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Supreme Court: Supreme Court and High Courts should get photocopies of the trial court records to decide the case and needn’t be given original documents

The Apex Court Bench comprising of Justice A K Goel and Justice R F Nariman on April 25, 2018 while dealing with the matter titled as Asian Resurfacing Of Road Agency P. Ltd. And Anr. Versus Central Bureau Of Investigation ruled the present practice must be done away with and the SC and HCs should get photocopies or scanned copies of the trial court records to decide the case and the original documents should remain with the trial court to ensure uninterrupted proceedings.

The Supreme Court has taken a significant step to ensure speedy completion of trials, holding that the present practice of higher courts seeking original records of a case from lower courts must be done away with.

Original records are sought by the Supreme Court and High Courts while hearing a plea of an accused challenging interim order of a trial court. The proceedings in the lower court get stalled till the documents are sent back to it from the Supreme Court or High Court.

Original records are sought by the Supreme Court and high courts while hearing a plea of an accused challenging interim order of a trial court. The proceedings in the lower court get stalled till the documents are sent back to it from the Supreme Court or High Court

Bench stated that,
"We direct that if, in future, the trial court records are summoned, the trial courts may send photocopy/scanned copy of the record and retain the original so the proceedings are not held up. In cases where specifically original record is required by holding that photocopy will not serve the purpose, the appellate/revisional court may call for the record only for perusal and the same be returned while keeping a photocopy/scanned copy of the same".

Bench of Justice A K Goel and Justice R F Nariman further added that its order was in continuation of Apex Court’s March 28 verdict, in which it ruled that higher courts should not stay trial proceedings for more than six months. It had said lower courts could proceed after a six-month period, preventing the accused from dragging on the trial.

Thus it added that, "To give effect to directions in judgment of this court dated March 28, we direct that wherever original record has been summoned by an appellate/revisional court, photocopy/scanned copy of the same may be kept for its reference and original returned to the trial courts forthwith".

Supreme Court Bench stated that, "Right of the accused has to be considered vis-a-vis the interest of society. Larger societal interests get affected due to delay in trial proceedings after the original records are sent to higher courts"

Bombay High Court nullifies 9-year-old marriage on grounds of non-consummation

The Bombay High Court in the matter titled as Supriya Subhash Bhatmare Vs. Shivanand Babaso Swami (Second Appeal No. 851 Of 2015) pronounced on 27th April, 2018 has allowed an appeal against a judgment of a District Court in Kolhapur and nullified a 9-year-old marriage between two parties on grounds of non-consummation.

A couple from Kolhapur had been fighting legal battles since the day they got married nine years ago the woman claimed that the man had fraudulently married her by getting her to sign blank documents. She had sought that the marriage be annulled, while he had opposed it.

Justice Mridula Bhatkar held that the first appellate court at Kolhapur had erred in holding that the marriage was valid despite the fact that there was no consummation.

Justice Mridula Bhatkar observed: "The Court has come across the most ironical situation that both the parties though unanimously claim that they did not stay together even for a day, are fighting with each other for nine years on the issue of their nuptial relationship. Thus, without leading a married life even for a day, the dispute of nullity is going on for 9 years. On the point of nullity, two substantial questions of law are raised in view of the requirement of Section 25 of Special Marriage Act."

"In the present case, when the parties did not stay together even for a day and no evidence is brought by the husband when he claims that there was sexual relationship, then in absence of such evidence. The woman establishes the case of non-consummation of marriage."

The man had claimed that the couple has had sexual relations and she had even got pregnant, but the court pointed out that no evidence of the gynecologist, about the pregnancy test had been furnished. The court said that it had tried to advise the couple to settle their differences but had failed. However, it was in vain. The parties have become very bitter and vindictive towards each other and blame other party has ruined his/her nine years of life. This attitude is going to ruin their furthermore years. This situation like Gordian knot is required to be dealt with, as lives of two young persons are at stake, may be due to their incorrect or self-destructive decisions. An irretrievable marriage is not a ground under Special Marriage Act but non-consummation of marriage is a ground."

Justice Mridula Bhatkar said that the husband cannot be held guilty as there is no evidence of fraud, but struck down the marriage on the grounds that there was no proof that there were sexual relations between the couple.

Thus, the appeal was allowed and marriage was declared null and void. However, the respondent’s counsel sought a stay of 8 weeks on the judgment in order to challenge it before the Supreme Court. Stay was granted.

4 May 2018
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