question(s) which was/were not framed either at the time of admission of the second appeal or framed without ensuring compliance of the mandatory procedure prescribed in proviso to Section 100 (5) of the Code is not legally sustainable.


The question on which the High Court dismissed the appeals was in relation to the maintainability of the suit and this question was not a part of the three questions framed and nor the High Court framed such question by taking recourse to powers under Section 100(5) proviso of the Code.

Case Number : C.A. No. 2918 - 2921 of 2019 12-03-2019
Petitioner's Advocate : Gaichangpou Gangmei
Respondent's Advocate : Guntur Prabhakar
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari

6. Commissioner of Income Tax Jaipur v. M/s. Gopal Shri Scrips Pvt. Ltd.

The Income Tax Act, 1961 - Chapter XV, Section 260­A - The Companies Act, 1956 - Section 560 (5) - "liability in special cases" - "discontinuance of business or dissolution" - How and in what manner the liability against Companies, whose name has been struck of is required to be dealt with - the High Court dismissed the appeal on the ground that it has rendered infructuous because it was brought to its notice that the name of the company­ has been struck off from the Register of the Company - Since the High Court did not decide the appeal keeping in view the relevant provisions, the impugned order is not legally sustainable and has to be set aside.


Case Number : C.A. No. 2922 of 2019 12-03-2019
Petitioner's Advocate : Anil Katiyar
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari

7. Mukesh Chand v. The State (Nct) of Delhi

The Electricity Act, 2003 - Sections 135 and 152 - The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 - Sections 41 and 482 - Theft of Electricity - Compounding of offences - Settlement arrived at between the parties - Quashing of the FIR - the issue in question needs to be decided in the light of Section 152 of the Act, which deals with compounding of offences under the Act - High Court did not examine the issue in the light of Section 152 of the Act - remanded the case to the High Court to examine the issue afresh keeping in view the provisions of Section 152 of the Act.


Case Number : Crl.A. No. 469 - 470 of 2019 12-03-2019
Petitioner's Advocate : Anil Kumar Gautam
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari

8. Sachin Kumar Singhraha v. The State of Madhya Pradesh

Acts

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Sections 363, 376(A), 302 and 201(II). 
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 - Section 6.

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 - Section 27 - Court cannot reject the evidence merely based on the fault of the Investigating Officer in not preparing the inquest panchnama on the spot, particularly keeping in mind the recovery memo which were prepared on the spot.

PW2 and PW3 have deposed about the recovery of the dead body as well as the school bag of the child based on the disclosure statem to say, only so much of the statement as has led to the recovery of the dead body and the school bag is admissible in evidence under Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act. Both these witnesses have deposed that after the disclosure statement of the accused/appellant was recorded, he led the police and the witnesses (PW2 and PW3) to the spot where the school bag and the dead body had been disposed of. The dead body was found in a well situated alongside Paraswara Canal. At this time, only an underwear was present on the dead body. The police took out the dead body of the deceased from the well, and after such recovery, recorded the recovery memo Ext. P7 and took the signatures of the witnesses. Thereafter, the accused/appellant led the police and the witnesses to the school at Dubehi, on the rooftop of which he had hidden the victim’s school bag. The recovery memo of the school bag (Ext. P8) was prepared at the spot and the signatures of the witnesses were taken. Though certain suggestions were made to PW2, the same were denied. The evidence of PW2, in our considered opinion, has remained unshaken. The evidence of PW3 is almost similar to the evidence of PW2. In his cross­examination, PW3 has deposed that the police had prepared the police papers at several places, such as 1village Paraswara, and at the police station. It is also admitted by PW3 that the inquest panchnama was prepared at the police station. However, these admissions of PW3 will not take away the effect of Ext. P7 and Ext. P8, which are the recovery memos duly signed by the witnesses. It is clear from the evidence of PW2 and PW3 that immediately after the dead body was taken out from the well and after the recovery of the school bag from the rooftop of the school at Dubehi, the recovery memos Ext. P7 and Ext. P8 were prepared on the spot and the signatures of the witnesses were taken. As mentioned supra, PW3 has also deposed in his cross­examination that certain police papers were prepared at the village Paraswara as well as at the police station and that the inquest panchnama was prepared subsequently at the police station. However, on this basis, the entire case of the prosecution cannot be doubted, inasmuch as neither the death of the deceased nor the place of death is disputed. The evidence relating to the recovery is relevant to show that certain incriminating material has been recovered at the instance of the accused/appellant, and that the accused/appellant knew about the place of throwing the dead body and the school bag after the crime. We find that the evidence of PW2 and PW3 is compatible 11 with the prosecution version. Hence, we cannot reject the evidence merely based on the fault of the Investigating Officer in not preparing the inquest panchnama on the spot, particularly keeping in mind Ext. P7 and Ext. P8 which were prepared on the spot. [Para 12]

Death Penalty - Aggravating and mitigating circumstances for the imposition of the death sentence - Life imprisonment is the rule to which the death penalty is the exception. The death sentence must be imposed only when life imprisonment appears to be an altogether inappropriate punishment, having regard to the relevant facts and circumstances of the crime.

The Courts may not have been justified in imposing the death sentence on the accused / appellant. In the matter on hand as well, we deem it proper to impose a sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum of 25 years’ imprisonment (without remission). The imprisonment of about four years as already undergone by the accused/appellant shall be set off. We have arrived at this conclusion after giving due consideration to the age of the accused/appellant, which is currently around 38 to 40 years. [Para 17]

Penal Law - Sentencing is a difficult task and often vexes the mind of the Court, but where the option is between life imprisonment and a death sentence, if the Court itself feels some difficulty in awarding one or the other, it is only appropriate that the lesser punishment be awarded.

Criminal Trial - Certain discrepancies in the evidence and procedural lapses have been brought on record, the same would not warrant giving the benefit of doubt to the accused - It must be remembered that justice cannot be made sterile by exaggerated adherence to the rule of proof, inasmuch as the benefit of doubt given to an accused must always be reasonable, and not fanciful.

The Trial Court as well as the High Court have rightly concluded that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt for the offence with which the accused/appellant was charged. All the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution are proved beyond reasonable doubt and consequently the chain of circumstances is so complete so as to not leave any doubt in the mind of the Court that it is the accused and accused alone who committed the offence in question. [Para 16]

Criminal Justice should not become a casualty because of the minor mistakes committed by the Investigating Officer. 

If the Investigation Officer suppresses the real incident by creating certain records to make a new case altogether, the Court would definitely strongly come against such action of the Investigation Officer. There cannot be any dispute that the benefit of doubt arising out of major flaws in the investigation would create suspicion in the mind of the Court and consequently such inefficient investigation would accrue to the benefit of the accused. 

A criminal trial cannot be equated with a mock scene from a stunt film. 

Such trial is conducted to ascertain the guilt or innocence of the accused arraigned and in arriving at a conclusion about the truth, the courts are required to adopt a rational approach and judge the evidence by its intrinsic worth and the animus of the witnesses. 



The courts are not obliged to make efforts either to give latitude to the prosecution or loosely construe the law in favour of the accused. The traditional dogmatic hypertechnical approach has to be replaced by a rational, realistic and genuine approach for administering justice in a criminal trial.

Evidence Law - Circumstantial Evidence - the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn must or “should be” and not merely “may be” fully established. The facts so established should be consistent only with the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explicable through any other hypothesis except that the accused was guilty. Moreover, the circumstances should be conclusive in nature. There must be a chain of evidence so complete so as to not leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused, and must show that in all human probability, the offence was committed by the accused.

Case Number : Crl.A. No. 473 - 474 of 2019 12-03-2019
Respondent's Advocate : C.D. Singh
Bench : Hon'ble Mr. Justice N.V. Ramana, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, Hon'ble Ms. Justice Indira Banerjee
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