Constitution Bench Yearly Roundup 2023

Article 370 verdict

Know Why SC held ‘State Government’s concurrence was not necessary for President to exercise power under A.370(1)(d); Amendments through circuitous manner would be disastrous’

5-Judge Constitution Bench: Chief Justice of India Dr. DY Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, and Surya Kant, JJ.

Unanimously upheld the Union’s action abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution and directed the restoration of statehood in the State at the earliest.

Three Judgments were delivered, one was authored by Dr. DY Chandrachud, CJI on behalf of himself, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ., while Justice Kaul and Khanna, J. authored separate but concurring Judgments. Read more

[Article 370 of the Constitution, In re, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1647]

Article 370| “Whatever has been, has been…”: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul calls for “Truth and Reconciliation” in Kashmir

5-Judge Constitution Bench : Chief Justice of India Dr. DY Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, and Surya Kant, JJ.,

Justice Kaul, who penned a separate but concurrent opinion, poured his heart out and observed that in order to move forward, the wounds need healing. Read more

[Article 370 of the Constitution, In re, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1647]

Same Sex Marriage

Supreme Court Verdict on Same Sex Marriage: Breakdown of the Agreements and Disagreements

5-judge Constitution Bench: Dr DY Chandrachud, CJI and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S. Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli, PS Narasimha, JJ.

The Bench wrote 4 opinions on the Same Sex Marriage/Marriage Equality matter where they agreed on some points and disagreed on others. In a 366 pages long verdict, heavy on words, all judges said in one voice that there was no fundamental right to marry and that the Supreme Court could not enter judicial legislation to read words into the Special Marriage Act and make it a gender-neutral legislation. The Court left it to Parliament to undertake this process.

There were however some disagreements on certain points where Bhat, Kohli and Narasimha, JJ formed the majority and Chandrachud, CJI and Kaul, J were in dissent. Read more

[Supriyo v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1348]

Tussle between Delhi Government and Centre

Explained| Supreme Court judgment settling tussle between Delhi Govt and Centre

5-Judge Constitution bench: Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud*, C.J., M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha, J.J.

This matter dealt with the asymmetric federal model of governance in India, involving the contest of power between a Union Territory and the Union Government.

The Bench held the following:

  • There does not exist a homogeneous class of Union Territories with similar governance structures.

  • NCTD is not similar to other Union Territories. By virtue of Article 239AA, NCTD is accorded a “sui generis” status, setting it apart from other Union Territories.

  • The Legislative Assembly of NCTD has competence over entries in List II and List III except for the expressly excluded entries of List II. In addition to the Entries in List I, Parliament has legislative competence over all matters in List II and List III in relation to NCTD, including the entries which have been kept out of the legislative domain of NCTD by virtue of Article 239AA(3)(a). Read more

[Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 606]

Section 6A of DSPE Act unconstitutional from date of insertion: Supreme Court Constitution Bench

5-Judge Constitution Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S. Oka, Vikram Nath* and J.K. Maheshwari, JJ.

Issue: whether declaration made in Subramanian Swamy v. CBI, (2014) 8 SCC 682 regarding unconstitutionality of Section 6-A of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (‘DSPE Act’) could be applied retrospectively in context of Article 20 of Constitution of India

The Bench held that its decision in Subramanian Swamy (supra) declaring Section 6-A of DSPE Act unconstitutional, shall have retrospective effect, to be ineffective from the date of its insertion. Read more

[Central Bureau of Investigation v. Dr RR Kishore, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1146]

Animal Cruelty versus Jalikattu

Supreme Court Constitution Bench holds Jallikattu, Kambala and bull -cart racing legal

5-Judge Constitution Bench: KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose*, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar, JJ.

The Bench upheld the Constitutional validity of the State amendments made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (‘PCA Act’) by the Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra and allowed the conduct of animal sports like Jallikattu, Kambala and bull-cart racing in these respective States. Read more

[Animal Welfare Board of India v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 661]

Modified guidelines in 2018 Euthanasia Judgment

Explained| Supreme Court’s order modifying guidelines given in 2018 Euthanasia Judgment

5-Judge Constitution Bench: K.M Joseph*, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy, CT Ravikumar, JJ.

A miscellaneous application was filed by Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine seeking clarification of the judgment reported in Common Cause v. Union of India, (2018) 5 SCC 1.

The Bench viewed that the directions contained in paragraphs 198 to 199 (2018 Judgment) require to be modified/ deleted. Thus, it made the necessary amendments. Read more

[Common Cause (A Regd. Society) v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 99]

Grant of divorce under Article 142 of Constitution

Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage: Decoding Supreme Court judgment on grant of divorce under Article 142 of Constitution; waiver of 6 month’s cooling off period

5-Judge Constitution Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna*, A.S. Oka, Vikram Nath, and J.K. Maheshwari, JJ.

The Bench held that the Supreme Court has the discretion to dissolve the marriage by passing a decree of divorce by mutual consent, without being bound by the procedural requirement to move the second motion subject to the requirements and conditions laid down under Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746 and Amit Kumar v. Suman Beniwal, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1270. It was also held that in exercise of power under Article 142(1) of the Constitution of India, Supreme Court has the discretion to dissolve the marriage on the ground of its irretrievable breakdown. Read more

[Shilpa Sailesh v. Varun Sreenivasan, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 544]

Maharashtra Political Crisis: Decoded

Decoding Maharashtra Political Crisis: From how it all started to Supreme Court’s ‘Big’ Verdict

5-Judge Constitution Bench: Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud*, CJI and M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha JJ.

Putting an end to the Maharashtra’s Political Crisis that was witnessed by the nation after the split between Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray factions within Shiv Sena, leading to a change in the State government in the year 2022, the Bench has upheld the Governor’s decision of inviting Eknath Shinde to form the Government in the State and has refused to quash Udhav Thackeray’s resignation as it was submitted voluntarily before the floor test. Read more

[Subhash Desai v. Governor of Maharashtra, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 607]

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Gas Tragedy| Supreme Court Constitution Bench dismisses Centre’s plea for enhanced compensation from Union Carbide Corporation

5-Judge Constitution Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul*, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S. Oka, Vikram Nath and J.K. Maheshwari, J.J.

The Bench had reserved its judgement on 12-01-2023, delivered its judgment dated 14-03-2023 dismissing the curative petition seeking enhancement of compensation for the victims of the world’s largest industrial disaster- the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Read more

[Union of India v Union Carbide Corporation, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 264]

Appointment of members of the Election Commission of India

An Independent Election Commission of India as envisioned by Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench: Breakdown of the 378-pages long verdict

5-judge Constitution Bench: K.M. Joseph*, Ajay Rastogi**, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ.

The Bench has settled the dispute revolving around appointment of members of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and has held that the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners shall appointed by the President on the advice of a 3-member committee consisting of: the Prime Minister of India; the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha or in case, there is no such Leader, the Leader of the largest Party in the Opposition in the Lok Sabha having the largest numerical strength; and the Chief Justice of India The Court made clear that this norm will continue to hold good till a law is made by Parliament. Read more

[Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 216]

Freedom of speech of public functionaries

Ministers and the freedom to make ‘hurtful’ statements: Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench verdict & Justice Nagarathna’s partial dissent, explained

5-Judge Constitution Bench: S Abdul Nazeer, AS Bopanna, BR Gavai, V Ramasubramanian & BV Nagarathna, JJ.

The Bench has delivered verdict on the issue relating to freedom of speech of public functionaries and whether the right to life and personal liberty of citizens impedes the same and has ruled against imposing further restrictions on freedom of speech of Ministers.

V Ramasubramanian, J delivered the verdict for himself and SA Nazeer, AS Bopanna, BR Gavai, JJ, however, BV Nagarathna, J, while agreeing with the reasoning and conclusions arrived at by the majority on certain questions referred, went on to lend a ‘different perspective’ on some issues by way of separate opinion. Read more

[Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 6]

Demonetisation Verdict

Demonetisation Verdict: Breakdown of the majority and minority opinions

5-Judge Constitution Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer, B.R Gavai*, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian, B.V. Nagarathna**, JJ.

Six years after the country went through demonetisation, that was severely criticised for being poorly planned, unfair and unlawful, the Bench has upheld the Centre’s 2016 demonetisation scheme in a 4:1 majority and held that demonetisation was proportionate to the Union’s stated objectives and was implemented in a reasonable manner. While Gavai, J has written the majority opinion for himself and SA Nazeer, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian, JJ, Nagarathna, J is the lone dissenter who has held that though demonetisation was well-intentioned and well thought of, the manner in which it was carried out was improper and unlawful. Read more

Pending Matters

Ex-communication in Dawoodi Bohras matter deserves to be tagged with 9-judge bench Sabarimala Review due to overlapping issues: Supreme Court 5-judge Constitution Bench

The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S. Oka*, Vikram Nath and JK Maheshwari, JJ, has referred the issue relating to ex-communication of a person from the Dawoodi Bohra community to a larger bench and has observed that the same deserves to be tagged with the review petition of the Sabarimala Temple verdict that is pending for consideration before a 9-judge bench, after noticing similarity of issues in both the matters. Read more

[Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community v. State of Maharashtra, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 129]

WhatsApp v Right to Privacy: New Data Protection Bill ready to be tabled in Monsoon Parliament Session, informs Centre; Supreme Court defers hearing

A constitution Bench comprising of K.M. Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar J.J, considered the submission made by the Attorney General for India, R. Venkataramani appearing on behalf of the Centre that the new Data Protection Bill (‘the new Bill’) was ready to be introduced in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament to be held in July 2023 which would address all the concerns raised by the petitioners, during the course of hearing of the matter pertaining to the latest privacy policy of WhatsApp. The Bench consequently deferred the hearing till August 2023.Read more

Supreme Court refers 2018 Electoral Bonds Scheme Case to 5-judge Constitution Bench

In the case relating to electoral bond scheme, the full bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, JJ. referred the matter to Constitution Bench. Read more

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