Know Thy Judge| Justice R. Subhash Reddy

“The ADR system has root in panchayat system, we are revitalizing the system by introducing with scientific system. In Industrial Dispute Act, Hindu Marriage Act, Family Courts Act the provision for settling the disputes was there before introduction of Section 89 in civil code. There should be effort to find out cases where there is possibility of settlement of cases.”

-Justice R. Subhash Reddy[1]


Justice Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy was born on January 05, 1957. He graduated from Andhra Vidyalaya College (AV College), Hyderabad and obtained his Law Degree from the University College of Law, Osmania University, Hyderabad.

Justice Reddy enrolled as an Advocate on 30-10-1980 in Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh. As an Advocate he joined the Chambers of Sri Justice B. Subhashan Reddy. He practised for 22 years and was specialised in constitutional law. He was Standing Counsel for premier institutions like S.V.University and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University.

On 02-12-2002, Justice Reddy was elevated as an Additional Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and a Permanent Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on 24-06-2004. He was elevated as Chief Justice of High Court of Gujarat on 13-02-2016 and was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India on 2-11-2018.

♦Did you know? Justice Reddy is the first judge from Telangana to become an SC judge after the state was carved out from Andhra Pradesh.


Notable Judgments


Kantaru Rajeevaru (Right to Religion, In re-9 J.) v. Indian Young Lawyers Assn., (2020) 2 SCC 52

The 9-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, while framing seven issues in the Sabrimala reference, opined that the same can be refered to a larger bench in its Review jurisdiction.

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Shah Faesal v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 1

In a writ petition filled under Article 32 of the Constitution of India pertaining to two Constitution Orders issued by the President of India in exercise of his powers under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, a Full judge Constitution bench of NV Ramana, SK Kaul, R. Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, held that no cause was made out to refer the matter to a larger bench as there is no conflict between the judgments in the Prem Nath Kaul v. State of J & K, AIR 1959 SC 749 and the Sampat Prakash v. State of J & K, AIR 1970 SC 1118. The Court observed that

“… judgments cannot be interpreted in a vacuum, separate from their facts and context. Observations made in a judgment cannot be selectively picked in order to give them a particular meaning.”

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Pravakar Mallick v. State of Orissa, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 375

A Division bench headed by Justice Reddy, determining the validity of a resolution passed by the Government of Orissa in 2002 providing consequential seniority to certain government servants belonging to the SC/ST communities, followed the law laid down in Jarnail Singh v. Lachhmi Narain Gupta: 2018 SCC OnLine SC 635, B.K. Pavitra v.Union of India: (2019) 16 SCC 229 and M. Nagaraj v. Union of India: (2006) 8 SCC 212 and opined that although Article 16(4A) of the Constitution of India enables the states to extend the benefit of promotion with consequential seniority, the same has to be done upon examining the adequacy of representation in the state services as indicated by Article 335 of the Constitution of India.

The Court upheld the Odisha High Court judgement which had quashed the impugned resolution which provided for reservation in promotion.


Nand Kishore v. State of M.P., (2019) 16 SCC 278

A 3-judge bench comprising of SA Bobde, L Nageswara Rao and R. Subhash Reddy JJ., while deciding whether the petitioner’s case fell into the ‘rarest of rare’ category requiring death penalty, commuted the death sentence into life imprisonment of 25 years without remission which was confirmed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court for rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl.

The Court observed that

“We are of the view that the reasons assigned by the trial court as confirmed by the High Court, do not constitute special reasons within the meaning of Section 354(3) of the Cr.PC to impose death penalty on the accused. Taking into account the evidence on record and the totality of the circumstances of the case, and by applying the test on the touchstone of case law discussed above, we are of the view that the case on hand will not fall within the ‘rarest of rare’ cases.”


Ravi v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 622

“A civic society has a `fundamental’ and `human’ right to live free from any kind of psycho fear, threat, danger or insecurity at the hands of anti-social elements.”

A 3-judge bench comprising of R. F. Nariman, Surya Kant and R. Subhash Reddy JJ., following the judgment in the case of California v. Ramos, 463 U.S. 992 where it was observed that “qualitative difference of death from all other punishments requires a correspondingly greater degree of scrutiny of the capital sentencing determination” and upheld (2:1) the death penalty awarded to an accused for rape and murder of a two- year old girl.

The Court observed that the Sentencing Policy needs to strike a balance between (a) deterrent effect and (b) complete reformation for integration of the offender.

 “The Legislature has impliedly distanced itself from the propounders of “No-Death Sentence” in “No Circumstances” theory and has re-stated the will of the people that in the cases of brutal rape of minor children below the age of 12years without murder of the victim, `death penalty’ can also be imposed.”

The Court shedding the light on duty of the Court and expectation of the people of the country, observed that

“The society legitimately expects the Courts to apply doctrine of proportionality and impose suitable and deterent punishment that commensurate(s) with the gravity of offence.”

Justice R. Subhash Reddy in his dissenting judgment noted that “I am of the view that, this is not a fit case where the appellant is to be awarded capital punishment, i.e, death penalty”. According to him the mitigating circumstances of the Appellant dominated the aggravating circumstances and that there is no proof to show that reform or rehabilitation of the convict is not possible. Moreover, the conviction is solely based on circumstantial evidence, if no special reasons exist, the extreme punishment of death penalty should not be imposed.

Relaying on the judgement in the case of Jagmohan Singh v. State of U.P., (1973) 1 SCC 20 and Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1979) 3 SCC 727, Justice Reddy observed that

“In the aforesaid judgment, while considering the scope of Section 235(2) read with Section 354(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, this Court has held that, in fixing the degree of punishment or in making the choice of sentence for various offences, including one under Section 302 IPC, the Court should not confine its consideration “principally or merely” to the circumstances connected with the particular crime, but also due consideration to the circumstances of the criminal. However, it is observed that, what is the relative weight to be given to the aggravating and mitigating factors, depends on facts and circumstances of each case.”

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Ishwari Lal Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 10 SCC 437

“There cannot be any hard and fast rule for balancing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Each case has to be decided on its own merits.”

A 3-judge bench comprising of R. F. Nariman, Surya Kant and R. Subhash Reddy JJ., placing reliance on the case of Sushil Murmu v. State of Jharkhand: (2004) 2 SCC 338, opined that this case fulfils the test of rarest of rare cases as it involved gruesome murder for human sacrifice of 2 yr old boy.

Justice Reddy observed that

“Having regard to age of the accused, they were not possessed of the basic humanness, they completely lacked the psyche or mindset which can be amenable for any reformation.”

The Court also placed emphasised on extra-judicial confession and opined that

“It is true that extrajudicial confession, is a weak piece of evidence but at the same time if the same is corroborated by other evidences on record, such confession can be taken into consideration to prove the guilt of the accused.”


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

“Liberty and security have always been at loggerheads. The question before us, simply put, is what do we need more, liberty or security?”

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

The Court held that the freedom of speech and expression and freedom to carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet is embodied under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

The Court also observed that suspension of the internet should only be for a reasonable duration and periodic review should be done on it. The Prohibitory orders  passed under Section 144 CrPC cannot be imposed to suppress legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights.

“As emergency does not shield the actions of Government completely; disagreement does not justify destabilisation; the beacon of rule of law shines always.”

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Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 624 [EWS Reservation]

“…deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution it is to be heard by a Bench of five Judges.”

Without looking into the merit of the case on the validity of impugned amendments i.e. Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 which provides for grant of 10% quota to Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs) in jobs and admissions in the general category, a 3-judge bench comprising of S.A. Bobde CJ., R. Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai JJ., only examined whether the petitions involve a substantial question of law or not.

The Court held that the said amendments run contrary to the judgement in case of  Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, 1992 Supp (3) SCC 217 as it exceeds the ceiling cap of 50%, therefore, involves a substantial question of law which is to be examined by a Bench of 5-Judges as per Article 145(3) of the Constitution of India read with Order XXXVIII Rule 1(1) of the Supreme Court of Rules, 2013.

“Whether the impugned Amendment Act violates basic structure of the Constitution, by applying the tests of ‘width’ and ‘identity’ with reference to equality provisions of the Constitution, is a matter which constitutes substantial question of law within the meaning of the provisions as referred above. Further, on the plea of ceiling of 50% for affirmative action, it is the case of the respondent-Union of India that though ordinarily 50% is the rule but same will not prevent to amend the Constitution itself in view of the existing special circumstances to uplift the members of the society belonging to economically weaker sections.”

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Shankar Sakharam Kenjale v. Narayan Krishna Gade, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 371

“Once A Mortgage, Always A Mortgage”

Dismissing the appeal, a Division bench of Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and R. Subhash Reddy JJ., upheld the judgment of High Court of Judicature at Bombay directing the Trial Court to produce a preliminary decree of redemption of mortgage in favour of the Respondents.

The Court relying on the judgment in the case of Jayasingh Dnyanu Mhoprekar v. Krishna Babaji Patil, (1985) 4 SCC 162 and Namdev Shripati Nale v. Bapu Ganapati Jagtap, (1997) 5 SCC 185, held that

“right of redemption under a mortgage deed can come to an end or be extinguished only by a process known to law, i.e., either by way of a contract between the parties to such effect, by a merger, or by a statutory provision that debars the mortgagor from redeeming the mortgage.”


Foundation for Media Professionals v. UT of J&K, (2020) 5 SCC 746

“National security concerns and human rights must be reasonably and defensibly adjusted with one another, in line with the constitutional principles.”

A 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai JJ., observed that

“While it might be desirable and convenient to have better internet in the present circumstances, wherein there is a world wide pandemic and a national lockdown. However, the fact that outside forces are trying to infiltrate the borders and destabilize the integrity of the nation, as well as cause incidents resulting in the death of innocent citizens and security forces every day cannot be ignored.”

and directed the constitution of a Special Committee comprising Secretaries of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Communications, Ministry of Communications and the Chief Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir to review 4G connectivity in Jammu & Kashmir as 2G service available in the Union Territory is not sufficient for education and business purposes.

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Abhilasha v. Parkash, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 736

“The maintenance as contemplated under Act, 1956 is a larger concept as compared to concept of maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.”

A 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ., held that an unmarried Hindu daughter can claim maintenance from her father till she is married, relying on Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956, provided she pleads and proves that she is unable to maintain herself.

“The right of unmarried daughter under Section 20 to claim maintenance from her father when she is unable to maintain herself is absolute and the right given to unmarried daughter under Section 20 is right granted under personal law, which can very well be enforced by her against her father.”

The Court upheld the order of the Judicial Magistrate First Class as well as learned Additional Magistrate because the application was filed under Section 125 CrPC and while deciding proceedings under Section 125 CrPC, Judicial Magistrate First Class could not have exercised the jurisdiction under Section 20(3) of Act, 1956.

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Praneeth K  v. University Grants Commission, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 688

While upholding the validity of the revised University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines dated July 6, 2020, a 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ., held that the State/State Disaster Management Authority’s decision to promote the students in the final year/terminal semester on the basis of previous performance and internal assessment is beyond the jurisdiction of Disaster Management Act, 2005 and they cannot promote students without holding final year university examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the State Disaster Management Authority and State Government take a decision that for mitigation or prevention of disaster it is not possible to hold physical examination in the State, the said decision was within the four corners of Disaster Management Act, 2005. However, the decision of the Disaster Management Authority or the State Government that students should be promoted without appearing in the final year/terminal semester examination, is not within the domain of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.”

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Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla v. National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 761

“Different National Law Universities have been established by different statues and have statutory functions and obligations to achieve a common purpose and to give a boost to legal education in the country.”

A 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ., quashed the National Law Aptitude Exam (NLAT) conducted by National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru and directed the admission of students in NLSIU has to be necessarily through Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).

“CLAT being an All India Examination for different National Law Universities has achieved its own importance and prominence in legal education. The steps taken by National Law Universities to form a Consortium and to cooperate with each other in conduct of CLAT is towards discharge of their public duty entrusted under the different statutes. The duty to uphold its integrity lies on the shoulder of each and every member.”

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Pravasi Legal Cell v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 799

“We cannot lose sight of the present situation prevailing in the country and across the globe”

A 3-judge bench of Ashik Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, JJ observed that “Strict enforcement of Civil Aviation Requirements at this moment may not yield any meaningful result for any stake holder” and directed refund of air-fare during the lockdown period, when domestic and international flights’ operation was suspended.

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Thingujam Achouba Singh v. H. Nabachandra Singh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 370

“The eligibility criteria will be within the domain of the employer and no candidate can seek as a matter of right, to provide relaxation clause.”

A Division Bench headed by R. Subhash Reddy J., while quashing the order of the High Court of Manipur by which the advertisement dated 16.08.2016 was quashed, held that to provide relaxation clause in eligibility criteria is within the domain of the employer and High Court has not power to provide a relaxation which is not notified in the advertisement.

“While it is open for the employer to notify such criteria for relaxation when sufficient candidates are not available, at the same time nobody can claim such relaxation as a matter of right.”


A.M.C.S. Swamy v. Mehdi Agah Karbalai, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 899

A Division Bench presided by R. Subhash Reddy J., held that Special Court under the Electricity Act, 2003 can take cognizance of the offence under Section 151 of the Act which is otherwise prohibited under Section 193 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

“When there is express provision in the Special Act empowering the Special Court to take cognizance of an offence without the accused being committed, it cannot be said that taking cognizance of offence by Special Court is in violation of Section 193 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.”


XYZ v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 10 SCC 337

“Whether in a given case power under Section 482 is to be exercised or not, depends on the contents of the complaint, and the material placed on record.”

A 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ, hearing an appeal against the verdict of Gujarat High Court that quashed the criminal proceedings against a man accused for sexually assaulting and blackmailing his employee, held that exercise of inherent powers of High Court under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to quash FIR, when there are serious triable allegations in complaint is bad in law.

Justice Reddy opined that

“where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the woman alleged to have been raped, and such woman states in her evidence before the Court that she did not consent, the court shall presume that she did not consent.”

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*Editorial Assistant – Trainee, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

[1] SESSION 9 – ADR Mechanism and Role of Judges, Regional Judicial Conference on Strengthening Justice Delivery System: Tools & Techniques, Organized by Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, Karnataka Judicial Academy and National Judicial Academy 27th February, 2015 to 1st March, 2015,

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