Know thy Judge

 “I feel after 22 years as a Judge, we need to think about writing judgments. The consumer of justice must know what is the end result. That is more interesting. Reasoning and conclusion must be clear.”[1]

 Justice N.V. Ramana, The Chief Justice of India, at the Launch of SCC Pre-69 Volumes


The Chief Justice – Mukhya Nyayadhish – The Title is heavy, the Mantle heavier; but it is the Expectations that are the heaviest. The Nation hopes and expects a lot from the one who heads the Supreme Court of India for it is he (or one day a She) who leads the Indian Judiciary collectively.

The Supreme Court of India has borne witness to the leadership of 47 Chief Justices, all who had to face unique scenarios during their tenures. The outgoing Chief Justice, N.V. Ramana, had his fair share of challenging circumstances.

As the Supreme Court of India bids adieu to the 48th Master of Roster, it becomes essential to take a step back and look through Justice N.V. Ramana’s career, perspectives and legacy. It is time to take a moment and Know Thy Chief Justice!


Early Life and Career


♦Did You Know? Justice Ramana worked as a journalist from 1979-1980 and reported on political and legal matters for the Telegu daily newspaper Eenadu.[2]

Justice Nuthulapati Venkata Ramana was born in an agrarian family on August 27, 1957 in Ponnavaram Village, Krishna District, to Ganapati Rao and Sarojini Devi[3]. Having attained his degree in Science and Law from Acharya Nagarjuna University, Andhra Pradesh. While in college, Justice Ramana was a student activist and fought extensively for civil liberties during the Emergency and lost an academic year. He also participated in the Jai Andhra Movement for a separate Andhra state in the 1970s because of alleged injustices meted out to the people of the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions[4]. By his own admission, Justice Ramana once stated that he wanted pursue an active political career, however, “Destiny had other plans[5]. 


Advocacy [1983- 2000][6]


♦Did You Know? Justice Ramana is a first-generation lawyer having an agricultural background.[7]

Justice Ramana enrolled as an Advocate on 10-02-1983 and started his practice from the Magistrate’s Court at Vijayawada[8]. He later started practicing at the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Central and Andhra Pradesh Administrative Tribunals and the Supreme Court; dealing in Civil, Criminal, Constitutional, Labour, Service and Election matters. Justice Ramana also specialized in Constitutional, Criminal, Service and Inter-State River laws.

He functioned as Panel Counsel for various Government Organizations and was the Additional Standing Counsel for Central Government and Standing Counsel for Railways in the Central Administrative Tribunal at Hyderabad. Justice Ramana also served as the Additional Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh.

Some of the prominent cases where Justice Ramana appeared as a Counsel are listed below:


Judgeship- The High Courts [2000-2014][9]


Justice Ramana’s tryst with Judgeship began in the year 2000 when he was appointed as a permanent Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on 27-06-2000. He served as Acting Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court from 10-03-2013 to 20-05-2013.

He had participated in several National and International Conferences held in India and abroad and submitted papers on various topics of legal importance. Justice Ramana was then elevated as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court w.e.f. 02-09-2013.

Some of the prominent cases during Justice Ramana’s tenure in the High Courts are as follows-

DDA v. All India Naval Draughtsman, 2013 SCC OnLine Del 2093

DDA floated a scheme for 7000 expendable houses vide a resolution dated 27-08-1996, whereby 50% of the flats were proposed to be offered to the general public while 50% were proposed to be offered to PSUs/Govt. Organisations; discount was announced for those individuals who would make payment on a cash down basis and the said discount will not be provided to the PSUs/Govt. Organisations. The Bench of N.V. Ramana, C.J., and Jayant Nath, J., held DDA is not entitled to recover any additional sums from the allottees. The Demand cum Allotment Letter clearly stipulated that the terms and condition in the brochures for the scheme would apply to the respondent/allottees and the brochures nowhere stipulated that the discount is confined only to allottees other than PSUs/ Government Organisations but infact clearly provided for discount to an allottee who made 100% payment before possession.

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Shahid Balwa v. Directorate of Enforcement, 2013 SCC OnLine Del 2208

The Bench of N.V. Ramana, C.J., and Jayant Nath, J., observed that cross-examination of witnesses is an integral part and parcel of the principles of natural justice. Refusal would normally be an exception. It was further observed that if the credibility of a person who has testified, is in doubt or if the version or the statement of the person who has testified is in dispute, then normally right to cross-examination would be inevitable; if some real prejudice is caused to the complainant, the right to cross-examine witnesses may be denied.

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Manohar Lal Sharma v. Union of India, 2014 SCC OnLine Del 570

The Bench of N.V. Ramana, C.J. and Manmohan, J., observed that Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2013 was within the legislative competence of the Parliament and in fact, by the impugned Amendment and Validation Act, 2013, the Parliament has by explicit words overruled the intent which had been read by implication by the Courts into Section 62(5) and consequently, changed the basis of “Court’s decision” and is, thus, valid.

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B. Archana Reddy v. State of A.P., 2005 SCC OnLine AP 892

The 5 Judge Bench of Bilal Nazki, A.C.J. and Goda Raghuram, V.V.S. Rao, N.V. Ramana and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., observed that reservations under Arts. 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution result in reduction in the number of seats available, in academic courses and posts in public services, on the basis of merit. There is every need, therefore, to ensure that only “the backward classes” and none else are extended the benefits of such reservation.

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P. Srinivasa Rao v. P. Indira, 2001 SCC OnLine AP 1034

The 3- Judge Bench of S.B. Sinha, C.J. and Ramesh Madhav Bapat and N.V. Ramana, JJ., observed that the Civil Court can exercise such inherent powers with the only limitation that it should not be inconsistent with other provisions of the CPC or contrary to any other law. It was held that granting interim maintenance in a suit for maintenance is not inconsistent with any provision of the CPC or contrary to any other law.


The Supreme Court of India [2014-2022]


Justice Ramana was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India w.e.f. 17-02-2014[10]. He served as a Judge for 7 years. Eventually his name for the position of Chief Justice of India was recommended by the then outgoing CJI, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde. On 24-04-2021, Justice Ramana took oath as the 48th Chief Justice of India.

♦Did You Know? Justice Ramana was the third Judge to recuse himself from hearing the plea challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI Director. He sought transparency in the process of short-listing, selection and appointment of the CBI director.

Notable Judgments

Judgments rendered by any court of law have the capacity to pave the path for change. Whether such changes are for the better or worse, that however is for the time to tell.

Justice Ramana has time and again stressed upon the need for writing simple clear judgments which can be understood by all and sundry. Very recently, while speaking at the Launch of SCC Pre-69 Volumes by EBC, Justice Ramana urged the judges to try being less complex while writing down their judgments, so that the consumer of justice may know what is the end result.[11]

Being a Judge of the Supreme Court already is a tricky path to traverse considering the balance of various interests. It is even trickier when one is a Chief Justice of the topmost Court of the land. Within the legal fraternity, “Justice Ramana is seen as a conventional judge, who is restrained in his speech. He is known to talk less and for clarity of thought in his orders and judgments and adhering to the principle of judicial discipline and the rule of precedent.[12] .

The following are some of the significant decisions rendered by Justice N.V. Ramana- as a Supreme Court Judge and as Chief Justice that will help you to map the course of Justice Ramana’s tenure in the Supreme Court-

IBC and Customs Act

In Sundaresh Bhatt v. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, [C.A. No. 7667/2021], the Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ*., and Hima Kohli and C.T. Ravikumar held that The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will prevail over the Customs Act. Once moratorium under IBC is declared, Customs authorities have only limited jurisdiction to assess the quantum and they cannot take steps to recover the dues.

Definition of Freebies

In Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, [Writ Petitions (Civil) Nos. 43 of 2022], Bench led N.V. Ramana, CJ*., stated that Freebies by political parties before election might create a situation where the State is pushed towards bankruptcy. Noting that the issue is complex and requires extensive debate, the matter was referred to a 3-Judge Bench.

Pegasus Spyware Case

In Manohar Lal Sharma v. Union of India, [Writ Petition(s)(Criminal) No(s).314/2021], the 3- Judge Bench of the Court comprising of N.V. Ramana, CJ., and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ., deliberated over the Report submitted by the Expert Committee concerning Pegasus Spyware.  The Court listed the matter after four weeks for further hearing.

The 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ., in Manohar Lal Sharma v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 985 appointed an Expert Committee to look into the truth or falsity of the allegations in the Pegasus Spyware case, “taking into account the public importance and the alleged scope and nature of the large-scale violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.”

Bilkis Bano Matter

In Subhashini Ali v. State of Gujarat, [Writ Petition (Criminal) No.319/2022], the Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., and Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath, JJ., issued notice to the Gujarat Government on the release of 11 men convicted for the gangrape of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The Court has also directed that the 11 released men be impleaded as parties in the plea challenging the decision of the Gujarat Government.

Prime Minister’s Security Breach During Punjab Visit

The Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ., in Lawyers Voice v. State of Punjab, [Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s).13/2022] deliberated upon the Report of the Enquiry Committee headed by former Judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Indu Malhotra, and considered their recommendations. The Registry was directed to send a copy of the Report to the Central Government and the State Government for further action.

PMLA Judgment Review

The Bench of NV Ramana, CJ., Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice CT Ravikumar, JJ., in Karti P Chidambaram v. The Directorate of Enforcement, [R.P.(Crl.) No.219/2022 in T.C.(Crl.) No.4/2018], while hearing the matter concerning the review of “PMLA Judgment” in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 929 , the Bench decided that Two Issues in the judgment requires reconsideration.  

Interpretation of Tenth Schedule of the Constitution

The 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ., in Subhash Desai v. Principal Secretary, [WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 493/2022], referred the question relating to interpretation of Schedule X of the Constitution pertaining to disqualification, as well as the powers of the Speaker and the Governor and the power of judicial review thereof, to the 5-judge Constitution Bench.

Benami Property

In a big judgment on the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, the 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ*., and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ., in Union of India v. Ganpati Dealcom Pvt Ltd, [CIVIL APPEAL No. 5783 of 2022] held that Section 3  read with Section 2(a) and Section 5 of the 1988 Act are overly broad, disproportionately harsh, and operate without adequate safeguards in place and were unconstitutional from their inception. The Court observed that both these provisions were still-born law and never utilized in the first place.

Hate Speeches

In Parvez Parwaz v. State of U.P., [SLP(Crl) No. 6190/2018] wherein the denial of sanction to prosecute Yogi Adityanath (Chief Minister, UP) for an alleged hate speech, was challenged; the 3- Judge Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., and Hima Kohli and C.T. Ravikumar*, JJ., stated that there is no necessity to go into the legal questions relating to the issue of sanction. The appeal was dismissed and the legal questions regarding the issue of sanction were left open.

Sedition Law

To remove the Sedition law or not remove it, that was the question considered in S.G. Vombatkere v. Union of India, (2022) 7 SCC 433. The 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ*., and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ., however urged the State and Central Governments to restrain from registering any FIR; continuing any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking Section 124A of IPC while the sedition law is under consideration.

Chief Justice Under RTI

The 5-judge constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ., and N.V. Ramana, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ., in Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, (2020) 5 SCC 481 has held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the purview of the Right to Information. In the 250-pages long judgment, Justice Sanjiv Khanna wrote the majority opinion for the Bench and Justices N.V. Ramana and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud gave separate but concurring opinions. N.V. Ramana, J., stated that- “Right to information should not be allowed to be used as a tool of surveillance to scuttle effective functioning of judiciary.” Stating that transparency cannot be allowed to run to its absolute, considering the fact that efficiency is equally important principle to be taken into fold, Justice Ramana talked about a 2-step process to ascertain whether the information should be disclosed. He laid down non-exhaustive lists of considerations that need to be considered while assessing both the steps.

Internet curbs in Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370

In Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637, the 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana*, R. Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai, JJ., directed the J&K administration to review all orders imposing curbs on telecom and internet services in the state in a week and put them in public domain. “The existing Suspension Rules neither provide for a periodic review nor a time limitation for an order issued under the Suspension Rules. Till this gap is filled, the Review Committee constituted under Rule 2(5) of the Suspension Rules must conduct a periodic review within seven working days of the previous review, in terms of the requirements under Rule 2(6).

A 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, JJ., in Foundation for Media Professionals v. State (UT OF J&K), (2020) 5 SCC 746, constituted a three-member committee to look into demand for allowing 4G mobile internet in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Noticing that since the issues involved affect the State and the Nation, the Court found it appropriate to constitute a Special Committee comprising of the following Secretaries at national, as well as State, level to look into the prevailing circumstances and immediately determine the necessity of the continuation of the restrictions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The 5-judge Constitution Bench of NV Ramana, SK Kaul, R. Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ., Shah Faesal v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 1, refused to refer the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre’s move to abrogate Article 370 to a larger bench.

Post-Conviction Mental Health of Accused

In ‘X’ v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 7 SCC 1, The 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana*, M.M. Shantanagoudar and Indira Banerjee, JJ., held that it needs to be understood that prisoners tend to have increased affinity to mental illness. Moreover, due to legal constraints on the recognition of broad-spectrum mental illness within the Criminal Justice System, prisons inevitably become home for a greater number of mentally ­ill prisoners of various degrees. There is no overlooking the fact that the realities within the prison walls may well compound and complicate these problems.

Interpretation of Taxing Statutes

The Five-Judge Constitution Bench speaking through N.V. Ramana, J*., in Commr. of Customs v. Dilip Kumar and Co., (2018) 9 SCC 1 invalidated the ratio of Sun Export Corpn. v. Collector of Customs, (1997) 6 SCC 564, and laid at rest the controversy regarding the interpretation of an ambiguous provision exempting tax. The Bench noticed that there was distinction between interpreting a charging section and an exempting section. In case of ambiguity in a charging section, the interpretation has to be made in favour of the assessee.

Taxation

A 9-judge bench, by 7:2 majority in Jindal Stainless Ltd v. State of Haryana, (2017) 12 SCC 1 upheld the validity of the entry tax imposed by the States on goods imported from other States. The Bench held that taxes simpliciter are not within the contemplation of Part XIII of the Constitution and that the word ‘Free’ used in Art. 301 does not mean “free from taxation”. T.S. Thakur, CJ* and Dr.  A.K. Sikri, S.A. Bobde*, Shiva Kirti Singh*, N.V. Ramana*, R. Banumathi*, A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ, giving the majority view said that States are well within their right to design their fiscal legislations to ensure that the tax burden on goods imported from other States and goods produced within the State fall equally.

Notional Income for Homemakers

In Kirti v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., (2021) 2 SCC 166, where the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana*, SA Nazeer and Surya Kant*, JJ., had increased the total motor accident compensation of Rs 22 lakhs awarded by the Delhi High Court to Rs 33.20 lakhs after a motor vehicle accident claimed the lives of a man and his pregnant wife, leaving behind his parents and 2 children aged merely 3 and 4, Justice N.V. Ramana took the liberty to write a concurring opinion with respect to the issue of calculation of notional income for homemakers and the grant of future prospect with respect to them, for the purposes of grant of compensation.

Dowry Death

The bench of NV Ramana, CJ*., and Aniruddha Bose, J., in  Satbir Singh v. State of Haryana, (2021) 6 SCC 1, stated that judges need to be extra careful while conducting criminal trials relating to Section 304-B, IPC. The Court went on to summarise the law under Section 304­B, IPC read with Section 113­B, Evidence Act and the guidelines to be followed by the Courts while conducting trials in such cases.

In Gurmeet Singh v. State of Punjab, (2021) 6 SCC 108,- a case related to dowry death, where it was argued by the accused that without any charges under Section 498A, IPC a conviction under Section 304-B, IPC cannot be sustained, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ*., and Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, JJ., rejected the contention and explained,

“Although cruelty is a common thread existing in both the offences, however the ingredients of each offence are distinct and must be proved separately by the prosecution. If a case is made out, there can be a conviction under both the sections.”

In State of M.P. v. Jogendra, (2022) 5 SCC 401, where the Madhya Pradesh High Court had held that demand of money for construction of a house cannot be treated as a dowry demand, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli*, JJ., found the said observation to be erroneous and held that the word Dowry” ought to be ascribed an expansive meaning so as to encompass any demand made on a woman, whether in respect of a property or a valuable security of any nature.

Evidence

Explaining the scope of Section 92 Proviso (6) of the Evidence Act, 1872, the 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ*., and Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, JJ., in Mangala Waman Karandikar v. Prakash Damodar Ranade, (2021) 6 SCC 139, held that the said proviso can be resorted to only in cases where the terms of the document leave the question in doubt. “But when a document is a straightforward one and presents no difficulty in construing it, the proviso does not apply. In this regard, we may state that Section 95 only builds on the proviso 6 of Section 92”. The Court was of the opinion that if the contrary view is adopted as correct it would render Section 92 of the Evidence Act, otiose and also enlarge the ambit of proviso 6 beyond the main Section itself.

S.P. Velumani Graft Case

In the case where the Madras High Court had ordered an enquiry and obtained a report without   furnishing a copy thereof to Tamil Nadu Minister SP Velumani in a corruption case and unceremoniously closed the writ petition, the 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ.,* and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ., in S.P. Velumani v. Arappor Iyakkam, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 663 held that when the State has not pleaded any specific privilege which bars disclosure of material utilized in the earlier preliminary investigation, there is no good reason for the High Court to have permitted the report to have remained shrouded in a sealed cover.

Public Interest Litigation

The 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ* and A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli, JJ., in Esteem Properties Pvt. Ltd. v. Chetan Kamble, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 246, urged the Courts to be cautious when examining locus standi in Public Interest Litigations in order to ensure that frivolous or private interests are not masqueraded as genuine claims.

The Court observed that,

“Although the jurisprudence of Public Interest Litigation has matured, many claims filed in the Courts are sometimes immature. Thousands of frivolous petitions are filed, burdening the docket of both this Court and the High Courts. Noble intentions behind expanding the Court’s jurisdiction to accommodate socially relevant issues, in recent decades, have been critically analyzed”.

Contracts and Tenders

On the question as to ‘whether time is of the essence in a contract’, the bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ* and Surya Kant, J., in Welspun Specialty Solutions Ltd. v. ONGC, (2022) 2 SCC 382, held that merely having an explicit clause may not be sufficient to make time the essence of the contract. The same has to be culled out from the reading of the entire contract as well as the surrounding circumstances.

In a case where the process of cancellation of a tender was initiated without affording a chance to be heard to the lessees and the tender was cancelled “because of the possibility of larger profits”, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana*, CJ and Vineet Saran and Surya Kant, JJ., in City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd v. Shishir Realty Private Limited, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1141, held that when a contract is being evaluated, the mere possibility of more money in the public coffers does not in itself serve the public interest.

State Legislature

A 5-judge Constitutional Bench of Jagdish Singh Khehar, Dipak Misra, Madan B. Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghose and N.V.Ramana, JJ., in Nabam Rebia, and Bamang Felix v. Deputy Speaker, (2016) 8 SCC 1, quashed the order of the Governor, preponing the 6th session of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly by a month without consulting the Chief Minister, Council of Ministers or the Speaker, on account of being violative of Article 163 read with Article 174 of the Constitution of India.

Jahangirpuri Demolitions

the 3-judge bench of N.V Ramana, CJ., and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ., in Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind v. NDMC, stayed the demolition drive undertaken by the NDMC at Jahangirpuri.

Prison Conditions During Covid-19

In Contagion of Covid 19 Virus in Prisons, In re, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 376, The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ., and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJ., issued directions to contain the spread of coronavirus in the overcrowded prisons of India.

Defense of Unsound Mind

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, SA Nazeer and Surya Kant, JJ., in Mohd. Anwar v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 7 SCC 391 held that in order to successfully claim defense of mental unsoundness under Section 84 of IPC, the accused must show by preponderance of probabilities that he/she suffered from a serious-enough mental disease or infirmity which would affect the individual’s ability to distinguish right from wrong.

Challenges and Reforms

The challenges before Chief Justice Ramana were multifold. When he took charge as the CJI, the country was severely reeling under the socio-economic effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic; the judiciary itself was staring at ever rising number of pending cases and judicial vacancies.

In order to resolve some of these issues, Justice Ramana launched ‘Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records’ (FASTER)- a software to transmit court orders through a swift and secure electronic mode. Justice Ramana stated that the objective of FASTER is to eliminate the situation where release of prisoners gets delayed even after they have been granted bail and the delays were solely due to jail authorities not getting the certified hard copies of the bail orders[13].

The advent of the deadly Covid-19 wreaked havoc upon the journalists who were reporting SC judgments for benefit of the common man. Justice Ramana thus launched an app to provide the media access to Supreme Court video links. The step was appreciated for encouraging transparency[14]. Justice Ramana revived the public relation office of the Supreme Court by ensuring the availability of text of speeches[15].

Justice Ramana also agreed to a long-pending demand of the Supreme Court Bar Association to ensure the nomination of lawyers practising in the SC for appointment as High Court judges, by allowing the Bar body to form a search committee[16].


Opinions of Note


Justice N.V Ramana has been an opinionated Judge. Given his background as a student activist and a desire to enter into active politics, his being opinionated is hardly a surprise. Bolstered by his experiences in life and law, Justice Ramana’s views were reflective of his thought process and the desire to lead the judiciary towards a better and inclusive future.

Justice Ramana’s perceptions and views on several matters of importance have been a major highlight of his Chief Justiceship-

Law Reports and Legal Reporting

During the launch of SCC Pre-69 Volumes, Justice Ramana stressed upon the need for accurate reporting of judgments and court proceedings. He requested the judges’ fraternity to focus on simplicity in judgments where the ratio and decision is clear. Justice Ramana further 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 their availability in regional languages.

There is a need for accurate reporting, otherwise people are confused. The majority of reports don’t know what order, proceedings, judgment, oral observations are. It is very unfortunate. Suppose a judge asks a negative question, immediately it is reported”.

A Judge’s Life

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of ‘Justice SB Sinha Memorial Lecture’ on the topic “Life of a Judge”, organised by the National University of Study & Research in Law, Ranchi; Justice Ramana pointed out that a Judge’s life is tough one- “A person who has no connection with the profession cannot even imagine the number of hours that go into preparation. We spend many hours reading the paper-books and making notes for matters listed the next day. Preparation for the next day begins soon after the court rises, and will go on beyond midnight on most days. We continue to work even during weekends and court holidays to do research and author pending judgments. In this process, we miss out on many joys of our lives. Sometimes, we miss out on important family events”.[17]

Media Trial

Justice Ramana expressed his laments on the rising instances of media trials, stating that these instances are taking democracy backwards- “Of late, we see the media running kangaroo courts, at times on issues even experienced judges find difficult to decide. Ill-informed and agenda driven debates on issues involving justice delivery are proving to be detrimental to the health of democracy”.[18]

Judiciary, Democracy and Constitution

While speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of new J&K High Court complex at Srinagar, Justice Ramana highlighted the importance of a functioning judiciary for a healthy democracy. “For the functioning of a healthy democracy, it is imperative that the people feel that their rights and dignity are protected and recognised. Expeditious adjudication of disputes is the hallmark of a healthy democracy. Denial of justice would ultimately lead to anarchy”. He also stressed on the importance of digitization of for better dispersion of judicial functions – “The judiciary must be at its innovative best to ensure that the challenges to its working are met with just and Constitutional measures. Technology has been a strong aid to the judiciary. Now, virtual courts are bridging the gaps of accessibility by reducing time, cost and distance. But in a country like India, where a vast digital divide still exists, much needs to be done in order to harness the full potential of technological innovations”[19]

Expressing disappointment over the state of affairs in all the Three Estates of the State, Justice Ramana stated that “In India, a party in power believes that every governmental action is entitled to judicial endorsement and the Opposition parties expect the judiciary to advance their political positions and causes, but the judiciary is answerable to the Constitution and Constitution alone”.[20]


Bidding Adieu!


♦Did you Know? For the first time ever, the proceedings before the Ceremonial Bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana, on his last working day in the Supreme Court was live-streamed![21] 
The measure of respect that Justice Ramana had accumulated during his tenure at the Supreme Court was well revealed before the world when for the first time ever, a Supreme Court Proceeding, (especially a Ceremonial Bench proceeding) was live-streamed[22]. Those attending the proceedings were full of emotions and admiration for the retiring Chief Justice.

Attorney General of India, K.K Venugopal stated that “This is not the right age to retire for the judge of the Supreme Court or of the High Court. But this is not in my hands. The Lordships have started a new era”.  

Meanwhile Senior Advocate, Dushyant Dave tearfully expressed that Justice Ramana had been a ‘Citizens’ Judge’.

Senior Advocate, Kapil Sibal stated that, “I have competed 50 years with SC and many Chief Justices come and go. There is another family you take care of that is the Bar and my Lords have taken their proper care”. Expressing his gratitude to the outgoing Chief Justice, Mr. Kapil Sibal eloquently pointed out –

When the sea is calm the ship will sail. You have maintained the balance in turbulent times. That the give is called to answer. You have maintained the high standards of the judiciary”.

President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Vikas Singh stated that Justice Ramana has ensured the maintenance of Supreme Court’s prestige and has strived to protect the constitutional rights of the people.

Senior Advocate, Vibha Dutt Makhija expressed her appreciation for the work does by Justice Ramana for the women in judiciary.

Thanking the members of the Bar and the Bench, Justice Ramana once again stressed upon the importance of deploying modern technologies for effective functioning of the Supreme Court. He also expressed his apologies for not being able to focus on the issue of pendency and listing of matters. Conveying his gratitude and hoping for betterment of the Bar and the Bench, Justice Ramana stated-

I am not the last or the first person who has worked for the development of this institution. Several great people have contributed a lot to the judiciary and we need to work together for the success of Indian Judiciary”.


Legacy


Chief Justice N.V. Ramana oversaw a nation that had reeled and then rallied from a deadly pandemic. When Covid-19 brought everyone on its toes and stopped the Nation on its tracks, Justice Ramana held on tightly to reins of the judiciary and his measures allowed the courts to function seamlessly. There can be no doubt that Justice Ramana’s judgments and opinions gave lot for the legal and non-legal fraternity to ponder on.

Coming from a humble background, Justice Ramana rose through the ranks and created his own niche within the ‘Legal Multiverse’. We are eager to see what the future holds for him. Whatever his next journey will be, we are sure that it will be equally illuminating.


†Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt Ltd

* Judge who authored the judgment/ wrote a concurring opinion

[1] CJI stresses on need for simple and accurate legal reporting, Live Law

[2] Justice NV Ramana, SC Observer

[3] First Generation Lawyer, Justice NV Ramana, ANI

[4] CJI Desgnate Justice NV Ramana, Hindustan Times

[5] Wanted to Join Politics- Jusitice NV Ramana, Outlook India

[6] Chief Justice and Judges, Supreme Court of India

[7] First Generation Lawyer, Justice NV Ramana, ANI

[8] ‘Wanted to join active politics’- Justice Ramana, Outlook India

[9] Chief Justice and Judges, Supreme Court of India

[10] Chief Justice and Judges, Supreme Court of India

[11] CJI stresses on need for simple and accurate legal reporting, Live Law

[12] CJI Desgnate Justice NV Ramana, Utkarsh Anand, Editor (Legal), Hindustan Times

[13] CJI launches FASTER, The Statesman

[14] Virtual Access To the SC, Supreme Court Observer

[15] CJI Ramana- A Determined Reformer, Deccan Herald

[16] CJI Ramana- A Determined Reformer, Deccan Herald

[17] “Wanted to join active politics”- Justice Ramana, Outlook India

[18] ‘Media Taking Democracy Backwards’- CJ Ramana, NDTV

[19] J&K HC New Complex

[20] ‘Judiciary answerable to the Constitution alone’- CJI Ramana, The Hindu

[21] Live Proceedings of CJI Ramana’s last working day, Live Law

[22] Live Streaming of SC Proceedings, Supreme Court of India

Know thy Judge

“Scrutiny of Judicial Process by Half Truth Knowledgeable is real danger to Rule of Law”

— Justice JB Pardiwala at ‘2nd Justice HR Khanna Memorial National Symposium[1]


Justice Jamshed Burjor Pardiwala assumed office as a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India on May 9th, 2022 and is in line to become the Chief Justice of India in 2028.

Did You Know? Justice Pardiwala is expected to serve a two-year and three months term as Chief Justice of India from May 3rd 2028 to August 11th 2030. [2]


Early Life and Education [3]


Justice JB Pardiwala was born in Mumbai on August 12th, 1965 into a family of lawyers having roots in Valsad located in the south of Gujarat. He is the great grandson of Navrojji Bhikaji Pardiwala who started his legal practice as early as in 1894, grandson of Cawasji Navrojji Pardiwala  who began his legal career in 1929 till 1958 and son of Burjor Cawasji Pardiwala who joined the Valsad Bar in 1955 following the same footsteps.

Justice J B Pardiwala, after attending St. Joseph Convent School, graduated from J P Arts College in 1985, and went on to obtain Bachelor of Law degree from K M Mujli College in 1988, all located in Valsad Gujarat.

♦Did You Know? His father Barjorji Cowasji Pardiwala was elected as an MLA from Valsad Assembly Constituency on an Indian National Congress ticket and even served as the Speaker of Gujarat Legislative Assembly from January 19, 1990 to March 16, 1990.

 


As an Advocate[4]


Justice Pardiwala began his legal career as an advocate from Gujarat High Court in January 1989 and eventually was elected to the State Bar Council in 1994 wherein he remained as a member till 2000. The year 2002 saw his appointment as Standing Counsel in the same High Court where he started his legal practice, Gujarat High Court, along with other subordinate courts.

♦Did You Know? If reports given by his colleagues are to be believed, Justice Pardiwala cleared approximately 1,200 pending matters during his tenure.


As a Judge


In High Court

Justice Pardiwala earned the coveted title of “Justice” when he began his judgeship on February 17th, 2011, having been appointed as Additional Judge of Gujarat High Court which was made permanent on January 28th, 2013. His tenure also saw him serving as the President of Gujarat State Judicial Academy. Justice Pardiwala mainly adjudicated matters related to Criminal and Civil Law, Services, and Indirect Taxation.

♦Did You Know? During his stint as a Judge at the Gujarat High Court, Pardiwala J authored 1,807 Judgments and was part of 2,195 Benches.

In Supreme Court

Justice Pardiwala was elevated to the Supreme Court on May 9th, 2022. He has experience of rendering judgments under his hat on multifarious issues like 400+ judgments on criminal matters, 250+ on service matters, around 200 on civil and direct taxation, 150+ on GST matters to name a few.[5]

♦Did You Know? Justice JB Pardiwala superseded many senior judges and chief justices of High Courts to make an entry in the Supreme Court in just 11 years of being elevated as a judge.[6]

His Top 18 Notable Judgments thus far are as follows: [List is inclusive of his term as a High Court Judge and Supreme Court judge]


‘Respect each other. Your children are watching you very closely’; Supreme Court advises parents in custody battle

The bench of AM Khanwilkar and JB Pardiwala*, JJ, in a matter relating to custody of two minor children, has advised the parents to respect each other and resolve the conflict respectfully, to give the children ‘a good foundation for the conflict that may, God forbid, arise in their own lives.’ Read more

[Rajeswari Chandrasekhar Ganesh v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 885]


Trial Court not a ‘mere post office’; must apply its mind while framing charges: SC unimpressed with discharge of murder accused based on postmortem report only

Explaining the importance of the role of Trails Courts, especially, with respect to framing of charges, the bench of AM Khanwilkar, Abhay S. Oka and JB Pardiwala*, JJ has held that the trial court is enjoined with the duty to apply its mind at the time of framing of charge and should not act as a mere post office. The endorsement on the charge sheet presented by the police as it is without applying its mind and without recording brief reasons in support of its opinion is not countenanced by law.

“Ultimately, upon appreciation of the entire evidence on record at the end of the trial, the trial court may take one view or the other i.e., whether it is a case of murder or case of culpable homicide. But at the stage of framing of the charge, the trial court could not have reached such a conclusion merely relying upon the port mortem report on record.”  Read more

[Ghulam Hassan Beigh v. Mohammad Maqbool Magrey, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 913]


Prophet Remark Row| Why Supreme Court stayed Nupur Sharma’s arrest?

After politician and lawyer Nupur Sharma approached the Court claiming that there is an imminent necessity for the Court to intervene and protect her life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the bench of Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala, JJ has directed that no coercive action shall be taken against her pursuant to the impugned FIR(s)/complaint(s) or the FIR(s)/complaint(s) which may be registered/entertained in the future pertaining to the telecast dated 26-05-2022 on Times Now. Read more

[N.V. Sharma v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 895]


Illegal Coal Mining| Supreme Court stays Meghalaya HC’s order directing dismantling of existing coke plants

In a case concerning illegal coal mining in the State of Meghalaya, the Vacation Bench comprising Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala, JJ., stayed directions of the Meghalaya High Court directing the dismantling of existing coke plant(s). Read more

[JMK Coke Industry Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Meghalaya, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 783]


Maharashtra Political Crisis| Supreme Court refuses to stay Trust Vote; Uddhav Thakrey resigns as CM

The Vacation Bench of Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala, JJ gave a go ahead to the Special Session of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha convened on 30-0­6-­2022 for trust vote. Read more

[Sunil Prabhu v. Governor of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 776]


Can a wife be forced to cohabit and establish conjugal rights? Or can a decree do so? Gujarat High Court answers

The Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala* and Niral R. Mehta, JJ., while dealing with a matter regarding restitution of conjugal rights, stated that,

“Section 281 of the Muhammadan Law deals with the aspect of the restitution of conjugal rights but does not throw any light as to in what circumstances, a decree for restitution of conjugal rights can be granted or declined.”

Further, the Bench expressed that,

“A marriage between Mohammedans is a civil contract and a suit for restitution of conjugal rights is nothing more than an enforcement of the right to consortium under this contract.”

The present appeal was filed under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 by the original defendant-wife questioning the legality and validity of the order passed by the Family Court on suit instituted by respondent-husband for restitution of conjugal rights whereby the family court allowed the suit instituted by the husband directed the appellant-wife to go back to her matrimonial home and perform her marital obligations. Read more

[Jinnat Fatma Vajirbhai Ami v. Nishat Alimdbhai Polra, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 2075]


Gujarat High Court| Will permanent alimony granted to a Muslim woman be conditional to her remarriage? Detailed report untangling the significance of ‘Permanent Alimony’ & ‘Periodical Maintenance’

In an instant appeal under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 filed at the instance of the original defendant (husband) and was directed against the judgment and decree passed by Principal Judge, Ahemdabad for a decree of divorce under the provisions of Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, the Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala* and Vireshkumar B. Mayani, JJ., while addressing the issue of grant of permanent alimony to a Muslim Woman noted the significant difference between permanent alimony and periodical maintenance. Read more

[Tarif Rashidbhai Qureshi v. Asmabanu, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 711]


♦Did you know? Justice J B Pardiwala is a huge fan of Manna Dey, an internationally acclaimed, celebrated Indian playback singer, music director, and a musician and loves watching and playing cricket.[7]


Gujarat High Court | Two finger test violates the right of victim to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity; held unconstitutional

A Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala* and Bhargav D. Karia, JJ., while deciding the two clubbed appeals, held that,

“Two-finger test is unconstitutional. It violates the right of the victim to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.” Read more

[State of Gujarat v. Rameshchandra Rambhai Panchal, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 114]


[Marital rape] Gujarat High Court: A husband cannot be permitted to treat his wife like a chattel and violate her dignity

While deciding the present case wherein the focal point was marital rape and unnatural carnal activity, J.B. Pardiwala, J., observed that a wife is not a chattel and a husband having sexual intercourse with his wife is not merely using a property, he is fulfilling a marital duty with a fellow human being with dignity equal to that he accords himself. He cannot be permitted to violate this dignity by coercing his wife to engage in a sexual act without her full and free consent. Furthermore, the Court urged that the time is ripe that the legislature intervenes and goes into the soul of the issue of marital rape as it is a serious matter which unfortunately is not attracting serious discussions at the end of the Government. Read more

[Nimeshbhai Bharatbhai Desai v. State of Gujarat,2018 SCC OnLine Guj 732]


Gujarat High Court |For the purposes of S. 498-A IPC, a former wife will not come under the category of “the relative of the husband”

In the instant application wherein, the applicant invoked the inherent power of the Court under Section 482 of CrPC thereby seeking quashment of proceedings under Section 498-A read with Section 114 IPC, J.B. Pardiwala, J., held that for the purposes of Section 498-A IPC, a former wife will not come under the category of the “relative of the husband”. Thus, even if the former wife is the cause of matrimonial disputes, she cannot be prosecuted under Section 498-A IPC. Read more

[Honeyben Ashokbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat,  2017 SCC OnLine Guj 1558]


Gujarat High Court | Pregnancy of above 20 weeks can be terminated if it serves the ‘best interest’ of pregnant girl

J.B. Pardiwala, J. allowed a writ application filed by a victim of rape for termination of her pregnancy, subject to her examination by two doctors to ensure that the termination can be carried out safely. Read more

[Pujaben Subedar Yadav v. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCC OnLine Guj 453]


Gujarat High Court |Those who have not allowed to change the Muslim personal law have done great disservice to the community; Gujarat High Court quashes FIR

In a case where an FIR was registered by the father of a Muslim girl aged 16 years, against a man alleging offence under Sections 363, 366 Penal Code, 1860 and Section 18 POCSO Act, and the instant application was filed seeking quashing the same FIR, J B Pardiwala J. perusing the Muslim Law in light of said facts showed disappointment for the lack of a codified Muslim law. In the instant case, the Judge remarked

“Sixteen years is not an age for a girl to get married. At this age, probably, a girl would not even clear her S.S.C. Exam. At times, I fail to understand how she would be able to go ahead in life. Most of the time, unfortunately, this type of marriage fails, and one day, the girl would come back to her parents. By that time, it is too late in her life to realize her mistake as it would be very difficult for the parents to get her again settled in life.”

“… as the social condition in the Nation and throughout the world continues to change, the reality of life is, that even without a code on personal law of Muslim insofar as the marriage is concerned, the child marriage is going into oblivion. Education, changing pattern of the family structure, the structure of the family in the context of reality of the world, and economic necessities are on their own precipitating the situation. The members of the community have realized the evil consequences of getting a Muslim girl married at a tendered age of 16 or 17 years”

The Court however quashed the charges under Sections 363 and 366 as there was no reason to believe Namira had been enticed into the union as Namira deposed before Court that she eloped and married the accused on her own free will and volition as she was in love with the applicant and vice versa.

[Yunusbhai Usmanbhai Shaikh v State of Gujarat, 2015 SCC OnLine Guj 6211]


Amendments to Section 80 HHC Income Tax Act, 1961 was challenged; Gujarat High Court rules amendments to apply prospectively; Retrospective provisions to be extended only if they benefit assesses

The petitioners filed a batch of civil appeals at the Gujarat High Court challenging newly inserted Amendments to Section 80 HHC of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Under Section 80HHC, businesses could avail themselves of specific Income Tax deductions—and had even been incentivized to do so by earlier governments. This benefit had been extended to them from Assessment Year 1988-89 to Assessment Year 2004-05. The petitioners contended that the Amendments sought to retrospectively remove these deduction benefits after 31st March, 2004—while also retrospectively granting them to another group of assesses for the same assessment period. This created two arbitrary subgroups within the same class of businesses, violating the Right to Equality and the Right to practice any profession.

The question was raised before the Court that whether the severable parts of the 3rd and 4th proviso to Section 80 HHC (3) Income Tax Act, 1961 are ultra vires Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) Constitution of India, a Division Bench of Bhaskar Bhattacharya and J B Pardiwala JJ. noted that if a valid piece of legislation is wrongly interpreted by the Tribunal, the aggrieved party should move to a higher judicial forum for correct interpretation. The Court thus held that the impugned amendment is violative for its retrospective operation in order to overcome the decision of the Tribunal, and at the same time, for depriving the benefit earlier granted to a class of the assesses whose assessments were still pending although such benefit will be available to the assesses whose assessments have already been concluded. In other words, in this type of substantive amendment, retrospective operation can be given only if it is for the benefit of the assesses but not in a case where it affects even a fewer section of the assesses.

[Avani Exports v Commissioner of Income Tax Rajkot, 2012 SCC OnLine Guj 3837]

♦Did You Know? JB Pardiwala is the 4th Parsi Judge to serve at the Supreme Court and first minority High Court judge to be appointed in 5 years after Justice Abdul Nazeer[8]

Notable Judgments during COVID


[Midnight Hearing] Gujarat High Court | Situation of Ahmedabad on account of COVID-19 cannot be compared with situation in Puri or in the State of Orissa (sic Odisha); No Rath Yatra at Ahmedabad

A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ* and J.B. Pardiwala, J., rejected all the civil applications in a midnight hearing, filed with regard to granting permission for Rath Yatra on the ground that Supreme Court allowed the Yatra in restricted manner by modifying its earlier order.   Read more

[Mahant Akhileshwardasji Ramlakhandasji v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 917]


Gujarat High Court | “If State would not have been doing anything, we all would have been dead”: Court berates politicizing of COVID-19 situation while at the same time reminding the State of its Constitutional obligations

A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ and J.B. Pardiwala, J.* while addressing certain issues with regard to COVID-19, stated that,

“Healthcare access is the ability to obtain healthcare services such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases, illness, disorders, and other health ­impacting conditions. For healthcare to be accessible it must be affordable and convenient.” Read more

[Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 836]


Gujarat High Court | Gujarat Govt given directions to take stern and decisive actions in matters connected to private hospitals, migrants, protection of doctors and overall management of Covid-19 crisis

Taking suo motu cognizance of the way private hospitals in the State of Gujarat are indulging in blatant profiteering in the time of Covid-19, the Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala and Ilesh J. Vora, JJ., gave important directions to the State Government in relation to regulation of private hospitals; proper arrangement of sending the migrants to their homes and overall management of every aspect of governance to deal with one of the greatest humanitarian crisis the world has seen. The Court also expressed its deep respect for all the frontline ‘corona warriors’ for showing exemplary dedication towards public welfare. Read more

[Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, Writ Petition (PIL) No. 42/2020, decided on 22-05-2020]


[COVID-19] Gujarat High Court | No Rath Yatra shall be carried out at Ahmedabad; No activities secular or religious associated with Rath Yatra to be conducted

A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ* and J.B. Pardiwala, J., held that in view of present times of outbreak of COVID-19, there shall be no Rath Yatra at Ahmedabad and any of the districts in the State of Gujarat. Read more

[Hitesh Kumar Vittalbhai Chavda v. Shri Jagannathji Mandir Trust, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 910]


Gujarat High Court | “What is most essential as of now is a more humane approach or touch”; State Authorities should ensure that its citizens do not die of starvation

A Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala* and Ilesh J. Vora, JJ., took suo motu cognizance of certain issues like the food, shelter for migrant workers, travel to hometowns, etc.

The court took notice of a few news items and took suo motu cognizance of the same, wherein the following was noted:

“Caught in the Covid­19 crossfire in pain? Grin and bear because cops won’t let you meet your doc with the police getting stricter in ensuring that people do not step out of their houses during the lockdown, patients with genuine ailments are suffering as they are at the receiving end”  

Read more

[Suo motu v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 718]

________________________________

†Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judge, who has authored the judgment


[1] https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/07/12/scrutiny-of-judicial-process-by-half-truth-knowledgeables-is-real-danger-to-rule-of-law-says-justice-pardiwala/

[2] https://www.scobserver.in/journal/who-are-the-nine-next-chief-justices-of-india/

[3] https://gujarathighcourt.nic.in/cjjfull?jid=435

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

[5] https://www.scobserver.in/judges/jamshed-burjor-pardiwala/

[6] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/justice-dhulia-superseded-29-judges-justice-pardiwala-48/articleshow/91452648.cms

[7] https://theprint.in/judiciary/in-justice-jb-pardiwala-sc-gets-a-future-cji-a-manna-dey-fan-and-a-cricket-lover/947824/

[8] https://www.outlookindia.com/national/supreme-court-to-get-full-strength-jury-as-two-judges-to-take-oath-of-office-on-monday-news-195556

Know thy Judge

“Zero tolerance towards corruption should be the top-notch priority for ensuring system based and policy driven, transparent and responsive governance. Corruption cannot be annihilated but strategically be dwindled by reducing monopoly and enabling transparency in decision making. However, fortification of social and moral fabric must be an integral component of long-term policy for nation building to accomplish corruption free society.”

Justice Ajay Rastogi

State of Gujarat v. Mansukhbhai Kanjibhai Shah,

2020 SCC OnLine SC 412


Justice Ajay Rastogi was born on 18th June 1958 in Jaipur to Shri. Harish Chandra Rastogi. He followed the footsteps of his father and joined the bar in 1982. During the years of his practice at Rajasthan High Court, he practised in different spheres of law but was specialized in service and labour laws.

♦Did you know? Justice Ajay Rastogi’s father Late Harish Chandra Rastogi was an eminent civil lawyer in Rajasthan High Court.

Justice Rastogi took oath as a Judge in the Rajasthan High Court on 02-09-2004. He was officiated as the Administrative Judge of the Rajasthan High Court on 19-07-2014 and continued till his elevation as Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court.

After his appointment as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court, Justice Rastogi remained Executive Chairman of the State Legal Services Authority from 14-10*2013 to 18-10-2016.

♦Did you know? Under his stewardship, Rajasthan Legal Services Authority won the National Award from National Legal Services Authority for three consecutive years.[1]

Justice Rastogi was also the Acting Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court w.e.f. 14-04-2016 to 13-05-2016.

Justice Ajay Rastogi was recommended by the Collegium for being appointed as Chief Justice of the High Court of Tripura on February 1, 2018 and took oath on 01-03-2018. He was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court on 02-11-2018.

♦Did you know? The collegium had superseded Justice Maheshwari in October, 2018 when it recommended the elevation of the then Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court, Justice Ajay Rastogi — originally from the Rajasthan High Court — to the Supreme Court.[2]


 Career as an Advocate


Justice Ajay Rastogi practised in the Rajasthan High Court in Constitutional, Service and Labour Laws etc. His field of specialisation was Service and Labour Law.

Justice Rastogi was nominated as the standing counsel for the Rajasthan High Court in the year 1990 and continued as such till his elevation in the year 2004. He also worked as the standing counsel for Rajasthan Financial Corporation, Jaipur, Board of Secondary Education, Rajasthan, Ajmer, and of various Banking Institutions, Electricity Board & Educational Institutions etc.[3]

Justice Rastogi was also appointed President of the Rajasthan High Court Bar Association at Jaipur in the year 1999-2000.

Justice Ajay Rastogi had marked his presence in many remarkable cases as an advocate. Some of the significant cases represented by him are:


Notable Judgments at Supreme Court


The bench of NV Ramana and Ajay Rastogi, JJ, has agreed to examine the validity of a newly enacted law which makes the practice of instant divorce through triple talaq among Muslims a punishable offence entailing imprisonment of up to three years.[4]

Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd. v. Hindustan Zinc Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 208

The Division Bench comprising of Ajay Rastogi* and Abhay S. Oka, JJ., held that a modification changing tariff for inadvertent drawal from temporary supply rate to the regular supply rate cannot be considered to be a mere clarification and is rather a substantial alteration which cannot be made applicable retrospectively.

Read More…


Pawan Kumar v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 532

The Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi* and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ., reversed the impugned order of Delhi High Court whereby the High Court had upheld the dismissal order of appellant owing to suppression of information/false declaration in the verification form regarding criminal antecedent.

The Court held that the effect of suppression of material/false information involving in a criminal case is that it is left for the employer to consider all the relevant facts and circumstances available as to antecedents and keep in view the objective criteria and the relevant service rules, while taking appropriate decision regarding continuance/suitability of the employee into service.

Read More…


P. Ranjitharaj v. State of T.N., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 508

The Division Bench comprising Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ., reversed the impugned judgment of the Madras High Court and held that when the delay in appointment is attributable to the State, it would not deprive the employees of their right to become the member of the Pension Scheme, 1978 merely on the ground that the Scheme was not applicable to their year of appointment, particularly when other candidates who participated in the common process of selection were availing the same.

Read More


Union of India v. Ex. Constable Ram Karan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1041

The Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi* and Abhay S. Oka, JJ.,    set aside the judgment of the Delhi High Court wherein it had substituted the penalty of removal from service with confinement of respondent from 1.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. in quarter guard jail without noticing the mandate of the nature of punishments indicated under Section 11(1) of the Central Reserve Police Force Act, 1949 (CRPF). The Bench expressed,

“The scope of judicial review on the quantum of punishment is available but with a limited scope. It is only when the penalty imposed appears to be shockingly disproportionate to the nature of misconduct that the Courts would frown upon.”

Read More…


Sudhir Kumar Atrey v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 971

The Division Bench comprising of Ajay Rastogi* and Abhay S. Oka, JJ., expressed dismay over the manner adopted by the Western Command, Military Engineering Service in making appointments from the select panel of 29-06-1983 after a lapse of 4-5 years in the year 1987-1988.

“…the manner in which the appointments were made from the select panel of 1983 after it has outlived its life in the year 1987-1988 and ordinarily it was not open to be operated upon and such appointments are nothing but a clear abuse of the discretion vested with the competent authority.”

Read More…


V. N. Patil v. K. Niranjan Kumar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 172

The bench of Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi*, JJ., held that the aim of every Court is to discover the truth but it should be done judiciously.

The Court opined that though it is not necessary to record elaborate reasons in every case, the Courts should do so in order to facilitate the superior Courts to understand what weighed in with the Court to reverse the finding of the lower court.

“Wider the power, greater is the necessity of caution while exercise of judicious discretion”

Read More

______________________________________________________________________________

Rachna v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 140

While refusing the plea of last attemptees of the UPSC Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 who had sought for an extra attempt to clear the exam in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi*, JJ held that allowing extra attempt in such a case would set a precedent and also have cascading effect on examinations in other streams.

“… merely because the present petitioners made a complaint to this Court, cannot be taken into isolation for the purpose of seeking additional chance/attempt in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, which has been faced by not only the candidates appeared in Examination 2020 but by the candidates appeared in the various examinations/recruitment tests held by the State Commissions or by other recruiting agencies and by and large, every member of the society in one way or the other but that does not in any manner give legitimate right to the petitioners to claim additional benefit/attempt which is otherwise not permissible under the scheme of Rules 2020.”

Read More…

While discussing its related to issuing mandamus to frame policy, the Court held that the Judicial review of a policy decision and to issue mandamus to frame policy in a particular manner are absolutely different and Courts cannot issue mandamus to frame policy.

Read More…

______________________________________________________________________________

Gauri Shankar v. State of Punjab, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 96

The Division Bench of Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi*, JJ., confirmed punishment of life imprisonment for remainder of natural life awarded to a man accused of murdering two minor children aged 4 years and 2 years in brutal manner by administering celphos to them.

The Court observed that a trial court while sentencing an accused to life imprisonment cannot order that such imprisonment is for the remainder of his/her natural life. The power only lies in the hand of High Courts and the Supreme Court to direct the same.

 “It is true that the punishment of remainder of natural life could not have been imposed by the learned trial judge but after looking into the entire case, we consider it appropriate to confirm the sentence of imprisonment for life to mean the remainder of natural life while upholding the conviction under Section 302 IPC.”

Read More…

______________________________________________________________________________

Sudipta Chakrobarty v. Ranaghta SD Hospital, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 107

Criticising the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) for its practice of passing ‘reasons to follow’ orders, the bench of Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has asked the President of the NCDRC to take necessary steps so that this practice is discontinued, and the reasoned Judgment is passed along with the operative order.

The Court also observed that in all matters where reasons are yet to be delivered, it must be ensured that the same are made available to the litigating parties positively within a period of two months.

Read More

______________________________________________________________________________

Soumitra Kumar Nahar v. Parul Nahar, (2020) 7 SCC 599

“In a custody battle, no matter which parent wins but the child is always the loser”

In a case involving prolonged Court battle over child custody rights, the Division bench of AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi*, JJ., held that the Courts should decide the issue of custody on a paramount consideration which is in the best interest of the child who is the victim in the custody battle.

“Rights of the child need to be respected as he/she is entitled to the love of both the parents. Even if there is a breakdown of marriage, it does not signify the end of parental responsibility.”

Read More…

______________________________________________________________________________

Pankjeshwar Sharma v. State of J&K, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 984

“Negative equality cannot be claimed to perpetuate further illegality”

A 3-Judge Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi*, JJ. held that any appointments made deviating from merit in exceptional cases can be justified, like in instant case viz. to give quietus to litigation, however such appointments would be irregular appointments, though not illegal and the candidates left out of merit list has no right to claim the same benefit which was provided to some other candidates on basis of some erroneous concession granted by the State. The Court restated that negative equality cannot be claimed to perpetuate further illegality.

“In a situation where the posts in excess of those advertised had been filled up in extraordinary circumstances, instead of invalidating the excess appointments, the relief could be moulded in such a manner so as to strike a just balance keeping the interest of the State and the interest of the person seeking public employment depends upon the facts of each case for which no set standard can be laid down.”

Read more…

______________________________________________________________________________

Prerit Sharma v. Bilu B.S., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 961

The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., by passing an interim order directed that there will be no reservation for to in-service doctors in Super Specialty Medical Courses for the academic year 2020-2021.

Read More…

______________________________________________________________________________

IN RE: CONTAGION OF COVID 19 VIRUS IN CHILDREN PROTECTION HOMES, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1026

The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., has issued directions to ensure education of children in Child Care Institutions which has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more…

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State of Odisha v. Dilip Kumar Pratihari, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 603

The 3-judge bench of S.K. Kaul, Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose, JJ., in an application seeking condonation of delay of 587 days filed by State of Odisha, had imposed a cost of Rs. 50, 000 and directed that an enquiry be conducted and cost be recovered from the delinquent officer.

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Anun Dhawan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 165

Displeased with the Centre and the States on repeated failures by them to file their replies on a PIL seeking setting up of community kitchens across the country, the 3-judge bench of N V Ramana, Ajay Rastogi and V Ramasubramanian, JJ., came down heavily and imposed cost of Rs. 5 lakh on them for not complying with its directions to file their affidavits on a.

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C. Bright v. District Collector, (2021) 2 SCC 392

The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ while upholding the Kerala High Court’s decision, held that the time-limit to take action by the District Magistrate has been fixed to impress upon the authority to take possession of the secured assets. However, inability to take possession within time-limit does not render the District Magistrate functus officio. Time-limits stipulated in the section, are directory and not mandatory.

Interpreting Section 14 of the SARFAESI Act, the Court said that

“… the secured creditor has no control over the District Magistrate who is exercising jurisdiction under Section 14 of the Act for public good to facilitate recovery of public dues. Therefore, Section 14 of the Act is not to be interpreted literally without considering the object and purpose of the Act. If any other interpretation is placed upon the language of Section 14, it would be contrary to the purpose of the Act.”

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Rekha Sengar v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 173

“A strict approach has to be adopted if we are to eliminate the scourge of female feticide and iniquity towards girl children from our society.”

While rejecting the bail in the case where the investigative team has seized the sonography machine and made out a strong prima-facie case against the petitioner, the 3-judge bench of MM Shantanagoudar*, Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi, JJ held no leniency should be granted at this stage as the same may reinforce the notion that the PC&PNDT Act is only a ‘paper tiger’ and that clinics and laboratories can carry out sex-determination and feticide with impunity.

“The unrelenting continuation of this immoral practice, the globally shared understanding that it constitutes a form of violence against women, and its potential to damage the very fabric of gender equality and dignity that forms the bedrock of our Constitution are all factors that categorically establish pre­natal sex­ determination as a grave offence with serious consequences for the society as a whole.”

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Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd. v. Navigant Technologies Pvt. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 157

While deciding the question as to whether the period of limitation for filing the Petition under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 would commence from the date on which the draft award is circulated to the parties, or the date on which the signed copy of the award is provided, the bench of Indu Malhotra* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., held that the period of limitation for challenging arbitral award can only commence from date of receipt of signed copy and not from the receipt of draft

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Priti Saraf v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 206

The bench of Indu Malhotra* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ, while discussing the exercise of the extraordinary powers of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, or in the exercise of the inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC in quashing a criminal proceeding, reiterated that the existence of civil remedies by itself is not a ground to quash criminal proceedings.

The Court held that in the matter of exercise of inherent power by the High Court, the only requirement is to see whether continuance of the proceedings would be a total abuse of the process of the Court.

“…the exercise of inherent power of the High Court is an extraordinary power which has to be exercised with great care and circumspection before embarking to scrutinise the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet in deciding whether the case is the rarest of rare case, to scuttle the prosecution at its inception.”

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BSNL v. Nortel Network India Pvt. Ltd, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 207

A bench comprising of Indu Malhotra* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., held that the period of limitation for filing an application under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 would be governed by Article 137 of the First Schedule of the Limitation Act, 1963.

The Court opined that the period of limitation will begin to run from the date when there is failure to appoint the arbitrator. Moreover, the Court may refuse to make the reference in rare and exceptional cases, where the claims are ex facie time-barred and it is manifest that there is no subsisting dispute.

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Vikas Kishanrao Gawali v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 170

Deciding the issue whether reservation for OBCs can exceed upper ceiling of 50% in local elections for entirely scheduled areas, the 3-Judge Bench comprising of A.M. Khanwilkar*, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., held that the total seats reserved in favour of SC/STs and OBCs in local bodies should not exceed 50 percent of the total seats.

The Court read down Section 12(2)(c) of the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961 which mandated that the State should provide 27 percent reservation for OBCs as it ultra vires the provisions of Articles 243D and 243T including Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

“The challenge to the validity of Section 12(2)(c) of the 1961 Act is negatived. Instead, that provision is being read down to mean that reservation in favor of OBCs in the concerned local bodies can be notified to the extent that it does not exceed aggregate 50 per cent of the total seats reserved in favor of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.”

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Pravat Chandra Mohanty v. State of Odisha, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 81

“When the protector of people and society himself instead of protecting the people adopts brutality and inhumanly beat the person who comes to the police station, it is a matter of great public concern.”

In a case where two police officers who had mercilessly beaten a man leading to his eventual death back in 1985, the Division Bench comprising of Ashok Bhushan* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., held that Custodial violence a crime against humanity. The Court considered the fact that both the appellants were more than 75 years of age therefore reduced the sentence awarded for conviction under Section 324 IPC to six months instead of one year and directed to pay a compensation of Rs.3.5 Lakhs each to the legal heir of the deceased in addition to the compensation awarded by the High Court.

 “The custodial violence on the deceased which led to the death is abhorrent and not acceptable in the civilized society. The offence committed by the accused is crime not against the deceased alone but was against humanity and clear violations of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

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Hitesh Verma v. State of Uttarakhand, (2020) 10 SCC 710

A 3-judge bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ, in a case where abuses were hurled by a person of upper caste at a person belonging to Scheduled Caste due to a property dispute between them, held that no offence had been committed under Section 3(1)(r) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 because the insulting or intimidating of a person belonging to a SC/ST community will not be counted as offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of them being a member of the SC/ST community.

 “The property disputes between a vulnerable section of the society and a person of upper caste will not disclose any offence under the Act unless, the allegations are on account of the victim being a Scheduled Caste.”

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Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya, (2020) 7 SCC 469

“To cast aspersion on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army –men and women – who serve as equal citizens in a common mission.”

In a path-breaking judgement, the Division Bench comprising of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has held that blanket non-consideration of women for criteria or command appointments absent an individuated justification by the Army cannot be sustained in law and violates the guarantee of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution.

The Court ordered that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Indian Army in service, irrespective of their years of service.

“Underlying the statement that it is a “greater challenge” for women officers to meet the hazards of service “owing to their prolonged absence during pregnancy, motherhood and domestic obligations towards their children and families” is a strong stereotype which assumes that domestic obligations rest solely on women.”

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Union of India v. Lt. Cdr. Annie Nagaraja, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 326

“A hundred and one excuses are no answer to the constitutional entitlement to dignity, which attaches to every individual irrespective of gender, to fair and equal conditions of work and to a level playing field.”

In yet another major verdict addressing the gender stereotypes and rights of women, the Division Bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., lifted the statutory bar on the engagement or enrolment of women in the Indian Navy and directed the Centre to grant Permanent Commission to women Navy officers.

“Performance at work and dedication to the cause of the nation are the surest answers to prevailing gender stereotypes. To deprive serving women officers of the opportunity to work as equals with men on PCs in the Indian Navy is plainly discriminatory. Furthermore, to contend that women officers are ill-suited to certain avocations which involve them being aboard ships is contrary to the equal worth of the women officers who dedicate their lives to serving in the cause of the nation.”

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Hindustan Unilever Ltd. v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 905

The 3-judge bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., in a case relating to the adulteration of Dalda Vanaspati Khajoor Brand Ghee dating back to 1989 wherein the company was absolved of all charges but prosecution against it’s nominated office Nirmal Sen was continued, held that in the absence of the Company, the Nominated Person cannot be convicted or vice versa i.e. either both of them are convicted or none of them.

“Since the Company was not convicted by the trial court, we find that the finding of the High Court to revisit the judgment will be unfair to the appellant/Nominated Person who has been facing trial for more than last 30 years. Therefore, the order of remand to the trial court to fill up the lacuna is not a fair option exercised by the High Court as the failure of the trial court to convict the Company renders the entire conviction of the Nominated Person as unsustainable.”

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Umedsinh P Chavda v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 500

In a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking ban on sale of Coca cola, Thums Up and Soft Beverages, the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., has imposed a fine of Rs 5,00,000 on the petitioner for abuse of process.

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Joint Labour Commissioner and Registering Officer v. Kesar Lal, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 327

The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has held that a service rendered at no matter how less consideration would still be a ‘service’ under Consumer Protection Act.

“So long as the service which has been rendered is not rendered free of charge, any deficiency of service is amenable to the fora for redressal constituted under the Consumer Protection Act 1986.”

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Notable Judgments at High Court


Krishna Sarkar v. Government of Tripura, 2018 SCC OnLine Tri 209

In a writ petition for the claim of compensation in a medical negligence case, Ajay Rastogi*, CJ., refused to quantify compensation on mere allegation of ‘Medical Negligence’.

“…the law will take its own course but merely on an allegation of a medical negligence it cannot be established unless the parties are being permitted to lead evidence in support of their respective claim and certainly, on the disputed question of fact of alleged medical negligence…”

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Tapas Chakraborty v. High Court of Tripura, 2018 SCC OnLine Tri 57

The Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi, C.J., and S. Talapatra, J., held that once a FIR is quashed under Section 482 CrPC, no inference should be drawn to impute any adverse antecedents which in any way may deprive an individual from seeking public employment.

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Sudhir Debbarma v. State of Tripura, 2018 SCC OnLine Tri 94

“The object of the die-in-harness scheme is to provide solace to the dependent family members of the deceased employee who have lost their breadwinner and left them to destitute and in financial crunch to be mitigated at the earliest”

In a case dealing with providing compassionate appointment and how these matters are being dealt in very insensitive or casual manner by the Government officials, Ajay Rastogi*, CJ., imposed cost of Rs. 50,000/- upon the respondents authorities in taking the matter so casually in deciding the application under the die-in-harness scheme and directed the authority to recover the same from the concerned defaulting officers who are so casual in disposing of the application.

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Abhyutthanam Society. v. State of Rajasthan, 2016 SCC OnLine Raj 1947

In a public interest litigation filed for ensuring effective implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi*, A.C.J., and S. Talapatra, J., held that the State Government do not holding any authority to re-write the definition of Sec.2 (d) of the Right to Education Act, 2009.

The Court also directed the State government to include children belonging to OBC & SBC categories whose parents’ annual income not exceeding Rs.2.50 lakhs as part of the notification dated 28.3.2016.

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Ganga Devi v. State, 2014 SCC OnLine Raj 1906

The Division Bench comprising of Ajay Rastogi and J.K. Ranka, JJ., while taking note of the fact that the appellant had served more than fourteen and a half years of sentence in jail without parole and that she was aged about 79 years, granted her permanent parole.

“a liberal view is to be taken at least in this particular case when admittedly, the convict-petitioner is a woman and is almost touching the age of 80 years and one never knows longevity of life but with her age, at least in this fag end of her life, she needs company of her children and so also grand children if any and spend rest of her life peacefully with them.”

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Jayant Sharma v. State of Rajasthan, 2012 SCC OnLine Raj 3000

“The government employees have neither fundamental nor statutory or moral right to resort to strike.”

While deciding the issue whether making respondents eligible for Pre P.G. Medical Examination against seats reserved for in service category by granting extra ordinary leave without pay for 32 days period for which they remained on strike amounts to misconduct, Justice Ajay Rastogi* held that whether it amounts to misconduct or not, can only be established after the disciplinary enquiry contemplated under RCS (CCA) Rules is conducted

The Court while acknowledging that the service of the medical profession is a noble service, opined that the government employees have neither fundamental nor statutory or moral right to go on strike.

“The impact of such strikes either by students and medical community who are directly connected with the hospitals is totally different from the strike in factory or trading establishment, as the ailing patients cannot be left waiting or unattended. Hospital activity is not the same as the lifeless functioning of machines in a factory or movement of trading material or other forms of commerce where workmen are being provided certain protection under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. Almost all the activities in relation to hospital are such as require constant and incessant attending and care, unlike financial losses; the loss of life or limb cannot be recouped.”


†Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

* Judge who has penned the judgment.

[1] https://main.sci.gov.in/chief-justice-judges

[2] https://theprint.in/judiciary/scs-newest-judges-had-set-aside-aap-mla-disqualification-ruled-fashion-shows-are-taxable/179680/

[3] https://thc.nic.in/FCJprofile-HAR.html

[4] https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2019/08/23/triple-talaq-sc-issues-notice-to-centre-on-plea-challenging-the-new-law/

Know thy Judge

Born on 17-06-1958, Justice Kuttiyil Mathew Joseph studied Law at the Government Law College, Ernakulam, Kerala and got enrolled as a lawyer in 1982. He started his legal practice from the Delhi High Court in Civil and Writ matters. Later on, he shifted his practice to Kerala High Court in 1983 and became a permanent member of Kerala High Court Advocates Association. After practicing for about two decades Justice K.M. Joseph became Permanent Judge of the High Court of Kerala on 14-10-2004.[[1]]

♦Did you know? Justice K.M. Joseph is the son of K. K. Mathew, former Supreme Court judge and Chairman of the 10th Law Commission.[[2]]

He was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Uttranchal High Court on 31-07-2014. Carrying the legacy of his father Justice K.M. Joseph got elevated as the Judge of Supreme Court on 07-08-2018.

♦Did you know? Justice K.M. Joseph is one of the longest serving High Court Chief Justices to be elevated to the Supreme Court.[[3]]

Justice K.M. Joseph is due to retire on 16-06-2023.


Career as an Advocate


Justice K.M. Joseph had marked his presence in many remarkable cases as an advocate. Some of the significant cases represented by him are:

 Shanti Lal Mehta v. Union of India, 1982 SCC OnLine Del 303 

 Anirudhan v. Government of Kerala, 1999 SCC OnLine Ker 293

 State of Kerala v. T.V Anil, 2001 SCC OnLine Ker 328 

 Thomas v. Mathew N.M, 1995 SCC OnLine Ker 151

 Mathew v. Union of India,  2003 SCC OnLine Ker 12′

♦Did you know? Justice K.M. Joseph had been appointed as Amicus Curiae in Mathew Varghese v. Rosamma Varghese, when the Kerala High Court was addressing the question: Whether a Christian father is under an obligation to maintain his minor child?[[4]] 


Remarkable Judgments as the Judge of Supreme Court


Union of India v. Rajendra N. Shah, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 474

A 3-Judge Bench has held that the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 which inter alia inserted Part IX-B is ultra vires the Constitution insofar it is concerned with the subject of Cooperative Societies for want of the requisite ratification under Article 368(2) proviso. At the same time, the Court by a majority of 2:1, followed doctrine of severability in declaring that Part IX-B is operative insofar as it concerns Multi-State Cooperative Societies both within various States and in Union Territories.  R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ. formed the majority. Whereas K.M. Joseph, J. penned a separate opinion dissenting partly with the majority. He expressed inability to concur with the view on the application of doctrine of severability.

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 P.B. Nayak v. Bhilai Steel Plant,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 970

The Division Bench of K.M Joseph* and Pamidighantam Sri Barasimha, JJ., held that mere fact that food, refreshment and even liquor is being provided in Non-Residential Clubs by catering services, it will not make the club premises ‘wholly or principally’ related to supply of meals and refreshments to make it fall within the purview of M.P. Shops and Establishments Act, 1958.

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Rathish Babu Unnikrishnan v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2022 SCC OnLine SC 513

While rejecting an appeal to quash proceedings under Section 138 of the N.I. Act, 1881 at pre-trial stage, the Division Bench comprising of K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy*, JJ., held that when there is legal presumption, it would not be judicious for the quashing Court to carry out a detailed enquiry on the facts alleged, without first permitting the trial Court to evaluate the evidence of the parties.

The Bench upheld the impugned judgment of Delhi High Court wherein the High Court had – while acting as a quashing court under Section 482 of CrPC – refused to quash proceedings at pre-trial stage. The Bench observed,

“The quashing Court should not take upon itself, the burden of separating the wheat from the chaff where facts are contested.”

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Regional Transport Authority v. Shaju, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 209

The Division Bench comprising of K.M. Joseph and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha*, JJ., held that Rule 174(2)(c) of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules,1989 is valid and salutary and does not go beyond the scope of Section 83 of the MV Act, 1988. While interpreting the expression “same nature” the Bench observed that such expressions are better kept open ended to enable courts to subserve the needs of changing circumstances. The Bench expressed,

“…the assumption in the impugned judgment that the expression “same nature” is confined only to, mean “a bus by bus, a mini-bus by mini-bus and not bus by a minibus….” is not a correct way to read the provision. There is no need to restrict the meaning of an expression same nature.”

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Amar Nath v. Gian Chand, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 102

The Division Bench of K.M. Joseph* and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, JJ., held that mere writing the word “cancelled” or drawing a line would not render Power of Attorney null and void as there must be cancellation and it must further be brought to the notice of the third party at any rate.

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CBI v. Uttamchand Bohra2021 SCC OnLine SC 1208

While dealing with a case of abetment and conspiracy for commission of criminal misconduct by public servant, the Division Bench of K.M. Joseph and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ., held that Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act cannot be invoked against a non-public servant. Clarifying the standard of suspicion to make out a prima facie case for conspiracy, the Bench stated,

“The material to implicate someone as a conspirator acting in concert with a public servant, alleged to have committed misconduct, under the PCA, or amassed assets disproportionate to a public servant’s known sources of income, has to be on firm ground.”

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Korukonda Chalapathi v. Korukonda Annapurna Sampath Kumar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 847

The Division Bench of K.M Joseph* and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., held that an unregistered family settlement document is admissible to be placed “in” evidence if it does not by itself affect the transaction though the same cannot be allowed “as” evidence. The Bench expressed,

“Merely admitting the Khararunama containing record of the alleged past transaction, is not to be understood as meaning that if those past transactions require registration, then, the mere admission, in evidence of the Khararunama and the receipt would produce any legal effect on the immovable properties in question.”

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 Commissioner of Police v. Raj Kumar2021 SCC OnLine SC 637

The Bench of K.M. Joseph and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ. while addressing the matter, observed that,

“Public service – like any other, pre-supposes that the state employer has an element of latitude or choice on who should enter its service. Norms, based on principles, govern essential aspects such as qualification, experience, age, number of attempts permitted to a candidate, etc. These, broadly constitute eligibility conditions required of each candidate or applicant aspiring to enter public service.”

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 Manohar Lal Sharma v. Narendra Damodardas Modi2018 SCC OnLine SC 2807

A Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ. dismissed the petitions pertaining to seeking probe in ‘Rafale Deal’ by stating that “we find no reason for any intervention by this Court on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 defence aircrafts by the Indian Government.”

The present judgment given by the 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court dealt with 4 writ petitions in regard to procurement of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets for the Indian Airforce.

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Manish Kumar v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 30

The 3-Judge Bench of Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph, JJ., in a 465-pages long judgment, upheld the validity of several provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Act, 2020, albeit with directions given in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. While so upholding the impugned amendments, the Bench expressed an observation that:

“There is nothing like a perfect law and as with all human institutions, there are bound to be imperfections. What is significant is however for the court ruling on constitutionality, the law must present a clear departure from constitutional limits.”

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Gautam Navlakha v. National Investigation Agency, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 382

In a major verdict, the bench of UU Lalit and KM Joseph, JJ has held that it is open for Courts to order house arrest under Section 167 CrPC in appropriate cases. The order comes as a milestone for curbing the problem of overcrowded prisons and high cost for their maintenance.

Indicating the criteria for house arrest, the Court highlighted factors like like age, health condition and the antecedents of the accused, the nature of the crime, the need for other forms of custody, the ability to enforce the terms of the house arrest, etc.

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Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 374

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph, JJ has issued notice in a plea seeking declaration of Section 124-A IPC to as unconstitutional and void.

The order came after Senior Advocate Colin Gonalves submitted before the Court that the decision of the Court in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar, 1962 Supp. (2) SCR 769 requires reconsideration.

The notice is returnable on July 12, 2021.

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Iffco Tokio General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pearl Beverages2021 SCC OnLine SC 309

In an interesting case, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph, JJ has held that while in case where there is a blood test or breath test, which indicates that there is no consumption at all, undoubtedly, it would not be open to the insurer to set up the case of exclusion, however, the absence of test may not disable the insurer from establishing a case for exclusion from liability on ground of drunk driving.

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P. Mohanraj v. Shah Brother Ispat Pvt. Ltd.,2021 SCC OnLine SC 152

The 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph, JJ has, analysing various provisions under the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Court concluded that the proceedings under Section 138 are “quasi-criminal” in nature.

The Court held that

“a Section 138/141 proceeding against a corporate debtor is covered by Section 14(1)(a) of the IBC.”

In a 120-pages long verdict, the Supreme Court tackled the following issues to reach at the aforementioned conclusion:

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Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Pty Ltd v. MMTC Ltd, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1030

While settling the dispute between Anglo American Metallurgical Coal (AAMC) and MMTC Ltd, the bench of RF Nariman and KM Joseph, JJ had the occasion to explain the concept of “patent” and “latent” ambiguity and held,

“… a “patent ambiguity” provision, as contained in section 94 of the Evidence Act, is only applicable when a document applies accurately to existing facts, which includes how a particular word is used in a particular sense.”

In the said case, the bench has set aside the decision of the division bench of Delhi High Court and has restored the Majority Award dated 12.05.2014 and the Single Judge’s judgment dated 10.07.2015 dismissing the application made under section 34 of the Arbitration Act by MMTC.

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Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh2020 SCC OnLine SC 983

The 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, KM Joseph and Anirudhha Bose, JJ has directed all the States and UTs to install CCTV cameras in all Police Stations and file compliance affidavits within 6 weeks.

The Court said that the directions are in furtherance of the fundamental rights of each citizen of India guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and hence, the Executive/Administrative/police authorities are to implement this Order both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible.

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Seelan v. Inspector of Police,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 1028

In a 20-year-old case relating to rape of a 6-year-old, the 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph, JJ has dismissed the special leave petition filed by the convict, thereby rejecting the contention that since the petitioner has only one hand, it would be physically impossible to have committed an act of rape. The Court said that there is no such impossibility.

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Bikramjit Singh v. State of Punjab, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 824

The 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph, JJ has held that the right to default bail is not a mere statutory right under the first proviso to Section 167(2) CrPC, but is part of the procedure established by law under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which is, therefore, a fundamental right granted to an accused person to be released on bail once the conditions of the first proviso to Section 167(2) are fulfilled.

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Firoz Iqbal Khan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 737

“An insidious attempt has been made to insinuate that the community is involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services.”

The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph, JJ has stayed the further telecast in continuation of or similar to the episodes which were telecast on 11, 12, 13 and 14 September, 2020 by Sudarshan news either under the same or any other title or caption. The case deals with telecast of a programme titled ‘Bindaas Bol’ on Sudarshan News which allegedly vilifies the Muslim community by portraying it to be involved in an act of terror or, as it is labeled, “jehad” in infiltrating the civil services of the nation.

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Notable Judgments at the High Court of Kerala (2004-2014)


Kapico Kerala Resorts (P) Ltd., v. Ratheesh K.R., 2013 SCC OnLine Ker 24580

The Division Bench of K.M. Joseph and K. Harilal, JJ. had ordered to demolish the Kapico Resorts at Panavally in Nediyathuruthu, which was constructed violating Coastal Regulation Zone Rules. The Bench stated, “we cannot ignore the fact that we have also held that the island would fall otherwise in CRZ III and therein the construction would be impermissible. We also notice that in the recommendation of the committee the CRZ on the bank of filtration ponds/pokali fields of Kerala needs to be in CRZ-III. No doubt here the petitioners have a case that constructions could be regularised as it were and also it is important that at any rate property of the island was properly classified for all times”. Admittedly, the company had not sought or got permission for the construction as required under the guidelines.

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Ratheesh. K.R v. State of Kerala, 2013 SCC OnLine Ker 14359

The Division Bench of K.M. Joseph and K. Harilal, JJ., addressed the controversy involving ediyathuruthu and Vettilathuruthu, once two sleepy islands which lay nestled in the Vembanad Lake which is the longest lake in India and a backwater in the State of Kerala. Is there violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notifications issued in the year 1991 and 2011, and is there encroachment on puramboke land and kayal, were the questions which substantially arise for consideration. The Bench held that the Notifications issued were intended to protect the coasts, the environment in general and to achieve the sustainable development, particularly of the fisher folk and other local population. The Notifications were meant to be enforced with full vigour. Circulars had been issued to the local bodies, however, only lip service had been paid if at all to the terms of the Notifications. The Bench remarked that by such callous indifference and consequent blatant violation of the Notifications, a law which was meant to address serious environmental issues which adversely affect the present and future generations, was being completely undermined.

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K.V Balan v. Sivagiri Sree Narayana Dharma Sanghom Trust, 2005 SCC OnLine Ker 504

The 3-judge Bench of J.B Koshy, K.M Joseph and K.R Udayabhanu, JJ., settled the questions of law referred to be decided by the Full Bench:

(i) Whether an appeal will lie against the order of a single Judge passed under Section 24 of the Code of Civil Procedure;

(ii) When such proceedings are under consideration can the learned single Judge pass interim orders; and

(iii) If interim orders are passed by the single Judge, whether appeals to the Division Bench can be filed from such interim orders.

______________________________________________________________________________

Rehim v. M.V Jayarajan, 2010 SCC OnLine Ker 3344

The 3-judge Bench of Chelameswar, CJ., A.K Basheer and K.M Joseph, JJ. addressed the questions regarding contempt jurisdiction of the Court and relevant procedures to be followed for the same:

(i) Whether a contempt case such as the one sought to be presented before this Court, which is not either moved by the Advocate General or by a person after duly obtaining consent of the Advocate General can be placed before the High Court on the judicial side or should it be considered by the Chief Justice on the administrative side as opined by a Division Bench of this Court in its order dated 19.2.2007 in an unnumbered Cont. Case (Crl.) of 2007 = 2007 (1) KLT 897 (One Earth One Life v. Sindhu Joy);

(ii) Whether it is competent for the Chief Justice or a Judge nominated by him thereupon to take a decision whether a contempt case should be registered and placed before the appropriate Bench for preliminary hearing…

______________________________________________________________________________

Self Financing Para Medical Managements Assn. v. State of Kerala, 2014 SCC OnLine Ker 28526

The Division Bench of K.M Joseph and A.K Jayasankaran Nambiar, JJ., declared that the State Government has no power to fix the fee structure in respect of the para-medical courses conducted by self financing institutions save to the limited extent of ensuring that they were not exploitative in nature and that no capitation fee was charged. It was further declared that any restriction, by the State Government, on the autonomy of the self-financing institutions in the matter of conduct of paramedical courses in the State, would be effected only through enacted law of the State legislature and not through executive orders.

______________________________________________________________________________

♦Did you know?  When the Collegium proposed Justice K.M. Joseph’s name  for elevation to the Supreme Court the first time it was rejected by the Union government[5]. It was only after the Collegium reiterated his name a second time that he got elevated to the Supreme Court.[[6]]


As the Chief Justice of High Court of Uttaranchal (2014-2018)


One of the most significant judgment delivered by Justice K.M. Joseph as the CJ of Uttranchal High Court was in Harish Chandra Singh Rawat v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Utt 502, wherein he had quashed the imposition of President’s Rule in 2016 by the BJP led Union government in the state of Uttarakhand. His decision in this case was of far reaching political implication as it invalidated the President’s rule imposed by the Governor and restored the Harish Rawat led Congress Government in Uttarakhand. It was one of the rare instances where the Court had restored the previous government after striking down the Governor’s rule.[[7]]


†Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20130628090239/http://www.highcourtofkerala.nic.in/kmjoseph.html

[2]https://www.scobserver.in/judges?id=justice-k-m-joseph

[3] Ibid.

[4] 2003 SCC OnLine Ker 218

[5] https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2018/04/27/heres-why-centre-asked-the-collegium-to-reconsider-justice-km-josephs-elevation/

[6] https://indianexpress.com/article/who-is/who-is-justice-kuttiyil-mathew-joseph-5152643/

[7] https://www.scobserver.in/judges?id=justice-k-m-joseph

Know thy Judge

“Policy for compassionate appointment, which has the force of law, must not discriminate on any of the grounds mentioned in Article 16(2) of the Constitution, including that of ‘descent’”

 –  Justice P.S. Narasimha in Mukesh Kumar v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 229


Early Life and Career


Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha was born on 3rd May, 1963 to Justice Kodanda Ramayya, who was also a judge and an eminent legal writer. Brought up in Hyderabad, Justice Narasimha passed his LL. B in 1988 and started practicing in Andhra Pradesh High Court. Thereafter he moved to New Delhi to practice at the Supreme Court of India and in 2008, he was designated as a Senior Advocate[1]. In May 2014, Justice Narasimha was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General. He held this position till 15th December, 2018[2], having resigned from the post citing personal reasons[3]. He was also a member of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).[4]


Prominent Cases as a Counsel


During his tenure as a Senior Advocate, Justice Narasimha played a key role in many crucial cases; most notable among them being the BCCI matters and Ayodhya Land Dispute. In the BCCI matters, Justice Narasimha was not only an amicus curiae (friend of the court), later on, he was also appointed as a mediator in all the matters relating to BCCI pending before the Supreme Court.

In M. Siddiq (Ram Janmabhumi Temple-5 J.) v. Suresh Das, (2020) 1 SCC 1 , also known as the Ayodhya Land Dispute; Justice Narasimha was one of the many prominent counsels who appeared in the matter. Narasimha’s arguments in the matter centered around the belief of Hindus that the site in question is the birthplace of Lord Ram – “The test, which has to be applied for marshalling the evidence is the standard of preponderance of probability… proof of fact depends upon the belief or probability of the fact looking to the circumstances of the particular case”.

Justice Narasimha also represented the Indian side at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in the Italian Marines Case[5].


As Judge of the Supreme Court


The Supreme Court Collegium issued a Statement whereby the elevation of P.S. Narasimha as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India was recommended.  Based on the recommendation, the President of India then appointed him and 8 others as Judges of the Supreme Court.

♦Did You Know? Justice P.S. Narasimha is the 9th lawyer to be directly elevated as Supreme Court Judge[6].


Notable decisions by Justice Narasimha  


Sushil Kumar v. State of Haryana, (2022) 3 SCC 203

In a case where a Constable’s name was recommended by the Superintendent of Police but the same was dropped down by the Inspector General of Police for promotion under the 10% quota of outstanding performance for inclusion in the B-I List for promotion to the post of Head Constable in the year 2004, the bench of KM Joseph and PS Narsimha, JJ has held that mere recommendation of the SP at the initial stage is not sufficient to claim a right for promotion. Read more


Mukesh Kumar v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 229

Holding that the condition imposed by the Railway Board circular that compassionate appointment cannot be granted to children born from the second wife of a deceased employee is discriminatory, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha, JJ., held that an applicant cannot be denied consideration under the scheme of compassionate appointments only because he is the son of the second wife of his father.

“Familial origins include the validity of the marriage of the parents of a claimant of compassionate appointment and the claimant’s legitimacy as their child. The policy cannot discriminate against a person only on the ground of descent by classifying children of the deceased employee as legitimate and illegitimate and recognizing only the right of legitimate descendant.”  

Read more


RTA v. Shaju, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 209

The Division Bench comprising of K.M. Joseph and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, JJ., held that Rule 174(2)(c) of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules,1989 is valid and salutary and does not go beyond the scope of Section 83 of the MV Act, 1988. While interpreting the expression “same nature” the Bench observed that such expressions are better kept open ended to enable courts to subserve the needs of changing circumstances. The Bench expressed,

“…the assumption in the impugned judgment that the expression “same nature” is confined only to, mean “a bus by bus, a mini-bus by mini-bus and not bus by a minibus….” is not a correct way to read the provision. There is no need to restrict the meaning of an expression ‘same nature’.”  

Read more


Amar Nath v. Gian Chand, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 102

The Division Bench of K.M. Joseph and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, JJ., held that mere writing the word “cancelled” or drawing a line would not render Power of Attorney null and void as there must be cancellation and it must further be brought to the notice of the third party at any rate. Read more


Sukh Dutt Ratra v. State of H.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 410

In a case where the bench of S. Ravindra Bhat and P.S. Narasimha, JJ., were posed with the question as to whether the State can, merely on the ground of delay and laches, evade its legal responsibility towards those from whom private property has been expropriated, answering in negative, the bench held that the State cannot shield itself behind the ground of delay and laches as there cannot be a ‘limitation’ to doing justice. Read more


Olx India B.V. v. State of Haryana, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 286

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and PS Narsimha, JJ has set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order directing that the advertisements on OLX platform be deleted and be re-listed only after attaching an open PDF file along with each advertisement containing proofs and certificates. Read more


NOIDA v. Yunus, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 138

The bench of KM Joseph and PS Narasimha, JJ were called upon to decide whether the Award passed by a Lok Adalat under 0 can form the basis for redetermination of compensation as contemplated under Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The Court held that an application under Section 28A of the LA Act cannot be maintained on the basis of an award passed by the Lok Adalat under Section 20 of LSA Act. Read more


Ramesh Chandra Srivastava v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 741

The bench of KM Joseph and PS Narasimha, JJ., reiterated the test laid down for invoking the power under Section 319 CrPC and has held that only when strong and cogent evidence occurs against a person from the evidence the power under Section 319, CrPC should be exercised. The power cannot be exercised in a casual and cavalier manner. Read more


Irfan v. State of M. P

The 3-Bench comprising of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and P.S. Narasimha, JJ., issued notice to Madhya Pradesh government on being appraised that there is a policy of incentivising public prosecutors for obtaining capital punishments in matters prosecuted by them. Read more


B.A. Umesh v. Union of India

 While addressing an appeal alleging solitary confinement of a death row convict, the 3-Judge Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and P.S. Narasimha, JJ., directed local inspection by a District Judge to throw light on the ground situation. Read more   


†Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

[1] Soon To- be Judge P.S. Narasimha, Times of India

[2] P.S. Narasimha, SC Observer

[3]  PS Narasimha resigns a ASG, Economic Times

[4] Legal Aid, Supreme Court of India

[5] Italian Marines Case, NDTV

[6] PS Narsimha elevation, Live Law

Know thy Judge

“With human lives pausing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, viral photos show that nature is fighting back. With the flora returning and fauna thriving, it is evident that the pitiable state of global ecology is not a state of our geographical inheritance.

– Justice Surya Kant[1]


Justice Surya Kant was born on February 10, 1962 in Hisar (Haryana). He earned his LLB degree in 1984 from Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak. He began practicing in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1985 and designated as Senior Advocate in March, 2001. [2]

Justice Kant held the office of Advocate General, Haryana till his elevation as a permanent Judge to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 09-01-2004. He become Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court on 03-10-2018 and then elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 24-05-2019.[3]


Notable Judgments at Supreme Court


Lawyers Voice v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 42

After a massive security lapse that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi stuck on a highway in Punjab for 20 minutes on January 5, 2022, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ has observed that the matter cannot be left to be resolved through one-sided enquiries and a judicially trained independent mind, duly assisted by officers who are well acquainted   with the security considerations and the Registrar General of the High Court who has seized the record,   would be best placed to effectively visit all issues and submit a comprehensive report. The Court, hence, formed a committee to be chaired by Justice Indu Malhotra, former Supreme Court Judges.

Read More…


 Parvati Devi v. State of Bihar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1285

Despite a slipshod investigation in a case, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hima Kohli*, JJ has upheld the conviction of a man guilty of killing his wife within a few months of the marriage on her failing to satisfy the demands of dowry. The deceased Fulwa Devi had gone missing from her matrimonial home and her body was found on the bank of river Barakar after a week.

Read More…


N. Raghavender v. State of A.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1232

The 3-Judge Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ., held that the Bank is not the trustee of the money that a customer deposits in a bank and the same is not held by the former on trust for him. The money so deposited becomes a part of the banker’s funds who is under a contractual obligation to pay the sum deposited by a customer to him on demand with the agreed rate of interest. Such a relationship between the customer and the Bank is one of a creditor and a debtor.

Read More…


 Ravindra Kumar Dhariwal v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1293

In a case where the CRPF had initiated disciplinary proceeding against a person with a medical history of obsessive compulsive disorder  and depression and has been undergoing treatment for the same since 2009, the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath, JJ has held that the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against persons with mental disabilities is a facet of indirect discrimination as such persons suffer a disproportionate disadvantage due to the impairment and are more likely to be subjected to disciplinary proceedings.

“…while the stigma and discrimination against persons with mental health disorders are rampant in society, as the highest constitutional court of the country, it falls upon us to ensure that societal discrimination does not translate into legal discrimination.”

Read More…


Citizens for Green Doon v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1243

The 3-jude-bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath, JJ has asked the Government to make a significant alteration in the approach to Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna by adopting sustainable measures in line with High Powered Committee’s recommendations and has said that,

“Piecemeal implementation of some mitigation measures for protection of the environment, without any concrete strategy in place, cannot pass muster.”

Read More…


Surinder Singh v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1135

Explaining the principles of sentencing policy, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant* and AS Bopanna, JJ has held that while there are practical difficulties in achieving absolute consistency in regards to sentencing, the awarding of just and proportionate sentence remains the solemn duty of the Courts and they should not be swayed by nonrelevant factors while deciding the quantum of sentence.

Read More…

Explained| Is ‘motive’ an indispensable ingredient for proving the charge of attempt to murder? | Read More…


 Bijendar v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1028

In a case where the Trial Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court had shifted the burden of proof on the accused merely for the reason that there has been a rise in the incidents of dacoity, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that the Trial Court and the High Court have erroneously drawn adverse inference against the accused, in spite of the Prosecution having lamentably failed to adequately dispense with its burden of proof to depict culpability of the accused.

“It may not be wise or prudent to convict a person only because there is rampant increase in heinous crimes and victims are oftenly reluctant to speak truth due to fear or other extraneous reasons.”

Read More…


Manohar Lal Sharma v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 985

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ has appointed an Expert Committee to look into the truth or falsity of the allegations in the Pegasus Spyware case, “taking into account the public importance and the alleged scope and nature of the large-scale violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.”

While the Supreme Court was initially reluctant in interfering in the matter due to lack of material placed before it, here’s why it eventually decided to step in.

Read More…

Explained| Can proceeding under SC/ST Act be quashed on the basis of compromise between accused and victim? | Read More…


 State of M.P. v. Mahendra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 965

In a case where the accused had lured minor girls aged 8 and 9, took them inside the room, closed the doors and rubbed his genitals against those of the victims, the bench of Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that these acts were deliberately done with manifest intention to commit the offence of rape and were reasonably proximate to the consummation of the offence.

The Court held that since the acts of the respondent exceeded the stage beyond preparation and preceded the actual penetration, he was guilty of attempting to commit rape as punishable within the ambit and scope of Section 511 read with Section 375 IPC as it stood in force at the time of occurrence. The incident dates back to the year 2005.

Read More…


Vipin Kumar Dhir v. State of Punjab,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 854

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ has explained the principles governing cancellation of bail and has held that it is necessary that ‘cogent and overwhelming reasons’ are present for the cancellation of bail.

“Conventionally, there can be supervening circumstances which may develop post the grant of bail and are non-conducive to fair trial, making it necessary to cancel the bail.”

Read More…


PLR Projects (P) Ltd v. Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 332

Taking note of the existing 220 vacancies in the High Courts, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobe, CJ and SK Kaul and Surya Kant, JJ stressed upon the importance of the Chief Justices of the High Courts making recommendations in time and said that there is no such impediment to initiate a new process without waiting for the result of the earlier recommendations.

The Court noted that the vacancies are known and the norms permit making recommendations up to six months in advance. However, even recommendations for 220 existing vacancies appear not to have been made much less for vacancies, which are going to arise in the next six months.

Read More…


Kalamani Tex v. P. Balasubramanian, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 75

The 3-Judge Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana, Surya Kant* and Aniruddha Bose, JJ., upheld the judgement of High Court of Judicature at Madras, whereby the order of acquittal of the Judicial Magistrate was reversed and the appellants had been convicted under Section 138 of the NIA, 1881. The Bench expressed,

“Once the appellant 2 had admitted his signatures on the cheque and the Deed, the trial Court ought to have presumed that the cheque was issued as consideration for a legally enforceable debt.”

Read More…


Union of India v. K.A. Najeeb, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 50

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, Surya Kant* and Anirudhha Bose, JJ  has refused to interfere with the bail granted by Kerala High Court to KA Najeeb arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 but has imposed the condition that Najeeb shall mark his presence every week on Monday at 10AM at the local police station and inform in writing that he is not involved in any other new crime. He shall also refrain from participating in any activity which might enrage communal sentiments.

“In case the respondent is found to have violated any of his bail conditions or attempted to have tampered the evidence, influence witnesses, or hamper the trial in any other way, then the Special Court shall be at liberty to cancel his bail forthwith.”

Read More…


Shah Faesal v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 1

In a writ petition filled under Article 32 of the Constitution of India pertaining to two Constitution Orders issued by the President of India in exercise of his powers under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, a Full judge Constitution bench of NV Ramana, SK Kaul, R. Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, held that no cause was made out to refer the matter to a larger bench as there is no conflict between the judgments in the Prem Nath Kaul v. State of J & K, AIR 1959 SC 749 and the Sampat Prakash v. State of J & K, AIR 1970 SC 1118. The Court observed that

“Judgments cannot be interpreted in a vacuum, separate from their facts and context. Observations made in a judgment cannot be selectively picked in order to give them a particular meaning.”

Read More


Kantaru Rajeevaru (Right to Religion, In re-9 J.) v. Indian Young Lawyers Assn., (2020) 3 SCC 52

The 9-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, while framing seven issues in the Sabrimala reference, opined that the same can be refered to a larger bench in its Review jurisdiction.

Read More


Ravi v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 622

“A civic society has a `fundamental’ and `human’ right to live free from any kind of psycho fear, threat, danger or insecurity at the hands of anti-social elements.”

A 3-judge bench comprising of R. F. Nariman, Surya Kant* and R. Subhash Reddy JJ., following the judgment in the case of California v. Ramos, 463 U.S. 992 where it was observed that “qualitative difference of death from all other punishments requires a correspondingly greater degree of scrutiny of the capital sentencing determination” and upheld (2:1) the death penalty awarded to an accused for rape and murder of a two- year old girl.

The Court observed that the Sentencing Policy needs to strike a balance between (a) deterrent effect and (b) complete reformation for integration of the offender.

 “The Legislature has impliedly distanced itself from the propounders of “No-Death Sentence” in “No Circumstances” theory and has re-stated the will of the people that in the cases of brutal rape of minor children below the age of 12years without murder of the victim, `death penalty’ can also be imposed.”

The Court shedding the light on duty of the Court and expectation of the people of the country, observed that

“The society legitimately expects the Courts to apply doctrine of proportionality and impose suitable and deterent punishment that commensurate(s) with the gravity of offence.”

Read More…


Rajesh Dhiman v. State of H.P., (2020) 10 SCC 740

“If two reasonably probable and evenly balanced views of the evidence are possible, one must necessarily concede the existence of a reasonable doubt. But, fanciful and remote possibilities must be left out of account.”

A 3-judge bench comprising of NV Ramana, Surya Kant,* Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., analysing the issues (1) whether bias was caused by complainant also being the investigating officer, (2) whether alternate version has been established and what is the effect of lack of independent witnesses and (3) whether High Court erred in reversing acquittal in appeal, held that firstly, the mere fact that the investigating officer was also the complainant would not entitle an accused to acquittal and that it was necessary to demonstrate either actual bias or real likelihood of bias. Secondly, if alternate version has been established, the evidence given must only be so conclusive that all reasonable doubts are removed from the mind of an ordinary person and in the present case, the appellant failed to make out a case with alternate version. Moreover, it was held that non­-examination of independent witnesses would not ipso facto entitle one to seek acquittal. Thirdly, the Court held that High Courts could reverse acquittals and award appropriate sentence, including where there are patent errors of law, grave miscarriage of justice, or perverse findings of fact.


Raveen Kumar v. State of H.P., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 869

“The Supreme Court in exercise of its powers under Article 136 ordinarily examines only whether the High Court has failed to correctly apply principles governing appeals against acquittal.”

A 3-judge bench comprising of NV Ramana, Surya Kant,* Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., relying on the judgment in the case of Hira Singh v. Union of India: 2020 SCC OnLine SC 382, held that for the purpose of sentencing and determining whether the threshold of ‘commercial quantity’ was met, the total quantity of the mixture, including the neutral substance is relevant.

The Court clarifying the moot point whether High Court can set aside a finding of acquittal, held that there was no bar on a High Court set aside a finding of acquittal by a lower court.

“There is no difference of power, scope, jurisdiction or limitation under the CrPC between appeals against judgments of conviction or of acquittal. An appellate court is free to reconsider questions of law as well as fact, and re appreciate the entirety of evidence on record. There is, nonetheless, a self-restraint on the exercise of such power, considering the interests of justice and the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence. In practice, appellate courts are reluctant to interfere with orders of acquittal, especially when two reasonable conclusions are possible on the same material.”

The Court also opined that courts should be cautious while relying on any evidence which the witness had not been confronted with despite an opportunity to do so.


Kirti v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 3

“…the conception that housemakers do not “work” or that they do not add economic value to the household is a problematic idea that has persisted for many years and must be overcome.”

While deciding a motor vehicle claim and taking account into gendered nature of housework, a 3-judge bench of NV Ramana,* SA Nazeer and Surya Kant,* JJ., has increased the total motor accident compensation of Rs 22 lakhs awarded by the Delhi High Court to Rs 33.20 lakhs and held that “any compensation awarded by a Court ought to be just, reasonable and consequently must undoubtedly be guided by principles of fairness, equity, and good conscience.”

[Conception that housemakers do not add economic value to the household is “a problematic idea”; Future prospect must be granted in case of motor accident of a non-earning victim: SC] Read More…

[Can Subsequent Death Of A Dependent Be A Reason For Reduction Of Motor Accident Compensation? Supreme Court Answers] Read More…


Nimay Sah v. State of Jharkhand, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 982

While acquitting, the appellant who was convicted under Section 498-A read with 34 IPC for the death of his brother’s wife, a division bench of NV Ramana* and Surya Kant, JJ., held that apart from the vague allegations there is no substantial proof to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant was genuinely liable.

“…on consideration of the oral testimonies of the witnesses, the ingredients of Section 498-A IPC have not been proved against the appellant-accused by the prosecution at the standard of beyond reasonable doubt.”

Read More…


Rohtas v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1014

“The duty of the prosecution is to seek not just conviction but to ensure that justice is done. The prosecution must put forth the best evidence collected in the investigation.”

While deciding the criminal appeals, a 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, Surya Kant* and Aniruddha Bose, JJ., held that usually the ‘common intention’ is indirectly inferred from conduct of the individuals and rarely through direct evidence and that the appellants are individually guilty for the offence of attempted murder, without the aid of Section 149 IPC because

The Court also explained the difference between Sections 34 and 149 of the IPC and held that

“Although both Section 34 and 149 of the IPC are modes for apportioning vicarious liability on the individual members of a group, there exist a few important differences between these two provisions. Whereas Section 34 requires active participation and a prior meeting of minds, Section 149 IPC assigns liability merely by membership of the unlawful assembly. In reality, such ‘common intention’ is usually indirectly inferred from conduct of the individuals and only seldom it is done through direct evidence.”

Read More…


Pravin Kumar v. Union of India, (2020) 9 SCC 471

“Judicial review is an evaluation of the decision ­making process and not the merits of the decision itself.”

While dismissing the appeal, a 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, SA Nazeer and Surya Kant,* JJ., held that the employer always retains the right to conduct an independent disciplinary proceeding, irrespective of the outcome of a criminal proceeding.

The Court while analysing the issue whether strict rules of evidence can be applied to disciplinary proceedings, held that strict rules of evidence and procedure of a criminal trial are inapplicable to disciplinary proceedings. The Court also observed that though strict rules of evidence are inapplicable to disciplinary proceedings, but sometimes under certain circumstances it becomes necessary and enquiry officers put questions to witnesses in such proceedings in order to discover the truth

Discussing the scope of Judicial Review in service matters, the Court opined that

“Constitutional Courts while exercising their powers of judicial review would not assume the role of an appellate authority. Their jurisdiction is circumscribed by limits of correcting errors of law, procedural errors leading to manifest injustice or violation of principles of natural justice.”

Read More…


Jitendra Singh v. Ministry of Environment, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1510

“Protection of such village-commons is essential to safeguard the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution.”

A Division Bench of Arun Mishra and Surya Kant,* JJ., while deciding an appeal for forcible possession of a common, local village-pond by the respondent industrialists, held that ponds are public utilities meant for common use and that schemes which extinguish local water bodies albeit with alternatives are violative of Constitutional mandate provided under Article 21 of the Constitution of India therefore are liable to be struck down.

“Waterbodies, specifically, are an important source of fishery and much needed potable water. Many areas of this country perennially face a water crisis and access to drinking water is woefully inadequate for most Indians. Allowing such invaluable community resources to be taken over by a few is hence grossly illegal.”


CBI v. Sakru Mahagu Binjewar, (2019) 20 SCC 102

“A real and abiding concern for the dignity of human life postulates resistance to taking a life through law’s instrumentality. That ought to be done save in the rarest of rare case when the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed.”

A 3-judge bench of of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Surya Kant,* JJ., dismissed an appeal filed by the CBI challenging commutation of death penalty by the High Court in a murder case.

Relying on Swamy Shraddananda v. State of Karnataka: (2008) 13 SCC 767, the Court held that Section 57 IPC does not in any way limit the punishment of imprisonment for life to a term of 20 years. Therefore, he upheld the commutation of a death penalty to 25-years ‘actual imprisonment’.


In Re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Prisons, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 344

“Having regard to the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it has become imperative to ensure that the spread of the Corona Virus within the prisons is controlled.”

A 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant, JJ., noticing the issue of overcrowding of prisons is a matter of serious concern particularly in the present context of the pandemic of Corona Virus (COVID – 19), directed that the States/Union Territories to constitute a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate.

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Bhagwan Singh v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 336

“A gun licensed for self-protection or safety and security of crops and cattle cannot be fired in celebratory events, it being a potential cause of fatal accidents.”

Partly allowing the appeal, a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ., BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ., opined that celebratory firing of guns licensed for self protection needs to stop.

The Court held that

“appellants cannot escape the consequences of carrying the gun with live cartridges with the knowledge that firing at a marriage ceremony with people present there was imminently dangerous and was likely to cause death.”

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Closure of Mid-Day Meal Scheme, In re, (2020) 12 SCC 213

“While dealing with one crisis, the situation may not lead to creation of another crisis.”

Taking Sou Motu cognizance on non-availability of mid-day meals for children due to the closure of schools due to coronavirus spread, a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ., BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ., directed that the States to come out with a uniform policy with the measures preventing spread of COVID-19 and also ensuring that the schemes for providing nutritional food to the children and nursing and lactating mothers are not affected.

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Prahaladbhai Jagabhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 109

Relying on the judgment in the case of Babu Singh v. State of U.P: (1978) 1 SCC 579, a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ., BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ., in the interests of justice to directed to release the appellants on bail.

The Court observed that

“punitive harshness should be minimized and restorative devises to redeem the man, even through community service, meditative drill, etc. should be innovated.”

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In re: Assessment of the Criminal Justice System in response to Sexual Offences, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1654

“The need for speedy trial of the cases relating to offence of rape has been emphasized again and again this Court.”

Taking Sou Motu cognizance on assessment of the criminal justice system in response to sexual offences, a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ., BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ., noted that while the Nirbhaya gang rape case of 2012 has shocked the conscience of the nation but “the Nirbhaya case is not an isolated case where it has taken so long to reach finality. In fact, it is said that it has been one of the cases where agencies have acted swiftly taking into account the public outrage.”

The Court has called for records and status reports from all the States on various aspects of the criminal justice system in cases of sexual offences and held that previous sexual experience and in effect habituation to sexual intercourse is now irrelevant for the purpose of medical examination.

“Per-Vaginum examination commonly referred to as ‘Two-finger test’ has been held to be of no consequence and violative of the dignity of woman.”

The Court further held that, Forensic examination and report play important role during investigation as well as trial for linking the culprit with crime. Similarly, Medical treatment and examination of victim also plays a very important role.

“The sampling for the purpose of DNA test as well other forensic tests like forensic odontology is essential in cases relating to rape.”

“Medical treatment and examination of the victim is a very important aspect not only for the immediate relief to the victim but also provides intrinsic evidences for the trial.”

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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, A 3-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.

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Manoharan v. State, (2020) 5 SCC 782

Dismissing the review petition filed by Appellant to review it’s 2:1 verdict awarding death sentence, a 3-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 a passion but a well crafted crime. The Crime committed by the Appellant were grave and shock 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.

 “It was not in the spur of the moment or a crime of passion; but craftily planned, meticulously executed and with multiple opportunities to cease and desist.”

Agreeing with the Justice Surya Kant on the dismissal of review petition and upholding of the conviction of the accused, Justice Khanna held that there is no good ground and reasons to review his observations and findings in the minority judgment.

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Ishwari Lal Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2019) 10 SCC 437

“There cannot be any hard and fast rule for balancing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Each case has to be decided on its own merits.”

A 3-judge bench comprising of R. F. Nariman, Surya Kant and R. Subhash Reddy* JJ., placing reliance on the case of Sushil Murmu v. State of Jharkhand: (2004) 2 SCC 338, opined that this case fulfils the test of rarest of rare cases as it involved gruesome murder for human sacrifice of 2 yr old boy.

Justice Reddy observed that

“Having regard to age of the accused, they were not possessed of the basic humanness, they completely lacked the psyche or mindset which can be amenable for any reformation.”

The Court also placed emphasised on extra-judicial confession and opined that

“It is true that extrajudicial confession, is a weak piece of evidence but at the same time if the same is corroborated by other evidences on record, such confession can be taken into consideration to prove the guilt of the accused.”


Gurcharan Singh v. State of Punjab, (2020) 10 SCC 200

“As in all crimes, mens rea has to be established.”

Allowing a Criminal appeal, a 3-bench of NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy,* JJ., overturned the conviction of the appellant under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.

The Court observed that to make out the case of abetment under Section 107 IPC, the accused should instigate a person either by act of omission or commission but in the present case there is no direct evidence to show that cruelty was committed by the husband or the in-laws or particular hope or expectation of the deceased was frustrated by the husband or there was wilful neglect of the appellant which led to the suicidal death.

The Court reiterated the necessary ingredients as set out in SS Chheena v. Vijay Kumar Mahajan (2010) 12 SCC 190 and relied on Mangat Ram v. State of Haryana (2014) 12 SCC 595 and observed that

“To prove the offence of abetment, as specified under Sec 107 of the IPC, the state of mind to commit a particular crime must be visible, to determine the culpability. In order to prove mens rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show that the appellant herein had a guilty mind and in furtherance of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of the deceased. The ingredient of mens rea cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous.”

The Court opined that there is no evidence of any overt act or omission on part of the appellant and the trial court and the High Court had erred in relying on conjecture and speculation in deciding the appellant’s guilt i.e. abetting the suicide of his wife.

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Karulal v. State of M.P., 2020 SCC OnLine SC 818

“The testimony of the related witness, if found to be truthful, can be the basis of conviction”

Dismissing a appeal, a 3-bench of NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy,* JJ., upheld the conviction of the appellants under Section 148, 302 r/w 149 IPC.

The Court relied on the judgement in the case of Dalip Singh v. State of Punjab: AIR 1953 SC 364, Khurshid Ahmed v. State of J & K: (2018) 7 SCC 429 and Sushil v. State of U.P.: 1995 Supp (1) SCC 363 and  opined that

“…The testimony of the related witness, if found to be truthful, can be the basis of conviction (…) If the witnesses are otherwise trustworthy, past enmity by itself will not discredit any testimony. In fact the history of bad blood gives a clear motive for the crime. Therefore this aspect does not in our assessment, aid the defence in the present matter.”

The Court while discussing the about the witnesses not supported the prosecution case and turning hostile, stated that

“Some witness may not support the prosecution story for their own reasons and in such situation, it is necessary for the Court to determine whether the other available evidence comprehensively proves the charge.”


Notable Judgments at High Court


Kulwinder Singh v. State of Punjab, 2007 SCC OnLine P&H 792

“The power to do complete justice is the very essence of every judicial justice dispensation system. It cannot be diluted by distorted perceptions and is not a slave to anything, except to the caution and circumspection, the standards of which the Court sets before it, in exercise of such plenary and unfettered power inherently vested in it while donning the cloak of compassion to achieve the ends of justice.”

Over-ruling the majority view in the case of Dharambir v. State of Haryana: 2005 SCC OnLine P&H 190 and approving the minority view expressed by V.K. Bali, J., a 5-judge bench comprising of Vijender Jain,* C.J., P. Sathasivam, Rajive Bhalla, Surya Kant and Mahesh Grover, JJ., while deciding the issue “Whether the High Court has the power under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. to quash the criminal proceedings or allow the compounding of the offences in the event of the parties entering into a compromise in the cases which have been specified as non-compoundable offences and in particular, in view of the provisions of Section 320 of the Cr.P.C.?”, held that the compromise is an essential condition for harmony in the society, it is the soul of justice and if the power provided under Section 482 CrPC is used to enhance such a compromise to reduces friction then it truly is “finest hour of justice”.

“The power under Section 482 of the CrPC cannot be a hostage to one class or category of cases. That would be a complete misconstruction of the intent of the Legislature, who placed its utmost faith in the inherent power of the High Court to break free the shackle of other provisions of the Code, to give effect to any order under it or to prevent the abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. The wide amplitude of this provision of law cannot be diminished by any myopic interpretation and any straightjacket prescription.”


Jasvir Singh v. State of Punjab, 2014 SCC OnLine P&H 22479

Justice Surya Kant* while deciding whether jail inmates have a right to have a conjugal life and procreation within the jail premises and whether such right comes under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, dismissed the petition on the ground that the present jail infrastructure does not permit conjugal visits in jail but the petitioner have sufficient condition to opt for parole.

Discussing the role of Court regarding protecting the rights of prison-inmates, the Court observed that

“the Judiciary as the principal executor and promoter of the rule of law has to have major stakes in respect of the conditions prevailing in the prisons. The duty of the Courts towards jail reforms has become heavier than before after the enforcement of our Constitution as Article 21 guarantees dignified life to one and all including the prison-inmates.”

The Court held that the right to procreation survives incarceration and the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India grants inmates the right to have conjugal visits or avail of artificial insemination.

“The right to conjugal visits or procreation or for that matter the right to secure artificial insemination as a supplement, are also, thus, subject to all those reasonable restrictions including public order, moral and ethical issues and budgetary constraints which ought to be read into the enjoyment of such like fundamental right within our Constitutional framework.”

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Viresh Shandilya v. Union of India, 2004 SCC OnLine P&H 1054

In a PIL filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India regarding handing over the investigation of the “Burail Jail Break Case” to the CBI, a Division Bench of Binod Kumar Roy, C.J. and Surya Kant,* J., declined to accept a blanket ban on these facilities as it would deprive not only the majority of inmates who are mere “under-trials” from the amenity of viewing TV but also will cause adverse effects upon the reformatory methods required to be adopted in the model jails even in relation to the ‘convicts’.

“In our view, the “under-trials” as well as the “prisoners” lodged in the Model Jail Burail too have a right to information and the television can play a crucial role in that regard and to bring them in the mainstream of the civilized society, it will be too hard and anti-thesis of international conventions if a complete ban on viewing of TV is imposed.”


Madan Lal v. State of H.P., 2018 SCC OnLine HP 1495

Examining the issue whether the petitioner, as an interim measure be allowed the basic amenities of water and electricity, a Division Bench of Surya Kant,* CJ. and Ajay Mohan Goel, J., reiterated that right to water and electricity supply is an integral part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

“Potable water or electricity are integral part of Right to Life within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. These are basic necessities for human being and can well be termed as essentials of human rights.”

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Sharwan Kumar v. State of H.P, 2018 SCC OnLine HP 1695

Considering the petitioner’s concern regarding disposal of waste of the slaughtered birds or to ensure that it does not cause any nuisance to the adjoining area, a Division Bench of Surya Kant,* CJ. and Ajay Mohan Goel, J., directed the respondent authorities to ensure that the prescribed rules and conditions for setting up a slaughterhouse are meticulously complied with.

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Anil Bansal v. State of H.P., 2018 SCC OnLine HP 1617

In a PIL filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India regarding non-availability of legal aid to inmates of the jail, a Division Bench of Surya Kant,* CJ. and Ajay Mohan Goel, J., directed the respondent authorities to provide legal aid with immediate effect to jail inmates.

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Subhash Chand v. State of Haryana, 2007 SCC OnLine P&H 627

A 3-judge bench comprising of Vijender Jain, C.J., Rajive Bhalla and Surya Kant,* JJ., held that the refusal to accept the highest bid cannot foreclose the right of the highest bidder to put the action of the competent authority to judicial scrutiny, however, in those cases heavy onus will lie on the petitioner to establish his allegations as the State action shall always be presumed to be in accordance with law.

“The highest bidder who had a legitimate expectation to acquire ownership of the property, unless his bid was found to be suffering from any legal infirmity, has an indefeasible right to knock at the doors of an appropriate forum including a Constitutional Court and to question the legality of the decision of the competent authority on grounds like it being contrary to the Statute or the rules or the Constitution.”

The Court also held that the State Government cannot refuse to confirm the highest bid without assigning any valid reason and/or by giving erratic, irrational or irrelevant reasons.


†Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

* Judge who has penned the judgment.

[1] Webinar on Environment & the Economy: Re-Imagining Key Concepts and Precepts – https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/08/02/supreme-court-justice-surya-kant-speaks-on-can-nlu-shimla-webinar-on-environment-the-economy/

[2] https://main.sci.gov.in/chief-justice-judges

[3] https://www.scobserver.in/judges?id=surya-kant