Know Thy Judge| Justice B.R. Gavai

Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai was born on 24th November, 1960. At the age of 25, he enrolled as an advocate and started practicing at the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. He served both as a government pleader as well as a government prosecutor[1]. He was appointed as a judge of the Bombay High Court in 2003 and served in that position for 16 years before being elevated to become judge of the Supreme Court. The collegium in recommending him gave due weight to his seniority, integrity, merit and due representation in the Supreme Court.[2].


Some important judgments that Justice BR Gavai has been a part of 


Fertico Marketing and Investment Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 938

The bench of AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai, JJ  held that not obtaining prior consent of the State Government under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DPSE Act) would not vitiate the investigation unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about miscarriage of justice or caused prejudice to the accused.

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Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637

A 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, JJ has asked J&K administration to review all orders imposing curbs on telecom and internet services in the state in a week and put them in public domain. 

“The existing Suspension Rules neither provide for a periodic review nor a time limitation for an order issued under the Suspension Rules. Till this gap is filled, the Review Committee constituted under Rule 2(5) of the Suspension Rules must conduct a periodic review within seven working days of the previous review, in terms of the requirements under Rule 2(6).”

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Foundations for Media Professionals v. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 453

A 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, JJ has constituted a three-member committee to look into demand for allowing 4G mobile internet in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Noticing that since the issues involved affect the State and the nation, the Court found it appropriate to constitute a Special Committee comprising of the following Secretaries at national, as well as State, level to look into the prevailing circumstances and immediately determine the necessity of the continuation of the restrictions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

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In re: Prashant Bhushan, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 698

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has sentenced advocate Prashant Bhushan with a fine or Re.1/­ (Rupee one) to be deposited with the Registry by 15.09.2020, failing which he shall undergo a simple imprisonment for a period of three months and further be debarred from practising in this Court for a period of three years. It had found advocate Prashant guilty of criminal contempt on 14.08.2020 in the suo motu contempt petition initiated against him after he criticised the Supreme Court and the sitting and former CJIs in a couple of tweets. 

“If we do not take cognizance of such conduct it will give a wrong message to the lawyers and litigants throughout the country. However, by showing magnanimity, instead of imposing any severe punishment, we are sentencing the contemnor with a nominal fine of  Re.1/­ (Rupee one).”

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Sudru v. State of Chattisgarh, (2019) 8 SCC 333

In this case of murder of son by the accused father, on the basis of circumstantial evidence, last seen evidence and non-explanation of incriminating evidence by accused, conviction of accused confirmed. 

Union of India v. Unicorn Industries, (2019) 10 SCC 575

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai, JJ., held that by invoking the doctrine of promissory estoppel, the Union of India cannot be estopped from withdrawing the exemption from payment of Excise Duty in respect of certain products, which exemption is granted by an earlier notification; when the Union of India finds that such a withdrawal is necessary in the public interest.

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Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1279

The 3-judge Bench of Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai, JJ., partially set aside the 2-judge verdict in Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454. It was held that some portions of the said verdict were against the concept of protective discrimination in favour of down­trodden classes under Article 15(4) of the Constitution and also impermissible within the parameters laid down by this Court for exercise of powers under Article 142 of Constitution of India.  The Court said,

“Can’t treat all of them as a liar.”

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Sarika v. Administrator, Mahakaleshwar Mandir Committee, Ujjain, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 704

 In a bid to prevent the deterioration of Shivlinga at Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain, the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has given the eight directions.

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Rishad Murtaza v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 377

 The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, SK Kaul and BR Gavai, JJ has asked the Central Government to extend the order passed in In Re Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Children Protection Homes, to Nari Niketans also, if feasable.

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Tata Housing Development Company Ltd. v. Aalok Jagga, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1419

In the matter concerning the housing project, on the ground that the area in question falls within the catchment area of Sukhna Lake and is 123 meters away from the boundary of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai, JJ has held that such projects cannot be permitted to come up within such a short distance from the wildlife sanctuary. Stating that the entire exercise smacks of arbitrariness on the part of Government including functionaries, the bench said that the Court has to perform its duty in such a scenario when the authorities have failed to protect the wildlife sanctuary eco­sensitive zone. It said,

The entire exercise of obtaining clearance relating to the project is quashed. We regret that such a scenario has emerged in the matter and that it involved a large number of MLAs of Punjab Legislative Assembly.

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Anantha Raju v. T.M. Narasimhan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 969

The 3-Judges Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai*, JJ., held that when parties deliberately put their agreement into writing, it is conclusively presumed that they intended the writing to form a full and final statement of their intentions, and one which should be placed beyond the reach of future controversy, bad faith and treacherous memory.

“It would be inconvenient that matters in writing made by advice and on consideration, and which finally import the certain truth of the agreement of parties should be controlled by averment the parties to be proved by the uncertain testimony of slippery memory.

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Kanwar Amninder Singh v. High Court of Uttarakhand, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s).2507/2021, 17-09-2021

The Division Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai, JJ., held that strict Rules Of Evidence do not apply on a departmental enquiry.

The Petitioner, an Additional District Judge in the State of Uttarakhand was facing a departmental enquiry. The grievance of the petitioner was that his application for placing certain documents on record before the Enquiry Officer was rejected on the ground that the Presenting Officer had made an endorsement on the documents that they do not deserve to be admitted in view of Sections 85A and 85B of the Indian Evidence Act.

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Punjab and State Power Corporation Ltd. v. EMTA Coal Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 766

While elaborating the scope of judicial review, Bench of L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that,

“It is not for the Court to determine whether a particular policy or a particular decision taken in the fulfilment of that policy is fair.”

Question relating to interpretation of Section 11 of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 which was an outcome of the judgment of this Court’s decision in Manohar Lal Sharma v. Principal Secretary, (2014) 9 SCC 516, and ancillary question pertaining to the scope of judicial review of administrative action of the State authority arose for consideration in the instant appeals.

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Subhranshu Sarkar v. Indrani Sarkar (Nee Das), 2021 SCC OnLine SC 720

The Division Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai, JJ., dissolved a marriage while exercising its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India as the marriage was emotionally dead.

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All India Association of Jurists v. Uttaranchal High Court, WP (C) No. 941 of 2021, dated 6-9-2021

 A three-Judge Bench of L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ. is considering a writ petition seeking to declare that the right to access to virtual courts through video conferencing is a facet of fundamental rights. The Court has issued notice to various parties including the Bar Council of India, the Supreme Court Bar Association and several High Courts.

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Common Cause v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 687

A Division Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai, JJ. upheld the Central Government’s order extending the tenure of the incumbent Director of Enforcement Sanjay Kumar Mishra for a period of one year. The Supreme Court held that there is no fetter on the power of the Central Government in appointing the Director of Enforcement beyond a period of two years. Interpreting Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 which prescribes the minimum tenure of the Director of Enforcement, the Court observed:

“The words ‘not less than two years’ cannot be read to mean ‘not more than two years’ and there is no fetter on the power of the Central Government in appointing the Director of Enforcement beyond a period of two years.”

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Madhya Kshetra Basmati Growers Association Samiti v. Intellectual Property Appellate Board, Chennai, Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (C) No (s). 8461 of 2020, decided on 2-9-2021

The Bench of L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., addressed a matter with respect to registration of ‘Basmati’ as a Geographical Indication for basmati rice.

In the present matter, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (“APEDA”) filed an application before the Assistant Registrar of the Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai to register ‘Basmati’ as a Geographical Indication in Class 30 under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

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Brajesh Singh v. Sunil Arora, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 571

A Division Bench comprising of R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ. found several political parties guilty of contempt of court for non-compliance of directions given by the Supreme Court in Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora, (2020) 3 SCC 733 in connection with disclosure of information of candidates with criminal antecedents. Penalties have been imposed on the political parties found guilty. The Court also issued further directions in order to make the right of information of a voter more effective and meaningful.

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Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC v. Future Retail Limited, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 557

Holding that an award passed by Emergency Arbitrator is enforceable under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, a Division Bench of R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ., ruled in favour of Amazon in the infamous Future-Amazon dispute. It was held that the interim award in favour of Amazon, passed by the Emergency Arbitrator appointed under the Arbitration Rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre is enforceable under the Indian Arbitration Act. The Court declared that full party autonomy is given by the Arbitration Act to have a dispute decided in accordance with institutional rules which can include Emergency Arbitrators delivering interim orders. 

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Union of India v. Rajendra N. Shah, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 474

A 3-Judge Bench of the Court held that the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 which inter alia inserted Part IX-B is ultra vires the Constitution insofar it is concerned with the subject of Cooperative Societies for want of the requisite ratification under Article 368(2) proviso. At the same time, the Court by a majority of 2:1, followed doctrine of severability in declaring that Part IX-B is operative insofar as it concerns Multi-State Cooperative Societies both within various States and in Union Territories.  R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ., formed the majority, whereas K.M. Joseph, J. penned a separate opinion dissenting partly with the majority. He expressed inability to concur with the view on the application of doctrine of severability. 

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Amway India Enterprises Pvt. Ltd v. Ravindranath Rao Sindhia, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 171

Division Bench of R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ., addressed an important case regarding nature of arbitration under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Bench ruled, if at least one of the parties was either a foreign national, or habitually resident in any country other than India; or by a body corporate which was incorporated in any country other than India; or by the Government of a foreign country, the arbitration would become an international commercial arbitration notwithstanding the fact that the individual, body corporate, or government of a foreign country carry on business in India through a business office in India.

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PSA SICAL Terminals (P) Ltd. v. V.O. Chidambranar Port Trust, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 508

Division Bench comprising of R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ. held that an arbitral award which is based on no evidence and/or in ignorance of evidence would come under the realm of patent illegality. The Court also held that an arbitrator cannot rewrite the contract for the parties. Read More

Navinchandra Steels (P) Ltd. v. Srei Equipment Finance Ltd., (2021) 4 SCC 435

The Division Bench of Rohinton Fali Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ., addressed the instant appeal involving the question that whether an insolvency proceedings could be initiated after the winding up application had been admitted under the Companies Act. The Bench stated, that,“…every effort should be made to resuscitate the corporate debtor in the larger public interest, which includes not only the workmen of the corporate debtor, but also its creditors and the goods it produces in the larger interest of the economy of the country.”

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Gemini Bay Transcription (P) Ltd. v. Integrated Sales Service Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 572

 A Division Bench comprising of R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ. held that a foreign arbitral award is enforceable against non-signatories to arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court reiterated that grounds for resisting a foreign arbitral award contained in Section 48(1)(a) to (e) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 are to be narrowly construed, and that a non-signatory’s objection cannot possibly fit into Section 48(1)(a). Furthermore, a foreign arbitral award cannot be challenged on the ground of “perversity”.

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Nayan Tara v. Ritu Maheshwari, Contempt Pet. (C) No. 316/2021

The Division Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ., settled a decade-old land-acquisition dispute by directing NOIDA (New Okhla Industrial Development Authority) to pay compensation to the aggrieved land-owners who were dispossessed of their land by the authority without any land acquisition proceeding and without the authority of law

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National Highways v. M. Hakeem,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 473

The Division Bench of R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ., while addressing a significant and interesting question of law expressed that,

“If one were to include the power to modify an award in Section 34, one would be crossing the Lakshman Rekha”

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Shital Fibers Ltd. v. Indian Acrylics Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 281

In a corporate dispute case, the 3-Judge Bench comprising of R.F. Nariman, B.R. Gavai* and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., held that,

“The company Court while exercising its powers under sections 433 and 434 of the Companies Act would not be in a position to decide, as to who was at fault in not complying with the terms and conditions of the deed of settlement and the compromise deed.”

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M/S Utkal Suppliers v. M/S Maa Kanak Durga Enterprices,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 301

The Division Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman* and B.R. Gavai, JJ., addressed the issue of overstepping of review jurisdiction by the High Courts in policy matters. The Bench expressed,

“Judicial review in these matters is equivalent to judicial restraint in these matters…the writ court does not have the expertise to correct such decisions by substituting its own decision for the decision of the authority.”

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Navinchandra Steels (P) Ltd. v. SREI Equipment Finance Ltd., (2021) 4 SCC 435

The Division Bench of Rohinton Fali Nariman* and B.R. Gavai, JJ., addressed the instant appeal involving the question that whether an insolvency proceedings could be initiated after the winding up application had been admitted under the Companies Act. The Bench stated,

“…every effort should be made to resuscitate the corporate debtor in the larger public interest, which includes not only the workmen of the corporate debtor, but also its creditors and the goods it produces in the larger interest of the economy of the country.

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State of Kerala v. Mother Superior Adoration Convent, (2021) 5 SCC 602

The Division Bench comprising of R. F. Nariman* and B.R. Gavai, JJ., addressed the instant case regarding statutory interpretation.  The issue before the Bench was whether a residential accommodation for nuns and hostel for students would fall under “religious or educational purposes” for the purpose of tax exemption. The Bench expressed,

“We must first ask ourselves what is the object sought to be achieved by the provision, and construe the statute in accord with such object. And on the assumption that any ambiguity arises in such construction, such ambiguity must be in favour of that which is exempted.”

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Amway India Enterprises (P) Ltd. v. Ravindranath Rao Sindhia, (2021) 8 SCC 465 

The Division Bench of R.F. Nariman* and B.R. Gavai, JJ., addressed an important case regarding nature of arbitration under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Bench ruled,

“If at least one of the parties was either a foreign national, or habitually resident in any country other than India; or by a body corporate which was incorporated in any country other than India; or by the Government of a foreign country, the arbitration would become an international commercial arbitration notwithstanding the fact that the individual, body corporate, or government of a foreign country carry on business in India through a business office in India.”

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Ram Vijay Singh v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 142

In a 38 year old case relating to murder the 3-Judge Bench of Rohinton Fali Nariman, Hemant Gupta* and B.R. Gavai, JJ., had held

“The ossification test conducted in year 2020 when the appellant was 55 years of age cannot be conclusive to declare him as a juvenile on the date of the incident.”

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Rama Narang v. Ramesh Narang, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 29,

B.R. Gavai, J., while addressing a contempt petition expressed that:

“…contempt proceeding is not like an execution proceeding under the Code of Civil Procedure.”

“…contempt proceedings are quasi-criminal in nature and the standard of proof required is in the same manner as in the other criminal cases.”

“A mere objection to jurisdiction does not instantly disable the Court from passing any interim orders.”

The instant contempt petition arose out of an unfortunate family dispute between a father and his two sons from his first wife.

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*Associate Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

[1]SC Collegium recommends Justices BR Gavai, Surya Kant for elevation to top court, Scroll, last updated May 09, 2019,

[2] Supreme Court Observer, Judges’ archive

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