Excuse the pun of the title, but the week that went by, might just go down in history as the single most powerful week for the Indian Judiciary in the history of this country. A charged up CJI and his pack of anti-wolves have hunted down long-standing barriers to social change in the country and have brought back the lost faith of the people in the Judiciary. The sword of the Lady Justice fell on the throats of regressive social practices and as the nation moves further into 2017, the Judiciary has established that a body run on merit eventually outpowers the bodies run on popularity, even in a democracy.
As a citizen who reads newspapers, having three back to back rulings with both a progressive approach and a breeze of fresh air, it really hits you in the face that your trust, locked and sealed in the judiciary is never wasted.
With religious degenerations pulling us down to inhumanity, ushered a ray of hope that pushes beyond the boundaries of religion into a playground of uniformity when the “Triple Talaq”, a practice where the mention of the word “Talaq” (divorce) thrice leads to a divorce itself was regarded as unconstitutional. Always being described as derogatory and discriminatory for women, this practice gave men the sanction of religion to pave way to unquestionable patriarchy, leaving women in a state of utter despair and humiliation, as their husbands throw them away at the drop of a hat on WhatsApp and Skype. With a 5-judge bench and a ruling of 3:2, the Supreme Court identified the flaw in allowing this and even though the CJI had concerns with moving towards a ruling that interferes with Muslim Personal Law, the practice was struck down hard upon. This interference not only shed light on the possibility of a Uniform Civil Code, but also put forth the judiciary as the model unit of governance, over-powering the internal intricacies misused for social dominance.
As the nation pondered, the CJI threw another bomb. A retired Justice KS Puttaswamy petitioned for the fundamental right to privacy in front of an 8-member bench, eventually winning his petition. The entire case arose out of a simple flaw that the Aadhar Card portal gave any random citizen to access private information, that would otherwise not be disclosed without permission. But this case did not decide the question of Aadhar, but Right to Privacy alone. A bench, comprising of the CJI, ruled in a unanimous decision, to include the Right to Privacy as a part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and Part 3 of the Constitution. Call it funny or rather settling, this court case answered a lot of questions that citizens may have even forgotten about. As state power was bottle-necked with limitations, an all-out sanction of statutory authority was replaced by small units of privacy rights. When we talk of the right to life, we also attach a life with dignity to it. Dignity of any individual is automatically surpassed without any privacy.
But the case did something beyond its original goal. Under the purview and question of right to life with dignity, along with privacy in one’s bedroom, the right to sexual orientation was made a right under Right to Privacy in India. What years of deliberation, hard work, protests and legal attempts could not accomplish, was done with such forward thinking and rational slant, that the Judiciary made itself look almost like a rational human, to whom one can connect and make sense.
When here, social opprobrium for the LGBT community was shifting from encouraged to penal, a criminal case jolted India into a state of, for the lack of a better word, emergency. Ram Rahim, affectionately or sometimes comically referred to, as, MSG – The Messenger of God was found guilty for the commission of two rapes and was sentenced 20 years of imprisonment. Where all state and policing authorities were afraid of even touching the self-proclaimed messiah of God, the Judiciary placed the criminal where he belongs, the prison. Although the power and control of the man led to two states being left for two days in utter violence and despair, the man stays behind bars and that is the fact that stands.
In its functionality, it seems ironic that even more than the directly voted legislators and their elected executives have failed to uphold the people power of democracy, which has flowed from the Judiciary instead. Being the immortal check-and-balance against the doings, or rather misdoings of the Parliamentarians, the judicial system has shown the power of law over the power of representation.
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