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Important Judgements


Pending Judgements


  • Constitutionality of Abortion of Laws (Swati Agarwal v. Union of India): The Supreme Court will decide if Sections 3 & 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (‘MTP Act’) violate Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.

  • Maratha Reservation (Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v. Chief Minister, Maharashtra): The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to the constitutional validity of Maharashtra’s Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, which grants the reservation to the Maratha community.

        (Update: judgement pronounced on 5th May, 2021. It held that the 50% limit on reservations should not be            reconsidered. They held that the 102nd Constitutional Amendment did take away States' powers to identify            backward classes. Only the President can notify a list that identifies them which Parliament can amend                    thereafter.

        States can only make recommendations. However, until that notification is published, which should          be          done expeditiously, the existing setup would continue.)

  • Scheduled Castes & Preferential Treatment (State of Punjab v. Davinder Singh): The question before the Supreme Court is whether State Legislation can give preferential treatment to specific castes within the Scheduled Castes.

  • EWS Reservation (Youth for Equality v. Union of India): Several writ petitions have challenged the constitutionally of the Constitution (One hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, which introduces reservations for Economically weaker section

  • Challenge to Transgender Person Act (Swati Bidhan Baruah v. Union of India): The Supreme Court is deciding whether the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 violates fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15,16,19 & 21 of the Constitution

  • Sabarimala Review (Kantaru Rajeevaru v. Indian Young Lawyers’ Association): The Supreme Court is reviewing its 2018 judgement wherein it declared unconstitutional the Sabarimala Temple’s practice of excluding women of a ‘menstruating age’.

  • Judicial Vacancies in the Lower Courts (Suo Motu Petition): The Supreme Court is monitoring steps taken by High Courts & State Governments to fill vacant judicial posts in the District & Subordinate Courts.

  • POCSO Implementation (In: Re Alarming Rise in the Number of Reported Child Rape Incidents): The Court is framing guidelines and issuing directions to ensure the prompt delivery of justice for victims of child sexual abuse.

  • Article 370 (Manohar Lal Sharma v. Union of India): The Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of the presidential orders that did away with Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status. It will also rule on the constitutionality of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which bifurcated the State into two Union Territories.

  • Aadhaar Ordinance (S G Vombatkere v. Union of India): The Supreme Court will decide the constitutional validity of the 2019 Aadhaar Ordinance and Regulations.

  • Aadhaar- Social Media Linking (Facebook Inc.  v. Union of India): The Supreme Court must decide whether to transfer to itself cases regarding mandatory Aadhaar -social media linking, currently pending before three High Courts.

  • Rohingya Deportation (Mohammad Salimullah v. Union of India): The Supreme Court will review whether the Union can deport Rohingya Refugees, a Muslim minority from Myanmar, back to Myanmar, the country of their persecution.

  • Azam Khan - Freedom of Speech and Expression (Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh): This case will decide whether the right to free speech and expression, especially of those in public office may be curtailed by the right to dignity.

  • Electoral Bonds (Association for Democratic Reforms v. Union of India): The Supreme Court is deciding whether the current electoral bonds scheme facilitates anonymous corporate funding to political parties and whether it was wrongly certified as a Finance Act.

  • Constitutionality of Muslim Marriage Laws (Sameena Begum v. Union of India): Several Public Interest Litigation (PILs) challenge the constitutional validity of polygamy, nikah halala and other related Muslim marriage practices.

  • Muslim Women’s Right to Pray in Mosques (Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade & Anr. Vs Union of India): The Supreme Court will decide whether practices prohibiting the entry of women into mosques violates the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution and whether such a right can be enforced against non-state actors in view of the judgement of the Constitution Bench in the Sabarimala Temple Entry case.

  • Constitutionality of Article 35A (We the Citizens v. Union of India): The Supreme Court will decide if the laws of Jammu and Kashmir relating to permanent residency place unconstitutional restrictions on fundamental rights. Specifically, the court will look at the validity of Article 35A of the Constitution of India, 1950 and Article 6 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, 1956

  • WhatsApp-Facebook Privacy (Karmanya Singh Sareen v. Union of India): This case concerns the privacy policy of WhatsApp which is an internet messaging service. The privacy policy permits WhatsApp to share data with Facebook and all its group companies for the purposes of commercial advertising and marketing. The privacy policy has been challenged as being violative of the right to privacy.


Decided Judgements

  • Sabarimala Temple Entry (Indian Young Lawyers’ Association v. State of Kerala): The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the Sabarimala Temple’s custom of prohibiting women in their ‘menstruating years from entering. Currently, review petitions challenging the judgement are pending.

  • Decriminalisation of Adultery (Joseph Shine v. UOI): The Court decriminalized adultery, striking down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

  • Arrested Activists (Romila Thapar v. UOI): The Court evaluated the arrests of five human rights activists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the Maharashtra Police. The Police accused the activists of involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence and sedition.

  • Cow Vigilantism (Tehseen Poonawala v. UOI; Tushar Gandhi v. UOI): 17th July 2018, the Court delivered its judgement, issuing guidelines to curb acts of cow vigilantism. The Court did not address the question of the Constitutional validity of immunity provisions of cow vigilantes.

  • Constitutionality of Section 377 IPC (Navtej Singh Johar vs.; Akkai Padmashali vs. UOI): On 6th September 2018 a five-judge Bench unanimously struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, to the extent that it crimalised same-sex relations between consenting adults. LGBT individuals are now legally allowed to engage in consensual intercourse. The Court upheld provisions in Section 377 that criminalise non-consensual acts or sexual acts performed on animals

  • Special Status of Delhi (Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India): The Court judged that the Chief Minister and not the Lieutenant Governor (LG) is the executive head of the National Capital Territory (NCT) government. Hence, the LG is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers on all matters where the Delhi Assembly has the powers to make laws.

  • Euthanasia, Living Wills, and the Right to Die with Dignity (Common Cause  v. UOI): A Constitution Bench decided that the right to life with dignity under Article 21 includes a right to die with dignity.

  • Exception to Rape within Child Marriages (Independent Thought v. UOI): On 11th September 2017, the Supreme Court increased the age of consent for sexual intercourse within marriages to 18. Prior to the ruling, sexual acts by husband on his wife, where the wife was above 15 years of age, did not constitute rape for the purpose of criminal law. This led to a legal anomaly as the age of consent is 18 years, both in the Indian Penal Code and various special statutes enacted for children, notably POCSO.

  • Fundamental Right to Privacy (Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. UOI): The Supreme Court held that a fundamental right to privacy is guaranteed under the constitution of India.

  • Arunachal Pradesh President’s Rule (Nabam Rebia v. Deputy Speaker): The Supreme Court settled the question of governor’s discretion & the scope of judicial review over governor’s functions.

  • Defamation as Criminal Offence (Subramanian Swamy v. UOI): The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the criminal offence of defamation under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.

  • Constitutionality of Criminal Contempt (N Ram & Ors v. UOI): N Ram, Prashant Bhushan and Arun Shourie filed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of s.2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971, which describes criminal contempt as any matter which ‘scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court’

  • RTI & Judicial Independence (Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Aggarwal): The Supreme Court held that the need for judicial independence does not stand in contradiction with that for transparency.

  • Reservation in Promotion (Jarnail Singh & Ors vs. Lacchmi Narai Gupta & Ors): The Court looked into whether reservations for SCs and STs should extend to promotions, by assessing its 2006 Nagraj Judgement.

  • Re-promulgation of Ordinances (Krishna Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar): A 7-judge constitution bench has held that unfettered re-promulgation of ordinances is not permissible by the constitution.


Landmark Judgements

  • A.K. Gopalan Case (1950): SC contented that there was no violation of Fundamental Rights enshrined in Articles 13,19, 21, and 22 under the provisions of the Preventive Act, if the detention was as per the procedure established by law. Here, the SC took a narrow view of Article 21.

  • Shankari Prasad Case (1951): This case dealt with the amendability of Fundamental Rights (the First Amendment’s validity was challenged). The SC contended that the Parliaments power to amend under Article 368 also includes the power to amend the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in Part III of the constitution.

  • Berubari Union Case (1960): This case was regarding the Parliament’s power to transfer the territory of Berubari to Pakistan. The Supreme Court examined Article 3 in detail and held that the Parliament cannot make laws under this article in order to execute the Nehru-Noon agreement. Hence, the 9th Amendment Act was passed to enforce the agreement.

  • Golaknath Case (1967): The questions in this case were whether amendment is a law; and whether Fundamental Rights can be amended or not. SC not contented that Fundamental Rights are not amenable to the Parliamentary restriction as stated in Article 13, and that to amend the Fundamental Rights a new Constituent Assembly would be required. Also stated that Article 368 gives the procedure to amend the constitution but does not confer on Parliament the power to amend the Constitution.

  • Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973): This judgement defined the basic structure of the Constitution. The SC held that although no part of the Constitution, including Fundamental Rights, was beyond the Parliament’s amending power, the basic structure of the constitution could not be abrogated even by a constitutional amendment”. This is the basis in Indian law in which the judiciary can strike down any amendment passed by Parliament that is in conflict with the basic structure of the Constitution.

  • Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain Case (1975): The SC applied the theory of basic structure and struck down Clause (4) of article 329-A, which was inserted by the 39th Amendment in 1975 on the grounds that it was beyond the Parliament’s amending power as it destroyed the Constitution’s basic features.

  • Maneka Gandhi Case (1978): A main issue in this case whether the right to go abroad is a part of the Right to Personal Liberty under Article 21. The SC also ruled that is included in the Right to Personal Liberty. The SC also ruled that the mere existence of an enabling law was not enough to restrain personal liberty. Such a law must also be “just, fair and reasonable”.

  • Minerva Mills Case (1980): This case again strengthens the Basic Structure doctrine. The judgement struck down 2 changes made to constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act 1976, declaring them to be violative of the basic structure. The judgement makes it clear that the Constitution, not the Parliament is supreme.

  • Waman Rao Case (1981): The SC again reiterated the Basic Structure doctrine. It also drew a line of demarcation as April 24th, 1973 i.e.,’ the date of the Kesavananda Bharati judgement, and held that it should not be applied retrospectively to reopen the validity of any amendment to the Constitution which took place prior to that date.

  • Shah Bano Begum case (1985): Milestone case for Muslim women’s fight to rights. The SC upheld the right to alimony for a Muslim woman and said that the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is applicable to all citizens irrespective of their religion. This set off a political controversy and the government of the day overturned this judgement by passing the Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986, according to which alimony need be given only during the iddat period (in tune with Muslim personal law).

  • MC Mehta and Union of India (1986): This case dealt with 3 issues: Scope od=f Article 32; rule of Absolute Liability or Rylands vs Fletcher to be followed; issue of compensation. SC held that its power under Article 32 is not restricted to preventive measures, but also remedial measures when rights are violated. It also held that in the case of industries engaged in hazardous or inherently dangerous activities, Absolute Liability was to be followed. Finally, it also said that the amount of compensation must be correlated to the magnitude and capacity of the industry so that it will be a deterrent.

  • Indra Sawhney and Union of India (1992): SC examined the scope and extent of Article 16(4), which provides for the reservation of jobs in favour of backward classes. It upheld the constitutional validity of 27% reservation in promotion, total reserved quota should not exceed 50%, etc.

  • S.R. Bommai Case (1994):  In this judgement, the SC tried to curb the blatant misuse of Article 356 (regarding the imposition of President’s Rule on States).

  • Vishaka and State of Rajasthan (1997): This case dealt with sexual harassment at the workplace. In the judgement, the SC gave a set of guidelines for employers- as well as other responsible persons or institutions – to immediately ensure the prevention of sexual harassment. These are called ‘Vishaka Guidelines’. These were to be considered law until appropriate legislation was enacted.

  • Samatha and State of Andhra Pradesh (1997): This judgement nullified all mining leases granted by the Andhra Pradesh State government in the Scheduled areas and asked it to stop all mining operations. It declared that forest land, tribal land, and government land in scheduled areas could not be leased to private companies or non-tribal for industrial operations. Such activity is only permissible to a government undertaking and tribal people.

  • Lily Thomas v Union of India (2000): Here, the SC held that the second marriage of a Hindu man without divorcing the first wife, even if the man had converted to Islam, is void unless the first marriage had been dissolved according to the Hindu Marriage Act.

  • I.R Coelho and State of Tamil Nadu (2007): This judgement held that if a law is included in the 9th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, it can still be examined and confronted in court. The 9th Schedule of the Indian Constitution contains a list of acts and laws. The Waman Rao ruling ensured that acts and laws mentioned in the IX schedule till 24 April 1973, shall not be shall not be challenged, but any attempt to amend or add more acts to that schedule will suffer close inspection and examination by the judiciary system.

  • Paedophilia case (2011): The SC restored the conviction and sentence of 6-year (RI) rigorous imprisonment imposed on 2 UK nationals who were acquitted by the Bombay High Court in a paedophilia case. The court said that “the sexual abuse of children is one of the most heinous crimes.”

  • Aruna Shanbaug case (2011): The SC ruled that individuals had a right to die with dignity, allowing passive euthanasia with guidelines. The need to reform India’s law on euthanasia was triggered by the tragic case of Aruna Shanbaung who lay in a vegetative state (blind, paralysed and deaf) for 42 years.

  • NOTA judgement (2013): This judgement introduced the NOTA (None-Of-The-Above) option for Indian Voters.

  • Lily Thomas and Union of India (2013): The SC ruled that any MLA, MLC or MP who was found guilty of a crime and given a minimum of 2 years imprisonment would cease to be a member of the House with immediate effect.

  • Nirbhaya case (2014): Introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 and definition of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Code of Criminal Procedures, 1973.

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