Reading List – October 2014

The LegalCrystal Reading List is a monthly selection of thought-provoking articles/cases on a wide range of legal topics. Past issues are archived on  Twitter & Facebook. Enjoy!

Dipanwita Roy Vs. Ronobroto Roy – Supreme Court (Oct-15-2014) – DNA test the most legitimate and scientifically perfect means for husband to establish his assertion of infidelity – Para 11. The question that has to be answered in this case, is in respect of the alleged infidelity of the appellant-wife. The respondent-husband has made clear and categorical assertions in the petition filed by him under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, alleging infidelity. He has gone to the extent of naming the person, who was the father of the male child born to the appellant-wife. It is in the process of substantiating his allegation of infidelity, that the respondent-husband had made an application before the Family Court for conducting a DNA test, which would establish whether or not, he had fathered the male child born to the appellant-wife. The respondent feels that it is only possible for him to substantiate the allegations levelled by him (of the appellant-wife’s infidelity) through a DNA test. We agree with him. In our view, but for the DNA test, it would be impossible for the respondent-husband to establish and confirm the assertions made in the pleadings. We are therefore satisfied, that the direction issued by the High Court, as has been extracted hereinabove, was fully justified. DNA testing is the most legitimate and scientifically perfect means, which the husband could use, to establish his assertion of infidelity. This should simultaneously be taken as the most authentic, rightful and correct means also with the wife, for her to rebut the assertions made by the respondent-husband, and to establish that she had not been unfaithful, adulterous or disloyal. If the appellant-wife is right, she shall be proved to be so.

Vidhya Viswanathan Vs. Kartik Balakrishnan – Supreme Court (Sep-22-2014) – Not allowing a spouse to have sexual intercourse by his or her partner amounts mental cruelty – Para 12. Undoubtedly, not allowing a spouse for a long time, to have sexual intercourse by his or her partner, without sufficient reason, itself amounts mental cruelty to such spouse. A Bench of Three Judges of this Court in Samar Ghosh vs. Jaya Ghosh (2007) 4 SCC511 has enumerated some of the illustrations of mental cruelty.

Madras Bar Association Vs. Union of India & Anr. – Supreme Court (Sep-25-2014) – National Tax Tribunal Act – entire enactment is declared unconstitutional – Para 91. (i) The Parliament has the power to enact legislation, and to vest adjudicatory functions, earlier vested in the High Court, with an alternative court/tribunal. Exercise of such power by the Parliament would not per se violate the “basic structure” of the Constitution. (ii) Recognized constitutional conventions pertaining to the Westminster model, do not debar the legislating authority from enacting legislation to vest adjudicatory functions, earlier vested in a superior court, with an alternative court/tribunal. Exercise of such power by the Parliament would per se not violate any constitutional convention. (iii) The “basic structure” of the Constitution will stand violated, if while enacting legislation pertaining to transfer of judicial power, Parliament does not ensure, that the newly created court/tribunal, conforms with the salient characteristics and standards, of the court sought to be substituted. (iv) Constitutional conventions, pertaining to constitutions styled on the Westminster model, will also stand breached, if while enacting legislation, pertaining to transfer of judicial power, conventions and salient characteristics of the court sought to be replaced, are not incorporated in the court/tribunal sought to be created. (v) The prayer made in Writ Petition (C) No.621 of 2007 is declined. Company Secretaries are held ineligible, for representing a party to an appeal before the NTT. (vi) Examined on the touchstone of conclusions (iii) and (iv) above, Sections 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13 of the NTT Act (to the extent indicated hereinabove), are held to be unconstitutional. Since the aforesaid provisions, constitute the edifice of the NTT Act, and without these provisions the remaining provisions are rendered ineffective and inconsequential, the entire enactment is declared unconstitutional.

Prem Kumar Gulati Vs. State of Haryana & Anr. – Supreme Court (Sep-23-2014) – Wrongful conviction of an innocent person – Cautions against wrongful convictions – Para 27 – It is no doubt true that wrongful acquittals are undesirable and shake the confidence of the people in the judicial system, much worse, however, is the wrongful conviction of an innocent person. The consequences of the conviction of an innocent person are far more serious and its reverberations cannot but be felt in a civilised society. Suppose an innocent person is convicted of the offence of murder and is hanged, nothing further can undo the mischief for the wrong resulting from the unmerited conviction is irretrievable. To take another instance, if an innocent person is sent to jail and undergoes the sentence, the scars left by the miscarriage of justice cannot be erased by any subsequent act of expiation. Not many persons undergoing the pangs of wrongful conviction are fortunate like Dreyfus to have an Emile Zola to champion their cause and succeed in getting the verdict of guilt annulled. All this highlights the importance of ensuring, as far as possible, that there should be no wrongful conviction of an innocent person. Some risk of the conviction of the innocent, of course, is always there in any system of the administration of criminal justice. Such a risk can be minimised but not ruled out altogether. It may in this connection be apposite to refer to the following observations of Sir Carleton Alien quoted on p. 157 of The Proof of Guilt by Glanville Williams, 2nd Edn.: “I dare say some sentimentalists would assent to the proposition that it is better that a thousand or even a million guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer; but no responsible and practical person would accept such a view. For it is obvious that if our ratio is extended indefinitely, there comes a point when the whole system of justice has broken down and society is in a state of chaos.”

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