Big Picture, GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Developments in Arunachal Pradesh: Row over Governor’s role

Watch debate here!

Summary:

Arunachal Pradesh is headed for a constitutional crisis, with the governor’s office accused of favouring the Congress’s rebel MLAs and the BJP in the state. According to experts, Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the winter session of the assembly by a month and issue directions to vote on a resolution calling for the removal of the speaker at the first sitting of the House, with the deputy speaker in the chair, suggests a clear case of gubernatorial overreach.

Background: What happened?

Controversy erupted in the state when Governor Rajkhowa advanced the winter session of the assembly to December 16 from January 14, 2016 which evoked strong protest from the Congress-led state government and also several mass-based organisations. The governor called the session with directives to Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thongdok to preside over it and take up the impeachment motion notice served by 11 BJP and two Independent MLAs against Speaker Nabam Rebia. Previously, the Speaker in an order had disqualified 14 rebel MLAs from the House on the clause of anti-defection.

Present situation:

The Speaker of the state assembly had approached the Gauhati High Court with a writ petition and following which the court stayed till February 1 the Governor’s order to advance the Assembly session, describing the development in Arunachal Pradesh as disturbing.

How Governor defends himself?

The Governor defends himself by saying that he has power to summon the House under Article 174 (Clause 1) of the Constitution and he has the power to summon the House as and when he deems fit.

Supreme Court’s observations in such cases:

Article 175 does empower the Governor to address and send messages to the House or Houses (in states with a Legislative Council). The Governor can send messages “whether with respect to a Bill then pending in the Legislature or otherwise”, and the House “shall with all convenient despatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration”. However, as held by the Supreme Court in many cases, the power of the Governor is not absolute. He is bound to act on the advice of the state cabinet.

In Union of India vs Valluri Basavaiah Chaudhary (1979), a Constitution bench held that the governor is a “constitutional head of the state executive, and has, therefore to act on the advice of the council of ministers”. The governor has the power to summon, prorogue and dissolve the assembly under Article 174, but here again, the apex court has said that he is bound by the advice of the council of ministers.

Observations made by the Gauhati High Court:

  • The Gauhati High Court has suspended the governor’s directive until February 1. The court has observed that the governor, as the constitutional head of the state, is bound to act on the advice of the council of ministers.
  • The high court has come down heavily on Arunachal Pradesh governor JP Rajkhowa saying his action of preponing the Assembly session on the demand of opposition MLAs “taints” the decision and renders it “unworthy of the state’s constitutional head”.
  • The court has also observed that the power of the Governor to send message to the House was with respect to a pending bill in the House and this power under Article 175(2) cannot be utilised to send message on a pending resolution for removal of the Speaker and “hence this appears to be an act of exceeding the jurisdiction.”

Arunachal Pradesh has a legislative assembly of 60 members, and in the last Assembly election in 2014, the Congress emerged with an absolute majority, having bagged 42 seats. The party was followed by the BJP with 11 seats and People’s Party of Arunachal, PPA, with 5. Two independents also returned. The PPA subsequently merged with the ruling Congress, leaving the latter with a comfortable 46 members.

GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Explained-Parliament and its committees

What are parliamentary committees and what do they do?

A lot of parliamentary business gets done in these committees, away from both Houses. The popular perception, that MPs work only when Parliament is in session (three sessions in a year), is a bit uncharitable. Every member of the House is a member of one of the parliamentary committees. The members of these committees discuss every Bill that is referred to them threadbare.

What are the different parliamentary committees?

Broadly, they are of two kinds: ad hoc committees and the permanent committees. Ad hoc committees are appointed for a specific purpose and cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. The principal ad hoc committees are the select and joint committees.

There are some other ad hoc committees too, but they handle different issues such as privileges, ethics, security, government assurances and food management.

Besides, Parliament has permanent committees called the standing committees. Most Bills, after their introduction, get referred to department-related standing committees, which are permanent and regular bodies. There are 24 standing committees, each dealing with specific subjects such as commerce, home affairs, HRD, defence, health etc. Each standing committee has 31 members — 21 from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha — nominated by the Speaker and the Chairman. Their term lasts a year. The idea behind these committees, first set up in 1993, is that with Parliament working for a limited days in a year, Bills, which deal with technical and policy matters, need to be discussed in detail, after taking the view of diverse stakeholders and experts. While referring a Bill to a standing committee, the Chairman or the Speaker may specify the time within which it has to submit its report.

The joint committees and standing committees become defunct after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. A Bill, which has already been referred to a standing committee and passed by one House may be referred to a select committee by another House. That’s what happened in the case of the GST Bill.

When is a Bill referred to a select committee?

Under Rule 125 of the Rajya Sabha Rules and Procedures, any member may move, as an amendment, that a Bill be referred to a select committee and, if the motion is carried, the Bill is referred to such a committee.

What happens after a Bill is referred to a committee?

The committee may invite written representations from the public, interested groups and organisations. It may ask government officials for details of policy considerations behind each clause of the Bill or any other information. After hearing and examining the evidence, the chairman puts the Bill before the members and invites their suggestions and amendments on every clause. The committee then formulates its conclusions and if needed, amends it. The minister and government officials concerned attend the meetings of the committee. The committee cannot alter the scope of the Bill or change it to the extent of rendering it contrary to the principle of the Bill referred to it. However, these committees do have very wide-ranging powers and there are instances of committees redrafting a Bill or even changing its title.

Can a Bill go back to a committee?

The House concerned or both Houses will consider the report of the select committee or the joint committee. They can re-commit the Bill to the same committee or to a new committee with the concurrence of the other House.

What happens after the report of a select or a joint committee is submitted to the House?

After the report is submitted in the House, the member in-charge may make a motion that the Bill, as reported by the committee, be taken up for clause-by-clause consideration. In the case of a report of a standing committee, there is no such motion. The reason is that the report of the standing committee “is based on a broad consensus and has persuasive value to be treated as considered advice”. It is for the minister in-charge of the Bill or any member to move necessary amendments in the House in the light of the recommendations or suggestions made by the committee.

Editorials, GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Extreme justice is often injustice

While television anchors have harangued us about how juvenile crime has risen by 47 per cent, they have failed to inform us that actual juvenile crime is still less than 2 per cent of reported crime figures.

Second, most of it is non-violent crime and often the result of vagrancy. Most importantly, most children in trouble with the law come from extremely poor backgrounds and are often runaways from hunger and abuse at home. Does this most vulnerable section of our society require legislation to keep it from being a menace to the rest of us?

Harsh legislation is a cheap fix for politicians to douse public anger at events. But harsh laws do not diminish the problem, nor do they protect future victims.

  1. TADA [Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act] and POTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] did not end up reducing terrorism, but they ended up empowering lazy policing.
  2. The Act to prevent atrocities on Scheduled Castes often ends up as a vendetta tool in government employment.
  3. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which was introduced to combat dowry-related crimes, has been so abused that the Supreme Court had to step in to regulate its blatant misuse;
  4. Criminalising cheque bouncing has resulted in our criminal courts being flooded with cases from financial institutional lenders and magistrates ending up as recovery agents.
  5.  Yet, we as a society, keep clamouring for harsher laws, which politicians enact to escape being targets of outrage. We fail to heed Irish statesman, author and political theorist Edmund Burke’s dictum that “bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny”.

The new Act has made possible the trial of a young offender as an adult if he or she is accused of a heinous crime. Heinous crime is defined as crime that carries a sentence of imprisonment for seven years or more under any law.

A variety of acts, including non-violent crimes such as forgery, or even crimes of incitement such as sedition, attract a prison term of seven years or more. Under the new law, a stone-pelting teenager in Kashmir or a teenage purveyor of counterfeit currency from Kanyakumari is as likely to be treated as an adult criminal.

From the policeman who makes the arrest, to the Juvenile Justice Board that takes the call on whether to allow prosecution as an adult, large amounts of discretion will necessarily operate. Those who can afford it can and will challenge any decision to prosecute in higher courts. The result is more likely to be greater uncertainty, and lesser justice, as criminal trials get stalled by appeals to superior courts.

“Extreme justice is often injustice,” wrote dramatist Jean Racine, and an India that disempowers the loneliest, the lost and the last will be a much harsher place. Whether safety lies in the path of harshness, or in effective implementation of existing laws, is a call for the republic to take.

Q“The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2015 ignores the reality of juvenile crime and disempowers the most vulnerable section of our society.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Issues related to Police

Following are the issues which need to be discussed in the conference (DGP Conference in Kutch):

  1. Collection and analysis of preventive intelligence:

The most important and challenging task faced by the law enforcement authorities and intelligence agencies today is the collection and analysis of preventive intelligence and follow-up action, especially pertaining to terrorists and insurgents who pose a constant challenge to internal security.

  • While there’s a dire need to improve the capability of the intelligence-collection machinery and upgrade its resources, the intelligence-sharing mechanism leaves a lot to be desired. Our intelligence, collected by state and Central agencies, still sits in silos.
  • Apart from the fact that it’s often not analysed properly, the mania for getting credit drives the organisation having the intel to follow it up even if it doesn’t have the wherewithal.
  • Our efforts in setting up the Natgrid, to build a secure sharing platform, have remained tied in knots despite huge investments.

The DG/IG conference needs to discuss and find a way out of the current situation and lay down a roadmap for establishing a robust intel collection and sharing mechanism.

What needs to be done?

  • The Central intelligence agencies have to strengthen their capabilities and also help states upgrade their machineries for collecting both human and technical intelligence.
  • States also need to pick up on generalised inputs flowing to them and work on specific information, rather than ignoring it all as vague and non-actionable.
  1. Criminal Investigation:

The other important, but badly neglected, aspect of policing is criminal investigation. Standards have declined sharply in the last few years. Unfortunately, the so-called premier investigation agencies like state CIDs and the CBI are no exception.

  • Apart from investigations and conclusions of trials taking an abnormally long time, these tend to fall flat in court, often attracting the judiciary’s wrath. On the other hand, investigation is no longer a coveted job in the states.
  • The fate of cases involving terrorism is no better. Several cases investigated by special units/ agencies have not only ended in acquittals but also resulted in courts posing serious questions as to the veracity of the evidence presented and the procedures adopted.

The directors general and inspectors general of police attending the conference need to discuss and debate this situation to find urgent remedies. They also need to examine existing laws and procedures and suggest modifications and measures for improvement.

  1. Vacancies:

Central investigation agencies like the CBI, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate continue to have huge vacancies, as officers from states are not willing to join and sister agencies are staffed with officers from the Central armed police forces.

  • Even the apex court’s direction to fill these posts and experiments like additional remuneration have not yielded the desired results. This is unfortunate, and it can’t be allowed to persist.
  • The conference may discuss whether a system whereby certain posts in the investigative wings of states are financed by the Centre and states are obligated to depute a fixed number of officers to Central agencies could be the way out.
  • These officers may revert to the states after five or six years, taking with them valuable investigative experience.
  • A system of fast-track promotions — based on merit determined by a limited competitive exam — for officers recruited at the sub-inspector level, who have put in a certain minimum amount of service, may be another solution.

Even, most states have a huge number of unfilled vacancies. They tend to fill these on the eve of elections and train personnel in facilities arranged in an ad-hoc manner.

  1. Outdated arms and equipments:

Most state police forces continue to use obsolete equipment and arms, and lack the latest technology that would help in investigation and intelligence-gathering.

  • State governments haven’t considered it their responsibility to apportion a part of their budgets to upgrade police capabilities, even though law and order is their domain.
  • They need to realise that investing in better law enforcement will yield dividends in the form of more economic investment and development.
  1. Lack of Organisation:

There are no organisations to provide the police forces with tested and dependable specifications on equipment and technology. They are generally dependent on vendors, who often sell outdated or not-so-suitable technology.

  • Though the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has been tasked with this responsibility, it hasn’t been able to fulfil this need.
  • The conference needs to discuss a mechanism, under the BPR&D and with the involvement of organisations like the DRDO, the IITs, IISc, etc, to help decide on specifications for equipment as well as identify and develop the latest technology to be inducted at regular intervals.
  • IIT Bombay’s effort to set up the National Centre of Excellence in Technology for Internal Security, with assistance from the department of information technology is a right step.
  1. Lack of proper training:

Well-trained and motivated human resources are key to any police force’s success. But, most training academies are poorly staffed and often don’t have the necessary facilities. Institutions need to be upgraded in terms of facilities, equipment and technology.

  • There’s a need for advanced personnel planning and commensurate training facilities.
  • The best officers must be encouraged to join as trainers. It must be mandatory for personnel, including officers, to undergo in-service training before promotion.
  1. Involvement of state administrators:

While the DG/IG conference is attended by the Union home minister and senior ministry officials, it doesn’t involve chief secretaries and senior officers of the state home departments.

  • This is peculiar since law and order and investigation are state subjects. Any recommendations or decisions arrived at cannot be implemented without the express support of state administrations.

Conclusion:

The state police forces and the Central armed police forces have been facing several problems and confronting new challenges. To tackle these, a dynamic national strategy and farsighted policies are required that go beyond state boundaries. The DG/IG conference should, therefore, serve as a platform for serious thinking on issues confronting the police. It is necessary to provide impetus to senior officers to make an objective assessment of where they stand today and what they are required to do in the next five years to meet the complex challenges of policing and internal security.

GS-2, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Misdiagnosis of the Rajya Sabha malfunction

Mohammad Tahir representing Bihar in the Constituent Assembly during the debate on the Constitution on July 28, 1947 said that

“the Upper House is a creation of imperialism” and argued that independent India did not need it.

To which Gopalaswami Ayyangar, replied that “the role of the Upper House is merely to delay legislation which might be the outcome of passions of the moment until the passions have subsided”. It was obvious even to our founding fathers that the “House of People” (Lok Sabha) can fall prey to passionate rhetoric and thus felt a need for a “House of Elders” (Rajya Sabha) to instil calm.

Next is this false narrative of indirectly elected members of the Rajya Sabha having veto powers over the members of the Lok Sabha who are direct representatives of the people.

In our first-past-the-post electoral system where a political party can form a government without the majority of citizens voting for it, legislation passed by the Lok Sabha may not necessarily represent the views of the majority. It then becomes even more pertinent and critical to have an active and vibrant Rajya Sabha.

That the Rajya Sabha would an indirectly elected body and would act as a balance to certain whimsical legislation of the people’s representatives in the Lok Sabha was a conscious design of our founding fathers. If anything, this need has only been exacerbated with creeping majoritarianism in the current Lok Sabha. The inability to build consensus by a ruling party cannot be disguised as opposition obstruction.

The need to build consensus in both Houses of Parliament to pass legislation should be the guiding principle of our parliamentary democracy.

Then, there is the argument that the Anti-Defection Act, which immediately disqualifies any member of Parliament who either changes political parties mid-way or disobeys the whip of her party, aggravates the chances of a dysfunctional Parliament.

The core principle behind the Anti-Defection Act is to prevent horse-trading on the floor of the House and penalise members who succumb to temptations from opposition parties. This principle still remains very relevant for a large, diverse polity such as ours, with a large number of regional parties.

The Lok Sabha recently held a discussion on a private member’s bill to de-criminalise certain Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. There was no whip issued by the major parties and members voted according to their choices, many times contrary to their party colleagues.

The choice of when to issue a whip rests with the party. The Anti-Defection Act in itself cannot be made a villain for an internal matter of political parties over degrees of freedom to be given to their members for voting in Parliament.

Scope for reform

There is clearly a need for new rules to prevent productivity of the entire House being held hostage by a few members rushing to the Well. There has to be an outlet for opposition members to voice their protests without disrupting productivity. One suggestion is to have designated day(s) in a week on which the opposition can raise, discuss and debate issues rather than the government dictating the order of business every day of the session. There can be innovative ways to create a framework within which the right to protest is not taken away but is done constructively.

Read Less check and more balance, another good article

Q.  “The Upper House is a creation of imperialism and independent India did not need it.” Critically comment.

GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Court-monitored CBI probes: Is judiciary overstepping its brief?

Observation made by Parliamentary Committee —

  • Parliamentary committee has raised a question on increasing number of court-monitored CBI probes. It states apex courts have started performing the functions of the lowest rung of criminal justice system, taking over the role of a magistrate.
  • At present, many high-profile cases like 2G spectrum case, Vyapam Scam, Coal Block Allocation Scam, Virbhadra Singh corruption probe, Shardha Chit Fund Scam etc. are being monitored by SC and several other HC.
  • Committee also slammed establishment of special CBI courts in states saying it is leading to dual judicial system which is not contemplated under Constitution.

Watch Rajya Sabha TV Debate here

Why do we need monitoring of Judiciary?

  • Investigating agencies like CID, CBI and others are under constant pressure from political masters and this affects the investigation. If SC-led monitoring didn’t happened, cases like 2G, Coal Block Allocation Scam etc. would never have come to the surface. Credibility of investigation agencies is therefore always under doubt w/o monitoring of courts.
  • Moreover, when a leader of opposition comes under scan of investigation, his party demands for independent monitoring of investigation under apex courts.

Why there must be no monitoring by Judiciary?

  • Under Article 22 of Indian Constitution, right to free & impartial trial has been given to the accused and he is considered to be innocent until proved guilty, i.e., a presumption of innocence is given to him to constitutionally. For this judiciary must be totally neutral and must give fair chance to the accused to prove his innocence.
  • But if investigation of a case is started under apex courts, this infringes the right of accused as under same judiciary whole investigation has happened and same judiciary will try him in the end.
  • Parliamentary Committee observed if monitoring, ordering of investigation kept on happening under apex courts there is clear danger of inversion of pyramidical structure of governance provided under the constitution.
  • Therefore, monitoring under apex courts cannot be the institutional answer to independent monitoring of investigation.

 

Way forward —

  • Power given to courts for interfering, ordering and monitoring the investigation by CBI or other is institutional power and has been given by parliament. But daily-basis of monitoring must be checked as it not only infringes the right of accused but also over-burdens the judiciary. Judiciary can’t monitor every investigation.
  • Therefore, we need a constitutional answer and Lokpal can be the answer for monitoring the investigation, free from political intervention.
  • In US, a different kind of approach is being followed. After Watergate Scam, US broughtIndependent Counsel Act in which Federal Court establishes an Independent Counsel which will be responsible for investigation and prosecution. Funds for the independent Counsel are provided by Federal Court.
  • For independent and impartial investigation we need independence of police from political masters. Police Reforms has been ordered by SC in 2006 but unfortunately nothing has been brought yet. Therefore, we need to correct our executive machinery.

Question

‘Now-a-days judicial activism has become a common phenomenon. Increasing number of Court-monitored investigation has raised few questions’. Do you think judicial activism of this kind is acceptable? Suggest measures for free and fair investigation.

GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

SC upholds law fixing edu criteria for panchayat polls

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the Haryana government’s law mandating minimum educational qualifications as a prerequisite for contestants in panchayat polls.

The order validates a similar law passed by Rajasthan, the first state to do so. In December 2014, Rajasthan brought in the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2014, which provides for a minimum qualification of Class X for contesting the zilla parishad or panchayat samiti polls and Class VIII to contest sarpanch elections.

In the scheduled area of a panchayat, a contestant should have passed Class V to become a sarpanch.

In August, the Bihar assembly also passed amendments making it mandatory for candidates contesting panchayat polls to have toilets in their homes.

Eligibility criteria:

The other grounds for disqualification from contesting polls under the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 are: -failure to pay arrears to any primary agriculture co-operative society or agriculture co-operative banks, failure to pay electricity bill arrears and not having a functional toilet at home and not charged by a court for a grave criminal offence as criteria to be eligible to contest local body elections. These are in addition to insolvency and being of unsound mind, disqualifications that are specified in the Constitution.

(In 2013, the apex court had ruled that members of Parliament who are convicted of a criminal offence shall be disqualified from holding office or contesting polls subsequently.)

In contrast, the Haryana law only sets being charged as a criminal offence as the standard.

For General candidates: Matriculation pass (10th pass)

For women candidates: 8th standard

For Dalit candidates: 5th standard

This Haryana law creates “two classes of voters,” that is, “those who are qualified by virtue of their educational accomplishment to contest the elections to the panchayats and those who are not.”

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Justice Chelameswar, who authored the verdict, reasons there is nothing “irrational or illegal or unconnected” if the law prescribes minimum educational qualification for candidates. Simply put, the court feels that basic education would “enable the candidates to effectively discharge duties of the panchayat.”

“It is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration ,”

The court completely agreed with Attorney-General  that the law was meant to elect “model representatives for local self government for better administrative efficiency.”

It held that the right to vote and right to contest in an election are “constitutional” rights but it cannot be disputed either that both the rights can be regulated and curtailed by the appropriate legislature directly. “Every person who is entitled to vote is not automatically entitled to contest for every office under the Constitution. Constitution itself imposes limitations on the right to contest depending upon the office. It also authorises the prescription of further disqualifications with respect to the right to contest,”

The court, however, has recognized the right to vote and right to contest in an election are Constitutional rights, deviating from a 2003 decision in the Javed and others vs State of Haryana case.

It pointed out that when the Constitution itself stipulated certain disqualifications such as mental fitness and insolvency for occupying some offices, it cannot be said that more disqualifications by a competent legislative body would not be permissible if it does not lead to a situation where holding of elections to these various bodies becomes completely impossible.

In terms of ‘toilet’ as criteria, Court says “If people still do not have a toilet, it is not because of their poverty but because of their lacking the requisite will. One of the primary duties of any civic body is to maintain sanitation within its jurisdiction. Those who aspire to get elected to those civic bodies and administer them must set an example for others,”

“To the said end, if the legislature stipulates that those who are not following basic norms of hygiene are ineligible to become administrators of the civic body and disqualifies them as a class from seeking election to the civic body, such a policy, in our view, can neither be said to create a class based on unintelligible criteria,”

Under Articles 40 and 246(3), the Constitution grants powers to the states to make laws to enable the functioning of self-government units.

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Criticism: “The intent is right but other scenarios, other factors also need to be looked into,”. Wisdom plays a greater role than education at local governance level, especially villages. Even in toilet construction, the problematic area is governance. There needs to be more reforms before such strict minimum qualifications are put in place.

If people are not educated, then its not their fault but it shows state’s failure to implement DPSP in true spirit.

If people in rural areas are indebted, then its not their personal choice or individual preferences but its a structural problem as crop failure, deficient monsoon, disaster in form of excessive rains, drought etc can bring any one under indebtedness category.

Many experts including noted civil rights activist Aruna Roy have argued that such a move by the states will “punish” those already discriminated against, by not allowing them a chance to contest elections and influence decision-making.

State legislative assemblies and even Parliament are filled with members lacking basic education. Hence, if such a filter based on minimum education qualification were to be introduced at higher levels of government, a large number of members would be staring at disqualification and being barred from re-election.

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Editorials, GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Fundamental duties’s role in our polity

Any debate on the Constitution naturally focuses on the historic significance of the primacy of the fundamental rights of citizens. These rights placed India at the forefront of nations that cherish human rights. The historic significance of these rights lies in the fact that a people who suffered colonial oppression and the loss of basic rights for a long time reasserted themselves with a rare zeal in a constitution they gave unto themselves. It’s equally important that these fundamental rights were not limited to the celebrated freedoms under Article 19(1) and the right to life and liberty, but were extended to other parts like the freedom of religion also. The Constitution guarantees that these rights will be protected from any encroachment.

No doubt fundamental rights are crucial to the survival of a vibrant democracy, there’s an equally important aspect for a polity to survive, citizens should have a high sense of duty. The Constitution-makers didn’t think it necessary to list out the duties of citizens because they couldn’t have perceived a society that ignores such duties. Through 42nd AA, 1976, Fundamental duties were added in Part IV-A of Indian Constitution (Article 51-A).

A close look will reveal these duties are fundamental to the survival of this nation as an organised polity. Some of the core duties need to be mentioned to illustrate the point: It shall be the duty of every citizen to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our struggle for freedom; to promote harmony and common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectoral diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women; to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture; to develop a scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform; to protect and improve the natural environment, etc.

In 1998, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government had appointed the Justice J.S. Verma Committee “to operationalise the suggestions to teach fundamental duties to the citizens of the country”. This committee submitted its report containing a number of recommendations for the government to act on. There are schemes being implemented by the ministry of home affairs, HRD ministry, the environment ministry, etc, to promote the teaching of fundamental duties.

We are living in a period in which Indian society is being subjected to unhealthy and dangerous pulls and pressures. The school environment and the social milieu are such that children learn all the wrong things about each other and become victims of social prejudices. The Justice Verma Committee had suggested changes in school and teacher education curricula to incorporate the teaching of fundamental duties, in a serious way, to children. If children learn these in the classroom, they will grow up with a sense of duty imprinted on their minds.

India has a composite culture. Every citizen has a duty to preserve it. Every race that inhabited this land has contributed to the development of this culture. The great rishis evolved a global perspective on man — “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” sums up that perspective. They believed that ultimately, there is one truth, but wise men say it differently (ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti). This non-sectarian, secular and universalist perspective of the ancient rishis should form the core of citizens’ duties.

The prime minister has rightly said our children should be taught the Constitution. Yes, and more than any other thing, they should be taught the citizen’s duties. The Supreme Court, too, has said that since duties are obligatory for citizens, the state should strive to achieve the same goal. Rights and duties have to exist together. Rights without duties will lead to anarchy.

Relation between part III and part IV of the Indian constitution:
In Inre Kerala Education bill

The Supreme Court observed “though the directive principles can not override the fundamental rights, nevertheless, in determining the scope and ambit of fundamental rights the court could not entirely ignore the directive principle but should adopt the principle of harmonious construction and should attempt to give effect to both as much as possible.

The Supreme Court began to assert that there is “no conflict on the whole” between the fundamental rights and the directive principles. They are complementary and supplementary to each other.

In Chandrabhavan and Kesavananda Bharati cases inaugurated a new era of integrationist approach which could emphasis the under pinning of interrelated value of part III and part IV, Kesavananda Bharati’s case stood for penetration of the notion of distributive justice under Article 39(b) and (c) into the property relations by upholding the constitutionality of Article 31c. the legislative contributions through agrarian and economic reforms, labor welfare and other social justice statutes have by focusing on social welfare, ultimately enhanced the worth of fundamental rights. Judicial review, by removing unreasonable provisions monitored this process. In practice, the interconnections of rights are more sensitized when the government takes the directive principles of state policy seriously.

In Minerva Mills Limited v/s Union of India
The court observed that the constitution was founded on the bed-rock of balance between part III and part IV. To give absolute primacy to one over the other was to disturb the harmony of the constitution. This harmony and balance between fundamental rights and the directive principles is an essential feature of the basic structure of the constitution. Both the fundamental and directive principles of the state policy are embodying the philosophy of our constitution, the philosophy of justice social economic and political. They are the two wheels of the chariot as an aid to make social and economic democracy a truism.

In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v/s Union of India
The approach of sticking to strict legalism in the implementation of laws enforcing directive principles, which in turn promote fundamental rights, has increased the role of directive principles in the inter-relationship doctrine.

The integrative approach towards fundamental rights and directive principles or that the both should be interpreted and read together has now come to hold the field. It has now become a judicial strategy to read fundamental rights along with Directive principles with a view to define the scope and the ambit of the former. Mostly, directive principles have been used to broaden and to give depth to some fundamental rights and to imply some more rights therein for the people over and what are expressly stated in the fundamental rights.

By reading article 21 with the directive principles, the Supreme Court has expanded the horizon of article 21 and derived there from different rights of the citizen. Some of them are;

1)Right to life includes the right to enjoy pollution free water, air and environments. The court has derived this right by reading article 21 with article 48A.
2)Right to health has been recognized as fundamental rights of the workers under article 21.
3)Right to education under article 21A is to be understood with reference to directive principles contained in article 41 and 45.

Thank you!

 

GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Story of Delayed Justice

India faces 23% deficit of judges across all courts:

India is short of almost 5,000 judges, leading to delayed judgments and pending cases in courts, an IndiaSpend analysis of data has found.

The average ratio of cases per judge in India, based on the sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court (SC), the high courts (HC) and the subordinate courts and pending cases at the end of 2013 (an average of three years) was 1,625

India has 17 judges per million people as against a recommended 50 judges per million people.

The Supreme Court had 28 judges while there were 633 high court judges as on August 1, 2015. download

The high courts are missing 384 (38%) of 1,017 judges, as on August 1, 2015. The subordinate courts are 4,580 (23%) short out of a total of 20,214, as on December 31, 2014.

In terms of absolute numbers, the Allahabad High Court has the most vacancies–84 of the total approved strength of 160–among the 24 high courts.

The Chhattisgarh HC faces the maximum deficit of judges to approved strength—59%, followed by the Allahabad HC (53%), the Karnataka HC (48%), the Himachal Pradesh HC (46%) and the Uttarakhand HC (45%). The Kerala HC, the Meghalaya HC, the Sikkim HC and the Tripura HC are at full strength.

The judges’ strength in lower courts increased from 17,715 at the end of 2012 to 20,214 in December, 2014.

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Editorials, GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Secularism debatable ?

It is indeed true that the Constitution originally had no reference to secularism, and that the word was introduced only in 1976. Yet, in terms of the emphasis it gave to religious freedom, freedom of conscience, equality and non-discrimination, the Constitution was indeed imbued with the secular spirit. The 42nd Amendment merely made it explicit.

First of all, what does secularism in the Indian Constitution mean?

There is no easy answer to this question and the definition cannot be restricted to textual interpretation alone. Simply put, Secularism is a constitutional value that seeks to manage India’s diverse and plural society, in an atmosphere of cohesiveness of national purpose.

  • Secularism is implicit in the entire constitutional framework. Articles 14, 15, 16, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 325— all make for a constitutional architecture which is devoid of any religious preference whatsoever.
  • There are however provisions which seek to enforce equality within the Hindu religion in Articles 17 and 25(2)(b). Deference to Hindu sentiments on cow slaughter is also provided for in Article 48, as is the pious hope for a uniform civil code in Article 44.
  • In Article 25(2)(a), we can find constitutional permission for the state to regulate or restrict “any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice”.
  • Taken as a whole package, the constitutional vision of secularism is one of principled equidistance from all religious matters, while at the same time regulating its practice in a manner consistent with the demands of a modern society.

Thus, it is fallacious to argue that the original Constitution as adopted, enacted and given to ourselves on November 26, 1949, was not a secular document. The inclusion in the Preamble of the words “socialist” and “secular” by the 42nd Amendment on January 3, 1977, only headlined what was already present in the original text of the Constitution.

Debate over its inclusion in the constituent assembly:

Professor K.T. Shah wanted to include the words “secular, federal, socialist” in Article 1 of the Constitution. He wanted to include it in the constitution to guard against any possibility of misunderstanding or misapprehension.

  • But declining the proposal, Dr. Ambedkar said, “What was already explicit in the Constitution need not be reiterated.”

Secularism as part of Basic Structure:

  • On April 24, 1973, the Supreme Court, with its then full strength of 13 judges, ruled in the Kesavananda Bharati case that secularism was part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • It also held that elements constituting the basic structure were beyond Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution.
  • The court reiterated this principle in 1994 in the S.R. Bommai case when dealing with the challenge to the dismissal of four Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled State governments after the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
  • Despite the Constitution’s secular nature being held to be part of its basic structure, matters did not rest. During the Emergency came the 42nd Amendment on January 3, 1977. Apart from many significant changes otherwise, it resurrected Prof. Shah’s cosmetic suggestion and inserted the word “secular” in the Preamble.
  • After the Emergency, the 44th Amendment by the Janata government undid most of the substantial damage achieved by the 42nd Amendment. But it, too, chose to preserve the addition of the words “socialist” and “secular” to the Preamble.

Thus, it can be said that Secularism is inherent in the basic structure of the national book, and is beyond the power of any transient parliamentary majority to efface or abridge.