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Aadhaar, Ram Mandir, Sabarimala: CJI Dipak Misra will preside over several key cases before he demits office in October

Aadhaar, Ram Mandir, Sabarimala: CJI Dipak Misra will preside over several key cases before he demits office in October

The outgoing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who is set to retire in October, has some big judgments to look into before he demits his office. Misra is expected to deliver judgments in cases pertaining to the legality of Aadhaar and whether to refer the issue of mosques being essential to Islam to a larger bench, a case that may have a bearing on the Ayodhya dispute as well.

Aadhaar hearing

The Aadhaar case in which the court has to take a call on the constitutional validity of the Centre's all-pervasive scheme, is among the major awaited verdicts by the top court. There has been an uproar over the issue as activists have termed the govt's scheme as an unreasonable restriction on the right of a citizen to privacy, which has been declared a fundamental right by the apex court.

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi had earlier in court drawn attention to reports that 210 central websites were breached, exposing personal data of consumers who had linked Aadhaar and thus there is a fear that an all-invasive approach could further worsen the damage in such a situation. But since Misra has already concluded a four-month-long hearing in the case in May — considered the second lengthiest in the history of the Supreme Court — he would tend to the urgency.

Though, according to The Economic Times report, he has several more weighty Constitutional matters for consideration before him including contentious subjects like, whether charged lawmakers must be disqualified and an order on the religious rights of Hindu and Parsi women. The CJI will also rule on the legality of curbs on women of certain ages entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

Misra, while hearing the case on Section 377 in July, had indicated that its collapse will allow people from the LGBTQ community to come to court to overcome discrimination and claim their individual rights. “A declaration from the court will remove the ancillary disqualifications for people joining services, contesting elections. It will no longer be seen as moral turpitude,” the CJI had  observed. Misra, while reserving the court's verdict, had said that if the law criminalising gay sex is struck down, it would awaken the LGBTQ community members and help them to live "life to the fullest". Thus, equally forthright decisions are expected out him during his last two months in service.

Ram Mandir Case: Is mosque integral to Islam

The outgoing CJI is also expected to rule on whether to refer the issue of mosques being essential to Islam to a larger bench before the court finalises its verdict on it since an earlier ruling which had said that mosques weren't essential to Islam had led the Muslim community to protest fearing it would compromise their claim in the Ayodhya land dispute.

In July, the Supreme Court reserved its order on a plea by Muslim groups of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute seeking reconsideration by a larger bench the observations made by it in a 1994 verdict that a mosque was not integral to Islam.

M Siddiq, one of the original litigants of the Ayodhya case who died and is being represented through his legal heir, had assailed certain findings of the 1994 verdict in the case of M Ismail Faruqui holding that a mosque was not integral to the prayers offered by the followers of Islam.

It was argued by Muslim groups before a special bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer that the "sweeping" observation of the apex court in the verdict needed to be reconsidered by a five-judge bench as "it had and will have a bearing" on the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case.

"The order is reserved," the bench had said and asked the parties to give written submissions by 24 July. Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for legal representative of Siddiq, said the observations that mosques are not essential for practising Islam were made by the apex court without conducting any enquiry or considering the religious texts.

"It was a sweeping observation which requires to be reconsidered before the apex court hears the title dispute," he said.

At the outset, sharp exchanges of words took place when a lawyer objected to Dhavan's earlier remarks that “Hindu Taliban” had destroyed the Babri mosque in 1991. ”He cannot be allowed to use such words against the entire Hindu community,” the lawyer said. ”The destruction of Babri mosque was a terrorist act. I will not take back my words. I stand by my words,” Dhavan said.

Sabarimala case

The verdict on women's entry into the Sabrimala temple would also be keenly awaited, given the controversy surrounding it in light of the Kerala floods. According to reports, some people had shared rumours on social media that the heavy rains in the state were due to the curse of Lord Ayyappa who was angered on women being allowed inside the Sabrimala temple premises. Hence, a final SC judgement on focusing on whether excluding women in the age group of 10-50 years 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", would be much sought for. But, CJI Dipak Misra will only have 25 working days to  hear these cases before he hands over the command to his successor.

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