This article on ‘Landmark Verdicts Given by Justice DY Chandrachud’ was written by Shriharshini Balachandar, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Justice DY Chandrachud, a distinguished judge of the Supreme Court of India, has made an indelible mark on the Indian legal landscape through his remarkable judgments. With a progressive and rights-oriented approach, Justice DY Chandrachud has played a crucial role in shaping constitutional jurisprudence. This article explores some of his landmark verdicts that have had far-reaching implications for protecting individual rights and advancing justice in India.
Various Landmark Verdicts Given by Justice DY Chandrachud
Right to Privacy
One of the most significant judgments delivered by Justice DY Chandrachud was his involvement in the nine-judge bench that unanimously declared the right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution in August 2017. This landmark decision recognized the inherent right of individuals to privacy, establishing a strong foundation for safeguarding personal autonomy and dignity. The judgment emphasized that privacy is essential for the protection of other fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, expression, and personal liberty.
This landmark judgment on the right to privacy by Justice DY Chandrachud and the nine-judge bench had far-reaching implications beyond its immediate recognition. It laid the groundwork for subsequent cases and legal developments concerning privacy rights in India.
The decision provided a solid legal foundation for individuals to challenge government actions and policies that infringe upon their privacy, thereby fostering a culture of accountability and ensuring that the state respects and upholds citizens’ fundamental rights. Moreover, the judgment’s emphasis on the interdependence of privacy with other fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, expression, and personal liberty, reinforced privacy’s integral role in preserving individual autonomy and dignity.
By recognizing privacy as a fundamental right, the court acknowledged that citizens have the right to control their personal information, make autonomous choices, and freely express themselves without undue interference or surveillance. This has been particularly crucial in the digital age, where technological advancements and the ubiquity of data collection pose new challenges to privacy.
In September 2018, Justice DY Chandrachud was part of the five-judge bench that delivered the Aadhaar judgment, a case that centred on the unique identification program called Aadhaar. While upholding the constitutionality of Aadhaar, the judgment struck down certain provisions, including the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers. Justice DY Chandrachud emphasized the need for robust data protection measures and expressed concerns about potential privacy infringements.
The verdict highlighted the importance of striking a balance between technological advancements and the preservation of individual privacy rights. By striking down the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers, the judgment reflected the court’s recognition of the potential privacy infringements that such provisions could entail. Justice DY Chandrachud’s concerns echoed the need for safeguards to prevent unauthorized access and misuse of personal data, particularly in a digital ecosystem where vast amounts of sensitive information are at stake.
The Aadhaar judgment, with Justice DY Chandrachud’s contributions, underscored the significance of addressing privacy concerns and ensuring that citizens’ data is protected in the era of digital governance. The verdict recognized the importance of upholding individual privacy rights as a fundamental aspect of a democratic society, even in the face of technological advancements and administrative conveniences.
Sabarimala Temple Entry Case
Another landmark judgment delivered by Justice DY Chandrachud was in the Sabarimala Temple Entry Case in September 2018. The court struck down the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, ruling that the ban was a violation of women’s fundamental rights and perpetuate gender discrimination. Justice DY Chandrachud’s opinion stressed the principle of equality and the need to eradicate patriarchal practices that curtail women’s rights to worship. The judgment had profound implications for gender equality and set a precedent for challenging regressive practices rooted in discrimination.
Justice DY Chandrachud’s opinion in the judgment emphasized the principle of equality and the urgent need to challenge patriarchal practices that curtail women’s freedom of worship. The verdict underscored that religious practices and traditions should not impede women’s equal access to sacred spaces and their right to participate fully in religious activities. The judgment sent a powerful message that religious customs cannot be used as a pretext to perpetuate discrimination and deny women their fundamental rights.
The implications of this landmark judgment reached far beyond the specific case of the Sabarimala temple. It set a precedent for challenging regressive practices rooted in discrimination across various religious institutions in India. The decision emboldened individuals and organizations to question and challenge gender-based restrictions in other places of worship, sparking a broader dialogue on the need for gender equality and the reform of religious practices that discriminate against women.
Section 377 Case
In a landmark judgment in September 2018, Justice Chandrachud, as part of a five-judge bench, played a pivotal role in decriminalizing consensual same-sex relations by striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The verdict marked a significant milestone in India’s LGBTQ+ rights movement, as it overturned a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexuality. Justice Chandrachud’s opinion emphasized the principles of equality, individual autonomy, and the right to privacy.
The judgment heralded a new era of inclusivity and acceptance, reaffirming the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community. The judgment had profound implications for the LGBTQ+ community, offering them legal recognition, protection, and the opportunity to live their lives without fear of persecution or discrimination. It marked a significant step towards inclusivity and acceptance, challenging societal prejudices and fostering a more compassionate and equal society.
The verdict sent a powerful message that sexual orientation is an inherent aspect of an individual’s identity and that every individual, irrespective of their sexual orientation, deserves equal rights and protection under the law. Justice Chandrachud’s opinion in the Section 377 case highlighted the importance of recognizing and respecting the diversity of sexual orientations and affirmed the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals to live their lives authentically.
The judgment not only had immediate legal implications but also had a profound impact on public opinion, raising awareness about LGBTQ+ rights and fostering greater acceptance and understanding among the general population. It laid the foundation for further advancements in LGBTQ+ rights, including discussions around anti-discrimination laws, marriage equality, and affirmative action.
Internet Shutdown Case
In January 2020, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice NV Ramana delivered a noteworthy judgment on internet shutdowns. The court ruled that indefinite internet shutdowns, especially those ordered under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, were a violation of fundamental rights and should be considered as a measure of last resort. The judgment highlighted the importance of the Internet as a facilitator of free speech, expression, and access to information, and stressed the need for proportionality and accountability when imposing restrictions on Internet access.
Justice Chandrachud’s opinion underscored the significance of protecting citizens’ fundamental rights in the digital age. The judgment shed light on the transformative power of the internet as a medium for the exercise of fundamental rights, emphasizing its importance in facilitating democratic discourse, promoting social progress, and empowering individuals.
It stressed the need for proportionality and accountability when imposing restrictions on internet access, thereby setting a standard for the government to justify any curtailment of internet services and ensuring that such measures align with constitutional principles. Justice Chandrachud’s opinion in the Internet shutdown case highlighted the evolving nature of fundamental rights in the digital age.
It acknowledged that the internet has become an integral part of modern life, enabling individuals to exercise their freedom of speech, express their ideas, and access information crucial for their personal, professional, and educational pursuits. By recognizing the importance of protecting citizens’ rights in the digital realm, the judgment provided a strong foundation for the preservation of individual liberties and the prevention of undue restrictions on internet access.
This landmark judgment has had significant implications for governance, policy-making, and the protection of citizens’ rights in the digital sphere. It has prompted discussions on the need for clearer guidelines and regulations regarding internet shutdowns, ensuring that any restrictions imposed are in line with constitutional principles and are subject to rigorous scrutiny. The judgment serves as a reminder of the courts’ role in safeguarding citizens’ fundamental rights in an increasingly interconnected and digital world, ensuring that no arbitrary or excessive measures impede their access to information and the exercise of their democratic rights.
Justice DY Chandrachud’s contributions to Indian jurisprudence have been transformative and far-reaching. Through his progressive and rights-focused approach, he has played a pivotal role in shaping landmark judgments that have bolstered individual rights, equality, and justice in India. His role in recognizing the right to privacy as a fundamental right, striking down discriminatory practices like the Sabarimala temple ban, decriminalizing consensual same-sex relations, and advocating for internet freedom has left an indelible impact on the legal landscape.
Justice Chandrachud’s judgments reflect a deep commitment to protecting the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and ensuring that they evolve in tune with societal changes and contemporary challenges. As a pioneering justice and defender of rights, Justice DY Chandrachud’s legacy will continue to inspire and guide future generations of jurists, serving as a beacon of justice, fairness, and progress.
- Awstika Das, “Chief Justice DY Chandrachud: Landmark Judgements, Constitutionalism, and Penchant for Reform”, LiveLaw, 12 November 2022, available at https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/chief-justice-dy-chandrachud-landmark-judgements-criticism-and-expectations-213925 (Last visited on 30-05-2023).
- Rakhi Bose, “Meet Justice DY Chandrachud And His Landmark Judgments — From Sabrimala To Right To Privacy”, Outlook India, 9 November 2022, available at https://www.outlookindia.com/national/sabarimala-to-privacy-top-verdicts-by-justice-chandrachud-india-s-next-cji-recommended-by-uu-lalit-news-229081 (Last visited on 30-05-2023).
- “From privacy to Sabarimala: 10 landmark verdicts Justice DY Chandrachud was part of”, CNBC TV18, 11 October 2022, available at https://www.cnbctv18.com/india/justice-dy-chandrachud-and-10-landmark-verdicts-14914161.htm (Last visited on 30-05-2023).