Landmark Judgements of Supreme Court

The Details Of The Issue:
AK Gopalan was a Communist leader. He was kept in the Madras Jail in 1950 under Preventive Detention Law. Through the writ of Habeas Corpus and as per the Article 32 of the Constitution- he tested his detainment. He contended that Sections 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 of the Act abuses Articles 13, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution. As per his contest the said Act should be ultra vires of the essential thing arrangements as revered under the Constitution of India.
The solicitor further represented the issue of the Indian Constitutio's 'method characterized by resolution' condition.

The Judgement:
The Supreme Court of India argued that Article 22 of the Indian Constitution was an independent Code . It said that Gopalan was kept by the system set up by law.
The court also stated that if an individual's freedom is removed by the State as per the system set up by law it cannot be held that it is disregarding the arrangements contained in Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
The apex court held out a restricted perspective on Article 21 in this case. While applying the regulation of severity, the zenith court pronounced segment 14 as void as it discovers it to be unconstitutional and violative of the key rights. Court stated the rule of the law (the system was in cognizance) called for the use of fair treatment and liberties on a global platform. The Court also said that the detainment was legitimate and thus writ was to be discarded.

The Details Of The Issue:
It is one of the supremely memorable cases of the Indian Judicial system. It was filed in 1970. Keshvananda Bharati was the chief of Edneer Mutt. It is a religious group in Kasaragod, Kerala. Bharati possessed several pieces of land in his name. It was then that the state government of Kerala had introduced the Land Reforms Amendment Act, 1969.
When the petition was still in court, many amendments were already done by the Government following the case of Golaknath v. State of Punjab.

The Judgement:
The 13 judge Constitutional bench in the apec court by 7:6 ratio, delivered a landmark judgment in this case. It outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Constitution and gave stability to it.
The SC also held that not even a single part of the Constitution, including Fundamental Rights, was beyond the amending power of the Parliament, however, the "basic structure of the Constitution must not be abrogated even through a constitutional amendment."
Bharati lost his case partially, but the case became a savior of Indian democracy and saved the Constitution from losing its spirit.

The Details Of The Issue:
In 1977, the passport of Maneka Gandhi , daughter in law of Late PM Indira Gandhi, was impounded by the ruling Government of Janta Party. She filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging this order.

The Judgement:
The court did not reverse the government order in this case, however, the judgment had far-reaching ramifications. The seven-judge bench said that the citizens have the right to personal liberty (Article 21 of the Constitution), which is an important precedent for fundamental right cases.
The case and the judgmental been cited 215 times by other Supreme Court judges in their judgments.
As per Justice Chandra, "The Maneka Gandhi case epitomized the shift in legal jurisprudence in the late 1970s, with the Supreme Court taking on a more active role and trying to assert its legitimacy after the Emergency." The Supreme Court was heavily criticized for failing to defend liberties and constitutional values during the Emergency.

The Details Of The Issue:
In the year 2016, ShayaraBano was divorced by Rizwan Ahmad after 15 years of marriage through instantaneous triple talaq method or talaq -e bidat. A Writ Petition was filed in the Supreme Cour to hold talaq-e-biddat, polygamy, nikah-halala practiced in Muslim Community as unconstitutional.
Bano also claimed that such practices violated the articles 14, 15, 21, 25 of the Indian Constitution.

The Judgement:
The Union of India and the women rights organizations like Bebaak Collective and Bhartiya Muslim MahilaAndolan (BMMA) supported ShayaraBano's plea. They agreed that such practices must be labeled unconstitutional. The apex court formed a 5 judge constitutional bench after the plea was accepted. SC stated that triple talaq in any form was illegal. It also declared instant triple talaq as unconstitutional. On 22nd August 2017, the apex court announced a legal ban on Triple Talaq with up to three years jail for the husband.

The Details Of The Issue:
S.R. Bommai was the Chief Minister of the Janata Dal Government. He was in service in Karnataka between August 13, 1988, and April 21, 1989. On April 21, 1989, the state government's rule was dismissed citing Article 356 of the Constitution which is the State Emergency or widely known as the President's Rule. This tactic was most commonly used to keep Opposition parties under control. Bommai moved to Karnataka High court against the Governor's decision that recommended Article 356 in the state.

The Judgement:
Karnataka High Court dismissed his writ petition. Then, the minister took the case to the Supreme Court. It was the nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that issued the historic order on March 11, 1994.
The verdict stated that the power of the President to dismiss a State government is not absolute. It added that the President must exercise it only after getting it approved by both Houses of Parliament.
It allowed the President to only suspend the Legislative Assembly till then. The judgement read, "The dissolution of the Legislative Assembly is not a matter of course. It should be resorted to only where it is found necessary for achieving the purposes of the Proclamation." This judgement is important because it put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments under Article 356 pointing towards restrictions.

The Details Of The Issue:
Navtej Johar and five others from the LGBT community filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in June 2016. On September 6, 2018, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was struck down unanimously by a five-judge Bench.

The Judgement:
The court allowed consensual relationships among the individuals of the LGBT community which made it one of the historic Supreme Court judgments. Supreme Court also made it clear that the choice of LGBT persons to enter into physical relationship with persons of the same sex is their choice. They are equally entitled to the enforcement of their Fundamental Rights.
The Apex Court also decriminalized relationship in the same sex when it was consensual. The Court, however, upheld provisions in Section 377 that criminalize non-consensual acts performed on animals.

The Details Of The Issue:
The case highlighted a major issue. The Indian Constitution recognized social and educational backwardness; however, economic backwardness was missed. In the year 1993, Indira Sawhney filed a case against Narasimha Rao Government. The case was against the Government allowing just 10 % reservation for economically backward categories of upper castes in various Government jobs.

The Judgement:
The Supreme Court in its judgment stated that a 50 % cap was to be imposed on caste-based reservations.
The apex court also upheld separate reservations for OBCs in central government jobs but with the exclusion of the creamy layer. The Judgement also stated that the reservations in appointments under Article 16 (4) of the Constitution would not be applicable to promotions. Judgment implemented, with 27% central government reservation for OBCs. The verdict was however not followed in many states and was again pressed in 1989.

Consent of family not needed once two adults decide to marry
The Court observed that educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners which is a departure from traditional norms of society. The consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once two adult individuals agree to enter a wedlock and their consent has to be piously given primacy.

Juvenile offender under 18 years and above 16 years to be remitted to jurisdictional Juvenile Justice Board.
In this case, the Court considered to what extent could the benefit under the Juvenile Justice Act be extended where the offender was above 16 years and less than 18 years of age on the day the offence was committed. The Court held that in such a case, even if the accused were guilty, the matter must be remitted to the jurisdictional Juvenile Justice Board.

Freedom of press relating to Court proceedings.
The Court held that freedom of speech and expression also extends to reporting the proceedings that happen in courts including oral observations made by judges. "Article 19(1)(a) covers freedom of press. Freedom of speech and expression covers freedom to cover court proceedings too...Now people are more digital oriented and hence look to internet for information. hence it would do no good to prevent a new medium to report proceedings. constitutional bodies will do better than complain about this," the Court said.

Guidelines drafted for Dowry Death Trials.
The Court held that Section 304-B IPC must be interpreted keeping in mind the legislative intent to curb the social evil of bride burning and dowry demand. The Bench, therefore, laid down guidelines for Dowry Death trials in the lower courts.

If deceased was self-employed and below the age of 40 years, 40% addition would be made to their income as future prospects.
This judgement reiterated the ratio of the Supreme Court in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi.

Admissibility of Dying Declaration.
The Supreme Court held that dying declarations are admissible in evidence on the principle of necessity as there is little hope of the maker surviving. Dying declaration can form the basis of conviction if recorded in accordance with law and if it gives a cogent and plausible explanation of the occurrence, it can be relied on as the solitary piece of evidence to convict the accused.

Right not to be deported' is concomitant to Article 19 and available only to Indian citizens.
The Supreme Court, while hearing a case challenging the decision to deport Rohingya refugees, held while fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 are available to all persons whether citizens or not, the 'right not to be deported' is ancillary or concomitant to the right to reside or settle in any part of the territory of India guaranteed under Article 19(1)(e) and is available only to citizens.

Right to Professional Education.
The Court held that though the right to pursue higher education has not been spelt out as a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution, it bears emphasis that access to professional education is not a governmental largesse, and that the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education at all levels.

Reservation for the Maratha community.
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court struck down the Maratha reservation quota and held there were no exceptional circumstances justifying the grant of reservation to Maratha community in excess of 50 percent ceiling limit as laid down in the Indra Sawhney judgment.

OBC reservation cannot exceed 50 percent.
The Supreme Court also laid down a triple test to be complied with by the State before reserving seats in local bodies for OBCs.
The three conditions prescribed are:
(1) to set up a dedicated Commission to conduct rigorous inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness of local bodies, within the State;
(2) to specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body wise in light of recommendations of the Commission; and
(3) in any case such reservation shall not exceed aggregate of 50% of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.

Non-examination of independent witnesses not fatal to prosecution.
The Supreme Court upheld the Allahabad High Court’s observation that where there is clinching evidence of eyewitnesses, non-examination of some of the witnesses or absence of examination of any independent witnesses would not be fatal to the case of the prosecution.

Judgment of Madhya Pradesh High Court which prescribed tying Rakhi as condition for bail set aside.
The Court observed that using Rakhi tying as a condition for bail transforms a molester into a brother by judicial mandate and is wholly unacceptable. It has the effect of diluting and eroding the offence of sexual harassment. The Bench also issued guidelines for dealing with bail in sexual harassment cases and insisted that sensitivity must be displayed by judges in such cases.
The Court directed training and sensitization of judges by mandating a module on gender sensitization as part of the foundational training of every judge.

Fundamental Right To Life unconditionally embraces even an undertrial.
While deciding a petition seeking release of Kerala journalist Sidique Kappan , the Supreme Court held that the fundamental right to life is available to undertrial prisoners as well.

Judgment which excluded persons with over 40 percent visual/hearing impairment from judicial service no longer binding precedent.
The Court ruled that a person suffering from the neurological condition, writer's cramp, is entitled to have a scribe to write the Civil Service exam.
The Court also held that an earlier judgment in V Surendra Mohan v. State of Tamil Nadu which had upheld a ceiling of 40 percent disability for appointment as civil judge, is no longer good law.
Importantly, the Court also held that 'benchmark disability' as defined in the Act is not a precondition to obtaining a scribe.

Power of Court to order house arrest.
The Court held that under Section 167 of the CrPC, in appropriate cases, it will be open to courts to order house arrest as well. Further, in order to house arrest a person, courts can consider criteria like age, health condition and the antecedents of the accused, the nature of the crime, the need for other forms of custody and the ability to enforce the terms of the house arrest.

Vaccine Policy of the Central government.
Amongst other things, the Court noted that paying for vaccination when it is by the State/UT Governments and private hospitals for persons between 18-44 years is arbitrary and irrational.

Judgment which excluded persons with over 40 percent visual/hearing impairment from judicial service no longer binding precedent.
The Court ruled that a person suffering from the neurological condition, writer's cramp, is entitled to have a scribe to write the Civil Service exam.
The Court also held that an earlier judgment in V Surendra Mohan v. State of Tamil Nadu which had upheld a ceiling of 40 percent disability for appointment as civil judge, is no longer good law.
Importantly, the Court also held that 'benchmark disability' as defined in the Act is not a precondition to obtaining a scribe.

Power of Court to order house arrest.
The Court held that under Section 167 of the CrPC, in appropriate cases, it will be open to courts to order house arrest as well. Further, in order to house arrest a person, courts can consider criteria like age, health condition and the antecedents of the accused, the nature of the crime, the need for other forms of custody and the ability to enforce the terms of the house arrest.

Vaccine Policy of the Central government.
Amongst other things, the Court noted that paying for vaccination when it is by the State/UT Governments and private hospitals for persons between 18-44 years is arbitrary and irrational.

Bail in UAPA cases where undertrial accused has been subjected to prolonged imprisonment.
Emphasising on the right to speedy trial under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court allowed the grant of bail to an accused who had spent over 5 years in jail as undertrial in a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The Court accepted that there was a bar under Section 43D(5) of UAPA against grant of bail. However, the Court made it clear that the provision does not oust the jurisdiction of constitutional courts to grant bail on grounds of violation of fundamental rights.

NSA charges against Manipuri activist Erendro Leichombam revoked.
In response to a petition moved by his father, the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of Manipuri activist Erendro Leichombam who was booked under the National Security Act (NSA) for a Facebook post criticising Bharatiya Janata Party leaders for advocating cow-dung and cow-urine as cures for COVID-19.

Reference to larger Bench in case concerning Article 370 of the Constitution denied.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that there is no need to refer to a larger bench the petitions challenging the Presidential Orders to repeal the special status earlier granted to Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

[Civil Appeal No(s). 2064 of 2022 arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No(s). 12468 of 2018]
Vikram Nath, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. The State of Punjab and its officers have assailed the correctness of the judgment and order dated 11.08.2017 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, whereby the High Court allowed the revision petition filed by the respondent Dev Brat Sharma and further proceeded to reject the application of the appellant under Order VII Rule 11 read with Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure1 after setting aside the order dated 10.11.2016 passed by the Trial Court holding that the respondent (plaintiff before the Trial Court) was required to make good deficiency in the Court fees on the amount of Rs. 20 Lakhs claimed by him as compensation.

Citation: MANU/SC/0194/2020

The Supreme Court marked 17 February, 2020 as an important date in the calendar of Indian Armed Forces. For the first time since independence, the females belonging to the Indian Armed Forces will be granted permanent commission to serve in the army. The females had been struggling to attain this right for more than a decade. Justice DY Chandrachud, while delivering the judgment, stated that: ‘At the stage of opting for the grant of PC, all the choices for specialization shall be available to women officers on the same terms as for the male SSC officers. Women SSC officers shall be entitled to exercise their options for being considered for the grant of PCs on the same terms as their male counterparts’.

The judgment upheld the directive principle of equality by providing access to permanent commission to the female populace.

Citation: MANU/SC/0022/2020

Another important judgment that upheld the rights of the citizens declares right to internet as a part and parcel of the right to freedom of speech and expression, a fundamental right granted to the citizens of India under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. The hon’ble court thus concluded that the ban on the internet services in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is unreasonable and violative of the above-mentioned article. Justice NV Ramana ordered the relevant authorities to ‘review forthwith the need for continuance of any existing orders passed under Section 144, Cr.P.C in accordance with law laid down above’. The court believed that suspending telecom services (be it internet or any other services of this kind) is a drastic measure and that passing an order that suspends the internet indefinitely is highly impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services) Rules of 2017.

Citation: (2020) 5 SCC 1

This case posed a typical question in front of the judiciary about whether anticipatory bail granted under section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code should be limited to a fixed period of time or not and that whether such anticipatory bail is trimmed when the court summons the accused. The 5-judge bench unanimously agreed that anticipatory bail shall not be limited to a fixed period of time and in certain peculiar cases, can be extended till the end of the trial upon the order of the hon’ble court. Two separate judgments were pronounced by J. Shah and J. Bhat; however, both the judgments were synchronous with each other and were agreed upon by J. Mishra, J. Banerjee and J. Saran.

The court further overruled the following judgments: Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra & Ors[1], Salauddin Abdulsamad Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra[2] and other subsequent decisions.

Citation: MANU/SC/0139/2020

Another landmark judgment booked for the year; it states that a state is not bound to make reservations to SCs and STs guaranteeing promotions in government jobs. The court further stated that it is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution thereby barring the courts from issuing a mandamus for the same. The hon’ble bench believed that collection of quantifiable data reflecting the representation of SCs and STs is not, mandatory for states if they seek to abstain from providing such reservations. Article 16(4) of the Constitution grants such discretionary power to the states.

The bench thus stated that: ‘As such, collection of data regarding the inadequate representation of members of the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes, is a pre-requisite for providing reservations, and is not required when the State Government decided not to provide reservations. Not being bound to provide reservations in promotions, the State is not required to justify its decision on the basis of quantifiable data, showing that there is adequate representation of members of the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in State services’.

Citation: MANU/SC/0157/2020

The court in this judgment tactfully upheld the constitutionality of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018. This amendment was brought forth to reverse the SC judgment of March 2018[3] that introduced safeguards that prevented the misuse of the Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 also known as the PoA Act. However, this decision gave rise to massive protests among the SC, ST community, as a result of which the Parliamentary amendment was introduced.

The court thus settled its views in consonance with the Parliamentary amendment that aimed at nullifying the effects of the Kashinath Mahajan judgment of the SC which had diluted the provisions of the Act. Hon’ble judges held that the ‘Kashinath Mahajan directions placed an undue burden on SC/STs persons who had suffered a caste-based atrocity’. Whereas, J. Bhat delivered a concurring opinion warning that ‘a liberal use of the power to grant pre-arrest bail would defeat the intention of Parliament’.

Citation: MANU/SC/0300/2020

After extensive debate, the hon’ble bench concluded that Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will not lapse in a case where compensation has been deposited in the treasury. A 5-judge bench led by J. Arun Mishra provided clarifications for the ambiguities about the lapse of acquisition proceedings. It was held that the landowners cannot insist the deposition of amount in court in order to sustain the proceedings under the old act. Therefore, even if the state fails in depositing the compensation in a landowner’s account, it cannot account for a valid reason to lapse the proceedings going on under Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013. The court re-affirmed the views of 2018 Indore Development Authority Case and over-ruled the judgment of Pune Municipality Corporation case of 2014.

Citation: MANU/SC/0264/2020

Famously known as the cryptocurrency judgment, it is known for the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank of India on regulated entities dealing with virtual currencies.

The court validated the ‘ground of proportionality’ by setting aside the circular issued by RBI preventing regulated entities from providing banking services to those engaged in the trading or facilitating the trading in Virtual Currencies. The court observed that, ‘when the consistent stand of RBI is that they have not banned VCs and when the Government of India is unable to take a call despite several committees coming up with several proposals including two draft bills, both of which advocated exactly opposite positions, it is not possible for us to hold that the impugned measure is proportionate’.

The court also believed that the ‘lukewarm’ response of RBI in this regard was totally unjustified.

Citation: MANU/SC/0714/2020

The given case holds vital significance in the presidential history of judgments. The case has been divided into 14 parts and contains a highly detailed judgment that analysis every minute detail. It revolves around a notification issued by the Union Government under Section 8A of the Customs Tariff Act 1975 that introduced a tariff entry by which all goods originating in or exported from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were subjected to an enhanced customs duty of 200% in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack. The issue at hand was whether a notification issued by the Union Government (upon which the legislative power was delegated) can issue a retrospective order or not.

The court held that rate of duty which was applicable was crystallized at the time and on the date of the presentation of the bills of entry in terms of the provisions of Section 15 read with Regulation 4(2) of Regulations of 2018. Therefore, it cannot be altered at a later stage. The court examined section 15 (1)(a) which clarifies that ‘once the goods are entered for home consumption under section 46, the rate of duty is supposed to be the rate of duty in force on the date on which the Bill of Entry in respect of such goods is presented’.

Hence, in the scheme of the Customs Act, the Tariff Act and the 2018 Regulations, the time at which the notification under Section 8A is published would indeed have relevance.

Citation: MANU/SC/0908/2020

A very unique and Avant Garde judgment mandated installation of CCTV cameras in all police stations as well as other investigating agencies like NIA, CBI, NCB, etc. The hon’ble court ordered that in any circumstance that reflect human rights violations, the victim has a right to obtain a copy of CCTV footage of the interrogation and can approach the National/State Human Rights Commission for the same. The installation of CCTV has been mandated in any office that has the power to arrest and interrogate an individual.

Citation: MANU/SC/0448/2020

The petitioner (Arnab Goswami) alleged that a vindictive and malicious campaign was launched against him through social media by the states which owed their allegiance to the Indian National Congress. Multiple FIRs were lodged against the petitioner alleging that he was responsible for propagating views of communal nature. The Supreme Court defended the rights of a journalist by disallowing multiple complaints against him stating that it would hinder his freedom thereby quashing all identical FIRs except for the one lodged in Maharashtra.

However, the Supreme Court took a step back by refusing to interfere with the case by disallowing the plea to seek transfer to CBI probe by stating that, ‘Nothing contained in the present judgment shall be construed as an expression of opinion on the merits of the allegations contained in the FIRs’ and that ‘the transfer of an investigation to the CBI is not a matter of routine. The precedents of this Court emphasise that this is an extraordinary power to be used sparingly and in exceptional circumstances’. The court also stated that the accused has no right to determine the mode of investigation.

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