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Taking Daughter-In-Law’s Jewellery For Safekeeping Does Not Constitute Cruelty Under 498A IPC: SC

  • The Hon’ble SC has observed that keeping a daughter in law’s jewellery for safekeeping does not constitute cruelty within the meaning of section 498A of IPC.
  • In the instant case, the complainant had filed a case of dowry harassment against her husband and her in-laws after they came to India. The Court passed an interim order restraining them from leaving India.
  • Alleging that there was no allegation of value against him, the brother-in-law moved the Punjab and Haryana HC, but the Court dismissed the plea. Aggrieved, he moved the SC.
  • The SC modified the decision of the lower Court in so far as the brother-in-law was concerned. Noting that the brother was not liable for any acts of cruelty, or any other wrongful acts on the part of his parents or brother (complainant's husband), the Court observed that there is no specific allegation against the brother-in-law except the vague allegation that he and his mother had kept her jewellery.
  • The Court also took note of the fact that the appellant brother lives and works in Texas whereas the complainant and her husband live and work in North Carolina. Them not even living together seriously puts a question as to the alleged involvement of the appellant in the harassment of the complainant.
  • In addition to this, the Court also added that the complainant had not given any particulars of the jewellery that she alleges to have been taken away by the brother-in-law and his mother.
  • The Court also observed that it has not been alleged that the appellant had forcefully taken away and misappropriated the jewellry, or had denied returning the same on the complainant’s request. Merely taking custody of the jewellery for safekeeping does not come within the ambit of section 498A of IPC.
  • Taking note of all the aforesaid circumstances, the Hon’ble SC observed that it would not be fair to confine the appellant (brother-in-law) in India and observed that the order of the HC denying permission to the appellant to leave India was unsustainable and hence was set aside.

Absolute Immunity To Judges Challenged! Keep Reading To Know All About It

  • A plea has been filed in the Bombay HC challenging section 3 of the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985 that protects Judges from criminal or civil liability with regard to anything done or said by them in discharge of their official duties.
  • The petitioner, Sabina Lakdawala, had filed an application in the Court of 12th Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court under the DV Act on October 23, 2021 against her in-laws after her husband had passed away. The matter was heard for ex-parte relief on 30 October, 2021. However, the learned Magistrate left for her Diwali Vacation on the same day without passing any order in the same.
  • It was alleged by the petitioner that she had learned from some trusted sources that the Magistrate is inclined to delay the proceedings. Alarmed by this, she moved the HC. The HC directed the Magistrate to pass appropriate orders in the same.
  • Her in-laws were then called upon to file a counter affidavit, but despite no substantial arguments being advanced by her in-laws, she was not granted any relief in the Court of the learned Magistrate. The Court also adjourned the matter for hearing in March, 2022 which was later pre-poned to December, 2021. Even on this occasion the magistrate refused to pass any order, citing as reason, a lack of jurisdiction.
  • In the present writ petition filed under Article 226, she has sought directions to strike out the impugned section 3, or atleast read it down so that the immunity does not apply to cases where the Judge acts maliciously and wilfully denies justice.
  • The petitioner also claims that despite the injustice meted out to her, she cannot institute any proceedings against the respondent Magistrate because of the absolute immunity that the said Act provides. It was further contended by the petitioner that section 3 of the aforementioned Act renders section 197 of CrPC infructuous. Section 197 of CrPC favors the accountability of Judges by providing that the sanction for prosecuting any Judge for the wrongful acts done by him during the course of his duty as such Judge has to be sought by the appropriate government. Unless such a sanction is granted, the Courts cannot take cognizance of such wrongdoings by the Judge.
  • Equality before law and equal protection of the laws as envisaged in Article 14 of the Constitution forms the bedrock of our justice system. Thus, the petitioner contended that absolute immunity granted to a Judge even in cases of malicious and wilful denial of justice stands against the very foundation of our criminal justice system.
  • It was the petitioner’s plea that due to the wilful denial of the magistrate to pass the order, she was rendered homeless and at the mercy of others, she thus quantified the mental and physical agony that she was subjected to at 10 crores. It is important to note here that the business empire of her husband was worth 1000 crores.
  • The respondents to the instant petition also include the Magistrate, Department of Law and Justice, Maharashtra Public Service Commissioner and the Registrar, HC.

Successful Bidder Cannot Dodge His Bid Claiming It To Be A Conditional Offer: NCLAT

  • The Principal Bench of NCAT (National Company Law Appellate Tribunal) comprising Justice Anant Bijay Singh and Ms. Shreesha Merla, in a case titled M/s Visisth Services Ltd. vs. S.V.Ramani has held that the successful bidder cannot escape his contractual obligations and withdraw his bid after paying the Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) on the ground that the offer made by the bidder was a conditional one.
  • In the instant case, the Corporate Debtor had filed an application under section of IBC, pursuant to which an order of liquidation was passed by the Adjudicating Authority. The Liquidator, in pursuance of the aforementioned order, started inviting bids through e-Auction for the sale of the Company as a ‘Going Concern’. The appellant in the case was the highest successful bidder.
  • The appellant sent a clarificatory email to the Liquidator (respondent). He proposed different terms and stated that their acceptance would be subject to extinguishment of liabilities of the Corporate Debtor. To this, the Liquidator clarified that the terms and conditions of the Bid Document cannot be changed once it has been brought to the public domain. One of the terms in the bid document was that Corporate Debtor will be sold on an ‘as is very basis’. The appellant thereafter filed an appeal before the NCLAT.
  • The appellant contended that he had communicated to the Liquidator that his offer was conditional and he will participate in the auction only when the liabilities attached to the Corporate Debtor were already taken care of. Whereas the respondent Liquidator contended that it had, in its email, specifically stated that no changes can be made to the information document once it has been brought to the public domain. As far as the extinguishment of the liabilities is concerned, the sale of the Corporate Debtor was on ‘as is very basis’.
  • While adjudicating upon the contention of the appellant as regards the ‘Going Concern’, the Tribunal relied upon Regulation 32A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2016 and concluded that the sale as going concern meant the sale of both assets and liabilities, as Regulation 32A states that for the purpose of the sale as an Corporate Debtor, the group of assets and liabilities has to be sold as a going concern.
  • As regards the withdrawal of the bid and the refund of the EMD amount, the tribunal observed that if the bidder is allowed to withdraw his bid at such a stage citing that their conditional offer has not been accepted, then the process of Liquidation would be a never ending one. The Tribunal, in this regard, relied upon the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Pawan Kumar Aggarwal vs. Association of Management Studies and anr. wherein it was held that the tender is an offer which must be unconditional and the person to whom the same is made must be willing to perform his obligations. Judicial review can only be allowed in cases where the conditions of the bid have been so strategically made that they suit a particular bidder, to the exclusion of all others.
  • Thus, dismissing the appeal, the Tribunal also held that the appellant is not entitled to the refund of the EMD amount if he does not comply with the conditions of the contract.
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