New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India passed several landmark verdicts in year 2019 during the tenure of the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. From century-old Ayodhya land dispute case to withholding its September 28, 2018 judgment (that allowed the entry of women) in the Sabarimala temple, from ordering floor test in Maharashtra to dismissing all petitions seeking a review in Rafale deal, the apex court passed several landmark judgments that hit the headlines and triggered controversy in 2019.

Ayodhya Land Dispute: One of the longest-running battles in India’s legal history concluded this year after five-judge constitution bench-led by the then CJI Gogoi granted the ownership of the 2.77 acres of disputed site in Ayodhya to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, paving the way for the construction of a Ram Temple, and ruled that the Muslims will get five acres of land at an alternative site. The five-judge bench unanimously directed the Central government to form a trust for the construction of a temple.

(Ayodhya Verdict: Five Acres of Alternate Land an Insult to Muslims, Alleges AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi) 

Sabarimala Verdict: On November 14, the apex court refused to stay its verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple but agreed to hear in open court on January 22 a batch of review petitions in the matter. The review petitions against the September 28 verdict were taken up ‘in-chamber’ by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.”All the Review Petitions along with all pending applications will be heard in Open Court on 22nd January, 2019 before the appropriate Bench. We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgment and order of this Court dated 28th September, 2018 passed in Writ Petition (Civil) No.373 of 2006 (Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors. vs. The State of Kerala & Ors),” the order said.

Maharashtra Government Formation: The apex court had also ended the month-long deadlock in Maharashtra by passing an order to conduct a floor test in Vidhan Sabha. On November 26, after hearing the counsel of all parties (BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP) a bench of the top court comprising Justices NV Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna and Ashok Bhushan was of the opinion that since oath taking of the MLAs has not taken place a floor test should be conducted.

Contempt case against Rahul Gandhi: The Supreme Court had reprimanded the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the apex court his “chowkidar chor hai” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal case. The apex court on April 10, had given a categorical clarification that in its Rafale verdict there was no occasion for it to make a mention of the contemptuous observation that “chowkidar Narendra Modi chor hain” as has been attributed to it by Gandhi.  A bench comprising former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph had asked Rahul to be more care in future.

Rafale review pleas: On November 14, the Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi-led government in the Rafale fighter jet deal case by rejecting  petitions seeking an inquiry into the multi-crore deal. Dismissing the petitions seeking court-monitored probe into alleged irregularities in the procurement of jets, the top court had also said that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal. It had also said that it was not their job to go into the issue of pricing of the fighter planes.  Notably, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party had made it the single largest electoral issue in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections claiming the government indulged in alleged corruption in the Rafale deal.