The Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services Act, popularly known as Aadhaar Act was introduced and passed as a money bill, in 2016, to give it legislative backing. However, the enlisting of people by the UIDAI, the nodal agency for Aadhaar, had started way back in 2009, by executive order. The government conceptualised the biometric identification proof, and gradually, made it compulsory. It was claimed that this was done in order to infringe upon the privacy of citizens and convert the country into a surveillance state.
This resulted in at least 30 challenges to the law in the apex court. The court gave the interim judgment, prohibiting the government from making it compulsory. The government didn’t listen, and by the time the final judgement came, it had implemented more than 2o centrally sponsored schemes, besides dozens of state schemes, using Aadhaar; enrolling in its database a hundred crore people.
To abrogate Article 35-A and Article 370, the GOI passed the J&K reorganisation Act. At present, 18 petitions are pending before the Supreme court, challenging the government’s move. The court has not given any interim respite and hence the law is very much in place, furthering the government’s agenda. Meanwhile, degradation of the constitutional position of the state was completed, and the state was reconstituted as Union Territory of J&K and the Union territory of Ladakh, after the deadline of 30th October.
To criminalise Triple Talaq, the government passed the Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill. At present, 4 petitions are pending before the Supreme Court, challenging the government’s move. The court has not given any interim respite and hence the law is very much in place, furthering another government agenda.
The government introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill in its previous term, which lapsed after it failed to pass in the Upper House. They are planning to reintroduce the bill in the winter session. Given the majority the government has been able to achieve since, the bill is expected to pass, and surely, like other similar discriminatory laws, it will land in court.
It is most likely that the court will not give any interim respite, and hence, the law will remain very much in place; and by the time the judgement comes, a lot of damage would have been done.
In the case of Babri Masjid, things may turn out the same. A judgement in favour of Muslims would compel the government to overturn it through a legislative enactment, which would land the matter once again in court. Now, given the sensitivity of the matter, whether the court would put an immediate stay on any construction activity remains to be seen. For once the law is enacted, no time would be lost before construction would start. Any delay and the construction of the temple would achieve irreversible milestones and create further legal hassles. In the event of the other possibility i.e. the verdict being in favour of the Hindus, there is nothing stopping the temple from coming up at the disputed site. In both cases, it will be a record low for the Indian judiciary. Not for the government. Not for the people. But for the judiciary. And not for the first time indeed. That we never took notice of the falling credibility of the Supreme court, is our own sin.
Recently, The Supreme court of India came under some strict scrutiny when the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement criticising the delay in adjudication of petitions raising fundamental rights violation in Kashmir.
The UN watchdog, in a scathing remark, raised some serious issues of law that need to be answered by the Supreme Court of India. It questioned why the lockdown in Kashmir was not tested on grounds of reasonable restrictions, even when it had been over 80 days since it came into effect.
It states that the curtailment of fundamental rights of an entire people was not a necessary, and proportionate response, and questions the preventive detention of the entire Kashmiri leadership without proper justification. The statement is also critical of the manner in which the law was passed, without any consultation with the people of the state, and on the basis of which the state has been reorganised. Not least for the supreme court, it points out the violence committed by the security forces and highlights the adverse use of pellet guns.
If only the court was listening.