Important Supreme Court Judgments

Hindu Marriage Act ; Section 16 – Hindu Succession Act ; Section 6 – Right of children from void/voidable marriages to their parents’ share in Hindu Undivided Family Property (governed by Mitakshara law) –  For the purpose of ascertaining the interest of a deceased Hindu Mitakshara coparcener, the law mandates the assumption of a state of affairs immediately prior to the death of the coparcener namely, a partition of the coparcenary property between the deceased and other members of the coparcenary. Once the share of the deceased in property that would have been allotted to him if a partition had taken place immediately before his death is ascertained, his heirs including the children who have been conferred with legitimacy under Section 16 of the HMA 1955, will be entitled to their share in the property which would have been allotted to the deceased upon the notional partition, if it had taken place; The provisions of the HSA 1956 have to be harmonized with the mandate in Section 16(3) of the HMA 1955 which indicates that a child who is conferred with legitimacy under sub-sections (1) and (2) will not be entitled to rights in or to the property of any person other than the parents. The property of the parent, where the parent had an interest in the property of a Joint Hindu family governed under the Mitakshara law has to be ascertained in terms of the Explanation to sub-section (3), as interpreted aboveRevanasiddappa v. Mallikarjun 2023 INSC 783

 Hindu Marriage Act ; Section 16 – Hindu Succession Act ; Section 6 – The very concept of a coparcener postulates the acquisition of an interest by birth. If a person born from a void or voidable marriage to whom legitimacy is conferred by sub-sections (1) or (2) of Section 16 were to have an interest by birth in a Hindu Undivided Family governed by Mitakshara law, this would certainly affect the rights of others apart from the parents of the child. Holding that the consequence of legitimacy under sub-sections (1) or (2) of Section 16 is to place such an individual on an equal footing as a coparcener in the coparcenary would be contrary to the plain intendment of sub-section (3) of Section 16 of the HMA 1955 which recognises rights to or in the property only of the parents. In fact, the use of language in the negative by Section 16(3) places the position beyond the pale of doubt. We would therefore have to hold that when an individual falls within the protective ambit of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of Section 16, they would be entitled to rights in or to the absolute property of the parents and no other person. Revanasiddappa v. Mallikarjun 2023 INSC 783

Section 162 CrPC – Can Trial Court suo motu put questions to witnesses for the purpose of contradicting them?- “There is in our opinion nothing in Section 162 of the CrPC which prevents a Trial Judge from looking into the papers of the chargesheet suo motu and himself using the statement of a person examined by the police recorded therein for the purpose of contradicting such person when he gives evidence in favour of the State as a prosecution witness. The Judge may do this or he may make over the recorded statement to the lawyer for the accused so that he may use it for this purpose (Para 45-48) Munna Pandey vs State of Bihar – 2023 INSC 793

Can legislature set aside a judgment ? What is Doctrine of Abrogation ? Law on the adoption of the legislative device of abrogation, to remove the basis of a judgment of a Court in a legislation – A legislature cannot directly set aside a judicial decision. However, when a competent legislature retrospectively removes the substratum or foundation of a judgment to make the decision ineffective, the same is a valid legislative exercise provided it does not transgress on any other constitutional limitation- There is no legal impediment to enacting a law to validate a legislation which has been held by a court to be invalid, provided, such a law removes the basis of the judgment of the court, by curing the defects of the legislation as it stood before the amendment.-The validating legislation may be retrospective. It must have the effect that the judgment pointing out the defect would not have been passed, if the altered position as sought to be brought in by the validating statute existed before the court at the time of rendering its judgment.- Retrospective amendment should be reasonable and not arbitrary and must not be violative of any Constitutional limitations.- Setting at naught a decision of a court without removing the defect pointed out in the said decision is opposed to the rule of law and the scheme of separation of powers under the Constitution of India.- Abrogation is not a device to circumvent an unfavourable judicial decision. If enacted solely with the intention to defy a judicial pronouncement, such amendment/legislation may be declared as ultra-vires.- NHPC Ltd vs State of Himachal Pradesh 2023 INSC 810

Section 7A HMA (applicable in Tamil Nadu) – Section 7A required the intending spouses to declare and express to each other their willingness to take each other as spouses and symbolically garlanding each other and tying a “Thali”. In S. Balakrishnan Pandiyan v Inspector of Police, 2014 (7) MadLJ 651, Madras High Court interpreted the procedure of declaration by the intending spouses “in the presence of relatives, friends or other persons”. Now, the Supreme Court held that this view is erroneous as it is premised on the assumption that every marriage requires a public solemnization or declaration. The court observed: Such a view is simplistic because often due to parental or pressure among kinship groups, or caste/community institutions, couples intending to enter into matrimony, may not be able to, for the reasons of such opposition- hold or give such a public declaration. Doing so would imperil their lives or could in the very least likely result in danger to their bodily integrity or at worst, a forceable or coerced separation of one from the other. It is not hard to visualize other pressures being brought to bear upon two individuals, who are otherwise adults and have exercised their freewill. To superimpose the condition of a public declaration, which is absent in section 7A , in the opinion of this Court, it is not only narrowing the otherwise wide import of the statue but also would be violative of the rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of IndiaIlavarasan vs Superintendent of Police 2023 INSC 813.

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