Eventful 2022 in Supreme Court: Many Key issues answered and landmark judgments delivered

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Apart from the collegium rift between the Central Government and the Supreme Court, the year 2022 was a remarkable one. Although 2022 witnessed three different CJIs, N.V. Ramana, U.U. Lalit, and now D.Y. Chandrachud, Landmark decisions were given to guarantee and protect citizens’ rights and liberties. 

For the first time in the history of the Supreme Court, the current CJI is son of a former CJI. His father, Y.V. Chandrachud served as the 16th Chief Justice of India and holds the record of serving for the longest tenure (1978 to 1985).

In this article, a list of landmark judgments given by the Supreme Court every month in the year 2022 is discussed.

Daughter’s right to inherited property

January 20, 2022: Arunachala Gounder (Dead) by LRS vs Ponnusamy

The Supreme Court of India stated that the self-acquired property of a deceased Hindu male would be resolved by way of inheritance rather than survivorship as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. In Arunachala Gounder (Dead) by LRS vs Ponnusamy and Ors. case, the Apex Court allowed the appeal. After investigation, it has been identified that the property was the self-acquired property of Marappa Gounder. Hence, his sole daughter, Kupayee Ammal would inherit the property. In such property disputes where more than one daughter is left behind, the Court’s verdict is crucial. 

The decision of SC on the minor child rape case

February 09, 2022: Pappu vs the State of Uttar Pradesh

While hearing the case, the Supreme Court partly accepted the decision of the High Court in which an appellant was accused of enticing a 7-year-old girl on the pretext of picking lychee fruit. The appellant then committed rape resulting in death of the girl. He dragged the victim’s body to approximately a distance of one kilometer and dumped her near a bridge on a riverbank. The session judge convicted the appellant of the death sentence and was charged with the offences under Sections 302, 376, 201 IPC, and ¾ POCSO. This was further upheld by the HC stating that punishment of death is “Eminently desirable”. After this, the appellant approached the Supreme Court and the decision of the HC was partly accepted by changing death sentence to life imprisonment.

Supreme Court upheld the policy of OROP (One Rank One Pension) over ORMP (One Rank Multiple Pensions)

March 16, 2022: Indian Ex Servicemen Movement & Ors. vs Union of India & Ors.

The central government’s scheme of OROP for the armed forces was upheld by the bench of the SC. The scheme states that two individuals of same rank and same service years must get an equal pension when retiring from the military. Despite of same rank and service years, some military officers receive different pensions due to different reasons. The petitioners contended that separate classes among the military personnel were created by OROP based on length of service and rank. While hearing this case, the Chief Justice of India held that no constitutional infirmity was identified in the OROP principle in the pension scheme.

Changes in FCRA impacts the right to receive unregulated foreign funds

April 08, 2022: Noel Harper & Ors. vs Union of India & Anr.

While hearing Noel Harper & Ors. vs Union of India & Anr. case, the top Court disposed of the writ petitions. The provision namely Sections 7, 12(1A), 12A, and 17 of the 2010 Act were declared intra vires by the bench of the Supreme Court. Herein, the amendment introduced different changes to FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulation Act) affecting NGOs as they were not able to receive foreign funds. The amendment was then challenged by Noel Harper who was the Chairman of the Jeevan Jyothi Charitable Trust and the Care & Share Charitable Trust. The Justices C.T. Ravikumar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and A.M. Khanwilkar held that the “Right to Association does not include the right to receive unregulated foreign funds”.

Government never mandated the Covid-19 vaccine says the SC

May 2, 2022: Jacob Puliyel vs. Union of India & Ors.

The Supreme Court of India on May 2, 2022 disposed of the writ petition filed by the petitioner describing the consequences of emergency approval of the Covid-19 vaccine, need for disclosure of clinical data and transparency in clinical trial data. The petitioner further filed an Interlocutory Application whereas the respondent objected to the maintainability of the writ petition. The Supreme Court stated that the government had never mandated the vaccine and also pointed out different issues of the petitioners.

Supreme Court’s decision on large scale criminal conspiracy

June 24, 2022: Zakia Ahsan Jafri vs State of Gujarat & Anr.

The top Court held no criticism of SIT’s (Special Investigation Team) approach and the decision was taken based on the investigation report by SIT. In this case, the deceased was killed and the case was presented before the High Court by the appellant which was dismissed. A special investigation team was found since the petitioners did not follow an appropriate procedure to file the complaint as well as the HC did not issue directions for FIR registration. The Gujarat Government objected stating undue delay in filing of FIR. During the investigation, SIT identified 30 allegations in the stated complaint including the instructions given by Shri Narendra D. Modi to give vent to Hindu anger (in the wake of Godhra incident) toward minority Muslims. After investigation, the SIT gave “clean chit” to the accused and the Supreme Court found that all the assertions of the appellant were false.

SC on unmarried women’s right to abortion

July 21, 2022: X... vs The Principal Secretary Health and Family Welfare Department & Anr.

The petitioner was allowed to terminate a pregnancy based on the proper interpretation of the statute and ensured that no benefit would be revoked on the ground that the petitioner is an unmarried woman, mentioned by the Supreme Court. In this case, an unmarried woman was in a consensual relationship and learned that she was pregnant for a term of 22 weeks. As her relationship failed, she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. Also, she stated that due to the absence of livelihood she would not be able to nurture the child properly. A writ petition was further presented before the Delhi High Court to allow her to abort. While addressing this case, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules 2003 was thoroughly considered.

Supreme Court on unreasonable fees demand by arbitrators

August 30, 2022: Oil and Natural gas Corporation Ltd. vs Afcons Gunanusa JV

While hearing this case, the Supreme Court held that arbitrators do not have the power to determine their fees by issuing enforceable orders. Also, the arbitrators cannot be their own judge against the parties. The parties can approach the Court to review the fees demanded by the arbitrators if they feel it to be unreasonable. In addition, the top Court illustrated that arbitrator’s fees should be fixed to avoid unnecessary conflicts and litigation. 

Supreme Court on juvenile justice

September 12, 2022: Vinod Katara vs State of Uttar Pradesh

While hearing Vinod Katara vs State of Uttar Pradesh case, the Supreme Court stated that keeping children in an adult jail results in different types of liberty infringement. Petitioner was found guilty of murder by the Agra’s Session Court and sentenced him for life imprisonment. The Allahabad High Court, while hearing the public interest litigation ordered the JJB (Juvenile Justice Board) to check the prisoner’s age in the jail who claims to be a juvenile. On Medical examination, it was identified that the applicant was around 15-years-old. Therefore, the SC ordered the JJB to perform bone ossification test for confirming the age of the applicant so that proper actions could be taken. 

Does wearing hijabs at school affect uniformity and discipline

October 13, 2022: Aishat Shifa vs The State of Karnataka

The bench of the Supreme Court including two judges Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia delivered a split judgment on the case of Aishat Shifa vs The State of Karnataka. The judgment was made on whether Muslim students shed their hijabs before entering their school gates. Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia said that asking a girl to take off her hijabs at the school gate is an invasion of their privacy and an attack on their dignity. Also, he addressed that there should be restriction on wearing hijabs in schools and colleges in Karnataka further stating that “wearing hijab is ultimately a matter of choice”. In his opposition, Justice Hemant Gupta said that “secularity means uniformity” and compiled that wearing uniforms is a reasonable restriction. This split decision of the judges results in presenting the case to a larger bench.

EWS reservation impacting the basic structure of Constitution

November 07, 2022: Janhit Abhiyan vs Union of India

In this case, threefold grounds were addressed which were the bases of the challenge to the 103rd Constitution Amendment. First was making special provisions based on economic criteria in education and employment. Second was excluding educationally and socially backward classes (SC, ST, OBCs) from the benefit of special provisions (EWS reservation). The last one was proving 10 % additional reservations resulting in a breach of 50% reservations. All these grounds result in unacceptable abrogation of the Equality code affecting the basic structure of the constitution. While hearing this case, split decisions were given by the bench of five SC Justices including CJI. Uday Umesh Lalit, J. Dinesh Maheshwari, J. S. Ravindra Bhat, J. Bela M. Trivedi and J. J.B. Pardiwala. The challenges raised to the 103rd Constitution Amendment fails due to the decision rendered by the majority of Justices.

Quashing of criminal complaint

December 16, 2022: Hasmukhlal D. Vora & Anr. Vs The State of Tamil Nadu

In this case, the appellant had filed an appeal against the judgment of the High Court where the appellant’s plea to quash the criminal complaint was dismissed. It has been said that the appellant had sold the bulk quantity of raw materials to various drug manufacturers by dividing it into different pack sizes. There was no stock found on the premise of appellant and the respondent did not have a proper explanation regarding the delay of more than 4 years between SCN, initial site inspection and complaint. After the investigation, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal by setting aside the impugned judgment passed by the HC. Also, stated that it’s the duty of the HC to perform proper investigation to prevent miscarriage of justice even though quashing of the criminal complaint was done in rarest of rare cases.