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In the last one year, we have seen several landmark judgments passed by the Supreme Court and the various High Courts. Judgments dealing with reservation for Economically Weaker Sections, power of the ED under NDPS Act, scope of the Trial Court's summoning authority under Section 319 CrPC and the controversy related to school students wearing hijab have shed light on constitutional question of significant importance. This Article explains the landmark judgments of 2022.

Suneesh K.S. v. Travancore Devaswom Board & Ors

In the present case, a writ petition was filed in the High Court of Kerala seeking a writ of mandamus to direct the respondents to grant the remission in default of payment caused due to hardships of COVID-19.

The Court noticed that the occurrence of any commercial difficulty, hardship, or inconvenience in performance of the conditions of the agreement can provide no justification to the petitioner to wriggle out of the contractual obligations which he had accepted with open eyes.

State of Rajasthan v. Ashok Khetolissya & Anr

The present appeal was filed against an order passed by the High Court of Rajasthan dated 28.4.2015 whereby a notification dated 12.8.2014 declaring Gram Panchayat Roopbas, District Bharatpur as Municipal Board was set aside.

The Apex court held that the High Court had misread the scope of Part IX-A and Article 243Q of the Constitution forming an opinion that the transitional area has to be notified under such provision. The scheme of the 74th Amendment was not to take away competence of the State Legislatures to legislate on the subject of local Government but to ensure that the three tiers of governance are strengthened.

Pattali Makkal Katchi vs. A. Mayilerumperumal & Ors

The Supreme Court in this case has held that, Denotified Communities Act, 2021 of Tamil Nadu that provided 10.5% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for the Vanniyar community out of the 20% reservation available to the Most Backward Classes was unconstitutional.

V. Vasanthakumar v. Union of India

The court evaluated the idea of Separation of Powers and concluded that the Legislature's exercise of authority should be limited to its sphere of influence, leaving the judicial system independent. The court also emphasised that the concept of judicial independence is a critical problem, emphasising the importance of separation of powers. The Court thus concluded that Section 32(2) of the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 is unconstitutional.

Ms.Preethika.C v. State of Tamil Nadu

The Madras High Court, in this case, held that the Tamil Nadu Act stipulating a 7.5% reservation to students of government schools in medical colleges is Constitutionally valid. The Court held that the legislation was not in violation of Article 14 and had a direct nexus with the objective that it sought to achieve.

Further, the Court also directed the State Government to take steps to improve the conditions of the government schools and to subsequently review the quota after 5 years.

A. Periyakaruppan v. The Principal Secretary To Government And Another

In this landmark judgment, the Court, while invoking parens patriae jurisdiction, declared "Mother Nature" to be a living being having the status of legal entity and conferred with corresponding rights, liabilities and duties.

The Court observed that mother nature must be protected and preserved. "Indiscriminate destruction or change is leading to several complications in ecosystem, ultimately is endangering the very existence of the animals, flora and fauna, forests, rivers, lakes, water bodies, mountains, glaciers, air and of course human. Strangely the destruction is carried on by few humans."

S.G Vombatkere v. Union of India 

The Supreme Court has given out an order requesting State and Central Governments from registering any FIR under Section 124A of Indian Penal Code and also to set aside all pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to Section 124A of IPC for a temporary period until the provision is re-examined and re considered.

The court has stated that there is a requirement to balance both integrity of the state and civil liberties of the citizens. Thereby, a proper re examination has to be conducted.

Rashmi Tandon & Anr v. State Of Karnataka

The Karnataka High Court has ruled that proceedings under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code are maintainable even if a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act has been filed. The bench cited the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel v. State of Gujarat (2012) 7 SCC 621, in which the court considered whether a petition under Section 420 of the IPC would be maintainable during the pendency or even after conviction under Section 138 of the Act.

Kantaro Kondagari @Kajol Vs State of Orissa and Others

In this case, transgender persons’ right to decide their self-identified gender was upheld and the Centre and State Governments were directed to grant legal recognition of their gender identity such as male, female or as third gender. 

The right of transgender people to choose their self-identified gender was protected, and the Centre and State governments were required to recognise their gender identity as male, female, or third gender.

B.A. Harish Gowda v. Ravi Kumar

The Karnataka High Court has suggested that the Central Government amend Section 372 of the Criminal Procedure Code to allow victims to approach the Court in an appeal seeking an enhancement of the sentence imposed on a convict.

Mukesh Bansal v. State Of Uttar Pradesh & Anr

The Allahabad High Court issued guidelines/safeguards to prevent the misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). According to one of the Court's guidelines, no arrest or coercive action should be taken against the accused during the two-month cooling-off period following the filing of a First Information Report (FIR) under 498A IPC.

Kalu Sk. @ Kuran v. State

In the light of decreasing transparency of the police authorities granted plenary powers under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, the Court has ruled that in all cases pertaining to the recovery of narcotic contraband, a video recording of the seizing operation should be produced before the court and issued various other directives.

Shaik Nazneen v. the State of Telangana & Ors

The bench of Justices C. T. Ravikumar and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing an appeal against the Telangana High Court's March decision, which dismissed the petitioner-Habeas wife's Corpus Writ Petition challenging her husband's order of prevention of detention. 

The bench noted that the powers in the present case were exercised under Section 3(1) of the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug- Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Land Grabbers, Spurious Seed Offenders, Insecticide Offenders, Fertiliser Offenders, Food Adulteration Offenders, Fake Document Offenders, Scheduled Commodities Offenders, Forest Offenders, Gaming Offenders, Sexual Offenders, Explosive Substances Offenders, Arms Offenders, Cyber Crime Offenders and White Collar or Financial Offenders Act ,1986; that under the aforementioned provision, inter alia, a detention order can be passed against a "goonda," and a "goonda" has been defined under Section 2 (g) of the Act; that since the allegation is that the detainee is involved in four cases of chain snatching, i.e., robbery, which comes under offences given under Chapter XVII of the Indian Penal Code.

The bench stated that there is no doubt in its mind that the facts and circumstances of the case as alleged in the detention order dated 28.10.2021 reflect a law and order situation that can be dealt with under ordinary law of land, and that there was no occasion to invoke the extraordinary powers under the law of Preventive Detention.

The State of Kerala & Ors. v. Leesamma Joseph 

The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy was hearing an appeal filed by the State of Kerala against a judgement of the Kerala High Court granting the right of reservation in promotions for people with disabilities. 

The court while examining the purpose behind the said provisions of the Act including Section 47 held that it would amount to negation of the legislative mandate if promotion is denied to PwD.

Satender Kumar Antil v CBI and Anr

Taking into account the constant flow of cases requesting bail following the submission of the final report based on an incorrect reading of Section 170 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Supreme Court attempted to categorize the sorts of offences to be used as guides in the future. The Court urged the Government to explore drafting a "Bail Act" to simplify the issuance of bail, a proposal that bears great prominence considering the pending bail petitions of numerous undertrial detainees, including activists, political figures, and journalists.

Satyanarain Khandelwal v. Prem Arora 

The Commercial Courts (Amendment) Act, 2018, cannot be applied retroactively, according to the Delhi High Court. A division bench composed of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad expressly held that section 19 of the 2018 Amending Act, which emphasizes that its regulations will pertain to cases relating to commercial disputes filed on or around the date of the Act's commencement, or May 3, 2018, cannot be said to be unclear or ambiguous. 

Vijay Madanlal Choudhary & Ors. v. Union of India

The Supreme Court on July 27 upheld the core amendments made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which grants the government and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) virtually unrestricted powers of summons, arrest, and raids; makes bail virtually impossible; and shifts the burden of proof of innocence from the prosecution to the accused.

M/s R.D. Jain and Co. vs Capital First Ltd. & Ors

The Court held that the power exercised by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and District Magistrate under section 14 of SARFAESI Act is that of ministerial nature. 

Thus, the court upheld the judgement given by the High Court judicature of Bombay i.e., the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and the District Magistrate are not a persona designata according to section 14 of the SARFAESI Act, 2002.

The court further held that Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and District Magistrate under section 14 of the SARFAESI Act, 2002 also includes the Additional District Magistrate and Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for the purposes of ministerial work.

Shri Jainendra Gurukul Panchkula through its Secretary v. Dev Raj

The High Court of Punjab and Haryana overturned the lower appellate court's decision and upheld the Trial Court's decision, holding that the 2nd eviction petition was not barred by the doctrine of res judicata because the new application was based on changed circumstances that were not in existence and not pleaded in the prior case.

The court, led by Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan, noted that in the current instance, the landlord sought eviction on two grounds: bona fide necessity for renovating the property and failure to pay rent arrears, whereas the previous petition was simply for bona fide necessity.

Jose Kuruvinakkunnel @ Kuruvinakkunnel Kuruvachan vs Union of India

The court held that there has to be a standard regulation as to streaming of movies on OTT platforms and thus directed the Central Board of Film Certification to take steps in this regard.

The court further held that the respondents have to ensure that the directions of Central Board of Film Certification are complied in both theatre releases and OTT releases.

All India Football Federation v. Rahul Mehra And Ors.

The Supreme Court directed that 36 football players (24 male and 12 female) be represented in the electoral college for the next executive committee election of the All India Football Federation, stating that the "National Sports Code, 2011 cannot be construed in the manner of a statute." The bench made these observations in response to the claim that, according to the National Sports Code, only State Federations have the right to vote on AIFF management. The bench studied the requirements of the National Sports Code in their entirety in order to approve the proposal of the Committee of Administrators, which is in charge of forming the executive committee of the All India Football Federation.

Sanjeet Kumar Singh @ Munna Kumar Singh vs State of Chhattisgarh

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in this case allowed the appeal of an accused who was convicted and sentenced for committing an offence under Section 20(b)(ii)(c) of the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act by the Special Court and The High Court of Chhattisgarh. 

Court observed that while it is true that presumption u/s 54 shifts the burden of proof to explain the possession, but to raise such a presumption it is necessary to establish that the recovery was made from the accused. The moment doubt is cast on the very search and seizure, the accused is entitled to benefit of doubt. 

Smt. Katta Sujatha Reddy & Anr. v. Siddamsetty Infra Projects Pvt. Ltd.& Ors.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has set aside the judgment dated 23.04.2021 passed by High Court for the state of Telangana at Hyderabad in A.S. No. 998 of 2010 and held that the law on specific relief is a substantive law and any amendment in the same cannot have retrospective effect.

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. vs Sudera Realty Private Limited

The appellant herein was the defendant in the original suit who filed an appeal before the division bench of the High court against the order of the single judge of the High Court. The division Bench partly allowed the said appeal and modified the decree granted by the single judge in favor of the plaintiffs (respondents herein) seeking mesne profits.

Dismissing the appeal, the bench observed “While a tenant at sufferance cannot be forcibly dispossessed, that does not detract from the possession of the erstwhile tenant turning unlawful on the expiry of the lease.”

Soumen Biswas @ Litan Biswas v. State of West Bengal

The court issued some guidelines regarding examination of minor victims by Special Court. The guidelines are explained below:

  1.   The examination of victim shall take place keeping in mind the mandate of section 33 of the act. 
  2.    No adjournment shall be given to any party for examination of the minor victim. 
  3.     Examination of minor shall not be postponed due to cessation of work due to lawyer’s strike if she is present in the court.
  4.    In the event, that an adjournment is given owing to circumstances pertaining to the minor or beyond the control of the Court, the reason for adjournment must be explicitly stated in the order sheet and it should not span for more than 2-3 days.

G.N.R. Babu @ S.N. Babu Vs. Dr. B.C. Muthappa & Ors.

The Orissa High Court has reaffirmed that even when an ex parte decision is overturned in accordance with Order IX Rule 13 of the CPC, the defendant cannot be reinstated in their previous position or be given permission to submit a written statement. The Single Judge Bench of Justice K.R. Mohapatra highlighted the comment from the State of Orissa verdict while providing the respondents with just limited relief.

Naresh Gyanchandani v. Shri Rameshwar Sharma

This judgment deals with an important question regarding the mandate of affidavit under section 83 and Rule 94A of Representation of People’s Act 1951. It deals with whether non-compliance of the above-mentioned provisions will lead to dismissal of the petition along with the validity of ‘breach of Model Code of Conduct’ as a ground for declaring an election as null and void.

Anurag Dubey (Second bail) v. State Of U.P. Thru. Prin. Secy. Home 

The second anticipatory bail application was filed by the applicant after the first one was rejected by the same Court on 04.10.21. The applicant was apprehending arrest under Sections 147, 148, 149 & 307 of the IPC. His first bail plea had been rejected on grounds of him being considered absconding. However, at the time of filing this second bail plea, the circumstances had changed. Therefore, considering the new grounds of application, the Court granted bail under certain conditions.

Manathanath Kunhahammed vs. Kizhakke Theruvathakath Cherammal Thodiyil Unnimoideenkutty

The Kerala High Court in this case dealt with 2 important question of law regarding the effect of non-registration vis-s-vis the effect of holding over along with the application and effects of the 2003 amendment to section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act. The Court held that the amendment to Section 106 would be applicable retrospectively. 

Mr N Nagarajan v. Mr. Schekar Raj

After noting that the son failed to look after his aged parents, the Madras High Court upheld the judgement passed by the Trial Court and cancelled a settlement deed executed in the favour of the son, and dismissed the findings of the appellant court.

Aishat Shifa v. State of Karnataka and Ors.

The Court finally observed that to ask the girls to remove their hijabs before they reach the school gates is to first invade their privacy, then to violate their dignity, and finally to deny them a secular education. These blatantly contravene Article 19(1) (a), Article 21, and Article 25(1) of the Indian Constitution.

Mahesh Kariman Tirki and Ors. v State of Maharashtra and ors.

The Bombay High Court declared the whole trial against former DU Professor GN Saibaba and five others in a maoist-linked case exonerated under the strict UAPA because it lacked a legal authority under section 45(1) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The Maharashtra government approved the prosecution of GN Saibaba under the UAPA after the trial against him started rather than before, the bench of Justices Rohit Deo and Anil Pansare noted, rendering the entire trial illegal.

Yash and Ors. Versus The State of Maharashtra and Anr.

Cases relating to Domestic Violence are to be quashed when parties arrive at a settlement if it involves non-compoundable offences else it would be hazardous to force a couple who want to live together, to litigate. It would be a “dis-service to the society for the protection of which the court exists”, the bench of Bombay High Court held. A domestic violence case under 498 A of IPC filed by the wife against her husband and in-laws on a criminal application filed by the latter under Section 482 of CrPC was quashed

State of Himachal Pradesh v. Nirmal Kaur @ Nimmo

The Supreme Court held in its judgement that it is sufficient to show that something is covered by Section 2(xvii)(a) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, once a Chemical Examiner establishes that the confiscated “poppy straw” indicates a positive test for the contents of “morphine” and “meconic acid”. No additional test would be required to prove that the confiscated substance is a component of “papaver somniferum L,” according to the bench of Justices BR Gavai and CT Ravikumar.

Renoj R.S. v. State of Kerala & Anr 

By an order dated 02.09.2022, the Kerala High Court had granted bail to the petitioner under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Following a legal conflict between the two statutes, it was decided to consider the matter in detail, despite bail being granted to the petitioner. It was alleged that the petitioner had slapped and scolded the complainant using filthy language. Since the offence was registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 the Court Registry held the view that an appeal alone under Section 14A of the said Act was maintainable. 

There came a legal conflict as to which was the statute under which the petitioner is entitled to maintain an application for bail.  If it was under Section 439 of CrPC then the remedy could be sought before the Sessions Court as well as the High Court. If the provisions of the SC/ST Act prevail, then the application was to be filed before the Special Court. It was held that the accused was entitled to follow procedures under the POCSO Act for bail. Since Section 31 of the POCSO Act, made the provisions of CrPC applicable, the petitioner was justified in approaching this Court under Section 439 of CrPC. Thus, the bail was granted to the petitioner.

Gabbar Patel @ Dharmendra v. State

According to the Allahabad High Court, even if an accused enters a guilty plea in a statement recorded under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the prosecution must still prove its case in order to have the court rule that the accused is guilty.

State v. Mohd. Javed Nasir & Ors.

In the present case, the learned Judge of Delhi High Court condemned the 'overzealous approach’ adopted by trial Courts of appreciating evidence in detail at the time of framing of the charges only. It was observed by the Court that such tendency of concluding the entire case even before it could begin is ‘fatal to the justice and faith of the victim in the criminal justice system’.

M/s. Design Tech Systems Pvt.Ltd. v. The State of Andhra Pradesh

The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently ruled in a case that a petition under Section 482 CrPC is maintainable because the Court below erred in issuing orders under Section 451 CrPC to freeze amounts (property) in the petitioner's account that had no discernible connection to the commission of any crime.

Mohd. Abid vs Ravi Naresh

The Supreme Court stated that the procedures under Sections 145 and 146 of the Criminal Procedure Code must cease after the Civil Court takes jurisdiction over the case. The Court pointed that the procedures under Section 145/146 Cr.P.C. cannot continue and must terminate once the Civil Court becomes involved. The Civil Court will ultimately decide the parties' respective rights to ownership or possession.

Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India

The 103rd Constitutional Amendment, which included a 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in education and public employment, has been affirmed as lawful by a 3:2 majority of the Supreme Court Constitution Bench. 

Praveen Garg v. The High Court Of Delhi & Ors.

The Delhi High Court held that for a candidate to be eligible for appointment as a District Judge, in terms of the Article 233(2) of the Constitution, it is mandatory that he should have been in practice as an advocate or a pleader for a continuous period of seven years as on the date of the application. The Court made the above observation while hearing a writ petition challenging the validity of Rule 9(2) of Delhi Higher Judiciary Services Rules, 1970 as being ultra vires the Article 233(2) of the Constitution of India.

Kerala Private Hospitals Association v. Advocate Sabu P. Joseph

The Kerala High Court ordered the Police to file a FIR and recognise the assault on physicians and other medical personnel as a crime as soon as they receive the information. After taking into account the rising number of assaults on medical professionals, the court issued the directive.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira v. State of Punjab

The Supreme Court's Constitution Bench issued its ruling in response to a question regarding the scope of the Trial Court's summoning authority under Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Court held that the authority granted by Section 319 must be used before the trial is over. When the verdict is announced, the trial is concluded.

When the acquittal order is issued, the trial will have concluded in terms of an acquittal judgement. In contrast, in a conviction case, the trial is said to be over when the sentence is given, not when the conviction order is given

State Bank of India v. The Tax Recovery Officer

The Madras High Court has ruled that, in the event of a priority conflict, the entitlement of secured creditors under the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act and SARFAESI Act to collect debt must take precedence over statutory obligations under the Income Tax Act. The right to recover under the Income Tax Act of 1961 must give way to the provisions under the SARFAESI Act and the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act even if recovery proceedings are quashed for any reason, according to a bench of Justices R Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq.

Kamla Neti Devi v. The Special Land Acquisition Officer & Ors.

The Apex Court in its recent judgement pressed upon the need for amendment in the Hindu Succession Act so as to make it applicable to members belonging to Scheduled Tribes as well. The learned bench of the Apex Court comprising Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Krishna Murari, while rejecting the claim of a female belonging to Scheduled Tribe for a share in the compensation amount on account of section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, reiterated the well established principle of law that ‘when there is conflict between equity and law, the law would prevail. However, the Court went on to observe that there seems no justice in depriving a Tribal female an equal share in the property of her father when daughters belonging to non-tribal are so entitled in view of the provisions of Hindu Succession Act. The Court further called for an amendment to section 2(2) of the Hindu Succession Act.

“We hope and trust that the Central Government will look into the matter and take an appropriate decision taking into consideration the right to equality guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Devendra Pandey and others v. State Of U.P. Thru. C.B.I., along with connected matters

The 1991 Pilibhit Encounter case, in which 10 Sikhs were killed in an alleged staged encounter while being misidentified as terrorists, resulted in the conviction of 43 Uttar Police personnel by the Allahabad High Court under Section 304 Part I of the Indian Penal Code.

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