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Supreme Court Judge Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar passes away at 62

The Supreme Court Judge Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar passed away at the age of 62 on Sunday at a  private hospital in Gurgaon. His last rites will be conducted in Bengaluru at his residence.

By: Sargam Vohra, B.A. LL.B, IIMT

The Supreme Court Judge Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar passed away at the age of 62 on Sunday. The mortal remains of the judge will be taken to his Rajaji Nagar residence in Bengaluru, where the last rites will be conducted. The cremation took place on 25th April 2021 in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

He was admitted to Medanta Hospital on growing a lung infection and was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. His condition was stated to be stable till late Saturday evening, but deteriorated later, sources said.

Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar was the ninth senior-most judge of the Supreme Court.

He was born in 1958 and enrolled himself as an advocate in 1980. Justice Shantanagoudar specialised in Civil, Criminal and Constitutional matters He acted as the Chief justice of Karnataka High Court before being elevated to the Supreme Court. He was scheduled to retire on May 5, 2023.

Justice Shantanagoudar made an immediate impact as a Supreme Court judge with his defiance in the Indore Development Authority case, which dealt with section 24 of the new land acquisition rule.  Justice Shantanagoudar dissented from the majority of Justices Arun Mishra and AK Goel, pointing out the misconduct of the bench overruling a precedent set by a coordinate bench, and reminded that the proper path would be to refer the case to a larger bench. It should be remembered that the case was eventually appealed to a larger bench.

Justice Shantanagouder also headed a bench that held that if an accused is unrepresented within the court, then the court should appoint an amicus or seek the appointment of an advocate from legal services committees.

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.

He was also a part of a major judgment passed last year which held that an accused has the right to avail default bail whether or not the investigation is completed on time and also the prosecutor cannot defeat his indefeasible right by subsequently filing a rap sheet or additional complaint.

In the case Amitabha Dasgupta vs. Union Bank of India, Justice Shantanagoudar led bench issued guidelines for ensuring safe custody of valuables in bank lockers. The said judgment emphasized that the bank owes a separate duty of care to exercise due meticulousness in maintaining and operating their locker or safety deposit systems.

A bench headed by him allowed a habeas corpus petition filed by a man seeking the release of his lover who was detained in a Nari Niketan in Uttar Pradesh against her wishes. Having regard to the fact that she was a major, the bench directed her release, observing that she was free to live as per her wish.

His untimely demise is a great loss to the judiciary.

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