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Often argued to be one of the most stagnant judicial systems in the world, the Indian Judiciary has been subjected to a negative outlook by the common man. With a number of pending litigations higher than the number of cases disposed of by the court, the hope of getting timely or any justice at all from the Indian courts has been desolate.
However, the contemporary decisions by the apex court has proven that the judiciary is finally realising its responsibility of timely and progressive justice towards the citizens. Judgments are the formal opinions of an authority or the final decisions of a court. The Indian Judiciary is has been endowed with colossal powers and the Supreme Court holds the chief place in the Indian Judiciary. It has the power to overrule any subordinate court's decision and declare a law unconstitutional.
The apex court recently passed some historic judgments that have altered the way Indian society is evolving. Here are 8 important judgments by the apex court that not only have changed the laws but also the society’s outlook and depict that the court has become an insignia of change:
Right to privacy: The Supreme Court of India asserted that right to privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. In a tug of war between privacy and Aadhaar biometric project, privacy has prevailed with 9:0 majority of the constitutional bench!
Triple Talaq: The Supreme court has held that the Muslim practice of Triple Talaq is ultra vires of the Constitution. Recognising the unconstitutionality of the practice and its detrimental effects on women, the apex court has struck it down.
Red Beacons: Calling it the ‘antithesis of the very concept of a Republic’, the Supreme Court banned the Lal Batti or Red Beacon culture. After its implementation, the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India cannot use a red beacon on their vehicles.
The Third Gender: Giving them the status of minority, the Supreme Court recognised transgenders as the third gender. Along with this, the court also passed an order to consider them as educationally backward section and offer augmentation in the field of education, jobs and other such amenities. The court also highlighted the need to remove stigma through government-initiated welfare schemes.
Ban on entry of women in temples: After the Mumbai court’s decision that it was a fundamental right of women to enter and perform rituals in Shani Shignapur temple, the Supreme Court passed a decision that the Indian temples have no constitutional right to restrict women from entering.
Liquor shops near National Highways: The court implemented a complete ban on all liquor shops situated within 500 metres of National and State Highways as a measure to improve road safety and suppress the problem of drunken driving. After recent developments, the court clarified that the highway liquor ban imposed is not applicable to licensed bars and beverage outlets that are functional within municipal areas.
Sovereignty of Jammu & Kashmir: The Supreme Court overruled the decision of Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s view that the state’s Constitution was at par with the Indian Constitution. The apex court also set aside the High Court’s decision in which, the court declared that the provisions of Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFESI) Act, 2002 did not fall under the ambit of Parliament’s legislative competence as they clashed with Section 140 of the Transfer of Property Act of Jammu & Kashmir, 1920.
National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET): The National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) has been under Judiciary’s radar since 2016. Initially, the Supreme Court passed an order to conduct the 2016 test in two phases. Recently, the court directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to submit an affidavit regarding a common examination paper for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
After a long and bitter journey of conservative decisions, the Indian Judiciary is showing tremendous changes in the way it perceives justice sought and expected by the masses. It is proving to be a time when the courts are employing their powers to remould the Indian society into a more accepting and open-minded one.