Saturday, December 22, 2018

Important Supreme Court Judgments Of 2018

Important Supreme Court Judgments Of 2018

The Year 2018 is about to end soon and it is time for a flashback into important happenings in the legal universe.
The year 2018 saw two CJIs- Former CJI Dipak Misra and the Current CJI Ranjan Gogoi. The constitution benches headed by Justice Misra, during his last month as CJI, delivered most of the significant judgments of this year- Sabarimala, Aadhaar, Homosexuality, Adultery, etc. The year ended with Rafale judgment by CJI Gogoi headed bench, which generated diverse responses in political circles.
Two provisions which criminalized Homosexuality and Adultery vanished from the penal statutes, when the Apex court ruled that both these acts are no longer criminal. The Supreme Court also recognised that to die with dignity is Fundamental Right by legalizing passive euthanasia. It also upheld Aadhaar program, though with riders.   Dissents penned by Justice Chandrachud in Aadhaar and Bhima Koregaon cases, and that of Justice Indu Malhotra in Sabarimala case, got widely debated.
It also turned to be a good year for Indian women. The Supreme Court allowed young women to enter Sabarimala, where they were not permitted for many centuries, in the name of custom and tradition. Justice Indu Malhotra became the first woman Judge to be elevated to Supreme Court directly from the Bar. It also witnessed the rarity of an all-women bench as Justice R Banumathi and Justice Indira Banerjee sat in Court No.12 on September 5 and 6.
In the coming year, we might be able to witness the Supreme Court proceedings without actually going there, as a petition seeking live streaming of court proceedings was allowed by the Apex Court.
Here is the List of 35 important Judgments delivered by the Supreme Court in 2018.

SABARIMALA

Devotion Cannot Be Subjected To Gender Discrimination, Women Entry Allowed In Sabarimala By 4:1 Majority; Lone Woman In The Bench Dissents
[Indian Young Lawyer’s Association & Ors. V. State of Kerala & Ors.]
The Supreme Court delivered one of the most keenly awaited judgment in Sabarimala case. by a 4:1 majority, the Court has permitted entry of women of all age groups to the Sabarimala temple, holding that ‘devotion cannot be subjected to gender discrimination’. The lone woman in the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, dissented.

HOMOSEXUALITY 

157-Year-Old Law Criminalizing Consensual Homo-Sexual Acts Between Adults Struck Down; Section 377 IPC Held Unconstitutional To That Extent
 [Navtej Singh Johar& Ors. V. Union of India]
In a landmark Judgment Supreme Court of India struck down 157 year old law which criminalizes consensual homo sexual acts between adults. The Five Judge Bench declared Section 377 IPC unconstitutional, insofar as it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private.

AADHAAR

Sections 33(2),47& 57 Of Aadhaar Act Struck Down; National Security Exception Gone; Private Entities Cannot Demand Aadhaar Data 
[Justice K. S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) and Anr V Union of India & Ors.]
The judgment authored by Justice AK Sikri, which has concurrence of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar, read down some of the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016, struck down a few but significant ones (mainly Section 33(2), 47 and 57), and upheld the rest.

ADULTERY 

‘Husband Is Not The Master Of Wife’, 158 Year Old Adultery Law Under Section 497 IPC Struck Down 
[Joseph Shine V. Union of India]
The Supreme Court struck down 158 year old Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes adultery, as unconstitutional. The Court however clarified that adultery will be a ground for divorce. It was also stated that if an act of adultery leads the aggrieved spouse to suicide, the adulterous partner could be prosecuted for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.

EUTHANASIA 

Right To Die With Dignity A Fundamental Right, Passive Euthanasia And Living Will Allowed, Guidelines Issued
[Common Cause (A Regd. Society) V. Union of India & Anr]
Supreme Court of India held that right to die with dignity is a fundamental right. The Bench also held that passive euthanasia and a living will also legally valid. The Court issued detailed guidelines in this regard. The Bench also held that the right to live with dignity also includes the smoothening of the process of dying in case of a terminally ill patient or a person in Persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

SC/ST RESERVATION IN PROMOTIONS

No Need To Collect Quantifiable Data Of Backwardness To Give Reservation In Promotions For SC/STs- Nagraj Decision Clarified; Reference To Larger Bench Declined
[Jarnail Singh v LachhmiNarain Gupta& Ors.]
A Five Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the 2006 Judgment in Nagraj Case, relating to reservations for SC/ST in promotions, need not be referred for consideration of larger Bench.However, the judgment by Justice Nariman clarified that there is no requirement to collect quantifiable data of backwardness of SC/STs to provide reservation in promotions. The dictum in Nagraj was held contrary to Indira Sawhney decision to the extent it prescribed collection of quantifiable data of backwardness as a prerequisite for providing reservation in promotions.

SECTION 498A IPC

SC Modifies The Earlier Directions Issued To Prevent Misuse Of 498A IPC, Says No To ‘Welfare Committees’
[Social Action Forum For Manav Adhikar  V. Union of India]
Supreme Court of India has modified its directions issued in  Rajesh Sharma case for preventing misuse of Section 498A of Indian Penal Code. A three judges’ bench led by CJI has withdrawn the earlier direction issued by a two judges bench that complaints under Section 498A IPC should be scrutinised by Family Welfare Committees before further legal action by police.

HADIYA 

‘Right To Change Of Faith Is Part Of Fundamental Right Of Choice’: 
[Shafin Jahan V. Ashokan K. M. & Ors]
The Supreme Court set aside the Kerala High Court judgment annulling the marriage between Hadiya and Shafin Jahan. The Apex Court quashed the High Court judgment in view of Hadiya’s statement during her personal appearance before the Court in November 2017, and opined that the High Court could not have annulled the marriage under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It, however, directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to continue with its investigation. Later, it gave detailed reasons for setting aside the High Court judgment.

AYODHYA

Observations In Ismail Faruqui Need To Be Viewed In Context Of Land Acquisition Proceedings; Not Relevant In Ayodhya Title Dispute
[M. Siddiq (D) THR LRS..Mahant Suresh Das & Ors.]
The Supreme Court by a 2:1 majority, refused to refer the Ayodhya-Ram Janmabhoomi land dispute case to a larger bench. While the majority judgment was authored by Justice Ashok Bhushan, for himself and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer delivered the dissenting opinion. The majority judgment clarified that the observations made in the Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui and Ors. Vs. Union of India and Ors. judgment, that mosque was not an integral part of Islam, have to be understood in the context of land acquisition proceedings.

LIVE STREAMING OF SC PROCEEDINGS

Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant: Live-Streaming Of Court Proceedings In Larger Public Interest Allowed 
[Swapnil Tripathi V. Supreme Court of India]
Supreme Court of India held that the Court proceedings shall be live-streamed in the larger public interest. The Bench has said that appropriate Rules in that regard will be framed soon under Article 145 of the Constitution of India.

 RAFALE

Petitions Seeking Probe In To Rafale Deal Dismissed
[Manohar Lal Sharma V. Narendra Damodar Das Modi & Ors.]
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a string of petitions seeking an independent probe into the 2015 Rafale deal, according it a clean chit in all respects- decision-making, pricing and procurement procedure. Stating that individual perception cannot influence the court into intervening, the bench clarified that the limits of judicial review in respect of defence procurements have to be determined upon a consideration of the individual facts and circumstances.

LYNCHING

Horrendous Acts Of Mobocracy Can’t Be Allowed Become New Norm: Lynching Incidents Condemned; Directions Issued 
[Tehseen S. Poonawalla V. Union of India & Ors.]
In a landmark judgment Supreme Court of India condemned the lynching incidents across the country. The Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm in the Country.

FIRECRACKERS

Complete Ban On Sale Of Firecrackers Refused; Online Sale Banned; Duration For Bursting Crackers Fixed 
[Arjun Gopal & Ors. V. Union of India & Ors.]
The Supreme Court ruled against imposing complete ban on firecrackers but has said that only less polluting green crackers can be sold, that too only through licensed traders. The Court has banned online sale of firecrackers, restraining e-commerce websites from carrying out its sale. The Court also fixed duration for bursting of crackers.

 VICTIM APPEAL AGAINST ACQUITTAL

Victim Can File Appeal Against Acquittal Without Seeking Leave To Appeal: SC, Justice Gupta Dissents
[Mallikarjun Kodagali (Dead) … vs The State Of Karnataka]
In a landmark judgment, A three Judge Bench comprising  Justice Madan B. Lokur ,Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Dipak Gupta held that a victim can file an appeal in the High Court against the acquittal without seeking leave to appeal.

 FORMER ISRO SCIENTIST NAMBI NARAYANAN

Rs 50 Lakh Compensation Granted To Former ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan, Committee Headed By Justice DK Jain To Inquire In To The Role Of Kerala Police Officers
[S. Nambi Narayanan V. Siby Mathews &Ors.]
Supreme Court of India granted Rupees 50Lakh compensation to former ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan. The Court has also constituted a committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice DK Jain to inquire in to the role of police officers in the conspiracy against him. The three Judge Bench has pronounced the Judgment in his petition for action against former top officials of Kerala Police who had allegedly subjected him to torture and illegal detention in connection with the infamous ISRO Espionage Case.

JUDGE LOYA DEATH CONTROVERSY

Petitions Seeking Probe Into The Death Of Judge Loya Dismissed
[TehseenPoonawalla V. Union of India & Anr.]
Supreme Court of India dismissed the petitions seeking independent probe into Judge Loya’s death. The Three-Judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar, was pronouncing the verdict in the string of writ petitions seeking an independent probe into the death of CBI special judge B. H. Loya.

LG VS DELHI GOVT

LG cannot interfere in each and every decision of the Delhi Government

[Govt. of NCT of Delhi V. Union of India & Anr.]
In a significant judgment, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the Lieutenant-General of the Delhi had to act as per the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers of Delhi Government except in matters of land, police and public order. It held that the LG cannot interfere in each and every decision of the Delhi Government. Although decisions of the Government have to be communicated to the LG, there is no need to obtain the concurrence of LG in all matters. The Court also held that Delhi was not a ‘State’, and occupied a special status under the Constitution.

STAY NOT MORE THAN SIX MONTHS

Stay In Civil/Criminal Proceedings Not To Be Granted Beyond Six Months; Further Extension Only By Speaking Order
[Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd.& Anr. VS. Central Bureau of Investigation]
In a very significant judgment, the Supreme Court directed that in all pending cases where stay against proceedings of a civil or criminal trial is operating, the same will come to an end on expiry of six months from today unless in an exceptional case by a speaking order such stay is extended. The Three-Judge Bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also held that where stay is granted in future, the same will end on the expiry of six months from the date of such order unless a similar extension is granted by a speaking order.

 GST VALIDITY

Constitutional Validity Of Goods And Services Tax (Compensation To States) Act, 2017 Upheld
[Union of India & Anr. V. Mohit Mineral Pvt. Ltd.]
The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of Goods And Services Tax (Compensation To States) Act, 2017, as well as the Goods and Services Tax Compensation Cess Rules, 2017, as framed under the Act. The verdict was delivered by a Bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

SC-ST ACT MISUSE

SC Issues Directions To Prevent Misuse Of SC/ST Act, Govt.Servants Can’t Be Arrested Without Prior Sanction 
[Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan V. State of Maharashtra & Anr.]
Supreme Court of India issued directions to prevent the misuse of provisions of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (SC/ST Act). A Two Judge Bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit was examining the question whether there can be procedural safeguards so that provisions of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (SC/ST) Act 1989 are not abused for extraneous considerations.

LAWMAKER LAWYERS

Can’t Restrict MPs And MLAs From Practicing Law
[Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay V. Union of India & Anr.]
Supreme Court dismissed the petition seeking a declaration that a person cannot be permitted to perform the dual role of a lawyer and a legislator (MP/MLA). The three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud was pronouncing the Judgment on a petition filed by BJP leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

DISQUALIFICATION OF CANDIDATES

Candidates Cannot Be Disqualified On Framing Of Charges In Criminal Case
[Public Interest Foundation & Ors. V. Union of India & Anr.]
The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that candidates cannot be disqualified merely because  charges have been framed against them in a criminal case. The bench urged the legislature to consider framing law to ensure decriminalisation of politics.The judgment came on petitions filed by BJP Leader AshwiniUpdhyaya, former CEC JM Lyngdoh& NGO, Public Interest Foundation by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice RF Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra.

MASTER OF ROSTER CJI

CJI Is The Master Of Roster: Shanti Bhushan’s Petition Dismissed
[Shanti Bhushan V. Supreme Court of India]
Dismissing the petition filed by Senior Advocate Santhi Bhushan seeking regulation of powers of the CJI in constituting benches and allocating cases, the Supreme Court asserted that CJI was the ‘Master of the Roster’.

NDPS INVESTIGATION OFFICER INFORMANT

Accused Entitled To Acquittal If Informant And Investigating Officer Is The Same Person
[Mohan Lal V. State of Punjab]
In a significant pronouncement, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court categorically held that the informant and the investigator in NDPS cases must not be the same person.

KATHUA

The Trial Of Kathua Rape And Murder Case Transferred To Pathankot Sessions Court, Punjab
[Mohd. Akhtar V. State of Jammu & Kashmir]
Supreme Court of India transferred the trial of rape and murder of a 8-year-old girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir to District and Sessions Court, Pathankot in Punjab.

NO BUNGALOWS FOR EX- CMS

Ex-CMs Not Entitled To Govt Bungalows
 [Lok Prahari V. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.]
Quashing an amendment made in a Uttar Pradesh state law to permit former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows, the Supreme Court in a significant ruling held that such a legislation is “arbitrary, discriminatory and unsupported by the Constitution”. The SC thereby struck down Section 4(3) of UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. The judgment meant that such laws passed by all states remain scrapped and no former Chief Ministers in India is entitled to government accommodation.

BHIMA KOREGAON

Not A Case Of Arrest For Dissent, Plea For SIT In BhimaKoregaon Case Turned Down By 2:1 Majority, Chandrachud.J Dissents
[Romila Thapar& Ors. Vs Union of India & Ors.]
The Supreme Court on Friday, in a majority judgment authored by Justice A. M. Khanwilkar on behalf of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and himself, declined the prayer for a SIT probe into the Bhima-Koregaon violence and the chain of events leading to it. The judgment was rendered on a PIL filed by historian RomilaThapar and four other eminent persons challenging the alleged-unlawful arrest on August 28 of five activists, namely, Gautam Navalakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, P. Varavara Rao and Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj. Subsequently, four of these accused have also filed a supplementary affidavit seeking impleadment before the apex court.

 FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Foreign Law Firms Can’t Set Up Office In India: Foreign Lawyers Can Advice Clients On ‘Fly in And Fly Out’ Basis
[Bar Council of India V. A. K. Balaji& Ors.]
Supreme Court of India held that foreign law firms cannot set up offices in India or practice in Indian Courts. But they can give advice to Indian clients on ‘fly in and fly out’ mode in temporary basis. The Bench also directed the Centre and BCI to frame rules. The Supreme Court bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice UU Lalit was delivering the Judgment in the foreign law firms case.

AMBIGUITY TAX EXEMPTION

Benefit of Ambiguity In Tax Exemption Notification Should Go In Favour Of Revenue Department
[Commissioner of Customs (Import), Mumbai vs. M/s. Dilip Kumar and Company]
In an important judgment in the realm of taxation laws the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled that exemption notifications should be interpreted strictly and that the burden of proving applicability would be on the assessee to show that his case comes within the parameters of the exemption clause or exemption notification.

DEFAULT BAIL

Accused Is Entitled To Default Bail Even If Charge Sheet Returned Due To Technical Reason, No Court Can Extend Remand Period U/S 167(2) Beyond 90 Days 
[Achpal @ Ramswaroop& Anr. V. State of Rajasthan]
A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday held that an accused is entitled to default bail under Section 167(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure even if the charge sheet filed by police was returned by the Magistrate for technical reasons. The Court also held that the provisions of the Code do not empower anyone to extend the period within which the investigation must be completed nor does it admit of any such eventuality.

 PROFESSIONAL COURT MANAGERS

SC Directs Appointment Of Professionally Qualified Court Managers In All Principal District And Sessions Courts For Better Court Administration
[All India Judges Association & Ors. V. Union of India & Ors.]
Lamenting how judicial infrastructure has been given relatively low importance with infrastructure in courts in interior parts of the country being on ventilator, the Supreme Court underlined some vital features which have to provide in all court complexes across India including court managers with MBA degree for ensuring efficient court administration in every judicial district.

 SLP AGAINST DEATH SENTENCE

SLP Against Death Sentence Shall Not Be Dismissed Without Giving Reasons
[BabasahebMarutiKamble V. State of Maharashtra]
The Supreme Court held that Special Leave Petitions filed in those cases where death sentence is awarded by the courts below, should not be dismissed without giving reasons, at least qua death sentence.The three judge bench comprising Justice AK Sikri, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Indira Banerjee has recently recalled two such orders in two different cases in which it had dismissed SLPs filed by the accused against imposition of death penalty.

LOW VISION MBBS

Persons With Low Vision Can’t Be Denied Reservation In Admission To MBBS Course
[PurswaniAshutosh V. Unionof India & Ors.]
In a decision with wide ramifications, the Supreme Court bench upheld the claim of a medical aspirant with “low vision” to be admitted in MBBS course in the category of persons with benchmark disability while holding that provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which consider low visibility as a benchmark disability are binding on the Medical Council of India.

WITNESS EXAMINATION IN CRIMINAL TRIAL

Directions Issued On Examination Of Witnesses In Criminal Trial
[State of Kerala V. Rasheed]
The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, listed out ‘practical guidelines’ to be followed by trial courts in the conduct of a criminal trial, ‘as far as possible’. While setting aside a Kerala High court order, the bench comprising of Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra observed that while deciding an Application to defer cross examination under Section 231(2) of the Cr.P.C. a balance must be struck between the rights of the accused, and the prerogative of the prosecution to lead evidence.

CAUVERY 

The State of Karnataka Directed to release 177.25 TMC of water, instead of the 192 TMC, to the state of Tamil Nadu
[State of Karnataka vs. State of Tamil Nadu]
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice, in its judgement on the Cauvery Water Dispute between the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the UT of Puducherry, partially allowing the appeal preferred by the state of Karnataka in 2007 against the order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. The bench directed the state of Karnataka to release 177.25 TMC of water, instead of the 192 TMC, to the state of Tamil Nadu.

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