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It's the last day of Supreme Court for the year and the benches are rising one by one. It's time for a recap of the noteworthy judgments and orders of the Supreme Court in 2019
1. The CBI director whose appointment and transfer was a matter of controversy last year was reinstated in Alok Verma v. Union of India.
2.In Wildlife First v. MoEF the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of 10 lakh forest dwellers from across the country whose claim to traditional forest lands had been rejected. Subsequent orders blunted the blow but the precarious position continues.
3.In Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association of India v. State the Maharashtra Dance Bar law was struck down.
4.Assam Public Works v. UoI: The Supreme Court had overseen the NRC process for some years and finally culminated in the publication of NRC on Aug 31st. Then in a cryptic order, the NRC coordinator was suddenly transferred.
5.In Reliance Comm v. SBI Court ordered R Com. to pay 453 Cr to Ericcson in 4 weeks. When amount was not paid, Anil Ambani was to be present, but the order mysteriously denoted that his presence was not required. This resulted in the dismissal of 2 Court staff.
6.NGT had set aside direction to shut down the Sterlite Copper plant. In TNPCB v. Sterlite Supreme Court held that NGT had no jurisdiction to hear appeal for reopening of plant. Vedanta group was free to approach the appellate authority set up for the purpose under the act.
7. In Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. v. Union of India Section 87 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 was struck down.
8.In Swiss Ribbons the Supreme Court upheld validity of IBC. The Court also directed the Union to set up benches of NCLAT in 6 months. Following from this, in Dharani Sugars SC set aside Feb 12th 2018 RBI circular as being ultra vires Section 35 of the RBI Act.
9.The IBC was amended to include homebuyers in real estate projects as financial creditors. In Pioneer Urban Land & Infra. Court upheld that amendment. In JK Jute Mill Mazdoor Morcha v. Juggilal Kamlapat it was held that a trade union is an operational creditor under IBC.
10.Another big IBC judgment of the year was CoC of Essar Steel v. Satish where the Court held the commercial wisdom of the coc in Insolvency and Bankruptcy matters cannot be substituted by the NCLAT using its own wisdom & explained the role of CoC, RP, and Resolution Applicant.
11.Two judgments involving death penalty are notable. In Manoharan v. State in the case of rape& murder of 2children, Court awarded the death penalty by a 2:1 split decision. In Sachin Kumar Singhraha v. MP, SC commuted death sentence of a man accused of rape & murder of a child.
12. Pattu Rajan v. State: The multi-millionnaire owner of the Saravana Bhavan chain of restaurants was convicted for the abduction and murder of an employee in a bid to marry his wife, who according to some astrologer was to bring him great(er) riches.
13. A case which cast a long shadow upon the Sup Crt itself. Allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI were made by a Court staffer in In Re: a matter of great public importance... Then an advocate claimed there is a conspiracy to defame the CJI.
14. Indibility Creative Pvt. Ltd. v. Govt. of West Bengal: West Bengal police attempted to stop the release of a movie that had been certified by the CBFC. Court imposed a fine of Rs. 20 Lakhs. Monetary compensation for arbitrary state action. Imagine.
15.In 2017Court struck down a Karnataka law for promotion reservation saying such a law has to be based on data of inadequacy of representation. This year in BK Pavitra Court upheld a fresh legislation which avoided the pitfalls of the previous legislation.
16.SC dealt with mess of collapse of a large developer, Amrapali, in Bikram Chatterjee v. UoI. The judgment also gave a helicopter shot to a famous cricketer with auditor observing that money homebuyers' money was diverted to the companies linked to cricketer.
17. Two important orders came out of the Karnataka MLA crisis. In Pratap Gouda Patil v. State the Court directed the Speaker to take a decision on resignation submitted by the MLAs. The Speaker went ahead and disqualified the parties.
18. In Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil v. Speaker the Court upheld the Speaker’s disqualification order but permitted the disqualified MLAs to contest the resultant by-polls.
19.Another crisis, another state. Post election results, pre election allies had a break up and a strange set of musical chairs with president's rule and early morning swearing in ensued till in Shiv Sena v. UoI. Court stepped in to direct floor test.
20.Another keenly watched political case was that of P. Chidambaram v. CBI on the one hand and ED on the other. The anticipatory bail plea in the CBI case became infructuous as he was arrested in the pendency of the case.
21.In P. Chidambaram v. ED the Court declined to grant anticipatory bail stating that in complex economic offences grant of AB would hamper effective interrogation. After 105 days of jail & another round of litigation, he was released on regular bail.
22.End of last year, the Court had declined to order an investigation into the Rafale issue. The review petitions, finally dismissed in Yashwant Sinha v. CBI took an additional political dimension around election time when contempt proceedings were initiated against Rahul Gandhi.
23.In Poona Ram court said a person claiming possessory right must have undisturbed possession. Later in Ravinder Kaur held that adverse possession can be used as a sword & shield.Banal issues you say.But importance of these areas of law was highlighted later in
24.M. Siddiq v. Mahant Suresh Das (Ayodhya)Possessory claims of Hindus & Muslims were both accepted. Somewhat. But Hindus were held to have better claim &were given disputed property. Muslims were given 5 acres of land elsewhere. A trust was to be set up for a temple in the land.
25. Last year, the Court had opened the doors of Sabarimala temple to all women. This year, in Kantaru Rajeevaru v. Indian Young Lawyers Association the Court kept the matter pending till issues of essential practices are decided by a larger bench. 2 judges dissented.
26. Every public authority is required to give information under the Right to Information Act. Is the CJI himself required to give information? 10+ years after the Delhi HC said CJI should, the SC agreed in Central Public Information Officer v. Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
27. UoI v. State of Maharashtra: Last year in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan, the court had diluted certain provisions of the SC/ST POA Act. The Court has now set aside that judgment in S.K. Mahajan in all aspects apart from the direction on anticipatory bail.
28.UoI v. Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India: Supreme Court refused to change the definition of AGR in Clause 19.1 of the license agreements. This resulted in liability of thousands of crores for telecom providers like Airtel and Vodafone-Idea.
29.In Satish Ukey v. Devendra Fadnavis Court held that Fadnavis had knowledge of 2criminal cases pending against him but did not disclose in his election affidavit. Clean chit given to him was set aside and criminal proceedings were initiated against him.
30.In Mani Pushpak Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand Supreme Court quashed proceedings against a man in a POCSO case on the basis that to summon a person who had not been initially accused, the evidence had to satisfy a standard more than prima facie case.
30. Mani Pushpak Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand Supreme Court quashed proceedings against a man in a POCSO case on the basis that to summon a person who had not been initially accused, the evidence had to satisfy a standard more than prima facie case.
31.Last year the conviction and death sentence to the Nirbhaya killers had been upheld. As I was tweeting this thread, a review petition by one of them, Akshay Kumar Singh, was dismissed.
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