Unbiased interpretation of judiciary of laws passed by the legislature is vital for ensuring sound democracy and inclusive society. Yet, the Indian Judiciary is plagued by patriarchal mindset, with interpretations being regressive and insensitive towards women. In this light, steps need to be taken to inculcate gender sensitivity in the Indian judiciary, so that it treats everyone as equal regardless of differences.
The Supreme Court has recently ruled against the protests at Shaheen Bagh by stating that the right to protest in a public place is not absolute and public places cannot be indefinitely occupied by such protests. While the protest ended in March, the verdict was given in October. This verdict is criticised for the apex court’s indifference towards the government’s ignorance of the voices of the people, which is the reason behind such lasting protest.
With the coronavirus pandemic roiling across the world, most of the government measures focus on containing the spread of the infection. In this situation, social issues, many of which are gender-related, are given lesser priority. This, along with the lockdown orders, has led to increased instances of violence against women, creating a new “shadow pandemic” amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Media is recognized as the fourth pillar of Democracy after Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. Therefore, to ensure democracy, there is a need for free and independent media. However, these days the role of media is often criticized, especially in reporting criminal matters. The media sometimes go beyond its domain and starts interfering with the functions of the court. Often the media have gone a step further and published information based on mere assumptions and suspicion about the line of investigation by the official agencies to vigorously report on the issue on a day to day basis and comment on the evidence without ascertaining the factual matrix. Such reporting has brought an undue pressure in the course of fair investigation and trial.
The Already burdened courts with a huge pile of cases to be heard along with the current COVID-19 induced break to the justice delivery system has made experts to renew the debate on having a robust alternate dispute resolution system in India. The Coming into force of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation recently has given a shot in the arm to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism worldwide.
Access to justice is a fundamental right, as well as a prerequisite for the protection of all other human rights. Norms and standards relating to access to justice for persons with disabilities are set out in a series of binding and non-binding instruments at international and regional levels. Across the world, persons with disabilities encounter considerable obstacles in terms of access to justice. Aiming to make it easier for disabled people around the world to access the justice system, The United Nations has released its first-ever guidelines on access to social justice for people with disabilities recently.
Recently Kesavananda Bharati, the seer of Edneer Mutt in Kasaragod district of Kerala, whose petition challenging the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 1969 led to the landmark “basic structure” doctrine verdict delivered by the Supreme Court in 1973, passed away. The case of Kesavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala was heard for 68 days and continues to hold the vertex spot for the longest proceedings ever to have taken place in the top court. The judgment is considered among the most significant and consequential decisions by the Supreme Court as it set out the “basic structure” of the Constitution that Parliament cannot amend.
With the retirement of Justice Arun Mishra on September 2, not only the strength of the Supreme Court judges will get reduced to 30 from the total 34 but the regional imbalance will get further accentuated. As many as nine high courts are not represented at all in the apex court and with Justice Mishra’s retirement, this will rise to 10. Justice Mishra belongs to the state of Madhya Pradesh and he is currently the only representative from the state. The high courts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Odisha have no judges in the Supreme Court currently. In this context the way in which the system of appointments is currently functioning needs a serious rethinking as advocated by recent survey published in May 2020 by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy with a majority of the surveyed advocates demanding greater transparency in its operation.
A 5-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the debate on quota within quota for SCs and STs by supporting their sub-classification to ensure equality in the upliftment of all within the marginalised community. Disagreeing with another SC verdict on the same subject, the case was referred to a larger bench comprising of 7 judges or more.