Iconic Judgements by Courts on Women’s Rights

1. Right To Use Mother’s Surname

The Delhi High Court observed that a father does not own the right to dictate terms to his daughter and every child can rightfully use their mother’s surname if they wish.

2. Leena Manimekalai Passport

The Madras High Court directed the Regional Passport Office to release Leena Manimekalai’s passport in a week’s time. She has been fighting a criminal defamation case since 2019. In the year 2018, she had accused director Susi Ganesan of sexual misconduct . After which her passport was taken away by the Regional Passport Office. She recently got an opportunity to study at York University in Canada and her lawyer had approached the court for the release of her passport.

3. NDA Exams For Women

The Supreme Court told the Center that women candidates must be allowed to sit for the entrance exam to the National Defense Academy in November 2021. “Women must be allowed to take the November 2021 exams. Cannot defer for one year. Medical standards should be tentatively notified. UPSC to issue a corrected notification for the November exam,” the SC said.

4. Right To Not Disclose The Notice Of Marriage

The Allahabad High Court in a judgment stated that making a notice of marriage public is not mandatory. This judgment was made on the basis of the Special Marriage Act of 1954 which gave couples the right to choose if they want to publish such notices or not. A woman had issued a habeas corpus petition stating that she was not getting the approval to marry her lover from another religion.

5. For Two Adults To Marry, Family Permission Not Required

The court observed that educated young girls and boys are choosing their own life partners and breaking away from the societal norms on whom to marry. Thus the court came to the judgment that the permission of community or clan or family is not necessary for marriage. This observation was made by the Supreme Court bench composed of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy.

6. Right To Live-In Relationships

Justice Sudhir Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled in favor of the couple who had filed the petition that their family were against the live-in relationship and were threatening to harm. The judge said, “an individual has the right to formalize the relationship with the partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of live-in relationships.”

    7. Non-Penetrative Sexual Acts Without Consent Is Rape

The Kerala High Court on August 4 gave a judgement addressing the wide scope of Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was about the accused rubbing his penis on the survivor’s thigh. The court said that it needs to be considered rape. This judgment was given by Justices K Vinod Chandran and Ziyad Rahman AA. The survivor is a minor and the justices said that the rape law in India has been amended through years and now it includes penetration of any part of a woman body as rape.

     8. Law on Marital Rape

The Kerala High Court outlined the meaning of marital rape and held it as a valid ground for divorce. The judgement was given by Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath, who observed, “Treating a wife’s body as something owing to husband and committing sexual acts against her will is nothing but marital rape.” Recently the Gujarat High Court sent notices to the Centre and State government seeking a response on a petition about how marital rape is a violation of women right to privacy, life, amongst others. Under Exception 2 of the Section of the Indian Penal Code dealing with the criminalisation of rape, it exempts a man who rapes his wife if she is not below the age of 15-years-old. The court said, “By marrying, no woman consents to her husband committing forcibly sexual intercourse on her.” Although, a law against marital rape is still awaited.

   9. Voter IDs And Aadhar For Sex Workers

Recently the Supreme Court directed the Centre, States and Union Territories to issue voter, Aadhar and ration cards to sex workers and continue providing dry rations to them. “The fundamental rights are guaranteed to every citizen of the country irrespective of his/her vocation,” stated the court in the judgment. It was given by the bench composed of Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna. They were hearing a plea on the problems faced by the sex workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

   10. SC Gets Three New Women Judges

On October 31, nine new chief justices were appointed by the Supreme Court. Out of the total, for the first time, three are women judges. This decision was historic because for the first time these many women judges have been appointed and another reason was for the first time camera was allowed inside the swearing-in room. The newly appointed judges are Justices Hima Kohli, BV Nagarathna and Bela M Trivedi. Justice Nagarathna is going to be the first woman Chief Justice of India in 2027.

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