India is a democratic country, and every citizen living here has the privilege to enjoy the rights laid down in the Indian constitution irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, gender etc. Judiciary ensures that the citizens' rights are protected and settles disputes on various matters by abiding by the law. Settlement of certain cases results in the passing of some remarkable judgements that become a stepping stone in the country's development.
The year 2021 has witnessed progressive judgements by the Supreme Court and High Courts of various states. These responsible judgements by the judiciary help us uphold our faith in the judicial system and move forward in accordance with the law.
Consent of Family & Community Not Needed Once Two Adults Decide to Marry- SC
The Supreme Court passed the judgement on February 2021, stating that the consent of family or community is not required if two adults have decided to marry each other. A division bench of Justice Sanjay Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy said that adults choosing their spouses could differ from previous societal norms, which stressed taking consent of the caste and community. The judgement was made after a man filed a missing person complaint against his daughter, who had married a man without informing him. The Supreme Court rejected the father's petition and passed the order favouring the couple. The court judgement further said,
"Where society is already well-knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking caste is inter-marriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste."
The order has come to the rescue of various couples who face difficulties getting married because they aren't getting consent from their family. The court judgment protects an individual's power over their own life and empowers them to make decisions without fearing their clan or community.
Issue Aadhaar, Voter ID Cards & Ration Cards To Sex Workers- SC
The Supreme Court, on December 14, 2021, directed States and Union Territories to immediately start the process of issuing voter ID cards, Aadhaar and ration cards to sex workers across the country. The judgement was made by the bench led by Justice L Nageswara Rao, which said fundamental rights are guaranteed to every citizen irrespective of vocation.
It also stated that the order of providing ration cards to all sex workers was passed back in 2011 by the top court, but they remain to be implemented. The apex court was listening to the plea by an NGO named 'Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee' before passing the judgement. On September 29, 2020, the court asked the Centre and others to provide a dry ration without their identity proof.
Through such judgements, people can change their attitude towards specific vocations and value people for who they are. This can reshape the citizens' behaviour and philosophy, which will make it easier for people of all sections of society to live in harmony.
Remove 'Queerphobic' Sections From MBBS Textbooks- Kerala HC
Kerala High Court, on September 7, 2021, passed a judgement asking government authorities to remove the discriminatory and inhuman references to LGBTQIA+ people from MBBS textbooks. The decision was made in the case filed by two NGOs representing the queer community, Queerythm and Disha. The NGOs argued that the textbook violated the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. As reported by The Wire, the court said,
"Supreme Court of India has recognised Transgender as a Gender Identity in National Legal Service Authority vs Union Of India and legalised consensual homosexuality between adults in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. The parliament enacted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, recognising the rights and to provide for protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare. The textbooks mentioned above and the curriculum is not modified on the lines of the development of law and social changes."
The judgement helps counter queerphobia existing amongst citizens as bringing a change in the existing curriculum is an excellent way to uproot the misconceptions one has towards the LGBTQIA+ community.
Every Child has the Right to Use their Mother's Surname, & Father Does Not have The Right To Dictate The Child To Use His Surname Instead- Delhi HC
Delhi High Court, on August 6, 2021, passed a judgement stating that every child has the right to use their mother's surname, and the father cannot force the child to have his surname. The verdict was passed while rejecting the plea moved by a man seeking directions to authorities to keep his name as a surname on his daughter's records and not her mother's. As reported by The Indian Express,
"Every child has a right to use their mother's surname, and the father does not own the child to dictate that she should use only his surname. If the minor girl is happy with her name, who are you now to say? You are not taking care of her. You are not living with her," said Justice Rekha Palli to the petitioner.
The judgement is a significant breakthrough in a patriarchal society like ours, which values men more than women. In this country, most women keep their father's or husband's name as their surname. Here, when the court is helping to break the stereotype that had been existing in our society for a very long time.
Right to Practice Religion Certainly Subservient To Right To Life- Madras HC
The judgment, which says that the right to life is more important than religion, was passed on July 2, 2021, by the division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, reported The Indian Express. The court judgement stated,
"The right to practice religion is certainly subservient to the right to life, and when the right to life is threatened, the right to practice religion can only take a backseat."
The court passed the judgement while disposing of a PIL that asked the Tamil Nadu government to reopen places of worship without any restrictions. Even though the court considered citizens' right to religion and ordered the reopening of temples, Covid-19 regulations were asked to be strictly followed. The judgement is striking because even when the court protects a person's right to religion, they are making no compromise on one's right to life. The judgment indicates that life is much more important no matter how important one's faith is to them. It is a much-needed eye-opener in this pandemic situation.
All these judgements have proved the worth of the Indian judiciary and built a faith that India's judicial system is helping its citizens walk in the path of progressiveness. May the year 2022 also witness such progressive judgements that will help India develop better.