Rights in Review is a CLPR publication which analyses 15 key judgements ruled by the Supreme Court in 2014. This publication is aimed at acquainting the reader with various aspects of fundamental rights protection and the relevance and impact of the decisions in public life.
The focus among the decisions in 2014 was the introduction of several procedural safeguards regarding death penalty review and mercy petitions by the Court. Apart from this, the Court also ruled on the issue of state regulation of religious and traditional practices and highlighted the secular freedom to adopt.
Rerouting from its history of expansion of scope of Article 21 including housing, health and food, the Court’s docket did not involve much decisions on socio economic rights except for its revisit on the Right to Education upholding the constitutionality of Articles 21A, 15(5) and the RTE Act. The election year of 2014 also provided the Court with several cases on the freedom of speech and expression.
The Supreme Court of India is the foremost guardian of fundamental rights and the spirit of the Constitution. More careful observers rightly point out that fundamental rights writ jurisdiction however comprises only a minor portion of the Court docket and this has grown smaller in recent decades. While a lot of attention is paid to the pendency of cases and media coverage of high-profile litigation, less attention has been paid to the Supreme Court’s protection of fundamental rights. This Rights in Review aims to do this with a careful analysis of key Supreme Court cases on fundamental rights. This Review is the first of an annual series to be released each December.