No individual should be forcibly subjected to any of these techniques in question, whether in the context of investigation in criminal cases or otherwise. Doing so would amount to an unwarranted intrusion into personal liberty. However, the Court leaves room for the voluntary administration of the impunged techniques in the context of criminal justice, provided that certain safeguards are in place. Even when the subject has given consent to undergo any of these tests, the test results by themselves cannot be admitted as evidence.
The impugned tests i.e. the narco-analysis technique, polygraph examination and the Brain Electrical Activation Profile (BEAP) test should not be read into the provisions for 'medical examination' under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Smt. Selvi v. State of Karnataka, Crl. A. No. 1267 of 2004; Decided on 5-5-2010 (SC) [K.G. Balakrishnan, CJI, R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal, JJ.]
KHUSHBOO CASE: Pre-marital Sex
In India, marriage is an important social institution. However, even in the societal mainstream, there are a significant number of people who see nothing wrong in engaging in pre-marital sex. Notions of social morality are inherently subjective and the criminal law cannot be used as a means to unduly interfere with the domain of personal autonomy.
In the instant case, the substance of the controversy did not really touch on whether premarital sex is socially acceptable. Instead, the real issue of concern was the disproportionate response to the appellant's remarks on the increasing incidence of pre-marital sex. The appellant, a well known actress, expressed her personal opinion wherein she had noted the increasing incidence of premarital sex, especially in the context of live-in relationship and called for the societal acceptance of the same. The publication of these statements in 'India Today' drew criticism from some quarters and several persons and organizations filed criminal complaints against the actress.
The Supreme Court quashed these complaints holding that these did not draw a prima facie case for any of the statutory offences as alleged. S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal, Crl. A. No. 913 of 2010 etc.; Decided on 28-4-2010 (SC) [K.G. Balakrishnan, CJI, Deepak Verma and Dr. B.S. Chauhan, JJ.]
DISHONOUR OF CHEQUE: Compounding of Offence
A majority of cheque bounce cases are indeed being compromised or settled by way of compounding, albeit during the later stages of litigation thereby contributing to undue delay in justice delivery. Observing that an application for compounding made after several years not only results in the system being burdened but the complainant is also deprived of effective justice, the Supreme Court has directed some guidelines to be followed. It is laid down that it should be made clear to the accused that he could make an application for compounding of the offences at the first or second hearing of the case and if such an application is made, compounding may be allowed by the court without imposing any costs to the accused. If an application for compounding is made before the Magistrate at a subsequent stage, compounding can be allowed subject to the condition that the accused will be required to pay 10% of cheque amount to be deposited as a condition for compounding with the Legal Service Authority. If the application for compounding is made in revision or appeal, such compounding may be allowed on the condition that the accused pays 15% of the cheque amount and the figure would increase to 20% if it is before the Supreme Court.
Damodar S. Prabhu v. Sayed Babalal, Crl. A. No. 963 of 2010; Decided on 3-5-2010 (SC) [K.G. Balakrishnan, CJI, P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal, JJ.]
SEIZED VEHICLES: Release of
It is a matter of common knowledge that as and when vehicles involved in commission of various offences are seized and kept in various police stations, not only they occupy substantial space of the police stations but upon being kept in open, are also prone to fast natural decay on account of weather conditions. It is also a common knowledge that several valuable and costly parts of the said vehicles are either stolen or are cannibalized so that the vehicles become unworthy of being driven on road. To avoid all this national waste, the Supreme Court has issued directions, orders and clarifications in many cases from time to time.
In the instant case, the Supreme Court has directed that all the State Governments/Union Territories/ Director Generals of Police shall ensure macro implementation of the statutory provisions and further directed that the activities of each and every police station, especially with regard to disposal of the seized vehicles be taken care of by the Inspector General of Police of the concerned Division/ Commissioner of Police of the concerned cities/ Superintendent of Police of the concerned district.
General Insurance Council v. State, W.P. (C) No. 14 of 2008; Decided on 19-4-2010 (SC) [P. Sathasivam and Deepak Verma, JJ.]
TRIAL IN JAIL: Shahabuddin Case
Open trial is the universal rule and must be scrupulously adhered to. However, in case of extraordinary nature, the universal rule of open trial may not be adhered to and no personal hearing is warranted before taking such a decision.
In the instant case, there were about 40 cases pending against the accused and they were being tried in different courts creating difficulties for conducting the cases at various courts both for the prosecution as also to the accused. There was serious danger in producing the accused in open court. Notification issued by the High Court stating that premises of the District Jail, Siwan will be the place of sitting of Court of Sessions for expeditious trial of Sessions cases was held justified.
Md. Shahabuddin v. State, Crl. Appeal No. 591 of 2010; Decided on 25-3-2010 (SC) [Dalveer Bhandari and Dr. Mukundakam Sharma, JJ.] [2010 (3) SCALE 204]
INSURANCE CLAIM: Using Vehicle on Hire
In a case of violation of condition of the policy as to the nature of use of the vehicle, the claim ought to be settled on a nonstandard basis.
In the instant case, the entire stand of the insurance company was that claimant had used the vehicle for hire and in the course of that there had been an accident. The Supreme Court held that the insurance company cannot repudiate the claim in toto.
Amalendu Sahoo v. Oriental Insurance Co., C.A. No. 2703 of 2010; Decided on 25-3-2010 (SC) [G.S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly, JJ.]
FIR: Telephone Calls
Phone calls made immediately after an incident to the police constitutes an FIR only when they are not vague and cryptic. Calls purely for the reason of getting the police to the scene of crime do not necessarily constitute the FIR.
The information about the commission of a cognizable offence given 'in person at the Police Station' and the information about a cognizable offence given 'on telephone' have forever been treated by the Supreme Court on different pedestals. Merely because the information given on phone was prior in time would not mean that the same would be treated as the First Information Report, as understood under the Code. Sidhartha Vashisht @ Manu Sharma v. State, Crl. A. No. 179 of 2007 with Crl. A. No. 157 of 2007; Decided on 19-4-2010 (SC) [P. Sathasivam and Swatanter Kumar, JJ.] [2010 (4) SCALE 1]
JESSICA MURDER CASE: Role of Media and Press
It is essential for the maintenance of dignity of Courts and it is one of the cardinal principles of rule of law in a free democratic country, that the criticism or even the reporting particularly, in subjudice matters must be subjected to check and balances so as not to interfere with the administration of justice.
Presumption of innocence of an accused is a legal presumption and should not be destroyed at the very threshold through the process of media trial and that too when the investigation is pending. In the present case, certain articles and news items appearing in the newspapers immediately after the date of occurrence, did cause certain confusion in the mind of public as to the description and number of the actual assailants/ suspects. Sidhartha Vashisht @ Manu Sharma v. State, Crl. A. No. 179 of 2007; Decided on 19-4-2010 (SC) [P. Sathasivam and Swatanter Kumar, JJ.] [2010 (4) SCALE 1]
RITA ARYAN LL.M. (Medalist)