“The purpose of the law cannot be to allow the offender to sneak out of the meshes of law”.
Justice Bela M. Trivedi
Attorney General for India v. Satish, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1076
Early life and Legal Career
Justice Bela M. Trivedi was born on 10th June 1960 at Patan, in North Gujarat. Since her father had a transferable judicial service, she did her schooling at various places. However, Justice Trivedi finished her B. Com – LL.B from the MS University, Vadodara.
As an advocate, Justice Bela Trivedi’s practice in the Gujarat High Court centered around Civil and Constitutional matters for about ten years. Later, on 10th July 1995, she was appointed directly as the Judge, City Civil and Sessions Court at Ahmedabad.
♦Did You Know? It was a happy coincidence that her father was already working as the Judge, City Civil and Sessions Court when she was appointed. The Limca Book of Indian records has recorded the entry in their 1996 edition that ” Father – daughter judges in the same court “.
Serving as a member of the Judicial Services, Justice Bela M. Trivedi also worked in different capacities like Registrar – Vigilance in the Gujarat High Court; CBI Court Judge; Special Judge – Serial Bomb blast matters etc. Justice Trivedi was also deputed as the Law Secretary of the Gujarat State Government between 2004 to 2006.
On 17th February, 2011, Justice Trivedi was elevated as the Judge of Gujarat High Court. Later in June 2011 she was transferred to the Rajasthan High Court at the Jaipur Bench. In 2013, Justice Trivedi was confirmed as a Permanent Judge of the Rajasthan HC. Three years later i.e., in February 2016, she was repatriated to the Gujarat High Court.
Some of the important decisions rendered by Justice Bela M. Trivedi during her tenure in the High Courts have been listed below.
Rajasthan High Court
Manohar Lal v. State of Rajasthan, 2012 SCC OnLine Raj 1989
The Division Bench of Narendra Kumar Jain-I and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., deliberated upon the grievance of the petitioners who were detained on the ground that they were dangerous persons and their activities were prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The Bench observed that there was no explanation as to what the activities were and what were the reasons for passing the detention order after a delay of more than one year. Since their representations were rejected by a non-speaking order which is a violation of Art. 22(5) of the Constitution and in absence of any germane material for passing the order of detention, the entire order of detention was held as vitiated.
Radhey Shyam v. Radha Mohan Paliwal, 2012 SCC OnLine Raj 2208
While deciding the matter related to C.P.C., Order 22 Rule 5, Sec. 2(11) of CPC regarding determination of Legal Representatives of the deceased, Justice Bela M. Trivedi held that the legatee under the Will, who intends to represent the estate of the deceased testator being on intermeddler with the estate of the deceased, will be a Legal Representative.
Anuj Sharma v. Ram Gopal, 2014 SCC OnLine Raj 140
While deciding the issue concerning appointment of maternal grandfather as guardian of a minor while his natural father is alive, Justice Bela M. Trivedi held that as long as the father of the minor is alive and is not found unfit to be the guardian of the person of the minor, the Court cannot appoint any other person as guardian of the person of such minor.
Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Rajasthan, 2015 SCC OnLine Raj 12151
Whether the Collector (Stamps) can review and set aside his own order under the guise of exercising the powers of rectification u/Sec. 52 of the Rajasthan Stamp Act, 1998; Justice Bela M. Trivedi held that, Collector (Stamps) cannot review his own order and such order shall be treated as passed without any authority of law, and therefore illegal. Chief Controlling Revenue Authority has the power to call for the record of any case decided in the proceeding held by the Collector and pass appropriate orders.
G.S. & Company v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Raj 1357
While dealing with the issue of scope and ambit of judicial review in contractual matters, the Bench of Bela M. Trivedi, J., held that such a scope is very limited and terms of invitation to tender are not open to judicial scrutiny. It was further held that unless the action of tendering authority is found to be malicious and misuse of its statutory powers, the interference of the Court is unwarranted- “Exclusion and inclusion of terms and conditions in the tender is a part of evolutionary process”.
Gujarat High Court
Surat Parsi Panchayat Board v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 1431
The Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., dismissed a petition which was filed with the sole purpose of securing an appropriate order, direction and/or writ directing the authority to permit the petitioners and its members to perform Dokhmenashini/last rites in Dokhmas of its member having died due to Covid 19, in accordance with their religious practices which is duly protected by the Constitution of India. The Court while dismissing the petition went on to hold that impugned Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare considering the prevailing situation of Covid-19, in the larger public interest for the disposal of dead bodies by cremation or burial, could not be said to be violative of any fundamental rights.
“The safety and the welfare of the State is the supreme law as comprehended in the legal maxim – “salus populi suprema lex”. Even the fundamental rights to profess, practice or propagate religion, and the right to manage religious affairs, as enshrined under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, are subject to public order, morality and health.”
Anil Surendrasingh Yadav v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 2692
A Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and A.C. Rao, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed on being aggrieved by the Judgment and order by the Additional Sessions Judge and Special Judge (POCSO), whereby it had convicted the appellant-accused for the offence under Sections 302, 363, 366, 376AB, 377 and 201 of the Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 3(a), 4, 5(a), 5(r) and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and had sentenced him to death penalty for the offence under Sections 302, 376AB of the Penal Code and had convicted him of the offences under the Atrocities Act. The Court while dismissing the appeal and confirming the decision of the Special Court stated that the abhorrent and atrocious nature of crime committed by the appellant-accused in a diabolical manner, on the defenseless unprotected girl of 3½ years, without any remorse, has left the Court with no option but to consider the case as the “rarest of rare case” for awarding the punishment of death penalty.
Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 850
In the instant matter the Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., directed the State of Gujarat to remain alert despite the falling number of Covid-19 cases and take all necessary actions immediately with regard to the improvement of the health infrastructure in the rural areas as also for creating awareness amongst public at large of the Mucormycosis disease [one of the post- covid side effect] and for making the policy of distribution of Liposomal Amphotericin B injections more transparent, specific and effective.
Jignesh Natvarlal Mevani v. Suo Motu, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 832
The Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., in the instant matter, perused the petition seeking to direct the State of Gujarat to publish and come out with data at the end of every day with regard to the total tests done for COVID-19; the number of Covid-19 fatalities and other connected information. The Court however, did not pass any directions in this regard citing the advisories issued by the ICMR.
Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 834
The Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., noting the swift spread of covid19 in rural areas and no clear strategy regarding the distribution of vaccines and medicines, directed the Central Government to place on record for the information of the general public at large, about the vaccination policy adopted by the Central Government. The Bench also directed the Gujarat Government to provide details on oath regarding availability of dedicated covid hospitals, RT-PCR tests etc.
In August 2021, the Supreme Court Collegium while deliberating upon appointment of new Judges to the Supreme Court, recommended the name of Justice Bela M. Trivedi along with 8 other names. Subsequently, the recommendations were accepted and Justice Trivedi was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India on 31st August, 2021.
♦Did you Know? Upon her elevation, Justice Bela M. Trivedi became the First Woman Judge from Gujarat High Court to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
Some of the prominent decisions, that have been rendered by Justice Bela M. Trivedi so far, are as follows-
Jaina Construction Co. v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., (2022) 4 SCC 527
The bench of Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that an Insurance Company cannot repudiate a claim merely on the ground that there was a delay in intimating it about the occurrence of the theft of vehicle. The Court was deciding a case relating to theft of a Truck that was insured with Oriental Insurance Company Limited.
Attorney General for India v. Satish, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1076
In an important ruling on POCSO Act, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Bela M. Trivedi and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., set aside the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) judgment that had acquitted the accused under Section 8 of the POCSO Act, 2012 on the ground that no direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration would not amount to ‘sexual assault’. Justice Bela M. Trivedi also observed that-
“The most important ingredient for constituting the offence of sexual assault under Section 7 of the Act is the “sexual intent” and not the “skin to skin” contact with the child.”
Muzaffar Husain v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 567
In a case where a Judge was accused of misconduct, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that showing undue favour to a party under the guise of passing judicial orders is the worst kind of judicial dishonesty and misconduct. The extraneous consideration for showing favour need not always be a monetary consideration.
“It is often said that “the public servants are like fish in the water, none can say when and how a fish drank the water”. A judge must decide the case on the basis of the facts on record and the law applicable to the case. If he decides a case for extraneous reasons, then he is not performing his duties in accordance with law. As often quoted, a judge, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion.”
P. Ranjitharaj v. State of T.N., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 508
The Division Bench comprising Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., reversed the impugned judgment of the Madras High Court and held that when the delay in appointment is attributable to the State, it would not deprive the employees of their right to become the member of the Pension Scheme, 1978 merely on the ground that the Scheme was not applicable to their year of appointment, particularly when other candidates who participated in the common process of selection were availing the same.
Munni Devi v. Rajendra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 643
The bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that by virtue of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the Hindu widow’s limited interest gets automatically enlarged into an absolute right, when such property is possessed by her whether acquired before or after the commencement of 1956 Act in lieu of her right to maintenance.
R. Muthukumar v. TANGEDCO, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 151
In a case where some candidates who had applied for the post of Helper/trainee with Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd (TANGEDCO) on the basis of a compromise order directing appointment of 84 persons, arguing that they were similarly situated, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that if there has been a benefit or advantage conferred on one or a set of people, without legal basis or justification, that benefit cannot multiply, or be relied upon as a principle of parity or equality.
Sunil Kumar Maity v. SBI, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 77
In an interesting case where one SBI account holder was left with a balance of Rs. 59/- only in his account due to the existence of another bank account with strikingly similar name in the same branch, the bench of Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., set aside the “highly erroneous” impugned order passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission solely relying upon the suo-moto report called for from SBI during the pendency of the revision application.
Chandrapal v. State of M.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 705
The Division Bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., reiterated the settles position of law vis-a-vis extra-judicial confessions and observed that an extra judicial confession attains greater credibility and evidentiary value if it is supported by chain of cogent circumstances and is further corroborated by other prosecution evidence.
†Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has put this report together
Justice Bela M. Trivedi’s Image Courtesy: Times Now