Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has approved a historic bill for the welfare of Women in the Country – the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020.

This follows the introduction in Parliament of the Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020, and the approval of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020.  These legislative measures are path-breaking steps to protect women’s reproductive rights.

          Once the Bill is enacted by the Parliament, the Central Government shall notify the date of the commencement of the Act. Consequently, the National Board will be constituted.

The National Board shall lay down code of conduct to be observed by persons working at clinics, to set the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.

The States and Union Territories shall constitute the State Boards and State Authorities within three months of the notification by the Central Government.

The State Board shall have the responsibility to follow the policies and plans laid by the National Board for clinics and Banks in the State.

The Bill also provides for National Registry and Registration Authority to maintain a Central database and assist the National Board in its functioning.  The Bill also proposes for a stringent punishment for those practising sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies/rackets/organisations for such unlawful practices.

Benefits

          The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country.  Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured/confident of the ethical practices in ARTs.

Background

          The Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020 is the most recent, in a series of legislations approved by the Union Cabinet to protect and safeguard the reproductive rights of women. The bill makes provisions for safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology services in the country. Through the bill, the National Board, the State Boards, the National Registry and the State Registration Authorities respectively will regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics and assisted reproductive technology banks.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. India has one of the highest growths in the ART centers and the number of ART cycles performed every year. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), has given hope to a multitude of persons suffering from infertility, but also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical and social issues. India has become one of the major centres of this global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity. Clinics in India offer nearly all the ART services—gamete donation, intrauterine insemination (IUI), IVF, ICSI, PGD and gestational surrogacy. However, in spite of so much activity in India, there is yet no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate.

The need to regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology Services is mainly to protect the affected Women and the Children from exploitation. The oocyte donor needs to be supported by an insurance cover, protected from multiple embryo implantation and children born through Assisted reproductive technology should be provided all rights equivalent to a Biological Children. The cryopreservation of sperm, oocytes and embryo by the ART Banks needs to be regulated and the bill intends to make Pre-Genetic Implantation Testing mandatory for the benefit of the child born through assisted reproductive technology.

Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Board at the central level and State Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories. The Bill has been examined by the Select Committee and the report has been tabled in the Rajya Sabha on the 5th of February 2020.

The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the Indian Married couple, Indian Origin Married Couple and Indian Single Woman (only widow or Divorcee) will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.

Medical Termination Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (34 of 1971) was enacted to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The said Act recognised the importance of safe, affordable, accessible abortion services to women who need to terminate pregnancy under certain specified conditions. Besides this, several Writ Petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court and various High Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.

Taken together, the three proposed legislations create an environment of safeguards for women’s reproductive rights, addressing changing social contexts and technological advances.


Cabinet

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 19-02-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged molestation of students during a cultural festival at the all-woman Gargi College here last week. A 3-judge bench of S A Bobde, CJ and BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ asked lawyer M L Sharma, who mentioned the matter seeking urgent hearing, to move the Delhi High Court with his plea.

“Why don’t you go to the Delhi HC. If they dismiss the petition then you come here,”

The Court said it would like to have advantage of Delhi HC’s view on this matter.

Advocate Sharma expressed apprehension that electronic evidence related to the case might be destroyed.

On this, the Court said,

“Delhi High Court can also pass order like the Telangana High Court in the police encounter case to preserve electronic evidence”.

(Source: PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: The 9-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, hearing the Sabarimala reference has held that the Supreme Court can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its review jurisdiction. The bench had, on February 6, 2020, reserved it’s order on the said legal issue while hearing the Sabarimala reference after renowned jurist and senior advocate Fali Nariman objected to the manner in which the Supreme Court turned a review of the Sabarimala case into an opportunity to set up a nine-judge Bench and examine whether certain essential religious practices of various faiths, including Islam and Zoroastrianism, should be constitutionally protected.

The Court also framed 7 seven questions that are to be decided by the 9-judge bench in the Sabarimala reference and has proposed a day-to-day hearing in the matter from February 17, 2020. The issues to be heard relate to:

  • What is the scope and ambit of right to freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution of India?
  •  What is the inter-play between the rights of persons under Article 25 of the Constitution of India and rights of religious denomination under Article 26 of the Constitution of India?
  • Whether the rights of a religious denomination under Article 26 of the Constitution of India are subject to other provisions of Part III of the Constitution of India apart from public order, morality and health?
  • What is the scope and extent of the word ‘morality’ under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India and whether it is meant to include Constitutional morality?
  • What is the scope and extent of judicial review with regard to a religious practice as referred to in Article 25 of the Constitution of India?
  • What is the meaning of expression “Sections of Hindus” occurring in Article 25 (2) (b) of the Constitution of India?
  • Whether a person not belonging to a religious denomination or religious group can question a practice of that religious denomination or religious group by filing a PIL?

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing. The Counsels were, however, unabale to reach a consensus on the issues to be argued. 

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

[Kantaru Rajeevaru v. Indian Young Lawyers Assn, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 158 , decided on 10.02.2020]

Also read:Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 9-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, hearing the Sabarimala reference has reserved it’s order on the legal issue of whether the Supreme Court can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its review jurisdiction. The bench will pronounce the order on February 10, 2020 and will accord a day-to-day hearing from February 12, 2020 on issues relating to discrimination against women at various places of worship including the Sabarimala temple.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the Court that the 5-judge bench in Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461 was right in referring the questions of law to the larger bench. He said,

“As custodian of fundamental rights, it was the duty of the court to lay down an authoritative pronouncement on these questions of law.”

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman opposed the submission and said that only the President can ask questions of national importance, not the court.

Earlier, the bench had agreed to hear the argument on the issue whether the court can refer questions of law to a larger bench on a review petition after renowned jurist and senior advocate Fali Nariman objected to the manner in which the Supreme Court turned a review of the Sabarimala case into an opportunity to set up a nine-judge Bench and examine whether certain essential religious practices of various faiths, including Islam and Zoroastrianism, should be constitutionally protected.

In our report dated 14.11.2019, we had pointed out that the order passed by the 5-judge bench in Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461 was debatable as involved a reference to a larger bench in a review petition. We wrote,

“If it is believed that a reference has indeed been made in the majority verdict, it will again be debatable on the ground that a reference cannot be made in a review petition. A judgment of the Supreme Court of is final, and a review of such judgment is an exception. Whatever the Court decides in a Review Petition become the law. So will a reference of a review petition to a larger bench mean creation of a new forum? Too many loose ends have been left in the majority verdict that the Court will have to tie up sooner or later.”

The bench is hearing matters relating to discrimination against women in various religions including Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, mosques, the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community and Parsi women married to non-Parsi men being barred from its holy fire temple.

Overlapping or related issues pending before the Supreme Court

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

(With inputs from News18)


Also read:

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will hear on February 6 argument on the issue whether the court can refer questions of law to a larger bench on a review petition after renowned jurist and senior advocate Fali Nariman objected to the manner in which the Supreme Court turned a review of the Sabarimala case into an opportunity to set up a nine-judge Bench and examine whether certain essential religious practices of various faiths, including Islam and Zoroastrianism, should be constitutionally protected.

CJI asked,

“Are you saying that when hearing the review of one judgment [Sabarimala in this case], we cannot refer such larger questions to a larger Bench?”

To which Mr. Nariman responded,

“Yes, that is absolutely right. It will be outside your jurisdiction to do that,”

Finding a formidable point in Mr. Nariman’s arguments, CJI said that the nine-judge Bench would not “abort the hearing” now but the objections raised by Mr. Nariman would be framed as an “issue” to be decided by the Bench.

In our report dated 14.11.2019, we had pointed out that the order passed by the 5-judge bench in Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461 was debatable as involved a reference to a larger bench in a review petition. We wrote,

“If it is believed that a reference has indeed been made in the majority verdict, it will again be debatable on the ground that a reference cannot be made in a review petition. A judgment of the Supreme Court of is final, and a review of such judgment is an exception. Whatever the Court decides in a Review Petition become the law. So will a reference of a review petition to a larger bench mean creation of a new forum? Too many loose ends have been left in the majority verdict that the Court will have to tie up sooner or later.”

The bench is hearing matters relating to discrimination against women in various religions including Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, mosques, the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community and Parsi women married to non-Parsi men being barred from its holy fire temple.

Overlapping or related issues pending before the Supreme Court

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.


Also read:

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The nine-judge bench of Supreme Court will hear the Sabarimala  matter again on Thursday after hearing the matter today.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told the Court that the issues can be framed in the chambers itself. He stated that there is no need to frame the questions and other issues if relevant, in an open court. After hearing Mehta’s submissions, CJI SA Bobde observed that there are questions that arose in Sabarimala, and also there are questions that are there in other cases such as Muslim women’s demand to enter mosques, and the FGM in Dawoodi Bohras and whether Parsi women married to non-Parsis lose religion.

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

(With inputs from ANI)



Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde has fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari. The bench was hearing the petitions pertaining to the discrimination against women at places of worship.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the matter before the Court and said that all the lawyers from various parties in the case sat together and discussed the issue but could not reach a consensus on the matter, which is to be heard by a 9-judge constitution bench.
The Supreme Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

(With inputs from ANI)



Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde will hear from January 13 the issue of allowing women and girls of all ages to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, along with the other contentious issues of alleged discrimination against Muslim and Parsi women.

The other judges on the bench are Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant. Interestingly, none of the nine judges has previously been a part of any bench hearing the Sabarimala issue.  

The nine-judge bench has been set up after a five-judge bench headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, by a 3:2 majority verdict, suggested that the matter be referred to a seven-judge bench while examining the review petition filed against the historic September 28, 2018 judgement which had allowed women of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple. The judgment dated 14.11.2019, delivered right before the retirement of the then CJI Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said,

“This Court should evolve a judicial policy befitting to its plenary powers to do substantial and complete justice and for an authoritative enunciation of the constitutional principles by a larger bench of not less than seven judges.”

Referring the issues connected to the case at hand, CJ Gogoi wrote that it may not be inappropriate if matters involving seminal issues including the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution touching upon the right to profess, practise and propagate its own religion, are heard by larger bench of commensurate number of JudgesHe, hence, ‘suggested’ that a 7-judge bench be formed to decide the abovementioned issues.

Besdies Justice Gogoi, Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra (the lone woman judge on the bench) were in majority while Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud had penned a minority verdict on November 14, 2019.

The top court had on Monday issued a notice informing about listing of the petition filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association seeking review of the 2018 judgement.

However, the names of the judges were announced today.

Questions that the Larger Bench ‘may’ take up for consideration as suggested in the November 14, 2019 verdict

  • Interplay between the freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and other provisions in Part III, particularly Article 14.
  • Sweep of expression ‘public order, morality and health’ occurring in Article 25(1) of the Constitution.
  • Sweep of expression ‘morality’ or ‘constitutional morality. Is it over arching morality in reference to preamble or limited to religious beliefs or faith? There is need to delineate the contours of that expression, lest it becomes subjective.
  • The extent to which the court can enquire into the issue of a particular practice is an integral part of the religion or religious practice of a particular religious denomination or should that be left exclusively to be determined by the head of the section of the religious group.
  • Meaning of the expression ‘sections of Hindus’ appearing in Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution.
  • Whether the “essential religious practices” of a religious denomination, or even a section thereof are afforded constitutional protection under Article 26.
  • What would be the permissible extent of judicial recognition to PILs in matters calling into question religious practices of a denomination or a section thereof at the instance of persons who do not belong to such religious denomination?

The majority verdict also suggested that the Larger Bench may also decide the question as to whether the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 govern the Sabarimala temple at all.

(With inputs from PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ has referred certain seminal issues to a larger bench in a 3:2 verdict. CJI Gogoi, Khanwilkar and Malhotra, JJ gave the majority opinion of referring the the questions to larger bench, whereas Nariman and Chandrachud, JJ gave dissenting opinions.

Due to the reference being made to the larger bench, the subject review petitions as well as the writ petitions will remain pending until determination of the questions indicated hereunder by a Larger Bench.

Surprisingly, the majority verdict runs in only 6-pages in a 77-pages long verdict.

Majority Verdict by CJ Gogoi for himself & Khanwilkar & Malhotra, JJ

“This Court should evolve a judicial policy befitting to its plenary powers to do substantial and complete justice and for an authoritative enunciation of the constitutional principles by a larger bench of not less than seven judges.”

Referring the issues connected to the case at hand, CJ Gogoi wrote that it may not be inappropriate if matters involving seminal issues including the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution touching upon the right to profess, practise and propagate its own religion, are heard by larger bench of commensurate number of Judges. He, hence, ‘suggested’ that a 7-judge bench be formed to decide the abovementioned issues. 

Questions that the Larger Bench ‘may’ take up for consideration

  • Interplay between the freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and other provisions in Part III, particularly Article 14.
  • Sweep of expression ‘public order, morality and health’ occurring in Article 25(1) of the Constitution.
  • Sweep of expression ‘morality’ or ‘constitutional morality. Is it over arching morality in reference to preamble or limited to religious beliefs or faith? There is need to delineate the contours of that expression, lest it becomes subjective.
  • The extent to which the court can enquire into the issue of a particular practice is an integral part of the religion or religious practice of a particular religious denomination or should that be left exclusively to be determined by the head of the section of the religious group.
  • Meaning of the expression ‘sections of Hindus’ appearing in Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution.
  • Whether the “essential religious practices” of a religious denomination, or even a section thereof are afforded constitutional protection under Article 26.
  • What would be the permissible extent of judicial recognition to PILs in matters calling into question religious practices of a denomination or a section thereof at the instance of persons who do not belong to such religious denomination?

The majority verdict also suggested that the Larger Bench may also decide the question as to whether the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 govern the Sabarimala temple at all.

Overlapping or related issues pending before the Supreme Court

“The debate about the constitutional validity of practices entailing into restriction of entry of women generally in the place of worship is not limited to this case, but also arises in respect of entry of Muslim women in a Durgah/Mosque as also in relation to Parsi women married to a non-Parsi into the holy fire place of an Agyari.”

The Court also took note of other seminal issues arising in the pending cases regarding entry of Muslim Women in Durgah/Mosque; Parsi Women married to a non-Parsi in the Agyari; and including the practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra community and said that these issues may be overlapping and covered by the judgment under review and hence, the prospect of the issues arising in those cases being referred to larger bench cannot be ruled out.

    • Muslim Women in Durgah/Mosque Case is pending before a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari, JJ. On November 5, 2019, the bench had adjourned the matter for 10 days which means that the matter will now be taken up after Justice Bobde takes charge of the CJI office.
    • Parsi Women married to a non-Parsi in the Agyari case was referred to a 5-judge bench by a 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ in October, 2017. The 5-judge bench of former CJ Dipak Misra and AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ last heard the matter on December 14, 2017. [2017 SCC OnLine SC 1275]
    • Case relating to practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra community was referred to a larger bench on September 24, 2018 by a 3-judge bench of former CJ Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, JJ. The Constitution bench is yet to be formed. [2018 SCC OnLine SC 2667]

Stay on the 2018 verdict

The verdict is silent on whether there will be a stay on the 2018 Sabarimala Verdict which means that the said judgment will continue to hold ground till the review petitions are finally decided by the Court.

Why the majority verdict is debatable?

‘Suggestive’ reference

The verdict does not make a clear reference of issues to a larger bench. The wordsthe prospect of the issues arising in those cases being referred to larger bench cannot be ruled outused in the majority verdict may mean to imply that the reference made by the Court is merely ‘suggestive’.

Nariman, J’s minority opinion also talks about the ‘suggestive’ nature of the references when it says,

“if and when the issues that have been set out in the learned Chief Justice’s judgment arise in future, they can appropriately be dealt with by the bench/benches which hear the petitions concerning Muslims, Parsis and Dawoodi Bohras.”

Hence, it would not be completely wrong to say that this judgment merely suggests the Benches in the abovementioned 3 cases to refer the issues listed down by it to a larger bench if it thinks fit.

Reference of a review petition

If it is believed that a reference has indeed been made in the majority verdict, it will again be debatable on the ground that a reference cannot be made in a review petition. A judgment of the Supreme Court of is final, and a review of such judgment is an exception. Whatever the Court decides in a Review Petition become the law. So will a reference of a review petition to a larger bench mean creation of a new forum? Too many loose ends have been left in the majority verdict that the Court will have to tie up sooner or later.

It is also pertinent to note that in the majority verdict, no ‘error on the face of record’ has been pointed out. In fact, the majority verdict has not answered the review at all. Which explains why the majority verdict runs in only 6 pages and 9 paras.

Dissenting opinion by Nariman, J for himself and Chandrachud, J

“Bona fide criticism of a judgment, albeit of the highest court of the land, is certainly permissible, but thwarting, or encouraging persons to thwart, the directions or orders of the highest court cannot be countenanced in our Constitutional scheme of things.”

Disagreeing with the majority opinion that the Review Petitions be kept in a lurch while the larger bench decides the seminal issues concerning right to religion and women rights, Nariman and Chandrachud, JJ said that the only issue before the Court in the present case was the review petitions and the writ petitions that were filed in relation to the judgment in Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC Online SC 1690.

Stating that if and when the issues that have been set out in the learned Chief Justice’s judgment arise in future, they can appropriately be dealt with by the bench/benches which hear the petitions concerning Muslims, Parsis and Dawoodi Bohras, Nariman and Chandrachud, J said,

“What a future constitution bench or larger bench, if constituted by the learned Chief Justice of India, may or may not do when considering the other issues pending before this Court is, strictly speaking, not before this Court at all.”

They, hence, went on to examine the issue at hand and noticed that there was a clear consensus on the following 3 issues:

  • The devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination and cannot, therefore, claim the benefit of Article 26 or the proviso to Section 3 of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965.
  • The four majority judgments specifically grounded the right of women between the ages of 10 to 50, who are excluded from practicing their religion, under Article 25(1) of the Constitution, emphasizing the expression “all persons” and the expression “equally” occurring in that Article, so that this right is equally available to both men and women of all ages professing the same religion.
  • Section 3 of the 1965 Act traces its origin to Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution of India, and would apply notwithstanding any custom to the contrary, to enable Hindu women the right of entry 18 in all public temples open to Hindus, so that they may exercise the right of worship therein. As a concomitant thereof, Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 is violative of Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India and ultra vires Section 3 of the 1965 Act.

Given the consensus on the three issues delineated above, Nariman, J, hence, wrote that no ground for review of the majority judgments was made out and the review petitions were hence dismissed.

Nariman and Chandrachud, JJ, hence, directed the State of Kerala to give wide publicity to the 2018 Sabarimala judgment through the medium of television, newspapers, etc. Pressing upon the need to implement the 2018 Sabarimala Verdict, they asked the government to take steps to secure the confidence of the community in order to ensure the fulfillment of constitutional values. The State government may have broad-based consultations with representatives of all affected interests so that the modalities devised for implementing the judgment of the Court meet the genuine concerns of all segments of the community, Nariman, J said in the minority opinion.

[Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461, decided on 14.11.2019]


Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed a plea of a Kerala-based outfit challenging the constitutional validity of an ordinance which makes the practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ a punishable offence. The Court said that it would not like to interfere.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance was first notified on September 19 last year, hours after the Union Cabinet had cleared it.

Instant ‘triple talaq’, also known as ‘talaq-e-biddat’, is an instant divorce whereby a Muslim man can legally divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘talaq’ three times in one go.

The ordinance making the practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ a punishable offence was issued for the third time in less than a year on February 21.

(Source: PTI)

Also read:

In the historic judgment, SC says that Triple Talaq is not fundamental to Islam; Practice set aside by a 3:2 majority

Lok Sabha passes Bill making Triple Talaq unconstitutional

‘Triple Talaq Ordinance’ promulgated in wake of ending the arbitrary custom of oral unilateral divorce

The Triple Talaq Bill passed in Lok Sabha

Triple Talaq ordinance re-promulgated

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ has reserved verdict on a batch of petitions seeking review of its September 28, 2018 judgement that allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

In the September 28, 2018 verdict the 5-judge Constitution Bench held that not allowing women of any age group to enter the Sabarimala Temple was unconstitutional. The lone dissenting opinion in the matter was that of Justice Indu Malhotra, who said:

“the right to move the Supreme Court under Article 32 for violation of Fundamental Rights, must be based on a pleading that the petitioner’s personal rights to worship in the Temple have been violated. the petitioners herein did not claim to be devotees of the Sabarimala temple. The absence of this bare minimum requirement must not be viewed as a mere technicality, but an essential requirement to maintain a challenge for impugning practices of any religious sect, or denomination.”

She was also of the opinion that in the case of the Sabarimala Temple, the manifestation is in the form of a ‘Naishtik Brahmachari’. The belief in a deity, and the form in which he has manifested himself is a fundamental right protected by Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

(With inputs from PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After conducting a 6-day hearing during summer vacations, the historic verdict on the validity of Triple Talaq is out and this is what the 5-judge Constitution Bench has held:

“In view of the different opinions recorded, by a majority of 3:2 the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ – triple talaq is set aside.”

The 395-pages long judgment begins with the dissenting opinion of JS Khehar, CJ and SA Nazeer, J where the judges asked the Union of India to consider appropriate legislation, particularly with reference to ‘talaq-e-biddat’ and requested the different political parties to keep their individual political gains apart, while considering the necessary measures requiring legislation. CJI, writing the judgment for himself and Nazeer, J said that till the time a law comes into force, the Muslim husbands should be injuncted from pronouncing ‘talaq-e-biddat’ as a means for severing their matrimonial relationship. The instant injunction will be operative for a period of six months and if the legislative process commences before the expiry of the period of six months, and a positive decision emerges towards redefining ‘talaq-ebiddat’ (three pronouncements of ‘talaq’, at one and the same time) – as one, or alternatively, if it is decided that the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ be done away with altogether, the injunction would continue, till legislation is finally enacted. Failing which, the injunction shall cease to operate.

Stating that while examining issues falling in the realm of religious practices or ‘personal law’, it is not for a court to make a choice of something which it considers as forward looking or non-fundamentalist, the 2 judges said,

“It is not for a court to determine whether religious practices were prudent or progressive or regressive. Religion and ‘personal law’, must be perceived, as it is accepted, by the followers of the faith. And not, how another would like it to be.”

CJI and Nazeer, J also took note of the fact that the AIMPLB has undertaken to issue an advisory through its website, to advise those who enter into a matrimonial alliance, to agree in the ‘nikah-nama’, that their marriage would not be dissolvable by ‘talaq-e-biddat’.

Nariman, J, writing down the majority judgment for himself and Lalit, J noted that given the fact that Triple Talaq is instant and irrevocable, it is obvious that any attempt at reconciliation between the husband and wife by two arbiters from their families, which is essential to save the marital tie, cannot ever take place. It was held that this form of Talaq is manifestly arbitrary in the sense that the marital tie can be broken capriciously and whimsically by a Muslim man without any attempt at reconciliation so as to save it. This form of Talaq must, therefore, be held to be violative of the fundamental right contained under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The Court, hence, held that the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, insofar as it seeks to recognize and enforce Triple Talaq, is within the meaning of the expression “laws in force” in Article 13(1) and must be struck down as being void to the extent that it recognizes and enforces Triple Talaq. After going through the Hanafi jurisprudence, the Court noticed that very jurisprudence castigates Triple Talaq as being sinful. The Court said that Triple Talaq is a form of Talaq which is itself considered to be something innovative, namely, that it is not in the Sunna, being an irregular or heretical form of Talaq, it was held that:

“the fundamental nature of the Islamic religion, as seen through an Indian Sunni Muslim’s eyes, will not change without this practice.”

It was, hence, held that Triple Talaq was not a part of Article 25(1) of the Constitution and hence, the Muslim Personal Board that the ball must be bounced back to the legislature does not hold good as Article 25(2)(b) would only apply if a particular religious practice is first covered under Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

Joseph, J, writing down a separate judgment but agreeing with the majority opinion, said,

“Merely because a practice has continued for long, that by itself cannot make it valid if it has been expressly declared to be impermissible.”

He said that the purpose of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 was to declare Shariat as the rule of decision and to discontinue anti-Shariat practices with respect to subjects enumerated in Section 2 which include talaq and therefore, in any case, after the introduction of the 1937 Act, no practice against the tenets of Quran is permissible and hence, there cannot be any Constitutional protection to such a practice. [Shayara Bano v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 963, decided on 22.08.2017]

 

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Constitution bench of 5 judges belonging to 5 different faiths started hearing the Triple Talaq matter on 11.05.2017. The Bench comprising of J.S. Khehar, CJI and Kurian Joseph, U.U. Lalit, R.F. Nariman and Abdul Nazeer, JJ is hearing the matter on day-to-day basis.

Day 6, May 18th, 2017

  • Amit Chadha, appearing for Shayara Bano: In my opinion, Triple Talaq is a sin and is between me and my maker.
  • Kapil Sibal to SC: Only Legislation can interfere in the matters relating to sinful practices in any religion, not you.
  • AIMPLB: We will, within a week, issue an advisory to Qazis to inform every bride her right to specifically mention in the Nikahnama that she will not accept instant triple talaq.
  • SC reserves it’s judgment after 6 day long hearing.

Day 5, May 17th, 2017

  • J.S. Khehar, CJI to AIMPLB: Is it possible to give bride the right that she will not accept instant triple talaq and whether the board’s advisory will be followed by the Qazi at the ground level? Can’t there be a modern and model Nikah Nama to provide for talaq? New Nikah Nama can also do away with instant Triple Talaq and Nikah Nama.
  • Yousuf Muchala, appearing for AIMPLB: Board’s advisory is not mandatory for all Qazis to follow, however, AIMPLB accepts the suggestions in all humility and will look into it. AIMPLB also showed a resolution passed on 14.04.2017 which says Triple Talaq is a sin and community should boycott person doing it.
  • Yusouf Muchala: A Muslim woman has every right to pronounce Triple Talaq in all forms, and also to ask for very high ‘mehr’ amount in case of talaq.
  • SC: Triple Talaq is not a part of Quran. It came later. So if biddat is a sin then why not Talaq-e-biddat i.e. Instant triple talaq? (Note:- Biddat or Bid’ah refers to innovation in religious matters & evil innovations are forbidden under Islamic law.)
  • Senior Advocate V. Giri: Triple Talaq is a part of religion and hence, it is protected by Article 25 of the Constitution.
  • SC: If you yourself say triple talaq is the worst form of divorce and sinful, how does it then become essential to religion? Protection of Article 25 is applicable only when it is about a practice which is essential to your religions and not for what is not essential.
  • V. Giri: Talaq-e-Biddat finds mention in para 230 of Surah 65 of the Quran.
  • SC (after reading out the versus from the Quran): There is absolutely no mention of Talaq-e-Biddat in the Quran, and only two other forms of talaq,  i.e. Talaq-e-Ehsan and Talaq-e-Ahsan, are mentioned in the holy book. You have to read all the paras before and after to give a complete picture. This book says that in every Friday prayers, you say that biddat is bad and should not be practised by any means and now you say it is part of your 1400-year-old faith.
  • Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran: Judiciary cannot dictate to a religious community what personal law practices and norms to follow. A community follows practices that it finds relevant for itself and not what an outsider tells it. India has an express reservation in Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It says that the State follows a policy of non-interference with the personal law practices of any community, unless the community itself takes the initiative to change.
  • Indira Jaising, appearing for Bebak Collective, a Muslim women organisation: But Article I of the CEDAW defines “discrimination against women” and Article 2 obliges the State to act against all forms of discrimination against women.
  • Advocate General Mukul Rohatgi: Issue of Triple Talaq is not an issue of majority or minority. It is an issue of a minority community and that of women within that community.  If Triple Talaq is not present in 25 countries then it cannot be said to be essential to Islam. Rights governed by Article 25 of Constitution are not absolute. Sati, Devdasi etc were once part of Hinduism and were later abolished.
  • CJI: But which one them was set aside by the Court? The were all abolished by bringing in legislation.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Government will do what is necessary but the Court must step in.
  • Indira Jaising: The key question would be whether personal laws will have to stand scrutiny of fundamental laws. At the end of the day, all the systems will have to comply with the Constitution.
  • Day 5 hearing concludes.

Day 4, May 16th, 2017

  • Kapil Sibal on behalf of AIMPLB: Triple Talaq is a 1400 year old practice. Who are we to call it un-Islamic? He adds that Triple Talaq is not a matter of equity of or good conscience. It is a matter of faith just like the Hindu belief that Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya. Just like the Hindus’ faith about Rama’s birth at Ayodhya cannot be questioned, similarly Triple Talaq which is also a matter of faith for Muslims should not be questioned. There is no question of Constitutional Morality involved. Why should Court interfere?
  • R.F. Nariman, J: You mean we shouldn’t hear the matter?.
  • Kapil Sibal: “Yes, you shouldn’t”. In a Hindu majority country, Muslims have to be protected and vice-versa.
  • Kapil Sibal: The dispute is not just the issue of triple talaq but the prevalence of patriarchy among communities. All patriarchal societies are partial. Is it better for a woman to apply for divorce and fight for 16 years and get nothing?
  • Kurian Joseph, J: Are e-divorces also taking place?
  • Kapil Sibal: Divorces are happening even through whatsapp.
  • Kapil Sibal: We are not saying that Triple Talaq is good and should continue permanently. We also want to change but somebody else should not interfere & force the change on us.
  • Kapil Sibal ended his submissions for the day by saying the issue of Triple Talaq cannot be decided in 6 days.

Day 3, May 15th, 2017

  • Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi suggests the hearing of the issues relating to polygamy and Nikah Halala along with Triple Talaq. The bench says that the said matters will be taken up in future. The present hearing will be limited to the issue of Triple Talaq sue to time constraint.
  • Arguing on behalf of the Government, Attorney General: Most radical countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are moving towards reforms but we, as a secular State, are still debating. You are guardians of the constitution. Examine if Triple Talaq is permissible under the constitution. The Government will bring a law if Triple Talaq is abolished. people will not be left in lurch.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: We are the guardians of minority as well as the majority. We will strike down Triple Talaq if Government can establish that it is not an integral part of Islam
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Supreme Court is not an ecclesiastical court to check whether Triple Talaq is essential to Islam or not. Stating that the Court was looking to the problem from wrong abgle, he said that Issues of Muslim marriage and divorce were separated from religion in Shariat Act way back in 1937 itself. The matter should be decided on the basis of fundamental rights of gender equality & human rights under Arts 14, 15, 21 & 51A of the Constitution.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: The tenets of religion can neither be tested on scientific grounds or on other grounds.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Why is the matter being argued before the Constitution Bench then?. Matters are referred to the Constitution Bench because they have something to do with the Constitution. Nothing, no advocacy by man, will help cover something that is wrong by the Constitution.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Women lived in fear of Sati until the law declared it illegal. Muslim women want freedom to live without fear of Triple Talaq.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: Women should be equal, but within the particular religion.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: A constitution bench cannot shut eyes to a Muslim woman’s constitutional rights of equality and gender justice.

Day 2, May 12th, 2017:

  • Court resumes the hearing.
  • R.F. Nariman, J.: One should see difference between theory & practicality at present context in the context of Nikah & Talaq in Islam.
  • Salman Khurshid: Triple Talaq is not practiced anywhere except India.
  • SC: Why all other countries say it is not valid in Islam?
  • Salman Khurshid: Triple Talaq is sinful and is discouraged. But still, it is valid in law.
  • SC: Is it like death penalty, which for some is sinful but legal. If lawful man can be sinful? What is sin in the eyes of God, can it be valid in law?
  • Salman Khurshi: It cannot be.
  • SC: We have to understand the religion from the point of view of what religion says not what you understand in order to test it on the principle of Article 25 (freedom to practice religion) of the Constitution. Tell us whether Triple Talaq is a custom/usage or fundamental to Islam. Where does it lie, Shariat or customs and usage?
  • Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Forum for Awareness of National Security: Triple Talaq violates Article 14 as it gives the right to terminate marriage only to men and not to women.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: The Court is dealing with Personal Law in the present matter and  Article 15 of the Constitution talks about State law.
  • Ram Jethmalani: Triple Talaq makes a distinction on the ground of sex & this method is abhorrent to the tenets of holy Quran and no law can allow a wife to become an ex-wife at the fancy of the husband. No amount of advocacy can or will save this sinful, repugnant practice which is contrary to the constitutional provisions.
  • SC: There are some school of thoughts which say that Triple Talaq is legal but it is the worst and an undesirable form of marriage dissolution.
  • The matter is listed for further hearing on 15.05.2017 as part heard.

Day 1, May 11th, 2017:

  • Amit Singh Chadha, appearing for one of the petitioners Shayara Bano: The practice of Triple Talaq is not fundamental to Islam and hence can be done away with. Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have also declared it to be invalid.
  • SC: We would peruse the prevalent laws in various Islamic countries on the issue.
  • Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for petitioners: In case of divorces being granted through extra-judicial mechanism, there should be a “judicial oversight” to deal with the consequences.
  • Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, assisting the Court in his personal capacity and Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board: Triple Talaq is a non issue.
  • Kapil Sibal: No prudent Muslim would wake up one fine morning and say talaq, talaq and talaq. Salman Khurshid said Triple Talaq not considered complete without conciliation efforts between the husband and the wife.
  • SC: Is the reconciliation after the pronouncement of triple talaq in one go codified?
  • Salman Khurshid: No, it’s not
  • Kapil Sibal: Triple Talaq issue is outside the ambit of judicial review.
  • SC: The issue is, in fact, prima facie related to fundamental rights.
  • SC: If Triple Talaq is declared invalid, what will be the procedure available to husband for seeking divorce? Will it not create a vacuum?

It is important to note that recently on 19.04.2017, the Allahabad High Court has termed triple talaq as unconstitutional, observing that the practice is violation of a woman’s rights. The Constitution bench is hearing the matter during the summer vacations of the Court, in the suo motu proceedings initiated by the Court in In Re: Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality v. Jamiat Ulma-I-Hind, SMW(C) No. 2/2015 with a bunch of related petitions being merged with the case.

Source: PTI & ANI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Pained by the sorrowful fate of a young girl who committed suicide as an outcome of the psychological harassment and continuous eve-teasing by the accused, the Court said that in a civilized society male chauvinism has no room. A woman has her own space as a man has. She enjoys as much equality under Article 14 of the Constitution as a man does. The right to live with dignity as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution cannot be violated by indulging in obnoxious act of eve-teasing.

Stating that eve-teasing is causing harassment to women in educational institutions, public places, parks, railways stations and other public places which only go to show that requisite sense of respect for women has not been socially cultivated, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagouda, JJ said that why the women in this country cannot be allowed to live in peace and lead a life that is empowered with a dignity and freedom.

In the present case, where the trial court had acquitted the accused by disregarding the version of parents of the deceased and other witnesses and treating the dying declaration as invalid on the ground that the deceased was not in a position to speak and there was no medical certificate appended as regards her fitness as the deceased had sustained 80% burn injuries as she had set herself ablaze in an attempt to end her life, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had reversed the order of acquittal. It was held that there is no reason to disregard the dying declaration as the Head Constable has recorded it as narrated by the deceased and the deceased has also written few words about the accused.

Stating that the instant case portrays the deplorable depravity of the appellant that has led to a heart-breaking situation for a young girl who has been compelled to put an end to her life, the Court held that the High Court has absolutely correctly reversed the judgment of acquittal and imposed the sentence. It has appositely exercised the jurisdiction and we concur with the same. [Pawan Kumar v. State of H.P., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 509, decided on 28.04.2017]