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7 Landmark Court Cases In History That Made Way For New Laws In India


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  1. The Nirbhaya Case – Led to the change in the Juvenile Justice Act


The incident behind the nirbhaya case will held on 16th December 2012, a brutal gang rape. A 23 year old girl named Nirbhaya was raped in a bus by 6 people. The culprits include 5 adults and a juvenile aged 17. After the crime the criminals threw her body on to the road.

After the court proceedings the adults where sent to the jail for 10 years and the juvenile was sent to correctional facility for 3 years. During the trial period one of the adult criminal was found dead in jail.

But the judgement of the case will create a big shock on the people and they all are against it. There were protests to try him as an adult. This will make a replacement in the juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The age bar to be tried as an adult was lowered from 18 to 16 years


  1. Shah Bano Begum vs Mohd Ahmed Khan – A win for secularism & Muslim women across the country


Shah Bano was a Muslim lady who was the mother of five and aged 62 when she was divorced by her husband, Mohd Ahmed Khan, in 1978. At that time she filed a case to get alimony but this was against Islamic customs. The government also supports the husband instead of the lady.

When considering the security and welfare of women the Supreme Court on the favour of the women, Shah Bano. So she gets maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

This judgement now entitles all ex-Muslim wives to basic maintenance of 3 months from their ex-spouses, post which their care is handed over to their relatives or the WAKF board.


  1. KM Nanvati vs State of Maharashtra – The death of jury trials


KM Nanavati was a naval officer. His wife is Sylvia. After their Marriage she had an affair with husband’s  friend, Prem Ahuja. On 27th April, 1959, Sylvia confessed to her husband about her relationship with Ahuja, but he did intend to marry her. Nanavati then dropped his wife and children off at the theatre and went to confront Prem Ahuja. He asked Ahuja that if he was willing to marry Sylvia & take care of the children. He refused, so Nanavati shot him.

The intriguing story received a lot of media coverage and the jury was said to have been ‘influenced’ by it. Nanavati’s connections with the influential families were also cited as reasons for the jury to rule in his favour.

The case then went to Bombay High Court, where the judge overruled the jury’s verdict and found Nanavati guilty of murder, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. He was however pardoned 3 years later. The case threw light on the fact that a jury could be influenced, thereby abolishing the jury system.


  1. Mary Roy vs State of Kerala – Daughters became equals

Mary Roy, mother of Arundhati Roy, makes a way to change the aspects of inheritance act. Her father passed away without leaving a will, then according to Travancore Christian Succession Act, 1092, if a man died without leaving a will for his daughter, she would not be entitled to anything. A son, however, would get the property.

Mary Roy invoked Article 14 and she fights for getting equality in property rights. This fight was not just for herself, but for all Syrian Christian women. The Supreme Court ruled that the Indian Succession Act, 1925, be applied to Christians in Travancore and Cochin too.

Through this Act both sons & daughters whose father was died before preparing a will get equal succession rights.


  1. Mathura – The Minor who brought about a major change

On the night of 26th March, 1972, Mathura, a tribal girl, was called to the police station on account of her brother lodging a complaint against her boyfriend. The officers at the station raped her and then let her go. Mathura decided to file a rape case against the constables.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled in favour of the policemen assuming it was ‘peaceful or consensual’, stating that there were no signs of struggle on Mathura’s body and that she did not raise any alarm. But Mathura said that they had threatened her into submission.


  1. Amendment masquerades as law (IC Golaknath v State of Punjab) – 1967


Parliaments prevented from taking away individual rights.


In the highly famous case of Golaknath V State of Punjab in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament could not curtail any of the Fundamental Rights of individuals mentioned in the Constitution. Parliaments overarching ambitions nipped in the bud (Keshavananda Bharti vs State of Kerala) 1973.


  1. Constitutional validity of individual rights upheld (Waman Rao v Union of India) – 1981


SC ruled that Parliament had transgressed its power of constitutional amendment.

This case was a landmark decision in the constitutional jurisprudence of India. This case has helped in determining a satisfactory method of addressing grievances pertaining to the violation of fundamental rights by creating a fine line of determination between the Acts prior to and after the Keshavananda Bharati case.






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