28 Aug 2021 7:12 AM GMT
"If the state takes any action/sends to jail any person in case of inter-religion marriage, you come to us, we will protect you", these were the unwavering words of Gujarat high Court's Chief Justice Vikram Nath while he was hearing a challenge to the vires of Gujarat Freedom of religion Act, 2003 as amended by Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021. Thereafter, CJ Nath's...
"If the state takes any action/sends to jail any person in case of inter-religion marriage, you come to us, we will protect you", these were the unwavering words of Gujarat high Court's Chief Justice Vikram Nath while he was hearing a challenge to the vires of Gujarat Freedom of religion Act, 2003 as amended by Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.
Thereafter, CJ Nath's led bench ultimately passed an interim order stating that certain provisions of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, will not apply to inter-faith marriages which take place without force, allurement, or fraudulent means.
Chief Justice Nath, whose name has been elevated to the Supreme Court by the Apex Court's, is known by the lawyers, who regularly appear in his courtroom for his bold, straight-talking approach.
Not just that, Chief Justice Nath is also known for tickling the funny bones of the lawyers with his unique sense of humor.
"Aapne apne senior ki jagah aaj argue kiya, to aadhi fees unse maang lijiyega" (you argued in the place of your senior, so do take half fees from him), CJ Nath once said to a junior lawyer, who argued before him, when his senior was not available to argue.
Not to forget, Justice Nath was the force behind the first-of-its-kind initiative in India, when the Gujarat High Court began live-streaming proceedings last year. Leading by an example, proceedings before his bench was the first to be made available on YouTube.
Now, the proceedings before all the benches of the High Court are being made online on YouTube.
SC Judge, Justice DY Chandrachud had, in July 2021, lauded the efforts of Gujarat High Court's Chief Justice Vikram for taking the initiative to Live Stream HC's proceedings.
Speaking at the live streaming of Gujarat High Court proceedings event, he had said that despite Swapnil Tripathi's Judgment, there was not much progress, so he called up CJ Vikram Nath and talked about it and he told him that Gujarat High Court would start live streaming of court proceedings.
"I stood by him and see, we are here now in less than 10 months," remarked Dr. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Judge & Chairman, e-committee of the Supreme Court of India
CJ Nath is known for never shying away or mincing words when the issue relates to the integrity of the Institution. During his tenure as a Judge of Allahabad High Court, he had come down heavily on a lawyer, who was making orchestrated attempts at maligning the judges of the bench hearing her matter.
"She is a Lawyer and part of the judicial system. Still she did not realize the effect and aftermath of her conduct by making an orchestrated attempt of maligning the Judges of the Bench. She has a standing of 22 years but still she had the courage and audacity to try all efforts to, somehow or the other, get the matter released from this Bench which had expressed an adverse opinion in the matter."
Similarly, the bench comprising Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ravindra Nath Kakkar had, in November 2016, issued contempt notice to 13 lawyers of Agra district after taking cognizance of an illegal strike and an allegation of misbehavior with several judges upon a reference by Smt. Saroj Yadav, district judge, Agra.
Merely criticizing the government in power is not going to magically cure people of COVID 19, nor is it going to make the dead come back to life, observed the High Court of Gujarat, CJ Nath led bench had held last year when the whole including, including India was facing the unprecedented COVID Crisis.
He had even gone ahead to stress upon the need for transparency in the publication of testing data and availability of amenities in relation to COVID-19, as CJ Nath led bench underscored that transparent and honest dialogue by the State would generate trust amongst general public.
Importantly, CJ Nath led bench had, while disposing of a PIL seeking to put restrictions on proposed Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra, also observed thus:
"Government's main focus should be protecting the health and wellbeing of the people at all cost, even if it means hurting the religious sentiments of some religious leaders."
Ruling thus, the Bench had categorically observed that it is mandatory to make the choice of health over religion.
In his 17-year stint as a judge, he has dealt with several important matters. He was part of the division bench headed by himself, which had, last year, observed that all women, irrespective of whether they belong, or do not belong, to the reserved category are entitled to compete for posts earmarked in favor of women under the General Category.
Not to forget, while hearing a challenge to a preventive detention order, CJ Nath led bench had made some crucial observations on personal liberty vis-à-vis preventive detention law
"The Courts should always lean in favour of upholding personal liberty, for it is one of the most cherished values of mankind. Without it life would not be worth living. It is one of the pillars of free democratic society. Men have rightly laid down their lives at its altar in order to secure it, protect it and preserve it," the Bench had observed.
Similarly, welcoming the State Government's last year decision to extend the application of the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act, 1985 to cybercriminals, loan sharks and sexual offenders amongst the others, CJ Nath led bench had also cautioned the Government that the exercise will remain futile, if serious amendments are not made in the implementation of the preventive powers provided under the Act.
In yet another important ruling of his tenure, while noting that Education is something which should never be compromised, the Bench led by CJ Nath had, last year, directed the State Government to ensure that the inability to pay the fees should not compel the parents to stop providing education to their children.
Recently, two orders of CJ Nath led bench have been in news and they are- Staying of certain sections of Gujarat Freedom Of Religion Act and holding petitions challenging liquor prohibition law as maintainable
"From the perception of the common man, it appears that merely because a conversion occurs because of marriage, it per se cannot be held to be an unlawful conversion or a marriage done for the purpose of unlawful conversion", CJ Led bench said while staying the rigours of Section 3, 4, 4A to 4C, 5, 6, and 6A.
The Court further noted that the Act places the burden of proof on the accused and "puts the parties validly entering into an inter-faith marriage in great jeopardy".
"Prima-facie inter-faith marriages between two consenting adults by operation of the provisions of Section 3 of the 2003 Act interferes with the intricacies of marriage including the right to the choice of an individual, thereby infringing Article 21 of the Constitution Of India", the Court added.
Read more about it here: Gujarat Anti-Conversion Law Prima Facie Interferes With Marriage & Right To Choice, Infringes Article 21 : Gujarat High Court [Read Order]
Gujarat Freedom Of Religion(Amendment) Act 2021 Won't Apply To Inter-Faith Marriages Between Consenting Adults : Gujarat High Court
"Choice Of Religion Is Between Two Individuals": Gujarat HC Seeks Govt. Reply On Plea Challenging Gujarat Freedom Of Religion Act
Similarly, opining that the challenge as to the prohibition of intoxicating beverages for human consumption being violative of Part III of the Constitution was never under challenge or was under examination before the Courts before, CJ Nath led bench recently held as maintainable a batch of writ petitions challenging the prohibition on manufacture, sale and consumption of liquor in the state as per the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949.
Read more about it in detail here: Gujarat High Court Holds Petitions Challenging Liquor Prohibition Law As Maintainable
Born on September 24, 1962, Justice Nath Graduated in Science in the year 1983 and Law in the year 1986.
He enrolled as an advocate in March 1987 and practised in Allahabad High Court before he was elevated as Additional Judge on September 24, 2004.
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