Renovation of Pillars of Democracy
Supreme Court, Apex Court, SC, whatever you may call it, it has been in the headlines for quite a while now, and rightfully so, since the judges have been surprisingly very forward and adaptive in their verdicts. India’s latest judicial achievements include:
Death Penalty for Nirbhaya convicts
Amendment of section 377
The Triple Talaq
The scrapping of Section 498
Laws for entering Sabarimala Temple
A minimal compulsion for linking Aadhaar
Privacy laws and many more
Also, for a country that plagues with sexual stigma, two of these laws are pro-sexual liberation and gender sensitized. For the biggest constitution in the world which has taken inspiration from not just other constitutions of the world but also from ancient scripts like the Manusmriti, the Vedas and the Upanishads, these amendments were long overdue.
”Justice delayed is justice denied” is a term we are all familiar with but I believe in “सुबह का भूला अगर शाम को घर आ जाए तो उसे भूला नहीं कहते” i.e. Better late than never. Justice Indu Malhotra said and I quote, “History owes an apology to the LGBTQ community” she further adds, “The members of this [LGBTQ+] community were compelled to live a life full of fear of reprisal and persecution. This was on account of the ignorance of the majority to recognize that homosexuality is a completely natural condition, part of a range of human sexuality.” And this, I think is history in the breaking (pun intended) where we see the judicial pillar of India seeks adaptation with the modern times. It’s like renovation.
To prove my point, that the benches have been most considerate and unbiased in their verdicts can be proven from these excerpts:
“Any provision treating a woman with inequality is not Constitutional.”
“Ancient notions of a man being perpetrator and woman being a victim no longer holds good.”
“…Privacy enables the individual to retain the autonomy of the body and mind. The autonomy of the individual is the ability to make decisions on vital matters of concern to life…Privacy of the body entitles an individual to the integrity of the physical aspects of personhood.”
Justice Chandrachud on Adultery:
“The right to privacy depends on the exercise of autonomy and agency by individuals. In situations where citizens are disabled from exercising these essential attributes, Courts must step in to ensure that dignity is realized in the fullest sense. Familial structures cannot be regarded as private spaces where constitutional rights are violated. To grant immunity in situations when the rights of individuals are in a siege is to obstruct the unfolding vision of the Constitution.”
And finally, my personal favorite from Justice Indu Malhotra on Section 377:
“Homosexual behavior is not an aberration but a variation…”
Although, sometimes benches differ, and necessarily so, for example, in the Sabarimala case, Justice Malhotra dissents saying “What constitutes essential religious practice not for Court to decide.”
But at the end of the day, the common point for commencement of these talks at least lies in our hands, the citizens of this country, who filed PILs, challenged the establishment, got to the roots and most importantly, kept questioning. Because change is the only constant.