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    Top 7 Landmark Judgments of the Supreme Court (SC) of India

    Supreme Court of India is the apex judiciary body of the country. It has from its day of establishment passed various landmark judgments that have changed Indian democracy. Know about top 7 of such cases here.
    Created On: May 19, 2021 18:56 IST
    Modified On: May 19, 2021 19:15 IST
    Supreme Court Landmark Judgments
    Supreme Court Landmark Judgments

    Supreme Court of India is the apex judicial body and the most important part of the Constitution that is the Legislature. It always acts when the Executive crosses its lines and can make a mistake. Take a look at the top 7 defining judgments that shaped the future of the Indian Democracy. 

    Top 7 Landmark Judgments

    1. A.K Gopalan vs. State of Madras, 1950:

    The details of the issue:

    AK Gopalan was a Communist leader. He was kept in the Madras Jail in 1950 under Preventive Detention Law. Through the writ of Habeas Corpus and as per the Article 32 of the Constitution- he tested his detainment. He contended that Sections 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 of the Act abuses Articles 13, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution. As per his contest  the said Act should be ultra vires of the essential thing arrangements as revered under the Constitution of India.

    The solicitor further represented the issue of the Indian Constitution’s ‘method characterized by resolution’ condition.

    The Judgement: 

    The Supreme Court of India argued that Article 22 of the Indian Constitution was an independent Code . It said that Gopalan was kept by the system set up by law. 

    The court also stated that if an individual’s freedom is removed by the State as per the system set up by law it cannot be held that it is disregarding the arrangements contained in Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. 

    The apex court held out a restricted perspective on Article 21 in this case. While applying the regulation of severity, the zenith court pronounced segment 14 as void as it discovers it to be unconstitutional and violative of the key rights. Court stated the rule of the law (the system was in cognizance) called for the use of fair treatment and liberties on a global platform. The Court also said that the detainment was legitimate and thus writ was to be discarded. 

    2. Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalavaru vs. State of Kerala,1973

    Details of the issue:

    It is one of the supremely memorable cases of the Indian Judicial system. It was filed in 1970. Keshvananda Bharati was the chief of Edneer Mutt. It is a religious group in Kasaragod, Kerala. Bharati possessed several pieces of land in his name. It was then that the state government of Kerala had introduced the Land Reforms Amendment Act, 1969. 

    When the petition was still in court, many amendments were already done by the Government following the case of Golaknath v. State of Punjab. 

    The Judgement:

    The 13 judge Constitutional bench in the apec court by 7:6 ratio, delivered a landmark judgment in this case. It outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Constitution and gave stability to it. 

    The SC also held that not even a single part of the Constitution, including Fundamental Rights, was beyond the amending power of the Parliament, however, the “basic structure of the Constitution must not be abrogated even through a constitutional amendment.” 

    Bharati lost his case partially, but the case became a savior of Indian democracy and saved the Constitution from losing its spirit.

    3. Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India in 1977

    The details of the issue: 

    In 1977, the passport of Maneka Gandhi , daughter in law of Late PM Indira Gandhi, was impounded by the ruling Government of Janta Party. She filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging this order. 

    The Judgement:

    The court did not reverse the government order in this case, however, the judgement had far-reaching ramifications. The seven-judge bench said that the citizens have the right to personal liberty (Article 21 of the Constitution), which is an important precedent for fundamental right cases. 

    The case and the judgement has been cited 215 times by other Supreme Court judges in their judgments.

    As per Justice Chandra, “The Maneka Gandhi case epitomized the shift in legal jurisprudence in the late 1970s, with the Supreme Court taking on a more active role and trying to assert its legitimacy after the Emergency.”

    The Supreme Court was heavily criticised for failing to defend liberties and constitutional values during the Emergency.

    4. Shayara Bano vs Union of India & Others in 2017

    The details of the issue:

    In the year 2016, Shayara Bano was divorced by Rizwan Ahmad after 15 years of marriage through instantaneous triple talaq method or talaq -e bidat. A Writ Petition was filed in the Supreme Cour to hold talaq-e-biddat, polygamy, nikah-halala practiced in Muslim Community as unconstitutional. 

    Bano also claimed that such practices violated the articles 14, 15, 21, 25 of the Indian Constitution. 

    The Judgement:

    The Union of India and the women rights organizations like Bebaak Collective and Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) supported Shayara Bano's plea. They agreed that such practices must be labelled unconstitutional. The apex court formed a 5 judge constitutional bench after the plea was accepted. SC stated that triple talaq in any form was illegal. It also declared instant triple talaq as unconstitutional. On 22nd August 2017, the apex court announced a legal ban on Triple Talaq with up to three years jail for the husband.

    5. SR Bommai vs. Union of India in 1994

    The details of the issue:

    S.R. Bommai was the Chief Minister of the Janata Dal Government. He was in service in Karnataka between August 13, 1988, and April 21, 1989. On April 21, 1989, the state government’s rule was dismissed citing Article 356 of the Constitution which is the State Emergency or widely known as the President’s Rule. This tactic was most commonly used to keep Opposition parties under control. Bommai moved to Karnataka High court against the Governor’s decision that recommended Article 356 in the state. 

    The Judgement:

    Karnataka High Court dismissed his writ petition. Then, the minister took the case to the Supreme Court. It was the nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that issued the historic order on March 11, 1994. 

    The verdict stated that the power of the President to dismiss a State government is not absolute. It added that the President must exercise it only after getting it approved by both Houses of Parliament. 

    It allowed the President to only suspend the Legislative Assembly till then. The judgement read, "The dissolution of the Legislative Assembly is not a matter of course. It should be resorted to only where it is found necessary for achieving the purposes of the Proclamation."

    This judgement is important because it put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments under Article 356 pointing towards restrictions.

    6. Navtej Singh Johar vs. Union of India in 2018

    Details of the Issue:

    Navtej Johar and five others from the LGBT community filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in June 2016. On September 6, 2018, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was struck down unanimously by a five-judge Bench. 

    The Judgement:

    The court allowed consensual relationships among the individuals of the LGBT community which made it one of the historic Supreme Court judgments. Supreme Court also made it clear that the choice of LGBT persons to enter into physical relationship with persons of the same sex is their choice. They are equally entitled to the enforcement of their Fundamental Rights. 

    The Apex Court also decriminalized relationship in the same sex when it was consensual. The Court, however, upheld provisions in Section 377 that criminalize non-consensual acts performed on animals.

    7. Indra Sawhney and Others vs. Union of India & Others

    Details of the issue:

    The case highlighted a major issue. The Indian Constitution recognized social and educational backwardness,however, economic backwardness was missed. In the year 1993, Indira Sawhney filed a case against Narasimha Rao Government. The case was against the Government allowing just 10 % reservation for economically backward categories of upper castes in various Government jobs. 

    The Judgement:

    The Supreme Court in its judgment stated that a 50 % cap was to be imposed on caste-based reservations. 

    The apex court also upheld separate reservations for OBCs in central government jobs but with the exclusion of the creamy layer. The Judgement also stated that the reservations in appointments under Article 16 (4) of the Constitution would not be applicable to promotions. Judgment implemented, with 27% central government reservation for OBCs. The verdict was however not followed in many states and was again pressed in 1989.

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