Supreme Court Monthly Roundup – December 2020


TOP STORIES


Daughter-in-law’s right to residence under DV Act versus right of in-laws to seek eviction under Senior Citizens Act, 2007| Here’s how SC solved the conundrum on these competing interests

“Rights in law can translate to rights in life, only if there is an equitable ease in obtaining their realization.”

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Farmers’ protest can continue peacefully without impediment. Supreme Court calls for constitution of a committee to resolve the issue

“Indeed the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order.”

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‘Landlord-tenant disputes under Transfer of Property Act are arbitrable’. SC lays down test for determining non-arbitrability of disputes

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana*Sanjiv Khanna** and Krishna Murari, JJ has overruled the ratio in Himangni Enterprises v. Kamaljeet Singh Ahluwalia, (2017) 10 SCC 706 wherein it was held that landlord-tenant disputes governed by the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, are not arbitrable as this would be contrary to public policy.

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SC directs all States & UTs to install CCTV Cameras in all Police Station. Read how CCTV Cameras will help curb custodial violence

The Court said that the directions are in furtherance of the fundamental rights of each citizen of India guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and hence, the Executive/Administrative/police authorities are to implement this Order both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible.

In Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (2018) 2 SCC 801[1]the Court had directed that a Central Oversight Body be set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs to implement the plan of action with respect to the use of videography in the crime scene during the investigation.

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Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of imposition of GST on lotteries, betting and gambling

“The Constitution framers were well aware of the definition of goods as occurring in the Sale of Goods Act, 1930 when the Constitution was enforced. By providing an inclusive definition of goods in Article 366(12), the Constitution framers never intended to give any restrictive meaning of goods.”

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Also read: GST on lotteries| Prize money not to be excluded for computing the taxable value of supply, holds SC

Prior environmental clearance required before commencement of actual construction of a National Highway, not at the planning stage: SC

“Environmental/forest clearance is always site specific and, therefore, until the site is identified for construction of national highways manifested vide Section 3A notification, the question of making any application for permission under the environmental/forest laws would not arise.”

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Also read: Centre versus State| Who has the power to make law declaring any land within a State as a national highway? Supreme Court answers

Triple Talaq| No bar on granting anticipatory bail for an offence committed under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019: Supreme Court

The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, JJ has held that there is no bar on granting anticipatory bail for an offence committed under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019, provided that the competent court must hear the married Muslim woman who has made the complaint before granting the anticipatory bail.

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Impressed with Convenience Note filed by Chhattisgarh’s Standing Counsel, SC asks all Standing Counsels to take it as Standard Format. Here’s the Note

Appreciating the presentation made by State of Chhattisgarh’s Standing Counsel Sumeer Sodhi by filing a Convenience Note, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has suggested that the said note be taken as the Standard Format by all the counsels appearing for various States.

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AYUSH doctors can prescribe Homeopathic medicines but can’t advertise them as a cure for COVID-19: Supreme Court

“The homeopathy does not cure the disease, but it cures the patients.”

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Financial disability of parents/guardians should not hinder education of children restored from Child Care Institutions; Supreme Court issues directions

The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has issued directions to ensure education of children in Child Care Institutions which has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Do you see authorities pasting posters outside COVID-19 positive persons’ homes? They can’t do that

No such direction has been issued by the Government of India.

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Pandemic is spreading like a wild fire. Take strict action against those violating Guidelines “whoever he may be”; make treatment affordable: Supreme Court

“Even if one survives from COVID-19, many times financially and economically he is finished.”

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“Open category is open to all”; SC directs appointment of OBC female candidates with higher marks than General Category female candidates as Constables by UP Police

“Any selection which results in candidates getting selected against Open/General category with less merit than the other available candidates will certainly be opposed to principles of equality.”

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MORE STORIES


‘Administrative lethargy of State will discourage entrepreneurship’; SC calls out Jharkhand Govt for not giving 50% electricity rebate to Industrial Units as promised

“State must discard the colonial notion that it is a sovereign handing out doles at its will.”

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Also read: Legitimate expectations: Evolution and application of the doctrine in India and how is it different from promissory estoppel as explained by Supreme Court

Why are Landlord-tenant disputes under TP Act arbitrable but those under Rent Acts non-arbitrable? ‘

law laid down in Vidya Drolia v. Durga Trading Corporation2020 SCC OnLine SC 1018 .

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Supreme Court refuses to interfere with Chanda Kochhar’s termination as ICICI’s MD, CEO

“We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order for the reason that the only controversy in these proceedings is whether the resignation of the petitioner having earlier been accepted and thereafter her services been terminated, the latter could take place or not. This would fall within the realm of contractual relationship between the petitioner and the private bank.”

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MLA casts vote in Rajya Sabha election in morning, gets convicted in the afternoon. Such vote will still be valid despite MLA’s consequent disqualification, holds SC

“To hold that a Member of the Legislative Assembly stood disqualified even before he was convicted would grossly violate his substantive right to be treated as innocent until proved guilty.”

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Central Vista Project| SC rebukes Centre for going ahead with construction work but allows stone-laying of new Parliament building

The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has rebuked Centre for moving ahead with the construction work in the Central Vista project while the dispute is still pending before the Court but has allowed it to go ahead with the stone-laying program for the new Parliament building scheduled to be held on December 10, 2020.

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‘Suspension of sentence not enough to save one from disqualification from contesting elections’, SC dismisses Saritha Nair’s plea challenging Hibi Eden’s election

In a case where the Kerala High Court had refused to entertain the plea of Saritha Nair who was disqualified from contesting the elections on the ground that she was convicted in 2 criminal cases, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian*, JJ has held that though the High Court was right in not taking up the election petition but the ground on which it rejected the petition i.e. incurable defects, was wrong.

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Universities, having their reputation linked with performance of students, can stipulate enhanced norms & standards than those prescribed by AICTE, holds SC

“While universities cannot dilute the standards prescribed by AICTE, they certainly have the power to stipulate enhanced norms and standards.”

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Rs.10 lakhs compensation & a confirmed seat for next academic year to a candidate who was illegally denied admission by a Medical College; directs SC

In a case where a Medical College illegally denied admission to a candidate to Post-Graduate Medical Specialty course of MS for the academic year 2020-2021, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao* and Hemant Gupta, JJ has directed the College to pay a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs to the candidate and to reserve a seat for her for the next academic year.

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Bombay High Court could not have granted Scheduled Tribe status to “Gowari” community, holds SC

In a case where the Bombay High Court declared that tribe “Gowari” is a part of Scheduled Tribe “Gond Gowari” thereby leading to several people taking benefit of Scheduled Tribes for admissions and employment, the bench of Ashok Bhushan*, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has held that

“the High Court could not have entertained the claim or looked into the evidences to find out and decide that tribe “Gowari” is part of Scheduled Tribe “Gond Gowari”, which is included in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.”

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FIR is not a detailed chronicle of all intricate and minute details of an offence: Supreme Court

At this stage, it is enough if the police officer on the information given suspects – though he may not be convinced or satisfied – that a cognisable offence has been committed.

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SC finds investigation in Ram Nath Chaubey murder case involving BJP MLA Sushil Singh a sham “designed to conceal more than to investigate”. SIT to takeover

“To say that further investigation was not possible as the informant had not supplied adequate materials to investigate, to our mind, is a preposterous statement, coming from the police.”

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Anglo American Metallurgical Coal versus MMTC| Supreme Court finds Delhi HC’s division bench verdict “flawed”; Restores Arbitral Tribunal’s majority award

“The entire approach of the Division Bench is flawed.”

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Also read: Patent and latent ambiguities, as explained by Supreme Court

Supreme Court refuses to interfere with Allahabad High Court’s order quashing Dr. Kafeel Khan’s detention

The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ has refused to interfere with Allahabad High Court’s decision quashing Dr. Kafeel Khan’s detention. The Court has, however, made clear that the observations in the judgment will not determine the outcome of the prosecution and that the criminal cases will be decided on their own merits.

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Supreme Court confirms pre-BALCO foreign awards cannot be challenged under Section 34 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act

The question before the division bench of Ravindra Bhat and Indira Banerjee, JJ. was whether a foreign award rendered in the pre BALCO[1] era, could be challenged under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.

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Supreme Court issues contempt notices to comic Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has issued notice to cartoonist Rachita Taneja and comedian Kunal Kamra in two separate cases relating contemptuous social media posts.

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Are strict principles of evidence and standards of proof like in a criminal trial applicable in Motor Accident Claims cases? Supreme Court answers

“The standard of proof in such like matters is one of preponderance of probabilities, rather than beyond reasonable doubt. One needs to be mindful that the approach and role of Courts while examining evidence in accident claim cases ought not to be to find fault with non-examination of some best eye-witnesses, as may happen in a criminal trial; but, instead should be only to analyze the material placed on record by the parties to ascertain whether the claimant’s version is more likely than not true.”

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Ola, Uber do not facilitate cartelization or anti-competitive practices between drivers, holds SC but says no to imposing “heavy cost” on the informant

“When the CCI performs inquisitorial, as opposed to adjudicatory functions, the doors of approaching the CCI and the appellate authority, i.e., the NCLAT, must be kept wide open in public interest.”

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Activist with “an urge to positively contribute to the society” files plea u/s 482 CrPC seeking expedition of a criminal trial. ‘You have no locus standi’, holds SC

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan*, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has reiterated that an application by a person who is in no way connected with the criminal proceeding or criminal trial under Section 482 Cr.P.C. cannot ordinarily be entertained by the High Court.

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‘Physically impossible for me to commit rape’, claims a one-handed man convicted for rape of a 6-year-old. SC says “there is no such impossibility”

In a 20-year-old case relating to rape of a 6-year-old, the 3-judge bench of RF Nariman*, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph, JJ has dismissed the special leave petition filed by the convict, thereby rejecting the contention that since the petitioner has only one hand, it would be physically impossible to have committed an act of rape. The Court said that there is no such impossibility.

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Telangana-Andhra Pradesh Power Staff allocation dispute| Here’s why Supreme Court refused to interfere with Justice Dharmadhikari (One-Man) Committee report

 In the dispute relating to distribution of personnel between the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporations, the bench of Ashok Bhushan* and MR Shah, JJ has held that the allocation made by the One-man Committee of former Supreme Court judge, Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari is final and that the said allocation cannot be challenged by any employee or officer or any utility before any forum.

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Person holds graduation/B.Ed. degrees but gets temporarily appointed initially. Another obtains degrees after appointment. Who can claim seniority? SC answers

In the case relating to seniority of teachers appointed with Shri Samarth Shikshan Sansthan, the 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has held that a person who neither a graduate nor a trained teacher at the time of his initial appointment cannot claim seniority over a someone possessing graduation and B.Ed degrees.

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Can candidates left out of merit list claim equity with those selected on basis of erroneous concession given by State? Read SC discussion on Negative Equality

A 3-Judge Bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, JJ. held that the candidates left out of merit list has no right to claim the same benefit which was provided to some other candidates on basis of some erroneous concession granted by the State. The Court restated that negative equality cannot be claimed to perpetuate further illegality.

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Who is a duly nominated candidate? An explainer by the Supreme Court

The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ* and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ, while upholding Allahabad High Court’s order dismissing the petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the 17th Lok Sabha from 77th Parliamentary Constituency (Varanasi), held in April – May 2019, explained the true import of the term “duly nominated”.

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Man roped in in the dowry death of his brother’s wife freed after 2 decades as SC finds allegations against him vague

The bench of NV Ramana* and Surya Kant, JJ has acquitted a man convicted under Section 498­A read with Section 34 IPC for the death of his brother’s wife after it was found that the case against him was not proved beyond doubt.

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Is a company providing expert services an employer under EPF Act if the wages are paid from contractual money received from clients? SC answers

In a case where a company provided trained and efficient security guards to clients, claimed that security guards were the employees of the client, the was bench of Navin Sinha* and Surya Kant, JJ has held that merely because the client pays money under a contract to the appellant and in turn the appellant pays the wages of such security guards from such contractual amount received by it, it does not make the client the employer of the security guard nor do the security guards constitute employees of the client.

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Section 22 of MMDR Act does not bar Magistrate to direct registration of FIR under Section 156(3) CrPC; holds SC

The violators cannot be permitted to go scot free on payment of penalty only.

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‘Ability to do some household chores does not discard evidence of prosecutrix’s mental disorder’; SC holds man guilty for rape of a mentally deficient woman

“A person suffering from mental disorder or mental sickness deserves special care, love and affection. They are not to be exploited.”

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1991 Balwant Singh Multani disappearance| SC grants anticipatory bail to Punjab’s former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in a fresh FIR alleging murder

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah*, JJ has granted anticipatory bail to Punjab’s former DGP Sumesh Singh Saini in Balwant Singh Multani disappearance case and has directed,

“… he shall be released on bail on furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs.1,00,000/­ (Rupees one lakh only) and two sureties of the like amount and to surrender the passport and to cooperate with the investigation (however without prejudice to his rights and contentions in the pending proceedings to quash the impugned FIR).”

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SC refuses to quash FIRs for remarks on Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti but Amish Devgan not to be arrested pending investigation

The 2-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has refused to quash the FIRs registered against News18 Journalist Amish Devgan for using the term “Lootera Chisti” in one of his shows but has granted interim protection to him against arrest subject to his joining and cooperating in investigation till completion of the investigation.

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RPSC 2nd Grade Teachers’ recruitment| SC saves appointees by not setting aside Rajasthan High Court’s ‘erroneous’ decision on correctness of answer key

“It was not open to the Division Bench to have examined the correctness of the questions and the answer key to come to a conclusion different from that of the Expert Committee.”

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After a suicide note made it to newspapers in a dowry death case, Supreme Court says ‘Selective leaks to media neither fair to accused nor to victims’

“To expect that the family of the deceased should be scouring the pages of the print and electronic media before reporting the crime is a mockery of the human condition.”

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When can members of a group be held individually guilty for an offence? Supreme Court explains applicability of Sections 34 and 149 of IPC

“Although both Section 34 and 149 of the IPC are modes for apportioning vicarious liability on the individual members of a group, there exist a few important differences between these two provisions. Whereas Section 34 requires active participation and a prior meeting of minds, Section 149 IPC assigns liability merely by membership of the unlawful assembly. In reality, such ‘common intention’ is usually indirectly inferred from conduct of the individuals and only seldom it is done through direct evidence.”

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Freedom & rights cannot armour those who promote & incite violence| 15 notable excerpts on ‘hate speech’ from Supreme Court’s verdict in Amish Devgan case

“In a polity committed to pluralism, hate speech cannot conceivably contribute in any legitimate way to democracy and, in fact, repudiates the right to equality.”

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