Justice BV Nagarathna: Igniting hope for the first ever woman Chief Justice of India
Know thy Judge

“Our country India, or Bharat, is not just a piece in history or geography. It is a nation of over a billion people with over a billion dreams. I have often wondered what binds us together despite the innumerable diversities. It is my firm conviction that one of the binding factors is the Indian Constitution — a legal system committed to rule of law and an organized hierarchy of courts with a Supreme Court at the apex” – Justice B V Nagarathna 1

Early Life and Education2

Justice Bangalore Venkataramiah Nagarathna was born on October 30, 1962, and is currently serving in the Supreme Court of India. She is the daughter of the late Chief Justice of India, E. S. Venkataramiah.

She attended the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in New Delhi for her formal education. She graduated from Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, with a B.A. in history in 1984. Later, she went on to the Campus Law Center, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, where she obtained a law degree.

Did You know? Justice E.S. Venkataramiah, Justice Nagarathna’s father, served as India’s 19th Chief Justice. He was appointed on June 19, 1989, and he served until retirement on December 17, 1989

Career Trajectory 3

Justice Nagarathna became a member of the Karnataka Bar Council in October 28, 1987, and worked as a constitutional and commercial lawyer in Bangalore, including insurance law, service law, administrative and public law, law pertaining to land and rent laws, family law, conveyancing & drafting of contracts and agreements, arbitration and conciliation until being chosen in February 18, 2008, to serve as an additional judge on the Karnataka High Court.

On February 17, 2010, she was selected to serve as a permanent judge. A number of commentators noted that Justice Nagarathna’s potential nomination to the Supreme Court of India in May 2020 would put her in the race to become the first female Chief Justice of the Indian Supreme Court. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of India on August 26, 2021, and took the oath of office on August 31, 2021.

Did You Know? On September 25th, 2027, she is expected to become India’s 54th Chief Justice and will hold the post for 36 days.

Her Notable Judgments as a Judge 4

In High Court

[Preventive Detention] Karnataka HC | Non-consideration of representation at the earliest opportunity could lead to release of detenu; Guidelines/Directions issued

A Division Bench of B V Nagarathna and Hanchate Sanjeev Kumar, JJ. held that it is settled law that an order of preventive detention is made on the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority. The Act also provides for revocation or modification of the order of detention. Such a power could be exercised suo motu by the State. It is a power coupled with the duty when it is exercised on the detenu under Section 14 of the Act is a right of the detenu and a corresponding duty is cast on the State Government, then administrative delay cannot imperil the said right. Inordinate delay in considering the said representation could lead to release of the detenu. Even though Section 14 does not prescribe any time limit for consideration of the said representation, the same must be considered at the earliest point of time.

[Rizwan Pasha v. Commissioner of Police, Writ Petition Habeas Corpus No.29 of 2021, decided on 15-06-2021]

“There can be illegitimate parents, but no illegitimate children.” Karnataka HC analyses whether a ‘son’ born out of void marriage be considered for compassionate appointment

A Division Bench of B.V Nagarathna and Hanchate Sanjeev Kumar, JJ. allowed the petition and remarked:

“no child is born in this world without a father and a mother. A child has no role to play in his/her birth.”Read More

[K Santhosha v. Karnataka Power Transmission, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 12989 , decided on 24-06-2021]

Karnataka High Court| Whether the accused is entitled to bail in case the mandate under Section 35 of the POCSO Act has not been completed?

A Division Bench of B. V. Nagarathna and M.G. Uma JJ. held that the accused does not have a right to seek bail for the reason that the mandate under Section 35 of the POCSO Act has not been completed. Read more

[Hanumantha Mogaveera v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 12300 , decided on 23-04-2021]

[MV Act] Karnataka HC│Necessary permits for running the business of bike taxis as transport vehicles: Can’t decide on this an emerging concept before application of mind by State on all aspects

A Division Bench of B.V. Nagarathna and J.M. Khazi disposed of the appeal and laid the observations herein under Read More

[Ani Technologies v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 11972 , decided on 05-04-2021]

Karnataka High Court | Koladamatt not entitled to registration of occupancy rights over disputed land

A Division Bench comprising of B.V. Nagarathna and Jyoti Mulimani, JJ. reversed a 1993 order, holding that all titles, rights and interests of the Koladamatt over the land in question had been extinguished by a government notification which vested the land in the State Government following the Mutt’s failure to make an application to get registered as an applicant. Read More

[S. M. Kannappa Automobiles v. Koladamatt Mahasamsthana, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 964 , decided on 29-07-2020]

Karnataka High Court | Journalists & other media personnel are on the field to disseminate correct information just like police, doctors, nurses & government personnel carrying out essential duties

A Division Bench of B.V. Nagarathna and Suraj Govindaraj, JJ., while addressing petition held that,

“Role of journalists and media personnel cannot be underestimated nor undermined during this pandemic and just like the police doctors, nurses, and Government personnel and others carrying out essential duties, in the same way, the journalists and other media personnel are on the field to disseminate correct information.” Read More

[Jacob George v. Secy., Department of Information and Broadcasting, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 541, decided on 15-05-2020]

Did you Know? Justice Nagarathna happens to be the longest-serving female judge in the State of Karnataka 5

In Supreme Court

Order 6 Rule 17 CPC: Doctrine of dominus litus for amendment of plaint

The Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., explained the legal propositions governing Order 6 Rule 17 and Order 1 Rule 10 of the Civil Procedure Code for amendment of the plaint. Read More

[Asian Hotels (North) Ltd. v. Alok Kumar Lodha, (2022) 8 SCC 145 , decided on 12-07-2022]

Make way for the outsiders: Compassionate Appointment cannot be extended to heirs of the retiring employees, holds Supreme Court

In a case where the Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika/ Municipal Corporation was giving appointment to the heirs of the employees on their superannuation and/or retirement, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that such appointment is contrary to the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate grounds and is hit by Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Read more

[Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika v. Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika Kamgar Union, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1154 , decided on 05.09.2022]

If a High Court converts itself into Executing Court it will be flooded with writ petitions to execute arbitral awards

While adjudicating an appeal relating to arbitration, the Division Bench of M. R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that by entertaining the petition under Article 226 for executing an arbitral award, the High Court had virtually converted itself into Executing Court. Read more

[NHAI v. Sheetal Jaidev Vade, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1070 , decided on 24-08-2022]

Financial crunch a valid ground to fix cut-off date for granting actual benefit of revision of pension/pay; Rule 3(3) of Tripura State Civil Services (Revised Pension) Rules, 2009 constitutional

The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that the financial crunch/financial constraint due to additional financial burden is a valid ground to fix a cut-off date for the purpose of granting the actual benefit of revision of pension/pay. Read more

[State of Tripura v. Anjana Bhattacharjee, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1071 , decided on 24.08.2022]

Disinvesting of Hindustan Zinc Ltd.; SC smells irregularities in bidding process, directs full-fledged CBI enquiry in the matter

The Division Bench comprising of Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud* and B V Nagarathna, JJ., partly allowed the petition challenging Union Government’s disinvestment of its shareholding in Hindustan Zinc Ltd. (HZL). The Bench, though held that the government was within its powers to disinvest its shares, it was of the opinion that a full-fledged CBI enquiry was required regarding previous disinvestment by the government. The Bench stated,

“There is no bar on the constitutional power of this Court to direct the CBI to register a regular case, in spite of its decision to close a preliminary enquiry.”Read more

[National Confederation of Officers Association of Central Public Sector Enterprises v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1086 , decided on 18-11-2021]

Judgment Debtor’s right under Rule 60 of Second Schedule of Income Tax Act a valuable right to save his property; cannot be taken away on technical ground or bona fide mistake for which he is not at fault:

The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that the right available to the judgment debtor under Rule 60 of the Second Schedule of the Income Tax Act, 1961 is a valuable right and the last resort/opportunity to the judgment debtor to save his property and should not be affected on the technical ground and/or for the mistake and/or the bona fide mistake for which he was not at all responsible. Read More

[RS Infra-Transmission Ltd v. Saurinindubhai Patel, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 854, decided on 11.07.2022]

Ready Reckoner Price cannot be the basis for determining compensation for land acquisition: SC declares Bombay HC’s decision per incuriam

While reversing the impugned decision of the Bombay High Court, M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that the prices mentioned in the Ready Reckoner cannot be the basis for determining compensation for the land acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Read more

[BSNL v. Nemichand Damodardas, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 815 , decided on 11-07-2022]

Twin conditions of furnishing declaration within time limit “mandatory” for exemption relief under Section 10B (8) of IT Act

The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has rejected the view taken by the Karnataka High Court and ITAT, Bangalore that the requirement of furnishing a declaration under Section 10B (8) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act) is mandatory, but the time limit within which the declaration is to be filed is not mandatory but is directory. The Court held that the assessee shall not be entitled to the benefit under Section 10B (8) of the IT Act on noncompliance of the twin conditions as provided under Section 10B (8) of the IT Act. Read More

[CIT v. Wipro Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 831 , decided on 11-07-2022]

Pay on a par with last drawn pay on reemployment in Government Service? Not a matter of right, holds Supreme Court

In a case where the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ was posed with the question as to whether on re­employment in the government service, an employee who was serving in the Indian Army/in the Armed Forces shall be entitled to his pay scales at par with his last drawn pay, it has been held that a claim for the last drawn pay in the armed forces is not a matter of right. Read More

[Union of India v. Anil Prasad, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 665 , decided on 20.05.2022]

Land Acquisition| Compensation under 2013 Act cannot be claimed if award under 1894 Act couldn’t be passed due to pendency of proceedings or interim stay

The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that in a case where on the date of commencement of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, no award has been declared under Section 11 of the Act, 1894, due to the pendency of any proceedings and/or the interim stay granted by the Court, such landowners shall not be entitled to the compensation under Section 24(1) of the Act, 2013 and they shall be entitled to the compensation only under the Act, 1894. Read More

[Faizabad-Ayodhya Development Authority v. Dr. Rajesh Kumar Pandey, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 679 , decided on 20.05.2022]

Nature of offence under Section 63 of Copyright Act – Cognizable or Non-cognizable?

In a case where the Trial Court had held that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable offence but the Delhi High Court took a contrary view, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has reversed the finding of the Delhi High Court and held that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable offence. Read More

[Knit Pro International v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 668 , decided on 20.05.2022]

Insurance companies refusing claims on flimsy/technical grounds must stop! Don’t ask for documents that insured can’t produce

In a case where an Insurance Company had refused to settle an insurance claim on non-submission of the duplicate certified copy of certificate of registration of the stolen vehicle, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that while settling the claims, the insurance company should not be too technical and ask for the documents, which the insured is not in a position to produce due to circumstances beyond his control. Read More

[Gurmel Singh v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 666 , decided on 20.05.2022]

Male Head Constable enters Mahila Barrack at 00:15 hours; is punishment of removal from service too harsh? SC tells what makes the punishment disproportionate

The Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., affirmed impugned judgment of the Gauhati High Court whereby the High Court had reversed the findings of the Single judge who had interfered with the order of disciplinary authority and remanded the matter for re-consideration. Read More

[Anil Kumar Upadhyay v. Director General, SSB, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 478 , decided on 20-04-2022]

Right to residence under DV Act not restricted to actual residence; Domestic relationship not necessary to be subsisting at the time of filing of application

The bench of MR Shah and BV Nagarathna*, JJ has answered three important questions pertaining to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (D.V. Act) and has expanded the scope of the Act by holding that,

  1. Even in the absence of a Domestic Incident Report, a Magistrate is empowered to pass both ex-parte or interim as well as a final order under the provisions of the D.V. Act.
  2. The expression ‘right to reside in the shared household’ would include not only actual residence but also constructive residence in the shared household.
  3. It is not necessary that at the time of filing of an application by an aggrieved person, the domestic relationship should be subsisting. Read More

[Prabha Tyagi v. Kamlesh Devi, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 607 , decided on 12.05.2022]

It isn’t the purpose of grace marks to allow reserved category candidate to switch over to general category

The Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., reversed the impugned order of the Rajasthan High Court whereby the High Court had directed Income Tax Department to grant grace marks to the applicant and treat him as a person belonging to general category. Read More

[Union of India v. Mukesh Kumar Meena, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 525 , decided on 28-04-2022]

Insertion of meritorious OBC candidates into general category list without disturbing the appointment of general category candidates? Supreme Court strikes balance

In a service matter where upon reshuffling and on insertion of two OBC candidates into general category select list, two general category candidates already appointed and working since long would have been expelled or removed, thereby unsettling the entire selection process, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to do complete justice to all the candidates involved. Read More

[Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. Sandeep Choudhary, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 524 , decided on 28.04.2022]

Even a single crime committed by a ‘Gang’ is sufficient to prosecute an accused under the Gangsters Act

In a case where it was argued before the Court that an accused cannot be prosecuted under the Gangsters Act, 1986 for a single offence/FIR/charge sheet with respect to any of the antisocial activities mentioned in Section 2(b), the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that even a single crime committed by a ‘Gang’ is sufficient to implant Gangsters Act on such members of the ‘Gang’. Read More

[Shraddha Gupta v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 514 , decided on 26.04.2022]

Producing false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct; Dismissal of service justified in such cases

In a case where an employee had produced a fake certificate for seeking employment, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that producing the false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct and dismissal of service is a justified punishment in such cases. Read More

[Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. v. Rajendra D. Harmalkar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 486 , decided on 21.04.2022]

Candidates can’t claim appointment to unfilled posts in absence of provision for waiting list

The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that as per Rule 16 of the Andhra Pradesh Direct Recruitment for the post of Teachers (Scheme of Selection) Rules, 2012, a candidate does not have right to claim any appointment to the post which remained unfilled in absence of provision for waiting list. Read More

[Vallampati Sathish Babu v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 470 , decided on 19.04.2022]

Income Tax| If such orders continued to be passed, we will impose substantial costs on Assessing Officer which will be recovered from his/her salary

The Division Bench comprising of M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., stayed the impugned order of Bombay High Court wherein the High Court had quashed the assessment order under Income Tax Act, 1961 and had further cautioned that if such orders continued to be passed, the Court will be constrained to impose substantial costs on the concerned Assessing Officer to be recovered from his/her salary.

[National Faceless Assessment Centre v. Mantra Industries Ltd., Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 4906 of 2022, decided on 11-04-2022]

Land owners cannot claim acquisition proceeding is lapsed u/s. 24(2) of Right to Fair Compensation Act where stay was obtained by them vide interim orders

The Division Bench comprising of M. R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., reversed the impugned judgment of Karnataka High Court holding that land owners who approach the acquisition proceedings and obtain interim orders in their favour cannot take benefit under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Read More

[Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee v. State of Karnataka, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 342 , decided on 22-03-2022]

Appointment of Teachers| Can obtaining a degree in one branch of a subject be considered equivalent to obtaining degree in the subject as a whole?

In the case where the Court was posed with the question as to whether the degrees obtained by the respective petitioners in one branch of History can be said to be obtaining a degree in History, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that once the Expert Committee has opined that the degrees obtained by the candidates in one branch of History cannot be said to be obtaining the degree in History as a whole, the Court cannot go against such finding. Read More

[Indresh Kumar Mishra v. State of Jharkhand, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 449, decided on 13.04.2022]

Lapse of a long period in deciding appeal cannot be a ground to award disproportionate and inadequate punishment

The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that merely because a long period has lapsed by the time the appeal is decided cannot be a ground to award the punishment which is disproportionate and inadequate. Read More

[State of Rajasthan v. Banwari Lal, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 428 , decided on 08.04.2022]

Can employees appointed for fixed period in temporary unit be absorbed/regularised by creating supernumerary posts?

In the case where the Gujarat High Court had ordered the absorption of persons employed in a temporary unit, by creating supernumerary posts, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that no such direction can be issued by the High Court for absorption/regularisation of the employees who were appointed in a temporary unit which was created for a particular project and that too, by creating supernumerary posts. Read More

[State of Gujarat v. RJ Pathan, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1951 OF 2022, decided on 24.03.2022]

Did You Know? From 2008 until 2021, Justice Nagarathna presided as a judge on the Karnataka High Court. She came to the attention of the public in 2009 after being violently arrested inside the grounds of the Karnataka High Court by a group of protesting attorneys.6

“A prudent insurer has to gauge possible risks”; Insurer can’t repudiate mediclaim alleging pre-existing illness where policy was issued after considering necessary medical records

The Division Bench of Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna*, JJ., held that if on the consideration of the medical report, the insurance company gets satisfied about the medical condition of the proposer and that there was no risk of pre-existing illness, and on such satisfaction, it issues the policy, it cannot thereafter, contend that there was a possible pre-existing illness or sickness which has led to the claim made by the insured and for that reason repudiate the claim. Read More

[Manmohan Nanda v. United India Assurance Co. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1181 , decided on 06-12-2021]

Allotment of Government Largesse| Discretionary quota inevitably leads to corruption, nepotism, favouritism. Time to do away with it

Noticing that the allotment of government largesse on the basis of discretionary quota inevitably leads to corruption, nepotism and favouritism, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has suggested that discretionary quota should be done away with, and allotments of the public properties/plots must be through public auction by and large. Read More

[State of Orissa v. Pratima Mohanty, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1222 , decided on 11.12.2021]

No borrower can claim benefit of One Time Settlement Scheme as a right; Can’t encourage dishonest borrowers

In a major relief to Banks, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that no borrower can, as a matter of right, pray for grant of benefit of One Time Settlement Scheme (OTS Scheme) as,

“If it is held that the borrower can still, as a matter of right, pray for benefit under the OTS Scheme, in that case, it would be giving a premium to a dishonest borrower, who, despite the fact that he is able to make the payment and the fact that the bank is able to recover the entire loan amount even by selling the mortgaged/secured properties, either from the borrower and/or guarantor. This is because under the OTS Scheme a debtor has to pay a lesser amount than the actual amount due and payable under the loan account. Such cannot be the intention of the bank while offering OTS Scheme and that cannot be purpose of the Scheme which may encourage such a dishonesty.”Read More

[Bijnor Urban Cooperative Bank Limited v. Meenal Agarwal, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1255 , decided on 15.12.2021]

Three death row convicts to walk free as SC finds them “not guilty” of murdering six family members

In a big relief for three death row convicts, the 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has acquitted all of them of charges of killing 6 members of their family after it was found that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. Read More

[Jaikam Khan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1256 , decided on 15.12.2021]

Determination of Pension to be governed by the rule as it existed at the time of joining or the rule in force at the time of retirement?

The Division Bench of M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna*, JJ., held that the action of the selectively applying the proviso to Rule 25(a) in relation to one person, while not applying the said proviso in relation to similarly situated persons, is arbitrary and therefore illegal. The Bench stated,

“We accept the settled position of law that the rule applicable in matters of determination of pension is that which exists at the time of retirement, we are unable to find any legal basis in the action of the respondent University of selectively allowing the benefit of Rule 25 (a).”Read More

[G. Sadasivan Nair v. Cochin University of Science and Technology, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1155 , decided on 01-12-2021]

SC awards 30 years RI to man who killed 2 brothers & nephew; Finds imposition of death penalty on the day of conviction itself, wrong

In a case where the trial court had convicted the accused and imposed death penalty on the very same day, the 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has converted the death sentence to life imprisonment after noticing that the trial court as well as the High Court has only taken into consideration the crime but have not taken into consideration the criminal, his state of mind, his socioeconomic background etc. Read More

[Bhagchandra v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1209 , decided on 09.12.2021]

Right to promotion is not considered to be a fundamental right but consideration for promotion has now been evolved as a fundamental right

The 3-Judges Bench comprising of D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., set aside the seniority list prepared by the Department of Minor Irrigation, U.P. on finding the list to be in contravention of statutory mandate. The Bench stated,

“The Appointing Authority ought to have prepared a combined merit list based upon the performance or the proficiency on the basis of the marks received in the selection test as prepared by the Commission; otherwise, it would amount to denial of the right of consideration for promotion to a more meritorious candidate as against a candidate having lesser merit.”Read More

[Ajay Kumar Shukla v. Arvind Rai, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1195 , decided on 08-12-2021]

Can ITAT recall an order while exercising powers under Section 254(2) of the Income Tax Act?

Explaining the scope of jurisdiction of ITAT, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that the powers under Section 254(2) of the Income Tax Act are only to correct and/or rectify the mistake apparent from the record and not beyond that. Read More

[Commissioner of Income Tax v. Reliance Telecom Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1170 , decided on 03.12.2021]

Contractual bar on interest doesn’t only bar the parities from claiming it but also the Arbitrator from awarding it

The Division Bench comprising of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that where it is specifically barred in the contract, the Arbitrator cannot award any interest pendente lite or future interest on the amounts due and payable to the contractor under the contract. Rejecting the claim of the respondent that the government having claimed interest itself could not oppose the same, the Bench stated,

“Even if the government would have been awarded interest, the same also was not permissible and could have been a subject matter of challenge. In short, there cannot be an estoppel against law.”Read More

[Union of India v. Manraj Enterprises, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1081 , decided on 18-11-2021]

HC quashes proceedings based on “draft charge-sheet” yet to be placed before Magistrate! Clear abuse of S. 482 CrPC, holds SC

In a case where the Gujarat High Court had quashed criminal proceedings at the behest of persons who were not named in the FIR purely on the basis of their names appearing in the draft charge-sheet, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has found it to be a “clear abuse” of High Court’s jurisdiction under Section 482 of the CrPC. The Court noticed that the High Court cannot place reliance on a “draft charge-sheet” which is yet to be placed before the Magistrate to quash the criminal proceedings under Section 482. Read More

[Jitul Jentilal Kotecha v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1045 , decided on 12.11.2021]

National Security Act| Delay in considering representation; non-communication of rejection strike at the heart of fundamental rights of detenu

In a case where the Government caused unreasonable delay in considering the representation and thereafter failed to communicate the rejection to a person detained under Section 3(2) of National Security Act 1980 (NSA), the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Vikram Seth and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that the procedural rights of the detenu emanating from Article 22 of the Constitution and Section 8 of the NSA were not sufficiently protected in the present case.

“The State Government cannot expect this Court to uphold its powers of subjective satisfaction to detain a person, while violating the procedural guarantees of the detenu that are fundamental to the laws of preventive detention enshrined in the Constitution.”Read More

[Sarabjeet Singh Mokha v. District Magistrate, Jabalpur, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1019 , decided on 29.10.2021]

Karnataka High Court calls person committing suicide a ‘weakling’! Don’t diminish the gravity of mental health issues, says SC

In a case where the Single Judge of Karnataka High Court had termed person committing suicide a ‘weakling’ and also made observations on how the behavior of the deceased before he committed suicide was not that of a person who is depressed and suffering from mental health issues, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that such observations describing the manner in which a depressed person ought to have behaved deeply diminishes the gravity of mental health issues and that,

“The mental health of a person cannot be compressed into a one size fits all approach.”Read More

[Mahendra KC v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1021 , decided on 29.10.2021]

Nomenclature of a Tax does not determine the nature of the levy or its true character

The 3-judg bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Vikram Nath and BV Nagarathna, JJ has upheld the validity of Sections 52 (1)(a), Section 55(b)(1) and Section 56 of the UP Water Supply and Sewerage Act, 1975 and has held that the levy under Section 52 falls squarely under the ambit of Entry 49 of List II as it is in the nature of a tax and not a fee. The Court also went on to hold that the levy which is imposed under Section 52 is a tax on lands and buildings within the meaning of Entry 49 of List II. Read More

[Jalkal Vibhag Nagar Nigam v. Pradeshiya Industrial and Investment Corporation, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 960 , decided on 22.10.2021]

IBC and Limitation| Words “order is made available to the aggrieved party” consciously omitted from Section 61(1)&(2): SC. Read why

Dealing with the question as to ) when will the clock for calculating the limitation period run for proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Vikram Nath and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that Sections 61(1) and (2) of the IBC consciously omit the requirement of limitation being computed from when the “order is made available to the aggrieved party”, in contradistinction to Section 421(3) of the Companies Act.

“… the omission of the words “from the date on which the order is made available” for the purposes of computation of limitation in Section 61(2) of the IBC, is a consistent signal of the intention of the legislature to nudge the parties to be proactive and facilitate timely resolution.”Read More

[V. Nagarajan v. SKS Ispat and Power Ltd, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 959 , decided on 22.10.2021]

‘Furlough not a legal right’: Supreme Court explains difference between Parole and furlough

The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has formulated “broad, general” principles governing rules for granting parole and furlough, holding that parole and furlough are distinct in nature and that although furlough can be claimed without a reason, the prisoner does not have an absolute legal right to claim furlough. Read More

[State of Gujarat v. Narayana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 949 , decided on 20.10.2021]

Principles governing power of Courts to direct Retrial and Joint Trial, as laid down by Supreme Court

The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Vikram Nath and BV Nagarathna, JJ has lucidly laid down the principles governing the power of the Courts to direct re-trial, Joint Trial and Separate trial and has held retrial and joint trial can be ordered only in exceptional circumstances. Read More

[[Nasib Singh v. State of Punjab, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 924 , decided on 08.10.2021]

Explained| Is Preliminary Enquiry mandatory in all corruption cases?

The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Vikram Nath and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that a Preliminary Enquiry is not mandatory in all cases which involve allegations of corruption.

The Court said that in case the information received by the CBI, through a complaint or a “source information”, discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, it can directly register a Regular Case instead of conducting a Preliminary Enquiry, where the officer is satisfied that the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence. Read More

[CBI v. Thommandru Hannah Vijayalakshmi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 923 , 08.10.2021]

Explained| Law on grant on bail in NDPS cases

The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has elaborately discussed the principles governing the grant of bail, especially in cases under the NDPS Act and has held that,

“… the test which the High Court and this Court are required to apply while granting bail is whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused has not committed an offence and whether he is likely to commit any offence while on bail. Given the seriousness of offences punishable under the NDPS Act and in order to curb the menace of drug-trafficking in the country, stringent parameters for the grant of bail under the NDPS Act have been prescribed.”Read More

[Union of India v. Md. Nawaz Khan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 782 , decided on 22.09.2021]

Few Notable Judgments during COVID-19

[Coronavirus] Kar HC | State Govt. response sought on incident wherein doctors, nurses, ASHA workers assaulted; breach of social distancing guidelines, held in a marriage ceremony at a political leader’s house

A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathna, J., asked for the State Government’s response with regard to breach of social distancing norms at a political leader’s house, incident of assault on doctors, nurses and ASHA workers and action being taken on the complaints filed with respect to domestic violence. Read More

[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 442, decided on 21-04-2020]

COVID 19 | Kar HC | Media to ensure that Court’s order are not misinterpreted or misquoted; Voluntary organisations can distribute food while following social distancing

A Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, CJ and and B.V. Nagarathna, J. while dealing with certain issues amid COVID 19 outbreak, noted a very significant point, that,

“media must ensure that no part of the stand taken by the State Government or no part of the orders passed by this Court should be misinterpreted or misquoted” Read More

[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, WP No. 6435 of 2020, decided on 13-04-2020]

COVID-19 | Kar HC | State Govt. to file response in petition for protection, salary payment and statutory benefits to medical practitioners and ASHA workers

A Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathna, J. while addressing the present petition asked the State Government to file response with regard to two issues:

  • failure to protect the registered medical practitioners, workers and ASHA workers and other accredited and non-accredited health workers.
  • Provision of salary payment and statutory benefits to the medicare personnel and ASHA workers Read More

[Dr Rajeev Ramesh Gothe v. State of Karnataka, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 426, decided on 07-04-2020]

Corona Virus | Kar HC | State Govt. to take cognizance on issues like provision of — Supply of hot meal to pregnant women, lactating mothers, malnutritioned children & needy people

A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathna, J. asked the State Government of Karnataka to take cognizance on various significant issues that have been raised in wake of the outbreak of Corona Virus.

Bench while addressing the present petition, appealed the members of the Bar and citizens to not file more PILs with the issues being considered in the present petition. Read More

[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 391 , decided on 30-03-2020]

Kar HC | Court enunciates guidelines for disqualification of directors; demarcates boundaries, crossing which, it would be rendered bad in law

B.V. Nagarathna, J., disposed of the petitions seeking the provisions of Sections 164(2) and 167(1)(a) and the proviso to Section 167(1)(a) of the Companies Act, 2013, to be held unconstitutional. Read More

[Yashodhara Shroff v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 682 , decided on 12-06-2017]

COVID-19 | Kar HC | Release of information regarding people contracting COVID-19 at Nizamuddin religious ceremony a policy decision; Court declines to interfere

A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathna, J. while addressing a petition with regard to release of information of people who contracted COVID-19 at Nizamuddin, Delhi, stated that,

It is a policy decision and Court cannot interfere in the same. Read More

[Girish Bharadwaj v. State of Karnataka, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 445, decided on 21-04-2020]

Coronavirus | Kar HC | Decision to open super markets 24×7 is a policy decision; Nothing per se illegal in allowing BMTC buses to transport people connected with essential services

A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathna, J., while addressing a petition held that,

“…decision to keep open super markets 24×7 relates to purely a policy decision and nothing arbitrary in the said policy decision is found.”Read More

[Sandhya U. Prabhu v. State of Karnataka, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 441, decided on 21-04-2020]

Did you know? Once Justice Nagarathna takes the top post, it will be the first father-daughter duo to be Chief Justices of India, besides being the first father-daughter duo to be judges of the Supreme Court.7

Interesting insights given by Justice Nagarathna about Legal Reporting- Read here

To watch the whole video of the SCC Pre 69 Launch- Click here

†Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant, has put this report together.


1. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/maintaining-credibility-of-judicial-system-biggest-challenge-before-us-karnataka-hc-chief-justice-at-farewell-7474662/

2. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/top-karnataka-stories/b-v-nagarathna-the-new-supreme-court-judge-with-roots-in-mandya-village-1023838.html

3. https://karnatakajudiciary.kar.nic.in/bio_data/former_judges/bvnj.htm

4. https://www.scconline.com/blog/search/B%20V%20Nagarathna

5. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/supreme-court-official-who-took-justice-bv-nagarathna-to-school-as-child-now-senior-staff-2523805

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._V._Nagarathna

7. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/supreme-court-official-who-took-justice-bv-nagarathna-to-school-as-child-now-senior-staff-2523805

New releasesNews

SCC Pre 69 Volumes were released by the Chief Justice of India, Justice NV Ramana on August 10, 2022 at The Claridges, New Delhi.  Justice BV Nagarathna, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Mr Arvind P Datar, Senior Advocate were the special guests for the evening.  

The event also witnessed the presence of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Vikram Nath, Justice JK Maheshwari, Justice CT Ravi Kumar and Justice AK Sikri, sitting and former Judges of the Supreme Court of India. Justice Rajiv Shakdher, Judge, Delhi High Court, Justice KK Lahoti, Former Acting Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court and Senior Advocates Siddharth Luthra and Neeraj Kishan Kaul, members of the Editorial Board of SCC were also present for the event.  Messages by Mr KK Venugopal, Attorney General for India, Mr Abhishek Singhvi, MP and Senior Advocate and Mr KK Viswanathan, Senior Advocate were read out by Mr Sumeet Malik, Associate Editor, SCC during the release as they could not make it because of bad health.  


Over a period of time, Supreme Court Cases has earned an enviable reputation of being the most accurate and reliable reporting of law in India. This reputation has been painstakingly built over years of hard work and quality control. Eastern Book Company, the parent company of SCC, was established in 1942 by Mr. CL Malik and PL Malik and the baton to lead the organisation was subsequently passed on to Mr Surendra Malik. Over the span of 50 years, he has held a tight leash over the quality of law reports and digests produced by EBC. So particular is Mr Malik about his workmanship, that every single judgment published by SCC has 27 copy-editing inputs in order to make it as readable and user-friendly as possible. It can be safely said that till a couple of years ago he had read almost every judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India. Today  EBC, under his stewardship and of Mr. Sudeep Malik, Associate Editor, SCC, has embarked on reporting and publishing Supreme Court judgments since the inception of the Supreme Court.  


Chief Justice NV Ramana after releasing the volumes congratulated SCC and EBC and stated that what they had achieved was owing to the hard work and contribution of three generations of the Malik family. He stressed on the need for accurate reporting of judgments and court proceedings. “There is a need for accurate reporting. Otherwise people are confused. Majority reports don’t know what is order, proceedings, judgment, oral observations. It is very unfortunate. Suppose a judge asks a negative question, immediately it is reported, he said. He implored upon Mr Surendra Malik, Chief Editor, SCC to start a daily reporting service for accurate reporting of judgments since SCC has the expertise to be able to do it. His Lordship was informed of the SCC Online Blog which already carries analytical reports of judgements delivered.  

The Chief Justice requested the judges’ fraternity to focus on simplicity in judgments where the ratio  and decision is clear. The Chief Justice emphasised  that the reporting of law judgements is necessary because the people of India should be aware of their constitutional rights. He also implored that focus should be on making law reports reasonably priced and in regional languages. His Lordship’s speech can be viewed here:

Justice BV Nagarathna on the occasion of the release of the SCC Pre 69 volumes stated that the series is highly relevant from a historical and academic point of view.  She suggested to  SCC to venture further in the history of legal reporting in India.  She applauded SCC for well edited and annotated legal reporting and for improving the accessibility of law to the public. Mr Arvind P Datar, while speaking at the launch, said that SCC Online is perhaps the most user friendly database for legal research. Mr. Sudeep Malik, Associate Editor, SCC emphasized on the importance of pre 69 volumes by stating that “Life of the law of precedents is not binding precedents, but persuasion.”  

Supreme Court Cases™ (SCC™), the most cited law report will now commence from 1950. Reporting for the years 1950 to 1968 will be completed over the next five years. Judgments for this period will be head-noted with the same hallmark quality for which SCC™ is now known for and will have some unique features. Some judgments hereto delivered by the Supreme Court never reported before, find their place in this report series. 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where an employee had produced a fake certificate for seeking employment, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that producing the false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct and dismissal of service is a justified punishment in such cases.

The respondent in the present case was originally appointed as a casual employee with the Indian Oil Corporation. He was later regularized as a Helper after presenting a fake Secondary School Leaving Certificate. The disciplinary authority imposed a punishment of dismissal from service on him. However, the Bombay High Court directed reinstatement of the respondent without any back wages and other benefits.

The respondent had submitted before the Court that he pleaded guilty and admitted that he had submitted a forged and fake certificate on the assurance that lesser punishment will be imposed.  However, the Supreme Court found that except the bald statement, there is no further evidence on the same. Nothing has been mentioned on record as to who gave him such an assurance.

The Court observed that,

“The question is one of a TRUST. How can an employee who has produced a fake and forged marksheet/certificate, that too, at the initial stage of appointment be trusted by the employer? Whether such a certificate was material or not and/or had any bearing on the employment or not is immaterial. The question is not of having an intention or mens rea. The question is producing the fake/forged certificate. Therefore, in our view, the Disciplinary Authority was justified in imposing the punishment of dismissal from service.”

The Court also observed that no specific reasoning was given by the High Court on how the punishment imposed by the Disciplinary Authority could be said to be shockingly disproportionate to the misconduct proved.

“As per the settled position of law, unless and until it is found that the punishment imposed by the Disciplinary Authority is shockingly disproportionate and/or there is procedural irregularity in conducting the inquiry, the High Court would not be justified in interfering with the order of punishment   imposed by the Disciplinary Authority which as such is a prerogative of the Disciplinary Authority.”

Holding that the High Court exceeded in its jurisdiction in interfering with the order of punishment imposed by the Disciplinary Authority, the Court observed that in the facts and circumstances of the case and for the reasons stated above and considering the charge and misconduct of producing the fake and false SSLC Certificate proved, when a conscious decision was taken by the Disciplinary Authority to dismiss him from service, the same could not have been interfered with by the High Court in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

[Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. v. Rajendra D. Harmalkar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 486, decided on 21.04.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah


Counsels

For appellant: Advocate Rajiv Shukla

For respondent: Advocate Suruchi Suri

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud* and B. V. Nagarathna, JJ., had set aside the impugned interim order of Madras High Court holding it to be an attempt to re-write Rule 29(4) of the Copyright Rules 2013. The Bench remarked,

“The interim order converts the second proviso into a “routine procedure” instead of an exception (as the High Court has described its direction). This exercise by the High Court amounts to re-writing. Such an exercise of judicial redrafting of legislation or delegated legislation cannot be carried out.”

A few broadcasters had approached the Madras High Court to challenge the validity of Rule 29(4) of the Copyright Rules 2013 on the ground that it (i) violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution; and (ii) is ultra vires Section 31D of the Act. The High Court, by its interim order had held that the duty which is cast on broadcasters in the notice to broadcast under Rule 29(1) is “apparently onerous”. Consequently, it directed that the petitioners before it may be permitted to resort to the second proviso to Rule 29(4) as a “routine procedure”, instead of an exception, subject to the duration of the ex post facto reporting being enlarged to fifteen days.

It was in the above backdrop that the instant appeal was initiated in the Supreme Court on the ground that the impugned interim order had the effect of re-writing Rule 29(4) of the Rules framed in pursuance of the provisions of Section 31D and Section 78(2)(cD) of the Copyright Act 1957.

Statutory Mandate

By the Copyright Amendment Act 2012, Parliament incorporated the provisions of Section 31D. Under sub-section (1) of Section 31D, a broadcasting organization which is desirous of communicating to the public by way of a broadcast or performance of a literary or musical work and sound recording which has already been published, may do so subject to compliance with the provisions of Section 31D. Section 31D(2) incorporates five requirements, namely:

  • a prior notice;
  • in the manner prescribed;
  • of the intention to broadcast the work;
  • stating the duration and territorial coverage of the broadcast; and
  • payment to the owner of rights in each work royalties in the manner and at the rate fixed by the Appellate Board.

Rule 29. Notice to owner for communication to the public of literary and musical works and sound recordings.—“(1) Any broadcasting organisation desirous of communicating to the public by way of broadcast or by way of performance of a published literary or musical work and sound recording under sub-section (1) of Section 31-D shall give a notice of its intention to the owner of the copyright and to the Registrar of Copyrights before a period of five days in advance of such communication to the public and shall pay to the owner of the copyright, in the literary or musical work or sound recording or any combination thereof, the amount of royalties due at the rate fixed by the Board in this regard:

Provided further that in case of communication to the public by way of broadcast or by way of performance of any published literary or musical work and sound recording or any combination thereof, in unforeseen circumstances, the notice shall, be given within twenty-four hours of such communication to the public:”

Contentions Raised

The appellants had challenged the interim order on the following grounds:

  1. By the interim order, the High Court re-wrote Rule 29(4), which is impermissible, in any event at the interim stage;
  2. The validity of Rule 29(4) was yet to be adjudicated upon and a presumption would attach to the constitutionality of both – the Rules and the Statute;
  3. There was no challenge to the validity of Section 31D in terms of which Rule 29 had been framed;
  4. The High Court had, in the course of its interim order, extended it only to the petitioners before it and to the broadcasters who had been impleaded as parties, as a result of which the pan-India operation of the Rule was left in the realm of uncertainty.

Observation and Analysis

Observing that the High Court had substituted the provisions of Rule 29(4) with a regime of its own, which was made applicable to the broadcasters and the petitioners before it, the Bench referred to the decision of the Constitution Bench in In Re: Expeditious Trial of Cases Under Section 13 138 of NI Act 188, wherein the Court had emphasized that, “the judiciary cannot transgress into the domain of policy making by re-writing a statute, however strong the temptations maybe.”

Reiterating that the court in the exercise of judicial review cannot supplant the terms of the provision through judicial interpretation by re-writing statutory language, the Bench expressed,

“Draftsmanship is a function entrusted to the legislature. Craftsmanship on the judicial side cannot transgress into the legislative domain by re-writing the words of a statute. For then, the judicial craft enters the forbidden domain of a legislative draft.”

Therefore, the Bench held that the High Court had entered the forbidden domain of legislative draft as it had held the broadcasters down to the requirement of prior notice, it had even modified the operation of Rule 29 by stipulating that the particulars which were to be furnished in the notice may be furnished within a period of fifteen days after the broadcast.

Hence, the Bench was of the view that an exercise of judicial re-drafting of Rule 29(4) was unwarranted, particularly at the interlocutory stage proceedings. The High Court was also of the view that the second proviso may be resorted to as a matter of routine, instead of as an exception and that the ex post facto reporting should be enlarged to a period of fifteen days (instead of a period of twenty four hours). Holding such exercise impermissible, the Bench expressed caution that it would substitute a statutory rule made in exercise of the power of delegated legislation with a new regime and provision which the High Court considers more practicable.

Accordingly, the appeals were allowed and the impugned interim order was set aside.

[Saregama India Ltd. v. Next Radio Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 817, decided on 27-09-2021]

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Report by: Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Counsels:

For the Appellants: Sr. Advocate Mukul Rohatgi and Sr. Advocate Akhil Sibal,

For the Respondents: Sr. Advocate Navroz Seervai and Sr. Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud

Know Thy Judge| Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has elaborately discussed the principles governing the grant of bail, especially in cases under the NDPS Act and has held that,

“… the test which the High Court and this Court are required to apply while granting bail is whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused has not committed an offence and whether he is likely to commit any offence while on bail. Given the seriousness of offences punishable under the NDPS Act and in order to curb the menace of drug-trafficking in the country, stringent parameters for the grant of bail under the NDPS Act have been prescribed.”

Under Section 37(1)(b)(ii), the limitations on the grant of bail for offences punishable under Sections 19, 24 or 27A and also for offences involving a commercial quantity are :

  1. The Prosecutor must be given an opportunity to oppose the application for bail; and
  2. There must exist ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that

(a) the person is not guilty of such an offence; and

(b) he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

Important rulings

Union of India v. Shiv Shanker Kesar, (2007) 7 SCC 798

Holding that bail may be cancelled if it has been granted without adhering to the parameters under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the Court observed,

“7. The expression used in Section 37(1)(b)(ii) is “reasonable grounds”. The expression means something more than prima facie grounds. It connotes substantial probable causes for believing that the accused is not guilty of the offence charged and this reasonable belief contemplated in turn points to existence of such facts and circumstances as are sufficient in themselves to justify recording of satisfaction that the accused is not guilty of the offence charged.

8. The word “reasonable” has in law the prima facie meaning of reasonable in regard to those circumstances of which the actor, called on to act reasonably, knows or ought to know. It is difficult to give an exact definition of the word “reasonable”.

[…]

10. The word “reasonable” signifies “in accordance with reason”. In the ultimate analysis it is a question of fact, whether a particular act is reasonable or not depends on the circumstances in a given situation. (See Municipal Corpn. of Greater Mumbai v. Kamla Mills Ltd. [(2003) 6 SCC 315]

11. The court while considering the application for bail with reference to Section 37 of the Act is not called upon to record a finding of not guilty. It is for the limited purpose essentially confined to the question of releasing the accused on bail that the court is called upon to see if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty and records its satisfaction about the existence of such grounds. But the court has not to consider the matter as if it is pronouncing a judgment of acquittal and recording a finding of not guilty.”

Union of India v. Prateek Shukla, (2021) 5 SCC 430

Non-application of mind to the rival submissions and the seriousness of the allegations involving an offence under the NDPS Act by the High Court are grounds for cancellation of bail.

Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis Chatterjee, (2010) 14 SCC 496

“9. … this Court does not, normally, interfere with an order passed by the High Court granting or rejecting bail to the accused. However, it is equally incumbent upon the High Court to exercise its discretion judiciously, cautiously and strictly in compliance with the basic principles laid down in a plethora of decisions of this Court on the point. It is well settled that, among other circumstances, the factors to be borne in mind while considering an application for bail are:

  • whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence;

  • nature and gravity of the accusation;

  • severity of the punishment in the event of conviction;

  • danger of the accused absconding or fleeing, if released on bail;

  • character, behaviour, means, position and standing of the accused;

  • likelihood of the offence being repeated;

  • reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being influenced; and

  • danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of bail.”

Mahipal v. Rajesh Kumar @ Polla, (2020) 2 SCC 118

“14. The provision for an accused to be released on bail touches upon the liberty of an individual. It is for this reason that this Court does not ordinarily interfere with an order of the High Court granting bail. However, where the discretion of the High Court to grant bail has been exercised without the due application of mind or in contravention of the directions of this Court, such an order granting bail is liable to be set aside. The Court is required to factor, amongst other things, a prima facie view that the accused had committed the offence, the nature and gravity of the offence and the likelihood of the accused obstructing the proceedings of the trial in any manner or evading the course of justice. The provision for being released on bail draws an appropriate balance between public interest in the administration of justice and the protection of individual liberty pending adjudication of the case. However, the grant of bail is to be secured within the bounds of the law and in compliance with the conditions laid down by this Court. It is for this reason that a court must balance numerous factors that guide the exercise of the discretionary power to grant bail on a case-by-case basis. Inherent in this determination is whether, on an analysis of the record, it appears that there is a prima facie or reasonable cause to believe that the accused had committed the crime. It is not relevant at this stage for the court to examine in detail the evidence on record to come to a conclusive finding.

[…]

16. Where a court considering an application for bail fails to consider relevant factors, an appellate court may justifiably set aside the order granting bail. An appellate court is thus required to consider whether the order granting bail suffers from a non-application of mind or is not borne out from a prima facie view of the evidence on record. It is thus necessary for this Court to assess whether, on the basis of the evidentiary record, there existed a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the crime, also taking into account the seriousness of the crime and the severity of the punishment.”

[Union of India v. Md. Nawaz Khan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 782, decided on 22.09.2021]

___________________________________________________________

Counsels:

For appellants: SV Raju, Additional Solicitor General

For respondent: Advocate Rakesh Dahiya


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Know Thy Judge| Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud