What is Judgment

In Smt. Swaran Lata Ghosh Vs. Harendra Kumar Banerjee and Anr. (AIR 1969 SC 1167), it was inter-alia held as follows (at Para 6):

“Trial of a civil dispute in Court is intended to achieve, according to law and the procedure of the Court, a judicial determination between the contesting parties of the matter in controversy. Opportunity to the parties interested in the dispute to present their respective cases on question of law as well as fact, ascertainment of facts by means of evidence tendered by the parties and adjudication by a reasoned judgment of the dispute upon a finding on the facts in controversy and application of the law to the facts found, are essential attributes of a judicial trial. In a judicial trial, the judge not only must reach a conclusion which he regards as just, but, unless otherwise permitted, by the practice of the Court or by law, he must record the ultimate mental process leading from the dispute to its solution. A judicial determination of a disputed claim where substantial questions of law or fact arise is satisfactorily reached, only if it be supported by the most cogent reasons that suggest themselves to the Judge; a mere order deciding the matter in dispute not supported by reasons is no judgment at all. Recording of reasons in support of a decision of a disputed claim serves more purposes than one. It is intended to ensure that the decision is not the result of whim or fancy, but of a judicial approach to the matter in contest; it is also intended to ensure adjudication of the matter according to law and the procedure established by law. A party to the dispute is ordinarily entitled to know the grounds on which the Court has decided against him, and more so, when the judgment is subject to appeal. The Appellate Court will then have adequate material on which it may determine whether the facts are properly ascertained, the law has been correctly applied and the resultant decision is just. It is unfortunate that the learned Trial Judge has recorded no reasons in support of his conclusion, and the High Court in appeal merely recorded that they thought that the plaintiff had sufficiently proved the case in the plant.”

What is the purpose of contempt jurisdiction

In Jhareswar Prasad Paul and Another Vs. Tarak Nath Ganguly and Others(AIR 2002 SC 2215 ), opined as extracted below:

“The purpose of contempt jurisdiction is to uphold the majesty and dignity of the courts of law, since the respect and authority commanded by the courts of law are the greatest guarantee to an ordinary citizen and the democratic fabric of society will suffer if respect for the judiciary is undermined. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has been introduced under the statute for the purpose of securing the feeling of confidence of the people in general for true and proper administration of justice in the country. The power to punish for contempt of court is a special power vested under the Constitution in the courts of record and also under the statute. The power is special and needs to be exercised with care and caution. It should be used sparingly by the courts on being satisfied regarding the true effect of contemptuous conduct. It is to be kept in mind that the court exercising the appellate court for determination of the disputes between the parties. The contempt jurisdiction should be confined to the question whether there has been any deliberate disobedience of the order of the court and if the conduct of the party who is alleged to have committed such disobedience is contumacious. Continue reading

Prerogative power: the difference between Indian and English Law

The power exercised by the President and the Governor is known as prerogative power.

Pardon is one of the many prerogatives which have been recognised since time immemorial as being vested in the sovereign, wherever the sovereignty might lie. Whether the sovereign happened to be an absolute monarch or a popular republic or a constitutional king or queen, sovereignty has always been associated with the source of power-the power to appoint or dismiss public servants, the power to declare war and conclude peace, the power to legislate and the power to adjudicate upon all kinds of disputes. The King, using the term in a most comprehensive sense, has been the symbol of the sovereignty of the State from whom emanate all power, authority and jurisdictions. As kingship was supposed to be of divine origin, an absolute king had no difficulty in proclaiming and enforcing his divine right to govern, which includes the right to rule, to administer and to dispense justice. It is a historical fact that it was this claim of divine right of kings that brought the Stuart Kings of England in conflict with Parliament as the spokesman of the people. We know that as a result of this struggle between the King, as embodiment of absolute power in all respects, and Parliament, as the champion of popular liberty, ultimately emerged the constitutional head of the Government in the person of the King who, in theory, wields all the power, but, in practice, laws are enacted by Parliament, the executive power vests in members of the Government, collectively called the Cabinet, and judicial power is vested in a Judiciary appointed by the Government in the name of His Majesty. Thus, in theory, His Majesty or Her Majesty continues to appoint the Judges of the highest courts, the members of the Government and the public servants, who hold office during the pleasure of the sovereign. As a result of historical processes emerged a clear cut division of governmental functions into executive, legislative and judicial. Thus was established the ” Rule of Law ” which has been the pride of Great Britain and which was highlighted by Prof. Dicey. The Rule of Law, in contradistinction to the rule of man, includes within its wide connotation the absence of arbitrary power, submission to the ordinary law of the land, and the equal protection of the laws. As a result of the historical process aforesaid, the absolute and arbitrary power of the monarch came to be canalised into three distinct wings of the Government. There has been a progressive increase in the power, authority and jurisdiction of the three wings of the Government and a corresponding diminution of absolute and arbitrary power of the King. It may, therefore, be said that the prerogatives of the Crown in England, which were wide and varied, have been progressively curtailed with a corresponding increase in the power, authority and jurisdiction of the three wings of Government, so much so that most of the prerogatives of the Crown, though in theory they have continued to be vested in it, are now exercised in his name by the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. This dispersal of the Sovereign’s absolute power amongst the three wings of Government has now become the norm of division of power; and the prerogative is no greater than what the law allows. In the celebrated decision of the House of Lords in the case of Attorney General v. De Keyser’s Royal Hotel, Limited which involved the right of the Crown by virtue of its prerogative, to take possession of private property for administrative purposes in connection with the defence of the realm, it was held by the House of Lords that the Crown was not entitled by virtue of its prerogative or under any statute, to take possession of property belonging to a citizen for the purposes aforesaid, without paying compensation for use and occupation. The prerogative has been defined by a learned author as the residue of discretionary or arbitrary’ authority which at any given time is legally left in the hands of the Crown’. It is the ultimate resource of the executive, and when there exists a statutory provision covering precisely the same ground there is no longer any room for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. It has been taken away by necessary implication because the two rights cannot live together. The prerogative is defined by a learned constitutional writer as ‘the residue of discretionary or arbitrary authority which at any given time is legally left in the hands of the Crown-‘. Inasmuch as the Crown is a party to every Act of Parliament it is logical enough to consider that when the Act deals with something which before the Act could be effected by the prerogative, and specially empowers the Crown to do the same thing, but subject to conditions, the Crown assents to that, and by that Act, to the prerogative being curtailed. The prerogative is thus created and limited by the common law, and the Sovereign can claim no prerogatives except such as the law allows, nor such as are contrary to Magna Carta, or any other statute, or to the liberties of the subject. The courts have jurisdiction, therefore, to inquire into the existence or extent of any alleged prerogative.


 The Supreme Court had an occasion to consider the concept of law of pardon in the case of K.M. Nanavati Vs. The State of Bombay, . The Constitution Bench in the said judgment held as under: –

 We have thus briefly set out the history of the ‘genesis and development of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy because Mr. Seervai has strongly emphasised that the Royal Prerogative of Mercy is wide and absolute, and can be exercised at any time. Very elaborate arguments were addressed by him before us on this ‘aspect of the matter and several English and American decisions were cited. In so far as his argument was that the power to suspend the sentence is a part of the larger power of granting pardon it may be relevant to consider incidentally the scope and extent of the said larger power; but, as we shall presently point out, the controversy raised by the present petition lies within a very narrow compass; and so concentration on the wide and absolute character of the power to grant pardon and overemphasis on judicial decisions which deal directly with the said question would not be very helpful for our present purpose. In fact we apprehend that entering into an elaborate discussion about the scope and effect of the said larger power, in the light of relevant judicial decisions, is likely to create confusion and to distract attention from the essential features of the very narrow point that falls to be considered in the present case. That is why we do not propose to enter into a discussion of the said topic or to refer to the several decisions cited under that topic.

 Thereafter, they examined the statutory provisions as contained in the old Code of Criminal Procedure as well as in the Constitution. It Is stated as under : –

12. Let us now turn to the law on the subject as it obtains in India since the Code of Criminal Procedure was enacted in 1898. Section 401 of the Code gives power to the executive to suspend the execution of the sentence or remit the whole or any port of the punishment without conditions or upon any conditions which the person sentenced accepts. Section 402 gives power to the executive without the consent of the person sentenced to commute a sentence of death into imprisonment for life and also other sentences into sentences less rigorous in nature. In addition the Governor-General had been delegated the power to exercise them prerogative power vesting in His Majesty. Sub-section (5) of s. 401 also provides that nothing contained in it shall be deemed to interfere with the right of His Majesty, or the Governor-General when such right is delegated to him, to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment This position continued till the Constitution came into force. Two provisions were introduced in the Constitution to cover the former royal prerogative relating to pardon, and they are Arts. 72 and 161. Article 72 deals with the power of the President to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence. Article 161 gives similar power to the Governor of a State with respect to offenses against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends. Sections 401 and 402 of the Code have continued with necessary modifications to bring them into line with Arts. 72 and 161. It will be seen, however, that Arts. 72 and 161 not only deal with pardons and reprieves which were within the royal prerogative but have also included what is provided in SS. 401 and 402 of the Code. Besides the general power, there is also provision in ss. 337 and 338 of the Code to tender pardon to an accomplice under certain conditions.

Interpreting Article 161 of the Constitution, the Apex Court held as under: –

13…..Though Art. 161 does not make any reference to Art 72 of the Constitution, the power of the Governor of a State to grant pardon etc. to some extent overlaps the same power of the President, particularly in the case of a sentence of death. Articles 75 and 161 are in very general terms. It is, therefore, argued that they are not subject to any limitations and the respective area of exercise of power under these two Articles is indicated separately in respect of the President and of the Governor of a State. It is further argued that the exercise of power under these two Articles is not fettered by the provisions of Arts. 142 and 145 of the, Constitution or by any other law.

Resorting to Article 142(1) they held as under :-

14. It will be seen that it consists of two parts. The first part gives power to this Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction to pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it The second part deals with the enforcement of the order passed by this Court Article 145 gives power to this Court with the approval of the President to make rules for regulating generally the practice and procedure of the Court It is obvious that the rules made under Art 145 are in aid of the power given to this Court under Art. 142 to pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.

Dealing with the power of the Governor to grant pardons under Article 161 it is held as under : –

21. There can be no doubt that it is open to the Governor to grant a full pardon at any time even during the pendency of the case in this Court in exercise of what is ordinarily called ” mercy jurisdiction “. Such a pardon after the accused person has been convicted by’ the Court has the effect of completely absolving him from all Punishment or disqualification attaching to a conviction for a criminal offence. That power is essentially vested in the head of the Executive, because the judiciary has no such ‘mercy jurisdiction’. But the suspension of the sentence for the period when this Court is in seizin of the case could have been granted by this Court itself If in respect of the same period the Governor also has power-to suspend the sentence, it would mean that both the judiciary and the executive would be functioning in the same field at the same time leading to the possibility of conflict of jurisdiction Such a conflict was not and could not have been intended by the makers of the Constitution. But it was contended by Mr. Seervai that the words of the Constitution, namely, Art 161 do not warrant the conclusion that the power was in any way limited or fettered. In our opinion there is a fallacy in the argument in so far as it postulates what has to be established, namely, that the Governor’s power was absolute and not fettered in any way go long as the judiciary has the power to pass a particular order in a pending case to that extent the power of the Executive is limited in view of the words either of ss. 401 and 426 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Arts. 142 and 161 of the Constitution. If that is the correct interpretation to be put on these provisions in order to harmonise them it would follow that what is covered in Art 142 is not covered by Art. 161 and similarly what is covered by s. 426 is not covered by s.401. On that interpretation, Mr. Seervai Would be right in his contention that there is no conflict between the prerogative power of the sovereign state to grant pardon and me power of the courts to deal with a pending cage judicially.

What is an irrevocable credit

International Chamber of Commerce Brochure No. 222. ” Article 3 of the brochure says that:

” An irrevocable credit is a definite undertaking on the part of an issuing bank and constitutes the engagement of that bank to the beneficiary or, as the case may be, to the beneficiary and bona fide holders of drafts drawn and/or documents presented thereunder, that the provisions for payment, acceptance or negotiation contained in the credit will be duly fulfilled, provided that all the terms and conditions of the credit are complied with. Continue reading

Principles to grant an injunction restraining the encashment of a bank guarantee

Numerous decisions of the Court rendered over a span of nearly two decades have laid down and reiterated the principles which the courts must apply while considering the question whether to grant an injunction which has the effect of restraining the encashment of a bank guarantee. We do not think it necessary to burden this judgment by referring to all of them. Some of the more recent pronouncements on this point where the earlier decisions have been considered and reiterated are Svenska Handelsbanken Vs. M/s. Indian Charge Chrome and others, , Larsen and Toubro Limited Vs. Maharashtra State Electricity Board and others, , Hindustan Steel Workers Construction Ltd. Vs. G.S. Atwal and Co. (Engineers) Pvt. Ltd., and AIR 1997 1644 (SC) . The general principle which has been laid down by this Court has been summarised in the case of AIR 1997 1644 (SC) as follows: (SCC p.574, para 12) Continue reading

Unconditional Bank Guarantee

In the case of Hindustan Steelworks Construction Ltd.(AIR 1996 SC 2268 )  the Supreme Court stated the principle that in case of an unconditional bank guarantee, the nature of obligation of the bank is absolute and not dependent upon any dispute or proceeding between the party at whose instance the bank guarantee is given and the beneficiary. The only two exceptions were – fraud, which was not pleaded in that case, and the other was special equities. Special equities were claimed on the basis as to who had committed breach of the contract. Determination of disputes was stated to be not a factor which would be sufficient to make the case as exceptional case justifying interference by the court restraining invocation of the bank guarantee.

Additional evidence can be allowed at Appeal if applicant satisfies basic requirements of rule and even no evidence has been led by applicant at trial

Delhi High Court in the case of Banwari Vs. Nagina, where the Court held as under:–

“The concept of additional evidence has been given wider dimension in the recent judgment of Hon’ble Apex Court in Jaipur Development Authority Vs. Smt. Kailashwati Devi [AIR 1997 SC 3243], where the Court held that additional evidence could be allowed even at the Appellate stage under Rule 27(aa) of Order 41, C.P.C. if the applicant satisfies the basic requirements of the rule and even no evidence has been led by the applicant at the trial stage. In that case ex pane decree was passed against the defendant in the suit, the appeal was preferred before the High Court and two documents were sought to be filed which were in possession of the defendant relating to possession of the suit property. High Court rejected the saidprayer, but the same was allowed by Hon’ble Apex Court. Continue reading

Grounds for decree for dissolution of a Muslim marriage

A woman married under Muslim law shall be entitled to obtain a decree for the dissolution of her marriage on any one or more of the following grounds, namely:

(i) that the whereabouts of the husband have not been known for a period of four years;

(ii) that the husband has neglected or has failed to provide for her maintenance for a period of two years;

(iii) that the husband has been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of seven years or upwards;

(iv) that the husband has failed to perform, without reasonable cause, his marital obligations for a period of three years;

(v) that the husband was impotent at the time of the marriage and continues to be so;

(vi) that the husband has been insane for a period of two years or is suffering from leprosy or a virulent venereal disease;

(vii) that she, having been given in marriage by her father or other guardian before she attained the age of fifteen years, repudiated the marriage before attaining the age of eighteen years: Continue reading

Muslim marriage

A Muslim marriage is a covenant by which the parties enter the state of marriage. The parties are permitted to stipulate the conditions upon which they will do so, provided the conditions are not illegal according to Muslim law. The subsistence of the marriage confers certain essential rights and imposes certain duties upon the husband and the wife. These rights and duties are stated in the Quran, which speaks of them as “the limits of Allah” (Cf.e.g., verse II, 229), within which the husband and the wife have to five. The conditions of the covenants of marriage have also to be fulfilled. Not only does the Quran repeatedly exhort every Muslim to fulfil the covenants which he enters into, but the prophet has particularly emphasised: “Of all the conditions which you have to fulfil, those most entitled to fulfilment are the conditions upon which you enter the union of marriage” (Bukhari 67:53). The Muslim marriage differs from the Hindu and from most Christian marriages in that it is not a sacrament. Continue reading