In the Year 2020, we got 11 Constitution Bench Judgments by the Supreme Court of India, and the most interesting part is that all these Judgments are unanimous.
Out of the 11 Judgments, 9 Judgements have been delivered by benches consisting of:
Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra,
Hon’ble Justice M.R. Shah,
Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee,
Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saran, and
Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Bose and
Hon’ble Justice S Ravindra Bhatt,
who were part of benches in 5 and 4 cases respectively.
Let’s have a quick recap of the Constitution Bench Judgments delivered by Supreme Court in the year 2020:
1. Supreme Court While Exercising Its Review Jurisdiction Can Refer The Questions Of Law To Larger Bench
In the case of Kantaru Rajeevaru vs Indian Young Lawyers Association, reported in (2020) 3 SCC 52, the 9 Judges Bench of Supreme Court comprising Hon’ble C.J. SA Bobde, and Hon’ble Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, M M Shantanagoudar, L Nageswara Rao, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, delivered their Judgment in Sabarimala Case.
The Bench held that the Supreme Court, while exercising its review Jurisdiction can refer the questions of law involved to larger Bench.
2. Supreme Court Refuses To Refer Pleas Challenging Repeal of Article 370 to Larger Bench
In the case of Shah Faesal vs Union of India reported in (2020) 4 SCC 1, the Supreme Court refused to refer the pleas challenging the repeal of Article 370 to a larger bench. A Bench of Hon’ble Justices NV Ramana, SK Kaul, R. Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, found that there is no conflict between the case of Sampat Prakash and Prem Nath Kaul.
The Court observed that the Judgment of the Court should be interpreted in the context of the facts involved not in a vacuum. Any observation made in a Judgment cannot be selectively picked to give it a particular meaning.
3. Anticipatory Bail Cannot Be Limited For a Fixed Period.
One of the most important and leading Judgment on Anticipatory Bail came in the case of Sushila Agarwal vs State of NCT Delhi (Click to Read). A Bench of 5 Judges comprising Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and S. Ravindra Bhat held that Anticipatory Bail granted under Section 438 CrPC should not be generally limited to a fixed time period, it should be granted without any restriction of time.
4. Acquisition Shall not Lapse, where Government has “Paid” the Compensation.
A 5 Judges Bench of Supreme Court comprising Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and S. Ravindra Bhat held that Acquisition of land shall not lapse under the provisions of Section 24 (2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2012 If the owner has refused to accept the compensation offered or has preferred a reference seeking higher compensation amount.
(Indore Development Authority vs M.L. Sharma reported in (2020) 8 SCC 129]
5. The State Government Not the Medical Council of India has Power to Provide Reservation for In-Service Candidates in P.G. Medical Course.
In the case of T.N. Medical Officers Association v. Union of India (Click to Read) a 5 Judges Bench of Supreme Court comprising Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose, held that only the State Government have the legislative competence to provide reservation of In-Service Candidates for admission in P.G. Courses. The Power is traceable to Entry 25 and List III of the Schedule VII of India’s Constitution.
However, the MCI has no power to provide for reservation to candidates in the matter of admission; MCI can only lay down regulations for maintaining medical college standards.
The Supreme Court has provided that the Judgment shall have prospective effect and the admissions made in contravention of this Judgment shall be saved.
6. Supreme Court Refers Issue of Sub-classification of Scheduled Caste to Larger Bench (E.V. Chinnaiah Judgment to be Reconsidered)
In the case of State of Punjab vs Davinder Singh reported (Click to Read) , the Supreme Court has referred the issue of Sub Classification of Scheduled Caste to a larger bench. The larger Bench will reconsider the Judgment of 5 Judges in the Case of E.V. Chinnaiah vs State of A.P. reported in (2005) 1 SCC 394.
A Bench of Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose observed that reservation is not meant by the framers of Constitution to continue for all times to come. Due to the denial of sub-classification, the right of actually needy people is being denied. On the other hand, those who have come up due to reservation are not being excluded.
7. Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 is Applicable to Cooperative Banks Also
In Pandurang Ganpati Chaugale v. Vishwasrao Patil Murgud Sahakari Bank Ltd, the 5 Judges Bench of Supreme Court held that SARFAESI Act applies to Cooperative Banks, as the Entry banking at Entry 45 List, I include Cooperative Banking too.
A Bench of Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose observed that Parliament can make law under entry 45 List I for recovery of dues of Cooperative Bank, which is the essential function of a Bank.
8. Supreme Court Quashes 100% Reservation for S.T. Candidates by Andhra Pradesh Government
In Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh (Click to Read), the Supreme Court quashed the decision of Andhra Pradesh Government to provide 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribe Candidates.
A Bench of Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose found that the reservation has been extended without any rhyme and reason. Also, the decision is clearly in violation of the verdict of Indira Sawhney Case.
9. Limitation Period of 45 Days for Filing Reply under S. 13 of C.P. Act cannot be extended by District Forum.
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of New India Assurance vs Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Pvt. Ltd held that District Forum has no authority to extend the limitation period of 45 days for filing reply as provided under Section 13 of the CP Act 1986.
A Bench of Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that District forum can only grant 15 days extended time over 30 days for filing reply, no beyond that.
10. Merely because the IO is Complainant, the Accused is not Entitled to Acquittal under NDPS Act
In the case of Mukesh vs State (Narcotics Branch Delhi) (Click to Read) a 5 Judges Bench of Supreme Court held that in a case involving the offence under NDPS Act, where the Investigating Officer is the Complainant, then the accused is not ipso facto entitled to acquittal.
A Bench of Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that bias and unfairness could not be presumed in every case where the IO is complainant, it has to be proved on a case to case basis.
11. State Government has no power to fix the “Minimum Price” of Sugarcane after the Central Government has fixed it.
In the case of West UP Sugar Mills Association v. State of Uttar Pradesh reported in (2020) 9 SCC 548, the Supreme Court’s constitution bench held that, where the Central Government in the exercise of its Power under Entry 33 and 34 of List III of 7th Schedule of Constitution has determined the “Minimum Price” of the sugar cane, then the State Government does not have any power to fix the same.
A Bench of Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee and Vineet Saran, M.R. Shah and Aniruddha Bose observed that the State Government can fix the “Advised Price”, which is higher than the “Minimum Price”, but cannot deviate the “Minimum Price” fixed by the Central Government.
Rajat Rajan Singh
Editor-in-Chief at Law Trend
Advocate, Allahabad High Court Lucknow