All eyes are on the Supreme Court to hold the ideals of the Constitution up and declare FGM an offence. It is about time that India joins the international movement against FGM and that the law protects its citizens from such heinous violation of human rights and bodily integrity.
Now that the Section 377, IPC has been read down, the conservative communal elements are targeting sexual minorities by resorting to cunning ways to reinforce regressive social morality over constitutional morality. The Navtej judgment might be a positive and much required step forward, however there are laws like the Beggary Acts of different States, Section 36A of Karnataka Police Act, 1963, which still has the potential to victimise trans-women, and Karnataka Dramatic Performances Act, 1964, which gives immense power to State machineries.
Now the matter will be heard on January 22, 2019 in the open court to enable the petitioners in the review petitions to present oral arguments to make out the case for the review of the decision of the Supreme Court permitting women’s into Sabarimala temple.
The Supreme Court’s equality jurisprudence now needs to be extended and applied towards existing patriarchal structures within the home and the family. And what better place to start that the antiquated notion of restitution of conjugal rights – Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 – where the courts are directly complicit in upholding and perpetuating patriarchy.
The overarching challenge to Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 itself is currently pending adjudication before a five-judge Constitution Bench, raising a total 13 questions and striking at the root of the Assam Accord 1985. The policy prerogative of the Union Government to either grant or withdraw citizenship to any class of persons will inevitably come under the scanner. The stand of the Union must shift from divisive electoral rhetoric and be subjected to the constitutional test.
The powerful and praiseworthy dissents of judges like HR Khanna, M Hidayatullah have always spoken in the favour of protecting the sanctity of Part III of the Constitution while the dissent of Justice Indu Malhotra puts restrictions on the bounds of Article 14 of the Constitution. The non-application of Article 14 in religious matters would go against the very basic principles of the Constitution.
Since the challenge in Ismail Faruqui was based upon the argument, inter alia, that a mosque cannot be acquired and the observations made by the Constitution Bench were in the context of acquisition only and are not to be read broadly, nor will have any effect whatsoever upon the present appeals against the 2010 High Court verdict, the apprehensions of the Muslim side, upon whom reference of Ismail Faruqui to a larger bench was sought, stands addressed to a large extent.
The stark difference between the majority judgment authored by Justice AM Khanwilkar and signed on by the then CJI Dipak Misra and the one written by Justice D Y Chandrachud outline how starkly divergent Supreme Court’s understanding of a complex political and legal issue that is the Bhima Koregaon arrests and the subsequent case hearing can be. While Justice Chandrachud’s judgment is a fine example of constitutional morality, the same simply be not said of the other.
CJI Dipak Misra is perhaps the first Chief Justice of India in recorded history who has had to face a proposed motion for removal under Article 124 of the Constitution of India. That said, his legacy is a bag of highs and lows, with many failures on the administrative side that led to allegations of Executive interference into the Judiciary, while being a judge whose sensitivity towards gender justice remains unparalleled in the history of the Supreme Court.
Mob lynching in India in many cases has received the sanction of the State, just like how the U.S. Senate kept silent while thousands of African Americans were lynched over many decades. To recognise the deep-seated abhorrence in the society, and calling it what it is, that is “lynching”, sends a very powerful message that criminal acts of hatred are not tolerated in an equitable society.
The right to privacy squarely includes an individual’s right to make a moral choice, whether it is with regards to marriage, food, attire, ideology or religion, inter alia. While there is not much judicial discourse on this essential right against moral paternalism, the Kerala High Court recently passed a remarkable judgment recognising an individual’s right against moral paternalism.