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2013: Gay sex only dark mark on liberal, activist Supreme Court

Source : PTI
Last Updated: Thu, Dec 26, 2013 05:15 hrs
SC firm on order disqualifying jailed MPs, MLAs

New Delhi: Landmark judgements on electoral reforms including stopping jail birds from becoming lawmakers, "caged" CBI clamouring for "autonomy" and censuring of an ex-judge for alleged sexual harassment were some issues in 2013 which kept busy the Supreme Court whose verdict criminalising gay sex evoked severe criticism.

The year also witnessed a liberal and pro-active apex court keeping the Centre and corporate honchos on tenterhooks in various cases including coalgate and 2G scam while the film industry got a rude shock when actor Sanjay Dutt was held guilty and sent to jail for five years in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

However, a week after a Supreme Court inquiry indicted Justice A K Ganguly for his "unwelcome behaviour" and "conduct of sexual nature" towards the law intern, the apex court drew worldwide criticism for its December 11 verdict setting aside the path breaking direction of the 2009 Delhi High Court which had decriminalised section 377 of the penal code on gay sex.

Furore by different sections of society including the LGBT community, which dubbed the verdict of judges G S Singhvi (since retired) and S J Mukhopadhaya as "retrograde", "medieval" and out of sync with modern times, forced the Centre to rush to the top court for re-look of the judgement.

The year will also be remembered for the steps taken by the apex court to clean electoral system from corrupt elements by disqualifying legislative members on conviction in a criminal case and barring jailed politicians from contesting polls.

Besides, unleashing a crackdown against freebies by political parties, providing none of the above option (NOTA) to voters and introduction of paper trail in EVM, were some of the poll reforms which brought lot of accolades for the apex court which also gave stern message to the CBI not to act like a "caged parrot" and "speak in master's voice".

The hard hitting remarks were made during the monitoring of probe into the coal block allocation scam which witnessed interference by bureaucrats from Prime Minister's office and the then Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who was forced to resign in the wake of the allegation.

The coalgate scam also saw CBI at logger heads with the Centre and the agency seeking ex-officio status of secretary for its director in the Supreme Court which cleared the hurdle for it in its investigation into the scam, in which the names of top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh also cropped up.

Top corporate honchos including ADAG chief Anil Ambani, Bharti group head Sunil Mittal and former Tata group chairman Ratan Tata made rounds of the Supreme Court in 2013 in various cases and almost all business sectors came under the judicial scrutiny as a fall-out of revelations made in tapped conversations of controversial corporate lobbyist Niira Radia leading to directions for registration of cases by CBI.

Sahara faced the toughest time in the Supreme Court which kept a constant vigil on it around the year and initiated contempt proceedings against its Group head Subrata Roy who was finally restrained from leaving the country for failure to refund Rs 20,000 crore to investors.

Roy is also set to face the heat of the apex court in 2G case in which the apex court sought explanation why contempt proceedings be not initiated against him and two journalists of the group for allegedly impeding the probe in the case.

The year also witnessed the Supreme Court passing a slew of orders for protection and welfare of underprivileged, women and people living on the margins of the society. It pulled up the police for its harassment of people in different parts of the country and stripped off red beacon from vehicles of MPs and MLAs and allowed only high dignitaries holding constitutional posts to use them.

Drug trials by the multinationals came to a standstill this year with the top court restraining the government not to allow it till a proper mechanism is put in place to protect interest of people who are treated as "guinea pigs" by pharmaceutical firms creating "havoc" and causing death of many citizens.

The Centre finally assured the court to frame guidelines and that people subjected to drug trial would be recorded in audio/visual medium.

The new drug price policy for essential drugs also came under judicial scrutiny as the Centre went ahead, despite clear warning for the Supreme Court not to do so, to change the criteria from cost based to market pricing based leading to hike in price.


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