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Criminal law is a discipline of law which deals with crimes or offences and their punishments. Most of the criminal law is codified in India and is established by statues and presidents. Objectives of criminal law can be narrowed down into retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and restoration. In general terms criminal law is meant to prove it undesirable activities against the individuals and the state. Following are the elements of a crime

Guilty intention on Mens Rea - In order for a crime to be committed there must be a guilty mind guilty intention on the part of the accused while committing the act. Mens Rea can be intention, knowledge, motive, recklessness or even negligence. 

Actus reus or illegal act - apart from the intention, the second essential for a crime is Actus Reus. Acting upon the intention and physically doing an act or omitting to do such act comes under this category. 

Injury - Injury is defined in Section 44 of IPC it means any harm caused to any person illegally it may be harm towards someone's body, mind, reputation, or property.

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 1 - Sonu vs Sonu Yadav 

The appeal was brought before the supreme court when a man was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court who was accused in a dowry death case. The bench comprising of justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah held that the reasoning given by the High Court does not constitute the kind of reasoning which is expected in a judicial order. The court also said that the sentence extracted earlier also contains terminology like - the entire facts, circumstances of the case, submission of the learned counsel, nature of offence, evidence, complicity of accused, etc. Do bail applicant has been the case for bail without expressing any opinion on the merits of the present case. 

The supreme court also said that the high court did not considered the seriousness of the alleged offence the woman was constantly threatened by her husband and his family members for dowry and met an unnatural in within a year of their marriage. The seriousness of the offence should have been considered. Ultimately the court held that - In an order granting bail judicial application by the judge deciding an application under section 439 of CrPC must be embodied in that order. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 2 - Gurdev Singh vs State of Punjab 

In this case the accused was found with the possession of 1 kg of heroin which is four times more than the minimal commercial limit allowed in the country. According to the Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 the minimum sentence shall not be less than 10 years and can extend up to 20 years and fine can be Rupees 1,00,000 which may extend to Rupees 2,00,000. 

When the convict was accused the special Court announced the punishment under section 21 of the act and sentenced him for 15 years of prison time and a fine of Rupees 2,00,000 (if defaulted, would lead to one year of rigorous punishment).

The convict appealed that the court stated no reason for 15 years of punishment which was more than the minimum 10 years. The bench of justice DY Chandrachud and MR Shah held that the court has clear discretion to impose any sentence or punishment ranging between 10 to 20 years and while imposing such sentences the court may also take into consideration factors as it medium fat other than the factors mentioned in section 32(B) (A) to (F) of the act. So, the quantity of narcotics substance recovered is also a relevant factor while imposing in the punishment greater than the minimum. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 3 - Sushila Aggarwal vs State of NCT of Delhi

A bench consisting of justice Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and S Ravindra Bhat held in this case that when a bail is granted to a person under section 438 of Code of Criminal Procedure the protection guaranteed should not be for a fixed limited period only and should protect the accused without any restriction of time. The conditions laid under section 437(3) read with section 438(2) should be embossed like normal conditions. The court further held that life of an anticipatory bail does not automatically end if the accused is summoned by the court or when charges are framed but it is continued till the end of trial except in special cases. While delivering this judgement the court also referred to the case of Shri Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia vs State of Punjab. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 4 - Somasundaram vs the state rep. by the deputy commissioner of police 

The court held that for an accessory to be accepted the material specifics of his declaration should be substantiated. The court eventually upheld the conventions of of Tamil Nadu politician and ex MLA MK Balon in 2001 for abduction and murder. The court also explained various concepts of abetment and its ingredients in the judgement. It was also stated by the court that the dichotomy between section 133 and illustration number B of the Indian evidence act was no longer res Integra. The court also distinguished this case as abduction from kidnapping. The court also sent a statement under section 164 CrPC did not constitutes substantial evidence and can only be used for contradiction and corroboration. The court final held that the trial court was wrong in its judgement to presume that there was no criminal liability attached to the accused as it is presumed that it is the duty of Indian wife to support their husbands even if husbands were committing criminal activities. 

Finally, the court said that uncorroborated testimony of accomplice cannot be the basis of conviction. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 5 - Ashoo Surendranath Tewari v. Deputy Superintendent of Police, EOW, CBI & Anr 

The case was brought before the court after a FIR was registered on 9th December 2009 with regards to MSME receivable finance scheme operated by SIDBI (Small industries Development Bank of India). A 3-judge bench consisting of Justices Rohintor Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha, and Indira Banerjee held in this case that in the cases related to exoneration in departmental proceedings on merit and when any or all allegations are found to be non-sustainable and the person accused was held innocent, a criminal prosecution based on the same set of facts and circumstances cannot be allowed to move forward. The judgement of High Court and that of special judge was hence discharged in set aside. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 6 - S Kashi vs State through Inspector of Police

A three-judge bench of justice Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah, and V Ramasubramanyam the court observed that Suo Moto order related to extending limitation and the lockdown restrictions of the government will not in fact effect the right of an accused persons to seek for bail under section 167 (2) of the CrPC. Earlier, a single judge bench of the high court held that the restrictions imposed due to lockdown should not give right to an accused party to pray for a grant of bail even though the charge sheet has not been filed within the prescribed time mentioned under section 167(2) of CrPC. But this decision of the High Court was set aside by the supreme court while granting bail to the accused.

Ultimately the court held that for the period of filing of charge sheet under section 167 (2) of CRPC in the limitation due to lockdown would not be applicable. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 7 - Shilpa Mittal vs State (NCT of Delhi)

In a two-judge bench consisting of justice Deepak Gupta and Anirudh Boss the supreme court held that only those offences in which the punishment prescribed is a minimum sentence of Seven years or more than that can be regarded as heinous officers under the Juvenile Justice act. And the offences whose punishment is less than 7 years cannot be treated as heinous officers. The court also said that officers which prescribe a maximum sentence of more than 7 years, but no minimum sentence is provided for offences for which a sentence of less than 7 years imprisonment is provided are not covered by section 2 (33) of the act. 

But Court also added that even though these offences might not be considered heinous, but they will be considered as 'serious offences' in exercise of the powers of article 142 of the constitution. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 8 - Amish Devgan vs Union of India

The two-judge bench consisting of justice AM Khanwilkar and Sanjeev Khanna on 7th December 2020 delivered the judgement in the case of Amish Devgun which was brought forward when the FIR was registered against the news18 anchor Amish Devgan for using the term "Lootera Chishti" in one of his shows. And the court refused to quash the FIR registered but has granted interim protection to the anchor against arrest. The conditions being his joining and co-operating in the process of investigation till it is completed. In the judgement the court also defined "hate speech" which still remains very difficult to define and also laid emphasis on the point "incitement to violence" which is punishable and an important aspect of hate speech. The court also laid down fifteen points on notable excerpts on hate speech. The court also held that freedom and rights cannot promote those who promote insite violence. And it was further stated by the court that merely referring to feelings of a community or a group without any reference to any other community or group is not hate speech.

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 9 - Paramveer Singh Saini vs Baljeet Singh

The court in this case with a three-judge bench consisting of justice RF Nariman, KM Joseph, and Aniruddha Bose directed all the States and Union Territories in the country to install CCTV cameras in all the police stations and file compliance affidavits within 6 weeks. The serious fraud investigation office (SFIO), NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau), DRI (Department of Revenue Intelligence), CBI (Central Bureau of investigation), NIA (National investigation agency), ED (Enforcement Directorate) and any other Central agency involved in interrogation of people were also ordered to install the CCTV cameras in their offices. 

While delivering the judgement the court also mandated that the system of cctv which is to be installed must be equipped with night vision and also contain audio as well as video footage whose life will last a considerable time and all the details of the cctv cameras installed in the location are to be mentioned in an affidavit. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 10 - Subed Ali vs State of Assam

In this case, the accused was convicted under section 302 and 34 of IPC by the Sessions judge and was sentenced for life imprisonment. The accused appealed against the order before the supreme court. The question before the court was is active involvement in the commission of an offence a precondition of section 34 of IPC to establish common intention. The court in its judgement defined common intention and while looking up on all the facts of the case held that no further evidence is required according to the presence of common intention in upland number one to commit the offence in question. As a result, the court refused to grant any benefit to the appellant on history and the question of common intention was answered by the court. The judgement was delivered by a three-judge bench consisting of justice SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose, and Krishna Murari.

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 11 - Satyam Dube vs Union of India. 

This case is commonly known as Hathras Rape Case and it caught public attention last year for its brutal and violent nature and remains one of the most terrifying gang rape case in the country. There was a three-judge bench consisting of the Chief Justice, SA Bobde, AS Bopanna, and V Ramasubramaniam. 

This case was brought forward when a 19 year of year-old girl was brutally gangraped and assaulted in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. She was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi for treatment where she took her last breath and was cremated in the middle of the night without the presence of any of our family members. Considering how the events took place everything was questionable, and the petitioner contended for a fair investigation in the matter by an independent agency. 

The supreme court in its judgement acknowledged that Uttar Pradesh Police will not conduct a proper and fair investigation. And it further noticed the Allahabad High Court to secure fair investigation and also to secure the presence of the victim's family members. The supreme court ordered Allahabad High Court to carefully monitor the further proceedings and investigation. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 12 - Toofan Singh vs State of Tamil Nadu

The judgement in this case was delivered by three-judge bench consisting of justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha, and Indira Banerjee. The court delivered the judgement by 2:1 majority where justice Indira Banerjee descended from the opinion of the majority. The Court ruled that the officers who are given the duty and power under section 53 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 (NDPS) are to be considered as 'Police Officers'. such officers would fall under the ambit of Section 25 of the Evidence Act of 1872. As a result of this observation any confession or statement made to the investigating officer would not be considered into account in order to convict an accused under the NDPS act as per provisions mentioned in section 25 of the evidence act. the court also held that any statement which is recorded under section 67 of the NDPS act cannot be used as a confession in the trial of any offence under the act. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 13 - Fertico Marketing and Investment Pvt. Ltd. vs Central Bureau of investigation

The present case was brought forward when surprise raid was conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the premises of a Fertico marketing and investment pvt. ltd. factory and it was found that the coal purchased by FSC was sold illegally. It was also for the discovered that because of these activities a loss of Rs 38 Crore was suffered by the central government and there was involvement of government officials in it. The appellants argued that the CBI did not had the consent from the state government under section 6 of DSPE act hence had no power to conduct the investigation. The supreme court held that under Section 5 of DSPE act the central government is enabled to extend its power and jurisdiction of the DSPE beyond the UT to a state and for this permission is required under section 6 from the state government. The court ultimately held that if such consent from the concerned state government is not taken it would not vitiate the investigation unless the investigation can be proved to be illegal or prejudice against the accused or a miscarriage of justice can be proved. The judgement was delivered by a two-judge bench consisting of justice AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 14 - Himanshu Dabas vs State

The present case was brought before the Court when respondent was in custody for offences under section 302, 207, 201, 120B, and 34 of IPC and sections 25 and 27 of Arms act was granted bail on the grounds of medical report provided by the doctors. The reports claim that the f in ac test concluded that the patient was suffering from Gynecomastia and Piles along with hypertension and Diabetes. With later investigation into the matter, it was found of that gynecomastia just the enlargement of the male breast and there was no urgency or emergency in the matter and the surgery was only for cosmetic reasons. Contrary to the claims by the respondent there was no tumour present there was no risk of cancer. But still he was granted bail on the basis of these medical reports which proved out to be sketch and questionable. 

The court held that such medical reports should not be full of medical jargon should be easily understandable by a judge in the court and if there is something sketchy or any misrepresentation of conditions or the urgency or emergency of the condition is falsely presented by the Doctor, such an act would be considered an offence under section 192 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. The court also laid down various guidelines to be followed while presenting the medical report by the jail hospital doctors and the doctors in private hospitals.

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 15 - State vs Amit Goswami 

The present case was brought forward when the applicant was arrested in the matter and was accused of vandalizing, looting, arsoning, putting a shop on fire, and assaulting along with a riotous mob. The applicant was arrested based on statement given by two constables as witness of the incident. and a FIR was registered under section 147, 148, 149, 457, 435, 436, 454, and 380 of the Indian Penal Code. 

The applicant argued that why did the police officers waited for the matter to arise why they did not report the incident in the police office at the same date itself. The applicant also claimed that these cons tables were placed witnesses. Another major claim by the applicant was that he was neither specifically named in the FIR nor any specific role was assigned to him in the matter and there was no CCTV footage or video clip of the same. 

The court held that as the investigation was over, and the charge sheet was filed there was no need for the applicant to stay in judicial custody. As a result, he was granted a bail on grounds of parity as the co-accused namely Mukesh Kali and Sunil Sharma but also granted bail. A personal bond with the sum of rupees 20,000 was set which was subject to conditions that he shall not tamper with evidence or influence any witness in any matter. and he shall co-operate with the court and the proceedings in accordance with the bail bond.

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 16 - State of Uttar Pradesh v. Jail Superintendent

This case was brought before this court that numerous criminal cases were registered against Mukhtar Ansari in various parts of Uttar Pradesh. And presently there are 10 criminal cases pending against him. While the proceedings for one of the cases was taking place, he was produced before a Judicial Magistrate and was remanded to District Jail in Punjab on 24th January 2019 since then he is in the said jail. And during this period large number of warrants have been issued against the production of Ansari before various different courts in Uttar Pradesh but the Uttar Pradesh Police have been unable to get Ansari for the proceedings as the jail authority is of Punjab claim that the accused was unwell. 

While answering the original prayer of the petitioner the court held that the state can be a party interested within the meaning of section 406(2) of CrPC. The court also observed that in the case registered in Punjab there was no final report filed by the police yet as the case is still at the stage of investigation. The court further said that there is no provision for transfer of under trial criminal and under article 142 of the constitution the court may issue directions for such transfer in this instance keeping in mind the facts of the case. The court also held that a convict for any under trial prisoners who is discovered the law of the land has no right to oppose his transfer from a prison to another and the courts cannot just watch like helpless bystanders and the court is well within its right to use the power given to it under article 142 of the constitution. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 17 - Aparna Bhat vs State of Madhya Pradesh

This case was brought before this court in a plea which was concerned with imposing of certain conditions in casing cases involved with sexual offences against women. The two-judge bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and SR Bhat held that the trauma which is rendered born by the survivor of such officers adversely affect their dignity. Use of reasoning or language which diminishes the act of such offences and leads to trivialize the survivor is specially to be avoided under all circumstances at any stage of the judicial proceeding. The court also said that it is the duty of the court to make the survivor feel comfortable and to make them rely on their impartiality and neutrality at every stage of such sensitive proceedings. Even any direct or indirect undermining act by the coat against the victim violets such confidence which is bestowed upon this code. The court further laid down various points against judicial stereotyping and the stereotypes that should be avoided. The court also said that the stereotype that 'good women' are sexually chaste shall also be avoided by the court under every circumstance. The court also laid down various grounds while granting bail in sexual offences. Further the court give directions on training and sensitization of judges and lawyer involved in such sexual offence cases. The court also laid down various points for the conditions that should not be imposed on the victim. The court also condemned the act of ordering the convict to tie Rakhi or to get married to the accused of sexual offences and should be avoided. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 18 - D Devaraja vs Owais Sabeer Hussain 

In this case the question present before the Court was that whether the High Court ought to have exercised powers under section 482 of CRPC instead of directing the policeman for applying of discharge before the trial court and there was no sanction to prosecute under section 197 of CrPC. The two-judge bench of justice R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee health chart the test for inserting if sanction was necessary or not is whether the act in question is completely connected with the official duty or whether there is operations of reasonable connection with the official duty. The question of sanction has to be determined at any stage of the investigation the court further held. The court was of this you because the complaint may or may not disclose if the act constituting the offence was done in the discharge of official duty, but the facts ultimately assert the establishment necessary for sanction. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 19 - Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs. Union of India

The to judge bench consisting of justice RF Nariman and Justice Ravindra Bhat held in this case that each and every political party is ordered to publish the criminal records of all the candidates in the assembly and parliament polls within 48 hours of selection of such candidate or within a time period of two weeks of nomination whichever comes earlier. This decision by the court was back by the fact that there has been an alarming increase in the numbers of candidates with criminal history criminal background in the last four general elections. The courts that it shall be mandatory for political parties be it central or state level to upload this information on their website and on their social media platforms. Details like nature of the offence particulars of the charge concerned Court the case number and the reason why such candidate has been selected shall also be stated. Such details will also be shared with the election commission and it shall also be stated that why the party members with no criminal records were chosen. It was also stated that in 2004 25% of MPS had criminal cases pending against them and the number rise to a whopping 43% in 2019. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 20 - Jinofer Kawasji Bhujwala vs State of Gujarat 

This case was brought before the court regarding and FIR offences under section 406, 409, 420, 465, 468, 471, and 120 (B) of IPC along with section 13 (1)(D) of prevention of corruption act. The trial had not commenced and was pending for the past 6 months and the period of 9 months has gone by from the date of filing of the charge sheet when the accused applied for bail, he was granted bail on these grounds. When the opposition counsel argued that this was potentially a threat to national security and the accused might tamper with witnesses or evidence to secure his acquittal, this argument by the prosecution was rejected by the court. Later, an additional condition was added to the bill which directed the accused to surrender his passport. 

This decision was delivered by a two-judge bench consisting of justice Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah. 

Landmark Criminal law judgement No. 21 - Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar

In the present case an army officer’s wife made various malicious complaints against the officer to his superiors and various other authorities without any proof just to sabotage his character and career. The three-judge bench of justice SK Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Hrishikesh Roy held that these instances cannot be narrowed down to ordinary middle class married life as done by the high court earlier, but it would amount to mental cruelty. The court also added that in cases like that the aggrieved party cannot be expected to continue with the marriage and they are well within their rights to see for separation. The court while delivering the judgement also define mental quality in which the court said that the degree of tolerance will obviously vary from couple to couple and while delivering such judgement the court should keep in mind the background, the level of education, and the status of the parties in order to reach to a justified conclusion and determine whether there was cruelty or not. The court also observed that this was a clear attempt by the wife to harm the husband's reputation among his colleagues, and his superiors, and the society at large. For the allegations made by the wife the legal consequences must follow. Ultimately the court held that this is definitely a case of cruelty on the husband by the wife.


In India, criminal law is codified and established by statues and various Court judgements. Indian Penal Code, The Code of criminal procedure, and The Indian Evidence Act are the three primary provisions regarding criminal law in India. In criminal cases, only the applying of relevant provision and laws is not necessary but also the interpretation of those relevant laws and provisions and applying them according to the facts and circumstances of the case is also necessary. Through various Court judgements the interpretation of these laws become easier. All the above-mentioned landmark judgements will help in interpretation of the concerned provisions and laws and also set a precedent for the upcoming cases.

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