The Supreme Court has constituted a Constitution Bench comprising of CJI Dipak Misra, Justice A.M Khanwilkar, Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice R F Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra for hearing on several matters bearing significant Constitutional importance. These matters include:
- Criminalisation of Homosexuality
The Naz Foundation Judgment of the Supreme Court in 2013 was one of the most anticipated verdicts with reference to the daily life of a homosexual and his/her right to sexual preference. In a subsequent Criminal Writ Petition filed in 2016 (Navtej Singh Johar V Union of India), the constitutional validity of Section 377 IPC, by certain lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens of the Country, whose fundamental rights have been jeopardized by the said provision have been put forth for conclusive decision. The Bench would preside upon the fundamental question as to whether that Section 377 IPC, in so far as it destroys individual choice and sexual orientation, cannot be regarded as a reasonable restriction on the exercise of one’s fundamental rights.
- Sabarimala Women’s Entry
The Three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in a petition (Indian Young Lawyers Association and Ors Versus State of Kerala and Ors) filed before it seeking the right of entry to women devotees in the famed Lord Ayappa Temple in Sabarimala, referred a list of questions left to be answered by the Constitution bench as follows:
- Whether the exclusionary practice which is based upon a biological factor exclusive to the female gender amounts to “discrimination” and thereby violates the very core of Articles 14, 15 and 17 and not protected by ‘morality’ as used in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution?
- Whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an “essential religious practice” under Article 25 and whether a religious institution can assert a claim in that regard under the umbrella of right to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion?
- Whether Ayyappa Temple has a denominational character and, if so, is it permissible on the part of a ‘religious denomination’ managed by a statutory board and financed under Article 290-A of the Constitution of India out of Consolidated Fund of Kerala and Tamil Nadu can indulge in such practices violating constitutional principles/ morality embedded in Articles 14, 15(3), 39(a) and 51-A(e)?
- Whether Rule 3 of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules permits ‘religious denomination’ to ban entry of women between the ages of 10 to 50 years? And if so, would it not play foul of Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution by restricting entry of women on the grounds of sex?
- Whether Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules, 1965 is ultra vires the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965 and, if treated to be intra vires, whether it will be violative of the provisions of Part III of the Constitution?
3. Analysing existing Adultery Laws
In Joseph Shine Versus Union of India, the Three judge Bench of the Supreme Court sought to have the matter referred to a Constitutional Bench as the provisions of the IPC relating to adultery needed to be reconsidered as regard being had to the social progression, perceptual shift, gender equality and gender sensitivity.
- Disqualification of a Legislator at the stage of Framing of Charges
In order to tackle the increasing menace of criminilization of politics and the vast majority of citizens, charged with serious offences, contesting elections a Civil Writ Petition (InPublic Interest Foundation and Ors Versus Union of India and Anr) was filed seeking for guidelines and a framework. A Three Judge Bench referred the primary question tot eh Constitution Bench for finality and clarity- “Whether disqualification for membership can be laid down by the Court beyond Article 102(a) to (d) and the law made by Parliament under Article 120(e)?”
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