Delhi High Court In Review
Delhi High Court In Review
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The Delhi High Court in Review: March, 2020 [Part I]

Review of Judgments and orders passed by the High Court in March.

Amit George

With its vast and varied case-docket, the High Court of Delhi has occasion to pronounce verdicts on diverse subjects and myriad areas of law. This two-part monthly column attempts to offer a brief over-view of the important pronouncements of the High Court of Delhi over the period of the relevant month in review.

While an attempt has been made to ensure the widest possible coverage of the various judgments rendered, comprehensive analysis and critique of the individual judgments is eschewed for the sake of brevity.

ARBITRATION

In MMTC Limited v. Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Private Limited [1], the Court held that even though the scope of interference with an arbitral award in exercise of jurisdiction under Section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (‘Arbitration Act’) is extremely narrow, the Court would interfere with an arbitral award where it was clearly demonstrated that the arbitral tribunal had read non-existent words into the communications exchanged between the parties while simultaneously omitting to consider the plain meaning of the text. The arbitral award which was the subject matter of challenge in the said case was, accordingly, set aside.

In GTL Infrastructure Limited v. GTL Limited [2], while upholding an order by the arbitral tribunal directing payment of certain amounts by the respondent to the claimant during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings, the Court observed that once a part of the liability was admitted by a party then it was not necessary that the payment of the admitted amounts should necessarily be postponed till the disputed amounts are adjudicated upon and a final conclusion is arrived at.

In Mohan Steel Limited v. Steel Authority of India [3], the Court held that internal guidelines or circulars of a party which did not form part of the tender document or of the contract between the parties could not be relied upon by the arbitrator for interpreting the clauses of the contract, and a resulting award arrived at on this basis would be liable to be interfered with.

In Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited v. Aksh Optifibre Limited [4], the Court held that when the respondent did not in any manner controvert on merits the rates proposed by the claimant during the course of the arbitration proceedings, in such a case there was nothing illegal in the arbitral tribunal adopting one of the proposed rates as a viable one and proceeding to award the same.

In Indian Oil Corporation Limited v Toyo Engineering Corporation [5], the Court while reiterating that there is no such mandate that in every case the party seeking stay of an award would be required to deposit the total awarded amount as a condition for stay under Section 36(3) of the Arbitration Act, further observed that while exercising such jurisdiction the Court was entitled to examine the prima-facie merit of the challenge and determine the amount to be deposited after segregating the amounts payable under the different claims.

In Madhu Devi Fatehpuria v. Jugal Kishore Shyam Prakash [6], the Court held that in the absence of any specification as to jurisdiction or seat/venue in the contract, the place of registration of a partnership firm would confer territorial jurisdiction on the Court to adjudicate a petition under Section 11 of the Arbitration Act seeking appointment of an arbitrator to adjudicate upon the disputes which had arisen between two partners in the said firm.

In Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University v. Engineers India Limited [7], the Court reiterated that an arbitrator possesses the requisite authority to award interest even on a claim which was purely in the nature of damages.

In National Board of Examinations v. Prometric Testing Private Limited [8], the Court held that a party that had failed to take the appropriate legal recourse at the relevant point of time for preservation of data which was crucial to demonstrating its case could not later be said to blame the arbitrator for adverse findings resulting from this deficiency.

In Steel Authority of India v. Primetals Technologies India Private Limited [9], the Court reduced the interest awarded by the arbitral tribunal at the rate of 14% per annum to 10% per annum taking the contemporary market conditions into account.

In Union of India v. Bharat Biotech International Limited [10], the Court reiterated that the failure to file a copy of the arbitral award which was sought to be challenged in a petition under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act would result in a non-est filing.

In Hero Wind Energy Private Limited v. Inox Renewables Limited [11], the Court reiterated that where various disparate agreements ultimately constitute a composite transaction and it is possible to invoke the principle of composite performance, then in such a case even the non-signatory parties can be referred to a common arbitration proceeding.

In Active Media v. Divisional Commercial Manager, Northern Railway [12], the Court observed that the sending of an arbitration invocation notice to the incorrect address of the counter-party would fall afoul of the mandatory pre-requisite of Section 21 of the Arbitration Act and would mean that there would be no effective commencement of arbitration proceedings.

In Sona Corporation India Private Limited. v. Ingram Micro India Private Limited [13], the Court observed that a party which had failed to place on record certain documents pertaining to the valuation of a property before the arbitrator and had suffered an adverse order in relation to the aspect of valuation, could not seek to place on record and rely upon the said documents for the very first time in appeal before the Court.

In B. N. Enterprises v. Blenz Foods Private Limited [14], the Court observed that when a party had been proceeded ex-parte by the arbitrator on account of non-appearance, then there was no requirement to issue a formal notice to the said party before adjudicating upon an application for extension of time filed under Section 29A of the Arbitration Act.

BANKING AND FINANCE

In Madan Lal Chawla v. Allahabad Bank [15], the Court reiterated that when a party which was in possession of a property which was the subject matter of proceedings under the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2000 (‘SARFAESI Act’), and whose objections against coercive action had been duly considered stood rejected by the Debts Recovery Tribunal (‘DRT’), could not be permitted to frustrate, on technical grounds, the direction to a receiver to take possession of the property passed in ancillary civil proceedings initiated by the bank.

In Sanjay Gupta v. Bank of Maharashtra [16], the Court reiterated that even a claim of set-off as part of the defense to a claim of a bank under Section 19 of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (‘DRT Act’) would not be maintainable as a proceeding before a civil court inasmuch as the same would fall within the meaning of sub-section (6) to (11) of Section 19 of the DRT Act and be amenable to the jurisdiction of the DRT alone.

CIVIL PROCEDURE

In Bharat Bhogilal Patel v. Nokia Corporation [17], the Court reiterated that if an objection as to territorial jurisdiction was not taken before the trial court then, in terms of Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (‘CPC’), the said objection could not be permitted to be raised for the very first time in appeal. The Court further observed that even if a written statement is filed but the defendant subsequently stops appearing and does not lead any evidence, then the Court is not required to consider the averments in the written statement which remain wholly unsubstantiated.

In. R. D. Verma v. Naveen Saxena [18], the Court observed that there was a manifest contradiction in rejecting an application under Order I Rule 10 of the CPC for impleadment while at the same time permitting the applicant to intervene in the proceeding and to file documents and make oral submission. The Court further observed that the dismissal of the application for impleadment of the party effectively resulted in the party becoming a stranger to the lis and it could not be permitted to intervene in the proceedings.

In Harbhajan Singh @ Bhuggi v. Vandana [19], the Court observed that the vague observations in an interim order could not act as res-judicata in a subsequent suit filed on a separate aspect by one of the parties.

In Amiteshwar Singh v. Kamal Nain [20], the Court refused to order joint trial of a probate proceeding and a civil suit dealing with one of the properties mentioned in the Will inasmuch as it found that there was no challenge to the Will in the suit, and the challenge was only to the status of the property and the right of the testator to bequeath the same.

In Meyer Apparel Limited v. Panchanan International Private Limited [21], the Court held that inasmuch as the parameters for adjudication of an application filed under Order VII Rule 10 of the CPC was limited in nature and was required to be disposed of by considering the averments in the plaint alone, even after the rejection of such an application alleging a lack of territorial jurisdiction, an issue was required to be framed by the civil court on the aspect of territorial jurisdiction if the said aspect continued to be in dispute.

In Monica Kwatra v. Amarjeet Singh Gulati [22], the Court held that an application for correction under Section 152 of the CPC or for an amendment under Order VI Rule 17 of the CPC could never lie before the Executing Court which cannot go behind the decree, and it is only the court which passed the relevant judgment and decree which would have the jurisdiction in this regard.

In Dev raj v. Satpal Gulia [23], the Court held that when an order is passed by an executing court directing recovery of possession from the judgment debtors who had failed to comply with the requisite clear direction in this regard under the decree in question, the said order would not relate to obstruction or resistance by the judgment debtors, and would therefore be an order within the meaning of Section 47 of the CPC and not one under Order XXI Rule 97 of the CPC.

In Rajiv Kumar Srivastava v. Publicity Hub [24], the Court observed that keeping in mind the summary procedure enshrined under Order XXXVII of the CPC, in order to effectuate speedy proceedings, the Court should permit service of summons for judgment upon the counsel itself once the memo of appearance had been duly filed, and should not mechanically insist upon effecting service on the party directly.

In Ajay Sharma v. Kulwant Singh [25], the Court observed that in a suit for recovery on the basis of a dishonoured cheque, when the defendant fails to lead any secondary evidence to prove the existence of a receipt, only a photocopy of which had been filed and which purportedly demonstrated repayment of the amount in cash, then the defendant could not be said to have been discharged his/her onus in this regard.

In Rita Ghosh v. Rama Tiwari [26], the Court observed that inasmuch as the relief of possession was a natural corollary of the relief of partition which was sought in a suit, therefore an amendment which sought to formally introduce a prayer for possession in the plaint would not in any manner change the nature of the suit and the amendment sought for was liable to be allowed.

In Prem Singh v. Girdhari Dhara [27], the Court observed that irrespective of the technical issue of whether an order passed by an executing court falls within the meaning of Order XXI Rule 35 of the CPC or Order XXI Rule 97 of the CPC, once it was clear that the judgment debtor had been wearing various hats and had consistently sought to frustrate the execution of the decree and had been granted sufficient opportunity to ventilate his/her grievances, no fault could be found in the impugned order of the executing court directing taking of possession by breaking open the lock on the property.

In Chetan Singh v. R.C. Chadda [28], while rejecting an application for leave to defend in a summary suit, the Court observed that when admitted signatures on certain confirmations of account revealed a clear acknowledgment, the fact that the defendant was a chartered accountant by profession and habitually involved in high-value transactions would further belie the defense that the acknowledgements in questions were allegedly forged and fabricated.

COMMERCIAL COURTS

In D/H India Limited v. Superon Schweisstechnik India Limited [29], the Court held that an order passed by a Single Judge exercising commercial jurisdiction would be appealable to the Commercial Appellate Division unless the order was passed under any provision of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 and no appeal was provided therefrom under the CPC. The Court in this case was concerned with an appeal against the jurisdiction exercised by a Single Judge under Rule 5 of Chapter II of the Delhi High Court Rules (Original Side), 2018. The Court further observed that any amendment which purports the merits of the case cannot be termed as formal in nature and therefore the Registrar of the Court would not have the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the same and the application has to be heard by a Single Judge of the Court.

In Seema Rani v. Sunil Garg [30], the Court reiterated that in a commercial suit, a written statement could not be taken on record beyond the maximum period of 120 days.

COMPANY LAW AND INSOLVENCY

In Tata Steel BSL Limited v. Union of India [31], the Court held that in terms of Section 32A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, a corporate debtor could not be held liable for any offence committed prior to the commencement of the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process and the corporate debtor could not be prosecuted if a resolution plan had been duly approved by the National Company Law Tribunal. The Court, however, observed that the said order would not impact any investigation or prosecution of the erstwhile promoters or officers of the corporate debtor who may have been directly responsible for committing the offences in question.

In Reebok India Limited v. Union of India [32], the Court held that the decision on an application made under Section 18 of the Companies Act, 2013 for conversion of an unlimited liability company into a limited liability company cannot be bereft of reasons and the rationale for rejection of an application must be disclosed to the applicant.

In Bharti Bhagwan Jadhav v. JVG Finance Limited [33], the Court held that when the nature of the claim by a party against the immovable property of a company in liquidation is really in the nature of specific performance of an agreement to sell, then it was mandatory for the said party to demonstrate that a valid agreement of sale was entered into between it and the company in liquidation coupled with the fact that the company in liquidation, committed breach of the said agreement; and further that the claiming party was always ready and willing to perform its part of the obligations in terms of the agreement.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

In STA Operators Ekta Manch v. Government of NCT of Delhi [34], the Court held that inasmuch as Article 50(3) of the Constitution specifically empowered the State to make special provisions for the benefit of women, the decision of the Government of NCT of Delhi permitting women passengers in public buses in Delhi to ride for free could not be said to be illegal or unconstitutional. The Court further observed that merely because a socially beneficial scheme was resulting in some loss to certain private parties, would not be a ground to label the said scheme as unconstitutional.

In Subash Chand v. Union of India [35], the Court struck down the clause of an Air Force Order which enshrined the modalities for granting of a no-objection certificate to an Airman for applying for a civil post or service inasmuch as the Court found that the same, in effect, permitted better skilled Airmen to leave the Air Force while retaining those with a lower skill-set and was, therefore, arbitrary and unsustainable.

In Udbhav Kumar Jain v. High Court of Delhi [36] the Court observed that Clause 17 of Appendix 3 of the Civil Services Examination Rules, 1964 which en-masse disqualified candidates with transplanted organs would have to be read down in the light of medical advancements made over the years which now made it possible for a recipient to lead a stable, fruitful and healthy life and be able to discharge his/her professional duties.

In Janak M. B. Singh v. Delhi Development Authority [37], the Court held that even in the presence of an alternative remedy of seeking execution of a decree against the respondent/state instrumentality, the Court could always exercise its writ jurisdiction and direct the grant of appropriate relief.

In Wadpack Private Limited v. The Director General of Foreign Trade [38], the Court while reiterating that it could not sit in appeal over a decision of the policy relaxation committee refusing certain easing of the requirements under the applicable Hand Book of Procedure unless the same was found to be completely perverse, further observed that the relaxation in question even otherwise could not be granted in cases where the entity in question was found to be not vigilant or lax in compliance with mandatory conditions.

In Trideep Raj Bhandari v. Institute of Chartered Accountants of India [39], after an extensive review of the need to communicate the reasons for the decision to an affected party, the Court held that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (‘ICAI’) was required to provide reasons to a complainant for the ICAI’s prima-facie conclusion that the member concerned is not guilty of any misconduct against the complaint made by the complainant.

In Shabuddin v. Government of NCT of Delhi [40], in a case involving an unidentified body recovered during the riots which took place in Delhi in the month of February, the Court directed expeditated DNA testing of the sample extracted from the body in order to assuage the trauma of the petitioner whose son had gone missing in the aftermath of the riots.

CONTEMPT

In Scindia Potteries & Services Private Limited v. Ankur Jain [41], the Court observed that inasmuch as there were no statutory rules in Delhi specifically laying down the procedure to be followed in contempt cases, the Court had evolved its own procedure based upon the principles of natural justice and the normal practice was to determine contempt matters on the basis of affidavits filed by the contemnors and oral evidence was rarely called for.

CONTRACT LAW

In All India Petroleum Dealers Association v. Union of India [42], the Court held that dealership agreements, albeit not being negotiated agreements, would still fall within the realm of contracts and an oil marketing company (‘OMC’) could not seek to impose any monetary penalty on a dealer in the absence of a contractual provision permitting the same. The Court observed that permitting the OMCs to impose a monetary penalty to secure adherence to guidelines would amount to permitting them to vary the dealership agreements unilaterally to the prejudice of the dealers, and which was impermissible in law.

CO-OPERATIVE LAW

In Viresh v. The Registrar of Co-operative Societies [43], the Court held that a dispute regarding a resolution pertaining to the management and business of a co-operative society would be covered by Section 70 of Delhi Co-operative Societies Act, 2003 and the alternative remedy contained therein of statutory arbitration was to be invoked, and it would not be permissible to straightway invoke writ jurisdiction.

COVID-19

In Air Traffic Controllers Guild v. Union of India [44], the Court stayed the breath analyser test (‘BAT’) which is routinely conducted on air traffic controllers (‘ATCs’) at the beginning of every shift inasmuch as it found that the equipment used in the process could result in further spreading of the COVID-19. The Court however permitted the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to evolve any other form of testing to keep a check on inebriation while on duty, in addition to obtaining undertakings and self-declarations from the ATCs.

Similarly in All India Loco Running Staff Association v. Union of India [45], the Court directed the Ministry of Railways to not subject the loco running staff to a BAT or biometric verification while reporting for duty, and to put in place an alternative mechanism to keep a check on inebriation while on duty and for ensuring that the staff reported for duty.

In Shehla Saira v. Union of India [46], Gaurav Kumar Bansal v. Union of India,[47] and Ramesh Chander Goyal v. Union of India [48], the Court passed various directions for the benefit of Indian students who were studying in foreign countries and were unable to return to India on account of the lockdown.

In Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq v. Union of India [49] the Court recorded the undertaking of the concerned governmental authorities that the victims of the riots which took place in Delhi in the month of February would be provided with the necessary accommodation and medical care inasmuch as their situation had significantly worsened following the imposition of the lockdown

In Court on its own Motion [50], the Court ordered that in all matters pending before the High Court of Delhi and its subordinate Courts, wherein such interim orders issued were subsisting as on 16.03.2020 and expired or were to expire thereafter, the same would stand automatically extended till 15.05.2020 or until further orders.

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE

In Saroj Kumari v. The State [51], the Court held that when there is a huge delay of 9 years in filing a First Information Report (‘FIR’) coupled with the fact that there were material contradictions in the version of the prosecutrix, the trial court was justified in discharging the accused of the offence under Section 376 read with Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’).

In Sunil Kumar Mishra v. State [52], while upholding the power of the criminal court to suspend or cancel a driving license under Sections 20 and 22 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (‘MV Act’) upon a person having been convicted of an offence under the MV Act, the Court, however, noted that a punishment of cancellation and permanent debarment of a person who is a driver by profession should be modulated appropriately so that the person does not suffer an effective civil death on account of being completely debarred from being able to carry on his/her profession for all times to come.

In Uma Devi v. State Government of NCT of Delhi [53], the Court set aside the framing of a charge against a mother-in-law under Sections 498A, 306 and 34 of the IPC on the ground that none of the statements available on record attributed any allegation of her torturing the deceased and the suicide note also did not refer to any role played by the mother-in-law.

In Sharmila v. State Government of NCT of Delhi [54], while setting aside an order passed by a trial court directing registration of an FIR against the investigation officer in a proceeding under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (‘POCSO Act’), the Court observed that the trial court should have been more circumspect and should not have acted in undue haste when there was a real possibility about the child victim having been influenced to make such allegations inasmuch as the father of the child was himself accused of the sexual assault which led to the initiation of the proceedings under the POSCO Act and the child was continuing to reside with him.

In Jitender v. State [55], the Court held that in view of the definition of “sexual assault” as contained in Section 7 of the POSCO Act which includes any form of touching with a sexual intent, it would be immaterial for the purpose of culpability as to whether the accused had touched the breast of the victim without her consent or had in fact forcefully pressed her breast.

In Satish Kumar v. State of NCT of Delhi [56], the Court reiterated that even if the allegations made in a complaint discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the Magistrate is not bound to direct investigation by the police without any application of mind, and in a given case a Magistrate may well come to the conclusion that the complainant can prove the averments in the complaint without the assistance of the police under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘Cr.P.C.’) and accordingly proceed under Section 200 of the Cr.P.C.

In M/s Vedavaag Systems Limited v. Ricoh India Limited [57], and in Mayank Chawla v. State [58], the Court while refusing to interfere with an order of the Metropolitan Magistrate, opined that the Court could not usurp the powers of the Metropolitan Magistrate inasmuch as it could not entertain the plea of an accused as to why he should not be tried under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (‘NI Act’) and that the accused was required to raise such a plea in the Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate under Sections 251 and 263(g) of the Cr.P.C.

In State of NCT of Delhi v. Rajesh Rai [59], the Court reiterated the five principles as laid down in the judgment of the Supreme Court in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra [60], for appreciating circumstantial evidence. The Court further observed that the courts would generally be loath to interfere with the findings of a trial court and it would only be in cases where the conclusion of the trial court was palpably wrong and against the weight of evidence or predicted on an erroneous view of law that the appellate court would interfere.

In Priyanka Tiwari v. State [61], the Court reiterated that a person who had been declared as a proclaimed offender in terms of Section 82 of the Cr.P.C. would not be entitled to the benefit of anticipatory bail.

In Unnati Bhardwaj v. K. P. Sharma [62], the Court while refusing to interfere with the order of the sessions court, reiterated that the power of the Court under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. would even extend to allow the admission of a subsequent application even though there existed an explicit bar in respect of the same under Section 397(3) of the Cr.P.C. However, the Court also pointed out that the said power was to be exercised sparingly and only in ‘special cases’, for instance, those involving an abuse of process or any serious miscarriage of justice, and therefore, in the absence of any perversity, a party could not be allowed to initiate a second revision petition under the garb of Section 482 of the Cr.P.C.

In Prem Singh v. State [63], the Court observed that the provision for alteration or addition of charges under Section 216 of the Cr.P.C. is merely an enabling provision and thus, no party, neither the de-facto complainant nor the accused or even the prosecution could seek for alteration or addition of a charge inasmuch as there existed no vested right for the same. The Court further reiterated that in the event that certain evidence is brought forth during the trial which suggests the commissions of certain offences, the Court would be well within its power to convict the person of the offence in relation to which evidence is adduced against him/her.

In State v. Shamsher Singh [64], the Court while deciding whether the offence of criminal breach of trust as provided for under Section 409 of Cr.P.C. could be concluded against the accused constable inasmuch as the said police officer was accused of misappropriating the pistol and the cartridges issued to him on account of his failure to return the same, reiterated that once the factum of the issuance of the pistol and the cartridges was established then the accused was required to set up a probable defense in order to establish that the said pistol and cartridges had not been misappropriated though he may not be required to prove the same beyond reasonable doubt.

In Paramjit Singh Gulati v. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence [65], the Court observed that notwithstanding the issue of admissibility of the statement of the accused made under Section 67 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (‘NDPS Act’) having been referred for consideration to a larger bench of the Supreme Court, the legal position at present would permit for cognizance being taken of such a statement by the accused despite him/her having subsequently resiled from the same.

In Johny Singh v. State [66], the Court reiterated that since a Test Identification Parade (‘TIP’) was primarily an investigative tool as opposed to substantive evidence, therefore, the failure to hold a TIP would not render the evidence of identification in Court as inadmissible.

In Amit Agarwal v. The State of NCT of Delhi [67], the Court allowed an application for anticipatory bail inasmuch as it was found that the FIR in question had been registered after significant delay, there were attempts at settlement between the parties prior to the same and there was a prior case of molestation by the wife of the accused against the complainant.

In Bikramjit Singh v. State (Government of NCT of Delhi) [68], the Court observed that when the authenticity of the call detail records of the accused was not undisputed, then the same could not be relied upon at the stage of grant of bail.

In Gurpreet Singh Mangat v. State of NCT of Delhi [69], the Court reiterated that mere possession of a cartridge by itself would not constitute an offence in the absence of any intention to use the same. The Court further observed that there being no recovery of a corresponding weapon connecting the accused with the intention to use the cartridge would lead to the conclusion that no offence was made out under the relevant provisions of the Arms Act, 1878.

In Mukesh v. State [70], the Court reiterated that any irregularity in the arrest could have no bearing on the trial itself, particularly when the said issue was sought to be raised belatedly and at a stage when the conviction had otherwise been upheld all the way up to the Supreme Court.

In Sunita Palta v. KIT Marketing Private Limited [71], the Court reiterated that in the case of an independent director, proceedings could not be maintained under Section 138 of the NI Act in the absence of any specific role having been attributed to the said independent director and in view of the fact that he/she was neither a signatory to the cheque in question nor was acting as the managing director of the company in question.

In Rudal Mandal v. The State (Government of NCT Delhi) [72], the Court upheld the conviction of a placement-agency owner under Sections 313, 342 and 201 of the IPC inasmuch as it found that it was amply clear from the record that when the victim confided in the owner of the placement-agency the fact that she had become pregnant on account of rape having been committed on her by the co-accused in whose home she had been placed, the owner of the placement agency, instead of offering support, had surreptitiously fed her medication which had resulted in an abortion.

In The State (Government of NCT of Delhi) v. Puneet Kumar [73], the Court noted the settled law that in the absence of exceptional circumstances warranting the same, re-testing/re-sampling of the seized contraband is impermissible under the NDPS Act.

In Amani Fidel Chris v. Narcotics Control Bureau [74], after a detailed discussion as to the methodology for drawing a sample from the seized substance under the NDPS Act as laid down in Standing Order No. 1/88 dated 15.03.1988 issued by the Narcotics Control Bureau and Standing Order No.1/89 dated 13.06.1989 issued under subsection (1) of Section 52A of NDPS Act by the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, the Court observed that it was mandatory to strictly comply with the aforesaid orders failing which the proceedings would be vitiated.

In Madhuri Bandooni v. State (NCT of Delhi) [75], the Court held that in order to bring home a charge under Section 368 of the IPC, the prosecution was required to prove that the accused had active knowledge that the victim had in fact been kidnapped and also observed that in relation to the offence under Sections 363 or 361 of the IPC, merely because the accused had allowed a minor to accompany him/her would not amount to the meaning of the word “taking” as existing in the statute-book.

In Abhishek @ Sonu v. State [76], the Court reiterated that while a plea of juvenility can be taken at any stage of the proceedings, the contrasting dates of birth of the accused available on the record would justify the recourse to an ossification test by the Juvenile Justice Board.

In Diwakar @ Monu @ Prabhakar Ray v. The State [77], the Court observed that while considering a petition for quashing of an FIR pursuant to settlement between the parties, if the Court could conclude that the alleged offence had in fact not been committed by the accused, then, there was no bar in allowing the prayer for quashing even in the case of rape or other heinous offences.

In Hari Shankar v. State [78], the Court observed that under the provisions of the criminal law, guilt can be pleaded on three occasions viz. at the time of framing of charge, at the time of evidence upon moving of an appropriate application, and at the stage of recording of the statement of the accused under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. The Court further held that a plea of guilt has to mandatorily be entered in terms of the procedure prescribed under Sections 251 and 252 of the Cr.P.C. i.e. the substance of the accusation and the particulars of the offences have to be specifically put to the accused.

In Raghav Gupta v. State [79], the Court after a detailed examination of the purpose behind the provision of a batch code/identification number provided for under Rule 32(E) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, observed that in the absence of the said number, a packaged food article could be said to be misbranded so as to attract the offence punishable under Sections 5,7 and 16 (1) (A) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.

In Gopal Taneja v. State [80], the Court observed that while considering the question of release on superdari, of sale proceeds earned from seeds, which had been seized under Section 13(3) of the Seeds Control Order, 1983 the Court is required to take into consideration and apply its mind to the objections filed by any third party which claims to have a lien on the seized goods.

In Vinod v. State [81], the Court acquitted the accused of offences under Sections 376D and 342 of the IPC inasmuch as it found a host of material contradictions in the statement of the prosecutrix coupled with lack of any evidence of injuries in the medico-legal report and significant inconsistencies in the testimonies of the police witnesses coupled with the lack of any public witnesses.

In State of NCT of Delhi v. Durgesth Chowbey [82], the Court held that when it was unclear as to whether the complainants had been able to see the accused or not at the time of their production in Court during the remand proceedings inasmuch as the prosecution was not able to prove that the accused were produced with their faces duly covered, would mean that the subsequent refusal of the accused to participate in the TIP could not be held against the accused.

In Jeete @ Jitender v. State (Government of NCT of Delhi) [83], the Court observed that the circumstance of a prosecution witness turning hostile upon being recalled for further cross examination and testifying completely contrary to his/her original testimony, should not be allowed to completely belie the case of the prosecution when sufficient evidence was otherwise available to demonstrate the guilt of the accused.

In Rahul @ Goli @ Chuwra v. State [84], the Court acquitted an accused of the offences under Sections 397 and 411 of the IPC inasmuch as the Court found that the very foundation of the prosecution case which was based upon the recovery of the stolen mobile phone was riddled with several inconsistencies.

In State (Government of NCT of Delhi) v. Arif [85], the Court upheld the acquittal of an accused charged with the offense of rape inasmuch as it observed that there was a delay of more than five months in the filing of the FIR and during this period, there were letters exchanged between the prosecutrix and the accused which were available on the record which revealed the existence of a romantic relationship.

In State v. Krishan Kumar [86], the Court upheld an order of acquittal against charges under Section 498A and 302 of the IPC while holding that when there was a serious doubt as to whether the victim had been forcibly administered poison or whether she had consumed the same inadvertently and yet further it was evident that the accused/husband was not present on the spot when the incident occurred, then the accused was entitled to the benefit of doubt.

In Vishvajeet Dass @ Vishvanath Dass v. State [87], the Court observed that a brick could not be characterized as a lethal weapon.

In Dalip Kumar v. State of Delhi [88], the Court held that critical and fundamental errors in the process of investigation including an inexplicable failure to send the weapon of offense with which the deceased was allegedly stabbed for a fingerprint analysis, as also the failure to examine any of the neighbors of the deceased who had allegedly witnessed the incident in question, would entitle the accused to the benefit of doubt in the absence of any other clinching evidence linking them to the crime.

In Mahesh Kumar v. State [89], the Court reiterated that it was the duty of the Court to rule out the possibility of the accused having been shown to the witnesses before conducting the TIP as also to determine that the witnesses had sufficient opportunity to see the accused at the time of occurrence of the offence. The Court further observed that the failure on the part of the star prosecution witness to identify the accused during the course of the TIP would be fatal to the case of the prosecution.

In Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State [90], the Court held that the word “appeal” or “application” occurring under Rules 836 or 838 of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 has to be understood as per the meaning prescribed under Rule 834 and the scope has to be restricted only to statutory appeal or special leave to appeal under the Constitution of India. The Court further observed that in criminal proceedings, the opinion of a jail official or journalist can only be considered if the interview or book in which the opinion is contained has been duly placed on record and if the individual concerned has submitted to cross-examination in this regard.

In Rajmani v. State,[91] the Court held that the contents of the complaint made by the accused to the police in relation to the offence at a stage when he had not yet been arrayed as an accused, and which did not disclose any incriminating fact, would be an admissible piece of evidence. The Court further held that the fact that the said complaint was later withdrawn by the accused would be a relevant factor which would be admissible against the accused inter-alia in the context of motive to lodge a false complaint and to mislead the investigation.

In Somveer @ Lalla v. State [92], the Court observed that a case of aggravated penetrative sexual assault under Section 6 of the POSCO Act could not be held to have been made out after an analysis of the medical jurisprudence on the issue, in light of the lack of any abrasion or blood around the vaginal region and the lack of any spotting or tear in the hymen of the adolescent victim.

While upholding an order of the trial court, the Court in State (NCT of Delhi) v. Saan Mohd @ Sonu [93], held that the presumption under Sections 29 and 30 of the POCSO Act cannot be taken into account when there is complete failure on the part of the prosecution to establish a case, including but not limited to the fact that the DNA recovered from the undergarments of the prosecutrix did not match with the DNA of the accused.

While upholding an order acquitting the accused of the offence under Section 307 of the IPC and instead convicting the accused under Section 324 of the IPC, the Court in State v. Nibul [94], held that when the medical evidence was clear that the injuries caused to the victim were simple in nature and incident has further occurred as a result of a sudden quarrel on the spur of the moment and since the accused had no intention to cause death of the victim, then the facts would make out a case under Section 324 of IPC and not under Section 307 of IPC.

DISABILITY LAW AND MENTAL HEALTH

In Srikumar R v. New Delhi Bar Association [95], the Court observed that in the case of an advocate who is disabled and suffering from various ailments, a Bar Association ought to exhibit compassion and favourably consider an application, if required even on an out-of-turn basis, for allotment of a chamber or some other space from which the advocate could function.

In Ex. Ct. Sharikant Tiwari v. Union of India [96], the Court held that a rule which permits for payment of special pension when disability is demonstrated to have been attributable to or aggravated by the government service cannot be invoked by merely stating that general stress and strain of the employment had aggravated an existing disability. The Court observed that specific details and particulars in relation to the prevailing stressful working conditions and the resulting aggravation have to be pleaded and substantiated.

EDUCATION

In Deepak v. Central Board of Secondary Education [97], while observing that the time limits prescribed for change and/or correction in the name of a candidate would not be applicable to children who had been abandoned by their biological parents, the Court further observed that in such an eventuality it was incumbent upon the Central Board of Secondary Education (‘CBSE’) to play the role of a parens-patriae within the meaning of Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and upon failure to do so, the Court would interfere in favour of the petitioners.

In Meghna Singh (Through Her Natural Guardian) v. Central Board of Secondary Education [98], while making a specific reference to Section 2(K) and Section 34 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Court observed that a mismatch between the name mentioned in the school record with that maintained by other statutory authorities would create significant difficulties in the future for the person in question. The Court, therefore, directed the CBSE to accordingly undertake the necessary correction in the name of the petitioner’s mother who had changed her name post her divorce.

EVIDENCE

In State of NCT of Delhi v. Rajesh Rai [99], the Court held that a confession made by the accused while he was in custody in the police station to a prosecution witness was inadmissible, being hit by Sections 25 and 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

INSURANCE AND MOTOR VEHICLES ACT

In Manoj Gupta v. Haseen Bano [100], the Court reiterated that in the absence of any documentary proof of occupation and income of the deceased, as per the well settled principles of computation of compensation, the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (‘MACT’) was entitled to place reliance on the minimum wages and thereafter make the requisite addition and deduction before applying the requisite multiplier to arrive at the loss of dependency.

In Ramanand Khanna v. Delhi Transport Corporation [101], the Court observed that when admittedly only simple injuries were suffered by the insured as a result of the accident in question, then in the absence of any cogent medical evidence, he/she could not be heard to say that the injuries complained of had resulted in the subsequent onset of diabetes.

In National Insurance Company Limited v. Shaheen [102], the Court reiterated that the contemporary practice evolved over time has been to award interest at the rate of 9% on the amount found due to the claimant in a proceeding before the MACT.

In Vivek Travels v. National Insurance Company Limited [103], the Court observed that the mere fact that the driver of the offending vehicle had produced a fake driving license before the investigating officer would not in any manner impact the liability of the owner when it was otherwise clear that the distinct driving license produced by the driver and accepted by the owner was not found to be fake nor was its veracity questioned by the insurer.

In B. N. Roadways v. Cholamandalam M. S. General Insurance Company Limited [104] and Parminder Kaur v. Kamal Kapoor [105], the Court reiterated the finding in The New India Assurance Company Limited v. Nathu Singh & Ors.[106], to the effect that even though the insured was in breach of the policy conditions, the insurer shall first pay the third-party compensation and will have the right to recover the same from the owner/driver of the offending-insured vehicle.

In Keeraty v. Union of India [107], the Court reiterated the strict liability regime under Section 124A of the Railways Act, 1989 which provided for no fault liability and contributory negligence by the passenger was of no significance if it could otherwise be demonstrated that the bona fide passenger of a train became a victim of an untoward incident within the railway premises or upon having boarded the train.

Amit George
Amit George

The author is Dr. Amit George, an Advocate practicing before the High Court of Delhi. The author would like to place on record his appreciation for the assistance provided by Rishabh Dheer, Amol Acharya, Bharat Rayadurgam and Piyo Harold Jaimon, Advocates.

[1] Judgment dated 02.03.2020 in FAO (OS) 532/2015 (DB).

[2] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in ARB. A. (COMM.) 7/2020.

[3] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in O. M. P. 488/2015.

[4] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in O. M. P. (COMM.) 131/2017.

[5] Judgment dated 06.03.2020 in O. M. P. (COMM.) 316/2019.

[6] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in ARB. P. 339/2019.

[7] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in O. M. P. (COMM.) 413/2018.

[8] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in O. M. P. (COMM.) 469/2018.

[9] Judgment dated 12.03.2020 in O. M. P. (COMM.) 349/2020.

[10] Judgment dated 18.03.2020 in O. M. P. (COMM.) 399/2019.

[11] Judgment dated 16.03.2020 in O. M. P. (I) (COMM.) 429/2019.

[12] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in ARB. P. 694/2019.

[13] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in ARB. A. (COMM.) 12/2020.

[14] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in O. M. P. (MISC.) (COMM.) 87/2020.

[15] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CM (M) 157/2020.

[16] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CS (COMM.) 1066/2018.

[17] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in RFA (OS) 10/2020 (DB).

[18] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CM (M) 193/2019.

[19] Judgment dated 06.03.2020 in R. S. A. 48/2020.

[20] Judgment dated 12.03.2020 in TR. P. (C.) 161/2019.

[21] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CM (M) 1511/2018.

[22] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in CM (M) 1173/2018.

[23] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in CM (M) 1448/2019.

[24] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in CM (M) 1559/2019.

[25] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in R. S. A. 126/2019.

[26] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in C. R. P. 49/2020.

[27] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in CM (M) 1244/2018.

[28] Judgment dated 20.03.2020 in CS (OS) 56/2019.

[29] Judgment dated 16.03.2020 in FAO (OS) (COMM.) 237/2019 (DB).

[30] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in CM (M) 329/2020.

[31] Judgment dated 16.03.2020 in W. P. (CRL) 3037/2019.

[32] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 952/2017 (DB).

[33] Judgment dated 16.03.2020 in CO. APP. 8/2020 (DB).

[34] Judgment dated 02.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 1782/2020 (DB).

[35] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 634/2020 (DB).

[36] Judgment dated 02.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 13807/2019 (DB).

[37] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 11032/2015.

[38] Judgment dated 05.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 6045/2016.

[39] Judgment dated 06.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 9032/2018.

[40] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 2927/2020.

[41] Judgment dated 02.03.2020 in CONT. CAS (C) 661/2019.

[42] Judgment dated 18.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 10334/2017.

[43] Judgment dated 06.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 2585/2020 (DB).

[44] Judgment dated 23.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 2946/2020.

[45] Judgment dated 27.03.2020 in W. P. (C) URGENT 4/2020.

[46] Judgment dated 27.03.2020 in W. P. (C) URGENT 1/2020.

[47] Judgment dated 30.03.2020 in W. P. (C) URGENT 3/2020.

[48] Judgment dated 30.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 2940/2020.

[49] Judgment dated 30.03.2020 in W. P. (CRL.) 665/2020.

[50] Judgment dated 25.03.2020 in W. P. URGENT 2/2020.

[51] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in CRL. REV. P. 778/2016.

[52] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CRL. REV. P. 494/2017.

[53] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in CRL. REV. P. 937/2017.

[54] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in CRL. REV. P. 937/2017.

[55] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in CRL. A. 564/2019.

[56] Judgment dated 02.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 1167/2020.

[57] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 4718/2019.

[58] Judgment dated 05.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 1272/2020.

[59] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CRL. L. P. 548/2019.

[60] (1984) 4 SCC 116

[61] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in BAIL APPLICATION 260/2020.

[62] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 5882/2019.

[63] Judgment dated 16.03.2020 in CRL. REV. 12/2015.

[64] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CRL. A. 1405/2019.

[65] Judgment dated 02.03.2020 in BAIL. APPLICATION 1541/2019.

[66] Judgment dated 09.12.2019 in CRL. A. 288/2019.

[67] Judgment dated 10.03.2020 in BAIL APPLICATION 519/2020.

[68] Judgment dated 05.03.2019 in BAIL APPLICATION 515/2020.

[69] Judgment dated 16.03.2020 in W. P. (CRL) 337/2020.

[70] Judgment dated 18.03.2020 in CRL. REV. P. 237/2020.

[71] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 1410/2018.

[72] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in CRL. A. 75/2013.

[73] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 660/2018.

[74] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in CRL. A 1027/2015.

[75] Judgment dated 17.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 5050/2018.

[76] Judgment dated 17.03.2020 in CRL. REV. P. 860/2019.

[77] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 388/2020.

[78] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in CRL. A. 1215/2018.

[79] Judgment dated 23.03.2020 in CRL. M. C. 535/2017.

[80] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CRL. REV. P. 619/2019.

[81] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CRL. A. 281/2017.

[82] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CRL. L. P. 275/2017.

[83] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CRL. A. 935/2017.

[84] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CRL. A. 896/2016.

[85] Judgment dated 05.03.2020 in CRL. A. 1044/2019 (DB).

[86] Judgment dated 20.03.2020 in CRL. A. 713/2019 (DB).

[87] Judgment dated 18.03.2020 in CRL. A. 1315/2019 (DB).

[88] Judgment dated 12.03.2020 in CRL. A. 45/2002 (DB).

[89] Judgment dated 06.03.2020 in CRL. A. 1199/2018 (DB).

[90] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in W. P. (CRL.) 769/2020 (DB).

[91] Judgment dated 06.03.2020 in CRL. A. 1075/2018 (DB).

[92] Judgment dated 06.03.2020 in CRL. A. 1212/2018 (DB).

[93] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CRL. L. P. 186/2020 (DB).

[94] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in CRL. L. P. 187/2020 (DB).

[95] Judgment dated 13.03.2020 in R. S. A. 46/2017.

[96] Judgment dated 12.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 2214/2018 (DB).

[97] Judgment dated 20.03.2020 in W. P. (C) 7146/2016.

[98] Judgment dated 17.03.2020 in W. P. (C)11293/2018.

[99] Judgment dated 11.03.2020 in CRL. L. P. 548/2019 (DB).

[100] Judgment dated 03.03.2020 in MAC. APP. 972/2018.

[101] Judgment dated 05.03.2020 in MAC. APP. 53/2020.

[102] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in MAC. APP. 337/2017.

[103] Judgment dated 02.03.2020 in MAC. APP. 121/2020.

[104] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in MAC. APP. 907/2018.

[105] Judgment dated 04.03.2020 in MAC. APP. 960/2019.

[106] Judgment dated 22.11.2019 in MAC. APP. No. 635/2013.

[107] Judgment dated 19.03.2020 in F. A. O. 68/2014.

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