4 Oct 2009

Weekly round-up of legal news ...

Is it proper to hold an insurance company is liable to pay compensation to third parties upon an accident even when the insurance was not in force on the day of the accident? On a purely logical note, the answer would be no for why should the company be held as responsible for the fault of the owner to get the policy renewed. However the law has been otherwise. It has been consistently held by the Supreme Court that in such circumstances where by the policy has lapsed and has not been renewed, the insurance company should still pay the third parties with the right to recover the sums from the owner who failed to renew the policy. The correctness of this stand, however, has now been doubted. Holding that "prima facie, we are of the opinion if the Insurance Company proves that it has no liability to pay compensation to the claimants, the Insurance Company can not be compelled to make payment and later on recover it from the owner of the vehicle", a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court has referred this question to a larger bench to rule out the inconsistencies. Observing that "when a person has no liability to pay at all how can it be compelled to pay? It may take years for the insurance company to recover the amount from the owner of the vehicle, and it is also possible that for some reason the recovery may not be possible at all", the matter will now be decided by a larger bench to settle the position of law.

Delhi High Court has upheld the conviction of ACP SS Rathi and other policeman in the infamous C.P. Shootout case  in which "two innocent lives were lost and the third one had a providential escape with grievous gunshot injuries due to indiscriminate firing by a contingent of policemen on the fateful day of 31st March, 1997". In the detailed judgment (running for 101 pages), the High Court has affirmed the decision of the sessions judge.

The Government is planning to introduce an 'Equal Opportunity Commission' whose primary responsibility would be ascertain the diversity of workers placed in organizations in order to promote better employment opportunities for minorities and other weaker sections of the society. The move is tipped to be in the wake of the covert discrimination in private sector against the minorities being handed out jobs. We are yet to see how the Commission would be placed and whether it will further reduce the employment scope for the so-called 'General category' candidates, but one can at this stage only keep the fingers crossed. Have a look at the news report covering the issue.

In a first, the Judges of the Kerala High Court have made the declaration of their assets and liabilities public. Posted on the website is a list of the assets and liabilities owned by the judges and their spouses. Hope others will also follow suit in the drive for transparency of the judiciary. 

Examining the conduct of the Chartered Accountants involved in the Satyam scam, the Disciplinary Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has the two former partners of Price Water House Coopers (PWC) guilty of professional misconduct. The Committee has also found guilty two other auditors who were part of the team auditing the accounts of Satyam. Have a look at the news-report.

In a recent decision, the Bombay High Court has held that mere suspicion of a wife on the husband does not amount to cruelty to the effect that the Husband can obtain divorce on such ground. The High Court noted, "if the circumstances so warrant, wife may have some suspicion about the act and behaviour of her husband. In a given case, if the wife is having some suspicion, that itself may not amount to an act of cruelty as the act of cruelty depends upon the facts and circumstances of each and every case. ... After marriage, no wife may tolerate the company of other lady friend in her husband’s life and wife may have reservation about such friendship after the marriage. Normally, a husband and wife after the marriage is required to see that the peace at the matrimonial house prevails and one should try to remove the grievance of other side and if one is required to sacrifice something, in order to bring peace in the matrimonial home one should act accordingly. After the birth of a child, it is the bounden duty of the husband and wife to see that even if at the cost of some inconvenience they should try to adjust with the nature of each other and even try to surrender to the wishes of either side. Then only the matrimonial house can run smoothly with some jerks here or there." Have a look at the decision.

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