Justice Sanjiv Khanna

“Democratic legitimacy is drawn not only from representative democracy but also through the maintenance of an efficient participatory democracy. In the absence of fair and effective participation of all stakeholders, the notion of representation in a democracy would be rendered hollow.”

— Justice Sanjiv Khanna1

Early Life and Education

Justice Sanjiv Khanna was born on 14-05-1960 to late Justice Dev Raj Khanna, former Judge of Delhi High Court2. He completed his schooling at Delhi’s prestigious Modern School, Barakhamba Road. He graduated from the University of Delhi in 1980 and later studied Law from the Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi.

*Did You Know? Justice Sanjiv Khanna is the nephew of former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Hans Raj Khanna, who famously delivered the lone dissenting judgement in the ADM, Jabalpur v. Shivakant Shukla, (1976) 2 SCC 521, popularly known as the “Habeas Corpus case”, in 19763.

From an Advocate to a Supreme Court Judge

Justice Sanjiv Khanna enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1983. He began his practice in the District Courts at Tis Hazari in Delhi and soon shifted his practice to Delhi High Court. His area of practice was wide and varied from writ petitions in public law matters, direct tax appeals, income tax prosecutions, arbitration cases, commercial suits, environment and pollution laws matters, besides medical negligence cases before consumer forums and company law cases before the Company Law Board.

He had represented the Government of Delhi as an additional Public Prosecutor in various criminal cases. He was a senior standing counsel for the Income Tax Department for about seven years. He was appointed as a Standing Counsel (Civil) for the Government of Delhi in Delhi High Court in 2004.

On 24-06-2005 Justice Sanjiv Khanna was elevated as an Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court and became a Permanent Judge of the Delhi High Court on 20-02-2006.4

*Did You Know? Justice Sanjiv Khanna never headed any High Court as Chief Justice and was a Judge of the Delhi High Court prior to his elevation to Supreme Court5.

Five-member Supreme Court Collegium headed by the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, recommended the elevation of Justice Maheshwari and Justice Khanna to the Supreme Court after reviewing its earlier deliberations held on December 12-12- 2018, in which Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog were said to have been considered for elevation.6

*Did You Know? Justice Khanna was directly elevated from his parent High Court — the Delhi High Court, which is a rare occurrence. Only six judges have been elevated directly from their parent High Court since 1997 — Justices S Abdul Nazeer, Ranjana Prakash Desai, Lokeshwar Singh Panta, G P Mathur, Ruma Pal and S.S Quadri.7

Justice Khanna was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 18-01-2019 and is due to retire on 13-05-2025. Going by seniority rule, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, is in line to become the 51st Chief Justice of India (CJI) in November 2024 for a term of seven months8.

Notable Judgments at Supreme Court

*Did You Know? In a rare coincidence, Justice Sanjiv Khanna began his first day as a Judge in Supreme Court, sitting in the same courtroom from which his uncle, Late Justice H.R. Khanna, last retired.9

Constitution Bench and Larger Bench Decisions


Assn. for Democratic Reforms v. Union of India,

The 5-Judge Constitution Bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, CJI., Sanjiv Khanna**, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, Manoj Misra, JJ. gave a unanimous verdict with two opinions, one authored by Dr. Justice DY Chandrachud for Justice Gavai, Justice Pardiwala and Justice Misra, and other by Justice Sanjiv Khanna, with slight variance in the reasoning, and held that anonymous electoral bonds are violative of the right to information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Thus, the electoral bonds scheme was struck down for being unconstitutional. The proviso to Section 29-C(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Section 182(3) of the Companies Act, 2013, and Section 13-A(b) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, as amended by the Finance Act, 2017, were also held to be unconstitutional and struck down. “The Right to know is paramount for free and fair elections and democracy.” Read more


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

The five-Judge Constitution Bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Sanjay Kishan Kaul**, Sanjiv Khanna***, B.R. Gavai, and Surya Kant, JJ., delivered its verdict pertaining to the petitions filed against abrogation of Article 370 by the Central Government. The Bench unanimously upheld the Union’s action of abrogating Article 370. It further directed the restoration of statehood. Justice Khanna concurred with the two judgments delivered by the CJI and Justice Kaul. Read more

“Article 370 was enacted as a transitional provision and did not have permanent character. The abrogation of Article 370 does not negate the federal structure, as the citizens living in Jammu and Kashmir do and will enjoy same status and rights as given to citizens residing in other parts of the country.”


Interplay between Arbitration Agreements under the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 & the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, In re, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1666

A 7-Judge Bench comprising of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, CJI, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna*, BR Gavai, Surya Kant, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, JJ. held that the unstamped agreement is inadmissible under the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 but cannot be rendered void ab initio. Thus, arbitration clauses in unstamped or inadequately stamped agreements are enforceable. Justice Khanna wrote a concurring judgment. Read More

“An instrument whether unstamped or insufficiently stamped will not fall foul on the ground of consideration or object of the agreement being immoral, neither will it fall foul as opposed to public policy.”


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

The Constitution Bench comprising of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna*, A.S. Oka, Vikram Nath, and J.K. Maheshwari, JJ., 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. Read more


Central Public Information Officer v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1459

“Judicial independence and accountability go hand in hand as accountability ensures and is a facet of judicial independence.”

The five-judge Constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, (CJ) and NV Ramana***, Dr. DY Chandrachud***, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna,* JJ., upholding the 2010 landmark judgment of the Delhi High Court bringing the Chief Justice of India’s office under Right to Information, held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the definition of ‘public authority’ in the Right to Information Act. Read More

Other Significant Decisions

Assn. For Democratic Reforms v. Election Commission of India, 2024 SCC OnLine SC 661

The Division Bench comprising of Sanjiv Khanna* and Dipankar Dutta**, JJ., in separate but concurring judgments, rejected the petitions seeking directions for 100% cross-verification of all Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with votes cast through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during elections. The following directions were given:

  1. On completion of the symbol loading process in the VVPATs undertaken on or after 01-05-2024, the symbol loading units shall be sealed and secured in a container and shall be kept in the strong room along with the EVMs at least for a period of 45 days post the declaration of results.

  2. A team of engineers should check the burnt memory in the microcontroller EVM, after the declaration of the results, on a request made by the candidates who scored the second and the third position behind the highest polled candidate. The Court clarified that the verification expenses shall be borne by the candidate making such request. However, the expenses will be refunded if the EVMs are found to be tampered with.

Bharti Cellular Ltd. v. CIT, (2024) 462 ITR 247

In appeals pertaining to liability to deduct tax at source under Section 194-H of Income Tax Act, 1961 (‘1961 Act’) against telecom companies regarding amount payable under franchise/distributorship agreements, the Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and SVN Bhatti, JJ. held that Section 194-H of 1961 Act was not applicable to them since they did not control the income of such franchise/distributors. Read more

DBS Bank Ltd. v. Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd., (2024) 3 SCC 752

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and SVN Bhatti, JJ. referred the question that – whether Section 30(2)(b)(ii) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, as amended in 2019, entitles the dissenting financial creditor to be paid the minimum value of its security interest, to the larger Bench, considering the difference of opinion.

Manish Sisodia v. CBI, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1393

In a criminal appeal filed by Aam Aadmi Party (‘AAP’) leader Manish Sisodia, seeking bail in a case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (‘CBI’) under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Penal Code, 1860, and Directorate of Enforcement (‘ED’) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, the Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and SVN Bhatti, JJ. refused to grant bail to Manish Sisodia profit margin of wholesale distributors of liquor comparing 5% commission under old and 12% under the new regime. Read more

“Rule of law means that laws apply equally to all citizens and institutions, including the State. Rule of law requires an equal right to access to justice for the marginalised. The rule also mandates objective and fair treatment to all. Thirdly, rule of law is a check on arbitrary use of powers. It secures legitimate exercise of power for public good.”

Dakshin Gujarat Vij Co. Ltd. v. Gayatri Shakti Paper & Board Ltd., 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1276

While hearing a batch of civil appeals for the interpretation of the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003 (‘the Act’) and Rule 3 of the Electricity Rules, 2005 (‘the Rules’) for being classified as a Captive Generating Plant (‘CGP’) and a captive user, the division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and M.M. Sundresh, JJ. held that in case of change of ownership, shareholding, or consumption, the principle of weighted average should be applied to ensure compliance of the proportional electricity consumption requirement stipulated under the second proviso to Rule 3(1)(a). Read more

“SPVs which own, operate and maintain CGPs are an ‘association of persons’ in terms of the second proviso to Rule 3(1)(a) of the Rules, however, the companies, body corporates and other persons, who are shareholders and captive users of a CGP set up by a SPV, are required to comply with Rule 3(1)(a) of the Rules read with the second proviso of the Rules.”

IDBI v. CCE & Customs, (2023) 10 SCC 107

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. held that the des towards customs duty i.e. government dues falling under Section 530 of the Companies Act, 1956 does not have primacy, over dues of secured creditor i.e. dues falling under Section 529-A of the Companies Act, 1956 and Section 142-A of the Customs Act, 1962, does not alter this position.

State of Rajasthan v. Asharam, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 423

In an appeal filed by the State against the Judgment of the Rajasthan High Court allowing the application filed by the Asharam Bapu under Section 391 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’), and directing summoning and recording of evidence of Ajay Pal Lamba, Deputy Commissioner of Jodhpur Police who has written a book “Gunning For The Godman: The True Story Behind Asharam Bapu’s Conviction”, the Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and MM Sundresh, JJ. refrained from examining whether there is sufficient evidence and material to uphold the conviction of Asharam, as the questions of merits are to be considered by the High Court while adjudicating the criminal appeal against conviction and held that the test to allow additional evidence is not satisfied. Thus, set aside the impugned judgment. Read more

Career Institute Educational Society v. Om Shree Thakurji Educational Society, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 586

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna and M.M. Sundresh, JJ., reiterated that it is not everything said by a Judge when giving judgment that constitutes a precedent. The only thing in a Judge’s decision binding as a legal precedent is the principle upon which the case is decided and, for this reason, it is important to analyse a decision and isolate from it the obiter dicta. Read more

Anna Mathews v. Supreme Court of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 131

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna and B.R. Gavai, JJ., said that when eligibility is put in question, the question would fall within the scope of judicial review. However, the question of whether a person is fit to be appointed as a judge essentially involves the aspect of suitability and stands excluded from the purview of judicial review. Read more

Deepak Gaba v. State of U.P., (2023) 3 SCC 423

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and J.K. Maheshwari, JJ., set aside the order of the Allahabad High Court and held that “on the basis of evidence available on records and on the basis of statement of Complainant, the charge is appearing prima facie regarding showing forged demand against the Complainant, therefore the Opponents Manager Jotun India Pvt. Ltd. through Chief Manager Jotun India Pvt. ltd. Andheri East, Mumbai is liable to (be) summoned for trial in section 406 I.P.C. for trial prima facie”. Read more

Smriti Debbarma v. Prabha Ranjan Debbarma, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 9

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and J.K Maheshwari, JJ., held that the Gauhati HC had rightly examined the aspect of demarcation and identification of Schedule A property. Further, the Court said the plaintiff has not been able to establish her title and ownership over the Schedule A property. A decree of possession cannot be passed in favour of the plaintiff on the grounds that respondents have not been able to fully establish their right, title and interest in Schedule A property. Read more

Muthoot Leasing & Finance Ltd. v. CIT, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 4

While hearing appeals against the judgment of the Kerala High Court, wherein the Court has set aside and reversed the finding of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (‘ITAT’) observing that the hire purchase instalment includes “finance charges”, which is nothing but interest, and therefore, interest tax is leviable on the interest component, the Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and M.M.Sundresh, JJ., set aside the impugned judgments and the additions made by the assessing officer and upheld the orders passed by ITAT and said that the findings of fact generally recorded by the ITAT are treated as conclusive, and the High Court can interfere with the findings of fact while deciding a substantial question of law. Read more

Dilip Hariramani v. Bank of Baroda, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 579

The Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., explained the law on vicarious liability under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (‘NI Act’) and held that while Section 141 of the NI Act extends vicarious criminal liability to officers associated with the company or firm when one of the twin requirements of Section 141 has been satisfied, which person(s) then, by deeming fiction, is made vicariously liable and punished, such vicarious liability arises only when the company or firm commits the offence as the primary offender. Read more

BBR (India) (P) Ltd. v. S.P. Singla Constructions (P) Ltd., (2023) 1 SCC 693

The Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., held that subsequent hearings or proceedings at a different location other than the place fixed by the arbitrator as the ‘seat of arbitration’ should not be regarded and treated as a change or relocation of jurisdictional ‘seat’. Read more

Dauvaram Nirmalkar v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 955

Where a man was convicted for murder of his younger brother, the Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., converted the conviction from Section 302 to Part I of Section 304 of the IPC after holding that to discharge the burden the accused may rely upon the case of the prosecution and the evidence adduced by the prosecution in the court. Read more

Independent Schools’ Federation of India (Regd.) v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1113,

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., upheld the Constitutional validity of the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Act, 2009, and held that the Amendment seeks to bring equality and give fair treatment to the teachers. It can hardly be categorised as an arbitrary and high-handed exercise. Noticeably, the aforesaid Amendment Act was introduced to extend the benefit of gratuity to the teachers by including them in the definition of “employee”, who were earlier deprived of it. Read more

ONGC v. Afcons Gunanusa JV, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1122

The three-judge Bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Surya Kant and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., held that arbitrators do not have the power to unilaterally issue binding and enforceable orders determining their own fees. However, Khanna, J., wrote a separate opinion where he agreed with the majority opinion of certain parts but disagreed on the point that in the absence of any agreement between the parties, or the parties and the arbitral tribunal, or a court order fixing the fee, the arbitral tribunal is not entitled to fix the fee. He said that arbitrator’s fee, being a component of cost, can be fixed by the arbitral tribunal when it is not already predetermined by way of an agreement between the parties, or by a court order. Read more

Commr. of Gift Tax v. BPL Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1405

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and J.K. Maheshwari, JJ., while answering the appeals relating to the valuation of shares of BPL Sanyo Technologies Ltd. and BPL Sanyo Utilities and Appliances Ltd. gifted by the assessee to Celestial Finance Ltd. in 1993, held that equity shares which are quoted and transferable in the stock exchange are to be valued based on the current transactions and quotations in the open market. Read more

PTC (India) Financial Services Ltd. v. Venkateswarlu Kari, (2022) 9 SCC 704

The Division Bench of M.R Shah and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., held that mere exercise of the right by the pawnee to record himself as the ‘beneficial owner’, which is a necessary precondition before the pawnee can exercise his right to sell, is not ‘actual sale’ and would not affect the rights of the pawnor of redemption under Section 177 of the Contract Act. The Court observed that, “Every transfer or sale is not ‘actual sale’ for the purpose of Section 177 of the Contract Act. To equate ‘sale’ with ‘actual sale’ would negate the legislative intent.” Read more

Pradeep Kumar v. Post Master General, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 154

The three-judge Bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna* and BR Gavai, JJ., held that the post office/bank can be held liable for the fraud or wrongs committed by its employees. Read More

Keshav v. Gian Chand, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 81

In an issue relating to the alleged gift deed by an old illiterate woman, the Bench of MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., held that when a person obtains any benefit from another, the court would call upon the person who wishes to maintain the right to gift to discharge the burden of proving that he exerted no influence for the purpose of obtaining the document. While the corollary to this principle finds recognition under sub-section (3) to Section 16 of the Contract Act, 1872 which relates to pardanashin ladies, the courts can apply it to old, illiterate, ailing or infirm persons who may be unable to comprehend the nature of document or contents thereof. Read More

Chairman, State Bank of India v. MJ James, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1061

Explaining the difference between acquiescence and delay and laches, the Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., held that both limitation and laches destroy the remedy but not the right. Acquiescence, on the other hand, virtually destroys the right of the person.

“Inactive acquiescence on the part of the respondent can be inferred till the filing of the appeal, and not for the period post filing of the appeal. Nevertheless, this acquiescence being in the nature of estoppel bars the respondent from claiming violation of the right of fair representation.” Read More

Irappa Siddappa Murgannavar v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1029

In a case where a death row convict subjected a 5-year-old girl to rape, killed her by strangulation, and then disposed of her body, tied in a gunny bag, into a stream, the three-judge Bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna* and BR Gavai, JJ., has, finding hope for reformation and rehabilitation of the appellant, commuted his death sentence to that of life imprisonment.

The Trial Court had recorded that the death sentence was awarded on the ground that “the crime was committed in an extremely diabolical manner and that it was cruel, barbaric and revolting.” The High Court has noted that there are no mitigating circumstances at all. Read More

Executive Engineer, Gosikhurd Project Ambadi, Bhandara, Maharashtra Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation v. Mahesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1034

In an important ruling on Land Acquisition and Requisition law, the Division Bench of AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., held that Section 25 of the 2013 Act applies to awards made under Section 24(1)(a) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and the period of limitation of twelve months would commence from 1st January 2014. In cases covered by clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act, the limitation period for passing/making of an award under Section 25 of the 2013 Act would commence from 1st January 2014, that is, the date when the 2013 Act came into force. Awards passed under clause (a) to Section 24(1) would be valid if made within twelve months from 1st January 2014. Read More

Amish Devgan v. Union of India, (2021) 1 SCC 1

“Article 19(1)(a) cannot be pressed into service for defeating the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 as if one claims to right to speech, the others have the right to listen or decline to listen.”

A Division Bench comprising of AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna,* JJ., refused to quash the FIRs registered against News18 Journalist Amish Devgan for using the term “Lootera Chisti” in one of his shows but has granted interim protection to him against arrest subject to his joining and cooperating in investigation till completion of the investigation. Read More

The Court opined that the true test of a valid FIR is only whether the information furnished provides reason to suspect the commission of an offence which the police officer concerned is empowered under Section 156(1) of the Criminal Code to investigate.

“…the FIR registered first in point of time, should be treated as the main FIR and others as statements under Section 162 of the Criminal Code. However, in exceptional cases and for good reasons, it will be open to the High Court or this Court, as the case may be, to treat the subsequently registered FIR as the principal FIR. However, this should not cause any prejudice, inconvenience or harassment to either the victims, witnesses or the person who is accused.” Read More

The Court also made an attempt to define “hate speech” and explain what will invite penal action.

“Dissent and criticism of the elected government’s policy, when puissant, deceptive or even false would be ethically wrong, but would not invite penal action.” Read More

Rajiv Suri v. Delhi Development Authority, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 7

The three-judge Bench comprising of A.M. Khanwilkar*, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna**, JJ., by a 2:1 verdict, held that there is no infirmity in the grant of “no objection” by the Central Vista Committee (CVC) and “approval” by the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) and “prior approval” by the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) to the Central Vista Project and given a go ahead to the Central Vista Project.

“The project does not involve any conversion into private ownership and has no element whatsoever of permitting commercial use of vital public resources. The proposed project is in line with the standards of public trust.”

Justice Sanjiv Khanna dissented with the opinion expressed by A.M. Khanwilkar, J., on the aspects of public participation on interpretation of the statutory provisions, failure to take prior approval of the Heritage Conservation Committee and the order passed by the Expert Appraisal Committee.

Justice Khanna opined that “…mere uploading of the gazette notification giving the present and the proposed land use with plot numbers was not sufficient compliance, but rather an exercise violating the express as well as implied stipulations, that is, necessity and requirement to make adequate and intelligible disclosure.” Read More

Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon Ltd. V. Haryana Mass Rapid Transport Corporation Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 269

The three-judge Bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ., directed Haryana government to deposit Rs. 1,925 crores within three months into an escrow account while hearing a dispute between the state’s urban development authority, HSVP, and infrastructure company IL&FS on the Metro corridor in Gurugram. Read More

*Did You Know? Justice Sanjiv Khanna recused himself from hearing Sajjan Kumar’s appeal in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and he is the one who had dismissed Sajjan Kumar’s bail in the Delhi High Court in 2015.10

Laxmi Singh v. Rekha Singh, (2020) 6 SCC 812

“The principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy whose aim is the achievement of this goal.”

The three-judge Bench of N.V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna* and Krishna Murari, JJ., held that the applicable statutory rules providing for voting on no-confidence motion by secret ballot have binding effect. Hence, re-voting or fresh voting, directed on the no-confidence vote in question, in the facts and circumstances of the case, as the same had not been done by secret ballot. Such re-voting, held, must be by way of secret ballot in accordance with the 1966 Rules.

The Court observed that the primary principle and test to be applied by the courts is purity of election, that is, free and fair election. Secrecy of voting is an adjunct to the principle of purity of election.

“Secrecy is not an absolute principle enshrined in law, but a requirement to subserve the larger public interest of purity of election. Secrecy cannot stand aloof, in isolation or in confrontation to the foundation of free and fair elections.”

Vidya Drolia v. Durga Trading Corporation, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1018

The three-judge Bench comprising of N.V Ramana***, Sanjiv Khanna* and Krishna Murari, JJ., overruled the ratio in Himangni Enterprises v. Kamaljeet Singh Ahluwalia, (2017) 10 SCC 706 wherein it was held that landlord-tenant disputes governed by the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, are not arbitrable as this would be contrary to public policy.

“Landlord-tenant disputes are arbitrable as the Transfer of Property Act does not forbid or foreclose arbitration. However, landlord-tenant disputes covered and governed by rent control legislation would not be arbitrable when specific court or forum has been given exclusive jurisdiction to apply and decide special rights and obligations. Such rights and obligations can only be adjudicated and enforced by the specified court/forum, and not through arbitration.” Read More

Franklin Templeton Trustee Services Private Limited v. Amruta Garg, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 88

In the case relating to winding up of six schemes of the Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund, a division Bench of SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., has, rejecting the objections to poll results, upheld the validity of e-voting process for winding up of mutual fund schemes of Franklin Templeton, and opined that the disbursal of funds to unit holders will continue. The Court held that for the purpose of clause (c) to Regulation 18(15) of the Mutual Fund Regulations, consent of the unit holders would mean consent by majority of the unit holders who have participated in the poll, and not consent of majority of all the unit holders of the scheme. Read more

Vikash Kumar v. Union Public Service Commission, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 84

“In their blooming and blossoming, we all bloom and blossom.”

In the present case, a citizen suffering from a writer’s cramp knocked on the doors of the Apex Court as he was denied a scribe in the civil services examination and the 3-judge Bench comprising of Dr. D.Y Chandrachud*, Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ., held that writer’s cramp can be considered as a disability under Entry IV of the Schedule to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act 2016).

“To confine the facility of a scribe only to those who have Benchmark disabilities would be to deprive a class of persons of their statutorily recognized entitlements. To do so would be contrary to the plain terms as well as the object of the statute.” Read More

Satya Deo v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 809

While upholding conviction of the accused, the Division Bench of SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna*, JJ., set aside the sentence of life imprisonment and held that the 2000 Act would be applicable in a pending proceeding instituted under the 1986 Act in any court or authority, if the person had not completed eighteen years of age as on 1st April 2001, when the 2000 Act came into force. Read More

Harbhajan Singh vs. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1546

The three-judge Bench comprising of NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna* and Krishna Murar, JJ., upheld the constitutional validity of the Punjab Religious Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Recovery) Act, 1997. The Court held that the separate classification of properties of religious institutions for rent legislation will pass the test under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Read More

Manoharan v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 951

“There can be no doubt that today’s judgment is in keeping with the legislature’s realisation that such crimes are on the rise and must be dealt with severely.”

Considering the serious nature of the crime involving rape and murder of 2 children, the three-judge Bench comprising of RF Nariman,* Surya Kant and Sanjiv Khanna,** JJ., with 2:1 verdict upheld the death sentence confirmed by the High Court.

Justice Khanna, while dissenting only on the issue of upholding death sentence confirmed by the High Court, held that the present case does not fall under the category of ‘rarest of rare’ case but would fall within the special category of cases, where the appellant should be directed to suffer sentence for life. Read More

Manoharan v. State, (2020) 5 SCC 782

Dismissing the review petition filed by Appellant to review its 2:1 verdict awarding death sentence, the three-judge Bench of RF Nariman, Surya Kant* and Sanjiv Khanna, * JJ., held that the dissent by one Judge is not a bar for upholding death penalty. The Court held that in the present case the appellant misused societal trust and the crime was not a crime of passion but a well-crafted crime. “The Crime committed by the Appellant were grave and shocked the conscience of this Court and society that we cannot commute the sentence and without any doubt it will fall under rarest of the rare category.” Read More

Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil v. Hon’ble Speaker, Karnataka Legislative Assembly, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1454

The three-judge Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana*, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari, JJ., upheld the then Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R Ramesh Kumar’s decision disqualifying 17 MLAs but struck down the period of disqualification. The Court opined that the Speaker is not empowered to disqualify any member till the end of the term.

“There is a growing trend of the Speaker acting against the constitutional duty of being neutral. Further horse trading and corrupt practices associated with defection and change of loyalty or lure of office or wrong reasons have not abated. Thereby the citizens are denied stable governments. In these circumstances, there is need to consider strengthening certain aspects, so that such undemocratic practices are discouraged and checked.” Read More

*Did You Know?

Notable Judgments at High Court

Kailash Gahlot v. Election Commission of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 8125

The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna* and Chander Shekhar, JJ., while deciding the validity of disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit as ‘parliamentary secretaries’ in the Delhi government by President Ram Nath Kovind, set aside the disqualification on the ground of failing to comply with the principles of natural justice by the Election Commission as the MLAs were not given an oral hearing or an opportunity of being heard.

Wing Commander Arvind Kumar v. Directorate General, BSF, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 10880

The Division Bench comprising of Sanjiv Khanna* and Navin Chawla, JJ., ruled in favour of an Air Force officer on deputation to the BSF Air Wing, enforcing the rule laid down in Group Captain Joe Emmanuel Stephen v. Directorate General of BSF, 2013 SCC OnLine Del 2472, that there cannot be two different pay scales, one applicable to deputationists and the other to the officer of the parent cadre/department when both are performing identical and same duties. Read More

Sterling Agro Industries Ltd. v. Union of India, 2011 SCC OnLine Del 3162

The five-judge Bench of Dipak Misra*, (CJ) and Vikramajit Sen, A.K. Sikri, Sanjiv Khanna and Manmohan, JJ., while deciding a petition challenging the validity of an order dated 9th July, 2010 passed by the Ministry of Finance dismissing its revision application, dealt with a very important question i.e. whether the High Court of Delhi can issue a writ against a person or authority not located within its territories, simply because the quasi-judicial tribunal which passed the impugned order is located within the territorial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court.

The Court held that an order of the appellate authority constitutes a part of cause of action to make the writ petition maintainable in the High Court within whose jurisdiction the appellate authority is situated but, the same may not be the singular factor to compel the High Court to decide the matter on merits. The High Court may refuse to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction by invoking the doctrine of forum conveniens.

Nand Kishore Garg v. Govt. (NCT of Delhi), 2011 SCC OnLine Del 2366

The division Bench of Dipak Misra*, (CJ) and Sanjiv Khanna, J., while disposing of a petition that demanded implementation of the tariff order passed by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), directed the Commission to proceed afresh by following the due procedure and do the needful.

The Court observed that, the Commission under the 2003 Act is required to deal with the aspect of tariff determination with intellectual integrity, transparent functionalism and normative objectivity and not act in a manner by which its functioning invite doubt with regard to its credibility.

Rajinder Jaina v. Central Information Commission, 2009 SCC OnLine Del 3511

Sanjiv Khanna*, J., while deciding the writ petition challenging the disclosure on grounds of infringement of the right to privacy, held that the information already existed in the public domain therefore no claims as to privacy could be made.

The Court applied the ratio laid down in Raj Gopal v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1994) 6 SCC 632, whereby the Court held that once a matter becomes an issue of public record, no privacy can be claimed for it.

Union of India v. Central Information Commission, 2009 SCC OnLine Del 3876

While dealing with yet another case related to refusal of the Central Information Commission to divulge information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 and involving an interpretation of S. 8(1)(i), Sanjiv Khanna*, J., held that the purpose of the proviso is only to clarify that while deciding the question of larger public interest i.e., the question of balance between ‘public interest in form of right to privacy’ and ‘public interest in access to information’ is to be balanced.

“The proviso is a guiding factor and not a substantive provision which overrides Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. It does not undo or rewrite Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and does not itself create any new right.”

1. Assn. for Democratic Reforms v. Union of India, (2024) 243 Comp Cas 115

2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sanjiv-khanna-surprise-promotion/article26100824.ece

3. Supra

4. https://main.sci.gov.in/chief-justice-judges.

5. 2023050167.pdf (s3waas.gov.in)

6. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/archive/nation/news-detail-715379.

7. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/ignoring-elevation-row-centre-appoints-justice-sanjiv-khanna-of-delhi-hc-as-sc-judge-1925928.html

8. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cji-succession-line-key-to-justice-sanjiv-khanna-s-elevation/story-5tOCtBTNu7iWJFVlMMIEmM.html

9. https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-justice-sanjiv-khanna-sits-in-his-uncle-s-court-portrait-in-backdrop-2709576

10. https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2019/02/26/justice-sanjiv-khanna-recuses-himself-from-hearing-sajjan-kumars-appeal-in-1984-anti-sikh-riots-case/

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