Top 35 Landmark Judgments of Supreme Court of India in 2020

1. Anuradha Bhasin v/s union of India 2020

Facts – The parliament withdrawal the special status for J&K by amending Article 370 of the constitution on 5th August 2019. In August 2019, the central government has temporary suspend all telecom services under the Telegraph Act, 1885. Here the plea was filed by foundation of media professional for restoration of High-speed internet in J&K. After this the administration opposed the restoration of 4G service in J&K Union territory. The court justifies its moves in the view of protection the integrity and security of the country.

Issue – Whether the Freedom of Speech and Expression and Freedom to practice any Profession, or to carry on any Occupation, Trade or Business over the Internet is a part of the Fundamental Rights under Part III of the Constitution? Whether there was a violation of Freedom of the Press? Whether the restrictions imposed were valid under Section 144 of CrPC?

Judgment – the 3 Bench Justice N. V. Ramana, Justice R. S. Reddy and Justice B. R. Gavai of supreme court of India ruled that an “Indefinite suspension of internet services is not permissible”. The SC asks J&K administration to review all Restrictive orders within a week. The court held that freedom of speech and expression and freedom of trade and commerce through the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article.19 (1) (a) and Article 19(1)(g) respectively. The court observed that indefinite suspension of internet is not permissible and that repeated orders under section.144 of crpc will amount to abuse of power.

2. Shilpa Mittal v/s State of NCT of Delhi and another 2020

Facts – one Juvenile (aged above 16 and below 18 years) was alleged to have committed a crime under Section 304 of IPC, where punishment can be of life imprisonment in one part or up to 10 years in second part. But Section does not prescribe minimum sentence. Juvenile justice board held him tribal as an adult for heinous crime, appeal was dismissed by Children’s Court, but HC of Delhi overturned the decision. Now appeal was filed by sister of deceased in SC. Section 2(33), 2(45) and 2(54) of the JJA respectively defines Heinous, Petty and Serious offences. Heinous offences are the offences for which punishment prescribed is minimum 7 years or more in IPC or any other act time being in force.

Issue – What is the meaning and interpretation of section 2(33) if Juvenile justice (care and protection of children) act, 2015? What is ambiguity created by the word “minimum” in the statue and how is it interpreted? How can a Juvenile be treated under a category of an offense, not in the statue but argued with appellant as a category to be included as an offence?

Judgment – The Supreme Court observed that an offence prescribing a maximum sentence of more than seven years. Imprisonment but not providing any minimum sentence or providing a minimum sentence of less than 7 years cannot be considered to be Heinous offences within the meaning of section.2(33) of the Juvenile justice (care and protection of children) act, 2015.

Invoking Article.142 of constitution the bench of Justice is the Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose held that the category of offenses where the maximum sentence is more than 7 years imprisonment, but no minimum sentence or minimum sentence of less than 7 years is provided shall be treated as ‘serious offence’ within the meaning of the act and dealt with accordingly till the Parliament takes the call on the matter.

3. The security ministry of defense v/s Babita Puniya and other.

Facts – For the first time in 1992, the Central government issued a notification allowing females to join certain cadres of the army like induction in Short Service Commission, Intelligence Corps, Corps of Signals, Regiment of Artillery, Army Service Corps, Education Corps, the Judge Advocate General’s Department, etc before that the roles were limited to medical, dental, and military nursing service. Women engaged in these services seek parity with the male officers in obtaining permanent commissions. In February 2003, Babita Puniya, an Advocate instituted a writ petition in the nature of a Public interest litigation before the Delhi High court for the grant of permanent commission to women SSC officers in the Army.

Apart from the public interest litigation, which was instituted before the high court of Delhi, a writ petition was filed by Major Leena Gurav on 16th October 2006 primarily to challenge the terms and conditions of service imposed by the circulars dated 20th July 2006 and for seeking the grant of permanent commission for women officers. Adjudicating writ petitions challenging this, the high court of Delhi held in 2010 that women, who had entered the Army on SSC, were entitled to permanent commission on par with their male colleagues. The Union of India appealed this decision to the Supreme Court. During the pendency of the hearing, it also proposed a separate policy for grant of Permanent commission to women, which nonetheless was limited to staff positions, imposed different standards, as well as only applying prospectively.

Issue – Whether the guideline by the government dated 15th February 2019 should be implemented? Whether women should be granted Permanent Commission in the Indian Army? What are the conditions governing the Women Officers in Army?

Judgment – The Supreme Court Bench as headed by J. Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud challenged the notion of the appellant i.e., the Union Government and stated that they are inveterate in deciding the gender roles for women. It is a clear violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. He said that although Article 33 of the Indian Constitution did allow for restrictions on Fundamental Rights in armed forces it is also clearly mentioned that it could be restricted only to the extent that it was necessary to ensure the proper discharge of duty and maintenance of discipline.

It was decided that policy decision taken by the union allowing the women officers in PCs through SSC are subject to some conditions:All the women officers presently on SSC service are eligible to PCs irrespective of any of them crossed fourteen years of service or, as the case may be, twenty years of service.The order given by the Delhi High Court is affirmed. All the choices of specialization shall be available to the women officers at the time of opting for the grant in PCs, on the same terms as their male counterparts.There are some expressions like in various staff appointments only, and on staff appointments only in the policy by the Government, these should not be enforced with respect to the Permanent Commission of women.

All the women officers who are eligible and granted Permanent Commission through SSC should be entitled to all consequential perks including pension, promotion, and financial incentives. The benefits of continuing in the service until the attainment of the pensionable service shall also apply to all the SSC women officers.  Finally, it is held that the necessary steps should be taken for the compliance of the court’s decision within three months of the judgment.

4. Internet and mobile association of India v/s Reserve Bank of India

Facts – In this RBI has issued a circular that prohibited Banks and other entities regulated by it from both dealing in virtual currency. The effect of the prohibition was exchange through which virtual currency were traded could no longer maintain and operate a bank account, thereby putting an end to the business of virtual currency trading that required conversion from fiat currencies using formal banking channels. RBI then issued its ban on banks dealing with crypto business bank in April 2018 when the order passed, which it took effect in July of that year. The RBI notification was then challenge before the Supreme court of India by the internet and mobile association of India. Pertinent, at the time the circular was issued, there was no legislative ban on the use and trading of virtual currencies in India and by that the RBI’s proscription, virtual currencies were ring-fenced from the formal economy.

Issue – does RBI have the power to prohibit the trading of virtual currencies? Is it necessary to issue directions based on the expression “public interest” appearing in a particular provision in a statue should take its color from the context of the statute? Can a decision to prohibit an article under Res Extra Commercial is a matter to be decided by legislation and not to be by an executive authority?

Judgment – The court was of the view that although the Reserve Bank of India has wide powers and does play an important role in the upliftment of the Indian economy, here they are unable to show any sought of damage suffered by its regulated entities. Therefore, the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India, directing the banks to stop dealing or providing services to the entities trading in virtual currencies are illegal hence unenforceable.

5. Prathvi Raj Chouhan v/s Union of India and other

Facts – In this case the constitutional validity of section 18-A of the scheduled caste and scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 was challenged by the petitioners. In March 2018, the Supreme Court in “Kashinath Mahajan” held that the Prevention of Atrocities Act was being misused and introduced safeguard to prevent this. Then in August, parliament in effect reversed the judgment by passing the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2018, which undid the safeguards introduced in Kashinath Mahajan are necessary because the PoA act is being wildly misused.

Issue – Whether section 18–A of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 is constitutionally valid? Whether bar on granting anticipatory bail is valid and whether it infringes the personal liberty of a person under Article 21 of Constitution?

Judgment – The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 that ruled out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs. Parliament had brought in an amendment to the Scheduled Cates and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act; SC/ST Act last year to nullify the effect of the Supreme Court’s judgment of March 2018, Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan vs. State of Maharashtra). This judgment had effectively diluted provisions of the Act. The amendment was later assailed before the Supreme Court.

6. Alembic Pharmaceuticals limited v/s Rohit Prajapati and another.

Facts – On 14th May 2002, the MoEF[1] issued a circular which allowed industries to get an EC after they had begun operations till 31st March 2003, thereby allowing ex post facto ECs. The circular also demanded that any defaulting units wishing to expand operations had to provide funds towards eco development or community development projects in India. The bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the Western Zone gave a verdict on 8th January 2016. It struck down the 2002 notification and ordered to shut down all the units operating without a valid EC. It also ordered for each unit to pay a sum of Rs. 10 Lakhs as compensation. Alembic Pharmaceuticals is the appellant in the lead appeal in the Supreme Court and it also owns two of the other industries that were before the NGT.

Issue – The main issue was identified, whether through the notice made on 14 May 2002, ex post facto environment clearances could be given. Whether the NGT had jurisdiction to strike down the circular dated 14th May 2002 that extended the time for getting an EC. Whether the EIA notification of 1994 requires the industries listed under Schedule I to get an EC “prior” to commencement of operations. Whether three industries came under the exception (8) of the Explanatory Note for the EIA notification of 1994.  What are the consequences that the three industries will have to face for not complying with the EIC notification of 1994?

Judgment – for this the court relied on the case of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board v. Satellite Industries Ltd. It was found that NGTs did not have the power to strike down regulations that are created under the Environment Protection Act (EPA) 1986. The court was view that the circular was administrative circular and not one formulated under section 3(1) of the EPA – power Central Government to take measures to protect and improve environment. Hence there was no jurisdiction bar on NGT to check the legitimacy of the circular.

The court came to conclusion that the circular required a mandatory prior environmental clearance from the industries before they start to function even of the word “prior” was not used but the use of word ‘shall not be undertaken unless’ indicate the requirement of a prior Environment clearance thus the impugned circular was contrary to the 1994 circular. Court also noted that environmental clearances should not be seen as a hindrance to economic development but a measure to achieve inters- generational equity. The Supreme Court ordered the three industries to pay a sum of Rs. 10 Cores each to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and it reversed the prior order of the NGT that mandated the shutdown of the industries because several people had been employed by them and a lot of investments had been made for their expansions.

7. Indore Development Authority v/s Manoharlal and others (2020)

Facts – the main issue of the case was the land Acquisition act, 1894 was repel under Act, 2013, the Act 2013 about up the Right to fair compensation and transparency and Acquisitions and resettlement act 2013. As per Section 24(2) of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act so as to save the proceedings taken under the 1894 Land Acquisition Act from being lapsed. Or the compensation has not been paid the said proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed and the appropriated government, if it so chooses, shall initiate the proceeding of such land acquisition a fresh in accordance with the provision of this act. In a landmark ruling the 5-judge bench of Arun Mishra, India Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and Ravindra Bhat was there. Here, they only focused on how to interpret the issue, “either or” or “either nor”.

Issue – Whether the word “or” in Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 used in between possession has not been taken or compensation has not been paid to be read as “and”? Whether proviso to Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 has to be construed as part thereof or proviso to Section 24(1)(b)? What meaning is to be given to the word “paid” used in Section 24(2) and “deposited” used in the proviso to Section 24(2)? What are the consequences of payment not made? What are the consequences of the amount not deposited? What is the effect of a person refusing to accept the compensation?

Judgment – In a significant judgment, the top court held that land acquisition under the earlier law of 1894 will be deemed to have lapsed only when government authorities fail to take possession and pay compensation in the treasury. The Bench held that the compensation need not be deposited in the court. Once the compensation amount is tendered by the State in the government treasury, its obligation will stand complete with respect to the payment of compensation. In such a scenario, landowners, who had refused to accept the compensation under the earlier Act, cannot now take advantage of the deemed lapse of acquisition under Section 24 of the new Act of 2013. Further, the Court overruled all the previous precedents in this regard.

8. Kantaru Rajeevaru v. Indian Young Lawyers Association Thr.  It’s General Secretary Ms. Bhakti Pasija & Other (2020)

Facts – in this case there was nine judges that are SA Bobde CJ, R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, Mohan M Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant.  Basically, the Supreme Court refers questions of law to larger Bench when exercising review jurisdiction.

Judgment – The nine-judge Bench hearing the Sabarimala reference held that the Supreme Court could refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its review jurisdiction. The Court also framed seven questions which are related to Article 25 and 26 which will now be heard and decided by the nine-judge Bench.

9. Dr. Shah Faesal & Other v.  Union of India & Others.

Facts – the main issue was talked under Article 370 reference to larger Bench denied.  Here in this case five judges were there, that are Ramana, Sanjay Krishna Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai, and Surya Kant.

Judgment – The 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 issued on August 5-6, 2020 to repeal the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

10. New India Assurance v/s Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Pvt. Ltd. 2020. SC 287

Facts – There were five justice bench Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and S Ravindra Bhat. They discuss that the Consumer Forum has which has no jurisdiction to extend time beyond 45 days for opposite party’s version.

Judgment – The Court held that the District Forum has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the complaint beyond the period of 15 days in addition to 30 days as is envisaged under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act. It further held that the commencing point of limitation of 30 days under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act would be from the date of receipt of the notice accompanied with the complaint by the opposite party, and not the mere receipt of the notice of the complaint.

11. Pravakar Mallick & Another v/s State of Orissa (2020)

Facts – In April 2020, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case Mallick, ruled upon the Civil Appeal filed by the Appellants aggrieved by the Order of the Orissa High Court in a writ petition regarding reservation in promotions. The central issue was the validity of a Government Order altering the gradation list whereby the SC/ST candidates were given seniority against the General category officers in promotions.

Judgment – The Court followed the law laid down in M Nagaraj v. Union of India and reiterated that the State is not bound to make reservations for SCs/STs in matters of promotion. However, if they wish to do so, they have to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment, keeping in mind maintenance of efficiency, as indicated by Article 335 of the Constitution of India.

12. S Kasi v/s State through Inspector of Police

Facts – The appeal has been filled questioning the judgment of Madurai bench of Madras High Court by which judgment the bail application of the appellant has been dismissed. The accused was arrested and lodged in central prison, Trichy under section 457, 380,457(2), 380(2, 411(2) and 414(2) of IPC.

Issue – whether due to non-submission of charge sheet within the prescribed period by the prosecution was entitled for grant of bail as per section 167(2) of code of criminal procedure. Judgment – The Court held that its Suo Motu order extending limitation and the lockdown restrictions of the government will not affect the right of an accused to seek default bail under Section 167(2) of the CrPC. While granting default bail to the accused, the Supreme Court set aside the view of the Single Judge of the High Court that the lockdown restrictions should not give a right to an accused to pray for grant of default bail even though charge sheet has not been filed within the time prescribed under Section 167(2) of the CrPC.

13. Dheeraj Mor v/s Hon’ble High Court of Delhi

Facts – it was three judge benches of Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat in this the main issues was raised in these petitions pertain to the interpretation of Article 233 of the Constitution of India in the matter of appointment of District Judges by way of direct recruitment.

Judgment – The Court ruled that judicial officers cannot be appointed as district judges through direct recruitment under the quota reserved for members of the Bar.

Under Article 233, a judicial officer, regardless of her or his previous experience as an advocate with seven years’ practice cannot apply and compete for appointment to any vacancy in the post of District Judge. His or her chance to occupy that post would be through promotion, in accordance with Rules framed under Article 234 and proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of India.

14. Keisham Meghachandra v/s The Hon’ble Speaker Manipur Legislative Assembly & Others 2020 SC 55

Facts- The bench comprising of Justice R.F. Nariman, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice V. Ramasurbramanian passed a judgment of the case were that the election for the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly was conducted in March 2017. The said Assembly election produced an inconclusive result as none of the political parties were able to secure a majority i.e. 31 seats in the Legislative Assembly of 60 seats in order to form the Government. Thirteen applications for the disqualification of respondent were filed before the Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly stating that Respondent was disqualified under paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule.

Judgment – The Supreme Court urged Parliament to have a rethink on whether a Speaker ought to decide on disqualification petitions filed under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India. The top court, taking note of apprehensions of the Speaker acting in a partisan manner due to political loyalties, suggested that the Parliament should amend the Constitution to provide for an independent mechanism, such as a permanent tribunal headed by retired judges, to decide disputes under Tenth Schedule. The Court also held that the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly should decide on a petition seeking disqualification of a member under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution within a period of three months, in the absence of exceptional reasons.

15. Centre for Public Interest Litigation v/s Union of India. 2020

Facts – the prevention and mitigation effects of disasters and for undertaking a holistic, coordinated and prompt response to any disaster situation it has been decided by the Government to enact a law on disaster management to provide for requisite institutional mechanisms for drawing up and monitoring the implementation of the disaster management plans, ensuring measures by various wings of Government. To achieve this objective the Disaster Management Bill was introduced in the Parliament.

Judgment – The Court, while refusing to direct transfer of PM-CARES funds to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), held that there is no statutory prohibition preventing the Union of India from utilizing the NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 in accordance with the guidelines issued for administration of NDRF. The Court further held that there is no statutory prohibition on making any contribution by any person or institution in the NDRF as per Section 46(1) (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

16. Vineeta Sharma v/s Rakesh Sharma & Others.

Facts – Amended section 6 conferred full coparcenaries rights to the daughters as same as that of sons. The amendment act was enacted on 9 November 2005.But the section 6(1(a)) conferred coparcenaries rights on daughters by birth. So, the question arose will a daughter born before 2005 will get the coparcenaries rights or not. Other associated question was whether the daughter and father both need to be alive on 9 November 2005 to effectuate the provisions of the amended section or not.

Issue – Whether the father coparcener should be living as on 9 November 2005? Whether a daughter born before 9 November 2005 can claim equal rights and liabilities in coparcenaries as that of a son? Whether the statutory fiction of partition created by proviso to section 6 of the hind succession act, 1956 as originally enacted bring about the actual partition or disruption of coparcenary’s? Whether a plea of oral partition after 20 December 2004 can be accepted as the statutory recognized mode of partition?

Judgment – The Court held that daughters have right in coparcenaries by birth and that it is not necessary that the father should be living when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into force for the daughters to get a share. The judgment states “The conferral of right is by birth, and the rights are given in the same manner with incidents of coparcener as that of a son and she is treated as a coparcener in the same manner with the same rights as if she had been a son at the time of birth.” To ensure that this decision does not lead to reopening of earlier family settlements or partition suits already decreed, the apex court held that a registered settlement or partition suit decreed prior to December 20, 2004 (the date when the Amendment Bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha), will not be reopened.

17. In re Prashant Bhushan & Another. 2020 SC 698

Facts – The contemnor, Prashant Bhushan, is a senior advocate with more than three decades of experience pursuing public interest litigation in several high-profile cases. On July 22, 2020, a petition was filed against him and Twitter Inc. before the Supreme Court of India, bringing to the Court’s notice two tweets published by Prashant Bhushan. The alleged tweets, made against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the Supreme Court, highlighted a declining trend of the independence of the judiciary and the Court’s role in protecting Indian democracy.

Judgment – The Supreme Court found Advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his tweets criticizing Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. Bhushan had posted a tweet on June 29 with a photo of CJI Bobde sitting on a motorbike. The tweet said: “chief justice of India rides a 50 Lakhs motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!” Earlier, Bhushan had posted another tweet which read: “When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last four chief justice of India. “The Court held; “The scurrilous allegations, which are malicious in nature and have the tendency to scandalize the Court are not expected from a person, who is a lawyer of 30 years standing. In our considered view, it cannot be said that the above tweets can be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary, made bona fide in the public interest.” The Court further directed him to pay Re. 1 as fine.

18. S Vanitha v/s Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban District

Facts – The spouse of the appellant purchased a property in his own name a few months before the marriage. The appellant instituted proceedings of harassment for dowry against her husband and mother-in-law. While the said proceedings were pending, the in-laws of the appellant filed an application seeking to evict their daughter-in-law from their residential in-law’s house under the Senior Citizens Act 2007. The appellant filed a writ proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution. Further, the appellant moved to the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India challenging the jurisdiction of The Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner to decree her eviction under Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

Issue – Whether the claim of the appellant(wife) that the premises constituted a shared household within the meaning of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDV) which can be defeated by securing an order of eviction under the Senior Citizen Act, 2007?

Judgment – The Supreme Court has held that the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act have no overriding effect over the right of residence of a woman in a shared household within the meaning of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. It was also stated that the Tribunal under the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 may have the authority to order an eviction if it is necessary and expedient to ensure the maintenance and protection of the senior citizen or parent. However, the over-riding effect for remedies sought under the Senior Citizens Act 2007, cannot be interpreted to preclude all other competing remedies and protections that are sought to be conferred by the Domestic Violence Act 2005.

19. Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi

Facts – In this writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner Pawan Kumar Gupta has challenged rejection of mercy petition by His Excellency the President of India inter alia on various grounds; that settled principles of consideration of mercy petition have not been followed. The contention of the petitioner is that the petitioner’s plea of juvenility has not been finally determined and this aspect was not kept in view by His Excellency the President of India. The he filled a mercy petition on 2nd March and same was rejected by His Excellency the President of India on 4th March 2020 and he raised various grounds. Here it was six justice benches NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, Rohinton Fali Nariman, R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, and AS Bopanna.  Basically, this case linked to Curative petition and stay on execution of 2012 Delhi gang rape convict dismissed.

Judgment – The Court dismissed the curative petition of a death row convict in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case and orally rejected the application for stay on execution. Later, on March 20 in a midnight hearing, the Court dismissed the final plea against rejection of mercy petition of the convicts by the President of India. Afterwards, at 5:30 am on the morning of March 20, the four convicts were hanged to death at Tihar Jail.

20. Mukesh Singh v. State (Narcotic Branch of Delhi)

Facts – A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the case was subsequently placed before the instant Constitution Bench for determination.

Issue – Whether an investigation under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (Hereinafter, NDPS Act) will get vitiated merely on the ground of apprehension of bias when the informant is the investigating officer?

Judgment – The Constitution Bench held that the accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) is not entitled to an acquittal as a blanket rule merely because the complainant is the investigating officer. The Court said, “Merely because the informant is the investigator, by that itself the investigation would not suffer the vice of unfairness or bias and therefore on the sole ground that informant is the investigator, the accused is not entitled to acquittal. The matter has to be decided on a case-to-case basis.”

21. Mukesh Kumar v. The State of Uttrakhand 2020

Facts – The state government of Uttrakhand on 5th September 2012 made a decision that all posts in public services in the state shall be filled up without providing any reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotion for the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in the Public Works Department, Government of Uttrakhand. A petition was filed before the High Court which struck down the proceeding made by the state government. However, the High Court realized flaws in its judgment on the review and modified that the State was obligated to collect quantifiable data regarding the inadequacy of representation of the SC and ST in public services and directed the state government to decide based on the data. The Hon’ble Supreme court included a group of apples with the same subject matter and decided to dispose them all together. 

Issue – Whether the state government is bound to give reservations to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribes? Is it applicable to reservation for those classes in promotion also? Whether the right to claim reservation is a fundamental right? Whether the decision by the state government not to provide reservation can be only on the basis of quantifiable data relating to the adequacy of representation?

Judgment – Justice L. Nageswara Rao pronounced​​ that reservation in promotions in public positions is not a fundamental right and States cannot be compelled to provide reservation in appointments and reservations of public posts. Article 16(4) of the Constitution gives a discretionary power to the state government to allow reservation to the people who are not adequately​​ represented in services in such appointments; it is not a mandate on the State, and it cannot be claimed as a matter of right.

22. Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao & others v. State of A.P. & Others 2020

Facts: On November 25, 1949, Dr. B.R Ambedkar, chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constitution sounded a grave warning in the Constituent Assembly: On January 26, 1950, we will have equality in politics and inequality in social and economic life. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up. To guard against such an explosion of discontent, the Preamble of the Constitution clearly spells out the objectives of securing to all its citizens JUSTICE, social, economic and political as well as EQUALITY of status and of this case the Government order providing 100% reservation for tribal teachers in Scheduled Areas unconstitutional. Here, there was 5 bench judges, justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose.

Issues: What is the scope of paragraph 5(1), Schedule V to the Constitution of India?

  1. Does the provision empower the Governor to make a new law?
  2. Does the power extend to subordinate legislation?
  3. Can the exercise of the power conferred therein override fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III?
  4. Does the exercise of such power override any parallel exercise of power by the President under Article 371D?

Whether 100 percent reservation is permissible under the Constitution? Whether the notification merely contemplates a classification under Article 16(1) and not reservation under Article 16(4)?

Whether the conditions of eligibility, origin and cut-off date to avail the benefit of reservation in the notification are reasonable?

Judgment: The Court held that the Government Order dated January 10, 2000 issued by the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh providing 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribe candidates in posts of teachers in schools located in scheduled areas is unconstitutional. Further, the Court also concluded that that there was no rhyme or reason for the State government to resort to 100% reservation.

23. Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association & other v. Union of India & other 2020 SC. 699

Facts: recently, the Supreme Court in Tamil Nadu Medical officer’s association v. union of India 2018 case has allowed ‘the states’ to grant reservation of seats to in-service doctors in NEET post Graduate degree courses. In the year 2000, the MCI brought the postgraduate Medical Education Regulation, 2000. The regulation did not allow any reservation for in service doctors in PG courses. It did allow 50% seats in PG diploma courses for medical officers in the government service but barred any reservation PG degree courses. The challenge was that a plea was filed by doctors from Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Haryana who said granting reservation benefits to in serviced doctors would encourage those working encourages hospitals and in rural areas.

Issues: whether the state can provide reservation to in service candidates in Post Graduate Medical courses. Whether the medical council of India has the power to make any provision for in service medical officers in respect of post graduate medical courses in medical colleges.

Judgment: thefive-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose. The Constitution Bench held that the Medical Council of India (MCI) has no power to make any reservation for in-service candidates in postgraduate medical courses in states and that only state are allowed to grant the benefit of reservation of seats to in-service doctors in the NEET PG courses.

24. Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union of India & other

Facts – A notification was provided by the medical council of India and DCI dental council of India that from now onwards the candidates will be selected through a centralized national entrance examination known as National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). This notification was totally based on the ‘section 10D of the Act of 1956’. This entrance was for the MBBS Course and the Post-graduate Course and for BDS and MDS. This provision was challenged in the court by saying that the fundamental rights assured under article 19 (1) (g), 25, 26, 29 (1), and 30 of the Constitution of India. Also, it was said that the unaided minority professional colleges have the right to conduct their own examination for the selection of candidates. The power of the state was also challenged by saying that the state has no power to impel every minority colleges to adopt a centralized national entrance examination.

Issues – Whether by providing centralized examination system NEET for admission to MBBS, PG, BDS and MDS by the integrity of the provisions made in the Act and Regulations, there is a contravention of the fundamental rights assured under Article 19(1) (g), 25, 26, 29(1) and 30 of the constitution of India.

Judgment – the three-judge benchArun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah. The Court re-stated principles governing minority educational institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution, noting that the right conferred on religious and linguistic minorities to administer educational institutions of their choice is not an “absolute right “and is not free of “regulation” from the State. It was further stated that Article 30 does not prevent the State from imposing reasonable regulations to make administration of minority institutions transparent.The Court, therefore, ruled that there is no fundamental right violation in making NEET applicable to private minority unaided professional institutes for admission into MBBS, MD, BDS and MDS courses.

25. Foundation for media Professional V. UT of J&K 2020

Facts – on August 2019, internet was suspended in the entire J&K, under which telecom service (public emergency or public safety) Rules 2017. The petition was filed by the Foundation of Media Professionals before the Supreme Court of India for restoration of the 4G Internet Services in the valley, in lieu of the present Covid-19 Crisis. The petitioner applied his Claim on the basis of Human Rights whereas Government justified its claim on the basis of National Security and militancy operations. The petitioner alleged that the restriction of internet to 2G especially amid coronavirus pandemic and nationwide lockdown violates their Right to information. It was also alleged that this restriction violated the Supreme Court guidelines provided in the Judgement, Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India[2]. Furthermore, it was claimed that the government has failed to provide a rational nexus between internet and terrorism.

Issue – Whether the restriction of Internet is violative of Fundamental Rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir?Whether the restriction is justified?Whether there is a nexus between terrorism and internet, and will the restriction of Internet curtails the spread of terrorism? Whether restriction on speed of Internet will stop online circulation of terror provoking material?

Judgment – justice NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai. The Court directed the constitution of a Special Committee comprising Secretaries of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Chief Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir to examine contentions raised in pleas seeking restoration of 4G internet in the region.

26.  Amit Sahni V. Commissioner of Police 2020

Facts – The ‘Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019’ was enacted by the Legislature, which has its supporters and opponents. The Legislature performed its task. A section of the society, aggrieved by this legislative amendment, has filed petitions before this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, assailing the constitutionality and legality of this amendment, which is pending consideration. There is no stay of the legislation for the purpose of record.

There have been protests against this legislation in Delhi and in different parts of the country. The Supreme Court noted in its order dated 17 February,2020 that despite the law facing a constitutional challenge before this Court, that by itself will not take away the right to protest of the persons who feel aggrieved by the legislation. However, it was noted that the question was where and how the protest can be carried on, without public ways being affected.

The Protestors had adopted a method of protest which resulted in the closure of the Kalindi Kunj- Shaheen Bagh stretch, including the Okhla underpass from 15 December, 2019. Basically on this case Shaheen Bagh Protest on public spaces cannot be occupied in indefinitely for expressing dissent.

Judgment – 3 bench SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari. The Court ruled that democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case involved a blockade of a public road 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”, the Court held. While acknowledging that India as we know it today is a result of the protests during the freedom struggle, the Court stated that the mode and manner of dissent against the colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a self-ruled democracy.

27. Skill Lotto Solutions V. Union of India

Facts – The petitioner, an authorized the agent, for sale and distribution of lotteries organized by the State of Punjab has filed this writ petition impugning the definition of goods under Section 2(52) of Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 and consequential notifications to the extent it levies a tax on lotteries. The petitioner seeks a declaration that the levy of tax on the lottery is discriminatory and violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(g), 301, and 304 of the Constitution of India.

Issues –

Judgment – Justice Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah. The Court upheld the imposition of Goods and Service Tax (GST) on sale of lotteries, holding that the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 and the notifications issued under the same bringing lottery and gambling under GST net are valid. The Court opined that the definition of “goods” under Article 366(12) of the Constitution is inclusive and there is no intention to give any restrictive meaning to “goods”.

28. Rhea Chakraborty V. State of Bihar and others

Facts – The Supreme Court transfer petition which filed under section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 read with Order 39 of the Supreme Court rules, 2013 with a prayer for transfer of FIR under Sections 341, 342, 380, 406, 420, 306, 506, and 120B of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 registered at the Rajeev Nagar police Station, Patna and all the consequential proceedings from the jurisdiction of the Additional Chief Justice Magistrate III Patna Sadar to the Additional Chief metropolitan magistrate Bandra Mumbai.

Issue – Whether this Court has the power to transfer investigation under Section 406 of the CrPC. Whether it was within the jurisdiction of the Patna Police to register the FIR and start the investigation of the alleged incidents which took place in Mumbai? As a friendly way, what is the status of the investigation by the CBI in the consent given by the Bihar government. Whether the proceedings under section 174 CrPC conducted by Mumbai police to investigate into unnatural death, can be termed as the investigation. What is the scope of the power of a single judge exercising jurisdiction under section 406 of the CrPC and whether this court can issue directions for doing complete justice, in the exercise of unlimited power?

Judgment – While invoking the plenary jurisdiction under Article 142, the Supreme Court upheld the FIR registered by the Bihar Police and asked Maharashtra Police to hand over the evidence and assist the CBI in the case relating to death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

29. Fertico Marketing and Investment Pvt. Ltd. V. central Bureau of Investigation 2020 SC938

Facts – In this casea joint surprise raid was conducted by the CBI in factory premises of Fertico Marketing and Investment Private Limited and it was found that the coal purchased under the FSA was sold in the black market. It was further found by CBI that this was done in connivance with the unknown government officials which led to loss of Rs.36.28 crore to the Central Government. Hence, an FIR was registered by CBI for the offences punishable under Sections 120B and 420 of the IPC and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Anil Kumar Agarwal, Director of said company and unknown officials of the District Industries Centre (DIC), Chandauli.

During the course of investigation, it was found that two officers namely Ram Ji Singh, then General Manager, DIC, Chandauli and Yogendra Nath Pandey, Assistant Manager, DIC, Chandauli were also part of the conspiracy. Investigation revealed that these two officials had abused their official positions and fraudulently and dishonestly sent false status reports regarding working conditions of the accused companies and thereby, dishonestly induced the Northern Coalfields Limited to supply coal on subsidized rates, for obtaining pecuniary advantage.

Judgment – justice AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai[3] held that not obtaining prior consent of the State government under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DPSE Act) would not vitiate the investigation unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about miscarriage of justice or caused prejudice to the accused.

30. Paramvir Singh Saini V. Baljit Singh

Facts – In thiscase the supreme court ordered that the installation within six months, for CCTVs in every police station. This has been hailed as a much-awaited reform. However, the euphoria is slated to be short-lived as enough loopholes are still left in the system, which unethical police officials can exploit, to continue their nefarious practices.

Issues – whether victim of human rights violations by police/ NIC/ CBI/ ED have the right to access CCTV footage of interrogation?

Judgment – The Three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India comprising of Justices R.F. Nariman, K.M. Joseph and Aniruddha Bose passed a Judgment that the Court directed all the States and UTs to install CCTV cameras in all police stations and file compliance affidavits within six weeks. The top court also directed the Central government to install CCTV cameras at the offices of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and any other central agency office where interrogation of people is carried out. The apex court in its judgment also mandated that CCTV systems so installed “must be equipped with night vision and must necessarily consist of audio as well as video footage.”

31. Aishwarya Atul Pusalkar V. Maharashtra Housing development Authority and others

Facts – In the original petition the appellant wanted to be raised in her matrimonial home and she was subjected to the Domestic Violence. The redevelopment occupiers. Appellant stated that section 79 of the act of 1976 which deals with the provision for rehabilitation of dishonored occupiers. Appellant stated that section 177 of the 1976; civil court won’t be adjudicated with dispute arising out of the said act. Dispute raised by her does not arise out of any provision of the act 1976 of the act. Even though she was disowned as an occupier, applying the provision of the act, claim of her rehousing is based on her status of wife of the respondent. Such claim to be adjudicated upon civil or family court. Such right cannot be diffused with the right of her husband in family property of whose part is on the name of husband. 

 Issue – Whether any relief can be granted to the appellant in this appeal?

Judgment – It was stated that a wife’s right to reside in her matrimonial home does not flow from the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Act 1976. Therefore, it cannot be enforced against the builder or development authority. In the instant case, the Court was deciding an appeal filed by a woman, seeking right to reside in the homes allotted to her husband under the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Act 1976.

32. Imperia structures V. Anil Patni 2020

Facts – A Housing Scheme Project was launched by the Appellant in 2011 and all the original Complainants booked their respective apartments by paying the booking amounts and thereafter each of them executed Builder Buyer Agreement with the Appellant. The Respondents booked an apartment whose basic price was Rs.56,01,750 to which additional charges such as preferential location charges for “corner” ‘park facing’ and for “higher floor” as well as charges for reserve parking, club membership and development were added, which made the aggregate price Rs.76,43,000. The Agreement dated 30th November 2013 dealt with “delay due to reasons beyond the control of the Developer/Company” and “failure to deliver possession due to Government Rules, Orders, Notifications, etc.” respectively. On March 2016, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA Act) came into force. Over a period of time the Respondents had paid Rs.63, 53,625 out of the agreed sum. However, even after four years there were no signs of the Project getting completed.

Judgment – The Court held that the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) does not bar the initiation of proceedings by allotters 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”, the Court held.

33. Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora & Others

Facts – This contempt petition outlines the important issues related to criminalization of politics and further brings to our notice a disregard of the directions issued by the Constitutional Bench in the case of Public Interest Foundation & others. v. Union of India & another. This case also known as Electoral Disqualification Case. The instant petition was brought by a BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay and an NGO named ‘Public interest foundation’ in order to seek directions of the Supreme Court of India involving the criminalization of politics and prohibiting the criminals from contesting election and getting elected as Member of Parliament.   

Issue – The main issue raised in the instant case is that whether the court by making new laws can disqualify the membership of Parliament exceeding Article 102 (a) to Article 102 (e)?

Judgment – The two Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of IndiaRohinton Fali Nariman and S Ravindra Bhatheld that the Court directed political parties to upload details of criminal backgrounds of candidates in Lok Sabha and state assembly polls on their official websites as well as in newspapers and on social media within 48 hours of selection of the candidate or within two weeks of nomination, whichever is earlier. The details of criminal antecedents of candidates should include the nature of the crime, whether charges have been framed etc.

34. Rakesh Vaishnav and others V. Union of India

Facts – On this case it came up before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and vide Order dated 12 January 2021, reported as 2021 SC 15, the Hon’ble Court made some very pertinent observations in relation to the farmers’ agitation and the three farm laws recently passed by the Parliament of India.

Judgment – The 3-judge bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian examined the constitutional validity of three farm bills. The Government of India passed three farm bills on 27 September 2020. According to the government, the new farm laws will provide various kinds of facilities to the farmers like selling their produce outside the Mandi and engaging in contract farming. On the other side, farmers have criticized the three farm laws passed by the government and they protested against the implementation of the three farm laws. The Supreme Court on 12 January 2021 stayed the implementation on the farm laws until further orders. The Court set up a four-member committee to resolve the issue between the farmers and the government comes to a conclusion that the main aim of this committee is to analyze the laws and communicate with all the stakeholders.

35. Arnab Ranjan Goswami V. Union of India and others.

Facts – the Supreme Court moved the case under Article 32(1) seeking an order for quashing more than 16 FIRs filed against him for allegedly making defamatory and communal statements on his show. In a rather odd decision, the Apex Court has granted a 3-week relief to Goswami from any coercive action being taken against him to provide him with an opportunity to seek anticipatory bail and to amend the petition to include a prayer for consolidation for all FIRs into a single one. The court has also put a stay on proceedings related to all FIRs except one.

Issue – Whether the views of the petitioner here as a journalist fall within the protective ambit of Article 19(1) (a)? Whether the accused have the right to get the case transferred to the authority of its choice? Whether the courts consolidate or quash the different FIRs regarding the same cause while exercising its power under Article 32?

Judgment – the judges raised serious concerns about deprivation of personal liberty in this case. After considering the FIR against him and observing that, it was difficult to see how the offence of abetment of suicide under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code could be made out in a commercial dispute. Justice DIY Chandrachud, hearing the matter on his birthday and delivered several strong comments during the course of the hearing. After hearing from Goswami’s lawyer Harish Salve, he questioned Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Maharashtra authorities, on the basis of the case and observed that the court couldn’t stand by when personal liberty was threatened. Justice Chandrachud had some strong words for the decision of the Bombay High court, which he felt had not focused on the main issue. He said that “we need to send a message to the high court as well, to exercise their jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty”. “In case after, high courts are denying personal liberty”. Justice Chandrachud also appeared to criticize the approach of the Maharashtra government in this case; it noted that government must ignore what’s on a TV channel, as tries ‘is not the basis on which elections are fought”. Goswami has argued that he is being targeted by the Uddhav Thackeray government for his criticism of it.  

After this all the court granted a bail on some condition it is called Interim Bail. It can be extended and if the period of interim bail gets over and the accused person does not prays before the court, then the liberty granted under the interim bail is cancelled and the accused person be taken into custody.  

Author: Antara Kumari (Alliance School of Law)

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