New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India passed some pivotal judgements in year 2018 during the tenure of the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the present CJI Ranjan Gogoi. From decriminalising homosexuality (Article 377) to allowing the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple, the apex court passed several path-breaking verdicts that hit the headlines, sparked controversy and anger in 2018.
Take a look at the ten landmark judgements, the Supreme Court delivered in 2018.
Entry of Women to Sabarimala Temple: The Supreme Court in September removed all restrictions imposed by Sabarimala Temple with regard to entry of women between the ages of 10 to 50. While pronouncing the order, the then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said that the ban in place violated Constitutional principles and that women’s rights cannot be subverted as they are in no way less than men.
No objection to Rafale deal: The Supreme Court dismissed the petitions challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets saying there was no occasion to “really doubt the decision-making process” warranting setting aside of the contract. The apex court rejected the pleas, which sought lodging of an FIR and a court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement.
The Aadhaar judgment: In a verdict with far reaching consequences and described as balanced, the Supreme Court on September 26 upheld the constitutional validity of ‘Aadhaar’ but limited the scope of the controversial biometric identity project, ruling it is not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile connections or school admissions. Holding there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violates right to privacy of an individual, a five-judge constitution bench headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra in a 4 to 1 verdict also cleared the use of Aadhaar for welfare schemes after a long-drawn legal battle against the government’s ambitious project–the world’s largest biometric ID database
Section 377 Decriminalised: In a landmark decision, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court junked, albeit partially, Section 377 of the IPC . Taking up the cause of the LGBT community, the bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices RF Nariman, DY Chandrachud, AM Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra said while they had four different judgements, they were unanimous in the decision. Speaking for himself and Justice Khanwilkar, the then CJI Misra said, “The Court must try to protect the dignity of every individual of the society including people from the LGBT community. The sexual orientation is natural and people have no control on it.” He said denial of self-expression was akin to inviting death.
Decriminalising Adultery: The Supreme Court on September 27 unanimously decriminalised adultery after striking down a British era law, Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, terming it as unconstitutional, archaic and manifestly arbitrary, with one judge saying women cannot be treated as “chattel”.
“Section 497 is a denial of the constitutional guarantees of dignity, liberty, privacy and sexual autonomy which are intrinsic to Article 21 of the Constitution,” the court said referring to the provision on protection of life and personal liberty. Mere adultery can’t be a criminal offence. It is a matter of privacy. Husband is not the master of wife. Women should be treated with equality along with men,” the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had said.
Mobocracy Must be Stopped: Announcing its judgment on pleas seeking directions to formulate guidelines to curb cow vigilantism, the Supreme Court on Tuesday underlined that violence cannot be allowed in the name of gau raksha. The top court also observed that “the state has the act positively in case of fear and anarchy”. “Citizens cannot take law into their hands and cannot become law unto themselves,” the bench headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.
Triple Talaq ‘Unconstitutional’: In a major relief for Muslim women, the Supreme Court in August 2018 held triple talaq as “unconstitutional”, “arbitrary” and “not part of Islam”. The five-judge bench of the then Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S Abdul Nazeer by a 3:2 majority judgement said there is no constitutional protection for triple talaq.
Verdict on Reservation Quotas For Job Promotions: On September 26, the Supreme Court’s five-judge bench refused to refer the Nagaraj judgement to a larger bench with regard to the SC/ST reservations in the promotion. The apex court said that quantifiable data on backwardness for SC/ST quota in job promotions did not have to be collected by states. The top court questioned the logic behind granting quota in promotions in government jobs to the SC/ST community and their family members when they themselves were at a higher position. The SC argued as to why the creamy layer principle which is used to eliminate the affluent among other backward classes (OBCs) from enjoying the fruits of reservation, cannot be made applicable to deny quota benefits in promotion to those affluent among the SC and ST communities.
Passive Euthanasia – The Right to Die With Dignity is a Fundamental Right: The Supreme recognised the right to die with dignity ruling that passive euthanasia or passive mercy killing is permissible with guidelines. Passive euthanasia can be defined as an act of hastening the death of a terminally-ill patient by suspending medical treatment. “Human beings have the right to die with dignity,” the apex court observed on March 9. The apex court also said that its guidelines and directives shall remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue.
Live stream of SC Proceedings: The Supreme Court allowed the live streaming of its proceedings in the cases that hold constitutional importance. Rendering the judgement, the bench, comprising of the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, said, “It (live streaming) will start from the Supreme Court. Rules have to be followed for this. Live streaming of court proceedings will bring accountability into the judicial system.” The order came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising in her personal capacity in January 2018.