“There should be effort to find out cases where there is possibility of settlement of cases…Serious thinking on ADR is required.”
Justice R. Subhash Reddy
As Justice Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy prepares to bid adieu, we endeavor to take you to a trip down the memory lane of his tenure in the Supreme Court.
Travelling Back in Time
Justice R. Subhash Reddy was born on 5th January, 1957 in an agricultural family in Kamaram Village of Chinna Shankarampet Mandal, Medak District. He did his primary education in Upper Primary School and Higher Education from Zilla Parishad High School, Sankarampet, and graduation from Andhra Vidyalaya College, Hyderabad and obtained his Degree in Law from the University College of Law, Osmania University, Hyderabad.
♦Did You Know? Justice R. Subhash Reddy has deep interest in matters of philosophy, culture, music and education.
Career at a Glance
Justice Reddy enrolled as an advocate on 30-10-1980 in Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh and joined the Chambers of Sri Justice B. Subhashan Reddy. Post enrolment, Justice Reddy practised at Andhra Pradesh High Court, Civil Court Tribunals and Supreme Court.
Justice Reddy’s stint as an advocate stretched over a staggering period of 22 years during which he argued on issues related to Civil, Criminal, Constitutional, Revenue, Taxation, Labour, Company and Service matters in both original and appellate side. His specialisation however was in Constitutional Law. Justice Subhash Reddy was also elected unanimously as the President of the AP High Court Advocates Association for the year 2001-2002.
♦Did you Know? He was Standing Counsel for premier institutions like S.V. University and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University.
The High Courts- Elevation as a Judge- 2002-2018
On 2nd February, 2002, Justice Reddy was elevated as an Additional Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and sworn in as Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on 24-06-2004. He was later elevated as Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court on 13th February, 2016.
Notable High Court Decisions
Andhra Pradesh High Court/ Hyderabad High Court
A.P. Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) v. Govt. of A.P., 2009 SCC OnLine AP 50
The 5 Judge Bench of Goda Raghuram, V.V.S. Rao, R. Subhash Reddy, Ramesh Ranghanathan and G. Bhavani Prasad, JJ., held that where a police officer causes death of a person, acting or purporting to act in discharge of official duties or in self-defense as the case may be, the first information relating to such circumstance (even when by a Police/Public Official; whether an alleged perpetrator is named or not) shall be recorded and registered as FIR, enumerating the relevant provisions of Law, (u/Sec. 154(1) Cr.P.C.) and shall be investigated (u/Sec. 156/157 Cr.P.C.).
K. Swarna Kumari v. Government of Andhra Pradesh, 2006 SCC OnLine AP 97
Re. Andhra Pradesh Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1991, Rules 20(4) and 45(1) proviso, Full Bench of the Court comprising of T. Meena Kumari, A. Gopal Reddy, Goda Raghuram, T.CH. Surya Rao and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., held, violation of principles of natural justice by itself is not sufficient to invalidate punishment unless a clear prejudice suffered thereby is pleaded and demonstrated.
Gangaraju Sowmini (Dr.) v. Alavala Sudhakar Reddy, 2016 SCC OnLine Hyd 430
The 3-Judge Bench of Before R. Subhash Reddy, G. Chandraiah and Nooty Ramamohana Rao, JJ., held that as per the language under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 r/w. Rule 2(g) of the A.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, even the legal representatives who are non-dependants can also lay a claim for payment of compensation by making application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Gujarat High Court
Bar Council of Gujarat v. Jalpa Pradeepbhai Desai, 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 5080
While dismissing an appeal filed by a respondent petitioner who applied for a certificate of practice to the Bar Council of Gujarat while simultaneously rendering services at a corporation, the Division Bench of R. Subhash Reddy, CJ and Vipul M. Pancholi, J said that an advocate who works as a full-time salaried employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, is not entitled to grant of certificate of practice under the Advocates Act, 1961 in view of Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India Rules.
Prati Shailesh Patel v. State of Gujarat, 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 1909
While dealing with the constitutionality of Gujarat Professional Medical Educational Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, the bench comprising of R. Subhash Reddy, CJ and Vipul M. Pancholi, J. quashed the Ordinance to the extent of removing genuine NRI/NRI proper i.e. children or wards of the Non-Resident Indian from the quota in medical colleges.
Dayaram Khemkaran Verma v. State of Gujarat, 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 1821
While dealing with the constitutionality of the Gujarat Unreserved Economically Weaker Sections (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in services under the State) Ordinance, 2016 providing reservation of seats in the educational institutions in the State and of appointments and posts in the services under the State in favour of the Economically Weaker Sections of unreserved categories, the bench comprising of R. Subhash Reddy CJ., and Vipul M. Pancholi, J. held the Ordinance unconstitutional and contrary to fundamental rights.
THE SUPREME COURT- 2018-2022
On 1st November, 2018, the Ministry of Law and Justice notified the appointment of Justice R. Subhash Reddy to the Supreme Court of India by the President and on 2nd November, 2018, Justice Reddy assumed charge of his office as a Judge of Supreme Court.
♦Did You Know? Justice Reddy is the first Judge from the newly carved State of Telangana to become a Judge of the Supreme Court.
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.
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.”
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.
Rajnesh v. Neha, (2021) 2 SCC 324,
The Bench of Indu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., framed guidelines on the issue of maintenance of wife, covering overlapping jurisdiction under different enactments for payment of maintenance, payment of Interim Maintenance, the criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance, the date from which maintenance is to be awarded, and enforcement of orders of maintenance.
R. Natarajan v. State of T.N., (2021) 7 SCC 204
In an appeal regarding dowry death case the Division Bench of Navin Sinha and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., granted acquittal to an old aged couple. Opining that the Courts below had failed to consider the evidences available on the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” The Bench stated,
“Conviction of the appellants was not maintainable on a probability in absence of direct evidence. The benefit of doubt ought to have been given to the appellants.”
State of Kerala v. Leesamma Joseph, (2021) 9 SCC 208
Dealing with the issue relating to the right of promotion under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., held that a person with disability should be considered for promotion along with other persons working in the feeder cadre. The Court explained that the mandate of Section 32 of the 1995 Act enjoins the government to identify posts that can be filled up with persons with disability. Thus, even posts in promotional cadre have to be identified for PwD and such posts have to be reserved for PwD. The identification of such posts is no doubt a prerequisite for reservation in promotion for PwD.
Sk. Ahmed v. State of Telangana, (2021) 9 SCC 59
The bench of Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., laid down the essential ingredients required to be proved by prosecution to convict an accused under Section 364A IPC, i.e. kidnapping for ransom.
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.”
Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India [EWS Reservation], 2020 SCC OnLine SC 624
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 judgment 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.”
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.
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.”
Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla v. National Law School of India University, (2021) 1 SCC 539
“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.”
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.
Ashwani Kumar v. Union of India, (2020) 8 SCC 808
The bench of Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has directed that all old age people who are eligible for pension should be regularly paid pension and those identified older people should be provided necessary medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods by respective States.
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.”
Skill Lotto Solutions Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 990
The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has upheld the constitutionality of imposition of GST on lotteries, betting and gambling. The Bench further held that while determining the taxable value of lottery the prize money is not to be excluded for the purpose of levy of GST.
Krishna Lal Chawla v. State of U.P., (2021) 5 SCC 435
The Division Bench of Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., addressed the instant case dealing with vexatious complaint. The Bench, while expressing concern over such practises emphasised over the need of scrutinising such complaints at its initiation.
Khushi Ram v. Nawal Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 128
The bench of Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., has held that when heirs of father of a female are included as person who can possibly succeed, it cannot be held that they are strangers and not the members of the family qua the female. The Court also held that consent decree recognising pre-existing rights created by oral family settlement does not require registration under Section 17 of Registration Act, 1908.
Soorajmull Nagarmull v. Brijesh Mehrotra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1252
The Division Bench of R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., held that once the fresh notification is issued by the State for land acquisition, no cause of action survive on previous notification and actions taken therein, when that proceeding is declared lapsed. Quoting the case of R.N. Dey v. Bhagyabati Pramanik, (2000) 4 SCC 400, the Bench stated,
“Discretion given to the court in dealing with the proceedings under Contempt of Courts Act is to be exercised for maintenance of court’s dignity and majesty of law and further an aggrieved party has no right to insist that court should exercise such jurisdiction, inasmuch as contempt is between contemner and the court.”
Parveen v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1184
The bench of R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., held that the confessional statements of the co-accused, in absence of other acceptable corroborative evidence, are not enough to convict an accused for conspiracy.
State of Bihar v. Arbind Jee, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 821
The bench of R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., held that retrospective seniority cannot be claimed from a date when an employee is not even borne in service.
Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Private Ltd. v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 418
The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ issued directions with respect to motor vehicle accident claims and observed that the Central Government shall develop an online platform accessible to the tribunals, police authorities and insurers throughout India, as each State having an independent online platform for submission of accident reports, claims and responses to claims, will hamper efficient adjudication of claims, especially where the victim of the accident is not a resident of State where accident has occurred.
Ishwari Lal Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 10 SCC 437
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.”
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.”
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.
Justice R. Subhash Reddy dissenting on the question of sentence 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.
“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.”
† Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
 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.