Significant Judgments


The facts of the case were such that the predecessor-in-interest namely Padma Charan Bahinipati and one Lingaraj Bahinipati i.e., the defendants were two brothers being the sons of Raghunath Bahinipati. The plaintiff had been brought up by the defendant after the death of their father and he had obtained an MBBS degree and ultimately went to the United Kingdom for higher studies. The plaintiff being an employee in the Forest Department, bought a house in the same year, under the name of his brother as he didn’t prefer his name standing as the vendee under the said transaction. On his death, the family of the plaintiff had the property and having heard that the defendant was attempting to alienate the suit property, the Plaintiffs with the apprehension of losing their property filed the suit for declaration of title, possession, and injunction.

The case was placed before the trial Court and was appealed to the Orissa High Court, Cuttack Bench, Cuttack to answer the following questions in law: “Whether the finding of the learned Courts below that the Benami transaction in respect of the suit property does not come under the exception as provided in clause (b) of sub-Section (3) of Section 4 of the Act aligns with the facts and circumstances as those emerge in the evidence let in upon the base of the pleadings?”

Taking the reference of the “Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, and the concept of “fiduciary relationship” as explained in CBSE v.. Aditya Bandopadhyay, (2011) 8 SCC 497, by the Supreme Court, the High Court stated that, nothing more had been pleaded in support of the case that the defendant at the time of purchase was very much standing in a fiduciary capacity and that the suit property was not for his benefit but the benefit of Padma Charan. It further noted that the mere mention of the relationship that the defendant being the brother of Padma Charan would not suffice the purpose. The Court concluded that, “the very case of the Plaintiffs that the suit property had then been purchased by Padma Charan in the name of the Defendant is in order to show that he had nothing to do with said purchase sine it is said to be for the reason of avoidance of any such problem in his service career. This even taken as such and accepted; the case that the property held in the name of the Defendant standing in fiduciary capacity and that the property was held not for the benefit of Defendant but for that of Padma Charan towards whom the Defendant stands in such capacity falls flat.” The appeal thus did not merit admission and was accordingly dismissed.

The facts of the case were that the plaintiff’s 44-year-old husband while going to his agricultural field came in contact with 11 K.V. electric wire, was electrocuted, and met an instantaneous death by the said electrocution. For the said death, Plaintiff No. 1 and Plaintiff No. 2 i.e. the wife and mother of the deceased respectively filed the suit claiming compensation from the defendants i.e., Central Electricity Supply Utility of Orissa and its official in-charge of the supply of electricity and maintenance, etc. in the area.
The trial Court had held the Defendants were liable to pay compensation of Rs.5,50,300/- with interest, taking into account the evidence as to the age of the deceased and selecting multiplier of 13, in further and holding the monthly income of the deceased at Rs.4,000/-.

The Court relied on M.P. Electricity Board v. Shail Kumari and others AIR 2002 SC 551, where it was held that “…the responsibility to supply electric energy in the particular locality was statutorily conferred on the Board. If the energy so transmitted causes injury or death of a human being, who gets unknowingly trapped if the primary liability to compensate the sufferer is that of the supplier of the electric energy.” Referring to the principle of ‘res ipsa sequitur (Clerk & Lindsell on Torts, 16th Edn., pp. 568-569), the Court concluded that it afforded reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the defendants, that the accident arose on account of want of care. The Court upheld the multiplier as selected by the lower Court in assessing the compensation in the facts and circumstances of the case and the appeal was dismissed.

The Appellant and the deceased on the relevant date and time were returning to the house of the deceased. They had taken liquor from the village beforehand. At one place near the hut of one Pidika Erapa (P.W.3), the Appellant and the deceased started abusing one another. It was stated that the appellant assaulted the deceased on the head and face using a lathi because of which he died. With the registration of the Criminal Case against the appellant, he was arrested and in defense pleaded denial. The appellant gave recovery of the weapons of offense i.e., lathi and two pieces of stone, In police custody, the trial Court pronounced him guilty of murder. The case was appealed at the High Court.

The issue faced by the Court was whether the Appellant was to be held guilty of commission of an offense under Section 302 IPC or for any lesser offense. The proven facts of the case from both the counsels seemed that in the course of an altercation between the two, the Appellant had assaulted the deceased but on cumulatively viewing the facts, the Court held that the Appellant could not be attributed to having the intention of murdering the deceased. The Court further observed that for the said Exception 4 to Section 300 IPC to come into play, the relevant factors were that the act must have been committed without premeditation, in a sudden fight without the offender having taken undue advantage and not having acted cruelly or unusually. The Court held that the incident had suddenly taken place and both the Appellant and the deceased were to share the blame. Further, the number of wounds caused could not stand as the decisive factors or impediment for the Exception to be attracted. The Appellant was held guilty under Section 304, Part-I of the IPC, and a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for ten years was awarded.