There were some important cases, amendments, judgements, and verdicts by the Indian Supreme Court in the year 2022. This law post tells you about the five most important cases of 2022 that all law students, advocates, judges, and the general public in India must know about.

Budhadev Karmaskar vs State of West Bengal (2022)

In Budhadev Karmaskar vs the State of West Bengal, the Supreme Court recognised sex work as a “profession.” The court held that consenting sex work practitioners are entitled to dignity and equal protection under the law.

Bare Act PDFs

According to the Supreme Court, a consenting sex worker deserves dignity and equal protection as a “profession.” Supreme Court passed an order for protecting the rights of sex workers and also recognised prostitution as a legal profession.

By using its inherent power given under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court asked the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to issue Aadhar Cards to sex workers based on a proforma certificate. Furthermore, the court issued certain fundamental directions for the sex workers’ rehabilitation measures. They are:

  1. The concerned sex worker will not be arrested, penalized, or harassed if she was caught during any raid in the brothel.
  2. In handling sex workers, the police should demonstrate dignity, treat them with respect, and refrain from verbally abusing, physically abusing, or coercing them into sexual activity.
  3. To prevent sex workers’ identities from being published or broadcast, the Press Council of India should issue appropriate guidelines. If the media still publishes, it will be considered an offence punishable under section 354C of the Indian Penal Code.
  4. Any sex worker who is a victim of sexual assault should be provided with all facilities available to a survivor of sexual assault under section 357C of the CrPC.
  5. Like others, sex workers are entitled to equal protection under the law. The police must refrain from interfering or taking any criminal action when it’s clear that the sex worker is an adult and is participating with consent.
  6. No child of a sex worker should be separated from the mother, majorly on the ground that she is a prostitute.
  7. Workshops shall be held by both state and central governments through national legal service authority, state legal service authority, and district legal service authority to inform sex workers of their rights.

2. EWS Recent Case Update

Janhit Abhiyan vs Union of India (AIR 2022)

In Janhit Abhiyan vs Union of India, the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, which provided 10% reservation to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) of the General category, was challenged in the Indian Supreme Court on the grounds that it violates the basic structure of the Constitution as well as the fundamental right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution.

It was also argued before the court that reservations cannot be based solely on economic criteria.

Bare Act PDFs

Further, it was argued that this 10% reservation exceeded the cap, which was already decided by the Supreme Court’s judgment in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India (1992).

The Supreme Court of India, with a 3:2 majority, upheld that the 103rd Constitutional Amendment or the EWS Reservations are constitutionally valid. The majority were of the view that the reservation is only an enabling provision in the Constitution which enables the states to make laws for the betterment of the weaker sections of society. The court held that if, on the basis of socio-economic justice, parliament makes any law, it cannot be treated as violative of basic structure. The court further said that this EWS reservation would not have any impact on the already existing reservations of socially and educationally backward classes; thus, it cannot be treated as violative of basic structure.

On the question that economic criteria cannot be the sole criterion for reservation, the Supreme Court said that economic, social, and political justice are the aims of the Indian Constitution.

Moreover, the court points out that the Constitution sanctioned every affirmative action by the government that advances the goal of building an egalitarian society and strengthening the socio-economic order, which is one of our founding principles.

Court further said that we have to look in a broader sense to include every class of society, including those who are struggling with economic restraints.

The court held that Article 15(4) and Article 16(4) do not restrict the state from making special privileges for the economically weaker sections of society.
Further, on the ground of the 50% cap, the court ruled that in extraordinary situations, the upper limit of 50% reservation can be breached. Furthermore, the court held that 103rd Amendment is only an enabling provision; thus, it does not go against the Indra Sawhney judgment.

Read More: Supreme Court Judgement Related to Ews Reservations

3. Question on the Validity of Sedition Law

S.G. Vombatkere vs Union of India (AIR 2022)

The uproar against sedition law is not new. It has a history from the colonial era. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code was added by the Special Act XVII in 1890. The law aimed to curb political dissent during India’s freedom movement.

Section 124A of the IPC states that:

“Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

The petitioner argued that the concept of sedition law is not acceptable in a vibrant democracy like India. The sedition law has a colonial legacy which cannot exist today. It was also argued that dissent and criticism of the government are essential in a democracy. The petitioner contended that even today, this law is being used as an easy tool in the hand of the ruling government to persecute its opponents. The term ‘disaffection’ used in section 124A has vague and unlimited interpretations. Petitioner further contended that arbitrary misuse of sedition law goes against India’s International commitments of ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) ratified by India in 1979. It was argued that the government was not following the ruling given by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Kedar Nath Singh vs the State of Bihar AIR 1962.

The court informed the government about a matter, and in response, the government stated that it will review and reconsider section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court issued an interim order for the sake of justice:

  1. The state and central governments are advised not to file any First Information Report (FIR) under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.
  2. While section 124A of the Indian Penal Code is being reviewed, any investigating agency should avoid carrying out any investigation or taking any forceful actions using this provision of law.
  3. If a new case is filed under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, the affected parties have the freedom to seek suitable legal recourse from the relevant courts.
  4. All ongoing trials, appeals, and legal proceedings related to charges filed under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code should be put on hold for the time being.
  5. These directions will be in force until further orders from the Supreme Court.

4. Hijab Ban Case

Aishat Sifha vs State of Karnataka (AIR 2022)

The government of Karnataka, under the Karnataka Education Act, of 1983, passed an order restricting students from coming to colleges wearing Hijab. Following the order passed by the state government, a government university banned the entry of six students who were attending classes wearing a Hijab.

The matter came before the three judges bench of the Karnataka High Court. The court upheld the state government order and said that wearing of Hijab is not an essential religious practice of the Islam faith, and thus the said order is not violating freedom of religion.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board challenged the decision of the High Court in the Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on 13.10.2022 through its division bench, having Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia. Justice Dhulia ruled in favour of those challenging the ban, while Justice Gupta affirmed the Karnataka HC Judgment. The matter is pending before the Chief Justice of India to refer it to a larger bench.

Justice Hemant Gupta’s Opinion

In light of secularism’s application to everyone, allowing one religious community to wear their religious symbols would be contrary to it.
Article 21A is not applicable to students above 14 years of age, and Article 21 guarantees the right to education, but students cannot wear something extra as part of their religion in a secular school. Justice Gupta further contended that the uniform plays a crucial role. It promotes a sense of equality and brotherhood, improves discipline and expands the sense of belongingness.

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia’s Opinion

He favoured Muslim women’s rights. He was of the view that wearing religious clothing like a Hijab is a fundamental right of her privacy and dignity. Asking the girls to remove their Hijab before entering the school is an invasion of their privacy, an attack on their dignity, and ultimately it is a denial of them of secular education.

Despite being a religious practice, the headscarf still represents conscious belief and expression, which cannot be denied. Moreover, he noted in his judgement that “the best sight in India today is a girl child walking to school with her schoolbag on. She is our hope, our future.”

5. Question Relating to Section 319 of CrPC

Sukpal Singh Kaira vs State of Punjab (AIR 2022)

An FIR was made against 11 persons under the NPDS Act and Arms Act. The first chargesheet was filed, and only ten people were summoned. Further, a second chargesheet was also filed, but the same did not name the appellant herein as an accused.

The trial begins under Session Judge. The prosecution applied to invoke section 319 of CrPC for summoning an additional five accused, including the appellant. The court allowed the application and summoned the additional appellant to face trial. The summoned appellant challenged the order of the High Court. The matter came before the Supreme Court. The court formed three fundamentals questions which are:

  1. If the trial of other co-accused ends and the judgment of conviction is rendered on the same date as the summoning order, does the trial court have the discretion to summon additional accused under section 319 of the CrPC?
  2. If the trial of other absconding accused (whose presence is later secured) has been bifurcated from the main trial, does the trial court have the power to summon additional accused under section 319 of the CrPC?
  3. What terms and conditions must the trial court follow while exercising power under section 319 of the CrPC?

Answering the first question, the Supreme Court held that:

  1. In cases of conviction, the power under section 319 can be exercised only before the order of sentence is passed.
  2. In cases of acquittal, the power under section 319 can be exercised only before the order of acquittal is passed.

Answering the second question, the court ruled that upon securing the presence of the absconding accused, the trial court has been given the authority to summon additional accused, subject to the evidence recorded in the split-up (bifurcated) trial pointing to the involvement of those accused who seeks to be summoned.

Answering the third question, the Supreme Court of India gave the following guidelines for the trial courts, which are to be followed while exercising power under section 319 of the CrPC:

  1. The trial court has the power to pause the trial at the stage when any evidence discloses or any application is filed under section 319 regarding the environment of another accused.
  2. The trial court then first decides whether to summon the additional accused or not.
  3. If the trial court, by using its power under section 319, issues summon to the additional accused, such summon order must be passed before proceeding further with the trial in the main case.
  4. The trial court will decide whether the additional accused is to be tried jointly or separately.
  5. If the trial court decides on the joint trial, a fresh trial will start after securing the presence of additional accused.
  6. If the trial court decides to conduct a separate trial for the accused, then it will not obstruct the progress or conclusion of the ongoing trial against the other accused.
  7. In the case of bifurcated cases, if section 319 is not exercised in the main trial, then it can be invoked only when there is any evidence showing the environment of the additional accused.
  8. In the cases where the judgment is reserved, and then if the court wants to exercise section 319, the court has to set it down for re-hearing.
  9. On such a re-hearing, all the above procedures about the summon and trial shall be decided accordingly.

Read Next: Important Law Amendments of 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018

Ritesh Kumar
WritingLaw » Case Laws » Five Most Important Indian Cases of 2022 With Their Supreme Court Verdicts Law Study Material
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