Law and order are the medicine of the body politic and when the body politic gets sick, medicine must be administered.
Few days before, The Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra vacated his chair to be taken over by his successor Justice Ranjan Gogoi. CJI Misra was elevated to the post of top court judge on October 10, 2011 and he was assigned the office of the Chief justice of India, six years later on 28th August 2017. A highly scholastic and an avid reader, Justice Misra’s 13-month-long tenure was full of remarkable events, controversies and judgements.
In the last 10 days in the office, Justice Misra along with the prescribed benches delivered verdicts on those issues that have been the talk of the nation for a very long time. From Aadhaar and Article 377 to decriminalising adultery, CJI Misra will be remembered among those Supreme Court judges who pronounced path-breaking judgments.
Let us have a brief discussion on some of these major verdicts that have been passed in the previous month by Justice Misra.
After centuries of prohibiting women of 10-50 years of age to enter the temple of Lord Ayyappa, 28th Sept 2018 witnessed the removal of such practice. Women from menarche to menopause have been restricted from entering the temple premise since time immemorial. With a majority of 4:1 among the five justices the unjust practice was finally lifted. The only female justice Indu Malhotra among the bench was against the stand, she objected that the essentiality of a religious practice or custom has to be decided within the religion. She believed that the spiritual beliefs of the people could not be based on the judgements of the judges rather it should be based on the viewpoint of the people themselves.
All the other four justice had various views to support the lifting of this prohibition where the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “One side we pray to the Goddesses; on the other, women of a certain age are considered ‘impure’. The dualistic approach is nothing but, an example of patriarchy practices in religion. The ban exacts more purity from women than men.”
The decision was indeed a rejoiced one for the women of Kerala who have been made to feel that they are the children of lesser God.
It’s great to understand and learn that the nation is gradually moving towards equality and biological factors like menstruation cannot decide whether a female can enter a temple or not.
Justice DY Chandrachud said, “Homosexuality is documented in 1500 species and its not unique to humans.” 6th September 2018 was celebrated as the day of liberalisation of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. Rainbow flags were seen all around the country. The 157-year old ban on homosexuality has gone through a tough path which saw a number of twists and turns before it was finally warded off. Since the year 1994, an NGO had tried to remove the ban on homosexuality. It did get discriminated by the various efforts in the high Court of Delhi in the year 2009, but because of the various social and religious challenges against this decision the Apex Court had to set aside Delhi High Court order in the year 2013.
The matter was now in the hands of the parliament to decide. After a number of trials by the Supreme Court, 6th September was decided as the date when supreme court finally decriminalised homosexuality.
ADULTERY, NO LONGER A CRIME
“Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery.”
On September 27, the then CJI Misra and Justice A.M Khanwilkar, delivered another key judgment pertaining to the society and its views. The bench decriminalized and struck down the adultery law, section 497 of the 158-year old Indian Penal Code stating that it would be unjustified to punish those who are unhappy in their married life.
*Indian constitution defines Adultery as a voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than that person’s current spouse or partner.
AYODHYA CASE: IS MOSQUE INTEGRAL TO ISLAM?
One of the most sensitive and politically crucial judgement, Ayodhya case verdict is associated with a multitude of trail judgements, one of which has been taken by Justice Misra led, three judge-bench.
A 1994 apex court judgement had observed that ‘A mosque is not an essential part of the practice in Islam and Namaz by Muslims can be offered anywhere.’ Muslim appellants objected the judgement and demanded that the verdict needs to be revisited. Justice Misra led bench rejected the plea to revisit the issue.
With two favours to one odd, the Apex Court bench headed by CJI Misra declared that the civil suit had to be decided on the basis of evidence, adding that all the previous verdicts will be considered null and void. The verdict, effectively, paved the way for hearing on the title suit.
LIVE STREAMING OF SUPREME COURT PROCEEDINGS
With recent allegations and rising apprehensions over the accountability and transparency of Supreme court’s judgements, CJI Misra headed a bench that ruled in favour of live streaming of court proceedings and judgements in order to enhance the rule of law. The bench stated, “We hold that the cause brought before this court by the protagonists in larger public interest deserves acceptance so as to uphold the constitutional rights of the public and the litigants in particular.”
SECTION 57- AADHAAR VALIDATION
The verdict mentions that the validity of Aadhaar remains upheld but section 57 of the Aadhaar Act has been struck off. Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act allowed the private entities to demand aadhaar to access services.
Considering the fact that Aadhaar provides an identity to the small and marginal sector, it happens to be a great move in providing the required identity they need but, over the past few years various companies have started asking for the 12-digit identification number in order to provide services. Aadhaar has been almost anywhere and everywhere, so much so that it has become the one of the only means of identity. Be it a sim card that you buy or a payment you make, aadhaar number has to be given.
This verdict nowhere means that Aadhaar is invalid, its validity remains intact for purposes like PAN card etc. and identification purposes.
This year will be cherished for the revolutionary judgements made by the law of the land. These mature judgements surpassed the stringent stereotypes and taboos. The verdicts will not only make the lives of people involved, fair but it will also send out to the world a strong message, that India is a land of tolerance and acceptance.
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