New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who has six working days left before his retirement on October 2, is expected to pronounce several important judgments during the week beginning on September 24, which is expected to change the contours of human rights, personal liberty, gender discrimination, constitutional and political narrative. Some of the key cases are:
On May 10, after a marathon hearing, which lasted for 38 days, the first bench reserved verdict on the constitutional validity of Aadhar law. This is one of the longest hearings in the annals of the Supreme Court after the famous Keshavanand Bharathi case. The petitions were originally filed challenging collection of biometrics under the Aadhar project. Meanwhile, the Aadhaar Act was passed by the Parliament in March 2016. Thereupon, petitions were filed challenging the provisions of the Act, and also the mode of passing the Act by the Parliament by treating it as a money bill.
Sabarimala women entry case:
This case threw up significant Constitutional issues regarding the scope of State interference in religious matters under the garb of reform, and the rights of believers to preserve traditions.
While dwelling on the validity of the ban on entry of menstruating women in Sabarimala temple between the age of 10 and 50, the Court will have to address several complex issues like whether the ban is protected under right to religious practise under Article 25 or it amounts to gender-based discrimination prohibited under Article 14 & 15. It was also argued that the ban amounted to practise of untouchability.
Validity of Adultery law
The case challenging validity of Section 497 IPC raises issues of gender equality and right to personal dignity and privacy. The exemption of women from punishment for adultery was characterised as a patriarchal baggage, which treats women as ‘chattel’ having no agency. Further, the section also exempted sexual act with the wife of another man, if it was performed with the consent or connivance of that man. This was challenged as an affront to personal dignity.
Disqualification of chargesheeted politicians
This case urged the court to bar politicians, who stand charge-sheeted by police for commission of offences, from contesting elections. The disqualification under the Representation of Peoples Act is attracted only after conviction. The petitioners pointed out that trials in cases involving politicians are deliberately delayed, and therefore several lawbreakers become lawmakers.
A three-judges’ bench presided by CJI Misra reserved orders on the plea to refer to larger bench the 1994 SC judgment holding that offering namaz at mosque was not an integral part of Islam. Senior advocate pressed the plea for reference. Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board. He argued that the appeal from 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment dividing the disputed site into three parts could be heard only after the main issue is decided.