Know Thy Judge| Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

“We gained our freedom at a great cost. Every Indian, therefore, has to use his liberties to constantly question the actions of those in power because democracy gives no tickets to free meals. It is for us to assert and guard liberty and not be complacent about any encroachment.”[1]

– Justice S. Ravindra Bhat


Justice S. Ravindra Bhat was born on October 21, 1958 in Mysore, Karnataka. He completed his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Faridabad. He completed B.A.(Hons.) in English from Hindu College, University of Delhi and graduated in law from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University, in 1982.

Justice Bhat enrolled as an Advocate with the Delhi Bar Council in 1982 and practised before the Supreme Court, where he was enrolled as an Advocate on Record in 1989, the Delhi High Court and various other judicial forums. He had an exposure in different branches of law like Public Law, Banking, Employment, Education, Labour and Service, Constitutional Disputes and Indirect Taxation during his legal career.[2]

Justice Bhat was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court on July 16, 2004 and as a Permanent Judge on February 20, 2006.

♦Did You Know? Justice S. Ravindra Bhat headed India’s first High Court level e-court – Delhi HighCourt.

Justice Bhat was appointed as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Rajasthan on May 5, 2019 and was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on September 23, 2019.


Notable Judgements at Supreme Court


♦Did You Know? Justice S Ravindra Bhat has recused himself from hearing the Centre’s plea seeking Rs 7,844 crore as additional fund from successor firms of US-based Union Carbide Corporation for giving compensation to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy victims.[3]

Shaikh Ansar Ahmad Md. Husain v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 867

The Division Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ., dismisses the appeal initiated by the accused contractors in Integrated Housing and Slum Development corruption case. The Bench observed,

“The constructions, according to the reports, were sub-standard – in respect of 100 such houses, so severe that the units were unusable. The main objective of providing housing to 1206 eligible and deserving families remains unfulfilled despite expenditure of substantial amounts.”

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Mohd. Rafiq v. State of M.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 731

The bench of KM Joseph and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ has reiterated the factors to be considered while deciding the question of whether in a given case, a homicide is murder, punishable under Section 302 IPC, or culpable homicide, of either description, punishable under Section 304 IPC.

The Court explained that the use of the term “likely” in several places in respect of culpable homicide, highlights the element of uncertainty that the act of the accused may or may not have killed the person. Section 300 IPC which defines murder, however refrains from the use of the term likely, which reveals absence of ambiguity left on behalf of the accused. The accused is for sure that his act will definitely cause death.

“It is often difficult to distinguish between culpable homicide and murder as both involve death. Yet, there is a subtle distinction of intention and knowledge involved in both the crimes. This difference lies in the degree of the act. There is a very wide variance of degree of intention and knowledge among both the crimes.”

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Delhi Airport Metro Express (P) Ltd. v. DMRC, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 695

A Division Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao* and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ. upheld the arbitral award of Rs 2782.33 crore plus interest made by the Arbitral Tribunal in favour of  Delhi Airport Metro Express (P) Ltd. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court which had interfered with the Tribunal’s award. While so deciding, the Supreme Court also observed that:

“There is a disturbing tendency of courts setting aside arbitral awards, after dissecting and reassessing factual aspects of the cases to come to a conclusion that the award needs intervention …”

Following is a comprehensive report of Supreme Court’s analysis of law on the subject and merits of the appeal.

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Commissioner of Police v. Raj Kumar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 637

The Bench of K.M. Joseph and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ. while addressing the matter, observed that,

“Public service – like any other, pre-supposes that the state employer has an element of latitude or choice on who should enter its service. Norms, based on principles, govern essential aspects such as qualification, experience, age, number of attempts permitted to a candidate, etc. These, broadly constitute eligibility conditions required of each candidate or applicant aspiring to enter public service.”

Appellant (Commissioner of Police, Delhi) on being aggrieved by the Delhi High Court decision by which the respondents were directed to be considered for appointed to the post of Constable of Delhi Police, filed the present appeal.

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Laureate Buildwell (P) Ltd. v. Charanjeet Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 479

The Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ., while giving major relief to homebuyers, held that rights of purchasers are the same as that of original allottees.

Appellant (builder) was aggrieved by the order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

Respondent (Purchaser) sought a direction against the builder, for a refund of the consideration amount of Rs 1,93,70, 883 received by the latter as consideration for the sale of a flat along with interest from the date different instalments were paid as well as compensation and costs.

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Rahul S. Shah v. Jinendra Kumar Gandhi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 341

The 3-judge bench of the former CJI SA Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhatt, JJ had issued detailed directions to all Courts dealing with suits and execution proceedings after the troubles of the decree holder in not being able to enjoy the fruits of litigation on account of inordinate delay caused during the process of execution of decree were brought to the Court’s notice.

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Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 362

The 5-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan*, S.A. Nazeer, L. Nageswara Rao**, Hemant Gupta** and S. Ravindra Bhat**, JJ quashed the much in debate Maratha Reservation and has held that the 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 as amended in 2019 granting 12% and 13% reservation for Maratha community in addition to 50% social reservation is not covered by exceptional circumstances as contemplated by Constitution Bench in Indra Sawhney’s case.

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IN RE: TO ISSUE CERTAIN GUIDELINES REGARDING INADEQUACIES AND DEFICIENCIES IN CRIMINAL TRIALS, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 329

After noticing common deficiencies which occur in the course of criminal trials and certain practices adopted by trial courts in criminal proceedings as well as in the disposal of criminal cases and causes, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhatt, JJ has directed all High Courts to take expeditious steps to incorporate the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021 as part of the rules governing criminal trials, and ensure that the existing rules, notifications, orders and practice directions are suitably modified, and promulgated (wherever necessary through the Official Gazette) within 6 months.

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In Re: EXPEDITIOUS TRIAL OF CASES UNDER SECTION 138 OF N.I. ACT 1881, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 325

Noticing that the summary trials of complaints filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 are being routinely converted to summons trials in a “mechanical manner”, the Constitution bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has directed the High Courts to issue practice directions to the Magistrates for recording cogent and sufficient reasons while doing so.

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IN RE: DISTRIBUTION OF ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES AND SERVICES DURING PANDEMIC, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 339

A day before Justice Bobde’s retirement, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has taken suo motu cognisance of the “grim” situation of the country hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and has asked the Central Government to report on,

  1. The existence or otherwise and requirement of setting up of a coordinating body that would consider allocation of COVID resources in a consultative manner (with the involvement of concerned States and Union 3 Territories).
  2. Considering declaration of essential medicines and medical equipment including the Drugs, oxygen and vaccination as essential commodities in relation to COVID.
  3. In respect of coordination of logistical support for inter-State and Intra-State transportation and distribution of the above resources.

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Patricia Mukhim v. State of Meghalaya, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 258

The division bench of L. Nageswara Rao* and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has quashed the criminal case registered against Shillong Times Editor Patricia Mukhim under Sections 153 A, 500 and 505 (1) (c) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

“Free speech of the citizens of this country cannot be stifled by implicating them in criminal cases, unless such speech has the tendency to affect public order.”

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Sushila Aggarwal v. State of NCT of Delhi,  (2020) 5 SCC 1

A 5-judge bench comprising of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah*, and S. Ravindra Bhat**, JJ., unanimously ruled that the protection granted to a person under Section 438 Cr.PC should not invariably be limited to a fixed period; it should inure in favour of the accused without any restriction on time.

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Indore Development Authority v. Manohar Lal Sharma, (2020) 8 SCC 129

The 5-judge bench of Arun Mishra*, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., unanimously held that the land owners who had refused to accept compensation or who sought reference for higher compensation, cannot claim that the acquisition proceedings had lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

Last year, Justice Arun Mishra, heading the Bench, had refused to recuse himself from hearing the case and had said,

“I would be committing a grave blunder by recusal in the circumstances, on the grounds prayed for, and posterity will not forgive me down the line for setting a bad precedent. It is only for the interest of the judiciary (which is supreme) and the system (which is nulli secundus) that has compelled me not to recuse.”

Justice Mishra’s recusal was sought on the ground that he was heading a Bench meant to re-examine a judgment that he had himself given in 2018 in Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra, (2018) 3 SCC 412. 

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New India Assurance v. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage (P) Ltd., (2020) 5 SCC 757

A 5-judge bench consisting of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran*, MR Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., held that the District Forum has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the complaint beyond the period of 15 days in addition to 30 days as is envisaged under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The bench was answering the reference relating to the grant of time for filing response to a complaint under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 wherein the answers to the following questions were sought:

  • whether Section 13(2) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act, which provides for the respondent/opposite party filing its response to the complaint within 30 days or such extended period, not exceeding 15 days, should be read as mandatory or directory; i.e., whether the District Forum has power to extend the time for filing the response beyond the period of 15 days, in addition to 30 days.
  • what would be the commencing point of limitation of 30 days stipulated under the aforesaid Section.

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Mahonar Lal Jat v. State of Rajasthan, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 956

n the case where Direct Recruits to the newly created posts of Tax Assistants in the Finance Department of the Government of Rajasthan claimed seniority over Departmental Promotees, the bench of Indira Banerjee and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ held that the seniority of the promotees given on the basis of their dates of appointment was justified by Rule 27 of the Rajasthan Commercial Taxes Subordinate Services (General Branch) Rules, 1975.

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BK Ravichandra v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 950

“The courts’ role is to act as the guarantor and jealous protector of the people’s liberties: be they assured through the freedoms, and the right to equality and religion or cultural rights under Part III, or the right against deprivation, in any form, through any process other than law.”

In a case where the Union of India was sitting over certain lands since 33 years without any authority, the bench of Indira Banerjee and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ directed the Union of India to hand back possession of the suit lands to the appellants, within three months.

“33 years (based upon cessation of the Union’s legal possession) is a long enough time, even in India, to be kept away from one’s property.”

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Madras Bar Association v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 962

The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao*, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat has issued extensive directions in relating to selection, appointment, tenure, conditions of service, etc. relating to various tribunals, 19 in number, thereby calling for certain modifications to the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities [Qualification, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members] Rules, 2020.

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Prathvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 727

While clarifying the position of anticipatory bail in cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, S Ravindra Bhat***, J., in his concurring yet separate judgment brought into light, the forgotten sayings of greatest reformers of the Indian History reflecting upon the evil of caste distinctions.

“Kabir, the great saint poet, for instance, in his composition, remarked:

If thou thinkest the Maker distinguished castes:

Birth is according to these penalties for deeds.

Born a Sudra, you die a Sudra;

It is only in this world of illusion that you assume the sacred thread.

If birth from a Brahmin makes you a Brahmin,

Why did you not come by another way?

If birth from a Turk makes you a Turk,

Why were you not circumcised in the womb?…

Saith Kabir, renounce family, caste, religion, and nation, and live as one”

Guru Nanak, for instance, stated [Guru Granth Saheb, p. 83]: “Caste and dynastic pride are condemnable notions; the one Master shelters all existence. Anyone arrogating superiority to himself halt be disillusioned. Saith Nanak : superiority shall be determined by God.”

Making significant observations on the principle of Fraternity, Justice Bhat observed that,

“When the Framers of the Constitution began their daunting task, they had before them a formidable duty and a stupendous opportunity : of forging a nation, out of several splintered sovereign States and city States, with the blueprint of an idea of India. What they envisioned was a common charter of governance and equally a charter for the people. The placement of the concept of fraternity, in this context was neither an accident, nor an idealised emulation of the western notion of fraternity, which finds vision in the French and American Constitutions and charters of independence. It was a unique and poignant reminder of a society riven with acute inequalities : more specifically, the practice of caste discrimination in its virulent form, where the essential humanity of a large mass of people was denied by society—i.e. untouchability.” 

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Mukesh Singh v. State (Narcotic Branch of Delhi), 2020 SCC OnLine SC 700;

A full judge Constitution bench of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah* and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has held that the accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) is not entitled to an acquittal as a blanket rule merely because the complainant is the investigating officer. The Court said that;

“… merely because the informant is the investigator, by that itself the investigation would not suffer the vice of unfairness or bias and therefore on the sole ground that informant is the investigator, the accused is not entitled to acquittal. The matter has to be decided on a case to case basis.”

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Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 571;

In a reference dealing with the interpretation of Section 65B of the Evidence Act, 1872 that deals with admissibility of electronic records, the three judge bench of RF Nariman, S. Ravindra Bhat and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ., held that the certificate required under Section 65B(4) is a condition precedent to the admissibility of evidence by way of electronic record.

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Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 178

In a major judgment today, a bench of RF Nariman* and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has directed all political parties to upload on their website details of pending criminal cases against candidates contesting polls, noting that there has been an alarming increase in criminalisation of politics.

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Saurav Yadav v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1034

“Open category is open to all”

A 3-judge bench of UU Lalit*, S. Ravindra Bhat* and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., while deciding the petition challenging the appointment of General category female candidates who had secured lower marks as Constables in Uttar Pradesh Police, ruled against the U.P. government and clarified the relationship between horizontal and vertical reservations.

“The open category is not a ‘quota’, but rather available to all women and men alike.”

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Mrinalini Padhi v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1415

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra*, MR Shah and S. Ravindra Bhatt, JJ issued a slew of directions to ensure proper darshan of the deity at Shri Jagannath Temple, Puri by all the devotes and has asked the Temple Administration and the Chief Administrator including the State Government to prepare a roadmap with the help of experts for having proper darshan by the devotees/pilgrims and to implement it effectively and to ensure that there is no commotion so that everybody is able to have darshan peacefully without any obstruction by anybody.

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Rajendra Diwan v. Pradeep Kumar Ranibala, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1586;

While holding Section 13(2) of the Chhattisgarh Rent Control Act as unconstitutional, a full judge bench of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., observed,

“While exercising power under Article 136 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court does not re-appreciate evidence which has been appreciated by the Trial Court and the High Courts, unless extraordinary circumstances exist. It is only where the High Court has completely missed the real point requiring adjudication or has missed or ignored the relevant material, would the Supreme Court be justified in getting into evidence for the purpose of preventing grave injustice to a party.” 

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Notable Judgements at High Court


♦Did You Know? Justice Ravindra Bhat, when he was a judge in the Delhi High Court upheld a decision by Central Information Commission (CIC) that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and therefore judges’ assets should be made public.

BGP Products v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 12928;

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall. A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.”

— Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Striking down a government notification made under Section 26A of the Drugs Act, to restrict the manufacture and usage of an essential drug likely to be affecting the health of pregnant woman and youth mothers, Justice Bhat* observed,

This court notices that the decision of prohibiting a country wide existing manufacturing base for Oxytocin, a life-saving drug (through the over hundred private licensed units spread across the country), for over three decades or so, on the one hand and reserving it to the public sector through a single manufacturing entity, which has no previous record in its production, is thus fraught with potential adverse consequences. One of the important directive principles of State Policy (Article 47) is the that “The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties..”. Maternal welfare too is considered a directive principle (Article 42).Correspondingly, the right of women, generally and pregnant women and young mothers in particular, to have a safe post-partum recovery and avoid risk of haemorrhaging that can be potentially fatal, is an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The potential impact may or may not be direct; even if it leads to a few incidents, that would be a grave consequence contrary to public interest.”

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Pushp Sharma v. D.B. Corpn. Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine Del 11537

The Division Bench comprising of S. Ravindra Bhat* and A.K. Chawla, JJ. addressed the blazing issue of  “Cobrapost” sting operation all over the electronic and print media by addressing two appeals in a suit for permanent injunction.

“Democracy presupposes robustness in debates, which often turns the spotlight on public figures and public institutions-like media houses, journals and editors.”

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Emdigital Ltd. v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 8939

A Bench comprising of S. Ravindra Bhat* and Yogesh Khanna, JJ., upheld the grant of tender to an Israel based system integrator (second respondent herein), for procurement of stabilized Remote Control Guns, the end user being the Indian Navy and Indian Coast guard.

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Sanjeet Singh Kaila v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 8170;

“….There is honor in A Soldier you hear it when he talks.

There is courage in A Soldier you can see it in his eyes,

There is loyalty in A Soldier that he will not compromise.

There is something in A Soldier that makes him stand apart,

There is strength in A Soldier that beats from his heart.

A Soldier isn’t a title any man can be hired to do,

A Soldier is the soul of that man buried deep inside of you.

A Soldier’s job isn’t finished after an 8 hour day or a 40 hour week,

A Soldier is always A Soldier even while he sleeps.

A Soldier serves his country first and his life is left behind, A Soldier has to sacrifice what comes first in a civilian’s mind…”

-Angela Goodwin

The Division Bench of S. Ravindra Bhat*, Deepa Sharma, JJ., held that though the members of the Armed forces consent to the risk that comes with their enrollment in the forces, one is still entitled to a safe workplace with standard equipment.

In the words of Justice Bhat,

“(…) none can be insensible to the piquancy in the pageant of life; more so, those who enlist in the service of their country in its armed forces. Yet to fling that to their teeth when accused of exposing them to more than the risks they had bargained (as the HAL does, here) is to belittle their spirit of sacrifice, which this court finds insensitive, even offensive. A soldier or an air warrior like the petitioner can be expected to be aware of the “normal” risks that he undertakes to accept in the course of a career that is removed from the ordinary. That assumption of risk at the same time raises the threshold bar on his employer and those assigned by the employer to maintain the standards in respect of the workplace and the technical equipment, which such officers and warriors have to handle and live with.”

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Mini Appa Kanda Swami v. M.Indra, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 5312

“Privacy is a fundamental human right. (…)So when a woman enters into matrimony, it is the duty of the family members of her matrimonial home to provide her with some privacy.”

The Division Bench comprising of S. Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma*, JJ., held that demand for privacy by the spouse is not cruelty and also reiterated that High Court lacks the jurisdiction to dissolve a marriage on the doctrine of “irretrievable breakdown” under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

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CPIO, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, 2009 SCC OnLine Del 2714

While directing the CPIO to release the information sought by the respondent applicant about the declaration of assets (and not the contents of the declarations, as that was not sought for) and holding the office of the CJI as a ‘public authority’, significant remarks were made by Justice Ravindra Bhat*, about the office of judges and exemption provided under Section 8(1)(j) RTI Act, 2005.

“In this Court’s opinion Section 8(1)(j) is both a check on the power of requiring information dissemination (having regard to its potential impact on individual privacy rights) as well as a mechanism whereby individuals have limited control over whether personal details can be made public. This safeguard is made in public interest in favour of all public officials and public servants. There can be no manner of doubt that Supreme Court and High Court Judges are public servants (K. Veeraswami established that). They are no doubt given a high status, and afforded considerable degree of protections, under the Constitution; yet that does not make them public servants any less. If that is the true position, the protection afforded by Section 8(1)(j) to Judges is of no lesser quality than that given to other public servants, in this regard. To hold otherwise: would be incongruous, because, members of the higher judiciary are held to self imposed obligatory Constitutional standards, and their asset disclosures are held (by this judgment), to be “information” held by the CJI, a public authority, under the Act; yet, they would be deprived of the protection that the same enactment extends to all those covered by it.”

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Bayer Corporation v. Union of India, 2009 SCC OnLine Del 2469

Rejecting the claim of Bayer that the drug manufactured and sold by Cipla under the name of ‘Soranib’, was infact a spurious drug under 17-B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and not a generic drug as contended, Justice Bhat* held,

This Court is constrained to observe that the present litigation was what may be characterized as a speculative foray; an attempt to ‘tweak’ public policies through Court mandated regimes.”

The instant case discusses at length about patent linkage in Indian context and how imperative it is to balance monopoly rights of any patent holder and the public at large.

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†Updated by Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

††Cases up to October, 2020 curated by Sakshi Shukla. 

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[1] Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, speaking on the ‘Role of Judiciary in Governance’ during the first anniversary celebrations of an organization called “Connecting Governed, Governing and Governance”.

[2] https://main.sci.gov.in/chief-justice-judges

[3] https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/01/28/bhopal-gas-tragedy-heres-why-justice-s-ravindra-bhat-recused-from-hearing-centres-plea-for-additional-fund/


* Judge who has penned the judgment.

** Judge who has penned a concurring opinion.

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