As 2015 is going to end soon and we are about to see the dawn of 2016, it is the apt time to have a relook at what all we did this year. For humans living in legal world, viz. Lawyers, reporters and Law student, it is apt time to re look at what Supreme Court said this year. What new interpretation of law did the Apex Court offer and what Law has been struck down? We at LiveLaw, have reported almost all the important Judgments delivered by the Supreme Court this year and twenty five most important Judgments can be read here ;-
1. NJAC held unconstitutional (Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association vs. Union of India)
Within a year of both houses of Union Legislature passed much awaited National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, the Supreme Court struck down the NJAC Act by 4:1. Justices J S Khehar, MB Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel declared the 99th Amendment and NJAC Act unconstitutional while lone minority, Justice Chelameswar upheld it. The judgement rendered by five judges runs over 1000 pages. Read more about it here.
2. Yakub Memon midnight hearing [Yakub Abdul Razak Memon vs. State of Maharashtra]
The year 2015 witnessed a rare event of the Apex Court opening its gates for hearing an urgent Writ petition. Yakub Memon’s final plea before the Apex Court was heard in Court Room 4 which was opened for an unprecedented 90-minute hearing that started at 3.20 AM and ended a little before dawn. The Bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitava Roy and Justice P.C. Pant agreed and observed that granting further time was not necessary in the present case. The bench said the execution was “inevitable” after rejection of the mercy petitions. Yakub was executed the very next day on his birthday.Read more about that eventful night at Supreme Court here.
Netizens also had a good year with Supreme Court striking down Section 66A of Information Technology which was viewed as ‘draconian’ by many. The Apex court bench comprising of Justices J. Chelameswar and R.F. Nariman held that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right.” You may Read more about it here.
4. No compromise in Rape cases [State of MP vs. Madanlal]
After a couple of High Courts allowed mediation to take place between the Rape Victim and the Accused, the Supreme Court in a strong worded judgment held that in a case of rape or attempt of rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can really be thought of. The Supreme Court accordingly ruled out mediation in such cases. Apex Court bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant observed “any kind of liberal approach or thought of mediation in this regard is thoroughly and completely sans legal permissibility.” Read more about the judgment here.
5. Unwed mother can become sole guardian of a child [ABC vs. State (NCT of Delhi)]
In a landmark judgment, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Vikramajit Sen held that an unwed mother in India can apply to become the sole guardian of a child, without giving notice to the father of the child and without disclosing his identity. The Court also directed that if a single parent/unwed mother applies for the issuance of a Birth Certificate for a child born from her womb, the Authorities concerned may only require her to furnish an affidavit to this effect, and must thereupon issue the Birth Certificate, unless there is a Court direction to the contrary. Read more here.
6.Uphaar Verdict [Sushil Ansal vs. State through CBI]
A verdict which perplexed many this year was the Apex Court ruling on Ansal brothers. 18 years after a massive fire at a theatre in New Delhi’s posh Green Park area snuffed out 59 lives, the Supreme Court let off cinema owners Sushil Ansal and his brother Gopal Ansal merely asking them to pay a fine of Rs 30 Crore each to the government within three months. Read it here.
7. Award Compensation to the victim of crime [Manohar Singh vs. State of Rajasthan]
In a significant ruling, The Supreme Court held that the Court while sentencing an accused, the court should not only strike a balance between needs of the society and fairness to the accused, but also should award compensation to the victim of crime. The bench comprising of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that “The court has to give attention not only to the nature of crime, prescribed sentence, mitigating and aggravating circumstances to strike just balance in needs of society and fairness to the accused, but also to keep in mind the need to give justice to the victim of crime.”Read more here.
8. Section 364A IPC awarding death penalty not unconstitutional [Vikram Singh vs. Union of India]
The Supreme Court of India dismissed an appeal by a death row convict, and held that Section 364A awarding death penalty as a possible punishment, for kidnapping any person threatening to cause death in order to compel Government or any other person, to pay ransom, is not unconstitutional. Three Judge Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur, R.K. Agrawal and Adarsh Kumar Goel examined the background of the Section 364A and held that it was enacted for the safety and security of the citizens and the unity, sovereignty and integrity of the country. Read more about the judgment here
9. States cannot unilaterally grant remission [Union of India vs. Sriharan]
In a setback to seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case which includes four Sri Lankans, will remain in Vellore Central Prison in Tamil Nadu, as a five judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the Tamil Nadu government headed by J Jayalalithaa could not have unilaterally granted them remission. Read more here.
10. Minimum Edu Qualification rule for Panchayat elections upheld [Rajbala vs. State of Haryana]
Two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India upheld the validity of Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 8 of 2015), which introduced the minimum educational qualification for candidates to contest the panchayat elections. The Bench consisting of Justice Chelameswar and A.M.Sapre held that both the rights namely “Right to Vote” and “Right to Contest” are not fundamental Rights but only constitutional rights of the citizen. Read more about the Judgment here.
11. Women can be manager of a Joint Family [Shreya Vidyarthi vs. Ashok Vidyarthi]
The Apex court bench comprising of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana held that, though a women could not be treated as Karta of a joint family, she can be a manager of a joint family, in some particular circumstances. The bench also held that the expression ‘Manager’ can be understood as denoting a role distinct from that of the Karta from that of the Karta. Read more at details here.
12. Complete Departmental inquiries within six months [Prem Nath Bali vs. Registrar, High Court of Delhi]
In a ruling which will have significant impact in service law, the Supreme Court of India has asked every employer, State and Private, to conclude departmental inquiry proceedings within six months. The court opined that every employer (whether State or private) must make sincere endeavour to conclude the departmental inquiry proceedings once initiated against the delinquent employee within a reasonable time by giving priority to such proceedings and as far as possible it should be concluded within six months as an outer limit. Read more here.
13. RBI also under RTI [Reserve Bank of India vs. Jayantilal Mistry]
Coming down heavily on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI for short) for depriving information under the RTI Act, 2005 in the name of fiduciary relationship between itself and the banks, the Supreme Court has in a landmark decision declared that RBI does not place itself in a fiduciary relationship with the Financial institutions because, the reports of the inspections, statements of the bank, information related to the business obtained by the RBI are not under the pretext of confidence or trust. Read more here.
14. Acid Attack Victims in disability list [Parivartan Kendra vs. Union of India]
The Supreme Court has directed all the States and Union Territories to consider the plight of Acid Attack victims and take appropriate steps with regard to inclusion of their names under the disability list. Apex court bench of Justices M.Y. Eqbal and C. Nagappan said that State shall upon itself take full responsibility for the treatment and rehabilitation of the victims of acid attack as per the Guidelines provided in Laxmi vs. Union of India. Read the judgment and details here.
15. Writ petitions maintainable against ‘deemed Universities’. [Dr. Janet Jeyapaul vs. SRM University]
Opining that the term “authority” used in Article 226, in the context, must receive a liberal meaning unlike the term in Article 12, the Supreme Court held that an aided educational institution like government institutions discharge public function by way of imparting education to students and therefore they are amenable to the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. Read more here.
16. No politician photos in Govt Ads [Common cause vs. Union of India]
A Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice P.C. Ghose has restrained ruling parties from publishing photographs of political leaders or prominent persons in government-funded advertisements. Read more here
17. Age determination of rape victim clarified [State of M.P. vs Anoop Singh]
Answering with the central question as to the criteria to be adopted and applied to resolve the controversy over the age of a rape victim in the event of a discrepancy in the birth certificate and the school certificate, the Supreme Court of India has held that Rule 12(3) of the juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, is applicable in determining the age of the victim of rape, and that medial opinion can be relied on only in the absence of the documents prescribed in Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile Justice Rules. Read more here.
18. Amendment in complaint can be done [S.R.Sukumar vs. S.Sunaad Raghuram]
Answering the issue whether an amendment to a complaint filed under Section 200 Cr.P.C. is impermissible in law, the Supreme Court of India held that if the amendment sought to be made relates to a simple infirmity which is curable by means of a formal amendment and by allowing such amendment, no prejudice could be caused to the other side, notwithstanding the fact that there is no enabling provision in the Code for entertaining such amendment, the Court may permit such an amendment to be made.
19. Obscene language cannot be allowed against ‘Historically respected personalities’. [Devidas vs. State of Maharashtra]
The Apex Court in a significant judgment rendered held that in the name of artistic freedom or critical thinking or generating the idea of creativity, a poet or a writer cannot put into the voice or image of a “historically respected personality” like Mahatma Gandhi, such language, which may be obscene.Read more here.
20. Appointment of Archakas to be made in accordance with Agamas [Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sanga vs. Government of Tamil Nadu]
The Supreme Court of India, in, has held that appointments of Archakas in temples will have to be made in accordance with the Agamas, subject to their due identification as well as their conformity with the Constitutional mandates and principles. Apex Court bench comprising of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana made this observation while disposing of a batch of Writ petitions filed against Tamil Nadu Government order regarding appointment of Archakas in temple. Read more here.
21. Father of deceased victim has right to appeal [Satya Pal Singh v. State of M.P]
Two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in held that the father of the deceased has locus standi to prefer an appeal before the High Court under proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C. as he falls within the definition of victim as defined under Section 2(wa) of Cr.P.C. to question the correctness of the Judgment and order of acquittal of Accused in the Case. Read more here.
22. Jat reservation unconstitutional [Ram Singh vs. Union of India]
The Apex Court bench held that self-proclamation and claim of a community of backwardness based on perception of advancement of other classes to seek protection as less fortunate is not constitutionally permissible. Read more details here
23. Concealing pending criminal cases by elected representative illegal [Krishnamoorthy vs. Sivakumar]
Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra ruled that if any elected representative conceals information regarding pending criminal cases, his election can be set aside. The Bench observed, “Non-disclosure of criminal antecedents’ amounts to corrupt practice by the candidates. The crucial recognized ideal which is required to be realized is eradication of criminalization of politics and corruption in public life.” Read more here.
24. Writs against Judicial actions by judiciary not maintainable [Riju Prasad Sarma etc. Vs. State of Assam]
The Supreme Court of India in a recent made it clear that judiciary in India, acting on its judicial side cannot be considered as a State under Article 12 of the Constitution, and that only when the courts deal with their employees or act in other matters purely in administrative capacity, they may fall within the definition of the State for attracting writ jurisdiction. The Supreme Court also ruled that writs against the judiciary would lie against their administrative actions alone. Read more here
25. Law giving equal right to daughters prospective [Prakash vs. Phulavati ]
Apex Court clarified that the law, which gave equal right to daughters in ancestral property under the Hindu Succession Act, is prospectively enforceable and not with retrospective effect (as held by some High Courts in the country). Read more here.