The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal and hence, it plays an essential role in the development of the law. It acts as a last resort tribunal, as its rulings cannot be appealed. The Supreme Court is the guardian of the constitution as it upholds the Indian Constitution and protects the rights and liberties of the citizens.
Following are certain landmark Judgements passed by the Supreme Court of India in 2019.
M Siddiq (D) ThrLrs V/s Mahant Suresh Das and Ors
Civil Appeal No 10866-10867 of 2010
Facts of the Case
The suit was filed by a next friend on behalf of the deity BhagwanShri Ram Virajman. The lawsuit was instituted in the year 1989, for the declaration of title of the disputed land and also to restrain the Sunni Waqf Board from interfering or raising objection with regards to the construction of the temple. There were three main parties to the dispute. The 1st party, NirmohiAkhara demanded to construct a Ram temple on disputed land and also wanted the management rights of the land. The 2nd party, Hindu Mahasabha demanded the entire land and so that no part of the land is given to the other two parties. The 3rd party, Sunni Waqf Board requested that the Babri Masjid must be restored to its earlier form. In the year 2010, the Allahabad High Court had held that the disputed land should be divided equally between the above three Litigants. This case is related to the ownership of the land. It is to be decided that, whether a temple should be constructed at the place where the Babri Masjid was in existence.
- Whether the claim made by the Hindu’s is time-barred?
- The disputed land belongs to whom?
The High Court of Allahabad held that the suit filed on behalf of a deity is not barred by the limitation period whereas the two suits filed by NirmohiAkhara and Sunni Waqf Board were held to be time-barred. The Court held that the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land must be handed over for the construction of Ram Mandir. An alternate plot of 5 Acres was allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of Mosque. It was directed to form a board of trustees that must be set up for the construction of the temple. Also, the Central Government was directed to formulate a scheme in this regard within a period of 3 months.
2. Constitutional Validity of IBC
Swiss Ribbons Private Limited and Another V/s Union of India and Others
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 99 of 2018
Facts of the Case
There was a petition filed stating that the provisions mentioned under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Act 2016 violates the Constitution of India. It was also contended that the Act discriminates between the operational creditor and financial creditor. As compared to the financial creditor, the provisions of the act were unfair to the operational creditor. Section 12A states that there is a requirement of 90% voting share of the committee of creditors in order to allow withdrawal of a corporate debtor from the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP). It was argued that section 53 of IBC is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as it is detrimental to the interest of the operational creditors as they rank below all the other creditors.
Whether the provisions mentioned under IBC violates the Constitution of India?
On 25th January 2019, the Court held that there is a clear difference between the financial creditor and the operational creditor. The court explained the difference between the terms after referring to the IBC. The court held that the provisions mentioned under section 12A of IBC are valid. The Court compared the extent of the power of Resolution professional with that of a Liquidator and thus observed that the Resolution Professional exercise administrative powers and does not enjoy quasi-judicial powers. The Court held that the ‘related person’ should be a person who is connected to the defaulting organization, in order to restrain them from participating in the resolution process under section 29A. It was held that section 53 of the IBC does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution. Hence, the Court held that the provision mentioned under the IBC does not violate the Constitution of India.
3. Treating Homebuyers as Financial Creditors
Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Limited and Anr.V/s Union of India and Ors.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 43/2019
Facts of the Case
In 2018, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was amended in order to treat homebuyers as financial creditors. Firstly, the challenge was related to the explanation which was added to section 5(8)(f) of the IBC and after that many petitions were filed by the real estate agent stating that the provisions of the amended act are arbitrary in nature. The real estate companies were of the opinion that, there is a separate remedy for the homebuyers under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016 (RERA) for the Redressal of their grievances.
- Whether the amendments made under IBC violates Article 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India?
- Whether homebuyers can be treated as financial creditors under IBC?
On 9th August 2019, the Court held that the amendments which were made under IBC do not violate Article 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. It was observed by the Court that the amendments were made on the basis of the report of the Insolvency Law Committee. In the case of Chitra Sharma, the Court had given permission to the allottees of the Jaypee to participate in the meeting of Committee of Creditors. It was argued that the advance payment by the homebuyers for booking their flats could not be considered as financial lending and at the most, they could be considered as operational creditors. To this, the court gave a detailed explanation and held that the homebuyers can be treated as financial creditors. It was also argued that the unequal are getting equal treatment on which the court stated that the unequal are not being treated as equal. The Court stated that the RERA must be read harmoniously with the IBC, and in the event of a conflict between them, the IBC will prevail over RERA.
4. Appointment of Amicus Curiae
Anokhilal V/s State of Madhya Pradesh
Criminal Appeal Nos. 62-63/2014
Facts of the Case
Ramlal lodged a missing report of his daughter on 30th January 2013. She was nine years old and was missing since 6 pm. Anokhilal was his neighbour, and he had sent that girl to get a bidi from a Kirana shop, but she never returned back. An FIR was registered on the same day under sections 363 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Anokhilal. On 1st February 2013, the body of the missing girl was found in an open field. Anokhilal was arrested on 4th February 2013 and on 13th February 2013; a charge-sheet was filed. On 19th February 2013, charges were framed under sections 302, 363, 366, 376(2)(f) and 377 of the IPC and under sections 4, 5 and 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).
Issues of the case
- Whether the appellant was given an extended real and meaningful assistance while granting free legal aid?
- Qualification of Lawyers for the appointment of Amicus Curiae or for representing accused in trial for the offences which are punishable with Life Imprisonment or the Death penalty?
The Session Court imposed the death sentence and other sentences onAnokhilal. A Criminal Reference No. 4 of 2013 was registered with the High Court for the confirmation of the death sentence. Also, a criminal appeal no 748/2013 was preferred by Anokhilal for challenging his conviction. High Court upheld the penalties imposed by the Session Court. It was held by the Supreme Court that while granting free legal aid, the appellant was not given an extended real and meaningful assistance. On 18th December 2019, the Supreme Court set aside the order of conviction passed by the Session Court and High Court. Certain norms were laid down so that the infirmities would not be repeated again. One of the norms was that only the lawyers with minimum ten years of practice shall be considered to be appointed as Amicus Curiae or for representing accused in a trial where the offences are punishable with Life Imprisonment or a death penalty.
5. Liquor Consumption Case
Satvinder Singh and Ors. V/s State of Bihar
Criminal Appeal No. 951/2019
Facts of the Case
At Rajauli check-post in Bihar, the Appellants were found drunk inside a private vehicle. A charge-sheet was filed under section 53(a) of the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act 2016. Section 53(a) states that any person who is found consuming liquor in a public place should be punished. An Appeal was filed in the Supreme Court against the order dated 16th February 2018 of the Patna High Court, as it dismissed the application filed under section 482 of Cr.P.C for setting aside the order dated 30th April 2016 by the Judicial Magistrate.
- Whether private vehicles are exempted from the definition of “public place” under the Bihar Excise Act 2016?
- Whether a person can be punished under Bihar laws for consuming alcohol outside Bihar?
A public place is defined under section 2(17A) of the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act. The Keyword under this definition is ‘access’. If any person has access to such a place, then it will be considered as a public place. Section 2 (53) of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 includes both public and private means of transport. In the present case, the Supreme Court held that a private vehicle is not exempted from the definition of a public place. If there is the consumption of liquor in a private vehicle, which is in public place, then it will be considered as an offence under the prohibition laws in Bihar. It was also held that if a person is found drunk in Bihar, then he can be punished under Bihar law irrespective of the fact that, whether he had consumed liquor outside the state. An appeal was dismissed as the issue whether they had consumed liquor within Bihar or not is a question of fact, and this cannot be decided by an appeal which is from the proceeding under section 482 of Cr.P.C.
P. Chidambaram V/s Directorate Of Enforcement
Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction
Criminal Appeal No.1831/2019
(Arising out of S.L.P.(Criminal) No.10493 of 2019 )
Facts of the Case
In 2017, when the CBI had filed a complaint against the India International Exchange (INX) media for violating the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval given to the company and receiving overseas funds to the sum of Rs 305 crores. The Finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and his son ( Karti Chidambaram) were involved in the INX Media and money laundering case. His son is the main accused, and he had received bribes from the company. When his father was the finance minister, he only gave the clearance to him for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and evaded punitive measures for not having the necessary approvals from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate(ED) lodged a related money-laundering case.
IndraniMukerjea and her husband (Peter Mukherjea), are co-founders of INX media.
Whether the finance minister misused his position?
Delhi High court had allowed IndraniMukerjea, who is a prime accused in the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, to turn approver in the INX case and Karti Chidambaram was arrested by CBI. The court sends him to one-day police custody. The High Court grants interim protection from arrest to P Chidambaram. The court had rejected a bail appeal filed by P Chidambaram.
The Supreme Court ordered that the Finance minister was ignoring the ‘serious illegalities’ committed by INX media by abusing their official position. The court asked Karti Chidambaram to appear before the CBI on 23rd August. Later, the court had ordered that an anticipatory bail granted to former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case.
Mukesh and Anr V/s State For NCT of Delhi & Ors
Criminal Appeal No. 607-608 of 2017
(Arising out of S.L.P (Criminal) No. 3119-3120 of 2014
Facts of the Case
In Delhi, a 23-year-old paramedic student was raped and assaulted by six men in a moving bus on the night of 16th December 2012. She, as a victim, was later named Nirbhaya by the general public. On 29th December, she died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. The six (6) accused were arrested by the Delhi police. Out of this six accused, one was a minor, and the other one had committed suicide in Tihar Jail.
- Why didn’t the Minor get capital punishment?
- Delhi court issues death/black warrant it, is it valid?
In September 2013, the Delhi court ordered capital punishment for all the accused. The death warrant is a part of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which lists the time and place of execution.
On 9th July 2018, the three convicts had filed a review plea to the court, but the Supreme Court dismissed the review plea, directing that according to Article 137 of the constitution, there are no grounds which have been created to review 2017 judgment. The court held that in this case, one of the six accused, Ram Singh had committed suicide in the Tihar Jail and one accused was a minor at the time of the commission of the offence and was therefore sent to a reform facility and was released after three years. The court ordered that the four accused will be hung on 22nd January (the date has been further postponed) at 7 am in Tihar Jail.
On December 18, 2019, the Supreme Court of India dismissed the plea filed by Akshay Kumar Singh one of the four convicts of nirbhaya gang rape case. The plea was dismissed as there were no grounds left to review the petition of 2017 verdict again and all the elements of the case have already been covered in the main judgement. However, advocate AP Singh, appearing for Akshay Kumar Singh has asked the court to give three week time to file the mercy petition before the President.
Indian Young Lawyers Association and Ors. V/s The State of Kerala and Ors.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 373 of 2006
KantaruRajeevaru V/s Indian Young Lawyers Association and Ors.
Review Petition (Civil) No. 3358/2018
Facts of the Case
The Indian Young Lawyers Association filed a PIL against the restriction on the entry of women who are of menstruating age, inside the temple. Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Worship (Authorization to Entry) Rules 1956, states the exception of the entry of women who are between the age of 10-50 years to Sabarimala temple based on the celibate nature of the deity. The issue relating to the restriction of women in worship places is not only limited to Sabarimala but also in the cases of Muslim women entering into a Durgah/Mosque and even to the Parsi women who have married to Non-Parsi entering into the holy fireplace of an Agyari.
- Whether the Kerala Hindu Places of Worship (Authorization to Entry) Rules 1956, violates the Constitution of India?
- Whether there was any stay on the Supreme Court order dated 28th September 2018?
On 28th September 2018, the Court held that there should be no ban on the entry of the women inside the Sabarimala temple. It struck down the Kerala Hindu Places of Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules 1956 on the grounds as being violative of Articles 15,25,26 of the Constitution of India. There were several Review petitions filed before the court. There were many questions related to the essential religious practices. Hence on 14th November 2019, the Supreme Court decided to keep the review petitions pending until a larger bench determines such questions. The order dated 14th November 2019 is silent on any stay on the order which was passed on 28th September 2018. The court believed that the decision by a larger bench would answer all the issues which are relating to the rights mentioned under Articles 25 & 26.
9. Striking down of Section 87 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996
Hindustan Construction Company Limited and Anr V/s Union of India and Ors.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1074/2019
Facts of the Case
A set of writ petitions were filed by the Hindustan Construction Company Limited and others challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 87 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, as it was inserted by the Parliament through section 13 of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2019. The provisions of Section 87 provides for an automatic stay on an arbitral award as soon as it is challenged before the court. Application of Section 87 would result in the delay in disposing of the arbitration proceedings. It would also defeat the objects of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, as it leads to an increase in the interference of courts in arbitration cases. In BCCI V/s Kochi Cricket Private Limited, the Supreme Court held that the application of the automatic stay is prospective in nature. The provisions mentioned under section 87 were against the judgement of Kochi Cricket Private Limited.
Whether the provision mentioned under section 87 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 violates the Constitution of India?
Supreme Court held that the provisions mentioned under section 87 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 is being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and it was held to be arbitrary in nature. The court observed that the restoration of the provision relating to the automatic stay of an arbitral award would result into insolvency of the arbitral award holders as the money which they were about to receive in future might get blocked. Hence, the Supreme Court struck down Section 87 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, which was inserted by the Parliament through the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2019.
10. The Police officer cannot attach immovable property under section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code
Nevada Properties Private Limited Through its directors V/s State of Maharashtra and Another
Criminal Appeal No. 1481/2019
Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 1513/2011
Facts of the Case
Nevada Properties Private Limited had filed a criminal appeal arising out of special leave petition. This appeal arises from the order of the Bombay High Court dated 29th November 2010, wherein it was stated that under section 102 of the criminal procedure code, the expression “any property” does not include immovable property. The majority view holds that a police officer during his investigation cannot take custody of an immovable property whereas the minority believed that the police officer has the power to attach/seize any property, i.e. both movable and immovable property. For deciding this case, section 102 of the criminal procedure code has been taken into consideration. The provisions mentioned under section 102 of the criminal procedure code deals with the power of the police officer to seize any property which may have been alleged or suspected to be stolen or which may have been found under such circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of an offence.
Whether the expression ‘any property’ mentioned under section 102 of the Criminal procedure code includes immovable property?
On 24th September 2019, the Court held that the expression ‘any property’ mentioned under section 102 of the criminal procedure code does not include immovable property. The power to attach/seize as discussed under section 102of the criminal procedure code is to be limited only to the movable property. It is observed by the court that if there is an inclusion of immovable property under section 102 of the criminal procedure code, then it may lead to a chaotic situation as the police officers would be holding power to seize immovable property.