“The purpose of the law cannot be to allow the offender to sneak out of the meshes of law”.
Justice Bela M. Trivedi
Attorney General for India v. Satish, (2022) 5 SCC 545
Early life and Career1
Justice Bela M. Trivedi was born on 10-06-1960 at Patan, in North Gujarat. Since her father had a transferable judicial service, she did her schooling at various places. However, Justice Trivedi finished her B. Com – LL. B from M.S. University, Vadodara.
As an advocate, Justice Bela Trivedi’s practice in Gujarat High Court, centered around Civil and Constitutional matters for about ten years. Later, on 10-07-1995, she was appointed directly as the Judge, City Civil and Sessions Court at Ahmedabad.
Did You Know? It was a happy coincidence that her father was already working as the Judge, City Civil and Sessions Court when she was appointed. The Limca Book of Indian Records has recorded the entry in their 1996 edition that ” Father – daughter judges in the same court”.
Serving as a member of the Judicial Services, Justice Bela M. Trivedi also worked in different capacities like Registrar – Vigilance in the Gujarat High Court; CBI Court Judge; Special Judge – Serial Bomb blast matters etc. Justice Trivedi was also deputed as the Law Secretary for the State Government of Gujarat between 2004 to 2006.2
The High Courts
On 17-02-2011, Justice Trivedi was elevated as Judge of Gujarat High Court. Later in June 2011, she was transferred to the Rajasthan High Court at the Jaipur Bench. In 2013, Justice Trivedi was confirmed as a Permanent Judge of the Rajasthan High Court. Three years later i.e., in February 2016, she was repatriated to the Gujarat High Court.3
Some of the important decisions rendered by Justice Bela M. Trivedi during her tenure in the High Courts have been listed below.
Rajasthan High Court
Manohar Lal v. State of Rajasthan, 2012 SCC OnLine Raj 1989
The Division Bench of Narendra Kumar Jain-I and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., deliberated upon the grievance of the petitioners who were detained on the ground that they were dangerous persons and their activities were prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The Bench observed that there was no explanation as to what the activities were and what were the reasons for passing the detention order after a delay of more than one year. Since their representations were rejected by a non-speaking order which is a violation of Art. 22(5) of the Constitution and in absence of any germane material for passing the order of detention, the entire order of detention was held as vitiated.
Radhey Shyam v. Radha Mohan Paliwal, 2012 SCC OnLine Raj 2208
While deciding the matter related to C.P.C., Order 22 Rule 5, Sec. 2(11) of CPC regarding determination of Legal Representatives of the deceased, Justice Bela M. Trivedi held that the legatee under the Will, who intends to represent the estate of the deceased testator being on intermeddler with the estate of the deceased, will be a Legal Representative.
Anuj Sharma v. Ram Gopal, 2014 SCC OnLine Raj 140
While deciding the issue concerning appointment of maternal grandfather as guardian of a minor while his natural father is alive, Justice Bela M. Trivedi held that as long as the father of the minor is alive and is not found unfit to be the guardian of the person of the minor, the Court cannot appoint any other person as guardian of the person of such minor.
Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Rajasthan, 2015 SCC OnLine Raj 12151
Whether the Collector (Stamps) can review and set aside his own order under the guise of exercising the powers of rectification u/Sec. 52 of the Rajasthan Stamp Act, 1998; Justice Bela M. Trivedi held that, Collector (Stamps) cannot review his own order and such order shall be treated as passed without any authority of law, and therefore illegal. Chief Controlling Revenue Authority has the power to call for the record of any case decided in the proceeding held by the Collector and pass appropriate orders.
G.S. & Company v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Raj 1357
While dealing with the issue of scope and ambit of judicial review in contractual matters, the Bench of Bela M. Trivedi, J., held that such a scope is very limited and terms of invitation to tender are not open to judicial scrutiny. It was further held that unless the action of tendering authority is found to be malicious and misuse of its statutory powers, the interference of the Court is unwarranted- “Exclusion and inclusion of terms and conditions in the tender is a part of evolutionary process”.
Gujarat High Court
Surat Parsi Panchayat Board v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 1431
The Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., dismissed a petition which was filed with the sole purpose of securing an appropriate order, direction and/or writ directing the authority to permit the petitioners and its members to perform Dokhmenashini/last rites in Dokhmas of its member having died due to Covid 19, in accordance with their religious practices which is duly protected by the Constitution of India. The Court while dismissing the petition went on to hold that impugned Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare considering the prevailing situation of Covid-19, in the larger public interest for the disposal of dead bodies by cremation or burial, could not be said to be violative of any fundamental rights.
“The safety and the welfare of the State is the supreme law as comprehended in the legal maxim – “salus populi suprema lex”. Even the fundamental rights to profess, practice or propagate religion, and the right to manage religious affairs, as enshrined under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, are subject to public order, morality and health.” Read more
Anil Surendrasingh Yadav v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 2692
A Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and A.C. Rao, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed on being aggrieved by the Judgment and order by the Additional Sessions Judge and Special Judge (POCSO), whereby it had convicted the appellant-accused for the offence under Sections 302, 363, 366, 376-AB, 377 and 201 of the Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 3(a), 4, 5(a), 5(r) and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and had sentenced him to death penalty for the offence under Sections 302, 376-AB of the Penal Code and had convicted him of the offences under the Atrocities Act. The Court while dismissing the appeal and confirming the decision of the Special Court stated that the abhorrent and atrocious nature of crime committed by the appellant-accused in a diabolical manner, on the defenseless unprotected girl of 3½ years, without any remorse, has left the Court with no option but to consider the case as the “rarest of rare case” for awarding the punishment of death penalty. Read more
Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 850
In the instant matter the Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., directed the State of Gujarat to remain alert despite the falling number of Covid-19 cases and take all necessary actions immediately with regard to the improvement of the health infrastructure in the rural areas as also for creating awareness amongst public at large of the Mucormycosis disease [one of the post-covid side effect] and for making the policy of distribution of Liposomal Amphotericin B injections more transparent, specific and effective.
Jignesh Natvarlal Mevani v. Suo Motu, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 832
The Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., in the instant matter, perused the petition seeking to direct the State of Gujarat to publish and come out with data at the end of every day with regard to the total tests done for COVID-19; the number of Covid-19 fatalities and other connected information. The Court however, did not pass any directions in this regard citing the advisories issued by the ICMR.
Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 834
The Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., noting the swift spread of covid19 in rural areas and no clear strategy regarding the distribution of vaccines and medicines, directed the Central Government to place on record for the information of the general public at large, about the vaccination policy adopted by the Central Government. The Bench also directed the Gujarat Government to provide details on oath regarding availability of dedicated covid hospitals, RT-PCR tests etc.
Judgeship of the Supreme Court
In August 2021, the Supreme Court Collegium while deliberating upon appointment of new Judges to the Supreme Court, recommended the name of Justice Bela M. Trivedi along with 8 other names. Subsequently, the recommendations were accepted and Justice Trivedi was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India on 31-08-2021.4
Did you Know? Upon her elevation, Justice Bela M. Trivedi became the First Woman Judge from Gujarat High Court to be elevated to the Supreme Court.5
Notable Supreme Court Decisions
Some of the prominent decisions, that have been rendered by Justice Bela M. Trivedi so far, are as follows-
Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India (EWS Reservation), (2023) 5 SCC 1
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., upheld the constitutional validity the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, which provides for 10 % reservation to economically weaker sections (‘EWS’) of citizens in appointments to posts under the State and in admissions to educational institutions.
Justice Bela M. Trivedi, who was part of the majority, stated that the impugned amendment is required to be treated as an affirmative action on the part of the Parliament for the benefit and for the advancement of the economically weaker sections of the citizens.
Justice Trivedi was of the view that at the end of seventy-five years of independence, there is a need to revisit the system of reservation in the larger interest of the society as a whole, as a step forward towards transformative constitutionalism.
“Can we not move towards an ideal envisaged by the framers of our Constitution to have an egalitarian, casteless and classless society? Though difficult, it is an achievable ideal. Our Constitution which is a living and organic document continuously shapes the lives of citizens in particular and societies in general.”
P. Ponnusamy v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1543
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.
In her dissenting opinion, Bela M. Trivedi, J., stated that Rule 4 of the Draft Rules regarding the supply of documents was to be followed during investigation and before the commencement of the trial and not at the appellate stage before the High Court or the Supreme Court. Moreover, the attempt made on behalf of the appellant to delay the hearing of the appeals under the guise that they had demanded certain documents from the Investigating Officer was reprehensible. Read more
Did you Know? Justice Bela M. Trivedi recused herself from hearing Bilkis Bano’s plea challenging the release of 11 men convicted for her gangrape during the 2002 Gujarat riots, as she served as the Law Secretary of the Gujarat State Government between 2004 to 2006.
Sakshi Arha v. The Rajasthan High Court, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 662
In a batch of civil appeals filed by members of OBC, EWS, qualifying the selection process held for the post of Civil Judge challenged the order of Rajasthan High Court, wherein the petition filed by the appellants to consider their respective categories to which they belonged was dismissed. The Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., delivered a spilt verdict, and thus, the matter was placed before the Chief Justice of India (‘CJI’) to refer the matter to another Bench.
Justice Trivedi did not agree with the view taken by Justice Rastogi. It was noted that the certificates to the persons belonging to the reserved categories like SC/ST/OBC-NCL/MBC-NCL/EWS are issued by the competent authorities of the respective State Governments keeping in view the provisions contained in the Constitution of India and the principles laid down by the Court from time to time. It was said that the date of issuance of certificate to the persons belonging to OBC-NCL/MBC-NCL/EWS categories assumes significance for the purpose of ascertaining as to whether the candidate claiming to belong to a particular reserved category on the date when he/she applied for the post in question under such category, in fact belonged to the said category on the date on which such application was made or on the date prescribed in the advertisement. Read more
City Union Bank Ltd. v. R. Chandramohan, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 341
In an appeal challenging the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (‘NCDRC’) dismissing the appeal against Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (‘SCDRC’) holding the bank liable for deficiency in service under Section 2(1)(g) of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that complaints involving highly disputed questions of facts could not be decided by NCDRC or SCDRC respecting the summary nature of proceedings under the 1986 Act. Read more
Cardinal Mar George Alencherry v. State of Kerala, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 286
The present batch of Special Leave Petitions challenge the Kerala High Court’s refusal to entertain application against issuance of summons by the Trial Court for offences under Sections 120-B, 406, 423 read with 34 of IPC for illegal alienation of certain immoveable properties of the Church, also rejected by the Sessions Court, the Division Bench of Bela M. Trivedi and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ. refused to interfere with the findings of three Courts below. The Court quashed and set aside the subsequent orders passed by the High Court and specifically commented on the High Court’s unwarranted judicial activism overawing the other authorities discharging their statutory functions. Read more
Imtiyaz Ahmad Malla v. State of J&K, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 205
In a special leave petition filed against the judgment and order passed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, wherein the High Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the petitioner/appellant and confirmed the order passed by the Single Bench, wherein it was held that the decision of the Director General of Police, the highest functionary in the hierarchy of police department, to consider the suitability of the appellant for induction into police force, could not be called into question, the division bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ. upheld the impugned order. Read more
Naim Ahamed v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2023 SCC OnLine SC 89
The bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ has acquitted a man of rape charges in a case where a married woman, having three children, got into an extra-marital relationship with him and later accused him of rape when he did not marry her. Read more
Jaina Construction Co. v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., (2022) 4 SCC 527
The bench of Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that an Insurance Company cannot repudiate a claim merely on the ground that there was a delay in intimating it about the occurrence of the theft of vehicle. The Court was deciding a case relating to theft of a Truck that was insured with Oriental Insurance Company Limited. Read more
Attorney General for India v. Satish, (2022) 5 SCC 545
In an important ruling on POCSO Act, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Bela M. Trivedi and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., set aside the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) judgment that had acquitted the accused under Section 8 of the POCSO Act, 2012 on the ground that no direct physical contact i.e., skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration would not amount to ‘sexual assault’. Justice Bela M. Trivedi also observed that-
“The most important ingredient for constituting the offence of sexual assault under Section 7 of the Act is the “sexual intent” and not the “skin to skin” contact with the child.” Read more
Muzaffar Husain v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 567
In a case where a Judge was accused of misconduct, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that showing undue favour to a party under the guise of passing judicial orders is the worst kind of judicial dishonesty and misconduct. The extraneous consideration for showing favour need not always be a monetary consideration.
“It is often said that “the public servants are like fish in the water, none can say when and how a fish drank the water”. A judge must decide the case on the basis of the facts on record and the law applicable to the case. If he decides a case for extraneous reasons, then he is not performing his duties in accordance with law. As often quoted, a judge, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion.” Read more
P. Ranjitharaj v. State of T.N., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 508
The Division Bench comprising Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., reversed the impugned judgment of the Madras High Court and held that when the delay in appointment is attributable to the State, it would not deprive the employees of their right to become the member of the Pension Scheme, 1978 merely on the ground that the Scheme was not applicable to their year of appointment, particularly when other candidates who participated in the common process of selection were availing the same. Read more
Munni Devi v. Rajendra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 643
The bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that by virtue of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the Hindu widow’s limited interest gets automatically enlarged into an absolute right, when such property is possessed by her whether acquired before or after the commencement of 1956 Act in lieu of her right to maintenance. Read more
R. Muthukumar v. TANGEDCO, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 151
In a case where some candidates who had applied for the post of Helper/trainee with Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd (TANGEDCO) on the basis of a compromise order directing appointment of 84 persons, arguing that they were similarly situated, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., held that if there has been a benefit or advantage conferred on one or a set of people, without legal basis or justification, that benefit cannot multiply, or be relied upon as a principle of parity or equality. Read more
Sunil Kumar Maity v. SBI, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 77
In an interesting case where one SBI account holder was left with a balance of Rs. 59/- only in his account due to the existence of another bank account with strikingly similar name in the same branch, the bench of Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., set aside the “highly erroneous” impugned order passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission solely relying upon the suo-moto report called for from SBI during the pendency of the revision application. Read more
Chandrapal v. State of M.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 705
The Division Bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., while deliberating over this case where the accused was convicted for honour killing and later acquitted, reiterated the settled position of law vis-a-vis extra-judicial confessions and observed that an extra judicial confession attains greater credibility and evidentiary value if it is supported by chain of cogent circumstances and is further corroborated by other prosecution evidence.