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 last two weeks of September 2023..1. Dying declaration discarded to acquit a person cannot be basis for convicting co-accused: Supreme CourtCase Title: Phulel Singh v. State of HaryanaA three-judge Bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra held that a dying declaration which was discarded by a court, leading to the acquittal of an accused, cannot be the basis of conviction of another accused in the same matter..2. Courts should avoid frequently interfering with Settlement Commission process, orders: Supreme CourtCase Title: Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited v. Commissioner of Income Tax Bangalore and AnotherA Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan stressed that High Courts must be slow to interfere with rulings of Settlement Commissions, as such interference could lead to a multiplicity of proceedings.The Court noted that frequent interference by courts in disputes before such commissions could erode the confidence of those who these forums..3. Supreme Court invokes Article 142 of Constitution to protect 100-year-old trees in property disputeCase Title: Shirdi Nagar Panchayat v. Kishor Sharad Borewake and OthersA Bench of Justices BR Gavai and SVN Bhatti used its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to protect 100-year-old trees on a plot of land in Shirdi that was tied up in a legal dispute between certain landowners, plot holders and a municipal council.The Court acceded to an alternate prayer by the landowners and plot-holders, who ended up on the losing side of the case, to request the municipal council to use an alternative plot for the proposed development of a swimming pool and a game hall.The Court issued the direction while setting aside a July 2019 Bombay High Court order in the case. The High Court had partially allowed a challenge to a government notification converting the area from a 'no-development' zone to a residential zone..4. Supreme Court objects to Kerala policy excluding certain convicts from remission; orders release of man in jail for 26 yearsCase Title: Joseph v. State of Kerala and OthersA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta ordered the release of a man who had been behind bars for over 26 years after being convicted for robbing and murdering his sister-in-law.The Court also came down on the Kerala government for having earlier denied his applications for remission by relying on a rule that excludes those who had committed murders against women from availing the benefit of remission.The Bench added that typecasting such convicts through inflexible guidelines based on crimes committed several years ago undermines their reformative potential, and can crush the life force out of such individuals..5. Supreme Court acquits 2 death row convicts; says high time to have investigation code for policeCase Title: Rajesh and Another v. State of Madhya PradeshA three-judge Bench of Justices BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and PV Sanjay Kumar acquitted two persons on death row and a third person who was facing life imprisonment in a 10-year-old case involving the kidnapping and murder of a 15-year-old boy.The Court strongly lamented the police probe and prosecution in the case and called for the introduction of a police code of investigation to guide scientific investigations..6. Allegations of bigamy not relevant to decide validity of will: Supreme CourtCase Title: Meena Pradhan and Others v. Kamla Pradhan and OthersA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Sanjay Karol observed that it is not concerned with allegations of bigamy or a second marriage while deciding on the validity of a will..7. [SARFAESI Act] Borrower who fails to pay dues before auction notice cannot redeem mortgage: Supreme CourtCase Title: Celir LLP v. Bafna Motors Mumbai Private Limited and OthersA Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala held that the right of mortgage redemption is available to a borrower under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI Act), only till the publication of the auction notice and not thereafter.The Court observed that after an auction is concluded, borrowers internally relinquish their right to redemption under Section 13(8) of the Act.The Bench added that with the 2016 amendment, the right of mortgage redemption for borrowers was drastically curtailed..8. Acquittal in POCSO cases not clean when complainant backtracks, witnesses turn hostile: Supreme CourtCase Title: State of Madhya Pradesh and ors vs Bhupendra YadavA Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal held that an acquittal in a child sexual assault case cannot be said to be a clean one when the trial has seen witnesses turning hostile, and the complainant reneging on her allegations.The observations came while restoring a Madhya Pradesh High Court order that had upheld a State police decision not to appoint a POSCO-accused to the force.A single judge of the High Court refused to interfere with the decision of the police, but a division bench allowed the man's appeal.The top court, at the outset, noted that though the accused had disclosed the POCSO complaint against him while applying for the police post, the judgment of the trial court in the matter cannot be treated as a clean acquittal..9. Are unstamped arbitration agreements valid in law? Supreme Court refers issue to seven-judge benchCase Title: Bhaskar Raju and Brothers and Another v. Dharmaratnakara Rai Bahadur Arcot Narainswamy Mudaliar Chattram and other Charities and OthersA five-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud with Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant referred the issues decided by a five-judge Constitution Bench judgment in the case of NN Global Mercantile Pvt Ltd v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd & Ors to a seven-judge bench for reconsideration.The Court in NN Global had on April 25 held by a 3:2 opinion that unstamped arbitration agreements are not valid in law..10. Supreme Court slams IAF, Army; awards ₹1.6 crore to veteran who got HIV after blood transfusion at military hospitalCase Title: CPL Ashish Kumar Chauhan Retd vs Commanding Officer and OthersA Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta ordered the Indian Air Force (IAF) to pay around ₹1.6 crore in compensation to a veteran who contracted the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during a blood transfusion at a military hospital.The Court also slammed the IAF and the Army for their conduct and held them vicariously liable, both jointly and severally. It proceeded to issue a slew of directives for the Central and State governments, courts and quasi-judicial bodies to enforce the HIV Act.These directives included requiring governments to take steps to provide diagnostic facilities relating to antiretroviral therapy and Opportunistic Infection Management to people living with HIV or AIDS, apart from protecting the property of children affected by the disease..11. Supreme Court questions Bombay High Court's hasty reversal of civil court findings in second appeal Case Title: Suresh Lataruji Ramteke v. Sau Sumanbhai Pandurang Petkar and OthersA Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol criticised the Bombay High Court for hastily overturning the findings of two civil courts below it without adequately hearing the parties or examining the trial court records.The Court explained that even if the findings over the lower civil courts are to be overturned for "perversity" by the High Court, while deciding on a second appeal, this aspect should be "unmistakably reflected from the record."It added that a second appeal is not a "third trial on facts." If evidence is reappreciated at this stage, the second appellate court must properly appreciate the material on record and not just rely on an argument by a party that a finding is perverse, the top court said..12. Cannot ignore ratio laid down in earlier judgment merely because it stands referred to a Larger Bench: Supreme CourtCase Title: Rajnish Kumar Rai v. Union of India and OthersA Bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela Trivedi held that it cannot ignore the ratio laid down in an earlier judgment merely because the same stands referred to a larger bench.The Court held that judicial propriety did not permit it to ignore the ratio laid down in an earlier judgment, as no decision regarding the same had come out from the larger bench.Before the top court, the petitioner submitted that the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India v. Sanjiv Chaturvedi had referred Union of India v. Alapan Bandyopadhyay to a larger bench. However, the Court held:"We do not think judicial propriety permits ignoring the ratio laid down by the coordinate Bench in the case of Alapan Bandyopadhyay (supra) as no decision has come as yet from the larger Bench on the point of territorial jurisdiction of the High Court in a similar context. If we were to take a different view, the only course open for us would have been to refer the petition to the Hon’ble the Chief Justice for being adjudicated by a larger Bench, as has been done in the case of Sanjiv Chaturvedi (supra).".13. Courts should exercise restraint while exercising judicial review in contracts involving complex technical issues: Supreme CourtCase Title: BTL EPC Limited v. Macawber Beekay Private LimitedA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra held that courts should exercise restraint while exercising the power of judicial review in contracts involving complex technical issues.“Even in a writ appeal, it is well settled that the Division Bench would ordinarily not interfere with the judgment of a Single Judge unless it suffers from perversity or error,” the Court observed..14. Technical defects should not come in the way of justice: Supreme Court restores trial in cheque bounce caseCase Title: Bijoy Shankar Mishra v. State of Jharkhand and AnotherA Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, while restoring a cheque bounce case that had effectively been closed on account of a technical ground, held that technical defects or irregularities should not hinder substantitive justice.The Court used its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to restore the case, after also noting that the complainant in the matter had not received adequate legal assistance.The accused in the cheque-bounce case had earlier been discharged by a magistrate court after it opined at the stage of final arguments that it did not have territorial jurisdiction to hear the case.The top court added that the magistrate had passed its order without realising the legal consequences of such an order, as well as the fact that the trial had remained pending for over four years..15. Are MPs/MLAs immune from bribery charges? Seven-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court to decideCase Title: Sita Soren v. Union of IndiaA Constitution Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra referred to a seven-judge Constitution Bench the question of whether the legal immunity enjoyed by legislators under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution protects them from prosecution for taking a bribe..1. Supreme Court orders police probe after finding fake court order was attached to petition filed before itCase Title: Manish Madanmohan Agarwal and Others v. Satyanarayan Dulichandji Agrawal and OthersA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal ordered an investigation by the police after it found that a court order presented as part of a petition appeared to be fake and fabricated.The Court asked the concerned police station to submit a report in the matter within two months..2. 40 years after rape and murder, Supreme Court asks Calcutta High Court to prioritise convict's appealCase Title: Banamali Choudhury v. State of West BengalA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal directed the Calcutta High Court to hear on priority an appeal by a 75-year-old lawyer convicted in a case of rape and murder in 1983.The Court acknowledged that it should not normally set a specific time schedule for the High Court to decide a case.However, considering that the trial took forty years to conclude, the top court requested the High Court to prioritize the appeal out of turn..3. Child custody cases cannot be transferred on mere apprehensions of parties: Supreme CourtCase Title: Restricted (Not Available)Single-judge Justice Dipankar Dutta emphasised that child custody cases under the Guardians and Wards Act cannot be transferred from one court to another merely based on the apprehensions of parties to the dispute.The Court made the observation while rejecting a plea filed by a wife to transfer proceedings in a child custody case from Chandigarh to Delhi..4. Supreme Court slams UP police for omitting allegations in FIR over teacher asking students to slap Muslim classmateCase Title: Tushar Gandhi v. State of Uttar Pradesh and OthersA Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal took exception to the manner in which the Uttar Pradesh Police and government were handling the probe into the case where school students were allegedly goaded by a teacher to slap a Muslim classmate as punishment. The Court noted that that first information report (FIR) in the matter did not include some key allegations..5. We can intervene in principles of law but cannot run the Army: Supreme CourtCase Title: Nitisha v. Union of IndiaA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra rejected a plea which alleged discrimination against women officers when it comes to being given command over units in the Army.The Court stated that it cannot run the Army, but can only intervene if issues involve principles of law..6. Have virtual hearings been stopped? Supreme Court issues notice to all High Courts, NCLT, NCLAT, NGTCase Title: Sarvesh Mathur v. Registrar General High Court of Punjab & HaryanaA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra sought responses from all High Courts and various tribunals regarding whether they have suspended virtual hybrid hearing of cases and the reasons behind such decisions.The Court said that it had long been planning to raise this issue and sought the response of High Courts and tribunals on whether hybrid hearings have been discontinued..7. Manipur Violence: We do not propose to run Manipur administration, says Supreme CourtCase Title: Dinganglung Gangmei v. Mutum Churamani Meetei & OrsA three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra directed the President of the Manipur High Court Bar Association to confirm that lawyers were not being prevented from appearing before the High Court based on religious or other affiliations.The Court instructed the President to prepare a statement and submit orders of the High Court showing that lawyers from all communities appeared..8. Supreme Court says no to barium green crackers, joined crackers; says 2018 order on firecrackers will continueA Bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh refused to entertain applications to allow the manufacture and sale of barium crackers, as well as joined crackers.The Court clarified that the 2018 order allowing only green crackers and low-emission crackers would continue..9. Supreme Court refuses to entertain PIL for audit of EVMs; says disclosure of source code can lead to hackingCase Title: Sunil Ahya v. Election Commission Of IndiaA Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking an audit of the software used in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).The Court observed that the source code of the software cannot be put in public domain, as it will make the EVMs susceptible to hacking..10. Supreme Court refuses to raise Tamil Nadu's share of Cauvery water from 5,000 to 7,200 cusecs per dayA three-judge Bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra declined to entertain an application by the Tamil Nadu government to increase its current share of Cauvery river water from 5,000 to 7,200 cusecs (cubic feet per second) per day.The Court said it was not inclined to interfere with the order passed on this aspect by the Cauvery Water Management Authority, particularly since this authority was monitoring the situation every fifteen days..Read the Supreme Court fortnightly - September 1 to 15, 2023 here.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.