There is no dull day in the Courts of India. Whether it is the Apex Court or the High Courts, a number of judgments are passed which are important for students of law, not only for academic reasons but also for a surprise question that might come your way because you are supposed to know these things. We have compiled some of the important judgments of the month of February in one place to make it easier and more accessible for you.
Judgments of February 2023
Bar Council of India v. Bonnie Foi Law College & Ors.
(Validity of All India Bar Examination)
Facts: In the year 2010, Bar Council of India introduced All India Bar Examination (AIBE). The first set of rules came in the same time. Later on, the Bar Council framed the ‘Certificate of Practice and Renewal Rules, 2014’ which made it mandatory for advocates enrolled after June 2010 to appear for AIBE to get Certificate of Practice. The Bar Council Certificate of Practice (Verification) Rules came in 2015 dividing advocates in two classes, practicing and non-practicing.
These Rules were challenged on the basis that they go against the decisions of V. Sudheer and Indian Council of Legal Aid and Advice. The Supreme Court in these decisions held that imposition of Rules by Bar Council goes against the Advocates Act, 1961 and the advocates have the right to practice before all courts.
On March 2016, a three Judge Bench observed that the right to practice law is a fundamental right for LLB graduates but referred the challenge to AIBE to a Constitution Bench.
Judgment: The Constitution Bench, on February 10, 2023, held that the Bar Council of India has to see at which stage the AIBE should be conducted, pre or post enrolment. Upholding its validity, the Apex Court also observed that the judgment of V Sudheer, which dealt with the powers of Bar Council of India does not lay down the correct position of law and cannot be sustained.
Union of India v. Indian Navy Civilian Design Officers Association and Anr.
(Educational qualifications justify reasonable classification under Article 14)
Facts: In an appeal by the Union of India, the judgement of High Court of Delhi was challenged where the High Court dismissed the Writ Petition filed by the Union and confirmed the order of Central Administrative Tribunal. The Tribunal had given the order of increasing the pay scale of Junior Design Officers (JDOs) to meet that of Civilian Technical Officers (CTOs). The question that was raised in the case before Supreme Court was whether equating the posts of JDOs with CTOs, as ordered by the Tribunal and accepted by the High Court, was justified or not? And whether fixing equivalent pay scales for these posts, even when it is a settled position of Courts to not interfere on matters which are best suited for expert bodies, was justified?
Judgment: The division bench, on February 22, 2023, held that “equal pay for equal work” is not mechanically applicable in every case. It depends on the quality and characteristics of persons and can be treated as reasonable classification under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The Apex Court set aside the orders passed by the High Court of Delhi and Central Administrative Tribunal and observed that the powers of judicial review on matters concerning financial implications are very limited and the High Court and Tribunal committed gross error in interfering when pay scales has been recommended by the Pay Commission.
Indrajit Das v State of Tripura
(Extra-judicial confession, a weak piece of evidence)
Facts: The appeal in the present case was filed to challenge the correctness of an order passed by the High Court of Tripura. The High Court had confirmed the conviction of the appellant ordered by the Trial Court, under Section 302, 34 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code. The Prosecution had contended that the appellant along with another accused had confessed before the Investigation Officer that they were with the deceased on the evening when the deceased went missing. At the trial, the appellant pleaded not guilty but was later convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. While dismissing the appeal, the High Court of Tripura stated that the case of the prosecution has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Judgment: While allowing the appeal, the division bench of Supreme Court, on February 28, 2023, held that extra judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence, more so when it is retracted during trial. The Court also pointed out that the prosecution failed to establish the motive behind the crime and while it plays an important role in direct evidence, it plays more important role in cases of circumstantial evidence. The Apex Court acquitted the appellant of all charges.
Bhawna v Bhay Ram and Ors.
(No onerous conditions on cases under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005)
Facts: The appellant in this case had filed a complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The appellants’ right to produce evidence was closed during trial which resulted in rejection of her complaint. On appeal, the Appellate Court directed the trial court to allow the appellant to lead evidence after paying Rs. 20,000/-. This order was challenged by the appellant in the High Court of Delhi which then reduced the amount to Rs. 10,000. This order of the High Court was challenged in the present appeal.
Judgment: The division bench of Supreme Court, on February 17, while setting aside the order of Appellate Court and High Court of Delhi, observed that it is not open for the Courts to put onerous conditions on cases of domestic violence.
Sureshkumar Lalitkumar Patel and Ors. v State of Gujrat and Ors.
(Reduction in cut-off marks post results violative of Article 14)
Facts: The Gujrat Government, for the post of Supervisor Instructor, decided to treat the horizontal reservation as vertical reservation. Instead of filling up the vacancy by other suitable candidates, the Gujrat Government reduced the cut-off marks for those candidates who belonged to the horizontal reservation. Those aggrieved by the move challenged it in the High Court of Gujrat which dismissed the appeal. The order of High Court was then challenged in the Supreme Court through this Special Leave Petition.
Judgment: The division bench, on February 20, 2023, held that reducing the cut-off marks to provide employment to a particular category, that too after publication of results, is violative of Article 14. The Court observed that the cut-off marks are fixed considering the marks required for a particular post according to the eligibility of the candidate, which could not be reduced.
Harsh Ajay Singh v. Union of India & Ors.
(Constitutional Validity of Agnipath Scheme)
Facts: A number of Writ Petitions were filed though out India challenging the constitutional validity of the Agnipath Scheme (Scheme) introduced by the Ministry of Defence, Union of India. A bunch of these petitions, some transferred, also challenged the prejudice that has been caused to them due to the introduction of the Scheme, as they were shortlisted but have not been appointed due to the Scheme. Then some challenged it on both grounds, the constitutional validity and the prejudice caused due to the Scheme.
The Scheme is for recruitment of personnels for the armed forces for 4 years. The age limit of 17.5 years to 21 years is set as eligibility criteria and the training period of 6 months is provided for the Scheme. According to the Scheme, a time period of 3.5 years is there to serve the armed forces after which 25% will be retained as soldiers and the rest will return to live a civilian life.
Judgment: The division bench of Delhi High Court, on February 27, 2023 held that the scheme is not arbitrary or devoid of reason. The court also observed that the scheme was created keeping national interest in mind. Dismissing the petitions, the Court held that “promissory estoppel and legitimate expectation cannot be applied in the instant case to force the Government to complete the recruitment keeping in mind larger public interest.”
Sr. Sephy v CBI
(Virginity test on accused violative Article 21)
Facts: In the present case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the petitioner as being one of the accused in a murder case. She was in the custody of the CBI for investigation when the investigating agency subjected her to a virginity test without her consent. The test was conducted in the name of investigation.
Judgment: The High Court of Delhi, on February 7, 2023, observed that during the pendency of the petition, which was filed in the year 2009, a number of judgements were passed that dealt with the constitutional validity of ‘virginity’ or ‘two-finger’ test declaring it unconstitutional. While holding it violative of Article 21, the Court observed that “virginity test is neither modern nor scientific, rather archaic and irrational. Modern science and medical law disapprove the conduct of such tests on women.”
If you are appearing for any exam of law, be it for under graduate, post graduate or any other competitive ones out there, you will need these judgements. It is always suggested to learn as much as you can about important judgements. Hoping that this recap will help you in your preparation, for academic reasons, as well as those surprise questions that might come your way.