The year 2017 was a year of important judgements by the Supreme Court and other judicial bodies across India. While some judgements put an end to long standing controversies, others started new debates in the country.
But it would be fair to say that justice was served in all cases, reinforcing our belief in the judiciary which looks after the biggest democracy in the world.
Here’s a throwback to the major judgements of 2017, some of which were personal victories, while others, a collective accomplishment.
1. Nirbhaya Rape Case
In a much awaited judgement, the Supreme Court upheld death sentences of 4 adult convicts who were charged with the rape of a 23-year-old girl in a case that generated worldwide public protests.
On 5 May, 2017, The Supreme Court rejected the convicts’ appeal against life imprisonment and said they had committed “a barbaric crime” which had “shaken society’s conscience”.
2. Mumbai Bomb Blast
The 6 accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts that claimed 257 lives were pronounced guilty on June 16, 2017, by a special court. Special judge Govind A Sanap found “concrete evidence” against gangsters Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Taher Merchant, Feroze Khan and Karimullah Khan.
Riyaz Siddiqui, 67, was found guilty for abetting and aiding terrorism, a charge that attracts a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
3. The Right To Privacy
This was possibly the biggest judgement of 2017 and was made in response to the petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Indian biometric identity scheme, Aadhaar.
“The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution,” the ruling said.
The ambiguous nature of scope of privacy as a right in India enabled the government to collect and compile both demographic and biometric data of residents but with this judgment, the government will be required to create a data protection regime to protect the privacy of the individual.
4. Declaring Triple Talaq as unconstitutional
In a judgement that resulted in empowerment of millions of Muslim women in the country, the Supreme Court declared the practice of instant Triple Talaq unconstitutional. The bench struck it down by a 3:2 majority.
The judgement was made after 35-year-old Shayara Bano challenged the practice in 2016, a year after her husband of 15 years divorced her through triple talaq.
5. Ruling On Section 377
In the judgement which declared that privacy is a fundamental right of all Indians, the Supreme Court indicated that right to privacy is valid for every citizen of the country.
It said, “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Their rights are not ‘so-called’ but are real rights founded on sound constitutional doctrine. They inhere in the right to life. They dwell in privacy and dignity. They constitute the essence of liberty and freedom.”
6. Arushi Talwar case
In a murder mystery that made news across the nation, the parents and main convicts in the murder of teenager Arushi Talwar, were held not guilty by the High Court.
In the case which had been making headlines for almost a decade, 13-year-old Arushi was found murdered in her own bedroom in Noida. The main suspect, Hemraj, was missing from the scene but a day later his partially decomposed body was found on the terrace.
7. The Ram Rahim Case
Dera Sachcha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was found guilty in a rape case dating back to 2002 when a Dera sadhvi wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying that she was raped.
The supporters of Ram Rahim started widespread protests in New Delhi and Panchkula which left 30 dead and 250 injured.