Law of the land: Five major verdicts by Supreme Court in 2022

The Supreme Court suspended criminal trials and court proceedings under Section 124A of Indian Penal Code while allowing the Union of India to reconsider the law.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

1 . Colonial sedition law put on hold

The Supreme Court suspended criminal trials and court proceedings under Section 124A of Indian Penal Code while allowing the Union of India to reconsider the law. It said it expected that state and Central governments would restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any probe or taking any coercive steps by invoking Section 124A while the reconsideration of the colonial provision was on. It granted liberty to parties to approach courts for reliefs in case any fresh case is registered under the law and requested the courts to consider their cases by considering SC’s order and Centre’s stand the provision needed “reexamination”.

2. Abortion rights granted to all women

The Supreme Court held that prohibiting unmarried or single pregnant women with pregnancies up to 24 weeks from accessing abortion while allowing married women to access them during the same period falls foul of the spirit of right to equality. Acknowledging the existence of abusive relationship within marital institutions, it also ruled that pregnancy of married women can be treated as “marital rape” for the purposes of abortion. It ruled to abort pregnancy on the grounds of martial rape, a woman need not seek recourse to legal proceedings to prove the fact of sexual assault, rape or incest.

3. 2-finger test on victims banned

Remarking that two-finger test revictimises and retraumatises women who may have been sexually assaulted, the Supreme Court asked the Central government to ensure that the practice is stopped. Expressing concerns with regards to the test still being conducted irrespective of the same being declared as violative of the right of rape survivors to privacy and dignity in 2013 by the top court, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said it is patriarchal and sexist to suggest a woman cannot be believed when she states that she was raped, merely for the reason that she is sexually active.

4. 10% EWS quota in education, jobs upheld

The Supreme Court by 3:2 majority upheld the constitutionality of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment (impugned amendment) that granted 10% reservation to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in admission to public and private educational institutions and recruitment in Central government jobs. The impugned amendment which came into effect in 2019 had introduced Articles 15(6) and 16(6) that provided 10% reservation to persons belonging to EWS excluded Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBCs)/OBCs/SCs/STs from its ambit.

5. Split verdict on Karnataka hijab ban delivered

The Supreme Court delivered a spilt verdict in the batch of pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court’s ruling of upholding the prohibition of wearing hijab in educational institutions of the state. While upholding the ban of hijab, Justice Hemant Gupta in his judgment said that the practice of wearing hijab could be restricted by the state as per the government order. In a diverging opinion, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia while quashing the government order said that it was against the constitutional value of fraternity and integrity. The stay on hijab ban will prevail till the SC forms a larger bench.

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The New Indian Express