In this fortnightly series, Bar & Bench brings you 15 important judgments and orders passed by the Supreme Court of India.Below are our picks for the first two weeks of September 2023..1. Supreme Court rules that 2014 judgment striking down Section 6A of DSPE Act is retrospectiveCase Title: CBI v. RR KishoreA Constitution Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath and JK Maheshwari ruled that its 2014 judgment in Subramanian Swamy v. Director CBI, which struck down Section 6A of the 1946 Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE Act), would have a retrospective effect.Section 6A had provided that prior Central government sanction was mandatory before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could conduct investigations in corruption cases against Union government bureaucrats from the rank of Joint-Secretary onwards.However, in Subramanian Swamy vs Director CBI, the apex court struck down Section 6A (1) on the ground that it was violative of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution of India. The top court had also held that there cannot be a distinction between officials based on their status and rank.The 2014 ruling had, however, not clarified what would happen to existing cases being probed by the central agency..2. Child of void/voidable marriage has right to parents' ancestral property in Hindu joint family: Supreme CourtCase Title: Revanasiddappa and Another v. Mallikarjun and OthersA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud with Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra ruled that children born out of void or voidable marriages can claim a right in their parents' ancestral property in joint Hindu families following the Mitakshara system of law.The Court held that a child under Section 16(1) and Section 16(2) of Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) would be a legitimate kin under the Hindu Succession Act (HSA).It also said that Section 6 of the HSA, which deals with interest in coparcenary property, lays down a legal fiction that coparcenary property would be treated as if partition had taken place.Consequently, the Court opined that the provisions of the HSA have to be harmonised with those of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) to ensure that a child under Section 16(1) and (2) of the HMA has a right in the property of their parents..3. Courts cannot convict one accused and acquit the other when evidence against both is the same: Supreme CourtCase Title: Javed Shaukat Ali Qureshi v. State of GujaratA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Sanjay Karol underscored that courts cannot discriminate between persons accused of a crime, when the evidence against all such persons is the same.The Court had made the observation while acquitting four persons who had been convicted in connection with allegations of dacoity, murder and being part of an unlawful assembly..4. Duty of police to produce jailed accused for trial, cannot shift blame for non-appearance to accused: Supreme CourtCase Title: Satendra Babu v. State of Uttar PradeshA Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra made it clear that it is the duty of the police to ensure that persons accused in criminal cases and who are behind bars are duly produced before the trial court.The Court noted that the blame for any such negligence on the part of the police cannot be attributed to the imprisoned accused..5. Liquidator under IBC cannot cancel auction on expectation of higher bids: Supreme CourtCase Title: Eva Agro Feeds Private Limited v. Punjab National Bank and AnotherA Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan held that a liquidator who is part of the corporate insolvency and resolution process (CIRP) under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) cannot cancel an auction merely on the expectation that a higher price may be bid for the sale of assets.The Court explained that cancelling a valid auction on such expectations could erode the credibility of the auction process.It further made it clear that liquidators of corporate debtors do not hold 'absolute or unfettered discretion' to cancel an auction that is otherwise valid.The Court added that after an auction, it is not open to the liquidator to act on third-party communication and cancel the auction unless it is found that fraud or collusion has vitiated the auction..6. DBS Bank not liable for legal violations by officials of Lakshmi Vilas Bank prior to amalgamation: Supreme CourtCase Title: Religare Finvest Limited v. State of NCT of Delhi and AnotherA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar held that criminal proceedings cannot stand against DBS Bank in connection with violations of law by officials of the erstwhile Lakshmi Vilas Bank before the two entities merged.The Court noted that the criminal proceedings in question were attributable to the actions of four officials of Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB), prior it its amalgamation with DBS Bank.Further, a clause in the amalgamation scheme approved by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with respect to LVB and DBS Bank also supported the position that DBS Bank could not be held liable for the criminal actions of LVB's officials prior to the amalgamation..7. Supreme Court acquits two in 1989 murder case; says courts must test evidence carefully when FIR is delayedCase Title: Harilal v. State of ChhattisgarhA Bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra acquitted two men who were earlier sentenced to life imprisonment in a 1989 murder case.In doing so, the Court overturned the earlier conviction in the case after noting that the Chhattisgarh High Court had not adequately examined the evidence and witness statements in the case.The Court also took note of the fact that the first information report (FIR) in the case was filed the morning after the murder.The Bench emphasised that where there is an unexplained delay in registering the FIR, courts should be more circumspect in analysing the case..8. Supreme Court slams Patna High Court for confirming death penalty to rape and murder accused despite contradictions in witness statementsCase Title: Munna Pandey v. State of BiharA three-judge Bench of Justices BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Prashant Kumar Mishra took strong exception to the conduct of a Bihar trial court, the police, the public prosecutor and the Patna High Court in a case concerning a death-row prisoner convicted for the rape and murder of a ten-year-old girl.The manner in which the case was handled also prompted the bench to dwell on what defined and constituted a fair trial, and how truth was 'the soul of justice.'The observations came while disposing of an appeal against a 2018 Patna High Court order that had upheld the conviction and death sentence of the accused. The High Court had confirmed a verdict by a Bhagalpur Sessions Court, which led to the appeal before the Supreme Court..9. Supreme Court berates Bihar government for "assisting" RJD's Prabhunath Singh in 1995 murder case; awards life term to SinghCase Title: Harendra Rai vs State of Bihar and OthersA three-judge Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abhay S Oka and Vikram Nath sentenced Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and former Member of Parliament Prabhunath Singh to life imprisonment for two murders committed in 1995.The Court imposed the sentence while opining that the death penalty would not be appropriate since the incident took place almost 28 years ago.In the sentencing order, the Court also lamented that the Bihar government had assisted the accused (Singh) in the case rather than prosecute it fairly..10. Litigants disobey orders because courts are lenient and accept apology from contemnors: Supreme CourtCase Title: Balwantbhai Somabhai Bhandari v. Hiralal Somabhai ContractorA Bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra lamented that litigants often flout court orders because courts are lenient towards those held guilty in contempt of court proceedings and close such proceedings merely because such contemnors apologise afterward.The Court stated that such leniency makes certain litigants realise how potent a weapon an apology can be.Over time, such a lenient attitude has actually emboldened unscrupulous litigants to disobey court orders or violate their undertakings with impunity, the Bench opined.Notably, the Court also ruled that the wilful disobedience or breach of an assurance given in an undertaking by lawyers on behalf of their clients to the court would amount to civil contempt..11. Supreme Court orders Ladakh administration to notify LAHDC polls afresh; allots plough symbol to National ConferenceCase Title: Union Territory of Ladakh and Others v. Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and AnotherA Bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah set aside the ongoing election process for the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) and ordered the administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh to issue a fresh notification for the polls within seven days.The Court also held that the National Conference (NC) was entitled to use the plough symbol for the polls.Pertinently, the Bench imposed costs of ₹1 lakh on the Ladakh administration and asked it to deposit the same with the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Welfare Fund, within two weeks..12. Court should not allow litigants to misuse process of law through multiple, vexatious pleas: Supreme CourtCase Title: Vasant Nature Cure Hospital and Pratibha Maternity Hospital Trust and Others v. Ukaji Ramaji through legal heirs and AnotherA Bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Dipankar Datta slammed the legal heirs of a litigant for filing multiple vexatious applications before the Gujarat High Court towards getting rights over certain property.In this case, applications were filed by the legal heirs on at least on five occasions, before being dismissed for non-prosecution. A sixth application was finally admitted by the High Court after imposing ₹15,000 as costs.The apex court opined that the High Court erred to entertaining this application..13. Supreme Court upholds Himachal Pradesh law levying tax on transport vehicle owners carrying passengers for freeCase Title: NHPC v. State of Himachal Pradesh Secretary and OthersA Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan upheld a 1997 Himachal Pradesh legislation that imposed tax on transport vehicles carrying passengers free of cost, including vehicles by employers for transporting their employees and families.The Court stated that the Himachal Pradesh Passengers and Goods (Amendment and Validation) Act, 1997, which was enacted to undo the effect of a High Court order from that year, was valid..14. Supreme Court sets aside Calcutta High Court order on finding legal aid counsel was appointed hours before award of life sentenceCase Title: Niranjan Das v. State of West BengalA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal set aside a Calcutta High Court decision awarding the life sentence to a murder accused on the very same day that it appointed an advocate to defend the accused.The Court emphasised that courts should give adequate preparation time for legal aid counsel so they can be well-versed with the facts of the case.In this case, however, the Bench noted that the High Court did not give the legal aid counsel reasonable time to prepare for her case..15. Supreme Court upholds life imprisonment of two men for murdering woman on suspicions of witchcraftCase Title: Bhaktu Gorain and Another v. State of West BengalA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal upheld the conviction of two men sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a woman on suspicions that she practiced witchcraft.The Court confirmed their conviction on finding that there was clinching evidence pointing to the guilt of the accused.It also noted that there were no gaps in the witness testimony against the accused persons. However, the two convicts were given the liberty to file remission applications..1. Unacceptable and undesirable for NLU Jodhpur to operate only with contractual teachers: Supreme CourtCase Title: The National Law University Jodhpur v. Prashant Mehta and OthersA Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia deemed the fact that National Law University (NLU) Jodhpur operates only with teachers hired on a contractual basis “unacceptable and undesirable”.The Court was hearing NLU Jodhpur’s appeal against a Rajasthan High Court ruling that held that the University, being a statutory body, was not expected to employ its staff on a contractual basis when their duties were perennial in nature. .2. Supreme Court upholds Lakshadweep admin decision to remove meat from mid-day meals in schools, close dairy farmsCase Title: Ajmal Ahmed R v. Union of India and OthersA Bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi upheld the decision of the Lakshadweep administration to close down dairy farms and omit meat from the menu of mid-day meals in schools on the islands.The Court stated that courts of law cannot interfere with such policy or administrative decisions. It cannot decide on what food should be eaten by children, the Bench added..3. Supreme Court flags huge pendency of suits in Maharashtra courts; says trials cannot go smoothly if lawyers not fairCase Title: Brihan Karan Sugar Syndicate Private Limited v. Yashwantrao Mohite Krushna Sahakari Sakhar KarkhanaA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Rajesh Bindal underscored that the high pendency of cases before courts cannot be resolved unless lawyers also cooperate with the process and act in a fair manner.The Court made the observation while dealing with a case in which a lawyer was noted to have made persistent objections during trial and consumed a lot of the trial court's time..4. Supreme Court directs Home Ministry to frame fresh guidelines on media briefings by police in criminal casesCase Title: Peoples Union For Civil Liberties v. The State Of MaharashtraA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to prepare a comprehensive manual on media briefings by the police in criminal cases so as to prevent media trials in such cases.The Court said that the existing guidelines were prepared a decade ago and since then, there has been an upsurge in reportage of criminal cases in print, electronic and social media..5. State officials cannot file frivolous cases just because they don't have to pay out of pocket: Supreme CourtCase Title: Special Land Acquisition Officer v. Vithal RaoA Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra observed that state government officers do not have the license to file frivolous petitions merely because they do not have to pay for indulging in litigation out of their own pocket.The Court made the observation while criticising a Karnataka government official for challenging a Karnataka High Court order to pay compensation to certain landowners..Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - August 16 to 31, 2023 here.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.