Leading / Important Cases
Landmark judicial decisions changed the Constitution as well as everyday life. Their impact still echoes.
Champakam Dorairajan Vs State of Madras 1951
Well before Arjun Singh, this case concerning admissions of backward classes to educational institutions led B.R. Ambedkar, then the law minister, to pilot the first-ever amendment to the Constitution.
K.M. Nanavati Vs State of Maharashtra 1960
The crime of passion, where Commander Kawas Maneckshaw Nanavati murdered his wife’s lover, marked the end of jury trials in India when the officer was let off.
Golaknath Vs State of Punjab 1967
The Supreme Court made fundamental rights immune from amendment until Parliament reasserted its authority in 1971 by amending Articles 13 and 368 of the Constitution.
Madhav Jiwaji Rao Scindia Vs Union of India 1970
The Supreme Court rejected a 1970 presidential order abolishing titles, privileges and privy purses of India’s erstwhile princely rulers.
Kesavananda Bharati Vs State of Kerala 1973
In 1971, Parliament empowered itself to amend any part of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court laid down that such amendments could not destroy the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution-fundamental rights are part of the ‘basic structure’.
Himmat Lal Shah Vs Commissioner of Police 1973
It dealt with a common citizen’s right to hold public meetings on streets and the extent to which the state could regulate this right.
Indira Gandhi Vs Raj Narain 1975
Indira Gandhi declared Emergency after being ordered by the Allahabad High Court to vacate her seat for malpractice. The Supreme Court later overturned the decision.
A.D.M. Jabalpur Vs S. Shukla 1976
The Supreme Court declared the right to move court under Articles 14, 21 and 22 would remain suspended during the Emergency.
Maneka Gandhi Vs Union of India 1978
The case caused a huge uproar over the definition of freedom of speech.The court ruled that the procedure must be fair and the law must not violate other fundamental rights.
Minerva Mills Vs Union of India 1980
The Supreme Court again applied the ‘basic structure’ theory, saying that social welfare laws could not curb fundamental rights.
Ramesh Dalal Vs Union of India 1988
The case dealt with the subject of pre-Partition communal violence, and how its depiction was not in violation of Constitutional articles.
Rajan Case 1981
Involving the torture and death of a final year engineering student in custody in Kerala, the case led to the resignation of K. Karunakaran, then the home minister, and imprisonment of the officers accused.
Kehar Singh Vs Delhi Administration 1984
Kehar Singh was accused of taking part in the murder of Indira Gandhi. Though the death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court, its accuracy has often been questioned.
Babri Masjid, Ayodhya Case 1994
The case questioned the Constitutional validity of the acquisition of a certain area adjoining the disputed site. The Supreme Court upheld status quo on the disputed structures.
Best Bakery Case 2006
The controversial trial came to an end with the conviction of nine people. The case related to 14 deaths in an arson attack on the Best Bakery in Vadodara in 2002. A retrial was ordered in 2004 after a local court acquitted all 21 accused.
Shah Bano Case 1985
The case, related to the issue of Muslim personal law, caused a furore as the court awarded Shah Bano a maintenance allowance after divorce.
Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India 1992
The Supreme Court upheld the implementation of recommendations made by the Mandal Commission. It also defined the “creamy layer” criteria and reiterated that the quota could not exceed 50 per cent.
St. Stephen’s College Vs University of Delhi 1992
The identity of St. Stephen’s College as a minority-run institution was put under the scanner as it was receiving grant-in-aid from the Government. The court ruled that grants could not change the minority character of an institution.
S.R. Bommai Vs Union of India 1994
The case laid down the guidelines in proving a majority under Article 356. The recent Arjun Munda case judgement was also passed with reference to the Bommai case.
R. Rajagopal Vs State of Tamil Nadu 1994
The case decided that the right to privacy subsisted even if a matter became one of public record. The right to be let alone is part of personal liberty.
P.A. Inamdar Vs State of Maharashtra 2005
The Supreme Court stated that “neither the policy of reservation can be enforced by the state nor any quota of admissions be carved out in private educational institutions”.
Sarla Mudgal Vs Union of India 1995
The Supreme Court held that a second marriage solemnised while the first existed was a punishable offence, though it did not become null and void.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Vs Union of India 1995
The association was banned for unlawful activities. But the decision was reversed due to lack of evidence.
Ministry of I&B Vs Cricket Association of Bengal 1995
The case, which dealt with the broadcast of the Hero Cup, was the first tussle involving the telecast of an international event by a private broadcaster.
Vishaka Vs State of Rajasthan 1997
For the first time, sexual harassment, including sexually coloured remarks and physical contact, was explicitly and legally defined as an unwelcome sexual gesture. It stated that every instance of sexual harassment is a violation of fundamental rights.
Samatha Vs State of AP 1997
The Supreme Court said government land, tribal land, and forest land in scheduled areas could not be leased to non-tribals or private companies for mining or industrial operations. Such activity can only be done by tribal people or by a government undertaking.
Rupan Deol Bajaj Vs K. P. S. Gill 1998
K.P.S. Gill, former chief of Punjab Police, was fined Rs.2.5 lakh in lieu of three months’ rigorous imprisonment for slapping senior IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj on the posterior.
Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2002
The judgement of a three-member Bench ordered candidates contesting elections to declare their assets and all criminal cases pending against them at the time of filing of nominations.
Tamil Nadu Vs Suhas Katti 2004
The first case involving conviction under the Information Technology Act, 2000, related to the posting of obscene messages on the Internet.
Om Prakash Vs Dil Bahar 2006
In a severe deterrent to incidents of rape, the Supreme Court held that a rape accused could be convicted on the sole evidence of the victim, even if medical evidence did not prove rape.