The Supreme Court of India has once again proved to be the guardian of justice in the country during one of the most tragic and surprising year as it not only adopted to the online mode by enhancing e-courts programs but also ensured that justice was delivered on time regarding important issues of the country. Let us have a look at the most important cases decided in the year 2020-
- Rambabu Singh Thakur Vs. Sunil Arora (2020)
Supreme Court directed the Political Parties to publish pending criminal cases of selected candidates.
Bench: Justices R.F. Nariman, S. Ravindra Bhat.
In this case, the Supreme Court bench of Justice R.F. Nariman and Ravindra Bhat were dealing with the issues of increasing criminalization of politics in India and lack of such information amongst the citizens.
The Supreme Court observed that the political parties are not offer any explanation as to why persons with pending criminal cases are being selected as candidates to contest elections. In view of this, the Court gave various directions to political parties both at the Central and State election level-
- The Court made it mandatory for political parties to upload in their website the detailed information of candidates along with pending criminal cases against them.
- The political parties must mention the reasons for selecting candidates and also as to why other individuals, who did not have any criminal antecedents could not be selected.
- The Court also directed that the reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the qualifications and merits of the candidate, and not merely winning-ability.
- The information shall be published on a local and national newspaper and on the official social media platforms of the political party.
- The political party shall submit a report of with the Election Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said candidate.
- S. Kasi Vs. State through The Inspector of Police (2020)
Suo Moto Extension of Limitation Period during Covid-19 shall not affect the right of Accused to be released on default bail.
Bench: Justice Ashok Bhushan, M.R. Shah and V. Ramasubramaniam.
In this case, the Appellant’s default bail application under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C. was rejected by the Trial Court which was appealed to the High Court of Madras. The High Court held that since Supreme Court in Settu Vs. The State had ordered for extension of limitation period in view of Covid-19, it shall also cover the time prescribed under Section 167(2) and therefore period required for filing of charge-sheet shall also be extended. In this way, the High Court of Madras dismissed the default bail application of appellant. This order was appealed before Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, M.R. Shah and V. Ramasubramaniam, observed that the High Court of Madras has taken an erroneous view of Settu Vs. The State. It held that the order passed in Settu regarding extension of limitation period is not applicable in period mentioned under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C. and shall not restrict the right of default bail of accused. The Court allowed the appeal and released the appellant on default bail.
- Vineeta Sharma Vs. Rakesh Sharma (2020)
Daughters shall have Coparcenary rights irrespective of whether their Father was not alive when Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into force.
Bench: Justices Arun Mishra, M.R. Shah and Abdul Nazeer.
There was a conflict in interpretation of Section 6 of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. Section 6 after amendment in year 2005, conferred equal rights on daughters as same as that of sons i.e. full coparcenary rights were given to the daughters. This Amendment Act was enacted on November 9, 2005. However, Section 6 conferred coparcenary rights on daughters by birth, due to this, a question arose as to whether a daughter born before 2005 will get the coparcenary rights or not. Another question that arose was whether daughter and father both must be alive in order to effectuate the provisions of the amended Section?
The 3-judge bench of Supreme Court held that the amended provision i.e. Section 6 confers status of coparcener on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as son with same rights and liabilities. It also held that since the coparcenary right is by birth, it is not mandatory that father coparcener should be living as on November 9, 2005.
This case also overruled the judgment passed in Phulvati Vs. Prakash and Dannmma Vs. Amar. It ruled that the provisions of Section 6 are neither prospective nor retrospective; sbut is retroactive in nature. Retroactive means, the equal right of coparcenary will be given to daughter from November 9, 2005 but it is based upon a past event i.e. the birth of the daughter. The effects are retroactive as if the daughter was never born, then the rights would not even exist in the first place.
- Abhilasha Vs. Prakash & Ors. (2020)
Unmarried Daughter Supreme Court directed the Political Parties to publish pending criminal cases of selected candidates.
Bench: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah.
In this case, the Appellant, when she was a minor had filed an application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. in which the claim to Appellant was granted only till the time she attains majority. This order of limiting the maintenance till attaining majority was also maintained by High Court.
The main issue considered by Supreme Court was whether a Hindu unmarried daughter is entitled to claim maintenance from her father under Section 125 Cr.P.C. only till she attains majority or she can claim maintenance till she remains unmarried? Another contention of Appellant was that if she is not suffering from any physical or mental abonormality, she is entitled to claim maintenance till she is unmarried by virtue of Section 20 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.
The Supreme Court observed that the purpose and object of Section 125 Cr.P.C. is to provide immediate relief to applicant in a summary proceedings, whereas right under Section 20 read with Section 3(b) of Act, 1956 contains larger right, which needs determination by a Civil Court, hence for the larger claims as enshrined under Section 20, the proceedings need to be initiated under Section 20 of the Act.
The Court, dismissed the appeal, however, it gave liberty to Appellant that unmarried Hindu daughter can claim maintenance from her father till she is married relying on Section 20(3) of the Act, 1956, provided she pleads and proves that she is unable to maintain herself, for enforcement of which right her application/suit has to be under Section 20 of Act, 1956.
- Anuradha Bhasin Vs. Union of India (2020)
Internet as Fundamental Right
Bench: N.V. Ramana, V. Ramasubramanian
On August 4, 2019 all online communications were shut down & the government had announced a ban of Internet in Jammu and Kashmir. The District Magistrates imposed additional restrictions on freedoms of movement and public assembly under Sec. 144 of CrPC and also restricted ability of journalists to travel and to publish violating right to freedom of expression. Soon the Government started imposing restrictions on freedom of movement and online communication.
The issue raised in this case was:
- Whether the Government's action of forbidding internet access valid?
- Whether the imposition of restrictions under Section 144, CrPC were valid?
The apex court while hearing this matter has decided that Freedom of speech and expression through internet, and freedom to practise any profession, occupation, trade and commerce through internet is a fundamentally guaranteed right, under Art. 19(1)(a) and Art 19(1) (g) of Indian Constitution.
The court also added that indefinite suspension of internet is not permissible, and banning the internet repeatedly by order under section 144 Cr.P.C., is abuse of power.
- Prithviraj Chauhan Vs. Union of India (2020)
The constitutional validity of SC/ST Act, 1989.
Bench– Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran, S. Ravindra Bhat
In this case the three-judge bench of SC had upheld the Constitutional validity of provision mentioned under section 18-A of “The Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018” and had nullified the effect of Kashinath Mahajan case.
The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an Act to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities in opposition to the participants of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Special Courts was enacted on 11th September 1989 for the trial of such offences and for the relaxation and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences. The Act does not have anticipatory bail provision for offences registered beneath it.
The SC in this case observed that while considering any application seeking pre-arrest bail, High Court had to balance two interests: i.e. that power was not so used as to convert jurisdiction into that under Section 438 Code. No anticipatory bail to be given for offences under SC/ST Amendment Act.
- Secretary, Ministry of Defence Vs. Babita Puniya (2020)
Permanent Commission for Women in Navy and Army.
Bench: Hon'Ble Dr. Chandrachud, Hemant Gupta
The provisions of section 12 of The Army Act, 1950, prohibited the recruitment of females into Army except and to extent that central government allows. The central issue of this case was, weather women should be granted a permanent commission in Indian Army?
The bench observed that, It was a clear violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 of Indian constitution. Also keeping in mind restrictions of Fundamental Rights in Army, through Article 33, was to be restricted only to an extent which was necessary to ensure proper discharge of duty and discipline. The bench duly granted for a permanent commission for women in the Indian Army.
- Internet and Mobile Association Vs. RBI (2020)
RBI’s band on trading in crypto-currency quashed.
Bench: Rohinton Fali Nariman, Aniruddha Bose V. Ramasubramanian
RBI first issued ban on its banks dealing with crypto currency banking business, and later proposed a bill on banning of crypto currency and regulation of official digital currency bill.
The petitioner contended that Reserve Bank of India lacked jurisdictions to disallow the trade of virtual currency and cryptocurrencies are not a kind of currency note or coin but a medium of exchange or a store of value.
Supreme court while hearing this matter has decided that; banning of digital currency is unconstitutional as it violates the right of freedom to practise any trade and profession guaranteed under article 19(1) (g) of Indian constitution.
The court also observed that although, RBI had power to take note of and deal with virtual currencies but, prohibiting the same is to be considered as excessive measure as it cut off the life time of Virtual currencies which can otherwise be a legitimate trade.
- Shri Chand Construction and Apartments Pvt. Ltd. v. Tata Capital Housing Finance Ltd. (2020)
Bench: Justice Hima Kohli, Justice Subramonium Prasad
In this case, the plaintiff had brought an action against the defendant for recovery of damages. The defendant however, failed to file its written statement within the prescribed time period and, therefore, the court held that the right of the defendant to file written statement was closed.
However, upon appeal, the Division Bench granted the defendant further time to file its written statement.
The Court held that the use of words "all or certain disputes" in Section 7 of the Act allows classification of disputes but do not permit classification of claims.
It was further ruled that once the time for filing written statement has been extended then the time for filing the application under section 8 of the Arbitration Act also stands extended.
- Mukesh Kumar & Anr. Vs. State of Uttarakhand & Ors. (2020)
Reservation not a fundamental right.
Bench- L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta
In this case the apex court was deciding a group of appeals whether states are obligated to make reservations on appointments and promotions.
The court held that there is no fundamental right to claim reservations in promotions in public spots and the states are not bound to make reservation and can use their discretion in providing reservations.The judgment highlighted that Article 16(4) & Article 16(4-A) of the Constitution are enabling provisions and the state governments are not bound to make reservations, also the courts have no such authority to compel the state government to do so.
"The direction given by the HC that the State Government should first collect data relating to the adequacy or inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes i.e. SC's and ST's in Government services on the basis of which the State Government must take a decision whether or not to provide reservation in promotion is contrary to the law laid down by this Court and is accordingly set aside." In simple words, there is no fundamental right that inherits an individual to claim reservations in promotions.
Are you preparing for CLAT PG 2021 and confused about where to read legal updates from? Check out our highly recommended Course on CLAT PG 2021.