In this fortnightly series, Bar & Bench brings you 15 important judgments and other orders passed by the Supreme Court of India.Below are our picks for the last two weeks of August 2023..1. Supreme Court calls for State rules on selection, training, pay of support persons in POCSO casesCase Title: Bachpan Bachao Andolan v. Union of India and OthersA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar issued a slew of guidelines on the selection, functioning, and pay of "support persons" to assist victims and their families in cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act).The Court directed the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) to follow Section 39 of the POCSO Act (mandating States to frame guidelines for use by NGOs and professionals to provide trial and pre-trial assistance to survivors). However, the Court also indicated that such rules should be framed by all states, under the supervision of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).The Court further underscored that in POCSO cases, the ordeal of survivors is often aggravated by the lack of support and handholding in the days that follow. Such support is required if true justice is to be meted..2. Supreme Court acquits death-row prisoner accused of murdering his son, two brothersCase Title: Irfan @ Naka v. State of Uttar PradeshA three-judge Bench of Justices BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Prashant Kumar Mishra acquitted a death-row prisoner who had earlier been convicted by the trial court and the Allahabad High Court for the murder of his son and two brothers.The Court expressed doubts on the reliability of the dying declarations of the deceased, noting its apprehensions against the 'mode and manner' in which they were recorded. It then proceeded to lay down eleven factors that can be considered by courts to decide on how much reliance should be placed on a dying declaration before convicting a person.Read the 11 factors here..3. Retired employees cannot claim retrospective application of decision to enhance retirement age: Supreme CourtCase Title: Dr. Prakasan MP And Others v. State Of Kerala And AnotherA Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal rejected a plea filed by homoeopathic doctors seeking retrospective implementation of the Kerala government's decision to increase the retirement age of doctors in government homoeopathic colleges from 56 years to 60 years.The Court said that such a decision lies exclusively within the domain of the executive and whatever may be the cut-off date fixed by the State, some employees would always be left out in the cold.The Court also held that the idea behind extending the retirement age of doctors was to take care of the emergency situation caused by shortage of doctors, which was affecting studies and patient care..4. Translated copy of chargesheet need to be supplied only if both accused and advocate not conversant with language used: Supreme CourtCase Title: Central Bureau of Investigation v. Narottam Dhakad and AnotherA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Rajesh Bindal observed that there is no specific provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) requiring the investigating agency to file a chargesheet under Section 173 in the language of the court determined under Section 272 of the CrPC.The Court further said that a translated copy of the chargesheet needs to be supplied only if the accused and his lawyer are not conversant with the language used in the chargesheet.Pertinently, the Court said that filing of chargesheet in a language which the accused does not understand will not be a ground to claim default bail..5. Supreme Court lays down factors to decide on remission; says trial judge opinion should not be mechanically followedCase Title: Rajo v. State of Bihar and OthersA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Prashant Kumar Mishra highlighted the importance of holistically considering applications for premature release or remission of eligible convicts and laid down factors to guide such decisions. The Court laid down the following factors for the remission board or the government to consider while deciding on remission pleas:- Potential of the convict to commit crimes in the future; his socio-economic conditions, age, state of health, familial relationships, the possibility of reintegration, and the extent of earned remission;- Post-conviction conduct including, but not limited to, whether the convict has attained any educational qualification while in custody, volunteer services offered, job or work done, jail conduct, whether they were engaged in any socially aimed or productive activity, and the overall development as a human being;-Whether there remains any fruitful purpose of continued incarceration..6. Advocates can preside over 'self-respect marriages' in their personal capacity in Tamil Nadu: Supreme CourtCase Title: Ilavarsan v. The Superintendent of PoliceA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar observed that there was no blanket ban on advocates solemnising self-respect marriages in their personal capacity as per Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act, which is an amendment inserted by the Tamil Nadu government. The Court clarified that lawyers who are not acting in a professional capacity as officers of the court, but in their personal capacity of knowing the couple, can perform marriages under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act.The top court's ruling, in effect, paves way for self-respect marriages in Tamil Nadu to continue taking place in advocates' offices..7. Supreme Court convicts RJD leader Prabhunath Singh for 1995 murder; slams Bihar Police, Patna High Court, prosecutorCase Title: Harendra Rai v. State of Bihar and OthersA three-judge Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abhay S Oka and Vikram Nath castigated the trial court, the Patna High Court, the Bihar Police and the public prosecutor for their handling of a murder case in which Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and former Member of Parliament Prabhunath Singh was the main accused.The Court termed the case an "exceptionally painful episode of our criminal justice system" while holding Prabhunath Singh guilty for the 1995 murders of Daroga Rai and Rajendra Rai, and for attempting to murder a court witness, Lalmuni Devi. It also lamented that the courts, the police and the prosecution had 'utterly failed' to fulfill their responsibilities and duties.The Court also came down upon the trial court and the High Court for shutting their eyes to the manner in which investigation and trial was conducted by the prosecution.The case before the top court arose out of appeals filed by the brother of one of the deceased in a 28-year-old double-murder case..8. Test Identification Parade not violative of Article 20(3) of Constitution; Accused cannot refuse to join TIP: Supreme CourtCase Title: Mukesh Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi)A Bench of Justices MM Sundresh and JB Pardiwala held that the conduct of Test Identification Parade is not violative of Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India.The Court said that an accused cannot resist subjecting himself to the TIP on the ground that he cannot be forced or coerced for the same. It also noted that Section 54A of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the identification of the arrested person where it is considered necessary for the purpose of investigation by the officer-in-charge of a police station. The said provision empowers the court, on the request of the officer-in-charge of a police station, to direct for placing the accused for a test identification parade..9. Dissenting opinion of an arbitrator cannot be treated as an award if the majority award is set aside: Supreme CourtCase Title: Hindustan Construction Company Limited v. National Highways Authority of IndiaA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar held that a dissenting opinion cannot be treated as an award if the majority award is set aside.In this case, a three-member arbitral tribunal passed an award in a dispute between Hindustan Construction Company Limited and National Highways Authority of India. The award was unanimous on most questions while, on others, there was a dissenting view of one of the arbitrators. The Bombay High Court set aside the award observing that the tribunal’s majority view and award were based on an implausible interpretation of the contract.While allowing the appeal, the Court said that it is evident that a dissenting opinion cannot be treated as an award if the majority award is set aside..10. In disciplinary proceeding, burden of proof depends on nature of charge and explanation put forward by employee: Supreme CourtCase Title: State Bank of India v. AGD ReddyA Bench of Justices JK Maheshwari and KV Vishwanathan held that the burden of proof in disciplinary proceedings depends on the specific nature of the charge leveled and the explanation provided.“It is well settled that, in a disciplinary proceeding, the question of burden of proof would depend upon the nature of the charge and the nature of the explanation put forward by the respondent. In a given case, the burden may be shifted to the respondent depending upon the explanation."The Court also reaffirmed the limited scope of judicial review in departmental enquiry proceedings..11. Appointment cannot be denied citing suppression of material facts when employer's query was vague: Supreme CourtCase Title: State of West Bengal v. Mitul Kumar JanaA Bench of Justices JK Maheshwari and KV Vishwanathan highlighted the crucial aspect of specificity when seeking information from candidates during the verification process.The Court noted that the respondent (constable) was not obligated to furnish information about pending criminal cases, as the query specifically pertained to arrest, detention and conviction.“In this case, the information sought in verification roll was not specific and vague in nature. The respondent has specifically disclosed the information which was required to be furnished. Considering the subsequent development of the clean acquittal of respondent for the petty offences, it requires consideration objectively by the authority, about the question of fitness, ignoring the issue of surpassing the information.”It also reaffirmed an employer's discretion in considering antecedents even after a candidate's truthful disclosure of a pending criminal case and subsequent acquittal..12. Execution petition cannot be dismissed as inexecutable merely because property's possession is lost to third party: Supreme CourtCase Title: Smt. Ved Kumari (Dead Through Her Legal Representative) Dr. Vijay Agarwal v. Municipal Corporation of DelhiA Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Prashant Kumar Mishra held that the executing court cannot dismiss an execution petition by treating the decree for possession as inexecutable, merely on the basis that the property has been lost to a third party/encroacher.“If this is allowed to happen, every judgment-debtor who is in possession of the immoveable property till the decree is passed, shall hand over possession to a third party to defeat the decree-holder’s right and entitlement to enjoy the fruits of litigation and this may continue indefinitely and no decree for immovable property can be executed", the Court said..13. Doctrine of Harmonious Construction: Ambiguous clauses in deed must be interpreted consistent with other clauses and with intent of parties: Supreme CourtCase Title: Shri Nashik Panchavati Panjarpol Trust v. The ChairmanA Bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Dipanker Dutta applied the doctrine of harmonious construction in a case related to ambiguity in consent terms between parties recorded by the High Court in relation to an award in a land acquisition matter."As per the rules of doctrine of harmonious construction, the document has to be read as a whole and in its totality. If there is any ambiguity either patent or latent, in any of the clauses of the document, the courts should interpret such clause in such manner which is consistent with the other clauses and with the purpose and intent of the parties executing it," the Court said.In this regard, the Court held that ambiguous clauses in deed must be harmoniously interpreted in consistent with other clauses as with the intent of parties..14. Conviction cannot be sustained if accused was not informed about right to be searched before magistrate/Gazetted Officer: Supreme CourtCase Title: Mina Pun v. State of Uttar PradeshA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal held that that if the accused were not informed about their right to be searched before a magistrate or a gazetted officer, it is a violation of the safeguard provided by Section 50 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act).In this case, the accused were convicted by the trial court under Section 20 of the NDPS Act. Their appeals were dismissed by the Allahabad High Court. The accused served the entire substantive sentence of ten years rigorous imprisonment and a sentence for a period of six months in default of the payment of the fine..15. Bus Accident deaths: Supreme Court reduces jail term of bus owner, driver without license who drove with wrist deformityCase Title: Jinu Sebastian and Another v. State of KeralaA Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan reduced the punishment awarded to two persons convicted for causing a bus accident that led to 5 deaths and 63 injuries.One of the convicts, who was driving the bus, had a deformity on his left wrist. The owner of the bus, the second convict who was also the driver's brother, was aware of this.The Court observed that the accident could have occurred due to any reason and could not be attributed solely to the deformity on the left wrist of the driver.Hence, it sentenced the drive to 1-year imprisonment while the owner of the bus was sentenced to 4 months in jail along with fine of ₹7.5 lakh.1. PM Modi degree row: Supreme Court refuses interim stay on defamation proceedings against Arvind KejriwalCase Title: Arvind Kejriwal v. State of Gujarat and AnotherIn this case, a division bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti refused to pass any interim stay on the defamation proceedings initiated against against Delhi Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal by the Gujarat University over the statements made by then regarding the academic degree of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The Court was hearing an appeal by the Delhi CM against a recent Gujarat High Court order passed by Justice Samir Dave refusing to grant an interim stay on the proceedings initiated against Kejriwal and Sanjay Singh..2. "Cannot issue directions to Pakistan": Supreme Court rejects PIL for Indo-Pak Judicial Committee to solve fishermen issuesCase Title: Veljibhai Masani and Others v. Union of India and OthersA Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia rejected a public interest litigation seeking revival of a joint Indo-Pak judicial committee to resolve disputes between the two countries concerning fishermen who were captured in territorial waters.The Court said that these are political matters, and even otherwise, it does not have the jurisdiction to issue directions to the Pakistan government..3. Supreme Court cancels bail granted to son of Rajasthan Congress MLA, others accused of gang-raping 15-year-old girlCase Title: Bhagwan Singh v. Dilip Kumar @ Deepu @ Deepak and AnotherA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar cancelled the bail granted to Deepak Meena, son of sitting Rajasthan Congress Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Johari Lal Meena, and two other accused in connection with the gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl in February 2021.The Court lamented the fact that the Rajasthan High Court had gotten 'swayed' by the delay in filing of the complaint and the lack of recovery of the alleged video of the act..4. Supreme Court upholds bail granted to former Andaman Chief Secretary Jitendra Narain in rape caseCase Title: XXX v. Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and AnotherA Bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah dismissed petitions challenging a Calcutta High Court order granting bail to former Andaman and Nicobar Islands Chief Secretary Jitendra Narain in a gang-rape case.The Court, however, asked the Union Territory administration to look into the complainant's safety and also directed parties to cooperate to ensure an expeditious trial in the rape case..5. Avoid bulky synopses, says Supreme Court after 60-page synopsis filed in appeal against 6-page HC orderCase Title: Drakshayanamma and Others v. Girish and OthersA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal stated that parties should avoid filing bulky synopses in cases before it. The Court observed that pleadings before the apex court should not be voluminous when orders and pleadings in the courts below are brief..6. Supreme Court seeks response from Central government, States on plea seeking reservation for Transgender personsCase Title: Subi KV vs Union of India and OthersA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud as well as Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra sought the responses of the Central government and all states and union territories on a plea seeking reservation for transgender persons in education and employment.The Court issued notice on the plea that asserted that transgender persons are entitled to reservation under Article 16 (Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) of the Constitution..7. Saturday hearing: Supreme Court criticises casual approach by Gujarat High Court in rape survivor's plea to terminate pregnancyCase Title: XYZ v. State of GujaratIn a special Saturday sitting, a Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan objected to the Gujarat High Court's handling of a case where a 26-weeks pregnant rape survivor sought termination of her pregnancy. The Court had noted that a lot of time had been lost with the High Court initially adjourning the case..8. We will lay down guidelines for courts to follow when summoning government officers: Supreme CourtCase Title: State of Uttar Pradesh and Others v. Association of retired Supreme Court and High Court judges at Allahabad and OthersA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that it will lay down guidelines for courts across the country to adhere to when summoning government officers to courts in cases involving government.The Court said that there must be a different set of standards to be followed when seeking personal presence of government officials in pending cases and cases which have already been adjudicated since the latter involves an element of contempt of court..9. If lecturer's suspension by J&K admin is due to his appearance in Article 370 case, please look into it: Supreme Court to governmentCase Title: In Re: Article 370 of the ConstitutionDuring the hearing pertaining to the abrogation of Article 370, a Constitution Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant asked the Central government to ascertain the reason behind the suspension of a senior lecturer of the School Education Department, Dr. Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, who appeared before the Supreme Court in the ongoing challenge to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.The CJI h noted that if the suspension was based on factors unrelated to the professor's involvement in the case, then it could be deemed acceptable. However, he urged the SG to look into the matter if the suspension was indeed a result of the professor's appearance in the case..10. Supreme Court defers decision in Cauvery river dispute case; asks TN, Karnataka to await CWMA reportCase Title: State of Karnataka by Its Chief Secretary v. State of Tamil Nadu by its Chief SecretaryIn this case, a three-judge bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra indicated its disinclination to decide on how much Cauvery river water from Karnataka should be released to Tamil Nadu, without first examining the report of the designated expert body.The Court said it would await the report of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), which would also indicate whether Tamil Nadu's share over the river water should be increased or reduced..Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - August 1 to 15, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - July 16 to 31, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - July 1 to 15, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court during summer vacation - June 1 to 30, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - May 16 to 30, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - May 1 to 15, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - April 16 to 30, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - April 1 to 15, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - March 15 to 31, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - March 1 to 15, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - February 15 to 28, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - February 1 to 15, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - January 15 to 31, 2023 here.Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - January 1 to 15, 2023 here.