20 verdicts in five days: Hectic week for Supreme Court comes to an end

The cases decided in the week of September 22-28 covered a range of issues — criminalisation of politics, discrimination in India’s old adultery law, religious aspect of Ram Janambhoomi title dispute, civil liberties of activists, legality of Aadhaar and bar on entry of women in Sabarimala.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2018 09:57 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,adultery,Ram Janambhoomi
Legal experts and advocates say the flurry of verdicts seen over the last five days by the Supreme Court has been unprecedented. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The Supreme Court’s Friday judgment striking down the bar on the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 into the Sabrimala Temple in Kerala marked the end of a hectic week that saw benches led by outgoing Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, delivering 20 verdicts over five days.

The cases decided in the week of September 22-28 covered a range of issues — from the criminalisation of politics to the discrimination inherent in India’s old adultery law, from the religious aspect of the Ram Janambhoomi title dispute to the civil liberties of activists, and from the legality of the government’s ambitious identification project to the bar on the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 into the Sabarimala temple.

On September 26, the CJI-led bench delivered nine judgments, including the closely watched Aadhaar verdict and the path-breaking order allowing live-streaming of court proceedings.

On September 27, the CJI wrote the judgment striking down the country’s archaic adultery law that treated “husbands as masters”.

On September 25, in his judgment on petitions seeking to ban charge-sheeted politicians from contesting elections, the CJI expressed concern at the rising criminalization of politics but said it was not for the court to lay down such rules and parliament was the right authority to deal with the matter.

Justice Misra was also part of the five-judge bench that upheld the Aadhaar project. Although he did not write the verdict in this matter he concurred with the majority verdict written by justice A K Sikri.

Legal experts and advocates say that the flurry of verdicts seen over the last five days has been unprecedented.

“I haven’t seen an outgoing Chief Justice of India deliver so many judgments in the last week of his office. But it also has to be seen in the backdrop that he led benches that have heard so many important issues in the last year. And understand that these judgments are going to have far-reaching consequences,” said advocate Anil Mishra of the Supreme Court.

Advocate Sunil Fernandes, too, termed the development rare. “Seeing the work load Justice Misra picked up in the last few months, this was bound to happen. He was also part of many constitutional matters. Full credit for what he has done in the last week. He has left his mark on history and will be remembered for playing a role in the constitutional development.”

Justice Misra retires as the CJI on October 2, which gives him just one more working day as the top judge.

On October 1, he will sit in court 1 as the CJI but share the bench with the Chief Justice of India-designate, Ranjan Gogoi. Justice Ranjan Gogoi will be the first judge from the Northeast to become the CJI. He will have a tenure of 13 months.

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 23:21 IST