Looking Back At Landmark Decisions Delivered By Former CJI Dipak Misra

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The highest position in Indian Judiciary is Chief Justice of India. Chief Justice of India has huge responsibilities to perform because it is his verdict which will give direction to government policies in the country. Judgments delivered by Chief Justice are of immense importance as they guide executive, general public on how the law is to be interpreted keeping in mind rights of common people in the light of the constitution. Former Chief Justice of India Deepak Misra delivered a number of landmark decisions all of which would have a major impact on how people of India think and act. Today, we will list out major judgments which were given by Justice Misra along with Judgements in which he was part of the bench.

1. Women allowed in Sabarimala Temple

This was justice Misra’s last judgment before he retired. He observed that exclusionary practice of refusing women entry in Sabarimala temple is neither an essential nor an integral part of Hindu religion without which Hindu religion, of which devotees of Lord Ayyappa are followers will not survive. He further stated that article 25 did not discriminate on basis of gender and refusing women entry in temple refuses women right to worship.

2. Struck down adultery section in Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 497 of Indian Penal Code indirectly gave license to husband to treat his wife as his personal property and gave no rights to women to file a case against her husband if he cheated on her. CJI decriminalized adultery observing that there cannot be patriarchal monarchy over daughter or husband’s monarchy over the wife.

3. Same-sex marriages recognized

Homosexuality was punishable in India by virtue of section 377 of Indian Penal Code. Constitutional Bench of India unanimously declared that section 377 as unconstitutional to the extent it punished consensual sexual acts of adults in private. Justice Misra observed that section 377 was like a weapon in the hands of majority and LGBT community possessed equal rights and their sexual orientation is a part of their fundamental right to privacy.

4. Passive Euthanasia allowed

Chief Justice Misra sanctioned passive euthanasia and observed that all adults with the capacity to consent have a common law right to refuse medical treatment and the right of self-determination, At the same time doctors should be very sure that  illness of patient is incurable and there is no hope of recovery as they would be bound by patient’s choice of self-determination. A person should be allowed to die peacefully instead of keeping him alive against his will using technology.

5. Framing of Criminal charges not enough to disqualify the candidates

Five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India declared that mere framing of criminal charges against a candidate contesting election is not enough to disqualify him. The legislature was recommended to pass a law ensuring criminals do not enter politics.

6. The validity of Aadhar Upheld But with exceptions

Justice Misra did not write this judgment but concurred with judgment delivered by Justice Sikri. Certain provisions namely Section 33(2), 47 and 57 were struck down remaining were upheld. In this case, Justice Chandrachud took the view that the entire Aadhaar project was unconstitutional.

7. Jurisdiction of Courts

In this case, Justice Misra overruled the earlier decision of SC which said that Supreme Court retains seisin over arbitration proceedings if the arbitrator is appointed by Supreme Court of India. It was ruled in this judgment that jurisdiction of a court as laid out in the statue cannot shift or become flexible just because a superior court interferes in the case in a different manner.

8. Khap Panchayat and Honor Killings

A 3 judge bench declared that consent of family members or the community or the clan is not necessary for two consenting adults to enter into a wedlock. Further, it was also held that any attempt by Khap Panchayats or any other assembly to scuttle or prevent two consenting adults from marrying is absolutely “illegal”.

9. Speaking against Lynching and Mobocracy

In a time when lynching became a common criminal practice across the country Justice Misra came out condemning lynching and said that mobocracy cannot be allowed to replace democracy and it is the duty of State to ensure that machinery of law and order is functioning properly to maintain peace, preserve secular ethos and pluralistic society governed by rule of law.

 10. Hadiya Verdict

The crucial observation was made by Justice Misra in this case which was that choosing a faith is the substratum of individuality and is a part of the fundamental right of choice.

11. Cauvery Water Dispute

A longstanding dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu came to an end when bench led by Justice Misra directed Karnataka to release 177.25 TMC of water instead of 192 TMC to Tamil Nadu.

12. Refuses Ban on Meesha

Plea for Ban on Malayalam Novel ‘Meesha’ for hurting Hindu sentiments was refused. At the same time, he asked artists, readers, and admirers of literature and art to exhibit a certain degree of adherence to the unwritten codes of maturity, humanity, and tolerance so that the freedom of expression reigns supreme and is not inhibited in any manner.

13. National Anthem in Theatres

CJI modified his own earlier order that made national anthem compulsory in every cinema theatre to the discretion of each cinema house.

14. Relief to Priya Prakash Varrier

Supreme Court of India quashed the FIR and criminal complaints against in Telangana and Maharashtra registered against actress Priya Prakash Varrier and Directors and Producers of Malayalam film ‘Oru Adaar Love’ for hurting religious sentiments of Muslims.

15. Stayed Ban on the screening of Padmavat

      CJI put a stay on the operation of notifications issued by various state government banning screening on controversial movie Padmavat. CJI focussed on the right to freedom of speech and expression in a democracy and took a note of people holding high public offices making irresponsible comments when certification of the film was pending before censor board.

Apart from above judgments, there were other judgments such as live streaming of court proceedings, Superiority of Chief Justice of India, Bhima Koregaon Case, vandalism by protesting mob, the death of Judge Loya, Ayodha-Ram Janambhoomi where CJI took the lead and interpreted the law keeping in mind the rights of people and Constitution. Tenure of Deepak Misra was a busy one as a number of landmark decision was given, all of which will play a huge role in running the country in the coming years.

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