Rights in Review is an annual review of Indian Supreme Court decisions on constitutional fundamental rights cases in the year past. We began publishing Rights in Review in 2014. Rights in Review 2017 is the fourth volume in the series.
In 2017 we surveyed all reported decisions of the Supreme Court adjudicating fundamental rights challenges from 15th December 2016 to 15th December 2017. We selected cases which extend or modify existing legal doctrine, apply the law to new factual circumstances or otherwise have a significant impact on public policy or public affairs. We identified 11 cases this year based on these criteria and have organized the analysis of these cases into 3 substantive sections: equality, life and religious freedom.
In 2017 we notice a new and significant trend for fundamental rights protection in India. We review the 9 judge bench decision recognizing the right to privacy as a fundamental right .
2017 was an important year for the protection of women’s rights. Shayara Bano declared instantaneous triple talaq under Muslim personal law unconstitutional, Independent Thought read down the exception to the rape offence to declare child marital rape a criminal offence and Meera Santosh Pal expanded reproductive rights by permitting the termination of pregnancy beyond the 20th week if there is harm to the foetus and danger to the physical and mental health of the mother. In the year of the #metoo movement that has reshaped popular discourse on gender relations across the world and in India, the Indian Supreme Court has made its mark on this issue.