Amid the ongoing rift between the chief justice and four seniormost judges over assignment of cases, the Supreme Court’s five-judge constitution benches will commence the hearing on eight critical matters, including the one related to the validity of Aadhaar, from January 17. The information was uploaded on the website of the apex court. Besides the challenge to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, the constitution benches, the composition of which has not been uploaded so far on the apex court’s website, will also deal with a challenge to its 2013 judgment, re-criminalising gay sex between consenting adults. The constitution benches would hear the contentious issue relating to the ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple and also resume the hearing on a legal query on whether a Parsi woman would lose her religious identity if she married a man from a different religion.
The other contentious matter relates to the challenge to the validity of a penal law on adultery, which only punishes a married man for having an extra-marital sexual relationship with a woman married to someone else. The other issues which would be dealt with by the constitution benches include the pleas, which have raised a question as to when will a lawmaker, facing a criminal trial, stand disqualified. All these matters were earlier referred to larger benches for adjudication on important legal issues by separate benches of the apex court.
These matters will come up for hearing from January 17. In an unprecedented move, four seniormost judges of the apex court — justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — at a press conference yesterday, had mounted a virtual revolt against the CJI, listing a litany of problems, including the assignment of cases. They had said that there were certain issues afflicting the country’s highest court and warned that these could destroy the Indian democracy.