India’s Landmark judgements of 2020

From fining 1 rupee to asserting freedom on internet, 2020 witnessed a series of landmark judgements from the supreme court of India.

2020 has been a remarkable year for India on many fronts. On the legal front, India witnessed many landmark judgements through out 2020 delivered by the both by the Supreme Court of India and High Courts of various states. Here is the list:

Keisham Meghachandra Singh vs The Hon’ble
Speaker Manipur Legislative Assembly:

In this land mark judgement delivered by the bench of Justices RF Nariman, Aniruddha Bose and V Ramasubramanian , the court clarified the role of Assembly speaker in the decisions of suspending elected MLAs. The bench made a note that Indian Parliament should contemplate on whether disqualification petitions ought to be entrusted to a Speaker as a quasi-judicial authority. The question arises as the speaker in the current Indian electoral process continues to belong to a particular political party either dejure or defaxto even after being elected as the speaker of the assembly. The supreme court observed that a retired supreme court judge headed permanent tribunal with an inclusion of a retired chief justice of a High Court or some independent mechanism should ensure that such disputes are decided both timely and impartially. More details on the judgement here.

Ministry Of Defense vs Babita Puniya/ Union of India vs Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja

In a 17-March judgment, India’s Supreme Court allowed permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Navy. At the time the apex court asked the central government to grant the permanent commission within three months. However, during the month of October, the court extended the deadline for implementation of its judgment to 31 December.  Court the scrapped the existing statutory bar on giving permanent commission to women and said that government can not discriminate against women.

Judgement against the internet shutdown in J&K

While the abrogation Of Article 370, the government took away the
special status Of J&K and so the right of the people to use internet and right of free movement.  Subsequently these restrictions are challenged before the apex court. A
bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and BR Gavai held that “the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article and the right to carry on any trade or business under 19(1)(g), using the medium of internet is constitutionally protected”. The Court also ruled that the order, which imposed complete restriction on the internet, should published for the public and was also subject to judicial review. Incidentally, this was the first Landmark judgements of 2020 given on January 10, 2020.

In Re: Prasanth Bhushan

On Feb 1st, 2019 The Attorney General of India and the Government of India initiated contempt proceedings against advocate Bhushan for his tweets in relation to the hearings before the Supreme Court of India in the case involving appointment of CBI chief.

In August 2020, the Court noticed  Bhushan was guilty of contempt of court, in relation to two posts made by him on Twitter. Bhushan’s first tweet was a criticism of the role played by the previous four Chief Justices of India, and the second criticized the Chief Justice of India in relation to a photograph of him posing on a motorcycle without a mask while the Court was in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic in India. This judgment came to the most popular landmark judgements of 2020.

Later, when Bhushan refused to apologise despite being given the opportunity, a three judge bench Of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari imposed a symbolic
fine of Re 1 for contempt of court.

Shared Household: Satish Chander Ahuja vs Sneha Ahuja:

In a response to a plea by Delhi resident against an order of the Delhi High Court setting aside a trial court decision allowing his plea to evict his daughter in law from the first floor of his property, a three-judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah overruled a 2006 judgement of the court and said

In event, the shared household belongs to any relative of the husband with whom in a domestic relationship the woman has lived, the conditions mentioned in Section 2(s) (of The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005) are satisfied and the said house will become a shared household

While asserting that a woman is entitled to claim right to residence in a “shared household” where she has been living with her husband even if the said premises belongs to his relatives the court mentioned

The progress of any society depends on its ability to protect and promote the rights of its women

Property Rights: Vineeta Sharma vs Rakesh Sharma:

In a landmark judgement Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah,  resolved the ambiguity in the interpretation Of Section 6 on account Of conflicting judgments passed by the Supreme Court in kash Ors Vs phulavati & Ors (phulavati Case) and Dana@Suman Surpur & Anr Amar Ors (2018).  Adding clarity to  the Section G of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which deals with devolution of interest in coparcenary property, the bench held that daughters would hold equal coparcenary rights in Hindu Undivided Family properties even if they were born before the 2005 amendment to the Act and regardless of whether their father coparcener had died before the amendment.

While these constitute the landmark judgements from the supreme court of India in 2020. there are other important judgements given by the Apex court of India including a judgment directing all politicians to upload on their websites about the pending criminal cases up to the elections date and a judgement in Arnab Goswami case.

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