The year bygone has been a melting pot of sorts of heterogeneous opinions, emotions and reactions, for the land that took a lead in unveiling the tallest statue in the world… what a focused achievement that changed our lives, given that we also topped the charts with the highest number of undernourished children in the world!
Events that constituted the year invoked both angst and revelry, caused both relief and anxiety, and led to both jubilation and protests. What did, however, make even the unsurest of social media users share their internet-bequeathed knowhow of the turn of events, and to be fair, what also led to a progressive shift (finally) in India, were some of the landmark judgments of 2018 by the Supreme Court, some (unanimously-agreed-upon) reformative, some flustering, and some long overdue.
While it’s important we acknowledge these judgments because they symbolise the beginning of a productive change, one can’t help but ponder over the futility of the court’s precious time spent on adjudicating upon some issues, which should have ideally never been a bone of contention. Who we marry, who we choose to be with, how we choose to worship are some choices so personal that legal recourse in such matters is nothing short of irony. Having said that, credit must be given where it’s due, so here’s a list of some of our cherished judgements, basis which we felt the apex court triggered some social hope with its vision of what is fundamental, and how!
1. Decriminalising Sec 377 of IPC, because who you choose to have sex with is no one’s business but yours.
Bidding adieu to prejudices (as ex-Chief Justice of India, Deepak Misra pointedly stated), the Supreme Court on 6 September, lifted the age-old archaic ban on gay sex, thus decriminalizing Sec 377 of IPC. Pride colours of celebration lit up India, thanks to a verdict that should have ideally been a personal choice, bereft of any legal interference. The judgment was a milestone for India, none the less. What now needs to be ascertained over a period of time is, how much of a social impact this verdict has had on an otherwise profusely conservative mindset of a society that reeks of convention, stigma and log kya kahenge.
2. Sabarimala verdict, because women in the age bracket of 10 to 50 are NOT ‘impure’, whether they’re bleeding or not.
What was hailed as a milestone in the race to achieve gender equality, and, (much to the chagrin of women at large), opposed by the only female judge in the constitutional bench of 5 honourable justices of the Supreme Court, was the September 28 verdict, that allowed the entry of women between the ages 10 to 50 inside the Sabarimala temple of Kerala. Of course, ‘progress’, ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’ are such hard-to-swallow pills for the majority of our country, that it came as no surprise when mindless protests condemning the verdict, ensued. But the fact that the legal machinery’s decision to finally disassociate the ‘stigma’ around period blood with the right to worship, was a cause for celebration (at least for some of us), just reinforces how much we need to catch up in the race of evolution.
Kudos to the Supreme Court for taking our lungs into consideration, for how, would a severely asthmatic person like me even recollect and celebrate the propriety of these judgements, without the ability to breathe! On 23 October, right ahead of Diwali, the apex court banned the sale of firecrackers online, while allowed the sale of only ‘environment-friendly firecrackers’, which supposedly do not contain the harmful chemicals that cause air pollution. It also allowed fireworks only between 8 pm to 10 pm on the day of Diwali (like anyone cared). Of course, allowing only green crackers only mitigates the issue of ‘severely toxic air’, and the enthusiasm of our very law-abiding citizens only ensures terrible implementation. But at least a thought, rather proceeding, was spared to revamp Delhi/NCR’s atmosphere, which alone is a breath of fresh air… quite literally… well almost.
4. The Hadiya verdict, and right to marry the person of one’s own choice. Thank You!
Adding to the list of progressive judgments of 2018, was the Hadiya verdict, pronounced by Justice Chandrachud, the Judge of the year we’ve all been collectively crushing on. The order of the Kerala High Court, which invalidated the marriage of Hadiya and Shefin Jahan, was set aside in April by the Supreme Court, which aptly stated that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution”. Earnestly hoping that this judgment manages to trigger positive changes in the social mindset too, to accept what frankly is too personal to even allow social mindset to butt in.
5. Live-streaming of Supreme Court Proceedings, because WHY NOT?
‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant’, and I suppose so is transparency for a democracy which is on the verge of being a ‘democracy-no more’. Justice Misra stated the former, and thus, pushing for greater accountability and trust in the judicial system, the Supreme Court on 26 September, decided in favour of live streaming of court cases, finally taking into consideration the petition, that those affected by a judgment should be aware of the proceedings that adjudicated for or against them, which, frankly, is only fair.