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Important Judgments of Supreme Court: November 2020

Here are some 'Must Read' Judgments of November 2020:

The court held that held that the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA Act) does not bar the initiation of proceedings by allottees against the builders under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. “Thus, the parliamentary intent is clear that a choice or discretion is given to the allottee whether he wishes to initiate appropriate proceedings under the CP Act or file an application under the RERA Act.”

“It is well settled that a wife can make a claim for maintenance under different statutes. For instance, there is no bar to seek maintenance both under the D.V. Act and Section 125 of the Cr.P.C., or under H.M.A. It would, however, be inequitable to direct the husband to pay maintenance under each of the proceedings, independent of the relief granted in a previous proceeding.”

Upholding the validity of Tribunal Rules, 2020, in the petition that was filed by Madras Bar Association, the Court directed the Government to strictly adhere to the directions given and not force the Petitioner-Madras Bar Association, which has been relentless in its efforts to ensure judicial independence of the Tribunals, to knock the doors of this Court again. The court issued extensive directions in relating to selection, appointment, tenure, conditions of service, etc. relating to various tribunals, 19 in number, thereby calling for certain modifications to the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities [Qualification, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members] Rules, 2020.

In a case where abuses were hurled by a person of upper caste at a person belonging to Scheduled Caste due to a property dispute between them, the Supreme Court has held that no offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is made out as the allegations of hurling of abuses is against a person who claims title over the property and not on account of them being a member of the Scheduled Caste. The court reiterated that "The property disputes between a vulnerable section of the society and a person of upper caste will not disclose any offence under the Act unless, the allegations are on account of the victim being a Scheduled Caste."

The Supreme Court affirmed the Calcutta High Court order banning the sale and bursting of firecrackers during Diwali, Chatt Puja, Kali Puja, etc in the entire state of West Bengal. The court dismissed the special leave petition filed against the November 5 order passed by a division bench of the High Court. In the brief hearing, the apex court observed that preservation of life was more important during the COVID-19 pandemic than the celebration of festivals.

While granting bail to Arnab Goswami, the court observed that, ‘The doors of this Court cannot be closed to a citizen who is able to establish prima facie that the instrumentality of the State is being weaponized for using the force of criminal law. Our courts must ensure that they continue to remain the first line of defense against the deprivation of the liberty of citizens. Deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one day too many. We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic implications of our decisions.”

While rejecting the prayer for anticipatory bail, the court held that, “A person released on bail is already in the constructive custody of law. If the law requires him to come back to custody for specified reasons, we are afraid that an application for anticipatory bail apprehending arrest will not lie. There cannot be an apprehension of arrest by a person already in the constructive custody of the law.”

“The issue of juvenility was raised before the Designated Court as well as before this Court when the appeal was heard and has been specifically dealt with. The reliefs which have been sought in the petition would essentially require this Court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32, to overturn the sentence which has been imposed on the petitioner as an outcome of the TADA case before the Designated Court, when the conviction and sentence have been upheld by this court in the criminal appeal. The remedy of a petition under Article 32 would not be available in the above facts.” The petition was hence dismissed on grounds of maintainability.

In this case, the court disposed of the said appeal and held that,. “Having regard to the precedential unanimity, so to say, about the manner of applicability of BALCO in respect of agreements entered into and awards rendered earlier, with respect to the law of the seat of arbitration (or the curial law) excluding applicability of Part I of the Act, and the unambiguous intention of the parties in the present case (expressed in Clause 12.4.2) that the seat of arbitration was London, where the ICC arbitration proceedings were in fact held, and the awards rendered, this court is of the opinion that the impugned judgment cannot be sustained.” In the present case, both the partial and final awards are foreign awards. Therefore, the provisions of Sections 47/48 were correctly invoked by NV Engineering, for enforcement of the awards and proceeding under section 34 is not right course of action.

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