The year 2017 saw significant trend for Fundamental Rights Protection in India. Supreme Court of India constituted a 5 judge Benches more readily to decide the significant Fundamental Rights cases.
Fourth Edition of Rights in Review Report, which has been published by Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) discusses the 11 Important SC Judgements which affected the Fundamental Rights.
Report analyses the Supreme Court decisions on the fundamental rights, which have extended or modified legal doctrine, applied to new law to new circumstances or have otherwise had a significant impact on the public policy or the public affairs.
Among important judgments are as follows: Justice KS Puttaswamy v Union of India, Independent Thought v Union of India and Shayara Bano v Union of India.
Justice Puttaswamy’s case, a Nine Judge Bench, unequivocally held that all the individuals have a Constitutionally protected Fundamental Right to Privacy.
Case brought by NGO Independent Thought is what finally prompted the Court to strike down as unconstitutional child marital rape, which was hitherto validated under the Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.
While Shayara Bano case, majority of 3:2 judges invalidated the practice of Triple Talaq. The 3 judges who were in agreement on striking down the Triple Talaq, the reports states that each judge found their own independent explanation to support this conclusion, rather than a uniform interpretation of the law.
Aadhaar case has now been reserved for judgement. Another case which is tied to judgment in impending Aadhaar judgment is the case of Binoy Viswam v Union of India, which allowed the mandatory linking of PAN card with Aadhaar, albeit with prospective effect.
Extension of State responsibility to Private Sector: In Secretary, Mahatma Gandhi Case v. Kamgar Sena, Supreme Court extended Pay Commission recommendations to the unaided Private Institutions citing the state obligations under Article 43. While doing so, it extended the scope and horizontal application of equality guarantee to private actors. An argument can be made that this case collapsed the division between public and private sectors in reaching their judgment.
Right to Education means Right to Quality education: In State of Uttar Pradesh v. Anand Kumar Yadav, the Court struck down the Uttar Pradesh Right to Education Amendment, which regularised the employment of 1.74 lakh Siksha Mitras (Contractual Workers) as elementary school teachers. It affirmed that Right to Education under Article 21A means Right to Quality Education. No trade-off can be made with Quality for purpose of a wider reach. This will have significant policy implication; similar moves by other states have become void after this judgment.
The other landmark cases that find their mention in the Report are the cases of Nikesh Tarachand Shah v Union of India (in which Section 45 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act was struck down), Arjun Gopal and Ors. v Union of India (regarding the ban on Firecrackers in the National Capital Territory of Delhi) and Hussain and Others v Union of India (regarding the rights of undertrial prisoners, including early release and grant of bail).