Justice over ‘pedas’, and through commonsense (A Legal Reporter’s Diary)

July 25th, 2010 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

By Parmod Kumar
New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Could accepting a sweet peda by the driver that led to the theft of his truck and its content be made a “condition” for denying compensation by the insurance company?

A man was denied such a claim for the theft of his mini truck and three buffaloes.

The driver of the truck got sweettalked into taking on board two strangers. The men offered him pedas, and the truck driver enjoyed the sweets. He soon fell unconscious. The duo made off with his truck and the three buffaloes.

The insurance company declined to pay compensation to the owner of the mini truck on the grounds that the identity and antecedents of his driver were vague. When the matter came up in the Supreme Court, Justice T.S. Thakur asked the counsel for the insurance company if it expected the owner to ask for a school-leaving and good-conduct certificate before appointing a driver.

Justice Markandey Katju said it was the contractual obligation of the insurance company to process the compensation claim unless it was conditional. When the counsel said the insurance cover was conditional, Justice Thakur said, “For future safety, add eating peda as a condition for denial of insurance claim.”

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Shopping for students, degree home delivered

The mushrooming proliferation of private educational institutions, who are given indiscriminate recognition, was brought to light in the Supreme Court, with both judges and attorney expressing “amazement” at how students got degrees in some of these places without even attending classes. .

Justice G.S. Singhvi unveiled the mask over the murky doings of these intuitions when he said a student in Barmer, Rajasthan, got admission in a college in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, for B.Ed and eventually also got a degree - without crossing the Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border. He now aspires to be teacher in Rajasthan.

Justice Singhvi said this was not an isolated story but “folklore” in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. What Justice Singhvi said got greater authentication when senior counsel P.S. Patwalia, who appeared for some of the private B.Ed. colleges, said, “I am amazed” at the state of affairs.

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Judging by commonsense!

Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju believes that cases cannot be decided on the basis on law alone and at times there is need to apply commonsense to extricate the truth from the web of legal intricacies.

The other day the court headed by Justice Katju was hearing a case involving the rape of a minor. Even as the counsel for the accused forcefully presented his arguments, Justice Katju asked him how his defence could stand the scrutiny of commonsense.

Which mother would go to town levelling false allegation that her minor daughter has been raped, knowing well that it would jeopardize her child’s future? Having raised this question, Justice Katju still set the accused free of the charge of rape as medical evidence gave him an unequivocal clean chit.

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Standing on its own ground

It seems that Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia is all set to check the tendency of the top court to step into the domain of other wings of the state, particularly the executive.

A trend that started with the ‘green judge’ of India, Justice Kuldeep Singh, evolved over the years and some even saw it as encroaching upon the jurisdiction of the other arms of the state. This period also witnessed public interest litigations assume many other nomenclatures like ‘personal interest litigations’, ‘private interest litigations’, ‘political interest litigation’ and so on.

But the other day, Justice Kapadia made it clear that the apex court will not entertain any frivolous litigations and scrupulously deter from interfering in the policy, programmes and legislative matters of the government.

Chief Justice Kapadia is known as an upright and no-nonsense personality but the real challenge is whether the top court will succeed in resisting the temptation to intrude into others’ space that it has been doing for so long.

(Parmod Kumar can be contacted at mazak1453@gmail.com)

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