Top crime stories and judiciary events in 2015
Like the previous year, the year 2015 too was quite a newsmaker. As the year 2015 comes to a close, we look at some of the most widely reported stories from the world of crime, which kept an entire nation glued to the TV sets, and some landmark rulings by the honourable Supreme Court of India, which once again proved that it still continues to be the sole custodian of the Constitution and the fundamental rights of the people of India.
Sheena Bora murder case
One of the most sensational crime and murder stories of the bygone year, Sheena Bora murder case dominated prime time coverage on all television news channels since it was first reported in August.
The high-profile kidnapping and murder case saw Indrani Mukherjea, a media tycoon and wife of former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea, being arrested by Mumbai Police for the sensational murder of her teenage daughter Sheena Bora.
The case saw many intriguing twists and turns as the days passed and investigations, initially by the Mumbai Police and later by the CBI, progressed.
Indrani Mukerjea, a regular Page 3 socialite, her former husbands - Sanjeev Khanna and Peter Mukherjea - and her ex-driver Shyamvar Rai were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for kidnapping, conspiracy, murder and tampering with evidence etc.
Underworld don Chhota Rajan arrested in Bali
After being on the run for decades, dreaded underworld don Chhota Rajan was arrested in the tourist town of Bali, Indonesia on a Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol. The arrest was made on a tip off from Australian authorities that 55-year-old Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Mohan Kumar alias Chhota Rajan, the powerful aide-turned-rival of terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, had flown from Sydney to Bali, where he was arrested in the month of October.
Days after his arrest, Chhota Rajan was deported to India to face trial in various cases registered against him. Born in Mumbai, Rajan is wanted for multiple charges including murder and possession and use of illegal firearms. One of the cases against him is the murder of journalist Jyotimoy Dey in 2011.
1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memom hanged
Yakub Abdul Razzak Memon, the lone death row convict in the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, was hanged in the Nagpur Central Jail in July.
Yakub, the youngest brother of fugitive Mumbai blasts mastermind Tiger Memon, was executed after a prolonged legal battle that continued till barely a couple of hours before his hanging. The case also saw an unprecedented hearing being held at the Supreme Court at 3 am on July 31 during which it rejected Memon's plea seeking postponement of his hanging by 14 days.
Hours later, Memon climbed on the gallows at 6.35 am, ironically, on his 54th birthday - and was pronounced dead at 7.01 am by a medical team present there, along with a magistrate, a top prison official and others.
Memon was awarded the death penalty by a TADA court for 13 serial blasts that rocked several parts of Mumbai on March 12, 1993, resulting in the death of 257 persons and injury to 713 others. Yakub was allegedly arrested by the CBI from New Delhi Railway Station in August, 1994, though he and his family members disputed the official contentions and claimed he had "surrendered" to the Nepal police on July 28, 1994 in Kathmandu.
Accompanied by family members and a large posse of armed police, his body was later taken to the Bada Qabrastan near Marine Lines in south Mumbai and buried with full religious rites next to the graves of his parents.
Important Court rulings in 2015
Husband can't divorce wife if she is terminally ill: SC
The Supreme Court ruled in December that a husband cannot be allowed to separate from his wife if she is terminally ill. The apex court said that the couple cannot be granted divorce even under mutual consent if woman partner is terminally ill. The Supreme Court bench headed by MY Eqbal said the plea for divorce can be accepted only when the wife has recovered.
While passing the judgement, the court advised husbands to stand by their wives in their difficult times as in Hinduism, a wife considers her husband as God.
Woman can seek 'stridhan' back if marriage not dissolved: SC
In yet another important ruling, the Supreme Court said that a woman can always seek her 'stridhan' back from her husband and his family members even if the marriage has not been dissolved by a judicial decree of divorce.
'Stridhan' is movable or immovable assets, received during the lifetime, by a woman either prior to marriage or at the time of marriage or at child birth.
Daughters cannot inherit ancestral property if father died before 2005: SC
In a major setback for many women across the country, the Supreme Court ruled in November that a daughter's right to ancestral property does not arise if the father died before the amendment to Hindu law came into force in 2005.
The apex court held that amended provisions of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, do not have retrospective effect.
Earlier, women could only ask for sustenance from a joint Hindu family. The only restriction in force after the passage of this amendment was that women could not ask for a share if the property had been alienated or partitioned before December 20, 2004, the date the Bill was introduced. But now the Supreme Court had added this new restriction.
SC allows 14-year-old rape survivor to abort
In a one of its kind of judgement, the Supreme Court allowed a 14-year-old rape survivor from Gujarat to terminate her pregnancy by a medical panel constituted on its directions.
The SC had come to the rescue of the minor rape victim who was denied permission by the High Court to terminate her pregnancy, by ordering that the requisite surgery may be done if the gynaecologists and clinical psychologists permit it.
The minor became pregnant after being allegedly raped by her doctor Jatin Bhai K Mehta when she had visited him after suffering from typhoid in February.
Live-in relationship neither a crime nor a sin: SC
Live-in relationship is neither a crime nor a sin, the Supreme Court held in the month of November while asking Parliament to frame law for protection of women in such relationship and children born out of it.
The apex court said unfortunately, there is no express statutory provision to regulate live-in relationships upon termination as these relationships are not in the nature of marriage and not recognised by law.
SC rules NJAC 'unconstitutional', upholds collegium system to appoint judges
In a judgement with far-reaching consequences, the Supreme Court in October struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act holding it unconstitutional.
Stating that the present collegium system of judges appointing judges in the higher judiciary would continue, the apex court also held as ‘unconstitutional and void’ the 99th Constitutional Amendment to bring in the NJAC.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission was set up by the Central government for appointment of judges.
Aadhar card not mandatory, says Supreme Court
In an order with wide ramifications, the Supreme Court in the month of August ruled that Aadhar card is not mandatory for the citizens.
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court further instructed the Centre to publicise the decision widely.
The Constitution Bench ruled that Aadhar card will remain optional for availing various welfare schemes of the government except for PDS and LPG distribution system.
The court directed that “no personal information of Aadhar card holders shall be shared by the authorities concerned”. The court, however, allowed the use of details of Aadhar card holders for any criminal investigation.
SC stays ban on Maharashtra dance bars
In the month of October, the Supreme Court stayed the operation of 2014 amendment in the Maharashtra Police Act that had banned dance performances at bars and some other places, paving the way for reopening of dance bars across the state.
The apex court, however, added a rider to its interim order and allowed the licensing authorities in the state to regulate indecent dance performances at bars and other places.
The Maharashtra government had brought an amendment in 2005 -- the Bombay Police Act -- which was challenged in high court by an association representing restaurants and bars.
SC allows repairs, basic facilities at Ayodhya's Ram Lalla Temple
In a major relief for Hindu pilgrims, the Supreme Court allowed repairing of covers and providing other facilities at a makeshift Ram Lalla Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The court also directed that the makeshift Ayodhya temple shed be maintained by local authorities.
The order came months after the apex court had in March asked the Centre to consider the facilities feasible in the present scenario that could be provided to pilgrims at 'Ram Janam Bhoomi' site near the disputed structure at Ayodhya.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking basic minimum facilities for pilgrims.
Uphaar fire case: SC asks Ansal brothers to pay Rs 60 crore; no jail term
The month of August saw the Supreme Court imposing a hefty fine of Rs 60 crore on Ansal brothers - Gopal and Sushil – who had been earlier convicted in the 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled no jail term for the Uphaar cinema hall owners. The fine imposed on them had to be paid within three months.
Each of the brothers will have to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore to the Delhi government within three months, the three-judge bench of the apex court ruled.
Of the two brothers, Sushil Ansal had served a jail term of 5 months and 22 days and Gopal Ansal, 142 days, when the SC ruling came.
A total of 59 people died and 100 were injured when there was a big fire at Uphaar cinema hall while a film was being screened on the evening of June 13, 1997.
SC upholds free speech on internet, scraps Section 66A of IT Act
In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court in March quashed Section 66 A of IT Act that allowed arrests for objectionable content online.
The apex court, while passing its ruling, observed that the Section 66A of the IT Act was 'too vague and violative of 19(1)A of Constitution'.
Section 66A of IT Act clearly affects Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression enshrined under Constitution, the apex court ruled.
Rajiv Gandhi's killers to stay in jail: SC
In a historic verdict, delivered in the first week of December, the Supreme Court said that the Tamil Nadu government could not grant remission and release conspirators in former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case.
The matter was decided by the constitution bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu.
The case reached the Supreme Court after the Centre objected to Jayalalithaa government’s decision to release V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivalan alias Arivu and T Suthendraraja alias Santhan after commutation of their death sentence into life imprisonment by the apex court on the grounds of inordinate delay by the President in deciding their mercy petition.
Juvenile convict in Nirbhaya gang-rape case won't be freed, rules SC
In the early days of December, the Supreme Court ruled that the juvenile sentenced for his involvement in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case will walk out of a special home on December 22 but won't be "freed".
After walking out of a special home, the convict, who is now 21, will be in the custody of an NGO for a year, the apex court reportedly said. The decision was regretted by victim's parents who said “no matter the juvenile will be kept in NGO for one more year, for them he is released.”
Nirbhaya’s parents had also demanded that the face of juvenile convict, who was the "most brutal" of all the six offenders, should be shown to the world before he is released citing "he is a threat to the society".
No politicians' pictures in govt ads except President, PM, CJI: SC
In an important development with regard to regulation of public advertisements, the Supreme Court in May ruled that they can carry pictures of certain dignitaries like the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.
A apex court rejected the plea of the central government that judiciary should not tread into the territory of policy decisions and said that the courts can step in if there is no policy or law in place.
It also asked the central government to constitute a three-member committee to regulate the issue of public advertisement.
Shariat courts have no legal sanction, fatwas not binding: SC
In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court in the month of July declared that no legal status has been granted to the Shariat Courts, and religious decrees or fatwas are illegal if they tread on the rights of an individual.
The apex court further objected to the Shariat Courts ordering punishments against innocent people and said that no religion permits the same.
The SC also said that `Darul Qaza` cannot pass any judgment that infringes on the fundamental rights of an individual unless asked by the concerned person.
Justice TS Thakur takes oath as 43rd CJI
Senior-most Supreme Court judge Justice Tirath Singh Thakur was sworn in as 43rd Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan in the first week of December.
Justice Thakur took over from Justice HL Dattu following his retirement. Born on January 4, 1952, he would have the tenure as CJI for a little over one year and would retire on January 4, 2017.