Sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India
Assumed Office2nd Nov, 2018
Retires On15th May, 2023
Chief Justice of the Patna High CourtAugust 12th 2018
Permanent Judge of the Gujarat High CourtJune 22nd 2005 - August 11th 2018
Additional Judge of the Gujarat High CourtMarch 7th 2004 - June 21st 2005
Enrollment July 19th 1982
Justice Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah practised for over 20 years in the Gujarat High Court. In 2004, he was appointed as an Additional Judge of Gujarat High Court. He was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court on August 12th 2018.
Since being appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice M.R. Shah has authored 108 judgments, a majority of which have been criminal matters, according to the data published by Manupatra. His notable judgments include the determination of the validity of state legislation regulating sugar prices, the legality of arbitrary cut-off dates for differential pension amounts, among others. Some of these judgments are discussed below:
In All Manipur Pensioners Association v State of Manipur(1999), the State of Manipur issued a memorandum increasing the pension for all state employees who retired after January 1st 1996. The Appellants contended that making the pension amount contingent on a cut-off date is arbitrary and violative of Article14. The State cited fiscal concerns. The judgment of the Court was delivered by Justice MR Shah on behalf of himself and Justice Bopanna. The question before the Court was whether pensioners could have been classified based on a cut-off date, purely on fiscal grounds.
The Court noted that for all other purposes, the State was treating its pensioners as a single, homogenous class. Justice Shah observed that classification, such as the one made by the Manipur Government, was found to be arbitrary by the Court in DS Nakara. Even otherwise, Justice Shah found that there was “no valid justification to create two classes, viz., one who retired pre-1996 and another who retired post-1996,e of a grant of revised pension”. On these grounds, the appeal was allowed.
In Ankush Maruti Shinde and Ors. v State of Maharashtra, the accused/Appellants were convicted for murder and had been awarded death sentences by the Sessions Court, later confirmed by the High Court. They appealed against their conviction and sentence on the ground that they had inadequate evidence against them.
Justice Shah authored the opinion of the Bench on behalf of himself and Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Sikri in this case. Justice Shah noted that fair investigation and trial had not been conducted in this case. Upon a perusal of the evidence, Justice Shah held that the conviction was based on the deposition of two prosecution witnesses, without sufficient corroborating evidence. Thus, he held that the fundamental rights of the accused, under Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India, had been infringed. He observed how investigation on other suspected individuals had been omitted while the Accused, who belonged to nomadic tribes, were falsely implicated. Moreover, they had been languishing in jail for 16 years. Justice Shah also relied on reports by a psychiatrist who found that the accused had been made to live in sub-human conditions.
Upon these findings, he directed the Chief Secretary and Home Department to identify the erring officers/officials, responsible for negligent prosecution and ordered further investigation. He acquitted all the six accused.
In The State of Madhya Pradesh v Laxmi Narayan and Ors. the Respondents were charged with an attempt to murder. The High Court, in the exercise of its power to quash proceedings under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), had quashed the criminal proceedings on the ground that the Accused and the complainant had settled the disputes amicably. The State of Madhya Pradesh preferred an appeal against this order.
Justice Shah authored the opinion of the Court on behalf of himself, Justice Nazeer and Justice Sikri. Justice Shah noted that the High Court had erred in overlooking the nature of the offence. The offences alleged in the case were non-compoundable as per Section 320 of the CrPC, noted Justice Shah. Given this, the High Court had mechanically quashed the proceedings while investigations were underway.
He also observed that the issues involved in this case were like a social wrong. Thus, the Court set aside the order of the High Court while holding that criminal proceedings for heinous and serious offences and having a serious impact on society cannot be quashed, under Section 482 of CrPC.
In West UP Sugar Mills Association and Ors. v The State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors, the question was whether the State and central legislation relating to sugar cane pricing conflicted with each other. Against this context, the Court specifically examined whether the State of Uttar Pradesh had the power to fix a State Advised Price (“SAP”) over and above what is prescribed by the Union Government. The question was referred to a Constitution Bench consisting of Justices Shah, Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose by a 3-judge bench. The smaller 3-judge Bench felt that two of its previous decisionsTika Ramji and Ors. v The State of Uttar Pradesh and U.P. Cooperative Cane Unions Federations v West U.P. Sugar Mills Association and Ors, were in conflict with each other on the above questions and it needed to be conclusively settled by a larger 7-judge Bench.
Writing the judgment on behalf of the Constitution Bench, Justice Shah held that there was no conflict between earlier judgments of the Court. More importantly, he held that both Central and State legislation could operate hand in hand. While the Centre retained the power to fix the “minimum price”, States were empowered to fix the “advised price”, as long as such advised price was higher than the minimum price.
Thus, the Court held that as long as this principle was followed, the State legislations need not be struck down. Nevertheless, if a State decided to prescribe a price lower than that mentioned in the Central legislation, then such State legislation shall be void.