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The last week of September saw one of the busiest weeks this year in the Supreme Court of India. As many as 47 judgments were delivered by the Court, 20 of them coming from the court of the Chief Justice of India.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is set to retire from his position on October 2 which was one of the reasons why the week starting September 24 witnessed a flurry of judgments. Many of these judgments were rendered by Constitution Benches presided by CJI Misra.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the much talked about judgments delivered by the Supreme Court last week.
Candidates contesting elections cannot be disqualified on framing of charges
A Constitution Bench comprising CJI Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra ruled on September 25 that candidates contesting elections cannot be disqualified on the grounds that a charge sheet has been filed against them.
The Court, however, issued directions in this regard to ensure that the criminal antecedents of candidates contesting elections are put out in public domain and given wide publicity so as to inform the citizenry and electorate of the candidate’s credentials.
Additionally, the Court expressed hope that the Parliament would step in to take steps in order to decriminalise Indian Politics and ensure free and fair elections.
MPs, MLAs not barred from practicing law
A three-judge Bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud ruled that the Bar Council of India rules which prohibit a salaried person from practicing law do not bring under their ambit, MPs and MLAs. It was the petitioner’s prayer that for the duration that a person holds the position of an MP or that of an MLA, she must not be allowed to practice law in the spirit of Part VI of the Bar Council of India rules.
The three-judge Bench ruled against this prayer on September 25 and making it clear that MPs and MLAs cannot be brought under this ambit.
Three-member committee to look into prison reforms
A Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta ordered setting up of a three-member committee to look into issues plaguing Indian prisons, including overcrowding and lack of basic living conditions. The committee which is to be headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Amitava Roy is required to file its reports from time to time abd make recommendations for reformation of prisons in the country.
Reservation in Promotions: M Nagaraj need not be referred to 7-Judge Bench
A Constitution Bench of CJI Misra along with Justices Kurian Joseph, Rohinton Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra held that the M Nagaraj judgment of 2006, which deals with reservation in promotions for SC/ST communities, need not be referred to a larger Bench.
The Court, however, stated that the concept of creamy layer would apply to SC/ST also so far as promotions were concerned.
The Court also said that the direction in Nagaraj judgment which required State governments to collect quantifiable data to ascertain backwardness of a community is bad in law. However, the collection of quantifiable data for determining inadequacy of representation would continue to hold ground.
This judgment was delivered on September 26.
Supreme Court upholds Aadhaar, strikes down some provisions
The Aadhaar judgment which ran into 1448 pages, was one of the most talked about verdicts.
A Bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan upheld the validity of Aadhaar by 4:1 majority.
Justice Chandrachud was the lone dissenter while Justice Sikri penned the judgment on behalf of CJI Misra, Justice Khanwilkar and himself. Justice Bhushan wrote a separate opinion, concurring with the majority.
While Aadhaar was upheld in principle and for most purposes, linkage and requirement of Aadhaar with Mobile numbers and Bank accounts was struck down.
SC allows live streaming of cases of Constitutional importance
A three-judge Bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud allowed live streaming of cases of Constitutional importance. The Court provided directions for framing of guidelines to implement the pilot project.
The judgment was unanimous decision with two separate but concurring opinions penned by Justices Khanwilkar and Chandrachud.
Adultery no longer a Crime, Supreme Court strikes down Section 497 IPC
On September 27, the Constitution Bench presided by CJI Misra and consisting Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra unanimously struck down Section 497 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalised Adultery.
The law was found to be unconstitutional in four separate but concurring opinions and it was ruled that while Adultery remains a ground for civil remedy and dissolution of marriage, it cannot be held to be a criminal offence.
Supreme Court declines to refer Ram Mandir-Babri case to Constitution Bench
On September 27, a three-judge Bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer ruled by a 2:1 majority, that the question of a Mosque’s essentiality In Islam for offering Namaz need not be referred to a larger Bench.
Justice Bhushan wrote the majority judgment for himself and CJI Misra while Justice Nazeer dissented.
The ruling in the 1994 case of Ismail Farooqui vs Union of India was in question before the Bench with the Muslim parties claiming that the case needs to be reconsidered.
Supreme Court allows entry of women in Sabarimala temple
In another landmark ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 thereby paving the way for the entry of women into Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The entry of women between the ages 10 and 50 had been prohibited by the aforesaid Rule.
The Bench comprised CJI Dipak Misra along with Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. Justice Malhotra was the lone dissenter in this case while CJI Misra, Nariman J and Chandrachud J wrote separate concurring opinions.
Bhima Koregaon: SC declines to constitute SIT, DY Chandrachud J. dissents
In this case concerning the arrest of five lawyers/journalists/human rights activists relating to violence in Bhima Koregaon in January this year, the three-judge Bench refused, by a 2:1 majority, to constitute a Special Investigation Team to probe the matter. Justice AM Khanwilkar wrote the judgment for himself and CJI Dipak Misra while Justice DY Chandrachud dissented.