Supreme Court judgements that were bold enough to change the imprudent laws

Once again Judiciary proved to be the most reliable pillar of the democracy as the Supreme Court on Monday delivered a landmark judgement by upholding the death penalty to the rapists of the horrific Nirbhaya rape incident which happened in December 2012. A three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and R Bhanumathi upheld the death sentence given to three of four convicts (three filed the review petition).

Yes, in India justice are often delayed but not denied. Here are some landmark judgement verdicts by the Apex court:

Khap Panchayat Verdict (2018)

In a landmark judgement to prevent Honour Killings, the Supreme Court said that Khap panchayats, the self-appointed village courts, cannot stop a marriage between two consenting adults.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra warned khap panchayats “not to be conscience keepers” and said nobody should interfere if two adults want to get married.

The Supreme Court has asked the state governments to identify districts, sub-divisions and/or villages where instances of honour killing or assembly of Khap Panchayats have been reported in the last five years.

NOTA (2013)

In 2013 the Supreme Court granted voters NOTA i.e. ‘None of the above’ options while casting their vote, which gave the citizens of India a ‘Right to Negative Vote’ if they feel that candidates standing for election are not suitable and do not deserve their vote.

As per the Court, the ‘Negative voting will lead to systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates. If the right to vote is a statutory right, then the right to reject candidate is a fundamental right of speech and expression under Constitution’.

Section 377 (2014)

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The judgement on section 377 is the landmark judgement of the supreme court of India in 2014. As per Section 377 of IPC, Gay sex is a punishable offence, irrespective of age and consent where punishment is ‘life term’ sentence. Later, High Court passed a landmark judgment which cancelled Section 377 quoting that it is unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults. Later, the SC ruled out the High Court’s order but it left the onus on Parliament for final consideration on keeping it or amending it.

The landmark judgment passed by Supreme Court now recognises the status of transgender as the Third Gender, where this category has to be treated under minorities and thus, should hold reservation quota in jobs, education and amenities. But, Section 377 still exists and is applicable to gay sex. In one of the recent supreme court judgement, the court has again asked to re-examine the constitutionality of Section 377 in light of the changing societal norms.

ALSO READ: ‘India’s Daughter’ gets justice: SC upholds death sentence for the rapists

Dance Bars reopened after Two-year ban (2013)

The Government of Maharashtra shut all the dance bars across the state by announcing that dance bars were corrupting youth and creating havoc. This caused unemployment to over 75000 girls, which led them to abandon the state or choosing the course of prostitution. Though, Bombay High Court allowed the opening of the dance bars on the ground that it is a violation of Article 19 of the constitution i.e. Right to carry one’s profession.

Even after the appeal was made by Civil Lawyers before Supreme Court by the state government against the order of the High court, the Supreme Court’s judgment stayed the order of Bombay High Court. The ban was lifted and allowed the reopening of dance bars after two-years.

Section 66A (use of social media)(2013)

Supreme Court judgment for use of social media is landmark judgement that changed India. A plea was made by Shreya Singhal before the Supreme Court against an arrest of a social activist under IT Act on a complaint filed by MLA of Andhra Pradesh through Criminal Lawyers.

The Supreme Court passed the verdict in favour of petitioner stating that no arrest should be made for posting objectionable comments on social media websites without prior consent and approval from a senior police officer of the rank of Inspector General.

Cancer Drug to be cheap (2013)

Novartis, Swiss-based Pharma Company applied for exclusive patent rights of manufacturing cancer drug, Glivec, claiming that substances used in the drug were their invention and thereby restrained Indian companies from manufacturing it as a common medicine.

The plea was moved by top Civil Lawyers before the Supreme Court and after 7 long years, the Supreme Court ended the patent battle, by dismissing the plea. The rejection was made to emphasize that life-threatening disease should be cheaper for easy availability to common people.

Suspending the Sale of Acid (2013)

The acid attack Supreme Court judgment was passed in consideration to increasing acid attack cases, the Supreme Court made a decision and ordered the National and State Governments to govern the sale of acids in India. The sale should be made only after the buyer provides the seller with its valid ID proof. Additionally, the buyer has to explain the purpose and such sales have to be reported to the area policed by the vendors. The Supreme Court in its important judgment has also asked for the responses from the chief secretaries of the governments on rendering free-of-cost treatment to acid attack victims.

Minor rape victim allowed abortion (2015)

In 2015 a 14-year-old rape survivor from the state of Gujarat appealed before the Supreme Court against the order of State High Court which denied the permission to terminate the pregnancy.

Supreme Court in a landmark judgment overturned the decision of the High Court by allowing abortion if the clinical psychologists and gynaecologists allow the same.

The Indian judiciary is proactive in ensuring that the common man gets prompt justice.

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