Early Life and Education1
Justice Sarasa Venkatanarayana Bhatti (Bhatt) 2 was born on 06-05-1962. Justice Bhatti obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Law from Jagadguru Renukacharya College, Bangalore.
As an Advocate
After completing law, Justice Bhatti enrolled himself on 21-01-1987 with the Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh and started his practice in the High Court of Judicature of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad.
As a Judge
Justice S.V. Bhatti was sworn-in as Additional Judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh on 12-04-2013. He was appointed as Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh and assumed his charge on 01-06-2014.
Upon bifurcation and establishment of the High Court of Judicature of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi on 01-01-2019, Justice Bhatti was sworn-in as a Judge of Andhra Pradesh High Court and was later transferred to Kerala High Court. He was appointed as Judge of the High Court of Kerala and assumed office with effect from 19-03-2019.
Justice Bhatti was also appointed as Acting Chief Justice with effect from 24-04-2023 and was appointed as the Chief Justice with effect from 01-06-2023.
The Collegium4 while recommending Justice Bhatti’s name as the next Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court wrote
“Mr. Justice S.V. Bhatti is the senior-most Judge from the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and is presently functioning, on transfer as the seniormost judge of the Kerala High Court. His experience as a senior puisne Judge in two High Courts would be useful for him in dispensing justice as Chief Justice of the High Court of Kerala. Presently, there is no judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh serving as Chief Justice. Having regard to all relevant factors, the Collegium is of the considered view that Mr. Justice S.V. Bhatti is fit and suitable in all respects to be appointed as Chief Justice of the High Court of Kerala.”
Notable Decisions by Justice S.V. Bhatti5
Kerala High Court| Child should grow up knowing both parents and should enjoy the comfort of both parents
An appeal was filed by the mother of a minor child aged 6 years seeking custody of the child relating to a compromise decree passed wherein the appellant had agreed for the permanent custody of Vaishnav to be with the father and temporary custody to herself every Saturday from 10.00 a.m till 10.00 a.m. on the next day. A division bench of S.V. Bhatti and Bechu Kurian Thomas, JJ., modified the impugned order and held that taking note of the welfare of the child, which alone is the paramount consideration, the mother should have custody of the child during summer holidays for a period of 15-days each month and for 5 days during Onam and Christmas apart from custody on every Saturday from 10.00 Am till the next day-Sunday, till 6.00 PM.
[Saranya v Jyothi Basu, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 15296]
Will the maxim res ipsa loquitor get attracted in a case where a healthy man ‘walks’ into the operation theater for removal of kidney stones, taken out as a paraplegic? Kerala High Court answers
An appeal was filed by PRS Hospital challenging the order directing damages to be paid to an alleged victim of medical negligence who was an otherwise healthy young man of 29 years, who rode his motorbike to the hospital to undergo minor surgery/procedure for the removal of kidney stones, however, the young man was brought out from the operation theater as a paraplegic and his speech, lost. A division bench of S.V. Bhatti and Bechu Kurian Thomas, JJ., upheld the impugned order for damages and held that by the application of the principle of res ipsa loquitor, the hospital alone could have answered or explained the allegation of negligence, however, in the nature of the evidence adduced, they have failed to prove the absence of negligence.
[PRS Hospital v P Anil Kumar, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 8268]
Can a party to a litigation seek production of the medical records of a stranger to the lis especially those relating to a person with alleged mental illness? Kerala High Court answers
A petition was filed by the petitioner with a degree in M.Tech with second rank in the University, challenging a divorce proceeding wherein her right to privacy was allegedly infringed on account of a court certificate issued by the Family Court, Pala, for producing medical records of treatment undergone by the petitioner and her mother in a hospital. A division bench of S.V. Bhatti and Bechy Kurian Thomas, JJ., opined that unless the release of treatment records come within the purview and scope of the exceptions enshrined in Section 23 of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, the records of treatment of a person with mental illness cannot be released by any health professional.
On perusing the affidavit supporting the application for issuance of Court Certificate for production of medical records of the petitioner and her mother, the Court held that
The only averment written in the affidavit justifying production was “it is highly necessary to verify the treatment records of those persons from the year 2005 to 2015 for the fair disposal of the above case’, which cannot justify the production of treatment records of an alleged mentally ill person. Thus, there is no whisper even, as to how the document of a stranger to the litigation could be relevant or essential for the litigation.”
[X v Dr. S, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4377]
Kerala High Court refuses habeas corpus relief to a follower seeking production of Swami Prakashanantha alleging maladministration of hospital
A habeas corpus writ was filed by the petitioner, an ardent devotee of the dharma of H.E. Sri Narayana Guru Swami, having special attachment and affection for Swamiji seeking to produce Swami Prakashanantha before the Court and set him at liberty, due to him gaining knowledge that Swamiji is hospitalised in Shivagiri Sree Narayana Medical Mission Hospital, Varkala and alleging maladministration and ill-treatment. A division bench of S.V. Bhatti, and Bechu Kurian Thomas, JJ., refused grant writ relief and directed the hospital authorities to continue to give the best available treatment to Swami and keep a highly qualified and competent person informed on a day-to-day basis with a view to ensuring transparency.
[Vijendrakumar M v Swami Visudhananda, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 17109]
Kerala High Court dismisses PIL challenging grant of Environmental Clearance for the construction of a shopping mall at Thiruvananthapuram
A PIL was filed by a person who espouses public causes and claims to have filed several public interest litigations in the Court due to his social commitment challenging the grant of Environmental Clearance (‘the EC’) for the construction of a shopping mall at Thiruvananthapuram. A division bench of S.V. Bhatti and Bechu Kurian Thomas, JJ., dismissed the PIL as the project does not violate either the Environment Impact Assessment notification or the Coastal Regulation Zone regulations.
[M K Salim v State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 3119]
Every Muslim entitled to offer prayers in any mosque or buried dead bodies in a public khabarsthan; Kerala High Court holds Elappully Eranchery Jama-at Palli a public mosque and graveyard
A revision petition was filed by Elappully Erancheri Jama-Ath Palli (defendants) seeking revision of an order that upheld the order passed in a suit filed by members and beneficiaries of Elappully Eranchery Jama-ath Palli, a wakf challenging a ban on the members of the Jama-ath from participating in the marriage and their ceremonies along with burial of the dead bodies of the plaintiffs, others and their family members because the plaintiffs and 40 members of Elappully Erancheri Jama-Ath Palli wakf attended a religious discourse conducted by the Kerala Naduvathul Mujahideen. A division bench of S.V. Bhatti and Basant Balaji, JJ., held that the Elappully Eranchery Jama-ath Palli Mosque and khabarsthan being a public one, the defendants cannot obstruct the plaintiffs in offering prayers and burying the dead.
The Court opined “A mosque is a place of worship, and every Muslim offers prayer in the mosque. The Elappully Eranchery Jama-at Palli has no right to obstruct a member of the Jama-ath or any other Muslim from offering prayers. The burying of dead bodies is also a civil right. The graveyard situated in the plaint schedule property is a public graveyard. Every Muslim is entitled to get a decent burial according to civil rights and the graveyard under the supervision of the Elappully Eranchery Jama-at Palli is a public graveyard, any Muslim or any member of the Elappully Eranchery Jama-ath Palli has a right to bury the dead.”
[Elappully Eranchery Jama-at Palli v Mohammed Haneef, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 5916]
An appeal was filed examining the nature, scope and object of Sections 18 and 52 of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and Rule 6 (2) of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 and seeking to suspend the orders passed by the Single Judge in dated 11-07-2018 in the interest of justice. A division bench of Thottathil B Radhakrishnan, CJ., and S V Bhatt, J., that the that the requirement of sub-rule (2) of Rule 6 is mandatory and in the case on hand, admittedly the details given in compliance with the requirement of Rule 6(1) are treated as satisfying the requirement of 6(2) as well, hence are untenable and are accordingly set aside.
[State of Telangana v Himjal Beverages Private Limited, 2018 SCC OnLine Hyd 509]
Hyderabad High Court| Statutory obligations/rights under ESI Act cannot be contracted out by the employer and the employee/union; Such contracts are void and unenforceable
An application was filed based on an order of reference dated 30-04-2011, which occasioned the constitution of a Larger Bench, passed by the Full Bench in the civil appeals, in view of a divergence of the opinions/views expressed in two separate judgments. The issue under consideration was whether the parties are entitled to contract out of the beneficial provisions of the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948. A full bench of Dilip B Bhosale ACJ., K C Bhanu, S V Bhatt, A Shankar Narayana, and Anis, JJ., held that the scheme of the ESI Act is intended to secure compulsory participation and/or contribution of sums due under the Act, and strikes at all attempts by contract to either limit or extinguish these rights directly or indirectly. The contracting out of statutory obligation by employer and employee when the obligation by operation of law is towards the Corporation, is void and illegal. Thus, the Act does not explicitly forbid such a course, but if the interpretation to contract out of the Act is accepted, the interpretation will defeat and destroy the compulsive character introduced by the legislation.
[RCC Sales Private Limited v. ESI Corporation, 2015 SCC OnLine Hyd 258]
Hyderabad High Court| Notice to the tenant in a shop is necessary in case of acquisition of land by Municipal authorities for road widening even if the landlord/owner of the premises has given his consent
An application was filed to address the issue whether in case of acquisition of land by municipal authorities, for road widening, on consent of the landlord of a shop any notice is necessary to be given to the tenant in the shop. A full bench of Dilip B Bhosale, ACJ., and M S Ramachandra Rao, S.V. Bhatti, S. Ravi Kumar, and Anis, JJ., answered the question under consideration in the affirmative and held that a notice to the lessee/tenant in the shop is necessary in case of acquisition of land by the municipal authorities for road widening on consent of landlord of a shop.
[Raisunna Begum v. Premsukhai Jain, 2015 SCC OnLine Hyd 598]
An application was filed to address the issue whether a petition for a writ in the nature of habeas corpus, under Article 226 of the Constitution can be entertained against the order of preventive detention passed under the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabbers Act or any other enactment authorizing preventive detention. A three-judge bench of Dilip B Bhosale, ACJ., and S.V. Bhatti, and A Shankar Narayana, JJ., answered in the affirmative and held that the writ of habeas corpus provides a prompt and effective remedy against illegal detention under the Act or any other enactment authorizing preventive detention. Article 21 of the Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life and liberty except in accordance with the procedure established by law.
[G. Archana v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2015 SCC OnLine Hyd 240]
2. Justice S.V. Bhatti also mentioned as ‘Bhatt’ in one of the official Supreme Court notifications. Justice Bhatti also finds mention as Justice ‘SV Bhatt’ in the Telangana/ AP High Court orders. The official Supreme Court notifications also refer to him as “Justice Sarasa Venkatanarayana Bhatti (Bhatt)”.