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Triple Talaq, Gay rights, Whatsapp ban: Re-opening day of Supreme Court promises action

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court of India will re-open tomorrow after its summer break. The summer break, which began on May 15, lasted for more than 6 weeks. The court will be hearing three important cases on the reopening day.

One case pertains to the Constitutionality of Muslim practices of polygamy, triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) and nikah halala. The Court had issued notice in this case on February 29 this year.

It is listed as item number 40 in Chief Justice’s court. Apart from Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice AM Khanwilkar, both recently elevated to the Supreme Court will be part of the Bench.

It is learnt that the Central government might not be opposing the petition while the Muslim Personal Law Board will oppose the petition.

The second important petition is a challenge to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. According to Times of India, this petition has been filed by dancer NS Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur. The petitioners have contended that Section 377 impedes their sexual preferences which is part and parcel of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The case is listed as item 25 in court 13 before a Bench of justices SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan.

The Constitutionality of the case is, however, already under the consideration by the Supreme Court in the curative petition filed against the 2013 judgment of the court. On February 2 this year, a 3-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had referred the curative petition challenging the Constitutionality of Section 377 to a Constitution Bench. The Chief Justice has not yet constituted the Bench to hear the matter.

The third case is a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on Whatsapp and other messenger services having end to end encryption. This petition, which has been filed by RTI activist Sudhir Yadav, has been listed as item 24 in the Chief Justice’ court.

Whatsapp had introduced end to end encryption in April. Sudhir’s stand is that he is not against the encryption per se but he wants the private key to be provided to the government so that the government can decrypt a message if it wants.

The three cases tomorrow will set the ball rolling in what is anticipated to be an eventful few months for the Supreme Court of India.