In this fortnightly series, Bar & Bench brings you 15 important judgments and other orders passed by the Supreme Court of India over the past two weeks.Below are our picks for the last two weeks of July 2023..1. Person summoned under Section 319 CrPC need not be given opportunity of hearing before being added as accused: Supreme CourtCase Title: Yashodhan Singh and Others v. State of Uttar Pradesh and AnotherA Division Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan held that it is not mandatory to give an opportunity of hearing to a person summoned under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 (CrPC) before such person is added by the trial court as an accused in the case.It explained that Section 319 CrPC does not contemplate the inclusion of such natural justice principles since a person is only being summoned so he can face trial.The Court clarified that such a right of inquiry or hearing would accrue only to a person who has already been discharged under Section 227 of CrPC in the very same proceeding prior to the commencement of the trial..2. Extra-judicial confessions do not gain credibility if published in newspapers: Supreme Court acquits murder accusedCase Title: Dinesh BS v. State of KarnatakaA Division Bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Pankaj Mithal made it clear that extra-judicial confessions do not gain credibility merely because they are published in a newspaper report.The Court observed that a Karnataka High Court decision to uphold the murder conviction of an accused based on newspaper reports was 'surprising'."...an extrajudicial confession cannot be given greater credibility only because it is published in a newspaper and is available to the public at large. It is well-established in law that newspaper reports can at best be treated as secondary evidence," the Supreme Court said..3. Merits of evidence cannot be gone into at stage of summons to accused during trial: Supreme CourtCase Title: Sandeep Kumar v. State of Haryana and AnotherIn this case, Justices CT Ravikumar and Sudhanshu Dhulia criticised a Punjab & Haryana High Court order that effectively declared persons accused in a criminal case to be innocent at the stage of summons itself.The Court noted that the High Court had wrongly allowed a revision petition against a trial court's order of summons by appreciating evidence at that stage."The merits of the evidence has to be appreciated only during the trial, by cross examination of the witnesses and scrutiny of the Court. This is not to be done at the stage of Section 319 (of the Code of Criminal Procedure), though this is precisely what the High Court has done in the present case,” the Supreme Court said..4. Cannot revoke license of medical practitioner under Contempt of Courts Act: Supreme CourtCase Title: Gostho Behari Das v .Dipak Kumar Sanyal and OthersA Division Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol set aside a Calcutta High Court order to revoke a medical practitioner’s licence for contempt of court.The Court said that courts cannot revoke medical licences under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.It added that the power to punish medical practitioners by revoking their license to practice medicine only lies with the National Medical Commission..5. Mere possession of violent literature not terrorist Act under UAPA: Supreme CourtCase Title: Vernon v. State of MaharashtraWhile granting bail to Bhima Koregaon violence accused Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, a Division Bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia observed that mere possession of literature through which violent acts may be propagated will not fall within the scope of 'terrorist act' under Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).The Court also noted that there was no evidence that Gonsalves and Ferreira committed any terrorist act that would require the Court to invoke the stringent provisions against the of bail under Section 43D(5) of UAPA.It went on to hold that there is no material which prima facie established that they had indulged in activities that would constitute overawing any public functionary by means of criminal force..6. SLP under Article 136 not maintainable against NCDRC order passed on appeal or revision plea: Supreme CourtCase Title: M/S Universal Sompo General Insurance Company Limited v. Suresh Chand Jain and AnotherA Division Bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra ruled that National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) orders cannot be directly challenged before the top court unless the order was passed in exercise of the NCDRC’s original jurisdiction..7. Supreme Court rules against Jet Airways; says employer can't override Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act to curtail employee rightsCase Title: Bharatiya Kamgar Karmachari Mahasangh v. M/s. Jet Airways LtdA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Sanjay Karol emphasised that a beneficial law like the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 cannot be overridden by employers through settlements or contracts which effectively curtail workers' rights and dues.The Court held that an employer may override Model Standing Orders issued under the 1946 Act only if the agreement to override the Standing Order is more beneficial to the employees..8. Democracy an essential feature of Constitution, yet no recognition of fundamental right to vote: Supreme CourtCase Title: Bhim Rao Baswanth Rao Patil v. K Madan Mohan Rao and OthersA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar opined that it was paradoxical that the right to vote has not been recognised as a fundamental right in India, despite democracy being an essential facet of the Constitution.The Court stressed that an elector's right to know the detailed background of a candidate is part of constitutional jurisprudence and said,"The right to vote, based on an informed choice, is a crucial component of the essence of democracy. This right is precious and was the result of a long and arduous fight for freedom, for Swaraj, where the citizen has an inalienable right to exercise her or his right to franchise...Democracy has been held to be a part of one of the essential features of the Constitution. Yet, somewhat paradoxically, the right to vote has not been recognized as a Fundamental Right yet; it was termed as a “mere” statutory right.".9. Writ courts should not ordinarily interfere with power of arrest of GST officers: Supreme CourtCase Title: State of Gujarat v. Choodamani Parmeshwaran Iyer and AnotherA Division Bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Prashant Kumar Mishra held that the power of officers under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act 2017 (GST Act) to arrest a person could be termed as statutory in character and a writ court should not ordinarily interfere with the exercise of such power.The Bench further said that courts should not ordinarily impose any condition before effecting arrest under Section 69 of the GST Act.If any conditions are imposed before effecting arrest like giving prior intimation to the person concerned etc, the statutory provisions would be rendered ineffective and meaningless, the Court added..10. School transfer certificate cannot be relied upon to determine age under Juvenile Justice Act: Supreme CourtCase Title: P Yuvaprakash v. State Rep by Inspector of PoliceIn this case, Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar held that a school transfer certificate cannot be the basis to determine the age of a person under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act).The Court held that as per Section 94 of the JJ Act, wherever the dispute with respect to the age of a person arises in the context of her or him being a victim under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), the following documents have to be relied upon:(i) the date of birth certificate from the school, or the matriculation or equivalent certificate from the concerned examination Board;(ii) in the absence of (i), the birth certificate given by a corporation or a municipal authority or a panchayat;(iii) in the absence of (i) and (ii) above, age shall be determined by an ossification test or any other latest medical age determination test..11. IBC overrides Electricity Act, creditors should be repaid before settling government dues: Supreme CourtCase Title: Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited v. Raman Ispat Private Limited and OthersA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Dutta ruled that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016 (IBC) overrides the provision of the Electricity Act, 2003, in view of Section 238 of the IBC.The Court also clarified that creditors under the IBC, both secured and unsecured, are entitled to have their debts repaid first before dues payable to the State or the Central governments are settled.The Supreme Court placed substantial emphasis on the 'waterfall mechanism' under Section 53 of the IBC. This provision prioritises the payment of dues to secured creditors who relinquish the right to enforce security when the liquidation process is initiated..12. Supreme Court directs High Courts, State DGPs to ensure compliance with Arnesh Kumar guidelines to avoid unnecessary arrestsCase Title: Md. Asfak Alam v. State of Jharkhand and AnotherIn this case, a Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar ordered the issue of circulars, notifications and instructions to ensure that police authorities and criminal courts strictly adhere to the guidelines on arrest laid down in the 2014 Arnesh Kumar case.The Court ordered High Courts to frame the directions issued in the Arnesh Kumar case in the form of notifications and guidelines to be followed by sessions courts and other criminal courts.Likewise, the Directors General of Police in all states were directed to ensure strict compliance with such guidelines..13. "Discipline is hallmark of Armed Forces": Supreme Court refuses relief to army driver who overstayed leave Case Title: Ex Sepoy Madan Prasad v. Union of IndiaA Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal said that being disciplined is an intrinsic part of the Armed Forces and any leeway in this regard sends a wrong message.The Court observed that gross indiscipline by those serving in the forces cannot be tolerated.The top court made the observation while upholding a mechanical transport driver's dismissal from army service for taking excess leaves without notice..14. No legal right to seek de-sealing of property by Cantonment Board when building plan not been sanctioned: Supreme CourtCase Title: Ram Kishan (Deceased) through Legal Representatives and Another v. Manish Kumar and AnotherA Bench of Justices CT Ravikumar and PV Sanjay Kumar held that a property sealed by the Delhi Cantonment Board alleging unauthorized construction cannot be requested to be ‘de-sealed’, while the building plan of that property has not yet been sanctioned by the Cantonment.The Court had earlier directed the Cantonment Board to consider the building plan of the litigant before the Court.Before such sanction of the building plan was issued, the litigant approached the Supreme Court seeking the de-sealing of the property.The Court dismissed the plea after noting that when the earlier order had only asked the Board to consider the litigant's building plan, "the writ petitioner cannot be allowed, now, to contend that the DCB got an obligation to de-seal the property of the writ petitioner.".15. Breach of condition must be fundamental to deny insurance claim altogether: Supreme CourtCase Title: Ashok Kumar v. New India Assurance Company LimitedA Division Bench of Justices JK Maheshwari and KV Vishwanathan held that any violation of a condition in an insurance policy should be in the nature of a fundamental breach to deny the claimant insurance coverage.Here, the insurer had repudiated the claim in a motor accident case by saying that the driver had left the vehicle unattended on a public road with the key in the ignition.The Court held that even if there was some carelessness, it was not a fundamental breach of condition to totally deny the insurance claim altogether..1. Supreme Court allows extension of tenure of ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra till September 15, 2023Case Title: Jaya Thakur v. Union of IndiaIn this case, a three-judge Bench of Justices BR Gavai, Vikram Nath, and Sanjay Karol extended the tenure of the incumbent Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) Sanjay Kumar Mishra till September 15, 2023.The Court allowed a plea filed by the Central government for such extension but made it clear that no further extension would be granted.The order was passed on a plea filed by the Union government for the modification of the Court's July 11 verdict which had set a deadline of July 31 for the appointment of a new ED Director..2. "Same party ruling Centre, State": Supreme Court pulls up Nagaland, Union government for not providing reservation for women in local bodiesCase Title: PUCL and Another v. State of Nagaland and OthersA Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia reiterated that Constitutional provisions of reservation for women in local bodies must be implemented in Nagaland, while criticising both the Nagaland government and the Central government for failing to take steps to implement the same.The Court noted that the same party (Bharatiya Janata Party/ National Democratic Alliance) was in power both in the State and at the Centre and questioned why the Union government was not doing more..3. [Delhi-Meerut rapid rail] If ₹1,100 crore can be spent on ads in 3 years, then State can finance infra projects too: Supreme CourtCase Title: MC Mehta v. Union of India and Others A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia pulled up the Delhi government for the delay in implementing the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) project and not contributing its share of funds for the project.The Court said,"If ₹1100 crore can be spent on ads in the last three years, certainly infrastructure projects can be financed.".4. Courts should not summon State government officials at the drop of a hat: Supreme Court stays Patna HC orderCase Title: State of Bihar and Others v. Ghyansham Prasad SinghA Bench of Justices BR Gavai and JB Pardiwala stayed a Patna High Court order to issue a non-bailable warrant against an Additional Chief Secretary of the Bihar Education Department.Pertinently, the Court emphasised that State government officials should not be summoned to courts "at the drop of the hat."The Court made it clear that the practice of securing the presence of government officers in courts was justified only when there is a patent disregard and disobedience of court orders..5. Supreme Court grants bail to Teesta Setalvad Case Title: Teesta Atul Setalvad v. State of GujaratA three-judge Bench of Justices BR Gavai, AS Bopanna and Dipankar Datta granted bail to activist Teesta Setalvad in the conspiracy case lodged against her for allegedly maligning the State of Gujarat and then Chief Minister Narendra Modi for their handling of the 2002 Gujarat riots.The Court noted that the High Court had denied bail to Setalvad on the ground that Setalvad had not challenged the FIR and chargesheet under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) or Articles 226 or 32 of the Indian Constitution.Since she did not challenge the same, she could not claim that a prima facie case was not made out, the High Court had said.But the Supreme Court said that such a finding by the High Court was "perverse to say the least"..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 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.