31 August 2020

Where a party to the suit does not appear in the witness-box and does not offer himself to be cross-examined by the other side, a presumption would arise that the case set up by him is not correct

The fact remains that there is no evidence on record to hold that defendant No.1 Dashmat Bai admittedly, firstly married Kunjilal, but there is no evidence on record to hold that whether he or she divorced each other and marriage between Kunjilal and Dashmat Bai had ever been validly dissolved. Similarly, it is the further admitted position on record that Dashmat Bai entered into marriage with Latel, but there is no evidence that divorce ever took place between them and thirdly, the alleged third marriage of Dashmat Bai with Sukhdev i.e. she has lastly married Sukhdev in Chudi form. Father of defendant No.1 Dashmat Bai namely, Jaitram (DW-1) has categorically stated that he was not present at the time when Dashmat Bai allegedly entered into marriage in Chudi form with Sukhdev. It is quite unnatural that father will not remain present at the time of such an important ceremony i.e. marriage of his daughter with a person namely Sukhdev. Similarly, Dashmat Bai herself could have entered into the witness-box and offered herself for cross-examination in absence of which adverse inference could be drawn against her.[Para No.20]

Where a party to the suit does not appear in the witness-box and does not offer himself to be cross-examined by the other side, a presumption would arise that the case set up by him is not correct
   The Supreme Court in Vidhyadhar (supra) has clearly held that where a party to the suit does not appear in the witness-box and states his own case on oath and does not offer himself to be cross-examined by the other side, a presumption would arise that the case set up by him is not correct. This decision has further been followed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Man Kaur (supra).[Para No.21]

Benefit of bail u/s.436A of Cr.P.C. is available only to under-trial prisoners and not to convicted who has filed an appeal

Upon the closer examination of the language used in Section 436-A of the Code, it can be seen without any difficulty or doubt that the benefit intended to be given is for a person who has, during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial under the Code of an offence, not being an offence for which capital punishment has been prescribed as one of the punishments, undergone detention for a period extending up to one half of the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence under that law. In such a case, the person is required to be released on his personal bond with or without sureties in normal course of circumstances. But, there could be some special circumstances justifying his further detention, for reasons to be recorded, which makes the right of the person limited and not absolute. This is evident from the first proviso which lays down that the Court may, after hearing the Public Prosecutor and for reasons to be recorded in writing, order continued detention of the person for a period longer than one half of the period mentioned in the Section or release him on bail instead of the personal bond with or without sureties. However, this limited right has the potential of becoming absolute when the condition prescribed in second proviso is fulfilled. The condition is that if the person has been detained during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial for more than maximum period of imprisonment provided for an offence under that law, the person has to be released. There is also an explanation appended to the section. It lays down that in computing the period of detention for granting bail, the period of detention passed due to delay in proceeding caused by the accused shall be excluded.[Para No.18]

Benefit of bail u/s.436A of Cr.P.C. is available only to under-trial prisoners and not to convicted who has filed an appeal
    Reading the Section as a whole, we find that the benefit under the section has been intended to be given only to the under-trial prisoners. The words "during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial" and the words "maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence" are significant. They indicate that only that person who has undergone detention for a period of one half or more of the maximum prescribed punishment during investigation, inquiry or trial under the Code who is eligible for his release on personal bond with or without sureties or bail, as the case may be. The Section does not say that a person who has been detained for one half period of imprisonment imposed would be eligible. Mentioning of "the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence under that law" and omission of the words "punishment imposed" shows that the legislature was aware of the difference in the status of an undertrial prisoner and a convict, and with it of the consequences of detaining a person who enjoys presumption of innocence till found guilty for unduly long time. Such presumption of innocence being absent in case of a convict, the legislature refrained, and consciously, from mentioning the words "punishment imposed". This clearly shows the intention of the legislature to confer the benefit on the under- trials and not the convicts. This being the position, we do not think that rule of liberal construction would have any application here.[Para No.19]

    There are further indications about the clarity of intention of the legislature. The provision refers to "investigation, inquiry and trial under  the Code". There can be no doubt about what "investigation or inquiry" means as they have been defined in Section 2(h) and Section 2(g) of the Code respectively. The doubt, however, could be about meaning of the word "trial" as it has not been defined in the Code. It has not been defined in the General Clauses Act either. So, we have to turn to its dictionary meaning, if it helps. In Black's Law Dictionary (9th Edition page 1644) "trial" has been defined to be a formal judicial examination of evidence and determination of legal claims in a advisory proceeding. This definition is too general an explanation of "trial" and, therefore, it would not help us in understanding its meaning here. So, we must again revert to the Code, in an attempt to understand the sense in which the word "trial" has been used in Section 436-A of the Code or to be precise, to know, as to whether or not the trial of an accused goes beyond his conviction and continues, if appeal is filed under 374 of the Code, till it is finally decided, or it culminates upon acquittal or conviction for the purpose of Section 436-A of the Code.[Para No.20]

    As these provisions create a step-wise mechanism to procedurally deal with crimes and so the word, "trial" used in Section 436-A would get it's meaning in the context of this scheme of the Code, at least for the purpose which is sought to be achieved by the provision of Section 436-A. Under this scheme of the Code, "trial" of a person accused of an offence is contemplated only by a Court having original criminal jurisdiction or assuming original criminal jurisdiction after committal of a Sessions case and appeal as a remedy against the judgment of conviction and/or sentence or even acquittal has been made available before the Court exercising Appellate jurisdiction. In this sense, so far as the Section 436- A benefit is concerned, the word "trial" has to be understood in contra-distinction to an "appeal proceeding". Our conclusion is further bolstered up by the provisions contained in Section 353. Provisions contained in Section 389 also help us in drawing of such an inference. It would be, therefore, convenient for us to quote relevant portions of these sections here. They are as under :
"353. Judgment - (1) The judgment in every trial in any Criminal Court of original jurisdiction shall be pronounced in open Court by the presiding officer immediately after the termination of the trial or at some subsequent time of which notice shall be given to the parties or their pleaders,
(a) by delivering the whole of the judgment; or
(b) by reading out the whole of the judgment; or
(c)  by reading out the operative part of thej udgment and explaining the substance of the judgment in a language which is understood by the accused or his pleader."
   "389. Suspension of sentence pending the appeal; release of appellant on bail. - (1) Pending any appeal by a convicted person, the Appellate Court may, for reasons to be recorded by it in writing, order that the execution of the sentence or order appealed against be suspended and, also, if he is in confinement, that he be released on bail, or on his own bond:
Provided that the Appellate Court shall, before releasing on bail or on his own bond a convicted person who is convicted of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, shall give opportunity to the Public Prosecutor for showing cause in writing against such release:"
    It is clear from Section 353 that it requires a criminal Court to pronounce judgment in every trial in open Court immediately "after the termination of the trial or at some subsequent time". It is indicative of the fact that upon pronouncement of the judgment, in the contemplation of the scheme of the Code, there occurs termination of the trial. If we examine Section 389 of the Code, on the backdrop of Section 353, we would find that under the scheme of the Code, appeal has been considered to be a stage separate from trial, which comes into being after pronouncement of the judgment upon termination of the trial. In other words, unless there is termination of trial, there is no question of stage of appeal being born. That means the words "trial" and "appeal" have been used in distinctive sense thereby signaling that no one makes a mistake in understanding that "trial" is not synonymous with "appeal", when it comes to extending benefit available to an under trial prisoner to a convict undergoing sentence of imprisonment.
Of course, in general sense, appeal could be said to be an extension of trial on the parameters of rights available to a convict, principles to be followed by Appellate Court in appreciation of evidence and power of Appellate Court. But, this is not so for the purposes of Section 436-A of the Code. This is the reason why in Section 389 of the Code, the words "trial of the person", "are not used and instead the words, "pending any appeal by a convicted person" are employed for considering suspension of sentence of the convict and grant of bail to him.[Para No.23]

30 August 2020

Bail can not be refused on the ground of seriousness of offence and criminal antecedent alone

Learned counsel for the appellant has submitted that the accused Vikram Singh is involved in at least five other criminal cases under the same Police Station, Jagdishpur. He has also brought to our notice the witness statement of one Narendra Dev Upadhyay. This statement was recorded on 29 th March 2019. The part of his statement to which our attention has been drawn by learned counsel for the appellant records that the said witness saw Vikram Singh standing near National Highway 56 Flyover on the date of occurrence of the incident in Warisganj with 6 or 7 accomplices and all of them were talking about plans of killing the victim.

    Learned Counsel for the State of Uttar Pradesh supported the appellant’s stand. Mr. C.A. Sundram, learned senior counsel for the accused contested the present appeal. His main argument is that the statement of Narendra Dev Upadhyay, on which reliance was placed by the prosecution and the appellant was recorded after fifty days from the date of occurrence of the incident. On the question of granting bail, Mr. Sundram has argued, such a statement was unreliable. He has also submitted that even as per the F.I.R. or the witness statements recorded under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, his client was not named as having participated in the act of assault or being present at the place of occurrence while the assault took place.[Para No.4]

Bail can not be refused on the ground of seriousness of offence and criminal antecedent alone
    On considering the submissions of the learned counsel for the parties. Having regard to the circumstances of this case, in our opinion, there has been no wrong or improper exercise of discretion on the part of the High Court in granting bail to the accused. The factors outlined in the case of Mahipal (supra) for testing the legality of an order granting bail are absent in the order impugned. The materials available do not justify arriving at the conclusion that the order impugned suffers from non-application of mind or the reason for granting bail is not borne out from a prima-facie view of the evidence on record. The offence alleged no doubt is grave and serious and there are several criminal cases pending against the accused. These factors by themselves cannot be the basis for refusal of prayer for bail. The High Court has exercised its discretion in granting bail to the accused Vikram Singh upon considering relevant materials. No ex-facie error in the order has been shown by the appellant which would establish exercise of such discretion to be improper. We accordingly sustain the order of the High Court granting bail. This appeal is dismissed.[Para No.7]

29 August 2020

appeal u/s.372 of Cr.P.C. seeking enhancement of sentence at the instance of the victim, is not maintainable

Chapter XXIX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with ‘Appeals’ and Section 372 makes it clear that no appeal to lie unless otherwise provided by the Code or any other law for the time being in force. It is not in dispute that in the instant case appellant has preferred appeal only under Section 372, Cr.PC. The proviso is inserted to Section 372, Cr.PC by Act 5 of 2009. Section 372 and the proviso which is subsequently inserted read as under:
“372. No appeal to lie unless otherwise provided. – No appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a Criminal Court except as provided for by this Code or by any other law for the time being in force:
Provided that the victim shall have a right to prefer an appeal against any order passed by the Court acquitting the accused or convicting for a lesser offence or imposing inadequate compensation, and such appeal shall lie to the Court to which an appeal ordinarily lies against the order of conviction of such Court.” 
appeal u/s.372 of Cr.P.C. seeking enhancement of sentence at the instance of the victim, is not maintainable
  A reading of the proviso makes it clear that so far as victim’s right of appeal is concerned, same is restricted to three eventualities, namely, acquittal of the accused; conviction of the accused for lesser offence; or for imposing inadequate compensation. While the victim is given opportunity to prefer appeal in the event of imposing inadequate compensation, but at the same time there is no provision for appeal by the victim for questioning the order of sentence as inadequate, whereas Section 377, Cr.PC gives the power to the State Government to prefer appeal for enhancement of sentence. While it is open for the State Government to prefer appeal for inadequate sentence under Section 377, Cr.PC but similarly no appeal can be maintained by victim under Section 372, Cr.PC on the ground of inadequate sentence. It is fairly well settled that the remedy of appeal is creature of the Statute. Unless same is provided either under Code of Criminal Procedure or by any other law for the time being in force no appeal, seeking enhancement of sentence at the instance of the victim, is maintainable. Further we are of the view that the High Court while referring to the judgment of this Court in the case of National Commission for Women v. State of Delhi & Anr. (2010) 12 SCC 599 has rightly relied on the same and dismissed the appeal, as not maintainable.[Para No.9]

No penalty can be imposed otherwise than prescribed by the statute or rules

It is well settled that when a Statute or a Statutory Rules prescribed a penalty for any act or omission, no other penalty not contemplated in the Statute or a Statutory Rules can be imposed. It is well settled that when Statute requires a thing to be done in a particular manner, it is to be done only in that manner.[Para No.50]

No penalty can be imposed otherwise than prescribed by the statute or rules
   There can be no doubt that strong measures must be taken to protect the environment and improve the air quality whenever there is contravention of statutory rules causing environmental pollution. Stringent action has to be taken, but in accordance with law.[Para No.51]

   Stoppage of supply of fuel to vehicles not complying with the requirement to have and/or display a valid PUC Certificate is not contemplated either in the 1989 Rules or in the NGT Act.
Motor Vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid PUC Certificate cannot be debarred from being supplied fuel.[Para No.52]

28 August 2020

Adverse possession; even if not pleaded, can be presumed when Plaintiff claims the original possession of defendant was permissive, but fails to prove it

A decree of possession does not automatically follow a decree of declaration of title and ownership over property. It is well settled that, where a Plaintiff wants to establish that the Defendant’s original possession was permissive, it is for the Plaintiff to prove this allegation and if he fails to do so, it may be presumed that possession was adverse, unless there is evidence to the contrary.[Para No.46]

    The Appellant-Defendant has in his written statement in the suit, denied the title and ownership of the Respondent- Plaintiff to the suit property. The Appellant-Defendant has asserted that the Appellant-Defendant is the owner of the suit property and has been in possession and in occupation of the suit premises as owner from the very inception.[Para No.47]

    In our considered opinion, the High Court erred in law in proceeding to allow possession to the Respondent-Plaintiff on the ground that the Appellant-Defendant had not taken the defence of adverse possession, ignoring the well established principle that the Plaintiff’s claim to reliefs is to be decided on the strength of the Plaintiff’s case and not the weakness, if any, in the opponent’s case, as propounded by the Privy Council in Baba Kartar Singh v. Dayal Das reported in AIR 1939 PC 201.[Para No.48]

    From the pleadings filed by the Appellant-Defendant, it is patently clear that the Appellant-Defendant claimed the right of ownership of the suit property on the basis of a deed of conveyance, executed over 75 years ago. The Appellant- Defendant has claimed continuous possession since the year 1966 on the strength of a deed of release executed by his father. In other words, the Appellant-Defendant has claimed to be in possession of the suit premises, as owner, for almost 28 years prior to the institution of suit.[Para No.49]

Adverse possession; even if not pleaded, can be presumed when Plaintiff claims the original possession of defendant was permissive, but fails to prove it
    In the facts and circumstances of this case, where the Appellant-Defendant was owner of only a portion of the suit property but has admittedly been in possession of the entire suit property, and the Appellant-Defendant has, in his written statement, claimed to be in continuous possession for years as owner, the defence of the Appellant in his written statement was, in effect and substance, of adverse possession even though ownership by adverse possession had not been pleaded in so many words. It is, however not necessary for this Court to examine the question of whether the Appellant-Defendant was entitled to claim title by adverse possession or not.[Para No.50]

27 August 2020

Magistrate has powers u/s.451 and 457 of Cr.P.C. to order de-freezing of bank account seized by police

Questions may often arise as to the legal remedy which a person can resort to, upon being aggrieved by the seizure of his bank account which reveals no nexus with the alleged offence.

Magistrate has powers u/s.451 and 457 of Cr.P.C. to order de-freezing of bank account seized by police
In case the seizure is illegal and the account freezed lacked direct link with the offences alleged, the legal remedy open to the aggrieved is to approach the concerned Magistrate under Section 451 or 457 of the CrPC as the case may be, and seek to get the account de-freezed. But if the freezing is per se contrary to the provisions of law and could be assailed as illegal without reference to factual disputes involved in the matter, nothing precludes the affected person from approaching this Court for appropriate relief.[Para No.23]

    If a Police Officer wants to depart from the normal procedure of getting a warrant or such permission from the concerned Magistrate, he must then have to draw a search memorandum in writing containing sufficient grounds for his belief as to how the assets in the account are associated with the alleged offences and also as to how an emergent freezing of account would be justified in the circumstances of the case on hand. He must forward the same to the nearest Magistrate forthwith as required under Section 165(5). If there is breach in this respect, it is to be considered as being irregular than illegal. All that the Magistrate has to decide on the motion made for defreezing of the account is whether the seizure complained of is illegal and the account did have any direct/close nexus or link with the offences in question. In other words, despite there could be complaint of irregularity in the matter of seizure also, once the Magistrate is satisfied that the account seized nevertheless has got direct or close link with the offences in question, then it is not a case where the account could be ordered to be de-freezed at the request of the aggrieved. This will not, however, preclude the Magistrate from reporting the violation if any, committed by the erring Police Officer, to his departmental head for initiating necessary disciplinary action.[Para No.24]

25 August 2020

Opinion expressed by High Court; while deciding bail application, can not be cited as a precedent in any other case

The appellant was the Secretary of the Mohammedpur Bujurg Kisan Sewa Sahkari Samiti Limited, Vikas Khand, Laksar, District Haridwar. While declining to grant bail, the High Court, by its order dated 20 February 2020, has come to the conclusion that the appellant falls under the definition of a “public servant”, as contained in Section 2(c)(viii) of the Act.[Para No.3]

    Assailing the finding of the High Court, Mr Aditya Singh, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant, submitted that in pursuance of the earlier order of the High Court dated 27 January 2020, the Inspector, Vigilance Signature Not Verified Establishment, Dehradun, who is the investigating officer, filed an affidavit Digitally signed by ARJUN BISHT Date: 2020.08.24 18:25:18 IST Reason:
clarifying that the Society does not receive any financial assistance or aid from the State government. On this basis, learned counsel submitted that the 1 Act appellant does not fulfill the description of a “public servant” within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the Act.[Para No.4]

Opinion expressed by High Court; while deciding bail application, can not be cited as a precedent in any other case
   In our view, it is not appropriate at the present stage to enter into a finding on whether or not the appellant fulfills the description of “public servant” as contained in Section 2(c) of the Act. Similarly, we are of the view that the issue whether the cooperative society is ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution did not arise for consideration before the High Court, and should not have been decided. This also is an issue on which no final opinion should be rendered at this stage in the context of adjudicating upon an application for bail. We, therefore, clarify that the impugned order of the High Court shall not be construed as an expression of any conclusive opinion nor will it be cited as a precedent in any other case.[Para No.6]

24 August 2020

No relief can be granted to the tenant on the ground of comparative hardship if he has never made any effort for searching alternative accomodation

So far as comparative hardship is concerned, it is undisputed fact that the petitioner has never attempted to search alternative space for shifting his business and law is very well settled on this point. The Apex Court as well as this Court has repeatedly held that it is necessarily required on the part of tenant to make full endeavour to search alternative accomodation to prove his comparative hardship after receiving copy of release application. In the matter of Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (supra), the Court has clearly held that it is required on the part of tenant to make effort for searching alternative accomodation. Again in the matter of Salim Khan (supra), this Court, relying upon the judgments of the Apex Court as well as this Court, was of the view that it is required on the part of petitioner to search accomodation after filing the release application and in the present case there is no dispute that the petitioner had never made any effort to search alternative accomodation. Not only this, the Court has also considered the Rule 16 of the Rules, 1972 and considering the another judgment of Ganga Devi (supra), Court has taken the view that Rule 16 of Rules, 1972 would not come in the rescue of petitioner, in case, petitioner-tenant has not made any effort to search another accomodation. Here in the present case, there is no dispute on the point that petitioner has not made any effort to search alternative accomodation.

No relief can be granted to the tenant on the ground of comparative hardship if he has never made any effort for searching alternative accomodation
    In the matter of Sarju Prasad (supra), this Court has again taken the same view and held that in case effort was not made for alternative accomodation, this would be sufficient to tilt the balance of comparative hardship against the tenant. This view was again repeated by this Court in the case of Bachchu Lal (supra) and held that to prove the comparative hardship, it is necessarily required to make effort to search alternative accomodation, which is absolutely missing in the present case.

    Therefore, in light of fact that petitioner has never made any effort for searching alternative accomodation coupled with law laid down by the Apex Court as well as this Court, no relief can be granted to the petitioner on the ground of comparative hardship.

23 August 2020

Evidence of child witness without oath can be relied upon if child witness is able to understand the questions and able to give rational answers thereof

Master Krishna Akhade (PW-4), son of deceased Sangita and the appellant -accused, was 4 year old tender aged child. It is abundantly clear from the evidence of Mr Mangesh Sonawane (PW-2) and Mr Mahesh Pagare (PW-3) that, Krishna Akhade (PW-4) was present in the house when the incident took place. As already referred to in foregoing paragraphs, master Krishna Akhade (PW-4) had not seen entire incident. Material portion of his testimony is as under:
"I am taking education in Balwadi. My mother's name is Sangita. The name of my father is Bhatu. The name of my sister is Divya. There was quarrel on that day in between my mother and father. My father beat to my mother by means of wooden log. I had seen the said incident. There was smoke in the house. Door was opened by Sonu uncle and Golu Uncle."[Para No.22]

    Record reveals that, before recording the evidence learned Additional Sessions Judge, Dhule ascertained as to whether master Krishna Akhade is a competent witness and whether oath can be administered to him by putting certain preliminary questions. Record further reveals that, considering very tender age of master Krishna Akhade, learned Additional Sessions Judge, Dhule decided not to administer oath to him. During cross-examination master Krishna Akhade clearly stated that, he had been awakened from sleep hearing shouting, which clearly establishes that, he had seen the incident not fully, but partly. Nothing is brought on record through his cross-examination, on the basis of which, his evidence can be discarded branding it to be tutored. No doubt, cross-examination of master Krishna Akhade (PW-4) reveals that, 1½ months prior to recording of his evidence maternal uncle Mangesh Sonawane (PW-2) had taken him to his house from the house of parental grandfather and grandmother. Merely for the reason that, master Krishna Akhade (PW-4) was in the custody of Mangesh Sonawane (PW-2) prior to his entering into the witness box, inference cannot be drawn that, Mr Mangesh Sonawane (PW-2) had tutored him before coming to the court for giving evidence. It is pertinent to note that, on very next day of the incident, statement of master Krishna Akhade under Section 161 of CrPC was recorded. Testimony of master Krishna Akhade is free from any omission or contradiction. Since the statement of master Krishna Akhade (PW-4) under Section 161 of CrPC was recorded on very next day of the incident when he was in the custody of parents of the appellant, question of his tutoring at that time by his maternal uncle Mr Mangesh Sonawane (PW-2) does not arise.[Para No.23]

Evidence of child witness without oath can be relied upon if child witness is able to understand the questions and able to give rational answers thereof
    In the matter of Dattu Ramrao Sakhare Vs. State of Maharashtra, 1997 (3) Mh.L.J. 452, the Hon'ble Supreme Court while dealing with the aspect of competency and credibility of child witness under Section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, in paragraph no.5 of the Judgment, held as under :
"A child witness if found competent to depose to the facts and reliable one such evidence could be the basis of conviction. In other words even in the absence of oath the evidence of a child witness can be considered under Section 118 of the Evidence Act provided that such witness is able to understand the questions and able to give rational answers thereof. The evidence of a child witness and credibility thereof would depend upon the circumstances of each case. The only precaution which the court should bear in mind while assessing the evidence of a child witness is that the witness must be a reliable one and his/her demeanour must be like any other competent witness and there is no likelihood of being tutored."[Para no.24]

Even If landlord has multiple premises available with him still the tenant cannot dictate to him which of the premises he may seek to get vacated

Tenant can be evicted for bona fide requirement of married daughter of landlord even if such daughter or her husband is having resources to purchase other premisses


    In another decision rendered by a single Judge of our High Court in Vinod Gupta vs. Kailash Aggarwal & Ors. where the bona- fidé requirement of a married daughter was canvassed, the single Judge relying upon the decision in Sunder Singh Talwar (supra) has also referred to a 2014 decision as follows :
"14. Further in Rajender Prasad Gupta V. Rajeev Gagerna 2014 (114) DRJ 182, the Court held as follows :
"5. Having considered the arguments of learned counsel for the parties, this Court is of the view that the Trial Court has taken into consideration each of the contentions raised in the leave-to-defend and found them to be not triable issues. The reasons for and conclusion arrived at cannot be faulted. Furthermore, simply because the daughter of a marriageable age and allegedly likely to marry would not necessary cut her ties from her maternal family nor would the requirement for her accommodation in her father's house be lessened. Indeed, in the present times a daughter who is married-out, may like to retain her accommodation in her father's house which forms an emotional anchor and a place for refuge for all times. In times of an unfortunate marital discord such need becomes more acute should there be such a need.
    Conversely her family also would want to retain a room so as to re-assure her of a continued place of residence in her paternal home. A married daughter's ties with her paternal family do not end upon her marriage. For a married daughter her parents' home is always a refuge; an abode of reassurance and an abiding source of emotional strength and happiness. In the present case the daughter is a practicing advocate, i.e. a qualified professional, the need is all the more acute and bona fide. This Court finds, as did the Trial Court did, that no triable issues were raised in the leave-to- defend. Therefore, there was no need to grant leave or set the matter for trial. The reasons and the conclusion arrived at in the impugned order are correct and call for no interference." 
"15. Thus the law discussed above does not leave any room for further discussion on this topic. Admittedly the law as it stands, the daughters share equal rights in their parental properties as a son does, hence saying a married daughter severe (sic) all her relations with her father's family and would never be considered dependent upon the family's property, residential or commercial, that her parents own, would not be correct. Hence no fault can be found in impugned order even on this score."
(emphasis supplied) The single Judge thereby upheld the denial of leave-to-defend to the tenant.[Para No.16]

Even If landlord has multiple premises available with him still the tenant cannot dictate to him which of the premises he may seek to get vacated
    While the ARC has clearly erred in holding that the requirement of a married daughter can never be considered while deciding the bona-fidé requirement of a landlord under section 14(1)(e) since a married daughter does not remain a member of the family, another question arises in the present case, and that is : whether in assessing the availability of suitable, alternate accommodation for the use of a married daughter, it is necessary to first assess the availability of such accommodation in the hands of the husband ; or is it permissible to assess the availability of such accommodation in the hands of the maternal family of the married daughter. In the opinion of this court, this question must be answered from the perspective of the eviction petitioner who seeks recovery of possession for the bona fidé requirement of a dependent family member. Accordingly, the availability of suitable, alternate accommodation is to be seen in the hands of the person filing the eviction petition, in this case the mother/landlady; and it is not relevant whether other relatives of the dependant family member have any alternate accommodation available. In this case, it is therefore not relevant whether the petitioner's sons-in-law have alternate accommodation or not.[Para No.17]

22 August 2020

U/s. 62 of The Indian Evidence Act, carbon copies can be taken into consideration as primary evidence

Briefly stated case of the prosecution is that the respondent was running a medical shop viz., M/s. Sri Balaji Medicals. On the directions issued by the Assistant Director of Drugs Control, Salem Zone, the Drugs Inspectors had inspected the respondent's medical shop on 17.12.2008. In the course of inspection, it was found that certain drugs were stored without a valid drug licence and the same were seized. A memo dated 22.12.2008 had been issued to the respondent-accused alleging contravention of section 18(c) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The respondent had caused reply (Ex.-P4) to the said memo without furnishing details of purchase. The Drug Inspector has fled a charge sheet against the respondent informing commission of offence punishable under Sections 27(b) (ii) and 28 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Upon consideration of evidence, the trial court after referring to Ex.-P4 held that the respondent has admitted that he has no licence to the premises for sale of drugs. The trial court further held that Exs.P-4 to P-7 though were carbon copies, as per section 62 of the Indian Evidence Act, they can also be considered as primary evidence. On those findings to, the trial court convicted the respondent and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year and imposed fne of Rs. 5000/- under Section 27(b)(ii) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and fne of Rs. 500/- under section 28 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Aggrieved by the verdict of conviction and the sentence of imprisonment, respondent-accused preferred an appeal in Criminal Appeal No.18 of 2013 before the appellate court-Principal Sessions Judge, Krishnagiri which was dismissed vide order dated 29.08.2013.[Para No.3]

    Per contra, the learned counsel for the respondent has submitted that the prosecution has failed to prove that the respondent is the owner of M/s Sri Balaji Medicals and the non-examination of Kamalakannan and Jayanthi was fatal to the prosecution case. Learned counsel further submitted that the alleged statement of the respondent in Exs.P-4, P-7 and P-10 relied upon by the prosecution were only carbon copies and the courts below could not have based the conviction upon Exs.P-4, P-7 and P-10 and that the High Court has rightly reversed the same.[Para No.6]

U/s. 62 of The Indian Evidence Act, carbon copies can be taken into consideration as primary evidence
    Learned counsel for the respondent has submitted that Exs.P-4 and P-7, that is, the statements of respondent were only carbon copies and that admission of such carbon copies raises serious doubt about the prosecution case. As pointed out by the trial court as well as by the first appellate court, under section 62 of the Indian Evidence Act, carbon copies can be taken into consideration primary evidence and we find no infirmity in admitting carbon copies of those documents.[Para No.14]

In absence of the depositions or the evidence of the victim; conviction u/s. 4 & 5 of the Immoral Trafic (Prevention) Act can not be sustained

PW-4, P.I., Madan Manohar Ballal of Crime Branch, Thane, claimed that at the relevant time, he was attached to A.H.T.C. and the investigation of the present Crime No. I-475 of 2013 of Manpada Police Station was handed over to him and he has received the relevant documents viz. complaint, panchanama, Pre-raid panchanama, raid panchanama, spot panchanama, muddemal and Police statements of witnesses. He claimed that he has obtained the documents of registration of the said flat, which is the place of offence, so also R.C. book of motorcycle. He claimed that he has requested the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Kalyan on 7 th December, 2013 and 13th January, 2014 so as to record the statements of victims under Section 164 of Cr.P.C. vide Exhibit 38 and 39. According to him, he has also sent a letter to Rescue Foundation to produce the victim girls vide Exhibits 40 to 45 for recording the statements of the victim girls under Section 164 of Cr.PC. However, according to him, the victims were sent to Bangladesh through Rescue Foundation, whereas victim no.6, Pinki Mandol was sent to West Bengal.[Para No.20]

    As such from the aforesaid testimony of the investigating officer, what can be gathered is the statement of the victim girls could not be recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C. though efforts were made as the five victims were sent back to Bangladesh by the Rescue Foundation, whereas victim Pinki to West Bengal. No efforts were made by the prosecution to record the statement of victim girls under Section 164 Cr.P.C. by video conferencing or their oral evidence during the course of trial.[Para No.22]

In absence of the depositions or the evidence of the victim  conviction us. 4   5 of the Immoral Trafic (Prevention) Act can not be sustained
    Similarly as observed hereinabove the conviction under the provisions of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 is also not sustainable as it is not established that the accused were either the owner or licensee or as a tenant of the flat in question, which is the place of offence and they were in actual possession of the premises particularly in absence of testimony of the flat owner. Similarly, it is also not established that the vehicle i.e. two wheeler was seized from the custody of or ownership of the accused. That being so, the conviction of the appellants for an offence punishable under Section 3 of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 is not sustainable. In absence of the depositions or the evidence of the victims, it is difficult to even sustain the conviction of an offences punishable under Section 4 of the Act particularly in absence of testimony of the victim girls, so also the conviction under Section 5 as there is no material to demonstrate that the victim girls were procured or by inducing or forcing them for the sake of prostitution.[Para No.30]

21 August 2020

Criminal appeal against conviction cannot be dismissed for default owing to the absence of the appellant or his counsel

This is the oldest Single Judge Bench criminal appeal of this Court. It was presented on 22.04.1988, admitted on 27.04.1988 and the appellant was directed to be released on bail and realization of fine amount was stayed. After its admission, the case was listed before different Benches on different occasions for hearing but it was adjourned either on the prayer of the learned counsel for the appellant or learned counsel for the Vigilance Department. The matter was listed before me for hearing on 06.08.2020 and I took up the matter through Video Conferencing. The report of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance Cell, Cuttack revealed that it was intimated to the appellant that the matter would be taken up on 06.08.2020. In spite of that, none appeared on behalf of the appellant. Since the appeal was pending before this Court for more than thirty years, in presence of the learned Senior Standing Counsel for the Vigilance Department, Mr. Deba Prasad Das, Advocate who is having extensive practice on criminal law for more than thirty five years, both in the trial Court as well as before this Court was appointed as Amicus Curiae to conduct the case for the appellant and the Registry was directed to supply the paper book to Mr. Das by 07.08.2020 and to intimate him that the matter would be taken up for hearing in the week commencing from 10.08.2020. Accordingly, Registry supplied the paper book to Mr. Das. On 13.08.2020 when the matter was again listed for hearing and it was taken up through video conferencing, Mr. Das, learned Amicus Curiae was ready for hearing but the learned counsel for the appellant who had filed the criminal appeal in the year 1988 appeared and sought for two weeks adjournment which was refused and accordingly, the hearing was taken up and concluded on that date itself and the judgment was reserved. Mr. Das, learned Amicus Curiae took time till 17.08.2020 to file his written note of submission and accordingly he also filed the same.

    In the case of Bani Singh and others -Vrs.- State of Uttar Pradesh reported in 1996 (II) Orissa Law Reviews (SC) 216, a three Judge Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court was called upto to decide the question as to whether the High Court can dismiss an appeal filed by the accused-appellant against the order of conviction and sentence issued by the trial Court, for non-prosecution. Considering the provisions under sections 385 and 386 of Cr.P.C., it was held that the law does not envisage the dismissal of appeal for default or non-prosecution but only contemplates disposal on merits after perusal of the record. It was further held that the law does not enjoin that the Court shall adjourn the case if both the appellant and his lawyer are absent. If the Court does so as a matter of prudence or indulgence, it is a different matter, but it is not bound to adjourn the matter. It can dispose of the appeal after perusing the record and the judgment of the trial Court. If the accused is in jail and cannot, on his own, come to Court, it would be advisable to adjourn the case and fix another date to facilitate the appearance of the accused/appellant if his lawyer is not present. If the lawyer is absent, and the Court deems it appropriate to appoint a lawyer at State expense to assist it, there is nothing in the law to preclude it from doing so. The ratio laid down in the case of Bani Singh (supra) was followed in the case of K.S. Panduranga -Vrs.- State of Karnataka reported in (2013)3 Supreme Court Cases 721 wherein it was held that the High Court cannot dismiss an appeal for non-prosecution simplicitor without examining the merits and the Court is not bound to adjourn the matter if both the appellant or his counsel/lawyer are absent. The Court may, as a matter of prudence or indulgence, adjourn the matter but it is not bound to do so. It can dispose of the appeal after perusing the record and judgment of the trial Court. If the accused is in jail and cannot, on his own, come to Court, it would be advisable to adjourn the case and fix another date to facilitate the appearance of the appellant-accused if his lawyer is not present, and if the lawyer is absent and the Court deems it appropriate to appoint a lawyer at the State expense to assist it, nothing in law would preclude the Court from doing so.

appeal against conviction cannot be dismissed for default owing to the absence of the appellant or his counsel
    In the case of Shridhar Namdeo Lawand-Vrs.-State of Maharastra reported in 2013 (10) SCALE 52, a three Judge Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that it is the settled law that Court should not decide criminal case in the absence of the counsel for the accused, as an accused in a criminal case should not suffer for the fault of his counsel and the Court should, in such a situation must appoint another counsel as an amicus curiae to defend the accused.

    In the case of Christopher Raj -Vrs.- K.Vijayakumar reported in (2019)7 Supreme Court Cases 398, it was held that when the accused did not enter appearance in the High Court, the High Court should have issued second notice to the appellant-accused or the High Court Legal Services Committee to appoint an Advocate or the High Court could have taken the assistance of Amicus Curiae. When the accused was not represented, without appointing any counsel as Amicus Curiae to defend the accused, the High Court ought not to have decided the criminal appeal on merits.

In computing period of 60/90 days for default bail u/s.167(2) of CrPC, first day of remand is to be included

The applicability of the aforesaid principle and also of the provision contained in Section 9 of the General Clauses Act would be of some semblance/relevance, where the law/statute prescribes a limitation and in terms of Section 9, if in any Central Act or Regulation made after the commencement of the General Clauses Act, 1897 it shall be sufficient for the purpose of excluding the first in a series of days or any other days or any other period of time, to use the word ‘from’ and ‘for the purpose of including the last in a series of days or any other period of time to use the word ‘to’. The principle would be attracted when a period is delimited by a Statute or Rule, which has both a beginning and an end; the word ‘from’ indicate the beginning and then the opening day is to be excluded and then the last day is included by use of words ‘to’. The requisite form for applicability of Section 9 is prescribed for a period ‘from’ and ‘to’, i.e. when the period is marked by terminus quo and terminus ad quem.

    If this principle is the underlining principle for applicability of Section 9 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, perusal of Section 167 (2) would reveal that there is no starting point or an end point. In the scheme of the Code, as has been elaborated above, the provisions contained in sub-section (1) of Section 167 runs in continuation of sub-section (2). Production of the accused before the Magistrate is a sequel of his arrest by the police in exercise of their power and the mandate of the police, and at the same time, a right of the accused to be produced before the Magistrate within 24 hours. The day on which the accused is brought on remand before the Magistrate, sub-section (2) of Section 167 empowers the Magistrate to authorize the detention with the police either by continuing it or remanding him to Magisterial custody. There cannot be a pause/break between the two processes. There is no de-limitation conceptualized in Section 167 nor can it be befitted into a period of limitation ‘from’ and ‘to’ as there is no limitation for completion of investigation and filing of the charge-sheet. The production before the Magistrate is a process in continuation of his arrest by the police and the Magistrate will authorize his detention for not more than 15 days in the whole but if he is satisfied that sufficient ground exist, he may authorise his detention beyond 15 days otherwise than in custody of police. There is no starting point or end point for the authorities to complete their action but if the investigation is not completed and charge-sheet not filed within 60 days or 90 days, a right accrues to the accused to be released on bail.

In computing period of 60/90 days for default bail u/s167(2) of CrPC, first day of remand is to be included

    The anterior period of custody with the police prior to the remand is no detention pursuant to an authorization issued from the Magistrate. The period of detention by the Magistrate runs only from the date of order of first remand. Sub-section (2) of Section 167 of the Cr.P.C pertain to the power of the Magistrate to remand an accused and there is no reason why the first day has to be excluded. The sub-section finds place in a provision which prescribe the procedure when investigation cannot be completed in 24 hours and distinct contingencies are carved out in sub-section (2); the first being the Magistrate authorizing the detention of the accused for a term not exceeding 15 days in the whole, secondly, when the Magistrate do not consider further detention necessary and thirdly, the Magistrate authorise the detention beyond period of 15 days if adequate grounds exists for doing so. However, there is no time stipulated as to extension of custody beyond period of 15 days with a maximum limit on the same. The accused can be in magisterial custody for unlimited point of time if he is not admitted to bail. In order to avoid the long incarceration of an accused for the mere reason that the investigation is being carried out in a leisurely manner, prompted the legislature to confer a right on the accused to be released on bail if he is prepared to do so and the investigation can still continue. This is the precise reason why the General clauses Act cannot be made applicable to sub-section (2) of Section 167 and the submission of Mr.Singh to the effect that the first day of remand will have to be excluded, would result into a break in the continuity of the custody of the accused which begin on his arrest and which could have continued till conclusion of investigation but for insertion of proviso to subsection (2) of Section 167.

20 August 2020

Prosecution case has to stand on its own legs and cannot take support from the weakness of the case of defence

In fact learned Counsel for parties also have mostly relied upon the evidence of the prosecutrix only either to demonstrate that the offences have not been committed or committed. Law on the perspective to be adopted in such case can be found in following two judgments of the Hon. Apex Court. In Narender Kumar Vs. State (NCT of Delhi), AIR 2012 SC 2281 : (2012) CriLJ 3033 : (2012) 3 JCC 1888 : (2012) 5 SCALE 657 : (2012) 7 SCC 171 : (2012) AIRSCW 3391 : (2012) 4 Supreme 59 , Hon. Apex Court points out the settled legal proposition that once the statement of prosecutrix inspires confidence and is accepted by the court as such, conviction can be based only on the solitary evidence of the prosecutrix and no corroboration would be required unless there are compelling reasons which necessitate the court for corroboration of her statement. Corroboration of testimony of the prosecutrix as a condition for judicial reliance is not a requirement of law but a guidance of prudence under the given facts and circumstances. However, where evidence of the prosecutrix is found suffering from serious infirmities and inconsistencies with other material, prosecutrix making deliberate improvements on material point with a view to rule out consent on her part and there being no injury on her person even though her version may be otherwise, no reliance can be placed upon her evidence. Even in cases where there is some material to show that the victim was habituated to sexual intercourse, no inference of the victim being a woman of "easy virtues" or a women of "loose moral character" can be drawn. Such a woman has a right to protect her dignity and cannot be subjected to rape only for that reason. She has a right to refuse to submit herself to sexual intercourse to anyone and everyone because she is not a vulnerable object or prey for being sexually assaulted by anyone and everyone. Merely because a woman is of easy virtue, her evidence cannot be discarded on that ground alone rather it is to be cautiously appreciated. In view of the provisions of Sections 53 and 54 of the Evidence Act, 1872, unless the character of the prosecutrix itself is in issue, her character is not a relevant factor to be taken into consideration. Hon. Apex Court states that even in a case of rape, the onus is always on the prosecution to prove, affirmatively each ingredient of the offence it seeks to establish and such onus never shifts. It is no part of the duty of the defence to explain as to how and why in a rape case the victim and other witness have falsely implicated the accused. Prosecution case has to stand on its own legs and cannot take support from the weakness of the case of defence. However great the suspicion against the accused and however strong the moral belief and conviction of the court, unless the offence of the accused is established beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of legal evidence and material on the record, he cannot be convicted for an offence. There is an initial presumption of innocence of the accused and the prosecution has to bring home the offence against the accused by reliable evidence. The accused is entitled to the benefit of every reasonable doubt.

Prosecution case has to stand on its own legs and cannot take support from the weakness of the case of defence

Prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and cannot take support from the weakness of the case of defence. There must be proper legal evidence and material on record to record the conviction of the accused. Conviction can be based on sole testimony of the prosecutrix provided it lends assurance of her testimony. However, in case the court has reason not to accept the version of prosecutrix on its face value, it may look for corroboration. In case the evidence is read in its totality and the story projected by the prosecutrix is found to be improbable, the prosecutrix case becomes liable to be rejected. The court must act with sensitivity and appreciate the evidence in totality of the background of the entire case and not in the isolation. Hon. Apex Court in matter before it observes that the facts and circumstances therein made it crystal clear that if the evidence of the prosecutrix was read and considered in totality of the circumstances along with the other evidence on record, in which the offence was alleged to have been committed, her deposition did not inspire confidence. The prosecution had not disclosed the true genesis of the crime. It therefore, found the appellant entitled to the benefit of doubt.[Para No.15]

Sale-deed is not a public document but the entry in the register book is a public document

Let us see whether section 31(2) makes any difference to this position in law. According to the judgment in Aliens Developers (supra), the moment a registered instrument is cancelled, the effect being to remove it from a public register, the adjudicatory effect of the Court would make it a judgment in rem. Further, only a competent court is empowered to send the cancellation decree to the officer concerned, to effect such cancellation and “note on the copy of the instrument contained in his books the fact of its cancellation”. Both reasons are incorrect. An action that is started under section 31(1) cannot be said to be in personam when an unregistered instrument is cancelled and in rem when a registered instrument is cancelled. The suit that is filed for cancellation cannot be in personam only for unregistered instruments by virtue of the fact that the decree for cancellation does not involve its being sent to the registration office – a ministerial action which is subsequent to the decree being passed. In fact, in Gopal Das v. Sri Thakurji, AIR 1943 PC 83, a certified copy of a registered instrument, being a receipt dated 29.03.1881 signed by the owner, was held not to be a public record of a private document under section 74(2) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 for the reason that the original has to be returned to the party under section 61(2) of the Registration Act, 1908 (see p. 87). This judgment has been followed in Rekha v. Ratnashree, (2006) 1 MP LJ 103 by a Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in which it was held:

Sale-deed is not a public document but the entry in the register book is a public document
“8. A deed of sale is a conveyance. A deed of conveyance or other document executed by any person is not an act nor record of an act of any sovereign authority or of any official body or tribunal, or of any public officer, legislative, judicial and executive. Nor is it a public record kept in a State of any private documents. A sale-deed (or any other deed of conveyance) when presented for registration under the Registration Act, is not retained or kept in any public office of a State after registration, but is returned to the person who presented such document for registration, on completion of the process of registration. An original registered document is not therefore a public record kept by a State of a private document. Consequently, a deed of sale or other registered document will not fall under either of the two classes of documents described in section 74, as ‘public documents’. Any document which is not a public document is a private document.

    We therefore have no hesitation in holding that a registered sale-deed (or any other registered document) is not a public document but a private document.

19 August 2020

A Judge is judged not only by his quality of judgments but also by the quality and purity of his character

Qualities of a good judge:

What cannot be ignored is also the fact that once when the petitioner being appointed as a member of judicial service unlike other employment or profession, judicial service is in itself a class apart. Judges in the judicial service is not merely in employment, nor are the judges mere employees, they are the holders of a post by which they exercise judicial powers. Their office is one with great trust and responsibility. Any act of injustice or misdeed by a judicial officer would lead to a disastrous and deleterious situation having grave adverse consequence.[Para No.26]

    It is always expected that a judicial officer discharges his work and duties in tranquillity and he has to behave and conduct in a manner as if he is a hermit.[Para No.27]

A Judge is judged not only by his quality of judgments but also by the quality and purity of his character
    So far as the conduct part is concerned, the Judges should always maintain and enforce a high standard of conduct which he should personally observe. It is always expected that a judicial officer shall apart from maintaining high level of integrity, should have great judicial discipline and should always try to avoid impropriety. Judge should always be sensitive to the situation around him and should avoid being overactive or over-reactive. It is always expected from a Judge to perform himself most diligently and should not get himself engaged in behavior that is harassing, abusive, prejudiced or biased.[Para No.28]

    Talking on the elements of judicial behaviour it has always been said that Judges shall remain accountable for their actions and decisions. A Judge's official conduct should be free from impropriety and the appearance of impropriety; he should avoid infractions of law; and his personal behaviour, not only upon the Bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach. Accordingly an act of the Judge whether in official or on personal capacity which erodes the credibility of the judicial institution has to be avoided.[Para No.29]

18 August 2020

Information recorded u/s.27 of Evidence Act by a Police Officer which is confessional in nature, is not admissible in evidence

The learned trial court arrived at a conclusion of guilt of the accused appellant primarily on the basis of three circumstances. The first conclusion of the trial court was based on the so-called evidence of disclosure i.e., the accused gave an information to the I.O. under Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act and led him to the place where he had allegedly strangled Smt. Mohini. In this regard, it is a settled proposition of law that such part of information of the accused recorded by a Police Officer which is confessional in nature, cannot be proved and as a consequence, is not admissible in evidence.

Information recorded u/s.27 of Evidence Act by a Police Officer which is confessional in nature, is not admissible in evidence
Manifestly, the inculpating part of the information (Ex.P/14) wherein, the accused allegedly admitted to have killed Smt. Mohini is totally inadmissible because the same would be hit by Section 25 of the Evidence Act. It may be stated here that the Site Inspection Plan (Ex.P/8) which the I.O. prepared on the basis of the information provided by the accused, records that a cot was lying at point 'X' in a room where Sheshkaran Dan admitted to have murdered his wife Smt. Mohini. Manifestly, the confession of the accused as is recorded in this document, is totally inadmissible and has to be excluded from consideration. The remaining part of the document, simply records presence of a cot at mark 'X' in the room. Obviously, when the husband and wife were living together in the house, presence of a cot in their room was but natural. Therefore, the conclusion drawn by the trial court in the impugned Judgment that the disclosure made by the accused pointing out the cot where he allegedly murdered Smt. Mohini was incriminating in nature, is absolutely baseless and frivolous.[Para No.9]

Bequeath of disproportionate share in Will does not make the Will suspicious or unnatural

Thus, from the tenor of the Will read with the document dated 30 September, 2000, it appears that Pravin had equal love and affection for Ashok and Dipti. However, Pravin was of the opinion that he had spent sufficient sums of money on Dipti to give her a comfortable life and hence he did not think it necessary to leave much of his properties to his daughter. However, it is not that Dipti was totally deprived by Pravin in the Will. As noted, 9% Relief Bonds with face value of Rs.31,00,000/- and Maturity Value of over Rs.48,00,000/- were left for Dipti. It has also come out from the evidence on record that Dipti and her husband are both well established in U.S.A. and between the two of them, they earn over 1 million U.S. dollars per year. This factor is also likely to have played in the mind of the testator in deciding that it was not necessary to leave much for Dipti who was financially more than secure. Just because the bequests in favour of the testator's two children are not equal and may even be disproportionate, the same in my view, per se would not amount to a suspicious circumstance or make the Will unnatural. A Will is generally made when the testator desires to alter the natural course of succession. As observed by the Apex Court in the case of Ramabai Padmakar Patil (Dead) v. Rukminibai Vishnu Vekhande (supra), a Will is executed to alter the natural mode of succession and by the very nature of things it is bound to result in either reducing or depriving the share of a natural heir. If a person intends his property to pass equally to his natural heirs there is no necessity at all of executing a Will. It is true that the propounder of a Will has to remove all suspicious circumstances. Suspicion means doubt, conjecture or mistrust. But the fact that the natural heirs or some of them have been excluded or a lesser share has been given to them, by itself without anything more, cannot be held to be a suspicious circumstance.[Para No.31]

Bequeath of disproportionate share in Will does not make the Will suspicious or unnatural

    In S. Sundaresa Pai vs. Sumangala. T. Pai (supra), the Hon'ble Supreme Court observed at Paragraph 7 of the judgment inter alia as follows:
"The uneven distribution of assets amongst children, by itself, cannot be taken as a circumstance causing suspicion surrounding the execution of the will. One son was given bulk of immovable properties; another none; another half share in one immovable property; other half being given to the plaintiff and another daughter and husband were given nothing. It is also not in dispute that some properties were given in gift to the plaintiff by her mother during her lifetime. There was nothing unnatural."[Para No.51]

17 August 2020

Intention of accused can be gathered from the fact whether the weapon was carried by the accused or was picked up from the spot

The conspectus of the decisions can summarised thus:
The offence to fall within Exception 4 of section 300 of The Indian Penal Code 1860 following ingredients must be fulfilled Viz.(i) that the act was committed without premeditation; ( ii) that there was a sudden fight; (iii) the act must be in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel; and (iv) the offender should not have taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.[Para No.22]

    The intention to cause death as contemplated by thirdly of Section 300 of The Indian Penal Code 1860 can be gathered from following factors:
(i) nature of the weapon used;

Intention of accused can be gathered from the fact whether the weapon was carried by the accused or was picked up from the spot
(ii) whether the weapon was carried by the accused or was picked up from the spot;
(iii) whether the blow is aimed at a vital part of the body;
(iv) the amount of force employed in causing injury;
(v) whether the act was in the course of sudden quarrel or sudden fight or free for all fight;
(vi) whether the incident occurs by chance or whether there was any premeditation;
(vii) whether there was any prior enmity or whether the deceased was a stranger;
(viii) whether there was any grave and sudden provocation, and if so, the cause for such provocation;
(ix) whether it was in the heat of passion;
(x) whether the person inflicting the injury has taken undue advantage or has acted in a cruel and unusual manner;
(xi) whether the accused dealt a single blow or several blows.[Para No.23]

16 August 2020

Arbitrator can order to array necessary parties but can not close proceeding with permission to file fresh proceeding

After hearing counsel on both sides, we do not have any doubt in mind that the Arbitrator cannot be justified in closing the proceeding abruptly for the mere reason that the other employees whose names found place in the final report were not impleaded. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the reference was made to the Arbitration Court for the recovery of a whopping amount, nearly Rs.18 crores from the appellants and others, who had defalcated money while working in the employment of the Bank. It is shown that the contesting defendants had contended that the suit is bad for non-joinder of necessary parties. But, from the proceedings, it cannot be inferred whether, in the light of the pleadings, opportunity was afforded to the plaintiff Bank for impleading additional defendants and to amend the plaint. Even though it is a quasi-judicial proceedings, having regard to the scope and ambit of Section 70 of the Co-operative Societies Act, we are of the opinion that the said forum has all the powers and trappings of a civil court and any interpretation restricting the scope and ambit would not be in terms of advancement of justice.[Para No.7]

Arbitrator can order to array necessary parties but can not close proceeding with permission to file fresh proceeding
    Even when we are inclined to uphold the finding of the learned single Judge that Ext.P10 cannot stand judicial scrutiny, we are of the definite opinion that it was open to the Arbitrator to invoke the powers under Rule 10(2) of Order 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Though the plaintiff is the dominus litis, and has to decide who are the necessary parties to the suit, if the plaintiff does not implead all the necessary parties, it is open to the Court to add any person as party at any stage of the proceedings, if the person whose presence before the Court is necessary for an effective and complete adjudication of the issues involved in the suit. It is the settled proposition of law that a person may be a necessary party in a suit, namely, (a) if he ought to have been joined as a party to the suit and has not been so joined, and (b) if the suit cannot be decided without his presence. Apex Court has repeatedly held that the theory of dominus litis should not be overstretched in the matter of impleading of parties, because it is the duty of the Court to ensure that, if for deciding the real matter in dispute, a person is a necessary party, the said person is impleaded. In order to do complete justice between the parties the power available under sub-rule (2) of Rule 10 of Order 1 CPC shall be invoked by the Court.[Para No.8]

    It is trite that all powers which are not specifically denied by the statute or the statutory rules should be vouchsafed to a Tribunal that it may effectively exercise its judicial function. In this connection, it is apposite to extract the following paragraph from the decision reported in Ebrahim Ismail Kunju v. Phasila Beevi [1991 (1) KLT 861].
"5. The increasing importance of the Tribunals in the vast changing life of the community cannot be ignored by a modern court. A modern ostrich even in the distant deserts may not make such limited use of its eyes. Many valuable rights of the modern citizen are deeply involved with the adjudicator, processes of the Tribunals. Many areas hitherto occupied by courts, are now the domains of the Tribunals. A liberal approach towards their functioning and a larger view about the powers they need, are the requirements of the times. A Tribunal should be facilitated to do all that a court could do in similar situations; and much more than that. Greater speed and a total liberation from the tentacles of technicalities, give a better look and greater efficiency for effectively manned Tribunals. If there be no statutory prohibition, the Tribunal should therefore normally be in a position to ordain its affairs and modulate its procedures in such a manner as to best subserve the interest of the public, and in particular the litigant public."[Para No.11]

15 August 2020

Insurance company is not liable to pay compensation for death of third party if vehicle is used as a weapon to murder by crushing down

Whether the brutal killing of two persons by the 7 th Respondent/Driver (who has been found guilty of murder under Section 302 IPC and has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Trial Court) using the Truck as a weapon and crushing them down, could be treated as an 'accident' or as 'out of the use of a motor vehicle' so as to award compensation to the legal representatives of the deceased, on the strength of a policy issued by the Appellant-Insurer? The finding of the Tribunal that the said incident is an accident and the Appellant/Insurer is liable to pay the compensation, is put to challenge in these appeals.[Para No.1]

    Coming to the scope for payment of compensation under the MV Act and the coverage of third party risk, Chapter XI has been provided for insurance of the motor vehicles against the third party risk. Section 146 speaks about the necessity for insurance against third party risk to the effect that no person shall use, except as a passenger, or cause or allow any other person to use, a motor vehicle in a public place, unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person or that other person, as the case may be, a policy of insurance complying with the requirements of the said Chapter. The requirements of policy and limits of liability have been mentioned under Section 147 of the MV Act; whereas the duty of the insurers to satisfy judgments against persons insured in respect of third party risk has been dealt with under Section 149 of the MV Act.[Para No.11]

    As mentioned already, on occurrence of an accident involving use of a motor vehicle, compensation can be claimed either under Section 163A of the MV Act on the basis of a structured formula (where it is not necessary for the Claimants to plead or prove negligence on the part of the Driver or the Owner) or under Section 166 of the MV Act by proving the negligence on the part of the Driver of the offending vehicle. It is quite possible that in a given case, 'murder' can be an 'accident'. If only it amounts to an 'accident', can it lead to a claim petition, to be filed by the Claimants, seeking compensation in respect of such accident because of the use of the motor vehicle either under Section 163A or under Section 166 of the MV Act. The Claims Tribunal envisaged under Section 165 of the MV Act names the Tribunal as 'Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal' and if it is not an accident, no such claim can be held as maintainable, to be entertained by the Tribunal.[Para No.12]

Insurance company is not liable to pay compensation for death of third party if vehicle is used as a weapon to murder by crushing down
    The question whether a murder can be an accident in a given case had come up for consideration before the Apex Court in Rita Devi (supra). It was a case where some unknown passengers hired an Autorickshaw from an autostand at Dimapur and later, the vehicle was reported stolen and the dead body of the Driver was recovered by the Police on the next day. The Autorickshaw was never recovered and the claim of the owner for the loss of Autorickshaw was considered and sanctioned by the Insurer, satisfying the amount for which it was settled. A claim petition was filed by the legal representatives of the deceased Driver under Section 163A of the MV Act, claiming compensation for the death as having arisen out of and in the course of his employment. The Tribunal held that it was caused by 'accident' coming within the purview of the MV Act and the owner and the Insurer were liable. The Insurance Company took up the matter before the High Court where it was held that there was no motor accident as contemplated under the MV Act and that it was an act of murder. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the award passed by the Tribunal was set aside. This led to the proceedings before the Apex Court where the question was subjected to a threadbare analysis; particularly on the point of 'dominant intention'. The Apex Court observed that there are instances where murder can be by accident on a given set of facts and that the difference between a murder 'which is not an accident' and a murder 'which is an accident' depends upon the proximity of the cause of murder. The Apex Court held that if the 'dominant intention' of the act of felony is to kill any particular person, then such killing is not an accidental murder but a 'murder simplicitor'; whereas, in a case where act of murder was originally not intended and the same was caused in furtherance of any other felonious act, then such murder is an 'accidental murder'.[Para No.13]

14 August 2020

Extra judicial confession of absconded co-accused cannot be used to record conviction

The prosecution is also relying on evidence of PW No.9 Tapan Mandal to establish that the other accused Kishor Shelar had made extra-judicial confession to him about killing of women by both accused. His evidence is also relied to establish that motorcycle brought by Kishor Shelar was produced by him. The other accused was apparently juvenile in conflict with law. The Judgment of trial Court mentions that, the other accused Kishor Shelar is Juvenile in conflict with law against whom the proceeding is going on before juvenile justice Board. The outcome of the proceedings is not known. Thus, the said accused was not before Trial Court in this proceeding. PW No.9 is silent about words 'Hari Om' being written on number plate of motorcycle. PW No.9 has stated that accused No.2 is absconding, although the investigating officer is silent in that regard. According to him he was working on Vadapav stall of father of accused No.2. The motorcycle belongs to relative of accused. The said accused went to Pune and confessed to him. The accused was arrested and PW No.9 was told to deposit motorcycle. The recovery is not at the instance of accused. It is difficult to accept that the accused would go to Pune and make confession to PW No.9. The witness have not stated as to why accused visited him and whether he stayed with him and what was the nature of relationship between them to confess about crime. In any case it is a extra-judicial confession of accused who is not tried in this proceeding. The owner of motorcycle was not examined. Appellant cannot be convicted on the basis of such extra-judicial confession.[Para No.30]
Extra judicial confession of absconded co-accused cannot be used to record conviction

    The extra-judicial confession is weak piece of evidence. The extra judicial confession is questionable in the present case. The witness did not allude the information to anyone about the confession made by the appellant. In the case of Sahadevan V/s State of Tamilnadu, (2012), 6 SCC 403 referring to the aspect of evidentiary value of extra judicial confession it was observed :-
"14. It is a settled principle of criminal jurisprudence that extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence. Wherever the court, upon due appreciation of the entire prosecution evidence, intends to base a conviction on an extra-judicial confession, it must ensure that the same inspired confidence and is corroborated by other prosecution evidence. If, however, the extra-judicial confession suffers from material discrepancies or inherent improbabilities an does not appear to be cogent as per the prosecution version, it may be difficult for the court to base a conviction on such a confession. In such circumstance, the court would be fully justified in ruling such evidence out of consideration".[Para No.31]

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