It is expected to be a busy Monday for the top court of India. From personal autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy, the Supreme Court has geared up to hear four cases of extreme national importance on Monday.
Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan will listen to arguments on the Aadhaar (Unique Identification Number) case. The petition has been filed by the West Bengal government and challenges the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory to avail social welfare benefits.
On 25 October, the Centre had told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail benefits of various government schemes has been extended till 31 March next year for those who do not have the 12-digit biometric identification number.
Attorney-General KK Venugopal had told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the deadline extension from December end this year till 31 March, 2018, would apply only to those who do not have Aadhaar and are willing to enroll for it. However, Venugopal had told the bench that he would take instructions on certain issues on Aadhaar after which the court had asked him to mention the matter again on 30 October.
Hindustan Times reported that the court will also hear a plea challenging a move to make Aadhaar-mobile number linkage mandatory.
Jammu and Kashmir autonomy (Article 35A)
The court will also take up petitions which challenge the constitutional validity of Article 35A of the Constitution, according to The Indian Express. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud will hear four petitions which have asked for scrapping the provision. The main petition was filed by Delhi-based NGO We the Citizens in 2014 after which three more petitions were filed and clubbed with the original one.
The court had agreed to hear the matter in August. Earlier the apex court had favoured hearing of the matter by a five-judge constitution bench in case the Article is ultra vires of the Constitution or if there is any procedural lapse. The court had said that a three-judge bench will hear the matter and refer it to a five-judge bench if necessary.
The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Charu Wali Khanna challenging Article 35A of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution which deal with the “permanent residents” of the state. The plea has challenged certain provisions of the Constitution which deny property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which makes such women from the state lose rights over property, also applies to her son.
Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir. It also empowers the state’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other states or any other right under the Indian Constitution.
Kerala “Love Jihad”
The case of 24-year-old Hadiya’s marriage to a Muslim man will also be heard on Monday. The matter had been adjourned at the last hearing after opposing lawyers got into a high-pitched war of words.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had got irked when senior lawyer Dushayant Dave, appearing for the husband Shafin Jahan, referred to statement by BJP president Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and imputed political motive. “Yogi Adityanath spoke of ‘love jihad’ in Kerala… this court should know the ground realities,” Dave had said, adding that Shah had also visited Kerala.
“Unless a political personality’s conduct directly affects this case, let us keep it out of here.. We do not have to bring the extra-legal authority here who is unrelated,” the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, had said.
Jahan had on 20 September approached the apex court seeking recall of its order directing the NIA to investigate the controversial case of conversion and marriage of a Hindu woman with him. Hadiya, a Hindu, had converted to Islam and later married Jahan. It was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State’s mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra will lead a bench which will hear petitions demanding strict guidelines for children’s safety in private schools, according to News18. The cases were filed after the murder of an eight-year-old boy in Gurgaon’s Ryan International school in September 2017.
The court had earlier sought responses from the Centre and all state governments in a plea seeking framing of “non-negotiable” child safety conditions and implementation of guidelines to protect school children from sexual abuse and murder.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud had issued notices and sought the responses within three weeks from the Union human resources ministry and all state governments and union territories on the plea filed by two women lawyers, Abha R Sharma and Sangeeta Bharti. The top court tagged the plea of the lawyers along with the petition filed by the father of seven-year-old Pradyumna, who was killed allegedly by a bus conductor at Gurugram’s Ryan International School.
The PIL, filed through lawyer Sujeeta Srivastava, has raised the issue of children “being exploited and subjected to child abuse repeatedly within the boundaries of the schools” and demanded that Central and state governments notify a set of “non-negotiable” child safety conditions for schools. It has sought proper implementation of existing guidelines of authorities including the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on prevention of child abuse in schools.
The Ryan school murder had raised the issue of children’s safety in schools after Pradhuman Thakur, a Class II student of Ryan International School in Sohna, was found dead at his school. The child’s throat was slit and the bloodied up body was found inside a toilet designated for staff members at the school on Friday. The police later arrested the school’s bus conductor and detained 9 other people, including a gardener and drivers.
The matter involving the implementation of the Lodha reforms too will be heard on Monday, according to The Indian Express. The reforms haven’t been implemented in the fifteen months which have elapsed since the judgment was passed on 18 July, 2016. The Committee of Administrators (CoA) has prepared a draft BCCI constitution, including the suggestion given by the Lodha Committee “in its entirety” as per the court order. During the last hearing, the court had directed the BCCI office-bearers to give suggestions with regard to the draft constitution within three weeks.
From inputs from agencies