“Genetic information is broadly understood as shedding light on a person’s essence, as going to the very heart of who he/she is. That kind of intimate, personal information, which is so highly valued in our society, is precisely what the law protects in the right of privacy, which extends even to children.”
Justice BV Nagarathna
Aparna Ajinkya Firodia v. Ajinkya Firodia, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 161
Constitution Bench Verdicts
“Quality of lawyers is an important aspect and part of administration of justice and access to justice. Half-baked lawyers serve no purpose. It is this quality control, which has been the endeavour of all the efforts made over a period of time.”
The 5-judge Constitution Bench observed that the decision which will be rendered by the nine-Judge Bench in the Sabarimala Temple Review will have a direct impact on the questions which arise for determination in this case.
Applicant submitted that the 2018 judgment may cause instability within the defence personnel’s services since they function in peculiar conditions who are separated from their families for long durations when posted on borders under challenging conditions, in view of the 2018 judgment, there will always be a concern in their minds about the family indulging in untoward activity.
Did you know? In the month of February 2023, the Maharashtra Political battle dominated the hearings before the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench.
Read all the updates from the judgments delivered and the matters heard by the Constitution Bench in the month of February 2023 here.
Supreme Court gets 7 new Judges; achieves sanctioned strength of 34
The month of February 2023 saw a lot of action in the Supreme Court, with 7 Judges swearing in as Supreme Court judges.
In the case at hand, the woman had sought Rs. 3 Crores compensation, claiming that as a result of the bad haircut, she could not continue to lead her normal busy life as she no longer looked pretty; she had to face great humiliation and embarrassment; her career in the world of modelling was completely shattered; she went into a state of depression. NCDRC had awarded her Rs. 2 Crore compensation but without any material being produced by the woman to quantify the compensation.
The Supreme Court held that merely because either of the parties have disputed a factum of paternity, it does not mean that the Court should direct DNA test or such other test to resolve the controversy. Only in exceptional and deserving cases, where such a test becomes indispensable to resolve the controversy the Court can direct such test.
Supreme Court said that the conduct of the judge and her/his decisions must reflect and show independence, adherence to the democratic and constitutional values. This is necessary as the judiciary holds the centre stage in protecting and strengthening democracy and upholding human rights and the Rule of law.
Courts should not interfere in the internal issue of a party and leave it open to the party and its members to take a particular decision for better administration, stated Supreme Court
The 3-judges Bench of Supreme Court has stayed the impugned order of the Kerala High Court whereby the High Court had asked DLSA to record statements of the detenu and make her undergo counselling. Allegedly, the woman has been kept in illegal detention by her parents.
The woman lost her father during the Covid-19 pandemic and her mother is unwell. She also has a married sister, 10 years older to her. However, all of them showed their inability to raise the child.
Contract and Specific Relief
The matter pertains to death of a Constable during election duty and claim of insurance raised after more than 7 years of the incident, wherein, the liability of insurance company and Election authorities was in question before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court was unimpressed with the explanation given by the plaintiff for the delay of 853 days that he initially fell sick with Jaundice and was later confined to house with High Blood Pressure, Diabetes and other diseases. The petition had extension of time to deposit the balance sale consideration of Rs. 15,00,000/-.
Criminal Trials and Procedure
The Supreme Court was of the view that the basic principle of criminal jurisprudence is that in circumstantial evidence cases, the prosecution is obliged to prove each circumstance, as well the as the links between all circumstances, beyond reasonable doubt. Such circumstances, taken cumulatively, should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability, the crime was committed by the accused and the same should unerringly point towards the guilt of the accused.
In a case of Cross FIRs relating to murder and attempt to murder, the Supreme Court has granted bail to the main accused in the murder case.
The Supreme Court refused to grant the benefit of General Exception of unsoundness of mind under IPC in favour of the appellant, since he failed to discharge his burden of proof.
Supreme Court in a case pertaining to allegations of cheating and criminal breach of trust, held that the accused is entitled for anticipatory bail, and directed the Investigating Agency to follow the procedure prescribed under CrPC for investigation against the disabled person
The Supreme Court observed that if allegations in the petition are vague and are not specific with respect to the alleged offences, it cannot lead to an order for registration of an FIR and investigation on the accusation of commission of the offences alleged.
Supreme Court held that there is neither illegality associated with the establishment of the Delimitation Commission, nor anything illegal about the exercise of delimitation of the constituencies undertaken by it.
In a case related to caste-based discrimination against an associate professor of IIT-K by fellow faculty members, the Supreme Court played a conciliatory role and handled a very sensitive matter with equal sensitivity.
Guided by the principles of prima facie case, balance of convenience and irreparable injury, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of Division Bench of Delhi High Court restraining a commercial project spread across 115-acres.
The Supreme Court observed that an owner of land may not have an absolute and unqualified right which is the idea which not unnaturally comes to mind when the idea of ownership is under consideration.
In a builder-home buyers’ dispute, the Supreme Court agreed with the builder ‘s argument that the rule embodied in Order XXI, Rule 4 of CPC, was applicable and the builder could not be fastened with any legal liability to pay interest after April 2005. The bench further opined that all courts and judicial forums should frame guidelines in cases where amounts deposited with the office or registry of the court or tribunal, should mandatorily be deposited in a bank or some financial institution, to ensure that no loss is caused in the future.
Dishonour of Cheques
Supreme Court said that as four of the six cases have been filed by the respondent company before the Dwarka Courts at New Delhi and only two such cases are pending before the Courts at Nagpur, it would be convenient and in the interest of all concerned, that the cases be transferred to the Dwarka Courts at New Delhi.
The Supreme Court observed that such settlement is nothing but a compounding of the offence and hence, the Court cannot override such compounding and impose its will.
The Supreme Court held that the impugned notification taking away the accrued rights of OCI cardholders should have prospective effect on children born after the said date.
Supreme Court stated that the appellants may approach the relevant Coastal Zonal Management Authority within a period of one month as regards to laying down the pipelines was concerned which will be considered by any application made in regard to the continued use of the pipeline.
Health and Healthcare
NHRC had refused to interfere with the instant case of medical negligence, while SHRC issued certain directions. The High Court also did not find anything wrong with the directions of SHRC, hence, the petitioner approached the Supreme Court in the present matter.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy
Supreme Court upheld the NCLT order that the provident fund, pension fund and gratuity fund are not part of the liquidation estate, for distribution under Section 53 of the IBC and the same has to be paid to the employees under the stated heads.
Land and Property
Supreme Court said that the Allahabad High Court committed a serious error in interpreting Rule 176(4) of Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Rules, 1952.
The Supreme Court opined that even if such a classification had a rational nexus to the objective of the notification, the classification must also be legitimized by the parent statute.
In a suit property where father executed a release deed for relinquishment of rights for valuable consideration, Supreme Court held that the effect of principle of estoppel cannot be warded off by appellants claiming through their father whose conduct generated this estoppel.
Supreme Court upheld the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s order holding the respondent as the owner of the encroached land, as an encroacher cannot claim benefit of Section 51 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
Since the Odisha Lokayukta was not given any opportunity of being heard when the Division Bench of Orissa High Court set aside the inquiry order, the Supreme Court held the same as a manifest error in violation of the principles of natural justice.
The petitioner had contended that on account of his wife’s death, he was released on interim bail and had duly complied with all the conditions and had timely surrendered himself. The petitioner had also mentioned the fact that the two main accused in the case were enlarged on bail three years ago who were residents of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Explaining the scope of the territorial jurisdiction of Special Court under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002, the bench of V Ramasubramanian and JB Pardiwala, JJ also held that the trial of the scheduled offence should follow the trial of the offence of money-laundering and not vice versa.
Practice and procedure
Supreme Court held that the period of suspension of legal proceedings is excludable in computing the period of limitation for the enforcement of such right in terms of Section 22(5), SICA. Further, the dismissal of the application under Section 9, IBC on the ground of ‘pre-existing dispute’ cannot be held to be patently illegal or perverse.
The Supreme Court observed that availability of an alternative remedy does not operate as an absolute bar to the “maintainability” of a writ petition and that the rule, which requires a party to pursue the alternative remedy provided by a statute, is a rule of policy, convenience and discretion rather than a rule of law.
Supreme Court reiterated that in terms of Section 4, an appeal cannot be filed before a High Court without court fee, if the same is prescribed. But this provision must be read along with Section 149 of CPC.
Service and Labour Matters
The Court was deciding the case where the ex-employees of Maharashtra State Financial Corporation had challenged decision denying the benefit of revision of pay scales, as recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission, to the employees who had retired or died during the period of 01.01.2006 to 29.03.2010.
Some members of the Andhra Pradesh State Judicial Service had claimed that the service rendered by them as District & Sessions Fast Track judges on Ad-hoc basis was not considered for elevation to the Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
“The wisdom and advisability of the Courts in the matters concerning the finance, are ordinarily not amenable to judicial review unless a gross case of arbitrariness or unfairness is established by the aggrieved party.”
Supreme Court held that the respondent could not have been given the pensionary benefits as Scientist -H in NTRO, as before her probation period was completed, she was relieved.
Supreme Court held that the Telangana High Court erred in setting aside the demand notice for the period after October 1989 and that the amended Section 1(6) was applied retrospectively. It was of the view that only in the case of demand notice for the period prior to inserting Section 1(6) of the ESI Act, it could be said that the same provision has been applied retrospectively.
Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea moved by the consortium and upheld the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s order directing the consortium to pay the provident fund and gratuity dues of the employees of Jet Airways
The State of Himachal Pradesh had appealed against the High Court’s decision which held Section 3A (3) of Himachal Pradesh Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1972 as ultra vires of the powers conferred upon the State Government under the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court set aside the said judgment of Himachal Pradesh High Court upholding the validity of Section 3A (3) and related notifications.
Know Thy Judges
Born on 10-02-1962 in Hisar, Justice Surya Kant, has the distinction to be appointed as the youngest Advocate General of Haryana. Before being elevated as a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Surya Kant served as a Judge in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and as Chief Justice of Himanchal Pradesh High Court.
Justice Dipankar Datta, was born on 09-02-1965 in a Bengali family. He served as a Judge in the Calcutta High Court, and as a Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, then he was sworn in as Supreme Court Judge by Chief Justice Dr D.Y. Chandrachud on 12-12-2022.