In this series, Bar & Bench will bring you 15 top judgments delivered by the Supreme Court of India every two weeks.Below are our picks for the first two weeks of May 2022..1. [COVID-19] No one can be forced to get vaccinated but bodily autonomy can be regulated: Supreme Court upholds vaccination policyCase Title: Dr Jacob Puliyel v. Union of India [Writ Petition (Civil) 607 of 2021]A division bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai held that administration of vaccines cannot be mandatory and no person can be forced to get vaccinated against their will. However, in the interest of protection of health of people, the Government is entitled to regulate issues of public health concern by imposing certain limitations on individual rights, the Court said. "If there is a likelihood of such individuals spreading the infection to other people or contributing to mutation of the virus or burdening of the public health infrastructure, thereby affecting communitarian health at large, protection of which is undoubtedly a legitimate State aim of paramount significance in this collective battle against the pandemic, the Government can regulate such public health concerns by imposing certain limitations on individual rights that are reasonable and proportionate to the object sought to be fulfilled," the judgment stated.On the basis of available material, and considering expert views on severe diseases, hospital admissions etc., the top court upheld the current vaccine policy of the Central government.Pertinently, the Court ordered that all COVID vaccine trial data including of future trials should be put in public domain subject to protection of privacy of individuals who were subjected to such trials..2. [Domestic Violence] Woman has right to reside in shared household of deceased husband even if she did not live there before Case Title: Prabha Tyagi v. Kamlesh Devi [Criminal Appeal 511 of 2022]A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna held that every woman in a domestic relationship has a right to reside in the shared household of her husband even after the death of her husband and that she can enforce this right irrespective of whether she actually lived in the shared household before."Even when the marital ties cease and there is no subsisting domestic relationship between the aggrieved woman and the respondent against whom relief is claimed but the acts of domestic violence are related to the period of domestic relationship, even in such circumstances, the aggrieved woman who was subjected to domestic violence has remedies under the DV Act," the Court ruled.The Court noted that under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, there should be a subsisting domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the person against whom the relief is claimed vis-à-vis allegation of domestic violence is raised.However, even in the absence of actual residence in the shared household, a woman, who was at some point of time, in a domestic relationship can enforce her right to reside there."In other words, even if an aggrieved person is not in a domestic relationship with the respondent in a shared household at the time of filing of an application under Section 12 of the D.V. Act but has at any point of time lived so or had the right to live and has been subjected to domestic violence or is later subjected to domestic violence on account of the domestic relationship, is entitled to file an application under Section 12 of the D.V. Act", the Court said in its judgment..3. [Section 498A] Dying Declaration of wife admissible to prove cruelty even if husband acquitted of charges relating to her deathCase Title: Surendran v. State of Kerala [Criminal Appeal 1080 of 2019]A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli held that the dying declaration of a wife under Section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act can be used against husband to prove cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), even if he is acquitted of charges related to her death.However, the Court stated that the same is subject to two pre-conditions:Wife's cause of death must come into question in the matter;andThe prosecution will have to show that the evidence that is sought to be admitted with respect to Section 498A of the IPC must also relate to the circumstances of the transaction of the death.The Court noted that under Section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act 1872, the phrase “cases in which the cause of that person's death comes into question” is broader than merely referring only to cases where there is a charge of murder, suicide, or dowry death.Therefore, the Court overruled the judgments in Gananath Pattnaik v. State of Orissa (2002), Inderpal v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2001), Bhairon Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2009) and Kantilal Martaji Pandor v. State of Gujarat (2013), to the extent they held that the evidence of the deceased cannot be admitted under Section 32(1) of the Evidence Act to prove the charge under Section 498A of the IPC..4. NCDRC is 'tribunal'; writ petition under Article 227 in High Court maintainable against NCDRC order Case Title: Ibrat Faizan v. Omaxe Buildhome Private Limited [Civil Appeal 3072 of 2022]A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna held that the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) is a 'tribunal ’ within the meaning of Articles 227 and 136 of the Constitution of IndiaThe bench thus held that a writ petition under Article 227 before the High Court, against an order passed by NCDRC under Section 58(1)(a)(iii) or under Section 58(1)(a)(iv) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, is maintainable since no other appellate remedy is provided in such cases."The National Commission can be said to be a ‘Tribunal’ which is vested by Statute the powers to determine conclusively the rights of two or more contending parties with regard to any matter in controversy between them. Therefore, as observed hereinabove in the aforesaid decision, it satisfies the test of an authority vested with the judicial powers of the State and therefore may be regarded as a ‘Tribunal’ within the meaning of Article 227 and/or 136 of the Constitution of India," the judgment stated..5. Plea for remission to be considered as per policy of State where crime is committed Case Title: Radeshyam Bhagwandas Shah @ Lala Vakil v. State of Gujarat and Another [Writ Petition (Civil) 135 of 2022]A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath held that an application of remission or premature release of a convict should be considered in accordance with the policy of the State where the crime is actually committed and not the State to which the trial was transferred and concluded.The Court was of the view that under Section 432(7) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the power to remit sentence is in the hands of the appropriate government, which can either be the Central or the State government but there cannot be concurrent jurisdiction of two State governments.Before the Court was a case regarding a crime which was committed in Gujarat but tried in Maharashtra. "Once the crime was committed in the State of Gujarat, after the trial been concluded and judgment of conviction came to be passed, all further proceedings have to be considered including remission or premature release, as the case may be, in terms of the policy which is applicable in the State of Gujarat where the crime was committed and not the State where the trial stands transferred and concluded for exceptional reasons," the judgment said..6. State laws will not apply to Non-Banking Financial Companies regulated by RBI Case Title: Nedumpilli FInance Company Limited v State of Kerala and Others [Civil Appeal 5233 of 2012]A Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian held that a Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC) regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), will not come under the purview of State statutes.The Court stated that such NBFCs, regulated in terms of the provisions of Chapter IIIB of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 cannot also be regulated by State enactments such as Kerala Money Lenders Act, 1958 or the Gujarat Money Lenders Act, 2011."Once it is found that Chapter IIIB of the RBI Act provides a supervisory role for the RBI to oversee the functioning of NBFCs, from the time of their birth (by way of registration) till the time of their commercial death (by way of winding up), all activities of NBFCs automatically come under the scanner of RBI. As a consequence, the single aspect of taking care of the interest of the borrowers which is sought to be achieved by the State enactments gets subsumed in the provisions of Chapter IIIB," Court held. .7. [Section 138 NI Act] No vicarious liability under Section 141 merely because a person was partner at firm which took loan Case Title: Dilip Hariramani v. Bank of Baroda [Criminal Appeal 767 of 2022]A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna held that criminal liability for cheque bounce cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act (NI Act) cannot be fastened on a person merely because he was a partner at the firm that had taken the loan or had stood as a guarantor for such a loan.The Court opined that vicarious liability in criminal law in terms of Section 141 of the NI Act, cannot be fastened merely because of civil liability that falls on partner of a firm."Vicarious liability under sub-section (1) to Section 141 of the NI Act can be pinned when the person is in overall control of the day-to-day business of the company or firm...Vicarious liability under sub-section (2) is attracted when the offence is committed with the consent, connivance, or is attributable to the neglect on the part of a director, manager, secretary, or other officer of the company," the Court held.Pertinently, the Court held that the provisions of Section 141 impose vicarious liability by deeming fiction which presupposes and requires the commission of the offence by the company or firm."Therefore, unless the company or firm has committed the offence as a principal accused, the persons mentioned in sub-section (1) or (2) would not be liable and convicted as vicariously liable. Section 141 of the NI Act extends vicarious criminal liability to officers associated with the company or firm when one of the twin requirements of Section 141 has been satisfied, which person(s) then, by deeming fiction, is made vicariously liable and punished," the Court said in its judgment..8. DAMEPL v DMRC: Supreme Court upholds Delhi High Court verdict on payment of interest on arbitral award amountCase Title: Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited v. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation [Civil Appeal 3657 of 2022]A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai held that the legislative intent behind Section 31(7)(a) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1966 is that the discretion with regard to grant of interest would be available to the arbitral tribunal only when there is no agreement to the contrary between the parties."The phrase “unless otherwise agreed by the parties” clearly emphasizes that when the parties have agreed with regard to any of the aspects covered under clause (a) of subsection (7) of Section 31 of the 1996 Act, the Arbitral Tribunal would cease to have any discretion with regard to the aspects mentioned in the said provision. Only in the absence of such an agreement, the Arbitral Tribunal would have a discretion to exercise its powers under clause (a) of subsection (7) of Section 31 of the 1996 Act. The discretion is wide enough. It may grant or may not grant interest. It may grant interest for the entire period or any part thereof. It may also grant interest on the whole or any part of the money," the top court said in its judgment.Since there existed a concession agreement between Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Anil Ambani-owned Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL), the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the High Court to the extent that the latter's claim that the outstanding interest has to be added in the principal amount cannot be accepted. .9. [PMLA] Courts cannot proceed on preponderance of probabilities; allegations must be proved beyond reasonable doubtCase Title: J Sekar @Sekar Reddy v. Director of Enforcement [Criminal Appeal 738 of 2022]A bench of Justices Vineet Saran and JK Maheshwari held that in cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), courts cannot proceed based on preponderance of probabilities but will require evidence beyond reasonable doubt.It further noted that in PMLA cases, the courts must look into the material collected by the enforcement authorities to show whether a prima facie case is made out or not."In our opinion, even in cases of PMLA, the Court cannot proceed on the basis of preponderance of probabilities. On perusal of the statement of objects and reasons specified in PMLA, it is the stringent law brought by parliament to check money laundering. Thus, the allegation must be proved beyond reasonable doubt in the court," the judgment said..10. No provisional registration for foreign medical graduates without clinical training in IndiaCase Title: The National Medical Commision v. Pooja Thandu Naresh and Others [Civil Appeal 2950-2951 of 2022]A Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian held that medical students who studied abroad cannot be granted provisional registration to practice in India without undergoing practical clinical training.Therefore, it held that the decision of the National Medical Commission to not grant provisional registration to such students without clinical training was not arbitrary."...without practical training, there cannot be any Doctor who is expected to take care of the citizens of the country," the judgment stated.However, the Court noted that students who have completed their curriculum according to the certificate granted by the concerned foreign institutes are "national resources" who should be utilised to augment the national health infrastructure..11. High Court should not entertain Article 226 plea if statute provides appellate remedyCase Title: M/s Kelkar and Kelkar v. M/s Hotel Pride Executive Private Limited [Civil Appeal 3479 of 2022]A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna held that a High Court should not entertain writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, if a statute provides an appellate remedy and the same has not been exhausted. "When the statute provides a further remedy by way of appeal against the award and even against the order passed by the trial court making the award a decree of the court, the High Court ought not to have entertained the writ petition and ought not to have set aside the award, in a writ petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India," the Court said..12. Recovery of excess increments paid to employee due to wrong interpretation of service rules unjustifiedCase Title: Thomas Daniel v. State of Kerala and Others [Civil Appeal 7115 of 2010]A bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Vikram Nath held that recovery of excess payments made to an employee on account of wrong interpretation of service rules is wholly unjustified.The Court opined that recoveries of such payments are more unfair, wrongful, improper and unwarranted than the corresponding right of the employer to get the amount."This relief against the recovery is granted not because of any right of the employees but in equity, exercising judicial discretion to provide relief to the employees from the hardship that will be caused if the recovery is ordered," the bench observed.The top court was of the view that excess amounts are not recoverable if there was no misrepresentation or fraud by the employee, or a wrong principle for calculating the pay was applied, or on the basis of a particular interpretation that was subsequently found to be erroneous..13. Order of life imprisonment for remainder of life does not take away right to seek furloughCase Title: Atbir v State of NCT of Delhi [Criminal Appeal 714 of 2022]A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose held that even if a person has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the rest of his natural life without the right to seek remission, the right to seek furlough based on good conduct will not be foreclosed.While drawing a contrast between parole and furlough, the Bench clarified that in furlough, the prisoner is deemed to be serving the sentence as opposed to parole which is akin to temporary suspension of execution of sentence.“Thus, even if the appellant would be on furlough, he would be deemed to be serving the sentence for all time to come,” the Court said. The Court emphasised that depriving the concession of furlough and taking away an incentive for good conduct would not only be counter-productive, but an antithesis to the reformative approach..14. "How can he be trusted?" Supreme Court rejects candidature for post of police constable for suppressing criminal antecedentsCase Title: State of Rajasthan and Others v. Chetan Jeff [Civil Appeal 3116 of 2022]A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna confirmed the rejection of the candidature of a person for the post of police constable after he was found to have suppressed material facts about pendency of the criminal cases against him.The Court stated that a person applying for the post of uniformed service is expected to be honest, trustworthy and reliable."An employee in the uniformed service presupposes a higher level of integrity as such a person is expected to uphold the law and on the contrary any act in deceit and subterfuge cannot be tolerated. In the present case the original writ petitioner has not confirmed to the above expectations/ requirements. He suppressed the material facts of his criminal antecedents," the Court observed.The bench criticised the approach of the High Court which had noted that since the respondent was charged with the offences which were trivial in nature, therefore, the suppression of such offences can be ignored and the appellant's candidature can be considered..15. [Contai Municipality] Elections can be challenged only through election petition; Calcutta HC cannot pass orders in PILCase Title: West Bengal State Election Commission and Another v. Soumendu Adhikari and Others [Special Leave Petition (Civil) 8359 of 2022]A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant stayed the order passed by Calcutta High Court directing the West Bengal State Election Commission to send the CCTV footage of Contai Municipal Election for forensic audit to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL).The Court stated such an order which amounts to verifying the sanctity and correctness of the election results can be passed only in an election petition and not in a public interest litigation (PIL)."Once results are declared, this becomes an election petition without actually an election petition. Booth capturing etc are grounds for a challenge in the election petition, not under this jurisdiction Mr Patwalia [counsel for the Respondent]. The High Court cannot collect the evidence in PIL," the bench remarked.India's democracy rests on faith in electoral process and courts should not interfere in everything as it will set a dangerous precedent for future, the Court observed..1. Sedition: Section 124A IPC to be kept in abeyance; asks Central government, States not to register new casesCase Title: SG Vombatkere v. Union of India [Writ Petition (Civil) 682 of 2021]A three-Judge bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli asked the Central government and States to refrain from registering any cases for the offence of sedition under Section 124A of the IPC.It further directed that proceedings under Section 124A be kept in abeyance till the government's exercise of reviewing said section is complete. The bench also asked governments not to continue investigation or take coercive steps in any pending proceedings under the provision till the government's exercise is complete."It is clear that Central government agrees that rigours of Section 124A is not in tune with the current situation and it was intended for the time when country was under colonial law. Thus, the Centre may reconsider it. It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further reexamination is over. We hope and expect Central government and States will refrain from registering any FIR, continuing investigation, or taking coercive steps under Section 124A IPC when it is being reconsidered by the Centre," the Court ordered.Should such cases be registered, the parties are at liberty to approach the concerned court. .2. 'Bhaiyaa is back' posters of rape accused with emojis of crowns and hearts show power he wields: Supreme Court cancels bailCase Title: Ms P vs State of Madhya Pradesh [Criminal Appeal 740 of 2022]A three-Judge bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli recently cancelled the bail granted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court to a rape accused student youth-wing leader after the Court was informed about the accused being welcomed with posters which said "Bhaiyaa is back" and "Welcome to role Janeman".The Supreme Court noted that the captions on the posters along with abundant use of emojis of crown and hearts indicated the power wielded by the accused in the society and has put fear in mind of complainant that she would not get a fair trial."The captions tagged to his photographs on the social media highlight the superior position and power wielded by the rape accused and his family in the society and its deleterious impact on the appellant/complainant," the Court observed.Such brazen conduct has evoked fear in the mind of the complainant that she would not get fair trial, the Court said."The brazen conduct of the accused has evoked a bona fide fear in the mind of the appellant/complainant that she would not get a free and fair trial if he remains enlarged on bail and that there is a likelihood of his influencing the material witnesses," the order said..Read Supreme Court fortnightly from April 16-30 here.Read Supreme Court fortnightly from April 1-15 here.Read Supreme Court fortnightly from March 16-31 here.Read Supreme Court fortnightly from March 1-15 here.Read Supreme Court fortnightly from February 15-28 here.Read Supreme Court fortnightly from February 1-14 here.