Flashback 2017: Landmark Supreme Court judgments this year
2017 was also a landmark year for the Indian judiciary system, with the apex court leading from the front in rolling out back-to-back historic judgments. This year is also seen as a year of judicial highs and lows.
The landmark judgment making privacy a fundamental right, upholding death sentences of Nirbhaya rapists, pronouncing Gurmeet Ram Rahim to be guilty of rape were welcomed. While decisions like releasing Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in Aarushi murder case, acquitting all the accused in 2G scam has left people disheartened.
Here's a look at some of the key judgements passed in 2017
Declaring Triple Talaq unconstitutional
The Supreme Court banned the controversial Islamic practice that allows men to leave their wives immediately by stating "talaq" (divorce) three times, calling the practice "unconstitutional".
A five-judge Constitution bench set aside the age-old practice by a majority of 3:2, holding it was unworthy of protection.
Triple talaq the personal law by which Muslim men can instantaneously divorce their wives by uttering talaq thrice"is not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality," the Supreme Court judges said.
Interestingly, all five judges on the bench belonged to five different faiths Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.
Right to Privacy a fundamental right
This was one of the 2017's biggest judgments and was made in response to the petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Indian biometric identity scheme, Aadhaar.
"The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution," the ruling said.
With this judgment, the government will be required to create a data protection regime to protect the privacy of the individual. Explaining the meaning and scope of privacy, the court held that it includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. The court further explained that there is a legitimate expectation of privacy even in public space and that the right is available against state as well as non-state actors.
Sex with minor wife criminalized
The Supreme Court held that a man's act of indulging in sex with a minor wife would amount to rape. In a landmark ruling, the top court read down exception 2 to Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code that allowed a man to have sexual relations with his wife above 15 years of age.
Before the Supreme Court verdict, the law did not find a man guilty of rape for having sexual intercourse with wife older than 15 years of age. While child marriage is a crime, this exception created conflict between laws.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 defines 'children' as those aged below 18. It has specific provisions declaring that 'penetrative sexual assault' and 'aggressive penetrative sexual assault' against children below 18 is rape.
2012 Delhi gangrape case
In May this year, the Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court and trial court decision to award death penalty to all four convicts in the December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder case.
The execution of Mukesh (27), Pawan Gupta (20), Vinay Sharma (21) and Akshay Thakur (29) was made certain by the SC with only an option of mercy petition left to the President.
The victim was assaulted and raped by six persons in a moving bus in south Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle along with her male friend on December 16 night. She later died in a Singapore hospital.
In 2013, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 or the Anti-Rape Bill, which was later called the Nirbhaya Act, came into existence. The new law mandated death penalty under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim found guilty of raping two women
A special CBI court sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in jail in two separate cases.
The religious leader, who had millions following him and subscribing to his faith, was sentenced to two 10-year terms of imprisonment and fined Rs 30 lakh after being found guilty of raping two women.
Sasikala guilty of corruption
A month after the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court held Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran guilty in the disproportionate assets case and ordered them to surrender forthwith before the trial court concerned.
It took Indian judiciary almost two decades to convict Sasikala Natarajan and three of her accomplices, including Late Jayalalithaa, in the disproportionate assets case.
Aarushi Talwar murder case
Dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were acquitted of all charges in the murder of their daughter Aarushi by the Allahabad High Court on October 12, 2017. They walked out free from the Ghaziabad Dasna Jail after spending four years in jail.
This murder mystery made news across the country as the parents, who were allegedly the main convicts in the murder were held not guilty by the court.
2G spectrum case accused walk free
A CBI court acquitted all 17 accused in the 2G spectrum case on December 21, including former telecom minister A Raja and Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK chief K Karunanidhi.
The court ruled that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove any of the allegations against the accused. However, since this was not a Supreme Court judgement, the case cannot be considered shut, especially since the CBI has made known its intention of appealing the verdict in High Court.