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7 most talked about judgments by Supreme Court in 2015

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By Harshmeet Singh

The year 2015 can be rightly termed as the ‘year of judicial activism.’ With the Parliament facing disruptions all through the year, it was the Supreme Court that assumed the leading role in driving the country forward.

Before we enter into 2016 with high hopes, NewsGram brings you the seven most path-breaking judgments given by the Supreme Court in 2015.

  1. Jats don’t belong to the OBC

With an aim to appease the Jat community, the central government listed them under the OBC category in 9 states, giving them reservations in government jobs and educational institutes. Not pleased with this populist step, the Supreme Court struck down the government notification and sense prevailed.

  1. Supreme Court strikes down the Section 66A of Indian IT Act

Section 66A of the Indian IT Act was nothing short of draconian. It was widely used by the police to arrest innocent people for criticizing politicians online. The SC called it a violation of the fundamental right of liberty and freedom of expression and termed it ‘unconstitutional.’

  1. SC orders CBSE to conduct the AIPMT afresh

This year’s AIPMT was filled with allegations of cheating and fraud. Close to six and a half lakh aspirants appeared for the examination. While the CBSE argued that it will exclude the sheets of those found involved in cheating, rather than conducting the exam again, the SC didn’t buy this excuse. The judges said, “if such an examination is saved, merit would be a casualty generating a sense of frustration in genuine students, with aversion to the concept of examination.”

  1. SC declares NJAC unconstitutional and void

NJAC, which sought to take away the judiciary’s right to appoint judges to the High Court and the Supreme Court, remained in the news for the better part of the year. In October, the SC struck down the NJAC and called it ‘unconstitutional and void.’ The presiding judge said, “It is difficult to hold that the wisdom of appointment of judges can be shared with the political-executive. In India, the organic development of civil society, has not as yet sufficiently evolved. The expectation from the judiciary, to safeguard the rights of the citizens of this country, can only be ensured, by keeping it absolutely insulated and independent, from the other organs of governance.”

  1. Panel appointed by SC suspends Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from the IPL for 2 years

Ever since its inception, the IPL has been marred with serious allegations of spot fixing and match fixing. The SC-appointed panel suspended CSK and RR from IPL for a couple of years since their owners were found guilty of betting on the games and leaking the team’s information to the bookers.

  1. SC sentences Yakub Memon to death

In March this year, SC sentenced Yakub Abdul Razak Memon to death for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. Though he followed it up a number of review petitions, curative petitions, and mercy pleas, he was eventually hanged on 30th July 2015 in the Nagpur Jail. His death sentence was widely opposed by a number of social groups which accused the court and the government of being unfair to him.

  1. SC allows the Dance bars to be reopened

Putting on hold the Maharashtra Government’s ban on Mumbai’s dance bars, the Supreme Court allowed the dance bars to be reopened. Along with this, the SC also empowered the concerned authorities to regulate the dance performances which they find inappropriate.

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India Gets A Win, Supreme Court Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

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Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

 In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults by declaring Section 377, the penal provision which criminalised gay sex, as “manifestly arbitrary”.

In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional.

The bench said it is no longer an offence for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community to engage in consensual sex between two adults in private.

Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Misra said attitudes and mentality have to change to accept others’ identity and accept what they are, and not what they should be.

Homosexuality, India
LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow.
Pixabay

“It is the constitutional and not social morality which will prevail,” said the court.

The verdict sparked celebrations in the LGBTIQ community across India even as the judgment was being read out. Many of the community members who had assembled outside the apex court jumped in joy and distributed sweets.

Chief Justice Misra said consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice.

Section 377 will not apply to consensual same-sex acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals, lesbians, the court said, clarifying that sexual act without consent and bestiality will continue to be an offence under section 377.

“An individual has full liberty over his or her body and his or her sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice,” said the Chief Justice.

“Time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset. Time to empower LGBTIQ community against discrimination. They should be allowed to make their choices,” he added.

Homosexuality, India
In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional. Pixabay

 

In a concurring judgement, Justice Nariman said homosexuality is “not a mental disorder or disease”.

He said the LGBTIQ community has an equal right to live with dignity and are entitled to equal protection of law. He directed the Centre to give wide publicity to this judgment to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality.

Justice Chandrachud said to deny the LGBTIQ community their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy.

“They cannot be pushed into obscurity by an oppressive colonial legislation… Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding “the state has no business to intrude on such matters”.

Justice Indu Malhotra said that history owes an apology to the LGBTIQ community for all that they have suffered on account of the ignorance of the majority about homosexuality.

“LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow,” she said.

Homosexuality, India
People Participated in Hundreds for the Gay Pride Parade Held In Delhi.

The Supreme Court verdict, which overruled its own earlier judgment, assumes significance as in the earlier round of litigation in 2013, the top court had reversed a Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality.

The Delhi High Court bench, headed by then Chief Justice A.P. Shah, had in July 2009 legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults by overturning the 149-year-old law — finding it unconstitutional and a hurdle in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya in the Suresh Kumar Koushal and another vs Naz Foundation and others case, had set aside the high court’s judgment and said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

The matter was subsequently resurrected in July 2016, when a fresh petition was filed by members of the LGBTIQ community — dancer N.S. Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur — which was then marked to the Constitution Bench by a Division Bench.

Homosexuality, India
Gaydo, India’s first LGBTQ Radio Show

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The reference was made on the basis of submission that it was the first time that individuals directly affected by the provision were approaching the court.

Among the petitioners are a batch of current and former students of Indian Institutes of Technology. Claiming to represent more than 350 LGBTIQ alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs, the petitioners said that the existence of Section 377 had caused them “mental trauma and illnesses, such as clinical depression and anxiety and relegated some of them to second-class citizenship”. (IANS)