Showing posts with label supreme court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label supreme court. Show all posts

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]

20 September 2020

Mere proof of handwriting of a document would not tantamount to proof of all the contents or the facts stated in the document

Incidentally it was urged by Mr. Majumdar that even if the court proceeds on the assumption that the letter and the cable were received, it is not open to this Court to look into the contents of the letter and the cable because the contents are not proved as the Managing Director of the appellant company who is supposed to have signed the letter and the cable has neither entered the witness box nor filed his affidavit proving the contents thereof. Reliance was placed on Judah v. Isolyne Bose. In that case a letter and two telegrams were tendered in evidence and it was observed that the contents of the letter and the telegram were not the evidence of the facts stated therein. The question in that case was whether the testatrix was so seriously ill as would result in impairment of her testamentary capacity. To substantiate the degree of illness, a letter and two telegrams written by a nurse were tendered in evidence. The question was whether in the absence of any independent evidence about the testamentary capacity of the testatrix the contents of the letter could be utilised to prove want of testamentary capacity.
Mere proof of handwriting of a document would not tantamount to proof of all the contents or the facts stated in the document
Obviously, in these circumstances the Privy Council observed that the fact that a letter and two telegrams were sent by itself would not prove the truth of the contents of the letter and, therefore, the contents of the letter bearing on the question of lack of testamentary capacity would not be substantive evidence. Undoubtedly, mere proof of the handwriting of a document would not tantamount to proof of all the contents or the facts stated in the document. If the truth of the facts stated in a document is in issue mere proof of the handwriting and execution of the document would not furnish evidence of the truth of the facts or contents of the document. The truth or otherwise of the facts or contents so stated would have to be proved by admissible evidence, i.e. by the evidence of those persons who can vouch safe for the truth of the facts in issue. But in this case Bhikhubhai Gourishankar Joshi who filed an affidavit on behalf of the appellant has referred to the averments in the letter and the cable. He is a principal officer and constituted attorney of the appellant company. Once the receipt of the letter and the cable are admitted or proved coupled with the fact that even after the dispute arose and before the suit was filed, in the correspondence that ensued between the parties, the respondent did not make any overt or covert reference to the arbitration agreement and utter failure of the respondent to reply to the letter and the cable controverting the averments made therein would unmistakably establish the truth of the averments made in the letter. What is the effect of averments is a different question altogether but the averments contained in the letter and the cable are satisfactorily proved.[Para No.16]

18 September 2020

Collector can not impose extreme penalty of ten times of deficient stamp duty unless dishonest or contumacious intention of evading stamp duty is found

According to Section 40(1)(b) if the Collector is of opinion that such instrument is chargeable with duty and is not duly stamped, he shall require the payment of the of the proper duty or the amount required to make up the same, together with a penalty of the five rupees; or, if he thinks fit, an amount not exceeding ten times the amount of the proper duty or of the deficient portion thereof. The statutory scheme of Section 40(1)(b) as noticed above indicates that when the Collector is satisfied that instrument is not duly stamped, he shall require the payment of proper duty together with a penalty of the five rupees. The relevant part of Section 40(1)(b) which falls for consideration in these appeals is: “or, if he thinks fit, an amount not exceeding ten times the amount of the proper duty or deficient portion thereof.”[Para No.16]

    The amount of penalty thus can be an amount not exceeding ten times. The expression “an amount not exceeding ten times” is preceded by expression “if he thinks fit”. The statutory scheme, thus, vest the discretion to the Collector to impose the penalty amount not exceeding ten times. Whenever statute transfers discretion to an authority the discretion is to be exercised in furtherance of objects of the enactment. The discretion is to be exercised not on whims or fancies rather the discretion is to be exercised on rational basis in a fair manner. The amount of penalty not exceeding ten times is not an amount to be imposed as a matter of force. Neither imposition of penalty of ten times under Section 40(1)(b) is automatic nor can be mechanically imposed. The concept of imposition of penalty of ten times of a sum equal to ten times of the proper duty or deficiency thereof has occurred in other provisions of the Act as well. We may refer to Section 35(a) in this context is as follows:
“35. Instruments not duly stamped inadmissible in evidence, etc. — No instrument chargeable with duty shall be admitted in evidence for any purpose by any person having by law or consent of parties authority to receive evidence, or shall be acted upon, registered or authenticated by any such person or by any public officer, unless such instrument is duly stamped :
Provided that—
(a)any such instrument shall be admitted in evidence on payment of the duty with which the same is chargeable, or, in the case of any instrument insufficiently stamped, of the amount required to make up such duty, together with a penalty of five rupees, or, when ten times the amount of the proper duty or deficient portion thereof exceeds five rupees, of a sum equal to ten times such duty or portion;
(b)…    …     …     …”[Para No.17]

    Section 39(1)(b) of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 came for consideration before this Court in Gangtappa and another vs. Fakkirappa, 2019(3) SCC 788 (of which one of us Ashok Bhushan, J. was a member). This Court noticed the legislative scheme and held that the legislature has never contemplated that in all cases penalty to the extent of ten times should be ultimately realized. In paragraph 16 following has been laid down by this Court:
“16. Deputy Commissioner under Section 38 is empowered to refund any portion of the penalty in excess of five rupees which has been paid in respect of such instrument. Section 38 Sub-section (1) again uses the expression "if he thinks fit". Thus, in cases where penalty of 10 times has been imposed, Deputy Commissioner has discretion to direct the refund of the penalty in facts of a particular case. The power to refund the penalty Under Section 38 clearly indicates that legislature have never contemplated that in all cases penalty to the extent of 10 times should be ultimately realised. Although the procedural part which provides for impounding and realisation of duty and penalty does not give any discretion Under Section 33 for imposing any lesser penalty than 10 times, however, when provision of Section 38 is read, the discretion given to Deputy Commissioner to refund the penalty is akin to exercise of the jurisdiction Under Section 39 where while determining the penalty he can impose the penalty lesser than 10 times.”[Para No.19]
Collector can not impose extreme penalty of ten times of deficient stamp duty unless dishonest or contumacious intention of evading stamp duty is found
    The expression “if he thinks fit” also occurs in Section 40 sub-clause (b). The same legislative scheme as occurring in Section 39 is also discernible in Section 40(b), there is no legislative intentment that in all cases penalty to the extent of ten times the amount of proper stamp duty or deficient portion should be realised. The discretion given to Collector by use of expression “if he thinks fit” gives ample latitude to Collector to apply his mind on the relevant factors to determine the extent of penalty to be imposed for a case where instrument is not duly stamped. Unavoidable circumstances including the conduct of the party, his intent are the relevant factors to come to a decision.[Para No.20]

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]

14 September 2020

Bank is bound to honour bank guarantee irrespective of any dispute raised by its customer

These bank guarantees which are irrevocable in nature, in terms, provide that they are payable by the guarantor to the appellant on demand without demur. They further provide that the appellant shall be the sole judge of whether and to what extent the amount has become recoverable from the respondent or whether the respondent has committed any breach of the terms and conditions of the agreement. The bank guarantees further provide that the right of the purchaser to recover from the guarantor any amount shall not be affected or suspended by reason of any disputes that may have been raised by the respondent with regard to its liability or on the ground that proceedings are pending before any Tribunal, Arbitrator or Court with regard to such dispute. The guarantor shall immediately pay the guaranteed amount to the appellant-purchasers on demand.[Para No.11]

Bank is bound to honour bank guarantee  irrespective of any dispute raised by its customer
   The law relating to invocation of such bank guarantees is by now well settled. When in the course of commercial dealings an unconditional bank guarantee is given or accepted, the beneficiary is entitled to realize such a bank guarantee in terms thereof irrespective of any pending disputes. The bank giving such a guarantee is bound to honour it as per its terms irrespective of any dispute raised by its customer. The very purpose of giving such a bank guarantee would otherwise be defeated. The courts should, therefore, be slow in granting an injunction to restrain the realization of such a bank guarantee. The courts have carved out only two exceptions. A fraud in connection with such a bank guarantee would vitiate the very foundation of such a bank guarantee. Hence if there is such a fraud of which the beneficiary seeks to take advantage, he can be restrained from doing so. The second exception relates to cases where allowing the encashment of an unconditional bank guarantee would result in irretrievable harm or injustice to one of the parties concerned. Since in most cases payment of money under such a bank guarantee would adversely affect the bank and its customer at whose instance the guarantee is given, the harm or injustice contemplated under this head must be of such an exceptional and irretrievable nature as would override the terms of the guarantee and the adverse effect of such an injunction on commercial dealings in the country. The two grounds are not necessarily connected, though both may co-exist in some cases. In the case of U.P. Cooperative Federation Ltd. v. Singh Consultants and Engineers (P) Ltd. (988 [1] SCC 174), which was the case of works contract where the performance guarantee given under the contract was sought to be invoked, this Court, after referring extensively to English and Indian cases on the subject, said that the guarantee must be honoured in accordance with its terms. The bank which gives the guarantee is not concerned in the least with the relations between the supplier and the customer; nor with the question whether the suppler has performed his contractual obligation or not, nor with the question whether the supplier is in default or not. The bank must pay according to the tenor of its guarantee on demand without proof or condition. There are only two exceptions to this rule. The first exception is a case when there is a clear fraud of which the bank has notice. The fraud must be of an agregious nature such as to vitiate the entire underlying transaction. Explaining the kind of fraud that may absolve a bank from honouring its guarantee, this Court in the above case quoted with approval the observations of Sir John Donaldson, M.R. in Bolivinter Oil SA v. Chase Manhattan Bank NA (1984 [1] AER 351 at 352): "The wholly exceptional case where an injunction may be granted is where it is proved that the bank knows that any demand for payment already made or which may thereafter be made will clearly be fraudulent. But the evidence must be clear both as to the fact of fraud and as to the bank's knowledge. It would certainly not normally be sufficient that this rests on the uncorroborated statement of the customer, for irreparable damage can be done to a bank's credit in the relatively brief time which must elapse between the granting of such an injunction and an application by the bank to have it charged". This Court set aside an injunction granted by the High Court to restrain the realisation of the bank guarantee.[Para No.12]

11 September 2020

Testimony of police official as a witnesses cannot be rejected on the ground of non­ corroboration by independent witness

Having gone through the entire evidence on record and the findings recorded by the courts below, we are of the opinion that in the present case the prosecution has been successful in proving the case against the accused by examining the witnesses PW3, PW4, PW5, PW7 and PW8. It is true that all the aforesaid witnesses are police officials and two independent witnesses who were panchnama witnesses had turned hostile. However, all the aforesaid police witnesses are found to be reliable and trustworthy. All of them have been thoroughly cross­examined by the defence. There is no allegation of any enmity between the police witnesses and the accused. No such defence has been taken in the statement under Section 313, Cr.P.C. There is no law that the evidence of police officials, unless supported by independent evidence, is to be discarded and/or unworthy of acceptance.

Testimony of police official as a witnesses cannot be rejected on the ground of non­ corroboration by independent witness
    It is settled law that the testimony of the official witnesses cannot be rejected on the ground of non­corroboration by independent witness. As observed and held by this Court in catena of decisions, examination of independent witnesses is not an indispensable requirement and such non­examination is not necessarily fatal to the prosecution case, [see Pardeep Kumar (supra)].

    In the recent decision in the case of Surinder Kumar v. State of Punjab, (2020) 2 SCC 563, while considering somewhat similar submission of non­examination of independent witnesses, while dealing with the offence under the NDPS Act, in paragraphs 15 and 16, this Court observed and held as under:
“15. The judgment in Jarnail Singh v. State of Punjab (2011) 3 SCC 521, relied on by the counsel for the respondent State also supports the case of the prosecution. In the aforesaid judgment, this Court has held that merely because prosecution did not examine any independent witness, would not necessarily lead to conclusion that the accused was falsely implicated. The evidence of official witnesses cannot be distrusted and disbelieved, merely on account of their official status. 
16. In State (NCT of Delhi) v. Sunil, (2011) 1 SCC 652, it was held as under: (SCC p. 655) “It is an archaic notion that actions of the police officer should be approached with initial distrust. It is time now to start placing at least initial trust on the actions and the documents made by the police. At any rate, the court cannot start with the presumption that the police records are untrustworthy.
  As a proposition of law, the presumption should be the other way round. That official acts of the police have been regularly performed is a wise principle of presumption and recognised even by the legislature.”

10 September 2020

If accused is able to raise a probable defence which creates doubts about the existence of a legally enforceable debt or liability, the prosecution u/s.138 of N.I. Act can fail

With regard to the facts in the present case, we can also refer to the following observations in M.M.T.C. Ltd. and Anr. v. Medchl Chemicals & Pharma (P) Ltd., (2002) 1 SCC 234 (Para. 19):

"... The authority shows that even when the cheque is dishonoured by reason of stop payment instruction, by virtue of Section 139 the Court has to presume that the cheque was received by the holder for the discharge in whole or in part, of any debt or liability. Of course this is a rebuttable presumption. The accused can thus show that the `stop payment' instructions were not issued because of insufficiency or paucity of funds. If the accused shows that in his account there was sufficient funds to clear the amount of the cheque at the time of presentation of the cheque for encashment at the drawer bank and that the stop payment notice had been issued because of other valid causes including that there was no existing debt or liability at the time of presentation of cheque for encashment, then offence under Section 138 would not be made out. The important thing is that the burden of so proving would be on the accused. ..."
(emphasis supplied)[Para No.13]

If accused is able to raise a probable defence which creates doubts about the existence of a legally enforceable debt or liability, the prosecution u/s.138 of N.I. Act can fail
    In light of these extracts, we are in agreement with the respondent-claimant that the presumption mandated by Section 139 of the Act does indeed include the existence of a legally enforceable debt or liability. To that extent, the impugned observations in Krishna Janardhan Bhat (supra) may not be correct. However, this does not in any way cast doubt on the correctness of the decision in that case since it was based on the specific facts and circumstances therein. As noted in the citations, this is of course in the nature of a rebuttable presumption and it is open to the accused to raise a defence wherein the existence of a legally enforceable debt or liability can be contested. However, there can be no doubt that there is an initial presumption which favours the complainant. Section 139 of the Act is an example of a reverse onus clause that has been included in furtherance of the legislative objective of improving the credibility of negotiable instruments. While Section 138 of the Act specifies a strong criminal remedy in relation to the dishonour of cheques, the rebuttable presumption under Section 139 is a device to prevent undue delay in the course of litigation. However, it must be remembered that the offence made punishable by Section 138 can be better described as a regulatory offence since the bouncing of a cheque is largely in the nature of a civil wrong whose impact is usually confined to the private parties involved in commercial transactions. In such a scenario, the test of proportionality should guide the construction and interpretation of reverse onus clauses and the accused/defendant cannot be expected to discharge an unduly high standard or proof. In the absence of compelling justifications, reverse onus clauses usually impose an evidentiary burden and not a persuasive burden. Keeping this in view, it is a settled position that when an accused has to rebut the presumption under Section 139, the standard of proof for doing so is that of `preponderance of probabilities'. Therefore, if the accused is able to raise a probable defence which creates doubts about the existence of a legally enforceable debt or liability, the prosecution can fail. As clarified in the citations, the accused can rely on the materials submitted by the complainant in order to raise such a defence and it is conceivable that in some cases the accused may not need to adduce evidence of his/her own.[Para No.14]

Suit for injuction simpliciter is maintainable when plaintiff is in lawful or peaceful possession of property

A person out of possession, cannot seek the relief of injunction simpliciter, without claiming the relief of possession


If two persons claim to be in possession of a vacant site, one who is able to establish title thereto will be considered to be in possession, as against the person who is not able to establish title.


    The general principles as to when a mere suit for permanent injunction will lie, and when it is necessary to file a suit for declaration and/or possession with injunction as a consequential relief, are well settled. We may refer to them briefly.[Para No.11]

Suit for injuction simpliciter is maintainable when plaintiff is in lawful or peaceful possession of property
    Where a plaintiff is in lawful or peaceful possession of a property and such possession is interfered or threatened by the defendant, a suit for an injunction simpliciter will lie. A person has a right to protect his possession against any person who does not prove a better title by seeking a prohibitory injunction. But a person in wrongful possession is not entitled to an injunction against the rightful owner.[Para No.11.1]

    Where the title of the plaintiff is not disputed, but he is not in possession, his remedy is to file a suit for possession and seek in addition, if necessary, an injunction. A person out of possession, cannot seek the relief of injunction simpliciter, without claiming the relief of possession.[Para No.11.2]

09 September 2020

Complaint u/s. 138 of N.I. Act for cheque bounce is maintainable if cheque is presented and gets dishonoured for the second time after the period of first demand notice is expired

The expression ‘cause of action’ appearing in Section 142 (b) of the Act cannot therefore be understood to be limited to any given requirement out of the three requirements that are mandatory for launching a prosecution on the basis of a dishonoured cheque. Having said that<, every time a cheque is presented in the manner and within the time stipulated under the proviso to Section 138 followed by a notice within the meaning of clause (b) of proviso to Section 138 and the drawer fails to make the payment of the amount within the stipulated period of fifteen days after the date of receipt of such notice, a cause of action accrues to the holder of the cheque to institute proceedings for prosecution of the drawer.[Para No.20]

    There is, in our view, nothing either in Section 138 or Section 142 to curtail the said right of the payee, leave alone a forfeiture of the said right for no better reason than the failure of the holder of the cheque to institute prosecution against the drawer when the cause of action to do so had first arisen. Simply because the prosecution for an offence under Section 138  must on the language of Section 142 be instituted within one month from the date of the failure of the drawer to make the payment does not in our view militate against the accrual of multiple causes of action to the holder of the cheque upon failure of the drawer to make the payment of the cheque amount. In the absence of any juristic principle on which such failure to prosecute on the basis of the first default in payment should result in forfeiture, we find it difficult to hold that the payee would lose his right to institute such proceedings on a subsequent default that satisfies all the three requirements of Section 138.[Para No.21]

Complaint u/s. 138 of N.I. Act for cheque bounce is maintainable if cheque is presented and gets dishonoured for the second time after the period of first demand notice is expired
    That brings us to the question whether an offence punishable under Section 138 can be committed only once as held by this Court in Sadanandan Bhadran’s case (supra). The holder of a cheque as seen earlier can present it before a bank any number of times within the period of six months or during the period of its validity, whichever is earlier. This right of the holder to present the cheque for encashment carries with it a corresponding obligation on the part of the drawer to ensure that the cheque drawn by him is honoured by the bank who stands in the capacity of an agent of the drawer vis-Γ -vis the holder of the cheque. If the holder of the cheque has a right, as indeed is in the unanimous opinion expressed in the decisions on the subject, there is no reason why the corresponding obligation of the drawer should also not continue every time the cheque is presented for encashment if it satisfies the requirements stipulated in that clause (a) to the proviso to Section 138. There is nothing in that proviso to even remotely suggest that clause (a) would have no application to a cheque presented for the second time if the same has already been dishonoured once. Indeed if the legislative intent was to restrict prosecution only to cases arising out of the first dishonour of a cheque nothing prevented it from stipulating so in clause (a) itself. In the absence of any such provision a dishonour whether based on a second or any successive presentation of a cheque for encashment would be a dishonour within the meaning of Section 138 and clause (a) to proviso thereof. We have, therefore, no manner of doubt that so long as the cheque remains unpaid it is the continuing obligation of the drawer to make good the same by either arranging the funds in the account on which the cheque is drawn or liquidating the liability otherwise. It is true that a dishonour of the cheque can be made a basis for prosecution of the offender but once, but that is far from saying that the holder of the cheque does not have the discretion to choose out of several such defaults, one default, on which to launch such a prosecution. The omission or the failure of the holder to institute prosecution does not, therefore, give any immunity to the drawer so long as the cheque is dishonoured within its validity period and the conditions precedent for prosecution in terms of the proviso to Section 138 are satisfied.[Para No.22]

05 September 2020

Information given by the accused u/s.27 of Evidence Act can not be lead in evidence if it is in respect of discovery of fact that has already been discovered

Another elementary statutory breach which we notice in record-ing the evidence of the above witnesses is that of Section 27 of the Evidence Act. 
Information given by the accused u/s.27 of Evidence Act can not be lead in evidence if it is in respect of discovery of fact that has already been discovered
Evidence was led through the above three police witnesses that in consequence of information received from the three appellants on June 30, 1992 they discovered the place where the dead body of Khurshid was thrown. As already noticed, the dead body of Khurshid was recovered on June 27, 1992 and therefore the question of discovery of the place where it was thrown thereafter could not arise. Under Section 27 of the Evidence Act if an information given by the accused leads to the discovery of a fact which is the direct outcome of such information then only it would be evidence but when the fact has already been discovered as in the instant case the evidence could not be led in respect thereof.[Para No.17]

02 September 2020

Laws are deemed to apply prospectively unless expressly specified to apply retrospectively

Per contra, the respondent would urge that in the fact situation of the present case, the department has correctly levied the customs duty, as the DTA sales made were in contravention of the EXIM policy and the appellant had no permission from the Development Commissioner to clear the goods in DTA. The respondent further urged that the amendment seeks to bring about a substantive change, whilst pointing out that the CBEC Circular in its opening paragraph speaks about “carrying out” the amendment. Further, the amendment must be applied prospectively. Reliance is placed upon the decision of this Court in Union of India & Anr. vs. IndusInd Bank Limited & Anr. , wherein it has been held that if the provision is remedial in nature, it cannot be construed as clarificatory or declaratory and has to be applied prospectively.[Para No.8]

    The issues that arise for consideration in this appeal are: (i) Whether customs duty can be charged on the non­excisable goods produced in India and sold in DTA by an EOU?; and (ii) Whether the amendment in terms of Notification No. 56/01­Cus dated 18.05.2001, purporting to amend the criteria for determination of duty on inputs, is prospective or retrospective in its application?[Para No.10]

    Moving to the second question, the show cause notice was issued to the appellant prior to the issuance of the amendment notification. In this backdrop, let us now examine the contention of the appellant that the amendment notification being retrospective in its application. The relevant portion of the said notification is reproduced hereunder:
“NOTIFICATION NO. 56 /2001­CUS DATED 18.5.2001 In exercise of the powers conferred by sub­section (1) of section 25 of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962), the Central Government being satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, hereby directs that each of the notifications of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue), specified in column (2) of the Table hereto annexed shall be amended or further amended, as the case may be, in the manner specified in the corresponding entry in column (3) of the said Table.
TABLE Sr.No Notification No. Amendment and Date (1) (2) (3) xxx Xxx xxx
8. 126/94­Cus In the said notification,­ dated the 3rd June, 1994
(a) in the first paragraph, in condition (6), after clause (d), the following shall be inserted, namely:­ " (e) permit destruction of rejects and waste without payment of duty within the unit, or outside the said unit, where it is not possible or permissible to destroy the same within the said unit, in the presence of Customs or Central Excise officer.";
(b) in paragraph 2, in the proviso, for the words and figures "duty of 15% ad valorem", the words and figure "duty of 5% ad valorem" shall be substituted;
(c) in paragraph 3, in clause
(a), for the words "on payment of customs duty on the said goods used for the purpose of production, manufacture or packaging of such articles in an amount equal to the customs duty leviable on such articles as if imported as such.", the following shall be substituted, namely:­ "customs duty equal in amount to that leviable on inputs obtained under this notification and used for the purpose of production, manufacture or packaging of such articles, which would have been paid, but for the exemption under this notification, shall be payable at the time of clearance of such articles......
[Para No.23]

Laws are deemed to apply prospectively unless expressly specified to apply retrospectively
   As can be seen, the aforesaid notification posits of carrying out amendments and substituting the charging clause of the inputs used in case of non­excisable goods. The language employed in the notification does not offer any guidance on whether the amendments as made were to apply prospectively or retrospectively. It is a settled proposition of law that all laws are deemed to apply prospectively unless either expressly specified to apply retrospectively or intended to have been done so by the legislature. The latter would be a case of necessary implication and it cannot be inferred lightly.[Para No.24]

01 September 2020

Trial is not vitiated if investigation is conducted by the informant/police officer who himself is the complainant

Now we consider the relevant provisions of the Cr. P. C. with respect to the investigation.

    Section 154 Cr.P.C. provides that every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction.

    Section 156 Cr.P.C. provides that any officer in charge of a police station may investigate any cognizable offence without the order of a Magistrate. It further provides that 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. Therefore, as such, a duty is cast on an officer in charge of a police station to reduce the information in writing relating to commission of a cognizable offence and thereafter to investigate the same.

    Section 157 Cr.P.C. specifically provides that if, from information received or otherwise, an officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence which he is empowered under Section 156 to investigate, he shall forthwith send a report of the same to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence upon a police report and shall proceed in person to the spot to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender.

Trial is not vitiated if investigation is conducted by the informant/police officer who himself is the complainant
    Therefore, considering Section 157 Cr.P.C., either on receiving the information or otherwise (may be from other sources like secret information, from the hospital, or telephonic message), it is an obligation cast upon such police officer, in charge of a police station, to take cognizance of the information and to reduce into writing by himself and thereafter to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case, and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender. Take an example, if an officer in charge of a police station passes on a road and he finds a dead body and/or a person being beaten who ultimately died and there is no body to give a formal complaint in writing, in such a situation, and when the said officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence, he has to reduce the same in writing in the form of an information/complaint. In such a situation, he is not precluded from further investigating the case. He is not debarred to conduct the investigation in such a situation. It may also happen that an officer in charge of a police station is in the police station and he receives a telephonic message, may be from a hospital, and there is no body to give a formal complaint in writing, such a police officer is required to reduce the same in writing which subsequently may be converted into an FIR/complaint and thereafter he will rush to the spot and further investigate the matter. There may be so many circumstances like such. That is why, Sections 154, 156 and 157 Cr.P.C. come into play.[Para No.9]

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]

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]

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]

20 August 2020

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.

11 August 2020

Accused can use prosecution's evidence to establish his defence without adducing his evidence

In Periasami and Another v. State of T.N.; 1996 (6) SCC 457, accused, two in number, were alleged to have attacked the deceased. Though the Sessions Judge acquitted the accused, the High Court convicted the two appellants under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and another accused under Section 324 IPC. This Court found that the injuries were caused by the appellant with lethal weapons. Dealing with the contention that offence would not be above 304 Part I, the Court noted that though the right of private defence was not set up under Section 313 Cr.PC., absence of such a plea would not stand in the way of the defence based on the exception being set up was the contention taken by the appellant. The Court noted as follows:
“17. While dealing with the said alternative contention we have to bear in mind Section 105 of the Evidence Act, 1872. A rule of burden of proof is prescribed therein that the burden is on the accused to prove the existence of circumstances bringing the case within any of the exceptions “and the Court shall presume the absence of such circumstances”. The said rule does not whittle down the axiomatic rule of burden (indicated in Section 101) that the prosecution must prove that the accused has committed the offence charged against. The traditional rule that it is for prosecution to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt applies in all criminal cases except where any particular statute prescribes otherwise. The legal presumption created in Section 105 with the words “the Court shall presume the absence of such circumstances” is not intended to displace the aforesaid traditional burden of the prosecution. It is only where the prosecution has proved its case with reasonable certainty that the court can rest on the presumption regarding absence of circumstances bringing the case within any of the exceptions. This presumption helps the court to determine on whom is the burden to prove facts necessary to attract the exception and an accused can discharge the burden by “preponderance of probabilities” unlike the prosecution. But there is no presumption that an accused is the aggressor in every case of homicide. If there is any reasonable doubt, even from the prosecution evidence, that the aggressor in the occurrence was not the accused but would have been the deceased party, then benefit of that reasonable doubt has to be extended to the accused, no matter he did not adduce any evidence in that direction.
18. The above legal position has been succinctly stated by Subbarao, J. (as he then was) in a case where an accused pleaded the exception under Section 84 IPC (Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakkar v. State of Gujarat [AIR 1964 SC 1563 : (1964) 2 Cri LJ 472]):
“The prosecution, therefore, in a case of homicide shall prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused caused death with the requisite intention described in Section 299 of the Penal Code, 1860. This general burden never shifts and it always rests on the prosecution. … If the material placed before the court, such as, oral and documentary evidence, presumptions, admissions or even the prosecution evidence, satisfies the test of ‘prudent man’ the accused will have discharged his burden. The evidence so placed may not be sufficient to discharge the burden under Section 105 of the Evidence Act, but it may raise a reasonable doubt in the mind of a Judge as regards one or other of the necessary ingredients of the offence itself.”[Para No.11]

    We, therefore, have no hesitation in holding that a statement made by the accused under Section 313 Cr.PC even it contains inculpatory admissions cannot be ignored and the Court may where there is evidence available proceed to enter a verdict of guilt. In the aforesaid case he specifically stated that he murdered his wife with a Kunda and not with Phali. The Court noted further that there was no merit in the defence sought to be set up under Section 84 of the penal code. However, the Court noted as follows:
16. …..However, we have noticed that the accused had adopted another alternative defence which has been suggested during cross-examination of prosecution witnesses i.e. his wife and PW 2 (Ramey) were together on the bed during the early hours of the date of occurrence. If that suggestion deserves consideration we have to turn to the question whether the benefit of Exception I to Section 300 of the IPC should be extended to him?
Accused can use prosecution's evidence to establish his defence without adducing his evidence
17. The law is that burden of proving such an exception is on the accused. But the mere fact that the accused adopted another alternative defence during his examination under Section 313 of the CrPC without referring to Exception I of Section 300 of IPC is not enough to deny him of the benefit of the exception, if the Court can cull out materials from evidence pointing to the existence of circumstances leading to that exception. It is not the law that failure to set up such a defence would foreclose the right to rely on the exception once and for all. It is axiomatic that burden on the accused to prove any fact can be discharged either through defence evidence or even through prosecution evidence by showing a preponderance of probability.
18. In the above context, we deem it useful to ascertain what possibly would have prompted the accused to kill his wife. The prosecution case as noted above, is that the accused was not well- disposed to his wife as she was always speaking against his drinking habits. We are inclined to think that, while considering the manner in which he had suddenly pounced upon his young wife who bore two children to him and smashed her head during the early hours, he would have had some other strong cause which probably would have taken place within a short time prior to the murder. Certain broad features looming large in evidence help us in that line of thinking.”[Para No.14]
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