Year-ender 2020: From access to internet and free speech to land acquisition, a look at 5 key verdicts by Supreme Court
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The year 2020 was a roller-coaster for the world in many ways. From the raging coronavirus pandemic to India-China border standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh to death of former President Pranab Mukherjee, several key things happened throughout 2020 that impacted the world in many ways. The year 2020 was also an important one from the perspective of the Indian judiciary as the Supreme Court of the country gave several key verdicts, changing the way the nation used to work. So as the year comes to an end, here's a look at some of the landmark verdicts that were delivered by the Supreme Court in 2020:
'Freedom of speech constitutionally protected'
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court in January this year ruled out that expressing views via the internet is an integral part of the fundamental right to speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution.
While hearing a plea on internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir, the apex court internet stands as the most utilised and accessible medium for the exchange of information in the world and the right of trade and commerce through it is also constitutionally protected.
"We declare that the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression) and Article 19(1)(g) (right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business)," the court said.
'Land acquisition won't lapse if compensation is deposited'
In another major development, the apex court this year said that disputes over land acquisition and payment of fair compensation to owners cannot be re-opened under the 2013 Act if the legal processes have been completed before January 1, 2014.
The court said that Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 does not give rise to a new cause of action to question the legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition and it applies to a proceeding pending on the date of enforcement of the Act of 2013.
"It does not revive stale and time-barred claims and does not reopen concluded proceedings nor allow landowners to question the legality of mode of taking possession to reopen proceedings or mode of deposit of compensation in the treasury instead of court to invalidate acquisition," it noted.
'Quota policy not meant to deny merit'
In 2020, the Supreme Court also said that "quota policy is not meant to deny merit". A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit ruled against the idea of "a communal reservation" and said that general category in employment is open to all including reserved category candidates.
"But the converse can never be true and will be opposed to the very basic principles which have all the while been accepted by this Court. Any view or process of interpretation which will lead to incongruity as highlighted earlier, must be rejected," the three-judge bench of the apex court said this year.
Women officers in Army to be granted permanent commission
The Supreme Court this year also directed the central government to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army, saying "there will not be any absolute bar on giving them command postings".
Rejecting government's argument of "physiological limitations", the top court said that women have the equal right to get permanent commission and command postings in the Armed Forces and there is a need to change the "mindset" to end gender bias in security forces.
RTI requests for pleadings
In March this year, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, which was headed by Justice Banumathi, said that people cannot file right to information (RTI) requests to obtain pleadings. Restricting the application of the RTI Act, 2005, the apex court said that people "must resort to using the procedure established by the Gujarat High Court rules".
Posted By: Aalok Sensharma