Best Of 2016: Read 25 Significant Judgments Of Supreme Court of India in 2016
In 2016, the Supreme Court has pronounced over thousand judgments, and it is pleasure to announce the Live Law has reported most of it. While all of them are significant, as it comes from the Apex court of the country whose rulings have a force of law, some are more significant in view of the subject it dealt with and also the law it laid down. Following is a list of such 25 significant judgments of the year 2016. The list features judgments like the one which upheld constitutionality of the criminal defamation law, that which made it mandatory to make FIRs available online, and also touching Cauvery dispute and the NEET entrance test.
- Upload FIRs in Police Websites [Youth Bar Association of India vs.Union of India] The Supreme Court directed that the copies of the FIRs, unless the offence is sensitive in nature, like sexual offences, offences pertaining to insurgency, terrorism and of that category, offences under POCSO Act and such other offences, should be uploaded on the police website, and if there is no such website, on the official website of the State Government, within twenty-four hours of the registration of the First Information Report so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file appropriate application before the Court as per law for redressal of his grievances. The Bench clarified that in case there is connectivity problems due to geographical location or there is some other unavoidable difficulty, the time can be extended up to forty-eight hours. The said 48 hours can be extended maximum up to 72 hours and it is only relatable to connectivity problems due to geographical location.
- Criminal Defamation law not unconstitutional [Subramanian Swamy vs. Union of India]. The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional Validity of Sections 499 to 502[[Chapter XXI]] of Indian Penal Code relating to Criminal Defamation. The Bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and PC.Pant held that the right to Life under Article 21 includes right to reputation. The Bench has dismissed the Petitions filed by Subramanian Swamy, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal challenging the law relating to Criminal Defamation in India.
- Multiple Life Sentences will run concurrently, Remission of one will not affect the other [Muthuramalingam vs. state]Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India held that while multiple sentences for imprisonment for life can be awarded for multiple murders or other offences punishable with imprisonment for life, the life sentences so awarded cannot be directed to run consecutively. The Bench further clarified that such sentences would, however, be super imposed over each other so that any remission or commutation granted by the competent authority in one does not ipso facto result in remission of the sentence awarded to the prisoner for the other.The Bench also corrected the wrong interpretation given to Section 31(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure Code, by holding that the cap of 14 years Rule on aggregate punishment is not applicable to Sessions Court.
- Entry Tax on Goods constitutional [Jindal Stainless Ltd. vs. State of Haryana] Nine Judge Constitution Bench upheld the constitutional validity of Entry Tax imposed by States on goods coming in from other states. The Bench also directed the three Judge Bench to decide whether the States’ entry tax laws on the basis of Guidelines issued by this Bench.
- SC can transfer cases from Jammu & Kashmir Courts to courts outside it and vice versa [Anita Kushwaha vs. Pushpa Sudan]
The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that Supreme Court can, by invoking Article 32, 136 and 142 of the Constitution is empowered to transfer a case from a Court in the State of Jammu and Kashmir to a Court outside the State or vice versa. The five Judges Bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dr. T.S. Thakur, Justices Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, A.K. Sikri, S.A. Bobde, and R. Banumathi further made an important observation that Access to Justice is guaranteed to citizens by Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
- DV Act; Relief Possible Against Minors, Women [ Hiral P Harsora and ors Vs. Kusum Narottamdas Harsora]Supreme Court struck down the words “adult male” before the word “person” in Section 2(q) of Domestic Violence Act holding that these words discriminate between persons similarly situated, and is contrary to the object sought to be achieved by the Domestic Violence Act.
- Forcing Husband To Get Separated From His Parents, Amounts To ’Cruelty’ [Narendra vs. K.Meena] The Supreme Court of India held that persistent effort of the wife to constrain her husband to be separated from the family constitutes an act of ‘cruelty’ to grant divorce.
- Directions to Curb Female Foeticide [Voluntary Health Association Vs State of Punjab] Supreme Court issued additional directions to curb female foeticide by effective implementation of the ‘The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994’.
- Persons in Govt/Judicial service need not resign to participate in District Judge Selection Process [ Vijay Kumar Mishra and Anr Vs High court of Judicature at Patna To and Ors] The Apex Court held that Article 233(2) of the Constitution of India only prohibits the appointment of a person as District Judge, who is already in the service of the Union or the State, but not the selection of such a person. The Court set aside the Patna High Court judgment which had required the aspirant to resign his membership of the subordinate judicial service if he aspires to become a District judge.
- All Tribunals are not necessary parties to the proceedings where legality of its orders challenged [ S. Kazi vs. Muslim education society] The Supreme Court held that all Tribunals are not necessary parties in a Special Civil Applications under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, when they are not required to defend its orders when they are challenged before the High Court.
- Public Service Commission shall provide Information about answer sheets and Marks under RTI [Kerala Public Service Commission vs State Information Commission]. The Supreme Court observed that the request of the information seeker about the information of his answer sheets and details of the interview marks can be and should be provided to him by Public Service Commission under Right to Information Act. It is also observed that since there is a fiduciary relationship between the PSC and the Examiners, any information about the examiners is not liable to be disclosed.
- Social Security to the Legal Profession Becomes an Essential Part of Legal System[Cardamom Marketing Corporation & Anr. Vs. State Of Kerala & Ors] The Supreme Court observed that providing social security to the legal profession becomes an essential part of any legal system which has to be effective, efficient and robust to enable it to provide necessary service to the consumers of justice. The Court upheld levy of additional court fee in respect of each appeal or revision before the tribunals and appellate authorities by or under special or local law, at the rate of 0.5% of the amount involved in the dispute in cases, where it is capable of valuation, and at the rate of ₹50 in other.
- Landmark guidelines for disaster /drought management. [Swaraj Abhiyan vs. UoI] A two judge bench of the Supreme Court of India issued landmark guidelines for disaster /drought management.The writ petition was filed by Swaraj Abhiyan in the backdrop of a declaration of drought in some districts or parts thereof in nine States that is Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
- People with disabilities also have the Right to Live with Dignity [Jeeja Ghosh vs. UoI] Supreme Court asked the SpiceJet Ltd to pay Rupees Ten Lakhs to Jeeja Ghosh, an eminent activist involved in disability rights, for forcibly de-boarding her by the flight crew, because of her disability. Apex Court bench comprising of Justices A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agrawal also issued the guidelines with regard to ‘carriage’ by persons with disabilities and/or persons with reduced mobility and observed that People with disabilities also have the Right to Live with Dignity.
- No liquor shops near National Highways [State of Tamil Nadu vs. K. Balu] Supreme Court ordered closure of all liqour shops along National and state highways stressing on the need to improve road safety and curb menace of drunken driving. A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also ruled that there should not be any liquor shops within 500 metres of such highways and they should also be not visible from such roads.
- Urgent need to review regulatory mechanism for the legal profession [Mahipal Singh Rana vs. State of Uttar Pradesh] The Supreme Court observed that there is an urgent need to review the provisions of the Advocates Act dealing with regulatory mechanism for the legal profession. Three Judge Bench comprising of Justices Anil R. Dave, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel requested the Law commission and Government of India to take appropriate steps in this regard.
- Jammu & Kashmir Has No Vestige Of Sovereignty Outside The Constitution of India [State Bank of India Vs. Santosh Gupta and Anr Etc.]The Supreme Court set aside the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s judgment which had held that various key provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 were outside the legislative competence of Parliament, as they collided with Section 140 of the Transfer of Property Act of Jammu & Kashmir, 1920. The bench also rejected the J&K High Court’s view that the J&K Constitution was equal to the Constitution of India.
- High Court Judges Not Exempt From Airport Frisking [Union of India Vs. Rajasthan High Court and Ors]The Supreme Court set aside a Rajasthan High Court order which had directed the Union Government to exempt judges of the high court from pre-embarkation security checks. Observing that the order of the high court transgressed the ‘wise and self-imposed’ restraints on the power of judicial review, the court said the view of the Union government to exempt certain dignitaries from security checks is based on a considered assessment of security perceptions and does not depend only on the warrant of precedence.
- Soumya Case: Govindachami Acquitted Of Murder Charges; LIFE TERM Awarded For Rape [Govindaswamy Vs. State of Kerala] The Supreme Court acquitted Govindachami alias Govindaswamy, the accused in Soumya Rape and Murder case, of Murder charges while upholding the conviction and sentence under Section 376 IPC for Rape and other offences.
- SC issues Guidelines on ‘Appointment of Govt. Lawyers [State of Punjab vs. Brijeshwar Singh Chahal]A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court issued Guidelines relating to the Appointment of Government Law Officers. The Bench comprising of Chief Justice T.S.Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph was primarily examining the question ‘Whether appointment of law officers by the State Governments can be questioned or the process by which such appointments are made, can be assailed on the ground that the same are arbitrary, hence, violative of the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution of India?’ Answering the question in the affirmative the Court has issued following Guidelines.
- Resolution against Justice Katju can’t be quashed [Justice Markandey Katju vs. The Lok Sabha] SC refused to quash the March 2015 resolution by both houses of parliament against him for describing Gandhi as a British agent and Netaji as a Japanese agent in a blog.
- SC orders Floor test in Uttarakhand : [Union of India vs. Harish Rawat] The Supreme Court today ordered a floor test monitored by it in Uttarakhand assembly to end the constitutional impasse.
- Cauvery Dispute and SC: [State of Karnataka vs. State of Tamil Nadu:] SC ordered Karnataka to release 15000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu, Later on a plea by state of Karnataka, it was modified to 12000 cusecs. SC also held that t had the jurisdiction to hear appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT)
- SC orders NEET. [Sankalp Charitable Trust vs. UoI] Supreme Court ordered to conduct the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2016 in Two Phases. The Petition was filed by Sankalp Charitable Trust for a direction to hold National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) in terms of Regulation of Medical Council of India (MCI) for academic year 2016-17 for admission to MBBS, BDS and like Courses of medical colleges throughout the country.
- Sedition: Direction to authorities [Common Cause vs Union of India]
Supreme Court of India issued a direction to all the concerned authorities to follow the Constitutional bench judgment in Kedar Nath v State of Bihar (1962) which limited the scope of Sedition Law (Section 124A) in India. The Supreme Court has said that all authorities would be bound by the Kedar Nath judgment when dealing with cases of sedition. Supreme Court made the observations in Petition filed by NGO ‘Common Cause’ and Dr. S.P. Udayakumar.
And the most controversial order of 2016
National anthem must in Theatres [Shyam Narayan Chouski vs. Union of India] The Supreme Court made it mandatory for all cinema theatres to play the national anthem before a movie begins during which the national flag is to be shown on the screen. A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy also said that everyone present in cinema hall should rise up and pay respect to the anthem when it is played.
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.