Justice Chudalayil Thevan Ravikumar

“It is true that all murders are inhuman. For imposing capital sentence, the crime must be uncommon in nature.”1

Justice C.T. Ravikumar

Justice C.T. Ravikumar, a distinguished legal professional, was born on 06-01-1960, in Peermadu, Kerala. His illustrious career spans decades, marked by a commitment to justice, a deep understanding of the law, and a fervent dedication to public service. This article sheds light on the life and career milestones of Justice C.T. Ravikumar.

Early Life and Education

Justice C.T. Ravikumar was born in Peermadu, Kerala to K.O. Thevan and Saraswathy. His father was a bench clerk in Changanassery Magistrate Court. Justice Ravikumar graduated in Zoology from Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara and later pursued an LL. B degree from Government Law College, Calicut.2 This educational background equipped him with a solid foundation for the challenges and responsibilities that awaited him in the legal profession.

As an Advocate

On 12-07-1986, Justice Ravikumar enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Kerala. His legal journey commenced at Mavelikara Courts, showcasing his early dedication to the legal system.3 Justice Ravikumar later shifted to Kerala High Court. Justice Ravikumar shifted his practice from Mavelikkara to Ernakulam on the advice of former Supreme Court Chief Justice, Justice K G Balakrishnan4 and started independent practice in Civil, Criminal, Service and Labour matters.

From 1996 to 2001, Justice Ravikumar served as the Government Pleader, a role that brought him into direct involvement with the state’s legal affairs. His adept handling of legal matters led to his appointment as Senior Government Pleader in 2006, solidifying his reputation as a legal expert.5 Continuing his upward trajectory, Justice Ravikumar was appointed as the Special Government Pleader in the High Court of Kerala. This role showcased his specialized expertise and contributed to the efficient functioning of the legal system in the state.

As a Judge

  • Did You Know? Justice Ravikumar became the fifth Judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court directly from his parent High Court of Kerala.6

Justice Ravikumar was appointed as Additional Judge of the High Court of Kerala on 5-01-2009 and as a Permanent Judge on 15-12-2010. Within the High Court of Kerala, Justice Ravikumar served as the President of the Kerala Judicial Academy, where he played a pivotal role in shaping the future of legal professionals. Additionally, he assumed the responsibilities of the Executive Chairman of the Kerala State Legal Service Authority, further showcasing his dedication to public service and access to justice.

Justice Ravikumar took oath as aJjudge, Supreme Court of India on 31-08-2021 after serving as High Court Judge for over 12 years.7 He will serve for a tenure of four years in Supreme Court and will retire in 2025.

Notable Supreme Court Judgements

  • Did You Know? Justice C. T. Ravikumar refused to hear 50 petitions relating to renewal of licenses of 418 bars in different parts of Kerala after an advocate visited him at his residence to talk about the case.8

In Siby Thomas v. Somany Ceramics Ltd., 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1299, a division bench comprising of C.T. Ravikumar* and Sanjay Kumar, JJ., while reiterating the principles relating to liability of a director of a company for the dishonour of a cheque issued by the company, held that “only that person who, at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company alone shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished.” The Court held that since the averments in the complaint are insufficient to attract the provisions under Section 141(1) of the NI Act, to create vicarious liability upon the appellant, he is entitled to succeed in this appeal. The Court quashed the criminal complaint in relation to the appellant, in exercise of the jurisdiction under Section 482 of CrPC.

In Appaiya v. Andimuthu, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1183, in an appeal by special leave with regards to suit for entitlement to title and possession of the entire suit property, 96 cents purchased under Ext. A5 sale deed, a division bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and C.T. Ravikumar,* JJ., while allowing the appeal held that certified copy of an original sale deed is admissible in evidence in a trial.

In Krishan Kumar v. State of Haryana, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1180, a criminal appeal against the order of conviction under Section 300 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) for the murder and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment therefor, under Section 302, IPC and also stand convicted under Section 201, IPC read with Section 34, IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years with default fine, a division bench comprising of C.T. Ravikumar* and Sanjay Kumar, JJ., held that the trial Court as also the High Court have appreciated the evidence in an utterly perverse manner viz., against the weight of evidence. The Court stated that the appellants are individually or even collectively not sufficient to connect the appellants with the crime. The Court acquitted appellants granting them benefit of doubt.

In B.P. Naagar v. Raj Pal Sharma, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 886, a special leave appeal concerning the value of an action for court expenses and jurisdiction, a division bench comprising of C.T. Ravikumar* and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., opined that the case in hand is an eminently fit case where the Court should remand the matter for fresh consideration by the High Court. The Court set aside the impugned order and granted liberty to both sides to take all legally available contentions before the High Court, for a proper decision in the matter.

In Ram Kishan v. Manish Kumar, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 869, a writ petition, seeking issuance of a writ of mandamus and/or for an appropriate writ/order or direction in the nature of mandamus, directing the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) to de-seal the subject property, a division bench comprising of C.T. Ravikumar* and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., rejected the petitioner’s prayer to issue a writ of mandamus to de-seal the property sealed by Cantonment Board alleging unauthorized construction in the absence of any legal right at this stage, i.e., when the building plan of that property has not yet been sanctioned by the Cantonment. The Court opined that there cannot be any doubt with respect to the fact that the question of de-sealing is also a matter which is intertwined with the issues arising for consideration in the pending Civil Suit.

In V.R. Sanal Kumar v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 617, a Special Leave against judgment passed by Kerala High Court on 16-1-2012 dismissing challenge against order dated 30-9-2008 regarding dismissal of ISRO Scientist from service by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) without inquiry in the alleged interest of the State, the Division Bench of C.T. Ravikumar* and M.R. Shah, JJ., refused to interfere with the High Court’s affirmation with the decision of CAT or to exercise the power under Article 136 of Constitution.

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In Damodhar Narayan Sawale v. Tejrao Bajira Mhaske, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 566, a Division Bench comprising of C.T. Ravikumar* and M.R. Shah, JJ., held that the need to take into consideration the surrounding circumstances and the conduct of parties in deciding the passing of title would arise only if the recitals in the document are indecisive and ambiguous, but in the matter in hand, where there exist no need of such consideration, the High Court has committed a serious error based on perverse appreciation of evidence, in setting aside the judgment and decree of the First Appellate Court decreeing the subject suit and in restoring the decree of dismissal of the suit of the trial Court.

“…where a deed of sale had been duly executed and registered, its delivery and payment of consideration have been endorsed thereon it would amount to a full transfer of ownership so as to entitle its purchaser to maintain a suit for possession of the property sold.”

While addressing the interplay of the requirements of stamping vis-à-vis the validity of arbitration agreements, a 5-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India, in comprising of K.M. Joseph*, Ajay Rastogi,* Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy* and C.T. Ravikumar,* JJ., in N.N. Global Mercantile (P) Ltd. v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd., (2023) 7 SCC 1 by a 3:2 majority, held that unstamped arbitration agreements are not valid in law. While KM Joseph, Aniruddha Bose and C.T Ravikumar, JJ. formed the majority, Ajay Rastogi and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ. dissented and opined that unstamped arbitration agreements are valid at the pre-referral stage.

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While hearing a curative petition, the 5 Judge Bench referred the matter to a 7-Judge bench to hear the judgment relating to unstamped arbitration agreements. Having regard to larger ramifications of the N.N. Global Mercantile (P) Ltd., case the Court viewed that proceedings should be placed before a 7-Judge bench to reconsider the correctness of the view by a 5-Judge bench.

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In State of Maharashtra v. Maroti, (2023) 4 SCC 298, a case where the Bombay High Court has quashed the FIR against a medical practitioner in relation to misprision of sexual assault against minor tribal girls in a girls’ hostel, the bench of jay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar*, JJ has set aside the judgment and has shown disappointment that a legitimate prosecution under another Act viz., the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), has been throttled at the threshold by the exercise of power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(CrPC), without permitting the materials in support to it to see the light of the day.

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In Gurmail Singh v. State of U.P., (2022) 10 SCC 684, a division bench comprising of CT Ravikumar* and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ has held that merely because some of the convicts had died during the pendency of the case, it would not lead to non-applicability of the provision for constructive/vicarious liability, arising out of the achievement of the common object by the unlawful assembly.

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In Sukhbiri Devi v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1322, where the principal question before the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and C.T. Ravikumar*, JJ., for contemplation was whether the issue of limitation can be determined as a preliminary issue under Order 14, Rule 2(2) of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (for short ‘CPC’). The Supreme Court while addressing the series of judgments in the instant case dismissed the appeal filed against the judgment of High Court of Delhi.

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In Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1098, a 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Hima Kohli and CT Ravikumar, JJ has referred, the matter relating to promise of freebies by political parties as a part of their election manifesto or during election speeches, to a larger Bench after observing that,

“Freebies may create a situation wherein the State Government cannot provide basic amenities due to lack of funds and the State is pushed towards imminent bankruptcy. In the same breath, we should remember that such freebies are extended utilizing tax payers money only for increasing the popularity of the party and electoral prospects.”

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In Parvez Parwaz v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1103, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Hima Kohli and CT Ravikumar*, JJ has dismissed the Special Leave to Appeal in the hate speech case relating to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The Court refused to go into the issue of denial of sanction for prosecution and the legal pleas sought to be raised in relation to the said issue. It, however, left the the legal questions on the issue of sanction open for consideration in an appropriate case.

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In Zakia Ahsan Jafri v. State of Gujarat, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 773, the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, dismissed Zakia Jafris plea challenging the clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Special Investigation Team in 2002 Gujarat riots case. The Court observed that no fault can be found with the approach of the SIT in submitting final report back in 2012, which is backed by firm logic, expositing analytical mind and dealing with all aspects objectively for discarding the allegations regarding larger criminal conspiracy (at the highest level) for causing and precipitating mass violence across the State of Gujarat against the minority community.

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In Rahul Ramesh Wagh v. State of Maharashtra, (2022) 12 SCC 798, a 3-judge Bench comprising of A.M. Khanwilkar, Abhay S. Oka and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., directed Maharashtra State Election Commission to expeditiously conduct elections of local bodies (around 2486), which were pending for over 2 years (in some cases) due to disputed constitutional validity of State Amendments seeking to introduce delimitation in the State.

“We make it clear that until the delimitation is done by the State Government in terms of Amendment Act(s) of 2022, the State Election Commission shall give effect to this order also in respect of upcoming elections in respect of local bodies which would become due by efflux of time.”

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In Union of India v. Alapan Bandyopadhyay, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 16, while setting aside a Calcutta High Court verdict which had quashed the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) transferring a case filed by former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay from Kolkata to Delhi, a Division Bench of A.M. Khanwilkar and C.T. Ravikumar*, JJ., held that the Calcutta High Court did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the plea by Bandyopadhyay.

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In Municipal Corpn. of Greater Mumbai v. Ankita Sinha, (2022) 13 SCC 401, a Division Bench of A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy* and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., considered the question, whether the National Green Tribunal has the power to exercise Suo Motu jurisdiction in the discharge of its functions under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, stated that

“NGT, with the distinct role envisaged for it, can hardly afford to remain a mute spectator when no-one knocks its door.”

“…adopt an interpretation which sustains the spirit of public good and not render the environmental watchdog of our country toothless and ineffective.”

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Notable High Court Judgements

In V.M. Mathew v. National Highway Authority of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 387, a Division Bench of C. T. Ravikumar and K. Haripal*, JJ., partly allowed the instant petition filed under Section 37 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and held that even in the absence of specific plea or proof, the appellant would be entitled to get solatium and interest on solatium as provided in Section 23(1A) and (2) and interest in terms of proviso to Section 28 of the Land Acquisition Act.

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In Eliyamma v. Deputy Collector, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 80, while partially allowing the instant appeal challenging the correctness of the orders of the District Judge whereby the District Judge had declined to interfere with the arbitral award, a Division Bench comprising of C.T. Ravikumar and K. Haripal*, JJ., held that even in the absence of specific plea or proof, the appellants were entitled to claim solatium and interest on solatium under Section 23(1A) and (2) and interest in terms of the proviso to Section 28 of the Land Acquisition Act and the respondents were directed to quantify the amounts of solatium accordingly.

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In Travancore Devaswom Board Employees Front v. State of Kerala,9 a Division Bench of C.T. Ravikumar and K. Haripal, JJ., allowed various petitions in connection with Sabrimala pilgrimage and held that in view of the surge of Covid-19 positive cases, number of pilgrims was rightly decided to be limited and that it could be safely fixed as 5000.

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In State of Kerala v. Krishnan, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 3542, while partly allowing the appeal by setting aside the Single Bench order to the extent it quashed the charge sheet filed by the Special Investigation Team, the Division Bench comprising of S. Manikumar, C.J. and C.T. Ravikumar*, J., held that a lot of prima facie evidence had been missed out due to the slackness and incomplete investigation of the Kerala Crime Branch that may possibly result in the miscarriage of justice.

In Suo motu Writ Petition — COVID-19 — taken up by the High Court, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 1229, a 3-judge bench comprising of S. Manikumar*, C.J., and C.K. Abdul Rehim and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., issued certain directions taking suo motu cognizance of the public announcement of imposing a total lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak resulting in immobilization of public at large.

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In Kerala Public Service Commission v. Radha S., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 13812, a case of disqualification of teaching candidates on the ground that they had not submitted their NET qualification certificates on time, a Division Bench of C.T. Ravikumar and V.G .Arun*, JJ., observed that the incomplete applications were due to technical glitches in the Public Service Commission’s website and not the fault of the candidates and held this to be a “hostile discrimination” violating Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

In a path-breaking decision, L. Mini v. Gireeshkumar, 2016 SCC OnLine Ker 16781, a Division Bench comprising of C.T. Ravikumar and K. P. Jyothindranath, JJ., while answering a vital question related to State’s liability to indemnify in motor vehicle accident claim cases held that the government is under a welfare State liability to compensate for the death or injury caused to a vehicle owner during an accident as the road tax is levied by the government.

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In Shantam Bose v. Union of India,10 a Division Bench of C.T. Ravikumar and V.G. Arun, JJ. dismissed a petition seeking quashing of disciplinary proceedings on the ground of inordinate delay. The Court upheld the Tribunal’s observation that the imputations incorporated in the said articles of charge only intended to explain the offending acts allegedly committed by the petitioner and to make the imputation specific and clear. In view thereof, the Court held that the verity of the imputations can only be proved or disproved at the final enquiry and merely because the imputations have been unhappily worded, it cannot be a reason to terminate the proceedings abruptly. It also observed that though the petitioner had attempted to establish the charges against him as baseless, merits of the case could only be established only after an appropriately conducted disciplinary proceeding.

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In P.A. Sidhartha Menon v. Deputy Superintendence of Police, 2013 SCC OnLine Ker 24286, highlighting the importance of speedy trial while allowing the splitting of trial against an accused, Justice Ravikumar held that there is no need to wait for the absconding accused to appear or be caught to conduct the trial.

“Nobody can dispute the position that courts have a duty to proceed criminal cases with a reasonable pace…”

* Judge who has penned the judgment.

1. Veerendra v. State of M.P., (2022) 8 SCC 668.

2. Hon’ble Mr. Justice C.T. Ravikumar, Supreme Court of India.

3. Supra.

4. Justice C.T. Ravikumar, Mathrubhumi.

5. Hon’ble Mr. Justice C.T. Ravikumar, Supreme Court of India.

6. C.T. Ravikumar, Supreme Court Observer.

7. Hon’ble Mr. Justice C.T. Ravikumar, Supreme Court of India.

8. Business Standard, Judges recuse from hearing cases relating to renewal of bar

9. WP(C) No. 23869 of 2020(G)

10. OP (CAT) No. 205 of 2015, decided on 27-05-2019.

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