TOP TEN JUDGMENTS OF THE HON'BLE SUPREME COURT THAT MADE A MARK IN 2020






Vaishnavi

Intern, Legal Angles Patna

The year 2020 embarked a roller coaster ride for everyone with the emergence of pandemic caused by the outbreak of Noble Coronavirus, even in this unprecedented times, The Supreme Court of India have delivered many important judgments throughout the year.


1. A WELCOME STEP TO BREAK THE GENDER STEREOTYPES

Case: Union of India v Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja

Citation: (2020) SCC OnLine SC 326

Date of judgement: 17th February 2020

Bench: DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi JJ.

Judgement: In a significant judgment on gender equality, the Supreme Court smashed the glass ceilings and directed that Permanent Commission should be granted to women in the army regardless of their service, in all the ten streams where the Union Government has already taken a decision to grant Short Service Commission to women. Justice DY Chandrachud said, “Women in the Army is an evolutionary process” and held that absolute exclusion of women from command assignments is against Article 14 of the Constitution and unjustified. Therefore, the policy that women will be given only "staff appointments" was held to be unenforceable by the Court. It directed the government to give PC to all serving women officers who have completed 14 years of service and to also give pensionary benefits to those who were retired on account of not being granted the commission. It added that service conditions of men and women officers would be the same and that the latter shall also be provided with choices of specialisations.


2. LAND ACQUISITION LAW CHANGES

Case: Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal & Ors. 

Citation: (2020) SCC OnLine SC 316

Date of judgement: 6th March, 2020

Bench: Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, S Ravindra Bhat

Judgement: The court held that land acquisition under the earlier law of 1894 will be deemed to have lapsed only when government authorities fail to take possession and pay compensation in the treasury. The compensation need not be deposited in the court and once the compensation amount is tendered by the State in the government treasury, its obligation will stand complete with respect to the payment of compensation. The bench read 'or' in Section 24(2) of the RFCTLARR Act as 'and' to hold that the twin conditions of failure to pay compensation and also to take possession must cumulatively happen for the acquisition proceedings under the old land acquisition law to lapse Furthermore, the landowners who had refused to accept the compensation under the earlier Act now cannot take advantage of the deemed lapse of acquisition under Section 24 of the new Act.


3. RIGHTS OF A DAUGHTER UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF HUF

Case: Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma & Ors

Citation: (2020) SCC OnLine SC 641

Date of judgement: 11th August, 2020

Bench: Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ.

Judgement: In 2005, an amendment was made in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 to give daughters the same rights in the coparcenaries (parental) property as the sons but did not clarify on whether it was necessary for a man to be alive on the date of the 2005 amendment to give his daughter the right in the parental property. The Apex court has overruled the observations made in Prakash v. Phulavati and Mangammal v. T.B. Raju and laid down that daughters and sons have equal coparcenaries rights in a Hindu undivided family (HUF) and this right of the daughter is secured at the time of her birth. The father being alive or not on the date of the amendment and the marital status of the daughter will not affect her rights in any manner.


4. INTERNET SHUTDOWN IN KASHMIR

Case: Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India

Citation: (2020) SCC OnLine SC 25

Date of judgement: 10th January, 2020

Bench: N.V. Ramana, Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai

Judgement: The Hon’ble court ruled against the telecommunication blackout in Jammu and Kashmir following the scrapping of Article 370 and ordered the Union to review all restrictions on communications imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. It observed, ‘the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g)’. This judgment establishes that the internet serves as an important medium through which the fundamental rights to free expression and occupation is actualised. Also, the power under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure cannot be used as a tool to prevent the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights. The Court is of the opinion that the provisions of Section 144, Cr.P.C. will only be applicable in a situation of emergency and for the purpose of preventing obstruction and annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed. It even 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 7 days.


5. NO DEADLINES FOR ANTICIPATORY BAILS

Case: Sushila Aggarwal v. State of NCT of Delhi

Citation: (2020) 5 SCC 1

Date of judgement: 29th January, 2020

Bench: Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, S Ravindra Bhat

Judgement: The Supreme Court ruled that anticipatory bail granted to an accused on apprehension or threat of arrest should not invariably be limited to a fixed period, as it is not in larger societal interest to limit the liberty of citizens, and it could continue till the end of trial unless the court wants to limit the bail, it can attach special features.


The bench, through this judgment, had examined two crucial aspects in its verdict that is whether the protection through an anticipatory bail be time-bound and what should be the span of the bail so granted.

The Court further held that life or duration of an anticipatory bail order does not end normally at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court, or when charges are framed but can continue till the end of the trial except in special and peculiar and also reaffirmed the principles of Shri Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia & Ors. v. State of Punjab.[1]


6. VALIDITY OF SC/ST (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT AMENDMENT

Case: Prithvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India & Ors

Citation: (2020) 4 SCC 727

Date of judgement: 10th February, 2020

Bench: Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and S Ravindra Bhat JJ.

Judgement: The top court upheld the constitutional validity of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018, which was enacted to nullify the effects of the March 20, 2018 judgment of the SC which had diluted the provisions of the Act.The bench held that a preliminary inquiry is no longer a must when a complaint under this law is made. Also, no prior approval of appointing authority or a senior police officer is required before registration of an FIR. Further, there cannot be anticipatory bail in these cases until a court is satisfied that no case under the SC/ST Act is prima facie made out.


7. SUO MOTU COGNIZANCE OF COVID -19 CAUSED MIGRANT CRISIS

Case: Case: In Re: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers

Citation: SUO MOTU WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No(s) 6/2020

Date of judgement: 28th May, 2020

Bench: Ashok Bhushan, Snajay Kishan Kaul, and MR Shah JJ

Judgement: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the problems and the miseries of migrant labourers and issued notice to the Centre, states and Union Territories seeking their replies on the steps taken to tackle the situation in hand. It had also directed the Centre and state governments to facilitate the transportation of stranded migrant workers to their native places within 15 days and for those who had already returned, the court ordered states and union territories to ensure registration at village and block levels to identify their employability and provide them jobs in the home states

8. RBI BAN ON CRYPTOCURRENCY SET ASIDE

Case: Internet and Mobile Association of India v. Reserve Bank of India

Citation: (2020)SCC OnLine SC 275

Date of judgement: 4th March, 2020

Bench: Rohinton Fali Nariman, Aniruddha Bose and V Ramasubramanian JJ.

Judgement: The Supreme court quashed a 2018 circular by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which put a complete ban on banking services for the virtual currency. Though the court acknowledged that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has the power to regulate the monetary and credit system, which also extends to the regulation of virtual or crypto currencies but the 2018 circular was held as disproportionate measure and not a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2). This decision was hailed as a welcome step as the RBI will now be modifying the provisions on the better use of it rather than putting a complete ban.


9. CONSIDERATION ON TAKING THE POWER OF DISQUALIFICATION BY SPEAKER

Case: Keisham Meghachandra v. The Hon’ble Speaker Manipur Legislative Assembly & Ors

Citation: (2020) SCC OnLine SC 55

Date of judgement: 21st January, 2020

Bench: Rohinton Fali Nariman, Aniruddha Bose and V Ramasubramanian JJ.

Judgement: The Apex Court have urged Parliament to reconsider on whether a Speaker ought to decide on disqualification petitions filed under the 10th Schedule to the Constitution of India. After taking into account the anticipation of the Speaker acting in a partisan manner due to political loyalties, suggested that the Parliament should amend the Constitution to provide for an independent mechanism, such as a permanent tribunal headed by retired judges, to decide disputes under Tenth Schedule. The Court also held that the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly should decide on a petition seeking disqualification of a member within a period of 3 months unless found some exceptional reasons.

As a repercussion of this order, the Supreme Court in March restrained Manipur BJP minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar from entering the Legislative Assembly till further orders. The Court also declared that he will cease to be a Minister. This extraordinary order was passed by the bench headed by Justice Nariman after noting that the Speaker failed to decide on the disqualification petition against Shyamkumar within the time period stipulated in the earlier order.


10. CONTEMPT PETITION AGAINST SEASONED LAWYER PRASHANT BHUSHAN

Case: In re Prashant Bhushan & Anr

Citation: (2020) SCC OnLine SC 698

Date of judgement: 31st August, 2020

Bench: Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari JJ.

Judgement: This judgement hogged the limelight after getting heavily criticised by masses across various social media platforms. The Supreme Court found Advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his tweets criticising Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde and formed the opinion that his tweets shook public confidence in judiciary and thererby amounted to scandalizing the court. Bhushan did not apologize and stood firm on his assertions in a bona fide belief which he continued to hold regarding the last four CJIs and their alleged role in destruction of democratic values and was held guilty of the contempt and sentenced to a fine of Re 1. The lawyer deposited the fine but also sought a right of intra-court appeal to challenge this order.

[1](1980) 2 SCC 565

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