After the verdicts of Ayodhya and Rafale in 2019, SC will decide on CAA and J&K this year
NEW DELHI: At a time when dissent gets traction between intellectuals and social networks, the Supreme Court in 2019 achieved the unexpected by issuing a unanimous verdict on the 70-year land dispute and putting a stamp of approval on the agreement to buy 36 full of Rafale loaded from France.
To achieve unanimity in the contentious dispute of the land of Ayodhya, which was argued belligerent for 40 days, the credit must go to each of the five judges, who came from different backgrounds and regions, and to the leadership of then CJI as the who are leading the legal battle had predicted a divided verdict. The decision was unique, since it did not have the name of the author, a gesture from the bank leader to recognize the contribution of each judge: Judges S A Bobde (now CJI), D & Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
Controversy over the purchase of Rafale aircraft from France, participation of Anil Ambani The firm as an Indian offshore partner of French manufacturer Dassault, along with incessant reports in documents selected by a section of the media forced the SC to revisit its December 2018 verdict giving a clean speech to the NDA government. Claimants - Prashant Bhushan, Arun shourie & Yashwant Sinha - They went out of their way to take Rafale to the infamy of Bofors. After a detailed examination, the court reached the same conclusion: nothing wrong with the agreement. The only one who faced an awkward situation was former congressional chief Rahul Gandhi, who apologized to SC for incorrectly citing the court order in public. He was advised to be careful in the future.
The SC also revisited its decision quashing the custom that barred entry of women in 10-50 years’ age group into Ayyappa temple in Kerala. If the earlier decision was 4-1, the five-judge bench by 3-2 majority decided to send the contentious issue to a seven-judge bench. The majority judgement said the 7-judge bench must chart out a guideline for the court to decide in future on issues where fundamental rights clashed with faith & custom. The larger bench in the new year could also look into discriminatory practices in other religions - entry of women into mosques, entry of Parsi women who are married outside the community into Agiyari & the practice of female genital mutilation in Bohra Muslim community.
Though it gave judgements on three contentious issues - Ayodhya, Rafale & Sabarimala, the SC would get no respite in 2020, with the first task in hand being adjudication on the constitutional validity of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which saw nation-wide protests.
Another Constitution bench headed by Justice N V Ramana will also decide on the constitutional validity of the Centre’s decision to end the 70-year-long special status conferred on Jammu & Kashmir under of the Constitution & divide the state into two Union Territories. Justice Ramana-headed bench will also deliver judgement on validity of restrictions imposed on use of mobile phones & internet after the August 5 decision.
The SC also redeemed people’s faith in it by upholding disqualification of 15 Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka, who played a key role in toppling the coalition government led by H D Kumaraswamy. However, the bench headed by Justice Ramana expressed anguish over Speakers increasingly forgetting their impartial role & dancing to the tune of the party in office.
If prolonged mobile phone shutdown post-August 5 caused hardship to residents of the Kashmir valley, the SC decision allowing government to recover Rs 92,000 crore from telecom service providers pushed the operators to a corner & the sector into a tailspin. It also judicially examined the CBI vs CBI fight erupting from personal differences between then director Alok Verma & the special director Rakesh Asthana & the powers of the Centre to divest the CBI chief of his powers & send the two top agency officials on leave. Though SC reinstated Verma, he was quickly replaced by a PM-led high-level panel.
After lulling the shadow boxing between Verma & Asthana, the SC penalised the West Bengal police for seeing a ghost in the movie ‘Bhobhisyoter Bhoot’ & unofficially pressuring theatre owners not to screen the film. It also granted bail to P Chidamabram, refusing to go by the contents of the sealed cover docket provided by ED about corruption by the former finance minister in the INX media foreign investment case.