The Courts, even during the unprecedented situation of Covid-19 had settled many important questions of law with the help of technology i.e through the mode of video conferencing. Here are some important judgements of the year 2020:
INDEFINITE SUSPENSION OF THE INTERNET IS NOT PERMISSIBLE: SC
Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India
The Court by settling down the batch of petitions challenging the legality of the curfew orders and internet shutdown imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the abrogation of the special status of the state, had observed that indefinite suspension of the internet is not permissible and that repeated orders under Section 144 CrPC will amount to abuse of power and the court in its judgement directed the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review all orders of restrictions imposed in the state post the abrogation of the state’s special status within a week.
OFFENCES PRESCRIBING MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF 7 YEARS BUT NOT PROVIDING MINIMUM SENTENCE ARE NOT ‘HEINOUS OFFENCES’
Shilpa Mittal v State of NCT of Delhi and Another
The Supreme Court has observed that an offence under JJ Act, prescribing a maximum sentence of more than 7 years imprisonment but not providing any minimum sentence, or providing a minimum sentence of less than 7 years, cannot be considered to be a ‘heinous offence’, but the ‘Serious offences’ within the meaning of Section 2(33) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
SC DIRECTS POLITICAL PARTIES TO PUBLISH CRIMINAL ANTECEDENTS OF CANDIDATES IN LOK SABHA & ASSEMBLY POLLS
Rambabu Singh Thakur vs Sunil Arora and others
The Supreme Court in this judgement directed all political parties to publish the details of criminal antecedents of their candidates in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls within 48 hours of selection of the candidate or within two weeks of nomination, whichever is earlier.
SC GIVES EX-ROYALE RIGHT TO MANAGE DEITY’S PROPERTY
Sri Marthanda Varma & Anr. v. State Of Kerala & Ors
The hon’ble Supreme Court this year, held that the erstwhile travancore royal family is shebait(manager) of the properties belonging to sree padmanabha, chief deity of famed and rich sree padmanabhaswamy temple in kerala.
SUPREME COURT FINDS PRASHANT BHUSHAN GUILTY OF CONTEMPT FOR HIS TWEETS
In its decision,The Apex Court found Civil Rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt by ‘Scandalising the Court’. The three judge bench said his tweet on photograph of the Chief Justice of India astride a Bike and another on the court’s role in the past six years scandalised the Supreme Court as an institution. The bench fixed the sentence hearing on August 20. The contempt of court act,1971 that punishes with imprisonment which may extend to six months or fine of 2000 or both.
DAUGHTERS HAVE EQUAL COPARCENARY RIGHTS AS OF SONS: SC
Vineeta Sharma v Rakesh Sharma.
A three judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra ruled that a Hindu Woman’s right to be a joint heir to the ancestral property is by birth and does not depend on whether her father was alive or not when the law was enacted in 2005. The decision corrects an obvious anomaly in the interpretation of the crucial amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The court said,”Since the coparcenary is by birth, it is not necessary that the father coparcener should be living as on 9.9.2005. The judgement has overruled 2015 ruling in Prakash v. Phoolwati, a two judge bench, held that the benefit of the 2005 amendment could be granted only to “living daughters of living coparceners” .
SUPREME COURT DISMISSED PLEA TO TRANSFER PM CARES TO NDRF FUND
The Supreme Court rejected the plea for transfer of funds from the PM CARES Fund to the National Disaster Response Fund(NDRF). The court said that they “are two entirely different funds with different objectives and purposes” and “there is no occasion” for such a direction.
The court endorsed the PM CARES as “Public Charitable Trust” to which donors contribute voluntarily and there is no occasion for audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. The bench said “the contributions made by individuals and institutions in the PM CARES Fund are to be released for the public purpose to fulfill the objective of the trust”.
STATES CAN SUB CLASSIFY RESERVED CASTES: SC
State of punjab v Davinder singh& ors.
A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that states can sub-classify Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes in the reservation list to provide preferential treatment to the “weakest of the weak”. The bench expressed the view that the state government has the power to make reservations, also has power to make sub-classification which will not amount to tinkering with the Presidential list of castes.
NO POWER TO GIVE RESERVATION IN FOR IN-SERVICE CANDIDATES TO PG MEDICAL COURSES
T.N. Medical officers Association v. Union of India
The apex court has held that the Medical council of India has no power to make any reservation for in-service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Course in states and only states are allowed to grant the benefit of reservation of seats to in-service doctors in the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test(NEET) postgraduate degree courses by exercise their powers under Entry 25, List 3. The court said the state governments are competent to devise a separate channel of entry for in-service doctors.
SC QUASHED GUJARAT GOVERNMENT’S NOTIFICATION TO EXTEND WORKING HOURS UNDER FACTORIES ACT, 1948
Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha v. State of Gujarat
The Supreme Court has quashed the notification issued by the Gujarat Labour and Employment Department granting exemptions to all factories in Gujarat from provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 relating to daily working hours, weekly working hours, intervals for rest and spread overs of adult workers as well as from payment of overtime wages at double rates viz. Section 59. In this context, the bench has stated that “the pandemic is not a public emergency” within the meaning of Section 5 of the Factories Act threatening security of the country.
PUBLIC PLACES CANNOT BE OCCUPIED INDEFINITELY: SC
Amit Sahni vs. Commissioner of Police
While holding a batch of petitions pertaining to a road blockade at shaheen bagh over Citizenship Amendment Act,2019 in which petitioners claimed that the protests were blocking the roads, affecting the right of free movement of the public. The bench comprising Justices S K Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari held that “Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in designated area” and stated that the Right to protest has to be balanced with the right of the people to use a public road.
STAY ORDER PASSED BY ANY COURT WILL EXPIRE AUTOMATICALLY WITHIN 6 MONTHS: SC
Asian Resurfacing of road agency pvt. ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation
The Supreme Court in this case observed that, In cases where stay is granted in future, the same will end on expiry of six months from the date of such order unless similar extension is granted by a speaking order. The speaking order must show that the case was of such exceptional nature that continuing the stay was more important than having the trial finalized i.e whatever stay has been granted by any court including the High Court on civil or criminal proceedings will automatically expire within a period of six months, unless an extension is granted for good reason within the next six months.
THE SUPREME COURT DIRECTED THE STATE TO COMPULSORILY INSTALL CCTV CAMERAS IN EVERY POLICE STATION
Paramvir Singh Saini vs. Baljit Singh
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in this judgement ordered the centre to compulsory install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in every police station and also in the offices of central agencies like National Investigation Agency(NIA), CBI, etc. which have the power to carry out ‘Interrogations’. The court said that the CCTV and recording equipment would be used as a measure to protect the fundamental right to dignity and life.
FEMALE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO MATERNITY LEAVE EVEN IF THE CHILD IS BORN PRIOR TO JOINING GOVERNMENT SERVICE: SC
Smt. Neeraj v. State of Rajasthan
In the present case, the question arises before the bench that whether a candidate, who has given birth to a child prior to joining the Government service, is entitled for maternity leave under Rule 103 of Rajasthan Service Rules, 1951? The Bench ruled that, A female Government servant is entitled to avail maternity leave, if she joins within the period of confinement, i.e. 15 days before to three months after the childbirth, regardless of the fact that the child was born prior to joining or before issuance of appointment order.
FARMERS HAVE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CONTINUE PROTEST WITHOUT IMPEDIMENT: SC
Rakesh Vaishnav & Ors. V. UOI & Ors.
The Supreme Court said farmers have a constitutional right to continue with their “absolutely perfect” protest as long as their dissent against the controversial agricultural laws did not slip into violence and said their purpose would not be served if the protestors continued to protest without talks. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde suggested setting up a committee to facilitate talks between the protesting farmers and the Central Government to resolve the disputes over the recently passed farm laws. The CJI also suggested the Central Government to put on hold the implementation of the farm laws to facilitate discussions.