M J Antony: Cash down in auction not vital

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 30, 2012 20:20 hrs

When an auction is for large amounts, running in crores of rupees, nobody can expect the auction purchaser to pay the amount in cash on the fall of the hammer, the Supreme Court has stated while upholding the sale of a prime property in Delhi. Giving a liberal interpretation to procedures in the judgment, Ram Karan vs J S Exim Ltd, the court rejected the argument of one of the prospective bidders that the auction purchaser had not complied with the mandatory provisions of Order 21 Rules 84 and 85 the Civil Procedure Code, inasmuch as he did not deposit 25 per cent of the bid amount immediately on the fall of the hammer. Rejecting the contention, the Supreme Court said that the term “immediately” is required to be construed as meaning “with all reasonable speed”, considering the circumstances of the case. The payment was made within reasonable time by producing 27 demand drafts and therefore the auction sale was confirmed, the court said while dismissing the appeal against the Delhi high court order.

Bank manager sentenced for fraud
The Supreme Court has confirmed the conviction of a branch manager of Central Bank of India for causing monetary loss to the bank by sanctioning temporary overdrafts and term loans to 494 various individuals sponsored by a developer. Loans were given to railway employees without getting undertakings that their salaries will be deducted against the loan and not insisting on mortgages for plots sold to borrowers. Among them 45 borrowers did not get any plot at all, despite borrowing from the bank. The CBI investigated the manager and charge sheeted him for various offences under the Indian Penal Code and under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He was convicted and sentenced. The Andhra Pradesh high court confirmed the conviction, but reduced the jail sentence to one year. The Supreme Court dismissed his appeal for acquittal.

Discrimination in compensation
The Supreme Court has ruled that owners of land acquired by the state cannot be discriminated against in calculating compensation. In this case, Salaha Begum vs Special Land Acquisition Officer, her land was taken over in 1995 for Rs 65,000 per acre. The reference court raised it Rs 1 lakh per acre. The Karnataka high court hiked it to Rs 1.70 lakh. On further appeal, the Supreme Court granted the rate of Rs 2.2 lakh per acre with 10 per cent benefit for two years, as an adjacent land was sold two years earlier at that rate. That sale deed should have been “the touchstone for determination of the compensation payable for identically situated land,” and there could be no justification for awarding less to Salaha Begum, the judgment asserted. It held that the high court was wrong in not taking into account the fact that the land owner in the earlier land acquisition was paid the higher amount. “This court has repeatedly held that the exercise undertaken for fixing market value and determination of compensation payable to the landowner should necessarily involve consideration of escalation in land prices,” the judgment said while setting aside the high court judgment.

SAIL arbitration plea rejected
The Bombay High Court last week dismissed the petition of Steel Authority of India against the award of the arbitrator in its dispute with Mercator Lines Ltd, a Mumbai firm chartering vessels. The high court stated that it would not hear the petition unless the arbitrator’s finding could be termed “perverse”. The dispute was regarding the payment of demurrage charges to be paid by SAIL to the shipping firm. According to the latter, SAIL did not discharge the cargo within the stipulated period and was liable to pay demurrage charges to it. SAIL argued that the discharge was delayed due to the reasons beyond its control, and if this period is to be excluded then it was entitled to an incentive, and since the amount of incentive is much more than the demurrage claimed, it was entitled to receive monies from the shipping firm. The award went against SAIL. The high court stated that the Arbitration and Conciliation Act would not allow it go into the facts of the case, once the arbitrator has dealt with them.

Lactic acid in Parle biscuits
The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra food authorities to return the stock of confectionary seized from the premises of Parle Biscuits Ltd. The allegation against the company was that it had used lactic acid and colour in excess of permissible limits in two of its products, namely, "Kaccha Mango Bite" and "Mazelo". The company admitted that its sugar boiled confectionary contained lactic acid. But it maintained that lactic acid is a permissible ingredient. Many other manufacturers use it and they have not been subjected to food safety action. The authorities contended that it was not a permitted item under the rules. The high court, after going through the laws and regulations, concluded that lactic acid was not a prohibited item.

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