Supreme Selections: Top Supreme Court Judgments of January 2024

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Overview of January Month

This month, the Supreme Court of India heard various matters including stock manipulation of Adani Group, Umar Khalid’s bail plea, Nawab Malik’s interim bail, the pre-mature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, the murder case, cheating of wife and various others. The top Court delivered remarkable verdicts and orders in the first month of 2024. A total of 75 judgments were delivered by the top court including 51 Reportable judgments. Let us explore some of the important verdicts of the Supreme Court. 

Important Verdicts of January Month

Inadvertent errors do not constitute misrepresentation or willful suppression

Judgment NameVashist Narayan Kumar vs. The State of Bihar & Ors. (January 02, 2024)

BenchJustice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice K.V. Viswanathan

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Article 142}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the appellant (Vashist Narayan) had applied for the post of a Police Constable under the reserved category. Satisfying the eligibility criteria, he passed all the stages of the selection process but was not selected, the reason being the incorrect date of birth on the online application form. The matter was first mentioned before the Patna High Court which ordered that “since incorrect information was provided, no relief could be given”. The same was affirmed by the division bench of the Patna HC. The appellant, therefore, approached the Supreme Court. The SC held that such an error is a trivial error that appears to be a genuine and bona fide mistake. It will be unjust to penalize the appellant for the same. The bench further directed the state to treat the appellant as a candidate who has “passed”, in the selection process with the date of birth as 18.12.1997 and issue an appointment letter. 

Statutory Right of the Dissenting Finacial Creditor

Judgment NameDBS Bank Limited Singapore vs. Ruchi Soya Industries Limited (January 03, 2024)

BenchJustice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti

Articles and Acts Involved: {Indian Penal Code, 1860- Sections 302 and 201} and {Evidence Act, 1872- Section 27}

Supreme Court Decision: The question of law for consideration in the present case was “Whether Section 30(2)(b)(ii) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 20161, as amended in 2019, entitles the dissenting financial creditor to be paid the minimum value of its security interest?” After hearing the contentions, the SC bench opined that it would be appropriate if the aforementioned question be referred to a larger bench. It further mentioned to place the matter for appropriate orders before the Hon’ble Chief Justice.

Adani-Hindenburg Controversy (Stock Manipulation Case)

Judgment NameVishal Tiwari vs. Union of India (January 03, 2024)  

BenchChief Justice of India DY ChandrachudJustice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 32 and 142}, {Companies Act, 2013- Sections 2(76) and 89}, {Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992- Sections 11 and 30}, {Depositories Act 1996}, {Securities Contracts (Regulations) Rules, 1957- Rule 19A}, {SEBI (Foreign Portfolio Investments) Regulations, 2014}, and {SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, Regulation 2(1)(zb)}

Supreme Court Decision: In the Adani-Hindenburg controversy regarding the stock manipulations by the Adani group of companies, as alleged by an “activist short seller”, Hindenburg Research, the SC held that they did not find any reason to interfere with regulations made by SEBI and transfer the probe to Special Investigation Team (SIT). Moreover, the bench stated that the reliance on a third-party report, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), without any verification, cannot be used as proof to transfer the probe in this case from SEBI to SIT. While refusing to transfer the probe, the bench said that the report from third-party organizations “can be treated as inputs but not conclusive evidence to doubt SEBI’s probe.”

SOP to High Courts on Summoning of Government Officials

Judgment NameThe State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Association of Retired Supreme Court and High Court Judges at Allahabad (January 03, 2024)

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

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 76, 165, 226 and 299} and {Contempt of Courts Act, 1971- Section 14}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the petition was instituted before the HC seeking an increase in the allowance granted to former judges of the HC for domestic help and other expenses. The question answered by the SC was “Whether the High Court had the power to direct the State Government to notify Rules proposed by the Chief Justice pertaining to post-retiral benefits for former Judges of the High Court?” It stated that the HC cannot usurp the functions of the executive and compel the executive to exercise its rule-making power in the manner directed by it. The bench further opined that “Compelling the State Government to mandatorily notify the Rules…virtually amounted to the High Court issuing a writ of mandamus to notify the Rules proposed by the Chief Justice.” it added that such directions by the HC are impermissible and contrary to the separation of powers envisaged by the Constitution. Apart from this, the top Court also issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to High Courts on the ‘arbitrary and frequent’ summoning of government officials. It added, “Constantly summoning officials of the government instead of relying on the law officers representing the government, runs contrary to the scheme envisaged by the Constitution.” 

Life-imprisonment in Murder Case

Judgment NamePerumal Raja @ Perumal vs. State Rep. by the Inspector of Police (January 03, 2024)

Bench: Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti

Articles and Acts Involved: {Indian Penal Code, 1860- Sections 302 and 201} and {Evidence Act, 1872- Section 27}

Supreme Court Decision: While convicting the appellant (Perumal Raja) for the murder of Rajini, the Supreme Court also pointed out that “Section 27 of the Evidence Act is frequently used by the police, and the courts must be vigilant about its application to ensure credibility of evidence, as the provision is vulnerable to abuse.” In this case, the SC also ruled that facts sourced by the accused, not in formal police custody, are admissible as evidence.

Bilkis Bano- 2002 Gujarat Riots Case

Judgment NameBilkis Yakub Rasool vs. Union of India & Others (January 08, 2024)

BenchJustice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan

Articles and Acts Involved: {Constitution of India, 1950- Articles 14, 19(1), 21, 32, 72, 142, 161, and 226}, {Indian Penal Code, 1860- Sections 143, 147, 302, and 376(2)(e) and (g)}, and {Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- Sections 360, 432(2), 433, 433A, and 435}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the SC was hearing a plea against the remission and pre-mature release of 11 convicts, guilty of committing heinous crimes (murder and rape) during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The bench set aside the remission granted to 11 convicts by the Gujarat Government and ordered them to report to the concerned jail authorities within two weeks from January 08. The convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment for murders and gang rapes including of Bilkis Bano. 

Skill Development Scam Case (Split verdict)

Judgment NameNara Chandrababu Naidu vs. The State of Andhra Pradesh (January 16, 2024)

BenchJustice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M. Trivedi

Articles and Acts Involved: {Indian Penal Code, 1860- Sections 166, 167, 418, 420, 465, 468, 471, 409, 209, 109, 120­B, 34, and 37}, {Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988- Sections 3, 4, 12, 13(2), 13(1)(c) and (d), and 17A}, {Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- Sections 197, 223, and 482}, and {Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018}

Supreme Court Decision: The top court was hearing the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP Chief N. Chandrababu Naidu’s plea seeking to quash FIR, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, in connection with the Skill Development scam case. The bench gave a split verdict on the matter dissenting on a point of law, whether prior approval before the initiation of the investigation of the FIR against Naidu under the PC Act was required from the competent authority. Moreover, the interpretation of Section 17A of the PC Act was differently viewed by a two-judge bench. The matter was, therefore, referred to a larger bench led by CJI for appropriate directions.

Cheating case against wife by husband

Judgment NameMariam Fasihuddin vs. State by Adugodi Police Station (January 22, 2024)

BenchJustice Surya Kant and Justice Dipankar Datta

Articles and Acts Involved: {Indian Penal Code, 1860- Sections 346, 498A, 506, 415, 420, 468, 471, and 34} {Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- Sections 173(8), 239, and 482}, and {Passports Act, 1967- Section 12(b)}

Supreme Court Decision: The main question addressed by the SC, in this case, was whether the actions of the wife, forging the signatures of her husband to seek a passport for her minor child, prima facie constitute the offence of cheating under Section 420 IPC. After hearing the contentions, the Supreme Court held that “The background of this case and the chronology of events squarely indicate that it is the touchstone of a marital dispute. The insinuations made by Respondent No. 2 (husband), even if they possess an iota of truth, have miserably failed to prima facie establish the elements of ‘cheating’ and thus, the accusation made against the Appellants under Section 420 IPC must fall flat.” It also quashed the pending criminal case against the appellant (wife) lodged by respondent no. 2 (husband) and ordered the husband to pay the cost of Rs. 1,00,000 to the wife.

DHFL Fraud Case

Judgment NameCentral Bureau of Investigation vs. Kapil Wadhawan (January 24, 2024)

Bench: Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal

Articles and Acts Involved: {Indian Penal Code, 1860- Section 120B r/w Sections 206, 409, 411, 420, 424, 465, 468 and 477A}, {The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973- Sections 167,  167(2), 173, and 173(2)}, and {Prevention Of Corruption Act, 1988- Section 8}

Supreme Court Decision: In this case, the appellant-CBI has sought to challenge the impugned order passed by the High Court upholding the order passed by the Special Judge (PC Act), by which respondent nos. 1 and 2 have been granted default bail. It was alleged in the said FIR inter alia that the DHFL, Sh. Kapil Wadhawan, the then Chairman and Managing Director, DHFL, along with 12 other accused persons entered into a criminal conspiracy to cheat the consortium of 17 banks led by Union Bank of India. The matter was mentioned before the SC and it denied  bail to the accused stating that “the respondents could not have claimed the statutory right of default bail under Section 167(2) on the ground that the investigation qua other accused was pending.”

Other Important Judgments

1. How many total judgments were given by the Supreme Court in January 2024?
2. How many were reportable judgments?