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Certificate U/S 65B(4) Evidence Act Mandatory For Production Of Electronic Evidence: Oral Evidence Does Not Suffice: SC

  • In Ravinder Singh @ Kaku vs State of Punjab the Hon’ble Apex Court has held that the certificate under section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act is mandatory for the production of electronic evidence, and oral evidence in place of such certificate cannot suffice.
  • In the instant case, the trial Court convicted three accused in a kidnapping and murder case and were sentenced to death. The present appellant had filed an appeal before the HC against the judgement of the trial Court, wherein two of the accused were acquitted and the appellant was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 20 years. Aggrieved, the present appeal was filed before the Apex Court.
  • At the outset, the Court observed after referring to a plethora of decisions including Bhagat Ram vs State of Punjab AIR 1954 SC that where a case depends upon the conclusion drawn from the circumstances, the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offence home beyond any reasonable doubt. This was not found to be true in the present case, due to the discrepancies in the testimonies given by the various witnesses.
  • Another substantive question of law which arose from the instant case was whether the call records produced by the prosecution would be admissible under section 65A and 65B of the Evidence Act, given that the requirement of certification of electronic evidence was not complied with as contemplated under the Act.
  • To answer this question, the Court referred to the decision of the Apex Court in Arjun Panditrao Khotkar vs Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal (2020) SCC wherein it was observed that the certificate required under section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act was a mandatory condition precedent to the admissibility of the electronic record. Oral evidence in the place of such certificate cannot possibly suffice as the section is mandatory in nature.
  • It was also mentioned in the aforementioned case that section 65B(4) of the Act clearly states that secondary evidence is admissible only if led in the manner stated and not otherwise, and to hold otherwise would render section 65B otiose.
  • Thus, the appeal was allowed and the conviction of the appellant/accused was set aside.

Old Age Home Inmates Are Licensees And Cannot Have Interest In The Property; Cannot Sue For Injunction: SC

  • In the case of Samarpan Varishtha Jan Parisar vs Rajendra Prasad Agarwal, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held senior citizens living in old age homes are licensees. They are only permitted to enjoy the possession of the property and do not have any interest in the property. As licensees, inmates are allowed to stay in old age homes as long as they abide by the terms and conditions of the license.
  • The present appeal was filed to challenge the order passed by Hon’ble HC of Allahabad where the petition filed by the respondents was allowed and an interim injunction was restored as against the order of the Trial Court.
  • The appellant was granted a lease to run an old age home in Lucknow. The lease was initially for 15 years which could be subsequently renewed afterward. There were certain conditions and one of them was to constitute an Advisory Board by lessee i.e appellant in the case. One of the conditions was that the cooperation fund deposited by the inmates would be utilized for accommodation, food, bed, and other essential services of living and general health treatment but extraordinary and expensive expenses would be borne by the inmates themselves. It was also provided that if any inmate violated the rules and regulations, the administration had full right to expel them by issuing one month 's notice.
  • The plaintiff misbehaved with some of the senior inmates and authority even after giving several warnings. Since no behavioral changes were observed, the appellant canceled the membership of the plaintiffs.
  • The High Court granted an injunction to the plaintiff. The main issue which arose before the Apex Court was that
  1. What was the status of the inmates in the old age home?
  2. Were they licensees?
  3. Whether they had the right to stay in the old age home for a lifetime as a matter of right?
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court after examining various precedents came to the conclusion that possession of rooms by inmates in old age homes is that of a licensee permitted to enjoy the possession but could not create any interest in the property. As licensees, they have a legal right to stay in the room of an old age home as long as they comply with the terms and conditions of the license.
  • The Court also discussed the three types of possession. One as that of an owner, including co-owners; second as a tenant, when a right is created in the property; and thirdly permissive possession, the possession which otherwise would be illegal or that of a trespasser. In the present appeal, we are concerned with the possession falling in the third category.
  • The plight of the senior citizens who are abandoned by their children and are compelled to live in old age homes was also highlighted.
  • The Apex Court directed the appellant to arrange an alternative old age home for the respondents and the appeal by the appellant was allowed and the interim injunction sought by the respondent was dismissed.

Mere Signature Does Not Imply Execution Of A Sale Deed If Content Of Document Is Not Understood: SC

  • The Apex Court in Veena Singh (D) vs District Registrar/Additional Collector held that mere signature does not imply execution of a sale deed.
  • It was observed that though the word ‘execution’ itself has not been defined in the Registration Act, it was affirmed that mere signature on the documents does not imply execution of a deed if it was not understood or agreed to.
  • The appellant in the instant case has filed an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the judgment of dismissing a petition under Article 226 by the Hon’ble Allahabad HC.
  • Veena Singh, the appellant, had entered into two agreements with the developer- Gujral Associates to sell her husband’s property.
  • The execution and registration of the sale deed formed the bedrock of the dispute present case. A sale deed allegedly had been executed by the appellant in the favour of the respondent based upon the agreement to sell and upon the payment of the remaining sale consideration.
  • Subsequently, the respondent filed an application to seek permission to execute the sale deed before the Sub-Registrar, Bareilly to which the appellant submitted an objection with a request not to execute the incomplete and forged sale deed in favor of the respondent. She further stated that the respondent had been harassing her to sign the deed forcibly and had furnished misleading and false information to make her sign. Based on the contention made by the appellant, the Sub-Registrar declined the sale deed registration.
  • The declination of sale deed registration was set aside by the District Registrar when an appeal was filed by the respondent u/s 72 of the Registration Act.
  • The order by the District Registrar was challenged by Veena Singh before the High Court. The High Court dismissed the writ petition and gave an opportunity to the appellant to move the Civil Court for a declaration that the sale deed had been obtained fraudulently.
  • The main issue which arose before the Apex Court was whether the signature on the document implies executing the deed even if the person hasn’t understood or agreed to the content in the document
  • Another contention that arose was whether the recourse taken by the respondent to Section 72, Registration Act, against the order of the Sub-Registrar refusing registration on basis of the appellant’s denial of execution would be deprived of a remedy.
  • The meaning of ‘execution’ was discussed in great detail and was concluded that the signature of a person on a document does not amount to an admission of its execution.
  • Scrutinizing several previously decided cases and understanding the facts and circumstances of the present case, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna, and Bela M. Trivedi observed that Section 35, Registration Act does not confer a quasi-judicial power on the Registering Officer to evaluate title or irregularity in the document.
  • The Court held that the objections of the appellant raised serious issues that could only have been addressed before the competent civil court and set aside the decision of the High Court and allowed the petition.
  • Hence the appeal was allowed and the impugned order of the High Court was set aside.
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