A judicial officer must be able to discharge his/her responsibilities by showing an impeccable conduct. In the instant case, a Magistrate not only travelled without tickets in a railway compartment thrice but also complained against the ticket collectors who accosted her, and misbehaved with the Railway officials. The Supreme Court held that the punishment of compulsory retirement awarded to her could not be said to be disproportionate to the offence alleged against her. The Court held that in a country governed by rule of law, nobody is above law, including judicial officers. In fact, as judicial officers, they have to present a continuous aspect of dignity in every conduct. If the rule of law is to function effectively and efficiently under the aegis of our democratic set up, judges are expected to, nay, they must nurture an efficient and enlightened judiciary by presenting themselves as a role model.
Arundhati Ashok Walavalkar v. State of Maharashtra , C.A. No. 6966 of 2004; Decided on 13-1-2011 (SC) [Dr. Mukundakam Sharma and Anil R. Dave, JJ.]
PUBLIC PREMISES: Eviction Orders
An order of eviction validly made in accordance with the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1971, cannot be interfered with, even if there has been any transgression of any guidelines, except where it is arbitrary or mala fide or in violation of any statutory provision. The only 'remedy' of any person complaining of non-compliance with such guidelines, is to bring such violation, to the notice of a higher authority. An unauthorized occupant or tenant against whom action is initiated under the Public Premises Act, cannot resist the proceedings on the ground of non-compliance with the said guidelines.
In this case, respondent was in occupation of the shop in 1961 when the premises was purchased and he continued in such occupation and paid the rents regularly. The bank issued a notice demanding him to vacate the premises as it required the property for demolition and reconstructions. As the demand was not met, eviction proceedings were initiated which were resisted by the legal heirs of the tenant. An order of eviction passed by the Estate Officer was affirmed by the Appellate Authority. However, the High Court set aside the order of eviction on the ground that the bank had not complied with the guidelines issued by the Central Government.
Syndicate Bank v. Ramachandran Pillai , 2011 (1) SCALE 368; Decided on 4-1-2011 (SC) [R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik, JJ.]
CORRUPTION CASES: Delayed Trials
In all the cases in which charges relating to corruption by public servants are involved, normally take longer time to reach its finality. The Government of India, Department of Law and Justice is making all efforts for expeditious disposal of cases of this nature by constituting Special Courts, however, the fact remains that it takes longer time to reach its destination. The Supreme Court has held that when a matter of this nature is entrusted to a Special Court or a regular court, it is but proper on the part of the Court concerned to give priority to the same and conclude the trial within a reasonable time. The High Court, having overall control and supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India is expected to monitor and even call for a quarterly report from the Court concerned for speedy disposal. Inasmuch as the accused is entitled to speedy justice, it is the duty of all in charge of dispensation of justice to see that the issue reaches its end as early as possible.
V. S. Achuthanandan v. R. Balakrishna Pillai , Crl. Appeal No. 350 of 2006; Decided on 10-2-2011 (SC) [P. Sathasivam and Dr. B.S. Chauhan, JJ.]
ARBITRATION: Res-Judicata and Tenability of Claim
The question whether a claim is barred by res judicata, does not arise for consideration in a proceeding under section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. Such an issue will have to be examined by the arbitral tribunal. The limited scope of section 11 of the Act does not permit such examination of the maintainability or tenability of a claim either on facts or in law. There can be no threshold consideration and rejection of a claim on the ground of res judicata, while considering an application under section 11 of the Act. The designate had clearly exceeded his limited jurisdiction under section 11 of the Act, by deciding that the claim for extra cost, though covered by the arbitration agreement was barred by limitation and the principle of res judicata . He was also not justified in terming the application under section 11 of the Act as 'misconceived and mala fide' . Nor could he attribute ' mala fides' to a public sector company, in filing an application under section 11 of the Act, without any material to substantiate it.
Indian Oil Corporation Ltd . v. M/s SPS Engineering Ltd ., Civil Appeal No. 1282 of 2011; Decided on 3-2-2011 [R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik, JJ.].
DOWRY: Definition for 'Dowry Death'
If a demand for property or valuable security, directly or indirectly, has a nexus with marriage, such demand would constitute 'demand for dowry', the cause or reason for such demand being immaterial. Demand for a motorcycle made by mother-in-law within two months of the marriage, from father of deceased, as her son wanted to start milk vending business was a demand towards 'dowry'. The Supreme Court has held that it cannot be laid down as an absolute proposition that a demand for money or some property or valuable security on account of some business or financial requirement could not be termed as 'demand for dowry'.
Bachni Devi v. State of Haryana , Crl. Appeal No. 831 of 2006; Decided on 8-2-2011 (SC) [Aftab Alam and R. M. Lodha, JJ.]
Euthanasia is one of the most perplexing issues which the courts and legislatures all over the world are facing today. The Supreme Court observed 'we feel like a ship in an unchartered sea, seeking some guidance by the light thrown by the legislations and judicial precedents of foreign countries'.
The petitioner was a staff nurse working in a Mumbai Hospital. On the evening of 27-11-1973, she was attacked by a sweeper in the hospital who wrapped a dog chain around her neck and yanked her body with it, tried to rape her but finding that she was menstruating, he sodomized her. To immobilize her during this act he twisted the chain around her neck. Her brain got damaged. 36 years have expired since the incident and now she is about 60 years of age, featherweight lying on bed in the hospital, virtually a dead person being in a persistent vegetative state, surviving on mashed food.
Writ petition has been filed by one Ms. Pinki as a next friend with a prayer that the hospital authorities should be directed to stop feeding her and let her die peacefully. As there was some variance between the allegations in the writ petition and the counter affidavit of respondent doctor, the Supreme Court has appointed a team of three doctors to examine the petitioner victim and to report about her physical and mental condition.
Aruna Ramachandra v. Union of India , W.P. (Crl) No. 115 of 2009; Decided on 24-1-2011 (SC) [Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra, JJ.]
CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY: Murder Case
A Christian Missionary from Australia, Graham Stuart Staines, was working among the tribal people especially lepers of the State of Orissa. His two minor sons were burnt to death along with their father in the midnight of 22-1-1999 while they were sleeping in their vehicle parked outside the Church. In the mid night, a mob of 60-70 people came to the spot and set fire to the vehicle in which the deceased persons were sleeping. The mob prevented the deceased to get themselves out of the vehicle as a result of which all the three persons got burnt in the vehicle.
Though the Trial Court awarded death sentence for accused Dara Singh, the High Court commuted the death sentence into life imprisonment. The Supreme Court has sustained order of the High Court while holding that though Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burnt to death, as more than 12 years has elapsed since the act was committed, the life sentence awarded by the High Court need not be enhanced.
Rabindra Kumar Pal v. Republic of India, 2011 (1) SCALE 615; Decided on 21-1-2011 (SC); 2011 (1) SCALE 741 (Order dated 25-1-2011) (SC) [P. Sathasivam and Dr. B.S. Chauhan, JJ.]