In today’s fast paced world, the concept of change and development is necessary for the future. Governments, organizations, businesses, or other institutions cannot have the same laws they had during their inception. Though the process of acceptance and implementation of change is slow, change does take place. The role of change is not limited to a new mindset or a broken prejudice. It has to be firm in the sense of the laws it brings forth and rules it sets. It is in this sense that India is a developing nation, as it is constantly reinventing itself with the flow of new and modern ideas.
The concept of change is always seen as an intangible element, whereas it is quite measurable– as seen through statistical data on various issues. Improved mitigation strategies are shown by a decrease in the amount of damage caused by a natural disaster; the change in employment perks is observed through the increased efficiency in productivity graphs; transparent financial statements result in more trust in stakeholders, and a change in the definition of equality can be seen in the several landmark judgements passed by the Supreme Court in 2018.
It is a popular saying that ‘love has no boundaries. love is blind.’ In reality, living in Indian society meant that you could only love the opposite gender as a part of section 377 criminalized ‘unnatural’ sexual acts ‘against the order of nature’. On September 6th, 2018, The 5-judge constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra decriminalized this 156 year old British law as it violated Article 14, 15 and 21, consequently giving the LGBT community the freedom to embrace their identity and to choose whom to love.
Women Enter Sabarimala
While thinking of the term Sabarimala, what immediately comes to our mind is the fight against tradition that women had to wage to gain entry into the temple– girls and women from the age group of 10-50 ( between menarche and menopause) aren’t allowed into the temple. A 5 member committee was set up to analyse the situation, among whom, Justice Indu Malhotra was the only one who supported the cause for no entry of women in Sabarimala as she states that, “The religious practice of restricting the entry of women between the ages of 10 to 50 years is in pursuance of an “essential religious practice” and “notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion by courts”. The other 4 judges –and most of the common people– however, agreed that women should be allowed to enter Sabarimala, and the archaic restriction was struck down in the name of equality.
In India, a land of strong religious beliefs that consider life a gift from god, the need for recognising right to die with dignity was a big challenge in itself. Though many religious institutions opposed the idea of passive euthanasia as it was considered a sin, several health experts suggested its use for the benefit of patients who are terminal cases. The term ‘passive euthanasia’ gained prominence after Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who was violently sexually assaulted and as a result was in a vegetative state for 42 years, passed away in 2015, opening the debate on the right to die with dignity. In 2018, the Supreme Court, through a 5-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, recognised ‘living wills’ made by terminally ill patients and held that the right to die with dignity is a fundamental right and legalised passive euthanasia.
There have been many important judgements by the Supreme Court in the last year but the reason, the aforementioned judgements have perhaps truly made a difference in the mindset of the general public and helped the country progress from its ancient traditions, ideologies and practices, paving the way for a socially evolved India.
Picture credits: CarsonWatch