By Rudrajyoti Nath Ray, Senior Associate
After a long summer holiday we are back again at the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (“SC”). As we gear up to write more, analyze more and criticize even more – here are two case updates from last week to set the ball rolling.
As per the second proviso to Section 19 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, no appeal by a person, who is required to pay any amount in terms of an order of a State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (“SCDRC”), shall be entertained by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (“NCDRC”) unless the appellant-person deposits, in the prescribed manner, fifty percent of the amount or Rupees Thirty Five Thousand, whichever is less. If a SCDRC, therefore, orders a person to pay an amount in the range of Rs. 70,000 and above – an appeal from that order will only be heard by the NCRDRC once the appellant has deposited, in the prescribed manner, Rs. 35,000. In M/s. Shreenath Corporation & Ors. Vs. Consumer Education & Research Society & Ors. [Civil Appeal No. 9052 of 2014 arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 21668 of 2012], the SC has held that the aforesaid “pre-deposit condition” has no nexus with any order of stay that the NCDRC may be pleased to issue. That, “entertainment of an appeal and stay of proceedings pursuant to order impugned in the appeal stands at different footings…” And therefore, even after an appellant has deposited the requisite amount, for the hearing of his appeal before the NCDRC, the NCDRC may yet prescribe a condition of depositing a further amount before it grants any stay of the operation of the order of the relevant SCDRC.
In another case, an important proposition as regards the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (“Act”) has been reaffirmed. Three categories of persons can be discerned as brought within the purview of the penal liability, through the legal fiction envisaged in Section 141 of the Act. They are: a) the Company which has committed the alleged offence; b) every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to the Company for the conduct of the business of the Company and c) any director, manager, secretary or other officer with whose consent or connivance of or because of whose neglect the Section 138 offences is alleged to have been committed. In Anil Gupta v. Star India Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. [Criminal Appeal No.1364 of 2014 arising out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7039 of 2007], the SC has held that in proceedings under Section 138 read with Section 141 of the Act, arraigning of a Company as an accused is imperative, unless there is a legal impediment. Without the Company being a party – proceedings against persons in category (b) or (c) cannot be continued.