May 26, 2024
Home » Top 5 Landmark Judgments on the Constitution of India in 2023-2024
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This article has been written by Sumit kumar, a 4th year student at Law college Dehradun, faculty of Uttaranchal university. This article has been approved by the Editorial Board of LegalOnus.

Charan singh v state of uttrakhand 2023 SCC online SC 454

Facts of the case

In 1993, the plaintiff got married to dead Chhilo Kaur. the father gave a lot of dowry during their marriage. After two months the appellant began to demand for a motor-vehicle from the deceased’s father. The father of deceased made a promise to buy one for him when the opportunity to acquire a new one arose.

The deceased was sent back to her parents with frequent requests for dowry. Subsequently the appellant’s side also started demanding land. On the previous day of 23/06/1995 in the village of Bhojpuri Dam Jagir the plaintiff was informed by the defendant that his daughter had been killed by her matrimonial home.

The complainant had not even been told when they were burning the dead body away. Her maternal grandmother and two uncles who were present observed wound marks on her body and that her teeth were broken out. She met her death since the demand for dowry was not met with regard to the motor-vehicle and the parcel of land. An enquiry was conducted into this incident and subsequently, Charan Singh, Gurmeet Singh, and Santo Kaur were charged.

Issue

Whether the Conviction of Appellant and sentence below 304B and 498A enough?

Whether, the plaintiff’s submitted evidence as to the demands for dowry, corroborates any brutality or harassment in relation to the deceased?

Provision related to this case

 Dowry death – Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.[1]

Presumption as to dowry death- When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the Court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.[2]

“Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”[3]

Appellant arguments

The defence argued that there was no credible evidence of dowry demands or cruelty leading up to the death of the deceased. None of the witnesses, including the parents and relatives of the deceased, indicated that dowry demands were made or that she faced harassment soon before her death.

The defence highlighted that Jagir Singh, who lived in the village and informed the father of the deceased about her death, was not called as a witness. This absence questioned the completeness of the prosecution’s evidence.

The defence noted that even though the maternal grandmother and two maternal uncles of the deceased were present at the cremation and lived near the village, they did not raise a complaint with the police at the time, indicating a lack of immediate evidence of foul play or harassment.

Respondent argument

The prosecution argued that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the deceased was subjected to cruelty and harassment for dowry demands. The quick cremation without informing the father of the deceased raised suspicions, and the family was known to have a history of demanding dowry.

The prosecution stated that the maternal grandmother and uncles did not complain to the police because they were threatened by the accused’s family.

The prosecution emphasized that despite sufficient evidence, the High Court had already reduced the sentence from 10 years to 7 years, demonstrating that the court had taken a more lenient view than the usual minimum punishment under section 304B IPC.

Judgement

The Supreme Court found that there was not enough evidence to maintain a conviction under section 304B or 498A IPC. This ruling suggested that the evidence did not meet the burden of proof for dowry death or cruelty in connection with dowry demands. Ultimately, the lack of clear evidence of harassment or dowry demands soon before the deceased’s death led to the court overturning the conviction.

Subhash Desai v. Governor of Maharashtra 2023 SCC online SC 607

Facts of case

The political turmoil in Maharashtra during late 2022 and early 2023 saw intense power struggles within political parties and between different factions. The backdrop involved events leading to the collapse of the ruling government and the formation of a new government with a different set of alliances. The petitioner, Subhash Desai, was a leader of the Shiv Sena party, associated with the faction led by Uddhav Thackeray. The respondent in this case was the Governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari. His actions and decisions were central to the controversy that unfolded. The central issue in this case was the role and powers of the Governor in determining the formation of government. This included questions about inviting factions to form the government, assessing their claim to majority, and decisions on floor tests in the legislative assembly. The dispute arose after the Governor recognized a breakaway faction of the Shiv Sena, led by Eknath Shinde, as the legitimate group to form the government. This decision was contentious, with the Thackeray faction questioning the legitimacy of the Governor’s actions, including the timing and manner in which he invited the Shinde faction to form a government. The case had broader implications for state politics in India and the role of the Governor in managing political instability. It raised questions about the Governor’s discretion, the role of the judiciary in reviewing gubernatorial actions, and the impact on party dynamics when factional splits occur.

Issue

Can the power of the governor to summon a person for a government formation be subjected to judicial scrutiny?

Is splitting within a political party as same as defecting from the party?

Provision Related to this case

The 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, commonly known as the “Anti-Defection Law,” was added to the Constitution by the 52nd Amendment in 1985.[4] Its primary aim is to address the problem of political defections by providing rules for disqualification of elected representatives in case of defection from political parties.

Appellant argument

The petitioner argued that the Governor, in recognizing a faction led by Eknath Shinde and inviting them to form the government, improperly exercised his discretion. The decision was questioned on the grounds of legality, fairness, and adherence to established constitutional principles. The petitioner claimed that the Governor’s decision to recognize the Shinde faction as the legitimate Shiv Sena group contradicted internal party norms and procedures. This action potentially undermined the authority of the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction, which had traditionally held the leadership. The petitioner argued that the Governor did not properly assess whether the Shinde faction had a clear majority in the legislative assembly. The Governor’s failure to conduct a thorough inquiry into the true support of the factions before inviting the Shinde group to form the government was seen as a critical point of contention. Moreover, they urged that the Supreme Court take another look at its decision in relation to Nabam Rebia v. Deputy Speaker of the AP Legislative Assembly (2016)[5]. In that case, the Court held that the Speaker has no power to issue a petition for disqualification on floor crossing if an application for his removal is pending. Those from Thackeray’s side claim that Representatives who face defection issues could make things easier. Those facing defection only needed to file a notice for the removal of the Speaker.

Respondent argument

The Governor asserted that his role requires discretion, especially when dealing with complex political situations like party splits or coalition formation. He argued that his actions were based on his discretionary powers as outlined in the Constitution, particularly under Article 163, which provides the Governor with the authority to act independently in specific situations. The Governor’s defence likely focused on his duty to ensure stable governance in the state. He would argue that he had sufficient reason to believe that the faction led by Eknath Shinde commanded a majority in the legislative assembly, thereby justifying his decision to invite them to form the government. The respondent claimed that he adhered to established procedures and precedents when assessing the claims of majority support. This would include consulting with party leaders, reviewing letters of support, and other methods to ensure that the invited faction had a legitimate claim to form the government.

Judgement

The Supreme Court bench made up of Hon’ble CJI DY Chandrachud, the Hon’ble Ms. M.R. Shah, Kohli, Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha and Krishna Murari, the governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, could not have directed a floor test to be done on 30th June 2022 as he had no tangible material or reason for that directing him so, the Government, therefore, he is not empowered to come inside politics through involving himself into inter or intra-party wrangles. The Thackeray group attempted to undo the situation before June 29, 2022. On June 2, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unable to restore the Uddhav government as he has not faced the floor test but opted to resign voluntarily.

Dinesh Gupta vs. the State of Uttar Pradesh 2024 INSC 32

Facts

Karan Gambhir, owner of M/s D.D. Global Capital Pvt. Ltd., filed an FIR against several people, including Sushil Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, Dinesh Gupta, Baljeet Singh, and otherscompany has been accused of giving short term to long term debts to companies like Gulab Buildtech and Verma Buildtech with purported expectation of getting back high rates of return. After acquiring significant shareholding, a share pledge agreement was allegedly forged. Amalgamation schemes reduced the company’s shareholding, without giving notice to any person. The accused ignored him when the complainant sought repayment of the loan, which led to legal action.

The FIR was registered in Noida, although the offices of the company were registered in Delhi. The Court viewed this as an example of “wishful forum shopping” by the complainant, raising doubts about their intentions. The complaint was filed in a location with no connection to the dispute. The Court criticized the Trial Court’s order for a lack of reasoning and highlighted that all parties involved had accurate addresses in Delhi, indicating that jurisdiction in Gautam Budh Nagar was incorrectly stated.

Issue

Whether a civil/commercial dispute should be pursued through criminal proceedings, and if the complainant engaged in misconduct by manipulating legal processes to file a false and frivolous FIR?

Appellant argument

The appellants argued that the complaint filed by Karan Gambhir was essentially a civil/commercial dispute, relating to a financial transaction between corporate entities. The initial transaction involved a short-term loan from the complainant’s company, M/s D.D. Global Capital Pvt. Ltd., to Gulab Buildtech and Verma Buildtech. The loan was later converted into debt equity with promises of high returns.

The appellants highlighted the significant delay in the complainant’s legal actions. The short-term loan was extended in 2010, yet the FIR was registered only on 29 July 2018, nearly 8 years and 7 months later. This considerable delay raised questions about the complainant’s motives and the legitimacy of the complaint.

Nearly one year after the scheme of amalgamation was approved by the Delhi High Court in February 2013; the complainant filed an application on 31 January 2014 seeking to recall the amalgamation order, citing lack of notice and a reduction in shareholding after the merger. This application was dismissed on 15 March 2016, indicating that the amalgamation had proceeded with due process and no objections were raised at the time.

The appellants contended that the FIR was registered in Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida), even though the registered offices of the involved companies and all parties were in Delhi. This misrepresentation suggested “wishful forum shopping” by the complainant, aiming to manipulate jurisdiction in a way that would favour their complaint.

The appellants criticized the Trial Court for issuing summons without proper consideration or reasoning. The court’s order was non-speaking, suggesting a lack of application of mind, and overlooking significant facts, including the addresses of the companies and directors, indicating a deficiency in the judicial process.

The appellants argued that the complainant concocted a narrative involving document forgery to give the dispute a criminal character. They pointed out that the initial recall application dismissed in March 2016 did not mention document forgery, yet this allegation appeared only in the later police complaint. This indicated an attempt to give the complaint a criminal angle without proper basis.

Respondent argument

The respondent argued that the case involved fraudulent activities, including allegations of forging documents and conversion of shares without proper authorization, warranting criminal action. Karan Gambhir, owner of M/s D.D. Global Capital Pvt. Ltd., filed an FIR alleging that a significant amount of short-term loans was extended to Gulab Buildtech and Verma Buildtech, which was later converted into equity without proper notice or authorization.

The respondent claimed that these financial transactions began with short-term loans extended in 2010. The complainant’s company, DD Global Capital Limited, invested a considerable sum in these companies, expecting significant returns. However, after an initial promise of high returns, the complainant noticed that their shareholding was reduced through schemes of amalgamation approved by the Delhi High Court in February 2013. This raised suspicions of forgery and manipulation, leading to the legal complaint.

The complaint alleged that a share pledge agreement was forged to benefit the accused. Additionally, when the complainant sought loan repayment, the accused ignored the requests, leading to legal action. The police subsequently filed a charge sheet under IPC Sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

Judgement

The Supreme Court quashed the FIR, emphasizing that the dispute between the parties was civil in nature and did not warrant criminal prosecution. The Court noted that filing criminal charges in this context overburdened the criminal justice system and violated principles of fairness and proper conduct in legal matters.

The Court pointed out that the dispute was primarily about a financial transaction and commercial matters. The complaint filed by Karan Gambhir related to a business dispute, including allegations of forged share pledge agreements and non-payment of loans. Despite the allegations, the Court noted that such issues are typically resolved through civil or arbitration processes, not through criminal proceedings.

The Supreme Court criticized the Trial Court’s order to issue summons for its lack of reasoning and proper consideration of facts. The order was non-speaking, indicating a lack of application of mind. The Court found that the complainant had misrepresented facts, providing incomplete or false addresses to establish jurisdiction in a location with no connection to the parties involved.

The Supreme Court imposed a penalty of ₹25 lakhs on the complainant, Karan Gambhir, for filing a false and frivolous complaint without disclosing essential facts. The Court directed that the penalty be deposited within four weeks with the Registry of the Court, and the amount would be equally distributed among the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) for the development and benefit of their members.

The Court emphasized the need to curb unscrupulous litigation practices that overburden the justice system and undermine public trust. It called for stricter terms and conditions, including costs, to discourage such conduct. The judgment also recommended reprimanding State actions or government servants involved in malicious litigation.

Container Corporation of India Ltd vs. Ajay Khera and Others 2024 Law Suit (SC) 32

Facts

The appellant was the Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR), and the respondent was Ajay Khera, who filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) due to concerns about rising pollution from the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Tughlakabad.

Ajay Khera, a former Executive Director of the Central Warehousing Corporation, filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), alleging that operations at the Tughlakabad ICD contributed to rising air pollution in the Delhi region. The complaint pointed out that this ICD was used by trucks and trailers that weren’t bound for Delhi, indicating a misuse of the facility and an increase in vehicle emissions.

The NGT took up the case, issuing interim orders to address the complaint’s concerns. The orders included recommendations for restricting non-Delhi-bound trucks at the Tughlakabad ICD, promoting the use of cleaner fuels, and potentially shifting certain operations to other ICDs to alleviate pollution in Delhi.

The case highlighted the broader issue of air pollution in Delhi, a city known for its severe air quality problems. Tughlakabad ICD’s operations were seen as contributing to these issues, leading to a call for regulatory changes to curb pollution.

The Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR), a government-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Railways, appealed against the NGT’s interim orders. CONCOR argued that the proposed changes to the Tughlakabad ICD’s operations would significantly impact cargo transportation and logistics, potentially increasing pollution due to longer transportation routes.

Issue

Whether the operations of the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Tughlakabad, involving heavy-duty diesel vehicles, contributed to air pollution, and how to implement measures for reducing pollution while maintaining efficient logistics?

Appellant argument

CONCOR argued that the NGT’s order to limit operations at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Tughlakabad would significantly impact the efficiency of logistics. The restriction on non-Delhi-bound trucks and trailers using the ICD would increase transportation distances, resulting in more emissions due to longer travel routes.

CONCOR highlighted the challenges in adopting alternative fuels like CNG and electric for heavy-duty transportation. It pointed out that current technology limitations and infrastructure constraints made a full transition to CNG or electric vehicles impractical, especially for long-distance transport.

CONCOR emphasized the importance of the Tughlakabad ICD as a key inland hub for containerized cargo handling, serving as an intermodal terminal with direct connectivity to seaports and railways. The proposed restrictions by the NGT could disrupt the efficient operation of this vital facility.

The appellant suggested that the NGT’s focus on restricting operations at the Tughlakabad ICD might not be the most effective approach. Instead, it proposed using other ICDs around Delhi to distribute the load and reduce congestion at Tughlakabad, thereby mitigating pollution.

Respondent Argument

The respondent main argument centered around the negative impact of the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Tughlakabad on air quality in Delhi. It was claimed that the ICD operations led to a significant increase in air pollution, affecting the health and quality of life of Delhi residents.

The respondent argued that the Tughlakabad ICD was being used by trucks and trailers not bound for Delhi, contributing to pollution through unnecessary transportation. This contradicted the ICD’s intended use as a facility for Delhi-bound goods, leading to additional emissions.

The respondent emphasized that air pollution impacts the fundamental right to a clean environment, as enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This argument underscored the necessity of the NGT’s measures to protect citizens’ health and well-being.

The respondent highlighted the problem of haphazard parking at the Tughlakabad ICD, leading to congestion and pollution. Despite having facilities for parking 940 trucks and trailers, the disorganized parking contributed to additional emissions and logistical challenges.

The respondent argued that other ICDs around Delhi were underutilized, with only Tughlakabad and Rewari operating at 60% or more of their capacity. Shifting operations to other ICDs could reduce the strain on Tughlakabad and help manage pollution more effectively.

Judgement

The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Container Corporation of India Ltd vs. Ajay Khera and Others case, issued on 11 January 2024, addressed environmental concerns related to the operations of the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Tughlakabad in Delhi and the impact of these operations on air quality.

The Supreme Court replaced the NGT’s interim orders with a new set of directives focusing on a phased transition to cleaner fuels and optimal utilization of ICDs around Delhi. The key directives were as follows:

  • The Union of India was directed to formulate a policy within six months to replace heavy-duty diesel vehicles with Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) vehicles, recognized for their reduced emissions.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways was tasked with exploring alternative fuel sources (CNG/Hybrid/Electric) for heavy-duty vehicles. This step aimed to promote the use of cleaner energy sources in transportation.
  • The Container Corporation was instructed to develop a plan within six months to better utilize nearby ICDs to reduce congestion at Tughlakabad and establish central laboratories at these ICDs for customs clearance and testing. This step would help decentralize operations and reduce traffic in Delhi.
  • The court directed the Container Corporation to improve parking facilities at the ICD to address haphazard parking and reduce congestion and pollution. The KPMG’s February 2021 recommendations were cited for implementing these changes within six months.

The Supreme Court established a monitoring mechanism to ensure the timely implementation of these directives, with a follow-up review scheduled for July 31, 2024, to assess progress. This indicated a commitment to ensuring compliance and achieving the transition to cleaner transportation solutions.

Nabendu Kumar Bandopadhyay v. Additional Chief Secretary and Others Civil Appeal No.86 of 2024

Facts

Nabendu Kumar Bandopadhyay was a civil servant employed by the West Bengal government. Nabendu Kumar Bandopadhyay, alleged that the Merlin Group was filling up a pond or water reservoir measuring about 10 acres. This pond was located at Dag No. 732 in Kolkata, within premises at 100 Dum Dum Cossipore Road (corresponding Premises No. 35, Dum Dum Cossipore Road).

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) initially dismissed the application, observing that there was no evidence of a water body in the photographs provided with the application. This dismissal was based on the prima facie findings of the NGT without conducting a detailed inquiry.

Issue

Whether the Merlin Group illegally reclaimed land by filling a water body, potentially causing environmental damage?

Appellant Argument

The appellant, Nabendu Kumar Bandopadhyay, alleged that the Merlin Group was filling up a pond or water reservoir measuring about 10 acres. This pond was located at Dag No. 732 in Kolkata, within premises at 100 Dum Dum Cossipore Road (corresponding Premises No. 35, Dum Dum Cossipore Road). The appellant argued that the filling was illegal and aimed to construct buildings and complexes on this reclaimed land.

To support his claims, the appellant provided photographs as evidence, showing the filling of the water body. The argument was that these photographs demonstrated the on-going reclamation activity, confirming that a significant water body was being filled to pave the way for construction projects.

The appellant criticized the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for dismissing the case without conducting a proper inquiry. The NGT’s dismissal was primarily based on the photographs provided, with the tribunal concluding that there was no evidence of a water body in these images. The appellant argued that this approach was flawed because the photographs might not clearly show the presence of a water body if it had already been filled in.

The appellant insisted that a thorough inquiry was needed to understand the full extent of the alleged land reclamation and its environmental impact. By summarily dismissing the case without this investigation, the NGT had not fulfilled its duty to address environmental grievances. The appellant argued that the NGT should have conducted a detailed examination of the site and other evidence to determine the truth of the matter.

Respondent Argument

The respondents argued that there was no substantial evidence to support the claim that a water body was being filled. They pointed out that the National Green Tribunal (NGT), upon reviewing the photographs provided by the appellant, found no clear signs of water or pond-like structures. As the evidence did not conclusively show the existence of a water body, the respondents argued that the case for illegal filling lacked merit.

The respondents emphasized that the NGT, based on its initial assessment of the photographs and other submitted documents, determined that there was no apparent case for interference. This formed the basis for the NGT’s dismissal of the case. The respondents argued that this decision was valid, as it was based on the absence of compelling evidence supporting the claim of illegal land reclamation.

Judgement

The Supreme Court criticized the NGT for summarily dismissing the case without a proper inquiry. It highlighted that the NGT, in handling environmental matters, should not strictly apply the procedural yardsticks from the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Instead, the NGT should focus on addressing environmental grievances and conduct comprehensive inquiries where needed. The Court noted that a summary dismissal without a detailed investigation was inappropriate.

The Supreme Court pointed out that if the water body had already been filled, it would not be visible in the photographs submitted. Thus, the NGT’s reliance solely on these photographs to dismiss the case might have been misguided. The Court stressed that environmental issues often require a deeper examination, and photographs might not always provide a complete picture.

The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the NGT for a fresh inquiry. It directed the tribunal to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations made by the appellant. The Court clarified that its order to remand was purely for a re-examination of the application and should not be construed as any findings or conclusions on the underlying issue of illegal land reclamation.

The Supreme Court’s judgment emphasized the need for the NGT to hold a new inquiry into the allegations, including gathering additional evidence, examining witness testimonies, and conducting site inspections if necessary. The Court’s remand order aimed to ensure that environmental grievances are properly addressed through a comprehensive legal process.


[1] Section 304B of IPC, 1860

[2] Section 113B of Indian Evidence Act, 1872

[3] Section 498A of IPC, 1860

[4] Constitution of India,1950.

[5] Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix vs Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly [(2016) 8 SCC 1]


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