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Supreme Court Monthly Digest: October 2020

Akshita Saxena
12 Dec 2020 2:11 PM GMT
Supreme Court Monthly Digest: October 2020
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Supreme Court Important Judgments in October 2020

Important Judgments/ Orders: 1. "Covid 19 Is Not A Public Emergency": SC Quashes Gujarat Govts' Notification Extending Work Hours Under Factories Act Without Overtime Pay Order dated October 1, 2020 The Supreme Court quashed the notification issued by the Gujarat Labour and Employment Department granting exemptions to all factories in Gujarat from provisions of the Factories...

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Important Judgments/ Orders:

1. "Covid 19 Is Not A Public Emergency": SC Quashes Gujarat Govts' Notification Extending Work Hours Under Factories Act Without Overtime Pay

Order dated October 1, 2020

The Supreme Court quashed the notification issued by the Gujarat Labour and Employment Department granting exemptions to all factories in Gujarat from provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 relating to daily working hours, weekly working hours, intervals for rest and spread overs of adult workers as well as from payment of overtime wages at double rates viz. Section 59.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph & Indu Malhotra held that the pandemic situation cannot be a reason to do away with statutory provisions that provide dignity and rights for workers by the Gujarat Government. In this context, the bench has stated that the pandemic is not a "public emergency" within the meaning of Section 5 of the Factories Act threatening security of the country.

Also Read: Workers' Right To Life Cannot Be Deemed Contingent On The Mercy Of Their Employer Or The State: SC Quashes Gujarat Govt. Notification

Also Read: SC Warns About Sobering Lessons Learnt From Our Not-Too-Distant History Of Emergency Era

Also Read: The Phrase Of This Court As 'Sentinel On The Qui Vive' May Have Become Weather-Beaten, Judges Must Constantly Remind Themselves Of Its Value: SC

[Case: Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha & Anr. v. State]

2. Financier Continues To Be Owner Of Goods Which Are Subject Of Hire Purchase Agreement Until Hirer Pays All Instalments: SC

Order dated October 1, 2020

The financer continues to be owner of the goods being the subject of hire purchase, until the option to purchase is exercised by the hirer, upon payment of all amounts agreed upon between the hirer and the Financier, the Supreme Court has reiterated in a judgment passed on Thursday. The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee observed that there is no impediment to the Financier taking possession of the vehicle when the hirer does not make payment of instalments/hire charges in terms of the Hire Purchase Agreement.

[Case: M/S Magma Fincorp Ltd. v. Rajesh Kumar Tiwari]

3. Mens Rea For Section 306 IPC Cannot Be Assumed To Be Ostensibly Present But Has To Be Visible And Conspicuous: SC Acquits Husband Accused Of Driving Wife To Suicide

Order dated October 1, 2020

Section 306 IPC cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous, observed a bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy while setting aside the conviction of a husband who was accused of driving wife to suicide. While considering his appeal, the bench noted that there is neither any direct evidence of cruelty against the husband or the in-laws on nor to show which particular hope or expectation of the deceased was frustrated by the husband.

"What might have been the level of expectation of the deceased from her husband and in-laws and the degree of her frustration, if any, is not found through any evidence on record. More significantly, wilful negligence by the husband could not be shown by the prosecution," the bench noted.

[Case: Gurcharan Singh v. State of Punjab]

4. Court Cannot Refuse To Hear Bail Application On Merits Saying Accused Went Back On Promise To Settle: SC

Order dated October 1, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that a court cannot refuse to hear a bail application on merits on the ground that the accused had failed to comply with the settlement offer made earlier. Observing thus, a Bench comprised of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ajay Rastogi set aside an order passed by the Madras High Court which dismissed a bail application on the ground that the accused had gone back on the promise to settle.

The case arose out of an FIR registered over allegations of criminal breach of trust, cheating etc. The accused had sought for interim bail by stating that he will settle the disputes relating to the payment of money once he is released. Based on that, the Court granted him interim bail.

[Case: G Selvakumar v. State of Tamil Nadu]

5. SLP Against HC Order Rejecting Review Petition Cannot Be Entertained When Main Judgment Is Not Challenged: SC

Order dated October 5, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that a special leave petition challenging the order of High Court rejecting the review petition cannot be entertained when main judgment in the writ petition is not challenged. When the main judgment of the High Court cannot be effected in any manner, no relief can be granted by this Court in the special leave petition filed against order rejecting review application to review the main judgment of the High Court, the three judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah and R. Subhash Reddy observed.

"Against the main judgment the SLP having been dismissed earlier the same having become final between the parties cannot be allowed to be affected at the instance of petitioner. When the main judgment of the High Court cannot be effected in any manner, no relief can be granted by this Court in the special leave petition filed against order rejecting review application to review the main judgment of the High Court," the order stated.

[Case: TK David v. Kurupampady Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. & Ors.]

6. "Public Places Cannot Be Occupied Indefinitely": Supreme Court On Shaheen Bagh Protests

Order dated October 7, 2020

The Supreme Court held that the public places cannot be occupied indefinitely. "Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in designated area", said the bench comprising Justices S K Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari while delivering a judgement on the scope of right to protest and whether or not there can be any limitations on such a right. The court added that "social media channels are often fraught with danger" and they lead to highly polarising environments.

"This is what was witnessed in Shaheen Bagh. What Started out as a protest caused inconvenience to commuters," said the top court while holding in a batch of petitions pertaining to a road blockade at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi by protesters who were opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. The court also pulled up the administration and its inability to clear encroachments and obstructions, waiting on the judicial orders for doing so, adding that it was the laxity of the administration that warranted intervention of the court.

Also Read: [Shaheen Bagh] Demonstrations Expressing Dissent Have To Be In Designated Places Alone: SC

[Case: Amit Sahni v. UOI]

7. Mere Inclusion Of Candidate In A Selection List Does Not Confer Upon Them A Vested Right To Appointment, Reiterates SC

Order dated October 7, 2020

The Supreme Court reiterated that mere inclusion of candidate in a selection list does not confer upon them a vested right to appointment. In this case, the candidates participated in the selection process to the 2013 batch of Constables (Executive) – Male in Delhi Police. They were declared to have been successful in the first result. The results were revised later and they were ousted. The candidates approached the Central Administrative Tribunal which dismissed their OA. This order was challenged before the Delhi High Court, which directed the appointment.

"Such irregularities (in the results) have become a bane of the public recruitment process at various levels resulting in litigation across the country before the Tribunals, the High Courts and ultimately this Court as well. Much of the litigation and delay in carrying out public recruitment would be obviated if those entrusted with the duty to do so carry it out with a sense of diligence and responsibility," a Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee said.

[Case: Commissioner of Police & Anr. v. Umesh Kumar]

8. Filing Of The Charge-sheet By Itself, Does Not Entitle An Accused To Copy Of Statement Recorded U/s 164 CrPC: SC

Order dated October 8, 2020

Filing of the charge-sheet by itself, does not entitle an accused to copies of any of the relevant documents including statement under Section 164 of the Code, the Supreme Court observed while setting aside the Allahabad High Court order which allowed the plea of former Union Minister and BJP leader Chinmayanand to seek a certified copy of the statement of the rape victim. The right to receive a copy of such statement will arise only after cognisance is taken and at the stage contemplated by Sections 207 and 208 of the Code and not before, the three-judge bench headed by Justice Uday Umesh Lalit held.

"The view taken by the High Court would be having far reaching effect not only in the Petitioner's case but in all cases of sexual offences against the women, where direction for supply of copy of statement of victim u/s 164 CrPC even during investigation would unreasonably put the accused to an advantageous position to and would cause irreversible damage to the investigation and case of the prosecutrix," the Bench also comprised of Justices Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat said.

Also Read: SC Sets Aside Allahabad HC Order Which Allowed Former Union Min Chinmayanand Access To Victim's Statement Under Section 164 CRPC

[Case: Miss A v. State of Uttar Pradesh]

9. Related Witnesses' Testimony, If Found Truthful, Can Be The Basis Of Conviction: SC

Order dated October 9, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that testimony of the related witness, if found to be truthful, can be the basis of conviction. If the witnesses are otherwise trustworthy, past enmity by itself will not discredit any testimony, the bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy observed.

The court observed thus while upholding conviction of five persons accused in a murder case. The court dismissed the appeal against Madhya Pradesh High Court judgment upholding their conviction under Section 148, 302 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Karulal, Amra, Kachru, Suratram and Bhagirath were accused of murder of one Madhavji.

[Case: Karulal v. State of MP]

10. Medical Admission - NRI Quota Not Compulsory; Private Colleges Have Discretion To Abolish It: SC

Order dated October 9, 2020

The Supreme Court held that it is not compulsory for the private medical colleges to provide for 15% NRI quota. Private colleges and institutions which offer such professional and technical courses can decide whether, and to what extent, they wish to offer NRI or management quotas, subject to limits set by judicial precedents, enacted law or subordinate legislation, held a bench of Justices LN Rao & S. Ravindra Bhat.

[Case: Nilay Gupta v. Chairman Neet PG Medical & Dental Admission/Counselling Board 2020]

[Case: Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]

11. [Life Insurance] Proposer Duty Bound To Disclose Pre-Existing Ailments To The Insurer: SC

Order dated October 9, 2020

A proposer who seeks to obtain a policy of life insurance is duty bound to disclose pre-existing medical condition to the insurer, the Supreme Court observed. "A contract of insurance is one of utmost good faith. A proposer who seeks to obtain a policy of life insurance is duty bound to disclose all material facts bearing upon the issue as to whether the insurer would consider it appropriate to assume the risk which is proposed. It is with this principle in view that the proposal form requires a specific disclosure of pre-existing ailments, so as to enable the insurer to arrive at a considered decision based on the actuarial risk," a Bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee observed.

In this case, the insurance proposal form contained questions pertaining to the health and medical history of the proposer and required a specific disclosure on whether any ailment, hospitalization or treatment had been undergone by the proposer and also a declaration of good health. The proposer answered the queries in the negative, which meant that he had not undergone any medical treatment or hospitalization and was not suffering from any ailment or disease. Acting on the basis of the proposal submitted by the proposer, a policy of insurance was issued to him. One month later, the insured died. The insurance claim made by his mother was repudiated on the basis of the investigation reports which revealed that proximate to the death, the deceased had been suffering from a stomach ailment and from vomiting of blood, as a result of which he had been availing of the treatment at the hospital.

[Case: Branch Manager, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company Ltd. v. Dalbir Kaur]

12. Matters Of Education Must Be Left To Educationists: SC Holds M.Ed Is A Postgraduate Degree

Order dated October 12, 2020

Matters of education must be left to educationists, observed the Supreme Court while setting aside an Allahabad High Court judgment which held that an M.Ed. qualified person could not be appointed to the post of Assistant Professor in Education. A three-judge bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari held that the M.Ed. degree is a postgraduate degree.

[Case: Anand Yadav & Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.]

13. Subsequent Filing Of Chargesheet Does Not Extinguish Indefeasible Right Of Accused Who Applied For 'Default Bail': SC

Order dated October 12, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the accused gets an indefeasible right to 'default bail' if he makes an application after the maximum period for investigation of an offence is over, and before a charge sheet is filed. The right to default bail, Justice RF Nariman led bench said, is a fundamental right granted to an accused person to be released on bail once the conditions of the first proviso to Section 167(2) are fulfilled.

"So long as an application has been made for default bail on expiry of the stated period before time is further extended to the maximum period of 180 days, default bail, being an indefeasible right of the accused under the first proviso to Section 167(2), kicks in and must be granted," the Bench also comprising Justices Navin Sinha and KM Joseph said.

[Case: Bikramjit Singh v. State of Punjab]

14. Specific Performance Suit Filed Within Limitation Cannot Be Dismissed On The Sole Ground Of Delay Or Laches: SC

Order dated October 12, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that a suit for specific performance filed within limitation cannot be dismissed on the sole ground of delay or laches. Once a suit for specific performance has been filed, any delay as a result of the court process cannot be put against the plaintiff as a matter of law in decreeing specific performance, the bench comprising Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Navin Sinha observed.

"However, an exception to this rule is where immovable property is to be sold within a certain period, time being of the essence, and it is found that owing to some default on the part of the plaintiff, the sale could not take place within the stipulated time," the Bench added.

Also Read: All UAPA Offences Investigated By NIA Or State Police Are Exclusively Triable By 'Special Courts': SC

[Case: Ferrodous Estates Pvt. Ltd. v. P. Gopirathnam]

15. SC Upholds Rejection Of Candidature Of A District Judge Aspirant Who Was Later Acquitted In Criminal Case U/s 498A IPC

Order dated October 13, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed the plea of a District Judge aspirant whose candidature was on the ground of pendency of a criminal case under Section 498A IPC filed by his wife. The mere fact that subsequently after more than a year when the person whose candidature has been cancelled has been acquitted cannot be a ground to turn the clock backward, the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah observed.

"Clause (viii) on which the reliance is placed contemplates that the candidate who has been acquitted on merit by the Court will be eligible for the Government service. The aforesaid contemplation relates to at the time of character verification. Thus, at the time of character verification, if a candidate is found to be acquitted on merits by the Court, the candidate shall be treated to be eligible for Government Service. 21 The above clause (viii) as quoted above cannot come to the rescue of the appellant who at the time of character verification or at the time of consideration of the case of the appellant by the committee on 18.07.2018 had not been acquitted," the Bench clarified.

[Case: Anil Bhardwaj v. The HC of Madhya Pradesh & Ors.]

16. [Order 8 Rule 1A(3) CPC] Court Should Take A Lenient View While Considering Defendant's Application To Produce Additional Documents: SC

Order dated October 13, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the courts should take a lenient view when an application is made by defendant for production of the document which he was not able to produce along with the written statement. The court was considering an appeal against a Madras High Court judgment which dismissed the revision petition filed by the defendants in a suit challenging the refusal to entertain an application under Order 8 Rule 1A(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure seeking leave of the court to produce additional documents.

It was stated by defendants that they had recently traced these documents related to the suit property and that was why they could not produce them along with the written statement. Referring to Rule 1A of Order 8 of C.P.C, the bench comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna noted that it mandates the defendant to produce the documents in his possession before the court and file the same along with his written statement.

[Case: Suganshi (Dead) v. P. Rajkumar]

17. [Domestic Violence Act] Wife Entitled To Claim Right Of Residence Which Belongs To Relatives Of Husband Also: SC Overrules Its 2006 'SR Batra' Judgment

Order dated October 15, 2020

A wife is also entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household belonging to relatives of the husband, the Supreme Court held in an important judgment overruling the 2006 judgment in SR Batra v. Taruna Batra. "In the event, shared household belongs to any relative of the husband with whom in a domestic relationship the woman has lived, the conditions mentioned in Section 2(s) are satisfied and the said house will become a shared household," the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.

It added, "The living of woman in a household has to refer to a living which has some permanency. Mere fleeting or casual living at different places shall not make a shared household. The intention of the parties and the nature of living including the nature of household have to be looked into to find out as to whether the parties intended to treat the premises as shared household or not. As noted above, Act 2005 was enacted to give a higher right in favour of woman. The Act, 2005 has been enacted to provide for more effective protection of the rights of the woman who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family. The Act has to be interpreted in a manner to effectuate the very purpose and object of the Act."

[Case: Satish Chander Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja]

18. Court Cannot Impose Condition Of Deposit of Money While Granting Default/Statutory Bail U/s 167(2) CrPC: SC

Order dated October 15, 2020

A Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah held that while granting default bail/ statutory bail under Section 167(2) of CrPC, condition of deposit of amount cannot be imposed.

The only requirement for getting the default bail/statutory bail under Section 167(2), Cr.P.C. is that the accused is in jail for more than 60 or 90 days, as the case may be, and within 60 or 90 days, as the case may be, the investigation is not completed and no chargesheet is filed by 60th or 90th day and the accused applies for default bail and is prepared to furnish bail, the Court observed.

The court also added that the circumstances while considering the regular bail application under Section 437 Cr.P.C. are different, while considering the application for default bail/statutory bail.

[Case: Saravanan v. State]

19. Infraction Of Rules Of Natural Justice By Itself Doesn't Invalidate Proceedings Unless Prejudice Is Caused, Reiterates SC

Order dated October 16, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the breach of the audi alteram partem rule cannot by itself, without more, lead to the conclusion that prejudice is thereby caused. The court said that the "prejudice" exception must be more than a mere apprehension or even a reasonable suspicion of a litigant. The bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph also summarized the principles by referring to some precedents.

[Case: State of UP v. Sudhir Kumar Singh & Ors.]

20. [NDPS Act] Lack Of Independent Witness Not Fatal; Police Officer's Testimony Shall Be Scrutinized With Greater Care: Supreme Court

Order dated October 26, 2020

The Supreme Court reiterated that, in NDPS cases, lack of independent witnesses are not fatal to the prosecution cases. The bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy observed that, in such cases, the Courts have to adopt a greater degree of care while scrutinising the testimonies of the police officers. If they are found reliable, they can form the basis of a successful conviction, the bench observed.

[Case: Raveen Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh]

21. Courts Should Inform Accused About Their Right To 'Default Bail' Once It Accrues: SC

Order dated October 26, 2020

Observing that the objects of Section 167(2) of CrPC are subsets of the overarching fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21, a Bench comprising Justices UU Lalit, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran said that Courts should inform the accused of the availability of their indefeasible right to avail 'default bail' once it accrues to them. The bench also observed that if the Court deliberately does not decide the bail application but adjourns the case by granting time to the prosecution, it would be in violation of the legislative mandate.

"As a cautionary measure, the counsel for the accused as well as the magistrate ought to inform the accused of the availability of the indefeasible right under Section 167(2) once it accrues to him, without any delay. This is especially where the accused is from an underprivileged section of society and is unlikely to have access to information about his legal rights. Such knowledge­-sharing by magistrates will thwart any dilatory tactics by the prosecution and also ensure that the obligations spelled out under Article 21 of the Constitution and the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the CrPC are upheld," it said.

[Case: M. Ravindran v. Intelligence Officer]

22. Right To Default Bail Is Enforceable Even If Charge Sheet/Report Seeking Extension Of Time Is Subsequently Filed: SC

Order dated October 26, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that where the accused has already applied for default bail, the Prosecutor cannot defeat the enforcement of his indefeasible right by subsequently filing a final report, additional complaint or report seeking extension of time. The bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran, while allowing an appeal against a Madras High Court judgment, summarized the legal position in this regard.

[Case: Ravindran v. The Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence]

23. Trivial Procedural Lapses Not A Ground To Nullify SARFAESI Proceedings Initiated By Secured Creditor If No Substantial Prejudice Was Caused To Borrower: SC

Order dated October 27, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that proceedings initiated under the SARFAESI Act by the Secured Creditors cannot be nullified merely on the ground of technical defects and procedural lapses unless substantial prejudice was caused to the defaulter. In appeal filed by Secured Creditor, the Apex Court noted that the borrower (in its correspondence with the secured creditor) did not deny advancement of loan, execution of Facility Agreement, their liability and compliance of the procedure being followed by the secured creditor prescribed under the SARFAESI Act.

The court also observed that the objection raised by the borrower was trivial and technical in nature and the secured creditor has complied with the procedure prescribed under the SARFAESI Act, was observed by the bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi.

[Case: L&T Housing Finance Ltd. v. Trishul Developers]

24. Preferences & Inclinations Of Child Are Important In Determining Issue Of Parental Custody: Supreme Court

Order dated October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court, in a judgement pertaining to transnational custody of child, relied upon Section 17(3) of the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 which states that the Court can consider the preferences of the minor if he/she is old enough to form an intelligent preference. "As per Section 17(3), the preferences and inclinations of the child are of vital importance for determining the issue of custody of the minor child. Section 17(5) further provides that the court shall not appoint or declare any person to be a guardian against his will", Bench comprising of Justices UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Hemant Gupta (2:1) observed.

[Smriti Madan Kansagra v. Perry Kansagra]

25. Officers Authorised To Investigate NDPS Cases Are 'Police Officers' And Confessional Statements Made To Them Are Not Admissible: Supreme Court [2:1]

Order dated October 29, 2020

The Supreme Court held by 2:1 majority that officers of the Central & State agencies appointed under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act are police officers and therefore the 'confessional' statements recorded by them under Section 67 are not admissible. Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Navin Sinha held thus, while Justice Indira Banerjee gave a dissenting opinion in the case Tofan Singh v State of Tamil Nadu.

[Case: Tofan Singh v. State of Tamil Nadu]

26. 'Acquittal Does Not Conclude Disciplinary Enquiry': SC Upholds Dismissal Of Police Constable Acquitted In A Murder Case

Order dated October 29, 2020

The Supreme Court, while upholding dismissal of police constable, reiterated that order of dismissal can be passed even if the delinquent official had been acquitted of the criminal charge. In appeal filed by the state against the High court order, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee noted thus:

"Whether on the basis of the evidence, the respondent could have been implicated in the conspiracy to commit murder of Bhanwar Singh is one aspect of the matter. Evidently direct evidence to sustain a charge of conspiracy is difficult to come by even in the course of a criminal trial. Quite independent of this is the issue whether the connection of the respondent with the circumstances leading to the death of Bhanwar Singh affected his ability to continue in the State police force without affecting its integrity and reputation. The latter aspect is the one on which the judgment of the Division Bench is found to be deficient in its reasoning."

Also Read: 'Acquittal Does Not Conclude Disciplinary Enquiry': SC Upholds Dismissal Of Police Constable Acquitted In A Murder Case

[Case: State of Rajasthan v. Heem Singh]

27. Police Presence During Test Identification Makes Statements By Identifiers Fall Within The Ban Of Section 162 CrPC: Supreme Court

Order dated October 29, 2020

When the Test identification parades are held in police presence, the resultant communications tantamount to statements made by the identifiers to a police officer in course of investigation and they fall within the ban of section 162 of CrPC, a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Krishna Murari and Hrishikesh Roy held. In this case, the accused Chunthuram and co-accused Jagan Ram were convicted in a murder case by the Trial Court. The High Court, referring to the testimony of an eyewitness, acquitted Jagan Ram. Identification of the lungi by Filim Sai was yet another evidence used against Chunthuram.

[Case: Chunthuram v. State of Chhattisgarh]

Important Updates:

1. 'Situation Not Anticipated 6 Months Back': SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Inquiry Into Centre's Alleged Mismanagement Of COVID 19

Order dated October 1, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed a plea filed by six retired bureaucrats seeking an independent inquiry by a Commission appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, into the Central Government's alleged "gross mismanagement" of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao noted that the "situation had not been anticipated 6 months back" and that "latitude had to be given to the government", and accordingly, proceeded to dismiss the plea.

[Case: KP Fabian v. UOI]

2. [Airfare Refunds] SC Accepts DGCA Recommendations; Refunds To Accrue To Travel Agents For Tickets Booked Through Them

Order dated October 1, 2020

The Supreme Court accepted the recommendations made by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regarding for refund of airfare of tickets booked during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy & MR Shah stated that the petitions shall stand disposed of in terms of the DGCA proposals and the vouchers for tickets issued by travel agents shall be utilised by travel agents only when refunds are effectuated. This means that tickets which the passengers have booked through travel agents shall be refunded to travel agents and not directly through passengers.

[Case: Pravasi Legal Cell v. Union of India]

3. "Accused Was A Juvenile At The Time Of Occurrence": SC Quashes Life Sentence In A Four Decade Old Murder Case

Order dated October 7, 2020

The Supreme Court aside the life imprisonment sentence imposed on a person accused in a 1981 murder case noticing that he was less than 18 years of age on the date of commission of offence. The bench comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, though upheld the conviction, directed the Juvenile Justice Board to pass orders regarding detention and custody under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 Act.

[Case: Satya Deo @ Bhoorey v. State of UP]

4. "Be Good Children & Withdraw The Plea": SC Refuses To Entertain Plea Seeking Interest Free Loans For Lawyers Amid Pandemic

Order dated October 8, 2020

The Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea filed by a lawyers' body seeking interest free loans for lawyer of upto 20 lacs. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun asked the petitioner-association, Supreme Court Arguing Counsel Association to withdraw the plea and instead file an intervention application in another matter which is pending before the court on the same issue.

[Case: Supreme Court's Arguing Counsel v. UOI]

5. Payal Tadvi Suicide: SC Permits Accused Doctors To Re-Enter College And Resume Studies

Order dated October 8, 2020

The Supreme Court permitted the doctors accused of abetting the suicide of Dr. Payal Tadavi to re-enter the College and the Hospital to pursue their courses of study. The three doctors, Dr. Ankita Kailash Khandelwal, Dr. Hema Suresh Ahuja and Dr. Bhakti Arvind Mehare are accused of abetting the suicide of Dr. Payal Tadavi by humiliating her and passing disparaging remarks about her caste. While granting conditional bail, the Bombay High Court had observed that they will not be allowed inside the BYL Nair hospital premises during the bail period.

"If the law presumes an accused to be innocent till his guilt is proved, the Appellants as presumably innocent persons, are entitled to all the fundamental rights including the right to liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and are entitled to pursue their course of study so long as exercise of said right does not hamper smooth conduct and progress of the prosecution.", the bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi observed while allowing their appeals.

[Case: Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]

6. "Tomorrow You Will Say Nobody Should Eat Meat": SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Ban On 'Halal' Slaughter Of Animals As "Mischievous"

Order dated October 12, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed a PIL challenging the practice of 'halal' for slaughter of animals for food. "'Halal' is only a method of doing so. Different ways are possible- there is 'halal', there is 'jhatka'. Some people do 'jhatka', some do 'halal', how is it a problem? Some people want to eat 'halal' meat, some want to eat 'jhatka' meat, some want to eat reptile meat", observed Justice SK Kaul.

[Read Report]

7. "Dangerous Accused Must Be Handcuffed": SC Dismisses Plea Against Extra-Judicial Killings And Handcuffing Of Persons

Order dated October 14, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed a plea raising the concerns regarding extra-judicial killings and handcuffing of prisoners. "Where are you going with this? How can you prevent extra-judicial killing? they shouldn't happen but how will you stop them?", asked CJI SA Bobde at the outset of Senior Advocate Jitendra Sharma, for the petitioner.

[Read Report]

8. Tablighi Jamaat: SC Allows Foreigners To Submit Representations Seeking Permission To Go Back; Asks Centre To Decide Within 4-7 Days

Order dated October 15, 2020

The Supreme Court allowed foreign citizens, who are facing criminal proceedings in Delhi for participating in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz during March allegedly in violation of visa conditions, to submit representations before the nodal officer proposed by the Central Government seeking permission to go back to their country of origin. A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar ordered that such representations should be decided, preferably within a period of four days, but not later than a week from their receipt.

[Case: Maulana Hadrami v. UOI]

9. Supreme Court Of India Cannot Be A Place For The Governments To Walk In When They Choose Ignoring The Period Of Limitation: SC

Order dated October 15, 2020

Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed, the Apex Court bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul remarked while dismissing a SLP filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh with a delay of 663 days.

The bench, also comprising Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, imposed costs of Rs. 25,000/- on the state. In its application, the state had submitted that reason for such an inordinate delay was "due to unavailability of the documents and the process of arranging the documents". The delay was also attributed to "bureaucratic process works, it is inadvertent that delay occurs".

Similar Update: [254 Days Delay In Filing SLP] Supreme Court Imposes 25K Cost On Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), To Be Recovered From Officers Responsible

[Case: State of Madhya Pradesh v. Bherulal]

10. It Is For Executive To Take Action Towards Enforcement: SC Closes Plea Against Cow Slaughter, Elephant Poaching, Animal Killing For Crop Protection/Religious Sacrifices

Order dated October 15, 2020

Observing that it is an aspect of enforcement and it is for the Executive to take appropriate action, the Supreme Court disposed off a plea raising concerns of slaughter of cows, poaching of elephants, killing of wild animals for crop protection and animal sacrifices in religious practices. "We have heard the petitioner in person and perused the pleadings in the writ petition. The prayers are too wide and varied and it would be difficult to issue any direction", said the bench of Justices SK Kaul and Dinesh Maheshwari.

[Case: Mathews J. Nedumpara v. UOI]

11. Delay Of More Than 1 Year In Uploading Of Judgment After Pronouncement: SC Calls Upon Patna HC Registrar General To Explain

Order dated October 15, 2020

Noting the submission that the impugned judgment was pronounced on 24th January, 2018 but was uploaded on the Patna High Court website on 1st May, 2019, the Supreme Court on Thursday called upon the Registrar General of the High Court to submit a report on whether the said facts are correct, explaining the reasons for the same. "There is an inordinate delay of 733 days as stated by the learned counsel (not 333 days as set out in the application and the office report)", observed the bench of Justices SK Kaul and Dinesh Maheshwari, stating that this aspect be verified by the Registry

Also Read: SC Calls Upon Allahabad HC Registrar General To Explain Reason For Inordinate Delay In Uploading Judgment

Also Read: Delay In Delivery Of Reasoned Judgments Violates Fundamental Right To Life: Supreme Court Issues 'Reminder' To HCs

[Case: State of Bihar v. Raj Kumar Yadav]

12. "Are You Saying That Since A Bollywood Actor Has Died, Constitution Is Not Being Followed": SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Dismissal Of Maharashtra Govt

Order dated October 16, 2020

The Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea seeking for removal of the State Government in Maharashtra led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and for the imposition of the President's Rule in its stead in the State. A Bench comprising of CJI SA Bobde, and Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian heard the PIL and observed that the Court could not entertain or intervene in pleas with such prayers. "As a citizen, you are at liberty to approach the President, but do not come here," it remarked.

[Case: Vikram Gahlot v. UOI]

13. SC Dismisses Investigative Journalist's Plea For Transfer Of Cases Out Of Uttarakhand On Grounds Of Vindictive Prosecution

Order dated October 16, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed the plea of investigative journalist Umesh Kumar Sharma seeking transfer of three criminal cases pending against him to Delhi from Dehradun on the ground of being targeted by the BJP-led Uttarakhand government. It was pointed out that as a journalist, the Petitioner has conducted sting operations against the Chief Minister, his relatives and associates in the State of Uttarakhand and therefore he is being targeted for malicious prosecution within the State. The petitioner apprehended threat to his life and submitted that he would be prejudiced in conducting his defense in the courts at Dehradun.

"When the nature of the three cases are examined, it is seen that two of the cases are property and Will related matters. One of this case is pending for last over a decade. Therefore, this court finds it difficult to accept that the cases are on account of journalistic activities of the petitioner. In fact the credibility of the journalistic activity of the petitioner is itself questioned, by a member of his sting operation team, in the third case", noted Justice Hrishikesh Roy.

[Case: Umesh Kumar Sharma v. State of Uttarakhand & Ors.]

14. Supreme Court Stays Orissa HC's Ban On Bird/Animal Sacrifice During 'Chatar Yatra'

Order dated October 16, 2020

The Supreme Court stayed an Orissa High Court judgment which banned animal/bird during 'Chatar Yatra' festival. CJI SA Bobde led bench issued notice in the SLP filed by one Bhawani Shanker Nial against the High Court judgment passed in January, this year. There shall be an interim stay of the order in the meanwhile, the bench also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramaniam ordered.

[Case: Bhawani Shankar Nial v. Jayanti Devi & Ors.]

15. Hathras Case: Supreme Court Asks Allahabad High Court To Monitor CBI Probe

Order dated October 27, 2020

The Supreme Court asked the Allahabad High Court to monitor the ongoing the CBI probe into the Hathras gang-rape and murder case. As regards the plea for transfer of trial outside the State of Uttar Pradesh, the bench CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramniun stated that the question of transfer is left open until the investigation is completed.

The bench also took note of the submission of the Solicitor General of India that the order passed by the Allahabad High Court had disclosed details about the victim and her family members. Based on that, the Court requested the Allahabad High Court to remove the facts disclosing the details of the victim and her family from the order.

Also Read: Hathras Case: Supreme Court Orders CRPF Protection To Victim's Family And Witnesses

Latest Update: Hathras Case: UP Govt. Tells Allahabad High Court That District Magistrate Can't Be Transferred, Justifies Cremation Of Victim At Night

[Case: Satyama Dubey v. UOI]

16. Criminal Trial Deficiencies: Supreme Court Seeks High Courts' Response On 'Draft Rules Of Criminal Practice'

Order dated October 27, 2020

A bench comprising CJI SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao, during the suo moto proceedings related to inadequacies and inefficiencies in the criminal trial system, sought the response of all High Courts on the implementation of Draft Rules of Criminal Practice prepared by the amici curiae. Senior Advocate Luthra, one of the amici curiae appointed by the court in the suo moto matter, suggested that the High Courts should adopt the draft criminal rules by adopting them in the administrative side.

[Case: In Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies & Deficiencies In Criminal Trials v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.]

17. Expeditious Trial Of Section 138 NI Act Cases : Supreme Court Seeks High Courts' Responses To Amici Curiae Report

Order dated October 27, 2020

The Supreme Court sought the responses of all High Courts to the preliminary report submitted by Amici Curiae with suggestions for expeditious trial of cheque bounce cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. A bench comprising CJI SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao sought the responses of State Police Chiefs of all states regarding measures, including coercive steps, to ensure the appearance of accused in cheque dishonour cases.

[Case: In Re Expeditious Trial of Cases Under Section 138 of the NI Act]

18. Depression Not Unsoundness Of Mind For S. 84, IPC: Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Against Dismissal By Ex-Army man

Order dated October 27, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that 'depression' does not qualify as 'unsound mind' for the purpose of entitling one to the defence under Section 84, IPC. The bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman, Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari was hearing an appeal against a 2018 order of dismissal passed by the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench, Lucknow. "The question is whether depression can be regarded as unsoundness of mind", advanced the counsel for the appellant.

[Case: Praveen Kumar Pal v. UOI]

19. Supreme Court Stays FIR Registered Against Journalist Who Was Covering 2018 Bharat Bandh

Order dated October 27, 2020

The Supreme Court stayed an FIR registered against Yogesh Kumar Holkar, a journalist who had covered the 2018 Bharat Bandh protests in Morena, Madhya Pradesh. A Bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy issued notice in the plea and stayed further proceedings in pursuance to the FIR in question.

[Case: Yogesh Kumar Holkar v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr.]

20. Tarun Tejpal Rape Case: Supreme Court Extends Deadline For Completion Of Trial To March 31, 2021

Order dated October 27, 2020

The Supreme Court granted additional time to a Goa Court for completion of the trial in the alleged rape case against Tarun Tejpal, former editor-in-chief of Tehelka Magazine. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy & MR Shah granted time until March 31, 2021 to complete the trial in an application seeking extension of time to do so. The application was filed by State of Goa. On August 19, 2019, the top court, while dismissing a petition filed by Tejpal for quashing the charges of rape framed against him, had directed that the trial be completed by December 31, 2020.

[Case: State of Goa v. Tarun Tejpal]

21. It Is For State To Assess, Review Threat Perception: Supreme Court Dismisses Plea For Withdrawal Of 'Z+' Security To Mukesh Ambani & Family

Order dated October 27, 2020

Dismissing a plea seeking withdrawal of security cover to Reliance Industries' Mukesh Ambani and his family members, the Supreme Court observed that "it is for the State to assess and review the threat perception of individual on case to case basis". The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M. R. Shah were hearing a SLP against the December, 2019 decision of the Bombay High Court, where it was held that that the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai and other respondents "have no option but to ensure that the highest level Z+ security is provided to these private respondents", "irrespective of whether any individual or any authority is convinced about the existence or otherwise of real threat to their life or liberty", particularly when they are "willing to bear the entire cost for said security to protect their lives in view of their own grave threat perceptions".

[Case: Himanshu Agarwal v. Commissioner Of Police, Mumbai & Ors.]

22. Power U/s 41A CrPC Cannot Be Used To Intimidate, Threaten Or Harass: SC Stays Police Summons To Delhi Resident For FB Post Against West Bengal Govt.

Order dated October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court stayed a direction to a Delhi resident accused of making an 'objectionable' Facebook post against West Bengal Government, to appear before the Investigating Officer in West Bengal in response to a notice issued under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

"Cognizant as the Court is of the underlying principles which restrain the exercise of judicial review in the matter of police investigation, equally, the court must safeguard the fundamental right to the freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. There is a need to ensure that the power under section 41A is not used to intimidate, threaten and harass", the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee said.

[Case: Roshni Biswas v. State of West Bengal]

23. 'She Is Not Going To Run Away': Supreme Court Dismisses Delhi Police Challenge Against Bail Granted To Devangana Kalita

Order dated October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed a SLP filed by the Delhi police challenging the Delhi High Court order granting bail to student activist Devangana Kalita in a case related to Delhi riots. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah said that the court was not inclined to interfere with the bail order. Additional Solicitor General of India, S V Raju, appearing for the Delhi police, submitted that the High Court omitted to consider relevant aspects and placed reliance on irrelevant factors to grant bail. The ASG added that Kalita was an influential person and that she could influence witnesses and tamper evidence.

"It is only a grant of bail. She is not going to run away", Justice Ashok Bhushan responded to ASG's submissions, expressing disinclination to interfere. When the ASG repeated that Kalita was an influential person, Justice M R Shah asked "can that be a reason to deny bail?". Justice Bhushan told ASG that in case she attempted to tamper evidence or influence the witnesses, the police have the option of seeking the cancellation of bail.

[Case: State v. Devangana Kalita]

24. 'Is He Some Kind Of A Monster?': Supreme Court Remarks While Staying Execution Of Death Penalty

Order dated October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court stayed the execution of the death sentence awarded to a man who was found guilty for the gruesome act of murdering a woman by strangulating her, cutting her abdomen and taking out some organs from her body. Though the bench comprised of CJI SA Bobde, and Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian stayed the execution, it could not hide its shock and horror at the crime. "We have never come across a case like this", the CJI told Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, who was appearing for the convict Mohan Singh as part of legal aid scheme.

[Case: Mohan Singh @ Mahaveer v. State of Rajasthan]

25. Supreme Court Upholds Cost of Rs. 50,000 On DU College For Dismissing a Professor While On Maternity Leave

Order dated October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal against a Delhi High Court Order which reintstated an ad-hoc Assistant Professor who had been removed from service by a Delhi University college during her maternity leave and upheld the cost of Rs. 50,000. A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee expressed grave reservations against the conduct of the college and stated that maternity leave could not be a ground for termination of services.

"Having a child is no reflection on a woman's professional ability, whether she is in the Army, Navy, judiciary, teaching or bureaucracy. We will not allow termination on this ground", observed the Bench.

[Case: Sri Aurobindo College (Evening) & Anr. v. Manish Priyadarshini & Anr.]

26. Supreme Court Directs States To Ensure Supply Of Dry Ration To Sex Workers

Order dated October 28, 2020

The Supreme Court directed State Governments to follow the Standard Operation Procedure formulated by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and to commence distribution of dry ration to sex workers. Further, the States were directed to file compliance reports pertaining to the implementation of schemes for the distribution of ration.

Additionally, in order to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of the sex workers, the States have been directed to follow the framework set up by NACO. A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao presided over the matter and decided to pass a general direction in today's proceedings and then observe what the States had to respond.

Latest Update: Maharashtra Govt Announces Rs. 5,000 Per Month Financial Aid For Sex Workers Without Requirement Of ID Proof

[Case: Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal & Ors.]

27. Supreme Court Stays Uttarakhand High Court Order Directing CBI Investigation Against CM Trivendra Singh Rawat

Order dated October 29, 2020

The Supreme Court stayed the Uttarakhand HC order directing CBI probe into corruption allegations against Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy & MR Shah observed that the issue required consideration, while issuing notice and sought response from the Respondents. Uttarakhand High Court order had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file an FIR and investigate the allegations of corruption levelled against Uttarakhand's Sitting Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat by an investigative journalist, Umesh Sharma.

[Case: Trivendra Singh Rawar v. Umesh K. Sharma & Ors.]

28. Supreme Court Orders Transfer To Itself All Pleas Challenging Provisions of Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code On Personal Guarantors

Order dated October 29, 2020

The Supreme Court has ordered the transfer of petitions pending across High Courts, challenging the provisions of Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code pertaining to the issues of personal guarantors. A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta & Ajay Rastogi heard the matter. The plea had been filed by IBBI seeking transfer on the ground of multiplicity of proceedings and to avoid conflicting judgments on account of pendency of similar issues across High Court.

[Case: IBBI v. Lalit Kumar Jain & Ors.]

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