The supreme failure: failing to decide key constitutional cases

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The supreme failure: failing to decide key constitutional cases

  • By failing to decide key constitutional cases in a timely way, the apex court has not acted as the ‘sentinel on the qui vive’
  • In the last few years, the Indian Supreme Court has delivered some judgments of far-reaching consequence.
  • It declared the right to privacy a fundamental right; decriminalised consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex; recognised transgender persons as the third gender; and outlawed triple talaq.
  • These decisions shore up the belief in republican values like liberty and equality reified in our Constitution.

Black marks

  • The Vidhi Center for Legal Policy has developed an excellent comprehensive tracker of all the pending cases before the five-judge, seven-judge, and nine-judge constitution benches of the Supreme Court.
  • These cases relate to significant constitutional and other legal matters that can have serious repercussions on the fundamental rights of ordinary citizens and our core republican values.
  • These cases cannot be decided until the legal issues in the main cases before the constitutional benches are addressed.
  • Some of the important cases gathering dust in the Supreme Court are as follows.
  1. Challenging the constitutionality of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  2. In innumerable petitions have been filed challenging the Presidential Order of August 5, 2019, that effectively diluted Article 370 of the Constitution and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
  3. Petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Constitution(103rd Amendment)Act,2019 that provides reservations in public educational institutions and government jobs for economically weaker sections are also languishing in the Supreme Court.
  4. A momentous case known as Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India has been in the Supreme Court for more than five years. This case relates to the legality of demonetisation of all ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes aimed at curbing black money.
  5. The Supreme Court has failed to accord proper hearing in the last four years to the constitutional challenge to the electoral bonds scheme.

Constitutional duty

  • By abjectly failing to decide key constitutional cases in a time-bound manner, the Supreme Court has not acted as the “sentinel on the qui vive”.
  • The Court should perform its constitutional duty of being a formidable counterforce to brute majoritarianism.