Important Judgements For Judicial Services Examination

Judgments For Judicial Services Examination: Knowledge about landmark as well as recent judgments is very important for a judicial aspirant. Questions are asked from these not only in preliminary but also in mains examination and sometimes in an interview as well. In addition to this, it will surely fetch you some extra marks and keep you inches ahead of your other competitors if mentioned when you get a chance to express it on a piece of paper or vocally in front of the panel. The important points for the preliminary exam are the legal provision involved, the issue raised, and the judgment pronounced. For mains examination, the ‘Ratio Decendi’ has to be analyzed carefully along with the legal provisions.

1. Judgments For Judicial Services ExaminationM Siddiq vs Mahant Suresh Das & Ors (Ayodhya verdict) 

[Civil Appeal Nos 10866-10867 of 2010]

The centuries-old Ayodhya Land title dispute has in the past and to this date continues to pervade societal discussions and debates along with being a source of immense polarization, owing to its massive religious as well as political connotations. The dispute primarily pertains to a religious tussle between the Hindu and Muslim communities as regards claim to the 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya upon which the Babri Masjid mosque stood till 1992, but is regarded by the Hindu community as traditionally being the birthplace of Lord Rama and having showcased a Hindu temple that was subject to demolition in order to create the mosque. Over time, this religious clash had attained a complex political dimension that has been created and leveraged by politically motivated actors to peddle religious polarization and exploit vote bank politics. Decades of religious tension culminated in the destruction of the Babri Masjid Mosque in 1992, triggering riots throughout the country. 

Post this, a land title case was brought before the Allahabad High Court. Vide its 2-1 split judgment pronounced in 2010, the three-judge bench held that since there was no clear evidence to prove title forthcoming by any claimant, the 2.77 acres land was to be subjected to a three-way division between Ram Lalla represented by Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board, and the Nirmohi Akhara. Although the bench was not certain on the point of temple demolition for the creation of the mosque, it did observe that a temple-like structure had predated the mosque. The court also ordered an investigation to be carried on the site by the Archaeological Survey of India in order to ascertain the veracity of this claim, which had submitted its report in 2003, wherein it was posited that remains of a “Hindu Structure” were present at the disputed site. Since neither party was content with the High Court judgment, they approached the Supreme Court, which, vide its M Siddiq vs Mahant Suresh Das & Ors, the hearing of which ran for 40 days (constituting one of the longest heard judgments) finally put the matter to rest. 

A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court primarily dealt with the following issues –

i) Whether Ram Janmabhoomi constituted a juristic entity?

ii) Whether a temple predated the mosque and if so, whether such existence would entitle granting title in favor of Hindu Parties?

The court unanimously held that the 2.77 acres disputed site be handed over to Ram Lalla Virajman, which was attributed to the status of a juristic person, for the construction of a Ram Temple and the Sunni Waqf Board be allotted a separate 5-acre plot for the purposes of mosque construction. For the purposes of temple construction, a trust was ordered to be created at the earliest. The decision primarily relied on aspects like evidence of continuous Hindu worship at Ramchabutra, Sita Rasoi forming part of the outer courtyard, which evidently established their unhindered possession of the area. The court also noted that the offering of Namaz in the inner section was not continuous prior to 1857. As opposed to this, evidence of continuous Hindu worship existed. This, the court felt, entitled possession to be granted to Ram Lalla instead of the Sunni Waqf Board. Furthermore, the Apex Court posited the illegal mosque demolition that was carried out in 1992 as necessitating a remedy and thus being the reason for allotting 5 acres of land to Muslims for mosque construction.

Thus, the Supreme Court overruled the Allahabad High Court judgment and its trilateral distribution of the disputed site amongst Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhara, and the Sunni Waqf Board, citing its legal unsustainability. The court observed that the issue before the Allahabad High Court was with regards to the decision on the question of title, the court did not go into that question and instead granted a relief that was not sought by any of the disputing parties before it. 

2. Indian Young Lawyers’ Association v State of Kerala (Sabarimala verdict)

[Writ Petition (Civil) No. 373 Of 2006]

The Sabarimala temple entry case has been a burning issue for the last few decades, has been the subject of tremendous debate and acrimony between religious groups and worshippers of Lord Ayyappa on the one hand and feminist organizations and fundamental rights groups on the other. While the former regard attempts to change the status quo as attempts unduly interfering with the religious beliefs and customs of devotees, the latter group seeks demand court interference as an essential measure to preserve the rights of women and women equality. 

Briefly, the Sabarimala temple, located in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, is a Hindu temple of the deity Lord Ayyappa and his followers Ayyappan. Ayyappa devotees believe that Lord Ayyappa was a celibate (someone who abstains from marriage and sexual relations) and his powers are derived owing to his asceticism and Naishtika Brahmacharya. As a consequence, there has been a long-running practice of prohibiting ‘menstruating women’ (10-50 years) from entry into the temple, as they believe this is essential to preserve the celibacy of Lord Ayyappa. In contrast, women and feminist organizations regard this practice as constituting an instance of regressive interpretation of religious customs and discriminating against women and their fundamental right of worship solely on the basis of their physiological state. The decades-old litigation history traces its beginning in 1990 when the practice prohibiting women entry into the holy Lord Ayyappa shrine was challenged in the Kerala High Court, but the court at that point had upheld the restriction. In 2006, the Indian Lawyers Association approached the Supreme Court seeking to challenge the validity of Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship rules, 1965 which precluded menstruating women from entry into the temple. 

A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court primarily framed the following issues for deliberation:

i) Whether exclusion based solely on a biological condition was violative of Articles 14, 15, and 17 of The Constitution of India? 

ii) Whether the exclusionary practice was an essential religious practice within the precincts of Article 25 of The Constitution of India?

iii) Whether Ayyappa temple constituted a religious denomination vide Article 26 and if affirmative, whether it could engage in discriminatory practices which infringed principles of constitutional morality?

Vide a 4:1 majority, the apex court ruled the exclusionary practice to be unconstitutional and violative of the female worshippers’ fundamental right to freedom of religion under Article 25(1) of The Constitution of India. Consequently, the abovementioned Rule 3(b) was struck down. This verdict was pronounced on the basis of aspects like the inherent link between the freedom to practice and profess religion and the dignity of an individual and how exclusionary practices based on gender and having patriarchal leanings could not be permitted to violate an individual’s right to religion. Further, the implementation of rights guaranteed to women under the Constitution could not be said to hinge on physiological attributes like menstruation. Court also posited that the practice of excluding women aged 10-50 could not be regarded as constituting an essential religious practice. 

On the question of whether Ayyappa devotees constituted a separate religious denomination, the court answered in the negative. They were seen as mere worshippers of Ayyappa and thus the denominational freedom of Sabarimala temple under Article 26 of The Constitution of India would be subject to the social reform mandate of Kerala under Article 25(2)(b) of The Constitution of India. Interestingly, Justice DY Chandrachud also equated exclusion of women based on menstruation to an extension of ‘Untouchability’, which was prohibited vide Article 17 of The Constitution of India. 

In contradistinction, in her dissenting opinion, Justice Indu Malhotra noted how Article 14 of The Constitution of India and its guarantee of the right to equality could not be considered as having the power to override Article 25 of The Constitution of India, which provided for a guarantee to an individual of the right to practice and profess their faith.

This judgment has been referred to a seven-judge bench vide Kantaru Rajeevaru vs. Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors.

3. Judgments For Judicial Services ExaminationI.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab

[1967 AIR 1643]

This case constitutes a landmark and one of the most important cases in the constitutional history of the country and holds immense significance towards the development of the Basic Structure Doctrine. Amongst the many legal issues that were brought up throughout the judgment, the primary issue was as regards whether Parliament had the power to carry out amendments to Fundamental Rights contained in Part III of the Constitution.

The specific challenges were directed against the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953, and the Mysore Land Reforms Act, 1962 as well as their subsequent insertion into the Ninth Schedule by the 17th Amendment in 1964. An 11 judge bench was specifically asked to reconsider the earlier decisions in Shankari Prasad Singh Deo (1951) and Sajjan Singh (1965) wherein the respective majorities on the bench had decided to exclude constitutional amendments from the ambit of judicial review. 

Importantly, the 11-judge bench framed the following fundamental issues for discussion:

i) Whether the Parliament’s power to amend Part III and Fundamental Rights was absolute.

ii) Whether Article 13(2) of The Constitution of India and its usage of the word ‘law’ also included amendments?

While the petitioners advanced that Part III rights were sacrosanct in nature and thus Parliament did not possess the vested power to carry out an amendment to Fundamental Rights, the respondents contended that the drafters of the Constitution were not intending for the Constitution to be a rigid and non-flexible document and thus, Parliament had to power of amendment.

By a narrow majority of 6-5, the SC bench ruled that the amending power under Article 368 could not be exercised in a manner that abridged the fundamental rights enumerated under Part III. So in sum and substance, they arrived at a conclusion that was the opposite of what was found in the earlier decisions and ended up invalidating the persisting judicial stance that allowed Part III to be subject to amendment powers of the Parliament. Through this verdict, the Apex Court wanted to preserve the Fundamental Rights from getting diluted owing to the constant amendments that had been and were being carried out to reduce Part III’s purport during that phase. The doctrine of ‘Prospective Ruling’ was relied on in order to overrule the previous judgments.

The direct reaction to this judgment came in the form of the 24th Amendment in 1971 which inserted Article 368(3) that prevented the application of Article 13 (textual basis of judicial review) to constitutional amendments. This ruling was subsequently overturned in the case of Kesavananda Bharti vs the State of Kerala.

4. Judgments For Judicial Services ExaminationMinerva Mills v. Union of India

[AIR 1980 SC 1789]

Minerva Mills was a Karnataka-based textile industry engaged in the production of silk textiles. The case dealt with the Central Government’s decision to take over a private textile company in Bangalore. Initially, an inquiry had been ordered under the Industrial Development (Regulation) Act, 1951 to investigate the causes behind the fall in production by this company. Following this report, the National Textile Company was handed over the management of Minerva Mills, through powers exercised under the Sick Textiles Undertaking (Nationalisation) Act, 1974. The latter act dealing with the nationalization of textile businesses had been placed in the 9th Schedule by way of the 39th Amendment in 1975. The owners of Minerva Mills challenged this acquisition and the government defended the same as coming within the protective ambit of Articles 31B and 31C, the latter having been inserted by the 42nd Amendment in 1976. Hence, the court had the opportunity to consider whether the newer grounds for justifying the acquisition of property could be scrutinized by it through the “basic structure” doctrine. A 4-1 majority in the bench found in favor of the petitioners and read down the grounds for justifying the acquisition of property under Article 31C which had been expanded to include all Directive Principles of State Policy. The majority invalidated Section 55 and Section 4 of the 42nd amendment since they considered these to be violative of the basic structure of the constitution. The court also emphasized the relationship between Part III and Part IV of the constitution, and how while making and implementing laws, one Part could not be made subservient to the other. Instead, there was a need to strike a harmonious balance between the two Parts.

However, it did not accept the challenges against the validity of Article 31B which had been frequently used as a shield for protecting laws dealing with land acquisition and nationalization of businesses among other subjects.

5. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) v. Union of India

[(2018) 8 SCC 501]

This case dealt with the division of powers between the Lt. Governor of Delhi, who is an appointee of the Central Government, and the Cabinet of Ministers in the National Capital Territory. In terms of constitutional interpretation, the arguments were centered on Article 239AA of The Constitution of India (especially the Proviso to Clause 4 in this provision) which had been inserted by the 69th Amendment, 1992. As per the explicit language of this provision, while the Lt. Governor is ordinarily required to act on the aid and advice of the Cabinet of Ministers in the GNCTD, it was permissible to act independently in matters related to the ‘police, land and services’. Other special provisions enacted through the 69th amendment were also contentious in nature insofar as leading to confusion in matters relating to the Delhi Government’s jurisdiction vis-a-vis the Central Government. Critics have argued that this provision has severely curtailed the powers of the elected representatives since they are obliged to follow the directions of the Lt. Governor in these vital areas. In particular, the control over ‘Services’ allows the Central Government to virtually dictate terms to the GNCTD in many matters related to administration. The inherent tensions created by this arrangement have been repeatedly highlighted since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came into power in 2015. 

This particular case was initiated by the GNCTD in the Delhi High Court since the Lt. Governor had not acted on the aid and advice of the Cabinet in respect of 9 separate administrative orders, most of which related to anti-corruption measures and a few were related to Electricity Distribution. The Delhi High Court ruled that the special provision envisioned under Article 239AA of The Constitution of India did not serve to overrule Article 239 of The Constitution of India and consequently, the Lieutenant Governor had the authority to act independently of the advice of his Council of Ministers. Thus, while the Delhi High Court upheld the primacy of the Lt. Governor’s discretion in these matters, the issue was decided differently by a constitution bench in the Supreme Court. A constitutional bench if the Supreme Court bench emphasized the unique nature of the GNCTD when compared to other States and Union Territories, but highlighted the primacy of the elected government in matters other than ‘Police, Land and Services’ which were specifically enumerated in Article 239AA of The Constitution of India. Thus, the Apex Court propounded in clear words the natural functioning of the Lieutenant Governor, wherein he was constitutionally required to act on the aid and advice of his Council of Ministers. This judgment holds particular importance when viewed from the lens of upholding the Federal Structure of the Constitution and imperativeness to ensure that people’s will of being governed by the government elected by them is respected.

We hope this list of Important Judgements For Judicial Services Examination is helpful to you in all means.

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