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Position as registrar will be reinstated immediately, along with all subsequent benefits – SC

Case Title: SANDEEP KUMAR VERSUS GB PANT INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY GHURDAURI & ORS.

Case No: (Arising out of SLP (C) No(s). 8788-8789 of 2023)

Decided on:16th April,2024

Quorum:  THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE MEHTA

Facts of the case

The Governors’ Board authorized the recommendations made by the Selection Committee, which resulted in the appellant being chosen for the Registrar job. However, a disclaimer was included, noting that because of multiple concerns regarding the appellant’s candidacy for the office of Registrar, the appointment order will be stayed. In response to the purported complaint(s), a three-person committee was formed to review the appellant’s qualifications and testimony. It further mentioned that the appellant fulfilled the qualifications to be nominated for the Registrar position. Our strong belief is that the appellant’s services should not have been terminated without first undergoing a disciplinary investigation. Doing so would have been totally unjustified, illegal, and a blatant violation of natural justice principles.

Appellant’s contentions

It was not the petitioner’s intention to not record the previously indicated minutes. With reference to the June 16, 2018, meeting minutes. The recommendations of the Selection Committee were approved by the Board of Governors, who then appointed the appellant as the Institute’s Registrar. The appellant was being considered for a one-year probationary term as the Registrar. He argued that the appellant’s services should have been considered automatically regularized because he had been the Institute’s Registrar for nearly two years, a satisfactory position to hold. You will be put on probation for a year, but it could be extended for an extra year if your performance is judged inadequate. Probationary extensions will no longer be issued. In the course of your probation, your job could be terminated without cause and with a month’s notice in writing, or with cash in lieu of notice. Likewise, you may give a month’s notice in writing before departing the institute, or you could grant income equivalent to a month’s notice.

Respondent’s Contentions

That because the appellant did not comply with the regulations, it was illegal for him to be appointed in the first place to the post of Registrar. Thus, he contended, there was no need to carry out a standard investigation before to terminating the appellant’s employment. He argued that the appellant was ineligible for equitable relief under the exceptional writ jurisdiction because he failed to include a crucial document in the writ petition that was filed with the High Court. However, Shri Tiwari was unable to dispute that no disciplinary investigation had been conducted by the before the appellant was given the severe penalty of termination of employment.

Court Analysis and Judgement

The contested decisions made by the High Court on August 4, 2022, and February 21, 2023, are reversed and annulled. The order of May 19, 2022, which terminated the appellant’s employment as the Institute’s Registrar, is quashed and set aside since it is likewise found illegal. The appellant’s position as Registrar at the G.B. Pant Institute of Engineering and Technology, Ghurdauri, shall be reinstated immediately. He will be qualified for all subsequent benefits. The respondent Institute may pursue legal action against the appellant to impose disciplinary sanctions, if it so desires.

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Judgement Analysis Written by – K. Immey Grace

 

 

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“The Supreme Court addresses fundamental rights, justice, and judicial accountability while disapproving of the High Court’s ruling in a murder case.”

Case Title: Manikandan v. State by The Inspector of Police 

Case No.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 407 OF 2019 

Dated On: 5th April, 2024 

Quorum:  Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal 

 

FACTS OF THE CASE: 

The case centres on the murder of a man named Balamurugan who resided with his parents. The deceased allegedly gave accused no. 1 instructions to deliver idlis, and later that evening, upon discovering that accused no. 1 had neglected to do so, he went to his residence to confront him, according to the prosecution. 

It seems that his altercation with Accused No. 1 was the cause of the disturbance. The prosecution claims that upon hearing the disturbance, PW-2 (mother of the deceased) and PW-3 (the brother-in-law of the dead) raced over to the location. Accused no. 2 was in the area. Following that, Accused No. 1 went into his home, took a billhook with him, and used it to beat the deceased. The deceased’s right index finger took the first blow. The deceased then fled to a neighbouring property belonging to a Karunanidhi. The accused trailed after him. While accused no. 1 was assaulting the deceased by placing a billhook around his neck, accused no. 2 was holding the deceased. subsequent to that, both the accused ran away. 

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT: 

The appellants claimed that the initial information report indicated that the incident happened about 10.30 p.m., according to the skilled attorney representing the appellant. That being said, based on the post-mortem reports’ mention of the estimated time of death, it seems that the incident had to have occurred prior to 7 pm. The second claim he makes is that the prosecution primarily examined witnesses who were close to the dead, even though there were other impartial eyewitnesses present. 

In his second admission, he alleges that despite the fact there were numerous unaffiliated eyewitnesses, the prosecution had only decided to question those who were interested and directly connected to the killed.  

He claimed that the post-mortem records revealed the dead had one small cut on his finger and one cut on his neck. He added that there was an unexpected altercation between the dead and the accused number one, and that during that altercation, the accused number one attacked the deceased without any warning. Consequently, he would argue that this is an instance in which Section 300 of the IPC’s Exception 4 will apply, making it an offence under Part 1 of Section 304 of the IPC.  

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENT: 

Asserting that there are no significant inconsistencies or omissions in the evidence of PWs 2 through 5, which instils confidence, was the learned counsel representing the respondent, the State.  

He contended that there was a clear intention on the part of accused no. 1 to assault the deceased, as evidenced by the fact that, following a disagreement with the deceased, he entered his home, brought a billhook, and attacked the victim. Learned counsel argued that the deceased sought to flee after the accused number one struck him once on the index finger.  

The dead was chased by both accused; accuser no. 2 restrained the deceased, and accused no. 1 then fatally struck the deceased in the neck with a billhook. He recommended the exclusion of this case from the provisions of Section 300 of the IPC’s Exception 4. 

 

LEGAL PROVISIONS: 

S.300 provides the exceptions to Murder. Exception 4- If the crime is done in the midst of a furious argument, without any prior planning, and without the perpetrator taking unfair advantage of the situation or acting in an unusually harsh way, it is considered culpable homicide rather than murder. 

S.302 of The IPC- It prescribes punishment for intentionally causing the death of another person, in simpler terms, Murder. 

 

COURT’S ANANLYSIS AND JUDGMENT: 

The Court pronounced the judgment by initially stating that during PW2’s main cross-examination, she tried to establish a case that the accused had disparaged her daughter-in-law. To be fair, she didn’t say as much in the police-recorded statement. Most significantly, she said during cross-examination by accused no. She stated “Yesterday, my husband, myself, and other witnesses went to the Haridwar Mangalam Police station.” There, we received instruction on how to present evidence from the police.  

The Court further laid down that It is important to remember that PW-1 through PW-5’s evidence was recorded on November 20, 2008. It is evident from this that on November 19, 2008, the first five interested witnesses—PW-1 through PW-5—who were close relatives of the dead were summoned to the police station, where they received instruction from the police on how to make a deposition against the accused. 

 It’s important to remember that the prosecution refrained from asking the witness any questions throughout the re-examination. The investigating officer provided no justification for this. Since the first five witnesses were “taught” how to depose at the Police Station, the court was compelled to proceed on that premise.  

This leads to the situation that appears, which is that PWs 1 through 5 were called to the Police Station and instructed on how to depose exactly one day prior to their testimony being recorded before the Trial Court. What would happen if witnesses in a police station were “taught”? It is conceivable. The cops are clearly trying to influence the material witnesses for the prosecution with this brazen action. As interested witnesses, they were all of them. Since it is quite likely that the aforementioned witnesses received instruction from the police on the previous day. 

The court was rather disappointed by the Police and further, to put it mildly, held that this type of police meddling in the legal system was disturbing. This was a blatant abuse of authority on the part of the police apparatus. The prosecution witness cannot be tutored by the police. Even if there are more eyewitnesses, their statements were concealed, making this behaviour even more terrible.  

The court, while pronouncing the judgment, held that the appellants were wrongfully convicted by both the Sessions Court and the High Court. The appeals were therefore granted. The appellants were found not guilty of the charges brought against them, and the contested judgements and decrees are overturned. Their bail bonds were cancelled.  

 

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Judgment reviewed by Riddhi S Bhora 

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“Legal Battle Unfolds: Supreme Court breaks silence on controversies surrounding forest land ownership, review jurisdiction, and title disputes”

Case Title: The State Of Telangana v. Mohd Abdul Qasim (Died) Per LRs 

Case No: SLP (C) No. 6937 of 2021 

Dated On: 18th April 2024 

Quorum: Justice M. M. Sundresh and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti 

FACTS OF THE CASE: 

Mohd. Abdul Qasim (died) per LRs. was the respondent, and the petitioner was The State of Telangana & Ors. The case concerned Special Leave to Appeal about a final judgement and order that the High Court for the State of Telangana in Hyderabad had issued on March 19, 2021, which was the subject of an appeal. This case merely revolves around the provisions of The Andhra Pradesh Forest Act,1967 (Hereinafter referred as ‘The Act’) 

 On April 13, 2023, the case was set for hearing before Hon’ble Mr. Justice V. Ramasubramanian and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Pankaj Mithal.  The matter was postponed for a period of two weeks as a result of a letter from the respondent’s attorney requesting one.  

Between 1950-1959, a survey revision occurred in Kompally village. Respondent No. 1 filed an application under Section 87 of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Land Revenue Act, seeking rectification of survey errors. The suit land, spanning 106.34 acres, was subject to a notification (Gazette No. 85-B) by the State Government under Section 15 of the A.P. Forest Act, declaring it reserved forest. Despite findings, neither the Forest Department nor the Forest Settlement Officer was involved. The Joint Collector later allowed the plaintiff’s application on 07.07.1981, but its benefit remained uncertain. 

Despite a categorical ruling that the suit property was forest land, an instrumentality of the State took different positions, which it eventually corrected by an affidavit submitted to this Court. Due to the respondents’ differing positions, the impugned decision was able to be given in their favour, overturning the concurrent judgements made by two lower courts based on an assessment of fact and law. The Andhra Pradesh Forest Act was passed with the admirable goals of preserving, expanding, and safeguarding the forest cover. It also included a strong dispute resolution process to address any conflicts that may arise and designated certain areas as reserved forest.  

A Forest Settlement Officer is required by the A.P. Forest Act to be an officer of the Revenue Department, not lower than the level of Revenue Divisional Officer. A notification published in the Andhra Pradesh Gazette allows the State government to designate land as a restricted forest. In order to highlight quasi-judicial capabilities, the Act purposefully avoids designating a forest department officer for this position. 

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT: 

The appellants strongly contended that the Forest Conservation Act defines a “forest” in an extensive manner, encompassing all types of forests. This broad definition would even include private forests within its scope. The implication here is that any land meeting the criteria laid out in the Act could be considered a forest, regardless of its ownership status.  

They emphasised that revenue records alone do not confer title to forest land. In other words, mere entries in official records do not automatically establish ownership. This contention underscores the need to look beyond administrative records and consider other factors when determining land ownership. They asserted that the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction during the review process. Instead of limiting itself to reviewing errors of law, it engaged in a re-hearing, almost functioning as an appellate court. Importantly, it was pointed out that the Respondents failed to establish their title to the disputed land. The High Court’s decision did not address this critical aspect.  

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS: 

The respondents vehemently assert that the proceedings before the Forest Settlement Officer have attained finality. In other words, any decisions or determinations made during those proceedings should be considered conclusive. According to the respondents, once title is established, possession naturally follows.  

The respondents argue that the High Court’s review was justified. They contend that an error apparent on the face of the record existed, which warranted re-examination. This assertion challenges any perceived misuse of the review process. They emphasize that there was no attempt to obstruct or interfere with the ongoing proceedings. They also contend that there is no apparent perversity in the impugned order. In other words, the decision made by the court does not appear to be unreasonable or contrary to the evidence. By emphasizing this, they discourage any intervention by the higher court. 

 

LEGAL PROVISIONS:  

  • S.2(f) of The AP Forest Act states the meaning of Forest Officer- “Forest officer” refers to any individual designated by the government or any officer with official authority. 
  • S.10 Claims to certain rights– In cases where the claims pertain to rights in or over land other than those listed below: way, water-course, or water-use rights; pasture rights; or forest produce rights; the Forest Settlement Officer will evaluate the specifics of the claim and, if any, the forest officer’s objections, issue an order either accepting or rejecting the claim in whole or in part and documenting the reasons for the decision.  
  • S.376 Of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908- Any person who feels wronged may request a review of a court decision for good cause or fresh information. 
  • Order XLVII Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 provides for Application for review of judgment. 

 

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGMENT:  

The court held that this was a classic instance of state officials blatantly abdicating their duty to maintain and preserve the forests as part of their public duties. The court pronounced that they failed to see how the High Court could get involved by relying on evidence presented after the decree, at the request of a party that prevailed alongside the defendant in contest, especially considering that the land is forest land that has been designated as reserved forest.  

The court pointed out 2 instances, or rather, reasons for the lack of jurisdiction, viz,  

  • In relation to an effort to evade the ruling 
  • Acting without jurisdiction 

The court further held that because the plaintiff did not object to the proceedings in accordance with Section 15 of the A. P. Forest Act, the lawsuit is unmaintainable. These are now final and decisive.  

The Court concluded that Due to numerous factual and legal mistakes, the contested judgement is not upholdable under legal scrutiny and thereby, allowing the appeal. 

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Judgment reviewed by- Riddhi S Bhora 

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“Contradictions are far too trival so as to discard the entire prosecution case” – SC

Case title:-RAMVIR @ SAKET SINGH VERSUS THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH

Case No:-CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(S). 1258 OF 2010

Decided on:-16th April , 2024.

Quorum:-Mehta, J.

Facts of the case:-

The current appeal is addressed against the ruling rendered on July 27, 2007, by the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s Division Bench in Gwalior, wherein Criminal Appeal No. 607 of 1998 was filed. By the appellant was rejected, and the ruling and decree dated November 9, 1998, issued in Session Case No. 70 of 1987 by the Vth Upper Sessions Judge, Behind, Madhya Pradesh (henceforth referred to as the “trial Court”), was maintained.The appellant in this case was tried for the murders occurred in two different instances, as well as for attempting to kill during the event that resulted in Kaptan Singh’s death. On November 10, 1985, both of these tragedies happened in the Madhya Pradesh village of Bhajai, in the District of Bhind. Following the trial, the learned trial court cleared the accused appellant of Kalyan Singh’s murder in a decision dated November 9, 1998, stating that the two eyewitnesses who testified against the appellant for the aforementioned incident were unreliable witnesses because they failed to identify the accused appellant in their testimonies provided to the investigating officer. The appellant was found guilty and sentenced as stated above by the learned trial court for the killing of Kaptan Singh and the attempted murder .It should be mentioned that the appellant in this case is said to have served approximately 22 years in prison with remission and more than 14 years of substantive imprisonment. Two of the accused appellant’s associates; Kaptan Singh (dead) was killed and Indal Singh was injured by a fire arm. Singh was shot with a gun and later passed away.

Appellant Contentions

The appellant counsel stated that the prosecution case was entirely made and untrue wherein furtherance to which the prosecution’s witnesses did not provide an explanation for fatal injuries. As a result, the prosecution’s witnesses’ testimony is not credible or trustworthy claimed that a cross case was filed against six members of the complainant side who were found guilty by the trial court of the offence punishable under Section 396 IPC and members of the complainant party who were found guilty in the cross case, it is obvious that they were the aggressors and, as a result, the accused appellant deserves to be exonerated by granting him the benefit of the doubt and the right to a private defense involving extensive cross-firing; the accused appellant did not sustain a single injury, and it is evident that the prosecution witnesses have not revealed the truth about what happened and their role in it. The evidence is corrupt and not reliable.By granting the accused appellant the benefit of the doubt and the right to a private defense, he should be found not guilty.

Respondent Contentions

Furthermore, it was argued that the accused appellant did not sustain any injuries in an incident involving widespread cross-firing, proving that the prosecution’s witnesses have not provided an accurate account of what happened and that their testimony is tainted and unreliable. The learned senior counsel went on to say that the High Court did not rely on. And where six members of the complainant’s side were found guilty by the trial court.

Court Analysis and Judgement

The appellant attempted to draw attention to insignificant inconsistencies pertaining to the lack of empty cartridges and other items at the scene of the crime, and the plea of alibi is not tenable because we determine that these inconsistencies are simply too minor to dismiss the prosecution’s case as a whole, which is predicated on a credible group of eyewitnesses whose testimony is supported by the medical jurist’s testimony as well as other relevant facts. There is no flaw in the contested rulings that justifies intervention. As a result, the appeal is rejected since it is without merit.

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Judgement Analysis Written by – K.Immey Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Supreme Court overturns UCO Bank’s verdict in favor of PHR Invent Educational Society in landmark sanative Petition ruling.

CASE TITLE – PHR INVENT EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY VS. UCO BANK AND OTHERS

CASE NUMBER – SLP(C) – 8867 of 2022

Dated on – 10th April,2024

QUORUM – JUSTICE B.R. Gavai.

FACTS OF THE CASE:

In the case of PHR INVENT EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY Vs. UCO BANK & OTHERS, the UCO Bank initiated the process of retrieving a loan from a borrower. The process of recovering the loan from the borrower was initiated under the SARFAESI ACT (Securitization And Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act) for auctioning the property of the borrower. The PHR Invent Educational Society took an active participation in the auction and emerged as the highest bidder in the auction. The auction sale notice was challenged by the borrower through an application of securitization before the Debt Recovery Tribunal. The borrower challenged the same under the Section 17 of the SARFAESI Act. Even though the said application was pending before the DRT, the auction did not cease rather the PHR Invent Educational Society deposited a part of the bid amount.


CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT:

1. The appellant, through their counsel, in the said case contended that it was a lawful auction conducted by the SARFAESI and that they legally the highest bidder in the auction.

2. The appellant, through their counsel, in the said case contended that the writ petition of the borrower should not have been entertained by the High Court when an alternative remedy i.e., the Securitization Application was available.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENT:

1. The Respondent, through their counsel, in the said case contended that the borrower has challenged the legality of the auction process itself through the Application of Securitization.

2. The Respondent, through their counsel, in the said case contended that they have followed the due procedure as prescribed under the SARFAESI Act for recovery.

LEGAL PROVISIONS:

1. Section 17 of the Securitization And Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI Act) prescribing the Securitization Applications before the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).

2. Article 226 of the Constitution of India dealing with Writ Petitions under the power of Judicial Review.

ISSUES:

1. Whether the Sale through Auction conducted under the SARFAESI Act was valid or invalid?

2. Whether the entertainment of the Writ Petition filed before the High Court was justified when an alternative remedy existed?

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGMENT:

The Supreme Court in the given case scrupulously analysed that the alternative remedies (if available) must be first exhausted before filing a Writ Petition in the High Court. However, the court justified the decision the High Court assuming that the borrower might not have had a fair chance of trial before the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT). The court directed the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) to proceed with the Securitization Application, taking into account the arguments of both the parties.


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Judgement Reviewed by – Sruti Sikha Maharana

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