Ten Judgements that changed India by Zia Mody

Skand Nath
4 min readJun 12, 2021

The book Ten judgements that changed India is an amazing insight into ten judgements that have changed the course of mordern history in India. Zia Mody, the author, has captured each and every aspect of the cases precisely. Zia Mody is one of the most distinguished corporate lawyer in India and all of her arguments give you food for thought. Her inputs on the topics have added much more value to the book.The cases that Zia Mody discussed were:

1. Keshavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala

The Keshavananda Bharti case is one of the most well known cases in India’s legal history. The Supreme Court had given the landmark decision that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution in this case. Zia Mody has discussed the precursors to this case too and its effect on India’s politics. Zia Mody has also discussed the attempts by the Indira Gandhi government to get the judgement overruled. The basic structure doctrine can be considered as a valuable shield that has protected the Indian citizens from being wrongfully oppressed by the government.

2. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India

The landmark ruling in Maneka Gandhi versus Union of India can be considered as one of the first instance when the Article 21 “the Right of Personal Liberty” was interpreted by the Supreme court. Even though it was a short case its result was phenomenal. The judgement gave Supreme Court a new perspective on article 21 which consequently helped safeguard the rights of many people following the case.

3. Mohammed Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano

The Mohammad Ahmed Khan case is a watershed in the history of personal law in India. The case is the first instance when the chauvinist characteristics of Muslim law were brought in front of the people of India. The rulings of the Supreme Court in this case were instrumental in safeguarding the rights of divorced women in India. The judgement is also related to the highly controversial Muslim Women’s Law. The case is also noted to be one of the main reasons why Muslims refuse implementation of UCC.

4. Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation.

The case is important in safeguarding the rights of the poor and homeless by giving them the right to property. The court had held that the government should provide the poor and homeless with a roof one their head.

5. Union Carbide v. Union of India

The case is infamous in the history of India because of mishandling of the case by government. The case was not dealt with in a serious manner even though lakhs of people died in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The government settled for a very disproportionate fine in the context of the serious problem that was faced by the victims. The case is also the first example where the government had represented the rights of its nationals.

6. Indira Sawhney v. Union of India

The case can be considered as the biggest safeguard that the General category or the unopressed castes of India have against reservation. The case caused the maximum level of reservation to be set at 49%. If the case had not been filed the reservation in colleges and schools would have risen much higher making the prospects of higher education bleaker for the general category . At the same time Zia Mody has also discussed the unjust laws on reservation in India.

7. Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa

The case helped safeguard the rights of an arrested individual. Strict guidelines have now been laid by the Supreme Court with respect to the process of the arrest of an individual. This case has given the people of India a valuable protection against oppression by the executive.

8. Supreme Court Advocates on Record v. Union of India

The rule of law clearly states that the judges of the courts should work without fear. The government at that time had started using unjust policy of transferring Judges in order punish them and to instil fear in them. The legislature had also started using their powers to appoint judges that supported the government’s ideologies as Chief Justice. The case helped the Judges overcome this fear and prejudice by helping them transfer these powers into the hands of the Judiciary or the Judges itself.

9. Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan

This case was one of the first times that the Supreme Court laced down rules regarding sexual harassment. This case also helped establish rules for sexual harassment at work. The case demonstrated the strictness with which the Supreme Court deals with sexual harassment cases.

10. Aruna Shanbaug v. Union of India

The case deals with the implementation of Passive Euthanasia in India. The case had been on for decades and the Supreme Court had used many sources to come to the conclusion of allowing passive euthanasia. The Supreme Court has also released stringent guidelines for the implementation of passive euthanasia.