Top Story – Right to Safe Abortion
While the interim order was passed in the case on 21.07.2022, the Supreme Court took over two months to write a far-reaching 75-pages-long verdict, touching upon various aspects like purposive interpretation of Medical Termination of Pregnancy laws, equal status of married and unmarried or single women, right to reproductive autonomy, right to dignity, effect of unwanted pregnancy on mental health of women, etc.
“The nature of sexual violence and the contours of consent do not undergo a transformation when one decides to marry. The institution of marriage does not influence the answer to the question of whether a woman has consented to sexual relations. If the woman is in an abusive relationship, she may face great difficulty in accessing medical resources or consulting doctors.”
Explaining the doctrine of precedents, the 5-judge Constitution Bench of Indira Banerjee*, Hemant Gupta*, Surya Kant, MM Sundresh and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ has held that the numerical strength of the Judges taking a particular view is not relevant, but the Bench strength is determinative of the binding nature of the Judgment.
Freedom of Speech
Various FIRs/criminal complaints have been filed against Kumar, along with politician and lawyer Nupur Sharma, in different police stations in different States in relation to the Newshour Debate telecasted on Times Now on 26.05.2022, where some objectionable remarks were made against the Prophet, thereby allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
While dealing with a case relating to termination of a CRPF probationer for suppressing material information relating to his criminal antecedents, the bench of Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala*, JJ realised that the principles of law laid down in various rulings governing the subject were inconsistent.
“When the legislature acts within its power to usher in a valid law and rectify a legal error, even after a court ruling, the legislature exercises its constitutional power to enact the law and does not overrule an earlier court decision.”
“If such an appointment is permitted, in that case, outsiders shall never get an appointment and only the heirs of the employees on their superannuation and/or retirement shall get an appointment and those who are the outsiders shall never get an opportunity to get an appointment though they may be more meritorious and/or well educated and/or more qualified.”
“The disclosure of the marks in the main examination before it is finalised and the viva-voce is conducted, would be against the principles of transparency, rather it will invite criticism of bias or favouritism.”
In three appeals against an order directing separate zone of consideration for promotion of Scheduled Caste (SC)/Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates to the post of Superintendent in Customs and Central Excise Commissionerate (CEC) from the post of Inspector, the division bench of Hemant Gupta* and Vikram Nath, JJ. has observed that the Tribunal and the High Court answered a question that did not arise. Therefore, the Court finds their orders clearly erroneous and not sustainable in law as the orders passed for regular promotion by extending the zone of consideration did not arise.
When Section 7 or any other provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 do not stipulate any particular form or requirements, it would not be appropriate for a court to gratuitously add impediments and desist from upholding the validity of an arbitration agreement.
The 3-judge bench of Dr DY Chandrachud*, Surya Kant and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ has held that arbitrators do not have the power to unilaterally issue binding and enforceable orders determining their own fees. While Chandrachud, J wrote the majority opinion for Surya Kant, J and himself, Khanna, J wrote a separate opinion where he agreed with the majority opinion of certain parts but disagreed on some.
Constitutionality of Laws
In a case where challenge was made to declare Section 50(a) of the Delhi Land Reforms Act, 1954 unconstitutional being ultra vires Articles 14, 15, 254 and 21 of the Constitution of India, the bench of Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath*, JJ has held that all the legislations included in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution before the Judgment in the case of Kesavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala, 1973 (4) SCC 225 that is 24.04.1973, would stand protected under Article 31B of the Constitution and, therefore, the challenge to the validity of provisions of the 1954 Act must fail.
The Court observed that the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Bill, 2014 provides that the Bill is an earnest effort to provide a legal procedure by which the Gurdwaras can be brought effectively and permanently under the exclusive control of the Sikhs of Haryana for their proper use, administration, control and financial management reforms to make it consistent with the religious views of the said community.
Crime and Punishment
“We do not know how, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the conviction of only 2 out of the 22 accused can be sustained and that too only for the offence under Section 302 when the allegation of unlawful assembly, common object, trespass, rioting etc. are held not proved against all of them”.
“neither the trial Court nor the High Court has considered that the lady was illiterate and a senior citizen, was indeed residing but completely unknown to law, with two grown up children, with no previous background of being involved in any kind of criminal cases at any point of time in her lifetime”.
Dishonour of Cheques
“Quashing of a complaint is a serious matter. Complaint cannot be quashed for the asking. For quashing of a complaint, it must be shown that no offence is made out at all against the Director or Partner.”
Drafting, Pleading, Practice and Procedure
On the question as to whether Order II Rule 2 CPC can be made applicable to an application for amendment of plaint, the bench of Aniruddha Bose and JB Pardiwala*, JJ has held that Order II Rule 2 of the CPC operates as a bar against a subsequent suit if the requisite conditions for application thereof are satisfied and the field of amendment of pleadings falls far beyond its purview, and cannot apply to an amendment which is sought on an existing suit.
“It may be true that in a given case, an unregistered document can be used and/or considered for collateral purpose. However, at the same time, the plaintiff cannot get the relief indirectly which otherwise he/she cannot get in a suit for substantive relief, namely, in the present case the relief for specific performance.”
In a special leave petition against the impugned judgment passed by the Bombay High Court, whereby, the Court dismissed the writ petition filed by the petitioner to sought directions against Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to forthwith furnish the documents relied upon by them to issue Show Cause Notice to the petitioner, the division bench of Indira Banerjee* and A.S. Bopanna, JJ. has observed that there was no procedural irregularity, at least till the stage of notice fixing a date of hearing and the High Court rightly did not interfere with the proceedings at the stage of the Show Cause Notice, thus, there is no infirmity in the impugned judgment of the High Court of dismissing the writ petition.
“The scenario is that any order or judgment passed by this Court becomes a reportable exercise to create more volumes of reported cases! This thus has a possibility at times of causing some confusion on the legal principles prevalent.”
The ruling came in a case where the Court was called upon to decide whether the moratorium, as imposed by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), could have been imposed by resolution/communications dated 17.07.2019 and 09.09.2019, which is in the nature of an executive instruction of the Central Council.
In a Special leave petition under Article 136 of the Constitution against a judgment passed by the High Court of Karnataka, wherein the court set aside the election of the appellant to the Mysore Municipal Corporation as Councillor, the full bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, CJ., Indira Banerjee* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ. has affirmed the setting aside of the election of the appellant and observed that the non-disclosure of assets would amount to ‘corrupt practices’, entailing disqualification, as evident from Sections 35 and 39(ii) of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (KMC) Act, read with Section 123(2) of the Representation of People (RP) Act 1951.
The bench of Hemant Gupta* and Vikram Nath, JJ. has observed that there was no error in the order passed by the Tribunal that opportunity should be provided to re-rolling or cold rolling units to fall within Environmental Clearance (EC) regime by granting a period of at least one year to operate for the purpose. However, the order of closure of the unit cannot be sustained.
“This Court cannot lose sight of the fact that the operation of a Bio-Medical Waste Treatment Facility is in the interest of prevention of environmental pollution. The closure of the facility only on the ground of want of prior Environmental Clearance would be against public interest.”
The applicant submitted that the eco-sensitive zone (ESZs) around Sanjay Gandhi National Park has already been notified vide final notification dated 05.12.2016 and the eco-sensitive zone around Thane Flamingo Creek Sanctuary has already been notified vide final notification dated 14.10.2021. Thus, the judgment dated 03.06.2022 which directs that each protected forest, that is a national park or wildlife sanctuary must have an eco-sensitive zone of minimum one kilometre wide, would not be applicable to them.
The petitioner submitted that her 18-years-old daughter received first dose of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine on 29-05-2021 and lost her life on 19-06-2021. Similarly, 20-years-old daughter of petitioner 2 received the first dose of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine on 18-06-2021 and she lost her life on 10-07-2021. Both the petitioners alleged that after vaccination, the deceased girls suffered from severe Adverse Effects Following Immunization (AEFI).
Insolvency and Bankruptcy
Holding that NCLAT clearly erred in its observation that Section 53 of the IBC over-rides Section 48 of the GVAT Act, the Court observed that, Section 48 of the GVAT Act is not contrary to or inconsistent with Section 53 or any other provisions of the IBC.
“A claim may not be barred by limitation. It is the remedy for realisation of the claim, which gets barred by limitation.”
“Such unscrambling of the resolution process will not only prove time-consuming, but may also adversely affect the agreed realized gains to the retail debenture holders, who have already consented to the negotiated settlement before the High Court.”
Land and Property
“The Improvement Trust behaved as if it had some superior right to appropriate the property of the owners without paying for it contrary to the mandate of the LA Act.”
The Kerala journalist was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on his way to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh to report on the alleged gang-rape of a Dalit woman, who later died in the Hospital.