Know thy Judge

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was born on 10-08-1960 in in Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand to Shri Keshav Chandra Dhulia, who was also a Judge at Allahabad High Court and Smt Sumitra Dhulia, a Sanskrit Professor. His grandfather was a freedom fighter who sentenced to jail for seven years (severed for three years and later was released) for participating in the Quit India Movement.

Did You Know? Justice Dhulia is a grandson of Pundit Bhairav Dutt Dhulia who was a freedom fighter and editor of Hindi newspaper Karmabhumi newspaper in Garhwal, Uttarakhand.

Justice Dhulia has two brothers – the elder Himanshu Dhulia, a retired naval officer, and the younger Tigmanshu Dhulia is a filmmaker.

Did You Know? Justice Dhulia is the brother of national award-winning film director and actor Tigmanshu Dhulia.[1]

He did his earlier schooling from Dehradun, Allahabad and Lucknow. In his growing up years, he participated in debates, played sports and was a part of number of plays in theatre. He graduated from Allahabad University in 1981 and completed his masters Masters in Modern History in 1983. Justice Dhulia completed his L.L.B. in 1986

As an Advocate

Justice Dhulia is a second-generation legal professional who joined the Bar at Allahabad High Court in 1986 and then shifted his base to High Court of Uttarakhand after formation of the new state in 2000.

Initially, he practiced on the Civil and Constitutional side before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and was the legal counsel for IIT, Roorkee, State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Ltd. (SIDCUL), Bhagirathi River Valley Authority, amongst others. He was designated as Senior Advocate in June, 2004 at High Court of Uttarakhand.

♦ Did You Know? After the creation of the new  State  of Uttarakhand, Justice  Dhulia  became  its  First  Chief  Standing Counsel and was later appointed as State Additional  Advocate  General.

He was also an honorary professor in the Uttarakhand Academy of Administration (ATI) Nainital.

As a Judge

Justice Dhulia was elevated as a permanent Judge of Uttarakhand High Court on 01-11-2008. He was also appointed as the judge in-charge of education at the Uttarakhand Judicial and Legal Academy.

Did You Know? Over 13 years as a Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, Justice Dhulia authored 1,119 Judgments and was part of 1,415 Benches.[2]

He was elevated as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court on 07-01-2021 and took the oath on 10-01-2021.

Did You Know? In the one year and four months he spent as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, Justice Dhulia authored 81 judgments and sat on 110 Benches.[3]

Justice Dhulia was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India on 09-05-2022.

Notable Judgements

Tihar Jail Crime Syndicate| Supreme Court directs conman Sukash Chandra to reveal names of persons involved in Rs. 200 crores extortion case

In a highly controversial extortion case of about Rs. 200 crores in Delhi’s Tihar jail, the 3-judge Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., has directed conman Sukash Chandra to reveal names of the persons involved in the alleged crime syndicate. [Sukash Chandra Shekhar v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 894]

Read More…

Supreme Court allows Project 39A of NLU Delhi to conduct psychological evaluation of a death row convict to bring out mitigating factors 

Adopting a humanitarian approach, the 3-judge Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., allowed Project 39- A of the National Law University, Delhi, to have access to the appellant, a death row convict to interview him and conduct a psychological analysis in order to bring out mitigating circumstances.  [Karan v. State of M.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 732]

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Person languishes in jail for 2 years despite being granted bail by Supreme Court; Supreme Court criticizes Trial Judge for misinterpreting bail order

In a significant case, the 4-judges Bench comprising of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, P.S. Narasimha and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., issued directions to all the High Courts of the country to submit reports indicating status of cases where bail has been granted by the Supreme Court i.e. if any of such persons are deprived of the opportunity of being released on bail for some reason or the other.

“… where the custody of a person for 9 years was found to be sufficient to entitle him to be released on bail, is now turned into custody for 11 years. This is nothing but  reincarnation of Hussainara Khatoon [(1980) 1 SCC 81] & Motil Ram[(1978) 4 SCC 47].”

[Gopisetty Harikrishna v. State of A.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 654]

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Right to cross-examination cannot be denied as a punishment for failure to deposit interim compensation under Section 143A NI Act

In a case where an offender under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (NI Act) was denied the right to cross-examine a witness upon failure to deposit the interim compensation under Section 143A of NI Act, the bench of UU Lalit*, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ has held that any such order foreclosing the right would not be within the powers conferred upon the court and would, as a matter of fact, go well beyond the permissible exercise of power. [Noor Mohammad v. Khurram Pasha, Crl.A. No.-001123-001123 / 2022, decided 02.08.2022]

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Husband seeking personal information such as salary of wife under Right to Information Act, 2005; Whether acceptable or not?

Dismissing the petition being devoid of merits, Sudhanshu Dhulia J., held that it cannot be any anybody’s case that a Government authority being Government school does not come under the definition of ‘public authority’. The only exception as to the information given under the Act under Section 8 of the RTI Act, is an exemption from disclosure of information. It further observed that the nature of information sought by respondent 8 is not covered under any of the exemption given under Section 8 of the RTI Act. [Jasmeet Kaur v. State of Uttarakhand, 2016 SCC OnLine Utt 2276]

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Mere installation of CCTV cameras in hospitals is not enough; HC directs to connect Hospital cameras to the nearest Police Station

The Division Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ, and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., directed to connect CCTV cameras of Hospitals to the nearest Police Station to put a check on increasing instances of violence against medical practitioners amid Covid-19. [Asif Iqbal v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1529]

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Not in interest of the child; HC stays Sessions Court’s order granting custody of teenage rape victim to relatives of accused 

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and  Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed a suo motu PIL concerning the plight of a rape victim, where the victim was a child between 12-15 years of age.

Observing the sensitivity of the matter, the Bench issued strict directions to the State to depute a team of medical officers, including a lady doctor to conduct medical examination on the victim, only for the determination of her age. The Bench emphasised strictly that the examination shall be limited to a bone ossification test and no other test be done as the victim had already been medically examined. [State of Arunachal Pradesh, In Re., PIL (Suo Moto) No. 5 of 2021, decided on 30-06-2021]

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Violence against Doctors; HC directs State to take immediate actions if any medical practitioner is manhandled or abused

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed the issue of violence against doctors. The Bench ordered the State to ensure that no medical practitioner is manhandled or abused in any manner. [Suo Motu v. State of Assam, PIL (Suo Moto) No.4 of 2021, Order dated 14-06-2021]

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Court directs ration be provided to struggling sex workers and their families who have been identified; further asks AIDS societies to identify the rest and give relief 

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ. and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., took up a petition filed in the nature of PIL; concern raised was the present condition of sex workers in Assam who, according to the petitioner in most cases, were on the verge of starvation, considering the strange and difficult times of the present COVID-19 pandemic, which is now in its second wave. [Debajit Gupta v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1169]

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“What kind of test is being done for determination of COVID-19 infection?”; HC directs Assam government to set up Mobile Medical Units in Tea Gardens

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed the issues relating to situation under the Covid-19 pandemic in the Tea Gardens of Assam and conditioner of workers in these Tea Gardens.

“We have absolutely no doubt that since the Government already has the resources, these Mobile Medical Units must be put in use for testing and other purposes in the Tea Gardens as well, if not already being done.”

[Anjan Nagg v. Union 0f India, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1105]

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Court rejects Plea of bias against the Enquiry officer; Dismisses petition in the matter of departmental proceedings

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Kumar Verma, JJ., dismissed a writ petition which was filed in the nature of certiorari and mandamus for quashing of certain orders passed by the enquiry officer and with a prayer to change the enquiry officer on grounds of bias. [Kanwar Amninder Singh v. High Court of Uttaranchal, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 722]

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State contractual employees entitled to claim Child Care Leave

A Full-Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan CJ, Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Kumar Verma JJ, held that contractual state employees are also entitled to child care leave, and that its denial would mean the denial of the rights of a child. [Tanuja Tolia v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 337]

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Law provides a remedy at two stages, one before authority concerned and later before appellate authority, both must be fair and in compliance with the norms of natural justice

Sudhanshu Dhulia*, J., contemplated a petition presented before him by the petitioner who was a member of Waqf Board and was subsequently disqualified, aggrieved by which he filed the instant petition.

The Court observed that though the petitioner had a remedy under sub-section (2) of Section 83 of the Waqf Act, 1995 however, in this particular case the existence of an alternative remedy before the Tribunal not operated as a bar inasmuch as the present order had been passed without affording opportunity of hearing to the petitioner. [Haji Rao Sharafat Ali v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 893]

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Voluntarily depriving husband of wife’s company and comfort of matrimonial life amounts to cruelty; Divorce granted 

A Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Narayan Singh Dhanik*, JJ., contemplated the special appeals preferred against the judgment of Family Court, where the divorce petition was filed under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and was subsequently dismissed but the counterclaim of the wife-respondent for the right of residence was decreed in the favor of the respondent. [Raghuveer Kaintura v. Meera Kaintura, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 718]

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Compensation increased considering raise in annual notional income of a non-earning member pursuant to 1994 amendment in MV Act

Sudhanshu Dhulia*, J., allowed the appeal filed by the appellants against the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Rudrapur in MACT Case No. 153 of 2013, whereby compensation of Rs 3,00,000 was awarded to the claimants. [Parwati Devi v. Paramjeet Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 672]

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Reservations in favor of sportsperson is traceable to Article 16(1); atrocities of exhaustiveness of reservation under Art. 16(4) observed by the Court

A Full Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan* CJ and Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Singh, JJ., entertained a writ petition calling into question the exhaustiveness of Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India. [Dhananjay Verma v. State of Uttrakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 373]

Read More…

Biological resources are property of Nation; Divya Pharmacy’s challenge to Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing dismissed

A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia, J. stated that Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS) under the Biodiversity Act, 2002, was welfare legislation that was made to cater the needs of the local and indigenous communities. [Divya Pharmacy v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 1035]

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Judge has to be protected from vexatious charges and malicious litigations; Judge of Court of Record cannot be tried for committing contempt of his own Court

A Division Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Rajiv Sharma, JJ., dismissed a contempt petition against a ‘Judge of a court of record’ purely on the question of law.

“The duty of a Judge, after all, was to dispense justice – without fear or favour, affection or ill will, without passion or prejudice. It is not a part of his duty to please litigants or keep lawyers in good humor. A Judge, ironically, with respect to the office he holds, does not enjoy much liberty and freedom. The principal requirement for all Judges, and particularly for a Judge of Court of Record, is to maintain his independence. A Judge can also be very helpless at times with respect to the position he holds hence for the sake of the independence of judiciary, a Judge has to be protected, from vexatious charges and malicious litigations.”

[Chhitij Kishore Sharma v. Justice Lok Pal Singh, CCP No. 03 of 2018, Order dated 04-09-2018]

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In the matter of appointments to higher echelons, fairness should be the hallmark of selection

A Division Bench comprising of U.C. Dhyani* and  Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. dismissed a challenge against the appointment of State Chief Information Commissioner. The main challenge in the petition was that the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner has become the ‘dumping ground’ for retired bureaucrats, who are rewarded for their loyalty to the State Government. [Chandra Shekhar Kargeti v. State Of Uttarakhand; 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 29]

Read More…

† Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

* Judge who has penned the judgment.

[1] NDTV,

[2] Supreme Court Observer,

[3] Supreme Court Observer,

Know thy Judge

 “A man is both a creator and destroyer. Therefore, he is his own future. A better future can only be secured through the younger generation, existing and awaiting.”

M. M. Sundresh

Bharaneeswaran v. Govt. of T.N., 

2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2301

Born on 21-07-1962 at Erode, Justice M.M.Sundresh, completed his school and pre university education at Erode. He completed B.A. Degree at Loyola College, Chennai and LLB at Madras Law College.

As an Advocate

Justice Sundresh was enrolled as an Advocate in 1985 in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Government of Tamil Nadu had appointed him as the Counsel for the State Government and he worked as Government Advocate from 1991 to 1996. He was also the Counsel for Tamil Nadu Small Scale Industries Development Corporation.

Justice Sundresh had extensive practice in Civil (Appellate), Criminal and Writ Jurisdiction at Madras High Court. He had joined in the Chamber of S. Sivasubramaniam. He also joined in the Chamber of his father V. K. Muthusamy, Senior Advocate. He was selected to the RO System Monitoring Committee to watch the erection of ROS (Reverse Osmosis System) in Thiruppur District, Karur District and Erode District.

As a Judge

Justice Sundresh was elevated to the Madras High Court on 31-03-2009 and became permanent judge on 29-03- 2011. He was elevated as a Judge of Supreme Court of India on 26-08-2021.

  • Did You Know? During his 12-year stint as judge of Madras high court, Justice Sundresh had disposed of 1,03,563 cases.[1]

Notable Judgements at Supreme Court

CCI v. State of Mizoram, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 63

While adjudicating the dispute with regard to jurisdiction of CCI to inquire into allegations of bid rigging, collusive bidding, and cartelisation in the tender process for appointment of selling agents and distributors for lotteries organised in the State of Mizoram the Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and M.M. Sundresh, JJ., concluded that,

“Lotteries may be a regulated commodity and may even be res extra commercium; that would not take away the aspect of something which is anti-competition in the context of the business related to lotteries.”

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State of Uttarakhand v. Sudhir Budakoti, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 420

The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has held that when there is a reasonable basis for a classification adopted by taking note of the exigencies and diverse situations, the Court is not expected to insist on absolute equality by taking a rigid and pedantic view as against a pragmatic one.

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Union of India v. Manpreet Singh Poonam, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 272

The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has observed that a right to promotion and subsequent benefits and seniority would arise only with respect to the rules governing the said promotion, and not a different set of rules which might apply to a promoted post facilitating further promotion which is governed by a different set of rules.

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State of Rajasthan v. Mahesh, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No.12376/2019

In the case where it was argued before the Court that the Industrial Disputes (Rajasthan Amendment) Act, 1958 which received the President’s assent on August 12, 1958 stands eclipsed after the enactment of the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh, JJ has dismissed the SLP after observing that the issue must first be raised before the Industrial Tribunal or the High Court.

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Union of India v. Manpreet Singh Poonam, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 272

The bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has held that a voluntary retiree cannot seek retrospective promotion as a matter of right sans rules governing.

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Jogi Ram v. Suresh Kumar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 127

In a half a century old case relating to a Will, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that the objective of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is to create an absolute interest in case of a limited interest of the wife. The objective cannot be that a Hindu male who owned self-acquired property is unable to execute a Will giving a limited estate to a wife if all other aspects including maintenance are taken care of.

“If we were to hold so it would imply that if the wife is disinherited under the Will it would be sustainable but if a limited estate is given it would mature into an absolute interest irrespective of the intent of the testator.”

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Jasdeep Singh v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 20

Drawing an interesting analogy to explain the scope of Section 34 of IPC, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has said that it is a team effort akin to a game of football involving several positions manned by many, such as defender, mid-fielder, striker, and a keeper.

“A striker may hit the target, while a keeper may stop an attack. The consequence of the match, either a win or a loss, is borne by all the players, though they may have their distinct roles. A goal scored or saved may be the final act, but the result is what matters. As against the specific individuals who had impacted more, the result is shared between the players. The same logic is the foundation of Section 34 IPC which creates shared liability on those who shared the common intention to commit the crime.”

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Dhananjay Rai v. State of Bihar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 880

In furtherance of Criminal Justice, the bench of Abhay S. Oka* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that an appeal against conviction filed by an accused under Sub-Section (2) of Section 374 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 cannot be dismissed on the ground that the accused is absconding.

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Abu Salem Abdul Kayyum Ansari v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 852

In a big development, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has directed that the infamous gangster/terrorist Abu Salem be released after the completion of 25 years of his sentence in terms of the national commitment as well as the principle based on comity of courts. Salem was convicted on 12.10.2005.

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Taijuddin v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1154

In a case where an accused merely pointed to the house where the victim was hiding, thereby helping a fully armed “murderous mob” locate the victim, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that the mere fact that the accused was not brave enough to conceal where the victim was hiding did not make him a part of the unlawful assembly under Section 149 of the IPC.

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Bhupesh Rathod v. Dayashankar Prasad Chaurasiya, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1031

In a case relating to dishonour of cheques where it was alleged that the complaint was filed by the managing director in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the Company, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that there could be a format where the Company’s name is described first, suing through the Managing Director but there cannot be a fundamental defect merely because the name of the Managing Director is stated first followed by the post held in the Company. It was further held that it would be too technical a view to take to defeat the complaint merely because the body of the complaint does not elaborate upon the authorisation.

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U.N. Bora v. Assam Roller Flour Mills Assn., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 968

In the case dealing with willful disobedience of the order passed by the Supreme Court in the year 2008 with respect to the levy made while upholding Section 21 of the Assam Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1972, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has held that vicarious liability as a principle cannot be applied to a case of contempt and that the appellants cannot be implicated for alleged action of their subordinates.

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V. Prabhakara v. Basavaraj K., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 896

Holding that a testamentary court is not a court of suspicion but that of conscience, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh*, JJ has set aside the High Court’s order in a suit for execution of Will wherein the Court had “unnecessarily created a suspicion when there is none”, merely because it thought that was no logic in the exclusion of the sister of the beneficiary of the Will. Neither the beneficiary nor his siblings had raised any issues regarding the validity of the Will.

Asking the appellate Courts to consider the relevant materials instead of adopting an ethical reasoning, the Court explained,

“A mere exclusion of either brother or sister per se would not create a suspicion unless it is surrounded by other circumstances creating an inference. In a case where a testatrix is accompanied by the sister of the beneficiary of the Will and the said document is attested by the brother, there is no room for any suspicion when both of them have not raised any issue.”

Read More….

Suraz India Trust v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 833

Coming down heavily upon a contemnor, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and MM Sundresh, JJ has held that the power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power vested in this Court which cannot be abridged or taken away even by legislative enactment.

“Such litigants cannot be permitted to have their way only because they can plead and write anything they feel like and keep on approbating by sometimes apologising and then again bringing forth those allegations.”

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B. Sailesh Saxena v. Union of India, WP (Civil) No. 555 of 2020

A Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh, JJ. dismissed a writ petition filed by an advocate seeking to stall elevation of a judicial officer as a Judge of the Telangana High Court. The Supreme Court said that the petition was a gross abuse of the process of law and imposed costs of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner.

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Notable Judgements at High Court

M. Padmanabhan v. District Collector, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 698

The Division Bench of M.M. Sundresh and S. Ananthi, JJ., held that temple shall not be a place for perpetuating communal separation leading to discrimination, on the other hand, it should facilitate all those persons having common faith to come and worship.

 “The classification among men has got no place in the aboard of God.”

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Bharaneeswaran v. Government of Tamil Nadu, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2301

The Division Bench of M.M. Sundresh* and R. Hemalatha, JJ., disposed of the petitions with regard to concerns arising due to online classes, stating that it hopes the above-laid guidelines are complied with and makes it clear that all the directions are applicable to the Schools functioning in the Tamil Nadu.

“A great nation is built on a character of its own citizens. It transforms into the character of the nation leading to its progress achieved through a value system.”

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 Bader Sayeed v. Union Of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 74

While examining the validity of certificates issued by the Kazis in the country in general and in Tamil Nadu in particular in respect of Talaq, the Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, C.J., and M.M. Sundresh, J., held that for purposes of the courts and legal proceedings, the certificate in respect of Talaq issued by Chief Kazi is only an opinion and has no legal sanctity in view Section 4 of the Kazis Act, 1880 according to which the office of Kazi does not confer on the person any judicial or administrative power.

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 N. Selvathirumalv. Union of India,2016 SCC OnLine Mad 1624

Taking a landmark step, the Division Bench of the Court comprising of S.K. Kaul*, C.J. and M.M. Sundresh, J., directed the schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the private schools in the state of Tamil Nadu to make the singing of the National Anthem as an integral part of their curriculum.

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 V. Vasanthakumarv. H.C. Bhatia, 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 300

While dismissing a petition with regard to the setting up of National Court of Appeal as suggested by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Bihar Legal Support Society v. Chief Justice of India(1986) 4 SCC 767 , the Division Bench of S.K. Kaul, C.J. and M.M. Sundresh, J., stated that setting up of a National Court of Appeal is a matter of legislation and constitutional amendment, therefore, repeated agitations by the petitioner for reconsideration on the same by filing petitions is needless and thus not maintainable.

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 C. Udayachandrika v. Secy., T.N. Legislative Assembly, 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 194

In the instant case where the petitioner appearing in person praying to the Court to declare the notification issued by the Tamil Nadu Gazette, Extraordinary No.223 dated 8.11.2014 stating that former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Selvi J. The Court observed that  such frivolous petitions are to be penalized by imposing exemplary costs but, since the petitioner committed this misadventure for the first time therefore she was let off only with a caution so as to dissuade her to pursue any such frivolous petitions under the garb of a Public Interest Litigation.

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Solaimalai v. Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation Corp. Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 3883

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature, unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.”

– Hubert Reeves

A Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh* and N. Sathish Kumar had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into a series of elephant poaching incidents reported in the State. They also observed the network involved was cutting across boundaries.

“Wisdom requires that it should be left in the hands of man of knowledge in that field with the coordination of all the stake holders and this Court as well. Therefore, we are inclined to appoint a Committee consisting of Experts in various fields to address the larger issues such as banning the plastic in the forest zone, prohibiting the polluted vehicles to ply, employing the local population, increasing the strength of the staff, creating a strong seed bank, evolving measures to be adopted in removal and rehabilitation, priority of the area which requires immediate attention, areas requiring specific action, mapping of the entire area, possibility of using any other fund towards achievement of the task, utilising the removed plants and trees towards the object, creating a specific cell to be decided by the Government, disposal of the removed species and strengthening the indigenous species.”

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

* Judge who has penned the judgment.


Know thy Judge

“A litigant has one lifetime yet litigation has several lives to live. If society stands denied of justice, we are not only failing our duty and constitution but are enslaving a generation of litigants. For speedy disposal effective docket management is required and is the need of the hour.”

-Justice Krishna Murari[1]

Born on 09-07- 1958, obtained LL.B degree from Allahabad University, Allahabad. He was enrolled as an Advocate on 23-12-1981. He practiced in the Allahabad High Court for over 22 years in Civil, Constitutional, Company, Service and Revenue matters and has specialized in Civil Revenue and Service cases. He was Standing Counsel of U.P. State, Yarn Company Limited, Kanpur, Northern Railway Primary Co-operative Bank Limited, U.P. State Textile Corporation Limited, Kanpur, U.P. Co-operative Spinning Mills Federation Limited, Kanpur and Bundelkhand University, Jhansi.

He was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Allahabad High Court on 07-01- 2004 and appointed as permanent Judge of the Allahabad High Court on 18-08-2005.

He took over as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh on 02-06-2018. Read more

Elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India on 23-09-2019. Read more

Notable Supreme Court Judgments 

S.P. Velumani v. Arappor Iyakkam, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 663

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 NV Ramana, CJ* and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ has 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.

Read more

Deepak Yadav v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 672

In a murder case where the Allahabad High Court had granted bail to the main accused only on the basis of parity, the 3-judge bench of  NV Ramana, Krishna Murari* and Hima Kohli, JJ has cancelled the bail after observing that the High Court should have taken into consideration factors like the criminal history of the accused, nature of crime, material evidences available, involvement of accused in the said crime, recovery of weapon from his possession, etc.

Read more

K.C. Laxmana v. K.C. Chandrappa Gowda, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 471

In a case where a portion of a joint Hindu Family was alienated ‘out of love and affection’ by way of a gift deed, the bench of SA Nazeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ has explained the scope of powers of members of Joint Hindu Family and has held that a Hindu father or any other managing member of a HUF has power to make a gift of ancestral property only for a ‘pious purpose’.

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Vijay Kumar Ghai v. State of W.B., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 344

The Division Bench S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari*, JJ., reversed the impugned order of the Calcutta High Court for being affected with the vice of forum shopping. The Bench expressed,

“The timeline of filing complaints clearly indicates the malafide intention of Respondent 2 which was to simply harass the petitioners so as to pressurise them into shelling out the investment made by Respondent 2.”

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Babu Venkatesh v. State of Karnataka, (2022) 5 SCC 639

In a case where the Magistrate had passed an order under Section 156(3) CrPC even in absence of an affidavit duly sworn by the complainant, the bench of BR Gavai* and Krishna Murari, JJ that many a times the applications under Section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C. are filed in a routine manner without taking any responsibility only to harass certain persons and hence, such applications are to be supported by affidavits.

The Court held that, prior to the filing of a petition under Section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C., there have to be applications under Section 154 (1) and 154 (3) of the Cr.P.C. Filing of an affidavit is necessary so that the persons making the application would be conscious and not make false affidavit. With such a requirement, the persons would be deterred from causally invoking authority of the Magistrate, under Section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C. If the affidavit is found to be false, the person would be liable for prosecution in accordance with law.

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Kahkashan Kausar v. State of Bihar, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 162

In a dowry demand and harassment case, where a woman had lodged criminal complaint against her husband and in-laws but  no specific role was attributed to the in-laws, the bench of SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari*, JJ has held that it would be unjust if the in-laws are forced to go through the tribulations of a trial and that general and omnibus allegations cannot manifest in a situation where the relatives of the complainant’s husband are forced to undergo trial. The Court observed that a criminal trial leading to an eventual acquittal also inflicts severe scars upon the accused, and such an exercise must therefore be discouraged.

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Arunachala Gounder v. Ponnusamy, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 72

The bench of SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari*, JJ has held that if a female Hindu dies intestate without leaving any issue, then the property inherited by her from her father or mother would go to the heirs of her father whereas the property inherited from her husband or father-in-law would go to the heirs of the husband. However, if she dies leaving behind her husband or any issue, then Section 15(1)(a) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 comes into operation and the properties left behind including the properties which she inherited from her parents would devolve simultaneously upon her husband and her issues as provided in Section 15(1)(a) of the Act.

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K. Jayaram v. BDA, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1194

In a case where the party, in a subsequent petition seeking same relief, had not disclosed the filing of the suit, its dismissal by the Civil Court and the confirmation of the said judgment by the High Court in the writ petition, the bench of SA Nazeeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that the appellants did not come to the court with clean hands and stressed that the parties have to disclose the details of all legal proceedings and litigations either past or present concerning any part of the subject-matter of dispute which is within their knowledge.

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Rasmita Biswal v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2022) 2 SCC 767

With an aim to curtail the pendency before the High Courts and for speedy disposal of the appeals concerning payment of compensation to the victims of road accident, the bench of SA Nazeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ has asked the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice to consider constituting ‘Motor Vehicle Appellate Tribunals’ by amending Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act so that the appeals challenging the award of a Tribunal could be filed before the Appellate Tribunal so constituted.

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Hasmat Ali v. Amina Bibi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1142

In a case where the Orissa High Court had not assigned any reasons for the dismissal of an appeal, the bench of SA Nazeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ has set aside the said order and has held that the High Court cannot dismiss the second appeal in limine without assigning any reasons for its conclusion.

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N. Jayasree v. Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 967

The Division Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ., held that neither the percentage of deduction for personal expenses be governed by a rigid rule or formula of universal application nor does it depends upon the basis of relationship of the claimant with the deceased.

Passing a landmark decision, the Bench granted compensation to mother-in-law of the deceased considering her to be of the dependents of the deceased. The Bench remarked,

“It is not uncommon in Indian Society for the mother-in-law to live with her daughter and son-in-law during her old age and be dependent upon her son-in-law for her maintenance.”

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Geo Varghese v. State of Rajasthan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 873

In a case where a 14-year-old had committed suicide after his PTI Teacher had allegedly “harassed and insulted him in the presence of everyone”, the bench of SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari*, JJ has held that the suicide note suggested that it was a rhetoric document, penned down by an immature mind and that it was the hypersensitive temperament of the deceased which led him to take such an extraordinary step. The Court said that the action of the teacher, otherwise would not ordinarily induce a similarly circumstanced student to commit suicide.

The Court explained that,

“A simple act of reprimand of a student for his behaviour or indiscipline by a teacher, who is under moral obligations to inculcate the good qualities of a human being in a student would definitely not amount to instigation or intentionally aid to the commission of a suicide by a student.”

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Garg Builders v. BHEL, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 855

The bench of SA Nazeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that if the contract contains a specific clause which expressly bars payment of interest, then it is not open for the arbitrator to grant pendente lite interest.

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Gumansinh v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 660

A Division Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari, JJ. refused to interfere in the judgment passed by the Gujarat High Court whereby the appellants (husband and mother-in-law of the deceased) were found guilty of committing cruelty to the deceased and abetting suicide committed by the deceased. Noting that although the prosecution failed to adduce any direct evidence to establish that accused abetted deceased into committing suicide, the Supreme Court observed:

“Admittedly, in the case at hands, the evidence clearly establishes the offence of cruelty or harassment caused to the deceased and thus the foundation for the presumption [under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act] exists. Admittedly the appellants have led no evidence to rebut the presumption.”

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Abdul Ahad v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 627

The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai* and Krishna Murari, JJ had refused to grant any relief to the students who were admitted to the 1st  year Professional MBBS course for the Academic Session 2016-2017 in Glocal Medical College, in contravention of the Notification that provided that the admissions were to be done only through the centralized admission process and not by way of private counselling.

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Neelima Srivastava v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 610

A Division Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari, JJ. held that there is a distinction between overruling a principle and reversal of the judgment. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the settled position of law by explaining that:

“Mere overruling of the principles, on which the earlier judgment was passed, by a subsequent judgment of higher forum will not have the effect of uprooting the final adjudication between the parties and set it at naught. “

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Hemraj Ratnakar Salian v. HDFC Bank Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 611

The Division Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari, JJ., addressed a pertinent issue of whether the rent act would come to the aid of a “tenant in sufferance”.

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Yatin Narendra Oza v. High Court of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 724

The 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ., observed that the Court would wait for the order of the Gujarat High Court before passing any orders in the issue relating to withdrawal of senior Designation of advocate Narendra Oza. Oza, who is also the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association, was stripped off his Senior Advocate designation. This has been done after Advocate Oza had levelled charges of corruption against the registry of the Gujarat High Court.

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Chunthuram v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2020) 10 SCC 733

A 3-judge bench comprising of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Krishna Murari and Hrishikesh Roy,* JJ., while deciding a criminal appeal challenging the judgement of Chhattisgarh High Court upheld the conviction of the appellant under Sections 302 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and acquittal of the co-accused.

The Court held that the recovery of the alleged weapons of assault on the statement of the accused can be a key evidence to support the prosecution but the recovered articles were not linked to the crime. Moreover, when relevant forensic evidence was withheld by the prosecution, an adverse inference will have to be drawn against the prosecution.

Dumka Medical College v. Board of Governors in Supersession of Medical Council of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 122

The Division Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao and Krishna Murari, JJ., dismissed the instant petition for grant of permission for Medical Colleges after observing infrastructural and faculty deficiencies. The Bench remarked,

“It is clear that gross deficiencies still exist in spite of the affidavits and undertakings filed on behalf of the State of Jharkhand. No action has been taken to improve the situation.”

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Harshit Agarwal v. Union of India, (2021) 2 SCC 710

The Division Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao* and Krishna Murari, JJ., addressed the plight of NEET students. The Bench stated,

“Decision of government not to reduce minimum marks for admission was propelled by extraneous considerations like sufficient number of Dentists being available in the country and the reasons for which students were not inclined to get admitted to BDS course which remits in the decision being unreasonable. Consideration of factors other than availability of eligible students would be the result of being influenced by irrelevant or extraneous matters.”

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Samir Agrawal v. CCI (Cab Aggregators Case), (2021) 3 SCC 136

In a plea seeking inquiry into the alleged anti-competitive practices of Ola and Uber of entering into price-fixing agreement, the 3-judge bench of RF Nariman*, KM Joseph, Krishna Murari, JJ has refused to interfere with the concurrent finding of CCI and NCLAT that Ola and Uber do not facilitate cartelization or anti-competitive practices between drivers, who are independent individuals, who act independently of each other, so as to attract the application of section 3 of the Competition Act, 2002.

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Project Implementation Unit v. P.V. Krishnamoorthy, (2021) 3 SCC 572

Dealing with the question whether the Parliament was competent to enact the National Highways Act, 1956 and the National Highway Authority of India Act, 1988 for construction of new roads traversing through the open green-fields, the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar*, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that

“… there is nothing in the Constitution which constricts the power of the Parliament to make a law for declaring any stretch/section within the State not being a road or an existing highway, to be a national highway. Whereas, the provisions in the Constitution unambiguously indicate that the legislative as well as executive power regarding all matters concerning and connected with a highway to be designated as a national highway, vests in the Parliament and the laws to be made by it in that regard.”

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Renuka Dey v. Naresh Chandra Gope, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 895

The 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that under the West Bengal Restoration of Alienated Land Act, 1973, homestead land, when included within the meaning of the term ‘land’ means homestead of the agriculturist and not any or every structure of non­-agricultural land.

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SBI v. Metenere Ltd., (2021) 1 SCC 191

The 3-Judge Bench of Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ., set aside the NCLAT’s Order with regard to the appointment of Resolution Professional where the question for consideration was whether an ex-employee of the ‘Financial Creditor’ having rendered services in the past, should not be permitted to act as ‘Interim Resolution Professional’ at the instance of such ‘Financial Creditor’, regard being had to the nature of duties to be performed by the ‘Interim Resolution Professional’ and the ‘Resolution Professional’.

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Raghunath v. Radha Mohan, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 828

On the question as to whether the right of pre-emption can be enforced for an indefinite number of transactions or it is exercisable only the first time, the 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that

“… it is only exercisable for the first time when the cause of such a right arises, in a situation where the plaintiff-pre-emptor chooses to waive such right after the 1966 Act becoming operational. Section 9 of the said Act operates as a bar on his exercising such right on a subsequent transaction relating to the same immovable property.”

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Sahir Sohail v. Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University, (2020) 9 SCC 696

The 3-judge bench of SA Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ ‘reluctantly’ dismissed an SLP arising out of a Allahabad High Court order which held that the students with certificates from ‘bogus and fictitious’ organisations cannot be allowed to continue pursuing their courses at Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University (APJAKTU).

The Court said,

“We do have sympathy but this is not a case where we can really translate our sympathy to a relief in the present case, more so, in view of the fact that since this exam system is found to be fraudulent, the petitioners before us will never have a recognized plus two status and to give such students the opportunity to get a degree from the University will create a great anomaly.”

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Jigya Yadav v. CBSE, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 415

The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that the right to control one’s identity is a fundamental right and the Central Board of Secondary Education cannot deny such right by refusing to allow a person to change their name in the Certificates without giving them reasonable opportunity.

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Kalparaj Dharamshi v. Kotak Investment Advisors Ltd,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 204

The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari has explained the true test to determine whether a party has waived its rights or not. It has held that for establishing waiver, it will have to be established, that a party expressly or by its conduct acted in a manner, which is inconsistent with the continuance of its rights. There can be no waiver unless the person who is said to have waived, is fully informed as to his rights and with full knowledge about the same, he intentionally abandons them.

“As such, for applying the principle of waiver, it will have to be established, that though a party was aware about the relevant facts and the right to take an objection, he has neglected to take such an objection.”

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Amit Sahni v. Commissioner of Police, (2020) 10 SCC 439

The 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ has, in the Shaheen Bagh protests matter, held that while there exists the right to peaceful protest against a legislation, public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely.

“Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters. We cannot accept the plea of the applicants that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest.”

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Kalparaj Dharamshi v. Kotak Investment Advisors Ltd, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 204

The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari has held that the commercial wisdom of Committee of Creditors (CoC) is not to be interfered with, excepting the limited scope as provided under Sections 30 and 31 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).

Taking note of various decision of the Supreme Court, the Court held that the legislative scheme is unambiguous. The legislature has consciously not provided any ground to challenge the “commercial wisdom” of the individual financial creditors or their collective decision before the Adjudicating Authority and that the decision of CoC’s ‘commercial wisdom’ is made non-justiciable.

“… the appeal is a creature of statute and that the statute has not invested jurisdiction and authority either with NCLT or NCLAT, to review the commercial decision exercised by CoC of approving the resolution plan or rejecting the same.”

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Amar Nath Chaubey v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1019

The 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari, JJ had IPS Officer Satyarth Anirudh Pankaj as the senior officer, State of Uttar Pradesh to carry out further investigation in the Ram Bihari Chaubey murder case after it found the investigation and closure report submitted by the UP Police to be “extremely casual and perfunctory in nature”.

Directing that IPS Officer Pankaj will be free to select a team of competent officers of his choice, the Court directed that

“the investigation must be concluded within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, unless extension is required, and the final report be placed before this Court. The Director General of Police (DGP), Uttar Pradesh shall do the needful.”

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Vidya Drolia v. Durga Trading Corporation, (2021) 2 SCC 1

e bench of NV RamanaSanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari, JJ has overruled the ratio in Himangni Enterprises v. Kamaljeet Singh Ahluwalia, (2017) 10 SCC 706 wherein it was held that landlord-tenant disputes governed by the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, are not arbitrable as this would be contrary to public policy.

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Amar Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2020 SCC OnLine SC 826

Giving benefit of doubt to the accused convicted under Section 302 IPC r/w Section 34 IPC, the 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Anirudhha Bose and Krishna Muraji, JJ reiterated that Court can and may act on the testimony of single eye-witness provided he is wholly reliable.

“… the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond doubt the appellants therefore must be given benefit of doubt.”

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V.N. Krishna Murthy v. Ravikumar, (2020) 9 SCC 501

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the appellants held the focus to question the judgment and decree passed by the trial court and whether the High Court was justified in rejecting their leave to appeal. Dismissing the appeal the Full Bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Krishna Murari and S. RavindraBhat, JJ., held,

“Section 96 and 100 CPC do not enumerate the categories of persons who can file an appeal. However, it is a settled legal proposition that a stranger cannot be permitted to file an appeal in any proceedings unless he satisfies the Court that he falls in the category of aggrieved persons. It is only where a judgment and decree prejudicially affects a person who is not party to the proceedings, he can prefer an appeal with the leave of the appellate court.”

Sorathia Bindi v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 419

In a case where the Gujarat High Court had stayed the arrest a person accused for offences under sections 376(2)(F), 376(2)(N), 377, 354(A), 354(D), 503, 506(1) and 509 of IPC and sections 66(E) and 67(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the bench of BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has remitted the matter to the High Court and has asked to record the reasons in support of its order.

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In Re Prashant Bhushan, (2021) 1 SCC 745

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ had, in a 108-pages long verdict, held advocate Prashant guilty of criminal contempt in the suo motu contempt petition initiated against him after he criticised the Supreme Court and the sitting and former CJIs in a couple of tweets. It held,

“The tweets which are based on the distorted facts, in our considered view, amount to committing of ‘criminal contempt’.

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In re: Prashant Bhushan, (2021) 3 SCC 160

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has sentenced advocate Prashant Bhushan with a fine or Re.1/­ (Rupee one) to be deposited with the Registry by 15.09.2020, failing which he shall undergo a simple imprisonment for a period of three months and further be debarred from practising in this Court for a period of three years. It had found advocate Prashant guilty of criminal contempt on 14.08.2020 in the suo motu contempt petition initiated against him after he criticised the Supreme Court and the sitting and former CJIs in a couple of tweets.

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Contagion of Covid-19 Virus in Children Protection Homes, In re, (2020) 15 SCC 289

Taking suo motu cognizance of the issue where 35 out of 57 children in a Protection Home at Royapuram, Chennai have been infected with COVID-19 and were hospitalized, the 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Krishna Murari and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ had asked the Health and Family Welfare Department, State of Tamil Nadu and secretary to Social Welfare Department to submit a report giving details of the reasons for the spread of COVID-19 in the said Protection Home.

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Jagmail Singh v. Karamjit Singh, (2020) 5 SCC 178

Under the Evidence Act, 1872 facts had to be established by primary evidence and secondary evidence is only an exception to the rule for which foundational facts had to be established to account for the existence of primary evidence. Section 65 made it clear that secondary evidence may be given with regard to existence, condition or the contents of a document when the original is shown or appears to be in possession or power against whom the document is sought to be produced, or of any person out of reach of, or not subject to, the process of the court, or of any person legally bound to produce it, and when, after notice mentioned in Section 66 such person does not produce it.

It was held that the appellants would be entitled to lead secondary evidence in respect of the will in question. However, such admission of secondary evidence automatically does not attest to its authenticity, truthfulness or genuineness which will have to be established during the course of trial in accordance with the law.

Nirmala Kothari v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2020) 4 SCC 49

The question before the Court was that “What is the extent of care/diligence expected of the employer/insured while employing a driver?”

The Division Bench of Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari, JJ., answered that while hiring a driver the employer is expected to verify if the driver has a driving licence. If the driver produces a licence which on the face of it looks genuine, the employer is not expected to further investigate into the authenticity of the licence unless there is cause to believe otherwise. If the employer finds the driver to be competent to drive the vehicle and has satisfied himself that the driver has a driving licence there would be no breach of Section 149(2)(a)(ii) and the insurance company would be liable under the policy. It would be unreasonable to place such a high onus on the insured to make enquiries with RTOs all over the country to ascertain the veracity of the driving licence. However, if the insurance company is able to prove that the owner/insured was aware or had notice that the licence was fake or invalid and still permitted the person to drive, the insurance company would no longer continue to be liable.

The respondent insurance company was held liable to indemnify the appellant.

Arun Singh v. State of U.P., (2020) 3 SCC 736

The Division Bench of Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari, JJ., observed that offences relating to the demand of dowry are offences against society and not private in nature. Such offences have serious impact upon society and continuance of trial of such cases is founded on the overriding effect of public interests in punishing persons for such serious offences. It is neither an offence arising out of commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or such similar transactions or has any element of civil dispute thus it stands on a distinct footing. In such cases, settlement even if arrived at between the complainant and the accused, the same cannot constitute a valid ground to quash the FIR or the charge-sheet.

Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade v. Union of India, (2020) 2 SCC 50 (1)

The Nation is looking forward to a historic judgment which is pending. It was placed before 3-judge bench of SA Bobde (retired), SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari, JJ. involving the Muslim Women right to pray in Durgah/Mosque. The Supreme Court will decide whether practices prohibiting the entry of women into mosques violates the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution and whether such a right can be enforced against non-state actors in view of the judgement of the Constitution Bench in the Sabarimala Temple Entry case.

†Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 


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.

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 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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

Read More…

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.”

Read More…

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.

Read More…

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.

Read More…

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 –



Know thy Judge

“Law is long but life is short”

Justice C.T. Ravikumar

P.A. Sidhartha Menon v. Deputy Superintendence of Police,

2013 SCC OnLine Ker 24286

Justice C.T. Ravikumar was born on January 06, 1960 in Peermadu, Kerala. He Graduated in Zoology from Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara and obtained his LL.B degree from Government Law College, Calicut. He was enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Kerala on July 12, 1986, and commenced his practice at Mavelikara Courts, and later shifted to Kerala High Court.

♦Did You Know? Justice Ravikumar shifted his practice from Mavelikkara to Ernakulam on the advice of former Supreme Court Chief Justice, Justice K G Balakrishnan.[1]

Justice Ravikumar served as Government Pleader and was then appointed as Senior Government Pleader and later appointed as Special Government Pleader in the High Court of Kerala.

He was appointed as Additional Judge of the High Court of Kerala on January 5, 2009 and as a permanent judge on December 15, 2010. He took oath as a judge, Supreme Court of India on August 31, 2021 after serving as High Court judge for over 12 years.[2]


Notable Judgments

♦Did You Know? Justice C T Ravikumar had refused to hear 50 petitions relating to renewal of licenses of 418 bars in different parts of the state after an advocate visited him at his residence to talk about the case.[3]

Union of India v. Alapan Bandyopadhyay, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 16

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

Municipal Corpn. of Greater Mumbai v. Ankita Sinha, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 897

The Bench of A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy* and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., considered the question, Whether the National Green Tribunal has the power to exercise Suo Motu jurisdiction in the discharge of its functions under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010?

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

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

Read More…

V.M. Mathew v. National Highway Authority of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 387

The Division Bench of C. T. Ravikumar and K. Haripal*, JJ., partly allowed the instant petition filed under Section 37 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and held that even in the absence of specific plea or proof, the appellant would be entitled to get solatium and interest on solatium as provided in Section 23(1A) and (2) and interest in terms of proviso to Section 28 of the Land Acquisition Act.

Read More…

Eliyamma v. Deputy Collector, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 80

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

Read More…

Travancore Devaswom Board Employees Front v. State of Kerala, WP(C) No. 23869 of  2020(G)

A Division Bench of C.T. Ravikumar and K. Haripal, JJ., allowed various petitions in connection with Sabrimala pilgrimage and held that in view of the surge of Covid-19 positive cases, number of pilgrims was rightly decided to be limited and that it could be safely fixed as 5000.

Read More…

State of Kerala v. Krishnan, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 3542

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

Suo motu Writ Petition – COVID-19 – taken up by the High Court, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 1229

A Full Court comprising of S. Manikumar*, C.J., and C.K. Abdul Rehim and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ. issued certain directions taking suo motu cognizance of the public announcement of imposing a total lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak resulting in immobilization of public at large.

Read More…

Kerala Public Service Commission v. Radha S., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 13812

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

L. Mini v. Gireeshkumar, 2016 SCC OnLine Ker 16781

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

Read More…

P.A. Sidhartha Menon v. Deputy Superintendence of Police, 2013 SCC OnLine Ker 24286

Highlighting the importance of speedy trial while allowing the splitting of trial against an accused, Justice Ravikumar held that there is no need to wait for the absconding accused to appear or be caught to conduct the trial.

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

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

* Judge who has penned the judgment.




Know thy Judge

“Our ability to recognise others who are different is a sign of our own evolution. We miss the symbols of a compassionate and humane society only at our peril”.   

Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1

Early Life

Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud was born on 11-11-1959 to former Chief Justice of India, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud. He practiced law at the Bomaby High Court and Supreme Court of India. He was designated as Senior Advocate by the Bombay High Court in June 1998 and in the same year was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General of India. He appeared in several important cases involving Rights of Bonded Women Workers, Rights of HIV Positive Workers, Contract Labour and Rights of Religious and Linguistic Minorities.[1]

Journey to becoming Supreme Court Judge

On 29th March 2000, Justice Chandrachud was appointed as Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court. On 31st October 2013, he took oath as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court until he was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 13th May 2016.[2]

Did you Know? Justice Chandrachud is likely to serve as the Chief Justice of India for a period of 2 years starting from November, 2022 to November, 2024. His father, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, was the longest serving Chief Justice of India. [Read more about Justice Y.V. Chandrachud here]

Recent and Notable Judgments that Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud has been a part of

Nitisha v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 261

In major win for women Officer in Indian Army, the Division Bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, JJ., held that the administrative requirement imposed by the Indian Army authorities while considering the case of the Women Short Service Commissions Officers (WSSCO) for the grant of Permanent Commission (PC), of benchmarking these officers with the officers lowest in merit in the corresponding male batch is arbitrary and irrational. The Court hence, directed that such requirement shall not be enforced while implementing the decision in Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya, (2020) 7 SCC 469

“It is not enough to proudly state that women officers are allowed to serve the nation in the Armed Forces, when the true picture of their service conditions tells a different story. A superficial sense of equality is not in the true spirit of the Constitution and attempts to make equality only symbolic.”

Read More

Mahendra K.C. v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1021

In a case where the Single Judge of Karnataka High Court had termed person committing suicide a ‘weakling’ and also made observations on how the behavior of the deceased before he committed suicide was not that of a person who is depressed and suffering from mental health issues, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that such observations describing the manner in which a depressed person ought to have behaved deeply diminishes the gravity of mental health issues and that “The mental health of a person cannot be compressed into a one size fits all approach.”

“Individual personality differences manifest as a variation in the behavior of people. Therefore, how an individual copes up with a threat- both physical and emotional, expressing (or refraining to express) love, loss, sorrow and happiness, varies greatly in view of the multi-faceted nature of the human mind and emotions.”

Read More

Hariram Bhambhi v. Satyanarayan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1010

In a case where Rajasthan High Court had granted bail by merely “keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case”, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that such orders cannot pass muster. Noticing that there was absolutely no reasoning in the order of the High Court granting bail, after recording the submissions of the first respondent’s counsel apart from noting that the public prosecutor had opposed the bail, the Court said,

“The duty to record reasons cannot be obviated by recording submissions, followed by an omnibus “in the facts and circumstances” formula. Brief reasons which indicate the basis for granting bail are essential, for it is the reasons adduced by the court which indicate the basis of the order.”

Read More

Sarabjeet Singh Mokha v. District Magistrate, Jabalpur, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1019

In a case where the Government caused unreasonable delay in considering the representation and thereafter failed to communicate the rejection to a person detained under Section 3(2) of National Security Act 1980 (NSA), the 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Seth and BV Nagarathna, JJ., held that the procedural rights of the detenu emanating from Article 22 of the Constitution and Section 8 of the NSA were not sufficiently protected in the present case. Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that, “Preventive detention in independent India is to be exercised with utmost regard to constitutional safeguards”.

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

Read More

Jalkal Vibhag Nagar Nigam v. Pradeshiya Industrial and Investment Corporation, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 960

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

Read More

V. Nagarajan v. SKS Ispat and Power Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 959

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

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

Read More

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

The 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that a Preliminary Enquiry is not mandatory in all cases which involve allegations of corruption. The Court said that in case the information received by the CBI, through a complaint or a “source information”, discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, it can directly register a Regular Case instead of conducting a Preliminary Enquiry, where the officer is satisfied that the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence. Holding that the institution of a Preliminary Enquiry in cases of corruption is not made mandatory before the registration of an FIR under the CrPC, Prevention of Corruption Act or even the CBI Manual, the Court said that issuing a direction to that affect will be “tantamount to stepping into the legislative domain.”

Read More

Union of India v. VKC Footsteps India (P) Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 706

The division bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has upheld the validity of Section 54(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) which provides for refund of unutilised input tax credit (ITC) in certain cases.

“A claim to refund is governed by statute. There is no constitutional entitlement to seek a refund.”

Read More

Saregama India Limited v. Next Radio Limited, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 817

The Division Bench comprising of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and B. V. Nagarathna, JJ., set aside the impugned interim order of Madras High Court holding it to be an attempt to re-write Rule 29(4) of the Copyright Rules 2013. The Bench remarked that, “The interim order converts the second proviso into a “routine procedure” instead of an exception (as the High Court has described its direction). This exercise by the High Court amounts to re-writing. Such an exercise of judicial redrafting of legislation or delegated legislation cannot be carried out.”

Read More

Jamia Masjid v. K.V. Rudrappa, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 792

In an important ruling on Res Judicata, the 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli, JJ., has held that the issues that arise in a subsequent suit may either be questions of fact or of law or mixed questions of law and fact.

“Issues that arise in a subsequent suit may either be questions of fact or of law or mixed questions of law and fact. An alteration in the circumstances after the decision in the first suit, will require a trial for the determination of the plea of res judicata if there arises a new fact which has to be proved”.

Read More

Chief Election Commissioner of India v. M.R. Vijayabhaskar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 364

In the instant matter, the Division Bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, JJ., addressed the larger issues of the freedom of speech and expression of the media, the right to information of citizens and the accountability of the judiciary to the nation, within the core question of “whether a constitutional body (the Election Commission of India) can set up a plea that constitutional status is an immunity from judicial oversight?” The Bench held that there was no substance in the prayer of the EC for restraining the media from reporting on court proceedings.

“This Court stands as a staunch proponent of the freedom of the media to report court proceedings. This we believe is integral to the freedom of speech and expression of those who speak, of those who wish to hear and to be heard and above all, in holding the judiciary accountable to the values which justify its existence as a constitutional institution.

Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic, In re, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 372

The 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., clarified that the purpose for taking the suo motu cognisance the “grim” situation of the country hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and non-availability of COVID-19 essentials was not to supplant or to substitute the judicial process which is being conducted in several High Courts across the country under Article 226 of the Constitution.

“The High Courts are well suited to make an assessment of the ground realities which prevail in each State and to find flexible solutions to deal with practical concerns of and the serious hardships faced by the citizens. Hence, there is no reason or justification to interdict the exercise of the jurisdiction of the High Courts in responding to the human problems faced by the citizens in the States and Union Territories and to find solutions with the cooperation of the authorities.”

Read More

Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra, (2021) 2 SCC 427

In a case where the Bombay High Court failed to evaluate even prima facie of the most basic issue, thereby refusing bail to the accused, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, JJ., reminded the High Courts and District Courts of their duty to ensure human liberty. Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud who authored the decision, observed that, “Law should not become a ruse for targeted harassment”.

“Liberty survives by the vigilance of her citizens, on the cacophony of the media and in the dusty corridors of courts alive to the rule of (and not by) law. Yet, much too often, liberty is a casualty when one of these components is found wanting”.

Read More

State of Gujarat v. Narayan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 949

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

Read More

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

In this major verdict, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., ordered that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Indian Army in service, irrespective of their years of service. Holding that the blanket non- consideration of women for criteria or command appointments absent an individuated justification by the Army cannot be sustained in law, the Court said that the Army has provided no justification in discharging its burden as to why women across the board should not be considered for any criteria or command appointments. Command assignments are not automatic for men SSC officers who are granted PC and would not be automatic for women either.

Read more

Rajesh v. State of Haryana, (2021) 1 SCC 118

The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, JJ., summarised the principles relating to conduct of a Test Identification Parade (TIP) and held that

“… the identification in the course of a TIP is intended to lend assurance to the identity of the accused. The finding of guilt cannot be based purely on the refusal of the accused to undergo an identification parade.”

Read more

K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Privacy- 9 Judge),(2017) 10 SCC 1

Justice Chandrachud was part of the 9 Judge Bench which unanimously held that, Right to Privacy is a basic fundamental right. The Bench, which also comprised of J.S. Khehar, CJ. and J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, S.K. Kaul and S.A. Nazeer, JJ., observed that Right to Privacy forms an intrinsic part of Art. 21 and freedoms guaranteed in Pt. III. It permeates core of Preambular philosophy underlying “liberty” and “dignity” as also human concepts of “life” and “personal liberty” enshrined in Art. 21 and wide ranging freedoms guaranteed under Pt. III, considered essential for a meaningful human existence. Dr. Chandrachud, J., writing for himself and on behalf of J.S. Khehar, CJ, R.K. Agrawal and S.A. Nazeer, JJ, said that Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. He added,

“While the legitimate expectation of privacy may vary from the intimate zone to the private zone and from the private to the public arenas, it is important to underscore that privacy is not lost or surrendered merely because the individual is in a public place. Privacy attaches to the person since it is an essential facet of the dignity of the human being”.

Read more

Did you Know? The Privacy case also marked a unique moment in judicial history of India; as Justice Chandrachud overruled the ADM Jabalpur decision in which his father, Late Justice Y.V. Chandrachud was part of the majority. Terming the judgments rendered by the majority as “seriously flawed”, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that-

H.R. Khanna, J. was clearly right in holding that the recognition of the right to life and personal liberty under the Constitution does not denude the existence of that right, apart from it nor can there be a fatuous assumption that in adopting the Constitution the people of India surrendered the most precious aspect of the human persona, namely, life, liberty and freedom to the State on whose mercy these rights would depend”.

Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1

In this landmark 5 -Judge Bench decision which became instrumental in upholding the rights of the LGBT community, Dipak Misra, CJ., and R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ., held Section 377 IPC to be unconstitutional insofar it criminalised gay sex between consenting adults. The Bench reversed the 2-Judge Bench decision in Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation, (2014) 1 SCC 1.

In his concurring opinion, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., while stating that, “It is difficult to right the wrongs of history. But we can certainly set the course for the Future, held that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders have a constitutional right to equal citizenship in all its manifestations. Sexual orientation is recognised and protected by the Constitution.

Read more

Joseph Shine v. Union of India,(2019) 3 SCC 39

The 5-Judge Constitution Bench held Section 497 IPC and Section 198 (2) CrPC to be unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 15 (1) and 21 of the Constitution. Dipak Misra, C.J., delivered the leading judgment for himself and A.M. Khanwilkar, J. While R.F. Nariman, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ., each delivered their separate concurring opinions. Referring to several foreign courts’ judgments and opinions of celebrated authors, Dr. Chandrachud, J. observed that-

“If the ostensible object of the law is to protect the ‘institution of marriage’, it provides no justification for not recognising the agency of a woman whose spouse is engaged in a sexual relationship outside of marriage. She can neither complain nor is the fact that she is in a marital relationship with a man of any significance to the ingredients of the offence. Section 497 is founded on the notion that a woman by entering upon marriage loses, so to speak, her voice, autonomy and agency. Arbitrariness is writ large on the provision”.

Read more  

Krishna Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar, (2017) 3 SCC 1

Stating that re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution and a subversion of democratic legislative processes, the 7 Judge Bench held that the Ordinance making power does not constitute the President or the Governor into a parallel source of law making or an independent legislative authority Justice Chandrachud writing down the majority judgment for himself and S.A. Bobde, A.K. Goel, U.U. Lalit and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ., laid down the principles for promulgation of ordinances.

Read more

Common Cause v. Union of India,(2018) 5 SCC 1

The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Dipak Misra, CJ., and AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ., held that the right to die with dignity is a fundamental right as held in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, (1996) 2 SCC 648 and that ‘passive euthanasia’, both, voluntary and involuntary, is permissible. In his concurring opinion, Dr. Chandrachud, J., observed that,

“While upholding the legality of passive euthanasia (voluntary and non-voluntary) and in recognising the importance of advance directives, the present judgment draws sustenance from the constitutional values of liberty, dignity, autonomy and privacy. In order to lend assurance to a decision taken by the treating doctor in good faith, this judgment has mandated the setting up of committees to exercise a supervisory role and function”.

Read more

 Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M, (2018) 16 SCC 368

The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ., terming the instant case to be perfect example of, “patriarchal autocracy and possibly self-obsession with the feeling that a female is a chattel”, set aside the verdict of Kerala High Court wherein it had annulled the marriage between two consenting adults, namely, Hadiya and Shafin Jahan. Noting that the Kerala HC erred in its decision, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., in his concurring opinion, came down heavily upon the Kerala HC, stating that,

“The schism between Hadiya and her father may be unfortunate. But it was no part of the jurisdiction of the High Court to decide what it considered to be a “just” way of life or “correct” course of living for Hadiya. She has absolute autonomy over her person. There was no warrant for the High Court to proceed further in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226. The High Court has entered into a domain which is alien to its jurisdiction in a habeas corpus petition. How Hadiya chooses to lead her life is entirely a matter of her choice”.

Read more     

Notable Dissents

Beghar Foundation v. K.S. Puttaswamy (Aadhaar Review-5 J.), (2021) 3 SCC 1

Seeking a review of the decision delivered by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Aadhaar-5 Judge), (2019) 1 SCC 1, the 5 Judge Bench of the Court comprising of A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, S. Abdul Nazeer and B.R. Gavai, JJ., with a ratio of 4:1 dismissed this petition, while observing that, change in the law or subsequent decision/judgment of a coordinate or larger Bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review.

However, Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud gave his dissenting opinion on the issue and observed that constitutional principles of consistency and rule of law would require that a decision on the Review Petitions should await the reference to the Larger Bench.

“It is important to draw a distinction with a situation where a judgment attains finality and the view propounded by it is disapproved by a larger bench subsequently”.

K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Aadhaar-5 Judge),(2019) 1 SCC 1

The 5- Judge Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ., by a majority of 4:1, upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. Justice Chandrachud gave a 23-point conclusion to the opinion wherein he dissented from the majority. In his opinion, the entire Aadhaar programme, since 2009, suffers from the constitutional infirmities and violations of fundamental rights-

“Creating strong privacy protection laws and instilling safeguards may address or at the very least assuage some of the concerns associated with the Aadhar scheme which severely impairs informational self-determination, individual privacy, dignity and autonomy”.

In a sharp criticism on passing of the Aaadhar Act as Money Bill within the meaning of Art.110 of the Constitution, Dr. Chandrachud, J., observed that-

“There is a constitutional trust which attaches to the empowerment of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to decide whether a legislative measure is a Money Bill. Entrustment of the authority to decide is founded on the expectation that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha will not dilute the existence of a coordinate institution in a bicameral legislature. A constitutional trust has been vested in the office of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. By declaring an ordinary Bill to be a Money Bill, the Speaker limits the role of the Rajya Sabha. This power cannot be unbridled or bereft of judicial scrutiny”. 

Read more

Jindal Stainless Ltd v. State of Haryana,(2017) 12 SCC 1

The 9-judge bench, by a ratio of 7:2, upheld the validity of the entry tax imposed by the States on goods imported from other States. It was held that taxes simpliciter are not within the contemplation of Part XIII of the Constitution of India and that the word ‘Free’ used in Article 301 does not mean “free from taxation”. Delivering a dissenting opinion Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that,

“In order to determine whether a law providing for the imposition of a tax constitutes a restriction on the freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse, the principle that must be applied is whether the direct and inevitable effect or consequence of the law is to impede trade and commerce. The direct and inevitable consequence for the purposes of Part XIII of the Constitution is not the same as an infringement of the fundamental right to carry on an occupation, trade or business under Article 19(1)(g)”. He further observed that, “Article 301 sub-serves the constitutional goal of integrating the nation into an economic entity comprising of a common market for goods and services”.

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Abhiram Singh v. C.D. Commachen, (2017) 2 SCC 629 

In a 4:3 verdict, the 7-Judge Bench held that an appeal in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language is impermissible under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and would constitute a corrupt practice sufficient to annul the election in which such an appeal was made regardless whether the appeal was in the name of the candidate’s religion or the religion of the election agent or that of the opponent or that of the voters’. Writing the dissenting opinion for himself and Adarsh K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ.; Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that ‘his’ as in Section 123(3) of RP Act does not refer to the religion, race, caste, community or language of the voter. Dr. Chandrachud, J., made a very significant observation in his dissent-

“Our Constitution recognises the broad diversity of India and, as a political document, seeks to foster a sense of inclusion. It seeks to wield a nation where its citizens practise different religions, speak varieties of languages, belong to various castes and are of different communities into the concept of one nationhood. The Indian State has no religion nor does the Constitution recognise any religion as a religion of the State. India is not a theocratic State but a secular nation in which there is a respect for and acceptance of the equality between religions”.

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Romila Thapar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 753 

In the instant case wherein 5 human rights activists were charged and arrested under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and the 3 Judge Bench of the Court with a ratio of 2:1 (Dipak Misra CJ., and A.M. Khanwilkar, J.) rejected their prayer seeking appointment of SIT and court-monitored investigation; Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dissented with the majority. He observed that, “Dissent is a symbol of a vibrant democracy. Voices in opposition cannot be muzzled by persecuting those who take up unpopular causes”. Taking the view that a Special Investigating Team should be appointed to pursue the matter, Dr. Chandrachud, J., stated that,

“The purpose of the direction which I propose to give is to ensure that the basic entitlement of every citizen who is faced with allegations of criminal wrongdoing, is that the investigative process should be fair. This is an integral component of the guarantee against arbitrariness under Article 14 and of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. If this Court were not to stand by the principles which we have formulated, we may witness a soulful requiem to liberty”.

[1] Bombay High Court, Hon’ble Former Justices

[2] Supreme Court of India, Chief Justices and Judges

Know thy Judge

Justice Uday U. Lalit, born on 9th November, 1957, is the 6th Senior Advocate to be directly elevated to the Supreme Court. As a senior advocate he specialised in criminal cases and was appointed as CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in all 2G matters, under the Supreme Court’s orders.

Journey to becoming Supreme Court Judge

Justice Uday U. Lalit  is the son of Retd. Justice UR. Lalit, a former additional judge of the Bombay High Court, Nagpur bench and a senior counsel practising at the Supreme Court. He joined the bar in 1983 and practiced as an advocate in the Bombay High Court from 1983 to 1985. In 1986, he joined the chambers of Former Attorney General for India, Soli Sorabjee from 1986 to 1992. In 2004, he was designated as a senior advocate and also served as a member of the Supreme Court’s Legal Services Committee for two terms.[1]

In 2011, the Supreme Court bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly appointed him as CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in all 2G matters.[2] Finally, in the year 2014, he was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. A DNA India report[3], described that his “strength as an advocate were his thoroughness with the case, patience in explaining legal questions and the sober demeanour in presenting the case before the bench”.

Some Recent and Notable Judgments that Justice Uday U. Lalit has been a part of 

Smriti Madan Kansagra v. Perry Kansagra, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 887

The bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Hemant Gupta, JJ, explaining the concept of a mirror order, has said,

“The mirror order is passed to ensure that the courts of the country where the child is being shifted are aware of the arrangements which were made in the country where he had ordinarily been residing. Such an order would also safeguard the interest of the parent who is losing custody, so that the rights of visitation and temporary custody are not impaired.”

The said explanation came in a 2:1 verdict, where Indu Malhotra, J, writing the majority judgment for herself and UU Lalit, J, transferred the custody of an 11-year-old child to his father, an Indian-origin business tycoon living in Kenya, from his mother with whom he has been living since birth.

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Imperia Structures v. Anil Patni, (2020) 10 SCC 783

The bench of UU Lalit and Vineet Saran, JJ has held that the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA Act) does not bar the initiation of proceedings by allottees against the builders under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

“It is true that some special authorities are created under the RERA Act for the regulation and promotion of the real estate sector and the issues concerning a registered project are specifically entrusted to functionaries under the RERA Act. But for the present purposes, we must go by the purport of Section 18 of the RERA Act. Since it gives a right “without prejudice to any other remedy available’, in effect, such other remedy is acknowledged and saved subject always to the applicability of Section 79.”

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Ravindran v. Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, 2020 2 SCC 485

Interpreting Section 167(2) CrPC, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Sarah, JJ has said that the Courts cannot adopt a rigid or formalistic approach whilst considering any issue that touches upon the rights contained in Article 21. It said,

“The history of the enactment of Section 167(2), CrPC and the safeguard of ‘default bail’ contained in the Proviso thereto is intrinsically linked to Article 21 and is nothing but a legislative exposition of the constitutional safeguard that no person shall be detained except in accordance with rule of law.”

Going into the legislative intent, the Court noticed that Section 167(2) was enacted providing for time limits on the period of remand of the accused, proportionate to the seriousness of the offence committed, failing which the accused acquires the indefeasible right to bail.

“… the intent of the legislature was to balance the need for sufficient time limits to complete the investigation with the need to protect the civil liberties of the accused.”

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 Sri Marthanda Varma (D) v. State of Kerala, (2021) 1 SCC 485

The bench of UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra, JJ has upheld the rights of the Travancore royal family in the administration of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, one of the world’s richest temples, in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram. Allowing the appeal filed by members of the Travancore family, the Court observed that the death of the Travancore ruler, who signed the covenant, does not affect the rights of the Shebaitship Travancore family over the temple and it will survive as per the customs.

After referring to a number of decisions, the Court concluded that when the idol is installed and the temple is constructed or an endowment is founded, the shebaitship is vested in the founder and unless the founder himself has disposed of the shebaitship in a particular manner or there is some usage or custom or circumstances showing a different mode of devolution, the shebaitship like any other species of heritable property follows the line of inheritance from the founder; and it is not open to the Court to lay down a new rule of succession or alter the rule of succession.

“… the shebaitship has the elements of office and property, of duties and personal interest blended together and they invest the office of the shebait with the character of proprietary right.”

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Pyare Lal v. State of Haryana, (2020) 8 SCC 680

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran referred the question can a policy framed under Article 161 for grant of remission override the requirements under Section 433-A CrPC to a larger bench and framed the following issue:

“Whether in exercise of power conferred under Article 161 of the Constitution a policy can be framed, whereunder certain norms or postulates are laid down, on the satisfaction of which the benefit of remission can thereafter be granted by the Executive without placing facts or material with respect to any of the cases before the Governor and whether such exercise can override the requirements under Section 433-A of the Code.”

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Justice (Retd.) Markandey Katju v. The Lok Sabha, (2017) 2 SCC 384

Dismissing the petition filed by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju against the resolutions passed by Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha condemning the statements made by him in Facebook posts where he termed Mahatma Gandhi a British Agent and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose an agent of Japanese fascism, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and R. Banumathi and U.U. Lalit, JJ held that for the free functioning of Houses of Parliament or Legislatures of State, the representatives of people must be free to discuss and debate any issues or questions concerning general public interest.

“Members need to be free of all constraints in the matter of what they say in Parliament if they are to effectively represent their constituencies in its deliberations. Sub-article (2) of Article 105 puts negatively what sub- article (1) states affirmatively. Both sub-articles must be read together to determine their content. By reason of the first part of sub-article (2) no Member is answerable in a court of law or any similar tribunal for what he has said in Parliament. This again is recognition of the fact that a Member needs the freedom to say what he thinks is right in Parliament undeterred by the fear of being proceeded against. A vote, whether cast by voice or gesture or the aid of a machine, is treated as an extension of speech or a substitute for speech and is given the protection that the spoken word has.”

The Court noted that both Houses were conscious of the fact that the remarks about Mahatma Gandhi were made not by an ordinary person but by one who had occupied high public office. Hence, if both Houses thought it fit to pass resolutions in the form of a declaration, it was certainly within their competence to do so as the nature of remarks regarding Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose pertain to general public interest. It was further noticed that the resolutions had no civil consequences in so far as the conduct and character of the petitioner is concerned.

“The first question raised by the petitioner is a time tested question regarding the scope of fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution to hold and express a dissenting opinion. The scope of this article has received judicial consideration on numerous occasions and the issue whether such freedom would include right to express a dissenting opinion is also a non issue; as it is only the maker of an unpopular and dissenting opinion who would need a cover or insulation. A popular or accepted opinion, naturally would not require any protection. In any event, Article 19(1)(a) guarantees free speech and expression and makes no distinction and imposes no caveats, whether such speech is popular or dissenting in nature. What is interesting is that the petitioner, in fact, exercised such freedom of speech and exercised it rather adequately. His comments and views on two famous personalities were available for consumption in public domain. His freedom of speech in publically expressing his views or propagating his ideas was not and is not in any manner curtailed or impaired or placed under any restriction”.

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 Union of India v. V. Sriharan, (2016) 7 SCC 1

In Union of India v. V. Sriharan, (2016) 7 SCC 1, the constitution bench comprising of H.L. Dattu, CJ and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Abhay Manohar Sapre and Uday U Lalit, JJ held that life imprisonment in terms of Secs 53 and 45 of the Penal Code, 1860 means imprisonment for the rest of life of convict.  The Court held that a special category sentence, in substitution of death sentence, that is, sentence barring remission under CrPC for specified term beyond 14 years, is valid. It is clarified that power under Arts. 72 and 161 is not affected at all. After expiry of said non-remittable term, remission powers under CrPC would be exercisable. Such special sentence, is not a new sentence but within limits of life imprisonment and thus, not violative of separation of powers. Such special sentence when imposed under substantive provisions of IPC does not overlap procedural power under CrPC either. Considering the crime situation in India (particularly nexus between hardened criminals and ill-gotten wealth, and nature of heinous crimes on the rise), delay in disposal of cases, and balancing interests of victims with those of convicts, such a special category of sentence is necessary. Arguments based on ray of hope for the convict were held not tenable. Such hope is rather required for victims, the Court observed. Such special category sentences can only be imposed by the High Court or Supreme Court and not by a trial court. Such special category sentence not prescribed by any statute, barring operation of remission powers under CrPC, is invalid. Such a special category sentence closes doors for reformation and encroaches upon power of legislature by prescribing a new sentence.

Some of the important observations by Justice UU Lalit in this case were

    • While construing the term ‘consultation’ it must be seen who is the best equipped and likely to be more correct in his view for achieving the purpose and performing the tasks satisfactorily and greater weight to his opinion may then be attached.
    • The convict undergoing the life imprisonment can always apply to the concerned authority for obtaining remission either under Articles 72 or 161 of the Constitution or under Section 432 Cr.P.C. and the authority would be obliged to consider the same reasonably. The right to apply and invoke the powers under these provisions does not mean that he can claim such benefit as a matter of right based on any arithmetical calculation. All that he can claim is a right that his case be considered. The decision whether remissions be granted or not is entirely left to the discretion of the concerned authorities, which discretion ought to be exercised in a manner known to law. The convict only has right to apply to competent authority and have his case considered in a fair and reasonable manner.
    • By exercise of power of remission, the appropriate Government is enabled to wipe out that part of the sentence which has not been served out and over- ride a judicially pronounced sentence. The decision to grant remission must, therefore, be well informed, reasonable and fair to all concerned.

Miss ‘A’ v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2020 (10) SCC 505

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has held that no person is entitled to a copy of statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 till the appropriate orders are passed by the court after the charge-sheet is filed.

“The right to receive a copy of such statement will arise only after cognizance is taken and at the stage contemplated by Sections 207 and 208 of the Code and not before.”

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Shayara Bano v. Union of India, (2017) 9 SCC 1

In the landmark Shayara Bano case, the Constitution bench comprises 5 judges namely Khehar, CJ,and  Kurian Joseph, RF Nariman, Uday U Lalit and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ. Held the triple talaq to be violative of Article 14 and pronounced it to be unconstitutional. Nariman, J, writing down the majority judgment for himself and Lalit, J noted that given the fact that Triple Talaq is instant and irrevocable, it is obvious that any attempt at reconciliation between the husband and wife by two arbiters from their families, which is essential to save the marital tie, cannot ever take place. After going through the Hanafi jurisprudence, the Court noticed that very jurisprudence castigates Triple Talaq as being sinful. The Court said that Triple Talaq is a form of Talaq which is itself considered to be something innovative, namely, that it is not in the Sunna, being an irregular or heretical form of Talaq, it was held that:

“the fundamental nature of the Islamic religion, as seen through an Indian Sunni Muslim’s eyes, will not change without this practice.”

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Vinodchandra Sakarlal Kapadia v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 545

The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and AS Bopanna, JJ has held that an agriculturist cannot part with his agricultural land to a non-agriculturist though a ‘Will’ as per Sections 43 and 63 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands, Act, 1948 (the Tenancy Act).

Section 43 lays down the restrictions on transfer of land sold or purchased under the Tenancy Act and Section 63 bars the transfer of agricultural lands to non-agriculturists.

The Court said,

“if it is held that the testamentary disposition would not get covered by the provisions of Section 43, a gullible person can be made to execute a testament in favour of a person who may not fulfil the requirements and be eligible to be a transferee in accordance with law. This may not only render the natural heirs of the tenant without any support or sustenance but may also have serious impact on agricultural operations.”

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Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746

Holding that the minimum period of six months stipulated under Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for a motion for passing decree of divorce on the basis of mutual consent is not mandatory but directory, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ said that it will be open to the Court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation.

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 Anokhilal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2019 (20) SCC 196

Noticing that where death sentence could be one of the alternative punishments, the courts must be completely vigilant and see that full opportunity at every stage is afforded to the accused, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Krishna Murari, JJ has laid down the norms to ensure the same.

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Meters and Instruments Pvt Ltd v. Kanchan Mehta (2018) 1 SCC 560.

In the case where the question as to how proceedings for an offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 can be regulated where the accused is willing to deposit the cheque amount, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ held that Section 143 of the Act confers implied power on the Magistrate to discharge the accused if the complainant is compensated to the satisfaction of the Court, where the accused tenders the cheque amount with interest and reasonable cost of litigation as assessed by the Court. The Court said:

“Basic object of the law is to enhance credibility of the cheque transactions by providing speedy remedy to the complainant without intending to punish the drawer of the cheque whose conduct is reasonable or where compensation to the complainant meets the ends of justice.”

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Indsil Hydro Power & Manganese Ltd. v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 665

A Division Bench of Uday U. Lalit and Vineet Saran, JJ. held that charges levied by the Kerala State Electricity Board for the use of controlled water by Captive Power Producers (“CPPs”) was perfectly justified. While upholding the Kerala High Court’s judgment which was challenged by the CPPs, the Supreme Court observed:

“Since the private entity or agency would stand to gain from and out of the capital outlay and infrastructure put in place by the State, some reasonable charges for such benefit would naturally be imposed.”  

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Commissioner of Income Tax (Exemptions) v. Batanagar Education and Research Trust, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 529 

Noting the donations being made to the Trust to be ‘bogus donations’ Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., cancelled the registration of the Trust under Section 12AA and 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1963. Present appeal challenged the decision of Calcutta High Court setting aside the order passed by Commissioner of Income Tax (Exemption) cancelling the registration of respondent Trust under Section 12AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and another order passed by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal dismissing appeals therefrom.

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Laureate Buildwell (P) Ltd. v. Charanjeet Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 479

The Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., while giving major relief to homebuyers, held that rights of purchasers are the same as that of original allottees.Appellant (builder) was aggrieved by the order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).Respondent (Purchaser) sought a direction against the builder, for a refund of the consideration amount of Rs 1,93,70, 883 received by the latter as consideration for the sale of a flat along with interest from the date different instalments were paid as well as compensation and costs.

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Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation v. Sunil Kumar B., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 630

The bench of UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has referred the question as to whether there would be a cut-off date under paragraph 11(3) of the Employees’ Pension Scheme to a larger bench. The larger bench will also decide whether the decision in R.C. Gupta v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner Employees Provident Fund Organization, (2018) 4 SCC 809 would be the governing principle on the basis of which all these matters must be disposed of.

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Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Ltd v. CG Power and Industrial Solutions Limited, (2021) 6 SCC 15

In the case where Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Ltd had levied cess on CG Power and Industrial Solutions Limited based on CAG report only and had withheld dues in respect of other contracts, the bench of UU Lalit and Indira Banerjee*, JJ has termed such levy a forcible extraction of cess and has held,

“… the Cess Act and/or statutory rules framed thereunder prescribe the mode and manner of recovery of outstanding cess under the Cess Act. It is well settled that when statute requires a thing to be done in a particular manner, it is to be done in that manner alone. UPPTCL could not have taken recourse to the methods adopted by it.”

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Rajinder Goel v. High Court of Punjab and Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 528

In the case where the Governor of Haryana had directed compulsory retirement of an Additional District and Sessions Judge after the Full court of Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the same after finding him guilty of unexplained bank transactions, the bench of UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi, JJ upheld the decision of the Full Court and said,

“… there were multiple transactions showing deposits and withdrawals of substantial amounts of money, it cannot be said that the Full Court was not justified in taking the view that it did.”

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Pankaj Kumar v. State of Jharkhand, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 616

The bench of UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has held that such persons whose place of origin/domicile on or before the appointed day i.e. 15th November, 2000 was of the State of Bihar now falling within the districts/regions which form a successor State, i.e., State of Jharkhand under Section 3 of the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000 can claim the benefit of reservation for participation in public employment in either of the successor State of Bihar or State of Jharkhand. Reservation can, however, not be claimed in both the States simultaneously.

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Shatrughna Baban Meshram v. State of Maharashtra, (2021) 1 SCC 596

 In a chilling case where a 21-year-old man was sentenced to death under Sections 302 and to life imprisonment under 376A of IPC for raping and killing his 2.5 years-old niece, the 3-judge bench of Justice UU Lalit*, Indu Malhotra and Krishna Murari, JJ has commuted the punishment to life imprisonment for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC and to that of rigorous imprisonment for 25 years for the offence punishable under Section 376A IPC. The Court also affirmed the conviction and sentence recorded by the Courts below for the offences punishable under Section 376(1), (2)(f), (i) and (m) of IPC, and under Section 6 of the POCSO Act.

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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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Milk Union & Dairy Federation Centralized Services v. Jagpal Singh, (2021) 5 SCC 259

The 3-Judge Bench comprising of Uday Umesh Lalit, Hemant Gupta* and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., addressed the instant appeal filed against the order of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, whereby the High Court had declared the order of punishment passed by Milk Commissioner/Registrar as incorrect. The Supreme Court stated,

“In terms of the specific statutory regime referable to Section 122-A of the 1965 Act, Rule 15, would be the governing principle rather than Regulation 87 framed in exercise of regulation making power referable to the general dispensation under Sections 121 and 122 of the 1965 Act. Rule 15 does not contemplate that the Chairman of the Committee is required to have any prior concurrence of any authority.”

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Saurav Yadav v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2021) 4 SCC 542

In the case where OBC female category candidates had challenged the appointment of General category female candidates, who had secured lower marks, as Constables in Uttar Pradesh Police, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit*, S. Ravindra Bhat** and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has directed that all candidates coming from ‘OBC Female Category’ who had secured more marks than 274.8928, i.e. the marks secured by the last candidate appointed in ‘General Category–Female’ must be offered employment as Constables in Uttar Pradesh Police.

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  1.  Uday U. Lalit, Environmental Conservation and Protection: Role and Contribution of Constitutional Courts, Eighth Lala Amar Chand Sood Memorial Lecture:

[1] Supreme Court Observer, Judges’ archive 

[2]2G scam: SC orders Lalit be made prosecutor by Sanjay K. Singh, The Economic Times, last updated on April 12, 2011

[3] Uday Lalit among four new judges to assume charge in Supreme Court, DNA India, Published on August 13, 2014

Fact ChecksNews

Screenshots of a tweet by a journalist has been doing the rounds on social media that the Supreme Court Bar Association headed by president Dushyant Dave has passed a resolution not to give farewell to Arun Mishra, J. when he retires on September 2. Along with the screenshot of the tweet, a pdf titled ‘Proposed Resolution of SCBA’ is also circulating. The pdf states that the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association has resolved not to hold any farewell for Justice Mishra upon his retirement. Two points have been mentioned in the pdf which state that he was extremely unpleasant to the members of the Bar and have misbehaved with him on several occasions and that all important matters of the government where assigned to him, and  therefore other judges were relegated to an inferior position. The note ends with the statement that Justice Mishra had caused immense damage to the Supreme Court as an institution and that the Bar registers its protest by not giving any farewell to Justice Mishra. The points can be read in detail in the pdf image given below. 

Now let us test the veracity of the claims in the pdf. We checked the official website of the Supreme Court Bar Association and found that there is a notification published there which states that circulating pdf with respect to the statement tissued by the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association on the issue of Farewell to Hon’ble Mr. Justice Arun Mishra on his retirement next month is false. The  notification further states that no such statement had been issued by the Executive Committee and that in fact this matter had not been considered by the EC in any meeting. The Press release being attributed to the EC was not genuine and is strongly denied by Mr Dave on behalf of the EC. Mr Dave strongly condemned the same as being mischievous and an attempt to malign the SCBA. 

The notification uploaded on the SCBA website can be seen below:

Therefore, we can safely say that the circulating message is false and no resolution has been passed by the SCBA to not give a farewell to Justice Mishra.

Appointments & TransfersNews

The Supreme Court of India will have the highest strength of Judges ever after the sworn-in ceremony of 4 newly appointed Judges by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.

The strength will go up from 30 to 34 sitting Judges in the Supreme Court of India.

The Four new Judges are:

  • Shri Justice Krishna Murari, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court
  • Shri Justice Shripathi Ravindra Bhat, Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court
  • Shri Justice V. Ramasubramanian, Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court
  • Shri Justice Hrishikesh Roy, Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court

Appointments & TransfersNews

Against the sanctioned strength of 31 Judges, the Supreme Court of India is presently functioning with 27 Judges, leaving 04 clear vacancies.

The Collegium has discussed names of Chief Justices as well as senior puisne Judges of all High Courts, eligible for elevation to the Supreme Court. The Collegium is of the considered view that at present the following persons are more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts, for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India:

1. Mr Justice Aniruddha Bose,
Chief Justice, Jharkhand High Court
(PHC: Calcutta) and

2. Mr Justice A.S. Bopanna,
Chief Justice, Gauhati High Court
(PHC: Karnataka)

The Collegium comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and S.A. Bobde, N.V.Ramana, Arun Mishra and R.F. Nariman, JJ., therefore, recommends that Justices Aniruddha Bose and A.S. Bopanna be appointed as Judges in the Supreme Court of India.

Collegium Resolutions

Supreme Court of India

[Dated: 12-04-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Considering the seriousness and urgency of the matter wherein it was alleged that attempts were made to bribe some Supreme Court judges in the matters relating to Medical admission scam, the bench of J Chelameswar and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ said that the matter be heard by the Constitution Bench of the first five Judges and listed the matter on November 13, 2017.

The petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal highlighted that a case was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against Retired Orissa High Court Judge, Justice IM Quddusi containing serious allegations implicating the said Judge under Section 8 and Section 120 B of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The Court, hence, agreed to hear the matter and said:

“The FIR contained certain allegations which are disturbing. The allegations pertain to the functioning of this Court. On perusal of the FIR which was placed before us in the morning, we thought it necessary and proper to take up the matter immediately.”

As an interim measure, the Court directed that the case diary and all the related materials be kept in a sealed cover and produce the same before the Constitution Bench on Monday, the 13th November, 2017.

The controversy relates to de-registration of 46 medical colleges by Central Government for substandard facilities. In September, 2017, CBI arrested the former High Court judge on allegations of hatching a conspiracy to bribe public officials, including Supreme Court judges after Supreme debarred the colleges from admitting students for academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19. [Kamini Jaiswal v. Union of India, Writ Petition(s)(Criminal) No(s). 176/2017, order dated 09.11.2017]