20 Landmark Verdicts of 2019: Must Read For Law Aspirants

  1. Alok Verma v. Union Of India
  • The Supreme Court has set aside the Central government’s order divesting Alok Verma of his powers as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
  • While doing so, the Court also directed the High Power Committee to consider the matter afresh, and held that Alok Verma shall cease and desist from taking any major policy decision pending the Committee’s consideration.
  • The Court has also set aside the order asking CBI Joint Director Nageshwar Rao to take over the duties of the CBI Director.
  1. Swiss Ribbons Pvt Ltd v. Union Of India:
  • Constitutionality of IBC upheld
    • Apex Court rejected a bunch of petitions which challenged the constitutional validity of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.
  • Court held that distinction between operational creditors and financial creditors were based on intelligible differentia.
  • The Court also upheld the validity of Sections 12A (prescribing threshold for CoC approval for withdrawal of resolution application) and 29A (on bar of ‘related persons’ in participating in resolution bids).
  1. Wildlife First v. MOEF:
  • Eviction of persons from forestland whose claims under the Forest Rights Act have been rejected.
  • The order would have impacted over 1 million forest dwelling tribals.
  • The order led to a lot of controversy and confusion, as most states were yet to streamline the claims and appeals processes under the Forest Rights Act.
  • Later, on an application by the Central Government, the same bench stayed the eviction order. The matter is at present pending, and the Court has sought for data from states regarding claims under FRA.
  1. Reliance Communication Ltd v. SBI:
  • Apex Court held Anil Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Communications, guilty of contempt of court for defaulting payments to Ericsson as per the undertaking given to the Court.
  • The three Reliance Companies – RCom, Reliance Telecom and Reliance InfraTel- were also held guilty of contempt, and fine of Rs One Crore each was imposed on them.
  • The Court granted an opportunity to Reliance companies to purge contempt by paying Rs.453 crores to Ericsson within 4 weeks. Later, Ambani avoided prison by clearing the dues.
  1. The Branch Manager, National Insurance Co Ltd v.  Smt Mousumi Bhattacharjee:
  • Explaining the ambit of ‘accidental insurance’, the Supreme Court observed that where a disease is caused or transmitted by insect bite/virus in the natural course of events, it would not be covered by the definition of an accident.
  • But, in a given case or circumstance, the affliction or bodily condition may be regarded as an accident where its cause or course of transmission is unexpected and unforeseen.
  1. Yashwant Sinha and othes v. CBI:
  • Official Secrets Act does not bar placing of documents in Court for adjudication.
  • Bench held that OSA will not bar the Court from receiving in evidence the documents. The criminal proceedings under the Act for unauthorized publication can be pursued independently; but that will not affect the evidentiary value of the documents, if they are otherwise relevant.
  1. Indibility Creative Pvt Ltd v. Govt of WB:
  • Free speech cannot be gagged by fear of mob violence
  • West Bengal cinema ban overturned. Court ordered Rs 20 lakhs compensation to the makers of the Bengali film “Bhobhishyoter Bhoot”, which had suffered an ‘unofficial’ ban from the West Bengal government.
  • The police authorities had coerced the movie screens to withdraw the film citing law and order issues. The makers of the film complained that the movie was targeted for being critical against the government.
  1. B K Pavitra v. UoI:
  • Karnataka law on reservation of SC/STs in promotions upheld.
  • The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act 2018.
  • The said enactment provided for consequential seniority to persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes promoted under the reservation policy of the State of Karnataka.
  • The bench observed that this law has cured the deficiency noted in the earlier BK Pavitra judgment in respect of the 2002 law, and it does not amount to a usurpation of judicial power by the state legislature.
  • The Reservation Act 2018 is a valid exercise of the enabling power conferred by Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, the bench added.
  1. Bikram Chatterji v. UoI:
  • In a major relief to thousands of homebuyers Apex Court cancelled the registration of Amrapali group under Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016, and directed the National Building Construction Corporation take over its pending construction projects in Greater Noida and Noida.
  • The bench found that Amrapali group had siphoned off homebuyers money with the connivance of Greater Noida and Noida authorities.
  • The Court has directed the Enforcement Directorate to initiate action under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act against Amrapali directors and authorities, and update the Court with progress of probe with periodic reports.
  1. Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Ltd v. Union of India:
  • Treating homebuyers as financial creditors under IBC not unconstitutional.
  • Dismissing a bunch of petitions filed by nearly 200 realtors, the Supreme Court upheld the amendments made to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in 2018 to treat homebuyers as financial creditors.
  • SC held that the amendments do not violate Article 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution and rejected the argument that they are ‘arbitrary, unreasonable, excessive and disproportionate’.
  1. A.V. College Trust And Management Society vs. Director Of Public Instructions:
  • NGOs ‘Substantially Financed’ by Government amenable to RTI Act
  • In an important judgment delivered SC has held that non-governmental organisations [NGO] substantially financed, whether directly or indirectly, by the appropriate government fall within the ambit of ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • The bench held so, while considering appeals filed by colleges or associations running the colleges and/or schools.
  1. UoI v. Tarsem Singh :
  • Sec 3J Of National Highways Act, to the extent it excludes solatium & interest as per Land Acquisition Act, unconstitutional
  • The Supreme Court has declared Section 3J of the National Highways Act 1956, to the extent it excludes solatium and interest as per Land Acquisition Act 1894 to acquisitions done under the NH Act to be unconstitutional.
  1. UoI v. State of Maharashtra:
  • Centre’s review against dilution of SC/ST Act allowed
  • A three judge bench allowed Centre’s petition seeking review of its March 20, 2018 judgement which had virtually diluted provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act.
  • The Court observed that powers under Article 142 of the Constitution could not havebeen exercised to pass directions against the statute.
  • The two-judges bench should not have framed guidelines as it is within legislature’s domain to do so, the Court said.
  • It observed that the protective nature of the Act was necessary in view of the abuses to which people from marginalized communities are being subjected to.
  1. P Chidambaram v CBI :
  • Bail granted to P Chidambaram in CBI case in INX Media scam
  • In the judgment granting bail to P Chidambaram in the INX Media case, the Supreme Court made certain pertinent observations regarding the practice of courts relying on sealed cover documents produced by prosecution during bail hearings.
  • The SC added that recording of findings based on the sealed cover documents submitted by the prosecution as if the offence has been committed, and using of such findings to deny bail would be against the concept of fair trial.
  1. Indore Development Authority v. Manohar Lal :
  • Justice Arun Mishra’s non-recusal from Indore Development Authority case
  • In a controversial order, Justice Arun Mishra stated that he will not recuse from heading the Constitution Bench which was formed to decide the correctness of the interpretation give to Section 24(2) of the new Land Acquisition Act by the 2018 Indore Development Authority case.
  • The petitioners in the case sought his recusal contending that there was apprehension of bias as Justice Mishra had authored the 2018 judgment, which was under reference.
  1. M Siddiq (d) through Lrs v. Mahant Suresh Das
  • Ayodhya-Babri Masjid dispute
  • In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court held that the entire disputed land of 2.77 acres in Ayodhya must be handed over for the construction of Ram Mandir.
  • At the same time, the Court held that an alternate plot of 5 acres must be allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board for construction of mosque. This direction was passed invoking powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.
  • The Court observed that the destruction of Babri mosque in 1992 was a violation of law. The act of placing idols beneath the central dome of the mosque in 1949 was an act of “desecration”, observed the Court.
  1. Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Ltd:
  • Strikes Down Rules Framed By Centre Under Section 184 Finance Act 2017.
  • Upheld the constitutional validity of Section 184 of the Finance Act 2017, which empowers the Central Government to frame rules relating to appointment and service conditions of members of various tribunals.
  • At the same time, the five judges bench struck down the Rules already framed by the Central Government under Section 184, and directed the formulation of new rules.
  • The Constitution Bench also doubted the correctness of 2018 decision which treated Aadhaar Act as ‘money bill’ and referred the point to larger bench.
  1. Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil v.Hon’ble Speaker, Karnataka Legislative Assembly:
  • SC Upholds Disqualification Of 17 Karnataka MLAs; Resignation Not To Affect Impact Of Defection.
  • The Supreme Court upheld the decision of former Karnataka Speaker’s decision to disqualify 17 rebel MLAs on the ground of defection. However, in partial relief to the MLAs, the apex court held that the duration of disqualification cannot be till the end of the term of the house.
  • A significant point in the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Karnataka MLAs disqualification case is the discussion on the interplay between resignation and disqualification of a legislator. The apex court held that resignation of a legislator will not efface the effect of disqualification if defection has taken place before the date of resignation.
  1. Kantaru Rajeevaru v. Indian Young Lawyers Association:
  • SC Keeps Sabarimala Review Pending Till Larger Bench Decides Issues Of Essential Religious Practices.
  • The Supreme Court by 3:2 majority, decided to keep the review petitions in Sabarimala matter pending until a larger bench determines questions related to essential religious practices.
  • The majority expressed that the issue whether Court can interfere in essential practises of religion needed examination by larger bench.
  1. Rajendra Diwan v Pradeep Kumar Ranibala:
  • State Legislature Cannot Enact Law Which Affects Jurisdiction Of Supreme Court
  • The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has held that Section 13(2) of the Chhattisgarh Rent Control Act, 2011, is unconstitutional as the State Legislature lacked legislative competence to enact a provision providing direct appeal to Supreme Court of India.
  • The Bench was considering the reference made to it in Rajendra Diwan vs. Pradeep Kumar Ranibala.