Early last week, a judge of the Allahabad High Court asked the Astrology Department head at the Lucknow University to look into an alleged rape survivor's horoscope and find out if she is a 'mangalik'.
After reports of this incident surfaced, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance (action taken by a court of its own accord, without any request by the parties involved) of the case and decided to hear it beyond its working hours on Saturday, 3 June.
While the apex court stayed the High Court order on Saturday, it remarked:
"But this is totally out of context. The right to privacy is disturbed. We do not want to join facts on what astrology has to do with this."
Why did the Allahabad High Court pass this order? What happened at the Supreme Court? What is the case all about? Here's everything you need to know.
The Case & The Allahabad HC Order
The Allahabad High Court was dealing with the bail application of a man who had allegedly, after establishing a sexual relationship with the woman, refused to marry her on the grounds that she is a 'mangalik.'
The accused had told the court that he could not go ahead with the marriage because the woman is a 'Mangalik.' The woman's lawyer, however, refuted this.
Because of the conflicting claims, the court then directed the Astrology Department head at the Lucknow University to look into the woman's horoscope and examine if she was a 'mangalik.'
The Court also asked the couple to submit their horoscopes to the HOD within 10 days.
The Supreme Court Hearing
A vacation bench of the Supreme Court including Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mittal took suo motu congnisance of the High Court's order on Saturday, 3 June.
During the hearing, the lawyer representing the accused told the court that the order had been passed with consent from both sides and that the court did have the power to call for expert evidence. After all, astrology is a subject taught in the University.
"I have seen the order and it is very disturbing. It may be stayed," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said.
"Astrology is a science. We are not on that. We're saying that while entertaining an application by a judicial forum, can this be a question," he added.
After the hearing, the top court then decided to stay the High Court order directing the astrology professor to examine the woman's horoscope and said:
"The order so far as it gives directions to the head of department of astrology. We stay the operation of the order.All the same, the matter will be taken up on the next date of listing and will be decided on its merits."