Retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India
Assumed Office17th Feb, 2017
Retired On6th May, 2020
Chief Justice of the Chattisgarh High Court2016-2017
Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court2013-2016
Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court2004-2013
Justice Deepak Gupta is the son of Himachal Pradesh High Court advocate M.R Gupta. Justice Gupta graduated in 1978 from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. He practised constitutional, civil and corporate law matters in the Himachal Pradesh High Court for 26 years. He also served as the Counsel for Himachal Pradesh’s Road Transport Corporation, Housing Board, and New India Assurance companies. He was an elected member of the Himachal Pradesh High Court Bar Association in various capacities – Secretary (1982-1983), Vice President (1993-1994) and President (2002-2003).
In October 2004, Justice Gupta was elevated as a Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court. He served as the President of Himachal Pradesh Judicial Academy, and Chairman of Himachal Pradesh’s State Legal Services Authority for nearly four years. He was in charge of digitisation initiatives of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, overseeing the computerisation of courts and developing e-court modules.
Justice Deepak Gupta was appointed as the first Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court on 23 March, 2013. He was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court on 16 May, 2016.
Since his elevation to the Supreme Court in February 2017, Justice Gupta has authored 139 judgments (source: Manupatra) as a Supreme Court judge. Out of these, the most number of judgments are on criminal law matters. Property, civil and service law judgments are next on the list. Although a large number of his judgments are on these four areas, he has also authored a significant number of judgments in areas as varied as family law, constitutional law and consumer law.
On 6 May 2020, he retired from the Supreme Court.
In The Home Secretary and Ors. v H Nilofer Nisha, a Division Bench comprising Justice Gupta and S Abdul Nazeer held that a High Court cannot use its power to issue habeas corpus to order the release of prisoners, unless they are being illegally detained. The decision came in an appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu Prison Home Secretary challenging a decision of the Madras High Court. By its order, the High Court had ordered the release of prisoners who were not given the benefit of a premature release scheme. The Appellant challenged this decision, contending that the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction in granting a habeas corpus to order their release.
The judgment, authored by Justice Deepak Gupta, agreed with the Appellant’s contention. In doing so, Justice Gupta traced the contours of habeas corpus and held that “habeas corpus is available as a remedy in all cases where a person is deprived of his/her personal liberty. It is processual writ to secure liberty of the citizen from unlawful or unjustified detention whether a person is detained by the State or is in private detention.” In light of this, Justice Gupta held that the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction. At best, the Bench held, the High Court could have directed the relevant authorities to consider the representation of the prisoners for an early release.
Despite holding that the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction, the Bench considered the case of each of the prisoners. In some cases, it even exercised its powers under Article 142 and ordered their release.
In an unreported judgment, a Division Bench consisting of Justices Gupta and L Nageswara Rao granted bail to the accused on the ground that there is a possibility that he may have been unaware of the illegal activities of the co-accused. The decision assumes significance as the law under which the accused was charged – The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 bars grant of bail unless certain stringent conditions are met. As per these conditions, the Court, on a preliminary examination of facts, has to be satisfied that the appellant is not guilty of the offence and secondly, that he is not likely to commit any offence when on bail.
Despite the prosecution’s argument that accused had made a statement wherein he admitted knowledge of the illegal activities, the Court felt that the statement itself and a few potentially incriminating WhatsApp messages themselves were not sufficient to deny bail.
The Court also took into account the fact that the accused had spent almost 2 years in prison since his arrest. It also accounted for the person’s age and education while granting the bail.
Justice Deepak Gupta authored a part-dissent in the notable Tribunals case. The judgment, which cast a shadow over the way in which the Money Bill question was determined in the Aadhaar judgment, struck down the Appellate Tribunal and Other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules 2017. Nevertheless, on the question of whether Section 184 of the Finance Act, 2017 excessively delegated legislative powers to the executive to frame these, Justice Gupta disagreed with the majority.
On this issue, he held that although non-essential functions may be delegated, even within such delegation, Parliament had to retain a certain amount of control over the executive. Thus, in such cases, he held that the rules had to be eventually tabled in the Parliament. Moreover, he held that given the difference in subject matter and other expertise of the members of different tribunals, allowing the executive to determine the eligibility qualifications without laying down any guidelines amounts to excessive delegation.
In Independent Thought v Union of India, Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta held that a husband may be charged with rape for having sex with a minor wife. They read down exception 2 to section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. A minor wife cannot consent and is shielded by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
In Rakesh Kumar Paul v State Of Assam, a two judge majority held that an accused is entitled to statutory bail, if the police fail to file the charge-sheet within 60 days of her arrest for offences punishable with imprisonment up to 10 years.