Sugar mills have a reason to rejoice, with the Supreme Court holding that they are not liable to pay market fee on the purchase of sugarcane from cane growers and their cooperative societies. It upheld the Madhya Pradesh High Courts judgment that held that the Sugarcane (Control) Order issued by the central government under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and the Madhya Pradesh Sugarcane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act 1958 enacted by the state, being special legislations relating to supply and purchase of sugarcane, will apply to transactions of sale and purchase of sugarcane between the sugar mills and the sugarcane growers or their cooperative societies, and the Market Act, being a general Act with regard to agricultural produce, will not apply to such transactions. The mills, in a batch of cases lead by Krishi Uptadan Mandi Samiti vs Shiv Shakti Khansari Udyog, had approached the HC for quashing the notices issued by the market committees, requiring them to take licence under the Market Act and to pay market fee on the purchase of sugarcane, by asserting that the provisions of the Market Act are not applicable to such transactions. Senior counsel Vivek Tankha and BS Banthia, appearing for the market committees and the state, respectively, argued that the Market Act and the Sugarcane Act, which regulates the supply and purchase of sugarcane and ensures that the price determined by the competent authority is paid to the cane growers without delay, operate in different fields and even if there appears some conflict between the two enactments, the provisions of the former legislation would prevail because the Sugarcane Act does not provide for levy of market fee on the purchase of sugarcane by the factories. Senior counsel Jayant Bhushan and A K Sanghi, and counsel Pragati Neekhra, appearing for the mills, argued that the sugar factories cannot be burdened with the liability of paying market fee on the purchase of sugarcane because the same is not taken into consideration while fixing the price of sugar under Clause 3 of the control order.
Govt not bound to recognise unaided schools
Ruling that a state government is not duty bound to grant recognition to an unaided school even if it had adequate infrastructure and teaching staff, the Supreme Court said that such indiscriminate recognition would adversely affect the interests of the state-aided schools. Overruling a Kerala High Court judgment that mandated the state government to grant recognition to unaided school which satisfied stipulated requirements, it said that such recognition was bound to provide scope for arbitrariness, favouritism and would also affect the functioning of other recognised schools in the locality. The state spends large amounts by way of aid, grant, etc, for running schools in the aided sector as well as state-owned schools. Indiscriminate grant of recognition to schools in the unaided sector may have an adverse effect on the state-owned schools as well as the existing schools in the aided sector, by way of division fall, retrenchment of teachers etc. However, it did not disturb the grant of recognition to Bentham English Medium School at Attappady in Palakkad district after it found that its case was also recommended by the local body and it enrolled a large number of students in a tribal area. The apex court clarified that the order of sustaining recognition to the school shall not be treated as a precedent.
Criminal cases cant be quashed because of delay
Delay in deciding criminal cases cannot be a ground for exonerating the accused, the Supreme Court has ruled while upholding the life sentence of a man convicted 25 years after he killed five persons. Rejecting the contention of Shyam Babu that the Allahabad High Court took 25 long years in setting aside his acquittal, it said that a criminal offence is considered as a wrong against the state and the society even though it is committed against an individual. Citing a series of earlier decisions of the Supreme Court, it said that the Limitation Act, 1963, does not apply to criminal proceedings unless there is express and specific provision to that effect. The Etawah trial court in 1980 had acquitted Shyam Babu and six others of killing five people and injuring others in a dispute over the overflowing of water from the accuseds water channel into the fields of the victims. The HC convicted and sentenced the accused to life imprisonment in 2006. Four of the seven people died during the pendency of the appeal in the HC. By the time the Supreme Court could pronounce its verdict, two of the other three accused also died.