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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The article shall study some important judgements given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in last few years.
  • The Court has given some important judgements in both civil and criminal matters, which have laid out some important rules to be followed in certain situations.

INTRODUCTION

The Punjab and Haryana High Court is situated at Chandigarh and as the name suggests, serves as the court of judicature for the states of Punjab, Haryana, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. It is a very important High Court in the northern region, as it lays down some very important judgements which often lay down various important rules for the executive branch and also the population in general.

LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS

Some of the important judgements given by the High Court in recent times are as follows:

a. Gurjeet Singh Johar v. State of Punjab and Anr. CRM-M No.47872 of 2019

Brief facts: The petitioner made this petition under Sections 482 and 483 of the CrPC to quash the arrest warrants issued against him by the Magistrate. The counsel for the petitioner argued that there were no reasons to arrest the petitioner given by the police in their application to the Magistrate. Further, the situation of the current case did not allow the Magistrate an opportunity to exercise his discretion regarding the petitioner being evasive of the arrest or not.

Judgement: The Court held that the Magistrate has to exercise his discretion in a judicial manner and cannot issue a warrant solely on an application made by the police authorities. The Court also held that it would be mandatory for the police to record the reasons to get an arrest warrant, if they cannot arrest the accused with normal investigation.

b. Sukhjinder Singh v. Buta Singh CRM-M-30633 of 2019

Brief facts: The petitioner gave a cheque signed by him to the complainant which defaulted upon payment. So, the complainant filed a case under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, which related to the offence of dishonor of cheques. The petitioner contented that the cheque was signed by him but not “drawn” by him as he did not fill in the contents of the cheque. His contention was not upheld by the lower courts, so he made an appeal to the High Court to uphold his contention.

Judgement: The High Court referred to the definitions given in the NI Act and concluded that the law does not require that the cheque should be filled by the signatory authority only, and that the aggrieved person does not need to prove that the details of the cheque were filled by the offender himself; the signature is sufficient. Stating that, the High Court found the petition to be non-maintainable and did not allow it.

c. Gajab Singh v. State of Haryana CRR-767-2018

Brief facts: In this case, the petitioner was charged for a number of offences in the IPC, including attempt to murder, house trespass etc. He took a plea of being a juvenile and therefore to be tried in a Juvenile Court. He presented his matriculation certificate alongwith other documents, but they had different date of births. The counsel for the petitioner stressed on the primacy of matriculation certificate being the document to be used for identifying a person as juvenile, as laid down in 2007 Juvenile Justice Rules. But the opposing counsel argued that the 2007 Rules have been overruled by the 2015 Juvenile Justice Act.

Judgement: The Court held that the matriculation certificate is not the sole criteria to label a person as juvenile, as the 2015 Act had overshadowed the 2007 Rules. Further, since in this case, the additional information was available, which showed that the person had given different date of births in different certificates, it would also be considered. The Court could take a view on the age of a person by his looks in some cases.

d. Jatinder Pal Singh v. Krishan Kishore Bajaj CRM-M-37435 of 2018

Brief facts: This case involved the presenting of electronic evidences by the applicant towards his defence in a case of dishonor of a cheque. The applicant, who was accused under Section 138 NI Act, wanted to place some electronic evidences like pen drives etc., to prove his defence, but the opposing party objected to it as the evidence was not authentic.

Judgement: The Court held that electronic evidences under Sections 65A and 65B of the Evidence Act can be admitted only with a certificate as to their authenticity, and in its absence, the evidence cannot be made admissible. The Court further held that the difference between primary and secondary evidence did not apply to electronic evidences.

e. Ankush Kumar @ Sonu v. State of Punjab CRM-M-30643 of 2018

Brief facts: The petitioner was found having some prohibited drugs in his possession and was charged under the Section 22 of the NDPS Act. The petitioner argued that he was wrongfully framed by the police and applied for a bail under Section 37 of the Act, but was rejected by the Special Court. So, after spending more than a year in prison, the petitioner filed for a bail plea under Section 439 CrPC.

Judgement: The Court, upon reading the conditions to grant bail under Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the Act, found them to be unconstitutional, but it was not within its powers to declare it as unconstitutional in the present case. So, the High Court held the conditions of the Act to be fulfilled and granted bail to the petitioner.

f. Ramandeep Kaur v. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) CWP-8015-2017

Brief facts: The petitioner gave an examination of Junior Research Fellowship for the post of lecturer in an institution. She scored 33.50 per cent, which was lesser than the cut-off marks. When she filed an objection with the respondent, it was given to a new set of experts, who noticed that the some of the options in the answer key were incorrectly marked. The marks were awarded on the basis of the updated answer key, due to which, she lost more marks.

Judgement: The Court held that the experts who prepared the question paper cannot be disassociated from the process of verifying the correctness of their answers. They are liable to receive and respond to the objections. At the same time, the original paper-setters have a right to receive the objections, to reply to them, and their replies to be sent to the independent candidate, who would re-check the answers.

g. Suresh Kumar and Anr. V. State of Haryana and Ors. CWP No.26 of 2018

Brief facts: The petition was brought by the President and Vice-President of Narwana Municipal Council, who were defeated in a vote of no confidence against them. They filed the petition stating procedural fallacies on the part of the Presiding Officer, in the sense that instead of voting by secret ballot, voting was done by the show of hands. The petitioners wanted to nullify the vote and claimed that there was political pressure on the members who voted in favour of the no-confidence motion.

Judgement: The Court undertook a reading of the Haryana Municipal Election Rules, 1978, on the basis of which, the Court held that the Presiding Officer was not obliged to conduct the voting by secret ballot and he was well within his powers when he opted for voting by show of hands. Further, the Court also negated the aspect of political pressure in this case.

h. Satya Pal Arora v. Central Administrative Tribunal and Ors. Civil Writ Petition No.24614 of 2016

Brief facts: The petitioner was an officer of the State Civil Services who joined in 1994. In the 2015 Selection List, which was made by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh to recommend the promotion of Civil Servants, the petitioner’s name was at 10th position, but he was not considered for promotion. Even an officer who had passed away in the meantime was recommended for promotion. Aggrieved by this, he made an application to the Tribunal, but it was rejected. He made an appeal to the High Court stating that the manner of reducing his ratings was arbitrary. The Tribunal argued that it’s decisions were final and that there was no scope of judicial review of its decisions.

Judgement: The Court rejected the notion about the finality of the decisions of the Tribunal and held that the decisions of the Tribunal can be subjected to judicial review. Stating that, the Court held that the authorities had to give reasons for not considering an officer, and not having done that in the present case, the Court held the process to be arbitrary and set the order aside.

i. Shiv Lochan Singh v. National Insurance Company Ltd. FAO No. 4287 of 2005

Brief facts: The appellant in this case was ordered by a Motor Vehicle Tribunal to pay damages to the family of the person who was a passenger in his car, and whose death was caused due to the rash and negligent driving of the appellant, who was also the owner of the car. But since he did not have a valid license, the Insurance Company, with which the car was insured, was ordered to pay the compensation with orders that it could recover the amount from the present appellant. The appellant contested the order stating that he had valid evidence and therefore, the liability to pay was on the Insurance Company and it could not recover the amount. The Court found it to be valid. The Insurance Company contested that the insurance policy of the car protected only the driver and any third person who suffered injury after getting hit by the car, and therefore, it was not liable to pay the compensation.

Judgement: The Court referred to the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, and also the 1939 Act. It also referred to various judgements and held that a passenger in car and a pillion on a bike would also be covered in the insurance policy and the Insurance Company would be liable to pay compensation in the event of any harm suffered by such persons. Therefore, the right of the Insurance Company to recover the amount from the appellants was not allowed. Further, the calculations made by the Tribunal was also altered to be in line with the correct formula.

j. M/s Radha Raman Industries v. M/s Manoj Trading Company RSA No.351 of 2016

Brief facts: The appellant had purchased mustard seeds from the respondent (original plaintiff) for Rs. 5,45,376, out of which, it paid only Rs. 45,000. The respondent filed a suit against the original defendant (appellant in the present case) to recover the money. The defendant contended that it had paid all the money and no payment was due. It also produced various receipts which could not be verified. So, the Trial Court and the Lower Appellate Court passed the order in favour of the plaintiff. In an appeal to the High Court, the appellant contended that the suit should have been brought in the name of the proprietor, as the same was mandated under Order 30 of the CPC.

Judgement: The Court perused Order 30 and found that there was no express bar on bringing a suit in the name of the proprietary entity. The Court held that if there is clarity in the relation between the owner and the business entity, the suit can be brought in the name of the entity. Finding the same to be present in the case, the Court held that the suit filed in the name of the proprietary concerned was maintainable.

k. Brahm Dutt v. Sarabjit Singh RSA No. 2943 of 2017

Brief facts: The appellant in this case (original defendant) came into an agreement with the respondent (original plaintiff) to sell his house for Rs. 40,50,000, of which, the plaintiff paid Rs. 10,00,000. On the date of execution of agreement, the defendant did not reach the office of Sub-Registrar. The plaintiff sent a legal notice to him to come to the office at some later date but even then, the defendant did not reach the office. So, the plaintiff brought a case against him. The defendant argued that it was not an agreement to sell but an agreement to borrow money as loan with the house serving as the security, and that he had rescinded the agreement by way of a legal notice. Both the Trial Court and the Lower Appellate Court went in favour of the plaintiff. So, the appeal came to the High Court.

Judgement. The Court looked into various documents involved in the case and observed that the appellant’s legal notice was not valid and that it never reached the respondent. Further, the Court observe that such unilateral rescission of agreement will frustrate the objectives of Specific Relief. This, along with the fact that the appellant was not able to prove that he took the money as a loan and that the house was a security, prompted the Court to hold that the appellant was liable to specific performance of the agreement to sell.

l. Ram Pal Singh v. State of Punjab CRA-S-463-SB-2010

Brief facts: This case was brought in an appeal against the decision of the Trial Court ordering conviction under the NDPS Act. The appellant, along with some others, were charged under the NDPS Act for having two gunny bags of poppy husk when a police team was patrolling the area. One of the police constables claimed to have identified 2 of the accused, having known them previously. They collected the gunny bags and gave it to an assistant, who was not a policeman. During the trial, the prosecution discarded the independent witness, asserting that he was bribed by the opposing party. The Trial Court proceeded with the arguments and convicted the appellant. So, he made an appeal to the High Court to reverse the verdict on the ground that the only independent witness was not examined.

Judgement: The High Court held that the Trial Court should have been more prudent when it came to hearing an independent witness who has been given up by the prosecution, and though his testimony may not have any substantial weight in the case, he must have been given the opportunity to speak. Further, the Court found that the conduct of the police in the investigation and their case was faulty. Therefore, the Court reversed the decision of the Trial Court and acquitted the accused appellant of all the charges.

CONCLUSION

After going through these cases, we can conclude that the Punjab and Haryana High Court has indeed given some valuable judgements across various subjects, be it Law Of Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Motor Vehicle Act, NDPS Act, NI Act, Administrative Law etc.


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