5 LANDMARK JUDGMENTS THAT CHANGED INDIA IN 2018

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December 26, 2018

As the year 2018 is about to wind up we present you five historic judgments which have been instrumental in changing India. The Indian Judiciary has pronounced highly progressive verdicts in 2018 which have changed India’s image globally and brought about substantial transformations at the national and international levels.

A CONSPECTUS OF THE FIVE JUDGMENTS IS PRESENTED BELOW:

Aadhaar Case

The whole ruckus and speculation about validity and mandatory nature of Aadhaar number was settled by the Supreme Court on September 26, 2018. The Five-Judge Constitutional Bench of the Apex Court though upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar struck down provisions which rendered it mandatory to link Aadhaar number with Bank Accounts, cell phone connections and school admissions.

The Supreme Court’s historic verdict came in the case Justice K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) and anr. V. Union of India & ors., whereby the Court also held that all matters relating to an individual cannot be classified as inherent part of right to privacy and only those matters over which there would be a reasonable expectation of privacy are protected by Article 21.

Homosexuality not a Crime anymore!

In a historical judgment, the Five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on September 06, 2018 struck down Section 377 of Indian Penal Code. The provision criminalized homosexuality in India and categorized it as an unnatural offence. The provision has been declared unconstitutional to the extent criminal consensual sex between homosexuals was an offence under the penal provision.

The historic judgment settles the long contentious debate on the status of homosexuality in India and comes as a huge relief for homosexuals.

The Bench while pronouncing its verdict in the case Navtej Singh Johar & ors. V. Union of India remarked “Section 377 is irrational, indefensible and arbitrary. The majoritarian views and popular morality cannot dictate constitutional rights.”

Husband is not a Master of Wife!!

In a landmark decision on September 28, 2018, Supreme struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional. Section 497 of the IPC punishes adultery. The Supreme Court while remarking Section 497 of IPC as “manifestly arbitrary” also remarked that the husband is not the master of wife and that the legal sovereignty of one sex over other is wrong.

In the case Joseph Shine v. Union of India taken up by the Supreme Court in January this year, the Petitioner had challenged the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code  and Section 198(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code  provides for the offence of adultery and renders criminal liability on husband who has sexual intercourse with the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man.

Section 198(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. – Section 198 of CrPC provides for prosecution for offences against marriage and states that no person other than the husband of the woman, shall be deemed to be aggrieved by any offence punishable under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code.

Hence, the law in its present form does not punish a woman/wife under the provision of adultery. Thus, the right to prosecute the adulterer is restricted to the husband of the adulteress but has not been extended to the wife of the adulterer.

In this case, the Petitioner contended that sexual relationship of a husband with an unmarried women should also be comprehended with in the definition of ‘adultery’. If the paramour of a married woman can be guilty of adultery, why can an unmarried girl who has sexual relations with a married man not be guilty of adultery?

The Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the case took strong note of the fact that the law penalizes only the husband and regard should be made to social progression, perceptual shift, gender equality and gender sensitivity.

Euthanasia- Right to Die with Dignity- A Fundamental Right

In a landmark judgement passed by five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Common Cause (A Regd. Society) v. Union of India, the Court has recognized right to die with dignity as a fundamental right. The Bench has hence recognized passive euthanasia and living will in India.

The Supreme Court’s verdict came in a case instituted by NGO Common Cause wherein the Petitioner sought a robust system of certification for passive euthanasia and recognition for “living will” in India. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the case has also issued guidelines for enforcement of living wills and the procedure to be followed for euthanasia.

Read more here.

Entry of Women in Sabarimala Temple

In yet another spree of historical judgments, the Supreme Court by 4:1 majority allowed the entry of women of all age groups in Sabarimala Temple in the landmark case of Indian Young Lawyers’ Association v. Union of India. The dissent judgment in the case was pronounced by Justice Indu Malhotra, who remarked that the Court shall not interfere in matters of deep religious sentiments.

While passing the landmark verdict, the Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R F Nariman, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Y Chandrachud remarked that Women is not lesser or inferior to man. Partriarchy of religion cannot be permitted to trump over faith. Biological or physiological reasons cannot be accepted in freedom of faith.

Recent spree of verdicts by the Apex Court have been a remarkable one and strengthen women power in India. The judgment in Sabarimala temple case is yet another leaf which acclaims that women are not inferior and cannot be discriminated on religious grounds.