The Stories Of Change

2018: The Year of Historic Judgements

The year 2018 saw some of the most historic judgements by the Supreme Court. These landmark judgements defined the changing face of India. Here is a roundup of the incredible judgements of this year.

The Supreme Court, headed by former Chief justice Dipak Misra, has been quite active with some groundbreaking judgments this year.

The last few weeks of Dipak Misra’s tenure as the Chief Justice witnessed decisions on some very important issues like gender equality, right to privacy, right to die with dignity, wildlife, the Supreme Court has taken all the right steps towards better laws for the nation.

The judgements have not only made the citizens think of the judiciary with a positive outlook but also brought in a sense of hope for better reforms and justice for many in the future.

Here’s a list of some of the most impactful judgements made by the Supreme Court (SC), this year:

1. Women Free to Enter Sabrimala Temple

A five-judge constitutional bench, on September 28, ruled out the age-old ban on women from entering the Sabrimala Temple. According to the new ruling, women of all ages can enter the temple. The most surprising part is the only women member of the bench- Justice Indu Malhotra, voting against it.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 

Though the judgement sought a lot of backlash from the devotees, the SC stood its ground and said,

“Devotion cannot be subjected to gender discrimination.”

This decision by the SC set up new grounds for gender equality in the country.

2. Decriminalization of Section 377

On September 6, the SC won many hearts by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized any sexual activity “against the order of nature”. This also bracketed homosexuality as almost inhuman.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 

Justice Indu Malhotra, part of the five-judge bench said: “History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries. The members of this community were compelled to live a life full of fear of reprisal and persecution.”

3. Adultery no more a Criminal Offence

On September 27, the SC struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that addressed adultery as a criminal offence.

Photo Credit: One way faith

Chief justice Dipak Misra, after the judgement, said, “Husband is not the master of the wife, any law which affects individual dignity, equality of women in a civilised society invites the wrath of the Constitution.”

4. Supreme Court Hearings to be Live Streamed

The Supreme Court on September 26, in an effort to make court hearings transparent, ordered video recording and live streaming of SC trials.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Dipak Misra said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

The court has asked the centre to frame rules for the same. The court said this would help in maintaining and accountability of the court and will also serve a greater purpose of accessing justice.

5. Aadhar not Mandatory

The SC, on September 26, ruled that Aadhar was constitutional, but not mandatory. It said while Aadhar-PAN linking is mandatory, private companies cannot deman Aadhar as a compulsory identification card for any sort of interaction.

Photo Credit: flickr

This means mobile service providers, banks or any other organisation cannot demand Aadhar for the identity verification.

6. Nilgiri Hills to Become Resort-Free

In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the SC on August 9, asked the Tamil Nadu government to shut and seal 39 illegal resorts on the elephant corridor on the Nilgiri hills.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

With encroachment and construction, in the name of development, taking place all over the country, the flora and fauna is being affected. The Nilgiris being a UNESCO biosphere reserve, is home to more than 67000 elephants.

7. Sanction to Passive Euthanasia

The SC on March 9, sanctioned passive euthanasia, giving “living will” by patients to withdraw life support if they fall into an irreversible coma.

Photo Credit: flickr

On this judgement the Court said that a person had the right to “die with dignity” and it is not right to leave the patient suffering when they wish not to live anymore because of an irreversible coma.

8. Love Over Religion

The SC on March 8, upheld the Kerala High Court’s 2017 order to annul Hadiya and Shafin Jahan’s marriage.

Hadiya’s conversion from Akhila, a Hindu, to a Muslim and her subsequent marriage to Shafin Jahan had brought down a whirlwind of legal and religious controversy in Kerala. The controversy took place when her father alleged that she was being forced into Islam by her friends. The matter took a sharp turn when the Kerala High Court annulled the marriage but the SC later, discarding the annulment, said the court has no business intruding into someone’s personal life.

“Marriage and intimacy of personal relationships are the core of plurality in India,” said the Supreme Court.

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Nidhi Roy

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