Supreme Court November 2022| CJI Chandrachud’s to-do list; EWS Quota; Kathua and Chhawla gangrape-murder cases; Rajiv Gandhi assassination case; Never Reported Judgments; and more

This roundup revisits the analyses of Supreme Court’s judgments/orders on constitutionality of EWS Quota and dissent; Juvenility of Kathua gangrape-murder accused; acquittal of all Chhawla gangrape-murder accused; why Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts were set free, and more. It also covers reports on Justice Chandrachud’s appointment as the 50th CJI and his to-do-list; CJI UU Lalit’s retirement; explainers on important law points; some Never Reported Judgments; and career trajectory and important decision of Justice BR Gavai.

“I am not here to do miracles. The challenges are high. Perhaps expectations are also great. But this is what I tell myself every day that if this were to be the last day of my life, have I left the World a better place?”

CJI Dr DY Chandrachud

Unmissable Stories

Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud Takes the Reins as the 50th Chief Justice of India

Justice Dr. Chandrachud’s time in the Supreme Court has been full of one landmark case after the other. His progressive stance regarding issues of privacy, women’s rights, freedom of speech and other constitutional aspects, have played a major role in generating a discourse around these issues on a larger scale.

Read some of his significant opinions and decisions out of the almost 500 judgments authored by him so far.

Not here to do miracles but to work on bringing institutional changes: Justice DY Chandrachud shares his to-do list as the 50th CJI

Changing the face of the District Judiciary, institutionalising processes like listing of matters and E-filing in the Supreme Court, elevation of members of the Bar to High Courts and filling up of judicial vacancies, would be some of the key focus areas of Dr Justice DY Chandrachud as the 50th Chief Justice of India.  [Read more]

A Man of Vision and Action- CJI Uday Umesh Lalit Retires

After serving 8 years as a Supreme Court Judge and as the Court’s 49th Master of Roster after an action packed 74-day tenure, CJI UU Lalit retired after accomplishing his objective of attempting to fine tune the judicial machinery, thereby injecting a much- needed optimism within the legal community. His vision, the focus towards that vision and the steps taken to realise it, makes his 74 -day tenure not only memorable but also historical. Through his words, which were translated into action, Justice Lalit rejuvenated the judiciary, thereby paving the way for his successor to embark upon further reforms. [Read more]

Most Talked about cases

Constitution Bench upholds constitutionality of 10% Quota for EWS in 3:2 verdict

In a big decision, the 5-judge Constitution bench of UU Lalit, CJ and Dinesh Maheshwari, S. Ravindra Bhat, Bela M Trivedi, JB Pardiwala, JJ has upheld the constitutional validity the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, which provides for 10 percent reservation in appointments to posts under the State and in admissions to educational institutions to economically weaker sections (‘EWS’) of citizens. While Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela M Trivedi and JB Pardiwala, JJ wrote separate but concurrent opinions forming majority, S. Ravindra Bhat, J wrote the minority opinion for himself and U.U. Lalit, CJ.

Key takeaways from Majority Ruling including suggestion for prescribing time limit for reservation

‘Identifier for 10% Quota for EWS is economic deprivation; Social or educational backwardness irrelevant’: Key takeaways from Dissenting opinion 

‘First committed a ghastly crime then took shelter under the guise of being a minor’; ‘Juvenile’ in Kathua rape-murder case to be tried as an adult: SC

“A casual or cavalier approach while recording as to whether an accused is a juvenile or not cannot be permitted as the courts are enjoined upon to perform their duties with the object of protecting the confidence of a common man in the institution entrusted with the administration of justice.” 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1592]

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Is the reformation goal under JJ Act 2015 making juveniles more emboldened in committing heinous crimes? SC asks Centre to take steps before it’s too late

In the Kathua Rape and murder case where one of the accused was found to be taking the statutory shelter under the guise of being a minor, the bench of Ajay Rastogi and JB Pardiwala*, JJ observed that it was gathering an impression that the leniency with which the juveniles are dealt with in the name of goal of reformation is making them more and more emboldened in indulging in such heinous crimes. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1592]

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All convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination set free

The Court observed that the conduct of all the appellants was satisfactory, as some of them during the period of incarceration, have obtained degrees, did charity work and some were also suffering from various ailments. Further, the Court said that S. Nalini, is a woman and has been incarcerated for a period of more than three decades and her conduct has also been found to be satisfactory.

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“Left with no alternative”, Supreme Court acquits all 3 accused in Chhawla Gang Rape and Murder case

“The prosecution has to bring home the charges levelled against them beyond reasonable doubt, which the prosecution has failed to do in the instant case, resultantly, the Court is left with no alternative but to acquit the accused, though involved in a very heinous crime.”

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Forced religious conversions ultimately affect national security and violate citizens’ right to freedom of religion: Supreme Court seeks government’s reply

If it is found to be correct and true, is a very serious issue which may ultimately affect the security of the nation and violate citizens’ right to freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.” [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1596]

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Existence of arbitration agreement does not bar reference to Facilitation Council; MSMED Act has an overriding effect over the provisions of the Arbitration Act, 1996

The division bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, C.J. and Bela M. Trivedi*, J. has held that the provisions of Chapter-V of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006 (‘ MSMED Act’) have an overriding effect over the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 [Arbitration Act, 1996] and no party to a dispute covered under Section 17 of the MSMED Act, 2006 would be precluded from making a reference to the Facilitation Council under Section 18(1) thereof, merely because there is an arbitration agreement existing between the parties. Further, the Facilitation Council, which initiated the Conciliation proceedings under Section 18(2) of the MSMED Act, 2006 would be entitled to act as an arbitrator despite the bar contained in Section 80 of the Arbitration Act. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1492]

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Consumer Disputes

Supreme Court sets aside NCDRC’s judgment reducing almost Rs. 14 Lakhs of compensation granted by State Commission to Rs. 10,000

The Court noted that the State Commission had awarded compensation of Rs. 13,79,901/- towards loss suffered by the appellant plus Rs. 50,000/- towards compensation for mental agony and harassment plus Rs. 10,000/- towards cost of litigation. The NCDRC, on the other hand, reduced the compensation to Rs. 10,000/- along with an interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of filing the complaint till the date of payment. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1551]

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‘Exclusion clause’ destroying the contract entered with knowledge, cannot be permitted to be used by a party who introduced it, to avoid liability

The Court cautioned the Insurance companies that, non-compliance of Clause (3) and (4) of the IRDA Regulation, 2002, would take away their right to plead repudiation of the contract by placing reliance upon any of the terms and conditions included thereunder. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1546]

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Criminal Justice

Supreme Court commutes death sentence of a rape and murder convict, due to ill-effects of 10 years of solitary confinement

In appeal against the judgment passed by the Karnataka High Court three-judge bench of Uday Umesh Lalit*, C.J., S. Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha, JJ. has held that the time taken by the authorities, in the case at hand, for the disposal of mercy petition of a death row convict cannot be termed as “inordinate delay”, however, the incarceration in solitary confinement did show ill effects on the well-being of the appellant, thus, held that the appellant is entitled to have the death sentence to be commuted to imprisonment for life. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1528]

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Election cannot be declared void for non-disclosure of conviction for substantive offences under Kerala Police Act

Once the object behind the provisions of the Kerala Police Act are understood, it would be clear that neither Section 52(1A) read with Rule 6 and Form 2A nor Section 102(1) (ca) of the Act nor the decisions in Union of India v. Assn. for Democratic Reforms(2002) 5 SCC 294 , People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. Union of India(2003) 4 SCC 399 or Krishnamoorthy v. Sivakumar(2015) 3 SCC 467 can be stretched to such an extent that the failure of the appellant to disclose his conviction for an offence under the Kerala Police Act for holding a dharna in front of the Panchayat office, is taken as a ground for declaring an election void. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1550]

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All State Regulatory Commissions must frame Regulations for determination of Electricity tariff within 3 months: Supreme Court 

The Electricity Act, 2003 does not prescribe one dominant method to determine tariff as it seeks to distance the State Governments from the determination and regulation of tariff, placing such power completely within the ambit of the Appropriate Commissions. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1615]

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Health and Healthcare

‘Bihar Govt, Pharmacy Council cannot be permitted to play with citizens’ life’; Patna HC to hear the Fake Pharmacists matter afresh: SC 

Supreme Court observed that the Patna High Court ought to have called upon the Bihar State Pharmacy Council to file the status report on the allegations of fake pharmacist and/or on how many Governments’ hospitals/hospitals in the State are running without registered pharmacist. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1636]

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Also read: Supreme Court directs Bihar to curb functioning of fake pharmacies ‘playing with the life of the citizens’


Supreme Court provides intrinsic tools for interpreting a contract; says intention of parties to be gathered from words and expressions used in the contract

In an appeal filed by the Food Corporation of India (‘FCI’) against the judgment of Tripura high Court wherein it held that demurrages cannot be recovered as a charge by the corporation, the division bench of Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha and AS Bonappa JJ. after examining the contract, held that the parties did not intend to include liability on account of demurrages as part and parcel of the expression “charges” in the contract between them. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1605]

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Maintenance of wife and children

Income Tax returns not accurate to determine real income; Family Court must determine husband’s real income

While deciding a case filed under Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), in which the appeal was arising from a Single Judge of High Court of Allahabad (High Court), the Division Bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli, JJ. thought it appropriate to restore the Criminal Revision to the file of the High Court for fresh consideration, thereby setting aside the impugned order of the High Court. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1539]

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Money laundering

Handing over cash to a public servant would be considered “proceeds of crime” under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

In a case wherein the appeal challenged the final judgment and order passed by the High Court of Madras (High Court) in writ petition, filed by the respondent seeking quashing of proceedings initiated against him under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PML Act), the Division Bench of UU Lalit, CJ. and Bela M. Trivedi, J. held that the respondent was involved in the activity connected with proceeds of crime and hence, liable under the provisions of the PML Act. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1490]

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Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation

Supreme Court reassessed percentage of disability at 30% in a motor vehicle accident; Enhanced compensation

In an appeal filed against the judgment of Karnataka High Court reducing the total compensation from Rs. 21,08,400/- to Rs. 7,37,604/-, for a motor vehicle accident, the division bench of B.R Gavai and B.V Nagarathna*, JJ. reassessed the compensation and modified the judgment passed by the High Court by enhancing the award of compensation from Rs. 7,37,604/- to Rs. 11,67,405/- which shall carry interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of filing of claim petition till realisation. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1604]

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Non-reporting of POCSO offence despite knowledge a serious offence; Bombay High Court’s quashment of FIR against accused Medical Practitioner unfortunate

“Non-reporting of sexual assault against a minor child despite knowledge is a serious crime and more often than not, it is an attempt to shield the offenders of the crime of sexual assault.” [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1503]

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Practice and Procedure

Civil Court can try debt recovery suit against bank or financial institution; Scope & effect of parallel proceeding before DRT explained

The 3-judge bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul*, Abhay S. Oka and Vikram Nath, JJ, has settled the issue relating to the legal right of the borrower to initiate proceedings before a Civil Court against the bank or financial institution. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1557]

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Judicial order cannot be passed on application requesting hearing of review by a particular judge; It’s Chief Justice’s administrative call

In the case at hand, one of the parties in a case before the Bombay High Court had sought for the review to be heard by Justice GS Patel who had heard and decided the second appeal in the matter relating to declaration and permanent injunction. Justice Prithviraj K. Chavan, however, rejected this application, which led to the case travelling to the Supreme Court. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1556]

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Benefit of Exceptions of Defamation cannot only be afforded at the stage of trial

In an appeal against the judgment passed by the Delhi High Court regarding a defamation case, the division bench of Uday Umesh Lalit*, CJ. and Bela M. Trivedi, J. held that if the facts so justify, the benefit of an exception to Section 499 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) has been extended, and it is not taken to be a rigid principle that the benefit of exception can only be afforded at the stage of trial. Further, it was reiterated that even though the presumption under Section 7 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 (‘the Act’) is available regarding the Editor, even a Chief Editor can be proceeded against if the facts so justify. [ 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1491]

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Delay in adopting the Draft Criminal Practice Rules cannot prejudice already recognized rights of an accused, holds SC in a 2: 1 verdict; Justice Bela M. Trivedi dissents

In a case wherein concern was raised regarding common deficiencies and practices adopted by trial courts during criminal trial and disposal of cases, in the absence of uniform guidelines, the three-judge bench of UU Lalit, CJ., S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ. in a 2: 1 majority decision, dismissed the appeal holding that even though some High Courts and governments of States/Union Territories had delayed in adopting the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2020 (Draft Rules), it cannot prejudice the right of an accused which had already been recognized by this Court in its final order dated 20-04-2021. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1543]

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PILs against Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren ‘bald allegations’ & ‘abuse of process of court’; High Court should have dismissed the PILs at the very threshold

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, CJ and S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia*, JJ has set aside the order of Jharkhand High Court, wherein the two PILs filed against Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, were held to be maintainable and hence, it had decided to proceed in the case. The Supreme Court, however, was of the opinion that PILs were not filed with clean hands and hence, were not maintainable and were liable to be dismissed at the very threshold itself. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1541]

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Suit for damages concerning balance land cannot be barred by Section 34 of SARFAESI Act

In an appeal against the judgment passed by the Kerala High Court, wherein it has set aside the judgment passed by the Trial Court directing the Bank to pay the plaintiff a sum of Rs.58,10,000 with interest at the rate of 12% per annum from the date of suit till realisation, the division bench of M.R Shah* and Krishna Murari, JJ while setting aside impugned judgment passed by the High Court directed the Bank to pay the decretal amount to the appellant with interest as per the judgment and decree passed by the Trial Court within a period of 8 weeks from the date of this judgment. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1601]

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Service matters

Supreme Court upholds validity of amended Employees’ Pension Scheme but reads down certain provisions; Explains applicability of pre & post amendment Scheme

The requirement of the members to contribute at the rate of 1.16 per cent of their salary to the extent such salary exceeds Rs.15000/- per month as an additional contribution under the amended scheme has, however, been held to be ultra vires the provisions of the 1952 Act. The Court has given 6 months’ breather to the authorities make adjustments in the scheme. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1521]

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Denying similar benefits to similarly situated Government employees working under same employer amounts to discrimination

The Court said that it cannot be disputed that employees working in different divisions/zones in the Railways are under the very same employer – Railway Board which is under the Ministry of Railways. Therefore, the employees working under the same employer in different zones/divisions are required to be treated similarly and equally and are entitled to similar benefits and are entitled to the same treatment. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1493]

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UP Housing and Development Board’s function does not include fixing its employees’ service conditions; SC modifies 2014’s Preetam Singh verdict

On 10.02.2020, a division bench had come to the conclusion that the view taken by this Court in Preetam Singh’s case needs reconsideration after it prima facie found that the functions of the Board contemplated under Section 15 of the Uttar Pradesh Avas Evam Vikas Parishad Adhiniyam, 1965 were wide enough even to cover the act of fixing service conditions of its employees. Hence, the matter was referred to a larger bench. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1628]

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Vice Chancellor’s appointment contrary to Section 10 of State University Act, 2019 and Regulation 7.3.0 of the UGC Regulations illegal

In the case at hand, the appellant was appointed as Professor and worked for the period between 23.5.2009 to 7.10.2017, till he was appointed as member of the Uttarakhand Public Service Commission. Thereafter, he was appointed by the State Government as Vice chancellor (‘VC’) of the University, which was challenged before the High Court on the ground that at the time when he was appointed as VC, he was not having the requisite experience of minimum 10 years as Professor, which was required as per the UGC Regulations, 2018. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1555]

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Appointment based on the recommendation of a search committee, constituted contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations, is illegal and void ab initio

In an appeal filed against the judgment passed by the Kerala High Court, wherein the division bench of the High Court has confirmed the judgment passed by the Single Judge refusing to issue writ of quo warranto to declare the appointment of the respondent as Vice Chancellor (‘VC’) of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University as void ab initio, the division bench of *M.R Shah and C.T. Ravikumar held that the UGC Regulations were applicable with respect to the appointment of VC in the State Universities and the appointment shall be always as per the relevant provisions of the UGC Regulations amended from time to time. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1473]

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Property Tax under MMC Act: Future prospects of land/building not to be considered for determining capital value; Only present physical attributes relevant

In a case challenging the validity of computation and levy of property tax based on capital value system under the amended Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 (MMC Act), the bench of UU Lalit, CJ* and Ajay Rastogi, J has held that for the purpose of determining capital value, only the present physical attributes and status of the land and building can be considered and not the future prospects of the land. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1542]

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Section 45(4) of Income Tax Act applies not only in case of dissolution but also when subsisting partners transfer assets to retiring partners

The bench of MR Shah and M.M Sundresh, JJ explained the importance of the words “or otherwise” inserted to Section 45(4) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 by the Finance Act, 1987. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1618]

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Supreme Court interprets Section 194 H of Income tax Act; Overrules Bombay High Court’s 2009 Qatar Airways judgment

The Court interpreted the term “commission” under Section 194-H IT Act and said that Explanation (i) of Section 194-H highlights the nature of the legal relationship that exists between two entities for payments between them to qualify as a “commission”, stating that “commission or brokerage” includes any payment received or receivable, directly or indirectly, by a person acting on behalf of another person for services rendered (not being professional services) or for any services while buying or selling of goods or in relation to any transaction relating to any asset, valuable article or thing, not being securities. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1588]

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Industrial area excluded from municipal limits doesn’t cease to be ‘local area’, State entitled to levy and collect entry tax

The issue in this appeal was, whether the exclusion of industrial areas from the limits of municipal councils or municipalities under the state laws in exercise of statutory power or by virtue of a declaration under proviso to Article 243-Q, would result in that area ceasing to be a ‘local area’ within Entry 52 of List II, and consequently precluding State from levying and collecting entry tax from those areas. [2022 SCC OnLine SC 1518] 

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Never Reported Judgments

In this series, we cover the analysis of the Never reported judgments of the Supreme Court from 1950 onwards.

Property exclusively in the possession of a person whether to be considered joint family property? [Kishta Reddi v. Ananthamma,  1950 SCC 653]

Failure of Director to contradict allegation of contract of purchase from the Company can only fasten liability for the alleged amount but cannot lead to forfeiture of his office of Director

[Dhanrajgir Raja Narsingirji v. Dhanraj Mills Limited, 1950 SCC 69]

Know Thy Judge

Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai

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