In this roundup of court rulings, we look at remarks and directions from the Constitutional Courts regarding SC/ST membership in one state claiming benefits in another state, with membership in five or more being a condition essential for unlawful assembly, allowing the termination of a 28-week pregnancy due to fetal abnormalities, instructions to the CBSE to consider “best of both world” exams for final results, compensation to be paid immediately if a person is deprived of possession of his property due to the acquisition of land.
Supreme Court: a state-owned SC/ST cannot claim benefits admissible to that community in another state to which it has migrated
In Bhadar Ram (D) v Jassa Ram, the Supreme Court held that a Scheduled Caste (SC) belonging to or being an ordinary and permanent resident of the State of Punjab cannot claim the benefit of a SC in the State of Rajasthan for land purchase. The observation was made by the Apex Court while hearing a dispute over land in Rajasthan which was awarded to Chunilal, a landless man from SC and father of the respondent, Jassa Ram. According to the respondent, in 1972, Chunilal had borrowed Rs. 5,000 from Puran Singh who belonged to Jat High Caste. Puran Singh had fraudulently made Chunilal sign the bill of sale in favor of the appellant, Bhadar Ram, who was an SC from Punjab.
Chunilal then filed an eviction action against Puran Singh and Bhadar Ram as he was the allottee of the land and the deed of sale was void and ineffective, and violated section 42 of the Tenancy Act of Rajasthan of 1955 and Section 13 of the Colonization of Rajasthan Act of 1954. The Magistrates Court held that the Bill of Sale violated the said legislation and therefore Puran Singh was liable to deportation. It was observed that Bhadar Ram was the holder of Benami for Puran Singh. The land was in possession of Puran Singh.
Dissatisfied with the decree, Bhadar Ram took the matter to the Board of Revenue, where he was granted the benefit of capitalization on payment of compounding fee under Section 13 of the Rajasthan Settlement Act 1954. Chunilal, who was not satisfied with the decision of the Commission filed a writ petition in the High Court, which ruled that the Appellant (Bhadar Ram) being the resident and SC belonging to Punjab, could not avail of its SC status in Rajasthan.
Bhadar Ram then appealed to the Supreme Court of India. The bench consisting of Judges MR Shah and AS Bopanna noted that Bhadar Ram claimed to be a resident of Rajasthan simply because his grandfather and father had lands in the state. The bench invoked the Representation of the People Act 1950 and said that possession of land in Rajasthan did not lead to the conclusion that the person belonged to that state (using the definition of “habitually resident”). Moreover, there was no proof of his birth in Rajasthan.
He noted that Section 42 of the Rajasthan Tenancy Act imposes restrictions on the sale, gift or bequest by a person belonging to SC to a person who does not belong to SC, in order to protect state-owned SCs. The Court added that the social condition of the community varied from state to state and therefore it would not be appropriate to generalize a Caste or Tribe as SC/ST at the national level.
The bench referred to decisions in ‘Action Committee on Issue of Caste Certificate to SCs and STs in the state of Maharashtra & Another vs. Union of India & Another (1994)’, ‘Marri Chandra Shekar Rao vs. Dean, Geth GS Medical College & Others (1990)’, and subsequent judgments, and dismissed the appeal as the land transaction violated Section 13 of the Rajasthan Settlement Act 1954 and Section 42 of the Rajasthan Tenancy Act 1955.
Supreme Court: Membership of five or more is essential requirement for unlawful assembly
Complaints have been filed against Mahendra Singh, Roop Singh, Khilan Singh, Bhujbal and 10-12 other people and 17 other people alleging that in 2004 the plaintiffs went to a village to lift the engine of a tractor and while they were coming back a gang of 20 came with lathi and farsa and started abusing and assaulting them. In 2018, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh upheld the trial court’s conviction of those involved in the assault for an offense under Section 325 read together with Section 149 of the ICC, and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs. 500, or failing that, one month’s imprisonment.
Mahendra Singh and others (Mahendra v State Of MP) then appealed to the SC saying that the indictment was originally filed against 20 people and all of them had been tried and 17 of the 20 defendants had been tried. acquitted by the court of first instance and that the three other defendants were convicted under articles 325 and 149 of the ICC. Additionally, they said Section 141 requires an unlawful assembly to require a minimum of five or more people.
The SC bench made up of judges Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka said it is an essential condition of an unlawful assembly that its members must be at least five. Furthermore, it may not necessarily be necessary that five or more people be brought before the Court and sentenced. Less than five people can also be charged under Article 149 provided that the people in court and the others being unidentified and unarmed people (more than five people in total) constitute an unlawful assembly.
The Chamber, noting that the co-accused were tried and acquitted, stated the following:
The bench allowed the appeal, reversing the trial court and HC’s conviction.
Delhi HC: Allow termination of 28-week pregnancy due to fetal abnormalities
In Sangeeta Thapa vs. Government of NCT Of Delhi & Ors., the applicant, a 28-year-old pregnant woman, sought medical termination of her 28-week pregnancy as the fetus was suffering from a rare condition such that the child was not likely to survive beyond one year with continued medical assistance, according to the medical opinion. It would harm his physical and mental health.
The Court noted that a simple reading of Sections 3(2)(b)(i), 3(2)(b)(ii) and 3(2B) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act states that the medical termination of pregnancy may, in certain cases, be authorized, even if the duration of the pregnancy exceeds 24 weeks.
Referring to recent judgments, Pratibha Gaur v NCT Government of Delhi & Ors. (2021), XYZ v Union of India, (2019) and Priyanka Shukla v Union of India, (2019), the Court stated that if the Claimant is forced to continue her pregnancy, she will be subjected to extreme hardship amount of distress mental, emotional and even financial. The Court thus authorized the applicant to undergo a medical termination of pregnancy.
Supreme Court: Orders CSBE to offer “Best of Two” option to students instead of treating improvement exam scores as final
Clause 28 of the CBSE policy allows students to sit for improvement exams to those who are not satisfied with the assessment. However, the policy stipulated that marks obtained on the professional development exam would be considered final. This diagram has been inserted without any justification by CBSE, in place of the previous diagram where the better of the two marks would be considered for the declaration of the final result.
In Sukriti & Ors v CBSE & Ors, the SC Bench comprising Judges AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar overturned this policy and ordered CBSE to provide options to the contestant to accept the better of the two scores obtained in the subject for the final statement of his/her results.
Supreme Court: Compensation must be paid immediately if a person is deprived of possession of his property due to the acquisition of land
In Gayabai Digambar Puri (deceased) v Executive Engineer, the issue was whether the obligation to pay interest commences from the date of possession or only from the date of allotment. The referring court ordered that interest be paid from 4 April 1997, the date of taking possession, until 3 April 1998 for the first year at the rate of 9% per annum and thereafter at the rate of 15% the year from April 4, 1998 until the date of payment, September 8, 2004.
The High Court quashed the judgment. The SC bench consisting of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar in the current appeal reinstated the guidance of the Reference Court and said: “The normal rule is that if, as a result of the acquisition of land, a person is deprived of possession of his property, he should be paid compensation immediately and if this is not paid to him immediately, he will be entitled to interest on the amount of the compensation from the date of taking possession land until the date of payment”. Thus, the High Court order was amended accordingly.
The featured image: Important judgments of the Court