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Year in review: Supreme Court's landmark judgments in 2019

The Supreme Court, being the highest court of the country, remains busy all round the year entertaining a variety of important cases. This year, however, it had the arduous task of adjudicating one of the most sensitive cases in independent India's history -- the Ayodhya title dispute.
Year in review: Supreme Court's landmark judgments in 2019

The Supreme Court, being the highest court of the country, remains busy all round the year entertaining a variety of important cases. This year, however, it had the arduous task of adjudicating one of the most sensitive cases in independent India's history -- the Ayodhya title dispute.

The top court gave a peaceful closure to the decades-old politically and religiously sensitive case in a verdict that will be remembered for striking a balance between faith and rule of law.

As we say goodbye to another eventful year, let's take a look at some of the significant judgements passed by the top court in 2019:

Ayodhya land dispute

The Supreme Court put an end to the decades-old Ayodhya title dispute case in November. It gave the title to the entire 2.77-acre disputed property in Ayodhya to the deity Ram Lalla, after recognising it as a legitimate legal entity.

A five-judge Constitution bench of the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer in a unmous verdict said the disputed property will be managed in Lord Ram's name by a temple trust that has to be set up by the Central government within three months, under the provisions of the Acquisition of Certain Area under the Ayodhya Act 1993.

The trust will have the responsibility for managing the site, construction, maintenance and management of the Ram temple, top court said.

It also ordered that the Sunni Waqf Board will be given 5 acres of land in Ayodhya for construction of a mosque.

Following the verdict, several review petitions were filed by different parties, however, they were all dismissed by the top court.

The aggrieved parties now have the only option of filing a curative petition, the last resort available for appeal against a judgement in the court of law.

Sabarimala Temple review

In 2018, the top court had allowed women of all ages to enter Kerala's Sabarimala Temple. The order came under stiff opposition from various groups who later sought a review of the verdict.

Acting on the numerous petitions, in November this year, the Supreme Court referred the issue to a larger, seven-judge bench.

The bench will re-examine other religious issues, including the entry of women into mosques, the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community and also Parsi women married to non-Parsi men being barred from the holy fire temple.

End of Rafale case

The Supreme Court dismissed review petitions filed against its December 14, 2018 judgement upholding the 36 Rafale jets' deal. The apex court said that there was no merit in the review petitions and that no probe was required in the purchase deal.

Rahul Gandhi cleared of contempt case

The top court closed the contempt case filed against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi but censured him for wrongly attributing his remark 'Chowkidar chor hai' against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the apex court.

The apex court said the remarks made by Rahul Gandhi were far from true, and he should have refrained using it and could have been careful.

CJI office now under RTI

Bringing in more transparency in the functioning of the top court, the Supreme Court in November ruled that the office of Chief Justice of India is "public authority" which would fall under the purview of the transparency law, Right to Information Act (RTI).

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court while upholding a 2010 judgement of the Delhi High Court, which ruled that office of the CJI comes under the purview of RTI, said transparency doesn't undermine judicial independence.

Apart from the major judgements, the Supreme Court was in the news over an unprecedented controversy surrounding sexual harassment allegations against the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by a former top court employee.

Justice Gogoi was later given a clean chit by the Supreme Court's In-House Inquiry Committee, headed by present Chief Justice SA Bobde, who was then second senior-most Judge of the apex court.

Going ahead in 2020, the Supreme Court is set to remain the centre stage of various high-stakes cases including the challenge to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

It will also hear in January petitions challenging the August 5 Presidential Order by which Article 370, granting special status to the Jammu and Kashmir, was revoked.

The top court will also hear petitions that have claimed that children were detained after the August 5 lockdown in Kashmir valley following the abrogation of Article 370.

The Supreme Court will hear petition against the issuance of Electoral Bond Scheme, for the purpose of donations to political parties, notified by the Central government on January 2, 2018.

( With inputs from ANI )

Year in review: Supreme Court's landmark judgments in 2019
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