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Supreme Court Monthly Digest: November 2020

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
25 Dec 2020 7:35 AM GMT
Supreme Court Monthly Digest: November 2020
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Important Judgments/ Orders: 1. Entitlement Of Homebuyer Starts From Date Of Agreement And Not RERA Registration: Supreme Court Order dated November 2, 2020 The Supreme Court held that period for allotment of flat to a homebuyer has to be reckoned from the date of the buyer agreement and not from the date of the registration of the project under the Real Estate Regulation...

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Important Judgments/ Orders:

1. Entitlement Of Homebuyer Starts From Date Of Agreement And Not RERA Registration: Supreme Court

Order dated November 2, 2020

The Supreme Court held that period for allotment of flat to a homebuyer has to be reckoned from the date of the buyer agreement and not from the date of the registration of the project under the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act (RERA Act). A division bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and Vineet Saran said that entitlement of the Complainants must be considered in the light of the terms of the Builder Buyer Agreements.

[Case: Imperia Structures Ltd. v. Anil Patni]

2. Powers Of Review U/s 114 CPC Cannot Be Exercised As An Inherent Or Appellate Power: Supreme Court

Order dated November 3, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the powers of review under Section 114 read with Order 47 Rule 1 of CPC cannot be exercised as an inherent power or an appellate power. "An application for review is more restricted than that of an appeal and the Court of review has limited jurisdiction as to the definite limit mentioned in Order 47 Rule 1 CPC itself," said a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah.

In this case, the High Court had allowed an application seeking review of its judgment which had contained some observations regarding possession of disputed property. The High Court allowed the review petition observing that as regards the possession of the disputed property the issue of possession was neither raised before the Trial Court nor before the First Appellate Court and even no issue with respect to possession was framed by the Trial Court.

[Case: Shri Ram Sahu (Dead) v. Vinod Kumar Rawat]

3. "It's For Employer To Determine Suitability Of Qualifications": Supreme Court Denies Bank Peon Job For Overqualified Candidate

Order dated November 3, 2020

The Supreme Court upheld the cancellation of the candidature of a candidate by Punjab National Bank on the ground that he was overqualified for the post of peon. The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah set aside the Orissa High Court judgment in which it observed that the candidate cannot be denied the appointment solely on the ground that he is possessing a higher qualification. "It is for the employer to determine and decide the relevancy and suitability of the qualifications for any post and it is not for the Courts to consider and assess," the Court said.

The court also added that suppression of material information and making a false statement has a clear bearing on the character and antecedents of the employee in relation to his continuance in service.

[Case: Chief Manager, PNB v. Anit Kumar Das]

4. Supreme Court Issues Guidelines On Payment Of Maintenance In Matrimonial Matters

Order dated November 4, 2020

The Supreme Court issued guidelines on payment of maintenance in matrimonial matters. A bench comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy held that maintenance in all cases will be awarded from the date of filing the application for maintenance. The court said that for payment of Interim Maintenance, the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities, shall be filed by both parties in all maintenance proceedings, including pending proceedings before the concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrates Court, as the case may be, throughout the country. The model affidavit is annexed as Enclosures I, II and III of the judgment.

[Case: Rajnesh v. Neha & Anr.]

5. For Writ Against Stoppage Of Pension, Part Of Cause Of Action Arises Where Pensioner Is Getting Pension: Supreme Court

Order dated November 5, 2020

The Supreme Court held that a retired employee can file a writ petition against stoppage of pension at the place where he/she is residing and need not approach the High Court where the pension authority is located. A 3-judge comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah held that part of cause of action under Article 226(2) of the Constitution of India for filing writ arises at the place where the pensioner is residing and drawing pension.

[Case: Shanti Devi @ Shanti Mishra v. Union of India & Ors.]

6. [SC-ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act] Mere Insult Of A Person Is Not An Offence Unless It's On Account of Him/ Her Belonging To SC-ST: Supreme Court

Order dated November 5, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the offence under Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is not established merely on the fact that the informant is a member of Scheduled Caste unless there is an intention to humiliate a member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe for the reason that the victim belongs to such caste. A bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi observed thus while quashing a part of charge sheet against a person accused under Section 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(e) of the SC-ST Act. The High Court had refused to quash the criminal proceedings against the accused.

[Case: Hitesh Verma v. State of Uttarakhand]

7. [SARFAESI] Time Limit Stipulation For District Magistrates To Deliver Possession Of Secured Asset Is Not Mandatory: Supreme Court

Order dated November 5, 2020

The Supreme Court held that time limit stipulation in Section 14 of the SARFAESI Act mandating the District Magistrate to deliver possession of a secured asset, is directory and not mandatory and that the inability to take possession within time limit does not render the District Magistrate Functus Officio.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi upheld a judgment of Division Bench of Kerala High Court which held that Section 14 of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, mandating the District Magistrate to deliver possession of a secured asset within 30 days, extendable to an aggregate of 60 days upon reasons recorded in writing, is a directory provision.

[Case: C. Bright v. The District Collector]

8. Blacklisting Orders May Cause Civil Death Of Institutions: SC Sets Aside Indefinite Blacklist Order Issued Against A Pharma Company

Order dated November 6, 2020

The Supreme Court set aside an indefinite blacklisting order issued in the year 2009 against VETINDIA Pharmaceuticals Limited. An order of blacklisting operates to the prejudice of a commercial person not only in praesenti but also puts a taint which attaches far beyond and may well spell the death knell of the organisation/institution for all times to come described as a civil death, said the bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari.

The company, the appellant in this case, was served with an order of blacklisting by the Office of Director, Animal Husbandry Department of UP Government referring to the State Analyst report declaring the batch supplied by it to be of substandard quality (misbranded/not in accordance with Oxytetracycline injection), thus violating the Tender stipulations. This order was challenged in 2019 before the Bombay High Court which dismissed it on the ground of delay. In appeal, the bench noticed that the show cause notice issued to the company did not state that action by blacklisting was to be taken, or was under contemplation. The court observed: "If the respondents had expressed their mind in the show cause notice to blacklist, the appellant could have filed an appropriate response to the same.

[Case: Vetindia Pharmaceuticals Ltd. v. State Of Uttar Pradesh]

9. Lack Of Jurisdiction Of A Court May Be A Ground To Seek Dismissal/ Return Of Proceedings, Rather Than Seeking Transfer: Supreme Court

Order dated November 6, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed Indian Olympic Association's plea seeking transfer of a writ petition pending before Kerala High Court to Delhi High Court. The Kerala Olympic Association had filed a writ petition before the Kerala High Court challenging the proceedings initiated by the Ethics Commission of the IOA regarding the election held last year. Before the Apex court, the IOA contended that any proceeding against it, as per its own by­laws, could be filed only in a court within the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court.

"Suffice it to say that if a court has no jurisdiction to try a lis, it is good for the party raising the issue of jurisdiction to seek the dismissal/return of the proceedings, rather than seeking a transfer. I fail to understand the anxiety of the petitioner, to make an irregular proceeding initiated by the first respondent, regular," Bench of Justice V. Ramasubramanian said.

[Case: Indian Olympic Association v. Kerala Olympic Association]

10. Magistrate While Handing Over Possession U/s 14 SARFAESI Act Not Required To Seek Permission From Company Court: Supreme Court

Order dated November 9, 2020

The Supreme Court held that a Magistrate exercising power under Section 14 of the SARFAESI Act is not required to seek permission from the Company Judge before directing handing over of possession of a property. The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi observed that a Company Court exercising jurisdiction under the Companies Act has no control in respect of sale of a secured asset by a secured creditor in exercise of powers available to such creditor under Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act.

[Case: M/s Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd. v. Sagi Narayana Raju]

11.

Order dated November 11, 2020

The Supreme Court affirmed the Calcutta High Court order banning the sale and bursting of firecrackers during Diwali, Chatt Puja, Kali Puja, etc in the entire state of West Bengal. A vacation bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee dismissed the special leave petition filed against the November 5 order passed by a division bench of the High Court. In the brief hearing, Justice Chandrachud observed that preservation of life was more important during the COVID-19 pandemic than the celebration of festivals.

[Case: Govt. of West Bengal v. Ajay Kumar De]

12. Supreme Court Orders Release Of Arnab Goswami From Jail; Says 'Personal Liberty Must Be Upheld'

Order dated November 11, 2020

The Supreme Court granted interim bail to Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami, who was arrested on November 4 in a criminal case relating to abetment to suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik in 2018. The top court also allowed the interim release of the co-accused Neetish Sarda and Firoze Mohammed Sheikh in the case. A vacation bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee passed the order after an urgent hearing given to the petitions challenging the November 9 order of the Bombay High Court which denied the accused interim bail in the habeas corpus petitions filed by them challenging their custody.

"If this court does not interfere today, we are travelling on the path of destruction. Forget this man (Goswami). You may not like his ideology. Left to myself, I will not watch his channel. Keep aside everything. If this is what our state governments are going to do to people who are to be nailed, then the Supreme Court has to intervene. There has to be a message to HCs- Please exercise your jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty. We are seeing case after case. HCs are failing to exercise jurisdiction. People are in jail for tweets!", the Court orally remarked.

Also Read: Arnab Goswami Case: 'If This Court Does Not Interfere Today, We Are Travelling On Path Of Destruction', Says Justice Chandrachud

Also Read: 'Liberty Is Not A Gift For Few': Supreme Court Directs High Courts, District Courts To Monitor Pendency Of Bail Applications

[Case: Arnab Goswami v. State of Maharashtra]

13. Registered Document Is Presumed To Be Genuine; Onus To Prove Otherwise Is On Person Who Challenges It, Reiterates Supreme Court

Order dated November 16, 2020

The Supreme Court reiterated that a document is presumed to be genuine if the same is registered and the onus to prove otherwise is on the person who challenged the stated registered document. In appeal, the issue arose before the Apex Court was was whether a General power of Attorney and sale deeds purported to have been executed by the plaintiff in the year 1900 is a result of fraud and forgery?

While examining this question, the bench Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari noted the dictum in Prem Singh and Ors. v. Birbal 8 (2006) 5 SCC 353 that there is a presumption that a registered document is validly executed. The court also noted the decision in Anil Rishi v. Gurbaksh Singh (2006) 5 SCC 558, wherein it was held that for shifting the burden of proof, it would require more than merely pleading that the relationship is a fiduciary one and it must be proved by producing tangible evidence.

[Case: Rattan Singh v. Nirmal Gill]

14. High Court Not Required To Frame Substantial Question Of Law While Dismissing Second Appeal: Supreme Court

Order dated November 16, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that a High Court is not required to frame substantial question of law while dismissing a second appeal. 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, the bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi observed.

"Court has the power to hear appeal on any other substantial question of law on satisfaction of the conditions laid down in the proviso of Section 100 of the Code [CPC]. Therefore, if the substantial question of law framed by the appellants are found to be arising in the case, only then the High Court is required to formulate the same for consideration. If no such question arises, it is not necessary for the High Court to frame any substantial question of law," said the Bench.

[Case: Kirpa Ram v. Surendra Deo Gaur]

15. SC Refuses To Entertain Plea Seeking Ban On Persons With Criminal Antecedents From Contesting Elections; Cites Separation of Powers

Order dated November 16, 2020

The Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea seeking a bar on persons with criminal antecedents from contesting elections. A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta & Ajay Rastogi said that the issue in the instant petition was the domain of the parliament and that it was open to the petitioner to pursue any remedy available for effectuating implementing directions issued by the Court earlier in this regard.

[Case: Lok Prahari v. UOI]

16. DSPE Act Provision Requiring States' Consent For CBI Investigation Is In Tune With Federal Character Of Constitution: Supreme Court

Order dated November 17, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the provision in Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which requires the consent of State Government for CBI to exercise of powers and jurisdiction, are in tune with the federal character of the Constitution. "Though Section 5 enables the Central Government to extend the powers and jurisdiction of Members of the DSPE beyond the Union Territories to a State, the same is not permissible unless, a State grants its consent for such an extension within the area of State concerned under Section 6 of the DSPE Act. Obviously, the provisions are in tune with the federal character of the Constitution, which has been held to be one of the basic structures of the Constitution", the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai observed.

[Case: Fertico Marketing & Investment Pvt. Ltd. v. CBI]

17. Right To Education Under Article 21A Envisages That Teachers Must Be Meritorious & The Best Of The Lot: SC

Order dated November 19, 2020

Right to education guaranteed in terms of Article 21A of the Constitution would envisage quality education being imparted to the children which in turn, would signify that the teachers must be meritorious and the best of the lot, the Supreme Court observed while dismissing the appeals filed by Uttar Pradesh Shiksha Mitra Association in a case related to the recruitment of 69,000 assistant teachers in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

The bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar observed that the fixation of cut off at 65-60% in ATRE-2019 was perfectly valid and justified. The bench observed that for maintaining standards of education in schools, the National Council for Teachers' Education Is specifically empowered to determine the qualifications of persons for being recruited as teachers in schools or colleges.

[Case: Ram Sharan Maurya & Ors. v. State of U.P.]

18.Any Creditor May Seek Transfer of Winding Up Petitions

Order dated November 19, 2020

The Supreme Court held that any creditor of a company can seek transfer of winding up proceeding pending before a High court to a National Company Law Tribunal. The words "party or parties" appearing in the 5th proviso to Clause (c) of Sub­section (1) of Section 434 of the Companies would take within its fold any creditor of the company in liquidation, the bench comprising the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian observed while allowing an appeal filed by a Financial Creditor against an order of the High court which refused to transfer the winding up proceedings from the Company Court to the NCLT.

[Case: M/s Kaledonia Jute & Fibres Pvt. Ltd v. M/s Axis Nirman & Industries Ltd.]

19.Anticipatory Bail cannot be sought after cancellation of regular bail

Order dated November 22, 2020

The Supreme Court held that a person cannot file an anticipatory bail application apprehending arrest following the cancellation of his regular bail. This is because a person released on bail remains under the 'constructive custody' of law and a person in custody cannot seek anticipatory bail, explained the top court. A bench comprising Justices Navin Sinha and KM Joseph made this observation while refusing anticipatory bail to a person who was apprehending arrest pursuant to cancellation of his regular bail.

[Case: Manish Jain v. Haryana State Pollution Control Board ]

20. "Liberty of a Citizen Cannot Be Taken Away In this Manner": SC Sets Aside HC Order Dismissing Criminal Revision Due To Absence Of Lawyer

Order dated November 22, 2020

While setting aside an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissing the plea of a man on account of absence of his counsel, the Supreme Court observed that "liberty of a citizen cannot be taken away in this manner". A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee observed that the high court was manifestly in error in rejecting the revision order of conviction under the Arms Act in default, on the ground that the appellant's advocate had remained absent on the previous four occasions.

[Case: Parveen v. State of Haryana]

21. Under Article 32 We Can't Go Into Issues Of Facts: Supreme Court Refuses To Entertain Bank Employee's Challenge To 'Vindictive' Transfer

Order dated November 24, 2020

"Under Article 32 jurisdiction, we cannot go into issues of facts. If we function like this, our court system will collapse", said the Supreme Court. The bench of Justices U. U. Lalit, Vineet Saran and Ravindra Bhat was hearing a writ petition by a Yes Bank employee, Shilesh Sivasankaran, challenging his transfer as being vindictive for having blown the whistle on the bank, seeking a mandamus to the RBI to investigate the matter.

"Your grievance is that you were moved out of your original assignment and transferred to a different post? But you can't move the Supreme Court under 32 for this, bypassing all other courts! The law is anyway settled that in matters of routine transfers, the courts shall not ordinarily interfere. Besides, you are an employee of Yes bank, which is a private sector bank. So we can't interfere under Article 32", Justice Lalit observed orally.

[Read LiveLaw's Report]

22. Supreme Court Stays Andhra Pradesh High Court's Gag Order On Media Reports & Social Media Comments On Amaravati Land Scam FIR

Order November 25, 2020

The Supreme Court stayed the Andhra Pradesh High Court's gag order on media reporting and social media comments on the contents of the Amaravati land scam FIR. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah passed the stay order on a special leave petition filed by the State of Andhra Pradesh challenging the interim order passed by the High Court on September 15.

The top court listed the matter for hearing in January 2021 and directed the parties to file their counter affidavits in the meantime. The Court also requested the High Court not to decide the writ petition in the meanwhile.

[Case: State of Andhra Pradesh v. Dammalapati Srinivas]

23. General Allegation Of 'Surcharged Atmosphere' Is Not Sufficient To Transfer Trial From One Court To Another: Supreme Court

Order dated November 25, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that a general allegation of surcharged atmosphere is not sufficient to transfer trial from one Court to another. "The transfer of trial from one state to another would inevitably reflect on the credibility of the State's judiciary. Except for compelling factors and clear situation of deprivation of fair justice, the transfer power should not be invoked," Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed while dismissing transfer petition filed by Jatinderveer Arora and others seeking transfer of Trial of criminal cases pending before the Courts at Bhatinda, Moga and Faridkot districts to competent Court in Delhi or to any nearby State, out of Punjab.

[Case: Jatinderveer Arora v. State of Punjab]

24. Supreme Court Dismisses Transfer Plea of Dera Sacha Sauda Members In Matter Pertaining To Sacrilege Of Holy Book

Order dated November 26, 2020

Supreme Court dismissed the transfer petition filed by members of Dera Sacha Sauda wherein they sought for the transfer of cases pertaining to sacrilege outside of the State of Punjab. A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy noted in the Order that "The transfer of trial from one State to another would inevitably reflect on the credibility of the State's judiciary. Except for compelling factors and clear situation of deprivation of fair justice, the transfer power should not be evoked".

[Read LiveLaw's Report]

25. Quashing Of Criminal Complaint Should Be An Exception And A Rarity Than An Ordinary Rule: Supreme Court

Order dated November 26, 2020

Quashing of a complaint should rather be an exception and a rarity than an ordinary rule, the Supreme Court observed while refusing to quash an FIR registered against Skoda-Volkswagen over alleged cheat emissions devices installed in vehicles. The CJI SA Bobde led bench observed that, if a perusal of the first information report leads to disclosure of an offence even broadly, law courts are barred from usurping the jurisdiction of the police. The two organs of the State operate in two specific spheres of activities and one ought not to tread over the other sphere, the bench said.

[Case: Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Private Limited v. State Of Uttar Pradesh]

26. High Courts Have Power To Grant Bail By Invoking Article 226 In Suitable Cases: Supreme Court

Order dated November 27, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that a High Court in its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India has the power to grant bail in a suitable case. "In an application under Article 226, the High Court must be circumspect in exercising its powers [to grant bail] on the basis of the facts of each case. However, the High Court should not foreclose itself from the exercise of the power when a citizen has been arbitrarily deprived of their personal liberty in an excess of state power," the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee observed in its judgment in Arnab Goswami case.

Also Read: A Prima Facie Evaluation Of FIR Does Not Disclose Offence Of Abetment To Suicide Against Arnab Goswami : Supreme Court

Also Read: Deprivation For A Single Day Is A Day To Many, Courts Must Ensure That Criminal Law Does Not Become A Weapon For Selective Harassment Of Citizens: SC In Arnab Goswami Judgment

[Case: Arnab Goswami v. State of Maharashtra]

27. Supreme Court Directs To Constitute National Tribunal Commission For Appointments To Tribunals, Lawyers With 10Yrs Practice Eligible For Appointment As Judicial Members

Order dated November 27, 2020

In a notable judgment, the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to constitute a National Tribunal Commission for the appointment of members in various Tribunals. Till the constitution of the National Tribunal Commission, a separate wing in the Ministry of Finance should be formed to cater to the needs of the Tribunals, ordered a bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat. The Court also directed the Centre to amend the rules to make advocates with 10 years practice eligible for appointment as judicial members in Tribunals.

[Case: Madras Bar Association v. Union of India & Anr.]

28. Judgment Which Attains Finality Can't Be Challenged In Article 32 Petition: Supreme Court Rejects 1993 Bombay Blasts Convict's Plea Of Juvenility

Order dated November 28, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Muhammad Moin Faridulla challenging its March 21, 2013 decision upholding the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for life. Qureshi, who was 17 years and 3 months old when he loaded vehicles with explosives and fitted them with timers to devastating effect on March 12, 1993 in Mumbai, had invoked the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act to seek leniency.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee observed, "conviction has attained finality by dismissal of the criminal appeal and the review petition. The issue of juvenility was raised before the Designated Court and this Court and has been dealt with specifically. This petition under Article 32 requires this Court to overturn the sentence of the petitioner which was imposed as an outcome of the TADA case. When conviction has attained finality, remedy under Article 32 is not available."

[Case: Md. Moin Faridullah Quereshi v. State of Maharashtra]

29. Proceedings U/s 34 Arbitration & Conciliation Act Not Maintainable Against Foreign Award: Supreme Court

Order dated November 29, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the proceedings under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act are not maintainable to challenge a foreign award. In this case, Jindal filed a petition before the Bombay High Court under Section 34 of the Act challenging the partial award. Though the single bench dismissed this petition, the Division Bench, referring to the Supreme Court decisions in Bhatia International v. Bulk Trading SA & Anr and Venture Global Engineering v. Satyam Computer Services Ltd. & Anr, held that proceedings under Section 34 of the Act could be validly maintained to challenge a foreign award.

In appeal, the Apex Court bench noted that in Bhatia, and later, in Venture Global it was held that resort to remedies under Part I of the Act can be made in respect of foreign awards, despite the clear dichotomy in the enactment between domestic awards (covered by Part I) and foreign awards (covered by Part II). The bench observed that this understanding was also re-visited in Bharat Aluminium Company v. Kaiser Aluminium Technical Services Inc [BALCO].

[Case: Noy Vallesina Engineering Spa v. Jindal Drugs Limited & Ors ]

30. 'Reservation Policy To Apply In Effecting Promotions To New Posts Created By Restructuring Of Cadres': Reiterates Supreme Court

Order dated November 29, 2020

The Supreme Court reiterated that by virtue of its 2008 decision in Pushpa Rani's case, where the restructuring of cadres results in creation of new posts, the policy of reservation would apply in effecting promotions to those posts. The bench of Justices UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and Ravindra Bhat was hearing a Transferred Case arising out of a writ petition filed by the Union of India in the Patna High Court.

An OA was filed before CAT, Patna pertaining to the restructuring of the post of Central Excise Inspector with the higher scale of Superintendent in Bihar. The view of the Tribunal was challenged by the UOI before the High Court. During the pendency of the writ petition, the UOI had requested for its transfer to the Supreme Court on account of similar issues pending before the latter in certain Civil Appeals.

[Case: Union of India v. Sadanand Singh & Ors]

31.Conduct Of Public Bodies Has To Be Fair & Not Arbitrary; Do Not Force Citizens To Approach Courts: Supreme Court

Order dated November 30, 2020

The Supreme Court observed that the conduct of a public body charged to uphold the rule of law has to be fair and not arbitrary. The court observed thus while dismissing Gujarat Maritime Board's appeal against the High Court judgment which allowed the writ petition filed by "Asiatic Steel" Court seeking refund of contract consideration of ₹3,61,20,000/- paid by them to the Board.

A bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that the Board's conduct or indifference in regard to the refund sough can be only on the premise that it wished the parties to approach the court, till a decision could be taken to refund the amounts received by it.

[Case: CEO & VC, Gujarat Maritime Board v. Asiatic Steel Industries Ltd]

Other Developments:

1. Supreme Court Stays Election Commission's Order Removing Ex-CM Kamal Nath As 'Star Campaigner'; Asks 'Who Gives You Power To Delist A Candidate?'

Order dated November 2, 2020

The Supreme Court stayed the order passed by the Election Commission of India delisting Ex Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh as a "Star Campaigner" from the Madhya Pradesh By-Election. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun told the Election Commission that the Court will stay the order and will examine if the poll panel has the power to issue such an order.

[Case: Kamat Nath v. ECI]

2. [Rape & Murder Of 2.5 Year Old Niece] "Injury Not With The Intention To Extinguish Victim's Life": Supreme Court Commutes Death Sentence

Order dated November 2, 2020

The Supreme Court commuted the death sentence awarded to a man accused of rape and murder of his two and half year old niece. "He did not consciously cause any injury with the intent to extinguish the life of the victim," the bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Krishna Murari and Indu Malhotra observed while commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC and to that of rigorous imprisonment for 25 years for the offence punishable under Section 376A IPC.

[Case: Shatrughna Baban Meshram v. State of Maharashtra]

3. Plea Seeking Probe Into Allegedly "India's Biggest Franchisee Scam": SC Issues Notice To Home Ministry, Finance Ministry, Central Agencies

Order dated November 2, 2020

The Supreme Court issued notice in a plea seeking investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) & SFIO (Serious Fraud Investigation Office) or by a Special Investigation Team into various offences including money laundering and black money hoarding by directors & beneficiaries of Westland Trade Private Limited. A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramniun issued notice to Home Ministry, Finance Ministry, CBI, ED, SFIO, Police Commissioner Delhi Gurugram and Noida.

[Read LiveLaw's Report]

4.Financial Aid For Advocates Amid COVID19: Supreme Court Transfers To Itself Petitions Pending In High Courts

Order dated November 2, 2020

The Supreme Court transferred to itself petitions pending in different High Courts seeking financial aid to advocates on account of COVID-19 situation. A bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian ordered the transfer.

It was on July 22 that the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the financial difficulties of advocates on account of COVID-19 pandemic and issued notices to the Bar Council of India, State Bar Councils, Registrar Generals of High Courts and recognized bar associations(In Re : Financial aid for members of bar affected by pandemic).

[Case: In Re: Financial Assistance For Lawyers]

5. Supreme Court Stays International Award Asking ISRO Arm Antrix To Pay Compensation To Devas

Order dated November 4, 2020

The Supreme Court put on hold an international award which had directed Antrix Corporation, (the commercial arm of ISRO) to pay compensation of USD 1.2 billion (INR 8,88,65,100,000) to Bengaluru-based startup "Devas Multimedia", for cancelling a satellite deal of 2005. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun also transferred the pending application under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act against the award from Bengaluru to Delhi High Court.

[Case: Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. v. Antrix Corporation Ltd.]

6. Will Supreme Court Allow The "Sunlight" In? SC Sets Up Panel To Look Into Live-Streaming Of Hearings

Order dated November 4, 2020

Supreme Court set up a panel in order to formulate rules regulating live-streaming of hearings in High Courts and Trial Courts, the Print reports. The panel formed by e-Committee of top court is expected to examine nuances relating to video conference hearings and digitisation of courts & submit its report to the Chairperson of Committee, Justice DY Chandrachud, within a week. Deliberations revolving around the possibility of live-streaming court proceedings are being held for the first time since a three-judge bench led by then CJI Dipak Mishra referred to Live Streaming as the Sunlight which will act as a disinfectant.

[Read LiveLaw's Report]

7. Supreme Court Makes Jharkhand Coal Block Auction Provisional And Subject To Orders

Order dated November 6, 2020

The Supreme Court directed that any action in connection with the opening of commercial coal mining in Jharkhand and the coal block auction would be provisional in the sense that the same would be subject to any further orders by the court. The bench led by CJI SA Bobde was hearing the suit by the Jharkhand Government against the launch of the auction process of coal blocks for purposes of commercial mining by the Centre.

[Case: State of Jharkhand v. UOI]

8. Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Against HC Order Allowing Harper Collins To Publish Book 'Gunning For The Godman' On Asaram Bapu Case

Order dated November 6, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed against a Delhi High Court interim order allowing publication of Harper Collins' book titled 'Gunning For The Godman', which is based on the criminal case against Asaram Bapu. A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar dismissed the appeal filed by Sanchita Gupta, who was convicted as an aide of the self-styled godman in a case related to rape of a minor, with a liberty to approach the High Court.

Before the Supreme Court, Gupta's counsel, Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat asserted that the lower Court's order was set aside on "flimsy grounds" and that the Book in question attacked his client's reputation inasmuch as it states that she was in the habit of procuring girls for Asaram.

The Top Court observed that these objections were not recorded in the High Court's order and the Petitioner should have raised this grievance before the High Court itself.

[Case: Sachin Gupta v. Harper Collins]

9. Supreme Court Issues Notice To Income Tax Dept In 2018 Tax Evasion Case Against Karti Chidambaram & Wife

Order dated November 16, 2020

The Supreme Court issued notice to the Income Tax Department in the 2018 tax evasion case against Congress MP Karti Chidambaram & his wife. The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy were hearing the SLP against the May 12 judgment of the Madras High Court, dismissing the petitions filed by Chidambaram and his wife Srinidhi to quash two criminal complaints under the Income Tax Act and the trial proceedings in respect of them in the Special Courts for MPs/MLAs.

[Case: Srinidhi Karti Chidambaram v. Deputy Director of IT]

10. Supreme Court Issues Notice To Kerala Govt On Plea To Fix Retirement Age As 60 For All Govt Servants

Order dated November 19, 2020

The Supreme Court issued notice to the State of Kerala on a plea seeking to fix the retirement age of government servants in Kerala as 60 years. A bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud issued notice on the special leave petition Saju Nambadan and another v. State of Kerala and others which challenged the amendments brought to the Kerala Service Rules to raise the retirement age as 60 years from 56 years only for those employees who joined service after 01.04.2013.

[Read LiveLaw's Report]

11. Tej Bahadur Yadav Neither An Elector Nor A Candidate In Varanasi; No Locus To Challenge PM's Election: Supreme Court

Order dated November 24. 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by Ex- BSF Jawan, Tej Bahadur Yadav, challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The judgement was rendered in a SLP challenging the Allahabad High Court's dismissal of Bahadur's election petition in December 2019 on the ground of lack of locus standi. The SLP contended that the High Court had failed to appreciate the misuse of provisions under Sections 9 and 33(3) of RPA by the District Election Officer.

In the judgement, referring to the Explanation to Section 81 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, which states that an "elector" means a person who is entitled to vote at the election petition relates, the Bench of CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian noted that an Election Petition could only be preferred by "(a) any elector or (b) any candidate at such election", and the Petitioner was neither.

[Case: Tej Bahadur v. Narendra Modi]

12. Supreme Court Asks Madras HC To Decide Constitutional Validity Of Section 40(a)(iib) Of Income Tax Act

Order dated November 25, 2020

The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah directed the Madras High Court to decide the constitutional validity of Section 40(a)(iib) of the Income Tax Act. Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Ltd. had approached the Apex Court challenging the High Court order dismissing the writ petition filed by it challenging the validity of the provision.

This provision deals with disallowance of royalty, licence fees, etc., in case of State Government Undertaking while computing income chargeable under the head "Profits and gains of business or profession.' The Corporation had contended that that the amount which is deductible in computing the income chargeable in terms of the Income Tax Act is not being allowed under the garb of the aforesaid provision. It was contended that the said provision is discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, inasmuch as there are many Central Government undertakings which have not been subjected to any such computation of income tax and are enjoying exemption.

[Case: M/s Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Ltd. v. Union of India]

13. 'It Appears Very Easy From Outside, We Will See': SC Grants 4 Weeks To Its Secretary General To File Response To Plea For Appointment Of Additional Judges U/A 128

Order dated November 26, 2020

The Supreme Court allowed 4 weeks' time to its Secretary General to file response on a plea seeking appointment of additional judges to the top court. The bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian was hearing a 2019 writ petition by NGO Lok Prahari with the aforesaid prayer. "It all appears very easy from the outside...we will see...we are not saying 'no' to you...", remarked the CJI.

[Case: Lok Prahari v. UOI]

Supreme Court Monthly Digest : October 2020

Supreme Court Monthly Digest : September 2020

Also Read :Good & Bad : 60 Important Supreme Court Judgments Of 2020





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