Supreme Selections: Top Supreme Court Judgments of February 2024

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Overview of February Month

In February, the Supreme Court (SC) of India gave a total of 42 Reportable judgments and a total of 63 judgments. The SC heard various matters related to the reconsideration of the 2018 Asian Resurfacing verdict, Electoral Bonds, Chandigarh Mayoral elections, Delhi Riots Larger Conspiracy Case, Defamation case against Tejashwi Yadav, Plea to establish Community KitchensMedical Negligencespecific range of rates for hospital servicesdemolition of Chennai mosqueplea to reopen Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothkudi, sharing of Google PIN location as bail condition, and others. This month, the CJI inaugurated the ‘AYUSH Holistic Wellness Centre’ in the SC premises. Let us explore the important judgments delivered by the top court in February month. 

Important Verdicts of February Month

Chartered Accountants Rule and Rule-making Power of the Central Government

Judgment NameNaresh Chandra Agrawal vs. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (February 08, 2024)

Bench: Justice PS Narasimha and Justice Aravind Kumar

Articles and Acts Involved: {Second Schedule of the Chartered Accountants’ (Amendment) Act, 2006- Clause (7), (8) and (9) of Part 1} and {Chartered Accountants’ (Procedure of Investigation of Professional and Other Misconduct and Conduct of Cases) Rules, 2007- Chapter 7}

Supreme Court Decision: The question addressed by the Supreme Court bench in this case was “Whether Rule 9(3)(b) of the Rules, 2007 is inconsistent with and beyond the rule-making power of the Central Government?” After hearing the contentions, the SC upheld the Chartered Accountants’ Rule and concluded that “the impugned rule is completely in sync with the object and purpose of framing the Chapter on ‘Misconduct’ under the Act”. Further, it added that the impugned rule falls within the scope of the general delegation of power under Section 29A(1). 

Electoral Bond Scheme: Unconstitutional

Judgment NameAssociation for Democratic Reforms & Anr. vs. Union of India & Ors. 

Bench: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, and Justice Manoj Misra

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 32,110, and 145(3)}, {Finance Act, 2017}, {Representation of People Act, 1951- Section 29A}, {Income Tax Act, 1961}, {Companies Act, 2013}, and {Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934- Sections 31, and 31(3)}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the bench was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the electoral bond scheme facilitating anonymous donations to political parties. In other words, the electoral bond is a bond issued in the nature of a promissory note which is a bearer banking instrument and does not carry the buyer's name. On February 15, 2024, the SC struck down the electoral bond scheme stating it to be violative of Article 19(1)(a) and unconstitutional. It also said that “the deletion of the proviso to Section 182(1) of the Companies Act permitting unlimited corporate contributions to political parties is arbitrary and violative of Article 14.” The SC also issued certain directions such as directing the issuing banks to stop issuing electoral bonds. 

Chandigarh Mayoral elections: Mr. Kuldeep Kumar elected as new Mayor

Judgment NameKuldeep Kumar vs. U.T. Chandigarh and Others (February 20, 2024)

Bench: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra

Articles and Acts Involved: {Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976- Section 38}, {Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- Section 340}, and {Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (Procedure and Conduct of Business) Regulations, 1996}

Supreme Court Decision: The Supreme Court set aside the January 30 Chandigarh Mayor election’s result and declared Mr. Kuldeep Kumar Aam Aadmi Party-Congress alliance as the rightful winner. While overturning the earlier result (victory of BJP candidate Mr. Manohar Sonkar), the SC came down heavily on Presiding officer Mr. Anil Masih for deliberately attempting to meddle with the election results. During the proceedings, the CJI opined “It is evident that in each of the 8 ballots, the vote has been duly cast in favor of the petitioner. The Presiding Officer has evidently put his own mark for the purpose of creating a ground for treating the ballot as invalidly cast…it is evident that the Presiding Officer is guilty of a serious misdemeanour in doing what he did in his role and capacity as presiding officer.” In this context, the bench initiated criminal proceedings against Mr. Anil Masih under Section 340 of the CrPC for making false statements before the court.

Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission Officers

Judgment NameCdr Seema Chaudhary vs. Union of India and Others (February 26, 2024)

Bench: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 32, and 142}, {Navy Act, 1957- Section 9(2)}, and {Naval Regulations 1963- Regulation 203}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the SC was hearing a batch of petitions pertaining to the grant of Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission Officers in the Indian Navy. The bench said that the case of the petitioner for the grant of PC shall be considered afresh by reconvening a Selection Board. The judgment reads, “The Selection Board shall consider the case of the petitioner on a stand-alone basis since it is common ground that she was the only serving JAG Branch officer of the 2007 batch whose case for the grant of PC was required to be considered. The consideration by the Selection Board shall take place uninfluenced by any previous consideration of her case for PC and uninfluenced by any observations contained in the order of the AFT (Armed Forces Tribunal).” 

Reconsideration of the 2018 Asian Resurfacing Judgment

Judgment NameHigh Court Bar Association, Allahabad vs. State of U.P. & Ors. (February 29, 2024)

Bench: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Pankaj Mithal, Justice Manoj Misra, Justice Abhay S Oka, and Justice JB Pardiwala

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 142, 142(1), 194(3), 19(1)(a), 226, and 227} and {Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988}

Supreme Court Decision: The SC held that there cannot be automatic vacation of stay orders by courts in both civil and criminal cases after 6 months from the date of the order. It set aside its 2018 verdict in the Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency P.Ltd. Director vs. Central Bureau of Investigation (2018) case. The bench held that “A direction that all interim orders passed by High Courts will automatically expire on the lapse of time cannot be issued in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. Constitutional courts should refrain from laying down time-bound schedules for cases pending before any other courts.” 

Other Important Judgments

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