Here is a compilation of major Supreme Court decisions of February, 2020.
The Supreme Court upheld the Madhya Pradesh Labour Laws (Amendment) and Misc. Provisions Act, 2002, which restored the power to try offences under labour laws on the regular Criminal Courts.
(Case name: State of MP vs. M.P.TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDN.
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO.4658/2009
Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph)
If a particular date of birth is entered in the service register of an employee, a change sought cannot be entertained at the fag end of service, the Supreme Court reiterated.
Case name: Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. vs. Shyam Kishore Singh
Case no .: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1009 OF 2020
Coram: Justices R. Banumathi and AS Bopanna
The Supreme Court observed that a compromise decree does not require registration if it does not take in property that is not the subject-matter of the suit.
Case name: MOHAMMADE YUSUF vs. RAJKUMAR
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO.800 OF 2020
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah
The Supreme Court reiterated that bar of Order II Rule 2 of the Civil Procedure Code may not apply to a writ petitions.
"The bar of O.2 R. 2 of the Civil Procedure Code on which the High Court apparently relied may not apply to a petition for a high prerogative writ under Art. 226 of the Constitution, but the High Court having disallowed the claim of the appellant for salary prior to the date of the suit, we do not think that we would be justified in interfering with the exercise of its discretion by the High Court.", the Court said.
Case name: BRAHMA SINGH vs. UNION OF INDIA
Case no.: WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 59 OF 2019
Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta
The Supreme Court observed that the beneficiaries of the policy taken out by the insured are also 'consumers' under the Consumer Protection Act, even if they are not parties to the contract of insurance.
Case name: CANARA BANK vs. UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1042 OF 2020
Coram: Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta
There can be no review of an order passed in review petition, the Supreme Court remarked while dismissing an application filed by NGO Lok Prahari to recall the order passed in review petition.
Case Name : Lok Prahari vs Union of India
Case No : I.A No. 156831/2019 in WP(c) No. 330/2016
Coram : Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari
The Supreme Court observed that it is mandatory on the part of the plaintiff in a Specific Performance Suit to prove that he has the means to generate the consideration amount.
"Mere plea that he is ready to pay the consideration, without any material to substantiate this plea, cannot be accepted.", the Court said.
Case name: C.S. VENKATESH vs. A.S.C. MURTHY (D)
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8425 OF 2009
Coram: Justices Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta
The Supreme Court has observed that the prosecution of a person on the basis of a second FIR is not sustainable if its substratum is same as that of the first FIR.
Case name: PREM CHAND SINGH vs. STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 237 OF 2020
Coram: Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari
The Supreme Court has reiterated that a counter-claim cannot be filed after the issues are framed.
The Court, while dismissing a Special Leave Petition, which raised this sole legal issue, referred to its last year judgment in Ashok Kumar Kalra vs. Wing Cdr. Surendra Agnihotri.
Case name: ASHOK KUMAR KALRA vs. WING CDR SURENDRA AGNIHOTRI
Case no.: SLP(C) No(s). 23599/2018
Coram: Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and S. Ravindra Bhat
The 9-judge bench of the Supreme Court has held that a bench can refer questions of law to larger bench even in review jurisdiction.
Case Name : Kantararu Rajeevaru and others vs Indian Young Lawyers Association and others
Case No : Review Petition No. 3358/2018
Corma : CJI SA Bobde, Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageshwara Rao, Mohan Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.
The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018, which was enacted to nullify the effects of the March 20, 2018 judgment of the SC which had diluted the provisions of the Act.
Case Name : Prathvi Raj Chouhan vs Union of India
Case No : WP(c) No. 1018/2018
Coram : Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran, Ravindra Bhat
The Supreme Court has reiterated that settlement between victim and the accused cannot be a valid ground to quash the FIR. or the charge sheet when the offences alleged are against society and not private in nature.
Case no.: Arun Singh vs. State of UP
Case no.: Cri. Appeal 250 of 2020
Coram: Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari
The Supreme Court has observed that a condition in the gift deed that the donee shall not alienate the subject property is a void condition as per Section 10 of the Transfer of Property Act.
Case name: SRIDHAR vs. N. REVANNA
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO.1209 OF 2020
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha
The Supreme Court has observed that a cheque bounce complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act cannot be quashed when disputed questions of facts are involved.
Case Name: RAJESHBHAI MULJIBHAI PATEL vs. STATE OF GUJARAT
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 251-252 OF 2020
Coram: Justices R. Banumathi and AS Bopanna
There is no presumption that a decision taken by persons occupying high posts is valid, remarked the Apex Court.
"The judicial scrutiny of a decision does not depend on the rank or position held by the decision maker", the Court said.
Case name: BRIG. NALIN KUMAR BHATIA vs. UNION OF INDIA
Case no.: Civil Appeal No .5751 of 2017
Coram: Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta
The Supreme Court has held today that Criminal Proceedings cannot be quashed on the basis of statements recorded before Police officials in terms of Section 161 CrPc.4
"The conclusion of the High Court to quash the criminal proceedings is on the basis of its assessment of the statements recorded under Section 161 CrPC. Statements of witnesses recorded under Section 161 CrPC being wholly inadmissible in evidence cannot be taken into consideration by the Court", the Court said.
Case Name : Rajeev Kourav vs Baisahab and others
Case No : Criminal Appeal No.232/2020
Coram : Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta
Acknowledging the historic importance of Hampi heritage site, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the demolition of unauthorized constructions in Virupapura Gaddi, an oval islet formed by Tungabhadra river on the west of Hampi.
Title : Sakkubai and others vs State of Karnataka and others
Case No. : Civil Appeal 1443-1446/2020.
Bench : Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and R Subhash Reddy
The conduct of a plaintiff is very crucial in a suit for specific performance, observed the Supreme Court while dismissing a civil appeal
Case name: Atma Ram vs. Charanjit Singh
Case no.: SLP (C) No.27598 of 2016
Coram: Justice NV Ramana and Justice V. Ramasubramanian
"We make it clear that the Juvenile Justice Boards are not meant to be silent spectators and pass orders only when a matter comes before them. They can take note of the factual situation if it comes to the knowledge of the JJBs that a child has been detained in prison or police lock up. It is the duty of the JJBs to ensure that the child is immediately granted bail or sent to an observation home or a place of safety. The Act cannot be flouted by anybody, least of all the police", the Court observed.
Case Title: In Re: Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in State of Tamil Nadu v. Union of India
Case No.: WP (Crl) No. 102/2007
The Supreme Court has observed that a petition filed by a wife under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure who was earlier granted permanent alimony under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, cannot be entertained.
Case name: RAKESH MALHOTRA vs. KRISHNA MALHOTRA
Case no.: Criminal Appeal No(s).246-247/2020
Coram: Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Vineet Saran
The Supreme Court has observed a judgment of a First Appellate Court has to set out points for determination, record the decision thereon and give its own reasons.
Case name: MALLURU MALLAPPA(D) vs. KURUVATHAPPA
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1485 OF 2020
Coram: Justices S.Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna
Taking note of "alarming" rise of criminalization of politics, the Supreme Court directed that all political parties to publish the details of criminal antecedents of their candidates in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls within 48 hours of selection of the candidate or within two weeks of nomination, whichever is earlier.
The information should be published in local newspapers, and uploaded in official websites and social media handles of the parties. Information should contain the nature of crime and stage of trial/investigation.
Case Name : Rambabu Singh Thakur vs Sunil Arora and others
Case No : Contempt Petition No. 2192/2018 in WP(c) 536/2011
Coram : Justices R F Nariman and Ravindra Bhat
The Supreme Court has reiterated that when an accused is unrepresented before a Court, it has to either appoint an Amicus curiae or to refer the matter to the Legal Services Committee requesting it to appoint an advocate.
Case name: SHAIK MUKTHAR vs. THE STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(S). 1753/2019
Coram : Justices Mohan M. Shanthanagoudar and R.Subhash Reddy.
The Supreme Court has observed that the relevant date for the determination of compensation payable under Employee's Compensation Act 1923 is the date of the accident.
The bench of Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ajay Rastogi observed that the benefit of 2009 amendment of the Act which had deleted the provision that capped the monthly wages of an employee at Rs 4,000 does not apply to accidents that took place prior to its coming into force.
Case name: K Sivaraman vs.P Sathishkumar
Case no.: Civil Appeal No. 9046 of 2019
Coram: Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi
"Awards must always be read supportively with an inclination to uphold rather than destroy, given the minimal interference possible with foreign awards under Section 48"
The Judgment rendered by a Three-Judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices R.F. Nariman, Aniruddha bose & V. Ramasubramanan, has emphasized that section 48(1)(b) of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (referred to hereinafter as The "Act") cannot be given an expansive meaning.
Case Name : Vijay Karia and others vs Prysmian Cavi E Sistemi SRL and others
Case No : Civil Appeal No. 1544 of 2020
The Supreme Court has held that the conviction of an accused in Rape Cases cannot be done on the basis of sole testimony of the Prosecutrix unless she passes the test of "Sterling Witness".
The Judgment rendered by a Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan & M.R. Shah has held that in order to convict an accused on the basis of solitary evidence of the Prosecutrix, the evidence must be absolutely trustworthy, unblemished and of sterling quality.
Case Name : Santosh Prasad @ Santosh Kumar vs State of Bihar
Case No : Criminal Appeal No. 264/2020
The Supreme Court has observed that defence of the accused that the cheques were given by way of security is not believable in absence of further evidence to rebut the presumption.
The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah reiterated that, once the issuance of the cheque has been admitted and even the signature on the cheque has been admitted, there is always a presumption in favour of the complainant that there exists legally enforceable debt or liability and thereafter it is for the accused to rebut such presumption by leading evidence.
Case name: APS FOREX SERVICES PVT. LTD. vs. SHAKTI INTERNATIONAL FASHION LINKERS
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 271 OF 2020 J
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah
The Supreme Court has observed that an arbitration clause in an agreement which is required to be duly stamped, was not sufficiently stamped, cannot be acted upon by the Court.
Case name: M/S DHARMARATNAKARA RAI BAHADUR ARCOT NARAINSWAMY MUDALIAR CHATTRAM & OTHER CHARITIES vs. M/S BHASKAR RAJU & BROTHERS
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL No. 1599 OF 2020
Coram: CJI SA Bobde, Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant
The Supreme Court has observed that the findings of disciplinary inquiry cannot be interfered only on the ground that there are discrepancies in the evidence against the delinquent.
The bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Hemant Gupta observed that, once the evidence has been accepted by the departmental authority, in exercise of power of judicial review, the Tribunal or the High Court could not interfere with the findings of facts recorded by re-appreciating evidence as if the Courts are the Appellate Authority.
Case name: STATE OF KARNATAKA vs. N. GANGARAJ
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8071 OF 2014
Coram: Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Hemant Gupta.
In a significant judgment on gender equality, the Supreme Court directed that Permanent Commission should be granted to women in the army regardless of their service, in all the ten streams where the Union Government has already taken a decision to grant Short Service Commission to women. The Court also held that absolute exclusion of women from command assignments is against Article 14 of the Constitution and unjustified. Therefore, the policy that women will be given only "staff appointments" was held to be unenforceable by the Court.
The notions that women are the "weaker" sex and may not undertake tasks that are "too arduous‟ for them are constitutionally flawed, observed the Supreme Court, in its judgment which held that the absolute exclusion of women from Command Appointments In Army is Illegal. The bench comprising Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ajay Rastogi observed that to cast aspersion on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army – men and women – who serve as equal citizens in a common mission.
The Supreme Court has observed that the parental responsibility of the couple does not end even if there is a breakdown of the marriage. In a custody battle, no matter which parent wins but the child is always the loser and it is the children who pay the heaviest price as they are shattered when the Court by its judicial process tells them to go with the parent whom he or she deems, remarked the bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi while considering a civil appeal in a matrimonial case.
The Supreme Court has observed that the right to pension is covered under a right to property protected under Article 300A of the Constitution of India and it cannot be taken away by a mere executive fiat or administrative instruction. The issue considered by the bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Indu Malhotra in this appeal was whether the State of Bihar was justified in withholding 10% pension and full gratuity of its employee under Circulars, and Government Resolution issued by it, on the ground of pending criminal proceedings?
The Supreme Court observed that the High Courts should continuously recommend names for judicial appointments in anticipation of vacancies, regardless of the pendency of the earlier recommendations. A bench comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said that there should be a "continuing process" of recommending names without waiting for the results of earlier recommendations.
The Supreme Court held that civil judges are not eligible to seek direct recruitment to post of District Judges in bar quota. Eligibility under Article 233(2) of the Constitution requires 7 years of continuous practice. "Only practising candidates can avail the quota. It is exclusively for them", Justice Arun Mishra, dictating the order, said. "Article 233(2) nowhere provides eligibility of in-service candidates for consideration as a District Judge concerning a post requiring 7 years' practise as an advocate or a pleader. The requirement of 7 years' experience for advocate or pleader is qualified with a rider that he should not be in the service of the Union or the State", the Court said in the judgment.
Electricity Supply Cannot Be Disconnected For Recovery Of Additional Demand Raised After Expiry Of Two Years Limitation Period [Assistant Engineer (D1), Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd. & Anr. v. Rahmatullah Khan]
The Supreme Court held that the licensee company cannot take recourse to the coercive measure of disconnection of electricity supply, for recovery of the additional demand raised after the expiry of two years limitation period. The bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Indu Malhotra observed that the Section 56(2) of the Electricity Act does not preclude the licensee company from raising an additional or supplementary demand after the expiry of the limitation period under Section 56(2) in the case of a mistake or bona fide error.
In the judgment holding that in-service judicial officers are not eligible to apply for direct recruitment to the post of District Judges, the Supreme Court observed that the experience of a successful lawyer at the bar cannot be considered as less important than that of a judicial officer. Quoting from the SC decision in P. Ramakrishnan Raju v. Union of India and Ors., (2014) the Court said that "experience and knowledge gained by a successful lawyer at the Bar can never be considered to be less important from any point of view visàvis the experience gained by a judicial officer".
The Supreme Court held that a Magistrate who passes an order on settlement between parties under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has the power to recall or set aside the Order if terms of the same are violated, and Section 362 of CrPC does not function as a bar on the same. The Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy took into consideration the legislative scheme behind the promulgation of Section 362 of the CrPC by breaking down the Section.
In the PNB-Nirav Modi scam, the Supreme Court granted relief to Usha Ananthasubramanian, former MD & CEO of Punjab National Bank, by setting aside the order passed by NCLT by which her assets were frozen. In the case regarding mismanagement of Gitanjali Gems Ltd run by Nirav Modi, the National Company Law Tribunal had passed an order restraining several individuals, including Usha Ananthasubramanian, from disposing of their assets and from withdrawing more than One Lakh rupees per month towards personal expenses. This order passed exercising powers under Section 241 read with 337 and 339 of the Companies Act 2013 was approved by NCLAT as well.
The Supreme Court observed that a marriage contracted during the pendency of an appeal from a divorce decree is not ab initio void especially when such an appeal is filed after expiry of the period of limitation. In this case, a maintenance petition filed by a wife was dismissed on the grounds that the marriage was a nullity because the marriage had taken place while an appeal filed by her against a decree of dissolution of marriage with her first husband was still pending. The issue considered by the Apex Court was whether the second marriage performed during the pendency of an appeal from a decree of divorce a nullity, even though there was no stay of operation of the decree.
The Supreme Court has upheld All-India National Eligibility cum Entrance Test ('NEET') for admission to AYUSH Under Graduate courses like BAMS, BUMS, BSMS and BHMS. The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Deepak Gupta also observed that the minimum standards cannot be lowered even for AYUSH courses. The bench also referred to the judgment in Veterinary Council of India v. Indian Council of Agricultural Research in which it was held that the Veterinary Council of India is authorized to frame regulations prescribing the standards of veterinary education and such power includes the power to make Regulations relating to grant of admissions and veterinary qualifications.
The Supreme Court held that clubbing of Self-financed educational institutions (SFEIs) with commercial service providers for the purposes of fixing electricity tariffs higher than Government-run & aided educational institutions was legally justifiable in terms of the Electricity Act, 2003 ("2003 Act"). The central issue in the instant case was whether under the 2003 Act, the differentiation of SFEIs from the other set of educational institutions for the purpose of fixing of the tariff was arbitrary discrimination and antithetical to principles of natural justice. Rendered by a Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta & Aniruddha Bose, the Judgment held that a tariff fixing body was not required to proceed solely on the basis of the "nature of service" rendered by the Institution while fixing tariffs.
The Supreme Court observed that the rebuttal of presumption available under Section 139 of the Negotiable Instruments Act can only be done after adducing evidence. The bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph agreed with the High Court view that rebuttal of presumption cannot be looked into at the stage of the Court taking cognizance of the offense. Expressing its 'full agreement' with the view adopted by the High Court, the bench added that the rebuttal can be made with reference to the evidence of the prosecution as well as of defence.
The Supreme Court referred to a larger bench the issue whether Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure mandates a preliminary inquiry and an opportunity of hearing to the would-be accused before a complaint is made under Section 195 of the Code by a Court?
The bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar also referred the question on the scope and ambit of such preliminary inquiry.
The Supreme Court upheld the order of National Company Law Tribunal which cancelled the mortgages made by Jaypee Infratech Ltd (JIL) to secure the debts of its holding company Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL).
The NCLT Ahmedabad bench had allowed the application filed by Interim Resolution Professional(appointed for JIL CIRP) seeking avoidance of these mortgage transactions, which pertained to nearly 758 acres of land, as being "preferential, undervalued and fraudulent", in terms of Sections 43, 45 and 66 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
Title : Anuj Jain Interim Resolution Professional for Jaypee Infratech Ltd v Axis Bank Ltd and others
Case No : Civil Appeals No. 8512-8527 of 2019
Coram : Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari
The Supreme Court summed up the law on the subject of compulsory retirement of Judicial officers.
The bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta observed that 'washed off' theory does not apply in the case of adverse entries with regard to integrity of Judicial Officers.
Case name: ARUN KUMAR GUPTA vs. STATE OF JHARKHAND
Case no.: WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 190 OF 2018
Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta
The Supreme Court came down heavily on the advocates in the districts of Dehradun, Hardwar and Udham Singh Nagar in the State of Uttarakhand for holding strike by boycotting courts.
The SC also noted that despite directions in precedents such as Ex-Capt. Harish Uppal v. Union of India, lawyers' strikes were happening. In this backdrop, suo moto notices were issued to the Bar Council of India and State Bar Councils to suggest the further course of action and to give concrete suggestions to deal with the problem of strikes/abstaining the work by the lawyers.
Title : District Bar Association, Dehradun through its Secretary vs Ishwar Shandilya and others
Case No : SLP(c) No. 5440/2020
Coram : Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah
The Supreme Court has observed that the suits with the basic relief of challenging the decree passed by the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) are not maintainable.
Case name: Canara Bank vs. P. Selathal
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NOS.18631864 OF 2020
Coram: Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and MR Shah