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Recent Important cases for UPSC Paper

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

List of important Judgments delivered by the Supreme Court

The following article have been heavily drawn from livelaw website and supreme court judgment text pdf. It have been however modified and rewritten in view of requirement of UPSC exam specifically GS paper - 2 and LAw optional.


1. SABARIMALA Judgment (Indian Young Lawyer’s Association & Ors. V. State of Kerala & Ors.]

Devotion Cannot Be Subjected To Gender Discrimination, Women Entry Allowed In Sabarimala By 4:1 Majority; Lone Woman In The Bench Dissents

By a 4:1 majority, the Court has permitted entry of women of all age groups to the Sabarimala temple, holding that ‘devotion cannot be subjected to gender discrimination’. The lone woman in the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, dissented.

"Women is not lesser or inferior to man. Patriarchy of religion cannot be permitted to trump over faith. Biological or physiological reasons cannot be accepted in freedom for faith Religion is basically way of life however certain practices create incongruities", the Chief Justice read out portions of the judgment written for himself and Justice A M Khanwilkar.

The separate but concurring opinion of Justice Nariman held : "Anything destructive of individuality is anachronistic of Constitutionality. To treat women as lesser people blinks at the Constitution itself".

Justice Chandrachud in his separate but concurring opinion held that the idea behind the ban was that presence of women will disturb celibacy, and that was placing burden of men's celibacy on women. This stigmatises and stereotypes women.

Justice Indu Malhotra, in her lone dissent, held that issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the Court. Court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion. Notion of rationality should not be seen in matters of religion. She also held that shrine and the deity is protected by Article 25 of Constitution of India.


2. Navtej Singh Johar& Ors. V. Union of India

157-Year-Old Law Criminalizing Consensual Homo-Sexual Acts Between Adults Struck Down; Section 377 IPC unconstitutional, insofar as it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it is a unanimous verdict expressed through four separate but concurring judgments. "Section 377 IPC is irrational , indefensible and arbitrary. The majoritarian views and popular morality cannot dictate constitutional rights"

The 2013 SC judgment in Suresh Kumar Koushal case was overturned by the Constitution Bench. Majoritarian Morality Cannot Dictate Constitutional Morality.

The judgment of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Khanwilkar was emphatic in stating that constitutional rights cannot be dictated by majoritarian views and popular morality. Majoritarianism was held to be constitutionally untenable.

"Constitution is a dynamic document, having the primary objective of establishing a dynamic and inclusive society", said the judgment.

Judgment further noted that it was time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset and to empower the LGBT community against discrimination.

· Identity & Autonomy

The judgment of CJI Misra and Justice Khanwilkar touched upon the aspects of identity and autonomy of individual. Sexual orientation was treated as an expression of identity, protected under fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. The judgment also noted that sustenance of identity was the essence of existence.

"Sexual orientation is natural. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is violation of freedom of speech and expression", noted the judgment.

It was also stated that bodily autonomy of an individual was to be constitutionally protected. A person should be able to share intimacy in private with a person of his choice; that forms part of his right to privacy.

· Homosexuality not a mental disorder

The judgment of Justice R F Nariman held that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. He referred to the latest Mental Healthcare Act passed by the parliament, which recognized homosexuality as a normal condition. Justice Nariman also added that homosexuals have the right to live with dignity.

The Suresh Kumar Koushal judgment was held to be no longer a good law in view of the judgments in NALSA case and Puttaswamy judgment.

· Tragedy inflicted by Section 377

The judgment of Justice Chandrachud touched upon the tragedy and anguish inflicted by Section 377.

"Section 377 has travelled so much that it has been destructive to LGBT community. It has inflicted tragedy and anguish, which are to be remedied", stated his judgment.He also observed that human sexuality cannot be confined to a binary.

Justice Chandrachud also added that the case was not just about decriminalising Section 377 IPC, and was about recognizing the rights of LGBT community.

· Historical wrongs apologized.

Justice Indu Malhotra said that history owed an apology to LGBT community for the persecution and ostracism imposed by Section 377.

The SC judgment in privacy case noting that 'sexual orientation' was a facet of privacy right, brought in a fresh perspective to the issue.


3. Justice K. S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) and Anr V Union of India & Ors.

Sections 33(2),47& 57 Of Aadhaar Act Struck Down; National Security Exception Gone; Private Entities Cannot Demand Aadhaar Data. Major Comments:-

Aadhaar Do Not Tend To Create A Surveillance State.

The majority judgment authored by Justice Sikri also holds that the architecture of Aadhaar, as well as the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, do not tend to create a surveillance state. It was observed that this aspect is ensured by the manner in which the Aadhaar project operates.

Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy’

The Court held that all matters pertaining to an individual do not qualify as being an inherent part of right to privacy. Only those matters over which there would be a reasonable expectation of privacy are protected by Article 21. It also held that the Aadhaar scheme, which is backed by the statute, i.e. the Aadhaar Act also serves legitimate State aim.


4. Joseph Shine V. Union of India

The Supreme Court struck down 158 year old Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes adultery, as unconstitutional. The Court however clarified that adultery will be a ground for divorce. It was also stated that if an act of adultery leads the aggrieved spouse to suicide, the adulterous partner could be prosecuted for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.

"Any provision of law affecting individual dignity and equality of women invites wrath of constitution. It's time to say that husband is not the master of wife. Legal soverignity of one sex over other sex is wrong", The judgment held Section 497 to be "manifestly arbitrary".

The judgment of CJI Misra held that Section 497 violated a woman's right to dignity, resulting in infringement of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The judgment borrows from the findings of Justice Nariman's judgment in Triple Talaq case.

The Court however clarified that adultery will be a ground for divorce. It was also stated that if an act of adultery leads the aggrieved spouse to suicide, the adulterous partner could be prosecuted for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.

The judgment also struck down Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as a consequence of striking down of Section 497 IPC.

Section 497 was an archaic provision which had lost its rationale. "Ancient notion of man being the perpetrator and woman being victim of adultery no longer holds good", observed Justice Nariman. It treats women as chattel, and has chauvinistic undertones.

Justice Chandrachud in his separate but concurring opinion said that Section 497 was destructive to woman's dignity. "Autonomy is intrinsic in dignified human existence.497 denuded the woman from making choices.The law in adultery is a codified rule of patriarchy. Society attributes impossible attributes to a woman, Raising woman to a pedestal is one part of such attribution", he said.

"Respect for sexual autonomy must be emphasized.Marriage does not preserve ceiling of autonomy 497 perpetrates subordinate nature of woman in a marriage", these were his concluding remarks.

Justice Indu Malhotra noted in her judgment that the Section institutionalized discrimination.


5. Common Cause (A Regd. Society) V. Union of India & Anr

Right To Die With Dignity A Fundamental Right, Passive Euthanasia And Living Will Allowed, Guidelines Issued. The Bench also held that passive euthanasia and a living will also legally valid. The Court issued detailed guidelines in this regard.

The Bench also held that the right to live with dignity also includes the smoothening of the process of dying in case of a terminally ill patient or a person in Persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

The Bench also held that passive euthanasia and a living will also legally valid. The Court has issued detailed guidelines in this regard.

"The right to life and liberty as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution is meaningless unless it encompasses within its sphere individual dignity. With the passage of time, this Court has expanded the spectrum of Article 21 to include within it the right to live with dignity as component of right to life and liberty".

The Bench also held that the right to live with dignity also includes the smoothening of the process of dying in case of a terminally ill patient or a person in Persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

When passive euthanasia as a situational palliative measure becomes applicable, the best interest of the patient shall override the State interest", said the CJI


6. Jarnail Singh v LachhmiNarain Gupta& Ors.

No Need To Collect Quantifiable Data Of Backwardness To Give Reservation In Promotions For SC/STs- Nagraj Decision Clarified; A Five Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the 2006 Judgment in Nagraj Case, relating to reservations for SC/ST in promotions, need not be referred for consideration of larger Bench.

However, the judgment by Justice Nariman clarified that there is no requirement to collect quantifiable data of backwardness of SC/STs to provide reservation in promotions.

The dictum in Nagraj was held contrary to Indira Sawhney decision to the extent it prescribed collection of quantifiable data of backwardness as a prerequisite for providing reservation in promotions.


7. Social Action Forum For Manav Adhikar V. Union of India

SC Modifies The Earlier Directions Issued To Prevent Misuse Of 498A IPC, Says No To ‘Welfare Committees’

Supreme Court of India has modified its directions issued in Rajesh Sharma case for preventing misuse of Section 498A of Indian Penal Code.

A three judges’ bench led by CJI has withdrawn the earlier direction issued by a two judges bench that complaints under Section 498A IPC should be scrutinised by Family Welfare Committees before further legal action by police.


8. Shafin Jahan V. Ashokan K. M. & Ors (Hadiya Case)

‘Right To Change Of Faith Is Part Of Fundamental Right Of Choice’: The Supreme Court set aside the Kerala High Court judgment annulling the marriage between Hadiya and Shafin Jahan.

Justice Chandrachud, highlighted the fact that the society should have no role to play in determining our choice of partners and opined that the right to marry a person of one's own choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution of India, observing,

"The strength of the Constitution, therefore, lies in the guarantee which it affords that each individual will have a protected entitlement in determining a choice of partner to share intimacies within or outside marriage...

... The strength of our Constitution lies in its acceptance of the plurality and diversity of our culture. Intimacies of marriage, including the choices which individuals make on whether or not to marry and on whom to marry, lie outside the control of the state. Courts as upholders of constitutional freedoms must safeguard these freedoms."

Justice Chandrachud also rapped the High Court for its observations that Hadiya "is weak and vulnerable, capable of being exploited in many ways", asserting that she is a major and is entitled to "lead her life exactly as she pleases".


9. Swapnil Tripathi V. Supreme Court of India (LIVE STREAMING OF SC PROCEEDINGS)

Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant: Live-Streaming Of Court Proceedings In Larger Public Interest Allowed. Supreme Court of India held that the Court proceedings shall be live-streamed in the larger public interest. The Bench has said that appropriate Rules in that regard will be framed soon under Article 145 of the Constitution of India.


10. Mallikarjun Kodagali (Dead) ... vs The State Of Karnataka (VICTIM APPEAL AGAINST ACQUITTAL)

Victim Can File Appeal Against Acquittal Without Seeking Leave To Appeal: SC, In a landmark judgment, A three Judge Bench held that a victim can file an appeal in the High Court against the acquittal without seeking leave to appeal.


11. Govt. of NCT of Delhi V. Union of India & Anr.

LG cannot interfere in each and every decision of the Delhi Government In a significant judgment, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the Lieutenant-General of the Delhi had to act as per the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers of Delhi Government except in matters of land, police and public order.

It held that the LG cannot interfere in each and every decision of the Delhi Government.

Although decisions of the Government have to be communicated to the LG, there is no need to obtain the concurrence of LG in all matters. The Court also held that Delhi was not a ‘State’, and occupied a special status under the Constitution.

If a well deliberated legitimate decision of the Council of Ministers is not given effect to due to an attitude to differ on the part of the Lieutenant Governor, then the concept of collective responsibility would stand negated"- CJI

Important Lines from Judgement.

  • Constitution has to be interpreted in such a manner to enhance its democratic spirit. The paradigm of representative participation by engagement of citizenry should not be annihilated by interpretation.

  • In a democratic republic, collective is the supreme and the elected representatives reflects the will of the collective.

  • Spirit of constitutional morality negates the concentration of power in the hands of a few.

  • The decisions by Constitutional functionaries must have normative reasonability and acceptability.

  • Principles of Constitutional governances have the twin principles of fiduciary nature of public power and system of checks and balances

  • Parliamentary form of government is based on principle of collective responsibility of the cabinet. If a well deliberated legitimate decision of the Council of Ministers is not given effect to due to an attitude to differ on the part of the Lieutenant Governor, then the concept of collective responsibility would stand negated

  • Our Constitution contemplates a meaningful orchestration of federalism and democracy to put in place an egalitarian social order,

  • The Union and the State Governments must embrace a collaborative federal architecture by displaying harmonious co­existence and interdependence so as to avoid any possible constitutional discord.

  • The Constitution has mandated a federal balance wherein independence of a certain required degree is assured to the State Governments. As opposed to centralism, a balanced federal structure mandates that the Union does not usurp all powers and the States enjoy freedom without any unsolicited interference from the Central Government with respect to matters which exclusively fall within their domain.

The status of NCT of Delhi is sui generis, a class apart, and the status of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an Administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor.


12. Lok Prahari V. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.

Ex-CMs Not Entitled To Govt Bungalows. Quashing an amendment made in a Uttar Pradesh state law to permit former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows, the Supreme Court in a significant ruling held that such a legislation is “arbitrary, discriminatory and unsupported by the Constitution”.

The SC thereby struck down Section 4(3) of UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. The judgment meant that such laws passed by all states remain scrapped and no former Chief Ministers in India is entitled to government accommodation.


The detail analysis of above have been done by Aditya Tiwari sir. It have been taught in class of UPSC law optional at Lukmaan IAS, Delhi. You can ask direct question to him at Quora(link)

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