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Delhi Court Reduces Compensation in Fatal Motor Accident Claim Due to Contributory Negligence of Unlicensed Minor

Delhi Court Reduces Compensation in Fatal Motor Accident Claim Due to Contributory Negligence of Unlicensed Minor

Case title: SHRIRAM GENERAL INSURANCE CO LTD VS DEEPAK KUMAR & ORS

Case no.: MAC.APP. 992/2017

Dated on: 22nd   May 2024

Quorum:  Hon’ble MR. JUSTICE DHARMESH SHARMA.

FACTS OF THE CASE

The deceased-Kunal aged about 15 years, who was driving a Scooty bearing registration No. DL4SCD 9679, that was involved in an accident on 07.05.2016 at about 01:00 P.M., when he was hit by a TATA Truck-407 bearing registration No. DL-1LT-6310 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘offending vehicle’ for brevity) driven by respondent No.3/Chhote Lal, which was owned by respondent No.4/Ravinder Singh and duly insured for third party risks with the appellant/insurance company. The learned Tribunal vide issue No.1 found that the driver of the offending vehicle was at fault and it was his rash and negligent driving that led to the accident resulting in fatal injuries to the deceased-Kunal and thus, the claim petition filed by the claimants parents was allowed and the aforementioned compensation has been awarded to them. The impugned judgment-cum-award dated 04.09.2017 has been assailed in the present appeal, upon which, vide order dated 04.10.2018, a sum of Rs. 3,00,000/- was ordered to be released to the claimants-parents without prejudice.

 ISSUE

  1. Whether or not the driver of the offending vehicle was at fault?

LEGAL PROVISIONS

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988: This act governs various aspects related to motor vehicles, including licensing, insurance, and liability in case of accidents.

Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act: This section deals with the application for compensation arising out of accidents by victims or their legal representatives.

Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act: This section pertains to appeals against awards of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT

Mr. Sameer Nandwani, learned counsel for the appellant/ insurance company urged that the impugned judgment-cum-award is not sustainable on facts and law since the learned Tribunal failed to appreciate the fact that the deceased was 15 years of age and he did not have a valid driving license to drive a Scooty on a public road and he was not even wearing a Helmet. It was further submitted that even the registered owner of the Scooty, who is the respondent No.4 in the present appeal, was not made a party to the claim petition and that the learned Tribunal failed to consider the issue of contributory negligence on the part of the deceased.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS

Mr. Ghanshyam Thakur, learned counsel for the claimants-parents urged that there was a categorical finding by the learned Tribunal that the accident occurred due to rash and negligent driving by the driver of the offending vehicle, resulting into fatal injuries to the deceased, and thus, there arose no question of fastening the deceased with any fault.

 COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT

The appellant/insurance company has preferred the present appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 assailing the impugned judgment-cum-award dated 04.09.2017, passed by the learned Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (West-01), Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, whereby the claim petition under Section 166/140 of the MV Act filed by the parents (hereinafter referred to as the ‘claimants-parents’) of the deceased boy-Kunal, who was aged about 15 years, was allowed and they have been granted a total compensation of Rs. 10,19,640/- with interest @ 9% per annum from the date of filing of the petition till realization. The learned Tribunal vide issue No.1 found that the driver of the offending vehicle was at fault and it was his rash and negligent driving that led to the accident resulting in fatal injuries to the deceased-Kunal and thus, the claim petition filed by the claimants parents was allowed and the aforementioned compensation has been awarded to them. A careful perusal of the aforesaid reasoning given by the learned Tribunal would show that it relied upon the testimony of PW 2, who was a pillion rider on the Scooty at the time of the accident, who testified that he, along with the deceased-Kunal, had gone to purchase some cold drinks and when they reached Paschimpuri Chowk, New Delhi, the deceased took a turn towards the right with due care and caution when all of a sudden, the offending vehicle which was coming from the side of Paschim Vihar, driven at a fast pace and in a rash and negligent manner, hit their Scooty with great force and due to the heavy impact, they fell on the road and received serious injuries. In his cross-examination, PW-2 for the first time volunteered that the offending vehicle had hit their Scooty after jumping the red light, but then he also testified that he could not see the offending vehicle prior to the accident. However, he acknowledged the fact that the deceased was not wearing a Helmet at the time of the accident. A bald suggestion was given in the cross examination of PW-2 that it was the deceased who was guilty of negligence but without elaborating how or in what manner. In view of the aforesaid discussion, there is no gainsaying that the deceased was not possessing a valid driving license and he was also not wearing a Helmet, which might have saved his life. All said and done, while the evidence on the record does attribute some degree of fault on the part of the deceased too, this Court understands that children are children and they would at times drive around motor vehicles despite having no driving license, but then, it is the paramount duty of the parents to rein them and see that they do no perform such audacious acts which amounts to a violation of the law. Although unfortunately, a teenage life was lost at the age of 15 years, which must have caused a degree of pain and anguish to the claimants-parents, but then, it was their responsibility alone to teach their son and instill in him the respect for the law of the land. In view of the above discussion, attributing some contributory negligence on the part of the deceased too, the total amount of compensation should be reduced by 50%. Accordingly, the learned Tribunal awarded a total compensation of Rs. 10,19,640/- from the date of filing of the DAR9 / claim petition i.e. 14.09.2016 till realization. In view of this Court, it would be appropriate to award the compensation assessed as per the parameters laid down in the case of National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi10. During the relevant time, the minimum wages for a non-matriculate were Rs.10,582/- per month. Thus, assuming the notional income of the deceased boy to be Rs. 10,582/- plus enhancing the same by 40% towards loss of future prospects, the annual notional income comes to Rs. 1,77,778/-. Since the deceased was a boy aged about 15 years, 1/2nd is to be deducted towards personal use and living expenses. Further, considering that the deceased-Kunal was 15 years of age at the time of accident, the multiplier of is applied as per the decision in the case of Sarla Verma v. DTC11. Thus, total loss of financial dependency would come to Rs.16,00,002/-. Further, Rs.40,000/- is to be awarded to each of the parents towards loss of consortium besides Rs.15,000/- each towards funeral expenses and loss of estate. Thus, the total compensation works out to be Rs.17,10,002/-. The amount of Rs. 25,000/- deposited by the appellant/ insurance company towards statutory deposit for filing of the instant appeal be released in their favour. The present appeal stands disposed of accordingly.

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Judgement Reviewed by – HARIRAGHAVA JP

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Delhi High Court Rejects Writ Petition on Rehabilitation Post-Demolition by Delhi Development Authority: Delay and Laches Highlighted

Delhi High Court Rejects Writ Petition on Rehabilitation Post-Demolition by Delhi Development Authority: Delay and Laches Highlighted

Case title: MD. SHAMIM VS DELHI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (DDA) & ORS.

Case no.: W.P.(C) 3659/2023

Dated on: 22nd   May 2024

Quorum:  Hon’ble MR. JUSTICE DHARMESH SHARMA.

FACTS OF THE CASE

The genesis of the present petition lies in the petitioner’s claim that he is a daily wage labourer and had been residing in T-huts at Block A-70, Jhuggi No.770, Kanchan Puri, Rajghat Power House, New Delhi-02 since decades with his family. The petitioner claims that he has been holding a valid ration card, voter id card and a BPL card on the said address issued by the Government of India. Aiming at the Master Plan of Delhi 2021, the Delhi Development Authority was carrying out surveys since 1998 and areas were demarcated and individuals were identified for rehabilitation and resettlement, which process was completed in 2006, involving relocating the residents in exchange for the demolition of their existing dwellings, subject to the payment of a license fee. As part of this effort, the Petitioner was instructed to vacate the above-mentioned T-Huts for redevelopment and rehabilitation purposes. On 15.04.2006, the DDA issued an “Alternative Allotment cum- Demand Letter” to the petitioner, who claims that subsequent to such offer he demolished his T-huts and submitted the required documents along with an affidavit within the prescribed timeframe as per the letter’s directives and made a payment of Rs. 14,000/- to the respondent No. 1, which was duly acknowledged by them. However, despite receiving an advance license fee, the DDA/respondent No.1, who is the land-owning agency under Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, failed to fulfil its obligation to rehabilitate and re settle them by providing alternative housing. Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board/respondent No. 2 is the nodal agency for relocation/rehabilitation of Jhuggi Jhopri7 Bastis in respect of lands belonging to the NCT of Delhi, who is also the respondent No. 3 herein. Before filing the present writ petition, the petitioner claims that he visited the DDA office multiple times, running pillar to post, but to no avail. He also filed an RTI8 dated 05.02.2015 having office No. RTI/29/LM/EZ/15/91, in reply to which the petitioner received a letter from the DDA, stating that the no plot had been allotted against the said Jhuggi no. and that allotment would be done only to eligible Jhuggi residents by the constituted committee. On 31.03.2015, in response to the RTI application regarding information about the allocation of an alternative plot, the Deputy Director, PIO for Land and Management at DDA declined to provide the information, citing that it falls under the prohibition outlined under Section 11(3) of the RTI Act. It is stated that the petitioner, experiencing housing difficulties, made repeated visits to the respondent’s office in the year 2020, 2021, and 2022, yet did not receive any assistance, and therefore, they resorted to avail the legal remedy due to the inaction of the respondents through the present petition.

 ISSUES

  1. Whether the petition should be dismissed on the grounds of delay and laches, considering that the petitioner waited approximately 17 years to file the writ petition after the cause of action arose in 2006.
  2. Whether the petitioner’s right to shelter, as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, has been violated by the failure of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to provide alternative housing after demolishing the petitioner’s T-huts.
  3. Whether the response received by the petitioner under the Right to Information Act (RTI) in 2015 and 2020 has any bearing on the present petition, especially regarding the eligibility and allocation of an alternative plot.
  4. Whether the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) or the DDA is the appropriate agency responsible for the petitioner’s rehabilitation under the prevailing policies and schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY).
  5. Whether the DDA and other respondents fulfilled their obligations under the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 and relevant rehabilitation policies, particularly in providing alternative housing to the petitioner after the demolition of his dwelling.
  6. Whether the High Court should exercise its discretionary power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ in favor of the petitioner, despite the significant delay in filing the petition.

LEGAL PROVISIONS

Article 21 of the Constitution of India: This article guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty. The Supreme Court has interpreted this to include the right to shelter as a fundamental right under the right to life.

Article 226 of the Constitution of India: This article empowers High Courts to issue certain writs, including writs of mandamus, for the enforcement of fundamental rights and for any other purpose. It is a discretionary power that can be exercised in cases of clear injustice, but may be denied in cases of undue delay or laches

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT

The learned counsel for the petitioner has relied on the judgement passed in the cases Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation and Chameli Singh Vs State of U.P., where the Apex Court has laid down that right to shelter is a fundamental right under the umbrella of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the said right to life is not a right of mere animal existence. Further, in the case of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation v. Nawab Khan Gulab Khan, Apex Court has held that even poverty-stricken persons on public lands have a fundamental right to housing and laid down that when a slum-dweller has been at a place for some time, it is the duty of the government to make schemes for housing of the jhuggi dwellers.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS

The learned counsel for the respondent No. 2 has pleaded that though DUSIB has been nominated as the Nodal Agency for the implementation of policy for relocation/ rehabilitation of JJ Basti upon the land belonging to MCD and Delhi Government and its Department/Agencies, as per the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy of 2015 which has now been renamed as “Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojna‟, however the current matter is out of its purview. Further, they have submitted that it is the DDA which is the state level nodal agency for in-situ rehabilitation of slum dwellers in respect of land belonging to Central Governments and its agencies under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna- Housing for All (Urban) [PMAY FIFA(U)] in Delhi, as per order issued by urban Development Department, GNCTD dated 20.09.17. The learned counsel for the respondent No.1/ DDA has submitted that the present petition is barred by delay and latches. They argued that the petitioner has been evasive about stating the details about the payment of the license fee and that the cause of action in the present matter, if at all, arose in the year 2006, whereas the petition has been filed after an inexplicable delay of 17 years in 2023. Further, it was submitted by them that on a bare reading of the said letter, it would show that it prescribed a limited license to 12.5 square meter plot to the petitioner, for a period of 5 years only, that to subject to payment of the due license fee, therefore, the terms of the license already stand exhausted. They allege that the petitioner has failed to show payment of any license fee on receipt of the said allotment letter.

 COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT

The petitioner is invoking the extra ordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issuance of a writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ. I have given my thoughtful consideration to the submissions advanced by the learned counsels for the rival parties. I have also perused the record of the case. At the outset, the instant petition is hopelessly barred, so as to disentitle the petitioner of any relief by virtue of having been filed after inordinate delay and latches. Evidently, the hutment of the petitioner was demolished way back in the year 2006 and the ultimate allotment-cum-demand letter issued by the DDA dated 15.04.2006 merely conferred a limited right upon the petitioner to get licence at some demarcated site for a period of five years only, and that period has since lapsed. Assuming for the sake of convenience, that the petitioner after paying the sum of Rs.14,000/- in terms of the aforesaid offer dated 15.04.2006, evidently, he slept over his rights and did not take any action within a reasonable period of time. It appears that he only woke up sometime in the month of January, 2015 when he chose to file an RTI on 05.02.2015. It is well settled that the writ jurisdiction in terms of Article 226 of the Constitution of India, is a discretionary relief that can be denied on account of delay and latches on the part of the petitioner in approaching the Court. Avoiding the long academic discussion, in a recent decision by the Supreme Court in the case of Mrinmoy Maity v. Chanda Koley, it was reiterated that delay defeats equity and if there is laxity on the part of the petitioner to assert his legal rights thereby allowing the cause of action to drift away, the High Court in exercising writ jurisdiction should not rekindle the lapsed cause of action. In view of the foregoing propositions of law, reverting back to the instant matter, at the cost of repetition, the offer made to the petitioner vide proposal dated 15.04.2006 lapsed long time back and the present petition deserves to be dismissed on account of delay and latches. Accordingly, the instant Writ Petition is hereby dismissed.

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Judgement Reviewed by – HARIRAGHAVA JP

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Factors Considered by Delhi High Court When Granting Bail in Cases Based on Circumstantial Evidence in Heinous Offences

Factors Considered by Delhi High Court When Granting Bail in Cases Based on Circumstantial Evidence in Heinous Offences

Case title: ROSHAN VS THE STATE (GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI)

Case no.: BAIL APPLN. 2478/2023

Dated on: 20TH May 2024

Quorum:  Hon’ble MS. JUSTICE AMIT MAHAJAN.

FACTS OF THE CASE

The present application is filed under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for seeking bail in FIR No. 321/2016 dated 17.05.2016, registered at Police Station Gokal Puri, for the offences under Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). Chargesheet was filed against the applicant for the offences under Sections 363/302/201 of the IPC. The FIR was registered on a complaint made by the complainant alleging that his 3-year-old daughter (victim) had taken some money from the wife of his younger brother (the applicant) and gone out to eat some street food. It was alleged that the victim did not come back and despite all efforts, the complainant was unable to find her. On 18.05.2016, information was received that a quarrel had happened at H.No. 455, Gali No. 4/5, Indra Vihar, Mustaf Abad, Delhi 110094. Thereafter, information was received that a dead body had been recovered. It is alleged that the police found that there was no quarrel, but the body of the victim had been recovered from the drawer of the bed of the complainant’s brother, namely, Aftab Alam (the then husband of the applicant), at the aforesaid address. It is the case of the prosecution that the complainant and his brother were living in the same house with their families. It is alleged that the applicant was upset due to the alleged affair between the mother of the victim (sister-in-law of the applicant) and her husband. It is alleged that on the date of the incident, the victim was sleeping and the other family members had gone out, when the applicant murdered the victim out of anger. It is alleged that the applicant disclosed that the applicant closed the mouth of the victim and then tied her mouth with a dupatta. Thereafter, the applicant allegedly threw the victim in her bed. It The applicant allegedly lied that the victim was out playing with other kids on the street. It is alleged that the body of the victim was discovered when the other members of the family noticed the stinking smell coming from the room of the applicant.

ISSUE

Whether the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution is sufficient to establish the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt?

LEGAL PROVISIONS

  1. Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)

Section 363 (Punishment for Kidnapping)

This section deals with the punishment for kidnapping any person from lawful guardianship. The penalty can extend to seven years of imprisonment and also include a fine.

Section 302 (Punishment for Murder)

This section prescribes the punishment for murder. It stipulates that whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to a fine.

Section 201 (Causing Disappearance of Evidence of Offence, or Giving False Information to Screen Offender)

This section addresses the punishment for anyone who causes the disappearance of evidence or provides false information with the intention of screening an offender. The punishment can vary based on the severity of the primary offence, including imprisonment and fines.

  1. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC)

Section 439 (Special Powers of High Court or Court of Session regarding Bail)

This section grants the High Court and Court of Session the authority to release an accused person on bail. It allows for the consideration of the nature and gravity of the accusation, the severity of the punishment if convicted, the danger of the accused absconding or tampering with evidence, and other relevant factors.

Section 437(1) (When Bail may be taken in case of non-bailable offence)

This section specifies conditions under which bail can be granted for non-bailable offences, particularly emphasizing special consideration for women, children, and other vulnerable persons

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT

The learned counsel for the applicant submitted that the applicant has clean antecedents and has been falsely implicated in the present case. He submitted that the father of the applicant had made complaints to the concerned authorities regarding her false implication but no enquiry was done in that regard. He submitted that there is no eye witness in the present case and the entire prosecution story is based on circumstantial evidence. He submitted that the testimony of the witnesses that have been examined are contradictory. He further submitted that the dead body was not recovered at the instance of the applicant. The same was recovered from the then husband of the applicant, who has been discharged without examination. He submitted that the husband of the applicant divorced her while she was in custody. He submitted that the applicant was released on interim bail by a Coordinate Bench of this Court by order dated 27.07.2020 and her interim bail was extended from time to time. He submitted that the applicant was granted interim bail on account of HPC guidelines by the learned Trial Court vide order dated 02.06.2021 as well. He submitted that the applicant had surrendered on time on both instances and had never misused the liberty. He submitted that only 18 out of 30 witnesses have been

examined yet and the formal witnesses are yet to be examined. He submitted that the applicant has spent more than five years in custody and the trial is likely going to take a considerable amount of time.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS

The learned Additional Public Prosecutor for the State strongly opposed the grant of any relief to the applicant. He submitted that the offences involved in the present case are heinous in nature. He submitted that the victim was last seen with the applicant. He submitted that the nominal roll of the applicant indicates that the jail conduct of the applicant is non-satisfactory. He submitted that the applicant broke jail rules and was involved in a number of other offences while in custody, including her alleged involvement in jail riots. The allegations in the present case are grave and heinous in nature. The victim aged 3 years is alleged to have been killed by the applicant, who also happened to be her aunt, on suspicion that her husband was having an extra-marital relationship with the mother of the deceased victim. It is, however, not disputed that the entire case is primarily based on the alleged extra-judicial confession of the applicant. It is trite law that an extra judicial confession cannot be relied upon unless it inspires confidence or is fully corroborated. Extra judicial confessions are weak pieces of evidence, whereby it is incumbent on the Courts to exercise extra caution while examining the same.

 

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT

At this stage, it cannot be denied that there is no direct evidence against the applicant and she has been implicated solely on the basis of the circumstances allegedly leading to the death of the victim, such as the victim having been allegedly last seen with the applicant. It is pertinent to note that the applicant admittedly used to stay in the same house as the victim. It is also not denied that the allegations in the present case are only made by the family members of the victim and the ex-husband of the applicant. There is no eye-witness to the commission of the alleged offence. It is settled law that when the case is based solely on circumstantial evidence, the chain of circumstances has to be so complete that it leaves no reasonable ground for any other conclusion except for the hypothesis of guilt of the accused person. The allegations along with the defences would be considered during the course of the trial. Admittedly, only 18 out of 30 witnesses have been examined till date and the trial would take a considerable period of time. The Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Union of India v. K.A. Najeeb : AIR 2021 SC 712 held that once it is obvious that a timely trial would not be possible, and the accused has suffered incarceration for a significant period of time, the courts would ordinarily be obligated to enlarge them on bail. It is also pointed out that the child of the applicant is now in custody her ex-husband, who divorced her during the pendency of the case. The applicant, being a woman, is undeniably entitled to special consideration while dealing with the question of bail, in terms of the proviso to Section 437(1) of the CrPC. In view of the above, the applicant is directed to be released on bail on furnishing a bail bond for a sum of ₹20,000/- with one surety of the like amount, subject to the satisfaction of the Trial Court/Duty MM/ Link MM, on the following conditions:

  1. The applicant shall provide the address where she would be residing after the release and shall not change the address without informing the concerned IO/ SHO;
  2. The applicant shall appear before the learned Trial Court as and when directed;
  3. The applicant shall under no circumstance leave the country without the permission of the Court;
  4. The applicant shall, upon her release, give her mobile number to the concerned IO/SHO and shall keep her mobile phone switched on at all times.

In the event of there being any FIR/ DD entry/ complaint lodged against the applicant, it would be open to the State to seek redressal.  The present application is allowed in the aforesaid terms. It is clarified that the observations made hereinabove are only for the purpose of considering the bail application and the same shall not be deemed to be an expression of opinion on the merits of the case.

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Judgement Reviewed by – HARIRAGHAVA JP

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Delhi High Court Upholds CAT Decision: Directs Offer of Appointment to Assistant Loco Pilot position.

Case title: UNION OF INDIA AND ANR VS GABBAR SINGH MEENA

Case no: W.P.(C) 6776/2024, CM APPL. 28244/2024-Stay

Order on: May 13, 2024

Quorum: HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE REKHA PALLI HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SAURABH BANERJEE 

Fact of the case:

Gabbar Singh Meena applied for the position of Assistant Loco Pilot (ALP) in response to an advertisement issued by the Union of India in 2011. He cleared the written examination, Psycho Aptitude Test, and document verification stages successfully on 18.07.2013. However, the Union of India did not issue him an offer of appointment because he had not filled in the date and place column in his application form, leading to the rejection of his application.

Issues framed by court:

  1. Whether the rejection of Gabbar Singh Meena’s application by the Union of India was valid?
  2. Whether the Central Administrative Tribunal’s decision to direct the Union of India to issue an offer of appointment to Gabbar Singh Meena was justified?

Legal provisions:

Article 226: Provides the power to High Courts to issue writs.

Article 227: Deals with the power of superintendence of High Courts over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction.

Central Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985: Deals with disputes related to recruitment and service matters of government employees.

Principles of Natural Justice: Principles of natural justice entail fairness and impartiality in decision-making processes.

 Contentions of Appellant:

The appellant argued that Gabbar Singh Meena’s application was rejected because he failed to fill in essential information in the application form. They contended that this deficiency warranted the rejection of his application under para 6.15 of the advertisement criteria.

The appellants challenged the jurisdiction of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to direct them to issue an offer of appointment to Meena. They argued that the CAT had exceeded its authority by interfering in the administrative decision-making process of the petitioners.

Contentions of Respondents:

The respondent argued that he had successfully cleared all stages of the selection process and was entitled to be offered the appointment. He argued that his performance in the written examination, Psycho Aptitude Test, and document verification demonstrated his suitability for the position. Respondent contended that the rejection of his application based on a minor technicality, such as the incomplete application form, and that was unjust and violated ‘principles of natural justice.’ Respondent argued his right to be considered for employment based on his merit and successful completion of the selection process. He argued that his disqualification due to a minor technicality deprived him of his right to employment and livelihood.

 Court analysis:

The Court, after careful consideration of the submissions made by both parties and uphold the principles of natural justice, upholds the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) directing the petitioners to issue an offer of appointment to Gabbar Singh Meena for the post of Assistant Loco Pilot (ALP). It was found that Meena had successfully cleared all stages of the selection process, indicating his suitability for the position. The rejection of his application based on a minor technicality was deemed unjust. However, it was clarified that Meena would not be entitled to any seniority or consequential benefits. The Court directed the petitioners to comply with the CAT’s decision and take necessary actions accordingly.

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Judgement Reviewed By- Antara Ghosh

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Delhi High Court Sets-forth the Innovation Assessment: A Case of Patent Rejection for Probiotic Formulation

Case Title: ALIMENTARY HEALTH LIMITED Vs. CONTROLLER OF PATENTS AND DESIGN

Case No.: C.A.(COMM.IPD-PAT) 458/2022

Order on.: MAY 14, 2024

Quorum:  HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SANJEEV NARULA

Facts:

The prima facie of the case deals represents that Alimentary Health Limited, herein the appellant, applied for a patent in India for a probiotic formulation containing a specific strain of bacteria called Bifidobacterium longum NCIMB 41676 (AH1714). This formulation is proposed to be used in various forms like capsules, tablets, or food products. The Indian patent office rejected their application, stating that the invention lacked an inventive step and was not significantly different from existing knowledge about similar probiotics. The office cited several prior studies and patents involving similar bacterial strains and their health benefits. Alimentary Health Limited responded by amending their claims and providing additional data, but the patent office remained unconvinced. They argued that the specific strain and its formulation did not show enough innovation over what was already known. The company appealed the decision, highlighting that similar patents were granted in Europe and the US and that their formulation had unique and beneficial properties. The case is now being reviewed by the High Court of Delhi.

Contentions of the Appellant

The primary contention of the appellant relied upon their argument, highlighting the point that their probiotic formulation, containing a specific strain of Bifidobacterium longum (NCIMB 41676 or AH1714), is unique and inventive. They contended that the Patent Office inappropriately rejected their patent application by not fully considering their experimental data showing the superior benefits of this strain compared to others. They also pointed out that similar patents were granted in Europe and the United States, suggesting that the formulation meets global standards for innovation. Additionally, they argued that the Patent Office’s assessment relied too heavily on prior documents without adequately analysing how their specific strain differed and offered significant advancements in health benefits.

Contentions of the Respondent

The respondent, i.e., Controller of Patents and Design, argued that Alimentary Health Limited’s patent application for their probiotic formulation was not inventive or new. They claimed that similar strains of Bifidobacterium longum and their health benefits were already known from prior research. The respondent believed that any skilled person could have created a similar formulation using existing knowledge. Therefore, they concluded that the probiotic formulation did not meet the requirements for a patent under Indian law, as it did not show a significant improvement or unique invention over what was already known

Legal Provisions:

Section 15 of the Patent Act, 1970: It empowers the Controller to refuse or ask for amended applications if it doesn’t stand to be satisfied.

Section 2(1) (ja) of the Patent Act, 1970: It defines the term ‘inventive step’ within the context of patent law.

Section 3(c) of the Patent Act, 1970: It outlines what cannot be patented, which includes mathematical or business methods or computer programs etc. or posits a mere discovery.

Issues framed by the Court

  1. Whether the formulation of Bifidobacterium longum NCIMB 41676 (AH1714) demonstrates a sufficient inventive step beyond what is already known in prior art, as required under Section 2(1) (ja) of the Patent Act, 1970.
  2. Whether the claimed probiotic formulation can be considered non-patentable under Section 3(c) of the Act.
  3. Whether the claimed invention falls under provisions of the Act.
  4. Whether the granting of similar patents in other jurisdictions should influence the patentability assessment in India.

Court’s Analysis and Judgement:

In this case, the appellant applied for a patent for a probiotic formulation using a specific strain of Bifidobacterium longum bacteria. Based on the court’s analysis it had to decide if this formulation was unique and inventive enough to warrant a patent. Further, the court looked at whether this formulation was significantly different from what was already known in the field. Despite arguments from both sides, the court agreed with the decision to reject the patent application. They found that the formulation wasn’t different enough from existing knowledge, so it didn’t meet the requirements for a patent. Essentially, the court said that the formulation wasn’t special or new in a way that deserved legal protection.

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Judgement Reviewed By- Shramana Sengupta

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