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IWpolity Aug 22 to 31
Notes by vineetpunnoose on
Saving Sharmila 1
A democracy of armed soldiers 1
Humanising the law 1
Politics and criminality 2
SC to interpret LoP provision for Lokpal selection 3
Supreme Court judgment breaks from tradition 3
National Judicial Appointments Commission 4
Judicial appointments not above reproach 6
Don't close the door on NJAC as yet 7
Yardstick for judiciary should also apply for ministers: SC 8
No Cure for the Malaise 9
'Does NJAC Bill curb independence of judiciary?' 9
Constitutional duty underlined 10
Safeguarding judicial autonomy 10
Stop parading accused before media, says Supreme Court 12
Secularism must be for all: N. Ram 13
A republic of sub-nations? 13
Supreme Court terms pleas against NJAC premature 14
Notes by vineetpunnoose on
Talk to ease tensions 14
Some distinctly anti-federal rumblings 15
DoPT to notify amendments to Lokpal search panel mandate 15
Justice restored 15
Set minimum qualification for MPs, MLAs: SC 17
Govt sets up committee to identify outdated laws 17
Tilting at the Windmills (Again) 18
New Holistic Fertiliser Policy to be Unveiled 19
Off With Its Head 19
Conflicts within 20
Regulating India's nuclear estate 20
Mudgal committee files report on IPL scandal 21
New health policy to address health issues of young modern women Best way to kee 21
shape is through Yoga: Dr Vardhan 21
Aadhaar not mandatory to open bank account under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan scheme 22
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 1
Saving Sharmila
Sat, Aug 30, 2014
AFSPA, EPW, polity, Irom Sharmila,
For resorting to a form of protest that is used not just in India but also in many other parts
of the world, Sharmila was arrested, charged under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code
( IPC ) for attempting to commit suicide, and force-fed through a nasal tube The law has
been in force in Manipur since 1958 when it was enacted. It is operative in the entire state,
barring seven assembly constituencies around Imphal, from where it was withdrawn in
2012. Currently the Supreme Court is hearing a petition filed by Extra Judicial Execution
Victim Families Association ( EEVFAM ) that has recorded 1,590 cases of disappearances
and encounter killings since the 1980 s . Filed in 2012, the petition asked the Court for
a special investigation team ( SIT ) to look into these cases. In 2005, the Justice B P Jeevan
Reddy Commission appointed by the United Progressive Alliance ( UPA ) government
had also made a strong case for the withdrawal of the law from Manipur. It termed AFSPA
"a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high
handedness" and recommended a progressive withdrawal of the law. But neither of these
judicial commissions nor their considered recommendations appear to have made a dent
on the thinking of governments at the centre and the state or the army.
A democracy of armed soldiers
Fri, Aug 22, 2014
AFSPA, The Hindu, polity, Irom Sharmila,
Humanising the law
Sat, Aug 23, 2014
AFSPA, The Hindu, polity, Irom Sharmila,
But Irom Sharmila Chanu's 14-year-long hunger strike is no ordinary circumstance. Whatever
the state does -- be it arresting and force-feeding her or ignoring her demand for an end
to military impunity by repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 -- the Manipuri
activist, now 42, seems to triumph. It is a sign of the government's defeat that it has been
forced to arrest Ms. Sharmila again, two days after she was released by a court. The authorities
are on questionable legal ground in repeatedly detaining her -- after the court found that
she had done no crime and that the provision criminalising attempt to commit suicide is
not applicable to political protests like hers -- but they seem to have no choice, as she can
be fed by nasal tube only in custody. In 2005, the United Progressive Alliance regime
recognised the need to amend or dilute AFSPA and appointed a committee headed by former
Supreme Court judge B.P. Jeevan Reddy. The panel unambiguously recommended that
AFSPA be repealed. It suggested amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention)
Act that could legally tackle insurgency and conflict in areas currently notified under AFSPA.
A Constitution Bench has upheld the section on the ground that the 'right to live' does
not include the 'right to die', but courts have also suggested that the provision be repealed,
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 2
as it is inhuman to prosecute those who attempt suicide due to depression instead of empowering
them to lead fruitful lives. However, the state seems to need this provision to deal with
political protesters resorting to hunger strikes. It is time the government repealed AFSPA
and abrogated Section 309 to humanise the law further.
Politics and criminality
Thu, Aug 28, 2014
mains, polity, Businessline, criminalization of politics, Supreme Court,
The Supreme Court's reminder that the executive needs to observe "constitutional propriety"
while appointing people to ministerial posts, and essentially suggesting that the elected
head of government should refrain from considering people who have had charges framed
against them in "serious" criminal cases for high office, is unexceptionable. In fact, the
Constitution bench was careful to delineate the border between executive and judicial power,
observing that it could not, through judicial interpretation, insert any additional disqualifications
into Article 75 of the Constitution. Nevertheless, with its reminder to the executive that
the Constitution not only endowed the Prime Minister with great power, but also reposed
great trust that such power will not be abused, it has effectively thrown the ball back in
the political court to decide what can, or cannot, be considered a disqualification for holding
public office. The letter of the law is quite clear on this. As things stand, a person convicted
in a criminal or other case entailing a prison sentence of more than two years is disqualified
from being a Member of Parliament or member of any legislative assembly. Such persons
are disqualified from holding ministerial positions, as laid down in 2001 by the Supreme
Court in the Jayalalithaa case. By stressing that "constitutional morality, good governance
and constitutional trust" enjoined the Prime Minister (and State chief ministers) to refrain
from picking people who have had "serious charges" framed against them by a trial court,
the Court has raised the bar on probity in public life, and echoed the public dissatisfaction
with the criminalisation of our politics. In fact, research shows that nearly a third of the
members of the Union Council of Ministers had declared in their election affidavits that
they had criminal cases pending against them, and that more than one-fifth of the members
of the current Lok Sabha also had similar charges pending against them. However, this
has to be read with some qualification. Our criminal law is a relic of the colonial era, with
sections specifically created as tools to quell political protest. Post-Independence, governments
of every stripe have built up a track record of misusing such provisions, as well as investigative
agencies, to foment cases against political opponents. And given the lengthy delays involved
in our trial process, the trial itself becomes the punishment -- especially if disqualification,
as per the Supreme Court's advice, is added. 'Innocent until proven guilty' is the cornerstone
of a sound and fair legal system -- even if it has been used as a defence by the criminal
and the corrupt. We need, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advocated, a fast-track
mechanism to decide cases of a political nature. In the absence of this, the debate about
disqualifying chargesheeted MPs and MLAs is likely to go nowhere.
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 3
SC to interpret LoP provision for Lokpal selection
Fri, Aug 22, 2014
lokpal, The Hindu, polity, leader of opposition, supreme court,
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to decide by September 9 on the status
of Leader of Opposition (to represent the Lokpal Selection committee) and made it clear
that the Lokpal legislation could not be put into cold storage. Even as the AG submitted
that the Centre was reviewing the entire Lokpal Act and the Rules, the CJI said "the court
will interpret the term `Leader of Opposition' under the Lokpal Rules on next date of hearing
since the Lokpal selection panel envisaged LoP as one of the five members. If the government
fails to resolve Lop issue, the court may give a larger interpretation to the term LoP so
that it may include leader of the largest party or leader of the larger group." Time and
again the CJI has been stressing the importance of striking a balance in separation of powers
among the various organs of the Judiciary, Executive and the Legislature. The CJI's observations
on Friday on the role and status of LoP assume significance in this context. The CJI said
"LoP holds a significant position in House of People. LoP is a voice representing views
contrary to government. The very position of selection committee will create legal problems
in the absence of LoP. The Parliament may not have envisaged such a situation but it now
needs to be interpreted so that the process is fast-tracked. The issue needs objective consideration
in view of current political situation. The issue of LoP is relevant not only in Lokpal law
but also in other existing legislations and it cannot be prolonged." The CJI said efforts
should be made to expedite the Lokpal selection process and posted the matter for further
hearing on September 9.
Supreme Court judgment breaks from tradition
Thu, Aug 28, 2014
criminalisation of politics, mains, The Hindu, polity,
By sending a strong message that politicians facing criminal charges framed by a court
should be disqualified from becoming Ministers, the Supreme Court has stepped away
from the age-old principle that a "person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty." He
said the framing of charges by a judge was not the same as the lodging of an FIR by a
probe agency. Charges are framed in a criminal trial after the judge is satisfied there is
prima facie evidence against the accused after perusal of the final charge sheet. "Framing
of charge is a judicial act by an experienced judicial mind," Justice Misra said. Besides,
a tainted Minister heading a "high-integrity institution" cannot take refuge with only a
mere presumption of innocence to defend him, Justice Misra said. "There can be no dispute
over the proposition that unless a person is convicted, he is presumed to be innocent, but
the presumption of innocence in criminal jurisprudence is something all together different,
and not to be considered for being chosen as a Minister," Justice Misra said. To this extent,
the court brushed aside the 1948 Constituent Assembly Debates of the Constitution framers,
who had then dismissed even criminal conviction as a disqualification for being appointed
Ministers, choosing instead to repose faith in the Prime Minister's advice. "Is it not that
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 4
his integrity is already under question?" Justice Joseph asked. "If so, is it desirable in a
country governed by the rule of law to entrust executive power with such a person who
is already in conflict with the law?" Justice Madan B. Lokur, the third judge who wrote
a separate verdict, referred to the 244th Report of the Law Commission on Electoral Disqualification
on February 2014 to show that "one-third of the elected candidates at Parliament and State
Assembly levels in India have some form of criminal taint." To prove his point, Justice
Lokur cited the government's own documents such as the 18th Report of the Department-Related
Parliamentary Standing Committee on disqualification of persons charged with criminal
offences from contesting elections. "The Report acknowledges the criminalisation of our
polity and necessity of cleansing the political climate," he observed.
National Judicial Appointments Commission
Sat, Aug 30, 2014
EPW, polity, judiciary, National Judicial Appointments Commission, article 124,
An assessment of the new law introduced to appoint judges argues that it will make the
judiciary subservient to the executive and thus throws a fundamental challenge to the Constitution
and Indian democracy. The petition filed by the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record
Association states that Parliament does not have the power to change the basic structure
of the Constitution which it has done and hence the government should be restrained from
sending the amendment bill to the states for ratification. The NJAC Bill is also challenged
on the ground that when it was introduced, Article 1241 and Article 217 were in full force
and effect and no legislation can go contrary to the Constitution. The two bills are therefore
a stillborn law, null and void. There was a similar challenge to the bill creating Telangana
before it became a law and the Supreme Court rejected the challenge on the ground that
only a law could be challenged and not a bill. Ironically, during the United Progressive
Alliance (UPA) regime, it was Arun Jaitley who made the point that no law could be made
altering Article 124 of the Constitution without a constitutional amendment first being
made but in its haste to set up a commission, the NDA seems to have forgotten this basic
proposition. The petition challenging the constitutional amendment states that the two
bills destroy the separation of powers and undermine the independence of the judiciary.
In plain language, this means that the executive can determine the composition of the judiciary,
making it an institution appointed by the executive. Given that in our system, laws made
by the executive can be challenged in front of the judiciary, it is imperative that judges
are not dependent on the executive for their appointment. It is obvious that under the new
dispensation, the government can veto the appointment of judges they consider unfriendly
to them. It is in these circumstances that the challenge is not only important but fundamental
to our democracy. Since 1950, judges have been appointed by the government in "consultation"
with the Chief Justice of India (CJI). For the first two decades, there was a near consensus
between the government of the day and the CJI. In 1981 the question arose whether "Consultation"
referred to in Articles 124(2) and 217(1) with the CJI meant "concurrence" in which case
the recommendations of the judiciary would be binding on the government. In the S P
Gupta case decided in 1981, the Court held by a majority that the recommendations of
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 5
the CJI were not binding on the government. Once this decision was rendered the government
obtained a licence to disregard the recommendations of the judiciary. While this was a
literal interpretation of the word "consultation", it had devastating political consequences.
It appears the recommendation made by the CJI were not accepted as an invariable rule;
change was on the cards. Judges of these courts are invariably sons of former judges or
sons of lawyers practising at the bar. The debate on who should appoint judges has never
really being thrown open to the public and we as a country do not have an articulated position
on this issue. In Court we are confronted with a binary position, either independence of
the judiciary or executive control. This process of reasoning is inherent to the legal method
and no nuances are allowed to emerge nor options considered. In 1993, once again, the
issue was taken to the Supreme Court and the judgment in the S P Gupta case was overruled.2
This time a bench of nine judges held that a collegiate opinion of a collective of judges
is binding on the government. The majority gave the following conclusions regarding appointments:
(1) All the constitutional functionaries must perform this duty collectively with a view
to reach an agreed decision so that the occasion of primacy does not arise. (2) In case of
Supreme Court the proposal is to be initiated by the CJI and in the case of a high court
by the chief justice of that high court. (3) In the event of conflict of opinion the view of
the CJI has primacy. (4) No appointment of any judge to the Supreme Court or any high
court can be made unless it is in conformity with the opinion of the CJI. (5) In exceptional
cases, for stated strong and cogent reasons, disclosed to the CJI, indicating that the recommendation
is not suitable for appointment, the appointment recommended by the CJI may not be made.
But in case the CJI reiterates his recommendation then, the appointment should be made
in accordance with his recommendation. (6) The senior-most judge of the Supreme Court
should be appointed as CJI, if considered fit to hold the office. The nine judges bench
opined; (1) The opinion of the CJI, having primacy in the consultative process and reflecting
the opinion of judiciary, has to be formed on the basis of consultation with the collegium,
comprising of the CJI and the four senior most Supreme Court judges. The judge, who
is to succeed the CJI should also be included, if he is not one of the four senior most judges.
Their views should be in writing. (2) Views of the senior most judges of the Supreme
Court, who hail from the high courts where the person to be recommended are functioning
as judges, if not part of the collegium, must be obtained in writing. (3) The recommendation
of the collegium along with the views of its members and that of the senior most judges
of the Supreme Court who hail from the high court where the persons to be recommended
are functioning as judges should be conveyed by the CJI to the Government of India. (4)
The substance of the views of the others consulted by the Chief Justice of India or on his
behalf, particularly those of non-judges (members of the Bar). Should be stated in the memorandum
and be conveyed to the Government of India. (5) Normally, the collegium should make
its recommendation on the basis of consensus but in case of difference of opinion no one
should be appointed, if the CJI dissents. (6) If two or more members of the collegium dissent,
the CJI should not persist with the recommendation. (7) In case of a non-appointment of
the person recommended, the materials and information conveyed by the Government
of India, must be placed before the original collegium or the reconstituted one, if so, to
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 6
consider whether the recommendation should be withdrawn or reiterated. It is only if it
unanimously reiterated that the appointment must be made. (8) The CJI may, in his discretion,
bring to the knowledge of the person recommended the reasons disclosed by the Government
of India for his non-appointment and ask for his response thereto, which, if made, be considered
by the collegium before withdrawing or reiterating the recommendation. Women, scheduled
castes, scheduled tribes and religious minorities continued to be, by and large, excluded
from the judiciary. The long-standing demand has been for transparency and public participation,
greater representation for women, minorities, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The
bills introduced in Parliament do not address any of these. The Commission is composed
of the CJI, two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, the law minister and two eminent
persons, to be selected by a selection committee consisting of the prime minister, the CJI,
leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha or where no leader of opposition, the leader
of the largest single opposition party. There is no definition of who is an eminent person.
If past experience is anything to go by, these could be lawyers or former judges. It is the
function of this commission to recommend judges for appointment to the Supreme Court
and the high courts. Seeds of Authoritarianism The judiciary which is supposed to be independent
of the executive is the only institution to which we can turn to question anti-people laws.
To give just one example, the move to amend labour laws to take factories with less than
40 workers out of the ambit of the Factories Act will deprive workers there of health and
safety benefits and is bound to be challenged. What was needed was public participation
in the matter of appointment of judges and equal opportunity to become a judge. The system
of nominations by the executive or the judiciary must be put an end to, instead, those who
consider themselves eligible must be permitted to send an expression of interest making
it possible for that person's antecedents to be evaluated. What happens in the Supreme
Court will change the course of the history of the nation. 1 Article 124 . Establishment
and constitution of Supreme Court: (1) There shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting
of a Chief Justice of India and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not
more than seven other judges. (2) Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed
by the President by warrant under the hand and seal after consultation with such of the
Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may
deem necessary for the purposes and shall hold office until he attains the age of 65 years:
Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief
Justice of India shall always be consulted: Provided further that - (a) a Judge may,
by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office; a Judge may be
removed from his office in the manner provided in clause (4).
Judicial appointments not above reproach
Fri, Aug 22, 2014
Judicial appointments commission, polity, judiciary, Businessline,
All eyes are on the Supreme Court: it will decide on the validity of the Judicial Appointment
Commission Bill, challenged by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association.
The petition seeks to quash the 121st Amendment to the Constitution. The origins of the
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 7
Collegium system would seem to lie in an observation of the Supreme Court in SP Gupta
v. Union of India , 'We would rather suggest that there must be a collegium to make a
recommendation to the President in regard to appointment of a Supreme Court or High
Court Judge....'. Prior to the Collegium system, the Union Executive (Cabinet) had the
power to determine appointments to the Supreme Court; this was most telling when certain
judges were superseded with no apparent reason, except that their views on the Constitution
was contrary to that of the Government. However, there is no way of finding out how
many appointments the Cabinet acting through the President (or President himself), did
not approve, or how many appointments the Supreme Court Collegium did not approve.
The letter and spirit of law demand that people be made aware of appointment system
for important constitutional functionaries. While the Constitution of the United States
recognised this principle, today, the system is mired in politics and the Senate Judiciary
Committee cannot work without the effect of political considerations. Entry 77 of List
1 of Schedule 7 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to legislate in respect of 'Constitution,
organisation, jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court...'. However, can, or should,
Parliament legislate in respect of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court? If courts
were allowed to legislate, that would seem incongruous, since legislation is matter for
Parliament and adjudication is a matter for courts. Any system under the Constitution
must be one that effectively balances powers among the legislature, judiciary and executive.
Measures of transparency would help in evaluating choices. These would only strengthen
institutional economics of the Supreme Court and indeed, the Constitution itself.
Don't close the door on NJAC as yet
Tue, Aug 26, 2014
mains, The Hindu, polity, judiciary, National Judicial Appointments Commission, NJAC,
The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have passed the National Judicial Appointments Commission
Act, 2014 (NJAC Act), and the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, to give constitutional
status to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) to appoint judges to the
Supreme Court and High Courts. Rarely has a legislation of such importance been approved
by the two Houses of Parliament unanimously. This is the clearest endorsement of consensus
of public opinion in the country: that the judicially created collegium system of appointing
judges requires replacement by a new system of appointment. The JAC is to be composed
of six members -- the ex-officio Chief Justice of India, two senior-most judges of the Supreme
Court, the Law Minister, and two "eminent persons" nominated by a committee comprising
the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition. There
is nothing to suggest that the two "eminent persons" will be the nominees of the government.
Critics have faulted the new JAC principally on the ground that the three judicial members
of the commission will not have a predominant vote in the selection of a judge. They criticise
the provision in the NJAC Act which states that the JAC cannot recommend a person for
appointment as a judge if any two members of the commission do not agree for such a
recommendation. It is suggested that this provision takes away the power of the three ex-officio
judges of the Supreme Court to recommend a judge, and gives a veto to two non-judicial
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 8
members. If the basis of the new legislation is to take away the supremacy of the previous
collegium to appoint judges, there surely cannot be a provision in the new law to retain
that power by giving a decisive vote to the judicial members of the commission. The JAC
Bill was therefore amended in the course of the debate in the Lok Sabha to delete the requirement
of a unanimous reiteration by the commission if the President required it to reconsider
its recommendation. Thereby, the Bill took away the power of the President or the executive
to overrule the recommendation of the JAC, which was not unanimous. The insistence
that the judicial members of the commission must have the predominant vote in the commission
is founded on a theory that the judiciary must have the right to appoint judges. This is
not the constitutional requirement in any jurisdiction. The U.K. Judicial Appointments
Commission, a body doing excellent work, consists of 15 members: two from the legal
profession, five judges, one tribunal member, one lay justice (magistrate), and six lay people
including the Chairman. The JAC will become functional only after a long time. The Constitutional
(99th Amendment) Act has to be ratified first by half the States which will take several
months. A permanent secretariat to back up the functioning of the JAC has to be created.
Regulations have to be formulated for its functioning, particularly for the criteria of suitability
for judicial appointments. There are many shortcomings in the JAC as formulated in the
statute, but much will depend on how it will function in practice. Already petitions have
been filed against the JAC in the Supreme Court, and eminent lawyers have said they will
move the Court to declare the commission illegal. Whether they will succeed or not, it
is unfortunate that such a challenge in the Court will throw the system of appointing judges
in a cloud of uncertainty.
Yardstick for judiciary should also apply for ministers: SC
Thu, Aug 28, 2014
The Hindu, polity, judiciary, representation of people act, supreme court,
The Supreme Court has made it clear that the yardstick followed in appointments in judiciary
and civil services of not inducting persons with doubtful integrity should also be applied
while appointing minsters. The apex court raised questions on how people with criminal
background against whom charges have been framed are made ministers at the Centre
and States. "It may not be altogether irrelevant to note that a person even of doubtful integrity
is not appointed in the important organ of the State which interprets law and administers
justice, then why to speak of questioned integrity! What to say more, a candidate involved
in any criminal case and facing trial, is not appointed in any civil service because of the
alleged criminal antecedents, until acquitted," he said. In its judgement, the apex court
left it to the wisdom of the PM and CMs not to recommend such names to the President
and Governor, observing that nation has reposed faith in them for "good governance".
"Hence, I am of the firm view, that the PM and CM of the State, who themselves have
taken oath to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution and to discharge their duties
faithfully and conscientiously, will be well advised to consider avoiding any person in
the Council of Ministers, against whom charges have been framed by a criminal court
in respect of offences involving moral turpitude and also offences specifically referred
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 9
to in Chapter III of The Representation of the People Act, 1951," he said.
No Cure for the Malaise
Sat, Aug 23, 2014
EPW, national judicial appointments commission, polity, judiciary, NJAC,
Parliament's approval of the Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the National
Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill, 2014 raises more questions than answers
about the process of appointments to the higher judiciary. The combined effect of the two
bills is to establish a NJAC which will be responsible for appointment of judges to the
Supreme Court and high courts as well as transfer of judges between high courts. The establishment
of the NJAC marks the end of the judicial collegium, a committee comprising the Chief
Justice of India (CJI) and senior Supreme Court judges. In principle, there is a strong
claim that not having a preponderance of judges in a commission to appoint judges is in
violation of the independence of the judiciary. That judicial preponderance is essential
in a judicial appointments mechanism was held by the Supreme Court itself in The Second
Judges Case which established the collegium system. This is especially so in appointments
to the office of the CJI. For such appointments, the two senior-most judges on the NJAC
have to recuse themselves, since they will be in consideration for appointment as CJI. This
will mean the CJI is the only judicial member for this particular selection. This is symptomatic
of a larger concern with the bills - an inadequate safeguarding of transparency, particularly
in the details of the process. This is surprising, since the most egregious failing of the collegium
system was the secrecy of its functioning and the lack of reasons for its decisions. One
would have expected rectification of this deficiency to be the raison d'etre of these reforms.
On the contrary, the shortlisting of candidates, their final selection, and the exercise of
a veto in respect of certain candidatures can all be done by theNJAC in secret without
any reasons being provided. Safeguards to ensure that persons are appointed on the basis
of their ability rather than their connections are thus largely absent. There is no guarantee
that the spectre of nepotism and trade-offs that characterised several collegium appointments
will not be replicated in the NJAC. But as far as the separation of powers in India's constitutional
framework is concerned, we live in testing times. The Narendra Modi government is the
first in over two decades to command an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. The judiciary,
having cited governance deficits to justify expansive and activist interpretations of the
Constitution in this time, might need to closely introspect about its interpretive approach
and wider public role.
'Does NJAC Bill curb independence of judiciary?'
Mon, Aug 25, 2014
The Hindu, polity, judiciary, NJAC,
The Supreme Court on Monday will hear a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality
of the Constitution amendment and National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC)
Bills giving politicians an equal role in the appointment of judges to the highest judiciary.
The petitions argue that the Bills interfere with the independence of the judiciary, which
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 10
is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and hence cannot be materially altered
or amended by taking away the "pre-dominant" role of the highest judiciary to select its
own judges without political interference. The petition by the advocate panel has been
settled by eminent lawyer Fali Nariman, who had taken part in the government's consultations
with legal experts on the NJAC, which replaces the two-decade old judicial collegium
system of appointments. It argues that the veto provision in the NJAC Bill gives room
to embarrass the highest judiciary because a candidate chosen by the CJI and two senior-most
Supreme Court judges on the Commission can be rejected by the other half of the Commission.
Even these "eminent persons" are not chosen unanimously but amongst the Prime Minister,
CJI and leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, it says. The petitions say that the Bills
would give "unbridled power" to the Parliament to regulate judicial appointments.
Constitutional duty underlined
Sat, Aug 30, 2014
election, The Hindu, polity, judiciary, Supreme Court,
It has in recent times delivered some significant verdicts to save the purity of the election
process. It directed that the 'none-of-the-above' option be incorporated in the voting machine,
and struck down a clause that saved sitting legislators from immediate disqualification
upon conviction. When the question whether a person with a criminal background can
be allowed to become a Minister was referred to a Constitution Bench, there could have
been the expectation that the Court would expand the existing law to bar the appointment
of those against whom serious charges have been framed. However, showing wise restraint,
the Constitution Bench has declined to prescribe any fresh ground for disqualification
for the appointment of Ministers. Instead, it has advised the Prime Minister, as well as
the Chief Ministers, to live up to the trust that the Constitution reposes in them by refraining
from advising the President, or the Governors, when it comes to appointing as Ministers
those with the taint of criminality. In the ultimate analysis, the judgment may be no more
than a learned dissertation on the subject. However, at a time when statistics of pending
cases and charges against legislators are cited to assess the extent of criminality in politics,
it is a timely reminder to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of their constitutional
responsibility to preserve purity in public life. The Election Commission has already mooted
some reforms to curb the criminalisation of politics, notably an amendment to make framing
of charges in serious cases the basis for disqualification, instead of conviction, as it stands
now. The message from the latest verdict is that these issues ought to be addressed through
legislation rather than the judicial process.
Safeguarding judicial autonomy
Mon, Aug 25, 2014
The Hindu, polity, judiciary, National Judicial Appointments Commission, NJAC,
. The NJAC, the amendment provides, shall comprise the Chief Justice of India as its ex
officio chairperson, the two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court following the Chief
Justice, the Law Minister, and two 'eminent persons' to be nominated jointly by the Prime
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 11
Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition. In the immediate
wake of Parliament's approval of the amendment, however, criticism of the proposed commission,
which will replace the collegium in making judicial appointments, has been widespread.
. The focus here has been not only on the composition of the NJAC, but also its workings
as provided by the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, which was
passed simultaneously with the Constitution Amendment Bill. The new laws have their
deficiencies, but they are a product of sustained discussion across all political lines and
are examples of a non-partisan process of law making. What's more, they have allayed
fears that the executive would exercise unbridled control over judicial appointments. And
most crucially, the laws would obliterate the collegium system which is not only opaque
and extra-constitutional, but also, as evidence of the recent past has shown, an abject failure.
In the Constitution (as originally enacted), the power to appoint judges to High Courts
and the Supreme Court rests with the executive. Article 124 of the Constitution provides
that the President shall appoint judges to the Supreme Court after consultation with such
of the judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President
may deem necessary for the purpose. And, where the appointment is of a judge other than
the Chief Justice of India, the President is mandatorily required to consult the Chief Justice.
Likewise, Article 217 provides that the President shall appoint judges to the High Courts
after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and in case
of appointment of a judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court
concerned. When drafting the Constitution, the Constituent Assembly took great efforts
to ensure that the judiciary was independent of any coercive political influence. To that
end, it introduced a number of significant provisions in the Constitution. For example,
the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts serve not at the pleasure of the President,
but until they attain a fixed age; what's more, salaries and allowances of the judges are
charged from the Consolidated Fund of the State (which is incapable of being a subject
of a vote by a Legislative Assembly); discussion in the State legislatures on the conduct
of any judge is expressly barred; powers are conferred on the High Court to punish for
contempt of itself; and, significantly, judges of the higher judiciary can be removed only
through a complicated process of impeachment by Parliament. When, in Union of India
v. Sankal Chand Himatlal Sheth [(1977) SCC (4) 193], the Supreme Court found that
the word "consultation" did not mean "concurrence," it was guided by these objectives.
The Court held that the opinion of the Chief Justice in making transfers was not binding
on the executive, although a departure from his or her opinion could be made in exceptional
circumstances. While this decision was partially affirmed by a majority of seven judges,
insofar as the appointment process is concerned in the First Judges Case ( S.P. Gupta v.
Union of India , 1981 Supp (1) SCC 87), the Supreme Court dramatically altered the position
in the Second Judges Case ( Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union
of India , (1993) (4) SCC 441). In the Second Judges Case, it ruled that the word "consultation"
in Articles 124 and 217 denoted "concurrence," and that primacy in making judicial appointments
is vested with the Chief Justice. This decision was later affirmed with certain modifications
in the Third Judges Case (In re Presidential Reference, (1998) 7 SCC 739), and it was
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 12
held that the ultimate authority to make appointments to the Supreme Court lay with a
collegium of judges comprising the Chief Justice and his or her four senior-most colleagues.
Through the Second and Third Judges cases, the Supreme Court virtually appropriated
unto itself the power to appoint judges. As the nature of appointments made in the last
two decades has showed, the decisions exemplified a concern expressed by James Madison
in the American context: "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary,
in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed,
or elective," he said, "may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." Had the
Supreme Court's decisions in these cases been substituted by a Constitution amendment
by Parliament to the same effect, it is trite to say that such a law would have been liable
to be invalidated for violating the Constitution's basic structure. Now, through the 99th
Constitution Amendment Bill and the NJAC Bill, Parliament has merely sought to realign
the process of appointments in consonance with a general principle of separation of powers.
The composition of the NJAC may not be perfect, but it is, in fact, tilted in favour of the
judiciary. If any two of the three judges on the panel believe that a candidate is unsuitable
for appointment, they can together veto the elevation of such a nominee. The Union government,
on the other hand, merely has a single vote in the NJAC, and cannot, by itself, place a
proscription on any appointment. It will require the additional backing of either one of
the judges or one of the 'eminent persons' for the government to thwart any nomination.
Any fears that the composition of the NJAC will vest an unrestrained power in the executive
therefore appear unfounded. Even in the U.K., where the Judicial Appointments Commission
is completely divorced from executive involvement, the Lord Chancellor retains the power
to reject a nomination made by such a commission. The NJAC might not be as broadly
constructed as the U.K. Commission, but its constitutional sanction will infuse in the process
of judicial appointments greater transparency and an enhanced democratic involvement,
as is the case in the U.K. Given that the originally enacted Constitution placed overriding
power on the executive to make judicial appointments, it is unfathomable how the proposed
system, which accords the judiciary not merely a consultative role but a determinative
one, can be found to infringe the independence of the judiciary.
Stop parading accused before media, says Supreme Court
Fri, Aug 29, 2014
The Hindu, polity, judiciary,
The Supreme Court on Thursday said security agencies should stop parading accused before
the media as it is an affront to the person and dignity of the accused who was presumed
innocent until convicted of the crime. The Bench made its view clear while hearing a petition
filed by NGO People's Union for Civil Liberties seeking direction to frame guidelines
for reporting of the criminal cases and encounter killings by the security agencies. The
court said even statements made by witnesses in a pending case affects the fundamental
right of the accused and works to create a stigma against him.
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 13
Secularism must be for all: N. Ram
Mon, Aug 25, 2014
The Hindu, polity, Secularism,
"Secularism as the equality-and-fairness principle must be based on justice if it is to survive
and flourish. The unmet demand for justice in India has many dimensions -- the constitutional-political,
the social, the economic, gender, and so on. Discrimination and the denial of elementary
justice in these dimensions weaken and sap the practice of secularism, The path India took
in 1947 was a brave experiment in trying to address underdevelopment and extreme deprivation
in a large, highly populated, poor country, within the framework of parliamentary democracy.
But the experiment largely failed Nehru's litmus test - of ending poverty and ignorance
and disease and inequality of opportunity. What is worse, there is no indication that policy-makers
have lost much sleep over the palpable reality of India having a greater mass of basic deprivations
today than any other country on earth,
A republic of sub-nations?
Wed, Aug 27, 2014
Telangana, polity, Businessline,
An important objective of the survey seems to be the assessment of actual number of Below
Poverty Line (BPL) households. This vital information would enable the Government
to deliver welfare schemes to persons and households for whom they are intended. It
would result in the 'weeding out' of 'bogus' claimants. This is indeed a bold and a laudable
move and it would do well for other state governments to follow suit. We are referring
to citizens from Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions who had migrated to Telangana
in general and to Hyderabad in particular. They are derisively referred to as 'settlers',
'colonisers' and so on by the agitators for Telangana. The Telangana government had
contended that only persons resident in the State since 1956 or earlier belong to Telangana
and can access the benefits under the welfare schemes (This was the year in which the
region of Telangana was merged with Andhra and Rayalaseema regions to form the state
of Andhra Pradesh). The perception of 'Seemandhras' was that this was a move to weed
them out of Telangana state for being 'outsiders'. Only time will tell whether their perceptions
were genuine or otherwise. However, the discourse of internal colonialism has to be questioned,
where a citizen of one country can be considered as a settler or coloniser in another part
of the same nation. Even in this discourse, one class or any other organised group tends
to exploit the people in general belonging to another area or region within a nation. But
can one region (subsuming class, caste, religion, etc,) exploit another, in terms of colonisation?
Could it not be that the very logic and process of development creates unevenness with
areas of prosperity existing along with areas of deprivation, for instance? More development
One solution to this problem is more and more development, an 'unto the last' approach,
by which the last unemployed person would also find a job with degrees of gainfulness
-- a Benthamite idea of the largest good of the largest number. This idea can only be accepted
with certain amount of scepticism. The question is: what does it mean to be a citizen
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 14
of India, what are one's rights, what are the limitations to those rights, particularly in the
matter of internal migration when migration is considered a universal 'human right'?
Second, today, it is the people from one region who were considered 'outsiders' or 'settlers'
in Telangana. The development of Hyderabad has attracted a huge number of migrants
from other States such as Odisha and Bihar. They form a significant quantum of 'non-local'
labour today across the occupational-professional spectrum. Tomorrow, some parochial
articulation will gain momentum that Oriyas and Biharis are taking away or cornering
job opportunities. Already, such an argument has been made in other contexts, for instance
in Maharashtra. At the same time, public policy has to address the 'regional' and 'local'
realities, too. Political parties should also desist, or statutorily be desisted, from making
political capital out of problems that can be otherwise solved by administrative action
and a balanced developmental vision of the state.
Supreme Court terms pleas against NJAC premature
Mon, Aug 25, 2014
The Hindu, polity, NJAC,
The Supreme Court has said it is "premature" to interrupt the ongoing legislative process
and examine the constitutionality of the Constitution amendment and National Judicial
Appointments Commission Bills before they were made law. A Supreme Court bench
of Justices Anil R. Dave, J. Chelameswar and A.K. Sikri refused to entertain a bunch of
PILs that termed the six-member NJAC a threat to judicial independence and a violation
of the basic structure of the Constitution. 'Review only after ratification as law' Instead,
the court chose to respect the Parliament's prerogative to pass laws by agreeing with Attorney
General Mukul Rohatgi's submission that judicial review of the Bills can be done only
after they are notified as law and not now, when they are still "exclusively within the legislative
domain" and awaiting ratification by at least 15 States. The Bills, now passed by Parliament,
if made into law after ratification by State legislatures and subsequent assent of the President,
arm politicians with an equal role in the appointment of judges to the highest judiciary,
"The Bill is undergoing legislative process. The legislative process is not complete. The
Bill has to be first ratified by the States, then receive the assent of the President and finally
notified in the gazette as law of the land. Then, if someone is affected by that law, that
person can come for judicial review of the law. Now this Bill is exclusively in the legislative
domain, it within the legislative hold," the Attorney General argued.
Talk to ease tensions
Sat, Aug 30, 2014
Pakistan, The Hindu, polity, International,
. But the unwritten truce has been fraying steadily since January 2008 with the frequency
of ceasefire violations by Pakistan going up each year since then. Last year saw the beheading
of an Indian soldier, and another incident in which five soldiers were ambushed at the
LoC. This year, in August alone there have been more than 20 instances of ceasefire violations.
The absence of dialogue between India and Pakistan at a time like this is cause for concern.
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 15
Indeed, the near-non-existent dialogue process since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks
has meant that the two sides have not been able to address the ceasefire violations in a
structured way almost since the time these began. A vacuum can only encourage forces
in Pakistan pitted against improvement of relations with India to vitiate the atmosphere
further. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the shelling across the International Border
came after India cancelled a scheduled round of Foreign Secretary-level talks.
Some distinctly anti-federal rumblings
Mon, Aug 25, 2014
federal, polity, Businessline,
While all this may look fine in the world of politics, a continuance of such a situation --
non-BJP chief ministers boycotting the Prime Minister's meetings in their States -- doesn't
augur well for the democracy of which all of us are so justifiably proud. It has the dangerous
potential of a real breakdown in Centre-State relations in several parts of India. And this
would be disastrous in a country where the States -- whether of the ruling party or the Opposition
-- are getting more and more autonomous. An angry Soren later termed such heckling "rape
of the federal structure of India" and his party, the JMM, demanded an apology for what
happened. Soren's words might be harsh, but the underlying sentiment cannot be dismissed.
DoPT to notify amendments to Lokpal search panel mandate
Tue, Aug 26, 2014
lokpal, The Hindu, polity, Rohatgi committee,
Following allegations of a flawed selection procedure, the government had earlier decided
to amend the selection rules framed under the Lokpal Act. The amendments were to be
carried out in consonance with the report of a three-member committee set up by Prime
Minister Narendra Modi. Under the present rules, the search committee will shortlist a
panel of candidates for consideration by the Prime Minister-led selection committee for
appointment of the chairperson and eight members of the Lokpal. The Rohatgi committee
had also suggested reduction in the number of the search committee from eight to seven.
It recommended that the committee would devise its own procedure in forming the panel
of proposed candidates independently and that the government would only render assistance
to the search committee. Faulting the selection procedure, Justice K.T. Thomas, as the
head of the committee, and senior advocate Fali Nariman, as its member, had opted out.
Justice restored
Wed, Aug 27, 2014
reservation, Frontline, polity, reservation in promotion,
the Supreme Court in its July 20 judgment (in Rohtas Bhankhar and Others vs Union
of India) upheld reservation in promotions for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled
Tribes (S.C./S.T.); their promotions to the posts of section officer were withheld after the
DoPT in 1997 withdrew a 1970 order relaxing norms in departmental competitive and
promotion examinations for S.C./S.T. employees. The case shows how arbitrary changes
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 16
in service rules have deprived candidates belonging to the backward classes of the substantive
benefits of promotions. The Supreme Court had in a judgment in the same year held that
the provision for lowering qualifying marks/standards of evaluation was not permissible
under the Constitution. Implementing the judgment, the government in 1997 withdrew
its 1970 order relaxing standards for S.C. and S.T. candidates in departmental competitive
examinations and in departmental confirmation tests. According to Rule 8 of the notified
examination rules, a relaxation in the standards was permitted for candidates belonging
to the S.C. and S.T. category. It says: "Provided that candidates belonging to the Scheduled
Castes or the Scheduled Tribes may, to the extent of the number of vacancies reserved
for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes cannot be filled on the basis of the general
standard, be recommended by the commission by a relaxed standard to make up the deficiency
in the reserved quota subject to the fitness of these candidates for inclusion in the select
list for each category irrespective of their ranks in the order of merits at the examination."
In response to a Right to Information petition filed in 1999, the UPSC had informed the
applicant that after discontinuation of relaxed qualifying standards in favour of S.C./S.T.
candidates, 29 seats for S.C. candidates and 31 seats for S.T. candidates for the posts of
section officer remained vacant in 1997. Reservation in promotion for S.C./S.T. candidates
has been a contentious issue, with the stance of the apex court itself not being consistent.
The provision of reservation in promotions has been perceived as anti-merit and working
against the efficiency of the administration. The judgments of the apex court are informed
by various interpretations of Article 16(4) of the Constitution, which provides for reservation
to ensure the equality of opportunity, and Article 335, which provides for reservation,
which is consistent with ensuring the efficiency of the administration. In Indra Sawhney
vs Union of India , 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, while upholding the
constitutional validity of reservation, did not permit the lowering of qualifying marks for
a State. The judgment said: "However, it would not be permissible to prescribe lower qualifying
marks or a lesser level of evaluation for the members of reserved categories since that
would compromise the efficiency of administration." In 1996, the Supreme Court in S.
Vinod Kumar & Another vs Union of India , relying on the earlier judgment, held that
the provision for lower qualifying marks or standard of evaluation was not permissible
under Article 16 (4) in view of Article 335. Article 335 enjoins that the claims of the members
of the S.C. and S.T. shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance
of efficiency of the administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts
in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State. Meanwhile, Article 16 (4A), allowing
for reservation in promotions, was included in the Constitution in 1995 through the 77th
amendment. The judgment in the S. Vinod Kumar case, the Supreme Court held in its
July verdict, did not take this amendment into consideration.
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 17
Set minimum qualification for MPs, MLAs: SC
Thu, Aug 28, 2014
The Hindu, elections, polity, supreme court,
The time has come for Parliament to prescribe some minimum qualifications for Parliamentarians/Legislators
as prescribed in other fields, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday. Justice Madan
Lokur, in his separate but concurring judgment on the PIL filed in 2005 seeking removal
of tainted Ministers, recalled the words of the first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, in the
Constituent Assembly that he would have liked to have some qualifications laid down
for Members of Legislatures. Justice Kurian Joseph, in his concurring judgment, wondered
whether it would be desirable in a country governed by the rule of law to entrust the executive
power with a person who was already in conflict with law. He asked, "Will any reasonably
prudent master leave the keys of his chest with a servant whose integrity is doubted? It
may not be altogether irrelevant to note that a person even of doubtful integrity is not appointed
in the important organ of the State which interprets law and administers justice, then why
to speak of questioned integrity! What to say more, a candidate involved in any criminal
case and facing trial, is not appointed in any civil service because of the alleged criminal
antecedents, until acquitted." "No doubt, it is not for the court to issue any direction to
the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister, as the case may be, as to the manner in which
they should exercise their power while selecting the colleagues in the Council of Ministers,"
Justice Joseph said.
Govt sets up committee to identify outdated laws
Wed, Aug 27, 2014
outdated laws, laws, polity, Businessline,
The committee will be headed by the Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office R Ramanujam,
while former Secretary in Legislative Department, V K Bhasin, will be a member of the
committee. The committee has been asked to submit its report in three months. The effort
is to bring a comprehensive Bill, based on the recommendations of the committee, during
the winter session of Parliament, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.
The committee will examine all Acts recommended to be repealed by a previous Committee
on the Review of Administrative Laws. The previous committee was appointed during
the term of the Vajpayee Government in 1998. That committee had recommended repealing
of 1,328 Acts. However, only 415 have been repealed so far. Expressing concern over
the slow progress, Modi called for a focused and result-oriented exercise to systematically
weed out archaic laws and rules. The Committee will also examine Acts and Rules which
might have become obsolete in the last 10 to 15 years.
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 18
Tilting at the Windmills (Again)
Sat, Aug 23, 2014
living will, EPW, polity, suicide,
the Supreme Court has once again been called upon to legislate in another fraught and
complex area - legalising living wills. 5 Common Cause, a non-governmental organisation,
has in a writ petition filed under Article 32, asked the Court to declare that the "right to
die with dignity" be recognised as an aspect of the "right to life with dignity" 6 and in
furtherance of this, pass orders to allow for the execution of "living wills". In the alternative,
the writ petition seeks the setting up of an expert committee consisting of "doctors, social
scientists and lawyers" to study the aspects of the issue of "living wills" and frame guidelines
in this respect. 7 Broadly, two reasons have been indicated by the three-judge bench for
referring the matter for hearing by the Constitution Bench; the conflicting judgments of
the Supreme Court in Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab 9 (Gian Kaur), and Aruna Ramchandra
Shanbaug vs Union of India 10 (Aruna Shanbaug), and the "important question of law"
which requires to be decided in the case. 11 The three-judge bench has not, however,
thought it fit to frame any questions of law or terms of reference for the Constitution Bench,
leaving it open to examine any and all issues within the scope of the writ petition. The
Constitution Bench recently issued notice to all the state governments and appointed amicus
curiae to assist it in this matter. 12 Undoubtedly the writ petition raises a substantial question
of law relating to the interpretation of the Constitution, viz, whether the right to live with
dignity guaranteed under Article 21 includes the right to die with dignity. However, a Constitution
Bench of the Supreme Court in Gian Kaur has already held that the right to live with
dignity includes the right to die with dignity. In Gian Kaur, the Supreme Court was only
considering the criminalisation of suicide and not with euthanasia or living wills per se.
The proposition laid down in Gian Kaur , with respect to the right to die with dignity,
must be treated therefore as obiter dicta - binding on lower courts. 15 In Aruna Shanbaug
however, a two-judge bench of the Court was in fact concerned with a case where active
euthanasia was sought. A "living will" or an "advance directive" as it is also known in
some countries, is a legal document executed in advance by a person relating to the provision
of healthcare to such person when she is incapacitated and no longer capable of making
decisions for herself. It enjoins the executor and the medical practitioner to follow the
wishes of the executor of such a "living will" while providing medical treatment in cases
of such incapacitation including and up to the withdrawal of treatment. A living will is
the recognition of the common law principle that medical treatment, contrary to the intentions
of the person being treated, is an invasion of the right to bodily integrity of such person.
A person who is no longer capable of making such decisions about treatment does not
necessarily lose the right to be treated according to her wishes, if she has indicated such
a preference earlier. A living will is therefore the expression of such a wish, and in the
common law, capable of being recognised and enforced as a valid legal document. 18
five key questions that the Court will have to grapple with are: (1) Who will be competent
to execute a living will? (2) In what form will a living will have to be issued in order to
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 19
be valid? (3) Who is to ensure that a living will is properly obeyed? (4) What legal consequences
follow from the non-obedience to a living will? (5) Can a doctor, for reasons of conscience
or faith, refuse to execute a living will?
New Holistic Fertiliser Policy to be Unveiled
Mon, Aug 25, 2014
Fertiliser Policy, PIB, agriculture, economics,
This could provide for a national platform for farmers to use bio-fertilisers. Elaborating
on the theme for the conference: "Agrochemicals for Ensuring Food and Nutritional Security
of the Nation", he said the Green Revolution of 60s and 70s was not a holistic, but a truncated
revolution. Expressing serious concern at irrational usage of fertilizers he said, this could
have an adverse affect for achieving a sustainable food and nutritional security for the
Off With Its Head
Sat, Aug 23, 2014
planning commission, EPW, polity, finance commission,
The Planning Commission, as the agent of "state planning", has been, in the eyes of free
marketers, the biggest culprit of all that apparently went wrong in the economy in the first
four decades after Independence. Those without a sense of history do of course have the
luxury of projecting self-serving opinions. The planners themselves in hindsight did accept
that many errors were made during the heyday of planning in the late 1950s and early 1960s,
especially in their neglect of the wage goods (food, clothing and such consumer goods)
and export sectors. Yet, the critics forget that India's diversified industrial base is a creation
of the planning era and that many of the stars of today like the first-generation of Indian
Institutes of Technology were "planned" institutions. The roots of India's strength in software
too can be traced to the pool of skilled scientific and engineering talent that was created
as part of the planning process. The unfortunate aspect is that in spite of the decline in
the importance of planning, Yojana Bhawan increased its power elsewhere - as an agency
that channelled as much resources to the states as flowed through the statutory transfers
of the once-in-five-years Finance Commission. In the name of addressing regional disparities
or special needs, the monster of centrally-sponsored schemes grew, so too other forms
of Planning Commission-directed transfers, such as additional central assistance and special
assistance. All this made the states supplicants of what all through remained a non-statutory
body. Central assistance to state plans left the states with little freedom to pursue their
own priorities and chief ministers had to make an annual pilgrimage to Yojana Bhawan
to seek additional funds.
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 20
Conflicts within
Fri, Aug 22, 2014
The Hindu, north east, polity, nagaland, Assam,
Persisting boundary disputes among the northeastern States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh,
Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland, reflect multi-layered conflicts in the region that the
formation over time of those States on ethno-linguistic lines failed to address or resolve.
While claiming cross-boundary ethnic contiguity, Nagaland says a 1925 notification that
transferred stretches of forests from Nagaland to Assam was biased and that they ought
to have been returned in 1947. The issue was raised during the signing of the 16-Point
Agreement between the Centre and the Naga Peoples' Convention in 1960 that led to the
formation of Nagaland in December 1963. Nagaland thus wants the boundary redrawn
on historical lines. Clearly, this is a dispute that cannot be wished away. Neither is it one
that could be allowed to descend into violence. In 1979, the Central Reserve Police Force
was posted to maintain status quo on the boundary as a neutral group. Law and order
along the boundary, which is divided into six sectors, is under the Central government's
charge. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has now accused the CRPF of failure to protect the
victims. Mr. Gogoi and Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang need to work out ways to
avoid further confrontations.
Regulating India's nuclear estate
Fri, Aug 29, 2014
nuclear, The Hindu, polity, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board,
The 2014 Nuclear Materials Security Index prepared by the Washington-based Nuclear
Threat Initiative (NTI) has ranked India 23rd out of 25 countries with weapons-usable
nuclear materials. Currently, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), established
in 1983 through a gazette notification, is tasked with regulating the safety and security
aspects of the country's civilian nuclear facilities. However, it is not an autonomous body
as it depends on the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for all practical purposes. It
has, as a result, been unable to perform its regulatory functions effectively. In 1997, the
Raja Ramanna Committee report had recommended that the Atomic Energy Act (1962)
should be amended to enhance the effectiveness of the nuclear regulatory system in the
country. In 2011, the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) Bill was drafted by
the DAE and submitted to the Union Cabinet for approval. The DAE note that sought approval
from the Cabinet to introduce the Bill in Parliament had cited both the Mayapuri and the
Fukushima accidents as the factors that contributed to the urgency to strengthen the country's
nuclear regulatory mechanism. The CAG report, tabled in Parliament in August 2012,
concluded that "the legal status of AERB continues to be that of an authority subordinate
to the Central Government, with powers delegated to it by the latter," and recommended
to the government to "ensure that the nuclear regulator is empowered and independent.
The Council of Nuclear Safety to be established by the NSRA Bill -- with the Prime Minister
as the Chair and mostly government representatives as members -- will be a very powerful
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 21
body with the power to appoint the chairperson and members of the new regulatory body.
This will diminish the powers of the regulator since it will be subordinate to the Council
chaired by the Prime Minister. We will, as a result, end up having a government-controlled
regulator all over again. The NSRA Bill is explicit on the ability of the government to
control the regulator: "the Central Government may, by notification, supersede the Authority
for such period, not exceeding six months, as may be specified in the notification." The
NSRA also does not say which facilities would be put under the new authority -- currently,
the AERB can only oversee the civilian facilities. The Bill states that "the Central Government
may, for the purposes of national defence and security, exempt any nuclear material, radioactive
material, facilities, premises and activities; the premises, assets and areas associated with
material and activities from the jurisdiction of the Authority." So, the question is this:
who will oversee the safety and security of the strategic facilities and programmes for
which there is currently no regulatory authority? . The new government should encourage
the DAE to carry out at least the following three amendments: one, the new regulatory
body should be given complete financial, administrative and institutional autonomy from
the Central government and made accountable to Parliament; two, the new regulatory body
should also include persons from outside government such as scientists, civilian auditors,
environmentalists and independent experts; three, given the crucial role that the NSRA
will play in the years to come, the selection of its members should be done by a body comprising
the Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Mudgal committee files report on IPL scandal
Fri, Aug 29, 2014
IPL scandal, The Hindu, sports, mudgal committee, polity,
The Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee on Friday filed a report in the Supreme Court on
its investigation into the roles of ICC president N. Srinivasan and 12 prominent players
in the Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and spot-fixing scandal. The Supreme Court
had in May 2014 appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal to probe the betting allegations against
Mr. Srinivasan, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan and the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals,
Raj Kundra. It was asked to submit its report by the end of August. "The Justice Mudgal
panel had also observed that the allegations of betting and spot-fixing against Raj Kundra,
team owner of Jaipur Cricket Private Ltd. [Rajasthan Royals], need further investigation.
New health policy to address health issues of young modern women Best way to keep in
shape is through Yoga: Dr Vardhan
Thu, Aug 28, 2014
new health policy, social, PIB, science & tech, health,
The New National Health Policy will address the rising incidence of reproductive illnesses
in young urban women. The government is alarmed by the reports of Polycystic Ovarian
Disease, Endometriosis and Fibroids --conditions associated with infertility, which is increasingly
affecting women even in their teens. Reducing maternal mortality, improving nutritional
levels of women from less-privileged backgrounds and reinforcing mother-and-child development
Notes by vineetpunnoose on Page 22
programmes are areas of prime focus, the Health Minister said. In addition, the new national
health policy would address reproductive health, anaemia and numerous other non-communicable
diseases which have their origin in lifestyle problems, he added.
Aadhaar not mandatory to open bank account under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan scheme
Fri, Aug 29, 2014
RuPay, The Hindu, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan scheme, polity, aadhaar,
Account openers will get a RuPay Debit card with an in-built accident insurance cover
of Rs.1 lakh and a pass-book immediately. Opening a savings bank account just got easier
and faster. With the launch of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, customers can walk into
a public or private sector bank with their Aadhaar card and open a zero-balance SB account
instantly. But Aadhaar is not mandatory. A National Payment Corporation of India platform
is being built to enable customers to access their accounts on mobile devices. Account
openers will get a RuPay Debit card with an in-built accident insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh
and a pass-book immediately. An additional Rs. 30,000 life insurance cover will be offered
for those opening the accounts before January 26, 2015. Also, an overdraft facility of up
to Rs. 5,000 will also be permitted for Aadhaar-enabled accounts after satisfactory transaction
in the account for six months.