Important Supreme Court Judgments: November 2020

Muneeb Rashid Malik

5 Dec 2020 2:48 PM GMT

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  • Important Supreme Court Judgments: November 2020

    The Supreme Court of India has pronounced numerous judgments in the month of November, 2020. In this write-up, the important pronouncements are briefly discussed. Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Appeal No. 742 of 2020 (Decidedon 27/11/2020). A Bench of Justices Dr DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee summarized the factors which the High Courts must take...

    The Supreme Court of India has pronounced numerous judgments in the month of November, 2020. In this write-up, the important pronouncements are briefly discussed.

    Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Appeal No. 742 of 2020 (Decidedon 27/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices Dr DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee summarized the factors which the High Courts must take into account while considering an application for the grant of bail under Article 226, which are, the nature of the alleged offence, the nature of the accusation, and the severity of the punishment in the case of a conviction; whether there exists a reasonable apprehension of the accused tampering with the witnesses or being a threat to the complainant or the witnesses; the possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the trial or the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice; the antecedents of and circumstances which are peculiar to the accused; whether prima facie the ingredients of the offence are made out, on the basis of the allegations as they stand, in the FIR; and the significant interests of the public or the State and other similar considerations. The Bench also observed that human liberty is a precious constitutional value, which is undoubtedly subject to regulation by validly enacted legislation and as such, the citizen is subject to the edicts of criminal law and procedure.

    Madras Bar Association v. Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No. 804 of 2020 (Decidedon 27/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that dispensation of justice by the Tribunals can be effective only when they function independent of any executive control and that renders them credible and generates public confidence. The Bench also issued a slew of directions to the Central Government to amend various provisions of the Tribunal Rules, 2020 and directed the Central Government to constitute a National Tribunals Commission which shall act as an independent body to supervise the appointments and functioning of Tribunals, as well as to conduct disciplinary proceedings against members of Tribunals and to take care of administrative and infrastructural needs of the Tribunals in an appropriate manner.

    Jayantilal Verma v. State of M.P. (Now Chhattisgarh), Criminal Appeal No. 590 of 2015(Decided on 19/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy, while finding a man guilty of killing his wife, observed that it is no doubt true, in the case in hand, that a large number of witnesses turned hostile and the Trial Court was also not happy with the manner prosecution conducted this case but that is not an unusual event in the long drawn out trials in our country and in the absence of any witness protection regime of substance, one has to examine whatever is the evidence which is capable of being considered, and then come to a finding whether it would suffice to convict the accused. As the incident happened within the privacy of the house, the Bench enunciated that the appellant was under an obligation to give a plausible explanation regarding the cause of the death in the statement recorded under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. and mere denial could not be the answer in such a situation.

    Fertico Marketing and Investment Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation andAnother, Criminal Appeal Nos. 760-764 of 2020 (Decided on 17/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and B.R. Gavai, held that the CBI investigation is not vitiated merely for not obtaining prior consent of the State Government under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1947 in addition to general consent which was in force. The Bench observed that the cognizance and the trial cannot be set aside unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about miscarriage of justice. The illegality may have a bearing on the question of prejudice or miscarriage of justice but the invalidity of the investigation has no relation to the competence of the court.

    Rattan Singh and Others v. Nirmal Gill and Others, Civil Appeal Nos. 3681-3682 of 2020(Decided on 16/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, held that for invoking Section 17 of the Limitation Act, 1963, two ingredients have to be pleaded and duly proved, one is existence of a fraud and the other is discovery of such fraud. The Court observed that a document is presumed to be genuine if the same is registered and the standard of proof required in a civil dispute is preponderance of probabilities and not beyond reasonable doubt. The Bench held that there is no tangible evidence produced by the plaintiff to support the plea of fraud and the testimony of the attesting witness, scribe and other independent witnesses support the case of the defendants.

    Kirpa Ram (Deceased) Through Legal Representatives and Others v. Surendra Deo Gaurand Others, Civil Appeal No. 8971 of 2010 (Decided on 16/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, held that the substantial question of law framed by the appellants if found to be arising in the case, only then the High Court is required to formulate the same for consideration and if no such question arises, it is not necessary for the High Court to frame any substantial question of law. The Bench further held that the formulation of substantial question of law or reformulation of the same arises only if there are some questions of law and not in the absence of any substantial question of law and the High Court is not obliged to frame substantial question of law, in case, it finds no error in the findings recorded by the First Appellate Court.

    C.Bright v. District Collector and Others, Civil Appeal No. 3441 of 2020 (Decidedon 05/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, held that Section 14 of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 is not to be interpreted literally without considering the object and purpose of the Act and if any other interpretation is placed upon the language of Section 14, it would be contrary to the purpose of the Act. The Bench held that the Act imposes a duty on the District Magistrate to make an earnest effort to comply with the mandate of the statute to deliver the possession of a secured asset within 30 days and for reasons to be recorded within 60 days and the remedy under Section 14 of the Act is not rendered redundant if the District Magistrate is unable to handover the possession but the District Magistrate will still be enjoined upon the duty to facilitate delivery of possession at the earliest.

    Rajnesh v. Neha and Another, Criminal Appeal No. 730 of 2020 (Decided on 04/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy while issuing guidelines on payment of maintenance in matrimonial matters held that where successive claims for maintenance are made by a party under different statutes, the Court would consider an adjustment or setoff of the amount awarded in the previous proceedings while determining whether any further amount is to be awarded in the subsequent proceeding and it is mandatory for the applicant to disclose the previous proceeding and the orders passed therein, in the subsequent proceeding. Also, if the order passed in the previous proceeding requires any modification or variation, it would be required to be done in the same proceeding. The Bench enunciated that an application for execution of an Order of Maintenance can be filed under Section 28 A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 r.w. Section 18 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 and Order XXI Rule 94 of the CPC for executing an Order passed under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act before the Family Court; Section 20(6) of the DV Act before the Judicial Magistrate; and Section 128 of Cr.P.C. before the Magistrate's Court. It was held that the order or decree of maintenance may be enforced like a decree of a civil court, through the provisions which are available for enforcing a money decree, including civil detention, attachment of property, etc. as provided by various provisions of the CPC, more particularly Sections 51, 55, 58, 60 read with Order XXI.

    Rajesh and Another v. State of Haryana, Criminal Appeal No. 1648 of 2019 (Decided on03/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices Dr DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee while summarizing the principles of conducting a Test Identification Parade, held that the purpose of conducting a TIP is that persons who claim to have seen the offender at the time of the occurrence identify them from amongst the other individuals without tutoring or aid from any source. An identification parade, in other words, tests the memory of the witnesses, in order for the prosecution to determine whether any or all of them can be cited as eyewitness to the crime; there is no specific provision either in the CrPC or the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which lends statutory authority to an identification parade. Identification parades belong to the stage of the investigation of crime and there is no provision which compels the investigating agency to hold or confers a right on the accused to claim a TIP; identification parades are governed in that context by the provision of Section 162 of the CrPC; a TIP should ordinarily be conducted soon after the arrest of the accused, so as to preclude a possibility of the accused being shown to the witnesses before it is held; the identification of the accused in court constitutes substantive evidence; facts which establish the identity of the accused person are treated to be relevant under Section 9 of the Evidence Act; a TIP may lend corroboration to the identification of the witness in court, if so required; as a rule of prudence, the court would, generally speaking, look for corroboration of the witness' identification of the accused in court, in the form of earlier identification proceedings. The rule of prudence is subject to the exception when the court considers it safe to rely upon the evidence of a particular witness without such, or other corroboration; since a TIP does not constitute substantive evidence, the failure to hold it does not ipso facto make the evidence of identification inadmissible; the weight that is attached to such identification is a matter to be determined by the court in the circumstances of that particular case; identification of the accused in a TIP or in court is not essential in every case where guilt is established on the basis of circumstances which lend assurance to the nature and the quality of the evidence; and the court of fact may, in the context and circumstances of each case, determine whether an adverse inference should be drawn against the accused for refusing to participate in a TIP. However, the court would look for corroborating material of a substantial nature before it enters a finding in regard to the guilt of the accused.

    Imperia Structures Ltd. v. Anil Patni, Civil Appeal No. 3581-3590 of 2020 (Decided on 02/11/2020).

    A Bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Vineet Saran, held that a complaint before Consumer Fora by allottees against builders is not barred by the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 and the parliamentary intent is clear that a choice or discretion is given to the allottee whether he wishes to initiate appropriate proceedings under the CP Act or file an application under the RERA Act. The Bench held that Section 100 of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is akin to Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and Section 107 saves all actions taken or purported to have been taken under the CP Act, 1986. The Bench observed that Section 100 is enacted with an intent to secure the remedies under CP Act, 2019 dealing with protection of the interests of Consumers even after the RERA Act was brought into force.

    (Muneeb Rashid Malik is a student of law and can be reached at He tweets @muneebmalikrash).

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