Supreme Selections: Yearly Digest 2023, PART-IV

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PART-IV: July and August


After summer vacations, the Supreme Court re-opened on July 03, 2023, with IT-enabled courtrooms. In July, the top Court delivered a total of 76 judgments which included 61 Reportable judgments approximately. During the proceedings this month, the SC judges heard various cases such as ethnic clashes in Manipur, the Abrogation of Article 370, the Defamation of ‘Modi’ surname case, the Adani Hindenburg case, the Delhi Meerut RRTS Project, the Gyanvapi Mosque case, and child abuse case. Along with this, the benches also heard matters related to the bail plea of Teesta SetalavadUmar Khalid, and Manish Sisodia. Moreover, this month, various judges were recommended for elevation as SC judges by the Supreme Court Collegium, and some were elevated after a positive response from the government. Some of the important verdicts delivered by the SC in July are discussed as follows:

Concealing Material Facts

Judgment NameState of Orissa & Anr. vs. Laxmi Narayan Das (Dead) thr. Lrs & Ors. (July 12, 2023)

Bench: Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal

Brief: The Supreme Court of India allowed an appeal by the State of Orissa concerning the Orissa Survey & Settlement Act, 1958. The bench highlighted a substantial delay on the part of the respondents in pursuing their remedy against the final publication of the record of rights. The SC said, “On the application of the principle of constructive res judicata, the writ petition filed by the respondents after withdrawal of the civil suit was not maintainable as no liberty was granted.” The Court observed that the litigant's non-disclosure of material facts could result in being non-suited and noted the absence of complete facts in the writ petition.  It added, “A litigant can be non-suited in case he is found guilty of concealing material facts from the court or misstating the same.” At last, the SC bench ordered that the respondents are not entitled to any relief.

IBC takes precedence over the Electricity Act, 2003

Judgment NamePaschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd. vs. Raman Ispat Private Limited & Ors. (July 17, 2023)

Bench: Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Datta

Brief: The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (PVVNL) challenging the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal's (NCLAT) decision regarding the release of attached property for liquidation. The Two-Judge Bench, affirmed that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) takes precedence over the Electricity Act, 2003, emphasizing that electricity dues do not hold priority.

Voters right to know candidate’s background information

Judgment NameBhim Rao Baswanth Rao Patil vs. K. Madan Mohan Rao & Ors. 

Bench: Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Aravind Kumar

Brief: On July 24, 2023, the SC dismissed a plea by Bhimrao Basanthrao Patil, BRS MP from Zahirabad constituency, against the Telangana High Court's judgment on an election petition. The petition was filed by K Madan Mohan Rao, challenging Patil's election for non-disclosure of full details about criminal cases, among other grounds. The bench hearing the matter held that the voter's right to know the complete background of a candidate, as evolved through court decisions, adds a new dimension to the constitutional jurisprudence.  

Armed Forces

Judgment NameEx Sepoy Madan Prasad vs. Union of India and Others (July 28, 2023)

Bench: Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Rajesh Bindal

Brief: A Court Martial (SCM) found the appellant guilty and dismissed him from service. The appellant appealed to the High Court, and the case was transferred to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), where it was ultimately dismissed. The SC held that Regulation 448 of the DSR, provides general guidelines for SCM sentences but doesn't limit the court's discretion to pass any legal sentence. The argument that the punishment exceeded the norm for absence without leave was deemed unacceptable.

Other Important Judgments of July Month

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In this month, a total of 97 judgments were delivered by the Supreme Court out of which there were around 65 Reportable judgments. Following are the important verdicts delivered by the bench in the month of August:

B.Ed. inappropriate for primary school teachers

Judgment NameDevesh Sharma vs. Union of India and Ors.

Bench: Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia

Brief: On August 11, 2023, the Supreme Court supported the Rajasthan High Court's decision, deeming B.Ed. inappropriate for primary school teachers. Emphasizes the need for quality education, deeming the NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education) decision arbitrary.

Guidelines on appointment of ‘support persons’ under POCSO Act

Judgment NameBachpan Bachao Andolan vs. Union of India & Ors. 

Bench: Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Aravind Kumar

Brief: The Supreme Court emphasized the crucial role of 'support persons' in providing information, emotional aid, and practical assistance to child victims. The bench on August 18, 2023, issued directions for framing guidelines for their (support persons) appointment, training, and remuneration. 

1995 Double-murder case

Judgment NameHarendra Rai vs. The State of Bihar & Ors. 

Bench: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Abhay S. Oka, and Justice Vikram Nath

Brief: On August 18, 2023, the top Court convicted Prabhu Nath Singh a BPP candidate accused of firing on voters supporting a rival party. The SC, having considered the accused's subsequent actions, held the FIR as a dying declaration and thus deemed it admissible. 

Dying declaration not a sole basis of conviction

Judgment NameIrfan @ Naka vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh (August 23, 2023)

Bench: Justice BR Gavai, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra

Brief: The Supreme Court held that to record the conviction based on the dying declaration alone, the Court must look for some corroborative evidence. If the evidence on record illustrates that the dying declaration is untrue then it cannot be the sole basis of conviction and will only be considered a piece of evidence. In context to the current case, the bench said, “it is difficult to rest the conviction solely based on the two dying declarations.” Moreover, the oral evidence of one of the witnesses does not inspire any confidence, therefore, the conviction of the appellant-convict was set aside.

Other Important Judgments of August Month

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1. How many total judgments were given by the Supreme Court in the month of July and August?
2. How many were non-reportable judgments?