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Top Ten Legal Headlines of the Week-28 Aug 2023

Top Ten Legal Headlines of the Week-28 Aug 2023


1. Extra-Judicial Confession Weak Piece of Evidence Can Be Relied on If Proven to Be Voluntary, Truthful and Free of Inducement: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court highlighted that while extra-judicial confessions are generally weaker evidence, they can still lead to convictions if proven voluntary, truthful, and untainted by inducement. This underscores the Court's reliance on these factors for conviction and involves evaluating their reliability within the surrounding context. The precedent of Pawan Kumar Chaurasia v State of Bihar further strengthens this view by recognising the potential value of such confessions despite their inherent limitations.

2. Customs Act Does Not Create a Statutory First Charge    Overriding Charge in Favour of Secured Creditor Under S. 529A Of Companies Act: Supreme Court

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has determined that during the winding-up process of a company, any outstanding customs duty owed by the company would be classified as a preferential payment according to Section 530(1)(a) of the Companies Act, 1956. However, it is essential to note that customs duty payments would not take precedence or supersede the payments due to overriding preferential creditors, as outlined in Section 529A of the Companies Act. These overriding preferential creditors encompass secured creditors, as confirmed by the Court's decision.

3. Need Effective Practical Steps Against Hate Speech': Supreme Court Seeks Responses from States on Appointment of Nodal Officers

A bench led by Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti addressed petitions against hate speeches, including one about calls for the economic boycott of Muslims after communal clashes in Haryana. The Supreme Court emphasised practical steps to enforce previous rulings on hate speech. It asked the state government to report their progress in appointing district-level nodal officers as per the Tehseen Poonawalla guideline.

4. Cauvery River | 'We Don't Possess Expertise': Supreme Court Seeks CWMA Report On TN-Karnataka Dispute

The Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati notified the Supreme Court that the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee (CWRC) will convene on Monday to discuss water release for the upcoming two weeks. The Court instructed the CWRC to confirm compliance with its previous orders for Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu. In response to Tamil Nadu's plea to release 24,000 cusecs of Cauvery River water from Karnataka, the Supreme Court directed the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) to present their report by the following Friday.

5. Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Appointment of Prof Venkatachalam as VC Of Central University of Kerala

The bench, comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta, dismissed the SLP, noting that three years had passed since the VC's appointment. They highlighted that those unhappy with the selection process hadn't approached the Apex Court. The Supreme Court rejected a Special Leave Petition against the Kerala High Court's decision, which upheld Prof Venkateshwarlu's appointment as Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Kerala. The petitioner had argued that the appointment violated UGC Regulations, the Central Universities Act, 2009, and related statutes, citing procedural flaws.

6. Doctrine of Harmonious Construction - Ambiguous Clauses in Deed Must Be Interpreted Consistent with Other Clauses & With Intent of Parties: Supreme Court

A case involving a land acquisition matter came before the Supreme Court presided over by Justices Bela M Trivedi and Dipankar Dutta. The case pertained to an appeal against a Bombay High Court judgment, where the entire award had been overturned. The High Court had remanded the issue back to the Reference Court for a fresh decision. In a recent development, the Supreme Court skilfully employed the doctrine of harmonious construction to address the ambiguity in the consent terms between the parties. The High Court had documented these terms concerning the award.

7. High Court's Decision Based on Admitted Documents & Not Disputed Facts: Supreme Court Dismisses Orissa Govt Plea

Justices J.B. Pardiwala and S.V.N. Bhatti's bench upheld the Orissa High Court's decision on a land dispute involving IDCO and a late Vice Admiral's heir. The High Court heard the Vice Admiral's writ petition against the State and IDCO. The issue was the High Court's jurisdiction; the appellant argued the Court decided on contested facts beyond writ limits. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court's verdict, citing reliance on established records, not disputed facts. The claim of the High Court exceeding jurisdiction in addressing disputed facts was dismissed.

8. Execution Petition Can't Be Dismissed as Inexcusable Merely Because Property's Possession Is Lost To Third Party: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has ruled that an Executing Court cannot reject an execution petition based on property loss to a third party, deeming a possession decree unenforceable. Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Prashant Kumar Mishra made this judgment while hearing an appeal against the Delhi High Court's decision. The High Court had upheld the Executing Court's ruling that the possession decree couldn't be enforced against the judgment-debtor, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

9. Retired Employees Can't Claim Benefit of Subsequent Govt Decision to Increase Retirement Age: Supreme Court

 The Supreme Court dismissed a plea filed by homoeopathic doctors requesting the retrospective application of the Kerala government's decision to raise the retirement age of doctors in government homoeopathic colleges from 56 to 60 years [Dr. Prakasan MP and Others vs State of Kerala and Another]. Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal formed the bench and emphasised that decisions of this nature are solely under the jurisdiction of the Executive. The Court noted that regardless of the cut-off date set by the State, some employees would inevitably remain unaffected by the decision.

10. Hathras gang rape: Supreme Court seeks response from Central and UP governments on plea by victim's family for relocation outside UP 

A panel comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Mishra has issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government, scheduling the case for a September 8, 2023, hearing. In response to a plea by the deceased victim's family in the Hathras gangrape case, the Supreme Court sought the Uttar Pradesh government's response. The plea requests orders for relocating the family outside the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP).