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SETTLING SCORES… AMICABLY

GAGANDEEP SINGH

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Three words, as Black’s Law Dictionary explains, would be essential to define for they assume heightened significance during the course of the article.

Incarceration- Imprisonment or even confinement in a jail or penitentiary, the latter being the North American connotation of a place where persons are confined for committing serious crimes.

Compromise– An arrangement arrived at, either in Court or out of Court, for settling a dispute upon what appears to the parties to be equitable terms, having regard to the uncertainty they are in regarding the facts, or the law and the facts together.

Discretion– Power or privilege of the Court to act unhampered by legal rule. Additionally, judicial discretion means discretion bounded by the rules and principles of law, and not arbitrary, capricious, or unrestrained.

As soon as a crime comes to light, law is set in motion. Tempers run high. ‘Retribution’ becomes the buzz word. Lawyers grasp years old digests from their bookshelves which now find a place right on their work desk, dusted and wiped. The victim or his kin fear to approach the police at first, but the thought of being in a utopian world where it is believed that justice is quick, accessible and attainable crosses their mind and they decide to lodge a complaint/FIR. The accused is looking for shelter, hurtling helter-skelter trying his best to evade the law. Meanwhile, his quest for finding the best attorney who can save him from the mayhem also continues.

In all of this, while both sides are hustling, hopping from court to court, attending hearings and awaiting fair play, suddenly they come to realize that it has been long since the pandemonium started. Hearings have continued for long. The victim feels his sufferings are aggravating and the final decision is not in sight anytime soon. The accused is tired of running from the law and when he is caught, he is tired of spending time behind bars awaiting his exoneration, his tenure in prison lying carefully on the bedrock of his lawyer’s assurances. Even the lawyers now begin to go easy on the case for new cases are now filling their desks. Those case files that once assumed a dominant position on their desk are now accumulating dust for they are victims of frequent adjournments.

At this stage, the parties decide to settle. They compromise the matter thinking it is best to settle on mutual terms so that both parties can part ways and begin afresh.

Most term a compromise as discontinuation of long drawn litigation for they are imbued with hope that curtains will be drawn over matters in which the parties have arrived at a suitable arrangement, amicably.

Generally, accused persons are quick to settle for an arrangement to end disputes or even alleged disputes, for incarceration may mean ignominy, even though for victims of crime, it may mean vengeance. For an undertrial however, it would, besides being a travesty of justice, be a situation where he would be constrained to remain confined within the four walls of a dingy cell even though the victim has granted his/her stamp of approval for his discharge from criminal proceedings.

The discomfiture that accompanies arrest, be it at the pre-conviction stage or post-conviction stage cannot be turned a blind eye to. A great deal of humiliation, ignominy and even disgrace is associated with arrest. In fact, it is indubitable that arrest of a person may result in serious consequences not only for the accused but even for the kin and sometimes even for the entire community to which such person belongs. Truth be told, a lot many sections of the society hardly carve out a distinction between pre-conviction arrest and arrest post conviction.

Liberty from incarceration is a matter of discretion for a Court of Law. These Courts exercise judicial discretion while quashing criminal proceedings, as the law rests on the sound belief that those who decide such cases base their decisions on sound foundations of law. It may be added that discretion, if unbridled, can result in grave consequences. The key to achieve ends of justice is that judicial discretion must be reasonably guided by judicial principles. Relief, when being granted by a Court, must be granted or withheld in the facts and circumstances of every matter, for a straitjacket formula would tend to do more harm than good.

There is no gainsaying that a lot of progress has been made in the domain of quashing criminal proceedings pursuant to a compromise, so much so that Courts have deemed it apposite to quash proceedings arising out of even those offences that are not expressly permissible under law, more particularly under Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘Cr.P.C.’). Precedents even lay down the kind of offences that ought to be considered for quashing and those that may not warrant cancellation, specifically the ones that are considered as crimes against the society or those that are grave and heinous. This progress has indeed turned the approach of our criminal justice system to expedite disposal of cases for even a day’s delay can be understood to mean a day’s lack of progress.

Nonetheless, a sizeable amount of clarity is required on other factors that ought to weigh in while quashing criminal proceedings against an accused. These may range from the number of pending cases against him to the quantum of punishment involved in previous convictions, if any; the impact of heinous offences already committed or alleged to be committed by an accused on the quashing of proceedings for somewhat less heinous offences, etc. These factors, if outlined, can markedly help in exercise of discretion, deciding whether incarceration is warranted after a compromise has been entered into.

Mention of a few judgments confirming the scope of the quashing criminal proceedings might be fruitful.

A Full Bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana rendered a much acclaimed decision in the matter titled Kulwinder Singh and Others vs. State of Punjab, 2007 (3) RCR (Criminal) 1052, wherein, the Court, while revisiting the scope of Section 482 of Cr.P.C. and reaffirming its powers therein, laid down certain categories of cases by way of illustration wherein the extraordinary power of the Court either under Article 226 of the Constitution of India or the inherent powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. could be exercised so as to, inter alia, prevent the abuse of power and secure the ends of justice. It also, most significantly, even held that the power under Section 482 was notwithstanding any other provision in Cr.P.C. The Court, while making observations held that the settlement or compromise on the basis of which quashing of criminal proceedings are sought, must satisfy the conscience of the Court. However, there was little observation with respect to the factors which must be kept in mind while quashing criminal proceedings pursuant to a compromise, apart from only delineating the list of offences qualified to be quashed.

Adverting to further precedents, another judgment rendered by a Full Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Gian Singh vs. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303; dissected Section 482 of Cr.P.C. and upheld three of its previous decisions of quashing FIRs, namely:

• B.S. Joshi and Others vs. State of Haryana and Another; 2003 (2) RCR (Criminal) 888: This was a case of matrimonial discord wherein an FIR was registered under Section 498-A, 323 and 406 of the Indian Penal Code (‘IPC’) at the instance of the wife. Consequently, the matter stood settled on the basis of a compromise. Even though the High Court refused to quash the FIR on the ground that the offences were non-compoundable, the Apex Court quashed the FIR on the reasoning that the High Court, in exercise of its inherent powers, could quash the FIR and Section 320 of the Cr.P.C. did not limit or affect the powers under Section 482 of the Code.

• Nikhil Merchant vs. Central Bureau of Investigation and Another; (2008) 9 SCC 677: In this matter involving default in repayment of loans, the bank proceeded to file a suit for recovery and even a complaint against the erring company under various provisions of the law. Be that as it may, the matter came to be settled upon consensual terms and the suit was withdrawn. The Hon’ble Supreme Court, setting aside the order of the Bombay High Court, proceeded to quash the criminal complaint against the accused in the case for it held that the dispute involved there displayed overtones of a dispute of civil nature having criminal facets and as such, it was a fit case where technicality should not be allowed to stand in the way of quashing criminal proceedings.

• Manoj Sharma vs. State and Others; (2008) 16 SCC 1: In this matter, the Apex Court was concerned with the question whether FIR under certain sections of the IPC which were otherwise non compoundable could be quashed either under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The Hon’ble Court proceeded to hold that continuation of criminal proceedings would be an exercise in futility and resultantly, quashed the same.

Again, even in Gian Singh’s case (supra), there was little discussion on other factors that could affect the decision of quashing criminal proceedings on the basis of a compromise other than discussing the type of offences that were outside the ambit of Section 320 of the Cr.P.C. though could be compounded.

This leaves a pertinent question ticking in the minds of advocates and legal aficionados alike- does discretionary power to rescind criminal proceedings offers wide powers to do so even when the accused is, amongst other factors, undergoing trial in other criminal cases and/or is a habitual offender and/or has a past record of committing crime? How far is past conduct helpful in quashing a particular criminal proceeding which already stands compromised?

It is firmly established that no offence can be compounded if the accused is, by reason of a previous conviction, liable either to enhanced punishment or to a punishment of a different kind for such offence. Barring such exception, a previously pending case or even past convictions should not come in the way of quashing criminal proceedings, especially when at the core of our criminal jurisprudence lies a simple yet concretised principle i.e. bail is the rule, jail is the exception.

Mention at this stage may be made of a case titled The State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Dhruv Gurjar and Another, (2019) 5 SCC 570; wherein the Apex Court held that the antecedents of the accused is a serious consideration while quashing criminal proceedings, even on the basis of compromise. The Hon’ble Court held that in the event when parties to a criminal proceeding have settled the manner pursuant thereto, a quashing petition is filed, the twin guiding factors in such cases would be to either secure the ends of justice or so as to prevent the abuse of process of Court. Where in this case the Court was dealing with a matter where serious offences such as Section 307 of the IPC were involved and was deciding the validity of an order quashing criminal proceedings based on a compromise, the Hon’ble Supreme Court set aside such Order and held that in a case where the accused had a past record of criminal proceedings against them, the Courts, in this case the High Court, ought to have been more vigilant and ought to have considered relevant facts and circumstances under which the accused got the settlement entered into.

A Three-Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in The State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Laxmi Narayan and Others, (2019) 5 SCC 688; while dealing with the question of quashing criminal disputes pursuant to a compromise between the parties, observed, inter alia, thatwhile exercising the power under Section 482 of the Code to quash criminal proceedings in respect of non-compoundable offences which are private in nature and do not have a serious impact on society on the ground that there is a settlement/compromise between the victim and the offender, the High Court is required to consider the antecedents of the accused; the conduct of the accused, namely, whether the accused was absconding and why he was absconding, how he had managed with the complainant to enter into a compromise etc.

In both Dhruv Gurjar’s case and Laxmi Narayan’s case (supra), some amount of observations with respect to the importance of the antecedents of the accused were made, though no detailed guidelines in that regard were issued.

Be that as it may, frequent delays in compromised matters to find details of previously continuing and/or completed proceedings against the accused on a tepid belief that such details will undermine the compromise are not only prejudicial to the right of the accused but also cause undue harassment to the victim whose entire idea behind compromising the dispute was to put an end to continuous litigation.

Except crimes of heinous nature, crimes that are compromised on the basis of settlement that satisfies the conscience of the Court ought to be compromised without placing substantive reliance on antecedents of the accused, especially when the same would have no bearing on that particular criminal proceeding that forms the basis of consideration for the Court for the purpose of quashing.

Suffice it to say, the quashing of one criminal proceeding pursuant to a settlement would neither disrupt the course of trial in other cases nor would it prejudice the same. In fact, such action would be in the interest of parties and would go a long way in bringing litigation to an end.

Quashing criminal proceedings upon a compromise also becomes essential in light of the country’s unchanged condition of prisons. A country that took years to cast off the British Raj so it could function independently still has a statute as old as 1894 guiding the administration of prisons- Prisons Act. Frequent tortures faced by undertrial people at the hands of powerful men dominating prisons, custodial deaths, mental traumas and even occasional disappearance of people from prisons for reasons mostly mysterious are some of the features of prisons. In such a case, for an accused to carry on being in jail at a time when the victim is hasty to compromise the case not only appears to be a infringement of the rights of the accused envisaged in the Constitution of India but is also seemingly miscarriage of justice, if nothing more.

Even it is to be viewed from the perception of the victim, it would be of little concern to him even if previous cases are pending against the accused or if the accused has been previously convicted, as for the victim, the purpose behind settlement is to make himself scarce from the labyrinth of ongoing proceedings. Given the frequent deferment in long ongoing trials, the victim does not wish to now become a party to a convoluted system where application(s), appeal(s) and revision(s) continue to slow down the trial further exacerbating his woes. He would, in such a situation, find ways to work out a resolution with the accused so that he may leave his past behind and advance ahead towards better avenues and brighter paths.

Absence of interference of the Courts in such cases would involve the parties tending to play tricks upon the Courts thus ensuring that the accused is acquitted by subverting the administration of criminal justice. Such a conduct would never be in the interest of justice and as such, quashing on the basis of compromise would be warranted ex debito justitiae.

Among the numerous judgments underscoring the powers of the Court under Section 482, only a few indicate that previous conduct/pending cases have a bearing while quashing criminal proceedings on the basis of settlement.

However, the question of gravity of such impact and whether such considerations can have a decisive impact while allowing a compromise is a subject on which much needs to be debated upon, especially deeply probing issues such as the number of pending cases that decide the course of decision, the nature of previous convictions, the conduct of the accused while being in incarceration for other cases, pending or otherwise, etc. When such inquiries are answered, discretion is expected to become well balanced. Advocates would then have definitive provisions of law to cite and concrete decisions to rely upon while approaching the Court in the hope that incarceration of accused persons is truncated and justice intertwines with law.

Among the numerous judgements underscoring the powers of the court under Section 482, only a few indicate that previous conduct/pending cases have a bearing while quashing criminal proceedings on the basis of settlement. However, the question of gravity of such impact and whether such considerations can have a decisive impact while allowing a compromise is a subject on which much needs to be debated upon, especially deeply probing issues such as the number of pending cases that decide the course of decision, the nature of previous convictions, the conduct of the accused while being in incarceration for other cases, pending or otherwise, etc.

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Legally Speaking

NCLAT: Withdrawal Of Resolution Plan Will Have Disastrous Effect.

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NCLAT: Withdrawal Of Resolution Plan Will Have Disastrous Effect.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in the case Shardha Buildcon Pvt. Ltd v. The Dhar Textile Mills Ltd, the bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Mr. Barun Mitra observed and has dismissed the appeal filed by the Resolution Applicant seeking permission to withdraw its resolution plan and held that allowing withdrawal of a resolution plan will be having serious disastrous effect on the whole purpose of the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

Before the NCLAT, the appellant filled an appeal against the order dated 21.07.2022 passed by NCLT Indore which relying upon the judgment of Supreme Court in the case Ebix v. Educomp dismissed the application filed by the Appellant wherein seeking for the withdrawal of the resolution plan.

The Appellant contended that the judgement of Ebix is not applicable as the same deals with the cases where the Corporate Debtor has undergone changes but in the present case, wherein the Appellant is seeking withdrawal due to the financial difficulty that is being faced by the Appellant.

The argument of the Appellant was rejected by the bench and has held that even if the Appellant is allowed to withdraw from the plan due to financial difficulty and the same will be amounting to go back from the commitment made in the resolution plan which is not permissible.

The bench observed that the IBC is process consists of different steps with a ultimate object of reviving the Corporate Debtor. Thus, permitting Successful Resolution Applicant to withdraw after the Plan has been approved will have serious disastrous effect on whole purpose and object of IBC.

Accordingly, the NCLAT bench dismissed the appeal filed by the Appellant and has upheld the order of NCLT, Indore.

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Supreme Court: Order Of Termination Approved By Industrial Tribunal Is Binding On Parties, Labour Court Can’t Take Contrary View.

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SUPREME COURT

T

he Supreme Court of India in the case Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation vs Bharat Singh Jhala (Dead) Son of Shri Nathu Singh, through Legal Heirs & Anr observed that the that an order of termination approved by an Industrial Tribunal is binding on the parties and a Labour Court cannot take a contrary view against it.

The bench comprising of Justice MR Shah and Justice Krishna Murari observed and has stated that once the order of termination was approved by the Industrial Tribunal on appreciation of the evidence led before it, thereafter it was stated that the findings recorded by the Industrial Tribunal were binding between the parties and no contrary view could have been taken by the Labour Court contrary to the findings being recorded by the Industrial Tribunal.

However, the court was considering an appeal plea by the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation.

The bench observed that a workman was subjected to departmental enquiry for not issuing tickets to 10 passengers after collecting the fare. Thus, on conclusion of the departmental enquiry, his services were terminated. The termination was the subject matter of the approval application before the Industrial Tribunal in an application under Section 33(2)(b) of the Industrial Act. In the said proceedings, it was permitted by the management to lead the evidence and prove the charge/misconduct before the Tribunal. By order, the Tribunal approved the order of termination.

It was observed that after a judgment and an award in 2019, the Labour Court, Jaipur allowed the said reference and set aside the order of termination. An order was passed by the Labour Court while awarding 50% back wages from the date of termination till his death i.e., December 10, 2018. The Award and the judgement passed by the Labour Court was challenged before both, Single and Division Benches of the High Court. However, the petitions were dismissed both the times.

The Court observed after going through the relevant facts of the case that once the order of termination was approved by the Industrial Tribunal, thereafter the fresh reference under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, wherein challenging the order of termination was not permissible.

Adding to it, the court stated that though it is required to be noted that the order dated 21.07.2015 passed by the Industrial Tribunal which as such is a higher forum than the finality has been attained by the Labour Court.

Before the High Court, though the aforesaid fact was pointed out, the court did not consider this aspect and confirmed the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court for setting aside the order of termination, which has been approved by the Industrial Tribunal. 

It was held by the Supreme Court that the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court, confirmed by the High Court is unsustainable and allowed the appeal plea.

It has been committed by the High Court that a very serious error in dismissing the writ petition/writ appeal confirming the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court setting aside the order of termination.

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‘Attempt To Threaten Judges With Contempt Pleas Unacceptable’ : Madhya Pradesh High Court

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‘Attempt To Threaten Judges With Contempt Pleas Unacceptable’ : Madhya Pradesh High Court

 While fully, firmly and finally deprecating most strongly the most reprehensible practice of bringing “every wrong order” that is passed by the Trial Courts under the contempt jurisdiction, it is most assuaging to learn that none other than the Madhya Pradesh High Court itself has in a most laudable, learned, landmark and latest judgment titled Majid Beg and Ors vs Shri Tej Pratap Singh in Contempt Petition Civil No. 1987 of 2022 pronounced as recently as on September 20, 2022 observed sternly that trying to threaten judges with contempt pleas will not be accepted. It must be noted that while very strongly pulling up four litigants for making ‘reckless allegations’ against a Trial Court Judge, a Division Bench comprising of none other than the Hon’ble Mr Chief Justice Ravi Malimath himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Vishal Mishra observed without mincing any words in simple, straightforward and suave language that, “…We deprecate such attitude. We do not appreciate that every wrong order passed by the Trial Court is to be brought under contempt and the concerned judge has to be proceeded against trying to threaten the judges with petitions for contempt, in our considered view, is not going to be accepted.” Absolutely right!

More to the point : If Judges cannot function smoothly, then even God cannot save our country for it is Judges who determine God’s fate. As for instance when a woman lawyer named KL Chitra filed a PIL in Supreme Court for action to create a High Court Bench in West UP, the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi had very clearly said that we are no one to rule on this and it is only for the Centre to act in this regard. While adding a rider, the then CJI Gogoi said that he fully sympathized with the contentions that the people of so many districts of West UP are made to travel so far about 700 to 750 km on average all the way not even to Lucknow which is 200 km earlier but right till Allahabad to get justice. KL Chitra abided by that judgment instead of beating her chest and complaining and accusing Judge of being biased which really deserves to be applauded as inspite of losing the case as her PIL was dismissed yet she took it in correct spirit that judiciary whether it is UP Chief Justice or UP Chief Minister or Chief Justice of India is no one to rule on this and it is Centre and Centre alone which has to take the final call on it!   

Anyway, coming back to the key issue, it must be noted at the outset itself that this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by Hon’ble Mr Chief Justice Ravi Malimath for a Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Vishal Mishra sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “This petition is filed seeking initiation of proceedings for contempt against the respondent herein for willfully disobeying the order dated 9th July, 2022 passed in Miscellaneous Criminal Case No.27507 of 2022.”

To put things in perspective, the Division Bench then envisages in para 2 of this learned judgment that, “Shri Vishal Vincent Rajendra Daniel, learned counsel for the petitioners contends that the respondent has violated the aforesaid order. He submits that the order passed by this Court in paragraph-9 has been disobeyed. He submits that even though the impugned order therein dated 10.05.2022 was set aside, the trial judge is proceeding to recall the witnesses and record their evidence. It is his submission even though he brought it to the notice of the trial judge, he was told that there was no order to restrain him not to summon the witnesses. Therefore, in view of the fact that there is no specific order restraining him not to summon the witnesses, there is no disobedience of the aforesaid order. Therefore, it is pleaded that since the contempt has been committed in disobeying the directions contained in paragraph-9, appropriate action be taken against the respondent.”

While mentioning about the core issue itself, the Division Bench after hearing the petitioners counsel as mentioned in para 3 then enunciates in para 4 of this remarkable judgment that, “Paragraph-9 of the order, which is said to have been disobeyed by the respondent reads as follows:-

“9. Therefore, in view of the above, present petition is allowed. Order dated 10.05.2022, passed by the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Seoni is set aside and learned Chief Judicial Magistrate is directed to decide the matter afresh after granting an opportunity of hearing to the petitioners/accused and to raise all such objections as are available to them, in accordance with law. Criminal case is pending for more than 9 years. Therefore, learned CJM is expected to dispose of this case as early as possible preferably within a period of six months from the date of receipt of copy of this order.””

Furthermore, the Division Bench then specifies in para 5 of this robust judgment that, “It is the further plea that the trial judge has stated that there was no order passed by the High Court directing him not to recall any of the witnesses. What was ordered by the High Court was to decide the matter afresh after giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioners/accused etc. Therefore, what is being done by the trial judge is in accordance with the directions especially given in paragraph-9. Hence, there is no contempt.”

Most forthrightly, the Division Bench then mandates in para 6 of this pragmatic judgment that, “On considering the contentions, we are of the considered view that no contempt would arise in this matter. There is no specific order directing the trial court not to summon the witnesses or anything of the like nature. This Court after setting aside the order dated 10.05.2022 which is an order under Section 311 of the Cr.P.C., directed the CJM to decide the matter afresh after granting opportunity. ‘Afresh’ necessarily means from the beginning. Opportunity has already been granted. Therefore, we do not find any willful disobedience as pleaded by the petitioners. Hence, the petition is liable to be dismissed on this ground itself.”

Most remarkably and also most significantly, the Division Bench then encapsulates in para 7 what constitutes the cornerstone of this notable judgment that, “So far as the contentions being advanced are concerned, we do not appreciate the same. Apparently, the plea of the petitioners is that in spite of the order of the Court, the trial judge has disobeyed the same. We have hereinabove held that the same does not amount to contempt. Every order that is passed by a superior court, is liable to be followed by the lower court. Even assuming the case of the petitioners is to be accepted of certain misapplication of the law, that does not amount to contempt. The understanding of the trial court is quite a different issue than disobedience. One has to show that the disobedience is willful to the orders passed by the superior courts. If there is any scope for any interpretation in the directions being issued then that cannot constitute a contempt. In the instant case, the impugned order therein was set aside with a direction to consider the matter afresh. Therefore, the trial court has to consider the matter afresh. As to how that amounts to contempt, we are unable to follow. Therefore, we are of the view that this is nothing but a pure adventurism by the petitioners in making such reckless allegations against the trial judge. We deprecate such attitude. We do not appreciate that every wrong order passed by the trial court is to be brought under contempt and the concerned judge has to be proceeded against. Trying to threaten the judges with petitions for contempt, in our considered view, is not going to be accepted. Since this matter is arising for the first occasion we have restrained ourselves from taking strict action but only direct a warning to the petitioners to desist from such adventurism.”

Finally, the Division Bench then as a corollary finds no hesitation in coming to the palpable conclusion as directed in para 8 of this progressive judgment that, “Petition is accordingly dismissed.”

In a nutshell, what inevitable conclusion that can be drawn from this most powerful, pragmatic and progressive judgment is that the Madhya Pradesh High Court has minced just no words to make it indubitably clear that any attempt to threaten Judges with contempt plea is totally unacceptable. There is absolutely no bona fide reason why any citizen of India should dare to differ even marginally with what the Division Bench comprising of none other than the Hon’ble Mr Chief Justice Ravi Malimath himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Vishal Mishra have dwelt upon so succinctly and so convincingly that there remains no valid reason not to agree in totality with what they have held so commendably!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate

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Supreme Court Sets HC Bail Condition Of Depositing Rs 7.5 Lakhs: Plea Seeking Pre-Arrest Bail Not Money Recovery Proceedings.

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Supreme Court Sets HC Bail Condition Of Depositing Rs 7.5 Lakhs: Plea Seeking Pre-Arrest Bail Not Money Recovery Proceedings.

The Supreme Court in the case Udho Thakur Vs State Of Jharkhand observed while opening that petitions seeking pre arrest bail are not same as money recovery proceedings petitions, the Top Court of India recently annulled a condition imposed by the Jharkhand High Court of depositing 7.5 Lakhs as “victim compensation” while granting pre-arrest bail.

The Division bench comprising of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Bela M Trivedi observed and stated that even if we take the submissions of the learned counsel for the contesting respondent on its face value, the bench is clearly of view that in essence, the petitions seeking relief of pre arrest bail are not money recovery proceedings and, ordinarily, for adopting such a course there is no jurisdiction that for the purpose of being given the concession of pre-arrest bail, the person concerned apprehending arrest has to make payment.

In the present case, the bench was considering an appeal plea filed challenging the order of the Jharkhand High Court granting pre-arrest bail to the appellants on the condition that they furnish a bond of Rs.25,000/- and deposit a demand draft Rs.7,50,000/- as an ad-interim victim compensation.

It was submitted by the counsel appearing for No. 2 submitted 1 that the expression “victim compensation” as used in the impugned order may not be apt as it was not a case of recovery of victim compensation, but otherwise, the condition cannot be said to be onerous or unjustified because receiving of the said sum of Rs. 7,50,000/- by the appellants at the time of marriage has not been a fact in dispute.

It was observed that the counsel appearing for the state government relied on several orders against imposing the terms of payment for the purpose of granting the relief of pre-arrest bail and remitting the matter for re-consideration.

The order of High Court was modified by the Court without remitting the matter back to the High Court.

The court observed while having regard to these circumstances that the said condition of depositing a sum of Rs.7,50,000/- for the purpose of granting the relief of pre-arrest bail cannot be approved and else and the order of granting bail deserves to be maintained. However, the court is of the view that no useful purpose would be served by sending the matter for reconsideration to the High Court and the order impugned deserves to be modified appropriately only in these appeals.

The order was clearly clarified by the Supreme Court of India in the manner-releasing the appellants on bail in the event of arrest on furnishing bond of Rs. 25,000/ will remain intact but on the other part of the order, the appellant require to deposit a sum of Rs. 7,50,000/- has been annulled.

Accordingly, with the aforesaid observation, the court disposed of the petition.

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Delhi High Court: [CPC] Objective Of Interrogatories Is To Narrow Controversy, Can’t Be Used By Plaintiff For Substituting Burden Of Proof.

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Delhi high court

The Delhi High Court in the case Micromax Media Pvt Ltd v. M/S Hewlett Packard India Sales Pvt Ltd and Ors. observed and stated that the interrogatories cannot be used by the plaintiff in a suit for substituting its burden of proving things by adducing relevant evidence, adding that its objective is to narrow the controversy and facilitate the framing of issues regarding the disputed facts in the case.

The bench comprising of Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed and has further added that Order 11 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 is for expediting trial of the suit, thereby saving the costs of litigation and judicial time.

The Court stated that the interrogatories must be used liberally by the parties and one of the greatest objects of the interrogatories when properly administered is to save evidence i.e., for diminishing the burden of proof which was otherwise on the plaintiff. Thus, the object is not merely to discover the facts but also to save the expense of proving a part on the case.

It was observed that Order XI Rule 1 of the Code states that the plaintiff or defendant in a suit may, by leave of the Court, deliver interrogatories in writing for examination of opposite parties or for any of the parties.

It is also stated in the provision that no party shall deliver more than one set of interrogatories to the same party without an order for the same.

It was observed by the court that interrogatories are not limited to giving plaintiff the knowledge of something which is not already known, but includes getting admission of anything which he has to prove on any issue raised between the defendant and him.

The court added that Order 11 gives a party a right to interrogate with a view to obtain an admission from his opponent of everything which is material and relevant to the issue raised in the pleadings.

In the present case, the court was delaing with an application filed under Order XI Rules 1 and 5 read with Section 151 of the Code by Micromax Media Private Limited seeking directions to make Hewlett Packard India Sales Private Limited officials to answer the interrogatories in the suit filled.

It was ststed in the application that the defendants in their Written Statement-cum-Counter Claim had admitted the entitlement of the plaintiff company to the MVC rebates and bonus for the period between December 2008 till June 2009.

However, Hewlett allegedly set off and raised a counter-claim of Rs. 5,69,00,000 against  Micromax claiming that it had received excess payments from the month of November 2007 to April 2009 which was discovered during the audit. The court was informed that no document was placed by the defendant company on the basis of which it was claiming excess payment.

The counsel appearing for the defendant company seek dismissal dismissal of the application by taking a preliminary objection that the company had nowhere admitted to the entitlements to the alleged MVC rebates.

Before the Court, it was also argued that the interrogatories sought to be administered to the defendants were nothing but a fishing expedition tantamounting to embarking on a roving enquiry.

Also, the court observed that the documents sought from the defendants, relating to their Counter-Claim, did not shorten the controversy or narrow the scope of evidence that the plaintiff would have to prove necessarily in support of its claim.

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No need for a NOC to transfer flats built on land leased to the developer: SC

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Supreme Court

The Maharashtra government cannot require a “no objection certificate” from the collector in order to register the transfer of flats in cooperative societies built on land not provided directly by the state, the Supreme Court ruled last week.

The Court was hearing a petition filed by the state government challenging a decision issued by the Bombay High Court on September 29, 2009, which held that the state could not insist on payment of a premium and the issuance of a NOC for registering the transfer of plots when there is clear evidence that the land was allotted first to builders who built flats and then sold it to purchasers. Following that, the owners formed a cooperative society.

The HC decision was based on a petition filed by Aspi Chinoy, a senior advocate in Mumbai, and the Cuffe Parade Residents Association, who were residents of the 22-story Jolly Maker Apartments.

The top court bench of justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna dismissed the state’s appeal on Friday, “Since the land was not allotted to a society but to a builder on lease, who has constructed flats for private individuals, who have subsequently formed a Cooperative Society, the 1983 Resolution and 1999 Resolution would not be applicable to the members of such a society.”

The state had relied on two resolutions, dated May 12, 1983 and July 9, 1999, to levy a premium as a condition for granting permission for flat transfers.

The Resolution of 1983 provided for the grant of land at reduced rates to various categories of co-operative societies.

Following the 1983 Resolution, the government issued a modified resolution in 1999 that applied to co-operative societies to whom government lands were sanctioned at reduced rates.

Chinoy had approached the HC, questioning the resolutions’ relevance to their plot. He had challenged the collector’s letter of June 27, 2000 to the sub-registrar, Bombay City, Old Custom House, directing him not to register any transaction involving the transfer of flats in the buildings located in B.B.R. Block Nos. 3 and 5, Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade, Bombay, without first obtaining a NOC from the collector.

According to the residents, their building dates back to 1971, when the state government solicited bids for the lease of Plot Nos.93, 94, 99, 100, and 121 from Block V Back Bay Reclamation Estate. In response to the notice, M/s. Aesthetic Builders Pvt. Ltd. successfully won the bid and completed the construction of flats. On December 12, 1975, the building’s occupancy certificate was issued. Two years later, the owners established the Varuna Premises Cooperative Society Limited.

The bench said, “The present case is not a case where the land is allotted to a co-operative society by the government. The land was leased out to the builder, who was the successful bidder and after the ownership of flats was transferred to the private individuals, a society of the flat owners was formed.” The judges also lifted the stay on the refund order issued by the Supreme Court.

Chinoy claimed that the flat in which he lives was first sold to A Madhavan in 1972 and then to Reshmidevi Agarwal in 1978.

Chinoy then entered the picture by signing an agreement with Agarwal in December 2020 in exchange for five shares in the society.

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