Know Thy Judge| Justice Hemant Gupta


“The Court should not under the guise of preventing the abuse of power be itself guilty of usurping power.”

– Justice Hemant Gupta,

Nitin Pathak v. State of M.P., 2017 SCC OnLine MP 1824

Excerpts from Judgments authored by Justice Hemant Gupta

Arvind Singh v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 400; While allowing the appeal in part against death sentence awarded by the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, the Court observed,

“What is required to be examined is whether there is a possibility of rehabilitation and whether it is the rarest of the rare case where the collective conscience of the community is so shocked that it will expect the holders of judicial power to inflict death penalty irrespective of their personal opinion as regards desirability or otherwise of retaining death penalty. The manner of commission of murder when committed in an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical, revolting or dastardly manner are aggravating factors.”

Laxmibai v. Collector, Nanded and Ors., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 187; Hearing an appeal against the order of the High Court dismissing writ petition against an order of disqualification on account of non-submission of election expenses within the period prescribed, it was held,

“The purity and transparency in election process does not give unbridled and arbitrary power to the Election Commission to pass any whimsical order without examining the nature of default. The extent of period of disqualification has to be in proportion to the default. The Election Commission has to keep in mind that by such process, an election of duly elected candidate representing collective will of the voters of the constituency is being set at naught.”

Ram Sewak Mishra v. State of M.P., 2017 SCC OnLine MP 1546; Deciding on the validity of an executive action wherein no adequate opportunity of hearing was provided to a Government employee charged under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Justice Gupta noted,

The rule of audi alteram partem is the rule of the law without which law would be lifeless, absurd, stultifying, self-defeating or plainly contrary to the common sense of the situation. The principle holds good irrespective of whether the power conferred on a statutory body or Tribunal is administrative or quasi-judicial. The concept of natural justice can neither be put in a straitjacket nor is it a general rule of universal application. Whether or not the application of the principles of natural justice in a given case has been excluded, wholly or in part, in the exercise of statutory power, depends upon the language and basic scheme of the provision conferring the power, the nature of the power, the purpose for which it is conferred and the effect of the exercise of that power. The procedural precondition of fair hearing, however minimal, even post-decisional, has relevance to administrative and judicial gentlemanliness.

N.K. Janu v. Lakshmi Chandra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 518; While making significant observation with respect to the power of Court to summon public officers, it was said,

“The summoning of officers to the court to attend proceedings, impinges upon the functioning of the officers and eventually it is the public at large who suffer on account of their absence from the duties assigned to them. The practice of summoning officers to court is not proper and does not serve the purpose of administration of justice in view of the separation of powers of the Executive and the Judiciary. If an order is not legal, the Courts have ample jurisdiction to set aside such order and to issue such directions as may be warranted in the facts of the case.Read More

State of Bihar v. Sachindra Narayan, (2019) 3 SCC 803; In an appeal against the order of a Division Bench at Patna High Court, mandating the State authorities to give financial assistance on the ground of legitimate expectation, the Court observed,

“(…)legitimate expectation is one of the grounds of judicial review but unless a legal obligation exists, there cannot be any legitimate expectation. The legitimate expectation is not a wish or a desire or a hope, therefore, it cannot be claimed or demanded as a right. The payment of pension in the past will not confer an enforceable right in favour of the Institute or its employees.

Significant Judgments that Justice Gupta has been a part of

 Dr. Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 727; A full judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S.Ravindra Bhat, JJ., while referring the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018 to a larger bench, held,

The social, educational and economic backwardness of a community, existence of quantifiable data relating to inadequacy of representation of the community in public services and deprivation of the benefits flowing from reservations to the community are not exceptional circumstances for providing reservations in excess of 50 per cent.”

The Bench further directed that the admissions to educational institutions and appointments to public services/posts under the government, shall be made irrespective to the reservations provided under, Maharashtra State Reservation (of seats for admission in Educational Institutions in the State and for appointments in the Public Services and posts under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. Read More

Union of India v. Exide Industries Limited and Another, (2020) 5 SCC 274; A full judge bench of A.M. Khanwilkar, Hemant Gupta, Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ., deciding on the validity of clause (f) to Section 43-B Income Tax Act, 1961, held,

“To hold a provision as violative of the Constitution on account of failure of the legislature to state the Objects and Reasons would amount to an indirect scrutiny of the motives of the legislature behind the enactment. Such a course of action, in our view, is unwarranted. The raison d’être behind this self-imposed restriction is because of the fundamental reason that different organs of the State do not scrutinise each other’s wisdom in the exercise of their duties. In other words, the time-tested principle of checks and balances does not empower the Court to question the motives or wisdom of the legislature, except in circumstances when the same is demonstrated from the enacted law.” Read More

Amit Kumar Roy v. Union of India, (2019) 7 SCC 369; A division bench of D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta, JJ., adjudicating upon the interplay of Article 19(1)(g) and the statutory restrictions on members of Indian Airforce, said,

“A person who has been enrolled as a member of the Air Force does not have an unqualified right to depart from service at his or her will during the term of engagement. Such a construction, as urged on behalf of the appellant, will seriously impinge upon manning levels and operational preparedness of the Armed Forces.Read More

*Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

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