NEW DELHI: Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar, who passed away late Saturday evening, was part of several notable verdicts, including a popular dissent in a land acquisition matter, during his over four-year stint at the Supreme Court.
Justice Shantanagoudar, who hailed from Karnataka, was also part of a nine-judge Constitution bench which had on February 10 last year held that the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its limited power under review jurisdiction in the Sabarimala temple case.
On February 8, 2018, Justice Shantanagoudar, who was at present number nine in seniority among judges of the top court, dissented from the majority view of justices (now retd.) Arun Mishra and AK Goel, who had held that the 2014 verdict of another three-judge bench on the land acquisition matter was 'per incuriam' (passed without due regard to law).
The 2018 verdict passed by 2:1 majority held that the 2014 Pune Municipal Corporation case was passed without due regard to the law, saying that the land acquired could not be quashed due to a delay on part of the landowners in accepting compensation within five years due to litigation or other reasons.
Justice Shantanagoudar, in his dissenting view in the 2018 verdict, had held that proper recourse will be to refer the issue to a larger bench instead of overruling the precedent set by another three-judge bench in 2014.
The land acquisition case was eventually referred to a five-judge Constitution bench after another three-judge bench had raised concern about "judicial impropriety".
A nine-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde who retired on Friday, had rejected vehement preliminary legal objections that a five-judge bench, in its verdict on November 14, 2019, was wrong in making a reference to a larger bench without deciding the review petitions challenging the 2018 Sabarimala verdict, which had allowed women of all age group to enter the hill-top shrine in Kerala.
Within months of his elevation to top court in February 2017, Justice Shantanagoudar was part of a bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra which held that in a child custody matter, the remedy of writ of habeas corpus cannot be used for mere enforcement of the directions given by the foreign court against a person.
In February, a bench headed by Justice Shantanagoudar took note of consumer interest and directed the Reserve Bank of India to lay down comprehensive directions mandating the steps to be taken by banks for locker facility/safe deposit facility management and held that the banks should not have the liberty to impose unilateral and unfair terms on the consumers.
The bench said that the banks cannot wash off their hands and claim that they bear no liability towards their customers for the operation of the locker.
Justice Shantanagoudar was also part of a significant judgement passed last year which held that an accused has the right to default bail' even if the investigation is not completed on time and the prosecutor cannot defeat his indefeasible right by subsequently filing a charge sheet or additional complaint.
Among the other important verdicts passed last year, Justice Shantanagouder headed a bench that held that if an accused is unrepresented in the court, then the court has to appoint an amicus or seek the appointment of an advocate from legal services committees.
Justice Shantanagoudar was admitted to the Medanta Hospital due to a lung infection and was in the ICU.
His condition was stated to be stable till late Saturday evening, but deteriorated later, sources said.
In a statement on Sunday, the apex court said: "It is, with profound grief, circulated for information that Hon'ble Mr. Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar, Judge, Supreme Court of India left for heavenly abode in the late evening of yesterday.
The cremation will take place today i.e. 25th April 2021 in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
" Justice Shantanagoudar was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court on February 17, 2017.
He would have remained in office till May 5, 2023.
He was born on May 5, 1958, in Karnataka and got himself enrolled as an advocate on September 5, 1980.
He was appointed as an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court on May 12, 2003, and became a permanent judge in the court in September 2004.
Later, Justice Shantanagoudar was transferred to the Kerala High Court, where he assumed charge as the acting chief justice on August 1, 2016.
He became the chief justice of the Kerala High Court on September 22, 2016, before being elevated as an apex court judge.