Showing posts with label judicial discipline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label judicial discipline. Show all posts

30 April 2021

When counsel reports no instructions, it is the duty of the Court to issue notice to the party concerned before proceeding further in the matter

Every litigant ought to be afforded an opportunity of deciding the issue involved on merits without the same being scuttled on mere technicalities



    In the said backdrop, if the decision in Smt. Garuda Sakuntala (supra), as relied upon by the learned advocate for the appellants - plaintiffs is taken into consideration, it held therein that, 'Past conduct of a party regarding default in appearance cannot be taken into consideration while deciding the question as to whether there was 'sufficient cause' for non- appearance of the party on a particular subsequent date i.e. the date on which the latest default is committed. The Court below is not justified in adverting to the previous conduct of the appellant/plaintiff while refusing to set aside the default dismissal order. The Court below ought to have considered whether there was sufficient cause for the absence of the appellant/plaintiff on 15.2.1993 only, and not the previous conduct of the appellant. Hence, the contention of the counsel for respondents, that in view of the previous conduct of the appellant in not attending the court the lower court is right in dismissing the suit for default, cannot be accepted'. It is further held that, 'Apart from that, admittedly, the appellant/plaintiff engaged an advocate to represent her case, and it appears that the said advocate did not make any representation on behalf of the appellant/plaintiff. When the counsel reports no instructions, it is the duty of the Court to issue notice to the party concerned before proceeding further in the matter. In this case, no notice is issued to the appellant/plaintiff by the court below to that effect. On this ground also, the order under appeal is liable to be set aside'. The Court has observed that, 'Dismissal of a suit for default of the plaintiff shall always be resorted to by the courts with utmost circumspection. Before passing such default dismissal order, the Courts should keep in view the hardship that may be caused to the plaintiff in deserving cases, of course with exceptions depending on the fact-situation of a given case, because the dismissal of a suit for default of plaintiff operates as a bar for bringing a fresh suit on the same cause of action. The procedural laws are intended to do substantial justice between the parties and not to penalize the parties'. Thus, as observed in the aforesaid decision, it is the
When counsel reports no instructions, it is the duty of the Court to issue notice to the party concerned before proceeding further in the matter
duty of the Court to issue notice to the party concerned before proceeding further in the matter and before passing such default dismissal order, the Courts should keep in view the hardship that may be caused to the plaintiff in deserving cases, of course with exceptions depending on the fact-situation of a given case, because the dismissal of a suit for default of plaintiff operates as a bar for bringing a fresh suit on the same cause of action. In the case on hand also, the learned advocate representing the appellants - plaintiffs did not remain present as not keeping well and eventually, the suit came to be dismissed for default, however, no prior notice appears to have been issued to the appellants - plaintiffs.[Para No.6.2]

    Adverting to the facts of the present case, the learned trial Judge has dismissed the suit for default for want of prosecution and by way of impugned order, also dismissed the application for restoration of the said suit. It was the case of the appellants - plaintiffs that since the learned advocate representing the case of the appellants - plaintiffs before the trial Court was not keeping well, he did not remain present before the Court on the date so appointed, however, the learned trial Judge did not appreciate the said fact and considering the past conduct viz. non- appearance of appellants - plaintiffs dismissed the suit for default observing that the suit is aged 10 years. It is settled law as reflected in the decision in Smt. Garuda Sakuntala (supra) that past conduct of a party regarding default in appearance cannot be taken into consideration while deciding the question as to whether there was 'sufficient cause' for non-appearance of the party on a particular subsequent date i.e. the date on which the latest default is committed and the Court below is not justified in adverting to the previous conduct of the appellant/plaintiff while refusing to set aside the default dismissal order. Further, as held therein, when the counsel reports no instructions, it is the duty of the Court to issue notice to the party concerned before proceeding further in the matter. In this case, indisputably, the learned trial Judge has taken into consideration the past conduct of the appellants - plaintiffs while dismissing the suit for default and admittedly, no prior notice appears to have been issued to the appellants - plaintiffs by the learned Court below to that effect.[Para No.6.5]

29 April 2021

Judicial discretion cannot be so liberally exercised as to condone the delay where no cause is made out or the cause ascribed is unworthy of acceptance

The sufficient cause should be such as it would persuade the Court, in exercise of its judicial discretion, to treat the delay as an excusable one



    A profitable reference in this context can be made to a judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Balwant Singh (dead) Vs. Jagdish Singh and others, 2010(8) Supreme Court Cases 685, wherein after adverting to a number of precedents, including the judgment in the case of Perumon Bhagwathy Devaswom (supra), the Supreme Court cautioned against construing the provisions of the Order XXII of the Code and Section 5 of the Limitation Act in such a manner as to render them redundant and inoperative.[Para No.17]

    The observations of the Supreme Court in paragraphs 32 to 35 and 38 are instructive. They read asunder:
“32. It must be kept in mind that whenever a law is enacted by the legislature, it is intended to be enforced in its proper perspective. It is an equally settled principle of law that the provisions of a statute, including every word, have to be given full effect, keeping the legislative intent in mind, in order to ensure that the projected object is achieved. In other words, no provisions can be treated to have been enacted purposelessly.
    Furthermore, it is also a well settled canon of interpretative jurisprudence that the Court should not give such an interpretation to the provisions which would render the provision ineffective or odious. Once the legislature has enacted the provisions of Order 22, with particular reference to Rule 9, and the provisions of the Limitation Act are applied to the entertainment of such an application, all these provisions have to be given their true and correct meaning and must be applied wherever called for. If we accept the contention of the Learned Counsel appearing for the applicant that the Court should take a very liberal approach and interpret these provisions (Order 22 Rule 9 CPC and Section 5 of the Limitation Act) in such a manner and so liberally, irrespective of the period of delay, it would amount to practically rendering all these provisions redundant and inoperative. Such approach or interpretation would hardly be permissible in law.
34. Liberal construction of the expression ‘sufficient cause' is intended to advance substantial justice which itself presupposes no negligence or inaction on the part of the applicant, to whom want of bona fide is imputable. There can be instances where the Court should condone the delay; equally there would be cases where the Court must exercise its discretion against the applicant for want of any of these ingredients or where it does not reflect “sufficient cause” as understood in law. (Advanced Law Lexicon, P. Ramanatha Aiyar, 2nd Edition 1997).
35. The expression “sufficient cause” implies the presence of legal and adequate reasons. The word “sufficient” means adequate enough, as much as may be necessary to answer the purpose intended. It embraces no more than that which provides a plentitude which, when done, suffices to accomplish the purpose intended in the light of existing circumstances and when viewed from the reasonable standard of practical and cautious men. The sufficient cause should be such as it would persuade the Court, in exercise of its judicial discretion, to treat the delay as an excusable one. These provisions give the Courts enough power and discretion to apply a law in a meaningful manner, while assuring that the purpose of enacting such a law does not stand frustrated.
36…………………………………………………………….
37…………………………………………………………….
38. Above are the principles which should control the exercise of judicial discretion vested in the Court under these provisions. The explained delay should be clearly understood in contradistinction to inordinate unexplained delay. Delay is just one of the ingredients which has to be considered by the Court. In addition to this,the Court must also take into account the conduct of the parties, bona fide reasons for condonation of delay and whether such delay could easily be avoided by the applicant acting with normal care and caution. The 
Judicial discretion cannot be so liberally exercised as to condone the delay where no cause is made out or the cause ascribed is unworthy of acceptance
statutory provisions mandate that applications for condonation of delay and applications belatedly filed beyond the prescribed period of limitation for bringing the legal representatives on record, should be rejected unless sufficient cause is shown for condonation of delay. The larger benches as well as equi-benches of this Court have consistently followed these principles and have either allowed or declined to condone the delay in filing such applications. Thus, it is the requirement of law that these applications cannot be allowed as a matter of right and even in a routine manner. An applicant must essentially satisfy the above stated ingredients; then alone the Court would be inclined to condone the delay in the filing of such applications.”[Para No.18]

22 April 2021

Non-production/withholding a vital document in order to gain an advantage on the other side tantamounts to playing fraud on the Court

No litigant is entitled to obtain the aid of the law to protect him in carrying out a fraudulent act



    The most sagacious judgments of our Courts define "fraud" as an act of deliberate deception with the design of securing something by taking unfair advantage of another. It is a sort of cheating intended to gain an advantage. Any litigant who approaches Court is bound to produce all the documents relevant, material and germane to the litigation. Non-production or non-mentioning or withholding a vital document in order to gain an advantage on the other side
Non-production or withholding a vital document in order to gain an advantage on the other side tantamounts to playing fraud on the Court
tantamounts to playing fraud on the Court as well as the opposite party
[S.P. Chengalvaraya Naidu vs. Jagannath & Ors (1994) 1 SCC 1 (paras-1,5 & 6), A.V. Papayya Sastry & Ors. vs. Govt. of A.P. & Ors. (2007) 4 SCC 221 (paras 21-33), K.D. Sharma vs. Steel Authority of India & Ors. (2008) 12 SCC 481 (paras-26-28 & 34-52) and Dalip Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. (2010) 2 SCC 114 (paras 1- 9)].[Para No.12]

    This fact of suppression assumes more significance in a writ proceeding which has been instituted under Article 226 of the Constitution. The very basis of writ jurisdiction rests in disclosure of true, complete and correct facts. If the material facts are not candidly stated or are suppressed or are distorted the very functioning of the Writ Courts would become impossible. The jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is extraordinary, equitable and discretionary. It is well settled that a prerogative remedy is not a matter of course and it is thus of utmost importance that a petitioner approaching the Writ Court must come with clean hands and put forward all the material facts without concealment or suppression. It there is no frank and candid disclosure of the relevant and material facts or that the petitioner is guilty of misleading the Court and the petition is liable to be dismissed. In fact, the Courts have gone to the extent of saying that in such circumstances, a Court may refuse to enter into the merits of the case. A party whose hands are soiled cannot hold the writ of the Court. In such situations, the aid of the Court is denied in order to maintain respect for the law; in order to promote confidence in the administration of justice; in order to preserve the judicial process from contamination (Miscellany-at-Law by R.E. Megarry, 2nd Indian Reprint 2004 at page-144). The rule has evolved in public interest to deter unscrupulous litigants from abusing the process of Court by deceiving it. In the facts and circumstances aforesaid and in the light of the prayers in the petition, I am of the view that the petitioners are guilty of misleading the Court and have deliberately, intentionally and mischievously suppressed the order dated 28 January, 2011 passed in Misc. Case No.26/2009.[Para No.13]

12 March 2021

Trial Judge has to seek explanation from the advocate orally while deciding the relevancy of question asked in cross examination rather than entirely putting the shutter down while disallowing of the questions

Decision of this Court in Yeshpal Jashbhai Parikh v/s. Rasiklal Umedchand Parikh, reported in 1954 SCC OnLine Bom 145 : (1955) 57 Bom LR 282, is also relevant on the point involved in the petition. Note of certain earlier decisions right from Privy Council were taken. In Vassiliades v/s. Vassiliades, reported in [1945] AIR PC 38 it was observed that ;
"No doubt cross-examination is one of the most important processes for the elucidation of the facts of a case and all reasonable latitude should be allowed, but the Judge has always a discretion as to how far it may go or how long it may continue. A fair and reasonable exercise of his discretion by the Judge will not generally be questioned".[Para No.14]

    In Yeshpal's case (Supra) it has been observed that, "While Courts will not ordinarily interfer with the proper exercise of the right of cross-examination the Courts have the power and authority to control the cross-examination of a witness".
    This Court is not agreeing with the submission by learned Advocate for petitioners that, the Court cannot control the cross-examination or he has free hand at the time of cross-examining the witness of the prosecution; but then agree to the submission that the cross- examination need not be restricted to what the witness has stated in his examination-in-chief. A balance has to be struck here while issuing directions to the learned Additional Sessions Judge that he has to decide the relevancy of the question which he may 
Trial Judge has to seek explanation from the advocate orally while deciding the relevancy of question asked in cross examination rather than entirely putting the shutter down while disallowing of the questions
get explained from the learned advocate for the accused orally and then allow him to put the said question to the witness. On any count learned Additional Sessions Judge will not be justified in entirely putting the shutter down while disallowing of the questions and asking the defence advocate to restrict himself while cross- examining
P.W.18 to the post mortem examination report Exhibit 216, sketch Exhibit 217 and certificate Exhibit 218. It is, therefore, again clarified that neither the learned advocate for the accused has unfettered right to put any question to the witness in the cross- examination but at the same time the learned Additional Sessions Judge shall also not restrict him in putting questions in the cross to the above referred documents only. There might be certain questions which would be beyond those documents and as an expert they are required to be elucidated from him. No straight jacket formula can be laid down as to what should be permitted and what should not be permitted as it depend upon the question that would be put and the relevancy and admissibility of the same and / or of the admissibility will have to be decided at that time. Definitely the learned Additional Sessions Judge is guided by the procedure laid down in Bipin Panchal's case (Supra), and it is specifically laid down that, it may be advantages for the Appellate Court in future. He has to bear those advantages which have been laid down in para No.15 of the case, in mind while recording the evidence.[Para No.15]

14 January 2021

Litigants who, with an intent to deceive and mislead the Courts, initiate proceedings without full disclosure of facts, is not entitled to any relief, interim or final

Further, the petitioner has concealed from this Court several orders passed by this Court as well as other Courts. She has not come to Court with clean hands. It is well settled that litigants who, with an intent to deceive and mislead the Courts, initiate proceedings without full disclosure of facts, such litigants have come with unclean hands and are not
Litigants who, with an intent to deceive and mislead the Courts, initiate proceedings without full disclosure of facts, is not entitled to any relief, interim or final
entitled to relief.
In 'Dalip Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh &Ors.' [(2010) 2 SCC 114] the Supreme Court observed that:
"In the last 40 years, a new creed of litigants has cropped up. Those who belong to this creed do not have any respect for truth. They shamelessly resort to falsehood and unethical means for achieving their goals. In order to meet the challenge posed by this new creed of litigants, the courts have, from time to time, evolved new rules and it is now well established that a litigant, who attempts to pollute the stream of justice or who touches the pure fountain of justice with tainted hands, is not entitled to any relief, interim or final".[Page No.9]

03 January 2021

Court must give reasoning as to why it has accepted the contentions of one party and rejected those of other party

For the foregoing discussion, the finding of learned Commercial Court, Jammu that the said Court does not have territorial jurisdiction to entertain the instant petition under Section 9 of the Act filed by the appellant, does not deserve to be interfered with. However, the manner in which the Court below has passed the impugned judgment invites a comment. A perusal of the said judgment clearly shows that it is cryptic and devoid of any reason. The learned Court has only noted the pleadings and submissions of the parties and then without giving any reasoning as to why it has accepted the contentions of one party and rejected those of other party, it has drawn the conclusion against the petitioner.[Para No.28]

    Reasoning is the soul of a judgment. A judgment which is
Court must give reasoning as to why it has accepted the contentions of one party and rejected those of other party
devoid of reasoning would not be a judgment in accordance with the law.
It is not sufficient for a Court merely to state in its judgment that on a careful consideration of the rival submissions of the parties, it has come to this or that conclusion. The material on record on a particular point for and against the parties to the case must be set out in the judgment and reasons stated for its acceptance or rejection. A Court has not only to state the points for determination and the decisions thereon, but also to give reasons for such decisions. All this is missing in the judgment passed by the learned Commercial Court, Jammu. Such type of judgments are not expected from a senior Judicial Officer of the level of a District Judge.[Para No.29]

17 November 2020

Magistrate; after taking cognizance, cannot issue, at the first instance, non bailable arrest warrant against accused who has obtained anticipatory bail

Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that the petitioners were granted anticipatory bail by this Court in the FIR registered against them bearing No.3/2003 at Police Station Khetri, District Jhunjhunu under Section(s) 418, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471, 406 & 120-B IPC. The police submitted a Final Report whereafter protest petition was filed, which was dismissed.
    Against the dismissal order of the protest petition, a revision petition was filed, which was allowed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Khetri and the matter was remanded back to the Court to pass a fresh order on 18.7.2018, whereafter the learned Magistrate has taken cognizance on 11.1.2019 and summoned the petitioners through arrest warrants. The said order of remand was challenged by the petitioners before the High Court and the High Court had stayed the said proceedings. Taking into consideration the order of taking cognizance, the petition was declared infructuous.[Para No.1]

    Learned Magistrate thereafter again issued arrest warrants.[Para No.2]
......

    For the aforesaid backdrop, this Court notices that it is a case where on remand from the District Judge, the Court has taken cognizance of the offences relating to allegations under Sections 418, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471, 406 & 120-B IPC. The High Court vide its order dated 29.4.2003 had granted anticipatory bail to the petitioners with the condition that in the event of arresting the petitioners, they shall be released on bail.
    
    Keeping in view the conditions laid down in Sushila Agarwal & Others (supra), this Court is of the firm view that
Magistrate; after taking cognizance, cannot issue, at the first instance, non bailable arrest warrants against accused who has obtained anticipatory bail
the action of the learned Magistrate from the date, it has taken cognizance and upto passing of the impugned order dated 3.9.2020 has acted in clear violation of the orders passed by the High Court after having granted anticipatory bail. There was no occasion for the learned Magistrate to have issued the arrest warrants and such course or power was not available with it in spite of having been given to it.

03 November 2020

At the time of taking cognizance on chargesheet, Magistrate is not supposed to act as a Post Office

At the time of consideration of charge Magistrate can take into consideration certain facts and documents pointed out and/or submitted by or on behalf of accused 


Filing of Civil Suit for redressal of damages does not bar a person from initiating a criminal case involving ingredients of criminal offence entitling plaintiff/complainant to initiate criminal case against the offender


    It is settled that at the time of taking cognizance of offence, it is not necessary for the Magistrate to find out as to whether trial is clearly going to culminate into conviction of accused or not, but the Magistrate has only to see whether there is prima-facie evidence on record so as to construe that there is possibility of commission of offence by the accused and even if there is evidence raising suspicion of commission of offence by accused the cognizance can be taken by the Magistrate and thereafter the accused has a right to put his version before the Court on the basis of evidence on record at the time of framing of Charge.[Para No.15]

    Parameters to be taken into consideration by the Court at the time of framing of charge are altogether different than that to be taken into consideration at the time of taking cognizance. At the time of taking of cognizance, Magistrate has to look into that material only which is placed before him by the Prosecution/Investigating Agency, but at the time of consideration of charge Magistrate can take into consideration certain facts and documents pointed out and/or submitted by or on behalf of accused and thereafter he can take a decision as to whether there is sufficient material for framing of charge or not. Recently this Court in case Siemens Enterprise Communications Pvt.. Ltd. now known as Progility Technologies Pvt. Ltd. vs. Central Bureau of Investigation, reported in 2019 (3) Shim. LC 1691, on the basis of ratio of law propounded by the Apex Court in its various pronouncements, has reiterated the power of the Magistrate as well as parameters to be taken into consideration at the time of framing of charge. It is also settled that at the time of undertaking such exercise at the time of framing of charge the Magistrate is not supposed to conduct a mini trial at the stage of framing of charge and not to appreciate evidence as warranted at the stage of conclusion of trial, but he has power to evaluate material and the documents on record alongwith material being referred by the accused if the said parameter confirms to the parameters laid down by the Apex Court reiterated in Siemens' case supra. Whereas at the stage of taking cognizance, as already stated supra, on consideration of material placed before Magistrate by prosecution/investigating agency, even if there is evidence raising suspicion of commission of offence by accused the cognizance can be taken.[Para No.16]

    No doubt, the evidence or material placed before the Magistrate, at the time of taking cognizance, is not to be evaluated on merit, but definitely it is duty of the Court to see as to whether some evidence is available on record or not.
At the time of taking cognizance on chargesheet, Magistrate is not supposed to act as a Post Office
In case, there is no evidence on record to indicate commission of alleged offence(s), the Magistrate is not supposed to act as a Post Office, but is expected to apply his judicial mind according to facts and circumstances of the case for accepting or rejecting the challan/report filed before him under Section 173 Cr.P.C.[Para No.17]

24 October 2020

Relief not founded on the pleadings should not be granted

Pleadings and particulars are necessary to enable the court to decide the rights of the parties in the trial. Therefore, the pleadings are more of help to the court in narrowing the controversy involved and to inform the parties concerned to the question in issue, so that the parties may adduce appropriate evidence on the said issue.
Relief not founded on the pleadings should not be granted
It is a settled legal proposition that "as a rule relief not founded on the pleadings should not be granted". A decision of a case cannot be based on grounds outside the pleadings of the parties. The pleadings and issues are to ascertain the real dispute between the parties to narrow the area of conflict and to see just where the two sides differ. (Vide: M/s. Trojan & Co. v. RM N.N. Nagappa Chettiar, AIR 1953 SC 235; State of Maharashtra v. M/s. Hindustan Construction Company Ltd., AIR 2010 SC 1299; and Kalyan Singh Chouhan v. C.P. Joshi, AIR 2011 SC 1127).[Para No.7]

14 October 2020

Rejection of a bail application by Sessions Court does not operate as a bar for the High Court in entertaining a similar application under Section 439 Cr. P. C.

In the instant case, learned Principal Sessions Judge, Samba, has rejected the bail petition of both the petitioners. The question that arises for consideration is whether or not successive bail applications will lie before this Court. The law on this issue is very clear that if an earlier application was rejected by an inferior court, the superior court can always entertain the successive bail application. In this behalf, it will be profitable to quote the following observations of the Supreme Court in the case titled Gurcharan Singh & Ors vs State (Delhi Administration), AIR 1978 SC 179:

"It is significant to note that under Section 397, Cr.P.C of the new Code while the High Court and the Sessions Judge have the concurrent powers of revision, it is expressly provided under sub-section (3) of that section that when an application under that section has been made by any person to the High Court or to the Sessions Judge, no further application by the same person shall be entertained by the other of them. This is the position explicitly made clear under the new Code with regard to revision when the authorities have concurrent powers. Similar was the position under Section 435(4), Cr.P.C of the old Code with regard to concurrent revision powers of the Sessions Judge and the District Magistrate. Although, under Section 435(1) Cr.P.C of the old Code the High Court, a Sessions Judge or a District Magistrate had concurrent powers of revision, the High Court's jurisdiction in revision was left untouched. There is no provision in the new Code excluding the jurisdiction of the High Court in dealing with an application under Section 439(2), Cr.P.C to cancel bail after the Sessions Judge had been moved and an order had been passed by him granting bail. The High Court has undoubtedly jurisdiction to entertain the application under Section 439(2), Cr.P.C for cancellation of bail notwithstanding that the Sessions Judge had earlier admitted the appellants to bail. There is, therefore, no force in the submission of Mr Mukherjee to the contrary."[Para No.5]


    Relying upon the aforesaid observations of the Supreme Court, the High Court of Bombay in the case titled Devi Das Raghu Nath Naik v. State, (Crimes Volume 3 1987 363), has observed as under:
Rejection of a bail application by Sessions Court does not operate as a bar for the High Court in entertaining a similar application under Section 439 Cr. P.

"The above view of the learned Single Judge of the Kerala High Court appears to me to be correct. In fact, it is now well-settled that there is no bar whatsoever for a party to approach either the High Court or the Sessions Court with an application for an ordinary bail made under Section 439 Cr.P.C. The power given by Section 439 to the High Court or to the Sessions Court is an independent power and thus, when the High Court acts in the exercise of such power it does not exercise any revisional jurisdiction, but its original special jurisdiction to grant bail. This being so, it becomes obvious that although under section 439 Cr.P.C. concurrent jurisdiction is given to the High Court and Sessions Court, the fact, that the Sessions Court has refused a bail under Section 439 does not operate as a bar for the High Court entertaining a similar application under Section 439 on the same facts and for the same offence. However, if the choice was made by the party to move first the High Court and the High Court has dismissed the application, then the decorum and the hierarchy of the Courts require that if the Sessions Court is moved with a similar application on the same fact, the said application be dismissed. This can be inferred also from the decision of the Supreme Court in Gurcharan Singh's case (above)."[Para No.6]

07 October 2020

Court cannot grant a relief which has not been specifically pleaded and prayed by the parties

In Messrs. Trojan & Co. Vs. RM.N.N. Nagappa Chettiar AIR 1953 SC 235, this Court considered the issue as to whether relief not asked for by a party could be granted and that too without having proper pleadings. The Court held as under:
"It is well settled that the decision of a case cannot be based on grounds outside the pleadings of the parties and it is the case pleaded that has to be found. Without an amendment of the plaint, the Court was not entitled to grant the relief not asked for and no prayer was ever made to amend the plaint so as to incorporate in it an alternative case."[Para No.29]

    A similar view has been re-iterated by this Court in Krishna Priya Ganguly etc.etc. Vs. University of Lucknow & Ors. etc. AIR 1984 SC 186; and Om Prakash & Ors. Vs. Ram Kumar & Ors., AIR 1991 SC 409, observing that a party cannot be granted a relief which is not claimed.[Para No.30]

    Dealing with the same issue, this Court in Bharat Amratlal Kothari Vs. Dosukhan Samadkhan Sindhi & Ors., AIR 2010 SC 475 held:
"Though the Court has very wide discretion in granting relief, the court, however, cannot, ignoring and keeping aside the norms and principles governing grant of relief, grant a relief not even prayed for by the petitioner."[Para No.31]

 

    In Fertilizer Corporation of India Ltd. & Anr. Vs. Sarat Chandra Rath & Ors., AIR 1996 SC 2744, this Court held that "the High Court ought not to have granted reliefs to the respondents which they had not even prayed for."[Para No.32]

Court cannot grant a relief which has not been specifically pleaded and prayed by the parties
    In view of the above, law on the issue can be summarised that the Court cannot grant a relief which has not been specifically prayed by the parties.[Para No.33]

22 September 2020

In the name of judicial activism Judges cannot cross their limits

Before parting with this case we would like to make some observations about the limits of the powers of the judiciary. We are compelled to make these observations because we are repeatedly coming across cases where Judges are unjustifiably trying to perform executive or legislative functions. In our opinion this is clearly unconstitutional. In the name of judicial activism Judges cannot cross their limits and try to take over functions which belong to another organ of the State.[Para No.17]

In the name of judicial activism Judges cannot cross their limits
    Judges must exercise judicial restraint and must not encroach into the executive or legislative domain vide Indian Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. vs. The Workman of Indian Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (2007) 1 SCC 408 and S.C. Chandra and Ors. vs. State of Jharkhand and Ors. JT 2007 (10) 4 SC 272 (See concurring judgment of M. Katju, J.).[Para No.18]

    Under our Constitution, the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary all have their own broad spheres of operation. Ordinarily it is not proper for any of these three organs of the State to encroach upon the domain of another, otherwise the delicate balance in the Constitution will be upset, and there will be a reaction.[Para No.19]

16 September 2020

Oral prayer of default bail u/s.167(2) can be allowed in hearing of Regular Bail Application u/s.439 of Cr.P.C. if chargesheet is not filed within prescribed period

In the present case, it was also argued by learned counsel for the State that the petitioner did not apply for ‘default bail’ on or after 4th January, 2017 till 24th January, 2017 on which date his indefeasible right got extinguished on the filing of the charge sheet. Strictly speaking this is correct since the petitioner applied for regular bail on 11th January, 2017 in the Gauhati High Court – he made no specific application for grant of ‘default bail’. However, the application for regular bail filed by the accused on 11th January, 2017 did advert to the statutory period for filing a charge sheet having expired and that perhaps no charge sheet had in fact being filed. In any event, this issue was argued by learned counsel for the petitioner in the High Court and it was considered but not accepted by the High Court. The High Court did not reject the submission on the ground of maintainability but on merits. Therefore it is not as if the petitioner did not make any application for default bail – such an application was definitely made (if not in writing) then at least orally before the High Court. In our opinion, in matters of personal liberty, we cannot and should not be too technical and must lean in favour of personal liberty. Consequently, whether the accused makes a written application for ‘default bail’ or an oral application for ‘default bail’ is of no consequence. The concerned court must deal with such an application by considering the statutory requirements namely, whether the statutory period for filing a charge sheet or challan has expired, whether the charge sheet or challan has been filed and whether the accused is prepared to and does furnish bail.[Para No.40]

Oral prayer of default bail u/s.167(2) can be allowed in hearing of Regular Bail Application u/s.439 of Cr.P.C. if chargesheet is not filed within prescribed period
    We take this view keeping in mind that in matters of personal liberty and Article 21 of the Constitution, it is not always advisable to be formalistic or technical. The history of the personal liberty jurisprudence of this Court and other constitutional courts includes petitions for a writ of habeas corpus and for other writs being entertained even on the basis of a letter addressed to the Chief Justice or the Court.[Para No.41]

    Strong words indeed. That being so we are of the clear opinion that adapting this principle, it would equally be the duty and responsibility of a court on coming to know that the accused person before it is entitled to ‘default bail’, to at least apprise him or her of the indefeasible right. A contrary view would diminish the respect for personal liberty, on which so much emphasis has been laid by this Court as is evidenced by the decisions mentioned above, and also adverted to in Nirala Yadav.[Para No.44]

    On 11th January, 2017 when the High Court dismissed the application for bail filed by the petitioner, he had an indefeasible right to the grant of ‘default bail’ since the statutory period of 60 days for filing a charge sheet had expired, no charge sheet or challan had been filed against him (it was filed only on 24 th January, 2017) and the petitioner had orally applied for ‘default bail’. Under these circumstances, the only course open to the High Court on 11 th January, 2017 was to enquire from the petitioner whether he was prepared to furnish bail and if so then to grant him ‘default bail’ on reasonable conditions. Unfortunately, this was completely overlooked by the High Court.[Para No.45]

11 September 2020

When an offence is committed in secrecy inside a house, then a corresponding burden will be on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed

In the instant case, the appellant does not deny her presence at the scene of crime (the house where deceased and accused lived). Except the appellant and her child, no other persons were present at the scene of crime and she was the inmate of the house where the offence is committed in secrecy inside the house. The initial burden to establish the case would undoubtedly be upon the prosecution, but the nature and amount of evidence to be led by prosecution to establish the charge cannot be of the same degree as is required in other cases of circumstantial evidence. The burden would be comparatively lighter in character. In view of Section 106 of Evidence Act, there will be corresponding burden on the inmates of the house to give cogent explanation as to how crime was committed.[Para No.26]

When an offence is committed in secrecy inside a house, then a corresponding burden will be on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed
    As observed herein above, appellant being the only inmate of the house, did not offer any explanation as to how the incident took place. Further she has not explained in her statement recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C the circumstances in which deceased had sustained injuries except denying every question by answering 'do not know' or 'false'. It is the duty of the accused to furnish an explanation in her statement recorded under Section 313 Cr.P.C. regarding incriminating material that has been produced against her. Accused has been given freedom to remain silent during the investigation, as well as before the Court, then, the appellant/accused may choose to maintain silence or even deny entire prosecution case. In the present case, as observed above, the appellant in her statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C except saying 'false' and 'do not know', has not explained how the incident took place or who had committed the offence (if known) or the reason for her husband sustaining head injury and lying in a pool of blood. In such circumstances, we will have to draw an adverse inference against the appellant for not furnishing the explanation in her statement recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C.[Para no.27]

   Where an accused is alleged to have committed the murder of her husband and the prosecution succeeded in leading the evidence to show that shortly before the commission of crime, they were seen together and the offence had taken place in the house where husband and wife normally resides, then, it is for the accused to explain. For this proposition, we place reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in TRIMUKH MAROTI KIRKAN V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA reported in (2006) 10 SCC 681 wherein it came to be held:

03 September 2020

Once a Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence, he is, thereafter, precluded from ordering an investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC

After calling report u/s.202 of CrPC, Magistrate can not order investigation u/s.156(3) of CrPC.

   I may first deal with the question as to whether the Magistrate ought to have proceeded under Section 156(3), after receipt of enquiry report from Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, sought on taking cognizance of complaint and after deferment of process or was required to proceed under Section 202(1) and what are the parameters for exercise of power under the two provisions.[Para No.12]

     The two provisions are in two different chapters of the Code, though common expression 'investigation' is used in both the provisions. Normal rule is to understand the same expression in two provisions of an enactment in same sense unless the context otherwise requires. Heading of Chapter XII is "Information to the Police and their Powers to Investigate" and that of Chapter XV is "Complaints to Magistrate". Heading of Chapter XIV is "Conditions Requisite for Initiation of Proceedings". The two provisions i.e. Sections 156 and 202 in Chapters XII and XV respectively are as follows :
"156. Police officer's power to investigate cognizable case.
(1) Any officer in charge of a police station may, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate any cognizable case which a Court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station would have power to inquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII.
(2) No proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate.
(3) Any Magistrate empowered under section 190 may order such an investigation as above- mentioned.
202. Postponement of issue of process.-
(1) Any Magistrate , on receipt of a complaint of an offence of which he is authorized to take cognizance or which has been made over to him under section 192, may, if he thinks fit, [and shall in a case where the accused is residing at a place beyond the area in which he exercises his jurisdiction] postpone the issue of process against the accused, and either inquire into the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by a police officer or by such other person as he thinks fit, for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding:
Provided that no such direction for investigation shall be made, -
(a) where it appears to the Magistrate that the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the Court of Sessions; or
(b) where the complaint has not been made by a Court, unless the complainant and the witnesses present (if any) have been examined on oath under section 200.
(2) In an inquiry under sub-section (1), the Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, take evidence of witnesses on oath:
Provided that if it appears to the Magistrate that the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the Court of Session, he shall call upon the complainant to produce all his witnesses and examine them on oath.
(3) If an investigation under sub-section (1) is made by a person not being a police officer, he shall have for that investigation all the powers conferred by this Code on an officer in charge of a police station except the power to arrest without warrant."[Para No.13]

   Cognizance is taken by a Magistrate under Section 190 (in Chapter XIV) either on "receiving a complaint", on "a police report" or "information received" from any person other than a police officer or upon his own knowledge.
    Chapter XV deals exclusively with complaints to Magistrates. Reference to Sections, 202, in the said Chapter, shows that it provides for "postponement of issue of process" which is mandatory if accused resides beyond the Magistrate's jurisdiction (with which situation this case does not concern) and discretionary in other cases in which event an enquiry can be conducted by the Magistrate or investigation can be directed to be made by a police officer or such other person as may be thought fit "for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding". I am skipping the proviso as it does not concern the question under discussion. Clause (3) provides that if investigation is by a person other than a police officer, he shall have all the powers of an officer incharge of a police station except the power to arrest.[Para No.14]

   Chapter XII, dealing with the information to the police and their powers to investigate, provides for entering information relating to a 'cognizable offence' in a book to be kept by the officer incharge of a police station (Section 154) and such entry is called "FIR". If from the information, the officer incharge of the police station has reason to suspect commission of an offence which he is empowered to investigate subject to compliance of other requirements, he shall proceed, to the spot, to investigate the facts and circumstances and, if necessary, to take measure, for the discovery and arrest of the offender (Section 157(1).[Para No.15]

    Power under Section 202 is of different nature. Report sought under the said provision has limited purpose of deciding "whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding". If this be the object, the procedure under Chapter XV of the Code of Criminal Procedure are required to be adhered to in letter and spirit.[Para No.19]

    Admittedly the Magistrate has taken cognizance and find it necessary to postpone issuance of process, therefore, directed for enquiry by the Police and on receipt of the report from SSP, Srinagar, the Magistrate was required to proceed in terms of the provisions contained in Chapter XV of the Criminal Procedure Code. Thus, I answer the first question by holding that the direction under Section 156(3) is to be issued, only after application of mind by the Magistrate. When the Magistrate does not take cognizance and does not find it necessary to postpone instance of process and finds a case made out to proceed forthwith, direction under the said provision is issued, when Magistrate takes cognizance and postpones issuance of process, the Magistrate has yet to determine "existence of sufficient ground to proceed" and these cases fall under Section 202. Subject to these broad guidelines available from the scheme of the Code, exercise of discretion by the Magistrate is guided by interest of justice from case to case.[Para No.20]

    To reiterate for the guidance of all the Magistrates in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh, it has become necessary to refer the Judgment reported in (2010) 4 Supreme Court Cases 185 titled Rameshbhai Pandurao Hedau Vs. State of Gujrat, which postulates that while the power to direct a police investigation under Section 156(3) is exercisable at the pre-cognizance stage, the power to direct an investigation or an enquiry under Section 202(1) is exercisable at the post-cognizance stage, when the Magistrate is in seisin of the case.[Para No.21]

Once a Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence, he is, thereafter, precluded from ordering an investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC
    The settled legal position has been enunciated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in several decisions and has observed that the Courts are ad idem on the question that the powers under Section 156(3) can be invoked by the Magistrate at a pre-cognizance stage, whereas powers under Section 202 of the Code are to be invoked after cognizance is taken on a complaint, but before issuance of process. Such a view has been expressed in Suresh Chand Jain case reported in (2001) 2 SCC 628: 2001 SCC (Cri) 377 as well as in Dharmeshbhai Vasudevbhai case, reported in (2009) 6 SCC 576: (2009) 3 SCC (Cri) 76 and in Devarapalli Lakshminarayana Reddy case, reported in (1976) 3 SCC 252: 1976 SCC (Cri) 380.[Para No.22]

Discarding a case law of other high court is against judicial discipline and propriety and amounts to disrespect

Before departing, it is inevitable to make mention that, the learned A.P.P. while making the arguments before the learned Trial Judge cited the Ruling of Kerala High Court in the case of Food Inspector vs James, (reported in Prevention of Food Adulteration Cases) at 1998 (1) P.320, and while discussing the observations made in the said Ruling, the learned Trial Judge has observed in para no.31 of the impugned judgment that :
"With great respect, I do not agree with the 'view taken' and observations made by Their Lordships in the above case law. Moreover, the said case law is admittedly of Kerala High Court and the same is not binding on this court."[Para No.42]

    Moreover, while making submissions before the learned trial Judge, learned A.P.P. also cited Ruling in the case of Rambhai vs State of Madhya Pradesh (Reported in Prevention of Food Adulteration Cases) at 1991 (1) P. 6, as stated in para 34 of the impugned judgment, but the learned Trial Judge, after considering the said ratio laid down in the said Ruling, observed in para no.35 of the impugned judgment that :
"After going through the observations made by Their Lordships in the above case law, I am of the opinion that though the Ruling is applicable to the present case, however, according to me, with great respect the view taken in the observations of the Ruling is not correct."[Para No.43]

Discarding a case law of other high court is against judicial discipline and propriety
    It manifestly appears from the text and tenor of the observations made by the learned Trial Judge in para nos. 31 and 35 of the impugned judgment that same do not conform with the judicial discipline and propriety, and apparently amount to disrespect, and therefore, the Registrar General is directed to take suitable action against the concerned Judge, if he is in Judicial Service.[Para No.44]

29 August 2020

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]

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]

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]

22 July 2020

If a judge decides a case for any extraneous reasons then he is not performing his duty in accordance with law

The first and foremost quality required in a Judge is integrity. The need of integrity in the judiciary is much higher than in other institutions. The judiciary is an institution whose foundations are based on honesty and integrity. It is, therefore, necessary that judicial officers should possess the sterling quality of integrity. This Court in Tarak Singh v. Jyoti Basu [(2005) 1 SCC 201] held as follows:-
“Integrity is the hallmark of judicial discipline, apart from others. It is high time the judiciary took utmost care to see that the temple of justice does not crack from inside, which will lead to a catastrophe in the judicial- delivery system resulting in the failure of public confidence in the system. It must be remembered that woodpekers inside pose a larger threat than the storm outside.”[Para No.6]
If a judge decides a case for any extraneous reasons then he is not performing his duty in accordance with law

   The behavior of a Judge has to of an exacting standard, both inside and outside the Court. This Court in Daya Shankar v. High Court of Allahabad and Others [(1987) 3 SCC 1] held thus:
“Judicial Officers cannot have two standards, one in the court and other outside the court. They must have only one standard of rectitude, honesty and integrity. They cannot act even remotely unworthy of the office they occupy.”

    Judges are also public servants. A Judge should always remember that he is there to serve the public. A Judge is judged not only by his quality of judgments but also by the quality and purity of his character. Impeccable integrity should be reflected both in public and personal life of a Judge. One who stands in judgments over others should be incorruptible. That is the high standard which is expected of Judges. [Para No.8]
Adv. Jainodin's Legal Blog