Observer Desk

Posted on 20.10.17 by

Supreme Court Winter Session 2017 (3rd Oct -16th Dec)

The Supreme Court’s winter session 2017 commenced on 3rd October and will end on 16th December. The court is closed for the festive season from 15th to 22rd October and we at SCObserver have used this pause in proceedings to reflect on the session so far and also map out the upcoming cases.

The session opened with Karnataka HC Judge Jayant Patel being transferred and Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave attacking the collegium system for its non-transparent and non-accountable functioning.

Cases heard so far in the winter session:

It is amidst this tension that the Supreme Court continued hearings in cases of Salimullah v UOI (Rohingya Deportation Case) and Shafin Jahan v Hadiya (Hadiya Marriage Case). In the Rohingya case the Court heard 2 days of substantial arguments and listed the case for November. In Hadiya, the Court ordered an NIA probe to investigate an interfaith marriage which is being seen as curious interference.

Just before the break the Court completed listening to oral arguments in 2 days in the Common Cause v UOI case, a matter dealing with recognition of a living will for a person who is suffering from terminal illness, and reserved judgment.

A day of arguments were heard in the Kalpana Mehta v UOI, a case around whether Parliamentary Standing Committee Reports could be relied upon by the Supreme Court to issue directions under Article 32 (writ jurisdiction) and Article 136 (Special Leave Petition). This matter relates to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) clinical test, which was sanctioned by Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), despite an adverse report by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The Court formed a constitutional bench for the NCT Delhi v UOI (Special Status of Delhi) case. In this case the Delhi Government has challenged the interpretation to Article 239AA where the Delhi High Court declared the Lt. Governor to be “administrative head” and ruled that he is not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

Cases heard in previous sessions, hearings expected to resume in the winter session:

The Tehseen Poonwalla v UOI (Cow Vigilantism Case) – where the matter of whether cow vigilantes could be given legitimacy under the law is being examined – was last heard in the summer session. In the previous hearing an order had been issued asking all States to submit an ‘Action Taken Report’ on cow vigilantes by October 30th.

On the eve of 25th anniversary of Babri Demolition, Mohd Siddiq v Mahant Suresh Das, which deals with title dispute of Ram Mandir- Babri Masjid will be heard. Though a title dispute over land, this is one of the most sensitive and communally polarising dispute that will be heard by the Court in this session.

However, the most anticipated cases for this session are Justice Puttaswamy Case which examines the constitutional validity of Aadhar Act; and the Karmanya Sareen case (Whatsapp-Facebook Privacy), which will settle the question of the right to privacy against private internet companies.

Cases for which substantive hearings are expected to commence this session:

It is likely in this winter session the court could hear Charu Khanna v UOI (Article 35 A Case). In this case the plea challenges Article 35A of the Indian Constitution and Article 6 of the Jammu Constitution, which deny property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is contended that it violates the fundamental right to equality. It will most likely be taken up by a 5-judge bench on the 23rd of October.

Another case that is likely to be heard is Sunita Tiwari v UOI (Female Genital Mutilation Case). Female Genital Mutilation or female circumcision, a practice common among Dawoodi Bohra community, involves the removal of either part or all of female genitalia with the aim of ‘regulating female sexuality’ and ‘moderating sexual desires’. The Supreme Court will hear the plea which seeks a complete ban on this practice.

The cases scheduled for this session run the gamut from individual rights to human rights to corporate responsibilities, to communal challenges to fundamental rights. Over the next 8 weeks the Supreme Court Observer will be assessing and writing about the impact of the court’s actions on citizens, refugees, communities, private companies and the government.

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