Top Thirty Supreme Court Judgement of India in 2020-2021
This article listed the top thirty Supreme Court Judgement of India in 2020-2021 as The year 2020 started like any other year, but who knew that it would change the world in an unimaginable way. There was a time when the entire human race had come to a standstill, everything just froze, the streets were empty for days but the minds of our judiciary were still in function. Even amidst such uncertainty, in adverse situations, we came up with the finest of solutions. We kept the world moving, we came up with the best of solutions for the biggest of problems. This year taught us how so many things in life are never in our control, but how we adapt ourselves to whatever comes to us. Our judiciary has proven to be a constant promising body in our lives, the courtroom might have gone a little empty, but the judgement remained strong and fair, unaffected by the disturbing attitude of the pandemic. This tells us, how the protectors of our constitution will continue to protect it, irrespective of a global threat to the world. Among the numerous supreme court judgements passed this year, we have made an effort to reflect upon the top thirty supreme court judgements of India in 2020-2021.
List of Top Thirty Supreme Court Verdict and Judgement of India in 2020-2021
1.There is no bar on anticipatory bail under 2019 Triple Talaq law: Supreme Court in Rahna Jalal v. State of Kerala and Another, [Criminal Appeal No 883 of 2020]
The Supreme Court held no bar on granting anticipatory bail under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 (Act) if a competent court has heard the complainant Muslim woman before granting such bail.
A three-judge Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee held that it "would be at the discretion of the Court to grant ad-interim relief to the accused during the pendency of the anticipatory bail application, having issued notice to the married Muslim woman."
2.Hindu unmarried daughter entitled to claim maintenance from her father under Section 125 CrPC : Supreme Court in Abhilasha v. Parkash [2020 SCC OnLine SC 736]
A bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan, R Subash Reddy and MR Shah, held that an unmarried Hindu daughter could claim maintenance from her father till she is married, under Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956, provided she pleads and proves that she is unable to maintain herself, for enforcement of which right her application/suit has to be under Section 20 of Act.
3.Protection under Anticipatory Bail should not be fixed for a limited period: Supreme Court in Sushila Aggarwal v. State of NCT of Delhi [2020 5 SCC 1]
In a five-judge bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and S Ravindra Bhat, the Court held that protection granted to a person under Section 438 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) should not be invariably limited to a fixed period and should be in favour of the accused without any restriction on time. Normal conditions under Section 437 (3) read with Section 438 (2) should be imposed. Further, the Court held that the life or duration of an anticipatory bail order does not end generally 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 or peculiar conditions. The Court reaffirmed the principles of Shri Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia & Ors. v. State of Punjab (1980) 2 SCC 565.
4.Navy to grant Permanent Commission for serving women SSC officers: Supreme Court in Union of India v. Lt. Cdr. Annie Nagaraja & Ors. [2020 SCC OnLine SC 326]
The Court in a bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi held that serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers in Indian Navy are entitled to Permanent Commission at par with their male counterparts. Earlier in February, the same bench in The Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya & Ors. 2020 SCC OnLine SC 200, while dismissing the Centre's appeals against Delhi High Court verdict on the appointment of women to command posts, directed that Permanent Commission should be granted to women in the Army regardless of their service, except in combat roles. The Court has also held that absolute exclusion of women from command assignments is unjustified and goes against Article 14.
5.Curative petition and stay on the execution of 2012 Delhi gang-rape convict dismissed in the case of Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi [2020 SCC OnLine SC 264]
The Court dismissed the curative petition of a death row convict in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case and orally rejected the application for stay on execution. Later, on March 20 in a midnight hearing, a bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, Rohinton Fali Nariman, R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, and AS Bopanna dismissed the final plea against rejection of mercy petition of the convicts by the President of India. Afterwards, at 5:30 am on March 20, the four convicts were hanged to death at Tihar Jail.
6.RERA does not bar initiation of proceedings by allotters against builders under Consumer Protection Act, 1986: Supreme Court in Imperia Structures v. Anil Patni [2020 SCC OnLine SC 894]
A two-judge bench of the Court consisting of Justices UU Lalit and Vineet Saran held that the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) does not bar the initiation of proceedings by allotters against the builders under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
“It is true that some special authorities are created under the RERA Act for the regulation and promotion of the real estate sector, and the issues concerning a registered project are specifically entrusted to functionaries under the RERA Act. But for the present purposes, we must go by the purport of Section 18 of the RERA Act”, the Court held.
7.Supreme Court allows service through instant tele-messenger services like WhatsApp, Email & Fax In re Cognisance for Extension of Limitation [Suo Motu (C) No. 3/2020]
A bench of Justice SA Bobde CJ, AS Bopanna and Subhash Reddy, allowed summons and notice to be served through email, fax and instant messaging applications in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order was passed while hearing a suo motu case on extending limitation of statutes due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown,
Similarly, in In Re: Guidelines for Court Functioning Through Video Conferencing During Covid-19 Pandemic [2020 SCC OnLine SC 355], the apex court in April, issued voluminous directions to implement video conferencing in all courts across the country, also stating the need to observe social distancing.
8.Kashmir Lockdown: Suspension on the internet should not be for an indefinite period and must follow Proportionality Test: Supreme Court in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India [2020 3 SCC 637]
A bench of Justice NV Ramana, Surya Kant, and BR Gavai held that freedom of speech and expression and freedom to carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys Constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(g). Suspension of the internet should only be for a reasonable duration, and periodic review should be done. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC cannot be imposed to suppress the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights.
9.The Supreme Court directs CBI probe in Sushant Singh Rajput death case in Rhea Chakraborty v. State of Bihar & Ors. [2020 SCC OnLine SC 654]
The Supreme Court upheld the FIR registered by the Bihar Police and asked Maharashtra Police to hand over the evidence and assist the CBI in relating to the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput while invoking the plenary jurisdiction under Article 142.
10.Extension of limitation due to lockdown not applicable to the period of filing charge sheet under Section 167(2) CrPC: Supreme Court in S Kasi v. State through Inspector of Police [2020 SCC OnLine SC 529]
A three bench judge of Justice Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah and V Ramasubramanian held that its suo motu order extending limitation and the lockdown restrictions of the government would not affect the right of an accused to seek default bail under Section 167(2) of the CrPC. While granting default bail to the accused, the Supreme Court set aside the view of the Single Judge of the High Court that the lockdown restrictions should not give a right to an accused to pray for grant of default bail even though charge sheet has not been filed within the time prescribed under Section 167(2) of the CrPC.
11.Supreme Court orders release of Arnab Goswami in Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra [2020 SCC OnLine SC 964]
Arnab Goswami and Neetish Sarda were granted interim bail after Feroz Mohammad Shaikh, on November 11, 2020, in relation to the alleged suicide of Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik, the Supreme Court on November 27, gave a detailed judgment spelling out the reasons for the November 11 order.
A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee said that the Bombay High Court, in its verdict, abdicated its constitutional duty as a protector of liberty by refusing to grant relief to Goswami. It also observed that prima facie, it could not be held that Goswami had abetted the suicide of Anvay Naik.
"The doors of this Court cannot be closed to a citizen who is able to establish prima facie that the instrumentality of the State is weaponised for using the force of criminal law", said the Court.
12.Offences prescribing maximum sentence of more than seven years but not providing minimum sentences are not 'Heinous Offences', but 'Serious Offences', under JJ Act: Supreme Court in Shilpa Mittal v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2020) 2 SCC 787)
A bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose held that only those offences which prescribe minimum sentence of 7 years or more could be regarded as heinous offences under the Juvenile Justice Act. The Supreme Court in said that offences not providing minimum sentence of 7 years, cannot be treated as heinous offences. Offences prescribing maximum sentence of more than seven years but not providing any minimum sentence or providing a minimum sentence of less than seven years’ imprisonment are not covered by S. 2(33) of the Act.
In exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the apex court stated that such offences shall be treated as “serious offences”.
13.Insulting, abusing SC/ST person not an offence under SC/ST Act unless victim abused on account of caste: supreme Court in Hitesh Verma v. State of Uttarakhand [2020 SCC OnLine SC 907]
A bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi held that insulting or intimidating a person belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) community will not by itself amount to an offence under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of victim belonging to SC/ST community.
14.Supreme Court dismissed the Plea against the election of PM Narendra Modi from Varanasi in 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Tej Bahadur v. Narendra Modi [2020 SCC OnLine SC 951]
The Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by former BSF Jawan, Tej Bahadur Yadav, challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Varanasi constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The judgment was rendered in a Special Leave Petition challenging the Allahabad High Court's dismissal of Bahadur's election petition in December 2019 on the ground of lack of locus standi. The bench of Justice SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian held that the petitioner does not have a cause of action in the present case.
15.State Disaster Management Authorities cannot take a decision to not hold final year exams: Supreme Court in Praneeth K & Ors. v. University Grants Commission [2020 SCC OnLine SC 688]
The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the revised University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines dated July 6, 2020, and held that state governments will not be allowed to promote students without holding final year university examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah further added that although the State Disaster Management Authorities have the power to take measures for prevention and mitigation of a disaster, they cannot take the decision to not hold final year exams. The states may, however, approach UGC for postponement of exams, said the Court.
16.Shareholder household under Domestic Violence Act does not only mean a household of the joint family of which husband is a member: Supreme Court in Satish Chander Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja [2020 SCC OnLine SC 841]
A bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah held that the term “shared household” under Section 2(s) does not only mean a household of the joint family of which husband is a member or in which husband of the aggrieved person has a share. Instead, it means the household belonging to any relative of the husband with whom the women have lived in a domestic relationship.
The Court, therefore, overruled the law laid down in SR Batra v. Taruna Batra [(2007) 3 SCC 169].
17.Daughters become equal coparceners at birth even if born prior to the 2005 amendment to Hindu Succession Act: Supreme Court in Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma & Ors. [2020 SCC OnLine SC 641]
The Supreme Court held that daughters have right in coparcenaries by birth and that it is not necessary that the father should be living when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into force for the daughters to get a share. A bench of Justice Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ. states
“The conferral of right is by birth, and the rights are given in the same manner with incidents of coparcener as that of a son, and she is treated as a coparcener in the same manner with the same rights as if she had been a son at the time of birth.”
To ensure that this decision does not lead to reopening of earlier family settlements or partition suits already decreed, the apex court held that a registered settlement or partition suit decreed prior to December 20, 2004 (the date when the Amendment Bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha), will not be reopened.
18.Prashant Bhushan held guilty for contempt of Court for tweets against CJI SA Bobde: In re Prashant Bhushan & Anr [2020 SCC OnLine SC 698]
The Supreme Court found Advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of Court for his tweets criticising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.
Bhushan had posted a tweet on June 29 with a photo of CJI Bobde sitting on a motorbike. The tweet said:
"CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!"
Previously also, Bhushan had posted another tweet which state:
"When historians in the future look back at the last six years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs."
A bench of Justice Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari held,
“The scurrilous allegations, which are malicious in nature and have the tendency to scandalise the Court, are not expected from a person, who is a lawyer of 30 years standing. In our considered view, it cannot be said that the above tweets can be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary, made bona fide in the public interest.”
The Court further directed him to pay Re. One as fine.
19.Consumer Forum has no jurisdiction to extend the time beyond 45 days for opposite party’s version: Supreme Court in New India Assurance v. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Pvt. Ltd. [2020 SCC OnLine SC 287]
A bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and S Ravindra Bhat held that the District Forum has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the complaint beyond the period of 15 days in addition to 30 days as is envisaged under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act. It further held that the commencing point of limitation of 30 days under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act would be from the date of receipt of the notice accompanied with the complaint by the opposite party, and not the mere receipt of the notice of the complaint.
20.Government order providing 100% reservation for tribal teachers in Scheduled Areas unconstitutional: Supreme Court in Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao & Ors. v.State of A.P. & Ors. [2020 SCC OnLine SC 383]
In a bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose the Court held that the Government Order dated January 10, 2000, issued by the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh providing 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribe candidates in posts of teachers in schools located in scheduled areas is unconstitutional. Further, the Court also concluded that there was no rhyme or reason for the State government to resort to 100% reservation.
21.RBI ban on financial services to Cryptocurrency dealers set aside on the grounds of proportionality: Supreme Court in Internet and Mobile Association of India v. Reserve Bank of India [2020 SCC OnLine SC 275]
A bench of justices Rohinton Nariman, Aniruddha Bose, and V Ramasubramanian held that the RBI's circular, which prevented regulated entities from providing banking services to those engaged in the trading or facilitating the trading in virtual currencies (VCs), was liable to be set aside on the ground of proportionality.
"When the consistent stand of RBI is that they have not banned VCs and when the government of India is unable to take a call despite several committees coming up with several proposals including two draft bills, both of which advocated exactly opposite positions, it is not possible for us to hold that the impugned measure is proportionate", the apex court stated.
22.Shaheen Bagh Protests: Public spaces cannot be occupied indefinitely for expressing dissent: Supreme Court in Amit Sahni v. Commissioner of Police, [2020 SCC OnLine SC 808]
A bench of Justice SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, ruled that democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case involved a blockade of a public road which caused grave inconvenience to commuters.
23.Supreme Court asks Allahabad High Court to monitor CBI probe (Hathras Rape Case): Satyama Dubey v. Union of India [2020 SCC OnLine SC 874]
In the case related to the brutal gang-rape and assault of a 19-year-old Dalit resident of Hathras village in Uttar Pradesh, a bench of Justice SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian directed the Allahabad High Court to monitor the probe.
The Supreme court, “in order to allay all apprehensions and only as a confidence-building measure”, also directed that the security to the victim’s family and the witnesses in the Hathras Gang Rape case shall be provided by the CRPF.
24.Merely referring to feelings of one community or group without any reference to any other community or group is not Hate Speech: Supreme Court in Amish Devgan v. Union of India [2020 SCC OnLine SC 994]
The Division Bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna refused to quash the FIRs registered against News18 anchor Amish Devgan for using the term “Lootera Chisti” in one of his shows. The Court granted interim protection against arrest, subject to his joining and cooperating with the investigation. It further stated though a universal definition of ‘hate speech’ remains difficult, ‘incitement to violence’ was a key ingredient.
25.Scope of Article 15(3) Much Wider than Article 16(4); CAT Upholds 80% Reservation for Women Nurses in AIIMS: CAT
The Principle Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Delhi upheld 80% reservation for women in nursing officer posts. A Bench of Pradeep Kumar, Member (A) and RN Singh, Member (J) on dismissed two pleas against 'gender-based reservation' by stating that the reservation is a special provision for women candidate under Article 15 (3) of the Indian Constitution and is held to be valid.
26.Kerala Brings Ordinance Making Cyber Defamation/Intimidation an Offence Punishable with Imprisonment up to 5 Years
The Kerala Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, has reportedly signed an ordinance to incorporate Section 118A in the Kerala Police Act which makes intimidation, defamation or insulting of any person through social media as an offence punishable with imprisonment of the term up to five years and/or up-to Rs. 10,000/- fine.
27.A dispute between landlord & tenant under Transfer of Property Act is arbitrable except when it is covered by rent control laws: Supreme Court in Vidya Drolia And Others Vs. Durga Trading Corporation [Civil Appeal No. 2402 Of 2019]
Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgement overruled its 2017 judgement in Himagni Enterprise case to hold that any dispute which is related to tenant and landlord under Transfer of Property Act are arbitrable except when they are covered by specific forum created by land control laws.
A three-judge Bench of Justice N.V. Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna, Krishna Murari based the decision on the fact that landlord-tenant disputes are not right in rem but pertain to subordinate right in personem. Any award passed in such disputes shall be executed as a decree of a civil court.
28.Supreme Court issues notice to Kunal Kamra based on petitions filed against him for his tweets
Several petitions seeking criminal contempt action were filed against comedian Kunal Kamra for his tweets on Supreme Court and its judges. He is alleged of scandalising the Supreme Court Judges through his tweets. Attorney General of India has consented to initiate contempt proceeding against Kamra. Therefore, on 18th December, Friday, the Supreme Court issued a notice to Kunal Kamra.
29.The land acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 will not lapse if compensation is tendered in the State treasury: Supreme Court in Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal & Ors. [2020 SCC OnLine SC 316]
In a significant judgment, the Supreme 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.
A bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, S Ravindra Bhat held that the compensation need not be deposited in the Court. 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.
In such a scenario, landowners, who had refused to accept the compensation under the earlier Act, cannot now take advantage of the deemed lapse of acquisition under Section 24 of the new Act of 2013. Further, the Court overruled all the previous precedents in this regard.
30.“Merely because one of the partners of live-in relationship is not of a marriageable age the fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be denied”: Punjab & Haryana High Court in Priyapreet Kaur And Another V. State Of Punjab And Others [CRWP-10828-2020 (O&M)]
In a significant judgement, the Punjab & Haryana High Court held that life and liberty of a live-in couple have to be protected even if one of the partners has not attained marriageable age. A single-Judge Bench of Justice Alka Sarin, remarked that society cannot determine how an individual should live their lives, especially when the individuals were major.
Since the right to choose a partner is a facet of the right to life, the life and liberty of a live-in couple should be protected, Justice Sarin ruled.
Here is to the end of Top Thirty Supreme Court Judgement of India in 2020-2021
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