In India government has three wings viz legislative, executive and judiciary. This separation of powers is in place to ensure each organ of government has autonomy and works without any interference from another organ.
The Supreme Court of India came into existence on 26th January 1950 and since then it has been the pioneer in giving landmark progressive decisions in order to keep country at pace with latest changes and developments. Some of the notable judgements of past were Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, IC Golaknath v State of Punjab, ADM Jabalpur v Shivakant Shukla, Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala etc. to name a few. Here is a list of judgements delivered from last year till now:-
1. Indian Young Lawyers Association v The State Of Kerala
Also known as Sabrimala case, upheld the right of women to enter the Sabrimala Temple in Kerala which is deemed to be an abode of Lord Ayappa. The verdict was delivered by 4:1 Supreme Court Bench. The dissent in this case, was given by Justice Indu Malhotra who was the only judge female in the bench. Justice Indu Malhotra had the privilege of becoming the first woman Judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court of India directly from the Bar.
The Bench held that "devotion cannot be subjected to gender discrimination'. The Supreme Court of India struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules 1965 as unconstitutional. This rule had banned the entry of women into the temple premises. The sole reason for not allowing women to enter the temple was that they were impure during the menstruating cycles.
2. Bilkis Bano Case
This case caught the attention of media for two reasons because it was related to the 2002 Godhra Riots and the amount of compensation awarded to the rape victim. Bilkis Bano was gang-raped and her entire family including her three- year- old daughter was slaughtered in front of her eyes. She got justice after 17 years by the Supreme Court of India awarding her exemplary compensation of Rs 50 Lakhs to be paid by Gujarat Government, a house and a government job. This case is lauded as progressive because it was the first time in the history of India such lump sum amount was given to the rape victim.
3. Common Cause (A Regd. Society) v. Union of India & Anr
This case held that right to die with dignity is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court made it clear that it was only passive euthanasia that is legally valid, not the active euthanasia. The Bench held that right to live with dignity guaranteed by Article 21 of Constitution includes within its ambit easing the process of death in case patient is in vegetative state and doctors have declared no hope of their recovery.
The condition to this is that patients should have consented through a living will ( it a will made well in advance describing what actions should be taken in case their health deteriorates to extent they are not in a position to make decisions.) and becomes operation when such patient becomes terminally ill or is in a permanent vegetative state. The issue of Euthanasia case in India came to limelight with Aruna Shanbaug case where a nurse was in a vegetative state for 42 years following the rape on her by ward boy at Hospital in Mumbai.
4. Joseph Shine v. Union of India
Section 497 of Indian Penal code was struck down, the highlight of the verdict was "husband is not the master of the wife". The Section punished a married man having an affair or sex with the wife of another man. But the section was so biased that it exempted punishment if it is performed with the consent of the husband of the other woman. This Section also exempts the wife from punishment and she could not be even treated as an abettor. Another loophole of the Section was that if a married had sexual intercourse an unmarried woman it was not covered within the ambit of Section 497 IPC.
Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure was also struck down but adultery still continues to be the ground for divorce. The Section allowed the initiation of criminal proceedings for Adultery only at the instance of the husband of the adulteress, but the wife of the man party to the act of adultery cannot institute a complaint.
5. Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. Union of India
In this judgement, Section 377 of IPC was declared unconstitutional to the extent it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private. However, bestiality will continue as an offence under said Section. Though the crusade against repealing Section 377 of IPC was initiated in 1990 but not until recently it was struck down. In the case of Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, Delhi High Court decriminalised Section 377 IPC but the judgement was overturned by the Supreme Court of India in Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation, in which Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was reinstated by the two -judge bench.