Monthly Archives: September 2017

Accusations and Character Assassination – Constitute Mental Cruelty

By a catena of decisions of the Hon’ble Apex Court, it is settled that making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings, filing of complaints or issuing notices or news items which may have adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of the spouse and filing repeated false complaints and cases in Court against the spouse would, in the facts of the case, amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse.
In Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate, (2003) 6 SCC 334, the Hon’ble Apex Court considered the question, whether the averments, accusations and character assassination in the written statement constitutes mental cruelty for sustaining the claim for divorce under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and held as under:
“The position of law in this regard has come to be well settled and declared that leveling disgusting accusations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a person outside wedlock and accusations of extra marital relationship is a grave assault on the character, honour, reputation, status as well as the health of the wife. Such aspersions of perfidiousness attributed to the wife, viewed in the context of an educated Indian wife and judged by Indian conditions and standards would amount to worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by itself to substantiate cruelty in law, warranting the claim of the wife being allowed. That such allegations made in the written statement or suggested in the course of examination satisfy the requirement of law has also come to be firmly laid down by the Court.” Smt. Jayanti v. Dr. Om Prakash Pandey, 2017 (124) ALR 117.

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Fraud – Meaning of

In Bhaurao Dagdu Paralkar v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 7 SCC 605, it was held as under:
“By fraud is meant an intention to deceive; whether it is from any expectation of advantage to the party himself or from ill will towards the other is immaterial. The expression “fraud” involves two elements, deceit and injury to the person deceived. Injury is something other than economic loss, that is, deprivation of property, whether movable or immovable, or of money and it will include any harm whatever caused to any person in body, mind, reputation or such others. In short, it is a non-economic or non-pecuniary loss. A benefit or advantage to the deceiver, will almost always cause loss or detriment to the deceived. Even in those rare cases where there is a benefit or advantage to the deceiver, but no corresponding loss to the deceived, the second condition is satisfied.
A fraud is an act of deliberate deception with the design of securing something by taking unfair advantage of another. It is a deception in order to gain by another’s loss. It is a cheating intended to get an advantage.
Fraud, as is well known, vitiates every solemn act. Fraud and justice never dwell together. Fraud is a conduct either by letter or words, which induces the other person or authority to take a definite determinative stand as a response to the conduct of the former, either by words or letters. It is also well settled that misrepresentation itself amounts to fraud. A fraudulent misrepresentation is called deceit and consists in leading a man into damage by willfully or recklessly causing him to believe and act on falsehood. It is a fraud in law if a party makes representations, which he knows to be false, and injury ensues therefrom although the motive from which the misrepresentations proceeded may not have been bad. An act of fraud on court is always viewed seriously. A collusion or conspiracy with a view to deprive the rights of others in relation to a property would render the transaction void ab initio. Fraud and deception are synonymous. Although in a given case a deception may not amount to fraud, fraud is anathema to all equitable principles and any affair tainted with fraud cannot be perpetuated or saved by the application of any equitable doctrine including res judicata. DDA v. Bankmens Cooperative Group Housing Society Limited. (2017) 7 SCC 636.

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Taxing Statute – Interpretation of a Word

The principle of statutory interpretation with regard to a word in taxing statutes are well established. In Porritts & Spencer (Asia) Ltd. v. State of Haryana, (1979) 1 SCC 82, it was laid down as under:
“Where a word has a scientific or technical meaning and also an ordinary meaning according to common parlance, it is in the latter sense that in a taxing statute the word must be held to have been used, unless contrary intention is clearly expressed by the Legislature.”
In Union of India v. Delhi Cloth & General Mills Co. Ltd., AIR 1963 SC 791, the question arose as to how the term “refined oil” occurring in tariff was to be construed. There was no competition between the tariff entry with any other, nor was there any need to reconcile and harmonise the said entry with any other provision of the tariff. The Court, therefore, considered the term “refined oil” by applying the commercial meaning or trade nomenclature test and held that only deodorized oil can be considered to be refined oil. The court also referred to the specification of “refined oil” by the Indian Standards Institution and held that:
“This specification by the Indian Standards Institution furnishes very strong and indeed almost incontrovertible support for Dr. Nanji’s view and the respondents’ contention that without deodorization the oil is not “refined oil” as is known to the consumers and the commercial community.”
In Grenfell v. IRC, (1876) LR 1 EX D 242 (DC) it was observed:
“that if a statute contains language which is capable of being construed in a popular sense such statute is not to be construed according to the strict or technical meaning of the language contained in it, but is to be construed in its popular sense, meaning of course, by the words “popular sense”, that sense which people conversant with the subject-matter with which the statute is dealing would attribute to it. But if a word in its popular sense and read in an ordinary way is capable of two constructions, it is wise to adopt such a construction as is based on the assumption that Parliament merely intended to give so much power as was necessary for carrying out the objects of the Act and not to give any unnecessary powers. In other words, the construction of the words is to be adopted to the fitness of the matter of the Statute.”
In Holt & Company v. Collyer, it was held thus:
“If it is a word which is of a technical or scientific character then it must be construed according to that which is its primary meaning, namely, its technical or scientific meaning.”
The Court in K.V. Varkey v. STO, AIR 1956 TC 105 specifically declined to apply the popular or commercial meaning of “Tea” occurring in the sales tax statute holding that the context of the statute required that the technical meaning of “a product of plant life” required to be applied and therefore green tea leaves were tea even though they might not be tea as is known in the market. Parle Agro Private Ltd. v. Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, (2017) 7 SCC 540.

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Judicial Discretion

In Ramji Dayawala & Sons (P) Ltd. v. Invest Import, (1981) 1 SCC 80 it was held:
“When it is said that a matter is within the discretion of the court, it is to be exercised according to well established judicial principles, according to reason and fair play and not according to whim and caprice. “Discretion”, said Lord Mansfield in R v. Wilkes, (1558-1774) All ER Rep 570, when applied to a court of justice, means sound discretion guided by law. It must be governed by rule, not by humour; it must not be arbitrary, vague and fanciful, but legal and regular (see Craies on Statute Law, 6th Edition, P. 273).
In Aero Traders (P) Ltd. v. Ravinder Kumar Suri, (2004) 8 SCC 307, the court observed:
“According to Black’s Law Dictionary “judicial discretion” means the exercise of judgment by a Judge or court based on what is fair under the circumstances and guided by the rules and principles of law; a court’s power to act or not act when a litigant is not entitled to demand the act as a matter of right. The word “discretion” connotes necessarily an act of a judicial character, and, as used with reference to discretion exercised judicially, it implies the absence of a hard and fast rule, and it requires an actual exercise of judgment and a consideration of the facts and circumstances which are necessary to make a sound, fair and just determination, and a knowledge of the facts upon which the discretion may properly operate. (See 27Corpus Juris Secundum, P. 289) When it is said that something is to be done within the discretion of the authorities, that something is to be done according to the rules of reason and justice and not according to private opinion: according to law and not humour. It only gives certain latitude or liberty accorded by statute or rules, to a Judge as distinguished from a ministerial or administrative official, in adjudicating on matters brought before him.” State of Himachal Pradesh v. Nirmala Devi, (2017) 7 SCC 262.

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Expression “Sufficient Cause” – Interpretation of

The expression “sufficient cause” is adequately elastic to enable the court to apply the law in a meaningful manner which subserves the ends of the justice – that being the life –purpose for the existence of the institution of Courts.
Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of State of Haryana v. Chandra Mani and others, AIR 1996 SC 1623 held as under:
“In G. Ramegowda v. Special Land Acquisition Officer, (1988) 2 SCC 142, it was held that no general principle saving the party from all mistakes of its counsel could be laid. The expression “sufficient cause” must receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice and generally delays in preferring the appeals are required to be condoned in the interest of justice where no gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack of bona fide is imputable to the party seeking condonation of delay.”
In Baswaraj v. Special Land Acquisition Officer, AIR 2014 SC 746 it was held as under:
“Sufficient cause is the cause for which Defendant could not be blamed for his absence. The meaning of the word “sufficient” is “adequate” or “enough”, inasmuch as may be necessary to answer the purpose intended. Therefore, the word “sufficient” embraces no more than that which provides a platitude, which when the act done suffices to accomplish the purpose intended in view of the facts and circumstances existing in a case, duly examined from the view point of a reasonable standard of a cautious man. In this context, “sufficient cause” means that the party should not have acted in a negligent manner or there was a want of bona fide on its part in view of the facts and circumstances of a case, or it cannot be alleged that the party has “not acted diligently” or “remained inactive”. However, the facts and circumstances of each case must afford sufficient ground to enable the court concerned to exercise discretion for the reason that whenever the Court exercises discretion, it has to be exercised judiciously.” Smt. Jinnatul Nisa v. VIth ADJ, 2017 (123) ALR 431.

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Corruption – Meaning of

Corruption is antithesis of good governance and democratic politics. It is said, that when corruption is pervasive, it permeates every aspect of people’s lives. It can affect the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat. Going further, some more terminology can also be given to different shades of corruption like, financial corruption, cultural corruption, moral corruption, idealogical corruption etc. The fact remains that from whatever angle it is looked into, the ultimate result borne out is that, and the real impact of corruption is, the poor suffers most, the poverty grows darker, and rich become more richer.
In Secretary, Jaipur Development Authority v. Daulat Mal Jain, (1997) 1 SCC 34 it was held as under:
“When satisfaction sought in the performance of duties is for mutual personal gain, the misuse is usually termed as ‘corruption’”.
In High Court of Judicature at Bombay v. Shirishkumar Rangrao Patil, (1997) 6 SCC 339, the court held:
“Corruption, appears to have spread everywhere. No facet of public function has been left unaffected by the putrefied stink of ‘corruption’. ‘Corruption’ thy name is depraved and degraded conduct…..In the widest connotation, ‘corruption’ includes improper or selfish exercise of power and influence attached to a public office.”
In B.R. Kapur v. State of T.N., (2001) 7 SCC 231, it was held:
“scope of ‘corruption’ in the governing structure has heightened opportunism and unscrupulousness among political parties, causing them to marry and divorce one another at will, seek opportunistic alliances and coalitions often without the popular mandate.”
In State of A.P. v. V. Vasudeva Rao, (2004) 9 SCC 319, the Hon’ble Court stated as under:
“The word ‘corruption’ has wide connotation and embraces almost all the spheres of our day-to-day life the world over. In a limited sense, it connotes allowing decisions and actions of a person to be influenced not by rights or wrongs of a cause, but by the prospects of monetary gains or other selfish considerations.” In the Matter of I.F.C.A.I. v. D.K. Agrawal F.C.A., 2017 (123) ALR 374.

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