In 2017 the Supreme Court delivered several significant judgments which have far-reaching importance in the field of constitutional law. This update provides a snapshot of the most important judgments.

Right to privacy

In Justice K Puttaswamy v Union of India(1) a constitution bench of the Supreme Court, on a reference, held that the right to privacy was an intrinsic part of the right to life and other freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.

Definition of 'corrupt practices'

In Abhiram Singh v CDCommachen (Dead) By LRs(2) the Supreme Court held that Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, which defines 'corrupt practices', includes within its purview any appeal made by an election candidate (or his or her agent, or any other person who made such appeal with the consent of the candidate or agent) to voters on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language, in relation to various aspects of an election.

Validity of triple 'talaq'

In Shayara Bano v Union of India(3) a challenge was brought against the constitutional validity of the practice of 'triple talaq' (or talaq-e-biddat, prevalent among certain Muslim communities) on grounds of violation of fundamental rights, including the right to equality and the right to life. The Supreme Court, by majority, set aside the practice of talaq-e-biddat and held that Article 25 of the Constitution elevates personal law to the stature of a fundamental right. The minority judgment held that the state would consider appropriate legislation – particularly with reference to talaq-e-biddat – and directed that until such time, Muslim husbands cannot invoke the use of talaq-e-biddat as a means to sever their matrimonial relationships for at least six months.

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(1) Writ Petition (Civil) 494/2012 (and other connected petitions), 2017 SCC OnLine SC 996, nine-panel bench.

(2) Civil Appeal 37/1992 (and other connected petitions), (2017) 2 SCC 629, seven-panel bench.

(3) Writ Petition (C) 118/2016 (and other connected petitions), (2017) 9 SCC 1, five-panel bench.