This year would mark itself as the most important year in the history of the Indian judiciary. While several judgments put an end to obsolete practices in India, others have paved the way for new beginnings.
With several judgments being delivered by the Indian judiciary, here are some of them that made a great impact on us.
1. When the Supreme Court decriminalised section 377.
"Section 377 is irrational, arbitrary and incomprehensible as it fetters the right to equality for LGBT community." - CJI Dipak Misra
In what is termed to be a historic moment for India, Supreme Court on September 6, 2018 scrapped section 377 that criminalised consensual gay sex. The court said that the law denied basic fundamental rights and was unconstitutional.
Section 377 dates back to the British era criminalising sexual activities that are against the order of nature, including same sex intercourse.
2. When the Supreme Court upheld the validity of Aadhaar.
Ever since Aadhaar came into use, it was surrounded with controversies about infringing right to privacy. Supreme Court finally delivered its verdict on Aadhaar on 26 September 2018. The court ruled that Aadhaar does not infringe on an individual's right to privacy and upheld its constitutional validity.
It however, made it clear that no person can be denied any benefits for not having Aadhaar. Ever since the verdict, Aadhaar has no longer been compulsory for opening bank accounts and for taking admission in schools. Although the court made it mandatory to link Aadhaar with PAN card, the same is not required for your mobile numbers.
3. When the Supreme Court declared that adultery is no longer a criminal offence.
"Adultery can be a ground for civil issues including dissolution of marriage but it cannot be a criminal offence." - CJI Dipak Misra
A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court unanimously scrapped section 497 of IPC that deals with adultery. According to the law a married man can be punished if he has sex with the wife of another married man, without his 'connivance' or 'consent'.
The court observed that the law was extremely biased and it treats women as the property of their husbands after marriage.
4. When the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women into the Sabrimala temple.
"The bar on entry of women between age of 10 and 50 years is not an essential part of the religion." - CJI Dipak Misra
Putting an end to a centuries-old tradition, the Supreme Court ruled that women, irrespective of their age, can enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.
A five-judge bench was looking into the constitutionality of the provision in Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 that prohibits women between the ages of 10 and 50 from entering the temple due to 'impurity'.
5. When the Supreme Court permitted live streaming of court hearings.
"It will encourage the principle of open court, effectuate the public’s right to know and reduce dependence on second-hand views." - Justice D.Y. Chandrachud
Supreme Court took a giant step towards increasing accountability and transparency in judicial functioning with its decision to bring courtroom proceedings under public eye. With this ruling, the apex court has paved the way for people to watch the courtroom drama as it unfolds.
Initially, only a specified category of cases which belongs to national or constitutional importance.
6. When the Supreme Court delivered the Ramjanmbhoomi Babri Masjid verdict.
Supreme Court declined to refer the 1994 Ismail Faruqui verdict to a large bench and categorically stated that namaz could be offered anywhere and a mosque wasn't necessary for it. Thus, the government could acquire the land on which the mosque was built on.
7. When the Supreme Court permitted passive euthanasia.
In March 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra gave legal sanction to passive euthanasia. It permitted 'living will' by patients on withdrawing medical support if they slip into irreversible coma. The SC also held that the right to die with dignity is a fundamental right.
8. When the Supreme Court asked Parliament to formulate a law for decriminalisation of politics.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court said that the Parliament must make a law to prevent persons with criminal backgrounds from entering the legislature.
The apex court also described criminalisation of politics in the largest democracy as 'unsettling', and said that the candidates and political parties should widely publicise criminal charges and their parties should post the details on their websites so the voter can make an informed choice.
With all these judgments, we hope to see a better and inclusive India as we embark onto the new year.