POLICE CUSTODY TORTURE
It is imperative to state that it is the sacrosanct duty of the police authorities to remember that a citizen while in custody is not denuded of his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The restrictions imposed have the sanction of law by which his enjoyment of fundamental right is curtailed but his basic human rights are not crippled so that the police officers can treat him in an inhuman manner. On the contrary, they are under obligation to protect his human rights and prevent all forms of atrocities.
In the instant case, an Ayurvedic Doctor, while in police custody, was compelled to hold a placard in which condemning language was written. He was photographed with the said placard and the photograph was made public. It was held that the appellant had undergone mental torture at the hands of insensible police officials. When the matter was listed for grant of compensation, the High Court directed the appellant to submit a representation to the Chief Secretary for adequate relief which had been rejected. The Supreme Court held the order unsustainable while observing that this was only asking a man to prefer an appeal from Caesar to Caesar's wife. The Supreme Court awarded a sum of ` 5 lakhs as compensation to the appellant doctor.
Mehmood Nayyar Azam v. State of Chhattisgarh , 2012 (7) SCALE 104 (SC) (3-8-2012) [K. S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, JJ.]
BMW CASE: Sentence
Accident had occurred solely and wholly on account of rash and negligent driving of BMW car by Sanjeeev Nanda, at a very high speed who was intoxicated at that point of time. It had also come on record that seven persons were standing close to the middle of the road at about 4 a.m. As observed by the Supreme Court, one would not expect such a group, at least, at that place of the road, that too in the wee hours of the morning, on such a wintry night. There was every possibility of the accused failing to see them on the road. Looking at all this, the Court held, it could be safely assumed that he had no intention of causing bodily injuries to them but he had certainly knowledge that causing such injuries and fleeing away from the scene of accident, may ultimately result in their deaths. It is also pertinent to mention that soon after hitting one of them, the accused did not apply the brakes so as to save at least some of the lives. The accused committed an offence under section 304 Part II, IPC. Looking to the facts and circumstances of the case, the Supreme Court maintained the sentence of two years imprisonment awarded by the High Court, which he had already undergone.
State Tr P.S. Lodhi Colony v . Sanjeev Nanda , 2012 (7) SCALE 120 (SC) (3-8-2012)
ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES: Release of Seized Articles
Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, empowers the government to issue notifications and once a notification is issued, it enables the competent authority to confiscate the goods and prosecution leading to punishment. The Collector has been empowered under section 6A, if it is found to be expedient to sell the seized commodity which is subject to natural decay, at a controlled price or by public auction or dispose of through Public Distribution System to avoid artificial shortages, maintain the price line and secure equitable distribution. The Collector has no power to order release of the commodity in favour of the owner.
In the instant case, on an information in respect of illegal storage of subsidized food grains of Public Distribution Scheme, the authorities seized 5923 bags filled with more than 2991 quintals wheat. None from the company where the raid was conducted came forward to claim the seized material or to justify the storage of same. Subsequently, while observing that continuing seizure of the seized articles for a long time may not be justified, the High Court made an order releasing the seized items i.e. wheat in favour of the respondents as the respondents were prepared to furnish adequate/ sufficient security for release of the wheat in question. The respondents were not in a position to show any document which could show their ownership to the wheat. As held by the Supreme Court, such a course was not permissible as it would defeat the very purpose for which the EC Act was enacted. A person having no title/ownership over the seized material may get the same released on furnishing security and sell it in black market and earn profit several times more than the amount of security furnished by him.
State of Bihar v. Arvind Kumar , Crl. A. Nos. 1075-76 of 2012; Decided on 23-7-2012 (SC) [Dr. B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar, JJ.]
AMARNATH YATRA: Lack of Facilities at Shrines
As being reported in the newspapers, this year 67 pilgrims have died mostly because of the cardiac arrests as well for other reasons. With the increase in the number of pilgrims coupled with the poor management, it appears there was a sharp increase in the casualty rate.
As observed, all these reports clearly showed disregard to the human life. Lack of facilities at the shrine and on the paths leading to the shrine is evident. There is a complete lack of adequate essential amenities and facilities for the yatris who come to pay their tribute at the 'Holy Cave at Amarnath'. Lack of medical facilities and limitations of the officers/officials of the forces are some other facets which need to be considered by the concerned authorities.
It can also be hardly disputed that huge revenue is generated as a result of visit of large number of pilgrims to the Holy cave. It is expected of a Government and the concerned authorities to devote more attention and provide appropriate amenities and facilities to protect the life of the individuals, the environment as well as ensure to make the yatra effective and successful, preferably without any human casualty.
Court on its own Motion v. Union of India , WP (C) No. 284/2012; Decided on 13-7-2012 (SC)
ADVOCATES: Supreme Court Bar Association
There are many Advocates, admitted as members of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who do not practise regularly in the Supreme Court and are members of other Bar Associations and majority of them make their presence felt only during elections for the office Bearers of the SCBA. The Supreme Court was therefore, called upon to devise a mechanism by which those members of the SCBA who practised regularly in the Supreme Court could be identified as members who could be entitled to vote to elect the office bearers of the SCBA, and those who would not be entitled, while retaining their membership. Some Senior Advocates, practising in the Supreme Court, were appointed as the members of the Implementation Committee.
The first criteria laid down by the Implementation Committee that all the members of the SCBA who had 50 appearances and/or 20 filings in a year, should be considered to be regular practioners in the Supreme Court, has been duly accepted.
The next suggestion of the Implementation Committee was with regard to the inclusion of all Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court, who are resident in Delhi and attending the Supreme Court.
Yet another criteria for identifying of regular practitioners in the Supreme Court as suggested by the Implementation Committee was that all members of the SCBA who had attended the Supreme Court at least 90 days in the calendar year 2011, could also be included in the list of regular practitioners. It was felt that instead of attendance of 90 days, the same should be reduced to 60 days, which suggestion has been duly accepted.
It was specifically felt that allotment of chambers, other than in the Supreme Court, should not be made a criteria for identifying members who were regular practitioners in the Supreme Court and the said decision was accepted.
Supreme Court Bar Association v. B.D. Kaushik , 2012 (6) SCALE 556 (SC) (20-7-2012) [Altamas Kabir and Chelameswar, JJ.]
DISHONOUR OF CHEQUE: Sentence of Fine
The accused, a woman was convicted under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. She was sentenced by the trial court to two years' simple imprisonment; in addition she was also directed to pay a sum of ` 1,20,000 to the complainant as compensation.
The accused was a woman, over 66 years of age. Before the trial court she actually admitted her liability to pay the amounts of two cheques for ` 40,000 each. However, it was on account of her highly strained financial condition that she was unable to make the payment. Her two sons had died earlier. During the pendency of the appeal, her daughter who was suffering from cancer was undergoing treatment and understandably the accused was all through by her bed side. The daughter finally passed away on April 15, 2011. Even in those circumstances she was trying to pay the compensation amount to the complainant, even though in small instalments. She had deposited a sum of ` 50,000 out of the compensation amount of ` 1,20,000. She filed proof of deposit of the remaining amount on October 18, 2011. The Supreme Court set aside the sentence of imprisonment awarded to the accused and substituted it by a fine of ` 25, 000.
Nihali Devi v. State, Government of NCT of Delhi , Crl. A. No. 1100 of 2012; Decided on 25-7-2012 (SC) [Aftab Alam and H.L. Gokhale, JJ.]