TOP 40 LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA THAT EVERY LAW STUDENT MUST KNOW
- Champakam Dorairajan State of Madras,1951
In this case caste based reservations were stuck down by the court, as against Article 16(2) of the Constitution. This case resulted in First Amendment of the Constitution of India.
- M. Nanavativ. State of Maharashtra, 1960
K.M. Nanavati, a naval Officer, who murdered his wife’s lover, Prem Ahuja. Bombay High Court guilty of murder of Prem Ahuja. The apex court overturned the High Court’s decision and held Nanavati not guilty of murder.
- Golaknath State of Punjab1967
The Apex court held that law made by the Parliament shall not be such that infringes and takes away the fundamental rights of the citizen which are provided by the Constitution of India.
- Madhav Jiwaji Rao Scindia Union of India, 1970
The infamous case, Madhav Jiwaji Rao Scindia v. Union of India deals with Article 18 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court in this case held the 1970 Presidential order as invalid, abolishing titles, privileges and privy purses of India’s erstwhile princely rulers.
- Kesavananda BharatiState of Kerala, 1973
The Supreme Court gave Parliament power to amend any part of Constitution of India, provided such amendment do not take away the fundamental rights of the citizen which are provided by the Constitution of India. This case is also referred as Fundamental rights case.
- Indira Gandhi Raj Narain, 1975
The Supreme Court held clause 4 of 39th amendment as unconstitutional and void as it was out rightly denied of the right to equality enshrined in Article 14. The Supreme Court also added the following features as “basic features” laid down in Keshavananda Bharti case –
- judicial review,
- rule of law and
- jurisdiction of Supreme Court under Article 32.
- D.M. Jabalpur v. S. Shukla, 1976
The apex Court in the infamous case of A.D.M. Jabalpur v. S. Shukla held, during prevailing of emergency in the country, right to move to the court for enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 21 and 22 stands suspended.
- Maneka Gandhi Union of India, 1978
The case is considered a landmark case as it gave a new and highly varied interpretation to the meaning of ‘life and personal liberty’ under Article 21 of the Constitution. Also, it expanded the horizons of freedom of speech and expression. The case saw a high degree of judicial activism.
- Minerva Mills Union of India,1980
The Supreme Court of India, strengthened the doctrine of the basic structure which was propounded earlier in the Keshavananda Bharti Case and held social welfare laws should not infringe fundamental rights. Few changes made by the 42nd Amendment Act were declared as null and void.
- S P Gupta v. Union of India, 1981
The S P Gupta case is also called the First Judges Case. It declared that the primacy of the CJI’s recommendation to the President can be refused for cogent reasons. It was overruled by Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association v. Union of India.
- Rajan Case, 1981
The case led to resignation of K. Karunakaran, then the home minister, and imprisonment of the officers who were involved in the torture and death of a final year engineering student in custody.
- Kehar Singh Delhi Administration, 1984
Kehar singh, who murdered the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, was sentenced death. But, the sentence of death to Kehar Singh has been questioned many times before the Courts.
- Mohd Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano begum, 1985
Muslim personal law was challenged in this petition. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Shah Bano and granted her alimony which the Muslim community felt as an encroachment on Muslim Sharia law. The decision of the case led to the formation of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board in 1973.
- MC Mehta v. Union of India, 1986
MC Mehta filed a Public Interest Litigation for escape of poisonous gases by a plant in Bhopal. The court in this case extended the scope of Article 21 and 32 of the Constitution of India. The case is also famous as Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
- Ramesh Dalal Union of India, 1988
The case basically dealt with the subject of pre-Partition communal violence along with how its depiction does not violate any of Constitutional articles.
- Indra Swahey v. Union of India, 1992
The Court upheld the implementation of recommendations made by the Mandal Commission. It defined the “creamy layer” criteria. It also reiterated that the quota could not exceed 50 per cent.
- Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association v. Union of India, 1993
It overruled S P Gupta v. Union of India. Court held primacy of Chief justice cannot be taken away in appointment and transfer of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts. It recommended constitution of collegiums of judges for the same. The case is named as Second judges transfer case.
- SR Bommai v. Union of India, 1993
The court in this case curtailed power of President under Article 356 of the constitution of India. It also held that secularism is the basic structure of the Constitution.
- Babri Masjid, Ayodhya Case, 1994
The case questioned the Constitutional validity of the acquisition of an area beside/adjoining the disputed site and the Supreme Court upheld status quo on the disputed structures.
- Rajagopalv. State of Tamil Nadu, 1994
The court in this case decided that the right to privacy subsisted even if a matter becomes one of public record and hence right to be let alone is part of personal liberty.
- Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, 1985
This case came before the Supreme Court as a writ petition. 5 judge-bench gave decision allowing petitioners who live on pavements and in slums in the city of Bombay to stay on the pavements against their order of eviction. The court also held that right to livelihood is a right to life as per Article 21.
- Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi,1992
The identity of St. Stephen’s College as a minority-run institution was put in question as it received grant-in-aid from the Government. The court ruled that grants could not change the minority character of any institution.
- Sarla MudgalUnion of India, 1995
The Court held that if a Hindu converts to Muslim and then have a second marriage, he can not do so, irrespective of the fact that polygamy is allowed in Islamic Law.
- Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Union of India, 1995
An association was banned by the High Court due to its unlawful activities. But, when this was brought o the Supreme Court of India, the court held that due to lack of evidence, the same cannot be banned.
- Samatha State of Andhra Pradesh, 1997
The Supreme Court held that lease of land, tribal land, and forest land in scheduled areas operations is not allowed to private companies or non-tribal for mining or industrial and such activity can only be done by a government undertaking or by tribal people.
- Vishaka State of Rajasthan, 1997
This case came before the Supreme Court as a Public Interest Litigation against State of Rajasthan and Union of India by Vishakha and other women groups. The petitioners demanded enforcement fundamental rights for working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. For this, Vishaka Guidelines were issued. The judgment also provided basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace along with provided guidelines to deal with the same.
- Best bakery case 2003
The Best Bakery was burned down. This resulted in death of 14 people on March 1, 2002 as part of the 2002 Gujarat violence. The Supreme court held this as a rarest of rare case and ordered a re-trial outside of Gujarat. A Special Court in Mumbai was formed in 2006 which gave conviction to nine out of the seventeen accused.
- State of Tamil Nadu v. S. Katti, 2004
In this case, first case where conviction under was the Information Technology Act, 2000held. Here a family friend of a divorced woman was accused of posting her number online on messenger groups which led to her being harassed by multiple lewd messages. That accused friend was later convicted and sentenced.
- Rameshwar Prasad v. Union of India, 2005
In this case, the petitioner challenged the constitutional validity of a notification. The notification ordered dissolution of the legislative Assembly of the state of Bihar on the ground that attempts were being made to get majority by illegal means. It also laid claim to form the government in the state if continued would lead to tampering with constitutional provisions. The Supreme Court held that notification was unconstitutional.
- PA Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, 2004
The case was decided by a 2-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in which the dispute related to the fixation of quota in unaided professional institutions and to the holding of examinations for admission into such colleges was challenged.
- Om Prakash Dil Bahar, 2006
The Supreme Court held that even if the medical reports do not prove that it was rape, a rape accused could be convicted on the sole evidence of the victim.
- Priyadarshini Mattoo case 2006
In this matter the Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence awarded to prime accused Santosh Singh who was a son of former IPS officer, to life imprisonment for the murder and rape of the 23-year-old law student, Priyadarshini Mattoo.
- Jessica Murder case 2006
A model in New Delhi working as a bartender was shot dead. The prime accused Manu Sharma who son of Congress MP Vinod Sharma was initially acquitted in February 2006. But later, in December 2006 was sentenced to life imprisonment by a fast track hearing by the Delhi High Court. This Supreme Court of India approved the sentence.
- Aarushi talwar case, 2008
The involved the double murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and her 45-year-old domestic servant in Noida, Haryana. The case got a heavy media coverage. Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, parents of the murdered girl were convicted and sentenced them to life imprisonment by Sessions court.
- Nithari Serial Murder Case, 2009
Surinder Koli and Moninder Singh Pandher were awarded death sentence by a Special Sessions Court for the murder of a 14-year-old girl in 2009. They believed to have committed the same in 2006.
- Naz foundation v. NCT, 2009
The court decriminalized sexual activities “against the order of nature” which included homosexual acts, as per Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. But this judgement was overruled in 2013 by the Supreme Court of India.
- Ajmal Kasab State of Maharashtra, 2012
The Supreme Court held that the acts on November 26, 2008, had shaken the collective conscience of Indian citizens. It confirmed death sentence awarded to prime accused of the November 26, 2008, incident and for waging war against India, Ajmal Kasab by the trial court and affirmed by the Bombay High Court.
- Lily Thomas v. Union of India, 2013
The Supreme Court of India held that if any members of a legislative council (MLC), member of the legislative assembly (MLA) or members of Parliament (MP) who was convicted of a crime and awarded a minimum of two-year imprisonment, he/she shall lose membership of the House with immediate effect.
- NALSA v. Union of India, 2014
The Court recognized rights of the transgender as third genders. Also, ordered government to treat them as minorities. Reservations in jobs, education and other amenities shall also be provided to them.
- Shreya singhal v. Union of India, 2015
The apex Court held section 66A of the Information Technology Act which allowed arrests for objectionable content posted on the internet as unconstitutional and hence, struck down by the impugned section.