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Opportunity of hearing is not a mere nicety but a valuable right: Supreme Court

The SC on November 29, 2020 {INDIAN COMMODITY EXCHANGE LIMITED  vs.  NEPTUNE OVERSEAS LIMITED & ORS.} held that a plea of lack of opportunity to defend its case is also a legal plea. It was held that the order read as a whole only gives rise to the conclusion that the hearing was shifted to the SAT instead of before the High Court, in view of it being the competent body. 

It was held by the Bench, comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul  & Justice Hrishikesh Roy that an opportunity of hearing is not a mere nicety but a valuable right. It was held that it does not fall in a straitjacket formula is no doubt the accepted legal position [Dharampal Satyapal Ltd. v. Deputy Commissioner of Central Excise, Gauhati and Ors. (2015) 8 SCC 519]. It was held that the question is whether there was substantial compliance of the principles of natural justice [Chairman, Board of Mining Examination and Chief Inspector of Mines and Anr. v. Ramjee (1977) 2 SCC 256] and whether there were unnecessary adjournments being sought, which were declined.

It was concluded that the manner in which the proceedings were sought to be closed raises serious doubts in its mind that a fair process and opportunity has been extended to Respondent No.2 herein. The SC held that the effect of that is the order of the FMC dated 23.7.2011 is set aside and a fresh order has to be passed.

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