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Producing the documents during cross examination is permissible under law: Supreme Court

The case of Mohammed Abdul Wahid Vs Nilofer & Anr. (Special Leave Petition (Civil)No.14445 of 2021), there were two contradictory judgements by the high court of Bombay single bench. The judgements address the difference between a party to a suit and a witness in a suit, as well as when it is permissible to produce documents directly during cross-examination. The court determined that a witness and a party to a suit are not the same, and evidence cannot be produced during cross-examination. On appeal, the division bench upheld the decision. The current petition concerns the validity of Bombay High Court judgements.

The court concluded that neither a witness nor a party to a suit serves a different purpose in the witness box and that Order XVI Rule 21’s “so far as it is applicable” clause does not suggest otherwise. It was noted that neither the Plaintiff nor the Defendant is prohibited from appearing before the court to present evidence by the term “witness.”

In regards to the production of evidence, the court decided that the parties to the lawsuit would also profit from the freedom to produce documents for the two purposes of cross-examining witnesses and refreshing one’s memory. The court noted that if these documents are not used to properly ask questions of and receive answers from either party in a lawsuit, the other party may not be able to adequately prove their case, which could seriously jeopardise the proceedings. As a result, the proposition that the law distinguishes between a party to a suit and a witness for the purposes of evidence is invalid. It is well established law that what is not pleaded cannot be argued, because the other party must be aware of the contours of the case in order to adjudicate it.

 

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Written by – Surya Venkata Sujith

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Delays in submitting documents proving his educational qualifications should not make him ineligible for selection for a post: Supreme court

Case title: Shaila Tanaji Patil vs Maharashtra Public Service Commission,

Case no.: Writ Petition No.15613 Of 2022

Decided on: 14.02.2024

Quorum: Hon’ble Justice A. S. Chandurkar, Hon’ble Justice Jitendra Jain

 

FACTS OF THE CASE:

The petitioner seeks to challenge an order of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal dismissing the petitioner’s filed by holding that the petitioner did not file the ‘Sports Verification Certificate’ with the respondents along with the application and thus cannot be considered for selection to the post of Police Sub-Inspector under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

PETITIONERS CONTENTION:

The petitioner claimed that she was already selected as a Police Constable under the ‘Sports Category’ based on the Certificate issued by the Association of Indian Universities. This is the certificate she had verified for the position of Police Sub-Inspector, and the respondents themselves verified it. The certificate was presented at the time of the interview.

The petitioner claimed that she was already in possession of the Certificate when she applied for the position of Police Sub-Inspector, and that she was appointed as a Police Constable on the basis of this certificate prior to the examination. The petitioner contended that on a true and proper construction of the advertisement’s Clauses, it cannot be said that she did not comply with the Clauses relating to the holding of the certificate at the time of making the application.

RESPONDENTS CONTENTION:

The respondents argued that they agreed with the Tribunal’s decision and further stated that the petition should be denied because the “Sports Verification Certificate” was not submitted with the application, indicating that the advertisement’s requirements were not met.

COURT ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT:

The court ruled that the Tribunal erred in dismissing the petitioner’s OA. And, admittedly, the petitioner had already obtained the sports certificate, which was also on record with the respondents. Furthermore, the verification certificate for the sports certificate obtained was filed and submitted at the time of the interview, in accordance with the advertisement’s clauses. Thus, even on this point, the Tribunal and the respondents were not justified in rejecting the petitioner for the position of Police Sub-Inspector.

The court relied on the case of Dheerender Singh Paliwal vs. Union Public Service Commission, which held that if a candidate is otherwise found to be meritorious and there is a delay in filing documents in support of his educational qualification that were filed before the date of selection, such a candidate should not be considered ineligible when deciding on selection for the post.

 

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Written by – Surya Venkata Sujith

 

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Circumstantial evidence requires that the facts to support the hypothesis of the accused’s guilt: Supreme Court

Case title: Pradeep Kumar vs The state of Haryana

Case no.: Criminal Appeal No. 1338 of 2010

Decided on: 05.01.2024

Quorum: Hon’ble Justice B.R Gavai, Hon’ble Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha

 

FACTS OF THE CASE:

The sole appellant in this case was tried alongside another accused for the murder of one Samsher Singh, and the Trial Court convicted him under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for life. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana dismissed the appeal and confirmed the conviction and sentence in the judgement impugned. This brings us to the current appeal.

LEGAL PROVISIONS:

Section 302 of the IPC states that a person who commits murder will face the death penalty. Section 34 of the IPC addresses common intention. When two or more people commit a criminal act with the same intention, all of them are liable.

APPELLANTS CONTENTION:

The appellants contended that the evidence which was accepted by the Trial Court and High Court, is based on circumstantial evidence said to have been established by the witnesses are unreliable.

COURT ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT:

After analysing the witnesses’ statements, the court concluded that there is a significant gap between the charge against the Appellant and the evidence presented by the prosecution. The circumstances do not establish the appellant’s guilt. While the principle of circumstantial evidence requires that the facts be consistent with the accused’s guilt hypothesis, the evidence presented in this case raises doubts, improbabilities, and inconsistencies. The court stated that after carefully considering the case and noting the various discrepancies and improbabilities, it is clear that the prosecution has not established its case beyond reasonable doubt. The Appellant is eligible for acquittal.

 

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Written by – Surya Venkata Sujith

 

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“De Minimis Non Curat Lex: The Supreme Court emphasised that Law does not concern itself with trifles

Case title: Vashist Narayan Kumar vs The state of Bihar & Ors.

Case no.: Civil Appeal No. 1 of 2024

Decided on: 02.02.2024

Quorum: Hon’ble Justice J.K Maheshwari, Hon’ble Justice K.V Viswanathan

 

FACTS OF THE CASE:

The appellant applied for the position of police constable and took the written and physical examinations. He provided his educational certificates/mark sheets, as well as his caste certificate, for document verification. On June 11, 2018, the final results indicated that he had failed. The only reason was that his date of birth was 08.12.1997 on the online application form, but 18.12.1997 on the school mark sheet.  After failing to receive a response, the appellant filed a writ petition in the High Court. The High Court dismissed his writ petition challenging this decision.

ISSUES:

Whether the error in the uploaded application form was material or trivial, and was the State justified in declaring the appellant to have failed as a result?

APPELLANTS CONTENTION:

The appellant contended that he derived no advantage because he was eligible regardless of which date was used; the error also had no bearing on the selection, and he produced educational certificates that reflected his correct date of birth despite being unaware of it.

RESPONDENTS CONTENTION:

The respondent contended that the advertisement contained all of the clauses stating that if the information provided by the candidates was incorrect or misleading, the application form would be rejected, and criminal action would be taken. It also stated that candidates must enter the correct date of birth as shown on their 10th board certificate. The clause also stated that candidates must correctly fill out their name, father’s name, address, and other information on the application form. It states that if any discrepancy is discovered while reviewing the documents, the candidate’s candidature will be cancelled.

COURT ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT:

The court determined that the appellant successfully completed all stages of the selection process. The error in the application was trivial and had no bearing on the selection process. The State’s exaggeration of the situation was unjustified.

The court stated that they did not believe the appellant could be penalised for this minor error that had no bearing on the final outcome. Errors of this nature, as seen in the present case, do not constitute misrepresentation or wilful suppression.

The court emphasised the principle of De minimis non curat lex, which states that trivial errors or omissions are exceptions because the law does not deal with trifles.

 

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The repudiation of insurance policy by insurance company is not valid: Supreme Court.

Case title: Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co.Ltd vs Mukul Aggarwal & Ors.

Case no.: Civil Appeal No.1544 of 2023

Decided on: 20.11.2023

Quorum: Hon’ble Justice Abhay S. Oka, Hon’ble Justice Rajesh Bindal

 

FACTS OF THE CASE:

An accident caused irreparable damage to Mukul Aggarwal’s (Respondent’s) BMW 3 Series 320D. His insurance claim with Bajaj General Insurance (Bajaj) was denied due to a delay in submitting the claim, a failure to respond to insurer letters, discrepancies in accident descriptions, and the discovery of bloodstains in the vehicle. Aggarwal filed a complaint with the SCDRC, which ruled in his favour and required Bajaj and BMW to indemnify him for the car’s replacement under BMW Secure Advance. The NCDRC upheld the decision, dismissing appeals by Bajaj and BMW. BMW and Bajaj filed Civil Appeals with the Supreme Court, challenging the NCDRC’s decision.

LEGAL PROVISIONS:

According to sub-clause (i) of Clause (d) of Subsection (1) of Section 2 of the consumer protection Act, 1986, any user of the goods other than the person who purchases the goods is also a consumer under the Act.

The Commissions found that the insurer and the dealer were conducting business from their offices in Delhi, citing clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 17 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 . The National Commission observed that the State Commission, by hearing the complaint, granted permission to file it.

APPELLANTS CONTENTION:

BMW’s counsel argued that the owner had no cause of action to file a complaint against BMW. The reason for this is that the insurer repudiated the policy. BMW was not liable unless the insurer was at fault. He claimed that the claim had not been settled under the insurer’s policy. He went on to say that neither the State Commission nor the National Commission found any flaws in BMW’s service.

The insurer’s submission is that the fact remains that the insured did not immediately notify the insurer of the accident. He pointed out that the owner suppressed material facts about the nature of the accident. He stated in the Forensic Investigation Report that blood stains were discovered on the car’s dashboard and driver’s seat, as well as beer bottles in the vehicle. As a result, he argued that there was every reason to reject the policy on the grounds stated in the letter of repudiation.

RESPONDENTS CONTENTION:

The owner’s counsel argued that because the State and National Commissions made concurrent findings of fact, this Court should not interfere with them. The learned counsel supported the State Commission’s reasons for concluding that the repudiation of the policy was illegal. They supported the challenged decisions.

COURT ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT:

The Supreme Court found fault with the Insurer’s and BMW’s services. The Court emphasised the importance of clear evidence in determining liabilities based on the insurance and BMW Secure policy terms. On the issue of policy repudiation by the insurance company, the Court stated that the primary basis for repudiation was a significant delay in notifying the insurer of the accident. The Bench did, however, note that there is evidence that the accident was reported to police. The insurer neither disputed the accident nor claimed that it was caused by the driver’s reckless and negligent driving. Furthermore, the insurer did not claim that the driver was prosecuted for such behaviour. As a result, the Court ruled that the insurer’s repudiation of the insurance policy was invalid.

The Court evaluated the compensation, assigning a specific amount to the insurer and providing a reasonable estimate for BMW. The Supreme Court granted the appeal in part, setting aside the operative portion of the State Commission’s Order.

 

 

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