The Bombay High Court recently upheld the constitutionality of the Maharashtra Tax on Lotteries Act 2006. The legality and taxation of lottery schemes in Maharashtra has been at the centre of a catena of judgments, including State of Bombay v RMD Chamarbaugwala and Writ Petition 854/2007. The latest judgment clarifies that the taxation of lotteries falls within the ambit of the term 'betting and gambling' under Entry 62 of the State List of the Constitution.
In order to keep pace with rapid economic growth, the Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill 2017 proposes to introduce provisions to facilitate the enforcement of contracts. Among other things, the bill proposes to remove the courts' discretionary power to decree specific performance, permit substituted performance by a third party, set up special courts for dealing exclusively with suits relating to infrastructure claims and prevent the courts from granting injunctions in contracts relating to an infrastructure project.
The Supreme Court recently issued two judgments regarding consumer law. In the first, the Supreme Court held that the courts should take a pragmatic view of consumers' rights considering their relative disadvantage with regard to suppliers of goods or services. In the second, the court held that, in the context of a vehicle insurance policy, the mere failure of the vehicle owner to intimate the insurer immediately after the theft of the vehicle should not bar settlement of genuine claims.
In an important recent case regarding contract law, the Supreme Court held that the commercial courts should not seek to interpret the implied terms of a contract. In a second notable case, the court examined whether an increase in coal prices (due to a change in Indonesian law) could be cited as a force majeure event by certain power-generating companies that were sourcing coal from Indonesia. Finally, the court also recently issued an important decision in a suit for damages and wrongful termination.
The most important criminal law Supreme Court judgments in 2017 included a case which held that Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, on the grant of bail, violates the right to equality and right to life. Elsewhere, the court clarified the criteria for quashing criminal proceedings and issued certain guidelines in order to prevent the misuse of Section 498A of the Penal Code.
A division bench of the Supreme Court recently decided to examine the correctness of a judgment by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), New Delhi. The NCDRC had held that, among other things, consumer disputes cannot be settled by arbitration. This decision begs the question whether the line of reasoning preferred by the NCDRC is likely to invite more critical scrutiny by the Supreme Court.
Throughout 2017, the Supreme Court issued judgments on public interest litigation cases. These include reviewing the way in which senior advocates are designated, determining whether to constitute a special investigation team and establishing fast-track courts for criminal cases.
In 2017 the Supreme Court delivered several significant judgments which have far-reaching importance in the field of constitutional law. In particular, in one case, the court set aside the practice of talaq-e-biddat, while in another it held that the right to privacy was an intrinsic part of the right to life and other freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.