The Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and RK Agrawal delivered a judgment on April 10 in a Civil Appeal, seven months after reserving it. The judgment in the case, Mrs Hema Khattar & Anr v  Shiv Khera, was authored by Justice Agrawal, and reserved on September 6 last year. Why did this case take so long to decide?  Let us examine the facts, and the law involved in it. A dispute between two building contractors, who are husband and wife, and the owner of the site was first decided by both a single judge, as well as […]

Last week (April 10-13), Justices RK Agrawal and L Nageswara Rao of the Supreme Court of India recused from three cases each, while Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha, Uday Umesh Lalit, SA Bobde, AK Sikri, and S Abdul Nazeer recused from one each. Here are the details: The first case, Kasturba Health Society v Union of India, was listed before Justices Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre on April 10, when the former withdrew from hearing it. This civil SLP arose out of the Gujarat High Court judgment in the case of Kalyan Janta Sahakari Bank Ltd v State of […]

In this edition of Recusal Watch, we find that last week, seven judges of the Supreme Court of India recused from ten cases. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justices AM Khanwilkar and L Nageswara Rao recused from two cases each, while Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, DY Chandrachud and Navin Sinha recused from one each. Justice Khehar recused from hearing Pravinsingh Bhurabha Chauhan v. State of Gujarat, listed before the bench headed by him and Justice DY Chandrachud on April 3. This civil SLP, originating from the judgment of Gujarat High Court, was later heard by the bench […]

Justice Anil R Dave was elevated to the Supreme Court of India on April 30, 2010. After serving a tenure of nearly seven years, or 2,394 days to be precise, Justice Dave retired on November 18 of last year. He enrolled as an advocate in 1976 and was Solicitor for the Gujarat government. He was also a part-time Lecturer at Sir LA Shah Law College from 1976 to 1995. Justice Dave made the switch to the bench when he was appointed additional judge of the Gujarat High Court in September 1995. Two years later, he would be made permanent judge. […]

On March 30, Justices Prafulla C Pant and Rohinton Fali Nariman delivered two separate verdicts, disagreeing with each other in a criminal case, within eight days of reserving it. Could they have given a unanimous verdict, if they had spent more time discussing it among themselves, to iron out their differences? Possibly, as they had five more weeks at their disposal, going by the ideal time-frame as suggested by the Supreme Court in the Anil Rai judgment. The case, Ganesh Shamrao Andekar & Anr v State of Maharashtra, a Criminal Appeal (547/2007), will now be listed before a three-Judge bench. […]

Last week, the rate of recusals by Supreme Court judges was lower than that of the prior weeks, but the element of suspense in tracking those cases continues unabated. Justice AM Khanwilkar recused from two cases. The first was on March 29, when he withdrew from hearing the civil SLP [10215-10217/2016] ITC Limited v Blue Coast Hotels Ltd. & Ors, which was listed before Justice Dipak Misra and himself. The recusal order stated, “The Registry is directed to list these matters immediately as there is urgency as submitted by Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, learned Attorney General for India appearing for IFCI Ltd.” […]

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy recently came up with a report, which comprehensively studies the reasons behind inefficiencies and judicial delays in the Delhi High Court. The  report also provides recommendations for the improvement of the judicial process and reduction of delays. The report states that systemic problems are likely to be further exaggerated in the Delhi High Court, as it also has original jurisdiction in certain types of cases. It also makes a reference to Daksh’s State of the Indian Judiciary report, which  noted that the number of days between hearings was longest in the Delhi High Court among all high […]

Last week, the Supreme Court delivered judgments in four cases long after reserving them, violating its own rule set in the Anil Rai case. The first to attract our notice was, of course, the one which was delivered two years after it was reserved. Justices RK Agrawal and Adarsh Kumar Goel, on March 21, delivered the judgment in a criminal appeal [2285/2011], in which hearing was concluded on March 10, 2015. Justice Agrawal authored the judgment. The case, K Sitaram & Anr. v. CFL Capital Financial Service Ltd. & Anr, arose out of a Bombay High Court judgment, which had […]

Our investigation into the recusal of Supreme Court judges continues, as in many cases which have come to light, we are left with no option but to speculate. Justice L Nageswara Rao recused from three cases last week. Of these, one is a service matter, dealing with regularization of ad hoc employees etc. The case, Yogesh Mahajan v RC Deka, Director, AIIMS, was listed before the bench of Justice SA Bobde and himself on March 21, when he recused. A civil SLP (22475/2012) arising out of a Delhi High Court case, it is possible that Justice Rao appeared as counsel […]

The Executive v. Judiciary debate has once again re-ignited, thanks to the recent developments concerning Aadhaar. While the recent notifications by the Central Government making Aadhaar mandatory for Income Tax filing, mobile connections etc. seem to be in clear violation of the orders of the Supreme Court, they are not isolated examples. On one hand, the leaders of the government have been vocal about democracy’s triumph, but on the other hand, their government has failed to respect the orders of the apex court. Below are four important cases in the recent past in which the Centre has openly defied the dictate of the […]

by Dr. Amit George When the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 was enacted, it set out to radically redefine the arbitration regime in India when compared to the archaic and outdated provisions of the Act it replaced, i.e. the Arbitration Act, 1940. However, while the 1996 Act was successful in alleviating a variety of the short-comings of the 1940 Act, there were certain areas where this success was elusive. One of these critical areas was the independence and impartiality provision concerning arbitrators enshrined in Section 12 of the 1996 Act. While Section 12 did establish a normative requirement for the […]

Our quest to understand why judges of the Supreme Court recuse from cases continues. As expected, we succeed in unravelling some, and leave the rest to the speculation of the readers. As in the previous edition of Recusal Watch, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul continues to top the list in this edition too. He recused from five cases out of the fourteen recusals tracked by us in Supreme Court last week. Here are the details: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul Centre for Public Interest Litigation v Union of India (CA 10660/2010) A Civil Appeal of 2010, it pertains to the monitoring of […]

Last week, the Karnataka High Court reserved its judgment in a batch of petitions challenging a 2014 amendment to the laws governing health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products. A Bench of Justices BS Patil and BV Nagarathna will decide the fate of more than fifty petitions filed by individuals and organisations from across the country. In this edition of #Debriefed, we go into the details of the challenge. What is the challenge against? In October 2014, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sought to amend the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008. The major […]

While courts in India have consistently been venturing towards becoming more progressive, there have been a few instances where they have clung to ghosts of patriarchy past. This often reflects though their judgments, some of which might be extremely difficult to place in the present day. Many a time, the courts have failed to take a victim-centric approach in cases relating to women. And in some of these cases, though the courts have delivered legally sound decisions, they have ended up making comments on women which, well, could have been avoided, to say the least. This Women’s Day, we look […]

Recusal of judges has been the talk of the town for some time now. The reasons for recusal of judges are  left to the litigant’s imagination more often than not. In fact, the dissenting opinion penned by Justice Kurian Joseph in the NJAC judgment called for greater transparency in recusals. Justice Joseph opined, “The litigants would always like to know though they may not have a prescribed right to know, as to why a Judge has recused from hearing the case or despite request, has not recused to hear his case. Reasons are required to be indicated broadly.”  A string of […]

An interesting news greeted me today morning – something which has been a subject of discussion in the Supreme Court and two prominent High Courts of the country for more than a year now. The news published by The Indian Express today states that the Central government has returned the files, relating to the transfer of Justice Valmiki Mehta of Delhi High Court and Justice MR Shah of Gujarat High Court, to the Supreme Court Collegium. The transfer or rather the reluctance of the Centre to transfer these two judges was a source of constant friction between the Central government and […]

When it comes to the confluence point of education and the Supreme Court of India, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) was one of the biggest highlights of the past year. And with good reason, given the stakes involved.  For 2017 also, the Supreme Court will have a fair share of education-related matters to deal with. In this edition of #SupremeCourtInsights, we bring to you some of the biggest education petitions that may be decided this year. 1. Modern Dental College and Research Centre v. State of Madhya Pradesh (Capitation Fees in Private Colleges) Case Number: CA 4060/2009 Last year, […]

By Dushyant Dave The first principle of natural justice consists of the rule against bias based on three maxims: First, ‘no man shall be a judge in his own cause’; second, ‘justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done’; and third, ‘judges, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion’. The Supreme Court of India can truly take pride in taking judicial review of administrative actions to great heights. But do judges themselves follow the law they declare? The answer appears to be in the negative, as seen in Sahara Birla case decided on January 11, […]

By Debanjan Banerjee Background The law related to mergers came into force when the Ministry of Corporate Affairs notified the Companies (Compromise, Arrangement, and Amalgamation) Rules 2016 (Merger Rules) on December 14, 2016. In a month’s time, on January 13, 2017, an order was pronounced on behalf of the Division Bench by the honorable President of the NCLT, New Delhi. The significance of this order was that the prayer for dispensation of shareholders meeting relating to the scheme of merger, was disallowed. The anticipation that this newly set up structure of the tribunal system would usher in an era, where […]

The Supreme Court’s decision in the disproportionate assets case might have sent shockwaves throughout Tamil Nadu, but it seems there was an unexpected aftershock that is now garnering attention from various quarters. The 563 page judgment, penned by Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, provided a detailed account of the facts and figures associated with the two-decade long case, ultimately holding late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala Natarajan guilty. But for those more poetically inclined, it is the brief afterword by Justice Amitava Roy that holds all the charm. As readers and scribes alike tried to make head […]

Judging by the reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in the disproportionate assets case today, justice has been “seen to be done”. Apart from the ramificiations the verdict has on the political scenario in Tamil Nadu, it is also significant for more than just that. Diverting from the norm, the Bench of Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy overturned the Karnataka High Court’s acquittal and restored the judgment of the trial court in toto. This, despite the fact that many an apex court decision, including the one in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Chet Ram & Ors., has laid down […]

The apparent opacity of the procedure of elevation of judges to the Supreme Court and the deliberations of the collegium are certainly sending a few skeletons tumbling out of the closet. Earlier this week, it was reported that the collegium had recommended the names of five high court judges for elevation to the apex court. Among them were Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Deepak Gupta, Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court, Navin Sinha, Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, Mohan Shantanagoudar, Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, and Justice Abdul Nazeer of […]

Pursuant to the Centre’s Digital India initiative, courts across the country are fast moving towards digitization. The Ministry of Law and Justice’s e-courts project has been in full swing over the past few years, with information regarding cases in high courts, and to a lesser extent, lower courts, becoming more accessible to lawyers and litigants alike. And a substantial amount of money has been spent on computerizing court records and making them available online. The 14th Finance Commission of India had signed off on a total of Rs. 9749 crore for the judiciary, out of which Rs. 1252 crore will […]

In an earlier piece, we had analysed the parent High Courts of all Supreme Court judges till date. In this piece, we take a look at the apex court’s women judges. The Supreme Court Collegium is expected to meet soon to recommend names of judges for elevation to the apex court. While different High Court judges are in the zone of consideration, one aspect that will be keenly watched is whether a woman judge will be among those elevated. The Supreme Court of India has been functioning with only one woman judge, Justice R Banumathi, for the past two years. […]

The past week at the Apex Court progressed at a slower pace than usual. There were few matters of interest, even as there was a brief break in the form of Republic Day on January 26. Read the highlights below. Monday, January 23 Service Tax on lawyers: Supreme Court grants leave in appeal from Bombay HC A Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and AM Khanwilkar has granted leave in an appeal which challenges the Bombay High Court order that had dismissed the challenge on imposition of service tax on lawyers. The case is a challenge to sub-clause (zzzzm) of clause (105) to Section 65 of the Finance Act, 1994, […]

Sixty seven years ago, this very day, the Supreme Court of India started functioning from the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament House, the seat of the erstwhile Federal Court. Inaugurated two days after India’s Constitution was adopted and the nation became a sovereign, democratic republic, the Supreme Court shifted to its present building at Tilak Marg in 1958. Besides being the highest Constitutional court which can be moved directly under Article 32 by any citizen of the country in the event of violation of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court is also the highest appellate court of the country. As […]

Justice Shiva Kirti Singh was elevated to the Supreme Court of India on September 19, 2013. After a tenure that lasted a little over three years, or 1150 days, Justice Singh retired in November last year. Justice Singh comes from a family of lawyers and judges; his father was a judge of the Patna High Court, while his maternal grandfather, Justice BP Sinha, was the sixth Chief Justice of India, from 1959 to 1964. He enrolled as an advocate in 1977 and was designated as a Senior Advocate thirteen years later. In 1998, he was appointed as a judge of […]

Dr. Amit George The passage of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 (“Amendment Act”) marked the culmination of a long-drawn and convoluted process of bringing about vital necessary changes to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“1996 Act”). The ground-breaking nature of the amendments brought into effect, and the potential far-reaching repercussions that they entailed for the arbitration regime in particular and the commercial law landscape in general, were immediately apparent. However, much as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, in the Indian context the efficacy of any statutory enactment and its ultimate impact is heavily […]

Last week, we had published an article covering facts and figures pertaining to the Supreme Court of India for 2015-16. The information was compiled from the annual report published on the Supreme Court’s website. In Part II, we delve into the state of the country’s High Courts and the lower judiciary, specifically with regard to each court’s annual budget, pendency figures and vacancies. 1. Budget for 2016-17 We had earlier reported that the 14th Finance Commission had allocated a handsome sum of Rs. 9,749 crore to the judiciary for five years. Out of this, a total of Rs. 3,452.39 crore […]

The Supreme Court of India recently released its annual report on the Indian Judiciary for 2015-16. Running into nearly three hundred pages, the report reveals some interesting facts and figures with respect to the Supreme Court, the twenty four high courts and the subordinate courts under them. In the first part of this report, we take a look at six interesting stats pertaining to the apex court, including the number of cases instituted, disposed and pending, and what steps have been taken to improve pendency figures. 1. Number of PILs and writ petitions filed Till July 31, the number of PILs filed […]