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21. Ravinder Kumar Dhariwal v. Union of India: Disciplinary proceedings against person with mental disability is a facet of indirect discrimination.
In the present case, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) initiated disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner who had a medical history of obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. He was diagnosed by the government hospital to have 40-70% permanent disability. A 3 judge bench headed by Justice Chandarchud, after considering the relevant facts of the case, held that a person having a permanent disability is more likely to be subjected to disciplinary proceedings as due to his mental impairment gives him a disproportional disadvantage. The court further stated that such a person is protected by the Rights of Person with Disabilities Act, 2016. Noting the sensitivity of the case, the court stated that adjudication in such cases poses a great challenge as people often aren’t aware of their disabilities or they don’t choose to disclose it due to avoid stigma. Consequently, in the light of Sec. 20(4) of RPwD Act, which contains provisions for shifting personnel to different jobs due to acquired disability, directed CRPF to accommodate the petitioner in a suitable department.
22. In Re: Expeditious Trial of Cases Under Section 138 of N.I. Act: Cheque bounce cases must be dealt with expeditiously to ease the burden of lower courts.
The Supreme Court of India noted the fact that cheque bounce cases under Sec. 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act forms a bulk of cases in the lower court issued comprehensive guidelines to clear this backlog. The 5 judge bench directed the centre to bring in “suitable amendments” to the Negotiable Instruments Act for the provision of a single trial against a person charged for multiple offenses under Section 138 committed within a window of Twelve months to avoid multiplicity of cases. Moreover, in a case tried summarily under CrPC, if the accused does not plead guilty of the offense, it is ample for a magistrate to record the evidence and deliver an instant judgment. The Apex court also directed all the High Courts to come up with sufficient guidelines for trial courts to dispose of these cases promptly. The apex court, in its order, also stated that the issues, which have not been dealt with by it in the verdict, would be considered by a committee headed by a former judge of the Bombay High Court Justice R.C. Chavan which was set up earlier.
23. In Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies in Criminal Trials: Implementation of Draft Rules for Expeditious and Fair Criminal Trials.
In the present case, a bench headed by now-retired Chief Justice Bobde issued an order to implement Draft Criminal Rules on Practice, 2021. The court took suo-moto cognizance of the matter when hearing the arguments in a criminal appeal involving the death of a political worker in the year 2016. The bench noticed that there are widespread differences in the procedure of criminal trials across states as many High Courts lacked sufficient rules for the same. The judgment also overruled the judgment in BipinShantilal Panchal v. State of Gujarat in which it was held that any objections to the admission of evidence should not be ruled on straight away but decided at the end of the trial. The Court disagreed with this reasoning, stating, if such objectionable evidence remained on record, it would clutter the record and lead the trial down the wrong path. This would lead to further delay in the trial. The order also issued multiple other guidelines and directed the State governments and High Courts to make relevant changes within 6 months.
24. In Re: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers: Free dry rations to migrant workers affected by Pandemic.
The Apex Court in the present case took suo-moto cognizance of the plea of three activists, Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj, and JagdeepChhokar, seeking welfare measures in form of food security and cash transfers for migrant workers affected by the pandemic. The Court issued a slew of directions to Central and State governments to frame appropriate rules and ensure every migrant worker is provided with dry ration until the pandemic ends. The court stated that all states which are yet to implement a one nation one card scheme must do it in an immediate fashion as migrant workers can’t be expected to wait for registration amid a pandemic. Commenting on the apathy of the Labour Ministry the court dubbed its lackadaisical attitude as ‘unpardonable.’ The Court also directed the labour secretary to finalize the National Database for Unorganized Workers instantly. The Apex court referred to the right to food of human beings and noted that the fundamental right to life under Article 21 may include this right as well.
25. Union of India v. Rakesh Malhotra: National Task Force to ensure supply of oxygen to states and UTs for COVID-19 patients.
The order of the Supreme Court in the present case deals with the formulation of a National task force to coordinate the supply of oxygen to all the States and UTs in wake of the oxygen shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A two-judge bench headed by Justice Chandrachud set up a twelve-member National Task Force for efficient allocation of oxygen and beds to COVID-19 patients. The court stated that the government must keep in mind the likely future course of the pandemic to ensure public safety by formulating strategies based on scientific methodology. The court set up the tenure of the task force as six months. The task force would also be responsible for conducting audits to ensure "accountability in respect of the supplies of oxygen provided to every State/UT." This would ensure that the supplies were reaching their destination
26. Pichra Warg Kalyan Mahasabha Haryana v. State of Haryana: Economic Criteria can’t be the sole basis for the determination of creamy layer within OBC reservation.
In the Indra Sawhney case, states were directed to identify the ‘creamy layer’ from the backward classes for their exclusion from the reservation. In 2016 Haryana Government introduced the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and admission in educational institutions) act, 2016 to provide reservations in educational institutions to backward classes. The act excluded ‘creamy layer’ from the purview of reservation as per section 5 and granted the power to the government to issue a notification concerning criteria that will be used to identify ‘creamy layer.’ In exercise of its power, the state government issued a notification on 17th August 2021 specifying the criteria for creamy layer in line with economic conditions only. This notification was eventually challenged in the Supreme Court where the court held that making economic criteria as the sole factor for determining creamy layer is violative of Section 5 of the 2016 Act itself which specifies that social, economic, and other factors must be considered for this purpose. The order quashed the notification introduced on 17th August 2021
27. Neil Aurelio Nunes v. Union of India: Challenge to 27% OBC and 10% EWS reservation in the all India quota category of seats in NEET admissions for Post Graduate medical courses.
In the present case, the petitioners sought the order of the court to quash notification dated 29th July 2021 by the Medical Counselling Committee for granting 27% reservations to OBC and 10% to EWS in all India quota seats for the year 2021-2022 in NEET admissions for Post Graduate medical courses. The petitioners also sought clarification on whether there should be vertical or horizontal reservations and whether the criteria of Rs. 8 lakhs is valid for the EWS quota. The apex court expressed displeasure over the Centre for not explaining how the quantum of Rs. 8 lakhs was fixed for the EWS reservation. The central government stated that it will set up a committee to review the notification and sought 4 weeks. The matter has been adjourned till January 2022.
28. State of Karnataka & amp; Ors. V. Apporva Shri & Anr: Discrimination between Unmarried and Married daughters in Compassionate Appointments is illegal and unconstitutional.
In the instant case, an SPL was filed by the State of Karnataka in the Supreme Court against the order of Karnataka High Court in the case of Bhuvaneshwari V. Purani VS. State of Karnataka where the court declared that Discrimination between Unmarried and Married daughter in Compassionate Appointments is illegal and against the spirit of the constitution specified under Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules, 1996. The counsel for the petitioner argued that denial of compassionate appointment violates the petitioner’s right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution.
The Court observed that the object of compassionate appointment is to help the family tide over the crisis that befalls them on the death of the sole breadwinner of the family. The Court further observed that the Constitution is ‘not static but dynamic’ and its interpretation must change with the changing times. The Court declared the case at hand as a ‘classic example of the law being anachronistic. The Court concluded that dependency is the key determinative factor for grant of compassionate appointment and the dependency could either be on the married son or married daughter and the marital status of a daughter should make no difference, as the married daughter does not cease to be a part of the family and law cannot make an assumption that married sons alone continue to be the part of the family.
In the instant case, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court regarding notification issued by the Maharashtra government that provided 27% reservation for OBC for polls in entirely scheduled areas under Section 12 of Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961, that in turn exceeded the upper limit of 50% vertical reservation for backward classes. Referring to the judgment of the constitutional bench in the case of K. Krishna Murthy V. Union of India, the court held that aggregate vertical reservation in respect of SCs/STs/OBCs combined can never exceed 50% of the seats in local bodies. Questioning the rationality of 27% OBC reservation, the court stated that there is no material on record which could clarify reasons for this quantum of reservation. It’s the function of the executive, under Article 340 of the Constitution to appoint designated commissions to conduct an inquiry into the nature of backwardness as not all groups that had been given benefits of reservation in public appointments or education require a reservation in local body polls. Hence, for reservation in local body polls, firstly a commission is needed to be set up to enquire about the nature of backwardness. Secondly, only the recommended proportion of reservation by the commission shall be used and lastly, the reservation shall not exceed the 50% vertical limit.
30. Union of India v. Rajendra Shah: Supreme Court partially struck down 97th constitutional amendment.
Striking down a constitutional amendment is a rare event as it has only happened 9 times after the judgment in the instant case.
The 97th Constitutional amendment act came into force in 2012 which dealt with the management of co-operative societies in India. A plea for quashing the same was filed in the High Court of Gujarat and the court declared part IX B containing Articles 243ZH to 243ZT, as ultra vires to the Constitution of India, as the amendment fell short of ratification of states required under Article 368 (2) of the Constitution. However, the order did not impact the amendments made to Article 19(1)(c) and 43B of the Indian Constitution. Aggrieved, the Union of India filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of India.
The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court of Gujarat. The Court stated that co-operative societies as a subject matter only belong to the State legislatures to legislate upon, whereas multi-State cooperative societies fall in the ambit of the Parliament. Despite the tilt in favor of the center in the federal structure of the Indian government, the States have exclusive power to legislate on topics reserved exclusively to them.
31. Amazon.Com NV Investment Holdings LLC v. Future Retail Ltd: SC upheld SIAC emergency arbitrator’s award in favour of Amazon.
On 25th October 2020, Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) granted interim relief to Amazon and stayed the amalgamation of Future Retail Ltd. (FRL) with Reliance. FRL then filed a suit in the high court of Delhi for interim relief to restrain Amazon from writing to statutory authorities by relying on the SIAC’S award. The same was rejected by the Delhi High Court. Amazon then filed a separate petition before the High Court of Delhi under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 for enforcement of SIAC’s award which was granted by the Court. The case, through Special Leave Petition eventually ended in the Supreme Court of India. FRL contended if the award delivered by a SIAC can be said to be an order under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act? The Court held that, when a party has agreed to proceed by the rules of a particular institution, they cannot question its orders' validity if they lose the case. The Court stated that there is no provision in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act prohibiting an order made by an Emergency Arbitrator.
32. In Re: ex-gratia compensation each to the kin of those who lost their lives due to Covid pandemic: Supreme Court ordered Rs. 50000 ex-gratia compensation to families of COVID-19 victims.
At the peak of the pandemic, two separate pleas were filed in the Supreme Court of India for an order to the centre to grant Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia compensation to the kin of coronavirus victims as provisioned under the Disaster Management Act of 2005. The petitions also sought an order regarding a uniform policy for issuing death certificates. Seeking a reply from the centre, the court noted that the NDMA had failed in discharging its statutory duty by not providing compensation to victims of COVID-19 and ordered that compensation should be paid within 6 weeks. The government accepted the proposal and decided to grant Rs. 50000 compensation to not only the families of victims who have died due to the deadly virus but also any future deaths that may occur. The families seeking compensation will have to apply in the district disaster management office.
33. State of Kerala v. A Ajith: Supreme Court rejected Kerala Govt’s plea seeking withdrawal of cases against CPM leaders for the 2015 Assembly Vandalism incident.
Criminal proceedings were instituted against the State government and the LDF leaders in the 2015 Kerala Assembly Ruckus case for vandalizing state assembly building and disrupting the budget speech. The leaders claimed parliamentary privilege, arguing that the incident occurred inside the Assembly hall. Rejecting the petition, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram for the institution of criminal proceedings, stating that the criminal law must take its normal course. The court held that allowing the application will only result in giving the leaders the freedom to not follow the mandate of law. Article 105(1) & Article 194(1) deals with the provisions wherein free speech can be exercised in the Parliament to enable the leaders to discharge their duties & functions freely, however, privileges and immunity are not a gateway to claim exemption from criminal law and that would be a betrayal to the citizens, the court stated.
34. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. v. Cyrus Investments Private Ltd: Supreme Court allows appeals against NCLAT order reinstating Cyrus Mistry.
Allowing the appeal against the order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, that restored Cyrus Mistry as the chairman of Tata Sons, the Supreme Court upheld the removal of Cyrus Mistry as executive chairman by Tata Sons. The court rejected all the accusations of oppression and mismanagement levelled against Tata Sons. The Supreme Court noted that under Section 241 of the Companies Act, 2013 unless the removal of a chairman of a company is mismanaged or oppressive or done in a prejudicial manner which damages the interests of the company, the members, or the public at large, the Company Law Tribunal cannot interfere in such removal. Moreover, Sections 241 and 242 of the Companies Act do not expressly grant reinstatement authority, held court.
35. Citizens for Green Doon v. Union of India: Supreme Court upheld Char Dham road widening project.
In 2016, the Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna was announced by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to widen approximately 900 kilometres of National Highways that connect the holy shrines of “Chote Char Dham” to ensure safer and faster traffic travel. The Project was challenged on the ground that the development activity will potentially have a catastrophic impact on the Himalayan ecosystem as it could lead to deforestation, excavation of hills, and dumping of muck, which will lead to further landslides and soil erosion.
The court noted that the piecemeal implementation of some mitigation measures for the protection of the environment, without any concrete strategy in place, is a recipe for disaster. The Supreme Court in its verdict, appointed an “oversight committee” headed by justice AK Sikri to oversee the development of the project in a sustainable manner. The ‘Oversight Committee’, will report directly to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court in the present case declared default bail under section 167 (2) of the Code of Civil Procedure as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the constitution.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow granted 180 days to the police to file a charge sheet against the accused booked under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and UAPA. The police filed the charge sheet against various provisions of IPC but not UAPA as the police needed state sanction under the law. The time of 180 days elapsed and the accused applied for default bail. The Lower Court dismissed the application by stating that the second charge sheet was only supplementary. The appeal was also dismissed by the High Court. Consequently, the accused moved to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court held that the police can’t take advantage of filing one charge Sheet and seeking time to file a second charge sheet to extend the time limit under section 167 (2) of IPC. The Court ruled that liberty is a fundamental right, and the violation of timeframe for bail mentioned in the statute violates the right of the accused to default bail.
37. Amway India Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. v. Ravindranath Rao Sindhia & Anr: If a proprietor is a habitual resident of a foreign country, the arbitration involving such sole proprietorship falls under international commercial arbitration.
In the present case, the respondents used to handle marketing and distribution for the Appellants. The respondents were registered as a sole proprietorship. When disputes arose between appellants and respondents, the respondents issued arbitration notice, to which appellants didn’t comply. The respondents moved to the High Court of Delhi for the appointment of an arbitrator under section 11 (6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996. The appellants challenged the maintainability of the application contending that since the respondents were nationals and habitual residents of the United States of America, the present matter constituted international commercial arbitration under Section 2 (1) (f) (i) of the Arbitration Act. The High Court dismissed the objection stating that as the control and management of respondents’ distributorship was in India, arbitration should be domestic. Eventually, the matter landed in the Supreme Court.
The Court held that, under section 2(1)(f), the nature of the transaction doesn’t matter, if one of the parties is either a foreign national or habitual resident in a country other than India. The matter, therefore, becomes International Commercial Arbitration.
38. Enforcement Directorate vs Kapil Wadhawan: Whether 60-day investigation period under section 167(2) CRPC start from the date of arrest or date of remand?
An appeal was made in the Supreme Court of India against the order of Bombay High Court that granted bail to former Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL) promoters Kapil Wadhwan and Dewan Wadhwan in the Yes bank Money Laundering case. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) failed to file the charge sheet in the present case within the stipulated period of 60 days as per section 167 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC). ED said that it had filed part of the charge sheet through email before the 60 days and a physical charge sheet was filed later.
Staying the bail order of the Bombay High Court, the Supreme Court referred the issue of law to a larger bench as to the investigation period under section 167(2). The authorities are fairly divided on this issue as in cases of Ravi Prakash Singh V State, State of M.P V Rustom and Ors it was held that the date of remand is to be excluded for the computing of investigation period while in cases of CBI V Anupam J Kulkarni and State V Mohd. Ashraft Bhat, it was that the date of remand must be included.
39. kanizfatima v commissioner of police: Right to protest can’t be anytime and anywhere.
The Supreme Court on 7th October 2020 in its verdict in the ShaheenBagh Case held that public places can’t be occupied indefinitely. All such demonstrations expressing dissent must take place only in designated areas. The Court observed that, although dissent is an essential part of a democracy, the right to protest comes with certain duties and obligations.
Rejecting the review petition filed against its verdict, the court held that the right to protest can’t be anytime and anywhere. The court stated that there can be some spontaneous protests but any prolonged protest needs to be in a designated area. The bench headed by Justice Sanjay KishanKaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose, and Justice Krishna Murari, concluded that the order of the court for vacating shaheenbagh doesn’t suffer from any error.
40. Vikash Kumar V UPSC: All persons with disabilities, irrespective of their condition can avail of services of a scribe irrespective of the fact that their disability doesn’t fall under the framework of benchmark disability.
When a person suffering from writer’s cramp needed a scribe for UPSC examination, he was denied the service as his disability didn’t fall under benchmark disability to obtain a certificate of disability. When the matter landed in the Supreme Court, the Court ordered a medical examination of the petitioner which concluded that the petitioner was indeed suffering from writer’s cramp however his disability was assessed at only 6%.
Section 2(r) of the Persons with Disability act, 2016 refers to people having not less than 40% disability.
The Court held that limiting the access of a scribe to only a person who falls under 2 (r), which is a person with benchmark disability, would violate the overall framework of the law. The Court stated that every person with disabilities should have an option to avail scribe services, whether or not his condition, such as writer’s cramp, would fall within the framework of benchmark disability or not. The Court stated that the denial of reasonable accommodation would amount to discrimination and same violates individual dignity.
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