Supreme Selections: Top Supreme Court Judgments of April 2024

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Overview of April Month

The Supreme Court (SC) of India delivered approximately a total of 84 judgments in April. Along with this, the bench also heard matters related to contempt proceedings against Patanjali Ayurved, the Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute, the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute, Permanent commissions to women in the Indian Coast Guard, and others. In this article, we will explore the important verdicts of the Supreme Court delivered in April 2024.

Important Verdicts of April Month

HIMUDA: Building a Commercial Complex in Shimla

Judgment NameLevel 9 BIZ Pvt. Ltd. vs. Himachal Pradesh Housing and Urban Development Authority & Another (April 02, 2024)

Bench: Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Article 12}

Supreme Court Decision: The Supreme Court held that the HIMUDA (Himachal Pradesh Housing and Urban Development Authority), though ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India, had acted mala fide and in collusion with the M/s. Vasu Constructions had taken the Himachal Pradesh High Court for a ride and misused the process of law to cover up the irregularities and illegalities committed in the tender process by its officers, the present appeal deserves to be allowed with a heavy cost of Rs. 5 Lakhs. 

Bhima Koregaon Riots: Bail to Shoma Sen

Judgment NameShoma Kanti Sen vs. The State of Maharashtra & Anr. 

Bench: Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Augustine George Masih

Articles and Acts Involved: {Indian Penal Code, 1860- Sections 120-B, 153A, 505 (1b), 117, and 34}, {Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967- Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18B, 20, 38, 39, 40,  43-D (5), and 184}, {National Investigation Agency Act, 2008- Section 21(2)}, and {Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- Section 164, 173, 207, and 439}

Supreme Court Decision: The Supreme Court of India granted bail to Shoma Sen, former Nagpur University Professor and women’s rights activist, on April 05, 2024. She was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, for her alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon riots. While granting her bail, the SC bench observed, “The prosecution has not been able to corroborate or even raise a hint of corroboration of the allegation that the appellant has funded any terrorist act or has received any money for that purpose.” It added that none of the materials reveal receipt of any funds by her or her direct role in raising or collecting funds. Further, the bench held, “There is no reasonable ground for believing that the accusations against the appellants for commission of the offences incorporated in Chapter IV and VI of the 1967 Act are prima facie true.” The verdict greatly relieves Shoma Sen, who has been under custody since June 06, 2018. 

Voter’s Right to Know is not Absolute

Judgment NameKarikho Kri vs. Nuney Tayang and another 

Bench: Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sanjay Kumar

Articles and Acts Involved: {Representation of the People Act, 1951- Sections 33, 36, 100(1)(b), 100(1)(d)(i), 100(1)(d)(iv), 116A, 116B(2), and 123(2)}, {Sale of Goods Act, 1930- Section 2(7), 18, and 19}, {Motor Vehicles Act, 1988}, and {Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961}

Supreme Court Decision: The SC on April 09, 2024, held that the voters have no absolute right to know every moveable property owned by the candidates contesting elections. Therefore, it upheld the 2019 election of MLA Karikho Kri and said “...we are not inclined to accept the blanket proposition that a candidate is required to lay his life out threadbare for examination by the electorate.” The top court set aside the judgment and order of the Gauhati High Court stating that the HC was in error in concluding that sufficient grounds were made out under Sections 100(1)(b), 100(1)(d)(i), and 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to invalidate the election of Karikho Kri. 

Promotional Trailers (Fan Movie) do not qualify as offers eliciting acceptance

Judgment NameYash Raj Film Private Limited vs. Afreen Fatima Zaidi 

Bench: Justice PS Narasimha and Justice Aravind Kumar

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 19(1)(a), and 19(2)}, and {Consumer Protection Act, 1986- Section 2(1)(c)}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the bench answered 3 main questions: 

  • “What are the legal implications of a promotional trailer, popularly known as a ‘promo’, or a teaser that is circulated before the release of a movie?
  • Does it create any contractual relationship or obligations akin to it?
  • Is it an unfair trade practice if the contents of the promotional trailer are not shown in the movie?”

In a relief to the Yash Raj Films Private Limited, the SC bench on April 22, 2024, set aside the penalty imposed by the NCDRC (National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission) for not including the song ‘Jabra Fan’ shown in the 2016 Shah Rukh Khan- starrer ‘Fan’ trailer. The top court held that “promotional trailers are unilateral and do not qualify as offers eliciting acceptance, and as such they do not transform into promises, much less agreements enforceable by law.” While setting aside the order illustrating that ‘there is deficiency of service and unfair trade practice,’ the SC said “The promotional trailer does not fall under any of the instances of “unfair method or unfair and deceptive practice” contained in clause (1) of Section 2(1)(r) that pertains to unfair trade practice in the promotion of goods and services. Nor does it make any false statement or intend to mislead the viewers.” 

Medical Negligence: Compensation

Judgment NameJyoti Devi vs. Suket Hospital & Ors. 

Bench: Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Aravind Kumar

Articles and Acts Involved: {Consumer Protection Act, 1986- Section 12} and {Consumer Protection Act, 2019}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the bench observed that the compensation awarded to a medical negligence victim was inappropriate; therefore, it enhanced the compensation amount from Rs. 2 Lakhs to Rs. 5 Lakhs. On April 23, 2024, the bench while enhancing the compensation in the medical negligence case said that “she had suffered pain for more than 5 years apart from the case having been dragged on for more than a decade, and yet lumpsum compensation was only Rs. 2 lakhs.” Along with the enhanced compensation amount to be paid to the victim, the SC also imposed a cost of Rs.50,000 in terms of the cost of litigation.

100% verification of EVMs with VVPAT slips

Judgment NameAssociation for Democratic Reforms vs. Election Commission of India and another 

Bench: Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 12, 324, and 19(1)(a)}

Supreme Court Decision: On April 26, 2024, the SC bench said “We have rejected the prayer for paper ballot voting, complete EVM-VVPAT verification, and physical deposit of VVPAT slips.” It means that the batch of petitions seeking 100% verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips during elections were rejected. While pronouncing the judgment, the bench also highlighted certain directions for strengthening the integrity of the election process. 

Other Important Judgments

1. How many judgments are delivered in April month by the Supreme Court?
2. How many non-reportable judgments were delivered in April 2024?