Year in Review: Top 6 landmark judgments delivered by Supreme Court in 2019

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India delivered several landmark verdicts in 2019. While some were in cases that had been hanging fire for generations, some others helped pave way for better functioning of the system. While a five-judge Bench led by outgoing Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi delivered a verdict in the 69-year-old Ayodhya land title dispute, the Court also observed that the Right to Information (RTI) Act supersedes the Official Secrets Act. 

Business Standard lists six landmark verdicts of the Supreme Court in 2019 that will have a far-reaching impact:

Ayodhya case closure: Disputed land to Hindus, alternative land to Muslims

A statue of Hindu god Ram stands beside the River Sarayu in Ayodhya | Photo: PTI

Almost 27 years after the demolition of Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid, and 69 years after the title suit in connection with the disputed land was first filed, the Supreme Court finally brought closure to, arguably, Independent India’s most controversial and religiously polarising case. In its unanimous judgment, a five-judge Bench led by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi ruled Nirmohi Akhada was not a shebait of Ram Lalla. It also ruled that the 2.77-acre disputed land parcel had been occupied in the 16th century to build the mosque razed in 1992. The disputed land was awarded to the deity Ram Lalla, one of the three litigants in the case. The court directed the central government to allocate 5 acres of alternative land to the Sunni Waqf Board in Ayodhya to build a mosque. Read more...

Section 87 of Arbitration & Conciliation Act struck down

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice R F Nariman, struck down Section 87 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, which was inserted through the 2019 Amendment Act. It provided for an automatic stay on enforcement of the award once the opposite party challenged the award in court. The Bench noted about six years were spent on an average in defending these challenges, and the money, therefore, was stuck for a long time. The case had been filed through a writ petition in the apex court by infrastructure firm Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) and Gammon India. Read more...

No dilution in the provision of the SC/ST Act

The Supreme Court said it would not dilute the provisions of the SC/ST Act, 1989, and made it clear that its Constitution Bench had already held that anticipatory bail could be granted in such matters if courts concerned felt no prima facie case was made out. Justice Arun Mishra said top court had on October 1 recalled the two directions passed in 2018 by its two-judge Bench and restored the earlier position of the law. Read more...

RTI Act supersedes the Official Secrets Act

In an important observation, the Supreme Court said the Centre could not withhold disclosure of documents citing 'national security' as a reason, if concealing the documents could do more harm than disclosing them. The observation dismissed the Centre's primary objection of privilege on the documents. This observation by Justice K M Joseph came during a judgment on the Rafale fighter jet deal case. Read more...

Sabarimala: 2018 verdict not the final word

Sabarimala: Devotees stand in a queue to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple on the 1st day of Malayalam month of 'Vrischikom,' in Sabarimala, Sunday, Nov 17, 2019. (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court in December 2019 said its earlier verdict in a controversial case related to Ayyappa temple in Kerala, delivered in 2018, was not the final word, and referred the matter to a larger Bench. In 2018, the SC had allowed women and girls of all ages to enter the temple. With a 4:1 majority vote, the five-judge SC Bench had ruled that discrimination on physiological grounds violated fundamental rights, such as the right to equality. However, another five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said the matter needed a deeper consideration and referred it to a seven-judge Bench. Read more...

Aadhaar as Money Bill: SC refers judgment to larger Bench

The Supreme Court referred its judgment on passing of Finance Act 2017 as Money Bill to a larger Bench to examine the validity of the move. A five-judge Constitution Bench of the SC doubted the correctness of the Aadhaar judgment, stating that the Aadhaar Act could not have been passed as Money Bill. An SC Bench headed by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi said: "The issue and question of Money Bill, as defined under Article 110(1) of the Constitution, and the certification accorded by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in respect of Part-XIV of the Finance Act, 2017, is referred to a larger Bench." Read more...


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel