In 2018, there were several landmark verdicts by the Supreme Court of India. As Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, who retires on Monday, presided over benches of judges that pronounced verdicts such as opening the doors of Sabarimala temple in Kerala to women, legalising homosexuality, decriminalising adultery and giving assent to Aadhaar but with checks.
Justice Misra appeared to be emotional today during the brief court proceedings that lasted about 25 minutes.
Here are a few of his landmark verdicts as he steps down:
January 18, 2018: Padmaavat Ban Stayed:
As many Rajput outfits across the country held protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic costume drama Padmaavat to be banned from screening, CJI Misra put a stay on the ban of the film.
“Creative freedom, freedom of speech and expression can’t be guillotined... artistic freedom has to be protected,” Misra said as he delivered the verdict and asked states to ensure the release of the movie.
March 8, 2018: Shafin-Hadiya Marriage:
The bench headed by justice Misra restored Shafin Jahan and Hadiya’s marriage after the Kerala High Court annulled their marriage and ordered a probe into a possible ‘love jihad’ angle to the marriage solemnised.
“We hold that the HC should not have annulled the marriage between Shafin Jahan and Hadiya, in a habeas corpus under Article 226 of the Constitution. We say so because, in the present appeal, we had directed the personal presence of Hadiya; she appeared before us on November 27, 2017, and admitted to her marriage with Jahan,” the bench said while delivering the verdict.
July 9, 2018: Nirbhaya Case:
A woman was gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in South Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She succumbed to injuries on December 29, 2012, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
The apex court dismissed pleas filed by three out of the four convicts seeking review of its verdict upholding the death penalty awarded to them in the sensational case.
July 17, 2018: Laws Against Mob Lynching:
"Horrendous acts of mobocracy" cannot be allowed to overrun the law of the land, the Supreme Court said and asked Parliament to consider enacting a new law to sternly deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, warning that such incidents may rise like a "Typhon-like monster" across the country, a bench headed by chief justice Misra and comprised of Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
September 6, 2018: Section 377 Scraped:
In a landmark verdict for the LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer) community in India, the Supreme Court legalised gay sex, lifting the ban on homosexuality.
While announcing the first judgement, Dipak Misra said that the LGBTQ community has the same fundamental right as others and the identity of an individual is very important. "The prejudice and social stigma still affect a certain section of the society," Misra said, adding that morality cannot be equated with popular sentiments.
September 26, 2018: Aadhaar constitutionally valid:
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of India's ambitious biometric identity project 'Aadhaar', saying it benefits the marginalised and poor, but raised multiple concerns around the law that governs it, particularly concerning privacy and called for a raft of changes.
A five-judge bench headed by Misra benefits under the Aadhaar project should be in the nature of welfare schemes and it cannot be made compulsory for services such as bank accounts, mobile connections or school admissions.
“Aadhaar is serving a much larger public interest … marginalised section of society will get the benefits. Let there be minimal collection of data,” the court ruled.
September 26, 2018: Courts To Allow Live-streaming Of Proceedings:
The Apex Court agreed to live-stream and record court proceedings, adding that necessary rules for balancing rights of public and protecting dignity of litigants will be placed soon.
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant", the bench headed by Misra said while allowing live streaming of court proceedings.
Live-streaming of court proceedings will effectuate the "public right to know" and bring in more transparency in judicial proceedings, the court said.
September 26, 2018: Verdict On SC/ST Job Promotion Quota:
The Supreme Court said its 2006 verdict putting benefits of quotas in job promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) employees need not be referred to a seven-judge bench.
The apex court also turned down the Centre's plea that overall population of SC/ST be considered for granting quota for them. The unanimous judgement was pronounced by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Misra. The bench also added states need not collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SC/ST for giving quota in job promotion to SC/ST employees.
September 27, 2018: Adultery No Longer A Crime:
The Supreme Court ruled that adultery is no longer a criminal act. With the historic ruling, a five-judge bench of the court has unanimously overturned a 158-year-old law, encompassed in Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that states any man who had sex with a married woman without the consent of her husband was guilty of the criminal offence of adultery.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who read the judgement, said, “Adultery can be ground for civil issues including dissolution of marriage but it cannot be a criminal offence.”
September 27, 2018: Ayodhya Dispute:
The bench rejected the plea that a five-member bench should look into the 1994 observation of the court that mosque was not integral to Islam, on the ground that the earlier ruling was made in the context of acquiring areligious place, in relation to the Ayodhya dispute case.
September 28, 2018: Entry of Women Into Sabarimala Temple:
As his last judgement in the Supreme Court, a bench headed by Dipak Misra allowed the entry of women of all ages in Kerala's Sabarimala temple and said the subversion of women under biological factors cannot be given legitimacy.
While pronouncing the judgement, the court said, the discrimination of women based on biological factors cannot be constitutionally sustainable.
In early September, Justice Dipak Misra in a letter to the centre recommended Justice Ranjan Gogoi as his successor. Justice Gogoi will be sworn in as the next CJI on October 3, a day after Justice Misra's tenure ends.