Constitutional Law Indian Constitution

Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court

Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court

This article is written by Kanishka Singh 5th Year MIT WPU SOL, it gives insight into Unveiling the Uncelebrated: 15 Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court in 2022

Introduction

Some judgements frequently go unnoticed because they are overshadowed by more prominent cases in the dynamic field of constitutional law. These less well-known decisions, though, can play a crucial role in determining a country’s legal system. The Supreme Court of India issued numerous judgements in 2022 that addressed fundamental legal issues and the interpretation of constitutional clauses. This article aims to shed light on 15 such rulings that may not have received much attention, but have had a significant impact on the legal system.

Union of India v. Alapan Bandyopadhyay [1] (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

2-Judge Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and C.T. Ravi Kumar (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

The main issue in this case concerned whether a writ petition that was brought before the Calcutta High Court to contest an order made in an initial application under Section 25 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 (also known as the “Act of 1985”), could still be maintained. The order in question referred to the transfer of cases from the Principal Bench in New Delhi to the Calcutta Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). The appellant brought up a number of arguments, including claims that the transfer order was biased and made with bad faith.

According to the Supreme Court, Section 25 of the Act of 1985 gives a separate power for the transfer of original applications from one CAT seat to another or from one seat to the principal seat. It’s important to note that this section does not mandate giving the involved party a notice or an opportunity for a hearing.

The Court cited the Constitution Bench decision in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, which had established that CAT orders and rulings could be subject to writ jurisdiction exercised by the Division Bench of the High Court having territorial jurisdiction over the case. Therefore, the jurisdictional High Court within the same State should consider a decision relating to Section 25 of the Act, concerning the transfer of proceedings from one seat to another.

According to this interpretation, the Delhi High Court, not the Calcutta High Court, was the jurisdictional High Court because the writ petition challenged the transfer order issued by the Principal Seat of the Tribunal in Delhi. As a result, the Calcutta High Court’s decision was overturned, and any unjustified criticism of the CAT was removed from the record. The petitioner was given permission to file a complaint with the Delhi High Court, which had jurisdiction over the case.

This decision underlines the significance of accurately determining the High Courts’ jurisdiction in cases involving the transfer of administrative tribunal proceedings and reaffirms the standards set forth in earlier constitutional and legal precedents and is Landmark Constitutional Law Judgment by the Supreme Court.

Punjab State Coop. Agricultural Development Bank Ltd. v. Registrar, Coop. Societies[2]

2-Judge Bench of H.M. Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka;

In this case, the central issue revolved around the applicability of an amended provision, specifically Rule 15(ii) of the Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Land Mortgage Banks Service (Common Cadre) Rules, 1978, which modified the pensionary benefits for employees who retired prior to February 2014. The Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had previously ruled that the amended provision could not be applied to employees who had already retired from service at the appellant Bank. Subsequently, appeals were filed challenging this decision.

The Supreme Court was confronted with the question of whether the provisions and pay scale relating to pensions could be altered after the retirement of an employee when these rights had vested and accrued with retrospective effect.

The Court referred to the Constitution Bench judgment in Railway Board v. C.R. Rangadhamaiah, which clarified the distinction between rules that operate prospectively and those that govern the rights of employees already in service, including matters related to promotion, pay scale, salary, and pensions. The Court emphasized that the crucial inquiry was whether a particular benefit had accrued to an employee and whether that benefit was being disturbed. In cases involving pensions, any denial of such accrued benefits would contravene Article 14 (equality before the law) and Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution.

The Court held that the defense of non-availability or shortage of financial resources could not be used by the bank or employer to justify taking away the vested pension rights of employees, which were vital for their socioeconomic security. The Court reiterated that pensions were not a matter of charity or generosity; they constituted an employee’s right, and it was the responsibility of the employer (in this case, the bank) to allocate resources to protect these vested rights.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court affirmed and upheld the judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It ruled that the amendment to Rule 15(ii) could not be applied to employees who had retired before the specified cut-off date and were already receiving pensions under the scheme that was in place before the amendment. This decision underscored the principle that once pensionary benefits had vested and accrued to an employee, they could not be taken away or diminished retroactively by subsequent rule changes. This is a Landmark Constitutional Law Judgment by the Supreme Court

Neil Aurelio Nunes (OBC Reservation) v. Union of India[3]

2-Judge Bench of HM Justices Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna;(Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

In this case, a series of Article 32 writ petitions were filed challenging the reservation introduced for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All-India Quota (AIQ) seats for undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) medical courses. The reservations were introduced through a notice issued by the Union of India on July 29, 2021, allocating 27% for OBC and 10% for EWS.

Several legal issues were raised before the Supreme Court, with three principal arguments:

  1. Legality of EWS and OBC Reservation in AIQ Seats: The petitioners argued that AIQ seats were meant to be free from reservations and awarded solely based on merit, particularly for PG courses.
  • Midway Introduction of Reservation: It was contended that introducing reservation midway through the admission process for the academic year 2021-2022 amounted to changing the rules of the game post-commencement.
  • Extent of Reservation in PG Courses: The petitioners also argued that the reservation for SC, ST, and OBC candidates in PG courses under AIQ seats exceeded the limits mandated by previous Supreme Court judgments, specifically referring to the cases of Pradeep Jain v. Union of India and Jagadish Saran v. Union of India.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, examined the interplay between the concepts of “merit” and “reservation” and their relationship with Articles 15(1), 16(1), 15(4), and 16(4) of the Indian Constitution. It held that Articles 15(4) and 16(4) are not exceptions but are facets of equality mentioned under Articles 15(1) and 16(1), respectively. The Court emphasized that “merit” and “reservation” are not opposed to each other but should be considered within the broader context of Articles 15 and 16.

The Court also considered the role and nature of common competitive-cum-entrance examinations in determining merit. It held that merit should be assessed while taking into account the social background, disadvantages, and handicaps faced by the candidates for whom reservation has been introduced. The Court cited previous judgments to support the idea that examination scores are not the sole indicators of excellence or capability, and merit should be evaluated in the context of equalizing opportunities for candidates from diverse social backgrounds.

Regarding the challenge related to changing the rules midway through the admission process, the Court relied on Clause 11 of the admission brochure, which stated that the admission process would formally begin after the notification of the seat matrix by the counselling authority (Government of India). Since the notice introducing reservation was issued before the announcement of results, the Court concluded that the rules of the game had not been changed to the detriment of participants.

The Court also examined previous judgments, such as K. Manjusree v. State of A.P., to clarify when changes to the rules of the game could be considered prejudicial to participants and when they could not.

In light of these findings, the Court rejected the challenges to the implementation of the notice and the reservation in the AIQ seats for the 2021-2022 academic year. The judgment underscored the importance of considering reservation policies in the context of constitutional equality principles and the specific circumstances of each case.

Jarnail Singh v. Lachhmi Narain Gupta[4]

3-Judge Bench of HM Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and B.R. Gavai


In this case, the Supreme Court was tasked with examining the applicability and interpretation of “reservation in the matters of promotion” as introduced by the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1995, effective from June 17, 1995. The Court specifically addressed issues related to Articles 16(4-A) and 16(4-B) of the Indian Constitution, which deal with reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in promotions in public employment.

The Court delved into several key issues:

  • Quantifiable Data for Inadequacy of Representation: The Court discussed the criteria and data required to prove the inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs, which would warrant reservations in promotion. It examined the appropriate yardsticks to determine this inadequacy.
  • Population for Calculating Representation: The Court considered whether the proportion of SCs and STs in the overall population should be taken into account for applying Articles 16(4-A) and 16(4-B) and whether there should be a fixed time period for reviewing the inadequacy of representation.
  • Prospective Applicability of M. Nagaraj Judgment: The Court also discussed the prospective applicability of its earlier judgment in M. Nagaraj v. Union of India and the extent of the Court’s power to make such a determination.

On the first issue concerning quantifiable data, the Court held that it is not within the purview of the judiciary to issue directions or advisory opinions to the executive branch regarding matters that fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the executive under the Constitution. However, the Court emphasized the need for objective, broad-based data reflective of appropriate yardsticks to determine the adequacy or inadequacy of representation.

Regarding the unit for collecting quantifiable data, the Court relied on precedents and explained the concept of “cadre” and “cadre-strength.” It determined that the cadre-strength (i.e., the total number of posts available in the grade for which promotion is sought) should be the unit used to provide reservations in promotions. The Court also elucidated the criteria for defining a “promotional post” and introduced a four-point test to determine whether a post qualifies as such.

On the issue of representation, the Court clarified that adequate representation should not be based on the overall population but should focus on representation within the specific cadre of services.

Regarding periodic reviews, the Court held that while no fixed time-limit can be established, a reasonable period for such reviews should be around 10 years.

Lastly, on the issue of the prospective operation of the M. Nagaraj judgment, the Court referred to judgments from the U.S. Supreme Court and Indian context. It concluded that, in appropriate cases to avoid unsettling seniority and established states of affairs, the M. Nagaraj judgment would have prospective effects.

As a result of these findings, the Supreme Court disposed of the Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) that had been filed and were pending before it, providing clarity on various aspects of reservations in promotions in public employment.

X v. High Court of M. P[5]

2-Judge Bench of HM Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai

In this Article 32 writ petition before the Supreme Court, the petitioner sought reinstatement to her position as a judicial officer after submitting her resignation under distressing circumstances. She alleged that her resignation was a result of alleged sexual harassment by a sitting Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The key points of the Supreme Court’s decision are as follows:

1. Irregular Transfer and Legal Malice: The Court found that the petitioner’s transfer, which occurred after she had filed a complaint against the sitting Judge, was irregular and unbearable for her to continue. The Judges Inquiry Committee, established under the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, had also indicated that the transfer was possibly a hasty reaction to her complaint. The Court referred to the concept of “legal malice” and held that a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution occurs when a state action lacks a plausible reason or discernible principle according to established practices, conventions, and departmental policies. The transfer order, in this case, contravened the High Court’s transfer policy and was thus vitiated by “malice in law.”

2. Inadequate Consideration of Representation: The Court noted that the petitioner’s representation opposing her transfer had not been given due consideration, and therefore, her resignation should not be treated as a “voluntary resignation” made out of free will and choice.

3. Definition of “Resignation”: The Court explained the concept of “resignation” by referring to legal terminology and Supreme Court precedents. It held that a voluntary and willful resignation should not be coerced. In this case, the petitioner’s resignation was deemed coerced due to the extraordinary and unique circumstances she faced in her life.

4. Reinstatement Granted: As a result, the Court ordered the petitioner’s reinstatement to her position as a judicial officer, including all related seniority benefits. The writ petition was partly allowed, but no back wages were awarded.

The judgment concluded with a famous quote attributed to Thomas Fuller and referenced by Lord Denning: “Be ye never so high, the law is above you.” This emphasized the principle that the law applies equally to all, regardless of their status or position.

Kishor Madhukar Pinglikar v. Automotive Research Assn. of India[6]

2-Judge Bench of HM Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi

In this case, the central question at hand was whether the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) qualified as a “State” under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution, thus making it subject to the fundamental rights and principles outlined in Part III of the Constitution.

The Court established certain parameters and tests for determining whether an entity falls within the scope of Article 12 by referring to various precedents, including the Constitution Bench judgment in Pradeep Kumar Biswas v. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology.

The Court observed that the government did not play a role in the establishment, constitution, or operation of ARAI, nor did it make any capital contributions for its establishment. Most of ARAI’s members were not government entities but private entities. The Council responsible for managing and overseeing ARAI’s affairs also operated without significant government interference, with only three out of thirty members being government-nominated. Additionally, ARAI employees were governed by the Memorandum of Articles of Association rather than government guidelines or statutory regulations. The decision-making processes within ARAI did not involve government influence.

Based on these considerations, the Court concluded that ARAI was not functionally, operationally, or administratively dominated by government control. Instead, it enjoyed significant autonomy and freedom in its operations. Therefore, the Court declined to interfere with the Bombay High Court’s view that ARAI was neither an agency nor instrumentality of the government and, as such, was not covered by Article 12 of the Indian Constitution. This decision is a Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court and reaffirmed the distinction between governmental and non-governmental entities concerning the applicability of fundamental rights under the Constitution.

Hotel Priya v. State of Maharashtra [7]

2-Judge Bench of HM Justices K.M. Joseph and S. Ravindra Bhat;

In this case, a batch of Special Leave Petitions was filed by owners of operational restaurants and bars, often referred to as “orchestra bars,” in the state of Maharashtra. They challenged certain conditions imposed on their premises licenses, particularly a condition that limited the number of male and female artists allowed to perform on the stage (maximum 8, with a 4-4 split). The petitioners argued that these conditions were contrary to the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, the Licensing and Controlling Places of Public Amusement Rules, 1960, and violated Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, read with Article 19(1)(g).

The primary contention was that the conditions were arbitrary and discriminatory based on gender, and they failed to establish a reasonable classification. The petitioners also argued that the conditions were not related to the object and purpose of the parent Act and Rules.

The Court carefully examined the relevant provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act, especially Sections 2 and 33, which deal with the power to make rules or regulations for traffic control and maintaining order in public places.

The Court considered the history of litigations between the hotel and orchestra bar owners and the State of Maharashtra, including previous judgments. It emphasized that conditions on licenses must be reasonable and related to the purpose of the Act, rather than arbitrary or unfounded. Morality, the Court stated, cannot be the sole basis for evaluating the validity of such conditions.

The Court scrutinized the cap of 4 female and 4 male artists and found it to be a result of “stereotypical views” about women who perform in bars, which it deemed discriminatory. The Court referred to previous judgments, such as Anuj Garg v. Hotel Assn. of India, Joseph Shine v. Union of India, and C.B. Muthamma v. Union of India, to emphasize that restrictions on women’s choices, even under the guise of protection, are detrimental to their freedom and constitutional rights.

In conclusion, the Court declared the conditions imposing a gender-based cap on the number of performers in orchestras and bands to be void. It criticized the prevalence of gender stereotypes and paternalistic attitudes in society and stated that such attitudes have no place in contemporary India. The judgment underscored the importance of upholding the principles of equality and freedom enshrined in the Constitution.

High Court of Delhi v. Devina Sharma [8]

3-Judge Bench of HM Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli

In this case, two key issues were raised concerning eligibility requirements for appointments and selections to the Delhi Higher Judicial Services (DHJS):

1. Minimum Age Requirement: The first issue questioned the power of the Delhi High Court to set a minimum age of 35 years for appearing in the DHJS examination, alleging that it contradicted Articles 233 and 235 of the Indian Constitution.

2. Cut-off Date for Age Determination: The second issue revolved around the cut-off date for age determination, as the DHJS examinations were not conducted for two consecutive years (2019-2020 and 2020-2021) due to institutional reasons and the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge was based on Rule 14-C of the Delhi Judicial Services Rules, 1970, which stipulated a maximum age of 32 years as of January 1 of the year in which applications for appointment were invited.

Regarding the second issue, the Delhi High Court allowed eligible candidates who missed the examinations in 2019 and 2020 due to exceptional circumstances to participate in the upcoming examinations, treating it as a one-time measure.

Regarding the first issue of the minimum age requirement of 35 years, the Court relied on the recommendations of the Shetty Commission Report and a previous 3-Judge Bench judgment in the case of All India Judges Association v. Union of India. The latter judgment had approved the fixation of a minimum age of 35 years and a maximum age of 45 years for candidates applying for Higher Judicial Services.

The Supreme Court held that setting minimum or maximum age requirements for entry into judicial services is a matter of policy and falls within the prerogative of the employer, in this case, the High Court. The Court emphasized that age is not irrelevant when considering judicial appointments, as maturity and experience are valuable attributes for those holding senior positions in the judiciary.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court affirmed the validity of the eligibility criteria, specifically the minimum age requirement of 35 years, as set by the Delhi High Court for DHJS appointments. The Court upheld the authority of High Courts to determine such eligibility criteria in the exercise of their rule-making powers.

Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement v. Union Of India[9]

One Rank One Pension Policy (OROP) Judgment

3-Judge Bench of HM Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath

In this case, the challenge was made to the One Rank One Pension (OROP) policy decision issued by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, dated November 7, 2015. The key points and findings of the judgment are as follows:

Background:

  • The OROP policy decision fixed the cut-off date as July 1, 2014, for the purpose of determining pension benefits for ex-servicemen of the defense forces.
  • The policy was challenged as arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution.

Parliamentary Committee Reports: The petitioners relied on the Koshiyari Report, submitted by the Standing Committee of Parliament in 2011, which emphasized the principle of OROP. They argued that ex-servicemen retiring from the same post should receive the same rate of pension.

Legitimate Expectation: The Court explained the difference between “promissory estoppel” and “legitimate expectations.” It held that mere announcements or assurances by one minister of one department cannot create promissory estoppel or legitimate expectations, especially when views of multiple departments or ministries are involved.

Discrimination: The Court addressed the argument of discrimination based on the policy’s impact on the length of service and pension fixation. It noted that factors such as the Assured Career Progression Scheme (ACP) and the Modified Assured Career Progression Scheme (MACP) could lead to different pension scales for individuals with the same length of service. The Court held that this alone did not amount to discrimination.

Financial Implications: The Court recognized the importance of financial implications in pension fixation. If the financial implications of a policy were too high and could affect the fund corpus, it was considered a relevant consideration in interpreting the policy.

Rate vs. Amount of Pension: The Court clarified that discrimination might arise if the rate of pension was calculated differently for employees or ex-servicemen retiring from the same post at different times. However, if the method of calculation was the same, and only the actual amount received under pension varied, it would not necessarily constitute discrimination.

Judicial Restraint: The Court emphasized that judges and courts should not interfere in policy matters that involve complex technical, economic, and balancing of competing interests. Courts are not the appropriate remedy for polycentric problems that fall within the domain of elected representatives and policymakers.

Conclusion: The Supreme Court upheld the OROP policy decision dated November 7, 2015, with the cut-off date of July 1, 2014, as issued by the Government of India. The petitions were disposed of accordingly.

Pattali Makkal Katchi v. A. Mayilerumperumal[10] (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

2-Judge Bench of HM Justices L. Nageshwara Rao and B.R. Gavai;

In this case, a challenge was made to the validity of various provisions of the Tamil Nadu Reservation for the Most Backward Classes and Denotified Communities Act, 2021. The Act provided reservation for the Vanniyakula Kshatriya community within the Most Backward Classes (MBCs) and Denotified Communities (DNCs). The Court addressed several constitutional issues in this case:

  1. Sub-Classification Amongst Backward Classes: The Court held that sub-classification among backward classes and MBCs is permissible as long as separate quotas are provided for each of them. This was in line with the judgment in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India.
  • Constitutional Bar on Competence of the State: The Court clarified that even though the Act of 2021 was ancillary to the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services Under the State) Act, 1993, which is placed in the Ninth Schedule, it did not violate Article 31-B. The State had the power to pass a fresh legislation as long as it was not repugnant or contrary to the Act of 1994. Therefore, Presidential Assent under Article 31-C was not required.
  • Caste-Based Classification: The Court reiterated that caste-based classification is permissible, and there is no constitutional or legal bar to categorizing backward classes as backward and more backward.
  • Existence of Quantifiable Data: The Court found that there was no sufficient existing data proving inadequate representation of the Vanniyakula Kshatriya community. The mere high population of a community does not imply that they deserve “adequate representation,” as it cannot be equated with “proportionate representation.” The data relied upon was antiquated and insufficient to justify the classification. The Court held that classification must be based on sound discrimination supported by reason and logic and must have a rational relation to the objects sought to be achieved.
  • Unconstitutionality: The Court ultimately struck down the Act of 2021 as unconstitutional due to the lack of sufficient quantifiable data for the classification. However, it set aside other findings of the Madras High Court that affirmed the constitutionality of the Act.

In summary, the Court allowed the challenge to the Act primarily on the ground of inadequate quantifiable data to justify the classification of the Vanniyakula Kshatriya community within the MBCs and DNCs. This is one of the Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court

Jacob Puliyel v. Union of India[11]

2-Judge Bench of HM Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai:


In this Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case, several issues related to COVID-19 vaccination and government mandates were examined by the Supreme Court of India. The key points and outcomes of the case are as follows:

  1. Scope of Judicial Review in Public Health Policies: The Supreme Court clarified that even in matters of public health and vaccination policies, judicial review is permissible based on tests such as constitutionality, adherence to legal provisions, delegation of power, and compliance with statutory and larger policies. The court emphasized that the Constitution cannot be ignored, even during a pandemic.
  • Compulsory Vaccine Mandates: The court considered the compulsory vaccination mandates imposed by the government as a precondition for accessing public services. It held that individuals have a fundamental right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, citing previous judgments. The court acknowledged the importance of a precautionary approach by the state to minimize the risk of a pandemic. However, it ruled that compulsory vaccination mandates, in this case, were disproportionate and regressive, as they did not significantly reduce the risk of transmission and had proven ineffective against new variants of COVID-19.
  • Public Disclosure of Clinical Trial Data: The court discussed the issue of public disclosure of clinical trial data related to COVID-19 vaccines. It referred to the existing statutory framework under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019, empowering the Central Government to conduct accelerated clinical trials. The court ruled that full disclosure of primary clinical trial data was not necessary, as long as results and key findings were published, released, and disclosed to the public. This was considered sufficient compliance with statutory requirements and international practices.
  • Improper Collection and Reporting of Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFIs): The court examined the collection and reporting of AEFIs by the Central Government. It found that national expert bodies and groups were involved in vaccine safety surveillance. The court concluded that the Central Government had the requisite data and proper monitoring mechanisms in place for AEFIs.

In summary, the Supreme Court declared compulsory COVID-19 vaccination mandates as unconstitutional due to their disproportionate impact.

However, it ruled in favor of the Union Government on other issues related to clinical trial data disclosure and AEFI monitoring. This case clarified the scope of judicial review in public health matters and emphasized the importance of balancing public health measures with individual rights.

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Bhola Kumhar v. State of Chhattisgarh[12]

2-Judge Bench of HM Justices Ajay Rastogi and C.T. Ravikumar;

In this case, the main issue before the court was whether a convict is entitled to compensation for being kept incarcerated beyond the period of the sentence imposed by a competent court, resulting in the deprivation of personal liberty. Here are the key details and outcomes of the case:

  • Background: The appellant had been convicted and sentenced to 12 years of rigorous imprisonment by the District and Sessions Court for offenses under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. On appeal, the Chhattisgarh High Court confirmed the conviction but reduced the sentence to 7 years.
  • Compensation for Excessive Custody: The appellant had served a period of imprisonment that exceeded the sentence due to the state’s failure to include the remission period in the calculation. As a result, the appellant had been in custody for 3 years, 3 months, and 16 days longer than the sentence.
  • Legal Basis for Compensation: The court examined the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000, and the Madhya Pradesh Jail Manual, 1968 (adopted in Chhattisgarh). It concluded that the period of remission should be included in the overall period of the sentence.
  • Violation of Fundamental Rights: The court held that the extended imprisonment, caused by the state’s negligence, amounted to a violation of fundamental rights under Article 19(1)(d) read with Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Court’s Power to Award Compensation: The court relied on previous judgments, including Ambica Quarry Works v. State of Gujarat and A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak, to establish that it has the power to award compensation when manifest illegality or palpable injustice has occurred.
  • Vicarious Liability of the State: The state was held vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of its officers that resulted in the appellant’s prolonged imprisonment.
  • Compensation Award: The court awarded compensation of Rs 7.5 lakhs to the appellant as a remedy for the wrongful and illegal imprisonment beyond the sentence imposed by the competent court.

This judgment is significant as it highlights the court’s authority to grant compensation in cases of wrongful imprisonment and underscores the state’s responsibility for ensuring the proper administration of justice. It serves as a precedent for awarding exemplary compensation in such cases.

Satender Kumar Antil v. CBI[13]

2-Judge Bench of Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh

This judgment is a landmark in the field of constitutional-criminal jurisprudence, particularly concerning the granting of bail in various categories of offenses. The court categorized offenses under different enactments into four broad categories, considering the severity and stage of consideration for bail applications. It discussed the general approach courts should follow when granting bail in such cases:

  • Origin of Bail Concept: The judgment discussed the historical background of the concept of bail and emphasized the principle of “bail as a rule and jail as an exception.” It referred to various landmark cases in criminal jurisprudence that established this principle.
  • Correlation with Fundamental Rights: The court connected the concept of bail with individual liberties and fundamental rights, especially Articles 19(1)(a), 19(1)(d), and 21 of the Indian Constitution. It stressed the importance of upholding these rights even in the context of bail.
  • Guidelines for Bail: The court laid down detailed guidelines for bail at different stages of investigation and trial, from the registration of an FIR to the suspension of a sentence in criminal appeals. These guidelines were intended for use by magistrates, sessions courts, and appellate courts when considering bail applications.
  • Specific Provisions: The judgment also discussed specific provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and their interpretation concerning bail. This included Sections 41, 41-A, 60-A, 87, 88, 170, 204, 209, 436-A, and 440 of the CrPC.
  • Arrest Powers: The court emphasized that the power to arrest and the necessity of arrest are distinct. It stated that arrests should only be made when necessary and that Section 41-A should be followed, which requires the police to issue a notice and record reasons before arresting.
  • Warrant Issuance: The court recommended that courts should issue Non-Bailable Warrants (NBWs) exceptionally, especially in heinous offenses, and only when there is a risk of evidence tampering. NBWs should not be the norm, as they impede individual liberty.
  • Filing of Chargesheet: The judgment clarified that it is not mandatory for the accused to be in custody at the time of filing the chargesheet. Actual custody during the investigation is not necessary for the filing of the chargesheet, subject to the accused’s cooperation and response to notices.
  • Enlargement on Bail: At various stages, including when the process is issued, the court recommended the enlargement of the accused on bail unless there is a clear necessity to keep the accused in custody.
  • Section 436-A: The court emphasized that accused persons should be granted bail when they have served half of the maximum period of imprisonment specified for the offense they are charged with. This period should be calculated from the date of custody during investigation, inquiry, or trial.
  • Conditions for Bail: The court stressed that bail conditions should be reasonable and conducive for the accused to comply. Conditions that are difficult to meet are considered onerous and violative of Section 440 of the CrPC.
  • Call for a Separate Bail Act: The judgment called upon the Parliament to consider introducing a separate enactment known as a “Bail Act” to streamline and consolidate bail provisions for various categories of offenses in one comprehensive piece of legislation.
  • Detailed Guidelines: The judgment concluded by issuing detailed guidelines summarizing the key points discussed in the judgment regarding the grant of bail in different circumstances.

This judgment is significant as it provides comprehensive guidance on bail-related matters, emphasizing the importance of individual liberties and fundamental rights in the criminal justice system. This is one of the Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court. It calls for a more rational and standardized approach to bail across various categories of offenses.

Aishat Shifa v. State of Karnataka[14]

Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia

The case you’ve described involves a significant legal dispute over the wearing of the Hijab by Muslim students in a government pre-university college in Karnataka. The state government had issued an order restricting students from wearing the Hijab, citing the Karnataka Education Act and its Rules. This order was challenged in court, leading to a division of opinion in both the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court.

The Karnataka High Court, in a 3-Judge Bench, upheld the ban on wearing the Hijab, arguing that it is not an essential religious practice for Muslims.

In the Supreme Court, a Division Bench consisting of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia delivered a split verdict on October 13, 2022. Justice Gupta confirmed the Karnataka High Court’s judgment and upheld the ban on wearing the Hijab, while Justice Dhulia held the opposite, ruling in favor of those challenging the ban.

The case’s current status is pending, as it has been placed before the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to decide whether to refer it to a larger bench, either a 3-Judge Bench or a 9-Judge Bench, for further consideration. This is one of the Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court. This suggests that the matter is of significant constitutional and legal importance and requires further deliberation and a final decision by the Supreme Court.

Arunachala Gounder v. Ponnusamy[15] This is one of the Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court.

Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari

In this case, the court had to determine the inheritance rights over the self-acquired property of a Hindu male who died intestate (without a will) before the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act. The central issue was whether this property should devolve onto the deceased’s daughter or onto his brother’s son through survivorship.

The court’s ruling was based on a careful analysis of Hindu laws, customs, ancient texts, and judicial precedents. It emphasized that various sources, including ancient texts, commentaries, and judicial decisions, have consistently recognized the inheritance rights of female heirs, with wives and daughters being among the primary beneficiaries.

The court interpreted Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, which was enacted to address limitations on the inheritance rights of Hindu women. It found that the legislative intent behind this provision was to remedy the historical limitation that Hindu women could only claim a life interest in the properties they inherited, rather than an absolute interest.

In light of this analysis, the court held that the right of a widow or daughter to inherit self-acquired property or shares received in the partition of coparcenary property from a Hindu male who died intestate was well-established under both the old customary Hindu law and various judicial pronouncements. Therefore, the court affirmed the inheritance rights of the daughter in this case, recognizing her entitlement to the self-acquired property of her deceased father.

Conclusion

These 15 lesser-known rulings from the Supreme Court in 2022 have had a significant impact on the constitutional and legal landscape of India, despite the fact that the legal community frequently focuses on high-profile cases. Regardless of the level of public attention they received, they stand for the Court’s dedication to upholding fundamental rights, ensuring justice, and fostering equality for all citizens. These decisions demonstrate the Court’s commitment to fairness and the rule of law.


[1] (2022) 3 SCC 133

[2] (2022) 4 SCC 363

[3] (2022) 4 SCC 1

[4] (2022) 10 SCC 595

[5] 2022 SCC OnLine SC 171

[6] SLP No. 6637 of 2019, order dated 10-2-2022 (SC)

[7] 2022 SCC OnLine SC 204 (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

[8] (2022) 4 SCC 643 (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

[9] (2022) 7 SCC 323 (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

[10] 2022 SCC OnLine SC 386 (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

[11] 2022 SCC OnLine SC 533

[12] 2022 SCC OnLine SC 837

[13] (2022) 10 SCC 51

[14] 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 842 (Landmark Constitutional Law Judgments by the Supreme Court)

[15] 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 71

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