Know Thy Judge | Justice M.M. Sundresh – An Ardent Supporter of Environment Preservation

 “A man is both a creator and destroyer. Therefore, he is his own future. A better future can only be secured through the younger generation, existing and awaiting.”

M. M. Sundresh

Bharaneeswaran v. Govt. of T.N., 

2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2301


Born on 21-07-1962 at Erode, Justice M.M.Sundresh, completed his school and pre university education at Erode. He completed B.A. Degree at Loyola College, Chennai and LLB at Madras Law College.

As an Advocate

Justice Sundresh was enrolled as an Advocate in 1985 in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Government of Tamil Nadu had appointed him as the Counsel for the State Government and he worked as Government Advocate from 1991 to 1996. He was also the Counsel for Tamil Nadu Small Scale Industries Development Corporation.

Justice Sundresh had extensive practice in Civil (Appellate), Criminal and Writ Jurisdiction at Madras High Court. He had joined in the Chamber of S. Sivasubramaniam. He also joined in the Chamber of his father V. K. Muthusamy, Senior Advocate. He was selected to the RO System Monitoring Committee to watch the erection of ROS (Reverse Osmosis System) in Thiruppur District, Karur District and Erode District.

As a Judge

Justice Sundresh was elevated to the Madras High Court on 31-03-2009 and became permanent judge on 29-03- 2011. He was elevated as a Judge of Supreme Court of India on 26-08-2021.

  • Did You Know? During his 12-year stint as judge of Madras high court, Justice Sundresh had disposed of 1,03,563 cases.[1]


Notable Judgements at Supreme Court


CCI v. State of Mizoram, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 63

While adjudicating the dispute with regard to jurisdiction of CCI to inquire into allegations of bid rigging, collusive bidding, and cartelisation in the tender process for appointment of selling agents and distributors for lotteries organised in the State of Mizoram the Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and M.M. Sundresh, JJ., concluded that,

“Lotteries may be a regulated commodity and may even be res extra commercium; that would not take away the aspect of something which is anti-competition in the context of the business related to lotteries.”

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State of Uttarakhand v. Sudhir Budakoti, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 420

The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has held that when there is a reasonable basis for a classification adopted by taking note of the exigencies and diverse situations, the Court is not expected to insist on absolute equality by taking a rigid and pedantic view as against a pragmatic one.

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Union of India v. Manpreet Singh Poonam, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 272

The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has observed that a right to promotion and subsequent benefits and seniority would arise only with respect to the rules governing the said promotion, and not a different set of rules which might apply to a promoted post facilitating further promotion which is governed by a different set of rules.

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State of Rajasthan v. Mahesh, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No.12376/2019

In the case where it was argued before the Court that the Industrial Disputes (Rajasthan Amendment) Act, 1958 which received the President’s assent on August 12, 1958 stands eclipsed after the enactment of the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh, JJ has dismissed the SLP after observing that the issue must first be raised before the Industrial Tribunal or the High Court.

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Union of India v. Manpreet Singh Poonam, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 272

The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has held that a voluntary retiree cannot seek retrospective promotion as a matter of right sans rules governing.

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Jogi Ram v. Suresh Kumar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 127

In a half a century old case relating to a Will, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that the objective of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is to create an absolute interest in case of a limited interest of the wife. The objective cannot be that a Hindu male who owned self-acquired property is unable to execute a Will giving a limited estate to a wife if all other aspects including maintenance are taken care of.

“If we were to hold so it would imply that if the wife is disinherited under the Will it would be sustainable but if a limited estate is given it would mature into an absolute interest irrespective of the intent of the testator.”

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Jasdeep Singh v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 20

Drawing an interesting analogy to explain the scope of Section 34 of IPC, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has said that it is a team effort akin to a game of football involving several positions manned by many, such as defender, mid-fielder, striker, and a keeper.

“A striker may hit the target, while a keeper may stop an attack. The consequence of the match, either a win or a loss, is borne by all the players, though they may have their distinct roles. A goal scored or saved may be the final act, but the result is what matters. As against the specific individuals who had impacted more, the result is shared between the players. The same logic is the foundation of Section 34 IPC which creates shared liability on those who shared the common intention to commit the crime.”

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Dhananjay Rai v. State of Bihar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 880

In furtherance of Criminal Justice, the bench of Abhay S. Oka* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that an appeal against conviction filed by an accused under Sub-Section (2) of Section 374 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 cannot be dismissed on the ground that the accused is absconding.

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Abu Salem Abdul Kayyum Ansari v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 852

In a big development, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has directed that the infamous gangster/terrorist Abu Salem be released after the completion of 25 years of his sentence in terms of the national commitment as well as the principle based on comity of courts. Salem was convicted on 12.10.2005.

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Taijuddin v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1154

In a case where an accused merely pointed to the house where the victim was hiding, thereby helping a fully armed “murderous mob” locate the victim, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that the mere fact that the accused was not brave enough to conceal where the victim was hiding did not make him a part of the unlawful assembly under Section 149 of the IPC.

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Bhupesh Rathod v. Dayashankar Prasad Chaurasiya, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1031

In a case relating to dishonour of cheques where it was alleged that the complaint was filed by the managing director in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the Company, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that there could be a format where the Company’s name is described first, suing through the Managing Director but there cannot be a fundamental defect merely because the name of the Managing Director is stated first followed by the post held in the Company. It was further held that it would be too technical a view to take to defeat the complaint merely because the body of the complaint does not elaborate upon the authorisation.

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U.N. Bora v. Assam Roller Flour Mills Assn., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 968

In the case dealing with willful disobedience of the order passed by the Supreme Court in the year 2008 with respect to the levy made while upholding Section 21 of the Assam Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1972, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has held that vicarious liability as a principle cannot be applied to a case of contempt and that the appellants cannot be implicated for alleged action of their subordinates.

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V. Prabhakara v. Basavaraj K., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 896

Holding that a testamentary court is not a court of suspicion but that of conscience, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has set aside the High Court’s order in a suit for execution of Will wherein the Court had “unnecessarily created a suspicion when there is none”, merely because it thought that was no logic in the exclusion of the sister of the beneficiary of the Will. Neither the beneficiary nor his siblings had raised any issues regarding the validity of the Will.

Asking the appellate Courts to consider the relevant materials instead of adopting an ethical reasoning, the Court explained,

“A mere exclusion of either brother or sister per se would not create a suspicion unless it is surrounded by other circumstances creating an inference. In a case where a testatrix is accompanied by the sister of the beneficiary of the Will and the said document is attested by the brother, there is no room for any suspicion when both of them have not raised any issue.”

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Suraz India Trust v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 833

Coming down heavily upon a contemnor, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that the power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power vested in this Court which cannot be abridged or taken away even by legislative enactment.

“Such litigants cannot be permitted to have their way only because they can plead and write anything they feel like and keep on approbating by sometimes apologising and then again bringing forth those allegations.”

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B. Sailesh Saxena v. Union of India, WP (Civil) No. 555 of 2020

A Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh, JJ. dismissed a writ petition filed by an advocate seeking to stall elevation of a judicial officer as a Judge of the Telangana High Court. The Supreme Court said that the petition was a gross abuse of the process of law and imposed costs of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner.

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Notable Judgements at High Court


M. Padmanabhan v. District Collector, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 698

The Division Bench of M.M. Sundresh and S. Ananthi, JJ., held that temple shall not be a place for perpetuating communal separation leading to discrimination, on the other hand, it should facilitate all those persons having common faith to come and worship.

 “The classification among men has got no place in the aboard of God.”

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Bharaneeswaran v. Government of Tamil Nadu, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2301

The Division Bench of M.M. Sundresh* and R. Hemalatha, JJ., disposed of the petitions with regard to concerns arising due to online classes, stating that it hopes the above-laid guidelines are complied with and makes it clear that all the directions are applicable to the Schools functioning in the Tamil Nadu.

“A great nation is built on a character of its own citizens. It transforms into the character of the nation leading to its progress achieved through a value system.”

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 Bader Sayeed v. Union Of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 74

While examining the validity of certificates issued by the Kazis in the country in general and in Tamil Nadu in particular in respect of Talaq, the Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, C.J., and M.M. Sundresh, J., held that for purposes of the courts and legal proceedings, the certificate in respect of Talaq issued by Chief Kazi is only an opinion and has no legal sanctity in view Section 4 of the Kazis Act, 1880 according to which the office of Kazi does not confer on the person any judicial or administrative power.

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 N. Selvathirumalv. Union of India,2016 SCC OnLine Mad 1624

Taking a landmark step, the Division Bench of the Court comprising of S.K. Kaul*, C.J. and M.M. Sundresh, J., directed the schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the private schools in the state of Tamil Nadu to make the singing of the National Anthem as an integral part of their curriculum.

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 V. Vasanthakumarv. H.C. Bhatia, 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 300

While dismissing a petition with regard to the setting up of National Court of Appeal as suggested by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Bihar Legal Support Society v. Chief Justice of India(1986) 4 SCC 767 , the Division Bench of S.K. Kaul, C.J. and M.M. Sundresh, J., stated that setting up of a National Court of Appeal is a matter of legislation and constitutional amendment, therefore, repeated agitations by the petitioner for reconsideration on the same by filing petitions is needless and thus not maintainable.

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 C. Udayachandrika v. Secy., T.N. Legislative Assembly, 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 194

In the instant case where the petitioner appearing in person praying to the Court to declare the notification issued by the Tamil Nadu Gazette, Extraordinary No.223 dated 8.11.2014 stating that former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Selvi J. The Court observed that  such frivolous petitions are to be penalized by imposing exemplary costs but, since the petitioner committed this misadventure for the first time therefore she was let off only with a caution so as to dissuade her to pursue any such frivolous petitions under the garb of a Public Interest Litigation.

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Solaimalai v. Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation Corp. Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 3883

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature, unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.”

– Hubert Reeves

A Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh* and N. Sathish Kumar had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into a series of elephant poaching incidents reported in the State. They also observed the network involved was cutting across boundaries.

“Wisdom requires that it should be left in the hands of man of knowledge in that field with the coordination of all the stake holders and this Court as well. Therefore, we are inclined to appoint a Committee consisting of Experts in various fields to address the larger issues such as banning the plastic in the forest zone, prohibiting the polluted vehicles to ply, employing the local population, increasing the strength of the staff, creating a strong seed bank, evolving measures to be adopted in removal and rehabilitation, priority of the area which requires immediate attention, areas requiring specific action, mapping of the entire area, possibility of using any other fund towards achievement of the task, utilising the removed plants and trees towards the object, creating a specific cell to be decided by the Government, disposal of the removed species and strengthening the indigenous species.”


†Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

* Judge who has penned the judgment.

[1] https://www.scobserver.in/judges/m-m-sundresh/

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