Observer Desk

Posted on 04.01.18 by

Supreme Court Session Preview 2018 – (4th January – 19th May)

The Supreme Court Session for the year 2018 will start on 4th January and continue till 19th May. This is a preview of Supreme Court cases for the new session.

The 5 judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra will begin hearing the Puttaswamy v UOI, on the constitutionality of Aadhar from January 17th. On 14th December 2017, the Court passed an interim order deferring the deadline for linking Aadhar with various services to 31st March. With 99% citizens already allegedly having Aadhar, this is one of the most anticipated legal tussles between Indian citizens and the State.

On the same day, hearings will continue in the case of Goolrokh Gupta v Burjor Pardiwala, which challenges the excommunication of Parsi women on marrying a Non-Parsi. This case presents an opportunity to evaluate the state of gender justice and examine the trend of religious groups asphyxiating the right of individuals within the group. In the last hearing on 14th December 2017, the Parsi Trust had filed a memorandum allowing Goolrokh Gupta access to the Tower of Silence, in case of the death of her parents. But the larger question of validity of such excommunication remains.

The Hadiya case (Shafin Jahan v Ashokan) will continue in the third week of January. In the last hearing, the court spoke to Hadiya and freed her from parental custody and allowed her to resume her studies at the college in Salem. In the next hearing, the court will have to weigh the findings of the NIA (National Investigation Agency) on the Islamic radical agenda to convert and marry Hindus against the right of an adult (Hadiya) to choose her partner.

On 31st January, the court will continue hearing Muhammad Salimullah v UOI, the case challenging the deportation policy of Rohingyas. In the last hearing, the government had assured the court that status quo would be maintained and deporting of Rohingyas halted till the next hearing. The case has seen a horde of lawyers including Fali Nariman, Prashant Bhushan, Rajeev Dhavan, Kapil Sibal arguing against the deportation policy on humanitarian and constitutional grounds.

On 5th December, the Court heard Maulana Aashad v Mahant Suresh Das (Babri Masjid – Ram Janmabhoomi case) and rejected the plea by Mr Kapil Sibal, who was representing the Wakf Board, to postpone the matter to after Lok Sabha elections scheduled for July 2019. Chief Justice Dipak Misra posted the matter for 8th February 2018. Though a title dispute over land, this is one of the most sensitive and communally polarising disputes that will be heard by the Court in this session.

The court will continue hearing Kaushal Kishor v State of U.P. on 22nd January, 2018. The constitutional question before the 5 judge bench is whether speech can be restricted to protect the ‘right to dignity’ under Article 21 and on grounds beyond Article 19(2). The genesis of the matter lies in a statement made by UP Minister Azam Khan where he questioned the veracity of the complaint made by a rape victim.

There is a likelihood of a constitution bench being formed in Karmanya Sareen v UOI, where two Whatsapp users have challenged a WhatsApp policy that allows user data to be shared with Facebook. Following from Puttaswamy v UOI (The Right to Privacy Case), this case will decide if data sharing by private companies violates citizens’ Right to Privacy. The hearing in Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha v UOI, which challenged the constitutionality of Assam Accord, is also expected to be taken up in this session. Tehseen Poonawalla v UOI, dealing with the issue of cow vigilantism hasn’t seen any progress since the last hearing on 22nd September 2017, when the court had asked all the States to submit a compliance report detailing measures taken to deal with cow vigilantism.

The first session of 2018 looks very promising with important cases on Aadhar, Rohingya Deportation, and Hadiya’s marriage lined up for January, followed by the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid case in the beginning of February.

Judgments in three constitutional cases –  Common Cause v UOI (evaluation of the right to die with dignity in context of Advance Wills), Kalpana Mehta v UOI (scrutiny of the separation of powers with respect to parliamentary privilege) and Government of NCT v UOI (examination of federal relation between Lt. Governor of Delhi and the Delhi Government) are also expected to be delivered in this session. The court heard and reserved these cases for judgment in the previous session. These judgments will test the court’s jurisprudence on important constitutional questions.

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